Christmas Novella Spotlight: Northern Hearts

Today I welcome Laurie Wood back to my blog. Laurie is author of the romantic suspense series, Heroes of the Tundra, set in Canada’s northern wilderness.

As we begin our interview today, Laurie, there is snow on the ground here in Michigan. A perfect setting for talking about your Christmas novella.

Let’s start by telling us a little bit about yourself.

I’m a military spouse and the proud mom of two special needs adults. I’m the author of the Heroes of the Tundra series with Anaiah Press, and my fourth book in the series, NORTHERN REDEMPTION, will come out in 2023. When I’m not writing, I’m usually spinning my yarn, knitting, or hanging out with my two dogs.

What is your novella, Northern Hearts, about?

NORTHERN HEARTS is my Christmas book in the series. The heroine inherits a hotel/restaurant in a small town in Canada’s northern wilderness. She and the chef have 30 days to work together to decide who stays, or who goes, or can they work together to continue her aunt’s legacy? It’s set in the real-life town of Churchill, Manitoba, which is the Polar Bear Capitol of the world. And yes, there’s a polar bear in the story!

My publisher, Anaiah Press, rebranded the series this year and designed new covers to feature my handsome heroes for each book. I’m excited to share the new cover for NORTHERN HEARTS below:

That’s a great cover. Very intriguing and what a handsome hero!

Let’s talk about your writing. Do you have a day job? If so, how do you find time in your day to write?

I’m lucky to be “retired” so that my primary focus is my writing. However, I’ve struggled with several significant health issues these past two years and am still getting a handle on them. I carve out writing time first thing in the morning when I’m fresh after breakfast. I’m not one of those people who can get up at 5 a.m. and be productive! I need my two cups of coffee and a good meal in me before the creative Muse hits.

Who was your favorite character to create?

This heroine, Kali McIntyre, was so much fun to create! I made her a rich girl but gave her enough spunk and nerve that she wasn’t spoiled or a stereotype. She has her own dreams and makes her own decisions, even if they’re not welcomed by everyone else in the story. She learns from her mistakes. And she wasn’t looking for love, which I think a lot of twenty-something’s worry about too much, so when she found it, it was that much sweeter.

Are you a plotter or a panster?

I’ve learned over the past five years to become a plotter. I come up with my characters first, and then figure out what their basic story is going to be, in broad strokes. Plotting out a simple outline and hitting the main turning points gives me a guideline to write towards on those days when my health problems are holding me back.

Also, even my publisher (who knows me) likes to get a synopsis of the book before offering a contract, so learning how to write a good synopsis is a wonderful skill to have in your toolbox. That means plotting your story out from beginning to end.

With NORTHERN HEARTS, I knew they had 30 days to figure out what they were going to do in regard to keeping or splitting the business between them, and I had 30 days to get them to fall in love. It was a fun problem to solve and I enjoyed writing it even though it didn’t have the danger elements my usual books entail.

Please share with us your favourite excerpt from NORTHERN HEARTS:

“He stopped himself from knocking on the closed office door, and entered, letting the door bang on the wall. Just enough to get Kali’s attention. Tripod settled into his corduroy dog bed under his desk.

Kali, however, was chattering away on the phone, her right hand bouncing up and down on the desk blotter, her entire body vibrating with excitement. When she hung up, she leaned back in the swivel chair and crowed out loud.

“Woot! I just made an order for one hundred pounds of veal and pork for Friday, November 30th!”

“Veal and pork? From where? And why?” Jake walked to the coffeemaker by the window and put in a dark roast pod, slamming down the lid. “Those are two of the most expensive meats you can buy, especially this time of year.”

Visions of their red balance sheet for December’s year end danced in front of his eyes.

“I know,” Kali smiled up at the ceiling, swiveling her chair side to side. “We’re going to make old-fashioned French tourtières – I have a fantastic Québécoise recipe – and if it’s too expensive, we’ll just cut the boar sausages from the menu. And the elk meatloaf.” She tapped her pen on her teeth. “I think we’ll add some Beef Wellington, too. Or, what do you think about using salmon instead?”

“You’re actually asking me for input?” He knew he sounded beyond irritated, but he’d never see her so wound up. Okay, she looked pretty this morning, like a cross between a princess and a New York power executive, with her dazzling blue eyes, blonde hair, and the new icy-blue fleece top she’d bought from Ruby’s. For the life of him, he’d never seen such a small woman with so much kinetic energy.

“I want to add avocados to the salade du l’hiver, as well.” She scribbled on a piece of paper.

“Avocados? We can’t afford avocados…Listen, first we need to talk about the Nativity sets.”

Her head bent over her work, she said, “What about them?”

He muttered a prayer under his breath and took a swig of scalding coffee. He noted the can of diet pop beside her computer. Huh. She’d given in to her caffeine addiction and coughed up the twenty-six dollars for a case of pop.

“Those Nativity sets are a Great Northern Lodge Christmas tradition. We have to put them out.”

“Why?” She kept writing, head down.

“Because, that’s what Cora did every year for the past forty-odd years, and people expect to see them. They were special to her. Little kids love coming to see them and touch them – some of them, anyway – and the staff is upset.

“The staff is upset? Whatever for?” Now, her head was up, those dazzling blue eyes staring at him.

“I believe you used some fighting words, such as old-fashioned, and tacky, and too religious.” He took another sip of hot coffee. Those eyes were killers. He wondered if she knew how attractive she was, or if someone with all her resources had known it since she was ten.”

©Laurie Wood 2019

You can buy NORTHERN HEARTS herehttps://amzn.to/33CFJeE

Thank you for being my guest today, Laurie. What’s next for you as an author?

This is Book 2 of my Heroes of the Tundra series. NORTHERN PROTECTOR, Book 3, came out last year.

Readers can keep their eyes out for NORTHERN REDEMPTION, Book 4, which will be out some time in 2023. It’s the story of Rory Gallagher, the brother of heroine Joy Gallagher from NORTHERN PROTECTOR. He owns a helicopter touring company in Churchill, Manitoba, and ends up trying to survive a crash with Lise Dumont, a Conservation Officer. They crash, get kidnapped, learn to do wilderness surgery, and have all kinds of fun!

I have a couple of other projects under way, and we’ll see where they land.

Where can readers find you online?

Readers can find me online here:

Website:  https://www.lauriewoodauthor.com 

Sign up for my monthly newsletter there!

   Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/lauriewoodreadersgroup

Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/LaurieJeanWood

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Meet the Author: Suzie Waltner

Good Morning. My guest today is Suzie Waltner, author of Midnight Blue, a Christian romance.

Suzie, thank you for being my guest today. Let’s start with you telling us a little bit about yourself.

I am a busy single gal (although, I’m probably past the age where I can get away with “gal,” LOL!) who writes in her free time. During the day I work in the mortgage division of a large bank. I love my church and my group of friends, dog sit for a few people, and love watching my Predators (National Hockey League) play.

What is Midnight Blue about?

Ten years after Jake Turnquist broke up with his high school sweetheart in order to pursue his music career, he crosses paths with her again. Scarlett Sykes now has a daughter, but Jake is interested in renewing a friendship with her. What he doesn’t know is that Harmony is his daughter.

When he discovers the truth, Jake scrambles to orchestrate a way to spend time with Scarlett and Harmony—the family he’s always wanted but never knew he had. He once gave Scarlett up to pursue his music. What will he have to surrender to win her back?

So tell us, Suzie, what was the catalyst for your interest in writing?

I don’t have the typical story where I loved writing from a young age. I did write, but I didn’t really think much of it. In fact, I thought I wanted to be a veterinarian up until my second year of college when I passed out during a sheep surgery. It was after that little episode I decided that I wasn’t cut out for the vet life.

Long story short, I ended up taking a lot of detours in college and ended up with an English degree, but I wanted to be an editor, not a writer (although I did take some creative writing classes).

Fast forward several years and a co-worker had posted something on Facebook about NaNoWriMo. When I saw her at work the next week, I told her I’d always wanted to give it a try, but it was usually halfway into November when I saw people talking about it. This particular year, I saw it in October. My co-worker encouraged me to do it, and I did. And then I kept writing and discovered I enjoyed it.

Do you have a day job? If so, how do you find time in your day to write?

I do have a 40-hour-a-week day job, so most of my writing is done on the weekends when I can dedicate large chunks of time to my stories. I love writing sprints, but they’re usually not running when I am writing so I will find a pre-recorded video or two on YouTube because it makes me feel like I’m writing with others plus those sprints provide for short breaks. Isn’t it funny the mind games we can play with ourselves to get something done?

Who was your favorite character to create?

Harmony (Jake and Scarlett’s daughter) was a fun addition to the story. It’s through her we see how differently Jake and Scarlett react to their daughter. She also adds some fun elements because kids are unpredictable.

Are you a plotter or a panster?

I am 100% a pantser. I’ve tried to plot a few times, but the characters refuse to follow my outline, so I’ve learned to let them steer the story. The one downside of being a pantser is that edits are more intense since I don’t have all the plot points worked out at the beginning of the book.

What does your family think of your writing?

My family is extremely supportive of my writing. I am the only one of my siblings (one brother and one sister) who is a reader, but both of them order my books. And my parents are always recommending my books to others or picking up another copy to give away.

Are you part of a writing group?

Yes, I am part of several writing groups. I belong to a couple of the big organizations like ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) and Faith, Hope, and Love Christian Writers. I am also involved on more local levels as the current president of the ACFW Middle Tennessee chapter and I have two critique partners I work with weekly. I also love encouraging people who are interested in writing or new to it.

What’s next for you as an author?

I am currently writing book three in the Love in Color series while awaiting edits for book two. Readers are introduced to the entire band in Midnight Blue, and each member is getting their own story over the four-book series.

Thank you for being my guest today, Suzie.

Before we go, where can readers find you online?

Website: https://suziewaltner.com

Newsletter: https://suziewaltner.com/join-my-newsletter/

Facebook: https://facebook.com/suziewaltnerwrites

Instagram: https://instagram.com/suziewaltner

Twitter: https://twitter.com/nashpredsfan

Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/suzie-waltner

Buy Link:

Meet the Author: Rachelle Paige Campbell

My guest today is Rachelle Paige Campbell, author of Her One in a Million, a Christian romance. Rachelle, thank you for joining me today. Let’s start with you telling us a little bit about yourself.

I write contemporary romance novels filled with heart and hope. I believe love and laughter can change lives, and every story needs a happily ever after. I earned my masters’ degree in Fine and Decorative Arts from the Sotheby’s Institute of Art in London. I love to include Art History elements in my novels so I have an excuse to research. This book was a great opportunity for that!

What is Her One in a Million about?

While renovating a historic mansion, Samantha Holt discovers three hidden vases. If she sells the pottery with her family’s auction business, she can bring in a commission for her parents and help get funds for the mansion’s restoration. She calls an expert from Chicago, Zach Reynolds, for his opinion and is shocked that he wants to take the pieces back to the city. They both need the pottery for professional reasons, but the situation is complicated by their growing admiration and feelings for each other.

That’s a great story, Rachelle. Now for some questions about you:

Are you a night owl or morning person?

I am a morning person through and through! I love to get up and get going every day. My kids are early risers, too. This was an added complication for getting words in when they were little. Now that they are both in school, however, it’s perfect. After they are out the door, I can focus on my projects for a few hours and get a lot of dedicated time for writing in during the week.

Do you reward yourself when a book is finished? If so, what is your favorite treat?

I don’t always reward myself when a book is finished because sometimes I don’t have time or opportunity. But my favorite treat is a nice manicure. It’s lovely to get a hand massage and a new coat of nail polish after my fingers have been hard at work typing a story.

Were there any surprises that came up as you wrote your story?

I love historical romance and historical fiction. I have read a lot of both and really enjoy the genre. When I first started writing, I attempted a Regency era novel but the book fell flat. My writer voice is too modern. I had fun on this project creating a historical journal. I finally had a chance to incorporate a tribute to the genre but in a way that was genuine to the story. It was a wonderful surprise to me as I started crafting the novel.

Who was the first person you allowed to read your completed book?

The first people to read any of my completed books are my writing friends. Known as the Panera Supper Club, from the pre-Covid days when we would meet at Panera and write, I am blessed to be part of a very supportive group of incredibly talented, hard-working, and kind authors. We write different genres but are cheerleaders for each other’s work.

What book or author has inspired you the most?

I loved the Anne of Green Gables books so much as a kid. I continue to be inspired by Anne. I think I’ve been trying to be Anne Shirley my entire life. What I’ve always loved most is that she makes mistakes, takes responsibility, and learns from the experience.

What’s next for you as an author?

The fourth book in the Home to Harmony series is coming! I’m not sure when, yet, but it’s a Christmas book and ties the series together in an unexpected way. I’m really excited to share it with readers. I have loved writing these books and am so appreciative of the positive response.

Thank you for being my guest today, Rachelle. Before we go, where can readers find out more about you and your books?

Bookbub: https://bit.ly/3jKH9s0

Amazon Author Page: https://amzn.to/3KRvKCy

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/rachellepaigebooks/

Newsletter: eepurl.com/dEjzZz

Website: https://rachellepaigecampbell.com/

Buy links:

Amazon: https://amzn.to/3U9lqep

Barnes & Noble: https://bit.ly/3U7d6f7

Kobo: https://bit.ly/3qB2yr1

Apple iBooks: https://apple.co/3BF8xl7

Meet the Author: Christina Sinisi

My guest today is author Christina Sinisi. She is here to tell us about the recently released third book in her Summer Creek series, Why They Call It Falling.

Christina, let’s start with telling us a little bit about yourself.

Thank you, Carol, for having me as a guest on your blog!

Why They Call It Falling is my fourth published book and I’m very proud of this one because, more than any of my other books, the story weds my two selves—psychologists and romance writer. I am a psychology professor and department chair in my day job.

My husband and I will be married thirty-six years as of August. We have two grown children and a crazy cat, Chessie Mae.

I have several cats myself, so I understand a crazy one.

I absolutely love this cover photo. What is Why They Call It Falling about?

Formerly the wild child of three sisters, Emma Marano grew up to be a single mom working two jobs, estranged from her mother, and lying to her friends. She’d told everyone that her daughter’s father wanted nothing to do with his child, but her own inability to deal with her mistakes and shame led to the biggest lie of her life.

Years later, Justin Lee stumbles upon what turns out to be a daughter he never knew he had. Angry and confused, he insists on having a relationship with his daughter, but to do so, he’ll need to rebuild some sort of relationship with Emma, too. As he gets to know his daughter—and Emma again—he soon realizes that his biggest mistake was leaving her all those years ago. Now, Justin has to decide if he can see past her flaws and forgive her lies, and together, they’ll have to work to reclaim their love and a faith in each other and in God, or they risk losing something precious in the process.

What is the inspiration behind your story?

Why They Call It Falling is the third book in the Summer Creek series, or it can be read as a stand-alone. The inspiration came from the first book—Emma did some pretty hard-to-understand things and I needed to understand why she did them. Everything went from there—why did she seemingly abandon a daughter she loved, why was her daughter’s father not part of the story, and how did she end up with him at the end of the first book? Hmmm…

You lead a very busy life. How do you find time in your day to write?

I am a psychology professor and department chair. The honest answer is, sometimes I don’t have time to write. Then, I forgive myself and know that I will get back to it when I can. In the summer, and on breaks, I write as much as I can. My advice to anyone is to be patient with yourself.

Are you a night owl or morning person?

I almost didn’t answer this one, but maybe I should. I have actually heard some people say that they thought all creative people stay up late at night. I don’t. I’m one of those regimented people—I need to be up in the morning to exercise and get to work so I calculate eight hours back to make sure I get the right amount of sleep. Then, I write when I can. If I need to write in the evening because that’s all I’ve got, I do. In the summers, writing becomes my job (once I get these darned annual reports done for the university). I get up in the morning, eat breakfast, shower, and then write as if it was my paying job. At best, I set word count goals. My best ever was 25 pages in a day, but my more typical is around 5 – 10 when I get going.

Do you reward yourself when a book is finished? If so, what is your favorite treat?

I love to lounge in a comfy chair on my screen porch with a fruity drink and a good book, get in the pool, read some more, repeat. 😊

Who was your favorite character to create?

My favorite characters are the children. I’m a child psychologist, volunteer in the nursery, just love the little ones. And in fiction, they can offer a welcome break from the heavy stuff the adults are going through.

I love to read books with children in them. They are precious, aren’t they?

How did you come up with the names of your hero and/or heroine?

I have a habit of choosing names from people I know, as a way of honoring them. The problem comes in when the original thinks the character in the story is supposed to be them. No, the characters are themselves, unique and different.

Are you a plotter or a panster?

I am a plotter and use story boards, but then sometimes the story takes over. I’ll refer back to the story boards every once in awhile but I am not a slave to it. I’m thrilled to be teaching a class for ACFW At Home Conference on storyboarding with faith. Hope some of your readers can watch the video!

Christina, thank you for being my guest today and sharing part of your life with us. What’s next for you as an author?

I have one book (a follow-up to Christmas on Ocracoke) under consideration, another book I need to edit, and I’ve started a third.

Where can readers find you online?

Website/Blog: https://www.christinasinisi.com/ 

Social Networking Sites:

Twitter: @ChristinaSinisi

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Christina-Sinisi-Author-105861987440664/?modal=admin_todo_tour

Instagram: @csinisi123

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/csinisi/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/101218889-christina-sinisi

Bookbub:  https://www.bookbub.com/profile/christina-sinisi

Amazon:  https://www.amazon.com/They-Call-Falling-Christina-Sinisi-ebook/dp/B0B1GF6FBC/ref=sr_1_2?keywords=Christina+Sinisi&qid=1654020461&s=books&sr=1-2

Friday Feature: Substitute Family

Recently I published an updated version of my full-length Christian romance, Substitute Family. This was previously published under the title, No Longer a Substitute. If you read the first version, you will find this one almost completely different. The characters and story line are the same, but it has been revised and updated throughout the whole book, with a surprise ending.

Even if you haven’t read the previous version, I think you will enjoy this one. Substitute Family is a story about adorable twin toddlers and their widowed father, and the nanny who steps into their lives and falls for all of them.

About the book:

Kindergarten teacher Emily Riley volunteers to babysit her late cousin’s twin toddlers for the summer. She doesn’t count on falling in love with their daddy, Garret.

When Garret transfers across country for a three-month trial period to set up a new office, he decides to leave the twins behind until he gets settled. Emily takes a leave of absence from her teaching job to become the 24/7 nanny while he is gone.

Garret decides not to tell his new employees that he is a widowed father of two. At first he calls home every week, but then a month goes by without a phone call, and he won’t return Emily’s messages.

She worries that Garret might like his freedom so much that he will decide to leave the twins, and Emily, behind permanently.

This book is available for purchase on Amazon as a Kindle book or in paperback.