Interview with Author Melissa Tereze

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Who or what inspired Forget Me Not?

My Grandfather, John Charles Monaghan. I cared for him during his final years after being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. I didn’t think I would ever write a book so close to home, or containing so much of me, but I began, and it flowed. I cried, laughed, got real angry with the world (once again) but when it was over, and I’d finished, I felt a closure I didn’t know I’d needed. Giving people an insight into myexperience with Alzheimer’s was cathartic for me and if my story helps in the tiniest way, or impacts someone else’s life who is experiencing Alzheimer’s, I can consider it a job well done.

 

I think choosing my hometown, Liverpool, helped in a big way, too. It’s such a beautiful city, and one that I’m more than familiar with, so I felt right at home during this writing process. I’m so used to writing American grammar, slang, and locations that I didn’t know how much I’d enjoy the change. I can safely say that I’ll be writing about Liverpool more often.

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Who or what inspired you to start writing?

Again, my grandfather. Or his death, rather. He died in April 2016 and I suddenly became obsessed with curling up on the couch and reading fanfiction. One day, I decided to give it a go, starting a fic of my own and wow…it took off. It became all consuming. My readers started to ask me when I was going to publish something, and naturally, I laughed. I’ve always had a terrible time with my inner critic but I’m learning how to silence her. I never in a million years imagined I would have a book out there with my name on it, or that people would pick it up and read it, but they did. Do I count my blessings? Every. Single. Day.

 

My girlfriend has been a huge support for me. She has always backed me one hundred percent in anything I’ve done, including singing and photography, but even she knew writing was where I was supposed to be. It was her who told me that writing was the only job I’ve taken seriously. When I have doubts, or I’m questioning whether I’m doing the right thing, my girlfriend gives me that push I know I need. My next book, an age gap romance, will draw on some of my experiences within my relationship. Yes, there is a significant gap, but love is love, right?

 

I also can’t forget the superb Jessica Capshaw. Without her character on Grey’s Anatomy, I never would have written my first fanfiction or gone on to release four books. Her character, over the years, gave me and so many other people a world of joy and it was through that character that I made some of the greatest friends that I have. I’ll be forever thankful to her for bringing us all together, and for showing me that the only thing I really want to do in life… is write.

 

Who is your favorite character from your books and why?

That would have to be Riley Allen from More Than A Feeling. Anyone who knows me knows that I love writing angst. I enjoyed writing Riley more than any other character for that reason alone. She was broken, hurt, consumed by insecurity… but she had that tough exterior. Deep down she was a beautiful soul who just needed someone to tell her it wouldn’t all be bad.

 

How do you approach writing a new storyline?

Well, it usually begins with me suddenly having an idea…followed by staring at the ceiling, and awake for the entire night thinking about it. I’ll build up a basic plot and then sit down, allowing the rest to just come to me when it chooses to. I don’t often suffer from writer’s block, but I do struggle with burn out, so I’ve come to realise that writing continuously day after day doesn’t work for me. Sometimes I’ll write every day for two weeks, other times I won’t write for a month. When I do approach burn out, I step away and read a few books. That allows me to come away from my own thoughts and submerse myself in another world.

 

Where do your inspirations for characters and their lives come from?

At times, I’ll use the personality of someone I know or that I’m familiar with. I find that once my characters develop, they are so far from what I imagined them to be and they’ve completely taken on a life of their own. That’s the beauty of writing, though. You never know where the next chapter will lead. I believe that even those who plot right down to the last paragraph of a book have a turn of events they didn’t expect or plan for.

 

Where is your favorite place to write?

My office at home. Having said that, I have a terrible habit of commandeering the dining table and leaving my things strewn all over it. My partner considers it my ‘man cave’. That is also why my desk is so clean and tidy…

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What is your writing process?

Sit down and write. Of course, the first draft is a very loose idea of what I want my book to look like, then I go back, fleshing it out repeatedly until it comes together as one. I’m still very new to writing and I know I still have a lot to learn, but I’m finding new things every time I sit down to write my next book.

 

How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?

I can’t say that it did, but I’m growing every day as a writer and I’m loving the learning process. Being an indie author gives me the freedom to play around with different elements of the writing/publishing process and I believe that is the key to enjoying it. At least, for me. There are certainly things I do now that I didn’t do during my first book and even those small accomplishments mean a lot to me. I’ve come to understand that patience is important, too. Oh, and I feel like I can relax more than I used to.

 

What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?

That would have to be hiring a professional cover designer. I’ve loved every cover that has been wrapped around my books, but when I received the cover art for Forget Me Not, I may have shed a tear. Perhaps it was because the story meant so much to me, I don’t know, but that has to be the best decision I’ve made so far. That guy could have asked for the world as payment and I would have given it to him.

 

What is something memorable you have heard from your readers/fans?

My readers, they’re wonderful. I guess the ones that stand out the most are those who have contacted me, whether through my website or via social media, to explain the difference I’ve made to their lives. I’ve had readers that have come out to their families after reading my books, and to this day, I still struggle to comprehend how I inspired someone to be so brave in what can sometimes be a cruel world.

 

What book that you have read has most influenced your life?

I can’t say one particular book has influenced my life, but Jourdyn Kelly’s work has really taken over my life. How she writes her characters, bringing them all into her books and crossing them over is fantastic. That, to me, takes commitment and a 100% knowledge of each character. I know us writers do have a good knowledge of our characters, being the ones who wrote them, but how she does it is effortless. With Jourdyn Kelly, nothing is missed.

 

Do you have any new books coming out? If so, what are they about?

I’m currently in the process of writing my next book. At the moment, I have a very thin outline, but what I will say… is that it includes a very lonely woman and an escort. I need something a little more upbeat from Forget Me Not so my readers should expect the return of smut.

 

How do you take your coffee?

Too often would be the answer to that. I’m trying to cut down, though. In general, one sugar and a little milk.

Review of Forget Me Not By Melissa Tereze

Forget Me Not

Forget Me Not by Melissa Tereze is different than most of the books I read for my blog. While it is a romance novel, I would say that it focuses more on overcoming grief and learning to trust again than a traditional romance. I was really pleased with how well it tackled the difficult emotions surrounding loss.

 

Here is a short blurb about the book:

Jess Edwards’ life could be better. Six years ago, her world was turned upside down when she lost the love of her life to London. In the years that followed, she found herself preparing for the inevitability of losing her grandfather, too.

 

Word around town is that her first love is back, leading Jess to question the decisions she’s about to make, but nothing is as it seems. Jess may be known to have a heart of gold, but is she prepared to have it broken once again?

 

Amber Powell has returned home after receiving devastating news from her sister. Now within reach of her ex-girlfriend, she tries to remain invisible. Over the years, that had worked well for her, but with the potential of heartbreak just around the corner, will Amber realise that the only woman she ever needed… is standing right in front of her. A story of life, loss, and ultimately love.

 

Forget Me Not really hit home for me. My grandmother passed away two years ago from complications from dementia. I could really empathize with the grief that Jess and Amber were feeling as they dealt with the loss of their loved ones to Alzheimer. Forget Me Not mainly focuses on Jess’s coming to terms with her life after her grandfather’s death. She is struggling to get back to normal and when Amber comes back into town with a new fiancée. Jess has never forgiven Amber for hiding their relationship and ultimately leaving her.

Amber slowly realizes that she needs Jess in her life. Jess helps Amber though her mothers Alzheimer diagnosis.

 

I thought Jess ability to overcome her own pain as she relives the effects of Alzheimer was moving. It showed that she was willing to overcome her own past to help the person she loves. It was beautiful. At the beginning of the book, Jess seemed very harsh but that was because she was dealing with a lot of emotions and didn’t know how to express herself. I really enjoyed seeing her growth throughout the book.

 

The book also has a very cute dog named Beau. I’m a huge sucker for dogs in books and this book is no different.

 

I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys second chance romances.

 

Forget Me Not is available on Kindle Unlimited by clicking here.

 

Interview with debut author Jenna Layne

Who or what inspired A Long Ride Home?

The inspiration for A Long Ride Home isn’t actually very exciting! I haven’t done any extensive bike riding myself, but it’s something I’ve been interested in attempting one day so I’ve read a lot online about other people’s experiences. Especially other women who ride alone. I actually had no intention of turning this bike ride idea into a story at all. But as I realized that writing is what I needed to do, that it was my true passion, the pieces sort of just fell together. The question of what storyline I wanted for this first novel hung out in the back of my mind for a several days once I decided that I wanted to write something. As I was browsing around online without much of an agenda, I came across a forum about cycling and then I realized that that would be kind of a cool topic to base a story around. Procrastination paid off this time! Once I knew that I wanted my main character to embark on this grand bicycle journey to discover herself, I just had to figure out what she needed to discover. A lot of Hannah’s mental and emotional journey has been inspired by my own journey. It took a long time for me to come to terms with my sexuality. Hannah stars off in a very similar place of knowing something isn’t right but not quite knowing how or why or how to fix it.

 

Who or what inspired you to start writing?

I’ve loved reading and writing since I was a kid. I dabbled here and there with writing in my childhood and teen years but never really took it seriously. I didn’t have a lot of confidence in my abilities. I had dreamed for so long of becoming on author, but I also didn’t have a lot of confidence that it could ever really become a career. As I got older, grown up life happened, and I went to college and got a job and pretty much gave up on any hopes of writing anything let alone trying to pursue a new career path.

 

My best friend is responsible for this book in a big way. I wrote it, but I don’t know if I would have had the courage to actually sit down at my laptop without his help. He knew how badly I wanted to write but he also knew how great I was at making up excuses to not do it. A little bit of tough love and a lot of heart-to-hearts and soul searching finally got my butt in the chair. And now after so many years of thinking I couldn’t do it, I did it!

 

Who is your favorite character from your books and why?

A Long Ride Home is my first and only book (so far!) so I don’t have a lot of characters competing for #1 in my heart yet. But even still, it’s hard to choose one! They all mean a lot to me, especially this particular cast because they’re my first ever characters to actually get a complete story so I get all sentimental about that. But if I had to pick one from A Long Ride Home, it would have to be Shannon. Hannah is pretty similar to me in a lot of ways, so I’m pretty sure I ended up writing my dream girl in Shannon! But I also had a lot of fun writing her because she isso different from me. If writing Hannah was my comfort zone, writing Shannon was like getting to know someone new and really figure out who they are.

 

How do you approach writing a new storyline?

Funnily enough, as I was writing my first novel, I was terrified that I wouldn’t be able to think up another storyline! But as I got close to the end of the first draft, I’d started giving my next story more thought. And I realized that I wasable to come up with more ideas if I actually gave myself a chance. As with A Long Ride Home, the setting/situation took shape first. While Hannah and Shannon had almost a love at first sight type of situation (even though Hannah didn’t realize it right away), I’m a sucker for clashes of egos. I knew I wanted my next couple to be rivals of some sort and what inspires more competition than a sports team? So, like my first novel, once I knew what I wanted the situation to be, brainstorming ideas for how different people would react in that situation gave me a lot of ideas for my new couple.

 

I’m a planner by nature, so I did some general plotting with both books but gave myself enough wiggle room to allow the story to unfold organically. But of course, it’s pretty different than my first book so it’s been interesting to adjust to a new setting and thinking as new people. The first few thousand words felt like I was breaking in new shoes and finding my footing, if you will. But I found that once I stopped comparing my next book to my last book and how that process went and just letting it be its own unique experience, I really got into the groove of the new story. I think that’s definitely something I’ll keep in mind for all my future books!

 

Where do your inspirations for characters and their lives come from?

This is honestly pretty difficult for me to pinpoint. For Hannah, some of her traits were definitely inspired by me. And for Shannon, I thought about what kind of person Hannah would be so drawn to that she’d be forced to confront her own inner confusion and work on her issues. But ultimately the most important thing to me when developing their personalities and their backstories was just trying to be as real as possible. What could have led these people to these paths, and how have their past experiences shaped how they see the world and see love? And while I do plot out the major points and the main details about my main characters, I found that a lot of the backstory came out as I went along. That happened with the minor characters as well. I start out with a basic understanding of who they are and what’s been going on in their lives, and the story builds on it from there.

 

Where is your favorite place to write?

While I would one day love to have a home office, my “writing corner” of the living room does the trick for now! I’ll occasionally write from the couch if I’m feeling particularly unmotivated and need to ease myself into writing. But my favorite place to write is definitely my desk in the corner of the living room. I have lots of pictures of my family and friends on the wall above my desk so being able to see those front and center when I write warms my heart and can give me a little boost when I feel stuck or when I doubt myself. And now when I sit at my desk, I know it’s time to get down to business and write. It used to be intimidating when I first started writing and even sitting down at my desk felt like such a roadblock. But as I got more comfortable with the process and realized that I was really enjoying it, my desk became my best friend. While at my work desk, I dreamed of coming home to my writing desk and making more progress on my story. I’ve yet to try writing in a coffee shop or library but I plan on giving it a shot soon! Even still, I don’t think anything will beat my good old desk at home.

 

What is your writing process?

My writing process really transformed over the course of my first book. When I started, I worked full time in an office in a non-writing related job. Once I really committed to the idea of writing a book, it still took a while for me to develop good writing habits. At first, I would come home from work and write a few hundred words. But as with anything, I built up stamina and started writing a few thousand words when I got home from work. Then I started writing on the weekends. And then I started writing on my lunch breaks. Once I got past my mental blocks about writing, the words started flowing. But it did take time to get into a good rhythm. Also, throughout the course of writing this book, I started transitioning back into freelance work (what I’d been doing before I took the office job). It was pretty hectic for a while but even on days when I didn’t want to write or I felt like I was too tired or stressed, I always made myself sit down at my desk and open up my document and write even just a couple sentences. If that was all I could manage I’d leave it at that and promise to try again tomorrow. But a lot of the time I ended up writing far more than I expected. I’ve now gone back to freelancing from home, so my schedule is more flexible for my writing. Now, I sit down at my desk first thing in the morning and write in sprints of about 30-50 minutes and then take a short break.

 

How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?

I’ve learned a lot in the process of writing and publishing this first book so there’s definitely been some adjustments to my process and my outlook. As far as my process of writing itself, publishing this book gave me so much more confidence as a writer. Now that I’ve seen the finished product, I know I’m capable of doing it again. Writing doesn’t feel so scary and intimidating anymore so I’ve been approaching my writing process with a lot more zeal lately and really enjoying it.

 

What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?

I would say that the best money I ever spent as a writer actually went to my editor! I’m lucky to have a good friend who is an editor and her advice really helped me take my book and my writing in general to the next level. She caught a lot of things that totally slipped my mind or made sense to me but might not make as much sense to readers, both in terms of plot and characters as well as writing style. She helped me polish my book, but the best part of all was that a lot of the tips she gave me can be carried into the future. I’m being extra mindful of them as I write my next book so I can make it even better and keep growing as a writer. Absolutely worth every penny!

 

What is something memorable you have heard from your readers/fans?

I don’t have many readers or fans yet, but the ones I do have are so lovely! One of my favorite comments came from a reviewer that said she had tears in her eyes towards the end of the book. When I read that Ihad tears inmy eyes! I never expected that I would be able to reach someone to that extent and move them so much with my writing, so it was a very touching experience for me as well.

 

What book that you have read has most influenced your life?

Oh man, this is a tough one for me. I think I’ll have to go with The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton. I first read this in middle school and I’ve read it every year since. I’ve loved reading since I was a young child, but this was the first book I read that really got me to think about the bigger picture of life and society. It impacted me a lot during a formative time in my life and I realized for the first time that even though people might seem very different, we might have more in common with each other than we think. And the characters felt so real to me that I still cry every time I read it. I think that book taught me a lot about some important life lessons as well as the power really great writing can have.

 

Do you have any new books coming out? If so, what are they about?

Yes, I have a new book in the works! It’s about two women on a college soccer team who are both very competitive and want to be the star of the team so of course they end up butting heads. They’re both driven by deeply rooted family expectations so neither of them feels like they can back down to the other. But over time they discover that they work really well together for the betterment of the whole team, and naturally they fall in love! There will be ups and downs and a lot of growth but ultimately they will get their happy ending.

 

How do you take your coffee?

I love coffee in many different ways! I usually like it with cream and sugar or a nice, flavorful creamer. But I have been experimenting with black coffee lately. I was convinced I would hate it but it’s actually growing on me!

Review of A Long Ride Home by Jenna Layne

Long Ride Hime

I’m a huge fan of books about finding yourself in nature. For me there nothing quite like roughing it in the woods and enjoying all of the beauty that nature provides. In the debut novel, A Long Ride Home by Jenna Layne a young woman comes to terms with who she is as she meets a beautiful stranger on her bike ride down the coast.

 

Here is a short blurb about the book:

After breaking up with her long-term boyfriend back in Seattle, Hannah Evanston embarks on the journey of a lifetime. With only her bicycle for company, her goal is to pedal 1,300 miles down the east coast and discover herself along the way.

 

A pit stop in the small southern California town of Wellington Cliff may hold the answers Hannah seeks. Bumping into the beautiful, charismatic Shannon Caruso outside a convenience store is just the tip of the iceberg for Hannah. When Shannon, a fellow cyclist from Chicago, invites Hannah to camp with her, Hannah begins to realize that her interest in Shannon may be developing into something more than friendly admiration.

 

But Shannon is riding away from her own scars too, scars that may be impossible for Hannah’s fledgling feelings to overcome. Can Hannah allow herself to follow her heart and win Shannon’s in the process? Or will their choices take them down different roads?

 

I really liked the chance meeting of Hannah and Shannon. Neither of them was looking for someone but once they found each other they were drawn in. Overall, I thought that the romance was really well crafted. The cave scene really hooked me I enjoyed seeing them work out their feelings. The angst was just right and kept me guessing as to how things would work out.

 

Overall my favorite part about the book was the nature aspects. Camping and hiking are two of my all-time favorite activities. It was nice to see it represented so well in the book. There are some beautiful descriptions of the surrounding area that really sucked me into the setting of the book.

 

A Long Ride home has amazingly written side characters. My favorite being Macy. She was such a ball of energy I enjoyed every scene she was in. Diego was a close second for favorite side character. I liked how he helped Hannah to realized that while everything may seem perfect in someone life it doesn’t mean they don’t have their own problems.

 

My one problem with the book was the sex scenes. For me, they were a little too intense for my liking. While I like a little light bondage, it didn’t seem to fit in with the way I viewed the characters. This might not be the case for everyone though.

 

I would recommend this book to anyone who likes a cute outdoorsy read.

 

A Long Ride Home is available on Kindle Unlimited by clicking here.

Interview with Caren J. Werlinger

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Who or what inspired A Bittersweet Garden?

I have truly loved The Quiet Man for decades (my wife has graciously watched it 26 times with me, 27 coming up for St. Patrick’s Day!). When we finally got to Ireland and Cong in 2015, it was a dream come true for me. Everywhere we went in Ireland, it was as if I could hear the ghosts whispering. This story just grew from that experience.

 

Who or what inspired you to start writing?

I was one of those kids who would lock myself up in my bedroom and spend entire weekends writing stories. I continued writing until I got into physical therapy school, and then stopped for several years. When I took creative writing back up in the mid-90s, it was ten years before I was able to get that first novel published… just in time for the recession and the mass closure of bookstores. Perfect timing!

 

Who is your favorite character from your books and why?

Oh gosh, that is so hard. All the characters become a favorite (even the not-so-likeable ones) while I’m immersed in their lives, but if I had to choose overall, I would probably pick my two girl characters: Connemara from Miserere and Caymin from The Dragonmage Saga. I loved their spunk, their integrity, and their determination to do what’s right.

 

How do you approach writing a new storyline?

It partially depends on where the story comes from. I keep a book of story ideas and, so far, one or another has always bubbled to the surface to turn into my next book. I let it percolate in my head for a while, jotting down thoughts as they come to me. Every book has an “Ideas” document or an actual physical file, where I keep maps, research articles, lists of names, etc. I refer to it frequently while writing. I just found a page with all of my handwritten notes with Irish translations of terms for the Dragonmage trilogy.

 

Where do your inspirations for characters and their lives come from?

It varies. Miserere was totally inspired by an abandoned farmhouse we looked at when I was about nine. We didn’t move in, but I always remembered that house and wondered what kind of stories it could tell. Neither Present Timehad two inspirations: another house, an old mansion, and an inscription in an old book.My own experiences in religious life inspired In This Small Spot. Turning for Home was inspired by a note someone slipped to me when I was traveling years ago. Inspiration comes from many sources!

 

Where is your favorite place to write?

I bring my laptop to work with me every day, and take advantage of my breaks to get bits of writing in during the week, but weekend mornings—when my wife and the dogs are all still sleeping—that’s my favorite time! I’m very much a morning writer. My brain is shot creatively by afternoon.

 

What is your writing process?

I used to write my first drafts longhand, but I don’t tend to do that any longer. I still keep a notebook where I can jot down scenes and ideas as they come to me. I am one of those writers who finds it a struggle to get the first draft completed, and then I love editing, rewriting, polishing that draft!

 

How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?

When you’re writing your first book, it’s like a secret—just you and the characters. All of your gratification comes from the act of writing. I think that can’t help but change a bit after you publish. I still think I could only write what I love, what I would want to read, rather than write for a market as some are advised to do. But some of the gratification becomes more external, things like sales/royalty figures, reviews, etc. Some authors have said they’re going back to writing fan fiction purely for the love of it, so they don’t focus on those external factors. As to my actual process, I am much more confident now with how to spool out character traits and plot points, and I don’t panic when I realize I need to delete entire scenes because they’re just not working.

 

What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?

The best money I have spent isn’t necessarily related to writing, but to publishing. Hiring an incredible cover artist and a professional formatter who are both willing to work with me to make my books as beautiful as (I think) the words are is one of the best moves I’ve made. I love it when readers comment on those details because I agonize over them!

 

What is something memorable you have heard from your readers/fans?

Gosh, there have been so many. I’m very fortunate that so many of my books have resonated with readers on a deep level. A reader who’d received a recent diagnosis of cancer told me she found a lot of comfort and strength from Looking Through Windows and In This Small Spot. A couple of readers—single, closeted women living captive lives as dutiful daughters in conservative families—wrote to tell me how much Cast Me Gently meant to them. Year of the Monsoon has connected both with women who gave babies up for adoption and women who were adopted (as I was). In This Small Spot has also touched many women who were in religious life, and they’ve taken the time to write and share their experiences.

 

What book that you have read has most influenced your life?

The book that influenced my life more than any was In This House of Brede by Rumer Godden. It influenced my own exploration of a vocation and religious life, and Ms. Godden sort of became my writing mentor. I wrote to her when I was sixteen, and she very kindly wrote back. I treasure that letter.

 

Do you have any new books coming out? If so, what are they about?

I’m working now on a book set in 1983 in central New York. I don’t have a working title yet, but it’s flowing nicely, so I expect it to be out before the end of the year if all continues on pace.

 

How do you take your coffee?

Ha, I am a straight-up coffee drinker! No sugar, no cream, no flavors. Just good, strong, and black.

Review of A Bittersweet Garden by Caren J. Werlinger

A Bitter Sweet Garden

Caren J. Werlinger is one of my all-time favorite authors. Her books have always shocked me by how well written they are. A Bittersweet Garden is no exception. It is a beautiful written paranormal romance that will suck you in from the very first page.

Here is a short blurb about the book:

Nora McNeill has always dreamed of exploring her Irish roots. When she finally gets the opportunity to spend a summer in the village where her grandparents grew up, the experience promises to live up to her very high expectations. Except for the ghost that is haunting her rented cottage and is soon invading her dreams.

 

Briana Devlin has arranged her life the way she likes it: a good dog, good mates, and work with horses. There’s no room in her life for a relationship. Especially with an annoyingly clumsy—and attractive—American who is only going to be around for a few months.

 

The weeks fly by, and Nora’s ghost becomes more demanding, seeking her help in solving the mystery surrounding her death. Briana watches as Nora becomes more wrapped up in the past, seeming to fade away before her eyes.

 

Past and present are on a collision course, leaving Nora and Briana caught in a ghostly intrigue that could cost them not only their chance of a future together, but their very lives.

 

A Bittersweet Garden is like nothing I have ever read before. It is a mixture of ghost story and romance novel. I was sucked into the history of the cottage and its past inhabitants. The haunting of the cottage is so interesting it really sucked me into the book. I wanted to know what had happened to the past inhabitants. But I don’t want to spoil any of the story so I will stop here.

 

The romance aspect of A Bittersweet Garden is great. Briana is the strong silent type. She might come across as hard and uncaring but that isn’t the case at all. She is just very selective about who she lets in. Nora on the other hand never really thought that she deserved love. She was used to being everyone’s second choice. When they come together their chemistry is amazing.

 

I really loved the side characters in this book. Eve is one of the most interesting characters that I have ever read. I can’t say too much about her because it would spoil the story, but she is my favorite character. As most of you know I love the addition to pets in a story and Shannon, Briana’s wolfhound, is a great addition. The way she reacts to the haunted room and protective nature make Shannon a great addition to the book.

 

The one thing I wish was different about this book is the lack of an epilogue. I think it could have really added to the book. I would have loved to know what happened to everyone at the end of the book.

 

If you are looking for steamy sexy scene this book might not be for you. The sex scenes are all fade to black. But there is some sexy build up to where there would be sex.

 

I would recommend this book to anyone who loves paranormal romance and to anyone who likes a good ghost story.

 

You can purchase a copy of A Bittersweet Garden by clicking here.

Interview with debut author Tammy Bird

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Who or what inspired Sandman?

Sandman was inspired by a trip to the outer banks (OBX) in October. The majority of tourists were gone, and we had much of the beach and sound to ourselves. One afternoon, my wife and I stepped into one of the few local businesses that were still open: an ice cream shop. The owner was playing on his phone. I think we startled him when we entered. As we ate our ice cream cones (sprinkles for me, chocolate and peanut butter for my wife) we chatted with the owner about the end of tourist season and the quiet that settles over the sand.

He said, “Yep. Quiet enough around here in the off-season to bury a body in the dunes and never get caught.”

Just like that, Sandman was born.

Who or what inspired you to start writing?

As a kid, I worshipped my dad. He loved words. He often challenged me to look things up in the encyclopedias that were housed on my shelf in my room. Then we would talk about it over dinner. He would ask me questions like, “What do you think the children in Chile are having for dinner? Are they quiet or loud? What are their parents like?” We would build an entire story around their meal. I suspect this was the catalyst.

I also am a high school dropout who fell in love with a local community college instructor who used to come into my restaurant and ask me to read and discuss things to keep her company. At first it was weird, but I found myself looking forward to being challenged in that way. She eventually talked me into getting my GED and going back to school to earn an English degree. So, she took up the challenge where my dad left off, and I am forever thankful.

Who is your favorite character from your books and why?

This is a tough one. I am going to go with Paige. She trains cadaver dogs and gives them names like Derrida and Nietzsche. It is her and one of her “little nose artists,” as she calls them, that uncovers the secret burial ground of Buxton. If that isn’t cool enough, she is the character who tells the main character, Katia, like it is. No BS. Throughout the novel we witness a growing respect and friendship between the two women.

How do you approach writing a new storyline?

I am somewhere between a planner and a pantser. I like to have a rough outline of where a storyline is going, and I typically have the ending in mind when I start, but I also allow the characters to take me on a new journey if what I have planned doesn’t suit them. At the end of the process, I always compare what I intended to what happened. In the editing process I often have to rein a character or two in a little.

Where do your inspirations for characters and their lives come from?

Everywhere. I am sure you hear this a lot from writers. I can be sitting in a meeting at my day job, and someone will say something in a particular way, and I think, “Oh man. That is the voice of a character.” Or, I will see a mom in a bookstore trying to read, and a small child crawling all over her. The mom keeps reading like the child isn’t even there. I think, “What if the child really wasn’t there? What is she is a child lost to another world who wants to be seen. What if whoever actually feels the child will be deemed the mother?” It goes on and on. LOL

Where is your favorite place to write?

A coffee shop. I don’t listen to music. I know, weird. I prefer words whistling by, settling on my table, rattling in the air. I don’t want to interact with them. I just want to know they are there. The people are just the vehicle for the words. It is this introverts way of being with others.

And there is coffee. Lots of coffee.

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What is your writing process?

I have a calendar reminder set for everyday at the same time. When it reminds me, I treat it like any other meeting. Sometimes I write new words. Sometimes I edit words that are already there. Sometimes I journal new ideas or write character sketches. The idea is to treat writing like a job. To be successful, you have to show up. If my boss puts something over the time-slot, I honor that, of course, and sometimes a grandkid wants to play, and I honor that, too. Otherwise, I show up and I write.

How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?

I don’t know that it changed my process. I taught me a ton. That’s for sure. Writing the first draft of a book, writing “THE END,” for the first time, is an amazing experience. It is also where the real work begins. I had no idea the work that goes into editing, negotiations, marketing, readings, etc. Going into book two I am better equipped to know what works and what doesn’t. I know the word “had” is a word I overuse and I need to search for it in my document and revise. I know that adverbs are often a weak tool and that I use them too often in my first draft. Stuff like that.

What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?

Two things come to mind. (1) Money spent on other books. Stephen King said something to the effect of, “If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the tools to write.” I totally agree. Not only do I read, but I study books by the masters. (2) The GCLS writing academy. I’m not sure if you want to include plugs for awesome writing academies, but this one was phenomenal. It is a year-long program where new writers learn the trade from well-established writers in the lesbian community. I actually finished the first draft of Sandman in this program.

What is something memorable you have heard from your readers/fans?

I am dedicated to inclusion in my writing. As such, when someone writes a review like the one below, I am blown away:

“One of my favorite things about the characters is how three-dimensional they are. Even fairly minor characters are so realistic and believable. The amount of detail used in descriptions of the Katia’s brother, who is on the autism spectrum, is incredible. It is clear that the author is either familiar with autistic children or did a great deal of research on the subject.”

What book that you have read has most influenced your life?

I was a literature major in college, so I am in love with American literature. It influenced me as a whole. Words have to taste good on my tongue for me to turn the page. Reading and dissecting the works of greats, including, but not limited to, Burroughs, Faulkner, Perkins-Gilman, Morrison, Walker, Hawthorne, Hurston, and Frost taught me that there is always a message. Regardless of what I write, I want a well-crafted message.

Do you have any new books coming out? If so, what are they about?

I am nearing completion on my second novel, tentatively titled, “Book of Promises.” It is a coming out story with a twist. Best friends, Katie and Tess, held hands in fourth grade and promised one another that they would never be apart. Now in high school, one of them will stop at nothing to make sure this promise is kept.

I also have an outline for the sequel to Sandman. Stay tuned for more on that.

How do you take your coffee?

Sweet and light. Iced or hot.

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