The safe world of political fiction

If you can’t watch the news, but you still like political stories, you can always pick up a novel. These three books will help you escape into the safe world of political fiction. One all-American story, a smart romance and a clever mystery.


America America by Ethan Canin

In 1971, Henry Bonwiller is near the front of the race to become the next Democratic nominee for president of the United States, and a young Corey Sifter is there to witness his rise and ultimate fall, as an aide to the money and power behind the campaign.


Candidate by Tracy Ewens

Politics are tough and public image is everything for United States Senator Patrick Malendar of California. He’s up for re-election and his young Republican opponent is giving him a run for his money. This modern romance is full of fun banter and romantic tension. But it also tackles many serious subjects, including the price of public life, family secrets and infidelity.


Hope Never Dies: An Obama Biden Mystery by Andrew Shaffer

Why not write a mystery with Barack Obama and Joe Biden as amateur detectives? This pair has plenty of rapport to wrap around a good story line. Who better to solve a mystery than the former President and Vice President of the United States?


And if you really just want to escape from it all, try

Joy in the Morning by P.G. Wodehouse

Imagine a scenario in which ridiculous characters bumble through a series of hilarious coincidences and an equal number of snafus, all in the name of love, marriage and a big business deal. The first of three short novels included in Just Enough Jeeves, a fun introduction to P.G. Wodehouse’s famous characters: twenty-something Bertie Wooster and his manservant Jeeves.


Thanks for visiting – come back soon!

Celebrating 3 years of blogging and 600 posts with an author interview recap

Image: clipartpanda.com
Image: clipartpanda.com

If I could have private conversations with all the authors of the books I’ve read, I would most certainly pepper them with questions.  That happy day may never happen, but I’ve been lucky enough to have a few author interviews.  To celebrate three years of blogging and my 600th post, here’s a look back at these conversations.  Click on the author names to read the interviews and on the book titles to read my reviews.


Posted December 28, 2013:  Heather Walsh, author of Dented Cans and The Drake Equation.

Heather WalshHeather has a great sense of humor and I enjoyed both of her books very much.  Dented Cans is about a high school girl and her quirky family and The Drake Equation is a modern romance.

dented cans pic  the drake equation pic


Posted December 31, 2013: Dianne Salerni, author of We Hear the Dead, The Caged Graves, The Eighth Day, The Inquisitor’s Mark and Morrigan’s Curse.

Dianne Salerni Photo credit: Robert SalerniA retired middle school teacher, Dianne is a wonderful and talented adult and YA author and I’m anxious to catch up on her terrific Eighth Day series!

 

wehear  the caged graves pic  the eighth day  InquisitorsMark_revised_final  Morrigan's Curse


Posted February 26, 2014:  Susanna Daniel, author of Stiltsville and Sea Creatures.

Susanna Daniel picSusanna says that “by far the experience that has had the broadest, deepest impact on my writing is my membership in families — as a daughter, sister, mother, wife — and the close attention I pay to domestic dynamics.”

stiltsville book cover  sea creatures pic


Posted April 8, 2014:  Tracy Ewens, author of Catalina Kiss, Premiere, Candidate, Taste, Reserved, Stirred and Vacancy.

Tracy EwensIt started with Catalina Kiss and took off from there.  Tracy writes smart and fun contemporary romance novels.  And her fantastic covers promise a feel-good story!

 

  I also enjoyed reading Tracy's first love story!  Premiere Goodreads  Candidate_cover5  Taste-by-Tracy-Ewens-360x570
Reserved  Stirred  Vacancy.jpg


Posted May 21, 2014: Bill Dedman, co-author of Empty Mansions.

Bill DedmanBill Dedman is a Pulitzer Prize-winning American journalist and an investigative reporter for Newsday.  Check out this fascinating story about the reclusive millionaire heiress, Huguette Clark, who chose to spend the last twenty years of her life in a NYC hospital. (Photo of Clark:  nbcnews.com)

empty mansions pic   Huguette Clark nbcnews.com


Posted June 18, 2014:  Kristina McMorris, author of Letters from Home, Bridge of Scarlet Leaves, The Pieces We Keep and The Edge of Lost. 

Kristina McMorrisIn this interview, Kristina says that “as a former actress and movie buff, I think I’ve always had a passion for storytelling.”  I really enjoyed The Pieces We Keep when we read it for my book club.  I’m getting ready to read Bridge of Scarlet Leaves.

Letters from Home  Bridge of Scarlet Leaves  The pieces we keep pic  the edge of lost


Posted October 27, 2014:  Follow-up with Tracy Ewens.

Tracy has been very busy writing her romance novels.  I’m a little behind on her books, but Reserved is coming up soon on my reading list!


Posted on October 12, 2015:  Lawrence H. Levy, author of Second Street Station and Brooklyn on Fire.

Photo Credit:  Fran LevyLevy is a Writers Guild award-winner and a two-time Emmy nominee.  He has written for many hit shows, including Seinfeld and Family Ties.  Now he writes great historical mysteries about Mary Handley, Brooklyn’s first female detective.  I’m currently reading Brooklyn on Fire for my Summer Reading Challenge.

Second Street Station  Brooklyn on Fire


Are you a reader who has met or interviewed any authors?  What have been your favorites?  Have you been interviewed as a writer?  What has been your most memorable interview experience?

Thanks for visiting – come back soon!

We have a winner! Book Giveaway of Taste by Tracy Ewens

Taste-by-Tracy-Ewens-360x570

Congratulations to Ellen – winner of the Taste book giveaway! Ellen will receive a signed copy of this smart and entertaining romance!

Taste Giveaway winnerThe winner was selected randomly by Rafflecopter.com.  Thank you to everyone who entered!

Click here to read my review of Taste.

Want even more? Check out my reviews of Tracy Ewens’ earlier romances:

Catalina Kiss, Premiere and Candidate

I also enjoyed reading Tracy's first love story!  Premiere Goodreads  Candidate_cover5
And to learn more about Tracy Ewens, click on these Book Club Mom interviews and feature:

Who’s That Indie Author? – Tracy Ewens

Interview: October 27, 2014

Interview: April 8, 2014

Thanks for visiting – come back soon!

Here come the holidays – Enter for a chance to win a free copy of Taste by Tracy Ewens!

Looking for romance? Check out my book giveaway!

Book Club Mom

Taste-by-Tracy-Ewens-360x570

If only life were as simple as following a recipe…

Who’s looking for a little fun and romance during the holiday season? What better way than to curl up with a fun romantic novel?  Enter my giveaway for a chance to win a free, autographed copy of Taste by Tracy Ewens.

Visit Book Club Mom on Facebook, click on the Giveaway tab and follow the instructions.

Giveaway drawing is powered by Rafflecopter.com. It starts at 12:00 am November 22, 2015 and ends 12:00 am November 29, 2015, Eastern Time. See full Terms and Conditions on Facebook entry.


For more information, click here to read my review of Taste.

Want even more? Check out my reviews of Tracy Ewens’ earlier romances:

Catalina Kiss, Premiere and Candidate

I also enjoyed reading Tracy's first love story!  Premiere Goodreads  Candidate_cover5
And to learn more about Tracy Ewens, click on these Book Club Mom interviews and feature:

Who’s That Indie Author?…

View original post 17 more words

Here come the holidays – Enter for a chance to win a free copy of Taste by Tracy Ewens!

Taste-by-Tracy-Ewens-360x570

If only life were as simple as following a recipe…

Who’s looking for a little fun and romance during the holiday season? What better way than to curl up with a fun romantic novel?  Enter my giveaway for a chance to win a free, autographed copy of Taste by Tracy Ewens.

Visit Book Club Mom on Facebook, click on the Giveaway tab and follow the instructions.

Giveaway drawing is powered by Rafflecopter.com. It starts at 12:00 am November 22, 2015 and ends 12:00 am November 29, 2015, Eastern Time. See full Terms and Conditions on Facebook entry.


For more information, click here to read my review of Taste.

Want even more? Check out my reviews of Tracy Ewens’ earlier romances:

Catalina Kiss, Premiere and Candidate

I also enjoyed reading Tracy's first love story!  Premiere Goodreads  Candidate_cover5
And to learn more about Tracy Ewens, click on these Book Club Mom interviews and feature:

Who’s That Indie Author? – Tracy Ewens

Interview: October 27, 2014

Interview: April 8, 2014

Good luck and come back soon!

 

 

Who’s That Indie Author Recap: Sep/Oct 2015

Who's That Indie Author pic

What a great response to Who’s That Indie Author!  Thanks to  everyone who has participated so far.  It has been great to “meet” these interesting authors.  What’s the number one challenge for indie authors?  Marketing and promotion. Here’s the place to get started.  If you are an indie author and want to get your name out there,  see the instructions at the bottom of this post.  Join the Who’s That Indie Author community!

Here’s a recap for September and October.  Be sure to click on the author’s name to view the indie author profile.


Michelle Eastman

Michelle EastmanGenre:  Children’s Picture Books
BooksThe Legend of Dust Bunnies, a Fairy’s Tale & Dust Fairy Tales: Absolutely Aggie
Favorite BookThe Giving Tree  by Shel Silverstein
Biggest Challenge:  Marketing and promotion

Contact Information: Be sure to check out Michelle’s website at Michelle Eastman Books. You can also find her on WordPress, Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads.


Tracy Ewens

Tracy EwensGenre:  Romance
Books:  Catalina Kiss, Premiere, Candidate & Taste
Favorite BookGreat Expectations by Charles Dickens
Biggest Challenge:  Finding the right support and promotion

Contact Information: Website: tracyewens.com; Blog: fromthelaundryroom.com


A.E. Hellstorm

A. E. HellstormGenre:  Mixed (Horror/Relationship/Crime)
Books:  In the Hands of the Unknown & Lost
Favorite BooksThe Ground Beneath Her Feet by Salman Rushdie, Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë, Gut Symmetries by Jeannette Winterson
Biggest Challenge:  To be seen

Contact Information: Hellhagproductions.com, Goodreads Author, @Noarenne on Twitter


JR Rogers

JR RogersGenre:  Historical fiction, intrigue & espionage
Books: The Counterfeit Consul; Leopold’s Assassin; Doomed Spy; Mission to Morocco; The Cypriot Agent; The Way Things Were (Anthology); Nazilager (Summer 2016)
Favorite BookThe Sheltering Sky  by Paul Bowles
Biggest Challenge:  Self-promotion and securing reviews from readers

Contact Information: Be sure to visit JR Rogers’ website at authorjrrogers.com. Follow him on Twitter at @authorjrrogers.


Elizabeth Hein

Elizabeth HeinGenre:  Women’s Fiction
BooksHow To Climb The Eiffel Tower, Overlook, Escape Plan (2016)
Favorite BookJane Eyre by Charlotte Brontё
Biggest Challenge:  Explaining how independent publishing works

Contact Information: Connect with Elizabeth through her blog, Scribbling in the Storage Room, her website, elizabethhein.com, Facebook, her Facebook author page, and Twitter.


Gwen Miller

Gwen MillerGenre:  Adoption/Addiction/Memoirs
BooksEchoes of Silence: Letters to a Drug Addicted Mother from the Woman Who Took Her Place ; Apples for Secrets: Former Child Abuse Victims Tell Their Stories for the First Time  (2016)
Favorite BookJane Eyre by Charlotte Brontё
Biggest Challenge:  Marketing & PR without a doubt

Contact Information: Visit Gwen Miller’s website and blog at GwenMiller.co. You can also find her on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Pinterest.


Heather Walsh

Heather WalshGenre:  Contemporary Fiction
BooksDented Cans and The Drake Equation
Favorite BookPride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Biggest Challenge:  Attracting new readers as more and more novels are published every year!

Contact Information: Visit Heather’s website at http://hwalsh.com/ for more information and updates.


Evan Asher

Evan AsherGenre:  Contemporary Romance
BooksThe Profiteer , Sweeter for the Pain, A Dangerous Tune by Evan Asher & Rosemary Carr, Untrusting Hearts by Evan Asher & Madison Hartt
Favorite BookThe Mothers by Vardis Fisher
Biggest Challenge:  Making time to write

Contact Information: Website: evanasher.weebly.com ; Twitter: @EvanAsher555 ; Goodreads Author


Susan Kotch

Susan KotchGenre:  Young Adult
BooksCasey of Cranberry Cove ; Casey Whitman, High Flyer (2016)
Favorite BookMemoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden
Biggest Challenge:  The marketing, for sure!

Contact Information:   Come visit me on Twitter @susankotch, or via my website, susankotch.com.


N.D. Richman

N.D. RichmanGenre:  Upper Middle Grade
BooksBrothers, Bullies and Bad Guys – First in the Boulton Quest Series; Sinners, Survivors and Saints – Second in the Boulton Quest Series
Favorite BookThe Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
Biggest Challenge:  I can never find enough time to write.

Contact Information: http://ndrichman.com/


Are you an indie author looking for some positive publicity? Do you want to build your indie author network? Why not get your name out on Who’s That Indie Author?

Email bvitelli2009@gmail.com for a bio template and other details, and follow along on Book Club Mom to join the indie author community!

Thanks for visiting – come back soon!

Summer Reading Recap

School starts tomorrow at our house so now is a good time to look back on a busy summer. Here’s a recap of what I read in June, July and August. Click on the titles for the full review.


Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet picHotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford
Rating:  ***

A sentimental World War II love story about a Chinese American boy and a Japanese American girl who is sent with her family to a Japanese internment camp.


Slaughterhouse-FiveSlaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
Rating:  *****

Excellent satirical novel about violence and war. A genius mix of fiction and Vonnegut’s experience as a prisoner of war in Germany during World War II.


Just Enough JeevesVery Good, Jeeves &
Joy in the Morning
by P.G. Wodehouse
Rating:  *****

From the collection of stories, Just Enough Jeeves.  Hilarious and clever, a light but smart retreat to the upper class world of England’s Bertie Wooster and his manservant Jeeves.


Second Street StationSecond Street Station by Lawrence H. Levy
Rating:  ****

An engaging historical fiction murder mystery about the first female detective in Brooklyn. Lawrence Levy’s first of a series.


America AmericaAmerica America by Ethan Canin
Rating:  ***

A political drama about the rise and fall of a United States presidential candidate in 1972.


The TranscriptionistThe Transcriptionist by Amy Rowland
Rating:  ***

Rowland’s debut novel about a newspaper transcriptionist and an unlikely news connection.


the valley of amazament picThe Valley of Amazement by Amy Tan
Rating:  ** 1/2

Saga about mother and daughter and courtesan life in Shanghai, China during the 1890s and 1900s.


Candidate_cover5Candidate by Tracy Ewens
Rating:  ****

Smart political romance full of fun, tantalizing banter and romantic tension.


IMG_1890“The Man Who Knew Belle Starr” by Richard Bausch
Rating:  *****

Jarring short fiction about strangers meeting, misinterpreted remarks and unstable situations.


I read some good stuff this summer!  How about you?

Thanks for visiting – come back soon!

What’s up next? Candidate, by Tracy Ewens

Candidate_cover5

I’m looking forward tso getting started on my advance copy of Tracy Ewens’ latest book, Candidate – A Love Story. Tracy has written two other terrific romances, Catalina Kiss and Premiere.  This one is about Grady Malendar, a character from her second book, Premiere.  Be sure to visit Tracy’s blog, From the Laundry Room to stay up to date on everything she is doing.

Check out this preview of Candidate  from Amazon

If only life were as simple as choosing between Toaster Strudel and Fruit Loops.

Katherine Galloway is two years divorced and still living out of boxes. Between her brothers (cops that work with her ex) and her mother’s constant reminders that her clock is ticking, Kate is trying to hold it all together. But the truth is, she’s eating Toaster Strudel for dinner, and living and breathing her PR career.. When it comes to public relations, there’s nothing she can’t handle . . . or at least that’s what she thinks.

Grady Malendar, the only son of California State Senator, Patrick Malendar, has a reputation as a playboy who likes to have a little too much fun. The senator is running for re-election and needs Grady’s help with the youth vote. But what they want is a new and improved, headline-free Grady, so they hire a PR firm. Grady is willing to participate in the dog and pony show to help his father win, but there are some things about Grady’s life he wants to keep hidden. Especially from his snoopy new PR “babysitter,” Kate Galloway.

Somewhere between campaign stops and fundraisers, Kate and Grady discover that neither of them are what they appear to be on the surface. Tensions between them grow until there is no denying they are falling in love behind the scenes of a façade they both need to keep in place. Will scandal, old wounds, and secrets tear them apart, or will Kate and Grady realize, despite appearances, they are both candidates for love?

Candidate will be available for purchase on June 23, 2015.

Click on the titles for my reviews of Tracy’s other books.  I hope you enjoy them as much as I did!

Catalina Kiss

I also enjoyed reading Tracy's first love story!
Premiere

Premiere is currently available in print and Kindle formats on amazon.com.

Thanks for visiting – come back soon!

What did you read in 2014?

readingavidly.com
readingavidly.com

What is it about end-of-year lists? I love making them and I love reading all the power rankings for movies, TV shows and, of course books! When the end of December rolls around, I think we have a built-in need to list, categorize, and choose our favorites before we move on to the next year.

So I made my list, sorted it and picked out the books I enjoyed the most. Here are my faves for each category.

2014 FAVES:

Best Classic: Youngblood Hawke – Herman Wouk
Best Contemporary Fiction: The Impossible Lives of Greta Wells – Andrew Sean Greer
Best Young Adult: The Caged Graves – Dianne K. Salerni
Best Suspense: The Silent Wife – A. S. A. Harrison
Best Romance: Premiere – Tracy Ewens
Best Short Story: “The Short and Happy Life of Francis Macomber” – Ernest Hemingway
Best Children’s Book: Tommy’s Mommy’s Fish – Nancy Dingman Watson
Best Nonfiction: In the Heart of the Sea – Nathaniel Philbrick

And here’s what I read in 2014:

FICTION:

The Classics

Jane Eyre – Charlotte Brontё
Breakfast at Tiffany’s
– Truman Capote
The Great Gatsby
– F. Scott Fitzgerald
Lord of the Flies
– William Golding
Youngblood Hawke
– Herman Wouk

Contemporary Fiction

Tell the Wolves I’m Home – Carol Rifka Brunt
Sea Creatures – Susanna Daniel
Stiltsville – Susanna Daniel
Billy Bathgate – E.L. Doctorow
The Round House – Louise Erdrich
The American Heiress – Daisy Goodwin
Death in a Red Canvas Chair – N. A. Granger
The Impossible Lives of Greta Wells – Andrew Sean Greer
Elizabeth Is Missing – Emma Healey
We Are Water – Wally Lamb
The Pieces We Keep – Kristina McMorris
What Alice Forgot – Liane Moriarty
Me Before You – JoJo Moyes
Mary Coin – Marissa Silver
All Fall Down– Jennifer Weiner
The Interestings – Meg Wolitzer
The Book Thief
– Markus Zusak

Young Adult

The Spirit in the Stick – Neil Duffy
If I Stay
– Gayle Forman
The Eighth Day
– Dianne K. Salerni
The Caged Graves – Dianne K. Salerni

Suspense

Coma – Robin Cook
The Silent Wife – A. S. A. Harrison
Child 44 – Tom Rob Smith
Before I Go to Sleep – S. J. Watson

Romance

The Amish Midwife – Mindy Starns Clark & Leslie Gould
Premiere
– Tracy Ewens
Catalina Kiss
– Tracy Ewens

SHORT STORIES

“This Is What It Means to Say Phoenix, Arizona” – Sherman Alexie
Wilderness Tips
– Margaret Atwood
“Death by Landscape” – Margaret Atwood
“Gryphon” – Charles Baxter
Dear Life
– Alice Munro
“House of Flowers” – Truman Capote
“The Most Dangerous Game” – Richard Connell
“In the Gloaming” – Alice Elliott Dark
“Saint Marie” – Louise Erdrich
“The Fastest Runner on Sixty-first Street” – James T. Farrell
“A Rose for Emily” – William Faulkner
“Babylon Revisited” – F. Scott Fitzgerald
“The Mail Lady” – David Gates
“The Girl on the Plane” – Mary Gaitskill
“Nicodemus Bluff” – Barry Hannah
“The Short and Happy Life of Francis Macomber” – Ernest Hemingway
“Cold Snap” – Thom Jones
“Landscape and Dream” – Nancy Krusoe
“The Horse Dealer’s Daughter” – D. H. Lawrence
“The Necklace” – Guy de Maupassant
“Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?” – Joyce Carole Oats
“What the Thunder Said” – Janet Peery
“Red Moccasins” – Susan Power
“The Chrysanthemums” – John Steinbeck
“Two Kinds” – Amy Tan
“First, Body” – Melanie Rae Thon
“The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” – James Thurber
“An Angel on the Porch” – Thomas Wolfe

CHILDREN’S BOOKS

A Friend Is Someone Who Likes You – Joan Walsh Anglund
Home for a Bunny – Margaret Wise Brown
Calendar Bears – Kathleen and Michael Hague
Robert the Rose Horse – Joan Heilbroner
The Lion and the Little Red Bird – Elisa Kleven
Make Way for Ducklings – Robert McCloskey
The Horse Who Lived Upstairs – Phyllis McGinley
One Hundred Hungry Ants – Elinor J. Pinczes
Pete’s a Pizza
– William Steig
Tommy’s Mommy’s Fish – Nancy Dingman Watson

NONFICTION

Empty Mansions – Bill Dedman & Paul Clark Newell, Jr.
The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace – Jeff Hobbs
In the Heart of the Sea
– Nathaniel Philbrick

What’s on your list?

Thanks for visiting – come back soon!

Author interview – Tracy Ewens

Tracy Ewens
Tracy Ewens

I recently had a chance to interview Tracy Ewens about her latest book, Premiere. I’ve always been very interested in how writers develop characters and plots and Tracy has graciously and openly answered all my detailed questions – so thanks, Tracy, for such a wonderful interview!

BCM: Congratulations on the publication of Premiere, your second novel! I really enjoyed reading the ARC you sent me. Tell me how readers can purchase your book.

TE: Thank you, Barb. Premiere: A Love Story is now available through amazon.com in both print and Kindle formats. It will be available in print through other retailers in a few weeks, and finally in NOOK format early next year.

Premiere is currently available in print and Kindle formats on amazon.com.
Premiere is currently available in print and Kindle formats on amazon.com.

BCM: And tell me about the Goodreads giveaway!

TE: I did this with Catalina Kiss and it was great fun. From 10/18 until 11/18, Goodreads members can enter to win one of five free copies of Premiere. Goodreads randomly selects five people and then I sign and send the books to them. I’ve opened it up to the UK and Australia for this book.

BCM: So, how was the process the second time around? Easier, more difficult? Were there different roadblocks?

I also enjoyed reading Tracy's first love story!
I also enjoyed reading Tracy’s first love story!

TE: Premiere was more difficult than Catalina Kiss because when I wrote Catalina Kiss I really had no idea what I was doing. Sometimes ignorance is bliss. I was just happy to write and Catalina Kiss was such a simple story. Once I was finished with it, I wanted to do more, expand what I could write about and create characters with a bit more going on. That is easier said than done.

The story for Premiere came quickly, but the characters were challenging. There were periods when I didn’t like either one of them. I wanted them to grow up, or stop whining, but it took me a while to figure out how to fix them. I think Premiere was more difficult because I wanted more, more of a story, so it pushed me. I feel like each story does that, moves me forward as a writer. I’m enjoying that process.

BCM: And how long did it take you to get from the first page to today?

TE: I finished Premiere about 3 months after Catalina Kiss came out, so 2013. It was edited once and then I sat with it. No one wanted to publish it, so I reworked it here and there, gave up on it at least half a dozen times. About six months ago, I found Maya Rock and she was the editor I needed. She asked the hard questions and helped me find a story that was clear and that I was proud to tell.

Until the second edit, Premiere was…fuzzy. There were some parts that just lost me and I knew they would lose readers, but I wasn’t sure how to fix them. I was too close. Maya came in and said, “Yeah, you can delete this,” or “I don’t understand why he would do this. Make sure that’s clear.” She was a fantastic resource.

Steven King once said, “kill your darlings” in reference to being able to edit and slash things that, no matter how much you love them, are not working. I struggled with exactly that while writing Premiere. So, to answer your question Premiere took about four months to write and over a year to edit and publish.

BCM: I like how you linked Premiere to Catalina Kiss. You don’t have to read the first to enjoy the second, but it was nice for me to have that connection. Do you think you will continue to write stories which include a little bit of Samantha’s family history?

TE: Premiere is the first in a four book A Love Story Series. Candidate is Grady’s story. It will have bits of Sam and Peter and of course their families. The third book will about Grady’s bitchy sister, Kara, and Logan who is a chef. The final book in the series takes place in Pasadena and Bodega Bay, which is another area of California that I love. The last book will be about Logan’s brother.

So, not so much Sam’s family history, but there will be pieces and characters from other books throughout the series. None of them will need to be read in order, but as you mentioned, it will be fun to spot the references.

BCM: Premiere is a modern story about a romance that sparks between your two main characters, Samantha and Peter, great friends growing up, and then it gets complicated. Which was more fun to write about, the conflicts or the romance between these characters?

TE: Both. I really enjoy a great fight and the tender revealing parts of making up. There’s honesty on both sides. People tend to reveal things in anger and then stretch where they are willing to go for reconciliation.

Sam and Peter have a history that I love. I think it really grounds their relationship and maybe helps explain why they put up with each other during certain parts of the story. It also explains why certain things hit them harder than say, a couple just getting to know each other. The history also creates some lovely moments romantically for them too.

There’s a part in the book where Sam recognizes what a rare thing it is to know a man and also remember him as the boy getting his first bike. When two characters are that connected, I think it adds something to the romance. It allows for laughter and genuineness that I really enjoyed writing.

BCM: You mentioned in our last interview that when you were writing Premiere, you created Peter’s character first. I think readers often assume that modern romance stories are mostly about the female character, but Peter’s character is very developed, and really expresses the twenty-something male mind. Which character was easier to write about, Samantha or Peter?

TE: Peter and I had a really tough time in the beginning and throughout the first set of revisions. He’s a complicated character and his first incarnation was super angsty. He was annoying and hadn’t really come into himself. I found myself wondering why the hell he came back at all if he still couldn’t get his act together. So, he took time, but I loved him by the final draft. It’s important for me that my men have dimension, that they are human beings and not simply a set of rippling abs. Peter grew into a really lovely, fumbling, damaged soul.

Samantha took some time too. I needed her to have a backbone and something to lose if she let Peter back in. At the same time, I wanted her to be vulnerable and loving. She comes from a great home and being a failed actress is always a touch dramatic. My editor still thinks she “cries an awful lot.” She’s solid, weighted in her family and deeply in love with Peter.

BCM: And so for you as a writer, does the character idea come first and then the plot, or do you develop both at the same time?

TE: The characters and the general place come first. I’m inspired by places. So, for Premiere, I had Peter and Sam in the room with me and I knew we were talking about a second chance and most of it would take place in a theatre. I always knew that theatre would be the Pasadena Playhouse.

The conflict arrives once I put them in the space, or figure out their backstory. Before the actual plotting begins, I have my ending. I always need to have some idea how the story ends, so I know where I’m taking these people.

The middle is the adventure; I’m often not sure what will pop up in the middle because it’s really driven by the characters.

BCM: In Premiere, you raise a sticky question that applies to all fiction writers. As a playwright, Peter’s best material comes from his own painful and very personal experiences. And Samantha and the rest of Peter’s friends and family have to deal with their personal lives being put up on stage for all to see. I think all writers do this to varying extents. Is it easy to remove yourself from your characters and give them attributes that don’t directly reflect your own experiences? How do you deal with ideas that come from your own experiences and put them into fiction?

TE: That’s a great question. I don’t see my characters as any one person in his or her entirety, but there are pieces of people I know, or have known, in my characters. The characteristics are usually jumbled and often pop up in the weirdest places.

For example, Grady says, “Progress, not perfection.” That is a phrase my mom’s husband uses all the time. Grady is nothing like her husband, but that phrase, that life philosophy, fits Grady, so it worked for the character. Gil, her husband, will recognize the phrase, but he certainly won’t think Grady is modeled after him. Another one is the breakfast that Peter eats every morning. It’s a breakfast my friend used to eat. I liked it because it seems so over the top to add all of that to Raisin Bran. It’s a quirk that works for Peter, but again, he’s nothing like my friend.

I’m a bit of a quirk collector, so those are usually things people in my real life will recognize, but my characters are always fiction. I have some people that I would love to directly translate to fiction, but I’m not sure I could do that. Knowing people is a bit of a confidence that shouldn’t be violated. If people let you in on a level that you could develop a character, I think that’s sacred and should be protected.

It speaks to Peter’s self centeredness that he doesn’t work harder to mask his characters or thinks nothing of sharing Sam with an audience of strangers. In his defense, the love scene is abstract, but it’s still a violation. It’s the only way he knows how to relate, or communicate for that matter, so it works for the character.

BCM: In our last interview, you named An Affair to Remember as one of your favorite movies, so that made it fun for me when Samantha and Peter watch this and one of Peter’s favorites, Some Kind of Wonderful, on their special movie date. How do details like this make it into your writing? Is it planned or more spontaneous?

TE: They are spontaneous. I’m not always sure where they come from. I was writing that scene and I wanted something that reflected the difference between Sam and Peter. Those two movies and specifically the two scenes noted in the book came to mind. I think if I had tried to plan it I would have messed it up, over thought it. When I’m open and my writing is flowing, the details are there, they appear. It’s one of my favorite parts about being a writer.   I sometimes feel as if I have this buried treasure of things, events, people, conversations that I discover each time I allow myself the creative space.

BCM: Tell me about the Pasadena Playhouse. As soon as my review of Premiere went online, they followed me on Twitter! How did you choose that playhouse to be Premiere’s venue?

TE: They followed you…Yay! I love Pasadena and the Playhouse has an energy, a history, which I have always found fascinating. It’s a gem and has not always had an easy run. It seemed the perfect place to put two people in need of strength. The Playhouse is a survivor. She adapts and moves forward.

I liked that structural image for this story. There’s also a connection to the community that I’m not sure many theatres have. Since Premiere is so centered around home and community, it seemed like the perfect place.

BCM: So, as you mentioned, your next book, Candidate, is about Grady, another major character in Premiere. Can you tell me a little bit about it?

TE: Yes, Candidate is Grady’s story. The first draft will be finished 11/21/14. I have to say that I love him. I mean, I always love the characters I’m working on, but Grady is something special. He’s the charmer, the smartass, in Premiere. I wanted to explore that and he certainly opens up into so much more in Candidate. Grady is the senator’s son. He’s the definition of privileged and a bit wild, at least on the surface. His father is running for re-election and hires a PR firm to help him with the youth vote, make him more relevant.

Kate works for the PR firm. She is from a cop’s family. Very grounded and two years divorced from a cop. Candidate is about appearances, keeping them up and discovering what often lies beneath. We see a little more of Grady’s bitchy sister, Kara, in Candidate as a lead into the third book, Al dente: A Love Story. Candidate travels to Washington DC and San Francisco with plenty of time in Pasadena and Los Angeles. There’s a definite clash of collars, blue and white, in Candidate.

BCM: I’d love to hear about what you do to give your writing polish. Do you go to writing workshops or trade ideas and advice with other writers?

TE: I’m super boring in this area. I write alone. I don’t have a writer’s group and I don’t really attend workshops yet. I have this weird sense that I’m always new, starting out, and not quite ready for “real writer” stuff. I’m not great at sharing my work before it’s done, or while I’m in the process. I don’t really want anyone’s opinion at that point.

Once I’ve finished the journey, I do ask for people to read and comment. I now work with two editors and a small group of people that I share my work with prior to publication. My advice to other writers is always, do what works for you. Writing feels very personal for me and I think processes can be, and should be, as unique as the people trying to share their stories.

BCM: Have you ever tried writing short fiction? Do you have any other projects in the works?

TE: I have never tried writing short fiction, but I do have a lot of fun on yeahwrite.me. They give a micro fiction prompt every week where the writer needs to tell a story in exactly 42 words. I tend to be very wordy, so these weekly exercises in brevity are great for me.

I’m currently finishing up Candidate before it goes to my editor for a first read through and I’m always blogging, although I’ve been in and out of the laundry room lately. It’s hard to keep both going when I’m trying to finish a manuscript.

BCM: Thank you so much, Tracy, for taking time to do this interview. Best wishes to you!

TE: It is always lovely to be asked. Thank you for everything, Barb.

Make sure you check out Tracy’s blog at  http://fromthelaundryroom.com/

…and her website:  http://tracyewens.com/

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