The USA Today HEA blog recently asked me a variety of pertinent and probing questions about my life and writing. So if you want to know about my worst date ever and/or the punny book titles I truly envy (among other topics), read on!
Pictured below: My feelings about Ruby Dixon’s book titles.
Please tell us a bit about your new release.
So here’s what you have in store when you read Mayday, my newest romantic comedy:
1. Helen, my nerdy, bespectacled librarian heroine. Plus-sized, like me!
2. Wes, the hot mayor who let her go once and is determined to win her back. In that pursuit, he’ll use his intelligence, creativity, persistence, and (I won’t lie; this is my favorite bit) his considerable sexual prowess.
3. Various May Day festivities, including a very suggestive maypole.
4. An elderly woman named Mrs. Whipler, who’s obsessed with The Bachelor to a startling and unhealthy degree.
5. The immortal question of whether dry-humping in a pool is still considered dry-humping, or whether it’s some sort of amphibious dry/wet-humping hybrid.
Mayday is the third book in my Lovestruck Librarians series, and it’s my favorite thus far. I really love Helen and Wes, and I hope my readers do too!
Is there an idea out there that you wish you’d thought of?
I love wordplay. I especially love wordplay that’s a wee bit profane. So when I saw the titles for Ruby Dixon’s Bear Bites shifters series, I came down with a severe case of Authorial Envy.
I mean, c’mon. Does a Bear Shift in the Woods? Shift out of Luck? Shift Just Got Real? Sheer genius. And undeniably hilarious, at least to me.
I wish I could think of something as clever for my books. So damn you, Ruby Dixon! Damn you and your punny, memorable titles!
What do you do when you get stuck?
I’m so glad you asked! I have a very mature, reasoned response to getting stuck in my writing. Here’s what I do:
2. Gnash my teeth.
3. Rend my clothing.
4. Have a light snack. (Adequate hydration and carbs provide crucial wailing/gnashing/rending fuel!)
5. Recommence wailing.
In all seriousness, I find that when I get mired in a certain portion of my manuscript, there’s usually a damn good reason. Either someone in the story is behaving in a way that’s out of character, the plot isn’t working, or there’s something else wrong—something so serious that I either can’t or shouldn’t continue until it’s fixed.
I may not consciously realize I’ve messed up before I find myself staring at the monitor and unable to find the right words. Somewhere deep in my warped writer’s brain, though, I know, and the words stop coming.
Once I comprehend that I’m well and truly stuck, I get in a good wail or two. Then I start analyzing where I’ve gone wrong, often with the help of my critique partner or writer friends. Fixing the problem might involve minor tweaks. Alternatively, it might require chucking my entire manuscript-in-progress and starting over. (Incidentally, I did that with my Mayday draft. Twice. Imagine my delight!)
When I’ve finally redressed whatever issues I have, the words start flowing again. At that point, I have another light snack and possibly a nap, since wailing/gnashing/rending and rewrites are exhausting.
Is there a TV show that you’ve recently binge-watched?
Early this year, I had a nasty cold. In between honking into tissues like a deranged goose, I watched a hell of a lot of TV. And I discovered that I loved certain shows on HGTV with an intense fervor that alarmed my husband.
“You’re still watching Love It or List It?” he asked in a carefully neutral tone. “Weren’t you watching that when I left for work this morning?”
“Shhhh!” I said. “I’m pretty sure David and Hilary are about to make out!”
What can I say? I’m a romance writer. I even watch home renovation shows for their unresolved sexual tension. And based on that coughtastic binge-viewing, I planned out a series of novellas loosely inspired by my favorite HGTV shows. So when I watched ten straight hours of Property Brothers, I was actually doing research! Or so I told my very skeptical husband.
Have you ever had a really bad date? Care to share?
Oh, I’ve had plenty of horrible dates. One in particular, though, stands out to me.
At the time, I was working as a historical interpreter at Colonial Williamsburg. A colleague whom I’d never met before was stationed at the Capitol Building with me one day. He was flirty and charming, and by the end of the day I’d agreed to meet him for dinner the following week. I didn’t really care where we went, but he kept talking about how he was going to take me to a romantic, classy place.
By the night of the date, that romantic, classy destination had become…
Wait for it…
McDonald’s. Which was not optimal, but okay. I was willing to go with it. I figured his paycheck was probably being stretched particularly far that week.
We met inside the Golden Arches, and he was still in colonial garb. At the counter, I ended up paying for my breeches-clad suitor, due to his mysteriously absent wallet.
But that wasn’t the part burned into my brain. No, the memorable part was when he gazed across that plastic table at me with soulful eyes, propped himself on his elbows, and said in his best seductive tone: “I have quite an appetite for you, Olivia Dade.”
Me: “Eat your chicken nuggets, dude.”
Lesson we both learned: Lines like that may work for a BDSM-loving alpha billionaire when he’s wooing his virgin submissive with jewels or a new car. However, they do NOT work when deployed over a Happy Meal. At least, not for me.
What’s coming next (or what are you working on now)?
I’m about to start working on the sixth and final book in the Lovestruck Librarians series. I love the slow-growing romance between Mary, the sweetest of all the Battlefield Library ladies, and Miles, a television star who’s hiding in rural Maryland after a serious injury. I especially adore how they initially get to know each other via e-mail, so I’m able to tell a chunk of the story through their letters.
And after I finish writing Mary’s story, I’m totally making my fictionalized versions of David and Hilary go at it. Just because I can.