First – the winner of last week’s giveaway – Helena Korin! Helena’s copy of Jenny Andersen’s eBook, Stalking Bell, is on the way to her inbox.
Now on to this week’s guest author.
I’m so excited to have my friend, multi-published Harlequin author Lee McKenzie as my guest!
I know it’s a much-used phrase, in fact the name of one of the Harlequin imprints she publishes under, but I’d truly have to describe Lee’s books as “heartwarming”. They always make me feel good, like there are still possibilities in life for a happily ever after.
And to celebrate having Lee here today, I’m giving away an eBook copy of her Harlequin romance The Parent Trap to one lucky reader who comments on her blog this week! (This contest closes Sunday June 6 at midnight.)
Let’s see what Lee’s been working on lately.
JH: Hi Lee. What is your latest published book?
LM: To Catch a Wife, (Harlequin Heartwarming, May 2016).
is my most recent book and as you can see, it was released just this month.
The story is set in the fictional small town of Riverton, Wisconsin, and it’s the first book in The Finnegan Sisters trilogy. To Catch a Wife is available online right now—in both print and eBook formats—and in June it the mass market edition will be available in select Walmart stores throughout the US. The second book in the series, His Best Friend’s Wife, will be out in December 2016. The working title of the third book is Cowboy, Come Home (release date TBA).
Here’s the back cover blurb for To Catch a Wife:
He’ll prove he’s back for good
Detective Jack Evans will keep proposing as many times as it takes. He never expected to come home to Riverton, Wisconsin, let alone to find himself lost in a night of passion with reporter Emily Finnegan—and he gets an even bigger surprise when he finds out she’s pregnant. Now he’s determined to marry the beautiful brunette. It took a world-shaking surprise to make him realize what was missing in his life. But Emily has been hurt before and isn’t convinced his desire to marry her is about love. He’ll do whatever it takes to prove his heart is hers…for as long as they both shall live.
JH: You’ve described Riverton as a “fictional small town”, but is it totally made up, or based on a real place?
LM: Riverton, Wisconsin, is a fictional small town loosely based on the town of Wabasha, Minnesota, on the bank of the Mississippi. I don’t know anyone who lives in Wabasha, but I have been there twice and fell in love with its wide Main Street lined with old, two-story brick buildings. I decided to fictionalize the town because I don’t know enough about Wabasha to make it realistic. The best part of making up my town is getting to make stuff up! If you would like a closer look, please check out my April post on the Harlequin Heartwarming Authors Blog, aptly (I think!) titled “Making Stuff Up.”
JH: What attracted you to the small-town romance genre?
LM: I love to incorporate a sense of community in my books and, for me, a small-town setting makes that a lot more fun. Anyone who has ever lived in a real small town knows there are always a few quirky people who make life interesting.
In To Catch a Wife, readers will meet Mable Potter, a retired high school English teacher who taught several generations of Rivertonians and now lives alone with her scallywag of a dog, Banjo. The title of this book is a play on To Catch a Thief, and Mable and her dog just might be involved.
Pets actually play a big part in my stories. The heroine of this story, Emily Finnegan, has a hamster named Tadpole.
I held a Name This Furry Friend contest and the name Tadpole was the hands-down favourite among my panel of judges. I had fun coming up with an explanation for the name, and the winner is acknowledged in the book.
JH: I love your tag line,Lee McKenzie…writing fifty shades of pink. How did you come up with it?
LM: Believe it or not, my husband came up with this one. I overhead him explaining to someone that I’m a romance author, and that person asked, “You mean like Fifty Shades of Grey?” My husband replied, “No, more like fifty shades of pink.” And my tag line was born. I think it perfectly reflects what I write…wholesome, tender romance with a focus on family, friendships and community.
JH: What do you enjoy doing when you are not writing?
LM: My favourite pastimes are, in no particular order, cooking, gardening, reading, DIY projects, and scouring thrift stores and second-hand shops for bargains and vintage finds.
I’m excited to share one of my latest vintage finds—a child-sized antique chair that was refinished with Annie Sloane chalk paint. Even the vinyl seat has been painted, and in a beautiful colour called Duck Egg Blue. This is not one of my DIY projects. The chair had already been refinished when I discovered it, and it now has a home beside my fireplace where it awaits the arrival of my first grandchild early this summer.
Then there’s other side of thrifting. I often encounter another person’s attempt at DIY that I find…what’s the word?…confounding. For example, this coffee table was made into a bench and upholstered with faux fur designed to look like feathers. Needless to say, this one stayed in the thrift store, but I couldn’t resist snapping a photo.
And no, you’re not seeing double. The price tag is $69.95!
JH: What is your favourite TV show and why?
LM: The Big Bang Theory is my all-time favourite sitcom. The writing is brilliant and the character development truly inspired. The show’s creators have taken a popular stereotype—the science geek—and crafted four believable and compelling archetypes. Genius! I’m so impressed, I’ve actually developed a writing workshop based on these characters.
JH: Okay. The final question – Coffee or tea?
LM: I love coffee—the darker and stronger the better—and every morning begins with a café con leche (equal parts espresso and scalded milk). I sometimes have a cup of green tea or herbal tea in the afternoon. Otherwise, it’s water, water, water.
Lee here. I want to thank Judith for inviting me to be a guest on her blog, and all of you for joining me here today. If you would like to keep in touch and find out more about my upcoming books, please feel free to drop by my website [www.LeeMcKenzie.com] and sign up for my newsletter, Life in the Slow Lane. For now, I will leave you with an excerpt from To Catch a Wife. Happy reading!
EMILY FINNEGAN SETTLED onto the middle stool at the big kitchen island, sliding comfortably into her place as the middle sister. No matter what was wrong with the world—floods, famines, personal freak-outs—here in the heart of the Finnegan family farmhouse, everything felt right.
Her younger sister, CJ—Cassie Jo as their father affectionately called her—sat on the stool to Emily’s right. CJ was dressed for the stables in dark jeans and a faded denim work shirt, her long blond hair pulled back in a high ponytail.
Across the gleaming white Formica countertop, Annie, eldest of the three sisters, stood with carafe in hand. “Coffee?” She angled the pot over Emily’s mug. If the kitchen was the heart of the home, then Annie was the life force that kept it beating.
“Sure. Oh, wait. No.” Emily hastily withdrew her cup. “Only if it’s decaf.”
CJ clapped a hand to Emily’s forehead.
Emily ducked away from it. “What are you doing?”
“Checking to see if you’re running a fever. Since when do you drink decaf?”
A good question for which Emily didn’t have a good answer. Yet. “I haven’t been sleeping well, so I thought I’d cut back on caffeine, see if that makes a difference.” Only partly true, but at least it wasn’t a lie.
“It’s ten-thirty in the morning,” CJ said.
“Not a problem,” Annie said. “I’ll make a fresh pot of decaf. It’ll be ready in a few minutes.” She looked amazing in a slouchy yellow pullover and crisp white slacks. Given everything she would have accomplished since getting up before sunrise—gathering eggs from the chicken coop, making breakfast, vacuuming, laundry—Emily had no idea how Annie kept herself looking fresh as a summer daisy.
While her older sister turned to the coffeemaker, Emily tried to ignore her younger sister’s scrutiny. Ever since CJ had been little, she’d had a talent for sniffing secrets and wheedling information out of the secret keeper.
“You’re being weird,” CJ said.
“I’m always weird.”
“Weirder than usual.”
“Don’t bug your sister.” Annie, ever the mom, filled CJ’s mug, then her own.
The coffee smelled like a little piece of heaven to Emily. How would she make it through nine whole months without coffee? Although, if the secret thing that had been keeping her up at night turned out to be true, it was now closer to seven months.
Don’t forget to leave a comment for Lee, to be eligible for The Parent Trap, giveaway. And come back next Monday to see who is the winner – and when Stephanie Bergett will be my guest.
Thanks for joining us.