Tag: Small town romance

Author Stacey Joy Netzel

Stacey Joy Netzel – Love where you least expect it.

I want to welcome Stacey Joy Netzel to the Guest Author blog this week.

Thanks so much for inviting me Judy!  I love small town romance and am excited to share my little part of the genre with all of you.

Tell us about your latest Book.

It is Spring Serendipity, book 8 of the Romancing Wisconsin Series

Sometimes love happens when you least expect it…
Lora Howell is stunned to find out her husband cheated on her before his death, but drinking too much and picking up a one night stand to get back at him might not have been the smartest thing to do. Facing the stupidity of her actions, the thirty-two year old mother of two recognizes the emptiness in her heart can’t be filled by sex—especially not with the town playboy whose reputation for loving-and-leaving is legendary.
Charismatic SWAT Officer Shane Parker was perfectly happy with his carefree bachelor ways until that one night with the beautiful widow. Now he can’t get the woman out of his head, and the more time he spends with Lora and her young boys, the higher the risk to his heart. Convincing her he’s ready to settle down becomes the most important negotiation of his life—until one last unexpected bombshell threatens everything.

Available at all retailers listed here: http://staceyjoynetzel.com/books/spring-serendipity/

8StaceyJoyNetzel_SpringSerendipityWhere is your series set?
Romancing Wisconsin is set in northeast Wisconsin, in the real town of Pulaski—well known around WI for its lively Polka Days Festival every year. I live about 8 miles out of town, and while I’ve kept the name, flavor, and a few businesses true to life, I’ve also taken liberties to create some fictional parts of the town and surrounding area, as well as fictional events.

The series is broken up into ‘seasons.’ The first 3 books revolve around Christmas (though Book 1 is a Christmas in July story), the next 3 are set in Autumn, and I’m currently working on the Spring set. Each season has 3 books and one short bonus story. When I get to Summer next year, you can be sure some of the characters will be going to Polka Days.

What sets your series apart?
In each book of the series there is a matchmaker named Santa Butch who has a hand in getting the hero and heroine together. Sometimes it’s very subtle, and leaves the reader guessing, “Was that Butch?”, and sometimes it’s very obvious he had a hand in the match. Even the townspeople are starting to catch on to him.

Butch holds a special place in my heart because he’s loosely based off my dad, who played Santa for families around the lake while we were growing up.

Very cool to use your dad. What attracted you to the small-town romance genre?
I grew up in a small town of just under 1000 people, about an hour north of Pulaski. And even then, that’s mostly where I went to school. We lived 14 miles out of town on a lake, and my parents didn’t drive us many places, so that lake, and out of town vacationers were what kept us active (swimming/ice skating). As a kid, I wasn’t so sure I liked being so far away from everything, but once I left home and ended up in bigger cities, I longed to go back to country living. I like setting my characters there because I can write them from the standpoint of where they can’t wait to get out of the boondocks, and others are relieved to be away from the hustle and bustle of the city.

Do you have a new book coming up?
I’m currently writing book 9 in the Romancing WI series, Spring Dreams, and then I’ll also have the short bonus story Spring Spark (9.5) that goes out FREE to all my newsletter subscribers. (make sure to sign up at www.StaceyJoyNetzel.com)

What a great idea! What do you enjoy doing when you are not writing?
Reading, watching TV, gardening/canning. Though the older I get, the less my back can handle being out in the garden for too long. This year, I’ll be supporting the local organic farm a few miles away by ordering my canning veggies from them.

Is it coffee or tea for you?
Tea. Unfortunately, I have to limit myself to a cup or two a day because I only like it with sugar and honey.

Wine , whisky or beer?
None. I like raspberry vodka slush (a recipe I came up with by modifying a brandy slush recipe), or some Frangelico (hazelnut liqueur) over ice. And even then only occasionally, because again, lots of sugar, and I’ve never been much of a drinker.

Hazelnut liqueur sounds fantastic. What’s on your desk?
Besides the usual pens, books, notebooks…Puffs Plus with lotion, tea mug or water glass, a little stuffed K-9 dog from when I attended the Writer’s Police Academy, Himalayan salt lamp, a match-box sized Delorian from my son because we love all the Back to the Future movies, a smooth rock with the word ‘inspire’ from my daughter, a ‘Joy’ knickknack from a good friend, and occasionally peanut butter M&M’s, marshmallows, and fresh flowers.

If money was no object, where would your next vacation be?
Alaska. Cruise, train tour, hiking…all over the course of a month or two so I’m not rushed and stressed. That’s a version of Heaven to me.

Thanks again, Judy! It was great visiting!  I’d love if you all visited Pulaski in the Romancing 1StaceyJoyNetzel_MistletoeMischief_200pxWisconsin Series and let me know how you like it. In addition to giving away an ebook copy of Spring Serendipity, Book 1 in the series, Mistletoe Mischief, is perma-free on all retailers.  Go to http://staceyjoynetzel.com/books/mistletoe-mischief/

You can find all of my books at my website, and you can also sign up for my newsletter for FREE reads, new release information, and exclusive sneak peeks, and cover reveals.

Okay. Thanks for doing this today Stacey. To qualify for the draw next Monday to win an eCopy of Spring Serendipity, send Stacey a comment below. Come back next Monday to see who the winner is, when I’ll be talking to Kimberley Lang.

Thanks for stopping by.

Judy sig









Corrissa James – Back to the Heartland

headshot croppedAward-winning author Corrissa James, my guest author this week, was not always a country girl. In fact, she fought it all her life, traveling the world to live in far-flung cities like St. Petersburg, Russia, Caracas, Venezuela, Varanasi, India, and Guadalajara, Mexico. She didn’t realize she was meant to live in the country until she returned to her roots in Nebraska, where she discovered the beauty of the fields around her (even if she was allergic to them) and the intensity of Mother Nature, who sure packs a wallop!

Corrissa’s contemporary western romance novels offer afternoon reads focused on strong women and the men they choose. But it’s never without some struggles along the way.

This week we’ll be giving away a kindle version of her Great Plains Romance Series novel, So Wills the Heart. (Check the sidebar for the winner of last week’s draw.)

Hi Corrissa. Good to have you with us. I drove across the US last summer and passed through Nebraska. Beautiful country! Where is your series set?

The Great Plains Romance series is set in a group of fictional towns in northeast Nebraska. I grew up in the area (and spent my entire youth trying to escape it!), but never really understood how exciting small towns could be until I returned later in life. Everyone knows everyone else (and their family business!) or is related to everyone in some way, and people are quick to offer their two cents on any situation.

There are exhaustive lists of shared memories, but everybody remembers things differently, and the details can be argued about for hours (ahem, years?). Every person in a small town has secrets, but usually the “secrets” aren’t really secrets at all. Some people are desperate to escape the small towns while others refuse to leave.

All in all, the setting offers a great opportunity for all sorts of drama—and people in small towns are experts at creating their own drama, whether at a family event, a street dance, or even over coffee at the local gas station. Oh sure, people in small towns may look like they are leading a laid-back life, but scratch the surface just a little and an exciting spectacle is sure to ensue. That’s one of the characteristics that made me want to write small-town romances.

That’s a great explanation of the appeal of small town romance. Where do you get your story ideas?

Almost all of my ideas start with a single moment and I build the characters and stories around that. For example, So Wills the Heart was inspired by a discussion about swimming in ponds and how you always have to be careful because you never know what you might find, especially in the smaller ponds (our talk focused on snapping turtles from that point forward). I liked the idea of having a startling, unexpected encounter in this very out-of-the-way place and used that to create a pond scene for So Wills the Heart. Ultimately that same idea—being surprised by what you find in new places—permeates throughout the story.

Evie, the heroine, heads to rural Nebraska to clean out the house of a deceased relative whom she’s never even heard of. Although she initially agrees to the project as a way to run away from some of her own skeletons (which she has a habit of doing), she quickly becomes bored with the endless parade of glass figures on the shelves, so she heads out to explore the countryside.

Enter Jonathan, the youngest of four close-knit brothers running a cattle operation. I won’t give So-Wills-The-Heart coveraway all the details, but suffice it to say that their initial meeting takes place in a pond and it is electric! Ultimately, Jonathan opens Evie’s eyes to the beauty of the area, and she starts making all sorts of discoveries about herself and what she wants out of life.

But of course we all know that in small towns, drama is always part of the package, which creates a difficult decision for Evie: Stand up to the challenges or fall back on her tried-and-true reaction of running away and starting over.

Sounds like a great premise. Do you have a new book coming up?

I am fleshing out a new series related to rural vineyards (which has been a great excuse to visit all the wineries in the area!). Some of the stories incorporate the vineyard in the heart of the conflict, others use events that take place at the wineries, but they’re all still very much small-town romances. I’ve committed to having two new books available for a readers’ event in early November, so I guess I’d better get cracking!

The research sounds brutal! Looking forward to seeing them next fall.

Now here’s an excerpt from So Wills the Heart:

Evie sat down on one of the stools and waited. She checked her phone. No messages. No data service either. She could pull up a map using one of her apps, but the GPS service couldn’t track her location. The Internet wouldn’t load.

“Great. Stuck in a bar, but I don’t know where.”

“It’s the Porterhouse.”

She swung around on the stool to see Jonathan Clark standing just inside the doorway.

He smiled. “Can’t get enough of me, huh?”

“Oh, you can help me! Where am I?”

“Porterhouse Bar.”

“No, I mean what city.”

He frowned, then cocked his head. “Excuse me?”

She slid off the stool, laughing at his expression as she moved to show him the map on her phone. “I’m visiting the area and went out exploring today, kinda got lost. This is where I need to be.” She held up the phone, but he ignored it.

“Visiting, huh? I guessed as much.” He pushed past her to walk behind the bar, where he filled a red plastic cup with ice and water from a soda dispenser. He drank the entire cup without pausing, never taking his eyes off her. He refilled the empty cup and handed it to her. He leaned both elbows on the counter, then looked up at her as she drank. When his eyes dropped to her neck, she nearly choked on the water. He looked back up at her and smiled.

“You sure you’re just visiting? Couldn’t you at least pretend to be thinking of staying?”

She shrugged and set the plastic cup down on the bar. “I could see myself living out here, with all the open skies.” She caught her breath. What made her say that? She hadn’t even considered leaving Denver to live here, but when she looked at Jonathan, who was watching her closely, she smiled. Yes, she could see herself enjoying more afternoon swims with him


Catch up with Corrissa at her website, www.CorrissaJames.com, on facebook, or twitter.

If you want to read more of Corrissa James, visit her Amazon Author page, or comment below to enter this week’s giveaway of So Wills the Heart.

Then, see you next week when New York Times bestselling author Stacey Joy Netzel will be my guest, and I’ll announce this week’s winner.

Thanks for dropping by.

Judy sig










Tamra Baumann – It Had To Be

My guest this week on the small town romance series is Tamra Baumann.

Tammy writes stories she calls, Fun, small town contemporary romance with lots of heart. Sounds perfect for the series!

I Hi Tammy. What is your latest book?

– My latest puBaumann-ItHadtobeFate-21904-CV-FT-V3FrontCover copyblished book is the third in my IT HAD TO BE series,  IT HAD TO BE FATE. Here’s the blurb:

Falling for a bad-boy rock star is the last thing single mother Casey Anderson-Bovier should do. Embroiled in a custody battle with her ex, Casey is fighting to raise her boys in their quaint Colorado hometown—a secret haven for celebrities. But when it comes to her hotel’s newest guest, Casey can’t connect the dots. Is Zane Steele the out-of-control rocker plastered all over the media, or the captivating man with a killer smile who’s charming her and her two boys?

Zane has a good reason for letting the world believe the worst of him—and that’s a secret he’s sure he can never share…until he meets Casey. After years of having fans fall at his feet, he’s found the one woman who brings him to his knees. Casey is beautiful and intriguing—and thoroughly justified in not trusting him one bit, especially with her family at stake. But the only way to be together is to convince her to take a chance on him, on fate, and on their crazy, unexpected love.

What sets “your” town apart?

–  My town is a secret celebrity hideout, and the crafty mayor has provided incentives for all the townspeople to keep their guests’ identities secret.

Sounds like a fun premise. Lots of room there for trouble. What attracted you to the small-town romance genre?

–  My parents both grew up in small towns in Iowa, while my sibs and I were Navy brats, moving constantly and stationed in much larger cities. It fascinated me how even strangers (to me) knew who I was. And I loved going into the town’s diner for ice cream on hot summer days.  We never needed money to pay for our treats because everything went on my grandparents’ tab. You couldn’t do that in Southern California!

How much has your own life influences your writing?

– As writers, we have the opportunity to live vicariously through our characters. So while you’ll never open my closet and see row after row of Louboutin red soled shoes, some of my characters might have them.  I was a real estate appraiser for 25 years before becoming a full time writer last year, so I’ve seen thousands of closets! And seen lots of other things that I have used in books.  (With names changed to protect the innocent, of course.)

– Wow! What a great resource for quirky characters.  How would you describe your writing process?

–  I’m a hybrid writer. I plot just enough so I know where the story will go and what the big turning points are in the story, and then I let the in between happen naturally. Now, don’t misunderstand, I WISH I could plot down to the nitty-gritty, but it’s just not how my busy brain works, so I end up going back and weaving in story threads all the time. Not the most efficient way to write, but it works for me.

– me too. What do you feel are the pluses and minuses of writing a series?

–  It’s fun to write series because characters from previous books show up, but it can be hard too.  I have to keep the characters consistent, the facts about the town the straight, and I can’t forget that the name I chose for a beloved character changed after I turned the book in because my editor didn’t like it. That happened to me in the second book of my series. I was talking to a fan who said how much they enjoyed a certain character and I had to stop and think for a moment who the heck she was talking about!  That was a “Duh!” moment for me for sure. LOL

Do you watch any reality TV?

– Yes! I am a reality TV JUNKIE! I love all the Housewives on Bravo, their outfits and lifestyles are outrageous, and I have watched Survivor from the early years. I don’t actually know people like those on the Housewives, so I enjoy studying them and using parts of their personalities in my characters. I like The Voice and Dancing with the Stars because I love to root for underdogs!  It’s fun to see others striving for and living their dreams.

What do you enjoy doing when you are not writing?

–  When I’m not writing I like to cook, take walks, play tennis, and travel. But my son is getting married next month, so I’m doing a lot less cooking and much more walking and dieting to fit into my dress! (And I bought some spanx as a backup plan!)

– I’m with you! That was me last year. What do you read?

–  I read many genres, but I try to limit other contemporary romance while I’m writing (which is most of the time) because I worry I’ll accidentally borrow a line or phrase that I admired in another book. I have no clue where my words come from sometimes, so I don’t want to risk stealing a good line.  I like to read historical novels and light mystery while writing, but while in editing mode, my must-read authors are Jill Shalvis, Nora, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Kristan Higgins, and many more. They are my reward for getting through my copy edits. ;0)

Do you have a new book coming up?

– I do! I’m writing the second book in my Matchmaker series right now and don’t have a title as of yet. I’m hoping that one will be out in September.  And then the fourth book of my IT HAD TO BE series, IT HAD TO BE THEM, will be out October 11th.Baumann-ItHadtobeFate-21904-CV-FT-V3FrontCover copy

Thanks Tamara. I’ll be giving away IT HAD TO BE FATE as this week’s contest giveaway, next Monday to one person who comments on this post. It could be you!

You can connect with Tamra on her website, www.tamrabaumann.com, and find her books at Goodreads and her Amazon Author Page.

Next week’s guest author is Nanette Day, so be sure to come back next Monday to see who this week’s winner is.

And watch for my own giveaway this coming Friday to celebrate the launch of Summer of Fortune, the first full length book in my Fortune Bay series!

Thanks for reading. Don’t forget to comment!

Judy sig







Author Lee McKenzie

Lee McKenzie…writing fifty shades of pink

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!

The Parent Trap - front cover
This week’s giveaway!

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:To Catch a Wife - Lee McKenzie - front cover

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.

PetHamsters 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 Vintage Chairwith 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.
A Feathered Bench
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.
Emily shrugged.
“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.

Judy sig

Jenny Andersen’s Western Heroes

Today we are kicking off the Small-town Romance Guest Author series with Jenny Andersen. I recently read Jenny’s Calendar Girl, Book I of her Western Heroes series and loved it. A crazy cast of characters, great desert setting, a nice dose of mystery and, of course, the romance. What more could you want?

But, before I forget –

Each week of the series I’ll be picking a name from the comments for our weekly giveaway. This week, a free eBook copy of Stalking Bel, one of Jenny’s Western Heroes books. Check out the short excerpt at the end of this post, then leave Jenny a comment to enter.

Winner will be announced next Monday when Lee McKenzie will be my guest on the Small-town Authors series.


So Jenny, What can you tell us about your latest book in the Western Heroes series?

Well, this one’s a no-brainer, Judy.  My mind is always so full of the latest book!  It’s a reissue, but indexsince it involved a fair amount of rewriting and rethinking, it’s still on my mind, competing with the new book I’m supposed to be writing.  ☺  Also, I stepped back to write my usual short story prequel to the book.  [The short stories are a perk I send to the people on my mailing list.]  In the case of Reckless Promise, the setting is a dude ranch in Montana.  Its name is The Montana Blue, which is kind of a strange name for a ranch, so I had to explain it.  [Since I’m a gemologist when I’m not writing, the answer is…sapphires.]

Sapphires! I’m already intrigued. But what attracted you to the small-town romance genre?

Does anyone need to explain the attraction of the romance genre?  I didn’t think so.  As for the small town part, it’s a direct result of my very schizophrenic upbringing.  I spent half of each year in a large city, being as urban and sophisticated as a small child can be.  The other months were pure liberation, spent on a farm in an area that can only be considered hillbilly.  Horses, dogs, cats, chickens, other kids…a creek to play in, wild persimmons in the woods…  I loved it!  And the nearest town had a population of about 400.  So of course I wanted to write about rural places and small towns.  Of course there were also chores, yellow jacket nests to step on, and rattlesnakes, but hey, conflict is necessary, right?

51gev5xLmOL._SX326_BO1,204,203,200_Right! How would you describe your writing process? 

Chaos.  That’s the short answer.  I yearn to be one of the truly dedicated and disciplined who sit down at the keyboard at—what, 9:02 and 30 seconds?—every day.  And turn out at least 10 pages of deathless prose in that time.  The wretched truth is that while I do write [almost] every day, it happens whenever that day allows it to happen.  And as for deathless prose…no.  Fortunately, I like to revise.  And I’m really lucky when I can write scenes that follow each other in order, a la the incomparable Susan Elizabeth Phillips.  Some writers are plotters [Suzanne Brockmann], some are fly-into-the-mist pantsers [SEP].  Corrina Lawson described my natural writing style as patchwork quilt.  And it’s fine, but stitching the disparate pieces together to make a coherent story is a lotta work.

What sets your town apart? 

This series is made up of stand-alone books with different settings but cross-over characters.

Are you self-publishing? 

I’m a hybrid.  I like the idea of a foot in each camp since the publishing industry is so crazy.

Can we look for more books in the series? 

You bet.  Glitter and Gold is coming up next.  A successful and ultra-urban jewelry designer inherits a Victorian house in a small town.  She also inherits three crazy old miners, a drydocked Navy Seal, and a lost gold mine.  Along with someone who’s ready to kill to get it.

Sounds like another winner. Now for the serious question – Coffee or tea?  Wine, whiskey, or beer? 

Sigh.  I’m a wine girl at heart, but my doctor interfered, so it’s pretty much coffee or water.

Thanks for starting us off Jenny.

51roSSFZcOL._SX330_BO1,204,203,200_Keep reading for an except from Stalking Bel, Book II in the Western Heroes series.

She was gone.
She had run, but it wouldn’t do her any good.  He’d find her.
Too bad she hadn’t died when he’d torched her house.  Watching it burn had felt good.  No.  Not just good.  Stupendous.  Like being God.  Everything flaming, roaring, melting, just the way he’d planned for her.  Except she hadn’t died.
Maybe it was better this way.  Now he could make sure she’d really suffer.  And suffer and suffer some more, until she begged to die.  He had destroyed her house and all her belongings, made her homeless.  Next, he’d destroy her career, her precious writing, see to it she lost her fame, her success, everything she’d gotten so unfairly.  Then…he’d end her life.
He imagined her trapped, shrieking in agony, flames laying waste to her just like they’d done to her house.  She’d die.  Eventually.
The stalker lifted a glass with one trembling hand and let the rich scent of red wine blend with his anger.  The burning had been good, an inferno leaping toward the sky, turning her life to ashes.  But not enough.  Not nearly enough.  Now, he had plans to remedy that.
* * *
She’d never seen a real palm tree before.  Palm trees didn’t grow well in Manhattan.  Elegant restaurants, chic stores, sophisticated people…yes.  Palm trees, no.
And smart people took taxis.  Bel Baxter, aka Belinda Beverly, elegant, sophisticated writer of best-selling historical romances, gritted her teeth and jerked the steering wheel to turn into the driveway of a borrowed hacienda in a decidedly not elegant,  not sophisticated seaside town in California.
The snappy little BMW that had been waiting for her at the airport whipped past the gate post and embedded its nose in a bush.
“It’s your own fault,” she told the car after she stopped screaming.  “No one drives in Manhattan.  I’m out of practice.”
New York.  She brushed a straggling curl out of her face, smearing a lone tear away, and told herself to suck it up.  California lay a continent away from the fruitcake trying to kill her.  California equaled safety.
This driving thing, though.  Not so safe.  She kept a car in the city and had a valid driver’s license, but only drove once a year when she went to the Hamptons.  She’d gotten just a tad rusty.
The driver she thought she’d hired had rushed off to his wife’s bedside to hold her hand while she had a baby.  Even after years on the NYT list, Bel didn’t have enough diva genes to object to that.  Anyway, she’d been sure the dealership could supply another driver.  But no.  “It’s like riding a bicycle, it’ll come back to you in no time,” the manager said on the phone.
After she backed out of the rosebush, she parked next to the wide, shady veranda, climbed out onto the gravel driveway, and inspected her new home.  White stucco walls and red tile roof, broad-leafed tropical plants…she might as well have landed on an alien planet.  No high rises, no doormen, no bustling crowds.  The whole neighborhood, the whole town, looked like something out of a surfer-dude movie.  And until her stalker was caught, she lived here.
All because of one nutcase.

Be sure to leave a comment to qualify for this week’s giveaway and check back next Monday to meet Lee McKenzie and see the winner of this week’s contest.

Until next time,

Judy sig