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Friday, November 15

Meet Kristina Knight by Liz Flaherty #WordWranglers

Continuing in our series of Wrangler interviews, I'm talking to Kristina Knight today. I hope you enjoy our talk as much as I did.

Hi, Kristi. You and Margie are the only original Wranglers left, although I got on board soon after the blog's beginning. So much has changed since then! We've watched bebe grow up (too fast), we've written lots of books, and...yeah, it must be said, some of the changes have been like a Judith Viorst book title--"horrible, no good, very bad..." 

So tell us--

1. You were orphaned when Harlequin Superromance ceased publication. It was awful--we all know that--but how's it been since? What's your next stop on the romance-writing career train? 

Hey, Liz! Well, technically I'm not an 'original' Wrangler - I think I joined the blog a year or so after it was begun? I'm glad to still be blogging here, though. You know, post-Superromance-life has been up and down. I've been just trying to find my footing and really think about what I want to write moving forward. I'm mid-pivot, trying to get more into writing women's fiction, but I do love romance and I don't think I'll ever really 'quit' writing it. I'm in the submission zone right now - have a proposal out with Harlequin and am getting ready to turn in a requested full to one of the category lines so..just moving forward, I guess, is what I'm doing right now! 

2. While we're on hard subjects, bebe's almost a teenager. Any idea how you and Radio Man are going to survive that? 

Oh, jeez, I have no idea. She's 11 now, so we're in full-on tweendom and some days are great and she's silly and funny (as per the usual) and then we get hit with a Hormone Avalanche and everything is terrible! horrible! no good! very bad! On those days, we wonder what the heck we've set ourselves up for, but mostly, we just try to keep things calm and not overreact. It's hard!

3. What's your project-in-progress? The Wranglers started as a review group, something we seldom do anymore. We often don't even know what the others are writing, so catch us up! 

Right now I'm working on revisions for the first of what I hope will be a two-book series, set on a small Caribbean island, featuring a prince is disguise and a television 'princess' who...well, don't see eye to eye on how their past affair should affect their future. 

5. There've been so many changes in the industry. How do you feel about some of them?
For the most part, I think the changes within the romance genre have been good. Self-publishing definitely opened the market to many more writers, but a good story is still a good story. I wish that sites like Amazon would crack down harder on the scammers, but I'm not sure how we make them see the damage that bookstuffers and other scam artists are doing to the industry. So, mostly, I keep my head down and write my books and hope they hit the right audience at the right time. 

6. We're coming hot and heavy into the holidays. Got a memory you'd like to share? 

How about our second Christmas with bebe? Because that was the year our adoption was finalized (December 15th) which was the best (slightly early) Christmas present ever! Plus, she was at a great age - 18 months so she was old enough to love the lights and music and get excited with all the boxes. Literally, the boxes. I don't think she played with a single toy that year but those boxes got a workout! (Interviewer note: I couldn't read this without getting sniffly. Shelby was the most beautiful baby and Kristi and Kyle the happiest, coolest parents. They're all still beautiful and cool. Okay, back to being official here...)
Still a beautiful baby--sniff! 

7. Something you wish you'd known before you decided to become a writer?

That writing isn't just about writing. We definitely need to put words on the page, but we also need to fill our writing well - reading, taking time *not* writing (like people watching or museum wandering), watching TV or movies. It can be easy to fall into the 'if I'm not writing I'm not a writer' trap, but the thing is that while writers do write, they also observe and think and wonder. If we aren't taking the time to do those things, our stories won't be as rich. (Another interviewer note: What a great answer this is!)

***
A cheating fiancé sends Camden Harris fleeing to her grandparents’ home in Missouri. When her ex follows, determined to win her back, Camden makes a deal with neighbor Levi Walters: they’ll pretend to be in love and she’ll support his plan to buy her grandparents’ land.
The boy from her childhood has grown up into an impressive man. His charm, good looks and sweet gestures make it difficult for Camden to remember this is fake. And Levi’s kisses only confuse her more.
"Another win from Kristina Knight, and this one just in time for the most wonderful time of the year! I adored Camden and Levi's story set amid the glittering Christmas lights of my favorite small town: Slippery Rock." - Amazon Reviewer

***
Kristina Knight began her writing career as a radio and television journalist, working for NBC affiliates throughout the Midwest as a reporter, anchor, and producer. After covering everything from a serial killer’s capture to the National Finals Rodeo, she decided to leave the TV biz in favor of writing stories she was passionate about. 
Today, Kristina is a freelance writer as well as published romance author. She writes about family/parenting, covers entertainment news, and writes content for a small business website in her non-fiction hours. During her fiction time, she writes romances filled with great characters, fun communities, and always with a happily ever after.
In her personal life, Kristina is a wife, mom, and author, living her happily ever after one deadline at a time. A life-long Midwesterner, Kristina has lived in Missouri, Nebraska, and Ohio, where she job-hopped her way through college before eventually landing in the world of journalism. After a ten-year career reporting and producing news for several NBC affiliates, she traded in her journalism cap for yoga pants. She now writes stories that always end in happily ever after.
Kristina writes sassy contemporary romance novels; her books have appeared on Kindle Best Seller Lists. She loves hearing from readers, so feel free to email her!

Tuesday, November 12

The Healing Summer: An Interview with Author Liz Flaherty

I know y'all already know Liz, but I really wanted to talk to her about THE HEALING SUMMER, which released just a couple of weeks ago. The book is the story of Steven Elliot--you may remember him from ONE MORE SUMMER. He's Grace's brother. ONE MORE SUMMER is my all-time favorite of Liz's books, so a trip back to Peacock, Tennessee, was a treat!

NAN: Liz, your new book, The Healing Summer, is just out and I have to tell you, it’s one of my favorite new books this year. Can you talk a little about the book’s genesis?
LIZ: Its beginning actually came about several years before I actually wrote the book, because it started where One More Summer ended. Just as in real time, time had passed in Peacock, Tennessee, too. Wounds had…well, not healed, but gotten better. Authors don’t have favorite books—it’s not allowed! 😊—but they do have ones with stronger holds on their hearts. When One More Summer’s hold wouldn’t let go, The Healing Summer happened.

NAN: One of the best things about your writing is how real your characters are. I love that Carol is a hairdresser when so many romance novels have heroines who are “high-powered…” well, you can fill in the blank. Did you have to do some research for Carol?
LIZ: Well, I did and I didn’t. I already knew her—and loved her—from One More Summer; the shop was already there. I’ve gone to the same beauty salon for about 10 years. I’ve had the same stylist—hey, Denee!—and it’s one of my favorite businesses in our small town. Most of the back-and-forth from Carol’s Clip Joint started from a conversation in Hairtique, and I mined it shamelessly—all the while laughing a lot and having my natural blond hair made…more natural.

NAN: One More Summer is one of my very favorite novels—it’s a comfort read for me, so I love going back to Peacock, Tennessee. What was it like for you to make the trip back in The Healing Summer?
LIZ: At the risk of sounding hopelessly sappy, it was like going home. I’d spent so much time and so much heart there that going back to write Carol’s story was a warm and comfortable place to be. Getting to see the people from the first book and to accompany them on more of their journey was like a gift. I guess it was from me to me, but somehow Peacock and its stories have lives of their own, separate from me. I loved being invited back.

NAN: Steven is a little bit of a lost soul in One More Summer and actually not my favorite character, but I love how he’s grown and developed in The Healing Summer. Talk to me about his arc and tell me, is it hard for you to write male characters?
LIZ: It is hard for me to write men, which you knew before you asked such a mean question. 😊 My thought processes and my vocabulary just don’t lean that way. Truthfully, too, Steven does have a startling capacity for being a pain. But there’s such a big heart in there and he’s been hurt so much, and he carries off a ponytail so well that I just have to love him. I always worry about people I write being too much alike, but I don’t think I’ve ever written another Steven.

NAN: Do you think you’ll be going back to Peacock again in another book? Any character nudging you to tell their story?
LIZ: You know, there is another story. I didn’t mean for there to be, but sometimes that’s the best kind. It’s still percolating, and I’m not sure I have the writing time to do it justice, but I want to know what Reese does when she grows up.

NAN: What’s coming up next? Anything in the works that you’re ready to talk about?
LIZ: My next Christmas Town story, A Place to Hang Her Heart, will be part of an anthology in February—we switched up holidays—plus we’re releasing last year’s stories in two anthologies. If you missed them, they’ll be coming soon!

NAN: A few quickies here:

NAN: Best money you ever spent as a writer? 
LIZ: Every writing retreat I’ve ever been on.

NAN: Favorite season to write about? 
LIZ: I don’t have one, really. I like all of them.

NAN: Trip you’re longing to take? 
LIZ: Duh. Prince Edward Island.

NAN: One book that always makes you cry? 
LIZ: I don’t recall titles, but there are scenes… When a dog died in a Kristan Higgins book. When the heroine talked about her husband’s illness and death in a Pamela Morsi one. When a hero has wept in nearly any book. In The Healing Summer, I cried over Miranda every time I had to talk about her. I’m a fan of crying over books. I still sob when Beth dies in Little Women.

NAN: So glad you could take the time to talk to us, Liz, and I hope y'all head to your nearest book retailer and grab your copy of THE HEALING SUMMER. It’s amazing!
LIZ: Thanks for interviewing me, Nan. It was fun!

Buy Links
Barnes & Noble: http://bit.ly/2n8X2OR
Google Play: http://bit.ly/2pTzO0F










Retired from the post office and married to Duane for…a really long time, USA Today bestselling author Liz Flaherty has had a heart-shaped adult life, populated with kids and grands and wonderful friends. She admits she can be boring, but hopes her curiosity about everyone and everything around her keeps her from it. She likes traveling and quilting and reading. And she loves writing.

Social Media Links:
Email: lizkflaherty@gmail.com
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/lizkflaherty/

Friday, November 8

At the Table


     Just the other day, I was rifling through a slew of recipes that were ungraciously jammed inside my Pillsbury cookbook.  That cookbook had been my very first, obtained in my sophomore year of college, when four of us had abandoned the dorm for more sophisticated living in a two-bedroom townhouse.  The cookbook was a necessary item if we intended on not visiting fast food restaurants for every meal.
The four of us sat on Merilee’s bed, reading the choices offered to us through a book club which included a second book for free with the purchase of one.  Now, “free” is the most sacred word in a college student’s vocabulary.  Thus, we poured over the selections and opted for the two we figured we could use the most as life quickly propelled us out into adulthood.  We selected Pillsbury Kitchen’s Cookbook, and, naturally, The Joy of Sex.
​Those four years went by too quickly and somewhere between graduation, relationship separations, and moving on to higher expectations, “Joy” was lost in the shuffle, but, in one of life’s little ironies, the cookbook remained in my safekeeping.   So, the other day, I went searching through it, yet again, looking for the winning combination of dishes to be served at this year’s Thanksgiving.  Though the book itself is well-worn, it was the loosely stuffed recipes in the back of the book—those uncategorized, un-alphabetized, gravy-stained and faded recipes—that were really the golden ones I was after, because those are the ones that were handwritten by my loved ones who are no longer with me, except through a multitude of memories, photographs and recipes.
I pulled a couple of them out, smiling over them as if they were winning lottery tickets, and, without so much as lighting a burner on the stove, I could smell my grandmother’s corn pudding and Auntie’s (Grandma’s older sister), sweet potato casserole.  My grandmother’s writing for the corn pudding had quite a few abbreviations, which reminded me that she’d been a secretary ninety years ago, and had known short hand.  She had been my grandfather’s secretary before becoming his wife, making me think that her shorthand must have been beyond belief!  Auntie’s instructions for the sweet potato casserole were written in long, slanted cursive writing, like she had taken her time writing it.  She was a pious old thing in her later years, though not so much in her younger ones.  Auntie had been married five times—twice to the same man—though little was spoken about it, at least in her presence.  Then, finally, I came upon Mama’s recipe for cornbread dressing and I heard myself let out a little sigh.
Mama passed thirteen years ago, and the sting of it remains.  I guess it always does when you lose a parent, and, in my case, parentS, who were as wonderful as mine were.  Though the forcefulness of the pain eases over time, it never stops entirely. There are certain moments when it can knock the wind out of you again, especially when a memory of them catches you off guard, such as in the case of the dressing. Seeing my mother’s writing—quick, succinct, to the point—exactly like she was, started that tiny stinging in my heart once again.  So, I poured a lukewarm cup of coffee, sat down at my dining room table, and looked out at the fading-fall view of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
When I was a kid, my entire family spent Thanksgiving and Christmas together.  We pushed tables together so that we could all sit close to one another.  Those gatherings looked like a Norman Rockwell painting, but how easily I took them for granted, never giving much thought to the fact that we would one day scatter off in different directions or be gone entirely, just like the autumn leaves.
My husband and I moved from Florida to North Carolina shortly after Mama’s death, leaving old friends behind.  This year, just as we have for more than a decade now, we’ll share Thanksgiving with newer friends who are treasured little blessings in our lives.  As we sit down with them at our candle-lit Thanksgiving table and begin passing around the different side dishes, I will once again think of Grandma, Auntie, and Mama, and my new and old worlds will join forces at that moment.  I will almost hear Auntie’s overly long blessing, followed by a bawdy joke being whispered from my beautiful grandmother’s mouth.  And I will almost be able to hear, feel and see Mama; taking charge, being in charge, but lovingly so, by making sure that everyone has what and all that they need.  They will all be there; in the memories, in the stories told about them, in the food that they made dozens of times for dozens of holidays, and I will whisper a quiet and humble “thank you” to them all when we bow our heads for the blessing.

Tuesday, November 5

Divine Intervention


     I’m supposed to be working on a novel right now, but life has had other ideas about what I’m “supposed” to be doing.  Topping the list of things that have distracted me was having our once-healthy spring go almost completely dry last week, and, worst of all, my dear brother-in-law had a heart attack at about the same time.  Needless to say, we’ve all been worried sick about him, but he had a stint put in and he’s doing well.  Thank God.

As far as our water is concerned, we’ve had 6” of rain over the last several days, and while that’s helped some, it looks as though our spring is on its last leg.  So, we’ve decided to put a well in. 

Yesterday, we had a “water diviner”, or a “water witch”, come out to find a good spot in which to dig our well.  For those of you who live someplace where old customs and beliefs are no longer considered a viable means of solving a problem, let me tell you a little about this water divining business. 

A stick is used to point out where there’s water on your property.  Usually a branch from a peach or willow tree is used, though this fellow, Matthew, cut a maple branch from my tree.  The small cutting was in the shape of a wishbone, and Matthew held the wide ends of the “Y” part of the “wishbone” while keeping the single stick part of it out in front of him.  When he came to a spot where there’s water, the stick bent over it.  It was quite an amazing thing to watch.  There the water diviner went, back and forth, in a pattern like he was mowing my lawn, and every now and then, that stick would bend.  It didn’t take him long to find the right spot.  When he felt a good, strong pull, he stuck the pointer end of the stick into the ground to mark it, and then I tied pink tape around it so that there was no mistaking where the spot was.  Soon enough, a giant drill will come out and bore down several hundred feet in that particular place simply because a maple branch signaled that there’s water there.

Now, if some of you are snickering in disbelief as you read this, let me just give some validity to this method by saying that a huge construction company had Matthew come all the way over to Charlotte, which is ninety miles away, just the day before yesterday to find water on the site they are working on.  Those people, with all of their experience and/or college degrees, not to mention all of their fancy, modern-aged equipment, relied on a man with a wishbone-shaped stick to find water, and I can guarantee you, they will proceed with their operation based on his findings.  So, if a multi-million dollar company relies on him, you can bet your last dollar we will, too.

There have been other distractions that have kept me from burning up the keyboard lately.  For instance, my sister came in town week before last and stayed for five days, and my husband’s birthday was last Tuesday, which required a celebratory outing and some fancy dining.  So, what does all of this have to do with writing, you might ask?  Nothing…and, at the same time, EVERYTHING.

There are times when my writing is waylaid, and I have no choice but to just go with the flow.  But I’ve come to understand that those non-writing times are as critical to my stories as the actual writing time is.  I look at it this way: My brain is in the marinating mode when I’m not actually creating sentences and chapters.  It’s absorbing all of the details of these events going on around me, which will ultimately add interesting layers and colorful patterns to my stories’ tapestries.  The bottom line is that distraction can be a wonderful form of action when it comes to enriching my work.

When we think we’re not doing much creatively, we have to take a deep breath and realize that our best work is highly influenced by real events, people and situations in our lives.  Instead of becoming frustrated, it’s important to understand that this is all part of the writing process, and that those experiences are pooling together to give us an abundance of ideas and material as plentiful as water in a deeply dug well.



Friday, November 1

Of Witches and Water

by Margie Senechal

The little witch in me loves Autumn. I love the bite in the air as our Indian Summer fades, the return of rainy wind storms, and the crunch of leaves on the ground. I love the array of reds and oranges that dot the landscape.

I love the décor of the season--cauldrons, leaves, bats and cats, bottles of potions. I love that the bazaar season begins in our town and my mom, sisters, and KB join me in the hunt for the perfect craft. Remember my tile coasters? I ended up with so many that I donated a glut of them to the Humane Society store, ReTails.

But, like Liz, I enjoy the dawn of each season--well, for us in the Pacific NW, we have two and a half seasons--we have rain that gets split by cold temps and sometimes snow in Winter and rain that gets chased away by sun in late Spring or early Summer--although this year rain won that battle. I don't know how many of KB's softball game were rained out this season--more than the last five years combined, I'd say.


As much as I love life in this area--on some survey, Washington State was named the Number 1 place to live--living in the Evergreen State during Autumn has it's drawbacks. We'll never have the coloring of the NE side of the country--but that just means I have another trip to plan. 


Besides the coast, one of my favorite places in the PNW, is Multnomah Falls. There's just something about water that fills my soul. If I could swim, I might have been a mermaid instead of a witch :) So, here are some fall pictures from this remarkable place.

That person on the bridge must be a tourist--real natives wouldn't have an umbrella. Come on... :)

Now, if I could only find a season that included not working....

Have a great weekend! 




Tuesday, October 29

Just a Few Fall Favorites ~ @AuthorKristina Knight

We're talking about seasons here at WordWranglers, and I have to say that I think every season is my favorite. I love the heat and sunshine of summer and the colors of spring and the smells of fall and snow of winter. But I also get tired of those things after a while, so I suppose its a good thing that we live where we do - because we get to experience it all...and we always know there is something 'new' coming up.

But there are a few things that I love about each of the seasons. Here are a few of the things I love about fall.

The chill in the air.

I'll be complaining about the cold to anyone who will listen in two or three more months. But when fall first arrives, and that briskness hits the air, and my nose starts to get cold...there is just nothing like that. Needing a hoodie outside, breaking out my Bearpaw slippers, taking my favorite leggings out of storage - I love all of that!

The food.

I'm not much of a pumpkin spice fan, but I do love a good soup. And hot cocoa. And soup. Broccoli cheese is a current favorite. Chicken Tortilla. Loaded Baked Potato. And, of course, there are the Thanksgiving favorites - turkey, stuffing, homemade pies. I've gained five pounds just thinking about them all!

The fashion.

Okay, I mentioned leggings and my favorite slippers already, but fall fashion - the chunky sweaters paired with leggings, the ankle boots, the jeans and flannels...I never get tired of fall fashion. I like layering my clothes, and I especially like wearing jeans and leggings and sweaters and flannels without also needing a heavy winter coat that hides it all!

The changes.

Colors of the leaves. The way the sky turns just a little more pink in the evenings and a little more blue in the mornings. How the fields start to brown. The orange of the pumpkins. All my favorite colors seem just a little deeper than usual in the fall and draws my attention. It reminds me that change, while scary, can also be beautiful.

What about you? Do you have a fall favorite?      ~Kristina