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Archive for the ‘California’ Category

Gale and Michele are our winners! Thanks so much for joining us!

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Elisabeth Barrett: I’m thrilled to welcome Grace Conley, Addison James, and Gayle Parness to my blog today. They are three authors in the Candy Cane Kisses and Enchanted Embraces box set, which contains ten (count them!) holiday romances that range from paranormal to contemporary to new adult. Thanks for joining me, ladies, and of course the first thing I want to hear about are the books. Spill!

Grace Conley: Here’s the premise for Christmas Weekend: A Heart’s Delight Short Story: San Francisco cop Joe Maggiano runs into his long-lost flame on Christmas Eve – during a terrible fire! Will he and Gwyn be able to re-kindle their love over the course of a holiday weekend in charming Heart’s Delight, California?

Addison James: My contribution to our anthology is a story called The Holiday Fixer. It’s based on the holiday classic film, The Shop Around the Corner where two coworkers who despise each other in real life are unknowingly falling in love through anonymous letters. In my story, they meet anonymously on the online dating site they both work for called Coupling. She is the head of product development for the site and he is an outside internet security expert sent to protect the site from hackers. Sparks fly!

Gayle Parness: My story, Winter Solstice Wishes, begins and ends around a “murdered” Christmas tree. Elle, a lovely fae lady, has been a guest in Sasha’s home for six months, recovering from her mistreatment at the Faerie Court. Sasha, a sexy vampire, has fallen head over heels for Elle, but because of his troubled past doesn’t feel worthy of her. But it’s the night of the winter solstice, the longest night of the year, and the woodland fae have invited Elle and Sasha to celebrate with them. Perhaps this night will work its magic on two lonely, battered souls, helping them connect and find love.

Elisabeth: I love the fact that all of these books are written by NorCal authors. Are your books set in NorCal, too?

Grace: Absolutely!  In fact, what is currently known as the Silicon Valley used to be called “The Valley of Heart’s Delight,” back in the old days when the region was made up mostly of orchards and vineyards, rather than techno-googleplexes. Heart’s Delight, California is a fictional small town based on aspects of Los Gatos, Morgan Hill, and Santa Cruz. The first stories focus around the lives and loves of a tightly-knit family of vintners who are trying to build the next Napa.

Addison: I have one other book set in Northern California, also set in Silicon Valley called Pop-Tarts and Texting. I like cute geeks so Silicon Valley inspires me! My other books take place in other places I’ve lived: such as Boston, Edinburgh and Vermont.

Gayle: Winter Solstice Wishes is set in and around Crescent City, California, which is about as far NorCal as you can get. California offers up such a wide range of geographical locales, providing a wonderful palate for a writer seeking a good setting for their story.

Elisabeth: Where do you get your ideas?

Grace: I think all writers played spy a lot as kids.  I love observing other people and listening to them talk.  This might be through formal means, like interviewing a fireman, or informal, like eavesdropping on people in line to buy their morning coffee!

Addison: I usually get my ideas from real life. I hear a story, read something in the news and think, what if this happened instead of that, and what if… Kind of like that movie, Sliding Doors where the Gwyneth Paltrow character’s life changes based on whether or not she catches the subway train. I think, what if x,y or z happened instead of a, b and c, and write about it.

In this case, however, since there was a time crunch for the anthology, I took a plot from a classic film!

Gayle: I cheated. Both of my characters are supporting characters in my Rogues Shifter Series. Sasha, who’s been in all seven books, is one of my reader’s favorites so I thought I’d give him a girl to love. Elle made her first appearance in book seven. Both of them already had detailed backstories and were living in the same house, so it wasn’t too difficult.

Elisabeth: I know that this is Grace’s first published work, which is amazing! How did you decide to make your first piece a collaborative one?

Grace: I wanted to test out what people would think of the town of Heart’s Delight and its citizens, but the idea of indie publishing a short story all by its lonesome seemed silly…and a bit daunting!

I thought it would be so much fun — both for the authors and the readers — to get together a group of terrific Northern California writers and put out a holiday romance bundle.  I wrote notes to several author friends, and voila!  People can try out ten cool Contemporary and Paranormal writers for less than a buck.

The book is really a holiday card to our readers, written from the heart.

Elisabeth: Addison and Gayle, you two were both successfully indie published prior to this collaboration. Want to weigh in on the decision to do the box set? Was it more or less challenging than publishing solo?

Addison: I wanted to be part of the box set for a couple reasons. One is that although I’ve been published through small ebook publishers, I felt like I was missing something. Marketing, promotions, just in general how to sell a book is new to me. Also, writing is very solitary. I like being part of a team and that aspect of this really appealed to me.

Gayle: I almost bowed out. The fall was a busy time for me. I had a book already on pre-order, scheduled to release Dec. 19th that I hadn’t finished, let alone sent off to be edited. But after thinking it over, I decided I couldn’t pass up this opportunity for several reasons:

  1. Many of my Silicon Valley Romance Writers of America pals were doing the anthology and I love working with them.
  2. It gave me an opportunity to delve more deeply into two favorite characters’ lives.  I also got to spice things up a little since my regular series is a young adult series. Winter Solstice Wishes is not YA.
  3. The other authors involved were also top-notch and understood the importance of having a strong social media presence. I knew I could learn a lot from them.

And yes, it was more challenging in some ways than dealing with my own books where I answer to no one. (lol)  I’m one of those—Marketing? Sorry, too busy writing—kind of authors.  Social media posting, uploading, sharing, liking, and following had not been a daily activity for me in the past. Now I feel a bit more savvy in that department, and that’s not a bad thing in this connected world.

Elisabeth: What’s next in the pipeline for all of you?

Grace: More fun, sexy stories about the men and women of Heart’s Delight, California — I’ve been working on two back-to-back full-length novels.  I write alpha heroes with a sense of humor — the hero often ends up with egg on his face, preferably a whole carton of them lobbed by his heroine!  Hmm, now I’m thinking of writing a food fight scene…anyway, friend me on Facebook to hear more news about upcoming releases!

Addison: I am editing  a women’s fiction novel tentatively titled Second Chances about a woman who reunites with an old flame, and editing another one set in Silicon Valley about a four women in a book club, and their lives and loves.

Gayle: My new ebook, Breaking Out, Triad Series Book 1, is available for preorder and officially releases December 19th.  Woot!  It’s the story of a young male with a strong magical bloodline trying to survive in a dangerous paranormal world. You’ll be able to find it at all the normal vendors.

Elisabeth: Grace, Addison, and Gayle–thanks so much for joining me today! Candy Cane Kisses and Enchanted Embraces is available through early January, and you can find the book at all major e-tailers: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Google Play, Apple, and Kobo

And here’s where you can find the authors!

Grace: Facebook

Addison: Website, Facebook, and Twitter

Gayle: Website, Facebook, and Twitter

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GIVEAWAY: I’m giving away 2 copies of the anthology to two lucky commenters below who “like” the box set on Facebook here, and answer this question in the comments section: Are you a candy cane purist (peppermint only), or will you accept a substitute (spearmint, cherry, etc.)? Contest ends December 11 at 9pm PST!

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I’ve been feeling unsettled as of late, and I think it has something to do with autumn being on the horizon.  Usually, I’m pretty grounded in the present.  I know exactly what I have to accomplish week-to-week and day-to-day.  I am the master scheduler for our family of five – no small challenge in itself, and more often than not, I have things well under control. 

But in the past week or so, I haven’t been focused on the present.  I’ve been focused on the future.  Part of that is because I love the upcoming season – autumn.  Apple picking.  Fall festivals.  Hayrides.  Pumpkin carving.  And I just can’t wait to get started.  The weather isn’t helping, either.  Crisp and cool, it’s just begun to feel like fall in Northern California.  I love it, but it’s making me antsy for what’s coming ahead. 

As August comes to a close and September begins, I’ve been thinking about how much I miss New England.  It’s no surprise – my first series is set on Cape Cod (where I used to live and work), and I’m just finishing up my second book under contract.  It’s fulfilling, exciting writing, and believe me, I’m enjoying every minute of it.  So why am I so eager to move on?

I think the key for me is the change.  I’m restless.  I want to do something.  Make something.  Create something.  Every day is a fresh opportunity for me to do that and I’m trying to make the most of it.  So as one project is coming to an end, I’m about to begin a new one – finishing up the first book in my second series, also set in New England.  It’s an exciting time of year.  The best time of year.

What’s your favorite season?  Why do you love it so much?

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Late summer in Northern California.  The cool, misty mornings.  The unbearably bright, hot sunny days.  The break in the heat in early evenings.  And then, dusk, edging slowly, slowly into night, growing ever cooler until the last glimmers of light are gone and the moon rises high in the sky.

Today was such a day. 

Such a gorgeous, glorious day.  I spent it outside with my family, basking in the sunshine.  Then, later, I used the zucchinis from my friend’s garden to make zucchini bread.  Moist, cinnamony and delightfully chewy, it filled the house with an incredible aroma.  I had a Proustian moment.  Flash back twenty years:  me pulling up zucchini from our backyard garden as long as my forearm and twice as thick – monsters that had been allowed to grow unchecked.  The look of surprise on my mom’s face when I brought them into the house that quickly morphed into one of happiness, as she realized the extent of the bounty.  The loaves and loaves of bread she baked, and the delicious smell – summer’s almost over.  Fall is on the wind.

I can almost taste it.

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