Monday, November 21, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

If you're in the US, I hope you have a great Turkey Day! To all my friends, may your entire holiday season be full of fun, great reading, and great writing inspiration :) I'll be scarce for the next couple of weeks, but I promise to return with adorable puppy news. Yep! We're getting a new puppy next month. Details (and hopefully pictures) when I return.

Take care.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Upcoming deadlines

This will be short and sweet, since it's that time of year when I know everyone is scrambling around to get things done. Our neighbors have their Christmas lights up, so I guess the holidays have officially begun :)

Is anyone entering the Golden Heart this year? The deadline for entry forms and fees is tomorrow, so get a move on it! Manuscripts have to be sent in by December 2nd. Check out RWA's website for rules and exact times.

If you missed Harlequin's free online conference last week, they have archived transcripts of all the chats, podcasts, webinars and more at and at under The Write Stuff forums. Those archives hold a lot of valuable information straight from the editors at harlequin, so it's worth taking some time to check it out. They're hosting what I'd call their contest of the year. Submit your full manuscript by December 15 and if yours is picked, the prize is a book contract! Check out the details on their website.

And what bigger deadline is there than Thanksgiving? I love Thanksgiving, but I can't believe it's less than 2 weeks away! Is it my imagination or does it seem like deadlines pile up around the holidays?

What are your plans for contests and/or the holidays?

Monday, November 7, 2011

Interview with Harlequin Superromance Author Kay Stockham

It's such an honor to have award winning Harlequin Superromance author Kay Stockham here today. In person, Kay is warm, sweet and humble, in spite of all her success. In books, well, she's an outstanding author who really puts her characters through the ringer! I guarantee if you read one of her books, you'll find yourself gobbling up the entire series then reaching for the next.

Grab a cup of coffee, gather around...and find out which TV hero Kay made real life, face-fanning eye contact with this summer ;)

1. Having read your books, it's no surprise to me that your debut novel, Montana Secrets, won the Hold Medallion for Best First Book, was a Cataromance Best Superromance, hit the Walden books Series bestseller list and more. I'd need an entire blog post just to list all the awards and nominations you've been honored with since then, including being a RITA finalist in 2007. Without fail, your stories deliver complex, true to heart characters, unresolvable conflict (at least until the HEA ;) and a heart twisting, emotional ride. How has your approach to brainstorming and writing changed since publishing your first book (CP's, writing software, plotting vs pantsing etc...)?  

I don't think my process has changed much since I sold, actually. I'm still very much a plotter, and while I don't know all the twists and turns between Point A and Point B, I do have to know what A and B are. As to software, in the last year or so I've started using Scrivener and I looooooove it. I would normally have notebooks and post-its and files etc and spend so much time searching for the research or information I needed, but now everything is stored in my Scrivener doc and right at hand.

2. Your recent releases, The Sheriff's Daughter, In The Rancher's Footsteps, Christmas in Montana, and A Hero In The Making (due out in January) take us back to North Star, Montana to revisit the town and characters from Montana Secrets and Montana Skies. Carly was struggling with the teen years when we first met her, and it was wonderful to see her all grown up in The Sheriff's Daughter. You did an incredible job developing her 'grown up' character based on the teen your readers bonded with. When an author goes back to revisit a series/characters, is it based purely on author choice (with solid proposals of course), sales records from the first books of a series, fan pressure ;), or editor suggestion? When you wrote the first two books, did you know you'd be going back to North Star? Will you be revisiting the Tulanes of Tennessee?

It's a little of all the above. In my case the editor who purchased Montana Secrets and Montana Skies mentioned that she would love to see Carly and Skylar all grown up, but in my head they were still very much teenage girls. But several years later they both began 'talking' to me again and stories began to form in my head. I think I needed time for them to grow up, and for me to have a better idea of the stories they needed to tell.
October 2011
3. Okay. I have to say that In The Rancher's Footsteps is a book that's begging to be a movie! Heck. I'm begging for it to be a movie! A headstrong, loyal, rancher hero...a no win situation...Montana scenery...oh, and let's just say the heroine brings along some vivid visuals of her own ;). I'm telling you, it's the perfect movie book, TV or otherwise. I realize film rights are mentioned in contracts, but who determines whether a book should have a shot at screentime? Who takes action? Is it an author's agent? The publisher? The author?

Thank you! I had a lot of fun with that story. But once again the answer is a combination of all the above--plus some Hollywood magic dust. My understanding is that if a book creates enough buzz, those interested/wanting rights contact the author, publisher etc and things progress from there. Lots of authors dream of having their books made into movies (myself included!) so it's fabulous to get that phone call.

4. I don't think an author ever forgets their first Call. We'd love to revisit your call story and hear about the final steps that you feel helped you reach that moment.

My call story came as I was on the way out the door to school to be a room mom for a Valentine's Day party (back in the day when cupcakes were still allowed in school!) The editor called, I cried (I was her first crier. LOL) and after a short conversation we agreed to talk again later after the party and after the tears had stopped. Even better, the following Monday my husband and I left for Vegas for a pharmaceutical convention so I was able to celebrate my first sale on the Vegas strip. It was a fabulous trip. :)

Final steps? Write, revise, repeat. ;) Plus a lot of reading. All go a long way in helping a writer form their voice, and we subconsciously pick up on the cadences and pacing of dialogue, etc.
September 2011
5. Abuse, bullying, prison time and disabilities are just some of the emotional topics you've delved into in your stories. I had tears in my eyes towards the end of The Sheriff's Daughter. Don't worry everyone, Kay always delivers a happy ending! Writing, like reading, can be an emotionally intense experience. When you're working on a book, how do you extract yourself from the moment/mood of the scene at hand and jump straight into dealing with motherhood and daily routines? Do the emotions linger and affect your mood, or does hearing 'Mom! I need clean socks!" snap you out of it?

Oh, what a great question! Yes, the clean socks scream definitely pulls me out of the mood. I've also discovered writing a love scene with the kids in the house is completely impossible. I've always said kids are the perfect form of birth control. LOL  I have a few scenes that have lingered on after the writing was completed, but for the most part once they're out of my head and on the page the mood is gone as well.

6. Liam, Brad and Chance McKenna, are the deliciously headstrong heroes of your recent releases. You write equally strong heroines. Contemporary romance practically demands strong heroines. What's the key to creating a heroine who is contemporary inspite of her insecurities or vulnerabilities?

For me it's writing heroines I'd want to be friends with. They're strong, they're funny, they're likable and that's the key for me. We all have our vulnerabilities at times but that's simply a part of who we are. The rest of the time we're multi-tasking moms/friends/daughters/wives/lovers who have a million balls in the air and no soft place to land. Those are the types of characters I like to read about, so I think it's natural that those are the characters I like to write about as well.

7. You were recently invited to take part in an animal adoption benefit anthology. Can you tell us a little more about it? What else do you have in store for your readers?

The anthology is headed up by Lori Foster and is the second anthology I've taken part in to benefit various charities. As you said, this one is for an animal adoption group Lori has chosen and each author in the anthology contributes a fifteen-thousand word original story featuring A) a romance, and B) an animal. The books will be available in print at Lori's Reader and Author Get Together held in West Chester, Ohio, June 1-3, 2012, and in digital format. For more details, go to I'm working on my story now and having a lot of fun with it, but I don't want to give too many details away.

As to what comes next... I've written a short Christmas novel I hope to publish in December via Kindle, Nook etc. After my last set of deadlines, I found myself struggling to go back to my computer chair (because I'd spent so many long hours there already) so I decided to open a blank screen and just write whatever came to mind as a fun, creative exercise. Well, soon I couldn't wait to get to my chair, and a very unique story unfolded before my eyes. Something I haven't read anywhere else and am quite excited about. I had to set this story aside to meet the anthology deadline but I hope to get back to polishing it in the next few days. I'll let you know when it's posted! :)

January 2012
8. Apart from not quitting, what's the one piece of advice you'd like to give unpublished writers? advice would be to refill the creative well as often as possible. Writing is solitary and lonely at times and it's easy to get caught up in deadlines and demands from family. Writers have so many responsibilities to others and are so dedicated to their work they sometimes forget to have fun and try new things. .

 9. And now for a little fun...Do you have a favorite deadline crunch-time snack or quirky writing ritual?

This question is evilllll. LOL Fave snack: Throwback Mt. Dew (Yes, I do know how unhealthy it is for me!) and dark chocolate anything. My deadline writing ritual is to push hard, stay up late and type until I can't type anymore.

10. Rock or Country music? Denim or silk? Beachhouse or log cabin? Patrick Dempsey, Hugh Jackman, or one of your McKenna brothers? (I call Brad McKenna! ;).

Both, both, both, and all of the men mentioned! LOL I listen to all kinds of music, everything from Adele to Carrie Underwood to Etta James to Nickelback, Foo Fighters and more. I could go on forever because I love music, maybe because I can't sing a tune or play an instrument. For CHRISTMAS IN MONTANA I played a certain Metallica song at least a hundred times. Maybe more. It all depends on my mood. I'm also a small town girl so I spend my life in comfortable jeans but I do like to dress up every now and again. It's one of the reasons I like going to writers conferences.

Beach house or Cabin? I prefer the beach but I'd never turn down a cabin in in the mountains. I love visiting Tennessee and set my Tulanes of Tennessee story there for just that reason.

As to the guys... Be still my heart! I saw Patrick Dempsey up close and personal in New York this summer, out shopping with his son in the Lego store on Times Square and I have to say I love how protective he was--and the way he smiled at me when he saw the dawning recognition on my face. *sigh* But Hugh... *thud*. Have you ever seen him in an interview? When that man talks about his wife and kids he LIGHTS UP. Talk about sexy on top of...well, sexy! And I couldn't choose between my McKenna brothers--or Marcus Whitefeather in A HERO IN THE MAKING (Jan, 2012) because that would just be wrong. My heroes are heroes for a reason and they all have qualities and characteristics I think we all like to see in our guys. 

Well said...and I was hoping we'd see Marcus again! Thanks so much for hanging out here today, Kay.

 BLURB: Christmas in Montana, November 2011

Jenna Darlington would not refuse a Christmas miracle. A widow, she's struggling to keep her little family together. So when Chance McKenna offers her a job, it seems her wishes are coming true. Too bad there's a catch.

Chance is not acting how she expects. Dressing as Santa to greet kids in the store? It's charming. And seeing him out of that red suit… Well, it's hard to keep her priorities straight! Worse, his preference for extreme sports is influencing her kids, and suddenly she's got daredevils on her hands. Yet when Jenna tries to put distance between her and Chance, he proves that there might be more to this miracle than she thinks!


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