Author Spotlight ~ Kathleen Brooks

As an Australian, our impressions of the United States of America are more than likely formed from watching TV and movies. I have always been intrigued and fascinated with ‘The South’. The homeyness of the small towns, the friendliness of the residents and cowboys…..PHEW!!

I found Kathleen’s first book, ‘Bluegrass State of Mind’, when I first discovered e-books. It was a freebie and when I read that it was set in the South, I immediately downloaded it and I read it in one sitting. She had me hooked from the beginning with her witty, funny and suspenseful characters and dialogue. I was transported into her fictional town of Keeneston and she had me believing that this unique town was very much real.

The first series features three books, Bluegrass State of Mind, Risky Shot and Dead Heat. With the success of these books, Kathleen followed up with the Bluegrass Brothers series. This meant more wonderful and entertaining stories from Keeneston and also a close up look of all the Davies brothers! I’m still waiting for Kathleen to tell me where I can find a family filled with smart, funny and totally sexy brothers!

Kathleen, a NY Times Best Selling Author, is wrapping up the Keeneston series (for now anyway) with her new release Final Vow. This story has the ever popular Ahmed as it’s main man. Ahmed almost has a cult following and I know many Bluegrass series fans who have been waiting a long time to see ‘their’ Ahmed get a book all of his own!

Kathleen graciously let me ask her some questions and I hope you all enjoy reading her responses.

EF – What or who was your inspiration to start writing?

KB – I was inspired by a lot of different things. Like most writers, I’m and avid reader. Reading contemporary romances inspired me-they had the courage to do it, so could I. Even before that though it was Murder, She Wrote. I watched it when I was seven years old and loved the mystery. It was then that I started coming up with stories in my head. However, it wasn’t until I finished school, had a job, and a baby that I took a chance on this dream that I couldn’t get out of my head. It was about what a fashionable woman from New York City would think about being transplanted to a tinny Kentucky town. With encouragement from my husband, I started writing Bluegrass State of Mind.

EF – How did you feel when you published your first book? Did you have any doubts or regrets?

KB – I remember sitting there and staring at the submit button. I was filled with complete nervous excitement. I still get that same feeling every time I publish.

Of course I had doubts. What if no one read it? What if no one liked it? But it meant so much to me that it was more fun than anything. Keeneston and its residents were like family to me and I couldn’t stop until the whole story was told. Now, as I publish Final Vow, all I feel is excitement and definitely no doubt or regrets.

EF – Are you a planner or a pantser?

KB – A bit of both. I have an overall plan for the series and for how each book fits into ti. But then the scenes and the dialog are all by the seat of my pants.

EF – Do you have any particular rituals that you do before/during/after writing a book?

KB – Before, I have a notebook that I sit down and think about the mystery of the book and I lay out a rough outline of where I want the story to go, who the characters are, what they look like and so on.

While I write, I listen to music. You’ll always find me in my office with my headphones on.

After the story is written, I go on a book binge and read as many books as possible in a week.

EF – Is there anything you do in particular if you get stuck writing a scene?

KB – Yes, I completely step away. I’ll watch Pride & Prejudice, Persuasion, or Lost in Austen. Or I’ll read a historical romance. The point is for me to be swept into a completely different world and to get lost in it for a bit. Usually when I’ve watched or read something else, I can take a new look at my scene and work through it.

EF – I love that you don’t always write about what happens behind closed doors, Was there any reason in particular why you decided to do this?

KB – It just felt write for these character. This town is a mix of times past and hope for the future, so it just didn’t seem to fit. My next series kicks that heat level up some, but always with heart.

EF – What are you currently working on?

KB – I’m working on Chosen for Power, which is the first book in my new Women of Power series. Readers are able to get an extended sneak peek of Ella and Drake’s story in Dancing Beneath the Mistletoe, which is part of the Hot, Sexy & Bad box set.

EF – Do you have a particular workspace or can/do you write anywhere and everywhere?

KB – I work in my office the most, but I can work anywhere at anytime. I can work in a car line while waiting to pick my daughter up from school. I can work on planes or even in bed at night.

EF – Who, out of your male heroes, would you like to a) Get frisky with & b) Marry?

KB – All of them or any of them…..I can’t pick a favourite. I love them all!

EF – What one piece of advice would you like to have known before and after you first published?

KB – Learn from reviews, but don’t obsess over them. Many people online will use overly harsh tones because they want attention. But if you can dissect what they are really saying, then you can experience some genuine growth as an author.

And to finish up….five quick questions!

EF – What is your favourite snack food to munch on while writing?

KB – M&M’s

EF – Your favourite activity to do when you aren’t writing?

KB – Reading!

EF – Name one place you would like visit but have not as yet?

KB – Australia & New Zealand

EF – What is one thing about you that few people would know?

KB – I have my second-degree black belt in karate.

EF – What is your favourite quote?

KB – “Courage, in the end those who do not succeed are those who do not try” – Unknown.

Thank you so much to Kathleen for taking the time to answer my questions.


FinalVowCover

Final Vow will be released on January 20th, 2014.  This is the last book in the Bluegrass Brothers Series.

Kathleen’s book series are –

  • Bluegrass Series
  • Bluegrass Brothers Series
  • Women of Power Series (coming in April 2014)

The first book in BOTH series are FREE on Amazon.com.

Kathleen also has this series on Audible.com and is my most favourite audiobook series. Her narrator is perfect!

Kathleen can be found at –

KathleenBrooks.com

Amazon Page

Facebook

Twitter

GIVEAWAY

Visit my FACEBOOK PAGE for details on how to win a copy of Kathleen’s new release, ‘Final Vow’.

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Author Spotlight ~ Ruth Cardello

Ruth Cardello is an amazing woman. The former teacher has used her life experiences and combined them with her wild imagination to write books….and not just any books. Romance stories with powerful Alpha men, sassy and wily leading ladies and plots that have you drawn in from the very beginning.

I picked up Ruth’s first book, Maid for the Billionaire, when it was recommended to me from iTunes. It was a free read so it was worth giving it a go. I wasn’t disappointed. This story of a successful and hard-arsed businessman who meets a sweet and caring woman  just at the right time in his life, had me turning pages as quickly as I could. I enjoyed every minute of it and even got to have a good giggle through it.

With the release of Alethea’s Redemption, Ruth now has six books in the Legacy Collection plus a short novella that was written for the Hot, Sexy & Bad box set that was released late in 2013. In September last year, Ruth began a new series called Texan Nights, and the first book, Gentling the Cowboy was very well received. It still continues to get amazing reviews!

Ruth answered a few questions for me….take a read!

EF – What or who was your inspiration to start writing?

RC – I have always written for the pleasure.  I don’t remember a time when I wasn’t dreaming about characters and the lives they would live. When I read, I prefer romance and escapism—so writing in this genre was a natural fit for me.

Maid for the Billionaire, however, was born on a dare.  I was waist deep in a sci-fi romance whose plot was melting my brain when a friend of mine asked me if that was the type of romance I preferred to read. I told her that I’m much more cheese-tastic than that. Give me a rich, hot man in an exotic place any day. She dared me to write three chapters of my dream alpha man and Dominic was born.

EF – Can you describe how you felt when you published your first book? Did you have doubts or regrets?

RC – I’d just about given up on getting my Maid for the Billionaire published in 2011. I had submitted it to several publishing houses and each said about the same thing. “Good writing, just not what we’re looking for right now. Do you have anything else?”

New job. New baby. Maid for the Billionaire sat on my desktop for six months.

Then one day my brother came over and told me about an author he’d heard speak about e-publishing. I thought, “Why not?”  Maid for the Billionaire was finished and self-publishing would allow the readers to decide for themselves if my story was good.

I put the book up for FREE and waited for the first reviews.  Two hundred thousand people downloaded it within the first month or so. The reviews were good and I started quickly on book 2: For Love or Legacy.

How did I feel?  I was terrified, excited, and determined.  Nothing has changed there. Each time I put out a new book I feel the same. Maybe it’s that mix that keeps me working hard at improving my craft and promoting my books. I don’t take a single part of this incredible journey for granted.

EF – A you a planner or a pantser?

RC – I’m a bit of both.  I brainstorm, plot, outline, sticky note my walls…whatever it takes to make sure that the details of the story are correct. It’s very important to me, that I come up with characters I will enjoy spending time with. I write their histories, their secret dreams, their fears.

Then I invite them to the party.  When my writing is flowing, I’ve created a framework for the story to happen in, but I’m recording what the characters are saying and doing as if I’m watching a movie in my head.  It doesn’t happen in a day, but when the story gels for me, the characters are alive to me and I’ll change my outline to suit the reality of who they have become.

I originally thought my Legacy Collection would have three books, but as I fell in love with the characters it grew. After expanding to six, Alethea’s Redemption: Breaching the Billionaire was supposed to be the last book, but I am leaving the door open for more if I decide to revisit them. I have a couple of story lines in the series that I’d love to explore.

EF – Do you have any particular rituals that you do before/during/after writing a book?

RC – Writing used to be a solitary hobby for me.  Over time, I have collected beta readers and editors who understand what I need during each phase of writing.  I write my first draft joyfully.  I can’t think about what could be phrased better or if the name of the place they went to is corny. I’m working on the big picture.  My first wave of beta readers get that and don’t worry about repetitive language or if I put the same dress on a character two scenes in a row. After that,  I give my finished first draft to a second group of beta readers who pull it apart for those things. They highlight what was awkward, what wasn’t funny, or what didn’t make sense. The details of the story are debated. It’s sometimes a painful process when someone says, “That’s not sexy.”  Or “Would a man really say that?”  BUT I value the honesty of my beta readers.  I don’t make changes based on one opinion, but I watch for trends.  In my first draft of Bedding the Billionaire, I killed off Jeremy.  Every one of my beta readers instantly called me or sent me a concerned email. In retrospect they were right. I learned not to write the end of a book while PMSing.

Before I put my book up, it also sees three editors.  Everyone finds something and they each have different strengths. Sometimes something could simply be said better.

EF – Is there anything you do in particular if you get stuck writing a scene?

RC – When I get stumped, I reread the book from beginning to end every night before I go to bed. Often, I will wake up with the reason the scene isn’t working.

EF – If you could team up with any other author and write a book with them, who would it be and what type of story would you like to write with them?

RC – I would love to team up with my niece, Danielle Stewart, and write a funny, very hot erotica. I think the process would be hilarious and we share the same sense of humor.

EF – What are you currently working on?

RC – I am currently working on book 2 of my Texan Nights series featuring Charles and Melanie. I’m also working on the first book in my new Andrade series which will feature four of Stephan’s cousins.

EF – Do you have a particular workspace or can/do you write anywhere & everywhere?

I write at the kitchen table because I don’t have an office yet.  It’s not ideal, but you won’t hear me complain. All I really need to write is relative quiet. I tried writing in the library, but sometimes I cry while I write a sad scene and the librarians worried about me.

EF – Who, out of your male heroes, would you like to 1) Get frisky with? & 2) Marry?

RC – This is a tough question because I am in love with each hero as I write him.  There is something I love about each of them.  Dominic is dangerous, but melts for Abby. Stephan is a family man. Jake is intellectual and hot. Rachid’s sophistication and sense of duty moved me. Jeremy made me laugh and fall more in love with him every time he spoke. Marc is a strong man, with strong passions, but his loyalty is what I loved him for.  That, and his ability to truly appreciate strength in a woman.

In my cowboy series, Tony was so broken my heart went out to him—oh, yes, and being gorgeous didn’t hurt at all.  When he became the man Sarah needed him to be, I would have married him in a heart beat.

EF – What one piece of advice would you like to have known before and after you first published?

RC – I’m glad I didn’t know too much because I just dove in, but times have changed.

As the market floods with new authors, the competition is stiff.  Edit. Edit. Edit. Surround yourself with supportive authors and professionals who will help you grow, grow, grow.  No, your first story won’t be your best, but it should be the best you’re able to put out at that time. Keep learning. Keep reaching. Keep writing.

Five quick questions!

EF – What is your favourite snack food to munch on while writing?

RC – I try to keep fruit around while I’m writing.

EF – Your favourite activity to do when you aren’t writing?

RC – I used to say riding my horses before I adopted my youngest. Now most of my free time revolves around her. However, during those rare times when I have time to myself and I’m not writing – being outside with the horses is still one of my favorite places to be.

EF – Name one place you would like to visit but have not as yet?

RC – I’ve always wanted to see Ireland. It looks so beautiful in all the pictures.  I’d also like to see the Grand Canyon here in the United States.

EF – Tell us one thing about you that few people would know?

RC – I sold sex toys one summer. I knew nothing about them and had to attend a class to learn what half of them do.  My sense of humor made the sales parties fun, but I was awful at selling them. I never could understand what to do with more than one dial. I found some favorites that summer so I suppose it was a worthwhile experience.

EF – What is your favourite quote?

RC – “Be like the bird that, pausing her flight awhile on boughs too slight, feels them give way beneath her, and yet sings, knowing she hath wings.” Victor Hugo

To me that quote has always inspired me to have hope regardless of what is happening in my life.  Losing a job I loved led me into the career I have now.

I also believe that sometimes the rockiest roads lead to the most beautiful destinations. I don’t know who said that, but when I’m feeling overwhelmed those quotes remind me to keep my head down and plow forward.

It is a honour to have featured Ruth on my blog! Thank you Ruth!

ARCover

Alethea’s Redemption is available from January 13th.

If you haven’t started the Legacy Series, Maid for the Billionaire is Free!

 

Ruth Cardello can be found on

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RuthCardello.com