It's my pleasure to introduce Author Peggy Jaeger. Join me as she shares exciting details about her new release, DIRTY DAMSELS.
DIRTY DAMSELS ( DotComGirls Series Book 1)
This isn’t your childhood version of Cinderella, folks, but a 2019 retelling of the fairy tale with a few modern twists.
Ella Jones is the CEO of an exclusive cleaning company titled DIRTY DAMSELS. With a $150,000 business loan and a sound business plan, Ella’s company has grown in leaps and bounds since she first started it in college. You know you’ve made it in the business world when someone wants to acquire what you’ve built, and now Ella’s fighting a corporate takeover. As she fights for her company, she also fighting not to lose her heart to the one person who could take everything she’s worked for away.
When I first saw Cynderella all covered in soot in that sexy maid uniform, I knew I wanted to be her Prince.
She’s a small and savvy businesswoman who’s built her cleaning company from the ground up. But now that Dirty Damsels is booming, I’ve been hired to arrange a hostile takeover.
But the temptation of having her was too much to ignore… We ended up spending one night together—a night neither of will forget. Now, I want more. I need more. I want to spend every night, skin-on-skin, with my beautiful Ella.
Problem is, when she finds out who I really am, she’ll never forgive me.
The bathroom door opened.
In his tailored suit he’d been impressive and striking. With a white bulky towel wrapped around his waist, and the humidity in the bathroom sluicing off his damp torso, he was downright magnificent. Those wide and solid shoulders tapered down into biceps I could tell regularly attended a gym with him, and then into forearms corded with strong sinew and veins.
“I-I’m sorry,” I stammered. “I’m almost done. I’m sorry.” I blushed again and I cursed my fair skin. But really, how could I not blush and stutter when faced with this unbelievable specimen of hotness standing five feet away from me, all wet and hard muscled and gorgeous?
He moved like a panther across the rug, soundlessly stalking, as if playing with his prey, until he came to the opposite side of the bed.
He took one corner of the sheet in his hand and yanked it. “Do you have enough on your side?”
Speech was impossible because I knew I’d start blabbering again, so I nodded and tucked the sheet under the mattress.
“Hospital corners.” He nodded and then mimicked my motions. “I love a tight sheet.”
I couldn’t help but stare at the way his biceps swelled when he lifted the mattress as if it weighed nothing, and shot the sheet under it. Nor could I forgo glancing at the thick mat of black hair crisscrossing from one side of his pecs to the other and then down, disappearing below the towel. And I’d have to have been struck blind and stupid – which I’m neither – not to notice and admire the trim, tight waist and abdomen the towel was securely wrapped around.
At least I prayed it was securely wrapped.
I grabbed the comforter, shook it out and he helped me place it over the bed.
“Toss me one of those,” he commanded when I grabbed a pillow and began tugging the case on.
He caught both in midair.
The bed made, I turned to tell him about the platter of food, but stopped before the words could leave my throat. He’d moved without a sound again, coming to stand so close to me I could smell the citrus scent of the soap he’d used wafting off his body.
He placed a hand on my shoulder and gave it a little squeeze. I swear my body temperature went up ten degrees. I figured by now I resembled one of those cartoons where the character’s head turns beet red and then explodes upward.
“Thanks, Cinderella.” A devilish grin tripped across his tired face. “But I need to crash now, so…”
I truly could have stood there for the rest of the afternoon basking in his hotness, but I got the hint.
I nodded and made one last visual sweep of the room.
“Do you want me to close the blinds?” I asked, turning back just in time to see him drop the towel and slide – gloriously naked – into the freshly made bed.
Holy Mother of God. The man had a butt made for grabbing. Two perfect, round, and tight cheeks dipped from that narrow waist, leading downward to two thick and powerful thighs. Since his back was to me he didn’t notice my jaw hanging open to my knees while he burrowed under the comforter.
“Mmm…sure. Thanks, Cinderella.”
Even half asleep his voice made my heart skip a few beats and my girlie parts go zing.
Amazon: Exclusive to KU readers for free
Kindle version: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07TBBPHM8
Print Version: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1640348409
Peggy Jaeger is a contemporary romance writer who writes Romantic Comedies about strong women, the families who support them, and the men who can’t live without them. If she can make you cry on one page and bring you out of tears rolling with laughter the next, she’s done her job as a writer!
Family and food play huge roles in Peggy’s stories because she believes there is nothing that holds a family structure together like sharing a meal…or two…or ten. Dotted with humor and characters that are as real as they are loving, she brings all topics of daily life into her stories: life, death, sibling rivalry, illness and the desire for everyone to find their own happily ever after. Growing up the only child of divorced parents she longed for sisters, brothers and a family that vowed to stick together no matter what came their way. Through her books, she’s created the families she wanted as that lonely child.
When she’s not writing Peggy is usually painting, crafting, scrapbooking or decoupaging old steamer trunks she finds at rummage stores and garage sales.
A lifelong and avid romance reader and writer, Peggy is a member of RWA and her local New Hampshire RWA Chapter.
As a lifelong diarist, she caught the blogging bug early on, and you can visit her at peggyjaeger.com where she blogs daily about life, writing, and stuff that makes her go "What??!"
Social Media links:
Amazon Author page: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00T8E5LN0
Happy July 4th!
A Christmas in July Sale seemed perfect for CHRISTMAS ONE AGAIN. Read it now for only 99¢.
Please leave a review if you have time (Goodreads or Amazon) or let me know what you thought about the story by sending me a message on the Contact Page.
Thanks so much for checking out my website!
SOUTHERN HARM won me over in the first chapter. Author Travis Casey spins a smart story with full-on action, and in Kentucky, there’s no better place to see action than at a horse track.
Oscar Novak-Chambers, a bad boy I couldn’t help but like, borrows a hundred grand from loan shark Louie Gomez and promptly loses it all at the track. The pressure is on for Oscar to pay the loan shark back.
Casey paints a gangster-type Louie right from the start. Tension builds whenever his character is in a scene, and the suspense will keep you reading.
Another character I like is Stacey Davenport. She’s the Kentucky governor’s daughter and a consultant to the DA’s office. Stacey can’t wait to put Louie behind bars. Oscar must think fast before he becomes collateral damage. Would a hot romance persuade Stacey to reconsider?
I’m a big fan of novels with unexpected twists. I logically imagined the story to go one way and was I ever wrong. Don’t miss SOUTHERN HARM. 5 Stars
I’m giving QUINN’S RESOLUTION 5 well-deserved stars. As with other stories by Katie O’Sullivan, she has a flair for capturing the charm and personality of her characters. I felt an immediate connection to the dramatic and believable plot.
And what a plot it is. Quinn MacDonald, the lead singer of an indie punk band, is in exotic Bali, Indonesia, shooting a music video. When Quinn’s unexpectedly called back to the states, he leaves the endless parties, booze, and women to his free-spirited band members. It’s the last time Quinn sees his friends alive. On November 30, 2016, Hurricane Nina hit Bali and music as he knew it died.
As the music industry taps into the hearts of the band’s fans and the demand for Quinn’s songs soar, he’s not ready to perform. He quickly learns the cold, hard truth—a contract doesn’t care about emotions.
But a chance meeting with Phoebe Snow, a gifted musician in a band of her own, will have you rooting for his return. Unlike Quinn, she works several jobs to make ends meet, and she longs to become a rock star.
The heat jumps off the page. This stand-alone novella from the Hot Hunks, Steamy Romance Collection will not disappoint.
It's my pleasure to welcome award-winning author Katie O'Sullivan to talk about her new book release, QUINN'S RESOLUTION.
Hi, Katie! Would you tell us a little about yourself and how you came to write QUINN’S RESOLUTION?
Hi DK and thanks for hosting me on your blog today! I’ve been writing for several years now, and have published with a number of small press publishers. I’m currently a “hybrid” author, writing for a publisher (or two) as well as self-publishing some of my own books.
A little about me… I live year round in a vacation destination, Cape Cod. Most of the year it’s a quiet, quaint place to live but for about ten weeks in the summer the population explodes with summer people and tourists. It’s fun having neighbors to do things with and more choices for restaurants and activities, but I think I prefer the quieter months when I have the beach all to myself… even if it’s too chilly to actually swim. My kids have finally all “launched” and I’m getting used to the empty nest thing, hoping it translates into more writing time.
I was invited last fall to participate in a group series with seven other indie authors. I’m the newbie of the group and felt a little insecure about it since the rest of the authors actually earn their livings writing books. (I still have a day job as a technical writer for a California-based software company.) But I signed up anyway and participated in discussions as we decided on the series focus. Each book is a standalone, set around a central tragedy, a hurricane event that devastates the island of Bali, killing hundreds.
My hero Quinn was in Bali with his rock band right up until the weather turned, so he survived while the other band members perished. Each of the other authors in the series has their own take on how their hero was devastated by the tragedy – some of them were there at the time, and some of them lost loved ones in the event. The central theme running through all the books is how these eight guys deal with their losses and go on with their lives.
I’ve wanted to write a “rock star romance” for a while now, because it’s an interesting New Adult genre. I guess I like to try a little bit of everything, lol. I had fun with it. My middle child is currently on a “gap year” working at becoming a punk rock star in Chicago, and my kids have been involved in “rock band classes” since they were in middle school, so I know a little about the music and band dynamics. My youngest son took pleasure in schooling me about making my hero more likeable (not his exact words) before the tragedy, so there was more arc to his character’s fall and subsequent rise. Like I said, it was fun to write.
QUINN’S RESOLUTION is Book 5 in After Hurricane Nina—Hot Hunks-Steamy Romance Collection. Are there any caveats to writing for a collection?
This is my third “collection” or series I’ve written for. The first was the Candy Hearts series for The Wild Rose Press. For that, you had to choose a saying that you can find on a candy heart, and keep it under a certain word count. I was one of the last people to submit, and my editor didn’t think I’d make it, but I did. SAY YES is another Cape Cod-based novella of a second chance romance, and although it’s not as light-hearted as many in that series, I really love that story.
The second “series” I participated in was an anthology called HUNKS TO THE RESCUE, which I was invited into by an author I knew from my original YA publisher (who went out of business and left a sour taste in everyone’s mouth.) The only guidelines were the one in the title – you had to write about a hunk who rescued someone… some authors took it more literally than others, but we had 18 stories in the anthology and mine was the only undercover detective. Again, the setting was Cape Cod, and when I got my rights back the story became my first self-published novella, Breaking the Rules, which is available for 99 cents on Amazon, and which I’ve turned into a trilogy with the last novella set to come out this summer as well as all three stories bundled into a paperback, Cape Cod Dating Rules.
The HURRICANE NINA series had only eight authors involved and felt a lot more close-knit. We have a private Facebook page and take votes on just about everything. We’ve already decided to put out another joint series later this year, which I’m not sure whether I’m supposed to talk about or not, so I won’t. But it’s a great group of successful, USA Today bestselling authors who are all really nice and really helpful when I don’t understand something or need to ask stupid questions.
On one of those Facebook threads, someone mentioned that they planned to tie their story in with another series they were already self-publishing. A lightbulb went off in my head, and I decided to make my hero – Quinn MacDonald – related to my Cape Cod Dating Rules series. Which gave him an automatic backstory, since I’d already written a youngest cousin into the series. Quinn is that youngest of eight MacDonald cousins, the one who screws up Dylan’s high school romance in Bending the Rules, and the annoying little brother to Brian MacDonald who first appeared in Chapter One of Breaking the Rules. Which gave him a reason to have to leave Bali before the bad weather hit, because his cousin’s wife died of breast cancer. (Cancer sucks. My mom died of cancer, both my in-laws died of cancer, and it’s a sentiment made clear in several of my books now.)
Learning from my peers in this new series, I think this might be one of the keys to getting readers to follow you and buy your other books, even when they’re not a “real” series. I’ve had plenty of feedback on my Wild Rose Press secondary characters that people want to read more about.
Since you’re an author of steamy contemporary romance and young adult paranormal novels, do you have a favorite genre?
LOL, I haven’t even mentioned my Young Adult stuff yet, have I?! Big Oversight, since I absolutely ADORE reading Young Adult books and writing for young adults. It’s a very freeing genre, where anything is possible, and readers are open to new ideas and actually like it when you push boundaries.
I write the Son of a Mermaid series for Young Adults that I liken to the Percy Jackson series, good for ages 9 and up. Young teens, mostly, but older kids and adults also like them. My hero is a 15-year-old boy who didn’t know until recently that his mother was a mermaid. And that he has the gene that makes it possible for him to transform his legs into a tail. Last summer I did a big push for the series with lots of events on the Cape with another author from Wicked Whale Publishing, and met a whole bunch of really enthusiastic and invested readers. Readers who drew manga versions of my characters. Readers who vibrated with excitement as I signed their book and talked about the relationships between the characters. It was SO COOL for me as an author. I even have one young man who lives in Mexico City, who emails me through my website every few months to give me ideas on what the characters should do in the future, or on what prequels he really “needs” to read.
YA readers are the best.
Except, I have to say this – some of the adult readers got a bit judge-y for me. Telling me that 15-year-olds never say “I love you.” (Having been there with two of my three kids, umm, yes they do. They might not mean it the same way a 30-year-old does, but they say it and mean it.) Or telling me the young people in my story had too elevated a vocabulary. (Nope. Again, mother of three. Lots of kids in and out of this house. Maybe your kids aren’t as smart, but…)
As to what genre I like to write, if I had to choose just one? I’m really not sure.
Thanks so much for hosting me today! Happy Reading (and writing) to you all!
Please drop by anytime. Best of luck, Katie!
About the Book:
Eight Strangers. Eight Unique Stories. All Stand-alone Novellas.
On November 30, 2016, Hurricane Nina hit Bali, Indonesia. In the aftermath of death and destruction, eight strong sexy men will realize it’s time for a change in their lives. A resolution of sorts. A contractor, a personal trainer, a millionaire, a stuntman, a rock star, a thrill-seeker, an army veteran, and a trust fund prodigal will all find a way to conquer their loss and learn to love.
This is Quinn’s story. Resolution: To find his way back to the music.
Quinn MacDonald had it made. With a record label deal and their first single skyrocketing up the charts, his indie punk band is finally getting a taste of rock and roll fame. Bikini-clad women and bottomless bottles of booze fill endless days… until their hotel collapses during a hurricane. He’s still under contract but as far as he’s concerned, the music died along with the rest of his band.
Life has never been easy for Phoebe Snow. Working three minimum wage jobs barely keeps a roof over her head while she and her band struggle to get noticed. But on stage, nothing matters but the music in her heart.
When her band plays a cover of one of his hits, Quinn is blown away. Can Phoebe be the inspiration he needs for more than just writing songs?
About the Author:
Katie O’Sullivan is an award-winning writer, whose dozen published works include My Kind of Crazy, Ghosts Don’t Lie, Crazy About You, and the Son of a Mermaid series for young teen readers: Descent, Defiance, and Deception. A recovering English major, she earned her degree at Colgate University and now lives on Cape Cod with her family and big dogs, drinking way too much coffee and inventing new excuses not to dust. She writes YA and romantic suspense novels, as well as working as a full-time technical writer. Which explains all the coffee.
Website ~ Blog ~ Facebook ~ Twitter ~ Goodreads ~ Amazon Author Page
Short Excerpt from QUINN’S RESOLUTION:
On the open-air stage in Times Square, Quinn MacDonald was making a very different resolution for the fast-approaching new year. As he stood there with a fake smile plastered on his face, listening to Wiz Khalifa spout on about some after-party, Quinn vowed he would never sing on stage in public again. No matter what the fucking studio executives said, they couldn’t make him do this. Rock stars don't cry on national television, for fuck's sake.
He felt raw. Exposed. Alone.
And the duet with Demi Lovato? Someone had to have planned that ahead of time without telling him a thing. There’s no such thing as spontaneous singing for television cameras. Certainly not on New Year’s Eve in Times Square. So let's add feeling "used" into the mix.
He didn’t like it. It was… wrong.
Sure, he’d promote the album. It was part of the contract he signed. He owed that much to the memory of his friends, and to their families. But as far as Quinn was concerned, the music died in the hurricane along with the rest of his band.
Writing Romantic Love Scenes from Sweet to Steamy Hot
Writing romantic love scenes—and doing it well—can be challenging for any writer. Aspiring novelists, especially, struggle with how much to tell and how to tell it.
Even a “sweet” or mildly sensual scene isn’t easy. And unabashed writers with no qualms about “open door” encounters are likewise challenged to get a blazing-hot situation exactly right.
Writing any type of love scene takes skill, practice, and an understanding of the elements that make the good ones work. And setting a goal for the type of scene you want to portray is half the battle won.
Romantic Love Scenes Are Expected in the Romance Genre
By definition, romance centers on relationship development. And that means some degree of physical attraction is present, no matter how chaste or intimate.
Other genres such as science fiction, fantasy, young adult, and speculative fiction—any genre or hybrid, really—often highlight a romantic relationship, but it’s not required.
Scenes Range in Degrees of Intimacy and Detail
I think of romantic scenes as sweet, sensual-spicy, or hot with varying degrees on the scales. Most authors and publishers categorize novels and specific scenes in similar terms.
Sweet love scenes
In the strictest sense, “sweet” means profanity isn’t used, and physical intimacy is limited to hand-holding and perhaps a stolen kiss or two. At the other end, a few mild swear words, a long kiss, warm hugs, or a subtle suggestion of deeper involvement may be included, but the relationship’s development in a sweet novel depends on emotional rather than sexual bonding.
Other terms for sweet include “clean” and “wholesome.” I don’t prefer them, however, because they suggest that normal human sexuality is dirty, unclean, or unwholesome.
Sensual-spicy means romance may be passionate, but it relies more on metaphors or hints, after-the-fact evidence, and emotional reactions rather than graphic details. On the tame end, if the lovers head for the bedroom, it’s a fade out, and the doors are closed. On the spicy side, the relationship’s consummation might be lengthy and explicit, but such a scene isn’t repeated.
The Twilight Saga is a good example of a sensual-spicy love story, especially in several scenes that take place in the final book of the series.
On Bella and Edward’s honeymoon, they hold hands on a beach under a full moon, and Edward leads her to “deeper water.” The next morning, we find that Edward has destroyed the furniture and pillows, while Bella is “totally and completely blissed out” albeit a bit bruised by Edward’s superhuman strength. She’s pleased by how they “fit together like corresponding pieces, made to match up.”
Later, Bella begs Edward for sex, though not in so many words. He’s refused to touch her after the first time for fear of hurting her. But he gives in, it’s a fade-out, and the next morning Bella’s shredded black lingerie and more destruction are evidence of exactly what took place.
Another scene takes place near the end. This scene is explicit, but the tame language makes it easy to miss without a close reading.
Hot sex scenes
These can be explicit but tasteful, detailed but restrained. The doors may be wide open, and specific acts and body parts might be mentioned. The scene may be erotic, but unless similar scenes exist, the novel itself is simply a hot romance.
Erotica and porn
Briefly, erotica exists within the same framework as any romance novel, but the sexual aspects of the relationship drive the character’s development and move the plot forward. Shades of Gray fits into this category.
Porn, on the other hand, places the emphasis on the sex with a plot that simply provides a framework and timeline.
Writing an Effective Romantic Love Scene
Less is more, even if you’re writing a super-hot, wildly sexy story. According to Jessi Rita Hoffman, a writer, editor, and writing coach, one of the most common problems is “the flaw of excess.” That’s a typical issue for many new writers, but it can mean disaster in a love scene.
Skip the adjectives and adverbs as much as possible.
Rough draft: “His big, deep-blue eyes bore right down to the very deepest sanctuary of her soul as his warm, full red lips pressed against her own and caused a shiver to spread over her skin.”
This might be what you see in your imagination as you write, but let your readers imagine, too.
Revised: “His dark eyes penetrated her soul as he pressed his warm lips against hers. She shivered.”
Think reaction more than action.
Focus on the emotions, the sensations, and the characters’ thoughts for more impact instead of describing the action in detail. One short, sweet kiss becomes a lengthy passage that builds suspense and keeps the tension going when the focus is on the emotional response.
Here, from Eclipse, the third book in The Twilight Saga, is a good example.
“His golden eyes were smoldering, just inches away, and his breath was cool against my open lips. I could taste his scent on my tongue.
I couldn’t remember the witty response I’d been about to make. I couldn’t remember my name.
He didn’t give me a chance to recover.
If I had my way, I would spend the majority of my time kissing Edward. There wasn’t anything I’d experienced in my life that compared to the feeling of his cool lips, marble hard but always so gentle, moving with mine.”
Your characters are human with all the flaws and imperfections that everyone has. Romantic love scenes aren’t perfect in real life, and they don’t need to be in fiction, either. Awkwardness, embarrassment, hesitancy, humor, worry, and silliness are all a part of life.
When it suits the characters or situation, don’t hesitate to let someone get a leg cramp during a first kiss, burp accidentally, fall off a sofa while things are heating up, or spill wine accidentally (or not) on someone’s lap. Misunderstandings happen, too, and how they’re worked out (or not) reflects the characters’ personalities and relationship growth.
Think simple language and choose terms carefully.
I enjoy reading well-written, interesting novels—romance or otherwise—with almost any intimacy level. And as a young adult, I read countless historical romances, but at one point I thought, “If I see the term “male member” one more time, I’m done!”
If you want to use euphemisms (here’s a list), make sure they fit with your characters’ personalities, attitudes, and normal vocabulary.
Don’t choose vocabulary that you, as the author, are comfortable with or the style you would use. Choose what your characters would use. For practice, try writing a scene in which a character describes the intimate experience to his or her best friend. Would they use specific terminology or only hint at what took place? Follow their example.
Think detail and what the story needs.
How far do you want to go? What kinds of details? If you’re writing a sweet romance, the rules keep you in check. But sensual-spicy and hot love scenes offer plenty of leeway, so write what the story needs.
In my own novel, Colors, the relationship and physical attraction between Autumn and her chef, Jory, is only slightly less important than the main plot. And although Autumn has filed for divorce and she’s separated, they’re avoiding physical intimacy until her divorce is final.
Despite a few slips, they maintain their agreement, and as their relationship deepens, tension builds. And when they finally come together, it’s a big deal. It has to be. With all the suspense that leads up to that moment, a fade-out would be out of proportion and a disappointment to readers.
A Final Note: You Don’t Want to Win the Bad Sex in Fiction Award
The best way to learn how to write well is to read what good writers have written. That includes romantic love scenes whether they’re sweet or blazing hot.
Take a close look at love scenes in popular novels and best sellers that match your preferred intimacy level. Take notes on length, details, language, realism, emotions, and reactions. What makes it good? What doesn’t appeal to you?
And take a look at some of the winners of the Bad Sex in Fiction Award. Most are explicit, but they demonstrate what to avoid in your own love scenes. Make sure your novel’s a different kind of winner.
Leah McClellan is an editor, author, and non-fiction writer who champions strong female characters and their male counterparts: men who live outside the traditional man box. Originally from the snowy hinterlands west of Philadelphia, she enjoys travel, reading, and long bike rides on sunny Florida trails.
Leah, thank you for being my guest. Please come back again!
BENDING THE RULES opens with investment analyst Dylan MacDonald facing insurmountable danger when he's detained in the South Sudan by a hostile militia. (That's enough to give me goosebumps.)
The author quickly introduces Bella Costa, Dylan's high school crush. Smooth flashbacks layer the couple's complicated emotions and define the moments that challenge their wishful romance.
I read this gem in a couple of hours. The pacey action kept me absorbed in the story. Written with wit and humor, Ms. O'Sullivan also shows heart and sensitivity. Love a story with second chances! 5 Stars
P.S. Please join me for an interview with Ms. O'Sullivan on April 18th. She'll be talking about her latest release Quinn's Resolution.
Katie O'Sullivan's Author Links:
Website ~ Blog ~ Facebook ~ Twitter ~ Goodreads ~ Amazon Author Page
A short read full of wit and humor.
I’m sure we’ve all planned a dream vacation, but when Travis and Wendy buy an RV and hit the open road for their once-in-a-lifetime getaway, nothing goes right. The RV has seen better days, and while Travis tries to turn this lemon into lemonade, it’s one hilarious misadventure after another. Within a few pages, the couple’s misfortunes had me laughing. What a fun read.
RV THERE YET also reflects on the power of friendship and the serious side of customer service.
Mr. Casey’s memoir shows his humor and heart as he recounts this adventure. He’s an author for me to keep reading and recommend to other readers.
5 Smiling Stars
Travis Casey on Goodreads
It's my pleasure to introduce Author Travis Casey. His new release RV There Yet?: The True Story of a Motoring Nightmare is a laugh-out-loud memoir, and he's graciously agreed to give us the scoop on this hilarious adventure!
Welcome, Travis. Please tell us a little about yourself.
I have written nine books so far, six novels and three memoirs. Seven of the books are available on Amazon, the other two are still being edited. But sometimes I struggle. All my books are set in America, or at least have an American POV. As I am American myself, that should be no big deal, right? However, I joined the navy in 1982, spent four years in Hawaii, then five years in Scotland. Once out of the navy, I lived in Seattle for eighteen months before moving to England with my British-born, Australia raised, wife in 1992. I wrote my first novel in 2011 set in the American navy, and my test readers all complained that I wasn't using American English. I had been Anglicized and my phrasing and slang was of a British nature. So I always use American editors.
In 2014 my wife and I returned to the United States to look after my parents. I was working on my fourth novel at the time, but dealing with the bureaucracy of trying to re-immigrate to the States became comical—so I stopped the book and wrote my first memoir, Foreigner In My Own Backyard. After four years in the States, we did all we could do for Mom & Dad, so we returned to England, but not until I completed my ill-judged ambition. I had been to 47 states. I decided on my exit, we should buy a second-hand RV and drive it to Florida, being sure to pass through Mississippi, Louisiana, and Alabama so I could stake claim to the boast that I have been to all 50 states! And I did it—but I had the Suicide Helpline on speed dial.
I know you’re an Author of Light-Hearted Fiction and Satirical Memoirs. A memoir puts your life out there for the world to see. Was that a difficult decision to make?
In one respect memoirs are easier to write than novels because I know the outcome. I can write a memoir relatively quickly because I'm not thinking up plot lines. Humor is a main staple in all my writing—novels and memoirs. I not only laugh at others, but I'm also able to laugh at myself. I really wasn't going to write RV There Yet? because it was an emotionally painful journey. I just wanted to forget it. But in real life, I'm a pretty good storyteller. The more stories I told our friends about the journey, the more they would encourage me to write a book about it. Once I formed some scar tissue, I sat down and wrote the book in about 45 days—then spent three months in the editing stages.
What motivates you to write?
I consider myself an in-print entertainer. I would love to have been a comedian, but I not quick-witted enough to perform on stage. Insult me today, and yes, by tomorrow, I'll have the perfect comeback. But it takes me time to develop the one-liner, retorts or a hilarious quip. And then I may redraft it 10-15 times. I love the challenge of stringing tens of thousands of words together in a coherent, cohesive, entertaining, and logical way. Except for memoirs. They do not have to follow logic, as you will find out if you read RV There Yet?
Without giving away too many details, what was the funniest moment of the trip?
Here's an excerpt. We had already broken down like five times on the journey by the time we hit Mississippi. Erring on the side of avoidance of another disaster, we thought we best get an oil change. Then the guy tried to sell me six new tires:
At 1:30 p.m. they drove our RV into the bay. At 1:45 Allen sat down with us.
"We got a little problem with the oil filter. There's two kinds of filters for those engines. You got the funny kind. It's a little more expensive, and it's not one we carry in stock."
What were the chances of us owning the RV with the odd oil filter? Yes, my thoughts exactly: 100 percent. There could never be any other outcome.
I fought back tears.
Wendy didn't. She let it rip.
Allen seemed puzzled by our massive depression and tears over a minor setback. "Don't worry, folks—it's not that odd. We'll get you on the road as soon as we can."
He disappeared, then sat with us again about 2:30 to let us know the part had arrived and they were fitting it. It was somewhat comforting that the owner of this busy shop sat with us to explain what was happening. I think Wendy's tears startled him, and he sensed there was more behind the story than a simple oddball filter. Allen seemed genuine that he wanted to get us to Florida safely.
"Have you thought about new tires?" he asked.
"No, I have not."
"I think you should."
"No, they're fine," I insisted. "I checked the tread myself when we bought it. Tires don't wear out in two thousand miles. The tread's fine."
He nodded. "Yep, the tread's fine, but those tires are old."
My voice squeaked. "What?" I drew a breath and folded my arms. "So what? I don't care. All they have to do is get us to Florida. Surely they got another few hundred miles left in 'em."
"It's not a tread issue. All tires are stamped with a date of manufacture. I'll show you later. Those tires are thirteen years old. What happens is the rubber compound breaks down. When they disintegrate, it opens like a zipper on the side walls, and they just come undone. You must've seen the tire remnants on the highway. Whole tires ripped apart."
Okay, the guy sounded like he knew what he was talking about. But he was a tire salesman. It was not only his job to sell me tires, it was his livelihood.
Allen nodded toward the RV. "That thing's been in Minnesota, right?"
"Those tires have been sitting in minus-forty-degree weather. Now you're rolling on hot tarmac in one-hundred-and-ten-degree heat. It's changed the molecular structure of the rubber. It's brittle." He eyed me in a moment of sincerity. "Have you ever had a tire blow out on the interstate?"
I shook my head.
"If you ever have one of those suckers blow at seventy miles an hour, you're gonna need more than a new tire. You're gonna need a new pair of pants 'cause you're gonna shit yourself."
I clenched my butt cheeks.
What was your most memorable moment of the trip?
Elvis' home, Graceland, in Memphis, Tennessee—but for all the wrong reasons.
Would you ever consider taking another RV journey?
No, absolutely not. Never. How dare you ask me that question. Read the book!
LOL. Okay, just for fun—if you had one superpower during this trip, what would it have been and why?
To have been an RV Mechanic.
That is funny! Thanks for being my guest!
Readers, your retweets and reviews are always appreciated!
It's no wonder that truth is stranger than fiction. Fiction has to make sense—Mark Twain
After selling their Minnesota home, Travis and Wendy plan an elaborate departure from the United States before repatriating themselves to the UK. Buying a second-hand RV, visiting states unknown, and selling the campervan after reaching Florida seems like the perfect exit. So they pack their lives and blind Shih Tzu into a once-luxurious thirty-one-foot RV and hit the open road.
As they roll through the Midwest, heading for the Deep South, they soon discover “RV” doesn't mean “Reliable Vehicle.” Historical sites give way to repair shops and the excitement of the once-in-a-lifetime trip quickly turns into apprehension of what's around the next corner. With the wheels literally coming off the wagon, bogus repairs, temperatures rising inside the RV and under the hood, sleeping in junkyards, and being laughed at by the Mississippi police, the once-happy couple just want the nightmare to end so they can return to England. But the Minnesota Department of Motor Vehicles has the final say as to when they can leave.
Of course it's a true story. You couldn't make it up.
"Madison Knight read her bank balance for the second time. Dead broke."
This is the first line from Christmas Once Again.
She’s dead broke. And eviction looms. On Christmas Eve antique consultant Madison Knight takes a phone call from local rancher Zach Murdock. Through a mix-up at an estate sale, Madison’s company purchased his grandmother’s beloved painting. He offers double the money for its return.
Madison risks her job to track down the artwork, but success falls short when she’s stuck in a blizzard. Stranded, she seeks help from a frontier family. Are they living off the grid, or did she somehow travel through time?
Zach’s the only person who knows her plan. He also knows a secret about his gran’s painting. It’s up to him to rescue Madison, but maybe he’s not cut out to be a hero.