An Interview with Catherine Bybee

Catherine Bybee

I’m excited to have Catherine Bybee with me today—a New York Times, USA Today, Wall Street Journal, and Amazon best selling author. Before I was published I read Not Quite Dating and loved it! 🙂 Since then I’ve enjoyed several of her books and have watched her popularity explode in the contemporary romance world.

I’ve bumped into Catherine more than a few times at the Romance Writers of America National Conference, as well as at several author events in San Jose and San Francisco. She has been generous with advice to those starting out in the industry. She believes in paying it forward. 🙂 Before I get to the interview, here’s her Bio.

New York Times bestselling author Catherine Bybee was raised in Washington State, but after graduating from high school, she moved to Southern California with hopes of becoming a movie star. After growing bored with waiting tables, she returned to school and became a registered nurse, spending most of her career in urban emergency rooms. She now writes full-time and has penned the Not Quite series, the MacCoinnich Time Travel series as well as the Weekday Brides series.

Rich: Welcome, Catherine! I’m so excited to have you here today! Please make yourself comfortable. Can I get you a glass of your favorite wine?

Catherine: Is the Pope Catholic? Of course you can . . . something red, please.

Rich: You got it. Here’s a little Manchego cheese to go with that. Okay, let’s get started. I first want to start off talking about friendships. There’s an old saying, “You can’t choose your family, but you can choose your friends.” You seemed to have chosen very well. I read somewhere that you have friends that go as far back as elementary school. Please email any three friends right now and ask them each to describe you in one sentence. I apologize in advance for giving you homework.

Here’s what Catherine’s friends said . . .

Kari: “Catherine is funny, warm, loving and a loyal person and friend.” Kari also said “She’s transparent, beautiful inside and out . . .” but she’s not a writer and couldn’t figure out how to put all that in one sentence. (All her words)

Marina: “That’s an awful lot of awesome fit in one sentence.”

Sharon: “Catherine is sassy, strong, take-charge, but caring and loves others without compromise.”

Rich: You have indeed chosen your friends well. It’s obvious they love you very much. Speaking of being popular . . . You are currently ranked among the Top 50 authors in the entire world. Crazy and amazing! How does it feel to know that over two million people are enjoying your books?

Catherine: Humbling is the short answer to your question. And super grateful, too. I never saw myself where I am today. I mean, I guess I saw it, but I had no idea how it would feel to be in Bybee’s shoes until I put them on.

Rich: Since we are on the topic of shoes, it is commonly heard that they make the man. What is the first thing you usually notice about a guy?

Catherine: His smile. No, really . . . because guys can look good everywhere but if they aren’t smiling that’s a total “Left Swipe” for me.

Rich: Good to know. Hopefully you notice the big smile on my face as I ask this next question. 🙂 What were you like in high school?

Catherine: I was a mix and a mess in high school. I was too afraid to do anything truly crazy for fear of getting caught, but I was balsy enough to assert myself when I knew I was right.

Me with Catherine Bybee in San Diego at the RWA conference.

Rich: Describe your perfect day.

Catherine: Right now? One without the beeping noise of construction that isn’t going to improve my home at all . . . rain without risk . . . and quiet writing time.

Rich: Oooh. Quiet writing time is always nice. Tell me something most people would be surprised to know about you.

Catherine: I know the taste of government cheese and was once in foster care as a child.

Rich: Yup. You surprised me with that one. You’ve come a long way and I love how you believe in paying it forward. Let’s talk a little about your writing process. Do you have daily word count goals? Any quirky writing habits? Do you write in the same place every day?

Catherine: My daily count is math. How many words left in my manuscript divided by days left until deadline minus known days off.

PS . . . I hate math!

No habits, really, as evidence by the fact that I’m always frazzled that I won’t finish the book before deadline. And the truth is, this past year a couple of my books have been late.

I write on my MacBook as well as my desk top . . . depends on what stage of the book I’m in and if I need to lock an office door to get anything done.

Rich: LOL. I think we’ve all had our days of frazzlement. Is that a word? Hey, I think I just made up a word! Moving on . . . What are you working on now?

Catherine: The first book in the spin off series from the Brides. And that’s all I’m saying until this is done and turned in. 🙂

Rich: Well, don’t let me keep you. Get back to work! And thanks so much for stopping by!

Catherine: Thanks for having me, Rich. Meeting you and Silvi has been a highlight in my career. Lucky for me, I have the opportunity to meet lots of writers and readers and I’m always thrilled when those people are just as genuine in person as they are online.

Rich: Awww. That’s very sweet. Thank you for the kind words. 🙂

Connect with Catherine Bybee online

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All of Catherine’s Books on Amazon

An Interview With Tracy Brogan

tracy-brogan-headshotI first discovered Tracy Brogan about two and a half years ago, before I published my first romantic comedy. I stumbled upon her book Crazy Little Thing on Amazon and thought it looked like something that was right up my alley. I was right! I enjoyed the story very much—especially the fun, quirky characters. It’s such a pleasure to have Tracy here on the blog with me today! 🙂 Before I get to the interview, here’s her official Amazon bio.

Tracy Brogan is a three-time nominee of the Romance Writers of America RITA award, first for her debut novel CRAZY LITTLE THING (Best First Book, 2013) and again in 2015 for Best Contemporary Romance, THE BEST MEDICINE. Her third nomination was in 2016 for LOVE ME SWEET. She’s a Wall Street Journal Bestseller, earned the coveted Diamond Award from Amazon Publishing, and earned a spot on the Kindle Top 100 List in both 2013 and 2014. Her bestselling novels have sold more than a million copies internationally, and have been translated into several languages including German, French, Spanish, Italian, Dutch, Turkish, Hungarian, and Japanese.

Brogan lives in Michigan, the state shaped like a mitten, and is therefore prone to pointing to the palm of her hand when explaining where she lives.

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Tracy and me in New York at the Romance Writers of America 2015 conference.

Rich: Welcome, Tracy! Yay! I’m so excited you’re visiting me today. I promise I’ll make this interview as painless as possible.

Tracy: I’m sure it will be entirely a pleasure! Thanks for inviting me to visit!

Rich: Okay, first let’s talk about Crazy Little Thing. The book currently has over seven thousand reviews on Amazon. Insane! What do you think it is about the book that resonates with so many readers? What were your thoughts when the praise and award nominations started pouring in?

crazy-little-thing-by-tracy-broganTracy: Crazy Little Thing was the first manuscript I completed writing (after starting and abandoning about 982 others.) Since the story is light-hearted, PG-13 fare during an era of all things Fifty Shades, and since I was a debut author, my goal was to sell at least 6000 copies, thinking that number exceeded the number of relatives I have and so if I could sell that many, I could hold my head up. When I surpassed that sales goal in the first two weeks, I thought, “Hmm…. That’s peculiar.” And honestly, that’s still how I feel! I’m thrilled this story has resonated with readers and I think it’s because there is a little bit of neurotic Sadie Turner in each of us. She’s almost a caricature of all the goofy, debilitating, and hilariously human thoughts we have. My favorite compliment from a reader continues to be, “Oh, my gosh, your book made me laugh out loud!”

Rich: That’s my favorite compliment too! Speaking of funny…how many characters in your books are based on family members, relatives or friends?

Tracy: If I answer this honestly I’ll end up in big trouble… so let’s just say I infuse my characters with personality traits that I have witnessed up close and personal. There is a little bit of me in most of them, and certainly family stories and catch-phrases have found their way into my stories. The late, great Nora Ephron used to say, “Everything is copy,” and my kids know this. If they say something funny, it’s bound to end up in a book. Now they’ll actually come to me with suggestions, which I often accept!

Rich: Your kids are practically cowriters! But seriously, how hard is it for you to write with them in the house? Do you have a special hiding place?

Tracy: Hah! See above. If my kids are around, I make them plot with me! I have a home office and they do seem to congregate there so sometimes I have to shoo everyone away. And when I’m on deadline, they voluntarily stay out of my way because things can get a little tense. We call it The Cone of Hostility and they’ve learned to give me space or accept the consequences.

Tracy Brogan with Piper

Rich: Sounds worse than a dunce cap. Switching gears, let’s talk about doggies! Rumor has it you have a new Great Dane puppy at home named Piper. I cannot reveal my sources! 🙂 Please share a picture and tell us how it came to be. What has the experience been like so far? Also, did you forget how big those dogs get?

Tracy: Hard to keep a secret on Facebook! 😉 I have always wanted a Great Dane so when I was feeling particularly emotional a few weeks before I turned in my most recent manuscript, I was looking around online trying to find something that might cheer me up. What’s more cheerful than pictures of puppies, right?? The next thing you know, it’s 3:00 a.m. and I’d found a breeder with a litter ready to find their forever homes. We went and picked one out two days later. She’s a big, clumsy moose and she’s just going to get bigger and probably clumsier. As you can see, though, I’m making great use of her crate.img_1217

Rich: LOL. Cute kids. Let’s talk about your writing process… Has it changed since your first book? Do you have daily goals for word counts or pages? Do you listen to music while you write? Any writing habits?

Tracy: I listen to white noise while I write. I can’t have anything with lyrics or I just start singing and don’t get any work done. Plus, my caterwauling bothers the neighbors. As for a change in process, I do have daily word count goals, but mostly I’ve learned to respect my natural circadian rhythm. I can struggle all day trying to get 500 words in, or I can wait until 8pm and then get 2000 words out in a couple of hours. If I hit a groove, I keep going. Last week my daughter got up at 6:00 a.m. for school and I was at my desk. She said, “Wow, you’re up early.” And I said, “I never went to bed.” It’s not a system I recommend! But it’s what works for me.

Rich: That wouldn’t work for me at all! I could never stay up all night writing. My brain starts slowing down around eleven, so I’m usually in bed by then. Besides, I need my beauty rest. 😉 Okay, describe your perfect day.

Tracy: Honestly I would depend on my mood. I love a cold, rainy day when I have no plans and I can justify spending hours under a warm blanket, reading a great book. Exciting, right? But I suppose even better than that is a sunny day when I can open all the windows, hear the wind in the trees… and spend hours reading a great book. I sense a theme here. Perfect days also include coffee, my kids, a good word count, and time with friends.

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What a pleasant surprise seeing Tracy last week in San Jose!

Rich: Just one more question before I let you go… What can we look forward to reading from you in the near future?

Tracy: My Trillium Bay series starts with MY KIND OF YOU, a story about the three Callaghan sisters who grew up on a small island in Northern Michigan. Brook is the smart, dependable sister, Lilly is the pretty one, and our heroine, Emily, is the rabble-rousing troublemaker. Or at least she was. Now she’s back on the island after a seven-year absence. She’s divorced, in financial trouble, and has a twelve-year-old daughter full of opinions. With plans to “flip” her grandmother’s cottage into a lucrative rental property, Emily runs into opposition from a sexy, ambitious hotel developer but some surprising circumstances force them to become unlikely allies. Ultimately, it’s a story about love, forgiveness, romance, and coming home again. I’m so excited to share this series with readers! I hope they like it.

Rich: I’m sure they will. Thanks so much for taking time out of your busy day to visit!

Tracy: Thanks for inviting me!

Connect with Tracy 
Tracy loves to hear from readers. Visit her on Facebook or Twitter.

For a complete list of Tracy’s books, click here.

Interview with Marina Adair

I’m so excited to have author Marina Adair join me here today for a little Q & A. Before I throw out the first question, here’s her official Bio.

marina-adairMarina Adair is a #1 National best-selling author of romance novels and holds a Master of Fine arts in creative writing. Along with the St. Helena Vineyard series, she is also the author of the Sugar, Georgia series, the Heroes of St Helena series and the upcoming Destiny Bay series. She currently lives with her husband, daughter, and two neurotic cats in Northern California.

As a writer, Marina is devoted to giving her readers contemporary romance where the towns are small, the personalities large, and the romance explosive. She also loves to interact with readers and you can catch her on Twitter or visit her on Facebook.

Rich: Welcome, Marina! I must say I practically screamed when I heard your book Autumn in the Vineyard was being made into a Hallmark movie. I think that’s a dream for just about every author (including me), so please share how you felt when you got the news and your experience watching it all come together.hallmark-autumn-in-the-vineyard

autumn-in-the-vineyardMarina: Thanks for having me here today, Rich. I was so excited when I heard the news I screamed too, then I cried. But I think the best part was going to the set in Canada and watching a day of filming. I was able to meet the cast, and Larry the Llama (who plays Mittens the alpaca in the movie).

I started my career as a screen writer, earning a Master of Fine Arts in screenwriting. When I switched to novels, I thought I was saying goodbye to seeing my work on the screen, so this has been a wonderful surprise. The most exciting part is that my characters and story will find a new audience, reach readers that I never would have been able to reach.

Rich: That’s funny, because I wanted to write screenplays too. Fortunately, my hot Spanish wife convinced me to publish novels instead. So glad I listened to her! 🙂 And I’m so glad you made the switch too and were able to find readers who are now gobbling up your books. Speaking of your romance novels…I love that the animals in your stories are fun secondary characters with lots of personality. Which animal is the most popular with your fans?

Marina: I would have to say, Mittens from AUTUMN IN THE VINEYARD, for sure. Mittens is an alpaca who was kicked out of his flock and attaches himself to the lady of his house, Frankie Baudouin.

Marina Adair, Rich Amooi, and Silvi Martin

Meeting up with Marina at a local bookstore.

Rich: Note to self: add alpaca to next romantic comedy. Let’s talk about your life when you’re not writing. What would be a perfect day for you?

Marina: A hike along the creek in my small town, or maybe a stroll in downtown Franklin, TN, tasting all of the hand crafted cocktails and exploring the shops.

last-kiss-of-summerRich: That sounds wonderful. What do you like most about the stories you write? Is there always a message?

Marina: I love exploring the inner workings of large families and the different types of healthy love. I also write about strong women who go on a journey to discover their identity and inner strength. My favorite part of my stories are the older generation, the nosy old biddies.

Rich: I love them too! Tell me about your latest release.

Marina: LAST KISS OF SUMMER is a tender and witty romance between two unlikely lovers, who are both trying to overcome grief and personal loss, and find a place to call home. Luckily they arrive in Destiny Bay, where second chances and love blooms year round.

I love enemies to lovers stories almost as I love pie. So when my publisher and I talked about setting this new series in the Pacific Northwest on an orchard, all I could think of was hard cider and hot apple pie. So I came up with a hard cider brewer and a pie shop owner, who can’t stand each other, but also can’t keep their hands of each other.

Rich: Great. Now I’m craving hot apple pie with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and it’s all your fault. What can we expect from you in the future?chasing-i-do

Marina: This is the year of new series for me, with three new ones starting.

This summer I released the first book in my new Eastons series, CHASING I DO, where it takes the best man to catch a runaway bride! I am really excited about this band of brothers where, family comes first, business moves fast, and life is nothing more than a game of risk. They don’t mind breaking the rules or testing the limits, but when it comes to matters of the heart … they play for keeps.

I just typed THE END on book 2 in the Destiny Bay series, FEELS LIKE THE FIRST TIME, which is a friends to loves story between a former NHL god and the town’s tough girl. It releases April of 2017.

I also have a new series, Sequoia Lake, which follows a team of bad ass search and rescue men as they each find love in the rugged Sierra Nevada. Book 1, IT STARTED WITH A KISS, releases January 30, 2017.

Rich:  So much romance coming our way! Looking forward to it. Before you go, I also wanted to mention your St. Helena Vineyard’s Kindle World released today! Nineteen other authors from around the globe have written their own stories of love and happily ever after, set in the same quaint town of St. Helena.

You are one busy gal! Wishing you tons of success and happiness. Thanks so much for stopping by. 🙂

Marina: Thanks for having me, Rich!!!

Interview with Kristan Higgins

Kristan Higgins

Kristan Higgins

Do you hear that? That’s the sound of me giggling and rubbing my hands together. I get to interview one of my favorite authors!

Her smile is contagious. Her laughter is contagious. Her stories are contagious. She’s Kristan Higgins! Yay! Time to cue the band to play something special in her honor like a Norwegian folk song or an Irish polka. Wait—I don’t have a band. Maybe I need to get a band. Let’s move on for now…

For my birthday in 2013, my hot Spanish wife (Silvi Martin) gave me a paperback copy of Kristan’s book, My One and Only. Silvi wrote inside the book, “Not too long from now, you’ll have a book like this in your hands but it will be from author Rich Amooi.” Isn’t my wife the best? In fact, I need to run and kiss her right now! One moment, please…

Okay, I’m back! That was a fantastic kiss. Anyway, IMy One and Only by Kristan Higgins quickly found out that Kristan was a brilliant romantic comedy writer. The best. I read My One and Only in a day and wanted more. I immediately went to Amazon and ordered six other books from her, all in paperback. I ended up reading those books in a few weeks and then went through withdrawals since she didn’t have anything else available at that time for me to read. Poor me. Insert a boo-boo face and sad song here. Maybe that Celine Dion song from Titanic. Anyway, reading Kristan’s books not only entertained me but also inspired me. I had always been a fan of romantic comedy movies and had no idea people wrote romantic comedy novels! I wanted to do that! So I did. It was just after that when I started working on my debut romantic comedy novel, Five Minutes Late.

Before I get to the interview, here’s Kristan’s official Bio from Amazon:

Kristan Higgins is the New York Times, Publishers Weekly, USA TODAY and Wall Street Journal bestselling author of more than a dozen novels and a two-time winner of the Romance Writers of America RITA Award. Her books have been translated into more than twenty languages and received numerous starred reviews from Publishers Weekly, Booklist, Library Journal, Kirkus and Romantic Times. She is a five-time nominee for The Kirkus Prize for best work of fiction.

My Kristan Higgins Books

Can you tell I’m a fan of Kristan Higgins?

Rich: Okay…on with the interview! Welcome, Kristan!

Kristan: Hi, Rich! Thanks so much for having me!

Rich: It’s a pleasure to have you here. I’ve been wanting to interview you for a while, so this is a special treat for me. 🙂 Let’s first talk about the characters in your books. You like to write about real people, people who are not perfect. Was this a decision from the beginning when you were writing your first manuscript?

Kristan: Yes, I absolutely wanted to write about regular people. While I totally understand the appeal of billionaires and bodyguards, I wanted to write a story that could actually happen. Sometimes, it can be a little discouraging to read about someone who seems perfect and has it all—the beauty, the career, the brains, the elegance, these perfectly perfect characters. I wanted to write books about the rest of us.

Rich: I like that and think it’s one of the things that attracted me to your books. I also love how much you love doggies! Which of the dogs in your books is your favorite character?

Kristan: Well, that’s a tough one, since several are based on my own dogs. Digger from Fools Rush In was my own Digger; Colonel from Catch of the Day was based on our wonderful Brendan; and Beauty from Somebody to Love is our Willow. Aside from that innate favoritism, I think I’d have to go with Blue, Faith’s Golden retriever from The Best Man.

Rich: Great choice. Have you ever fallen in love with any of your characters and wished they were your friends in real life?

Kristan with her beautiful smiley face at a book signing.

Kristan: You know, I do! I fall in love with every one of the heroes. It feels like a requirement of the job for me. I had the worst time getting over Leo in If You Only Knew. But I kind of fall for the heroines, too, and wish we could get together for coffee or a glass of wine.

Rich: I have no doubts they’d love to get together with you too. 🙂 I know you watch a lot of movies. Do you picture your stories as movies as you’re writing them?

Kristan: I love storytelling in all forms, so yes, I do see a lot of movies. I write visually— scenes where the characters are sitting around drinking tea usually get the axe. I want my reader to be able to imagine everything clearly, and I think scenes where there’s stuff going on are just more fun to read.

Rich: Absolutely. Speaking of stuff… What are five things you can’t live without?

Kristan: My family, coffee (note that thecoffee family got top billing, but only just), dogs, springtime and books.

Rich: We love coffee too and also agree that family and friends are number one. What’s the most valuable piece of advice you received at the beginning of your writing career?

Kristan: Oh, great question! I got fantastic advice from Cindy Gerard, who shares my agent and is a fantastic writer of romantic suspense. She said, “Keep your head down, stay off the loops and do your thing.” I think of that advice at least once a week. It’s not that writing communities (which is what she meant by loops at the time) are a bad thing; it’s that for a new writer, there’s so much conflicting advice and opinions, you might get a little dizzy trying to follow it all.

Rich: Great advice and this one hits close to home since I’m a member of a couple of writing communities. I’ve learned a lot and have met some amazing writers, but sometimes the best thing I can do is just turn off the Internet and write. Okay, let’s move on to your love life. What is the most romantic moment you’ve had with your husband, McIrish?

Kristan: I’m happy to say we’ve had a lot. The moment that leaps to mind is a simple one, and one that we live out quite often—sitting on the porch after dinner, listening to the birdies sing, having a glass of wine and knowing just how lucky we are.

Rich: That sounds wonderful and gratitude is so important. Speaking of which—I’m so grateful you took time out of your busy life to chat with me. Thank you for the honor and pleasure, Kristan. 🙂

Kristan: Thanks so much for having me on your blog, Rich! Hope to see you soon.

Rich: Yes! See you in San Diego next month for the Romance Writers of America conference. 🙂

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Anything for You by Kristan HigginsIf you’ve never read one of Kristan’s books, you’re missing out! Her latest romantic comedy in the Blue Heron series is Anything For You. Here’s the book description:

Before you get down on bended knee… 

…you should be pretty darn sure the answer will be yes. For ten years, Connor O’Rourke has been waiting for Jessica Dunn to take their on-again, off-again relationship public, and he thinks the time has come. His restaurant is thriving, she’s got her dream job at Blue Heron Vineyard—it’s the perfect time to get married.

When he pops the question, however, her answer is a fond but firm no. If it ain’t broke, why fix it? Jess has her hands full with her younger brother, who’s now living with her full-time, and a great career after years of waitressing. What she and Connor have is perfect: friends with an excellent benefits package. Besides, with her difficult past (and reputation), she’s positive married life isn’t for her.

But this time, Connor says it’s all or nothing. If she doesn’t want to marry him, he’ll find someone who does. Easier said than done, given that he’s never loved anyone but her. And maybe Jessica isn’t quite as sure as she thinks…

Grab a copy of Anything For You HERE.

Find a complete list of Kristan’s books on Amazon.

Connect With Kristan:

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