Good Morning Everyone,
Today I’d like to introduce you to romance author Darlene Gardner. Welcome to my blog Darlene. Can you tell us about your latest release?
First of all, thanks Anna for hosting me. It gives me a chance to talk about two of my favorite subjects: Writing and Christmas. They come together in The Christmas Gift, my November release from Harlequin Superromance.
Krista Novak’s mother tricks her into coming home for the holidays for the first time in the eight years since she moved to Europe. Record snowfall prevents Krista from leaving, making her face the past and the man she left behind.
What inspired you to write this book?
The book is based on a true story. Kinda, sorta. Okay, not really. But two winters ago I impulsively decided to visit friends and family in South Florida after stumbling across a fantastic round-trip airfare. I intended to stay five days. Three cancelled flights later, I was still enjoying sunny Florida on an impromptu twelve-day vacation. You see, my jaunt to the tropical south coincided with the Snowpocalypse, the back-to-back blizzards that buried the East Coast in the white stuff. I came up with the plot for The Christmas Gift
while sitting on the beach. A major difference is that Krista’s stuck where it’s snowing. But, hey, she has Alex Costas to keep her warm.
How did you choose the title for this book?
I actually like Let It Snow, another of the titles I proposed, a little better. Harlequin does a lot of market research about titles so I’ll bow to the company’s greater wisdom. There is a Christmas gift that has special meaning in the book so the title’s appropriate.
Can you share an excerpt from the book with us?
Here’s one from early in the book. I think it’s self explanatory:
“So while we’re being outspoken and clearing the air, let’s hear why you dumped me,” Krista said.
Alex swung his gaze from the road to Krista, not able to determine from her expression if she were joking. “I didn’t dump you! You moved to the Czech Republic.”
“Two weeks after you dropped me like a hot potato.” She gasped and pointed at the road. “Red light!”
They were approaching a traffic light that was turning from yellow to red, but Alex only had one choice because of the SUV on his bumper. He kept his foot steady on the gas and went through the intersection. Behind them, the SUV came to a screeching stop.
“You ran that red light!” Krista said.
“It was safer than stopping.” Alex counted himself lucky he didn’t hear a police siren. How could he explain missing the red light when he’d driven this route thousands of times?
“Am I distracting you?” she asked.
“Ya think?” He vowed to keep his eyes on the road, but his mind was mired in the past. “To set the record straight, I didn’t break things off until after you accepted the job.”
“You had to realize I would have liked to keep seeing you in those two weeks before I moved,” Krista said.
“What would have been the point?” he asked.
“We were having a good time together,” she said.
“The good times had to end, sooner or later.”
“It would have been nice if it was later,” she said.
Were they really having this conversation? Alex didn’t know any other woman who talked so bluntly. Was that one of the reasons he’d been attracted to her?
“More time together would have changed nothing,” he said. “You still would have moved to Europe and I still would have stayed here.”
“I suppose,” she said, a sigh in her voice. “But it’s not like we had a commitment.”
The few weeks they’d known each other had been enough time for Alex to suspect he wanted more from Krista than sex. Her surprise announcement that she was leaving had forced him to conclude he hadn’t known her at all.
“Why didn’t you mention you were considering moving to Europe?” Alex posed a question he should have asked back then.
“I wasn’t,” Krista said. “The job offer came from out of the blue, and I accepted on the spot.”
Alex hadn’t seen it coming. One day, he was dating a woman with a semester left at a college less than three hours away in Philadelphia. The next, she was moving across the Atlantic Ocean.
Looking back on it, Alex had envisioned the same future for Krista that her mother had. She was a business major at the University of Pennsylvania and her parents owned a nursery. It seemed a given that she’d eventually join the family business, perhaps because
that was the choice Alex made.
No, he hadn’t known Krista well at all.
“You sound like you have no regrets,” he said.
“Not about moving,” Krista said. “But if I had it to do over again, I’d wait a lot longer until I told you I was taking the job.”
The last mile before they reached the nursery was on a fairly steep road with a narrow shoulder. Krista didn’t sound like she was teasing but Alex couldn’t risk a glance at her to find out.
“We still would have had an expiration date,” he said.
“Yeah,” Krista said, “but think of the fun we could have had in the meantime.”
Alex would rather not. “What’s over is over.”
The paved parking lot that served both Novaks’ Nursery and the adjoining Christmas shop came into view, half filled with cars even though it was barely past ten o’clock. Alex switched on his turn signal and slowed down.
“What if it’s not over? What would you say if I propositioned you now?” Krista asked in the same low voice she once used when they were in bed together. Just like that, remembered sensations assailed him. The smooth texture of her skin. The fresh smell of her hair. The
sweet taste of her kiss.
Alex focused on another memory as he pulled the truck into the parking lot, found a space and shut off the ignition: The disappointment that Krista was leaving when things between them had barely begun.
“You won’t proposition me,” he said in an equally soft voice. “You won’t be here
Now can you please tell us a little about yourself?
I’m a former journalist turned novelist who loves her family, reading, traveling and sports. I wrote features and sports stories for daily newspapers until giving a go at writing fiction full time. I’m kind of shocked to realize I’ve dedicated myself to the business of writing books for fifteen years. I just made two sales to Superromance, which will bring me to an
even dozen books for the line. I’ve also written for Intimate Moments, Duets and Temptation at Harlequin/Silhouette and for Dorchester Love Spell and Avalon
What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?
Unfortunately, I don’t seem to be able to write out of order. I’m a very linear thinker. I can’t write the second chapter until I finish the first. Other writers jump to another scene when they get stuck. Not me. I just plow on through, as long as I’m traveling in a straight line.
What do you think is the most important to remember when writing romance?
There’s nothing more important in this world than love. Think about it. People live and die for love. It’s what makes life worth living.
What genres and authors would we find you reading when taking a break from your own writing?
I love romantic suspense, as long as the plot doesn’t revolve around a serial killer. I just find that kind of stuff too disturbing. I really enjoy a subset of romantic suspense that sometimes referred to as domestic suspense, with everyday women thrust into extraordinary circumstances. Joy Fielding, Patricia MacDonald, Linda Howard and Karen Robards are some of my favorites. I’m also partial to my Super sisters. The Superromance line has a rich variety of plots and an impressive lineup of talented authors.
How much of your personality and life experiences are in your writing?
I think, in a way, we are what we write. Although all my plots and characters are different, my world view carries throughout my stories. I’m basically an optimist. I believe that most people are good, that hard work pays off, that a supportive word can work wonders and that love is what matters most.
Tell us your story of “getting published”:
I didn’t belong to any writing groups and had never heard of RWA when I first submitted to what was then Silhouette Intimate Moments. So I didn’t realize it was a good sign when the rejection letter came with two pages of details about how to revise the story. Even though Wade Conner’s Revenge was only my second full manuscript, I was crushed. It probably took me a good three or four months before I decided to revise and submit again. This time it sold.
What were you doing when you received your first contract?
Most writers remember every detail of The Call. Not me. But I have a good reason for that. My son was only a few months old at the time. I maintain to this day that the first year of both his life and my daughter’s life are blurs. I think it was the sleep deprivation. I do remember the elation, though. And the happy tears.
What are you working on now?
I’m working on a contracted Superromance about a woman who starts to fear she was abducted as a child almost thirty years before and the man who could make her face her past. They meet when he’s checking out a lead for his sister, the PI looking into the
Do you have any events coming up?
I just got back from the NINC (Novelists Inc.) conference in Florida. It was all about the changing world of publishing. I’ll do some online promo for my Christmas book but I have a December deadline for the next book. Oh, and Christmas shopping. I’ve gotta fit that in somewhere.
Where can readers learn more about your books?
Check out my website at http://www.darlenegardner.com
I’m also on Facebook and Twitter
Do you have any words of encouragement for unpublished writers?
Persevere. If you don’t keep trying, you’ll never reach your goals. I know. Even though I’ve had more than thirty books published, I had a seven-year gap between the second and third. Boy, am I glad I didn’t give up.
Is there anything else you’d like to tell us?
In a previous incarnation, I wrote romantic comedy. I spent
the summer updating three of my single-title romantic comedies
Bait and Switch
Snoops in the City
and making them available for Nook, Kindle and on Smashwords. Snoops in the City is
currently on sale for just 99 cents.
Thanks Darlene for stopping by today and I wish you many sales on The Christmas Gift!
Happy Reading Everyone!