ISLAND LOVELIES AUTHOR INTERVIEW - Verna Clay
I came across a book series called Romance on the Ranch by Verna Clay. I love a good Ranch series so I thought I'd give it a go. Let me say, I'm so glad I did. This series is excellent. Below is book covers, book description and a little Except from each of the books. I got the chance to interview Verna Clay which is also below.
Dream Kisses (Romance on the Ranch book 1)
Dream Kisses kicks off the series with Sarah Carter, a.k.a Mims Murphy, meeting Sage Tanner at Imaginings Publishing while he's posing for the cover of her soon-to-be-released romance novel. After being bulldozed into a coffee break with him by her publisher, an embarrassing incident upsets Sarah and she walks out. Of course, fate has a wonderful way of intervening in matters of the heart. After deciding her book needs realism, she signs up for "dude" lessons at Lazy M Dude Ranch. Imagine her chagrin when she discovers the owner of the ranch is none other than Mr. Tanner himself!
The hostess handed them menus. Menus to order a damn cup of coffee. Sage laid his on the table and didn't even glance at it.
Mims looked her menu over, front and back, and so did the others. The hostess returned and he listened to Chuck, because he couldn't bring himself to call him Chuckie, order a Muddy Mocha Miracle.
Sissy ordered a double shot Hammerhead Bottom Feeder and Sage was curious about what the author would order. Very politely, she said, "I'd like a Latin Lover Latte, with lite whipped cream, please." He had to bite the inside of his cheek to keep from laughing.
The hostess turned to him. "And for you, sir?" She batted her false eyelashes.
Honey Kisses (Romance on the Ranch book 2)
Ann Hackstetter first met Jackson Martinez while vacationing at Lazy M Dude Ranch with her husband and teenage son. Part of the "dude" package was a night of fun at Boot Bustin' Barn. Ann suspected that Sage Tanner, owner of Lazy M, bribed Jackson to dance with her as a way of making her inattentive husband jealous. Little did she realize that the dance would awaken emotions long suppressed. Of course, there is no outlet for those emotions. Now, five years later, she's a widow--a destitute widow. Over the years, her son's friendship with Sage's daughter Julie has blossomed, and now they're getting married. Wedding responsibilities have temporarily taken Ann's mind off her desperate situation. At the reception, Jackson asks her to dance--reawakening those emotions. He makes her feel twenty-one, instead of forty-one.
Jackson Martinez has an easy way with the women and never gets too serious. However, to his surprise, he is attracted to timid Annie. She's older than he is, has a grown son, and probably has an aversion to men after being married to a guy who paid more attention to his cell phone than to her. When Sage reveals Annie's sad state of economic affairs, and says she's looking for a job, Jackson offers her a position at his cattle ranch running his household. Of course, he's just trying to help her get back on her feet, or so he almost convinces himself. Little does he know that Annie has a secret.
Excerpt from Jacob and Julie's wedding reception:
Ann laughed and surreptitiously glanced at Jackson. Pritzy had pulled her chair close to his and pressed her body against his side. The pretty cowgirl reached to smooth a lock of his golden hair and whisper in his ear. He smiled and then glanced in Ann's direction. Ann quickly turned to her granny and asked how she liked the green bean casserole.
Baby Kisses (Romance on the Ranch book 3)
Tooty Townsend bore a child at the age of sixteen. Now she has her hands full raising four year old Harris and trying to make a living. Reclusive author, Maxwell Henry, real name, Miles Brightman, is looking to hire a personal assistant while he's in Colorado finishing up his latest suspense thriller. Sarah Tanner, stepmother to Tooty's best friend, Julie, and a friend of Miles, recommended her to the author. Unfortunately, Harris climbed onto the guy's lap at Julie and Jacob's wedding reception and asked him to take him for a ride in his wheelchair. Then he asked him to marry his mommy and become his daddy! Tooty needs a job and she's swallowing her pride to apply for this one.
Miles shifted his wheelchair so he could see out the living room window. He watched the young woman step from her battered pickup. So this was the girl with the strange first name Sarah had referred. Her dark, strawberry blonde hair looked familiar. When she'd almost reached the porch, recognition slammed him and he groaned. It was the girl from the wedding; the one with the cute, but rascally little boy--the boy who'd ask him to marry his mommy and become his daddy. He groaned again when the doorbell rang.
These books can be bought separately but Verna has brought out book bundle for the brilliant price of just £1.95/$3.08 for the first 3 books.
I read these books in December 2012 and fell in love with all the character's. The couples are so sweet and perfect for each other. I was gutted when I finished Baby kisses and there was a few characters I wanted a book for. Well me being me decided to contact Verna to see if there would be any more books to the Romance on the Ranch series. When Verna replied she informed me that there would NOT be any more books. I was so sad. I wanted... no NEEDED to have more books with these couples in. I had not had my fill. We emailed a few times about what I loved about the books and who I wanted to see get their Happily Ever After!
To my surprise, a few weeks later I received a email from Verna informing me that I had inspired her to write a FORTH book!! YAY! I was absolutely delighted. She told me a little information about the forth book called Candy Kisses and said it would be released in February 2013. Well it's now here!!
Candy Kisses (Romance on the Ranch book 4)Candy Kisses - Amazon UK
After his latest bull riding competition, widower Dirk Branigan is flat on his back with a busted leg. In dire need of domestic help for the care of his ten year old daughter, Tessa, as well as meal preparation and household chores, he hires a woman sight unseen, simply because his friends Sage Tanner and Miles Brightman ask that he do so. After meeting his "domestic help," he decides Sage and Miles are going to owe him big time. The woman is spoiled, temperamental, frustrating, and yes, at times, endearing. Thankfully, Tessa takes to her immediately. As for Dirk, uncovering the woman behind the façade will take patience, coaxing, and a lot of love.
Chapter One: Speak of the Devil
Tooty admonished her boys as they piled out of the van, "Morgan, stop tormenting your brother! Harris, make sure Morgan and Eli are careful when they climb the ladder. And when I call you for lunch, I don't want you dallying around." She grinned. "Oh, and one more thing—have fun!" Harris, Eli, and Morgan yelled thanks to their mom and then shouted for joy as they raced across the drive on a perfect spring Saturday.
Six months pregnant and with her youngest son, two year old Austin on her hip, Tooty waited until her boys had reached the tree house Sage Tanner and Jackson Martinez had just finished building a week earlier, before climbing her porch steps next to the wheelchair ramp for her husband.
"I wanna pway wid brothers," Austin pouted.
"Honey, after I let daddy know we're home I'll take you to play."
On the porch Tooty set Austin down and juggled the grocery sack so she could open the front door. Glancing around, she made a mental note to water the bulbs in her window boxes and sweep the debris that had blown across the porch. Although Miles insisted that she hire help for the innumerable chores necessary for their family of six—soon to be seven, she enjoyed working around the home she had inherited before marrying Miles, and which they had expanded upon by adding three bedrooms, two bathrooms, a family room, an office, and modernizing the kitchen. The additions were larger than the original house.
"Miles! I'm home!" Tooty called as Austin ran to find his daddy. "I ordered the new blinds for our bedroom. I can't wait 'til they arrive." She entered the kitchen.
Austin had already climbed onto his father's lap and was grinning from ear-to-ear as he reached for a cookie on a platter in the center of the table. The strange expression on Miles' face while he talked on his cell phone alerted Tooty to the fact that something was wrong. Her heart dropped. Had someone been hurt? Lifting Austin off his lap, she carried him and his cookie to the family room to play with the myriad of toys always scattered about.
When she returned, Miles was saying into his phone, "Hmm. The guy's a rat. Are you going to pursue legal action if you find him?"
Tooty walked to the sink, poured herself a glass of water, and then sat across from Miles.
He glanced at her, shook his head and said, "Monica, let me think about your situation and then I'll call you back."
Tooty's eyes rounded. Monica! She jerked her hand to her mouth in surprise.
Miles watched her reaction and slowly nodded that it was the same person Tooty suspected.
Snotty Monica, my husband's ex-girlfriend is calling him!
Miles said, "Don't cry. Everything will work out." He listened and finished with, "Try not to worry. I'll talk to you soon." He touched the screen of his cell phone to disconnect and shook his head again. "I can't believe it."
Tooty, on pins and needles, waited for him to spill the beans.
"Give me just a minute," he said, and rolled his wheelchair to the counter to pour a cup of coffee. After opening the fridge and dousing a healthy dose of cream into his cup, he returned to the table and sipped.
Tooty said, "Miles, if you keep me in suspense much longer, I'm going to scream."
Her husband set his cup down. "Monica is broke, homeless, and…pregnant."
"What!" Tooty's eyes rounded like saucers.
"Seems she got involved with some smooth talker who convinced her that he was an investment banker, and after they'd lived together for some months, she invested all of her funds in what she thought was a high yielding account. A few days later the scumbag left her high and dry and the authorities think he skipped the country. Then, within the same week, her company downsized and laid her off." Miles wasn't finished, "And the next week she discovered she was pregnant after she got an eviction notice because 'scum bag' hadn't paid the rent like he'd said."
Tooty held her hands to her cheeks in shock. "What's she going to do…about the baby, I mean?"
Miles smiled and chuckled. "She surprised me there. She said she's going to keep this baby no matter what. She said if I could survive having so many children, she could survive having just one."
Still shocked, Tooty asked, "Why is she calling you? Does she want to borrow money?"
"Actually, no. I offered to give her a loan, but she refused. She said the reason she'd called, other than having a shoulder to cry on, was to ask if I had any connections for a new job. She said I was the only friend she could think to call."
"Well, that doesn't surprise me. Her not having friends, I mean. So she hasn't contacted your mom or dad?"
"No. She said she hasn't spoken with them in over a year and now she's too mortified to do so."
"Well, as you know, she's not on my list of favorite people after that stunt she pulled in New York. She wanted me to feel like a hick at that fancy restaurant, and I sure did, but I'm not so vindictive as to not want things to turn out well for her. I know what it's like to be alone, pregnant, and rejected by the father of your child."
Miles reached his hand across the small table and clasped hers. "But I'm eternally grateful that Harris' father turned out to be such a lowlife. I love you, Tooty, and I love Harris like my own son."
Tooty lifted the hand of the father of Eli, Morgan, and Austin and their teeny bun still in the oven, and kissed it.
Interview with Verna Clay.
1. If you could work with any author who would it be?
I'm going to change the word "work" to the word "learn" in responding to this question. I would love to learn from Susan Elizabeth Phillips. Her novels are romantic, funny, endearing, sweet and spicy, and always entertaining.
2. Who is your favourite author and is your writing style similar to theirs?
I have several favourite authors. As mentioned above, I think Susan Elizabeth Phillips is one of the best. Catherine Anderson is also a fabulous writer. Some of the self-published authors I love to read are: Bev Pettersen, Sondra Allen Carr, Maggie Shayne, Marika Christian, Sarah Schofield, and Felicia Rogers. Recently, I started reading a Vampire Series by J.R. Rain that is fabulously entertaining.
As far as having a similar writing style to any of my favourite authors, I do not believe so.
3. What's your favourite part of a book?
Romantic tension is my absolute favourite part of a book. I especially enjoy the first meeting between the h/H. I also like when the "sparks fly" while they're getting to know each other.
4. When naming your characters, do you give any thought to the actual meaning?
Usually (more so in my fantasy stories). There are lots of elements that go into my books that readers are unaware of. Sometimes I choose names because of meanings, sometimes because they are names of family members or friends and I want to surprise them (always in a good way). At times, even numbers are significant. I incorporate a lot of stuff behind the scenes for my own enjoyment.
5. Who are your target readers?
My target readers are those who LOVE romance. Also, readers who want to escape the ho-hum for awhile and soar on the wings of impossible possibilities, like "maybe that could happen to me."
6. What are the major themes of your work?
I know it's been said many times, but my format is usually, boy meets girl (or visa versa); boy loses girl; boy gets girl again. In the midst of that, I like to throw in lots of romantic tension and several plot twists.
7. Any recent works that you admire?
I must say that the books by J.R. Rain in his "Vampire for Hire Series" have me hooked. It's not a genre I normally read, but the synopsis was so intriguing I gave it a try. I can easily see this as a television series.
As far as romance books, Bev Pettersen is a master.
8. What do you think people search for in a book?
As different as people are, I don't think I can answer that, so I will speak for myself. I want to escape to another place for awhile. I want to get into the mind and emotions of characters and find out what makes them tick. Usually, I am drawn to character-driven stories rather than plot. I also want an ending that is fulfilling and doesn't leave me up in the air.
9. How have your personal experiences affected your writing?
My life (as well as everyone's) is composed of happy times, sad times, boring times, busy times, crying times, laughing times, etc. Every emotion I have experienced affects what I write.
10. What genre of books do you like to read? Do you limit yourself to only the genre that you write yourself?
Mostly I read romance, both contemporary and historical. However, occasionally I find a book outside of that genre. I enjoy Dan Brown's books (loved The DaVinci Code). I also enjoyed a middle grade book called "Killer Cows" by D.M. Anderson.
11. Were you always good at writing?
No. I have spent untold hours learning the craft and will continue to do so. It's not something one ever completely attains to. There is always a better way to phrase a sentence or tell a story.
12. How do you get started with writing a story (as in, how do you start developing the story, how do you get inspired for it)
Many times, I am inspired by a title that pops into my head and then I build on it. Sometimes my husband and I throw out scenarios. Sometimes I wake in the middle of the night with an idea. Sometimes, the secondary characters in a book overshadow my thoughts while I'm trying to write about the primary ones.
The "Romance on the Ranch Series" (also called the "Kisses Series") started when I had an idea about a hot male model falling for a not-so-hot older woman. After that, the title "Dream Kisses" popped into my mind, and I worked on making the title fit the story. Books two and three came about when secondary characters started "telling" me their stories.
13. What advice would you give to people who "run out of creativity" when writing?
Take a break. Find something else to do. It may take a week or much longer, but after awhile, if you love writing, the juices will flow again.
14. What advice would you give to a person just starting out attempting to write their own book?
Read books by authors you enjoy and pay attention to how they write. Learn the principle that "less is more." What I mean is that unnecessary words must go. I began learning that principle after an editor "red marked" my manuscript. Here is an easy example: Suppose you have a character sit in a chair, so you write, "He sat down in the chair." Delete the word "down" because it's not needed. The same is true for stand up. Delete the word "up." These are very simplistic examples, but once you look for words to delete, you'll be surprised by how many you find. Deleting words polishes a manuscript. Also, learn punctuation. If you don't feel comfortable with your own editing, hire an editor. They can be found for a reasonable price and are worth every penny.
15. Are any of your characters based on people you know?
No. My characters are an amalgam of my observations of many people.
16. When writing the "Romance on the Ranch Series," did you plan to give all characters their happy ever after and how many books can we expect in this series?
I always write with the intention of a happily-ever-after. There may be sad happenings in the story, but the ending will be happy. As for the "Romance on the Ranch Series," after three books, I thought about continuing it, but wasn't sure if I would. Since I was working on another project, I put the series on a back burner. When I received emails from readers wanting the stories to continue, I was very happy. And, it was YOUR email that caused me put my current project on hold and write book four, "Candy Kisses!" Thank you, Alicia! I have loved writing this story.
Thank you for this interview. It's been a pleasure answering your questions.
Verna Clay has many books out so go check them out. You can contact Verna on website.
I'd like to Thank Verna for taking the time to first email with me and then take time out her busy schedule to complete a interview with me. I am a huge fan of Verna and would like to share me love for her books with you all. A huge congratulations on the release of Candy Kisses Verne. I'll be sure to leave you a review as soon as I've read it. Thank you for another book in the Romance on the Ranch series!! Alicia.
Thanks for reading.
The Lovelies xx