Taryn Plendl

Author Interview & Spotlight

What inspired you to start writing?

I’ve always been a reader and writer, but I never imagined I could put all of the stories in my head to paper. As a busy mom who was trying to keep my household running, taking care of my family, including a child with special needs, and working part-time outside of the home, there just wasn’t much left for only me. One night in 2012, when the house was quiet, I just started writing. It was amazingly cathartic. Writing gives me an identity that is all my own.

What is one thing you wish you knew before you published your first book?

I really wish I knew how important a professional editor was. I published my first book in 2012 after having friends and family “edit” it. Needless to say, it didn’t work well. I ended up having it professionally edited soon after, and would never publish without going through several edits now. It is so important, and believe me, your reader will make sure you know it. 😉

What is your current favorite book? (since I know we all have more than one 🙂 )

Ugh! It is so hard to choose…I guess the book I finished most recently that has stayed with me over the past couple weeks was, The Silent Waters by Brittainy Cherry. The girl can write!

Do you have any book signings coming up? (if so, when & where?)

I’m done for the year of 2016. I have several in 2017. I think I start with Authors in the City in Raleigh on 3/11.

What is one of your secret (or not so secret) obsessions?

Wine and Dark chocolate, and usually together. Give me a good book, a glass of red wine and a piece of dark chocolate, and I am as close to heaven on Earth as you can get.

Book Spotlight!

F*cking Awkward Holidays

25 Authors, Awkward Sex, Epic Cause!

– Synopsis – 

Holidays conjure up many thoughts – long, chilly nights snuggled up by the fire, bare feet tucked under the one you love. Some are hallmarks of summer when your skin is warmed by more than the sun. There is the after-Thanksgiving dinner nightcap, and the feel of the smooth, sultry burn of whiskey warming your chest, rendering your limbs heavy. Or lazy kisses and wandering hands beneath your best dress on a romantic Valentine’s Day date.

But sometimes, Grandma gets boozed up and passes out at the table, your brother gets caught rubbing one out under the fireworks, your kids catch mommy kissing Santa (and not on the lips), your special new toy winds up in the wrong gift bag, a goat steals and wears your sexy new thong and watching the ball drop takes on a whole new meaning.

In other words, the holidays can be magical, but sometimes, they’re also just f*cking awkward.

Special Foreword written by USA Today Bestselling Author, Tara Sivec’s dog, Fat Ralph.

TK Rapp

Author Interview & Spotlight

What inspired you to start writing?

When my husband was in the service and I was at home with my kids, I had a lot of time on my hands. I always wanted to write, and would sit down and start…only to stop. I’d password protect it with the intention of getting back to it. I wish I knew what I wrote because I’ve since lost those passwords. But anyway, when I turned 35, I told my husband I wanted to write a book and he said go for it. And I did. My first book was an absolute labor of love and I had so much fun doing it.

What is one thing you wish you knew before you published your first book?

To network. I met some awesome authors prior to writing and I was a fan. I never approached them as a “peer” because I was a fan first. To this day, I have not appealed to those authors because there’s a level of awesomeness to them that I don’t want to touch or appear to take advantage of. If that makes any sense. I was so eager to get out there that I published and pretty much learned as I went along. Oh, another thing I wish I knew about was critique partners. Damn! Those are great to have, especially if they don’t hold back, purely out of love and respect.

What is your current favorite book? (since I know we all have more than one 🙂 )

In The Band by Jean Haus. I’ve read it a few times and recently re-read it. It’s just one that I like to pick up from time to time.

Do you have any book signings coming up? (if so, when & where?)

Holidays with the Belles in Dallas!! I can’t wait! Their events are incredible and so much fun.

What is one of your secret (or not so secret) obsessions?

Supernatural. I mean, it was pretty serious before, but now that I have my daughters involved, it’s reached stupid levels. Like…I purchased SPN Con tickets for all three of us so we can meet them.

Book Spotlight!

Fumbled (The Girls of Beachmont, book 1)

Play ball!

– Synopsis – 

A good love story always begins the same way.

A chance meeting.

A sizzling look.

A flat tire…

Dani Miner could have been voted least likely to be a damsel in distress.

Tabor Hunter should have been voted most likely to do the rescuing.

So when Dani gets a flat tire on her way home one evening, she is, at first, less than thrilled to be helped out by a man that is clearly too charming for his own good. Even if he is handsome. And buff. And the king of the thousand watt smile.

However, prickly Dani is eventually charmed by her hottie knight in shining sunglasses. And a brief moment spent on the side of the road on a hot summer evening quickly leads to a first date.

But what Dani doesn’t realize is that she has just agreed to go out with the very famous defensive end for the San Diego Quakes. And Tabor is thrilled to finally meet a woman who doesn’t fall at his overly athletic feet. This year’s most valuable player is excited to have a chance to be an ordinary guy with a less than ordinary woman.

But being a celebrity can put a real kink in your love life and Dani, a woman used to a much quieter life, is soon caught up in the high paced world of fame and football.

Falling in love is easy. Falling in love with a sports star is another story.

Can Dani figure out how to play the game before she fumbles her chance at happiness?

November Giveaway

★✩★ GIVEAWAY ★✩★

Over $2000.00 in PRIZES!

By entering this contest you are agreeing to sign up for these authors newsletters:

A.C. James, AJ Nuest, Alana Albertson, Alexis Abbott, Alexis Noelle, Alix Nichols, Allison Gatta, Amy Manemann, Angel Lawson, Ann Gimpel, Anne Jolin, Anne Mercier, Anthea Lawson, Anthea Sharp, Arial Burnz, BB Hamel, Bella Love-Wins, Blair Babylon, Brenda Trim and Tami Julka, C.C. Cartwright, Calinda B, Carey Heywood, Cathryn Fox, Clara Stone, Clarissa Carlyle, Cristina Rayne, Daisy Prescott, Demelza Carlton, Eden Conner, Eliana Stone Peters, Elizabeth Burgess, Elle Christensen, Elle Thorne, Emma Nichols, Emme Rollins, Erin Kellison, Fan. X, Gabi Moore, Gina Robinson, Harmony Raines, Hazel Hunter, Heather C. Leigh, JC Andrijeski, JS Wilder, Jana Aston, Jennifer Dawson, Jenni Moen, Josie Bordeaux, Julia Kent, KB Winters, K.N. Lee, Kaia Bennett, Kate Kent, Kendra Wild, Kerry Adrienne, Kim Faulks, Kim Linwood, Kindle Alexander, Kristen Strassel, Kylie Walker, L.A. Cotton, Lauren Landish, Lexi Buchanan, Lexxie Couper, Lexy Cole, Lia Davis, Lia Fairchild, Liliana Rhodes, Lillian Cartier, Lily Zante, Lisa Blackwood, M. Stratton, M.C. Cerny, Mandy Rosko, Marquita Valentine, Michele Bardsley, Michelle Dare, Michelle Fox, Morgan Jane Mitchell, Nicole Blanchard, Olivia Rigal, P. Jameson, Patty Jansen, R.E. Butler, Rachel E. Carter, Rachel Blaufeld, Rebecca Brooke, Renee George, Rochelle Paige, Rylie Roberts, Sarah M. Cradit, Scarlett Dawn, Selena Kitt, Stacy Eaton, Stacy Kestwick, Summer Evans, Suzanne Rock, T.M. Franklin, Tasha Black, Terah Edun, Theresa Troutman, Velvet Reed, Yasmine Galenorn, Zara Keane, and Zoey Derrick.

The Story Behind Better

Cancer and Harry Potter

You wouldn’t think cancer would be the first thing someone thinks about when thinking of Harry Potter, but for me, it always will be.

I had not read the book when the first movie came out. It was just before Christmas 2001. At the time, I lived in Phoenix, but I was back home in Alexandria for a visit.

My father was ill, having had a stroke earlier that year. Being home was hard, and seeing him like that was surreal. I had an escape though—my friend, Cameron. Cameron was one of those guys that it took me too long to figure out just how wonderful he was.

We met in seventh grade French class. My mother met his mother the night before, and she made a point of telling me that Cameron and I should be friends.

When I saw him, I disagreed. While he was always handsome, he had a quirky fashion sense that I did not get. It was middle school, and I was trying so hard to fit in. He didn’t seem to mind standing out though, and he was always wearing this ridiculous trench coat. We became friends.

To this day, I’m not certain that I have ever known someone as truly sweet and generous as Cameron was. I say was because Cameron died. That’s where the cancer comes in. I’ll get back to that.

At the end of and after high school, I was in an extremely toxic and abusive relationship. During one of our breakups, I went out on a couple of dates with Cameron. Looking back, I wish I had been ready for him, but I wasn’t. My head was not in the right place to deal with accepting my attraction to the guy with the mohawk when I was still all messed-up over a guy who was nothing but a thug. Cameron was too different.

I moved away, and when I came back for a visit, we went on another date. He took me to the little Chinese place next to where the Blockbuster was. Over dinner, he told me he had cancer.

He learned this during his freshman year of college. He kept having stomach pains and went twice to the student clinic, only to be sent away with painkillers.

The next time, his mom told him to go to the emergency room. They found a tumor.

I remember being shocked over dinner but not scared. Nobody I knew had died of cancer. He would be fine.

We kept in touch while I was in Arizona, talking on the phone maybe once every couple of months. Just as I suspected, the cancer went away. He beat it. He even went back to school and worked up the nerve to ask some girl out. I was jealous.

He never got a chance to go on that date. The cancer came back, and he moved back home to Virginia.

The next time I saw him was December 2001. He looked different but not bad. We went to see Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. He had already seen it, but he took me anyway.

That was his way, always looking out for me. We swam together during high school. I remember my coach wanted me to join this other team. I was scared because I wouldn’t know anyone. Cameron decided to join too.

He looked at me, so serious. “We’ll carpool.”

And then, through that awful relationship, I remember him putting his hands on either side of my face, trying to convince me I deserved better, wanting to beat up my ex for hurting me.

That December in 2001, I was home one week, and I saw Cameron three times.

I was busy when I first got back to Arizona. I didn’t call him right away. When I did, it was just after New Year’s. He was in the hospital. I spoke to his younger brother. He told me Cameron overdid it when I was in town. I didn’t know.

Cameron called me when he got out of the hospital. It was the first time I actually considered that he might die. I remember saying that he couldn’t die, that I was putting my foot down, like I had any power. I made him promise me he wouldn’t die, and he did. He promised. When we hung up, I was certain he would beat it again. That was the last time I ever spoke to him.

When my caller ID flashed his name, I answered all happy and excited to talk to him. But it wasn’t him. It was his dad.

The second he said, “This is Cameron’s dad,” I knew.

We didn’t talk long, and I honestly don’t remember anything after he said, “Cameron is gone.”

At the time, I was a smoker. I went out on my front porch to cry and have a smoke. I lived in Phoenix. It never really got windy unless there was a monsoon, which between you and me, I never understood what the big deal was. It was just rain. It rained all the time in Virginia. Either way, it was windy, really windy, and there wasn’t a monsoon. It felt like Cameron was coming to say good-bye, using the wind to wipe the tears from my face.

After that night, I began to associate wind with feeling Cameron’s presence. I would lie in bed at night and turn the ceiling fan above my bed to the highest setting to imagine it was him. He was the wind.

Harry Potter helped me grieve. It gave me time to rest in my memories of Cameron. I bought each book as they came out and saw each movie.

When the second movie came out, I went by myself on opening weekend. It was packed, standing in line with little kids dressed up as wizards. I had people, strangers really, sitting on either side of me. They probably thought I was off when I sobbed through the opening credits. I just wished Cameron were there with me. That familiar opening melody broke my heart.

By the third movie’s release, I had a boyfriend. We were pretty serious, but he understood why I went to that movie alone. I told him about Cameron. When we became engaged, he started to come with me. He would hold my hand while I cried.

The last two movies were hard. The books were all out. The end was in sight. During Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1, I came close to inflicting bodily harm on the people sitting behind me who were laughing during that scene at the end with Harry and Dobby on the beach. Didn’t they know? Couldn’t they understand these movies, this experience, meant so much to me? The last movie was the hardest for me.

I am now married to a wonderful man, and we have beautiful children. I understand how blessed I am. I mourn the what-if with Cameron, and even if nothing had ever come of us, I feel sad every day because the world lost such a beautiful soul.

So, for me, Harry Potter will always make me think of Cameron and the cancer that took him away.

 

Heidi McLaughlin

Author Interview & Spotlight

What inspired you to start writing?

I needed an outlet to express how I was feeling about certain situations in my life.

What is one thing you wish you knew before you published your first book?

How hard it would be to maintain a readership.

What is your current favorite book? (since I know we all have more than one 🙂 )

This is hard because I love so many books, and for different reasons. I would have to say that my current favorite book is Wilder by Rebecca Yarros.

Do you have any book signings coming up? (if so, when & where?)

My next signing is April in Peabody, MA.

What is one of your secret (or not so secret) obsessions?

I love Red Vines, and where I live I’m unable to get them.

Book Spotlight!

Blow

Meet the complicated men behind the sexiest boy band in America! In Blow, the start of an emotionally charged series from bestselling author Heidi McLaughlin, an insatiable heartthrob gets blinded by the spotlight—and learns to fight for love.

– Synopsis – 

Bodhi McKnight has always had everything handed to him on a silver platter: fame, success, money, girls. The raven-haired, blue-eyed hottie is the son of Hollywood A-listers, and when he’s asked to join the boy band Virtuous Paradox, his star shoots even higher. But so do expectations, leading Bodhi down a destructive path of addiction—until a drop-dead gorgeous guardian angel shows him her sizzling brand of tough love.

When Bodhi ends up in rehab, he doesn’t expect to meet someone as cool and down-to-earth as Kimberly Gordon. Although he’s enjoyed the company of beautiful, charming women before, none of them have tried to get to know the “real” Bodhi. But Kimberly isn’t fazed by his stardom. She’d rather go horseback riding, teach Bodhi to play guitar, or ask him about his feelings. Soon Bodhi realizes he’s fallen head over heels for her. He just hopes that he’s strong enough to protect what they have from all the pressures and temptations of the outside world.