Please tell us a little bit about your current projects?
Thanks for letting me visit today. I’m so excited about my newest release. The Best Laid Wedding Plans is the first book in my new Magnolia Brides series set in small town Misty Bottoms, Georgia—and, yes, it’s full of all things Southern.
Georgia’s Low Country. Soft, summer nights, sweet tea sippin’ on back porches, fireflies twinklin’, and those Southern men with their slow drawls and even slower hands. Add in some romantic weddings beneath live oaks dripping with Spanish moss, and what could be better?
At its base, The Best Laid Wedding Plans is about trust and rebuilding. What do you do when everything around you is falling apart? If you’re Jenni Beth Beaumont, you quit your job in Savannah and head home. Her parents are struggling with the loss of their son, Magnolia House, her family’s antebellum home, is crumbling, and Misty Bottoms, Georgia, like so many small Southern towns, is dying. With dual degrees in business and event planning, she dreams of turning her family home into a wedding destination. Jenni Beth’s hoping to help her parents, save Magnolia House, and bring new jobs to the area in one fell swoop.
But before she can escape, Cole Bryson, her brother’s best friend, shows up at her final affair. Cole is the one who stood her up for her high school prom, the one to whom she’d given herself one crazy night in Savannah. She tells him she’s moving home, that she won’t be seeing him again. He winks and says they might run into each other sooner than she thinks. With those enigmatic words, he drifts away into the darkness.
Cole, an architectural salvager, plans to buy and deconstruct Magnolia House, while still others in town desperately want Jenni Beth to fail and will stop at almost nothing to ensure that happens.
As Cole and Jenni Beth butt heads, old turmoil bubbles to the surface. They find themselves mired in intrigue, painful memories, and tough realities as they work to set their pasts aside for a second shot at their own happily ever after.
I think a lot of us enjoy reading series, stories where we get to revisit old friends in familiar places. Misty Bottoms, Georgia, is a wonderful town with people who are caring, funny, and down-to-earth. In books two and three—Every Bride Has Her Day (May, 2016) and Picture Perfect Wedding (tentative title–September, 2016)—we’ll get to visit again with all those friends we make in The Best Laid Wedding Plans.
I’m hoping readers will put their drawl on, pour a glass of sweet tea, and come along for a good read.
When was the moment that you knew you had to be a writer?
Driving through Oklahoma on a cross-country road trip with my ten-year-old son and his friend in the backseat, my mind began creating a story (It might have been an escapist thing ; ). The story was about a Nazi war criminal who was living in the U.S. under an assumed identity. I finished the book beginning to end, but it didn’t take me long to realize that’s not what I should be writing. Contemporary romance is where my heart is.
Who gave you the one piece of writing advice that sticks with you to this day?
At an RWA conference, Nora Roberts said not to worry about getting things right the first time through. Just spit the story onto the page; you can always go back and clean it up. That’s great advice and often keeps me moving forward rather than obsessing over each word. The idea is to stop over-thinking the story and just write. Everything can be fixed in revision.
Describe the “perfect” hero. What about the “perfect” hero for you?
My very own perfect hero brings me coffee every single morning. A small thing maybe, but it speaks volumes. I think a perfect hero is actually one who isn’t perfect; he has flaws and vulnerabilities. He’s selfless; he’s complicated. He can be rich or poor, city or country, but he has to know who he is, has to have a strong sense of self. The heroes in my Magnolia Brides series— Cole, an architectural salvager, Sam, a physically and emotionally wounded NYC detective, and Beck, a builder and business owner—embody these characteristics. They’re strong and confident, and they’re not afraid of equally strong women.
What are some of your favorite pastimes? Do you have any hobbies or collections?
I’m a huge Starbucks junkie and really enjoy people-watching while I sip my java chip frappuccino. I love books and floating in the pool on a sunny day. Did I mention I have lots of flip flops? Lots and lots of flip flops! An obscene amount of flip flops! And I want more!
What has been your biggest adventure to date?
Adventure? Oh, boy. I arrived at the airport in Rome at the same time a hijacked plane landed and found myself nearly knocked down as police in flak jackets and helmets and carrying BIG guns poured through the door. We sat for hours until the hijackers threatened to blow up the airport; then we were transported to another airport. Raising a son was a wonderful adventure as was teaching middle school. Riding a camel in Morocco. Driving in downtown Dublin—at noon—on the wrong side of the road. How can I choose one? Life just seems to be one huge adventure.
If your fairy godmother waved her wand and whisked you away to the location of your choice, which place would you choose, and why?
Oh, it would have to be Ireland. My grandparents were from the Emerald Island, and it’s always pulled at me. I took a trip there one summer with two very good friends. We stayed in a beautifully renovated barn! Through one window we looked out over hilly, green pastureland and grazing sheep. Through the other, the waters of Bantry Bay glistened.
When it comes to food, are you the adventurous type who will try anything once, or do you prefer to stick to tried and true foods and recipes?
I would love to be the adventurous type. However, I’m afraid I’m probably the absolute worst at trying new foods. I don’t like lettuce on sandwiches or French fries with brown spots. I’ll order a chicken salad and have them hold the chicken. I’m really bad.
How do you describe yourself? How would your family and friends describe you?
Claustrophobic, driven, and, according to my husband, stubborn. I personally think being stubborn is a positive attribute, though, don’t you? It means I hold strong to the things I believe in, that I keep going, working for what I want. That’s definitely my story, and I’m sticking to it!
My family and friends? I’d hope they’d say I’m hard-working and loyal and that If I make a commitment, I’ll do whatever it takes to keep it. I think, though, they might add eccentric to that mix.
What is your favorite comfort food?
Macaroni and cheese, hands down. Made with smoked Gouda? The best!
What is your favorite season? What do you love about it?
I love autumn. The air is so crisp and clean, the colors so vivid. The kids have headed back to school, the days are growing shorter and the mornings cooler. I enjoy autumn wreaths hung on doors and the ghosts and goblins that come to visit. Autumn calls us to the Friday night football game. That light, summer fruit salad becomes a hearty beef stew. And the fall foliage? Mother Nature at her best.
What is the one modern convenience that you cannot do without?
My Keurig coffeemaker. Did I mention earlier how much I love coffee?
What is this romance writer’s idea of the “ideal romantic evening”?
It starts with a cruise ship. I love to sit on the deck at night with my husband, watching a movie, holding hands, and eating popcorn. Stars spill across the sky and a cool breeze blows. What could be better?
What project are you working on next?
Oh, I’m so glad you asked! I mentioned that the second book in this series, Every Bride Has Her Day, will be out May, 2016. New York City Detective Sam DeLuca has charged into more than his share of dark alleys, but none threaten his peace of mind more than small-town Misty Bottoms’ feisty florist, Cricket O’Malley. Sparks fly in this story of city meets country. The third book in the series, tentatively titled Picture Perfect Wedding, releases September, 2016. Single mom Tansy Calhoun Forbes is returning home to Misty Bottoms in Georgia’s Low Country to start a new life and a new business, baking wedding cakes for Magnolia House’s brides and grooms. The only fly in the ointment? Beck Elliot, her former fiancé and the only man she’s ever loved, the man she betrayed.
After that? I’m hoping to stay in Misty Bottoms with stories about the Wylder brothers who are moving to town to expand their vintage car and motorcycles restoration business.
Any place we can find you in person or on the net this month or next?
January 25-30—Royal Caribbean Cruise with the marvelous Seymour Agency group
February 13—Book signing at Miromar Outlets in Estero, FL, from 5:00 till 7:00
February—B&N, Ft. Myers, FL, in February—exact date and time to be announced
February 25-28—Presenting at Sleuthfest Conference, Deerfield Beach, FL
SOME DREAMS ARE WORTH WHATEVER IT TAKES
Georgia’s Low Country. Soft, summer nights, sweet tea sippin’ on back porches, fireflies twinklin’, and those Southern men with slow drawls and slower hands. Jenni Beth knows she can turn crumbling Magnolia House into a wedding destination, but when Cole, once the love of her life, returns, old hurts resurface.
Jenni Beth Beaumont left her broken heart behind when she took her dream job in Savannah. But after her brother’s death, Jenni Beth returns home to help mend her parents’ hearts as well as restore their beautiful but crumbling antebellum mansion. New dreams take shape as Jenni Beth sets to work replacing floors and fixing pipes to convert the family homestead into the perfect wedding destination. However, some folks in their small Southern town are determined to see her fail.
Cole Bryson was once the love of Jenni Beth’s life, but the charming architectural salvager has plans of his own for the Beaumont family home. As the two butt heads, old turmoil is brought to the surface. Cole and Jenni Beth will have to work through some painful memories and tough realities before they can set their pasts aside and have a second chance at their own happily ever after.
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The luxury of staying home when the weather turns nasty, of working in PJs and bare feet, and the fact that daydreaming is not only permissible but encouraged, are a few of the reasons middle school teacher Lynnette Austin gave up the classroom to write full-time. Lynnette grew up in Pennsylvania’s Alleghany Mountains, moved to Upstate New York, then to the Rockies in Wyoming. Presently she and her husband divide their time between Southwest Florida’s beaches and Georgia’s Blue Ridge Mountains. She’s been a finalist in RWA’s Golden Heart Contest, PASIC’s Book of Your Heart Contest, and Georgia Romance Writers’ Maggie Contest. Having grown up in a small town, that’s where her heart takes her—to those quirky small towns where everybody knows everybody…and all their business, for better or worse.
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