Monday, September 15, 2014

News, A Double Review, And An Interview!

Today is the last day to enter my giveaway. If you've been waiting until the last minute, it's here! Go enter! (Link on the sidebar)

I got two new reviews this past weekend.  Fay Klingler said my characters seemed so real, she was "expecting to read about them in the daily newspaper."  You can read more about what she said, (and her interview with me!) here

Emily Clawson also reviewed Ring Around the Rosie and said it was "great suspense with delicious romance." I loved that line.  You can read more about what she thought here

Today's reviews are of LuAnn Staheli's new novel, Temporary Bridesmaid and Strike of the Sweepers (Book 4 in the Janitors series) by Tyler Whitesides.  (Loved!)  As a bonus, I was also privileged to interview Ms. Staheli.  So this post will be long, but oh, so worth it!

In Temporary Bridesmaid we meet Jenny Grant, who is in her mid-thirties and unmarried.  Her last friend is getting married and she's been chosen to be the maid of honor.  This throws her into a tailspin of contemplation on why she isn't married and the very real possibility that she might never be married.  Just when she decides she's happy being single and is giving up on men, she meets a stranger in a rainstorm, a gentleman who holds an umbrella over her head, and she can't stop thinking about him.

Our hero, James Cox, has given up a lucrative career in California and moved to Utah. He starts work at a tech firm, and runs across an intriguing young woman.  He can't stop thinking about her until she accuses him of stealing her wallet.  Things get interesting really fast after that with all the twists and turns this love story takes.  There's a ton of misunderstandings that had me turning pages to find out how it all would be resolved.

There is a secondary storyline of Stephie and her husband, Phil.  They are newlyweds, but marriage isn't what Stephie thought it would be at all.  Her husband is suddenly more preoccupied with gaming rather than being a husband and things spiral really fast.  I found myself drawn to this story and the emotions the author evokes with her descriptions of Stephie's predicament.  Staheli's subtle style really shines in this storyline.

As mentioned, I was able to interview Ms. Staheli and found out some really interesting tidbits about what makes her tick!

1.  What is your daily schedule like?

School librarian by day; mom and author by night. This is my third year as librarian at Payson Jr. High, where I taught English 7-9 for 30 years. At the end of the school day, I come home and check in with my youngest, who is a 9th grader this year but at a different school. If there is nothing pressing with him and no major errands to run, I can usually spend the next two hours writing or editing. My husband often works in Los Angeles, and we live in Utah, so this schedule works out pretty well.

2.  What type of writer are you? Do you plan ahead/plot or do you simply fly by the seat of your pants?

I’m probably more of a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants author, although I always have a fair idea of exactly where I’m going to end up; it’s just the getting there that can sometimes cause a problem. I write both fiction and non-fiction, and when I’m doing the latter, I will start chapters and dump ideas, research, and drafted passages into the right section of the book, then sort them all out later when I’m focused on finishing a draft. In my fiction I’ve been known to write in a linear fashion, from beginning to end, but I’ve also started in the middle and written my way out. Often, when writing a magazine article, I write the beginning and the end then fill in the missing parts in the middle.

3. How do you choose your characters' names?

I tend to like names that are simple, both easy to remember and to pronounce. If I have someone in mind that I plan to loosely basic a character on I will probably start their fictional name with the same letter to help me keep it all sorted out. The rest of the time, I’ll try out names, pulling ideas from the stack of videos lining the wall by my computer, running through the names of friends and neighbors, and search for combinations that seem to “fit.”

4. How do you handle life interruptions?

Although I grew up telling my mother I had a life ambition to be a “bum,” I somehow turned into a work-a-holic. I’m sort of always writing, and notepad and its little microphone on my cell phone have been the greatest discoveries ever. I can now write anywhere. When I was a columnist for two different newspapers and had small children running around my office and my house, I learned to write in short bursts. I guess I’ve carried that skill over to writing both fiction and non-fiction which are much longer. The past month, while I was in the hospital recovering from surgery, I outlined four new non-fiction books on my phone. Now that I’m home and still in recovery, I’ve published Temporary Bridesmaid, revised a novella for the Timeless Romance Silver Bells Anthology, and planned the next two books I hope to release. Life has a way of throwing some crazy things our way, but we can’t sit around and wait for the bad to happen. We have to tackle it head on and make the good things also happen that are the richest parts of our life.

5. Do you write to music? If so, with lyrics or only instrumentals?

No, I write best to silence. I’m always amazed by the extensive playlists authors assemble as they write their books, but the lyrics would totally distract me (I love to sing my favorite songs quite loudly. How could I possibly write to that?). Even instrumentals distract me.

6. What food or snack keeps the words flowing?

I keep a bottle of water on my desk. Does that count? I think there are some Lifesavers packs there as well, left over from our Christmas critique party. I’ve never noticed a positive correlation between food/snacks and my writing, and since I don’t need the calories, I’m happy to not keep them anywhere near my work space.

7. What one thing do you like most about writing? Least?

The one thing I like most about writing is being able to tell a story and having someone else tell me they liked it. I want my books to touch people. I hope they walk away from my non-fiction having learned something, and maybe feel inspired to go and learn something more. Many of my novels have events from my own life—or the lives of my family—woven into them. I hope those moments of truth resonate with other readers, that they see a little of themselves there as well, and recognize ways they too can deal in a positive manner with adversity. Or perhaps, simply enjoy the moments of love I’ve allowed my characters to share.

What I like least? When J. Scott Savage tells me “there’s just one big thing,” and I see Annette Lyon bleeding red ink all over my pages (I’m an English teacher, for Heaven’s sake! Why didn’t I catch all those grammatical errors on my own?) Then Sarah Eden, Heather Moore, and Michele Holmes demand “more romance here!” when I think I’m describing exactly it happened or how I felt at the time, proving once again, I may not be a true romantic at heart. But then, Robison Wells comes to the rescue and gives me a F –for fantasic! Somehow, the opposite meaning blows my teacher-trained mind. But in the end, they are right and it’s time to let the revisions begin and hope that next time, I do better.

8. Tell us about your new book

Temporary Bridesmaid started out to be my story. Mike and I met when he was a substitute teacher at Payson Jr. High—a temp. We were the same ages as Jenny and James when we married. But, like most great books, fiction starts with only a kernel of reality then the characters themselves take over. That’s what happened with Jenny Grant and James Cox. Here’s the blurb about their story:

Jenny Grant has given up on men, and therefore her dream of ever getting married. But when James Cox comes to work in her building as a temp, she has to convince herself to stay true to her new conviction. All around her, everything is falling apart in her life. She’s been asked to be the Maid of Honor for her best friend’s wedding—leaving Jenny the last single in her group—her mother’s forgetfulness has progressed to a level that might prove dangerous, and the raise and promotion Jenny longs for may not be within her reach. When a man who looks like James steals her wallet her distrust of men rests on his shoulders.

James Cox has no idea why he has given up his position as a California CEO to move to Salt Lake City, but he’s certain it isn’t to find a bride. When the call comes for a temp position at a computer programming company, he figures this must be why. But his co-workers are not always easy to get along with, especially the fiery-tempered woman named Jenny Grant. If he didn’t find her so beautiful and interesting, it might not matter. Except that it does.

9. What is your next project?

As I mentioned, I have a novella slated to be in the Timeless Romance Silver Bells Anthology due for release in October. I’m also finalizing a memoir titled Living in an Osmond World, which is about my days as a fan, friend, and employee of the Osmond family. After that, there is a companion book in the works for Temporary Bridesmaid, and a sequel floating around in my head, plus a million other ideas and projects in various stages of development.

10. What is your advice for other writers?

Don’t wait until you have the time. You have to make the time. You never know what tomorrow will bring, and if writing is truly a part of who you are, you don’t want to miss your chance. Whether you are writing for a public audience, or simply for yourself, get the words down. Let your family know where to find them.

Please list your other published works.

Men of Destiny: Abraham Lincoln and the Prophet Joseph Smith (Walnut Springs Press)

The Explorers: Tides Across the Sea

Small Town U.S.A. series: Just Like Elizabeth Taylor; A Note Worth Taking; Leona & Me, Helen Marie

When Hearts Conjoin: The True Story of Utah’s Conjoined Twins

You can click here to buy Temporary Bridesmaid

Lu Ann Brobst Staheli got her start as a celebrity paparazzi-stalker-chick, which led to her award-winning career as a ghostwriter for celebrity memoirs. A masochist at heart, she taught junior high school English for 33 years and then moved to the school library. She once spent two weeks summer vacation backpacking through Europe with 15 of her students. She has won three Best of State Medals--two for writing and one for teaching--but refuses to wear them all at the same time because she'd hate to be known as a show-off.

The second book I wanted to tell you about today is Strike of the Sweepers, Book 4 in the Janitors series by Tyler Whitesides.  If you have middle grade children you want to RUN out and get this series. It is so funny and has great characters with an original storyline that keeps my kids asking to read one more chapter when we've already read until far past bedtime!  I love it because it's something we can read as a family and I've even gotten attached to the characters. This book is really well done, and the entire series is well worth your time, especially if you have kids and enjoy an awesome story!

In this installment, Spencer and Daisy are fighting against even deadlier enemies as they try to summon the Founding Witches so they can put an end to Mr. Clean once and for all! But can they do it? And if they do, will the Founding Witches help or hurt? Seriously, go and buy this series. It is so good! Click here to buy.

Here's the back copy:

The stakes have never been higher, and you’ve never seen squeegees do this before! It is a wild and slightly unsanitary ride as Spencer, Daisy, and the rebels find themselves chased by Mr. Clean’s new and terrifying breed of toxite—the Sweepers. Time is short. With the fabled Manualis Custodem in hand, Spencer must figure out how to summon the founding witches if they ever hope to mop up and save education.

What critics are saying about Janitors:

“ Action-packed and surprising! Readers will become convinced of the value of telling the truth, while having a lot of fun along the way.” —Publishers Weekly

“An entertaining ruckus.” —Kirkus Reviews

“ Entertaining . . . with plenty of twists and turns.” —Brandon Mull, author of Fablehaven and Beyonders series

“An enormously entertaining book.” —Orson Scott Card

1 comment:

Debra Erfert said...

Lu Ann's book is another one that I'll read, but the middle grade one, not my kind of reading, I'm afraid. Great interview! I almost think I downloaded Temporary Bridesmaid already. I'll have to check.