Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Interview with Elaine Hussey author of The Sweetest Hallelujah

Today The Reading Frenzy welcomes Elaine Hussey to the blog, she's chatting about her new novel The Sweetest Hallelujah and why she chose to write under a new pen name ––"When I wrote The Sweetest Hallelujah, I felt as if I’d finally arrived at that magical place where I could stop, breathe, and say, “Ah, this is it.” I have already written the second book as Elaine Hussey, and I still feel the same way."

  • ISBN-13: 9780778315193
  • Publisher: Harlequin
  • Publication date: 7/30/2013
  • Edition description: Original
  • Pages: 337


An unforgettable story of two courageous women brought together by one extraordinary little girl
Betty Jewel Hughes was once the hottest black jazz singer in Memphis. But when she finds herself pregnant and alone, she gives up her dream of being a star to raise her beautiful daughter, Billie, in Shakerag, Mississippi. Now, ten years later, in 1955, Betty Jewel is dying of cancer and looking for someone to care for Billie when she's gone.

Hi Elaine Welcome to The Reading Frenzy
Thanks for having me, Debbie! I love that title, Reading Frenzy. It reminds me of the way I feel when I’m racing toward the finish line and feel as if words are leaking through my skin.

Tell us a little bit about your new novel The Sweetest Hallelujah.
I am so in love with these characters that I’m having a hard time letting them go and moving on to the next story. The Sweetest Hallelujah revisits a favorite theme of mine, the strength and courage of women. By casting Betty Jewel, a mother dying in Shakerag, and Cassie, a childless widow in Highland Circle, into the burning cauldron of 1955, I made their friendship and their efforts to save Billie not only dangerous but almost impossible.
For me, character is the backbone of story. When I added Miss Queen to the mix – a woman with faith in one hand and a cast iron skillet in the other – I added the heart of the novel, a great but practical spirituality. “When the soul is hurtin’, I feeds it.”
But ten-year-old Billie is the character who brought the novel alive for me. When I was in her point of view, my hands fairly flew across the keyboard. She’s smart and sassy, but vulnerable, too, a little girl who dreams of finding her daddy who will look exactly like her favorite movie star cowboy. “And suddenly he was there, her daddy. He was shorter than she’d imagined, and darker. And he didn’t look a thing like Roy Rogers.”

The novel is set in the upheaval of 1950’s in the Deep South.
What kind of novel research did you do?
I live in Tupelo, Mississippi, and am familiar with all the landmarks mentioned in the book, particularly the district known historically as Shakerag. Presenting the setting accurately was no problem. Tiny Jim’s Blues and Barbecue joint is fictional but A.M. Strange Library and Glenwood Cemetery are not.
I consulted two very fine attorney friends regarding Mississippi’s adoption laws in 1955.  My research assistant was invaluable, supplying basic facts such as the music, automobiles, movies, etc. of that year. Additionally, I steeped myself in the era and gleaned historical information by reading Black Like M, John Howard Griffin; Simeon’s Story: An Eyewitness Account of the Kidnapping of Emmett Till, Simeon Wright with Herb Boyd; Free at Last: A History of the Civil Rights Movement and Those Who Died In The Struggle, Sara Bullard; Civil Rights, Yesterday and Today, Herb Boyd, Todd Burroughs; I Have A Dream: Writings & Speeches that Changed The World, edited by James M. Washington.  

You also wrote under the name many of us would recognize Peggy Webb then as Anna Michaels.
Why the need to change names?
In a very long career, my crazy muse has whispered stories in every genre from romance to mystery to suspense to women’s fiction - and finally to literary fiction. An author’s name sets up certain expectations, so I write under three names in order not to confuse the reader.  (Are you confused yet? Sometimes I can’t remember who I am!)
My early career (Peggy Webb) was devoted to romantic comedy with a bit of romantic suspense and women’s fiction scattered in.  That huge backlist is now available as ebooks.  The mid-career transition to comedic mysteries was an easy leap for fans, so I kept writing as Peggy. Then, along came a sprawling novel filled with mysticism, and Anna was born.  
Meanwhile, my devilish muse was whispering an entirely different kind of story, one where the characters were caught in the web of time, trapped by events swirling around them.  The Sweetest Hallelujah was more than ten years in the making. By the time I was ready to share Billie and Miss Queen, Betty Jewel and Cassie with readers, I knew I had to use a strong name that readers could associate with novels grounded in history but current in theme.  Elaine is my middle name and Hussey is my maiden name. I’m so thrilled to use it with this novel. Somewhere, I think my parents are smiling.

On your bio you say that by the time you were a teenager you knew you would be a writer.
What and who influenced that decision?
I think I was born with a storytelling gene.  I was lucky enough to have parents who believed that reading was the best way to expand horizons and foster dreams. Luckily, our little farm in northeast Mississippi was a stop for the bookmobile. A wonderful librarian I remember only as Miss Frankie introduced to me the world of Mark Twain and Louisa May Alcott and Laura Ingalls Wilder. Miss Frankie always left behind a huge box of books I was supposed to share with the neighborhood kids.  I’d hole up in the hayloft and read all day. I learned to read fast because I didn’t want to let go of a single book before I’d finished it.  Fortunately, reading was the only excuse acceptable to Mama for getting out of shelling peas.
My fifth grade teacher, Cynthia Pickens, also deserves credit for my career. Every afternoon she’d pull out a tattered copy of Huckleberry Finn and read aloud to the class. Often she’d ask for volunteers to read, and my hand was always the first up. Standing in a classroom surrounded by the smell of lemon oil on the wooden floor and glue from the bindings of books, I discovered that I have a flair for the dramatic. I love the flow of words and the way they sound on the tongue. I adore being the voice of a character. I can’t remember a time I didn’t want to be a writer. I plan to write until somebody pries the pen from my cold, dead hand.

You also say that this is where you’ve been “heading all along…”
Do you think your journey is over or is this just another fork in your creative road?
When I wrote The Sweetest Hallelujah, I felt as if I’d finally arrived at that magical place where I could stop, breathe, and say, “Ah, this is it.” I have already written the second book as Elaine Hussey, and I still feel the same way.
But who knows? My muse is a quirky trickster who likes to surprise me out of my socks. The minute I say never, she’s liable to say we’ll see.  I hope not. Eating for three is fun, but writing for three is sometimes crazy-making. I wake up as Peggy, spend the day as Elaine and go to bed as Anna.  I might just have to kill off one of those gals. 

You’ve also mentioned that you’re a musician too and composed the blues lyrics in the novel.
Do you think being creative in one area makes it easy for your creative “juices” to flow in another?
For me, yes. But I have many friends who write amazing books and don’t have a musical bone in their bodies. I also have friends who play piano and guitar and just about any musical instrument you can name, but couldn’t write a book if you threatened to cut their hands off.  
Thanks to a Creator who poured creative gifts on me, I was born with words in my blood and music in my bones. I started playing piano when I was eight, began playing for Sunday services at the little country church where I grew up when I was thirteen, and spent many years as church musician after I married. I sing first soprano, too, and still sing in my church choir.  One of my favorite pastimes is sitting at the keyboard of my baby grand, which once belonged to a jazz musician. When I’m belting out the blues, I can feel his spirit hovering nearby.

What’s next for you?
I have just finished writing my second novel as Elaine Hussey, and I’m already thinking of my third. The second novel is set in 1969, the summer Neil Armstrong landed on the moon and Hurricane Camille blew away the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Against that backdrop of enormous hope and impending doom, Sis Blake and a cast of feisty, formidable women discover just how far they will go to save someone they love.
This book will come out next summer, same time, same great publisher (MIRA) as The Sweetest Hallelujah.  You can find details and updates on my website,  

I’ve been reading your blog; I love your sense of humor and your humility.
Do you blog as a stress reliever, as a way to make a statement or something totally different?
Thank you! All of the above, I think.  Blogs are a great way to connect with fans, to hear what they have to say, to answer their questions, to swap little personal tidbits, to ask what they love to read and what they want to read next.
Also, I use the blog for giveaways. A few lucky fans have already received bookstore gift certificates this year. Currently, I’m running a contest where fans can win their choice of a Kindle, a Nook or a $100 bookstore gift certificate. This contest runs through August 10.  Details are on the blog and the blues page at

Being a seasoned author you’ve seen the publishing industry change a lot.
Is today a good time to be an author?
I think it’s always a good time to be an author! You are right about the changes. They have been massive.  Because of digital publishing, seasoned writers can now put huge backlists in ebook format.
New writers have the option of publishing the traditional way, with great editors, the full backing of a publishing house, and the perks of seeing their books in bookstores, sitting down for signings and meeting readers. Or they can assemble their own team to ensure a good product and go solo with digital publishing. So many choices!

Will there be any signings or events for the release of The Sweetest Hallelujah?
Yes!  Happy dancing, now!  I will do launch parties in my hometown of Tupelo, complete with blues, barbecue and balloons and door prizes. Then I’ll head to Memphis and Nashville, Tennessee; Birmingham and Fairhope, Alabama, before swinging back through Mississippi (Oxford and Jackson).  I hope to be in Concord, New Hampshire this fall, and who knows where I’ll be in between. You can find the complete schedule on the appearance page of my website.

Elaine, thank you so much for taking the time to answer some questions. It’s been so nice to reconnect albeit unknowingly to an old friend.
It has been my pleasure.
Wow! We are old friends? I’m dying of curiosity. You have got to send me a note and tell all!  I hope we live close enough to have tea on my front porch.

Connect with Elaine –WebsiteFacebook - Twitter

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

GIVEAWAY/INTERVIEW: Lily Everett Sanctuary Island

I welcome Lily Everett to The Reading Frenzy who talks about her newest novel–
"Sanctuary Island is a romance, definitely. I like to explore women’s fiction elements like mother-daughter relationships, the bonds between sisters and friends, and other issues women face, but my first love is romance."

  • ISBN-13: 9781250018373
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Publication date: 7/30/2013
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Pages: 343

see below to enter

When Ella’s sister decides to reunite with their estranged mother, Ella goes along for the ride—it’s always been the two Preston girls against the world. But Sanctuary Island, a tiny refuge for wild horses tucked off the Atlantic coast, is more inviting than she ever imagined.

“I didn’t read this book, I inhaled it.  An incredible story of love, forgiveness, healing and joy. “ –Debbie Macomber, #1 New York Times bestselling author

“I loved it!  A rare find.” –Lori Wilde, New York Times bestselling author of The First Love Cookie Club
“With richly nuanced characters and able plotting…Everett’s sweet contemporary debut illustrates the power of forgiveness and the strength of relationships that may falter but never fail.” –Publishers Weekly

"Sanctuary Island is a novel to curl up with and enjoy by a crackling fire or on a sunny beach. It’s a beautifully told story of hope and forgiveness, celebrating the healing power of love. Lily Everett writes with warmth, wisdom and deep insight. –Susan Wiggs, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Willow Lake series

Hi Lily Welcome to my blog!

Tell us about your new novel Sanctuary Island.
Thanks so much for having me! I’m thrilled to be here to talk about Sanctuary Island, which is the story of Ella Preston, who accompanies her younger sister to a tiny island off the coast of Virginia to reconnect with their estranged mother—and in the process, Ella meets Grady Preston, a man with scars of his own. Both need healing and both have worked hard to overcome their pasts, but they learn that only together can they truly step into the sunshine and be happy. 

There are three novellas, a digital trilogy of the Billionaire Brothers, The Firefly Café, The Summer Cottage and Island Road to introduce your fans to Sanctuary Island.
Do they set up the story? Should fans read these as a prequel? 
I wrote the novellas to welcome readers to Sanctuary Island! Each one is a complete short romance that stands on its own, but they are linked to each other. And there are a couple of cameos from the full-length Sanctuary Island novels, but it’s not necessary to read the novellas as a prequel at all.

Is Sanctuary Island the beginning of a series?
There are three full-length books in the series planned so far, and I hope there will be more! I also hope to do a few more novellas, because they were so much fun to write.

#1 NYT bestselling author Debbie Macomber gave this novel a rave review.
How much is peer praise worth to you?
There are truly no words to describe how I felt when I saw her wonderful quote for the front cover of the book. It means so much to me that she took the time out of her crazy busy schedule to read a book by a writer she’d never met or heard of before. That alone is priceless! But the fact that she enjoyed the book enough to provide a quote blew me away. I feel incredibly lucky; I have beautiful quotes from several fabulous authors I’ve admired for years, including Bella Andre, Lori Wilde, and the incredible, incomparable Susan Wiggs!

Lily, in your bio it says that you grew up loving reading equestrian novels like Black Beauty and Misty of Chincoteague.
Did your love of reading lead you to write or did your journey originate from another direction?
I have always loved to read, and I think it was inevitable that one day I’d try to tell my own stories. Writing is a wonderful job with amazing challenges and a lot of interesting problems to solve day to day, but I have to admit…there are still days when all I really want to do is curl up with a great book and read!

So what genre shelf would you put Sanctuary Island on?
Sanctuary Island is a romance, definitely. I like to explore women’s fiction elements like mother-daughter relationships, the bonds between sisters and friends, and other issues women face, but my first love is romance. The intimacy between two characters as they learn to trust and be vulnerable to each other, the sexual tension while they’re falling in love, and the transcendent joy of the happily ever after! I can’t imagine writing a book that doesn’t have a happy ending, with that glorious I-love-you moment!

Fans can find you on Facebook and Twitter. Do you use these social media venues just to socialize or do you think they’re a good selling tool for you also?
That’s an interesting question—I don’t actually think social media sells a ton of books, in general. But it’s all connected, and the person that I chat with on Twitter or who laughs at a funny picture I post on Facebook might be more likely to give my book a try the next time she’s shopping for something satisfying and emotional to read. I hope so! But I can’t control that. All I can control is how much fun I have on Twitter and Facebook! I do it because I enjoy interacting with readers, bloggers, and other writers that way. If any sales happen as a result, that’s just a bonus.

Do you belong to a writers/critique group?
I have several groups of writing friends who provide incalculable support and encouragement through the roller coaster ride of writing a novel. Writing can be a very solitary job, so for me, it’s essential to have lots of relationships with people who understand what I’m going through because they’re going through it too. We all help each other!

We know what you loved reading as a girl. What do you enjoy reading now?
Romance. I take an occasional break for nonfiction (currently working my way through Inside of a Dog by Alexandra Horowitz) but mostly, it’s romance for me. I especially love historical romance, because it’s such an escape for me. I can’t wait for Sarah Maclean’s next installment in her Rules of Scoundrels series! In contemporary romance, I’m a huge fan of Julie James, and oh my gosh, Roxanne St. Claire’s Barefoot series! Can’t get enough.

Will there be any signing or events for this release?
I’m very excited to announce that I’ll be signing Advance Reading Copies of Sanctuary Island at the Romance Writers of America conference in Atlanta this July, before the actual release date of July 30th! This will be at the St. Martins signing, which will only be open to conference attendees, but it’s the first time Sanctuary Island will be available to readers. Can’t wait!

Lily, thank you for taking the time to answer my questions. Good luck with the new novel!
Thanks again for having me, and for asking such interesting questions!

Connect with Lily-Facebook-Twitter-Website

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, July 29, 2013

**Giveaway** - Interview: NYT & USA Today bestseller Bella Andre and her Sullivan series

 Welcome To The Reading Frenzy digital phenom to print author Bella Andre whose talking about her Sullivan series now available from Harlequin–"The Sullivans are a close-knit family of eight siblings and their mother who live in and around San Francisco. There are six brothers and two twin sisters in the family. Each of them gets their own love story



Praise for Bella Andre:
"Sensual, empowered stories enveloped in heady romance." ~ Publishers Weekly
"Don't miss a single one of Bella Andre's titles." ~ Affaire de Coeur magazine
"Bella Andre writes warm, sexy contemporary romance that always gives me a much needed pick me up. Reading one of her books is truly a pleasure." ~ New York Times bestselling author Maya Banks
"The Look of Love is an emotionally compelling, thoroughly sexy, lovely read. I can't wait for more Sullivan brothers!" ~ Carly Phillips, New York Times bestselling author
"The Look of Love is the perfect combination of sexy heat and tender heart. This character- driven romance has brains, brawn and the perfect bad boy to launch a whole family's worth of fun."
~ Barbara Freethy, #1 New York Times bestselling author
"I am absolutely smitten with Chase, Chloe and the Sullivan family. I can't wait to read the rest of their stories." ~ Guilty Pleasures Book Reviews on The Look of Love

It’s my pleasure to welcome NYT and USA Today bestselling author Bella Andre!
Bella welcome to The Reading Frenzy. It’s so nice to have you with us!

Tell us about your Sullivan series and put the books in order for us.

The Sullivans are a close-knit family of eight siblings and their mother who live in and around San Francisco. There are six brothers and two twin sisters in the family. Each of them gets their own love story and the romances are emotional, fun and sexy! Here is the order of the books:

THE LOOK OF LOVE (Chase Sullivan)
FROM THIS MOMENT ON (Marcus Sullivan)
I ONLY HAVE EYES FOR YOU (Sophie Sullivan)
IF YOU WERE MINE (Zach Sullivan)
LET ME BE THE ONE (Ryan Sullivan)
ALWAYS ON MY MIND (Lori Sullivan)

Where did the idea for the novels come from?

I've always been a fan of connected family series from other writers and it was my dream to create a fictional family of my own that readers would get really excited about. The way readers have embraced the Sullivans from the start has been absolutely amazing!

Will they all be available in print?


Is there a printing schedule?

THE LOOK OF LOVE (Chase Sullivan) – out now!
FROM THIS MOMENT ON (Marcus Sullivan) – out now!
CAN'T HELP FALLING IN LOVE (Gabe Sullivan) – July 31, 2013
I ONLY HAVE EYES FOR YOU (Sophie Sullivan) – September 24, 2013
KISSING UNDER THE MISTLETOE (Mary & Jack Sullivan) – September 24, 2013
IF YOU WERE MINE (Zach Sullivan) – November 2013
LET ME BE THE ONE (Ryan Sullivan) – January 2014
COME A LITTLE BIT CLOSER (Smith Sullivan) – February 2014
ALWAYS ON MY MIND (Lori Sullivan) – March 2014

You’ve been called a digital phenom gone brick and mortar.
Can you share with us your personal journey to becoming an author?

After writing and publishing two non-fiction books about the music industry (I was a professional musician for 10 years), one day two fictional characters started to have a conversation inside my head, so I wrote it down! The next day the conversation continued and a few months later, I had written the first draft of my first book. I went on to sell romances to three New York publishers and then in 2011 I decided to start self-publishing my Sullivan series as ebooks. Harlequin contacted me about putting the series out in print in 2012 after three of my Sullivan books debuted on the New York Times & USA Today bestseller lists in the same week. The rest is history!

As far as I’m concerned Harlequin rules the world. But from strictly an author and business standpoint why choose them for your print publisher?

I chose to work with Harlequin as my print publisher because they are the best in the world at selling contemporary romance. I knew from seeing the success that they've had with Robyn Carr, Susan Mallery and Susan Wiggs that they would be able to have the same worldwide success in the English language with my Sullivans.

If the possibility of ebooks weren’t possible do you still think you’d be a published author?

Absolutely. I was published before ebooks were brand new and the focus was still almost entirely in print. But I do think the advent of ebooks has opened up writing careers and reading adventures for many, many people!

There are a lot of self published authors struggling out there.
Give them one piece of advice.

Focus on the book. It's easy to lost in the weeds of promotion and marketing and all of the changes in the publishing industry. But the most important thing is and will always be your book, so do your best to block out the white noise and concentrate on writing and releasing the best stories you can.

What are you working on now?
I am working on books about my Seattle Sullivans. Fans didn't want to leave the Sullivans after the first 9 books were done and neither did I, so now I'm telling the cousin's stories. THE WAY YOU LOOK TONIGHT (Seattle Sullivan #1) has already been released as an ebook and is already a New York Times and USA Today bestseller!

Walk us through one day in the life of Bella Andre.

Get the kids up. Take them to school. Go for a walk through the vineyards with my husband. Come home and start writing. When my 20-25 pages are done for the day, start answering emails and taking care of my publishing business. Take a half hour to go for a swim in the afternoon. Somewhere between 10 pm and midnight, finally close down the computers and get some sleep!

Bella will there be any events/signings where fans could meet you in person?

I have an event page on my web site with future appearances:

Thank you so much Bella for spending a little time with us. Good luck with your current and all your future endeavors!!!

Thank you for having me! If people would like to find out more about me or my Sullivans, they can visit with me at:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, July 27, 2013

July 27th thought for the day and a little history

It's kind of rare that I don't have an interview scheduled so I thought I'd supplement your author fix with a thought for your day and mix in some historical facts as well.

I hope you enjoy and stop by on Monday when I feature Digital to Print Phenom Bella Andre plus there will be a Giveaway of the first book in her series

Thought for the day Saturday July 27th

“Of all the people on the planet,
you talk to yourself more than anyone.
Make sure you are saying the right things.”
~ Martin Rooney

Martin Rooney is an internationally recognized fitness expert, best-selling author, and sought-after presenter…source

Our facts courtesy of Wikipedia
It was definitely a busy news date in history

I hope you enjoy your weekend

Thursday, July 25, 2013

***GIVEAWAY*** Interview with NYT bestselling author Karen Harper who says about her Amish series–"An Amish setting is great for love stories and suspense. Love stories: they marry for life and, if an Amish person falls in love with a "worldly" person, it can mean banishment. Nothing like forbidden love! As for the suspense angle, they don't trust the police, don't like lawyers, don't have phones in their homes to call for help."


Against the peaceful night sky, a barn BURNS
 Sarah Kauffman sought permission from her church elders to paint murals on a few of the Amish community's barns. Each was designed like an old-fashioned quilt square, representing a piece of the Amish traditions Sarah loved. 

Reviews on Ms. Harper’s work:
"...Harper, a master of suspense, keeps readers guessing about crime and love until the very end, while detailed descriptions of the Amish community and the Ohio countryside add to the enjoyment of this thrilling tale, the first in the Home Valley Amish Trilogy." - Booklist on FALL FROM PRIDE (starred review)
"Harper's Home Valley trilogy continues with a strong installment that deals with one woman's struggle between wanting to make it in the outside world and staying with what she has always known. The author's likable, engaging characters and a strong plot lend additional strength to her ever-amazing descriptions of Amish life." - RT Book Reviews on RETURN TO GRACE
"Danger and romance find their way into Ohio Amish country in a lively and endearing first installment of the Amish Home Valley series by Harper (Dark Angel)...Readers will likely enjoy a trip into the heart of Ohio's famed religious community and may be tempted to find out what lies ahead for this unlikely crime-solving couple." - Publishers Weekly on FALL FROM PRIDE
"Haunting suspense, tender romance and an evocative look at the complexities of Amish life-DARK ANGEL is simply riveting!"-Tess Gerritsen, New York Times bestselling author
"A compelling story...intricate and fascinating details of Amish life."-Tami Hoag, New York Times bestselling author, on DARK ROAD HOME

Please welcome NYT bestselling author Karen Harper;

Karen welcome to The Reading Frenzy
Hi, Reading Frenzy Readers!

Karen is celebrating the mass market print of her first Home Valley Amish novel Fall From Pride first out in 2011.
Tell us a little about the novel.
The crime in this novel which the Amish heroine and worldly hero struggle to solve (while struggling not to fall in love with each other) is barn arsons--which can be deadly.  Sarah Kauffman paints quilt squares on barns, but she longs to paint her people, faces and all--which is forbidden.  But what is more forbidden is her falling in love with outsider Nate MacKenzie, the arson investigator sent to solve the crimes.  Their mutual battle is to be together and to stay alive while they investigate.

Tell us about the series.
Are there a set number of novels?
In the series do the Amish characters mix with the non-Amish?
The "Home Valley Amish" series was planned as a trilogy--which has now had a fourth book added to it.  The first three are Fall From Pride, Return to Grace and Finding Mercy --and in Nov. 2013, Upon A Winter's Night.   The original trilogy tells the story of three very different but very close Amish friends--and, of course, since the books are romantic suspense, their love stories and the dangers in which they find themselves.  Each woman has a unique romantic situation:  one falls in love with a forbidden outsider; one finds the love of her life the second time around; and one loves a worldly man who actually converts to the Amish life style for her--unusual, but it does happen.
By the way, I've also written an earlier Amish Maple Creek rom/sus Trilogy consisting of Dark Road Home, Dark Harvest, and Dark Angel, (the latter a Mary Higgins Clark Award Winner.) 

Karen you have an Amish Christmas tale Upon A Winter’s Night coming out in October of 2013.
Is this part of the Home Valley Series?
Can you tell us a bit about it?
A fourth book was not originally planned when I wrote the trilogy.  However, the popularity of the trilogy (it was first released in trade paperback, and all the books are coming out again in Mass Market size) suggested a fourth novel.  My publisher thought a holiday-theme book would be fun, and I'd always wanted to do one set among the Amish.  Again, Upon A Winter's Night is a romantic suspense.  It's fascinating to see how differently the Amish celebrate Christmas.  And I hope readers will love the amazing animal secondary "characters" in the novel--camels, for example!

Why do you choose to write about the Amish in your contemporary novels?
I live about two hours from the largest Amish community in the country.  No, not Lancaster County, PA but Holmes County, Ohio.  We have visited there for years, so I base my fictional story setting on the Amish people and places I know.  An Amish setting is great for love stories and suspense.  Love stories:  they marry for life and, if an Amish person falls in love with a "worldly" person, it can mean banishment.  Nothing like forbidden love!  As for the suspense angle, they don't trust the police, don't like lawyers, don't have phones in their homes to call for help. It's hard to escape a pursuer in a buggy, and it's dark out there at night with lanterns instead of electric power!  I've always loved to write books focusing on a small, unusual groups of people and how their culture can clash with the mainstream.  I even got to write a novella with an Amish setting for the anthology Dark Crossings with two other authors.

You write both contemporary and historical fiction.
If you could only write in one genre which would it be and why?
That's a really tough question, kind of like, "Which one of your children do you love more?"  I like writing both, and that's hard to juggle.  Very different speech patterns, beliefs--and yet, people are still people, with emotions that can ruin their lives, with loves they will fight and die for.  I must admit, though, that Queen Elizabeth I, is my favorite historical character.

Karen you did a fabulous interview with Ph. D student Niki Incotzvia here. (anyone interested in historical research and historical fiction should read this)
Where you talk about your love of historical fiction and especially the Tudors. In that interview you mentioned that you picked your characters “from a lot of historical research.”
So I guess this is a chicken and the egg question. Do your characters form from that research or do you know who will be featured and then research them?
I usually find a historical woman who is fascinating:  Elizabeth, Anne or Mary Boleyn, various Tudor queens.  I'm looking for a heroine with a good love story--happy ending--but who has a lot of trials and battles along the way.  I also like a main female character who, for those days, when most women had little power, rises above the restrictions of her times.  However, having said that I start with a particular real woman, I sometimes discover someone I didn't know about in my research and go from there.  For example I just stumbled on the Medieval Joan of Kent for in my novel The First Princess of Wales.  [Side bar here:  an angry reader once returned that book to a B & N in Naples, Florida because "Princess Diana wasn't in it at all!"]

Are you a disciplined writer, do you follow a strict schedule or not so much?
When I'm first "in the book," that is, creating it, I try to write at least 4 hours a day, usually in the morning.  Other days, I have to scramble to find writing time because of the demands of promotion or because 'real life' keeps intruding.  It does take self-discipline to stick to a writing schedule because the contracts I sign have due-dates.

Other authors have mentioned they’ve experienced weird/funny event stories.
Do you have one you can share?
When I was talking about my historical novel, The Irish Princess, one woman told me that she was my heroine reincarnated and could give me some inside info I'd missed!

Karen thank you for spending a little time with us today. I know I’ll be reading one of your novels soon, whether it’s contemporary or historical that’s the question.
Do you have any events in the near future where fans can meet you in person?

If readers live anywhere around Ohio, I sign books at the Buckeye Book Fair every year in November and at the Ohioana Author Day in May. (Both have websites you can Google.)  I try to attend either or both the Romance Writers of America Conference or ThrillerFest in New York City each year.  This year, it's ThrillerFest; next year RWA in San Antonio.  I do answer letters sent to me through my website  Thanks for this chance to chat with readers!

My review of Fall From Pride courtesy RT Magazine

The first novel in Harper’s Amish Home Valley trilogy, scores high marks for amiable characters and sweet romance. The plot drags a bit in the middle, but finishes with a huge, satisfying bang.

Someone is burning down barns belonging to the Amish community in Home Valley. The state sends in arson investigator Nate MacKensie to determine if these crimes are directed toward the church leaders, the Amish themselves or budding artist Sarah Kauffmann. Sarah and Nate work well together as she educates him in the ways of the Amish and he teaches her techniques for investigating suspicious fires. What they don’t count on, don’t need and at first don’t welcome is their explosive attraction to each other. Will they survive to find out if love really does conquer all? 

a Rafflecopter giveaway