Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Welcome Donna Marie Rogers!

Today, let's welcome Donna Marie Rogers to Alien Places. She's stopping by at my blog on her whirlwind tour of cyberspace in celebration of the launch of her fourth book, Meant To Be. I'm just hoping that her title is an omen in my own writing life!

After the interview, you will find more information (including a blurb and excerpt) about Donna's book!

Romance author Donna Marie Rogers lives in a renovated old schoolhouse in beautiful Northeast Wisconsin with her husband and children. She's an avid gardener and home-canner, as well as an admitted reality TV junkie. Her passion to read is only exceeded by her passion to write, so when she's not doing the wife and mother thing, you can usually find her sitting at her computer creating exciting new characters, fresh new worlds, and always happily-ever-afters.

Hi, Donna! Welcome to Alien Places. Thank you for stopping by my corner of the universe. Please take a seat and make yourself comfortable. Congratulations on the release of your new book!

Thank you so much for having me, Masha, and for helping me celebrate the release of Meant To Be! *getting comfortable on the sofa*

The first thing that caught my attention about your book is the setting. I went to school at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, and my husband was born near there and also attended UW. Now we're down in Texas, but we still have relatives all over the Midwest. Why did you choose such a northern area for your story? Not just Wisconsin (I love that state), but Green Bay? Can't be the Packers, because according to my husband, they're not having a great year.

Definitely not the Packers, though I am a fan. My husband, however, is a huge Bears fan. *grin* We both grew up in the south suburbs of Chicago, but decided to move up to Northeast Wisconsin about 15 years ago. I think Green Bay is a beautiful city; I’ve really come to love it. And since I’ve always preferred a Midwestern setting, it just seemed natural to set my series here.

How much research did you need to do for the setting? The physical setting, the characters, the atmosphere?

I really didn’t have to do too much. I know the city well enough, especially the homey neighborhood I set the series in. I think watching reality shows ad nauseam helps a lot with writing interesting, and often quirky, characters. LOL

Where did the idea for Meant to Be come from? Did it start with characters? Setting? A premise?

I knew before I'd even finished my first draft of There's Only Been You that I'd be writing Garrett's story. Garrett is Sara Jamison’s oldest brother, and I fell hard and fast for the big moody cop who’s just too sexy for words. But it was the close relationship he has with his sister and the special bond he shares with his nephew, Ethan, that melted my heart and locked it for me. I couldn't imagine Garrett not having his own happily-ever-after. He so deserved one.

Tell us about writing the characters of Meant to Be. Did they barge into your life and interrupt your thoughts? How do you create characters? Do you build them little by little or do you know them in detail as soon as they appear to you?

Holy moly, Masha, no easy questions from you...LOL Of course, the entire Jamison clan from There’s Only Been You is in Meant To Be. They basically told me if they weren’t in the sequel, they were going on strike. *grin* And frankly, I love them all, so no problem there. Jessica McGovern developed slowly for me, but she was feisty from the get go. ;-) I’m sure all my characters have similarities with people I’ve met, seen on TV or in a movie, etc. I can’t say I have a particular way I create characters. I just start with an idea of who they are, and their personality develops as the story unfolds.

Who is your all-time favorite hero? What about from your own books?

For me there’s nothing sexier than a typical alpha hero, and nobody writes them better than NY Times Bestselling author Lori Foster. I love all of Lori’s heroes, but my favorite is Joe Winston from Say No To Joe? In fact, I dedicated Meant To Be to Lori & Joe. I’d like to think Garrett Jamison from Meant To Be is a little like Joe. Big, strong, sexy, loyal, super protective of those he loves. Though Garrett is also moody and a “drama king” according to his sister Sara. *grin*

So tell us about the best review you’ve ever received.

I’ve been blessed some really nice reviews, but the one that comes immediately to mind is the 4-1/2 star from Romantic Times for Welcome To Redemption. I wrote the four-story, small town anthology with my good friend Stacey Joy Netzel, and I think we’re both still a little in shock over this one. *grin* Seriously, the reader and reviewer response has been amazing. There’s definitely something special about the town of Redemption and it’s inhabitants.

Do you plot and plan, or do you fly by the seat of your pants? If you plot, what kind of method do you use? Do you have any tricks you'd like to share?

I started off as a pantster, which worked for my first two books. But I realized I like the security of having a plot fleshed out, a rough outline at least, before I dive into a new manuscript. Tip? If you don’t already have one, find a good critique partner—or two. ;-)

Do you have an office? What does your work area look like? Do you like to spread or to keep everything within reach? Do you need coffee to sustain you while you work? Or is it tea? Or Coke?

My desk is set up in my bedroom, so I guess my bedroom is my office. I have my TV mounted up on the wall because I need the background noise when I write (though there are certainly some drawbacks to that *grin*). I’m a nibbler, which is also a problem since I don’t have the greatest metabolism (LOL), and I tend to suck down sweet tea by the gallon.

If you could have the perfect office or work area, what would it be like? Would it be a single room? A sea-side bungalow? Or would you sit outside in perpetual springtime? Would you like to have a personal, um, assistant at your beck and call?

Since this is fantasy, I’m going all out. *grin* I would love to own a mansion with a gazebo-style office that attached to my home via a long hallway so I’d have plenty of privacy from my chatty hubby and ever fighting kids. This gazebo office would sit on a bluff overlooking a clear blue river with a picturesque, tree-lined shoreline on the other side. There’d be plenty of colorful wildflowers to perfume the air and trilling birds would be nice, too...LOL Maksim, my sexy shirtless butler, would make sure I’m well fed and dance for me whenever I need a distraction...LOL Man, that sounds like freakin’ heaven!

How about your favorite set-up for reading? Chair? Couch? Recliner?

Bubble bath, without question. *grin* As it says on my website, “A good romance novel is like a bubble bath—steamy, relaxing, and over way too soon.” I also like to read in bed at night if I’m not too tired (I tend to be a night owl).

How about your future books? How do you keep track of new ideas? Or do you?

I’m much better than I used to be. I have files for all of my stories, and loosely written synopses for most. I’m still not as organized as I should be, but I’m working on it!

What's next on your agenda? What's the next story you're working on?

I have two novellas to write for Return To Redemption, the sequel to Welcome To Redemption. I’m also working on a new Liza James story, Three Alarm Blaze. Plus I’m about 50K words into Jack Sutton’s story, who you meet in Meant To Be. I do plan to write Nick Jamison’s story, Head Over Heels, and hope to have that third book in the trilogy started before the end of the year.

Thank you very much for visiting with us. Good luck on your virtual tour! Now if our visitors have any additional questions, let's hear them in the comments...

Thanks again for having me, Masha, and thank you to everyone who stopped by! **I'm going to give away a download of my new release, Meant To Be, and all you have to do to be eligible is tell us about your favorite summer cocktail (recipes are always appreciated but not necessary *grin*). Thanks again, everyone, and a special thanks to Goddess Fish Promotions! Please visit me at www.DonnaMarieRogers.com

She's running from her past, he's unsure about his future. Maybe together they can figure out what was MEANT TO BE. Officer Garrett Jamison is at the lowest point in his life. He’s lost faith in his ability as a police officer after unwittingly setting his sister up with a dirty cop. Garrett ended up getting shot, and his sister's son kidnapped right out of his own bed. He takes a leave from the force, in need of some time to make a decision about his future. Too bad he can't get a decent night's sleep thanks to his sexy new neighbor and her howling cat.

Jessica McGovern moves halfway across the country to start a new life in Green Bay, Wisconsin after her ex-husband is convicted of involuntary manslaughter in the death of their young son. Her new neighbor is as infuriating as he is handsome, but when her ex is released from prison early and shows up in town, Jessica discovers she's never needed anyone more...

Read an Excerpt:

"Come here, Miss Crabbypants."

Jessica resisted, but it was no use. The big oaf outweighed her by a ton. "Look, I just want to finish my tea and relax. Today's my last day off for almost two weeks."

He leaned back and frowned down at her. "Why are you working so many hours?"

She rolled her eyes. "Um, I have bills to pay...?"

His gaze became pensive as he massaged the back of her neck. Slowly, she relaxed until she was leaning into his broad chest, eyes closed, inhaling his spicy masculine scent. He always smelled so good...Damn, the man was a magician; she'd already forgotten why she was mad at him...Wait, oh yeah. "So what's with all that hammering?"

"We're building a doghouse."

His busy fingers moved to her shoulders wringing a groan of ecstasy from her. Oh, God, was she drooling on his shirt? Then his words registered. Jessica leaned back and swiped her mouth with the back of her wrist. "A doghouse? But you don't have a dog...do you?"

"No, but Ethan's been begging for a puppy for a couple years now. I guess he finally wore Sara down. And Mike's still in the ‘buy-Ethan-anything-he-wants' phase." Garrett glanced down at his T-shirt and chuckled. He reached out and recaptured the back of her neck. "Liked that, did you? You do seem a little tense—"

"Oh, no you don't." She ducked out of his reach and took a few steps back. He started to follow but she held up both hands. "You stay right where you are."

He propped his hands on his hips. "So do I have a date tonight or what?"

"Or what."

He grinned. "Wear something sexy," he said with a wink before strolling out the back door. The jackass even had the nerve to whistle.

Jessica walked over and slammed the door with a muttered, "Nutjob." Then she headed into the bedroom to search through her closet.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

San Antonio is Not The Middle of Nowhere

... or (not so) little things that can put your kids in a very good mood.

So we were taking my husband to the airport at an ungodly hour this morning. Or maybe for some people is was a truly righteous hour -- 4 am -- but for me, that's just wrong. It's a time when you're either fast asleep and deep in the most inspiring dreams, or awake and writing in the throes of insomnia.

Or in a murderous mood plotting bloody demise because some neighbor's dog... No, I think that was in a story, and I'll stick to that.

Anyway, this morning, I was at the airport with my daughter keeping my husband company while he was checking in. We shuffled with the other half-awake zombies in the long line at United, wondering why some people got special treatment and what we could do to speed up the process next time. At least I did. Who knows what went on in my family's sleepy brains.

No one waited in the first-class line, of course. The three people who breezed through received personal attention, and accepted it with good humor and gracious smiles, not as their dues, but with a pleasant, friendly attitude. I'm not sure why I paid attention to them. Maybe it was because they looked just like people next door, not like any typical first-class traveling San Antonians (I don't know what typical first-class traveling San Antonians should look like, but apparently they weren't it).

I did notice their clothing. It was normal. It wasn't flashy, or fancy, or fashionable, it was just comfortable, cute, and normal. They looked like happy people doing something they enjoyed, satisfied with their existence -- living a life we should all aspire to.

As always, I worried about the long wait, the early hour, and having my husband travel by himself, and being left alone to take care of the household, so I didn't pay much more attention to the first-class travelers for a while. When I looked at them again, I got a full-face view of the man.

I turned to my daughter. She grinned and nodded. She'd recognized him too.

Naturally, realizing that something was going on, my husband switched to Russian and we had to explain without naming any names or titles that we just saw Cesar Milan, the host of the Dog Whisperer.

Just like that. In the regular San Antonio airport taking a regular United flight, except in first class (well duh, I would too if I could afford it).

No, we didn't get any autographs, no one made any fuss, we didn't squeal or anything, we just let him have his quiet boarding, but we had our little unexpected adventure.

In the words of my daughter, it put her in a great mood for the rest of the day. "Of course, if it had been one of my absolute favorite stars, I'd have been in a puddle right then and there, but it was Cesar Milan! That's just like the coolest!"

We spent the drive home speculating about his trip, and trying to list the big names who live in San Antonio.

You think San Antonio will feature on a future episode?