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It’s Frustrated Reader time in my in-box. Definitely the most frequently asked question is this:
Q: Why, oh why, did you leave Daisy twisting in the wind at the end of Lakeshore Christmas? Curse you! May you burn in hell! (But after you finish Daisy’s story.)
A: WARNING. There are bound to be a few spoilers in my reply. If spoilers bother you, please don’t read! If you don’t mind the spoilers, hold down the mouse button and roll over the hidden parts of the reply to highlight and reveal the text (I’ve written it in white font).
Oh, Daisy. When will you learn? We’ve been following you since you were a troubled child of divorce in Summer at Willow Lake, a pregnant teen in The Winter Lodge, leaving home in Dockside, a college student in Snowfall at Willow Lake, a career girl in Fireside and a busy single mom in Lakeshore Christmas.
And all we’ve ever wanted was for you to find your happily-ever-after.
You keep being pulled back and forth between Logan, the handsome, well-born father of your child, and Julian, the dangerous but adoring adrenalin junkie in search of adventure.
And now this! Somebody’s about to pop the question and we don’t even get to know which one, or what your answer is!
Argh! I could kill you dead right now!
There is no way everyone is going to love everything that happens to a character in a book. I just hope I can be true and fair to the characters and storylines I’ve set up.
It’s true that there is a major, major unanswered question at the end of Lakeshore Christmas. Daisy finds herself in quite a pickle. A delicious pickle.
The good news is, somebody wants to marry her.
The bad news is, we don’t quite know which somebody.
Do I know who dropped the d-bomb on the train platform? Yes.
Is it who you think it is? Probably not.
Disclaimer: Even though I do know how this is going to go down, Daisy’s book is full of surprises. As the story unfolded from my imagination, the twists and turns surprised even me. Sometimes a story goes off in its own direction and I have no choice but to follow.
I had a title I really like: Daisy+Logan+Julian which doesn’t really give anything away. It’s a working title and my publisher tends to change them so didn’t hold my breath. Ultimately, the perfect title emerged from lengthy discussions with my editor and agent: Marrying Daisy Bellamy.
One thing I can promise: There is an enticing excerpt from Lakeshore #11 in the back of the new edition of Daisy. Please enjoy the exclusive preview of Starlight on Willow Lake.
…at any stage of life. One of my favorite people in the world is getting married today. This is the second time around for this adorable couple. Their kids are grown and flown, and a whole new chapter is opening for them. Inspiring! In a very real way. I think I need to write about a second-chance couple. And check out her outfit. Breathtaking, right down to the ruby slippers.
…of the weekend o’ love. I’m still floating. More later. Click each photo to enlarge.
The very generous and enterprising TJ Bennett is giving away totes and baskets full of RITA -nominated books and audios. You can enter by posting a comment on her blog here. My contribution is below. Also note the question at the bottom of this post. Need your input!
[Ed. note (from TJ): We continue our RITA® giveaway with our final tote bag. Be sure to leave your comments on the posts for a chance to win. One tote per winner will be awarded, but you can comment on any post throughout the contest period, which ends July 18, 2009. Remember this week, there are four totes up for grabs: #7, 8, 9, and 10.]
Susan Wiggs, Snowfall at Willow Lake
[NOTE: Book in tote is audio (MP3-CD) version]
2009 RITA® Finalist for Contemporary Single Title Romance
“Every writer I know started out as a reader. She was like me–voracious, insatiable, reading anything and everything she could get her hands on. Eventually she fell in love with genre fiction, and found a special affinity with romance novels. Like me, she probably cut her teeth on the big, juicy historicals of Kathleen Woodiwiss, Laurie McBain, Jennifer Wilde, Laura London. She stayed up late with A Woman of Substance, fantasized along with Princess Daisy and wept over The Thornbirds. She dreamed of Turtle Moon, Honey Moon and Carolina Moon. She developed a taste for Like Water for Chocolate and maybe even started her own knitting and reading club. All this reading made her a better writer, and an incredibly savvy reader. Along the way, she joined RWA® and volunteered to judge the RITA®.
That’s why being a finalist is such an incredible honor. The judges are the pickiest readers in the world, and this year, they picked Snowfall at Willow Lake. This was extra-special for me because of the content of the book. Sophie Bellamy, the main character, was one of the most reviled and misunderstood protagonists I’ve ever created–chilly, competitive, deeply self-absorbed, a woman who had the audacity to be unhappy in her marriage–and to finally do something about it. Her journey from the international courts of The Hague to the storybook shores of Willow Lake was more than a plot, it was a quest for redemption. Landing in the finals was an affirmation that her journey was a success.
The competition is incredibly tough; I know, I’m always reading and I read a ton of terrific novels last year. So I’m deeply grateful and honored to be a finalist this year. I’m also thrilled to be slogging it out with some of my favorite writers for the final prize, the Queen of All Knickknacks. Because as soon as the list of finalists came out, I read all the others and was wildly entertained for days! There’s a reason the RITA® is the gold standard of prizes in our genre. I’m proud to be in the game. To read more about Snowfall at Willow Lake, and to find out more than even my husband knows about me, please check out my web site at http://www.susanwiggs.com and blog at http://www.susanwiggs.wordpress.com.”
About Snowfall at Willow Lake:
Can a single moment change your entire life?
International lawyer Sophie Bellamy has dedicated her life to helping people in war-torn countries. But when she survives a hostage situation, she remembers what matters most—the children she loves back home. Haunted by regrets, she returns to the idyllic Catskills village of Avalon on the shores of Willow Lake, determined to repair the bonds with her family.
There Sophie discovers the surprising rewards of small-town life—including an unexpected passion for Noah Shepherd, the local veterinarian. Noah has a healing touch for anything with four legs, but he’s never had any luck with women—until Sophie.
Snowfall at Willow Lake speaks from the heart about all the loves that fill a woman’s life, and all the ways that love is tested and made to grow. It’s the story of what comes after a woman survives an unspeakable horror and finds her way home, to healing and redemption and a new chance at happiness.
I need your advice! Last year I “won” a pair of Camper Twins when I didn’t bag the RITA. Should I fail to bring home the Queen of All Knicknacks this year, what should my consolation prize be? (I have an idea or two…)
It’s really a very sweet post by Elizabeth, about why she can never read my books.
The call came from the lovely and talented Lorraine Heath, who is also up for the award for her historical romance.
Winners will be announced this summer at the RWA National Conference.
Wish us luck in the RITA smackdown!
Food for thought from Deborah: Did you enter writing contests when you first started out? Do you recommend entering contests to writers? Why or why not?
SW: Almost none. Very early on, I didn’t know such things existed. When I first heard of RWA, I wanted to enter the Golden Heart, but–no exaggeration here–I was too broke to afford the entry and copying fees. I recall entering two contests as an unpub. One offered feedback that was too obscure for me to make sense of (remember, I’m a self-taught writer) and the other offered encouraging words from a writer I later became good friends with–the wonderful Debbie Macomber.
I can’t give a blanket recommendation one way or another. A writer should decide whether or not a contest will help her toward her goal or not, and base her decision on that.
Contests can help in marketing, assuming it’s a prestigious award and the judges are skilled. I recently read a debut novel, According to Jane, by Marilyn Brant. Her editor sent it to me requesting an endorsement. And it’s wonderful. The author was a finalist in the Golden Heart, and I assume this helped her find a publisher.
A writer needs to decide for herself whether or not a contest is going to help her, motivate her, inspire her…or needlessly stress her out.
What do you think about entering contests? And if you know a book is an award-winner, are you more likely to give it a shot?
…further chitchat with Deborah Bouziden…
DB: Who introduced you to Kathleen Woodiwiss’ books or did you stumble across them in the library? What drew you to them and would you recommend them to beginning romance writers today? Why?
SW: When I was in college, I had a summer job at a department store fine jewelry counter. It was horrendously boring, so a coworker lent me Shanna and I was a goner. I devoured the thing. I also felt that inner tuning fork effect–the story resonated with me on a deep level. That was how I found my genre. I recommend that writers practice “conscious reading.” Pay attention to your visceral response to a story and figure out the elements that resonate with you. Then find the techniques that work for your own writing.
How about you? What got you hooked on reading and writing?
Wiggs, Susan (author).
For years, hard-living Bo Crutcher has worked diligently toward a New York Yankees pitching spot, but just when it seems likely, he learns that his son AJ needs a home after his mother is detained by the Texas INS as an undocumented alien. Kimberly van Dorn, a hotshot media-relations expert in Los Angeles, is also experiencing a dramatic life change. She has fled her abusive client-boyfriend for the safety of Avalon, New York, and her mother’s ancestral home. Having satisfactorily provided for the adult Bellamy generation in a string of popular novels, including Snowfall at Willow Lake (2008), Wiggs now directs the spotlight onto secondary characters readers have met in previous installments of her small-town contemporary-romance series, the Lakeshore Chronicles, poignantly revealing the catastrophic results of unjust immigration laws, especially on the American-born children of deported parents.
— Lynne Welch