Cora Applebaum here. With the fifth Orchard Hill Romance due out on Wednesday of this week, I thought it was time to take a look at what makes this series so special. Please stop by every day this week for interviews, excerpts and a chance to win your own copy of "Enduring Hope." Just leave a comment on the blog this week and a way to contact you and you'll be entered in the drawing. The winner will be chosen on Friday.
Today I'm posting an interview I did recently with Wild Rose Press Romance authors Stacey Joy Netzel and Donna Marie Rogers. These talented ladies were kind enough to take time from their busy schedules and chat with me. Let me introduce them to you.
Stacey Joy Netzel fell in love with books at a young age, so for her it seemed only natural to graduate to writing them. A member of RWA and WisRWA, she credits not only her parents for encouraging her dreams of becoming a published author, but also the very talented friends she’s made in WisRWA since joining in 2004. She lives in Wisconsin with her husband and kids, a couple of horses, and three barn cats. When not writing and living life in general, she loves to read and watch movies—Happily Ever After’s a must. You can visit Stacey at: staceyjoynetzel.com.
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. Please visit her at: www.DonnaMarieRogers.com
I understand you two have written a book of short stories set in a small town in Wisconsin called Welcome to Redemption. What is Redemption like and is it like Orchard Hill at all?
Stacey: In my mind, Redemption is very similar to Crivitz, the town I grew up in in Northeast Wisconsin, only ‘newer’ and a little bigger. Crivitz has population about 1000, and Redemption is somewhere between 5000-8000. It has a sense of family and the familiar, where everyone knows everyone, and that includes, sometimes unfortunately, everyone knowing everyone else’s business, too.
Donna: To me, Redemption is the small town I dreamt about while growing up in the south suburbs of Chicago. I used to spend weekends up in Edgerton, Wisconsin with my best friend's family, and to me, it was heaven. Now I make my home in Northeast, Wisconsin so I live in heaven...okay, most of the time anyway. LOL Orchard Hill actually sounds a lot like Redemption, with lots of small town businesses, great people, and plenty of drama.
What is it about small towns that makes them great settings for romance?
Stacey: I think a small town is a great setting for a romance because of the sense of family and of coming home. Or being home. Creating crazy, quirky secondary characters is also a definite plus.
Donna: I've always preferred small town settings, they're just easier to imagine myself living in, falling in love in, raising a family in. There's something so comforting about a close-knit community. And yes, those quirky secondary characters really come to life in a small town setting. ;-)
Are there any matchmakers in Redemption?
Stacey: Well, Tara had to battle her brother’s over-protectiveness to spend time with Wes, and Dana had to convince her cousin Allie she wasn’t simply falling into old habits when she fell for her tortured hero, Charlie, so no, not in my two stories, anyway…Oh, geez, wait—how could I forget??? Sugar. Charlie’s Great Dane (one of those quirky secondary characters I mentioned) is the entire reason that Tara and Wes were even introduced in the first place! She’s the matchmaker, definitely.
Donna: I like to think that Rosalee, Caleb's mother who passed away before the start of the book, had a little something to do with his finally coming home and ending up on Lauren's doorstep. Rosalee adored Lauren and her kids (Max & Emma), and is no doubt quite pleased with how well things turned out. And it was Caleb and Lauren who played matchmaker to Carrie the hothead and Matt the dreamiest librarian in the Midwest. LOL
Is there any chance that we'll read more about Redemption?
Stacey: Yes, there’s a definite chance you’ll read more about Redemption. I have the first story of the sequel written with Allie and Rick, and Donna’s working on her first story, too. With other projects in the works for both of us, it’ll be a little time, but we fell in love with the town as much as readers have, so we don’t plan to abandon it. At some point, we'd love to do a historical anthology of how the town was founded.
Donna: Drew and Lindy's story just has to be told. They seem like an explosive couple, and I sure hope they live up to my hype.
What else have you written, together or separately?
We started out in the same RWA chapter in 2004, WisRWA, joining within one month of each other, and shortly after became critique partners. We write so differently, and like to read different things, the idea of us writing together never crossed our minds until our dear friend Delia Deleest (It Takes Moxie, Eye Of The Beholder, both available at The Wild Rose Press.) suggested the three of us write related stories for an anthology. We decided to give it a shot, and Welcome to Redemption was born. Only Delia decided to pursue other interests, so we were 'forced' to each come up with a second story to round out the anthology. Needless to say, we thanked Delia in our dedication.
Stacey: I’ve written a Christmas novella, titled Dragonfly Dreams, which was nominated LASR Best Short Romance E-book 2007, and a paranormal miniature rose, If Tombstones Could Talk. Both are published with The Wild Rose Press. I am also awaiting edits with my most recent contract with TWRP, Chasin’ Mason, a Yellow Rosebud I hope will be released this year yet. I just got the cover...what do you think?
Donna: Golden Opportunity (a Yellow Miniature Rose which takes place in Golden, Colorado) and There's Only Been You (a Champagne Rose which takes place in Green Bay, Wisconsin) both release this year from The Wild Rose Press, with There's Only Been You available in print April 2009. Meant To Be (a Champagne Rose and second in the series to There's Only Been You), is contracted and going to edits soon. I also write erotic romance as Liza James and have several short stories published with both The Wild Rose Press and Red Rose Publishing.
Who do you think will win the matchmaker's challenge, Pansy or Misty?
Stacey: Seeing as how I’ve only read the first two stories so far (but have the others waiting in my computer because I truely enjoyed the first two) this is a tricky question. Honestly, I think Misty worked a little harder for her first match than Pansy (so does Misty) and going off that, and the epilogue at the end of Entertaining Angel, I’m gonna put my money on Misty. Any chance I can get you to whisper who wins?
Donna: Okay, to keep it interesting, I have to go with Pansy, but to be fair I haven't had a chance to read the whole Orchard Hill series yet, so I reserve the right to change my mind. ;-).
Thank you Donna and Stacey, for taking the time to answer my questions. I'd love to visit Redemption sometime. That's all for today. Check back tomorrow for an exclusive sneak preview of "Enduring Hope."