Sunday, June 8, 2008

Stacey Joy Netzel and Donna Marie Rogers on Small Town Romance

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:

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:

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. Living between two small towns now, I think many small towns in the Midwest are basically alike, and after reading Saving Grace and Entertaining Angel, I have no problem picturing Orchard Hill in my mind. In fact, with Angel flying into the Green Bay airport, it kinda sounds like it’s not far from Redemption. LOL Maybe I’ll have Tara take Wes for a Harley ride through Orchard Hill this summer. And I bet Sugar and Cherub would get along great!

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. Unfortunately, I have another project to finish before diving into the sequel. And since I'd only be repeating what Stacey said, ditto on the rest.

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."

Cora Applebaum


Sarita Leone said...

What a wonderful interview! Thanks for sharing, ladies. A lovely way to begin the week! :)

Cindy K. Green said...

I love the idea of bringing the Redemption world together with Orchard Hill. :)

I love writing small town environments too. I've never really lived in one myself (even now I live in a town of over 50,000 in NC). I grew up in Southern California near Los Angeles. But I think we all desire that small town feel.

Great interview. Can't wait for the next OH story.

Stacey Joy Netzel said...

Thanks, Sarita and Cindy.

Since turning in the interview, I've also read Considering Lily and I was not disappointed. :) Neither did I change my mind on who's going to win the contest--I'm still betting on Misty.

Amber Leigh Williams said...

Love the interview! I can't wait to do an anthology with someone...just have to find someone who can stand my overeagerness long enough to finish it. LOL Love the interviews, gals, and can't wait for the sequel to WTR!


Amber Leigh Williams
Steamy Romantic Adventure & Suspense
Simply Romance "Outstanding Read"

Carol Ericson said...

Hi Donna and Stacey, wow, you ladies are getting so prolific, I know I have a lot of reading to catch up on this summer!

Donna Marie Rogers said...

Thank you, everyone! And thanks, Kara, for having us. :-) I've only had a chance to read Considering Lily so far, but I definitely plan to read the whole Orchard Hill series once I have some time to myself. Amber, as soon as I finish writing Love Heals All, it's back to work on the sequel to WTR. :-)

Mom said...

Loved the interview -- love the small town feel. Hadn't encountered Orchard Hill before, but it goes on my to-be-read list. Stacey and Donna are certainly a natural set -- their writing, however different they see it as being, matches smoothly enough to make a book that is satisfying as a whole.

Looking forward to the next one --


Wendi said...

Hi, Stacey and Donna! You both know I'm a huge fan and I'm looking forward to the next installment of Redemption stories. :)

I read something about hammocks yesterday, and I thought about you two. ;D


Delia said...

Wonderful interview. I'm so proud of Donna and Stacey not to mention relieved that they didn't hold it against me when I talked them into doing Redemption, then backing out on them. lol

Though I'm so far away, my heart is still in small town Wisconsin. Keep on writing ladies. I need an occasional Midwest fix to keep me going here in paradise.

Sandy said...

Great interview. I grew up in a small mid-western town and couldn't wait to leave. lol It was about a 1000 people, and like you say everyone knows everyone else's business. There are things I miss about that town though. I go back to visit frequently.

Stacey and Donna, Back to Redemption is on top of my TBR stack.


Stacey Joy Netzel said...

Thanks everyone, for showing your support. :) It is appreciated. Don't forget to check back on the blog through the week and leave more comments--you might win the next story in the Orchard Hill Series.

Wendi, so funny about the hammocks--we didn't even do that on purpose! Talking on the phone one day, Donna tells me she's done all this research on hammocks so Matt and Carrie can have their first kiss in one and I'm like, hey, Dana and Charlie's first kiss is in a hammock! Since our editor never pointed it out to change it, we decided to leave it. Good minds thinking alike and all that. :)

Have a great week everyone!

Donna Marie Rogers said...

Thank you, everyone, for the great comments! So glad those of you who've read it so far, enjoyed it. :-)

Did Stacey happen to mention she laughed at me when I told her I'd spent an hour or two researching hammocks? LOL But she also graciously agreed to be the one to change hers to a chaise if our editor had a problem with it...which, thankfully, she didn't. :-)

Chiron O'Keefe said...

What a lovely interview. Redemption sounds like such a wonderful town to live in!!

How fun that your writing talents meshed with this anthology and turned into such a fabulous venture for you both...