Meet Debut Novelist Adrienne Giordano

Adrienne Giordano writes romantic suspense, contemporary romance, and women’s fiction. After spending seventeen years working in and around the newspaper and advertising industry, she chose to work part-time as a marketing consultant to allow more writing time.

Although she’s a Jersey girl at heart, Adrienne now lives in the Chicago area with her workaholic husband, sports-obsessed son, and Buddy, the Wheaton Terrorist (Terrier). When she isn’t working, Adrienne likes to enjoy a baseball game with her guys, read, or find a beach to walk on.

She is a co-founder of Romance University blog, a member of Romance Writers of America®, Windy City RWA®, Kiss of Death, and RWA’s Women’s Fiction chapter. Adrienne’s books have been finalists in the 2008 and 2009 Linda Howard Award of Excellence contests, the 2009 Sheila, and the 2010 Write Stuff Contest. Her debut romantic suspense, Man Law, will be available in summer 2011 from Carina Press.

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•Adrienne is fond of brownies, “the gooey kind, not the cakey ones,” so I’ve got a platter of the gooiest cyber brownies I could find. I invite you to grab one (two, or three :-)) along with a glass of cold milk if you like to dunk your brownies, sit back, and enjoy yourself and your virtual treat as you learn more about Adrienne and her journey to publication.

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Adrienne Embarks on Her Journey

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•When did you first experience the desire to write a romance novel? Was it while strolling down a moonlit beach with your hubby by your side, after having watched a great romantic movie that set your heart aflutter, or when some characters began chattering away and wouldn’t stop?

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I was a junior in high school and sitting in English class when I decided I would someday write a book. The notion came to me as easily as thinking about what I should have for lunch. Then I started reading romances when I was in college. I didn’t realize I wanted to write a romance until I was in my late twenties/early thirties. I had all these story ideas rolling around in my head and they were all relationship based. Voila, time to write a romance.

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•You completed four novels before you sold. Which one of them was contracted, and what was it about that story that set it apart from the others?

My first book was my practice book and will never, ever, ever see the light of day. That baby is 135,000 words of point of view switches, bland sentences and a straying plot. It was a start though.

My third book, Man Law, is the one that sold (so far!) and I’m thrilled because, although I love them all, this is the book of my heart. The hero in this book is Vic Andrews and I knew he would be a tough sell because he’s one of those people you look at and say “Yikes, what an idiot.” The only rules Vic knows how to follow are his man laws (for a list of those laws you have to wait for the book. Sorry! :-)) and he makes no apologies for it.

The thing about my man Vic is he is fierce when it comes to protecting his loved ones. Mess with someone he cares about and you’re toast. I had one contest judge tell me he was an a**hole. Literally. At least I got a reaction out of her. Another judge in the same contest gave me close to a perfect score. People seem to love him or hate him and (so far) loving him is in the lead. I’m hoping it stays that way. 🙂

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Adrienne’s Milestones

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•Your stories earned you placements in four contests for unpublished writers. What role did these successes play in getting you where you are today? And, I gotta know. Did you laugh, cry, or sigh when you received the good news from the contest coordinators?

The contest finals definitely kept me motivated throughout the submission process. I’m lucky enough that my finished books have all made it to the final round of at least one contest, so as the rejections from agents and editors were rolling in, I had a book sitting with an editor somewhere as a result of a contest. It was a bright spot in an arduous process.

I can honestly say I have grown as a writer by entering contests. I did not get published as a result of a contest, but over the last four years I’ve received feedback (both good and bad) that taught me something. Whether it be craft related or simply to be as professional and constructive as possible when judging someone’s entry, I learned something.

How did I react when I got the news? Well, I guess I’m a bit of a freak because I didn’t laugh, cry or sigh. LOL. Contests, for me, were a way to get my work in front of an editor or agent. If I received good feedback, that was a bonus, but I was meticulous about the contests I entered. I would typically only enter five or six contests a year and they were always contests where the final round judge was either an agent or an editor I had on my target list. I looked at making the final round of contests as an opportunity, but I never let myself get too excited about it because I wasn’t published yet.

Now, if I had made it to the final round of the Golden Heart® or the Daphne, you can bet I would have been screaming.

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•On September 16, 2010 you received The Call. OK, these days it might have been The Email. Whichever it was, I know you must have been thrilled. Please tell us about the experience, what thoughts ran through your mind, and if you screamed so loudly the neighbors wondered if they should come to your rescue.

That was an odd day. First off, if my father were still alive, it would have been his 80th birthday. The second odd thing was that my husband (who travels for business and is rarely around during the day) was working from the house.

I came home after a quick errand and saw there was a phone message. Go figure. I left for twenty minutes and THE CALL came in. The message was from Angela James at Carina Press. She apologized for missing me, but said Carina was interested in Man Law and she would send a follow-up email. I put the phone down and stood there for a second. And, I’m not kidding here, but I wondered if that meant they wanted to buy the book. Did interested mean they liked it but weren’t sure? Would she call me for that?

Seriously, these were the thoughts going through my head. I was truly afraid to let myself get excited. I ran down to the office (where my husband was working) and said “I think I just sold a book.” Just like that. Cool as could be. Then I saw the email confirming it and I literally started shaking.

After the requisite high-fiving from the hubby, I called my mother (who was on an airplane) and left her a message, but I was bawling hard enough to know she wouldn’t understand a thing I said. I sent her Angela’s email so she could see for herself what my news was. On my father’s birthday, which is typically a very sad day for us, I was able to tell my mother the hard work that began at my father’s bedside years earlier had finally been recognized.

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Adrienne’s Sources of Inspiration

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•You write Romantic Suspense. Where do you come up with the ideas for stories that keep your readers’ hearts pounding as they race to find out how the characters escape the harrowing situations you put them in?

It’s usually a random tidbit that gets my mind going. The concept for Man Law came to me at a friend’s birthday party where one of the men giving a toast proclaimed something to be a man law. The next day I worked on a character sketch for a guy ruled by his own set of man laws. Then I set out to break every one of those man laws.

I always start with character sketches. Once the sketch is done, I think about the worst possible thing that could happen to a character, and I try to come up with a scenario where I could make that my black moment. Then I build from there. I guess you could say I plot a book backwards because I always start with an idea for a black moment.

I also read non-fiction books, magazines, newspapers, etc. when I’m plotting a book. Sometimes an article on a car fire or a robbery will give me a slew of ideas.

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•What inspires you when you’re putting words on the page? Music? Motivational sayings on your office walls? A hefty dose of caffeine?

I need silence when I’m writing. I’ve tried music, but I find myself paying attention to the music more than the writing. That being said, I do make song lists for each book and when I’m stuck, I go for a walk with my IPod and play the song list. That usually helps the creative process.

I also keep a poster I downloaded from Storyfix.com on my wall right smack in front of me. I’m a plotter and the poster keeps me focused on where the story needs to go.

Dark chocolate also helps!

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Adrienne’s Social Networking Success

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•You’re part of a successful blog visited by many. How did it come about, what can visitors expect to find, and what have you learned since launching the site?

Romance University is a group blog dedicated to helping writers advance their careers. When Kelsey Browning, Tracey Devlyn and I began chatting about starting a blog we knew we didn’t want to talk about ourselves. In my opinion, I’m just not that interesting. We decided on an educational theme and it took us six months of planning before we went live.

For me, the most exciting thing about Romance University is the array of topics and “visiting professors” we have. Every post is done by an industry professional. On occasion, we will do a post ourselves, but it’s always a topic we feel will educate our readers in some way. And it’s not always craft related. Recently, I was trying to figure out how to add a page to my website and I found that information on the blog.

I’ve learned a lot from the posts themselves, but the thing that amazes me is the generosity of our guest bloggers. We’ve had people like Brenda Novak, Donald Maas and Sue Grimshaw take the time to blog with us and it’s been a wonderful experience. We thought it would be difficult to convince busy industry professionals to write a post, but out of the hundreds of invitations we’ve sent, only a handful have said no.

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•You’re a firm believer in the value of social networking. What part has it played in your success, and how do you see using this communication medium in the future?

I love to network. Whether it be in person, online or through a website, introducing a friend to someone that can move their career forward gives me a rush. I think it’s important in any business to constantly connect with people and share ideas. My husband is a master networker and I’ve seen him pull off some really fun things just by hooking people up. I think social networking, Twitter, Facebook or any other site is a way for people with common interests to share a laugh, make friends or exchange ideas.

That being said, we need to be smart about the information we put out there. The internet can be a scary place, but if we use it correctly, I think it’s an awesome tool for connecting with people.

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Adrienne’s Writing Process

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•You’ve been writing 12 years. How has your process changed during that time?

I’ve been writing for twelve years total, but I didn’t start submitting until five years ago. My process has gone through drastic changes in that time. When I wrote the practice book (remember the 135,000 word monster?) I just sat at my desk each day and wrote whatever popped into my head. Plot? Did I need one of those? Really? Eh-hem. Maybe that’s why the book went in my drawer and has never come out again.

After that experience, my good friend Theresa Stevens introduced me to a Scene Chart Template and it changed the way I write. I’ve modified the chart since then and it gets rather large by the time I’m done, but it’s an invaluable tool for me, and I keep it updated as I move along in my story.

As I mentioned, I typically start with character sketches and then work on plotting. I find I need to have at least an outline of where the book is going and like to have the middle, the black moment and the ending figured out before I start writing. This works as road map that keeps me from straying too far when the beast within takes over. Ah, the practice book. See what I’m saying here? 🙂

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•What do you feel is the most thrilling aspect of the process?

I love, love, love the character sketching. The other day I saw an article on wrestling an alligator and I said, “Yep. My new guy is going to wrestle an alligator.” Then I sat down and dreamed up all the ways Billy would even know how to wrestle an alligator and by the time I was done, I had a good chunk of the male character’s backstory.

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•What’s the most challenging aspect?

Coming up with a plot that’s fresh enough to sell. This is tough stuff. It’s a writer’s job to take an idea and give it a twist that will surprise a reader. I wish I knew the secret code for coming up with those ideas because I’d share it with every writer I know. Nothing is more heartbreaking than receiving a rejection letter that says the characters are compelling, the writing is crisp, but the romantic suspense market is tight and the plot of the book is not original enough. As my man Vic would say, “Kill. Me. Now.”

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Adrienne’s Debut Novel

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•Please tell us about Man Law.

Man Law One: No emotional clutter.

Security expert Vic Andrews has no tolerance for emotional clutter. Working alone, and abiding by his man laws ensures his life remains free of the vulnerability he suffered as a child deserted by his drug addicted mother. Trouble begins when he develops an irresistible attraction to Gina Delgado and Vic is forced to break a man law by messing with his closest friend’s sister. Gina is also a young widow with three children and has lots of strings attached. Vic doesn’t do strings.

Man Law Two: Don’t get caught.

Vic’s cover is blown after he is hired by the government to assassinate a terrorist and the dead man’s brother seeks revenge.

Man Law Three: No personal attachments.

The dead man’s brother threatens Gina’s children and Vic vows to keep them safe. With Vic’s protectiveness in overdrive, Gina begins to lose her resolve in fighting her feelings for him, but she has her children to think about and they’ve already lost their father to tragedy. Through it all, the events that bring Gina and Vic together, and the ones that push them apart, leave them wondering if taking a chance on each other is the right thing to do.

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•Your first book is in your publisher’s hands. What are you working on now?

I’m working on a commercial women’s fiction book about an out-of-work investment banker turned dog walker who gets dogjacked.

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•How will you celebrate your release?

This is a tough one. I imagine I will sit and stare at the computer screen in disbelief that one of my books is for sale. Outside of that, probably a big ole’ piece of cake with my guys.

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Five Little Known Facts About Adrienne

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~ Her worst fear is drowning.

~ She once drove herself to the hospital with a head injury that turned out to be a concussion (not recommended!).

~ She took a motorcycle safety class and almost ran over her instructor.

~ She is addicted to the television show Modern Family.

~ She loves Uncle Goopy from the Sid Caesar show

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Adrienne’s Question for You

Are any of the characters in your book based on members of your family and do those family members know it?

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Adrienne’s Drawing

Adrienne has generously offered to give away two leather Romance University pocket jotters.

To enter the drawing, just leave a comment for Adrienne by midnight November 16th (Pacific time) and enter your email address when prompted during the comment process. (You don’t have to leave it in the body of your comment this way.)

On November 17th I will hold the drawing and post the two winners’ names here as well as in a comment and will contact them via email to get mailing addresses. (I don’t share your information with anyone, other than sending your mailing address to my guest, and I don’t add your name to any mailing lists.)

Congratulations to the two winners, Sarah Forgrave and Sandra Leesmith.

Note: Offer void where prohibited.
Odds of winning vary due to the number of entrants.

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Learn More About Adrienne

Visit her website ~ www.adriennegiordano.com

Visit her group blog ~ www.RomanceUniversity.org

Friend Her on Facebook ~ http://www.facebook.com/AdrienneGiordanoAuthor

Follow her on Twitter ~ http://twitter.com/AdriennGiordano

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About Keli Gwyn

I'm an award-winning author of inspirational historical romance smitten with the Victorian Era. I'm currently writing for Harlequin's Love Inspired Historical line of wholesome, faith-filled romances. My debut novel, A Bride Opens Shop in El Dorado, California, was released July 1, 2012. I'm represented by Rachelle Gardner of Book & Such Literary. I live in a Gold Rush-era town at the foot of the majestic Sierras. My favorite places to visit are my fictional worlds, other Gold Country towns and historical museums. When I'm not writing I enjoy taking walks, working out at Curves™ and reading.
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33 Responses to Meet Debut Novelist Adrienne Giordano

  1. Keli Gwyn says:

    Welcome, Adrienne! It’s a pleasure to have you as my guest and to learn more about you and your journey to publication.

    In answer to your question, my heroine’s nine-year-old daughter bears some similarities to my daughter as she was when she was that age. She’s a college student now and thinks it’s cool that she served as inspiration for one of my characters, a bright, adventure-loving girl many of those who’ve read the manuscript really like.

  2. Good morning, Keli and thank you for having me on Romance Writers on the Journey. What a wonderful gift for your daughter. She probably loves reading about herself when she was a child.

  3. Great interview as always, Keli!

    Adrienne, What a story about your call…Wow! As for your question, I wouldn’t say I have one character who’s influenced by a family member, but I put bits and pieces of myself and people I know into my characters.

    • Hi Sarah. Thanks for stopping by. I think we all throw a little bit of ourselves into our writing. The heroine in my WIP has a lot of me in her. Unfortunately, it’s mostly the bad stuff! LOL.

  4. Hi, Adrienne.

    I’ve known you for how long…and there were still delightful surprises in this post. I’m anxiously awaiting the release of Man Law, and hopefully many more of your stories in the future.

    I’ve never based a character on a family member. Bits and pieces, but never an entire personality. I hate to admit this, but there’s a lot of me in my characters. Only the good stuff, though!!

    lucie j.

    • Hello to one of my wonderful critique partners and a heck of a good writer! You’ve been with me since the critiquing on Man Law started and I’m so grateful for your constant support. Getting this book published really was a group effort.

      So, you’ve put all the good stuff in your character and I’ve put all the bad stuff in mine. Maybe we should combine them and see what we get? 🙂

  5. Robin Kuss says:

    Adrienne,

    Loved your “Debut” story! I’m impressed with your dedication and perserverence. I simply can’t wait to read Man Law!

    Robin

    • A Windy City sister! Thanks Robin. I’ve been lucky because I have a tremendous support group and they just wouldn’t let me give up.

      I also want to mention the gang at Carina has been fabulous. They are so buttoned up and just make a newbie like me feel welcome. My editor told me last week they are going to buy another book from me. So, I’m a pretty happy camper right now! Thank you Carina Press!

  6. Tricia Wood says:

    Hi Adrienne,

    The teasers for Man Law… Enticing!!! I can’t wait to read the completed work. I am so happy for you. Congrats, congrats, congrats!!!

    Fear of drowning? Mine… Falling! I’m scared to death of heights. In fact looking over a steep ledge makes me guesy.

    Are any of my character’s based on family members?
    Yes… I think all of my character’s are based on little pieces of the people in my life. However, the secondary character in my current WIP is a portrayal of my youngest nephew, Michael.

    A couple years ago, Michael lost all the fingers on his left hand in a hunting accident. After reading my manuscript he insisted the character depicting him had to loose all his fingers as well. So my young werewolf will be having a tragic accident.

    I look forward to reading your story and will make sure all my friends and family know about your release.

    • Hi Tricia. Thank you for stopping by. How terrible for your nephew. I like his spunk in telling you what the book needed. Good for him.

      Thanks for the spreading the word for me. I so appreciate it!

  7. Adrienne –

    I’m with Petrina – the things you learn about people you thought you knew well! Remind me never to get around you if you’re riding a motorcycle!

    I don’t know that I have a character modeled on a family member, but I do find my characters have backstory that pick up on pieces of my family. For example, my current hero’s need for financial security. Ahem…that sounds vaguely familiar :). I also love heroes that remind me of the rough and ready Texas boys I grew up with. That being said, I give my heroes some of the desirable qualities none of those real guys seemed to have (thus the reason I’m not married to any of them).

    My heroes can all “fix things.” My dad, brother and husband are the type of men who can fix almost anything, and I simply can’t be attracted to a man who doesn’t know what to do with a stopped-up drain or a dead car battery. As my dad would say, those men are “eat up with the dumba**.” LOL

    Big hugs on Man Law – I can’t wait to read Vic’s story again!
    Kels

    • Another one of my fabulous critique partners! You guys are the bomb.

      I can safely say I’ve never attempted to ride a motorcycle after that incident. And I somehow (:)) left out the part about the instructor being on crutches. Only I could accidentally plow over a guy on crutches. Yikes.

      You know I love your characters. They are all such fun and capable people. I still love the line “Seek and you shall find, Sugar.” Love it!

  8. Hi Adrienne,
    What fun reading your post! I love that the story seed came from that guy’s party toast. I can’t wait to read MAN LAW. Oooh, and your current project (out of work investment banker turned dog-walker) sounds fun!

    I haven’t written characters based on family members (at least not yet), but I have been inspired by relationships. A friend’s close relationship with her grandmother who gave her some pretty frank advice about sex and men inspired a similar relationship between my heroine and her grandmother.

  9. Hi Laurie. I just realized something. The Man Law concept came from a toast at a party for my friend Cindy who is a voracious reader. My WIP about the out-of-work-investment banker also came from a conversation with Cindy. Plus, her dogs are in the book. If you’re interested, these are “the girls.” http://adriennegiordano.com/bookshelf/josie-and-fannie/

    Your heroine and her grandmother sound like fun. I love putting grandparents in my books. Particularly snarky ones!

  10. Morning Adrienne…

    Great post! I put all sorts of people in my books, not just family. Working in the restaurant biz, I meet lots of different types of people, and can use parts of their personality and character. It’s like a character buffet! =)

    Looking forward to your book – Vic sounds like my kind of guy! =)

    carrie

  11. Rashda says:

    Hey Adrienne,

    Great interview! I love Vic and the crew so much, that even though I know the story, I’m waiting for the book to go on sale so I can add it to my collection 🙂

    As for relatives in books, I guess my hero Jack’s based on the hubby. And yes he knows it 😛

    • Hi Rashda. Thank you for popping by. You were part of the crew who critiqued this book so I owe you a huge thanks. I had such fun with Vic. I seriously want to be him when I grow up. 🙂

      Oh boy, if I ever admitted to my husband one of my heros was based on him, his ego would fly through the roof and I’d never hear the end of it. Then again, that’s probably why I love him so much!

  12. Nikki Duncan says:

    Hi, Adrienne! I’m so thrilled for you with your successes and sales to Carina. I can’t wait to buy your books. 🙂

    As for basing characters on people I know, I did it once. I’m not sure I’ll do it again – it makes it hard for me to have the freedom I need for my stories.

    • Thanks Nikki! I can see what you mean about basing your characters on people you know. I used a family member (that I adore) in my WIP, but I made the character so over the top the person would never know it was her!

      Thanks for dropping by.

  13. Hey Adrienne,

    Wonderful interview! I’m so darn proud of you and can’t wait to get my copy of MAN LAW (and the others!)!!

    I’m a gooey brownie person too. 🙂

    I haven’t consciously placed any family/friends in my books, but I might have “borrowed” a particular saying or phrase from them. 🙂

    In my motorcycle safety class, I was pulling up behind another student in line and slowed down so much that my bike just tipped over. For some reason, it never occurred to me to put my feet down. Talk about embarrassing!

    • Another of my fabulous critique partners. Tracey, I’m glad you didn’t get hurt, but I would have paid good money to see you tip over on that thing! I never tried to ride a motorcycle again after my mishap. The world should be grateful. 🙂

      Thanks for popping by!

  14. robincovington says:

    Hey Adrienne: Awesome article and the teaser from “Man Law” makes me want to read it now.

    So, excited for you! Enjoy every moment.

  15. Thanks Robin. I had a ball writing Man Law and I’m hoping readers enjoy Vic’s journey.

    Thanks for stopping by!

  16. Hi Adrienne, congrats on your debut novel. Sounds fun.

    Can you tell us a little about Carina Press? I heard their presentation at RWA Orlando. Sounds like a promising venue for new authors.

    Thanks for sharing your story. It always helps to hear how others persevere.

    Waving at Keli

    • Hi Sandra. Carina Press is owned by Harlequin. They are a digital first publisher, so there may be an opportunity down the road for my books to be published in traditional print.

      I listened to the RWA presentation as well and, from my experience so far, everything they’ve said has been accurate. They are extremely professional and have just been a pleasure to work with so far. When they’ve said I would have something by a certain date, I’ve received it and that’s not always the case in this business!

      What I love about Carina is they really seem to get behind the authors. I haven’t been through the author training yet, but from what I understand, they do a series on social networking that helps authors figure out how to navigate the internet!

      Hope that helps!

      Thanks for stopping by!

  17. Keli Gwyn says:

    Thanks to everyone who stopped by to visit with Adrienne and share in the excitement of her First Sale.

    We held the drawing for the two leather Romance University pocket jotters Adrienne so generously offered as a prize, and the winners are Sarah Forgrave and Sandra Leesmith.

    Congrats, Sarah and Sandra! I’ll be in touch.

  18. Thank you to everyone for stopping by to chat with me. I had a great time!

    Thank you also to Keli for inviting me.

  19. Cathy West says:

    I also loved that ‘Call’ story, wow! What a great thing to happen on that day. Your book sounds interesting!
    Thanks for sharing with us, and Keli, great interview as usual. 🙂

  20. Thanks, Cathy. It was a special day for several reasons!

  21. Mmm, love brownies, thanks! Once again I’ve enjoyed meeting a new author via your great interview, Keli, and I’ll be looking to get my hands on a copy of Man Law when it’s released next summer.

    I’ve never patterned a character after a family member, Adrienne, although a poorly camouflaged neighbour appears in one published short story. I’m hoping she never sees the story!

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