After thirteen years in Human Resources, Glynis decided to make good on her promise to write a book. Rather than detailing the bizarre issues she had encountered over the course of her career, she elected to write about her real life French fairy tale: the story of how she met and married her husband, Sebastien, in six short months. She currently lives in Westchester, New York with her incredibly romantic husband, two angelic sons and two adorable kitties. 

Time to chat with Glynis!

What is your latest book?

I have just released French Toast, the second book in the French Twist Series. The books are based on my life and chronicle the very rapid development of my relationship with my husband, Sebastien. The first book in the series, French Twist, sets the stage with our adorable meet-cute, carries through our hilarious courtship and finishes with our first wedding. French Toast, picks up right where French Twist leaves off and shows the difficulty of the first year of marriage…and reveals our next two weddings. Intrigued, aren’t you?


What are the special challenges in writing a series?

I think that it is important to link the stories across a series, but also to ensure that each book can exist as a stand-alone story. I always love it when I can pick up any book in a series and not feel like I am lost. J.K. Rowling did an amazing job with this in the Harry Potter series. She gave just enough detail in each book to catch you up to where you needed to be in order for the story to make sense. In the first chapter of French Toast, I made sure to provide enough background material so that readers would be able to jump right in to the story and not feel like they had missed too much. There is always time to go back and read the first book later!

If you were to advertise your book on a bumper sticker, what would it say?

French Toast: Will their marriage crash & burn or will they raise a glass?

How important is the choosing of character names to you? Have you ever decided on a name and then changed it because it wasn’t right for the character?

I think that I have a particularly unique experience in this case. Because my books are based on my life, there are several people who have a vested interest in my characters’ names. Choosing the name for my alter ego was easy. I had always HATED my name (I was teased a lot as a child) and I used to fantasize that my name was Sydney. The choice in last name came from one of my favorite books, Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. I just love the Bennett sisters

As for the names of my characters, I chose what I felt were solid names for my friends and family members, but I left the option open for them to change the names if they wanted to. Does it surprise you to know that every single one of them changed their names? It would seem that many people have a name in mind that they would have selected for themselves given the opportunity.

Can you tell us about your road to publication?

In my wildest dreams, I never imagined that I would end up as a writer. After I had my second child, I decided to be a stay at home mom. Once my son was about a year old – and actually started to sleep – I found myself getting restless. A few months later I had a dream that I wrote a book. It seemed like a crazy idea at the time, so I pushed it aside, dismissing the idea as an early mid-life crisis. (Very early!) But the idea just wouldn’t go away and one day I found myself writing down my ideas. Before I knew it, I had outlined the entire book!

I was completely shocked that it took me only two months to write my first book. I spent another month editing and sent the book on to my sister who is not only a gifted editor, but also the biggest fan of Chick Lit that I have ever come across. She quickly assessed where changes needed to be made and a month later, I was ready for proofreaders. While the finishing touches were being put on the book, my sister designed my book cover. (Does anyone else feel like she got most of the talent in the family?)

All I had left to do was upload my books! Both French Twist and French Toast were self-published. It has been a very interesting ride thus far!

Please, tell us about your experiences with social media. What are your favorite and least-favorite parts of it?

I am constantly amazed by the power of social media. With my first book, I did very little marketing and did not engage in any form of social media. I was blissfully clueless. However, with my second book, French Toast, I resolved to pull off a marketing blitz. I set up a Facebook author page, got a Twitter account, joined Pinterest, Google Plus, you name it! It was rather overwhelming at first, since there are so many channels to visit, but I found if I set a weekly schedule of posts for myself, things were a lot easier. .

By the end of my first day on Twitter I had met so many interesting people. That led to joining a number of Facebook groups for Chick Lit authors, which has changed my life immeasurably. (It is where I met you, Lisette!) I am so grateful for the vast number of authors out there who are willing to share their experience with me. I am also grateful for the readers who have opened up their lives to me! I believe that social media in general has allowed the development of a number of very rich communities. Being involved with all of these communication channels is not for the main purpose of selling books, but for forming relationships with people who will enrich your life.

Do you write anything besides novels? Care to share?

Yes, I do! I have just started blogging in the past month. For years, my sister has told me that I should start a blog about my sons. They are certainly the most colorful characters in my life. One day I will devote a book to them, but for the time being, you will be able to hear my musings on what it is like to be the mom to two energetic (and sometimes maddening) boys. I guarantee that you will crack a few smiles!

Are you an early bird writer or night owl? And do you have any must haves like coffee, chocolates, wine, music or something else?

I used to be a night owl, but since I have had kids, I have become both an early bird and night owl writer. When you are a parent, you have to fit in your tasks whenever you can. My three-year-old will often get me up before 6:00 am, which means I need a gigantic vat of coffee. He is then content to sit and watch cartoons while I first get sucked into the social media vortex and then try to gather my thoughts for the day in terms of writing. I don’t usually fit in too much writing during the day, so after my little one and his older brother have gone to bed, I consult my Darth Vader notebook (where I have scribbled random thoughts during the day) and get to work on my latest chapter. This is when I grab a glass of wine and settle in with my laptop and two cats. They are my companions into the wee hours as I plug away on my storyline.

We all know the old saying; you can’t judge a book by its cover. This is true. However, how much importance do you place on your book cover design?

I am so incredibly lucky to have someone as talented as my sister, Megan Eisen, designing my covers. I have received so many compliments on my cover art and am grateful to her for setting me up with such a brilliant brand. I use her images in all of my social media and have even had bookmarks made to match the covers as giveaways. I know that when I am looking for a new book to read, the cover is the first thing to catch my eye – an attractive cover leads me to read the book description, which often leads me to buy the book. The book cover is responsible for the instant attraction of the reader and your brilliant writing is responsible for the relationship (hopefully long-term) that you build with that reader.

Do you ever suffer from writer’s block? If so, how do you get around it?

Often! I get very little time to write since I have two active boys to keep up with. So many times, I will have a short window in which to write and nothing comes to me! It can be very frustrating. When I draw a total blank, I start taking care of items on my household to-do list. Five minutes into whatever task I chose, an idea comes to me and I frantically run to my laptop and start tapping away. Never underestimate the inspirational power of mundane tasks.

What’s your favorite comfort food? Least favorite food?

Mashed potatoes are my absolute favorite. Rich, creamy and delicious! I do not like sushi. I detest fish, so the idea of eating it raw makes my stomach turn.

If you could have one skill that you don’t currently have, what would it be?

I have always wished that I could sing. Unfortunately, I am completely tone deaf. It doesn’t stop me from belting a tune at the top of my lungs in the car though! I just make sure that a) I’m alone in the car and b) the windows are shut tight. No one needs to hear that kind of cacophony.

What music soothes your soul?

Billy Joel will always put me in a good mood. My favorites are “Only the Good Die Young” and “It’s Still Rock and Roll to Me.” I could listen to his albums all day. In fact, he now has his own station on Sirius XM. Color me excited!

What simple pleasure makes you smile?

Making chocolate chip cookies with my boys. Not only do we end up with a tasty treat, but we have a wonderful time dancing around the kitchen (because you have to have music) while we prepare the cookies.










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Pat McDonald is the author of the crime novel Getting Even: Revenge Is Best Served Cold the first book in her Crime Trilogy. Her career as a researcher, project manager and programme manager began initially in the Health Service – in Medicine, Mental Illness and Learning Disabilities; after which she spent 17 years working for a police force where she gained experience across all areas of law enforcement and the justice systems.

Time to chat with Pat!

What is your latest book?

My book Getting Even: Revenge Is Best Served Cold is the first published crime novel in a trilogy. The second Rogue Seed is currently being proof read and the third one Boxed Off is at the stage of finalisation of bringing together all the plots and being edited. My writing limitation is the inability to end a story and I usually amass a number of alternative endings – sometimes choosing is a problem for me and I tend to write them all in, usually leaving a ‘cliff hanger’ which naturally takes the book over into the start of another book, hence I found myself writing this trilogy. Although deciding to finish and finding a suitable ending for the trilogy, I would not definitely say that is as far as this group of characters go. Maybe I will take it up again, but that is not my current plan.


What are the special challenges in writing a series?

Starting as I have new to crime fiction and beginning by writing a three book series, meant I was faced with difficulties that I did not foresee. It was quite a challenge remembering all my characters and those minor things that make continuity a really important issue. My style and process as a ‘free flow’ writer makes it important to re-read and edit continuously. By ‘free flow’ I am not sure whether that is a legitimate description for my vivid imagination. I do not plan a book and neither do I set out the plot beforehand – it emerges as each scene is revealed. Like a large quilted blanket each is stitched into place to form an orderly pattern. Somehow it seems to work.

How often do your characters surprise you by doing or saying something totally unexpected?

All my characters are a huge surprise to me because I have no idea where they come from! I find myself building them around snippets or impressions of a variety of people I meet or have met in life. It could quite easily be someone I met whilst travelling, at an airport or a bus station; I have a continued interest in ‘people watching’ and seem to attract an inordinate number of interesting people as if I were a magnate and some seemingly quite odd or strange make an impression and often become a trait of one of my characters. More oftentimes revealing itself in the dialogue between my characters that I love so much to write; or perhaps a mannerism, or piece of strange behaviour – one such character is Hugo Bott who enters at Rogue Seed and continues through to Boxed Off. He is a character I enjoyed creating and developing and it was difficult to decide whether he would emerge as ‘good’ or ‘bad’.

Do you have complete control over your characters or do they ever control you?

My characters are as real to me as those in everyday life. They are in fact unpredictable and often take me by surprise when a scene emerges and I write it to its natural conclusion. The hardest part is deciding whether they are ‘good’ or ‘bad’ because the basis of my crime stories is this underlying theme – some people are nice and some people are just plain bad. I have a tussle sometimes because you can get awfully fond of the wrong characters and even where you want to make them into better people, they just won’t change! As a writer I like to elicit a reaction from my reader and do have a tendency to want to shock – any kind of reaction is all we can hope for from our readers. I pride myself on including the full spectrum of emotions and nothing makes me happier than to have a reader tell me they cried at one of my scenes. I do and I write it!

What part of writing a novel do you enjoy the most and least?

This is an easy question and I think perhaps universally felt by all writers – I love just writing, letting the plot flow and take me with it, losing myself to my imagination and letting it pour out. The least is the processing for publication, the dreaded editing. This is made worse for me by a rebellious streak and a love of writing as an art form – I do not want to comply with convention and be told how long my books should be, how many chapters etc. I want it to be as close to how it flowed from me as it possibly can be. Or indeed to be told where I should put adverbs. Did anyone tell Picasso how to hold his brush, how much paint to apply or what each stroke should look like? My writing isn’t a Picasso, but to me it is my creation. I have a problem with the conventions of this process.

Some authors, like me, always write scenes in order. But I know some people write scenes out of order. How about you?

I definitely write scenes as they come out and often rearrange them according to the emerging story. Someone once said that there is a difference between being a writer and a storyteller; a writer plans what they are going to write whereas a storyteller sits in front of a blank screen or piece of paper and writes. Although I have been a writer all my life in my varied careers and academic writings, I am now a storyteller. It gave me a sense of freedom through writing that I have never known before. When I begin a book I have no idea how it will end and sometimes even what the next scene will be – it is gloriously addictive.

Is it important for you to know the ending or title of a book before you write it?

The ending of a book is my foible and I often have more than one which is why I probably write such long books and so many in a genre series. But when the end comes to me, I then work back and fit the plot into producing that ending. It is often like doing a jigsaw puzzle, but when I find a good ending (for it is a discovery not a plan) I know it is close to me fitting it altogether. My titles either come from the way the book flows as in the first one, or as the next two given to me by a chance conversation with a person I meet and I suddenly realise just how good a title it would make. The titles become the theme of the book and I explore the different facets of it, allowing my characters to describe through their exploits what that theme is. Rogue Seed came from a conversation about a strange plant that grew from a packet of chilli seeds! It allowed me to explore the botanical concept – something growing where it shouldn’t be found, or the police concept of ‘going rogue’ where an officer diverges into criminal association, or even the biological concept of a human seed growing in the womb. My characters link it together whilst criminal activity abounds. I often joke that I have more bodies than Midsomer Murders (which is a UK crime drama series).

How important is the choosing of character names to you? Have you ever decided on a name and then changed it because it wasn’t right for the character?

I find names fascinating and whilst in the beginning they came largely out of my imagination, as the number of characters and the different ethnic backgrounds emerged I found myself turning often to a Name’s Generator package which gives names randomly according to the gender and ethnicity. Where it fell short was when I needed a Jamaican name and found that in Jamaica there is a large emergence of different nationalities rather than that which was solely native to Jamaica. I resorted to pulling up the Jamaican national football and cricket team players and finding a first and last name I like that went together! I thought that was quite ingenious, for me. I like to explore the meaning of names, and some of my characters have meaningful names. The only time I have changed a name is when I think it might be misconstrued as someone in real life which none of my characters are.

Have you ever written characters that you truly despise?

Not being overly fond of murderers, rapists, child molesters and torturers I would have to say unequivocally yes. My main ‘baddie’ took some stomaching and he had this habit of calling the wife he abused ‘My love’ in a sarcastic and jeering way. When someone said this to me in real life I found it hard to take and asked them would they mind not using that! Quite funny, yet made me cringe. I have to say I do have a fair proportion of not very nice characters, but I do balance them out with some lovely ones too. Being true to real life, my despicable characters often get away with it!

Do you allow others to read your work in progress, or do you keep it a secret until you’ve finished your first draft? Can you elaborate?

I think most writers find it difficult to let their work be read – it took me a while to acclimatise to the concept that I was writing for others to read my work. I have now begun to overcome this and have Rogue Seed being proof read by a friend who has read the first novel. I have had the need to grow into this aspect of being a writer, but now wish I had let my first Crime novel be read. I read it eleven times and thoroughly hated it by the time it was released! There are a few typos even at the final revision, and one very hilarious mistake that only one person has spotted so far – maybe one day I’ll offer a prize to whoever spots it!

Were you “born to write” or did you discover your passion for writing later in life?

I think I realised as a child that I wanted to be a writer. I had an insatiable appetite for reading and as a member of my local library joined the children’s section and read my way through it. I was granted permission to the adult section before I was old enough (with Librarian vetting!) and proceeded to read classics, poetry, plays and just about anything. I started writing in early teens and when I read the short stories (not so short was my foible even then!) it still amazes me that I wrote them. I wrote poetry early on and published some of my poems in anthologies and I still write poetry, and now dabble with Haiku. Since joining social media and meeting a large number of very talented writers I also try my hand at Micro Fiction – but this is more as a therapy – to try and limit my tendency to lengthy prose!

I knew at 15 years of age I wanted to write fiction, spending years writing academic books, papers, reports, reviews and manuals of guidance. It was only when I finished full time work that I sat down and did what I had promised myself – became a writer of fiction.

Do you ever suffer from writer’s block? If so, how do you get around it?

I did suffer writer’s block early on in my first novel. I had spent every day writing a number of other genre before I began the crime novel and write fairly consistently straight onto a screen. I discovered quite by chance a way to dispel the problem when I went for a coffee in the coffee shop of my local garden centre. I sat reading a letter from a friend about her holiday and really loved being amongst people I didn’t know, a world of passing strangers. I took out a tiny note book I carried and wrote a whole chapter that came to me and I was off and writing once more. I became a frequent visitor and wrote most of my first crime novel and the second sat in the same seat; almost a minor celebrity I found people moved from the table to let me have it! It taught me to write anywhere and part of the book I wrote flying out to Dubai and a good chunk staying in Al Ain and Fujairah on the Indian Ocean – needless to say I wrote these places into my novel – research is research!

If you could add a room onto your current home, what would you put in it?

There is really only one room that I would love to have in my home and that is a library. I have spent my life collecting books for the time when I own such a room. I can visualise what it looks like with the walls floor to ceiling with book shelves, a large oak desk in front of French doors that open onto a wonderful garden and it would contain a large and very comfortable couch for me to sit and read and review other people’s books. What I actually have is a house where most of the walls in most of the rooms have book shelves, so much so that I think they are now lode bearing! People often ask me why I keep all the books and did I know that I could sell them on eBay. I politely hold on to my inner voice and just smile – for if they don’t know why, then then don’t understand.

What simple pleasure makes you smile?

There is a lot about life that is joyous. Someone once told me that I seemed to enjoy the simplest of things, but I probably didn’t understand what they meant then. I think the world is a beautiful place and most people let it pass them by unnoticed. There are such fascinating natural occurrences that I feel fortunate to have seen. For me happiness and contentment has always been about how I felt; partly the feeling of being free, partly of experiencing to the full some of the real things in life. Breathe the air, feel the sun on my face, watch a sunset, sunrise, a total eclipse, a wild storm, a huge flock of swarming birds, the Northern Lights; all of which I can appreciate and which make me feel good to be alive. Scotland drew me and gave me pleasures I could never imagine; sitting on a rock overlooking Loch Muick with deer roaming in the heather and the sun on my face was such a wonderful almost spiritual feeling – a place to soothe the soul.

If you could be invisible for a day, what would you do?

I think people who know me would expect me to give an amusing example of what I would like to do if I became invisible. The truth is that over time it is something I have often felt and have written about the need to withdraw and recoup from the world; on days like this you hope to go about your business unnoticed and ignored. I have a tendency to attract the attention of some of life’s strangest of people whilst out. They come up to me in the most unlikely of places and tell me their life’s story; and yes of course I listen because they have a need to do so and it might be important for them at that moment in time. But I am a people watcher and like to sit in terminals and observe the daily round of people going about their business, be it terminals for trains, buses, coaches, planes and such like. I think it is fuel for my imagination.

What music soothes your soul?

I have a wide taste in music, but love some classical music more than others. I have recently become reacquainted with the Viola which I once played in a couple of orchestras and lost touch with. I treated myself to one and began with the basics (still at that level), but found I love to listen to Vivaldi. I love Africa and Arabian music and find this very soothing and very moving.

What are three things you think we can all do to make the world a better place?

There are only three things that I believe would make the world a better place. The first is kindness, the second is kindness and the third is kindness. If everyone in the world indulged in one act of kindness each day the world would change because kindness grows and spreads when it is passed on. It’s like a ripple on the surface of a calm lake when you throw a pebble into it, the ripple moves outwards. Your act of kindness to someone you know or don’t know is likely to encourage them to be kind to someone else. It doesn’t have to be huge, just a smile, a card, a helping hand, a word of encouragement that might make their day. I try to live my life like that.





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KateJamesKate spent much of her childhood abroad before attending university in Canada. She built a successful business career, but her passion has always been literature. As a result, Kate turned her energy to her love of the written word. Kate’s goal is to entertain her readers with engaging stories, featuring strong, likeable characters. Kate has been honored with numerous awards for her writing. She and her husband, Ken, enjoy travelling and the outdoors, with their beloved Labrador Retrievers.

Lisette, thank you for this opportunity to be a guest at your writers’ chateau.

You are very welcome, Kate! Delighted to have you here.

Do you have any advice for first-time authors?

Don’t give up on your dream!

There are so many viable options to getting your work published these days, you just need to keep at it and believe in yourself. If I have one regret, it is that I didn’t follow through when I first had the dream of writing. I got caught up in my professional life, and my first attempt, a half-finished manuscript, is tucked away in a storage box somewhere in our basement, possibly breeding some form of mold worthy of a sci-fi thriller.

Also, having someone who believes in you can be enormously helpful, even if you are a self-motivated individual like me. My husband buying me a personal laptop for my writing was the start of Silver Linings. I was wrongly convinced that I did not need another laptop, as I had a perfectly good one already. Psychologically, it made a huge difference. Thankfully, my husband has never said, I told you so—at least not directly!

This leads me to another bit of advice. If you have a “day job”, creating a clear separation between it and your writing may help, as a separate laptop for my writing did for me. As another example, an author friend works from home and has a home office. When she writes, she purposefully does it in a different room in her home.

Finally, read as much as you can, for enjoyment—of course—but also for learning! It’s a rare book these days that draws me in so much that I don’t at some level of consciousness analyze the writing to seek to improve my own.


Can you tell us about your road to publication?

I either got very lucky, my business background came in handy or, more than likely, it was a combination of the two. There is the artistic, creative side to writing, but there is an entire business side to it as well. Publishing is a business and for an author to excel, I believe they have to be able to understand and effectively deliver on both the creative and business aspects. Querying agents and/or publishers requires a combination of creativity and business acumen.

I was fortunate to have my very first manuscript picked up by a publisher. Although the publisher is small, and thus doesn’t have a large budget for marketing and promotions, they were a dream to work with both for editing and cover art/design. It also meant that my first book was in print and in book stores in about eighteen months from when I first sat down at my new laptop to start writing Silver Linings. The experience also afforded me the opportunity to learn a great deal about publishing, which I believe was invaluable in securing my contract with Harlequin.

I consider myself extremely fortunate to be able to write for Harlequin, and have the privilege and pleasure to work with two of the most amazing people in the business: Victoria Curran and Paula Eykelhof.

Do you have any grammatical pet peeves to share?

This is an interesting question for me, and perhaps you’ll allow me to go on a bit of a tangent with it.

I had to “retrain” myself when I started writing fiction. Most of us have heard the axiom that in business we should write to the average grade eight intellect. I consider that a sad and demeaning statement. When I was in business, I always encouraged our communications teams—everyone in the organization, in fact—to strive to release high-quality, well-written, well-presented material. Annual reports, marketing materials, routine correspondence and e-mails all reflect on the brand of an organization. I was a stickler for proper sentence structure, grammar, spelling and so forth. When I first started writing fiction, I had to consciously retrain myself, for example, to not use “proper” sentence structure, especially where dialogue is concerned.  We don’t speak in proper sentences, and if my dialogue was constructed in that manner, I can guarantee it wouldn’t make for an enjoyable read!

Have you received reactions/feedback to your work that has surprised you? In what way?

Perhaps surprise is not the right word, but I continue to be amazed by and appreciative of the informal feedback and more formal reviews that Silver Linings has been getting. Reviews mean a great deal to authors, and I am grateful to everyone who takes the time to write one.

I was very pleasantly surprised and honored for Silver Linings to have received first place recognition in both readers’ choice contests it was entered in. The fact that people are reading my work and enjoying it is a thrill. The positive feedback is something I will never take for granted.

Do you dread writing a synopsis for your novel as much as most writers do? Do you think writing a synopsis is inherently evil? Why?

I am glad we’re not having this discussion in person at a writers’ workshop, as I expect some people may be inclined to throw things at me. I enjoy writing a synopsis. It may have something to do with my business background, but I enjoy switching gears and writing the synopsis. To me, writing a synopsis is also an organizational tool, as it is essentially my outline for the manuscript. Writing it, I challenge myself on the characters’ personalities and motivations, and the key plot elements, and then I expand and embellish as I write the manuscript. To be clear, with respect to this latter point, I am not referring to a two page synopsis, but rather a much longer version that my editor wants to see as a proposal for a book.

Some authors, like me, always write scenes in order. But I know some people write scenes out of order. How about you?

I generally write scenes in order from my synopsis. If I find that I am not progressing quickly through a particular scene, I may jump ahead. I do this for a couple of reasons. Inherently, I don’t like to waste time, and if I am belaboring the scene without making progress, that’s what I feel I am doing. Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, if the scene is not progressing well, there is a chance that it just doesn’t fit, and I have not yet admitted it to myself. If I jump ahead and finish the rest of the manuscript, I might find that it needed to be cut anyway. Once my first (rough) draft is complete, I go back and invariably add, remove, rework or reorder scenes before I venture to call it a completed first draft.

Are you an early bird writer or night owl? And do you have any must haves like coffee, chocolates, wine, music or something else?

All of the above! Okay, almost all. I was a full-time CEO when I wrote Silver Linings and my second manuscript. By necessity, that meant writing very early in the morning and late at night. I enjoy coffee, chocolates and wine. Add in tea (hot or iced) and more than likely one or more of those is within easy reach whenever I am writing. Music only enters the equation if my husband is home, as he loves to have it playing all the time.

We all know the old saying; you can’t judge a book by its cover. This is true. However, how much importance do you place on your book cover design?

To the contrary! I believe the cover can have a huge impact on the success of a book, especially for lesser known authors. I believe most of us have picked up a book by an unknown author because the cover appealed to us. Although I don’t think people pass up on a book by their favorite author because the cover isn’t appealing, I do believe that some excellent work by unknown authors doesn’t get the same uptake as it could, if the cover isn’t appealing or appropriate for the genre.

Have you ever written characters that you truly despise?

Despise? No. Disrespect, most definitely!

Where do you live now? If you had to move to another city/state/country, where might that be?

We live north of Toronto, and we split our time between our home and cottage. We are fortunate to have two large, scenic properties, but if we were to move, my husband would want to be somewhere without snow! Texas and Arizona come to mind. Kelowna in British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley is a beautiful spot, too. I would need to have a large property. I like to visit cities, but I love nature and the outdoors, thus I would need to live somewhere we could have significant acreage.

What’s the coolest surprise you’ve ever had?

My husband is really great at surprising me. The converse is much harder to do, as I have to get really creative with how and what I wrap for him, as he has an uncanny ability of knowing exactly what it is.  A particularly nice surprise, and one that is related to my writing, had to do with my contract with Harlequin. I was on a ten-day “world tour” and in Dubai when I received the e-mail from my editor with the good news. I, of course, shared the news with my husband immediately (time difference be damned!), and he was very happy for me.

Five days later, I arrived home at about seven in the evening after a thirteen-hour flight from Hong Kong, and very little sleep during most of the trip because of the full schedule, overnight flights and numerous time zones changes. I walked in to candlelight, a bottle of champagne on ice, a wonderful dinner, and a beautifully wrapped gift with a huge bow on it. If you have read my responses to the questions above, you may have guessed correctly that the gift was a new laptop!