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Harlequin Super Romance Author Debra Salonen and a Giveaway!

Debra, thanks for agreeing to do this interview. It's great to have you here!
Thank you, Nas. It was so kind of you to invite me...or wait, did I beg you to let me join the fun? ;-) Either way, it’s a pleasure to be here.

On Writing and Reading…
So, when did you start to write and how long did it take you to be published?
Do my first scribbles on the underside of my mother’s coffee table count? It feels as though I’ve always written. From my attempt to write a screenplay for Flipper (I pictured myself playing the tragic heroine who fell for the gorgeous older brother) to a blatant James Bond rip-off, I wrote often and not very well. But I never gave up, and once I decided to get serious about submitting my work, I took classes, joined critique groups and read every How-to book on the market. My very first submission got me an agent, but no publishing contract. Ten years later, my second submission--without an agent--got me a book deal.
I bet all that juggling of jobs, relationships and commitments gives you plenty of fodder for your books. What sparks your creativity?
I wish I understood the creative process better. (What I really wish is I knew how to bottle it up and have some on hand for those less-than-creative times.) But one thing I do know is never underestimate the power of curiosity. Some of my favorite stories started with: What if...
What do you love most about being a writer?
The dress code. In my office, every day is casual Friday.
What do you like least about being a writer?
The hours. Some of my best ideas flood into my brain the minute my head hits the pillow. One book, FINDING THEIR SON, started when I closed my eyes and a voice said, “I’ll tell you something about me you don’t know. There’s an old Black woman who lives in my head.” Well, how could I resist that? I was out of bed and upstairs at my desk within seconds.
Where were you five years before?
I have no idea.
Where do you envision yourself five years from now?
Same answer. Alas, I’m a pant-ster, not a plotter.
Do you have a favorite locale or setting for your novels? What is it and why is it your favorite?
I love the Black Hills of South Dakota, and I was thrilled to set nine books there, but my current WIP is set in San Francisco. I was ready for some urban thrills.
Which of the books you have written is your favorite?
That’s like asking which of my children I love best. They are all equal but different. For sheer guts and bravado, I love BACK IN KANSAS. For taking a huge leap of faith, I love WONDERS NEVER CEASE. For a good cry, I love HER HUSBAND, HER BABIES. For pure fun, I love BABY BY CONTRACT.  Because I wrote it while my beloved sister was dying, I cherish UNTIL HE MET RACHEL.  And the list goes on... ;-)

On Romance...
Describe the ultimate romantic meal.
~My hubby and I can turn cheese and crackers into a romantic meal...with the right wine. ;-)

What is your all-time favorite romantic movie?
~The Princess Bride.

What is your all-time favorite romantic song or composition?
~Annie’s song by John Denver is one we played at our wedding and still regard as “our” song.

What is the most romantic gesture or gift you have received?
~On our way to the airport before flying to Cancun for our 25th anniversary, we stopped at a jewelry store and he bought me the diamond ring we couldn’t afford when we first got engaged. It had to be sized, but that was okay because it was waiting for us when we flew home a week later.

How do you keep the romance alive in your relationship?
~Getaways--we travel together and use the time to talk, really talk, about everything and anything.

What tip would you give your readers to make their lives more romantic?
~Make time for each other. Plan a Date-Night and have fun!

Where is the most romantic place you’ve ever traveled?
~Bermuda

All About her...
Have you always wanted to be a writer?
~Yes.
Besides writing, what other talent would you most like to have?
~Dance. You can always spot a dancer, and I always admire their fluid grace.

Who is someone you admire and why?
~My daughter. She’s a talented artist, a wonderful mother and a true friend to many, and despite having kissed her fair share of toads, she hasn’t given up looking for Prince Charming.

Do you have a good luck charm or superstition?
~no

What quality do you most admire in a man?
~kindness

What is the one thing you've always wanted to do, but never had the courage to try?
~hypnosis

If you weren’t a writer, what would you be?
~a teacher

What quote or personal saying do you live by? Who said it?
~I am open and receptive and good things come to me.
            It’s my personal meditation that I made up and say every day.

To finish up, do you have any advice/handy tips/craft skills you'd like to share with unpublished authors?
1.               Read what you want to write. It’s the best way to pick up the tone and flow of the genre.
2.               Write something every day--a blog, a journal, a scene, a chapter, an interview...
3.               Interview your characters. You could use some of the questions Nas posed to me. Find out what makes them tick and don’t settle for the easy answers (like “no”, “hypnosis”, “a teacher”).
4.               Hold fast to the knowledge that writing is a journey--some parts of it are arduous and exhausting, some are pure joy. If you love to write, then never give up, keep your head--and heart--in the game.

NOW TELL US ABOUT YOUR BOOK….

RETURN TO THE BLACK HILLS is the second-to-last title in my “Spotlight on Sentinel Pass” series. It’s working title was: The Wrong Twin.
Jessie Bouchard is a successful stunt woman who has sacrificed a great deal--even arriving too late to her dying mother’s bedside--for her craft and career. She’s chosen an “extreme” lifestyle of physical challenges and relentless travel as a way to avoid those sticky, unpleasant emotional tangles she witnessed in her mother’s life. The bumper sticker on her car reads: “White, picket fences make good kindling.”

Prodigal son Cade Garrity returns to his Black Hills roots knowing exactly what he wants--to build a safe, nurturing home for his daughter. A life that includes his estranged father, Buck, and his half-sister, Kat.  Would Cade be open to finding a mate? Absolutely. But his late wife chose her career over her family. He won’t go down that road again--even for someone like Jessie, who tempts him to make a short-term exception to his rules. His truck sports a bumper sticker that says: “Family First.” But after he meets Jessie, he thinks about changing it to: “Love Happens.”

They are two people who have no business falling love, but, of course, that’s exactly what they do.

         

Thanks for sharing your insights about writing and some fun facts about your life, Debra, it's been a hoot having you here.
The pleasure was all mine, Nas. Namaste.

The goodness doesn't end there though, folks. Debra has generously donated a copy of RETURN TO THE BLACK HILLS -- or any backlist title that she has copies of, along with a cover flat of her May 2010 release UNTIL HE MET RACHEL, which was named Best Superromance of 2010--to one lucky person.
All you have to do is “Like” her Facebook page Debra Salonen, Author and leave a comment or question for Debra and you'll go into the drawing for this book.

And she likes hearing from readers, so you can check out her website and there are some cool contests on her Blog.

56 comments:

  1. writing is certainly something we have to do because of the love of it because it's so much hard work otherwise. :)
    Great interview

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  2. Hi Lynda,

    So true, writing is something we love, yet so hard! Thanks for coming by.

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  3. Great interview Nas! Welcome Debra!

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  4. Debra, I think writing what one likes to read has a lot of merit. That way you're familiar with the genre before you even get to the starting gate. I like your take on romance and the fact that it's still part of your marriage after so many years!


    Good questions, Nas!

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  5. I'm sorry your sister died. But it's nice to know you think about her in relation to Baby by Contract.

    I like you tips for writers.

    Nas, great questions, as usual.

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  6. Hi Nas, thanks for bringing Debra into spotlight :)

    Debra...I loved the part of "I don't know" :) It kind of resonates with how I am - more like going with the flow...

    Great interview as usual !

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  7. Hi Donna, thanks for swinging by!

    Hello JL, I agree it is awesome if someone keeps the romance alive in their relationship after many years of being together.

    Hi Theresa, thanks for coming by and your lovely comment.

    Hello Ju, thanks for your lovely comment!

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  8. Nas,
    Thanks so much for getting this blog up and letting me know. Sorry I wasn't here sooner--I was on the road...coming home from my trip to RT. A fun trip, but oh...the traffic. I will be going to bed early tonight, I'm afraid.

    I love the feel of you blog, Nas. It's cheerful and inviting. I'll try to stop by often tomorrow. (My Monday. ;-) )

    Deb

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  9. Lynda, spoken as a true writer. I think of myself as a "writer junkie" at times--those wonderful moments when clarity and purpose and story all flow together. Oooh, don't you love it? I know I do!

    Deb

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  10. Great interview. Annie's song is a personal favorite too. It is also how my prince feels about my American heroine. It makes me cry when I listen to it.
    Nancy
    N. R. Williams, The Treasures of Carmelidrium.

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  11. Thanks for the welcome, Donna. Nas asked some thoughtful questions.

    J.L., you're spot on. In this business, you need every advantage you can get.

    Deb

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  12. You're very kind, Theresa. Thank you. I'm going to try to post my acceptance speech on my blog on Tuesday. I hope. Still grappling with certain techno challenges.

    Deb

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  13. Ju, life's an adventure, isn't it? And all the more to write about. :-)

    Deb

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  14. Hi, Nancy, thanks for dropping by. You're a fantasy writer? That sounds like a fun genre where your imagination knows no limits.

    Deb

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  15. Hi Debra,

    Welcome! I keep forgetting that you had to do some time travel to come on my Monday!

    Anyway, now that you're here, please tell me something, is there the other twin in RETURN TO THE BLACK HILLS, Remy's story in the pipeline?

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  16. You know, that's at least the fourth or fifth time I've read someone's advice to interview your characters. I think I'm going to do that, thanks.

    Fantastic interview, Nas! And it's nice meeting you, Debra. I love Annie's song and the Princess Bride, too :)

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  17. Hi Nas. I love your in-depth interviews. I really enjoyed this one. Black Hills of Dakota, hmm, I love that song, too. I'll be singing it all day. Also love Annie's Song.

    I'd love to win a book so count me in. Thanks Nas. Thanks Debra.

    Denise<3

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  18. Yes, Nas. Remy's story is out next month. MAY. It's title is: A FATHER'S QUEST. I don't have my author copies, yet, or I would have sent you one to review. Slow, slow, slow...

    Hello, The Words Crafter -- cute name. :-) The interviewing process can be rather fun. A couple of years ago, I was part of a 5-book Superromance Texas Hold'em series and all five authors blogged in their hero's point of views for the week. It was a hoot!!! And I learned so much. Unfortunately, the book was already out. But it taught me to get inside my hero's head if I want to learn his deepest secrets.

    Deb

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  19. Hi, Denise<3,

    Had a little twinge when I saw your name. Just lost a dear friend of mine by the same name. She fought a valient fight against cancer for five years and participated in some ground-breaking treatment trials that we all hope produces some glimmer of hope down the road.

    I'm adding everyone's name into the mix. I truly do appreciate having this chance to meet new readers. I don't get out much.

    Deb

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  20. Great interview! RETURN TO THE BLACK HILLS sounds fantastic =)

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  21. Sounds like another satisfying Superromance, Debra. I've always been curious about stuntwomen since I read an interview with the one who was Sarah Michelle Geller's stunt double in Buffy. It's certainly an unusual career choice for a heroine, so that alone makes it seem worth the read.

    Nas, that "exploding" Books I Liked graphic is kinda cool! :D

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  22. Debra, I love the conflict you've set up for your hero and heroine in this story. Makes me eager to see how you go about getting them together for the long haul! It sounds like compelling reading.

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  23. Great interview. I also think kindness in a man (or a woman!) is the most important and attractive attribute.

    Judy (South Africa)

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  24. Hi Debra! Great interview! I like your advice about interviewing your characters. I think that's a great way to find out about their likes and dislikes. Good luck with your books!

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  25. Hi Debra! I love the idea that writing is a journey. I'll try and remember that it's not where you go, it's how you get there.

    Good luck with your new release!

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  26. Great interview, Nas!

    Hi Deb! Great to see you here. I have to say that "White, picket fences make great kindling" cracks me up. Really gets Jessie's philosophy and attitude across, lol :).

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  27. Thanks, Lacey. I love your name.

    LP, I really enjoyed researching this book. Actually, I enjoy every aspect of the research, and how certain "gifts" fall into place when you go looking for information--little facts that click with your characters and take you places you couldn't have planned for. Like GirlzOnFire--my heroine's non-profit for at-risk teens. I had no clue about this going into the book, but it made perfect sense as I got to know her better. And the idea for that came about from my research into movie stuntwomen.

    Deb

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  28. Annie, I had a reader tell me this conflict between Jessie and Cade was the first time she really had serious doubts about there being an HEA. I'm always surprised by comments like that since I'm all about the HEA. :-)

    Have you been hearing a bunch of us humming *your* song lately?

    Deb

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  29. Judy, that felt like too simple an answer at first, but when I thought about it I knew that kindness is what brings tears to my eyes in a great story. I'm glad you agree. :-)

    Hello, Serenity. I feel better just writing your name. I bet you get that a lot. Thank you for your praise and good wishes. Much appreciated.

    Julia, I forget those words of advice myself from time to time and need to take a deep breath and remind myself to stay present, be patient and take in what is happening--even the bad makes good fodder for a writer.

    Deb

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  30. Rula, I STOLE the bumpersticker idea from our friend and fellow Superromance author, Susan Gable. She uses the T-shirt method, ie, sum up your hero or heroine's philosophy in a t-shirt saying. The goal, IMO, is to see where they start out compared to where they end up. This is the first time I *literally* show the change on the bumper of the heroine's car. BTW, her car is named Yota.

    Deb

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  31. Hi Friends,

    I'm so glad everybody is enjoying themselves chatting with Debra! All the best with the giveaway.

    Hi *waving* to Annie West!
    Friends, she is Harlequin Presents author Annie West, whose latest release is PROTECTED BY THE PRINCE aka PASSION, PURITY AND A PRINCE which has a Cinderella and Prince Charming story with her own special twist!

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  32. Another great interview, Nas! I'm really loving reading about Deb's process, marketing tips, etc. Crazy informative!

    EJ

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  33. Wow - ten years after she got her agent, she got her first book deal without an agent. That is so interesting! And I love Princess Bride, too!

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  34. Hi, E.J., nice of you to drop by. I love reading about other people's writing processes, too.

    Susan, I should qualify that statement. I worked hard to grow as a writer after my first brush with publishing failed. I went to work for a newspaper and really, really learned the craft side of writing so I could apply that to my storytelling. And, some Harlequin authors prefer to use an agent. I chose not to involve another person in the process.

    I always wanted to be "The Dread Pirate Roberts." LOL.

    Deb

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  35. Great interview, as usual! How fantastic that her first submission got her an agent!

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  36. I love the settings in these books! Lovely interview.

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  37. Two agents, Talli. It was like dating two men at the same time...not all that much fun. But, without a manuscript that was truly ready for publishing, neither one could do me much good.

    Thank you, Liz. If you've never been to the Black Hills, you should go. Summers are green and gorgeous and there's sooo much to see and do. I love it there, but I didn't want to live through the winters any more, which is why I moved.

    Deb

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  38. Hi Debra,

    Congratulations for the RT award for UNTIL HE MET RACHEL! I'm so happy for you!

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  39. Great interview. And its those little things like writing in your PJs that make all the difference. Can't do that at a corporate job.

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  40. Thanks, Nas. It was a delightful conference! Here's a link for some photos that your readers might enjoy--and I'm giving away some excellent books, too. http://www.superauthors.com/2011/04/rtpart-two-and-more-prizes.html

    Stephen, you're sooo right about the dress code. LOL. I'm in yoga pants today because Wednesdays begin with yoga. Most employers would frown on that. Thanks for dropping by.

    Deb

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  41. Nas, I'm not sure how to make that link "hot" but there are still two more days until the big Superromance Authors' blog drawing for a $50 VISA card. Always fun to get free money to buy books, right?

    Deb

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  42. Hi Debra,

    Thanks for the link. We can highlight, copy and paste the link in another tab and it will open the $50 VISA card giveaway page!

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  43. Interviewing our characters is great. We really do discover new things about them. Great interview as usual, Nas. Debra, I ALWAYS write in my jammies. :-) It is lovely to meet you.

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  44. Great interview, Nas! And nice to meet you Debra. I know that feeling you get in the middle of a night when a new idea/character pops in. So exciting, but so bad for sleep!

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  45. Robyn, you'd be surprised at how many people think that sounds a little crazy. "Interview your characters? Seriously? Do they answer?" Well, of course, they answer. Who else would, right?

    LOL--writers are a little crazy, no?

    Thanks for coming to the party, Lydia. Nas sets such a lovely table, doesn't she? I've felt very, very welcome here. And, yes, I have to agree the high that comes from that rush of a new story is really better than sleep.

    Deb

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  46. Great interview, Debra and Nas. I visited South Dakota a few years ago and really enjoyed it. It sounds as if your series would be a fun way to make a return visit.

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  48. Great interview! Debra's books sound like exactly what I'd take with me on a romantic holiday to Bermuda (complete, I wish, with diamond ring on the way!).

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  49. Shelley, I'm happy to hear you visited South Dakota. We were back last summer. Didn't get to the Hills, but visited the middle of the state where my parents grew up. It was so green and beautiful. Made me a little homesick. And, yes, the writing the series was a way for me to make a return visit.

    Deb

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  50. Amie!!! What a perfect world that would be! If only...

    Thanks for coming by and making me dream again. :-)

    Deb

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  51. Great interview Nas and Debra!
    I'm such a sucker for romance :-)

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  52. You're my kind of person, Deniz. And I like how you spell you name. Cool!

    Deb

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  53. Such a great interview, and I loved Debra's writing advice. Thanks!

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  54. Julie, sorry I didn't get a chance to reply yesterday. I was on grandma duty all day. Fun! But exhausting. Sigh. Thanks for commenting.

    Deb

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  55. WE HAVE A WINNER.

    I told Nas I'd do the drawing today (Sunday in my part of the world) and the winner is: Denise L'Aussie.

    Denise, please email me with your mailing address and let me know which of my books you'd like.

    Thanks to all of you for making my guest blog so much FUN! I truly enjoyed meeting you all.

    Nas, you've created a really welcoming and inclusive blog. I look forward to dropping in on some of your other guests in the near future.

    Best always,
    Deb

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  56. Congratulations Denise, enjoy your book!

    Thanks for this lovely week, Debra! Hope to see you again!

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