Today we welcome Debra St. John to Romancing the Book. Debra writes spicy romance with sexy heroes and spunky heroines for The Wild Rose Press. An Unexpected Blessing is her fifth release. Although she’s a country girl at heart, she lives in a suburb of Chicago with her husband, who is her real life hero. You can find her at www.debrastjohnromance.com or blogging at http://acmeauthorslink.
Jen: Tell us about your latest release and where the idea came from.
Debra: An Unexpected Blessing is a Thanksgiving novella about an ex-con who returns home and reconnects with the girl he’s always had a secret crush on. The trouble is, she’s not so thrilled to have him around her young son…at first. As time goes by, and she gets to know him, her feelings change. But it isn’t easy for a small town to get over its prejudice about his past.
The idea to write a Thanksgiving story came last year when I was promoting my Christmas novella, which was released at the beginning of November. Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, and it always seems to get passed over in the rush to get to Christmas. I am a big stickler for every holiday having its turn, so it was ‘difficult’ for me to be thinking about Christmas before Thanksgiving last year, even if it was to promote a book! So, I decided I was going to write a Thanksgiving story for the next year so I could focus on the proper holiday at the proper time. So I did! The actual storyline just came to me one day.
Jen: How does your family feel about your career?
Debra: They are very supportive. They get just as excited as I do when I sign a new contract. My mom is my number one salesperson. I give her stacks of bookmarks and postcards and she passes them out at craft fairs and even to random people at stores! Other than the ones I sell to family and friends, she gets the credit for selling more of my books than anyone else.
Jen: What’s your biggest motivation to write? What keeps you going?
Debra: I’d have to say my biggest motivation to write is I have stories to tell. And it’s such a thrill to know that other people are reading those stories: getting to know my characters and immersing themselves in a world I’ve created. When I get stuck or down or discouraged, just looking at the copies of my own books on my library shelves is a big pick-me-up. If I’m feeling really down, I scroll through the reviews I’ve gotten for my books, and that always brightens my day.
Jen: Do you have a favorite character or one you most identify with?
Debra: I think at any given time any one of my heroes is my favorite character. I’ve been in love with all of them at various times! Usually it’s the one whose story I’m working on at the moment. For example, right now, Jake, my bull rider, is my favorite. I’m in the middle of revisions on his story: “This Feels Like Home”. But, if you ask me at another time it may be Logan or Zach or Noah or Sam or Joe…or someone new. I guess I’m very fickle!
Jen: What do you do in your free time?
Debra: Free time? What’s that?! (LOL) Most days I don’t feel like I have any spare moments. Between a full time job, various meetings, and trying to squeeze quality writing time in, there aren’t too many minutes left over. If I do find some ‘extra’ time, I love cozying up with my hubby to watch a movie. If I’m by myself I love to read, and if I have a few hours on my hands (which isn’t often) I’ll pull out my scrapbook projects.
Jen: What’s next for you?
Debra: As I mentioned I’m working on revisions for a manuscript, which actually will complete a series of sorts. My goal is to have those done by the end of the year and sent back to an editor at Wild Rose. I have a manuscript under consideration with Harlequin, so I’m waiting with fingers crossed to hear back about that. And I have ideas for a few more novellas and a few more full-lengths swirling around in my head. I’ve even gone so far as to make outlines for some, and I have a first chapter written on one.
Here’s a short excerpt:
“Are you going to dance with me or not?”
“Yes, ma’am, I am.” Joe stood and offered his hand.
Katy slid hers into his warm grasp. As always, his touch caused a little shock in her heart. The weight of a hundred pairs of eyes followed them out onto the floor. The dirt was packed smooth, and a ring of hay bales marked the area. Her tummy quivered with a combination of nerves and anticipation.
He found an open spot, which wasn’t difficult with the other couples affording them a wide berth, and then curved his arm around her waist to draw her close. Her body fit perfectly against him. A shiver tingled through her. She rested her free hand on his shoulder.
His thigh brushed hers as he rhythmically shuffled his feet to the music. His gaze captured and held hers. The rest of the room faded as she stared into the warm, melted chocolate brown of his eyes.
She didn’t care that people whispered. Snuck glances. Or outright gaped. All she cared about was swaying to a soft, slow beat. The quicker thud of her heart. Strong arms wrapped around her. And the desire to stay right where she was. Maybe forever.