Jen: Today we welcome Elley Arden back to Romancing the Book. Elley, will you share a short bio with us?
Elley: Elley Arden is a born and bred Pennsylvanian who drinks wine like it’s water (a slight exaggeration), prefers a night at the ballpark to a night on the town, and believes almond English toffee is the key to happiness.
Jen: Please tell us about your newest release and where the idea came from.
Elley: In THE CHANGE UP: ARLINGTON ACES 1, commercial real estate mogul Rachel Reed has spent years following in her father’s successful footsteps when an Alzheimer’s diagnosis leads him to make one last request, which puts Rachel in the path of her ex-boyfriend’s younger brother, former minor leaguer Sam Sutter. The basic idea came from my husband’s close association with an independent professional baseball team.
She rolled her eyes. “I’m not impressed.”
He stepped forward, crowding her space. “I’m sure the only thing that impresses you is a big, fat bank account.”
She narrowed her eyes at him and said, “Guilty,” even as she admired the sheer size of him. Tall. Wide. Solid. And he had the most beautiful eyes. A soft brown with flecks of gold that flashed in the sun and hypnotized her. What the hell?
Sam Sutter wasn’t even her type. For God’s sake, she was forty. She didn’t have a type. She had gentleman friends who took her to dinner, toasted her accomplishments with an expensive Bordeaux, and gave her utilitarian orgasms when she needed some stress relief. Sam Sutter was what? Mid-thirties now? In tired blue jeans with a good-ole-boy smile, driving a beat-up pickup truck. Hell no. She did not need to be impressed by him.
Jen: Do you have a writing routine?
Elley: I am a creature of habit, but I feel like I spend a lot of time lamenting how I continually get thrown off track. My goal is to write while my kids (I have three: one in college, one in high school, and one in her last year of middle school) are at school and be done by the time they get home. It never seems to work out that way. Somedays, I get sidetracked by a lot of non-writing things. Other days, I get sucked into a bottomless pit of busywork, marketing, and social media—all things that are important to a writing career, but they don’t help me put words on paper. That being said, my routine is to be seated in front of my laptop by 10 a.m. every weekday. While I’m writing, I drink green tea and have music playing in the background. I write until noon, and then I break for lunch and to spend some time with my dog. Then, I’m back at it until 3 p.m. Remember, that’s an ideal day. I don’t have very many ideal days.
Jen: What kind of research did you do for this book?
Elley: This book was easy to research, because so much of it is taken from personal experience. Baseball is a big part of my life thanks to my husband, who is an MLB team physician. While independent professional baseball (not affiliated with MLB) takes center stage in THE CHANGE UP, I was able to draw from my husband’s early career, when he was the team physician for a Frontier League baseball team. The Arlington Aces were inspired by this team. As for the Alzheimer’s storyline, that too was written with firsthand experience in mind. The only portion of the book that required me to reach beyond my house was the commercial real estate business in Philadelphia, and fortunately, I have a contact who was able to answer my questions via text message. Some books are definitely easier to write than others. It certainly helps to “write what you know.”
Jen: What’s the most challenging aspect of writing? Easiest? Most rewarding?
Elley: The most challenging aspect of writing is pushing through self-doubt. This is my thirteenth book, and I still question my capabilities almost daily. If I let those questions consume my thoughts, then writing is almost impossible. I would call this writer’s block. I have had to learn to live—and write—with it. It’s challenging. The easiest aspect of writing is coming up with new ideas. I could start a new book every week. Inspiration is everywhere! The most rewarding aspect of writing is positive feedback from a reader when I least expect it. The random email or Facebook post that tells me a reader wishes she could spend all her bill money on my books, or she stayed up way too late because she couldn’t stop reading, is incredibly satisfying.
Jen: What did you do to celebrate your first book? Do you do anything to celebrate a sale, new contract or release?
Elley: I had a group of six friends read my debut novel, SAVE MY SOUL, prior to release, and then we had a “Champagne Book Club” on Release Day Eve. We played book-related games, discussed the story and characters, ate delicious appetizers, and drank lots of champagne. It was perfect. (I’m smiling just remembering it.) I tried to maintain that for the next few releases, but my release schedule was very hectic the first two years. Eventually, Release Day just became like any other day, which is kind of sad now that I think about it. I’m definitely going to do something about that!
Jen: What do you do in your free time?
Elley: I love home decorating and design. My wheels are constantly turning, so I’m forever rearranging things and planning new projects. I also love to be outside on my front porch or back patio with friends and a good bottle of wine. Despite that, I’m not a big homebody. I like to go out—even if it’s just to lunch or dinner or to go shopping at my favorite home decorating supply stores. My all-time favorite thing to do, though, is spend a warm, late-spring evening at the ball park. Timeless perfection.
Elley: Jen: What’s next for you?
I’m busy on the second Arlington Aces book, THE SWEET SPOT (releases October 10, 2016), which will feature Rachel’s sister Helen Anne and Aces’ outfielder Giovanni Caceres.