Monday, July 9, 2012

Virtual Book Tour - Home Fires by Jana Richards




Please join me as I welcome Jana Richards and her Virtual Book Tour for her newest romance, Home Fires.  Jana was kind enough to answer my questions and will be awarding a $25 Amazon Gift Card to a random commenter during her tour. Please be sure to leave either a question or comment for Jana below. The more often you comment, the better your odds. You can get her tour schedule here.


Interview

Me: Are you a full time writer or do you have a day job?

Jana:  I think I have the best of both worlds because I work part-time. I get to spend time with my wonderful colleagues, and make a small income (emphasis on ‘small’), while still having time to write. Writing can be very solitary so it’s nice to have a different perspective and some human company. I also get to have animal company at my job. To read about my canine friends at work, click here.

Even though I enjoy my work, I am seriously thinking about leaving my day job in the near future to write full-time. There are just too many stories rattling around in my head and demanding to be written. 

Me:  Are you a plotter or more of a panster (fly by the seat of your pants)? 

Jana:  Mostly, I’m a plotter. I like to have a rough synopsis of the plot before I start writing. That way if I get stuck, I have something to look back on to get me going again. Before I begin, I also do some character sketches to get to know my hero and heroine. But I often find that the story and the characters don’t become totally clear to me until after I’ve done some writing, so there’s an element of pansting in my process as well.

Me:  You have written a mixture of historical, contemporary, a romantic suspense and even one slightly paranormal. Can you tell us what genre is truly your favorite and why? What has writing in more than one genre taught you or enabled you to do?

Jana:  Gee, that’s like asking which of my children is my favorite. I really like contemporary, and I also like contemporary romantic suspense. But I’m really enjoying the research and writing of my World War Two stories. And I love adding a touch of the paranormal, or a bit of comedy occasionally. Hmm…I’m sorry, what was the question again? Oh, yes. My favorite. I’ve been staring at the computer screen for several moments trying to decide. I honestly don’t have an answer for that. My favorite is truly the one I’m working on at the moment.

Writing in different romance sub-genres gives me freedom. I can stay rooted in reality with my contemporaries, or speculate about what Heaven might be like, in light paranormals like my angel story “Burning Love”. Romantic suspense allows me to create a mystery that hopefully the reader isn’t able to solve until the very end. My stories set during World War Two have taught me a lot about research and have allowed me to delve into an era that has fascinated me for years.


Me:  “Home Fires” is your tenth published work; can you tell us what you’ve learned since you published your first book? Things you’ll definitely do again and things you won’t?

Jana:  I’ve learned a lot about the writing process, and what works and doesn’t work for me. I used to feel I had to make my first draft ‘perfect’; consequently, I endlessly revised the opening chapters and often couldn’t get past them. When I finally learned I could write a crappy first draft and fix it later in the revision process, I was able to move past the first couple of chapters and finish writing the entire manuscript. It’s meant I’ve been able to complete more writing projects.

I’ve also learned a lot about marketing my books, although I feel I’m just beginning to get scratch the surface of this subject. When I was first published in 2007, I knew nothing about getting the word out about my work. I’ve learned that writing the book is only the start of the work. I’ve still got much to learn about marketing!

If there is anything I’d change, it would be the ability to write faster, if that’s possible! But seriously, if I could go back in time, the only thing I would change is that I would have written a series or two earlier in my career. People love books in series because they have a second and third opportunity to visit characters that have become dear to them. I’m currently trying my hand at writing a series, so we’ll see how it turns out.

Me:  What kind of research did you do for “Home Fires”?

Jana:  I read several books and did much online research. I read many, many stories written by the war brides themselves in which they related their experiences of meeting their husbands, marrying them and coming to Canada. One book I read was called “Risking it all for love” which is the story of an English war bride who marries a Canadian soldier and comes to his farm in Saskatchewan. My character Anne, in “Home Fires” also comes to Saskatchewan so I learned a lot from this book. Both girls came from large cities in England and were used to electricity, indoor plumbing, telephones and other modern conveniences of the 1940s. Canada, and Saskatchewan in particular, was largely rural back then, so life was very different from what these women were used to. Like my character Anne, the real war bride wondered if she’d ever fit in.

In addition, a friend of mine in her eighties who was a teenager during the war, had known some war brides. One bride she knew had been rejected by her husband on her arrival in Canada. But she met another soldier and married him, so I knew Anne’s story was totally believable, and in fact had actually taken place.

Me:  Are any of the characters in “Home Fires” based on family/friends or yourself? 

Jana:  No, I have no war brides in my family, although my dad served in World War Two. He came home and married his sweetheart, my mother. Characters and stories either came from my imagination or were suggested by my research.

Me:  “Home Fires” is part of the Love Letters Series, do these books need to be read in order or are they each stand alone novels? Do you plan to write another book in this series?

Jana:  No, the books in the Love Letters series are all different and can be read in any order. When we were asked to write for this series, the only criteria was that they be set in an historical period and that one of the characters receives a letter at the beginning of the book that changes his or her life. Other than that, anything goes. So there are stories set in the Regency period in England, the American west in the 1880s, as well as my post World War Two story that takes place on the Canadian prairies. If time permits, I would love to write another book in this series.


Me: I noticed that you are a member of the Saskatchewan Romance Writers, can you tell us a little bit about this writing group and how they have helped with your writing?

Jana:  I’ve been a member of the Saskatchewan Romance Writers for many years. The members of this group have mentored me, provided critiquing advice and education, and have given me emotional support. I’m not sure I would have stuck it out this long without the help and support of my writing friends. In the past year we put together an anthology of short stories called “Tales from Saskatchewan: Love, Loss and Other Oddities”. It was a terrific exercise in learning how to put together a book and promote ourselves.


Me: Can you tell us who has been the greatest influence on your writing? Mentor?

Jana:  My friend Ishbel Moore has been a wonderful mentor the last few years. Her skill at critique has really helped me improve my writing.

Me:  Are you currently working on a new project? Can you tell us a little bit about it or share a small sneak peek?

Jana:  I am currently working on a book called “Always a Bridesmaid” that I hope will become part of a series I call my “Left at the Altar” series. Every story begins with someone being left at the altar. 

In this short excerpt, Zach Morrison has just been dumped. Daniella Dipietro had the misfortune of being a bridesmaid at this wedding; she never did like the bride:

It surprised her that he called by her full given name. She blinked and looked into his face. The desolation she saw broke her heart. He’d obviously loved Chantal and she’d discarded him without a backward glance. Without thinking, Dani laid her hand on his arm.

“It’ll be all right. I promise.”

He placed his hand over hers. Closing his eyes for a brief moment, he took a shuddering breath.

“I know. I just…”

He didn’t finish.

Wanting nothing more than to comfort, Dani wrapped her arms around his waist in a hug. He held her tightly, pulling her against him and burying his face in her neck. Dani inhaled the intoxicating scent of spicy aftershave laced with underlying notes of warm, clean male. How could Chantal treat a wonderful man like Zach this way?

She gently pulled away, keeping him at arm’s length. “You’re going to get past this, Zach.”

“It doesn’t feel like it right now.”

“I know, but someday, when you’re old and grey, you’ll be sitting on the front porch with your wonderful wife of fifty years, and you’ll say ‘Thank Heaven Chantal dumped me or I never would have met you.’”

He made a sound somewhere between a laugh and a sob. “Fifty years, eh?”

“Trust me.”

Some lucky girl would snap Zach up in a minute, and if she was smart, she’d shower him with the love and consideration he deserved.

Some lucky girl, but not her.

Reluctantly, she took a step back. He squeezed her fingers before letting go her hand. With her heart pounding in her chest, and regret nipping at her heels, she hurried from the church.

Before she did something stupid, like kiss the groom.


Quick Get To Know You Five:

Me:  Coffee or Tea? 

Jana:  Currently tea. I’m trying to cut down on coffee.
Me:  Chocolate or Vanilla?

Jana:  Chocolate, definitely.

Me:  Kindle, Nook or IPad?

Jana:  None of the above. I have a Sony ereader. 

Me:  Walking on the beach or hiking in the mountains?

Jana:  I’ll go with a nice, long walk on a warm, tropical beach. Heavenly!

Me:  Movies: Action or Romance?

Jana:  Definitely romance. Every time!

Thanks for inviting me here today! I want to encourage readers to ask me a question or just say hello. I’d love to talk to you! Every comment will give you one chance to win my grand prize, a $25 Amazon gift certificate. I’ll be randomly choosing the winner of the GC from all comments received on the tour. Please go to http://www.janarichards.net/Appearance.html for a complete schedule. To receive bonus entries for the GC, like me on Facebook, follow my blog at http://janarichards.blogspot.com or sign up for my newsletter and then email me at jana.richards@hotmail.com to let me know.

Also, in conjunction with this blog tour, I’m offering a special promotion. Buy a copy of “Home Fires” or any of my other titles between July 4 and July 18, 2012, and you will receive a free PDF copy of my romantic comedy “Rescue Me” as a bonus gift. All you have to do is email me at jana.richards@hotmail.com with the receipt number of your purchase and I’ll send you the book. It’s that simple! You can find a listing of my titles at http://www.janarichards.net/Books.html To read a blurb and an excerpt from “Rescue Me” please click here.




Home Fires 
by Jana Richards 
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


Blurb:  

Anne Wakefield travels halfway around the world for love. But when she arrives in Canada from England at the end of World War Two, she discovers the handsome Canadian pilot she’d fallen in love with has married someone else. Heartbroken, she prepares to return to London, though she has nothing left there to return to. Her former fianc√©’s mother makes a suggestion: marriage to her other son.


Badly wounded and scarred during the war, Erik Gustafson thinks he’s a poor substitute for his brother. Although he loves Anne almost from the first time he sees her, he cannot believe she would ever be able to love him as he is – especially as he might be after another operation on his bad leg. Anne sees the beauty of his heart. The cold prairie winter may test her courage, but can she prove to Erik that her love for him is real?



~~~~~~~~~~~~~~



Excerpt No. 1

She whirled around to glare at him, her eyes blazing. “No! I’m not a child! I don’t have to be molly-coddled and baby-sat. I spent six years in a war zone, hiding in bomb shelters, never having enough to eat. I worked in a hospital treating blitz victims with wounds so horrendous grown men would gag to look at them. I faced those horrors every day. Sometimes things were so bad I thought I couldn’t go on. But I did. Because I had to. And I’ll face things here too. So don’t tell me to give up because I won’t!”

Erik pushed himself out of his chair to face her, awed by her spirit and courage. She lifted her chin as if defying him to contradict her, her hands clenched at her sides. Her dark hair curled in wild abandon as it dried, framing her pale oval face like a halo. Her beauty and ferocity were magnificent.

“I think you’re the strongest woman I know.”

Her eyes widened in surprise, her hands unclenching. He caught the quiver of her chin as she fought to hold back tears.

He opened his arms and she stepped into them, wrapping her arms around his waist and clinging to him. He held her tightly, inhaling the sweet, clean scent of her, never wanting to let her go.

“Don’t cry. Everything’s all right now.”

She lifted her head to look into his face, her dark eyes shiny with tears, her lips slightly parted. Erik stared at her mouth, wanting desperately to kiss her, to capture her sweetness. He slowly lowered his mouth to hers. To his surprise, she didn’t run off, or turn away in revulsion. He was so close her breath mingled with his, her breathing swallow and erratic. His heart slammed against his chest, his body thrumming with need. For the first time in over three years, he felt alive.







AUTHOR Bio and Links:

Jana Richards has tried her hand at many writing projects over the years, from magazine articles and short stories to full-length paranormal suspense and romantic comedy. She loves to create characters with a sense of humor, but also a serious side. She believes there’s nothing more interesting then peeling back the layers of a character to see what makes them tick.

When not writing up a storm, working at her day job as an Office Administrator, or dealing with ever present mountains of laundry, Jana can be found on the local golf course pursuing her newest hobby.

Jana lives in Western Canada with her husband Warren, and a highly spoiled Pug/Terrier cross named Lou. You can reach her through her website at http://www.janarichards.net


Don't forget to leave a comment or question below for Jana as she will be awarding a $25 Amazon Gift Card to one random commenter during her tour.  You can follow her tour here.  I also want to thank Jana for answering my questions and for having one of her blog tour stops on my blog.



20 comments:

  1. Wow! What a great post! Liked the interview and the exert with blurb. Sounds good. Thanks!

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    1. Thanks Taryn! I'm glad you enjoyed the excerpts and interview.

      I appreciate you stopping by.

      Jana

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  2. Great post! And you do have the best of both worlds working part time and then writing. :)

    Francesca

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    1. Hi Francesca,
      I consider myself lucky that I've been able to work part-time rather than full-time for some time now. It's not only allowed me to write, but also to be around for my daughters when they were growing up. Both have been a blessing.

      Thanks for commenting,
      Jana

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  3. Love the premise of your Left at the Altar series! I enjoyed this interview very much.

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    Replies
    1. Hello Mrs. Condit,
      I'm glad you like the premise. I've been working on this series for some time. I love the characters and I'm hoping I do justice to their stories.

      Thanks,
      Jana

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  4. Jana do you find it hard switching from writing one genre to the next? I would think it would be difficult to keep to the type of romance you were writing. Thanks for the interview! Carin

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    Replies
    1. Hi Carin,
      I don't find it too difficult switching from one type of story to another, mainly because I love to read in these sub-genres as well as to write them. The story, no matter what sub-genre, is always demanding to be told. But I do have to keep in mind that each sub-genre needs to be handled differently. For instance, dialogue in a historical is different from a contemporary, and the way women are portrayed, social mores, and customs are different as well. But it's well worth taking the trouble to work out those differences.

      Jana

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  5. I love that you write in all genres. I love reading stories about WWII, but I also love reading regency and current romance stories. This sounds like a great story.

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    1. Thanks MomJane! I'm like you; I like reading a variety of different time periods and types of stories. Variety is the spice of life, after all!

      Thanks for following,
      Jana

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  6. Cutting down on coffee...hmm. I should try that someday...nah. :-)

    vitajex(at)aol(dot)com

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    Replies
    1. I have to admit that since I submitted the interview, I have backslided a bit and have been consuming more coffee. I'm trying to replace some of the coffee with green tea because I understand it has some good medicinal qualities. But I do so love a cup of coffee in the morning!

      Jana

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  7. lovely post! thanks for sharing this book!!

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  8. I'll have to chase up the books from your other genres too, after I have read HOME FIRES. My Father came back from WWII and married his sweetheart - my Mother.

    marypres(AT)gmail(DOT)com

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    Replies
    1. That's what my Dad did too! Sometimes the girls back home were the right ones.

      Thanks for following Marybelle.
      Jana

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  9. Honestly, its not often that I find myself a fan of historical anything. I popped on over when I saw this cover, it just struck a chord. Then I got to read more in the blurb and excerpt, and I think this sounds like a very interesting story! I’ll definitely be adding it to my TBR.

    I also really enjoyed this interview. Both the questions and answers were great choices/replies. It’s always nice to get to know a “new to me” author a little bit more.

    Good luck on your tour!
    Liz
    Liz at fictional candy dot com

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    Replies
    1. I'm so glad you enjoyed the interview and the excerpt. I hope you like "Home Fires".

      Thanks for commenting,
      Jana

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  10. Hello Jana,
    Ten books wow that is fabulous. If your books are all available then your fans can experience many sides of you as a writer.
    Do you think you could let your daughter leave you and perhaps never see her again as some of these brides did. Hmmm, I wonder if there were war grooms?

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    1. Thanks Annette, I appreciate that! It's nice to get a little pat on the back.

      At the moment my daughter lives in Toronto. It's far enough away that I can't just hop in the car to go visit her whenever I want to. But we talk on the phone a lot, email, and fly out to visit each other when we can. If this was the 1940s, and she went to live in Europe, I might never see her again. Our only contact would likely be through letters. For many war brides, the day the left was the last day they saw their mothers. I wrote a blog about some of their stories for Janet Corcoran's blog last week. Some of the brides' stories were truly heartbreaking.

      Thanks for stopping by.

      Jana

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