Title: His Hometown GirlAuthor: Karen Rock
Format: Mass Market Paperback,Length: 331 pages
Release Date: March 1st 2014Publisher: Harlequin
He’d always managed to best her…
Jodi Chapman will do whatever it takes to get top care for her autistic son. If that means going home and convincing local farmers to sell their land, so be it. Even if her biggest opponent, childhood rival Daniel Gleason, is equally determined to convince farmers to buy into his co-op plan. And he’s not playing fair.
Facing off against Daniel is the last thing Jodi wants. The attraction that’s always fueled their competitiveness is as strong as ever and just as distracting. But with both their futures on the line, and years of distrust between them, how can they ever be on the same side?
1. Please start by telling us a little bit about yourself.
Hi, Melissa! Thank you so much for having me on Melissa’s Eclectic Bookshelf 🙂 I live in upstate New York near Lake Champlain and the Adirondack Mountains with my husband of twenty years and my daughter. I recently left my teaching job to write full time and am enjoying the chance to be creative in both my Young Adult and Adult Contemporary Romance writing careers. I love to read, scour garage sales for antiques, cook my grandmother’s recipes, and garden- which is a love/hate thing because I’m constantly rearranging my plants then putting them all back again! Sheesh.
2. When did you know that you wanted to write professionally and how did you take the leap to get into the business?
My publication journey began four years ago when my sister-in-law, Joanne Rock, began encouraging me to write. As she’s a Harlequin writer, I loved bouncing ideas around with her and talking about her career, though I never dared to imagine it was something I could do. Yet, with her encouragement, I wrote most of what I think was a first novel… it was tough to tell since it was such a hot mess! Joanne, however, was kind enough to read the parts that I sent her and encouraged me to keep going. I decided to start another book and finished it! What a thrill. It was an accomplishment that gave me so much confidence until the rejection letters started coming in *sigh*. Still, Joanne believed in me and suggested we write a Young Adult romance series together. Incredibly, we sold it that year, and I had to pinch myself to believe it was true.
Then, I received a mass email from Joanne’s agent, Barbara Rosenberg, about a new line for Harlequin called Heartwarming. These were to be contemporary love stories that were deeply romantic and tender. My imagination went haywire. I love the raw emotion of YA literature and here, at last, was a line from Harlequin that would allow me to go to the emotional places I love to write in. I wrote Barbara (now my agent as well) and asked her if an idea I’d had might work. She sent it to Senior Editor, Victoria Curran, who asked to see three chapters and, after submitting them, later contacted my agent with a contract offer for my first Harlequin, WISH ME TOMORROW. I now have another contract for four more Heartwarming romances and each story is so special. I can’t wait for them to be available to the public!
3. Can you tell me a little bit about HIS HOMETOWN GIRL and your inspiration?
It’s a story about a single mother who’s desperate to help her autistic son speak again. He stopped talking after her ex walked out on them and never returned home. She blames herself, a familiar feeling since she also carries the guilt of having contributed to a serious farm accident in her hometown when she was a teenager. When her boss offers her a promotion that would pay for the specialized daycare her son needs, she agrees, with a heavy heart, to his condition that she return to her hometown and convince her old friends and neighbors to sell their farms to her corporation. She’s especially reluctant to return because it means she’ll be battling, once again, with her former childhood rival and ex boyfriend, Daniel Gleason. He wants the farms to stick together and form a co-op with him, and opposes Jodi every way he can, despite the feelings that return for both of them.
4.What do you hope that readers take away with them after reading your book?
At its heart, this story is about acceptance. Jodi needs to learn to accept her past and forgive herself for old mistakes. She also needs to accept that no parent is perfect, nor is any child. We need to learn to love and accept ourselves to find true love. I hope the reader comes away knowing that you don’t have to be perfect to find the person who is perfect for you.
5. I find it interesting to know what environment authors find most productive… Do you use a pen and paper or laptop? Quiet room at home or bustling café? Basically, what gets your creative juices flowing?
I’m distracted so easily! I love a quiet room and since my husband works a nightshift and my daughter goes to school, the mornings are the best time to get pages written. I use the afternoons to revise when distractions won’t stop the creative juices and a laptop is a must! I used to write in journals and I can’t imagine how I wrote stories that way since I make so many mistakes… Thank goodness for the ‘delete’ button!
6. What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author? What has been the best compliment?
One thing I always battle to overcome is what my Harlequin editor calls my ‘YA voice’. Since I write in both genres, it’s sometimes hard to transition back into sounding like your thirty when you’ve been writing as a fifteen-year-old. Sometimes, she’ll also tell me actions I’ve put in are too YA and so on and it’s kept me on my toes to be conscientious of appealing to both audiences. The best compliment I had was from a cancer patient who told me that my last book, WISH ME TOMORROW, gave her so much hope about finding love. It touches me so much when fans write and tell me how my story affected them. It’s everything.
7. What book is currently on your nightstand? And who are some of your favorite authors?
Right now, I’m reading Sue Monk Kidd’s THE INVENTION OF WINGS. She also wrote THE SECRET LIFE OF BEES which I love. Both books have such strong female heroines and promote the empowerment of women. I love to write and read main characters that are strong in that way. I don’t like books where the male character is domineering and the woman has to be subservient or weak. My heroes are strong men who are also considerate, smart and funny. They don’t have to put women in “their place” to feel like men. Okay- that was a tangent! So sorry, Melissa. As for favorite authors, Nicholas Sparks has had a great influence on me. He writes deep love stories that are full of rich, real-life experiences that are not always easy, but are honest. I’m so inspired by him and his beautiful stories. I’m also very inspired, on the YA end of the spectrum, by John Green. He also writes contemporary stories that include such touching, raw love stories. Like Nicholas Sparks, tears are shed, but I never feel manipulated into feeling that way. Both of these authors tell us such moving stories, and I hope that I do too.
8. What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
I love reading -*SURPRISE*- lol. But I also love antiques, including old books, and spend time hunting them down at garage sales. I have a first edition, second print of GONE WITH THE WIND, and it’s in my special curio cabinet where I look at it so often! I also love spending time with my two dogs and cat, arranging, rearranging then putting everything back the way it was in my gardens- sheesh- and cooking my grandmother’s recipes. Whenever I make them, I feel like she’s still with me.
9. Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
My advice is to have thick skin and to persevere.This is a tough business. There will be lots of opinions, lots of rejections, and lots of near misses. The conundrum is that writers need to be sensitive in order to observe other people in order to infuse their stories with realistic characters and experiences. However, they can’t let that sensitivity stop them when they are told ‘no’. My advice is to believe in yourself and to listen and learn from constructive feedback. Most of all, don’t give up.
10. What can we expect from you next?
I have three more books contracted with Harlequin Heartwarming and each is very unique. I can’t wait to share them! I just finished one about two very different people- one’s a dreamer, the other a pragmatist- who team up to create a start-up company designing a dating compatibility app. It’s been a lot of fun trying to answer the question: Can love come with a guarantee?
11. Do any animals share your life? Please tell us about them.
Oh, YAY! I love talking about my pets. I have two cavalier cocker spaniels and a Burmese cat. Lizzie, one of my dogs, is a diabetic and so lovable that everyone that sees her asks to pet her. She was the inspiration for Christie’s therapy dog in WISH ME TOMORROW. Little Bit is a dog we adopted from an elderly woman who could no longer care for her. She’s now twelve and, unfortunately, is deaf and has an enlarged heart that makes it difficult for her to climb stairs. So I carry her. No big deal, right? In fact, there isn’t anything I wouldn’t do for my pets, even Angel, my kitty, who acts like anything but a celestial being. He loves to hide around corners and leap out, clawing at ankles and legs… basically whatever’s in reach. He rules this house, and my dogs always pause and sniff before coming around a corner since Angel has them on the run! Lol.
And now for a little bit of fun:)
This or That?
1. Light Chocolate or Dark Chocolate? Dark
2. Hugs or Kisses? Hugs
3. Drama or Comedy? Ack! Both are awesome. I’ll go with Dramedy- like Crazy Stupid Love J
4. Snow or Sand? Sand- even though we have snow in my neck of the woods from Nov-April!
5. Dragons or Fairies? Dragons. I want to ride one in the worst way.
6. Night or Day? Day- dawn is the moment when magic can happen- the good kind.
7. Rock or Pop? Rock
8. Dogs or Cats? Yikes- I love both. Sorry. You’re asking a mother to choose between her kids. Not happening 😉
9. Harry Potter or Twilight? Both were great, but I’ll give it to J.K. Rowling for creating an entire, fantastical world.
10. Coffee or Tea? If it’s iced- either- although diet soda is best!
Karen Rock has adored romance since receiving Harlequin Presents books from her grandmother each summer. She formed her Young Adult writing partnership, J.K. Rock- pseudonym for the CAMP BOYFRIEND series, with her sister-in-law and Blaze author, Joanne Rock in 2011. When Karen heard of a call for submissions to Heartwarming, Harlequin’s latest line, she was inspired by the possibilities of writing unforgettable, deeply romantic, tender love stories that mothers would feel comfortable sharing with their daughters. When she’s not writing, Karen loves scouring estate sales for vintage books, cooking her grandmother’s family recipes, hiking the ‘high peaks’, and redesigning her gardens. She lives in the Adirondack Mountain region with her husband, daughter, and two Cavalier King cocker spaniels who have yet to understand the concept of “fetch” though they know a lot about love.
For more information about Karen’s upcoming books, check out her website, Facebook page, or follow her on twitter. She’d love to hear from you!
Grand Prize: Hand-stitched, authentic Amish quilt (uses their overlapping heart-stitching- pattern), with matching dust ruffle for a king-sized bed, signed copies of Wish Me Tomorrow & Camp Boyfriend, and some surprise swag (US Only)
1 – Paperback/ebook copies of Wish Me Tomorrow and Camp Boyfriend (format is winner’s choice, paperback for US Only) and $20 Amazon gift card
2 – ebooks of Wish Me Tomorrow and Camp Boyfriend (INT)
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