Darlene Gardner Swims with the Mermaids

The Mermaids are thrilled to welcome author Darlene Gardner to the lagoon. With more than 30 books in print, from single-title romantic comedies to emotionally charged family dramas, Darlene is currently self publishing updated editions from her backlist and has a new holiday romance out now. Let’s jump right into it….  (Psst: Giveaway alert at the end of the interview.)

Congratulations on your latest holiday book, Wish Upon a Christmas Star. Care to tell us a little about it?

First of all, thanks so much for hosting me. My book’s a little out of the norm for a holiday romance. Not only is it set in tropical Key West, it involves 9-11. Maria DiMarco is a private investigator who never fully accepted that her younger brother died in the terrorist attack at the World Trade Center. After her brother’s ex-girlfriend gets strange phone calls and letters suggesting Maria’s brother is alive, Maria sees a shooting star and makes a wish. And suddenly she’s in Key West during Christmas week trying to track down her brother. Following her there is her ex-love Logan Collier, who’s not quite as quick to believe in miracles at Maria. 

Darlene’s latest book: Wish Upon a Christmas Star

Personally, I love a good holiday romance. I also happen to love sports, and you and I have bonded over our beloved Steelers. You used to be a newspaper sportswriter. How did you transition from writing sports to romance?

My first newspaper job was as a features writer where I wrote about everything from domestic abuse to birthday parties for dogs. Looking back on it, features writing was a great training ground for a novelist-to-be. Although I’m still a sports junkie, I think there isn’t anything more important in this world than love. That’s what drew me to romance and that’s what keeps me there.

With over 30 books in print, come on… you can tell us. Which one is your favorite and which one gave you the biggest headache?

My sentimental favorite is an early romantic comedy called Forget Me? Not! because I modeled the irrepressible hero after my husband. All of my books give me headaches! I’m a linear writer. There comes a time in every book that I can’t move forward because something isn’t right. It usually takes me about a week to figure out what it is. I’m told I’m hell to live with during those times!

Speaking of headaches, do you ever get writer’s block and if so, how do you combat it?

I think writer’s block is a luxury a novelist under contract can’t afford. That’s not to say there aren’t days when my writing isn’t going well. I push through it, rationalizing that I can fix the troublesome scene the next day. Having something to revise, even if it’s dreck, is better than starting from a blank page.

How long does it take you to write a book? Do you have a regular writing schedule/process?

Because of my newspaper background, I’m deadline driven. Give me a deadline, and I’ll meet it. But because I’m not a fast writer, I usually give myself three or four months to finish a Superromance. I write on an Alpha Smart so I’m not tempted to check email every few minutes. I’m fairly disciplined, but I also play a lot of tennis. That’s my biggest distraction, but I rationalize that a girl needs to exercise.

The Mermaids – those of us in the lagoon as well as our readers – are in various stages of publishing. Do you have any advice you’d like to share for:

Pre-published authors? Persevere! I sold the second manuscript I finished and sold again shortly afterward but then went through a seven-year dry spell. It was tough to keep writing and believing, but I’m sure glad I didn’t give up.

The newbie author? Enjoy the process, join a writers organization like Romance Writers of America and soak up all the knowledge that’s available. Becoming a better writer is an on-going, lifelong process.

The experienced multi-book author? The publishing landscape keeps changing so it’s important to be flexible. If your sales are down or your muse is weary, try writing something new, whether it be in a new genre or new format.

I’m apparently a question-kleptomaniac and I like to steal the 10 questions asked by James Lipton on Inside the Actor’s Studio. So without further ado:

What is your favorite word? shimmer

What is your least favorite word? booger

What turns you on? men who don’t realize how sexy they are

What turns you off? men who think they’re sexy

What sound or noise do you love? water cascading down a mountainside

What sound or noise do you hate? the song Benny and the Jets

What is your favorite curse word? frigging (I think it sounds funny)

What profession other than your own would you like to attempt? Travel writer. Or maybe just traveling companion with all my expenses paid.

What profession would you not like to do? Sanitation worker. I gag at bad smells

If heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the pearly gates? “Good job on the life, girlfriend! Come on in.”

Darlene Gardner

Lastly, what are you working on now?

I’m working on something wildly different, a series of short paranormal romances for teens called Dead Ringers set at a beachside carnival. I plan to release the first three as ebooks early in 2013.

Thank you so much for joining us today, Darlene! We loved having you and good luck with your new series!

To find out more about Darlene’s books, visit her website at http://www.darlenegardner.com. She’s also on Twitter http://www.twitter.com/DarleneGardner and Facebook http://www.facebook.com/DarleneGardnerBooks



Darlene has graciously offered to give away two of her books: The Christmas Gift & the anthology Dashing Through the Mall. One lucky commenter will win both! To enter, simply answer the following question in the comments section below. (You have until midnight, Saturday, December 15, 2012 to enter. US mailing addresses ONLY.)

Giveaway Question: Who is Darlene’s favorite Steelers player?

(HINT: The answer can be found in the “About Me” section on Darlene’s website.)

24 thoughts on “Darlene Gardner Swims with the Mermaids

  1. Hahaha, at first I thought I was going to have to tell Darlene who her favorite Steeler would be! I’m glad to see that pressure was not on me and hers is Troy Polamalu! He does have the sweetest, softest voice.

    Great interview ladies and thank you so much, Darlene, for swimming with us today. I loved the unique blurb for Wishing on a Christmas Star and also the Dead Ringers with the beachside carnival. Cool!

    Thank you for being so giving with your advice too. Happy Holidays!

  2. Great interview! Hi Darlene! *waving maddly and splashing in the lagoon*
    I have to admit I’m not a big sports fan (but I do have to watch my Army/Navy Game each year–Go Navy!) but I think I know the guy from the commercials, too. Troy Polamalu!

    I loved the blurb for Wishing on a Christmas Star! It sounds like such a hopeful story. Good luck with sales!

    I raise my cup of vanilla bean latte to you this morning 😉

    Have a great “lucky” day to you and all my Mer-sis’s out there!! 😀

  3. A big, huge thank you to Darlene for being with us today!!!!

    The Christmas Gift (one of the books Darlene is giving away) is one of my personal favorites! I love a good Christmas romance and this one is awesomesauce!

  4. I’m thrilled to be here today. Kerri asks such great questions. Every writer’s journey is different, but I hope some pieces of the advice resonate. And now back to online Christmas shopping! Only when the shopping is done will I truly be able to enjoy the season.

  5. What a fun interview! Great questions, thanks for sharing. I am a Steeler Fan so it is also nice to ‘meet’ another member of Steeler Nation.

    To answer the question of who is Darlene’s Fav. Steeler = Troy Polamalu! Wooo Hooo

    Happy Holidays

  6. Since he has children, my brother’s favorite curse word is friggin’. It had been something else. Your favorite player is Troy Polamalu. It’s got to be the hair.

  7. Great interview, Darlene!

    Darlene is one of my favorite authors, Mermaids. And I’m not saying that just because she’s my critique partner. I love everything she writes!!! She is also VERY smart about the industry, so listen to what she says!!!

  8. What a terrific interview A lot of fun facts and great advice. It made me want to have you over for coffee…drop in any time you’re in the Steeler Nation! I also love a good Christmas romance book (Hello…where do you think Kerri gets it from!) and I’m really looking forward to reading yours.
    If you’re feeling some warm Hawaiian tropical breezes, it’s coming from me waving my Terrible Towel, thinking of your favorite steeler, Troy Palamalu, and looking at a picture of Kerri dressed in her Steeler garb!
    Good Luck with the Christmas shopping and have a wonderful holiday.

  9. Welcome to the Mermaid Lagoon Darlene and great interview ladies! Thank you for all of the sage advice Darlene. I’m really looking forward to a fire, hot chocolate and your Christmas release. 🙂

  10. What fun comments. You know, I paid Diane Gaston to say all those nice things about me. Not really. But I would have!

    So nice to find out Danielle’s also a Steelers fan and to “meet” Kerri’s Mom! Don’t think I won’t barge in on your one day waving my own terrible towel, Kerri’s Mom.

    As for Troy, I’m really not in love with the hair. I’m with Carlene. I love the sweet, soft voice that’s so at odds with his wild, aggressive style of play.

    Mary Jo, I think friggin’ is funny mostly because my son used to say it when he was seven or eight, as in “What’s that friggin’ Michael doing in my yard?” and “I’m gonna watch some friggin’ TV” and “Do I have to do my friggin’ homework?” My husband put a quick stop to that phase!

  11. Great interview, ladies! Darlene, I have to say I’m a bit in awe of you now after this interview. My favorite parts: “Writer’s block is a luxury a novelist under contract cannot afford” and tennis is your biggest distraction. Really?!! Boy, I wish my biggest distraction was some form of physical activity! Your books sound super intriguing and congrats on the new releases! Thanks for splashing with us in the lagoon!!

    1. Pintip, I didn’t explain the social aspect of my tennis life. I’m on a few teams that serve lunch after the tennis matches. At first, I thought there was no way I’d ever have time for something like that. Now I love it! Only the home team brings pot-luck items, so you’re treated like an honored guests if you’re a member of the away team. My tennis friends in general are really social so we usually sit around and talk after we play for fun. Or go out for bagels. Except, of course, if I have a deadline! My line lately has been I can participate in only one leisure activity a day.

  12. Troy Polamalu! What a great name for an athlete, must watch me some Steelers and see what all the fuss is about. Many thanks to Kerri and Darlene for putting together this excellent interview – and especially thank you to Darlene for your wisdom. I must say, my jaw dropped at the thought of a seven-year dry spell.

    All the selling authors I know seem to have had deadline writing jobs that force them to learn the quick draw. What’s a writer to do who hasn’t had that kind of “command performance” training?

  13. Thanks for visiting today, everyone! And, of course, a very special thank you to Darlene!

    The giveaway is still going for another 24 hours. Fingers crossed for you!

  14. I abstain from the drawing having won another book previously. Just wanted to say that I love Darlene’s writing and am exciting to hear about her wildly different new project. It’ll be on my must-read list as soon as it’s out!

  15. Great interview, Kerri. Welcome to the pond, Darlene!
    Thanks for the great advice for writers, whether you’re published, PREpublished or just starting out. It’s true that you can’t fix a blank page, but sometimes going back to revise feels worse than the blank page. LOL.
    Isn’t it funny that our own favorite books end up being the sentimental, older ones? Those first characters just grab hold of you and don’t let go. Although I highly doubt I’ll ever go back and revise that first one, it’s still my favorite.
    Thanks for joining us, Darlene. Your books sound amazing, and I’ll have to put them on my TBR list. 🙂
    Happy Holidays!

Comments are closed.