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

 

*GIVEAWAY ALERT*

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.)