Friday 9 December 2011

Whoopee! Jack Wittingham comes to visit.

Today is my lucky day!

I’m getting to meet this gorgeous hunk wearing the Santa hat. Laura browning will be along in a while, but first I’m meeting Jack Wittingham from Santa’s Helper. (Laura will give us details of Santa’s Helper, newly released two days ago on 7th December, a bit later on.)

Hello, Jack, come in and make yourself comfortable and tell me a little about yourself. Where are you from?

I’m from Kentucky. A city kid. Born and raised there, but spent most of my time as a kid as one of the have-nots. I’ve come a long way since then.

I’ve never been to Kentucky…yet. Maybe someday, but you could tell me what your life is like there?

Like I said, I didn’t have much as a kid, but I swore even back then that my life would change. I’d make it. I started my own construction business and worked my...uh...behind off so I could have everything I’d only ever read or dreamed about. I’ve got a great house now. It’s one my dad used to do odd jobs at. Now I own it. I collect art, too. I like bold, bright work. Fond of Matisse. His later stuff, once he really hit his own stride... Sorry, I tend to go off on subjects I really enjoy.

There’s no problem with a bit of enthusiasm, Jack. I’m hearing you’ve been a bit enthusiastic about a cute little female you recently met. Where were you when you met Merry for the first time?

Ringing the Red Kettle bell outside the mall. Lost a bet with the guys who work for me, so I took over their shifts. Merry was on her way into the mall.

You were ringing the little bell and encouraging the ladies in? Hmmm….don’t think you’d have too much of a problem there, Jack! So what was your immediate thought when you first saw her?

I thought she was a real cheapskate. I mean, she only forked over a buck, you know? I was really embarrassed later when I figured out what was really going on.

Give us a little description of what she was like that day?

She’s beautiful no matter what. I noticed her right off because she seemed so put together like one of those women who never has a hair out of place. She was hurrying along in this perfectly tailored winter coat with a big smile on her face. I figured she was getting ready to splurge with hubby’s platinum Amex. Wow. Was I wrong.

What did you like most about Merry at first?

The very first time I saw her? Nothing. Even her smile ticked me off. I wasn’t in the best of moods. Then she showed up with a cup of coffee, and she was dressed in an elf’s costume. Good lord! I about busted a gut. It dawned on me how off-base I’d been about her.

Aha! So your opinion about her changed pretty quickly then?

Night and day. Here I thought she’d come to the mall to shop and she was there to work part time as an elf. We started talking, and I realized she was working her butt off to support herself and her son, yet she still thought to bring me coffee, and she was amazing with those little kids lined up to see Santa.

Here’s the big question for all the female readers today, Jack. When did you first know you loved her?

She fascinated me from the start, but I think it was when I saw her sit on Santa’s lap to help a little girl get over her fear of the jolly old guy.

If I had Merry on the chair beside me how would she describe you?

Like a bear. She’s so delicate. Like a princess. I must seem pretty big next to her. Self-assured. Successful. Hell, I don’t know. I’m not comfortable talking about myself like that. I hope she knows how much I love her...that I’ll always be there for her and Scotty, that’s her boy.

That’s a really sweet answer, Jack, and I sure hope Merry appreciates you but don’t go away just yet. We’re going to look at a little bit of Santa’s Helper now. The cover is absolutely fabulous and you both look quite...ahem...sssssexy?


Merry Collins is trying hard to live up to her name this holiday season. Between juggling three jobs, contending with a car on its last leg, and her ex-husband suddenly demanding visitation with their son, she’s finding it tough to keep her impish smile in place as one of Santa’s part-time elves.

After losing a bet, Jack Wittingham finds himself ringing the Red Kettle bell in front of the mall for two weeks. A successful self-made businessman, Jack’s not long on Christmas spirit, but a bet’s a bet and he’ll ring for a good cause. So when an elf appears bearing a hot cup of coffee, he's intrigued, especially when she blushes.

Can Merry and Jack put their holiday troubles behind them to open the greatest Christmas gift of all—love?


“I thought you might like a cup of coffee.”

Jack looked down for what seemed like forever to a pair of bright blue-green eyes and curly red hair

sticking out from beneath…an elf’s hat? He blinked. Was he delusional? Had the cold gotten to him to the

point where he was imagining elves?

Her smile disappeared as she bit her lip. “I noticed you when I came in to work. I thought you might be cold if you were still out here. And we—we had some leftover coffee.”

He took the cup from her. “Thanks.”

She shifted from one foot to the other. “Right. It’s black. I hope that’s how you like it.”

“It is.” Jack knew he was making her nervous, but he couldn’t resist. He remembered her now. She was the woman in the tailored overcoat who’d been so cheap…tossing in just a buck. And here she was dressed like an elf.

She hadn’t entered the mall to shop; she’d arrived for work. The woman in the tailored camel hair coat was working as an elf. For whatever bizarre reason, Jack found that intriguing.

She nodded and tucked a strand of hair behind her ear. A small shiver shook her slender frame beneath the costume.

“You’ll freeze out here. You should go in unless elves have some sort of magical protection.”

This time she blushed, as if only now realizing she still wore her elf suit, and nodded her head…Her hands fluttered, and he noticed how fine-boned she was. “I should go inside.”

She turned to hurry away from him.

“Wait!” She stopped and glanced over her shoulder. His gut clenched with sudden desire.

“What’s your name?”

She blinked. “Merry.”


“Merry—like Merry Christmas.”

I’m guessing that she doesn’t run away from you, Jack, but to ask you would be too telling! Never mind though for here’s Laura Browning now. Laura you wrote Santa’s Helper so let’s find out a bit about you.

I live in North Carolina with my husband, son and a menagerie of animals. In addition to writing, I also teach high school English. Teaching is a second career for me. I graduated with a degree in Journalism and spent many, many, many years working as a television news producer. When I switched to the classroom and told my husband I was just a little concerned about getting up in front of a roomful of kids, he laughed and said, “Honey, just pull out the producer voice. You won’t have any problems at all.”

What do you find most relaxing in a typical day then, Laura?

My pets. We’ve got horses, cats, dogs—even a lizard. She’s not exactly oozing personality. However, right now we’ve got puppies and they are such a riot. Sitting down and having them jump up to be cuddled really is a huge tension reliever. We have Jack Russell Terriers and also JRT/Border Terrier crosses. I used to be a large dog breed fan, but the terriers have really won me over. They are always so ready to be where you are doing whatever you want to do.

What have you learned most about being a writer?

Probably the biggest thing I’ve learned is that when you’ve written the first draft—the work is really just beginning. I have immense respect for editors even if sometimes my initial reaction when I see a change is: “How could you not find every single letter and comma absolutely perfect?!”

Do you have a favourite character in Santa’s Helper?

Jack. No hesitation there.

If you spent a day with Jack in Santa’s Helper, what would you most like to do with him?

What rating is this blog?? Well, if Merry weren’t in the picture, I wouldn’t mind finding Jack under the Christmas tree in desperate need of unwrapping.

I’d like to unwrap him too! So what’s next in your writing schedule?

I am working on a series of books about a family who own a newspaper dynasty. Coincidentally, the initial book, Bittersweet, also just released on December 5, 2011 from Lyrical Press.

Where can your readers find you?

I have a website – a blog – I’m on facebook as Laura Browning and Laura Browning Author (I love friending people!) and on Twitter @laurabrowning4.

To buy Santa’s Helper use the link:

One lucky person will be chosen from today’s comments box and will go into a draw to win an ecopy of Santa’s Helper so don’t forget to leave an email contact in the comments box, please. Laura intends to draw the winner on Sunday 12/11 at 10pm EST.

Thank you for coming Jack. You know I think I’m jealous Laura gets to take you away today! Never mind though as I can read all about you soon…in Santa’s Helper. Thanks for coming today, Laura!


Tuesday 6 December 2011

‘She said…he said’ gives a huge welcome to Liz Flaherty!

Hi there! It’s so good to have Liz here today! She’s very kindly agreed to be grilled by me and has given us a lovely ‘early’ peek at her latest novel ‘One More Summer’ that’s soon to be released from Carina Press.

Visitors today, don’t forget that one of you can be our lucky winner if you leave a comment for us. So, no more ado; let's get on and meet Liz.

Hello, Liz! What have you got for us today?

Nancy, thank you so much for having me. I’m so excited about ONE MORE SUMMER. It’s not out yet, but I’ll send a copy of THE DEBUTANTE’S SECOND CHANCE to one lucky person who leaves us a comment today.

How long have you been a published writer, Liz?

Although my first book was published in 1999, I was a newspaper columnist long before that, and had essays and a few short stories “out there.”

You’ve certainly been in the ‘writing game’, in some way or another, for a long time. How many books have you published so far?

This is my fifth, my first with Carina Press.

Will you give us a little peek at your latest release, please?

ONE MORE SUMMER skips back and forth between romance and romance. It’s the story of Dillon and Grace—Dillon shows up fifteen years late for the prom—and of Grace and Promise, her best friend who is fighting breast cancer. Along with an ensemble cast that worked its way into my heart (and my keyboard!), they work their way through heartache, hope, and, finally, deliverance.

That sounds fascinating, so, what would you say is the genre/ subgenre of ‘One More Summer’?

It’s a romance/women’s fiction “hybrid.” Every time I call it a romance, the muse taps me on the shoulder and says, “Hey, are you forgetting those chapters you wrote at three in the morning because they wouldn’t let you sleep?”

Were there any triggers which led to the plotline for ‘One More Summer’?

My mother had breast cancer, my sister-in-law ovarian cancer. The illnesses were devastating. I think the book started out as a catharsis for me, but went on to become much more.

That’s sad to know people so close to you have been affected by cancer. It’s hard to imagine it not affecting what a writer produces sometimes, but…onto ‘One More Summer- what’s your hero like?

Dillon Campbell is a best-selling author bouncing back from loss and a resultant case of depression. He’s also the guy who stood Grace up for the prom fifteen years before the start of the book. He spends the summer making up for it.

Aha! Maybe a little more of the plot divulged here! Do the names for characters just pop into your head as soon as you start a book?

I have the people first. Named and complete with personalities in my head. The story comes later. Word by excruciating word.

What does your heroine think when she first meets Dillon?

LOL—mostly she thinks, Who do you think you are, you jerk?

If cancer plays a part in the novel did you have to do a lot of research?

Quite a bit about breast cancer. The setting, although Peacock, Tennessee is a fictional town, is very real. My sister-in-law Betty lives there and answered questions for me.

What’s your hero's biggest challenge in ‘One More Summer’?

Sharing his pain, allowing someone else to slay his dragons.

I’ve heard other authors saying they have areas of the novel they find more difficult to write. What about you? Is it the beginning, middle or end?

Middle. Because it sucks! J I love beginnings, because it’s all coming at me so fast I can scarcely get it written down—okay, typed—and the end is my reward and it’s leisurely and The middle, however, only comes after I sit and stare at the keyboard for what seems like weeks. Even then, I throw out a ton of what I’ve written there and second-guess all the rest.

Do you have a tendency to write about places you’ve been to…or just ones you would like to visit?

Where I’ve been, just because that’s more comfortable for me. Even then I have to study it to get the seasons right. The weather right. Names right. This is, by the way, a perfectly viable excuse to travel anywhere you like.

Big disclosure time, now! The sensual parts. Do you prefer their sexual scenes to be open and bold? Or left to the imagination?

Left to me, we’d always go to a commercial. I’m not a fan of sex scenes, although I admire people who write them well. I’ve read romance for so long, and the story is always what I’m after. Very sensual parts get in my way. I’m not a prude; they just bore me. Doesn’t mean I think they shouldn’t be in books, just means I don’t want to read them. When I write one, it takes me a period of days, because I have to go back and add to it to give it some depth. I hope they come out all right, but it’s pretty much my least favorite part of writing romance.

Is there one character in ‘One More Summer’ that’s your favorite?

I like women who are strong because they’ve had to be. No big deal. No heroics. No overt drama. And yet they maintain this mushy middle. That’s Grace. That’s my favorite character. That’s who I want to be when I grow up.

I love that! (Don’t I wish that too!) So, what are you working on right now?

A sequel, and I’m definitely doing the type one line, take out two things, so I’m not at all confident of my success!

Don’t we all remove more than we leave? Here was I thinking that was obligatory, Liz!

Well, now, after that I think we’ll move on to something completely different! Let’s have a little peek at your blurb and excerpt from ‘One More summer’. First let's ogle the stunning cover you've brought for us today!