Welcome to this edition this month to my author series, Q and A with D.G. Kaye. I’m happy to introduce Romance and Multi-Genre Author, Marie Lavender here today to share a bit of herself, her writing and her books, and tell us a little about her book Directions of the Heart – A Romantic Drama Collection.
About the Author:
Multi-genre author of Victorian maritime romance/family saga, Heiresses in Love Series, and 21 other books. Reached the Top 10 Authors list on AuthorsDB.com for the last 4 years. Featured interview in the January 2018 issue of Womelle Magazine. BLOOD INSTINCTS reached TOP 10 status in the Romance category. DIRECTIONS OF THE HEART both reached the semi-finalist round in the 2018 AuthorsDB Book Cover Contest. Voted TOP BLOGGER for 2018 on the Romance Lives Forever Blog. TOP 20 Authors of 2018 on Amy’s Bookshelf Reviews blog. DIRECTIONS OF THE HEART was nominated and made it past the first round in the 2018 Author Academy Awards. UPON YOUR LOVE and THE MISSING PIECE placed in the TOP 10 on the 2017 P&E Readers Poll. DIRECTIONS OF THE HEART was nominated for the 2017
Reader’s Choice Awards. The I Love Romance Blog became a finalist in Start Dating DK’s Romance Blog Awards of 2017. ILRB landed on Feedspot’s 2017 TOP 100 Novel Blogs and TOP 100 Romance Blogs. DIRECTIONS OF THE HEART placed in the TOP 10 Books of 2017 on Amy’s Bookshelf Reviews blog. TOP 20 Authors of 2017 on Amy’s Bookshelf Reviews blog. Mystery Blogger Award for 2017. A to Z Blog Challenge Survivor in 2016. March 2016 Empress of the Universe title – winner of the Broken Heart themed contest and the I Love You themed contest on Poetry Universe. SECOND CHANCE HEART and A LITTLE MAGICK placed in the TOP 10 on the 2015 P&E Readers Poll. Nominated in the TRR Reader’s Choice Awards for Winter 2015. Poetry winner of the 2015 PnPAuthors Contest. The Versatile Blogger Award for 2015. Honorable Mention in the 2014 BTS Red Carpet Book Awards. Finalist and Runner-up in the 2014 MARSocial Author of the Year Competition. Honorable mention in the January 2014 Reader’s Choice Award. Liebster Blogger Award for 2013, 2014 and 2016. 2013 and 2014 Amazon Bestseller Ranking for UPON YOUR RETURN. Winner of the Great One Liners Contest on the Directory of Published Authors.
Marie Lavender lives in the Midwest with her family and two cats. She has been writing for a little over twenty-five years. She has more works in progress than she can count on two hands. Since 2010, Marie has published 22 books in the genres of historical romance, contemporary romance, romantic suspense, paranormal romance, dramatic fiction, fantasy, science fiction, mystery/thriller, literary fiction and poetry. She writes adult fiction, as well as occasional stories for children, and has recently started some young adult fiction. She has also contributed to several anthologies. Her current published series are The Heiresses in Love Series, The Eternal Hearts Series, The Magick Series, The Code of Endhivar Series and The Blood at First Sight Series.
Let’s get to know more about Marie and her writing:
Do some of your own character traits or personal experiences spill into your book’s characters?
A few of my own traits have spilled into some of my characters (for example, being a hopeless romantic), but mainly I let the characters guide me toward their own personalities. All of them are different. However, yes, my personal experiences have colored certain backgrounds for characters, or just events in stories. I believe there’s nothing more cathartic for a writer than pouring those deeply felt emotions about a certain experience onto the page. While I was going through a particularly rough time in my first romantic relationship, I found myself writing a historical romance novel. That became book one of the Heiresses in Love Series.
DG – I can well imagine that it’s not hard for us as writers to incorporate a little bit of ourselves and our own experiences into our books.
Do you have a difficult time choosing titles for your books? How do you choose your titles?
Titles are often challenging. My usual approach is to toss around a few ideas, and then start writing. I can worry about the official title later. As the story develops, and all the nuances come to light, I get a better picture of what might be the best title. Sometimes I know right away what that title will be – a catchphrase or a few words taken directly from a line of dialogue – but I often don’t know the exact title of a book until I’ve finished writing the manuscript. I ruminate on it for a while; let it stew in my subconscious. Then it cleverly falls into place.
DG – I totally hear you. Titles for my own books come easily to me too in a similar way.
Did you have a passion to write as a child? Do you remember the first thing you wrote?
I pretty much always knew I wanted to be an author. I often told my family how much I wanted to write for a living. Stories played out in mind even before I first put a pencil to the page. No, I don’t exactly remember the first story I wrote. What stands out in my mind, though, is one I had to write for a project in the fifth grade. We got our ‘books’ laminated, and I think I titled mine The Mystery of the Golden Chair. I only recall the barest of details about the plot, but I know the story was set in Italy.
DG – Wow! Now that’s impressive – writing a story in 5th grade in a different cultural setting. Makes me wonder how you did the research for such a young little girl. 🙂
Do you find your writing is geared toward a specific audience or do you just write what inspires you to write?
I often let story ideas just come to me. I don’t think about who will read them beforehand. The muse leads me, and I stay true to my vision for the story. If I wasn’t inspired to write something, I think it would be much harder to focus on that project. I wrote a children’s story once, and it became A Little Magick, book two of the Magick Series.
But there was no advanced planning with that one. It came out of nowhere! Had you asked me years ago if I’d ever write a kid’s fantasy, I probably would’ve said no. That’s the funny thing about the muse, though. It takes you to so many unexpected places!
DG – I think it’s incredible that you can write among so many genres!
Would you like to share with us what upcoming projects and/or ideas for books you’re working on?
Chasing Ginger, a romantic comedy and book one of The Misfits Series, should be out soon.
I’m also wrapping up work on a romantic mystery collection, which is titled First Target.
In other news, I plan to submit a young adult mystery story to a magazine. As for additional projects, my initial plan is to work on Magick Sunrise, a lighthearted romantic fantasy and the final book of the Magick Series, after I’ve accomplished the aforementioned goals. I would also like to get back to writing some historical romances again. The process of writing that type of romance novel is never easy, yet it’s so rewarding.
Blurb for Chasing Ginger (I am unsure of the release date, but hope to have it out in late 2019 or early 2020):
Chased by a group of angry men. Saved by quite a hunk.
This is not the résumé Ginger Halloway ever imagined having. But thanks to a miracle pill, which makes her size 22 frame instantly sexy, that’s what happened.
Yet, now Lance Franklin is showing interest in her, and she can’t figure out if he really likes her for her, or if it’s just because of a bizarre drug.
And her wild bunch of friends, The Misfits…well, they’re always getting her into some
So, yep, business as usual. Except for the guy. What the hell should she do about him?
As for Lance, he believes he’s lucky to have found Ginger. But can he convince her they should go for it?
With some new attention from the hottest guy she’s ever met, Ginger can’t help but wonder…is this all too good to be true?
Genre: BBW Billionaire Romantic Comedy
My Inspiration for Chasing Ginger:
The origin story for this book is actually a bit funny. I had posted a meme on Facebook about wishing extreme sexiness came in pill form, and a reader commented on the thread, saying I should write a story about it. My reaction was, “Oh, God! I don’t need one more to add to my numerous works in progress!”
However, the muse had a mind of its own, and lo and behold, a few days later, I’d come up with not only a basic synopsis for the plot of the romantic comedy novel, but also plans for the rest of the series. I guess you never know where a good idea will come from…
DG – Wow, I’m so impressed by the amount of books you’ve written – and are now writing. I truly commend you. And I love the origins of your book Chasing Ginger. This read sounds right up my alley!
Let’s turn our focus to your featured book today – Directions of the Heart. Were there any parts of the book where you struggled?
Yes, somewhat. I had to work hard to dig much deeper than the original drafts for these tales. To get into each character’s mindset and tell the story from his/her perspective. To think about the hardships I experienced in life, and how I might’ve reacted to their specific events. But once I did, I knew that being fully authentic was more important than my fears about getting real with readers. There are dark parts of the human condition told in this collection, and I never shied away from those realities.
Did you get your book cover professionally done or did you do it yourself?
This cover was designed by the amazing Sherry Soule at SwoonWorthy Book Covers!
Universal Buy Link https://books2read.com/u/mY15jG
Embark on a remarkable journey of drama, romance, and passion…
In all of these amazing stories, there’s one burning question…is love worth the risk?
Reece and Jenna are two childhood friends separated by time and distance. Can they find a way to heal their bond, or perhaps forge a new one?
Spurred by her friend’s close call, Victoria decides to take a risk and prove the lifestyle she led was her downfall. But as Tory sinks deeper into the tumultuous abyss of desire with the mysterious Rick, can she climb back out before it’s too late? Or does she even want to?
Struggling to run her family’s farm on her own, Sadie takes on a hired hand, Matt. As they grow closer, so does the danger. Someone wants her legacy. Can they combat this new threat, as well as the demons of the past, before Sadie loses everything, including her life?
A Touch of Dawn
Caitlyn thought she’d be in the dark forever. But with the light came Jack, the police consultant who found her. Can they take a journey of healing together, or will Caitlyn retreat into the darkness of her mind, where she lived for so long?
(CONTENT WARNING: With an abuse awareness theme in this collection, there may be
triggers here for past trauma sufferers. However, HEAs are guaranteed.)
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Drama
My Inspiration for Directions of the Heart:
The idea for the collection actually came from a plan to fully revise and re-release some works from my backlist. But as I went through and decided which novellas to group together, a theme began to take hold. Before I knew it, an abuse awareness theme was threaded throughout each tale. I wanted to focus on PTSD, yet from a perspective that we don’t often think about.
As the tales became more emotional, I experimented with dramatic elements while still
remaining to true to the original romantic vision. Each character had a significant message to impart to the reader, and it all rounds out nicely with the final piece. Caitlyn and Jack will always hold a special in my heart.
Excerpt for Directions of the Heart
Reece ran up the steps to the stage and once he darted across it, a weird vibe like prickles on the back of his neck froze him in place. Slowly, he lifted his head, and his gaze caught a sight he could barely believe. She was hanging, hands behind her on the bar, her hair in a wild fashion around her shoulders like a fan. “Jesus Christ!” He swallowed the lump in his throat and hurried backstage, taking the spiral stairs to the rafters. Opening the door, he crossed the tension platform, then hesitated before proceeding. “Jenna?”
She leaned back against the rail to look at him. “Reece! It feels great up here. The thrill…oh my God, you should try it.”
He couldn’t cease the tight knots in his stomach, and tried to ignore the way every hair on his nape came to attention. An icy sensation shifted in his chest as he saw she stood on a tiny section of extra platform outside the main ramp. Unfortunately, it wasn’t housed in extra railing to secure the occupant, as some stage platforms had for crew members who pulled curtains or lowered props to the stage below. “Jenna, you okay?”
“Yes. I came up here to think about our friendship, how it was deteriorating by the minute.”
He tried to steady his breaths. “Uh-huh. And what did you conclude?”
“I’m not sure. I’m so free right now; I don’t feel like thinking about it. Is that why you came here?”
He wondered if she had gone a little nuts. Keep her talking, that was the only strategy he could come up with offhand. “No, Jenna. I was worried about you. Your mother came to my house and said you didn’t come home. So I went looking for you. But here you are, and you’re acting drunk or as delirious as possible.” He took a deep breath. “Jenn, are you on something?”
She blinked myopically. “Like drugs?”
“Mmm-hmm. Or alcohol.” His gaze briefly skimmed the platform for remnants of a can or bottle.
“No. No, I’m not.”
“To tell you the truth, I don’t even know if you’re thinking of ending things.”
“You mean us?”
Us? There’d never been an ‘us’ with Jenna. Sure, they’d been the dynamic duo, inseparable from the beginning. But ‘us’ implied a lot more than they’d ever be. For some reason, his chest ached at the notion. He shook his head, refocusing. “No. Hurting yourself.”
Jenna appeared to study his face and he watched as she attempted to climb up from the steel strip. As she went to step back over the railing, one of the cables got in the way and her foot slipped.
Only black space appeared – no barrier to steady her – and his heart jumped into his throat as she began to fall backwards, her arms spread out. A scream ripped from her throat.
Reese lunged, grasped at her flailing hands, and then got a better hold on her body to yank her towards him, propelling her back onto the platform. He steadied her quickly; his arms wound themselves completely around her. He pressed his face into her messy hair, aware her heart pounded as wildly as his.
“Oh, God. Oh my God.” Wide, cornflower blue eyes fastened onto him as he pulled away to look at her. “Jesus,” she breathed, her face white, not her usual rosy shade. “I nearly scared the hell out of me. I’m sorry, Reece. That was so foolish. What the hell am I doing?” She winced, as if expecting accusation in his eyes.
He frowned. He hadn’t thought at all, just acted. Though he didn’t know what she’d been thinking, he knew what he felt afterward. Thank God, he thought, his heart rate still increasingly fatal. “I don’t know, Jenna. Maybe it was hysterics? Still, I think it’s good you were afraid of falling. “
“Yes,” she agreed, pulling away from him to step back. She curled her hands into fists at her sides. “Wow, you’re strong. Thank you for saving me.”
“It’s nothing. You don’t need to thank me.”
“But, I do.” She sighed. “I hadn’t realized I’d complicated everything so much, even before this. What with my leaving and pushing you away at the same time…anyway, I’m sorry.”
“It doesn’t matter right now, Jenna. Obviously you needed to sort it out. So, you said you thought about our friendship before?” he managed through a throat as dry as sandpaper. He also wanted to distract them both from what might’ve happened.
She smiled. “This is not even close to being the answer,” she gestured toward the railing.
“Not that I was actually considering such a thing. The risk was appealing, I guess. I know I have people who love me. I’d rather not think about how my mother would react to the situation. It would affect you too.”
“You know I couldn’t live with that.” He took her hand and said thickly, “Come on. I’ll take you home. Your mom is worried sick about you.”
As he drew Jenna to his side and they exited the theater, he gazed up at the stars above and prayed for whatever god was out there to give him more days with her, just as he’d been offered more moments with her tonight.
A great review for Directions of the Heart:
5.0 out of 5 stars – July 25, 2017
“Simply and absolutely ravishing. As a fan of Lavender’s, I was looking forward to reading her collection for stories, and I was not disappointed. The stories she shares, hits the heart emotionally and puts that ever so gentle lump in the throat. The stories were put together very well and fit within the premise of the collection. My favorite of the stories was ‘A Touch of Dawn’ and I was immediately stricken when Jack uttered the words “I won’t be like him” and it
just made the story real, especially when he was dealing with his own issues, with being personal, with intimacy. I read that story twice, and maybe will read it again. A great collection and definitely highly recommended.”
I received this book free in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.” ~Amy’s Bookshelf Reviews.
Thanks for being my guest today Marie. I enjoyed learning about where some of your books ideas originated from and snippets of some of your books. I know Chasing Ginger is a series I will look forward to reading, and I already grabbed my copy of Directions of the Heart. Wishing you much success with your new series. 🙂
Visit Marie on her Social Media and Author Links:
Official Website: http://marielavender.com/
Amazon author page:
Universal Reading List link:
Sign up for Marie’s Newsletter: http://bit.ly/1g3wO13
Follow her on BookBub for new release updates: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/marie-