I was given the opportunity to read the third in the Candy Collection Series, Harvest Treats, which are a collection of novellas by the in house authors of Renaissance Romance Publishing.
This compilation of 4 stories was captivating and unput downable. Here’s a quick breakdown of the 4 stories and my thoughts on each one.
The Journey Home
by Lisa Bilbury
The Sharks’ star quarterback, Travis McCoy has it all, until an injury ends his season early. When he receives an invitation to attend the big homecoming game from his alma mater, Travis decides it’s time to face his past. The journey home sends Travis down a path that he never expects. Will he be able to come to grips when everything around him is spiraling out of control?
I was so drawn into this story. The characters, especially Max, felt so real it was as if I was watching a movie unfold rather than reading words. It deals with mistakes, hope and ties them all together brilliantly.
Love Something Fierce
by S.A. Jones
Claire Beausejour is a single mother working two jobs, and putting up with the daily antics of her three roommates, as she tries to better the life she leads for herself and her daughter, Hope. That is until she meets Dawson Williams, best friend to Hope’s father. Despite the circumstances, a friendship begins to develop between Claire and Dawson, leading to events neither could have ever expected.
I have to admit, I wasn’t as drawn into this story as much. It has nothing to do with how it was written as it was written very well, I simply couldn’t connect with the main character of Claire. The story was a lovely mix of angst, sadness and eventful happiness.
10 Days to Love
by Michele Richard
Richie Graham and Danielle ‘Dani’ MacDonald have been best friends for four years. Now that the time has come to leave Old Orchard Beach for college, the countdown begins to say goodbye. The race to close down her family’s motel for the season and for their hearts begins. With ten days left, will they see what’s always been right in front of them? Or is there too much left unsaid?
This slow burn of a story about missed chances and hidden glances really struck a chord with me. After all, who hasn’t assumed their feelings are unrequited. Throughout the story I was almost yelling at the main characters to just kiss or something. Very sweet and beautifully written.
My Apple Tree
Elizabeth M. Lawrence
David Cleary and Katie O’Connell had the perfect love. When they are separated by tragedy, David is devastated and refuses to move on — until he meets Emily “Mel” Wallace. Gun-shy Mel understands how a heart can break in the aftermath of violence. Although neither of them want to love again, the attraction between them is difficult to resist. David wants to keep Mel safe, but first he will need to risk his heart.
I loved the simplicity and honesty of this story. Also, one of the best lines out of all four is “He was surprised to discover he wanted to kiss his best friend a bit more than he ever wanted to go fishing.” I went through an entire repertoire of emotions whilst reading this story and commend the author on managing this.
Speaking of commending the author… I was granted an interview with Elizabeth M. Lawrence, so here it is…
Firstly, tell me a little about yourself…
I was born (obviously) in a university town in Kansas, which is where much of my extended family still lives. After moving around a bit, my parents and I ended up in Cleveland, Ohio. I got married soon after college and brought my husband back with me. We now have two sons, three cats, one mortgage, two coffee makers, and enough dust bunnies to repopulate a planet.
1) How did you start writing?
I don’t really remember a time when I wasn’t writing. I remember hiding under my bed and drawing the stories in my head since I didn’t know the alphabet yet. In college, I majored in English literature, but every adult around me insisted that there was no way I was going to be able to pursue a career as a professor or writer if I wanted to eat regularly. Eventually, I became a paralegal specializing in Intellectual Property law, but I left to stay at home shortly after my oldest child was diagnosed with Aspergers Syndrome, which is on the Autism spectrum. While I was still working, I continued to write, but it wasn’t until I became a stay-at-home mom that I dared to consider pursuing writing as a career.
2) I know you also work with RenRom as editor in chief, how do you juggle this and being a freelance writer?
As with any job, there are times of frantic activity and periods of calm between the storms. I don’t know a single working mother who doesn’t struggle with balance to begin with, so I’ve become somewhat accustomed to being pulled in several different directions at once. I do try to avoid working on my own writing while in the middle of editing someone else’s manuscript. It’s important not to let the line between editing and rewriting get blurred. If I’m in “writing mode,” I will want to change someone else’s writing to match mine, and that’s not what I’m there to do. I do have plenty of support from RenRom itself – we have a wonderful team of people who are willing to jump in and help if things need to be juggled. I also disappear for the month of November to participate in National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo, which involves a worldwide challenge to write 50,000 words in thirty days. My longer works in progress came out of past years’ projects, and it certainly is my most prolific writing period. In a nutshell, if I’m not editing, I’m writing – but I’m always doing one or the other.
3) Where did the inspiration for My Apple Tree
My Apple Tree is a story I began several years ago, and it has evolved a lot since the original draft, much like an old house that has had wings and extensions added to it as the years pass. The story of young lovers torn apart is the earliest portion and was inspired by Sinead O’Connor’s version of the Celtic ballad “I am Stretched on Your Grave,” which appeared on her album I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got. It is a beautiful and haunting song, and it’s hard not to listen to it and not see the young lovers in your mind’s eye. At first, I had no plans to develop my story beyond that, but some other influences gradually mixed themselves in. Hope began to emerge, and what was once a story of heartbreak and despair became something more as the characters took on a mind of their own and sought out love and healing. When I went to visit family last May in Joplin, Missouri, and saw the damage from the tornado that had torn apart that community one year earlier, the last piece fell into place. Hopefully, the end product is an honest and faithful portrait of grief, healing, and the importance of the life-affirming influence of love in our lives.
4) Do you have any projects in the pipeline that you can speak about?
I have two novels currently at different stages of completion, which is a nice way of saying that I will be monkeying with them until someone from RenRom comes and forcibly drags the manuscripts away from me. One is an historical romance titled The Truth Seekers, which takes place at the turn of the century and deals with the friendship that springs up between a society daughter and a misanthropic, cynical gothic novelist. Because of its historical nature, working on it is a more delicate process, so I have a hard time anticipating when I’ll feel like it is fit for public consumption. Another novel, The Irrepressibles, is a contemporary mystery-romance with elements of the paranormal and comedy mixed in. It is more typical of my normal writing style, with wise-cracking lead characters and hilarity mixed in with the more serious feelings and dilemmas. At the moment, it’s in the stage known by professional writers as “a hot mess,” but I hope to finish work on it sometime in 2013.
5) Will you ever incorporate your love of Doctor Who with your writing?
Ooh, good question! Unfortunately, my answer has to be “yes and no.” Like the hopeless fangirl I am, I already know what is involved in writing an actual Doctor Who novel, and I’m not prepared to run that particular gauntlet. However, I have gotten flashes of inspiration from watching the show that exist now as random snippets and notes somewhere in the bowels of my laptop. David Tennant and Christopher Eccleston’s portrayals of the Doctor, in particular, are almost impossible NOT to be inspired by. In these days, it’s supremely important to avoid even a whisper of copyright infringement, so while I might get an idea that is triggered by a bit of one episode or another, you won’t be seeing any time-traveling aliens from me any time soon. I would love to write a novel that is good enough to get a film version starring David Tennant, but I’m not going to hold my breath for that one!
6) What’s your least and most favourite aspects of the writing process?
I think my least favorite part of writing is the inner editor. The voice in the back of my mind that constantly pushes me to find better phrasing or improve characterizations won’t ever shut up long enough for me to just sit and relax and write. If my muse is the angel sitting on my shoulder, my inner editor is the devil perched on the other side. I think that’s why I tend to do my first-draft writing late at night or early in the morning when I’m not completely awake. When I’m totally alert, I’m second-guessing myself too much to get anything done.
My favorite part would have to be what goes on in my mind’s eye as I get a new idea. I love seeing a scene play out unexpectedly in my head. It’s by far the best part of being a creative person – that vivid imagination that lets you really see the world you’re trying to recreate for your audience. It’s like magic.
A HUGE thank you to Elizabeth for her time in answering these questions… and for also reigniting my love for the wonderful David Tenant!