Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Sara Walter Ellwood's Sea Monkey Author Interview!

Please welcome Sara Walter Ellwood to Tongue in Cheek today.
A.Q. - Thanks for agreeing to answer some interview questions about yourself and your book.
S.W.E. - Thanks for having me here today, Ava!
A.Q. - So, What is your book about? 
S.W.E. - Sure, Gambling On A Secret is a contemporary western romantic suspense. Here’s the blurb and excerpt.
When Charli bets everything on a secret, will she find the deck stacked against her? 
Former runaway-turned heiress Charli Monroe is hiding her sordid past and planning a future in Colton, Texas. Attending the local college for a degree in social work, she intends to raise cattle on her newly purchased ranch, which she plans to open as a home for troubled teens. Only a few glitches—the Victorian mansion is crumbling, the barn needs a roof, and her oilman neighbor wants more than friendship. When she meets Dylan Quinn, Charli is willing to take a chance on the town drunk to help her rebuild the rundown ranch.
Dylan has his demons, too. The former Special Forces commander can’t get past his ex-wife’s betrayal and the botched mission that left him with much more than a bad limp. Certain the greedy oilman next door to Charli wants much more than just her heart, Dylan’s even willing to stop drinking in order to protect her.
When things get dangerous and secrets of the past are revealed, is he only looking out for his new employer, or is she the new start he so desperately needs?
“Ferguson, what are you doing here?” Dylan barked.
Leon ambled toward them on the stone path. “I’m saving a young maiden from torment. What are you doing here, playing the part of the devil?”
“I’m Miss Monroe’s new manager.” The deadly edge of his voice matched the flintiness of his eyes. “If there’s anyone to save the young maiden from, it’s you.”
“Mr. Quinn, please.” She turned to Leon. “Leon, is there something I can do for you?”
He smiled, showing off perfect white teeth in a face handsome enough to belong to an actor. “I was just passing by on my way home and decided to stop. How are the boys working out?”
Dylan’s stance widened and his hands flexed at his sides. “What boys?”
“Charli and I have entered into a business arrangement.”
She lost the battle with the urge to wrap her arms around herself. As much as she appreciated Leon’s kindness, respected him, and was even a little attracted to him, something about him didn’t sit right with her. He represented her peers in the community. According to Mrs. Pratt, besides the Cartwrights, she and Leon were undoubtedly the wealthiest residents in the county. No one in Colton could learn about her past. It would ruin her, and Leon, no doubt, had the means to dig up the dirt.
“Really?” Dylan stepped closer to her in a protective manner. Whiskey tainted his breath as the warmth of the exhalations tickled her cheek. “What kind of business arrangement?”
She could protect herself. Dylan Quinn wasn’t any safer than Leon Ferguson. Stepping away from him, she forced her arms to her sides. “Mr. Quinn, I can handle this.”
She faced Leon. “I’m amazed by how much the men got done since starting on Monday. The foreman told me last evening they’d be reseeding another fifty acres for hay this morning. And they have the corrals fixed and started on the fencing in the north pasture.”
“Good, good.” He glanced at Dylan. “I’ll be going, unless you need a more reliable exterminator. I couldn’t help but overhear about your snake infestation. I can give you the name of the company that has gotten rid of the snakes in our lakes over on Oak Springs for years.”
Although he presented the perfect solution, she didn’t the like way Leon had looked at Dylan as he said the word exterminator. “No, Mr. Quinn is quite capable of getting rid of the snake.”
“Oh, I’m sure he is.” Leon tipped his hat. “Let me know if there’s anything else I can do for you, Charli.” Dylan’s jaw tightened as his uncle glanced at him. “It’s good to see you up among the living again.”
Leon headed back to his Porsche. With no pretense of lowering his voice, Dylan said, “Now, there’s a snake no one wants in their garden.”
Upon hearing the jibe, Leon’s shoulders jerked in mid-stride.
Rattled by Leon’s attention and the snake fiasco, she turned on Dylan. “You aren’t off the hook. I want those snakes gone.”
“We’ll see.”
“I hate snakes.” She shuddered and put her hands on her hips. “Maybe I should have asked him who the exterminator is.”

A.Q. - Can you share an interesting behind the scenes tidbit about your story?
S.W.E. - The original title of the book was “Butterfly”, which reflected how I came up with the story after watching a butterfly hatch from its cocoon, and the theme of changing into something better which is heavy in the plot of the book. But my editor said, (rightfully so) “Butterfly” would never suit for a western title. So, she suggested trying to tie the books together with a common word in the title. I came up with “gambling” because the history of the three main families in the books are tied to three gamblers who won the county land in a poker game. Within a few minutes I had titles for all six books---Gambling On A Secret, Gambling On A Heart, Gambling On A Dream, Gambling On A Wish, Gambling On A Song, and Gambling On A Lady.

A.Q. - What is your favorite part of the story writing process?
S.W.E. - Believe it or not, I love the revision/editing process. I find writing the first draft painful at times, but I love to edit and polish that horrible rough draft into a book.

A.Q. - Writing can be such an isolated enterprise. Yet, I’m sure there are people who have helped, guided or inspired you along the way to becoming a published author. Could you tell us about one of them and how they helped you?
S.W.E. - There are several people who stand out, but my very good friends and critique partners D’Ann Lindun, Martha Ramirez and Carol Grosser have been wonderful and helped shape the writer I am today. They each bring something different to my writing and I value their opinions greatly

A.Q. - What are you working on now/next?
S.W.E. - Right now, I’m working on two projects at once—book 3 of the Colton Gamblers called Gambling On A Dream and a standalone I plan to shop around to agents called A Family for Jesse. Both are contemporary western romantic suspenses.
Now for the S.A.T. portion of the interview:
Fill in the blank –
If I were a villain, I would have __cute little puppies and kittens__ for minions to deliver my wrath because __everyone loves puppies and kittens—so they are the perfect Trojan Horse__.  
(And remember, sea monkeys are already spoken for. Mostly)
Sea Monkeys are to ____________ as zombie stinkbugs are to ________________. 

 I have no freakin’ idea!!!!  Sorry.
A.Q. - LOL!! Please tell us where we can find out more about you and where we can buy your books.
Sara Walter Ellwood is an award winning author whose novel Gambling On A Secret was named by bestselling author Carolyn Brown in the Happy Ever After Blog on USA Today as one of her favorite romances of 2012. Although Sara has long ago left the farm for the glamor of the big town, she draws on her experiences growing up on a small hobby farm in West Central Pennsylvania to write her stories. She's been married to her college sweetheart for nearly 20 years, and they have two teenagers and one very spoiled rescue cat named Penny. She longs to visit the places she writes about and jokes she's a cowgirl at heart stuck in Pennsylvania suburbia. She also writes paranormal romantic suspense under the pen name of Cera duBois.

For Gambling On A Secret

For Gambling On A Heart

For Heartstrings:

Author Links
Follow the Second Honeymoon Blog Tour HERE

A.Q. - Thanks again for stopping in!
SWE - You bet!!!


Pat Hatt said...

Sea monkeys are to turtles as zombies are to rodents? That work lol great interview

Carol Kilgore said...

Hi, Sara! Great to see you here on Ava's blog.

Hi, Ava! Sea monkeys are to pirates as zombie stinkbugs are to cowboys :)

Crystal Collier said...

I didn't see the uncle twist coming. That was pretty awesome.

Ava Quinn said...

Loving the creative analogies, Pat and Carol!

Ava Quinn said...

Thanks for stopping in Crystal!

Melissa said...

Great interview, Ladies. And, Sara, you survived the sea monkey interview! :D

Liz Blocker said...

LOVE the puppy and kitten Trojan Horse tactic! LOL. Congrats, Sara! And Ava, seriously, I love these interviews.

debi o'neille said...

Great interview! Now I have to decide what I want to read first, this one or her paranormal romance. I wish I could read twice as fast as I do, because there are so many stories I want to experience.

debi o'neille said...

Had to come back because I couldn't find Sara's paranormal romance on Amazon--then I remembered you mentioned a pen name. I bought Gambling on a Secret and just shared the news on Facebook. Like I said, great interview, and great excerpt. I'll be heading to Sara's blog shortly.

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

I love the editing part too, Sara, though I used to love those first drafts.

Ava Quinn said...

@Melissa- You know how hard THAT is! lol!

@Liz- Thanks! Just you wait. Some day soon you'll be under the gun, sweating the Sea Monkey SATs.

@Debi- You are so fantastic!!!!

@Sue- Thanks for stopping by, Sue! I remember when you went through the gauntlet of Se Monkey SATs!

Sherry Ellis said...

I think your title works well. "Gambling" was a good word choice.

Sara Walter Ellwood said...

Wow! What a fantastic response! Thanks, Everyone, for stopping by.

Pat: LOL love what you came up with... I drew a huge blank.

Carol: Good to see you here too... Love your analogy too. Ava's blog is a hoot!

Crystal: Yeah... Sucks to have a step-uncle only few years older than you... Means step-grandmother is actually the same age as mom. And THAT makes for some juicy back story.

Melissa: Ava's interview was fun!

Liz: Better be careful the next time you see a cute little kitten...LOL

Debi: WOW!!! THANK YOU SO MUCH! I hope you enjoy.

Susan: I find myself struggling more and more with drafting. Editing is so much more fun.

Sherry: It's funny, at first I was like "What? You want me to change my title. It's perfect." But as soon as I came up with Gambling On A Secret, I was like "Now that's PERFECT."

Thanks again, Ava...

Ava Quinn said...

Glad to have you, Sara!

Ava Quinn said...

Thanks for stopping in, Sherry! :)

Lexa Cain said...

I enjoyed reading Sara's interview. I've seen a lot of Western romances recently - 'coz who doesn't love cowboys? - but Sara's has some nice twists and conflicts set up to heighten the stakes. (I have to remember never to accept puppies or kittens from her!)

randi lee said...

What a brilliant interview! Hi Ava, just now getting back to people about their comments for my last week's IWSG post. I want to thank you so much for your words. You truly put a smile on my face. And keep these author interviews coming, they're gold, and I love learning about fellow writers!

Ava Quinn said...

@Lexa- Lol! :D

@Randi Lee- Absolutely! and Thanks!! **blushing** :)

Sara Walter Ellwood said...

Lexa and Randi: Thanks for stopping by!!!

Herding Cats - Burning Soup said...

Ooo a western romantic suspense? I am so in!

Shah Wharton said...

I'm learning all about writing romance right now and this interview was both insightful ...and fun! :P

Thanks ladies"

Kate Larkindale said...

Good interview. And I don't blame you for skipping the sea monkey question. That one's a toughie!

S.K. Anthony said...

Genius! Puppies and kittens are for sure the perfect Trojan Horse lol

Loved the interview, Gambling on A Secret sounds great! Have to check it out. :)

Ava Quinn said...

@Herding cats- Yay! :D

@Shah- Good luck to you and thanks!

@Kate- Why yes, yes it is. lol!!

@S.K. lol! Thanks!

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