Monday, June 6, 2011

Make-A-New-Friend Monday with Kaye Dacus

Some authors can blog every day of the week. Most have some sort of schedule. I can't ever reach a good balance between blogging and writing and besides that I can't believe I have anything to say that others would be interested in. But consistency is key, so I came up with a mon-wed schedule that I think I can maintain and anything above and beyond that is bonus.

So, introducing . . . MAKE-A-NEW-FRIEND MONDAYS! On Mondays I'll introduce you to my writer friends (both published and prepublished because there are a lot of talented prepublished writers out there!), other friends with important missions, and maybe even some of my characters! I thought today it'd only be right to start this new blogging schedule with an interview from a talented author who I'm blessed to be able to call one of my mentors, Kaye Dacus.

Humor, Hope, and Happily Ever Afters! Kaye Dacus is the author of humorous, hope-filled contemporary and historical romances with Barbour Publishing and Harvest House Publishers. She holds a Master of Arts in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University, is a former Vice President of American Christian Fiction Writers, and currently serves as President of Middle Tennessee Christian Writers. Kaye lives in Nashville, Tennessee, and even though she writes romance novels, she is not afraid to admit that she’s never been kissed.

Welcome, Kaye! Thank you for joining us today and being my first "new friend". Also, on a personal note, thank you for all the advice and help you've given me with The Heart's Lullaby (update on that coming up on Writing Wednesday). When one pursues writing for more than a hobby (in addition to having a "real" job, and kids, and a husband, and a house to take care of . . . Need I go on???) it's so important to have a network of writers that truly supports and encourages and you have. So thank you! :o) Now I know my readers would like to get to know more about you, so on to the interview!

Q. When did you first discover that you were a writer?
Even though I started writing when I was a young teen (because I wanted to be able to continue the next day the story I’d been playing out with my Barbies—until one day, I forgot to pick up the dolls and just went straight to the pencil and paper), it wasn’t until I was sixteen or seventeen when I really felt like writing was what I really wanted to do with my life. I just didn’t have anyone around me who knew how to direct me. My parents encouraged me, but they weren’t sure how to give me guidance. I had a wonderful Creative Writing teacher in high school and that was when I knew for sure that I wanted to be like him—I wanted to be able to teach others how to do what it was I loved doing so much. But it wasn’t until much later in my life, at the age of thirty, that I truly thinking about and pursuing publication.

Q. What other books/short stories/articles/poems have you written, whether published or not? 
Having started writing when I was young, I have a bunch of “stuff”—lots of first chapters and story ideas which never got finished (and never will), along with a more than 200,000-word tome that I wrote for almost ten years, based on the imaginary/fantasy lives of my college friends and me—more of a long series of slice-of-life vignettes than a true novel with a single driving plot line. It wasn’t until after I attended my first writers’ conference in 2001 that I stopped playing and got serious about crafting a novel. From 2001 to 2003, I wrote three complete manuscripts. In 2003, I came up with an idea that would, several years later, become my first published novel, Stand-In Groom, which was published in December 2008. Since then, I’ve written eight additional novels, which means that by the end of 2011, I’ll have nine published novels out:

The Brides of Bonneterre
Stand-In Groom
Menu for Romance
A Case for Love
(All three are now available in a one-volume Brides of Bonneterre omnibus)

The Ransome Trilogy
Ransome’s Honor
Ransome’s Crossing
Ransome’s Quest (August 2011)

The Matchmakers
Love Remains
The Art of Romance
Turnabout’s Fair Play (November 2011)

Q. Do you have an all time favorite book? Which genre do you prefer to read and why?
I’ve been such an avid reader since childhood that it’s hard to choose just one book as a favorite. The book that had the greatest impact on my life was one of a series of historical YA romances from the 1980s—Victoria by Willo Davis Roberts. Even more than wanting to remember the stories I’d been playing out with my dolls, this book is what drove me to write, as I couldn’t let go of the characters after their happy ending, so I began writing a sequel. I never finished it—because too many of my own story ideas started taking precedence.

My favorite genre to read is historical romance, especially British and Scottish medievals, probably because those are some of the first historical romances I ever read. 

Q. How do you keep your sanity in our run, run, run world?
You’re implying that I’m sane? ;-)

My friends and family keep me as grounded as I ever get—I know I can call my mom or closest friends at any time and they’ll talk me off the ledge. It’s also one of the reasons why I spend so much time online between Facebook, Twitter, and my blog, communicating with family, friends, colleagues, and readers—sometimes, those online interactions are the only communication I have with others for days at a time. 

Q. What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?
After dropping out of college at age twenty-one, my proudest moment came at age thirty-five when I walked across the stage at Seton Hill University to be “hooded” and accept my Master of Arts degree. Although I know it made my family proud, the greatest sense of accomplishment came from completing what God called me to start in the first place.

Q. What was your greatest roadblock in writing this book and others, and how did you overcome it?  
I had two pretty big roadblocks with this book—the first was a very short turnaround time—only two and a half months from the time I finished writing another book (Ransome’s Quest) and the due date for The Art of Romance. And then, two weeks after the book was due—and with me only about two-thirds of the way finished, I fell and really messed up my ankle—breaking both bones and dislocating the foot, causing a lot of soft-tissue damage. Because I live alone—and in a house with steps to get in and out—I ended up relocating to Arkansas to stay with my parents while I went through surgery and recovery. And while it would seem logical that being laid-up with a broken ankle would be the perfect time to concentrate on writing, it actually made writing harder. Because I’d spent the previous two years constantly on writing deadlines and not being able to take a break from it, my creative well was already dry, so the stress and turmoil of surgery and doctor appointments and everything that went along with the injury, as well as being away from home for so long just compounded that lack of creativity. But what a blessing my parents were (and are)—taking care of me, chauffeuring me around, and giving me the room/time I needed to get my work done. The book was due October 15, and I finally got it finished and turned in on January 3.

Q. What advice would you give to an author just starting out?
The best writing tip I ever received was from Davis Bunn at the 2001 Blue Ridge conference: “Above all else, FINISH YOUR FIRST DRAFT!”

We learn more about writing by actually completing novels than we do by obsessively polishing and editing our first three chapters. So set the beginning aside and get that manuscript finished! And then finish another one. And another one. And another one.
If I hadn’t learned how to write a manuscript all the way through from beginning to end without getting caught up in that revision loop, I never would have been able to publish nine novels in less than three years.

Q. Tell us about the featured book, Art of Romance, - back cover blurb plus what this story means to you.
It was fun to dig into the psyche of an artist for Dylan Bradley’s character—especially since both of my grandfathers were hobbyists (one was an oil painter the other a sketch artist). And then having a heroine who’s a romance novelist. . .let’s just say a lot of me went into Caylor Evans’s character!

This book gave me a chance to write a different kind of hero—a creative-type who’s more in touch with his emotions and who’s more sensitive than most of the male characters I write. . .even more than me in some instances. I know this has created difficulty for some readers who expect the “alpha male” type of hero in a romance novel. But it was nice for me to be able to write a story which turns those stereotypical hero/heroine roles on their head. She’s older, she’s stronger, she’s settled, she’s successful; he’s younger, he’s just come out of an emotionally abusive relationship, he has no job, he’s trying to figure out who he is and what he wants to do with his life.

Here’s the official blurb:
Sassy Evans and Perty Bradley are determined to get their older grandchildren married off, but when twenty-eight-year-old Dylan comes home after being fired from his teaching position because of the betrayal of his ex-girlfriend, Perty knows her grandson has more important issues to deal with first.

Sassy understands her friend’s reservations about timing, but she also sees so many ways in which Dylan would be the perfect match for her thirty-four-year-old granddaughter Caylor. With his record of acclaimed paintings and Caylor’s bestselling novels, they could complement each other’s talents and provide each other support and encouragement. And there’s no denying the spark of attraction between the English professor with the untamed red hair and the painter with the unusual tattoos.

But neither grandmother realizes the secrets both Caylor and Dylan are keeping from each other. Will pain and embarrassment from the past keep Caylor and Dylan apart, or will they develop the courage to be truthful with each other and discover the true art of romance?

Q. How can readers find the book and where can they find you on the Internet? 
You can find out more about my books (with links to all the different buying options) here: 

I blog five days a week at I also love connecting with readers on my Facebook page ( and on Twitter (!/kayedacus).

Bonus question: Tell us one interesting fact about you that your readers would find interesting, and maybe even surprising. 
It’s usually most surprising when people find out that, even though I’m a forty-year-old romance-novel author, I’ve never been kissed—never even had a boyfriend!

Wow! That is interesting. All I can say to that is the fellas don't know what they're missing! And there's so much to be said for your character that you're waiting for your special hero and not settling for a secondary character in the meantime. I hope and pray my two little girls have the same integrity.

I haven't been able to read this book but it's first on my list after I meet my deadline so my review will be coming. In the meantime, my friends, go grab you a copy and let us know what you think! 'Tis pool reading season after all and I'm confident you WON'T be disappointed!


Regina Merrick said...

Great interview, Jen, Kaye! I have to say I loved "The Art of Romance," and can tell that there's a lot of Kaye in Caylor! Thanks for sharing!

Kav said...

Wonderful 'meet and greet'. I'm in the middle of The Art of Romance right now and I'm loving it. The humour is so subtle and I've noticed how each chapter (sometimes even scene) ends with a one line zinger. They make me laugh out loud. If Kaye's out there -- did you plan to do that? Or did it just come out that way?

Jen Riffle said...

Thank you, ladies, for stopping by and for your comments on Art of Romance. I can't wait to read it and add my own comments! Kav, that is a great question that I should've included in my interview! I think Kaye will stop by later and answer that for our inquiring minds. :o)

Jodie said...

Great interview! Oh, and Kaye? I LOVED SUNFIRE ROMANCES. My favorite was Susannah, about the Civil War. :-) All of my Sunfires are in a box in the closet waiting for my daughter to get just a little bit older.

Giveaway Lady said...

Great interview! I am 26 and never been kissed:) I am waiting for the perfect one. I have to say, I LOVE your books and am constantly waiting for the next one. My biggest thing I like is that your heroines are not the normal female. 120 lbs and perfect figure:) I like that!!

Jen Riffle said...

Amen, Charity! I personally am long past the point of relating to a 120lb, perfect figured heroine!

Kathy Harris said...

Jen, I love the new look of your blog.

Kaye, I recently finished reading "The Art of Romance." It's hard to believe you wrote it under the circumstances you describe, because it's a fun book! Personally, I loved the sensitivity of Dylan's character :)

Anonymous said...

Loved the review, and would love to have this book to read!

Deborah M said...

What a wonderful interview. I enjoyed getting to know Kaye a little better. I'm sorry to hear about her ankle. I haven't read any of her books yet, but would love to start.
Deborah M