Title: A Menu for Loving
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Synopsis: It started with a simple request for Tony Peay to pretend to be her man for the evening. The problem was Tony enjoyed the role so much of pretending to be her man which led them to his hotel room, where he became a very real lover.
And he wanted the rest of what she had cooked up in the menu in her head. Together, they created the perfect menu for loving.
Author: Olivia Gaines
CH: Welcome to my blog Olivia Gaines. Olivia writes stories about people, life and love.
CH: Can you sum up your book in 20 words or less?
OG: Tony and Jennifer found love when both had given up looking, instead, they trusted their hearts and found each other.
CH: You seem to be able to pull your reader into the story immediately. Do you have a special process to achieve this?
OG: I hate to read a book that has twenty pages of back story. I am busy. I have things to do. When I read I want to get into the story and be invested in the characters. I want a story to transport me into the characters world and make me want to stay to find out what happens next. I guess to answer your question, I write what I want to read. I write stories for today’s woman.
CH: Where do your ideas come from? Do you have a standard formula for plots or do stories come to you as a whole concept?
OG: I love the possibility of…what if? What if Jennifer walks into that bar and the one man she picks to be her fake date is the actual man that she needs. In A Menu for Loving, she makes one statement that sticks in his mind, ‘I need for you to be my man.’ This is a role that Tony P stepped into for a few hours and decided he loved the way it felt and wanted to make it permanent.
Most of my ideas come from an overactive imagination and a bottle of Zinfandel. Once I have the concept, I actually plot the story all the way through from beginning to end, I find images of what the characters look like, then have the cover designed. After all of that, I write the story. I do not have a formula for plots with one exception—in every story, there is a ‘say what now?’ moment. It is also a chapter heading in every story I write.
No two stories of mine are ever the same.
CH: One reviewer said that the book needed editing, but it didn’t stop her from giving the book 5 stars. Can you tell us your feelings on editing?
OG: A good editor is hard to find. I have read New York Times best-selling books that have had some form of gaff in them. Every now and then, there is something that slips through the cracks but I also have a really big dictionary and different writing style that uses a lot of wordplay. Sometimes, readers think it may need an edit, when it is written, as it should be. It is not a typo and that is how it is supposed to be.
I also have had a few readers who have complained that the stories feel rushed. They are not. I move the story along at a different pace with very few lulls and readers are not accustomed to that.
CH: Yes, I understand how readers complain about things that may not be wrong, but just awkward to the reader. On another note, are there any other genres that you would like to write a book?
OG: I would love to write cozy or a murder mystery. I don’t know how, so I am going to leave that alone. I am most comfortable writing literary fiction. I mix that genre with romance and add in a little comedy.
CH: How long have you been writing? How did you start writing?
OG: I am a journalist by trade and have been writing all my life. Literally. I wrote my first story at the age of nine. I was also on my elementary school newsletter, my high school newspaper, and my college newspaper as well.
I was a journalist in the Army, which is where I started my professional writing career.
I started writing because summers in Alabama are hotter than sin. As kids back then, you couldn’t stay in the house, instead you had to go outside and play. I learned that if I was silent, no one knew I was in the house, so I found a book and a quiet place to sit, and I made up stories. Stories about great adventures and little girls who became heroes. I guess I still write that kind of stuff.
CH: Why did you decide to write this book?
OG: I hate cookie cutter books. I wanted to write a story about two people who were both seeking redemption in a different kind of way. Tony P wanted redemption because he felt he had fallen short on his path to faith, and until he got it right, he would never find the right woman. Jennifer on the other hand, had fallen for the smooth talker and had lost her faith in men. She also felt she had prevented her father from finding a woman to share his life, as well as her relationship with her sister needed to be mended. I wrote this story as a beacon of hope for anyone who was afraid to try again.
CH: Are there any books that influenced you while writing this book?
OG: Nope. I write in a vacuum. I don’t read anything before, after or during the writing of a story. I don’t know if I have ever read anything like it. I was looking over some menus when I came across a 21course meal and thought, hey, what if there was A Menu for Loving. I weaved in the 21 courses into 21 chapters, mixed in a bit of faith, stirred it up with some love, added a pinch of steamy, and threw out the descriptive sex.
I wanted my readers to feel as if they had been fed a yummy meal that was a bit different, but still with my humor and not so much sex. It is still a sexy story though.
CH: Where did you get inspiration for your characters?
OG: People inspire me. I challenge myself by writing about women who understand the importance of having a man in their life, but not have their life depend on a man. In A Menu for Loving, Jennifer has the money and he does not, versus the latest trend of the Alpha billionaire. That concept is fine, but I want my characters to be about something more than what they possess.
Times have changed and there are so many fields and careers out there that women have a leading role in now. I want to explore some of those fields. I have written about a scientist, an actuary, a sports medicine doctor, a graphic designer, a fashion designer, a copy editor and more.
The same can be said for my male characters, who vary from a Japanese college professor, a romance writing cowboy, a CIA agent, an entertainment lawyer, a Duke, a construction worker and even a dude that works in an oil field in Alaska.
I cannot see defining a man by his wallet, but by his journey.
CH: Is there a message in your novel that you want the readers to grasp?
OG: Yes, to trust the journey. Not everyone arrives at the desired destination at the same time; for some of us, it takes a bit longer. There will be times we will not get it right, but we can’t spend our lives beating ourselves up over mistakes. Johnny Taylor beat himself up for saying something to his wife that he believed caused her death. Jennifer was punishing herself for trusting in a man she thought loved her. Tony was punishing himself for two bad calls that derailed him from a path to being a minister.
When each character reached a point of acceptance, not only for their mistakes, they were able to begin healing and move forward.
I want the readers to understand that we are all flawed, imperfect and have some ugly spots in our lives. Okay. Acknowledged, not let’s create some really pretty moments. The spots are still there, just not so prominent.
CH: Obviously, your readers love your books. This book is only 152 pages and you have 135 reviews—that’s almost a review per page. How do you gain fans so quickly?
OG: I have no idea. I write stories that touch people. Either they love it or they hate it. The ones that hate it also write reviews.
I am humbled and thankful. I try to write good stories and engaging characters.
CH: You seem to write a lot of short books fast and you are self-published. Is there a certain routine you implement when writing? What is it?
OG: Many of the stories that are out are not new stories. A great number of them have been rejected by publishers. Courting Guinevere, Loving Words and Vanity’s Pleasure, were written years ago. I just released them back to back.
As a self-employed individual, I have to work twice as hard as the traditionally published author. Therefore, I have a production schedule, a marketing plan, a business plan and bi-weekly meetings with my editors and my team. I am a writer, but I am also a businesswoman. I have to keep the business in mind as well. My business is telling stories.
I release two full-length novels a year. The Blakemore’s are released each July and December. This way, the readers know what and when to expect the stories.
I call my shorts an adult summer reading program. They are short so that busy women can sit down, and get all the elements of a big story in half the words. I just take out all the fluff and give you a good short story.
CH: What kind of marketing strategies would you give to up and coming Indie writers?
OG: Know your genre and know your brand. I see many Indie authors following trends; stop it. Write what you know. There are readers out there for every genre and sub-genre. Go find them and write good stuff. If you are loyal to your readers, they will be loyal to you.
CH: Do you have a website?
OG: My website is http://oliviagaines.com readers can also find me on http://Twitter.com/oliviagaines or @Oliviagaines.
CH: Where is your book sold?
OG: A Menu for Loving is in limited release on Amazon until the summer, and afterwards can be found at all online retailers. The paperback will be available in May. Amazon Link: http://www.amazon.com/Menu-Loving-Olivia-Gaines-ebook/dp/B00TXYJU8C/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1431043101&sr=1-1&keywords=a+menu+for+loving
CH: Any closing remarks?
OG: Thank you for giving me this opportunity to talk about my stories. I hope and pray that as I continue to grow as a writer, my readers will see my journey. I am getting better with each story.
CH: Thank you so much Olivia for joining me and my audience.
Don’t Keep this Blog a Secret…Tell Your Friends about it!
Note: Photos are compliments of Olivia Gaines and the Internet.
Readers and followers, please share this post with your friends.
If you find us deserving, please nominate us for Writer’s Digest “101 Best Sites for Writers.” Email: firstname.lastname@example.org with “101 Sites” in the subject line. Type: “Cheryl Holloway Author Blog http://www.CherylHolloway.net/blog in the body of the email. It’s that simple! And “thank you” from all of us!
On this blog, I “Pay it Forward” to other authors by spotlighting them with a Guest Author Interview. I only ask that they too “Pay It Forward” to any other author. ~ Cheryl Holloway
Questions? Comments? Contact : AuthorCherylHolloway@gmail.com or Cheryl@CherylHolloway.net