Spotlight Interview and Giveaway with Catherine Hemmerling
Historical Romance author Catherine Hemmerling is here today with a fantastic interview. She is here to discuss her newest release from the Lady Lancaster Garden Society Mystery series, Enticing Her Unexpected Bridegroom. Please help me make her feel welcome.
Catherine will be giving away a free copy of her book (ebook). We will also being giving away a $20 Amazon gift card. Be sure to leave a COMMENT here on the blog or on the facebook post in order to be entered into the random drawing. A winner will be drawn and announced on February 2nd, 2016 @ 5pm
Before we get into your book, let us talk about you.
Catherine Hemmerling has been a technical writer in the software industry for nearly twenty years and has published many user manuals and technical documentation in that time. She has always had a love of writing fiction but has never pursued publication in that genre until recently.
This author happily resides in Tehachapi, California with her family.
Do you have a day job?
I used to be a Technical Writer and I loved it, but my dream has always been to be a novelist. I have been lucky enough to retire from the high tech world I lived in for 25 years and am now able to focus all my time on writing fun fiction.
What is your favorite color?
Tell us about your greatest adventure?
Aside from this roller coaster as a writer, I suppose back-packing around Europe tops the list. Eight countries in thirty days with my best friend? It doesn’t get much better than that.
What is your biggest fear in life?
Failure. I have always been an overacheiver. It’s a hard thing to stop being. I was at the top of my field as a technical writer. As a romance write, I’m still learning the ropes. It’s a dagger to the heart to get a 1-star review, but it happens. I am quickly learning that you can’t please everyone. And that’s ok.
What is your greatest accomplishment?
I have successfully followed Maya Angelou’s advice (paraphrasing here) “that just because you are in pain, doesn’t mean you have to be one.” I have suffered from a chronic disease since I was 17. It’s hard not to whine and moan when you hurt, but I have learned that I have a heck of a lot more to be thankful for than I have to complain about. I’m proud of that.
Do you have any unique talents or hobbies? (besides writing)
My mom and I have a small arts and crafts business called Petals and Leaves. I make jewelry and knitted fiber-arts for the business and she makes bags and crocheted good. I also paint and sculpt when I can.
How do you spend your spare time?
Crafting or writing. I also watch a lot of Netflix. I don’t like silence much. I always have a show or music playing as background noise.
Who is/are your biggest supporter(s)?
My fiance and my mom. Well, pretty much all my family. My sister was almost as excited when my first book came out as I was. She made me cry (in a good way). I have been blessed with supporters.
If you weren’t an author what would you be?
Right now? A lazy bum probably. But originally, I wanted to be a teacher if I couldn’t write.
If you could live in any time period which would you choose and why?
That’s tough. I am very fond of the regency period that I write in, but I am more fond of indoor plumbing and showering regularly. I suppose there is something appealing about the 50s and 60s. Seems like a more innocent time. Bottom line though, I’m happy where and when I am. Nothing beats being an 80s kid!
When did you first start writing and when did you finish your first book?
I started writing stories as a kid. I finished some short stories in college. But try as I might, I could not finish a book-length story. It wasn’t until I had a dream about Lady Lancaster and her girls (yes, an actual dream) that I was able to sit down and crank out an honest-to-goodness book. I actually finished it in about 6 weeks. And while I was waiting for an agent to pick it up (God willing) I wrote book 2 and 3. I had finished the first 3 books in the series in just under 8 months. It just poured out. Crazy.
How did you choose the genre you write in?
I wrote what I loved; romance. I’m branching out into different genres now, but initially, I had to go with something near and dear to my heart.
Is there a genre/subgenre that you haven’t written that you would like to try?
I’m working on a straight up detective book now. I also want to try writing a male protagonist, but originally I wanted to write young adult fantasy. I still want to try my hand at that.
Where do you get your ideas?
Dreams. Pretty much always. I keep a notebook by my bed, because if I don’t write it down right when I come out of the dream, I’ll never remember it in the morning. The inspiration comes from dreams, but it takes a lot of time and imagination to get a book out of the dream.
What comes first, your characters story or the plot line for the book?
Characters, for sure, but the plot line comes soon after. I can’t write just off the top of my head. I need an outline to remind where I want to go. I must say, though, sometimes the characters have other ideas and I have to adjust my outline. They definitely take on a life of their own.
Do you ever experience writer’s block?
Not in the traditional sense. I’ve never had a problem finding the story once I sit down and start writing. I do have days (weeks) where I am too tired to write. Days where I can’t think straight enough to string sentences together. Part of my illness, I’m afraid. But I always find a way to get back to that place I need to be to write…eventually.
Is there any particular author or book that influenced you in any way either growing up or as an adult?
I have been hugely influenced by Jane Austen and, also, Julia Quinn. I suppose there is some Nancy Drew in there, too. Jane Austen inspired the historical aspect, Julia Quinn, the overall feel, and Nancy Drew, the mystery.
Can you tell us about your challenges in getting your first book published?
I had far fewer than I have heard from other authors. I sent out 70 or so query letters to literary agency over a three month period. I received maybe twenty or so responses. All “thanks, I’ll pass” letters. But one showed interest and asked for the whole book. Then asked for some changes (I’ve always suspected my agent was testing my willingness to make changes to “my baby”). Apparently my changes passed muster and I was signed. Not long after, I had a publisher. The rest is history. All in all, less than six months passed between me finishing the book and me receiving a publishing contract. Highly unusual from what I understand.
If you had to go back and do it all over, is there any aspect of your novel or getting it published that you would change?
Not a thing. It’s all a learning opportunity. I wouldn’t be the author, writer, novelist I am now if I hadn’t gone through all the stuff I did to get hear. Plus I had a pretty easy go to get published, remember? I would have liked to know about my addiction to adverbs earlier on, but that’s a whole other matter.
What process do you use to research for your book?
Lots of googling. I also read old newspapers from the regency period. You’d be amazed at what you can find online. For book two (Romancing His English Rose), I followed the procedures detailed in an actual murder case held and transcribed in 1814. Research is fascinating to me. I actually found a tradition (from the 1600s I think) where woman would fashion eyebrows out of mouse pelts and wear them!
Who has been your favorite character thus far?
Tough one… I want to be Lady Lancaster when and if I ever grow up, but I think I identify with Sarah the most. I have always been, and will always be, a clutz. I don’t think I grew into my height very gracefully either. I also have absolutely no filter. Both have caused me no end of troubles, as well.
Who has been the hardest character to write about? What character has given you the most trouble?
I think Emily (her book will be the fifth in the series) will be my most challenging. She is a true beauty inside and out, but I have never been the “belle of the ball” ad that is definitely the role I cast for her. It will be interesting writing a character that has all the men lusting after her.
What character, that you haven’t written/released yet, are you most looking forward to sharing with your readers?
Well, I’ve written this character into all the books, but I’m taking leave to focus on the second part of your question. I hope, hope, hope I get a chance to write Lady Lancaster’s story. You know, before she became the paragon she is in my other books. I think readers would be interested in the love story between her and the oft quoted Duke.
What project are you working on now?
I am currently working on book five of the Lady Lancaster series and book one of a new series. The new series is a detective/mystery set in current times. A bit of a departure, but it’s been fun exploring the new genre.
What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author? What has been the best compliment?
The worst critism I have received was a “did not finish” rating on Goodreads for my first book, Taming Her Forbidden Earl. Some of the comments were pretty harsh. I was particularly scarred by “lame banter is lame”. I think it was first strong lesson I learned that I will never be able to please everyone. As far as compliments, I think reviews that say they loved the book so much that they have to go buy the others is the greatest compliment any author can receive.
What is the last book you read? Are reading now? Looking forward to reading?
This is a touchy subjest. I am (or was) a voracious reader, but now that I am writing, I am sooo concerned I may subconciously steal an idea from another book, that I hardly read anything at all. Plagiarism is an awful thing to do to a writer, even unintentionally. I’m probably being silly, but that is the actual reason I don’t read much anymore.
How do you decompress after typing The End on a book?
A nice glass of chilled Moscato, of course. :o)
What is the best way to celebrate after a book release?
A nice glass of chilled Moscato, of course! LOL
Tell me about your book/release, Enticing Her Unexpected Bridegroom.
Give us a 30-word or less tagline:
Their unexpected marriage will either end in rapture… or ruin.
1. Who is your intended audience and why should they read your book?
I suppose my intended audience is romance and mystery lovers. You get both in this book. I also use an actual historic event to mold the story around, so history buffs may enjoy this read too.
2. How did you come up with the title of your book or series?
Oh, you had to ask! Titles are my kryptonite. I usually pitch a half dozen before my publishing team finds one they like. My original title for this book was Loving the Lady Sarah, but it didn’t quite fit in with the other titles in the series, so I had to go back to the drawing board.
3. Tell us a little bit about your cover art. Who designed it? Why did you go with that particular image/artwork?
My publishing team does the artwork. They send me an extensive questionnaire that tells them about the book, the main characters, and the types of covers I like. They also ask for examples of covers I don’t like. In the previous books, I had tweaks and fixes for the cover. This book’s cover was perfect from the get-go. I love my team!
4. Tell me about your Hero and Heroine?
Sarah and David…such a fun couple. Sarah has been in love with David for years. He is her best friend’s brother, so they know each other pretty well. Or so they thought. Sarah is uncommonly tall, clumsy, awkward, and terribly outspoken. David is a gentleman in this book, but he had some growing up to get there. He was a bit of a rascal in his youth. They both have a lot to learn about each other, but about themselves as well.
5. How do you come up with your characters names?
This is a crazy story. I came up with this series in 2011. I searched the popular baby names for 1814 to get the first names. The last names are from a list of the peerage for England. I wanted to make sure I chose typical British names. The crazy thing is that I chose the names Sarah, Emily, David before even starting the series. In 2012, I met my, now, fiance. His name is David. He has two daughters. Their names are Sara and Emily! Such an amazing coincidence.
6. Are your Characters modeled after any one in your life?
Actually all the female characters, except the villains, are modeled in some way after me. I suppose you write what you know. The leading men are just what I think an ideal man could/should be. Not perfect, just perfect for their partner.
7. Who is your favorite character from your book and why?
Well, I love Sarah, of course, but I’m partial to Sam in this book. He isn’t a huge character, but he packs a fun punch. Little boys are scamps, you know?
8. What was your favorite chapter to write? Scene? Why?
I love when Sarah falls. I picture Sandra Bullock in Miss Congeniality. That woman can take some falls.
9. Do you have a least favorite character? What makes them your least favorite character?
I am not a fan of the odious Earl, but the magistrate really annoyed me. I don’t like yes-men.
10. If you could change ONE thing about your novel, what would it be? Why?
In the acknowledgments, my step-daughter’s name is spelled incorrectly. It should be Sara Hammons. I think with the character name being Sarah, the misspelling went unnoticed. I feel really awful that I didn’t catch it before it went to print.
11. Give us an interesting fun fact or a few about your book or series:
All the books are based on actual historic events. I think that adds a little extra something. As a result I tried to be as accurate as possible with the historic details in the book. Street names, business names, etc. aren’t used if I couldn’t find reference to them in 1814.
12. How can we contact you or find out more about your books?
Like me on Facebook! My website is under construction, but in the future you can also find me at www.catherinehemmerling.com. I love to hear from my readers, so please look me up!
13. What can we expect from you in the future?
Hopefully more and more books. I also made a new years resolution to be better at blogging. Fingers crossed, huh?
14. What can readers who enjoy your book do to help make it successful?
Spread the word. Also, please take the time to comment on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or wherever you buy the book. But mostly, just keep reading.
15. Do you have any tips for readers or advice for other writers trying to get published?
First, finish the book. Then buy the latest edition of The Guide to Literary Agents. It is a great resource. And finally, be patient. It takes time. And while you wait, write another book, or two.
16. Is there anything else you’d like to say?
I’m about to the point I’m going to have to start making things up, so I think we’re good. :o)
17. And now, before you go, how about a snippet from your book that is meant to intrigue and tantalize us:
“We are talking right now, Sarah-dear,” David responded tightly, “and as your husband, I may call you anything I like.”
“No, you may not!” Sarah cried, throwing down her napkin and standing abruptly. “You may have married me, but we are not husband and wife. And this—” At which point Sarah gestured wildly to the farce of a breakfast before them. “Is not talking. This is…this is…this is idiotic!”
And with that, Sarah spun around, tripped over her chair, and fell face first onto the plush carpeted floor with an inelegant “oomph.”
Apologizing profusely, Lord Cardigan made his way over to his daughter and began removing her forcefully from the party, but apparently not before Lavinia saw the grateful smile Sarah gave David.
Pulling away from her father, Lavinia skewered Sarah with a look and said nastily, “It was you, wasn’t it? You were the one to break my gift.”
Feeling like a fly that has been pinned to a mat, Sarah was unable to move, unable to say anything. Hannah, however, stepped closer to her friend and took her arm reassuringly. “How dare you! You heard my brother say he broke it. What right do you have to accuse Sarah?”
David, too, stepped forward, and now both Rochesters were flanking Sarah protectively. “Yes, Lavinia…are you calling me a liar?”
Seeing that she was outnumbered, Lavinia wisely said nothing. Instead she allowed her father to finally lead her from the room, but not before she gave Sarah one last evil glare. After Lavinia and her family were gone, the party began to break up. But Sarah remained where she was, wracked with guilt.
Hannah and David remained where they were, as well, and Sarah took the opportunity to set the record straight.
“Hannah,” she said with a gulp, “Lavinia was right. David didn’t break the figurine. I did. But it was an accident, I swear.”
Hannah rolled her eyes. “Of course it was an accident, Sarah. Don’t think on it again. Yes, it was a pretty bauble, but it was from Lavinia,” she said, pronouncing her name like it was the plague or pestilence, “and I would have had to hate it on principle. That girl is rotten to the core.”
Sarah choked on something close to laughter and was surprised by how much better she felt knowing Hannah didn’t harbor her any ill will for her clumsiness.
“The question is,” Hannah continued, her eyes narrowing slightly as she looked at David, “why did my brother confess to something he did not do?”
David shrugged. “I knew that Lavinia would raise holy hell when she found out the bird was broken, and I could see Sarah was upset enough already. She didn’t need to deal with that little witch on top of it all.”
And that was it. That was the moment Sarah fell in love. Head over heels in love with David Rochester. Lord help her if Hannah ever found out.
“Oh, thank you, David,” Sarah sighed, looking up at her newfound hero.
Oh great, David thought to himself. He had seen that look before. What was it with girls anyway? Always falling “in love” over the stupidest of things. Well, that would teach
him to be nice to the little chit. Well, never again, he swore.