October 27, 2012

Talking About Animal Crackers @ElleDruskin #amreading

Animal Crackers

Elle Druskin, welcome to Romance Lives Forever. Let's talk about your book, Animal Crackers.
Genre: Contemporary romance, romantic comedy, small town romance (Book 1 of The Liberty Heights series)
Publisher: MuseItUpPublishing
Cover artist: Lex Valentine
Length: 309K, 169 pages, 57,175 words
Heat rating: Sweet to sensual.
Tagline: Was that lap or laptop dancer? Stressed out Hayley Weaver is out of work and out of luck. Stuck in Liberty Heights, stuck with baby-sitting an exotic menagerie and pretty soon, stuck on cutie veterinarian Jake Marx.
You’re fired. Karma really slammed Manhattan workaholic Hayley Weaver. Out of work, out of money and out of luck. In desperation, she grabs the first job offered, house-sitting a movie star’s home. How tough could it be? Water the plants, take in the mail. Oops! Nobody told Hayley the house is in New Jersey and loaded with more critters than the Beverly Hillbillies. Local cutie and veterinarian Jake Marx is dying to meet a woman he hasn’t known since kindergarten. With Jake on animal phobic Hayley’s speed dial, the whole town is in cohoots to give Jake and Hayley their happily ever after.
What are your main characters' names, ages, and occupations?
Life of the Party
Twenty eight year old Hayley Weaver (“Hayley’s Comet”) is a New York workaholic public relations expert. Make that former expert. She’s just been fired and evicted, all in one day.
Jake Marx is a thirty two year old small town veterinarian who desperately wants to meet a woman he hasn’t known since kindergarten.


Hayley gritted her teeth. Darn that lady cop who had the build of a Sherman tank. How was she supposed to know the stupid rooster was hers? To top it off, that bulldozer of a woman was the Chief of Police, too. The way she carried on, it was pure luck the cop hadn’t shoved her in the local slammer.
After the police station fiasco, Hayley marched across the train tracks to Animal Crackers to confront the veterinarian who thought everything was so funny last night, because even if he was hot, she was hot, too. Burning up she was so livid.
Some old lady peered through bifocals at her and tsked. What a nerve. Who was she to be judging anyone? First that cop, now a woman who looked like Sophia on The Golden Girls making a sour puss.
“Where’s Jake?”
“Are you the house sitter?” the old lady asked.
Hayley nodded.
“You’ll pardon my saying so, but you could do with a visit to Andre.”
Andre. Maybe that was a goat. Or a horse. Wasn’t there a movie about a seal with that name? God knew what else was running around. The whole town was Animal Crackers as far as Hayley was concerned. As for Andre, with that French name, for all she knew, he could be a cousin of that foul-mouthed parrot, Antoine.
Just that second, Jake poked his head out of a room. A huge smile brightened his freshly shaved cheeks. Hayley staggered. Why did he have to be so cute? She didn’t like him; he’d laughed at her, and he thought she was a neurotic idiot after last night. Plus, she hadn't forgotten her sneaking suspicion he had something going on with that bimbo actress Paulette Stone.
He was dressed in worn jeans and a T-shirt that said, “Have You Kissed Your Vet Today?”
To Catch a Cop
No matter how she tried, Hayley couldn’t seem to avoid studying his lips. Kiss A Vet. In his dreams before she’d kiss him. Never mind that she’d dreamed about exactly that, and he’d been dynamite. She had more pressing problems, and the last thing she needed to do was kiss a veterinarian.
“Henry is loose. I don’t know how he got out of the yard. I got a ticket for him leaving, uh, deposits.”
Jake ducked his head to hide a smile.
“There must be a gap in the fence. I’ll ask Ed to have a look, but Henry wanders. He has a fairly regular routine and usually heads to the same place. He’s safe there. If Henry can’t get out, he might become distressed.”
“He’s right behind me.”
Hayley turned around and stared. No Henry. He was gone. The monster beast had been right behind her, dogging her steps like a lovesick teenager only two minutes ago.
“I lost him! I can’t wait to get out of here, and now I’ve lost him!”
Jake shot a glance at the older woman who kept staring at her. The vet had a funny look on his face, as if he was trying not to laugh. What the hell was so hilarious?
“Um, not that it looks bad, but your hair is different. Kind of shorter on one side.”
Hayley fumed. As much as she detested the mess she was in, she was doing her best to be responsible, warning him that a deaf dog was lost, and all he could talk about was her hair. Wise guy.
Her hair.
Shorter on one side. The nail scissors on the floor. Pansy. Please, please, not that!
Hayley let out a screech that would have rivaled Wilbur’s decibels and sunk down into a plastic chair. Her fingers threaded through her hair, and she began to hyperventilate, gasping for air.
Pansy had scalped her. No wonder the old lady was staring.
“Calm down, or you’re going to faint. Nice, slow deep breaths. I’ll get you some water.”
Jake handed her a plastic cup of cold water. Hayley gulped it down. “I guess you’d rather have another drink, but we don’t keep alcohol around the clinic.”
“A mirror.” She barely managed to rasp the words.
“You sure?”
Dread rose in her heart. It sounded as if he didn’t want her to see the damage. It must be awful, and she’d walked around town without even knowing. People had stared at her, but she thought it was because of Henry trailing her everywhere. That hardware guy, Ed, had offered her one of those dumb Lemur baseball caps, and she brushed it off like an annoying fly. His snickers made a lot more sense now.
God Almighty.
"Aunt Tilly, have you got a mirror for Ms. uh, what is your name?”
“Weaver. Hayley Weaver.”
Tilly handed Hayley a tiny mirror from her handbag. Despite its miniscule size, it was big enough to get an idea of the damage Pansy had inflicted. Hayley gasped and snapped the compact shut. She couldn’t bear to look at it again.
“My hair! That no good Pansy scalped me!”
No more. She couldn’t take anymore. She’d put up with a nasty French parrot, a deaf dog, and now a chimp who thought she was Phillippe, the snobby Manhattan stylist.
Hayley burst into tears. Yesterday had been the worst day of her life. Nothing could have been worse, and then today happened.
Jake crouched down in front of her and held her hands.
“Hey, it’s not so bad. Hair grows back.”
She sniffed and blinked at him.
“I paid a fortune to get it exactly right. I can’t go on job interviews like this!”
“It’s not terrible, just a little uneven with those ends sticking up like a Mohawk on one side. It’s asymmetric, but that could be trendy,” the old lady said as if that helped and handed her a tissue.
Asymmetric? Whole chunks were gone. It looked like a blind man had savaged her hair.


What websites do you visit daily?
Hmm. I have limited time but I do regularly get on Twitter, Facebook, my own website and blog (I don’t say I write something daily but I try to get there as often as I can), Books and Writers Community--a fabulous online hangout for anyone who loves books, reading, writing, etc. Anything and everything is discussed and I would recommend that site to anyone interested in writing. I try to check in on Amazon and Barnes and Noble to see what’s going on there too and occasionally get on Pininterest. I’m not really conversant with that site. I visit Savvy Authors and She Writes but not daily. I do trawl some other sites but certainly not with regularity or every day.
What do you enjoy most about life?
More and more, I’m grateful for the things I have rather than thinking about what I don’t have. I’m grateful for family, friends, my dog, my health. Money can’t buy those things and we need to really appreciate them. I’m also grateful I live near the beach—I love the beach! You’re either a beach person or you aren’t and I’m definitely a beach person.
If you could give the younger version of yourself advice what would it be?
Take notes! I’ve had a lot of adventures and traveled extensively. I do remember some of these things but not all of them.
Do you have a muse? Describe this person, please.
I don’t know if you could call her my muse, but certainly the writer I most admire is Diana Gabaldon. She’s a brilliant writer but also very accessible and generous in her support for other writers.
Do things your family or friends do ever end up in a book?
Not so much family and friends, but real incidents, yes. The incident with the Japanese flag signifying the town’s lake has frozen and safe for skating in Hanky Panky (Book 3 of The Liberty Heights series coming in December) is true. It really did happen in my hometown. (Yes, it was New Jersey, so it seemed kind of natural for Liberty Heights).
What are some jobs you've done before (or while) you were a writer?
I started out as a nurse and I’m still a nurse but my work is in academia so I’m a professor today. I also have a PhD in history. I’ve done a fair amount of publishing academic work; journal articles and book chapters. It all just kind of evolved. Writing fiction is a big leap from academic writing but it’s still writing and any writing helps strengthen ability.
Which of your books would you recommend to someone who doesn't normally read your genre, and why?
Going to the Dogs
It’s a good question and really depends on taste. Right now, I would recommend Animal Crackers. It’s a fun read and the start of a series. People that have been reading the books seem to fall in love with them. They love Liberty Heights and all the quirky characters, some of whom get their own stories as the series progresses. That’s fun because it enables all of us to get to know these characters with more depth. I know these books are fiction, readers know they’re fiction, but to us, they’re real. That’s the consistent message I get from readers--they totally accept this is fiction but believe it must be real at some level. They consistently laugh (that’s good, they’re supposed to!) and want to know more about the people, the town and the quirky things that happen. This is kind of funny; I had an email from a reader asking for driving directions to Liberty Heights. She was certain this must be a real place. I was kind of sorry to disappoint her but it was nice that the town seemed so real to her.
What kind of books do you read when taking a break from your own writing?
Anything and everything. I’m a voracious reader. Normally, I read 4 books a week, depending on the type of book. I read non-fiction, especially history. Just love that! But I also read fiction in every genre. I’m a bookworm! I learned to read when I was about 3 and just kept reading. I was also fortunate to grow up in a home where reading and owning books was encouraged. The first step in being a writer is being a reader. You have to be a good reader to be a good writer. Whatever else you might have to give up to write, you can’t give up reading.
What is your favorite holiday and why?
Thanksgiving, because it’s a great opportunity to sit down and remember all the good things we have. Having lived outside the US for many years, I really appreciate the American-ness of the holiday that has nothing to do with religion, but a day to be grateful.
What good book have you read recently?
I read voraciously, everything and anything. In fiction, I enjoyed A Discovery of Witches. I didn’t think I would, but there you go. Not always a good idea to pre-judge. I especially enjoyed the scenes set in Oxford because I was a guest there a number of years ago and very familiar with the colleges and library.
In non-fiction, I just finished Rebecca Fraser’s A History of Britain. I love history and I’ve read a fair amount on this subject before but I still like re-acquainting myself with topics and possibly, learning something new or remembering things I might have forgotten.
Where were you at midnight, on December 31st when the new century started?
What do you like to do when you're bored?
No idea. I’m never bored because I’m overloaded with things that have to be done and things I want to do.
If your life became a movie, who would you want to play you?
Hah! We actually played this game at a high school reunion and the consensus was I should be played by a young, I stress young, Lauren Bacall. I was so flattered, I can’t tell you!
If you were a color, what color would you be?
Pink. Hot pink!

Please Fill in the Blanks

I love pizza with cheese, and lots of it. I’m a purist!
I'm always ready for dancing.
Elle Druskin
When I'm alone, I read, write, watch tv, walk my dog, surf the net, catch up with email.
You'd never be able to tell, but I try to be really organized. (Here’s the but) I don’t appear organized because I’m always looking for things that I’ve lost. So I end up most of the time looking for something else and finding the original lost item.
If I had a halo it would be I don’t really understand this question but I kind of doubt I’d be getting a halo anyway.
If I could master surfing (“I’m working on it!) I'd live at the beach.
I can never believe people think I’ve had a really interesting life because it just seems normal to me. I’ve traveled a lot and lived in other countries and I think this fascinates some people.

Previous Books

The Liberty Heights series:
Animal Crackers (Book 1)
The Life of the Party (Book 2)
To Catch series:
To Catch A Cop
To Catch A Crook
Outback Hero
Going To The Dogs

Books Coming Soon

Hanky Panky (Book 3, The Liberty Heights series) coming in December 2012 from MuseItUpPublishing

Find Me Here


  1. Hi there Elle, must say i love the way you put such great humor into your books. You've a knack for finding wacky characters and making the norm come across as hilarious! Great going


  2. Thanks Jane. I really do love Liberty Heights! And I am continually surprised by the things the characters in these books do even if I write them!


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