February 23, 2013

Contemporary: I Do...or Die @BookEmDonna #RLFblog

I Do...or Die
Donna Cummings, welcome to Romance Lives Forever. Let's talk about your book, I Do...or Die.
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Crimson Romance
Length: 272 pages
Heat rating: Sensual
Tagline: Getting shot at during a wedding was the best thing to happen to her love life.
“Always a bridesmaid, never a bride” is Shelby Atwood's personal credo. She’s managed to avoid commitment all her life – no pets, no plants, not even a long-term lease. Heck, she’s had colds last longer than her romantic relationships. How could she be any other way when she has a gigolo for a father?
But then gunfire erupts at the latest wedding she’s agreed to be in, and it ends up being the best thing to happen to Shelby’s love life. Detective Ryan Nichols is assigned to the case, and when the shootings don’t stop, he becomes her 24-hour bodyguard. Shelby wouldn’t mind except Ryan is too appealing, too sexy, and too happy to remind her of the raucous bachelorette party when she mistook him for a stripper.
Shelby’s plan is simple: find the shooter, have a fling with Ryan, and return to her non-committal life. Unfortunately, the shooter is very elusive. Shelby’s feelings for Ryan are way more than adrenaline-fueled lust. And returning to her normal life is now impossible since, despite her lifelong resistance, she’s managed to put her heart smack dab in the line of fire.
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What are your main characters' names, ages, and occupations?
Shelby Atwood, early 30's, TV food personality
Ryan Nichols, mid-30's, detective
You just don’t expect to see gunfire at a wedding.
I know, because I’ve been in a lot of weddings, despite my well-known aversion to them. “Always a bridesmaid, never a bride” is not just a cautionary adage, it’s my personal credo. Having a gigolo for a father might have contributed something to that philosophy. Who really knows for sure?
Today Alexa, my best friend since grade school, glided down the aisle of the chapel to the accompaniment of a string quartet playing an elegant Handel air. For this wedding, she wore a white strapless dress, complete with tulle and beaded embroidery that made all the women sigh as she passed. The low v-back and body-hugging mermaid shape, along with her icy blonde beauty, provoked quite a different response from the males in the congregation.
I clutched my single calla lily, watching her entrance with a mixture of awe and disbelief. How had Alexa persuaded me to be her maid of honor, again?
And again.
And yet again.
“Shelby, you’re my good luck charm,” she had cooed while I suffered through the circle of hell known as “trying on bridesmaid dresses.”
“How do you figure that?” I had asked, peeling off a poufy satin monstrosity the color of Mountain Dew. “Every time I’ve been your maid of honor, you’ve gotten divorced!”
“Oh, that has nothing to do with anything. Everything goes off without a hitch when you’re there.”
“Maybe that’s the problem. If I weren’t around, there would be some sort of hitch, and then you wouldn’t be hitched.”
I admired Alexa’s wildly unwavering enthusiasm for weddings, and commitment, and all that “’til death do us part” stuff. Especially since none of her marriages seemed to last very long. Two years was the record so far, and that was because her husband was working overseas for one of those years.
Which was supposedly the reason for the end of that union.
That, and the next husband was already in her sights.
When the evil wedding consultant gleefully rolled in another torture rack crammed with dresses for me to endure, I shuddered. “Have you ever thought that maybe, just maybe, marriage isn’t right for you?”
“That one.” Alexa pointed to a strapless hot pink mini-dress that could have worked—if Hooters ever decided to cater weddings. “And why all these concerns? Don’t you like Jordan?”
“Of course I like him, silly. He seems perfect.”
He was handsome, loving, and completely ga-ga for his bride. Alexa told me during our numerous wedding planning get-togethers, which thankfully required a great deal of wine, about Jordan’s great sense of humor, and even greater job. Who wouldn’t want him for a husband? If I were the marrying kind, even I would want him for a husband.
Although, as I recall, Husbands One through Three were pretty darn perfect too.
Alexa smiled, spinning her index finger to indicate I should twirl in front of her. “Maybe, Shelby, you’re afraid all of these weddings will change your mind about marriage.”
“Ha!” I, the eternal bachelorette, scoffed, and quite eloquently. Alexa raised her eyebrow as if debating whether to get out of her chair and start the Heimlich maneuver on me.
In the end, I gave up trying to make Alexa see the multiple incredible benefits to staying single. I’ll probably be her bridesmaid when we’re bunkmates in the nursing home, although by then I’ll be adjusting the tapes of her adult diaper, rather than the tiers of her lace-edged wedding veil.
I agreed to be her maid of honor this one last time.
Of course, I didn’t realize when I made the promise this would be Alexa’s final chance to stand at the altar.
At the minister’s signal, Alexa handed me her bouquet of cascading white lilies and then she faced Jordan, ready to promise to love, cherish, and obey the (fourth) man of her dreams. She beamed at him, eliciting a few more wistful sighs behind us at the evidence of true love. Or maybe it was for the handsome groom in his single-breasted designer tuxedo, beaming right back at her.
Reverend Deering asked Alexa to repeat the vows she most likely had memorized several ceremonies ago. I had heard them often enough that I could have stepped in to recite the words if either of them were prevented from completing their duties.
“I, Alexa, take thee Jordan—”
A ray of June sunshine chose that moment to burst through the chapel windows, highlighting the promise contained in the newlyweds’ expressions. Even I felt swept up in the optimism that accompanied each and every one of Alexa’s weddings. My heart beat with hopefulness, and I wondered if someday I would—
Out of nowhere, gunfire erupted, a quick succession of pop, pop, pop.
Screams quickly followed, along with the frantic sounds of the congregation scrambling for shelter under the wooden pews.
“Sonofabitch!” I tossed the bouquet over my shoulder, as I’d seen Alexa do millions of times, and darted toward my suddenly bleeding best friend, knocking her to the floor to prevent any further harm.
Back on Track
I looked up and saw the minister cowering under a pew, tugging at the tulle swag that moments ago had been decoration, not flimsy protection against wayward bullets. My heart pounded while my brain struggled with two wildly different thoughts.
One, the blood spurting from Alexa’s shoulder ensured I would never have to wear this peach-yogurt-colored dress again.
And two, who could possibly hate weddings more than I did?


What inspired you to write this book?
This book started out with a little riff from a bridesmaid chatting about all the outrageous bridesmaid dresses she'd had to wear. And then all of a sudden this chatty character became the heroine, Shelby, who had been a bridesmaid for her best friend four different times, only Shelby hates weddings. And then there was gunfire at the latest ceremony. . .Things just kind of went crazy from there!
Which character in your current book do you think readers will like the most? Why?
Shelby seems to endear herself to readers, probably because of her kooky adventures, and her commitment-phobe qualities, as well as her hilarious commentary on all of it. There's definitely a fan base for the hero, Ryan, though.
When you're not writing, what would we find you doing?
Probably "getting ready to write" or feeling guilty for not writing! I hang out a lot on Twitter, and I love to get inspired by looking at things on Pinterest, and I count them as invaluable research tools. *cough* Because they are!
Are you a plotter, or do you prefer to make it up on the spur of the moment?
I am a confirmed pantser. I'm not even sure I make stuff up--it just shows up in my brain, and I write it down. It feels like I'm the official stenographer for these characters. They say and do what they want to, and I type away. Sometimes I'll pretend like I'm the movie director and suggest they move over here, or say such-and-such. When I'm done, they go back to what they were doing in the first place, and I just start typing again.
What's your writing schedule like?
It's pretty much a variation of this: "Okay, I've got my coffee, so I'll open up the WIP and get my word count done for the day. Oh, wait. I better check Twitter one more time. And Facebook--I think somebody left a comment, and I don't want them feeling ignored. Wow, it's lunchtime already. Well, I'll just go ahead and check the sales stats on Amazon and then really hit it at 1:30. No, 1:45. Heck, I might as well just round it up to--how did it get to be 6 p.m. already?!"
Any advice for new authors?
Write the story that won't leave you alone. It may be slightly outside your current skill set, but work at it anyway. You'll discover what you like, what your strengths are, and most importantly, you'll find your voice. THAT is your most valuable tool as a writer. It's what will keep readers wanting to read everything you write.
If you could time travel what era would be your first stop?
I didn't even have to think about this one! I would go to Regency London, and have a grand time with all those rogues and rakes.
Do you believe in luck?
I'm not sure if I'd call it luck, but I definitely believe there's something that happens outside of the normal everyday plane. It feels like coincidence sometimes, the way things happen, being in the right place at just the right moment. Or having someone show up just as you need them to.
What's your favorite movie?
I love romance and humor, so I have a few movies I can watch a zillion times and never get tired of them. Strictly Ballroom is one, and Notting Hill is another.
Donna Cummings

Please complete the sentence

I love pizza with forty-eleven kinds of cheese on it.
I'm always ready for coffee, and more coffee.
When I'm alone, I crack myself up all the time.
You'd never be able to tell, but I'm thinking up a new tweet right now.
If I had a halo, it would be marking my place in whatever book I'm reading.
If I could learn how to drive a race car, I'd use that research for an upcoming book.
I can never eat Brussels sprouts because they are incredibly gross!

Previous Books

Lord Midnight, Regency historical
Summer Lovin', contemporary romance novella

Books Coming Soon

Back on Track, contemporary romance novella, part of the Strangers on a Train series from Samhain, releasing April 2nd

Find Me Here


  1. Kayelle, thanks for having me here today!

    1. Well, we are alike in the number of cheeses on our pizza ;) but I like brussel sprouts. Still, I have a feeling we'd have fun chatting over lunch!

    2. We would definitely have fun chatting over lunch! Just keep the brussel sprouts on YOUR side of the table. LOL

    3. I'll try. ;) Those things have a habit of rolling around the table though. LOL

  2. Enjoyable interview Donna. Best luck.


    1. Thanks, Rose -- I'm glad you enjoyed it. :)

    2. Hey, Rose. *waves* Nice to see you. ^_^

  3. The book sounds great and the cover is beautiful! I loved the interview. There can never, ever be too much cheese on a pizza. We'll let Kayelle keep the brussel sprouts all for herself.

    1. LOL - I've only met one other person who likes those as much as I do. ;) Good thing I love them so much!

    2. Thanks, E. :) I think you've got an excellent plan for the brussel sprouts. LOL I sure could use some pizza right now though!

  4. Kayelle, thanks again for having me here -- I had such a great time!


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