|Back on Track|
Donna Cummings, welcome to Romance Lives Forever. Let's talk about your book, Back on Track.
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
Cover artist: Angela Waters
Length: 55 pages
Heat rating: PG-13ish
Tagline: What's a little lie between strangers?
Blurb: Allie Whittaker is in a dating slump, too busy getting her fledgling marketing company off the ground to have a personal life. All that could change, though, if she can get baseball superstar Matt Kearns on the cover of a charity calendar. Except Matt won’t even talk to her.
Matt is in a slump, worried his career might be over. A Napa Valley wine tour isn’t enough to take his mind off his troubles--until sexy, funny Allie plops into the adjacent seat and tells him three things about herself. One of them, she says, is a lie.
Matt can’t resist playing along, and soon the afternoon getaway becomes an interlude with lies, truths, and desire flowing as fast as the wine. Then Allie lets slip one truth too many…and they both realize they’re playing for keeps.
What are your main characters' names, ages, and occupations?
Allie Whittaker, late 20s, owner of marketing business
Matt Kearns, 30, all-star baseball pitcher
“How did you talk me into this again?” Allie Whittaker gave her best friend a mock glare over her wineglass and then took a sip of Riesling. It was fruity and smelled like honeysuckle, and it made her taste buds incredibly happy. “Oh, that’s right. Wine.”
“Lots of wine.” Sandra lifted her half-empty glass in salute. “And don’t forget the wonderful scenery.”
Allie glanced out the window. They were sitting in the comfiest club chairs on the Napa Valley Wine Train, watching sun-drenched vineyards pass by in a leisurely green blur. “You’re right.” She sighed with contentment, gazing at the hills in the background, which sheltered the acres of vines in their long, tidy rows. “It really is beautiful.”
Sandra laughed. “I was talking about all the gorgeous guys on this train.”
“I’d nearly forgotten about that part.”
“I sure didn’t,” Sandra said, patting her perfect blonde hair into place.
Allie spun around in her swivel chair to avoid Sandra’s pointed look. Pretend as she might, she knew exactly why she’d been dragged away from working this weekend.
There were clusters of men chatting with women throughout the lounge car, some of them standing in the aisle, others seated at the upholstered booths scattered among the club chairs.
All of them were laughing and drinking wine and clearly having a wonderful time.
Her heart sank at how effortless it seemed for everyone. “I barely remember how to flirt, or mingle, or any of that stuff.”
“You do it with your job on a daily basis. Getting people to do what you want is your specialty.”
“That’s different. Plus, I’m failing at that right now too.” All she needed was one more sports figure to say yes, and the celebrity calendar project would be a go. After that, she hoped to use the victory as a springboard to lure more lucrative accounts to her fledgling marketing business.
But right now, it was the hardest “yes” she’d ever gone after.
“You just need to get your mojo back. And this is the perfect place for it. It’s only three hours. It’s not in our neighborhood.” Sandra ticked each item off on her fingers. “If you like someone, great. If not, you never have to see them again.”
“Tell me again why I can’t sit here and drink wine all afternoon?”
“You’re in a dating slump.”
Allie sat up, stung by Sandra’s brash statement. “It’s not a slump. It’s just been a little while since I’ve dated.”
“Months.” Sandra dragged out the word.
“I’ve been incredibly busy with work,” Allie said defensively. “It’s not easy starting up a business. It takes every minute of my time--”
“Slu-ump,” she continued in a singsong voice.
“Stop that. This doesn’t qualify as a slump. I’m not sure I like that word.”
“You’re in a slump. I know. I’ve been in one before.” Sandra shuddered. “And slump is a better description than dry spell.”
“Oh God, you’re right.”
Allie took another gulp of wine. She gazed wistfully at the other people laughing and having so much fun. It had been a long time--too long--since she’d felt that carefree. It had been even longer since she’d had fun with someone of the male persuasion.
She was so stingy with her non-work hours, she barely spent time with Sandra, her best friend, which is why she had finally agreed to go on this trip.
“Nobody knows you,” Sandra said in a beguiling voice, “so you can be anybody you want. Celebrities do it all the time. Julie in Accounting saw that funny weather guy here once, and hardly anybody recognized him.”
“You know, speaking of celebrities, the stadium isn’t that far from the train station. Maybe we could swing by there on our way home--”
Sandra gasped. “I can’t believe you sometimes.”
“I’m not thinking about work. I’m not.” God, she was hopeless. “Okay, I was, but I promise I won’t think about it for the rest of the afternoon.”
“I mean it. Just tell me what I need to do.”
“Easy. You walk up to someone who looks cute--”
That snapped her back to reality. “What am I supposed to say?” She leaned toward Sandra, giving her a leer. “Nice wine rack you’ve got there.”
Sandra laughed, waving her away. “We’ll come up with something.” She thought for a moment. “I know. Say you’ll tell them three things about you, and one of them is a lie. They have to figure out which one is which.”
Allie frowned. “I’m not sure that will work here--”
“It’s a mingles thing. On a train. With unlimited wine.” Sandra practically snorted. “The hardest part is going to be staying upright.”
What is the most important thing you do for your career now, as compared to when you first started writing?
I'm really lucky that I'm writing in a time where there is instant access to readers and other writers. I love having a blog, and guesting on others' blogs, and chatting on Twitter and Facebook, and talking about books on Goodreads. It's so entrenched in our daily lives, it's easy to forget it's a relatively new way to connect with people. In fact, this book came about because I was chatting with four other writers on Twitter, about a pic of a hot guy riding a train! We each came up with our own stories of couples falling in love on trains, and the "Strangers on a Train" series was born. That couldn't have come about as easily in the olden days.
If you could change something about your first book, what would it be?
My first novella, Summer Lovin', has been described as being too short, and lots of readers have commented that they want to read more about the characters. I hadn't originally thought about doing anything other than the one novella, but now I can see where it would be fun to re-visit this couple (and the mischievous puppy that brings them together). So I've been brainstorming some sequels, and I hope to write one for each of the following seasons (fall, winter, spring).
What do you enjoy most about writing?
I love seeing what my characters will say. It's like I'm watching them perform, and I never know what they'll say or do until they say or do it! It's very entertaining, so it's how they lure me to the laptop when I'm feeling like I'd rather hang out on Twitter or read my Nook instead.
If you could give the younger version of yourself advice what would it be?
Quit worrying about so many things, and just write. The older version of me can use that advice too!
|I Do Or Die|
How do you cope with stress as an author?
Good ole Vitamin C: chocolate. And coffee. Sometimes both together.
Do things your family or friends do ever end up in a book?
My brain is like a huge junk drawer, and all kinds of things end up there, so when I'm brainstorming a new story, I've got a lot of stray bits and pieces to choose from. Sometimes it's a gesture I saw somebody use, and a character tries it on for size, and we both agree that it's a good fit. Other times it's horribly wrong for them but it works better for another character. Often I overhear a phrase and it's like, "Ding, ding, ding, that is SO going in a book."
Which of your books would you recommend to someone who doesn't normally read your genre, and why?
This novella might be a good place to start, since it is fun and funny, and there's plenty of banter between the hero and heroine, and enough sexual tension to keep things moving along. I always think humor is a good way to catch people's interest, and next thing they know, they're reading a romance when they weren't expecting to!
Imagine you get to go on a dream vacation, but you have only one hour to pack and leave, and it starts as soon as you finish this interview. What will you take with you and where will you go?
*closes eyes and starts imagining* I hope it's someplace tropical, because I definitely need some sun right now. I would grab my Nook, and a notebook and pens, because even though I'm on vacation, I know I'll want to read AND write. My muse only goes on vacation when I ask her NOT to! *opens eyes* Am I there yet?
What is your favorite holiday and why?
The return of Daylight Saving Time! I know others may not consider it a holiday, but it sure is to me. I look forward to it like some people anticipate Christmas. I guess you can tell I'm not a big fan of dark wintry weather.
What do you like to do when you're bored?
I don't really know how to get bored! I always have too many things to do, or that I want to do, so I guess if I ever did get bored, I'd try to figure out how to make 24 hours stretch to at least 36 hours.
Please underline which statement is more like you:
"I am a vacation spa because I am laid back and relaxed." *
"I am a ten-countries in ten-days tour vacation, because I do things as fast as possible."
*I actually think I'm a hybrid -- both of those are me. J
Please complete the sentences
I love pizza with a cute guy delivering it.
I'm always ready for a good laugh.
When I'm alone, I love reading until the Nook battery wears out.
You'd never be able to tell, but I'm writing even when it doesn't look like I'm writing.
If I had a halo it would probably be one more thing I'd misplace.
If I could buy school supplies all year-round I'd be the happiest girl in the world.
I can never quit writing stories because I have so many characters waiting their turn.
Summer Lovin', contemporary novella
Lord Midnight, Regency historical
I Do. . . or Die, contemporary romance
Books Coming Soon
Back on Track, contemporary novella, part of the Strangers on a Train series, released April 2, 2013.
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