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Wednesday, September 19, 2012
SEEKING SHELTER AND SUPER ROMANCE AUTHOR ANGEL SMITS
Get Lost in a Story Readers: We've hosted Angel Smits a few months ago with her debut novel A MESSAGE FOR JULIA hit the stands. She’s back today to talk about her second release, SEEKING SHELTER. Seeking Shelter is Jace Holmes’ story. Jace’s brother Linc was the protagonist in A MESSAGE FOR JULIA. But Jace comes into his own in SEEKING SHELTER. Please welcome Angel Smits to Get Lost in a Story.
A Place to belong
For Amy Grey, home has always been Rattlesnake Bend, Arizona, population 423. It’s a safe place to raise her daughter, Katie. Then free spirit Jace Holmes rides his motorcycle down Main Street, rumbling through Amy’s carefully ordered life with news about the father she never knew and stirring up questions about her family’s past. The best thing for all would be if Jace kept on riding.
Too bad Katie immediately tags Jace as a potential daddy. Sure, there’s no denying the attraction between Amy and Jace, but her life is here and his, well, isn’t. Yet the longer Jace is in town, the more her visions of tomorrow match Katie’s. But can Amy open herself up again? Because opening herself to change is the one way to convince Jace to stay.EXCERPT:
“I feel like I know you.” Jace moved closer, carefully.
She could see the heat in his eyes. She saw every whisker along his jaw.
He reached out and took a curl of her hair between his thumb and forefinger, rubbing gently before letting go so the strands could curl down her back. “You had white-blond hair when you were two.” His laugh was soft. “You’re a hard worker.”
He was so close. His touch seemed innocent yet intimate. He didn’t scare her, which she tried to analyze, but couldn’t.
“You’ve raised a beautiful little girl.” His gaze burned into hers and she couldn’t look away. “What do you do for yourself, Amy?”
Nothing, she wanted to say, but bit her tongue. He’d never believe her. No one was that altruistic, and certainly not her. So many people did so much for her. Caryn let her cook in her kitchen. Rick fixed her car when she needed it. Hank helped at the ranch and with everything else she needed. She owed them. She helped pay them back by keeping the store going. Without it, they’d have to drive over fifty miles for survival, for food. But it wasn’t enough, not nearly.
How could she ever be selfish and think just of herself?
But looking at Jace right now, feeling the heat of his body reach out and engulf her, she knew she wanted this, wanted to touch him. For so long she’d kept herself shut away and distant. For once she needed to do something just because she wanted to.
GLIAS FUN QUESTIONS FOR ANGEL SMITS:
DONNELL: Angel, thank you for joining us again at Get Lost in a Story. Seeking Shelter is about a young woman who is cautious and who lives an orderly existence. How much is Angel Smits like Amy Grey?
ANGEL: I’m not sure how honestly I can answer that as I’m sure there’s more of me in her than I’d like to admit. I do know I’m cautious in relationships in the beginning. I hold back, like Amy does, though not for any of the same reasons. I might have to think a little more about that one. I do know that my parents commented that they saw a resemblance in how Amy treated her daughter to how I treated my kids when they were younger. I guess I said the same phrases and had some of the same actions.
DONNELL: I was fortunate to read Seeking Shelter and loved Jace Holmes the minute he walked on the page. I believe you pictured an actor in your mind to play Jace. Which actor was it? And here’s a follow-up question. After the book was finished, did Jace come into his own, or did you still see the actor’s face?
ANGEL: I wonder if I tell you who he is, if somehow I’ll get to meet him…just wishing. Actually, I struggled with Jace when he was a secondary character in A MESSAGE FOR JULIA, but readers really liked him and wanted his story. It wasn’t until I saw the music video “Let Me Go” by Christian Kane that he came to life. It just clicked. It helped that he’s riding a motorcycle through the desert in the video, too. Christian’s Album HOUSE RULES became the sound track for this book. I write to music, so I’m sure my family was well and truly sick of hearing me play that album over and over in my office, but it got my muse to going. So, whatever works.
That’s a good question about him changing, because he did morph a bit as I wrote. He was a whole person, though he still resembles Christian Kane in my mind. After all, he is a great looking guy.
DONNELL: In Seeking Shelter, Amy does many things well. However, she’s not a great cook. Are you a good cook, Angel?
ANGEL: Yeah, Amy is a pretty lousy cook, isn’t she? I had fun with that. I like to think I’m a pretty good cook, but my kids were a lot like Katie, so sometimes feeding them was a challenge. My husband’s solution was and still is to put sauce on it, so my kids do that, too.
When I was first married and still trying to learn to cook, I went to the masters. My mom, my mother-in-law, my grandmothers, my aunts and a lot of the older women I used to work with. That generation can cook! I gathered up their recipes and let them teach me. It was one of the smartest moves I ever made. And it made learning easier as I had a teacher to call up whenever I made a mistake or needed direction. It also helped keep us close and I really appreciate that closeness with my family. Now I’m the aunt who has all of grandma’s recipes and I share with my kids, nieces, and nephew when they ask.
DONNELL: Feeding off of that question, what’s a recipe you serve time and time again?
ANGEL: My son frequently asks me to make him meatloaf when he’s home. Yes, I make a mean meatloaf. Mrs. Brown was an elderly lady I helped care for one summer in college who taught me how. She was determined that a young woman should know how to cook properly to get a good man. J Also, I make BBQ pork that is amazing. I use my mom’s BBQ sauce recipe, that is to die for, and throw the ribs in the Crockpot. Easy and delicious!
DONNELL: You do emotion so well. As a matter of fact, readers, Harlequin obviously agrees. ANGEL just received an offer for her 6-book series from Super Romance. and is this upcoming series fantastic! Hard question, but why do you think you do emotion so well? Is it intrinsic? Do you have to work at it?
ANGEL: Thanks for the compliment. You’re so sweet. I want my characters to be real, and I believe that unless you’re feeling life, you aren’t experiencing life to its fullest.
I’m not sure exactly why I write emotions so well, but I do know that empathy is one of my stronger talents and I try to cultivate it. As a social worker, I couldn’t help but feel all the hurt, joy and struggles that my clients experienced. It helped me help them better, but after awhile, I found I was building up emotional walls to protect myself. I was shutting off my own feelings. I felt flat and disconnected from all of my life and theirs. I didn’t like that much. I wanted to get back to experiencing life, so I quit. I want to experience life. We only get one shot at it.
Our society doesn’t really encourage emotions. We try to “cheer people up”. We tell them not to cry. We try to calm people down who we think are over exuberant. I don’t like that and so I write books that give people a safe place to feel and release those emotions. It’s healthy to cry and to laugh out loud. I know I feel better and I hope my readers do too.
DONNELL: In Seeking Shelter Amy and Jace take a trip to the Grand Canyon. You recently took a trip to some place interesting. Tell us about it?
ANGEL: Well, I have been to the Grand Canyon. It was amazing, but I bet you’re talking about my most recent trip. ;) For our anniversary, my husband took me to Ireland. I’ve always dreamed of going there and we spent two weeks roaming around. We stayed in Dublin and saw St. Patrick’s Cathedral and all the tourist sites. We stayed in a castle up near Galway Bay. We went to Cork and on our anniversary kissed the Blarney Stone! (And each other…TMI?) Two places that really left an impression on me were the Rock of Cashel, a castle ruin and the Cliffs of Moher. Both were breathtaking. And yes, before you even ask, I have story ideas already set in both places. I’m thinking a trilogy of three brothers--but I have to wait on them. That’s okay. I took tons of pictures for our trip, so I won’t forget.
DONNELL: One of the things you do really well is put your characters into uncomfortable positions – you make your protagonists suffer. Is this hard, easy, matter of fact?
ANGEL: Several speakers I’ve heard give the advice to torment your characters, and just keep tormenting them. It’s a great plot device, but more than that, it’s the way we live life. None of us come out of it unscathed. We all have losses and pain, as well as successes and joys. How we handle those tough times is a big part of making us who we are. We grow and learn by succeeding, by trial and error. Most people are basically strong, but even stronger when they’ve made it through life’s battles.
The hardest part is always figuring out what my characters have been through. Once I learn that, it’s really quite easy to torment them. I’ve experienced some pretty rough things in my life. Early in our marriage my husband was in a serious motorcycle accident, which resulted in him losing his left leg. I was 22 at the time. But we made it through that. Then our son was born 3 ½ months premature and we made it through that. While they were awful to go through, I learned from those experiences and I’m proud of myself for making it through.
I learned who is important in my life, and who isn’t during those times, and that type of growth is what I like to show in a character. Without the trials, they are the same at the end as they are at the beginning. So who wants to read that?
I write to connect with people and by putting my characters in situation other people have gone through, we connect. I may not have been stuck in a coal mine, or lived on the streets of LA like my heroes have, but I know what fear and loneliness feel like, and I know what it’s like to love someone who is suffering. So it may not be the same experience—yet it is.
DONNELL: You also have an interesting way of writing called IMPROV. It stems from a Thursday night group. Tell us about this group, and why does writing in this manner work for you?
ANGEL: Ah, Improv. I’m not sure I’d still be writing, much less published, without it. How it works is very simple (and that may be the secret of why it works so well.) There’s a group of us that meets each week to write. One of us brings prompts, which can be anything, pictures, objects, phrases, to kick things off. We do three writings. A short warm up and two longer one. Timed. Then when the timer goes off, we go around and read aloud what we just wrote. There’s no critique, no editing, just put it out there. All of us. We joke that you get one pass a year, but if you try to use it, we’ll harass you unmercifully.
It can be very scary and yet incredibly freeing. It isn’t as if any of it is best seller material. It’s all, always, rough draft, but man do you know when you get it right. It feels right and just flows, and though we don’t critique, it’s nearly impossible to hold in a laugh or a sigh or a nod of appreciation. Nothing feels better. I’ve been doing it for thirteen years, so I’m really comfortable with it. It’s my go-to mode to create. My last three books were written largely at improv. Plus the whole stream of consciousness writing that this process requires makes it easy to write when I have just a few minutes, no matter where I am. It’s a great skill to have.
DONNELL: You’re about to become extremely busy. Full-time job, family and six books to write. What’s going through your head right now?
ANGEL: Panic. Pure panic. :)I’m thrilled to death that they want my series, but it’s a bit daunting at the same time. I see it as a challenge, though and I know I can do it. I’ve started to map out the next six months of my life, trying to figure out all the particulars, number of chapters to do each week and when I have to get them done to send to my critique group, etc. I just keep telling myself, one step at a time. I can do this!
That and I’m totally blown away by how this happened. I still wake up and wonder if it’s true. So far every morning I’ve woke up and it’s still real.
ANGEL’S QUESTION FOR READERS.
I’m just embarking on writing my first series. A MESSAGE FOR JULIA and SEEKING SHELTER are related in that the heroes are brothers, but that’s the only real connection. Do you like connected books or a series, where there’s some storyline running through all the books? Thanks for your input and I’ll be giving away a book to a lucky winner from all the people who comment and answer my question!
I love to hear from readers. My website is www.angelsmits.com and you can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org Also, I’m on Facebook as AngelSmitsAuthor and on Twitter as Angelwrite. Thanks for inviting me Donnell, and for everyone coming out to visit. It’s been fun!!