I want to welcome you all to another edition of Watch Out. This week I’m thrilled to bring you another fabulous guest. Multi-published author Amber Leigh Williams is here.
Welcome Amber, it is a pleasure to have you here today.
Thank you, Savannah! I’m pleased to be here.
For those readers who are new to you and your work, please tell them a little about yourself.
As you mentioned, I’m a multi-published romance author. I’m also a member of Romance Writers of America, former Secretary of GCCRWA, and a reviewer for The Season. My first western romance, BLACKEST HEART, is the 1st Place Novella of the 2009 More Than Magic Contest and my historical romance, FOREVER AMORE, was nominated by Long & Short Reviews for Best Book of 2009. I’m represented by D4EO Literary Agency and live on the Gulf Coast with my husband and three labs where I write full-time.
What, or who inspired you to write?
I think I was more compelled by my own inner urgings. I discovered writing in third grade and it felt so right. I loved storytelling and the possibility of touching people with the written word as I was touched throughout childhood by fairy tales. I naturally gravitated toward writing love stories and HEAs. When I read my first romance at fourteen I knew almost instantly that that was the genre I wanted to write. That book was by Nora Roberts who to this day I find very inspiring.
How many books do you currently have published? Can you tell us a little about each?
DENIED ORIGIN is a romantic suspense that is published in trade paperback and ebook editions from The Wild Rose Press. It starts with the murder of a Brazilian heiress’s influential parents. Alone in the world, Valentina Tuttora finds herself stripped of her identity and chased by a deadly terrorist for reasons she can’t begin to guess—until American bullet-catcher Mark Welles steps in to lead her in a scavenger hunt across the globe to uncover clues her parents left behind to her true identity. Buy link: http://www.thewildrosepress.com/denied-origin-p-907.html
FOREVER AMORE is a historical romance that is published in trade paperback and ebook editions by Black Lyon Publishing. It takes place in 1944 Italy when USAF Lieutenant Charles Tyler crashes his P-38 fighter in enemy territory. Lucky for him, he finds himself in the sympathetic embrace of Lucille Renaldi, the daughter of a wealthy winemaker, who will risk anything to see him to safety. This book was nominated by Long & Short Reviews for Best Book of 2009 and can be found at http://www.blacklyonpublishing.com/Forever%20Amore.html
I have three western romance novellas published in ebook from The Wild Rose Press called the Wayback Ridge Trilogy. The first of them, BLACKEST HEART, is also featured in a trade paperback anthology called THE WAY BACK HOME, and will be published as an audio book on September 7 from Audio Lark. It placed 1st in the 2009 More Than Magic Contest’s Novella category and tells the story of A-list actress Stella Ridge and silent cowboy Judd Black. Book II of the Wayback Ridge Trilogy, BLUEST HEART, follows Stella’s brother Casey Ridge’s quest to make bad girl Josie Brusky his. Book III, BET IT ON MY HEART, rounds out the trilogy with the playboy of Wayback’s fall for the most unlikely woman – his sister Stella’s hard-hitting agent, Calli Morlani (voted Book of the Week by readers). All three of these stories and THE WAY BACK HOME anthology can be found at http://www.thewildrosepress.com/amber-leigh-williams-m-352.html and the novellas will each make their audio book debut next month at http://www.audiolark.com.
Are there any author’s who have inspired you, or ones you look up to?
Nora Roberts has had a pretty profound impact on my journey to write romance. It was at the urging of fellow GCCRWA member and bestselling romantic suspense author Cynthia Eden that I try my hand at paranormal romance. Thanks to her encouragement, Joyce Holland of D4EO Literary Agency recently signed the first book in my paranormal series. Other authors who have inspired me are Jane Austen, Stephen King, Anne Lamont, Robert R. McCammon, Gregory Maguire, J.K. Rowling, and J.R. Ward.
You have a series of books called Wayback Texas. What made you decide to choose Texas as a backdrop for your books?
The Wayback, Texas series is actually a continuation (multi-authored) series adapted by the brilliant editors of The Wild Rose Press’s Yellow Rose (western romance) imprint. The series requirements were based on the small rodeo town of Wayback, Texas and its inhabitants and all the stories are novella-length. The first in the series by Rita Thedford, Hot Night at the Blue Bug Saloon, was followed closely by Judith Rochelle’s Shadow of the Hawk. Needless to say, this series started out with a bang and almost every consecutive Wayback title has hit The Wild Rose Press’s bestseller list.
I never dreamed of writing for a continuation series, especially one with such fantastic writers as Rita Thedford, Judith Rochelle, and Cindy Spencer Paper among others. I did know, however, that I wanted to write the story of an actress who goes home to her family’s ranch to heal and finds solace in the arms of a silent cowboy. I read Wayback’s description on TWRP’s website and things started clicking into place. Wayback seemed like the perfect backdrop for my story. Therefore, BLACKEST HEART and its sequels were born. It’s an honor to be published in the same line as these talented authors and writing westerns has probably been one of the most joyful experiences of my career. I can’t wait for my muse to take me back west!
Where do you see yourself as an author in the next five years?
I’d like for my paranormal series to be completed and published as well as distributed widely on bookstore shelves. I’d also like to have begun a more fantasy-driven series. I have two fantasy concepts in the works now. Mostly, though, I want to still find the joy in writing that I do now.
Being a published author what is the one big misconception you think that people have about writers/authors?
A published author’s life isn’t as glamorous as a lot of people tend to think, even for those more successful than others. I spend quite a bit of time in my pajamas and sweatpants. I stay up late into the evening in my writing cave and sleep late most mornings. I don’t take many vacations and if I do, my work goes with me because the muse doesn’t necessarily rest when I do. Another thing people tend to think about the publishing industry is that it is cutthroat. It’s a tough business, I agree, but in the romance industry especially I have met some of the kindest, most generous people I could imagine.
If you could pick to be a heroine from your books for a day, who would you pick and why?
Stella Ridge from BLACKEST HEART because she’s married to Judd Black, Wayback’s silent cowboy! That is one sexy man J
What are you currently working on now? Anything you can give the readers a sneak peak of?
At the moment, I’m in the midst of a Regency romance WIP as well as completing work on a contemporary revision. I’m also gearing up to write the fourth book in my paranormal series while waiting for my agent to find a publishing home for the first. In September, the Ridges of Wayback, Texas will each be taking the audio universe by storm. On September 7th, BLACKEST HEART debuts from AudioLark.com, followed by BLUEST HEART on September 14th and BET IT ON MY HEART on September 21st. Here’s a peak into Stella and Judd’s story:
“I love the way the air feels here,” she murmured, watching the fire in the sky take its sweet time burning out. “I love how it tastes.”
Her companion didn’t speak. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw a tall figure leaning against the fence. She turned her head when he didn’t reply. A stunning zap of electricity surged through her.
Judd had taken his hat off, revealing his thick crop of black hair, and was holding it between his hands draped over the fence line, elbows braced on the rail. His boot was propped on the lowest. His eyes squinted against the bright display, trained on the sun’s showcase. Beside him, sitting dutifully was an adorable mutt.
The man was an enigma. It got to her. That pleasant burning sensation began to swell within her again.
He straightened, catching her stare. She didn’t look away. Remembering how he’d raced with her over the field that afternoon, how he’d ridden that mean bull at the rodeo, she thought he must like challenges. Her admiration for him peaked.
She liked a challenge, too.
His brows rose as she stepped to him. Interest instead of astonishment filled his complex eyes. She came to a halt with the dog between them. “What’s with you, Judd?” she asked, punching just enough challenge into the question. “Didn’t Apache Jim ever teach you any manners? Didn’t anyone ever tell you how rude it is to stare?”
Something welled beneath the interest.
A sharp breath escaped her as she watched his eyes smile at her, crinkling up at the corners. She was the astonished one. Her body froze up when he reached out with one of those hard, wide-palmed hands. If she could’ve moved, she wouldn’t have stepped back.
His fingertips brushed over her damp hair, from her brow back over her crown. She fought against the urge to close her eyes, sigh and melt. Her scalp tickled under his light touch. His fingers combed through the ends of her tresses and repeated the motion, slower the second time through. She gripped the rail next to her, afraid she’d sway.
The amusement in his eyes had faded. They’d lifted to the scars she’d left exposed by combing her hair back from her face. His thumb traced the smooth, jagged line, tracing it to the corner of her eye.
She tried to read his face. The tender moment between them intensified. The tingles deepened. Though she wanted to turn his attention away from those imperfections on her face, she drew comfort from his whispering touch. His eyes darkened. There was anger there now. He was angry she’d been hurt. Her heart picked up pace, welcoming his fury.
She allowed her eyes to close. Her blood was singing, warming skin chilled by the nightly breeze. She could hear him breathing, just barely. Edging closer, she reached up to touch him. Her fingers found the chords of his upper arm. They wrapped around them, gripping them for support.
His fingertips found the scar by her mouth and began to trail down the angled mark. Her eyes popped open, fixed on his and her breath seized when he touched the very corner of her mouth. His fingers lingered, eyes tracing the line of her lips. She wanted his mouth to do the same. She waited breathlessly, heart thudding hard between them.
BLACKEST HEART © Amber Leigh Williams
Now Available for $3.00 at The Wild Rose Press: http://www.thewildrosepress.com/blackest-heart-wayback-texas-p-1058.html
What was the best advice you ever got as a writer, and who gave it to you?
I’m not sure who gave me this bit of promotional advice, but I remember being told to “Go where the readers are.” You could have the best book in the world and nobody would know about it so you have to go where the readers are in order to reach people with your book. J.R. Ward wrote in the Insider’s Guide to the Black Dagger Brotherhood that “Plotlines are like sharks: They either keep moving or they die.” Early in my career, some stories fizzled and I never could figure out why until I read this quote. Since, I know that if the pace isn’t moving, the story will fizzle and I’ll have wasted three to six months writing myself into a corner.
Any writing habits?
I snack a lot when I write, mostly because a lot of my writing and brainstorming is adrenaline-based. Thankfully, I have a high metabolism that supports this habit. I also have to keep the chap stick on standby because if the book is going well, I tend to nibble on my lower lip. I hate this habit but have given up trying to tame it. I also rake my fingers through my hair quite a bit, which has led my husband to fondly refer to the do I come out of my writing cave with as the “lion’s mane.” Thankfully, he doesn’t mind it because that’s when he knows the writing is going well, something that makes me very happy!
Have you ever based a character on yourself?
No, my characters are all pretty organic. They’re their own people and I love nothing more than getting to know them as the story progresses. Sometimes I occasionally start out modeling them after a celebrity or personality but they quickly grow into their own individuals.
I will admit, though, that the heroine in the contemporary revision I’ve nearly completed work on is probably closest to me. This is mostly because this story takes place in my hometown on the Gulf Coast and there are small echoes of mine and my husband’s dating experience that resonate in some parts of the book. For example, on our third date he took me on my first motorcycle ride along this beautiful scenic highway overlooking the gorgeous Eastern Shore of the Mobile Bay as the sun was setting. It was so romantic and thrilling that I knew I would write about it someday. In the book, the hero rides a Harley so it felt like the perfect opportunity to live that moment again through the heroine.
What message would you like readers to walk away with after reading your books?
I hope that I reaffirm or strengthen their belief in some way that great love does exist. Also that relationships are happy when healthy. That’s what I take away from a good HEA.
Where can readers go to find more info about you and your books?
Readers can find out more about my stories and writing journey at my website: http://www.amberleighwilliams.com.
My personal blog is the place to go for the latest news and sneak peaks of upcoming releases: http://amberleighwilliams.blogspot.com.
I can most always be reached via Twitter (http://twitter.com/ALeighWilliams)
or Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/amberleighwilliams).
I also blog once a week at The Roses of Prose: http://rosesofprose.blogspot.com.