I’m delighted to have co-authors Stephanie Michels and Patricia Kiyono visiting with me on my blog today. They’re going to tell us about the first book in The Stitching Post Romance Series, The Calico Heart.
Welcome ladies. First, please tell us a little about yourselves.
Stephanie: I laughingly refer to myself as a “Jill of All Trades” since Iâ€™ve worked as a computer trainer, advertising copywriter, cosmetologist, personnel agent, radio DJ, magazine columnist, and a financial planner among other things. I recently left the corporate world behind in order to focus full time on my writing.
I was born in Ohio but raised in Michigan then moved as a young woman to South Carolina, Missouri, and then Germany. When my children were young, I returned here to the Mitten State to be near family. I love being near the Great Lakes and having four distinct seasons â€“ although I could do with a little less snow right now. When Iâ€™m not writing, I can usually be found reading, playing word games on computer, or spending time with family and friends, including my wonderful Beta Sigma Phi sorority sisters.
Patricia: I’m a retired elementary schoolteacher, mom to five kids and grandmother to eightâ€”so far. I was born in Japan, but my family moved to southwest Michigan when I was almost a year old, and I’ve lived here (other than four years at Illinois State University) since then. Since I retired eight years ago, I’ve been able to pursue my dream of writing books and have been so pleased and proud to be published at Astraea Press since 2011.
If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be, and why?
Stephanie: I love Michigan, Having lived in other places, I know I would miss it if I moved away again. But I would dearly love to spend the winters somewhere warm and sunny â€“ preferably with a lake, ocean or pool nearby. Florida, Texas (I love the people there) or the Bahamas or Mexico or Hawaii or … well, you get the picture.
Patricia: Since almost all of my cousins live in Japan, I would love to live there for a while. I’ve had the pleasure of visiting them twice, but I’d like to get to know them better. And other than the typhoons, the weather is pretty good there.
Do you have other talents? Or is there a talent you don’t have that you wish you did?
Patricia: I’m a musician, so I enjoy playing in a local community band. I also adjudicate at regional and state solo and ensemble festivals, and I teach a university course in music education. I also love to sew, and belong to a quilting group at my church, so the group of close-knit women described in The Calico Heart is based on the women I sew with.
What do you like best about being a writer?
Stephanie: After spending what seems like a lifetime in the corporate world, I think it is absolutely heavenly to get up in the morning and not need to put on pantyhose and high heels to go to work. I often spend the mornings, wearing my pajamas and fuzzy slippers while I write on my laptop and cuddle with my Yorkie. On a more serious note, I love having the power to rearrange the world the way I think it should be in my writing. If something goes wrong in my life or a friendâ€™s, I can rewrite things the way it should have happened. Since Iâ€™m a hopeless romantic, I really like â€œhappily-ever-aftersâ€ and stories about a love so strong it overcomes obstacles. Writing lets me give people the happy endings they deserve.
When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Stephanie: I think my first aspiration was to be a cowgirl. My sisters and I would take turns being Annie Oakley when weâ€™d play. I was the youngest, so I think I may have been skipped a few times. Then, I decided I wanted to be a Disney princess, probably Cinderella or Sleeping Beauty. It wasnâ€™t until I was in second grade and wrote the Christmas play for my class that I decided I wanted to be a writer. I donâ€™t think that ever changed.
Are you a plotter or a pantser? A combination?
Patricia: I’m a combination of the two. Someone recently coined the term “plantser”, I plan, but the characters often take me on side journeys. Even when I take the time to fill out character sheets and plot planners, surprises pop up. But most of the time they’re good surprises that end up in the book!
Which comes first – the plot or the characters?
Patricia: For me, the plot comes first. Specifically, I begin with the conflict, and then I come up with characters who would most be affected by that conflict. The conflict for The Calico Heart came from a heated argument I had with my husband. I love to travel, and he doesn’t. We didn’t resolve it the same way the couple in the book did, but I was able to harness that anger.
Tell us about your latest release. Isn’t this the cutest cover?
The Calico Heart is the first of a planned series about a group of women who belong to a quilting group meeting at a shop called The Stitching Post in southwest Michigan. Here’s the blurb:
On the surface, Sylvia Miller has a perfect life. She’s married to her college sweetheart, has three great kids, a rewarding career, and wonderful then friends. But beneath the appearances, Sylvia Is restless. She loves her husband, but wants to see more of the world than their peaceful Michigan town. Now, their youngest child is grown, and Sylvia is ready for adventure
Left a penniless orphan, David Miller promised himself his family would never know the same humiliation. For twenty-six years, he and Sylvia have lived frugally, saving for the future. Now, Dave is on the brink of a promotion that will ensure their financial security, but Sylvia wants him to retire and travel with her.
When Dave refuses, Sylvia decides to go alone. But it’s a decision that could cost them much more than money.
Thank you for joining me today. Wishing you much success with your series.
Want to learn more about Stephanie and Patricia?
NOTE: Although I’ll still host authors here on my blog from time to time, today’s post will be the last regular installment of Writer Wednesday. Within the next couple of weeks, I’ll be revealingmy brand new website and blog, and I’ll fill you all in on the new themes and features I have planned.
Thanks for reading,