Thursday, May 23, 2013

Blog Tour: Review, Interview, & Giveaway: Then, Again by Karen Stivali

Sometimes you have to lose it all to find what you really need.
Photographer Kay Turner is dealt a double whammy when she flies home for her grandmother’s funeral to find her boyfriend with another woman. Now with two losses to mourn, she retreats to her newly inherited beach house to clear her head.
Everything at the beach is familiar: the sounds of the ocean, the scent of her grandmother’s perfume—and the irresistible smile of James Margolis. The man Kay spent her adolescence pining for is every bit as charming as she remembers.
James always thought of Kay as “a nice kid”, but he feels something very different for the woman she’s become. Especially when he asks if she’d be willing to part with some of her grandmother’s recipes for his new restaurant—and they wind up sharing much more than culinary secrets.
But as their relationship deepens, Kay finds herself caught between the demands of her dream career as a travel photographer, and a chance for happiness with the one man she’s wanted for a lifetime.
Warning: This foodie romance contains sensual scone baking, a heroine who discovers one bad apple hasn’t spoiled her appetite, and a delicious hero you can’t help but crave. Blend well, serve hot.

What a fun story! The storyline was interesting and easy to follow along, the sex was hot, and the food sounded delicious.
I didn’t have a ton of expectations for this book because I didn’t know a ton about it. I was so happy that when I started to read it, I really enjoyed it! From page 1, I was intrigued. I wanted to know the characters and figure them out right away.
It was very interesting to see how James & Kay, who were both very focused on their careers learned to navigate and balance work life with romance. Throughout the book, you could feel their struggle and just wanted to shake them and tell them to take a chance. I loved that they communicated well, for the most part. They were pretty up front with each other and it saved us from a lot of angst.
The chemistry between the 2 of them is undeniable and totally hot right from the start! I really liked that the author didn’t waste her time with tension between the two of them. I think I would’ve exploded if she had.
Overall, I really, really liked this book! I am so glad I got to take a chance on reading this new one! Though, be prepared… you’ll want to eat the entire time you are reading!

How did you get involved with your publisher or press?
I pitched ThenAgain to an editor from Samhain Publishing at the RT Convention in 2012. She liked the story and gave my submission to one of her editors and that’s how I got my offer.  I was thrilled. Samhain is a company I’d always wanted to work with and I was delighted that they loved the story. My second book with Samhain (Leave The Lights On) will release in November 2013. (I also still write erotic romances for Ellora’s Cave and sexy women’s fiction for Turquoise Morning Press. I have upcoming releases with both of those companies as well.)

How does your writing process look? Consistent with regular amounts of word counts daily/weekly… or more sporadic with a gush of words all at once and then a dry bed for a while?
I’m always doing something writing related (writing new fiction, editing a piece, blogging to promote a new release, critiquing other people’s stories) but I tend to write my books in spurts. (Ha.) Once I see a full idea for a book, from start to finish, I usually sit down and write the whole thing all at once. Three of my published books (Holding On, Decadence (coming summer 2013) and ThenAgain (available now!)) were  NaNo projects (National Novel Writing month, where you try to write a whole book in a month). I write insanely fast once an idea has taken full shape in my head so I do well with writing from start to finish in once big rush. That works better for me than writing in little bits and pieces.
When I’m working on a particular project it’s not uncommon for me to write 3-4k a day (12-16 pages a day). Sometimes I go as high as 8k. It really depends how much time I have and how clear the story is in my head. I get very driven and focused once I’m immersed in a story and I physically need to finish it. I push until it’s done then I let it sit a few weeks before I even look at it. After I take a pass at it then it goes to beta readers. Then I fix what they point out. Then I hand it in somewhere.

Is anything in your book based on real life experiences or purely all imagination?
There are always elements of real life in my books, but the situations and characters are always completely fictional. One of my pet peeves is being asked “is that based on so and so?”. None of my characters are based on any real people. Not even celebrities. They’re completely figments of my imagination. What’s real are the places they live, the jobs they have, their hobbies or careers.
In ThenAgain the beach town is fictional but it’s based on Ocean City, NJ where I’ve vacationed for the past 15 summers. It’s a quiet little town with an awesome boardwalk. I love to go there and the sights and sounds are a permanent part of my memory so I wanted that in the book.  Likewise there’s always some mention of food in my books. Food has always been a huge part of my life. I cook, I’ve worked extensively in the restaurant and catering industries and, honestly, I just love food. I can’t imagine writing a book where food doesn’t play a big part in the character’s lives. People eat and they share meals together. They cook for each other. Foods remind them of different events and times in their life. It’s important. It’s sensual. It’s always got a place in my books.
What character have readers asked you the most about? Which left an impression on them and did it surprise you?
Without question the character I most often get asked about is Daniel (the star of Meant To Be, the sequel Holding On and two short stories, All I Need and White Wedding). The most common question I get is “If Daniel ever leaves Marienne can you give him my number?” He’s had a lot of marriage proposals. Several requests for secret trysts. He’d be a very busy man if he weren’t so loyal to his fictional love, Marienne.
I had hoped that female readers would adore Daniel as much as I did while writing him. (And let’s face it, I can’t seem to stop writing him, he obviously got to me, that sweet-but-cheeky Brit.) What surprised me the most was the number of men who adore him. I expected men to say he was an unrealistic guy or that he was annoying because he’s so damn charming---instead they seem to think he’s a great guy. That shocked me. In a good way. One of the best compliments I  ever got on Meant To Be was from a (very straight) male reader who told me “Hell, he’s so perfect I’d leave my woman for him.” Just thinking of that comment makes me smile.
What project are you working on now?
I’m working on FOUR projects right now:
Just In Time is a companion/follow-up novel to Meant To Be and Holding On---it’s the story of Justine who is a secondary character in both novels. It’s due out  January 2014.
I’m toying with an idea for a companion novel to my next Samhain release (Leave The Lights On) because the best friend in that book seems to be demanding his own book. I have it worked out in my head but haven’t started writing quite yet.
There are two contemporary romances that I have underway. Both are friends to lovers tales but with extremely different takes. I’d tell you more…but I can’t yet.

About the Author

Karen Stivali is a prolific writer, compulsive baker and chocoholic with a penchant for books, movies and fictional British men. When she's not writing, she can be found cooking extravagant meals and serving them to family and friends, who never seem to mind the excessive quantities she tends to prepare. She attributes her ability to multitask to the fact that she rarely sleeps, which gives her more hours every day. Prior to deciding to write full time Karen worked as a hand drawn animator, a clinical therapist, and held various food-related jobs ranging from waitress to specialty cake maker. Planning elaborate parties and fundraisers takes up what's left of her time and sanity.
Karen has always been fascinated by the way people relate to one another so she favors books and movies that feature richly detailed characters and their relationships. In her own writing she likes to explore the dynamics between characters and has a tendency to craft romantic tales filled with sarcasm and sexy details. Although she writes in three genres (erotic romance, contemporary romance and women's fiction) all of her stories are love stories with happily ever after endings.
Karen has published several erotic romance novels with Ellora's Cave including two award winning stories: Always You (published September 2011, First Place Winner of the RWA Passionate Plume Award - 2012)and Marry Me (published June 2012, First Place Winner in the NEC-RWA Bean Pot Reader's Choice Award - 2013).
Her works of women's fiction, Meant To Be, and its sequel, Holding On, (published by Turquoise Morning Press in August and November 2012, respectively) both made multiple  Best of 2012 lists and are rated as true gems and recommended reads.
Karen's latest release, Then, Again is a contemporary foodie romance published by Samhain Publishing.
To learn more about Karen  and all her upcoming books you can visit her website where she blogs original recipes, sassy commentary on The Bachelor, and tidbits about her journey in the writing world. Karen can also be found attempting witty banter on Twitter.

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