Friday, July 9, 2010

Welcome Guest Blogger: Meg Benjamin:)

1. What do you write and why?
I mainly do contemporary stuff—even my paranormals and urban fantasy take place in the present time and in familiar places. Largely it’s because I like to feel like I know what I’m doing, and historical stuff takes a lot of research!
2. What do you read and why, especially if it's different from what you write?
I’m also a fan of contemporary romance, but I like thrillers, mysteries, and detective stories too. My favorite stuff has a touch of humor, like Jennifer Crusie and Susan Elizabeth Phillips among contemporary authors and Loretta Chase and Barbara Metzger among historicals. But mainly I love reading authors who really know what they’re doing—Nora Roberts, of course, but also writers like Eloisa James and Sarah Smith. People whose prose style is just a joy to read.
3. Who do write for?
So far I’ve published all my books with Samhain Publishing.
4. How long have you been writing?
It feels like forever, but it’s more like a decade! Before I retired, I was a college teacher, which meant I was mainly writing scholarly stuff and textbooks. But around ten years ago, I decided I really wanted to write fiction. It took me a while to understand how to go about it (I’ve got some real clunkers hidden away in my files), but I finally hooked up with Samhain in 2008.
5. How do you world build?
I start from the known. My four books for Samhain are all set in the Texas Hill Country, where I used to hang out a lot when I lived in Texas. I took elements of several small towns and created my own: Konigsburg. It should be recognizable, at least in part, to most people who have passed through the area.
6. How do you write: the process and atmosphere?
I don’t think you can be too picky about atmosphere—if you are, you’ll never get anything done! I usually start by working my way through some charts from Delilah Devlin’s plotting bootcamp (which I highly recommend for everybody). Then when I have a general idea of the way the plot’s going to go, I start in at the beginning and plow through until I come to the end. I like to go sequentially because I know I can always come back later and revise assuming I’ve got a story to work with.
7. How do you build characters and their personalities and looks?
Again, I use Delilah’s charts to get myself thinking about them. But I find they begin to develop as I write so I try not to tie myself down too much.
8. Tell me about some of your heroes and heroines:
My Konigsburg heroes so far (I hope the series can keep going) are four brothers: Cal, Pete, Lars, and Erik Toleffson. They’re all Iowa boys (like my own DH) who have moved to this small town in Texas. Cal is the hero of Venus In Blue Jeans, the original nice guy who falls hard for Docia Kent, a woman who’s not too sure she’s ready for a romance. Pete is the hero of Wedding Bell Blues, a born fixer who wants to make sure everybody gets what they should have, except that he doesn’t seem very good at getting what he needs for himself. He’s Cal’s best man and he falls for his female counterpart, Janie Dupree, a born fixer herself and Docia’s maid of honor. Then there’s Lars, an accountant who’s the hero of Be My Baby. He’s the father of a little girl and the survivor of a horrendous divorce. He becomes involved with his babysitter, Jess Carroll, who’s a woman with a lot of secrets. And finally, there’s Erik. His story, Long Time Gone, has just been released at Samhain. He’s the chief of police in Konigsburg, but he’s got a dark past as a bully and a petty criminal. That past starts to catch up with him, but not before he falls in love with a local winery owner, Morgan Barrett.
9. Are you a pantser or plotter?
Definitely a plotter. I like to figure out where I’m going in advance.
10. What's your WIP?
I have a couple of them. One, Medium Well, is a ghost story and mystery set in San Antonio. The other, Away, is an urban fantasy set in my new home in the foothills of the Colorado Front Range.
11. What's your latest release and tell me about it:
My newest release is Long Time Gone. Here’s the blurb:
A future with the woman of his dreams is within his grasp…if the past will stay that way.
Konigsburg, Book 4
Erik Toleffson wasn’t looking to become Chief of Police. He’s got enough trouble trying to rebuild his relationship with his three brothers who, until just recently, ran the other way when he approached. He’s not the bully they grew up with, but bad memories are tough to overcome.
Morgan Barrett is as worn out as a vat full of crushed grape skins. She never planned to run Cedar Creek Winery, but there’s no one else to shoulder the load as her father recovers from an injury. All she needs is a little sleep. Just a five-minute nap in the booth at the Dew Drop Inn…if that guy across the bar would stop staring at her as if putting her head down on the table is a crime.
After Morgan yawns in Erik’s face, there’s nowhere to go but up. With time, though, their relationship warms like a perfectly blended Bordeaux. Until the shady mayor digs into Erik’s past and dredges up information that could drive a permanent wedge between him and his brothers—and sour any chance of a future with Morgan.
Warning: Contains hot sex with mango sherbet, crooked politicians, yuppie bikers, Bored Ducks, and a Maine Coon Cat with attitude.
12. Anything from your personal life you'd like to tell us?
A year ago I moved from South Texas, where we’d lived for over twenty years, to the foothill suburbs of Denver. At the same time, I retired from my long-time job teaching writing and document design. It’s been quite an adjustment, but I really love my new home!

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