This weekend I'm so pleased to welcome author Lisa Hughey. I can't think of anyone I'd rather hang out with for a whole weekend than Lisa. She's just so much fun to chat with, plus I'm going to see if I can tease some details about what's next in the Family Stone series from her. (I'll share with all of you, of course).
If you haven't already read her new romantic suspense series. DO! Yes, you can enter the contest and see if you are the winner on February 3. But if you're looking for a really great read that includes HOT characters that admit to being less than perfect (wow, they are even hotter now), romantic scenes that literally burn the page (or screen), and story lines that keep you on the edge of your seat - this is a series for you.
So without further ado, Lisa, welcome to Fab Fantasy Fiction!
Lisa, welcome to Fab Fantasy Fiction this weekend. Oh, did I forget to tell you that you'll be staying ALL weekend? Well, that's because we have a lot to discuss with your new series THE FAMILY STONE. Would you care for some coffee or tea? Perhaps a glass of wine (it is after five on the East Coast). Coffee it is, then. Maybe we’ll have a glass of wine (Napa Valley, I made sure) after we finish our chat.
Great, let's sit down and I can’t wait to hear about these very HOT members of the Stone family, your writing, and the fabulous group of writers that you work with - the Pens Fatales.
(EVW) As a lover of romantic suspense, I am so happy to see you developing this series. I'm can't wait to see book four in your The Family Stone Romantic Suspense series, but wish it weren't the final one. Could you talk a bit about the series and if (hope hope) there might be a spin-off?
(LH) Hi Emsy! First off, thanks so much for having me. :)
The Family Stone series is about four siblings who have the same father, but different mothers. Jack and Riley's mom died when they were little, Connor's mom dropped him with his dad and brothers when he was a baby, and then Jess and her mom, Shelley come to live with Jack, Riley, and Connor when Jess and Con are four. (And yes, Connor and Jess are only a few months apart--Jackson Stone Sr clearly had a birth control problem--He couldn't keep it in his pants!!)
Jack Stone (Jr), former Navy, forms Global Humanitarian Relief (a company that funds and supports humanitarian missions around the world) and convinces his siblings to come work with him. A subset of GHR, Stone Consulting carries out secret missions that run concurrently with their humanitarian work. In the course of research for various books, I have been fascinated by the amount of infrastructure work and humanitarian aid that our armed forces carry out all over the world. I loved the idea of Jack continuing that type of work once he retired from the Navy but I also loved the idea that their humanitarian work could be a cover for more illicit activities.
As it turns out, Jack's story will NOT be the last one in the series. :) There will be a short story released around Valentine's Day featuring Keisha (from book #1 & #4) and Shane (from book #3). And another book later in the year featuring...hmm, you'll have to read Jack's story to find out. There will also be a spin-off series focusing on Adams-Larsen International and Associates (also introduced in Jack's book).
(EVW) I love the fact that the sister in the family (Jess) is having a significant role to play as well as the brothers. What was the inspiration behind this family?
(LH) The original concept for this series was going to be four short novellas featuring a blended family. My goal was approximately 20,000 words per novella, but stories that had enough substance to satisfy readers. One of the best things about e-publishing is being able to write in shorter formats. And as a reader, my time is limited so I love novellas. However, once I got into the characters and their family background and the suspense storyline, each book ended up being longer than I'd originally intended. Jess's is the shortest at 22K, but Con, Riley and Jack's stories are between 32 and 35K words. (oops!)
Honestly, besides the fact that as a reader, I love series with siblings, I really wanted to explore the dynamics of siblings in a blended family and how their upbringing affected their adult lives. Everything that happens to us, and how we react to it, shapes us.
And I didn't want passive women. Jess is a badass. I love that about her. :) Ava and Di are badasses too but in a slightly less overt way. :)
(EVW) In HEART OF STONE, book three in the series, your hero Riley deals with something that many of us have been affected by - either personally or we know friends who experience it. Could you share your reasons for depicting him with dyslexia?
[As someone who has a mild case, having been lucky to have a fierce speech pathologist mother who trained my mind to "deal" with it. I really appreciate your depiction of Riley in this book, Lisa.]
(LH) Thank you !! :)
This story is very dear to my heart. Dyslexia runs in my family. My sister battled with it as a kid (back when no one had ever even heard of it) and my son has dyslexia. It's frustrating when a child is smart, knows he or she is smart and yet, reading is a struggle. If they don't get the right help, especially early enough, it can affect their attitude about themselves and their confidence erodes.
As someone who always has her nose in a book, it hurts to know that there are people out there who miss out on exploring new worlds because it's just too difficult. Both my sister and my son are now avid readers, because they found stories that were *so* compelling that they didn't stop reading even though it was HARD.
Riley didn't get help early, which unfortunately happens, but he found ways to compensate which ultimately work to his benefit. I think too often we read heroes and heroines who are a little too perfect and I loved the idea of portraying a hero who had an issue that couldn't be cured away. It is a part of him and always will be.
(EVW) In addition to the suspense feature in the book, many of the characters work on behalf of the Stone's humanitarian outreach. I noted that you also indicated you'll be donating a portion of the sales of this book to charity. Could you speak to this?
(LH) I am fortunate enough to volunteer regularly with my daughter and through those opportunities I've discovered some amazing philanthropic organizations. I loved the idea of focusing on one organization or cause per story. Jess & Colin were earthquake relief. Con & Ava were helping trafficked women and children. Riley & Di were school supplies in the Philippines. Jack & Bliss touch on trafficked women and children again.
Riley's story is set in the Philippines which suffered a major disaster in Typhoon Haiyan a few months ago. I had already written the story when the typhoon hit. I thought about changing the story to include the typhoon but honestly the damage is so bad that it was too difficult. But I also didn't want to pretend it never happened, so I increased the cost of Heart of Stone to $2.99 (instead of my originally intended price of $1.99) and I am going to donate $1 to Save the Children for every book purchased through March 31, 2014.
Here's a link to what Save the Children is doing to help the children of the Philippines.
(EVW) With the success of Love on Main Street, your holiday anthology that was written with those fabulous authors who make up Pens Fatales, do you envision more stories set in Snow Creek?
(LH) We've discussed doing another anthology set at a different time of year. We had so much fun creating the town and it's history and the common characters that are sprinkled into many of the stories. It was a blast to work on it. :)
Our biggest issue is everyone finding a big enough chunk of time to get the stories written. Everyone's writing schedule is so busy right now! But I would love to write another Snow Creek story. From conception to publication, the book was an eight month venture, so likely it will be a year before another one comes out. :) Maybe Valentine's Day 2015 ?
(EVW) Could you talk a bit about Pens Fatales?
(LH) I'm so lucky to have such an amazing group of writer friends. We are very interconnected. Our original group was about half San Francisco Area RWA (romance writers) and half Sisters in Crime (mystery writers) but we were all in the Bay Area. I didn't know everyone. We had our first meeting in May (2009?) and took pictures in a cemetery and spent literally hours talking and laughing and brainstorming about what we wanted out of the blog. And what started as a business venture developed into fantastic friendships and group support. We have writing days, sleepovers, lunches, dinners, parties. We all went wig shopping with Gigi before she began chemotherapy.
Some of our members had to leave (too busy) and we added some new friends who are awesome. We are still posting but it is more random and less structured. We're talking about doing a Tumblr but right now it's only in the discussion phase. :)
(EVW) Lisa, I'm always amazed by the writers I meet as not only are they creating fabulous worlds and characters that we love - as you are. But they also are marketing themselves on social media constantly. Do you feel this pressure too? How can your readers and fans help out? Do you have a Street Team?
(LH) There is a lot of pressure to be visible in some format on the net. I follow my favorite writers to see what releases are coming up. And I love hearing about their inspiration and their lives so I understand the need to have a social media presence. And let's face it, social media can be A LOT of fun. :) It can also be a huge distraction. Some days it's far easier to post pictures on Pinterest than fiddle with a sentence to get the meaning exactly how I want it. :)
I actually like Twitter the best, short format and quick, and I can see when someone tweets at me and answer easily. Facebook still sort of mystifies me but I'm working on it!! I just started playing around with Tumblr, which I like because I can post a quick note with a song link. I tend to write to music and some days a particular lyric is just what I need to focus a scene. And I started a Pinterest which I love because it's so visual.
The best thing readers and fans can do is review a book, on Amazon, BN, All Romance eBooks, Goodreads, any place that has reviews. Of course I hope you LOVE the book :) :) but even if you don't, let people know why. Reading is a subjective business. What tugs at my heartstrings may leave you completely cold. There's nothing wrong with that. Share the love, the hate, the meh. It all helps. :)
Oh, a Street Team (insert sigh of longing). I love this concept. And frankly it's on my list of things to work on this year but I don't have one yet!! If anyone is interested, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org I am open to input about what kinds of special swag street team members would like to receive and what things they would and wouldn't want to do.
(EVW) I'm curious, who was your favorite author(s) growing up? Who's on your bookshelf now?
(LH) Favorite authors growing up: I read pretty voraciously but the keepers, Elizabeth Peters/Barbara Michaels, Judy Blume, Nora Roberts are still on my shelves. :)
My bookshelf now: Liliana Hart (if I ever meet her, I'll be a total fangirl and I'm not usually very gushy), Suzanne Brockmann, Nalini Singh, Cherry Adair, Maya Banks, JR Ward (early BDB), Elizabeth Lowell, Laura Griffin, Kaylea Cross, Christine Feehan (Game series), Jami Alden, Nora Roberts (still!) and of course ALL the Pens, past and present. :)
Lisa, thanks again so much for joining us here this weekend. People will be dropping by and I wondered what question you'd like them to answer to enter the giveaway? No topic is off limits :)
Emsy--Thank you so much for having me. It's always fun to talk creative process and book development since a lot of information never actually makes it into the books. :)
What's your favorite philanthropy? (and why if you'd care to share...)
And to start it off, my favorite philanthropy is the Food Bank (through ups and downs we have always been able to put food on our table, for which I am supremely grateful) because no one in our country should have to go to bed hungry.
READ AN EXCERPT FROM
STONE COLD HEART BY LISA HUGHEY
FAMILY STONE BOOK 1 JESS
Through the Leupold Ultra M3 fixed power sight, Jess Stone tracked the movements of Henri LeRoy, leader of this tiny island nation, violator of human rights and dignity, and all around poor excuse for a human being.
Sickness roiled in her stomach. The power bar she’d eaten for breakfast threatened to add to the rubble pile as she tried to figure out how in the hell she'd ended up here. Back behind a sniper rifle with the power over life and death trembling in the muscles of her right trigger finger.
Dammit. When she'd decided to take control of her life and quit the FBI, she hadn't wanted to do this any more. She'd wanted to be a simple relief worker. She'd wanted to connect with her family, brothers and mother.
But that bitch, fate, had slapped her upside the head and now here she was, where she'd sworn she never wanted to be again.
READ AN EXCERPT FROM
Family Stone #2 Connor
She sighed. Connor, who never even noticed her.
Oh, he acknowledged her. He smiled. Said hello. But there was distance in their interactions that she was pretty sure was deliberate. And since they had very few interactions, none personal, she knew he didn't want to get to know her.
Maybe on the outside she appeared as a confident, well-dressed, well-groomed woman, but on the inside she was still that painfully shy wallflower, the migrant worker who didn't quite belong, who squeaked when spoken to and couldn't ever act normal in a social situation.
She'd worked hard to overcome her natural reticence. To learn to be polished and to strive for classy and sophisticated. To eradicate the dust and dirt from the fields and her native Sinaloan accent. She'd come a long way in the last eight years, but she still had difficulty speaking to men she found attractive. And she definitely found Connor Stone attractive.
"Sorry, Ava," Jack called from his office. She knew he was. He was gruff and a little rough around the edges but he meant well. He'd given her a job right out of college and helped her acclimate to a new world with affection and patience. He treated all his employees like family, which meant he frequently didn't think before he spoke.
Jack, she could handle. She grinned. "Expect my lawsuit in the mail," she quipped back, completely at ease with her totally hot boss. And he was. Totally hot. At thirty-four, he was also a little on the old side for her. But Ava wasn't attracted to Jack. He didn't make her girl parts tingle the way his brother did. Jack was like the older brother she'd never had and always wanted.
ENTER THE GIVEAWAY
TO WIN DIGITAL COPIES OF
BOOKS 1-3 IN THE FAMILY STONE SERIES
Make sure to answer Lisa's question in the comments below, when you enter the giveaway.
My question: What's your favorite philanthropy? (and why if you'd care to share...)
FAMILY STONE ROMANTIC SUSPENSE SERIES
TO YOUR BOOKSHELF
Family Stone #1 Jess
Publication Date: December 29, 2013
Jess Stone, former FBI sniper, always felt like the kid who looks in the candy store window but could never afford to go in. But on a humanitarian mission to aid an earthquake ravaged country, finally she finds a place where she fits, in Colin Davies' arms, and working for Global Humanitarian Relief, her big brother's company. But can the former SAS thaw Jess's stone cold heart?
Family Stone #2 Connor
Publication Date: December 25, 2013
Connor Stone has always been odd man out in his family. Not the oldest, not the most charming, he'd had a lock on the youngest until another half-sibling came to live with them, so he raised hell in his youth. Con knows now the only way to redeem himself is with deeds, not words and sets out to prove once and for all he is worthy of the Stone family. When his older brother asks him to take care of business, Con finally will have redemption he craves. Except when Ava Sanchez, his brother's assistant, is threatened, he must choose between saving the girl or protecting his family. Will his choice bring him love or break his heart?
Family Stone #3 Riley
Publication Date: January 3, 2014
Riley Stone is the handsome brother, the charming one. Everyone who meets him compares him to his father, which in his mind is not a compliment. But he's never met a woman he couldn't charm, until he meets Di, an acerbic, smart-mouthed, passionate activist who has no time for him or his charm. On the run, in the midst of danger, the blistering passion they share explodes. Can these two opposites find common ground, or will Di smash Riley's stone heart?
Still the One
Family Stone #4 Jack
Jack Stone, former Navy SEAL, and oldest Stone sibling is determined to keep his family strong. Family is everything. So he starts Global Humanitarian Relief and Stone Consulting to do some good and keep his family together. But when he has to team up with his old flame, Bliss, on a missing persons case, an evil threatens him, his family and the one woman he could never forget and doesn't want to let go. Can these two former lovers put aside past hurts and heal their hearts?
Lisa Hughey has been writing romance since the fourth grade, which was also about the time she began her love affair with spies. Harriet and Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys later gave way to James Bond and Lara Croft and Jason Bourne. Exploring the complex nature of a profession that requires subterfuge and lies fascinates her. She loves combining her two passions into fiction (as evidenced by her Black Cipher Files series).
Archangel Rafe was her first foray into the paranormal but after spending time in the Angelic Realm, it won't be her last. At their heart, the Seven novels are about the dynamics of family relationships. But the really hot Archangels don't hurt.
And recently she's been immersed in the Stone Family novellas, four stories about a blended family of brothers and sister who have a lot more in common than they realize. But of course she couldn't just write about family and romance. There are complex plots, bad guys, and suspense too.
Lisa loves to hear from readers and has various places you can connect with her, although, shh, Twitter is her favorite.
Keep in touch with Lisa
After you've read about Riley Stone in book three, Heart of Stone, did you want to know a little more about dyslexia?
If so, here are some organizations to check into: