Wine and Chat with Cait
Released July 23, 2013
Cait: “Welcome Elizabeth. Is there anything you want to say before we get started?”
Elizabeth: “I never know what to say. It’s a bit like setting up a video profile on an internet-dating site, and I don’t even like long walks on the beach.
Cait: “I don’t know what you mean.”
Elizabeth: “I am a lifelong writer, and I currently serve as Lead Editor for Renaissance Romance Publishing. While all of my books are romances, they have different elements incorporated that make each one unique. Anyone who read my last published piece, My Apple Tree, may be a little surprised by Wishing Cotton. They are two very different stories.
Thanks for hosting me!
Cait: “It’s a pleasure to have you. Having different elements in each story is unique. It keeps the readers craving more. Would you tell us about this book, Wishing Cotton? First, I like to say, I absolutely love this cover.”
Elizabeth: “Thank you. Throw a penny in a well for luck, wish on a star . . . There is no shortage of methods for wishing for one’s heart’s desire. No matter which ritual people follow, it never seems to work. Is there a way to make wishes come true? For best friends Olive Alexander and Blair Adams, a beach holiday provides the perfect opportunity to see if they can find the secret. Could fellow vacationer Peter Keyes hold the key to solving this puzzle?
Cait: “A mystery … being romantic suspense author myself, I love a mystery. So, how did you come up with the plot?”
Elizabeth: “Usually, I have a really coherent explanation of how the story came together, but I don’t for this one. It’s a bit of whimsy, really. I was just daydreaming one day and while my mind was wandering, I came up with the general premise. The story stays true to its roots, because it is a very lighthearted tale from beginning to end.”
Cait: “I think some of the best stories come when your mind and fingers flow without having a set destination. This story is a beach holiday is the setting any place in particular?”
Elizabeth: “I think the location is an amalgamation of different places I’ve visited over the years. There are bits of Kansas harvest festivals and New England boardwalks and Lake Erie beaches in the fictional world my characters inhabit in this story.”
Cait: “I’ve never been, it’ll be a treat to travel there in your books. What are the names of the main characters?”
Elizabeth: “Peter Keyes is a frustrated writer, Olive Alexander is a vivacious librarian, and Blair Adams is a very low-key artist. There is also a cat named Fred, and a cameo by Mr. J.P. Croupington.”
Cait: “Was there anyone that you based your characters on?”
Elizabeth: Not one specific person, no. I think that my (mild) obsession with Doctor Who may have influenced the way that the characters talk to each other. Fred is based on my own late cat, Orlando Furioso, whose disdain for humanity was very well-developed. I was the only human being he would tolerate, and that sort of approval endears an animal (or person) to you quite a bit.”
Cait: “My daughter has a cat that thinks she’s the only person on the planet. Is there one physical trait or traits that stand out with the main characters?”
Elizabeth: “I didn’t write these particular characters with an emphasis on their physical appearance. While the details are there, in this story in particular, the personalities are much more important to the romantic element. There is no moment of, “Wow,” when one character reacts or responds to another character based solely on appearance.”
Cait: “I like that. Looks can be overplayed. What is the personality trait that would pull your reader into loving them?”
Elizabeth: “Peter was fun to write because he’s obviously floundering and doesn’t really know what to do next, but he takes that uncertainty and finds humor in it. Olive has a sort of boundless enthusiasm that snares the people close to her – she’s loveable because she doesn’t apologize for dreaming and imagining, even when faced with skepticism. Blair is her opposite in many ways; she provides balance for Olive, serving as both the voice of reason and the voice of self-doubt that keeps Blair from dreaming as big or as freely as her friend.”
Cait: For something different, if you were to look in the hero/heroine’s trashcan in their family room, living room, den, whichever one you want to pick, but not the bathroom, kitchen, or laundry room, what interesting tidbit would we find?”
Elizabeth: “I think Peter would have crumpled scraps of paper with rejected novel notes scribbled on them. One or two pages would have little conversations with himself, where he’s written something like, “This is terrible. Surely you can come up with better than this,” and “Well, you try writing it, then, if you’re so smart,” and “It was a dark and stormy night.” Olive would be more likely to have random slips of paper, and perhaps some candy wrappers and little wads of chewing gum. She’s a more high-energy person, so I suspect you’d find more trash surrounding her garbage can than actually in it. Blair would have empty paint tubes, rags, and maybe a newspaper from a week ago that she bought because she thought she should but that she finally gave up on actually reading.”
Cait: “I liked to read through Peter’s discarded notes. He sounds like a hoot. Okay, look at your character’s feet. Describe what you see there. For instance, does he wear dress shoes, gym shoes, or none at all? Is he in socks that are ratty and full of holes? Or is he wearing a pair of blue and gold slippers knitted by his grandmother?”
Elizabeth: “Well, they’re all on vacation, so that affects things a bit. Peter would be a lace-up shoe guy, but not dress shoes, and he’d favor black socks. I can see him in sneakers or work boots, depending on the situation. Either way, they’d be pretty beat up, but because of his lack of interest in clothing rather than because he doesn’t want to pay to replace them. Olive is a little impulsive and impatient, so whether it was home or holiday, she’d steer more towards slip-on shoes that could be put on quickly. I see her in flats or flip-flops or slip-on sneakers, depending on the situation. Blair is a lace-up shoe sort. She would be likely to wear low boots or sturdy walking shoes with sensible socks, but she would wear sandals for a day at the beach.”
Cait: “On a day off, what would your characters be doing?”
Elizabeth: “Olive would go exploring, and Blair would probably go with her, partially to keep her in check and partially just for the fun of it. Peter strikes me as the wandering explorer type as well. These are the kind of people who would stop at little roadside shops in the middle of nowhere and buy whimsical tea cozies without knowing what they were.”
Cait: “You’re describing them so well that I feel like I already know them. What about your hero will make me swoon?”
Elizabeth: “There’s more “sweet” than “swoon” in this story, but here’s a bit where Olive does some swooning:
It was at this point that her brain went offline altogether, because she now learned that he was in possession of an ice cream cone, and he had chosen this precise moment to take a long lick. Her eyes followed the path of his tongue while it traveled in a wide swath along the creamy, cold surface. She had just enough presence of mind to lift her dropping jaw before his eyes returned to her face, saving her from humiliation.
Cait: “That was a tasty morsel and a good way to end our conversation about your characters. I’d like to talk about you. I know you’re a lifelong writer, a lead editor, and have written several books. What do you consider your greatest achievement?”
Elizabeth: “It’s a bit of a cliché, but my kids are my greatest achievement. My older son has a high-functioning form of autism, and my younger son has severe ADHD. My kids were in crisis a few years ago, so I quit my day job to help them and fight for them. We’re nowhere near done, but the payoff has been tremendous. It does a lot for a child’s self-esteem to know that he is really his parents’ top priority. Our boys know their parents are behind them every step of the way, and that’s helped to build their confidence.
Cait: Elizabeth, I have goose bumps. I’m so glad your boys have you and your husband. I’m of the belief, as well, that when a child knows the parents are behind them, they have greater confidence and self esteem therefore become stronger more prepared adults. What is your idea of perfect happiness?”
Elizabeth: “I don’t know if I believe in perfect happiness. Seems contrary to everything I know of human nature. But if I had to say anything, I’d say curled up with a good book, a nice breeze, and a strong cup of coffee.”
Cait: “That’s one of my favorite pastimes. What is your most treasured possession?”
Elizabeth: “I’m not big on “things,” but the possession with the most sentimental value is my teddy bear. I pulled him off a store shelf and chewed on him when I was just a baby, thereby forcing my parents to buy him, and I’ve kept him nearby ever since.”
Cait: “That’s cute. What or who is the greatest love of your life?”
Elizabeth: “There are so many kinds of love. My husband has certainly grown on me over the years. I adore my children, and I have a very small group of friends that are more like family. Non-people: the answer would be reading, followed closely by writing. It would take weeks to give a full answer to a question like that.”
Cait: “I never thought of it in such broad terms. Good point. We’re getting short on time, so I’ll ask a few questions without interjecting. When and where were you the happiest?”
Elizabeth: As a child, in my grandparents’ house in Kansas at Christmastime. As an adult, in Chautauqua Institution in New York State.”
Cait: “What did you do at Chautauqua Institution?”
Cait: “What is it that you most dislike?”
Elizabeth: “I have a hard time with people who choose to be ignorant because the truth would be inconvenient for them. So many hurts are caused just by people disregarding the needs of others – in the queue at the store, on the freeway, wherever. It may take effort to see other people, and what you see when you do may not fit into your world-view. It still needs to be done.
I also passionately dislike tomatoes.
Cait: “What is your greatest fear?”
Elizabeth: “It used to be death, but now it’s just regret.”
Cait: “What is your greatest extravagance?
Elizabeth: My one and only true extravagance is getting my roots dyed. Salt-and-pepper is not a good look on me.
Cait: “Sorry, I had to laugh. I’m with you. Which talent would you most like to have?”
Elizabeth: “Probably acting. There have been times in my life when it would have come in handy.
Cait: “Where would you like to live?”
Elizabeth: “I’d love to live in Chautauqua, New York. It’s ridiculously easy to be inspired there.”
Cait: “What is the quality you most like in a man?”
Elizabeth: “A lack of misogyny is always nice.”
Cait: “I agree. How about in women?”
Elizabeth: “A good sense of humor and a general propensity for avoiding drama.”
Cait: “What do you most value in your friends?
Elizabeth: “I have to trust them to be real with me and to be kind. They need to be able to speak my language, I guess. I don’t do judgment, I don’t do lies, and I don’t do cruelty.”
Cait: “Which living person do you most admire?”
Elizabeth: “It’s so hard to admire living people. They’re not done making asses of themselves yet. I guess the Dalai Lama would be a safe bet.”
Cait: “You do make me laugh. What is your motto?”
Elizabeth: “I don’t really have one. The phrase I’m best known for is “Oh, for fuck’s sake.”
Cait: “I’ve used that one a time or two myself. Are you with any specific writing groups?”
Elizabeth: “No, but I have taken some writing workshops and I cannot recommend them enough to emerging authors.”
Cait: “Elizabeth, I’ve enjoyed our chat is there anything else you’d like to add before the readers move on to your links and excerpt?”
Elizabeth: I have a historical romance novel titled The Truth Seekers scheduled for release this December. I hope anyone who likes my previous releases will give it a try!”
Cait: “I’ll mark it my calendar. Thank you for stopping by. It was lovely to meet you.
About Me: http://about.me/elizabeth.lawrence
Excerpt from your book:
Pulling a piece of cotton candy from its cone, Olive rolled it around in her fingers, letting it get sticky and matted. She glowered down at the mess she was making without really seeing it and thought, “All I want is a man who will love me for who I am. Someone I can talk to and laugh with and be friends with. I just wish I could fall in love and know that it was real and true and forever. A man I can grow old with and go exploring with and just . . .”
Olive jumped about half a foot. The unexpected greeting came from her left, where a man of about thirty sat grinning at her. She was certain he had not been there a minute ago. Even in her funk, she would have noticed the kind, dark brown eyes, expressive eyebrows, and generous lower lip that gave her some rather interesting ideas about potential nibbling. His hair looked almost as though he had been electrocuted, sticking up in all directions in a way that should have been a disaster, but he managed to pull it off somehow. It suited him.
She attempted to regain her composure, but her heart was still hammering in a rather determined manner. “Um . . . Hi.” Brilliant. Someone should give her the Pulitzer.
“So,” her new acquaintance continued in a smooth British accent, “are you having some sort of existential crisis, or are you just not a fan of funfairs in general? You looked quite cross when I sat down.”
“I suppose I did,” she agreed, not really wanting to tell this man that she’d been indulging in a bit of a pity party.