Thursday, December 7, 2017

A Book a Day with Tracy Ewens: Smooth & Guest Post

Smooth (A Love Story #10)
Coming January 23, 2018
Genre: Romance

If only life came with a guarantee.
 Patrick McNaughton wants more. More people drinking Foghorn’s beer, more money to push their brewery past the competition, and more cooperation from his brothers, who have no sense of urgency. He’s all about conquering one challenge on his way to the next, so long as there’s a remote chance of winning. That’s why Aspen Pane sits in the office down the hall, oblivious to his attraction. Patrick has always wanted more with her, but he never was one to risk it all.

Aspen Pane has more than enough. As business manager for Foghorn, she keeps the brewery in the black and lives up to the nickname the McNaughton brothers gave her—Wonder Woman. She’s worked hard her whole life for the money she now has in the bank, the small house she calls home, and time with her friends. So, even though it seems everyone close to her, including her brother, is inconveniently falling in love, Aspen sticks with her to-do list. Because love risks everything and she doesn’t do that for anyone.

After an unexpected flight and an eccentric venture capitalist thrust them into a battle of wits and lies even they’re not sure they can win, Patrick and Aspen must learn the difference between making a connection and making money. They may need to face their fears and risk it all in the name of finding a new work-love balance.

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Guest Interview Post
What made you interested in writing about a brewery and the men who run it? What research went into writing about the beer process? With Pinterest in mind, how did you come up with each character and find people who resembled what you pictured? 
Confession time. I don’t drink beer. I know it’s wrong, and this would be so much more exciting if I were a beer aficionado, but I’m not. I noticed you are a craft beer lover, Carlene, so you’ll have to carry that torch for me. 

I am, however, fascinated with the beer making process. While on vacation, I took a tour of Lagunitas and decided I wanted to spend some time at a brewery. Honestly, that’s how I choose my locations. 

I tend to write in threes, which takes about a year. I ask myself where I want to spend that time and with whom. The brewery was a fit for me because I am drawn to characters that are passionate about what they do. They don’t come any more passionate than the craft brewery culture. 

Regarding Pinterest, sometimes I will see a picture of a man or woman and decide they need a story. My inspiration for Boyd was the black and white picture with the backward hat. There is so much going on in those eyes, that face. I set out to explore that man and came away with Brew. 

I am not a sports fan, so it wasn’t until later that I learned that picture is Daniel Norris. While only his looks were the inspiration for Boyd, he seems like a pretty cool guy in the real world. Ella evolved from the words, “beauty is a distraction.” Not sure where I saw that, but that was the seed for her character. I set out to find that woman. When I saw the picture of Ella (Amber Valletta) in the white T-shirt, I knew I’d found at least a part of her. Characters naturally grow from the initial inspirations, but Pinterest is a fun jumping board.

I didn’t use to share my boards with readers for fear of ruining their images of the characters, but I suppose it’s fun to see behind my crazy mind. Chris Pine will always be Grady, just putting that out there. ☺ 

Without giving too much away about the book, what can you share about Smooth? Did you know you would be writing about Patrick when you were writing Brew? What is the process when writing novels that have small and sometimes large tie ins to one another? 

I knew Boyd, Patrick and Cade would get their stories back when I wrote Exposure, which opens with West in a very “celebrity” situation. The more I got to know him the more I knew he needed something substantial to balance all that fluff. His great family and especially his brothers came in a scene first. 

The scene in Exposure when West brings Meg home for the first time was the second or third scene I wrote for Exposure. It was one of those rare and incredible moments when I saw all of the McNaughtons and their place in the family. It was never again that simple, but it was an excellent first introduction.  

After that point, I needed to know the McNaughtons in order to write West’s story. They grew as I moved closer to their own stories, but the gist of each man was there in the beginning. Patrick was always my straight brother. Second born and not quite Boyd, so he went in the opposite direction. I love the friction that simmers on the top for these two. When Boyd cuts his hand, I knew Patrick needed to be nearby. It’s interesting now because I know them all so well that when I’m writing, I catch myself saying, “No, that’s something Cade would say.” 

When I wrote about the Jeffries sisters (Vacancy, Playbook, Exposure), I started oldest and ended with the youngest, Meg. This time around I started with Westin, the youngest and then jumped to the oldest. That was fun. I am an only child, so I’m interested in siblings, birth order, etc. The ties come to me as I’m writing, again usually in a scene. 

In Stirred, Sage gets a call from her mother that her oldest sister, Hollis, has had a meltdown. Hollis retreats to the seaside town where they summered as children, and I knew I wanted Hollis, a corporate powerhouse, to find herself in her past. That past led to Matt and one of the hardest books I have written so far. 

I normally have a goal in mind with each book. Some writing challenge I want to take on. With Vacancy, I wanted to explore two people that didn’t work out the first time around and a heroine that wasn’t particularly likable. I cried with Hollis, wanted to smack her, and by the end of that process had taken a full journey. I always strive to do my characters justice. Hollis made me work for it.

What was the question? Oh, Smooth. Patrick is the responsible sibling. He’s also the charmer, the guy who can talk his way into and out of every situation. Aspen is sarcastic. It was fun being in her head, but she is also hardened by the realities of her upbringing. She has a fantastic grandmother she calls, Grand, and a tender mom who sees love very differently than her daughter. Aspen is self-made, which I loved writing. 

Smooth is the first time I’ve written a story about two people who are so alike. I enjoy opposites-attract, but with Smooth I wanted to see if I could write a story about two people tripping over similar issues on their way to one another.

I really appreciate that you (Tracy) writes about characters who have big goals, have achieved or are working towards their dreams, and are really complete as individuals. None of them are necessarily seeking a relationship, it's more like a welcome (or unwelcome) addition in their lives that makes things better. Is there a reason why you writes such accomplished characters and characters with big goals? 

First of all, thank you. The goal for me above everything else is to create dynamic people. I tend to write low or soft concept stories, meaning there’s not a lot of drama or intricate plot lines. So, if the people in those stories don’t connect with readers, it’s boring for them and a face plant for me. 

I write about people I want to be around. People who are engaged, passionate and finding their way towards something, be it acceptance or promotion. I write big school names because they always eluded me and I’m intrigued by that heady level. I write about women in less than ordinary jobs because that level of commitment provides built-in conflict once her heart gets involved. 

I don’t believe most men and women set out to find the loves of their lives, at least those are not the stories I know how to tell. I write what I call idle-Tuesday romance. Women and men committed to their growth, challenges, and aspirations who find themselves on any given day with a flicker of attraction or feelings they can’t ignore. Love grows on top of everything else already going on in their lives, and the push-pull of that is entertaining. At least I hope it is. ☺

Finally, I know large series tend to be ominous to jump into, especially after they've been out for some time. What is the difference between the A Love Story series and other series that are shorter in length.

The A Love Story series concept goes back to the first book Premiere. I felt like that one word was the perfect title. I didn’t want anything else, but with the curtain and the stage, I wasn’t sure it would be clear that it was a love story. I grappled with other titles and finally when my husband had had more than an earful, he said, “Why don’t you just put ‘a love story’ on the cover? Then people will know.”  I think that’s what is called an ah-ha moment. I loved the idea, and it has allowed for such freedom with my titles and covers. 

The books are technically clusters of related stories loosely strung together, and they all work as standalones. 

Premiere and Candidate - Three friends. Two fall in love and the third friend (Grady) falls for Kate outside the friend group.

Taste, Reserved, and Stirred - Grady’s sister (Kara) links to Logan in Taste. He owns a restaurant which then launches these three. Reserved, is Kenna (Logan’s sister) and Stirred is Sage, the restaurant’s bartender with Garrett, Logan’s oldest brother.

Vacancy, Playbook, and Exposure - The love stories for Sage’s three sisters (Hollis, Annabelle, and Meg).

Brew, Smooth (1/23/18) and Tap (6/2018) - Westin falls for Meg in Exposure. These three books are the love stories for his brothers. They own a brewery in northern CA.

After Tap, which is Cade and Sistine’s story, the series will move to Bodega Bay. 

To answer your question, the structure of the A Love Story series isn’t as restrictive as many long series can be because it’s not really a series, more of a thread. When readers pick up one of my books marked A Love Story, they know what they are getting. If I ever decided to write a different “type” of book, I would have to change that subtitle.

Anything you would like to share that maybe hasn't been shared before would be great. 

The first book after Tap will be about Sistine’s brother. He is briefly mentioned in Brew as a glass-blower who saves the day right before the Tap House opens. He lost his arm from the forearm down in an accident and dropped out of the family fishing business. That left Sistine’s younger sister to take over the fishing boat while their parents run the crab house. Female fishing boat captain? Yes, she definitely gets her own story. 

Great questions, Carlene. Thank you for your beautiful Book-a-Day posts. It has been so much fun revisiting these stories.

About the Author

Tracy Ewens is a recovered theater major and author of the A Love Story Series.

She shares a beautiful piece of desert with her husband and three children in New River, Arizona, where she walks her dog Jack, drinks copious amounts of tea, and reads well past her bedtime.

Find Tracy on Twitter at @tracy_ewens and on Pinterest at tracy_ewens. You can also stop by to sign up for updates and news.

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