Happy Birthday, Janga! Wishing you sunshine, smiles, and happily ever afters today and always.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Today's Special - - Suzanne Ferrell


It's my pleasure to welcome Suzanne Ferrell back to The Romance Dish. I'm a fan of Ferrell's small town, contemporary Westen series, with its strong cast of characters and intriguing thread of suspense as well as her Edgars family romantic suspense stories with their determined fight for justice, even if they have to sidestep the rules to achieve it.  

Suzanne discovered romance novels in her aunt's hidden stash one summer as a teenager. From that moment on she knew two things: she loved romance stories and someday she'd be writing her own. Her love for romances has only grown over the years. It took her a number of years and a second career as a nurse to finally reach her dream but she now has a full-time career writing heartwarming - and heartstopping - romances I love to read. 

Suzanne joins us today to blog about her three Christmas novellas, set within her fictional Westen, Ohio community, including her newest: Close to Santa's Heart


The Sideways Christmas In Westen


One of my favorite things about Christmas is all the Christmas romances that are published in the late fall. I mean, seriously, is there anything more romantic than finding love at Christmas? I’ve always loved reading Christmas romances and wanted to write one of my own. And I love reading novellas this time of year, because they’re quick and I can get my reading fix in and still have time for shopping, baking, decorating…oh yeah, and writing.

Now, I had two series to choose from to write my Christmas story. There was the Edgars Family novels and the Westen Series. The Edgars Family novels are darker and edgier.  The Westen Series books, while each has some element of suspense in them, are more laid back with the stories about a small town and things that occur in it. (Can I help it if dead bodies turn up and fires sometimes break out?) So, when looking at the two series, it made more sense to me to set my first Christmas novella in Westen.

So I did. It was titled Close To Christmas and centered around the wedding of the sheriff and one of his deputies. Problem was, at the end of the book, I sort of leave…okay, I really leave a budding relationship between two secondary characters and a mystery hanging in the wind. But that’s okay, because I planned to give those characters the next big book in the series. First I had to jump back over and write the next Edgars book to keep those readers happy.

Before I could get to that big Westen book, I was asked to be part
of a Christmas book bundle last year. I was thrilled and honored to be included, so the big book was put on hold and back to Westen we went for another Christmas novella. I didn’t want to imply that a year had taken place in the timeline, because I really do have my two characters for the big book with a big problem to solve, so I decided that I’d make the second Westen Christmas novella, Close To The Mistletoe, taking place at the exact same time as Close To Christmas. Which meant I had to read and re-read the first novella so I could include some details from it in the second book. It was fun and I got to envision more of how much Christmas means to the residents of Westen.

And this year I was again asked to be part of a Christmas book bundle, Under The Kissing Bough. Once more I visited the folks in Westen and decided to place this third novella, Close To Santa’s Heart, in the same timeline as the previous two. This time I focused on the romance between another of the town’s deputies, Cleetus Junkins and the little hair dresser, Sylvie Gillis.

Yes, I know Cleetus isn’t a very heroic name. He popped up as a secondary character in Close To Home, the first book in the series, rescuing twin boys and their grandmother who suffers from Alzheimer’s when they were out wandering on a highway near town. (Heroic, huh?) And then he got injured trying to help the sheriff stop a dangerous criminal in Close To The Edge. (More quiet hero stuff.) Then all of a sudden people were writing me emails and messaging me asking when he was going to get a romance. Here’s the blurb for his and Sylvie’s story:

As Westen’s resident Santa, Deputy Cleetus Junkins brings the magic of Christmas to his beloved home town each year.  He oversees lighting the tree in the square and raising the huge mistletoe kissing bough in the gazebo. At the parties he visits with children and the elderly. Amid all this joy even Santa can be lonely. Or he used to be. This year, Cleetus has a helper. 

Sylvie Gillis came to Westen for a fresh start only to have her heart immediately melted by a shy gentle giant of a deputy. Her childhood was short on happiness but playing elf to Cleetus’ Santa makes her want to believe in Christmas miracles.

As Cleetus and Sylvie help bring Christmas joy to the citizens of Westen, the holiday magic weaves its way into their hearts. Will the reason Sylvie left home come between them or can she stay Close To Santa’s Heart?

Again, I had to read through the other two novellas, pick out scenes Sylvie and Cleetus were in for those books and find a way to weave them in among the romance, Christmas celebration and little mystery in the book. Oh yeah…all on a limited word count. Woohoo! Nothing like a challenge!

Then it occurred to me. From a timeline perspective, I’d written the whole thing sideways. I started with the final story on the timeline, wrote the first one second and finished up with the middle story. Confused? Yeah, me too. How’d I do that?

So, if you’ve never read any of the Christmas novellas, the reading order is this:
1. Close To The Mistletoe
2. Close To Santa’s Heart
3. Close To Christmas




If you have been reading them, I’m sorry I wrote them out of order, but hope you’ll love Cleetus and Sylvie’s story in the Under The Kissing Bough book bundle with 15 new Christmas novellas in it. (Oh, and by the way, I’m finally getting to those two characters and their big story!)

Merry Christmas and Happy reading everyone!
Suzanne


Are you reading Suzanne's Westen series?  

Do you read mostly novellas over the busy holidays (I do!) or do you still indulge in full-length books?

Do you enjoy a quiet, thoughtful hero or do you go for the macho, alpha type? 

Suzanne is giving away an e-book set of her first two Westen Christmas novellas: Close to Christmas and Close to the Mistletoe (Thank you, Suzanne!) to three randomly chosen people who leave a comment by 11:00 pm (EST), December 2, 2016.

Find more information about Suzanne and her books at her website.
Connect with her online at:


21 comments:

  1. Welcome, Suzanne! I've enjoyed all of your Westen stories. I didn't realize (maybe because I read each novella when it released) that these three stories were published out of order. It obviously didn't lessen my enjoyment. Looking forward to that next big book! :)

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    1. Hey PJ! Thanks for having me. The Dish is one of my favorite places to hang out. (I'm usually lurking in the corner, expanding my TBR pile exponentially!!) Funny thing about writing in a small town, there's always a lot going on and more than one story to tell. Christmas just let me give a 3-D feel to the experience...even if I didn't know it or conceive it when I started! I'm so glad you've enjoyed them.

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  2. Suz, what a great holiday selection! I love the Westens, and I like both kinds of heroes. I read more short stories and novellas this time of year than any other time. I love holiday shorts and have hung onto the old Signet Regency anthologies. Congrats on your new releases!

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    1. Thanks Nancy! I loved those old Signet Regencies, too. Hooked my daughter on reading by giving her one to read while we watched Pride & Prejudice together.

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  3. Suzanne is a new-to-me author. Love reading novellas.

    denise

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    1. Hi, Denise! I hope you'll enjoy these stories as much as I loved writing them!

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  4. You are a new author for me. That is the joy of the season. So many wonderful novellas. With so much going on, it is easy read. Have added you to my TBR list.

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    1. Hi Pamela! Thanks for adding me to your TBR. The nice thing about novellas, read a couple and you feel like you've made a dent in that pile, huh? :)

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  5. I love reading Christmas stories. I read full-length and novellas in the weeks leading up to Christmas. Historical and contemporary stories are equally entertaining for me. I just seem to need that extra dose of heartwarming romances during this busy time of year.

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    1. Hi, Cheryl! That's one of the things that I love about them too. With all the chaos and things that needs to get done, it's easy to lose the magic of the season. Reading Christmas romances helps me to relax and they help put me in the mood for the holiday, too.

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  6. I think Cleetus is an awesome name if solely because it's unique and charming in its own unique way ;)
    I love all kinds of heroes, alphas, low-key, happy-go-lucky, geeky, as long as it fits the story I'm all in.

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    1. Hi, MsAwesome! Cleetus would love you! He has such a special place in my heart, but it did take readers to point out to me that he'd make a great hero! He's my gentle giant and it was great to see him become the angry alpha when his love is threatened!

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  7. I liked the Signet Regencies - and I do love novellas when time is short. As for heroes, I like the quiet type or the macho alpha male depending on the story and the way they treat their heroine. That is more important to me.

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    1. Hi, Annette! Getting a quick romance reading fix in during the holidays is like a little guilty pleasure, isn't it? I'm with you, I like all types of heroes and it's all about their treatment and honoring of the heroine for me, too!

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  8. Love the West in series. I read both novellas and full length books this time of year, mostly with Christmas themes.

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    1. Hi, Debbie!! I hope you've had a chance to read Cleetus' story to see if I got it right! :)

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  9. Hi Suzanne, PJ (waves madly). Sorry to be late to the party but have to tell you I am completely in love with Cleetus/Sylvie and Westen all decked out for the holidays. Sigh, small town community, pumpkin pie and perm curlers. LOVE Close to Santa's Heart

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    1. Joanie!!!!!!!!!!!! (waving madly back!) Cleetus is just so...loveable, isn't he? And Sylvie? She's the perfect elf to his Santa...IMHO. :) So glad you enjoyed CTSH. Mwaaah! I loved your story An Irish Gift in the Under The Kissing Bough bundle too and can't wait for Killian's full length book!

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  10. I love these small town romances!

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    1. Hi, Nikki! Westen is fast becoming one of my favorite places to visit! And luckily for me, I get to go there often. :)

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  11. I just read whatever comes up in my pile next...

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