Tag Archives: Contest winner

My first #authorinterview of 2020! Meet Helen C. Johannes

My first Author Interview for 2020 is with Wild Rose Press sistah, Helen C. Johannes. Helen writes fantasy romance laden with rich characters and lush settings through the pages. She has a new book out, LORD OF DRUEMARWIN, and she’s giving you a sneak peek at the end of this interview, so stick around.

First, lets’s find out a bit about Helen’s 2 lives – the writer, and the gal:

Helen C. Johannes, The Writer 

1. What drives you to write?

Stories in my head clamoring for attention and characters who simply won’t be denied their day in print.

2. What genre(s) of Romance do you write, and why?

Fantasy romance. My beloved first book was a collection of fairy tales from the European tradition. Plus, I spent formative years in the heart of Europe’s castle country where all things medieval surrounded me and history fascinated me. I could have gone into historical romance but for one important trait: I really, really like playing by my own rules. Fantasy romance lets me build medieval-style worlds that deliver the kind of storylines I want, limited only by my imagination.

3. What genre(s) of Romance do you read, and why?

I read across genres but my go-to genre is romantic suspense, both historical and contemporary. I found Agatha Christie and Mary Stewart early on, and the seamless blend of love and danger hooked me. That’s probably why I incorporate some kind of ‘ticking time bomb’ in my fantasy romances.

4. What’s your writing schedule? Do you write everyday?

As often as I can but not every day. Life has a way of setting its own schedule.

5. Give us a glimpse of the surroundings where you write. Separate room? In the kitchen? At the dining room table?

I write on my laptop at the kitchen table. It’s the warmest, sunniest room in the house (I live in a northern climate) and snacks/beverages are readily available. Plus, I’ve put my comfy office chair right up to the table

6. Are you the kind of writer who needs total quiet to compose, or are you able to filter out the typical sounds of the day and use your tunnel-vision?

When I’m deep into a scene and the words are flowing, I’m totally oblivious to anything else. Most days, though, I need quiet, or at least no one talking around or to me.

7. Do you listen to music while you write, and if so, what kind? If not, why not?

Sometimes I put on a little music, but it has to be instrumental or I’ll listen to the words rather than concentrate on my work. Lord of the Rings soundtrack or Enya, for example.

8. How did you come up with the plotline/idea for your current WIP?

The idea originated from unfinished business in PRINCE OF VAL-FEYRIDGE and, oddly enough, the Princess and the Pea fairy tale. Book one ends with their world on the brink of a new beginning. I had introduced a love interest for a major character near the end, and their love story just begged, nagged to be told in that context. My heroine faces the dilemma of the outsider, the princess who is tested by the proverbial pea to see if she and her love are worthy of the hero, his people, and the new alliances. I had fun writing all the complications that ensue before the happily ever after.

9. Which comes first for you – character or plot? And why?

Kind of both, togetherI’m what I call an ‘into the mist’ writer. That means I’m a pantser with an initial, loose plan of some serious problems for my characters to solve. The way they solve those problems usually morphs as I go along and as the characters reveal more about themselves. For me, the proverbial carrot that engages me in any story is finding out where it goes and enjoying the ride.

10. What 3 words describe you, the writer?

Intuitive, creative, layered (Peggy here: I lovelovelove that description – layered!!! fabulous!)

Helen, the Gal:

Tell us one unusual thing about yourself – not related to writing!

I double-majored in German and English.

  1. Who was your first love and what age were you?

My grandmother’s neighbor’s boy; I think I was 12, he was 14.

  1. If you could relive one day, which one would it be? Think GROUNDHOG DAY, the movie for this one – you’ll have to live it over and over and….

Meeting my husband; we danced the polka, badly, and talked for hours.

  1. What’s one thing you love about your significant other?

He’s my best friend and full partner.

  1. If you had to give up one necessary-can’t-live-without-it item, what would it be?

Milk chocolate—as long as I could still have dark chocolate

  1. What three words describe you, the person?

Reserved, problem-solver, questioner

  1. If you could sing a song with Jimmy Fallon, what would it be?

I don’t sing. Honestly, nobody wants me to sing.

  1. If you could hang out with any literary character from any book penned at any time line, who would it by, why, and what would you do together?

I would go to Tuscany with the leads from Susan Elizabeth Phillips’ Breathing Room. I’d sit down to a homemade dinner outside the little farmhouse, eat all those fabulous foods, sample the local wines, and soak up the raucous interplay of that wild and loving multi-generational family.

I love the Actor’s Studio show on Bravo, so this is my version of it:

1.      Favorite sound – Ocean or lake waves

2.      Least favorite sound – Crying—babies, cats, dogs

3.      Best song every written – Bridge over Troubled Water

4.      Worst song ever written – Barking Jingle Bells

5.      Favorite actor and actress – Cary Grant and Katherine Hepburn

6.      Who would you want to be for 1 day and why? ( It can be anyone living or dead) – I’m pretty happy in my own skin

7.      What turns you on? – Sunshine, warm temps, and best friends

8.      What turns you off? – Lies

9.      Give me the worst 5 words ever heard on a first date ( here’s mine: “Is that your real hair?”) – I don’t remember words, but I remember painfully knocking knees while dancing—once—with an enthusiastic but inept partner.

10.  What’s your version of a perfect day? – Relaxing on an ocean cruise liner on a warm, sunny day at sea.

(Peggy here: I feel like we could be sistahs, Helen!! I lovelovelove Cary Grant and Kate Hepburn and grew up watching their movies and memorizing all the lines! Hee Hee)

And now, a little about LORD OF DRUEMARWIN

 PAGES FROM THE HEART Winner in Fantasy Romance

In a world of lies and betrayal, can they trust each other?

Blurb:

Lady Raell can fight, ride, and argue politics as well as her brothers. Only being mistress of her father’s household keeps her in skirts. In Naed, the new Lord of Druemarwin, she has found devotion, a kindred spirit, and a marriage promise. But when a forgotten and unwanted betrothal comes to light, she has no choice but to run.

Amidst sweeping revolution, Naed must rally his people, fend off assassination attempts, and fight against claims he’s a traitor. Then he discovers everything about his lineage and family is a lie. And his beloved belongs to another.

With lives and a kingdom at stake, Raell and Naed must find a way to protect the innocent and save their love.

Excerpt:

“Raell, now is not the time—”

Aye, it wasn’t. They stood in torchlight on an open parapet while assassins stalked them, but this might be her only chance to reach him across that precipice he’d thrown up between them, to secure the future they were meant to share.

“Does my honor mean naught? When weighed with D’nalian honor, is mine lesser because ‘tis a woman’s honor? Or because ‘tis a Tolemak’s honor? Be honest and tell me that.”

The world had gone silent; Raell could hear nothing over the rush of blood in her ears, the terrible heavy beats of her heart while she waited, dizzy with fear, breathless with longing, for the man she loved to respond with a word, a look, even a blink. Even a shift of his gaze she’d take as a sign he’d at least heard, mayhap begun to consider—

“Yes, be honest, Lord Naed,” said a voice she’d heard but once, a voice that raised all the fine hairs on her body and made her innards contract into a cold, tight knot. “Tell us both how much honor means to a bastard who’s betrayed his countrymen and his blood.”

You can get your copy here:

 Amazon // Nook // 

A little more about Helen:

Helen C. Johannes writes award-winning fantasy romance inspired by the fairy tales she grew up reading and the amazing historical places she’s visited in England, Ireland, Scotland and Germany. She writes tales of adventure and romance in fully realized worlds sprung from pure imagination and a lifelong interest in history, culture, and literature. Warriors on horseback, women who refuse to sit idly at home, and passion that cannot be denied or outrun—that’s what readers will find in her books.

 You can connect with Helen here:

Blog // Amazon // Goodreads // Bookbub //

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This never gets old and is always exciting!

So, just when my newest book released yesterday, DIRTY DAMSELS,

I received notification form the First Coast Romance writers chapter of RWA that I won the Contemporary Romance category for 40K-56K word books for CHRISTMAS & CANNOLIS! Woot Woot!

I’m starting to think maybe this writing career will pan out in the end! hee hee

Blurb:

With Christmas season in full swing, baker Regina San Valentino is up to her elbows in cake batter and cookie dough. Between running her own business, filling her bursting holiday order book, and managing her crazy Italian family, she’s got no time to relax, no room for more custom cake orders, and no desire to find love. A failed marriage and a personal tragedy have convinced her she’s better off alone. Then a handsome stranger enters her bakery begging for help. Regina can’t find it in her heart to refuse him.

Connor Gilhooly is in a bind. He needs a specialty cake for an upcoming fundraiser and puts himself—and his company’s reputation—in Regina’s capable hands. What he doesn’t plan on is falling for a woman with heartbreak in her eyes or dealing with a wise-guy father and a disapproving family.

Can Regina lay her past to rest and trust the man who’s awoken her heart?

Excerpt:

It had been a long, long time since a guy’s hands had been on me in anything resembling a carnal way. My ex had decamped to parts unknown five years ago after signing the divorce papers and I’d been so busy rebuilding my life that adding any kind of relationship to it wasn’t even a notion. Besides, with my hovering parents, one of whom worked for me while the other popped in daily to check up on their only daughter, I had enough on my plate fending off the men they wanted to introduce me to. Guys who, for the most part, had shady lifestyles, carried concealed, and owed my father innumerable favors. And by favors I mean the kind that usually get signed for in blood and paid back the same way.

Welcome to mia familia.

Buy Links:

Amazon//  B*N // Google Play // Kobo // itunes

Until next time ~ Peg

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Filed under Contemporary Romance, Foodie, Romance, Romance Books, WIld Rose Press AUthor

So, this happened……

Over the weekend I spotted this on my twitter feed:


To say I was gobsmacked is an understatement!!! The entire list of winners is here but can I just tell you how amazing it feels to have won my devision in such a prestigious contest??!! There really aren’t words strong enough to let you know how I needed to hear and see something like this lately.

You see, I’ve been a bit down in the doldrums for a bit. I have no books scheduled to be released in 2019 ( after the 4 I had in 2018). And while I have two books up for consideration with my Wild Rose Press editor, and I’ve sent out a query to another publisher about a different work, by the time I hear if they are approved or not, and then all the publishing stuff that needs to be done to them gets started, I don’t foresee a book release this calendar year, and that has left me feeling just a bit more than depressed of late.

Hearing I won my division in this contest has gone a long way to pulling me out of that depression.

You all may have heard about what I’ve been calling #COPYGATE this week, or as romancelandia has titled it #COPYPASTECRIS about the insane plagiarism scandal befalling the romance publishing world right now. I won’t go into details because I don’t want to give this horrible human being one more ounce of attention, but if you follow Nora Roberts’s or Courtney Milan’s blogs, you’ve been hearing about it for the past week. At a time when I – and all the legitimate writers I know – are struggling to make a buck, having something this egregious happens wants to make you hang up your writing togs and say “F**k it!”

And I did, for about 24 hours.

Then, the reason I started writing romance to begin with came back to me. I never intended to get anything I’d written published, either traditionally or independently. I simply wrote because I loved doing so. I wrote for me – and still do. Not for sales, not for publishing houses, not for the book reading world. The fact that those entities have deemed me worthy and read my stuff is like  whipped cream and a bottle of maraschinos on top of your favorite cupcake. But the real reason I still do what I do is because I love it and can’t stop doing it. I’ve said before that if I’d never gotten published I would have been okay with that – and it’s still true.

So, I am now back to my normal ( Am I normal?) self and am writing away. Do I have the dates my editor is supposed to get back to me on my proposals listed on my calendar? You betcha. Am I obsessing about the outcome? Nah. I’m just writing away and making myself smile.

While I’m smiling and writing you can find me here:

Tweet Me//Read Me// Visit Me//Picture Me//Pin Me//Friend Me//Google+Me// Triber// BookMe // Monkey me //Watch me

Here’s the link to my TELL ME ABOUT YOUR DAMN BOOK podcast interview, just in case you missed it: TMAYDB

and the link to my recent interview on NewHampshirePublicRadio

And, BTW, if you want to read the book that won the OKRWA IDA Contemporary novel division for 2018, you can grab your copy here:

Amazon // i-tunes // Google Play // Kobo // B&N  //

Books-A-Million // Walmart 

Sugar and spice and everything sexy make the perfect recipe for romance in this brand-new series by Peggy Jaeger. Look for exclusive recipes in each book!

Kandy Laine built her wildly popular food empire the old-fashioned way—starting with the basic ingredients of her grandmother’s recipes and flavoring it all with her particular brand of sweet spice. From her cookbooks to her hit TV show, Kandy is a kitchen queen—and suddenly someone is determined to poison her cup. With odd accidents and threatening messages piling up, strong-willed Kandy can’t protest when her team hires someone to keep her safe—but she can’t deny that the man for the job looks delicious. . .

Josh Keane is a private investigator, not a bodyguard. But with one eyeful of Kandy’s ebony curls and dimpled smile, he’s signing on to uncover who’s cooking up trouble for the gorgeous chef. As the attraction between them starts to simmer, it’s not easy to keep his mind on the job, but when the strange distractions turn to true danger, he’ll stop at nothing to keep Kandy safe—and show her that a future together is on the menu. . .

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Let me brag for a minute…..

I hate doing this….braggin’ on myself. I wanted to write about my daughter and her first marathon but I already did that. So, I decided to brag on the one piece of good professional news I’ve gotten lately.

I came in 3rd place in the long contemporary category in the 2017 Pages from the Heart Contest.

YAY, me!

The last 2 times I entered an unpublished piece in this contest I  finaled as well and both those books went on to be published by Kensington/Lyrical Shine: Cooking with Kandy and A Shot at love ( which was originally titled Gemma’s Greek.)

The book that came in third this year is book 1 in my new Bridal series, so if history runs true to form…….you can finish that thought because I’m afraid if I say it’s gonna get published I’ll jinx it…

Duh! I just jinxed it!

Let’s see what the other authors in this #MFRWauthor blog hop have to brag on….

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under #Mfrwauthors, Author, Contemporary Romance, Kensington Publishers, love, Lyrical Author, MFRWauthor, Romance, Romance Books, Strong Women, The Laine Women