Interview with Samantha Hayes, author of Until You’re Mine

until you're mine by samantha hayes

Photo Credit: Crown Publishing


Hello, hello! As you know, all this week at Traveling With T and Ivory Owl Reviews– we’ve teamed up to discuss the heck out of the book UNTIL YOU’RE MINE by Samantha Hayes (released April 15, 2014!) When me and Rhiannon were talking about things we wanted to feature this week, an interview was definitely something that was high on the list. Guess what? We (and ya’ll!) got lucky and scored an interview with Samantha Hayes. Read on for Samantha’s thoughts about writing, some authors she enjoys, and the inspiration for UNTIL YOU’RE MINE.

Continue reading

Interview with Lori Nelson Spielman- author of The Life List

IMG_1491_2_4Today, Lori Nelson Spielman, stops by to answer some questions about The Life List (her debut!), writing space, and many other things. Plus: A lucky person will win a copy of The Life List!


Interview with Lori Nelson Spielman

1. What was the inspiration for The Life List?

–First I want to thank you, Tamara, for hosting me today. A few years ago, I came across an old cedar box, and tucked alongside my grandmother’s rosary and my first bankbook was a yellowed piece of notebook paper folded into a neat little square. In my flowery 14-year-old handwriting, I’d written “Lori’s List” across the top, along with 27 life goals. As I read it, I thought about the dreams I once had, some of which had been fulfilled, others that never would be. It struck me how very different my life would be now, had I achieved each goal. Suddenly a story was taking shape…the story of a woman forced to complete her old life list, humble goals she thinks she no longer wants.

2. The main character, Brett, seems to have quite the life- until her mother passes away. How hard was it to write about a mother passing away and the affect it would have on Brett?

— I wrote so many of Elizabeth’s letters with tears rolling down my cheeks. But I didn’t want the book to be a downer, nor did I want it to be complete fluff. So it was tricky balancing lightness with heft. The aftermath of her mother’s death was devastating, yes, but also bittersweet. In the end, it forced Brett to become the person she was meant to be, exactly what Elizabeth had hoped.

3. From the beginning to end, how long did The Life List take to write?

–I started writing in October of 2009 and finished the first draft in January, 2010—record time for me. And that’s when the real work began. I polished and re-wrote for a year, then spent months querying agents. I was offered representation from Jenny Bent in August of 2011. I spent another six months revising, and the book sold in March of 2012. Then time seemed to stop. Nobody outside the business seems to understand why it takes another 16+ months for the book to be published. My mother would say, “It’s finished, so why can’t they just publish it now?”

4. Do you have a writing space? A writing routine?

–I do have an office where I keep my laptop, but I often unplug and take it elsewhere. We have a high counter in one room where I can stand, rather than sit, which as any writer knows, is a nice relief! Because I work full-time, my writing time is generally reserved for late afternoons and evenings. I know the common wisdom is to write every day, and I try to, but I’ve learned not to torture myself if I don’t.

5. Are any of the characters based on people in real life? Or just figments of your imagination?

–That’s an interesting question. I think bits and pieces of my friends and family can be found in almost all of these characters, but there is no character who is completely true to life. I’ve done some volunteer work in a homeless shelter, and I work as a homebound teacher in an inner-city school district, so although these characters were completely fictitious, I was able to draw on real-life experiences when writing these scenes.

6. Will you be going on a book signing tour? If so, what are you looking forward to the most about the tour?

–I’ve got quite a few events lined up, which simultaneously thrills and terrifies me. I’m honored to be invited and cannot wait to connect with readers, but public speaking isn’t my forte, nor do I enjoy being in the spotlight. These events will definitely force me beyond my comfort zone. Maybe I’ll try to channel Brett’s courage when she had to do her stand-up routine!

7. Do you want The Life List to be made into a movie one day? If so, who are the actors that would comprise your dream cast?

–It would be a dream come true to see The Life List on screen. And this dream is an inch closer to reality because Fox 2000 has purchased the film option! I say an inch because it remains a long shot that it’ll ever be produced. Still, it’s exciting to think about the possibility. And my dream cast? I’d love to see Emma Stone, Hilary Swank, or Jennifer Garner as Brett; Mark Ruffalo, Paul Rudd, or Gerard Butler as Brad; and Hugh Jackman or Bradley Cooper as Garrett. (Sadly, Clooney might be just a tad old for a role…darn!)

8. After a person reads the last page of The Life List- what is the most important thing you hope the reader will take from the experience?

–I get the most satisfaction from people who tell me the book inspires them to take a look at their own goals. So many of us feel we have no control over our destiny. Sure we have dreams, but we never really seize them, and before long another year has passed, then a decade. I’d love to think the story might motivate someone to find a new job, dump Mr. Wrong, move to a new place, or anything else they’ve been too timid to do.

9. Are you working on another book? If so, can you tell us what the book is about?

–Between my full-time job and promoting The Life List, I haven’t had the time to fully immerse myself in my new project, but it’s one I’m very excited about. It’s about forgiveness—granting and seeking it. Once again, life forces a woman to make changes, this time to atone for a serious accusation she made years ago, an accusation that as an adult she’s come to doubt.



*Special thanks to Lori Nelson Spielman for agreeing to be interviewed!


lori twitter


Lori Nelson Spielman’s debut novel, The Life List, will be in stores July 2nd! To find out more about Lori, visit her website, Twitter, and Facebook page.




**Giveaway! Traveling With T is giving away a copy of Lori’s book, The Life List, to a lucky person (Thanks Lori!) To enter: Leave a comment telling 1 thing that is on your “life list”!  Please leave a email address in the comments (you may use the AT and DOT). Giveaway begins July 2nd and ends July 9th at 11:59pmEST. Winner will be notified by email July 10th.




Interview with Erika Marks

Erika Marks, author of Little Gale Gumbo, The Mermaid Collector, and her newest novel- The Guest House, found time in her busy writing and book touring schedule to answer a few questions for me at Traveling With T.

I’ve had such a “fan girl” feeling about Erika since I read Little Gale Gumbo around 2 years ago. Then last October, my IRL book club picked Little Gale Gumbo for their read- and I was able to talk to Erika on the phone- I don’t think I quit grinning about that for some time!

So, my readers, knowing that backstory- you can understand exactly why I’m so excited to have Erika here for an interview!


Interview with Erika Marks:

What was the inspiration for THE GUEST HOUSE?  

Tamara, let me first say thank you so much for hosting me and all these wonderful questions! Most of my novels come out of an idea for a character or a relationship, but in the case of THE GUEST HOUSE the inspiration was place. At eighteen, I was fortunate to spend a summer on the property of a massive shingle-style cottage like the one in the book and the experience never left me. It was a deeply romantic place and I always imagined fantastic stories in its walls, all the summers it had been filled with guests and parties and, of course, all the drama that must have gone on.

The characters in each of your books (LITTLE GALE GUMBO, THE MERMAID COLLECTOR, and THE GUEST HOUSE) are beautifully written, yet flawed and very human. How long does it to take you to create the characters?

Thank you for saying so! It really depends. Some characters come to me fully-realized right away. Camille Bergeron and Ben Haskell from LITTLE GALE GUMBO were like that. Writing them was like recalling friends I had known for a long, long time. Others, such as Tess from THE MERMAID COLLECTOR, eluded me for a while as I wrote, hiding themselves from me. I think I know how I want them to be, but often their personalities evolve through contact with other characters—and they surprise me.

Each of the past books have been set in the New England area- does that area’s rich history enable a better creative experience for you as a writer? Do you have plans to change your setting one day?

New England is where I grew up and certainly a setting I feel so comfortable writing about and one that is so much a part of me. That said, now that I live in North Carolina and am getting to experience and fall in love with the Carolina coast, I look forward to setting future stories along these beaches.

As a writer, do you ever hope that any of your books will be made into a movie? And if so, do you have any idea about actors and actresses you would like to see play the characters in your books?

Oh, of course! I am such a movie buff and frankly, I usually “cast” my novels as I am writing them—I can’t help it! I think of all my novels, THE MERMAID COLLECTOR seems the most naturally suited to be made into a movie, but I would certainly be thrilled to have any of my novels made into a film!

How long does it take to complete a novel from beginning to end?

That depends. Usually I write a first draft in a few months, and then the revisions go pretty quickly after that. With my debut, LITTLE GALE GUMBO, the revision period was longer simply because my agent and I weren’t really under a deadline—but then once it sold, my editor and I worked on revisions within a time frame, of course, to meet established deadlines. I like to believe, too, that the more I write, the more efficient my writing gets—that I can troubleshoot issues along the way, see area that will need work, plotting concerns, etc. As writers, I think we are all working to strengthen our craft with every book, always. There is always a way to make my writing stronger, and I value that tremendously.

Erika, do you have a writing routine? Or a writing space?

While my children are in school, I keep to a fixed writing work day. Mornings start with checking in with social media and then I get right to it. But of course, when deadlines get fast and furious—and summer schedules change our routines—I may write at odd hours, and much more at night. When my girls were little, I would soak up any available moments to write so I’m very much a believer in being flexible too. If you have ten minutes free, write for ten minutes. Don’t wait for “the perfect” block. It rarely comes—and I also think it sets up an expectation for performance that can be daunting and ultimately unproductive. That said, I can’t write in a coffee shop or any kind of public place, and I have to have music on—but always instrumental.

Are there plans for a 4th novel?

Yes, I’m writing it now—and I’m really excited about it. Not to give too much away—since I’m terribly superstitious—but it’s set in Folly Beach, South Carolina, and centers around a woman who revisits her past as a champion surfer—and the life and loves she left behind when heartbreak caused her to give it all up.


Liked the interview? Want to know more about Erika Marks? Check back Thursday at Traveling With T for an Author Spotlight with Erika Marks- find out her favorite books, #literayconfessions and #literarycrush. Plus- a GIVEAWAY- one lucky commenter on Thursday’s Author Spotlight will win a copy of The Guest House! Want to read a review of The Guest House? Here is my review of The Guest House by Erika Marks.


erika marksTo find out more about Erika Marks– her past books, book events, and more- please visit Erika’s website. It’s filled with tons of good information! Also, The Guest House, Erika’s latest book made not 1, but 2 Summer Reading Lists this year- so yay for Erika! Here’s the links for She Reads The Books of Summer and Deep South Magazine’s Summer Reading List.


** Special thanks to Erika Marks for taking time to answer questions. Thank you, thank you, thank you.


Michael Morris- Man in a Blue Moon- She Reads November Book Club Pick

Today is November 1- which means it’s time for She Reads to publicly announce it’s November book club pick. The book of the month is: ****drumroll, drumroll,drumroll**** MAN IN A BLUE MOON by Michael Morris.

Check back with She Reads for monthly discussion questions and chances to win prizes. We all love #giveaways don’t we?

If you do the Twitter thing- use HT #srblog to see what members of the She Reads blog group is having to saying about MAN IN A BLUE MOON.

Couple of other important notes: Deep South Magazine will host Twitter chat with Michael Morris Friday, Nov 2nd, from 1-2pmCST (that’s TOMORROW!) Use hashtag #southernlit to follow along with chat- also use Tweetchat if possible- makes for a better chat experience. However, Deep South Mag RT (retweets) the questions and answers- so people can still follow along, even if they do  not use Tweetchat.

To find out more about the Twitter chat tomorrow with Michael Morris- read here!

Also, the fantastic Kimberly Brock (perhaps you’ve read me raving on about her debut book- The River Witch?) had a chance to interview Michael Morris. Her interview is enlightening and terrific. For the interview, read here.

Hope to “see” you tomorrow at the Michael Morris chat- it should be a fun time.

Interview with Bibliosue…

A few months ago, an event happened called Booktopia. Thanks to Twitter, I was able to start tweeting with one of the people attending the event- she always had interesting comments about books, so I began to read her blog, and really enjoyed that, as well. After meeting @bibliosue in person (in real life, her name is Suzanne); I knew this was a person and a blog that would be defintely worth keeping in touch with. A few weeks ago, I asked if she would mind asnwering some questions for a blog post for me. Suzanne agreed, and so here we are. Thanks so much @bibliosue!

If you enjoy the interview and want to know more about Suzanne, check out her blog. Suzanne also tweets as @bibliosue on Twitter.

Interview with Bibliosue:

Why did you decide to become a book blogger? Was it to discuss books with others? To recommend books? When did your blog debut?

I started my blog in November of 2009.  I’ve always searched out people with whom to talk about books and reading, and when I discovered the Books on the Nightstand podcast it led me to so many online connections to do just that – Goodreads,Twitter, and book blogs.  I started my blog just to write about what I’ve read, and most of the time if I’ve liked the book it will be a recommendation.  It’s just a hobby for me though; I don’t have the desire to spend hours and hours on it, especially when I could be spending that time reading 🙂

Who are some of your favorite authors?

Margaret Atwood, Nick Hornby, Rohinton Mistry,

Do you enjoy going to book signings and meeting authors?

Absolutely!  There aren’t many close to where I live, but there’s an indie bookstore about an 1 ½ hour drive away that has great events and I try to make it there when I can.

Is there a book that you think is outstanding, but others dislike?

I recently read and absolutely loved Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend by Matthew Dicks, but a friend of mine with similar tastes didn’t like it at all.

Is there a book that others rave about, but you think is not worth the hype?

I couldn’t get through The Passage by Justin Cronin, but I think it was because it’s just not my type of book.  I strongly strongly disliked Emma by Jane Austen, which some people consider her best novel.

Name an author  (or authors)that you would like to have dinner with.

In no particular order (and not necessarily at the same time):  Margaret Atwood, A.J. Jacobs, Nick Hornby, Bill Bryson, and if he were still alive, Christopher Hitchens

Name your Top 5 favorite books.

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood , A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry (I’m re-reading this now and it’s still amazing), The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows, The Help by Kathryn Stockett (this list changes regularly!)

Do you have any #literaryconfessions?

I’m a bit ashamed that I’ve never read Little Women

Man VS Books Club (@MVBClub)- Interview

The Man VS Books Club (@MVBClub) is a group of people who LOVE to read. And they want men to read! The group is comprised of both men and women- and all share a love of the classics. I credit this group of people for encouraging me in reading of Pride and Prejudice, for encouraging me to try books outside my normal picks.

Thank you for taking time to answer some questions about reading tastes, the MVB Club, and #literaryconfessions!


Interview with MVB Club:

1.Why do you think women read more than men?

The consensus is that the literary market is more geared towards women instead of men. For example the top 3 best selling books were the 50 Shades of Grey book series which appealed more to a female audience,although I am sure that some men may have read them too. Moreover, I think some men find it less time consuming to read a newspaper or a magazine rather than to commit to a 500 plus page book. Lastly the probable thinking is why read a book when I can watch television, surf the internet, and/or play video games.

2.When the blog MVBClub was created- what were the expectations? Has it exceeded expectations?

The expectations were to encourage as many men to start reading books and to discover the joy you can get from doing so. The MVBClub blog has far exceeded our expectations. We have been receiving such positive feedback from men and women alike that we are thinking up more features to add to our blog in the near future.

3.When it comes to genre, are men just more of a non-fiction lover than women? Could this potentially have an effect on how much men read since fiction books are generally promoted more and easier to find than non-fiction?

I think Men like reading non-fiction and fiction just the same.  Whether they read the book will come down to whether the story synopsis piques their interest and if the book was written by an author that they read before.

4.Are current authors writing books today that are aimed at men or have authors decided to target the women as their audience for book sales?

I think that most authors are generally writing for the mass audience not just the male or female demographic. However, there are those authors such as Danielle Steel and Nora Roberts whose books tend to cater more to the female audience.

5.What is one (published in the last 10 years) book that men should not miss?

A tough one…there are so many wonderful books from this past decade that I could recommend…However I will say that the Hunger Games is a current must read. Hopefully men will continue to read the remaining two books in the trilogy. They won’t be disappointed.

6.MVBClub is a fan of the classics; but for some people, classics are overlooked. Name a few current author favorites for the group. Then name a classic book that will entice readers to give the classics a try.

Well Jane Austen is always current author for us. Her influence has been exhibited in two of the most popular books series on the literary market today most notably Twilight and 50 Shades of Grey book series’. We always suggest that a first time reader of Jane Austen should start with Pride & Prejudice. It is such an entertaining  read.

7.Does the MVBClub have any #literayconfessions?

Our Literary Confessions are: First: We love reading. Second:Reading and our mutual love of Jane Austen has brought us together as friends and collaborators on the ManVsBooksClub blog. Third: MVBC blog has allowed us to spread our message that Reading is Sexy.

For more information on the club or to follow their tweets- please visit at  And on Twitter @MVBCLUB

Melanie Toye- Entice Me (self-published)

With so many great books being published- I mean this summer alone, I could barely keep up with all the new books I wanted to read being published- some books get over-looked. I think if you have people who can and want to help you that really helps, but for the self-published author- I think it’s harder to find the audience for the book (however, I could be wrong in that thought).

So, spreading a bit of good karma and “paying it forward”, when I was asked to consider posting something about this book- I wasn’t sure what to say at first. But, I admired Melanie Toye’s gutsy attitude- she asked for what she wanted, and I applaud that.

*Full disclosure: I did not receive this book for interview purposes, nor have I read the book. I  did read the plot-line, thought the book sounded interesting.
The book is currently $2.99 on Amazon in the Kindle section. For more information on Entice Me, click HERE!

Melanie- I sincerely hope Entice Me is a huge success. Best of luck!

Interview with Melanie Toye

1. The book, Entice Me, is a catchy title. What inspired the title?
I was lying in bed one day and Entice Me just popped into my mind. I knew straight away this was the title for it. Although I had nearly gone with ‘Secrets Unravelled’ and originally ‘Desired Life’ I wasn’t completely satisfied that it was the perfect match. For me the hardest part in writing a novel was coming up with the enticing title (mind the pun).

2. Why did you choose to self-publish?
I spent a year and a half seeking out publishers. For a women’s read there are not many publishers out there for the genre. Also as a first time author it made it harder to break into the publishing scene. I came across Amazon and realised if I wanted to see my novel out there and pass on the inspiring message to readers to chase their dreams then this was my option. There have been many success stories for self-publishing on Amazon, so I thought well I tried the traditional way, not give this option a go?

3. People seem to have different and conflicting views on the idea of “chick-lit being dead”. What is your opinion? Is chick-lit still going strong, evolving, or ending?
Personally, I love chick lit. I love to sit down and just be entertained. I love feel good stories and who doesn’t love a sweet ending? If romantic comedies are still strong in the movie and film industry, then chick lit novels would still be going strong in the book world.

4. Sometimes a character is a reflection of the writer. Are any of the characters a reflection of you?
Absolutely. There are three main characters, Miranda, Grace and Louise. They are based on different aspects of my life. Miranda is like a girl next door, but a workaholic. It is so easy to get swept away into a career that you forget about living. Like Miranda, I was a recruitment consultant and worked long hours and regretted the time I spent away from my husband. Grace is the free spirit who won’t let circumstances tame her down. If she isn’t happy with a situation, she will move on. I am very much like this, nearly every year I would change jobs because I lost interest and was no longer satisfied. And Louise is a nervous wreck when it comes to social situations. Previously I have been nervous in new social environment (not to the extent of Louise) but it was a good basis to draw upon when building her character. Not only characters have been drawn from my life and personalities but even some scenario’s and scene’s from Entice Me have been similar occurrences that I have experienced.

5. Do you have a routine when you write? Or do you write more when inspiration strikes?
I don’t like to feel trapped by a routine; however I do have a goal of how many words I need to write a day. I can write at any time of day or night as long as I achieve my word count. I generally find early mornings or very late evenings are when inspiration hits me. I always ensure I have a pen and paper in every room of the house and in my handbag, because I have so many ideas in my head if I don’t write it down then it blocks any more coming through as I try to remember it. However I don’t just wait for inspiration, once I make it time to write, I just write whatever comes to my mind and let the editing process knock out the boring parts.

6.Your favorite book?
Janet Evanovich – Stephanie Plum series

7. Favorite band?
Music is such a motivator and energy riser for me. So anything that gets the heart pumping as I dance around the house in excitement. Don’t judge me on this one … but I am a huge ‘Pop and R&B’ fan. So anything by Britney Spears (I said don’t judge), Justin Timberlake, Usher … oh and the list goes on.

Interview with Melinda McGuire (@melindamcguire)

Starting a new feature on my blog: interviewing other writers or bloggers about their writing or blogging. It’s still very early stages, but I think it’s only fair to shine some light back on some people who have encouraged me in my beginning  as a blogger.

Melinda McGuire, @melindamcguire on Twitter, is a sweet Twitter friend. She had an idea about interviewing Southern creatives (#STHRN) on her blog (melindamcguirewrites) and has interviewed some great people. I had the good fortune of just returning from a trip to William Faulkner’s Rowan Oak, pitched her my idea and she was gracious enough to accept it.

In a spirit of “paying it forward” or helping expose readers/book signing lovers to new people and events- I interviewed Melinda. Read on to out more about The Grand Festival of Books in Fairhope, AL; Melinda’s favorite book, #literaryconfessions she has, and her advice to beginner writers!

Thank you, Melinda, for taking the time to answer the questions. I sincerely hope you have a fantastic time at The Grand Festival of Books and meet tons of interesting folks!

Interview with Melinda McGuire

Why did you decide to become a writer? Was the decision a life-long dream?

I can’t remember a time of not writing or at least writing stories in my head. If I didn’t write, my house would be much cleaner, but I would be miserable! It wasn’t really a decision so much as filling a need. I knew I had to write, that I was meant to write, so I went about acquiring the skills to do that. Thankfully, the most important skill in being a good writer is being a voracious reader!

What is your favorite part of the writing process?

My favorite part is sitting down with a blank document pulled up on the computer and listening to the story the characters tell me. I just try to transcribe as fast as I can. That’s my favorite part – getting to know the characters, where they are coming from, what’s happening, why they are important.

Do you like meeting fans at book signings? What is the best part, in your opinion, about book signings?

I LOVE talking to people at book signings. I am meeting people who like to read and I like to read, so automatically we have that in common. I am not a very good salesperson, so I focus on meeting new people, getting to know them, where they are from, what books they like. I like being around people, especially readers, so book signings are wonderful opportunities.

The Grand Festival of Books at Page and Palette in Fairhope, AL will be October 5th and 6th. What can visitors expect from this event?

There’s going to be over 150 artists and authors there, so I hope that visitors can expect to have a great time! I am excited to be going and thrilled to have been invited. This is my first time there, but I am looking forward to being in such a creative, artistic environment, and I cannot wait to meet the readers, writers and artists who attend.

When you write, are any of the characters based on real-life people?

Tamara, are you trying to get me in trouble?

I think that all writers take bits and pieces of people, whether it is conscious or not, and morph them together to make their characters. Some writers borrow more directly from the people in their lives, but for most of us, our characters are compilations of people we’ve known.

Any advice for beginner writers?

1 – Write, write, write. Stop talking about writing and write. Stop thinking about writing and write. Nothing’s going to happen until you get the words out of your head and on the paper.

2 – Write for your IDEAL reader. Once you get your first draft out of the way, do your revising and editing and subsequent drafting with your ideal reader in mind. There are going to be people who do not like your style, your character, plot, setting, whatever, but you aren’t writing for “everybody”. You are writing for your specific audience, and your specific audience starts with your ideal reader.

What is your favorite book of all time?

No question – Absalom, Absalom! by William Faulkner. I have many other favorites – To Kill a Mockingbird, In Cold Blood, but for me, it all starts with Faulkner.

What books are you currently reading?

I am re-reading Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying. James Franco is filming the movie version in Mississippi in October. I am excited to see his adaptation. I am also reading $100 Startup by Chris Guillebeau and The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell.

Name an author (dead or alive) that you would like to meet.

Besides the obvious answer, Faulkner, I would like to meet Hemingway, maybe even at the same dinner so I could watch as they threw literary insults at each other!

Do you have any #literaryconfessions?

One of my #literaryconfessions is that I hated poetry until I watched Dead Poets Society, and then I went and read every poem mentioned in the film and tried to force myself to like ALL of them. It didn’t work, but I did develop a greater appreciation of poetry. And, because of that film, I wanted to sound my own barbaric yawp!