|Denise Belinda McDonald|
Denise: I grew up in North Texas with one bratty brother—we fought constantly, but we’re friends now. We have two younger brothers from my dad’s second marriage, but they’re more like nephews than sibs (having all brothers prepared me for my kids). I wasn’t much of a tomboy or a princess as a kid, kind of somewhere in between. I am married to my high school sweetheart. Often times he’s asked if he’s the “hero” in my stories. His line in return is, “Naw, I’m usually the dead body.” (It’s better than therapy, killing him from time to time). I’m the mother of four school-aged boys (see where the preparedness came in); being stuck between tomboy and princess has paid off in my favor. I’m not too girly having no one to share that with, but just girlie enough I don’t have to go camping with them. Whenever I get the hankering for something a little different out of life, I just write about it.
Denise: I started out really getting into romantic suspense. I love La Nora. Karen Robards is always a fave. Other than those two ladies, there’s no one author or genre that I stick to (call it my ADD). I have a habit of picking a section at the bookstore or library and just going through it all.
Denise: In a good month I read 3 or 4, but with the four kids that’s not always conducive. I am currently reading a Georgette Heyer novel, FOOTSTEPS IN THE DARK, on my Nook and I am reading a paperback, THE BRUSH-OFF, by Laura Bradley.
Caroline: I'm always reading more than one book and can't be without one in case I have a few minutes to kill. When you’re not writing, what’s your favorite way to relax and recharge? Hobbies?
Denise: I have done just about every craft there is. I taught myself how to knit a few years ago—every relative now has a lovely scarf. I like to quilt, but that can be too time-consuming. I do enjoy baking, but I am not very good at it—I am slightly (which read to mean *very*) impatient so I tend to skip certain points in recipes and the food can come out all wonky.
Caroline: I remember when you taught yourself to knit, clever girl. Describe yourself in three or four words.
Denise: I’ve no idea, sorry
Caroline: I’ll do it for you--good mom, fun, and loyal. Would you like to share any guilty pleasures that feed your muse?
Denise: Definitely Lifetime movies and the Food Network. They let my brain reset, which in turn makes my muse ready to go. I also watch just about every profiler/military/detective show on TV. Something about guns and things blowing up... uh, I may have revealed too much.
Caroline: Go figure--I watch them, too, and find HGTV restful. Watching is like giving my mind a vacation. Oops, what does that say about my viewing choices? How long have you been writing?
Denise: Since I could hold a pencil. Seriously. I started novel-length writing when I was 18, but really picked it up when I was pregnant with #4 child—mostly to keep sane.
Caroline: Where do you prefer to write? Do you need quiet, music, solitude? PC or laptop?
Denise: At home, I cannot write in quiet. When my youngest finally started school I would have two TVs on. I had to have Disney Channel as well as “Grown Up” TV—I was so accustomed to the sound, I needed it to keep going. I am down to one TV now, and in the other room, to keep me from “watching” while I work. I will write just about anywhere, though: sitting in the chair at the salon, waiting in line at school to pick up this kid or that, on my laptop, long hand watching TV (I wrote half a book during commercial breaks one season) or with the Alphasmart. I just write everywhere.
Caroline: Are you a plotter or a panzer?
Denise: I like to think of myself as a Plotser. I plot very little, just have the basics, not completely thought out, but a little something.
Caroline: Do you use real events or persons in your stories or as an inspiration for stories?
Denise: Maybe for the germ of the idea, but for the most part, I just have an over active “what if…”
Caroline: “What if” is the writer’s friend! Tell us about your writing schedule. I know you’ve participated in NANO and our chapter’s writing challenges. Do you set goals? Do you write daily?
Denise: My only goal is to finish my next book. I am the type of person that will buck the “it needs to be done by…” that slows my writing to a crawl. Having said that, I am very competitive. If we have a challenge in our group, I work really hard to get it done. Coming off of summer break, I have no schedule, but once the kids are settled into the school routine, I try to write 2-3 hours a day (usually smack in the middle of the day).
|Denise's previous release,|
also a great read
Denise: Just the happiness it brings me to write it.
Caroline: What long-term plans do you have for your career?
Caroline: Great attitude (and good luck with the cabana boy). Would you like to tell us what you’re working on now?
Denise: Truth be told, I have 3 different projects in the works. I am working on book 3 of my Paintbrush series, I am working on a romantic suspense and I am dabbling in a time travel, which is so far out of my element, but it is fun to stretch and try something new.
Caroline: You know I loved those Paintbrush, Wyoming books, but love the Texas settings like this one more. What advice would you give to unpublished authors?
Denise: Keep at it. The more you write the more you hone your skill. When I finish a book, I immediately start another one (or three). And keep reading. I find when I am not reading enough, my writing slows down.
Caroline: Mine too. Besides, reading is studying our craft, right? Tell us about your latest release.
|Denise's Latest Release|
Blurb: Poppy Dumphy invades Cale Hollander’s small, west Texas town, bucking into his world like an unbroken bronc. She's abandoned her cushy, Beverly Hills lifestyle to expose a long-kept secret only to find Cale determined to keep her intentions from tearing his town apart.
“Which one?” Cale snagged Poppy’s elbow and prompted her to start walking again, but just as quickly released her, not at all happy with the little zing that ran through his hand.
“Cabin are you staying in?” He tried to keep the sigh out of his voice.
“Oh. The one on the end.”
“My old house?” He let it slip out before he could stop himself.
“I thought you lived next door. I mean, at the next ranch.” She pointed toward his spread and deviated a little too much from the path.
He grabbed her shoulders and pulled her toward him. “Watch it. You almost ran into the tiller.” She had a good foot or two clearance, but one could never be too careful near such treacherous machinery—and he’d stick to that story if anyone asked. He would never admit that he yearned to touch her again. “I left home when I was seventeen.” He let his hands linger on her shoulder then down her arm. Had he ever touched skin so soft?
“You moved out?” she asked just above a whisper.
“My dad and I weren’t getting along.”
Cale shook himself. “Never mind.”
“Sorry. I didn’t mean to pry.” She was quiet for a moment. “I guess you and… Mr. Morgan are really close.”
“I uh…” A coyote yipped, and she all but jumped into his arms. “How close is that?”
* * * *
“Not too, don’t worry.” Cale’s breath ruffled the top of her hair.
Poppy could stand there all night, wrapped up in this man’s strong embrace. It had been so long since she’d had someone to support her in any way. Not that Cale actually wanted to be there, he was just doing what Gerri asked him to. If anything, it reminded her she wasn’t in Texas to find a beau. She pushed away. “I’m not worried. It just caught me off guard. Back home I ran into a mountain lion once.”
“Yes. I was out walking my sister’s dog.”
If she wasn’t mistaken, he scoffed and said something akin to “Figures.”
“Good night.” He tipped his hat.
“Thanks.” Poppy pushed through the door. A wave of hot air wafted over her face. “Boy, it’s hot in here.”
“Turn on the AC.” He called over his shoulder.
“It was on when I left. I turned it up when I was talking to my brother.”
“It was hot when I got here. I’d driven all day without AC in the car and…” She stopped herself. She knew better than to whine.
“Do you mind if I take a look at it?” Cale stepped through the doorway.
“Please.” She turned on several lamps.
“Will you hold my hat?” He handed her the hat and went to work on the window unit. He had to duck down to remove the plastic cover.
Poppy slipped off her shoes and hopped onto the huge bed to watch. He was swift with his hands. The muscles in his arms and back rippled under his shirt. Despite the heat, a shiver ran through her. “Did I mess it up?”
“Pardon me?” Her tongue darted out to wet her lips.
“It’s going to be hot. Until it’s fixed. I can’t do it tonight. It needs to thaw. I can look at it sometime tomorrow.”
“Oh. Gotcha. Okay. Thanks for trying.”
“I don’t think you understand.” He moved closer to the bed. “There’s no AC.”
Cale stood there and watched her for a long moment. She’d never much thought about how sexy a man in boots and tight, tight jeans looked. Poppy’s gaze darted to his mouth. The man had sexy lips, too. For a moment, her mind flashed to what it might feel like for him to lean into her, press his hot mouth to hers.
“You need me.”
* * * *
“You need me.”
Cale watched her eyes widen. He wanted to laugh at the look on her face. He’d give just about anything to know what the hell she’d just been thinking.
“Didn’t you sign up for riding lessons?”
Caroline: Terrific excerpt. I especially enjoyed the scene following, too. Where can readers find your books?
Denise: I just want to thank Caroline for interviewing me for her blog. She is and continues to be such a wonderful friend. My writing is better for having known you.
Caroline: Wow, what a nice thing to say! How can readers learn more about you?
Caroline: Thanks for stopping by to visit with us, Denise. I wish you many sales and a place on the NYT List in the near future (cabana boy optional).