Caroline: Readers love to know more about authors. Tell us a bit about yourself.
Andrea: I grew up on the north shore of Long Island which is on Long Island Sound, across from Connecticut. It's full of harbors, beaches, light houses and marshes. The area is also far enough away from New York City that it felt more like the country than a suburb. It was an old area so there were plenty of old homes, plus an historic spy ring from the Revolutionary War. I spent my summers playing at the beach, sailing and swimming, though to t this day I don't like to swim in water where I can't stand. Too afraid that a shark is going to get me, although there are no sharks in Long Island Sound - at least that's what my parents told me. I had one sister who is seven years older than I am so it felt like I was only child.
I was a bookworm and a tomboy so I spent a lot of time in the school library until high school. Luckily my high school was big enough so there were lots of different cliques. I went in for drama club and the student government and stayed away from the jocks. To this day I only exercise because I have to. The other nice thing about my high school was that it was ok to be smart - there was like an AP gang of nerds, so while I wasn't cool, at least I had a place to fit in. The other good thing was I met my husband in high school - but not until senior year. There were just so many kids we hadn't run into each other. He was definitely way cooler than I was and he had a car, so it was pretty much heaven or like Sixteen Candles or Beverly Hills 90210 (when David and Donna start dating) and our prom picture sits right next to our wedding picture. Almost two decades later we have three kids, and live in an old farmhouse in New Jersey - far away from the water, unless you count the creek nearby.
Caroline: What a wonderful place to grow up, and your life sounds lovely. Who are your favorite authors and favorite genres?
Adrea: Romance, mystery and fantasy. Throw in a fun chick lit book here and there and I'm happy. I love Diana Gabaldon, George RR Martin, Nora Roberts, Barbara Freethy, Mary Stewart, Elizabeth Peters. Even a Clive Cussler now and then.
Caroline: I love those, too, except I haven’t read George Martin. What’s your favorite way to relax and recharge?
Andrea: I don't really have any hobbies. I keep meaning to get some but if I have any free time I am usually reading. I like to cook so sometimes I make a nice dinner for my husband (and make the kids chicken nuggets). I have three young kids so, like for most moms, my time is limited. So, I try to focus on the essentials for me - family and my writing and keeping my house from falling apart. Someday I would like to have hobbies, like photography or home decorating or fly fishing or maybe golf or tennis...you know someday.
Caroline: I do know because my hobbies keep being pushed aside to write, other than reading.
How long have you been writing?
Andrea: Since I was a kid. I started with stories about knights and dragons in black and white marble notebooks and then moved onto stories about missing treasure and mysterious islands on one of the first word processors and then for a while I blogged and wrote a tween mystery story. Then I decided I wanted to write for grownup and turned my attention to writing a mystery romance novel in a setting inspired by where I grew up. Queensbay, the setting in ROUGH HARBOR, is made up but it definitely includes elements of many of the coastal towns on both sides of the Long Island Sound.
Caroline: I prefer a fictional town so I can put what I need in it. Where do you prefer to write?
Andrea: Writing is a moveable feast. I write anywhere where I can get solitude. I use a laptop so I have been known to write in coffee shops, in the old barn (heat and electricity), in bed, on the couch and at the kitchen table. I usually have a notebook with ideas and pictures of inspiration that I keep with me so I don't need to be in one place. I always use a computer because my handwriting is so bad it would make no sense to write long hand - I can't read what I write -- even my grocery lists, half of the time. I sometimes use music but it's more of an other noise blocker than the need for some sort of playlist to inspire me.
Caroline: Are you a plotter or a panzer?
Andrea: Plotter. My stories would never go anywhere if I didn't start already knowing most of the major happenings along the way. I am not sure I really believe any writer who says they are a panzer - just seems to me like they must not mind wasting a lot of time and throwing out lots of scenes. And since my books to date have all had an element of a mystery to solve to them, I think plotting is extremely important - you have to know the answer to the mystery before you can write about your characters solving it.
Caroline: Do you use real events or persons in your stories or as an inspiration for stories?
Andrea: No real people or events, but I do try to use real places as inspirations for settings. For instance if I am writing a scene in a restaurant I might imagine some restaurant I am familiar with and write that place - even if the restaurant was in a different state. On the other hand I like to make up towns and regions for my books because it's just easier - and you are bound to get something wrong, which s someone will definitely tell you about, so it's easier just to make it up.
Caroline: I definitely agree about making up locations but using bit from here and there. Do you set daily writing goals?
Andrea: I try to write consistently five days a week. I focus on time instead of word count. I find once I sit down for about two hours I have a pretty decent number of words flowing. For me, with my kids, consistency seems to be the hardest things - not all of them are in school during the day so I still need to do a lot of writing late at night or early in the morning my two least favorite times of the day, so I find even if I can get an hour in on a regular basis I am much better off and overall more productive than in if I try to write for five hours on one day (for instance if I get up early, have a babysitter and then write again late at night)
Caroline: What do you hope your writing brings to readers?
Andrea: Entertainment, happiness, pleasure and characters that you think about and remember after you put the book down.
Caroline: What long-term plans do you have for your career?
Andrea: I am working on the second and third books set in Queensbay. This year 2013 I plan to have all three books out and really focus on getting them into the hands of new readers. For me it can be a bit hard to write and market at the same time, so in 2012 I really focused on my writing and not worrying about if ROUGH HARBOR was selling so many copies a month. Since I did that, I have the second book in the Queensbay series ready to go in late January and the third one expected by the summer, so at that point I am going to take some more time to focus on blogging again. At the end of the day I want to write great books that people want to read - and eagerly anticipate the next one. A great measure of that would be to see my books on a few best seller lists, but a healthy and engaged set of fans is the first step.
Caroline: Would you like to tell us what you’re working on now?
Andrea: As I mentioned I am almost ready with s the second book set in Queensbay, another contemporary romance, called THE COTTAGE. It's the story of Phoebe, the grand-daughter of a Hollywood legend who comes to Queensbay looking for some peace and quiet and to restore a house that once belonged to her grandmother and her lover, Leland Sanders. The relationship was known as the Romance of the Century, but it ended badly. After forty years the scandal has died down and Phoebe wants nothing more than to build a new life. However she meets Chase Sanders, the grandson of Leland. Sparks fly and Phoebe soon finds herself falling for Chase and his playboy ways...but will history repeat itself or will the magic of the Ivy Cottage mean that this relationship is meant to last?
Caroline: What advice would you give to unpublished authors?
Andrea: Work on your writing. Get honest feedback. Read writing books (James Bell, James Frey are great). Write the best book you can. You can search for an agent and publisher if you want, but I think that if you spend your time on writing a great book - one that connects with readers, then you don't need to worry so much about getting an agent and a publisher. Focus on the writing and the rest will follow. There are so many ways out there to get a book published on your own, that it should be the least of your concerns. Focus on knowing your genre, your audience and telling your story.
Caroline: What’s a fun fact readers wouldn’t know about you?
Andrea: I love Twizzlers and hazlenut coffee.
Caroline: What is something about you that would surprise or shock readers?
Andrea: I have watched just about everything and anything Shannon Doherty has ever been in, from Little House on the Prairie to 90210 to Charmed and all of her TV movies in between. Go Brenda!
Caroline: You’ve mentioned that ROUGH HARBOR is the first of a series. How long?
Andrea: ROUGH HARBOR is part of the Queensbay series, which are contemporary romances. Each book focuses on one couple in particular but will include updates on previous couples.
Caroline: Can you give readers a blurb about your book?
Andrea: Here's the Blurb:
After a bitter break up and professional set back in London, twenty seven year old Caitlyn has returned to Queensbay to work for Maxwell Randall, an old family friend, at his financial management firm. So far, bit by bit, Caitlyn’s been rebuilding all she lost after Michael St. John broke her heart …and tried to ruin her professional reputation.
But her past comes back to haunt her when Maxwell unexpectedly turns up dead. Not only does Caitlyn find her career in jeopardy but her heart is too, when Noah Randall, Maxwell’s son, and her first love, returns to Queensbay. Once, ten years ago, Caitlyn was sure Noah was the one for her…but the tragedy of her grandfather’s suicide and Noah’s decision to leave town left her bereft…and determined never to trust him again.
Over the past decade, she’s managed to do her best to forget about Noah Randall and the lingering questions surrounding her grandfather’s suicide. But now that’s he back in town – rich and more handsome than ever, and she can’t help wondering what if? What if Noah really was the one?
Noah Randall left home ten years ago to seek his fortune – vowing never to return until he’d made a success of himself – and show Caitlyn Montgomery just what she’d given up. He returns to find that Caitlyn Montgomery has only grown more alluring with time. Noah’s always wanted he couldn’t have…and now he wants Caitlyn again. But she’s determined not to make the same mistake twice.
While Noah and Caitlyn are revisiting old ground – and forging a new relationship, there’s trouble brewing in Queensbay. Old secrets and new lead Caitlyn to believe that perhaps her grandfather didn’t kill himself – and that Maxwell’s death was no accident. But just how far will someone go to keep her – and Noah – from finding out the truth…and will Queesbay prove to have troubled waters after all?
Caroline: How about an excerpt of ROUGH HARBOR?
Caitlyn Montgomery carefully let herself in the side door with the key hidden under the flowerpot. Police tape fluttered along the back of the house, the side that faced the water, but here, under the small overhang, there was nothing, only a chilly October breeze and the more distant sound of the water lapping at the rocky shore.
The house was quiet, the silence of sadness. Her footsteps echoed across the polished wood flooring of the hallway as she crossed onto the marble tiles of the foyer. She knew it well, had almost grown up here, and had spent many nights here in the recent months, playing chess and sipping whisky with an old man.
The door to Maxwell Randall’s study swung silently open. Caitlyn crossed the floor quickly, her sneakered feet sinking into the plush carpet. She came around to Maxwell’s desk, an ornate, obnoxious thing meant to look like something a Gilded Age Robber Baron would have owned.
It was just as he’d left it. Empty. Maxwell hadn’t been one for bringing work home, she discovered. His desk was clear, a simple blotter aligned in the middle. A phone off to the right, a brass lamp off to the left. A pad of paper and a can of pens and pencils sat within reach. There was no computer, no planner or desk diary. She supposed if there had been one, the police would have taken it.
Slowly, methodically, she leaned over and began to open the desk drawers. Nothing in the two large ones flanking the right, nor the left. She turned her attention to the middle drawer, the thin one. It stuck a bit, and she felt her heart flutter in anticipation. She knelt down, to get a better view. Caitlyn pushed a strand of her brown-black hair behind her ear and squinted in concentration as she carefully slid her hands toward the back of the narrow drawer.
“What are you doing?”
Her head jerked up, hitting the side of the drawer as she rose to her feet.
“You?” Caitlyn said, surprise radiating through her.
There was a pause. Caitlyn drew herself up to her full height and looked at Noah Randall, all six-feet-one of him, standing in the doorway.
Currently available at http://www.amazon.com/Rough-Harbor-ebook/dp/B009HIP4RA/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1358193399&sr=1-1&keywords=Andrea+Stein+Rough+Harbor
Hi, I’m Andrea Stein, an author, mother, wife, blogger, and a certified mom-chauffeur. I have been scribbling stories for as long as I can remember, including my first adventure story, inspired by an obsession with OUT OF AFRICA (book, movie and biography) about a young girl stranded in Kenya. It was serial fiction handwritten, given to my sister, who couldn’t read my handwriting. That story dies after one installment, but the next year I got a word processor (not a computer, but an ACTUAL WORD PROCESSOR) that showed about twenty lines of text at a time. This was before laptops were widely available and this allowed me to be able to type to my heart’s content in the privacy of my own room. Which I did. I think I spent the time writing stories about my “frenemies” to amuse myself. I also listened to a lot of the Cure and New Wave music. I have since moved on to a happier place.
Even though I read lots of different types of books, I write romance novels with a twist. More like contemporary romance than romantic suspense (I don’t write about serial killers or FBI agents) but I usually like to include a puzzle or mystery for my hero and heroine to solve.
Rough Harbor is my second novel, set in a small New England town. Coming soon is Ivy Cottage, also set in a small New England town on a river.
Other than writing I spend most of my time reading, watching TV, cooking, cleaning, taking care of kids, trying to keep the house clean and folding laundry. I love Twizzlers, chocolate and shows on the WB. For me, reading has always been an escape, a way to escape the ordinary and dive into a world that feels real – but with all of the ‘boring’ parts edited out.
As for the rest of my life, I grew up on Long Island, spent a lot of vacations in small New England towns, went to college in New York City, married by high school sweetheart, worked, had kids, stopped working, and kept on writing. Now I live in rural New Jersey (yes, there is such a thing), and though I don’t own any horses, I do have a barn, which I share with squirrels.
There’s something successful writers always tell new writers about their secret to success. Just do it…Bum Glue…write 1ooo words a day…write for two hours a day….Keep writing. And they’re right. I got more successful with my writing when I started to do it consistently. I don’t write every day, but I shoot for five days a week. This means that the words and pages pile up — and I have stories to shape, make and mold…and share.
Links – Website: www.Andreasteinbooks.com
Facebook - http://www.facebook.com/AndreaSteinBooks
Twitter - https://twitter.com/andreasteinbook
Caroline: Is there anything else you’d like readers to know about you?
Andrea: Thanks so much for the opportunity to stop by the blog!
Thanks, readers, for stopping by!