Journeys of the Heart

An author's journey

Meet Karen Hudgins

Today I have Wing’s author, Karen Hudgins (who also happens to be my big sister from St. Louis) as a guest. Congratulations on the debut of your new book, Best Man.  As an author I always have questions that I like to ask other authors, so here are a few for you.

What first inspired you to write a book?

My inspiration for writing a book grew out of first loving stories and learning creative writing, which led to discovering I had it in me to write books. When people liked what I wrote, I just kept at it—for 20 years and counting.

What does your writing schedule look like?  Are you a morning writer? A night owl?  How do you stay focused?

When I’m producing pages for my next project, I write as often as possible and whenever, which maximizes my effort and time arranged around my day job. So you can find me writing at any hour of the day (when home), on weekends, and holidays.  My current book, Best Man, was written mostly in the evening, often late at night. Story immersion pulls me in deep, practice at shutting things out, and determination to finish are what keep me focused.    

Do you have any favorite books on writing or a list of music you use as you write?

In the beginning I read whatever I could about the craft of fiction writing for the mass market. There are many resources for aspiring authors. I had used some standards: Dwight Swain, Stephen King, articles in Writer’s Digest and The Writer, along with many articles in other trade journals/mags, like RWA’s RWR. I especially like Chris Vogel’s, The Heroes Journey and Deb Dixon’s, Goal, Motivation and Conflict.  I can listen to rock music while I write…but I can’t watch a TV show due to the dialog, which interferes with writing my own. 

Today, writers need not only write great books, but be great promoters of their books, too. What kinds of things do you do?

When a new book comes out I “talk it up” to everybody. I give away books. I go to Romantic Times Booklovers Convention, meet readers and promote, and appear at the Book Fair. I get reviews. I update my website. I pass out my business card. I attend writing organization meetings, give talks, and take everyone’s interest seriously. I answer many questions, network, and share lots of what I’ve learned. I use FB for promoting and sharing personal tidbits. I support and defend the romance genre. I also do some advertising, not as much as I’d like to because it’s costly, but important. When I research topics, I share why I’m doing it– “For my next book…” I give credit where due and genuinely appreciate my readers. I provide bookmarks and personalized pens, as they are useful items.  All of which is promotion in one form or another—and doesn’t happen in one day. 

What advice do you have for aspiring writers?

First, love writing and enjoy books. Commit yourself to it. Learn mostly the craft at first, and then the business. Keep reading in the genre you’re writing and also things in which you’re interested. Take some workshops and enter contests. Write with your heart—just let it all hang out. Seek constructive criticism and learn its benefit. Don’t give up. Trust the process; it won’t fail you. Realize writing one book often takes many people. Enjoy your accomplishment when you’re done

You have a new book out.  We’d love to hear about it.  Yes, and thanks for asking!  Best Man, a single-title contemporary romance, is set in Missouri wine country. When the hero and heroine meet in a polo clash, they are pulled into the vortex of attraction and soon love. They struggle to surmount their differences, and how Doug was part of what almost ruined Geneva’s career. He’s country, loves the rich soil, and his slope filled with grapes at his family’s vineyard, and she’s a townsie, daughter of department store family, keeps things tidy, loves fine things and creating beautiful bridal wear. He’s the best man in the heroine’s current client’s wedding, and she wonders furiously why he can’t seem to apologize for the pain he brought her. But she can’t demand an apology for fear of rocking the boat with her client. He, on the other hand, can’t figure how the polo game turned ugly so fast, and why he couldn’t pull out of the tight squeeze. Eventually, good reasons surface for his lack of apology, and by then the heroine has saved his life and began her forgiveness as her love for him grows. However, as more is revealed to him in memory flashes, his guilt rises. After the wedding, he sends her away, claiming this could never work. While she’s gone an investigation reveals truths to him. He finally feels worthy of her, but is it too late to reclaim her heart?

Short blurb: After a polo accident a wedding couture designer tangles with her client’s Best Man, a vintner and polo player, who ultimately becomes her best man for life. 

Excerpt:

As Geneva reached for another pearl from an acrylic box, her cell phone pinged. She placed the needle in its cushion and removed her thin, white cotton gloves. Tucking them into her smock pocket, she padded across the room to a cluttered work table. A button tap connected her to Ellyn.

Geneva greeted her cheerfully enough. “Has our appointment arrived?”

“Not yet, luv. It’s a tad early, but the seamstresses’ hours are tallied. We have new spools of silk thread, and I’ll be leavin’ shortly for fresh scones.”

“Could we have cranberry?”

“I’ll give it a go,” Ellyn said.

“Wait,” Geneva said, tightening her fingers around the phone. “Mr. Abbott didn’t leave a message, did he? I mean, he’s still coming?”

“Tch. Tch. Not a word to the contrary.”

Geneva began to relax her grip, and Ellyn gently reminded her, “He’s only an appointment…among many.”

“Not quite,” Geneva said faintly.

“True. He’s more handsome than most.”

“Well…yes, he’s that, but you know what I mean.”

“I do,” Ellen replied. “And you’ll manage him fine. I shan’t be long.”

Geneva thanked her and hung up. She laid the phone down, stepped away, and sighed in a sudden rush. All that had to be finished for Cherie sped through her mind. Despite Geneva’s five-week set-back, work for the bride remained fairly on target for completion.

Geneva’s crew and Ellyn deserved kudos for that. The bride, maid of honor, three bridesmaids, two junior bridesmaids, and one darling flower girl had returned as needed several times since Geneva had accepted this commission.

However, this sterling progress wasn’t true for the groom’s side. What Geneva and her helpers needed to accomplish for Tom Abbott and his party was missing the mark. Custom vests and ties for seven men also required time to make.

But if all went well today, she could begin outfitting Doug with a proper vest and tie and mark him off the list. Yet, a question that had nothing to do with wedding wear lurked in her heart. Will he remember me, or even know who I am?

Geneva’s wrist suddenly ached. For sure, Doug had helped cause her hardship. She still awoke from a deep sleep, hearing and fearing the thunder of those sweaty, thoroughbred polo ponies bearing down on her.

Frankly, with all due respect to her beloved Aunt Phoebe, time was just not passing fast enough for Geneva to be able to forget or forgive. Doug might be used to sustaining injuries from sprints at full gallop for his weekend sport and folly, but she was not. Although he couldn’t change the outcome, she felt he owed her at least a polite apology. Or an inquiry as to her well-being. Yet, to her surprise, nothing of the like had come forth.

For now, timing couldn’t be worse for a confrontation. Cherie and her family would catch wind of it. “Clients get pesky over much less,” she murmured as she stepped to the windows. The cooler, northern wind blew down-river again and fluttered the gauze curtains. Often it brought downpours into this hilly wine country. She could smell the ozone in the air from the approaching rain in the air and latched the three creaking windows.

Geneva stepped over cotton sheeting. The pink cloth separated her slippered feet from the polished oak floor in this part of the long room where fashion creativity and finery were fiercely protected. Cherie’s strapless, full-skirted gown with its scalloped sweep train dominated the room. Her illusion tulle veil hung in the cherry armoire.

Reaching the radio, Geneva turned it on. She returned to Cherie, put on her gloves with their pretty crocheted edges, and got to work. She already felt better, despite the rain that tapped the windows. Minutes drifted into a place where creativity erased time.

When Geneva finally looked up, she started. Douglas Abbott gazed at her from the doorway. Solid, good-looking, he filled her view. He’d traded his polo shirt and jodhpurs for jeans and a tan Abbott’s Vineyard shirt. He nodded at her and sauntered into the Bride’s Loft. Large, damp shoe prints on the sheeting followed him in his wake.

Geneva widened her eyes in disbelief.

“Stop! Right now! Please!” she cried. As she jerked her hand up, a rude prick jabbed her thumb. She dropped the tethered needle, leaving it dangling from a rose. She tightened her frown as the visitor slowly halted in front of her.

Half his smile faded, but he proffered his hand for a shake.

“I’m Doug Abbott, and I—”

“Yes, of course….you are. Excuse me…but didn’t you see Ellyn?” Geneva asked, keeping her hand to herself. Her thumb throbbed.

He hiked an eyebrow. “I’m not sure who you mean.”

Geneva cleared her throat. He was more than handsome. “She’s our office manager. Downstairs.”

Doug studied her intently, and she him. Pushing him away and pulling him in at the same time, like the surf on a beach in a maddening rhythm. Ellyn, bless her, was wrong. He was already difficult. Her only recourse was to talk.

“Hmmm…she should’ve been back by now, and was to let me know when you arrived,” Geneva went on. “I would’ve come down to meet you in our lobby.” Hastily, she moved between him and Cherie’s gown. Moving her hands to her hips, she tried to block at least some of his view. “It’s the way we do things here,” she said. “Mr. Abbott, do you realize where you are?”

The best man withdrew his unmet handshake. Straightening his mouth, he raised a forefinger for her to wait a minute and plucked a BlackBerry from his pocket. He tapped a button and read aloud, “One thirty. 15 Lark Street. Geneva Pembrooke, Fine Wedding Couture. Weekdays Nine to Five. Weekends by Appointment Only.”

Looking up at her, he added, “I’m also eleven miles east of Abbott’s Vineyard, and three blocks from the Country Store. Tom’s looking over the place this afternoon for the owner.” He repocketed the palm device. “Tom’s the groom, and I’m his older brother.”

Geneva stared at him. She’d never seen such blue eyes in a man, but was he usually this bothersome, this insolent?

(www.wingspress.com)

Short bio:

Karen Hudgins grew up loving stories and in mid-life began writing them. She enrolled in a novel writing program at Rice University, attended conferences, joined organizations and groups, organized a critique group, entered contests, judged contests, shared her learning through giving talks, and chatted with many fellow authors and readers, read for techniques, and absorbed all she could about writing.  Authoring was given a top priority in her life.  She has written five romantic fiction novels, and the first one took almost five years from front to finish for first publishing in 2001. She writes romance because the genre offers her more creative routes to take within the stories. For her next novel, she’ll return to her Fantasy Men series with Summer Night With Sinbad. When not writing she enjoys digital nature photography and rock music. She currently lives in the St. Louis area with her husband, dog and cat, and chats often with her grown-up, newly-wed daughter.

 

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January 20, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | 3 Comments