Monday, September 29, 2014

Interview with Karen Tuft author of Unexpected and Reality Check - GIVEAWAY!!!!

Karen Tuft was born with a healthy dose of curiosity about pretty much everything, so as a child she taught herself to read and play the piano. She studied composition at BYU then graduated from the University of Utah in music theory as a member of Phi Kappa Phi and Pi Kappa Lambda honor societies. In addition to being an author, Karen is a pianist, composer, and arranger, and has spent countless hours backstage and in orchestra pits for theater productions. She also has a 75 percent success rate when it comes to matchmaking and is a big believer in happy endings. Among her varied interests, she likes to spend time with her hubby and kids, figure out what makes people tick, wander through museums, and travel--whether by car, plane, or paperback.

Karen's most recent novel is Unexpected:
Eleven years ago, Ross McConnell was devastated by the betrayal of the woman of his dreams. Time does not heal all wounds, and after more than a decade, Ross is no closer to finding love. When his well-meaning family attempts to play matchmaker, he concedes by creating a list detailing his perfect mate. Perhaps he’ll give love another try, if such perfection exists . . .
Natalie Forrester is no stranger to heartache. After two failed marriages, the single mother is determined to make it on her own. Without a college degree, she starts at the bottom: working as a housekeeper may not be glamorous, but it’s her first step toward independence. And then Ross and Natalie meet . . . and meet again. And following a series of awkward encounters, Ross is shocked by his growing attraction for this woman. Natalie couldn’t be further from his ideal woman, and she is firm in her determination to keep her heart closed to love. But as their tenuous friendship develops and deepens, will the unlikely pair have the courage to set aside the disappointments of the past to catch hold of a bright new future?

Karen's writing is fresh and clever, her characters interesting and memorable. If you're looking for a book to entertain you and keep you up late, this is the one for you! And if you post a response to this blog post you will be entered into a giveaway for a free autographed copy of her book Unexpected.

Here is my interview with Karen Tuft...

M.B.: When did you first know you wanted to be an author?

K.T.: I didn’t know I wanted to be an author! I spent the majority of my life being a musician and dabbling in other creative arts. But life has an “unexpected” (pun intended!) way of throwing us curve balls. A dozen years ago, I experienced a significant loss of my eyesight following failed LASIK surgery. As a result, I had to redefine who I’d always been and find a new creative outlet for myself. And writing became that outlet.

M.B.: How wonderful that something so great could come out of something so horrible. What is your writing and educational background?

K.T.: I have a Bachelor’s degree in Music Theory, although I have always loved English and am constantly reading. My initial writing experience came mostly through school essays and limericks for friends (seriously). Interestingly, music and literature are structurally similar, so my college education helped me a lot when I made the transition from music to writing fiction.

M.B.: Were you ever discouraged along the way? If so, how did you deal with it?

K.T.: I think every human being is discouraged at some point, regardless of what they choose to pursue. The trick is to have yourself a little cry, evaluate if you really have the potential and desire to continue, and then move forward with a realistic outlook and a healthy dose of optimism.

M.B.: Where do your ideas come from? How do you know the idea is good enough to write a book about it?

K.T.: I believe everyone has a story, and it is a story worth telling—at least to someone. (That’s the genealogy fanatic in me speaking.) As a writer of fiction, however, I think the trick is to discern what makes the story relatable and compelling to others.

M.B.: What do you hope readers will get from this book?

K.T.: My main character in Unexpected, Natalie, made choices and mistakes early in her life that took her down a challenging road. My hope for the readers of Unexpected is that they will realize that while we have to live with the consequences of our choices, it doesn’t mean that God loves us less or that we can never have hope or love in our lives.

M.B.: What is your process of brainstorming a story? Do you just sit down and write, waiting to see what happens next? Or do you outline first?

K.T.: Through trial and error, I’ve learned that I work best if I have a basic skeletal structure for my entire story, and then allow myself the latitude to fill in the details as I go along. If I get too detailed in my outline I feel hamstrung, but I like having an outline that makes it clear where I’m heading and where I’ll end up at the story’s conclusion.

M.B.: Do you need absolute quiet to write? Do you listen to music when you are writing?

K.T.: You’d think, as a musician, that I listen to music, but NO!—I need absolute quiet to write!! I can’t go to “that deep place” I need to be while writing with music or conversation going on around me—especially music. Because of my training, I automatically revert to “musician mode” if music is playing—I start paying attention to the choice of instruments, the chord progressions, everything!! **groan** It’s too ingrained!

M.B.: What kinds of inspiration do you use during your story creation periods?

K.T.: I stare out the window a lot (I’m only half-kidding). I read a lot. I ask myself “what would happen if . . .” a lot. And I keep a notebook handy so if I see a random quote or have an idea pop in my head I can jot it down.

M.B.: You are so much like me!!! Who has made the greatest difference for you as a writer?

K.T.: I’ve had a lot of great support from family and friends as a fledgling writer (the lovely and talented Michele Ashman Bell included—thank you so much!). My husband has been and remains my biggest champion in all of my creative endeavors. I mean, he used to cook dinner for his kids and put them to bed so I could go to community theater rehearsals! The guy’s a prince among men.

But the “aha moment” of my writing journey came from a children’s author named Bonny Becker ( I was sitting in a breakout session at a writing conference, and she explained the structure of writing fiction in a way that was like unraveling the universe in a single paragraph, or finding the key to the secrets of the Rosetta Stone. And she writes about a bear!

M.B.: What’s your secret to making the characters in your books come to life?

K.T.: Making them real. People are layered in real life, and characters need layers, too, especially main characters. There has to be something empathetic or compelling about them, or else we as readers won’t be interested enough to keep turning the pages.

M.B.: Do you use a critique group during the writing process? Why or why not?

K.T.: I don’t use a critique group. It’s too structured of a setup for me, personally. I do ask people I trust to critique my writing occasionally, if I find myself stuck or want specific input, though.

M.B.: What is your favorite snack to have while you are writing?

K.T.: Chocolate anything, anytime! Specifically, DARK chocolate anything—although I’m not so picky as to turn down chocolate in any form if it’s available for consumption.

M.B.: What are you working on now?

K.T.: I'm working on a story involving Lucy Kendrick Glass’s (my heroine in Reality Check) brother, Andy Kendrick. This one has taken a little longer for me to complete—life keeps getting in the way (it needs to stop doing that!)—but I’m hoping to have it completed and submitted soon.

M.B.: YAY!!! I'm so excited! Where can our readers go to find your books and order them?

AUTHOR: Unexpected and Reality Check can be found at any LDS bookseller, including Deseret Book (, Seagull Books (, and in either soft cover or e-book formats.,,

Monday, September 22, 2014

Emma: A Latter-day Tale by author Rebecca H. Jamison

I'm excited to post this interview with author Rebecca H. Jamison. Since I met her and did the interview she's had another book come out. I want to apologize to this sweet lady for taking so long to get her interview posted but would also like to take the chance to promote her most recent book, Sense and Sensibility: A Latter-day Tale
I mean how cute is this cover!!!
To order this book you can click HERE

Rebecca H. Jamison is the author of Emma: A Latter-day Tale and Persuasion: A Latter-day Tale. She loves running, dancing, reading, playing with her kids, and watching detective shows.

About the book: Emma's her name and matchmaking is her game! Quirky life coach Emma wants to help her first-ever client, a lonely nanny named Harriet. But all of her attempts at matchmaking result only in embarrassing miscues and blunders, leaving the pair disheartened and confused. This modern take on the Jane Austen classic shows that sometimes the greatest match is the one we make for ourselves.

Jamison's modern telling of the classic Jane Austen novel is creative, fresh and fun. Even if you haven't read the original you will enjoy the story and perhaps find yourself seeking out the Austen version after you finish Emma: A Latter-day Tale. Even though it is geared toward the female LDS market I noticed in some of the reviews of this book that men and non-members have also enjoyed the book.

I got a chance to interview this awesome author and thought you might enjoy getting to know her as well.

M.B.: When did you first know you wanted to be an author?

R.B.: I never set out to become an author. I like to write novels, and I figured since I write them, I might as well publish them.

M.B.: LOL! Good for you! What is your writing and educational background?

R.B.: I have a BA and MA in English from BYU. With each degree, I emphasized creative writing, so I wrote my first novel as my master’s thesis. It’s still not published. One of these days I’ll go back and revise it.

M.B.: What makes you passionate about writing?

R.B.: The process of writing keeps me happy. I feel that it’s part of my mission in life to write good, clean fiction. The world definitely needs more of that!

M.B.: What was the pathway like for you to get your first book published?

R.B.: Like most first-time authors, I was terrified to submit my book to publishers. I’d tried with my first novel and failed. After I finished my second novel, I set a New Year’s resolution to submit it to as many publishers as possible. I submitted to Deseret Book first. They rejected it. I then submitted to Cedar Fort, and they accepted it.

M.B.: Were you ever discouraged along the way? If so, how did you deal with it?

R.B.: I’m very vulnerable to discouragement, which is bad because a discouraged writer is not a productive writer. I work hard to stay positive about my writing. I try to get outside in the sun. I avoid reading too many reviews. I write every day. I also try to keep myself spiritually strong.

M.B.: What is your writing schedule like?

R.B.: I write every morning before my kids get up and in the evening right after my little ones go to bed. I also go to the library twice a week to write for a few hours.

M.B.: Where do your ideas come from? How do you know the idea is good enough to write a book about it?

R.B.: I write what I think would be fun to read. If I’m not excited to write it, it won’t be fun to read.

M.B.: What do you hope readers will get from this book?

R.B.: I hope readers will come away feeling that they don’t have to be perfect to live a fulfilling life.

M.B.: What is your process of brainstorming a story? Do you just sit down and write, waiting to see what happens next? Or do you outline first?

R.B.: I do an outline, but I don’t stick to it very well. I end up changing the outline over and over again while I’m writing.

M. B.: Do you ever experience a snag in a story, a form of writer’s block?

R.B.: Yes. Sometimes when I’m stuck on a scene, I’ll write down a list of thirty different things that could happen. I get some great ideas that way. Occasionally, if the story doesn’t feel right, I’ll go back and revise something that happened earlier in the manuscript.

M.B.: Do you need absolute quiet to write? Do you listen to music when you are writing?

R.B.: I have six kids. There’s never absolute quiet, but I prefer things to be as quiet as possible. I love to listen to music, but sadly, I can’t write and listen at the same time. It’s too distracting for me.

M.B.: What kind of inspiration do you use during your story creation period?

R.B.: Since I’ve been writing Jane Austen retellings, I read a lot of Jane Austen and watch all the movies I can find. I also read other popular books in my genre, as well as books that pertain to the subject. For example, when I wrote Emma, I read books about how to become a life coach.

M.B.: Who has made the greatest difference for you as a writer?

R.B.: That is a hard question because I’ve had so many great teachers and friends influence me. I would have to say, though, that my husband has had the biggest influence on my writing. If he hadn’t encouraged me to write Persuasion: A Latter-day Tale, I wouldn’t be an author today.

M.B.: What’s your secret to making the characters in your books come to life?

R.B.: I try to give my characters quirks. They all have a past, a unique voice, and insecurities . My goal is to reveal something new about each main character in each chapter. I think it’s also important for people to relate to my characters. I think if you can relate to a character because, say, she hates shopping for jeans, then that character starts to come alive for you.

M.B.: I agree a thousand percent! Do you use a critique group during the writing process? Why or why not?

R.B.: I would love to have a critique group. Unfortunately, my schedule prevents me from attending most critique groups I’ve found. I do use critique partners and beta readers, however. They’re very helpful. It also helps that my husband works full-time as an editor. He and my teenage daughter are some of my best critique partners.

M.B.: Which of your books is your favorite, and why?

R.B.: Probably the one I’m writing now. (I’m doing my version of Sense and Sensibility.) I’ve fallen in love with the characters. This is my fourth book, so I feel like I’m getting better at plotting and character development.

M.B.: Oh wow! It can't wait for your next one! What is something about yourself people don’t know?

R.B.: I’m really bad at sports that involve a ball. I have an eye motor control problem, so I can’t track the ball very well when it’s moving.

M.B.: What words of advice do you have for other writers who desire to have their manuscripts become books in print?

R.B.: Read a lot, and read the best books you can find. I’m always a better writer when I’m reading great writers. Right now, I’m reading Anne Perry’s books. My local library has a lot of her books in audio versions, so I listen while I work in the kitchen or while I’m driving.

M.B.: What are you working on now?

R.B.: Sense and Sensibility: A Latter-day Tale will come out in August. Here’s the logline: On the verge of bankruptcy, a feisty programmer take s a job working for her ex-fiancĂ© and falls in love with his new brother-in-law. When she stumbles upon some company secrets, she must follow her conscience instead of her heart, even if it means living in her grandma’s cluttered basement for the rest of her life.

M.B.: Any final words you’d like to share?

R.B.: Yes. Thank you so much, Michele, for interviewing me. I’m such a fan of you and your books. It’s an honor to be a guest here.

M.B.: Where can readers go to find your books and order them?

You can order them at here:

You can also buy them at Seagull and Deseret Book bookstores.

You can find out more about me at

I’m also on Facebook:


And Twitter: