Interview with RITA finalist Kat Latham (me!) – & giveaway!

Okay, I hope this isn’t too narcissistic, but since I asked all the other RITA® nominees in my category to submit themselves to an interview, I figured I should do it too.

So today we welcome…me!

Kat Latham is a California girl who moved to Europe the day after graduating from UCLA, ditching her tank tops for raincoats. She taught English in Prague and worked as an editor in London before she and her British husband moved to the Netherlands, where they are surrounded by miles and miles of green pasture, canals and Shetland ponies. Kat’s slowly adjusting to life in a place where bicycles and cows seem to outnumber people.

With degrees in English lit and human rights, she loves stories that reflect the humor and emotion of real life. Kat’s other career involves writing and editing for charities, and she’s had the privilege of traveling to Kenya, Ethiopia and India to write about the heroic people helping their communities survive disasters.

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1. Which of your books has been nominated for a RITA, and in what category?
Mine Under the Mistletoe – Romance Novella

2. How do your hero and heroine meet, and what are their first impressions of each other?
Ashley’s a San Diegan who has always dreamed of spending Christmas in London, so she arranges a house-swap through a website…she’ll stay in a stranger’s house while he goes to San Diego and spends the holidays in hers.

Except that a snowstorm shuts Heathrow down before Ollie’s flight to San Diego can take off, so he goes back to his own house and crawls into his bed exhausted, completely forgetting that Ashley is there. Oh yeah, and he’s naked. So she reacts the way you’d probably expect her to.

Here’s one of my favorite passages from their meeting.

Oh, crud. He was polite even when she’d nearly smashed his family jewels. Maybe that was a British way of coping with agony. Would he kick her out of his house? Surely he would understand that she’d thought he was an attacker. She’d saved for this trip for five years and she was finally here, ready to live her childhood fantasies of snow, figgy pudding and men who called each other guv’nor, but she’d just gouged the man’s testicles for heaven’s sake. Hospitality only went so far.

3. What are their best and worst characteristics?
Ashley is very optimistic and sunny, but she can come across as a bit naive. She’s not naive; she’s suffered a lot of hardship in her life. But she’s determined to triumph over it and not to let life’s challenges overwhelm her.

Ollie can be grumpy, but he has shouldered an incredible amount of responsibility and would do absolutely anything for the people he loves. He has made huge sacrifices for his family, but that also makes the holidays difficult for him.

4. Where is this book set, and what makes the setting special?
It’s set in East London, which is one of my favorite places – especially at Christmas. But in the last several years, London has experienced more snowy and icy winters, and it’s not set up to cope with weather like that. Every few years, loads of flights are canceled and pretty much the whole city shuts down.

But there are worse things than being stranded in London at Christmas. 🙂

5. Is this the first time you’ve been a RITA finalist? If not, what books have previously finaled?
It is, and it’s the first year I was eligible! I’m so incredibly excited.

6. Have you read any of the other books that are finalists in your category? If so, which ones?
I’ve read all but one, and I’ll be reading that one before the ceremony. I’m amazed and honored to have been nominated alongside such amazing authors.

7. What was the first thing you did when you found out you were a RITA finalist?
I was out having lunch with a friend and found out as I was leaving the restaurant, so I called my editor, Angela James, and then my agent, Laura Bradford. Then I called my husband.

8. Do you write in genres other than the one you finaled in? If not, are there any genres you would love to write in?
I only write contemporary romance, but I wish I could write historicals, too. I tried once, and it took me weeks to write five pages because I kept looking up historical facts – what clothes would they be wearing? what room would visitors be taken to? what parts of London would’ve been built-up in 18th century London, and what would still have been fields and farmland?

I totally admire historical romance authors!

9. If you win the RITA, who’s the first person you’ll thank in your speech, and why?
My husband for his incredible patience. And my mom, who has been SO supportive – though she swears that she skips the sexy parts of my books.

Speed-dating round

What’s the most beautiful place you’ve ever been?
A town called Cesky Krumlov in southern Bohemia, Czech Republic. If you ever get the chance, go there!

If you were stuck on a desert island, what ONE book would you want with you?
Laura Kinsale’s Seize the Fire because it has the sexiest desert-island sex scene EVER.

If you could bring one of your heroes to life for a day, who would you choose?
Spencer Bailey from Knowing the Score (though Matt Ogden from my upcoming book Tempting the Player also tempts me).

Which of your characters is most similar to you?
Caitlyn Sweeney from Knowing the Score…which is funny because I’ve read a few reviews that say she’s really annoying.

Maybe funny isn’t the word I’m looking for. Painful? Yeah, that.

If you weren’t an author, what would be your dream career?
My other career is pretty awesome. I’m a writer and editor for charities working in the development and humanitarian sectors. It’s incredibly inspiring.

What kind of dessert are you hoping they’ll serve at the award ceremony?
I’ll be happy with anything, since I’ve been trying to limit my sugar intake to lose some weight and get healthier. Basically, anyone sitting at my table better watch out because I’ll eat their arms if they get too close to my dessert.

What’s the best compliment a reader could give you?
“Your book made me laugh out loud.”

How would you describe your books?
They reflect all the love, humor and poignancy of real life.

Thanks to a transatlantic house swap, California girl Ashley Turner is finally going to fulfill her lifelong dream of a proper English Christmas. Her holiday plans did not include a sexy stranger climbing into her borrowed bed in the middle of the night. But in the light of day, Ashley can’t help but wonder if Santa has delivered early…

Game designer Oliver Stansfeld can’t wait to leave dreary London—and all its difficult holiday memories—for sunny San Diego. But a freak ice storm and a grounded plane have forced him back to his already-occupied flat. To make up for the mix-up, the least he can do is show his pretty houseguest where to get the perfect Christmas tree before he leaves.

The more time they spend together, the more their attraction grows, and soon Ashley is tempting Oliver to give in to the spirit of the season and snuggle up for the rest of the winter. As the ice melts and flights start taking off again, he must choose between giving in to the past or risking his heart on a chance at love.

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Giveaway!

Enter using the Rafflecopter form below. Winner will be announced on Monday July 21. Good luck, everyone, and make sure you come back on Monday when I’ll be revealing my cover for Tempting the Player (London Legends #3)!

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Interview with RITA finalist Shannon McNear – & giveaway!

Welcome to my RITA® award celebration! Hosted by the Romance Writers of America®, the RITAs celebrate outstanding romance novels and novellas. I’m so thrilled to be a finalist in the Romance Novella category, and I’ve asked my fellow RITA® finalists to come tell you more about themselves and their books. I hope you meet some new favorite authors!

Today we welcome Shannon McNear!

A Midwestern farm girl transplanted more than 20 years ago to Charleston, South Carolina, then lately to North Dakota, Shannon McNear loves losing herself in local history, especially the colonial era. She’s currently a homeschooling mother, military wife, and a member of ACFW and RWA.

When not sewing, researching, or leaking story from her fingertips, she finds joy in worship, women’s ministry, and encouraging whoever God brings across her path.

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1. Which of your books has been nominated for a RITA, and in what category?
Defending Truth in A Pioneer Christmas Collection, novella

2. How do your hero and heroine meet, and what are their first impressions of each other?
While out hunting, Truth Bledsoe happens upon a half-starved fugitive Tory. She can’t decide whether to shoot him or feed him—but pity and curiosity win out. Micah Elliot is grateful she didn’t actually shoot, and for a few mouthfuls of food, but he’s wary enough to not give her his real name.

3. What are their best and worst characteristics?
Truth is strong, resourceful, independent—which make her capable of caring for herself and younger siblings in her father’s absence, but she’s also reluctant to ask for help when she does need it. She’s also moved by compassion for Micah’s plight, but later she views this as weakness when she should (she thinks) stand firmly on her principles. Her worst characteristic, as she realizes later, is self-righteousness.

Micah has great protective instincts, and a strong sense of loyalty. He’s a little slow to commit to things, which in some situations might translate as cowardice, but he’s learning to navigate a newfound caution, born of his recent experiences.

4. Where is this book set, and what makes the setting special?
Near the “overmountain” settlements in historic western North Carolina, which is present-day east Tennessee. During the American Revolution, it was officially illegal for white settlers to live there.

5. Is this the first time you’ve been a RITA finalist? If not, what books have previously finaled?
Yes! And with this being my first contracted story, it’s extra special to me. 🙂

6. Have you read any of the other books that are finalists in your category? If so, which ones?
I haven’t, sorry!

7. What was the first thing you did when you found out you were a RITA finalist?
I don’t know, I might have cried? It took a while for it to really sink in. 🙂 I just kept saying “Omigosh!” during the actual call, then after I hung I up, I said to my husband, “I just finaled in the RITA!” and fell across the bed in shock. 🙂 The squeeing came later when one of my writing friends called to congratulate me!

8. Do you write in genres other than the one you finaled in? If not, are there any genres you would love to write in?
I have several fantasy manuscripts (my first love, LOL), but I’ve also written a long contemporary and a long historical.

9. If you win the RITA, who’s the first person you’ll thank in your speech, and why?
Oh man, I don’t know … it sounds cheesy to say, but probably God, because this contract (and the story!) were such an amazing gift. 🙂 The first after Him would be my longtime friend and critique partner, Beth Goddard, since she was the one who tossed the writing opp my way and encouraged/coached/cheered me on at every step.

Speed-dating round

What’s the most beautiful place you’ve ever been?
I have to pick one?? I love Charleston SC, but the mountains of NC are also gorgeous. Central Missouri. Umm…and our new home in North Dakota has gone a long way toward seriously winning me over. The northern prairies are beautiful!

If you were stuck on a desert island, what ONE book would you want with you?
The Bible is kind of a no-brainer. After that, C.S. Lewis’ Space Trilogy, in one volume. Or Lord of the Rings.

If you weren’t an author, what would be your dream career?
Custom sewing–picky, detailed stuff like wedding dresses and historic costuming.

What kind of dessert are you hoping they’ll serve at the award ceremony?
Cheesecake or something with very dark chocolate!

What’s the best compliment a reader could give you?
“I laughed, I cried, it moved me, Bob.” 🙂 Seriously, that it affected them emotionally, gave them hope in some way.

How would you describe your books?
Intense, a little broody, with flashes of light.

Left to care for her siblings at their mountain farm while her father fights the British in the East, Truth Bledsoe tries to remain brave when she finds an emaciated Tory hiding in a cave. Can Micah Elliot convince her that his political leanings have changed and that he can be trusted when her family is put in serious danger?

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Giveaway!

Enter using the Rafflecopter form below. Winner will be announced on Monday July 21. Make sure you come back tomorrow for another interview and another chance to win!

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Interview with RITA finalist Jane Porter – & giveaway!

Welcome to my RITA® award celebration! Hosted by the Romance Writers of America®, the RITAs celebrate outstanding romance novels and novellas. I’m so thrilled to be a finalist in the Romance Novella category, and I’ve asked my fellow RITA® finalists to come tell you more about themselves and their books. I hope you meet some new favorite authors!

Today we welcome Jane Porter!

Jane PorterThe bestselling author of 47 romances and women’s fiction titles, Jane Porter has been a finalist for the prestigious RITA award five times, and today has over 12 million copies in print.

Porter wrote Flirting with Forty, a novel picked by Redbook Magazine as its Red Hot Summer Read in 2006 before being turned into a Lifetime movie in 2008 starring Heather Locklear. Jane holds an MA in Writing from the University of San Francisco and makes her home in sunny San Clemente, CA with her surfer husband and three sons.

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1. Which of your books has been nominated for a RITA, and in what category?
Take Me, Cowboy – novella category

2. How do your hero and heroine meet, and what are their first impressions of each other?
They meet on a street corner. She’s in her wedding dress, having just been stood up by her fiance, and the hero is driving past in his truck and he thinks she looks like a princess at the bus stop. He’s immediately drawn to her, not recognizing her as the little girl who lived down the street from him. She’s horrified that her childhood heart throb, bullriding champ, Colton Thorpe would be there to witness her moment of shame.

3. What are their best and worst characteristics?
He’s tough, mature, and a risk-taker…and cynical about women and love. She’s hard working, tenacious but has given up her dreams, setting for a loveless marriage that would have been secure.

4. Where is this book set, and what makes the setting special?
Marietta, Montana set in Paradise Valley is a small town of 11,000 where everybody knows something about you…good or bad. I love writing about Montana. I had a grandfather that was a cattle rancher and so the rugged, tough cowboy is in my blood.

5. Is this the first time you’ve been a RITA finalist? If not, what books have previously finaled?
I have finaled 4 other times… 2003, 2004, 2008, and 2010

2003, 2004 and 2010 were with Harlequin Presents in Short Contemp Series

2008 was in single title/mainstream with romantic elements for Odd Mom Out

and then this year with my novellas from Tule Publishing

6. Have you read any of the other books that are finalists in your category? If so, which ones?
I am reading them all! It’s my reward for writing hard under my current deadline.

7. What was the first thing you did when you found out you were a RITA finalist?
I laughed. I couldn’t believe it. And then I told Meghan Farrell, who runs Tule Publishing and then my husband and some author friends.

8. Do you write in genres other than the one you finaled in? If not, are there any genres you would love to write in?
I write women’s fiction and contemp romance of all lengths.

9. If you win the RITA, who’s the first person you’ll thank in your speech, and why?
Wow. That’s a good question. I don’t think I’ll ever win. But if I did win….hmmm….I’d have to thank God for giving me the desire to do something good in the world, and then my Dad (gone since I was 15) thanks for passing the writing gene on to me. But I don’t need to win…just finaling meant the world to me as this is a story I wrote for my readers and it’s my idea of a perfect Jane Porter fairly-tale.

Speed-dating round

What’s the most beautiful place you’ve ever been?
Kyoto or Cape Town…one of those. Don’t know how to choose.

If you were stuck on a desert island, what ONE book would you want with you?
The Bible because it has poems, stories, advice, and a lot of pages. It’d hopefully keep me busy for awhile.

If you could bring one of your heroes to life for a day, who would you choose?
I did already. That was my surfer hero in Flirting with Forty. 🙂

If you weren’t an author, what would be your dream career?
Architect. I love building things…

What kind of dessert are you hoping they’ll serve at the award ceremony?
Something with meringue or marshmallow. Maybe chocolate, carmel and marshmallow. Maybe s’mores….?

What’s the best compliment a reader could give you?
You made me feel good.

How would you describe your books?
Emotional, bittersweet, and hopefully at the end, uplifting.

Take Me, CowboyWhen Jenny Wright’s fiancé leaves her standing at the altar in a Vera Wang bridal gown she can’t afford, she’s humiliated and heartbroken. To have Marietta hero bull riding champ Colton Thorpe witness her shame makes the rejection even more devastating.

Jenny and Colton grew up in the same rough neighborhood and they both left home right after school to pursue big dreams. Now they’re both back, with Colton as the celebrity chair for the 75th Copper Mountain Rodeo, and Jenny in disgrace. Sexy, rugged Colton didn’t get to be a national champion by chance. He’s a man that takes risks and goes after what he wants. During the rodeo weekend, Colton makes it clear he wants Jenny. Flustered but flattered, Jenny finds it difficult to resist his charm. But what happens when the rodeo ends and Colton leaves town? Will she dare to dream again?

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Giveaway!

Enter using the Rafflecopter form below. Winner will be announced on Monday July 21. Make sure you come back tomorrow for another interview and another chance to win!

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I’m a RITA finalist!

Mine Under the Mistletoe by Kat LathamI got amazing news today! My Christmas novella, Mine Under The Mistletoe, is a finalist for the Romance Writers of America’s RITA award for best romance novella!

I’m beside myself with giddiness, and I’d like to sincerely thank all of the people who helped me with this story before it made it to the digital shelves. I’m even more excited because it’s apparently Angela James’s first nomination as an editor.

Here’s the list of nominees.

The Bridesmaid
by Julia London
Sourcebooks, Casablanca
Deb Werksman, editor

Defending Truth
by Shannon McNear
in A Pioneer Christmas
Barbour Publishing
Becky Germany, editor

How to Marry a Highlander
by Katharine Ashe
HarperCollins Publishers, Avon Impulse
Lucia Macro, editor

How to Misbehave
by Ruthie Knox
Random House Group, Loveswept
Sue Grimshaw, editor

Imagine Me and You
by Maisey Yates
in Animal Attraction
Harlequin, HQN
Margo Lipschultz, editor

Mine Under the Mistletoe
by Kat Latham
Carina Press
Angela James, editor

Take Me, Cowboy
by Jane Porter
Tule Publishing, Montana Born Books
Tessa Shapcott, editor

Take What You Want
by Jeanette Grey
Samhain Publishing
Jennifer Miller, editor

Too Fast to Fall
by Victoria Dahl
in Be Mine
Harlequin, HQN
Tara Parsons, editor

The other nominees are AMAZING authors. I’ve read some of the novellas and I’m going to read the rest before the big awards ceremony in July.

Have you read any of these novellas? What did you think?

Thank you to all of the wonderful, thoughtful people who have sent me tweets, emails and Facebook messages congratulating me. You’ve made this day so special, and I can’t tell you how much I appreciate every single message. You guys rock!

Love for the downtrodden hero

This is cross-posted at The Season.

One Fine Cowboy coverA couple of months ago, I wrote about how I don’t always connect with kickass heroines. The women I empathize with the most in novels are inevitably ones more like me—people whose main fights have been to overcome internal barriers, like fear and low confidence after spending too much time around mean jackasses, to accomplish the things they want in life.

Fortunately for me, romance is full of these women and I get to watch them blossom into confident, fulfilled people by the end of a novel. But what if the genders were reversed? How many romance heroes can you name who’ve been so badly beaten down by life and past relationships that they struggle with the confidence they need to achieve their dreams? Or worse, they barely allow themselves to dream anymore?

I was surprised to find such a hero in one of this year’s RITA-nominated contemporary single title novels.

Continue reading “Love for the downtrodden hero”