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Welcome, Heather Lin, author of the contemporary romance novella Westridge. Let's get to know Heather better!

I've been writing since I could pick up a pencil, but in 2008 I decided to focus on two genres: romance and erotica. My short stories can be found at TheEroticWoman.com and in two Coming Together e-book anthologies. My own e-books have been published by New Concepts Publishing and Silver Publishing (now defunct), and I've also had a short story included in Rachel Kramer Bussel's anthology Gotta Have It: 69 Stories of Sudden Sex.

Heather has written a small town contemporary romance, Westridge. Here's an intriguing blurb:

Gabby Jones and Jason Dawson were born only months apart in the small town of Westridge. For the next eighteen years, they were inseparable, but after their high school graduation, Gabby got on a bus to the city, leaving Jason with a weak explanation and a broken heart. After five years of making it a point to avoid her old flame, Gabby comes home for a funeral and thanks to meddling parents and circumstance, she and Jason are thrown together again.

But now Jason is an auto mechanic with an ex-wife and a daughter, and Gabby owns a successful flower shop in the city. Even if Gabby is able to admit she still loves Jason, and even if Jason is able to convince her to tell him the real reason she left, will they be able to get past the changes and broken pieces in time to start over?

What jumped out at me in Westridge is the eye-catching formatting. How did this style come about?

My mother suggested the flashback scenes. I originally had the novella written without them, but thanks to her I realized I was missing out on a great opportunity to show rather than tell. It added so much to the story. Mother knows best, right? ;)

Those Moms! Yours has great taste. You have some great lines: If that goodbye had been painful, this one would be excruciating. People drift apart. It happens. Maybe she wasn’t that great at fooling herself after all. She felt suddenly as though her heart was a safe and she’d accidentally entered its combination in front of a passerby. That was exactly what she’d wanted to hear and exactly what she hoped he’d never tell her. Mom, this isn’t the fifties. Nobody does that. What good is a candy dish with no candy? The leaver had no right to be as hurt as the one who’d been hurt. It was amazing how easy it was for him. She’d never gotten used to the thick, man-made scent of the city. Tragedy was no reason to stand in the way of God’s plan. I know it’s hard, but why does everything have to be easy? Different doesn’t mean everything is ruined. They were a man and a woman who had lost each other and found each other again.”

Many of the lines I quoted come from the hearts and the depths of your characters. How did you reach that place?

I think every author puts a little of him/herself into their stories, and of everything I’ve written, Westridge is probably closest to my heart. I wrote it just after my great aunt passed away, as I was packing up to move in with my now-husband, right before I graduated from college. I wrote Westridge to help me cope with all the change and also to preserve some of my favorite childhood memories. It wasn’t very hard to get into the headspace of a young woman from a small town who’s struggling to accept change and find her place in the world. Gabby is learning, just as I had to, that change is a part of life, true love is unconditional, and you can always go home.

Many times, I’ve channeled difficult moments into stories, too. That’s where journaling comes in handy and is very cathartic.

Your characters fell in love very young. Did you do research on teen marriage? 

No, I just listened to a lot of country music! Haha. Mary’s Song by Taylor Swift, She’s in Love with the Boy by Trisha Yearwood, Love, Me by Collin Raye, Check Yes or No by George Strait, Don’t Take the Girl by Tim McGraw… I find the idea of that kind of constant, almost pre-destined love intensely romantic.

And, of course, I had my own sweethearts growing up. There was a little boy I ran around with from the time I was four until I moved away at eight. He was my first kiss. Then there was a boy I completely fell for at fourteen, and we had this weird sort of off and on non-relationship all through high school. Sometimes, the “what if” game manages to turn into something productive—like a story! I also met my husband when I was seventeen. I think that if you know what you want in life, true love at a young age is very possible.

I had no idea country western music worked that way. lolol I’m such a classic rock n’ roller.

And your hero is an auto mechanic. Why that profession?

Another childhood memory. The mechanic my family used was just about the nicest man I’ve ever known. He was my grandparents’ mechanic, my parents’ mechanic, and then my mechanic. He was a nice, slow-talking, small-town father and grandfather who treated his customers like family. Once, my mom’s car started acting up while we were shopping in town, and he lent us his truck so we could go home and get the other car. He found my brother and I our first cars, he and my mother exchanged baked goods at Christmas time, and he always had time to chat about family or the weather or whatever. When I think of things I love about the town I grew up in, he’s at the top my list. He had to be included in Westridge somehow.  

He passed away about a month ago, so now I’m even more glad I made Jason’s profession what it is, in his honor.

What a wonderful tribute to a wonderful man. Guys like him are real American heroes. Well done!

Your heroine owns a flower shop.  Do you have a background in the floral business?

No, I don’t, but I have a good imagination. ;) And Google.

<giggle>

How did you get from a nanny career to writing?

Quite honestly, writing has probably been the most consistent thing in my life. I’ve been doing it ever since I can remember. My mother still has a copy of this completely unintelligible story I wrote when I was about six. It was called My New Bike. Because I’d just gotten a new bike… Haha. I majored in English Literary Studies in college, worked at a library during college, and worked at a bookstore after college. My dream is to write and be a mom, and at the moment, I’m writing and working as a nanny. So I’m just about where I want to be in life.

Early on in the book, we see Gabby loves grilled cheese sandwiches. Do you? LOL

Are there people who don’t?? Yes, definitely. Grilled cheese and tomato soup are staples in my diet. And I’ve recently figured out how to make the best tomato basil bisque. Can I throw a recipe in here?

1 can Campbell’s condensed tomato soup
1 can whole milk
1 can diced tomatoes
1 tablespoon dried basil
1 pinch garlic salt
Handful of shredded cheddar cheese
Salt & pepper to taste

That cheddar cheese makes all the difference!

I love tomato bisque and shall be copying and pasting this recipe right now. As for grilled cheese, not always been my favorite, but my boys adore it and sometimes, it’s all about pleasing the guys.

Now, down to the nitty gritty of writing. What is the hardest part --drafting, editing, research, or marketing? Why?

This is a great question! And a hard one. Each step comes with its own challenges, but I guess I’d have to say marketing. It’s hard to tell what promotional opportunities/techniques actually work, and I’m, of course, more interested in the creative side of things than the business side.

Every single interview I’ve done has said what you’ve said about marketing. Sigh. I wish there was a better answer for us writers.

What is your newest project? Anything else you want to share?

I originally intended for Westridge to be a trilogy, and I’m excited to announce that, this time around, it’s happening! Rosa’s Story will be released at the end of August (this month!) and Caitlin’s Story will be released in late October/early September. Gabby and Jason, of course, make appearances and both novellas are touching, sensual romances in their own right.

That’s excellent news! Congratulations!!!  Let's do a speed round:

Favorite color: Blue
Favorite drink: Caramel frappuccino (with all the fat!)
Favorite movie: Oh, no! Tough one. Probably Love, Actually. (ME, Too!!! Don’t ‘cha just dig the ol’ rock n roller?)
Favorite accessory: My iPad. Does that count? Haha. I just got it a few months ago and I’m obsessed. Works for me, especially if it’s in a cool handbag!

Thank you, Heather, for being with Coffeetime Romance and me. I wish you much success.

Thank you! It’s been fun!

Find Heather at:

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Find Westridge at Amazon

 

 

 

 

 

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