Thursday, November 15, 2018

Interview with Women's Fiction Author Sheila Roberts

USA Today best-selling author Sheila Roberts has seen over fifty books, both fiction and non-fiction in print. Her novels have appeared in many different languages and been made into movies for both the Lifetime and Hallmark Channels. She writes about things near and dear to women’s hearts – love, friendship, family and chocolate.
Her latest book is the women’s fiction, Winter at the Beach.


Jenna Jones, manager of the Driftwood Inn, a vintage motel in the Washington beach town of Moonlight Harbor, is convinced that a winter festival would be a great way to draw visitors (and
tourist business) to town during those off-season months. Everyone in the local chamber of commerce is on board with her Seaside with Santa festival idea except one naysayer, local sour lemon, Susan Frank, who owns a women’s clothing boutique in town. The beach gets hit with storms in the winter, no one will come, too close to Christmas. Blah, blah. What does Susan know?

It turns out that Susan knows a lot. A big storm hits during the weekend of the festival, wreaking havoc with the parade and producing power outages all over town. Including at the Driftwood Inn.

Jenna finds herself with a motel filled with people, all with no power. What to do? Enlist the help of friends, of course. Her friends take in many of the stranded visitors, and Jenna and her Aunt Edie take in the others, stuffing them into Aunt Edie’s house next door to the Driftwood.

All the guests come with their own unique stories. The last thing Taylor Marsh wanted was a getaway with her husband. His refusal to give up on his dying business is taking them down financially and killing their marriage. But her sister Sarah (she who has her financial act together and never lets her sister forget it) insists this will be fun for both their families. It will only be fun for Taylor if her husband gets eaten by a giant squid. Then there’s Darrel Wilson, who planned the perfect anniversary getaway for his wife, who’s been undergoing chemo. So much for the perfect anniversary. And the sisters, Lisa and Karen, who can’t seem to go on a sister outing without it turning into a Lucy and Ethel adventure. Unlikely roommates, all of them. But perhaps each one has a valuable lesson to share with the others. And perhaps, what looked like a disaster will prove to be the best holiday adventure of all. 



Thanks for this interview, Sheila. Congratulations on your new book! Would you say it’s been a rocky road for you in regards to getting your book written and published or pretty much smooth sailing?  Can you tell us about your journey?

I’ve been on this publishing road for so many years that I think I’ve pretty much already tripped over most of the rocks. This particular book was a pleasant journey and I enjoyed the whole process – the writing, the edits, working with my editor on back cover copy and seeing my gorgeous cover. There are a lot of ups and downs in this business (and believe me, I’ve had my share), so it’s good to enjoy the fun when you’re in an up phase.

If you were to pen your own autobiography, what might the title be?

It’s a Wonderful Life (Sorry, Frank Capra, you can’t copyright a title.)

When not writing, what do you like to do for relaxation and/or fun?

I am big on fun. I line dance, drag my husband out dancing once a week, play tennis, read, have girlfriend parties, play a ton of games (Charades, anyone?), and gorge myself on episodes of House Hunters International.

What makes your book stand out from the rest?

That’s a hard question to answer. There are so many wonderful authors putting books on the shelves. So, why should a reader part with her hard earned dollars for one of mine? For the fun of it. I love books that incorporate humor and I try to do that in mine. I’m big on encouragement and happy endings, so even though my characters may struggle, they always find their way to a good place by the end of the book. And recipes. This book has some yummy ones and I spent a lot of time wiping drool off my chin as I typed.

Can you give us the very first page of your book so that we can get a glimpse inside?
Life at the beach was good. It was even better when you ran a motel and had people staying in it.
Lately life at the beach hadn’t been quite so good for Jenna Jones, manager of the Driftwood Inn in the beach town of Moonlight Harbor, Washington. Her great-aunt, Edie Patterson, the current owner, had offered Jenna both a home with her and a job after her divorce. Jenna had been grateful for the new start and Aunt Edie had been grateful for the help as the place had fallen into disrepair after the death of her husband, Ralph. Jenna would eventually inherit the motel, which offered her financial security.
It had been a win-win deal, and Jenna had whipped the place into shape, decorating on a shoestring, giving the rooms a different theme, depending on what color bargain carpet and what kind of thrift store décor she’d been able to find. The Driftwood Inn was now, if she did say so herself, a charming beach retreat. But she needed more heads in beds.
After Labor Day, when summer fun ended and families got busy with school and football season, reservations became scarce. Now, in October, well, if you were looking for a cute vintage motel to stay in, the Drift- wood Inn had plenty of vacancies.

If your book was put in the holiday section of the store, what holiday would that be and why?

Christmas. It’s my favorite holiday, and almost every year I try to bring out a Christmas tale. This book starts a little before and extends a little beyond, but there’s still plenty of holiday fun in it, including Jenna’s Seaside with Santa festival… which is going to turn out to be something that Santa and anyone with a brain will want to avoid.

Would you consider turning your book into a series or has that already been done?

This is the second book in the Moonlight Harbor series. The first book was Welcome to Moonlight Harbor.

When you were young, did you ever see writing as a career or full-time profession?

No. I wrote stories and made “books” when I was a kid (usually about horses since I was horse mad at the time). Took a ton of lit and writing classes in college and sold some articles when I was a newlywed but I never really saw myself as a published author. I wanted to be a songwriter. Funny how, sometimes, what you want isn’t what you’re supposed to be doing.

Did any of your books get rejected by publishers?

My very first book never saw the light of day, but my second, which I wrote on a fluke, did get published. Of course, I had my share of frustration after that. I’ve crashed my writing career twice and had to reinvent myself. But I’ve always kept on going because I love to tell stories.

What is your view on co-authoring books; have you done any?

If you find a good working partnership then I say go for it. I’m about to try and co-write a book with my husband. Hopefully, we’ll still be speaking to each other by the time we’re done.

What’s next for you?

This spring The Beach Retreat will hit the shelves. And little Sheila will hit the beach. Unless, of course, Dancing with the Stars calls. J

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