Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Interview with Lisa Mondello, Author of The Wedding Dress

What made you decide to be an author? I didn’t decide.  I just always wrote stories ever since I was a little girl.  I love stories.  So I prefer to say that my love of stories decided for me.
What do you like best about being a writer? What do you like the least? I love being a full time writer and being able to hang out with imaginary people all day and see into their worlds.  It’s a lot of fun.  In that way, I never grew up. I’m still hanging with my imaginary friends.  But the downside is that I do get so entangled in a story that I can sometimes get lost in it.  I still have to be a mom and a wife and make dinner and clean and occasionally do laundry.  So things tend to pile up here when I’m in the middle of writing a book.  Luckily for me, I have a very supportive family and they understand.
How do you think your life experiences have prepared you for writing? Everyone struggles with something.  Storytellers still feel the pain of loss from death, divorce, job loss, money troubles, family issues and the like.  Sometimes those things make it hard to write.  But for me it gives me a way to escape for just a little while, just like it does for readers who are going through difficult times.
Have you ever felt as if you were being dictated to while you wrote a book--as if the words came of their own accord? If yes, which book did that happen with? That happens with just about every book! LOL  I may think I know where I’m going with a story, but sometimes my characters bring me in a direction that I never expected.  You’d think the author knows the story before he/she writes it.  Not always true.  I’ve had gasp moments while I was writing as a scene unfolds in front of me.  Two stories in particular come to mind.  When I was writing Her Heart for the Asking, book 1 of the Texas Hearts series, there was a scene where the heroine and hero were talking about the rift between the hero and the hero’s father.  The words were coming out so fast that my heart was pounding and I was seeing the story unfold right before my eyes and I couldn’t wait to see  what the hero would reveal. BTW, Her Heart for the Asking is currently free so if you haven’t read any of the Texas Hearts books, do pick that up.  In Wild Dakota Heart, book 4 of the Dakota Hearts series, I had thought that I knew the motivation behind the hero’s actions.  It wasn’t until I was writing a particularly pivotal scene that I realized I had it wrong!  The motivation was so much deeper.  I love moments like that when the story takes over any plans I had for it. 
You’ve written 31 novels and are working on a 32nd novel. What’s your favorite time management tip? Time takes over for me.  I am very comfortable working at home and writing so I don’t have a problem fitting things in.  My problem is I can spend too much time at the computer and then end up with back pain.  I try to write every day, but I don’t always do that.  Sometimes the bulk of my day is writing blogs or doing marketing. 
Are you a plotter or a pantser, i.e., do you outline your books ahead of time or are you an “organic” writer? I’m neither.  I’m a puzzle writer.  In fact I’ve done a workshop several times on the 4 types of writers, Linear, Plotter, Pantser and Puzzler.  I write completely out of order.  I have an idea of the story and sometimes fill in a 3 ACT outline.  But that outline is always full of holes until I finish the story. I fill in the blanks as I go.  I know some writers, particularly linear writers, can’t understand how a writer can write out of order.  But it’s the way my mind works.  I scene whole scenes and write those and then I piece them together like a puzzle.
If you had one take away piece of advice for authors, what would it be? Keep writing.  If you love writing, that’s easy.  I’ve never understood the idea that writing is painful.  It’s not for me.  I love it.  What’s painful is the process of getting published.  And for that I say, don’t give up.
Did music help you find your muse with this book? If yes, which song did you find yourself going back to over and over again as you wrote? Music always plays a part of my stories.  I have sound tracks for just about all my books and I have music on in my office pretty much all the time.  With The Wedding Dress, I listened to Kiss from a Rose by Seal quite a bit.  I also loved listening to She by Elvis Costello.

Ten years ago, Hannah Ward thought she’d found the perfect wedding dress to wear when she and her childhood sweetheart, Dane Bancroft, decided to elope right after graduation.  
But instead of walking down the aisle like she dreamed of, she was not only outbid on the wedding dress at the auction by an old billionaire who didn’t need the wedding dress like she did, but she never ended up getting married. Needing to escape Dane after the break-up, she enlisted in the military and left Liberty, Texas behind.  
But now she’s back, and not only does she have to face Dane, the deputy sheriff in town, but she’s just been willed the very wedding dress that was supposed to be the beginning of her and Dane’s happy life together.  
Can they both get a second chance so she can finally wear the wedding dress of her dreams and marry the only man she’s ever really loved? 
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It was just a box with fabric inside.
Hannah gazed at the white box that had come with the letter with longing for time that has long since passed her by.  Although she’d stared at the dress in the auction catalogue for hours before deciding to drive to San Antonio more than ten years ago, she’d only seen that wedding dress up close for just a few minutes before it had been snatched away from her by the higher bidder. 
She was a smart women.  She didn’t need the dress.  Or the memories that were now tumbling through her mind.  Good and bad, they were all there together.  The wedding dress had been the start of it all.  And the end.
Sighing, she got up from the bed and walked over to the box that sat like a tangled blanket at the foot of the bed after a rough night of sleep.  The wide white organza ribbon was tied tightly around the box to keep it secure and then knotted into a pretty bow on top.  With a quick tug of the organza, the ribbon untied and fell to each side of the box. 
Her heart pounded as her fingers felt for the edges of the box.  She didn’t want to see the dress.  Not really.  Why was she doing this?  She should just put it in her car and drive right over to the consignment shop in the next town and let someone else buy the dress for their wedding.  Get rid of it.  Get rid of the memory.
She lifted the top of the box off and placed it carefully on the bed next to the box.  Pink and white tissue paper covered the contents, keeping her from seeing inside.
“Ugh.  For an army soldier who has spent the last eight years in combat boots and fatigues, you’re being a wimp, Hannah.”
She reached for the tissue paper, then quickly stopped and looked at her hands, turning them over.  Most days her hands were covered with grease and oil from working on a plane engine.  Today her hands were clean.  Even her fingernails showed the white half-moon nails that were clean.
Hannah held her breath as she pushed aside the tissue paper and had her first glimpse of the dress.  A lump lodged in her throat as she thought of the day of the auction.  This was supposed to be her wedding dress.  If she’d married Dane all those years ago, she would have worn this dress.  Who knew what their lives would be like now.
Taking a deep breath, she slipped out of her T-shirt, unbuttoned her cut off shorts and let them drop to the floor.  She carefully lifted the sleeveless dress out of the box, holding it by the shoulders and let the fabric drop to the floor.  There were a million buttons in the back and she knew she’d have a hard time fastening them all.  But she had to see what she looked like in the dress.  It took a while, but when the last button was fastened, she walked across the room to the mirror and looked at her reflection.
“This never would have fit me like this ten years ago,” Hannah said, staring at herself in the standing mirror.  But now, it fit perfect.  It was as if she needed to grow out of the young girl’s body and become the woman she was now in order for it to fit.
Tears filled her eyes but she refused to let them fall.  Reaching behind her to undo the first button, she muttered, “It would have been nice.” 
A gust of breeze came in through the open window.   Along with it, Hannah heard the sound of male voices talking.  Jackson had gone out for a ride earlier with Cole.  There were other ranch hands here now. 
Her stomach dropped.  It wasn’t just Cole or Jackson.  If she lived a thousand years, Hannah would always recognize the deep timber of Dane Bancroft’s voice.
Still wearing the dress, Hannah rushed to the window and pulled back the curtain just enough to see outside.  She groaned.
“You would have to show up today.  Of all days,” Hannah muttered to herself as her heart pounded in her chest.  She gazed down from the window to the dirt driveway below.  Dane Bancroft stood next to Jackson, talking about something interesting that made them both laugh. 
He was as tall as Jackson, but he wasn’t the straight up and down young man she remembered.  His police uniform did little to show off the muscles she knew were under his shirt.
Just when she thought she couldn’t take anymore, Dane lifted his face up in the direction of the window.  Their eyes locked for a brief moment.  It took a few seconds, but then he smiled, making Hannah’s heart remember what it was like to be close to him.  She actually sighed.
Damn him.
New York Times and USA TODAY Bestselling Author, Lisa Mondello, has held many jobs in her life but being a published author is the last job she'll ever have. She's not retiring! She blames the creation of the personal computer for her leap into writing novels. Otherwise, she'd still be penning stories with paper and pen. Her book The Knight and Maggie's Baby is a New York Times Bestseller. Her popular series includes TEXAS HEARTS, DAKOTA HEARTS, Fate with a Helping Hand and the new SUMMER HOUSE series. Writing as LA Mondello, her romantic suspense, MATERIAL WITNESS, book 1 of her Heroes of Providence series made the USA TODAY Bestsellers List and was named one of Kirkus Reviews Best Books of 2012. You can find more information about Lisa Mondello at lisamondello.blogspot.com and sign up for her newsletter to receive new release information at http://eepurl.com/xhxO5

More stories in The Inheritance Collection: http://www.theinheritanceseries.com
Blog: http://texasheartsromance.blogspot.com
Twitter: @LisaMondello

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