$1000 prize, author interview & book review, When Summer Comes, by Brenda Novak

ALERT: When Summer Comes is on sale for $1.99 (instead of $6.99) across all digital platforms for a limited time only. This is rare for a front-list book. Grab it.

PRIZE: Go to Brendanovak.com for a chance to win. Have some fun too, all you have to do to enter is answer the question: What would you do this summer if you thought it was your last? The winner will receive a $1000 travel voucher to ANYWHERE. Winner will be drawn on April 30th and notified by email on May 1st.

An interview with this New York TImes bestselling author follows the review.

She’s done it again. In this compelling and wonderful installment of the Whiskey Creek series, Levi, the hero, as a veteran of the war in Afghanistan, has unfortunate but realistic motivation for his conflicts. In fact, realism pervades Ms. Novak’s work and, along with naturalness, is one of my favorite things about her writing. It’s a connected series, meaning you get to know the characters and the town, but you don’t have to read them in order.

Since I don’t know how Brenda does her magic, I decided to ask her, and she agreed to answer some questions for this blog.

Before I get to this wonderful interview, I would like to state the obvious: I’m a huge fan of Brenda Novak. Obviously, of her writing, but also of her, as a person. I’ve had the privilege of meeting Brenda a few times, always when she was extending herself to help other writers or readers.

She is a generous person and one who makes a huge difference beyond her writing. Brenda used her success as an author to create, develop and nurture an online auction to fund diabetes research.

She started with an idea, did it, and, over the years has raised $1.6 million (so far!) to help improve the lives of people living with this disease.

How many people do you love have diabetes and how many people do you know have a loved one with this disease? I counted nine for myself, in less than a minute. I’m sure there are more in my life or one or two degrees of separation from me.

Research scientists have made some impressive progress on this disease. I have read about exciting breakthroughs in research, improvements in treatment and glimmers of hope on the horizon for a cure. None of that progress would have happened without funding.

Of course, other people have given generously to the auction, and it has grown so large Brenda has someone helping her with the administration now, but today I want to celebrate the person who not only writes wonderful, uplifting, entertaining books, but who also created this auction and keeps it going year after year.

So, let’s hear some from Brenda:

Brenda, the cover art on When Summer Comes is radiant. It reminds me of you! Were you happy with the cover?

Yes! Of the first three books in this series, this was definitely my favorite. When I look at the cover, I feel the warmth of the sun. I like that.

Can you tell us what inspired you to write this book?

I had a very close girlfriend go through something similar to the heroine of this book just after college. She was young, beautiful, healthy—and then diagnosed with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. We couldn’t believe it when we received the news that she would die without a transplant. She looked and acted as if she was fine. But slowly…the lack of a functioning liver started to take its toll. Luckily, my friend did receive a new liver (many thanks to the donor and the system that made this possible). It’s been ten years since then, and she’s just as beautiful now as she ever was—she’s also thriving, and that makes me so happy. I wanted to give Callie a wake-up call, something that would make her change her outlook on life and also be open to what she does for the hero.

Your natural style is my favorite thing about your books, well… besides how they always touch my heart. From listening to you in the past, I know that you are a “pantser” by which we Romance writers mean you “write by the seat of your pants” rather than “plotting” out every detail in advance. I think this adds to the appeal of your stories, because romance evolves naturally from the characters rather than feeling the author’s hand in the story. Did you ever try plotting everything, in the early days, or were you always a “pantser?”

Thank you! I did try plotting (or my version of it since I’m not even sure how). But I quickly ran into a debilitating problem. Trying to force the story in the direction I thought it should go resulted in a lack of emotional intensity. And if it was a suspense novel, I’d give away too much information (who the killer was, for instance). I guess, at heart, I’m a blabbermouth, because I couldn’t hold back. LOL So I finally realized I needed to let the characters speak for themselves and just go with it. I’m surprised that this method doesn’t require more re-writing than it does. I think my subconscious knows the end of the story before my conscious mind, and that helps direct me.

Brenda, you once told me the conflict is the engine that drives the book. When you come up with an idea for a book, do you think of the conflict first or do the conflicts come from the characters?

I definitely come up with the conflict first. The characters spin off of that (what kind of characters would be most interesting faced with such a problem—it’s usually someone who wouldn’t handle that problem well). And the plot grows out of the character. So it’s…one, two, three for me.

Those of us who participate in your auction know your youngest son, Thad, was diagnosed with Type I diabetes when he was five. When did you have the idea for the auction and what gave you the idea for this particular fund-raising method?

I had the idea for the auction about eighteen months after he was diagnosed. He’s had diabetes for eleven years. I’ve been doing the auction for nine of them. I was a young mother, with a young career and no resources. I was searching for a way to get involved and fight back. But I couldn’t come up with anything that was plausible for me—until I attended a silent auction at his school. Then, as I was standing there looking around, it occurred to me that there had to be an easier way to raise funds than to try and get everyone to come out to a physical location all at once (and to feed them all!). That’s when the light bulb went on and I realized that I could use my website as the destination for a fundraiser where people could shop at their leisure.

Does the auction only offer items interesting to writers?

The auction offers all kinds of items—trips & stays, jewelry, handmade items, autographed items, Coach purses, antique or retro items, etc.

You have raised $1.6 million so far. What is your goal this year?

We are hoping to break the $2 million mark!

How many people help you with the administration of the auction?

I just have one part-time assistant and two wonderful and dedicated volunteers.

Here’s where you can find Brenda, the auction, When Summer Comes and all of the Whiskey Creek series books:

http://brendanovak.auctionanything.com

www.brendanovak.com

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