::::We are giving away a autographed paperback copy of BET YOU’LL MARRY ME in a drawing for those who leave a comment. Make sure to leave your email addy or check back to see that you’ve won later this month:::
I am so glad you could join us here at RomanceJunkies. To start, will you please tell us a little bit about your current projects?
Darlene: Thank you so much for inviting me! It’s great to be here. I write sweet, fun-loving romance with lots of humor, exciting adventures, and fun banter between my characters. I just published my first full length novel, BET YOU’LL MARRY ME, with Avon Impulse. This is the expanded version of the novella, THE BET, which was published in Debbie Macomber’s, FAMILY AFFAIR. Feisty Jenny O’Brien is determined to keep her horse ranch and devious Nick Chandler is trying everything he can to take it away from her, including issuing her a ten thousand dollar bet she will marry him by her bank deadline.
I also just finished writing a 3 set of novella’s for Avon titled THE CUPCAKE DIARIES which releases in May. This series features 3 young women who open a cupcake shop in Astoria, Oregon and find themselves fighting against crazed anti-cupcake Zumba dancers, a rival French bakery chef, and a Cupcake Bandit who steals their cupcakes. In the midst of all the chaos there are poignant moments with family and the excitement of falling in love as they meet the men who help them each pursue their dream.
When was the moment that you knew you had to be a writer?
Darlene: I’ve been writing ever since I could hold a piece of chalk and always dreamed of being a published author. I was encouraged to dream when my 5th grade teacher handed out creative writing booklets with beautiful color photos and writing prompts. Then in eighth grade I discovered a friend penning a romance novel in a notebook and thought , “Hey, how cool is that? I’d like to do that, too.” I always dreamed of being a published author and wrote year after year, took classes, went to conferences, pitched to publishing houses. But the exact moment I knew I HAD to be a writer was only a year and a half ago when I hit a “black hole” in my life and realized I needed to write to keep my sanity. Four months later I won the Debbie Macomber/Avon books “Make Your Dreams Come True Contest” and got my book published with Debbie’s. It’s been an exciting ride ever since!
Every writer dreams of getting “the call”. What were you doing when yours came? Who got to hear the good news first?
Darlene: The night before “the call” I received a message on my answering machine from Lucia Macro of Avon Impulse congratulating me on being a finalist in the Debbie Macomber/Avon Books “Make Your Dreams Come True Contest.” The winner who would have their novella published with Debbie was to be announced the next day. So I couldn’t sleep that night and the next morning kept my eye on the internet and my ear straining for the phone hoping for “the call.” But the call never came and the announcement hour passed, so I figured I didn’t win. But the contest results had been delayed and a couple hours later my daughter texted from her class at school and told me she found a website listing the winners and I won! I called Lucia Macro at Avon to verify the information and then screamed with excitement and told my husband, sons, critique group and everyone else I knew. Two weeks later, Lucia called to offer me an additional contract for the full manuscript re-titled, BET YOU’LL MARRY ME.
Who gave you the one piece of writing advice that sticks with you to this day?
Darlene: Multi-published author, Jane Porter, gave a speech at a conference that moved the entire room. She said that each of us has a core story within us that can help others if we write from our heart. Our stories matter. This has helped me continue on despite difficult circumstances because I pray that I’m not just writing for me, but writing to make a difference for others.
Describe the “perfect” hero. What about the “perfect” hero for you?
Darlene: As an author I give my hero’s qualities I am attracted to. I like my hero’s to be tall, handsome, confident, intelligent, perceptive, someone the heroine can talk to and who is able to lead and protect if needed. But he’s also a whole lot of fun, a little devious, full of surprises, and fights passionately for what he wants and believes in.
What are some of your favorite pastimes? Do you have any hobbies or collections?
Darlene: I love camping, hiking, and photography day trips. I also love crafts, my two horses, and have an extensive Lord of the Rings figurine collection.
What has been your biggest adventure to date?
Darlene: Traveling by car cross-country with 3 little kids for two weeks and visiting countless landmarks.
If your fairy godmother waved her wand and whisked you away to the location of your choice, which place would you choose, and why?
Darlene: Hawaii. I have never been and I want to go someplace warm, sunny, with tropical blue waters. I live in the Northwest and it’s been too cold and rainy the last couple of years.
When it comes to food, are you the adventurous type who will try anything once, or do you prefer to stick to tried and true foods and recipes?
Darlene: Depends who’s paying. If it’s free I’ll try it. If not, I’ll order something tried and true. I don’t get out often and want to enjoy it!
What is this romance writer’s idea of the “ideal romantic evening”?
Darlene: I like to be surprised. Being with the one you love in a unique locale with intimacy, good food, and a bottle of wine. Other than being alone with your “hero,” the romance is in the details. The details tell how well your partner both loves and knows you. So even if it’s an evening spent in your backyard, the candles should be lit and the blanket ready to gaze up at all the stars.
How do you describe yourself? How would your family and friends describe you?
Darlene: I would describe myself as a dreamer, always making big plans for fun & adventure, my writing, helping others, and the future. My family and friends call me creative and… the ditzy blonde who always brings the good food to the parties!
And lastly, no interview of a writer would be complete without this question: what is your favorite comfort food? I’d have to say popcorn and M&M’s – together.
What is your favorite season? What do you love about it?
Darlene: I love the fall. The crisp invigorating air and the colorful yellow, orange, red leaves scattered all over the ground. The hayride to the pumpkin patch to pick out the perfect pumpkin.
What is the one modern convenience that you cannot do without?
Darlene: Hot water for my shower. We were out of power for 9 days once and I do a lot of camping but if all the world came into chaos and there was no longer any electricity the one thing I would miss most is definitely a hot shower.
What project are you working on next?
Darlene: I hope to work on a Christmas Special Edition novella to the CUPCAKE DIARIES and continue the small town ranch series started with BET YOU’LL MARRY ME.
Any place we can find you in person or on the net this month or next?
When tall, handsome out-of-towner Nick Chandler first sets eyes on Jenny O’Brien, she’s storming into the Bets & Burgers Café, wielding a broom and threatening the safety of every man in sight. Hey, he figures, she’s got the right to be annoyed—the whole town seems to be laying bets on Jenny’s future.
Nick’s annoyed as well. He didn’t think he’d have to propose to romance the land away from her, but to save his sister and his ill-fated business, he jumps into the fray and bets $10,000 that Jenny will marry him.
Now the only thing stopping him from seizing her land . . . may be his own heart.
About the author:
Darlene Panzera graduated from the Writer’s Digest Advanced Novel Writing School and The Christian Writers’ Guild apprentice writing program, and spent six years trying to get her manuscripts published. “The dream to be a published author has been there inside me for a lifetime. When I found out I won Debbie Macomber’s “Make Your Dreams Come True” contest I couldn’t believe it. I still can’t!” Panzera will admit, like most aspiring authors, that her family has had more than their share of burnt dinners while she struggled to find the right words to put on paper. But, like Macomber, Panzera takes faith in hard work and perseverance. “If you work hard to improve your craft, connect with other writers, and believe in yourself, dreams can come true.”
The author has just signed on to write “The Cupcake Diaries,” a series of sweet, heartwarming romance novels for Avon Impulse, starting withSweet on You (on-sale 5/7/13); Recipe for Love (on-sale 5/14/13) and Taste of Romance (on-sale 5/21/13).
For more information about Darlene Panzera, please visit her website,www.darlenepanzera.com.
•BET YOU’LL MARRY ME•Darlene Panzera•Avon Impulse•On-Sale 12/4/12•e-ISBN 9780062203694•$2.99•