My friend Margo Hoornstra is on a tour with her latest, a 3-book anthology. I prevailed on Margo to do an interview first so you could get to know her better.
Margo, tell us about yourself.
My personal history in a nutshell is pretty simple. I’m a wife to one; mother to four—seven if you count in-law children which I do—and grandmother to four so far. My work experience includes public relations specialist, magazine editor, television producer, and script and speech writer. I’m also a founding member of Mid-Michigan Romance Writers of America. Besides my family and writing, I enjoy walking and hiking, especially in the Spring and Fall, hate to cook and love to read.
Where can readers find you?
Oh my goodness. Thanks to Florence Price with Novel Assistance, I’m all over the place on the internet. Here’s where:
Amazon Author Page:
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
Many who know me have heard this story before. It wasn’t so much that I realized I wanted to be a writer. Writing was what you could term the family business. My dad supported us with his writing. Novelists, children’s book authors, script writers, newspaper reporters all were a part of my life as I was growing up. At one point, my father wrote scripts for a Detroit based radio show titled Manhunt the forerunner of the popular Dragnet television series. One neighbor wrote a couple of books that were turned into motion pictures. Someday, I thought, when I receive the proper training, I’ll write a book too. Ha! Little did I know that’s not exactly how it goes.
Where do you get your information or ideas for your books?
I wish I knew, then I’d go there more often. Seriously though, there are tons and tons of places where ideas come from. A sentence on the news pages of the internet, people observed at a restaurant, or in the park. The beginning of the idea for my current series in progress, Blood Brothers In Blue, came from my husband. I had another premise for books I was working on and getting nowhere when I plopped down in the living room, discouraged, and asked him to brainstorm with me. He ended up doing most of the talking – and I was off!
What do you like to do when you're not writing?
The time when I’m not writing, fortunately or not, seems to be growing smaller and smaller. Though we are empty nesters now, our kids and grandkids all live nearby – again fortunately or unfortunately – just kidding! We’re busy with their activities, band concerts, little league games and such. Plus my husband and I try to walk three or four miles a day. Spend quiet time together. I guess you could say the usual. What most everyone does day to day.
What do you think makes a good story?
That sometimes depends on who the writer is. Some authors can go into minute detail about the setting with minimal attention paid to the inner workings of their characters and produce a riveting story. Other authors can take emotional hold of their characters and explore every facet of their personalities ad nauseum and do the same thing. Strong, what I call, word pictures are a must to draw in the reader. Give them a stake in the project. Other than that, stories are simply a series of compelling problems that need to reach satisfying conclusions. As long as a story does that, it should be good, right?
What did you learn from writing your first book?
Where do I start? I learned so much over the years. My first, first book, by the way, was a 300 page gothic that never will, and never should, see the light of day. My first book that I sold to an actual publisher would have absolutely gone that same never, never route if not for a wise and talented editor. She taught me to complete my story arcs. It’s like Chekhov’s gun. Loosely put, ‘If a gun appears in the first chapter, it darned well better go off by the last.’ Only things relevant to the story need to stay in the story. The rest is expendable. This editor also made me, MADE ME rewrite the ending three times. The first time, she said I took the easy way out, and she was right. She also had me rewrite the Big Black Moment scene from the heroine’s point of view to the hero’s. Though I balked at first – heck, I darn near stamped my foot and refused - her suggestion did make for a much stronger scene.
Are your stories driven by plot or character?
Definitely character, to the sometimes consternation of my critique partner. She by the way, writes more plot driven stories. Though I am a true pantser (no outline, minimal plot structure) when writing my books, I do at times enjoy filling out broad character sheets. It’s amazing some of things I’ll discover about these people who have popped into my head. Sometimes, when I’m stuck in a story somewhere I’ll start writing out questions to the character. Why are you doing this? What in the world do you hope to gain? Surprisingly the answer almost always comes through to me. Pretty quickly, too. Sometimes it’s surprising, sometimes it’s an ‘of course’ kind of moment.
How do you balance a life outside of writing with deadlines and writing muses?
Life is life and my writing is my writing. Even before I came to this place in my life where I am able to devote more of my time and myself to the writing I want to do, I was a writer in what is called my day job. (Former day job, in my case.) As a magazine editor, deadlines were a daily way of life. The talking heads television show I wrote scripts for started out as a live broadcast. There is no – I don’t have time for this right now when you’re dealing with live TV. There isn’t usually the pressure for me these days than there was then, but like most of the working writers I know, I still challenge myself to produce on a regular basis.
What are some jobs you've done that would end up in a book?
One of my jobs actually did end up in a book, sort of. Jake Holbrook, the hero of One Fateful Friday, that is the last story in Saturday In Serendipity, is the administrator of a large hospital. While that wasn’t the particular job I had, for many years I was executive director of a local medical society (think local branch of the American Medical Association). While my job was representing doctors per se, much of my time was spent working liaison with hospitals, legislators and the like. That part of my job, if you will, provided a real behind the scenes look into how our health care system works, beyond the obvious of making sick people well.
What do you hope readers take with them after reading your work?
Like many romance authors, I get my share of comments about how I write ‘bodice rippers’, adult only stories that focus on sex and little else. In my case, this is so untrue. But, also clues me in to the fact that whoever is making those comments has no idea what my work is about. Further up in this interview I mentioned being a character driven author. Many of my books go above and beyond the relationship between the hero and heroine. For instance, one of my heroines overcame sexual abuse for her HEA. In another book, my hero, a sitting judge, suffered from PTSD. Other issues I’ve dealt with are adoption, infertility, domestic violence. That kind of thing. Human issues, and the emotions along with the triumphs that go with them.
Genre: Contemporary Romance – Anthology
Release Date: August 11, 2014
Length: 427 PagesBuy link: http://amzn.com/B00MNNW3ZC
Three Strikes Thursday
Barry Carlson, a pro baseball success, could have any woman he wanted. Except one. Twenty years before, Barry won Amanda Marsh’s love, only to crush her heart. He’s returned to Serendipity, determined to win her back. Recently divorced, Amanda is happy—until Barry slides back into her life. Can they put aside old wounds and new misunderstandings to find a forever love?
Two On Tuesday
Blane Weston’s construction company needs the venture capital Matt Durand has. With his reputation for hostile takeovers, she wants no part of him. Mixing business with pleasure, she’s off to Serendipity to hook up with a former flame. Not used to being denied, Matt follows. How can Blane enjoy a journey to her past when Matt is determined to dictate her future?
One Fateful Friday
His high school reunion in Serendipity over, hospital CEO Jake Holbrook regrets his single state. When a special woman from his past tumbles back into his life—and his bed—he’s determined to keep her there. Family practitioner Bethany Thomas avoids an entanglement with her new boss, but unknowingly betrays him. As the holidays approach, can they overcome a lack of trust to find their Christmas miracle?
Get ready for three terrific stories of unexpected love. Whether it’s a second chance or a first meeting, love has a way of finding three couples. For Barry and Amanda, Blane and Matt, and Jake and Bethy, their twenty-year reunion brings about good fortune. But the road to happy-ever-after is never easy for Margo Hoornstra’s characters. Because of her skillful writing, the reader feels the joy of exploring new love and the agony of crushing disappointment before that ahh moment of resolution. Her likeable characters have depth, and the excellent plotting makes Saturday in Serendipity an enjoyable read.