Why did you choose to write in your particular field or genre?
I wanted to tell stories that everyone could relate to: I chose love stories because we all need to believe in a Happily Ever After, whether we find it in our personal relationships, or in another of our life’s passions.
Where did your love of books/storytelling/reading/writing/etc. come from?
As a child I read voraciously, and began to intuit dialogue and plot. I loved the magic of getting lost in a story, being transported to the emotional and sensory world the author created. I love words: nuances of expression, the breadth of vocabulary, the cadence of language, turns of expression, how subtle shifts could convey vasty different moods and meaning, in both literary description and nuance of dialogue. I’ve become pretty confident in my storytelling skills; I don’t have the command of language that true literary figures possess, but it’s something to aspire to!
How long have you been writing?
I started writing seriously in 2010; I’d been part of a writing group that got together once a month and worked from Natalie Goldberg’s “Writing the Bones” since about 2000. One of Natalie’s prompts is “mashed potatoes”. As I free associated garlic and roast-tipped, the butter-and-love, hand-whipped version my grandmother served came back to me. That’s the magic of words; transporting a reader viscerally to a place defined by specific sensation. I loved to craft witty reflective essays on personal interactions that made everyone’s sides split, and incorporate comedic elements in my novels. The “funniest” of my books are “Designs on Daphne” and my new release “New Year, Baby!”, but the character of Aunt Olivia offers comic relief in my debut novel, “Crashing Into Tess”. Tess was released in September 2013; I’ve written two more novels since, and eight novellas to date, with six more planned releases by June 2018.
What did you enjoy most about writing this book?
All of my work is personal in some way. “My Kinda Bull” pits Greenpeace activist Christina Rodriguez against petroleum engineer and geophysicist Heath McGreer. The passions that climate change precipitates served as an underlying external conflict between Chrissie and Heath, also an internal conflict for Heath. Heath understands in a nuanced way what the impacts are; he has guilt about his role in fossil fuel exploration, which Chrissie doesn’t at all expect in a guy who’s made a fortune in that field.
I once dated a geologist working in acid rain mitigation, introducing him to another geologist friend involved in petroleum exploration at a bar. I thought they would have geology in common, but they were on opposing sides, philosophically. Both had dedicated their life’s work to geology; the tension was palpable. Ironically, the first conflict in “My Kinda Bull” occurs outside a bar. Climate change would seem to be about very broad global policy, but I loved the very real way issues around climate change were interpersonal in Heath and Christina’s story, at first deeply divisive, then powerfully unifying.
“New Year, Baby!” was fun for different reasons; it’s another frenemies to lovers trope, but the underlying conflict is Mollie’s inability to trust. Set in Philadelphia, Derk, aka “Jerk Derek” remembers Mollie as a guileless, innocent University of Pennsylvania freshman, the girl he kissed on Boat House Row. That’s the girl Mollie still really wants to be, but life has been rough, shoving her in a completely different direction. With an overbearing mother, an overbearing ex-husband, and overbearing male work colleagues, Mollie’s on the verge of becoming bitter, and Derek has somehow become her target. Her feelings for him initially confuse her; she’s resentful of their shared past, bogged down by her own personal baggage: her parent’s untimely divorce, her father’s selfishness, her own divorce, precipitated by her ex’s selfishness, and the bitter custody feuds she finds herself in the midst of daily as a divorce attorney. She’s also drawn to Derek; admitting to herself that it feels like she hates him, yet she deeply admires his life’s work as a documentary filmmaker, forcing her to face her own personal conflict about her profession, which drives the inner shift she needs to see Derek as a prospective mate. “New Year, Baby!” is the launch of “Philadelphia Love!” a four novella holiday series with “Valentine, Baby!” coming Feb, 2017, “Sing It, Baby!” March 2017, and “Independence, Baby?” June 2017. The characters lives will overlap, as they do in my McGreers Series, because I love giving readers glimpses into past characters continuing lives. I love extending the character trajectory for each novel, into the overall series.
Are there underrepresented groups or ideas featured if your book? If so, discuss them.
The romance genre gives me a tiny soapbox, allowing me to incorporate real racial and socioeconomic tensions, as well as contemporary issues, into happily ever afters. It makes writing books, and the books themselves, more interesting, I think. The McGreer boys are all white alpha males; well endowed, well financed, noble, and easy to love. The hero of Loving Lulu (McGreers #5), Julio Rodriguez, faces very different challenges.Julio is the child of migrant laborers: his dad was deported when he was only six, his mom had already become a US citizen. He married young, quitting a promising career in professional baseball. Now, with two young children at home, his wife Luanne has become frustrated by her limited options, and wants to stretch her wings. The real financial pressures of being a ranch worker, instead of a ranch owner, are taking his toll on his marriage, compelling the reader to root for him even harder.
His sister Christina, the heroine of “My Kinda Bull”, channels her grief over her deported father, who she barely knows, into climate activism, by fighting the establishment. Christina and Julio’s mother, Angelica, is Ty McGreer’s housekeeper. Christina is a very driven achievers, academically and professionally, yet in some ways, she still feels less than. Torn by her mother’s disapproval of the match, she’s intimidated by Heath’s wealthy parents.
I flavor my books with contemporary political and social issues, which might make them a little bit edgier than typical romance genre flair. I launched my own publishing company, Libra Press, specifically because I didn’t want to force my themes into a publisher’s line restrictions.
What did you find most useful in learning to write? What was least useful or most destructive?
I’ve been fortunate in the high quality support and coaching I’ve received, which pushed me to read and study plot, turning points, beats and characterization.Jennifer Crusie’s blog, “Argh, Inc” has great writing analysis and plot structure commentary. Robert McGee’s ‘Story’, which I listen to while driving, illuminates “beats”. Understanding that each scene needs a turning point to drive the plot has helped me become a much better editor and tighten my craft. As a pantser, I thought of a scene shift as a setting shift. It took me the entire first act to understand character, I toiled through the second act, and the third act was torture. Understanding story mechanics has helped with story conception; I can now define key turning points from the outset, which drives scene formulation, tightens plot, and helps me write better stories faster, without angst, or having to wait for inspiration, or laborious editing and revisions. It also helps drive dialogue, choosing which point to feed back story and conflict to raise tension and reader interest. It’s been a labor of love; each story has taught me a craft and writing lesson as well. It’s the thrill of discovery in characterization, plot evolution, and process, that drives me to keep writing.
Once Upon a Schuylkill, there were magical, moonlit kisses. . . After years of friction, Philadelphia divorce attorney Pit Bull Mollie is out for blood, and Jerk Derek, a talented documentary filmmaker, still doesn’t know what he did wrong. A chance encounter on an overbooked flight leads to a showdown.
Why is Jerk Derek still trying to get it right? His attraction to petite, fiery Mollie must be some wierd kink! And what is it about Derek, anyway? He’s sexy, accomplished, kind…really not at all a jerk, so why can’t Mollie leave it alone? Old sparks kindle an explosive encounter, promising the New Year’s Eve of a lifetime!
New Year, Baby! Philadelphia Love #1
Also out now…
McGreers Series #8, My Kinda Bull
My Kinda Bull
Sassy Cowgirls snag Can’t Miss Cowboys. . Check out all the McGreers!
Lilly Christine’s debut novel, Crashing Into Tess, won TRW’s 2013 “Catherine Award”, was a 2014 finalist in DRW’s “Best First Book”, and “Best Contemporary” categories, and is the first in the popular McGreers Series. Lilly returns to her birthplace for the setting of “Philadelphia Love!” an exciting new urban rom-com Holiday Novella Series! In 2017, look for “Valentine, Baby!” “Sing It, Baby!” and “Independence, Baby?”
About Philadelphia Love Series . .
I first fell in love with Philadephia as a child. Born there, I remember learning to read via Sesame Street, playing in Fairmount Park and our cozy city-block stone house with the deep front porch. We moved to the country before I was five, but I could explore all the city had to offer on visits to grandparents and aunts. Wanamakers, City Hall, Independence Hall, Betsey Ross House, Ben Franklin Press, the Zoo and the Thanksgiving Parade were childhood delights. It’s been great fun to set my Philadelphia love series in that city. I hope you are transported. .
Lilly currently resides in Reno, Nevada. When not writing, she can be found walking her Daschahuahua rescue puppy on the Truckee River
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