Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Twenty Questions with Ami Weaver, Your Favorite (or soon to be favorite!) Author . . .

I don’t read a lot of series contemporary romance so I’m very particular when I curl up with my cat and Kindle. I picked up Ami Weaver’s debut romance An Accidental Family because she’s in my Mid-Michigan RWA group and I always read at least one book from each of our authors. But once I got started on Lainey and Ben’s tender and heart-tugging story, I knew it would be the last. 

I’m also a sucker for Christmas books, so when I saw The Nanny’s Christmas Wish, I was quick to snatch it up. Only a frozen turkey and boxes of glittery decorations could pull me away over the weekend. Josh and Maggie have won me over! I expected the touchingly real characterizations and emotional twists and turns, but their chemistry was the hook that has me anxious to get back between the pages. You’ll see what I mean in the excerpt below.

But first, let me introduce you to Ami as she takes my Twenty Questions gauntlet . . .

1. If I had a free afternoon . . . I’d READ! Or learn to knit. Or do something crafty with my kids.

2. Favorite books from childhood: Laura Ingalls Wilder, of course. I’m getting my 8-year-old daughter a set of them for Christmas this year. Anne of Green Gables are another fave, and all the Marguerite Henry books (The Misty books, Justin Morgan had a Horse, etc.), the Black Stallion series by Walter Farley and the Trixie Belden books! I read a LOT. My not-so-fave book: Stephen King’s The Shining. I was ten, and it was a little over my head.

3. What music are you listening to? (While you write?) It depends on the book, but I rely heavily on Muse, Sarah McLachlan, some country (odd, because I don’t listen to it in my real life), Collective Soul, Linkin Park, whatever catches my attention for the book at the moment. Then I’ll put the song on repeat. Right now, it’s P!nk’s Try.

4. Three favorite movies: The Princess Bride, of course (and my kids love it too--I’m so proud to hear them quote it randomly and extensively!) Disney’s Little Mermaid. The Sound Of Music. Another one my kids can quote and sing all the songs.

5. Gourmet cook or take out? Take out! My husband is the cook. He’s an excellent one, too. I can bake. But apparently we can’t live on cookies alone. Bummer.

6. Favorite comfort food: Mashed potatoes. And cake with really good frosting.

7. Favorite type of hero: Hmmm. Well, I’m not a huge fan of full-on alphas. I write more beta heroes myself. That said, I love nearly all of Nora Roberts’ heroes--she writes a great mix now of alpha and beta. Calm and protective but not caveman overbearing. Jill Shalvis writes great heroes too. And both of them write a good heroine, too.

8. Favorite genre to read? I read romance pretty consistently and it is what I write. But of course romance is a huge genre, and I only write contemporary but I read all of it. I read mystery and thrillers, too, not really horror, and lots of YA. Literary fiction, too. Nonfiction.

9. Favorite books you can read over and over: I’m not a huge re-reader. Generally, if I’ve read it, I’m done. But there are a few. All the Harry Potter, all the Anne of Green Gables books, Jane Eyre, Little Women, Bittersweet by LaVyrle Spencer, Winterdance by Gary Paulson and a handful of other books including The Language of Flowers (this is a new one).

10. Paperback or e-book? Paperback. I have an ereader, I use it, I totally get why people love them, but I’m just a book girl.

11. What are you reading right now? J.K Rowling’s The Cuckoo’s Calling and an assortment of Christmas romances.

12. What would you love to write that you haven’t? A huge, sweeping paranormal.

13. OCD plotter or free range pantser? Hoo, boy. I am a pantser all the way. I really wish I were more of a plotter, of a structured writer, but alas, my process is a hot mess. I’ve tried to plot, but it simply doesn’t work for me.

14. Which is easier, the synopsis or the book? Oddly enough, the book. I think it’s because I am a pantser. I can write a synopsis--but it’s not going to match the actual book! I’ve been working on that.

15. Which was easier to get, agent or editor? Agent, I guess in this case, even though I’ve only had her a couple months. A mutual author friend helped me out there. She was only the third one I’d tried. As far as the editor went, it was a lot of querying and entering of Harlequin-based contests, which is what did the trick.

16. Do you have a set writing schedule? In a way. I do write everyday, but the time can vary. When the kids are in school, I do it during the day at a nearby coffee shop or at home. I set a word count (lately it’s been 3k, but that can vary depending on where I’m at) and go from there.

17. First publishing rejection (and getting back on that horse). Ahh, rejection. I had a few. My first one I was SO SHOCKED she didn’t want the book. Ha. She was lovely and had requested the whole thing off a partial, so that was good. I’ve never had any trouble picking myself back up. I guess I learned at some point to separate myself from my work--they weren’t rejecting me, just my book. It’s a tough thing to take sometimes.

18. Solo muse or critique partner(s)? I’ve got a great group of crit partners, and I do a lot on my own, too. I think the support of other writers (be they crit partners or buddies) is critical to the whole thing.

19. Biggest hurdle to getting words on the page and how you overcome it? Being a pantser, I don’t always know where I’m going. So when I write myself into the corner, I stop and try to figure out where I went wrong--and that usually means I end up skipping ahead and writing scenes out of order. This keeps me writing and usually these later scenes shed light on where I went wrong in the first place. Then I go back and knit it all together.

20. When can we get your next book and what’s it all about? Well, my next releases won’t be out until later next year, but my most recent book is THE NANNY’S CHRISTMAS WISH from Harlequin Special Edition, and it’s still available on Harlequin’s site as well as Amazon and B&N. Here’s the blurb: Josh Tanner and Maggie Thelan share one unbreakable rule: No romantic entanglements. Period. So the lonely doctor hiring the former teacher as a live-in nanny for his little boy shouldn't be any kind of threat to their creed. Especially since Josh won't let go of the past—and Maggie can't tell Josh who she really is…. But rules are made to be broken, and while Maggie only wants to know the nephew she never knew she had, deeper feelings keep getting in the way! As the holiday season creeps closer, his rules collide with her secret. Can their unexpected love survive the truth?

Maggie Thelan double-checked the address on the big blue Victorian with the sticky note on the steering wheel. Her pulse kicked up a bit as she eased the car to the curb. She drew in a deep breath and let it out slowly, trying to calm the butterflies in her belly. Cody, her nephew, lived here. Her half sister, Lucy, had lived here until her death. It would be Maggie's home during her stint as Cody's nanny.

If she got the job.

No way am I missing this chance. She grabbed her purse and keys and checked her reflection in the rearview mirror. Hair behaving, mascara not smeared, all good. She did a quick application of lip gloss and wondered for the millionth time if she shared her Black Irish coloring—dark hair, blue eyes, pale skin—with her half sister.

With any luck there'd be a photo out for Maggie to see. Anticipation quivered through her as she threw open the car door.

She'd gotten through the first interview just fine. Cody's grandmother, Ellen Tanner, was a lovely woman, warm and friendly and concerned about her grandson's welfare. This time, she'd meet Cody and his father and hopefully walk away with the job.
She'd staked everything on it.

Not wanting to think about that, Maggie hurried up the walk, her ponytail blowing over her shoulder in the wind. Being October in northern Michigan, the breeze had a bite to it but the sun still held some warmth. The maple trees on the front lawn blazed gold and flame.

A couple of squat pumpkins sat on the front porch. Maggie stepped around them and up to the heavy front door.

She pressed the doorbell and the door opened almost instantly, causing her to take a big step back and stumble over one of the pumpkins behind her. "Whoa," said a deep voice, and he grabbed her elbow before she ended up smashing the pumpkin under her rear. She pitched forward and felt a firm, broad chest under her cheek. He smelled of clean laundry and soap. Warmth seeped through his blue oxford dress shirt.

Or maybe that was her face, burning with embarrassment.

Smooth, Maggie, real smooth. She stepped back, carefully this time, cleared her throat and promptly forgot what she'd been about to say as her gaze traveled up.

Oh, he was tall, north of six feet and broad, with light brown hair that curled slightly at the nape. And his eyes. Damn if she hadn't just lost her voice in those whiskey-colored eyes.

"You all right?" His voice, laced with amusement and concern, snapped Maggie out of her trance.

"Yes. Thanks for the help." She thrust out her hand as she tried to recover her scattered wits. "Maggie Thelan. I'm here for a second interview for the nanny position."

He raised his eyebrows, arched over those incredible eyes. They weren't the color of just any whiskey, but the good Scotch stuff her father had favored. Her heart pinged. The man grasped her hand, his palm warm and slightly rough on hers. She sucked in a breath at the unwelcome little shiver that zipped up her arm. "Dr. Josh Tanner. Nice to meet you," he said as he released his grip.

"You, too," she replied. Dread seized her. This man was Cody's dad. What if he thought she'd be a klutzy danger to his son? Good one, Maggie.

He stepped back. "Come on in. Have a seat over there." He indicated the sofa in a comfortable living room. Photos. Her pulse picked up a bit as she made her way to sit down.

She cleared her throat and smiled as he sat down opposite her. She peeked around him at the pictures on the mantel. Shoot. Some of them were too small to see the subjects clearly. She snapped her focus back to find him studying her with a crease between his eyebrows.

Her stomach clenched. "Is there a problem?"

He hesitated a spilt second. "I have to say I was expecting someone older. I told my mom—" He broke off and the frown deepened.

"What?" Her stomach tightened. "Why do you need someone older?"

"I just thought, well, more experience, maybe." He had the grace to look slightly embarrassed.

Maggie's eyebrows shot up and she straightened her spine, spearing him with the look that had sent plenty of fourth-graders scurrying back in line. "I've been a teacher for ten years, Dr. Tanner. I assure you, I have plenty of experience with kids."

He nodded, reluctance still etched on his face. "I saw that on your resume. You are by far the most highly qualified candidate. My mom thinks highly of you and I trust her judgment. Your background check is clean and the references are excellent, so as long as Cody likes you we'll consider this a done deal."

Relief flooded Maggie even as she noted he didn't look pleased about the whole thing. "Thank you. I hope he does, Doctor. I'm looking forward to meeting him." More than you'll ever know. The chance to know Cody, hopefully learn something about her half sister, meant everything to her. Her heart squeezed. Since her father's death and learning he had kept his older daughter a secret, Maggie's world had been in a tailspin.

He glanced at his watch. "While we're waiting, do you want to see where you'll be staying?" he asked.

"I'd love to," she said.

A quick perusal of the mantel on her way past revealed photos of Cody, either alone or with his dad or Grandma. Nothing of Lucy. She climbed the creaking stairs behind Dr. Tanner and since it felt wrong to look at the view of his rear she kept her eyes at his waist. His pants were frayed at the belt loops, a little detail at odds with the crisp pleats in the front.

Upstairs, he walked past three rooms to the end of the hall and pushed open a door. "This be okay for you?"

Maggie stepped around him, catching a whiff of his scent as she did so. The little jolt of awareness was almost drowned out by the pleasure that flooded her at the room.

"This is beautiful!"

The room was huge and she could see a balcony through French doors. A four-poster bed sat across from the fireplace, where a cozy little grouping of furniture had been arranged. She could picture herself reading to Cody there, snuggling by the fire on a cold and snowy night.

A little shiver of joy ran through her. She couldn't ask for a more perfect setting to get to know her nephew.

"There are plenty of extra sheets if you want to use them, and comforters, too. Not sure what you'd like, but if you don't find something that works just buy what you want and I'll cover it. Bathroom's in here." Dr. Tanner stepped around her and pointed to the first of two doors. "Closet's the next one."

Maggie pulled open the door and peeked in at the bathroom. Double sinks, oversize tub, separate shower. Fresh towels, no doubt his mother's touch, on the towel rack.

A master bedroom. Why didn't he use the master? Too many memories?

"Dr. Tanner, really, this is amazing. I love it." She moved over the plush carpeting to the four-poster and ran her hand over the smooth wood of the footboard. Unless she missed her guess, this bed was an antique.

When she looked up, she caught him watching her with caution and something else, a something that made her skin get hot and reminded her she was alone with a gorgeous man. In a room with a bed.

The one man she couldn't have and wouldn't want anyway.

So why had her mouth just gone dry?

"Josh," he said, and Maggie blinked, her thoughts thankfully derailed. "Call me Josh, please. You're not my patient."

"Josh, then," she murmured.

A banging from downstairs made them both jump, shattering the awkward moment.

"That'd be Cody and my mother," he said, relief clear in his voice. "Let's go meet them."

Cody Tanner, age four, looked up at Maggie with serious blue eyes ringed with long, dark lashes. Light brown curls haloed around his head. Her heart melted, and emotion crashed over her in a fierce wave. She ached to pull him in her arms. This little boy was the only link to the half sister she'd never have the chance to know. He dropped his gaze to her feet and she swallowed hard.

"Hi, Cody." Maggie stuck out her hand, but Cody ignored it, instead pressing against his grandmother's leg. She tried to ignore the sharp sting his rejection produced.

"Code," his father said in a gentle voice, "you can do better than that."

Cody looked up at Maggie, his big blue eyes swimming with tears, and shook his head.

Maggie's heart cracked. "It's okay—" she began but Josh shook his head.

"Cody, we talked about this. Remember?"

"Don't want her," Cody cried and Maggie sucked in her breath, each word almost a physical blow. "I wanna have Mrs. Herman!"

Josh knelt down in front of his son. He tugged Cody into his arms. "I know it's hard on you. But she had to leave, Code," he said. "You know that. She had to go help her daughter out. She'll miss you and she loves you. She'll call and send you letters. Remember?"

Cody dipped his chin. "I know," he mumbled, and his father hugged him.

"Now, let's try this again. What do you say to Ms. Thelan?"

Cody slid a sideways glance her way. "Hi," he muttered and Maggie smiled.

"Nice to meet you, Cody." Oh, if he only knew.

Two-time Golden Heart Finalist Ami Weaver has always been a writer, but once she started penning 'romances' in middle school she never looked back. She's come a long way since then--and learned what romance really is. Now she is an award-winning author of warm contemporary romances for Harlequin Romance and Harlequin Special Edition. Ami's manuscripts have won the Maggie, the Marlene, and been finalists in Harlequin's SYTYCW and Mills and Boon's New Voices contests, among others. Ami lives in Michigan and balances writing around four great kids, three crazy cats, and one very supportive husband. You can visit her on the web at www.amiweaver.com or find her on Twitter at @writerlygirl.


  1. Great excerpt and love the 20 questions set-up! Also, I've passed on an appreciation for "The Princess Bride" to my kids (the 9 year-old has been known to pop out with "No more rhymes now, I mean it! Anybody got a peanut?" at odd times). The country music, thing, too? That's also me. :)

  2. I haven't seen Princess Bride yet (I know, shame on me) but the Disney movies were all favorites here. And now I get to watch them with my grandkids. Great interview - and congratulations on all your writing success!

  3. Great excerpt. The interview was terrific. Nancy really asks great questions, doesn't she? Best wishes for much success.

  4. Wonderful post! I loved the questions and getting to know you better! Your book sounds wonderful and I love that you read all romances. They are my passion too!

  5. A blog Q&A is only as good as its guest. Thanks, Ami!!