Thursday, June 20, 2013

Q&A and Excerpt: Nora Roberts Land by Ava Miles...

Nora Roberts Land (Dare Valley, #1)Nora Roberts Land (Dare Valley, #1)Nora Roberts Land (Dare Valley, #1)

Ava Miles talks about NORA ROBERTS LAND, the Dare Valley Trilogy and family...

Ever since your great-great-grandfather won a newspaper in a poker game in 1891, your family has had something to do with words.  When did you start writing?
It seems as if I've been penning stories for fun forever. Like most writers, I had a spiral notebook in grade school and wrote whatever came to me.  In high school, I wrote my first few chapters of a romance novel and got hooked. One of my best high school gifts was a Plot Journal from a former English teacher, which I still write in.  It wasn't until my characters wouldn't get off my back that I finally finished a full manuscript. It wasn't easy--especially with a full-time job--but after that I couldn’t stop.

Is NORA ROBERTS LAND your first book?
It's the first of my books to go out into the world, but not the first I've completed.  I've written three complete books and started several others, but this is the first one that spoke to me this strongly and pulled me into my characters so fully that I simply had to write until I knew what was going to happen to them.

Can you tell us a bit about the plot?
Absolutely.  My heroine is Meredith Hale, a journalist who's a huge fan of Nora Roberts' books, and whose ex-husband blames them for their marriage breaking up.  He insists that Meredith had unrealistic expectations of their marriage because she read Nora's romances. She even stopped reading Nora's books for a time thinking he might have been right.  But when she's called home to Dare Valley to help her family, she packs a hidden agenda--to write a piece about a divorced woman who goes back to her small home-town to find Mr. Right, and to prove her ex wrong at the same time.

Meredith's ready to put herself out there like a Nora Roberts heroine, determined to find what her mother calls "Nora Roberts Land," a.k.a. her own  "happily ever after."  Of course, that's much easier said than done, especially when Meredith's efforts to uncover the mystery surrounding the death of a family friend require pretending to go out with Tanner McBride, the only man who sets her heart racing--and the only one who is totally off limits.

Is Tanner totally fabulous?
I think readers will be the ones to decide, but...ummm...hard body, great lover, handsome, intelligent, a terrific flirt... Did I mention he's being blackmailed? He is.  

Have you based any of your characters on people you know?
My characters are their own people. I don't sit down and model people after ones I know as I've heard Madeleine L'Engle used to do. However, they often have characteristics of people I know and seem familiar to me. There's probably a little bit of each of my three sisters and me in Meredith. And, of course my family's newspaper and writing background informs several characters as well as the plot, especially Grandpa Hale, who is what I imagined my great-great grandfather to be like. Tanner has lots of his own personality and is definitely blessed with the physical, mental and emotional traits that attract me to a man, be it romance or friendship. It's funny though, with him being a former war correspondent, he resonates with a lot of what I felt and experienced when I was working in similar places.

It seems that family is also very much at the heart of NORA ROBERTS LAND. Is that because of your own upbringing?
Yes, I come from a big family. I was born in the Midwest and lived in small towns until we moved down South to a bigger city. My parents both grew up on farms so we were raised with family and community coming first. I'm the oldest, and have three sisters and two brothers. We are very close even though we span the U.S. now.

Everyone does their best to support each other. From day one, everyone supported me with this new passion, especially my sister, Michelle, my Nora girl.  When her personal experience of having her ex-husband blame their divorce on her reading Nora Roberts novels (something that shocked us all) crystallized into the story idea that became NORA ROBERTS LAND, I knew I needed her permission to write it. She wholeheartedly agreed, wanting to inspire people to believe in second chances and happily ever after since she's found her own.

You pluck Meredith from the center of Manhattan and send her to her small hometown in the Colorado mountains.  Why is it important that Meredith's journey takes place in Dare Valley, rather than a big city, or even the suburbs?
Returning home seemed critical for her story. She has an incredible sense of family and tradition with her family's newspaper.  When her dad has medical issues, she immediately heads home to help run things while he's out.  Also, coming from a small community to the big city, I could see how it's easy to lose yourself in a large city and to not feel connected to your neighbors. Meredith needs to reconnect to the parts of herself she lost in her marriage and while living in the New York City. Going home to Dare is a reminder of all that's made her who she is.

Have you ever lived anywhere like Dare Valley?
Yes. I spent my childhood in two small Midwestern communities and then my summers in the same town as our family newspaper. I cherish those times.  Having people simply stop by for coffee or to drop off a meal if someone has a crisis or a new baby arrives.  Walking into people's houses because the doors aren't locked. Talking about the various events in town, how people are related and, of course, any mischief that's going on. Since much of our big family also lived in Colorado, where Dare Valley is located, we also spent a lot of time there.  Additionally, I lived in a small university town in Utah for grad school.  Dare is an amalgamation of these experiences, and a place I would love to live.

What's next?  Are you working on something new?
I am working on a new series involving another intriguing family, but I'm also still tweaking my next book, FRENCH ROAST.  It's Meredith's sister Jill's story, who readers will have gotten to know in NORA ROBERTS LAND. Readers revisit the action at Don't Soy With Me, Jill’s coffee shop, and find out what's next for her and her ex-best friend, Brian. It's the second of three books set in Dare Valley.  It goes on sale August 13th.  THE GRAND OPENING is about Tanner's sister and a mysterious man who arrives in town with an agenda she's determined to stop. It will be out on September 24th.  It's the last book in the Dare Valley trilogy.  At least I'm saying that now.  I'm not completely certain I'm finished with Grandpa Hale, Meredith and Jill’s grandpa.  If he were forty years younger, he'd make a hot and charming hero.

How can readers find out what else is going on with you?
I'll always post updates on my site about what's out and what I’m working on.  And I'll be sharing news on Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus.  I'm also collecting some fun visuals for Pinterest, along with who knows what else.  I'm looking forward to meeting up with everyone.

Nora Roberts Land (Dare Valley, #1)

Journalist Meredith Hale’s ex-husband claimed her Nora Roberts addiction gave her unrealistic expectations about marriage, and she believed him. All dreams of happily ever after—or Nora Roberts Land as her mother calls it—went up in smoke. But when her family asks her to temporarily help their Dare Valley, Colorado newspaper, she decides it’s time to change her life and prove her ex wrong. She’s determined to find her own small-town Nora Roberts hero, prove that true love exists, and publish a story about her quest.

War correspondent Tanner McBride has just returned stateside to work for a major newspaper, and the last thing he expects is blackmail. Yet, before he can even unpack, he’s headed to Colorado. His assignment? Make his boss’s ex-wife fall for him and then break her heart. Her article about discovering love à la Nora might air dirty laundry about her marriage to the media mogul, threatening his senate run. The mogul wants Meredith stopped, and he makes sure Tanner has no choice in the matter.

When the two meet, the sparks between them are undeniable. Meredith, who vowed never to date another journalist, begins to succumb. Could Tanner be her Nora Roberts hero? As they work together to uncover the truth behind a suspicious death, the depth of their feelings unfolds and both realize they’ve kept their secrets for far too long. But before the truth can be revealed, their investigation takes a deadly turn, one that might make Meredith’s personal Nora Roberts Land go up in flames.
Meredith Hale scanned the bookstore window. There it was—the new Nora Roberts book—the cover a bold, powerful landscape of sky and water.

Her superhero alter ego, Divorcée Woman, couldn’t override the rash of goosebumps on her arms or her knotted stomach. Meredith patted the red lace La Perla bustier hidden under her black suit jacket and took one hesitant step closer to the glass, her breath hitching as she scanned Nora’s prominent display. She imagined Divorcée Woman telling her to suck it up. It was only a bookstore after all. It wasn’t like she had to take a bullet for the president or anything.
She’d gone cold turkey on Nora’s books a year ago, when her ex-husband, Rick-the-Dick, threw Black Hills at the wall, snarling that her favorite author had given her an unrealistic view of love. “Out marital problems are her fault,” he said. “She’s made you believe in happily ever after—something any adult knows is a myth. Grow up.” Then he packed his custom-tailored suits and slammed out the door of their swanky Manhattan apartment.
At first she’d thought maybe he was right. But she missed Nora’s books. And not reading them hadn't made the whole divorce thing any easier on her. It hadn't made the panic attacks go away.
She wanted her Nora Roberts back, dammit. It was time to reclaim her life.
Unfortunately, just looking at the cover had her hovering on the edge of a panic attack. Her hands grew clammy. She wiped them on her black suit and dug into her matching purse for her cell phone. Her sister would be able to talk her into going into the store. After all, Jill could talk anyone into anything.
“Hey, Mere,” Jill greeted, the ever-present sound of her favorite band, Abba, in the background. Jill wanted to live life like a dancing queen.
“Hey,” she said, making sure to sound calmer than she was. “How’s business at the coffee shop?”
“Well, after a regional dairy salesman tried to talk me into changing my store’s name from Don’t Soy With Me to Don’t Milk Me, I’m about ready to bash my head against the espresso machine. He was so dense. I tried to explain it’s a play on words, but he just blinked like one of those dairy cows and went, ‘Oh.’”
Meredith’s panic slowly eased. Jill and her stories were always a comfort. “Being in New York, I don’t run into too many milk salesmen. Does he wear a special outfit?”
“No, thank God. Speaking of milk, did you get my present?”
Ducking closer to the store window so she wouldn’t be mowed down by a rush of pedestrians, Meredith said, “You mean the coffee mug with the line, ‘You’re My Udder One’?”
“Yes. I tried to appease the milk guy by telling him I’d put those mugs out for display, but he wouldn’t leave. He even offered to teach me how to milk a cow. I think he was hitting on me.”
As Meredith muffled her laughter, a passing banker gave her a disapproving stare. His shoes, belt, and briefcase matched—the Wall Street uniform. “And I thought my love life was pathetic.”
“What love life?”
“Funny. Speaking of which, I’m outside a bookstore. I woke up this morning and decided I want to read.”
“Oh, honey, I didn’t know you were illiterate.”
“Hah.” She eyed the rush of people heading in and out of the bookstore on 82nd and Broadway.
“Okay, take a deep yoga breath. Jeez, Mere, you sound like Great Aunt Helen when she put down her oxygen to steal a swig of Grandpa’s scotch at Christmas.”
“Right. Breathe.” Was her vision blurring? “I’m taking a step.”
“Oh, baby, I wish mom and I were there to see it.”
Her sister’s wicked humor cut through the fogginess in her head. Meredith wasn’t sure she was in her body anymore, but it moved when she walked. Her hand managed to open the door. She walked in on legs wobbling like an untangled yoyo.
“Are you inside yet?”
She squeezed into a book aisle as people cruised by. “Yes.”
“Welcome back to the land of the reading.”
Was there anything more comforting? “Thank you. I’m standing by the thriller and suspense section. Makes me think of Grandpa. He’s convinced there’s some sort of conspiracy going on at the university. I’m researching the college drug trade for him on the side. Maybe I should buy him a John Grisham book instead.”
“I know! He keeps pumping me for information about the parties I’ve gone to. I told him people drink too much and puke. End of story.”
“Tell that to his infernal journalism gut.” Not that she could point fingers. Hale DNA had given her one too.
“I know the fam’s grateful you’ve been helping out with the paper after Dad’s heart attack,” her sister said, “But Dad’s still working too hard. He loves that paper like it’s a child—just like Grandpa.”
“I know, Jill.” Suddenly guilt pressed down on her, its force almost as strong as the panic. She was helping, but she wished she could do more. Sometimes being long-distance sucked.  
Her sister cleared her throat. “I don’t know how to say this, but you need to know. Sorry the timing’s not great with the whole one-year-divorce anniversary thing, but…” Her sister’s breathing went a little ragged on the line. “The doctor’s concerned about dad’s progress and wants him to take some time off. Mom hasn’t wanted to ask you, but someone needs to help Grandpa. I know he can run circles around us all, but he’s in his seventies. Is there any way you can come home to help out for a few months? I’d do it, but I have zero journalistic instincts. Plus, I have Don’t Soy with Me to run.”
“Come home?” She bumped into a book display, and a whole parade of James Patterson hardcovers slid to the floor. Her lungs seemed to stop at the thought. “I can’t breathe...and I really want to.” She gulped in air.
“Go to the coffee shop and sit down. Put your head between your knees.”
She wobbled over to a chair and caught sight of the romance section. The tightness between her ribs could have competed with a boa constrictor as it killed its victim. She didn’t care what people thought. She put her head between her legs when she saw red.
Her phone buzzed in her clenched hand, signaling another call. She ignored it, breathing deeply. When her equilibrium returned, she took deep breaths until she was sure she’d inhaled all the circulated air in Manhattan. She put the phone to her ear again.
“You still there?”
“Yep. You okay?”
Question of the year. “I didn’t pass out, but it was close.”
“Meredith, your husband cheated on you, and then blamed it on you—and Nora’s books. You’ve been through an emotional wringer. Give yourself a break. I keep telling Jemma that too.”
Jill’s best friend had just been dumped by her childhood sweetheart. “You’re pretty good at giving advice.”
“Practice. Jemma’s devastated.”
“Yeah, I get that.” Her eyes burned, and she pinched the bridge of her nose. “I can’t stand another night in my apartment. I miss my Tribeca place and eating out in restaurants and visiting gallery openings. I don’t miss Rick-the-Dick, but I do miss being part of that jam-packed world.”
“You have the Power Couple Blues, Mere. Maybe coming home to help the paper will give you a new perspective. You don’t have any family there. Most of your friends changed when you got divorced.”
True, she had become intimately familiar with the term “fair weather friend” over the past year. “I miss you guys.” But going home? She’d been in New York since starting at Colombia. “Let me grab a coffee.”
“I wish I was there to make your favorite. Then I’d give you a ginormous hug and tell you about Paige Lorton snorting whipped cream up her nose and old man Perkins giving her the Heimlich.”
Her laughter popped out like the final popcorn kernels in the microwave. “Oh, Jillie, I love you.”
“I love you too. You’re my big sis. I miss you, Mere.”
Holding the phone away from her face for a moment, she walked up to the counter and gave her coffee order—a tall, no foam latte—before shuffling back to her chair. She slumped against the metal back, returning the phone to her ear. “Let me think about coming home.”
“Surely Karen knows how hard you’ve worked after joining her paper. You’ve been there for a year now. Plus, it’s Rick-the-Dick’s rival paper. That’s gotta be extra bonus points.”
Her coffee magically appeared in front of her. She looked up to see a petite barista with flat-ironed hair. “You look like you needed me to bring it over.”
Kindness didn’t happen often in New York. In her hometown of Dare Valley, Colorado, it happened more times than she could count. “Thank you.” A wave of homesickness hit her. “Maybe you’re right, Jill. It would be nice to be around people who know me.”
“Good! So think about it. Talk to Karen. Now, drink your latte, and then we’ll talk you into the romance section. Nora Roberts Land awaits.”
A smile tugged at Meredith’s lips. “I forgot how mom always used to call Nora’s books that. She’d point her finger at dad and say she was taking a few hours to visit Nora Roberts Land, and then she’d seal herself off in the bedroom. Like it was an adult version of Disneyland. Dad never got it.”
“Yeah, but at least he didn’t blame divorce on Nora’s books. Rick-the-Dick’s the kind of man who can’t take responsibility for his cheating, so he blamed it on you—and fiction. Isn’t that the most pathetic thing ever? It’s like blaming teen suicide on Romeo and Juliet. It’s asinine.”
“Actually, I think that’s been done.” She took the last drink of her latte and stood. Tested her balance. “Okay, I’m ready.”
“So strut your stuff over to the romance section.”
Press Release and Additional Info:

NORA ROBERTS LAND Follows Journalist Meredith Hale 
as She Returns Home to
Dare Valley, Colorado in Search of Her Own Happily Ever After

Nora Roberts Land (Dare Valley, #1)

Ava Miles' first novel, NORA ROBERTS LAND, goes on sale July 2nd as an ebook original.  The first book in the Dare Valley Trilogy, it's the story of Meredith Hale and her search for her own "happily ever after", a.k.a. Nora Roberts Land.
Like her heroine, Ava Miles has always known what she appreciates the most about romance novels.  It's the affirmation of romantic love and the guarantee of a "happily ever after." Which made it all the more incomprehensible when her sister's ex-husband concluded that it was reading Nora Roberts novels that was to blame for their divorce.  Later, Ava realized she had the hook for a new story and NORA ROBERTS LAND was born.
In the book, Meredith, a journalist, has just bought Nora Roberts' latest release.  It's the first she's picked up since her divorce.  Her New York power broker ex- husband blamed the break-up on Meredith's Nora Roberts addiction, saying it gave her unrealistic expectations of marriage.  For awhile, their messy divorce put a damper on her dreams of happily ever after, but no more.   Meredith has been asked to return home to Dare Valley, Colorado to fill in for her father at the family newspaper, and she's going with more than one agenda.  She also plans to find her own small-town Nora hero, prove that true love exists, and publish an article about her quest.
That is until her ex gets wind of it.  He's just hired war correspondent Tanner McBride for the international desk at his New York daily and needs him to take on a special assignment first.  He's to go to Dare Valley, make Meredith fall for him and put an end to the article about love à la Nora by breaking her heart. The media mogul is sure the piece will air dirty laundry that will threaten his senate run and he wants Meredith stopped.  Tanner refuses, until blackmail changes his mind.
When the two meet, the attraction between them is undeniable.  As they work together to uncover the mystery behind the death of a family friend, Meredith, who vowed never to date another newspaper man, nonetheless begins to wonder if Tanner could be her own Nora Roberts hero. Meanwhile, Tanner, who knows he's fallen head over heels in love, is determined to thwart his blackmailer and keep Meredith in his life.  
Ava Miles mixes humor and suspense in her small town tale as she brings readers a story from the heart and the promise of a happy ending.

Far from the first in her family to embrace writing, Ava Miles comes from a long line of journalists.  
Ever since her great-great-grandfather won ownership of a newspaper in a poker game in 1892, her family has had something to do with telling stories, whether to share news or, in her case, fiction.  Her clan is still reporting on local events more than one hundred years later at their family newspaper, much like the Hale family in her book. Ava, who's been scribbling down ideas and writing since childhood, says it wasn't until her characters "wouldn't stop talking" that she completed the first of several novels she had written.  

Born and raised in the Midwest, where her family's newspaper is located, Ava went on to earn an undergraduate degree in writing and advance degrees in political science and conflict management.  She is a member of the Romance Writers of America and Washington Romance Writers. She is also part of an unofficial group that regularly convenes a writing retreat at Nora Roberts' restored Inn Boonsboro in western Maryland.  Now writing full-time in the peace and quiet of her northern Virginia porch-swinging-friendly community, she is putting the finishing touches on the two upcoming books in her Dare Valley Trilogy and plotting her next series.

NORA ROBERTS LAND, Book 1, The Dare Valley Trilogy
Ava Miles
Contemporary Romance/E-book Original
On Sale 7-2-13/$5.99

CONTACT:  Joan Schulhafer, Joan Schulhafer Publishing & Media Consulting, 973-338-5427,

No comments:

Post a Comment