Darlene Panzera, author of sweet, fun-loving romance, graciously accepted an invite to be a guest on my blog. Her novella, THE BET, is included inside Debbie Macomber’s FAMILY AFFAIR published by Avon Books, a division of HarperCollins. Available online and in print everywhere books are sold June 22, 2012.
I’m glad you were able to stop by. You’ve been a very busy woman!
Darlene: I’m so excited to be here! Thank you, Ashlyn, for having me on your blog.
Ashlyn: Your novella, THE BET, will be in the back half of Debbie Macomber’s book, FAMILY AFFAIR. How did you land such a great opportunity to be featured with Debbie? And I hear she’s a local author?
Darlene: Debbie Macomber and I both live on the Kitsap Peninsula, in Washington. I had been submitting the full manuscript of my sweet romance, THE BET, back and forth to different publishing houses for years. The editors were interested, but kept requesting revisions. Then a friend told me about the Debbie Macomber/Avon Books “Make Your Dream Come True” contest. The prize was $ 500 and the opportunity to publish a novella with NYT best-selling author, Debbie Macomber. I cut the word count of THE BET in half, sent it in, and won. Our two novellas are bound back to back in a single volume with Debbie’s FAMILY AFFAIR cover.
Ashlyn: When should readers expect the full length book of THE BET?
Darlene: My editors at Avon Books have not given me the official release date of the full length version, but the placeholder on Amazon says it will be released December 4th 2012.
Ashlyn: I hear you have more news. Something to do with a deal with Avon? Share please and tell us when to expect these great books from you?
Darlene: I just received a contract from Avon Books for THE CUPCAKE DIARIES, to be released Spring 2013. The humorous 3-Novella set feature three young women, down on their luck and with no prior business experience, who open a cupcake shop in Astoria, Oregon, and record their recipes, bumpy road to success, and flirtatious interactions with the men they meet in a cookbook style diary.
Ashlyn: Ooh, I’m already hooked. For one thing, I love Astoria. Throw in delicious cupcakes and hot men . . . ahem, I’m getting sidetracked. So, I hear your daughter is very involved with your author life. Reminds me a lot of the working relationship between Janet Evanovich and her daughter. How does your daughter contribute? What about your sons?
Darlene: My daughter, Samantha, picked a career that partners perfectly with mine. She went to college for a degree in multi-media and opened her own business, Samantha Panzera Photography. We joke that she is my promotions manager because she designed and maintains my website, created all my book trailers, a few short story book covers, bookmarks, trading cards, and my media kit. Her photography is credited for my portrait shots. In the future we plan to release a children’s book together with my writing and her computer animated illustrations. My two teenage boys are involved in their own interests and although encouraging, they do not really contribute.
Ashlyn: Sounds like a great partnership and I understand boys and their own interests. Mine are like that too. Ok, this is a personal question. You’re a Jersey girl. Are you a fan of Pauly D or Snooki? If you are, do they represent Jersey?
Darlene: I was born and raised in New Jersey. Pauly D and Snooki were not. Pauly D was born and raised in Rhode Island. Snooki was born in Chile and raised in New York. No, I am not a fan and as far as I can see, the only thing they got right about New Jersey was the location.
Ashlyn: A few days ago, one of my sons asked me “Mom’s who’s Snooki?” Now I can tell him she’s definitely not from Jersey. How is the Pacific Northwest different/similar to New Jersey? And do you have a distinct Jersey accent?
Darlene: The Pacific Northwest has towns miles apart with big mountains and enormously tall trees. The part of New Jersey I grew up in has a dense population and most of it is flat with trees only half as high. The similarity is that both places are near the ocean or surrounded by water. When I first moved to Washington I walked into a hair salon and within seconds the stylist asked, “Where are you from?” I was startled. How did she know? She said it was from the way I pronounced “water” that gave me away. Except for a handful of words, I think my accent has disappeared (although some friends might argue to the contrary). Or maybe my ears have acclimated to the Northwest because when I fly back to visit family and friends I now think, “Wow! They have a really heavy New Jersey accent!”
Ashlyn: Well I’m glad you moved here and very honored to have you on my blog. Now, what are your long term goals as a writer? As a person minus the writing?
Darlene: I’ve been working my whole life to improve my writing and get it published. Now that my dream has come true, I hope to continue improving and publishing. My goal is to help create smiles, touch hearts, and inspire other women to pursue their dreams. Minus the writing, my goal remains the same.
Ashlyn: Who or what inspires you to put words to paper (or MS word)?
Darlene: My faith is very important to me and I believe God created me with the ingrained need to write. I can’t not write, whether I’m inspired or not.
Ashlyn: Once bitten by the writing bug, it’s hard to stop. I totally understand. Run us through your typical writing day.
Darlene: Sometimes I wake to the cold nose of my cat, or if I roll over she will attack and bite my toe. Then I will drag myself out of bed muttering, “How bad do you want it?” and write for five minutes about how much I hate getting up early. Then I will get coffee, kiss my husband as he leaves for work, and wake the kids and get them off to school. Afterwards the house is quiet except for me and my needy long-haired feline companion, and I write for about 4 to 5 hours. The remainder of the day gets noisy and filled with activity. I try to find more snippets of time to write. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. I’m still trying to find a way to balance chores, commitments, writing, family, and activities, but most days my life is like a dryer on overdrive tossing around a jumble of different clothes.
Ashlyn: I’m with you there. Balance is what us writers strive for whether we write full time (as you do) or work full time and write here and there (that’s me). Yet you’ve succeeded and I applaud you for that! Your successful journey to publication took six years. What advice would you give to new writers looking to realize their dream of publication?
Darlene: My journey to publication wasn’t just six years. It was a lifetime. It began around age three when I wrote ABC letters on the underside of my bedroom dresser with a piece of chalk. It’s been six years since I decided to take my writing more seriously and actively try to get it published. Success doesn’t happen overnight. Writing takes hard work, perseverance, and commitment. My advice to new writers would be to commit to the long haul, study diligently, and attend as many classes and writer’s conferences as you can. Reach for your dreams and never let go, because dreams can come true!
Ashlyn: Thank you so much for taking the time to stop by my blog. To find out more or connect with Darlene, please find her at these links.
Twitter: @ DarlenePanzera