Sunday, July 15, 2012

Spotlight & Giveaway: One Day To Find a Husband by Shirley Jump

Today it is my Pleasure to Welcome Harlequin Romance and USA Best Selling Author Shirley Jump to Harlequin Junkie

Shirley is here to talk to us about the her new Harlequin Romance Trilogy: McKenna Brothers 

Over to Shirley....
Three Brothers—Three Challenges
The McKenna Brothers series marks my first back-to-back trilogy, something I actually volunteered for when I went to my editor with the idea for the series. I love connected books and have written several that featured family members, but never have I done a trilogy that came out in a three-month span.           

That meant writing the books in a short time period, and making sure the stories linked not just by relationship, but by time frame, too. I had to have three plots that would work within a three-month window, and make sure I wrapped everyone’s storyline up in the last book. But what really made the McKenna Brothers series was the men themselves.
I wanted strong, compelling characters, heroes in their own right, with their own personalities and quirks. Originally, I was going to write Finn’s story first, then Brody’s, then Riley’s, but Riley became such a big part of Finn’s book that he needed his story second. That meant for some shuffling, as I moved the youngest brother into the middle book, and saved the middle brother for last.
Riley ended up becoming the glue that held all three books together, which surprised me. I hadn’t expected the charming playboy brother to be the one that linked all three, but as I got to know Riley and his infectious personality, it was clear he would be a great bridge for Finn and Brody’s books. Riley also shows up for a little while in my online read featuring McKenna cousin, Alec.
Those three heroes needed three equally compelling and strong heroines, too, and I know I found them in Ellie, Stace and Kate. They were fun heroines to write, with their three vastly different worlds and goals. I loved the way the series wrapped up, too, with the whole family and eldest brother Finn getting the last word—something that is totally a Finn thing to do.
I hope you enjoy the McKenna brothers! I set the story in Boston, which is near where I grew up, and is definitely one of my favorite cities. I visit Boston at least once a year, and never tire of seeing the skyline and harbor. Writing these three books gave me a taste of home, which made the trilogy all that much more sweet!

Let's Talk about your RomCom books...The Bride wore Chocolate was such a fun read!

Where did you come up for the idea of combining recipes with a romantic comedy?

Shirley: When I was coming up with the idea for this series, I sat down and made a list of the things that are most important to me. Family, love and food made that list—and some days food is at the top, depending on whether there’s any chocolate in the house! I have always loved to cook and loved books that incorporated food into the storyline, then wondered what it would be like to have my characters reflect that love. Hence, the idea for having the characters write the recipes was born…and an entire series based on my three favorite things was concocted. And from that, came THE BRIDE WORE CHOCOLATE, THE DEVIL SERVED DESIRE and THE ANGEL TASTED TEMPTATION.

Sara: What is the most rewarding aspect of your career?

Shirley: Hands-down, reader response. I have had such wonderful letters and conversations with readers, and they always seem to come on days when the writing isn’t going as easily or I’m struggling with a new idea. There’s the woman who told me my books helped her get through a dark time in her own life; the young lady who wrote to me and said my books were the distraction she needed from the stress of being a new mom. The others who have said that a line from one of my books provided a laugh when they most needed one, or helped them see their own relationships in a new light—all of those have brightened my days and given me a reward far greater than any I could imagine.

Sara:Among the characters that you have created, do you have a personal favorite?

Shirley: I have to say I love them all! I love Grandma Woodrow in The Bride Wore Chocolate because she’s not afraid to live her life; I love Vinny in The Devil Served Desire (despite his faults) because he lets his feelings show. I love the Chubby Chums, I love Maria (and especially Dante!). I have to say I am always partial to my heroes, but each one of my characters has a tiny part of them that I admire and thus, they all become close to my heart.

Sara: What would you consider to be the perfect romantic evening?

Shirley: I could say the cliché of a dinner out without the kids and a spin on the dance floor, but truly, for my husband and me, we’re so easy to please that a romantic evening is anytime the kids go to bed early (with minimal returns for water) and the dogs take more interest in a rawhide bone than our toes. Before we had kids, I had high expectations for romantic evenings. Now we’ll settle for a delivered pizza and having the TV to ourselves for a few hours. ;-)

Sara: How did you come up with the plot for The Devil Served Desire?

Shirley: It sprang out of necessity! After I wrote The Bride Wore Chocolate, I had, ah, gained a few pounds from testing all those recipes. Each book I write in this series leaves me a few pounds heavier (how I suffer for my craft; those rum balls were just torture to consume), which means I need to watch my diet after I turn the book in. I decided to write a book about a woman on a continual diet (having been there myself) who then meets a man who undoes her best intentions. Any mom with kids who crave Twinkies will know all about the temptations the people you love can bring into the house.

Sara: Do you visit the places where your stories are set?

Shirley: I’m originally from the Boston area and much of my family still lives there, so yes, I do visit Boston often. I create a number of fictional locations for some of the scenes, because I like to be able to control the characters’ worlds. At least to whatever degree an author thinks she’s got control! J

Sara: Is there one specific quality that your heroes/heroines must possess?

Shirley: Family, whether the one you’re born with or the one you create out of those around you. I think family helps keep you grounded. I also believe it gives people a depth and richness of character that they wouldn’t have if they existed solely on their own. I grew up in a small town in a close family and believe those ties stay with you forever; they’re passed down into the next generation and continue that sense of community wherever you live.

Sara: What hobbies do you enjoy when you’re not writing?

Shirley: Besides shopping and eating J, I’d have to say I love to travel. My kids have inherited that bug and told us they want to visit all 50 states before they’re 18. So, every year, my husband and I take them to at least a couple new ones. Not only do I get to see the sites in other locations, but there’s the bonus of eating out every night and finding shoe bargains all over the United States!

Shirley will be giving away: “5 pack of assorted Shirley Jump Harlequin Books” to 2 lucky Winners
TO WIN: Please enter your email in the Rafflecopter below and Post a comment answering the question  below
Tell me, what’s your favorite city? Do you like books that are linked by family like the McKenna Brothers series? And if you could write a trilogy set anywhere in the world, where would you choose? - Shirley

Giveaway is open to readers world wide
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  1. I'm fond of Atlanta, since it's my hometown! Not a lot of books are set there, unfortunately!

  2. I like NY. I like series books linked by family. A trilogy set in Australia would be nice.

  3. My favorite city is New York City. My daughter and I went 3 years ago and fell in love with it. I'm going back in December with a group of friends to see a show and the Rocketts Christmas show at Radio City Music Hall. Can't wait! I do like series linked by family. I like to read about couples who already have found their HEA. I like to see what they're up to. This is especially true if I really loved the book and didn't want it to end. Thanks.

  4. It would be Los Angeles. I have live here for years and haven't been anywhere else long enough to write about. I would love to write a trilogy that would link Hong Kong, San Francisco and Los Angeles together. I would link these trilogy together by family. It would requires me to do research through my family members who are in two these cities. Yes, I'm a bit ambitious in everything I do and I do tend to bite off more than I can chew and I do have a bulldog mentality.

  5. I'd have to say my favorite city would be New York City... there's so much to see and do there! I love series that are linked by family, where you can see minor characters grow into major characters.. the latter books always seem to be my favorites. I like the good ole USoA for a setting... from one coast to the other, the north, the south, the heartlands... they're all wonderful settings for family.

  6. I love Chicago. It is one of the most beautiful cities in the US. I really enjoy series that follow family members. I like to revisit previous couples in later books. If I could set a trilogy anywhere in the world then I would choose Venice, Italy. I fell in love with that city.

    geishasmom73 at yahoo dot com

  7. First, thanks for having me on the blog, Sara!

    Bn100, Shelley and K-Link, I LOVE New York myself--I just returned from spending a few days there. Took the kids to Times Square, SoHo and Greenwich Village, and also took in a show on Broadway (Spiderman, which was fabulous). I go to New York almost every year and would live there if I didn't have that pesky family, LOL.

    Kai, I've enjoyed LA, too, before. We stayed near there a couple years ago. I LOVED the weather. San Francisco--I've been there twice and totally loved it. Gorgeous, unique and just so darn interesting!

    Rebe, Atlanta...all I remember is how HOT it was! But I'm supposed to go there again for RWA soon, and I'm hoping to see more of the city this time around!

  8. My favourite city would have to be Venice. The city just screams romance. I love reading series or linked books. This is because the secondary characters from one story become the primary characters in the other story so im not left wondering what happened in the lives of those characters. To me the setting does not matter as long as the setting works for the story line but if i had to set a trilogy it would be in one of the more cosmopolitan city's such as New York, LA, Sydney, Monacco.

  9. I agree on the linked books, Sonali! That's part of why I love writing them, too.

    I've never been to Venice (haven't been on the other side of the world...yet :-) but it's one of many on my list of places I want to go!


  10. StacieD, I've been to Chicago a lot (since I live in the Midwest). It's not one of my favorites (Boston and New York are higher on my list) but I do enjoy pretty much all cities. I just love how busy they are, and the variety of foods and activities there.


  11. These books look good. I've added them to my TBR list.

    I really enjoyed Philadelphia but only been there once; same for San Francisco although I don't think I'd want to live there - just visit... often.
    I do like books that are linked by family. I think it allows us to get a fuller idea of the family dynamics, plus you can see how things work out after the end of the previous books.
    As for me writing a trilogy, I would probably make up a place - a mix of different cities. That way anyone's opinions of the city or preconceived notions are irrelevant and it's a clean slate just the way I imagine it.

    bas1chsemail at gmail dot com

  12. bas1chs, I love San Francisco, too! I've never been to Philadelphia, though I have been to other parts of PA before.

    I have made up small towns, just because I can put the coffee shop where I want, and add whatever things I need as the series goes on :-)


  13. I love stories that take place in North Carolina since that's where I'm from :) I totally love books that are all linked by family and friends. I think it makes for a wonderful collection and keeps the reader with glimpses of the past :) I would love to see a Trilogy set in Virginia Beach since I don't see many of them and that's where I grew up. Or, I would love to see one written in Rimersburg Pennsylvania...a little town where my mom and aunt and uncles grew up and NO one has ever heard of it.

    molly at reviewsbymolly dot com

  14. I've only been to North Carolina once, I think. It was gorgeous, though! Definitely not enough to write about it, though I'm always up for a field trip :-) We went to Virginia Beach on that same trip, but only saw the Navy stuff (DH is former Navy). Have you read the books by Adriana Trigiani? My friend lives in the area where those are set, and I've visited there often, so it's always a treat to recognize things/places I've seen.

  15. Out of all the cities I have visited I don't really have a favorite. I would love to visit London though. That is where I would set a trilogy.

    I do like books linked by family. I love the interactions that can only come from family.

  16. I have to say that my favorite city is Venice in Italy. I love stories that are linked by family, I love that I get to see more of the character I grow to love. If I could write a trilogy I would base it in Italy. I love the very alpha, protective, and possessive way that most Italians give in the stories.

  17. In the world I would have to say Paris. I went there with my family when I was younger. It holds good memories. But food wise, Dallas, Texaa. You can get all kinds of really good food there.

    I love books that are series. They don't have to be about families. But it seems to me that even if they don't involve actual blood families, the characters become family through friendship and heart.

  18. My favorite city is Vienna --- although I also like books set in my home state of Washington or really anywhere in the Pacific Northwest. I don't really like books in a series, although I do read books that are part of a series. Each story has to stand on its own merits before I decide to read it.
    And my favorite setting is a small town, in whatever corner of the world that it might be in.

  19. I really like stories set in Texas. I've read stories potraying a small town in Texas and even a big, fast-moving city and enjoy both. It seems like all kinds of characters can come from there and I most like the descriptions of the wide open spaces.

    I do like seeing sibblings get their own stories within a series. Usually if I end up falling for a character I do as well for the family and it's a treat to see them pop up in other books.

  20. Thank you so much for the absolutely fabulous contest! I love stories set in Texas and if the stories are linked even better ! My favourite city if I could write a trilogy would have to be anywhere in Italy it just has just always reminded me of romance I think love I think Italy !

    Thanks so much for the great give away !


  21. Great giveaway, thank you

    I love series set in Texas too and yes, the stories are linked to family so great :)

  22. In Australia I love Brisbane. But Melbourne is a close second. I've never been overseas but would love to visit the great cities of Europe.
    I like connected books, that way a book never really ends.

  23. Marybelle, I'd love to visit London, too! It's on my list for sure.

    Yazmin--Italy just sounds so amazing. Someday, hopefully, I get over there! My husband was in the Navy and has seen a good chunk of Europe.

    Kim, I agree with you on Texas! I've been to Dallas three or four times, and a couple other parts of Texas, too. LOVED the food and the hospitality!

    Renee, I tend to do small town books. Even those set in the city are in a microcosm of the big city, so it has that small town feel. I grew up in a small town, and still love that place the best :-)

    Na, Desere and Eli--Texas is pretty popular, LOL. I haven't read too many set there, but do love the area! I have written friends' linked books and family linked, and have to say I prefer family linked, too.

    PrincessFiona--I love that thought--that way a book never ends! Though sometimes as the author I am glad there's only so many family members, LOL, because it gets to be a LOT to keep track of! :-)


  24. I love series that extend the same family. Then you can see what's after the HEA!

    Fave cities.: New Orleans (I am originally from Louisiana) has so much culture!

    Panama City., Panama - History., culture

    Paris - history., culture., romance

  25. Hi Melinda! I've been to New Orleans a couple times. AMAZING food there. Makes my mouth water just to think about the barbecue shrimp I had last time :-) I haven't been to the other two you mentioned yet. My vacation list is growing by the minute :-)


  26. Hi, My favorite city are : Tokyo, North Carolina and New Zealand. I love and like the chemistry between family in the story.

    Thanks so much for this giveaway