For many of us, the cold dark months of winter are fast approaching. We’ve got three fantastic new books for you to curl up with.
The three of us teamed up to chat about our new Bella books and share some odd tidbits about ourselves! Like 2020, our conversation is a bit scattered. We start with something we currently can’t do (travel) and end with something we’re doing a lot more of (cooking). Be sure to read all the way to the end for the scoop on a great giveaway!
Bella Books: What inspired you to write your December release? What’s its origin? Is it standalone or part of a series?
Stacy: From the Ashes is the second book in my Manhattan Sloane romantic thriller series from Bella Books. It started as a fanfiction piece in the world of Showtime’s The L Word. About halfway through drafting its predecessor, Out of the Flames, when I’d hit Manhattan Sloane with her first devastating blow, I knew right then I wasn’t done challenging her. That’s when I started outlining Ashes. In fact, the same day I typed “The End” in Flames, I began cranking out the first chapter of Ashes. That’s how connected I was to the story that reflected much of the challenges I faced in my personal life at the time—four strokes over two years. I decided to throw one obstacle after another at Sloane and see how she made it through the other side, hoping I’d do the same.
Louise: The name for Maybe Charlotte literally popped up on my phone when the daughter of a friend texted me about an apartment I was renting. I didn’t have Charlotte recorded in my contacts, but my cellphone guessed who she was because her mom had previously texted me her phone number. Maybe Charlotte? I seized on it as a book title and wrote my story around it. The funny thing is that the real Charlotte, former tenant/current neighbor, has a sister named Lily, which is the name of the love interest in the novel. Totally giving them the book for Christmas.
Cade: Jackpot is about Ty, a woman who wins mega millions in the lottery. The idea for this story came to me when I read about a person who’d won the lottery and proceeded to do a long list of crazy and stupid things. They ended up broke without much to show for it. Most people fantasize about what they’d do if they won millions, but I got to thinking, what would happen if you actually won? Would it change you? Would it change the people around you? Who would you turn to for advice? Who could you trust? Would you opt to remain anonymous if you could? Ty learns the answers to these questions in Jackpot from Bella Books.
Bella: What’s your vision for a perfect writing spot?
Stacy: I write best when I shut off the outside world. I love sitting in my warm bed when the house is dark and entirely still with only the glow of my Surface Pro screen. It’s just me and my words, and I become part of the world I’ve created.
Louise: My favorite place to write is my front porch in Washington, DC. We live on a busy suburban street, but the porch is partially obscured by a hedge allowing me to watch people on the sidewalk without being seen myself. It’s stimulating to see neighbors going about their lives. I imagine what they are doing and sometimes put them in my stories.
Cade: For me, the ideal writing spot is a cabin in the woods. Total silence except for the birds chirping and the sound of a crackling fire. Alas, I also live in Washington, DC (a city I absolutely love), so I rarely get to write in a remote cabin. Luckily, I like writing in the middle of a bustling city, too.
Bella: How many countries have you visited? Where are some unusual places you’ve been to?
Stacy: Growing up, I left California twice—once to Nevada and once to Hawaii. Then for 20 years, the Air Force dictated where I traveled. I was stationed at Yokota Air Base near Tokyo, Japan in the early 1990s. Their Ice Festival on the northern island of Sapporo was spectacular—street after street of giant, intricate ice sculptures. I once deployed on the USS Mount Whitney and spent a month in the North Sea. That trip took me to England, Norway, and Iceland. Reykjavik was a blast. It was like the New Orleans French Quarter, only colder. Every corner had a bar with a live band, playing 1970’s American music. My final deployment was to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, following 9/11. My office had an incredible view of the Caribbean Sea and a Patriot missile battery.
Louise: My list of foreign countries won’t fit on one hand but doesn’t exceed two. I’ve seen some beautiful places though nowhere terribly adventurous. I tend to gravitate to cities with guided tours of chocolate factories, air-conditioning, and hair dryers. My favorite country to visit is Italy, where I have an AFS sister. Martina came to us on a high school exchange program, and we never let her go.
Cade: I just pulled out the atlas and made a list of countries I’ve visited. Thirty-three, I think, including my own, the US. I was actually surprised it wasn’t more because my wife and I have traveled a ton. It helps that we lived in the Netherlands for a few years, and I spent much of my career working in the airline industry. To count a country, I had to have spent at least 24 hours there and ventured outside the airport–connecting somewhere doesn’t count in my book! Some of the most interesting places I’ve been: Rwanda, Egypt, New Zealand, Japan, and Peru. My wife and I like to explore cities on foot, and I especially like active vacations where we hike or bike in places.
Bella: Three things on your bucket list (that you haven’t yet crossed off)?
Stacy: I wouldn’t call it a bucket list. It’s more of a wish list. (1) Visit all 50 states in the US. I still have to hit Wisconsin, North Dakota, and Vermont. (2) Visit Australia once. (3) Write and have published six books before my central vision fails me.
Louise: I don’t like the idea of bucket lists because they make me think of my own mortality. I don’t like buckets because they make me think of mopping. As a child, I HATED that song about the hole in the bucket because it went on way too long, but I liked Charlie Bucket from Willie Wonka because a life-time supply of chocolate is very appealing. I should probably move on to another question.
Cade: Ha, Louise, I’ve never really been a big bucket list person either. But so funny you mention the song “There’s a Hole In The Bucket.” My family and I love to sing that song together (usually after a few bottles of wine). Stacy, I’m two short on visiting all 50 states, and I’m also missing North Dakota (and Hawaii).
Bella: Have you had any unusual jobs? If so, what were they? What were the first few jobs you had?
Stacy: My first job was at 10 years old. I made $1 an hour buffing jewelry pieces for the 1974 World Expo in Spokane at my parent’s side business. At 13, I started my own car wash and waxing business. I made a bundle off the Junior High School teachers at the end of the street. After several years of cashiering in high school and college, my first job in the Air Force was commanding a flight of 44 men and women who guarded nuclear missiles in Montana. It was a lot of responsibility for a 22-year-old.
Louise: The first summer out of college, I managed a patio furniture store in a forgotten strip mall in Roswell, Georgia. All the merchandise was made of PVC, and the sales pitch was that if you could bury something underground for fifty years and not worry about it, then you could certainly leave it in the backyard. But no one ever came into the store. So, I just read books all day – twenty-six novels in three months. Best job ever.
Cade: As a kid, I had a newspaper route. When I got older, I was a camp counselor and a ski instructor. The most unusual job I had was probably in college. My sister and I were both “casual carriers”– contract workers the US Postal Service hires to work in the summer when all the regular carriers are on vacation. It was a fascinating job, and I wish I’d kept a journal. It would have provided me with a lot of material to include in my books. Oh, and I drove a taxi on Cape Cod one summer, too. It was before GPS, and I got lost a lot.
Bella: What’s your favorite pastime, and how did you get introduced to it?
Stacy: Golfing. Most of my family golfs, so I was around it for years. After I retired from the Air Force, I took up the game by joining a woman’s club at the nearby Air Force base. I fell into an incredible group of ladies. We travel around the area, golfing different courses, meeting for lunch, and sharing lots of stories and cocktails.
Louise: I love to hike. I live near the Potomac River, and almost every day, I tramp down the hill with my buddies to see what’s up with Mother Nature. It’s combination social-hour, exercise, and art therapy. Often, I find weird things washed up on the flood plain and drag them home to create art. My backyard looks like witches r ‘us.
Cade: Skiing is my all-time favorite thing to do. My dad first got me on skis when I was around five, and I was hooked. My family and I skied most winter weekends at a tiny little mountain in Upstate New York when I was growing up. I ski raced all the way through college, and upon earning my degree, promptly became a ski bum in Colorado.
I also enjoy biking, and like Stacy, playing golf. I met my wife playing golf. 🙂 And I love hiking too! In fact, Louise and I sometimes hike together along the Potomac. She and her friends are a blast.
Bella: What is something good that’s happened to you in 2020?
Stacy: My debut novel, Out of the Flames, released from Bella Books amid the pandemic and did surprisingly well. Enough so that Tantor Media picked up the audio rights to it and From the Ashes, which releases in ebook and paperback in December. Both audiobooks should be out in spring 2021 (March and April).
Cade: What Louise said.
Bella: What’s something you are proud of?
Stacy: Not giving up despite an abundance of health challenges. Back-to-back-to-back-to-back strokes had me sidelined for the better part of two years, and Macular Telangiectasia Type 2, a disease that has no cure or approved treatment, is now stripping away my central vision. No matter what life throws at me, I find a way to adapt and move on to the next chapter.
Louise: I am proud of the relationship my two daughters have with each other. I am close friends with both my sisters, and my girls have continued the family tradition. Knowing I have modeled behavior that will serve them for the rest of their lives gives me immeasurable pleasure, pride, and peace.
Cade: I’m proud of the relationships I have with so many of my old friends. We’ve gotten each other through some tough times, but no matter what, laughing with them makes everything better.
Bella: Do you like to cook? If so, what are the things you like to make?
Stacy: Is microwaving considered cooking? If it is, then I’m a pro. I cook the basics, nothing fancy. Years ago, I added a twist to my grandmother’s Swiss Steak stew recipe—sliced hot dogs. It wasn’t the healthiest, but the addition enticed my girls to give it a try. It’s now a family staple.
Louise: I love to cook. Like writing, it requires creativity, timing, and wine—all things in my wheelhouse. I discover new recipes by typing the contents of my pantry into Google until a recipe comes up that doesn’t take more than 37 minutes and has five-star reviews with modifications that involve cheese.
Cade: I like to cook, but I rarely do. My wife and I usually have cheese and crackers for dinner. If we go really crazy, we might add some prosciutto and olives to the plate. But I love Louise’s idea of googling for a recipe based on the contents of your pantry. Brilliant! And I concur. No meal is complete without an abundance of cheese.
Make sure to pick up our new novels at BellaBooks.com
Retweet or share this post from Bella Books authors Stacy Lynn Miller, Louise McBain, and Cade Haddock Strong on Facebook or Twitter by December 15th for a chance to win an autographed copy of all three of our December releases!
A late bloomer, Stacy Lynn Miller took up writing after retiring from the Air Force. Her twenty years of toting a gun and police badge, tinkering with computers, and sleuthing for clues as an investigator form the foundation of her Manhattan Sloane romantic thriller series. Visually impaired, she is a proud stroke survivor, mother of two, tech nerd, chocolate lover, and terrible golfer with a hole-in-one. When you can’t find her writing, she’ll be golfing or drinking wine (sometimes both) with friends and family in Northern California.
Cade Haddock Strong spent many years working in the airline industry, and she and her wife have traveled all over the world. When not writing, she loves to be outside, especially skiing, hiking, biking, and playing golf. She grew up in Upstate New York but has lived all over the US and abroad, from the mountains of Vermont and Colorado to the bustling cities of DC, Chicago and Amsterdam.
Louise McBain lives with her family and pets in Washington, DC.