Monday, February 8, 2010

Author Interview ~ Amber Leigh Williams

Today on The Menagerie couch we have with us author Amber Leigh Williams. Let’s all give her a warm welcome, and make her feel at home. The cabana boys are on hand to … help in whatever way they can. We’ll make sure she puts them through their paces.

Welcome to The Menagerie Amber. It’s great to have you here with us today. Let’s get started. Where are you from?

The Gulf Coast. I’ve lived in Alabama most of my life, but did a brief stint on the Atlantic Coast of Florida for a couple of years. We’re never far from the beach! In fact, I live only ten miles or so from one now!

Wow, must be nice! I love the beach… as long as I don’t have to swim in the water… don’t ask. So, tell us your latest news.

Aside from the exciting amount of interest in my paranormal series, which will probably be published under another pen name, I found out in September that the last book in my western romance trilogy, Bet It On My Heart, would be published by The Wild Rose Press. I’ve been through the galleys and the cover recently and it will be released March 3, 2010. I’m really excited about this one! My historical romance was also recently given top-rating as a “Best Book” at Long & Short Reviews. Readers and peers also voted it “Best Book of the Week.”

Yup, all great news! Congrats on the upcoming releases and the Best Book rating over at LASR! Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

Bluest Heart, book two in my western romance trilogy, surprised me because my heroine was a challenge. Due to certain “bad girl” activities, it was difficult to make her sympathetic. Thanks to a great deal of patience from my editor, I was able to delve down deep inside her. In the end, the book had the same healing theme as the first, Blackest Heart, which I didn’t expect. But it made the story that much more beautiful. I’m more happy with it, probably, than anything I’ve done up to this point.

Gotta love it when the story comes together like that. When you’ve put that much energy into making sure your character comes across how you’d like them to. Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?

I suppose she’s not all that new, but I recently picked up Ann Aguirre’s Grimspace and absolutely love Sirantha Jax. I haven’t been this excited about a heroine since Eve Dallas. The rest of the series is on my wish list! Jessica Anderson’s Final Prophecy series gets me really amped up as well. Can you tell I’m an adrenaline junkie when it comes to what I read? LOL

Hmmm… haven’t heard of Ann Aguirre… but then I read so much half the time I can’t always keep track of everyone. Since I love Eve as a heroine and I can’t get enough of Jessica Anderson I think I’ll have to take a look at her as well. What are your current projects?

As I mentioned, I’m working on a paranormal series. I’m currently on book three out of five. As soon as it is complete, I’d like to write a paranormal western trilogy or a more fantasy-driven series.

Sounds like fun! Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.

Romance Writers of America® was the best thing I ever did for my career. I joined my local chapter and was contracted for publication less than six months later thanks to everything I learned and the encouragement and direction of the amazing people I met.

Can’t beat that kind of support. Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?

For some reason, I’m more drawn to the emotional scenes. Action scenes tend to make me draw back and procrastinate. All those active verbs, I think.

LOL! Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?

Hands down, that would have to be Nora Roberts. She really sets the bar with her characters, dialogue, descriptive voice… I can only strive to be as good as her. I think if anyone in the world was born to write, it was Nora Roberts.

She’s a good choice. :-D Who designed the covers of your books?

I owe my fantastic covers mostly to the amazing Tamra Westberry of The Wild Rose Press. She is the go-to designer for all the Wayback, TX series titles, which include Blackest Heart, Bluest Heart, Bet It On My Heart, and The Way Back Home. I was also lucky to get Tamra’s design for A Summer’s Hope, my contemporary romance. My first TWRP cover, Denied Origin, was designed by the talented Rae Monet. It received the October 2008 Covey Cover Award.

Well, they certainly do good work. The covers are gorgeous. How long does it take you to write a book?

When I begin, I hope for three months. But lately my completion rate has slowed because of editorial deadlines and promotional obligations as well as volunteer work for my local chapter. Realistically, five months if I write at least 500 words a day. Then I go back and polish when writing slows on the next WIP.

*sigh* I’m jealous, I can never seem to work that fast. What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?

I have to snack the entire time. I have a high metabolism that allows me to do this, thankfully. Oftentimes when I’m writing, I’ll skip meals. So it’s important for me to stabilize my appetite with stuff from the kitchen pantry. If I’m writing a scary scene in my paranormal, my husband has to be in the house somewhere. I tried writing one while I was home alone during a storm once and thoroughly creeped myself out. I don’t think I’ll ever be the same. :-D

LOL, I snack a lot too, and I creep myself out without even writing… so I am so right there with ya. What do you like to do when you're not writing?

I have a day job that thankfully takes up no more than twenty hours out of my work week. When I’m not doing that or writing, I’m usually either reading, taking a bath (helps me get in touch with my muse), or spending time with my family. I’ve found that having a simple life is the best balance for an overactive imagination. My everyday life balances out all those eccentricities that come with being a writer.

That’s a great philosophy to have. What does your family think of your writing?

They’re supportive, but I still think on some level the fact that I write romance novels either puzzles or amuses them. Or both. I’ve had several male cousins tell me they love me but they won’t be reading my love stories. And that’s all right because I tell people that if you don’t usually care for romance, I don’t expect you to read my work. Give it to someone who does like a good love story.

LOL, yup… my father tells me, “I’m proud of you, but I won’t be reading your stuff… cuz you’re my little girl and you don’t do those things.” Do you have any suggestions to help me become a better writer? If so, what are they?

Pace yourself. I started out as an overachiever. I set impossible goals for myself and at the end of the day I was either utterly exhausted or completely disappointed in myself. You have to set realistic goals or you’re just setting yourself up for failure and you won’t love the writing anymore.

Excellent advice. Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?

I get more fan letters about Blackest Heart than anything else. The feedback has been very positive and readers can’t know what that does for my soul. Nothing brightens my day like a new fan letter. Just that you took the time not only to read the book, but to write to tell me how much you enjoyed it…there’s no better feeling in the world!

I’ll bet! I can only imagine right now. As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?

Hm…let’s see. I wanted to be a mermaid like Ariel. I wanted to be an English/Language Arts teacher, a marine scientist, an Olympic gymnast, a physical therapist. I wanted to marry Prince William or Brian from the Backstreet Boys. Or both, Will being first as he’s not really allowed to wed a divorcee. Brian’s a good, southern man. I could see myself settling down with him on a farm somewhere. I had a lot of dreams, which helped my imagination grow and develop. I may not be all these things, but I get to live through so much more with my characters. And I’m very happily married to a man who is neither a prince nor a member of a boy band.

LOL, I can’t say I wanted to be a mermaid, but we all have our dreams. I wanted to be a ballerina, that was one dream I achieved. And now for our “Absolutely-nothing-to-do-with-writing Questions”: What animal do you think makes the best pet and why?

I’m biased, but I’ll say dogs. I have three labs and I couldn’t love them more. I’d really love to have about ten of them, all rescues. Maybe my husband and I get that farm.

LOL, I’m a dog person too. :-D Do you have any strange handwriting habits, like capitalizing all your “r”s or dotting your “I”s with heart (or anything like that)?

As a teenager, I couldn’t decide if I wanted my primary handwriting to be print or cursive so now I’m cursed with a habit to mix it up. Not every other word, but every other letter. Somehow those wires got crossed and I fear it’ll be this way for the rest of my life, LOL

LOL, I mix mine up, although not that consistently. When you looked in the mirror this morning, what was the first thing you thought?

When I’m writing, I tend to run my hands through my hair a lot so it ends up looking like what my husband fondly refers to as the “lion’s mane.” That’s what I saw in the mirror this morning after writing until 1 a.m. then sleeping on top of that. My bed-head is in no way heroine-quality.

ROTFL, who says? My heroines would have marvelous bed head, lol. What were you doing at midnight last night?

Writing an action scene I’d been dreading for a week. Went more smoothly than I thought, action verbs and all.

Love that. Have you ever eaten a crayon?

Unfortunately yes. I still remember how it tasted. I believe it was Green Apple. And no, it didn’t taste like Granny Smith.

How fair is that? I think if they call it Green Apple it should taste like Apple… What is your heritage?

I’m primarily German and my husband is primarily Czech. Somewhat of an unstable brew though we’re oddly compatible. I’m also very proud of my Irish and Native American heritage mixed in there as well.

LOL, I can claim the Irish, German and Native American heritage as well. I think those three always make for an interesting mix. Have you ever cried during a movie? If yes, which one and why?

Movies I can’t watch for this reason are On Golden Pond, Lord of the Rings: Return of the King, Becoming Jane, and The Notebook. I’ve yet to meet anyone who doesn’t have trouble watching any of these.

LOL What is your favorite pizza?

I love ham on my pizza. And flat-crust. I’m not a fan of crust at all.

What is one thing scientists should invent?

A printer that can survive me. I’m the ultimate technology tester. I’m very rough on efficient machinery, especially when it isn’t being efficient.

I don’t have problems with printers… but laptops seem to be magnets for trouble in my house. Are you a morning person or a night person?

I’ve always been a night owl. My husband’s a morning person. I try not to talk to him until nine a.m. 

LOL, how funny is it that we night owls end up with morning people? You’d think we’d be incompatible but somehow we’re not. Can you taste the difference between Pepsi and Coke? If so, which do you prefer?

Yes! I’m a Coke girl. Pepsi’s just too sweet. And everyone thinks I’m crazy for thinking that there is a difference. I know I’m not the only one!

I can totally taste the difference, too… but I’m on the other side of the fence. LOL If you could wish for anything, what would you wish for?

A printer that can survive me. Or maybe just good health for my family!

I sense a theme with the printer… lol. Thank you so much, Amber, for hanging out with us today! I hope the Cabana Boys keep you company. Help yourself to the refreshments in the fridge and enjoy yourself. :-D

Amber Leigh Williams is a multi-published romance author, a member of Romance Writers of America, PRO Liaison and former Secretary of her local RWA chapter, and monthly contributor to Romance Writers United's "Write Right" newsletter. Her first western romance, Blackest Heart, was the 2009 1st Place More Than Magic Novella. She blogs weekly at The Roses of Prose ( and lives on the Gulf Coast of Alabama with her husband and three labs. Learn more about Amber and her books at her website ( and her blog, The Cozy Page (

Bluest Heart by Amber Leigh Williams

The Wayback bachelor is a dying breed, but that doesn't stop Casey Ridge from wanting to settle down. For this cowboy anyone but Josie Brusky would be an easy wrangle. Unfortunately for him, the Blue Bug singer and owner of Josie's Treasures doesn't believe in commitment much less marriage.

Years ago, Josie lost her heart to Casey's charm and dimpled smile. Since then she has done everything she knows to forget him. After all, she’s known as the local harlot and the daughter of the town’s biggest bigot. Casey could have any girl he wanted. Why would he saddle himself with her? In the wake of a shattering past, she refuses to give up her independence.

Casey digs down deep to win her over, but does he have what it takes to win Wayback's bluest heart?


Amber Leigh Williams said...

Thank you for the interview, Menagerie! And, hey, your cabana boys are fun! I think I'll hang around for a while and drink a pina colada ;)


Donna Marie Rogers said...

Wow, Amber, now that was an interview! LOL I hope to write a horror novel one day (still waiting for the perfect plot to pop into my head), and I can't even imagine being home alone while writing the scary scenes!

Amber Leigh Williams said...

Hi Donna - thanks for stopping by!

I'm chicken so it was pretty silly of me to try to write that graveyard scene all alone. Now I know if I'm going to be alone and I'm forced to write a scary scene, a shot or two of liqueor helps calm the heebeegeebee, lol

Kealie Shay said...

LOL, Amber, I'm glad the boys were so... helful. :-D Juan mixes a mean Margarita. It was fun doing your interview and hanging out with you.