Hi, Angela, congratulations on your debut release and thanks for being my guest today! Tell us a little about Beer and Groping in Las Vegas. I love the title. What inspired this story?
I work in a bookstore and was trying to think of possible titles for a new project (but one I didn’t have a premise for yet), and was shelving some Hunter S. Thompson, and I was like hmm, what could be a twist off of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, and first I was like Beer and Loathing, but I write lighthearted romances, and then ‘groping’ popped into my head. In the next instant I had the hero, as I thought he should be a microbrewer, and that the heroine would be an overworked software programmer. Once I had that, things started falling into place, including the description for him of being a geek trapped in a good ole boy’s body. I had that tagline for him before I even started writing the story. It was the first time I came up with a title first.
Can a djinn and a magic slot machine bring two geeks together?
Riley McGregor is a geek trapped in a Good Ole Boy body and as owner of a microbrewery, smart chicks never look at him twice.
Rejected by a geek who wanted to “trade up,” Mirjam Linna would rather immerse herself in work than be the girlfriend-of-the-moment. Stranded in a Vegas hotel, she makes a wish—a night of hot sex with the man of her dreams. It’s granted. She agrees to dinner, but afterward, she’ll say thanks, but no thanks, and see what’s on the SyFy channel. But when they meet, they’re surprised to find they had a shared connection in their past. Sparks fly as these two learn to be in the moment, be themselves and find love.
Fans of Star Trek, Star Wars, Monty Python, Firefly and Marvin the Martian will enjoy this romantic comedy.
How do you come up with ideas?
I keep a writing journal and will jot down ideas when they pop into my head, but generally if I’ve got a vague idea of maybe what kind of story I want to write, I sit down with that journal and just start writing What If? questions. I find I actually have to write these questions down in order for it to then spur my brain to go, okay, then what if this happens, oh and then what if? I try to tease out things this way not only to get details about characters, but also to try to see if I can tease it upward to get a high concept.
Can you share with us “the call” story?
This wasn’t a call but an email. I had one offer for the story, but it was with a new publisher that hadn’t published anything yet. The next day I got another, from Secret Cravings, saying they thought it was cute and asked if it part of a series. I answered back and let them know of this other offer. They answered back saying to look out for a contract. I literally teared up when I got that contract email, as I felt that all my hard work was starting to see some pay-off. That I wasn’t crazy for wanting to get into this gig.
What do you enjoy most about writing?
Coming up with the world I want to explore, researching it, and then trying to create that story I want to tell for the reader. Most of what I write are historicals, so I love to be able to try and paint the picture for the reader , weave in those little details. I love research!
Where do you start when writing? Research, plotting, character, or…?
A bit of all of that. I try to brainstorm a premise and then try to come up with the characters. I feel most comfortable when I know what they want, why they want it, what opposes them and what in their background is going to mess things up for them. I then try to come up with the major turning points and any scene ideas. I don’t outline, though. If it’s an historical, I’ll read some non-fiction books during the brainstorming phase.
Do you have a favorite time of day for writing?
I’m a reformed morning person. I used to be one of those that woke up just before I needed to be anywhere. I was the Snooze Queen. Since I got serious about writing and making it a priority in my life, I now wake up early enough where I have about 2 1/2 hours before I have to get ready for work and I use that time to write or do blog posts, etc. Basically anything that has to do with my writing career. I find I can get my writing goal for the day in before going to work, which is a great feeling. I also found that I was more creative in the morning, which was a real shocker.
What is your favorite food to cook or eat?
My food that I love to eat, but try not to have too much of, is Kraft Deluxe Macaroni and Cheese. I’m obviously not much of a cook! But lately I’ve expanded my skills to cooking a nice steak on the stove top. If I had to pick one type of cuisine, though, it would be Mexican. I can eat that every day.
What do you like to read?
Lots of stuff. I used to be better about alternating between non-fiction and fiction, but as I get older, I find I’m reading more fiction and less non-fiction. I read romances, of course, but I also love to read science fiction. For non-fiction, it’s usually history or historical biographies.
Who first introduced you to the love of reading?
My parents. Both of them are huge readers. I don’t remember ever remember not reading while growing up.
Mirjam rubbed the tiredness from her eyes, but the caterpillar from Alice in Wonderland still occupied the Rivenbark Hotel & Casino elevator with her. She blinked and squinted. Yep. And life-size. Complete with hookah.
Plastic squeaked against glass as the caterpillar shifted to make more room. It made eye contact.
“Er, nice costume,” Mirjam ventured.
“Thanks,” came the muffled reply.
The elevator swooped to a stop on the mezzanine level. A pirate and a Ghostbuster stepped on and pushed the lobby button. Mirjam angled back to avoid being knocked over by the guy’s Proton Pack.
“Convention?” Mirjam asked the caterpillar and it rewarded her with a nod.
Mirjam groaned inwardly. She’d attended her share, but now, they reminded her too much of The Turd, otherwise known as Brian. Great. She wanted to go home but apparently, that was asking too much—a blizzard in Ann Arbor nixed her flight this morning. Next chance to get out—tomorrow.
The elevator dinged at the lobby, and she headed to the hotel bar. Maybe she could salvage the day by squeezing in some work.
“What can I get you?” The bartender sported a headband with gold, sparkly antennae in her pink, cropped hair.
Mirjam pulled out her laptop. “Sprite, please.” Only a few others populated the bar, too early for drinking. Though this was Vegas. Pink Hair Lady plopped down Mirjam’s drink, the stir stick topped by a wiggling green rubber alien.
“So, which convention is this?” Mirjam motioned to a couple of Spartans walking by, though they probably shouldn’t have chosen that look.
“It’s ConVegas—sci-fi, fantasy, pop culture, that kind of thing. Doesn’t start until tomorrow, but we always get some folks early. What brings you here?”
“AppExpo that ended last night.” Mirjam connected to the hotel’s free WiFi. Time to figure out what caused her new app to choke while compiling.
Pink Hair Lady cocked her hip, fist resting on the bone. “Lemme guess. You’re always working, aren’t you?” She slid a glass bowl of pistachios over. “This is Vegas. You should be out having fun.”
Fun. Pfft. No time for that. “My flight got canceled and the timing blows. Too much to do. I didn’t want to come, but my partner thought it might be good for business.”
Mirjam shrugged and pulled up and scanned her code, hoping her fixed focus on the laptop would clue Chatty One to leave her alone.
“I’m Jenn, by the way.”
Mirjam peeked up and pasted on a smile. “Nice to meet you.” She tracked back to the code.
The bartender left to help another customer but returned her inquisitive butt a few minutes later. “So, Vegas at your feet and your nose is to the grindstone. This is truly what you wish to do with your unexpected free night?”
Mirjam gritted her teeth. If Jenn would stop pestering her, she might be able to figure out the rendering bug. “No. If I had my wish, I’d spend it having hot sex with the man of my dreams, but since that’s not going to happen…” she snapped.
The bartender’s eyes flashed for a second. Or had they literally flashed?
Mirjam shook her head. She really was tired. “Sorry. Don’t mind me.”
“No worries, I’ll leave you to your work.” Jenn smiled and strode to the other end of the bar.
No matter how long Mirjam stared at the code, the solution eluded her. Man, she could use a nap. She motioned to Jenn and settled her tab.
“Have fun in Vegas. Here,” Jenn fished in her back pocket, “try the slot machine on the corner there. On me.” She slid a dollar across the counter. “I hear one gets lucky with it.”
Mirjam tried to shove the bill back, but Jenn kept her hand in place, pinning the bill to the counter with a bright pink fingernail. “I insist.”
Oh, what would it hurt? “Okay, thanks. I will.”
She packed away her laptop and swung the bag over her shoulder. At the machine, she fed in the dollar and received three credits. Yank. Nothing. Yank. Nothing. Yank. Ding, ding, ding! Mirjam jumped back, a rotating red light atop the machine joining the cacophony.
What in the—
Mirjam peered into the output tray and scooped out a heavy-stock envelope with a pink wax seal, not the expected handful of chips one hopes for in Las Vegas. She flipped it over. Embossed on the front, her name—Mirjam Linna.
Angela works at an independent bookstore and lives in an historic house in the beautiful and quirky town of Mobile, AL, with her two matched gray cats, Darcy and Bingley. When she’s not writing, she enjoys the usual stuff like gardening, reading, hanging out, eating, drinking, chasing squirrels out of the walls and creating the occasional knitted scarf. She’s had a varied career, including website programming and directing a small local history museum.
She’s an admitted geek and is proud to be among the few but mighty Browncoats who watched Firefly the first night it aired. She was introduced to the wonderful world of science fiction by her father, by way of watching reruns of the original Star Trek in her tweens and later giving her a copy of Walter M. Miller Jr’s A Canticle for Leibowitz as a teenager. She hasn’t looked back since.
She has a B.A. in Anthropology and International Studies with a minor in German from Emory University, and a Masters in Heritage Preservation from Georgia State University. She was an exchange student to Finland in high school and studied abroad in Vienna one summer in college. She recently found representation with Maura Kye-Casella at Don Congdon, Assoc.
You can find Angela at:
You can find Beer and Groping in Las Vegas at: http://store.secretcravingspublishing.com/index.php?main_page=book_info&products_id=479