"My Unconditional Valentine" is a continuation of Sasha and Drake's journey. They met and their romance began blossoming in "A Naughty Jolly Christmas". In this interview, Denise talks about various items related to "The Holiday Chronicles", and a few fun facts about her writing process.
Thanks for joining me again, Denise! It's always a pleasure having you do a guest spot on my blog.
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Hello VJ! Thank you so much for once again featuring me on your blog. It’s always a pleasure visiting with you and discussing my latest work. I’m excited to announce that my most recent novella, “My Unconditional Valentine,” was released on February 8th by eXtasy books! It’s the second installment in my series “The Holiday Chronicles,” and picks up where the first installment, “A Naughty Jolly Christmas,” left off. Here’s a sneak peek:
Even the most perfectly laid holiday plans sometimes go awry…
Entertainment industry “it” couple Sasha Williams and Drake Lancaster are still going strong. Her impeccable publicist skills have kept him on the A-list, helping Drake land the lead role in a major Valentine’s Day movie. When filming wraps, the couple plan on heading to Cabo San Lucas, inviting both their families along to meet for the first time.
But plans go astray when Drake reverts back to his bad boy ways during filming and gets into a huge altercation with the director. He’s booted from the movie and replaced by Mitch Morrison, a hot young African-American actor who’s recently taken Hollywood by storm.
While Drake struggles to repair his image, Mitch hires Sasha to help manage his burgeoning career. The move infuriates Drake, but Sasha insists it’s a great business opportunity. She doesn’t realize Drake’s threatened by Mitch’s good looks and charismatic personality and is worried the pair will bond over their African-American heritage.
The stress of it all puts a strain on the couple’s relationship, especially when Mitch admits to Sasha that he’s developed feelings for her and she realizes the sentiments may be mutual. With the pressures of Sasha and Drake’s rocky union continuing to mount, the anticipation of their families meeting, and Sasha’s elusive affections towards Mitch, the couple can’t help but wonder whether their once booming relationship is about to crash. In the end, they must figure out whether their love is strong enough to withstand these challenges and carry them through this Valentine’s Day.
Interview with Denise N. Wheatley
1) Your newest release with eXtasy Books, “My Unconditional Valentine” is a continuation of “A Naughty Jolly Christmas”. What made you decide to turn Sasha and Drake’s story into a series?
That’s a great question, and the answer is very interesting. I honestly hadn’t thought about creating a series based on “A Naughty Jolly Christmas” until I realized eXtasy Books had added that little fact to my contract! So I thought about it and figured it’d be fun to carry the characters’ journey into various holiday-themed novellas. That’s how “The Holiday Chronicles” series came about.
2) Was the love triangle in “My Unconditional Valentine” with Mitch planned, or did it come to you as you were writing the actual story?
Adding Mitch’s character to “My Unconditional Valentine” was definitely planned prior to writing the story. During the outlining process, I pondered where Sasha and Drake’s relationship should pick up at this point. In the beginning of the second installment, they’re both doing very well in their careers and things are going great in their relationship. But as readers will find out, all that changes, leaving their situation vulnerable enough for a third party to creep in and create turmoil between them.
3) What was your Kryptonite with this particular segment of Sasha and Drake’s journey?
It would have to be writing about the struggles in their relationship. I’m one of those writers who believes that my characters are real people lol. So seeing them deal with negative issues strong enough to possibly tear them apart was sometimes difficult to write. And as much as I like Mitch’s character, I couldn’t help but root for Sasha and Drake.
4) What was the easiest part of writing this novella?
The easiest part was connecting my real-life love of Hollywood to various aspects of the story. I really enjoy writing about movie stars, film production, tabloids and blogs, etc. So penning things like Drake confronting a director on set, the bad press he receives, and Sasha’s efforts to clean up his image as his publicist was a lot of fun for me.
5) There are two more installments of The Holiday Chronicles series. Will we be seeing more of Drake and Sasha’s journey via those books?
Yes, I will definitely delve further into Drake and Sasha’s relationship in the upcoming installments. I may branch out and bring other secondary characters into the forefront, like Sasha’s best friend Amanda who works at her PR firm, and one or two of Drake’s filmmaker associates. I’ll have to see where my brainstorming sessions take me and go from there. Who knows, there may even be a wedding and baby in Drake and Sasha’s future…
6) Does Drake ever get his Oscar?
I so want Drake to get his Oscar! I won’t give anything away as far as what’s already happened and what I have planned. Let’s just say Drake is working hard to be taken seriously as an actor and land award-worthy roles.
7) How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?
After publishing my first book (“I Wish I Never Met You,” which was released by Simon & Schuster), I realized that I had to continue writing from the heart. That first book is what I’d call chick lit with a mix of comedy and drama. For my second project, I wanted to do a romance that was more drama than comedy. I decided not to worry about what sold for me that first time out and to just write what I felt. I also began outlining my books more extensively in the beginning stages of my writing process, which really helps keep me focused and on track.
8) What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
I usually start writing my books then perform research as I go. I actually love doing research and depend heavily on the internet for information. I oftentimes begin with Google searches then go from there. I also have plenty of reference books that I turn to. I try to be as accurate as possible in my work, so I’ll spend however much time it takes to gather information during my writing process.
9) How do you select the names of your characters?
My characters’ names usually just pop into my head when I’m brainstorming or writing the synopsis. If I’m stuck on finding a name for a certain character, I’ll research baby name websites and try my best to find something fitting based on the character’s personality traits.
10) Have you ever published anything as an Independent (Indie) author? If so, please tell us about your experience.
I have published books independently, and for starters, it’s a lot of work! You’re responsible for so much, such as editing, designing the cover, formatting the book properly, uploading it onto the various websites for purchasing and taking it to print (if you’re going that route). You’re managing all of your own promotion as well. So while you do have complete control over every aspect of your project, you’re also performing all the labor. At this point in my career, I definitely prefer traditional over indie publishing.
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