Behind the Words: Author Tina DeSalvo

ElliTina is offering 2 ebook copies of Jewell’s story, and a $20 Amazon gift card to one lucky commentor!

Reader’s Entertainment is thrilled to welcome bestselling author Tina DeSalvo to Behind the Words. Welcome Tina, tell us a bit about yourself. Where you’re from, where you live? Do you have one of those day-jobs?

Hi Jocie and thank you for inviting me to join you on this wonderful blog! I grew up in New Orleans and after college moved south west of the city, not very far away. I currently live in the heart of Cajun Country- which I love. I first moved there for work and then stayed for family. I married a very handsome Cajun man and we have two wonderful sons (now adults).

How long have you been writing?

As soon as I discovered those 26 letters in the alphabet formed words. Yeah, I’m one of those writers who had a marbled notebook and wrote stories and poems from childhood on. And, no…sadly, I don’t still have those notebooks. One of the floods that swept through our area stole them from me.

Briefly describe your writing day.

I wish I could tell you that I got up every day and wrote x number of words before getting on with a normal day. My writing is much more manic than that. I do much better working on deadline. That’s my training as a journalist- I love deadlines (weird, huh?). So, when I am on deadline and really cranking out my story-  my day usually begins with me getting up-at whatever time I wake (always contingent on what time I fell into bed the night before). Once my eyes are open, I have a few (by few I mean at least three) cups of good Louisiana coffee. While enjoying my coffee, I generally walk in my garden, barefoot, to see what’s blooming, about to bloom or needs to be harvested.  This walk is really important. It gives me time to wake up fully and time to think about what needs to happen next for my work in progress. It is already mostly plotted, but I love to allow for creative bends and changes from the original plot. Then, I return inside, or set up my writing area in my screened porch (depending on the Louisiana heat) to check Facebook, twitter and Instagram (I love hearing from readers), and if I can’t find anything else to distract me, I start writing.  I may pause for lunch and dinner, but generally I write until my eyelids flutter close for the tenth time.  Oh and I try to take a break to do something active—aka exercise.

Tell us about your latest release?

Thanks for asking! I love to talk about my people—Elli and Ben, Jewell and Beau, Abby and Jackson and Rachel and Dante’ are my main people but, there are so many other characters that are in their lives. These three stories are part of my Second Chance Novel series, with two more coming very soon. Let me talk about the first book in the series- Elli- because it’s the first time we are introduced to Sugar Mill plantation and the people who are connected to it. Elli has inherited half a Louisiana bayou plantation. She’s from California and has no use for the plantation except to use the money from its’ sale to help fund the foundation she founded that is now in dire financial need. The money from its most  important fundraiser has been stolen. As a breast cancer survivor, Elli has redefined her life now that the cancer treatment is over. The foundation is important and so is living her life unencumbered. Ben, the Cajun man whom inherited the plantation with her, doesn’t want to sell it. The plantation has been in his family for over 200 years. He not only has his dog training facility on the property, he wants to keep the plantation in his family for his young son. Playful dogs, interfering family, Cajun culture, Mardi Gras parades and a stubborn man known as the Cajun Dog whisperer….have Elli trying to figure out how she is to navigate this very different place to get what she wants…while discovering what it is she really needs.

Are your characters entirely fictitious or have you borrowed from real world people you know?

I was a reporter in southern Louisiana for a very long time.  I had the honor of meeting people in their most triumphant and tragic times. I was often welcomed into their homes and lives. While my characters in Elli, Jewell, Rachel and Abby are all fictitious, they are inspired from the wonderful people I have met in my life and work.

unknownWhere did you get the idea from?

I am a breast cancer survivor. While I was in treatment, I wondered, if I wasn’t married, if I was a young single woman, how would this frightening and difficult time change the way I lived my life. It had already done so in my own life. If I was a single woman, would I want a long-term relationship when the fear of recurrence was so strong? That was how I created Elli.  I began to write her story. That story changed when I finished my last chemo treatment and walked out the cancer center.  Under bright blue skies, I paused and thought…what do I do now? The immediate, consuming battle against cancer was over, I was thrilled, but I still was fearful the cancer might return. I hadn’t expected that. What was I to do with my life-this second chance?  Elli now became a story of her life after the cancer treatment ends and her life begins anew.

Would you share one detail from your current release with readers that they might not find in the book?

Current release? Since Abby isn’t out just yet, and soon will be my current release, I’ll will answer this question with my second book in the series, Jewell. Jewell is the foremost authority on Louisiana history and antiquities in the state but has been accused of an incident that has ruined her reputation. As the primary caregiver of her beloved grandmother, Mignon, who has advanced dementia, she has to continue to work. That brings her to Sugar Mill plantation to take a job cleaning out the attic where old furniture and items are stored. I write with humor, although I deal with some serious topics. So, I had to find a way to be sensitive to Mignon’s dementia, but find humor in Jewell’s dire situation. I do that through dialogue and odd situations. Enter…Tante Izzy, the Bienvenu family matriarch- or as she calls herself, the queen.  I love Tante’ Izzy, but she’s very protective of her family and is unhappy with another old lady acting oddly around them.  The detail no one really knows is that I thought about my mother, Ann and her sister, Mary. It was their sibling relationship when they were in their 90’s that I used for inspiration in creating the relationship between Tante Izzy and Mignon. My mom and her sister were darling together, as well as feisty, argumentative, loving, and competitive, too. The love between Aunt Mary and my mom, Ann, always, always was evident regardless what heated discussion they were having. I wanted to make sure that I conveyed that love in the relationships with Tante Izzy, Mignon, Jewell and Beau even when it got pretty crazy.

Who has been the most difficult character for you to write? (Any of your books)

I’m smiling, because the answer is always the characters I am currently writing. After the book is finished, I only think of how much I love them…especially the irresistible heroes.

If you could be one of your characters for a day which character would it be? Why?

Oh, my! I’d want to be a little bit and a lot of all of them.  They have such drama in their lives though, so, I definitely want to live a day after they have resolved their problems….lol…not before. Come on, let’s face it. Who wouldn’t want to be thin, gorgeous, intelligent and happy with the hot guy?

What are you working on now?

I’m doing final edits for Abby, a Second Chance Novel, that will be released late this summer.  Abby is Elli’s BFF and her attorney. She is Hollywood Royalty by way of her very famous actor parent, and grandparents. She’s in trouble. She is being accused of the Breast Cancer Foundation theft that we learned about in Elli’s story and discovered more about in Jewell’s story. Abby and Elli had created the foundation after they met while both in Breast Cancer treatment.  Jackson, freshly retired as Navy Jag, has hired Abby who has come to the Sugar Mill plantation to escape the paparazzi and media frenzy over her being named as suspect number one.  She was a high-powered Los Angeles attorney and now is basically working as Jackson’s assistant-slash-go-fer. This is a really fun story—that has a mystery to solve and I think, feels a little sexier.

We all know how important it is for writers to read. Are there any particular authors that have influenced how you write and, if so, how have they influenced you?

Cherry Adair is at the very tippy top of my list.  Not only is she an amazing author (I enjoy reading her wonderful books), she is an excellent teacher and an empathetic human being.  I learned to plot from Cherry and not be such a pantser. This has made my stories faster-paced and cleaner. Cherry also generously shares with aspiring authors her knowledge of the business of publishing and promoting- so, so important.  I can never thank her enough for her influence!

Another special person, who I called a dear friend like Cherry and who has been a big influence to me, isn’t an author. Kate Duffy was an editor. There were many ways that she influenced me with her no nonsense and insightful knowledge of writers, great stories and the writing industry. She once told me when I was being philosophical (okay, maybe a bit whiny) about when a writer should know when it was time to give up on either pursuing or not advancing their writing career. She told me, why would you ever stop doing what you love. Brilliant! She was right. Even before I ever pursued getting my stories published, I wrote. I wrote for the joy of it. I wrote because it was what I did. It was part of me.  It changed the way I thought about my stories and why I wrote them.

Also inspiring me with their amazing books are Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Maggie Osbourne, Janet Evanovich, Heather Graham….oh, my…there are so many more….

If you could have dinner with any writer living or dead, who would it be and why?

Ugh. How do I answer this question?  I need a banquet hall, not a private table. Honestly, I can’t answer this question, there are so many writers I admire both living and deceased.

Do you have a secret talent readers would be surprised by?

Haha. If I tell you, it won’t be a secret any more. If you mean secret talent -like whistling the theme to Phantom of the Opera while doing cartwheels…um, no. I can’t do that and have no secret talents like that. LOL. I’ve been told, I can make real sounding kitten mewing sounds. IDK.

Your favorite go to drink or food when the world goes crazy!

Coffee with warm Half/half.  Sigh.

What is the one question you never get ask at interviews, but if you did? Ask and answer it.

Why do you write Romance novels? I often wonder why authors choose the genres and sub-genres that they choose to write. I think most would answer like I do- I enjoy writing what I love to read most. I’d also add that I like to read non-romance genres, too. I could see myself writing in other genres. In the end, what I find most enjoyable to write is a happily ever after ending. I like wrapping things up and walking away feeling satisfied that the people I just got to know (or created) and care about, will be okay when I close the back cover.

Here’s a blurb from Elli – A Second Chance Novel
All Book Proceeds Donated to Women in the Fight Against Breast Cancer.

Elli Morenelli has lived through a nightmare and now is working on getting her dream…

Her life could have been over with her breast cancer diagnosis, but Elli had fought and won. Now she is ready to fight for other women facing the same nightmare, but to do so she is going to need money. And she is going to need it fast. Fortunately, Elli finds herself with half ownership of a Louisiana plantation. A twisted inheritance has set her up with an interesting future. Unfortunately, Elli no longer believes in planning a future, she just wants to take the money and run. Ben Bienvenu wants nothing to do with the woman from California who is certain to turn his world upside down. But the conditions of the will that left the property to both of them doesn’t give him much choice. Not if he wants to keep the property that’s been in his family for generations. A snobby diva rental dog, an impossible will, a nosy Bienvenu family, a distracting Mardi Gras season and a man who thinks he is protecting his son by standing his ground against her… Elli knows that trying to find common ground with this man known as the Cajun Dog Whisperer is going to be an uphill battle. Two broken people. Both in need of a Second Chance….

You can purchase Elli at:
Amazon

You can find out more about Tina and her work online at:
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