Welcome to my stop on the VBT with Darlene Panzera. The last few weeks I've shared the blurbs and excerpts from Darlene's cupcake Diaries series, and today I have the author here for an interview. Please help me welcome her to the blog!
Tell me about yourself, and your writing.
Thank you for having me here today! My husband and I grew up in New Jersey but after we married we followed our best friends out to the Northwest, bought a tract of land, built a house, and had three kids. We love the lakes, rivers, mountains and the fact we are just a short ferry ride away from Seattle.
I write sweet, fun-loving romance! I love writing stories that help inspire people to laugh, value relationships, and pursue their dreams.
How long have you been writing? How many published books do you have, and what genres?
I've been writing all my life and have several short stories published in addition to my novel and novellas—all sweet, contemporary romance. But my career launched a year and a half ago when I won the "Make Your Dreams Come True Contest" sponsored by Avon Books which led my novella, THE BET, to be published with Debbie Macomber's FAMILY AFFAIR. The full length novel, re-titled, BET YOU'LL MARRY ME, released December 2012 and my new series is THE CUPCAKE DIARIES: Sweet on You, Recipe for Love, and Taste of Romance.
Do you write in multiple genres or just one? If just one, do you ever consider straying outside your genre?
Right now I am published in only the one genre, but in the future I would definitely like to branch out into different types of stories. My daughter and I are in the middle of putting together a children's picture book featuring our two horses. I'd also like to write an inspirational, maybe a suspense, time-travel, medieval, or even young adult.
Are you a plotter or do you write from the seat of your pants?
I am somewhere in-between. I love to plot and fill out crazy charts, but I don't really get to know my characters or the plot until I begin writing the story.
What is a typical writing day like for you?
I'm not sure I have a typical day. I try to get up, check email, and get to work, but the reality is that I have a busy household and have to remain flexible. If I fall behind in my writing I will stay up late after everyone goes to bed to get it done.
Who do you love to read? Favorite authors, favorite books?
I love to read all kinds of things. My favorite romance authors are: Judith McNaught, Jude Deveraux, Julie Garwood, Jane Porter, and Debbie Macomber.
What is something you'd like to accomplish in your writing career next year?
I would like to write more full length sweet contemporary romance novels and go to the Romance Writers of America National conference. I have never been and I would love to mingle with thousands of other writers and meet new friends.
If you could have one paranormal ability, what would it be?
To fly. When I was little I had dreams where I really believed I could fly and feel the wind against my face and hair. It felt so real.
If you could keep a mythical/ paranormal creature as a pet, what would you have?
A tiny, little fairy with magic powers. Or maybe a Leprechaun.
Tell us a little about your latest release.
When my editor at Avon Books asked if I would like to write a series of novellas featuring a cupcake shop, I knew it would be great fun! Set in the artsy, historical fishing community of Astoria, Oregon, two sisters and their friend follow their dream to open a hip little shop named Creative Cupcakes and find themselves fighting off a fanatical Zumba dance instructor, a conceited French bakery chef, and an elusive thief dubbed, 'The Cupcake Bandit.' Is there any time left in their busy schedule to search for true love?
What is something that you absolutely can't live without? (Other than family members)
Hmmm, other than family members? I don't think there is anything that I absolutely can't live without except my faith in God, food, and water. Most days I'm grateful just to be alive. I love to camp so I know what it's like to "rough it," but if you want me to name something I would really miss if there was no more power left in the world it would be a hot shower. I really love the fact we have hot showers in this part of the world.
Could you ever co author a book with someone? If so, who would you choose, and what would you write?
Since each author has their own unique 'voice' I'm not sure if co-authoring a book together would work but it sure would be fun to try! I don't know who I would pick but if we wrote about a schizophrenic we could each write sides of the characters different personalities. (Like Gollum/Smeagol in The Hobbit.)
What are some of your other hobbies outside of writing?
I have two horses and enjoy horseback riding and feeding them carrots. I do arts and crafts and cheer my sons on at football games and metal band concerts. I hike, ski, swim, camp, and play the piano.
What is something you've always wanted to do, but haven't done yet. Why not?
I want to go to Hawaii but other obligations within the family have had us flying back and forth to other destinations. I also want to save money so when I do get to Hawaii I can rent a jet-ski.
If you were on the staff to have a book adapted to movie, what would you pick?
I'd say, "Pick mine!" I would love to see my full length novel, BET YOU'LL MARRY ME, made into a movie. It's packed with action and vivid scenes perfect for a movie.
What is a talent you wish you had, but don't?
I wish I was a better singer. I can sing in tune but lack the power in my voice to project across a room.
Weather: Hot or cold?
Favorite place to read?
In bed, or by the lake.
Roast beef, mashed potatoes, and green beans.
Favorite non-alcoholic drink.
Milk. I love milk so much I could do a commerical.
If you could travel anywhere and do anything, no limits or money holding you back, where would you go?
I'd tour the world, (first stop - Hawaii) and meet the people from all the different lands.
The Cupcake Diaries
Sweet On You, Recipe for Love, Taste of Romance
The Cupcake Diaries Book One: SWEET ON YOU
(Avon Impulse; on-sale May 7th, 2013; e-book ISBN: 9780062242662)
Fans of Debbie Macomber will love THE CUPCAKE DIARIES: Sweet on You, the first in the new and exciting three-book romantic comedy, by Darlene Panzera. Set in the small seaport town of Astoria, Oregon, Sweet on You begins the delicious and charming mini-series with Andi Burke’s adventure through love and cupcakes.
Sisters Andi and Kim, along with best friend Rachel, haven’t had the best luck in recent months: unemployment, divorce, and heartbreak. After so many disappointments, what can the trio do to change things around? Open up a much needed gourmet cupcake shop of course!
Andi has always had a dream—a kitchen big enough to bake and dance in, while still being able to support her dear daughter Mia, and hopefully find true love (one day). Could opening up a cupcake shop make it all a reality?
Together, the best friends are determined to open up Creative Cupcakes. But, with no business experience or money to finance the project it seems their dream won’t come true. Until, Jake Hartman, the hunky Astoria Sun reporter, offers to partner up with them.
Trying to hold it together as a single mom hasn’t been easy, and the thought of dating hasn’t crossed Andi’s mind since her divorce. But, the way Jake keeps looking at her might change her mind. After all, what could go wrong?
Plenty! There's a shady tattoo parlor behind their shop and a crowd of crazy Zumba dancers out front—ready to ruin them. The trio is forced to think quick to counter the attacks from Zumba fanatic Pat, while still finding a way to bring in business. It seems the only thing that’s going right is Andi's blooming romance with Jake. As if things weren’t hard enough, Jake’s media crew captures a story that could shut them both down forever.
The Cupcake Diaries Book Two: RECIPE FOR LOVE
(Avon Impulse; on-sale May 14th, 2013; e-book ISBN: 9780062242686)
For fans of Debbie Macomber comes Recipe for Love, the second installment in the Cupcake Diaries series Relationships can be tricky, but will Mike the magician convince Rachel to break her two-date rule? Rachel Donovan believes first dates are fabulous, second dates are fun, but third dates? She never sees a guy three times in a row for fear he'll break her heart, but she's tempted to make an exception when her coworkers, Andi and Kim, hire Mike Palmer to drive their Cupcake Mobile. Mike meets Rachel when he's wearing his black-masked magician costume at a Creative Cupcakes birthday party and then tries to saw her in half. He draws closer while helping Rachel devise promotion plans to outsmart the arrogant new French pastry chef threatening to put the shop out of business. When a rat runs through the middle of her glitzy promo party and the video is uploaded to YouTube, Rachel fears she won't be able to save the shop, help her mother pay for her grandfather's medical treatment, or win back the heart of the one guy she's come to love . . . or will she?
The Cupcake Diaries Book Three: TASTE OF ROMANCE
(Avon Impulse; on-sale May 21st, 2013; e-book ISBN: 9780062242839)
For fans of Debbie Macomber comes Taste of Romance, the third installment in the Cupcake Diaries series. Kimberly Burke has avoided all types of risk since her mother's deadly plane crash—including risky relationships. Seems like everyone is always leaving her behind: her ex-boyfriend, her mother, and now her sister Andi and best friend Rachel—who have each found the man of her dreams. Then she meets Nathaniel when she mistakes his backyard for the new community park. He loves her passion, and when he learns of her wistful desire to travel, he takes her up in a hot air balloon, hoping to overcome her fear of flying so that she can accompany him abroad. But before he leaves, they must catch the Cupcake Bandit and replace the money stolen from Creative Cupcakes before the shop is shut down. Will discovering the thief's identity persuade Kim to take a risk on love ... or will she stay behind and let Nathaniel fly off without her?
About the Author
Darlene Panzera is the winner of the “Make Your Dreams Come True” contest sponsored by Avon Books. The win led her novella, The Bet, to be published with Debbie Macomber’s Family Affair. The award-winning novella (chosen in a blind-read by Debbie Macomber) was then published as a full length novel retitled, Bet You’ll Marry Me. Born and raised in New Jersey, Darlene is now a resident of the Pacific Northwest where she lives with her husband and three children. When not writing she enjoys spending time with her family, two horses, and loves: camping, hiking, photography, and lazy days at the lake.