Please welcome Carrie Nichols, another Golden Heart sister, to Daring Debuts ’18! Her debut novel THE MARINE’S SECRET DAUGHTER, published by Harlequin, released on January 16 with the digital version to be released on February 1, 2018. It is a romance novel about forgiveness and second chances. Just check out this blurb!
She has his eyes. Her mother has his heart.
Years have passed since marine sergeant Riley Cooper last held his best friend’s sister in his arms. Bound for Afghanistan, he believed walking away from Meg McBride was the kindest thing he could do. Now that he’s home, he doesn’t blame Meggie for hating him. But she hasn’t told him everything. And he hasn’t met the little red-haired girl whose gray eyes so resemble his own…
And now for a teaser:
This was not how her first meeting in over five years with Riley Cooper was supposed to happen. In her imagination, she was all sexy in a little black dress and killer heels after a relaxing spa day. Yeah, right; she’d spent the day cleaning and probably looked like Nick Nolte’s mug shot. So not fair! Riley was supposed to be breathless and falling at her feet, not vice versa. Stupid, stupid asthma.
SW: Welcome, Carrie. Where did you get the idea?
CN: I actually got the hero first. Years ago I was a member of a local writer’s group and each month we’d write a very short piece using a ‘prompt’. That month’s prompt was: You get a call from an old high school friend who needs help and asks that you meet them in a favorite hangout. It was a nothing little piece but the guy who answered the call, Riley Cooper, wouldn’t leave me alone. He continued to tell me his story and that the person needing help was his best friend’s younger sister. When he told me he’d do just about anything to help and not ask questions, I knew I was onto something.What’s your favorite writing advice? The romance is not the story goal. The romance should make the goal harder to obtain.- Carrie Nichols Click To Tweet
SW: Your book sounds wonderful, Carrie. What’s the story behind the title?
CN: As I was working on the story, I called it Rescuing Riley. The story won the 2016 RWA® Golden Heart® for short contemporary as Rescuing Riley. Harlequin asked me to come up with possible titles; and I knew from years of reading Special Edition what sort of titles they had. I came up with a few including The Marine’s Surprise Family which the editor loved and it was that title for about 30 days, but marketing thought The Marine’s Surprise Daughter worked better and that one lasted about 30 minutes before it had morphed into THE MARINE’S SECRET DAUGHTER.
SW: Can you tell us something we won’t find out just by reading the book jacket?
CN: The cover shows the little girl holding a stuffed dog. In the story the toy dog’s name is ‘Mangy’ because it’s referred to as “Fiona’s mangy mutt” and she does something with the toy that reduces my big tough marine to tears. My eyes misted as I wrote the scene so I hope some readers feel the same. J
SW: Who is your favorite character?
CN: That would be Fiona, the little girl in the story. But she gave me fits because she was larger than life and threatened to hijack the story whenever she was on the page. I had to let her personality shine through without letting it overshadow the romance between her parents.If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be? Don’t give up!! - Carrie Nichols Click To Tweet
SW: If you could spend a day with one of your characters, who would it be and what would you do?
CN: I would spend the day with my heroine Meg and we’d go for the spa day she never got in my teaser. J
SW: I love that idea! How long did you take to write this book?
CN: Years and years. LOL! The story underwent a lot of changes since I knew nothing about plotting and story arcs when I first wrote it as a series of scenes. But these characters wouldn’t let go and I’d learned enough by the 4th draft to start winning contests and to sign with my dream agent.
SW: I know all about multiple drafts. LOL. Are you a plotter or a pantser?
CN: I’m a recovering pantser. I had the luxury of years to write and rewrite my first story but knew I had to learn plotting basics to sell on proposal. I still struggle with plotting but with the help of Laura Baker’s Turning Points and Discovering Story Magic online classes, I’m slowly becoming a plotster. I have a skeleton with the big scenes and story/character arcs and fill in the rest as I write.
SW: What is the most challenging part of your writing process?
CN: Plotting and coming up with things for them to do. My characters love to talk and would be content to sit and talk through the whole story but that would be way too boring.My characters love to talk and would be content to sit and talk through the whole story but that would be way too boring. - Carrie Nichols Click To Tweet
SW: My characters do that too! Can you share your writing routine?
CN: I write in my home office. When my youngest moved out I cried when I walked into his empty room until I realized I had an empty room! As my husband observed, I wasted no time in making that room my own with paint and some bookcases. I am also lucky enough to not have a day job. I lost my job about a month after signing the contract with Harlequin and since my husband was already retired, I decided to join him.
SW: When my twins went to college last fall, I cried and cried! If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
CN: Don’t give up!!
SW: How did you get into writing?
CN: I have always loved writing. In elementary school my best friend and I wrote what would today be called fanfiction. I was a freelance journalist for a time, writing human interest stories for a local newspaper. As my boys got older, I decided it was time to get serious about writing romance.
SW: Which book influenced you the most?
CN: It wasn’t books but authors that inspired me. As a kid I loved Beverly Cleary, as a teen I loved Gothics by Barbara Michaels & Phyllis Whitney and later I loved Anne Stuart’s dark and tortured romance heroes. Anne Stuart made me want to write about heroes who find redemption through the love of the right woman.Which book influenced you the most? It wasn’t books but authors that inspired me. Anne Stuart made me want to write about heroes who find redemption through the love of the right woman. - Carrie Nichols Click To Tweet
SW: What are you working on right now?
CN: I actually have two stories started, The Sheriff’s Little Matchmaker and The Fire Fighter’s Twins.
SW: What’s your favorite writing advice?
CN: The romance is not the story goal. The romance should make the goal harder to obtain.
SW: You’re absolutely right! Thanks so much for spending the day with us, Carrie. I wish you all the success in the world.
You can find THE MARINE’S SECRET DAUGHTER at Amazon.
Carrie Nichols, is a hardy New Englander transplanted to the deep South, where two inches of snow can bring a city like Atlanta to its knees. She loves to travel, is addicted to British crime dramas and knows a Seinfeld quote appropriate for every occasion.
Carrie has one tolerant husband, two grown sons and two critical cats. To her dismay, Carrie’s characters, much like her family, often ignore the wisdom and guidance she lovingly offers.
USA Today called her short story, Snowbound with the Stork, “a charming debut”.
Sharon Wray is a librarian who once studied dress design in the couture houses of Paris and now writes novels of suspense, adventure, and love. The author of the Romantic Suspense Deadly Force Series, her debut book Every Deep Desire releases on March 6, 2018.