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Spotlight On, Grace Greene

On the Crystal Coast of North Carolina, in the small town of Emerald Isle…

Juli Cooke, hard-working and getting nowhere fast, marries a dying man, Ben Bradshaw, for a financial settlement, not expecting he will set her on a journey of hope and love. The journey brings her to Luke Winters, a local art dealer, but Luke resents the woman who married his sick friend and warns her not to hurt Ben—and he’s watching to make sure she doesn’t.

Until Ben dies and the stakes change.

Framed by the timelessness of the Atlantic Ocean and the brilliant blue of the beach sky, Juli struggles against her past, the opposition of Ben’s and Luke’s families, and even the living reminder of her marriage—to build a future with hope and perhaps to find the love of her life—if she can survive the danger from her past.

Grace is giving away an eBook copy of BEACH RENTAL. To get your name in the drawing, all you have to do is leave a comment. A winner will be chosen at random and will be notifiied via email. Please leave an email addy if it is not available on your profile.

Please tell us about yourself and what made you start writing?

I’ve always been a big reader and, for many readers, at some point that translates into a desire to write a story.  In fact, I’ve written all of my life, completing a novel and some short stories over the years, but until I found the writing communities online, and via those, writing groups in my geographic area, it was very much an on and off effort. About five years ago, I picked up writing again and vowed not to give up despite rejections. With the help of my critique partners and writing buddies, I’ve kept going.  That first novel is in a cardboard box; the novel I wrote five years ago waits on an external hard drive for a rewrite.  Beach Rental is actually my fourth novel. My third, Kincaid’s Hope, will be released in January 2012, also by Turquoise Morning Press.

For most of my life, creative expression has been a war between writing and artistic output. Oh, for more time in the day! Writing and drawing and painting, textile crafts and needlework, photography and graphic art…even choosing the right color of paint and putting it on the wall just so, can be a creative event. Everything around us feeds the writing or the design. And all that we take in from the world strives for expression. At this time in my life, I think I’ve found the best balance of both art and fiction, but it’s always good to stay flexible!

How long did it take before you were published? Was it everything that you thought it would be?

Beach Rental was released in July. It’s been an educational experience, for sure. How long did it take to find publication? I’d have to begin the count five years ago. For Beach Rental, specifically, which was written throughout most of 2010, the contract offer came in December of 2010.

It’s been an education and adventure and certainly full of highs and lows. I learned that finding publication only sets up a whole new set of goals and worries, triumphs and fears. The editing needed before publication and the marketing post-publication competes with the need to be writing the next book. Perhaps it would be easier if I didn’t work a fulltime job besides, but I’m not sure of that. Sometimes we use our time better if we have less of it to waste.

Do you love the ePublishing / small press platform and are you going to pursue traditional publishing in the future?

For a new author, I think the small press platform may be the gentlest introduction to publishing, although that’s just a guess since I haven’t experienced a release with a traditional publisher.  I’d like to find out how it goes with a traditional publisher. A big benefit of a small press is the individual attention given to the writer and having a direct line to the publisher. In fact, my publisher contracted for my books and later signed me as a cover artist, too. I can use my art background and graphic skills and my writing, too! Is that the best of both worlds, or what?!?

Can you tell us a little bit your new release? How did you come up with the idea?

I spent a holiday down at Emerald Isle on the Bogue Banks in North Carolina. One week at a duplex on the ocean, what a setting! The island of Bogue Banks lies east/west. You walk to the sunrise in the morning and to the sunset in the evening. I’m a dedicated beach walker, so that’s hard to beat.

I had a setting, but not a story or characters.

I met a young woman who would have had lots of potential if she’d grown up differently. People are more than genetics—we are also products of our environment. And then several of my friends died of pancreatic cancer. They were full of love and life and were the epitome of selflessness during their last months. I wondered what would happen if I brought a dying man together with the girl who had no prospects for a happy future? What could he bring to the relationship that would impact her life and future in an enduring way and what gifts could she give him?

You’re an artist, what types of work do you do and in what way do you incorporate your love of art into your writing?

I sketched in pencil and painted in oils for many years, then shifted to photography and digital art.  But working a fulltime job and writing as a second fulltime job doesn’t leave much time for anything else. Perhaps because my art doesn’t find much expression otherwise, it shows up in my books. In Beach Rental, Luke owns an art gallery (I always wanted to do that) and Juli takes art lessons from Anna at Ben’s urging. Art is venue through which Juli gains confidence in herself and where she also finds comfort when the challenges mount.

Do you have a daily ritual to get you in the “writing zone”?

I work my day job during the week and write in the evenings and on weekends and holidays. I don’t have a ritual or process for writing in the evening. I just jump into it in the best way I can. But on Saturday morning, I stay in my jammies and park my butt in my desk chair and start writing and keep writing for as long as I can. Once I’m dressed and looking respectable, I’m too easily distracted.

How do you stay inspired?

Honestly, I don’t. It’s often a struggle. Sometimes I feel uninspired and, as Rachel in Wynnedower’s Stranger (my WIP) says, “I feel as flat as a blowup snowman with a bad leak on a cold morning.” Generally, something comes along—an intriguing person, an interesting setting or a concept that digs it’s sharp little teeth into my imagination and won’t let go. Faith is the most important thing, I think—the knowledge that just when I think I’m almost on empty, something else always comes along. Faith keeps the panic at bay.

What is the most difficult part of your writing journey? What is the most exciting part?

Writing and writing. Some days it’s exhilarating; some days it’s grim. Beyond that, the most difficult part for me is sending my work out to face rejection or acceptance. Sometimes the what-ifs are overwhelming. The best advice I can give is to follow your heart and head. First person or third? Too much narration? Breaking rules? Remember, you can’t satisfy everyone at any time. Just do your best, protect yourself from naysayers and sustain your hope and faith.

What personal goals have you made for yourself this year?

Survive my debut release. Complete my WIP. Complete revisions on my upcoming release. Do all of the aforementioned and also market my current release. Last and most elusive: Stay sane.

Those all sound like writing goals, don’t they? Except the last one. So, I guess my person goal this year is to stay sane.

Any last words for your readers?

Beach Rental, Kincaid’s Hope, and Wynnedower’s Stranger are books about people and relationships foremost, but strong settings and suspense are also important to me. I hope you’ll give these books a try (Kincaid’s Hope in late January) and will let me know your thoughts. I want these stories to move the reader and if the characters linger after the last page has been read, then I’ll be thrilled. It’s reader feedback that keeps me going in those uninspired or difficult times. Thanks to everyone who’s let me know they enjoyed Beach Rental!

What should we expect from you in the future?

Fiction with romance, suspense and inspiration, always with a strong heroine at its heart…Please visit me at www.GraceGreeneAuthor.com

Grace Greene writes fiction with romance, suspense and inspiration, always with a strong heroine at its heart. Vivid settings and quirky secondary characters round out the stories and there’s a happily-ever-after ending—most of the time.

Grace is also an artist and photographer. She is drawn to houses and landscapes that ooze character and is fascinated by history and human nature. When she’s writing, all of these interests show up on the page.

BEACH RENTAL is her debut release. Her next novel, KINCAID’S HOPE, is scheduled for release in January 2012. In KINCAID’S HOPE, Beth Kincaid finds that swearing off the Kincaid temper and creating the perfect life free from untidy emotionalism has its own dangers and can even get you killed.

A Virginia native, Grace lives in central Virginia. Stay current with Grace’s releases and appearances at www.GraceGreeneAuthor.com