First of all, congratulations to my Tule sister Robin Bielman. She has a new book out today!
Robin and I go way back. We’re also Entangled sisters. We first met face-to-face in Las Vegas after on-line dating for a few months. Robin was moonlighting as a pole dancer back then. We both signed non-disclosure agreements, so the rest of our history together will forever remain a mystery.
I had ten questions for Robin today, but after spending six months in jail for a crime she swears she didn’t commit, she’s pretty cagey about putting out in public (did I say that right?) and only answered 6 of them, plus the bonus question, so I’ll give her credit for 7. It turns out she found some of them intrusive—but FYI, I can’t be the only one curious as to whether or not you can catch STDs from stripper poles.
Here we go. Not the interview I’d planned, but fascinating nonetheless.
- Who’s your favourite—of your own books—female and/or male character? (Come on. We all
I honestly don’t have just one! My favorite hero is usually the one I’m currently focused on, meaning the one I’m writing or the one in my newest release. So right now that would be Prince Theo. (But I’m also in love with Mateo, the hero in my current WIP.) See? I cannot pick just one.
- Which book could you have worked on forever?
My newest release, Once Upon A Royal Christmas. It takes place at Christmas time and my hero is a prince! I could have spent lots of time writing fun and sexy winter activities, but I was happy to give him his HEA, too.
- You’re a USA Today bestselling author. Tell us about THE MOMENT you found out, and what the heck, tell us about the book too.
I found out on Twitter. LOL At the time, I didn’t realize when the announcement was shared, but I was on Twitter and I saw a tweet from Laura Kaye congratulating me on hitting the USA Today list. Needless to say, I went happy-crazy after that. The book that hit the list was Kissing the Maid of Honor, the first book in my Secret Wishes series. My hero, Luke is and extreme sports photographer and the best man, and oh, how I love him. (He’s definitely a favorite of mine.) *wink*
- Which book would you love to re-write? Why?
Veiled Target. I’d like to go back and do some more world building as well as make a few changes to my heroine. I loved her, but she didn’t resonate with everyone.
- Why write? Why not do something easier? Because I don’t know about you, but writing is the hardest thing I’ve ever done.
Writing is SO hard! But I can’t imagine not doing it. I love spending time with my characters and I’m always thinking about my stories and ideas for new ones. I’ve loved to write in some way or another since I was in college so I think it’s just a part of me. And a huge reason I keep at it is to hopefully make readers happy. To make them smile and for a little while forget any troubles they may have.
- What’s your favourite pastime? And keep it clean. My kids read this.
Well, reading of course. I’m also a TV junkie and love to go hiking. And I recently started collecting sea glass.
Bonus question: What’s a little-known fact about you? What’s your dirty secret? (And if it’s a fabulous ability to hide dead bodies in unorthodox places, just a head’s up—I’m pretty sure CSIS stalks me on-line.)
How did you know? 😉 Hmm… besides my time behind bars (totally joking), I’ve got nothing super interesting. I was a field reporter for a local cable program waaayyy back when, and if those pieces were ever made public again, I’m sure I’d die of embarrassment.
And that, folks, is your introduction to Robin Bielman.
You should run right out and grab her new release, Once Upon a Royal Christmas—available today! The links I’ve provided are for Amazon, but that’s because I’m lazy. It’s available at other online retailers, too. Isn’t the cover pretty?
When not attached to her laptop, USA Today Bestselling Author Robin Bielman can almost always be found with her nose in a book. A California girl, the beach is her favorite place for fun and inspiration. Her fondness for swoon-worthy heroes who flirt and stumble upon the girl they can’t live without jumpstarts most of her story ideas.
She loves to go on adventures, and has skydived, scuba dived, parasailed, gotten lost in the wilderness (and only suffered a gazillion bug bites for it) hiked to waterfalls, and swam with dolphins. In her spare time she also likes to put her treadmill to good use while watching her favorite TV shows, take hikes with her hubby, indulge her sweet tooth, and play sock tug of war with her cute, but sometimes naughty dog, Harry.
She dreams of traveling to faraway places and loves to connect with readers. Keep in touch and sign up for her newsletter on her website at http://robinbielman.com
I’m interviewing the three men from the first books in my Spy Games series today!
Each of the first three books is a standalone romance, although for anyone interested in the overall series plot (there really is one!), they’re best read in order:
Her Spy to Have ~ Book 1
Her Spy to Hold ~ Book 2
His Spy at Night ~ Book 3
If you don’t want to read them in order, no worries—the main plot doesn’t contain any deep dark secrets or major spoilers. We know who did it from the very first book. The rest of the stories are spent gathering enough information to hang him.
Although we haven’t literally hanged anyone in Canada since December 11th, 1962.
Now that we’ve cleared all that up, let’s get back to my guys so I can introduce them….
Word of warning–these guys are a little camera-shy, for obvious reasons.
First on the scene is Garrett.
He’s in love with Isabelle, a woman with a sketchy past. His pastimes include wandering around Khao San Road in Bangkok dressed like a tourist.
Next we have Kale.
He made quite the impression on Irina, who’s a brainy software engineer and weapons systems placement designer. Kale likes extreme sports—kitesurfing, rock climbing, and longboarding down mountain roads in Nova Scotia for starters.
Last but not least, we’ll introduce you to Harry. Oh, Harry…
His girl is Marlies, an expert in money laundering and hawala systems of exchange, but she has other skills that Harry puts to good use. (Yes, that’s a naughty reference.) When Harry wants to get away from the embassy office in the Netherlands, he likes to take after-hours canal tours. (Yes. Another naughty reference.)
Only two of these men are spies, however. That’s okay. Garrett and Kale like Harry a lot and they can totally sympathize with the problems inherent in his relationship with Marlies. (Marlies goes by Lies for short. Pronounced Lees. Even if the pronunciation is different, it is so, so appropriate for her…)
Garrett and Harry have a lot in common. They both work at Canadian embassies. They’re quiet and good at blending in. Kale is even better than they are at listening, but he prefers a bolder approach to information gathering. If you want an analogy, he’s more of a hurricane to their warm summer rain. (ßThat sentence right there is why I’m a writer.)
I know you guys are busy so I’m going to go with 3 easy questions for you:
- What set you on your career paths? Harry, I know you’re a diplomat and trade commissioner, not a spy, but still, there’s a level of intrigue in what you do. You constantly have your ear to the ground and one of your friends happens to be the director of Canada’s spy organization.
(Heads turn. Garrett and Kale stare at Harry.)
Garrett: You’re friends with John Carmichael?
Harry: No offense, but he’s the only one of you people I even remotely trust.
Kale: None taken. (Arches brow.) But what about Lies?
Harry: Not even as far as I can throw her.
Kale: Right. What was I thinking?
Garrett: To answer your question—I’ve always been restless if I stay in one place too long, which comes from me, not my upbringing. My family is pretty stable and ordinary, and I love them, but I want to serve my country. I like the challenge. What I do isn’t especially exciting, at least not on the surface, but I really enjoy the game of matching wits with people who believe they’re smarter than I am.
Kale (nodding head in agreement): Yeah, I like that whole game aspect of it, too. I’m a linguist who speaks seven languages. My dad is a career diplomat who travels a lot, particularly in the Middle East, so I’m comfortable with the different languages and cultures. I don’t fit my stereotype and I love it when people look at me and see a dumb jock. You wouldn’t believe the conversations people have in public when they think no one around them can understand.
Harry: I seem so dull in comparison to these two. I started off working summers as an unpaid intern for the UN, then after university, went to work for several different aerospace and defence companies in their international marketing departments. I speak a few languages too, so between those and my business connections, it was an easy progression to Canada’s trade commission. I like helping companies do business in other countries. It increases Canada’s profile worldwide and grows the economy.
- We’re all friends here. What do you find hottest about your women?
Garrett: Not that it’s anyone’s business, but I love the fact that Isabelle is such a mystery to me. I’m always trying to figure out the best way to please her.
Kale: No secrets here, man. I straight up love the way Irina can be talked into anything. And I mean anything. Still waters. Gotta love them. (Shifts restlessly in chair and eyeballs clock on wall.) When is this interview over?
Harry: Since we’re oversharing (stares pointedly at Kale), Lies can be very (clears throat) forthright about her preferences. It’s refreshing to spend time with a woman who knows what she wants and isn’t afraid to ask for it.
Kale: That’s what we’re calling it? Refreshing? Wait until I share that with Irina. (Starts to laugh at what is clearly an inside joke.)
- Since we’re on an honesty roll, and next week the ladies will get their chance to rebut, what do you like the least about them?
Garrett (answers a little too quickly): Isabelle’s father. Did I say that out loud?
Kale (speaking to Garrett): Is that an option? Because I like everything about Irina, including her parents. She’s smart, she’s pretty, she’s sexy… I mean, her father was once a Soviet double agent, sure, but it’s not like I can cast stones. I do get why you don’t like Isabelle’s dad though. The guy steals military weapons and intelligence and sells them to hostile nations. That’s got to make Christmases awkward.
Harry (thoughtfully): Lies can be really inappropriate. The phone sex, for instance. I can’t figure out if I like or dislike it. Once I got over the initial shock, it can be— You know what? Forget it. I take it all back. I’m not answering this question.
Kale (stares): Dude. What the hell. You like it. (Again glances longingly at clock.)
And on that note, guys, it’s a wrap. Thanks so much for joining me today.
If readers are interested in learning more about these three, you can check out their stories on my website. I have links to the first chapters, online retailers, and to a sign-up form for my newsletter so you can follow upcoming releases for the Spy Games series.
Next up is Dan’s story in Her Spy at Dawn, Book 4, which should be making its appearance at retailers in February 2017. Dan’s not as camera-shy because he works behind a desk these days, but this guy has a PAST. I’ll just leave you with this:
Today I’m interviewing Kim from Read Your Writes Book Reviews! Kim recently celebrated her 4-year blogging anniversary.
Kim’s a bit shy and a whole lot private.
We’re going to get to know her better today. I’ve got to say, as much fun as it is to talk about myself, this interview was even better.
So let’s get started.
Welcome, Kim! Let’s start with the most obvious. What got you into blogging and reviewing? What keeps you going?
Hmm. Okay, so here’s the long story. On a Thanksgiving trip to Texas, my nephew wanted to go to the movies. He insisted we see Twilight. I complained the whole way there. Then I fell in love with the movie and wanted to know more about the series. But the book was freaking long. I mean seriously, who reads a book that’s 500+ pages? On the same trip, my mother gave me my first Nora Roberts book saying, “Your head is always in the clouds, you can read this.” I started reading the book there and on the airplane ride back. I thought, “Hey, reading isn’t so bad.” I then decided to give Twilight a try.
I got into blogging because being a stay-at-home mom sucks. It’s boring and you’re by yourself all the time. Let’s face it, there’s just so much communication you can have with a two year old. And I’m sure my husband got tired of me calling him at work for absolutely nothing at all. He’s actually the one who came up with the idea of me blogging. That way I could be behind the computer (because I’m shy) and still interact with people. Plus I wasn’t going to Target every day, buying things I didn’t need, just to talk to the cashiers.
What keeps me going? I love reading books and getting to interact with people. I’ve had the opportunity to meet some really nice authors and some not so nice ones. I don’t get paid for this, but reviewing and blogging is a job. It’s a pretty cool one too.
Tell us the first scene from a book you’ve reviewed that immediately pops into your head. No cheating! (And yes, you will be judged.)
Okay. The first scene that pops in my head is from Victoria James’ The Best Man’s Baby. The heroine finds out she’s pregnant by her best friend’s husband’s brother and said brother (Jake) has been MIA since the night they were together. There’s a barbeque and Jake shows up with one of his flings. The heroine is upset and walks up to him and says, “Welcome home daddy,”as she sticks the pregnancy test stick in his burger.
Obviously, you’re well-read and read across a lot of genres. What’s your biggest turn-off? (It can be anything—cover, blurb, writing, combination of all of the above….) What’s the fingernails-on-the-chalkboard for you?
I’m a visual person. Covers grab my attention. If I don’t like the cover, then I’m not wasting my time reading the blurb. I know that sounds bad, but it happens. Now, if it’s an author I like I just ignore the cover (okay I still think to myself this is bad), but still read the book.
I hate getting cold emails from tour companies I’ve never heard of. I only use a select few, because there are A LOT of bad ones out there.
I also hate group emails where the person is so rude that they don’t bother to BCC people. Oh and authors signing me up for their newsletters without asking me. I know you signed me up because the email is going to the wrong account.
You have children and they’re never going to see this—so which one would you give away? And under what circumstances?
I went through hell for my kids. They’re stuck with me FOREVER! Even when I’m dead, I want them to hear my voice in their heads.
When authors ask you for favours –*ahem*—what’s your initial reaction? Again, no cheating!
What kind of favor are you talking about? If you ask about helping to hide a dead body. NOT going to happen. I can’t go to jail. I wouldn’t last there.
Now, if you’re talking appearing on the blog, I’m cool with that. Usually, I spend about 5 minutes being excited someone asked to appear. But it’s also the way I’m approached. I have a name, so use it. If someone wants me to read their book and I can’t I tend to feel really bad.
If you could get away with murder, which fictional character would you kill? How would you do it?
Oh. I just got this wicked smile on my face. I’m sure there are several. But the first character to pop into my head is the mother from Wendy S. Marcus’ Loving You Is Easy. The mother is/was all about status. She didn’t care that her daughter was date raped by her boyfriend and his friend. The boyfriend had prominent, elicit parents. The mother thought her daughter should be happy that he was dating her.
Nora Roberts, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, and Melissa Marr walk into a bar. All three are hitting on Lee Child. Who do you root for?
I found my love of reading through Nora Roberts, so I have to root for her.
Boxers, briefs, or boxer-briefs? Loincloth? (Sorry—just watched Tarzan last week….) White or black socks? What’s your opinion on ball caps?
Boxers and I don’t care. Ball caps worn backwards.
Of the critters currently roaming your back yard—which would you eat first if that zombie apocalypse ever strikes?
You’re funny. Well, there is Thomas the snake in the backyard. Since I gave him a name, I can’t possibly kill and eat him. Plus, there’s the issue of me being afraid of snakes. The lizards creep me out too. There’s the frogs, but I’m sure they’re slimy. I guess I’m going to have to go with one of the squirrels. I’m sure I can figure out how to cook it. I’m just not sure how to catch it and kill it. Okay, I’m royally screwed here. I’m going to starve to death and the zombies who I don’t like are going to kill me.
And let’s end with another obvious question… Who’s your second favourite author? (Because we’re just going to go ahead and assume that your first is me.)
Wow. You aren’t nice at all. Second favorite author…..I have a slew of favorite authors. There’s absolutely NO way I can give them numbers.
Okay Ms. Paula, this was fun. Thanks for putting me on the spot. I now understand what you authors go through, when I ask you questions. But seriously, thank you for asking me to appear on your blog. If anyone cares (please care), they can find me online at these places.
Kim, thanks for being here! You are truly a good sport—despite being a sissy when it comes to zombies ’n squirrel-killin’… I bet you’ll get over that pretty quick. Especially if they’re zombie squirrels.
Don’t eat those ones.
And because interviews are so much fun, next week I’ll introduce readers to three of the male characters from my Spy Games series. (Trust me, Kim. You got off easy.)
Readers, if you have any questions for Kim, be sure to leave them in the comments below. She’s a little cagey about her criminal past, though. Be sensitive.
Have a happy week! And don’t forget to follow her!
I have a shiny new red bicycle!
It’s no big secret that writing is a sedentary and solitary occupation. It’s possible I spend way too much time at the computer–although my word count contradicts me. Consequently, I might have put on a few (and I’m understating this) pounds.
The Foreign Guy and I have been trying find an athletic activity to do together, but our options are limited. We don’t share the same interests.
I love to run. I plan to get back into running. But arthritis has settled into a toe I broke years ago, and for the past few months, running has not been an enjoyable experience. Plus, the Foreign Guy hates to run. HATES it, despite being a sports-minded guy and a speedskater in a former life.
I got a side eye when I suggested yoga. We both hate it, but I’m willing to stretch while watching television at night. I wouldn’t call what I do yoga–not in the traditional sense–but at least I’m off the sofa. He doesn’t care what I call it. He’s having no part of it.
I can’t swim and I have no desire to learn. Which is funny because I spent fifteen years of my life at pools with my sons for swimming lessons, training sessions, and competitions.
That leaves us with bicycling.
The Foreign Guy grew up on a bicycle. He can bicycle circles around me. The last time we visited his family, I was rear-ended by another cyclist (who’d never seen a grown woman take three tries to get a bike in motion), drove into his friend’s parents’ shrubbery, and narrowly avoided being taken out by a car hauling a trailer. Good luck was with me that day.
So in between books being written, and books being released, (for the latest, check out www.paulaaltenburg.com), I plan to take up a new hobby and lose the winter muffin top.
And before I forget, Her Spy to Have is on sale for 99 cents for the month of July! Plus, the third book in the series, His Spy at Night, will be coming in September.
Be sure to leave me a note and tell me how you plan to get your exercise this summer.
What’s your favourite activity?