Friday, September 30, 2016

Interview with Meg Benjamin, RUNNING ON EMPTY


Can you give us a brief overview of your latest book? Is it part of a series?
Sure. Running On Empty is book 3 in my Salt Box Trilogy (Books 1 and 2 were published by Samhain Publishing).

Here’s the blurb:
She’s running her heart out to stay in the same place.
Ronnie Ventura has every reason to distrust Fairstein Productions: she’s had run-ins with their shows before. But Fairstein’s newest reality show offers Ronnie a chance to redeem herself from looking like a blonde bimbo. All she has to do is win a modified triathlon. Simple, right? Except this is Fairstein, and nothing is ever simple with them.
Ronnie’s boss at the Blarney Stone bar and café, owner Ted Saltzman, is a lot less convinced that another Fairstein show is just what Ronnie needs, particularly when he’s head over heels about Ronnie himself.  But she’s determined, and he’s a man in love.
Ted becomes her running coach, which fans their budding romance to a fever. But can Ronnie’s newfound confidence stand up to the usual Fairstein plots? And can Ted find a way to keep his true love in Salt Box if Hollywood tries to steal her away again?

Do you have a favorite character?
I’m very fond of my heroine, Ronnie Ventura. Ronnie first appeared in book 1 of the trilogy, Finding Mr. Right Now, where she was a naïve and sort of annoying bachelorette on a reality show. In book 2, Love In the Morning, she’d become a lot savvier, and her backstage knowledge about the reality show world helped the book’s heroine overcome a major challenge in her life. Now she’s the heroine herself and I had a lot of fun showing how much she’s grown and what traits she still shares with the sweet innocent from Finding Mr. Right Now.

Have you ever had a minor character evolve into a major one? Did that change the direction of the novel at all?
This happens to me all the time! I just finished a book where a little girl showed up as a very minor character (a sales clerk) and managed to become a major part of the plot before I was done. Her contribution made me rethink how the Big Black Moment would take place in that book. And now she’s become a major supporting character in the next book in that series.

Are you currently under a traditional publishing contract for future books or do you have manuscripts that you will self-publish? Are you doing both?
I do both. Running on Empty was originally supposed to have been published by Samhain Publishing, but they went through a difficult period and I took the rights back. Publishing this book myself has been a major learning experience, but I’m so glad I did it. Now I know how the process works, and I’ll feel more confident about publishing books on my own if that seems to be the more promising way to go.

What factors influenced your decision to self-publish your book(s)?
As I said, Running On Empty was originally set to be published by Samhain, which published books 1 (Finding Mr. Right Now) and 2 (Love In the Morning). When Samhain went through financial difficulties, they could no longer bring the book out. My choice was to let the trilogy remain unfinished or to publish the book myself. I really wanted to bring the trilogy to a close and to give Ronnie a chance to be the heroine of her own story, so I decided to go for it.

If you used a graphic designer/publisher’s designer, how involved were you during the creative process for your cover?
Samhain always allowed a lot of writer input on cover design. The first two covers in the trilogy were done by Angela Waters with a common theme: Mountains (the books take place in Salt Box, Colorado), a sunrise/sunset, and a happy couple. I really wanted the cover for Running On Empty to use the same theme, so I contacted Angie, who (fortunately for me) also works freelance. I found the couple I wanted to use on a stock photo site, and Angie put the cover together. I’m very happy with the way it worked out.

Do you belong to a critique group? Have they helped improve your writing?
I’ve belonged to various critique groups over the years, but I sort of evolved into using a critique partner, the fabulous Teri Wilson. We exchange chapters every week or so. To me, it’s more useful to have the same person look at extended passages from a book so that she knows what’s come before and what you’re trying to do. Teri’s been a huge help in finding plot holes and pointing out things about the characters that I wouldn’t have picked up on my own.

What is your writing process? Do you listen to music or do you like silence?
I wish I could use music, but I really have to have silence to write. I can’t really deal with distractions—I have to be able to concentrate on what I’m doing.

Do you outline your story or just go where your muse takes you?
I’m a total plotter, always have been. I really need to have a clear idea of where the plot’s going before I start to write. I may end up heading in different directions once I actually start working, but I need to know I won’t run out of ideas as I go.

Did you hire an editor to review your manuscript before publishing?
Absolutely! Having an editor look over your manuscript is a crucial step in getting your book ready for publication. In my case the editor pointed out some weaknesses I hadn’t noticed (and took care of quickly), as well as picking up those random mechanical errors that can cause all kinds of problems. I used to be a copyeditor, but it’s almost impossible to edit your own book—you’ll read through the errors because you know what’s supposed to be there. Kelli Collins, my editor, made a big contribution here.


BLURB:

Ronnie Ventura has every reason to distrust Fairstein Productions: she’s had run-ins with their shows before. But Fairstein’s newest reality show offers Ronnie a chance to redeem herself from looking like a blonde bimbo. All she has to do is win a modified triathlon. Simple, right? Except this is Fairstein, and nothing is ever simple with them.

Ronnie’s boss at the Blarney Stone bar and café, owner Ted Saltzman, is a lot less convinced that another Fairstein show is just what Ronnie needs, particularly when he’s head over heels about Ronnie himself.  But she’s determined, and he’s a man in love.

Ted becomes her running coach, which fans their budding romance to a fever. But can Ronnie’s newfound confidence stand up to the usual Fairstein plots? And can Ted find a way to keep his true love in Salt Box if Hollywood tries to steal her away again?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Author Bio:
Meg Benjamin is an award-winning author of contemporary romance. Her Konigsburg series for Samhain Publishing is set in the Texas Hill Country and her Ramos Family Trilogy is set in San Antonio’s King William District. Her Salt Box trilogy takes place in her new home the Colorado Rockies. She’s also the author of Going Up In Flames, part of the Sapphire Falls Kindle World series. Meg’s books have won numerous awards, including an EPIC Award, a Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice Award, the Holt Medallion from Virginia Romance Writers, the Beanpot Award from the New England Romance Writers and the Award of Excellence from Colorado Romance Writers. Meg’s Web site is http://www.MegBenjamin.com.

You can follow her on:

Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/meg.benjamin1),
Twitter (http://twitter.com/megbenj1).

Meg loves to hear from readers—contact her at meg@megbenjamin.com.

To purchase Meg’s books, you can visit her author page at  Samhain,

Meg’s books are also available through iBooks and other venues.

Meg’s Books:

Konigsburg, TX
Venus In Blue Jeans ISBN  9781605043692
Wedding Bell Blues ISBN 9781605046303
Be My Baby ISBN 9781605048437
Long Time Gone ISBN 9781609281083
Brand New Me ISBN 9781609283070
Don’t Forget Me ISBN 9781609288259
Fearless Love ISBN 9781619212404
Hungry Heart ISBN 9781619222274

Salt Box Trilogy
Finding Mr. Right Now ISBN 9781619229570
Love in the Morning ISBN 9781619230729

Promise Harbor Wedding
Bolted ISBN 9781619214293

Ramos Family Trilogy
Medium Well ISBN 9781101599648
Medium Rare ISBN 9781101622575
Happy Medium ISBN 9781101622568

Sapphire Falls Kindle World
Going Up In Flames ASIN B01FV7OAYI

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