First, I’d like to thank Sara for having me on her fabulous blog. It’s always such a thrill reaching out to new readers. Now, on to the questions.
Welcome, Ellen….Let’s start off with what genre or genres do you write?
I write Romance and Women’s Fiction. I really enjoy writing the women’s fiction because I don’t have to solely focus on the romantic relationship to drive the story. So, I find it provides more outlets for plot development.
What do you think makes a good story?
I think character development is the most important thing to making a good story. A weak plotline can be pulled through with strong characters. But, weak characters generally can’t hold up even the strongest plotline.
Whatever became of your very first book?
Poplar Place is the first book I wrote, but my second publication. A little romance, Second Chance Christmas, I wrote last year was the first out of the gate. It’s taken me longer to get Poplar Place published because it crosses genres, and for the most part publishers don’t like that. If you’re a newbie, publishers like you to fit into their boxes. I’m sure in large part because it helps with marketing, so I can’t say I blame them.
Do you have any other books? What do you have planned next?
I’m working on a romance trilogy right now about three women, living in California who are so focused on their careers, they need a little help with their love lives. The first is an interior designer, the second owns her own event planning business, and the third is a museum curator.
What inspired you to write Poplar Place?
When my oldest son was a toddler I wrote up a couple of different outlines, characters, and the first chapters of three different stories. Then my second came along and I stuffed it all in a drawer because I simply didn’t have time or the creative energy to write. Once my youngest started attending pre-school, I finally had a little time to myself. So, I pulled Poplar Place out of the drawer and started typing.
Was Poplar Place easy to write?
In a way I think Poplar Place was the easiest to write. I didn’t have any deadlines. I’d been ruminating on the plot for so many years that it was clear in my mind, and I had nothing to lose. Now it’s different. Future books tend to have deadlines and you have less time to create the storyline.
What is your favorite part? (If you’d like to share a little excerpt of that part, you may do so.)
My favorite part to write was the climax, and…sorry folks…because it was the climax I can’t share an excerpt with the audience. The full climax came to me in a dream after I’d written only a few chapters. The action sequence was so clear and exciting that I banged it out and filed it until it was the right time to slip it into the story.
Some authors write in chunks like this. However, I don’t recommend it because it can cause inconsistencies and wreak havoc on character attributes.
For Fun Questions:
What’s your favorite TV show or movie of all time?
TV Show is a toss-up between Friends and MASH. Movie is waaaay to hard. There are too many to choose from.
If you could chose a period in history to be born in, what would it be and why?
Now. Air conditioning is my best friend and the best invention EVER. I’m not sure I could survive in the clothing women had to wear back in the day without it. I’m a realist and I like my creature comforts. I also live in an area with hot, humid summers; A/C keeps me sane.
What was the most embarrassing thing your husband/boyfriend/partner/friend ever did to you in public?
Back in college I had a friend drop a drink on my head when we were out at a bar. That was pretty embarrassing. It also had lemonade in it, so it was really sticky. Sadly for the most part, all the embarrassing things that happened in my life can be contributed directly to my own stupidity or clumsiness.
What is the one place you have never visited but would love to?
Egypt. It’s on the Bucket List. I think I was an Egyptologist in a former life, I’m desperate to see the Pyramids, Luxor, the Cairo Museum, everything. Maybe one day the political climate will improve and I’ll feel comfortable traveling there.
If you were stranded on a desert island and could chose any famous person (living or dead), who would you chose to be stranded with you and why?
I don’t like to camp, so I’m going to have to choose an outdoorsman like Davey Crockett. I’d pretty much rely on him to hunt and catch stuff for us to eat, and show me how to build a shelter.
Cake or Chips — CAKE, I’m a huge fan of cake. All shapes and sizes.
Steak or Veggie Burger — Steak. What can I say, I like cow.
Chocolates or Roses — Chocolate.
Boxers or Briefs or Nothing at all – Boxers.
And since I write both, I have to know which you prefer… Vampires or Cowboys
Cowboys, I like how they look in their tight jeans and cowboy hats. Yehaw!
That’s all folks. I hope I’ve lived up to your reader’s expectations.
One last thing…
Book Groups – Visit my website, www.ellenbutler.net to find book club questions on Poplar Place. I’m available to be a guest author for book clubs as well. Fill out the contact form on the website for more information.
Newly minted librarian, Cara Baker, effectively cuts ties with her tumultuous life in Pittsburgh, and moves to South Carolina where she embraces the peaceful, laid-back style of small town living. Everything seems to be falling into place when Cara finds the perfect house to round out her new plans. Well… perfect except for the immovable hermit living on the top floor. She throws caution to the wind, and buys the fabulous house—hermit and all—without meeting him. By wooing her reclusive renter with notes and mouthwatering meals, he caves and invites her up to the apartment. Preconceived notions are blown out of the water, when she finds Danny isn’t the nerdy Mr. Mole she envisioned.
Unfortunately, FBI phone calls from her past bring Cara’s summer idle to an abrupt halt. Will demons from a former life destroy Cara’s tranquility?
I resigned myself to returning the FBI phone calls. I couldn’t put it off any longer. Both Bryant and Hutchins had left phone messages again yesterday, and their persistence made me nervous. Rolling out of bed, I shuffled downstairs to start the coffee, my liquid courage. I drank half a cup and dialed. Hutchins didn’t answer. I braced myself and dialed Special Agent Bryant.
“It’s Cara Baker.”
“Listen, I have some news. The U.S. Marshals have lost contact with Tony Rizolli.”
I paused to digest this.
“You must be joking! How the hell did that happen?”
“His tracking anklet was cut, and he disappeared.”
“Do they think he’s been whacked?”
“They’re not sure.”
“Why are you calling me? You do realize I no longer work for the DA’s office.”
“Yes, we know that.”
Exasperated I asked, “Then why are you calling to tell me this? Not much I can do.”
“I’m concerned about your safety. Tony bore a lot of hostility toward you.”
“The FBI’s concerned, or you’re concerned?”
“I’m concerned.” He stated matter-of-factly.
“What does the FBI think?”
“The FBI thinks there’s a leak in the Marshals’ office and Rizolli’s six feet under.”
“Why does Tony have so much animosity toward me? He walked into a shiny new life provided by the American taxpayers.”
I took a moment, rubbing a hand across my eyes. “What does he know?”
“We’re not sure. I think one of the pencil pushers at the Marshals’ office told him about the Cayman accounts during relocation. There was very little legitimate money he could take into the program. He wasn’t happy about it.”
I sucked in a breath. “Agent Bryant….”
“Call me Tom.”
“Tom, what exactly are you worried about?”
“If Rizolli isn’t sleeping with the fish, he’s a loose cannon. I don’t trust him. You may be in danger.”
“And you need to watch your back. Call me or Hutchins if you see anything suspicious. I mean anything out of the ordinary. If you see a strange car in the neighborhood, get the plates and call me.”
“I’ll take that under advisement, Agent Bryant. What about Denise?”
“She’s covered. I’ve called in some favors.”
“Fine. Please let me know if anything new develops.”
Ellen Butler lives in the Virginia suburbs of Washington, DC, and she considers herself an old-new writer. In other words, she’s old to writing, new to novel writing. She holds a Master’s Degree in Public Administration and Policy, and her history includes a long list of writing and editing for dry but illuminating professional newsletters, and windy papers on public policy. The leap to novel writing was simply a creative outlet for Ellen’s over active and romantic imagination to run wild.
You can find Ellen’s debut release, Second Chance Christmas, at Amazon. Professionally, she belongs to the Virginia Writer’s Club, the Northern Virginia Writer’s Club, and is a founding member of the Tempting Romance blog. When she’s not writing, Ellen is either, running around after her children, decorating a neighbor’s house, or holed up in her favorite lounge chair reading. Ellen is an admitted chocoholic and confesses to a penchant for shoe shopping. Book club questions for Ellen’s novels can be found on her website.