Anyone remember the song, It's the Final Countdown? Well here we are with only four sleeps and a wake up until Christmas Day here in Northern NJ. The weather has been cold, snow, warm, rain, some sun, mostly clouds. In other words typical. I'm going to take just a moment to brag and then we'll get right to today's guest. I woke up just the other morning to learn both Rock House Grill and Jazz House won third place in the Mid-Atlantic Author's Society contest. Yay! Okay, I promised so please help me welcome Darlene Deluca to the fire
Hi, Darlene thanks so much for joining us today. I'm going to make us a hot chocolate while you introduce yourself by sharing who you are other than your bio?
I’m a mom and a wife, a volunteer, an INTJ and a middle child. I’m a Kansas University grad and therefore, a Jayhawk fan. I value education and personal freedoms.
What interests besides writing do you enjoy?
I read a little bit of everything but probably enjoy women’s fiction the most. A lot of today’s romances are a little too steamy for me. I like people stories about relationships. My book club often gets me out of my comfort zone because we take turns choosing books, and they can be any genre! I also do a little gardening and sometimes dabble at watercolors. The hobby I’m probably best known for is making cut-out sugar cookies for holidays and special occasions.
Who is your network or support system?
I have a couple of writer’s groups I belong to where I get advice and encouragement. I belong to The Wild Rose Press group of authors who are awesome about sharing and helping with questions and issues. Of course, I have a core group of friends I can count on to read and review my books and cheer me on!
I agree about the TWRWP group. Who or what books or authors are your inspiration?
My inspiration goes back a ways. Probably the two authors who’ve most influenced my writing are Barbara Delinsky and Judith McNaught.
Do you have any fun or outrageous talent?
Hmm. I suppose my cookies would qualify. For most holidays and seasons, plus big events like the Chiefs going to the Super Bowl, I make cut-out frosted sugar cookies. It’s a fun creative outlet—with much quicker gratification than writing a novel!
That's true. What is your neighborhood like? Are there any places you frequent? What makes them special?
I live in a Kansas City suburb, so I have easy access to big city events and places, such as museums and sports, but also a smaller community for neighborhoods and schools. I’m within walking distance of shops and restaurants on a nice day.
It sounds wonderful. What's your favorite childhood book? Did any particular writing inspire you to become an author?
Oh, this is tough. I was an early bookworm! I absolutely loved the Laura Ingalls Wilder series. I still have my paperback set that was one of my best Christmas presents ever. It is still near and dear to me. I read Pipi Longstocking and Harriet the Spy over and over. When I was a little older, I loved Trixie Belden. The characters in the Trixie Belden books seemed so real to me. I suppose my early preference for sweet romances came from Laura and Almanzo and Trixie and Jim.
If you could eat anything in the world right now, what would it be?
Some pastries/desserts that I fell in love with and are no longer available. There used to be a place called Napoleon’s Bakery that made amazing vanilla pinwheels. Perfect flaky pastry combined with sweet, vanilla custard. I can’t even describe how yummy they were! I would love to find a place that could recreate them. Also, a special kind of carrot cake. This was from a little local bistro. Absolutely the best carrot cake ever – not the sickeningly sweet frosting some carrot cakes have. This cream cheese filling had chunks of pineapple. The top of the cake was drizzled with warm caramel sauce and walnuts. The restaurant closed six or seven years ago. How I miss it!! (yes, I may have a sweet tooth—or two)
Oh, my! I now have a craving. We use to have a place called Worthington's Bakery near us. Long time residents still bemoan it's closing. Do you play board games? What games do you like?
Not as much these days, but my husband and I used to have some couples who we played Spades with. That’s a fun card game. For board games, I love Monopoly and Scrabble. But when I play Scrabble, I play to come up with the best words—not points! I really like an older gamed called Masterpiece, too. Played it as a kid, but it was never very popular. It was so fun as an adult to go to the Art Institute of Chicago and see the paintings from that game. We often play Trivial Pursuit at holiday gatherings. I enjoy it, but I’m not very good at it. I just don’t remember names and dates and…trivia. And it takes my brain too long to retrieve data from the past!
To bad you live so far, we love games. Spade and Hearts are some favorites What website or app doesn’t exist, but you really wish it did?
I saw a funny meme the other day that was a play on the old “liar, liar, pants on fire” chant that made me laugh. Wouldn’t it be great if there was app that would alert you when someone was lying?! Kind of like Frodo’s sword, Sting, turning blue around Orcs or Pinocchio’s nose growing? I’d love an app for that!
Or Wonder Woman's rope, lol. What’s the most amazing natural occurrence you’ve witnessed?
I was in a sand storm once in Palm Springs. It was crazy how fast the air filled and absolutely oblitered any sight distance. We were driving, and it was really scary to suddenly not be able to see anything! I’ve seen a couple of natural “wonders,” including Niagara Falls and Old Faithful geyser. Niagara Falls is mezmerising. I could stand and watch the water cascade long after others become bored. Old Faithful is such an odd thing. Such a strange phenomenon that it is so regular in its spouting for so many years.
We visited the Falls about two years ago. I was awestruck. About your writing, how do you select the names of your characters?
First, I figure out how old they are and then I research the popular names for the year they would’ve been born. I might look through an old phone book for last name possibilities. And then I try to make sure there is variety in the book. It’s amazing how many times I think I have the names down and then realize they all start with the same letter or some other issue. Once, I tried to name a kid Jason. Then I realized I had already named someone else Jason. So I changed that name to Jarrett. For some reason, I had settled on a “J.” So I go along for a while and then realize the last name is Gerard!! Sheesh. He could not be Jarrett Gerard! He became Evan. Of course, I tend to choose names I like for my heroes and heroines and ones I’m not as fond of for antagonists. It’s funny how names catch on. I named my main character in my women’s fiction series Claire, and then it seemed like half the books out that year all had a Claire in them!
Darlene, thank you so much for stopping by the fire and chatting. Before you head off will you leave us with a bit of information about your latest book and where we can find out more?
A blizzard at Tall Pines mountain lodge puts Melanie Beck within arm’s reach of an old high school crush and in danger of losing both her idyllic Christmas and her heart.
Christmas at Tall Pines
sweet contemporary romance
Release Date: Nov. 1, 2022
Melanie Beck is searching for an idyllic Christmas like the ones her small family used to have. Traveling solo and still grieving the loss of her parents, she’s counting on cozy Tall Pines Lodge tucked into the mountains of Utah to provide the elusive holiday feels with merry music, stunning decorations and traditional Christmas feast in a beautiful frosty setting. But a blizzard turns the winter wonderland into a hazard, and a chance encounter with a now-famous high school crush has her reeling with emotions she’s never quite gotten over.
Tyler Shaw, a Hollywood heartthrob and silver screen star, is so over a grueling film schedule and persistent paparazzi. In disguise and using a fake name, he comes to Tall Pines to escape the spotlight and get some much-needed rest. He’s hoping the adrenaline rush of downhill skiing at the nearby slopes will give him the reboot he’s looking for. Instead, he’s stuck at the lodge and is shocked to run into an old high school friend that he left behind more than a decade ago. He’s even more surprised to discover how much he’s missed
As their past and present collide, can an old flame ignite some Christmas magic?
Reviewed for Still Moments Magazine
This story was a delightful read. The setting, though storming, was charming inside
the lodge from the decorations to the music and holiday cheer, as well as the fireside
warmth. Melanie and Tyler have great chemistry. The storyline is realistic with a budding
romance colliding with being in the spotlight. A bit of family drama adds interest to the
read. A great read to get into the holiday spirit. This book would make a good Sunday
evening holiday movie special. Grab a cup of hot cider and get cozy by the fire with this
A peek inside
“Also, if you’re having an affair, keep that away from the camera.” His agent cleared his
throat and hesitated a beat. “But if this woman is someone special, we can use that to our
advantage. What’s the story?”
Tyler’s heart somersaulted.
This woman. He’d talked to Aiden about women before, mostly to enlist his help when
things went the way of a three-ring circus in the media. All of a sudden, the topic felt more
personal, private. He should’ve hung up ten minutes ago.
“I… She’s…” Damn, what story did he wanted to tell? Of course, she was someone special.
Funny how crystal clear that was looking in the rearview mirror. Even in high school she’d been
in a league of her own. The missed years weighed heavily on his mind. He had a feeling those
years represented missed opportunities.
A low chuckle came across the line, and he wanted to kick himself for stammering around
like an idiot.
“Well, well,” Aiden drawled. “This is an interesting development. Who is she?”
“We were friends in high school.”
“Uh-huh. And what are you now?”
Good question. And one he wasn’t sure how to answer. Friends? Potential lovers? A couple?
As he considered the possibilities, his pulse skyrocketed.
“Don’t hold out on me, Shaw. I need to know what I’m dealing with.”
He let his glance wander to Annie’s book, and he lifted it from the table. Turning it over, he
stared at her smiling face. Blood rushed to his head. He could definitely see himself spending
more time with Annie. She was someone he’d be proud to be seen with in public, and someone
he could relax with away from the prying public eyes.
But he would not be “using her to his advantage.”
“Aiden,” he warned. “Leave her out of this.”
Get your copy today
More about the author
Darlene Deluca writes contemporary romance and women’s fiction that explores
relationships – what brings people together or keeps them apart.
Her intent is to bring to life interesting characters that readers can relate to in real-life
situations that combine a little fun, plenty of drama (with perhaps a tear or two), and big helpings
of friendship, love and self-discovery, and will leave readers either cheering or sighing with a
satisfied smile as they turn the final page.
The Kansas City author enjoys getting lost in a good story with a glass of tea, a bit of dark chocolate and a warm, sunny beach.
12/21/2022 11:08:17 am
So nice to find this today. I always enjoy reading or hearing about the writer process. Darlene is a wonderful writer. I have read her woman’s fiction, and tend to agree about the romances. I want a story with layers and great characters. Darlene provides these well.
12/21/2022 11:53:48 am
Loved the excerpt, Darlene. And I have to wave madly at another Missouri resident (or is it Kansas??) My g/daughter is a junior at KU so I'm familiar with the Jayhawks and, of course, The Chiefs!! Best wishes and may you continue writing your delightful, heartwarming stories! Merry Christmas.
12/21/2022 03:37:46 pm
Thanks, Barbara! I'm in Kansas. :-) Merry Christmas to you!
12/21/2022 12:47:20 pm
Brings back memories from a long (long) time ago when I lived in the KC suburbs for a few years. Still watching the Chiefs! I really like Darlene's books -- just got Christmas at Tall Pines and plan to read it again this week as the Arctic Blast invades Oklahoma and I settle in for a few days of hibernation. I enjoy your blog, Ms. Stone!
12/21/2022 03:38:53 pm
Thanks for stopping by, Janet. Enjoy that hibernation!
D. V. Stone
12/21/2022 12:59:44 pm
Thank you folks for stopping by. It was great getting to know Darlene. D.
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Your Host D.V. Stone
Award winning multi-genre author and blogger. Fantasy, romance, mid-grade. Nothing better than a campfire, book, and glass of wine. Okay maybe there is.📚
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