Monday, October 12, 2015


Q) The Black Cat wants to hear more about your cats working as writing assistants.

Little Buddy

Yes! I have my black cat, Pierre Clovis, and my tiger-striped baby, Little Buddy. The cats can't resist an open lap. And a lap with a laptop on it is still considered open in their minds. So, it's not unusual to have one or both cats curled up in my lap as I work. There's something peaceful and comforting about having these little beings cozied up to me while I create something with words. Somehow, they help the words and ideas flow a little easier. :-)

Pierre Clovis

Q) What do you wish people knew about infertility? I'm impressed you wrote a book about this. I feel like miscarriage is a taboo subject no one wants to talk about, and yet 1/3 of pregnancies ends in miscarriage. When I had a miscarriage, the support was overwhelming--so many others had gone through it before I had, and I didn't even have a clue because no one talked about it. Why don't people talk about this? (See my BLOG on this topic)

First, I'm so sorry to hear you experienced a miscarriage. I did as well after getting pregnant through in vitro fertilization. I wish people understood that it's a medical challenge. Being unable to get pregnant doesn't mean you need to relax more, stop trying, or any of the other silly things people say to couples struggling with infertility. As with many medical conditions, infertility causes grief, anger, frustration, a feeling of helplessness, and loneliness. I think there's also a sense of shame: why doesn't my body do what it's supposed to do? I think some people look at infertility couples and wonder what one or both partners did to cause the infertility. In many cases, doctors may never identify the cause. This is called unexplained infertility. Even though I received a diagnosis of endometriosis, it didn't make my situation easier. Most women who have endo eventually get pregnant, but I never did. So, I want people to understand how challenging an infertility diagnosis is and look at couples through a lens of compassion. Many infertile couples grieve in private and pay out of pocket for tests and procedures. The stress is very high.

Q) BEST life advice you ever received.

Focus on your journey and improving yourself because you are the only person you can change. I think so much time and energy is wasted on comparing ourselves to others or wondering why someone has chosen a specific path. If we turned that same time and energy into introspection and improving our own flaws, the world would be an infinitely kinder and more loving place. C. S. Lewis has a really smart essay called "The Problem with X" that addresses this issue in an eye-opening way.

Q) Please share a picture of your favorite shoes.

I'm sharing a pair of black shoes that I adore. They're so stylish, a little retro. They're definitely the darlings of the shoe collection. You may note these look rather large. I wear a size 11. It's somewhat difficult to find cute shoes in my size. I'm so glad Nine West offers a lot of its shoes in 11. I'm also sharing a photo of Barbie shoes made into earrings. So much of my childhood was spent sitting among my Barbies, their clothes, shoes, and furniture. These cute little shoe earrings are a cool throwback to those happy times.

Q) What's your favorite Disney film?

Christian Bale in Little Women

Newsies! (Bonus points if you don't have to Google it.) I guess it's a little better known these days because it's finally made its way to Broadway. Three of my closest friends in high school and I created our own plans for taking Newsies to the stage back in the mid-90s. (Yes. I was that cool in high school. *adjusts nerd glasses*) And hey...I was crushing on Christian Bale before most people had ever heard of him.

perfect crushing material here

Q) How do you balance having a family and writing? Time is such a constraint.

It's very challenging. I do almost all of my writing and marketing work after my children are asleep. I work part-time while the kids are in school, leaving very little time during the day to write. I have to know when to step away from it and go on a TV-watching binge with my husband. This helps me avoid burn out. So, after the kids are asleep, I'm either writing or doing nothing and watching something awesome on Netflix.

Q) What event would you call your breakthrough as an author?
I suppose it would have to be Pitchmas. That's the contest last December during which my pitch caught the eye of Lisa Gus at Curiosity Quills Press. That one contest is what led to my book being published. Talk about a breakthrough! I'm so grateful to Jessa Russo and Tamara Mataya hold this contest every year to help writers connect with publishers and agents.

Q) What do you know now that you wish you knew much earlier on as an author?
I wish I'd known how important genre is. When I first started writing my book, I just wrote a story that I liked. I didn't understand the importance of making it "fit" into a genre. My book still doesn't fit perfectly into the traditional constraints of the romance genre, but it's definitely a romance. When I read books, I'm not choosing books because they're in a particular genre. I'm looking for a book that has a great story told in an engaging way. For that reason, you'll find me reading rather widely: Stephen King, Elin Hilderbrand, Deborah Harkness, and works by new authors in a variety of genres.

Q) What's the best marketing advice you can give other authors?
Identify your book's target audience and market to them with messages that will engage them and resonate with them. I do marketing now as my day job, and this is such a critical part of almost everything we do. Once you know your target audience and the messages that resonate with them, this information will influence which platforms you use to reach them, the language you use in marketing materials, the visual brand you use (the kinds of fonts, colors, imagery, etc). If an author can think in this direction, it's very helpful.

Q) Name 5 books you wish you'd written (and not just for the money and fame).

One of my favorite books is The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. There are so many wonderful insights in this book, yet it's never preachy. I wish I could write something that impactful and meaningful. The Time Traveler's Wife is so well done and different in the way it's told out of chronological order, giving the reader a sense of what it's like for Henry to travel between different moments in time. I wish my brain could create a story like that! Similarly, Life After Life by Kate Atkinson is told in an unusual way: the main character dies multiple times. It took me a few chapters to get into the groove of this book, but after I did, I really loved it and appreciated what the author was trying to do. I love that she breaks one of the cardinal rules of fiction writing, and does repeatedly: don't kill off your main character! Abundance by Sena Jeter Naslund. This work of historical fiction is all about Marie Antoinette. I read this book while I was traveling in Europe, so it just has a special place in my heart. I think this book is well-written and beautifully told. I wish I had the patience to write historical fiction like this. Finally, I think it's very hard to write things that make people laugh, so I give big props to David Sedaris. I wish I could write something as funny as Me Talk Pretty One Day.

Q) List 5 books you loved as a child.

Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls, Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis, A Child's Garden of Verses by Robert Louis Stevenson (I loved several books of poems), and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl.

Q) If you were to be executed tomorrow, what would you choose as a meal for your last supper?

I love how your question removes calories and fat grams from consideration. Ha! I'm a foodie, so this is a really tough question. I suppose I'd want a Cesar Salad, pasta with a spicy creamy red sauce and pancetta, and caramel cake for dessert.

A popular, young royal couple can't produce an heir? INCONCEIVABLE!

When Ozarks native Hatty goes “whole hog” during karaoke, she catches the eye of Prince John. He isn’t what she expects the heir to a small European nation to be: he's affable, witty, and isn’t put off by her tell-it-like-it-is demeanor. Their flirtation should be short lived, but a force stronger than fate—Hatty’s newspaper editor—assigns her to cover the royals. After spending time together, she and John soon begin dating, and Hatty finds herself making headlines instead of writing them.

But challenges loom that are even more complicated than figuring out how to mesh Hatty's journalism career with life at Belvoir Palace. Hatty and John soon find themselves embroiled in an unusual sex scandal: they can't produce an heir. Tabloids dub Hatty a “Barren-ess,” and the royals become irate. Hatty politely tells them to shove it. But beneath her confident exterior, she struggles to cope with a heartbreak that invades her most intimate moments with John. Pressured to choose between invasive medical procedures and abandoning John’s claim to the throne, the couple feels trapped until a trip to Ethiopia shows them happy endings sometimes arrive long after saying “I do.”

Tegan Wren bio

The best compliment Tegan Wren ever received came from her sixth grade teacher: “You always have a book in your hand!”

Guided by her love of the creative process, Tegan grew up acting in theatre productions and writing poetry, short stories, and plays. She turned her eye to writing about real life when she worked as a journalist, producing reports for various radio and television stations in medium and large markets in the Midwest and also filing some stories for a major national news network.  Wren has both a Bachelor’s of Journalism and a Master of Arts in Communications. After completing her graduate degree, Tegan had the opportunity to teach journalism courses at a major state university. She absolutely loved training the next generation of journalists.

Tegan’s thankful that she’s had the opportunity to travel overseas, and uses those adventures to inform her writing. She also draws inspiration from her own struggles, joys, and life experiences. Tegan and her husband, Patrick, experienced infertility for five years before becoming parents through adoption.



  1. Another great interview, Ann! Loved learning more about Tegan!

  2. Thanks for hosting me on your blog, Ann! That photo of Christian Bale is to die for--to die laughing for, that is! Love it!

    1. I was so happy I found that one--it's PERFECT! haha

  3. I'm looking at this again...That photo of Christian Bale kills me every time!!

    1. I know! He can be totally adorable--or completely terrifying--depending on the role. :)