Interview with Kristen Ethridge

I’m giving away a copy of my first story in the Holiday Hearts series, New Year’s Eve.

First why don't you tell us a little about yourself?

Well, let’s see… I’ve been writing most of my life and got to fulfill some dreams a few years ago when I finaled in the Romance Writers of America Golden Heart contest and Harlequin’s So You Think You Can Write contest. Out of that, Melissa Endlich at Harlequin’s Love Inspired line bought my first book, Saving Gracie. Since then, I’ve published several sweet contemporary romances and I’m working on the follow-up to Saving Gracie for Love Inspired. I live in Texas with my husband and two children and in addition to writing, I work full-time for one of the largest companies in the world. I’m a lot like many of my readers—I wear a lot of different hats during any given day. Some days it’s exhausting, but most of the time, it’s very rewarding to be a wife and mother to three great people, to work at a job that I love and to have the opportunity to create stories of love, laughter and happily ever after and bring them to readers.

Newest release?

My newest release is Lucky in Love, a contemporary romance about Ryan McBride and Lisa Fleming who are brought together when their respective grandparents meet back up through the Internet after more than a half-century apart. In mid-April, I’m bringing together the first three stories I’ve released this year in the Holiday Hearts Collection, Volume One. Readers will get all three stories of finding love on some of the most special days of the year—New Year’s Eve, The Cupid Caper, and Lucky in Love. Then, there will be three more Holiday Hearts stories later this year.

What can we expect from your stories, action, drama, romance,sex, blood and guts?

I like to say my stories are about love, laughter and happily ever after. I write sweet contemporary romance, as well as inspirational romance through Harlequin’s Love Inspired line. I like bringing stories to readers that center on characters and emotion and that people can share with their friends and mothers can share with their daughters. It’s always a great compliment when I have a reader say they love to share my stories with friends and family.

Do you have a favorite character in your stories? Who? and Why?

Oh goodness, I’m not sure I can pick just one! I really like Ryan McBride in Lucky in Love. He’s my first hero with a little more of an edge to him. And I will always have a soft spot for Gracie Garcia in Saving Gracie. She’s a composite of several people from my real life.

Give us an interesting fun fact or a few about your book or series:

There are two types of writers: plotters and pantsers. I’m definitely a write-by-the-seat-of-my-pants girl. I knew last year I wanted to try writing some contemporary romances that weren’t inspirational. And usually, when I’m thinking of a book, I think of the title first. In this case, all the titles that came to me were holiday-themed. So I decided it would be fun to do a holiday series. But literally, every book in this series started as nothing more than a title that matched with a holiday.

Has there been any other authors who have inspired your work or helped you out with your stories?

Oh goodness, yes! I have several wonderful friends that I’ve known for years. A few authors really inspired and supported me waaaaay back when. They adopted me in their RWA chapter when I was a college student, and we’ve stayed in touch since—Vicky Dreiling, Kristi Gold, Sandy Raven, and Diane Roth were all in that group, and I am so grateful for knowing them and the role they’ve played in my life and my writing. I’ve also been blessed with a wonderful group of writing sisters in The Firebirds, the 2012 Golden Heart finalist class. Other authors I’ve met along the way that have become friends are Kathleen Y’Barbo, Candace Calvert, Virginia Carmichael, and Jessica Keller, who debuted with Love Inspired the same month I did. These ladies are as great of friends as they are of writers.

What can readers who enjoy your book do to help make it successful?

I think every author will say the same thing: spread the word. Tell your friends. Post it on your Facebook page. Pin it on Pinterest. Tweet about it. Put it up on G+. Give a copy as a gift. And if you like it, take the time to leave a positive review on the site where you bought it. In my case, I’m starting a street team for fans of my books to help me spread the word as well. It’s always such a big, big deal to an author if you let them know you love the work they do. I know I appreciate it so very much.

Do you have any tips for readers or advice for other writers trying to get published?

If you’re trying to get published, keep at it. There’s a theory that says you have to put in 10,000 hours at something to become a master at it. I truly believe the same is true with writing. I decided when I was 17 years old I was going to write commercial romance with a goal of getting published. I took a continuing education course at the University of Houston campus by my house. I started attending RWA meetings before I could officially join. And then I kept at it, on and off, for the next almost 20 years. Seriously. Sometimes, I’d go for years without being really engaged because of life circumstances, but I never left writing behind, and I’d always pick it back up when I could. Continuing to dream up stories, to write them, to learn, and to try new angles and new avenues was the key to signing a publishing contract for me.

Do you have a favorite author? If yes, what draws you to that person’s work?

Oh goodness…I love every one of those authors I mentioned above. That’s one reason why it’s so fun to be friends with them. They’re all so talented. I love Philippa Gregory’s Tudor court stories like The Other Boleyn Girl. I literally devoured The Other Boleyn Girl in one night—it made for a very miserable day at work the next morning! I love Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series. I’ve been such a fan of her rich storytelling since I was in college, when Outlander first came out.  And I’m going to be a total fan girl and go see her speak when her new book is released this summer. I already have my ticket—yes, I am going alone. Ha. Emotions and characters and language get me every time.

Can you remember one of the first things you wrote? What makes it memorable?

My first publishing credit came in third grade. It was a poem that I wrote about the Challenger explosion. My mom had me take it to my teacher. My teacher took it to the principal. The principal took it to the local paper. I think that’s when I knew I really liked this writing thing. The next year, I started my first book. It was a sweeping Civil War epic, just like Gone with the Wind. Or so I thought. All eight pages of it. Not quite the same length as GWTW.

Where do you gather most of the inspiration for your work?

I’m generally inspired by real life. I like writing contemporary stories because I often read something online or see something on TV and think “well, what if…” Like I said before, I usually come up with a title first and then I match one of these crazy ideas that’s been percolating in my head with it. Then comes the fun part of creating characters and a plot to bring it to life.

Do you have any other interesting hobbies, pets or stories you would like to share?

I met my husband at a collegiate football tailgate, long after both of us had left college. I was picking up an extra ticket for a Baylor game—we’re both Baylor graduates—from a friend at a tailgate. I got there before my friend did, and this guy who was cooking at the tailgate started talking to me. Turns out, he had an extra seat on the 50 yard line. I mooched that seat off of him and we’ve basically been together ever since. He had good seats for baseball, too. J We are still very involved with Baylor athletics, and going to games is something we all do as a family now—both of my kiddos can do all the basic cheers. They’ve been taught since birth.

Favorite places to travel or visit?

My husband introduced me to Cozumel, Mexico, and it has quickly become one of my favorite places to visit. We even took our kiddos there last year via a Disney cruise. I love sunshine and blue water and guacamole, so it’s perfect for me.

Thank you for stopping by, we will continue our conversation tomorrow.

Julie Ramsy

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