- Have the main character of your last novel introduce you to our readers.
“Hello. My name is Mike Sherman and I’m one of the two lead characters in PG Forte’s latest published work, Christmasing With You. I’m an accountant by trade, which I know is not very interesting. But then again, I never claimed to be particularly interesting. I’m just famous by association. My co-lead in Christmasing With You and in the book that came before it, Let Me Count the Ways, is a woman who needs no introduction; she’s the award-winning, legendary film star, Claire Calhoun.
“Right now, Claire is shaking her head at me and insisting that most of you are probably too young to have heard of her, which, if true, is your loss. And, frankly, inexcusable. She’s a national treasure. Go stream some of her movies and I’m sure you’ll agree. Claire also insists I add that she considers me the most interesting man she knows, but that’s obviously absurd. The most interesting thing about me is the fact that I’m in a relationship with her.”
- Without giving us spoilers introduce your latest and greatest novel or work in progress and let us know which it is and if it’s a WIP let us know when it goes live.
As Mike explained, my most recent release is Christmasing With You. It’s a little rom-com novella that just released November 1st as part of the Let’s Get Naughty Christmas anthology. The anthology is currently selling for only .99 cents—for 35 stories! But only for release week. It’ll be going up to 4.99 after that.
I like to say that Christmasing With You is what you’d get if the porn-parody version of National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation had had a baby with any one of Hallmark Channel’s snowed-in-for-Christmas movies. Or, as I say in the blurb: “An isolated cabin, a winter storm, a hungry cougar—what could possibly go wrong? In a word: Everything!”
- What do you like best about your main character in your latest and greatest or WIP from above?
Oh, let me count the ways! (yeah, that was a title pun—sorry!) My favorite thing about Mike is that he’s such a good person. He’s a little goofy at times, and Claire’s probably not the only one who finds his self-deprecation a little grating. But he truly is more interesting than he thinks. Once he develops an interest in something, or someone, whether it’s wrought iron, fine wine, hot stone massage, Maui Sunset Macaws—or Claire—he has to learn all about it. He’s a little obsessive by nature, but Claire hasn’t had a lot of good guys in her life so he’s just what she needs. Plus he absolutely adores her. And isn’t that something we all want and need in our lives?
As for Claire, I love that she still allows herself to be emotionally vulnerable. She’s a survivor. She’s been through a lot over the years, but she hasn’t let it break her. In the beginning of Let Me Count the Ways, she definitely has more of a hardened exterior, but once Mike gets past that, well…let’s just say she’ll walk a mile through the unpaved, dusty, coastal scrublands in her Jimmy Choos to show him how much he means to her (that wasn’t too much of a spoiler, right?).
- Tell us a little about one of your side characters from your latest and greatest or WIP?
Christmasing With You is a snowed-in story, so it’s just two of them in an isolated cabin. Other than the wildlife, there aren’t a lot of side characters. So I’m going to talk a little about Derek Novello who features somewhat heavily in Let Me Count the Ways.
Derek is an instructor at The Body Electric—that’s the fitness studio Claire owns—and even though he’s quite a bit younger than she is, they used to date. Derek is a gorgeous, hard-assed yoga and martial arts instructor who’ll do anything for one of his friends. He and the love of his life (aspiring actress and dog walker to the stars, Gabby Brown) have their own stories—Waiting for the Big One and Going to the Chapel. Those are both out now. However, the Let’s Get Naughty anthology is scheduled to have a 2nd, 3rd, and 4th volume in the next three years (volume 2 is already available for pre-order, by the way, and yes, I have a story in that one, too). I plan on writing a Christmas story for the Derek and Gabby called Waiting On Santa for inclusion in Let’s Get Naughty 3.
- How did you come up with your idea for the above story?
That’s actually a fun story! I used to belong to a group of authors called the Nine Naughty Novelists. And one year we decided it would be fun to host an Ugly Christmas Sweater online party. We each chose a couple from one of our published books and wrote a verrrrry short story involving the two of them and an ugly Christmas sweater. My story was called Counting On Christmas. It’s just two scenes from the start of Mike and Claire’s first Christmas together, but I always wondered how the rest of that story would’ve turned out. Did the weekend live up to their fantasies? Did it bring them closer together, or drive them further apart? I mean, the potential was there for it to turn into a disaster, even though I hadn’t explored it.
When I saw the call for this anthology, I thought it was the perfect chance to write a story about the rest of that weekend. I happen to LOVE Hallmark movies, and I love writing parodies. Christmasing With You gave me a chance to indulge in both. And no, it isn’t really a parody, but it does poke a little bit of fun at some of the usual tropes. I had a lot of fun writing it. Counting On Christmas is still available as a free read. You can find a link for it on the FREE Reads page of my website: https://www.pgforte.com/free-reads
- What was your writing plan for this book or WIP?
Plans? We don’t need no plans! Kidding/not kidding. I’m somewhat obsessive in my plotting. I plot EVERYTHING out. But other than that…honestly, my only plan was meeting my deadline. Which I did—with two whole days to spare! Which is two days more than my last three books ended up with. I don’t like waiting until the last minute and I don’t usually write that way. But these last few years have been really hard writing-wise. And, yes, I know I’m not alone in that!
- How do you handle writers block?
Ugh. I hate even thinking about writers block. But okay, if I must…
It seems to me there are several different types of writers block, and they don’t necessarily respond to the same tricks. If I’m struggling in a story that I’m actively working on, I find that changing the POV can often help. Maybe the words aren’t flowing because the scene would work better from another character’s perspective. Maybe I need to change from first person to third person, or from past tense to present tense. Or vice versa. Sometimes I’ll do all of that and still end up switching back to what I originally had. But, still, something about that will, more often than not, shake the words loose and break through the block. Another thing I’ll try is to go back to the beginning and read through what I already have written. If I’m lucky, momentum will carry me through the block, and I’ll be able to pick up from where I stopped. And worst case scenario, I’ve edited and cleaned up what I already have.
Sometimes I’ll be blocked because there’s a different book or a different scene that I really want to write instead. If I’m on a deadline, I can’t switch books, but I can write (or at least sketch out) the scenes that I really want to be working on. That seems to help a lot.
If the block is keeping me from even starting a story and I can’t write at all, I’ll just give myself permission to write anything. I’ll lean into all my faults, do all the things “they” say you shouldn’t do—overuse certain words, or punctuation; head hop; insert long flashbacks; tell instead of show. I think the trick there is just to let myself play, to find the joy in writing that sometimes goes missing.
- Do you have a secret writing ritual and what is it?
Not so secret if I talk about it, now is it? lol! Only kidding—nothing’s a secret. I used to have to completely clear my desk off whenever I’d start a new book. But I haven’t had the time to do that in years. Ooh! That’s something else I’ll try if I’m suffering from writers’ block. Sometimes the clutter is subconsciously bothering me, or the last book’s artifacts are distracting me from my current WIP.
I need to make my workspace feel as much like the world of my book as possible. So I might choose a specific coffee/tea mug to drink from, pick the right incense or scented candle, choose a particular snack (yes, I peeked ahead), hang up ornaments, or windchimes, or suncatchers, or posters, etc, that remind me of my characters.
One other thing I’ll do is create cover art for whatever book I’m working on and use that as my computer’s desktop. That also helps because it gives me a visual representation of my characters that I can focus on. Of course, that sometimes turns into procrastination when I go on to create cover art for Works that aren’t even In Progress yet.
- What is your writing snack?
Like I said earlier, it depends on the book. But because I’m working on so many Christmas stories, atm, you can be sure I’ll be stocking up on eggnog, and holiday ice cream flavors this holiday season. And, of course, I’ll be making gingerbread cookies. I moved last January, or I’d already have had my freezer stocked. Luckily, I can buy peppermint candies any time of year!
- What do you do when you’re not writing?
Uh…read? I mean, there are all the usual things—spend time with my husband, our pit bulls, and our grandson. I’m in wine country so wine tasting is probably my favorite non-writing activity. I was doing a lot of yoga and walking, up until a few years ago. But then the studios all closed, and I moved twice, and then I broke my foot, and then I stepped on a piece of glass (same foot!) and needed stitches, so I’ve been way more sedentary than I’d like. But I just bought a new pair of hiking boots, so hopefully I’ll get back out there again, soon.
- What is your favorite season and why?
Oh, that’s an easy one! Fall. Because I’m basic like that. Although, in my defense, I’ve loved Autumn since long before PSLs were invented. I actually wrote a bit of flash fiction about loving Fall just a few weeks ago. You can find that here: http://rhymeswithforeplay.blogspot.com/2022/09/romance-writers-weekly-fall-flash.html
- What is your favorite genre to read and what do you like about it?
I’m pretty eclectic in what I read and write. Romance, obviously, but it runs the gamut—contemporary, PNR, romcoms, historic, small town, etc. I love to read and write m/m, f/f and menages. I lean more towards the fantasy/sci-fi/PNR side of things. As to why…well, to quote Willy Wonka (or the Gene Wilder version, anyway) I like to live in a world of pure imagination!
- Do you have a writer mission statement? What is it?
I do not—but it sounds like a great idea! I used to say that “I don’t have to write the best book in the world, I just have to write the best book that’s in me,” but lately I think my goal is to entertain readers and give them a safe place to escape to. The world is nuts and I think we all need a break from it from time to time. I can’t control what goes on in the world in general, but I can control everything that happens in my imaginary worlds, so that’s what I do. That’s what I focus on. I think of it as a public service.
- What do you listen to when you write? How does it help to put you in the mood?
OMG. I used to have a collection of several hundred CDs, because my taste in music is pretty eclectic too. Now I make Spotify lists for every book. They’re all public, by the way, and I’m on Spotify as PG Forte, so you can follow along and listen for yourself!
Basically, I choose whatever songs work for the book I’m working on. By which I mean either the tempo is right, or I feel an emotional resonance with the song, or it just seems like something one of my characters might listen to. Or maybe they just have the same title as my book! I have a LOT of Christmas songs on there right now because I’ve got…I think it’s six Christmas stories in a row that I’m working on? I also follow a lot of other people’s playlists. For example, there’s an unrequited love playlist that I listen to whenever I need to get the proper feeling of despair I need to write those dark, dark moments.
NOVEMBER QUESTION OF THE MONTH
What are you thankful for that’s you didn’t think you were going to be thankful for?
Huh. Something that I didn’t think I’d be grateful for? Uh…I guess that my hair is white, because I can use temporary hair color and it looks great, but I don’t have to bleach it or commit to permanent unicorn colors.
Ooh! Wait. I know. Decades ago, when ISBNs were really cheap (well, comparatively) my husband bought a batch of 100 of them, because, at the time, we were making documentary films. It seemed like a big, unnecessary expense, back then, and I was dead set against it. HOWEVER, I’m really grateful for them now that I’m an indie author because I’d have had to pay a lot more if I were buying them now. Of course, I’d probably be more thankful if he’d have had the foresight to buy 200 back then because they go faster than you’d think and my WIP list just keeps growing!
GREAT BOOKS TO BE THANKFUL FOR
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