The Evans Trilogy
by Jennifer Collin
GENRE: Chick Lit
Book 1: Set me Free
Disastrous love life aside, Charlotte Evans is rather content with her life. Her quaint little art gallery is plodding along nicely, and her sister Emily’s artistic career is about to take off, thanks to her tireless promotion. She even gets to see her best friend every day and drink his delicious coffee in the café next door.
But when dastardly property developer Craig Carmichael comes along, threatening to demolish her gallery and take everything away, Charlotte has an unexpected fight on her hands. Not only is she battling to stop Craig’s development, she’s also struggling against the mysterious magnetic pull that has her on a collision course with Craig himself.
Craig Carmichael is fighting the Battle for Boundary Street on more than one front. The tenants of the building he wants to knock down are mounting a strong case against him and in a hot-headed moment he put his career on the line for a project that is threatening to fail. If the project doesn’t succeed he will lose everything, but for some reason he’s having trouble maintaining his focus.
As their worlds begin to unravel around them, anyone could win. It’s what they might lose that has Charlotte and Craig wondering what it is they really want.
Book 2: Open My Eyes
Everything happens for a reason, they say. And sometimes the reason is you’re stupid and make bad decisions. Sleeping with her sister’s best friend is one of the dumbest things soon-to-be divorcee Emily Evans has ever done. But she’s determined to put it behind her and move on. She’s walked away from her cheating husband, managed to make a new friend, and found herself a real job and somewhere to live so she doesn’t have to couch-surf any more. Everything should be falling into place but for one problem – there are some mistakes from which you can’t move on.
Meanwhile, Ben Cameron is getting on with his life. After all, it’s the only thing to do once your heart has been stomped on by the woman of your dreams. Expanding his business and getting cosy with the girl next door are proving welcome distractions. He’s even happy to babysit his nephew, as long as he can to hand him back when he’s done! And thankfully, Emily Evans, the woman with the heavy boots, is avoiding him like the plague.
But Emily can’t avoid him forever, and when she drops a bombshell that turns Ben’s world upside-down, suddenly, getting on with his life takes on a whole new meaning.
Book 3: Bring Me Back
Andy Evans is on the move. For six long, lonely years, he’s been running from his past, leaving his family and his life as a drug-addicted rock star far behind. His latest move takes him to the sleepy seaside town of Oamaru, New Zealand, to sell cigar-box guitars to tourists. The only running he’ll need to do will be training for the half-marathon in nearby Dunedin. But when Andy sets eyes on Steampunk HQ, Oamaru’s main tourist attraction, he realises his days of running might not be over, especially if a certain Steampunk fan from his past catches up with him.
Annie Martin is on the cusp of great success. Her career as a Steampunk academic is about to take off, as long as she can convince one disagreeable, New Zealand-based Professor to sign up to the anthology she’s putting together. Thankfully, Annie is a master at maintaining her poise and few people, no matter how nasty, can rattle her. Not any more. In fact, it’d been a good six years since anyone had gotten under her skin, after her best friend’s brother had vanished into thin air.
When Annie finds her future career on a collision course with her secret past, Andy Evans is the last person she expects to find tangled up in the mess. With a vengeful drug-dealer or two hot on his heels, and a vindictive academic determined to ruin her credibility, can Annie bring Andy back to his family before it’s too late? Annie and Andy are used to being alone, but if they don’t work together, there’ll be much more at stake than her livelihood and his sobriety.
Book 2 Open My Eyes
Eventually, the midwife turned her magnificently fake smile on her.
‘Hi,’ Emily croaked, and then cleared her throat with an indelicate ahem. ‘I’m Emily, and I’m 28 weeks,’ she said.
‘And are you here alone today, Emily?’ asked the midwife, going straight for the elephant in the room.
It took Emily a little by surprise. ‘I’m … my …’
‘Her partner is late,’ said Ben, from the door of Clinic Room B. He made his way around the tables, and dropped himself into the chair next to her.
Emily’s brain switched off, and she forgot about everyone else in the room. She stared at him, wanting to poke him, or pinch herself to see if he was real. And if he was, so help her, she wanted to kiss him.
She drank him in. He’d cut his hair – his hair was cropped short, ponytail gone. She wanted to touch it, to feel the bristle of the strands between her fingers. The texture might prove he was really there. She couldn’t stop herself from staring.
‘Sorry, honey,’ Ben said loudly, kissing her on her temple. An audible sigh rustled through the room, reminding Emily they weren’t alone.
‘Play along,’ he whispered into her ear, before sitting back in his chair, snatching her hand in his and introducing himself. She noticed he was wearing a pair of denim jeans and a chocolate brown T-shirt, which fit snugly across his chest. She could count on one hand the number of times she’d seen him in anything other than black.
He turned to her again. ‘Close your mouth,’ he whispered.
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Jennifer Collin writes quirky, and sometimes gritty, love stories about ordinary people dealing with what life throws at them.
She lives in Brisbane, Australia, with her husband, two noisy children and a cantankerous cat.
She used to party, but now her idea of a good time is an uninterrupted sleep. These days, her characters do her partying for her, and she doesn’t necessarily let them sleep.
Jennifer agreed to answer some questions on her writing method:
What do you write?
My books are definitely romances, with strong heroines rather than vulnerable ones and guys next door rather than alpha males. I write with subtle, ‘small smile’ humor. There are so many sub-categories of romance, I find it hard to determine where I fit. My first book, Set Me Free, is a romantic comedy, but the humor is subtle rather than laugh-out-loud. My second and third books, Open My Eyes and Bring Me Back, deal with some heavy issues – depression and drug addiction. They’re not heavy books, but the comedy definitely takes a back seat. Open My Eyes is more women’s fiction / contemporary romance and Bring Me Back is romantic suspense, but both have hints of humor to lighten them up.
What genre do you favor?
I’m a rule-breaker, so I don’t easily sit within a genre. Because I work with light-hearted humor, I thought I was writing chick lit, but chick lit is often first person slapstick humor, and more about the main character’s growth than the romance. My books are definitely about the romance. I thought it might be contemporary romance, but my characters swear and are comfortable with sex, so I’m not sure they meet every reader’s expectations there. And because I deal with heavy issues, they could be considered women’s fiction, but the romance is probably too central to the story for them to fit there.
After much deliberation, I’ve created my own genre, which I call “chick lit with grit”. I think this conveys that the books are light with a bit of edge to them.
When did you realize you wanted to be a writer?
In the second grade I wrote a story about picking up a glowing rod from the pavement on the way to school and being transported to an alien planet. I remember being really excited writing the story and then, when my teacher wrote me a little “excellent work” comment, I just knew I’d discovered my calling.
What are the best writing books or blogs you’ve ever read?
The best book would be Stephen King’s ‘On Writing’, but most people would say that. As far as blogs go, I follow a few helpful ones. But what helps me more than Stephen King or those blogs is a Facebook-based writers group I’m part of. It’s a really well administered group, very disciplined and very supportive. It’s where I go when I need advice on crafting, covers, promotion and the occasional pep-talk.
What do you think is the best way to publish these days?
I’m self-published and I wouldn’t trade it for the world. I love having complete control over my story and my cover. Sure, I don’t get the exposure traditionally published writers get, but I’m still reaching my audience.
What are your favorite genres to read? Why?
I like romantic comedy and a bit of steam. I also need a fast pace to keep me turning the pages.
Don’t make me choose! Ok, if I have to… Jenny Crusie’s gorgeous rom coms are sexy and fast paced – I love them. And of course I love all of the authors in my writer’s group! This includes Geralyn Corcillo and Whitney Dineen, who are hysterically funny; Jennie Marts, who writes a great cosy mystery; and Clodagh Murphy, who steams it up nicely.
Do your characters talk to you?
Not so much talk to me, but they have conversations between each other in my head. They steer the story as well, sometimes taking me away from the path I’ve mapped out for them, which means a LOT of redrafting…
How do you approach starting a new book?
I use tricks I’ve picked up from working in an office environment. I love doing big mind maps on butcher’s paper, particularly for character development. For plotting, I write scene ideas on post-it notes, stick them on a wall, and rearrange them until I have a story. I like to have a fairly solid framework for the book before I begin, but I don’t always stick to it, thanks to those pesky characters developing minds of their own.
What is your writing process?
Once I’m done planning, I just start the churn. I try to get as much out of my head as quickly as I can, which makes it pretty messy. There’s a lot of redrafting during my first draft, and a lot of going back and forth to weave in new elements when the characters decide we’re going down a different path.
What are your non-writing hobbies, or what do you do to relax?
I have children, so “relaxing” is a forgotten art in my household! I do like to take them travelling though. I’ve always loved it and I want them to see as much of the world as possible. It’s quite the challenge from down here in Australia, because most of the world is a long, long flight away! So far they’ve seen England, Wales, Ireland, Northern Ireland, Scotland, Denmark, and closer to home, New Zealand and Vanuatu. I’m hoping our next trip will be Canada and the US.
What was your best date ever?
My first date with my husband. We’d been friends for a long time before we dated and when we finally decided to test out the romance, we didn’t want any of our mutual friends to know what we were up to. We went to the local casino, the least romantic place in town, where we knew we’d never run into any one we knew. It was fun though. We drank margaritas and lost small amounts of money on a few tables. When we got married, we dragged our wedding guests there for the after-party.
Navy SEAL or cowboy?
Navy SEAL. I grew up around cowboys on my parent’s farm. There’s no mystery for me there.
Chocolate or chips?
Chocolate. I am a total sweet-tooth.
If you could have a superpower what would it be? Why?
Time-travel, so I could fit more hours into my days to write.
Fancy restaurant or picnic?
Fancy restaurant. There’s too many bugs outdoors.
Beer or wine?
Wine, now I’m older and more subdued. Beer, when I was younger and always willing to party.
Smooth or hairy?
Jennifer Collin will be awarding a $25 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour, and a $25 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn host.