Blog by VONNIE DAVIS -- International, Award-Winning Romance Author: Adventurous...Humorous...Amorous.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Where There Is Will by Monica Epstein

My guest today is Wild Rose Press author Monica Epstein. Monica writes about topics that appeal to women like herself--over 40 and nowhere near ready to throw in the towel and call it a life. She lives in a suburb of Washington, D.C. with her husband, her teenage daughter, and a collection of hats and fascinators. She dreams of being the Queen of England in her next life.

Monica has agreed to allow me to interview her today before she shares information about her debut release, Where There Is Will. First, dear, have a piece of coffee cake and a cup of java. Calvin grinds the beans himself--his special blend just for company.

Oh, thanks, I'd love some.

You know I was surprised to see you live near DC. We lived in Columbia before moving to southern Virginia.

Really? You know I heard there used to be a crazy woman who lived there. On Fall River Row Court, I believe.

You don't say! (Hand flutters) I'm sure I know nothing about that. You know (sniggers) when my gaze skimmed your bio, my eyes read you had a collection of hats and vibrators. Isn't that the silliest thing?

Let me guess. You lived on Fall River Row Court?

(Coughs and sputters) Pastries? Tell us the story behind the title to your book.

The original title was MUSIC SHOWDOWN. Not only was it based on the first chapter where Michelle and Will compare music, but music was going to be an underlying theme throughout the book. When music’s role was lessened (both because beta readers didn’t think it added much to the story and I’d have to go through the hassle and cost of getting permission to use actual lyrics in the book), I switched the title to A SHOWDOWN OF WILLS—a play on the word “will.” But I thought the word ”showdown” implies opposing sides of a battle, which I felt was too strong for the book. One day it hit me (probably in the shower, where all great ideas are created): WHERE THERE IS WILL. It still plays on “will” being both the hero’s name and a trait Michelle needs, but it’s a takeoff of the saying “Where there’s a will there’s a way,” as well.  

Great story. Tell us, what was one of your most embarrassing moments?
For as long as I can remember, I’ve hated wearing tight things, especially stockings and tights. I’m still not a fan of control top anything, and I peel them off as soon as I get home; sometimes before leaving my laundry room, where I deposit my shoes. So I cut corners whenever I can. 

I was in my twenties, the first day of a new job. I chose to wear thigh-high stockings under my dress. I had worn them before without trouble. This particular day, I wasn’t so lucky. The department manager was giving me a tour around the place, which consisted of a couple of buildings. As we’re walking, I feel a stocking slipping down my thigh. When the woman’s back is turned, I grab hold of my dress, being sure to include the elastic top of the stocking, and I yank up. The next time her back is turned, I do the same to the other side. This goes on for what seems like an eternity. We pass a bathroom, and I excuse myself. I pull up the hose as far as they will go and pray they keep put. They ignore my plea. 

I’m not sure how long I continue to walk and yank, walk and yank, but eventually one of the stockings escapes my hold completely and ends up wrapped around my ankle—in the middle of the facility cafeteria! I bend over, which I hope hides the fact that my face is the shade of Pepto Bismol, pull up the stocking with both hands, and take to walking with a wad of fabric (and an elastic band) in each hand. When we finally make it back to the manager’s office, which I am certain has taken as long as an elephant’s gestational period, I ask her for two rubber bands to help keep the stockings in place. Of course, I don’t tell her this is why I want them. I spend as much of the rest of the day as I can planted in a chair. 

Oh, that's hilarious. Has your road to publication been a walk in the park or a steep mountain climb? Give us some details?
Definitely a steep mountain climb. Writing the first draft wasn’t bad. I think I finished it in six to nine months. But then I spent the next three years learning how to write a book. I read books on the craft, attended workshops, and took classes. I learned how to show not tell, for example, “My stomach tightened” became “My stomach felt like I was wearing pantyhose two sizes too small.” (Given my distaste for stockings, I thought this was brilliant.) Also, I learned how to be more creative instead of using clichés, for example, “drop-dead gorgeous” became “bury-me-six-feet-under gorgeous”. And I learned to eliminate scenes, no matter how much I love them, when they don’t move the story forward, for example, removing song lyrics, as I mentioned earlier.

If your new release were being made into a movie who would you cast to play your heroine and hero?
I picture Will as Chris Hemsworth with Zoey Deschanel eyes, so if Chris can do a British accent, he’d probably get the part. I might even be convinced to give it to Robert Pattinson if he’d wear blue contacts, grow his hair longer, and dye it blonde! That’s not too much to ask, is it? 

Michelle would be played by Debra Messing, but she’d have to put on a few pounds for some of the scenes. 

Okay, darlin', time for my FAST FIVE:

1.      Heels, sneakers or flip-flops? Sneakers
2.     Chocolate, champagne or cheesecake? Chocolate but chocolate cheesecake would come a close second.
3.     Any tattoos? No
4.     Long hair, short hair or weave? How about chin length?
5.     Book or eReader? Book



When she moves to London following her divorce, Michelle Loeser has no interest in looking for love. She needs to focus on surviving without her ex’s six-figure income, coping with a severe fear of heights, and rebuilding her confidence. And if she keeps her promise to her best friend, she’ll pursue her passion for writing too. 

Will Sheridan found his passion early in life. At age eleven, he was cast in the starring role in a film series. Now, at the age of 25, he’s a celebrity at a crossroads in his career. He has no time for women who don’t understand his priorities. 

When Will offers to help Michelle acclimate to the unfamiliar city in exchange for cooking lessons, she figures what’s the harm? But jealous fans and coworkers, eager paparazzi, and a distrustful mother see it differently.


          I walked into my office cubicle, hung up my jacket, and logged onto my computer like I did every morning. I stood, picked up my empty coffee mug, turned, and slammed into Olivia. “Come with me,” she whispered. I sighed heavily and followed my co-worker into the conference room where I found Paige already sitting at the large table.
“I saw your photo in the newspaper,” Paige said, shoving a clipping in my direction.
“I wouldn’t exactly call it a newspaper,” I replied, but not having gotten a good look at the picture the previous night, I picked up the clipping and examined it. It was of poor quality—probably taken with a cell phone camera. I hadn’t noticed the caption yesterday: Will Sheridan gets attacked by cougar. Despite the lack of creativity in those words, my insides felt like they were being attacked by a cougar. “Nice,” I said pretending to sound disinterested as I pushed the paper back toward Paige.
“Well what?”
“Tell Olivia and me what you’re doing in the paper.”
“Kissing someone.”
“This is no time to be cheeky. Just what were you doing kissing William Sheridan? We didn’t even know you knew him.
“You do know him, right?” Olivia interjected.
“No. I just walked up to him in a café, sat on his lap, and planted a wet one on his mouth.”
“You’re on his lap?” Olivia gave the clipping another look. “Why, you are on his lap. And he has no shirt on.”
I let out a deep breath. “I met Will when I first came to London, and we became friends. We’ve spent a lot of time together and gotten to know each other quite well.” Paige’s expression begged me to define how well I knew him. “We’ve become a little more than friends recently.”
“By snogging naked in a café?”
Even I had to laugh at the silliness of Paige’s statement. “I admit, it does look pretty bad, but for your information, Will is not naked, he’s just shirtless.”
“The caption says he’s shirtless and trouser-less,” Olivia corrected.
“He was covered.”
“By a towel,” Olivia added.
“A bath sheet,” I corrected like it made a big difference. I went on to explain what had happened to lead up to the public kiss. When I finished, Olivia stared at me, open mouthed.
“So does this mean you’re dating William Sheridan?” Paige asked.
“Yes, I guess I am.”
I was barely out of the conference room when Paige griped, “Can you believe that American? She thinks she can write a novel and have one our most eligible bachelors.”

Learn more about Monica at the following:
Where There Is Will is available at HTTP://AMZN.COM/B00HJE46UA


Liz Flaherty said...

Great post! Of course, I may never trust a pair of thigh-highs again... I loved the excerpt, too.

Looking4Words said...

Liz, I have never trusted a pair of thigh-highs again. I've worn knee-highs, but if the elastic feels the least bit loose, I use rubber bands for insurance. But now that's it acceptable to go bare-legged, it's less of a problem. A whole new set of problems are introduced ;-)

Monica Epstein said...

Sorry my previous post came out with my old Blogger name. Let's see if my real name comes out this time.

Madeleine McDonald said...

Come horse racing in England, Monica. The Queen is a fan too. Hats and fascinators welcome, so long as they don't scare the horses.

Anonymous said...

Madeleine, I would love to, but hats and fascinators (especially hats) are a pain to travel with. But if the Queen invites me, I'll figure something out :-)

Barbara said...

Delightful interview, ladies!! Monica, your story sounds delightful. I'll look forward to reading it. And I wish you many happy sales. :) Barb Bettis

Monica Epstein said...

Thanks, Barb. The book was fun to write!

Mary Morgan said...

Wow! Great interview and love the blurb. Can't wait to read your book, Monica. Wishing you all the best. :)

Monica Epstein said...

Thanks, Mary. I hope you enjoy it.

Sandra Dailey said...

Great post! Welcome to the tribe, Monica. 'Where There Is Will' sounds great. Good luck!

Monica Epstein said...

Thanks, Sandra. This seems like a great tribe to be in. So welcoming and helpful.

Katie O'Sullivan said...

What a great excerpt! Need to add this to my TBR pile!

Angela Adams said...

Wishing you all the best with your book, Monica!

Lisa A. Olech said...

Monica, I had a similar experience with thigh highs. Walking down Broadway in New York City!! I tugged and shifted and tugged some more to my husbands horror. My skirt was past my knee and he kept telling me to stop I did. The next thing I know, I'm resembling a Clydsdale!! I grabbed hubby's arm to used him as a human shield, took off my shoes, ripped those suckers off my ankles and shoved them in my purse! Never wore them again!

The book sounds great! Putting it on my list as well!

Monica Epstein said...

Thanks Katie, Angela, and Lisa for your kind words.

Lisa, you had me laughing with your Clydesdale comment. You know exact what I'm talking about. Glad to know I'm in good company :-) At least we can laugh at ourselves now, but when it was happening? Not so much!

Amy Jarecki said...

Sounds like Will Sheridan is in for quite a ride! Good luck with your release, Monica!!

Monica Epstein said...

Thanks, Amy. The heroine Michelle's ride is even crazier.