Prince of Granola–don’t you just love that title? And this cover! Please welcome L.A. Sartor as she shares with us about this exciting new release!
Only One Will Win
Cacao – long a symbol of wealth, love, and power – now the center of a powerful rivalry.
The fabled Costa Rican Plantation of White Treasure, source of the rarest form of the cacao bean, is up for sale. Though two fierce competitors have been invited to bid on it, only one can win.
For Drew Hopkins, purchasing the plantation is the perfect solution to escape a life she never wanted.
For Robert Prince, it’s the perfect route to revenge.
Drew, the founder’s daughter and now CEO of HH Chocolate, heads a company whose sales are waning. Robert, CEO of Prince Organics, a man driven by excellence, despises everything and everyone labeled Hopkins.
But it wasn’t always that way.
Will their forced proximity at the lush and exotic plantation rekindle old flames or will it fan the fires of antagonism?
Dear Reader Blurb
Cacao has always been a symbol of wealth, love, and power. From the ancient Maya and Anasazi peoples who drank the pleasantly bitter brew to the European noblemen and religious hierarchy who began to dine on it at their gilded baroque tables, to current times where you can indulge in gold-leafed truffles in boutique chocolate shops or bar-shaped candy off a grocery shelf, chocolate has been cherished, fought over and delighted in.
If you’re interested in an in-depth history of chocolate, The True History of Chocolate by Sophie D. Coe and Michael D. Coe is a must read.
Be sure to check out the exciting excerpt below!
Hello! I’m delighted to have you here with us, sharing about your writing process. First, please tell us a little about yourself and the kinds of stories you like to write. Would you say there is an underlying theme behind your stories?
Hi, McKenna, thank you for having me as a guest on your blog. I prefer stories with a happy ending, be it a romance, adventure, suspense, or mystery. And guess what? I currently write all four genres, though my cozy mystery won’t be out until 2019.
You asked if there was an underlying theme. YES, there is. Even though the characters all have differing motivations and conflicts, I think my theme is always about trust. Trusting another person with your life, your love, your heart, your child.
What part of the world do you call home? Can you tell us a little about where you grew up and where you live now?
I was adopted as an infant by an American couple in Germany, spent several years there before moving to Pacific Palisades, California. Loved it there. Adventure, beaches, palm trees, sunshine. Then we moved to Colorado when I about 10. I was heartbroken to leave CA. Now a gazillion years later, I can’t imagine not living in Boulder with a view of the icon Flatirons. The ocean still calls to me and I get my fix 3-4 times a year. I’d be happy with a beach home to visit anytime I desired, and my forever home in Boulder.
How long have you been writing? Did you write as a child or is it something you developed a passion for later in life?
Funny you asked if I wrote as a child. Ha, I thought I was unique, but I’ve learned that many writers start very young. I was about 4, and no I couldn’t write, but I told my stories to mom, who wrote them down and I “illustrated them”. I gave up my passion after a junior high school teacher told me and my parents that I’d never be a writer because I didn’t want to learn grammar, I just wanted to tell stories. Much later I regained the need to write. And it is a need. Today I have seven books published. I’ve made #1 Amazon Bestseller and won awards. I’m truly happy to be where I am.
“Writers should write what they know.” What does this statement mean to you as an author?
I think it’s very limiting in, or at least it seemed that way to me when I started, and as I’ve met other authors, they’ve shared the same restriction they feel creates in that phrase.
We know sorrow, suffering, love, happiness, fear–the emotional list is nearly endless. We might not know how an attorney works or the law, or a bakery, or how an AUV (Autonomous Underwater Vehicle) works, but that is all information we can find on the internet or library, as well as query people in the field. I didn’t know anything about cacao when I started Prince Of Granola, my new release. Or how go from bean to bar, or much about Costa Rica. I found experts who either emailed me answers or invited me to their business to watch the process. But I did know about the pain of separation, rivalry, betrayal.
So, don’t be limited by thinking you can only write about nursing if you’re a nurse (heck, you’re an angel) you can write about anything by tapping into the emotions you’ve experienced and then doing your diligence with research. And if your story is about a nurse, then you’re simply that much further along.
Are you a panster or a plotter? Do you outline extensively or write your story as you go along?
I used to proudly wear the panster badge. It’s a bit tarnished now. While I always knew my beginning and my ending, it would take me months to create a middle. Then I dealt with huge rewrites and editorial revisions. Now I’m developing my own plotting worksheet from various classes that have resonated with me. That worksheet is work in progress.
And lil’ miss panster, aka, me, is becoming the queen of spreadsheets for various reasons, like, ugh, expenses, but also I need book bibles for my series. I just did a blog on them here if you’d like to see what I’ve done.
What’s your idea of a perfect vacation?
Since I live in Colorful Colorado, and I mentioned above that I have to have my beach fix, my favorite spot is by a warm ocean.
Part of our day (our, meaning my amazingly patient husband should be with me for a perfect vacay) would be in the water and on the sand, with yes, sunscreen, and no, not with a mai tai in hand, that’s for after I’m done with the sun. Then go sightseeing. I always find things to add to stories this way and I make a record of them either with a camera set on video so I can record the image and my thoughts or my iPhone doing the same thing.
Later in the evening we’re either dining out extravagantly or eating local. I get recommendations from Triple D, friends and yes, internet research. Drink in hand, we watch the sunset. After dinner we stroll the beach, darting either into or away from the tide. And a last cup of coffee before we share a kiss and dreamland claims us. Sound sappy? Probably, but that’s perfection for me.
Do you see your writing as a hobby or is it your goal to be a full-time writer at some point in the future?
I was able to retire from my part-time “day” job at a somewhat early age. And instead of just enjoying writing, I turned it into full-time job. I was obsessed with writing, it took over. While my husband was patient, it became obvious to both of us that I needed to find balance in my life. My childhood phrase was “Lessie Do It.” I’m still pretty driven, even today.
So, it’s been more of a challenge than I thought to find the balance, and six years later, I’m not sure I’ve yet achieved that goal. I know I’m better at putting aside my laptop when I reach my word count goal for the day. I don’t get angry at me and the world if I miss a day (but I do try and make it up) and I almost never write while on vacation. I may jot notes, or record them and transcribe them in Dragon Naturally Speaking. And the recorder is never in a place I can’t put my hand on it immediately. Because you know, I do my best thinking in the shower and often, wrapped in a towel, I’m running for the recorder. My husband and writing retreat buddies are used to this.
Research: love it or hate it?
Absolutely love it. As I mentioned above, information and people with information can be found by being diligent about looking. And people, wow, they are generally so willing to help. For instance, in my second adventure book, Viking Gold, I made connection with a Colonel (ret.) in the Danish Air Force who’d been studying Nazi sub and airbases. The information he gave me, completely turned my story around and made it so much better than my original concept. The submarine base in Trondheim Norway gave me chills. Today it’s pretty benign, but its history! And so I used it, changed it a bit, but not enough to ruin the reality. I could go on and on with stories that SES told me about WWII but I’ll spare you. 😊
*How much do you think that a good blurb and good cover art figure into the success of a story?
It’s huge. I’m redoing a few of my covers and blurbs because I am able fix them now and make them better. I didn’t have the skills before, and I often didn’t know what I wanted to change in a cover or a blurb so how could I tell my cover artist?
I think it’s important to keep both fresh and updated. To reflect the times with the blurb and be as professional as possible with the cover. I like to try to tell a bit about the story in the cover. In Dare To Believe, my first book and a romantic suspense, I’m creating its third cover. While the first two were done by a wonderful graphic artist, I felt the cover needed some minor tweaks.
Hey, here’s a thought, check out the cover on my website and tell me if you think the blurb at the top says enough or should I say what I’m trying to convey on the cover, Color Won’t Return To Cate’s World Until Haley Is Found?
I’d love to hear your opinion. After all you all are readers, exactly the people I want to reach. (And if you’re a writer, hey, same goes. We read after all.)
Do you miss your characters when you come to the end of their story? Do you find ways to write sequels for them or do you become entranced with a new set?
I do write series, because I’ve found that readers love to find a character from a prior book in the new one. They and I (yes writers should be readers) feel like we’re in remembered territory even as new characters with their own conflicts, motivations and goals come into play. It’s like a treat.
In fact, my WIP Dream Of Me This Christmas Eve is being written because readers asked me to write about a particular minor character. We didn’t even meet in her Forever Yours This New Year’s Night, but apparently people liked who she was. Caroline Young will now have her own story around October of 2018. The 4th book in the Colorado set Star Light ~ Star Bright series. I’m pretty thrilled that 1) people responded to me and asked about her and 2) that I finally found the right story for her.
Excerpt from the Prince of Granola:
Robert watched as Drew, garbed in that ridiculous jumpsuit, followed Isabelle up the steps to the hacienda. Just before disappearing into the house, his nemesis hesitated, turned, and gave him a brief, provoking smile.
The furrows on his brow deepened. If this continued for four days, he’d have a permanent set of ridges.
How was it that the one person he avoided whenever possible was here now, after the same plantation?
It was ridiculous that Señor Camerillo would think of selling his rare cacao beans to HH Chocolate. They weren’t in the same league as Prince Organics. Or for that matter, any other gourmet chocolate company.
HH made mass-market chocolate bars, holiday-themed shapes, and bite-sized foil-wrapped squares, all with barely enough cacao in them to call them chocolate. And Robert knew that HH was finally in the financial straits his father had predicted when he’d walked out of HH’s headquarters the last time.
Henri Hopkins had been old-school through and through, refusing to move with the times. Robert knew that Drew had started working there right after grad school, but by the time Henri had relinquished the reins of the company to her, she had a dying business on her hands.
His thoughts returned to Drew’s brief taunting smile. How dare she?
What, taunt, provoke? Why not? We’re adversaries after the same goal. And I should have done it first, showing her that she didn’t have a chance. Let her be stewing. “Jeez, get a grip. You’re not stewing.”
“Pardon? I did not quite catch that.”
Robert glanced over at the señor, realizing he’d spoken aloud.
“It was nothing,” he assured the puzzled man.
But it wasn’t.
The last time he’d seen her was over a year ago, during a corporate panel discussion hosted by the number one business show on television. She’d been charming, articulate, and had the moderator in the palm of her hand. After the show was over, Drew answered a few questions from various business reporters, then fled the room as if she couldn’t stand to breathe the same air as him.
Yet just now he’d allowed her, however momentarily, to seize the upper hand as he focused on that taunting smile instead of simply ignoring it.
Doubled with that punch to your gut and groin when she pulled off that helmet and all that glorious chestnut hair tumbled around her shoulders.
About the Author:
I started writing as a child, really. A few things happened on the way to becoming a published author … a junior high school teacher who told me I couldn’t write because I didn’t want to study … urk … grammar. I went to college, moved a few times, came home and found the love of my life (that is another novel worthy story, but for later), and got married.
I have always been a voracious reader and one night after throwing a particularly bad book at the wall (even putting a small ding in said wall), I realized that I could do better. I told my husband, and he said go for it. I called Mom and she revealed the junior high teacher story and she told I’d been writing all the time up to that point.
That blew me away. I didn’t remember any of it. But I started writing again, nearly the next day, pen and paper, learning, making mistakes, winning contests, then moving away from novel writing to screenwriting, getting a contract for a script and doing really well in screenwriting contests. But I wasn’t really making a career from any of this.
My husband told me repeatedly that independent publishing was becoming a valid way to publish a novel and people were making big dollars. I didn’t believe him even after he showed me several Wall Street Journal articles. I thought indie meant vanity press.
I couldn’t have been more wrong.
I started pursuing this direction seriously, hit the keyboard, learned a litany of new things and published my first novel. My second book became a bestseller, and while I’m not rolling in dough, I’m absolutely on the right course in my life. Prince Of Granola is my 7th book.
Please come visit me at www.lasartor.com, see my books, find my social media links, some screenplays and sign up for my mailing list. I have a gift I’ve specifically created for my new email subscribers. And remember, you can email me at Leslie@LeslieSartor.com