Birdie heads to Liberty, Ohio, on the trail of clues. It is here she meets Hugh Schaffer, a recently unemployed investigative reporter. The two wind up sharing the only rental available in the small town. It won't be easy for Birdie to keep her secrets—or her heart—from a journalist hungry for a story that will restore his reputation and for a relationship that will restore his faith in women.
With memorable characters, breezy humor and a mystery that spans two centuries—not to mention just the right amount of romantic sparks—Christine Nolfi's newest book, TREASURE ME (Nolfi, 2011) fits the bill for anyone looking for a refreshing romance.
Christine, how did you come up with the idea for TREASURE ME?
Once the novel was underway, it became clear that much of the plot was derived from my personal family history. My late mother was of French and English descent, and her French ancestors arrived in Charleston, S.C., before the Revolutionary War. The history is sketchy, but they may have been plantation owners. Given that, I've always wondered if I have black relatives I've never met.
This question is dear to my heart because I adopted four children from the Philippines. When my children were growing up, questions regarding skin color were common around the dinner table. I hope I portrayed in TREASURE ME that family has nothing to do with skin color and everything to do with finding people you love and who love you in return.
What makes a book in the romance genre really rock?
This may not be a popular position, but I cringe at genre labels. Is TREASURE ME a romance? A mystery? Or simply an offering in the contemporary fiction category? For the life of me, I'm still unsure.
In every novel I write, I strive to create a compelling cast of characters enveloped in a fast-paced read. If the books make the reader laugh and cry, all the better. And sharp dialogue is critical. If the reader doesn't think, "I wish I had the courage to say that," then it's time for the dedicated storyteller to put the pages through another set of revisions.
This may be a bit off topic, but I believe the advent of digital publishing is in the process of dissolving genre labels. Online bookstores allow the reader to browse a variety of fiction within minutes. Anyone can post a review of a novel she's read, and those reviews drive sales. Forget The New York Times book review and the confines of the physical bookstore. The entire system has been democratized.
What is the hardest part about writing a novel?
Maintaining perseverance. Some days the words flow. Other days? It feels like you're wading in fast-drying cement. What matters is your determination to get the story down on paper and your willingness to revise as often as needed. I'm obsessive about revising ... and revising. If the reader is willing to give me several precious hours in her day then I owe it to her to write an entertaining story with emotional depth and rich prose.
What marketing have you found works best?
Nothing beats a good review. After an Amazon top reviewer gave TREASURE ME five stars, my sales spiked. The Bookcast graciously interviewed me for their debut program, and sales climbed. I'm looking forward to the November release of TREASURE ME in paperback to try my hand at book signings. It's still too early to tell what, exactly, works best.
What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author? What has been the best compliment?
For many years I owned a small public relations firm and learned to view all criticism in a balanced way. I have yet to experience an awful, trash-the-writer review, but if the venom ever flies my way, I suspect I'll shrug it off.
My advice to anyone pursuing a career as a novelist? Don't look for validation in the reviews of your books. Work hard, never rest on your laurels and commit to improving your craft every day. Do that, and the positive reviews will far outweigh the negative.
Now, the best compliment? I logged onto Goodreads in September and found a review by a young law student about the age of my oldest daughter. She began the review with, "I'm kind of speechless after finishing this book," and went on to praise both plot and characters. She especially enjoyed the story of Justice, the freed slave who travels to Liberty and becomes a successful businesswoman.
A young black woman wrote the review. Clearly she understood on a deep, emotional level the message about family that is central to the work. As the mother of four children of color this was fine praise indeed.
Can you share a little about your current work with us?
With luck, the women of Liberty, Ohio, will catch fire with readers, allowing me to extend the series indefinitely. SECOND CHANCE GRILL is scheduled to appear on Amazon in November or December. The third novel in the series, THE IMPOSSIBLE WISH, is scheduled for release this spring. I could easily write 10 novels about the town—Meade and Finney have their own stories and romances, and I have a very poignant plot worked out for Theodora and her nemesis, the fluttery Ethel Lynn.
I'll also be releasing a stand-alone novel in November, THE TREE OF EVERLASTING KNOWLEDGE.
What do you do when you aren't writing?
Read voraciously. Work out at the gym. Garden. Cook. Then read some more. The only part about writing fiction I don't like is how my own work schedule cuts into time spent enjoying novels written by other authors.
What is something about you or your writing that might surprise your readers?
I adopted a sibling group of four children from the Philippines on the approach to middle age. I've lived in California, Utah, Ohio, Virginia and recently moved to Charleston, S.C. I'd own 10 dogs if I had the time to care for them. And I'm in love with social media. Nothing makes my day quite like meeting other artists—and readers—on the Internet.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
In addition to owning a small public relations firm in Cleveland, Ohio, Christine Nolfi has written articles and press releases that have appeared regionally in The Plain Dealer, The Akron Beacon Journal, Cleveland Magazine and other media outlets. Her short story, Night Hour, appeared in Working Mother magazine. Christine has been writing novels fulltime since 2004.
Visit Christine online at her blog, her Facebook fan page or on Twitter.
TREASURE ME is available as an e-book on Amazon.
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