St. Patrick’s Day is March 17th. How does celebrating a Godly man bringing Christianity to Ireland evolved into wild celebrations and superstitions about lucky shamrocks and wearing green? Inspirational authors don’t believe in luck. We don’t attribute our blessings to our own efforts or some mystical purveyor of good fortune. Our blessings come from one source — the Creator of the Universe.
When we share our stories of how and why we write, we know our lives and gifts are because this Creator wants us to call Him Father — Abba, Daddy. This is why I love asking authors about their writing journeys. I think you’ll love this month’s highlighted author, Harlequin novelist, and award-winning author, Tanya Agler.
Tanya Agler moved often during her childhood and settled in Georgia where she writes sweet contemporary romance novels, which feature small towns, family and pets, and themes of second chances and hope.
A graduate of the University of Georgia with degrees in journalism and law, she lives with her wonderful husband, their four children, and a lovable rescue beagle named Linus.
Represented by Dawn Dowdle and the Blue Ridge Literary Agency, she’s currently at work on the sequels to her debut. When she’s not writing, Tanya loves classic movies, walking, and a good cup of tea.
Tanya and I are both members of ACFW NW Georgia chapter. As you can see from her bio, Tanya is brilliant. We’ve been blessed to have her gifts and experience in our group. Wouldn’t you? Time for you all to see what I mean.
What was your inspiration for writing in general?
I didn’t become serious about writing until my older son was in kindergarten. It was then I wanted to figure out a way to transfer the stories I’d been creating in my head for years onto paper. After a month of writing at the library, I told my husband what I was doing, and he told me it was about time since he’d known I wanted to write for years. Then, we found out the wonderful news we were expecting. I thought I’d be able to hold a baby in one hand and type with the other.
Early on, we learned we were expecting twins. When they started attending Mother’s Morning Out, I realized I needed to get serious about my passion for writing. I started attending writer’s workshops, wrote everywhere including parking lots and doctor’s offices, and asked other writers for critiques. Since then, I’ve called myself a write-at-home mom.
Why did you choose writing?
Why did I choose writing? I think it chose me. I’ve always loved reading, and telling stories is a natural extension of that.
One thing I love about writing is that even though I’m a plotter, when I sit down to write each day, the characters always surprise me.
There’s one thing I heard last year, and I try to apply that to my writing.
I’m a huge fan of tennis, and I love watching professional tennis. Early last year, there was a tennis website that asked several of the top women’s tennis players how they plan to make this year different, and one player, Simona Halep, said she wanted to go out to the practice courts each day with a smile and find the joy in her game again. And that resonated with me. I love sitting down, even on the days when the words are hard to get out, and writing.
Oh! I love that! “. . . find the joy in her game.” Whether we’re writers, artists, teachers, parents — whatever gift God has given us — this is great to remember. Find the joy.
Why did you choose to write for Harlequin Books?
Writing for Harlequin really has been a fulfillment of my dreams. When I was a teenager, my mother and I lived with my grandparents for a short while. My grandmother worked at GC Murphy’s, and they sold Harlequins. Each month, she would bring home Harlequins for me to read, and I fell in love with books set all over the world with heroines who had exciting professions and strong conflicts.
I’ve always loved reading stories with a happily ever after, especially Harlequins. The books always feature settings of places where I’d love to travel and characters who have strong motivations. When I received the call, I was thrilled to have my book join the long line of authors who have written for the same publisher.
There’s something comforting about those “happily ever afters.” Tanya’s featured book is her newest release in the Hollydale series, The Soldier’s Unexpected Family. Her previous books, The Sheriff’s Second Chance and A Ranger for the Twins were featured in episodes of BOOK PRE-REVIEWS.
What did you read as a child? Or, what did/do you read to your children?
When I learned how to read, my father was stationed in Germany. My parents bought Dr. Seuss books overseas, which were published in Great Britain so they had pounds in place of dollars and British spelling. No matter where we moved, those books went with us and were soon joined by some of my other childhood favorites, including my collection of Trixie Belden books, which I still own today.
Those Dr. Seuss books are now in the bookcase my younger daughter’s room. With each of my four children, my husband and I selected a special book to read to them on the day they were born. I read each of them a selection of picture books. Some of my favorites included Cynthia Rylant’s The Bookshop Dog, Dav Pilkey’s Dogzilla, and other picture book authors. I loved taking them to the library where they would each pick out a pile of books, and then we’d come home and read the books to them.
What a beautiful tradition! I would love to see some of those Dr. Seuss books.
Who are your favorite authors to read & why?
One of my all-time favorite authors is L. M. Montgomery. When I was in seventh grade and looking through a rack of books, I found Anne’s House of Dreams and read that. Imagine my surprise and delight when I discovered a whole series, and I then read the first book.
In high school, I read Endless Night, which was my introduction to Agatha Christie, and I became a huge Agatha fan, and still love reading a good mystery. I’m a huge fan of Anne George, Carolyn Hart, Larissa Reinhart, V.M. Burns, and so many other mystery series.
As an adult, I love reading fiction and nonfiction. But my heart belongs to a good romance. There are so many talented romance authors, and I love reading different subgenres of romance so I always have something at hand.
Really, I could go on all day with my list of favorite authors because there are so many great books and authors out there.
What is one of your favorite quotes from The Soldier’s Unexpected Family & why do you love it?
Early in the book, Natalie Harrison tells Aidan Murphy that “Even silver linings need a little glue.” I love how that represents her character. In Hollydale, the small-town in North Carolina with the backdrop of the Great Smoky Mountains, people see Natalie as very happy-go-lucky, the bookend of her twin sister who’s more down-to-earth.
There’s more to Natalie, though, as she’s lived through some difficult times and she is aware of the importance of love and laughter in life, but as a kindergarten teacher, she knows a little effort can go a long way in how one approaches life.
I just love the line as it shows how people can strive for that happy ending, those little unexpected surprises that feel like a silver lining, but there’s something behind that silver lining as well.
A friend who once asked me, “What is important to you? What are you so passionate about that makes you cry out and pound your fist on the table?” What is your pound-on-the-table passion?
I’m very passionate about literacy programs. My sons read at an early age, and my daughters started reading later, but all of them loved having me read to them. I tell people, “I don’t care what age they started reading, what I care about is that they continue to find new books to get excited about when they are adults.”
One of my favorite volunteer opportunities at my children’s schools was the chance to go read to the students. From preschool to elementary schools for the past twenty years, I’ve always gravitated to the read-aloud sessions for parents.
At their fall party in 2019, the room mom did a fabulous job with the decorations and snacks, and I complimented her after I read three books to the kids. She said what she did was easy, but that she couldn’t read the books in different voices to the students, and I thought the exact opposite: reading was the easy and fun part. Her creating a fun party with creative snacks was a challenge.
Reading and literacy programs are my passion. I especially love the programs where a dog comes in and the children read to the dog. Anything to get kids excited about reading is something I love.
What a great idea! Reading to a pet! I love that!
What do you hope readers know about you and your books?
I have a long story to explain my answer. Seven years ago, my daughter’s eye doctor noticed something wrong with her eyes and referred her to a retinologist. A short time after that, the retinologist personally called me to tell me my daughter has a rare condition called VHL, which stands for Von Hippel-Lindau disease, which is a cancer-causing disease and people who have VHL have an increased chance of developing brain, inner ear, pancreatic, and kidney tumors.
One recommendation for people with VHL is to have yearly MRI scans to make sure there are no tumors, and if there are, they have a chance at being caught early for treatment.
I remember being in the MRI room as my daughter was having the procedure done, and since she was a minor, I was allowed in there without a watch or anything metal. I could, however, take a book with me, and I was reading a romance.
So the two things about me is I donate a portion of my books’ proceeds to VHL research and I promise the reader, that no matter where they are reading my book, there will be a story with a happy ending.
I hope readers enjoy my stories that revolve around hope and second chances. I try to deliver scenes that will bring laughter and sometimes tug at the heartstrings. While I don’t know where someone is reading my book, I try to deliver a relaxing few hours of laughter and love and hope.
Tanya, what a precious commitment to your readers. That they can depend on you to deliver an inspiring and satisfying read.
Do you have a recipe that compliments your book’s characters, setting, or time period? Please share.
The Soldier’s Unexpected Family takes place in the summer in a small Southern town. For the heroine’s parents’ anniversary, there’s a giant barbecue where half the town is invited. The heroine’s brother, who is the hero of my debut novel, The Sheriff’s Second Chance, is a fan of banana pudding. Here’s my easy, go-to, no-bake recipe for banana pudding:
2 (4-oz. each) pkgs. Vanilla instant pudding mix
1 (4-oz) pkg. banana instant pudding mix
5 c. milk
1 c. sour cream
8 oz. whipped topping (Cool Whip)
6-8 bananas, sliced
1 16-oz. pkg. vanilla wafers
Beat pudding mixes and milk with mixer in large bowl until smooth. Fold in sour cream and Cool Whip. Alternate layers of bananas, vanilla wafers, and pudding mixture in large aluminum foil pan until all ingredients are used. Chill until serving time. Prepare in advance and store in refrigerator.
Oh my goodness! My hubby would love this pudding recipe. Thanks for sharing!
Is there anything else you would like to share?
Yes, I’d love to share that the next Hollydale book, The Single Dad’s Holiday Match, will be an October of 2021 Harlequin Heartwarming release. This will be the first of a three-book trilogy and the series title is Smoky Mountain First Responders.
In my first book, The Sheriff’s Second Chance, the hero’s predecessor hires a new police officer, Jonathan Maxwell, who makes an appearance in A Ranger for the Twins as he’s the hero’s cousin.
One of my favorite lines in A Ranger for the Twins is actually said by his younger daughter, Vanessa. I’m happy to share that Jonathan Maxwell is getting his own book. From the time he came into the picture as a character in my debut Heartwarming novel, I’ve wanted him to have his own story, and this one is going to be lots of fun to read as there is a group of five strong friends who call themselves the Matchmaking Mimosas, and they are determined to make this Thanksgiving, one he’ll always remember.
The March Giveaway!
Tanya has graciously offered a copy of her latest release, The Soldier’s Unexpected Family. To enter, post a comment below about the interview. On Friday, March 12th, one entry will be randomly selected.
And if you haven’t already, I hope you’ll subscribe to my monthly newsletter — I have two special surprises for you. And, you’ll have another entry into the giveaway!
One Winner! And it could be you! Be sure to tell your friends and family to come on by and enter! Drawing takes place on Friday, March 12th!
NOTE: WANT TO INCREASE YOUR CHANCES OF WINNING THE SOLDIER’S UNEXPECTED FAMILY?
Check out my YouTube Author Highlight interview with Tanya. In the video interview Tanya will answer different questions, and provide some fun insights. By Liking and Commenting you will have one more entry. Sharing the video, another entry. Subscribe, and you have TWO entries for the chance to win.
That means, my friends, if you comment and subscribe -– or are already a subscriber -– to my blog, then watch the video and LIKE, SHARE, and COMMENT, then Subscribe to my YouTube Channel, your name will be entered SIX TIMES!
Be sure to tell your friends! See you there!
Thanks so much for stopping by. I hope you enjoyed getting to know Tanya Angler and her books. Next month’s Author Highlight is award-winning author, Sherri Wilson Johnson. God bless and Keep Reading!