Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Unexpectedly You by Lily Santana--Interview and Giveaway

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Lily will be awarding, at each stop, a gift basket with beach related stuff - salt water taffy, sand dollars, Carina Press discount coupon postcard, etc. (US Only)and one randomly commenter during the tour will win a $25.00 gift card to Amazon. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

Lily was brave enough to stop in and answer some of our questions. Thanks, Lily! I hope you are comfortable. Tell us, first off, why do you write in your genre? What draws you to it?

I like the reality aspect of contemporary romance because it is so easy for readers to put themselves in the heroine or hero’s shoes and imagine falling in love over and over again each time they start a new book, or in my case, a new story.

Growing up, my mom and her best friend belonged to Harlequin’s direct-to-consumer book club and they only ordered contemporary romances. As a result, when I finally found my mom’s hidden stash of Mills & Boon and Harlequins (hidden under my parents’ bed), I was hooked.

I keep waiting for my billionaire playboy, hot Sheikh, or bad-boy-turned-hunky-Navy Seal to one day sweep me off my feet. I’m still waiting….

What research or world-building is required?

I don’t have to do heavy world-building for writing a contemporary romance (thank goodness!). Bella del Mar is a fictional place loosely based on the seaside town of Manzanita on the Central Coast of Oregon. So, if any of your readers find themselves visiting Manzanita someday, they may recognize some familiar spots with a slight twist to the name.

Even though there may not be extensive world building, there is still research around plot elements. For Unexpectedly You, I interviewed several mortgage bankers to get the details on the various types of loans and foreclosure laws. To understand what kinds of issues small towns face, I combed through too many small-town newspapers and town hall meeting minutes - lots of Starbuck’s cappuccino helped. Finally, to get the feel of what life is like for commercial developers, I had many conversations with a good friend who manages construction projects around Oregon.

The best research I found is when I found a write up for a unique dog park a community developed with fake fire hydrants and doggie water fountains and pools. Of course I used this info as the model for the dog park that Mitch eventually builds for Emma. (oops – spoiler alert)

Name one thing you learned from your hero/heroine.

Unexpectedly You, at its atomic level, is about courage. Having the courage to change, to love again, to speak your mind. I learned from Emma that other people’s expectations can be a burden to live up to and hinders our ability to grow as human beings. We may all hate the thought of change, but with change comes growth and even though it is often painful, it is a beautiful thing. Emma taught me to stop caring about what others think of me – I dance to my own beat now. It only took four decades to learn this.

Any odd or interesting writing quirks, habits or superstitions?

I always think of the movie Bull Durham when asked this question and it makes me grin like an idiot. I am typically a logical and linear writer; however, I think inspiration for my stories and characters are gifts from some magical place I can only imagine inhabited by (in my case) the likes of Nora Ephron, Harold Robbins, Mario Puzo, Raymond Chandler, Elmore Leonard, Sidney Sheldon, Jacqueline Susann, and others. When the stories come to me (usually in the wee hours of the night or in the shower – go figure) I just shut up and listen. So, I am either jumping off the bed to grab my notebook or I am running sopping wet to my office to write everything down before I forget.

Plotter or pantser?

I’d like to coin the term plantser if it hasn’t already been taken. There is always a story I want to tell, but how it comes together is kind of interesting. I have a great group of writer pals who are my critique partners and we meet once a month at a coffee shop and plot like crazy. We have been known to nerd out with the plotter paper, colorful Post-its, and Michael Hauge’s Six Stage Plot Structure. It’s a sight to see.

I plot out the big picture – major milestones and then I let the scenes develop organically. I don’t plot to the n’th degree by scene/chapter – just the thought makes me want to bypass Go to Collect $200 and Go Straight to Jail.

Look to your right – what’s sitting there?

Really? I love this question. I’m not making this up – to my right is a poster size framed image of my book cover for Unexpectedly You. It’s my first book – I’m allowed to indulge, right? I want to see it every day so I can remind myself that all the blood, sweat and tears were worth it. There is a light at the end of the tunnel. And then there’s also my baby girl – Paulie, a Boston terrier who is always attached to my hip.

Anything new coming up from you? What?

I am busy working on several projects including the follow up to Unexpectedly You. My project pipeline is booked until 2015 – now I just need to sell it all.

The follow up to Unexpectedly You is tentatively titled Always Been You. It’s a lovers’ reunion trope.

When Olivia Simone inherits her grandfather’s dilapidated boat marina, she is less than thrilled to learn her biggest client is none other than Shane McKenna, the loser of an ex-husband she’d walked out on ten years earlier. Think Sweet Home Alabama meets The Perfect Storm. The story is set in another small town called Bandon-by-the-Sea, a charming seacoast village on the Southern Oregon Coast.

Do you have a question for our readers?

Most definitely. What would make you want to try out a new author? There are so many of us out there today with the proliferation of small press and indie publishing. I’m curious as to what grabs a reader’s attention – enough to purchase the book?

About the Author:
Lily Santana is an author of contemporary romance. Her first book, Unexpectedly You, was released August 26, 2013 with Carina Press.

Lily is a native of the Philippines but stewed for twenty-five years in the melting pot of New York City to which she credits her respectable ability to curse in multiple foreign languages. Fortunately, she also discovered the NYC Library where she spent countless hours daydreaming of one day becoming an author.

Like many of her readers, she began reading romance as a tween when she stumbled fortuitously upon her mother's stash of Harlequins and Mills & Boon. She loves sexy alpha heroes with a sense of humor and a little bit o’ grit.

Today Lily lives in the rainy Pacific Northwest with her two adorable puppies. When she's not writing, Lily spends her time splashing into puddles, shucking oysters, and learning to eat ice cream in the rain.

Learn more at www.LilySantana.com or email her at lily@lilysantana.com Follow her on Twitter @lilyoftheword.

To save his flailing real estate development project Mitch McKenna knows what he must do: persuade his nemesis and neighbor Emma LeFleur to go to bat for him and convince the town that he’s a sweetheart. Easy as pie, unless you consider he’s threatened to bulldoze her home with her in it.

Buy the book at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or Carina Press.


  1. Thank you for hosting me this afternoon. I look forward to your comments.

    Lily Santana

  2. I read a lot of blogs, so definitely reviews that point out things I enjoy in a novel. A good blurb, also. If I see a book in a store by an author I've never read, the blurb is what's going to suck me in!


  3. Thanks for sharing the great interview and the giveaway. Sounds like a great book. evamillien at gmail dot com

  4. Congratulations on the publication of Unexpectedly You! It sounds like a wonderful book. Great interview. Thanks for sharing.

  5. Congrats on your first book! You have a perfect right to frame the book cover. I hope you will have many future book covers to frame, too.
    catherinelee100 at gmail dot com

  6. Sounds like a nice setting

    bn100candg at hotmail dot com

  7. Great to get to know you better Lily.


  8. Great to get to know you better Lily.


  9. Great interview, I enjoyed reading it.


  10. Hi All! Thank you for the wonderful feedback. You made my day.
    The winner of It's Raining Books gift bag is Catherine Lee. Catherine, I'll email you privately for your address. P.S. I can only ship to US locations. Thank you again.

  11. Great interview!
    Sounds like a great read!!
    Thanks for the chance to win!
    natasha_donohoo_8 at hotmail dot com

  12. Hi! BookLady won the $25.00 AMZ Gift Card for this tour. Congratulations BookLady.

    Lily Santana


So... inquiring minds want to know: what do you think?