Interview with Tiffany Schmidt, Author of Send Me A Sign

Tiffany Schmidt is the author of the recently released  Send Me A Sign.  I’m delighted to have her as a guest in the virtual offices today!

[Manga Maniac Café] Describe yourself in 140 characters or less.

[Tiffany Schmidt] Former wild-child who blamed all hijinks on imaginary friends. Now: pretends to be a grown up, makes up stories, plays with impish twin sons

[Manga Maniac Café] Can you tell us a little about Send Me A Sign?

[Tiffany Schmidt] Send Me A Sign is about Mia, a superstitious high school senior who is diagnosed with leukemia. It’s about the ways Mia struggles with keeping her illness a secret because she doesn’t want it to change how people perceive her—and because she’s not ready to handle the ways it will change her life. In three words, it’s about: Love, Life & Luck.

[Manga Maniac Café] How did you come up with the concept and the characters for the story?

[Tiffany Schmidt] My stories always start with a character – I came up with ultra-superstitious Mia first, then looked for scenarios that would challenge her. Mia is terrified by situations where she’s not in control or there aren’t set guidelines for how she should act—cancer breaks all the rules for expectations. Mia loses control of her own body, and she struggles so much with not being able to predict or shape the way other people react to her cancer. The tension between Mia’s denial of her illness and her paralyzing fear of letting down everyone else drive the story. Throw in the normal, everyday pressures of being a teenager—because a cancer diagnosis doesn’t stop a person from falling in love, fighting with friends, or worrying about disappointing her parents—and you’ve got SEND ME A SIGN.

[Manga Maniac Café] What three words best describe Mia?

[Tiffany Schmidt] Superstitious. Over-achiever. Anxious.

[Manga Maniac Café] What are three things Mia would never have in her purse?

[Tiffany Schmidt] 1) A compact with a broken mirror. (Though she would always have an unbroken one).

2) A hospital bracelet, medication, or anything that would reveal she’s sick.

3) A penny found laying tails-side-up.

[Manga Maniac Café]  If Mia had a theme song, what would it be?

[Tiffany Schmidt] “Superstition” by Stevie Wonder. Also “Girls Like You” by The Naked And Famous

[Manga Maniac Café]  What is Gyver’s most prized possession?

[Tiffany Schmidt] His guitar

[Manga Maniac Café]   What are your greatest creative influences?

[Tiffany Schmidt] This changes quite a bit depending on what I’m working on. For Send Me A Sign, I was heavily influenced by music. Gyver’s playlists are woven throughout the book and Mia looks for signs in the lyrics of songs. One of my greatest sources of creative influence was Jack’s Mannequin’s “Glass Passenger” album, particularly the songs that chronicle the lead singer, Andrew McMahon’s, own battle with leukemia.

[Manga Maniac Café]  What three things do you need in order to write?

[Tiffany Schmidt] 1) The book’s playlist while I’m writing and silence for revisions.

2) Colored pens. My favorites are Staedtler triplus fineliners. I revise & edit on print outs. By the time I’m done it looks like Rainbow Brite exploded on my pages.

3) Revision Skittles (the rest of the world calls these Crazy Core Skittles). I’ve got a serious addiction, but only allow myself to eat them while revising. The rule is: One Skittle for every page revised.

[Manga Maniac Café]  What is the last book that you read that knocked your socks off?

[Tiffany Schmidt] Every Day by David Levithan. I’m always in awe of the ways David reinvents himself and challenges a reader’s preconceptions with each of his novels and Every Day did not disappoint. I pre-ordered a copy for my sister before I read it because I fully anticipated needing to discuss it when I finished… of course I finished and she’s off in Europe. So now I’m hounding St.Matt to READ IT NOW and making lists of topics I want talk about when he’s done.

[Manga Maniac Café]  If you had to pick one book that turned you on to reading, which would it be?

[Tiffany Schmidt] I was a very early reader, so the honest answer is probably The Poky Little Puppy or something by Seuss.

The first time I really remember reading a book and thinking That’s ME – was Super Fudge. I didn’t identify with Peter, I related to Fudge, the kid who managed to find trouble even when he wasn’t looking. I had similar reactions to Ramona and Matilda. My long-suffering mother was thrilled that reading kept me in one place and out of trouble… at least until I finished a book and tried re-creating the characters’ antics.

[Manga Maniac Café]  What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?

[Tiffany Schmidt] I love to run, kayak, and play tennis, but I’m equally content to curl up in a hammock with a good book and either a Schmidtlet or a puggle (never both at the same time or we’ll all end up overturned). I go through way too much sugar and butter each week, because I’m constantly baking—then mailing out all sorts of cookie & cake care packages.

Oh, and Twitter. I’m pretty darn addicted to that too.

[Manga Maniac Café]  How can readers connect with you?

[Tiffany Schmidt] · Website: www.TiffanySchmidt.com

· Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TiffanySchmidtBooks

· Twitter: @TiffanySchmidt

· Pinterest: https://pinterest.com/tiffanyaschmidt/send-me-a-sign/

· E-mail: TiffanyASchmidt@gmail.com

· Mail: Tiffany Schmidt

PO Box 119

Fountainville, PA 18923

[Manga Maniac Café] Thank you!

You can order Send Me A Sign from your favorite bookseller or by clicking the widget below

Cowboy Crush Review: How a Cowboy Stole Her Heart by Donna Alward

 

 

Title: How a Cowboy Stole Her Heart

Author: Donna Alward

Publisher: Harlequin

ISBN: 978-0373177608

 

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

Clay Gregory’s known Megan Briggs her whole life, and he’s been plenty worried about her while she’s been getting medical treatment. Now she’s back home and hiding away on the family ranch.

Knowing the stubborn cowgirl won’t accept his help willingly, he invites her to a family wedding to help him avoid his aunt’s matchmaking!

He plans to remind Meg she’s still the girl who can beat him in a horse race! But as she steps out in her curve-hugging red dress, her skills on a horse are suddenly the furthest thing from his mind….

Review:

I enjoyed Donna Alward’s Honeymoon with the Rancher, so when I saw that she had another cowboy book about to hit store shelves, and that it had an awesome cover,  I added it to my wishlish.  When I learned that that Megan, the protagonist, is a breast cancer survivor, my interest spiked, and the book moved to the top of my TBR.  My mother was diagnosed with breast cancer when she was 32.  She is one of the lucky ones, too; she survived, and is still cancer free, many, many years later.  It seems that cancer has always been a part of my life, because I was so young when she was diagnosed, and it wasn’t something that was kept quiet around us kids.  I have gone bra shopping at the medical supply store, heard my mother’s dismay when her prosthesis sprang a leak, and listened when she was frustrated that the insurance company didn’t pay a larger portion for it or the special bras she had to purchase.  I was wondering, then, if Donna Alward’s heroine would seem familiar to me, because she needed to for me to buy into this book.

Megan has just returned to her family’s ranch after a grueling treatment that included a mastectomy and chemotherapy.  Right away I felt so much sympathy for her; she has survived a nightmare, and she has no guarantees that  she won’t have to go through it again in the future.  Many of Meg’s fears hit home; time is precious, and can’t be taken for granted.  There might not be a tomorrow.  That one is something that I am struggling with personally – my boyfriend suffered a heart attack last winter, and I realized, with a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach, how close I came to being alone.  After being together for 22 years, I depend on him to be my anchor.  What would I do if he wasn’t here?  I think I am taking this harder than he is.  I worry constantly about his health now, as Meg’s family and friends worried about hers.  It irritates him, as it grates on her.  I can’t help myself, though, so I know exactly how Clay was feeling.  This is scary stuff, and once such a horrible illness touches your life, now matter whether it strikes you or a loved one, it’s always there, dogging your footsteps.

There were times when I was angry with both Clay and Megan.  Meg has learned that time is not infinite.  There is a limit to how much each of us has available to us.  She has loved Clay forever, and when he finally confesses his feelings to her, she rejects them.  They spend a good deal of the book apart, upset with each other. Wasting whatever amount of time that they both have left.  This upset me.  This made both of them seem childish and unable to embrace the love that’s right there in front of them.  They were squandering their Happily Ever After, and I had a hard time forgiving them for that.  They both know how quickly life can change, how an unexpected illness can destroy all of the tomorrows that each of us think we have.  I wanted for them what I want for myself: live for today, enjoy the moment, and stop worrying about something that you have no control over.  Be there for each other, and accept that any amount of time together is better than none at all.  I know, personally, that this isn’t easy, and that it is infinitely frightening, but any amount of time is better than none.

So, did the book feel familiar to me?  Yes, and painfully so.  I felt for Meg, but I also felt for Clay.  I’ve been in his shoes.  It hurts to see someone you love ill.  It’s hard to put it from your mind and just keep living.  It’s hard to know that your Happily Ever After might not be as long as you would like.  Both Clay and Meg showed how brave they are, and how precious love really is.

Grade: B, waffling towards a B+

Review copy provided by publisher