Today I’m delighted to welcome Dee Ernst to Me, My Books and I:
Dee Ernst was born in Newark, New Jersey, and grew up in Morristown. She attended Marshall University, where she majored in journalism. Several years, career changes, and a few daughters later, she was listening to the Joan Hamburg Show, where a guest made the suggestion that if you want to be happy, you should go back to what you were doing when you were ten and try to make it a career. Since Dee was writing stories when she was ten, she decided to give writing another go. After three novels and many rejection letters, she self-published Better Off Without Him. It became a success and was optioned by Unique Features for possible development. Her next book, A Different Kind of Forever, was released in April of 2012. In the spring of 2013, she signed with Montlake Publishing, which re-released Better Off Without Him and launched her third title, A Slight Change of Plan, that fall. Though Dee finds a lot in common with all her heroines, she is happily married and living in New Jersey.
To find out more:
Where did the idea for A Slight Change of Plan come from?
My friends are starting to experience the same kinds of issues – aging parents, grown children returning home to live and changing careers. And, because I know a few divorced ladies, dating after 50. I wanted to write about those things, but I also wanted to write a love story. Last year, I found my college ‘crush’ on Facebook, and fantasized about what it would be like to meet up with him again after all these years. I’m happily married, by the way, but the ‘what if?’ stayed in my mind. So I brought the two things together – thinking you’re going in one direction with your life, only to find all these surprises getting in the way, and reuniting with an old love.
Who designed the cover and why did you go for that particular design?
The team at Montlake designed it, but I must say they were very open to my ideas. In fact, I filled out a long questionnaire about what I wanted the cover to look like. The problem was, I filled out the questionnaire before the book was even finished, and it took quite a turn from what I originally intended, so my ideas didn’t really apply anymore. We went back and forth – a lot. In the end, I wanted something to symbolize Kate’s journey, and how she learned to step outside her ‘life plan’ and take a few chances.
Which of your characters would you like to meet in person and why?
I’d love a friend like Cheryl. Well, actually, I already have a few friends like Cheryl, but you can never have too many smart, loyal, slightly crazy women in your life.
What do you hope readers will learn from A Slight Change of Plan?
That everything happens for a reason. I’m a big believer in that. Everything that is put in your path, the good and the bad, has a purpose. You might take a long time to figure out why something happened to you, or you may never know, but you have to trust that there are no accidents in life. All of Kate’s ‘disruptions’ were part of her journey, and because of them, I liked her much better in the end.
How long did it take you to write A Slight Change of Plan?
The first few drafts were about six months, but that was not full-time. I was pretty sick for a bit, and then there was Christmas, so it probably took longer than it should have. When it came back from my editor, it took a few weeks for the first revision, and then another week for the second pass.
Do you follow a plan when you are writing or do you let the story guide you?
I’d like to think I know where the story is going, but it never turns out that way. I listen to my characters. I also listen to the advice of others – that second or third eye on your story is SO important. My editor for this book made one suggestion that completely changed the way the book ended – for the better. Sometimes, you really can’t see the forest for the trees.
Do you think your writing style has changed since your first book?
Very much. Technically, I learn so much every time I send a book to an editor and then have to go back and correct all my mistakes! But also my style has changed – I’m more comfortable with the first person narration. I’m also more confident that what I write is funny. A Slight Change of Plan is a funny book, even though it deals with some pretty serious issues.
What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
I read like crazy. In the summer, I have a great garden to play in, and I love to cook. I also have the best group of friends in the world, and anytime I can get them together for a little wine and cheese is time well spent.
Do you read reviews of your books? If so, do you let them influence your writing?
I read every review. Some of them, I read more than once. But as much as I write for my readers, I have to write for myself as well, and I could never be happy putting out a book I didn’t believe in. Look, you can’t please everyone. Nobody can. But I think I’ve connected with enough readers to not let the haters get me down.
Paperback or eBook?
Snow or sun?
Sun – for sure!
Tea or coffee?
Coffee – with lots of cream and sugar
Telephone or face-to-face?
Face-to-face – and don’t get me started on texting!
Dogs or cats?
I have both , and I love them all, but – I have to say dog.
Any last words for your readers?
I self-published my first book when I was 54. I’m a big believer in that ‘Second Act’ and that it’s never too late to do what you love.
Thank you so much for being here today Dee, it was a pleasure to have you on my blog.
Now check out the book:
“Widowed Kate Everett is looking forward to starting her ‘second act.” She’s planned out everything that she wants – new house, new job, maybe even a new man. She can’t wait until everything falls into place.
But life has a way of butting in, and Kate soon finds herself dealing with unexpected house guests, helping her daughter plan the world’s smallest wedding, and sudden unemployment. Things get even more complicated with the reappearance of her old college love, Jake Windom. Jake realizes the mistake he made years ago in letting her go, and is eager to win her back.
Kate thinks that she and Jake can build something real, and that maybe her happy ending is in front of her at last. But the arrival of Edward, her daughter’s future father-in-law, presents Kate with an unexpected choice.
It looks like real happiness may require a slight change of plan.”