So....to kick off our event, I would like to introduce you to author Liwen Ho, and her Christmas novel, The More the Merrier. Are you ready?
Meet Liwen Ho, author of The More the Merrier, Season of Love Book 1.
Can love be sweeter than ice cream?
Fed up with a string of bad blind dates, health blogger Alyssa Wu just wants to drown her sorrows in ice cream. But there’s one more evening she must endure - a fake date with her best friend Barry Chang. They must convince her family they are in love, an act which may (or may not) be easy to pull off, thanks to the magic of some mistletoe.
“I’m a lost cause in the love department. I need to find a date. The last thing I want to do is show up alone and put a damper on my dad’s party.”
“Okay, so we’ll find you a date. There are plenty of guys who would love to go out with you. We just have to find one.”
Barry’s confident tone made Alyssa sit up straighter. Had he really called her attractive? Maybe her smoky eye shadow and red lipstick gave her appearance an extra oomph tonight. She did notice his eyes widen in surprise when he opened the door earlier. Even if he was just being his usual positive self, it was nice to hear that he thought she was a worthy catch. “Even if there were guys lined up at my door, chances are they wouldn’t be free for the party. It’s really short notice.”
“Like Sunday short.”
“As in the day after tomorrow?”
Nodding, she sighed. “Now do you understand why I’ve been so desperate?”
“I do. And now I really feel sorry for you.”
“Great, thanks Barry for your sym-.”
“Hold on,” he interrupted with his spoon pointed at her. “I have an idea. How about we help each other out this weekend?”
“What do you mean?”
“I need some assistance for work tomorrow and you need a date for Sunday. You help me, and I’ll help you.”
“You’ll pretend to be my date?” She mulled over his suggestion and smiled. What a great idea. Going to the party with someone as harmless as Barry would make the evening not only bearable, but enjoyable. If there was any guy she trusted and felt comfortable with, it was him. “That would be awesome.”
Nice, eh? (Yes, I am Canadian). So, would you like to meet our guest author? I thought so. Hang on, I'll go get her and see if she'll answer a few questions for us.
BIO Liwen Y. Ho works as a chauffeur and referee by day (also known as being a stay at home mom) and a writer by night. She penned her first children's picture book, "A Rainbow of Nine Colors" in high school (available at Meegenius.com) and has published two novellas in the Taking Chances Series for grown-ups.
She also enjoys writing about real-life matters, such as marriage, parenting and faith because truth can be just as strange and entertaining as fiction. Her work has appeared in various online publications, including LiteraryMama.com and MomLifeToday.com and she is a regular contributor at StartMarriageRight.com.
She has a Masters degree in Marriage and Family Therapy from Western Seminary and loves makeovers of all kinds, especially those of the heart and mind. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her techie husband and their two children, and blogs about her adventures as a recovering perfectionist at www.2square2behip.com
Could you share a little about yourself and what led you to become a writer? I’m a girly girl who loves all things pink, retail therapy and chick flicks. I live in California with my hubby and two kids, and in my pre-mamahood life I worked as a counselor. I’ve always loved to write, but I didn’t start pursuing it seriously until about five years ago.
Do you write full time? How much of your life is set aside for writing? I would write full time if I could, but alas, that would leave my family with no food to eat or clean clothes to wear. I tried that once....it wasn't pretty. I try to write a couple of hours a day either when the kids are in school and after the whole family goes to bed. So, basically you keep standard author hours.
Could you tell us a little about your novel? My short story is a sweet friends-to-something-more type of romance. The main characters are neighbors who share a love of ice cream.
What led you to choose a Christmas theme? I originally wrote this story for a Christmas-themed anthology that didn’t pan out (due to a lack of submissions), so I published it myself. Ah! And you get to share it with us. Perfect!
Would you take us on a brief tour of your novel and the world you’ve created? The world my characters live in is one that many have heard of and some have visited – the city of San Francisco, California.
Where does the inspiration for your main character and story come from? Alyssa, the main character, is based somewhat on myself. She is what one might consider a typical Asian girl to be – hardworking, lives by the rules and plays it safe. The character of her neighbor, Barry, was inspired in part by Barry Allen (of The Flash) and my maternal grandfather; both of these men have a big heart for others. I love it when friends fall in love, and I totally believe in the opposites attract theory, so I based the story off of these two ideas. They already sound like interesting characters.
What is the message behind the story? Was it something you specifically wrote a story around or did it develop as your characters came to life? There are two main messages of the story: the first is that what you want may not be what you need; and the second is that a person’s heart matters more than their status in life or their bank account. These are two important lessons I or loved ones have personally experienced. That for sure is true. Nice.
Do you work from an outline or just go with the flow? If you use an outline, how detailed is it? I am a planner in real life, but when it comes to writing, I just go with the flow. This makes it both frustrating and freeing, but I do love seeing how the story unfolds and being surprised by it! It is such an amazing experience to watch the story unfold before us, isn't it? I think (for myself), that having to rely on a predetermined outline would be like stuffing the proverbial square peg into the round hole.
What is the time span in your novel, weeks, months, years? How much research went into it? My story spans a week in December and ends on Christmas day. My research for the book included some random things, such as finding out the size of ice cream cartons, as well as financial investment terms.
Could you tell us how you go about your research, how you ‘catalogue’ information to make it all work? I do all my research online (thank you Google!) and just include whatever information I need into the story. I haven’t needed to get so involved to the point of taking notes or cataloging information yet.
How does this book differ from what you have written in the past? This book is my first attempt at a short story (10k words). I was worried I wouldn’t be able to make the story complete with so few words, but I actually ended up loving the process, so much so in fact that I plan on writing three more short stories for the Seasons of Love series. So it would seem that the premise for writing was the nudge you needed to get writing. I am thrilled to know you have more stories lined up.
How have the changes in present-day publishing impacted your schedule as a writer? As an indie author, I like the flexibility I have to publish as often as I want to; I just wish my schedule allowed me to write more often! On that, I agree! I dream of 'alone time' to write, where nothing or no one is vying for my time lol.
How do you handle marketing? Do you have a plan, a publicist or just take one day at a time? I’m slowly learning the ins and outs of marketing as an indie author; it’s a whole other challenge apart from the writing. I market via Facebook and Twitter, as well as my blog, and also try to connect with other writers and readers. It definitely is a one day at a time endeavor that takes a lot of patience and perseverance.
Do you have any advice for aspiring authors? Write, struggle, celebrate, and write some more! Get some good critique partners and beta readers who will help you improve in your craft. Join some writers groups in person or virtually and build a support system. Learn from others on how to market and don’t be afraid to try new methods. Above all, write for yourself and enjoy the process!
Could you tell us what you’re working on now? I’m currently working on a sci-fi/romance book with my hubby and also the third book in my Taking Chances series. Both should be available in 2016! We'll be looking forward to their release!
“Friends falling in love -- could anything be more romantic? Add the fact that Christmas is right around the corner and this story is sure to banish any bah-humbugs. I loved it.”
“The writing was excellent and polished without errors. Overall, I highly recommend this to someone who wants a one-to-two sit read and appreciates real romance.”
“This short story novella is a heart warming, sweet, funny romantic story.”
“The characters were easy to visualize, and I found the dialogue to be believable and engaging.”
If you would like to connect with Liwen, you can find her here: