Sunday, December 11, 2011

Spotlight Interview with Toni Noel


While growing up in the South and completing seventh grade Toni Noel, writing under another name, laboriously typed each copy of the newspaper she published and circulated at church.

When she was fourteen Toni began an autobiography, but after only three chapters realized she had not lived long enough to give her life story an arc. She concluded her effort in the fourth chapter by giving her heroine an incurable disease.

She later edited her high school paper and one of her editorials earned her membership in Quill and Scroll. She also wrote a weekly fishing column, perhaps her first published work of fiction, for at that time she had never held a fishing pole.

For two of those high school years a weekly column about the happenings of her high school friends earned Toni a byline in a Scripps-Howard daily newspaper and a neighborhood weekly, the first income earned from her writing, money her father faithfully set aside for her to attend college.

Toni thrived on spending time in the library, loved to do research and write term papers. She would finish her theme well ahead of the due date so she could type the papers of classmates, a lucrative way to add to her college fund.

She met her husband of fifty-nine years her first week on campus and at the end of her freshman year gave up her dream of teaching to marry the first-year teacher who had captured her heart. He retired in 2010, ending a sixty year teaching career. ...Profile is continued on her website.    

Find Toni Noel on the Web:


How did you start your writing career?

At a snail's pace. I always knew I wanted to be a writer, but didn't find out there was so much to learn until I retired in 1995 to write full time. It took 14 long years to make a sale.

What was your first sale as an author?

Desert Breeze Publishing bought Law Breakers and Love Makers the day after I submitted it in December of 2009, and I'm still riding that high. It meant so much to have an editor who earns her living reading manuscripts to say she liked my quirky heroine and wanted to publish my novel.

Desert Breeze Publishing, Inc. released my first three novels and will release three more in 2012.

Do you hear from your readers?

No, I don't hear from my readers, and sometimes feel like shouting 'Hey, I'm over here.' Promotion take all my time, and is the hardest job I've ever undertaken.

Plotter or Pantster?

I'm a plotter. I get an idea for a novel, or see a character in my head, and start thinking about a story that will touch the reader's heart. When I've written at least 50 scene ideas on 3 by 5 inch cards and am sure my characters arc as I tell their story, I start writing directly from those cards. I write novels of about 70,000 words and know the resolution before I write even one word.

Do you have any suggestions for beginning writers? If so, what are they?

Never, ever give up. Persistence pays. Join local writers' groups. Belong to more than one, so you get varying advice. Listen and learn. And write. The more you write, the better your writing will become. Find a critique partner. Enlist the help of a trusted reader, and polish, polish, polish your manuscript.

Do you have a milestone birthday coming up?

Not a birthday, our sixtieth wedding anniversary. We plan to take the Sunset Limited to New Orleans and back again. Hope our favorite restaurant reopened. I plan to set a mystery there.

Morning Person? Or Night Person?

I'm a morning person. I do my best writing between 7 a.m. and 11, but don't often get to my computer that early any more. I start running down about 4 p.m., but stay up longer than I should.

What would we find under your bed?

Too much. We've been in this house so long all the closets are jammed, so my under bed storage is on overload, too. Everything from rollout shoe storage boxes to extra picture frames have wound up under my bed. Finally gave away the baby bed mattress I was keeping for my twenty-seven-year-old granddaughter's first child. I had stored it under the guest room bed. The baby bed was so old it was no longer considered safe.

What group did you hang out with in high school?

I belonged to a sorority, a friendship club. I helped the other members sell donuts to pay for our dances when I wasn't at cheerleader practice.

What are you passionate about these days?

I oppose the banning of books, and object to the shortened hours forced on our local libraries due to the city's budget crisis. When times are bad, the residents should be able to turn to go to their libraries for free help, not less.

What do you do to unwind and relax?

I knit, listen to music while a read, and walk our new dog. We adopted a five-year-old terrier mix we named Toto and she keeps us entertained. We watch every crime show on TV and have fun seeing who figures out 'who done it' first. We also like to camp in our RoadTrek, but for now are camping out at home.

Tell us about the absolute BEST fan letter you have received.

My best fan letter came from Glen Cantrell, a reviewer I met on Twitter, who posted a great review of Decisive Moments on Amazon. Com.

Does your significant other read your stuff?

No, my husband is a retired teacher and elementary school principal. Our beliefs on what makes writing proper differ greatly, and after a few attempts to bridge that gap, I no longer seek his help. He has successfully critiqued scenes where a large format camera plays an important part, my fly fishing descriptions, though.

If I came to visit early in the morning would you impress me as being more like a chirpy birdie or a grumpy bear?

Grumpy, until I have my first cup of tea, which is not until I've walked for forty-five minutes on the treadmill. Although I am hypoglycemic, I don't eat until after I walk, so don't expect to engage me in conversation for at least an hour after I get up.

Say your publisher has offered to fly you anywhere in the world to do research on an upcoming book, where would you most likely want to go?

Back to Italy. We didn't have time to see Pompeii when we were there this past summer, and needed more time in Venice. Love those friendly Italians. There has to be a book somewhere, maybe a romance on a speeding commuter train, or a murder in Venice, with no way for the murderer to escape.

Do you have a Website or Blog?

My website and blog are at the same address,


Because Carina Carrington equates happiness with success, she owns a thriving business and a nonexistent sex life. To replace her ailing secretary the temp agency sends Greg Lawless, a secretive temp without credentials who possesses exceptional office skills and a voice that curls Carina's toes.

With this temp comes temptation, and Carina's problems multiply. Her strong attraction to Greg leaves her in breathless confusion. Her longing for his hard body interferes with her work, but he determinedly keeps her on track.

She seeks advice from her support team -- her best friends and her mother -- who advise her to pursue Greg with a vengeance, the identical path her heart wants to pursue. Under this pressure Greg succumbs and shares her bed.

Then Carina learns someone, perhaps even Greg, seeks to destroy her company. Torn between her belief in his innocence, and he's likely guilt, Carina tells Greg she's terminating him, but Greg convinces her to give him twenty-four hours to find her saboteur and prove his innocence. Can he?

Temp to Permanent excerpt

Carina Carrington's fingers flew across the computer keyboard.
Not fast enough.
She'd never meet her schedule without another pair of hands. Of all possible days, why did Rachael pick today to call in sick?
And what happened to her replacement? The temp agency had promised to send a secretary an hour ago. What was keeping her?
At the scrape of a leather shoe sole, Carina's concentration cracked. "There's no one at the desk out front," a husky male voice rasped.
Startled, Carina hit a wrong key. Unless his face matches that heart-stopping voice, I'll kill this salesman. She abandoned the keyboard and swiveled around in her chair. Six feet of tanned muscles crossed her carpet. No death warrant for this hunk.
Surrounded by masculine scent, Carina riveted her gaze on his business card, then glanced up. Devilish blue eyes locked with hers. She looked away to conceal her unprofessional, very unladylike reaction.
"I'm Gregory Lawless from Data Services. Pat Kilpatrick said to see Mrs. Carrington. Your receptionist--"
"Has the flu."
This perfect example of centerfold material could not possibly type.
With all the work still to turn out, I'll kill Pat, instead.
Reluctantly Carina pushed back her chair and stood to shake his hand. Good grip, self-confident. "That's why you're here, Mr. Lawless. I'm short handed today. And it's Miss Carrington."
She indicated a chair and waited for him to sit. "The agency didn't say they were sending a man." Oops. Maybe employers weren't supposed to say things like that anymore.
"Is that a problem?"
She wasn't about to acknowledge how difficult he made the simple act of speech. "Only if you can't do the job."
He folded his lanky frame into the visitor's chair she'd indicated and placed a folder on her desk. "Ms. Kilpatrick asked me to give you this copy of my resume."
A deep cleft creased his chin. How could she work with that distraction? With her weakness for cleft chins she couldn't hope to actually work around this distraction. His devastating smile belonged in a bedroom. In a bar. Anywhere but in her office ruining her concentration.
Carina sank into her own chair and opened his file to study the brief list of qualifications while steadying her heart beat. San Diego Data Services normally provided exceptional help, but Pat had explained this flu epidemic had also left her short handed. Gregory must be the last healthy soul available.
Healthy? He was that, all right. From what she could see, far healthier than a man had any need to look.
He'd indicated a willingness to work. Any warm body could man the phones in her secretary's absence. Surely she could control her body's response for the next few hours.
What about this unexpected heat? Maybe Mom was right and she was sex-deprived.
Perhaps tomorrow Pat would have a real secretary available, or not such an attractive man. Her mind pictured a prim woman. Someone wearing a skirt whose very presence wouldn't launch her pulse into orbit.
She glanced up from the resume to study Gregory. Information in the agency's file was scant, little more than name, address and social security number. He looked about her age. Why would a man approaching thirty-five resign himself to temporary work?
Carina drew a steadying breath. "Have you been with Data Services long?"
He tilted his head as if mulling over a reply. "This is my first assignment."
Great. Disgruntled by his admission, she looked away. Few skills and even less experience. Carina stole a glance. The smile hovering about his mouth prevented objective reasoning. "With a busy week ahead of me, there won't be much time for training."
He peered at the scribbled notes on her calendar and lifted one cocky eyebrow, giving him a rakish appearance that almost brought her out of her chair. "Tell you what. Let's not waste any more time. Give me a chance to help and if I don't meet your requirements, you don't owe me a cent."
Desperation evident in his voice caused her to give him a sharp look. "So you're a gambler, too."
He straightened his back against the chair, then leaned forward and gazed at her. "I've nothing to lose," he admitted with admirable honesty.
Carina thought about everything she would gain if Gregory could fill Rachael's shoes. She wouldn't need to postpone tomorrow's meeting and might still land that contract. Provided she somehow kept her mind on her business and off this man. Could she do it?
Quick decisions were her trademark. "I'll only expect you to answer the phone. On Mondays it rings constantly."
He grinned, nodding. "How shall I answer?"
Criminey. Would she need to hold his hand and walk him through the office as well? "Carrington Graphics will do."
"I'll manage. What is the nature of your business? Ms. Kilpatrick said you needed someone in a hurry and didn't take time to fill me in."
"Advertising." From the bookcase behind her desk Carina selected two brochures and unfolded them for Gregory to examine. "This is a terrible time to come up short handed. I've two important presentations scheduled, one tomorrow, and another on Friday. Rachael always handles my prepress. Without her, I'll never be ready."
After a moment, Gregory leaned across her desk to return the brochures. Fragrance, spicy-clean and fresh, teased her nostrils. Aftershave and a recent shower, a masculine scent she adored.
"I've had some experience with--"
"It's likely the phones will occupy all your time." She couldn't picture his neatly trimmed fingertips flying over a keyboard.
Imagining his hands in her hair though...
Easy, far too easy.
Cut that out. "Why don't I get you settled at the front desk, Gregory."
He followed her into the outer office. "Call me Greg."
    She ignored the thump of her heart his seductive tone induced. His voice ranked among her all time favorites, too. "Greg it is."

Enter below and comment for a chance to win a Gifted Amazon Kindle copy of Temp to Permanent. Winner will be randomly selected from all eligible entries. Ends December 24th 11:59PM CST.



Debby said...

Wow, I thought being married 35 years was a long time. Book looks great. Hope I win
debby236 at gmail dot com

Rebecca said...

Congrats on the 60th anniversary coming up. Awesome! My in-laws just celebrated theirs and we surprised them with a vow renewal ceremony. I don't know who enjoyed it more - the parents, kids, or grandkids!
The book looks like a fun read.

Criss said...

This looks to be a marvelous book, thank your for the except and I've always wanted to learn how to knit but never can find a teacher. Congrats on your 60th anniversary, may you have many more. Happy Holidays! rshereifa at yahoo dot com

Laurie said... too! I've got tons of knitting books, yarn and "tools" stashed away in my closet. I've tried to teach myself using the books but I'm just a total fumble fingers. My aunt used to knit beautifully. How I wish now that I had learned from her when she offered to teach me back years and years ago. Now, sadly, it is too late.

Judy Duarte said...


It was nice to learn more about you--and your books. We actually have a lot in common--and not just being morning people.

Thanks for sharing an excerpt. I'm going to download your books after Christmas. (I've asked Santa for a Nook.)


Jacki C. said...

I really like the sound of Temp to Permanent. Great interview.

StephB said...

Toni, congrats on your wedding anniversary. That's quite an accomplishment. I notice your writing is contemporary romance. What's the appeal? Are all your novels set in San Diego?

Sandy said...

This book sounds really great. I'd love a chance to win a Kindle copy.


Toni Noel said...

Catching up. Debby, REBECCA, Criss, Laurie, JUDY, Jacki, Steph, and Sandy, thank you all for stopping by. I wish you luck and am sorry you can't all win.


Lisa Kessler said...

Great interview Toni!!!

Happy Anniversary!!! 60 years! Wow!!!

Good luck with all your new releases... I can't imagine 3 books coming out in one year... You're going to be crazy busy in 2012! :)


Lisa :)

Toni Noel said...

Thanks, Lisa. You're crazy busy this year, and it only get worse. Good luck with you promo. I wish you a landslide of sales.


Susan Bennett said...

I know it's off-topic but that's a really lovely author photo.

sitbackandrelax2 said...

We adopted a five-year-old terrier mix we named Toto and she keeps us entertained. We watch every crime show on TV and have fun seeing who figures out 'who done it' first.

Gregory Office Chairs

Laurie said...

I am pleased to annouce the giveaway winner is Criss. :)