I'm excited to have Tanya Agler join us today. Tanya, welcome to the Diamond Mine.
Thank you, Jackie, so much for hosting me on your blog today.
As a working mother how do you find time to write?
Right now, my fifth-grade twins are presently enrolled in digital learning. When they are in the dining room with their headphones and laptops, I’m in the dining room with them. I keep my day planner next to me so I can try to keep on track. I do try to get my writing done first and then work on the other tasks of a writer like marketing, returning emails, and social media.
It’s a challenge explaining about long division one minute and trying to get back into the storyline the next. I’ve tried different methods such as playing classical or mellow music while I’m writing so they know I’m in the middle of a passage. We’re all learning to adjust and making the most of this time together.
Do you have a favorite writing spot?
I miss my favorite Panera booth, the one with the power outlet! I’m a writer who definitely loves to head for Panera with my laptop and folder and day planner and get a good three-hour chunk of writing done (I always tried to be considerate and I left if it became busy!).
Now, however, I’ve been writing at home and I’m learning how to ignore the washing machine that’s calling out for me to do a load of laundry or the dishwasher that’s asking me to empty and reload it! I prefer writing in the basement guest room as there’s a desk in there. I can also play music in the background.
I’ve written in doctor’s offices, parking lots, and airports, so I’m always thankful for any place to write.
What about a favorite time of day to write?
I’m definitely a daytime person. I try to start writing or editing my manuscript by 9:30. In the mornings, I write and the afternoons are devoted to other writing tasks (marketing, critiques, social media, returning emails, etc.).
Is your heroine like you?
Lucie Decker is the heroine of my latest release, A Ranger for the Twins. While Lucie and I are both mothers of twins, she and I aren’t that much alike. Growing up, Lucie was a debutante who loved to coordinate her handbags and outfits. Now, Lucie has had to reinvent herself and is trying to create a successful business to provide for her and her children and for the pets who have become like a family to her.
Lucie’s much more open and extroverted. At the heart of it all, though, we’d be friends as we both care about our children and love animals.
What do you like most about your heroine?
I love Lucie’s spunk. She’s faced hard times since her ex-husband committed fraud and stole the life savings of many of Hollydale’s residents. Yet she’s determined to make the most of it and reconnect with the town. With the help of her friends, she takes the wedding resort and turns it into a corporate training center and wellness resort. She’s a go-getter who makes the most of her opportunities.
How about your hero?
Caleb is someone who doesn’t realize that he’s committed heroic acts because that’s the heart of who he is. He thinks he did something because it was part of his job, yet Caleb is someone who would go out of his way to make sure someone was safe. From the boys who got lost in Yellowstone to his parents to Lucie’s twins, he wants to protect people while never letting anything make him overbearing or overly proud.
Who did you model him after?
That’s an interesting question because I started by thinking of who would be Lucie’s opposite. If she was the town pariah, he had to be the town hero, and that was the foundation for Caleb.
However, there were different aspects of his backstory that I did take from different stories. For instance, I’m a huge fan of professional tennis, and I’ve always enjoyed watching James Blake play before he retired. When James Blake was a teenager, he had severe scoliosis and he went through extensive treatment before he became a successful player. That was the start of Caleb’s backstory and was the inspiration for him having had his own battle with scoliosis.
I also researched park rangers and loved reading about some of the funnier stories while learning a lot about the actual profession.
But mainly, Caleb started out as someone who would be serious and determined and beloved by the town as a contrast to Lucie.
Do you have a real life hero/heroine?
So many, and I love finding new real life heroes and heroines every day. I’m a huge fan of classic Hollywood, and the real life story of Jimmy and Gloria Stewart is one of my favorites. I love how Jimmy Stewart was not only an actor but also rose to the rank of brigadier general. He’s always been one of my favorites. When we traveled to Pennsylvania, I made my parents drive out of the way to Indiana, Pennsylvania where there was only a statue of him at the time although now there is a museum.
I also recently finished reading Carol Burnett’s recounting of her show, and she’s one of my new heroines as she’s a strong female role model in the world of entertainment. She and Lucille Ball opened many doors for women by helming their own shows.
I love being encouraged by new heroes and heroines every day. Hidden Figures was an excellent movie, and I’ve loved learning more about Katherine Johnson. From science to entertainment to social issues, there are so many more people whom I admire.
What’s next for you?
I just turned in the edits for my latest release, The Soldier’s Unexpected Family, coming in March of 2021. This might be my favorite book yet! There are supporting characters in this book that I absolutely love, and Natalie Harrison is so much fun to write. She’s the most unlike me of my three heroines. And Aidan? He’s definitely the most intense of any of my heroes. The book takes place in the summertime near the Fourth of July, and it’s all about how plans can be upended in a most unexpected way.
Thanksgiving is coming up. Will you celebrate differently this year?
In the past, we’ve hosted my husband’s siblings and their families, but this year, we will be celebrating differently. There will be the five of us in addition to my older daughter who works at home in her new apartment. My mother-in-law always made the pies (I like one piece of pumpkin pie every year, and apple pie is one of my favorites!) so I’m researching pumpkin pie recipes (with a homemade crust).
However, even though we won’t be hosting extended family members and keeping it limited to our household, we’ll be keeping what’s important intact. A sense of gratitude. Family togetherness. The mealtime prayer with joining hands together. There are traditions we’ll still keep – after Santa’s arrival at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade (I just checked, that’s still happening!), we’ll start playing Christmas carols; putting together a puzzle; and thinking about what Christmas movie we’ll watch that night.
Are you a beach or mountain person?
What day is it? It depends! I love the mountains, and I’m close to many beautiful mountain getaways. Right now, in the fall, I’d love to rent a cabin, either for a writer’s retreat or a family outing, and soak in the foliage and quiet.
While I moved often as a child, I’ve lived in beach tourist towns. For a long time, that impacted my feelings about the beach. However, all of my kids love the beach, and they love going there. Some of my favorite moments now involve some of our outings to lighthouses and just walking up and down the shoreline.
So, I’m a little of both!
Tell us about your book.
In A Ranger for the Twins, Lucie Decker went from being the town darling to total pariah. Now she’s launching a new business and needs ranger Caleb Spindler’s help. And her twins adore Caleb. After all, he’s a genuine hero—even if he is hiding a secret. But while Lucie’s heart has forgotten how to trust, it still remembers how to fall in love…
It’s an uplifting story
about finding treasures in unexpected places. For Lucie that treasure is
redeeming herself after difficult circumstances rip her life apart. For Caleb
it’s finding people who accept him for who he is rather than circumstances
which elevated him in some people’s eyes. At the heart of it all, it’s a happy
story about redemption and never giving up hope.
An award-winning author, Tanya Agler moved often during her childhood and settled in Georgia where she writes sweet contemporary romance novels, which feature small towns, family and pets, and themes of second chances and hope. Her debut, The Sheriff’s Second Chance, is a January of 2020 Harlequin Heartwarming release. A Ranger for the Twins is also now available, and The Soldier’s Unexpected Family will be a March of 2021 Heartwarming release. A graduate of the University of Georgia with degrees in journalism and law, she lives with her wonderful husband, their four children, and a new Beagle/Basset rescue named Linus. Represented by Dawn Dowdle and the Blue Ridge Literary Agency, she’s currently at work on the sequels to her debut. When she’s not writing, Tanya loves classic movies, walking, and a good cup of tea.
Tanya, thanks so much for joining us!