Writer Wednesday: Meet Teresa LaBella!

Welcome to Writer Wednesday, that one marvelous day of the week on which you get to indulge in mini-interviews with authors and learn about them and their latest work.

Today I’m happy to bring you Teresa LaBella, author of contemporary romance and the New Life In Love trilogy. Teresa resides in my home state of Iowa, so a special shout-out from one former midwesterner to another!

Grab your favorite libation and settle in for this short but delightful interview with Teresa as she talks writing and her latest book, Belonging.


What inspires you to write?

Reading well-crafted stories written by other authors inspires me to keep writing. I’m always amazed at the power of the written word to open our imagination, take us to places we may never have been or will be, and care so deeply about the fictional characters that their story stays with us until and after we turn the last page. I write with the goal of taking my readers to that place of wonderment with the characters I imagine.

Name one interesting thing you learned in researching/writing your last book: 

There’s a scene in Belonging where Marisa watches her husband Alistair dress in his formal Clan McKenzie kilt. I researched the historical significance of the tartan and function of each kilt accessory – the sporran pouch, the flashes that hold up the kilt hose, and the sheathed sgian dubh once used for cutting food as well as self-defense. Then I asked my husband to put on his kilt for me as Alistair did for Marisa for a wee bit of authentic show and tell research!

What’s your favorite romance novel of all time, and why?

I just finished reading my favorite romance novel of all time and what could be the best book I’ll ever read. It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover literally changed my formerly biased attitude toward women and men suffering the physical, emotional and psychological pain inflicted by domestic abuse. This first-person account of an intimate taboo is powerful storytelling at its best about a loving relationship at its worst.


A Bit About Belonging

When Marisa’s certain path to her future ends, the struggle to recover from heartbreak begins.

The daughter of Darien McKenna admires and adores her Michelin star chef father. Lessons learned at his side earn her acceptance into a prestigious school of culinary arts and an apprenticeship at the upscale mid-town Manhattan kitchen Chef Darien once commanded. Pressure to succeed in a high-stress career crushes her confidence. Devastating loss shatters her world.

Marisa’s search to find a new path leads to the land of the McKenna Clan and the arms of a heart-stopping handsome, yet lonely man. Alistair McKenzie traded his barrister career and life in Glasgow to preserve family history and honor on a farm in the Scottish Highlands. He’s tired of wearing his kilt to weddings and lifting a glass to another happy bride and groom. He yearns for everlasting love with the lass who will be his wife. Smoldering attraction and ignited passion bring them together.

Have Marisa and Alistair found forever love in their desired place of “Belonging?”


A Bit About Teresa:

Teresa LaBella published her first contemporary romance novel, Reservations, in 2013. The story continued in Heartland published in 2015 and concludes with Belonging, the final novel in the New Life in Love trilogy, published in October 2016. A freelance writer and consultant, the Iowa native resides in her hometown with her husband John and three rescued Husky kids.

Want to connect further with Teresa? Find her here:

Website | Facebook | Twitter


Thanks so much for joining us, Teresa! It was a pleasure having you here. 

Searching for Balance: An Update

OvereatingI don’t know about you, but I tend to be all or nothing. It’s true in how I eat (either off sugar or face down in chocolate), how I read, how I work, and how I love. I’m a binge-everything. Which, uh, makes it very hard to find balance: I’m either going full throttle or at a stand-still (or creeping in reverse like a tortoise on retreat).

Coahuilan Box Turtle (Terrapene Coahuila) isolated on white background.

This fall, I’ve been stuck in turtle mode. Why? Some personal stuff, but also because last year was such a whirlwind of writing and editing and publishing and meeting new readers and attending fairs and making promo and just figuring out this whole “how to be an author thing.”

ASMPreOrderAdThanks to you all, I’ve already succeeded beyond my wildest dreams. I’m no NYT bestseller, but I’ve got regular sales and, more importantly, y’all seem to really like my books! I’m so touched and surprised and pleased and … and … terrified.

Private Or Public Directions On A Metal Signpost

Terrified? What? Yeah. I am. Because what if the next thing I write, people hate? What if I’m not “doing it right,” whether in terms of publishing frequency or keeping a street team or knowing where to be when or…? “Not doing it right” is the worst fear of a perfectionist. Because I guess it’s code for “failing.” And who likes failing?

So, yeah, stupid anxiety’s got me pulling my head into my shell.

familyselfieThe other hard reality I hit this summer was realizing I can’t put quite as many hours into my writing career as I feel I need to to “do it right”, because, well, I still have a darling husband and two wonderful kids and a messy house that need me. And friends and family to be with it and…and…

See? That balance thing again. Dang it.

portrait of young gymnasts training in the stadiumLast month, I fell off the beam. After manically doing flips and handsprings for over a year (figuratively – in real life, I hurt myself doing somersaults now!), I suddenly found myself face down on the mat.

And I haven’t wanted to get up. Just this week, I realized it’s because I’m scared if I do, I’ll return to trying to pull off a routine that surpasses my current level of talent and ability. That all-or-nothing thinking again. Oops.

Female legs jogging on a trailTime to stand up. Time to take those steps forward. One foot in front of the other – no fancy tricks required, just steady movement. I’ve got my NaNoWriMo project set (A Delicate Matter – Sophie’s story!), The Demon Duke to edit, and a whole bunch of other authorly things to catch up on.

Joy, sunlight, wheat.

Because screw you, anxiety! You won’t rob me of my joy anymore. I’m ready to get back to the happy and peppy and fun-loving Margaret I truly am, the one who’s so grateful for all the blessings she has – including the ability to be on this journey with y’all. Because sharing the love is what I was born to do, peeps.

Thank you, dear readers and writer friends and everybody who’s supported me and cheered me on this far. I’m gonna figure this balance thing out. Because I have a whole lot more stories to tell and I love writing them. I love sharing them. And I love you. With all my heart.

Book pages in the shape of a heart

Update: I’m Not Here. AFK. MIA. AWOL. Etc

I'll be back

Hey all,

Just a quick note:

I haven’t been around on social media much. It’s not because I don’t love you. It’s because I’ve got a lot of stuff going on in my personal life, including my beloved mom being in the hospital.

Please forgive me. I’ll be back as soon as I can, but for now, I am, as my son says, largely AFK – away from keyboard.

And as the Breakfast Club / Simple minds decreed, “Don’t You Forget About Me.”

Because as Arnold said, “I’ll be baahck.”

On Finding Balance Between Career and Personal Life

portrait of young gymnasts training in the stadiumI didn’t get to see the US women’s team compete on the balance beam in the Rio Olympics. But if I had, I would’ve oohed and aahed at the astounding physical prowess that allows those female athletes to twist and contort their bodies all over the place – while staying on a four-inch-wide beam.

How do they do it? Practice, practice, practice. Raw talent and skill. But mostly practice, practice, practice.

And when they practice, they fall down. They make mistakes. They bobble and wiggle, maybe even flail their arms or miss a dismount. But they get back up and keep going, absolutely determined they can and will do better the next time.

I admire that conviction, that perseverance, that dedication to finding balance.

Balance has been missing in my life this past year. I’ve launched myself into this fantastic, brilliant, beautiful, overwhelming, competitive, uncertain world of romance writing. Well, specifically romance publishing. I love it. I truly do.

Open book with bar graphs laid out on a red background

But in my quest to meet the expectations and requirements “they” say one must do to be successful (publish as much as possible as quickly as possible, be active across social media, write newsletters, go to conferences and signings, guest blog, etc), I lost my balance in other areas of my life.

This doesn’t surprise me. I’d be the first to fall off that beam and land on my head. I’m rather all-or-nothing in my general personality and love to throw myself into new projects and new adventures. Which is fine, until I realize there’s stuff I’ve left behind as I set off on my new quest. Important stuff.

How do you do it, fellow authors? Fellow human beings? How do you find balance and manage to get everything done without ignoring your spouse, your kids, your home, your health?

What I’ve come to realize over the last month is I need to pick a simpler routine, so I don’t fall on my tush and disregard the ones I love most. And disregard myself.

If only my own toenails were that pretty...

See, I’m a stress eater. An emotional eater. I’ve got serious food issues. And over the course of writing, editing, and publishing A Scandalous Matter, I put on twenty-five pounds.

Dang it.

This was and is a clear sign I don’t have things in balance. (As is the state of my house, but let’s not go there…)

If I could, I would spend all my time writing and reading and editing and especially learning about marketing and publicity and connecting with readers and doing everything I can to be the best indie author I can be. Because it’s fun. And I have spent my time that way. Well, more the latter things, because writing and editing are hard, y’all.

But I have a husband who loves me and wants some attention, kids who still need me and deserve my attention, and a body that IS me and requires more movement and care than I’ve been giving it.

This is not to say I’m quitting. No way. I’m finally doing what I feel in my bones is what I was meant to do: write romance.

Slow Down sign with clouds and sky backgroundBut I have to slow down, change things up, accept that I can’t do everything I want to do when I want to do it. Being an author is easily a full-time job and more. But I don’t have full time to give it. Not at this stage in my life, when I’m still mom and chef and taxi driver and school volunteer and Girl Scout parent, etc., etc.

In addition to limited time, I also have limited energy. (Those twenty five pounds on top of all the rest might be influencing that, but frankly I’ve always had less physical energy than many I know…)

So I’m accepting that and relaxing my schedule.

I’d love to have a new book out every six months, but it might be that nine months to a year is more realistic. That means I’ll miss out. I won’t hit the right beats in the coveted Amazon algorithm. Some readers may not be satisfied and may move on because I don’t produce quickly enough. I guess I might lose potentially higher income from having more books on the market.

So be it.

ASMPreOrderAdI hope you’ll stick with me and support me and read my books and engage with me online, because that’s what I love – interacting with readers and writers and just talking about the glory that is language and writing and stories and words.

In the meantime, I’ll go back to editing The Demon Duke (Grace Mattersley’s story) and planning out storylines for The Legendary Duke and The Boy Next Door (Taylor Goodson’s story) and A Delicate Matter (Sophie Mattersley’s story) and whatever else pops into my head.

Female legs jogging on a trailBut I’m no Olympic gymnast. I’m no gymnast, period. So while others authors manage to dazzle you with their speed, I’ll just be over here, trying to stay on the silly bar. One foot in front of the other.

Speaking of which, one foot in front of the other is exactly what I need to do to get some of this Book Baby weight back off, too. So excuse me while I put on my walking shoes and head out the door…

RELEASE DAY for A Scandalous Matter + A Look Back and Ahead

Insta1What A Difference A Year Makes. 

When I mentioned to someone recently that my third book was about to debut, she looked at me with an astonished expression and said, “Isn’t that three books in a YEAR? That’s AMAZING!”

Close. Just over a year, since A Man of Character debuted at the end of May in 2015, and A Scandalous Matter arrived today (wahoo!). But still, her words made me pause. It IS amazing to realize how far I’ve come in fourteen months.

amanofcharactersmallOf course, I’ve been at this for far longer. I started writing A Man of Character in the fall of 2011. I likely would have published it sooner had I not let fear get in the way and shelved the whole project for a year. Even so, I worked on that book for four years. I worked on A Matter of Time for two, beginning it as a National Novel Writing Month adventure in the fall of 2013, and releasing it in November of 2015.

A Scandalous Matter fell together far more quickly – a bit out of necessity. It occurred to me while finishing A Matter of Time that the next logical book to give to my readers was not the book I’d written for NaNoWriMo 2014 (The Demon Duke), but rather Amara’s story. I realized this in October. I got busy writing in November. So all in all, I crafted A Scandalous Matter in eight months.

HandsonFace2

This is not nearly as fast as many of today’s authors, who are managing to produce new material every 90, 60, or even 30 days, just as the Amazon algorithm likes. That’s not me. In fact, I can’t believe I managed to get A Scandalous Matter done as quickly as I did – and my family will tell you it pretty much stole me away from them for quite some time!

amatteroftimesmallI love writing (editing, not so much, but that’s another story). I truly do. I finally feel as if I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing. I look forward to bringing many more stories to the world. But until the kids are older and more self-sufficient (read: out on their own), I need to remind myself it’s quality, not quantity, I’m going for, and that while I could easily give this career 80-100 hours a week, I haven’t got that to spare. My wife and mom hats need equal space on my head.

If this sounds less than positive, I certainly don’t mean it to be. I’m incredulous at my own risk-taking (never one of my fortes), at my willingness to put these books out there – and at the wonderful reception they’ve received! I’m constantly chatting with the characters in my head, and have at least ten to fifteen tales waiting to be written. I just hope my readers will stay with me if it takes me a bit longer to get more books out. Because I love you, and you merit only the very best I can produce!

Having said that, looking forward, here’s what’s in (or will be in) the works:

  • A novella about the origin of Cat’s mysterious magical manuscript.
  • The Demon Duke, the first in my Put Up Your Dukes (non-magical) Regency series, about a duke with a dark secret, and a shy, reluctant debutante who could be his savior … or his undoing.
  • The Once and Future Duke, the second in the PUYD series, about James Bradley, Duke of Arthington, Deveric’s sidekick from A Matter of Time.
  • The Legendary Duke, the third in the PUYD series, based loosely on the legend of Gawain and the Green Knight.
  • The Irish Duke, the fourth in the PUYD series, featuring Deveric’s other sidekick, Morgan Collinswood, Marquess of Emerlin.
  • The Boy Next Door, a non-magical contemporary about Taylor Duncan, sister to A Scandalous Matter‘s Matthew Goodson, and what’s right in her face. Or who.
  • A Complicated Matter, book 4 in my Magic of Love series. After you read A Scandalous Matter, I’ll let you guess whose story this is.
  • A Matter of Chance, the story of Chance Mattersley, younger brother of A Matter of Time‘s Deveric Mattersley.
  • A Matter of Honor, Deveric’s younger sister Emmeline’s story.

Whew. Looking at that list, I’d better get busy!

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Thank You Word CloudThank you from the bottom of my heart to each and every one of you, my friends, family, fans, readers (I still can’t believe I have the last two!). Your words of encouragement, your reviews, your invaluable support all have lifted me higher this year than I ever thought possible. I look forward to many more years together!