Where were you born and where do you call home?
I was born in Bucharest, Romania, but call Phoenix, Arizona my home, sweet home.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Still working on that status 🙂
What is the name of your most recent book and if you had to sum it up in 30 or less words, what would you say?
A WORLD APART
In a war that’s not hers she loses everything.
Everything she loses is because of him.
Forgiveness is not an option.
Or maybe… (hahaha made it in only 23 words)
I love reading the warnings on the blurbs for many books. If you could write a warning label for yourself as a person or an author, what would it say?
I’m a dreamer
I’m a sinner
I love my books
I conjure hooks
And heroes with good looks
Romance is my guilty pleasure
Taking me to places with new decor
Come join me if you dare
I promise not to bore
If you like to read my stories
Pray my husband continues snorin’
For he’s the one who keeps me up at night
When I give my heroes wings and flight.
If you gave some of your characters an opportunity to speak for themselves, what would they say?
That they are so glad to be freed from the small confinement of my brain where they’d been stuck for so many years…
What does your protagonist think about you? Would he or she want to hang out with you, the author?
Not sure about the heroines (we butt heads too many times), but I hope the heroes would gladly hang out with me.
Which character speaks the loudest, to you? Do any of them clamor to be heard over the others?
In my first novel Tessa the main heroine was so real, I almost felt as if she was my shadow. A World Apart was supposed to be written only from Cassandra’s point of view. Little did I know that David, the main hero would come at me much stronger, so alive and wanting his side of the story told.
Do your characters try to make like bunnies and create ever more convoluted plots for you? Or do you have to coax them out of your characters?
We do argue sometimes. In A World Apart I had Robert, a secondary character set to die and he was okay with this in the first draft. Then the fighting began. He just wanted to live, go figure. Leave alone the fact that I had to redo about ten chapters–he just didn’t care. To make things even worse, Cassandra and David teamed up with him and they went AWOL–until I change my mind. For Pete’s sake, I rescued David from an ambush in Iraq, and that was the reward? Silence? I remember sweating bullets to continue the story. I tried to negotiate their return for about a month, but to no avail. In the end, I gave up and they returned. I wrote 5 chapters in one week (and had probably a few hours of sleep, but so worth it).
Have you based any of your characters on someone you know, or real events in your own life?
The Iraq War. The story goes back to the end of 2002. It all started with some headlines in a Romanian newspaper announcing the Romanian government signed an agreement with the US government to grant complete access to one of the airbases at the Black Sea. The base was strategic in the war against Iraq starting several months later, in March of 2003. The news kind of leaked into the media because at the time there was no official announcement that the US prepared for an invasion, and so the Romanians were quite confused with the agreement.
Without knowing what was the real reason Americans were on our soil, I began making up stories… Enter Romanian Dr. Lt. Cassandra Toma deployed at the Black Sea to work with American Dr. Maj. David Hunt. She’s too outspoken and rebellious to be in the army, or as David sees her, “the mother of all mules.” She’s in the army for all the wrong reasons, which eventually will determine her actions later on. David on the other hand is the quintessence of the American soldier, who takes pride in his rank and work. That and more is about to change the minute he lays eyes on Cassandra.
I’m a softy for all people in uniform. Both wars have taken wonderful people away from their families. I feel helpless knowing that they won’t return to their loved ones, but also need to give back to those left behind. So I named all characters in this book after soldiers we lost at war, somehow trying to keep their memory alive. It’s the least I can do.
How did you come up with the title?
Originally the book was titled “Checkpoint”. But as a contemporary war romance I needed something more appealing to my target audience, romance readers. One night, returning from a Yanni concert and floating on a cloud of pure joy and love the title A World Apart came to me so forcefully, it almost knocked the air out of my lungs. The epiphany brought tears to my eyes because it felt so perfect, as if I’ve sailed for a long time and I’d finally reached harbor.
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Don’t give up on what you stand for.
Do you have plans for a new book? Is this book part of a series?
I’m now working on a novel having as protagonist Chiara Cosma, Tessa’s sister from Hidden Heart. She’s dark and distrustful, hard to make her open up. I tried to push her away, work on something else as long as she’s not ready to talk, but she makes her presence noticeable enough to keep me intrigued and unable to focus on another character.
Who designed the cover of your book?
For the design I rely on two wonderful friends helping me, Nikki Cassis and Sue Selkirk, but I picked the photos alone.
If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?
I moved to the US eight years ago following the man who stole my heart. I call Arizona my home. I would love to owe a small house somewhere on a beach in California for my writing sessions.
Is there an Author that you would really like to meet?
My critique partners (Cindy C Bennett, Sherry Gammon and Jeffery Moore) are spread on both coasts. I only met Cindy in person, but hope one day the four of us will start an annual (mandatory) writing retreat.
Do you prefer ebooks, paperbacks or hardcover?
Paper. Mater of fact I don’t own an e-reader. There’s magic touching a book, a thrill if you will, smell the ink, feel the paper between my fingers and hear the sound of pages rustle.
Are you a self published (Indie) Author or big trad published?
How do you market/promote your books?
I have to admit, I don’t do enough to promote my books, but I promised myself I’d put in more effort. Until a year ago I couldn’t fathom the idea of blogging. Now I like it. This is my first virtual book tour, which has so far proved really exciting. Connecting with readers, maintaining old relationships and developing new ones, word of mouth. Regular giveaways on GoodReads. Participating in blog hops.
What do you think makes a book a really good/bestseller ?
Unique plot and well-rounded characters.
What was your favourite chapter (or part) to write and why?
The dedication on the first page because it really sums the way I feel about our soldiers. The epilogue because David and Cassandra ended up where they were meant to be.
What has been the toughest criticism you’ve been given as an author? What has been the best component?
I cherish everyone that takes the time to leave a review. With Hidden Heart I’ve been really spoiled, never got a less than 3 stars review. With A World Apart there is a 2 stars review posted on Amazon that broke my heart. 100 stellar reviews take you to cloud nine and beyond. One bad review is enough to shatter all the good you felt receiving the stellar reviews. From a writer’s point of view all characters are our babies. We conceive them, see them grow, nurture them to maturity and set them free once the book is completed. When someone comes and criticizes one of them it’s like someone tells you your baby is ugly or stupid or something like that. It hurts and you can’t help but feel a sense of failure. When I came to my senses I realized I can’t please everyone, no matter how hard I try. I now remind myself that people are different and so are their likes and dislikes.
What do you do to unwind and relax?
Watch comedies. Go to B&N with my son and niece and make up stories about the people around us, based on their gestures and body language. Play a game that (in over 15 years I’ve been playing it) I only won twice. Having tea with my sister every weekend.
Is there a particular movie that you preferred over the book version?
That would be Gone With The Wind.
What book are you currently reading and in what format (ebook/ paperback/ hardcover)?
It’s called “Roses” by Leila Meacham. 609 pages; paperback.
Is there anything you would change in your last book and why?
No. All is as it’s supposed to be.
Do you have any advice for other writers?
Edit. Edit. Edit. When you think you’re done edit again.
What is the best advice that you have ever been given when it comes to writing?
Don’t give up.
Do you write under a pen name?
I always knew my dad had a wish for our family name to continue on, but with three daughters, the name was lost after we married. Camelia Miron Skiba is the combination of my maiden and my married name (and yes, my dad is beyond happy about it).
Cats or dogs?
White wine or red?
Coffee or tea?
I’d have ice cream for breakfast, lunch and dinner. For snacks it would have to be…ice cream.
Vanilla or chocolate ice cream?
Vanilla with almonds.
What are 4 things you never leave home without?
A bottle of water, sun glasses, phone and lip gloss.
Laptop or desktop for writing?
Where and when do you prefer to do your writing?
I have a desk set in the guest room, by the window. Usually after dinner (if the muse strikes) I’m locked in the room until I can no longer keep my eyes open.
If you were deserted on an island, who are 3 famous people you would want with you?
Hugh Jackman, Andy Whitfield (R.I.P) and Gordon Ramsay. One would protect me, one would warm my nights and the other would cook for me. I can life forever!
One of your favourite quotes –
It doesn’t matter where you come from. It doesn’t matter where you go. Love will always find its way to your heart. Believe.
List 3 of your all time favourite movies?
Gone With The Wind
An actor you have a crush on –
Yummy! What is a movie or TV show that you watched recently and really enjoyed?
Thank you for stopping by and sharing with my friends here!
Thank you so very much for the opportunity. Great questions!
In a war that’s not hers, she loses everything.
Everything she loses is because of him.
Forgiveness is not an option.
Lieutenant Cassandra Toma, trauma surgeon in the Romanian National Army starts her deployment at a joint-unit air base on a wrong foot, clashing on her first day with her new commander, Major David Hunt. Her rebellious nature and sassiness rival her excellent performance in the operating room—the only reason why she’s not reprimanded, or maybe not the only reason.
They meet. They clash. A forbidden passion consumes them with the intensity of an erupting volcano, leaving her heartbroken and him with tarnished honor and pride as an officer. The only way out for David is disappearing into the dangerous warzone in Iraq. Their flame was supposed to be over when destiny brings them back under the same roof, this time with a common goal—to find Cassandra’s brother, Maj. Robert Toma, kidnapped by insurgents while on patrol.
To rescue Robert, Cassandra and David put aside their resentments, uniting forces against a common enemy. Trying to forget the painful past, Cassandra opens up to give David—and their love—another chance. What she doesn’t realize is that her anguish is the result of David’s impetuous action—one reckless choice he made for which she may never forgive him.
His mistake, his secret, could cost them both the love they’ve finally found.
“You need to calm down,” David inched closer to Cassandra, fixing her with such intensity her face caught fire.
“Calm down? You want me to calm down?” she snorted, jutting her chin up, hands on her hips.
“Yes. You need to calm down. What was that all about? Why are you so furious?”
“You want to know why I am so furious?” Cassandra grounded her feet apart and pushed her chin forward. “You really want to know? I’ll tell you why. I’m so sick of your bigheaded attitude, of your ‘I’m an American—I do whatever I want’ arrogance!” She shoved a finger at David’s chest, poking it and leaning forward. Her gaze locked on his, their faces close. “You act like some god on our grounds, like you’re doing us a big favor, honoring us with your royal presence as if we are a bunch of idiots you cannot stand. Anything that comes your way that is Romanian, you dismiss with such vehemence one might think it’s poisonous. Nothing we do or have is good enough for your nose.
“But let me tell you something, my friend. My people might not have everything so technical and so advanced, but they are good and hard-working people. They have good hearts and above all, they have dignity. When you live for generations under communism and are treated the way we were, maybe only then you can understand what it means to be so ‘primitive’. To be given nothing and be expected to work wonders. Your standards and ours obviously don’t match, but who are you to judge us? What do you know about us that gives you the right to treat us this way? Huh?
“And for your information, in case nobody had the courage to tell you, this is not our war.” She made a large circle with her arms. “We haven’t asked for it and we are doing you a favor allowing all of you to be on our soil. And not vice versa.” Cassandra straightened her back, pushed away a curl that fell on her face and held her arms up. “Here you have it, I said it.”
She walked around David, opened the door and before leaving, said without looking back, “And don’t forget to write me up.”
David shook his head, scrunching his eyebrows. “Have you looked around, Cassandra? Do you have the smallest idea where we are?”
“Yes,” she jutted her chin up, her voice a rasp, “in a rat’s hole I don’t give a damn about. I could care less about the people here, nor want anything to do with them. This is not my war. I said it before, I’ll say it again. The only reason I’m here is for Robert, and Robert only.” She inhaled deeply, squeezing dreadful tears between her eyelids. “If you don’t want to help, that’s fine. But don’t try to stop me.” She turned to walk away, but David caught her wrist. “What—”
“Look around you. I get it you don’t care about being here, or about the people, but you have a choice—the choice of staying alive and safe, here on the base. They,” he pointed at the beds, “didn’t.”
Three soldiers occupied the room, one without an arm, another without a leg. The third one had bandages around his head, half of his face disfigured with burns.
Her stomach twisted, a strong taste of bile rising in her throat.
“And what am I supposed to do, David? Just sit around and wait?” She glanced at Laura who, standing in the doorway, waved a nurse not to enter. Grateful that Laura spared her the embarrassment of being heard by others, she turned to David and said, “I have to at least try to find him, I have to.” Her eyes burned with tears, her voice choked up. “He is somewhere out there, and must be found, alive…” Her stomach turned to a fire pit, pain forcing her to bend forward.
David grabbed her by the shoulders and for a moment, Cassandra thought he’d embrace her. Instead, he blinked quickly, pushed her slightly away and rubbed her upper arms, shaking his head, his voice heavy. “Cass … You won’t be allowed to go anywhere. If your assignment is here on the base, in the hospital, then you’ll follow orders. This is not Romania.”
She opened her mouth to speak, but David raised a hand. “There’s no point in arguing, trust me.” He limped around the first bed, put gloves and a mask on and added, “Come, let’s finish the rounds.”
About the Author
I WRITE. I LOVE. I DREAM. I WRITE.
I’m Chris’ wife, Patrick’s mom and Bella’s owner. During the day, I’m the assistant to the Director at SESE at Arizona State University, and romance’s slave at night.
I moved to the U.S eight years ago, following my heart and the man who stole it. I love comedies, historical dramas and happily-ever-after stories. English is not my native, not my second, but my third language.
Some fun facts about me:
- Each year I participate in one big event that requires me to physically train. My biggest sportive accomplishment was the 3-day 60-mile Susan G. Komen Walk.
- Annually I pick a color I decree my favorite (this year it’s salmon).
- I refused to text until 2010, always preferring to hear voices rather than sending emotionless messages. Politic bores me to death and I have no tolerance for arrogance.
- “A World Apart” is my second book. My debut novel “Hidden Heart” came out March 2011.