All The Kissing is pleased to welcome Natalee Cooper to this month’s Author Spotlight. Her debut novel, A Heart’s Design, is available now!
Introducing Natalee Cooper
Natalee writes sweet contemporary romance with a lot of heart and all the swoony kisses. Except for a few years in Idaho, Utah has always been her home. And since it’s pretty gorgeous there, it’s not surprising she loves it! She is the lucky mom to three and wife to her favorite person on the entire planet.
Natalee suffers book hangovers more than is healthy, loves chocolate-covered cinnamon bears, Mexican hot chocolate, and snuggling on the couch with her family. One day she’d love to visit Europe, but in the meantime, exploring fun little getaways in the States is great too. (Getaways that may or not appear in her books!)
Welcome Natalee, and thank you for dropping in. Some of us know that you’re one of our Pitch Wars 2016 sisters, but they may not realize that this is Pitch Wars book and your very first novel as well. Tell us all about A Heart’s Design.
Moving away from her late father’s residential designs to commercial means taking scary leaps for architect Madison Blakeley. The first is getting her name noticed in the competitive design world by winning a coveted contract with the brilliant real estate mogul, Jase Cutter. Only, fate has other plans, and Madison soon finds herself designing a private home on the bachelor’s ranch instead. But with one exception—the project needs to remain a secret.
It’s been eleven years since Jase Cutter ran from the ashes of his past, but the arrival of a single letter from an old family friend means returning to the place that broke him all those years ago. The idea of going home haunts him until he meets Madison, whose designs, inspiration, and kindness make him think that maybe he’s finally strong enough to not only return but rebuild.
Yet, one leaked story leaves both facing a firestorm of doubt, and Jase and Madison must decide whether to retreat or draft a new beginning—together.
Oh, my! This sounds lovely, and Jase sounds like my next book boyfriend. Do you have a favorite line from A Heart’s Design that you can share?
“Out of sadness, even cruelty, lies hope. Even that hope is only a new beginning.”
That’s gorgeous. I can see why it’s your favorite, and so inspiring. As new authors, that hope is an essential part of what keeps us going to see our dreams realized. I know when I was querying, I needed it the most. What’s the best and worst part about being a new author?
I will always love taking that spark of an idea and turning it into a brand-new world, but what I absolutely love the most is revising it! There is something completely fulfilling as a writer to weave and work in those deeper, beautiful layers that ultimately connect a reader to our worlds.
And then there is the marketing of said beautifully layered and new worlds…Hard Pass. Except, as an author there is no ‘pass’ button, lol. Shouting out my book is definitely a challenge for me and something I want to do with my eyes closed shut! It takes all of our confidence and courage to put our words out there and marketing is the same, just a different sort of beast, er…challenge.
So very true, and the marketing piece is a beast. I think we all start out dreaming of writing a book, turning it in and moving to the next, but publishing has so much more author-directed marketing than I imagined. When did you start writing and what made you decide to seek publishing?
My writing journey began just before my first baby was born, but I put that story away, only to pull it out two more kids and seven years later. It didn’t take me long after attending my first local writing conference to realize I wanted to seek publishing, but it was entering and winning a spot in Pitch Wars that truly set me on my publishing path.
Amen to that, sister. I wasn’t sure I had what it took to be a writer until I got in. And when the work started, I think we all learned quickly that we still had a long way to go. What did you struggle with most with as a fledgling writer in craft, process, and mechanics?
There are so many things you learn about yourself as a new writer. Sadly, our weaknesses are one of the first we discover (if you have good critique partners who point them out, that is). And for me, there was plenty to discover. While dialogue seemed to come more naturally to me, pacing was (and still can be) a struggle for me. Liking pretty prose doesn’t help this weakness, either, lol.
Girl, pacing was an issue for me, too. Do you have any go-to resources you can share with our readers?
Hands-down, my most useful resources are good, trusted readers. These are my critique partners, betas, and alpha readers and they are priceless to me as a writer. I’m also a huge lover of writing conferences and workshops. Not only is there a wealth of information on craft, but being surrounded by other writers elevates me, and therefore my writing!
So true. I find if I’m in a slump, conferences can energize my writing, as well. What advice would you give to the burgeoning romance writer about writing and/or the industry?
Don’t ever apologize for what you write. Ever. Your stories matter. Romance novels matter. Life is hard. We all need an escape at some point in our lives, and books provide that. They also connect us to the world in a way we could never experience with our own limited reach.
Don’t give up. Ever. Write and finish your first book, and then finish the next. And the next. This industry requires a lot of patience and a lot of armor (especially if your goal is getting an agent and going traditional). The stings of publishing are lessened when we work on our next book—our next love story. So, keep writing, always.
Good advice! Is there anything you must have to churn out words? [i.e. tea, candy, favorite blankie, music, etc.]
A view of the outdoors. Whether through my office window, sitting at a park…anywhere I can see the sun. Or rain. Or snow. Love all of it. For munchies, I love those BabyBell cheeses and Lays Stax. Mmmmm.
Definitely. Nature is my happy place. Usually water of some kind for me (it’s an Aquarius thing. I think). Time for some recommendations. Who are your favorite sweet romance authors and what book is on your nightstand now?
I’m a huge Georgette Heyer fan! This past year I discovered Sariah Wilson, who I’ve binged quite a bit of. Kasie West is also an insta-buy for me. She writes YA romance with so much heart balanced with the perfect angst. I’m currently reading A is for Author by Brenna Jacobs and loving it.
*Jots down new authors* Can you tell us about what’s next for you?
Playing it Tough is another sweet contemporary romance I’ve been working on for longer than I want to admit, ha! This story won first place in the Utah Storymakers first chapter contest (under the title All the Tomorrows).
This story follows a popular movie star and a tenacious pediatric nurse who are thrown together for a children’s charity, where they discover not only their mutual love of football, but an attraction worthy of the big screen. Only the exposure that comes from the ever-present spotlight might be too much for this girl barely keeping it together in a job determined to break even the toughest hearts.