Irene Onorato joins us today! Her latest book, More than a Soldier, is available now! Plus, today is Irene’s birthday! Happy birthday Irene! 😉 ❤
Tell us about you! Can you share some interesting tidbits we may not know?
Like most kids, my idea of what I wanted to be when I grew up changed from one year to the next. One aspiration was to be an oceanographer like Jaques Cousteau. But I quickly discovered that anything remotely icky that brushed my legs while swimming sent me running out of the water in a near panic. I chalked oceanography off my list.
When I was in Junior High school, I decided I wanted to become a ballerina. I signed up for lessons, and after a single year of taking dance classes made a decision to audition for the High School of Performing Arts. If you’d like to know how that worked out, you can visit my blog HERE. You might get a good kick out of it.
What inspired you to start writing?
I had a fantastic teacher in High School that infused in me the love of writing. The caption under my 1972 yearbook picture says, “Wants to be a writer.” However, it wouldn’t be until 2016 that I would realize my dream of publishing my first novel.
Note to self: NEVER give up.
Other than writing, what are some of your passions in life?
I’m an avid people-watcher. Not in the creepy way, mind you. 🙂 There’s something about seeing raw emotion being played out in different people’s lives that intrigues me. And, I’ll admit, it helps me when I’m trying to describe emotions in my fictional characters’ lives.
I remember sitting in church one Sunday and watching a young father gazing adoringly into eyes of his infant son or daughter. The moment was precious and melted my heart. It was like seeing pure love in its most elemental form. The picture is etched into memory, and every time I think about it, that warm feeling soothes my soul.
What was your debut novel, and how has your writing process changed since your debut?
Singapore Secrets debuted in spring of 2016. Since then two other novels in my Veteran’s Heart Romance trilogy (A Soldier Finds His Way and More Than a Soldier) have been released, and the third book in the series is due to come out in February of 2018.
I wish I could say the writing process has gotten easier, and in some ways it has. But for the most part, writing is hard work. Sometimes I want to pull my hair out, like when I find a plot hole, or realize that something is wrong with the story’s timeline.
What I’ve learned is not to be so critical of myself, stop editing as I go, and simply WRITE. Anything can be fixed on the second and third rounds of edits. But first I’ve got to write the darn novel.
What is your favorite part of the writing/publishing process and why?
My favorite two words when writing a novel are, “THE END.” There’s something super satisfying about penning 80,000 words or so and finally coming to the finish line. Talk about a sense of accomplishment!
Of course, then there’s the editing process. Not one of my favorite things to do, but definitely necessary to make my novels shine. After the edits comes the ahhh moment when I say I did the best I could and let my baby go. A little scary, but also exhilarating.
What is your most challenging part of the writing/publishing process and what do you do to make it easier?
There are so many challenges to the writing process that I don’t know how anyone can successfully write a novel without a critique partner or two. I have three, and together we call ourselves The Four Critterteers.
My critique partners and I initially met online but have since met each other and formed a tight friendship. I love these ladies dearly.
What does a typical day look like for you? How do you find balance?
I retired at the end of February 2014. The kids are grown with families of their own, and I get to enjoy having the grandkids come over every now and then. Mostly, it’s just my hubby and me in the house all day. We have a crazy dog (who would prefer we did nothing all day but play ball with him) and two lazy cats.
Even though I don’t work outside the home anymore, there’s always something that needs to be done around the house. But my schedule is flexible, and if the floor doesn’t get mopped today, there’s always tomorrow.
Finding balance between writing and other responsibilities has become exponentially easier now that I’ve completed my three-book obligation with one of my publishers. As the deadline for the last book neared, the time crunch felt heavier and heavier on my chest. I didn’t enjoy that part of the writing process. Deadlines, I mean.
If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
You’re gonna make it, kid! Hang in there.
What do you love about writing romance?
Perhaps I have a mean streak, but I like throwing problems at the couple. I want the hero and heroine to have to work hard to be together. The more mountains they have to climb to cement their relationship, the better.
What kinds of things do you find romantic in real life? Can you share a story?
Unexpected acts of love and devotion.
Years ago a florist van pulled into my driveway. As the driver started to the door with a potted azalea wrapped in silvery-pink paper, I met her halfway and said, “I can tell ya right now you’re at the wrong house.”
She double-checked her paperwork. “I’m looking for Irene Onorato.”
“That’s me,” I said. “But who on earth would be sending me flowers?”
She shrugged and thrust the little azalea bush into my arms, then got in the van, and drove away.
I pulled the little white card from the plastic holder. It read, “To Renie. I love you, babe. Love, Jim.”
Tears filled my eyes. My husband’s out-of-the-blue surprise made me fall in love with him all over again for the hundredth time.
Do you read your book reviews? If so, how do they affect your writing (if at all)?
Oh, my. Reviews. Yes, I believe I’ve read all of mine thus far.
It feels great when readers write nice things and say they liked/loved my book. I have to admit though that less-than-stellar reviews hurt my feelings on some level. It’s human nature to be somewhat bruised when someone criticizes something we work so hard to bring to life. I try not to let others’ opinions affect my writing.
What is the craziest, funniest, or most surprising thing that has happened to you since publishing your first book?
I recently wrote a blog about my ballet audition for a high school that specialized in performing arts – dancing, singing, acting, etc. To my surprise, my best, best, best friend from childhood left a comment that she’d read all my books and enjoyed them. That meant more to me than a thousand 5-star ratings from strangers. It touched me on a deep emotional level. I’m forever grateful that she took the time to tell me she enjoyed my work. If you’re reading this, Joan Byrne, thank you from the depths of my heart for your kind words. I love you!
More Than a Soldier, book two of the Veteran’s Heart Romance series came out a few months ago.
The hero, Hank Fleming, was a secondary character in the first book, A Soldier Finds His Way. I absolutely love Hank, a former Special Forces soldier who was medically discharged after being hurt in a rocket-propelled grenade attack. Instead of being depressed and feeling sorry for himself, he brightens the lives of everyone around him.
When he meets Cindy Giordano, he sets out to win her heart, but finds her heart is closed for business after being severely betrayed by a rotten ex-fiancé.
Now let me tell you about my next release, which I’m totally stoked about. Woo-hoo! A Soldier’s Song is coming at you in February 2017.
When Sergeant Jason Dexter, goes home to New York to attend a wedding, he meets Aria Greco, a gorgeous pianist who happens to be the daughter of his commanding officer.
Sparks fly, but a long-distance relationship coupled with colliding career ambitions puts plenty of potholes on their road to happily ever after.
A Soldier’s Song!
Available for Kindle pre-order now!!! As the February release date draws closer, the paperback edition will also be available.
Be sure to order your copy now.
Five Facts Just for Fun!
1. What’s your favorite ’90s jam?
90’s? LOL. How ’bout 70’s? I loved Simon and Garfunkel, The Beatles, Melanie, and The Bee Gees.
2. What was the last gift you gave someone?
Food. We’ve been working on a bathroom remodeling and I try to send dinner home with our handyman. He seems to enjoy it.
3. What were you like as a kid?
I lived in the Bronx and loved to play on the street with my friends.
4. What was the last thing you binge-watched & what did you think of it?
Romance movies. Sleepless in Seattle, You’ve Got Mail, Kate and Leopold, While You Were Sleeping. Love, love, love those movies.
5. What is the one thing (other than your loved ones) that you cannot live without?
I could not live without my faith in God. I also couldn’t live without the support of my friends.
BOOKS BY IRENE ONORATO
Secrets . . .
Angry because her father, Louisiana Senator Jacob Windsor, has announced his engagement to Hollywood starlet Kara Bordeaux, Julia Windsor decides she’d rather leave home than be subjected to heightened security and a deluge of paparazzi. She travels to Singapore, severs all communication with those she’s left behind, and chooses to live a life of anonymity.
When Julia meets handsome Gabriel Davenport, she keeps her true purpose for being in Singapore a secret. The friendship that develops quickly evolves into something much deeper.
Julia marvels that she’s traveled halfway around the world to find love with an American man. But will that love endure when she discovers that Gabriel is a former Special Forces sergeant hired by her father to protect her?
Sometimes getting lost is the best way home . . .
After a painful youth spent in foster homes, Special Forces soldier Edward Giordano has all but given up on love. Returning to New York from a dangerous mission in Costa Rica with no one to welcome him home, he knows he must find a way through his bitterness and embrace faith, or he’s destined for misery and loneliness. But he never expects that saving someone else’s life might help him save his own…
Audra Lorenzo is a first-year school teacher with a bright future. All she’s missing is a man to share her happiness. Her father wants her to rekindle her relationship with her ex-boyfriend, but she can’t stop thinking about the handsome, kind, and courageous soldier who rescued her from a near-deadly car accident…
Edward too, has not stopped thinking of Audra. After making peace with God and with his difficult past, he’s ready to re-connect with her and reveal his feelings. Edward knows that opening his heart will mean risking pain, but he’s prepared for whatever comes—from a perilous deployment to Audra’s meddling father…
There’s more than one way to be a hero . . .
Former Special Forces soldier Hank Fleming is living a safe, quiet life in upstate New York, but there are days he isn’t sure he’s going to make it. The sole survivor of a devastating grenade attack in Afghanistan, he is still scarred, physically and emotionally. He hangs on to his faith and tries to keep moving forward, waiting for the day that something—or someone—can make him feel whole again.
Cindy Giordano is searching too—for her biological family and a fresh start. When her journey to find her brother, Edward, leads to Hank’s front door, she is instantly drawn to Hank . . . and instantly wary. With her ex-fiancé’s betrayal still fresh in her mind, friendship is about all she can muster.
When shadows from Cindy’s past threaten, Hank’s protective instincts shift into high gear, and he realizes everyone has their own battles to fight. But the road to healing would be much sweeter with the right person by his side…
Can love conquer all?
All Special Forces sergeant Jason Dexter ever wanted was to serve his country—with his father’s blessing. Although the elder Dexter has yet to make his peace with his son’s decision, Jason has no regrets. Still, he has mixed feelings about returning to his upstate New York town. But his perspective changes at a friend’s wedding, where he meets a lovely, gifted musician. Now Jason has a new mission: to get to know Aria Greco better.
The daughter of Jason’s commanding officer, Aria dreams of becoming a concert pianist. Meeting the handsome soldier transforms both their lives. But Aria’s ambition, Jason’s unresolved family conflicts, and jealousy over rivals on both sides soon threatens their blossoming relationship. As Jason prepares for a dangerous deployment, will the mounting tensions tear them apart, or is their love—and the faith they share—powerful enough to heal the past and embrace the future?