Blog Tour: Mary Billiter

The perfect job, a dream guy, and one chance to screw it up…

 Title: Do Not Disturb
Series: Resort Romances #1
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: October 15th, 2106
When a luxury beachfront hotel in the OC conducts a mass hire, Katie Flanagan’s ninth in line.
Is it her dream job? Possibly.
Will it help her escape living with her parents for the rest of her life? Hopefully.
Add in two hot new hires: one who is her type in all the wrong ways and one who has her questioning what she really wants and needs. Either way, she has a choice to make.
When Katie discovers a secret document aimed at downsizing the staff, she finds her voice and pens a press release that places the hotel, and her, at the center of national coverage. When the corporate line is drawn in the sand, the question becomes – will she cross it?
Havoc, heat, and hotel madness… welcome to the back hallways at the Waterfront Point Resort.

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1.     Tell
us a bit about yourself.
2.     What
inspired you to write your first book?
I’m going to tie
two questions into one! So you’ll know a little bit about me and who inspired
me to write my first book.
As the daughter of
a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist my father greatly influenced my writing.
His influence on my craft happened around the dinner table.
Every night he
would come home in his suit, tie and black Fedora – this was an era when
everyone dressed like Don Draper from “Mad Men” only my father looked more like
Charlie Brown. Still even with his round head and little ball of hair on top,
when he arrived home from the newspaper everyone in my family had the same
reaction – excitement.
During suppertime
he would tell us stories from his day – who he interviewed, where he went, and
what he saw. My father was the voice for the common man and often his human
interest stories were about their struggles.
He painted a
picture with his words that captivated me. I wanted to meet these people and
know first-hand their hardships because I felt like I knew them.
I earned my
Bachelor of Arts in journalism and as a 29 year career journalist my foothold
in the newspaper industry has been as a weekly columnist.
It wasn’t what I
intended, but when an editor needed someone to fill the slot for the opinion
page I found that I could use my voice for those who didn’t have one – victims
of the domestic violence, sexual abuse survivors and most recently through my
own diagnosis, breast cancer survivors.
As a novelist, I
have published works that unearth varying emotions for my readers due to the back
story within the novel. My debut novel, “Not My Kid…” addressed the long-term
effects of domestic violence on a family.
More often, my
work centers around two characters like Katie Flanagan and Chris Bogart whose attraction
to each other starts slowly and builds as humour, havoc and heat intertwine
through their story.
In any romantic
relationship it’s that build-up that provides the greatest return. The friction
between Katie and Chris heightens throughout the story for the maximum pay-off.
However whether
I’m writing for the newspaper, a short story or a romance novel, the essence of
good writing is painting a visual picture for the reader through setting,
dialogue and character.
Ultimately, I
imagine how I would tell a story around the dinner table. How can I keep my
audience engaged? And if I can do it half as well as my father then I’m off to
a good start.
3.  How did you come up with the title of your
I absolutely love
the title of this book, “Do Not Disturb” and I’ll tell you why.
I’ve worked at two
different five diamond resorts and one of the first things I learned was the
importance of “Do Not Disturb.” Or in the hotel lingo a “DND”. If a guest has a
DND on their hotel door or activated on their phone, no matter the peril – you
do not disturb.
This applies to
everyone employed in the hotel – from the line staff to the executives.
I always thought
it would be a great title for a hotel romance. And in my resort romance, “Do
Not Disturb” I utilized the DND for some covert behind the scenes business.
Good! Because the
title may also apply to readers because they will be so absorbed by the story
that they, too, don’t want to be disturbed!! Enjoy!!
4. Describe your main character in five words.
Moxie (with a
wardrobe to match)
Sexy (in a girl
next-door kind of way)
And fiercely loyal
5. What was one of the most surprising things
you learned in writing your new release?
When Katie makes a
decision that could conclude at the cost of her job. Her response surprised me.
“If I lose my job,” I (she) shrugged, “I’ll
land on my feet. I always do.”
At that moment, I
knew the mettle this character was made from. She’s determined, resilient, and
a voice championing for the underdog.
Katie has been as
real to me as someone I would befriend but it was her inner strength I learned from
writing her story.
I appreciate it when
people in my life go beneath the surface to show me who they really are and
Katie did that for me.
6. Have you ever done anything strange or
weird in the name of research?
Have I ever! In my
romantic suspense, “The XYZ Affair” I knew that the mystery would
center on a cold case. But when you happen
upon a collection of decades-old bones, what do you do?
I met with Casper,
Wyoming’s coroner who became a wonderful contact. She arranged for me to drive
with one of her assistants to Loveland Colorado where people, who had died of
unknown causes in the central part of our state, autopsied.
I woke early and
met with her assistant who drove the “meat wagon,” newspaper jargon for the coroner’s
truck loaded with a fresh cadaver. I wish I were joking.
The only part that
creeped me out was the highway travel transporting a dead body. I kept wanting
to turn and look at her over my shoulder and talk. I felt badly for her unknown
loss of life and in nervous situations I talk too much. Thankfully I didn’t
speak to the dead woman.
In Loveland, I
stood through two autopsies, took notes, and never threw up – even after they
cut into her to perform autopsy where they remove vital organs to weigh them.
My knees didn’t buckle and I ate lunch afterward. True story.
It was fascinating
and my 8+ hours of research culminated in one paragraph in “The XYZ Affair” that
rings true to the process. That’s why I do research so that anyone who picks up
my book will know that the business end of murder, as was the case in “The XYZ
Affair” is accurate.
The same holds
true for “Do Not Disturb” – my past work experience, combined with spit-balling
ideas with current hotel employees, allowed me to write a fun, fictional and
realistic story set behind the scenes of a luxury resort.
7. How long does it take you to write a book?
Often times I seem
to produce a book in six weeks because that was the time allotted between
semesters in graduate school.
As a career
journalist, I work well under tight deadlines.
Also, I’m a big
fan of what I learned from volunteering in my son’s third grade class and
that’s “sloppy copy.” Sloppy copy is putting the words on the page to get the
story out. It could be called your “zero draft” or “first draft” – whatever you
call it, it’s the freedom to be messy and fine-tune things later.
8. Can you share a little of your current work
with us?
I am so excited
about book two in my resort romance! It’s set on the Oregon Coast replete with a
lighthouse, identical twins and the young single mom one of them falls for.
Lighthouse are
beacons to keep ships out to trouble. But an overnight assignment to maintain
the light at one of Oregon’s oldest lighthouses, places Kelsey McCann in unfamiliar
water. When hotel heir Oliver Carlyle shows up at midnight to help Kelsey keep
the light, the sparks that ignite beacons each of them to discover what the
heart holds.
9. What is your work schedule like when you’re
Pretty much do not
disturb! Seriously my kids and husband know that if the door to my bedroom is
closed – mom is writing and unless there is a fire…Do Not Disturb!
10. Do you have anything specific that you want
to say to your readers?
Thank you. I would
not be where I’m at and able to write the stories I have in my heart if it
wasn’t for myriad readers who choose to download or buy my book to read. Thank
you. I am genuinely honored and humbled to be able to write.
1.What’s in your fridge right now?
Homemade, from
scratch, refried beans – that are in a word: amazing. A gallon of milk, a block
of Oregon-made Tillamook cheese, apples, lettuce and Italian sausage that were
grilled over an open flame for a delectable flavor. Yum. Let’s eat.
2.What song do you sing at the
top of your voice every time you hear it?
“Beauty and the Beat”
by Justin Bieber and Nicki Minaj.
Yeah, I’m owning it.
3. Other than writing, what special or unusual
talent(s) do you have?
Nothing that I can
write and have my children read.
4. Where did you last go on holiday?
Deadwood South
Dakota baby during Sturgis…vroom vroom!
5. If feral aliens attacked your house and
they were zapping your home with their
Über super bombs, what five items would you
Okay, besides my children and husband, which
alone equals five? That’s easy…my driver’s license. Not only because it’s one
of the few flattering photos of me, but also I don’t want to have to go through
the hell of replacing it at the DMV, (which may actually be run by feral
Mary Billiter is a weekly newspaper columnist and fiction author. She also has novels published under the pen name, “Pumpkin Spice.”
Mary resides in the Cowboy State with her unabashedly bald husband, their combined children, and runaway dog. She does her best writing (in her head) on her daily runs in wild, romantic, beautiful Wyoming.