So it’s true: being a writer is a bit solitary. I’m fortunate in that I have a day job that gives me a lot of contact with people. But sometimes I do feel like I spend a lot of time staring at a screen.

Which is why, when author Rissa Brahm suggested we get coffee, I was delighted. Rissa is a romance writer who lives near me in Florida. We spent one Saturday afternoon chatting at our local Starbucks. We’re both fairly new romance writers, so we thought it made sense to try to help each other out.

I’m thrilled to bring you an exclusive author interview with Rissa, and introduce you to her debut novel, Tempting Rissa! (Look at this gorgeous cover!) Read through to the end for Rissa’s bio and a giveaway, too!

Rissa, what’s your daily creative routine like?

Early to rise…and coffee, stat. Once I’m in my writing nook with my buzz on, I get an hour and a half of words-on-page before anyone else is up. I usually have several stories going at once in some stage or another, so I shift to whatever I left open for myself the night before…

Unless I wake up with a sudden “must-add” to a different project than originally planned. That happens every week or so. No alarm clock needed on those days. “An umbrella, that’s what’s missing!” or “Her thong in his pocket!” Crazy things like that.

Then I break for mom duty. After the bus stop, I continue around the neighborhood on my bike to get my body moving, blood flowing, brain sparking.

Back home for yoga, shower, then a solid, sustaining breakfast.

My “office” door closes at 9 a.m. I am at my laptop (with water and snack breaks of chocolate chips or celery & cottage cheese, depending on how well the writing’s going 😉

Mom duty starts again at 4 p.m. until 8 p.m., then I attack emails, social media, and side projects like playlists, Pinterest, guest posts, etc. ‘til 10 p.m., but…

Two nights a week I stop at 8 p.m. to unwind. A bath, a good rom com, a show (Black Sails, Game of Thrones or other 😉 with the hubby, or I have-at my TBR. These things are equally important to the creative process—in fact, I should do more than 4 hours a week of down time, but I’m just slightly insane when it comes to unfinished anything, and the manuscripts are always calling.

What are some of your best creative habits and what are some of the bad ones you struggle with?

My best creative habits: I stop when I’m stuck. I write every single day. I dive in, no hold backs.

My worst creative habits: My attachment to a scene or a character has threatened the quality of the story before, and even though I know that it’s gotta go, it takes me a few days of cajoling to hack and cut. I’m getting better though. A fiction murderer, that’s me.

What does your writing space look like? What are some of the must-have devices and apps that make up your writer’s toolbox?

70% of the time, I write in my “office,” aka my bedroom’s second walk-in closet-turned office (double the protective doors from the outside world ;). On the walls are a few framed works my mini-me made, a few pieces from my travels, and a John Lennon etching. I try to keep all clutter out—like bills, etc. Operative word, try.

The remainder of the time, I bring my Mac with me everywhere. An oil change, waiting for the bank to open,  kid’s sports practices, tutoring, etc. I will write wherever/whenever—being mobile-ready has been my saving grace. And getting out and about adds fresh fuel to the story-fire.

My writer’s toolbox: ergo-everything (keyboard, mouse, chair, desk) and a dry erase board within reach (with lots of colorful markers 😉

What’s the best writing advice you’ve ever gotten (or read somewhere)?

“Just keep your head down and write,” Joanne Rock, author of 70+ romance novels had told me way back. And just recently, I listened to an interview with Bella Andre, who reiterated the same thing. The story, the writing—for the reader—is top, top, top priority. No amount of social media or logo creation can take the place of a solid, well-crafted, edited, finished story. So, first thing’s first.

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About Tempting Isabel (Paradise South #1):

Luck. Lust. Love.

Wedding planner Isabel Ruiz is cursed. Her hometown of Puerto Vallarta, Mexico agrees, considering her tragic track record. Alone and loveless, she creates fairy tale weddings for others. Her only distraction? The occasional and anonymous fling. But to avoid further tragedy, her rule, one–night–only, is never broken…

Until Zack.

Self-made millionaire, the charmed Zackary James, is in town for his kid brother’s wedding, when a sudden spell of depression hits. Not even his two female companions hold any interest. Burned out by his fast and luxurious lifestyle? Stress? Genetics? No answers surface in his empty scotch glass.

Then he crashes into Isabel.

She humbles and captivates him, reigniting his thirst for life. To his delight—and her dismay—they share a sensual connection over one mind-bending night. And now Zack must have her—to complete him. And Isabel must escape him—to save him.

A game of chase-catch-repeat builds to lust-turned-love. For Isabel, it’s fate’s cruelest joke. But Zack just won’t quit, positive he’s the cure to her curse. Can he convince her to risk everything with him? Or will everything go south…in paradise.

**This Hot & Heartfelt Contemporary Romance is for 17+ (Heat Level 4/5)**

I’m giving away a signed print copy of Tempting Isabel and a $10 Starbucks gift card over at my Facebook page! Giveaway ends Sunday, June 5! Check it out here: www.facebook.com/tamaralushwrites

Contemporary romance author Rissa Brahm grew up in New York and has since lived in all four corners of the United States, and beyond. The beautiful paradise of Puerto Vallarta, Mexico—the core setting of her hot & heartfelt debut series, Paradise South—is Rissa’s most recent and beloved home.

When not chained-by-choice to her MacBook, she is embarking on outdoor adventures with her husband and little girl, eating amazing Indian food with something chocolate for dessert; reading good, hot scorchers in bed; biking, long walks, and yoga; zoning out to killer music from across the decades and the globe; and getting lost only to discover a new exciting route home again.

Rissa’s hot contemporary romance series, Paradise South, includes Tempting Isabel (5.24.16), Taking Jana (6.14.16), Catching Preeya (7.8.16), Satisfying Ali (Late Summer 2016), and Freeing Kyla (Fall 2016). To learn more about Rissa and her hot and heartfelt romances (with multi-cultural couples, strong heroines, hot and flawed heroes, and soul-deep story) visit her website or shout out to her on Facebook or Twitter!