Rad-Reader:  Why did you want to tell this story?  What made it say, "write me?"

Jody:  Actually, it was Declan’s idea to write this story. He had such a strong presence in books one and two, we decided to revamp the third idea and give Declan his own story. But I was very drawn to the idea of writing a story about a man who didn’t think love was in the cards for him. He was completely okay with it. But when he realized, it’s not always a choice, that was an interesting conflict for him. 

Rad-Reader:  Where did the idea for the book come from?  Or did you just start writing and it just developed?

Jody:  I wanted to give Declan the story he deserved. It needed to be someone who he could have a powerful emotional connection with. Someone strong, independent but also vulnerable. Because he was making himself vulnerable by taking a risk with his heart, that person had to be willing to do the same. Sophia checked all the boxes for Declan but she also showed him that people change. Time passes and we evolve as people and that means our wants, dreams, and needs change too. He wanted someone he could hang onto that could continue to change and adjust with him, by his side. 

 Rad-Reader:  Do you use an outline, decide character names, and towns before you write?

Jody:  For the main characters, I typically spend some time thinking about them. Who they are, and what they do and what their nickname would be if it seems like a good fit. But the secondary characters, which Declan was, come to me, literally, as I type. I need a character and a name pops in so I type it. It’s often influenced by what I’m listening to at the moment or a name I just heard. Now and again, depending on the story, I’ll plan ahead a little more with the names but when it comes to my romance work, I tend to have an idea and run with it, letting everything else fall into place as I get there. And of course, trying to unravel the mess I sometimes make when I don’t think carefully enough about what should come next.
For towns, I usually find a town that I like the appeal of online and then use it as a reference. For instance, Brockton Point, Maine, is based off of Rockland, Maine. 

Rad-Reader:  Can you give us a backstory on Sophia and Declan that the blurb doesn’t give us?

Jody:   Both from the same small town, they are about four or five years apart in age. Sophia is the youngest sister of Declan’s good friend. He grew up with their family, often hanging out there after school as much as he did at his own home. Sophia’s family owns a local pizza spot that has been the central hub for teens and families for years. She’s the only one of the four Strombi children who went against the grain and wanted something different. He admires Sophia because what her family saw as abandonment, he saw as strength—she was able to strike out on her own and achieve her dreams. He is in awe of the woman she is now, especially when he remembers the kid she used to be. He never thought of her that way. Ever. Not that he didn’t know she was attractive when they were teens but even then, Declan had no intention of settling down with one woman. 

Rad-Reader:  How did you develop the two main characters?

Jody:   I have to be careful with this actually. I tend to avoid conflict and if you don’t give your characters flaws and your story conflict, you don’t have a lot to say in ninety thousand words. So, I have to think about their personalities and how they both add to and detract from the other person’s. I have to know what each person wants, how their main goal doesn’t work with what the other wants and as they try to navigate through that, their personalities sort of, develop on their own. 

Rad-Reader:  What is the age difference between Sophia and Declan?

Jody:  She’s 28. He’s 32. 

Rad-Reader:  Is Sophia pregnant by any chance by the way she is so tired and so afraid to go home and tell her parents she’s home and she’s as she puts it a failure?

Jody:  Hmmm….. 😊

Rad-Reader:  Why wasn’t Marc and his wife originally invited to the BBQ?

Jody:   Declan’s best friend, as an adult, is Adam. Adam’s wife’s best friend is Stella. When they all hang together, it ends up being Adam and Megan, with Charlie, Stella and Zach, and their single friend, Megan. Marc and Declan are still close but they’re go-to-the-gym, grab-a-beer buddies. Or, make a beer together buddies. Marc spends so much time at the restaurant and though Declan obviously knows Michelle, they aren’t close. Plus, the BBQ was originally at Stella’s house. She isn’t connected to the Strombi family in any way. 

Rad-Reader:  After they invite Sophia, I understand but it did seem like he wasn’t on either invite.  If so, why not?

Jody:  When Adam was a single father, he and Declan hung out a lot. When Megan joined the family, she was used to having ‘big-brother’ types around and included Declan in their activities. Also, Declan is friends with Stella. So, the group isn’t excluding Marc; they just don’t really hang together.  

Rad-Reader:  Declan wants to explore the possibility when she needs certainty in her life.  If he said, ‘Marry me’ do you think that would even work?  Before Lasagna?

Jody:  No. I don’t think it would work. Because she would want to say yes to have that sense of certainty but they’d both always wonder if it would last or if it was right. They needed to travel the path they did to know in their hearts and minds that they were meant to be together. They had to learn to trust each other but also themselves. 

Rad-Reader:  You can want you, child, to grow up where you did because it was familiar.  But it doesn’t mean the pain of family life can’t affect the emotion attached.  Can’t she come home for the family she had, I’m sure and now the ones she is making with Dec’s friends that are becoming a family?

Jody:   I think it’s common for people to be sure that what they want—in life, in a person— is out there somewhere. We go out searching for it but what happens, as we get older, is we start to get surer of who we are, and we realize that where we are doesn’t matter as much as who we surround ourselves with. So, yes. She could come home for her family and the familiarity but she also had to learn that she didn’t have to be alone, regardless of what her family chose. As you said, she built her own support group by believing she was worthy of belonging to it. 

Rad-Reader:  Marcus has some nerve being mad at his best friend for being kinder to his sister than him or his family.  Is that what he’s really mad at that she felt she could turn to Dec and not him?

Jody:  Marcus is an older brother with a lot of expectation and responsibility on his shoulders. In addition to feeling like he let his parents down by not getting Sophia to stay or come home, he feels the frustration of not being able to watch out for her and ‘take care of her’ as he feels an older brother should. He starts to understand what made Sophia want to strike out on her own but at the same time, he believes in very black and white definitions of the words loyalty and family. You don’t go after what you want if it upsets someone else. And that isn’t a true path to happiness. In this case, his younger sister knew that and he didn’t. He isn’t mad at her just for turning to Declan but for not feeling the same responsibility he does and also, a little, for being brave enough to take her own path.

Rad-Reader:  Sophia never stops to think what Dec could be afraid of.  Why?

Jody:   Because part of her still sees him as Declan James, the boy every girl wanted to be with. The guy who was cool, calm, and collected even as a teen.  In her mind, he’s not afraid of anything. She also feels her own fears are weaknesses and she doesn’t see Declan as having any weak spots. 

Rad-Reader:  Is Marcus mad because she did what he can’t?  Stand up to their father?

Jody:  Absolutely. Mad, jealous, and a little impressed. Though he hides that part well. 

Rad-Reader:  Did Declan ever notice her as a teen?

Jody:   No. Not like that. She was a friend’s sister. Not on the radar. 

Rad-Reader:  Does Marcus ever tell his father the truth about the beer?

Jody:  I think so. I think, eventually, all of them—Marcus and his dad—grow to the point of understanding that you can’t expect people to live your dream and just because they don’t necessarily want to, doesn’t mean they don’t love you or that they’ll let you down.  

Rad-Reader:  If your book was made into a movie who would you want to play?...

Sophia:  Federica Nargi

Dec:  Nate Bateman

Adam:  Ashton Kutcher

Megan:  Gigi Hadid

Charlie:  Pinterest Boy

Marcus:  Giulio Corso

Parker:  Alan Ritchson

Garrett:  Pete Ploszek

Stella:  Katy Perry

Zack:  Brian Kelley


Charlie:  Levi Z. Miller (as a kid)

Rad-Reader:  What song or songs best describes your two main characters and their relationship or your story as a whole?

“Turn Around – Roman Alexander”
When she was standing at the door of his bar, she was with her bar to him ready to knock.  And he knew was ready to get to know her so imagine his surprise when he sees he best friend’s little sister who he hadn’t seen in ten years all grown up and gorgeous.  Whatever, she wanted he was her man.

“Only Forever – Demi Lovato”
Sophia has had a crush on Declan since she was thirteen.  But he only sees her as a little sister to his best friend.  But when her family turns their back, he’s there for her.  But the secret she holds as he wants more makes her fearful.

“Last Name – Bexar
After being burned by her last relationship she has a had time believing that Declan the man with reputation is ready to settle down.  More than that she can’t believe his compliments.  So, until he can get her to believe he will have to date her and figure out how to earn her trust.

 "One Man Band by Old Dominion"

Neither of them wants to travel this road alone. They could but they both know the journey will be better together. Neither Declan nor Sophia expected to find forever in each other but they fit and when you recognize your person, you want them by your side through it all.

"Meant to Be by Florida Georgia Line and Bebe Rexha"

There’s a line in the song where he tells the girl, ‘hold up, don’t you know you’re beautiful?’ and this is so on point with what Declan makes Sophia feel. He makes her see herself through his eyes and it gives her so much strength.

Rad-Reader:  How long did it take you to get your first story published?

Jody:   I had a very short story published in an anthology in November 2014. I’d been trying for almost two years at that point. My first full novel, which was co-written, was published the following April. 

Rad-Reader:  Did you self-publish or did you go traditional?

Jody:  Back and forth, back and forth 😊 I self published a Christmas story, Forever Christmas, that went with the short story I’d had published. My next two books were through a very small Christian press. Then another smallish publisher. One tiny stepping stone at a time. I still do traditional publishing with Entangled and Kensington but I also have self published titles. 

Rad-Reader:  What other genres do you write if not any other, is there any other you would like to write?

Jody:  I write cozy mysteries. I love them. They are a joy to write and so fun to plot out. I don’t plot for romance but you have to for the cozies. I get the best of both worlds because it’s fun and I can include romance without having to introduce a conflict because the main story is about the mystery, not the couple. 

Rad-Reader:  How much prep goes into your writing of any story?

Jody:  For the romance, I start with an idea, a meet-cute usually, the characters and their names. Then I just go. I start with one chapter and see how I do. If I feel good about it, I keep going until I get stuck. For the cozies, I have to keep notes and figure out who did what, why, and how. That’s a little tricky. 

Rad-Reader:  What do your friends and family think of you being an author?

Jody:  They’re really proud of me. I have to get better at sharing it with people and I’m trying but it’s hard to work that into a conversation. I’m not even close to the point where when people say, what do you do, that I’d answer, I’m an author. I always say I’m a teacher. My family and friends, and my sweet daughters are so encouraging and positive. I have a wonderful support system and they make me feel very talented. 

Rad-Reader:  Did any doubt that you would do and then say wow I can’t believe it you did it? Great job?

Jody:  No. Not that I can recall. I’ve always been a writer. Honestly, everyone, especially my best friend, mom, husband and two daughters have been nothing but supportive and encouraging. 

Rad-Reader:  What is your next project and when is it coming out?

Jody:  The next book I have coming out is the second cozy mystery, Deadly Vows. The next project I’m working on is the second of a two book series for Entangled. It’s for the Bliss line, which is their sweet romance line. I’m ¾ of the way through it and need to finish that up during Spring Break. From there, I have a fourth cozy mystery to start and edits on the two baseball books. 

Rad-Reader:  Where can our readers buy your books?  Links

Rad-Reader:  Where can our readers find on the Web?  Links


Thank for your time and the joy of reading your book.  I hope we get to work together again in the future.  I enjoyed the emotional journey that Dec and Sophia go on together.
Thanks again,

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