Today I am so pleased to welcome R.L. Merrill to Joyfully Jay. R.L. has come to talk to us about the A More Perfect Union anthology. She has also brought along a great tour wide giveaway. Please join me in giving her a big welcome!
10 Things with R.L. Merrill
Greetings and thank you for hosting A More Perfect Union! This is a collection of stories with a purpose that is close to my heart so without further ado, here are 10 Things about “Joy Is A Phone Call Away.”
Q1: Tell us about A More Perfect Union.
A: It’s an anthology of brand new, voting-themed short stories by a collection of nine award-winning and debut authors: Adrienne Bell, Aliza Mann, Claire Marti, R.L. Merrill, M.D. Neu, Dawn Montgomery, Sera Taino and Kearney Wentworth. Yes, voting-themed. All proceeds from A More Perfect Union will benefit Fair Fight, an organization dedicated to combatting voter suppression.
Q2: You do a lot of charity anthologies. Tell us more about this one.
A: I love to use my words for good. I’ve donated stories to anthologies supporting organizations like the Marsha P. Johnson Institute as well as donating proceeds from my novels to groups like the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Fair Fight is working to end voter suppression. As a social studies teacher and advocate for children, I have always encouraged people to make their voices heard. Fair Fight is all about that!
Q3: Say a few things about the story you wrote for the anthology.
A: Joy is phone banking before the Georgia Runoff Election when a recently-disabled Army Ranger picks up her call. The two make a connection that neither knew they needed and they work through social distancing and new normal to try to make something of that connection. It’s a sweet story with some real-life implications and I hope you all will enjoy it!
Q4: How did you get involved with the project?
A: Adrienne and I met through the former San Francisco Area RWA chapter. I was fortunate to serve on the board with her and appreciated her work ethic and passion for social justice. When she hit me up back in November and said she wanted to do something to raise money for Fair Fight, I was like “where do I sign up?” I proceeded to work with her to gather an incredible lineup of authors who are passionate about the cause and together we’ve put together some innovative and meaningful tales of ordinary folks trying to make a difference. I’m proud of this project and my co-authors.
Q5: Where did your inspiration for the story come from?
A: “Joy Is A Phone Call Away” follows Joy Mulligan, an intern phone banking for the Democratic party. As a former telemarketer during college, I recall the long hours reaching out to folks asking them to support various causes and it’s a tough job. You have to have a sense of humor and an optimistic outlook. During the year I worked at a call center in southern Iowa, I raised money for Graceland University (my alma mater), the South Dakota Public Broadcasting system, and the Toledo Zoo in Ohio. I was proud of the work we did. A lot of my author pals did phone banking during this past election season and they shared their stories with me, how cool it was when they actually got to talk to a live human and make a connection. It inspired me to bring Joy to a special woman…
Q6: Wait…telemarketing in college?
A. Oh yes. I had many interesting jobs including parking ticketer, dormitory receptionist, customer service for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois (from Iowa) and professor’s assistant. That was my favorite. I switched my major from Psychology and Sociology to History and Secondary Education (then I got a Master’s in Counseling Psychology) and my professor William D. Russell wrote several books involving LDS History including one about a cult murder in Kirtland, Ohio. I spent five hours a week for two years transcribing his notes and letters for the book. Fascinating stuff.
Q7: Cult murder, you say?
A. Why yes. I became fascinated with abnormal psychology and the sociology behind groupthink and mob mentality. What could possibly make people do something as part of a group they’d never consider doing on their own? Working on my professor’s book gave me insight into the mind of a murderer and the psychology behind cults. I went on to devour books about FBI profiling (way before my current Criminal Minds binge) and briefly leaned towards a career in law enforcement, however teaching and counseling won out.
Q8: What is your favorite thing about this story?
A: I love that Dylan is able to be optimistic and that she’s surrounded by people willing to help her adjust to her new normal. I love that Joy and Dylan’s found family are able to find common ground despite their differing political views. Most importantly, I wanted to honor our women and men in the armed forces, especially those who come away from their service disabled. We owe them much better than we have done in the past. My hope is that by giving people a voice and electing officials who respect our veterans, we will do better.
Q9: What stories are you looking forward to in A More Perfect Union?
A: OMG ALL OF THEM! I’ll tell you a secret, I’ve already read stories by Aliza Mann and M.D. Neu and they were PHENOMENAL! I can’t wait to read more from Sera Taíno, who was recently selected for Harlequin’s Romance Includes You mentorship program. She and I are also working on a gay romance series together that has my motor running, I’ll tell you what! I can’t wait to read the stories from award-winning author Claire Marti, who is a badass cancer survivor and yoga instructor who I’ve had the privilege to meet in person. Dawn Montgomery is my fellow Magic and Mayhem Universe witchy pal and her story is a must-read. And I can’t squee enough about the bright new voice in romance, Kearney Wentworth, who’s been a friend IRL for over six years now and who gives the best hugs. She also has awesome taste in music. Kilby Blades never fails to slay me with her words and Adrienne Bell holds my heart after reading her story in our Worst Holiday Ever anthology. I can’t say enough good things about these folks.
Q10: Final question: what are you working on now?
A: I am currently writing the follow-up to Healer: Havenhart Academy Book One. I anticipate releasing it this spring. It’s a supernatural suspense with a strong romance that follows another former Army Ranger who possesses a very specific talent…one that will help him save the life of a friend after the plane she’s flying is hijacked. There will be action, slithery swamp creatures, and a megalomaniac religious zealot hellbent on making the folks from Havenhart Academy pay for taking his most valued possession. After that I’ll be working on more Magic and Mayhem Universe stories and the follow-ups to Typhoon Toby and Brains and Brawn, which means more music-filled m/m contemporary romance. Want to know more? Follow me at www.rlmerrillauthor.com and you’ll be kept up-to-date on all of my hijinks and shenanigans.
Thanks so much for checking out A More Perfect Union! Stay Tuned for more Rock ‘n’ Romance from R.L. Merrill…
Love wins in this collection of nine all new, voting-themed romances.
A set of bite-sized romance short stories with 100% of the proceeds benefiting Fair Fight, an organization dedicated to combatting voter suppression.
From the campaign headquarters to the polls, A More Perfect Union features brand new stories from:
- Adrienne Bell
- Kilby Blades
- Aliza Mann
- Claire Marti
- R.L. Merrill
- M.D. Neu
- Dawn Montgomery
- Sera Taino
- Kearney Wentworth
**This anthology will only be available for a limited time, so be sure to grab your copy today**
Adrienne Bell is the author of over a dozen action-packed romances including the bestselling contemporary Second Service series. Her love of story structure led her to create Plot MD, a system for crafting compelling stories. She also is the co-host of the weekly podcast The Misfit’s Guide to Writing Indie Romance.
Adrienne lives with her husband and sons on the far edge of the San Francisco Bay Area where she spends her downtime reading, binge watching nerdy television, and scrolling through Disneyland fan sites.
Kilby Blades is a USA Today Bestselling author of Romance and Women’s Fiction. Her debut novel, Snapdragon, was a HOLT Medallion finalist, a Publisher’s Weekly BookLife Prize Semi-Finalist, and an IPPY Award medalist. Kilby was honored with an RSJ Emma Award for Best Debut Author in 2018, and has been lauded by critics for “easing feminism and equality into her novels” (IndieReader) and “writing characters who complement each other like a fine wine does a good meal” (Publisher’s Weekly).
Aliza Mann is a paranormal and contemporary romance author who resides in Michigan. The goal of this anthology spoke to her desire to create a world where all people can enjoy the right and privilege of voting. She is a champion of equal rights and believes in democracy. The legacy of her grandfather, the basis for this story, lives on within her, and she could not be more thrilled to share this story with the world.
Claire Marti is an award winning and USA Today Bestselling author ?of swoonworthy Contemporary Romance novels set in Southern California. After graduating from the University of Virginia with a BA in English Literature, Claire was sidetracked by other careers, including practicing law, selling software for legal publishers, and managing a non-profit animal rescue for a Hollywood actress. Finally, Claire followed her heart and now focuses on two of her true passions: writing romance and teaching yoga. She’s thrilled to share her commitment to equality and justice for all in the A More Perfect Union Anthology.
R.L. Merrill brings you stories of Hope, Love, and Rock ‘n’ Roll featuring quirky and relatable characters. Whether she’s writing contemporary, paranormal, or supernatural, she loves to give readers a shiver with compelling stories that will stay with you long after. You can find her connecting with readers on social media, educating America’s youth, raising two brilliant teenagers, writing horror-infused music reviews for HorrorAddicts.net, or headbanging at a rock show near her home in the San Francisco Bay Area! Stay Tuned for more Rock ‘n’ Romance.
M.D. Neu is an award winning gay author who writes epic Sci Fi, Fantasy, and Paranormal stories that reflect our diverse community. When not writing M.D. Neu works for a non-profit and travels with his husband of twenty years.
USA Today bestselling author Dawn Montgomery loves to write almost as much as she loves to read. She has traveled the world twice over. While her days were filled with long hours and hard work, her nights were left for dark, lustful fantasies in and out of strange hotels and cities. Alaska and Texas are the places she calls home. She recently moved from the frigid North to Texas with her family and neurotic dog. It was tragic to leave behind the moose and bear for wide open plains and sexy cowboys.
Sera Taíno writes Latinx romances exploring the joy of love in the context of community and family in all its rich diversity. She was selected for the Harlequin Romance Includes You Mentorship, an initiative launched in 2019 to reach out to diverse communities of writers and bring more own voices stories to romance readers. Her debut novel is slated to be published with Harlequin’s Special Edition Line in Fall, 2021. When she is not writing, she can usually be found teaching, traveling, or wrangling her family.
Kearney Wentworth writes about her passions: music, romance, travel, sports, libraries, hotties and Blerds. The first book in her “Highland Havoc Rugby Club” series is out on submission and more short stories are in the queue.
The authors have brought $25 Amazon gift card to give away to one lucky reader on their tour. Follow the Rafflecopter below to enter.
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