Sunday, January 24, 2016

Aloha to Willa Blair and SWEETIE PIE (A Candy Hearts Romance)


Scottish lass meets Hawaiian surfer - what's not to love?  I spotted Willa Blair's SWEETIE PIE (A Candy Hearts Romance) on Facebook and was intrigued ... 

Makenna Stewart flees Scotland for the Big Island of Hawaii intent on making real a cherished dream—-a bakery of her own. Hard work and long hours leave Makenna craving some fun in her life. Her best customer, Greek-god sexy surfer Tom may be just what she needs, but she suspects there’'s more to him than board shorts and a devastating smile.

Retired professional surfer and real-estate multi-millionaire Tom Bensford is there when she opens every morning, but he’'s not craving her magical Morning Glory muffins. Fascinated by the dark-haired, blue-eyed wahine with the creamy Celtic skin and devastating Scottish accent, he’'s never met a woman like her. Too bad he’'s about to destroy her dreams.

To him, it’'s just business. To her, it’'s the kind of betrayal she fled Scotland to escape. Can the island magic in Makenna's heritage save her dream and their romance, or will his secret tear them apart.

I invited Willa to be my guest on SOS Aloha in honor of Robert Burns' birthday tomorrow.  He is Scotland's beloved poet ...

Kim:  You hail from my neck of the woods in Florida.  What is your favorite sight, sound, and smell of the Sunshine State?

Willa:  After spending years in Maryland and lately in Texas, my favorite sight is all the water in that part of Florida—Tampa Bay, the lakes, the bridges, the Gulf. I miss the colors and the flowers and the sunlight sparkling on water. My favorite sound is waves rolling onshore, but a close second is a mockingbird I once heard singing who, over the fifteen minutes I was nearby, never repeated himself. Smell? Citrus blossoms and fresh citrus! We were surrounded by groves while I was in elementary school, and I still love those scents. I also love the freshness of the wind blowing off the Gulf.

Kim:  Who or what helped you along your path to publishing?

Willa:  Too many people to name, but the answer to “what” is easy—local RWA chapters and critique groups. When they meet, I still Skype with the critique group I left behind in Maryland, and I’ve established one here in Texas with members of my local RWA chapter. Like many authors, I get so far inside my head when I write that I may only see what I meant to say, not what’s actually on the page. It’s better to find that out in draft with other writers than in reviews on Amazon! If you get a good cross-section of experience, critique groups can be a lifesaver because each person sees or hears something different and spots different problems. Beware the critique group that only tells you they love your writing. Positive feedback is nice to hear, but is really no help at all.

Kim:  Alba - what inspired you to write about men in kilts?

Willa:  Blair is a family name, so I really am part Scottish. Add to that the way I dreamed up Highland Healer by first seeing the opening scene, with interior of the tent and a warrior being brought in on a stretcher. At first, I didn’t know if it was going to be a science fiction/otherworldly story or something historical. But it didn’t take long to realize where the story needed to be set. Then, once I started doing research to find the right time period, I got hooked. Scotland’s history is full of conflict, honor, dashed hopes and dreams, and great romances—all terrific fodder for romantic fiction, of course.

Kim:  Your new release, SWEETIE PIE, caught my eye on social media - a Scottish lass flees to the Big Island. Yum, yum! How did you research this novella?

Willa:  My husband and I have been to Hawaii several times. Our favorite spots are on the Big Island, on Kauai, and in upcountry Maui. The Big Island is so diverse you can spend weeks trying to see it all—volcanoes, coffee farms, snow, surf, Parker Ranch…I could go on and on. Kauai is incredibly lush and beautiful. I expect to see dinosaurs when I get to the north side.

Since "Sweetie Pie" suggested bakery to me, and since I know the Kona coast the best, that’s where I put Makenna’s bakery. The idea that it’s gluten free isn’t a big issue in the story. It’s mostly wishful thinking on my part that someone will be inspired to open one in Kona. There is a fantastic dedicated gluten-free bakery that has expanded into a breakfast and lunch restaurant on Kauai (Sweet Marie’s) and an equally terrific gluten-free place for lunch or dinner on Maui (Maui Brick Oven), but nothing of the sort on the Big Island.

The clincher for the setting was my discovery that Makenna is a Hawaiian name. It sounds just like the Scottish MacKenna (with any number of alternate spellings). Once I had that, I could have set the story in Scotland, but thought Hawaii would be fun—and I got to spend time (mentally, at least) in places I really enjoy.

Kim:  What's next for Willa Blair?

Willa:  What isn’t? I’ve started a lot of projects this year. The first is a new three-book series set in early 15th century Scotland (about 100 years before my Highland Talents series). Then there’s the “friendly ghost” story I’m writing for Hallowe’en. If I get all of that finished, I’ve wanted to do a Scottish historical Christmas/Yule story, so that might be next—or next year. Two contemporary books I started years ago are sitting in a drawer and I plan to get back to them sometime in the next year or so. And who knows, eventually Sweetie Pie might get a companion novella or two. Trust me, once you start writing books, it never ends!

Mahalo, Willa, for bringing Scotland and Hawaii to life!  I am giving away a digital copy of SWEETIE PIE to one randomly selected commenter (I have my own copy - review to come).  To enter the giveaway,

1.  Leave a comment about your favorite treat from the bakery.  Mine is Coco Puffs from the Liliha's Bakery in Honolulu

2.  Comments are open through Saturday, January 30, 10 pm in Baltimore. 

3.  I'll post the winner on Sunday, January 31.


Kim in Baltimore
Aloha Spirit in Charm City


  1. Aloha and mahalo, Kim! I hope you're staying warm and out of the snow.

  2. So many to choose from but I'll say white almond cake.

  3. I like the little bundt cakes from Nothing Bundt Cakes.

  4. Chocolate eclairs :) Sooooo delicious!

  5. love cupcakes from Flavor Cupcakery--they won on Cupcake Wars


  6. Pineapple cheesecake squares

  7. This book sounds incredibly sweet! So it fits the title perfectly. I will be looking forward to your review, Kim.

  8. The bakery need my oldest daughter's home has giant eclairs. You can split them 4 ways and still have nice portions. Everything they make is wonderful.

  9. The local bakery has amazing chocolate eclair cronuts sometimes. Probably a good thing they don't make them too often.