Guest Interview: Authors Patricia Kiyono and Stephanie Michels

Susana: Today I’m pleased to introduce Patricia Kiyono and Stephanie Michaels, who are the co-authors of  The Calico Heart. Welcome to Susana’s Morning Room!

Patricia: Thanks for inviting us, Susana. We love to chat with readers!

Susana: When you write, what comes first, the plot or the characters?

Stephanie: It can be either for me. Sometimes I hear a quotation and it triggers a whole series of ideas that give me an idea for a story. Other times, I’ll see a picture in a magazine or on a billboard and I get a flash of an idea for a story about the person.

Patricia: For me, the plot comes more quickly than the characters. My story ideas tend to start with a conflict, and then I select characters who would be most affected by that conflict.

Susana: Are you working on something at present you would like to tell us about?

Patricia: I’m working on a sequel to my historical series, and we’re both hard at work on the next few stories in the Stitching Post series, as well as promoting!

Susana: What are you reading now?

Stephanie: I’m pretty much addicted to reading, so I always have several books going at once. I don’t know how it started, but I’ve been doing it for years. Currently, I’m reading the latest Gemma Halliday High Heels mystery Danger in High Heels on my Kindle, Kay Springsteen’s The Toymaker on my iPad, and I have an old Nelson DeMille paperback, The Lion’s Game on my bed table.

Patricia: On my ipad I have the kindle, nook and ibook apps with several books loaded on each app. Right now I’m reading The Ebay Plot by Charles Salter, The Ice Captain’s Daughter by SG Rogers, and Vidal’s Honor by Sherry Gloag. And on the end table next to me are several hardcover books I have for research.

Susana: What is your work schedule like when writing?

Stephanie: I am a real night owl, especially now that I don’t have to get up for a job in the morning. It’s nothing for me to start writing at 7 or 8 PM and write through the night.  I do not recommend this! It makes for a crazy lifestyle.  For example, I often am just signing off the computer to go to bed (I seldom sleep more than 5 hours) when Patty is getting out of bed to start her day.

Patricia: Each day of the week is different for me. My natural inclination is to be a night owl, but right now I’m working three days a week at a bakery and have to punch in at 4 am. I like to have at least two cups of coffee and a good breakfast before I start my day, so I get up at 2 am, open my laptop and check email and social media, and then write (while eating the breakfast my wonderful hubby fixes me) before going to work. I use a website called 750 Words as a way to keep myself motivated to write, and most days I’m able to get my minimum word count before I start my workday. Then after I get home from work at noon I work on editing what I wrote that morning, or take care of promotion, unless I have other family commitments. On days I don’t work at the bakery I teach at a local university, so my writing happens after I’m done grading papers and answering student emails, and I’m still up pretty early.

Susana: What is your favorite food? Least favorite? Why?

Stephanie: My favorite food – Prime rib, medium rare, served with creamy horseradish sauce not au jus. I love that combination of flavors.  My least favorite food is probably stewed tomatoes, because I don’t like the texture.  Of course there are some foods (like brains and tongue) that I simply refuse to try!

Patricia: Chocolate! I love any kind – dark chocolate, milk chocolate or white chocolate, in almost any form. There’s not much I don’t like, but I remember on one trip to Japan my aunt served raw eel, and that didn’t go down my throat too well.

Susana: Say your publisher has offered to fly you anywhere in the world to do research on an upcoming book. Where would you most likely want to go?

Stephanie: Well, if our publisher, Stephanie Taylor, is listening, I’d love to visit The Texas Quilt Museum to get more ideas of vintage quilt patterns for our Stitching Post Quilt Shop Romance series.  But, seriously, I’ve always wanted to write a historical set in Czechoslovakia, where my ancestors lived. And I wouldn’t turn down an opportunity to go to Australia, Hawaii or somewhere warm since I have 6” of snow on my deck right now.

Patricia: My historical series is set in Japan, and although I’ve been there a few times to visit relatives, I haven’t been to the island of Hokkaido, where my stories are set. I’d love to go there. And I agree with Stephanie Michels, a trip to anywhere warm would be wonderful!

Susana: I would agree with that thought…anywhere warm is good, particularly this winter! Thanks again for coming today, ladies. I can’t wait to hear more about The Stitching Post Romances!


TheCalicoHeartsmThe Calico Heart is the first of The Stitching Post Romances, a series of stories about a group of women who belong to a quilt club in Grandville, Michigan. Here’s the book blurb:

On the surface, Sylvia Miller has a perfect life. She’s married to her college sweetheart, has three great kids, a rewarding career, and wonderful friends. But beneath the appearances, Sylvia is restless. She loves her husband, but wants to see more of the world than their peaceful Michigan town. For years, she’s dreamed of the interesting places she wants to visit. Now, their youngest child is grown, and Sylvia is ready for adventure.

Left a penniless orphan, David Miller promised himself his family would never know the same humiliation. For twenty-six years, he and Sylvia have lived frugally, saving for the future. Now, Dave is on the brink of a promotion that will ensure their financial security, but Sylvia wants him to retire and travel with her.


patriciasmAbout Patricia: During her first career, Patricia Kiyono taught elementary music, computer classes, elementary classrooms, and junior high social studies. She now teaches music education at the university level.

She lives in southwest Michigan with her husband, not far from her children and grandchildren. Current interests, aside from writing, include sewing, crocheting, scrapbooking, and music. A love of travel and an interest in faraway people inspires her to create stories about different cultures.

About Stephanie: Stephanie Michels considers herself a “Jill of All Trades” having worked as a computer trainer, advertising copywriter, cosmetologist, personnel agent, radio DJ, magazine columnist, and a financial planner among other things. She recently left the corporate world to focus full time on her writing.

stephaniesmShe was raised in Michigan but has also lived in Ohio, South Carolina, Missouri, and Germany. When her children were young, she returned to the Mitten State to raise them near family.


The Calico Heart is available at Astraea Press, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and other ebook outlets.

Patricia Kiyono can be found at her blog, on facebook, and twitter (@PatriciaKiyono)

Stephanie Michels can be found at her blog, on Facebook, and her website