Sparks the Matchmaker by Russell Elkins – Interview & Giveaway

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sparksSparks the Matchmaker by Russell Elkins

Ollie just wants one thing. The girl.

Things haven’t been going so well with Anne lately, though; their relationship has become a perpetual study date, and Ollie’s roommates are starting to worry about him. How to fix things? Why, with a marriage proposal, of course.

Unfortunately for Ollie, his relationship with Anne has run out of gas. Life feels like it’s counting down to one. And that one is the only person in Ollie’s life he really cares about: Ollie. Perhaps, then, he should get over himself. But first he has to deal with Sparks, the irritating little Yankees fan who invades his life in order to “help” him. And while Keith, his best friend, is doing all he can to help, Ollie’s other friend Richie never fails to show up and threaten to ruin everything just by being himself. Never mind all the drama Sparks brings to the party by forcing Ollie to take a job actually helping people in need.

Will Ollie meet the girl? Will it be in history class? On a road trip to Colorado? Can he get over Anne, or should he try to mend the relationship? Should he pursue the new girl Sparks is trying to set him up with? As the strings of the puppeteer tangle with the strings of the heart, only one person can sort out the mess Ollie has made. It seems that the harder he tries, the more Ollie messes things up. Is Sparks a cruel manipulator, or is he really going to help Ollie find his match?

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Praise for Sparks the Matchmaker:

I wasn’t sure what to expect from this book. How many “romance” novels do you read where the protagonist is male, or even where the author is male? At first, I thought that was going to be the unique focus of this story.

I was pleasantly surprised, though. The “Sparks” character was a completely unique take on things. Also, I tend to be one of those people who frequently predicts the endings of books and t.v. shows, etc., but I hadn’t seen the ending of this story coming. It was a quick and easy read (which was just what I needed right now) but with plenty of intelligence and creativity woven into the story. I think I can say with confidence that even my teenage son would enjoy it, as well as my Mom. Looking forward to the next installment in the series.

Definitely not what I expected from a romantic comedy novel, but in a good way! Can’t wait for the next one 🙂


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russell elkinsAuthor Russell Elkins

Russell Elkins has become a leading expert on open adoption through first-hand experience that he now shares in Open Adoption, Open Heart. Russell regularly contributes to He also writes his own blog at to educate others in the struggles and beauties of open adoption.

Russell has always been a family man at heart, looking forward to the day when he could be a husband and a father. It took him a little while, but eventually his eyes locked onto a beautiful blonde, and he has never looked away. Russell and Jammie were married in 2004. They had the same goals for their home and didn’t want to wait too long before starting their family. However, filling their home quickly with children wasn’t in the cards, and they found themselves weighing their options to overcome problems with infertility. Their lives changed dramatically the day they decided to adopt.

Russell and Jammie have adopted two beautiful children, Ira and Hazel, and have embraced their role as parents through open adoption. Both are actively engaged in the adoption community by communicating through social media, taking part in discussion panels, and writing songs about adoption.

Russell was born on Andrews Air Force Base near Washington, D.C., in the fall of 1977. Along with his five siblings, he and his military family moved around a lot, living in eight different houses by the time he left for college at age 17. Although his family moved away from Fallon, Nevada, just a few months after he moved out, he still considers that little oasis in the desert to be his childhood hometown.

Even after leaving home, Russell always stayed close to his family. He shared an apartment with each of his three brothers at different times during his college career. They formed a band together back in the 1990s and still perform on a regular basis under the name of the Invisible Swordsmen.

After nearly a decade of college and changing his major a few times, Russell received his bachelor’s degree in sociology from Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. He later graduated from Ameritech College where he learned the trade of being a dental lab technician. Russell now owns and operates Elkins Dental Lab located in Meridian, Idaho.

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Please tell us in one sentence only, why we should read your book.
Because, after you close the cover you’re going to say what everyone else says: “I didn’t expect that from a romantic comedy.”
Any other books in the works? Goals for future projects?
Always. I just released Open Arms, which is the second book in the Open Adoption, Open Heart series (our true story with adoption). I also wrote an entire first draft in one month for a novel with the running title of “Through the Fence.” I’m working with Chris White on that one, an awesome writer who penned the successful Airel saga along with Aaron Patterson. My goal is to publish at least two full length books per year.
Tell us your most rewarding experience since being published.
My brother is a dentist and one day he had someone sit in his chair and ask him if he knew a Russell Elkins. When he told him we were brothers, the man proceeded to tell him that his daughter, who lived in Canada, recommended a book to him- my book. When she told him the author’s name, he said he’d have to ask Dr. Elkins if he knew me somehow. I just found that really flattering and funny- literature can make this a small world.
What was your favorite book when you were a child/teen?
I loved the Encyclopedia Brown books when I was in grade school. I probably read every one of those and wrote to the author numerous times (always got a form letter back with a cool Encyclopedia Brown sticker)
When you were little, what did you want to be when you “grew up”?
I know everyone is going to think I was a weird kid, but when I was little I wanted to be a psychologist. I know- what kind of kid wants to do that? My family used to watch this TV show a lot where the main character was a psych doctor and I thought it looked like fun because his patients were so entertaining. I ditched that idea when I got older, then actually came back to it once I got into college. I got my bachelor’s in Sociology, planning to do that professionally- to be a counselor for people with special needs, but changed my mind and went on to get a different degree afterward.
Can you see yourself in any of your characters?
Absolutely. The main character, Ollie- torturing that poor character and making fun of his is my way of making fun of myself. There’s a LOT of me in that poor guy.
What do you do in your free time?
Write! Ha. Writing is what I do on the side. I own a small business and I use writing time as an incentive to work productively. If I work hard and get everything done that I need to, I reward myself with writing time. That’s how much I enjoy it. On top of that, I also play guitar and sing in a band- playing in restaurants and stuff. I’m also captain of a softball team.
How did you celebrate the sale of your first book?
My wife planned a big surprise party. She had t-shirts made up for my two kids that said “My Daddy is an author” and they showed up to my softball game with them. After the game everyone came to my house. The problem was that the surprise party was pre-planned, meant to be on the day of the book release, but there was a problem with the printing company and the release got delayed a week. It ended up being a pre-release party, but just as fun nonetheless.
Favorite sport?
I have three brothers and when we were kids we made up a game in the racquetball court that we call beanball. The goal is to hit people with the ball, by hitting it off the wall, so it’s kind of like dodgeball meets racquetball. We perfected the rules over the years. Other than that, I’m best at baseball/softball, and disc golf.
Favorite quote from a movie?
“If you had been thinking, you wouldn’t have thought that.” -The Sandlot
Who or what inspired this book?
There are two people in this book with special needs- Marie and Greg. They’re 99.9% real. I had to bend the truth just slightly to fit the plot of the storyline, but their personalities and everything they put the main characters through are completely real. I worked with them in college, so those parts of the book were more like writing a journal entry than anything else. I had so much fun writing those parts.
If you were President for a day,what is the first thing you would do?
Fire everyone in congress- even though the president doesn’t really have that authority.
Do you like the spotlight or lurking in the shadows?
I love to show off on stage. I’m a singer/songwriter on the weekends for fun. That said, when I’m at a party, I’m the nerd sitting quietly in the corner talking to just one person at a time.
How do you go about revising/editing?
I recently wrote the first draft of my next novel in just four weeks time. I then listened to the whole thing on my Kindle (it reads it to me with the Text to Speech option). Now I’m putting it aside for two months and I think about it the whole time, coming up with new ideas of what to change and make better. I have an awesome editor who always has great insights. So, in another month or so, after I go through and make a bunch of rewrites, he will read it and tell me all the stuff that stinks about it. I actually enjoy revising because I feel like the book gets stronger and stronger the more I do it. The hard part is to finally say “good enough” with my manuscript. Is a manuscript ever really good enough?
Do you write as you go or do you have the book all planned out from page 1?
I have the book about 70% planned out. I like to write a small version of the entire plot first- the whole story told in about four single spaced typed pages. That helps me see what works and what doesn’t with just the basic plot.
If you could leave this world for your “book world,” would you?
No way. Too much drama. Heh heh.
Craziest thing you ever ate?
I spent some time in Guatemala where I was fed things like cow tail, cow utter, boiled pig skin, and other odd animal parts I wouldn’t have thought people would choose to eat.
Most embarrassing moment?
I pitched for my high school baseball team. One weekend we were at a hotel during an out of town tournament. I was walking through the halls with the whole team when I accidentally walked into the wrong hotel room. There was an enormous lady in lingerie standing in the room. I tried to make a quick escape, but her husband/boyfriend tried to walk in as I was trying to escape and we came face-to-face. The whole team witnessed it and never let it go.
What is your favorite part of the writing/publishing process?
The first draft. My first drafts are always terrible, but it’s the rawest form of creating.

Top 5 Bookish Pet Peeves
1. No dialogue. I want people talking!
2. When people get knocked out and are either gone for good or they’re knocked out for a really long time. In reality, people only stay knocked out for a few minutes at most.
3.Plots that don’t peak or resolve.
4. Books that are super long, when all the fluff should be cut out and be half as long.
5. When an author includes something strictly for shock value. To me, that just means their plot was too thin, so their book wouldn’t have any impact otherwise.

Top 10 Pieces of advice you would tell the “teen”you
1. When on the pitching mound, don’t be so afraid of hitting the batter. Pitch inside more.
2. Don’t worry about the hair in the drain. Some chicks dig bald men.
3. Don’t wait till you’re 22 before you take voice lessons. It’ll be one of the best things you ever did.
4. Don’t worry so much about your college major. You’ll change your mind a bunch of times anyway.
5. Spend more time and effort on your relationship with God.
6. Be nicer to your little brother. Don’t wait until you’re an adult to realize how awesome he is.
7. Don’t wait till college to form your first band.
8. Take a video camera to one of your jam sessions with your guitar buddies Justin and Sam (Sam died at 19 and Justin at 23).
9. Don’t be so afraid to write songs that show how you really feel. Show real emotion in your music.
10. Don’t try too hard to follow in your older siblings’ footsteps. Take your automotive and wood shop classes, and leave chemistry and calculus to them.



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Ends 1/12/14


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  1. This story sounds really interesting and I actually think I’ve never read a romance novel written by a male author or where the main character was male. The cover also looks really cool!

  2. Great interview and looks like a great book! Thanks!!