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Friday, December 21, 2012

Friday Friends: Susan Macatee

I'm very excited to have my friend and fellow American historical author here today, Susan Macatee.  I've been a fan of Susan's work for many years, now it's your turn to get to know this super talented and lovely lady.

Hi Susan!  Welcome!  Tell us a bit about yourself and why you write the genre you do.
I've always loved books and dreamed of being an author someday. But I came to my chosen genre in a roundabout way. As a teen and young adult, I devoured science fiction. So, that's what I first tried writing. It wasn't until years later, as a young mother, that I discovered romance. Times travels, followed by historicals, were my favorite escapes. Then my husband pulled me into Civil War reenacting. I love the romance of the period, as well as the grit, and just had to place my romances in this time period. As a result, my first romance novel was a Civil War time travel.

How long have you been writing?
I could honestly say since childhood. I remember writing picture books to distribute to friends. I had kind of a start in my early college years, when I tried submitting short stories to magazines and wrote for a 'Star Trek' fanzine. But it was after my youngest son started school that I joined Romance Writers of America and began to write both short stories and book length romance and submit my work to publishers. So, we're talking about 23 years.

Describe your typical writing day
My writing day doesn't start until afternoon, although I do a couple of email checks, plus a little book promo in the mornings. Once I settle down to write, I either have a word quota, if I'm writing a first draft, or a page or hourly quota, in the case of revisions, edits or plotting. I start with whatever project I'm currently working on, but if I have extra time before I have to start dinner, I might make notes on my next project before I stop for the day.

What was your “Aha!” moment—when you knew you had to write?
I took a creative writing class my junior year in high school. For my fiction assignment, I wrote a 12 page horror story and got an A++. My teacher would have read it to the class, if not for the length. From that point on, I knew writing in some form was something I was meant to do.

If you weren’t a writer, what would you be?
In college, I took a few elective psychology courses and did really well in them. I think I would've majored in psych if I wasn't fixated on writing.

What is your best cure for writer’s block?
The absolute best cure is to read a good book by another writer. Always gets me in the mood to get back to work on my own project.

Tell us a little bit about your new release, Thoroughly Modern Amanda

Thoroughly Modern Amanda is a sequel to my 2009 Civil War time travel romance, Erin's Rebel. This new story is set in 1880 and the heroine, Amanda Montgomery, was a child in Erin's Rebel, the daughter of the widowed hero. The hero, Jack Lawton, is a modern day construction worker who wants to refurbish an old Victorian home, but the owner dies and her heir wants to sell the land and have the house demolished.

Believing anything is possible, magazine reporter Amanda Montgomery dreams about being a modern woman in a nineteenth century world, much like her exceptional step-mother.  But society expects well-off young ladies to focus on finding a suitable husband and raising a family.  And then Jack appears—with no past and unconventional ideas. Does he hold the key to another century as well as her heart, or is she destined to stay in her own time?

Construction worker Jack Lawton wants to preserve an old home that's scheduled for demolition.  But when he sneaks inside for a final look, a loose beam falls on his head, and upon waking, he finds himself in the arms of a beautiful woman.  His only problem—he's no longer in the twenty-first century.  Can he find his way back home? Does he really want to?

Jack blinked, focusing his gaze. Blinding pain in the back of his head nearly caused him to pass out again. The last thing he recalled was a beam blindsiding him.

“Sir?” a female voice cooed. “What’s happened? Did the beam hit you?”

He tried to focus on a face hovering above him. “Yeah, the beam hit me. It must have knocked me out.” He lifted his arm, intending to probe his aching head.

“Don’t move,” the woman said. “I have a rag covering the gash. You need a doctor, I think.”

He gazed at the woman. With her red-gold hair piled on her head and her old-fashioned looking gown, she didn’t seem real. Like something out of a crazy dream. If her face wasn’t so smooth and youthful, he’d believe he was back at Mrs. Grayson’s house, but the old woman was dead and she’d never dressed like this.

“Where am I?” he groaned. A flash of pain shot through his skull.
The woman’s blue eyes widened. “You don’t know where you are? The beam must have taken your memory.” She glanced around. “This house is under construction. You’re obviously one of the workmen hired to build it.”

“Under construction?” A new wave of pain pierced his skull. “No. This house is going to be torn down.”

“Shh.” She placed a finger over his lips. “You must have had a memory lapse.”

Her soft touch and scent enveloped him. Something seemed familiar about her, but he wasn’t sure what. He tried to rise, but she pushed him back.

“Don’t try to get up. I’ll go for help.”

“No.” He rubbed his head. “I think I can sit up with your assistance. Pushing onto his elbows, he gazed around the room. His heart dropped as he realized this wasn’t the dilapidated house he’d been exploring. The scent of fresh cut wood and unfinished walls chilled him.

“You say this house is under construction?” He made an effort to sit up straight.

She moved to brace his back. “You mustn’t move so quickly. You could aggravate your injury.”

“This doesn’t make any sense.” He reached for the towel she’d placed against the back of his head. The rag slid down his back.

She retrieved it, then gently probed his head.

He winced at the pain.

Her gaze met his. “It doesn’t look so bad now. The bleeding’s stopped, but you will need someone to look after you. I’ll contact your family.”

“There’s no need. I can drive. Just help me to my car. It’s parked outside.”

“Car?” She bit her lip, drawing his attention to her full, ripe mouth. “You mean carriage? I saw no carriage outside.”

“No, I mean a car. It’s a dark green four door.”

“I saw no carriage as you describe.” She wrung her hands glancing toward the open doorway. “I’ll go find help.”

His hand shot out to stop her. He didn’t want her to go, even to get help. If he was able to stand…

“Help me up,” he said.

She frowned, but grasped his hand. Pushing up on his legs with her assistance at his side, he stood. But his equilibrium seemed off. She braced her weight against his.

“Are you sure you don’t want to stay here? I’ll find a neighbor to help you to go…” She hesitated. “Where do you want to go?”

“Home, but I need my car to get there.” His hand dropped to his pocket to search for his wallet, but a strap and two buttons on his waistband diverted his attention. He wore a pair of suspenders, a loose fitting shirt with four buttons reaching from his mid-chest area to his collar, and baggy wool pants. These weren’t the clothes he’d been wearing when he’d explored the house.

What the hell?

His alarmed gaze drifted down to the woman who still supported his weight. The clothes he wore matched the period of her gown. And the condition of the house, compared to the dilapidated building he'd been in, set his brain awhirl.

“Where in hell am I?” he gasped.

The woman’s eyes widened as she gazed open mouthed at him.

Anything else in the works you can share with us?
Yes, I’m currently working on a novella based on a minor character from my 2009 Civil War romance, Confederate Rose. In ‘The Physician’s Irish Lady’ the hero is a small town doctor, who served as a Union army surgeon during the Civil War. The heroine is an Irish immigrant on the run from a man she met in New York City, who tried to sell her to a brothel.

Leave a comment on this post for the chance to win a PDF copy of Thoroughly Modern Amanda and a $10.00 gift card for The Wild Rose Press.

Buy link:

Susan, thanks so much for visiting with us today!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Baking Cookies with Isabel

Please stop by my friend Isabel Roman's blog today for a guest interview featuring me...and a super easy cookie recipe I just know you're going to love!

Hope this final week before Christmas is shaping up to be a good one for you.

Friday, December 14, 2012

The Reviews Are In!!!

Wow, 4 1/2 stars from Manic Readers!! I'm so happy, and so relieved since this is my first foray into anything even slightly paranormal!!

Alberta, thank you so much--hug, hug, hug. I'm so glad you enjoyed the story. 

The review is below.

Reviewer: Alberta
TV reality decorating show host Jamie has plans to demolish an antebellum house that has been deemed unsafe and unprofitable to renovate. Just to make sure, Jamie makes a trip to see the house in person and is amazed to find the ghosts of civil war combatants inhabiting it. At least he thinks they are ghosts, but what if he is the ghost instead?
I love time travel stories and This Moment in Time is very good. Jamie meets Josette, a southern sympathizer who is being held prisoner by a sadistic northern officer, who is sure she is passing on his troop movements to the south, but can’t figure out how.
When Jamie begins to visit her in her time, bringing trinkets and foot, she ends up visiting him in the future. But they can’t be together, they each belong in their own times, and the outcome of the war is more important than the burgeoning love they feel for each other.
When Josette’s life is threatened, can Jamie save her from death plus a fate worse than death? How will they explain each other to their own contemporaries?
I liked this cute little story, well-written, with enough suspense, conflict and differing motivations to satisfy the pickiest reader.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Wednesday on Writing - In the words of Charles Dickens

The Saturday after Thanksgiving my boys, the hubby and I took my mom to see a live theater production of A Christmas Carol at Geva Theater here in my hometown.  It's my mom's favorite Christmas movie, and while I admit to leaning a little more toward It's A Wonderful Life (has any actress every been more beautiful than Donna Reed is in that movie??? She's breathtaking!)  I have learned to love the Dickens classic as well. (My favorite version: the one with George C. Scott.  My favorite Scrooge? Michael Caine.  He plays the role of Scrooge in the Muppet Christmas Carol and he's nothing short of amazing! A must see just for the songs and Mr. Caine even if you're not fond of the idea of Kermit and Piggy as Bob and Mrs. Cratchet LOL)  My husband and boys both love A Christmas Carol so I guess it's through them that I have come to have a fondness for it myself.

We had wonderful seats (orchestra right, row A) and the play was sensational.  As we left the theater that night, a light snowfall had begun and it felt like the perfect beginning to the holiday season. 

But I digress.  I wanted to get back to posting thoughts on the craft of writing on Wednesdays and lo and behold, I found this quote from Mr. Dickens that sums it all up rather nicely:

An idea, like a ghost, must be spoken to a little before it will explain itself.- Charles Dickens

Monday, December 3, 2012

Monday Morning Musing: I Gotta Write That - Take II

If you read my post from a few weeks back called "Marry My Daughter" you know I like to talk about stories that just beg someone to write them.

Add this one to the list!  Did you hear about this?  The story actually broke a couple of weeks back but I'm still thinking about it and still what if'ing!

Actress Janeane Garofalo was married for twenty years and didn't know it.  Apparently she and a friend had what they thought was a pretend marriage in Vegas one night while they were both intoxicated.  Neither of them knew--for twenty years!!!--that it was legit until the friend went to wed recently and found out he was already married.  Can you imagine???

Well ...don't mind if I do!  There are sooo many ways I could write this story, LOL.  I love "best friends falling in love" stories, so that's the obvious angle to write it from.  But there are so many possibilities! I haven't quite figured out how I'd make that one a historical story but  my muse keeps tempting me to figure it out.  Oh the possibilities! Or as I like to say, so many stories, so little time to write them LOL.

How would you write it?

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The Next Big Thing: This Moment in Time

This is just the thing to nudge me out of my blogging malaise, I’ve been tagged by my fellow Scandalous Victorian  Susan Macatee to participate in the Next Big Thing blog hop.  Thanks Susan!

In turn, I’ve tagged two author friends (I could only find two that haven’t already done it LOL) who will blog next Wednesday, December 5. 

Here are the blog hop questions:

What is the working title of your book?

This Moment in Time

Where did the idea come from for the book?

Years of reading about and researching the Civil War –and a teeny little fascination with spies.

What genre does your book fall under?

American historical romance

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

I always have an image in my mind of my characters, but it’s rarely based on the looks of one specific person.  So I’d say if a movie was being made I’d want to cast an unknown.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Should he change history to save the woman he loves, or be with her for This Moment in Time.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency? It is published by The Wild Rose Press and came out at the end of last month.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
Well the germination of the idea sat around in the back of my mind for a long time.  Then one night driving past an old abandoned Greek Revival style house the main idea for the story came to me.  I played the “what if” game at a critique session with my CPs and most of the story came alive right there and then.  It didn’t’ take long to write, but I did struggle for a while with where and how to end it, I’m used to writing longer stories and it just didn’t come naturally to me to write short.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

There are several Civil War era books in the TWRP catalog and some are Time Travel sotires as well. 
Erin’s Rebel by Susan Macatee
Victory’s Gate and Season of Love by Leanne Tyler
Thorns of Eden by Diana Ballew
Who or What inspired you to write this book?

The Civil War has been a fascination of mine as far back as I can remember.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

We are in the midst of celebrating the 150th anniversary of the Civil War years. Interest in the era has been rekindled in a lot of readers who may have forgotten what a fascinating and heart wrenching time in history this era was.
This is a favorite, where the reader first meets my feisty lady spy heroine:

Spring, 1862
Shenandoah Valley, Virginia
“I want to know how Stonewall Jackson knew where my men were going to be.”
Josette Beaumont resisted the urge to flinch. She’d not show a hint of weakness, even as General Stillwater’s foul breath bathed her face.
He grabbed her chin between his thumb and finger, squeezing. “You’ve been locked in this house for a month, yet somehow you still managed to get information to the rebs. I want to know how.”
She jerked away from his touch, but he didn’t release her. “Has it not occurred to you, General, that perhaps the Union army isn’t as clever as you think? You were the ones who intended to win this war in a matter of days, as I recall. Yet the North hasn’t won a single battle.”
He shoved her against the wall with a thud that rattled her teeth. “Time spent in a Federal prison would do you good.”
She held her tongue. Until he could prove she was a spy, he couldn’t truly send her to prison. At least she hoped not. Right now he had no proof of anything.
“Fortunately for you, my dear, I’m a man who appreciates beauty.”
A cold knot of fear coiled in her midsection. She stepped away from the wall, all too aware of the bed in the center of the room and the lusty gleam in his eyes.
He closed the distance between them in one long stride. “We could work out an arrangement that benefits us both.”
“I’d die before becoming mistress to the likes of you.”
“The time may come when you change your mind. Until then, if I were you, I’d be very cautious about what you choose to share with your sources. You never know when the information you have access to is false. You could unintentionally send those filthy rebels you care so much about directly into harm’s path.”
A lump rose in her throat. “If I were a spy, as you claim, then that might concern me. But since I am nothing but a poor widow—”
“A poor widow?”
“You know perfectly well my husband’s passing left me with nothing. What little I had was taken by you and your men.”
“There is one thing I haven’t taken from you, Mrs. Beaumont.” His cold gaze raked her from head to toe, leaving her as chilled as if he’d stripped her naked. “I prefer to wait until you offer it freely—”
“Then you’ve a long wait ahead.”
“My patience is wearing thin,” he said, storming toward the door. “One of these nights I may decide I’ve been patient enough.”
The door slammed. She waited a half breath until she heard the key turn in the lock and the General’s boots retreating down the hallway.
She quickly pulled the pins from her hair, allowing the waist length strands to fall free, combing her fingers through the tangles until the silk-wrapped sachet fell to the floor. She scooped it up and hurriedly pulled the contents from inside to review the notes she would slip to her contact later tonight.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Release Day is Here!!

It's been a long time coming but This Moment In Time is finally here!!  I'm so excited, I can't wait to share a little excerpt with here's the opening scene!  Leave a comment for a chance to win a pdf of This Moment in Time!

“TV producer and star of The House Flipper, Jamie D’Alessandro was indicted this week in Los Angeles on charges of fraud and grand larceny.
“An appraiser there claims D’Alessandro owes her more than forty-thousand dollars for work she did on some of the homes he flipped. If convicted, D’Alessandro could face up to two years in jail. This comes just weeks after controversy began swirling around D’Alessandro’s plans to demolish an historic home in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. The two-hundred year old house, used as a headquarters by Union General Stillwell during the Civil War, was the home of famous confederate spy Josette Beaumont, once known as the Virginia Rose.
“D’Alessandro, son of the late real estate mogul James D’Alessandro, maintains the home is too badly damaged from decades of neglect to safely renovate. He plans to replace it with an upscale hotel.
In other news…”
“This doesn’t look good.”
Jamie muted the television and quirked a brow at his chief financial officer. “I’ve been in worse messes.”
“Ashley—sorry, the plaintiff. She’s making your life hell.” Len Goldman kicked off her low-heeled shoes and settled into a leather wing back chair. “Why don’t you just pay her off?”
“Because it’s bullshit. We were engaged at the time. She wasn’t interested in collecting payment as long as there was a half million-dollar rock on her hand. Now that I’ve called things off she wants compensation.”
“Jame, you could go to jail.”
He pulled a face. Rising from the leather sofa in his office, he strolled across the room to gaze out at the night sky. Even at eighty stories up, there were no stars to be seen, just the New York skyline and the artificial lights of the other Manhattan high rises.
“That doesn’t concern you?”
“Nope.” He swirled the contents of his glass, then tossed it back with one gulp. “What good is my father’s money and his team of New York attorneys if they can’t keep me out of jail for something I didn’t do? Hell, they kept me out enough when I was younger for things I did.”
A shadow of a smile crossed Len’s face. “I suppose they did. Now what about this place in Virginia? The other board members and I are concerned about the image of D’Alessandro Development.”
He turned and faced his mentor, the woman who had held the company together after his parents’ unexpected deaths and been a surrogate parent to him over the years. “Lenora. You’re not serious.”
“It doesn’t look good, Jamie. When you acquired the property, you assured the Daughters of the Confederacy and the local historical society you wouldn’t tear it down.”
“It was a mistake. I should have listened to the appraiser, but I thought it would be great for the show. It would take millions to restore that thing.” He strode across the room to refill his glass. “And I never said I wouldn’t demolish the house. I said I didn’t intend to demolish it. Intentions change.” He lifted the brandy decanter toward her in silent question.
Len shook her head, indicating her half-full glass. “You know damn well people don’t see it that way. They just see some hot-shot kid from New York with more arrogance than brains—”
“I’m thirty-three, hardly a kid.”
“Have you even seen the house?”
Jamie settled back onto the leather sofa, resting an ankle on one knee. “I’ve seen pictures.”
“It’s just…I know you hate to hear this hon, but your father—”
“I’m not—”
“I know. You’re not your father and no one expects you to be. But Jimmy was a self-made man. He didn’t earn his millions overnight like you did; he had to work for it. And he believed to his dying day that a personal touch made all the difference. He was never too big, too busy or too important to do things for himself.”
Jamie absorbed her words and the sting of her underlying message. Unspoken words like spoiled brat and too big for your britches hung in the air between them. Few people were bold enough to talk to him that way. He studied the contents of his glass, swirling the amber liquid, listening to the ice clink against the sides. “I have nothing to gain by going to Virginia.”
“First hand knowledge. You know this business as well as any appraiser. Hell you’re probably the only heir in New York who has actually done manual labor. I know what you can do with an old house, Jame. If you haven’t seen it for yourself, how do you know it’s not worth renovating?”
“Because I don’t care. I don’t know what it is, Len, but lately…nothing interests me. I know you think I’m a spoiled brat, but I feel like there’s nothing left. Like it’s all done. My father spent his life building his fortune—building all of this,” he gestured to the ceiling. “When he died, I became a billionaire. At twenty-three.”
“No one could blame you for feeling that way. You never had the chance to find out what you wanted to be when you grew up. It was thrust on you as Jimmy and Regina’s only child. You’ve spent the last ten years learning the business from the ground up, you’ve proven to the world that you are your father’s son, you are a chip off the old block. Maybe it’s time to take a breather.”
“I don’t need another vacation; there’s no place I haven’t already been.”
“Then don’t take one. When the pressures of it all got to your father, he used to say the best medicine was to get your hands dirty.”
He reached to set the glass on a side table. “Are you suggesting I take up gardening?”
She chuckled. “No. Do what you’re really good at. Go fix up a house somewhere. Disconnect completely. Forget about New York, forget about real estate. Forget about Ashley and the lawsuit.”
Jamie considered her words for a few moments. Disconnect? No cell phone, no computers. Nothing? As unreasonable as the idea sounded, it held a certain appeal. He released a sigh of defeat “Fine. Call off the bulldozers. I’ll go to Virginia.”

Monday, October 1, 2012

Monday Morning Musing.... Marry My Daughter!

Is this straight out of a romance novelists' dreams, or what?  A wealthy Hong Kong businessman is offering a staggering amount of money ($64 million) to any man who can win over his daughter. (see video link below)

Now there are reports that the daughter is a lesbian and already married to a longtime female partner, so in order to write the story and get that HEA ending that romance novelists crave and our readers expect, we might need to change a few minor details--at least those of us who write traditional boy-meets-girl etc. romance.

But naturally the story put me in mind of the plot of my 2010 release Wild Texas Wind...but it also got me thinking.  Oh the fun I could have with that one!  It's definitely going into my "idea" file.

How about you? Does that sound like the sort of story you'd like to read--or write? Would it be a contemporary-set tale, with a wealthy father looking out for his powerful business executive daughter who just doesn't have time for romance? Or an historical tale with a difficult, hard to manage heiress who may or may not make Cinderella's ugly stepsisters look like prom queens?

Or would you rather twist the whole thing on its head and make it a wealthy socialite Mama trying to find a woman for her wealthy playboy son?

That's what I love about plots like this, the possibilities are endless!

What story would you write?

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Fall-ing In Love Again

The weather is cool and crisp, the trees brilliant with color...I love this time of year.  For some reason it feels even better this year, probably because summer began sometime in mid-March and never really let go.  When you live where I do you're accustomed to rainy days and when they don't really start to pine for them.

This year I'm really looking forward to October.  The kids are settled into the school year--both boys transitioned to new schools this year.  It's hard to believe I have a junior high schooler and a middle schooler!  And now after all the new student orientations and parent nights, we're settled into a routine.

Best of all, my Civil War era time travel, This Moment in Time, comes out at the end of October--on Halloween to be exact.  I'm really excited.

I'm also hard at work on two other Civil War era stories with a holiday story bubbling away in the back of my brain and, yes, fans of Wild Texas Wind, Kip Cooper's story --Texas Wild Card--is coming, too.

We're heading into my favorite time of year (Thanksgiving) and I'm looking forward to spending it with my friends and family...including the ones who exist only in my mind!

I hope you'll stop back soon for more information on This Moment in Time, giveaways, and contests.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Blog Overhaul

The sun has been rising earlier and staying around longer and the birds in the many trees around my house have been singing their little hearts out each morning.  So I've been thinking-- spring!! Even though the calendar says we still have a full month to go until it's official, I have a raging case of spring fever!

Spurred on by the songs of friends such as Mr. and Mrs. Cardinal and my favorite little black capped chickadees, I've been cleaning out closets and sorting through drawers. I also decided it was time to overhaul my long neglected blog.  I'm thrilled with the new version of Blogger that allowed me to add pages.  Some of them are still under construction but I hope you'll poke around and stay for a nice long visit.

As for that writing thing..... I'm getting there.  I'm back in the saddle and working at it every day.  Bear with me!

The Struggle is Real Week 8: When Life Hits Back

  It’s been nearly two weeks since my last post. Did anyone notice I was missing?   But I have good news/bad news.   The good news. I wr...