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Interview with Susan Davis, content editor for “Huntin'”

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N&R: Hi Susan! Thank you for doing such a great job helping me to get this story up and running! I wanted to ask you a couple of questions concerning editing.

How did you get started in the editing world?

SD:My start was editing for members in a couple of my critique groups. I loved it…and there was one who believed in pointing out the strengths as well as the weak areas in the story. It was exactly what encouraged and motivated me to write.

It turns out to be what I love to do for the authors I work with at Muse It Up Publishing.
N&R: Was this a long time interest?

SD: English and composition has been a long time interest of mine, since high school years. It was my favorite subject and I wrote a number of books/stories during those very early years.

N&R:  Do you also write? If so what have you written?

SD: I’ve written a couple young adult novels (haven’t published any), and under a pseudonym I have a number of erotic romance novels, novellas, and short stories published through Muse It HOT an imprint of Muse It Up Publishing.

N&R:  What is the difference between content editing and line editing?

SD: Commas *LOL* Just kidding – content editing focuses on point of view discrepancies, subject matter making sense to the plot and the characters, validating facts and locations if necessary – actions and dialogue/style/voice staying in agreement/alignment with characters.

Line editing is a very important second set of eyes, checking for grammatical errors, spelling, and punctuation. In other words, they’ll polish it all to a gorgeous shiny finish: )

N&R:  What kind of advice would you give a newbie editor?

SD: Make sure to point out an author’s story strengths as well as the weak areas. It is hard work writing a story and in essence can be like baring a soul…sometimes it doesn’t take much to crush a writer’s spirit. Be an editor easy to work with by explaining your suggested changes, and also be the editor that you’d like to have editing your work: )

Thank you Susan. Wise words indeed. Once again I appreciate all the work you did on my story. I’m looking forward to working again with you in the future.

Lynne

Interview with Author Renee Duke

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N&R: My guest today is author Renee Duke. Here’s a short biography of Renee.

          Renee Duke grew up in Ontario, and British Columbia, Canada, and Berkshire, England. Due to a treacherous re-drawing of county lines while she was out of the country, her little market town is now in Oxfordshire, but she’s still a Berkshire girl at heart.

As a child, her favourite authors were Enid Blyton, Anthony Buckeridge, and Thornton W. Burgess. When she became a teenager, it was Jean Plaidy, Norah Lofts, Robert A. Heinlein, and Edgar Rice Burroughs who fed her voracious reading habit.

Time for reading lessened after she went into teaching, as did time for writing, which she has been doing since she was seven (the age at which she realized stories were actually made up by someone). Her work has appeared in such publications as Reader’s Digest, Zamoof!, Stitches, and Our World 50+ (Canada); Spider, Story Friends, and Pockets (U.S.A.), and My Weekly, and The People’s Friend (U.K.).

Mother of one son and servant to two cats, she resides in Kelowna, B.C. with her widowed mother. She still does an occasional inter-active history unit with 6 to 12-year olds at an after-school care centre, but is otherwise ‘retired’ and able to concentrate on writing.

N&R: Hi Renee. Welcome to Natter and Review. It’s very nice to meet you.

RD: Thank you.  And thank you for allowing me to join you today.

Note to My Readers: We have a contest to win a copy of Ms. Duke’s book. The information is at the end of the posting. Good luck!

N&R: Can you tell us a little more about your early years? I see you have grown up in two different countries. How did that come about? And where exactly did you live in Ontario. That’s where I grew up and lived till I was forty-four.

RD: I grew up in both Canada and England because my family lived in both. During WW II, my mother and oldest brother lived in Scotland for a time, as well, to escape the bombing. My father was born in Scotland, and from childhood up, cherished a dream of playing the bagpipes. My Sassenach (English)-born mother was unaware of this when they met and married, and never did learn to like them. By WW II, my father’s family had dispersed to Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, and he served with the Canadian forces. He took his own branch back there afterwards, then back to England (twice – once on an extended visit, the other to live), and then back to Canada again, where we finally took up permanent residence in Kelowna, B.C. In Ontario, we lived Keewatin, which is close to the Manitoba border. I have dual citizenship, and an accent that I am told is neither British nor Canadian.

N&R: I see you had some favourite children’s authors including Thornton W. Burgess. I think I read everything he wrote. What were some of your most loved? Did any of those stories inspire you to create other works?

RD: My favourite Burgess books were The Adventures of Chatterer The Red Squirrel and The Adventures of Bob White. When I was little, I really liked Enid Blyton’s Noddy books, and when I was older, her Galliano’s Circus trilogy her Naughtiest Girl trilogy and the five books in her Secret series.  I don’t know that any of them inspired my own writing, but my very favourite childhood book was The Secret Garden, so that might have started me thinking that the past was ‘cool’.  And I do vaguely recall making up stories that featured characters from some books I read.  I won’t say which ones, in case their heirs decide to sue. (Let’s just call it ‘fan fiction’ – small children don’t understand plagiarism.)

N&R: I think most of us did that when we were young. Tell us a little about your teaching career. What ages did you teach and what subjects were your specialties?

RD: I was (and am still licensed to be) an Early Childhood Educator. From 1974 to 2000, I taught 2½ to 5-year-olds their ABCs and 123s, and threw in as much drama and history as I could.  In 1977, I went to Belize, Central America, with World Peace and Development, and spent the summer working with 3-8-year-olds. I was also a playground supervisor for Grades K-7 from 1996 to 2012.  From 2008 to the present I have been doing interactive history programmes with 6-13-year-olds in an Out-Of-School Care facility.

N&R: Wow, that’s amazing. So you sure haven’t lost your touch. You say in your bio that you started writing at the age of seven. I can relate to that. What kinds of things poured out of your heart at that age? Do you still have any of your early work?

RD: The first thing I remember writing came from having to choose a topic off the blackboard at school and write a story about it. I did one about the life of a banana peel. As I recall, it ran several pages. I do not, however, recall what it was about, other than there was a banana boat and a banana spider involved. The earliest work I still have (somewhere) is a short, syrupy poem about Spring that I penned when I was eight. How anything that awful ever got chosen for the school magazine, I will never know. I’m sure the Ralphie Rabbit readers another school printed out for use in the Infants Class a couple of years later were almost as bad, but I have no proof of that as we didn’t take any copies with us when we next moved. I was allowed to print those myself, with the help of three friends. We were supposedly under the supervision of our teacher, but he was rash enough to leave the room for a few minutes and came back to four ink-covered children (two girls, two boys). After scrubbing us reasonably clean, he probably went home thankful that we would soon be moving on to ‘big school’, which, in England, you did at age eleven. I also wrote plays and made a lot of comic books based on favourite TV shows, such as Thunderbirds).

N&R: Sounds like you were well on your way to a higher career. You certainly have a lot of stories out in the magazine publishing world. How did that come about for you? And was it all fiction or some non-fiction in the mix?

RD: I started sending stories and articles out to magazines when I was still in my teens. They came back with monotonous regularity, but eventually, some of them were accepted. My magazine pieces for children have been mostly fiction. Only two were non-fiction, an article on Jerusalem’s Biblical Zoo for Wonder Time and some turtle horoscopes for Zamoof! My adult pieces were all non-fiction, articles and humour pieces.

N&R: Are there any stories that our readers can get copies of?

RD: Some of the magazines are no longer being published, but they might be able to find back issues of Pockets (September 2003, April 2009), Spider (February 2006), Okanagan Life (June 2001, April 2005) or My Weekly (July 24, 2004). The People’s Friend is still being published, but its ‘Children Corner’ carried some of my earliest stories, and you’d have to go back quite a ways for copies of those (December 20, 1980, August 8, 1981, & April 3, 1982).

N&R: Did you lose the rights to those works that you published in magazines?

RD: No. I only sold First Time Rights. All other rights reverted to me, so I suppose I could think about posting them on my website—minus the artwork—which was created by other people.  Despite my childhood passion for doing comic books, I really don’t draw very well, but have been lucky in being matched with good illustrators. I especially like the great cover Marion Sipe did for The Disappearing Rose.

N&R: Glad you didn’t lose the rights. Some authors do and it is very frustrating for them. And that brings us to your recently published book, The Disappearing Rose from “The Time Rose Series” released by MuseItUp Publishing on August 23rd, 2013.

Tagline: The two little Princes in the Tower disappeared five centuries ago—so what are they doing in our time?

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Here is the back cover information from your book The Disappearing Rose.

            No one knows what happened to the little Princes of the Tower. That’s what Dane, Paige, and Jack are told when they start working on a medieval documentary for Dane and Paige’s filmmaker father. But then an ancient medallion transports them back to the fifteenth century and gives them a chance to discover the truth about the mysterious disappearance of young King Edward the Fifth and his brother Richard, Duke of York. But they’d better be careful. The princes are definitely in danger, and the person responsible for their disappearance just might decide that their new friends should disappear as well.

So, where did The Disappearing Rose come from?

RD: The Middle Ages have been my favourite time period for as long as I can remember, and I have been interested in the fate of the two royal brothers ever since I read about them in what my Grantie Etta character would call my ‘Tudor propagandist’ history text in school when I was about nine. Even at that age, the wicked uncle theory didn’t seem too convincing. That I would eventually want to come up with my own story about them was inevitable. Originally, I just planned a straight forward historical novel. The time travel approach came later.

N&R: How long did it take you to write the book?

RD: Due to the fact that I was involved in both the teaching and raising of children at the time, the actual writing took about two years. Research took considerably longer, and started before I had a clear idea of the book. For several years I was really just visiting places associated with the princes and their era, and learning more about it because I was interested. Though I was in London several times as a child, I never actually got to the Tower of London until my late teens, because I usually went with school or church groups and the Tower wasn’t on their itineraries.  Family visits didn’t work either because, on the one occasion we planned to go to the Tower, the queue was three quarters of the way up Tower Hill, and my father—who wasn’t big on waiting—wouldn’t. (We went to Madame Tussaud’s & the London Zoo instead.)

N&R: Were there any particular challenges or struggles to overcome to create the work?

RD: Not really. Just finding the time to do it. Now that I’m mostly retired, that isn’t quite so difficult.

N&R: When did you realize you had the makings of a series under your belt?

RD: Pretty much right away. The medallion that serves as the children’s time portal has been used by their family for generations. It has a definite purpose. In order for them to find and help the child it seeks, it must first take them to other children in trouble. The princes were the just the first of these.

N&R: Here’s an excerpt from the book, The Disappearing Rose, for our readers.

“After they had eaten, Dane remembered the paper under his hat. He took it out and studied his aunt’s translation but was unable to make anything of it. Holding it to one side so the others could see too, he read it out.

“Ancient portal, hear this plea,

Open for thy golden key.

Feel its power,

Know its might,

Put the Mists of Time to flight.”

Paige clicked her tongue. “Another cutesy little rhyme. We haven’t even figured out the first one yet.”

“No, but what it said about speaking words in proper tone had to be in reference to the ones in this rhyme. Trouble is there’s no knowing what they mean, either. ‘Open for thy golden key.’ What key? And how can a key have power?”

“The medallion’s gold,” said Jack. “Perhaps it’s the key. I don’t know what the ancient portal could be, though.”

“The door to some long forgotten temple in the middle of Armenia, I expect,” said Paige, standing up. “Maybe we should stick to uncovering secrets of the past that are closer to hand, like that secret passage you promised to show us.”

The boys got up, too. As soon as Dane had tucked the translation back under his hat, they went to the kitchen to ask Mrs. Purdom for what Jack called torches and he and Paige called flashlights. While she was getting them, Jack selected a key from a row of hooks hanging on the side of a cupboard and unlocked the cellar door at the back of the kitchen. “The cellar’s electrified,” he said, flicking on some lights, “but we’ll have to use our torches in the passage.”

“Mind you don’t get those costumes dirty,” said Mrs. Purdom.

“Someone else with a thing about clean clothes,” Dane murmured as they started down the cellar steps.

The cellar was a large one. It had other comparatively modern features besides electricity including a sink and, in a small room near the stairs, a chain-flush toilet.

“How come the secret passage is way down here, Jack?” Paige asked as they made their way past a row of wine racks. “In movies they’re always behind a bookcase or something.”

“It starts in an upstairs room in the oldest part of Rosebank,” Jack replied. “That room’s locked now, so we have to go in this way.”

Squeezing past some barrels, he led them into a storeroom. In keeping with the Wolverton family’s tradition of hoarding, Grantie Etta had filled it with disused furniture and other assorted junk. At the far end was a small wooden door covered by a curtain, a door Jack said was now the passage’s only entry point.

“It would have been the exit point once, wouldn’t it?” said Dane.

“No,” said Jack, pulling the curtain aside to unbolt the door. “The passage originally led out into a wood behind one of the gardens. The wood’s gone now, so that end of it was filled in and a door cut to give access to the cellar.”

He turned on his flashlight and shone it to one side of the passage entrance so the others could see the difference between the new masonry and the old.

“Come on,” he said, stepping inside.

Dane was sensitive to dust. His nose and throat quickly became irritated by the damp, musty odours that filled his nostrils as he and Paige followed Jack along the narrow tunnel they had entered. He wasn’t about to turn back though. He found the idea of exploring a secret passage just as intriguing as his sister did.

They walked along on level ground for a time. When not stepping over small piles of rubble, they had to take care not to slip on flagstones worn smooth by generations of feet. Farther on, winding stairs took them past the ground floor and into the upper part of the house.

At last Jack stopped in front of a stone ram that seemed to glare down at them from the wall. Handing his flashlight to Paige, he reached up and twisted the animal’s horns to open the passage’s other entrance. Much to his chagrin, nothing happened

“That’s funny,” he said. “I can’t seem to budge these horns.”

The ram didn’t respond to Paige’s efforts, either. Or Dane’s.

“The mechanism must be stuck,” said Jack. “Oh, well, there’s not much to see in there anyway. Just some old furniture and a painting or two.”

Dane pushed on the secret door itself, his medallion clinking against the stones at every shove.

Paige caught hold of it. “Hmm,” she said. “This thing’s supposed to open ancient portals. Let’s give it a try.” Stretching it out the length of its chain, she pressed it against the door. “It doesn’t seem to be working,” she said sadly.

“You didn’t do it right,” said Jack, entering into the game. “I expect it only opens things if you say the rhyme.”

“Oh, yes. I forgot about that. Okay, here goes.”

She chanted the rhyme in a silly, singsong voice, the kind of voice adults used for saying nursery rhymes to little kids.

“Well, that didn’t work, either,” she said, letting the medallion fall back against Dane’s chest. “I guess someone used up all its special power years ago.”

“You’re still not doing it right,” Dane said with a grin. “The words do have to be spoken in ‘proper tone’, you know. Let me try.”

The others giggled as he closed his fist around the medallion and held it next to his heart. They continued to giggle as he repeated the rhyme in solemn, majestic tones, emphasizing every word.

“Ancient portal, hear this plea,

Open for thy golden key.

Feel its power,

Know its might,

Put the Mists of Time to flight.”

Suddenly, sparks jumped at him from every side. Then a strange blue and white mist appeared, accompanied by a roaring sound. Within seconds, his ears were buzzing, and the whole passage spun around him.

Jack grabbed his shoulder in alarm.

“Dane, what’s happening?”

“I…I guess I did it right,” Dane gasped as the swirling mist engulfed them.”

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Picture from The Time Machine movie made in 1960 starring Rod Taylor and based on H.G. Wells’ The Time Machine.

Wow, that looks really interesting. I guess I will be getting the book asap. Time travel seems to be quite popular right now. When did you start being interested in the concept? And, well…do you think it is possible?

RD: I can’t remember if my first experience with the concept came from a book or TV, but I’ve long been intrigued by it and I do think it’s possible, though not perhaps in the manner often depicted in books.  I’ve read articles where people claim to have briefly stepped though into another time (such as pre-French revolution Versailles) but could not interact with anyone, merely observe for a time until the scene before them vanished.

N&R: I know what you mean. There are lots of recorded instances where people have claimed to have momentarily viewed another dimension or time. I would love to experience it but only if there was a guarantee of complete safety. LOL. Are the majority of your works geared toward Middle Grade readers?

RD: They are now.  I’ve really come to enjoy that age group since I started working with them.

N&R: If our readers wish to contact you, how would they get in touch? Do you have a website, twitter, blog etc?

RD: I don’t have a blog as yet. I do have a website and am on Facebook and Twitter. My son (actor/filmmaker, Richard Duke) is also planning a book trailer for the first Time Rose book, but that’s still in the idea stage.

N&R: Here are the links to purchase this e book.

Muse:   https://museituppublishing.com/bookstore/index.php/coming-soon/the-disappearing-rose-detail

Amazon.com: http://tinyurl.com/mhlyljj

Amazon.ca:  http://tinyurl.com/lostrov

Barnes and Noble, Nook Book: http://tinyurl.com/l2jjhuc

Kobo: http://store.kobobooks.com/en-CA/ebook/the-disappearing-rose-the-time-rose-series

            One last question, do you have anything you would like to share with our readers about the writing world or your experiences with the publishing industry.

RD: E-publishing is a new field for me.  I’m having to learn as I go along.

N&R: Well, thank you for dropping by, Renee. I have enjoyed getting to know you and am looking forward to reading your book in its entirety.

RD: Thank you for having me.

N&R: You can connect with Renee Duke on her website at http://www.reneeduke.ca/ .

Watch for Book Two in the saga: The Mud Rose coming in January, 2014.

 

Contest:

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Painting by Paul Delaroche.

            Okay my peeps, now you get to put on your thinking caps. Ms. Duke is offering a free copy of her book to someone who votes and leaves a comment as to why they voted the way they did. She will be watching for the most clever and interesting answer. You have five days to put on your thinking caps and file your vote. All postings must be pre-approved by me so don’t freak if they don’t show up right away. I will be watching from a distance and okaying the non-spam votes. Thank you for your participation in advance.

Here we go: What happened to the princes, King Edward the Fifth and his brother Richard, Duke of York, and who was responsible for their disappearances, is still unknown, so we are putting it to a vote, with our possible suspects being:

(A)   Richard, Duke of Gloucester (later Richard III), the uncle who reluctantly—or maybe not so reluctantly—took over the throne once the older prince had been deposed.

(B)   Henry Stafford, Duke of Buckingham, another uncle who thought the crown would look better on his head.

(C)   Henry Tudor, Earl of Richmond, who became king after defeating Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth and strengthened his claim by marrying the princes’ sister, Elizabeth.

(D)  Margaret Beaufort, Countess of Richmond, mother of Henry Tudor, who knew from the moment he was born that her boy was better suited to kingship than any of those good-for-nothing Yorkists.

(E) Elizabeth of York, who had been heir presumptive until those bratty brothers came along.

(F) Sir Thomas More, who was only five at the time, but he could have hired someone.

Please enter your vote for one of the individuals listed above and include your comment as to why you chose the person you did, in the “Leave a comment” section below this article.

We look forward to you suggestions.

Interview with Author Rosemary Morris

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Natter and Review would like to welcome author Rosemary Morris today. Rosemary is a Historical Romance and Regency Romance novelist. She hales from Britain and lives in Hertfordshire.

Here is a brief biography of our guest.

Rosemary Morris was born in 1940 in Sidcup, Kent. As a child, when she was not making up stories, her head was ‘always in a book.’ While working in a travel agency, Rosemary met her Indian husband. He encouraged her to continue her education at Westminster College. In 1961 Rosemary and her husband, now a barrister, moved to his birthplace, Kenya, where she lived from 1961 until 1982.  After an attempted coup d’état, she and four of her children lived in an ashram in France.

Back in England, Rosemary wrote historical fiction. She is now a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, Historical Novel Society, and Watford Writers. Her novel, Tangled Love, was short listed at the 2012 Festival of Romance for the best e-romance of the year.

Apart from writing, Rosemary enjoys classical Indian literature, reading, visiting places of historical interest, vegetarian cooking, growing organic fruit, herbs and vegetables and creative crafts.

Time spent with her five children and their families—most of whom live near her—is precious.

N&R: Hi Rosemary. Welcome to Natter and review. It’s great to have you here.

RM: Thank you for the invitation.

N&R: I have to ask because I see this event in your biography. What do you remember happening during the coup in Kenya? That sounds like it might have been a pretty frightening event.

RM: The first we knew of it was early in the morning when our twin sons came into our bedroom and told us they could hear guns firing. “Don’t be silly,” we said, “go back to bed, it’s too early to get up.”

All too soon, we found out there was an attempted coup d’etat and my imagination ran riot. Fortunately, the area I lived in was not affected. However, there were stories of looting and much worse. From then on, for my childrens’ safety and against my husband’s wishes I was determined to leave Kenya.

N&R: That sounds as if it must have been pretty scary. I think I would have headed for home as well.

Living in an ashram in France must have been very interesting. Is that where you developed a love of Indian Cooking?

RM: Yes, it was very interesting, and during my time in the ashram I developed a love of classical Indian literature such as The Bhagavad-gita As It Is, or Gita Govinda, the Song of God, by A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, The Mahabharat and The Ramayan amongst other famous translations.

I developed a taste for Indian Cooking while living with my in-laws in Nairobi. However, although I regularly make Indian dishes such as spinach and paneer (Indian cheese) curry, the recipe for which can be found in Far Beyond Rubies, I have an international collection of recipes. For example, my grandchildren will phone asking me to make risotto, lasagna made with spinach, ricotta cheese and pine nuts, apple or rhubarb pies and crumbles, as well as other food they particularly enjoy.

One of the reasons my family and friends enjoy the meals I cook is that I grow my own herbs, fruit and vegetables. Ingredients picked fresh from the garden taste superior to those bought from the shops. However, I am not 100% self-sufficient so I buy organic produce whenever possible.

N&R: Your dishes sound superb. I must admit I have a love of Indian cooking as well. I was pleased to see you had included a recipe at the end of Far Beyond Rubies. It was a great idea. And a nice dish as well.

Your books explore the era of the Napoleonic Wars and your male heroes and villains are often connected in some way to the military or the war of that period. You outline the atrocities very effectively and the various formalities of the era. When did this particular interest develop for you? And what kinds of things do you feel are important to note during this period of history.

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RM: The French Revolution and the aftermath destroyed the old order. Britain was determined to preserve the Rule of Law, including Habeas Corpus, which means no one can be held indefinitely without appearing before a judge.

When my hero and his best friend return to England, almost at the end of the long struggle in the Iberian Peninsula, it is a relief to be in a country not devastated by the depredations of brutal French soldiers. (Wellington did not tolerate looters, rapists etc. He had them hung.)

If the Duke of Wellington and Blucher had not defeated Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo, the history of Europe would have been quite different.

N&R: I think I better read a little more about this period in history—especially if I want to continue as your editor. LOL. I find it really fascinating. Most of us study these kinds of things in school but we rarely pursue the topics later on in our lives.

I love the descriptions of the women’s clothing in all of your books. Some are absolutely breathtaking. Has women’s clothing been a favourite for you as a rule, or is it just this era that interests you the most?

RM: Thank you for the compliment. In my novels I try to recreate times past and part of that past is fashion, which even dictated how people moved. Can you imagine how restricted your movements would be when wearing whale-boned stays?   In each era in which my novels are set, I try to paint verbal pictures of my characters that include their appearance.

N&R: I think you have succeeded very well in that endeavor. And no, I cannot even dare to think how women could breathe, let alone move, in the kinds of things they were forced to wear in the past. I am very happy I live in this era.

How does one begin to research the kind of background knowledge required for creating a work such as Sunday’s Child?

RM: I have always been interested in history. Since childhood I have read voraciously, so there are many facts and anecdotes floating around in my mind. Over the years I have collected non-fiction about the Regency and other eras.

I have begun Monday’s Child, the sequel to Sunday’s Child, and decided the hero and his best friend will be hussar officers at the Battle of Waterloo. On Sunday I shall visit Apsley House, the residence of the Duke of Wellington, in search of more information. At the moment my bedside table is crammed with books about the Regency. As I read, I use post it notes on items of particular interest.

N&R: It must really help when you are writing these books to be able to go to the places where some of your stories have been set. That is wonderful. I live in British Columbia right now and it is a very young province whose history is certainly nothing like what you have available at your fingertips. You are very lucky.

MuseItUp Publishing has released four of your books now: Tangled Love, Sunday’s Child, False Pretences and Far Beyond Rubies, and we are just getting down to business with your latest, The Captain and The Countess. Can you tell our readers where the inspiration comes for these great stories? Let’s start with Tangled Love. Was it your first book? Where did the idea for the plot come from?

RM: As I stated above, I read historical non-fiction for pleasure. While seeking a period which is less often chosen to set historical fiction in, I read about James II. Although many of them did not like the man, his politics or his religion (Roman Catholic), the peers of the realm swore an oath of allegiance to him. Eventually, he was forced to flee to France. Subsequently, he was succeeded first by his daughter Mary and her husband William of Orange, and then by his daughter, Anne.

William and Mary

Some peers of the realm felt they could not swear oaths of allegiance to either Mary and William, or Anne while James lived, and followed James to France. What, I asked myself, would be the position of the children of such peers? A story formed in my mind so I wrote Tangled Love, a tale of riches to rags to riches set in Queen Anne Stuart’s reign, 1702 – 1714,

The theme of Sunday’s Child is that of two people, who, as the result of war, could—in today’s terms—have become dysfunctional.

False Pretences, set in the Regency era, is the story of a young woman still at boarding school whose only wish is to find out who her parents are. There are many twists and turns in the tale before the surprising truth is revealed with the help of a charismatic gentleman she meets when she runs away.

In Far Beyond Rubies, set in Queen Anne Stuart’s reign, my heroine must prove she is the rightful heiress to a great estate and that she and her sister are not bastards. It was an era of political and religious controversy and intolerance. The hero adds to the heroine’s confusion when she doubts his political and religious affiliations.

My new novel, The Captain and The Countess, to be published in February, 2014, explores the possible relationship between an outstandingly beautiful, wealthy widow and a captain in Queen Anne’s navy.  The captain, who is also an artist, is the only gentleman to realize profound sorrow is buried deep in the alluring countess nick-named Fatal Widow.

N&R: I have to add that when I first became your editor, I wasn’t particularly fond of romances, never have been, but you changed my mind on that one. Your romances are full of excitement, adventure, graphic description that makes the era come to life, and historical reference. You also keep the dialogue fairly lodged in the period and not more modern as many authors prefer. I have learned a lot of interesting words from the time.

As you were saying, you are working on sequels to Sunday’s Child. What are these books about and was there a specific catalyst for the original story?

RM: Yes, as I have stated above, I am now working on Monday’s Child, the second in a series of seven novels named for the days of the week. In each novel, I introduce a character who will be the hero or heroine of the next book.

The catalyst for the first tale was my speculation about the effects of war in an era in which there was no counseling for post-traumatic stress disorder. My hero is an honorable officer, who returns to England at the end of the war in the Iberian Peninsula, tortured from a tragic event. My heroine is an eighteen year old young lady, who once wanted to marry an army officer. However, after the deaths of her beloved father and brothers due to war, she no longer wants to marry a ‘military gentleman’ for fear he would be killed in battle. So, the reader will ask, how can the captain and the major’s daughter find peace and happiness?

N&R: Sunday’s Child was our first book together. It kept me intrigued right to the end. Our last one, Far Beyond Rubies is a beautiful story and has a bit of a paranormal theme running through it concerning reincarnation. I personally believe in the concept and so was quite happy to see a reference to it in what I consider more mainstream fiction. How important do you think it is to bring an author’s personal beliefs or interests into their work?

RM: I think an author can explore personal beliefs, such as reincarnation, in fiction, so long as they are in keeping with the characters. In other words, the reader should find them interesting, and the author should not attempt to foist her beliefs on the reader.

N&R: That sounds like a good rule of thumb.

Let’s share some blurbs and excerpts from your work.

 Tangled_Love_4f1dc6c07d16f

Here’s the blurb from Tangled Love followed by a brief excerpt.

The throne has been usurped by James II’s daughter and son-in-law, Mary and William of Orange.  In 1693, loyal to his oath of allegiance, ten year old Richelda’s father must follow James to France.

Before her father leaves, he gives her a ruby ring she will treasure and wear on a chain round her neck.  In return Richelda swears an oath to try to regain their ancestral home, Field House.

By the age of eighteen, Richelda’s beloved parents are dead.  She believes her privileged life is over.  At home in dilapidated Belmont House, her only companions are her mother’s old nurse and her devoted dog, Puck.  Clad in old clothes she dreams of elegant dresses and trusts her childhood friend Dudley, a poor parson’s son, who promised to marry her.

Richelda’s wealthy aunt takes her to London and arranges her marriage to Viscount Chesney, the new owner of Field House.  Richelda is torn between love for Dudley and her oath to regain Field House, where it is rumored there is treasure.  If she finds it, Richelda hopes to ease their lives.  But, while trying to find it, will her life be at risk or will she find true love?

Excerpt:

Prologue

1693

Nine year-old Richelda Shaw sat on the floor in her nursery. She pulled a quilt over her head to block out the thunder pealing outside the ancient manor house while an even fiercer storm raged deep within. Eyes closed, she remained as motionless as a marble statue.

Elsie, her mother’s personal maid, removed the quilt from her head. “Stand up child, there’s nothing to be frightened of. Come, your father’s waiting for you.”

Richelda trembled. Until now Father’s short visits from France meant gifts and laughter. This one made Mother cry while servants spoke in hushed tones.

Followed by Elsie, Richelda hurried down broad oak stairs. For a moment, she paused to admire lilies of the valley in a Delft bowl.  Only yesterday, she picked the

flowers to welcome Father home and then arranged them with tender care. Now, the bowl stood on a chest, which stood beneath a pair of crossed broadswords hanging on the wall.

Elsie opened the massive door of the great hall where Father stood to one side of an enormous hearth. Richelda hesitated. Her eyes searched for her mother before she walked across the floor, spread her skirts wide, and knelt before him.

Father placed his right hand on her bent head. “Bless you, daughter, may God keep you safe.” He smiled. “Stand up, child. Upon my word, sweetheart, your hair reminds me of a golden rose. How glad I am to see roses bloom in these troubled times.”

Richelda stood but dared not speak for she did not know him well.

Putting an arm round her waist, he drew her to him. “Come, do not be nervous of your father, child. Tell me if you know King James II holds court in France while his daughter, Mary, and William, his son-in-law, rule after seizing his throne?”

“Yes, Mother told me we are well rid of King James and his Papist wife,” she piped up, proud of her knowledge.

With a sigh, Father lifted her onto his knee. “Richelda, I must follow His Majesty for I swore an oath of allegiance to him. Tell me, child, while King James lives, how can I with honour swear allegiance to his disloyal daughter and her husband?”

Unable to think of a reply, she lowered her head, breathing in his spicy perfume.

Father held her closer. “Your mother pleads with me to declare myself for William and Mary. She begs me not to return to France, but I am obliged to serve King James. Do you understand?”

As she nodded her cheek brushed against his velvet coat. “Yes, I understand, my tutor told me why many gentlemen will not serve the new king and queen.”

“If you remain in England, you will be safe. Bellemont is part of your mother’s dowry so I doubt it will be confiscated.”

If she remained in England! Startled, she stared at him.

Smiling, he popped her onto her feet. “We shall ride. I have something to show you.”

****

Before long, they drew rein on the brow of a hill. Father pointed at a manor house in the valley.  “Look at our ancestral home, Field House. The Roundheads confiscated it soon after the first King Charles’ execution.  Richelda, I promised my father to do all in my power to regain the property.” Grey-faced, he pressed his hand to his chest. “Alas, I have failed to keep my oath,” He wheezed.

Richelda not only yearned to help him keep his promise to her grandfather, she also yearned to find the gold and jewels legend said her buccaneer ancestor, Sir Nicholas, hid.

She waited for her father to breathe easy before she spoke. “If we found the treasure trove you could buy Field House.”

“Ah, you believe Sir Nicholas did not give all his plunder to Good Queen Bess,” he teased.

“Elsie told me legend says he hid some of his booty in Field House.”  The thought of it excited her.  “In his old age, when Sir Nicholas retired from seafaring, is it true that he put his ship’s figurehead, Lady Luck, in the great hall?”

“Yes, for all I know she is still above a mighty fireplace carved with pomegranates, our family’s device.”

“I would like to see it.”

“One day, perhaps you will. Now, tell me if you know our family motto.”

“Fortune favours the brave.”

“Are you brave, my little lady? Will you swear on the Bible to do all in your power to regain Field House?”

To please him, and excited by the possibility of discovering treasure, she nodded.

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Here’s the blurb and excerpt from Sunday’s Child.

Georgianne Whitley’s happy life ends after the death of her beloved father and brothers.

In Sunday’s Child, Georgianne Whitley, must cope with her widowed mother in order to secure her happiness and that of her two younger sisters.

When Rupert, Major Tarrant returns to England from Spain in 1813, his family expect him to marry and father an heir, but although Tarrant wants to please his relations he has compelling reasons for not wanting to have a child.

A rich, elderly suitor desperate for a male heir seeks Georgianne’s hand in marriage.  Although the titled man’s offer would improve her situation she hesitates to accept his proposal.

Georgianne, who has known Tarrant since she was in the nursery, turns to him for help.  She knows he is quixotic and that he will never fail her.  Yet, even in order to help her sisters she is not sure as to whether or not she wants to accept his solution to her problems.

Tarrant admires dainty Georgianne and wants to protect her, but if he expects her to conform to Regency conventions and manners he will be surprised.  Sunday’s child is ‘fair of face’ but she is not a ‘bread and butter Miss’.

Neither Tarrant nor Georgianne can guess what the future holds.

Excerpt:

Tarrant stood in quiet contemplation by the drawing room window framed by faded velvet green curtains.

Adrian Langely stared at him.“What are you looking at?”

“The wind whipping the leaves from the trees. Oh, what does the weather matter? We have campaigned in worse conditions.”

His friend’s smile made him look younger than his twenty-seven years. It transformed the deep lines of his square soldier’s face and softened his dark eyes. “Am I correct in thinking you favour the beautiful Miss Whitley?”

Tarrant shrugged. “I have known Miss Whitley since her infancy, and admit to a certain fondness for her.”

Langley grinned. “Be careful, my friend, before you know it, you will become a tenant for life.”

Tarrant turned away from the window. “I have not considered marriage for a long time, however, my father wants me to tie the knot and, in biblical terms, beget an heir.” As he spoke, his mind crowded with memories of ladies suffering in the hands of French soldiers, compatriots of those who had cheered each time a head rolled during the French Revolution.

“Dolores?”

At Langley’s mention of the lady to whom Tarrant was previously betrothed, Tarrant’s face contorted.

“I beg your pardon. I should not have mentioned her.” Langley cleared his throat. “You never told me why you broke it off. If you still love her is there no hope of making her your wife?”

“We did not break if off.” His shoulders slumped. “At the time I could not bear to speak of the matter. She was repeatedly raped by French soldiers. She died in childbirth.”

“My God! I did not know, I never guessed!” Langley exclaimed, jerked out of his usual calm.

Every muscle in Tarrant’s body contracted. He was present at the time of Dolores’s death. Even now, her screams, as she struggled to give birth, rang in his ears. He shuddered at the memory of his horror as those piercing cries faded to faint groans when Dolores delivered a stillborn baby. Overcome by grief he had made an impulsive vow never to be responsible for such suffering. He sighed. Since his elder brother’s death, he needed to fulfill his duty to father an heir, yet…

Tarrant clenched his teeth. Despite his avowal of undying love and his assurance that he would marry her after the baby’s birth, he doubted Dolores had wanted to live. Most likely, she had welcomed death.

He crossed the room and stared out of the window into the night. “I must see to my horse,” he said, his voice husky.

On the way to the stable, he paused to look up. Dark, silver-edged clouds raced across the full, lemon-yellow moon. He bent to rub his right leg. Although it had healed, it ached sometimes.

I am feverish, he thought, when he imagined Georgianne and Dolores’s faces merging.  Usually, he tried not to think of gentle Dolores, in whose admiration he once basked. He sighed and entered the stable. Corunna, his grey, whickered a welcome. He stroked the horse’s neck, considering past events. After witnessing the consequences of the brutality of Boney’s officers and common soldiers toward the fair sex, like Langley, and many other gentlemen, he believed a nation’s civilisation should be judged by how it treated women. He despised men like Pennington, who thought their rank entitled them to grab anything they wanted without mercy.

Oh, he did not claim or wish to claim the virtues mouthed by men like Wilfred Stanton. Before his betrothal to Dolores, he had always enjoyed the petticoat company whom he treated with respect. At the same time, he had always taken care not to disgrace either his family or his regiment.

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Here’s the blurb and an excerpt from False Pretences.

Five-year-old Annabelle arrived at boarding school fluent in French and English. Separated from her nurse, a dismal shadow blights Annabelle’s life because she does not know who her parents are.

Although high-spirited, Annabelle is financially dependent on her unknown guardian. She refuses to marry a French baron more than twice her age.

Her life in danger, Annabelle is saved by a gentleman, who says he will help her to discover her identity. Yet, from then on nothing is as it seems, and she is forced to run away for the second time to protect her rescuer.

Even more determined to discover her parents’ identity, in spite of many false pretences, Annabelle must learn who to trust. Her attempts to unravel the mystery of her birth, lead to further danger, despair, unbearable heartache and even more false pretences until the only person who has ever wanted to cherish her, reveals the startling truth, and all’s well that ends well.

Excerpt:

The chaise came to a halt no more than two yards from Annabelle and Dan.

Annabelle swallowed the bitter bile, which rushed into her throat in response to her brush with near death from horse’s hooves and deadly wheels, and all her limbs trembled.

A groom alighted from the back of the chaise and opened the door nearest to her.

“Why the devil have we stopped?” a crisp male voice demanded.

The groom scrambled down from his seat next to the coachman, lowered the steps, and mumbled something before a tall gentleman descended.

Annabelle glanced at the coat of arms on the chaise and assumed they must be those of her would-be-bridegroom, for who else would travel along this short-cut to The Beeches so early in the morning? Besides, her mind was too preoccupied with Dan to consider other alternatives. “Monsieur le Baron de Beauchamp, I presume. Your arrival is more than welcome, monsieur.” She pointed at Dan, who lay limp on the road. “We need help. A footpad held us up. You cannot imagine a dirtier, scruffier, more impertinent person…”

“Indeed,” the gentleman murmured, his eyebrows lowered.

She stared up at Monsieur le Baron. Some six feet tall, dressed in a beautifully cut dark green coat, cream-coloured unmentionables almost moulded to his powerful legs, a dark grey coat with as many as twelve capes and a snow white, intricately tied cravat at his throat, her artist’s eyes approved of him. Her eyes also approved of his short black hair which curled at the ends, a pair of large brown eyes with golden depths, and a well-shaped, clearly defined mouth that had deep, endearing dimples on either side of it, softening the effect of his square jaw and cleft chin.

The baron picked up her hat, dusted it with gloved fingers, and inclined his head. “I regret I have no comb in hand for you to tidy your curls.”

She sighed, well able to imagine the small, unruly curls that often escaped and clustered round her face, despite her best efforts to subdue them.

“You are trembling. Allow me to help you to stand and I shall return your hat to you,” he said, his eyes troubled and his expression thoughtful.

She stood without his help and he handed the hat to her. “Thank you.” Made ill-at-ease by his scrutiny, she tried to smooth those annoying little curls before she replaced her hat. “Monsieur, a footpad took my saddlebags, knocked Dan down, and stole my mare.”

“Good God! Did he harm you?” The gentleman stepped forward to clasp her hands.

His touch sent fire up her arms. She pulled herself free from him, and then tried to shake the dirt from her skirts. “I am uninjured but, as you see, poor Dan is unconscious.” She knelt next to the stable boy. “He is so pale.”

“So would you be if you had been knocked senseless. Do stand up again. Rest assured that I will not leave the lad here. My groom shall put him on the floor of the chaise. That will not leave much room for our feet but we shall contrive until we reach the next village.”

Annabelle hesitated. She was not ignorant of the ways of the world, and knew she should not travel in his chaise without a chaperone, but realised she had no choice. It would be folly to reject his offer and either wait for help or walk to the inn, prey to any other footpad lurking in the woods. She stood and pointed in the opposite direction to the one from which the chaise had approached. “Dan said there is an inn not far from here.”

The baron beckoned to his groom. “Put the lad in the chaise,” he ordered.

When the muscular groom picked Dan up without the slightest difficulty, Dan did not stir.

“Gently,” the baron ordered and watched his groom settle the young man inside the chaise. The baron nodded at his coachman. “Turn the chaise round.” He turned to Annabelle and offered her his arm. Without pause for prudent hesitation, she put her hand on his smooth broadcloth sleeve, surprised by the sudden tingling in her fingertips.

Annabelle permitted him to lead her far enough down the road to make way for the chaise to turn.

“Good, you have stopped trembling.” The baron smiled. His dimples deepened. Her heart lurched and continued to when the baron scrutinised her face as they waited to get into the chaise. “May I ask how you know my name, Miss—?”

She removed her hand from his arm and looked down at the tips of her dusty riding boots. “I am Miss Allan. We were expecting you. That is, Miss Chalfont told me, oh dear, this is so awkward, monsieur. I am sorry to disappoint you, but I must be honest. Nothing would persuade me to marry you, for although your eyes do not bulge like a frog’s and you are handsome, you are too old for me.” Nervous, she moistened her lips with the tip of her tongue.

“Thank you for your compliment, I am relieved to hear my looks do not displease you,” the gentleman said dryly.

“Don’t try to persuade me to change my mind.” Her cheeks burned. She should not have been outspoken and rude. Yet she ran away because she did not want to marry at her guardian’s command, and she still believed she had no other choice despite Monsieur le Baron’s handsome appearance and charm. She peered up at him before resuming her contemplation of the tips of her boots.

Le monsieur’s mouth twitched. His eyes laughed at her. “Please be good enough to tell me why you are here with an unconscious ragamuffin.”

“I like to ride early in the morning.”

“Ah.” His eyes still laughed at her, their golden flecks deepening. “As soon as we reach the inn, I will send someone to notify the authorities of the crime.”

“Do you think my mare will be recovered?” She looked up at the seemingly harmless man whom Fanny had described as one overly fond of women. Thank God he was not ogling her. Even Miss Chalfont could not have objected to his manners. She

looked away from his expressive eyes, fringed with sooty black lashes, long enough to make any young lady envious.

Oh, she understood his success with the fair sex. Not only did he possess an attractive personality but he had broad shoulders and a slim waist, and those muscular thighs beneath the tight fitting unmentionables she had already noticed.

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And finally, Far Beyond Rubies, the latest Rosemary Morris publication from MuseItUp Publishing.

Set in 1706 in England during Queen Anne Stuart’s reign, Far Beyond Rubies begins when William, Baron Kemp, Juliana’s half-brother, claims she and her young sister, Henrietta, are bastards. Spirited Juliana is determined to prove the allegation is false, and that she is the rightful heiress to Riverside, a great estate.

On his way to deliver a letter to William, Gervaise Seymour sees Juliana for the first time on the grounds of her family home. The sight of her draws him back to India. When “her form changed to one he knew intimately—but not in this lifetime,” Gervaise knows he would do everything in his power to protect her.

Although Juliana and Gervaise are attracted to each other, they have not been formally introduced and assume they will never meet again. However, when Juliana flees from home, and is on her way to London, she encounters quixotic Gervaise at an inn. Circumstances force Juliana to accept his kind help. After Juliana’s life becomes irrevocably tangled with his, she discovers all is not as it seems. Yet, she cannot believe ill of him for, despite his exotic background, he behaves with scrupulous propriety, while trying to help her find evidence to prove she and her sister are legitimate.

Excerpt

“Bastards, Juliana! You and your sister are bastards.”

Aghast, Juliana stared at William, her older half-brother, although, not for a moment did she believe his shocking allegation.

It hurt her to confront William without their father at her side. At the beginning of April, she and Father were as comfortable as ever in his London house. Now, a month later, upon her return to her childhood home, Riverside House, set amongst the rolling landscape of Hertfordshire, his body already lay entombed in the family crypt next to her mother’s remains. Would there ever be a day when she did not mourn him? A day when she did not weep over his loss?

A cold light burned in the depths of William’s pebble-hard eyes.

Juliana straightened her neck. She would not bow her head, thus giving him the satisfaction of revealing her inner turmoil.

William cleared his throat. His eyes gleamed. “Did you not know you and your sister were born on the wrong side of the blanket?”

Anger welled up in her. “You lie. How dare you make such a claim?”

Hands clasped on his plump knees, William ignored her protestation. “You now know the truth about your whore of a mother,” he gloated.

Well, she knew what William claimed, but did not believe him. “You are wicked to speak thus. My mother always treated you kindly.”

“As ever, you are a haughty piece.” William’s broad nostrils flared. Anger sparked in his eyes. “My dear sister, remember the adage: Pride goeth before a fall, however, do not look so worried. I shall not cast you out without the means to support yourself.”

William rang the silver handbell. When a lackey clad in blue and gold livery answered its summons, he ordered the man to pour a glass of wine.

Juliana watched William raise the crystal glass to his lips. What did he mean? How could she maintain herself and her sister? She had not been brought up to earn a living.

She looked away from her half-brother to glance around the closet, the small, elegantly furnished room in which she kept her valuables and conducted her private correspondence before her father’s death.

Now it seemed, William, the seventh Baron Kemp, and his wife, Sophia, had sought to obliterate every trace of her by refurbishing the closet. Where were her books and her embroidery frame? Where was Mother’s portrait? Rage burned in the pit of her stomach while she looked around her former domain. Juliana wanted to claw William’s fat cheeks. It would please her to hurt him as he was hurting her. No, that wish was both childish and unchristian. She must use her intelligence to defeat him.

At least her family portrait—in which her late mother sat in front of Father, and she and William, dressed in their finest clothes, stood on either side of Mother—remained in place. One of her father’s hands rested on her pretty mother’s shoulder, the other on the back of the chair. A handsome man, she thought—while admiring his relaxed posture and frank expression, both of which depicted a man at his ease.

At the age of five, she already had resembled Mother when Godfrey Kneller painted her family in 1693. They both had large dark eyes and a riot of black curls, as well as fair complexions tinged with the colour of wild roses on their cheeks. She touched her narrow, finely sculpted nose. Judging by the portraits, she inherited her straight nose, oval face, and determined jaw from Father.

Her hands trembled. After Father died, she knew life would never be the same again. Yet nothing had prepared her for what would follow.

Today, when she first stepped into the spacious hall, it seemed as though she had also stepped over an invisible threshold. From being a beloved daughter of the house, she had become her half-brother’s pensioner. Knowing William and Sophia’s miserly natures, she doubted they would deal kindly with her. Yet she could not have anticipated William’s appalling accusation of illegitimacy, and his arrangement—whatever it might be—for her to earn her living.

The lackey served William with another glass of wine.

William jerked his head at the man. “Go.”

Her head still held high, Juliana looked at tall, fleshy William. She liked him no more than he liked her. Indeed, who would not dislike a man so parsimonious that he neither offered his half-sister the common courtesy of either a seat or a glass of wine? Infuriated by his gall, she clasped her hands tighter, trying to contain her anger and keep her face impassive.

She shivered. Today, when she alighted from the coach, rain soaked her clothes. On such a wet, grey day, why did no fire blaze in the hearth? Here, in the closet, it was scarcely warmer than outdoors. She clenched her hands to stop them trembling and imagined the heart of the house had died with Father.

“You shall put your fine education, which our father boasted of, to good use,” William gloated. “You shall be a teacher at a school in Bath.”

Fury flooded Juliana’s chilled body. “Shall I?”

“Yes. Our father saw fit for you to have an education far beyond your needs. You are more than qualified to teach young ladies.”

“Beyond my needs? Father admired Good Queen Bess and other learned ladies of her reign. He deplored Queen Anne’s lack of education. Our father decided no daughter of his would be as ignorant as Her Majesty and her late sister, Queen Mary.”

The purple-red colour of William’s cheeks deepened. “Enough! I despise over-educated women.”

She stared at him. Undoubtedly his mean-minded wife had influenced him. Sophia was jealous because her own schooling comprised of only simple figuring, reading, and writing learned at her mother’s knee, whereas Juliana benefited both from the tutors her tolerant father, the sixth baron, had engaged, and her father’s personal tuition.

William interrupted her thoughts. “You have no claim on me.”

N&R: That is an amazing collection of work. I have read and reread them all and still could do it again. I encourage all my readers to purchase copies through MuseItUp Publishing. These are very intricate stories with adventure for both sexes. Is there one of your books in particular which you like more than the others?

RM: I like all of my novels equally, but am particularly pleased that Far Beyond Rubies has been published because it gave me the opportunity to develop various themes, such as reincarnation, which I have mentioned.

N&R: Can you tell us a bit about the novel you are working on right now without giving away too much of the plot?

RM: Monday’s Child begins in Brussels shortly after Napoleon has escaped from Elba. The hero and heroine are characters introduced in Monday’s Child. They assumed they would marry, but unforeseen events will intervene.

Here are my author’s notes and my draft of the first, very short chapter.

 

Monday’s Child

Monday’s child is fair of face.

                                                                                                                                                                                             First line of Monday’s child poem

* * * *

Author’s Notes

After the collapse of Napoleonic France a new country, called The United Kingdom of the Netherlands was formed. It incorporated the former Austrian Netherlands (Belgium), and the Dutch provinces. The United Kingdom of the Netherlands formed a buffer state between France—the throne of which Louis XVIII, the Bourbon king, had ascended—and land-hungry Prussia. To strengthen the borders, British troops were stationed in the country which the Duke of Wellington visited on his way to Vienna for the peace conference.

The defeat of Napoleon and the restoration of the rule of the House of Orange resulted in debt ridden English people flocking to Brussels where they could reduce their expenses.

* * * *

Chapter One

March1815

Brussels

Helen Whitley frowned as she regarded her reflection in the full-length mirror of her luxurious bedchamber, in the house which her brother-in-law, Rupert, Major Tarrant, and her older sister, Georgianne, had rented on the Rue Royale.

“If you will permit me to say so, you look beautiful, Miss,” her middle-aged dresser said, smiling shyly while she bent to tweak one of the six frills at the hem of  the new, cream silk gown into place.

Helen sighed at the sight of the soft folds of the gown which flowed from beneath her breasts. “Thank you, Mabey,” she said, in a flat tone of voice.

She scrutinised the low-cut bodice, ornamented with tiny seed pearls, and her pearl necklace and earrings. Although, in her own opinion she was too tall for beauty, she was the epitome of a well-dressed young lady, about to attend a ball.

The expression in the green eyes gazing at her from the mirror softened. Soon Viscount Langley, Rupert’s comrade in arms, would arrive in Brussels and propose marriage to her. Afterward, she would insist they loved each other so dearly that there was no reason to delay their wedding, and then she would be free from Georgianne and Rupert’s charity.

Another long drawn out sigh escaped her as she coaxed a brown, pomaded curl into place on her forehead. She was an ungrateful wretch. Through marriage to Rupert, their cousin-in-law, Georgianne had saved her from a life of unhappiness.

Subsequently, Langley’s tender consideration and kind words had made it obvious that he loved her.

“Miss?” Mabey held out a pair of elbow-length white kid gloves.

Helen put them on, her head filled with thoughts of Langley, and then allowed Mabey to enfold her in a rose-pink velvet cloak which would keep her warm on her way to the ball with Georgianne and Cousin Rupert. Once, she had looked forward to making her debut in society. Now that she was part of it, her enjoyment was diminished by Langley’s absence. The evening would be perfect if he were at the ball. Oh, how she longed for the day when they would be man and wife. © 2013 Rosemary Morris

N&R: I’m looking forward to that one coming across my desk.

Is there anything you would like to share with up and coming historical fiction writers?

RM: It is embarrassing to admit I wrote for many years without securing an agent or a publisher. Fortunately, my late husband encouraged me to continue. He said that one day all my novels would be published. He was right, after much revision some of them have been. Along the path to publication I studied books on how to write, attended some workshops, and joined one to one and online critique groups. This helped me to polish my novels. However, from time to time I was advised to write something different—e.g. cosy crime, contemporary novels—because historical fiction is not as popular as it used to be. I did not agree with this well meant advice and continued to write historical fiction.

In my opinion, up and coming historical fiction writers should make sure they are not writing about 21st century characters plunked in the past. They should ensure that their characters are of their time and place, which means authors should not skimp on meticulous research.

N&R: Very good advice.

Well thank you for visiting and we wish you well in all your future literary endeavors.

RM: Thank you very much.

N&R: For our readers, the following links will connect you to Rosemary’s website, blogs and locations to purchase her work. Please support this very talented writer. I really look forward to working with her more in the future as an editor; it certainly offers me a great opportunity to be one of the first to read her genuinely well-crafted stories.

Links:

http://tinyurl.com/bzydpr8

http://www.amazon.com/Rosemary-Morris/e/B007MQI9Q2/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1371792933&sr=1-2-ent

http://www.kobobooks.com/search/search.html?q=%22Rosemary+Morris%22

http://www.rosemarymorris.co.uk/             http://www.rosemarymorris.blogspot.ca/

 

 

Interview with Author Tammy Lowe

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Today’s guest is author Tammy Lowe, a new member of the MuseItUp author alumni. Here is a biography of our visitor.

Tammy lives in Cambridge, Ontario, with her husband of twenty years and their teenage son.

From September to June, she is surrounded by preschoolers and covered in glitter and glue.

Once school is out, she grabs her hubby and son and takes off on some grand adventure. They’ve explored pyramids in Egypt and sailed down a river in rural China on a tiny raft,  slept in the tower of a 15th century Scottish castle, searched for the Loch Ness Monster and have even dined at a Bedouin camp in the Arabian Desert. She’s part Mary Poppins, and part Indiana Jones.

Tammy loves to explore this amazing world of ours.

As a kid, she loved to read books and watch shows like Little House on the Prairie and Anne of Green Gables.  She loved anything set in the “olden days”.

When she was about ten years old, Tammy began to wonder about time travel. Her biggest wish was to end up back in the pioneer era. She wanted to go and hang out with spoiled Nellie Olsen. When asked, Tammy can’t recall why she wished for Nellie over Laura Ingalls, but thinks it may have had something to do with the fact that Nellie’s parents owned the candy shop.

Tammy realized she didn’t want to live in the 18th or 19th century because she’d miss her family too much, and also she knew she can’t live without modern comforts but wanted the freedom to travel back and forth through time.

So strong was her wish to time travel, she even dressed the part, as much as possible, without raising anyone’s suspicions. She wore dresses to school every day, when all her friends wore jeans and t-shirts. She had to be prepared just in case it worked and she was whisked through time. One summer, Tammy even begged her mom to buy her a bonnet.  She did. Tammy wore that white bonnet everywhere.  If she had ended up in Walnut Grove or Avonlea, she was ready.

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By the sixth grade she was old enough to realize that time travel probably wasn’t going to be a reality for her, so she decided that when she grew up, she’d write a book about a girl who could travel back and forth through time.

N&R: And so I guess that is where we should start. It’s obvious I don’t have to ask you how much of The Acadian Secret has you and your childhood desires in it, so, I am going to ask, what did you want to cram into this book that you managed to succeed in doing?

TL: I wanted to include the tale of the Oak Island Money Pit. It is the longest running, the most expensive, and the deadliest treasure hunt in history…and it’s right here in Canada.  The discovery of the mysterious pit, by three teen boys in 1795, is a huge storyline in The Acadian Secret.

N&R: I’m into time travel as well. Did you contemplate other ways to get your heroine across the years besides using a necklace?

TL:  It was always going to be with a quartz crystal.  I learned about the electronic wonder of a quartz crystal watch and that sent my imagination into overdrive.  I find it amazing that a crystal can send off a vibration used to measure time.  I imagined what might happen if I had a quartz crystal bigger than one in a watch. I put it on a chain and gave it to Elisabeth.

N&R: Tell us more about the beginnings of this particular tale. Where did it spring from? Were there any specific catalysts?

TL: That is hard to answer.  The Acadian Secret is almost two stories in one and you don’t know how they tie together until the very end.  In a sense, it was written in layers and woven together over several years. There was no specific catalyst.

I felt as if I was following a trail of breadcrumbs. Doing research, something unrelated would catch my attention and I knew I had to go with it. I was never sure how it would tie in, but I knew to follow my intuition.

Many curious things happened during the entire process. For example, many of my characters were real people in history. There was one young lady I needed to include in the story, but I was having trouble finding her real name. Sarah, Sarah, Sarah kept floating around my brain, so I called her Sarah, with the intention of changing her name once I discovered it in my research. When I finished writing, and I couldn’t imagine my Sarah being called anything else, I discovered her real name. It was Sarah. That gave me goose bumps.

Everything seemed to happen that way, even after I finished the manuscript. I almost fell out of my chair when I heard back from the content editor who had taken on my book.  As fate would have it, she had also spent years researching the Oak Island Money Pit and knew all about it.  She was the perfect person to help me polish The Acadian Secret.

N&R: Wow, that’s pretty interesting. Even though you have traveled to Scotland and seen the place or places like the ones described in your book, how much research was required to turn out a convincing story of the time period described?

TL: There is a lot of research involved. Not just with Scotland, but with Nova Scotia’s mysterious Oak Island Money Pit as well.  I don’t want to give twists in the plot away, but the research goes beyond Scotland.  It’s taken me years to put it all together and lay the foundation for the follow up books.

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N&R: How about giving us a short write-up on the story to entice our readers?

TL: THE ACADIAN SECRET is a Tween/YA Paranormal Action-Adventure about a young girl who can…time travel.

Here’s the tagline: Elisabeth finds she can play in the past; when bosom friends, treasure hunters and tormented alchemists are still the norm.

BACK COVER:

Elisabeth London is keeping her new friends a secret from her parents.  Not only do they live on the other side of the world in the Scottish Highlands, they lived more than three hundred and fifty years ago. Her mom and dad would never allow her to go gallivanting about seventeenth century Scotland.  They won’t even let her go to the mall by herself yet.

Twelve-year-old Elisabeth is old enough to know there is no such thing as magic, but when her quartz crystal necklace has the power to transport her back and forth in time, she no longer knows what to think.  The only thing she is certain of is that she loves spending carefree days with Quinton, the mischievous nephew of a highland warrior, and sassy little Fiona, a farmer’s daughter.

However, Elisabeth’s adventures take a deadly turn when she is charged with witchcraft.  At a time and place in history when witch-hunts were common, those found guilty were executed, children included. Elisabeth must race to find her way back home, while trying to stay one step ahead of the witch-hunter determined to see her burned at the stake.

N&R: Can you share an excerpt from the book?

TL: Sure, let me just tie on my bonnet and get into the mood.   *clears throat*

“As the afternoon sun began to travel behind the mountains, it cast an emerald glow across the glen. The valley was littered with boulders, while a small river twisted its way toward a distant forest.

Malcolm Craig was stalking his prey. He was a tall, strong man with piercing blue-green eyes, a short beard, and wild black hair that gave him a crazed look. He smelled the boar before he saw it. Talbot, his hunting dog, lunged into the brambles after the wild pig which began to grunt in anger. That was when something to the right caught his eye. A young girl lay motionless in the heather.

“What the devil?” Malcolm said as he jumped down from his horse. While still keeping his hearing attuned to Talbot and the boar, he walked over and bent to peer at her. He breathed a sigh of relief to find she was fast asleep. Malcolm scooped the sleeping girl into his arms. “You’re lucky I found you, lassie, before that beast did.”

With a sigh, she rested her head against his chest and put her arms around his neck. “Daddy…” she said in her sleep.

Malcolm laughed. “Daddy? I’m nae your daddy. No daughter of mine would be dressed like this, wandering around barefoot in the middle of…”

Elisabeth’s eyes popped open and she let out an ear-piercing scream. She bit Malcolm’s shoulder and he dropped her.

“Och, child! You bit me!”

The silence in the valley broke as Talbot howled, the boar squealed and Elisabeth jumped to her feet and wailed in horror.

“Dinnae move, lass!” Malcolm yelled to be heard over the pandemonium. He reached for his dagger. It was almost time for the kill.

The enraged boar deserted his hiding spot in the brambles and charged toward the dog, its lethal tusks ready to kill. Talbot was well-trained so, instead of turning tail and running, he danced backward, facing the pig, luring it away from his master. With the boar now in pursuit of the dog, Malcolm did what was natural to any man born and bred in the Highlands: he ran at the beast as if he were a wild animal himself. Jumping on the boar from behind, he grabbed its ear, yanked its head up and slashed its throat.

Elisabeth continued to scream. Malcolm jumped off the boar as it fell limp at his feet and cleaned the blade on the carcass before putting it away. He walked toward Elisabeth, his bloody hands held in front of him.

“Enough, lass. It’s all right now.”

Her wide eyes fixed on the enormous man dressed in a skirt. “You’ve got a knife!”

“Aye. And a sword.” He smirked as he pointed to it.

“You’re armed!”

“I’m nae going to harm you, though. I was hunting.”

“Hunting what? Little girls? Where am I?”

Not waiting for an answer, she ran from Malcolm and toward the forest, her bare feet slowing her great escape.

“That lass is completely mad,” Malcolm grumbled while rubbing the shoulder she had bitten.

Malcolm mounted his horse; he couldn’t leave the terrified girl alone out here. It wasn’t safe and would soon be dark. She would be easy enough for a blind man to find again because she hadn’t stopped screaming. For some reason, he hadn’t stopped smiling.

His black warhorse was as large and intimidating as Malcolm was, and the animal’s powerful legs kicked up tall grass and thistles as it barreled along. The sound of its hooves seemed amplified as it raced toward Elisabeth. Malcolm caught up to her. Without needing to slow his horse, he reached down, scooped her up into his arms, and placed her in the saddle in front of him.

“There. Now be a good lass. I promise, I’m nae going to hurt you.”

And with that, Elisabeth fainted.

“Well now, that certainly makes things easier,” Malcolm muttered under his breath as he wrapped her in his plaid and nudged his horse on.”

N&R: That looks great. I love your humour, it’s wonderful. Great action and descriptions, too. So, I have to ask, has Diana Gabaldon had any influence on your work?

TL: Diana Gabaldon and Karen Marie Moning have been huge influences on me. They both write fabulous Time-Travel/Scottish Highland books that I can’t put down.

I remember thinking my young son would love the adventure of their stories, but I couldn’t read them to him because they’re definitely not PG-rated. However, those authors, and Julie Garwood, made me fall in love with Scotland and want to begin Elisabeth’s journey there. It was my way of letting children fall in love with the magic of the Highlands too.

N&R: Tell us a little about your profession: Pre-schoolers—how did that happen? When did you start this career? What are your favourite ages to work with? What issues do you think our country needs to address more carefully in the instruction and care of our children? If you were in charge, what would you change?

TL: I actually run a successful daycare for teacher’s children so I am only open during the school year. I used to work for the school board with Special Needs Children, but it was never a secure job. I only had contracts for weeks at a time. About ten years ago I opened up my own business and it’s been wonderful. I have a two year wait list for spots.

I love kids of all ages, but have rock star status with the two and three year old crowd.  Kids jump into my arms in the morning and fuss when they have to go home. I’m all about playing, imagination, and teaching kindness.

What I notice the most, and would love to change, is that many kids today have less and less imagination. If I put Lego out so they can build something, half the time is spent explaining why we are going to use our imaginations and we are not going to copy the picture on the box showing how it’s “supposed” to be built. You wouldn’t believe the anxiety this causes some of them.  To me, imagination is everything.  As Albert Einstein said, “it is the preview of life’s coming attractions.”

N&R: Well said. Are you working on any new projects right now? If so, can you tell us a bit about them without giving too much away?

TL: I’m working on Elisabeth’s next adventure.  The Acadian Secret has a great ending and doesn’t leave you hanging, but it is the first of three books. I’m really excited about the next one, set in Ancient Rome.

N&R: What other things do you like to do in your spare time when you aren’t wrangling pre-schoolers, writing or traveling the world?

TL: I like to think I am a domestic goddess.*grin*

I love baking, gardening, home decorating, entertaining etc. I’m most comfortable nesting.

One thing I’ve learned from all my travels is there truly is no place like home.

N&R: I agree with you there. How supportive of your childhood fantasy is your husband, and dare I ask, teenage son?

TL: My husband and son are the best!

The three of us are extremely close-knit and will do everything to support one another’s dreams and goals. We help each other shine.

N&R: Can you share the links to your work and your own sites, please?

TL: The easiest place to find me is at http://www.tammylowe .com

I’m on FB: http://tinyurl.com/brsfrpa

The Acadian Secret is found at:

Amazon: http://tinyurl.com/ca7hk67

Amazon Canada: http://tinyurl.com/ccudxjp

B&N: http://tinyurl.com/cfruuxt

Kobo: http://tinyurl.com/c3nkg7u

MuseItUp Publishing: http://tinyurl.com/bpwgku9

iBookstore: http://tinyurl.com/ce5pudc

N&R:  Is there anything else you would like to share with our readers today?

TL:   I’d just like to thank you and everyone else for their time.  Have a great day.

N&R: Thank you so much for stopping by. We wish you well in your future endeavors, whether teaching, writing or traveling.

TL: Thanks so much for having me here today.

N&R: You are more than welcome. It has been fun and I am really looking forward to reading your book.

 

 

Interview with Author Donna Jean McDunn

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Today, Natter and Review would like to welcome author Donna Jean McDunn. Here is a short biography of our visitor.

Donna Jean McDunn lives in Iowa with her husband, four cats and two dogs. She is the mother of three daughters and the grandmother of eight. Donna enjoys spending time with her family and friends, camping, fishing, bicycle riding, listening to music and dancing. She is a third degree black belt in Songham Taekwondo and loves working out. Donna writes fiction for young adults and women in her off hours, but spends most of her days as an administrative assistant. She hopes someday to retire and write full time.

N&R: Hi Donna. Welcome to Natter and Review.  Donna is one of my new authors with MuseItUp Publishing. Today I would like to get to learn more about her world, not just as an author.

I see you have been married to the same man since you were nineteen, over forty years. That is quite the accomplishment in this day and age. To what would you attribute the success of your relationship?

DJM: We’ve had our share of ups and downs, but through it all we have always supported one another. I think that’s what has kept us together all these years. When both parties show love and put the other person’s feelings ahead of their own, it can only bring them closer.

N&R: Sounds like a good recipe for marriage.  Has the farm always been part of your married life?

DJM: We moved to the farm in 1972, when our oldest daughter was one. So, yes, I guess it has been.

N&R:  Has it been a catalyst of any stories for you?

DJM: I started writing children’s stories when my grandchildren were born, and many of the animal characters I wrote about were based on a lot of the animals we had over the years.

N&R: Looks like you’ve pursued a rather diverse number of interests in your life. What led you to study martial arts?

DJM: I had been fascinated with martial arts since I saw the Green Hornet in 1966 when I was fifteen years old. One day I saw a sign for martial arts and decided it was time to get back into some type of exercise. I gave it a try and loved it.

N&R: That’s really neat. Are you still active in that field?

DJM: Unfortunately, no. I had some medical issues and three surgeries and I just couldn’t keep up. I still pay my dues to the American Taekwondo Association (ATA), so I am a member and I work out with my weapons and practice forms at home, but I no longer teach or attend classes at the dojo. I miss working with the kids, but have kept in contact with some of them on Facebook.

N&R: That is very inspiring. Maybe some day you can get back to the classes.  I see you received a college degree at the age of 42. What did you study and what inspired you to return to school and further your education?

DJM: Until I attended college, my only jobs had been working in the restaurant business as a cook or waitress. When the place I was working at closed their doors for good, I decided to change my career and study business and computers. Computers were just becoming available for almost everyone and most businesses wanted people who could use them. The Internet was in its infancy and I was very curious about it. I am not, and never will be, a computer wiz, but I do love it. I was lucky enough to find a job, after graduating as an Administrative Assistant, with a small business that has been wonderful and taught me even more about business and computers.

N&R: Congratulations on your success. I am sure our readers would like to know all about your work. Let’s begin with your short stories. Can you tell us about them and perhaps include some excerpts?

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DJM:  Trapped is a short story about Stacie, a clairvoyant. When her sister goes missing after a tornado destroys the family business where her twin, Julie was working, everyone except Stacie thinks the tornado killed her. Stacie ‘saw’ her sister being kidnapped before the tornado ripped through the diner and has ‘seen’ where she is being held, but needs to convince her older brother—who thinks she is crazy—and his friend, to help her find where her sister is trapped before the kidnapper returns.

Here is an excerpt from Trapped which was chosen from over 100 other YA mysteries and included in an anthology Mystery Times Nine 2012, published by … http://www.buddhapussink.com/  and now available at Amazon    http://tinyurl.com/cxom7wq

“She wanted to scream at him, “Julie’s not dead! Not yet!” But he already thought she was losing it and that would only add fuel to the fire. She took a deep breath and repeated, in a calm voice, what she’d told him that morning. “Julie was not in the diner when the tornado struck.  She was taken before it happened. I saw her…”

“Here we go again with ‘seeing’ things,” Jeff interrupted. “You can’t be serious?”

“She’s my twin sister. I would know if she were dead. She needs my help.”

“Julie’s alive?” Kyle interrupted.

Startled, because she’d forgotten he was there, her stomach flipped. Well, that probably fixed any hope she’d ever had of Kyle liking her. Now he’ll think she’s nuts too.

Jeff was quick to answer him. “Stacie thinks Julie is alive.”

She stomped her foot. “I know she is. I’ve seen her.”

Jeff sighed and rubbed his forehead and then rolled his eyes. “Stacie thinks she’s psychic.”

“How do you know she isn’t?” Kyle asked.

Her mouth dropped open.

Jeff was the first to recover. “You believe in that stuff?”

Kyle shrugged. “I like to keep an open mind. I’ve never known anyone who was psychic, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. I’ve never met any astronauts either.”

The Golden Stallion is a story about Shawn. He loves living in the city, but when his family moves to a ranch, he has a hard time adjusting. Out of boredom and frustration, he begins exploring the surrounding area and discovers a herd of wild horses. A Palomino stallion is their leader and Shawn feels a deep connection to him. He keeps the discovery a secret from his family because he’s a little jealous of his little sister and believes she would destroy the magic he feels when he is with the stallion. A neighbor wants to round up the herd to find them new homes, but Shawn misunderstands and thinks they want to destroy all the horses. He soon learns that if he is going to protect the stallion and make sure the herd survives the winter, he will have to help the ranchers find the horses or risk letting them starve.

Here is an excerpt from The Golden Stallion. It can be found online at Stories That Lift… http://tinyurl.com/bt9gtn6  

“Shawn slammed the door and flopped onto his bed. He had hated the ranch from the minute his dad said they were moving. He had begged his dad to let him stay in the city with his friends Zach and Justin, but Dad said he had to live on the ranch for three months.

“You’ll love it; give it the summer,” he had said. Shawn had been certain he would prove his dad wrong.

Then early one morning, when he climbed onto a boulder to get a better look at the river below, he discovered the wild horses. The Palomino stallion stomped and reared as the mares and foals thundered past and in a magical golden swirl of dust the stallion spun around, showing off, as if he knew Shawn watched. Then he disappeared into the valley.

Shawn kept the horses and his special place a secret—especially from his little sister—Katie the Pest. A spoiled baby like Katie would ruin the magic.

And now—just when he decided he never wanted to leave—old man Harrison and Dad were trying to take it all away.

The knock on the door startled him. His dad opened it. “Shawn, I need to talk to you?”

Nothing Ventured, Nothing Gained is a story about Emma, who has been a widow for seven years and wants to start dating again, but doesn’t know how to find a date. She decides that instead of an online dating service, she could find her own date by putting an ad online and in this way, no one would ever know how she found her man. The problem begins when the ad is misunderstood by some undercover police officers and they believe she’s part of a prostitution ring. Matt Harris answers the ad. Matt and Emma are drawn to one another and he soon realizes the police have made a mistake, but it’s too late and his partner insists she be arrested. Emma is badly traumatized; she rejects Matt because she believes he betrayed her, even though her erotic dreams of him are telling her differently.

Here is an excerpt. It can be found online at Page and Spine: Fiction Showcase – The Front Page… http://tinyurl.com/cynx8ye

“He put the money on the fireplace mantle.

I didn’t know what to say. I looked from the money to him and back to the money. “Matt, I don’t think you understand.” I picked up the money and held it out to him. “I don’t…”

“That’s not enough? You’re an expensive one.”

“No,” I said, very close to tears. “I mean yes. Oh, I don’t know what I mean. Why are you acting this way?”

His eyes widened and then it was as if understanding suddenly dawned on him. He opened his mouth to speak.

Someone pounded on the door. “Police! Open up!”

It was my turn to be surprised. “You’re wanted by the police?”

He reached for the door. “No.” He pulled out a badge and flashed it at me before opening the door. “I am the police.”

I think I stopped breathing.

The officer who had beaten on the door, looked like he should have retired years ago. He crossed the room with a few quick strides. “You are under arrest, Emma Smith,” he said. “If that’s your real name.”

I glared at him. How dare he burst into my home and accuse me of…what was he accusing me of? “Of course that’s my real name. Why are you arresting me?

“For prostitution,” the older cop said.”

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N&R: Wow, they look very interesting. I definitely want to find out what happens next. This brings us to your longer work. Was Nightmares your first novel?

DJM: Yes.

N&R:  Did anything specific inspire this story?

DJM: To be completely honest, I have to admit the work began as a short story when I was in high school. It was based on an urban legend about a young couple who parked in a dark secluded area where a crazy man with a hooked hand roamed. The legend is told in two separate versions. In the first, the crazy man comes to their car and scares them; they take off and when they return home, they find his hook on the door handle of the car, And in the other version, the couple run out of gas and the boy leaves to get help, but never returns. During the night, the girl hears a scratching sound on the roof of the car. When morning arrives, the police are there and the girl gets out of the car and turns to look back at the vehicle and sees her boyfriend hanging from the tree above the car; his throat is cut and his hands are scratching the roof. In the original short story I wrote I kind of combined them, but in 2008 I took the story out and began rewriting. The result is the version you see today, which has very little resemblance to the old legends.

N&R: Very interesting. I like what you have changed it into for your novel. This has quite a paranormal flavour to it. Have you had any experiences with what could be called the ‘paranormal world’?

DJM: No, not really, but I have always loved stories about ghosts and psychics. One of the first sitcoms on television, that I remember watching, was Topper, 1953-1955. It was about a young couple and a Saint Bernard, who died in an avalanche, and came back to haunt their house where the new owner was the only one who could see and hear them. It was hilarious—or at least I thought so—but what did I know? I would have been about five or six.

N&R: I agree it was hilarious. I remember it well. Are there any challenges that need to be overcome when writing for the Young Adult?

DJM: I think there are challenges for every genre and age group, but for the Young Adult, making my characters sound like teenagers who are almost adults was a challenge. I was constantly asking myself, would an eighteen year old say that?

N&R: This story is definitely a Romance as well. When writing in the Young Adult Romance genre, what kinds of guidelines—if any—do you set for yourself?

DJM: I wanted them to come across as real teenagers with all the angst and emotions that teenagers have to deal with, but without compromising themselves in the process.

N&R: I think that is where a beta group of grandkids comes in handy. LOL. This book has all the characteristics of a paranormal “Nancy Drew” mystery. Have you thought about a series based on the characters?

DJM: I have and I’ve been working on that project for a few months now. I really love the characters I created in Nightmares and in the next book I want to share more of their lives with the reader so they get to know them like I do.

N&R:  How about sharing a little of the story, Nightmares.

DJM: Eighteen-year old Emily Preston has it all. She’s beautiful, strong and confident.  But just weeks before graduating from high school, the nightmares she’d experienced as a child, begin to plague her once more. When a mysterious voice warns that she must remember her past and accept her gift of seeing into the future in order to save her boyfriend’s life, she believes she’s losing her mind. The nightmares escalate into visions of long ago and memories begin to return. Will Emily allow herself to accept the gift or will she lose everything, including her life.

DJM: Tagline for Nightmares: Emily must accept her gift of clairvoyance and remember her past, when a psychopath returns to kill again.

Here is a short excerpt from the book.

“She knew it was too soon to expect Tony’s return, but peered into the darkness anyway. She saw her own distorted reflection in the glass. The images shifted and changed as she watched. She felt herself being drawn into the shadows until they completely dissolved. She saw the child from her nightmares lying in a bed asleep, while a terrible thunderstorm raged outside.

Lightning flashed around the room and a crack of thunder rattled the windows. The child sat up and for the first time Emily could see her face and blond hair. A dog howled and the girl’s eyes widened with fear as she scooted off the bed.

Her heart hammered inside her own chest to the same rhythm as the child’s. Emily wanted to warn the little girl to lie down and stay where she’d be safe. She wanted to tell her it was too late, she’d already run out of time.

“No!” Emily screamed when the child ran toward the window. “Don’t look.”’

N&R: Is there anything you would like to share about the world of storytelling with other up-and-coming writers?

DJM: You are never too young or too old to begin writing and I’m sure they have heard this a million times already, but it is so true…never give up.

N&R: Thank you so much for visiting today. I have enjoyed our time together and look forward to reading more of your work.

DJM: I’ve enjoyed working with you, too, and I have learned a lot from you about not only writing, but the promotional side of things too. It’s been a scary and a fun journey.

N&R: Thanks, Donna. I look forward to us working together in the future sometime soon. In the meantime, here are some links to Donna and her world:

Her blog: http://www.donnajeanmcdunn.wordpress.com

Her Facebook author page: http://www.facebook.com/DonnaJeanMcDunn   

Twitter: @02DMcDunn

MuseItUp Link to Nightmares: http://tinyurl.com/c747opc

 

Coming Soon: January 25, 2013: Connor House by J. Troy Seate

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Today, Natter and Review would like to welcome back my friend, author J. Troy Seate. Troy and I have worked on several projects for MuseItUp Publishing and I must say we have always had a great time. Here is a biography of Troy outlining some of his career.

J. T. has written everything from humour to the erotic to the macabre, and is especially keen on stories that transcend genre pigeonholing. “Although I enjoy writing in all genres, it’s the mysterious and the macabre that seem to influence the funny monkey in my brain the most. More recently, I’ve turned that monkey toward the paranormal and historical suspense/romance.” In addition to his novels and novellas, his short stories and memoirs appear in numerous magazines, newspapers, anthologies and webzines.

N&R: Hi Troy. Welcome to Natter and Review. Today we want to take a quick look at your book Connor House which is coming out on Friday. In Connor House, you step back in time to the post Civil War period in the United States, to recount a very tragic, yet equally ‘ghostly’ story. What kinds of challenges do writing historical pieces present?

JTS: Fortunately, I have a good editor to keep me on track with historical details. The Civil War era is especially interesting to me, so much so that my next novella titled A   Resting Place goes back to the very end of the conflict with another cast of spooky characters.

N&R: Yes, you’re lucky you have such a good editor. LOL OK, please tell our readers a little about the story Connor House.

JTS: Inhabited by both the living and the dead, Connor House, to be released in January of 2013, is a place where ghosts as well as humans stalk the night. This tale of the paranormal is set in Washington, D.C. and Northern Virginia ten years following the Civil War. Passion, loss, murder and mayhem all form parts of the puzzle that surround the Connors. In this historical setting, the Connors deal with their triumphs and tragedies while being influenced by powers beyond their understanding as the nation continues to recover and rebuild. Into Madeline Connor’s life befalls the tragedy of losing a daughter by suicide. The event proves to be the linchpin for many deaths to follow including the untimely demise of two husbands. As the heroine tries desperately to hold on to her sanity, while unraveling the house’s mysteries, she finds comfort in her two sons and her sister who help Madeline bear the burden of loss. There are many questions to be answered inside the walls of Connor House, and although the house outlives its residents, it is not until the wrecking ball takes it down that the final secret is revealed.

N&R: How about a tiny taste from Connor House to whet the appetites of our readers and leave them wanting more.

JTS: “Madeline hadn’t believed life’s prospects could be more dismal than during the war with the constant parade of soldiers and equipment going south, and a fraction of that number returning on foot or in wagons like broken dolls, with the Angel of Death along for the ride. Some were wounded, some diseased, their once shiny buttons tarnished and dirty with little left of the rebellion, only hollow victories and inconsolable regrets.

The entire Connor family had survived—until now. Madeline’s eldest had chosen to take her own life. This was not how things were supposed to be, but there was no power on earth that could rewrite history. Would that she could close her eyes and spin the world back before the war, to undo the tapestry woven fifteen years earlier, and give mankind another chance to embrace the concept of the words President Lincoln spoke during his second presidential inauguration, “With malice towards none, with charity toward all…” In this new reality, Madeline would have talked to her daughter each day and night, and yes, each morning when she awoke, to chase away any demon that might be festering within Mary’s mind. Too late now. Oh God, too late.”

N&R: Wow. Very nice. Thanks for stopping by Troy. See you again very soon.

The work of J. Troy Seate can be found at the following links. Right now MuseItUp Publishing has a special deal on for this book. When you buy it directly from them, you will receive a copy of Troy’s work, Something About Sara, another paranormal story. Be sure to check this deal out at this link: http://tinyurl.com/afkcdod

www.melange-books.com, and www.whispershome.com in addition to this website and my personal website, www.vlmurray.ca  See more on www.troyseateauthor.webs.com or at amazon.com.  And also online with MuseItUp Publishing at http://museituppublishing.com/

You can follow Troy on his author page above, on amazon under Troy Seate, Jay Seate, or J. Troy Seate. On Facebook at Jay Troy Seate, or contact him directly at troyseate@hotmail.com.

Interview with Author SS Hampton, Sr.

Greetings everyone and welcome to Natter and Review!

Today, our very special guest is Stan Hampton, Sr., a prolific writer and U.S. Army veteran.

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N&R: Welcome to Natter and Review. Can you tell our readers a bit about yourself, please, and where the above photo of you was taken?

SH: Hello. My name is Stan, though I write under the name of SS Hampton, Sr. I am a full-blood Choctaw of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, a divorced grandfather to 13 grandchildren, and a veteran of Operations Noble Eagle (2004-2006) and Iraqi Freedom (2006-2007). I served in the active duty Army (1974-1985), the Army Individual Ready Reserve (1985-1995) (mobilized for the Persian Gulf War), and enlisted in the Army National Guard in October 2004. I was mobilized for active duty for almost three years after my enlistment. I continue to serve in the Guard, where I hold the rank of staff sergeant.

I am a published photographer and photojournalist, an aspiring painter, and studying for a degree in photography, with an additional degree in anthropology—hopefully to someday work in underwater archaeology. I have wanted to be a writer since I was 15 years old. My first short story was published in 1992, after which it wasn’t until 2001 that another short story was published. My writings have appeared as stand-alone stories, and in anthologies from Dark Opus Press, Edge Science Fiction & Fantasy, Melange Books, Musa Publishing, MuseItUp Publishing, Ravenous Romance, and as stand-alone stories in Horror Bound Magazine, Ruthie’s Club, Lucrezia Magazine, The Harrow, and River Walk Journal, among others. As of December 2011, I became the latest homeless Iraq war veteran in Las Vegas, Nevada.

The photograph was taken at the Great Ziggurat of Ur, in Sumeria (Tallil AFB, Iraq). I was at the Great Ziggurat because we were about 30 days away from going back home, I wanted a little extra time to decide whether to stay in the Guard, so for a writer, what better place to do a 1-year extension than in Sumeria, where writing was invented?

N&R: Wow, you sound like you have had quite the busy life. We will come back to a couple of things later. How did you get into writing? Was there a specific catalyst?

SH: This is a difficult question. I am not sure I can remember that far back. I have always enjoyed reading, whether non-fiction or fiction books, or magazines. My first creative urge (and life-long interest) came about when I saw a news clip of a photographer photographing a swimsuit model dancing on a beach. My second creative urge was photojournalism, before I became interested in fiction writing. That is probably because I grew up during the Vietnam War, and I remember the many covers and photojournalism articles in Time, Newsweek, and Life magazines. The old saying that “a picture is worth a thousand words” really is true. Somehow all of that led to my interest in, and love of, telling stories.

N&R: I am a child of that time period as well, I remember the pictures you are talking about and certainly the television coverage of the Vietnam War.

Can you tell us a bit about some of your stories and maybe give us some excerpts?

SH: I have always had a strong military aspect to most of my stories, and that became more pronounced after my deployment to northern Kuwait, a mile south of the Iraqi border, in 2006-2007. “Better Than a Rabbit’s Foot” (MuseItUp Publishing), was one of my earlier  efforts after our return home. Experience is far more informative than theory—I learned first-hand how important loved ones back home, mail call, and lucky charms are to Soldiers deployed in a war zone. Unfortunately, I also learned how sobering the death of a fellow Soldier is, and the sense of loss that impacts everyone.

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Better Than a Rabbit’s Foot (MuseItUp Publishing)

Sergeant Jerry Stanton is a young soldier serving in the War in Iraq. He is a gunner on a gun truck nicknamed “Lucky Bear,” one of those tireless workhorses that escort supply convoys from camps in Kuwait to destinations scattered throughout the war-torn country. In the early morning hours before a scheduled mission, a dust storm howls across his camp and threatens to bring convoy operations to a halt. Worse, the camp receives word that a gunner from his company was killed by an IED while on a convoy mission. Unlike most soldiers, Jerry doesn’t carry a lucky charm, but upon receiving news of the death of the gunner, he begins to mull over/ponder the merit/virtue of a good luck charm—only, what would work for him? Perhaps mail call will provide the answer.

EXCERPT: “People like a happy ending.”

Sergeant Jerry Stanton, an M4 Carbine slung across his chest, glanced at the dark form that trudged alongside him in the hot, early morning darkness. It was all the darker for the dust storm howling across the small camp, a dusty and sandy convoy support center, CSC, a mile south of the Iraqi border. He placed his hand over the tall styrofoam coffee cup from the mess hall that was open at all hours to serve those about to head out on a mission. He felt the itchy dust filtering down his back, along his arms, and coating his fingers.

In spite of his short time deployed to Kuwait, he had learned that dust storms were worse than sand storms; they were hot and itchy while the sand storms stung exposed skin and chilled the air. Breakfast was good but tasted flat, more due to the question of whether their mission would be a go or no-go because of the storm that roared out of the midnight darkness hours before.

“What?”

“People like a happy ending,” the soldier repeated. He was a gunner from another gun truck as the squat, venerable M1114 HMMWVs, which were never meant to be combat vehicles, were called. He held up a rabbit foot that spun frantically in the wind and added, “I like a happy ending.  Especially now.” They rounded the corner of a small building, actually a renovated mobile home trailer with a covered wooden porch lit by a bare electric bulb. The gunner pointed to a small black flag, suspended from a log overhang, flapping furiously in the wind.

“Oh shit.” Jerry sighed as a cold chill raced through him.

“It’s been there for an hour or so,” the soldier said as he enclosed the rabbit’s foot within both hands and brought it up to his lips as if to kiss it. He glanced at Jerry. “I’m not superstitious, but still, I mean, there’s nothing wrong with having a lucky charm. You know?”

“Yeah.” Jerry nodded as he watched the twisting flag. “I know.”

The soldier looked once more at the black flag and then walked toward the shower and restroom trailers beyond which were the air-conditioned sleeping tents they called home…

Here’s a link to that story. http://tinyurl.com/a8q4zc5

“The Gates of Moses” (Melange Books) came about in part because I have always wanted to visit Venice, Italy. I almost made it there during the two week Rest & Recreation leave that most deployed Soldiers receive. I had to return home due to family issues, though. But the legend of Atlantis, the rising of the Adriatic Sea, and the subsidence of the northern coast of the Adriatic where Venice is located, gave me the idea for this story. Of course, I threw in a succubus, too—that seemed like a given for a story located in such a timeless, dream-like city as Venice.

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The Gates of Moses (Melange Books)

An engineer dedicated to saving Venice from the rising seas, fails in his task. As a severe storm and high tides threaten to burst through the flood walls, he resolves to remain in Venice with a ghostly lover who claimed his heart years before. A woman from his staff who loves him, does not evacuate, but remains to battle his ghostly lover before he dies in a sinking Venice…

EXCERPT: The dull booms, like the measured beats of a primeval heart, echoed through the gray drizzling afternoon. Each boom was a countdown to a finely predicted cataclysm that man, through his mistaken notion that he could control nature, had finally admitted that he was powerless to hold back.

Dr. Gregorio Romano, tall, with dark brown hair and watchful hazel eyes, stood before the open tall narrow window of his corner office in the ornate, gilded Ducal Palace of the once La Serenissima Repubblica di Venezia, the Most Serene Republic of Venice, and peered into the gray drizzle toward the unseen barrier islands. The almost submerged islands of Lido and Pellestrina, with their channels opening onto the Adriatic Sea, formed the southeastern perimeter of the timeless Venetian lagoon. He listened to the echoing booms of the rising, stormy Adriatic, and thought of a mythical, prehistoric mother who gave birth to an imaginative species that dreamed of the impossible and often made it happen. And now the mother was ready to take back one of the greatest dreams of her children, ready to clasp it deep within her bosom.

“Gregorio?”

“Yes,” he replied as he gazed at the gray choppy waters of the lagoon.

“Have you reconsidered? Are you ready to evacuate?”

“Not yet.” Gregorio tilted his head slightly as a sleek dark gondola glided effortlessly across frothy, white-capped waters and halted before the flooded wharf, the Riva degli Schiavoni, in front of the Palace.

Patrizia Celentano, the first and last female gondolier of Venice, looked up at him and gave a friendly wave. He raised a hand in return. Her gondola was a traditionally built and shaped boat, but rather than the traditional black as required by law, she painted it a dark wine color. Though she offered to erect a shelter to protect Gregorio from the elements, he always preferred to ride in the open.

“We can evacuate you by force if necessary.”

“You won’t,” Gregorio smiled as he turned to face his computer on the polished wooden desk. The broad, bearded face of his boss, Dr. Niccolo Ricci, nodded in agreement. “There’s no need, and a helicopter is scheduled to pick me up from the roof of my home tomorrow morning at 0600 hours.”

“The calculations might be incorrect. The gates could break tonight…”

Here’s a link to the story. http://tinyurl.com/bhoysld

 

“The Ferryman” (Melange Books) came about due to my interest in Greek mythology; as to how I developed the idea and events that tempt Charon the Ferryman to abandon his appointed post, I can’t remember. But the research and writing was fun.

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The Ferryman (Melange Books)

Sometimes even a servant of the gods may become curious and intrigued by other possibilities beyond their assigned role, which threatens to upset everything. Charon the Ferryman witnessed an act of love when a little girl offered him a song bird to pay for her grandfather’s shade to be ferried across the Styx. And the shade of a barbarian woman taught him that there was more than the underworld…

EXCERPT: Strong sunlight faded to a pale shadow of itself as if drained of life to create deep shadows along the sloping floor and the uneven walls of the long cavern entrance. Long, narrow stalactites hung from the cavern roof and stalagmites of various heights and thicknesses angled upward from the floor, resembling the scattered, uneven teeth of a monstrous dragon’s mouth. Flowstone along the widening cavern walls had once oozed onto the cavern floor to form rolling stone waves that became a wide, sandy beach to disappear into the shadows.

The cavern roof arched upward, lost to sight save for the pale tips of hanging stalactites. The scattered stalagmites marched into the rippling surface of dark waters. A thick gray mist coated the water that splashed onto the beach. The mist swirled into strange formations caused by a moaning, chilly wind that swept out of the darkness and up the long tunnel.

From deep within the darkness of the gigantic cavern came the ghostly notes of pipes and the echoing steady rhythmic beat of a drum. Torches along the beach burst into flickering life as their flames danced to the ghostly rhythm of the pipes.

The torchlight revealed pale shades, the spirits, of weeping men, women, and children, who shuffled through the sand along the edge of the waters of the River Styx. The river was one of the dark rivers of Hades, the underworld of the dead. The sunlight filtering into the cavern rippled with the shadows of weeping shades descending the length of the cavern entrance. A gilded figure with torch held high lit the way before them.

The music grew louder. A dark shape, lighter than the darkness, appeared in the distance. The gathering shades milled at the water’s edge and waited as the bow of a boat fitted with a bronze beak sliced through the misty waters. A large red eye rimmed in black decorated each side of the polished wood bow. On both sides of the bow square wooden boxes dangled bronze anchors. Behind that lay a narrow platform from a tall, narrow, wooden walkway rose into the chill air. An angled black bow sail and a large black square sail behind it strained with the moaning wind…

Here’s the link. http://tinyurl.com/a2ac953

N&R: Those sound like some very interesting stories. I have a feeling my husband would really like some of them, as well.

Can you tell us a little about what you enjoy about writing and what you are working on now?

SH: Well, let’s see, I have wanted to be a writer most of my life. I do enjoy the research and the writing that goes into story telling. I enjoy telling stories. Editing—well, that’s another matter. I guess it is just as much the journey as the destination.  As for what I am working on now? Well, I had “writer’s block” for six months, but I think that is over now. So, I am editing a story about a vampire on the loose in the old American West, and the American Indian who must battle the vampire. And then, there’s the story of a haunted German Tiger tank in North Africa during World War II. Finally, there’s a story of a scientific expedition stranded on a dying the Earth.

N&R: Sounds good. Let me know when they are published and available for the rest of us to read. Okay, Stan, I’d like to go back to something you said at the very beginning. You mentioned being homeless. Can you elaborate on that please and tell us what happened to bring this about? I would certainly like to know how you are making out, where you live and what is happening in your life right now. As a Canadian, I am always interested to know how other countries treat their veterans. Most governments don’t have the greatest records and we, as citizens, need to step up to the plate in more cases than we do.

SH: Well, I’m unemployed and have been for some time, and I finally ran out of money. I choose not to live with my kids and their families. Courtesy of a friend, I went to the Veterans Administration for assistance, and learned of a program administered by a non-profit organization on behalf of the VA. I am now in a 2-year program for homeless veterans, and I reside in a 1-man efficiency in a small barracks-style apartment complex. For me it’s a way to get back on my feet financially. Courtesy of the VA, again, I’m also taking part in a new education program where I have an opportunity to obtain a degree in Photography—combined with my lengthy experience in photography and writing, this may be a chance to develop an income as a freelance photographer and photojournalist. (I’ve also studied anthropology, and if I’m very lucky, I might obtain a degree in Anthropology in the next year.) At least a degree in photography is an opportunity, especially since here in Vegas where I can’t even find a job sweeping and mopping floors, and picking up cigarette butts.

N&R: So basically you’ve spent your whole life being there in the service of your country and this is what all that has gotten you. I hate to say it, but that seems to be the way it is around the world. Here too. I am so sorry you are going through all of this, but I am very glad that you were able to get some help and the VA had a program to assist you. I am really looking forward to reading your work and I ask that you keep in touch with me and let me know how things are doing.

Stan, thank you so much for dropping by, and giving us an opportunity to learn more about you and your work. We will be thinking about you and praying for your success in the very near future.

SH: Thank you for having me visit today.

To my readers, if ever a guy needed support, this is the one. Please buy his books from the publishers who put them out. That is always the best way for the authors to get their royalties.

You can contact Stan through this blog. Please leave a note in the comment section and your message will be forwarded to him.