Ann will be awarding a $25 Amazon GC to a randomly drawn commenter during the tour.
What or who inspired you to start writing?
I was reaching a burn-out point in a stressful job and complaining. My husband suggested I take a year off and write a book. I looked at him like he was a slavering two-headed dinosaur. Then I smiled. What an outrageous but wonderful idea. I’ve been happily writing ever since.
How did you come up with the ideas for your books?
My previous work in mental health was a veritable stew pot of juicy topics. It gave me close familiarity with a variety of internal and external stressors that lend credulity to my characters’ profiles. As to settings and time periods, I’m often inspired by something visual, like the colors of a beautiful painting, or a gorgeous ball gown from an earlier time period. I wonder about the woman who wore such a dress; what her life might have been like. In Eliza, I was inspired by the forests and prairie of central Minnesota and set Eliza’s story there.
As far as your writing goes, what are your future plans?
I plan to continue writing. Why stop when I’m having so much fun?
If you could be one of the characters from any of your books, who would it be and why?
Will Heaton in Eliza. I am simply drawn to a quiet, single-minded, successful man—a man who is comfortable in his own skin—a man who is powerful, strong and confident and still has a flipside to his nature that is equally tender, sweet and caring.
Do you belong to a critique group? If so how does this help or hinder your writing?
Not just one writing group, but two. Their professional insight, honesty and support is invaluable. In a remarkable way, someone in the group will pick out a particular weakness in a scene I had similar doubts about but never consciously addressed. Whatever drawbacks there might be to a group, and I’ve encountered few, are far overshadowed by all the benefits to be gained. In the end though, I evaluate all their comments and make the final decision on what works best.
When did you first decide to submit your work?
I wrote my first book, entitled Amaryllis, in a year’s time and in a total vacuum. This was in 1999. No one read it but me. When it was complete, I sent it out to publishers. Within weeks, I had a score of very polite rejections. I am currently reworking that story.
Do you outline your books or just start writing?
Outline, absolutely. I like a roadmap, at least a general idea where I start at A, meander a bit, and end up at Z. Actually, I like knowing the big, big scene at the end then I work backwards to fill in the middle. Must be something weird with me. Sometimes I read the beginning of a book then flip to the end. If the ending pleases me, I go back and read the middle.
What is the best and worst writing advice you ever received?
The best writing advice received is: Keep on writing. To that end, I set aside time every day, even if it’s only thirty minutes to write, plot, research or develop character profiles. The worst writing advice: Hmmm. I honestly can’t think of any. If someone makes a suggestion, I consider it. If it doesn’t fit with my character’s personality, the plot, or if it doesn’t work for me as a writer, I discard the suggestion.
Can you tell us a little about the black moment in your book?
Eliza’s black moment occurs when her newspaper business is destroyed by her enemy. She is without an income, totally alone, has lost the support of Will Heaton, a man she secretly loves, and knows at any moment, her crazy, mean husband is about to show up. And then what? Nothing good can come out of those two meeting again.
What is your favorite reality show?
Project Runway. I love seeing what creative clothes these designers concoct. They’re so resourceful and inventive. My particular favorite show was when the designers had to create an outfit from items purchased at a pet store.
This interview was a hoot, Christine. Thanks for the chance to gab. And happy reading!
A husband who wants you dead is the greatest motivation for change.
Posing as a widow, strong-willed Eliza Danton flees her marriage determined to bury the past and live a solitary life. Traveling by riverboat to the Minnesota frontier, her flight turns perilous when forces threaten to expose her deception. With problems mounting and her trust shattered, she is forced draw upon her only resource, a man whose captivating presence rocks the very foundation of her well laid plans. But love flourishes even in the toughest of times and when you least expect it.
Attorney and contented loner, Will Heaton hides his tender heart behind an elusive facade. Grief is nothing new to him having lost a wife and child. But when a pretty widow thrusts a baby into his arms, he’s hooked. When he sees Eliza harassed by the same man he believes killed his wife, Will grabs at the chance to redress past mistakes and vows to keep her safe.
Elizabeth Douglas couldn’t think of a better incentive than a husband who wanted her dead. Thus inspired, she packed a bag, changed her name and now gripped the handrail of the Northstar as it shimmied up the Ohio. Despite the warm air, she shivered. Abe would look for her as certain as the glistening blades of the paddlewheel churned the muddied water. When a man loses his greatest possession he himself becomes possessed.
‘If you ever leave me, I’ll kill you,’ he’d promised.
She didn’t intend to die, at least not yet.
Startled to hear someone call her new name, she spun toward the voice. She brushed a hand over the black silk crepe of her widow weeds, loathing the dress and the deception.
Against a backdrop of Pittsburgh’s receding factories Reverend Vernon Deeds minced around the thinning crowd on the ship’s deck. One arm clutched a chubby baby to his chest the other hand tugged a small lad behind him. Flushed, Vernon dropped the boy’s hand and pulled a crisply folded handkerchief from his coat pocket. He mopped his beaded brow. “Who would have thought June could be so muggy?”
I laughed when my husband suggested I write a book. Me? What did I know about writing? Yet the notion held possibility, so I hatched a plan. A year later, I sent off my first completed manuscript and promptly received a score of polite rejections. Bruised but undaunted, I forged ahead, new plan in hand. Later, armed with the knowledge acquired from writing classes, seminars and the help of fellow writers, I finished my second story. Eliza is that story.
A little more info…
I grew up in Minnesota. In college, I studied psychology and earned a master’s degree in Social Work. After living in Chicago, Minneapolis, Portland and Reno, my husband and I make our home only miles from where I grew up.
I worked in the field of mental health as a psychiatric social worker, administrator and later settled into private practice. Retired at a reasonably young age, I write full time.
I’m an avid reader, a foodie and cook, a crossword puzzle fanatic and a daily walker.
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