Thursday’s Throwback with Donna Schlachter

Interview, Excerpt and Giveaway!

Question for random drawing: Where would be your choice for a romantic honeymoon?

Leave a comment to enter a random drawing for a print (US only) or ebook copy of Cactus Lil and the City Slicker


Excerpt:

A rough-and-tumble cowgirl longs for true love but is afraid to let down her prickly exterior when a city slicker from New York City, with less-than-honorable intentions, tries to win her heart and her hand.

Double D Ranch

Near Cave Creek, Arizona Territory, 1885

Chapter 1

Sally Jo sank to the ground beneath the pain of her wrenched ankle. “Drat. I simply cannot walk one more step in these infernal boots.”

Thomas Peabody, broad of shoulders and narrow of waist, knelt beside her, cupping her aching foot in hands more accustomed to roping steers or shooting the eye out of a gnat at a hundred yards. “Miss Sally, allow me to assist you.”

Sally Jo stared into his eyes. Why hadn’t she ever noticed they matched perfectly the color of the summer sky? “Why, Mr. Peabody, you’re most gallant.”

He straightened, reached a hand toward her, and pulled her to her feet. When she tried to put weight on her aching foot, a jab of pain like a hot poker shot through her, and she collapsed into his arms.

Right where she wanted to be.

He pulled her near, and she closed her eyes, offering her mouth to him. Greedily, as though drawing his very life essence from her, he covered her lips with his own. When she thought she would suffocate, she opened her eyes, and saw mirrored what her racing heart telegraphed to her own mind: this was love.

Lily Duncan surveyed the words written on the page as she chewed the end of her fountain pen. Ink blotches on her fingers attested to her hard work this morning. A clicking sound like a metronome tickled at the periphery of her hearing while she considered whether she needed to change the word telegraphed to something more ooshy-gooshy romantic.

Tsick-tsick-tssiicckk.

She tipped her head to listen. What was that sound?

Lily tossed her pen on the desk and glanced at the silver clock resting on the leather-topped surface. Time was running out. She had less than two hours to finish this story and get it on the last mail stage of the day. That snooty editor, Mr. Hogan, in New York, was waiting for it.

Not that she knew for certain he was snooty. Truth was, she didn’t know anything about him. 

She’d only met him through correspondence, so he could be any age, any degree of pretentiousness, any color for that matter.

But that didn’t stop her creating an image in her mind: middle-aged, a monocle, oiled hair parted down the middle and slicked back, muttonchop sideburns, and a beard, of course. A house on Fifth Avenue, a society wife, private carriage, servants, and twelve children. At least.

She sighed. Thinking about all the reasons why she didn’t like the man responsible for buying her stories to publish in his fancy eastern magazine wasn’t going to get the story written. Or mailed.

Tsick-tsick-tssiicckk.

She pushed back from the desk. What she’d written would have to do. She couldn’t work with such a racket. She stepped to the window and listened. Not coming from the front. Must be out back. She crossed the bedroom-turned-office to the window facing the rear of the house.

This view was much more utilitarian than the rolling desert and giant saguaros surrounding the house on the other three sides. A small barn for her three horses, a hen house, corral, and privy filled her line of vision.

Tsick-tsick-tssiicckk.

Yes, this is where the sound came from.

And she knew its exact origin.

Lily hefted the Colt .38 on her hip. She’d take care of that she-rattler right now. She strode to the back door and stepped into the late afternoon heat of the desert.

The musky smell of mesquite, heated by the sun, filled her nose as she paused on the doorstep. How she loved the desert. She couldn’t imagine living anywhere else. 

Certainly not a place like New York City. No way. Give her cactus and rocks, cattle and dipping tanks, horses and leather any day. Unlike her heroines, she wouldn’t darken the doorway of a town bigger than Cave Creek. And she sure wouldn’t fall for the first man who looked at her twice.

Not that many men looked at her even once. She wasn’t ugly. At least, not ugly like a javelina, with its short bristly hide and snarling tusks. And not ugly like a turkey vulture, with its naked head and red eyes.

She preferred men’s dungarees to skirts. She wasn’t much practiced at cooking and cleaning. But she could outshoot, outride, and outsmart most men she knew.

Which was probably why most men didn’t take a second look at her.

Lily neared the woodpile. She’d been meaning to clean that mess up, sweep out the old tinder from the previous year. Even prop the wood up on a couple of timbers to discourage snakes and other varmints wanting to find a warm place to spend the night. But her best range cow had a difficult birth, and her horses needed shoeing, and the hole in the roof . . . 

Too much work for one person. Not enough hours in the day to get everything done. What had she been thinking when she started writing?

An escape, that’s what. Something to while away the long evenings. 

Tsick-tsick-tssiicckk.

She pulled on a pair of leather gloves and tipped her head to one side. If she didn’t get that low-down, no-good rattler out soon, there’d be a passel of little ones slithering around.

She glanced toward the horizon. The sun dropped like a lead sinker as though intent on ensuring she missed her deadline to get that story mailed today. 

And she sure didn’t need Mr. Persnickety Hogan upset that her latest installment of Love in the Wild Wild West wasn’t on time.


Get to know Donna

Cactus Lil came about as the result of a long-standing friendship, a step-mother who I dearly loved, and a desert oasis I longed to write about. Mary Davis, a good friend, contacted me because I’d worked with her on a previous romance collection, wanting to know if I was interested in another, and I said yes. My step-mom and my dad loved Cave Creek, Arizona, and got married in a little chapel in town there, and I wanted to set a book there because I love the town, too. Being a writer with a pen name, I thought it might be neat to have my main character write under a pseudonym, too.

As with most of my books, my main character, Lily Duncan, is slightly autobiographical. She is strong and independent—or so she thinks—but she also recognizes something is missing in her life. I think readers will connect with the deep longing in her heart.

As for my hero, Peter Golding is named after a chemistry professor I had in college. To be honest, I was a little afraid of him—he seemed so unapproachable. But as the semester went on, I found out he had an incredible sense of humor along with a good dose of an inflated opinion of his own self-worth. My Peter comes west to “rescue” Miss Daisy Duncan from this western backwater of Arizona Territory and whisk her off to the City. Boy, does he have a thing or two to learn!

Writing a romance is challenging for me for two reasons: as a suspense writer, I tend to have three or four subplots going on at the same time, but novellas just don’t have the word count to support that. At the same time, I want to intrigue my readers to keep them guessing, so at least a small subplot is imperative.

The other thing is I must be certain that the hero doesn’t simply come in and save the heroine. Writing a strong female character helps with that, but I don’t want my male character to look weak, either. He has to have certain abilities that will help him save the day at least once. 

Getting to the romance can also be a challenge. There must be a reason why these two get together. It’s why we read romance, right? One reviewer said she couldn’t understand why my characters ended up falling in love. We must keep in mind that people in the 1880’s wed for different reasons. Their courtship—if there even was one—looked different than today. For Lily and Peter, they wrote about love and published love stories, but had never been in love. Yet they were drawn to this other person who was completely unlike them and whose life goals were completely different. I think this is a picture of what God does in our own lives. If we were whole, we wouldn’t need Him, and we wouldn’t need a spouse. Yet the combination of our differences makes us whole as a couple, and when we use our passions, experiences, and talents for Him, we are complete in Him.


About Donna

Donna writes historical and contemporary mysteries, and has been published more than 50 times in novellas, full-length novels, and non-fiction books. She is a member of several writing communities; facilitates a critique group; teaches writing classes; ghostwrites; edits; blogs regularly; and judges in writing contests. She lives in Denver with her husband and two cats, finding mysteries wherever she travels. You can find her books on Amazon under both her name and that of her former pen name, Leeann Betts.

www.HiStoryThruTheAges.wordpress.com

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Friday’s Feature with Marilyn Turk

Interview and Giveaway

See details below

Abigail’s Secret

by Marilyn Turk

Newly widowed mother Abby Baker goes home to Hope Harbor to help her ailing mother and restart her life. Weighed down by grief and fear of failure, she wishes she had the strength of her grandmother, who raised a young child alone while taking on the role of lighthouse keeper after her husband drowned. What was the secret of Granny Abigail’s strength?

Carson Stevens is a lighthouse enthusiast who has bought the deteriorating Hope Island lighthouse to restore it and turn it into a bed-and-breakfast. When he meets Abby, he wants the attractive granddaughter of the former keepers to be part of the restoration.

As Abby and Carson work together, they uncover clues to a family secret that threatens to change Abby’s life forever. But someone is trying to sabotage their efforts at restoration. Is the saboteur trying to keep something from being found?

Interview

Theresa: Thank you for being here today Marilyn and for sharing your new release with us. Tell us about your favorite character in your new book.

Marilyn: My favorite character in the book, and I hope I won’t hurt the other characters’ feelings, is probably Abigail, the grandmother, a widow with a small child during during WWII, who takes her husband’s place as a lighthouse keeper, and shows us what life was like during that time period.

Theresa: I love lighthouses but I can’t imagine running one alone! How much of yourself do you put into your books?

Marilyn: I think there are often parts of my own experiences in the lives of my characters. After all, I can show how the character felt because I felt that way myself.

Theresa: That’s so true! Sometimes, I think a parts of us seeps into our characters without us even realizing it. What is your favorite genre of book to read?

Marilyn: I read Christian historical fiction and write in the same genre. Abigail’s Secret is different than anything I’ve ever written because there was a contemporary story going on at the same time as the historical one. I didn’t know I could write contemporary until I did it!

Theresa: That is awesome! And sounds hard! Who are some of your favorite authors?

Marilyn: Because I like Christian historical fiction, my favorite authors write in that genre. I love Ann Tatlock, Melanie Dobson, Lynn Austin, Tamera Alexander, Kim Vogel Sawyer, Lisa Wingate and Suzanne Woods Fisher.

Theresa: That’s an impressive list of amazing authors! How important do you feel reviews are to authors?

Marilyn: Reviews are critical to a book’s success. People want to know why someone else liked or disliked a book before they buy it, and naturally, the better the review, the more good reviews, the better it is for the book (and author).

Theresa: That is so true! We do love our good reviews!

Win a copy of Abigail’s Secret!

Comment below for a chance to win a copy of Abigail’s Secret! One winner will be chosen. Winner may choose print or e-book. Giveaway ends on 8/28/20. Winner will be notified via email.


About Marilyn

Marilyn Turk sees the miraculous creation of God in everyday life. As a writer, she tries to capture His truths through her historical novels and heartfelt devotions. She loves to encourage people to find their strengths and develop their God-given gifts, a message she shares when she speaks to audiences. She and her husband, avid lighthouse enthusiasts, have visited over 100 lighthouses, and her popular lighthouse blog features true lighthouse stories. In her spare time, she enjoys boating and fishing, taking walks or playing tennis.

Find Marilyn online:

Social Media Links:

Website: www.pathwayheart.com

Facebook: Marilyn.turk.9

Twitter: @Marilynturk

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/bluewaterbayou/

Wednesday’s Writer with Molly Jebber

Today I have Molly Jebber on my blog. Molly has a new series coming out January 31st. If you love Amish fiction you’ll want to keep reading. Molly is here to answer a few questions so we can get to know a little about the author behind the story.

Welcome, Molly!

When you were young, did you ever see writing as a career or full-time profession?

No, because I didn’t think I’d have time while working a full-time job. But I always wanted to write a story and publish it. I kept this a secret from my family and friends. Then I shared it with my husband one day, and he said, “Quit your job, and do it! I prayed about it, and the doors flew open. So, I did!”

Out of all the characters you’ve written about, is there one that is your favorite?

Liza in “Liza’s Second Chance” releasing in stores and EBook January 31, 2018 is my favorite right now. She’s a widow, and you find out a secret about her past. The secret tells you a lot about her insecurities, strengths, compassion. I like the way she tackles what I’ve thrown at her. God always teaches me something as I write about my characters. Liza’s slow to pass judgement, and she’s willing to go the extra mile for a stranger. I help others, but I could do more.

I’m reminded of Philippians 4:13. “I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me.” I love this verse.

Have you ever won any awards for your writing?

I won Desert Rose RWA’s Golden Quill Award for “Grace’s Forgiveness” in 2017 in the inspirational romance category. I love the marbled plaque and golden quill pin I was given.

Do you have a special place where you like to write?

I love to write at the pool or beach. I ask God to guide me in shaping my characters, and then the ideas flow. The waves rush in and out and create a calm atmosphere. We have a Blue Heron in our area who joins me once in a while. He’s a good listener when I need to bounce an idea off of him.

Have you ever received a rejection?

Let’s just say, I could’ve wallpapered my house with them before I had attended enough classes and sent out my first story too early! Also, some agents wrote why they were rejecting the story, and their comments taught me some valuable lessons about writing.

What is one piece of advice you’d give to an unpublished writer?

Join a writer’s group near you. If you don’t have one within a reasonable distance, attend RWA or ACFW’s big conference where you can attend classes to learn how to write good fiction, connect with authors willing to give advice, and meet with agents and publishers.

Do you take time to plot and outline your books? Or do you like to write by the seat of your pants?

My agent and editor-in-chief both require a detailed outline for each book. I couldn’t write a book without doing this. The outline keeps me focused. I do make some changes, as I write the story.

Do you ever talk about your next project or do you like to keep it a secret?

I only share my next project with my critique partners.

How long does it take you to write a book?

Eight months, because I’m also a speaker.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

I love: going to church, Bible studies, movies, hanging out with my husband, Ed, lunch/dinner/shopping/or to a craft class with Misty, my daughter or friends. I love to play card or board games, sightseeing, walking on the beach, crocheting, and playing golf. I have a fitness routine at a gym, but I wouldn’t say it’s my favorite! LOL

Where do you get your ideas for your books?

I pray about my stories, and then my mind overflows with ideas each time I’m ready for a new story. The Amish communities we visit are fun, and I can’t wait to use each of them as a location for each book. I find this one of the best parts about writing.

Is there a message in your book you hope readers will relate to?

Yes, I want them to understand the Amish are much like us with some of the same insecurities and flaws. I also want to entertain my reader with heroine and hero she can root for and enjoy the story.

Do you have a particular author whose work inspires you?

I’ve always been a fan of Shelly Shephard Gray. She’s a talented and respected author. She’s also kind, gracious, and genuine.

What kinds of research do you do for your books?

I visit Amish communities, and I talk with the women, and my husband, Ed, speaks with the men to learn more about their lifestyle. I read their newspaper, and I have researched their history, Amish laws, rules, etc.

Do you have a full-time day job? If so, how do you find time to write?

My background is Director, Regulatory Affairs for Patient Research for four hospitals, and I worked as a Contract Manager for Commercial Design/Build Firm. I also owned a Resume Business, which was meant to be part-time and allow for writing. When the business turned into full-time, I quit at the request of my husband, Ed, and now I write full-time. He is my best supporter and encourager.


Blurb for LIZA’S SECOND CHANCE/FIRST BOOK IN MY AMISH CHARM BAKERY SERIES – RELEASING JANUARY 31, 2018 IN STORES AND IN EBOOK. FOR A FULL LIST OF MY BOOKS, PLEASE VISIT http://www.mollyjebber.com

The sweet welcome of straight-from-the-oven sugar cookies and hot cocoa. The warm invitation of apple pie and fresh cold milk. In 1912 Ohio, the Amish Charm Bakery is the heart of a close-knit, faith-nourished community, where people can find a refuge, a place to start again—and love that can make their lives new . . .

For Liza Schrock, the bakery her late husband bought was an unexpected haven from their unhappy arranged marriage. Now she’s perfectly content to cook up mouth-watering delights for her hometown, and give to those alone or in trouble—and remain happily unwed. And though she’s willing to give handsome, newly-arrived widower Jacob Graber all the help he desperately needs, she is sure they can stay just friends . . .

But as Liza also tries to aid Jacob’s troubled teenage daughter, she starts caring far too much for his gentle ways and steadfast hopes. And when a wrenching secret she must keep comes between them, can Liza find the faith to risk opening her heart again—and reach for one more chance at real love?


http://www.mollyjebber.com

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