To get us started can you please start by telling us a little about what you are working on or have coming out?
My second book of a historical western romance series, Outlaw in Petticoats, is my current release. This series is about five brothers who live in the Blue Mountains of NE Oregon in the 1880's. Each brother has a feisty woman capture their hearts. Marshal in Petticoats was the first book in this series. The third book in the series, Miner in Petticoats, will be out in June 2009
Could you please tell us a little about yourself?
This year will be my 30th wedding anniversary to a man who has been wonderful about letting me chase my dream of being a writer. We have four children and eight grandchildren. We ranch/farm 350 acres. When I'm not writing I'm either visiting children, feeding or doctoring cows, riding a horse, irrigating, or haying.
I started out as a freelance newspaper reporter and now have four published books with The Wild Rose Press. My contemporary romance, Perfectly Good Nanny, won 2008 Best Contemporary Romance EPPIE.
If you could be one of the characters from this book - Who would you be? And why?
My heroine, Maeve, in Outlaw in Petticoats, my current release, is very independent and believes the only person she can count on is herself. She holds tight to her emotions-except with Zeke. I like her independence and spunk.
Who or what influenced you when you wrote this book? Did you have a CD, Songs, environment, etc?
My Halsey brother series is set in my home state of Oregon. I love the history here and when I can find information that works in my stories, I get giddy. This book started with dangling info in the first book and as they traveled across the state looking for Maeve's father I found bits of trivia at that time period to intersperse in the story.
Can you please give us a sneak peek into the book?
He kneed his horse up alongside her gelding. "Any chance you know how to use that pretty gun you have hanging from your hip?" He said it in jest, but realized his error when she turned a narrowed blue gaze on him.
"It just so happens, my father taught me one thing before he left us." She drew the pistol from her holster, leveled it, and cocked the hammer with her thumb.
Glancing at him, a sly, crooked smile tipped her lips. She squeezed the trigger.
Peering past the spiral of smoke at the end of the pistol, he watched a pine cone topple off a limb. She rode over to the pinecone, dismounted, and handed it up to him.
He whistled and stared at the hole in the middle.
"Not bad. You can watch my back any time."
Her dark eyebrows arched, and her mouth opened slightly.
Zeke wanted to lean down and kiss her.
When she found her voice she asked, "You don't care
I can outshoot most men?"
"As long as you don't use that gun on me, you can outshoot anyone you want." He couldn't keep from laughing. She expected him to be insulted because she was a better shot than him. She obviously hadn't been studying him like he studied her.
"I don't understand you. Most men would have a conniption if a woman shot better than them." She mounted her horse.
"Any man worth his salt knows his weaknesses and doesn't begrudge someone else who is better." He shook his head. "And Sweetheart, you're better with a pistol than I am." He nudged his horse up alongside hers.
He caught her behind the neck with one hand and leaned in, capturing her lips before she could move away.
Dang, but she tasted good. When he felt the horses moving apart, he let her go. Her eyes remained closed, and she licked her lips. The quick rise and fall of her chest, made him grin. She could deny her feelings all she wanted, but he knew how he affected her, and he'd keep on plying her with kisses until she realized he wasn't going anywhere.
Please tell us what you have planned next?
The third book in the series, Miner in Petticoats is about the oldest Halsey brother, Ethan, and a feisty widow who isn't about to let another man destroy her family. At the moment I'm working on the fourth book, Doctor in Petticoats.
What kind of research did you do for this book? Did you enjoy the research process?
Research is my favorite part of writing historical westerns. I like to dig up obscure items of history and add those to my books rather than the usual facts. In Outlaw in Petticoats I talked with a local woman who told me about finger holes in the bottom of a bar top in a particular bar that men would stick their fingers in to help keep them standing when they had drinking contests. I used that information in the book.
Do you belong to a critique group? If so, how does this help or hinder you?
I don't belong to a critique group but I have other writers who I critique with. We critique via Internet as one CP is in Texas, one in NY, and one in Colorado. I believe in having helpful critique partners. I don't send anything to an editor until at least two of my CP's have looked at it.
Can you please give us a sneak peek at any of your upcoming books?
Here is an excerpt for Miner in Petticoats which will be out in June.
"I'm here to offer you five dollars an acre for your land."
The crazy woman burst out laughing. If she hadn't been finding fault with him, he would have relished the deep richness of the tone.
"That's more than fair!"
"Nae fur the land o' ma bairn." She stood with her hands on her hips in a stance as unmoving as a full grown pine tree.
"I can't go any higher than seven dollars an acre," he growled, not really wanting to spend that much, but he'd set his family's future on the stamp mill.
"Ye dinnae be needin' tae. Ah no' be takin' yer offur." She raised a long arm and extended it, pointing down the small valley. "This be the only thin' Mr. Miller left us o' value and ah'll no' be sellin' the land. It belongs tae ma bairn and ye'll no' claim one foot o' it."
"Mrs-" She lanced him with a dagger of a look. "Aileen, what if I come back tomorrow with a map and the figures all drawn up?"
"Ye can come, but ah'll no' be changing ma mind. Geroot, Mr. Halsey." Aileen tipped her head toward the man's horse, hoping he'd get the idea and leave. He was a fine figure of a man. Broad across the chest, taller than most, and his face was no hardship to stare at as they badgered over her land. Nae, she'd never sell a portion of the land. Her family had been pushed out of Scotland and then after marrying an Irishman, an Englishman had killed her husband and taken over their land. She wasn't about to lose this land. There was no place else for them to go. Not yet anyway.
However, she wouldn't mind butting heads with the man again.
When she removed her hat and he smiled rather than frowned, she nearly smiled herself. A man that didn't find fault with her discolored, freckled face was a rarity indeed.
The man acknowledged her farewell, walking to his horse and mounting. "I'll be back tomorrow with the map."
"Ye'll be talkin' tae yerself then. We've a need tae visit toon tomorrow." She smiled at his irritation.
"I'll be here the following day."
She waved her hand and called back, "We'll be here." She glanced down at Colin. "But he'll be talkin' tae deaf ears." Aileen winked at her son and was rewarded with a smile.
Is there anything else you would like to share with readers?
Besides the Halsey brother series, I have a historical western, Gambling on an Angel and the contemporary Western I mentioned before, Perfectly Good Nanny.
I enjoy being a member of Romance Writers of America through my local chapter and the online Hearts Through History chapter.
What would be the best way for readers contact you? Do you have a website? Email address? MySpace site? Blog? Message Board? Group?
When did you first decide to submit your work? Please, tell us what or who encouraged you to take this big step?
I joined RWA eleven years ago when I became serious about getting my work published and writing romance. I finaled in eight contests but received rejections from agents and editors saying they enjoyed my stories but no thanks. Then an agent told me that readers would love my writing but that because it wasn't "different" editors were a hard sell. She suggested I try e-publishing and gather a readership then try the big publishers. About that time a friend told me a new e-pub was starting up The Wild Rose Press. I sent a submission and now I have a fifth book coming out with them in June.
What was your first published work and when was it published?
If you're talking romance it was Marshal in Petticoats in 2006. If you're talking very first published story it was a children's story about divorce I wrote for a parenting magazine in 1993.
What is the best and worst advice you have ever received?
The best advice was by a NY editor who told me to join Romance Writers of America. The worst- wear a sparkly dress for Nationals awards night! LOL I looked like shiny, blue, marshmallow woman!
Do you outline your books or just start writing?
I get characters in my head, the first scene will come, then how I see the end happening and then a couple of turning point scenes will come to me and I jot those down and then I sit down and write. I don't outline, I don't synopsis, I just get the characters settled in my head and where the story is headed and then I write. I tried to outline, synopsis, and story magic every time I do that I just get frustrated trying to fill in spots I don't know yet. I don't learn something s until I get there. That's just the way the story unfolds to me.
Who is your perfect hero? And why?
Wow! That's tough. In a lot of ways it's my husband. He has a great sense of humor. We do a lot together. We built our house and every one said we'd end up divorced before it was through, but we really get along well. I'm creative, he's down to earth and logical. He believes in dreams. He loves unconditionally.
Is there a genre of book you would like to write but haven't yet? Not really. I have the one contemporary western published and another one with an editor. I actually started a historical romance with paranormal elements trilogy that is Native American, but I'm having a tough time finding anyone interested in it.
Thank you for this opportunity!