Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Mining for Love

Mary Vine always brings tidbits of history, a little suspense, and a great relationship to her sweet, inspirational novels. One of the things I love about her books is the setting in North Eastern Oregon among the rugged mountains, the desolate high desert, and the small towns that may have existed in the old west.  An afficianado of ghost towns, Mary always takes the reader to an unexpected place.  

Please join me in welcoming Mary Vine to behind the book as she talks about her new novella, Wanting More.

What was the spark that led you to come up with this story, and how did that spark blossom through your characters? 
I own two lots on Main Street in the ghost town of Bourne, Oregon. It is an old gold mining town in Northeast Oregon. It is a place you can sit and listen to the creek and think about what must have gone on there from 1862 through the early 1900s. The second step in putting this story together came from two Asperger's syndrome students that I taught awhile back. Both had an interest in the Civil War and as the story was coming together in my mind, I asked them questions. The hero in my story is fresh from being a doctor during the war and has escaped to the mining area to perhaps try his hand at finding gold and heal his inner wounds.

It seems that most authors use something from their own lives, or the lives of people they know as an integral part of the story. Is there anything in this story like that? If so, what?
My father has five brothers and one sister. Some families cherish their only girl and treat her like a princess (like my aunt) and other families have a kick-butt kind of girl that tries to keep up or outdo her brothers. My heroine is mostly the latter and a fun character to write.

Is there a particular scene in this book that you really loved when you finished it? Which one and why?
 Actually there are two scenes that come to mind since the book went to print. One is how the heroine flirts with the good doctor when she is under the influence of the “medicine.” The other is towards the end of the story when her brothers come to bring her home. They roll her up in blankets next to their campfire, and take turns keeping watch so she doesn’t outsmart them and get away. I suppose it’s the humor I like in these situations.

You've written about a number of historical places in the Pacific Northwest. What is it about ghost towns that so intrigues you? 
My father always said to invest in real estate. In the summer of ’96 my husband and I looked across the state of Oregon for affordable river front property and bought some acreage between Baker City and Sumpter. We spent every chance we could four wheeling amongst the junipers, pines, firs and rocky crags. My husband’s interest was in panning for gold, while I was enamored with the decaying buildings, the caves, or equipment left behind in the mining districts and still visible today. 

What's next for you?
I’m working on a contemporary story once again set in NE Oregon, having to do with a clash between the mayor and an attorney who just passed his bar and taking a much earned vacation. He is looking for Spanish treasure on the outskirts of the fictional town of Salisbury Junction that I’ve used in two of my other stories.
That next book sounds intriguing too.  I'll have to add it to my pile when it comes out. Thanks for joining us at Behind the Book.
You can find Mary Vine's latest book at these fine retailers. Also be sure to check out her previous titles:  Maya's Gold and  A Place to Land for more wonderful historicals that take place in NE Oregon. 

Sunday, July 10, 2011

The Masks We Wear

Terri Reed is always an automatic buy for me, so I am very happy to have her on Behind the Book. This book is written in Terri's page-turner, suspense style with a faith element that very naturally sustains the story. What drew me into this book from the beginning is the blurb. It has everything to hook me --heroine's horrible childhood and loveless marriage, an autistic son, and a protector who has failed a witness before and so he is determined not to fail this time.

I suggest you run to buy The Innocent Witness. You won't regret it. Please join me in learning more about Terri Reed and this particular book.

What was the spark that led you to come up with this story, and how did that spark blossom through your characters?

I stumbled across an article from 2002 about a plane crash that killed a US Senator.  There was some question if the crash was really an accident or was murder.  I started playing the ‘what if’ game. I knew I didn’t want to do something as big scale as a plane crash.  And I wanted there to be no question that the crime was murder.  But who? And why? And what if there were a witness?  As I started to answer those questions, the characters began to take shape and the plot developed. 

When I read this book, the theme that smacked me between the eyes was how we all wear masks, and how even the mask changes depending on the occasion.  I know there have been times in my life when I wondered if the mask I wore was the real me or not. Why did you choose this as one of the important themes in your book?

You’re right, I think we all wear masks.  I think it starts out subconsciously but can be deliberately developed as either a way to cope or overcome some flaw or for more sinister reasons.  I know that my persona when I’m in public is much different that the shy and reserved person I really am deep inside. This dichotomy provides much fodder for a writer.  So when I was developing the character of Vivian Grant, I decided to explore this. Here was this woman who on the outside was polished and seemingly had everything, but inside was a different story.  I wanted to reveal her inner psyche through the circumstances of the story.  

In your January interview with Behind the Book you mentioned that redemption, forgiveness, trust, hope, giving up the illusion of control are threads that run through all of your books.  How does that play out in this  one?

All of these run through the book and can be seen at various points.  Anthony Carlucci, the hero of The Innocent Witness, needed to find redemption from something he blamed himself for.  In order to be redeemed he had to forgive himself and give up any illusions he had that he could control life or circumstances. Ultimately, Anthony learned through Vivian to place his trust in God.  On the other hand, Vivian’s trust in God was tested many times, but she never lost hope.  Her faith was the one constant she could count on.  But trusting another man? That was harder to do and took every ounce of hope she had.  

Your heroine's son is autistic. This is a disability that has a wide range, from someone who needs constant care to a person who can lead an independent life.  What made you choose this disability for this particular story?

I needed a reason why Mikey couldn’t tell what he’d seen the night his father was murderer. I chose autism because I have some personal experience to draw from.  Growing up my best friends little sister was autistic and my neighbor’s son is also. The disorder is very individualized and has such a wide variety of symptoms, which helped in creating the character of Mikey.

Because of the subtitle "Protection Specialists" this seems to be part of a series.  Can readers expect more from you in this series?

Yes, this is a series. The Innocent Witness is the first book.  The second, The Secret Heiress, will be a January 2012 release. The third book, as yet untitled, will be a September 2012 release.  More books will be coming in 2013 and beyond.

What's next for you? Can you tell us about any upcoming releases?

January 2012, The Secret Heiress
June 2012, The Deputy’s Duty-book 6 of the Fitzgerald Bay continuity series
September 2012 Untitled-A Protection Specialists book.

Here’s the blurb for The Secret Heiress


Finding out she is heir to a fortune shocks Caroline Tully to her core. And to “qualify” for the inheritance, she just has to visit her newfound grandfather’s Mississippi home from Christmas to New Year’s. Adopted as a baby, Caroline knows nothing about her mother’s family...and doesn’t realize they can’t be trusted. When attempts are made on her life, there’s only one man who can protect her. Donovan Cavanaugh—a man who made her lonely heart want to love again. Posing as her fiancĂ©, Don promises to find the would-be killer. But will his protection—and his love—be enough to keep her safe?

Protection Specialists: Guarding the innocent
Thanks for joining us on Behind the Book!  As always, you provide intriguing plots and thought-provoking themes.

You can purchase The Innocent Witness in ebook form or paperback at these retailers. You may also order it at your local bookstore.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Will the Truth Set You Free?

Margaret Brownley is a new author to me. Always interested in inspirational messages, I read this book with high expectations of both history and inspiration. Being the 4th of July, it seemed appropriate to a read a book about the old west, a time which was the fermenting of social innovation.  The suffragette movement was going strong and men and women were figuring out new ways of interactions and rights that facilitated a different relationship to work and family.  In A Vision of Lucy Margaret Brownley brings us into this time through a young women who loves photography, and in her own way brings illumination of the truth about people and their lives.

All of us have secrets--some of them small secrets like a convenient lie, some secrets are larger like a betrayal.  Every secret hurts someone, including  ourselves. Some people have secrets so large it effects their entire life, it changes everything they do and sets them on a path God never intended.  In her own naive, stumbling, and sometimes humorous way Lucy learns of a secret that will change every life in her small town, including her own. The saying "the truth will set you free" is one I was brought up to believe. But even in facing the truth it is not easy.  And the longer one waits, the more debilitating it becomes.

Please join me in welcoming Margaret Brownley with her wonderful third book in the Rocky Creek series.

What was the initial spark that put this story in your head?

The idea for my protagonist Lucy Fairbanks was sparked by an advertisement in an old newspaper. In 1860 Julia Shannon of San Francisco took the family portrait to new heights when she shockingly advertised herself as a daguerreotypist and midwife. How could I not be intrigued? After seeing that ad I just had to write about a woman photographer.

It seems that most authors use something from their own lives, or the lives of people they know as an integral part of the story. Is there anything in this story like that? If so, what?

One of the underlying themes of the book is abandonment. It's an odd thing but I think every child who loses a parent at a young age, even if it’s to death, feels abandoned.  I know I did and I delved into that pain to write the book.  I guess the ability to write serious themes with humor is a survival tool.

Is there a particular scene in this book that you really loved when you finished it? Which one and why?

It's a romance so of course I loved writing the scenes with the hero, but I also enjoyed the scenes with Lucy with her brother.  Caleb is the brother I never had. 

Your books all take place in the Old West. This seems unusual for a Southern California gal. What is it about this time period that draws you to write these stories?
I love writing about the old west because that’s when women came of age. The westward migration freed women in ways never before imagined. Women abandoned Victorian mores and rid themselves of confining clothes.  The gun may have won the west, but it was the women who tamed it. They brought churches, schools, newspapers and helped build community. These are the heroines for whom we like to cheer.  It must have been a shock to the male ego to have to deal with such strong and unconventional women—and that’s at the very heart of my stories.

I also like writing serious themes with a touch of humor and the old west lends itself nicely to laughter, don’t you think?  Since people lived so close to the land it’s also a perfect setting for an inspirational novel.    

I noticed that your three books are all subtitled "A Rocky Creek Romance." Is this book part of a series? If so, should the reader start with an earlier book or does it matter the order in which they are read?

All three stories take place in the fictional town of Rocky Creek, Texas, but the books don't have to be read in any particular order.  I planned it that way.  The other two books are A Lady like Sarah and A Suitor for Jenny.

What's next for you? Can you tell us about any upcoming releases?

My story Snow Angel will be in the Log Cabin Christmas collection due out in September. I'm currently working on a new series that takes place in Arizona Territory. The first book Dawn Comes Early will be out March 2012. 

Thank you so much for letting me visit your blog today.  Readers can reach me through my website.

Also my publisher is running a “Vision of Funny” photograph contest with prizes. To enter go to the Margaret Brownley Books Facebook page.

You can get Margaret's Books in print or e-book from these fine retailers and from your local bookseller.  Margaret is also willing to give away one free book to a lucky commenter.  I know I really enjoyed reading this, so please take a chance and see if you can win a book.