Ruby Release: CAPTURED HEART by Heather McCollum

Hosted by Liz Talley

Finally, I get to host a Ruby Release with Heather McCollum, which is a very good thing, indeed. When Heather’s first book was released, I was slated to be her host, but that debut fell during a really rough time for Heather (see last week’s post regarding ovarian cancer) when she was dealing with things way more important than a celebration. So I’m extremely thrilled to celebrate Heather today, with her debut release with Entangled Publishing. So let’s get this party started!
1. First up, let’s talk about the book. I read the description and it sounds fascinating. I love stories of healers. Tell us about the idea for Captured Heart and why you chose a healer as the heroine.
Thanks so much, Liz, for having me on the Ruby Slippered Sisterhood blog! I’m thrilled to be here on CAPTURED HEART’s release day. The idea for the book started over thirteen years ago. In fact, this was my first born book. My mother still has the original in her attic. Of course when I wrote it the first time it had 40,000 extra words, different character names, and every strange scene I’d ever imagined all stuck into one hefty tome.
Meg, though named Emma at the time, was always a healer. The art or “magic” of healing has always fascinated me. So much of what we know today about medicine would have been magic back in the 16th century. Although Meg does possess a supernatural power to heal, she doesn’t know how to use it and until she meets her aunt, it is more of a curse than a gift.
There is also a fine line, which I’ve learned first-hand this year as I fought cancer, between healing someone to life and healing someone to death. A lot of our miracle medicines are poisons. Doctors need to know how much and when to dose a patient or the cure becomes lethal. Meg experiences this as she learns to use her magic blue light (and yes, I imagine it a teal blue) to heal.
2. And since we’ve talked heroine, tell us about the hero. How does Caden embody the perfect hero?

Have you seen my cover? Caden definitely em”bodies” the perfect Highland hero! I like to tell people that my husband posed for the cover and watch their eyes pop- LOL!
Caden is the perfect clan chief. He’s been raised as a rugged warrior but has an intellect that makes him question the reasons behind war. He’s built a system of accountability for himself by visiting ten cottages in his village every day to talk with his people. So when he is enraged and wants to react foolishly out of revenge or some other selfish emotion, he recalls the faces of the men, women and children who depend on him to act with honor and in their interests, not his own. It chains him to the right path in a time when many leaders acted recklessly to further their own pursuits.
As a chief to a large clan, Caden is definitely alpha-male. Doesn’t talk much and doesn’t reveal his plans except when he must. He is just as capable of surviving as a lone wolf as he is leading a clan away from the brink of starvation. He can slice an Englishman from stem to stern yet pluck a leaf from Meg’s wild curls. He could have many women but decides that he wants only one. Ah, and there is the conflict. What if the one he wants is the one whose sacrifice will save his clan?
3. This is your first book with Entangled and so many have been fascinated with the wild success they’ve achieved with their books in such a short time. Tell us about selling to Entangled and how it’s been different from previous publishers.
My agent, Kevan Lyon, was very impressed with Entangled Publishing when she proposed my book to them. Until now Entangled has focused on contemporary and YA romance. CAPTURED HEART is their first Scottish Historical romance and is part of Entangled’s Select line.
Owner, Liz Pelletier is amazing! She worked for all of her authors to sign a deal with a large national book distributer and still had time to brain storm with me on my trilogy. Her talents, for running a successful business, and her heart, for doing her absolute best for the authors and editors, are endless.
I was assigned an editor right away as well as two publicists. Libby Murphy kept us on track with edits and is not afraid to roll up her sleeves and dig into making a book perfect. Heather Riccio and Barbara Hightower worked together to line up blog tours and events for my release. They are so supportive and always looking for ways to put CAPTURED HEART in front of the reader.
Between Liz’s fabulous leadership, Libby’s sharp eye and book sense, and Heather and Barbara’s constant efforts to promote, I’m not surprised that Entangled’s books are all over Amazon’s top selling romance list. I’m so fortunate that CAPTURED HEART has found a home with them.
4. You shared with me that your mother actually had a hand in this book. Tell us a bit more about her role in your book.
My mother, Irena Rea, is an artist (among other things), and I’m so proud to have her sketches in my book! Each chapter starts with an excerpt from Meg’s mother’s medicine journal about the curing benefits of a particular herb. My mom sketched the herbs to be included with the chapter headings. They look wonderful! Now she’ll have to read the book despite the spicy parts : )
5. Finally, your dedication in the books is pretty personal to your experience over the past year. How has your journey in fighting ovarian cancer shaded your writing? Do you come at scenes and characters differently than before?
I dedicated CAPTURED HEART to all the women fighting against ovarian cancer, women just like me. I also dedicated it to my teal (ovarian cancer color) army of supporters, because when you’re diagnosed with something like cancer, you can’t fight it alone. You need help, and love and lots of prayers and good karma. You need to believe that winning is not only a possibility but inevitable. My teal army (think Xena warrior princesses in teal leather : ) made me believe that I couldn’t lose, because I couldn’t, not with three kids aged 4, 10 and 12 and a husband who lost his own mom to breast cancer when he was just 9.
When you go through something horrific, it changes you. I had written CH before the diagnosis, but my agent sold it while I was going through chemo (Kevan knew I’d be back, that I’d make it). I was worried that my voice would have changed so much that I wouldn’t like what I’d written before.
What I’m discovering is that my voice in my writings hasn’t changed much, well perhaps I pay more attention to the beauty in my made-up world, but otherwise it has stayed the same. What’s changed though is that I live truer to my written voice. Huh? Well, I used to write about intangibles like discovering the most important things in life and really loving someone. I wrote about them, but did I really understand them?
Just like when we read those refrigerator magnets that tell us to “stop and smell the roses.” We all agree that we should take the time to fill our senses with the beauty around us, but do we really do it? Not unless we happen to be enjoying a tea party in a glorious rose garden or judging a rose competition. So we nod and agree with the magnet, but we don’t really do it.
My writing was the magnet and my life was, well, my life with all its hectic, crazy, too-busy schedule. Fighting against the beast that threatened to take all that away from me, threatened to take me away from my kids and shatter my family – surviving that fight suddenly made all the magnet sayings make sense. I began to live what I wrote. So has my writing changed? Well if it has, it rings with more truth. My characters never took life and love for granted, and now neither do I.
Thanks again, Liz, for interviewing me today. I am so excited about CAPTURED HEART coming out! I used to walk through big book stores and look at the books in the “M” section of romance and imagine my book being next to Judith McNaught. I plan to go to my local Barnes & Noble today and find my book in the shelves. And instead of just smiling and walking by, I’m going to stop and smell them.
Wow, such a fabulous journey you’ve made and all the Rubies are so proud of you (yes, I’m totally speaking for everyone ‘cause I know this great group of women). So Heather has gone through a lot to keep writing and releasing books, what methods have some of you used to get back into the game when writing had needed to take a backseat in your life?

22 responses to “Ruby Release: CAPTURED HEART by Heather McCollum”

  1. Cate Rowan says:

    OOOH! I’ve published a couple of novels with a magical healer, so CAPTURED HEARTS will be right up my alley. And the cover is amazing, folks. Check it out at the Amazon page for the book:

    When will the Kindle version be out???

    Congratulations on the release!

    • Liz Talley says:

      Thanks for posting the link, Cate. I’ve had such a hard time with the internet today. It’s like

      Internet: 1
      Liz: -5

      It’s beatin’ me down I tell ya!

      Heather will be in at noon to field questions 🙂

  2. CONGRATS on your release, Heather! I love the idea of a healer heroine, especially knowing your Ovarian Cancer story. And completely agree that today’s medicine (especially where fighting cancer is concerned) is on a fine line between curative and lethal. It’s very cool that you were able to infuse this into the book as well.

    Our experiences make us richer storytellers, even when we don’t want to be going through them! You have so much to give back and teach through your writing and I have no doubt you’ll do just that.

    Congrats again! 🙂

    • Thanks, Cynthia!

      They told me in chemo to think of it as good medicine instead of a neurotoxin poison. I do think the brain and our perspectives influence how our bodies react.

      I wish I had a healing blue light : )

  3. Addison Fox says:

    Happy Book Birthday, Heather!!!

    And what a great interview with you and Liz.

    I’ve been looking forward to this book and can’t wait to dive in!

    • Thanks, Addison!

      It even feels good when you hold it. The cover is soft somehow. I don’t know how they do that, but it makes it even more fun.
      Although I’m sure it is real fun on the e-reader too!

  4. Congrats and good luck with your release, Heather. I’m glad to see Entangled is branching out to include historical romances.

  5. OH!!! This book sounds right up my alley, Heather. Must. Go. Buy. Now. 😀

    Seriously, I write RS, but when I want to totally relax, my go-to books are Scottish Highlanders. I love the healer heroines, too. 🙂 The teal healing light is fabulous.

    I’m so glad you’re able to finally celebrate this release – and how great that it was the first book you wrote.

  6. Wow, super congrats, Heather!!!! This sounds awesome and looks….REALLY good too. hehehe

    Just YUM!

  7. Rita Henuber says:

    Oh! Heather you are such an inspiration to us all. I am soo very excited for you. The book sounds wonderful. Wishing you a huge success and many sales.

  8. Kate Parker says:

    Heather, this sounds like a terrific story. Best of luck on great sales and congrats on your release.

  9. Heather,

    Huzzah and congratulations on your release day! I can’t wait to get this story! But i read on my ipad—any idea when it will be available in the Apple Store? Cuz if not, I’ll head for a bookstore! Best wishes for great sales and success with Entangled.


  10. Tamara Hogan says:

    Happy Release Day, Heather!

    And yes…stop and smell the roses.

  11. Yes, we are proud of you! Congrats on the new release. It sounds totally awesome.

  12. Big congrats on your release, Heather! So glad you’re stopping to smell those roses!

  13. A smokin’ hot highlander? A healing heroine? This is so exciting, Heather! My grandmother was a Creek healer and I still use some of her remedies to this day. So I am DEFINITELY looking forward to reading your healer heroine!

    And that cover is … WOW !!!! Just WOW!

    Off to order my copy so I can pet the cover, I mean read the book! 🙂

    You are amazing and when I am feeling sorry for myself and think I might want to throw in the towel on writing I think of you and kick myself back into the chair! Thanks!

    • Thanks, Louisa!

      Yes, my favorite part of the cover is that little indent near Caden’s left hip, the indent that leads downward : ) Heather Howland at Entangled designed the cover and Wow is right. I tease my husband by telling everyone he posed for it.

  14. Ah yes! I did notice that little indent. 🙂 Ms. Howland is definitely gifted! Your hubby should be flattered!

  15. Dani Wade says:

    This book sounds awesome, Heather! Congrats on your release and all of your hard (physical and emotional) work over the last year!

  16. Congratulations on the release of your first-born book, Captured Heart, Heather! I’m going to buy a copy for me as well as a dear friend who also survived ovarian cancer.

    Lovely interview, Amy!


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