Posts tagged with: scotland

Romance writers as Travel Companions

Please don’t tell the extended Essex family, but I’ve just discovered that I like to travel without them. It is a rather astonishing revelation for me, as I very much enjoyed travel with my family. But I’ve discovered better companions—other writers!

Imagine yourself on a road trip with a fellow writer—I took just such a trip earlier this summer with romantic comedy author Tracy Brogan, and it was marvelous, productive fun.

Now, imagine that experience times six! Imagine it in a foreign country, like Scotland, with six other romance writers, some of whom I had never met. Recipe for disaster? Not at all.

My trip to Scotland was as part of a group of seven women— Deborah Barnhart, Lorraine Heath, Liz LeCoy, Cathy Maxwell, Kerrelyn Sparks, and Bonnie Tucker and myself—romance writers all, at various stages of our careers, but all with the desire to fire our imaginations with every sight and sound we could conjure out of the Highlands. We had no fixed itinerary, but decided where we would go and what we would do and see each day, depending upon the weather, and upon what piqued our imagination on the day. 

The Edradour We toured cities and countryside. We climbed up castle towers and motor sailed down Loch Ness. And then we wrote. We drove across unfenced pastureland dodging sheep, visited distilleries and sipped whisky. We learned to shoot clay pigeons on a grouse moor, visited the Queen’s favorite Scottish church, (or kirk). And then we wrote. 

We looked for crusader graves, and the memorial stone dedicated to the memory Queen Victoria’s favorite, John Brown. We danced in stone circles. We learned about plaid. We learned some more about whisky. We tasted some more whisky. We ate mouthwatering local seafood and produce. And then we wrote some more. 

We learned about the storied, and often bloody, history of  Scotland and the Scots. And we listened to the voices around us, raised in passionate debate over the Scottish referendum on whether to remain a part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, or to go independent. Scotland stayed with the Queen and her kingdom, but I don’t imagine that will be the last we’ve heard from the Scots. Not by any long stretch.

And it won’t be the last you’ll hear from me and my fellow travelers on the subject of Scotland. We have pledged to band together to produce an anthology of novellas inspired by the country that fascinates us still. Look for it for Christmas 2015.

And in the mean time, look around you at your next romance writers’ convention for some like-minded travelers. My suspicion is that you’ll find romance writers very good company indeed.

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?

The Latest Comments

  • Darynda Jones: I love this! I learned this fairly early as well. I also learned that sometimes I just have too many...
  • Heather McCollum: Thanks, Jenn! I forgot that you are also a free lance editor! Do you do both developmental and line...
  • Jennifer Bray-Weber: Very sound advice, Heather. I have done the same technique and often recommended it to some of...
  • Darynda Jones: Bwahahaha! I was so wondering where that was going! Did NOT see that coming. Great job, Evelyn!
  • April Mitchell: Congratulations Bonnie!