Camp NaNo

For the past three Novembers, I’ve participated in NaNoWriMo, the National Novel Writing Month journey, and this year I’ve signed up for Camp Nano.  I’m going to use the month of June to try to get  Wilde Wagers, my historical mystery, cleaned up and ready to submit to publishers.

Writing Wilde Wagers has been a long road.  It was my favorite book while writing i t– the characters were so alive, and the story flowed beautifully.  It was my mom’s favorite too — after each chapter I’d send her, she’d proclaim, “Write faster!”

I often wonder if she knew what was coming.

She died suddenly before I’d gotten to the end.  Finishing the story was difficult, but I felt I had to.   Unfortunately, I was so depressed and so unhappy that I couldn’t bring myself to have anything bad happen to any of my characters.  I also couldn’t force myself to create evil or nasty-behaving people.  Not an effective technique when writing a murder mystery.

My mom died about 18 months ago, and although I’m still sad and depressed, I think I can start murdering characters again.

At the end of June, I’ll let you know how my revisions at Camp NaNo went.


Interview with Beth Elliot

Today I’m welcoming to my series of author interviews Beth Elliot.

Beth writes about adventure and romance in Regency England.

Q: Beth, can you explain to my readers who may not know, what is Regency England, and why have you chosen this time period for your novels?

A: Strictly speaking, the Regency lasted for just eleven years, from 1811, when King George III became too ill to be capable of ruling and 1820, when he died. His oldest son, Prince George, acted as Regent during that time. However, the influences, social changes and political events of what we call the wider Regency period began about 1790 and blended into the Victorian era in about 1830.

This wider Regency period is when Jane Austen lived. Her wonderful novels inspire many writers including myself. We are all fascinated by the society she describes, with its strict social conventions and especially the situation of women. Women of the upper classes were almost completely dependent on men. They could not work, except as a companion or a governess. As a general rule they could not inherit property. Their only option was to find security in marriage, so finding a suitable partner from the same social level was vital and had nothing to do with love. For a writer, this is a goldmine of material. The delightful fashions, the vast wealth and contrasting poverty, the long war with Napoleon, the celebrities, such as Byron, Beau Brummell, even the Regent himself, all provide plotlines. It’s so easy to think: ‘What If…’ and another story just creates itself.

Q: Tell us more about your stories.

A: My first two heroes are two friends, who each have their own story. In 1810, moody Theo struggles to readjust to civilian life in London [The Wild Card]. Two years later, his friend, Greg, has to sort out a potential family scandal in Bath [In All Honour]. In both cases, the heroines are determined not to be married off, even though they are both poor and marriage is the only ‘career’ option for girls. April and May is set in 1804. Rose, a gifted artist, seemingly jilted by Tom four years earlier, meets him in Constantinople [Istanbul] and has to work on a secret report with him. This is a story of trust destroyed and rebuilt. The Rake’s Challenge is the tale of a summer holiday in Brighton in 1814. Giles, the bored, elegant Rake, is obliged to rescue a very young damsel in dire distress. She is determined to model her life on Byron’s Childe Harold but falls from one disaster into another. Giles rescues her each time, stronger feelings stirring when the Prince Regent shows an interest in her.

Q: Are you working on anything currently?

A: I’ve just completed Scandalous Lady . This is another Ottoman Regency story, set in Constantinople in 1811, when Lady Hester Stanhope is living there. I enjoy blending real people into my stories, although they are never the main character. This story takes place against the background of negotiating peace between the Ottoman Sultan and the Russian Czar. Again, Napoleon casts his shadow over events, but as always, I keep the tone light. Olivia is an intrepid English heroine and she encounters a half-French, half-Turkish diplomat with the most beautiful eyes she has ever seen. Cue smoulder! This story has some exotic scenes.

Q: What is your favorite part of writing ?

A: Research, especially the practical kind, is fun. I pace out routes in London, Bath and Brighton and even Istanbul to check how long it would take my characters to walk from A to B. And it’s a pleasure to visit stately homes or costume museums. Perhaps the best part is when I read through my current WIP and eagerly turn the page to see what happens next – but am brought up short as there is no more – the shock has me rushing back to the computer at once to move the story on.

Q: Enough of your books—tell us about yourself.

A: My early life was full of sound. My grandmother used to switch between English and Welsh and I loved the rhythm of both. My parents both played the piano, and my Welsh aunt sang opera – but I never could sing a note. Words, however, came easily, whether reading or writing them. I was always telling stories. Later I studied modern languages and added one rather unusual one as my husband was Turkish. He was also a linguist and a poet. We wrote our first historical story together. We lived in eastern Turkey for some years before moving to England. I experienced wonderful kindness and hospitality during those years in Turkey, and have used that in my two Ottoman stories. I taught French and Italian and classroom teaching means a pretty busy life! One hobby is metallic embroidery, where I love overdoing the gold thread and beads, so that the finished piece shines, sparkles and gleams.

We’ve now reached the time in our interview for the let’s-get-to-know-the-author-better, nearly-pointless, sort-of-silly, rapid-fire questions:

Coffee or tea?

Tea, please, anytime, anywhere.

Ocean or mountain?

I’m a Celt, so feel happier on a mountain.

Hiking or shopping?

Hiking [see above]. Shopping makes me tired.

Violin or piano?

Piano. Both my parents played Chopin, which filled the house with delicate melody. I was not gifted at that keyboard, but I still listen to Chopin as I type.

Mystery or fantasy?

I think they go together. I love both and seem to live in them. I only have to walk down a country lane in the dark to imagine fantastical creatures behind every tree or in every rustle from the leaves. I see castles in the clouds and faces on the trees. And don’t get me started on what kind of personality I imagine for the person sitting next to me on a plane or train.

Darcy or Heathcliff?

I’m a Darcy girl. Just give me the chance to pierce that stoic front he hides behind

Love scene or death scene?

Love scene, of course!

For more about Beth, visit her blogs:


Beth’s books are available on and from

Thanks to Beth for joining me today!

Videos and Marketing

Cornerstone Press has created a number of videos, which can be viewed on youtube, to market Syncopation.  I’m going to see if I can imbed some of these videos in this blog.  Wish me luck!

Of course, we should start off with the amazing book trailer:

Next, is Chalk Talk:

The next three are readings from the text:





I think I did it!  I hope you enjoyed the clips.

Come back tomorrow for my author interview with Beth Elliot.



Interview with Linda Collison




Today I’m welcoming Linda Collison to my series of author interviews. Linda is the author of the Patricia MacPherson Nautical Adventure Series.

Q: Can you give us a brief description of your books?

A: Stripped to the bone, it’s about a girl pretending to be a man aboard a ship in the 18th century.

The series begins in 1761 during the Seven Years War and is told in first person by Patricia, the illegitimate daughter of a dissolute English sugar planter. When her profligate father dies, sixteen-year-old Patricia finds herself without funds, family or interest. How is she to survive? She chooses to portray herself as a young man and make her living at sea. Living in disguise aboard ship with so many men (and a few women) is fraught with its own risks and rewards and I’ve drawn on numerous historical accounts of 18th century women who really did pass themselves off as men.

Q: How did you come to write this series?

A: My first novel, Star-Crossed (Knopf;2006) was the inspiration for the Patricia MacPherson Series. Knopf originally published it as a stand-alone and they weren’t really interested in doing a series. But Tom Grundner, publisher and senior editor of Fireship Press was! He published Surgeon’s Mate, the sequel, and waited to acquire the rights to Star-Crossed, once I obtained the reversion of rights after it went out of print with Knopf. Tom recognized that Star-Crossed was adult historical fiction, not YA, and he was committed to publishing the series. Tragically, Tom died suddenly last fall, but his publishing company Fireship Press lives on. Star-Crossed will soon be republished as Barbados Bound, the first book of the Patricia MacPherson Nautical Adventure Series, and the third book in the series will hopefully see print early 2013.

Q: In 2007, Star-Crossed was named by the New York Public Library as a “Book for the Teen Age.” Did you write it for adults or teens?

A: Funny you should mention that! I didn’t write Star-Crossed specifically for young adults; I wrote it from the perspective of a young woman, a sort of coming-of-age historical. The character is impetuous and she doesn’t always make good decisions. But she does what she can to survive.

My agent at the time, Laura Rennert, was keen to sell it as YA. She assured me she could attract a big publisher if she marketed it as YA, and she did. I was thrilled to be published by Knopf and to be included on the Books for the Teen Age – but throughout the series Patricia matures, and if the series continues she will grow old –which makes it more of an historical maritime saga than YA. So it’s a “cross-genre, cross-gender” book.

I do write young adult novels. Looking for Redfeather, a contemporary young adult literary novel I’ve recently completed, is represented by literary agent James Schiavone. I’m also working on a YA paranormal thriller set at sea that I’m very excited about.

Q: You studied history in college. How has that influenced you as a writer?

A: I’ve been a life-long student of history but the first time I went to college I majored in nursing to become a registered nurse (there being more jobs for nurses than historians — and I with a family to support!) I worked in acute care for over a decade, specializing in emergency and critical care. At the same time I worked as a freelance writer and had numerous articles, essays and short stories published by various magazines including Ladies Home Journal, Caribbean Travel& Life, Sail, Cruising World, Sailing, Parachutist, Nursing, etc. I wrote two guidebooks with my husband, which were published by Pruett, back in the ‘90s.

Over the years I’ve taken many college level history courses, mostly in history and French. Studying history has helped me examine sources objectively; it has helped me approach my research more efficiently and given me a wider perspective.

Q: How did you come to write historical fiction with a nautical setting?

A: In 1999 my husband and I served as voyage crew members aboard HM Bark Endeavour, an Australian-built replica of Captain James Cook’s 18th century sailing ship. The Endeavour was the closest thing to a time machine I have ever experienced and one of the most accurately reproduced historical ships in existence. We voyage crew members helped to sail her from Vancouver to Hawaii, a crossing that took nearly three weeks. We were expected to stand our watches, climb aloft and go out on the footropes to make and furl sail, take our turn steering the ship and keeping a look-out, as well as other duties necessary to keep the traditional vessel in good working order. We slept in hammocks strung from the deckhead, just as sailors did in the 18th century.

In many ways the experience changed my life. When I got off the ship in Hawaii I had a much better understanding what it was like to have sailed on an 18th century sailing vessel. And I carried inside the seeds for a novel. I had lived the time period, and the setting; I knew the ship intimately. I was getting to know the main character, the cross-dressing surgeon’s mate. But I still had years of research and writing ahead of me before Star-Crossed would be published. What a journey that was! And Star-Crossed was only the beginning. Book three of the series is taking me into the period leading up to the American Revolution where Patricia and her lover will find themselves on opposite sides of the war.

Your whole series sounds fascinating.  I look forward to reading about Patricia.

We’ve now reached the time in our interview for the let’s-get-to-know-the-author-better, nearly-pointless, sort-of-silly, rapid-fire questions:

Q: Coffee or tea?

A: Coffee, black! Except when I’m in England eating scones and clotted cream, then I’ll have tea.

Q: Ocean or mountain?

A: You might think I would choose the ocean because of my nautical books. But that isn’t necessarily the case! I divide my time between ocean and mountain. Today I’m at the ocean but next week I head for the Rocky Mountains. I need them both!

Q; Hiking or shopping?

A: Today I am hiking. Tomorrow I might be shopping. Life is broad!

Q: Violin or piano?

A: How about clarinet or cello? I played them both in high school, but maybe I should have learned piano, it’s so versatile and expressive. I do love piano — Adele, Elton John, Duke Ellington and Frederic Chopin jump to mind.

Q: Mystery or fantasy?

A: What about a mysterious fantasy? Actually, I don’t care for the mystery genre. Literary mysteries, such as Umberto Eco’s The Name of the Rose, now that’s a different story!

Q: Darcy or Heathcliff?

A: Heathcliff, of course!

Q: Love scene or death scene?

A: The best love scenes are usually lovers’ quarrels. It’s all about the conflict! Throughout the series I’m writing, Patricia tries to get together with her lover, and only sometimes are the trysts successful.

Death scenes are the best. “Out, out brief candle!”

Learn more about Linda and her writing at Linda’s website and at the Fireship Press website.

You can also order her books and learn more about her at Linda’s page

Thank you, Linda!