Posts Tagged ‘Wait a Lonely Lifetime’

A short reminder that tonight is the last opportunity to buy my ebook titles at the 65% discount rate offered through the month of March. The sale will end tonight at midnight, Eastern Time.

The sale includes:



Also, my publisher, Amazon is offering my debut novel, Wait a Lonely Lifetime at a discount.




And also included are the 6 installment stories that make up the Nights Before novel (available only in print). The stories as individual ebooks are at 100% discount (free!) onKobo, AllRomanceEbooks, and Smashwords.


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8d4ff-wllcoverMontlake Publishing (my publisher for my debut novel) will, on Amazon, be offering Wait a Lonely Lifetime at 1/3 the usual price (99¢) from Friday, March 4th through Monday, April 4th.

In the spirit of this Spring Sale from Montlake Publishing, I will be offering the same amazing deal for ALL my books currently listed on Amazon, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, All Romance eBooks, and Smashwords during the same time period, approximately 65%.  Books that are currently available for 99¢ will be FREE (except Barnes&Noble & Amazon) for the duration of the sale.

Beginning on March 4th, this March Madness Sale is the perfect opportunity to get ready for your Summer Reading Adventure!

My part of the sale will also include my historical novels set Wales! Details about those are on Lily Dewaruile: Welsh Medieval Romance.

All of my ebook titles will be on sale until April 4th:


‘Twas the Night Before New Year FREE
‘Twas the Night Before Valentine’s Day FREE
‘Twas the Night Before Mother’s Day FREE
‘Twas the Night Before Labor Day FREE
‘Twas the Night Before Veteran’s Day FREE
‘Twas the Night Before Christmas Eve FREE

Wait a Lonely Lifetime 99¢ (Only available on Amazon)
Salsa Dancing with Pterodactyls $1.65 
This Can’t Be Love 99¢



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Since writing this article, I have had the opportunity to read more about the War Between the States.  I now caution anyone setting a work of fiction during this period to research both sides of this tragic conflict.

This post was written a few days before it was scheduled to appear. The fourth blessing mentioned below made his appearance on the day this post was originally published. And now there is a fifth – a star in her own right!

November 23, 2012

4blessingNearly every culture has a ritual for giving thanks for life and blessings. We celebrate thanksgiving in the Fall of the year particularly because of the abundant harvest the Summer months have provided. In the United States, this celebration has taken on a mantel of national enormity but where has this holiday come from?

3blessingBut Thanksgiving is something else. Most of us in the United States have grown up with the legend of the Pilgrims and their wretched struggles in the first year of their life in North America. As the story goes, after over half their number starved to death, they were helped to survive through the kindness and generosity of the established inhabitants, whose own journey to this continent was taken thousands of years before.In most religions, thanksgiving is a spiritual recognition of the blessings bestowed upon the faithful, again usually around the time of the harvest.

In ancient times, people made sacrifices of living creatures and this practice is still in evidence today with turkeys, lambs, goats. In religious establishments, there are formal offerings, services of appreciation, shared meals to celebrate the bounty of the earth.

5blessingThis story may be true in its essence but it isn’t the origin of Thanksgiving as we know and celebrate it today. (Let’s assume we’re not talking about the folks who’ve formed tent-communities outside mega-stores in lieu of having a meal with their families.) The Pilgrims were most probably celebrating the religious thanksgiving, toward the middle of October with a religious service and a long sermon, rather than the more pagan celebration of life and all the bacchanalia surrounding a day of feasting, football and family feuds.

cad2Thanksgiving began its journey to becoming a National Holiday in the United States only in the 1860s, during the American Civil War. The author, Sarah Josepha Hale, promoted the idea of a national day of thanksgiving to politicians for over forty years. At the time, a day of thanksgiving varied from state to state. A few months after the Battle of Gettysburg in July 1863, in part as an attempt to unify the northern and southern states, Lincoln declared a national day of thanksgiving for the last Thursday of November in that year.

LDFor seventy five years, subsequent Presidents kept the tradition by declaring a national day from year to year but not until December 26, 1941, when Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed the law, did Thanksgiving become fixed on the fourth Thursday of November by federal legislation. For nearly 400 years, people living on this continent have celebrated their good fortune and the blessings bestowed upon them through the observance, religious and secular, of a day of feasting.

This is one of my favorite holidays and it seemed only natural to include it as a pivotal point in my Avalon Romance, Wait a Lonely Lifetime, now published by Montlake. I sincerely hope all your days of thanksgiving are exactly that and may we continue to celebrate in the way that most fittingly shows our gratitude for our many blessings as a nation.

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This post first appeared a few months after the publication of my debut Romance, Wait a Lonely Lifetime. For those of us who are perpetual students, love researching for our books and lectures, the people who inspired us to love learning are the real heroes.

In my college days.

In my college days.

September 23, 2012

Students of all ages started back to school a little over three weeks ago, some as early as mid-August. Watching the kids riding the buses and streetcars, I remembered my own years of formal education – some more productive (and happier) than others. I’m also reading The Perks of Being a Wallflower – another nostalgic reminder of the people who inspired me to learn.

I think ‘teach’ is a misnomer. For most of what happens while we are in school, college and university – or actually what should happen – a better word is inspire. A teacher who inspires a love of learning does more than instruct. That teacher encourages an inquisitive mind, opening doors for the student that imparting of facts can never do.

I can remember so many teachers who captivated me with their love of their profession and their charges. Some were mysterious. Some were difficult. Some were cruel and some were saints.

I was never a particularly brilliant student. Competent in most subjects but with little commitment to the hard graft of getting good grades, particularly in Algebra. Girls were not supposed to be good at math or science. Equations evaded my grasp until my 7th grade math teacher, Miss Hughes, gave up her after school hours once a week to give four of us special tuition. When equations clicked for us, we had no idea then what her commitment to our understanding of a mathematical formula offered us and our futures.

If not for Miss Hughes, math would have continued to be my nemesis as it was for so many of my colleagues in community arts organizations. Miss Hughes’s few hours of tuition gave me a grounding in numbers that led to good jobs in the industry that most interested me as well as open opportunities in information technology that never occurred to me as a teenager.

A few years later, I sat in class and listened to Mr. Lombardi talk about language, particularly the English language. His love of language spoke to the heart of what I had always wanted to do, regardless of what job I might have to take. He also gave me the confidence to believe that a career in writing was a possibility for me, even if others urged me to be ‘practical’, be a teacher.

The day I  signed my first  publishing contract.

The day I signed my first publishing contract.

While in university, I detoured into Art and Theater Studies. While studying Art, I found inspiration for my heroine in Wait a Lonely Lifetime (now in paperback). I also took courses in Astronomy and Physics. Eventually, I returned my love of language, first and foremost. The detours provided ample fuel for stories. They also extended my schooling by several years!

During my post-graduate years, I had an opportunity to explore teaching as a career.  Although I had a few triumphs and amazing, special moments of being credited with changing someone’s life, I realized I had none of the commitment to the profession that I had experienced. I was and still am a student.

A student can never be bored – there is always something new to discover. For this special gift, from those who are so gifted to inspire a love of learning, I am forever grateful. I would never have become a writer without you.

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During my tenure as director and editor for Honno: Welsh Women’s Press, I encouraged my mother to write her World War II memoirs. I presented my siblings and my sons with a privately published copy on her 90th birthday. These memoirs were subsequently published as an ebook, Following the Troops: Life for an Army Wife, 1941-1945. 

July 23, 2012

I read Andrew Galasetti’s guest blog at selfpublishingteam.com on Saturday morning (July 21, 2012) that resonated with me. Near the end of this post, Galasetti writes about his grandfather’s writing dreams and how they had nearly died with him. This was particularly moving to me because I spent many years as an editor for a women’s cooperative press in Wales, selecting material for three volumes of autobiographical writing by women that, had it not been for Honno, would not have been published or recorded for history.

One of my proudest publishing moments was working with historian, Dierdre Beddoe, on Parachutes and Petticoats and Iancs, Conshis a Spam, two volumes of women’s writing about their experiences in World War II. Many of these accounts were harrowing, tragic or triumphant. All were about the indomitable human spirit and our willingness to sacrifice our lives for strangers.

The stimulus for both of these volumes was the stories my mother told me about her experiences during World War II and her childhood. Twenty years before her death, I asked her to write these stories down, intending to include them in one of the volumes. In the end, I edited and published them independently for my family and her grandchildren.

Several of my friends have created similar publications, so that their own personal journeys aren’t lost and forgotten. During the latter part of the 20thC, there were hundreds of volumes of diaries and oral history projects undertaken to capture these stories for posterity. Until they were written, recorded or published, these experiences were stories passed on from one generation to another but often not. Now they are history, available to us all.

That is, as long as our smartphones, laptops, ereaders and tablets keep working. Galasetti’s book, To Breathe Free, incorporates his grandfather’s poetry and will be published in Fall 2012.

If you want a really good yarn, talk to your elders.

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This post first appeared two months after my debut novel debuted in April 2012.

I hope you don’t mind that I’m including the interview that my colleague, Rebecca L. Boschee, did for the Avalon Authors Blog. I haven’t changed a word! 

June 20, 2012

Today we’re talking to Avalon author Leigh Verrill-Rhys about her novel Wait a Lonely Lifetime. Join us to learn what makes this novel special…


Wait a Lonely Lifetime (Avalon Books, 2012)

Sylviana Langdon’s marriage went bad from the start. She married the wrong guy, and there was no chance of ever making him right — not for her. Divorced and dating again, she can’t stop thinking about a smart guy she met a few weeks before Steve came into her life. Eric Wasserman walked away from her with no explanation back then. What would he want with an airhead artist’s model now, fifteen years and two little girls later?

Captain Wasserman’s best buddy, Steve Langdon, saved his life and stole his girl. The career Army officer’s second-in-command drops a pretty blue envelope on his desk. The handwriting isn’t familiar, but the name pulls the pin on the grenade that has been in Eric’s mind since he walked away from the green-eyed girl his buddy wanted.
When he doesn’t reply to either of the two letters and a third arrives, his ungentlemanly behavior threatens the morale of his combat support unit. For the sake of his unit, Eric takes the hit from his best buddy’s wife, wondering why Steve has put her up to writing to a man she doesn’t know.

Welcome, Leigh! We’ve read the synopsis, but please take a minute to tell us in your own words what your latest novel is about.

Besides girl meets boy, girl falls in love with boy, girl loses boy, girl gets boy back? I began with that basic framework and built in betrayal, loyalty, self-sacrifice, hope and determination. Sylviana is a wide-eyed innocent looking for direction. When she meets Eric, he’s a bit roughed up by four years in combat zones but still has a strong commitment to doing right. Their natural connection is torn apart by Eric’s best friend, who is also attracted to Sylviana. Steve is smarter and meaner. When all his lies come to the surface, Sylviana ends her marriage to him and turns back in search of the man she believes she was meant to marry.

There’s lots to like about that set up. I understand a big part of Wait a Lonely Lifetime is written in letters and emails. What inspired you to take that approach? 

Epistolary novels have a long, respectable history especially in the Romance genre. If you remember the film You’ve Got Mail based on the eastern European story The Letter (also made into a film in the 1930/40s with James Stewart) as well as a musical, He Said, She Said, you’ll recognize the device. I didn’t really plan the book that way; it seemed the only way Sylviana could communicate with Eric, not knowing how to reach him once he had re-enlisted. A letter is a monologue. Until it receives an answer, it’s just one person, one-sided. A letter demands and expects an answer. Once it’s written, the writer is at the mercy of the recipient. A lot like writing a book. Writing Wait a Lonely Lifetime in letter and emails seemed the natural way to bring Sylviana and Eric back together, much safer than a phone call. No matter how dependent we are on electronic communication, nothing replaces a handwritten letter to send a heartfelt message, most especially a love letter.

I couldn’t agree with you more. There’s something inherently romantic about letters. And speaking of romantic…your novel is set partly in Firenze. You’ve been there and have described it as one of the most enchanting places you have even visited. Was there anything in your book based on real life experiences? 

The moment I arrived in Firenze, I knew I was going to write about it but I didn’t make notes or keep a travel diary. I had a camera but took no pictures. I observed and absorbed. What I wrote about the city is distilled from all I remembered. Quite a lot! I made mental notes of some details like the high water mark and the monument to the victims of the Mafia bombing. I wove those into the story because they were unique. I kept the tourist map so I could find my way around once I was back in Wales.

It sounds like a great place to fall in love. Your heroine, Sylviana, falls in love with Eric at first sight. I’m a big believer in this, but how does she know?

I believe this happens for many people. The moment doesn’t always lead to everlasting love but I think we know when we’ve met someone we will never forget. That chemistry is instantaneous – ignore it at your peril! A lot of that sense is hopeful. Some of it is intuition and instinct. I’ve only felt that way about one person. I married him pronto.

Smart move! Let’s talk about your writing. What was your favorite scene to write and why? 

I’m particularly fond of the plaid pajamas with piping around the collar scene. The most dramatic scenes are when Sylviana escapes with her daughters from her house and they can’t reach Eric on Thanksgiving Day. I also loved writing about Eva’s first school dance. The whole book was fun and challenging. I couldn’t stop writing. Part of the joy of writing for me is discovery. I don’t plot beyond a basic outline, feeling my way through the boxes and barriers that these persnickety characters put in the way.

Based on your discovery writing style, you must have learned something from writing your book. What was it? 

The most amazing thing I learned was that I could actually write a novel, from beginning to end. I learned the essential ingredient of discipline and more discipline. When Lia Brown asked to read the first chapters, I had half of the book still in draft. A month later, when she asked to see the full manuscript, I was ready! I had the feeling I had to be prepared. 

Good thing you followed that instinct! Was there any particular author or book that influenced you in any way either growing up or as an adult? 

The list of authors I’ve read and been influenced by is pretty long. I studied Victorian literature and was enamored of George Eliot. I’ve read every book she wrote and put Daniel Deronda as my #1 of all time. Also Middlemarch but that is lower on my list. I’m reading a lot of more contemporary writers at the moment: Frank Waters, Chinua Achebe, Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Isabel Allende’s short stories, Eva Luna and In the House of the Spirits are stunning. I’m a fan of Anne Tyler and enjoyed Annie Proulx’s The Shipping News. I just bought a copy of Sherry Thomas’s Not Quite A Husband after I heard her speak at the San Francisco Area RWA chapter meeting. I’m reading as many of the Avalon authors’ books as I can find. I guess you don’t want to hear about things like Milton Freidman’s books on economics!

You’ve just made me add about a half dozen books to my reading list (with the exception of the one on economics). What about more books from you? What are your current works in progress? 

My current work is another contemporary novel but I’d call it women’s fiction with strong romantic elements rather than Romance. Salsa Dancing with Pterodactyls is set in the financial district of San Francisco (hence the Milton Freidman!). This is another book I couldn’t stop writing but, like Michaelangelo, I am “finding the story in the words”, so to speak. 

I love the title—intriguing! What would you say has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author?

The toughest criticism is always a rejection. When I was just starting out, I kept all the polite notes from short story magazines. Nowadays they come in emails. I keep those too. There’s no honest criticism that you can’t learn from. I keep in mind it’s a lot easier to criticize than it is to create.

I’m sure many of us can relate to that. On the flip side, what has been the best compliment? 

The best compliments I’ve received are about Wait a Lonely Lifetime and my historical novel (written under my pen name) when people have told me they couldn’t put it down or that they were brought to tears, laughed out loud, are still thinking about the characters. When I read a book like that, it’s a lifelong treasure. 

And that’s what makes it all worthwhile. In closing, do yo have any advice you’d like to give to aspiring writers? 

I considered myself an aspiring writer until I was mortified to hear myself say, “I always wanted to be a writer.” We’re only aspiring if we’re not writing. Once you write, you are a writer. My best advice is: Write the best book you can and then make it better.

Great advice. Thank you so much for your time today, Leigh and congratulations on your new Avalon release!

About the Author:

A native of Paris Hill, Maine, Leigh Verrill-Rhys spent most of her childhood and early adult years in San Francisco before emigrating to Wales to marry and raise three sons. She has been a writer, editor, and lecturer for most of her life, intermingled with career portfolios in marketing, finance, and community arts projects.
Wait a Lonely Lifetime is her first published novel. Leigh admits to running with scissors and leaping before she looks.

Follow Leigh at www.leighverrillrhys.com, her blog: http://www.everwrting.wordpress.com, onTwitter: @EverWriting9, or Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/LeighVerrillRhysAuthor

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This repost contains some music links to artists and songs that were inspirational to me for some personal, as well as professional, reasons. Again, this was part of the promotion I did for my debut novel.

February 23, 2012

Forget blurbs. Forget synopses. Forget even writing a novel or composing the jacket cover biography. The hardest job is finding a title. You’ve written a book to be proud of. You’ve put years of experience, months of work, weeks of revision, days of anticipation into the masterpiece. What keeps you awake night after night? The title.

What comes to mind? Nothing as arresting, compelling, delightful, thrilling as the story. No. What do you do?

Sometimes I search the manuscript for phrases that catch the eye or the imagination. Funny thing. There never seems to be one that meets expectations. Does that mean…? Could that mean the book isn’t as great as I thought? I don’t entertain that thought for very long. That’s just “Title Search Paranoia” whittling down writer confidence.

What’s in a title, anyway? Just about everything, at least according to one of my college professors. Get that right and you’ve put a book in someone’s hands. Get it wrong and you’re overlooked for the catwalk creation sitting next to your wallflower. You need resonance. You need speaks to the heart/soul. What you get in the middle of the night is, well,… not much.

Sometimes, the best one comes to you as a flash of serendipity. Sometimes you agonize. Sometimes, you find a title before you know your characters’ names or written a word.I carry a notebook in my bag. When a title presents itself, I make a note. Too often, the moment of inspiration passes without recognition. Just as often, the recorded title has no meaning when I next open that notebook.

Once in a while, I find myself locked into a title that is exactly perfect. Much more often, the novel is written, the characters ready for their moment to be read but the book is “untitled” or has the first name of one of the characters to distinguish it from all the other works in progress in my computer filing system.

In the case of my first novel for Avalon Books (to be released in April) the title came to me as I was walking to meet my lift to work. I was singing in my head and there it was. Wait a Lonely Lifetime has two significant events or connections to recommend it to me.

You may know it from the Beatles’ song, “I Will”:

Will I wait a lonely lifetime?
If you want me to, I will.

This was the song in my head and is actually a musical reference to a song that always breaks my heart when I hear it and one that both my husband and I shared as a favorite when we first met – playing on the jukebox in a bar in Noe Valley – we were on our second date. The music and lyrics are by Stephen Bishop and the song’s title is “Looking for the Right One”:

Will I wait another lifetime,
Keep on looking for the right one?

Art Garfunkel also recorded this song but I prefer Bishop’s original. You decide:

This line, these four words, were and are perfect for the story I tell in Wait a Lonely Lifetime, of two people who find “the right one” but are kept apart for a lifetime by the calculated interference of someone they both thought of as a friend.

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You may find this particular repost about self-promotion of value. As the date confirms, this was first posted three months before my debut contemporary novel was released.

January 23, 2012

While watching Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris, I noticed the frequency of the self-promotion opportunities taken by the artists and writers (portrayed according to Allen’s story) portrayed in this film. Each time s/he came into contact with the protagonist, the artist in the scene gave a full accounting of talent and creation.

WLLjacketproofwebDuring the NFL Championship game Sunday afternoon, the words of Mohammed Ali formed part of a promotional video clip: “I am going to show you how good I am.” We expect these ego centric outbursts from the greats in their fields. Ali was famous for his one line stingers: “I’m so mean, I make medicine sick.”

But, I wonder just how confident any performer, athlete or artist really is. We are happy to promote one another, our companies, our publishers, our friends and colleagues. When it comes to putting our own talents on the stage, some of us hesitate.

Courage to say to yourself you’re good is one thing. Courage to shout it out loud is something else. More and more, writers are expected to fling their solitary work-mode into the bottom drawer and step onto the stage, limelight and greasepaint all aglow.

Before my career as a professional writer took hold, I had no qualms about promoting my marketing company to potential clients, with no sense of reserve or embarrassment. With my first published novel a mere three months from release, I am at a loss as to what I should and need to do.

Perhaps I am in a state of shock or a creative coma. My training in marketing is of no help. I know I must promote the book, myself, the story, attract readers, build suspense, start the buzz, ignite the fire. All my marketing instincts have gone on vacation, perhaps because I have no physical evidence of my Avalon novel.

I have a JPEG image of the book cover. I have a digital file of the copy-editor’s work. I have the final computer file of my revisions, but I have no book to hold in my hands. I can only imagine, by comparison to other Avalon novels I’ve read, how good my own book will be.

When a painter or sculptor or musician presents their efforts, they stand alone. The canvas or the marble or the sound are completely, utterly their own. For a writer, about to be published, the extent of the team involved becomes clear. In many ways, this makes promoting the book much easier.

Along the way, many hands add to the final product and before I tell you how much you will enjoy the story of Sylviana’s bold search of a love she lost, I want to hold the book and read again what my Avalon editor, Lia Brown, called a “terrific romance”, revel in the splendor of Matthew Simmons’s gorgeous book cover design, wonder at the stroke of fortune the I won a contract from the publisher in the first place, delight in the efforts of my copy-editor, marvel at the typesetter’s skill in composing space and line and letters on the page and be awed by the printer’s magical transformation.

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Disclaimer: This interview appeared shortly after the publication of Ilsa Mayr’s novel, The Widow, a book about one woman’s experience of illegal immigration. There are always circumstances that humanize a situation that is fraught with difficulties. This story is imaginary and does not address the reality of the millions of illegal aliens who have crossed the border or overstayed their student/visitor visas. I interviewed Ilsa Mayr about her release before I understood the magnitude of the problem.

November 23, 2011

widowGood morning, Ilsa. Thank you for agreeing to this interview. I’d like to start with the inspiration for The Widow. You have chosen a controversial idea for your relationship. How did that occur to you?
The inspiration for THE WIDOW came from a most prosaic incident. I was sitting in my dentist’s reception room, waiting to have my teeth cleaned. I picked up a magazine that featured a long article on illegal border crossings in Texas. From that evolved the plot of the novel. I can’t remember the name of the magazine, but the article was obviously impressive.

Did you have any second thoughts or misgivings about a marriage of convenience for these two characters?
I am a sucker for the marriage of convenience plot. Since we know that a happy ending is guaranteed in a romance, one of the thornier problems is to come up with a conflict strong enough to keep the hero and heroine apart for some fifty to seventy thousand words. In a marriage of convenience plot, tension and conflict are naturally built in.

ilsamayrYou write in two genres. The Widow seems to have elements of both. Which element is most comfortable for you?
Lately I’ve been writing a romance, followed by a mystery. I think this keeps me from falling into a rut – or so I hope. And I like to combine the two, at least in a small way, by adding a bit of mystery/suspense to the romance and a hint of romance or possible future romantic involvement to the mystery. Love and danger are a potent combination.

What do you like most about this book?
The protagonists, Santiago and Jane Peterson, the widow.

I think most authors have a strong preference for their characters – over other elements in the story. As a librarian you see a multitude of books vying for space on your shelves. What insights into readers’ preferences have you found to help you with yalibisliesour own writing?
None–I can’t write to demand. I tried it, but can only write what I like to read. For example, right now at  school the supernatural/horror is very popular. However, I don’t like to read that genre as I am very impressionable and when home alone in the evening, a small noise can conjure up scary images.

You say on your website (www.ilsamayrbooks.com) you began writing after many years as a librarian and the first book you wrote is still in a box, hidden away. What advice would you give to new writers about their first attempts?
Probably to keep first attempts in the closet. However, it is possible to use the plot or characters later in a new book.

I glad you said that! Was this first attempt a romance or a mystery?
It was a young adult novel–a very hard genre to break into. Have not tried to write in that genre again. Maybe I’ll go back to it, but right now I have a number of plots that bug me to use them. Pesky things, ideas.

I can understand that! Do you have an overall theme that inspires your creative efforts?None that I’m aware of. Themes are a difficult topic. The students at school always find the term “theme” scary. Often themes are so subtle that they are difficult to unearth. To make matters worse, there can be more than one theme in a novel.

I’ve noticed that several of your books have artistic elements: in Maelstrom and Serenade music is an element; dance is important in Dance of Life; and painting is significant in Portrait of Eliza. (I will include thumbnail covers for some of these). Will you elaborate on how ‘art’ influences your work? 
maelstromProbably because these are areas that I love. We drive to Chicago several times a year for the Chicago symphony. Usually we (my husband and I) go early so that we can visit the Art Institute which is across the street from Symphony Hall to see the new exhibits or just go to look at our favorite ones again.

In what ways, if at all, did the novels of Zane Grey influence your work, especially The Widow and Gift of Fortune?
Having grown up in Austria, where every 3-4 kilometers there’s another village or town, the idea of wide open spaces where there’s nothing but open fields and grassland is awesome. To most Europeans, or to those of us who have European roots, the Old West, or the myth of it, is totally fascinating. Among movies, a Western is my favorite genre. Right now hardly any are filmed, to my dismay.

You write both romance and mystery. Dance of Life was your first published novel and had elements of mystery as well as romance. Maelstrom is a mystery and, according to one reviewer, has ‘an agreeable romantic subplot’. Do these genres provide a pleasant, natural mix for you or do you lean more toward one?
danceRight now my favorite mix is a mystery with a romantic subplot. I suppose “romantic suspense” is the right term.

The last time I approached a librarian about genre fiction, she was quite dismissive and made me feel I was a lower form of life. Do you find any difficulty in combining your profession as a librarian with you work as a romance/mystery writer?
I am so sorry you ran into that kind of librarian! The snobby attitude is totally outmoded. My idea is that ANY reading is better than NO reading. I think of a student’s reading as stepping stones–the “easy” books leading to more reading, leading to more difficult and challenging reading. I love it when a student tells me that a particular book is the one he/she (it’s usually a he) has read cover to cover. And asks if I have another one like it! That’s when I feel I’ve earned my pay.

That is a wonderful feeling, may you have many more of them, especially for your own books. Thank you so much for taking this time from your busy schedule.

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The following article appeared on Avalon Authors while I revised Salsa Dancing with Pterodactyls.

October 23, 2011

wherein1A few years ago, one of the first comments I received on a manuscript I submitted to an agent was “I don’t know where this takes place.” I thought the descriptions were pretty clear. As far as I was concerned there is only one ‘City’ — San Francisco. The agent thought I was writing about London but she didn’t recognize my evocation.

Both cities are renown for fog and I had plenty of fog but mine was rolling over Twin Peaks. Hers was rolling up the Thames. I had trolley cars and BART. London has the Underground and double-decker buses. She wasn’t seeing any of the landmarks of her City.

I didn’t want to go down the route of actually naming the location – somehow that seemed a bit of a cheat, especially for this particular book. I wanted the physical and sensual details to do the job but they didn’t, at least not for this particular reader who had her own ideas about wharves, wet tram lines and exhaust fumes.

andronicosbSo, how do you evoke a sense of place? If you name the town or street, how do you ensure the person who reads those words has a real sense of where you want them to imagine themselves to be? Is a sense of location that important?

For some people, not being able to visualize a place is a serious barrier to their enjoyment. They feel disoriented and excluded, alienated – like being in a strange country without a map or knowing the language.  Or worse, reading a poem written to discombobulate.

If you are writing about a place unfamiliar to you but critical to your story, how do you evoke that sense of authenticity your reader will want?

Last year, I attended a conference in which one writer of historical fiction praised satellite-generated images. While roaming streets of towns and villages you’ve never visited can be a help, it’s of no use for time periods that pre-date the technology.  What may have been rural, uninhabited terrain in the 19thC is more than likely urban sprawl when that satellite passed by.

FiesoleRomanTheaterA sense of place is as much a character in fiction as protagonists and just as unique to the experience of the reader as the author’s voice. When I began to write Wait a Lonely Lifetime, there was no doubt in my mind that the main body of the novel had to be in Firenze (Florence), although I had only been there for three days several years before I even had a notion to write this story. I had taken no photographs, bought no postcards, collected no tourist guides. I had vague memories of restaurants, piazzas and two obscure details that I knew I had to include.

Audacity was my guiding principle. As news readers are taught: if you aren’t sure how to pronounce a name, give it your best shot with authority.

Is location as important in fiction as it is in real estate? When you read a novel, do you look for road signs?

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