Sunday, April 18, 2010

Natalie Breckenridge in the Garden

I know, today is not Saturday, but some people are worth waiting an extra day to hear from. Today in the garden I have invited my good friend and resident sounding board, Natalie Breckenridge.

Natalie lives the life we all dream of. She spends her mornings lazily sipping coffee and reading a few chapters of her favorite books then spends the afternoon riding her adopted horse, The Bandit, and lavishing her four greyhounds with love and long runs. When I’m not green with envy of her (and secretly plotting to take over her life) I enjoy hearing her thoughts on everything from politics to pasta salad.

She confessed to me a few weeks ago that she, among the millions of other things she does daily, has decided to write a book. Then, in true Nat fashion, adds the very small detail that she has already written the small novel, 120K, and Little Brown has asked to see the full manuscript.

Hello Nat. Welcome to my garden.

Glad to be here, Ann. The weather here in North Carolina is gorgeous! No doubt, The Bandit would like to move here. The grass and the trees are so green, I feel like I’m wrapped in a perfect chef salad.

Hee, hee. Just wait a few more months. The doubt will set in and everything turns brown. For now, we will enjoy. You said your favorite color was pink, she Jeffrey and I headed out the Lowes to see what pink flowers we could find. They had none. Don’t worry, I told them you would be around soon to scold them.

Instead, we did find some wonderful Azaleas bushes and planted them around the house in honor of your visit.

Thanks, girl. They look wonderful. I still can’t get over the green. It’s everywhere.

When we spoke last, you had just mailed off you complete manuscript to Little Brown. How does it feel to give your baby away like that?

Hum. I think I am still in shock. A year ago, I gave up painting when my husband pointed out my recent surge in spending on supplies and lack of complete work. “I think you need a muse recharge,” he said, then suggested taking up a free hobby. Thank God he didn’t stop to list all the hobbies I’ve picked up and dropped over the years.

My older sister is an editor and had just complete pitching her own magazine, so I figured I was a safe beat for a short story. Night after night the story grew until I had about fifty thousand words. My sister refused to take the WIP, but suggested I keep working on it and sell it as a book.

Most of the authors I talk to started writing for fun. Did you start thinking one day you might have a best seller?

No way! Writing was a way to pass the time and sort out all the thoughts in my head. Before I married I was a Social Workers and saw some very disturbing things. This story was a way to voice what I saw in hopes to move on. As the story morphed into more of a novel, I realized giving a voice to the violence I had seen freed me in a way. Writing can become very addictive.

Well Nat, I know your story is not in publication right now, but could you give us an idea what it is about, you know for when after Little Brown jumps on it!!

Sure thing Ann. The novel is slated for young adult. The main character, Allie, has just found out she is adopted and the identity of her real parents has gone up in a cloud of smoke at the local hospital. She’s seventeen and looking forward to attending college in the Fall, but not until she knows her own identity.

As her Fall term deadline approaches, her search goes into overdrive and her life is consumed with finding her birthparents. Friendships get lost along the way and new ones foraged. In her haste, she realized she hasn’t been very picky about who she spends her time with.

One late summer night, she finds herself in the back of a police car, facing charges of robbery and attempted murder.

Don’t worry too much for poor Allie. Someone is coming to her rescue soon, her real father. Someone Allie has known most of her life.
That about sums up what I can say for now.

Sounds pretty good to me so far, Nat. I often wonder where people get their ideas for characters. Would you share where Allie came from?

Right out of college I spent a few months working at a youth home as a coordinator. Basically, I slept at the center and helped with any issues that arose during the night as well as ran the intake.

On good nights I had lots of free time, so I sat in on a few sessions with the girls. My heart broke for every one of those girls. Most where excellent young ladies who had to live through circumstances I couldn’t dream of. I often wondered what would happen if you took a child with no future and stuck her is a house with everything to offer. Allie is a mix of the different girls I met over the months and the happy ending I always hoped they would have.

Sounds like a very in-depth and emotional story. I have read the first few chapters, and a tissue box is recommended! I hope you all the best with Little Brown!

Thanks, Ann!

Now Nat, you know I like to ask crazy questions to give the readers a glimpse into your thoughts. Are you ready?



What must we know about you?

I don’t think you have enough room on your blog for everything. I guess the most important thing is I say the first thing that comes to mind. People not always like that about me. Deep down I’m a very nice person, but if you ask me if you look fat in a dress, and you do, I’m going to tell you.

Your guiltiest guilty pleasure?

Hum, X-rated. Cannot comment. Oh, and chocolate.

Favorite read?

I just finished “Hush, Hush” by Becca Fitzpatrick. I know, I’ve been under a rock. If you haven’t read it yet, you need to.

Garden tip?

Call a landscaper.

Side dish or drink for the party?

I know you mean food here, but mine would be lemonade mixed with raspberry purée and rum. Who needs food after something that good?

Sounds like a winner to me, Nat. Thank you so much for coming to my garden and sharing your writing adventure. I wish you the best of look with Publishing your work (by the way, because I haven’t said the title yet, the working title is “Allie”.

Before you go, I have one more question.

When your time comes (a long, long time from now), what mark do you hope to leave behind?

Wow. I have had to think on this one for a while. I guess I would want people to understand we are a product of our environment and to give everyone a chance to succeed. If you think about it, most of the powerful people in the world had to overcome extreme circumstances to get there.

Thank you for coming today Nat.

**Natalie Breckenridge writes under a pin name in order to protect the identity of her past clients.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Julie Romero in the Garden

Saturday Garden Parties have begun and I’m so happy to have Julie Romero with me for the inaugural interview.

The weather is sunny and bright. The bumble bees are buzzing about around the clover flowers and in the far corner a stray red tulip is about to bloom.

In honor of Julie’s visit, my son Jeffrey and I went to the nursery and bought two rose bushes for the garden, pictures to follow.

Hello Julie. Welcome to my garden.

Hi Ann, thank you so much for inviting me.

It’s a little sparse around here now, but spring is in the air and I am looking forward to tilling the soil with some of the best authors in the business.

What a better way to welcome spring. I am the seedling to your one day immense garden. Nice. I wish my garden was a virtual one, then I wouldn’t have to pop a Sudifed every time I water.

I know the feeling. Runny noses in exchange for flowering beauty. I think the tradeoff’s worth it.

Your Historical Romance, A Soldier’s Embrace is now available from Bluewood Publishing. How did you celebrate the release of your first novel?
I think I was in shock, really. I have this feeling of disbelief every time I pass a publishing hurdle. When I received the news A Soldier’s Embrace had been picked up by Bluewood, it took a while for the news to sink in. I had my husband read the email out loud to me. It was released right after the new year, so my husband and some friends of mine celebrated the upcoming release on New Years Eve. Usually every New Years, I made a quiet resolution-may this be the year I get a book published. It was really nice to finally have that year.

Sounds like a great way to ring in a New Year. Congratulations on the book by the way. Can you give us a little peak into your novel?
Sure. A Soldier’s Embrace is an Historical Romance set in 1878, a time when the American Prairie was a very dangerous place to be. It is a story of Elizabeth Davenport and Lieutenant Eric Ryan, two people struggling to cast off their families morals and expectations for their own burning desires in Victorian America.

I often wonder where people get their ideas for characters. Would you share your inspiration for Elizabeth an Eric with us?
Lieutenant Eric Ryan is loosley based on a real life Captain who fought under General Custer and died at Little Big Horn. His personality though, I borrowed from my husband, Kyle. A gentleman, loyal, kind hearted and no matter what, strives to do the right thing, no matter the outcome. I find those characteristics so sexy in a man.

Elizabeth-well at first I had a hard time writing her. I didn’t want her to be a proverbial Victorian lady. I wanted her to have a mind of her own, and yet, show a vulnerable side. Her fear of bugs? Yeah, that’s me. I hate bugs and learned just how much during a camping trip to Yosemite two years ago. Once I stopped freaking out about things flying close to my face, I got out a note book, sat down by a lake (wearing tons of bug spray, I might add) and just started writing her.

You are very lucky to have such a wonderful husband. Does he have brothers? Not for me mind you, just wanted to ask for my singer reader. *wink*

What/who do you credit for inspiring you as an author?

My father and my brother, Mike were both writers. I can remember my brother telling me to dream about anything and then write what I saw in my head on paper. My whole family has always been very supportive of my writing. I’m really lucky in that way. My mother, sister and I would trade books back and forth and then head back to the library for more. When I found a book I lost myself in, I always thought how great it would be to write a novel that people loved to read.

Can you give us a hint what you are working on now?
I’m working on two novels at the moment, which is odd for me. Usually I stay focused through one book before I move on to start another. I’m working on a sequel to A Soldier’s Embrace as well as a paranormal novel about a family of witches in Colonial America.

Now for some fun questions,

What must we know about you?

I’m a history geek. I enjoyed researching the American West so much, I have enough information for part two and three of Soldier, possibly more!

Your guiltiest guilty pleasure?

Eating chocolate. I have a bag of Dove Easter Eggs by me now as I type this.

Favorite read?

Gone With The Wind. I was about eleven when I first read it and man, it sucked me right into the old south, so much so I couldn’t stop thinking about the characters. I think it was the first book that sparked my need to write. I also love Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plumb books.

Garden tip?

I talk to my plants. Sometimes I name them. We just sit, chat and they grow or die-depending on the subject. Oh of course, you look and sound like a bonafide loon, but it’s very good therapy. During my research for my paranormal novel, I came upon an interesting item that witches believe in telling the plant why you are taking a piece of it and frequently ask for its permission. I don’t know what they do if the plant says no. Witches believe in being polite to the energies. I’ve also learned that if you plant pansies, foxglove and snapdragons you’ll attract fairies. Careful though, they like to sneak into your house and take things and move them around. I’m still looking for my glasses!

Side dish or drink for the party?

Strawberry Margarita’s

I’ll have to remember about the fairies. It would be nice to have a few in the garden, but maybe the wooden kind from the garden store. Don’t want any in my house unless they have magic cleaning powers!

Now, before you go I have one more question.

When your time comes (a long, long time from now), what mark do you hope to leave behind?

Boy, that’s a deep question. I think I have to say that I hope my books will still be around and readers will still be enjoying them long after I’m gone. That would be a dream!

Julie, I think that’s a wonderful legacy. We all just want to be remembered and what better way than through the stories we leave behind.

Thank you for coming today, Julie. Next time, we’ll have to make some Strawberry Margaritas, and if the tomatoes are ready, some homemade salsa. Good luck with new book.

A Soldier’s Embrace is currently available at

Dancing on the ceiling…Maybe

I just mailed off my latest and greatest, the manuscript based on my experience in the horse show industry. (FYI, none of the characters are based on actual people, no matter how much they seem to be. Wink!)

I’m not convinced my query was as strong as it could have been, but after staring at it for a few days I had to either bite the bullet or chicken out…
I bit the bullet.

Now I feel stupid because I just realized after checking and rechecking the email, I left a blank page for a header, then forgot to add the header. **hitting myself over the head with my laptop.*** Oh well, shit happens.

Crossing fingers and toes, uncrossing, and crossing again.


Thursday, April 1, 2010

April Showers...

I’ve been looking forward to April for some time now. March Novel in a Month is over and even though I didn’t write an entire novel, I got pretty far with a new MS. Updates to follow, but for now I can tell you the story involves a salty dog sea caption and a married woman. Interested? Leave a post.

I’m also excited to be putting the finishing touches on another MS tonight to mail off to a publisher tomorrow. Cross your fingers and toes all goes well! This one is about a horse trainer with a shady past and a woman hell bent on overcoming her bad choices. I’ll post more after I hear back from the publisher.

April is the month I promised to start Garden Party Saturdays. I have an excellent new Historical Romance Writer lined up for this week, Julie Romero. Her novel, A Soldier’s Embrace, is currently available in e-book format and print from Bluewood Publishing. More to come Saturday.
For now I’m off to polish. See you Saturday.