Book Sale: The Secret Life of Mrs. London by Rebecca Rosenberg

The Secret Life of Mrs. London

Rebecca Rosenberg, author of the new historical novel, The Secret Life of Mrs. London, revealing the love triangle between Houdini, Charmian and Jack London.

Only One Woman Could Beguile Two Legends!

Join Rebecca in a visual romp back to San Francisco, 1915, when famed author Jack London and his wife, Charmian London, attend the Great Houdini’s Chinese Water Torture Escape in San Francisco. What happened next was almost lost to history!

In paperback at Amazon for $7.99 for the entire month of May! 

THE SECRET LIFE OF MRS. LONDON

San Francisco, 1915. As America teeters on the brink of world war, Charmian and her husband, famed novelist Jack London, wrestle with genius and desire, politics and marital competitiveness. Charmian longs to be viewed as an equal partner who put her own career on hold to support her husband, but Jack doesn’t see it that way…until Charmian is pulled from the audience during a magic show by escape artist Harry Houdini, a man enmeshed in his own complicated marriage. Suddenly, charmed by the attention Houdini pays her and entranced by his sexual magnetism, Charmian’s eyes open to a world of possibilities that could be her escape.

As Charmian grapples with her urge to explore the forbidden, Jack’s increasingly reckless behavior threatens her dedication. Now torn between two of history’s most mysterious and charismatic figures, she must find the courage to forge her own path, even as she fears the loss of everything she holds dear.

Editorial Reviews

Review

The Secret Life of Mrs. London is a heart-wrenching portrait of a marriage between two people who utterly depend on one another, but ultimately aren’t enough for each other. With skillful precision of language, Rosenberg weaves a narrative that defines the complexities of love, passion, and art. This is a perceptive, deeply moving novel by a great new talent about a couple who has gone unnoticed in historical fiction until now. Anyone who has ever loved another person will want to read this book.” —Victoria Kelly, author of Mrs. Houdini: A Novel

“One of Houdini’s best kept secrets was his affair with Charmian London in 1918. Now Rebecca Rosenberg tells the story using an elegant blend of fact and fiction, creating a Houdini book like no other. The Secret Life of Mrs. London is a true peek behind the curtain and a page-turner.” —John Cox, Wild about Harry

 

About the Author:

Rebecca at carriage

California native Rebecca Rosenberg lives on a lavender farm with her family in Sonoma, the Valley of the Moon, where she and her husband founded the largest lavender product company in America, Sonoma Lavender. A long-time student of Jack London’s work and an avid fan of his daring wife, Charmian, Rosenberg is a graduate of the Stanford Writing Certificate Program. THE SECRET LIFE OF MRS. LONDON is her first novel, following her non-fiction, LAVENDER FIELDS OF AMERICA.

Rebecca Rosenberg’s next historical novel is GOLD DIGGER the story of BABY DOE TABOR.

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Interview with Author Sheri Fink

sheri-fink-bragI’d like to welcome Sheri Fink today to talk with me about her latest book release, Cake in Bed. Sheri is an inspirational speaker, a #1 best-selling author, an award-winning entrepreneur, and the creator of “The Whimsical World of Sheri Fink” brand. Sheri writes books that inspire and delight kids of all ages while planting seeds of self-esteem. All five of her children’s books have become #1 best-sellers, including The Little Rose which was a #1 Amazon Best-seller for over 60 weeks.

CBS Los Angeles selected her as one of the top three authors in the local area, a distinction she shares with Dean Koontz. Sheri’s brand is the recipient of the prestigious Mom’s Choice Award for the best in family friendly entertainment. She was recently named an inspirational beauty by supermodel Cindy Crawford’s “Beauties Give Back” campaign.

Sheri’s newest adventure is a contemporary romance. She was inspired to write Cake in Bed, her debut novel, to empower women to be their authentic selves and to not settle for less than they deserve in life or in love, because everyone deserves to have their cake and eat it too … preferably in bed! Discover more about Sheri and her books here.

Hi, Sheri! Thank you for visiting me today at Layered Pages Congrats on your new book release, Cake in Bed. Please tell me about your story and the inspiration behind it.

Cake in Bed is a fun and flirty book that empowers women to be their authentic selves and not settle for less than they deserve in life or love, because we all deserve to have our cake and eat it too … preferably in bed! Several years ago my world changed when I found myself happily divorced and dating for the first time in my adult life. The emotions I was feeling and the experiences I was having inspired me to write something completely new. It’s a sexy, happily-ever-after story for smart women who believe in love in the modern world. And trust me, it’s NOT your grandmother’s romance.

Why is everlasting, romantic love so important to Julie?

Julie is a hopeful romantic. She has always given more than she has received and wants a true partnership with a good man. In the beginning of the story, she misguidedly believes that she needs a man to be happy. Through her experiences with dating and her friends, she discovers happiness within herself and then finds love unexpectedly. I think a lot of women can relate to Julie’s fictional journey.

cake-in-bedWhat are Julie’s emotional triggers and how does she act on them?

Based on her limited past experiences with men, Julie’s biggest emotional trigger is abandonment. She is so afraid of losing someone that she doesn’t stop to consider whether they’re worth keeping in the first place. Initially, she acts from a place of fear. Eventually, she discovers her value and makes choices from a place of self-love.

How is she influenced by her settings and is something humorous that she embarks on?

Julie discovers herself on a humorous and sometimes heartbreaking journey while finding love in an unexpected place. In the opening scene of Cake in Bed, Julie is wearing her wedding dress, eating what would’ve been her one-year-wedding anniversary cake in bed alone. She sets out to find true love but is new to dating, so she encounters situations that befuddle her. Her transformation is one that many women go through as we learn to truly love and value ourselves.

What was your process when writing your story?

I began writing dialogue and pivotal scenes several years ago as they would flow into my mind. The characters took me on a roller coaster ride as the story unfolded for me through their eyes. That continued for over 2 years until I decided to type my writing into a manuscript and then filled in the missing scenes. It was challenging and rewarding to finish the book.

Where can reader buy your book?

Cake in Bed is available in paperback and ebook formats:

Amazon US / Amazon UK / Amazon Canada
Barnes & Noble
iBooks
Kobo

What do you link most about writing Romance and will there be any more romance stories from you?

I really enjoyed the challenge, freedom, and flexibility that came from writing in a new genre. My goal was to write something sweet, sexy, and romantic that I would actually want to read. I wanted to empower women to believe in themselves and their possibilities. I have ideas for 3 more books in the Cake in Bed series … Stay tuned!

In your bio it says you are an empowering speaker. Will you tell me a little about that?

One of my joys is inspiring and empowering audiences. I share my strategies for overcoming adversity and living life with passion and aliveness. My talks focus on authenticity, confidence, and personal empowerment. I also speak about what it takes to be a successful author and the behind-the-scenes of transforming an idea into a book. I’ve been really blessed in my career to get to speak to over 30,000 people throughout North America. I love it!

How has writing impacted your life?

I’ve been writing since I was a little girl. Having the courage to share my writing with the world has completely changed my life. I love hearing from Fans that my books, articles, and talks inspired them to go after their dreams. It makes all the hard work worthwhile to know that I’m creating something I love and making a positive difference in the world.

What is up next for you?

Coming soon are audiobook editions of the The Little Rose and The Little Seahorse, as well as paperback editions of all 5 of my best-selling children’s books: The Little Rose, The Little Gnome, The Little Firefly, The Little Seahorse, and Exploring the Garden with the Little Rose. I’m expanding my Cake in Bed Painting Parties (Cake in Bed-themed painting, wine, cake, and reading) throughout Southern California. I’m also excited to share that I’ve been selected as a contestant on this season’s Dancing with the South Bay Stars in which I’ll be dancing on behalf of the wonderful non-profit South Bay Children’s Health Center. It’ll be so much fun!

B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree

Article at indieBRAG: Writing Across Genres: How Boldly Following Your Inspiration Can Change Your Destiny

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My Guest, Author Anna Belfrage

Stephanie: Hello, Anna! Thank you for chatting with me today. It is always a pleasure and I am honored you have taken the time to visit with me again. With all the wonderful stories and articles you have written, you are one busy lady! I’m in the middle of reading your book, A Newfound Land and I’m enjoying it very much! The Grahams sure do keep you on your toes! Please tell your audience a little about your new book.

Anna: “A little about my new book” – you are a hoot, Stephanie! I have a problem abbreviating my books, but if I try, I’d say that A Newfound Land is a story about attempting to recreate yourself in a new land and realizing you can’t, as you are much more defined by your past than by the place you live in. It is also about the inherent conflicts between a 17th century man and a 20th century woman – as you know, Alex Graham is a time-traveler, having had the misfortune (or not, depending on what you think of Matthew) of being propelled three centuries backwards in time. Talk about being in the wrong place at the wrong time…

Anyway, in A Newfound Land, the Graham family is struggling to set down roots in their new homeland, the Colony of Maryland. Religious strife forced them to leave Scotland behind, and while the life of a settler is harsh, Alex is hoping that life will become less fraught with conflict in their new home than it was in their old.

Things happen, as they say, and suddenly both Alex and Matthew have to confront spectres from their past. Old enmities blossom into new life, Matthew’s defense of the Native Americans make life-long enemies of the Burley brothers, and just like that Alex is yet again thrown into an existence that very much revolves around her fear that someone will kill her husband.

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Stephanie: What are some of the different challenges they face in America versus Scotland?

Anna: To start with, they have to settle land. Sometimes I think we have a very romanticized version of what it must have been like to ride out into unknown forests and attempt to create a home, a working farm. The sheer work involved was enormous, and while 17th century Scotland had little amenities compared to the present day and age, it was substantially more civilized than the Maryland hinterlands.

Further to this, we have the Native Americans – or Indians, as I call them in the book, just as the white settlers did. If you push people off their land, you cannot be surprised when they start to retaliate, and the threat of a native uprising was always there. In Maryland, things turned very nasty in the 1670’s, affecting Matthew’s and Alex’s life.

Then there was the isolation. Living out in the woods, with well over an hour’s ride to the closest neighbor, required that you be very self-sufficient. It also helped if you liked each other, as there was no other company to be had. Fortunately, Matthew and Alex do like each other. A lot.

Stephanie: How do Alex’s children adjust to the new world?

Anna: Having experienced what it is like to move around to various parts of the globe as a child, I can tell you that as long as there’s a mother and a father around, most children have no problem in adapting to new circumstances. If anything, they have it much easier than the adults, being unburdened with such emotions as nostalgia and homesickness.

Stephanie: That is true!

What is the research that was involved for this book? What have you learned about America that maybe you didn’t know before?

Anna: Well, I obviously learned a lot about the Susquehannock – much more than I knew before, but still very little, as the tribe left very few traces of their existence. My Qaachow, the Susquehannock chief that befriends Matthew and Alex, is a homage to a people that no longer is, but that once were, a powerful tribe that controlled a large part of northern Maryland into Pennsylvania and Delaware.

Then I had the pleasure of learning more about present day Annapolis, founded in the 1650’s by Puritans fleeing persecution in Virginia and at the time named Providence, which is the name I use throughout the book. I believe, you see, that the original Puritan settlers would prefer holding on to this name rather than that of Anne Arundel’s City, which was its official name. Not a name that would go down well with Puritans, as Anne Arundel was Catholic.

Stephanie: Why did you choose Maryland as the colony they moved too?

Anna: Maryland has the proud distinction of being the first place in the world that implemented an Act of Toleration.(One could argue the Muslim kingdoms in Spain were as – if not more – tolerant, but their tolerance came at a price, as Jews and Christians paid extra taxes to be allowed to practice their faiths) Maryland’s Act of Toleration was restricted to Trinitarian faiths – i.e. to such faiths that believed in Jesus Christ, and it was expressly forbidden, under pain of death, to question Jesus’ divinity. Not much of an Act of Toleration, you might think, but if you set it into context (a century marked by religious strife, where Catholics were persecuted in some countries, Protestants in others, and Puritans in very many) it is a remarkably foresighted piece of legislation, brought into place by Lord Calvert, who was a Catholic grandee that owned the colony outright. Maryland’s Act of Toleration is in many ways a precursor to the First Amendment in the American Constitution. In a world full of religious strife, it was an innovative attempt to heal rather than breach.

So when Matthew was obliged to flee his home country due to religious issues, Maryland would have seemed a good choice. Virginia was not an option, being fiercely Anglican (and Matthew would no more return to Virginia than he would have amputated his foot, having spent several humiliating months as a slave on a plantation), Massachusetts was far too Puritan, even for Matthew (who also had to consider his opinionated and vociferous wife) and besides, he had a friend in Maryland, Thomas Leslie.

Stephanie: Can you give us some background information on the Susquehannock Indians? A without giving too much away, their role in the story?

Anna: To write a novel set in Colonial America and gloss over the consequences of white man’s arrival to the original inhabitants would be to misrepresent history. In the area where Matthew and Alex make their home, the Susquehannock used to reign supreme, so of course this was the tribe they would encounter.
In general, the story of the Susquehannock follows the depressing pattern of what happened to very many of the indigenous tribes in the wake of European colonization, both in North and South America.
Upon the arrival of white man, the Susquehannock controlled most of the region round the upper parts of Chesapeake Bay. The Susquehannock welcomed the settlers and traded with them, but inevitably tension spread as the new arrivals claimed more and more land. Despite this, the relationship with the Susquehannock remained amicable – until the Indian wars of the 1670’s, when the Susquehannock were dragged into the conflict between the Powhatan and the Virginia settlers.
The colonist militia made no difference between Susquehannock and Powhatan: an Indian was an Indian, full stop. On one occasion, a band of militia snuck upon a group of unsuspecting Susquehannock and murdered them all in their sleep, and after that the previously good relationship deteriorated into open war.
Today, the Susquehannock are no more. Decimated by epidemics and forced to flee their homelands in the conflicts of the 1670’s, many of them joined the Mohawk. A small group of Susquehannock Indians settled in Conestoga Town in Pennsylvania and survived into the 18th century, but were brutally massacred in 1763 by the Paxton Boys in the aftermath of the French and Indian Wars. One of the little boys killed was called Qaachow, which is how my Susquehannock chief got his name.

In A Newfound Land, Qaachow and his tribe befriend Matthew and Alex, and a tenuous relationship is established whereby Matthew will keep Qaachow’s back and vice versa. I wanted there to be personal feelings involved and invested when Matthew interceded on behalf of the Indian women he saves from abduction. Why? Well, it will become clear as the Graham saga proceeds.

Stephanie: Matthew, never ceases to amaze me. He is always finding himself in danger. He is quite the character. What are his weaknesses and strengths in this story?

Anna: Well, in my book, Matthew has very few weaknesses.
“Hmph!” snorts Alex. “And what about that soft spot he has for rabid preachers, hey?” Yes, she does have a point. Matthew’s somewhat over-tender conscience sometimes leads him into the company of narrow-minded little bigots, such as Richard Campbell, and this, I suppose, is a weakness, as is his desire to revenge himself on Dominic Jones, the overseer who treated him so badly all those years ago on a plantation in Virginia.
Another little weakness – at least according to Alex – is his continued affection for Kate Jones, Dominic’s wife. Alex drowns in bright green jealousy whenever she sees this elegant and attractive woman anywhere near her husband – and even worse, Alex can understand what Matthew sees in her, given that Alex finds Kate quite likeable too.

His strengths are manifold; integrity, perseverance, courage – and a big heart, large enough to accommodate his sizeable brood of children and his wife, whom he loves to the point of distraction. A good fighter, an excellent shot, he is also intelligent, steadfast and generally good at keeping his temper in check, although his wife can at times rile him to the point where his rage boils over.
Mostly, though, I like his tenderness. Not a man given to grand gestures or endearments, Matthew loves quietly, patiently – well, except when the passion he feels for his wife surges through his veins, scorching him, but even then, he is mostly gentle.
Stephanie: Will there be a fifth book in this fantastic series?

Anna: Thank you for the compliment, dear Stephanie! There will be four more books in the series, all of them written, all of them planned for publication. And when the eighth is published I’m going to crawl up in an armchair and cry my eyes out, because how am I to survive without writing (or re-writing) new anecdotes from Matthew’s and Alex’s life?

Stephanie: Where in your home is your favorite place to write?

Anna: At my desk, especially purchased for this purpose. It sits in a corner of our living room, which means I can submerge myself in my writing while still keeping a fond eye on my husband.
Stephanie: Coffee or tea?

Anna: Tea. Real tea, not that rooibos stuff. I like it black, I like it green, I like it iced but I never, ever take milk.

Stephanie: I like green tea as well, with two sugars, no milk. I especially need it while writing.

Where can readers buy your book?

Anna: Anywhere where books are sold, Stephanie. It’s available on Amazon, on Barnes & Noble, and a number of other e-retailers, plus in quite a few bookshops.

Stephanie: Thank you, Anna!! XX

Anna: Thank you for hosting me, Stephanie. It is always an honour to pop by Layered Pages.

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I was always going to be a writer – or a historian, preferably both. Ideally, I aspired to becoming a pioneer time traveller, but science has as yet not advanced to the point of making that possible. Instead I ended up with a degree in Business and Finance, with very little time to spare for my most favourite pursuit. Still, one does as one must, and in between juggling a challenging career I raised my four children on a potent combination of invented stories, historical debates and masses of good food and homemade cakes. They seem to thrive … Nowadays I spend most of my spare time at my writing desk. The children are half grown, the house is at times eerily silent and I slip away into my imaginary world, with my imaginary characters. Every now and then the one and only man in my life pops his head in to ensure I’m still there. I like that – just as I like how he makes me laugh so often I’ll probably live to well over a hundred.

I was always going to be a writer. Now I am – I have achieved my dream.

Interview with Author Merry Farmer

Merry Farmer Headshot

Merry Farmer lives in suburban Philadelphia with her two cats, Butterfly and Torpedo. She has been writing since she was ten years old and realized one day that she didn’t have to wait for the teacher to assign a creative writing project to write something. It was the best day of her life. She then went on to earn not one but two degrees in History so that she would always having something to write about. Today she walks along the cutting edge of Indie Publishing, writing Historical Romance and Women’s Sci-Fi. She is also passionate about blogging, knitting, and cricket and is working towards becoming an internationally certified cricket scorer.

Stephanie: Hello Merry! Thank you for chatting with me today. Please tell me about what genre you write in?

Merry:  I write in a couple of different genres, actually.  So far I’ve published historical romance, one medieval series and one western series set in the late 1890s in Montana.  But I also write what I like to call “Sci-fi for Women”, and I have a fun time travel series that I’d like to work on someday.  I love the fact that with self-publishing I don’t have to be bound by just one genre.  There are so many stories out there to write!  I may even try a contemporary romance someday.

Stephanie: What is the title of your latest book and will you please tell me a little about it? 

Merry: The last novel that I published is titles “In Your Arms”.  It’s part of my Montana Romance series and tells the story of Lily Singer, a Native American woman who was raised at an Indian School back east but has now returned to the west as a teacher, and her fiery romance with Christian Avery, the town’s Justice of the Peace.  They find themselves on opposite ends of a dispute over the school, and sparks fly!  I really love this one because it’s given me a chance to explore the way Native Americans were treated in this country after the “Cowboys and Indians” era of history.  And it was so much fun to write a romance with so many sparks!

Stephanie: How many books do you have published? 

Merry: I’ve published 10 all together so far, including one compilation of the three novellas in the Montana Romance series.

Stephanie: Do you find anything challenging about writing in the Romance genre?

Merry:  I think the biggest challenge is writing a well-trodden genre in a new and fresh way.  There are only so many romance themes out there, and a lot of writers are exploring them.  It’s a trick to write original characters and stories.  I think one thing I may have going for me in that regard is that I’ve never been interested in the traditional duke or billionaire.  I like writing about the regular people, the ones who usually end up as secondary characters.  The hero of the second book of my Noble Hearts series, The Faithful Heart, is actually a peasant!  Well, he started out that way.

Stephanie: When did you first begin to write and when did you know you wanted to be a writer?

Merry:  I first started writing actual stories and works of fiction for my own entertainment when I was 10 years old.  I’ve always been a bit of an introvert, and in the midst of a difficult childhood, reading and writing was the perfect escape.  I think I always wanted to be a writer, but for a long time I convinced myself that that wasn’t something grownups did.  Looking back, I would say I wasted a lot of time in my 20s not writing when I should have gone for it!  The lesson there is never to let outside forces tell you that your dreams aren’t realistic.

Stephanie: What are some of the inspirations for your stories?

Merry: I find history itself incredibly inspiring.  There are so many stories that actually happened long ago that people have forgotten.  I get especially fired up by the fact that most of the history we learn in school is presented in totally the wrong way and gives people the wrong ideas.  Plus the fact that the late 19th century was incredibly advanced in terms of technology, medicine, and society, but for some reason people nowadays assume everyone was backwards.  Same goes for the middle ages.  It just isn’t so!  And I also have to add that my science fiction series, which I will start publishing this summer, actually has a very historical feeling to it.  I’m taking a lot of the same issues we faced in the past and applying them to colonists settling a new planet.

Stephanie: Do you work with an outline or just write?

Merry: That’s an interesting question!  I used to just write.  I would wait for the story to come to me organically.  But the more serious I’ve gotten about writing, especially series, the more I plan things in advance.  I still don’t sit down and outline everything before I start a book, though.  I know about four or five points I plan to hit along the way, but the only time I actually write out where the plot will go is at various times in the middle of the process when I decide I need a compass for the next few chapters.  Mini-outlining as I go has turned into an incredibly effective tool for me.

Stephanie: What have you learned about writing along the way? 

Merry: That it’s a serious commitment!  And you can never rest on your laurels and assume that what you’ve written is perfect.  I’m always open to critique, because as painful as it can be, it’s the best way to grow and become a better writer.

Stephanie: Is there a particular writer who has influenced your work?

Merry: As much as I want to say Jane Austen or J.K. Rowling or L.M. Montgomery, my favorite authors, I think the truth is that I learn the most from whatever book I’m reading at the time.  That includes beta-reading for friends.  By constantly reading new authors and revisiting my old favorites, I learn more, get more ideas, and also figure out what mistakes to steer clear of!

Stephanie: Is there a message you would like to give to your readers? 

Merry: Does THANK YOU count?  No, seriously!  I’ve been writing for myself for years, but this whole thing takes on so much more meaning when I write for other people.  And your feedback, whether in the form of reviews or chatting via my Facebook page or even the occasional email, means everything to me.

Stephanie: Where can readers buy your book? 

Merry: Anywhere you can buy eBooks!  Or paperback books too, although you may have to special order them.

Thank you!

In Your Arms [e-book draft b]

Lily Singer has never belonged. Taken from her tribe as a child and raised in a white man’s school, she no longer has a place in either world. Teaching has become her life. When that life is threatened by rumors and prejudice after a string of robberies, she must turn for help to the one man who spells disaster for her carefully ordered existence. Will he save her or steal her heart?

Christian Avery, Justice of the Peace, is used to having things his way. Cold Springs is his responsibility, and when its citizens blame the local Indian population for the mysterious robberies, it’s up to him to restore order and maintain calm. The one person who refuses to follow his lead is the beautiful, native-born Lily. Her defiance turns his life upside down.

But when town gossip shifts from robberies to romance after a foolish indiscretion, Lily’s job and reputation are on the line. She must choose between the only life she has ever known and the only place she has ever felt at home, in Christian’s arms.

Get In Your Arms on Amazon, Amazon UK, Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, and iBooks. Add In Your Arms to your Goodreads to-read shelf!

Find Merry Farmer on her websiteFacebookTwitter, and Amazon Author Page

 

Interview with Author Becca Lawton

Becca Lawton

Stephanie: Rebecca Lawton is an author and naturalist whose essays, poems, and stories have been published in Orion, Sierra, The San Francisco Chronicle Magazine, Shenandoah, Standing Wave, THEMA, the acorn, More, and other journals.  She has received the Ellen Meloy Fund Award for Desert Writers, three Pushcart Prize nominations (in fiction, nonfiction, and poetry), and residencies at The Island Institute in Sitka, Alaska, and Hedgebrook Retreat for Women Writers in Langley, Washington. Becca was among the first women whitewater guides on the Colorado River in Grand Canyon and on other rivers in the West. Her essay collection on the guiding life, Reading Water: Lessons from the River (Capital Books), was a San Francisco Chronicle bestseller and ForeWord Nature Book of the Year finalist.  Her novel, Junction, Utah, set in the beautiful and resource-rich Green River valley, was released in early 2013 by van Haitsma Literary as an original e-book and later in 2013 as a softcover book (Wavegirl). With Geoff Fricker, Rebecca is co-author of the forthcoming Sacrament: Homage to a River (Heyday, 2014), and her first collection of short stories, Steelies and Other Endangered Species, is due out from Little Curlew Press in 2014.

Hello Becca! Thank you for chatting with me today and congrats on winning the BRAG Medallion. Please tell me about your book, Junction, Utah.

Becca: Hi Stephanie! Thank you for hosting me. I’m thrilled to receive the BRAG Medallion, as it’s clear from the Indie BRAG website that the books you recognize are very high quality. I’m happy to be among the honorees!

 

Junction, Utah, is a romance and adventure story set in the river valleys of Utah and other parts of the West. It’s based on my years as a river guide and a geologist working in some of the settings in the book. It’s also a work of ecofiction. I became concerned as I worked out there that oil and gas exploration as it was being conducted was going to ruin the place—both the fabric of the community and the integrity of the wilderness. I wanted to tell a story that would draw readers into the lives of characters based on real people and wildlife living in these places time had otherwise forgotten—and where the way of life is as beautiful as the land.

 

Stephanie: Sounds wonderful and I do like stories that are based on real people and places. Please tell me about your character Madeline Kruse. What are her strengths and weaknesses?

 

Becca: Madeline is a twenty-nine year old river guide who, even at that relatively young age, is a long-time veteran of rivers. She’s never known her father, who has been missing since going to fight in the Vietnam War, and her concern for her mother’s fragile health sends Madeline on a bit of a quest. She finds her way to Junction to work a season as a guide and discovers that many of the issues she’s run from in her home state of Oregon are in full play in Utah as well. She’s a fairly voiceless character through much of the story, and she undergoes transformation, as any good protagonist should.

 

Stephanie: Is there a moral to the story? What would it be?

 

Becca: We’re more alike than we think, in this fractured, dangerous time for our planet. Working together is the only way to save our race and other creatures. Truly.

 

Stephanie: I would agree with you. What was your inspiration for your story?

 

Becca: I didn’t want to preach, but I did want to create awareness about the fragility of our wild world. One thing I’d learned through years of working as a river guide and scientist is how vulnerable natural systems are to change—much more vulnerable than I thought as a young person just getting to know them. A single road cut into a wilderness area causes a stream to start incising, or deeply eroding, its bed. Really, we humans have been changing the world for a long time. We’re only now understanding how unstable nature is in light of our impacts. The changes that come to community, too, are just as intriguing to me, and important. I wanted to write about both.

 

As a friend of mine has said, however, the novel is not “thinly veiled proselytizing.” It’s a story first and foremost, with three acts, a narrative arc, characters who become real to the reader, and settings you’ll never forget. It’s a page turner above all.

 JUNCTION,-UTAH_BRAG

Stephanie: What do you find most challenging about writing?

 

Becca: Sitting still. Some writers have figured out how to write while walking on treadmills, riding stationary bikes, you name it. I write well while strolling in nature with a notebook in hand. But some of the hard work just has to be done indoors at my desk, and that’s been a tough transformation for me, an active person, to have to put myself in a chair and stay there for periods of time.

 

Stephanie: I would have to agree with you. It is even hard for me to sit still while reading sometimes. Most of my reading is while I am on my stationary bike. When I write, I get up and pace while thinking about what I want to say next or how I want to structure my next paragraph or scene. How long have you been a writer? What advice would you give to someone who is thinking about becoming a writer?

 

Becca: I started writing the character sketches for Junction in 1979, for a creative writing class I was taking while living in the Rogue River Valley, Oregon. Scenes from both Utah and Oregon made their way into the book, and they stuck. Before then—really, as far back as grade school—I’d written articles and stories for school publications, and then for adventure/river journals once I became a river guide, but nothing book length.

 

Good advice: figure out how you’ll happily support your habit, in case your books don’t cover the rent. Achieving balance with other work is critical. Maybe you’ll be one of those writers who doesn’t have to keep her day job. If so, wonderful. But be prepared to be good at something else as well.

 

Stephanie: That is sound advice, Becca. What book are you currently working on?

 

Becca: I just contracted with Little Curlew Press in Florida to publish Steelies and Other Endangered Species, a collection of short stories about water and our relationship to it in a changing world. We’ll have a lot of work to bring that out together, and I’m looking forward to it. Meanwhile I’m adapting a play from the title story from that collection, “Steelies.” I’ve written plays before, but this is the first one I’ve worked on that I feel certain will be produced. Meanwhile I have two nonfiction proposals in mind that I hope to have circulating among the markets in early 2014.

 

Stephanie: How wonderful! Looking forward to hearing more about your projects. I do love non-fiction! Tell me what you think of the self-publishing industry.

 

Becca: As varied and capricious as the traditional publishing world. There is incredibly good work in both industries, and there is incredibly bad stuff in both. One thing self publishing has done for authors is allow them creative expression despite the gatekeepers in New York, who have a fairly lock-step view of what’s good literature. Just as I don’t agree much with the views of those in Hollywood who dictate what constitutes good film, I’m not in alignment with the few traditional publishers who are left standing about what the public ought to be reading. But it’s up to those who self- publish to dot every, ”I” and cross every T in book writing and publishing, and to do a good job, and that’s a rare thing. The books recognized by Indie BRAG are excellent examples of how it can be done.

 

Stephanie: Will you self-publish again?

 

Becca: For me, releasing Junction first as an e-book issued by my agent and then as a print version published by my own small press has been the right journey for this particular book. Earlier versions of it were accepted by small presses, but it wasn’t really ready and those acceptances never resulted in a signed contract and a collaboration with a publisher that might have given it the editorial love it needed. After two or three false starts, I gave up on Junction more than once—and only picked it up after dreaming that an agent urged me to get back to work on it now. This was only after my agents at the time, Mike Larsen and Elizabeth Pomada (who I love and owe a huge debt of gratitude for championing my first book), decided to pass on representing it.

 

In getting the Junction manuscript ready for acceptance by another agent, I had to put it through arduous revision. That’s a story in itself, and I love to tell it when I teach at conferences and workshops. It took two years of revision after those first drafts that could have become a book—a different book—earlier on.

 

Stephanie: Please tell me some of the goals you have set for yourself as a writer? It can be anything.

 

Becca: I write every day, at least an hour but more commonly two. I rise on the early side, generally 6 a.m. or earlier, so I can write my wild, creative work before moving on to contract work that brings me more immediate cash. It’s a fairly tenuous existence at the moment, as I recently left a long-time job to work on my own in all arenas, so . . . it’s a grand experiment. Not sure how it will evolve. But, for me, the daily writing goal seems to work best.

 

Stephanie: I need to follow your writing habits. How did you discover indieBRAG?

 

Becca: I believe I conducted an internet search of “awards for independently published books” or something similar. I somehow found my way to Indie BRAG. I loved the look of the books that BRAG champions.

 

Stephanie: Where can readers buy your book?

 

Becca: I always urge readers to go to their local independent bookstore first, to help keep their neighbors in business. If that doesn’t work, it’s easy to buy through my website, www.beccalawton.com, where you can purchase through me or be linked to the online bookstore of your choice.

Author Links:

Facebook: Rebecca Lawton
Twitter: LawtonRebeccaC

Smashwords: http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/274442

A message from BRAG:

We are delighted that Stephanie has chosen to interview Becca Lawton, who is the author of, Junction, Utah, one of our medallion honorees at  www.bragmedallion.com . To be awarded a B.R.A.G. Medallion TM, a book must receive unanimous approval by a group of our readers. It is a daunting hurdle and it serves to reaffirm that a book such as Junction, Utah, merits the investment of a reader’s time and money.