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Jennifer Zane and “The Lady and the Lawman”

A few writing tidbits about me:

  1. lady_lawman_200x300I contemplate my plots, twists, sagging middles (and I don’t mean my belly!) in the bathtub. In my house with three boys (two kids and a husband), I savor the peace and quiet in the bath.
  2. I’m not a morning writer. I’m not a morning anything, actually.
  3. For Gnome On the Range, I used my sons as book fodder. Yes, one did get his arm stuck in a patio umbrella stand (I have a photo to prove it). Yes, when they were younger, they’d rather pee outside than in. They were the easiest characters to write because little ones are genuine and have great things to say and do that are hilarious.
  4. I love cowboys. Who doesn’t? When I lived in Montana (and we lived in a town, not out on a ranch), I didn’t live the ‘cowboy’ lifestyle. The closest I get to a cow is under plastic at the grocery store. One day at the gas station there was a cowboy. A REAL cowboy. I swear my heart skipped a beat like in a book. He was big, broad, dark haired. Cowboy hat. Wranglers. Big pickup truck. Full handlebar mustache. I was gobsmacked. Sorry, husband-of-mine, but a cowboy is…wow. That’s why I wrote The Lady and the Lawman because I wanted a cowboy of my own.
  5. When I think about my characters like I would real people in my life, I know I’m at a spot in my story that’s good. They become real to me and want to stay with them, to learn more about them. So I sit down and keep writing. And keep writing. Hopefully, you’ll keep reading!

About The Lady and the Lawman

Desperate to escape a fiancé who plans to marry, then murder her for her wealth, Margaret Atwater runs West as a mail-order bride. Freedom seems to be within her grasp until her stage coach is robbed and the driver killed. Her life is spared, only she’s taken and sold to a brothel. Now she’s a high dollar ante for the brothel owner, and the only eyewitness to cold-blooded murder.

Colorado sheriff, Grant Masterson, is looking for a killer, not a woman. When a round of cards turns into a high-stakes game for the life and future of the lovely and innocent Miss Margaret Atwater, he must win. Grant isn’t prepared for the danger and chaos that haunts his prize. Outlaws are trying to kill her.  The brothel owner wants her back. And a man from her past is willing to do anything to reclaim what he lost. Will bullets and brawn be enough to save her?

Excerpt

Colorado – 1878

Curled in a ball on the uncomfortable bench seat of the stage, her arm an awkward pillow against the jolts and rocking of the stage, Margaret Atwater snoozed fitfully. The heat was stifling, covering her like a wool blanket in July. Her dress clung to her sweaty skin, her hair damp and sticking to her brow. She’d undone the top few buttons at the neck, revealing the full swell of her breasts above her snug corset. The smallest of adjustment offered a reprieve from the endless warmth and the strict confines of polite society. Who cared about social mores when it was almost too hot to breathe, much less be covered head to toe in linen and cotton?

The leather curtains flapped noisily with each rock or lumbering sway. Rays of intense sun intermittently filtered through and burned through her closed lids. She licked her parched lips, anticipating the next stop on the route like a lost man in a desert finding an oasis. She must look as poorly as she felt. But she didn’t care. She was safely away from her fiancé’s clutches and that was her sole concern.

It was impossible to say exactly where she was beyond a two days’ ride west of St. Louis. She’d lost track in the tedium of horse hooves and the never-ending sway and dip of the stage. If she had to guess, she was somewhere in the new state of Colorado.

Deafening shots rang out, rousing her. “What?” she whispered to herself, clearing her fuzzy head.

A second round of gunfire chipped pieces of wood out of the panel above her head and the stage lurched forward with incredible speed.

“Oh no!” she shouted, instinctively covering her head.

There was no time to panic, or even think. Chunks of wood flew through the air and landed in her hair, on her lap. The uncontrollable swaying had her reaching her arms out, one hand hitting the side of the stage, her fancy East Coast hat toppling off her head.

She spread her legs wide on the floor to help maintain her balance and grunted in an unladylike fashion as she held on. If any of her society friends could see her now, they’d probably faint dead away. Her dress was unbuttoned low enough to expose her ample cleavage the lace on her corset, her hat was crushed beneath her feet, and tendrils of her dark hair fell from its pins. Her dress was stained and wrinkled from travel, and most likely beyond repair.

Through the clamoring leather flap, she could make out a blur of the endless green prairie. A wheel caught on what felt like a deep rut and the stage jumped as if it were a feather in the wind. It fell more like a boulder from a cliff.

Dust kicked up as the stage slid to a rough stop and she coughed in the thick air. The stage—and Margaret—landed on its side, the horses unable to drag the heavy load farther. Whoever fired the gunshots were nearby. She heard their heavy breathing from where she laid, sprawled in a heap, her skirts around her neck.

Wincing, she rubbed her hip where she landed on the corner of the seat. Continuing on, she did a quick assessment of the rest of her body and found only a few sore spots and probably, come tomorrow, many a bruise. Attempting to get her bearings, she looked up at the roof, no, the wall of the stage. Carefully but without any ladylike grace, she pulled herself up to the window to peek out, standing on the other wall and door, which were now the floor. Her legs, tangled in the mess of skirts and petticoats, made it extremely difficult.

Two men on horseback waved their guns and one fired again into the air. Her heart leapt into her throat as she covered her ears and flinched at the deafening sound. Only a squeak escaped her throat, a full scream clogged by fear. She was going to die. Alone, standing in a tipped carriage, a complete mess, shot by bandits or robbers or desperadoes. She’d never contemplated how she would eventually die, but she always assumed she’d be old and gray, and not in the middle of nowhere!

 About the Author

Jennifer lives in Colorado, but spent five years hunting cowboys in Montana. She’s a Civil War buff who drags her children to reenactments back East where she grew up. She’s writing the next book in her Gnome Novel Series—this one titled: Gnome, Alaska. Her historical western—The Lady and the Lawman—was released in May.

Available

Amazon

AllRomance Ebooks

Contacts

jennifer@jenniferzane.com

www.jenniferzane.com

Twitter: @jenniferzane

Facebook: jenniferzanewriter

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Guest Interview: Author Kristina Knight

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My guest today is Kristina Knight, a fellow member of the Maumee Valley chapter of the Romance Writers of America. Kristi had three books published last year by Crimson Romance and was up for Best New Author of the Year in the Sizzling PR blog poll. She has truly been an inspiration to the rest of us in the group!

Welcome to Susana’s Morning Room, Kristi. It’s an honor to have you with us today. What inspired you to start writing?

I’ve always had a love affair with books. First it was reading them, but before long I was daydreaming along with the books I read. When I read Grimm’s Fairy Tales I wanted to change them to be happy stories, and when I read The Three Musketeers I wondered what might have happened if the Musketeers had been girls like me…eventually, the stories in my head were all my own and I wrote them down.

What advice would you give writers just starting out?

Keep learning. Take workshops, practice, practice, practice…and own what you write. Don’t make excuses for writing romance or fantasy or whatever you write. Own it.

Do you ever suffer from writer’s block? If so, what do you do about it?

I don’t believe in writer’s block, actually. That doesn’t mean I wake up every day cheering about my story. Some days I hate what I’m writing, but I think a lot of writers get stuck or go in a wrong direction and blame writer’s block rather than trying to work through the problem. Instead of completely stopping my progress, I look at the chapter or maybe 2 chapters before the spot that is giving me problems and try to figure out where I’ve gone wrong. 

What comes first, the plot or the characters?

Characters and usually a beginning scene…and from there, the rest falls into place.

Tell us something about your newest release that is NOT in the blurb.

What a Texas Girl Needs is the second in my Texas Girl series. Vanessa wasn’t always Vanessa, though…she started out her fictional life with a different name. It wasn’t until she admitted her name was Vanessa that the story got rolling.

Are you working on something at present you would like to tell us about?

I just turned in the third Texas book, What a Texas Girl Dreams, to my editor…Monica is the third and youngest of the Texas sisters and she’s more opinionated, stubborn and mushy than the other two combined! Oh, and I’m starting a new project this week that has a suspense edge to it – having a lot of fun with that!

What are you reading now?

I’m reading the Silver Creek series by Delores Fossen; I read the first book and loved it then realized there were five more. I’m devouring them right now and I’m already sad that there is a set number of books…

What books or authors have most influenced your own writing?

I like so many authors for so many different things. Nora Roberts does things with character is just floor me, Karin Tabke has a way with suspense that just…wow. I love Suzanne Enoch’s strong heroines and if I could write a love scene like Kate Walker…Oh, sigh.

What is your work schedule like when writing?

It’s as random as it is when I’m not writing. I have a four-year-old daughter, a radio show and I’m also a non-fiction writer. So everything gets squeezed in where it fits for that day. My M-W-F mornings are fairly routing – I take the kiddo to school and then write until 11:30 when she’s released. But other days I may write in the morning or late at night…it just depends on what is going on.

What did you want to be when you grew up?

I’ve always wanted to be a writer and I’m blessed that I get to write every day.

What is your favorite food? Least favorite? Why?

How about food type? Anything Mexican—quesadillas, fajitas…Love, love, love authentic Mexican food. Um…my least favorite is probably liver and onions. I had to eat it as a kid and I’ve never made it as an adult…

Are you a plotter or a pantser?

I’m a pant-lotter. I’ve found that an outline can help me keep the story elements in place. But I’m not rigid about the outline. Elements may get moved around or changed completely. Most of my outlines barely resemble the finished book, but it works for me.

Say your publisher has offered to fly you anywhere in the world to do research on an upcoming book. Where would you most likely want to go?

Since it’s barely 20 degrees today and there are about six inches of snow on the ground, I’m going to the Caribbean. I don’t care where, but take me to a beach!

Do you have a favorite quote or saying?

I love the Joan Wilder quote from Romancing the Stone—’you’re the best time I’ve ever had’. I love the sentiment of that.

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About Kristina:

Once upon a time, Kristina Knight spent her days running from car crash to fire to meetings with local police—no, she wasn’t a troublemaker, she was a journalist. When the opportunity to focus a bit of energy on the stories in her head, she jumped at it. And she’s never looked back. Now she writes magazine articles by day and romance novels with spice by night. She lives on Lake Erie with her husband and three-year-old daughter. Happily ever after.

Website: http://www.kristinaknightauthor.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/kristinaknightromanceauthor

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/authorkristina

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/kristinaknight

What a Texas Girl Needs

Vanessa Witte is ready to finally claim her life. The middle of three daughters born into the Witte family – a powerful Texas name—she’s been content to float through life. Being dumped by her shady ex? A blessing in disguise. Having a one-night-stand with Matias Barnes? Not one of her more stellar moments. But she’s back in Lockhardt with a secret and a reason to start fresh: a baby.

Matias Barnes knows all about society women—it’s part of the reason he left his wealthy family behind and took a job on a ranch. He doesn’t like the endless string of parties, the inane conversation, or the gold-digging tricks those women have perfected. But that doesn’t stop him from wanting Vanessa Witte. Mat knows she’s so not right for him, but with her back in Lockhardt, can he resist her charms long enough to really let her go?

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