Monday, May 20, 2013

Highlander's Hope with Collette Cameron

Today I am interviewing Historical Romance author, Collette Cameron. I've only known Collette for about six months, but in that time she has bowled me over with her sweet and caring personality. Not only that, she has the most amazingly decorated "shabby-chic" writing space that absolutely matches her and the Historicals she loves to write (see pics below in the About Collette section).

Today Collette is talking about her new release, Highlander's Hope, now available from Soul Mate Publishing and most booksellers on the web.

Blurb

She was an independent heiress, disdainful of marriage.
He was the nobleman who vowed to make her his own.  

Not a day has gone by that Ewan McTavish, the Viscount Sethwick, hasn’t dreamed of the beauty he danced with two years ago. He’s determined to win her heart and make her his own.

Heiress, Yvette Stapleton, is certain of one thing; marriage is risky and, therefore, to be avoided. At first, she doesn’t recognize the dangerously handsome man who rescues her from assailants on London’s docks, but Lord Sethwick’s passionate kisses soon have her reconsidering her cynical views on matrimony.

On a mission to stop a War Office traitor, Ewan draws Yvette into deadly international intrigue. To protect her, he exploits Scottish law, declaring her his lawful wife—without benefit of a ceremony. Yvette is furious upon discovering the irregular marriage is legally binding, though she never said, “I do.” Will Ewan’s manipulation cost him her new found love?

Interview


What are your roots? 
I'm from a small town along the northern Oregon coast.  I still love the beach—especially walking along the shore in the early morning hours and hearing the call of the seagulls overhead.  I like the pounding waves and billowing wind of a winter storm too—as long as I’m snuggled up inside with a cup of piping hot coffee or tea and a good book to read.  Oh, and a few fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies.

Has your own family story impacted your writing
at all? 


 There are a few tidbits of my family story interspersed throughout my books. I had a cousin I was extremely close to. We were best friends our entire lives until she died of brain cancer.  Yvette, the heroine in Highlander’s Hope, has a cousin, Vangie, she’s best friends with. I’ve used a few family names for characters, mostly middle names, and there’s a fire in my third story. I lost my grandparents and a foster brother in two separate house fires, both of suspicious origins. I name a character in my second book the same name as my puppy, and I have a dachshund named Kiki in my third book to commemorate a favorite pet that died last October after I fed her a dog treat that contained tainted chicken jerky. 


How do you describe yourself as a writer? 
 I’ve changed my writing style since I began writing two years ago. In the beginning, I just sat down and wrote whatever came to mind. There was a lot of unnecessary back story, flashbacks, and irrelevant scenes.  I tended to be wordy too.  And talk about flowery prose.  The adverbs and adjectives I cut—sometimes two or three in a single sentence. Ugh 


I still am more of a linear pantser (Borrowed that term from you Maggie!) than a plotter, but now I complete a Goal, Motivation, and Conflict table for my hero and heroine. I also fill out a questionnaire for each of them. It’s over 50 questions, but it really helps me develop them as a character by completing it. I make a list of basic plot points and important details and facts I want to include in the story. 

I tried sitting down and creating an entire outline for my current WIP. It didn’t work for me because my stories write themselves as I go along. My characters take me places I didn’t know I was going and introduce me to concepts I hadn’t expected.  Just this morning while taking the dogs out I had an insight on the scene I’m writing.  The doxie’s came in, and I added the new bit. I love the sudden inspirations that come from out of nowhere.

It’s ironic that, as a writer, I’m more of a “fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants” kind of person; because in all other areas of my life, I am a highly organized planner. Maybe writing is how I express the carefree me.
I’ve only written Regency so far, but I think there’s something magical about creating a story and developing characters based on an authentic time period. I can tap into the history, culture, and customs as if they occurred yesterday. The Regency era was a tumultuous time, a time of tremendous transition and change, and it appeals to the historian and romantic in me. 

I think the Regency era (Georgian and Victorian too) tap into the romantic gene that most women have. I liken it to when girls are little, many of them dream of being princesses.  Regency lets us grown up girls be a “princess” in our imaginations for a brief moment in time.   

Why was it important for you to write this particular novel? 

Highlander’s Hope is my debut novel. The whole concept of writing a book was overwhelming to me. Add the steep learning curve necessary to get acquainted with the industry, and I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to do it; to write a novel, and then actually get it published.

The sense of exaltation I felt when I typed “The End” is something I’ll never forget. Never mind that it wasn’t really the end. There were months of rewriting, editing, and polishing ahead of me.  Still, I proved to myself I could write a book.  It was the beginning of a new adventure for me. I’m middle-aged and I do see myself writing for the rest of my life.

What was hard for you in writing this novel? 

Having to cut half of the original manuscript was a nightmare . The novel I finished had 156,000 words.  (All those adverbs and adjectives, you know.) The published novel will be approximately 83,000 words.

I jumped in and started writing  Highlander’s Hope before I knew what I was doing. My writing was too flowery, too wordy, point-of-view was all over the place, and back flashes? Let’s not even go there. We’ll never get back here—

I’m much more ruthless now with cutting.  One of my critique partners is fabulous at pointing out my flowery prose and suggesting cuts. She’s my writing equivalent to a personal trainer, but instead of making me do another set of sit ups, she makes me cut words and phrases.  And yes it’s hard sometimes, and a whine a bit about it, but if it will strengthen my story I’ll do it.


Are there themes that recur in your work?

Dogs, birds, flowers, blue roses in this trilogy, and my quirky sense of humor.  I always have a subtle inspirational theme too. With the expected external and internal conflict and dark moments, I want my hero and heroine to be people of strong moral character.


What are you working on now? 

I’ve started the third book in my Blue Rose Series, The Earl’s Enticement.  The second book, The Viscount’s Vow will be coming from Soul Mate Publishing too.
What would you like to write in the future? 

I have a six book highland saga that I’m anxious to start.  I’m toying with a historical paranormal trilogy, and I even have an idea for a couple of contemporary romances.  I think before I do any of those though, I’ll have to write a stand-alone novel. That story I  actually know from beginning to end.
If you had to give one piece of advice to women who are searching for something more in their relationships, what would it be? 

Well, after thirty years of marriage, I can honestly say you can’t rely on someone else to make you happy. They can only enhance your happiness and give your life a deeper dimension of meaning. So, don’t focus on what you don’t like about yourself or your circumstances, or even your relationship. Instead, embrace the good, what you do like, what is working— And ignore the little stuff. It really doesn’t matter. 

Excerpt

Peeking at him from beneath her lashes, she reached up to straighten her bonnet. It hung askew off the side of her head, like a giant drooping peony. She shoved it back into place but the moment she removed her hand, it flopped over once more.

The stranger's unrestrained laughter filled the carriage.


“Oh, bother it all.” Yvette’s patience with both her rescuer and the silly bonnet were at an end. She had no choice but to remove the dratted thing to reaffix it. Several strands of hair tumbled to her shoulders when she removed the cap from her head. Suppressing a shriek of annoyance, she placed the hat beside her. She then set about securing the wayward curls. Pinning the last strand in place, her eyes met those of her companion.


Momentarily forgetting her unanswered questions, she stilled, as did the world around her. The air hung suspended in her lungs. Her eyes widened in disbelief, her stunned gaze riveted on his face. “You exist?” Her voice was husky with awe.


Raising an ebony eyebrow, a flicker of humor softened the nobleman’s features. “So it would appear.”


A voice, deep and dark, caressed Yvette’s heightened senses. She stared. Her gaze roved across his handsome features returning, as if compelled by some unseen force, to his eyes.


Those eyes. Fringed by thick lashes, the mesmerizing turquoise pools gazing back at her sent her senses reeling in recognition. Her mouth dropped open. No, it couldn’t be. 


“Am I dreaming?” Giving a quick shake of her head, she lowered her eyelids for a moment. Lud, but she was befuddled. "Who are you?
 

My Review


This book surprised me on several levels.  Though it takes an approach that appears typical for many historical romances these days—Scottish Hero, Regency Historical, and Virgin Heroine—  nothing is completely as it seems. This very independent heroine is escaping a determined and violent suitor, and she has had persistent and sensual dreams of the hero for years. Both of these elements play into a nice mystery plot for the reader to unravel.  Bravo to author Collette Cameron for carrying this off.

There is a lot to love about this book.  The descriptions provide good detail about the era, the dress, and the landscape through the heroine’s eyes. This helps build a welcome and expansive picture in the readers mind. The addition of the mystery plot adds a wonderful twist to villain Edgar’s motivations, while providing plenty of external tension to keep the reader turning the pages.  From the midpoint of the novel to the end, I couldn’t put it down wondering who would die and how the HEA would be fashioned. I stayed up way past my usual 1am to 2am time and dearly paid in lost sleep the next day. But it was worth it!

What makes this book really work, however, are the characterizations Ms. Cameron provides throughout her story, including secondary characters like the caustic Mrs. Pettigrove and the many individual men who are loyal to the hero and both teasing and protective toward the heroine.  Most of all I fell in love with the hero and heroine, in all their complexity. From silly missteps to serious consequences, and from individual insecurities to assured self-confidence, I willingly went on their relationship journey with them.

The heroine, American Yvette Stapleton, is independent and prepared. Not only is she well-educated and speaks several languages, but she is also physically prepared to fend off rogues and ruffians with a combination of knives, guns, and her martial arts training.  That is definitely unusual for a Regency novel and the way the author introduces and uses these skills throughout the novel is excellent.  The hero, Scottish Lord Ewan McTavish, is the perfect combination of Regency Lord and bad boy rogue.  I fell in love with Ewan from their first meeting and was pulling for Yvette and Ewan to get together permanently. Learning, along with the heroine, exactly who Ewan is and why she has dreamed of him all these years is a journey well worth taking.

This is not your average love story, nor your average hero and heroine. The characters’ flaws offer many opportunities for smiles and giggles, as well as a tear or two for lost opportunities.  The love story builds on strong independence for each character, as well as intelligence and loyalty to family. This book stands up to the publisher’s moniker. Yvette and Ewan are definitely soul mates. This book was time well-spent as I followed this couple on their journey of building trust, discovering loyalty, and finding friendship. In the end, all of these qualities ensured a fulfilling forever love. 


Buy Links:  Amazon  Currently this title is only available at Amazon.

About Collette

A life-long Oregonian, Collette Cameron was born and raised in a small town along the northern Oregon coast. Today she makes her home in a rural community, 30 minutes west of Portland. Her Victorian farmhouse sits on a one-acre certified wildlife habit, interspersed with a plethora of gardens: English, rose, butterfly, rock, water, and of course, vegetable.

A voracious reader of romance since her teens, she even named her daughter after a heroine in her favorite romance novel. An enthusiast of times gone by, and anything related to romance, she writes Historical Romance, with a dash of inspiration, a pinch of humor, and a liberal portion of suspense.

Having dabbled in interior decorating in her youth, Collette returned to school, graduating summa cum laude from Oregon State University, and going on to obtain her Master’s Degree in Teaching. She is member of Romance Writers of America, Rose City Romance Writers, The Beau Monde, and Love Faith and Hope, Inc.

Some of Collette’s favorite things include unique blends of coffees and teas, Cadbury Milk Chocolate, inspirational quotes, and scented candles. Her Christian faith, husband, three adult children, and five miniature dachshunds round out her life quite nicely! When she’s not teaching or writing, she enjoys amateur photography, bird watching, gardening, interior decorating, rock-hunting, boating or fishing on the Columbia River, and reading.

Contact Collette on the Web: Website | Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Google+ | Linked-In | GoodReads | SoulMate Author Page | Pinterest

* * * Giveaway * * *



Collette will be awarding a gift basket that includes a gift card, blue rose tea cup, blue rose soap, vintage looking cameo pendant, shortbread, tea, and other yummy goodies to a randomly drawn commenter during the tours.

Follow the Rest of the Tour


I am the first stop on this tour, so you have lots of chances to follow the rest of the tour and get to know Collette better.  Also the more places you visit and comment, the better your chance at winning her wonderful gift basket.

5/20/2013 Maggie's Meanderings
5/20/2013 SECOND STOP Book 'Em North Carolina
5/27/2013 Christine Young Romance Writer
6/3/2013 Sharing Links and Wisdom
6/10/2013 Andi's Book Reviews
6/17/2013 JM Stewart, Contemporary Romance Author
6/24/2013 Samantha Holt
7/1/2013 Bunny's Review
7/8/2013 Krystal Shannan - Where Love and Destiny Collide
7/15/2013 Jianne Carlo
7/22/2013 Musings From An Addicted Reader
7/29/2013 Straight from the Library
8/5/2013 Romantic Historical Lovers



3 comments:

Melia Alexander said...

Great interview, Maggie! Collette has written one heck of a debut novel. Congratulations!

Collette Cameron said...

Thanks Melia!

Karen H in NC said...

Thanks for the chance to win. I love these blog hops since I meet so many new-to-me authors.
kareninnc at gmail dot com