Guest Post: Holly Bush, Red, White & Screwed

Red, White, and Screwed eBook Cover Extra Large

I’m delighted to welcome author, Holly Bush. In the past, I’ve been privileged to read and review her historical romance novels. In this post, she gives us a glimpse into her latest, an intriguing new women’s fiction novel, Red, White & Screwed.

Thanks so much for having me on your site today, Susan! I’m happy to meet some of your ardent followers and share my new women’s fiction title with them, Red, White & Screwed, available as an ebook and in paperback.

Divorcee Glenda Nelson poured herself a cup of coffee, sat down at her kitchen table, and opened up the morning paper. That’s when she found out her hand-picked Congressional candidate was caught climbing out of the window of the Sleepytown Motel. With her job as a political strategist on the line, she has to put together a damage control plan, and do it fast.

After a multi-year hiatus, Glenda’s love life is finally on the rebound when she meets handsome Christopher Goodwich, a successful artist with oodles of old money. But what will Chris think after witnessing one of her meltdowns? Will his fame and fortune only serve to magnify Glenda’s ineptitude?

And sometimes she just can’t stop wondering why she stayed so long with her philandering ex-husband, or how her sister’s marriage has been so apparently picture-perfect. While uncovering the secrets behind a political scandal, Glenda finds love, and makes the long trek back to happy.

Holly_600About the Author
Holly Bush writes historical romance set on the American Prairie, in Victorian England and recently released her first Women’s Fiction title. Her books are described as emotional, with heartfelt, sexy romance. She makes her home with her husband in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. Connect with Holly at www.hollybushbooks.com and on Twitter @hollybushbooks and on Facebook at Holly Bush.

You can buy her books on Amazon and Barnes & Noble

Thanks, Holly. Here’s an excerpt from Red, White & Screwed 

Chapter One

Nearly three hundred years after the first hardy German settlers arrived in my county, many things had not changed. My ten-mile trip to Lancaster City had taken forty minutes trailing an Amish buggy.

“Glenda! Where have you been?” my boss, Melvin Smith, shouted from the steps of the county courthouse.

“I got behind a buggy,” I said as I jumped curb stones and dodged opened car doors on my way across the parking lot to where Melvin waited for me.

“We don’t want to be late to see what our seventy-five thousand dollars bought us,” he said as he yanked open the ornate, wooden door.

Melvin and I worked for the Lancaster County Democratic Committee, and it was a stick in his craw that Deidre Dumas, the Republican Chairwoman, had strong-armed more donations than he to fund a mural to hang in our courthouse.

“Are you still pissed the Republican Committee raised more money? You’ve got to get over this, Melvin.” We hurried past the buffet table, weaving through the county big shots and up a rickety set of steps to take our place on the dais for the unveiling.

Deidre air-kissed Melvin, and Bill Frome, county Republican strategist and the yin to my yang, gave me a tight-lipped smile and shook my hand as he looked at his watch. Photographers from the local newspaper were taking pictures, and Melvin leaned close to me.

“They’re cutting us out of these photos, Glenda. You mark my words,” he whispered.

“They’re not cutting us out of the photos.” I took a quick peek down the line of smiling suits and black dresses. I could barely see past Deidre’s cemented bouffant, puffed up and combed away from her face ending with an artfully rigid curl just above her shoulder. She had acquired the style in the mid-sixties, copying either Jackie Onassis or George Mitchell’s wife, and rode it all the way into the new millennium.

“Who’s the guy?” I asked Melvin.

“Which guy?”

“The oddball.”

“I’m black,” Melvin replied. “I’m as odd as they get in Lancaster County.”

The cameras kept flashing as I smiled and talked through my teeth. “You’re not odd because you’re an African American, Melvin. In this county, we’re both odd because we’re Democrats. And, anyway, I’m talking about the guy in the middle of the line in the jeans and blazer.”

The flashes stopped abruptly, and the Chairman of the County Commissioners, Alan Snavely, walked up to the microphone. He proceeded to extol the generosity of county residents in giving their hard-earned dollars to fund the mural project for the courthouse. He gestured repeatedly to the black-draped wall behind us, introduced the oddball as the mural artist, and then wrapped it up with some hard facts.

“The Lancaster County Democratic Committee raised seventy-four thousand, eight-hundred and ninety dollars . . .”

“That’s seventy-five even, Alan,” Melvin interrupted. “We had a last minute contribution.”

All heads turned Melvin’s way, including mine.

“Seventy-five even, Melvin?” Alan repeated.

“As of this morning.”

“OK then, it’s seventy-five even from the Democrats.” Snavely took a pen from his breast pocket to jot down the adjustment to his notes. “And the Lancaster County Republican Committee raised a whopping one-hundred thousand dollars.” The crowd clapped politely, and Alan continued, “And now the moment we’ve all been waiting for. Our artist, Christopher Goodwich, was commissioned nearly a year ago and has come here from his home state of Ohio for tonight’s unveiling. He has won multiple accolades for his work, and the Goodwich Family Foundation is well-known among philanthropists. Mr. Goodwich, would you do the honors?”

Christopher Goodwich moved from his place in line, yanked a gold pull rope, and the black curtain fell away. I looked up at the thirty-foot mural of a Lancaster County Revolutionary War battle as did everyone else. To my amazement this typically chattering crowd fell silent other than a smattering of appreciative oohs and aahs.

The painting was stunningly beautiful. I could see the hope and fear on the faces of the soldiers and practically hear the roar of the cannons and smell the smoke. Alan grabbed the microphone again and began discussing the mural as if he had the foggiest understanding of artwork. But it made me curious about the artist, and I took a second look at Christopher Goodwich.

He was a handsome man. Casually masculine with green eyes and a smile that made me think about George Clooney in a tuxedo. Get those hormones under control, I thought. At forty-six with a rather ugly divorce under my belt and two teenage children, I needed a man like the President needed another Cabinet nominee in tax trouble.

 

 

 

Guest Post: Frances McNamara, Chinese Love Stories

Death at Chinatown CoverI am thrilled to welcome Frances McNamara, author of five Emily Cabot mysteries, including Death at Chinatown. In this fascinating post, Frances contrasts different attitudes towards romantic love.

Chinese Love stories guest post by Frances McNamara

I recently read Lisa See’s novel Peony in Love. Set in seventeenth century China, the crucial early scenes take place during the festival of the Seventh Day of the Seventh Month. It is a festival somewhat like our Valentine’s Day that celebrates the quintessential Chinese love story of the Cow Herd and the Weaving Girl. It is also a holiday and love story that I used in my novel Death at Chinatown because I think it provides a compelling contrast between attitudes towards romantic love in the East and the West.

Certainly one archetypal western love story is Romeo and Juliet. Two young people whose families’ feud, find their love doomed and they die tragic deaths. In the famous Chinese story the lovers also come from different backgrounds. The weaving girl is of the gods while the herdsman is a mortal. As in Romeo and Juliet, mixing the two groups is doomed. But in the Chinese tale the lovers marry and have children before they are parted forever by the girl’s angry mother. The cow herd shows great courage in trying to fly up to the forbidden territory of the gods to reunite with his wife and in the end the goddess grants them one night a year when birds make a bridge across the Milky Way that allows them to be together.

What a different story it would have been if Romeo and Juliet had had a couple of children before being parted. How much more complicated the situation! How prolonged the agony of the mother parted not only from her husband but from her children. And the tantalizing concession of one night a year, in some ways seems more painful than the mere death to the young Italian lovers.

Romeo and Juliet quoteFor Romeo and Juliet all is over and done with. They exist as a story with a moral; their love is pristine. For the cowherd and the weaving girl it’s never over. There is relief once a year but the punishment goes on. The difference between the two quintessential love stories seems a very telling point to me. It reminds me that in my Chinese language classes I learned a term used to denote the “people.” It translates as “those who eat bitterness.” It’s a term taken for granted in Chinese literature, as we sometimes refer to the English people as “John Bull.”

People of any background can be affected by the story of Romeo and Juliet or the story of the Cow Herd and the Weaving Girl. But the difference in the stories, the different way of looking at the world they represent is like viewing the same jewel through different facets.

In Death at Chinatown I am particularly interested in showing how alike and how different the world in 1896 is for Emily Cabot, a young mother, graduate student and social worker in Chicago and for Shih Meiyu and Kang Cheng (Mary Stone and Ida Kahn), two young Chinese women who have received medical degrees from the University of Michigan and are caught up in the doings in Chicago’s Chinatown before they return to China to open clinics. They have much in common and critical differences in the choices they face in life. I do think the comparison is of interest today when the world is made so much smaller by the Internet and travel and when there is a lot of interest in the intersection of Chinese and American cultures.

 

Frances McNamaraAbout the Author
Frances McNamara
 is author of five Emily Cabot mysteries, Death at Chinatown being the most recent. She is a librarian at the University of Chicago and a native of Boston who has lived in Chicago for two decades.

http://fmcnamara.wordpress.com/

Guest Post: Mind-Meld, The Reader-Writer Bond

Plagues of EdenPlease welcome Sharon Linnea, co-author of PLAGUES OF EDEN. Here’s her scintillating post examining thought waves between reader and writer.

Mind-Meld: The Reader-Writer Bond

Several years ago, after a relaxing few days out of town, we dropped a friend off at his place of employment. “Back to the old grind,” he sighed. Which I thought was only slightly weird, as he was currently performing in a Broadway play that had gotten rave reviews.

Now I realize that anything becomes “same old, same old” when you do it day in and day out. But still, as we pulled away from the curb, I couldn’t help but wistfully wonder what it would be like for the rest of us, if, after putting in a good day’s work, everyone who would eventually benefit from our labor was right there in front of us, leaping to their feet, applauding and cheering. Wouldn’t that be great?

I’ve been remembering that drop-off lately, as B.K. and I are in final boarding stages for the release of PLAGUES OF EDEN.

It used to be that storytellers plied their craft in person, able to discern the involvement of the tell-ees in the flickering firelight. Now, with the advent of the printed word (and the spoken word, captured digitally), the storyteller and the reader have an enforced degree of separation. I write alone at my desk, and you read–where? In your room, on a train, in a Starbucks, in the bath? I don’t know! You’re on your own.

The inimitable Lee Child, who is a captivating speaker as well as author, asserts that when readers pick up a novel, they enter into an intense “mind-meld” with the author.

As a reader myself, I believe that to be true. A novel worth its salt creates an entire world to which the reader is given a personal invitation. You’re then invited into the  mind-space of a group of characters, and you vicariously accompany them upon whatever journey awaits you all.

And that’s something wonderful, personal, and meaningful.

worth its saltDo you remember a time you had an adventure? Went on a trip to a faraway land, or even your cousin’s house–or possibly a restaurant you’d never tried before? And something magical happened–whatever it is that’s necessary for a fun occasion to become an indelible memory. To this day, you remember who else was there with you, some of the best lines that were said, the laughter (or the danger or the horror). Your own intense feelings. From then on, whether the experience was harrowing or wonderful, it was unforgettable. And you now have a bond with those folks that were there. Until the end of time, one of you can say a certain word or phrase, and the rest of you will ricochet back in time.

That is what happens when you read a really good book. You and those characters go on a heightened journey together.

So, here’s the weird thing for me, as an author. The characters in my books–I KNOW them. While a reader might spend a dozen hours with them, I’ve spent months. They’re my intimate friends. And, whether I want it to or not, what happens to them impacts me. B.K. still hasn’t gotten over what happens at the end of BEYOND EDEN.  Whereas, when I finished one day of writing in the mind of a character in PLAGUES named Leal, I went to a weekly pub meeting and had to tell my friends, “I’m sorry, I just wrote some scenes that were highly intense for me, and I’m still a bit shaken.”

And so, when a reader enters into this mind-meld, for a while, we do share that same reality. There is a bond between us: we have friends in common.

But, here’s the thing. I really wish we could be in the mind-meld together. If not at the same time, that at least, as the writer, I could know it was happening. I don’t know how to bridge that gap, and I wish that I did.

Any suggestions?

So sometimes, sitting alone at my desk, having adventures with these fictional close friends, I do wish that I knew the flesh-and-blood “fellowship of the book” who would eventually be joining with me.

Truthfully, I don’t need that standing ovation. I don’t even NEED us to be in the same room at the same time with my fellow journeyers, or obviously, I’d have stopped writing by now.

But it is awfully nice to know that the readers are out there, and to hear from some with whom I now have friends in common, and who have joined me on the journey.

So, thanks! And, when you finish your day’s work, take a minute and picturing me applauding. Well done.

 

About the Authors
Sharon LinneaSharon Linnea
 is the author of the new mystery These Violent Delights as well as the four Eden thrillers, Chasing EdenBeyond Eden, Treasure of Ede and the new Plagues of Eden. She has also written award-winning biographies of Raoul Wallenberg and Hawaii’s Princess Kaiulani. She lives outside New York City with her family. Visit her at sharonlinnea.com

B.K. ShererB.K. Sherer holds a Master of Divinity degree from Princeton Theological Seminary and a Doctorate of Education from Oklahoma State University. A Presbyterian minister, she serves on active duty as a chaplain in the US Army, currently stationed at West Point. The authors first collaborated on a play about the French Underground for their sixth grade talent show in Springfield, Missouri, and have been friends ever since.

 

Plagues of EdenPLAGUES OF EDEN
DESCRIPTION:
Army Chaplain (Lt. Col) Jaime Richards and (her now-husband) the mysterious Yani return to stop a madman from raining the modern equivalents of the ten plagues of Egypt on the world. Can they decipher the clues before the firstborn sons of modern rulers are killed, leading to a new World War?

Publisher- Arundel Publishing

Pages- 349

Release Date- September 6, 2014

Available as paper copy, e-book and audio book