I want to welcome Shea McMaster to My Odd Little World. Shea is giving one lucky commenter a custom tote bag or mug, and of course I will be giving one copy of her book to one of you. If you want to win the book, please be sure to leave your email address in your message, so I know where to send your prize. As always, winner will be chosen using RANDOM.ORG, the random number generator. Now, before we get to the interview questions, could you give us a brief bio to get us started.
Wow, a bio. Yes, naturally I have one that goes in the back of my books and on my website, but really, it’s rather plain. Or so my sister says. So, here’s a bit more fanciful one.
Shea McMaster is the sweeter side of Morgan Q. O’Reilly. A different half of the brain, really. The youngest of five children, she was several years younger than the rest of the crowd who was spaced out at two year intervals for the most part. This resulted in her having a lot of time to amuse herself while the others were off causing the parents problems. Really, she was the best of the lot. Still is. At the end of eighth grade she was dragged from California to Alaska when her father took a job with the Pipeline. Talk about culture shock. It only added to the day dreams that have been her friends for years. Eventually she went away to school and graduated with a degree in English Lit from Mills College, dabbled in situations she was lucky to get out of unscathed, returned home and met a man. Unfortunately, he was the first man she met coming home, and he was an engineer. Both things her mother advised her to avoid. Five years later they married and had a son. Twenty something years later he still calls her his bride and they live mostly happy. Until he wants his shirts from the dry cleaners. During this time, still she daydreamed. And read. Volunteering and working in some interesting places, she had a wide range of experiences that now all play into her stories. With the son off at college, and the husband working long hours doing engineer things, she has plenty of time to ignore the dust bunnies, laundry and shopping while networking on FaceBook and conversing with those people in her mind. Sometimes she even writes down their stories for others to enjoy.
What is the best thing about being a writer? The worst?
The best thing is working from home in the comfort of my chair and talking to the voices in my head. Sometimes they’re better company than some people I know. The worst is the isolation can get a bit much from time to time. But that’s what I have my critique group for. They have this great way of keeping my ego from getting too big. Really, that’s not really such an awful “worst”. It still beats working in an office all day long.
What is your method of breaking through writer’s block?
A good session of brainstorming usually helps a whole lot. Mostly because the critter folks like to tell me how to write the story. At least they get me thinking in new directions that will often lead to something wonderful, even if it isn’t how they demanded I write it. I also read. A lot. I love to read!
Do you bring your own life experiences to your writing? Your own personality? If so how?
I don’t think any writer can avoid their personality or experiences in their writing. Yes, my characters often face situations I have and handle them a lot better than I did at the time. Of course, just as many, or more, are made up. That day dreaming thing again. I’m not confessing what is live and what is Memorex.
What fuels you as an author to continue to write?
Those damn voices screaming at me from time to time. That and fear of my husband mentioning that J-O-B thing. When I’m writing I can say, See, Honey, I’m working. No, I’m not making great buckets of money just yet, but I am working. I have a job. As I said before, it beats the heck out of corporate America. And I get to wear my jammies when I’m writing. How can any job get more awesome than that? Bet you’d love to see my really cool penguin jams. ;)
If you could write in any other genre what would it be, and why?
Science Fiction. I love sci-fi and how you can build a world any old way you want it. But without romance, it sort of, well, stalls. The story must have an element of romance in it, and the way I write, science fiction takes second seat to romance. Somehow those love scenes always work themselves in.
Let’s talk characters. If you could cast an actor/actress for your leads, who would they be? Do you have someone in mind as you write your characters? What kinds of character aids do you use in your writing process?
I don’t have any one method for character development. Sometimes they come to me fully assembled. Other times I’ll go the movie route, or piece parts of them together using astrology guides. Or I’ll read a book until I find a character with similar traits. It really just depends on the story and the people who live it.
Where can we find out more about you and your work?
http://sheamcmaster.com will take you to a link that directs you to Shea’s page on Morgan’s site (http://morganqoreilly.com). I really should fully separate the two, but I’d rather pour my energy into writing than updating websites. There is also FaceBook http://www.facebook.com/pages/Shea-McMaster/240251469328338
And finally, have you got a sneak peek excerpt from your current work in progress you can share with my readers and me?
A WIP by
"But it's no use going back to yesterday, because I was a different person then."
~Lewis Carroll, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland
Cold linen met Randi Jean Dailey’s hand when she reached for the pillow beside her. Expecting it to be vacant, but disappointed all the same, she cracked an eye open to find the rumpled imprint of Court’s head and his lingering scent. She pulled the pillow closer to her and buried her face in it, inhaling the fragrance that was all his. Clean, leather, spice, a hint of musk and even a touch of sweet citrus from their bubble bath only hours ago.
All of it overlaid with the sweet scent of the overblown, old fashioned pinky white rose petals he’d sprinkled over her and the bed last night. In her econ book was the first rose he’d ever given her, pressed and drying as a remembrance. One more had been pressed between the pages of her favorite novel just last night. Right in the middle of the love scene.
Unable to stop herself, she allowed a sappy grin accompanied by a sigh, to spread across her face. How magnificent last night had been, and again this morning, as the London sky had slowly lightened. Court had made long, sweet, tender love to her, his warm lips and creative hands worshiping every inch of her. Her hands and lips had worshiped every inch of him in return.
One last time. Savoring every moment, each kiss. Each thrust and answering arch a goodbye filled with bittersweet tenderness guaranteed to bring a tear to her eye for years to come. The smile faded to be replaced by gathering moisture in her eyes. Surely such a parting deserved a sob or two.
Wallowing in the blues and replaying the memories of the night, she flinched when the phone rang and then, fighting the sheets, scrambled for it, hoping it was Court wanting to talk to her one last time.
Half hanging over the side of the bed, heart pounding, she answered breathlessly. “’Allo?”
She loved pronouncing it in what Court called her bad Cockney. He’d teased her incessantly over her attempts to overwrite her California accent with one she’d learned from Dick Van Dyke in Mary Poppins.
“Abominable,” he’d loved to say. “You can’t learn proper Cockney that way, much less the Queen’s English.”
There was the briefest pause on the other end. “Miss Dailey?”
Not Court. “Yes.” She dropped the attempt to speak in accent and rolled over onto her back, head hanging over the side of the bed. Maybe a little blood rushing to her brain would calm her down.
“Danielle Richards, about the summer internship with Lynford International Importers you applied for?”
The final interview had been last week. Randi had given up hope and had assumed it was a no by now. Did this call mean…? She gulped in a lungful of air. “Yes?”
“It cleared.” For a moment, Randi lay stunned, listening to the words continuing to pour from the phone. Only one voice had sounded sweeter to her these months in London. “If you’re staying, I need you to come to the office this morning, the sooner the better, so you’re set to start on Monday.”
“Yes!” She practically shouted as she jackknifed into a sitting position. Heels digging into the mattress, she tried to speak more calmly. “Yes. I’ll cancel my flight.”
“Good,” Ms. Richards clipped out in her smart upper crust accent. “For the paperwork, exactly what is your legal name? Your application says R. Jean Dailey. What does the ‘R’ stand for?”
Cheeks warming, Randi cleared her throat. “Is it truly necessary?” Until coming to England, she’d always gone by her first name. That was before she found out her name was slang for something else entirely and not considered a name at all to the Brits.
Disapproval laced Ms. Richards’ reply. “Legalities must be observed. Besides, I’ll figure it out when we take a copy of your passport.”
“All right, but please, make note I prefer to go by Jean. Though I could go my initials like my dad does.” Bowing to the inevitable, she took a breath and confessed. “The ‘R’ stands for Randi–with an ‘I’ not a ‘Y’.” Knowing what was coming, she wasn’t entirely surprised at the undertone of amusement from the other woman.
“Randi? Really? Randi Jean Dailey?”
“I know, I know. It’s the same as saying I’m ‘horny Jean every day’. I was clued in my first week here, so I’m sure you understand why I prefer to go by Jean? Or my initials.”
“Yes, yes.” Ms. Richardson cleared her throat. “I do understand. I’ll make sure your supervisor does as well. We’ll just go with Jean if that’s all right.”
“Perfect.” That settled it. Jean she was, while in England. It was the name most people here knew her by anyway. Jean breathed in relief. Not even Court knew she used her middle name and not her first. An unexpected complication, she’d kept her true name deeply under wraps. Maybe if they got married she’d confess, but not before. It was too embarrassing.
“If you need help with accommodation, we’ll do what we can. There may be a bedsit nearby if you can’t extend the sublet on your flat.”
“I’ll find out as soon as I can. I should be there within the hour.”
“Excellent, Miss Dailey. I’ll also have instructions about the new hire reception tonight. See you soon.”
Feeling like a new woman, Jean hung up the phone and before she could breathe in the air to shout for joy the phone rang again.
“Jean Dailey?” The male voice was as efficient and crisp as Danielle Richards’. How she loved the British for their voices alone.
Heart still racing from the last call, her answer was worthy of Marilyn for breathiness. “Yes.”
“This is Doctor Mallory at Student Health. You came in earlier this week because of flu symptoms?”
Dropping back onto her pillow, she responded. “Yes, they seem to be gone now.” Or rather, they came and went. A cup of tea and a crumpet usually took care of it.
“Yes, well, I believe the health aide called to tell you it wasn’t the flu?”
“No, I didn’t get a call back, which is why I put it down to a mild case of food poisoning.” Lord knew that was common enough. A case had put her in the hospital overnight only a week after arriving in January.
“Well, it’s not food poisoning either.”
An unbelievable thought entered her head. No, don’t jump the gun. “Okay. What is it?”
“I hate to pass on news like this over the phone, but by now your curiosity is up and I have a fully booked day starting in ten minutes.” The doctor sighed. “Have you thought to run by the chemists’ and pick up a pregnancy test? We should have considered that right off and included it in the tests we ran, but somehow it got overlooked. To save some time, a trip to the chemist’s would be the best place to start and then we can follow up with a confirmation if the test is positive.”
The phone would have dropped to the floor if she’d been out of bed. Thankfully it only fell to the pillow that still smelled of Court. She grabbed the phone and lifted to her ear again.
“Pregnant? But I’m on birth control…” she squeaked as her heart began to race for the third time that morning.
“Best stop taking the pills and come in for a thorough examination. Clinic is open today and for a few hours tomorrow morning.”
“Oh!” The hand over her heart wasn’t doing a good job of slowing down the beat. “I’ll do that right away. Get a test that is.”
“Very well. Call to schedule a prenatal, or we can talk about alternatives if needed.”
“Oh, no. If the test if positive I will definitely make a prenatal. Thank you.”
The phone clicked as the doctor rang off and Jean slowly hung up her end.
Three more months in London and a baby… Her head spun with the back to back shocks. Oh God, she needed to talk to Court. He’d been as reluctant as she about the end of her semester in London. They had long-term plans—him working for the family firm, getting a foot in the door—until she finished her degree at which time they’d plan the next step. But now… now, she didn’t have to say goodbye. She hadn’t planned on getting pregnant—her father would have a conniption—but somehow she didn’t think Court would be angry. He’d said more than once he wanted to follow her back to San Francisco, but family obligations demanded he at least start his job on Monday morning. They were young and she had her degree to finish yet. Who knew what the future could bring? They had time to work everything out.
But they’d never foreseen this. She had to tell him and needed to do it right. And she knew just how.
The reception tonight. He’d invited her but she’d had to decline because of her flight home. Court had been disappointed. Nothing more than a reception for new hires, all very stuffy and boring, but as it was the family business, and he a new hire, he couldn’t skip it. And since her internship at the same company hadn’t come through, he’d promised to send her a picture, assuring her it would be very dull and, really, she was the more fortunate one to be leaving the country.
Throwing off the covers, she opened the curtains to a perfect late May morning. Jean couldn’t imagine a better place to be at this time of year. This was living, this was life. And God had surely given her the best of all gifts. Answered every prayer and then some. Only twenty years old and her future was laid out before her like a red carpet, just like the one rolled out for the queen each time she stepped outside Buckingham Palace.
She could hardly wait to tell Court. The look on his face when she showed up at the reception tonight would be priceless. No need to pack now, she picked up the phone to ring her landlady. Instead of heading for Heathrow tonight, she’d spend the summer here and then return in time to finish her undergraduate degree at Stanford. And she’d go back with Court instead of leaving behind a bittersweet memory. Or maybe she’d just transfer her credits here and finish her degree at the London School of Economics. She’d done well enough this past semester, it shouldn’t be a problem.
Daddy would just have to deal with it. Besides, if Court went to California with her, he would be an asset to Daddy’s company. He was as brilliant as he was handsome and had royal connections. Distant, but connected all the same. And if they stayed here, the connections would be valuable in another way. There was no way Daddy could object. They’d be married before the baby was born. Mom would be disappointed at first, but would fall in love with the baby a second later. Daddy would follow. Yes, it would all work out perfectly.
Mrs. Courtland Bailey Robinson.
Randi Jean Dailey-Robinson. Scratch the Randi. Jean Dailey-Robinson.
Mr. and Mrs. Courtland Robinson and family.
They’d have a whole herd of blond haired, blue eyed angels. Starting with a boy.
Yes, there was a God and He loved her.
Housing for the summer confirmed, she punched on the radio tuned to the station with the best current music and danced to the shower, first with a giggle, then her voice joined in, singing along to Timbuk 3 and their hit from a few years before.
Yeah, she had a bright future, and just the pair of shades to wear as she rushed into it.
And of course, NONE of that happens the way she plans it…
The PersonWhen you get a chance to read, what books do you love to read?
Romance! All romance. Contemporary, sci-fi/futuristic/fantasy, suspense, erotic… well, pretty much anything. Shifters aren’t my favorite, but if it’s well written, then sure, I’ll dig in and love it. I especially gobble up anything with humor and of course, lots of sexual tension and teasing.
What bores you as a reader?
Clichés. Passive writing. Weak characters. Predictable plots. Most of all, bad writing or lazy editing drive me right up the wall.
What is your favorite food and what is your guilty pleasure food?
You might as well ask me what my favorite book or song is. Um, well, I lean toward meat and potatoes, but love good Chinese and sometimes only Mexican will do. And don’t forget pizza, the all around anytime food. I have a weakness for fruity candy, but will pretty much mow down anyone in between me and chocolate. Let’s just say I’m no longer young and svelte.
What do you think is romantic? What does the word Romance mean to you?
Romance is when my man does something just the way I want it done, not the way he thinks it should be done.
For example, this year on my birthday he bought me the “fake” jewelry I asked for. It galled him to buy CZ studs and a plain gold band to stand in for my platinum and diamond set to wear when I travel. I love the jewelry we bought. Still real gold, but small and discreet rather than big and flashy. Later that night when we were getting ready for bed he said, “Humph, see if I ever buy you fake jewelry again.” “Fine,” I said. “Next time you can buy me big gaudy diamonds. Sheesh.” “Damn right I will.” We had a good laugh over that. I know he wants to buy me flashy stuff, but really, I wouldn’t wear it often. A better gift to me would be the work hours slacking off and him getting spend time home with me.
Who would you go out on a date with if you could?
My husband J. Seriously, I get brief fan-girl moments, but really, I want the man I married. Wouldn’t know how to be with anyone else. Except my son. A date with him would be fun. Now that he’s an adult (20) and growing into his brain, he’s a kick to just hang out with.
You’re having a dinner party, what five people would you invite?
The three grandparents who died before I was born. Fred Quimby who produced the Tom and Jerry Cartoons. He was my father’s great-uncle. And my mom, because she’s just awesome. Daddy, I’ll catch up with you in heaven, God willing.
Aliens have landed on the planet. What are the three things you would tell them that are great about this planet?
The oceans, hot springs and the Aurora Borealis. Skip the subzero temps at all costs.
If you could create your own drink what would go in it and what would you call it?
I did this recently. Simple. Peach schnapps and diet orange. Fizzy Navel??
If your life were turned into a cartoon, what cartoon character would you want playing you?
Jessica Rabbit for sure. I’m a red head and I want her body.
If you were a pirate what would your booty consist of? What would your pirate name be?
Morgan leShea, and I’d collect precious stones, gold, and being a member of my crew would be something strong handsome men fought to earn. My friends and I would sail around the world collecting yarn and silken threads in addition to the usual glitter. We’d knit, write, and sip champagne while getting massages in the hot tub on deck. Yeah, that sounds about right.
Thank you so much for having me! I look forward to chatting with your readers.
Author: Shea McMaster
Digital ISBN: 9781616503291
Digital Publication Date: November 7, 2011
Digital Publication Date: November 7, 2011
Cover art by Valerie Tibbs
Formats: .epub, .lit, .pdf, .prc (Kindle and Mobi), .html
Formats: .epub, .lit, .pdf, .prc (Kindle and Mobi), .html
Traditional Romance for Modern Women
Also Available From Shea
Six Foot Hero ~ebook
Her husband's death is just the beginning of her marital woes.
Rachel's humiliation over the discovery of her late husband's affairs turns to fear when one of his mistresses sends her a poisoned bouquet. But finding the source of the killer flowers is only one step on her path to solving the mystery her husband left behind.
Deputy Dan Weston is with Rachel when the bouquet arrives, and he's at her side as she deals with so many of the secrets that come to light after her husband's death. Dan has carried a torch for Rachel since puberty and he's not going to let her dead husband's vindictive girlfriends or his psychotic mother come between them now. But that means finding out who is sending snakes and poisoned posies before one kills Rachel.
I looked up and took in Dan’s expression. All teasing gone. Cop mode.
“I’m a simple person, Deputy Weston. Steady and calm. Boring. I don’t offend anyone, and no one gives me trouble. Unless you’re talking about Jose Delgado, who is three weeks late with the last book he checked out.”
“I don’t think Jose wrote this.” With a deepening scowl, he turned the card so I could read it through the clear plastic.
Black, block letters, innocuous enough, aside from the message. Ah, yes, the kicker.
Let him go. We want to be together. Start divorce proceedings. Or better yet, end your pitiful life. Your choice. For now.
Dan’s gaze was glued to my face, which first felt hot, then cold. My head swam and my breathing wheezed in and out, as ragged as my stuttering heartbeat.
That bastard. The low down, scheming, rotten, lying, slimy, vile, despicable…
“Care to revise your statement?”
A few quick blinks brought the deputy back into focus, though I could feel the airways in my lungs constricting.
“I know who’s going to die, and isn’t going to be me,” I whispered. “Chinese water torture is too good for him. Splinter those bamboo chopsticks and the minute he gets home, they’re going under his fingernails” I’d learned a few things from my father’s stories of ’Nam. And of course, by reading about the war. After all, I was a librarian. I’d read nearly every book on the shelves. Briefly, I considered doing a search on torture techniques.
The tanned face so near mine blanched. “Easy going, ma’am.”
Right. I wasn’t known for saying such things. I wasn’t known for saying much.
“Well?” I demanded. My fragile world had just vaporized before my eyes and it was far too soon to see what might be left. If anything. The only future visible looked like a rapidly expanding black hole.
Someone wanted me dead. But who? My husband? His girlfriend? Divorce loomed in front of me like a huge gaping maw. I wanted to wail, gnash my teeth, and obliterate something, anything. Of course, I was Rachel the Mouse, so I did my best to hide the violent urges building inside. Rachel the Meek never, ever, let loose with her most primitive emotions. She hid them deep, keeping a calm, submissive, accepting face turned toward the world at large.
“What would you do?”
For the first time I could remember in our long history, Dan looked directly, and very deeply, into my eyes. The sympathy, sincerity, and concern on his face hit me before his words did. Already overwhelmed from too many emotions boiling in my heart and head, I had no defense or response for his reply, or the way he ever so lightly caressed my cheek with the back of his fingers.
“Since I’m not the kind of idiot your husband is, Rachel, I wouldn’t be stupid enough to screw around on the most amazing woman anywhere. Were I the lucky one to have you, I wouldn’t leave you alone long enough for you to ever feel abandoned.”
Aside from the asthma and allergy thing, I was a healthy woman. I’d never, ever, once fainted in my life. But the shocks to my system that night hit too hard. A poisonous gift, a nasty note, knowledge I didn’t want of my husband’s cheating ways, and a gorgeous, younger man, telling me he considered me amazing… The zing I felt in my tummy from his touch did me in.
Black waves engulfing me, limbs losing strength, I slowly collapsed and Dan caught me at the last moment of consciousness. Like any nineteenth-century heiress worth her crumpets and tea, I fainted right into his arms.
Once again, I want to thank Shea McMaster for stopping by today. Remember, she is going to give one lucky commenter on her tour a custom tote bag or mug. And please, please be sure to leave your email address in your message, so if you are my randomly chosen winner, I can get your book to you. As always, winner will be chosen using RANDOM.Org, the random number generator for all original posts, not counting duplicates, or those of the author or myself.