Thursday, September 2, 2010

Terrific Thursday with Liz Flaherty:)

Don't forget: I'll be on TruVue Radio tonight from 8-10pm EST. Here's the link, should you want to tune in here.

Welcome! Please introduce yourself and tell us about your latest release.

Good morning! And thank you so much for having me. I love to guest blog, but it’s so much easier when there are interview questions and I don’t have to do all the thinking. J

I’m Liz Flaherty. I live in the cornfields of Indiana with my husband of—gasp—39 years and I write romance. My next one, HOME TO SINGING TREES, is a historical placed right in the county where I live on the farm where my father grew up and one of my brothers still lives. It’s the story of Sarah and Liam, who find that the second time around is sometimes the best one.

Have you ever had an idea for a story which scared you after you began writing it?

No, because I don’t write scary, but I will admit to being scared I wouldn’t be able to write HOME TO SINGING TREES because I’d never tried historical before. I’d read hundreds of them—and loved them—but writing one was something else again. Finding out I could do it was a thrill.

Have you incorporated actual events from your own life into your books?

Yes, though I don’t usually mean to.

How much research do you do? Do you research first and then write, or do you write first, then research as needed?

On the historical, I did TONS, and loved it. Contemporaries don’t require as much, but even then, I have to be sure my facts are straight. I do it as needed, and the Internet is such a godsend for that. I still have all my reference books, but I sure don’t use them as much as I used to.

Is there any message you want readers to take from reading your work?

I write romance for two reasons, well, two main reasons. One is that I believe in and love the whole Happily Ever After scenario. I think it’s possible for all of us and I want it for all of us. In books, I can make it happen for at least the people I write about. The other reason is that romantic fiction, even historical, is all about the empowerment of women and that’s the message I hope readers get. Helen Reddy said it best all those years ago. Paraphrased, it is, “We are women. Hear us roar.”

Are you a plotter or a pantser? And have you ever had a story take on a life of its own?

Well, I try to plot, but the truth is that I’m lousy at it. The first part of a book writes itself, then I usually plot the middle, and, invariably, the end takes off on its own. So far, it has worked out, but believe me when I say I’ve sweat bullets. I’ve been written into a corner with my WIP for a couple of weeks now. I’m inside 10,000 words to finish it, and now the ending doesn’t work! Last night, when I was almost asleep, I think I got it. I haven’t written it yet, so I’m not sure, but, Lord, I hope it works.

And for the next book, I hope I really am a plotter.

How long did it take for you to be published?

Hard to answer. I’ve written since I was ten, but in 1988 or so, I took a writing class taught by Vicki Williams and learned so much and was so inspired that I sold my first short stories while the class was still going on. (INDIANAPOLIS WOMAN and RIGHT HERE) Soon after, I started writing a column, “Window Over the Sink” which I’ve written off and on ever since. My first book—sorry to be so long-winded here, but I’m old and have a past--was ALWAYS ANNIE, a Precious Gems romance from Kensington in 1998. I’m not what you call an overnight success, but I certainly do have fun.

If you could go back and tell yourself anything when you first began your writing career, what would you say?

Know what you want. For a while, I thought that in order for my writing to mean anything, I needed for it to be my career. Well, the truth is that while I make money writing, I couldn’t live on it. I’ve never reached the point of being able to give up my day job, although I’m going to retire soon. But, you know what? My writing still means something. I love writing it, there are people who like reading it, and I will always do it. I wish I’d known from the beginning that that was okay. For me, it was enough.

Laptop or pen and ink? What are your ‘must-haves’ when writing?

I write on a laptop, but the pen and notepad are never far away. I also have an AlphaSmart that I use from time to time when I’m working away from home but don’t want to carry the laptop.

Who are your favorite authors? Who would you say influenced you the most?

Oh, Lord, the list goes on and on. Kathleen Gilles Seidel, Mary Balogh, Carla Kelly, Susan Kay Law, Patricia Rice, Robyn Carr, Muriel Jensen, Nora Roberts, Madelyn Alt, Shirley Jump, Janet Dean and a lot more names I can’t remember right now.

Influence? Louisa May Alcott. If she hadn’t written LITTLE WOMEN, I doubt I’d ever have written at all.

LW is my all-time favorite book! I wanted to be just like Jo:)

What would your readers be surprised to learn about you?

Well, I’m not very exciting, but that’s not a surprise. I’ve been a postal worker for 30 years. How’s that?

For Fun:

Favorite ‘Summer Food’ (ie: Veggies, fruit, or fair food)

Hamburgers, fresh corn on the cob, cantaloupe that’s almost too ripe…just to start, you understand. I love food, which my sylph-like silhouette can attest to!

Mountains or Beach?

Yes. I read the other day that you can’t be both, but I think that’s wrong.

Favorite amusement park ride?

Haven’t been in years, but I always liked the water slides.

Favorite drink?

On a daily basis diet cherry coke. At the beach, bushwhackers. Out with the girls, frozen margaritas. When I just want a DRINK, rum and coke with a twist of lemon.

Any special Labor Day traditions?

Not exactly Labor Day, but when Wal-Mart starts its school supplies sale, I go with my daughter-the-special-ed.-teacher and help her fill a cart. It's a way I can contribute to education as well as to her, both of which are close to my heart.

McDonald's or Burger King?

McDonald's, with the notable exception of BK's tendergrill chicken sandwich--yum!

Thank you for being here today! Please tell us where we can find your books.

THE DEBUTANTE’S SECOND CHANCE is still available from Amazon. ALWAYS ANNIE can be found used nearly anywhere. BECAUSE OF JOE will be re-released by The Wild Rose Press at a later date.

HOME TO SINGING TREES won’t be out till October 15, when it will be available from the publisher, The Wild Rose Press, or Amazon—or any other on-line bookstore, I think.


Escaping her painful past, Sarah Williamson finds a new life for her loved ones when she takes a position as housekeeper with Liam McKissick at Singing Trees Farm, an idyllic place considering the horrors she’s faced. Sarah, her daughter, and young sister-in-law feel at home as her heart warms to Liam, but then her daughter is kidnapped and danger again threatens her serenity. The need to flee and protect her family battles her growing love for Liam.

Widower Liam McKissick endured a loveless marriage. Unwilling to take another chance at love, he devotes his time to work and family. Despite his efforts to keep to himself, his passion grows for Sarah who brings life and love to his home. Notwithstanding her past and the trouble it may cause, he proposes. Can he risk his heart and family to make her stay?


She was in the tree.

“Sarah!” Liam bellowed, taking the three steps off the porch in one and striding toward the tree. “Good morning, Jess. Good morning, Emily. Mrs. Williamson, come down here right now!”

“I can’t do that, sir. I have another swing to hang after this one. I got the nicest boards at the sawmill yesterday, and the sawyer didn’t even charge for them, and I begged the rope from Davis.” She peered down at him from what seemed a very long way up, and the skin around her green eyes looked bruised, as though last night’s conversation had disturbed her as much as it had him. “I think children need swings to play on, don’t you?”

“Bribed Davis is what she did,” Gavin mumbled from his stance on the porch.

“We’re having chicken and dumplings and chocolate cake for supper. Personally, I don’t see a daggone thing wrong with a little bribery here and there. Keeps a man” –he stopped and chuckled— “well-fed.”

“Swings are all well and good, Sarah, but you don’t need to hang them. Davis or I will be glad to. Now, come down from there.” Ignoring Gavin’s glee, Liam hitched his coat back out of his way and placed impatient hands on the hips of his trousers.

“I will in a minute.” She shinnied further out the branch, looked down at her legs hanging down on either side of it, and turned fiery red. “Would you turn your back, please, Liam?”

He could see the stockings that covered those splendid legs were darned and shabby, her shoes had holes in their soles, and the petticoats that swung below her hideous brown skirt had been sewn from flour sacks. The thick bun of copper-tinted brown hair, pulled tight when he’d left this morning, had loosened considerably, and soft tendrils blew about her face.

She looked magnificent.

He turned his back.

But he didn’t want to.

He waited five minutes, while Gavin yelled instructions and Sarah called back rejoinders that didn’t sound in the least servile, while the girls played Ring-Around-the-Rosy around his legs until they fell into a tangle at his feet.

“Are you ready to come down now?” he asked after the five minutes were up.

“Well, I would be, except—” She stopped.

“Except what?”

“Except I seem to be stuck to something, and I can’t figure out where I’m stuck or what I’m stuck to.”

“Oh, for heaven’s sake.” Impatient now, wanting her safely on the ground, Liam pulled off his coat and handed it to Jessie. “Hold this while I rescue Mrs. Sarah.”

“Mrs. Mama,” Jessie corrected him over her shoulder as she carried the coat to lay it neatly over the porch rail.

Liam looked from his daughter to the woman in the tree. “Mrs. Mama?” he said mildly.

“I’m sorry. They came up with it this morning, and I didn’t know how to dissuade them.” Sarah looked slightly sheepish, and Liam had a feeling she didn’t really mind the new title.

“And I should warn you,” she went on, “they’ve decided that from now on, Emily is to call you Dr. Papa. I couldn’t talk them out of that, either.”

“Actually—” Liam swung himself into the tree with a grunt of effort “—I prefer it to Dr. Kamissick.”

He moved onto the branch on which Sarah was sitting. “I guess we’re going to check the strength of this limb before the girls swing from it, right Mrs. Mama?”

“Looks that way,” she mumbled, blushing again, and he stopped moving for a moment, totally captivated.

Sue Anne Klein didn’t blush, he remembered suddenly. She simpered. If Emily’s conception and birth were the result of something sordid, something less than honorable, would her mother still blush at every whipstitch?

“Your skirt’s hooked,” he said, his voice remarkably like that of a boy still waiting for his first shave; he was surprised it didn’t crack halfway through the sentence. He was pretty sure he was blushing, too. Oh, Lord.

He sat so close to her he felt the heat from her skin and smelled the faint scent of roses that always seemed to surround her. Her head was bowed as she tried to see where her skirt was caught, exposing the pale skin of the back of her neck to his interested perusal.

He could almost feel that sensitive skin against his lips, the warmth of her body beneath his hands. He had a natural physical reaction to those thoughts and was hard put not to groan aloud.

“I’ll try not to rip your skirt.” He leaned sideways to reach where the skirt was caught and could see the way her full breasts pushed against the material of her waist and whatever she wore under it.

Oh, dear, sweet Lord.

Liam tugged at the thin fabric of her skirt, frowning when it tore and exposed Sarah’s petticoat.

Good God, the woman embroidered flour sacks before she made them into underwear.

“Sorry,” he said. For what? Ripping her skirt or ogling her underwear? “I think you’re loose now. I’m going to back up and go down first, all right?”

She nodded without turning her head, and he could see the telltale red creeping around her neck. “You’re entirely decent,” he whispered, “although I wouldn’t mind a bit seeing the rest of that petticoat.”

“Dr. McKissick!” she hissed, her voice a fine cross of indignation and embarrassment. “In case you forgot, there are children waiting right at the bottom of this tree.”

He grinned. “I think they’ve probably seen your petticoats. They aren’t nearly as interested as I am.”

She turned her head, and even though her cheeks still bloomed pink and she tried her best to frown, laughter brimmed in the mossy eyes.

If he stayed up this tree, Liam knew he would kiss his housekeeper, regardless of who waited below.

Reluctantly, he climbed down.

Certain she’d set a record for how many times a person could blush in one day, Sarah inched backward to the fork in the tree, swung one leg over as modestly as possible, and stepped to the lower branch.

Liam looked up at her.

“Please turn around,” she begged. “You, too, Judge,” she called to the man on the porch. “I don’t descend all that elegantly.”

Liam held up his arms. “Jump.”

“Oh, no, Liam. I’m too big. I’ll knock the wind right out of you.”

He frowned the scowl that had intimidated her that first couple of days, before the night they’d worked together to bring a new baby into the world. “I’ll take that chance,” he said, a glint of determination in his eyes.

Sarah sighed. “All right, but I warned you.”

He caught her against what was surely the hardest chest in the state of Indiana, held firmly by what were definitely the strongest arms, and allowed to slide slowly to the ground against what was without doubt the most arousing body.

Arousing? What am I doing even thinking a word like arousing? Dr. Papa or no, he’s your employer, Sarah Mary, and don’t you be forgetting it.

When Liam didn’t release her immediately, she raised her hands to his shoulders to push him gently away and caught sight of her work-roughened fingers against his immaculate shirt—a cruel, but effective comparison. Liam McKissick was among the cream of the area’s social crop. He had money, influence, and unparalleled good looks.

Sarah Mary Williamson was a housekeeper, the mother of an illegitimate child and the guardian of a sister-in-law who had been pursued against her will by the father of that child.

Like spotless white shirts and rough red hands, the two didn’t belong together.

BTW, I’ll give a free copy of the book of mine of her choice to a commenter. If she prefers HOME TO SINGING TREES, it will be a download not available until October


Amber Skyze said...

Great interview and I love the excerpt!

Rebecca Rose said...

Oh, Liz! That excerpt was awesome! I can't wait to read it. :)
So glad I got to know a little more about you.

Have a sparkling day!

Drea Becraft said...

Great Interview! The newest books sounds like a great story.

Wish you many many sales!


Anonymous said...

Great to learn about you Liz.

Word Actress said...

I love the name Singing Trees. Who can ever forget that name? Just brilliant! Great excerpt, too. Mary Kennedy Eastham

Margie said...

Liz, great interview. Very inspirational.

D'Ann said...

Can't wait to read it!

carrie said...

Liz...can't wait to read your new book - you're a fantastic author and I looooooooooooooove your writing style! you go girl!


Liz Flaherty said...

Hi, everybody, and thanks for coming by. Thanks for all the good thoughts, too!

Liz Flaherty said...

Hi, everybody, and thanks for coming by. Thanks for all the good thoughts, too!

Liz Flaherty said...

Sorry for the double message--my internet's on the strange side tonight. Sigh. The joys of living waaaay in the country!

Molly Daniels said...

Thanks for being here today Liz:) We may have to lure you down here for a signing at the bookstore:)

Christi Barth said...

I have to know - what the heck is a bushwacker?

Sandra Cox said...

Great interview, ladies.
Little Women is a classic:)