Help me in welcoming Doris Lemcke to Decadent Decisions.
If you could go anywhere in the world on a romantic getaway, what would you do and where would you go? I am very much a homebody (I don’t even have a passport), but I believe that anywhere can be a romantic getaway if you’re with that one person who connects with you in all the important ways. I grew up in Michigan, surrounded by water, but recently fell in love with the rugged, ever-changing seascape of North Carolina’s Outer Banks’ coastline--especially in April or October. The beaches are nearly deserted and the water alternately dances playfully around chilly toes, or pounds against a fragile shoreline, changing it forever in the time it takes to take a breath. To walk hand-in-hand with that special person in your life, on sand warmed by the sun, under a full, yellow moon framed by clouds of pink, gold and indigo blue is to connect with the very pulse of life. To me, it doesn’t get more romantic than that.
If you could live the life of one of your characters who would you be? I write historical fiction, but am very fond of the conveniences of modern life—especially indoor plumbing and central heat. But if I were to pick a character, it would be Camilla Langesford O’Grady, the matriarch in Passion’s Spirit and heroine in the upcoming book number two of the Passion’s Legacy series. She survived a past that would have destroyed Scarlett O’Hara, to emerge a strong, wise, and most important, forgiving woman; not to mention living on a fabulous Southern Plantation. She is the embodiment of the of the woman I would like to be, living a life I’ve been in love with since I was a child. Too bad I’m a Yankee.
The tag line on my blog is ‘Indulge Your Inner Romantic.’ What do you do to indulge? I currently live on Florida’s Gulf Coast and where every night sky, shining with stars above swaying palms (really), always sets a romantic scene. I have a very demanding “day” job, so coming home to gulf breezes and the sultry calls of wild birds, a glass of wine, and a good romance (mine or someone else’s) keeps me in the mood for romance.
Share your first sale story. I am fortunate to have had two “first” sales. One was sooo long ago it seems as if it was in another lifetime, but both first sale stories share common elements, even after all this time. Passion’s Spirit (released October 19) was written in stops and starts over many years that were filled with personal and career changes. Every year or so, I’d scroll through my issue of Writer’s Market and submit to any publisher willing to take an unagented query, or agents willing to look at Western Historical Romance. After being ignored by most, rejected by many, and told by even more that there was no longer a market for Westerns, I put the book back in the box and worked on something else. But I never let go of the dream.
Then fate stepped in and led me to this first sale. While looking for a job in the Northeast, I was offered one in Southwest FL—home of the RWA’s Southwest Florida Romance Writers. I joined them just in time for their annual conference, dusted off Passion’s Secret, polished my pitch, and presented it to three agents—again to be told, “Western Historicals are hard to sell.”
But SWFRW wouldn’t let me give up. Joyce Henderson, a TWRP Cactus Rose (Promise the Moon, 2011) author told me emphatically, “That is NOT true,” and suggested her publisher. I queried TWRP and was asked to submit the complete manuscript. While it was under consideration, Rhonda Penders spoke at one of our SWFRW meetings. She was so warm and approachable that after Passion’s Spirit was approved, I proposed revamping the first book from so long ago, along with two others, as the Passion’s Legacy series. I’m so thrilled to say that within months of achieving my “first” sale, I made my second sale, Passion’s Secret (2012). I owe this wonderful opportunity to persistence, patience, a network of supportive writers, faith that we all have whatever we need within us make our dreams come true—and the knowledge that fate works in wonderful, mysterious, and unexpected ways to help us do it.
How do you stay motivated when the Muse is uncooperative? My muse is very patient, waiting through the busy workdays (and years) to play with me in the evenings, on weekends, vacations and any other moments we can steal to be together. Even during the non-writing years, she bookmarked where we left off on every incomplete project, reminding me of her presence with notes, files, and “idea lists” that I find in the strangest places; telling me she’s always been there for me and always will be.
Now that I’ve once again made her a part of my daily life, she is very energetic, sometimes overwhelming me with characters, plots, details and plans that distract and confuse me. That’s when I slow her down and we retrace our steps to admire what we’ve already worked so hard to create. So we happily polish, rewrite, and research until we’re both back on the path, our destination clearly in sight, our steps matched once again. I’m aware of the “write the Sh..ty first draft” theory, but perhaps after so many years of the “stop and start” method, my muse and I work best together when we know we have a solid foundation. So I don’t worry too much about her cooperation. Rather, I’m just so excited to be cooperating with her—again.
Where do you get your story ideas? While story ideas are everywhere, we all sort through them for the theme that resonates with us. I grew up with the classic old movies spawned by Gone with the Wind, with TV Westerns and a trunk of old books in a trunk my grandfather bought at an unclaimed freight auction. As a result, I love history, romance, and mystery. I’m also a visual person and love old pictures. At restaurants, museums, antique stores, anywhere there are dusty old, sepia-colored photos with the faces of unidentified people peering at me, I stop and wonder, “Who were these people? Where did they come from? What are their stories?”
It may have started when I discovered an old photo of the Michigan lumber camp where my great-grandmother, an Ojibwa Indian cook, and her English husband adopted the son of the camp’s Irish foreman. They raised him as their own, in the same camp where his natural father and brothers worked. Perhaps because of my questions about my grandfather’s adoption and Michigan’s ethnically diverse frontier, I’m fascinated by the “sins of the fathers” theme, inter-racial relationships and the consequences of actions taken in one generation on the following ones. And every old picture I see gives me a new idea.
Untamed Hearts, Worlds Apart – Santa Fe, New Mexico 1892
Raised by Santa Fe missionaries, half-Apache orphan Elena Santiago has vowed to avenge her white, guardians’ murders the Apache way. But first, she must masquerade as a white woman to deliver a dangerous message across the country into the land of her enemies. And after one look at the untamed spirit behind Sean O’Grady’s smoky grey eyes, she realizes that her heart’s response to his body, more like and Apache warrior than a soft, white “gentleman,” is far more dangerous than the warning she carries.”
Sean O’Grady has always dreamed of exploring the Wild West, but at 25 years old, he’s put aside those dreams to wed his neighbor and run their two Georgia plantations. When Elena arrives looking and speaking more like a Spanish lady than an Indian mission girl, he wonders if she's really who she says she is. Is she a virgin or a vixen? The question taunts him as he struggles with feelings he’s never felt before. Feelings that could get them both killed.
Passion’s Spirit Excerpt
When Sean pulled away, Elena looked into his eyes wondering, is this what love feels like, or is it only lust? She decided that nothing as beautiful as the moment they’d just shared could be evil. But it could never be love, either. She had felt his passion press against her and ached for him to fill her. Now she was grateful he hadn’t.
They were from different worlds still at war with each other. He could never survive in her world and she refused to live in his.
As if he read her thoughts, he leaned into her, whispering so close to her ear that it could have been a kiss, “Why can’t you be Mary Louise? And I the Apache brave who will eventually claim you?” Then he turned to stare at the stream patiently following the course nature had carved out for it.
The question echoed in Elena’s mind. For a moment, his heart had beat to the rhythm of hers. The curves of her body had melted into the angles of his as they breathed the same breath and tasted each other’s souls. For a moment, they had truly been one body and one soul.
Now separated, the chilly breeze that stirred the pine needles at their feet told her that when she was with him, even angry, she was whole. And though he changed his moods faster than the mountain gods and was promised to marry a weak and silly white woman, part of her would always belong to this loco Gringo.
She also turned her gaze toward the river. “We can only be who we are.”
Passion’s Spirit is available in print and ebook on October 19, 2011 from The Wild Rose Press as a Cactus Rose Romance. Passion’s Spirit is the debut novel in the four-book, PASSION’S LEGACY series. Passions Secret will follow with a 2012 release date.