Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Lost Hearts: An Interview with Author Kathy Otten and a Giveaway!

Wild Rose Press author Kathy Otten joins us today with her book, Lost Hearts. Find out what type of hero she likes and why Deputy U.S. Marshals make great characters. Welcome Kathy!
Did you plan to be a writer or did it just happen? 

I can’t remember a time in my life when I wasn’t hearing voices in my head or writing down stories. Once my kids were in high school I started studying craft and had the time I needed to join a critique group.

Is writing a full-time career for you? If not, how else do you spend your work day?

As much as I would love to write full-time, at this point in my life a 40hr job is necessary. Fortunately I work my 40 hrs. in three days at a group home. This leaves me Mon.-Thurs. to write, market, research and promo.

If you had to sum it up LOST HEARTS in 30 or less words, what would you say?

Deputy U.S. Marshal Richard Bennick is sworn to bring the outlaw Johnny Bodine to justice, but she is the only one who can heal his wounded heart.

What has been your greatest challenge in writing LOST HEARTS?  

Getting to know Rab was difficult. He is very closed off emotionally, and it was odd that he remained like that with me.  Usually my characters talk to me. Johnny was one who told me everything about her life. Rab would have been happier if I’d stayed out of his head.
What three words would best describe Johnny.  

Pragmatic, feisty and loyal
Is anything in your book based on real life experiences or purely all imagination?

Much of the story involved real places and people.  Judge Parker and many of the places in Fort Smith were real. Bass Reeves, one of Rab’s fellow deputies was a real person, and the owners of the Elk House in McAlester had actually lived there at the time of my story.

What kind of research was involved for LOST HEARTS?  

I read lots and lots of books on Fort Smith, Judge Parker and the Deputy Marshals who roamed Indian Territory. I also wrote to the Pittsburg County Genealogical and Historical Society in McAlester, OK. They sent me maps and newspaper articles. Other things I got on line, but when I originally started this book I didn’t have internet so that’s why I did it all the old-fashioned way.

Do you have to be alone or have quiet to write?

Alone and quiet with no interruptions. 

What do you have in store next for your readers?

I have a short Victorian Christmas novella coming out for the holidays called ANOTHER WALTZ.  I’m also working on the last chapter of another full-length historical western romance novel.

What has been your greatest pleasure or personal success as an author? 

Although I own a Nook, and love reading ebooks, I still love to hold my POD paperback books in my hands. Seeing them in my hands and flipping through the pages, validates to me that I am actually an author. When I feel like that, I like who I am and that affirmation makes me want to keep writing more.

What type of hero do you like best?  

I like strong, silent, beta heroes. I also like writing wounded heroes.

What type of heroine do you like best?

I like my heroines strong, feisty and loyal.

If you had a chance to rewrite, is there anything about your book you would change?

I always find things I want to fix. It’s one of my problem areas, always trying to make it better, so much so that it keeps me from submitting. I’m getting better at it though and learning to let things go, giving myself permission to always make the next book better instead of trying to make that current project perfect.

What is the best piece of writing advice you’ve received?

I was at a workshop a year ago with Chuck Samuchino, editor for Writer’s Digest and author of Formatting and Submitting Your Manuscript, 2011 Guide to Literary Agents, and How to Survive a Garden Gnome Attack. At the end of his presentation he answered the question, What’s the secret to becoming a successful author. He answered simply, “Put down the remote.”  And that’s it. It really doesn’t get any simpler than taking what bits of time we have and making a decision to use that time to write. Don’t wait for the muse to strike, don’t wait for those rare days when you have the house to yourself and six hours to sit and write. Just put down the remote and instead of watching TV, use that hour to write.

Is there a book you’ve ever read more than five times? Which book and what drew you back to it?

I have many books which I’ve read more than five times, but the two that I’ve read the most are Once in Every Life Time, by Kristin Hannah and Once and Always, by Judith McNaught. They are both older romances, but there is something about the characters and the emotions that draw me back to them like comfort food.

You’re spending one year living on a desert island – which three authors do you want with you?  

Off the top of my head, right now I’d pick, Kat Martin, Celeste Bradley and Josh Lanyon.

Favorite place? 

The overlook on Mount Horrid on the Long Trail, between Brandon and Middlebury Gaps, in Vermont.

Best Christmas present?

The toboggan my brothers and I received when we were kids.

Favorite smell?

Fresh cut hay.

Favorite quote?

“The way you see people is the way you treat them and the way you treat them is what they become.”  -Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

The Book

The Lawman—Haunted by flashbacks he can’t remember, from a war he wants desperately to forget, U.S. Deputy Marshal, Richard Bennick arrives in Indian Territory carrying warrants for the notorious outlaw Peirpont Bodine and his feisty, irreverent son, Johnny.

The Outlaw—Trapped in a life of violence and abuse, Johnny Bodine lives in fear of men. Disguising her femininity, she retreats into her imagination and dreams of a family who loves her.

Together—Forced to trust each other as they journey through the dangerous Choctaw Nation, a unique bond of love forms between outlaw and lawman that can only be broken by Richard’s oath to uphold the law and the justice of the hangman’s noose.

Content Note to Readers: Wild Rose Press rates this book as "spicy"! 

The Giveaway 
Comment for a chance to win a Kindle copy of Lost Hearts. Winner will be drawn on August 17th.

My blog: I blog on the 6th of every month at http://sweetheartsofthewest.blogspot.com and on the 17th at http://sweetnsexydivas.blogspot.com

An Excerpt

When Richard shifted his attention back to the prisoners, he saw Bodine grab Willis from behind and shove the man’s head under the water. Frantic, Willis latched onto Johnny, pulling the boy down with him. Johnny popped back up, but the drowning outlaw’s fingers clawed desperately at the boy’s arm and the front of his poncho.
For a stunned moment Richard could only blink in disbelief. Then he kicked his horse forward, but the river bottom was soft and the water not deep enough for Billy to swim.
Though Machler and Warren stopped pushing to watch, neither man attempted to intervene.
“No one falls asleep on guard duty,” Bodine declared, pushing Willis under once more. “Not iffin ya ride with me.”
Coughing and spitting, Johnny was sucked under again, just as Richard jumped from the saddle. Reaching beneath the surface, he hauled Willis up by the back of his collar and towed the limp outlaw to shore. Because Johnny was attached, the boy half swam, half stumbled along beside them.
Richard dropped Willis face down in the grass then started pushing on the man’s back. Though his action forced water from the outlaw’s nose and mouth, he didn’t revive. Furious, Richard whirled then charged back into the river. “You sonofabitch!”
“Whacha gonna do?” Bodine sneered. “Hang me twice?”
Richard drew back his fist and drove it square into Bodine’s jaw. The outlaw appeared to lift from the water for an instant, then fell back with a splash. He surfaced, cursing and sputtering. Richard grabbed the front of the outlaw’s slicker and leaned close, and with his nose nearly touching Bodine’s, he bit out. “I ought to kill you right now and save the court the trouble.”
Bodine smiled, a slow, malicious, leering smile. The rage surging through Richard’s blood was suddenly sucked from his chest as an evil grin curled up the corners of the outlaw’s lips.
When Bodine spoke, his voice was low, and he drew his syllables out in a seductive taunt that
conjured an image of the serpent in the garden of Eden. “Go ahead, marshal. Kill me. Do it. Come on. We both know ya want to.”
And the sickening truth was that Richard did want to. He could almost imagine how it would feel to wrap his hand tight around Bodine’s wet, stubble-coated neck, while he slowly squeezed the outlaw’s throat. In his mind, he could hear the outlaw’s wheezing little gasps for air as his eyes bulged from their sockets in his desperation to breathe, but instead of letting go, Richard only imagined himself pushing his thumb against the fragile cartilage until it collapsed inward with a soft crack.
His blood turned to ice as a deep chill, which had nothing to do with the rain or his wet clothes, racked every bone in his body. Richard released the outlaw with a shove, more repulsed by his own vile thoughts than by the evil which was Bodine. He felt detached from his body as he slowly backed away, even as he remained unable to tear his gaze from the outlaw, terrified that the next time he looked in a mirror he would find Bodine’s face looking back.
A maniacal burst of laughter erupted from Bodine’s throat. “Come on, marshal, yer no diff’rent than me,” the outlaw jeered. “Ya know how it feels to kill. But go ahead. Hang on ta yer rule book and yer code. See if that’ll save yer soul.”
The backs of Richard’s thighs bumped against the bank. His knees buckled, and he dropped heavily onto a submerged portion of the grassy slope. The muddy water swirled around his waist. A cold shudder shook his body.
“Are ya aimin’ ta set in the river all night?”
Richard blinked and turned his head. Johnny sat huddled on the bank, in the oversized poncho, looking very small and very wet. Rain poured off his matted hair and ran down either side of his face.
“I’d sure be obliged, iffen ya’d unlock me.”
Damn, the poor kid was still shackled to the dead man’s ankle.
“An’ don’t go a-tellin’ me that deputy over yonder got the keys.” With a nod, Johnny gestured upstream, where Brady and the others had just pulled the cook’s wagon up the bank.
Exhausted and ashamed, Richard hauled himself from the water and stood dripping as his numb fingers fumbled to remove the small brass key from the pocket of his vest.
As he stepped forward, Johnny leaned back on his elbows and stuck his foot in the air, making it easier for Richard to insert the key. As soon as Johnny was freed from Willis, the kid rolled to his feet and started up the bank. He had just reached out to grab onto a small bush, when he heaved a weighted sigh and turned around. Tilting his head slightly, he fixed his gaze on Richard.
“Ya ain’t nothin’ like my paw, an’ yer a damn fool fer thinkin’ so.” Then with his chin high, heswung around and climbed up the bank.


  1. Hi MK,
    Thanks so much for having me here today. You asked some great questions.

  2. It's great having you with us Kathy! Lost Hearts sounds like a fun read and right up my alley. I happen to like the old-fashioned way of research sometimes too.

  3. Great interview, super excerpt and a wonderful philosophy.

  4. Hi Maddy,
    Thanks for stopping by. I appreciate all your good wishes. :)

  5. It's so true that we need to take all out "bits" of time and write. I think that's what works for me too. While I'm waiting at the drs. office with the kids or between court hearings, I've got a notebook in my purse and I'm always outlining the next section of the WIP.
    Congrats on your books!


  6. Hi Babs,
    You must have a lot of doctors appointments! I don't know how you manage to get it all done. You're an inspiration. :)

  7. I love this excerpt. I've been cowboy crazy for as long as I can remember. I really felt the old west in this scene. Excellent!

  8. Great interview! And this is a must read book! Kathy has a way of making the characters so real you get pulled into the book and their lives right away.

  9. Hi Sandra,
    I'm glad you enjoyed the excerpt.
    And thanks for your kind words. I realized after I posted this scene that I maybe should have mentioned that he still thought her a boy at this point. Hope it made sense to everyone.

  10. Hi Paty,
    Awww, you're so sweet to say such nice things. Thanks for reading the story. :)