Friday, November 9, 2012

Debra's Bandit: On Tour with Author Julie Lence

She’s going to find out what that something is and convince him there’s more to life than the tomfoolery of outrunning a posse.
Forced to flee his home in Chicago, Gage Cantrell shed his greenhorn ways and joined an outlaw band. He’s spent the last six years dodging bullets and a Pinkerton determined to bring him to justice. Now that Gage has settled for a spell in Revolving Point, Texas, hoping to win the heart of the woman he loves, his past is about to catch up to him. Trouble is, Debra doesn’t know about Chicago. If she’ll forgive his cowardice on that fateful night, he’ll finally know peace. That is if he can thwart the Pinkerton and send him packing—for good.

Raised in the St. Louis orphanage, Debra Moore has known more hard times than good. Riding with her brother and Gage as they raided the west brought about a longing for a real home, and for Gage to return her love. She’s found a comfortable haven in Revolving Point and wants Gage to cease to his bandit ways and put down roots with her. But Gage has never been the settling type, and lately he’s been more secretive than usual. Something’s bothering him. She’s going to find out what that something is and convince him there’s more to life than the tomfoolery of outrunning a posse.

An Interview with the Author




Please tell us a little about yourself.

I'm originally from upstate New York. I met my husband in the latter part of 12th grade. We married two years later. At that time, he had already enlisted in the U.S. Air Force, and I enjoyed accompanying him on his 20 year career.

Back in school, I liked to read, and I liked to write, as long as I could chose the topic. Having married young, we had only one car, so I didn't work the first few months we were married. I read a lot at this time, mostly Jackie Collins. Later, a friend introduced me to the world of romance. These stories had great plots, remarkable characters and happy-ever-after endings--I couldn't get enough of them. I quickly became hooked on Johanna Lindsey, mostly for her westerns and her family saga involving the Malorys. (James Malory is still my favorite hero.) I soon happened upon Judith McNaught and fell in love with her flawless writing style. Her voice inspired me to write my own novel. I began with contemporary romance, but that didn't go very far. Then I read that one should write what they like, so with a never-ending love for John Wayne, horses and the television show, Dallas, I ventured into writing western historical romance.

I created the Weston family; 3 brothers each headlining his own story. It took years of writing, editing, and rewriting and honing my craft before I found a publisher willing to publish my first book, Luck of the Draw. Asylett Press became a second family to me, and it was my wish to strictly write for them. Sadly, the owner took ill and had to close. At that point, I had a choice; either find a new publisher or self-publish. I choose self-publishing and have not regretted it. It may be frustrating at times, but it is rewarding on many different levels.

Currently, I live in Colorado. I'm a stay-at-home mom enjoying a career writing western historical romance. My days are spent at the keyboard writing or plotting the next scene and I love it. I also love being here for my son should he need me during the day. When I'm not writing, I like to explore the Rocky Mountains, watch football and spend time with my family.      

Did you plan to be a writer or did it just happen?

I never planned to become a writer. It just happened. My work background is accounting and banking. Creating my own stories never entered my mind, not until I read Judith McNaught. Being naive back then, I thought it would be easy. It wasn't. So while I kept balancing the books at my day job, I learned and honed the craft of writing at night and on the weekend by joining a writing group. The fabulous ladies at Pikes Peak Romance Writers taught me everything from contracts to query letters to marketing. It was through one of them that I found my publisher, and the rest, as they say is history. No, lol, I was able to quit my day job and become a stay-at-home mom. That, accompanied with what I learned at PPRW, helped me get to where I am today.

When did you decide to take that step that made you a published author? 

Many, many years ago. While I was writing draft after draft after draft, I also read romances.  I would scour new and used bookstores in search of the oldest or newest book by my favorite authors. It was looking at those store shelves that gave me the determination to never quit. I promised myself that someday a book written by me would be available for sale to the public.  

If you had to sum it up (title of book) in 30 or less words, what would you say?

Debra's Bandit: One can give a person advice concerning a similar problem he/she is facing, but it is easier to give that advice than it is to follow your own preachings.   

What inspired the idea behind your book?

Debra's Bandit is the third book in my Revolving Point, TX series. At the start of each book, the hero is an outlaw. Throughout the story, the hero has to gradually redeem part of himself and turn in favor of the law. What inspired me most about Gage and my other heroes was what made them become an outlaw. Why the need to cheat, steal and sometimes kill, and how do they come to terms with it. For Gage, the answer to that was simple. He had to forgive himself, only he couldn't see it, until Debra made him aware of the answer, of exactly what he had been preaching to her since the start of the story.    

Do you have a favorite character in (name of book)? Who and why?

While I loved working with Gage and Debra, my favorite character in Debra's Bandit is  Buck Grayson. Buck is always a joy to work with. He's moody, temperamental, sure of himself (most times), cocky and he loves Suzanna. He can get away with just about anything, and say anything in brutal honesty or jest, because Suzanna is really the only thing he cares about. Her opinion of him is what matters most to him, and as long as she's fine with the things he does, he's not going to change his ways for someone else. 

What has been your greatest challenge in writing Debra’s Bandit?

My greatest challenge in Debra's Bandit was Debra herself. I had a good handle on Gage, his mannerisms, his voice, likes and dislikes and his past, but Debra's voice proved a problem in the beginning. I knew in my mind who she was, but getting her out on paper was difficult. One of the reasons for that was as overseer of the mercantile, I couldn't move her to other places very often. But once I got her some help in the form of Emmit Kessler and took her outside the store, she came to life. I was then able to go back and fill in the missing pieces, because by then I had come to terms with the fact the mercantile was the focal point of a town. People not only came for supplies, they came for news, gossip and friendship, and Debra provided all of that. I just had to show it through her warm personality.

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

I most definitely have to be alone, and the house has to be quiet. This change has come about in the last few years. There was a time when I could listen to the radio, or have the family in other rooms doing their own thing, but then I found I was either signing along to a song, listening to the news or straining my ear to hear what everyone else wass doing. The only time I find I can write with someone home is during the summer when my son has a friend over. When he's occupied and not asking questions or wanting to go somewhere, than I'm at peace and can concentrate much better.  

What kind of research was involved for the series? Did you find it became easier with each book?

Debra's Bandit did not require research, because my research had been done with the other 2 books in the series.

Revolving Point, Texas is a fictional town I created in my debut novel.  For the Revolving Point, Texas series, I had planned for the setting to be in Oklahoma. I had read about a town tucked in the middle of nowhere that outlaws and people looking to escape their pasts used for a hideout. Sadly, the town did not exist in the year my story took place, so I had to find another setting. Revolving Point seemed like the perfect place for Buck Grayson to come to terms with his past. Filled with saloons, brothels, a few hotels, cardsharps, outlaws, soiled doves and a sheriff unable to keep law and order, Buck was exactly the person the town needed to chase out any remaining rabble rousers after a fire nearly destroyed the entire town and to keep them out. But at the start of Buck's story, he was in prison. I wanted a real prison close to Revolving Point, as that is where his heroine was waiting for him, thus began my research.

I happened on a Texas state prison set in that time in Huntsville, nicknamed The Walls. Research didn't provide a lot of details, other than to say the prisoners worked by day seeding cotton, and that the prison is still in use today. I took liberty with the interior of the prison, incorporated the bell tower into the story and stuck with the prison's nickname throughout the series, The Walls, figuring my outlaws and people from that time would be familiar with the nickname.

My next goal for the series was the layout of the town. I didn't want characters in one book to walk in one direction to the mercantile and in another direction to the same mercantile in another book, so I drew a map. With each book, I inserted into the map new businesses and their locations within the town, to include my second heroine's orphanage. And then I researched the brewing and shipping of beer to ensure Miller's saloon would indeed have barrels of ale and bottles whiskey in supply. By the time I began work on Debra's Bandit, all the pieces for that story were in place, and I incorporated my research with beer into the story in another way; Gage's father owns a brewing company.        

I would read these books simply because of the covers – all in the series are beautiful! Did you have a part in their design?

I cannot take full credit for the covers. The artwork was provided by Olivier LeQueinec for Dreamstime, an internet site that sells stock photos for use with covers and bookmarks. The moment I saw Mr. LeQueinic's work, I was hooked and had to have some of his photos for my series. My husband--he works in computers--taught me how to use software to crop the photos and add the words and fonts.   

As a multi-genre author, how do you juggle going back and forth between the different genres? Do you have a preferred genre?

Currently, my writing genre is western historical romance, but I do read contemporary. I also read mystery and women's fiction. To keep myself grounded when I'm writing, I have a reference book filled with western terms, day-to-day living in the 1800's, clothes, home furnishings and modes of travel. Whenever I get stuck trying to translate a modern term into a term from that era, I always consult my book. Sometimes, when writing the first draft, I might overlook something, but I usually catch it the second time around. 

Do you have plans for a new book?  

Currently, I'm penning a short story I hope to have available for Christmas. This one goes back to my Weston Family Series and features Lucas' daughter Tess.


What do you have in store next for your readers?

After I complete my short story, I want to go back to the Weston Family again. The brothers had a sister who ran away when she was eighteen. They have no idea why she did, where she went, and they haven't seen her in close to twenty years. I would love to get inside Rachael's head, figure out what propelled her to leave home on the back of an Indian brave's pony, discover where she went, what she's been doing all these years and why she chooses to return to the family home.   

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

My greatest pleasure was seeing my first book in e-book and print formats. There were times I thought it would never happen, and to this day I thank Sandra for seeing something in my writing and taking a chance on me. If not for her, I wouldn't be where I am now, six books into what I hope is a long career.  

What type of hero do you like best?

Tall and muscular in body. Strong in character and principles. Someone who isn't afraid to love, apologize and fight for justice and honesty. 

Is there any place and time in the world and in history that you would like to visit?

I would love to go back to the mid 1800's, somewhere in the western part of the United States. Life was hard back then, and yet simple. And since I have always loved cowboys, horses, ranches and even sawdust covering a saloon floor, I think I'd have a blast meeting and walking beside the men and women who shaped the west into what it is today.

Who or what has most influenced your writing?

This one is so easy: Johanna Lindsey, Judith McNaught and Linda Lael Miller. Ms. Lindsey for her Malory family saga. She inspired me to create the Weston family. Ms. Naught for her flawless and precise writing style. I strive to be like her. And Ms. Miller for all things western. With each of her books, I always learn something new. 

Why did you choose to be an Indie writer and would you choose to self-publish again?

After the ups and downs of finding my initial publisher, I didn't want to go through rejection upon rejection again until I found a new house. Between Amazon, Smashwords and Create Space, the internet has provided so many great tools for authors to self publish, and this is the way I have chosen to go and will go in the future. From world building, to plotting and writing, to defining characters to designing the covers, I enjoy being in control and have no desire to give that up.   

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

Never give up. Keep writing, everyday, learn your craft, hone your skills and dream that dream, for one day, it will come true.

How long did it take to get this book from idea to being published? What was the most grueling process?

I began writing Debra's Bandit in the summer of 2011. Due to my publisher closing in October of 2011, I had to put the book on hold and give myself a crash course in self publishing. Zanna's Outlaw and Lydia's Gunslinger were released at the beginning of 2012 and once I didn't have to worry about them, I went back to writing Debra's Bandit and finished this past summer.

I try to write one book per school year. Sometimes that happens. Other times it doesn't, but I've learned not to beat myself up when my plans go astray. Family and home come first, and I remind myself of that and try my best to go with the flow. 

Laptop, desktop or notebook and pen for writing?

Definitely desktop. I make too many mistakes in spelling and punctuation on the laptop. And pen and paper don't agree with my fingers any more. 

Do you believe in writer’s block? Has it ever happened to you?

Yes, I do, and yes it has. Usually when I'm stuck, I turn off the computer and do something else, like clean the house. The physical activity helps clear the clutter from my mind and get me back on course.

If you could get anyone to read your book, who would you choose and why?

Linda Lael Miller. She is the queen of western romance and I’d be honored if she read my work. And probably have a heart attack if she actually liked it.

Favorite place?

New York City

Best Christmas present?

I don't know--maybe a Barbie doll when I was young.

Favorite author?

Judith McNaught, Johanna Lindsey, Linda Lael Miller

Favorite smell?

Turkey roasting in the oven--yum!

Favorite series?

NCIS and NICS Los Angeles.  I can't decide which one I like better. Both are fantastic and the writing is sharp.

Favorite movie?

Gone With the Wind, Donovan's Reef, McClintock

Favorite dish?

Veal Parm

Favorite color?

Purple and Grey

Favorite quote?

Live and Let Live

Your best trait?

Respect

Your worst trait?

Impatience

Is there anything else you’d like to share with your reader’s today?

Yes. I enjoy meeting fans of romance. Please visit my FB page, where we can chat and trade books we adore.

 Enjoy an Excerpt
"You make it a habit of assessing other men?" Gage demanded. "What? No! He—Ow!" Tears welled in Debra's eyes and she dropped something into the water. "What is it?" He crowded close to her. "I cut my hand on a knife," she cried. "Let me see." He gently gripped her wrist and drew her hand toward him, seeing blood and soap suds trickle down her right palm. "It's a flesh wound." Wordlessly, he grabbed a towel from the drawer beside him and wrapped the cloth around her hand. He reached into the cabinet above him and took out a bottle of whiskey, removed the towel and poured a good amount of the rye over the cut. Rifling through the cabinet, he found a piece of linen and wrapped it around her palm, tying the ends off in a knot. “Keep the bandage on so the wound doesn’t fester.” Debra looked up at him. Tears swam in her copper eyes. Two fat drops spilled from the corner of her eye. He watched them trickle down her skin to her delicate jaw before returning his gaze to her watery eyes. Past the rest of the tears she tried to hold at bay he saw something else. A longing not to be ignored, to be loved by him as a man loves a woman. Something inside him shifted, the roots that had been planted long ago digging in deeper. He leaned toward her, telling himself he was only going to ease her discomfort… 

Tour Giveaway! 
Two copies of the book will be awarded to two commenters at the end of the tour. 

 Meet the Author
I grew up in an average-size city in upstate New York. All through school I enjoyed writing as long as I could choose the topic. I even tried to write a novel length story in middle school, but since I was young I didn't stick with it all that long. 

I met my husband during the latter part of 12th grade and married him two years later. He had already enlisted in the Air Force and I enjoyed accompanying him on his twenty years of service. By marrying young and entering the work force full-time, the writing bug didn't bite again until the early 90's when I read Double Standards by Judith McNaught. I was already hooked on the romance genre and family sagas, thanks to Johanna Lindsey's Malory family, and the little critter of a muse dug his teeth in deep. By combining my love for romance, family and the old west, I have settled into a career writing western historical romance. 

Debra's Bandit is the third book in my Revolving Point, TX Series and features outlaw Gage Cantrell and mercantile overseer Debra Moore as the hero and heroine. Currently, I'm working on my next novel, a short story I hope to have out in time for the holiday season. I'm a stay-at-home mom who enjoys taking care of family and home, reading and anything to do with the American West. I also enjoy meeting other fans of the romance genre, so if you've got time, say hello at: https://www.facebook.com/#!/Julielence.

9 comments:

  1. Hi MK:
    Thank you for having me today, and for hosting the tour. This is so much fun and you're wonderful to work with.

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  2. Always a pleasure to have you with us Julie. What a great accomplishment you've made--congratulations on the book and wishing you many more to come.

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  3. Congrats on the new release. Debra's Bandit sounds fantastic. Can't wait to read it. Thanks for the great interview and excerpt. I love stories of redemption.

    e.balinski(at)att(dot)net

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  4. Great interview! Sounds like you have a real love of all things western!

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  5. Hi Michele:
    I do have a love for all things western. It all started with watching John Wayne movies with my dad on Sunday afternoons. My favorite western thing--wagonwheels. Don't know why. I just love 'em. I have 4 outside and my kitchen table is a wagon wheel. The chairs have smaller wagon wheels in their backs. Pretty cool. Have a great day!

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  6. Congratulations on your new release, Debra's Bandit!

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  7. That was a fantastic interview Julie. And the excerpt tells me 'Debra's Bandit' promises to be an exciting story.

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  8. Hi Vicki:
    Thanks for stopping by and reading more about me.

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  9. Hi Ria:
    Thanks for visiting with me here. Gage and Debra were fun to write.

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