Eilean Donan Castle by DRW Photography

Monday, September 8, 2014

April Holthaus

This weeks Interview is with the Lovely and talented April Holthaus, I love doing this because I get to talk with such wonderful people.

Me: Tell us about yourself

My name is April Holthaus. I live in Minnesota with my husband and 5 month old son. I have been working in the mailing/marketing industry for the past 12 years. I have a passion for history and genealogy which is part of the reason I write historical romances. When I am not working, writing or caring for my son, I love being outdoors and love everything about nature and I totally love squirrels!

Me: Tell us about your new book?

April: My latest book is called Highland Daydreams. It is the third and final book to my MacKinnon Clan Series. The book is about Bram MacKinnon which makes appearances in the other two books, and a new heroine named Lara. Here is the book blurb. 

Lara did not know if it had been weeks or months she had spent in the bowels of the dungeon, for time did not exist within the darkness. Like the walls of her cell, Lara felt she has been a prisoner her whole life. Forced into a loveless marriage to create a union among the two neighboring clans her new husband, Laird Dermot Moray wants more from her than just a docile wife, he want to claim a treasure her clan secretly possesses.  After several failed attempts to claim it, Dermot found a way to rid his burden of his defiant bride by having her locked away forever. Lara had almost given up hope until a nameless warrior whose strength and strong-will gave her the courage she needed.

Thought to be dead, Bram MacKinnon barely held onto life after battling the English for Scotland’s freedom. Imprisoned with no means of escape, he is rescued by his cellmate, a woman. For saving his life, he vows to protect her and return her to her family, but Bram did not realize it was more than he bargained for.

On the run from a group of men hunting them down, will Lara be able to set things right before it’s too late and will Bram be able to keep his promise knowing that he may lose her forever?  Having to travel across both land and sea, Lara and Bram will discover a secret about Lara’s past that’s worth its weight in gold. 

Me:  When you write, does your real life spill over into your book at any time?

April: I think because I write historical, it doesn’t as much. I have yet to travel to England or Scotland, so I do not have any personal experiences to contribute to my books. I am traveling there next summer so I am hoping that I will be able to take that experience and put it into my stories.  

Me: Do you think about a book of yours, being made into a movie, or not when writing? 

April: Honestly, as a newbie writer I think I have a lot to learn and develop before thinking that my books are movie-worthy! =) 

Me: When naming your characters, do you give any thought to the actual meaning?

April: I do. I often times look up Scottish and Old English names, 1. Because I want to make sure that it fits the era and also because I want it to match the character’s personality. 

Me: What made you want to write and also what made you want to write the genre you are writing?

April: I started writing as a hobby. Historical Romance is the only genre I truly enjoy reading so it made sense to write stories of that time. After several months of edits, rewrites and completely starting over, I had several people read my first book to see what they thought. Several thought I should pursue the steps to self-publish it. After several months of research, The Honor of a Highlander was published.  

Me: If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?

April: This is an easy one! Historical Romance Author Suzan Tisdale. 

Me: Do you have any tips for our readers that might dream of writing?

April: The best advice I had ever received was “just write”. When writing a story, whether it is a full length novel or just a short story, you do not have to write in order. Many times people get writers block and just give up because they don’t know how to get the characters from A to B. In that case, just write small scenes that you want your characters to be in. You can always rearrange your story later and maybe once you fit the pieces together it will be easy to fill in the holes. 

The second advice I would suggest is to not make yourself a deadline. I did in the past and when it came down to crunch time, I found that my last few chapters felt rushed because I was in such a hurry to finish. Being in a hurry takes the enjoyment out of writing. Having a goal is always a good idea, but saying that you want to complete this book no later than this specific date can add unnecessary stress. Write because you enjoy it, even if it takes years to perfect it the way you want. Don’t be in a hurry! And remember once your book is out, you will not make everyone happy. When you write, you should not only write for your readers but you should write for yourself. If you are proud of your work, don’t worry about what others think. Be proud of your accomplishment!

Me: Tell us anything you want?

April: I want to thank my readers for taking a chance on me. In the beginning as a new author, I didn’t even think I would get (1) 5-star review and I surely never thought I would have people consider themselves my “fans”. It is a great honor! I promise with each book I write I will work hard to improve and to write you a great story. I also love chatting with readers. So feel free to send me a message or ask me a question anytime. I also love advice, ideas or suggestions so if you have any let me know! 

Thank you very much Kim for having me!

You can find her at:


July 22, 1298

Falkirk, Scotland

The sky darkened. Rain had fallen for more than an hour causing the ground to become slippery and muddy beneath Bram’s feet. Holding his sword high, he waited for Wallace’s battle cry. His breaths became labored and each exhale more intense. The noises around him were muffled over the sound of his heart beating loudly in his ears. Squeezing his grip tighter to steady the hilt of his broadsword, he waited. Clutching the strap of his shield, he pulled it firmly against his chest. Over the assembly of men and commotion, a call echoed.

A sea of men on each side of him barreled down the hill toward their enemy. Bram had no time to think and he acted on instinct alone. Thrashing his sword, he cut down the first few men charging towards him from the left and then the right. He raised his shield when the whistling sound of falling arrows came closer and louder but he did not slow his pace. He used his shield to push past a group of warriors to advance further towards his enemy.

For a brief moment, Bram stood in the middle of a clearing. Men had fought and fallen around him; both comrade and enemy. With eyes looking wildly about at the scene before him, he searched for his next victim. To his right, a soldier dressed in chainmail ran towards him. Sword drawn, he yelled out all sorts of blasphemies. Lowering his weapon with the blade directed towards Bram, the soldier readied himself to slice Bram through.

Bram turned to fight off another opponent, who violently swung his sword harder and harder, forcing Bram to take short steps backwards. Bram leapt to the side, able to dodge the first blow, but met the second with the pure force of his blade. A forceful shot to Bram’s ribs sent ripples of pain throughout his body. He cried out in agony. Dropping to his knees, Bram wrapped one of his arms tightly around his chest and attempted to rise. But just as he was about to stand, the man took a sharp dirk out of his boot and slashed it across Bram’s abdomen.

Bram could feel the heat of the blade as it sliced through his skin down to the muscle. Blood spilled down the front of him. Unexpectedly, a sudden dizzy spell overcame him. Bram doubled over and fell into a small puddle. Lying on the ground, he waited for death to take him. His eyes closed, the blackness came, and then there was nothing but silence.

Chapter 1

August, 1298
Cumberland, England

Dragging the heavy weight of the iron chain secured to her ankle, Lara scurried across the floor of her cell. She tucked her knees under her chin, and wrapped her arms securely around her legs, sitting quiet and still. As her stomach growled once more, Lara pressed her hands firmly against her stomach, wishing away her hunger. The boniness of her ribs beneath her hands told her that if she did not die of illness, she would certainly die of starvation.
Lara was uncertain if it had been weeks or months she had spent within the bowels of the dungeon, for time did not exist within the darkness. She could no longer hear the desperate cries of her fellow cell mates, nor could she feel her own wounds or pains.
Lara hid her face within the folds of what was left of her dress when she heard the guards making their way down the stone stairwell. As they entered this room in the dungeon, they yelled profanities at a prisoner they dragged with them. They threatened that if he didn’t walk faster they would pitch him down the stairs.
She felt her body quiver with fear when she spied Roland, the heavier of the two guards. Roland had once visited Lara in her cell trying to satisfy his needs before he was reprimanded by another guard and forced back out of her cell. Angered by Roland’s attempted rape, the Earl of Cumberland had struck him so hard it created a grotesque scar across his face that left him almost unrecognizable.
Since that wretched day, Roland accused Lara for what had happened, swearing that he would take his revenge out on her. He often tried to put the fear of God in her with his abhorrent threats. At times, Lara wished he would just get it over with so he would leave her alone.
As he entered, Roland peeked around the bars and gave her a half smile. Lara looked away and clasped onto the hem of her skirt a little tighter. Roland turned and instructed the other guard to string up their prisoner by his wrists. The man stumbled forward as the guards dragged him to a wooden pole where a thick rope dangled from a beam on the ceiling. Wrapping the rope around his wrists, the guard tied the knot tightly. The prisoner was hoisted up and stretched from limb to limb.
When they turned him to expose his bare back, the side of his face became visible in the soft light of the torch on the wall. It was him. He was the only one who never fought back or struggled when the guards came for him. Lara was unsure where his unbreakable strength came from, but knew that only a warrior could be so brave. The only spark of life Lara had left within her was the empathy she felt for this warrior who shared the cell next to hers. Lara shuddered as the crack of the whip bit into the man’s flesh. The prisoners around her yelled in the man’s defense, but no sound came from the captive himself. He just clenched his teeth and endured the pain. Lara could not tell how many times they struck him for she tried to block it out.
In a chilling and raspy voice Roland demanded that he be cut down. Lifting her head up, Lara watched as the warrior hung from the rafter, limp, his head hanging to one side. Sweat and blood glistened off his body. The guard took his blade out of its sheath and sliced the rope in two. In that instant, the warrior plummeted to the ground. The portly guard picked him up by his arms and began to drag him back into his cell.
“Get in there!” the guard roared as he shoved him inside the small space.
Roland held him down as the warrior was once again chained to the wall in iron shackles.
Still curled up in the corner, Lara looked at him through the bars, tears streaming down her face. He looked broken, not only physically, but in spirit as well. She carefully watched the guards as they returned to their posts. She knew that one of them would head back up the stairs with the others while her tormentor would sit down on his chair outside her cell, tilt it back against the bars and slam back a tankard or two of whiskey. Their routine had become predictable the last several nights, and Lara had taken notice.
“Hello, my beauty,” Roland whispered to her through the cell bars, so low that no one else could hear him.
His breath smelled like rotten food and stale ale.
“My body is aching for the sweetness between your thighs and I promise that you will enjoy it,” he threatened.
“Perhaps ye would like a matching scar across the other side of yer face,” she threatened.
Roland chuckled.