Eilean Donan Castle by DRW Photography

Monday, September 29, 2014

Deborah Gafford

This weeks interview is with Deborah Gafford, I love having her here this week.

~ I want to start off with my Review of the book below. I think it is important for you to know this genre is not something I normally read. I like my paranormal/Historical, Romances. I was asked to do a review on this and so I will. 

Romantic Comedy ~ You're in Good Hands with Al Tate ~ Deborah Gafford

Let me say that if this is what I have to base 5 star books off of, then I will be posting a lot of 3 or 4 star reviews in the future. This lady draws you into her book and keeps you there. You are so part of the story that you only want to keep going, but you also don't want it to stop. I would compare her to Kathryn Le Veque, Donna Fletcher and Suzan Tisdale just to name a few. The women I admire and love reading.

She has a great story, flows really well and the story keeps you reading. You don't even know you're reading a Novella. I highly recommend this book. I am happy I had the chance to review this book. I would have missed out on a great book had she not asked me too.

Me: Tell us about yourself

Deborah: I'm a retired elementary school teacher and author. I taught for 23 years, including 2 years in Japan. I love to travel and have visited Korea, Hong Kong, Mexico, and Scotland as well as many of the states in the USA.
I am married to my high school sweetheart who is the role model for all of my romantic heroes. We live out in the country in Texas, away from the big cities, with two slightly spoiled dogs and the occasional herd of deer that wanders across our land.
I have been an avid reader all of my life and wrote occasionally during my teaching career. I have been published in travel, military life, and romance magazines. Historical romance is my favorite genre to read and I LOVE Scotland. So after I retired, I decided to write historical romance set in the medieval time period in the Highlands of Scotland. Once in a while if I just "have" to have a break from handsome, brave, muscle-bound romantic heroes in kilts, I write contemporary romantic comedy.
When I am not writing or reading, I love to spin wool into yarn on an antique spinning wheel and weave rugs on a large floor loom just as one of my medieval characters would have done.

Me: Tell us about your new book

Deborah: I am currently writing Highland Betrayal, the third book in my Heart of the Highlander historical romance series. I hope to release it in late October or November of this year (2014). In Highland Betrayal, I am introducing a new family, the McEwens. Isabelle McEwen is the heroine and love interest of the hero, William MacGregor. For those who don't know him, William MacGregor is the brother of Alexander MacGregor, the hero of Highlander's Bride, book 1. William was a fun character to write and after many readers asked if he was going to have his own book, I decided it was time to write his story.

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

Deborah: Yes, real life does occasionally spill over into my writing. For example, some scenes in my award-winning romantic comedy, You're in Good Hands with Al Tate, really happened. But to keep from spoiling readers' fun in guessing, (and totally embarrassing myself!), I'll never tell which ones they are! If you want a fun look at some wild, crazy things that can happen to uh, a book character, you might enjoy reading it. Just remember, I warned you they are wild and crazy.

By the way, You're in Good Hands with Al Tate received the CROWNED HEART AWARD and was a FINALIST for InD'Tale Magazine's RONÉ AWARD for best contemporary romance of 2012. Now, it's getting a brand new FANTASTIC cover. Look for it in the next few weeks with the AWESOME new cover!

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

Deborah: No, when I write, I get so involved with telling the story that I don't think of it in any other way. It would be wonderful if one were made into a movie one day, but I don't really think about it. It is often a real challenge writing the story the way I imagine it when the characters all want it written "their way". And, yes, the characters DO talk to me. They can get downright bossy at times.

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

Deborah: Since most of my books are Scottish historical romances, I have many Gaelic dictionaries, Scottish names books, and clan histories as well as books on medieval, Celtic, and Scottish way of life. When I imagine my characters, I imagine everything about them- from the way they look and sound, to their age, personality, and job. Then I look through my research books and find information, especially Celtic names if possible, that fit them. Besides the meaning of the name, I try to find a name that has a particular "look" or sound to it that would help convey what that character is like since many people may not know the actual meaning of the name.

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

Deborah: That is a hard question to answer. I have many favorite writers and have learned things from them as well as from the national and local writers' organizations I belong to such as Romance Writers of America (RWA), San Antonio Romance Authors (SARA), and Celtic Heart Romance Writers. Some of my favorite authors are: Delores Fossen, Lynn Kurland, Joni Hahn, Christine Feehan, and Dorothy Wiley. All of them have different styles of writing and write different types of books but all have strong characters and plots which make their reading so fascinating.

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

Deborah: I think the hardest thing for a writer to do is to be patient and when the story comes to you, write and don't stop! There are times when writer's block can look like it will stop the book forever or when life gets in the way and keeps you from writing as often as you want, but don't give up. If you only write one page a day, after a year, you will have a 365 page book! For some helpful tips and information on writing, readers can go to my website, http://deborahgafford.com/ and read the articles on my Tips of the Trade page. To learn about everyone involved in the creation of books, from authors, cover artists, book promoters and everyone in between, readers will find interesting information on my website's In the Spotlight page.

Me: Tell us anything you want 

Deborah: Thank you. I'd like to invite readers to take a look at my books and website and contact me with their thoughts on them. My first two books in my Heart of the Highlander historical romance series, Highlander's Bride and The Talisman, are available at Amazon.com as well as other online book retailers. My romantic comedy, You're in Good Hands with Al Tate, is also available at Amazon.com and elsewhere online. Below are the direct links for my books and website.

Highlander's Bride (also received the CROWNED HEART AWARD)


Excerpt from Highlander's Bride
Coast of France 1502

"You, madam, have the honor of being the first pawn to fall."
Phillipe Ja Bier calmly watched the life fade from the old midwife's eyes. He wiped her blood from his rapier and slipped it back into the unassuming walking cane, then stepped over her lifeless body and walked out of the wooded copse to his waiting coach. Now that he knew where to search for Katherine, no one would stand in his way.
After dusting the coach seat with his lace-edged handkerchief, Ja Bier climbed in and rapped the ceiling sharply with the head of his cane. He sat back in comfort and stared out the window, a slight smile on his lips. As the woods faded in the distance his smile distorted into a twisted smirk as he planned his next move. He would bring Katherine back to France, then take his leisure playing out the game that had begun so long ago. A game he meant to win.

Scotland 1503
"I'd rather be skewered on a spit and roasted alive!" Glowering at his brother, Alexander MacGregor brandished his broadsword in the air to emphasize his point. "And you can tell that to Da when you return. Without me."
"Aye, brother, I could. But I will not. Da sent me to bring you home and 'tis that I will do."
Turning in his saddle, Alexander viewed his men waiting nearby. From their grins, it seemed they found the conversation amusing. He called to his head man-at-arms. "Malcolm, lead the men to the burn to water their mounts."
The rugged older man nodded. "Aye. Lads, ye heard him. Dinna just sit there till yer arses grow roots."
Alexander waited impatiently till the men were out of earshot and then turned back to his younger brother, William. "Now, what is this nonsense you speak of?"
William shrugged. "I told you. Da sent me to fetch you with all speed. He means for you to marry the daughter of an old friend within the sennight."
"Bloody hell!" Alexander yanked sharply on his reins causing his coal black stallion to rear and paw the air with its front legs. Would his trouble with women never end? Clamping his thighs to his horse's sides, Alexander eased his pull on the reins calming the stallion to its former stance even as thoughts of his recent humiliation at court burned in his gut increasing his anger.
Lady Beatrice's beauty and pleasant demeanor had set her apart from the fickle, scheming women who frequented court looking to snare a husband and a lover with equal abandon. The more time he spent with her, the more confident he had become that she was the only woman for him. When she'd fair swooned from the one chaste kiss they'd shared, he was convinced.
Later, when old Laird Buccleuch had asked him to take a message to his nephew, he had almost refused. The man's nephew was a womanizing drunkard and Alexander wanted naught to do with him. But he had agreed to do it out of friendship for the old man. In hindsight, he now realized Lord Buccleuch had sent him deliberately. Someday, when his anger and shame ceased to eat at him so, he would find it in him to thank the old man.
Alexander had knocked on the young Buccleuch's chamber door and entered when bid to do so. Upon hearing sounds of heated passion and a strumpet's lewd suggestions enticing the young man with further pleasures, he immediately turned to leave when he realized he knew the woman's voice.
He froze, unable to move, then damned himself for his suspicions. Nay! 'Twas not possible! Beatrice had been fair overcome from their one chaste kiss. 'Twas unthinkable that she knew the bawdy pleasures the whore had called out to the randy fool.
When young Buccleuch groaned loudly as he obviously reached his release, the woman laughed and spoke again.
"That should keep ye till I return this eve."
"Nay, now I'll have the other pleasures ye promised me."
"Ye will have them and more, but I must go now and dress for dinner. Alexander will be pining to share his trencher with me."
The young man laughed. "Ye share a trencher with him and your quim with me. 'Tis a fine jest ye play on the besotted fool."
Alexander crossed the room in three strides and jerked back the bed curtains. God! It was her!
She gasped and tried to cover her breasts with her arms. The color drained from Buccleuch's face and he stammered, "I… I thought 'twas a servant who entered."
Blood pounded in Alexander's head and his eyes narrowed to mere slits. "You should keep your door barred while you bed your whore." Then he slammed his fist into the sod's face. He looked down at the senseless fool, then turned to face Beatrice. He stared at her, his glare raking her body. She cowered when he lifted his hand from his side but then sat up and stared back defiantly as he merely reached into his sporran.
Alexander forced the words from his lips as he pulled out three pieces of silver. "I do not know the price of a court whore, but this should pay for your services." He tossed the coins in her lap and strode from the room.
For the next several days, he trained relentlessly, stopping only to eat with his men in the garrison hall. But when the king ordered him to attend to a matter during one of his feasts, Alexander swallowed his pride and took his place at the high table in the great hall.
Determined not to look for Beatrice among the crowd, he spoke with members of the King's Counsel. The candid discussion had eased his frustration until he heard a woman's laugh ring out from further down the table. Despite his resolve, he glanced at the woman whose laugh he remembered all too well.
Beatrice sat surrounded by men and women of the court. She whispered to them, then pointed at him and laughed again. When her companions joined in her mirth, he forced himself to look away, hardening his heart against the pain she'd caused him. When her laughter rang out again, obviously mocking him to anyone who would listen, he vowed never to let another woman affect him so.
'Twould be a cold day in hell before he gave his heart again!
Alexander shook his head, bringing his thoughts back to the present. Unwilling to speak of his humiliation, he scowled at his brother. "I tell you I won't do it. I'm no spineless puppet to be twisted about because Da holds the strings. We've discussed this a hundred times. I've told him when I found the right lass I would marry of my own choice. And not before."
William leaned forward and patted his horse's neck. "'Tis well I know it, but still he bid me find you quickly and bring you home."
"God's bones!" Alexander cursed. With his yearly service to the king complete, he was free to seek his fortune as he chose. He had intended to enjoy his freedom before returning home to During Castle to face the clan's many demands as next in line to become laird.
Leaning forward in the saddle, he surveyed the land in front of him. The play of afternoon sunlight rippled across a pale amber stream tinted by miles of peat as it meandered through the green valley. Surrounded by silent hills and the towering rock clad heights of Ben Cleuch, the quiet glen should have filled him with a sense of peace.
Instead, tales flooded his mind of the fierce battles once waged there, staining the land with blood. Down there, near the rocky outcrop on the edge of the forest, the MacGregor clan had fought boldly to claim the land and built a fortress in the glen duly named Ironwood. One day all this would belong to him. He'd assume his duty as laird and would have to wed. But, by God, he hadn't planned on doing it now!
He clenched his hands around the saddle pommel and shifted his glance back to William. "What brought on this foolish idea? Is aught amiss?"
"Da bid me speak naught of it. You will have to meet with him to hear his mind on the matter."
"Aye, so 'twould seem." Alexander spun his horse around and shouted back to his brother. "Have my men break camp and follow me. I will speak with Da and settle this once and for all." Slapping the ends of his reins against his mount, he urged it into a brisk canter down the hillside.
Alexander rode the rest of the day and throughout the night, stopping to rest only once for a few hours. As the distance shrank between Ironwood's peaceful valley and During Castle, he planned his argument against the unwanted marriage. But would Da heed his words without knowing all?
And what of Fiona? Although he'd never spoken words of love or commitment to the lass before he left, the one and only time he'd become blinding drunk, he had awoken with her in his bed seeming to prove he felt otherwise. And damn his hazy memory; he couldn't even remember bedding the lass.
Still worse, he'd always thought of her more as a little sister than a mere member of his clan. He'd always taken his lusty encounters with other women well beyond the castle gates. But seeing the blood-stained sheet she'd nervously wrapped around her nakedness proved he had taken her innocence whether he could remember it or not.
Vicious storms and foul weather had made the roads impassable and delayed his journey to meet the king's army for several weeks. In all that time, Fiona had shown no signs she carried a child from that night he scarce remembered. Fearing the king's displeasure for his late arrival, he had left as soon as the roads were fit to travel and hurriedly joined the king's troops at Scone. What if he was mistaken? Did a bastard child wait to claim his name when he returned? If so, he was honor bound to marry Fiona, but 'twould seem he was already pledged to some sight unseen wench known only to his sire. By the saints, his troubles with women were nearly enough to make him wish he'd become a monk!
Arriving home the next morn, Alexander spurred his horse through the gates, pulled to a sharp halt in front of the keep and vaulted from the saddle. He tossed the reins to one of the castle grooms. "Cool him down well, lad. I rode long and hard." 
With that, he strode up the steps of the keep, his leather boots beating an angry tempo on the stone stairs. The iron hinges on the massive oak doors screeched an eerie welcome as he stepped into the dim corridor leading to the great hall. He hesitated just long enough for his eyes to adjust to the light, then continued.
His weariness faded at the possibility of a nameless child awaiting him to do as duty bid, yet also uphold the MacGregor honor by fulfilling the betrothal his sire had arranged in his absence. Resentment rose once again as he silently questioned the motive for his summons.
He was no honorless cur; he would seek Fiona as soon as possible and learn the truth. If she had borne him a child, he would wed her and treat her and the child well. Until then, he'd listen to what his father had to say and protect Fiona's honor as best he could without telling all. Damn his memory for not recalling more of the night. Even drunk, he never would have thought he would bed Fiona. True, she was a beauty, but he had always thought of her as a younger sister, growing up in the castle together as they had. But knowing her as he did, he knew she wouldn't lie to him. Moreover, the proof had been there for him to see. Damn his lust.
Movement from across the great hall drew Alexander's attention. His sire, Laird Ian MacGregor, sat in an ornately carved high-backed chair by the hearth with one of his hunting dogs stretched out at his feet.
Taking a deep breath, Alexander marched quickly across the large room. The ends of his plaid slapped against his legs as he came to a halt in front of his father. The muscles of his face clenched tightly as he bowed in silent greeting.
Ian looked at Alexander, then back down at his dog, absently rubbing its head. "He doesna seem pleased, Cu. Och, well, it canna be helped."
Ian nodded and greeted him. "Ah, son, I see William found you and relayed my request."
"Request? 'Twas a bloody command and absurd at that." Alexander glanced around the room. Fiona wasn't there, nor was any young child of familiar bearing being held in tow. "We have spoken of this matter many times and I've no wish to bandy words again. I will not wed some strange lass on a whim to please one of your old friends. When I wed, 'twill be of my own choice and time. As the next laird, I claim that right."
Ian surged to his feet. His eyes narrowed and his mouth shrank to a thin line among the fiery red bristles of his beard. "I am laird here! 'Tis my choice whom and when you wed. And as my heir, you will do what I say. In five days' time, you will wed Lady Katherine, daughter of Laird and Lady Gordon, or I vow I will strike yer name from our clan and cast you out as the disobedient and ungrateful son you show me now!"
"Surely you jest! You cannot be serious!"
"I ne'er make idle threats. Think well on this."
"God's blood, even if I agreed to such a foolish idea 'tis no reason to do it so soon. Why such need for haste? What is wrong with the lass that I am rushed to take her, sight unseen?"
"'Tis naught wrong with the lass. You will wed her now because I have deemed it so. Settle this in your mind, for I have given my word to Laird Gordon. I willna discuss this further."
Anger knotted in Alexander's chest at the ultimatum and ricocheted through him in hot fiery sparks. For one tense moment, he faced his father in grim silence. It had always been so. His independent spirit had often rebelled against the rules of his father simply because they were not his choice or in his power to do otherwise. With defiance gnawing in his belly, he spun on his heel, strode out of the great hall and up the stairs to his chamber.
Inside his room, his scowling glance raked the large bed with his family crest carved in the headboard. Hanging on the rough stone wall above it were a targe and broadsword. He stared at them, his hands clenched, itching for action. "God's blood, but I can't believe this!"
Yanking the MacGregor badge from his shirt, he stared down at the symbol of his heritage, gripping it tightly in his palm until his knuckles turned white. Then he flung it on the bed followed by his kilt. Donning an old pair of breeks, Alexander grabbed his broadsword and strode out of his chamber without looking back.

Thank you Kimi, and thank you to readers everywhere. You give writers like me a chance to share our stories and we love doing it!