Category Archives: historical romance

Getting My Irish Up

.

 

 

I was blessed with two pairs of loving grandparents with diverse cultural backgrounds. On my paternal side, my grandparents came from Gibraltar, the Rock, a very British background with a mixed lineage of Spanish, Genoese, and  Maltese. My paternal grandfather helped in the ship building industry. He enjoyed telling tales of those times, and he and my paternal grandmother worked hard in bringing up their family when they emigrated to New York City. I think they inspired the ideals of hard work, love of family, and faith in me which has carried me through much in my life.

My maternal grandparents came to New York from Ireland. They too, worked hard, and struggled to support their family. Like many immigrants than and now, they faced discricropped-110_110.jpgmination. I remember my Irish grandmother telling me stories of  the Great Depression and facing both the lack of work and the prejudice of those who said “No Irish need apply.” She told me how they took in laundry, did odd jobs, and managed to provide for their growing family.

Nanny Smith taught me many things and shared stories of the old country as we sipped the tea or as I helped her make  Irish soda bread. My grandfather, too, liked to spin yarns.

I think a diverse cultural background, rich with tales of other times and lands added to my respect for story telling and desire to pass along the rich traditions.

As a writer, I draw on my life experiences as well as what I have learned. Travels to different places in the world have helped with background research, characters, and of course, settings.

I believe that this as well as those “yarns” I heard growing up contributed to my storytelling.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Writing Mentor Friends: Kathryn Hayes

Kathryn Hayes, a founding mother of the New York City chapter of Romance Writers of America was a one-woman welcome wagon for new members. As a children’s book librarian for the New York City public library, she often brought material about books to the writers’ group and gave me educational material for my teaching or my son. In addition to organizing local writers’ workshops, Kathryn proofread the chapter’s newsletter and judged its writing contest.

Writing as Kathryn Hitte, she published several children’s books including an anthology used in elementary schools. Kathryn gave me a copy of that anthology which contained a copy of Mexicali Soup, a story she wrote with her husband William D. Hayes which also came out in picture book form.

 

Aside from being members of the same writers’ chapter, Kathryn and I became friends. She often invited me to join her for cappuccino or hot cocoa after the meeting, and we took field trips to do research for our writing at local New York museums.

Kathryn suggested ways to outline story plot, use the library for research, and to use pictures and poetry for writing stories.

She had a wonderful reading voice and a theatrical flair which made the stories come alive.

WildflowersWhenever I felt dejected about my writing, Kathryn reminded me to keep writing. “How’s that western going?” she’d ask in reference to my early drafts of Wildflowers. That book would later be published in 2007.

Loving coupleKathryn also helped me with some of my research for a story dealing with reincarnation and ancient Mexico and later called Sacred Fires.

AngelsAmongUs_LRG

When I showed her the draft of a third novel dealing with a guardian angel and a psychic artist, Angels Among Us, she commented,“Oh, that is a good story,” which helped encourage me to finish the book and send it out.

KissOutofTime_432Having been a children’s book librarian and having written for young audiences, Kathryn inspired me to write for young people. It would be a long while later, but I did when I wrote stories aboutA_Dance_in_Time_Final_Front_Cover_Revised_Eyes_11_4_2014 a teen ghost hunter in New Jersey:   A Kiss Out of Time, published 2013, and  A Dance Out of Time, published in 2015.

 

 

Sadly, Kathryn Hayes passed away in 2003, and I still miss her very much. I wish Kathryn Hayes had lived long enough to see my published work.  We would have had a celebration, and I know she would have been happy for me. I will always feel a sense of indebtedness and love for my mentor and friend, Kathryn Hayes.

 

 

Where did you get your ideas for Wildflowers

WildflowersThe American West held an aura of adventure for me as a child. I’d grown up watching westerns on television, and when my parents and sister moved to Oklahoma, I went to local museums on Native Americans and pioneer days. I had learned to ride a horse while I was in high school. So, I also enjoyed horseback riding at nearby ranches. Learning to handle a horse helped with some of the research I would do later for my first book, Wildflowers, a historical western romance.

When I visited the pioneer museum in Independence, Missouri, which happened to be the “jumping off” point for the pioneers heading west, I learned a great deal about the lifestyle, the provisions, and the men and women who braved the frontier in search of new homelands. In addition I read a great deal on the wildlife, mountain men, missionaries, and topography of the region covering the Oregon Trail. I have camped and hiked in various places including the mountains of Virginia, Maine, New Hampshire, New York, the Canadian Rockies, and elsewhere which gave me a feel for the great outdoors. Yet, I could not imagine the rigors and dangers of those who trekked westward, many by foot to reach the Oregon Territory. Fishing, canoeing, and bird watching have also added to my appreciation of the outdoor living that went on for the pioneers. Cooking over a camp stove, cleaning up without benefit of a dishwasher or kitchen sink echoed some of the reality of their time; however, picture not having a bath house to wash and change in, lack of toilets, and relying on supplies which had to last for months without benefit of refrigeration and it’s a tough journey. Many did not make it, but those who did became the forbears of future generations of Americans.

From early notes scrawled on a commuter bus, tons of research, and many revisions later, Wildflowers became published in both e-book and print-on-demand versions.

Now available from Amazon and Barnes and Noble.