Hi, Patricia. So glad you could join us today. Welcome to Manic Readers.
Thank you so much. I’m thrilled to be here!
What are three things you must have when you are writing?
- My notes on the chapter I’m writing. I often outline in longhand while sitting in my recliner, so I need my notes when I sit down at the computer.
- Music. On first drafts, I want music playing when I write. Mostly instrumental pieces that often serve as my story’s soundtrack.
- A large glass of sweet iced tea. Most people would need coffee but I am from the South. I want sweet tea. My favorite being the kind served at Cracker Barrel.
Tell us a little about your journey as a writer.
It started when I was in the sixth grade, or that is as early as I recall. I wrote a short story for a class contest and finished in first place. I actually remember the title, Priscilla’s Christmas, but nothing else. Have no idea what the story was about. Ever since then writing has been a part of my life. There have been times, years when I put writing on the back burner, but I have always returned to it. Writing is a gift that remains with you forever.
Do you have a day job?
Yes, I do or I would definitely be a ‘starving artist’. I’m a single gal so the day job is a necessity. For the present, I have to be content to moonlight as a writer.
What do you enjoy the most about writing?
I love creating characters and living with them in their world until their story is told. I love that and I’ve always found it to be a little sad when I reach the end because that’s when the characters and I say goodbye to each other.
Fill us in on your new novella, Almost An Outlaw.
I have always called it my outlaw story. It is a novella that takes place during the week leading up to Jesse James’s wedding. My widowed heroine, Darcy, is Jesse’s cousin and I used the history of the James-Younger gang as the basis for plotting the story. The hero, Austin, is associated with the outlaws through his friendship with Frank and Cole during the war in Missouri. The villain is a ruthless bounty hunter who plans to collect the large reward for the outlaws by using Darcy to lure them out of hiding.
At the heart of the romance is Darcy’s inability to forgive herself for her husband’s death and Austin’s refusal to wed a woman who doesn’t think she deserves a second chance.
What is your advice to new writers?
You have to make writing a priority in your life. Over the years, I have seen talented writers never accomplish anything because they didn’t make writing a priority. They had great ideas and amazing talent that I envied so much. They wanted to be writers and they had good intentions, but writing requires sacrifice. It is hard work and it is work you have to do alone. You have to be dedicated enough to say no to your family and friends. You have to claim your time to write. No one else will do it for you. And, it doesn’t matter how many workshops you’ve attended or books on writing you’ve read, the work has to be done. You have to finish the story. And, you will never finish unless you make writing a priority.
What’s in the future for you?
Happiness, I hope! Maybe another sale. I have another novella under consideration and I’m working on a sequel to Almost An Outlaw which features Emma and a Pinkerton agent. I also have a few other projects in various stages. Plus I have twin grandbabies, a boy and a girl, to spoil.
Where can readers find out more about you?
Readers are welcome to visit my blog at www.patricia-preston.blogspot.com. There are links to my Twitter and Facebook page on the blog. I love having visitors!
Thanks so much for being with us today.
It was great and to all the visitors today, please leave a comment for a chance to win a free copy of Almost An Outlaw in PDF format. I’ll chose a winner on Wednesday. It might be you!
Almost An Outlaw blurb:
Rancher Austin Cade rides into Liberty looking for his old comrades, the James-Younger gang. He needs their help tracking down the horse thief who’s stolen his prized mare. In town, the former gunfighter is reunited with Darcy, the first girl he ever kissed—and never forgot.
Young widow Darcy Branson owns a shop full of fashionable ladies’ attire, but continues to wear mourning black so she won’t forget her role in her husband’s death. Austin stirs a passion inside her that has long been dormant, but can Darcy learn to believe in Austin—and love—enough to let go of her tragic past?
Time is rapidly running out… As a cousin to Jesse James, Darcy has attracted unwanted attention, thanks to her rumored association with the gang. Soon Austin and Darcy are faced with confronting not only their growing desire, but danger in the form of a deadly bounty hunter…
Excerpt from Almost An Outlaw:
“I wouldn’t wait nine years on any man.” Darcy Branson spoke to Emma Nash as they stood in the fitting room of Darcy’s dress shop. The upcoming marriage of Darcy’s cousin, Jesse James, to his longtime sweetheart, Zee Mims, was the subject of speculation among those who knew about the secret wedding. Darcy thought nine years was an unreasonably long courtship.
Of course, there was a lot to be said for waiting. If she had waited that long before marrying Stephen, she might have learned the truth about her Prince Charming before it was too late.
“At least Zee isn’t going to end up an old maid like everyone thought,” Emma said.
Darcy nodded as she helped Emma try on a lovely gown of topaz silk faille. However, there were much worse things than being an old maid. Like being a vengeful wife who had gotten her husband murdered. That was, indeed, worse.
Emma smiled with excitement as she looked at her reflection in the cheval mirror. “I do love this dress,” she said. “I don’t know how I will ever repay you.”
“You owe me nothing.” Darcy smiled, happy that she could provide a pretty gown for Emma, who could not have afforded it otherwise. Some of the well-to-do old biddies in town said she was too generous toward the less fortunate. She didn’t think so. Generosity reaped its own reward. “Mister Caruthers will be completely smitten with you.”
Blushing at the mention of her beau’s name, Emma turned to Darcy. “Why don’t you wear that emerald gown you bought in Saint Louis to the wedding?”
“No.” She always wore black.
“It is time—”
“No.” It would never be time.
“Stephen has been dead for almost three years now. Long enough that no one would think ill of you if you put aside mourning colors.”
Darcy removed the tape measure that hung around her neck. She was a graduate of the San Francisco Academy for Young Ladies, where she had been taught good manners and social graces. She knew exactly what was and was not proper. She sighed. “The rules of etiquette change nothing.” They were only words in a book. “They can’t change what is inside me.” They couldn’t change what she had done. She splayed her hand over the waist of her black bodice. “Black suits me.”
The jingle of the bells attached to the front door of the shop came as a welcome diversion. She left Emma to admire herself in the mirror and went to wait on her customer. She stopped short when she saw the customer was a man. Rarely did a man enter her dress shop, only the occasional local business owner looking to buy his wife or sweetheart a gift. The tall, dark-haired man standing with his back to her as he looked at the ready-made frocks on display looked more like a gunman than a gentleman. A black duster fell from the wide span of his shoulders to his knee-high boots, and he held a center-dented black hat in his left hand. Men who dressed like him lived in the saddle. Uneasiness spread through her. The large bounty offered for her cousins, Frank and Jesse James, had brought a number of unsavory men into the town of Liberty. It was a dangerous time, especially for those connected to the outlaws. No one trusted outsiders.
The customer appeared particularly interested in the expensive emerald gown that Emma had suggested she wear to Jesse’s wedding. It was a lovely dress. One she had fallen in love with the moment she saw it in Saint Louis.
She squared her shoulders as she made her presence known. “May I help you?”