Tuesday, February 24, 2009
Wednesday Promo - Barbara Dickson
Today I'm pleased to showcase Barbara Dickson, a fellow Hearts Through History RWA chapter mate,and her book Mountains for Maddi.
Barbara Dickson, diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1992, refused to succumb to illness without a fearless fight. Forced to retire from her career as an IT software analyst, she quickly re-discovered her love of writing. Now a multi-published inspirational author and public speaker, Barbara strives to instill hope in her audiences, especially when life has other plans. Barbara’s determined to touch the world, one heart at a time.
What attracted you to writing romance?
I read my first romance novel – or at least the first one that left any lasting impression – when I was about twelve years old. An elderly woman in my church gave me a copy of “Crimson Roses,” an inspirational romance written way back in 1928 by Grace Livingston Hill. The age of the woman and the date of the book’s publication should have set off alarm bells, warning that perhaps the book was not quite groovy enough for this early 70’s girl. But I was hooked from the opening paragraph. Ms. Hill wrote during the early decades of the twentieth century when morality, integrity, and solid life principles were part of the tapestry of society, when a man’s word was his bond, and when a gentle kiss meant a life-long commitment.
Then, about 10 years ago, a diary came into my possession written by an English gentleman who was born in 1769. 1769! I was astounded that such a real life account had survived some 230 years. I was fascinated with David Cragg’s story. He was a fine, upstanding family man who, over the course of his life, lost everything – his land, his wealth, his beloved wife, and at times his faith, through no fault of his own. When he was forced to put his daughters to work in cotton mills to barely earn enough money to feed the family, he packed up what was left of his meagre possessions and emigrated to Upper Canada in 1833, bringing his eight children with him. His diary is rife with extraordinary events, from living through the Napoleonic wars, to the Industrial Revolution, to a storm-tossed voyage across the April Atlantic, to founding the town of Greenbank, Ontario. But, as interesting as all these events were, David’s incredible and moving love story with his dear Molly touched me the most. Sixteen years his junior, a mere maid in his home, and a Methodist (David was a Quaker,) their courtship was fraught with family angst and fury. But their love was true blue, a ‘til death do us part’ love, and is absolutely gripping reading.
I felt compelled to write David and Molly’s story but I didn’t know where to start. After two years of research at the Toronto Archives, I headed to my alma mater, Ryerson University here in Toronto, to take a fiction writing course – in romance, of course. Dawn Stewardson, our instructor, was a prolific Harlequin writer. We were given several assignments, culminating in the first chapter of a romance novel. I didn’t feel ready to write David and Molly’s story yet, so I started a story that had been in the back of my mind for many years. It was there that “Mountains for Maddi” was born.
David and Molly’s story still waits to be written – a 2009 New Year’s resolution!
Which of your character's shoes would you step into for a day and why?
I’ve written six books and each character is special to me, but if I could, I’d love to step into the shoes of Kelly Greene, my heroine in “Rock-a-Bye Baby” just for a day. A nurse at Barrington Memorial Hospital in Stonebridge Cove, she is shocked when a lost love shows up in ER, almost drowned. She doesn’t know why Tristan MacFayden is in Stonebridge Cove, or how he ended up in the Pembrooke River, but it really doesn’t matter. What matters is he’s the guy she loved as a teenager growing up in Toronto.
What makes the story unique is that Kelly has never met Tristan. Their friendship was nurtured via long-distance telephone calls, from him to her, while he toured the world as a young, yet legendary rock star. Despite living on different continents, overcoming a language barrier, and contending with Tristan’s band’s crazy tour schedule, they managed to carve out a fragile, tender friendship. He counted on her then as a listening ear and a shoulder to lean on. He’s counting on her now as he clings to life, even though he doesn’t realize who she is.
This story is unique for another reason, too. The backstory is based on actual events. I lived Kelly’s backstory. There’s a part of me that would love to enjoy a day as Kelly Greene, delighting in crazy butterflies, and of finally meeting the young man who made her heart flip-flop as a sixteen year old girl. From his deep brown eyes, to his exquisite smile, to his disarming, thick brogue, he’s still the same guy she longed for so many years ago. There’s been a lot of life crammed into their lives since those heady days. Will he remember her? Could he still care a little? I’d love to find out...
“Rock-a-Bye Baby” is a book for any woman with memories of loving a teen idol; whether it was Donny Osmond, David Cassidy, the Bay City Rollers or the Backstreet Boys—they were men who were responsible for countless head-over-heels, scream your head off, I’ll love you forever crushes.
How many hours a day do you spend on writing-what is your typical day like?
My writing day is split up into two chunks – a time for writing and another for e-mail/business. I try to write for a couple of hours every morning, from about 9:30 to 11:30. Then I have lunch and rest. I have multiple sclerosis, so fatigue is a big issue, along with stamina and cognitive clarity. After resting for a few hours, I’m usually able to do some light housework, make supper, and spend time with my family. I try to spend an hour or two in the evenings answering e-mail. And that’s it. I can’t do anymore. I marvel at women who work full-time and write as well. It’s amazing. I can’t do it. I have enough trouble making it through some days, not writing at all.
Blurb for “Mountains for Maddi”:
Maddi Madigan, while on vacation, careens into Dr. Gregory Connor on a snowy ski slope. Entangled with Greg and buried in snow, her heart skitters, almost as far as her ski poles.
She soaks up the magnificent Rocky Mountain atmosphere over the next few days while avoiding an entanglement of another kind—romance. She bears the scars from a broken engagement, and is convinced men and a diagnosis of multiple sclerosis don’t mix; at least that’s what her head tells her. Too bad her heart has other plans.
Greg, utterly smitten, pursues Maddi the same way he works—hard. When she lingers just beyond his romantic grasp, he rallies with dogged determination.
Can Maddi make it through the week without her heart ending up in a puddle of slush at Greg’s feet? How hard should she try? Could Greg truly offer hope for a Happily Ever After?
Greg reached Maddi, out of breath. “You’re running away from the ball and it’s not even midnight.”
Maddi watched as he gulped another breath and eyed her discarded shoe. “You fled so fast you dropped your slipper.”
Her heart warmed to the gentleness she detected in his voice. She smiled. “I didn’t realize you were looking for me.”
“Yes, I was looking for you,” he chastised. “The judges are about to announce the auction winners, and you’re ditching the party. Who knows—you may have won the bid for the elegant pearl-studded milk decanter.” He smiled and those exquisite pools of blue that he dared to call eyes, locked with hers.
“I’m a little tired.”
“Tired? But the clock hasn’t struck twelve yet. And I don’t see any pumpkins,” he teased. He gathered her hands. The strength and warmth of his clasp made her catch her breath, in pleasure and panic. Would he notice the tremor?
“Come back with me,” he asked, holding her gaze. “Please?”
Who could say no to those eyes? They would be her complete undoing if she didn’t muster every scrap of internal fortitude she could find. She met his gaze, and felt heat escape into her cheeks.
The elevator dinged its arrival and the doors opened. Greg looked at the open elevator and then back at Maddi. He searched her face.
She struggled. She needed to tell him that she should head upstairs, that there was no hope for anything between them beyond polite friendship.
But something, or Someone, kept the words from forming.
“All right,” she managed, her voice just above a whisper. She knew her face had deepened in color.
“That’s my girl,” he murmured. He released her hands and knelt before her.
“What are you doing?”
“Your slipper, my lady.” He grasped her foot to slide on her pump.
Her hands flailed out to steady herself, grabbing his hair for support. The softness of his curls startled her.
It felt as if time had stopped. He looked up from where he was kneeling and she met his eyes.
She didn’t want to let go of his hair for fear of falling, but more so, she didn’t want to let go for fear of never touching him in such a loving way again.
Thank you so much for the opportunity to answer your questions. And to everyone who reads Paty’s blog, may I wish you peace, love, joy, good writing, and great success!
Barbara's books can be purchased at:her website www.barbaradickson.ca or through her publisher www.mmpubs.com or through www.amazon.com