My special guest today is author Suzanne Barrett. I’ll turn you over to Suzanne since she’s done a great job of introducing herself.
I’ve been writing since 1989, and the book that got me started into thinking I’d like to do this is LaVyrle Spencer’s Hummingbird. In re-reading that well-worn paperback, I can see writing errors we try not to do today, however, I didn’t understand those things then. What stood out for me was that the book drew me in like no other. I went on to read every book Ms. Spencer published, but I liked Hummingbird the most.
As for the writing, I did the usual things: joined RWA, my local chapter, joined a critique group and attended workshops, and of course bought every writing how-to book to hit the bookshelves. Of course none of those things got me published. It was more plain hard work, studying my writing and the writing of people who did it better than me, and making changes where necessary and still remaining true to myself.
I entered contests, and worked myself up to finalist status and winner in some. Late Harvest was a Golden Heart finalist one year. That opened doors but didn’t get me a contract. I continued writing and submitting. Finally, after nine years, I sold to Kensington…and went on to sell three more books before they dropped the line.
So here I am with Turquoise Morning Press and loving the interaction with a small press and its publisher who is herself a writer. Late Harvest is my first release with TMP, however, I have five more books coming out in 2011. It promises to be an exciting year.
Now about the book:
Late Harvest was a difficult sell to New York because it’s not formulaic. Too dark, my Kensington publisher said. “We don’t like Germans,” my editor said. “We might be interested if you change those awful German names.”
I didn’t want to make those changes. Late Harvest isn’t just about wine-making, but about the late harvest wine called Eiswein–made from grapes picked after a first frost. It is, of course, a German wine and German wineries abound in the Mendocino area. So Cresthaven was born, owned by the von Daniken family from Germany’s Rheingau. When the story opens, Otto, the patriarch is bedridden by a stroke, unable to speak, and the key to the artificial method for making Eiswein lies with Glenna Ryan who fled the winery some five years earlier. Kurt, Otto’s nephew, now runs the winery and he’s determined to bring Glenna back so she can facilitate the production of this precious late harvest wine. But Glenna has secrets she cannot reveal and agrees to return by exacting a promise from Kurt: her expertise in exchange for surgery for her son.
Glenna moistened lips that had suddenly gone dry. “Do I pass inspection?” Her voice sounded a little throaty.
“You look…lovely, Glenna.” Kurt continued his perusal, one lean forefinger tracing his full lower lip.
Glenna found the movement of his hand fascinating. Her own grew moist as her mouth turned dust dry. She moistened her lips with her tongue and realized that he was staring.
Raising her eyes to his, she deliberately blanked her expression. “Why did you do it–buy this dress? I didn’t need a new gown for the ball. My blue dress–”
“Was a made over,” he interrupted gently. “I asked Mags what you were wearing. I wanted you to–” He paused, searching for a word, “–have something more personal.”
Glenna tensed. “I would have looked acceptable even in my made-over dress.” She noted the instant thinning of his mouth, and she pasted on a bright smile. “I’ve grown quite socially acceptable in recent years.”
A hardness crept into his eyes. “You were–are always acceptable, as I suspect you know. God, Glenna. Can’t we just….”
The smile left her lips. Once again she dragged her gaze upward. “Call a truce?”
“No, I–” He slapped the magazine down on the table, then stared intently into her face for what seemed an interminable moment. “Yes, why not? Just for tonight, Glenna, let us pretend we met only this last April, when you came to work for me.”
Glenna found herself mesmerized by the smoky depths of his eyes. Warm and friendly on the surface, but underneath….Underneath lay a deep hunger. She saw it, and felt it as a wave of desire shook her.
In a voice that was little more than a thready whisper she said, “Yes, I’d like that. Tonight is our first…” Her voice trailed off. She couldn’t say it.
“Our first evening together, Glenna. And California’s entire wine community will be watching.”
He made a quarter turn, offering her his arm.
Purchase Late Harvest
CONTEST: Suzanne is giving away a Kindle download of Late Harvest to one lucky commenter. Ask her a question or make a comment and you’re in the draw.
Hi Suzanne – thanks for visiting today. I have a question for you – how did you keep yourself motivated and writing during the nine years before publication? How do you keep yourself motivated now?
I don’t see the problem with German names. As you said, it’s about a German wine and winery. Changing them wouldn’t make sense.
Fantastic excerpt…I think that just because a book does not follow a formula does not mean it is not good.
I don’t think you should have to change names just because they are what they are.
First question (and thank you for asking!) On staying motivated during those nine years: I became really involved in RWA on the local and national level (ran for R6 Advisor, was chapter prez 5 times, publicist, VP, Program Director–sometimes three positions at once. I wrote every day, entered contests, and kept trying to make my work the best it could be. However, at the end of that period, just before I sold, I was truly despairing that I’d ever sell, even though the rejections were getting better.
When I heard about the new Kensington line acquiring, I telephoned the editor I knew was handling acquisitions so I could send her my manuscript with the important “Requested Material” tag. Six days later the book sold (I didn’t get “the call” but rather “the email.”)
I think I do the same thing to stay motivated now, except I’m not really involved in RWA. After 20 years, it felt like time to move on and do other things. Mostly now I write, design jewelry, teach water fitness and stay stress-free. One huge bonus now is that I don’t have to juggle all this with a full-time job as I did before. Whew! Talk about burn-out.
Andrea. That’s why Late Harvest gathered dust in my computer for a while. I could have sold to Kensington with the requested changes, but that would have made the story something that wasn’t mine. I had a two-book contract and thought if I could use something already written, I’d better be able to make deadlines. As it turned out, both story ideas came to me fairly easily and were better for the line.
It feels now that Late Harvest’s time has come and I’m so happy to have sold this book to Turquoise Morning Press. (Kim is a dream to work for, and I like that she has high standards. I’ve reviewed three of the books and found them to be excellent in terms of story and craft.)
As for the German thing: my grandfather came from Austria and I grew up knowing German was the language I’d take. I once had dreams of moving to Germany and working for Radio Free Europe. But I digress…
Savannah (love the name!): thank you for the kind comment on the excerpt. It was hard knowing what to send Shelley. As it turned out, I (or she) had to cut it down to fit.
And now for a bit of good news: my publisher has just decided to move up the publishing date of my next release…from May to Jan. 24th. WooHoo! I am so excited. In Love and War is set in Ireland with an Irish heroine. I spent a winter in County Waterford doing the research.
Hey, guys: feel free to ask any writing or book related questions. I’m here to answer them.
Congratulations on getting Late Harvest published. I’m not sure why any publisher would want you to remove the German names…anyone who knows anything about the wine business knows that German Wines are popular, world famous and naturally have German names…lol…I’m not surprised though because I know some Aussie writers who have been asked to lose the “Ausie Speak” in their books by US Publishers…I just think that they under-estimate the intelligence of the average reader…very sad situation. Good luck with your future writting and how wonderful that you have so many releases coming up in 2011.
Thank you, Maria. I certainly understand about the narrow thinking of some US publishers (with regard to Aussie speak and a few other cultural items). My publisher said (exact words) “We don’t like Germans.” So a few prejudices remain. Too, I think they are looking for more generic storylines or plot themes they feel will sell. I tell you, I am so tired of reading titles such as “The Billionaire’s Baby”, “The Sicilian’s Mistress”, “The Sheik’s Bought Bride” (I’m making these up as I go–any similarity to a real title is coincidental). What I think that does is it dehumanizes the character. I want to read about flawed characters who overcome obstacles and have to work to gain their happily ever after. And I want to feel they are real people throughout their journey.
Thanks for the good wishes on the upcoming releases. The next story is my all-time favorite. I was a Golden Heart finalist twice, but I could never sell it because it deals with the Irish Republican conflict. Another editor told me when I pitched it to her that she wouldn’t touch it with a ten-foot pole. LOL!
Sorry, my fingers betrayed me. Meant to say “it” was twice a GH finalist manuscript.
Okay, a winner has been chosen. It’s (drum roll) Maria D. Please post your contact email and if you want the file in Kindle or another ebook version.
Yeah…my email is ringpop2010(at)yahoo(dot)com.
Kindle format is fine or PDF- which ever is easier for you.