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Thursday, November 20, 2014

Guest Blog featuring Susanne Matthews

Today my guest is the wonderful author, Susanne Matthews.

Susanne will be offering two prizes to lucky winners today. A free copy of her Ebooks,  The Price of Honor and The Captain's Promise. Both are historical romance novels. To win, simply go to her Facebook page and leave a comment on the top of the post. And while you're there, if you wouldn't mind Liking her page, it would be greatly appreciated. Winners will be chosen at the end of the day. https://www.facebook.com/SLMauthor 

About the author:

Susanne Matthews was born and raised in Cornwall, Ontario, Canada. She’s always been an avid reader of all types of books, but always with a penchant for happily ever after romances. In her imagination, she traveled to foreign lands, past and present, and soared into the future. A retired educator, Susanne spends her time writing and creating adventures for her readers. She loves the ins and outs of romance, and the complex journey it takes to get from the first word to the last period of a novel. As she writes, her characters take on a life of their own, and she shares their fears and agonies on the road to self-discovery and love.

Follow Susanne on her: Website Blog Facebook page Twitter @jandsmatt

I asked Susanne some questions for my interview. I think you'll find them interesting and intriguing. Meet Susanne ...

Author: Susanne Matthews
Your latest/current work: The Price of Honor
Date: December 1, 2014
Publisher: Solstice

1. Tell us about your Latest Book/Book about to be released? Release Date? And can you give us a teaser?

The book is a historical romance set against the back drop of the early days of New France, now Canada. It will be released on Cyber Monday, December 1, 2014.
What price is a woman willing to pay to restore a man’s honor?

When her husband is falsely accused of treason and murdered, Isabelle de Caen vows to find those responsible and see justice done. Of royal descent, Isabelle is stunned when the king orders her hasty marriage to one of his favorites, a man she detests. To save herself from a fate too awful to contemplate, she disobeys the king’s edict and commits treason of her own to find the truth.

Childhood friend, Guy Poirier, an aristocrat in New France, has always loved Isabelle. When he discovers her hiding in his cabin aboard ship, he agrees to hide her from her fiancĂ© and help her clear her husband’s name. It doesn’t take them long to realize there’s more at stake here than her husband’s murder. With the fate of the colony in their hands, can Isabelle and Guy prevent a war and find love in the new world? 

Here’s a taste of The Price of Honor.

The countess looked up from her papers giving Isabelle her full attention. “Another colonial upstart. I wish the king would put an end to such nonsense. A man is born noble. It’s in the blood, as you well know considering the color of yours. I hope he’s the last of this constant stream of rabble.” She put down her quill pen and turned in the chair. “I’m annoyed with you, Isabelle. I’d hoped you’d see the wisdom in the king’s decision. I didn't expect you to be so stubborn.”
“Stubborn? In what way?”
“Your attitude towards this marriage, of course. You should be overjoyed the king has offered you to a man as rich and powerful as the chevalier. Churlishness is a quality rarely appreciated in a lady. Behaving like a boorish peasant doesn’t become you.”
“It wasn't my intention to be difficult. I sought only to honor my father as our customs dictate.” Isabelle’s battered heart wouldn't let her contain her anger any longer. She’d been raised to be polite and obedient, but this accusation was more than she could endure. “Overjoyed? That’s the last thing I am. This is the seventeenth century. France is an empire. I don’t understand why the king would treat me like an African slave who can be bought and sold like cattle. I’m the daughter of a comet. I carry the royal bloodline. That should count for something. At the very least, it should get me an audience to plead my case.”
Isabelle realized her mistake when she saw her stepmother’s face. Henriette’s fury was palpable and radiated from her. She stood quickly, knocking over her chair, moved to Isabelle’s side, and grabbed her chin painfully, twisting her face to the right and then to the left. Her fingertips would leave their imprint.
“You’ll do nothing of the sort. How naive you are. Have you learned nothing of politics? This may be the seventeenth century, but because of your royal blood, you have less rights than the slaves you described. Rebellions have been started by people with weaker claims to the throne than yours—what are you? Twelfth now? Many of those ahead of you are old. As they die, your claim to the throne improves. Among other things, your darling Pierre is to blame for your current situation. His treason cost you your freedom. The king can’t allow someone he doesn’t trust to be in your position. After what happened, it would be political suicide. I know it, the chevalier knows it, and so does the king. His majesty’s chosen a man he trusts with his life to father your children. The original plan was to slit your traitorous throat. The chevalier convinced the king to spare you, and this is how you repay his concern?”
Isabelle stared into her step-mothers cold eyes. Could Henriette be telling the truth? Had the chevalier and not the king instigated this farce? Slit her throat? She’d prefer they had to this travesty. Henriette continued talking, oblivious to the thoughts overwhelming Isabelle.
“Look at you. You’re powerless. Why you don’t have enough mettle to push my hand from your chin.” She let go of her and pushed her away with such violence Isabelle had to grab the edge of the desk to keep from falling.
“Surely, there’s another option? Why would waiting a few more months make that much difference?”
“Because of the conspiracy, you foolish girl. Think of it. A member of the royal family, albeit a distant one, conspiring to commit treason? A woman is often blamed for her husband’s crimes. The sooner that connection is erased from memory, the better. Besides, I can’t take my place at court until you’re the new Comtesse of Caen. Your husband becomes Comte de Caen and d’Angrignon the day you marry, and he’s quite anxious to assume his new title. Did you think this was all about you? While he may lust after you, there are plenty of women willing to fill his bed. Vincent offered to give you his name to spare the king any further shame, and somehow managed to convince his majesty it was all his idea in the first place. The man is brilliant. The title is his reward, the position at court, mine. It’s about power—power and politics. Nothing personal.” She laughed at what must have been the stunned look on Isabelle’s face. “Pauvre petite. You’re almost twenty-five and you have no idea how the world works. You’re the daughter of a comte with royal blood in your veins. Strange things happen at court. It’s possible your child could inherit the throne—a daughter could marry the dauphin. Resign yourself to your fate and make the best of it. This can be a wonderful opportunity. You can have everything you've ever wanted, and all you have to do is spread your legs.”
Like you? Too disgusted to even utter the insult, Isabelle walked over to the small table where, despite her trembling hand, she managed to pour herself a cup of chocolate from the silver pot, and sipped the soothing drink. Henriette’s words bothered her. Was there more at play here—a real conspiracy against the heirs? The chevalier was an ambitious man, but would he go so far as murder to see his child on the throne? Of course he would. The man is without honor.

2. What other books/short stories have you written?

I've written three romance-suspense novels: Fire Angel, In Plain Sight, and On His Watch; one paranormal-suspense-romance, Echoes of the Past; one contemporary-romance, Just For The Weekend; a set of Christmas-themed novels, Holiday Magic and The Perfect Choice; and another historical romance, The Captain’s Promise. I also co-author under the name Misty Matthews, and we have a novella, Grand Slam, and a full length novel, Coming Home, Book 1 of the Taking a Chance on Love series.

3. Are they available in e-book, print, or both?

Holiday Magic, The Perfect Choice, and The Captain’s Promise are available in e-book from Amazon only. They are also available in paperback. Grand Slam isn’t available in book form because of its length, but is available from most e-book suppliers. Echoes of the Past is available from all e-book retailers, but will not be out in paperback until January 2015. I’m not sure when Coming Home will be in paperback—most likely March 2015. The other books are available in both e-book and paperback from all major retailers.

4. Where can readers find your books?

Amazon, Barnes and Nobles, Smashwords, and of course the publisher sites. The easiest way is to visit my website http://www.mhsusannematthews.ca/ There are buy links there for all my books.

6. What do you think are the biggest challenges for the type of writing that you do?

For me, my biggest challenge is to somehow provide a story that isn't just a copy of every other genre romance. I want my books not to be cookie-cutter formula books, so I’m always looking to do something a little different. I like to bend the rules and occasionally break the mold, but that also means the books don’t fit with many publisher’s established imprint guidelines. I guess it’s the price I have to pay for being different.

7. How did you get started in writing?

When I retired from over 30 years as an educator, I decided to try my hand at doing what I’d always wanted to do. I entered Harlequin Romance’s So You Think You Can Write competition in 2012. I didn't make the cut, but the book I wrote has been sold and published, and I haven’t looked back.

8. Where and How can readers get in touch with you?

Readers can contact me through my FB author’s page. https://www.facebook.com/SLMauthor

9. So with your latest work released/or being released, what comes next? What can we expect from you in the future?

I’ve currently got a book in the editing process which will be released in May 2015. It’s called All for Love . I’m also finishing up final edits before submitting on a romance suspense series called The Chosen, book one, The Harvester is almost ready to go. I’m polishing up Hidden Assets, another romance suspense I've just finished, and I’m starting a contemporary romance called Yours, Mine, and Ours. I’m hoping to write my first YA book in the spring, and possibly do a second book to follow The Price of Honor.

10. How much of your personality and life experiences are in your writing?

If you know me, you can see me in my books. My life experiences and events that occur around me are the fodder feeding my imagination. I have strong opinions on domestic abuse and it’s a recurring theme in many of my stories. I love children especially my grandkids, and the things they say and the way they act often end up in my manuscripts. I use the names of friends and family for the first names of most of my characters.

Michelle, the main character in Echoes of the Past is based on my chosen daughter by the same name. She’s Mohawk and helped me with the Mohawk vocabulary in that book as well as in my latest one.

The Price of Honor is loosely based on one of my ancestors who came to New France as part of the Saliere-Carignan Regiment around 1660.

11. Do you have a set schedule for writing or do you just go with the flow?

I do a little of both. I try to write every day, but sometimes life interferes. If I’m on a roll with an idea, nothing will move me until I get it down. If I’m in the editing phase, then I will work in chunks—4-6 hours until it’s done.

12. What is your routine once you start writing a book?

As weird as it may sound, I get a title in mind, and start writing. I know I should write a synopsis and have a beat sheet, and character sketch and all that done, but they don’t work for me. I sit at the computer and just let the ideas come. I write and then edit and write again until it’s done and then go over everything once more before I’m satisfied and send it out to a publisher.

13. What about you in general? What is it that makes you tick? Makes you you? Things you like to do and what prompted you into writing?

I think most people would agree that I’m an introvert. I enjoy my own company and that of my family and close friends. That being said, I spent more than 30 years as a teacher trying to instill my love of learning and literature into the minds of teens. I must have done an adequate job because many of my former students have become teachers.

I've been married to the same man for 43 years and we have 3 children and 5 grandchildren. I love to travel and, in the summer, I like to garden and go camping. I enjoy fine dining, good wine, and romantic getaways. If I go on holiday, you’ll find me on the tours. I want to learn everything I can about a place and I’m lucky my husband feels the same way. I love to research the facts I use in my books and when you read my work, I hope you learn something new.

After I retired from teaching, the need to do something, stay busy, is probably what give me the push to begin my writing career.

14. Among your own books, have you a favorite book? Favorite Hero or Heroine?

This is without a doubt the most difficult question to answer. I think of my books and my characters as my children. In a way, I give birth to them in my imagination. I can’t pick one over the other. I can tell you that I love them all and seeing them in print, reading the reviews and hearing people tell me how much they enjoyed reading my work is a huge thrill. Each of my characters embody traits from those who matter most to me.

There’s a little bit of my daughter in Alexis, Misty, and Nikki, characters who are also mothers and put their kids first. The sarcastic, funny best friend in Just For The Weekend was based on my sister. The computer geek in On His Watch is a lot like my eldest son who designed and maintains my website. The researcher in Echoes of the Past has many traits found in my second son. My hero Jake in Fire Angel, my first published novel, has a lot of my husband in him. The twins in Holiday Magic and The Perfect Choice reflect the characteristics I see in my younger grand-daughters. The couple in The Harvester are similar in temperament to my lifelong best friends, and MJ, the heroine in my new contemporary romance embodies what I love best about my sister-in-law. How can I possibly pick favorites?

15. What kind of research do you when writing one of your works?

Research is the backbone of my novels. Regardless of the genre, I do extensive research on the area. In The Price of Honor, Caen, the French location where the story starts, was thoroughly researched as were the locations within the area. The governor’s house was used and severally damaged during World War II, but it is being restored to its former glory, including the fact that it once housed William the Conqueror before the Battle of Hastings.

As a Canadian history buff, I knew much of the information about New France, and what life was like there. I researched conditions at sea, used literary license to make Isabelle’s trek across the sea bearable, but the other information is all based on customs at the time and historical records. The threat to the colony existed, but little is known about it, so I was able to improvise. The Mohawk language in the story is authentic as are all the references to native customs. I have spent considerable time in Quebec City and Montreal, which was Ville-Marie.

In the case of my romance-suspense novels, I research the crime on which I plan to base the novel. Fire Angel required extensive study of arson and arsonists as well as things like superglue and dancing gummy bears. (You’ll have to read the book to find out about that). For The Harvester and Echoes of the Past, there was a lot of research on drugs and drug labs. In The Captain’s Promise, I had to learn about Humpback whales and sea battles as well as the origins of the Merchant Marine. In Just for the Weekend and Coming Home, I did a lot of research on the Grand Canyon. I try to visit as many of the places where I set my novels as I can. In Plain Sight is located partially in the area where we camp. I've traveled that highway several times.

16. Do you ever ask friends/family for advice or ideas to go into your works?
I asked my sister, who’s a nurse, for advice about the body dump in Echoes of the Past. I have an online group of writing friends who often help me over rough spots. As well, I have a friend who designs covers when that option is mine. Her company is called Classy Designs and she’s provided the covers for The Captain’s Promise, Holiday Magic, The Perfect Choice, and The Price of Honor.

17. Have you ever experienced Writer's Block? If so how did you work through it?

I don’t get it often, but when I do, I either set the work aside or do something else, or I go and do housework. That usually kick-starts my muse again.

18. Who are some of your favorite authors to read?

Nora Roberts, Kathy Reichs, Dan Brown, Daphne Du Maurier, and Agatha Christy are among the writers I aspire to emulate. I also enjoyed JK Rowling’s Harry Potter series and JRR Tolkien’s work.

19. Anything else you'd like to tell our readers?

Follow your dreams. They may not happen today or even tomorrow, but they definitely won’t happen if you give up on them and don’t persevere.

I would like to thank Susanne for spending some time with us and giving us a sneak peak into her latest books. What a better holiday gift than a good read! Available on Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble and  http://www.mhsusannematthews.ca

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