Friday, 7 March 2014

Interview + Guest Post + Giveaway - Hidden Mountain Series by Jacqueline Rhoades

Book One: Preston's Mill

Discover Hidden Mountain…
When her humiliating marriage ends, Meg Hanson retreats to Preston's Mill, to lick her wounds.

Coming from wealth and privilege, Meg isn’t sure what to make of small town living, but it doesn’t take long to become attached to the people, with their blunt honesty and strange speech or to reluctantly fall for the boy who kissed her under the apple tree when she was only ten. He’s grown into an intriguing man with problems of his own.

Artist JT Preston is burdened with family sins that prevent him from seeking the life he’s always envied and longed for.

When a coal company comes to town, the two find themselves embroiled in a battle between neighbors. Greed rears its head, people are hurt and lives are endangered, Meg’s most of all.

Book Two: Changing Times

Return to Hidden Mountain…
Hard living Lorelei Stewart has always accepted her role as the town tramp's daughter and has earned her fast and loose reputation, but times change. Pregnant and overburdened with responsibility, Lorelei's given up men and hopes to provide her baby with what she lacked as a girl; a decent home and a loving mother. The old bootlegger, Rollie Roper, needs a caretaker and has room for Lorelei and her coming child; a fair exchange.

Everything's almost perfect until Rollie's long lost nephew, Cob Thornton, turns up with money and plans of his own and those plans don't include the woman living in his house, yet something about Lorelei fascinates him. He begins to see past the cold armor she wears and discovers a vulnerable and loving woman within. Now all he has to do is convince the pessimistic Lorelei that sometimes, Changing Times can be a blessing in disguise.

 Author Bio:

Name: Jacqueline Rhoades
Bio: A New Englander by birth and an Ohioan by choice, Jacqueline, known as Jackie by her friends, makes her home in a small, rural town with one lovable husband, one spoiled dog and one disinterested cat. (The adjectives are often interchangeable). An avid reader from a very early age, Jackie has an eclectic taste for books and therefore has trouble naming a favorite genre or author, though she does admit that for pure personal fantasy and 'take-me-away' books, you just can't beat a good romance.
Jackie believes in the beauty of all women and thinks most women don't see themselves as they should (herself included). She tries to make the women in her books reflect the best of 'average' in a variety of shapes, sizes, personalities and backgrounds, and each is beautiful in her own way. Some of her heroes are movie star handsome, while others are not. All her characters are beautiful in the eyes of their lovers and that, to Jackie, is the most beautiful of all. 


6 Ways to Make Your Characters Believable

All my ideas for stories begin with people, not characters. People. They are as real to me as my next door neighbor and nothing makes me prouder than to have a reader say “I felt like I knew these people.” You know them, too. You don’t have to copy an entire persona, but you can borrow bits and pieces from the world around you and create a fictional someone who feels real. Here are a few things I’ve learned about writing realistic characters. 

1. Listen. 
Listen to the people around you. How do you know it’s Jane on the phone and not Sally? Does your Great Aunt Edna sound the same as the fifteen year old who lives next door? Of course not. It’s not only sound that distinguishes our voices from each other. It’s the patterns of speech, the choice of words and how we use them. The teenager who lives in the Bronx won’t sound a bit like his counterpart in San Diego, nor does someone born and raised in Minnesota sound like someone from Alabama.
Eavesdrop on conversations. Listen to parents talk to their children and children talking to each other. Women don’t talk like men and men don’t talk like boys and while we may write in complete sentences, we rarely speak in them. If it’s between the quotes, it doesn’t have to be grammatically correct and if it is, your characters will sound, well, like characters rather than people. That’s not to say you can’t have a character who speaks that way, but that should be a distinguishing feature of that character alone.
We also don’t stare at each other as we speak. We drink coffee, wipe the counter, flip through a magazine, play with the straw wrapper. Get the picture? Don’t let your characters converse in a vacuum. 

2. Watch. 
Real people chew on their nails, tap their toes, twirl their hair when they’re nervous, crack their knuckles or snort when they laugh. What about the woman who lifts her chin and dramatically blows a stream of smoke out into the room? The guy who sucks in his gut every time a pretty girl walks by? These mannerisms are part of who we are. You’re characters should have them, too.
If you’re unfamiliar with the term ‘body language’, do a little research. The way we hold our bodies, cross our legs, sit in chairs or move our eyes tells a lot about how we feel. 

3. Express emotion without words. 
My kids will tell you that as long as I’m yelling, you’re safe. It’s when I stop yelling and get stonily quiet that you’re in big trouble. Don’t tell, show. You’re heroine might tell the hero she can’t have children, but when her body goes still and her eyes mist at the sight of kids on the playground, you’ve told the reader how much that hurts. When that tough guy helps an old lady with her groceries, we know he’s not so tough. It’s the little things people do that tell us who they are. 

4. Save some of it for later. 
 Did you ever sit next to a stranger at a party who promptly tells you their life story with emphasis on the bad parts? Do you groan inwardly and look for an excuse to move away? You’re characters begin as strangers to your readers. She may be recently divorced, but don’t reveal her every hurt and fear immediately. Let the reader get to know her first. That badass biker? Give the reader time before you reveal he’s the father of two pretty cool teenagers. Reveal the mysteries of your characters the same way you should reveal yourself – a little at a time. 

5. Reveal Imperfections. 
Nobody’s perfect and let’s be honest; the closer someone comes to perfection, the less we like them. Maybe your heroine can’t cook. Maybe she looks perfect, but on the way to the dinner party of the century, she realizes she’s wearing two different shoes. Get the reader to say, ‘Oh yeah, I get it. Been there done that.’ Maybe your hero has a teenaged daughter he has no clue how to deal with. Or maybe that seemingly perfect hero has no idea how to change the tire on his expensive car. Too perfect can be boring and flaws can be endearing. 

6. Don’t overdo it. 
Once these speech patterns or mannerisms or character flaws are revealed, don’t hammer them to death. She doesn’t have to chew her thumb every time she speaks. He doesn’t have to stop at every corner to help the blind man cross the street. She doesn’t have to say “Really?” every time someone does something she thinks is foolish, unless of course, you want her to be annoying. In real life, we notice little character quirks at first and then they fade into part of the background. Writing should be the same.

When did you start writing?
I wrote a book about thirty years ago which will remain in the box under my bed until I die! After that, real life got in the way and it wasn’t until six years ago that I started writing in earnest. I published Guardian’s Grace in the spring of 2012, though I wrote it in 2009 and haven’t stopped writing since. One book led to another and now I write every day. 

What makes you want to write?
I have people shouting in my head. I suppose a psychiatrist could have a field day with that, but it’s true. They’re characters waiting for their stories to be told. I’ve always been a daydreamer and I’ve been making up stories in my head since I was a kid. Now I have the skills and wisdom to write them down. 

Do you ever get writer's block and what do you do to get over it? 

I do get a kind of writer’s block, but I’m not sure it’s the same as I’ve heard other’s suffer from. I’ve learned over time that when I can’t put words on a page, it’s my subconscious (or those screaming characters in my head!) telling me I’m going in the wrong direction with the story or I’m trying to force my character to action that’s inconsistent with who they are. It’s like they refuse to do what I want them to do and so far they’ve been right. It usually takes me a day or two to figure this out, but once I do, the story comes back to life. 

 Do you have a special way of going about writing? 

Characters always come first. I hear my heroine. I know who she is, where she comes from, what she was like as a child. Then the hero shows up. I know this sounds strange, but when I first began Guardian’s Faith, I had another type of hero in mind for her, but this Lucien ad Toussaint showed up in my head and started shouting at me. He wasn’t anything like the guy I had in mind and yet he turned out to be the perfect mate for Faith.
Setting comes next. If I can clearly see the setting in my mind, I can set my characters in motion. Preston’s Mill is a case in point. I can see that town as clearly as the one I live in; the houses, the businesses, the rivers and streams. I know the path leading to Big Rock because I’ve walked it in my mind.
Plot, to my shame, comes last. I’ve tried plotting ahead of time, but my characters always screw up my best laid plans. It’s best to let them tell me what’s happening when they’re ready. 

 What are your hobbies? 

Reading is a life-long past-time, though for me, it can become an obsession rather than a hobby. Hobby status would be given to gardening. I love puttering around my yard with my husband. When my kids were all home, gardening was a vegetable garden for fresh veggies and canning to save money. (I know. I should say for healthy eating, but it would be a lie) It was one more chore to
add to the list. Now I garden for relaxation and pleasure and canning is something I enjoy. 

How did you choose the character names for the Hidden Mountain Series? 

For Preston’s Mill, I liked Meg because it sounds solid and practical, something the character didn’t see in herself. JT was a name I could play with. J is for John, his father’s name and one he hated. He paints as J. Thomas Preston. Lorelei sounded like a name her mother would think of as exotic and Cob, well, it turns out that was a nickname because this huge muscular man was once short and round like a little cob horse! 

Who is your favorite character in the Hidden Mountain Series?

That would have to be Annie, a woman in her eighties that embodies mountain wisdom and strength. She’s a tough old bird with an abiding faith and a practical approach to life. There’s nothing soft or cuddly or cute about Annie and yet she has this fierce love for those around her. I adore her and want to be her when I grow up. 

Where did you get the idea for the Hidden Mountain Series? 

I love the Appalachian Mountains and the history of the region and its people fascinates me. Movies and television tend to portray these folks as dumb hillbillies and yes, they’re there, but they aren’t the majority. These are hard-working people who have survived a history of hard times and worse luck. It’s inevitable, but a shame, that their colorful speech is being lost under the onslaught of television and technological influences. I wanted my readers to see and hear what I do. Simple, plainspoken people who want the same thing everyone else does. They’re not all good, but they’re not all stupid either.
A good portion of Appalachia is economically depressed. I got the idea of a town being reborn. Meg and JT’s story is the beginning of that rebirth. 

What was your favourite part of writing the Hidden Mountain Series? 

Definitely the secondary characters. They’re quirky and funny and they tell it like it is. They’re not impressed with money or fancy clothes and I have fun writing the conversations where everyone is talking at once and not necessarily about the same subject!

Are you planning to write more books in the Hidden Mountain Series? 

Oh, yes! Olivia’s story is next and then there’s the one about the New York sculptor who inherits a rundown house and motor court and find a young woman hiding out in one of the cabins with three kids. New people are moving in and love is in the air for a few old timers, too. There are dozens of stories up there just waiting to be told. 

Do you have any works in progress? 

I’m currently working on the latest addition to my paranormal wolver series. It’s called Wolver’s Gold and takes place in an Old West tourist town run by a pack who live like it’s 1880! The fireworks begin when a new Sheriff comes to town. 

What are you currently reading? 

Right now it’s ‘Laiden’s Daughter’, a historical romance by Suzan Tisdale. Next up is Jane Yellowrock in ‘Black Arts’, by Faith Hunter which is urban fantasy at its best. 

What is your favorite book? 

This is a tough one to answer because I have read, literally, over ten thousand books in a wide variety of genre’s. My favorite Romance would be Kathleen E. Woodiwiss’ ‘The Wolf and the Dove’. Catherine Marshall’s ‘Christy’ is a book I’ve probably read twenty times. R.F Delderfield’s ‘To Serve Them All My Days’, Rumer Godden’s ‘In This House of Brede’… the list goes on and on.
Now, do you want the one that makes me cry every daggone time I read it? (I read it every year to my kids and I was a school librarian so I’ve probably read it 50 times) – The Best Christmas Pageant Ever. Every time they drag that ham up the aisle of the church and Imogene hugs that doll to her chest, I sob. I’m sniffling just thinking about it! 

Who is your favorite author? 

I don’t have one. Every time I write a name, I say, “Oh, wait! What about…?” There are just too many authors in in too many genres that can’t be compared. 

Quick-fire questions:

Chocolate or ice cream? Chocolate 
Paperback or ebook? ebook 
Dogs or cats? Both, I have one of each 
Go out or stay in? Stay in 
Summer or winter? Spring!! 

Two winners - each will receive one ebook from the Hidden Mountain Series.

Open internationally.