Sunday, February 19, 2017
I’m thrilled to welcome Ruth Kaufman to my blog this week.
RW: Tell us about yourself, your family, where you live.
RK: I live in Chicago, not far from Lincoln Park Zoo and Lake Michigan. I’m also an actor and voiceover talent. On any given day, I could be auditioning in person or from home, doing an on-camera and/or VO job, writing, or working on releasing or marketing my books. I have a TV commercial running, do a lot of e-learning narration and will soon film a recurring role in a web series. If anyone is interested in that career, more info is at www.ruthtalks.com.
RW: How much of your personality and life experiences are in your writing?
RK: It depends on the book and the characters. I make my medievals as historically accurate as I can, so I endeavor to see the world through those characters’ eyes in their time period. I wrote two contemporary humorous women’s fiction novels (hwf) that are perhaps and perhaps not somewhat informed by many years working in corporate America, my pursuit of acting, and (see below) dating after 40. As they say: “Only my hairdresser knows for sure!”
RW: What kind of research do you do for a book?
RK: That depends, too. For my first medieval, I actually visited Castle Rising in England, where the heroine lives. For my second, in which the heroine is a stained-glass painter, I jumped through a lot of hoops to track down a key book available only at the Art Institute of Chicago. My third book features a bride tournament. I researched the rules and procedures for jousting-type tournaments, but adapted them to what I thought they’d be if women competed for a man’s hand in marriage. I set my hwfs and also part of a time travel in Chicago to make it easier for me to see and know where they are as the characters makes their way about town.
RW: Tell us about your latest book. What motivated the story? Where did the idea come from?
RK: My most recent novel-length release, My Once & Future Love, is a medieval Arthurian paranormal. The opening scene of a wounded man fleeing his enemies popped into my head. Then I had to figure out who he was, who was after him, who might help him, etc. He had a few secrets, and I had to figure out what those were.
RW: Can you describe the funniest thing that ever happened to you?
RK: How much time do you have? I’d say online dating in general. If you’re in a relationship or off the market, you probably can’t imagine what it’s like out there. I tell stories at live lit events about my experiences, so at least something good comes out of them. At the last show, the audience was so incredulous and laughed so hard I ran out of time before the big finish. Unfortunately for me, every word is true....
RW: City life or country life? E-Book or paperback? Zebras or elephants?
RK: City! I love going to the theatre and checking out some of the many amazing restaurants in Chicago. I need to go a lot of places for my acting career, so it’s great to have public transportation because I can learn lines/read, etc. on the bus or train. Both e-books and paperbacks have their purposes. I read e-books when I’m out and about so I don’t have to add the weight of a paperback to my bag. I like paperbacks at home, because even advancements in e-page turning aren’t quite as satisfying as an actual book.
RW: What can we expect from you in the future?
RK: I’m planning to release those two hwfs (see above), one in the spring and one in the summer. I’m working with a cover designer on both covers. And perhaps I’ll release that time travel in the fall. On the other hand, discoverability is such a challenge that I don’t know if I’ll continue beyond this year.
RW: Which comes first, the story, the characters, or the setting?
RK: The first scene, which has elements of all three, almost always comes first. An image just pops into my head. For At His Command, I saw a woman collapsed on a horse that was plodding over a hill in a forest. Then I “what if,” or ask questions to expand upon what I already know. Who would see her, and what would they do? If someone was following her, who would that be and why? Who is she, where was she going and why?
I’ve had a lot of improv training (and give workshops for authors). I think that helps with this approach. In an improv scene, once something has been established, you’re not supposed to negate it. Rather, you justify and heighten it. So if you say, “I’m so glad I’m your sister,” I can’t say, “No, I’m not, I’m your boss.” I can say, “And I’m glad you’re the little sister so I can boss you around.”
RW: Are you in control of your characters or do they control you?
RK: I’m a pantser (write from the seat of my pants), not a plotter who outlines in advance. So I want them to take control and let me see through their eyes. I think if I control too much, it might sound like author intrusion...something I want to say vs. what the character wants to say. I think my acting background and the experience of portraying other characters in a variety of settings helps with motivation in particular.
RW: I’m always ready for (fill in the blank).
RK: Peanut butter and chocolate ice cream. Watching “my” TV shows. I really enjoyed No Tomorrow, adore The Good Place and Crazy Ex-Girlfriend (and wish I could be them), and confess that on many Monday nights my neighbor and I will probably be watching The Bachelor. Dance Moms, anyone?
RW: Thanks so much for joining me, Ruth. One of these days I’ll have to get downtown so we can get together. Maybe I can catch a ride with the kids next time they take the great-granddaughter to the zoo. Let me know when you’re going to be at a convention. I’d love to take one of your improv classes. And now I’m going to have to go look up your commercial!
At His Command
King Henry VI sends Sir Nicholas Gray to protect the recently widowed Lady Amice Winfield from undesirable suitors. Though Nicholas intrigues her, she yearns to run Castle Rising without a man’s control.
Nicholas doesn’t want the responsibility of marriage, but can’t deny he’s attracted to Amice. And he’s surprised to finally find in Castle Rising a place he feels at home. A kiss sparks desire neither can ignore, yet serving opposing factions seeking to govern England threatens to pull them apart.
At court, the king and queen reject Amice’s pleas and command her to wed a highly-ranked lord who’ll provide connections and coin for the king’s depleted coffers that Nicholas cannot. How can she follow the king’s command when she’s a scribe for his rival? How can she marry another man when she’s falling in love with Nicholas?
Ruth Kaufman is the author of My Once and Future Love and the Wars of the Roses Brides trilogy, AT HIS COMMAND, FOLLOW YOUR HEART and THE BRIDE TOURNAMENT. Accolades include 2016 Booksellers’ Best Historical and Best First Book award winner and Romance Writers of America® Golden Heart® winner.
An actor and storyteller with an M.S. and J.D, Ruth has had roles in independent features, web series, pilots, national TV commercials, and hundreds of voiceover projects. She enjoys chocolate peanut butter milkshakes and singing in a symphony chorus. Learn more at www.ruthkaufman.com and www.ruthtalks.com.
Sir Nicholas Grey’s scout leaned forward in his saddle, holding up two fingers to let the others know two horses approached. Nicholas heard only the slight jangling of harnesses blended with wind rattling through the trees, but relied on his scout’s uncanny ability to hear what no one else could.
He and his eight men sat alert, deep enough in the forest to avoid being seen while maintaining a clear view of the road through leafless branches. Nine armed men could frighten travelers. ’Twas best to let them pass.
Each man watched, each horse sinking deeper into chilling mire as a mud-covered, black palfrey plodded over the rise in the road, its long mane whipping in the frigid winds.
“No rider,” Martin, the scout, murmured.
“Look again,” Nicholas replied. At first, he too had thought the horse was riderless. Now he could see a woman collapsed on the animal’s back. Her dark hair draped down its flank, mingling with the horse’s mane. The palfrey placed each step as if trying not to jostle its burden.
Another horse, this one a brown rouncey ridden by a thin, balding man, galloped after the palfrey. A look of triumph brightened the man’s face as he spotted the horse ahead of him. He bent forward, extending his hand. Fingers like talons grasped the woman’s tangled hair.
“Mine!” he cried.
Amice Winfield jerked awake. Agony forced her head back, allowing her to see the man who gripped her hair as though he’d perish if he let go.
She screamed. Arrows of fear pierced her as she clawed at his fingers. Her horse bolted, leaving her dangling from Harry’s hand by a small clump of hair. The long strands held for a few seconds, then tore from her head.
Pain seared her scalp. She dropped into a puddle, stunned by her fall and her stinging head, Amice could only stare at her tormentor while freezing water soaked her clothes. How she hated him. How she regretted her desperate flight from home. But what other choice did she have?
Harry gaped at the dark tresses hanging from his hand. He threw them to the ground as she struggled to rise. Panic gripped her as his hostile glare changed to a slow, confident smile.
“There’s nowhere to run. I’ll catch you if it’s the last thing I do,” he vowed. He leapt off his horse.
Amice tugged her sodden skirts, trying to haul them out of the puddle. Where was her mount? Too far away to reach without being caught, weighted down as she was. Sprays of water flew as she heaved her skirts over her arm. Heart racing, she ran for the trees. A branch snagged her. With a cry of frustration, she pulled the wet wool until it wrenched free.
Ignoring twigs tearing at her skin and icy mud that sucked away one of her shoes, she forged ahead. She gasped for air as she plunged into a tiny clearing, then came to an abrupt halt at the sight of a group of mounted men. Slimy hair slapped her face and clung to her cheek.
Panting, cold air stinging her throat, she sought a path to escape the strangers. Alarm coursed through her. She focused on the man at the head of the group. Anxiety and uncertainty warred within her though she sensed an almost tangible power emanating from him. The wind tossed his chin-length black hair as he stared down with a stern expression.
Will he help me? Am I better off with him or...? Before Amice could decide, branches snapped behind her. Harry ran into the clearing. Instinctively she moved closer to the commanding stranger.
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Sunday, February 12, 2017
RW: What's your story/back story? Why would someone come up with a story about YOU?
AP: Well, I’m a prisoner here at Moon Base Alpha. I’m sending this by burst in hopes that it will not be detected at either end of the transmission. Captain Andrews is a pretty nice guy, but he’s still technically our warden. And if any of Freezeland’s people see this, we’ll all be in trouble.
I’m no one special. I was a wife and mother working in an accounting firm as an administrative assistant in the Bay Area when “President” Freezeland trashed the Constitution, and I went to the protest with my husband, Paul. I guess we took it way too lightly, because we left our baby, Bobby with my mom and just went. We figured we’d maybe get arrested, spend a night in jail and be home in a week. Then the troops started shooting and they killed Paul and Jake Johnsrud saved my life and now we’re here on the Moon. Jake is a miner and I’m a… a… Well, I’m here for the men. [Ed. Note. Tears glisten in Annie’s eyes.]
RW: Can you tell us about your hero?
AP: I don’t really have a hero, unless you mean Jake. He saved Crystal’s life and mine. When the shooting started, everyone tried to run, and he threw himself on top of us. But my hero? Oh, no! He’s just a friend. We’ve never even kissed, let alone… He’s not one of my clients, either. Who told you I liked him? No. Not at all. I still love Paul and I always will. I mean, he’s funny and sweet and he can even cheer me up when I miss my son, Bobby. But no. I wouldn’t call him my hero. Although I’ve noticed that he hasn’t used the Conjugal Cubes at all since he’s been up here. Not with me or my friend Crystal or anyone.
RW: What problems do you have to face and overcome in your life?
AP: You mean aside from being indentured to the Freezeland Mining Corp. for ten years and not making much headway in paying off my indentures because they charge us room and board and even for the air we breathe? Or having to… to… do the things I do with the men?
Actually, it’s been awhile since I’ve vomited with a client, but I still keep a bowl handy. I can almost look the men in the eye the next day, but I still blush. If Crystal hadn’t taught me how to put myself in a trance before I enter the Cube, I’d probably would still be vomiting on the guys.
RW: Do you expect your hero to help or is he the problem?
AP: Well, there’s not a whole lot Jake can do about us being stuck here on this God-forsaken rock. He’s just as much a prisoner as I am. He’s indentured to the FMC as a miner, and they charge him for room, board, and air, too. And it’s not like we can escape from here. They dropped us off and took the shuttle back to Earth. We’re all stuck here—even the Navy crew who run the nuclear reactor and the Masters at Arms who guard us. Although, why they bothered with MAAs is beyond me. I guess they’re here to protect the nukes. Like we’d attack the guys who keep the lights on and maintain the oxygen recycling equipment. But like I said, he does cheer me up at times.
RW: During what time period does your story take place?
AP: It’s 2051.
RW: How are you coping with the conflict in your life?
AP: I keep going for Bobby. If it weren’t for him, I would never have signed the contract with FMC. Someday, I’ll figure out a way to pay off my contract and get back to Earth and find my son, no matter what Jake says about how weak I’ll be in Earth’s gravity.
RW: Bubble baths or steamy showers? Ocean or mountains? Puppies or kittens? Chocolate or caramel?
AP: Water’s rationed up here. I’d love a real bath. Or an actual shower. We have mountains up here. In fact, we’re planning to move into Mt. Aragaeus soon. But the only way I get to see oceans is if I go outside in a pressure suit and look at the Earth. They’re so far away. I miss my dog, Peaches, but I love kittens, too. Chocolate and caramel, but we don’t have either up here.
RW: If money were not an object, where would you most like to live?
AP: I just wanna go home.
RW: What song would best describe your life?
AP: “Hotel California.” “You can check out but you can never leave.” It’s a really old song my great-grandma liked.
RW: Are you in control of your author or does she control you?
AP: I was a background character in Rock Crazy. Rochelle decided to write “a couple of paragraphs” about some of the first-wave colonists who were helping Katie McGowan. Katie was afraid of us because we came here as prisoners and she thought we were all dangerous criminals. Well, we took over and became our own book. Rochelle didn’t even finish Rock Crazy until after we got done with her.
Rochelle Weber’s Bio:
Rochelle Weber is a Navy veteran and Mensan with a BA in Writing from Columbia College in Chicago. Her novels Rock Bound is available at Amazon, etc. Rock Crazy and The Thin Person Inside are available at MuseItUp Publishing, Inc. All three are available in both e-book and print. She edits for The Author’s Secret, and publishes the Marketing for Romance Writers Newsletter, winner of the 2013 & 2015 Preditors & Editors Readers’ Polls for Best Writers’ Resource. She also manages Roses & Thorns Reviews.
Ms. Weber battles bi-polar disorder, quipping, “You haven’t lived until you’ve been the only woman on the locked ward at the VA.” Her song, “It’s Not My Fault,” won a gold medal in the National Veterans Creative Arts Competition. She lost over a hundred pounds and kept it off for four years. She lives in Round Lake Beach, Illinois with two cats who have her very well-trained.
The future is a dangerous place for dreamers and idealists.
When a dictator takes over the United States, Annie Peterson attends a protest in Washington, DC, with her husband Paul. US troops fire into the crowd killing him, and Jake Johnsrud, a virtual stranger, risks his life to save hers. They are among the survivors who are sentenced to slavery on the Moon for their “crimes”—Jake as a miner; Annie as a sex slave.
Jake fights increasing feelings of anger and jealousy as Annie struggles to perform her job, while she resists her increasing attraction to him. Along with their fellow inmates, they fight to survive on the lunar "rock" that is their prison.
Noon, July 4, 2051
The protesters pushed against each other, trying to hold their signs up high above the crowd. The smell of sweat hung in the muggy July air, as Paul, Annie, and Crystal struggled to find a place to spread their blankets near the Lincoln Memorial. The passion of the crowd’s chant rang across the Mall.
“Restore the Constitution! Restore free elections!”
The Mall was so crowded they could barely breathe. Paul went in search of drinks and was gone over an hour. The first speaker mounted the podium.
“Can you believe they’re charging five credits a bottle for water and seven for pop?” he asked, as he handed the women their drinks.
“Now don’t you wish we’d brought the cooler from the car?” Annie asked.
“I know, and you’ll never let me live it down,” Paul lamented. His warm, brown eyes smiled at her.
“Well, if water’s five credits, how much’ll a sandwich be?” Crystal asked.
“I already checked. Burgers’re fifteen credits and fries’re another five,” Paul replied, as he settled on the blanket between the two women.
“It’s a seller’s market. They’ll charge all the traffic will bear,” said a man sitting on the grass next to them. “I’m Jake Johnsrud.” The man’s bright blue eyes twinkled momentarily when his gaze met Annie’s.
Annie smiled at him. “This is my husband, Paul, our friend Crystal Petrie, and I’m Annie Peterson. Why don’t you join us on our blanket?”
“Thanks,” he said.
“Nice to meet you, Jake,” Annie replied. “Scrunch over there, Honey.” She patted the blanket next to her as she moved closer to Paul in the middle to make room for the tall, raw-boned man.
“Well, the price of pop isn’t our only worry,” Paul said. “There are troops surrounding the Mall. I think we can pretty much count on being arrested.”
“Then we’ll all be arrested together, just like my great-grandparents in Chicago.” Annie linked her arm through Paul’s and sang slightly off key, “If you’ve been to jail for justice, let me shake your hand.”
Folk songs by the group Peter, Paul, and Mary had been staples in the Swanson household when she was growing up. Her great-grandmother had sung her to sleep with “Puff the Magic Dragon” and had sung along in the car as she listened to the group’s re-mastered files. And now, a century later, the music had been rediscovered. By the end of the day, it would be banned.
They stood up to listen to the speakers.
Annie followed Crystal’s gaze to the soldiers. She didn’t believe what she saw, and tried to process the sight of them raising their weapons. Crystal dropped her sign and yelled, “The bastards’re firing on us!”
Paul’s head lolled forward, the charred hole still smoking, and Annie fell to the ground trying to cradle him. She sobbed, crying “No! No! No!” Crystal’s arms were around her, as she sat on the ground, clutching her dead husband. People were trying to run but there was nowhere to go. Annie felt Jake fall atop her and Crystal. Oh, my God! He’s dead, too!
“Stay still,” he said. “We’re liable to get trampled.”
Annie felt the weight lift all too soon, as Jake was roughly pulled to his feet by a soldier, who separated him from the women. They handcuffed Annie with a plastic tie-up, and dragged her away from Paul’s body toward an Army truck.
“Nooooooooooo!” she screamed. “Paul!”
They threw her in back of the truck, and Crystal landed next to her. She scooted closer to Annie.
“Cry it out, Sweetie,” Crystal said. Annie leaned her head on the other woman’s shoulder and sobbed.
Author Blog: http://rochelleweber.blogspot.com
Review Blog: http://rosesndthorns.blogspot.com/
Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/Rochelle.Weber.Author
Amazon Author Page: http://amazon.com/author/rochelleweber
Book Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0h8SMkiJRpMpro