Tuesday, June 14, 2011

THE LADY OF BOLTON HILL - Elizabeth Camden - Free Book

Tell us how much of yourself you write into your characters.

I stay away from writing myself because I try to avoid boring my readers.  I am way too mild-mannered to be interesting, so this is where my imagination comes into play.  Like all writers, I draw on my own experiences of what it feels like to be lonely, intimidated, joyous, or triumphant….but that is where it ends. 

When did you first discover that you were a writer?

I remember when I was in third grade the teacher asked us to write down what we wanted to be when we grew up.  I had just finished reading Stuart Little by E.B. White and I was devastated by the ending.  Too sad!  I said that I wanted to grow up and write happier endings to books that ended badly.  Most third graders have yet to appreciate the voracious, blood-thirsty beast that is known as Copyright Law, so my idea didn’t make it past the fourth grade.  After that, I put the idea on ice for about twenty years.

As a more serious answer to your question:  Have you ever fallen in love with an art form so badly that you wanted to go beyond simply enjoying it, and start producing it?  I think this is how most artists, musicians, and writers get lured into their craft, and it was the same for me.  Reading has always been such a significant part of my life that I got to the point I wanted to try producing the kind of novels that had such a major impact on my life.

How do you choose your characters’ names?

Because I write historicals, I need to pick something that is appropriate to the era.  I really don’t want to read a Victorian with the heroine named Taylor or Madison. There is a great resource at the Social Security Administration called the Popular Baby Name Index: www.ssa.gov/oact/babynames/

You can pick a year all the way back to 1880 and see the top 500 male and female baby names.  As I scan the list, a good one will usually pop out at me.  In the year 1880, the names Bertha, Edna, Irma, and Myrtle were all really big.  No offense against anyone with those names, but I don’t think they would be suitable for a romantic heroine.  Still, the list contains a smattering of names like Clara, Grace, Lilly, Julia.  All of these sound appropriate to the era, but still very palatable to modern sensibilities.

What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?

I suppose that would be my marriage.  I certainly think it is the thing that brings me the greatest joy in life.  I got married too late to have children of my own, but I inherited two terrific step-daughters who have been a real treat.  I went through most of my adult life as a single woman, and I will never, never take the joy of a family for granted.

What is the problem with writing that was your greatest roadblock, and how did you overcome it?

Pride?  I’m not sure that is precisely the right word, but I can’t think of a better one.  When I completed my first manuscript, I thought it was a masterpiece.  I sent it off to a handful of top agents and checked my mailbox daily, getting ready to sign on with the best who offered. When no one did, I was stunned.  Was it possible my query was answered by a secretary?  Or an intern who was too green to spot blazing talent?  Or maybe you had to know someone to get your foot in the door, so I shouldn’t beat myself up because it wasn’t my writing that was holding me back, it was the system.   To make a long story short….this kind of thinking went on for a couple of years. 

After more rejections than I can count, I came to accept that these excuses were not getting me any closer to landing an agent.  I swallowed hard, did a gut check, and started from scratch.  I read voraciously.  I read the classics, genre literature, memoirs, anything that exposed me to writing that was fresh, original, and sparkly.  I also read dozens of books about the writing craft.  Some were better than others, but all of them helped me learn the ropes and spot some of my problems.  When I went back to work on a new manuscript, there was a marked shift in the reactions I received from agents.  I had a ton of requests for full manuscripts, but still no offer.

Then came phase three of my writing life.  I was convinced I was awful.  I was too blind to spot my problems and I needed to let go of this irrational dream to ever write a novel. 

But the thing was, I liked writing.  I liked everything about it and didn’t want to quit, even if no one ever read it.  I became a little more risky in the type of writing I submitted to agents, and then things finally gelled. I think it may have been the combination of ignorant self-confidence, a willingness to critically assess my work, and some strategic risks in the content of where I decided to stretch the genre that finally bumped me up to the next level. 

Tell us about the featured book?

One of my favorite romantic plots concerns lovers who are reunited after several years apart.  In The Lady of Bolton Hill, Daniel and Clara were quite young when they met and shared one of those intense, immediate bonds that can sometimes flare up between teenagers.  They are separated by Clara’s disapproving father.  The book begins when Clara returns to the United States after more than a decade abroad, and the chemistry between Clara and Daniel immediately blazes back to life.  The problem is they have followed such wildly divergent paths that they don’t know if they can find a way back to each other, even though they both crave it.

Something that was very important for me is that both my characters be very passionate people, but who are still fiercely intelligent and sensible.  Have you ever read a book where the conflict between the hero and heroine could be solved by a simple honest conversation?  There was no way I was going to let Daniel and Clara off the hook so easily!  Although it is clear they are madly in love, they will be put through the wringer before they can get to a happy ending.  I love a good turbulent story with love, betrayal, heartbreak, all punctuated with periods of soaring joy and utter delight.  That is what I aimed for with The Lady of Bolton Hill.  I’ll be curious to hear from folks if they think I got it in the ballpark.

How can readers find you on the Internet?

I blog at http://elizabethcamden.com/blog  Three times a week I write about my thoughts on the romance genre (in novels, movies, real life, etc.)  In my day job I am a librarian, so I also post lots of pictures of mouth-watering libraries.  I hope you’ll swing by for a peek!

Thank you, Elizabeth, for this peek into your writing life.



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Leave a comment for a chance to win a free copy of the book. Please tell us where you live, at least the state or territory. (Comments containing links may be subject to removal by blog owner.)

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40 comments:

Patsy said...

Elizabeth, your book sounds really good. Love the cover! Love that dress!
From the Bible Belt

plhouston(at)bellsouth(dot)net

Tamara said...

Looks like a great book! I can't wait to read it! :)

Tami
Kansas
sixsunflowerseeds at gmail dot com

ReviewsbyErin said...

I am currently reading this book so an interview was nice to read!! I don't need to be entered for the giveaway, just wanted to comment and say thanks again for all the opportunities you provide to both authors and readers!

Judy said...

This book sounds really good! I am looking forward to reading it!

judyjohn2004[at]yahoo[dot]com

Melissa Jagears said...

I'm interested in what you mean by stretch the genre.

KS

misskallie2000 said...

Hi Elizabeth, Enjoyed your interview and look forward to reading "The Lady of Bolton Hill". Thanks for stopping by to chat and share with us.
Hi Lena, Please enter me in the giveaway.

I live in Central Georgia

misskallie2000 at yahoo dot com

Elizabeth Camden said...

Thanks for all your kind comments, ladies!

Melissa asked what I mean by "stretching" the genre.

Well..... I took a lot of risks with The Lady of Bolton Hill. Some of the characters are larger-than-life. I threw in a few twists of spooky gothic. Probably the biggest risk was in letting my hero be a profoundly messed-up guy. Daniel storms and rages and chews up the scenery in The Lady of Bolton Hill. I don't think you see too much of that in inspirational fiction, but it is the kind of deeply, wildly passionate characters I like to write about.

The only way you can get away with that is for the reader to trust that Daniel was redeemable. I am really grateful that Bethany House gave me free reign with Daniel, because he was huge fun to write about.

Rebecca said...

Thank you so much for the chance to win this. This book looks amazing. I would love to read this. Thanks again.

I am from Oklahoma.

agent_beckster(at)yahoo(dot)com

Sarah said...

I really enjoyed the interview. Thanks for the chance to win this book, it looks great! I love the cover too!

Sarah from Ohio

A J Hawke said...

Elizabeth, I found your story of your path to writing of interest. Glad you made it to publication.

Please enter me in the giveaway.

A J Hawke
Texas

Salena Stormo said...

The book looks amazing! I can't wait to read it!

srstormo at yahoo dot com
I live in Texas

Pam K. said...

"The Lady of Bolton Hill" has such a lovely cover and sounds like a book I would really enjoy reading. Thank you for the interview with Elizabeth and for the opportunity to win her new book.

pmk56[at]sbcglobal[dot]net
Kansas

Kari Linder said...

I can't WAIT to read this book! It sounds SO good! Thanks for the chance to win!
Kari in Oregon

Brenda said...

Looks like a good read. I posted this to my blog: http://dancealertreads.blogspot.com/2011/06/christian-writers-world-characters-who_14.html

I'm a subscriber and a follower gfc.

Brenda from Michigan.
dancealert at aol dot com

Anonymous said...

Sounds like it is going to be a great read. The cover looks very intriguing.
Kathy
east Texas

Wendy said...

Sounds like a good book and a new author for me.

karenk said...

would love to read this novel...thanks for the chance :)

karenk
kmkuka at yahoo dot com
pennsylvania

Diana Flowers said...

Please enter me...what a beautiful cover!

dianalflowers@aol.com
SC

Krista said...

Please enter me! This book looks soooo incredibly good!


Krista from Gresham, OR

Abigail said...

I have seen this book in a few catalogs (Lifeway, Family Christian stores and Christian book.com) and I really thought it looked interesting by cover and by what it says it is about. I love the color of Clara's dress. Thanks for the chance to win!!!
Abigail Richmond
Blanch, N.C.

Elizabeth Camden said...

Thanks for all your kind comments about the cover of the book and Clara's dress. Isn't it gorgeous???

I had no idea how much hard work went into designing a book cover. I'm hanging my head in embarrassment here, but I thought it was all just photoshopped. Wrong! I was amazed to see how much effort went into it when they featured my book cover and the process at this blog post:

http://blogs.lifeway.com/christianfiction/2011/03/the-novel-process-day-3.html

Scroll down toward the bottom to see some other potential covers and versions. I'm glad they picked the one they did!

Elizabeth

Patricia Cornelius said...

This sounds likea very good book.
I would like a glance at it
Patricia

A, Carpenter said...

Love your cover on the book, and this looks like it will be a great book , hope I win...

Angela C./Oh

Sarah said...

Looks like a great read!

Sarah H.
Oklahoma

Brenda said...

The book sounds great! Please enter me. Brenda from Michigan.

dancealert at aol dot com

Robyn said...

I'm with you. I love the turbulent story that soars to new heights. Sounds like a keeper for my shelves.

coolestmommy2000 at gmail dot com
NE

Judy Cooper said...

Elizabeth, I really enjoyed your interview, especially what you said about your stepdaughters. I wish my granddaughter was that fortunate. I look forward to reading your new book. Thank you again, Mrs. Dooley for always interviewing interesting authors. Judy C. in Louisiana.

Diana Flowers said...

This has got to be nominated for the best cover award...fabulous! Elizabeth, I had no idea it was any trouble picking a cover either so you aren't the only one hanging your head here.:-)

dianalflowers@aol.com
SC

Courtney said...

I have read some great reviews on this book and I can't wait to read it. It has already been on my TBR list and I thank you for a chance to win it!!
The cover is stunning by the way!!

Courtney from WA
kcmelone at yahoo dot com

Granny Greer said...

Enjoyed your interview and would love to win this book.

Miss Granny/Oh

Granny Greer said...

Enjoyed your interview and would love to win this book.

Miss Granny/Oh

scottsgal said...

sounds like a wonderful summer book to read
cheryl in IL
msboatgal at aol.com

Ann Lee Miller said...

Sounds great!
Ann Lee Miller
Gilbert AZ

Ms. Thompson said...

Would love to win this book.
Illinois

Lady DragonKeeper said...

Thank you for the link to that article about your book cover's process! "The Lady of Bolton Hill" has one of my favorite book covers of this year ...

Thanks for the chance to win!

jafuchi7[at]hawaii[dot]edu

(P.S. -- From Hawaii)

Bakersdozen said...

I would love to read this. I like how the author takes care in choosing the names. I also like how she took risks in the story. I live in S. CA.

peachykath said...

I always find the reunited relationships to be the most interesting and lasting. Please enter me in the drawing for this book. Thank you.

peachykath79[at]yahoo[dot]com

Katherine from Northern California

Megan said...

The cover looks amazing and the story sounds wonderful. I am looking forward to reading this book soon.

Megan
Illinois
lovetoread205 [at] gmail [dot] com

Kristie said...

I LOVE the Social Security Name Index. So fun!!!! I like a nice turbulent story too. Happy endings make me smile. And I like a good tear-jerker as well. I'm from Ohio. kristiedonelson(at)gmail(dot)com Thank you.

Merry said...

The Lady of Bolton Hill sounds wonderful, I love stories of sweethearts getting a second chance at love.
Merry in TX