Monday, October 31, 2011


Tell us how much of yourself you write into your characters.
I suppose a little of me creeps into each of the heroines I write, but I try to vary the personalities/character types so nobody sounds or acts just like me. I’ve fallen in love with a book on writing characters called The Complete Writer’s Guide to Heroes and Heroines. I love the way this book shows the interaction of character types and gives examples from TV and movies. By mixing up these character-traits, I can hopefully keep my characters from being too much like me—or each other.

What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?
I have so many quirks, it’s hard to pick out just one, so I’ll give you three of the many.
--One time when I was in kindergarten while walking home from school, I tried to see how slowly I could walk without falling over. (Yes, really, stop laughing!) I was really, really late getting home from school and my mom came looking for me. I was in soooo much trouble.
--I also scalp my pizza. I eat all the toppings off the crust and eat the crust separately. No clue why, it just tastes good that way.
--My family and I have been to 16 historical sites/museums run by the MN Historical Society. My goal is to eventually visit them all. I think I have four or five left to see.
--Oh, and bonus quirk: I don’t like seafood. At all. Nothing From The Sea is my motto.

When did you first discover that you were a writer?
I think the seeds were there for a long time. I have a post over on Seekerville where I followed the trail of becoming a writer from my kindergarten days onward. I’ve always loved reading, story-weaving, and daydreaming. Couple those things with my love of words, history, and happy endings, and it was a natural progression to historical romance writer.

Tell us the range of the kinds of books you enjoy reading.
I read a lot of different things. Mysteries, history books, thrillers, historical romances, biographies, memoirs. I love Dick Francis, Tom Clancy, Elizabeth Peters, Sarah Graves, Mary Connealy, James Herriot, Essie Summers, Zane Grey, and so many more.

How do you keep your sanity in our run, run, run world?
I’m busier now than I’ve ever been, but I keep my sanity the same way I always have. Retreating into my fictional worlds. I have to have this downtime…when it looks like I’m not doing anything at all…in order to recharge the creative batteries and to prepare to write. On a side note, I do have to pull back on other things I’m involved with, say no to some good things in order to pursue writing fiction. I’ve learned I can’t do it all, so I have to be careful what I say yes to. 

How do you choose your characters’ names?
 There are several things I take into consideration when choosing character names. Ethnic background, historical setting, economic background, connotations, and what exceptions can I make to these rules. The era in history that I’m writing has a lot to do with the names I choose, as well as the economic status of the characters. My first series was set in the Gilded Age amongst the upper elite. The names were more elaborate. My second series was set in Idaho territory and the names were more rugged or plain. I consider the ethnic background of the characters as well. Are they Scots, Norwegian, German, Irish? Here in Minnesota we have a lot of Scandinavian and German names. A name like Jukka Thoreson wouldn’t be out of place in a MN historical. I also try to choose names that fit the type of character I’m creating. I want the name to evoke a certain idea in the character’s mind even before they get to know the character. My current Work in Progress has a hero named Gareth, (like Sir Gareth of the Round Table) and I hope this evokes ideas of a knight in shining armor, someone steeped in chivalry, and willing to risk his life for a damsel in distress.

What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?
The writing accomplishment I’m most proud of to date is receiving so many honors in the 18th Annual Heartsong Awards this past spring. The readers were so kind to me, and it was wonderful to see my books were enjoyed by so many people.

The non-writing accomplishment I’m the most proud of is my family. My husband and I have been happily married for 21 years now and we have two great kids.

If you were an animal, which one would you be, and why?
I wouldn’t mind being a panda. They are adorable and rare and cherished. Oh, and they’re supposed to be round all over, which I kinda am. J

What is your favorite food?
My current go-to food is taco salad at Carlos O’Kelly’s restaurant. I order it every time I go there.

What is the problem with writing that was your greatest roadblock, and how did you overcome it?
Showing vs. telling was a hard one for me to get my head around. I thought I knew what it meant, but even now I’m discovering new ways to show instead of tell. As to overcoming it, critique partners helped a lot, as did reading books by masters of showing vs. telling. Some writers are very, very good at this technique and I always learn new things by reading their work.

Tell us about the featured book.
The Queen of the Cow Towns is the setting for a rollicking romantic mystery.

Dodge City deputy Miles Carr is on a mission to overcome his past and prove himself worthy of the badge he wears. When one of the town’s most popular merchants is murdered, Miles’s investigation leads him to the portrait studio of pretty but aloof Adeline Reed.

When Addie Reid isn’t focused on the world she sees through the lens of her camera, she’s looking over her shoulder. But it isn’t her past that’s caught up with her. Unwittingly in possession of a clue that will expose a killer, Addie must join forces with Miles to solve the crime. As their relationship develops, a portrait of the killer emerges. 

I’m totally intrigued. Please give us the first page of the book.

Uncle Carl had taught her that the customer should be accommodated no matter what, but surely there were limitations. Addie Reid pressed her fingertips against her temple. “You want to do what?”

“I want my picture made with my horse.”

“Sir, this isn’t a livery stable. I do serious portraiture.”

The cowboy—so prototypical of the breed as to be comical with his wide hat, sunburned face, and bat-wing chaps—waved a scrap of newsprint in her face. “Read this here ad. It says ‘Come to Reid’s Photography to get your portrait taken with your trail pards and best friends.’ This is your ad, ain’t it? You are Reid’s Photography?”

A small pang twisted Addie’s heart. She was now. What if I can’t do this alone?


“Yes, that’s my advertisement, and this is Reid’s Photography.”

“Good. Then I want my picture made with my trail pard and best friend. I’ve got good, cash money. Trail boss paid us off an hour ago. I got spiffed up down at the barbershop and headed right here.”

“But sir, a horse? The advertisement is intended for humans.”

“That horse”—he pointed through the open door to a dusty animal dozing in the sun on Front Street—“is the best friend and trail pard I’ve ever had. He’s smart and gentle and has forgotten more about cow work than I’ll ever know.”

Which was either an accolade for the horse or an insult to the cowboy. She blew out a breath. “I can’t haul the camera out into the street.” Though she wouldn’t risk moving the Chevalier for a simple portrait, perhaps she could use her smaller Scovill. Though the print would be smaller, too.

“I don’t want no outside picture. I want it taken in the studio with one of those fancy backdrops. And I want the picture to be about this big”—he held up his hands about a foot apart—“so it will look good in a frame on the wall.”

That ruled out the Scovill. A print that size would need the bigger camera. Her mind trotted back to what he’d said, and her jaw dropped. “You intend to bring a horse inside?” Jamming her hands on her hips, she shook her head. “No. Impossible. I’ll take your picture, and it will be a good one, but the animal stays outside.”

He tugged the corner of his enormous moustache. “I reckoned as much. No gumption. Should’ve known better than to come to a woman photographer. A man would understand. Guess I’ll go over to Donaldson’s. He offered to do it for me, but I wanted to give you a try at it first, since you’re new in town and all. He said you’d be too timid.”

Stung, Addie straightened. “Wait. Don’t go.” Donaldson’s Photography three blocks down would be her biggest competitor, and Heber Donaldson had been the most vocal about the new photography shop on Front Street stealing his customers. “We can work something out.” But it would have to be worth her while. She hesitated then quoted him a price.

The cowboy grinned. “That sounds fine to me.”

This book just jumped to the top of my to-be-read pile. How can readers find you on the Internet?
You can find me on Facebook
And on the web at:

Thank you, Erica, for the fun interview.

Readers, here's a link to the book. By using it when you order, you help support this blog.
A Bride's Portrait of Dodge City, Kansas

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.)

Void where prohibited; the odds of winning depend on the number of entrants. Entering the giveaway is considered a confirmation of eligibility on behalf of the enterer in accord with these rules and any pertaining local/federal/international laws.

The only notification you’ll receive is the winner post on this blog. So be sure to check back a week from Saturday to see if you won. You will have 4 weeks from the posting of the winners to claim your book.

If you’re reading this on Feedblitz, Facebook, or Amazon, please come to the blog to leave your comment if you want to be included in the drawing. Here’s a link.


Wendy Newcomb said...

Thank you for doing this interview and hosting the giveaway. Sounds like a great book.


Coolestmommy said...

LOL!!! I'm still giggling about your panda commentary. I think I would want to be a panda, too. I'm getting rounder all over with each passing year. :-)

Thanks for sharing--I can't wait to read the book.

coolestmommy2000 at gmail dot com

Rebecca said...

Thank you so much for the chance to win this. This looks like a great book. I would love to win this. Thanks again.


Patty said...

What a situation! Sounds like a fun read.

Patty in SC

Unknown said...

What a fun interview/post. Thanks Erica and Lena. And thanks for the giveaway. i would love to win.


from the Peace River Country of Alberta

Lorna Faith said...

I love the first page...sounds like a great mystery romance:) I would love a chance to win!

Lorna from Alberta

lornafaith at gmail dot com

Katie said...

Please enter me! I LOVE photography (and horses haha. That first page really sucked me in!) so this sounds like a wonderful book for me :) I live in NC.

God bless!

Katie G.

Erica Vetsch said...

Good morning, wfnren, I love your avatar. I have always loved the Raggedy Ann and Andy stories. :)

Erica Vetsch said...

Hi, Robyn,

I'm feeling virtuous today because I spent time on my treadmill (I was walking, not just sitting on it! :D )

Erica Vetsch said...

Hi, Patty, thank you for dropping by and commenting. I hope you get a chance to read a little of the mayhem I caused for Miles and Addie. :)

Erica Vetsch said...

Hi, Marianne,

I'm glad you enjoyed the interview. It truly is a peek into the zany way my mind works.

Erica Vetsch said...

Hi, Lorna Faith,

The idea for that first scene came from a photograph I came across of a cowboy and his horse posed in a portrait studio. I couldn't help but wonder if the photographer got extra pay for that one.

Erica Vetsch said...

Hi, Katie G. I had to do quite a bit of research on early photography methods. I couldn't get over how dangerous some of the chemicals were and how often photographers got ill from chemical poisoning.

And I've always loved horses, too. :)

Erica Vetsch said...

Hi, Rebecca! I love that hat! I wish I could wear hats more, but I have ridiculously curly hair (contrary to the photograph of me here--that took an army of professionals to get that look.)

Anonymous said...

The book sounds like FUN! I would love to win!



Erica Vetsch said...

Hi, Salena, I recognize your name from the ACFW loop. Thanks for stopping by. :)

Keli Gwyn said...

I thoroughly enjoyed A Bride's Portrait. What's fun is that readers get a double dose of romance since we get to watch two couples get together.

I'd love to head to Carlos O'Kelly's place and have a Taco Salad with you, Erica. We could talk writing and enjoy a good meal at the same time. =)

(Lena, you don't need to enter me in the drawing since I already have a copy of the book.)

Erica Vetsch said...

Keli, I don't think they'd get us out of the restaurant! :) But just thinking of sharing Mexican food and writing talk with you makes me happy.

Anonymous said...

I would love to win a copy of this book. angela from KY

scottsgal said...

Nothing wrong with being "panda-like" :-) sounds like a wonderful book
cheryl in IL
msboatgal at

Erica Vetsch said...

Hi, Angela from KY. Thanks for dropping in!

Erica Vetsch said...

Hey, scottsgal,

I'd like to think I'm rare and cute and cherished, but I think I mostly win panda-merit for being round. :)

Unknown said...

How intriguing.

Ginger in AL

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Your book sounds very interesting, Erica. I love the western setting, too.

Sorry, my goof before.

Erica Vetsch said...

Hi, Ginger and Mildred,

I'm partial to western settings myself. There's just something about the cowboy/lawman mystique. :)

Patricia said...

Reading about how you choose you character names I have some female names from some of my ancesters that were pretty wierd like Lomer, Bethel, Floy, Lula and that is just a few.

Thanks for the enjoyable interview and giveaway! Anxious to read the book.

plb1050 at gmail dot com

Pam K. said...

This sounds like a really fun book. I'd especially love to read it since it is set in Kansas.
Thanks for the interview with Erica and the book giveaway.


Erica Vetsch said...

Hi, Patricia,

Lomer and Floy sure caught my eye. Those would make great character names.

Erica Vetsch said...

Hi, Pam!

A fellow Jayhawk! I was born and raised in Salina. I miss the prairie.

Ann Lee Miller said...

Thanks for the chance to win Erica's book!

Ann Lee Miller
Gilbert AZ

Erica Vetsch said...

Hi, Aly Logan, thanks for entering to win A Bride's Portrait. Have a happy Tuesday!

Merry said...

What a delightful beginning for A Bride's Portrait of Dodge City, Kansas!I love Erica's books and I don't want to miss this one. :)
Merry in TX

karenk said...

thanks for the opportunity to read erica's novel :)

karenk...from PA
kmkuka at yahoo dot com

apple blossom said...

love this cover would love to win this book thanks for the chance
I live in ND

ABreading4fun [at] gmail [dot] com

Faith said...

Wonderful interview :) And the book sounds so good! It's on my "To buy" list ;)
The interview was so fun.
And I loved the excerpt from the book, and I can totally relate to the cowboy wanting his picture taken with his horse!
Can't wait to read your book Erica :)

Faith said...

Oh, and I'm from SD ;)

Cathy said...

Would love a chance to win this book!
Cathy from B.C. Canada

Erica Vetsch said...

Hi, Merry! Thanks for coming by and leaving a comment. I hope you get to read more of A Bride's Portrait!

Erica Vetsch said...

Faye! My South Dakota friend! If you don't win the book here (and best of luck to you in the drawing) I did leave a couple of autographed copies at Crossroads in Sioux Falls. :)

Erica Vetsch said...

Hi, Cathy from B.C. It's so nice to meet you here!

Sarah Rebekah Richmond said...

It looks and sounds interesting!
Please enter me in the drawing.
God Bless,
Sarah Richmond

Courtney said...

Love the cover! Love the interview!! Find your quirks pretty hilarious! I'm with you on the ban against food from the sea...I also hate seafood!

This really sounds like a great book!! Thanks for the chance to win!

Courtney from WA state!

Abigail Mitchell said...

Looks very interesting. Please enter me in the drawing.
Thanks and God Bless!
Abigail Richmond
Blanch, N.C.

Erica Vetsch said...

Hi, Sarah, Thanks for coming by!

Erica Vetsch said...

Hey, Courtney, Yay for non-seafood eaters! :)

Didn't Barbour do a lovely job with the book cover? I was so happy when I saw it!

Erica Vetsch said...

Hi, Abigail! I suspect you and Sarah are related? :D

Love your profile picture!

Jo said...

I'm laughing already. What a fun book this sounds like. Please enter me.

Jo from Southern Arizona

Erica Vetsch said...

Hi, Jo,

My current WIP is set in along the Colorado River in Western Arizona. My poor characters are melting. As a Minnesotan, the desert would probably do me in!

Maggie Carr said...

What a cool storyline!

Maggie, Northern Indiana

misskallie2000 said...

Hi Erica, You are a new author for me and I love this story already. I love spunky women who hold their own. Great interview. I love sea food but know lots who don't. Thanks for stopping by to chat and share with us.
Thanks for the opportunity to enter giveaway.

I am from Georgia

misskallie2000 at yahoo dot com

Judy Cooper said...

I enjoy this kind of novel. It would be nice to win it.

Kristie said...

Sounds like an interesting heroine and her fascinating profession. Especially for back then. I hate seafood too. I LOVE your motto and will steal it. *LOL* I'm from Ohio. kristiedonelson(at)gmail(dot)com Thank you.

Erica Vetsch said...

Hi, Maggie, I'm glad you're intrigued by the storyline. The idea came to me from a photograph I saw in a book. I'm blogging about that on Dec. 1st on Sandy Ardoin's blog

Erica Vetsch said...


Hi to a fellow historical romance fan! :) I hope you get a chance to read A Bride's Portrait.

Erica Vetsch said...

Kristie, Seafood Avoiders of the World, Unite! :)

I can't even walk by a Red Lobster without feeling a little queasy. :)

Sharon Richmond said...

Enter me I would love to win a copy of this book! Thanks and God bless!
Sharon Richmond
Blanch, NC.

Mama Cat said...

Erica, it is so exciting to hear about your new book - I have read your books for Heartsong (Congrats on the award!!!!) and your talent is more and more evident in each book - each one is better than the last! So, I can't wait to read this one, and would love to win it :-) Blessings to you in this marvelous ministry of writing that our Father has given to you!
I live in Phoenix (an am going to be part of the sisterhood - Christian, of course - of pandas, too!)

Aizess said...

This sounds like a great book. Please enter me in this giveaway!

I live in New York

Anonymous said...

Enjoyed the interview! Congratulations to Erica on her many awards this spring! Looking forward to reading the new book!

from Michigan

rubynreba said...

Great interview. Sounds like a wonderful book.
Beth from Iowa

Kd Brown said...

The title on this book sounds intriguing. Great interview and giveaway.

Kathleen in Montana

Erica Vetsch said...

Hi, Sharon, Aizess, KD, RubynReba,

Thank you for stopping by Lena's blog, and I wish you all the best in the drawing!

Erica Vetsch said...

MamaCat - Thank you so much for your kind words re my stories. I've certainly been blessed.

Samantha, thank you! The Heartsong Awards were certainly a lot of fun this past year. I'm so thankful I've had the opportunity to write for Heartsong and Barbour. I've met such wonderful people as a result.

Lady DragonKeeper said...

I'm usually pretty selective about what western/prairie historical I read, (since I'm on the edge of burnout regarding that time period, ha-ha) but Mrs. Vetch's novel has such a unique sounding storyline --I'll be keeping an eye out for it.

Thanks for the chance to win!


(P.S. --I'm from Hawaii)

Joanna Richmond said...

this Books looks so very interesting I would love to read it enter me in the giveaway Thanks Joanna Richmond,

Nathanael Richmond said...

Looks interesting!Please enter me in the drawing.
Nathanael Richmond
Blanch, NC.

Katie Marie said...

I read an excerpt of this book the other day, and was really intrigued. Sounds like a fun plot with some action in it. I'd love a chance at winning a copy!

Katie from Florida