Please help me welcome author Dianne Noble, who is sharing the moments that changed her life and her latest release…
Being born on Bonfire Night in Hazlewood Castle. Not nobility, despite my name! It was a nursing home.
First day at school, first of fifteen I would attend. Sat on the toilet and hoped the bus would go without me.
Aged seven, sailed to Singapore on a troopship. Took 28 days and I saw a camel on the banks of the Suez Canal.
Three years later the RAF moved us to Lancs, England. Never been so cold in my whole life after the heat and sun of Singapore.
Cyprus next at the time Turkey was threatening to invade. I was a teenager surrounded by handsome UN peace-keeping troops. My father lost the last of his hair.
Marriage to a Civil Engineer who took me to Bahrain in the Arabian Gulf. Loved the place and worked in the British Embassy.
Back in England, divorced and a single parent. Tough years but character forming.
Kids grown and flown so back on my travels. India, China, Israel, Guatemala & Russia amongst others, keeping comprehensive journals.
Started novel writing using said journals. Travelled more. Wrote more.
Tirgearr Publishing accepted my novel Outcast based in India. There are many more in the pipeline, based in Egypt, Morocco, maybe Iran. Who knows?
WOW…what a life you’ve led. Fascinating! Thank you so much for sharing, Dianne. Congratulations on your new release! The cover is beautiful.
Rose leaves her Cornwall café to search for her daughter in the sweltering slums of Kolkata, India. In the daily struggle for survival, she is often brought to her knees, but finds strength to overcome the poverty and disease and grows to love the Dalit community she helps. But then there are deaths, and she fears for her own safety.
A beggar was pulling at her sleeve, a woman carrying a baby with two front teeth so new they still had scalloped edges. Clutching on to her frayed sari was a tiny girl wearing pink knickers and nothing else. Rose looked down at them. She knew better than to give to beggars, knew she’d be overwhelmed in a stampede. But there was something in the woman’s eyes, a hopelessness which tore at her chest. She hesitated then put her hand in her bag but the woman had already turned away, was slipping between the cars to cross the road. ‘Wait,’ Rose called.
The girl pulled her hand free of her mother’s and darted back to Rose. And then the explosion came.
Please help me welcome today’s guest, Rebecca Brooks…
When I was eighteen, I took a gap year between high school and college. I traveled to India with a backpack, four pairs of underwear, the pants I was wearing—and no return ticket. Learning to forge my own path has been essential to me as a writer. Plus, it showed me what it feels like to write every day, or as much as I can.
I feel like it sounds cheesy to say that the choice of where I went to college changed my life, but it did. I went to Wellesley College, an all-women’s college in Massachusetts. I wound up applying there on my gap year (long story!), so it really does feel like my life changed tracks to get me there. Wellesley was the first time in my life I felt truly at home in my skin. It’s a place that will always be a part of me.
My life definitely changed when I met the love of my life! My husband and I were friends from work before we were making tea in my kitchen and I realized he had every quality I could hope for in another human being. It was seriously like a lightning bolt struck me and I just KNEW. That was seven years ago, and I can’t imagine my life without his friendship, laughter, support, or his amazing editing skills.
I got a PhD in English, but what really changed my life was my decision not to stay in academia after I finished. I realized that if I became a full-time professor, I’d never get my own writing done, and I’d always feel like I was missing out on my dream. I’m glad I took the plunge into something unknown instead of staying on the path I’d been on. (I’m also glad I kept up freelance writing and editing work so I had another job to fall back on!)
I actually wrote a novel during graduate school, a YA science fiction novel that is never, ever coming out of a drawer. I was swamped with teaching and scholarship, but I committed to writing it an hour a day, every day, no more than an hour and no less. I didn’t go back and reread what I wrote—I just started at the beginning, and 400 pages later I arrived at something in the same approximate time zone as “The End.” The book is total crap, but writing it showed me how small, everyday decisions add up, and that you write each book one page at a time.
My first year of high school, I randomly enrolled in a drawing class, where I discovered that raw talent is less important than working at something and learning the skills. I kept at it, and actually became pretty good. It was my art teachers who showed me how to create, how to persist through setbacks, and how to see the world as only I can. I use these lessons in my writing all the time.
The moment I casually told my husband an idea I had for a novel, and he said, “You should write it.” I said, “But it’s a romance novel. Do I want to write a romance novel?” And he said, “See where it goes.” We were always bouncing around ideas for books, but this was the first fully viable idea I’d had, the outline already in my mind. There are lots of things that led up to the idea that became my debut, ABOVE ALL. But the moment when my husband said, “Write it” is really the moment that launched my career.
While publishing ABOVE ALL got me started as a romance author, I feel like writing and publishing my second novel, HOW TO FALL, was just as significant. I think some part of me had been afraid my first novel was a one-time thing, like I got lucky once and it wouldn’t happen again. Selling novel number two made me see that luck is only part of it. It’s really about persistence, sweat, and getting my butt in the chair.
I’d traveled so much in my late teens and early twenties that for a long time I assumed I’d live abroad for at least some amount of time after college. But I moved to New York ten years ago this summer, and I don’t see myself moving anytime soon. I do sometimes imagine all the “what if’s” and romanticize taking off and traveling the world like (some of) my heroines do… But I know that I’m happy where I am, and grateful to have such a home.
On Sunday, April 12, 2015, my mom called me while I was out for a walk. I didn’t pick up, and ten minutes later, she called again. Somehow I already knew what she was going to say before she said it. I’m coming up on the one year anniversary of my brother’s death, and while I don’t know yet exactly how my life has changed since that April afternoon, I know that it has, and that I’ve changed, too. I wish those changes hadn’t had to happen, but I’m trying to accept them, embrace them, and understand that I will be okay—even if I don’t feel the same. This is a downer to end on, but it makes me think of how open I am to the future and the changes that will continue to shape the person I am, and the one I’m still becoming.
Fascinating adventures you’ve had, Rebecca. Thank you so much for sharing them with us today. And now, about her newest release…check out her fabulous cover!
One week of adventure might just lead to love…
Julia Evans has always put others ahead of herself—her high school math students, her troubled best friend, and her ex. But with New Year’s approaching, she buys a round trip ticket to Brazil. For one week, she can put her needs first. She can meet a stranger in the hotel pool at midnight and dance all night on the beach. Screenwriter Blake Williams has to keep moving before Oz’s latest scandal catches up to him. But the dark-haired beauty with a backpack and an adventurous streak is messing with his plans. He can’t seem to walk away from her. But secrets have a way of coming out, and when the week is up, Julia and Blake will have to decide if they’re jumping into the biggest adventure of all or playing it safe.
She couldn’t stop kissing him. Literally could not. There could be an earthquake, a fire, an explosion—who would notice? The whole world could come crashing down and it wouldn’t be enough for her to pull away. She’d always wondered what other people were talking about when they got that misty look in their eyes, going on about passion and fireworks and how just kissing someone could make them entirely melt. Now she knew. There seemed to be a direct line from her lips to her thighs, because the deeper Blake kissed her the more she felt it all the way down.
Rebecca Brooks lives in New York City in an apartment filled with books. She received a PhD in English but decided it was more fun to write books than write about them. She has backpacked alone through India and Brazil, traveled by cargo boat down the Amazon River, climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro, explored ice caves in Peru, trekked to the source of the Ganges, and sunbathed in Burma, but she always likes coming home to a cold beer and her hot husband in the Bronx. Her books are about independent women who leave their old lives behind in order to try something new—and find the passion, excitement, and purpose they didn’t even know they’d been missing.
Write what you know, they tell me. And you can find pieces of me in all of my books. My marriage proposal? See UPON A MIDNIGHT CLEAR. That bike jump over the creek my brother did when I was eight? HOMETOWN HEARTACHE, coming next year. And every one of Heath’s ex-girlfriend’s in BETWEEN ROCK AND A HARD PLACE is my bestfriend, Kelly. She also has a prominent role in a few of my other books. So what parts of me pop up in my newest release, DAMAGE DONE? My trip to Ireland, of course!
In 2003 I was lucky enough to go to Ireland with my big sister, my mom, and her friend, Joanne. We flew into Shannon airport and headed straight to our bed & breakfast. We were exhausted from the flight as even I—who can usually nap anywhere, anytime—was unable to sleep on the plane. The b&b’s owner, who was cutting her husband’s hair in the kitchen when we arrived, shooed us off, warning us that jet lag would “be the death of us” if we so much as closed our eyes. So we were off to Bunratty Castle and Durty Nelley’s, a pub. We had a traditional Irish dinner at the castle and were entertained by Irish dancers. The next day we did the obligatory visit to Blarney Castle and kissed the great stone. (Which is a terrifying experience, for those who haven’t done it. You lie down and bend backward, scootching until your rump is off the castle stone, hanging out in thin air, with no one holding your legs, stories up. I still can’t believe I did it!)
From there we headed to what was to become our home base of sorts, our cottage on the Old Head of Kinsale, where a great deal of the action takes place in DAMAGE DONE. There is a grotto there, as described in the book, and a church and store. Hurley’s which soon became “our pub,” is what Tad McGregor’s pub in the book is based on, although Tad’s place is different in a number of ways. Our hero Michael and heroine Tess run off to Cork together, one of the next stops on our 2003 trip. I used what I could from my memories, and did some research for the rest. Some of the characters’ names are from my own family tree.
Here are some photos from our trip…
Beautiful windows in Bunratty Castle Bunratty Castle
Our pub, Hurley’s
Kinsale Lighthouse on Old Head of Kinsale Our cottage on the Old Head of Kinsale
Tower near Blarney Castle
Much of the story is from my own twisted imagination, though. 🙂 I’ve never seen a lighthouse home such as Teddy and Gabby share, and don’t know where that came from. I’ve never made a sand octopus or stolen groceries from the back of a pickup truck. I’ve never even taken a bike ride like Sean and Gabby do, but I’d like to think I captured a taste of what it would be like. From where I stand, a little mishmash of fact and fiction makes for a good story. So here’s a blurb and excerpt from DAMAGE DONE. I hope you enjoy it!
When an unhappy youth leaves him damaged, will Teddy Mckee be able to find love?
“Teddy Passmore McKee was born in Cork, Ireland, with a limp and a chip on his shoulder that threw his balance off all the more.” When he falls in love with the dark haired beauty born of an Irish father and a Spanish mother, will Gabrielle Quinn be able to restore his balance? And what about the charming Sean Hennessey? When Gabby catches his eye, too, will Teddy’s playboy best friend cause his own damage?
Fourteen years later, will Teddy and Gabrielle’s son be able to overcome the damage done to him in his childhood?
“Even through bloodshot eyes he could see she was different.” But can Michael leave behind the bottle, and his womanizing ways, to win over the lovely Tess Flanagan? Tess has sustained some damage of her own. Can she and Michael overcome the terrors of the past and learn how to love each other?
And if they do, will they be able to elude those after them who want to create their own damage?
On the run after an altercation leaves their boss in a pool of blood, will Michael and Tess be able to stay one step ahead of their pursuers? Or is it simply too late to correct the damage that has been done?
“Tessie…” He offered again. “We have to get out of here.”
She remained frozen in her spot, staring blindly over the cliff. He moved a step closer and gently grasped her elbow. “Tess—”
She whirled around and his heart caught in his chest as he stared into her wild green eyes. Tears shone on her damp cheeks, glimmering in the moonlight like trails of scattered diamonds. “Nay, Michael,” she said, her words coming out choked. “I have to tell them the truth. It’s my fault. …I k-killed him.” She sobbed.
He looked at her sadly, begging her, “Let me help you.”
The back door creaked open and light spilled out from the bar across the grass, startling them. He saw Jimmy Flynn’s outline in the doorway. “They’re out here!” he yelled.
Without waiting for a response, Michael took Tess’s arm and steered her along the cliff’s edge. He stepped over the railing and helped her to the other side as well. They stood on a narrow ledge. To the left a trail dropped off toward the sea. He led her skittering down the path, loose rock pebbling the beach far below. He had taken the pathway many a night when he was drunk and feeling particularly reckless. Tonight he hurried over it with only self-preservation and Tess’s safety in mind.
They heard voices above them, coming from every direction as searchers fanned out along the top of the cliff. Their eyes met. They hardly dared to breathe. A flashlight beam ventured over the railing and along the cliff face. She clutched his hand, squeezing it until he lost feeling in his fingers. He tried to flatten himself even more tightly against the rock face, wishing it would somehow melt and absorb them. Several seconds passed and the beam of light was joined by another, and another, each swinging away, and then toward them again.
He grabbed a quick look at the churning sea below then closed his eyes for a second, and his stomach dropped. He took a deep breath before turning his head to look at Tess. Her eyes were closed and her lips were moving fervently, but she emitted no sound. He swallowed, wondering again why the sight of her affected him so. After several minutes a voice called out, “You won’t get away with this, Mikey.” Had someone seen them? He heard Jimmy Flynn mutter, “Wherever they are, we won’t find them tonight.” One by one the lights disappeared until only a solitary beam shone.
Author Bio ~
MJ is a lunch lady in the heart of Central Illinois. My gosh! Can you get more folksy than that? She met her husband at the University of Missouri-Columbia and now she has a nineteen-year-old (how did that happen?) and seventeen year old triplets! She loves to read, karaoke (where she can pretend she is a rock star) and spends WAY too much time on Facebook. She grew up in St. Louis and still has family there.