Today I’m interviewing fellow Soul Mate Publishing author, Lauren Linwood, about her new novel, A Game of Chance.
Q: How long have you been writing?
A: This may sound odd, but I was writing before I could write! I believe writing is all about telling stories, and I did that from a young age—before I even knew how to read—much less capture a story on paper. I had a ton of stuffed animals and dolls, and I would make up stories for them to “act” out. Those earliest memories of storytelling are the beginnings of my creating characters and plots.
I did write a novel while in college and banished it to the top shelf in my closet because I didn’t feel I was ready to share it with anyone. Then a few years ago, I found a few other talented ladies that had a passion for writing. We formed a critique group, and I got serious about my writing and wanting to sell.
Q: Tell us about your road to publication.
A: I attended the Lone Star Conference in Houston in October of 2012 and landed an appointment with Soul Mate Publishing’s founder and editor-in-chief, Debby Gilbert. I had ten minutes to sell her on my story, a medieval historical romance. She asked to see the entire manuscript, which I emailed her the very next morning. Two weeks later, she offered me my first publishing contract for Music For My Soul. It came out in 2013, along with my western historical romance, Outlaw Muse. In 2014, I’ve just released A Game of Chance, and Written in the Cards will come out in May.
Q: What advice would you give an aspiring author?
A: First and foremost? Read a lot—different authors and different genres—and write as much as you possibly can. Writing is like a muscle that needs lots of exercise. The more you use it, the more comfortable you’ll become with it, and the more you’ll enjoy writing.
I’d also recommend attending writing workshops or conferences so that you can learn as much as possible about your craft. And for me, I needed the feedback of a critique group which meets regularly. I was always the good girl in school and did my homework. I look at going to critique group in the same way—I want to bring my best effort to the table each time we meet and not show up unprepared. I also learn so much from reading my partners’ writing.
Q: Tell us about your latest release.
A: I’ve always had fond memories of visiting San Francisco and decided to use the city as the setting for a book. After the Civil War, San Francisco was quite a cosmopolitan town for this era, and I thought having a book take place there would make it a Western—but with a twist. I coupled that with the phrase “separated at birth,” which gets tossed about all the time. I decided to take it literally and have a young woman give birth to twin boys who are separated and raised three thousand miles apart. They have no idea the other one exists, and they’ll clash in a big way twenty-five years later.
Gambler Jed Stone journeys to California to track down Simon Morgan, the man responsible for his best friend’s death. Arrested for robbery and murder upon arrival, Jed is shocked to see his face on a wanted poster. He escapes before his hanging, unaware that the man guilty of those crimes is the twin brother he never knew existed. In a case of mistaken identity, Jed acquires the most famous whorehouse in San Francisco in a rigged card game his twin is meant to win.
Lily Frontiere takes over running Lucky Lil’s from her dying mother, the house madam who shielded her by sending her away to boarding school. Lily’s intelligence and astonishing resemblance to her mother help in her charade, but she’s entered a world she knows little about. She clashes with the handsome stranger who turns up with the deed to Lucky Lil’s in hand, yet she is attracted to the charming risk taker.
But Simon Morgan seeks both Lily’s hand and ownership of Lucky Lil’s—and he will go to any means to possess both. Will Jed foil his nemesis while bringing his outlaw brother to justice and win Lily’s love?
“Might I recommend a certain girl to you, or are you here for a game of chance?”
The low voice came from his left. Jed turned to see a raven-haired woman with hard eyes staring up at him. She was pretty in a garish way. Heavy make-up made it impossible to discern her age. Her eyes, rimmed with thick, black eyeliner, glittered like amber. Bright red lipstick and rouge made her pale skin even paler.
“I’m Lil. What can I do for you?”
“A friend recommended the place. I’d like a woman and a room for the night.”
The madam frowned at him. “I can provide the first easily, but you’ll have to be out by three. House policy.”
He shook his head in amazement. “You’re joking.”
Lil glared daggers in return. “I never joke about business, ma cherie.”
She gestured to the Indian who’d received him. He stepped immediately to her side.
The man nodded and headed up the staircase.
“You’ll like Gertie. Actually, she’ll like you. She has a thing for men with intense blue eyes.” Lil sized him up. “She also likes them tall. A little cleaner than you, but I’ll send up hot water. I’m sure you’d like to freshen up after a long ride. You have just arrived in town?”
Jed fought the chill that raced through him. Lil was one wise cookie. “Hot water would be much appreciated.”
A petite blonde flew down the stairs, holding her red skirts high to show off trim ankles and more than a little of her calves. She stopped directly in front of him. “Ooh, Lil, he’s a looker, even with the grime.” She slipped her arm possessively through his. “Come on, sugar. We can think of all kinds of things to do between now and three.”
Gertie guided him up the steps. As they moved higher, Jed surveyed the open room off to the right, seeing gaming tables. Suddenly he froze.
Simon Morgan was here, in San Francisco, right at Lucky Lil’s.
Buy Link: A Game of Chance
Lauren Linwood became a teacher who wrote on the side to maintain her sanity in a sea of teenage hormones. Her romances use history as a backdrop to place her characters in extraordinary circumstances, where their intense desire and yearning for one another grow into the deep, tender, treasured gift of love.
Lauren, a native Texan, lives in a Dallas suburb with her family. An avid reader, moviegoer, and sports fan, she manages stress by alternating yoga with five mile walks. She is thinking about starting a support group for Pinterest and House Hunters addicts.