Archive for June 20th, 2012

Margaret Hamilton escaped the Irish slums of Five Points as the ward of a wealthy Manhattan widow, but only marriage can make her future secure. Railroad mogul Doyle Kerrigan needs a well-connected wife. It seems a perfect match…until a shocking revelation sends her fleeing from the wedding reception.

Desperate to make a fresh start, Margaret takes on a new identity and heads West, finally stopping in Heartbreak Creek, Colorado, a dying mining town of little interest to anyone. Here, she finds new purpose, beloved friends to replace the family she’s lost, and a home at last.

But two men from Margaret’s past are on her trail. One is seeking vengeance, the other truth. When they both arrive in Heartbreak Creek, she must choose between the town she has come to love, and the man who might finally capture her heart…. 


NT: Hi Kaki! Thank you for being my guest today.


Great to be here.  And my thanks to you for giving me a chance to pimp my book.


NT: When did you know you wanted to be a writer? How long did it take for you to make your first sale?

The answer to both those questions is about twenty-five years.  I had just spent good money and several hours of my life reading a truly crappy book and thought I could do better.  It took me a quarter of a century (off and on), but eventually I did.  When I finally got the courage to send it out, it took about three months to get an agent and a contract. I was lucky.  Hardheaded, maybe.  But lucky.

NT: You have a new release this month, BRIDE OF THE HIGH COUNTRY, Book 3 in your Runaway Brides Trilogy. Can you tell us about it?

The first book in this series, HEARTBREAK CREEK, was sweet.  The second, COLORADO DAWN, was fun.  This third one, BRIDE OF THE HIGH COUNTRY, was hard as hell, both emotionally and structurally.  Not only did it deal with an icky subject (child exploitation), it also presented real problems in continuity.  The first part of the story was fine—the heroine’s NY society wedding, then her flight from the groom on a train headed west.  But when she arrives in Heartbreak Creek and meets the other women, and since all their stories run concurrently, I had to do some heavy weaving covering ground from the first two books to make sure the reader was up to date and to establish continuity.  On top of that, I had to keep the romance going and growing even though the hero and heroine were half-a-continent apart for several chapters.  (Thank God for the Pony Express and Western Union).  PLUS, I’m a quarter of the way into the book when I realize the man I thought was the hero was really a prime jerk and the other guy was the REAL hero.  Clearly, I’m insane.  But despite all that, I love these characters.  I hope the reader will love them, too, and forgive Lucinda for being a bit cold in the other two books.  (She has reason, I promise).  And the love of a good man will break through that icy armor and help her become the woman she was destined to be.  (This is a romance, remember.)

NT: Do you have a writing routine? What is your average writing day like?

Up by seven.  At the computer until my husband calls me to breakfast.  Back to the computer (or if I’m feeling perky—out of my jammies, then back to the computer.)  Occasional walks to and from the bathroom, phone calls offering “such a deal today” on items I don’t want, more food prepared by my husband, more time at the computer.  Pretty boring life, even for retired folks, but I bet you can see the pattern there.  I’m not cooking, or doing housework.  How fabulous is that?  Pretty damn fabulous, I say.  And as soon as I teach DH about the HEALTHY proportions of fats and sugars and carbs, it’ll be even more fabulous.  Then all I’ll have to do is teach him how to dust and vacuum… As for the writing, I aim for 13 to 15 hours a day, edit as I go, 20 polished pages a week.  And a maid.  Maybe a gardener.  It’s a good life.

NT: Is there anyone you use as a sounding board when you’re stuck on a scene?

I have several.  My daughter handles the “cheese meter” and reins me in when I get too flowery, or cutesy, and romancy.  My husband keeps me on track with technical stuff like construction, railroads, machinery or weapons.  My neighbor, who cries at ANYTHING, is my reminder to think like a woman.  I tend to identify more strongly with my male characters and have a low tolerance for sissy-whiney-crybaby women (except for Cyndi, of course).  It’s her job to remind me to put on a dress and be nice.  And then there’s me.  I read aloud every word to check for redundancies, anachronisms, dialogue miscues.  Generally I’m much harder on myself than they are, as well I should be.  And finally, there’s my agent (a brilliant editor, too) and my editor (discerning woman that she is).  So my ass is covered by many varied layers.

NT: What was the most interesting thing you had to research and what was the hardest thing to research?

Since I raised horses, the most interesting thing I came across was the Great Epizootic of 1872, when twenty-five million horses died in three months from equine influenza.  The results from such a massive die-off of our main mode of transportation was to cripple the country—no coal was brought to locomotives, no ship’s cargoes were unloaded, no fire wagons were pulled (Boston lost eight hundred buildings to fire), Indian wars were fought on foot, doctors couldn’t make their rounds, produce couldn’t get to market.  It was a mess.  (And almost as interesting as learning that condoms were invented in the 1850s by Charles Goodyear.  Ouch.)  The hardest thing to research was the Irish potato famine.  I had no idea how horribly those poor people suffered, and how badly they were treated by their own government (England).  Then they came to America hoping to do better, and those that didn’t die on the “coffin ships” were treated even worse.  Really, really sad.

NT: When not busy writing, what do you like to do in your spare time? (If there is such a thing *G*)

Get out of my jammies before noon, for one.  Travel, visit my grandkids, buy cookbooks for my husband that he won’t read, garden, sleep.  It’s not an exciting life.  Still, I wouldn’t trade it.

NT: What are the latest additions to your TBR? What are you most eager to read?

I’d love to find time to finish Genevieve Graham’s SOUND OF THE HEART.  She’s a wonderful new writer.  Other than required reading (for cover quotes, editing my own stuff, answering emails, etc.), I hardly ever get to just sit down and read any more.  Kinda sad.

NT: Any advice to aspiring authors? What craft books helped you that you would recommend to aspiring writers?

Join a critique group.  You’ll learn as much (or more) critiquing others than in getting your own stuff critiqued.  Seriously consider half of it, keep a fourth of that and throw out the rest.  Enter contests.  Read your stuff aloud.  If writers’ conferences and/or writing books make you feel stupid, then avoid them.  I remember sitting through one workshop and coming away thinking, Holy crap!  I never thought of that.  What else have I missed?  Took me a month to get my confidence back.  But mostly, writers should write, be forgiving of themselves (it’s an evolving process, so give yourself time to learn), and NEVER give up.  Make your characters real—they don’t have to be perfect, but they have to STRIVE to be better.  Just like you.  Love them.  Because if you don’t love your characters, how can you expect an agent or editor to?  And finally, honor your readers—they’re investing time and money to read what you have to say, so give them the best of yourself.

NT: What can your fans look forward to from you in the near future? What are you working on now?

I just signed a contract with Berkley/Penguin for three more books set in Heartbreak Creek.  We’ll be visiting the same characters from the previous three books, but adding new folks and a new romance in each book.  There was just too much unfinished business in the first three, and since these characters are like family, I want to see what they’re up to now.  Like what’s the deal with Thomas and Pru?  And did the town get saved?  Did the railroad come through?  How did they fix the water problem?  And just how long is Edwina going to stay pregnant, for heaven’s sake?  Burning questions that thinking readers want answered.

NT: If someone has not read any of your books, which would be the one you’d recommend they try first?

The first book in each trilogy, since that sets the tone, introduces the setting and characters, and lets the reader know what they’re in for.  The Blood Rose Trilogy is very different from the Brides Novels.  If a reader doesn’t like the first one, he/she won’t like the rest.  But if you’re really asking which is my favorite…I can’t answer that.  PIECES OF SKY was a twenty-five year labor of love (Brady’s my guy).  Yet the men in the Brides Novels have captured my heart.  On the other hand, how can you not love big, sweet, brilliant Hank?  Or laughing Jack? They’re all my babies, and I love them all the same…but different.

NT: How can readers contact you?

kaki@kakiwarner.com.  Or through Facebook and twitter.  I have the most amazing readers who have sent so many generous, kind, and encouraging emails.  I doubt any of them know how much it means to a writer to hear from a satisfied reader.   It makes the long, solitary hours, and all the fretting and worry worthwhile. I thank all of you.

NT: Thanks for being our guest today!

Thanks for having me.  And if anyone wants to read an excerpt of any of my books, go to www.kakiwarner.com.  Meanwhile, I wonder how many of you reading this are fans of western historical romance?  If so, what do you like best about the genre?  If not, what has turned you off?  Leave a comment and your name will be entered in the drawing for a copy of BRIDE OF THE HIGH COUNTRY.   And thanks for coming by.



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He presses his palm against her flank, feeling the liquid warmth of her blood, hotter than her skin. Hot, like the passion that burns inside the human beast. Hot, like the life force he has claimed.

Someone is murdering women on South Carolina’s college campuses: three women, three different schools. The Governor’s order to State Law Enforcement Agent Mick O’Shaughnessy is simple: make it stop. More political maneuvering diverts Mick to nearby Douglass College. There, instead of another dead body, he finds Meg Connelly, grad student and faculty advisor for the latest victim.

Determined to finish her master’s degree, Meg doesn’t need anybody’s help – including her estranged family – to succeed. There’s something irresistible about Mick, but the last time she let someone get close to her, she lost everything except her self-respect.

As the investigation heats up, so does their relationship. But Mick’s interest in Meg doesn’t just endanger her heart—it puts her in the sights of the killer.

Once he gets her alone, he can take all the time he needs…


“Ball of Confusion” – a song about people overwhelmed by a changing world, changing technology. The music world has changed dramatically. How many of you are old enough to remember phonograph records? Big round disc of vinyl? Played music, sometimes with hisses and pops, but the purists insist the sound was better.


Remember the flap over CDs and digital music? I have a big box of albums—the vinyl kind—in my store room. I carry about 10,000 songs—and a couple of audiobooks—with me on my iPod.


I’ve watched the same uproar over the shift to digital books. Have you heard this? “I only read real books.”


It usually comes from someone vehemently refusing to consider a digital book but hmmm, isn’t the “book” the story? The rest is just a delivery mechanism.


I chose to accept an offer for my Golden Heart finalist, The Professor, from Carina Press. Carina was just starting as the new digital imprint from Harlequin. Why would I want to publish an E-book when—to be honest—I’d dreamed of seeing my book on a shelf? Simple. I wanted to share a story I loved with readers rather than leave it stuck under the bed.


Carina offered a chance to learn some of the crazy new world and expectations of a newly published author, with Harlequin’s resources available. The author loop is hugely supportive and the staff at Carina provides everything from cover art (aren’t the Carina covers great?) to webinars on Social Media, website design and marketing updates. My editor, Denise Nielsen was a joy to work with.


Let me dust off my murky crystal ball and peer into the future. Looks like there will always be physical books, but the digital revolution will keep moving forward. Readers want stories.


It’s been a pleasure chatting with you today. I have a few minutes before my next appointment. I think I’ll pull out my Nook. Which of the 247 stories on it am I in the mood for today?


What’s on your reading list – today or this summer?



Frank dropped the Greenville News onto the kitchen counter in Mick’s condo. “I got your paper.”

“Thanks.” Mick didn’t lift his eyes from the laptop on his dining room table. Normally he worked in the small bedroom he’d converted to an office, but the case files had outgrown the space. He typed in his password and waited for the computer to finish loading.

“Man, does your neighbor always dress like that to get her paper?”

Oh, jeez, Mrs. Wilcox strikes again, he silently groaned. The good mood that sleeping in his own bed and an hour at the gym had produced evaporated. He stared at the computer, urging it to start faster.

“It wasn’t so much what she was wearing, as what she wasn’t.”

He sighed. Frank wasn’t going to leave it alone until he responded. “What was she wearing this time?”

His partner rocked on his toes. Enthusiasm lit his voice. “She had on this little-bitty robe over a baby-doll gown. It was that kinda sheer material, you know, where you can see, but not really.”

“Hmm.” He focused on the laptop and launched the database program.

“That’s the best you can do? ‘Hmm’? What is wrong with you, O’Shaughnessy? She’s hot. I mean, she has these tits…”

He rolled his eyes. Frank was pantomiming cantaloupes or maybe watermelons. “Go for it. She’s not my type.”

“Your type?” Frank asked, incredulous.

“Yeah. As in Barbie has no brain.”

“Who cares?” The man’s hands rose and fell in exasperation.

Mick ignored him and opened the car file.

“Christ. Sexy woman throws herself at him and he bitches ’cause she isn’t a nuclear scientist.” He opened a cabinet, grabbed a mug, and poured coffee. “You’re out of sugar again.”

“There’s Sweet’N Low.”

Frank made a face, but emptied several packets into his mug. He moved to the refrigerator and stood in front of the open door.

Mick shot a concerned glance into the kitchen. Frank had been making too many comments like that lately. But what was he supposed to ask? Was everything okay between Marilyn and him? Was he thinking about having an affair? Their relationship didn’t work that way. Frank meddled in his life, not the other way around. His partner was supposed to be the solid, married man.

Frank pulled out the milk carton, sniffed and grimaced. “This is pathetic.” He examined and replaced a carton of orange juice. “What’s this?” He lifted a white container as if it might contain anthrax.

He leaned back so he could see what the guy held. “Probably leftover Thai. You might not want to eat it.”

“Do you have anything in here that didn’t die last week?”

“I haven’t been here. The apples and those little carrots in the bottom drawer are okay.” He’d had a handful for breakfast, along with a bagel he found in the freezer. “I need to go to the grocery store this afternoon.”

Frank grimaced and closed the refrigerator. He opened cabinets and finally found a box of Triscuits. “You want more coffee?”

He shook his head, his eyes never leaving the DMV records scrolling down the screen. “There are over two hundred thousand lines in this file. I had no idea there were so many old cars around here.”

“Half of them are in my neighbor’s yard,” Frank replied around a mouthful of crackers. He leaned against the counter, scanning the front page while he crunched noisily. “You see this?”

“You just brought the paper in.”

Frank held it up and Mick glanced at the headline.

“The Professor, huh?”

“Yeah, he’s made the big time. Bastard has a name now. I’m sure he’s rejoicing, wherever the asshole is.”

“Damn. If the TV people use it on the news tonight, we’ll be stuck with it. Anything interesting in the article?”

“Let’s see…rehash of the press conference. Wasn’t that fun? Here we go, unnamed sources…believe he’s a professor at one of the local colleges. Is that official now?” Frank looked up, an amused expression on his face. “Where do they get this stuff?”

“Did Terri Blankenship write the article?”

Frank glanced at the paper. “How’d you know?”

“Rumor has it Andersen’s sleeping with her.”

“Ouch. Talk about sleeping with the enemy.”

“No kidding. I wonder what else he’s leaking to her. And don’t even say what you’re thinking.”

“Yeah, yeah. I guess we’ll find out tomorrow.” Frank dropped the newspaper on the counter. “How do you want to tackle the car?”

“All we have are reports of a coupe or sports car and a big engine. No one actually got a real description.” Mick’s fingers tried to smooth the tension from his forehead. He’d had a headache for days. He propped his elbows on the table, thumbs at the hinge of his jaw, fingers cradling his head. Their one clue was turning into a grain of sand on a wide Carolina beach.

Frank wandered into the dining room and peered over Mick’s shoulder.

He angled the screen so Frank could see the information. “Let’s see how many we can get rid of. If we ignore the generic Chevy and Ford four-door sedans, that cuts it nearly in half.”

“Get rid of all the trucks too,” the other agent suggested.

Mick further narrowed the list by excluding the foreign cars. He paged through the remaining records. “Corvettes didn’t have big enough trunks to conceal a body.”

“Thunderbirds were clubby boats by then,” Frank said. “They had big engines, but they weren’t cool enough for our guy to be driving one now.”

“The clerk did say it was a coupe.”

“You were what in the eighties? Two? Three? I was in college. I can’t believe that was thirty years ago.” Frowning, Frank drummed his fingers on the table. “What were the tough guys driving?”

“British cars were hot when I was in high school.” Mick stretched, remembering a time that seemed so simple in retrospect. “Old Triumphs and MGs. Jeeps and Blazers were big. Lots of four-by-fours. As far as domestics went, we’re talking Mustangs, Camaros or Trans Ams.”

“They’ve been around a long time. Seems like they were big when I was in high school too.”

There were thousands of them. He cursed the mild South Carolina climate that didn’t turn cars into rusting hulks, eaten away by salt like the cars of the Northeast and Midwest. They’d have to find and investigate the owners of each car.

Frank hung over his shoulder. “It would help if they’d included the exterior color.”

Mick’s attention caught on the Vehicle Identification Number. “The manufacturer would have everything—including the original body color and interior package. Clark said the fibers were old. They could be the original carpets.”

“Good idea,” his partner nodded. “It’s possible he repainted the car, but we can at least start with the shorter list.”

Mick’s fingers danced over the keys, sorting the remaining cars by maker, then model, and sent each manufacturer the relevant VIN list, requesting specifications. As much publicity as this case had generated, he knew he’d have no trouble getting the information.

The message list refreshed with the outgoing requests, and the incoming message tone sounded.

“That was quick.”

“‘File received’ confirmations,” Mick said. He pointed at the screen. “Who’s Kevin Rynd?” The message subject line read, “Investigation.”

“Agnes Scott address. Did we talk to him when we interviewed people at the college after Baldwin’s murder?”

“I don’t think so.” Mick opened the message.


Miss Geiger—Emily, since I have been intimate with her—is not young and beautiful any longer. Such is the cost of war. Soldiers die, women break. She is not the first, nor will she be the last.


What the hell was this?


Emily foolishly believed in her own abilities. Women have neither the strength of mind nor body to compete with men. Soon they will recognize this and return to their subservient position—the one they have held throughout history as man’s property and indulgence.


“My God,” he murmured. “Read this.”

He turned the laptop so Frank could see the screen. “The asshole’s sending me e-mail now.”


At the end, Emily’s struggles were pathetic, but her fear, her terror, was very real.


Anger clamped Mick’s jaw like a vise. The contemptuous bastard.


You understand the exhilaration of wielding authority over others.


What? Was this scumbag trying to draw a comparison with what the police did?


But you can’t imagine the bliss, the rapture, of holding the scales of life itself. Will Emily die today? Or tomorrow? Or should I show mercy to the vanquished? Why should I? Emily signed her own fate when she haughtily assumed random, genetically provided features afforded her special compensations.

What about the next one? Shall she die, as well? It is not her decision. It is up to you. It will be on your conscience, not mine.


Don’t lay that on me, you asshole. Even as he rejected it, Mick felt the taunt hit home.


How confident are you of your abilities? You stand at the fringes of my battles, my successes, looking manly and proud, but we know it is a charade. You follow my lead, waiting for any bread crumbs I deign to throw your way. I have the upper hand—and I’m laughing at you.


“Jesus,” Frank said.

“Amen,” Mick answered.


To find out more about Cathy Perkins, visit cperkinswrites.com. And for a chance to win The Professor, let Cathy know what’s on your reading list!

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