From history, with love

Today’s guest: romance author Liz Arnold.

First, would you tell us a bit about yourself? What area of the country do you live in, do you have a family, pets, etc.
–I live in the mid-east with my husband and children. I’m a freelance writer. I adore lavender.
 Tell us about your most recent publication.

 –The story begins in the spring of 1898 in Richmond, Virginia when Audra Wakely gets the distressing news that her father has been taken prisoner in Santiago de Cuba for aiding insurgents. Lt. Rollins McBride of the U.S. Navy is investigating Greg Wakely for treason against the U.S. because the government believes he has been supplying guns to the Spanish. Audra relectantly pairs with Rollins to go to Cuba even though she wants her father freed from jail and Rollins wants him in jail in the States. They arrive to uncover who is really causing the trouble for her father. In spite of their differences, Rollins gets a message of love from Audra that changes their lives forever.
What inspired you to write this story?
 –MESSAGE TO LOVE started out as a dream. A man on horseback was trying to deliver a message he had in a pouch tied around his chest. The image wouldn’t go away and I did some research which led me to write MESSAGE TO LOVE and set it during the Spanish-American War in 1898. I found a small book called “The Message To Garcia” written after the war telling of how President McKinley had a secret message delivered to General Calixto Garcia in Cuba to offer the assistance of U.S. forces to Cuban insurgents fighting for freedom from Spain. McKinley sent the message with a soldier and I wrote about a fictitious naval intelligence officer who aided with the soldier’s landing safely in Cuba.
How would you best describe your books?
 –I would describe my books as character driven love stories set against factual historical events with love scenes that don’t leave much to the imagination!
What is your favorite genre to write? To read?
–Historical romance novels set in just about any time period will get my attention to write and read. History is my favorite subject. My uncle was a school principal when I was ten years old and he brought a box of old textbooks to the house the end of the school year. I read every history text in the box and knew then I was going to write something that involved history.
My favorite author is Connie Mason whose characters, settings, and love stories have always inspired me.
What would you write if you could do write anything you wanted to write?
–I’m writing what I have always wanted to write, but my new goal is to write a steampunk romance novel.
What do you most like about writing? Least like? When did you first know you wanted to be an author?
–I knew in the fourth grade (about the time I read all those history textbooks) that I wanted to be an author. I wrote my first prize winning essay in the fourth grade about a conversation between tennis shoes in a dark box. It was just too easy for me. I wrote for the school newspapers and won awards for my high school writing, then I got a degree in journalism and have been a freelancer since 1982. I love writing because I love words. Everything about words from spelling to history to meaning fascinates me. It is a compulsion to string words together to tell a story. The thing I like the least about writing is that I can only write one story at a time. I don’t multi-task with writing very well because I think so much about a current writing project. That’s why I have to be really organized and accomplish things in a linear fashion.
Tell us a little about your path to publication. How many books have you published? How many books did you write before selling one?
–MESSAGE TO LOVE is the first romance novel I wrote and it’s also my first published novel. I wrote alot of freelance articles on my way to this publication. That experience helped me learn to write and work with editors.
How did you find a publisher? How did you receive the Call?

–Finding a publisher for me was a case of choosing which contract I wanted to go with because more than one company offered but not at the same time. I am constantly researching the market because the changes there also fascinate me and I’m interested in new ideas in publishing. When the ebook revolution came into full view, I knew it was the place for my out-of-the-box romance novel which pairs a multi-cultural heroine with an American hero in a time period that most traditional publishers didn’t want to consider.

What’s your favorite thing about the book featured here today? Any special memories you have in the creation of it?
–My favorite thing about MESSAGE TO LOVE is that it’s my first novel and it continues to inspire me to write and connect with readers. As far as a special memory, I did A LOT of research for this book including some travel. I didn’t have the money or the travel clearance to visit Cuba during the research and writing but the McKinley museum in Canton, Ohio was doable. I spent some really great days there doing research and learned quite a bit that went into the book like the explosion of the U.S.S. Maine in Havana harbour in February 1898 that caused America to consider the war effort in Cuba.

What are you writing now? What’s next for you—will you be making personal appearances anywhere our readers can find you?
–My current work-in-progress is a pioneer romance set in Marietta, Ohio just after the settlement of that colony. It has a smallpox epidemic, Indian captivity, and a mysterious night hunter who haunts French soldiers in the area. Rebecca is trained to be a doctor but the medical establishment in Baltimore won’t let a woman practice there and Romney was captured and raised by the Shawnee Indians in the Ohio Valley when he was ten years-old. They have freed him now that he is a grown man. They meet in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania when Rebecca is searching for a guide to take her to Marietta to join her family.
–I would love for readers to send me a SASE for a bookmark!
Liz Arnold
P.O. Box 1322
Parkersburg, WV 26102

What would you like to tell readers?
–Goddess bless readers-every single one of them! And help someone else read whenever you can (volunteer to teach reading, read in the schools, donate books to good causes that gives them to other readers for free not for resale, always be nice to librarians, and remember our service men and women.)
–Excerpt from MESSAGE TO LOVE, Liz Arnold
     “It was a dream, just a very bad dream.” She stepped back out of his hold. Clammy spots of moist heat lingered on her arms where his hands had been.
     “I’m all right now.” Audra reached for the door and noticed the sickly sweet odor of liquor on his breath. “You can leave now. I want to go back to bed.” She pulled open the door and gestured into the hall.
     “Sorry, but this time you’re going, too.” Rollins strode over to the dresser and pulled out a drawer. “Better pack. We have just under two hours.”
     “I’m not in the mood for comedy, Rollins,” she sighed. “I’m really very, very tired. I’ve got to get some rest. Now—”
     “Let me make myself clear.” He sounded gruff. “I said we’re leaving, and unless you want to get on a ship bound for Santiago with your shirttails hanging out, better change and get ready.” He made to leave the room. “I hope you have a shawl or something. It’s gotten cooler out, and we have half an hour in a wagon to get to port.” Then he vanished into his own room next door, leaving Audra gape-mouthed in the hallway.
     “Who does he think he is?” She growled as she stamped her foot against the cold hard floor. “Infuriating! He is absolutely infuriating!” Audra heaved the door shut with gusto. “These are not my shirttails, either!”
Visit my blog where Lyndi will be my guest next week!

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