A Port in the Storm tells of Margaret Ward, a klutzy young Boston socialite suddenly embroiled in scandal, who is forced to flee 1885 Boston’s comfort for the hardships of a Wyoming ranch. There she accepts the position of village schoolmarm. Ingenuous, spunky, and hell-bent on having her own way, she settles into her new routine while wreaking havoc on the routines of those around her.
She crosses swords with the School Board, passes out cold from too much spiked punch at a barn dance, and ends up nose to nose with a rattlesnake.
Although she displays a photograph of the man she left behind, she indulges in a mild flirtation with the ranch’s heir while exchanging verbal blows with the standoffish ranch foreman.
Will she survive having her beliefs challenged and her set of values overturned? Will she grow and change for the better in her new environment? And which of the three men in her life will she choose as her forever love?
“A Port in the Storm” is available at many online websites, including Amazon.com, Barnesandnoble.com, and Borders.com; and at local bookstores.
Tell us something about yourself.
I was born and raised in a farming community outside of Lanark, IL (pop. 1400), and currently live in a Chicago suburb. Divorced after a lengthy marriage, I am the mother of two: a son, Michael, (police officer) (Janice) and a daughter, Melinda (married to a police officer) (Chris); and the grandmother of two (for whom I provide child care on a part-time basis): Hunter, five years old, and Madeline, born three weeks ago. Besides that, I also work part-time at a small church, with bits and pieces of writing time squeezed somewhere in between.
Since I was a child, stray animals have always found their way to my door—and, from there, inside, to become part of the family—so local and national pet shelters and animal rescue organizations are dear to my heart. As are environmental causes and political issues. My son, who is a strait-laced conservative, laments the fact that Mom has gone so far to the left.
Family and friends provide the basic support for my life, with my cats, my plants, my books, and my ever-ready tea cup coming in as a close second. If you think of an Earth Mother, that’s me. Without any special powers.
What inspired you to write this book?
As a teenager, I was allowed to stay up late every Saturday night to watch war movies and westerns with my father. In those days, our black-and-white television provided us with only three or four channels, so program choice was limited. But, as long as Dad could catch John Wayne chasing the bad guys or lobbing a grenade at the enemy, he was happy. Thus, two of my four books (and another still in its infant stage) are historical romance, rich with western lore and strong, admirable western characters, as homage to Dad and those special times together.
All of my heroines, while involved in familiar, day-to-day routine, are suddenly faced with a crisis that turns their lives upside down. It’s their having to cope with adversity—and prevailing, to become more forceful, more capable, and more compassionate—that creates the story.
How did you choose the title?
“The Storm” refers to the upheaval of Margaret Ward’s life; “A Port” is her refuge…not only the man who becomes her forever love, but, eventually, her own newfound fortitude and courage.
What obstacles did you encounter in getting this book published? How did you overcome them?
For some ten years I’ve been afflicted with fibromyalgia, so having to combat pain and fatigue makes sitting down at the computer to do any creative work a real challenge sometimes. In this case, it isn’t so much overcoming as accepting and adapting.
How did you know you wanted to be a writer? How did you get started?
A long, long time ago, after seeing the first “Tarzan” movie on television, I decided that I could do a better job with the script. From then on, I was hooked. I wrote essays for English class and scribbled short stories when I could. School, marriage, motherhood, and an in-home accounting business took precedence over the writing career I had dreamed about, but even during the busiest days I was always able to steal some time to work on my latest project.
Do you have any writing rituals?
If this can be called a ritual, I do: I get up and leave the keyboard when I’m stuck for a word, a phrase, an idea. I find that doing some physical chore—putting away dishes, or using the vacuum, or watering plants—clears my head enough for inspiration to strike.
How do you come up with the names for your characters?
I rarely do research on what to call my characters. The names are just there, popping into my head as I need them, telling me who they are and what they’re all about. Often, I think titles and characters choose me, instead of the other way around. So then what choice do I have but to write about them?
Did you learn anything from writing and publishing this book? What?
That the quality of my writing has improved, from my first book to this one, my fourth. That makes for a great sense of satisfaction, because you know you’re on the right path. You’re growing. It’s great vindication for me against the naysayers, too.
If you were doing it all over again, what would you do differently?
Drink from the Fountain of Youth, so I would have more energy to write when I wanted to.
What types of books do you like to read? Who are your favorite authors? Why?
I have eclectic tastes, running the gamut from Agatha Christie’s mysteries to Dean Koontz’ horror novels to Diana Gabaldon’s time-traveler histories (although I question whether I’ll live long enough to see the end of her “Outlander” series). I adore the beautifully crafted sentences and plots of Anne Rivers Siddons, I enjoy Susan Elizabeth Phillips’ convoluted romances, and I occasionally re-read books by authors now out of fashion like Norah Lofts and Barbara Michaels.
Are you working on your next book? What can you tell us about it?
I am, indeed.
In “Recycled Romance,” Ellena Troy was abandoned at St. Veronica’s altar five years ago by her thirty-minute husband, without reason or excuse. Not long after, the nightmares started, only occasionally at first, then more frequently and more intensely as time went on.
Ellena tries to concentrate on building up her fledgling accounting business while she rebuilds her devastated life. But she is beginning to realize that, since her nightmares are the result of Donald’s disappearance, she must somehow track him down to resolve her predicament and find closure. Except she doesn’t know where he is.
Supporting Ellena’s efforts are her British friend, Wendy, a widow dabbling in mystical arts, and Brady, a man she recently met, who must deal with some pivotal issues of his own. Ellena’s once-mundane routine is further complicated by a buxom blond Malibu Barbie type named Anita, owner of Nita Nail? salon and a questionable past, along with a revolving door full of neighbors and clients.
Late night phone hang-ups, a businessman with a grudge, and Ellena’s perilous car crash can’t keep her from a determined search for the missing Donald…and an understanding at last of her past and her present.
What is the best advice you could give other writers about writing or publishing?
Don’t ever give up. Keep going, keep trying, and don’t ever give up.
Who is the perfect reader for your book?
How about anyone? Anyone, that is, old enough to appreciate descriptive writing, intriguing characters, and a plot with a twist. “A Port in the Storm” provides female readers with romance and male readers with history and plenty of action.
Where can readers learn more about you and your book?
Also, you may Google my name for more reviews and information.