Fellow Wild Rose Press author, Carol Henry, is visiting here today to share a little about her current release, Shanghai Connection, a romantic suspense adventure with The Wild Rose Press.
Welcome, Carol! Tell us about Shanghai Connection.
After visiting China’s Middle Kingdom of Heaven and then writing travel features about the Chinese tea fields—All the Tea in China for Princess Cruises Discovery, I knew I had to place my next characters in this magical setting. The hardest part was not having them travel across the entire country that I fell in love with, trying to incorporate all the wonderful Chinese nuances, and not lose site of the story itself. Once I got started, it wrote itself. Blurbs are so hard for me to write because I don’t want to leave anything out, but I hope this one is enticing enough for readers to want to experience the romantic adventures that Brooke and Jackson faced while making a HEA Shanghai Connection! The wonderful cover for Shanghai Connection is by The Wild Rose Press’s Kim Mendoza.
Blurb: After the tragic loss of her child and a messy divorce, Brooke Stevens jumps at the opportunity for a fresh start as a researcher in China. But when she witnesses a murder, she becomes the killer’s next target—and only a handsome American stranger stands between her and deadly peril.
Ex-military commando Jackson Taylor isn’t ready to settle down and take over the family tea business, but when he learns someone is using the plantation to smuggle Chinese antiquities into America, he vows to investigate. In Shanghai, Jackson stumbles across a murder, and is pulled into the danger pursuing fascinating Brooke Stevens.
Together, they uncover an intricate smuggling ring and evade kidnappers, but their growing attraction is impossible to deny. Will myths, dragons, and mystical warnings keep them apart? Or, can they make a Shanghai connection?
What inspired this story? What are you working on now? Do you have any releases scheduled for this year?
Obviously, my month-long trip to China was the biggest inspiration for this story. That, and knowing there was a Tea Plantation here in the U.S. so that I could ‘connect’ the two. When I start to write my novels, I search for an honest-to-goodness current event in the country that came about, then build on that aspect, ‘connecting’ my characters to an occupation, a conflict, and a place where they can meet and get into trouble. In each of my novels’ themes: Destination: Romance—Exotic, Romantic Suspense Adventures, the heroine works for the Wild and Wonderful Corporation out of NY—a grassroots organization which is the background and ‘connection’ that enables my character to butt heads up against each other.
I have to qualify that my novels are not a platform for ‘saving the trees’—it’s simply a platform to ‘connect’ my characters. In Amazon Connection, my first novel, Holly was sent to Brazil to monitor an Engineering Company that was laying a pipeline through the rainforest. Jake was sent by the company to check out the two engineers that were suspected of money laundering, and check up on the rep from Wild and Wonderful-thought to be involved in the scheme. In Shanghai Connection, Brooke is hired by Wild and Wonderful to obtain proof that water from the Three Gorge Dam project was having an adverse affect on the Tea Fields in China, while Jackson’s father sent him to China to find out who their plantation manager was working with in smuggling antiquities through their family business. In my next novel in progress—Rio Connection—Marcia, Wild and Wonderful’s Administrative Assistant, finds herself caught up in the suspenseful adventures to prove her brother is not responsible for selling his boss’ high tech computer games to the Japanese.
What do you enjoy most about writing? Where do you start when writing? Research, plotting, character, or…?
Of course I enjoy the travel J. Who wouldn’t. And I’m lucky enough that my husband likes to travel too. I have to watch my luggage weight when I come home because it is usually filled with books, pamphlets, postcards, newspapers, and anything else I can get my hands on to write my travel articles, and novels. My filing cabinets are so overflowing with travel ‘stuff’ that I’ve reverted to banker-boxes neatly labeled under my work table. And thankfully the digital camera holds thousands of pictures.
As for the writing aspect of things, I’m a plotter, and organizer, and I keep a notebook. I combine several processes including Goal, Motivation, and Conflict by Debra Dixon, and The Marshall Plan by Evan Marshall. I’ve made up my own worksheets, color code everything, and set up tabs. I’ve taken an on-line class with Karen Docter—The ‘W’ Plot which helps me pull it all together. However, I must say I really enjoy the editing process–playing with the words, adding scenes, and seeing it all come together is a high. The grammar part—not so much!
What did you learn from writing your first book or what do you wish you’d known before becoming published?
Writing my first book was such a big learning experience that I almost let it go. I almost gave up on it, even though I had several very big nibbles. The biggest thing I learned was to trust in yourself, your writing ability, and not let others hold you back. Let your own creativity shine, stick to your principles, your ideals, and write the story you want to write.
How do you balance writing and everyday life? What is your favorite scene from this story and why?
This is a tough one. I’m extremely organized, goal oriented, but my family lives all around me. And with two elderly mothers who don’t drive, aging, and having health problems, my husband and I are constantly on call 24/7. Thankfully, we do have siblings that help out. Still, trying to write around constant interruption is difficult. My favorite time to write is in the morning before the world wakes up, or very late at night when the phone doesn’t ring. Even though I don’t sit at the computer and actually write every day, my mind is always plotting something so that when I do sit down, the words flow. I find that I can do amazing plot points while sitting in the hospital waiting room, doctor’s office, or in the car (when I’m not driving). And, I keep a tablet next to my bed at night for when I wake up and have spectacular ideas I don’t want to forget in the morning. One such ‘wake-up’ idea was to have Madam Choy (in Shanghai Connection) preformed a Three Tea Ceremony where Brooke had to come to terms with her ex-husband’s deceit and her infant son’s death. I sat up the rest of the night reading about tea ceremonies and got up the next day and wrote the entire scene. I think it’s one of my favorite scenes. Which brings me to one of my memories from childhood—my grandmother read tea leaves. She actually predicted that I would fly over a large body of water. Wasn’t long afterwards, that I got married and flew over to Germany to join my husband, who was in the Air Force. We lived there three years—travelled Europe and got stung by the travel bug.
My life has been all about connections. Is it any wonder that I write about connections. When I submitted Amazon Connection, it was a working title and I assumed the editors would change it. Nope. Just goes to show that it was meant to be another ‘connection’ in my life.
Where is your favorite place in the world?
I’ve traveled around the world to a lot of exotic, beautiful countries, my husband has had offers to move out of New York State, had opportunities to move several times, and we’ve made a lot of wonderful friends that we wish lived closer to us, but we both love coming back home. Living in the country, surrounded by family, and friends and a very caring community, this is truly my most favorite place in the world.
What do you like to read?
Romance, of course J. I like a bit of suspense, but not over the top thrillers.
These are few of my favorite things:
The Wild and Wonderful World Around Me
Brooke spun around to face Jackson, her hands on her hips, her breasts heaving with every breath. She’d had just about enough of doing what everyone expected of her and having no control over her own life. Well, no more! She pointed her finger at him and tapped his chest. Hard.
“What do you mean life or death? I’m so sick to death of death, you have no idea. I’m sick to death of dragons, tea ceremonies, and men who think I’m stupid, irresponsible, and…and…”
Oh, lordy, she was going to cry.
Jackson circled his hand around her fingers and drew her close. His other arm was warm and secure on her back as he drew her closer still. He pressed his cheek against her hair, and then touched his lips to her temple.
Oh, my God! Did he just kiss her?
Brooke wanted to step away in the worst way, but once again, his closeness was a haven to be reckoned with. She should fight the feeling streaming through her. Yes, she was afraid. Of him. Of herself. It would be so easy to sink into his arms. But she had to fight it. What was it about him that bothered her the most? The fact he might be involved in the murder she’d witnessed? That he suspected she’d witnessed the murder? Or the fact that she found him much too attractive?
She shivered. He drew her closer. She shut her eyes to try to stem the flow of tears.
He continued to rub her back, his hand sliding up into her hair, her head now secure in his hold. She didn’t realize she was crying, or oh, my…how had her arms become wrapped around him?
This wasn’t good. Well, it felt wonderful, but…
“I’m sorry,” he whispered, his voice deep and seductive. “I didn’t mean to scare you. But I’m afraid we might be in a bit of trouble.”
Babette, thanks so much for hosting me today. It was a real pleasure to be here.
Carol lives with her husband in the beautiful New York State Finger Lakes area, where they are surrounded by family and friends. Carol is a member of Romance Writers of America since 1984, and a member and past president of Southern Tier Authors of Romance since 2001. She and her husband took an early retirement from Cornell University to travel the world. As world travelers, and travel writer, Carol writes about her visits to exotic locations for major cruise lines’ deluxe in-cabin books, and takes pleasure in sharing her adventures with her readers in her suspense adventure novels. Amazon Connection was released in 2009, and her most recent novel Shanghai Connection has just been released. Both are available in digital or print through The Wild Rose Press, Amazon.com. Carol is also a New York State local historian for her town and has written several books on the subject.
Find Carol At:
Find Shanghai Connection at:
Amazon.com and Kindle Store