Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Guest Post: Memory of Roses by Blair McDowell

Today's guest is Blair McDowell, author of The Memory of Roses, a novel of mystery and romance. Here is a brief blurb of her new book:

          The Greek island of Corfu unearths the enduring love stories of two generations of the McQuaid family. First, renowned archaeologist Ian McQuaid meets the love of his life while recuperating from an illness contracted during a dig in Crete. Even though he is married, his wife had not been a passionate partner for many years, and the appearance of the stunning Maria Calbrese was a miracle sent to him at the lowest point in his life.
Then a generation later, Ian’s daughter Brit travels to Corfu after his death. He left Brit a note disclosing that he owned a villa on Corfu, and that when he was there he had fallen in love with a woman named Maria while still married to Brit’s mother. He asked Brit to deliver a package to Maria, who he thought lived somewhere in Venice. Determined to fulfill her father’s requests and return quickly to the US, Brit’s plan is soon derailed. She meets archaeologist Dr. Andreas Leandros who looks like the Greek gods of ancient times, and her own damaged heart begins to come alive.
What does the mysterious package contain, and how will Brit find Maria as requested by her father? Will finding her change Brit’s life? Will she manage to preserve her bond with Andreas, or will she return to the US to live out her life without him?

Blair McDowell wrote her first short story when she was eleven and hasn’t stopped writing since. After many years producing non-fiction professional books in her field, Blair decided to exercise her rich imagination and write novels of mystery and romance set in places she knows and loves, peopled with characters drawn from her experiences in those locales.
One of her favorite places in the world is Greece, the setting for The Memory of Roses, Blair McDowell’s latest novel. While in Greece, Blair was inspired by the ancient culture, friendly people and the picturesque settings, and the plot for The Memory of Roses was born.
Blair has a home on a remote island in the Caribbean where the local lore of the ‘Jumbie’ (‘the dead who walk’) formed the basis for her novel of that name.
The setting for Blair McDowell’s book, ‘Sonata’, is the spectacular city of Vancouver with its vibrant multicultural population and its rich musical life. In ‘Sonata’, Blair McDowell’s love of music comes into play, and is intricately woven into this story of mystery and romance.
Blair is a member of the Romance Writers of America, Romance Writers of America (Greater Vancouver Chapter), and the Romance Writers of America (Women's Fiction).
Welcome Blair!

Confessions of a Hopeless Romantic

The Memory of Roses is now out in both e-book format and in paperback. It’s been a long journey and I’ve had a lot of help along the way.

In my previous life, I had a successful career as a university professor. I wrote six professional books and countless articles in my field and had no difficulty finding a publisher for any of these. Somehow I thought when I retired and turned to something I had always wanted to do—writing romantic fiction—it would be the same. I would write my book, send it off to one of the big five publishers in New York and they would send me a letter full of praise and a contract by return mail.

A friend of mine, a long time writer of fiction, said, “I hope you’re into rejection.”

My first book was rejected, as it should have been. I knew nothing about the craft of writing fiction. Of staying within my character’s point of view, writing believable dialogue, pacing and plotting so that crisis points happened neither too soon nor too late, developing characters that lived and breathed; my ignorance of all these things was abysmal. I somehow thought that all my years as a voracious reader of fiction would enable me to write it.

That’s rather like thinking that years of attending symphony concerts would enable one to play the French horn.

I knew I had to go back and acquire the skills necessary to writing fiction. I took courses, read books on craft, and joined the Romance Writers of America, devouring every issue of their journal, Romance Writer’s Report, from cover to cover. I entered contests and used the judges’ comments in revising my work. I put my works-in-progress in the hands of critique groups. And I kept writing and rewriting.

Finally all the blood, sweat and tears paid off. Elizabeth Carr of Rebel Ink Press liked The Memory of Roses. I remember when she emailed me that she had read half of the book and wanted to publish it, my first reaction was to wish she would read the rest just to be sure. I had become so accustomed to rejection that I hardly knew how to handle acceptance.

In The Memory of Roses, I trace the physical and emotional voyage of a young woman, Brit McQuaid, trying to come to grips with her father’s past. Brit’s journey takes her to the Greek island of Corfu, where she meets a sizzling young Greek archaeologist, Andreas Leandros.

Below is a scene between Brit and Andreas from The Memory of Roses:

She looked at the lines of strain etched on his face. “You know you don’t really have to help tomorrow. Daphne and I can manage the last of the painting. You’re under no obligation to keep coming all this way just to help me.”
“I thought we’d resolved that. I don’t ever do anything out of some mistaken sense of obligation. What I do, I do because I want to.” He paused, placing his hands on her arms in a grip that brooked no interference. “And right at this moment what I want to do is kiss you.”
Before Brit could react to his words Andreas brought his mouth down to hers. His lips touched hers softly at first, then his arms went around her and he buried himself in her mouth, his tongue caressing hers, hunger driven. He groaned, wordlessly declaring his need.
Brit had never in her life experienced such a torrent of desire as swept through her at this moment for this man. She tried to gather her scattered thoughts. Shaken, using every ounce of strength she could muster, she pushed him away. “Stop! We mustn’t do this,” Andreas looked at her, dazed.
“You’re too young for me,” Brit blurted out before she could stop herself. “Just how old are you?"
“Twenty-six. And you’re thirty-two. Daphne told me. A difference of six years. Would it matter to you if I were six years older than you?”
“Of course not.”
“Well then?”
“You’re just twisting things around. You know it’s not the same.”
“I believe that it is exactly the same, and I assure you that I’m not in the least too young for what I have in mind.”
Andreas brought his mouth down again to hers and Brit’s last conscious thought was what the hell! Why not? Why shouldn’t I have this brief interlude? Andreas will return to Santorini in January, and I’m only here for a year. I’ll be sensible later.

Thank you for stopping by, Blair!


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