Monday, June 18, 2012

Meet M.K. McClintock - Romance Author!


MK McClintock
Western Romance Author 

E-book Winner:  Sue B
Congrats, Sue!!

      Welcome to our chat with MK McClintock! I hope you can smell the river and the pines along with damp earth as we gather here on the bridge to learn a bit more about MK and her western series. She's giving away three e-copies of Gallagher's Pride to three lucky commenters chosen at random so be sure to leave a comment with your email addy so she can easily contact you. I'm excited to get started. We do have a coffee and latte stand available to keep us warm here in the mountains, help yourself and feel free to ask MK any questions you might have. Thank you for joining us!

Deanna:  MK, thank you so much for joining us. It's gorgeous out here, but I also love the mountains and pines! Tell us a bit about yourself.

MK: To put it simply, I’m a country/mountain girl at heart (and in truth) who bakes to relax, hikes just to stand on a mountain, swims in crystal blue lakes, reads voraciously and prefers gloomy days to sunny. I’d rather stay home for pizza and a movie than go to a party. I prefer dresses to pants, print books to digital, chocolate to anything else, and never tire of watching eagles fly.

Deanna:  What made you want to become a writer?

MK: I honestly don’t know. Writing stories and poems is just something I always did growing up. It seemed natural to progress in the direction of full-length books. The moment I became a writer is the moment I realized there was no better time than now to make it happen.

Deanna:  Tell us about your book and your characters. We’d love to read an excerpt!

MK: Gallagher’s Pride is the first book of the Montana Gallagher series about a family set in 19th century Montana Territory. This book delves into the story and character of Ethan, the first brother, and a woman from Scotland, Brenna Cameron. Brenna deals with a great deal of loss and makes a choice to travel to Montana to find answers (I can’t tell you to what without spoiling it!). Ethan is a stubborn rancher whose main responsibility has been to look after his family. Brenna complicates all of that, but in a good way. This first book introduces the main conflict that will carry over into the other books and introduces us to the other Gallaghers. You’ll see romance, adventure, and some western action.

Excerpt:

Hawk’s Peak, Montana – 1870


     “I’m not going back.”
    “You’re being too stubborn Ethan! You only have one year left of college. The ranch will still be here.”  
      “Am I interrupting?” Ethan turned to look at his brother who poked his head into the room.
      “Yes,” shouted their father.
     “No,” Ethan yelled at the same time.
     Jacob Gallagher looked at his oldest son and tried to calm himself down. This stubborn streak his son possessed was one thing he wished hadn’t been passed down. He loved his boys and he was grateful they loved ranching and this land. Jacob had left the city when he was a young man to escape a congested life, to build a legacy for his children in the west. His sons were a necessary part of building that legacy, but he wanted them to have all he could provide. That included an education.
     “Ethan, we can argue about this until roundup, but you’re still going back.”
     Ethan usually kept a cool head but he and his father were just too damn much alike. He gave his old man a good hard stare trying to decide if he was willing to defy him. He loved his pa and knew he wanted the best for him. It galled him good to know that his pa was right. It galled him even more to see his brother still standing there grinning like a fool. Knowing that Gabriel would soon follow in his footsteps took off some of the steam.
    “Alright pa,” Ethan finally conceded. “One more year, but then I’m staying for good.”
     Jacob clasped his son’s hand and gave him a smile in thanks. “One more year,” his father agreed. “Now, let’s go into dinner before your mother comes in and tans us both.”


Montana Territory-1879

     He wasn’t about to let the grievance go unanswered. His parents had found thirty years of peaceful living in this beautiful and rugged land. They had traveled to the northern territories to escape the sweltering madness of Texas and had indeed found peace. Even when the land became the Territory of Montana more than ten years ago, they had still lived in peace with the other settlers that had come to mine and graze cattle. In all that time they had only one encounter with the Indians and that without loss of life. Since the army was defeated by some of the tribes about ten years back, the Indians were content to keep peace. So long as the settlers stayed to their land and left the natives to theirs.
       Peace for the Gallagher’s had ended with Nathan Hunter.
     The bastard had purchased land only a few miles from their extensive borders. The small stretch of grass between the two spreads belonged to a belligerent old swindler, Dwight Dickens, who refused to work the valuable land. When the fool realized that there was more than one interested party, he let the bidding war begin. It was little more than fifteen acres, but the prize of that land was the water. Water and grass were the greatest currencies out west, without which a rancher may as well pack up and leave. Control of that stretch meant control of the stream coming down from the mountains. The snowfall each year assured that the water would flow continuously through till the next winter and keep their ponds full.
     The Gallagher family won the bidding war, but only once they agreed that old man Dickens could keep his small homestead on the land. It was a small sacrifice for the water rights.
     One week later, Nathan Hunter had his men stretch barbed wire along the new boundary line. Ethan hated using wire. When they had first come to Montana Territory, there was little more than a few small ranches in the area they chose to settle, a day’s ride north of Bozeman. Not many settlers lasted past their first winter in the harsh climate, but the Gallagher’s had found home and soon became some of the most respected ranching families in the territory. Known for their fairness in business and hard work, they had made a solid name for themselves. Jacob Gallagher built a legacy on that wild land and his children were damned if they’d let one man destroy it.
     Ethan Gallagher sat tall atop the midnight black stallion. A magnificent animal bred from the Hawk’s Peak bloodline. Gabriel, his younger brother by two years, sat just as tall on his own dark sable gelding, a beauty he brought with him to Montana from a Kentucky horse farm on his way back from university. Both animals wore the staggered HP brand of the Hawk’s Peak ranch.
     Gabriel swore loudly enough to annoy his mount. He settled the animal with a soothing word and glanced at his brother. Ethan said nothing. He appeared to not have a care in the world. Gabriel knew better. Ethan’s anger was never readily apparent. The darkness of his eyes and the clenched jaw were sure indications that his brother was ready to commit murder. In this instance, it would be the murder of Nathan Hunter. Gabriel wouldn’t think ill of his brother if it came to that end.
     dead cow was discovered when the wranglers went out to round up a few strays that had wandered during a fierce thunderstorm the previous night. The cow had dropped a calf only the week before. The calf had been injured trying to stay near its mother, but when the wranglers brought it back to the ranch, everyone knew they couldn’t save him.
     Ethan’s gaze went to the mangled legs of the animal, sure indications that the innocent creature had struggled and suffered. It hadn’t been successful in its fight to survive. The deadly wire wrapped around the poor creature’s legs was proof enough for Ethan. Proof that regardless of the backbreaking wooden fence the Gallagher’s had put up to keep their cattle from that particular stretch of wire, someone had deliberately put the wire onto their land.
     This was one of many unprovable incidences which had occurred since the arrival of Nathan Hunter and Ethan was close to not caring about proof for the Marshall. If the law of the territory wasn’t going to put a stop to it, then by God, the law of the land would. Ethan spared his brother one last look then turned his mount and headed for the bordering spread.

Deanna: I will be wanting to read this series!! Wow! What type of hero do you like best?

MK: Flawed heroes. I don’t like perfection in people and fictional people are no different. I want a hero who can cry, get bruised, have a broken heart, make mistakes, and be stubborn. Of course I want the usual chivalry and saves-the-day outcome, but a perfect hero is boring to write.

Deanna:  How many plots do you include in one of your books?

MK: Depends on what I’m writing, but in the Gallagher books there’s more than one. Each book has their own individual storylines, but there’s a main plot that carries over from the first book to the others.

Deanna:  I think most readers enjoy the series books more. I know I do, it lets me get to know the characters better. Readers are also curious about what we do in our writing day. Tell us about a typical day in your life as a writer.




MK: I own a couple of small businesses, so I’m usually working the first part of the day. I answer writing-related emails and update online accounts first thing in the morning and then here and there throughout the day. I used to write only in the mornings, but that’s definitely changed since the sun comes up earlier now and I can go walking at 5:00am. Now I write when I have the time, generally in the afternoon and late evening (it’s tough – I like a 9:30pm bedtime). I have to keep a balance so that writing doesn’t seem like a job. It’s already a lot of work, but for me it always has to remain fun or I wouldn’t do it, which is probably why I started book tours. I throw in baking, gardening and walking into my typical day to keep things hopping.

Deanna:  Busy people get things done! Do your books have a common theme or are they all different?

MK: I haven’t really thought about that before, to be honest. Mostly the books are similar, but can have more than one theme – good vs. evil, love and sacrifice, overcoming personal demons…but I write historical romance so the elements that come with that are always present. In my western genre books, there’s always the revenge theme mixed in with romance.

Deanna:  How long does it take you to write and then edit a story?

MK: Generally about six months from start to finish. I prefer to give myself seven months so that I can step away from the book for 2-3 weeks and look at it with a fresh mind. Research adds time, but I’m always researching for a book while writing another, so I can’t say exactly how much time I spend doing that. I have a book planned for a 2014 release that will likely take a year to write just because it will require a good deal more research. For editing – I have a great new editor (wish I had found her sooner), but her turnaround is amazing, so I can still get the book out on time!

Deanna:  Congrats on the editor! Do you have to be alone to write?

MK: Definitely. I zone out and get into the story, so interruptions bring out the worst in me unless I’m ready to be interrupted. 


Deanna:  How do you go about naming characters?

MK: I have three baby name books and use baby name and surname websites to help out. I start by deciding whether or not I want the character to have an American name, Scottish, Irish, French, etc. I then pick out the first name which generally takes a little time. The name has to fit with the personality I imagine. Then I search out the last name in the same way, making sure I like how it fits with the first. In the case of a series like the Gallagher books, the surname came first. Once in a while a name will change because the personality evolves and no longer fits. Perhaps I put too much thought into character names, but it’s a big deal for me and one of my favorite steps!

Deanna:  Is it easier to write about the characters if you find pictures of them before you write or do you write then find character pictures?

MK: Write then find pictures. I almost never find a picture similar to what’s in my mind.

Deanna: How do you pick locations for your stories?

MK: Either I’ve been there, want to go there, or it just happens to fit with what I needed for the story. In my current books there are a number of locations. The Gallagher books take place primarily in Montana, but I’ve thrown in Scotland, New Orleans and Kentucky simply because I like a change of scenery. If everyone was from Montana, without any variety, no matter how much I love it, I do believe I’d grow bored after four books.

Deanna: What’s next?

MK: The Gallagher series will continue while I’m researching the next set of books. I have another series to finish, a trilogy and three stand-alone titles in the pipeline. I have a “pet project” of sorts – one of the single-title books that I’ll begin interviewing and researching for this summer. This is my year-long writing project and rather close to the heart, so I’m looking forward to it.

Giveaway:  Three (3) Kindle copies of Gallagher’s Pride (delivered digitally). Open to everyone. Be sure to leave your comment and email addy!

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