It’s my privilege tonight to welcome author Becky Lower to the Spotlight. An Amazon best-selling author, Becky has traveled the country looking for great settings for her novels. She loves to write about two people finding each other and falling in love, amid the backdrop of a great setting, be it on a covered wagon headed west or in present day small town America. Historical and contemporary romances are her specialty. Becky is a PAN member of RWA and is a member of the Historic and Contemporary RWA chapters. She has a degree in English and Journalism from Bowling Green State University, and lives in an eclectic college town in Ohio with her puppy-mill rescue dog, Mary.
Thank you for being here today Becky. I know this is an exciting release for you. Tell us why.
My next book is the final one in the long Cotillion Ball series, which spans the decade leading up to and into the Civil War. Saffron Fitzpatrick is the youngest of the children and her life has been severely impacted by the war. There were no balls held during the war years and she’s missed the fun and excitement of growing up in affluent New York.
The Cotillion Ball series has been a wonderful family story. Was there a particular inspiration for The Forgotten Debutante?
The History Channel is a great resource for me. Like most Americans, I spent many a summer vacation visiting battlefields up and down the east coast. It never occurred to me that all the bodies left behind by the battles would have remained. I read that for months after the battle at Gettysburg, folks could not leave their homes without some covering over their noses and mouths. When the History Channel devoted several programs to the formation of the National Reburial Initative, I knew it was going to factor into my book. It’s kind of a gruesome subject matter, but Saffron treats it as if she were solving a big jigsaw puzzle, piecing together little bits of information from various sources and prides herself on doing her job well.
You’re right! That’s a bit unusual of a subject. Now that the Cotillion Ball series has wrapped up, what’s next for you?
For the first time since I began to be published, I don’t have any deadlines to meet. It’s kind of scary in a way, but yet exhilarating, since there are so many options now available on the road to publication.
No deadlines? I can see why that would be both exhilarating and frightening. Are there any words of wisdom that you rely on during such times?
It’s a quote attributed to Nora Roberts. She said she can fix anything but a blank page. Every time I stare at a blinking cursor, I think of Nora’s words of wisdom and start putting ideas on the page.
Those are certainly words that have served you well. How did it all begin for you?
I took my first course in writing the romance novel in 2006, with my first book published in 2009. I was going to be retiring soon and figured if not then, when would be a good time? I’ve met so many great people over my years in the business. If I was going to do this again, I would have started while I was in college, instead of waiting and working in a “real job.
Thank you for sharing all of that, Becky. Now tell us about The Forgotten Debutante.
Fate brings Saffron Fitzpatrick and Ezekiel Boone together once more, three years after their first encounter during the height of the Civil War. People are tired of fighting and death, but Saffron and Zeke may not be able to find their happy-ever-after, especially if an older protective brother and the Army have anything to say about it.
Now, for a special preview of the final book in The Cotillion Ball series available now for pre-order on Amazon.
New York City
July 15, 1863
Releasing a shallow breath, Saffron Fitzpatrick glided down the stairs on slippered feet, avoiding the creaky spots with unerring accuracy from years of practice. She surveyed the hallway and let out the rest of the air from her lungs. All the servants were still in the basement, preparing the noonday meal. If she hurried, she could escape the house undetected. She ran to the back door, her curls bouncing around her head, and let herself out into the yard.
Heart pounding, she stood, back up against the door, and listened. No frantic footsteps from inside the house meant her break to freedom had gone unnoticed so far.
After two days of being housebound due to the draft riots, Saffron had tired of heeding her father’s warnings to stay indoors. Even though his motives were sound and he was only trying to protect her from the roaming mobs, she would surely perish from boredom if she spent one more moment inside. Although her intent to breathe some fresh air was dashed, because the city was foul with smoke from the fires being set around town, she still cherished the freedom of being outdoors. Her skin erupted in goosebumps at her boldness. She cringed back against the door as the distant shouts came closer.
But she had a mission: she needed to see Biscuit. She could certainly get from the family brownstone to the carriage house in their backyard without running into any of the rioters, couldn’t she? Talking to a horse beat staring at her bedroom ceiling. Or reading another boring book. Her intent clear, she pushed herself away from the door and ran to the small building.
She opened the door to the carriage house. Diffused lighting came through the windows near the roofline and the cool air was filled with a familiar, comfortable combination of hay, horse dung, and leather. Saffron inhaled the scents as she waited for her eyes to become accustomed to the subdued light. Biscuit nickered a nervous greeting. She tiptoed across the brick floor toward Biscuit’s stall.
And came to an abrupt halt.
The apples, which Saffron kept in a bucket to dole out to the horse, were all gone. As were the carrots. Someone had been in the carriage house, and possibly still was. Perhaps one of the marauders had scaled the stone wall surrounding their backyard, and came in here to set the carriage house on fire. But why would he have removed all the produce first? Her heart began to beat erratically, and her hand went to her throat.
She backed toward the door, hoping if she were quiet, whoever was or had been in the carriage house would not notice her. She’d go back to the house and sound an alarm. Then, armed with the servants, she could return and confront whoever was here. But Biscuit nickered again. If someone was intent on setting fire to the carriage house, Saffron needed to take her horse into the yard first, then call for the servants. She picked up a hayfork and made her way forward, her slippers not making a sound as they moved over the floor. She opened the door to the stall and found what was upsetting her horse, and the answer to why all the good treats were gone. A Union soldier was asleep in the hay next to Biscuit. Lord in merciful heaven! Of all things!
Thank you for being with us today Becky, and for sharing the final saga in The Cotillion Ball series.