By Jeanne Adams
Hey everyone! I'm so excited to have Maureen O. Betita as my guest today! I first met Maureen here on the blog when she swung over from the Good Ship Revenge to visit our deliciously decadent Lair. She and her mates on the Revenge have also been good enough to have me and a whole host of Romance Bandits over to the deck of the Revenge as guests as well, so it only seemed neighborly to return the favor. So, Maureen, we love a good Call Story here in the Lair. Tell us yours...
Maureen: Ah, my call story… Well, I was sitting on a barstool in Barbados, holding a frosty margarita glass when Fernando brought me the resort phone… *snort!* Actually, it was a windy day in Freedom, CA. At a Starbucks when my cell phone went off. I knew my agent, Saritza Hernadez, had sent my book off to several publishers but still stared blankly at my caller id, wondering why she was calling me. Had she changed her mind? Wanted to drop me? Was she calling to warn me of an asteroid heading for the coast of California? (A writer’s imagination…what can I say?) Luckily it wasn’t any of those things. She said she had an offer from Decadent Publishing for The Kraken’s Mirror…did I want her to say ‘yes?’ I was outside at this point, trying to find shelter from the wind (but this being the coastal town of California, it really wasn’t that cold to anyone who really knows wind but it was a bit noisy.) I think I shouted out “YES!” I asked her about Decadent first, then I asked her opinion and then I took it and said “YES!” (No regrets, I love this publishing house!)
Jeanne: Pretty cool! Well, I guess the news and the Starbucks were hot! What about the wonderful Revenge? How did you become a part of that good ship's crew?
Maureen: Well, Fernando suggested... You know, I don't know anyone named Fernando, but I wish I did!
Jeanne: There's Fernando over there, and I think he would like to know YOU....he's looking this way....
Maureen: Well, helllllooooo, Fernando! What was I talking about? Oh, The Revenge. Sorry Fernando, I'll get back to you. We'll talk... Where was I? Right, the Romance Writers Revenge. I picked up a postcard advertising the blog at the San Francisco RWA Nationals, where I was sliding about the walls, trying not to be noticed. (My first Nationals, I really did abysmally at socializing.) I took the card home and a few months later logged on and lurked for a while. Then someone posted a blog about musical influence and I commented. I commented a lot over the next few months. Then I set up a bar on the deck after someone blogged about the notorious glittery hooha, and I think they basically figured they might as well take advantage of my gift of blather and they invited me to blog regularly. It was that or throw me overboard. But once I won the staring contest with the undead monkey, I was accepted. (The secret is rotten bananas. Little sucker likes rotten bananas.)
Jeanne: Eeeuw! Rotten bananas? I think I'll let that one....lie. So, since we're talking about the ship (and those glittery hooha's ROCK!), tell us how you got your Pirate Nickname of 2nd Chance.
Maureen: Ah, 2nd Chance. Well in April of 2007 I nearly died. Went to bed, and woke up three days later in intensive care. My hear tried to commit suicide, but my husband was there to intercede. I spent ten days in two hospitals while they tried to figure out why I suffered sudden cardiac death. They never did find a definitive diagnosis. (SCD is a malfunction of the electrical currents in the heart.)
Jeanne: Whoa! Wow! This is amazing! Last week PJ admitted she'd been shot, once upon a time, and now you tell me you've nearly died? WOW! That's freaky!
Maureen: Whoa, that is freaky. So long story short, I came home. I wasn't sure why I was still around and I eventually was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress syndrome and began to see a therapist. Eventually, I realized I'd been given a second chance. When I needed a pirate persona, it seemed appropriate! It was also during therapy that I realized that after nearly dying, hearing an editor say "No!" wasn't really a big deal, and began seriously pursuing publication.
Jeanne: That does put things in perspective! So what made you want to write about pirates and the kraken?
Maureen: Ah, well, I were inspired by the Revenge and all me pirate mates! After numerous discussion about what the market was for older heroines (zilch was the answer, which pissed me off. So I had to go out and prove that was wrong) and a particular blog I wrote where I invited everyone to throw their inner critics to the kraken...well, me and the kraken struck up a friendship and the rest is history. Pirates come naturally to me, particularly the non-historically-accurate-fantasy-pirates. (I'm not a historian by any stretch of the imagination!) That and I always felt the kraken got a bad rap in movies, so it was time to turn him into a good guy, and prove that seasoned heroine who fell for a mature, and fabulous hero could sell and be exciting.
Jeanne: And you did it so well! So I know you just got back from RT, which means that you've gotten over your stage fright at national conferences, I guess. How was it and what was your favorite part?
Maureen: RT was insanely fun! I'm still totally exhausted and barely unpacked. People, people, people! And they all loved my pirate hat and I met my editors and my publisher and got to talk with my agent and help out the aspiring author workshops, and...and...and...I'm pooped! Favorite part? oh, wow. Doing a workshop with Katherine Ashe and Cherry Adair, called "he's A Pirate!" was a blast and has to be the highlight for me. I loved signing my book at the BookFaire and dressing up as the Kraken's Wife for the Fairy Ball, but that workshop was just so much fun! Seriously one fabulous thing about RT is how welcoming and supportive it is. Again and again, when I talked about my heroine being 53 and my hero being 65, eyes lit up with interest. I even had an older gentleman buy the book for his wife. Second chances aren't only about not dying, they are also about never giving up on yourself. Those of us in the babyboomer generation aren't done with living, or courting, or adventures or passion. So, I wrote the Kraken's Mirror to prove it.
Jeanne: Hear, hear! And prove it you did! How about an excerpt??
Maureen: Absolutely! In this bit, the heroine, Emily, has been temporarily blinded by waltzing vampires and rescued by the hero, Captain Alan. While appreciative, she's wearing a cloth over her eyes to protect them as they heal, and she has no confidence that a man would be interested in her. After all, she's fifty-three! She likes his voice, thinks it's kind that he helped her, but she's past all that, right? Ha! Oh, and did I mention that Emily is from the modern world? She fell through a magical portal and landed in a topsy-turvy pirate haven of Tortuga. At this point, she's tyring to be polite to Captain Alan, but he's just mentioned anticipating an evening of debauchery....
*** “Well, don’t let me keep you. I was at the Barmy Cock some nights ago, and there are plenty of sweet, young things to seduce there. I have the blindfold to protect my eyes, so why not see me there, and you can take your pick.” She tried to slide off the bench, but found a wooden barrier to her right. Damn. Oh, she liked the sound of his sudden chuckle. She liked it too much! She’d already scolded herself enough on the Quill, for staring at the young hunks who worked the lines. It didn’t make a difference to her that the rest of the crew enjoyed dallying with the boys. They were boys, and she couldn’t look at them without feeling like a dirty, old woman. Well, look at them that way! This Alan, well, he probably thought she possessed wealth or felt sorry for her. She’d grown accustomed to the blunt way the crew spoke of their sexual exploits. Jezzie would tease Mick while at dinner with ideas regarding their sexual play. Tink came striding out of her cabin one morning, rubbing her backside while complaining about Archer’s heavy hand the night before. The idea of seduction and debauchery seemed a bit tame compared to what she’d heard and seen on the ship! Alan turned her hand upside down and dallied with her palm, sliding his fingertips up and down the lines. She wanted to pull away, or maybe that wasn’t what she wanted. Damn! Her breasts ached, her nipples rising tighter than she’d ever known them to. Her belly clenched. Shit. Another chuckle set her pulse pounding. He probably knew it, too. His finger lingered at her pulse point. Damn. She had to be sitting in a puddle. “But why would I want to consider the sweet, young things, when what I want is here before me?” She jerked her hand away, suddenly angry. “You like teasing an old woman? Don’t try to bullshit me! You want my purse, fine! Here!” She struggled to haul the bag of coins Sam had given her free of her pack. Plopping it on the table, she pushed back, into the corner and tried to glare in his general direction. “Don’t fuck around with me! I’m not stupid. I felt your muscles, your broad chest…you don’t want me!” She heard nothing. Had he left? “You smell like apples. It’s quite intoxicating.” His voice came at her left side, close to her ears, and the hair at her jawline stirred when he exhaled. An arm settled across her shoulders. He nearly crooned, “I don’t need your purse. You’re not an old woman, and I have every intention of fucking you.” His hand cupped the back of her head as he finished the statement. Emily’s emotions veered between the fear of being trapped and the excitement of being wanted. Oh, God! Really wanted? Her lips parted, not sure what she was going to say, and he kissed her. ***
Jeanne: Whew! That's hot! Where's my funeral-home-fan? Goodness! Ahem. Well, any last words for today, Maureen?
Maureen: I'm a writer! There are no "last words"! There's always more where those came from. Grins. Seriously, life is for the living, dear readers. Emily doesn't know that Captain Alan isn't a young hunk, but a well-preserved man of experience. She's about to learn that life in this new world isn't at all what she's known. In the world of the Kraken's Carribbean, love has no age limit, nor does passion. And she'll discover that experience makes for the best adventures!
Jeanne: Oh, so true! It's Lair tradition to get our guests to pose a question for the day, do you have a question for our readers?
Maureen: But of course! Okay Banditas and Bandita Buddies, what's your most memorable second chance? Or third? Or fourth? Comment away, folks! Maureen will be giving one lucky reader a copy of The Kraken's Mirror!!