Today I have the good fortune to be talking to author Becky Lower. Becky writes historical
romance and is sharing a blurb after her interview of Book Three of her Cotillion Ball Series. 

So tell me, Becky, what is the best thing you’ve learned about writing and/or the publishing business?

To trust myself and my gut instinct when I write. I’ve written and rewritten some of my stories based on contest judges’ suggestions and my critique partners’ suggestions and it seems that the life sometimes gets sucked out of the pages. Don’t get me wrong, I depend on my critique partners to tell me when something’s not working (it’s perfectly clear in my head!), but when they start telling me how my characters should be reacting to each other, or how they should be talking, that’s where my edit button needs to step in and say, maybe, maybe not. I struggle with that a lot, since every writer has a fair amount of self-doubt, and I’m no exception.

Ain't that the truth! Since we're exploring that self-doubt, what is something you struggle with when you write?

I write in layers. I’ll get down the bones of the story in a chapter outline form and then go back in and add in emotion, senses, descriptions, details like that. Then, I go back again and check for my list of words not to ever use. I call them the Seven Deadly Sins that make your work passive and tell instead of show. I do a “find” for each of the seven words, and come up with other ways to say it. After that, I’ll go through my list of words that I like a lot and make certain I’m not overusing them. That part of the writing process is slow and tedious. I’d rather be putting new ideas down on paper, lickety-split. But I know my work is better if I pay attention to the editing process.

Hmmm...I'll have to ask you about those seven words some time. Passive writing is something I struggle with. Do you have a job outside of writing? What is it and how does it mesh with your writing?

I’m fortunate enough to have taken early retirement, but that doesn’t mean I’ve stopped working. I consider writing my full-time job now, and, to put food on the table, I work part-time as a merchandiser for a large greeting card company. That’s a fancy term for someone who takes care of the card inventory and stocks new merchandise. I get to help people find the exact card for the person they’re looking for, which is the upside of the job. On the down side, I was watching a dating show on TV the other night and the man pulled out a gift bag for his date. I recognized the bag immediately as being one from my company’s product line, and was so amused by my recognition of it that I paid no attention to what was in the bag. And you’d think, as a romance writer, that would have been the big take-away.

Where do you live? Where would you love to live?

I live in an eclectic college town in Ohio, near Lake Erie. I’ve been here now for three years. My criteria when I was looking for a house was as follows: hardwood floors, a wood-burning fireplace, a screened-in porch and a fenced-in yard for the dog. This house has all of that, so I’m content. Although I still have dreams about buying back my log cabin in West Virginia and spending four months out there, pounding out my next book, like Jude Deveraux did with A Knight In Shining Armor.

Share with us a little about your family. Married? Kids? Pets?

Not married, ever. Unusual, I know, especially for a romance writer. No kids, either. I have three sisters and a brother, who are very dear to me, and who I draw on for the family dynamics that appear in just about every book I write. And, of course, my little dog, Mary, who has to listen to every story I am working on. When she sits and listens to me, I think my work is golden. But when she turns and leaves the room, I wonder what is wrong with the story.

Sounds like a cutie. Now, just for fun-

What was one of the best Christmas presents you ever received?

It wasn’t a Christmas present, but rather a wish list that my dad created for us kids. I don’t know where the stuff came from, since we were dirt poor. We called it “Dad’s Magic Shed.” After watching Ricky Nelson on television, I expressed an interest in learning to play the guitar. A few days later, an old battered guitar was at the foot of my bed. And disappeared just as magically when I lost interest. When I was glued to the TV during the winter Olympics one year, I said I wanted to learn how to ski. You guessed it, a pair of wooden skis (no poles, just the skis) showed up. They disappeared faster than the guitar did.

Great stories! What is your concept of a fruitful day?

I’m fortunate to have a friend here in town who’s also a fellow writer. We get together a few times a week to have dinner and talk about our writing. She’s a Golden Heart finalist this year and I’m following her journey to the conference with her, which is fun. And she’s gotten to follow along with me as my work has made it into print. So, good food, good company, and good discussions make for a fruitful day.

I like how you include recreation in a fruitful day where all I would think about is work. Nice perspective! Now, what one thing (modern convenience) could you not live without?

A bathroom! I write a lot of historicals, and don’t dwell too much on the lack of sanitary facilities. But I’ve spent enough time roughing it at camps and at my cabin when it was being built to know how nice a flush toilet is and a bubble bath at the end of the day.

What are your three favorite smells?

A soft spring rain.
Pine of any variety.

Oooh! Like that pine one! I've interviewed a lot of writers and you're the first person to say that and I love the smell of pine! Thanks for sharing with us today, Becky!

Now here's a blurb from Becky's BANKING ON TEMPERANCE:

Basil Fitzpatrick was born into a life of privilege. In 1856, at 23 years of age, he is the owner of the St. Louis branch of the family banking business. He has his pick of the ladies and life by the horns. Temperance Jones and her family are far from privileged. Her father is a circuit-riding preacher from Pennsylvania. But the rumblings of a war between the North and the South force the preacher to move his family to Oregon rather than to take up arms against his fellow man. However, hardship and sickness have slowed their pace, and they are forced to spend the winter in St. Louis, waiting for the next wagon trains to leave in the spring.

Basil is drawn to the large family the moment they roll into town, partly because they remind him of his own big family in New York. But also because of the eldest daughter, Temperance. She is a tiny, no-nonsense spitfire who is bent on fulfilling her father’s wish to get the family safely to Oregon. Basil is only interested in finding a mistress, not a wife. He knows if he allows Temperance into his heart, he is accepting the obligation of her entire family and their quest to settle in Oregon. He wants Temperance like he has wanted no other, but the burden of her family may be too much for him. And he can’t have one without the other.

Isn't that a great cover and blurb? And now for an excerpt:


Temperance sputtered and fumed, breathing fire as the door to Basil’s apartment staircase closed behind him. That no-good, self-centered ass! How dare he say their friendship had been destroyed by her ambition! If they’d truly been friends, he would have stood by her and championed her clever attempts to get her family moved westward. But once he introduced her to Jake, it was as if he’d turned his back on her. She could take him turning his back on her as a woman, but not as a friend. She yanked open the door and ran up the stairs.

“How dare you!” She didn’t bother to knock at the top of the steps, she was so angry.

He turned to face her, but didn’t reply.

“Well? How dare you say that I’m the one who turned away from your friendship? You’ve become my best friend here in town, Basil, and I miss our good times. You never come to the restaurant anymore, and you barely talk to me at all here. Do you want me to quit? To leave?”


“Yes, what?”

“If you know what’s best for you, leave, right this minute.”

“Why? Because you’ll tell me something I don’t want to hear?”

Basil crossed the room to her in two strides. He placed his hands on either side of her face and growled, “Not because of what I’ll tell you, but because of what I’ll do.” He lowered his mouth to hers, crushing her tender lips beneath his own.

Temperance stood still, in shock at what was happening. The breath whooshed out of her lungs. Her arms hung by her sides, but her mouth and tongue were doing battle with Basil’s. She moved her arms finally, and wound them around his broad shoulders, welcoming him. Her back was up against the wall as Basil continued to kiss her with all the pent-up passion that had been building between them for months. She pulled him closer, reveling in his scent of spice and man. She tasted the tobacco on his breath, along with mint, and thought there had never been so delightful a combination.

This is where I belong. Not Oregon.

A small moan drifted from her mouth as she sunk her fingers into his hair. He ran a row of scorching kisses from the left corner of her mouth up to her temple, then down to the pulsing vein in her neck. As he tugged gently, her whimpers became stronger. She was desperately kissing his hair, his forehead, anything she could touch. His moans matched hers as the torrid, sensual dance continued.

His hand drifted to the buttons running down the front of her dress. He slowly unbuttoned each one, taking the time to kiss each inch of new skin he uncovered. Temperance thought she would surely combust from the sensation of his mouth on flesh that had never before been touched by a man. She squirmed and wrapped her fingers into his hair. “Oh, sweet Lord,” she cried out.

Basil pried his lips from her, and backed off a step. He ran his hand through his hair. Temperance couldn’t talk. She couldn’t breathe. Her senses were still writhing out of control. He backed away one more step, staring at her with lust-filled eyes.
“That is why you should never set foot in this apartment. If you come near me again, I’ll not stop. I will have all of you, and ruin all your plans for marriage to Jake. And that is why we can no longer be friends. You’ve made your choice, Temptress. Now leave me alone.”

Whoo! Steamy! Becky it has been a delight having you! Come back any time!


  1. Totally agree with you, Becky, about the need to have modern plumbing! I'd give up electricity but not hot and cold running water and flush toilets.

    Loved your first two books and am looking forward to reading the third.

    1. We had our water heater go out a while back and did you know that cold showers are actually PAINFUL?! It was like little daggers hitting your head! Yes, warm water is a NECESSITY!!! Thanks for stopping in, Peggy!

  2. Ladies, the interview was a delight! Becky, it is so nice to learn more about you. Your writing style is much like my own - I layer, too, from the very "bones." I hope you have much continued success with your wonderful series. I highly recommend it to readers who love historical fiction.

    1. Thanks for coming by to join in our Cotillion Ball today, Deborah!

  3. Thank you, ladies, for your nice comments. And thank you, MJ, for inviting me to your blog. I love doing these types of interviews and hope people aren't bored with me yet.

    1. You did a great job with the questions, Becky, so I doubt anyone was bored. Stop back in for a character interview some day. Would love to have you!

  4. Becky,
    What are your 7 deadly words? Mine are that, just, back, up, simply, very (ugh) and felt/feel/feeling.
    Best wishes. Lovely post!
    -R.T. Wolfe

  5. Becky, I, too, would love to know your seven deadly words! I know one thing I had to do while writing Love's Destiny is go back and search for every apostrophe to ensure it was not a contraction because their language was more formal in colonial America. Nice post ladies!

  6. Okay, ladies, since you asked...The seven deadly words for me, if eliminated, can change your work from passive and telling to strong and active. They are: felt, knew, looked, saw, heard, watched, and like. Makes a difference.

  7. Thanks for sharing, Becky! Maybe you've made the world a little less passive tonight! And thank you for sharing BANKING ON TEMPERANCE.


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