Naomi Musch, Author of The Black Rose, Talks Writing & Offers #Giveaway

My guest today is Naomi Musch. Naomi was born and raised in central Wisconsin and now makes her home in Wisconsin's vast northwoods where the vistas are ripe to feed the imagination of anyone interested in history. She and husband Jeff have three grown children and two under wing on their150 acre farm where they dabble at raising a menagerie of animals.

Anne - Welcome to Piedmont Island, Naomi. It’s a glorious summer day and I can’t imagine why anyone would want to be indoors, so let’s sit on the deck where the view of Lake Superior is spectacular and never fails to inspire me to chat about writing. Tell us about The Black Rose,Empire in Pine Book Three.
Naomi - Despite the panic of 1893, logging has reached its golden era in the growing state of Wisconsin, and twins Jesilyn and Corianne Beaumont enjoy a comfortable life with family in the bursting Great Lake city of Superior. But when jealousy incites Jesi to seduce Cori's fiancé, a flight and fall from grace lands her in a boomtown brothel, where a fresh start is denied her.

Camp preacher Paul Winter longs to offer hope in the logging and mining towns of northern Wisconsin, but not in the way he expects when he meets a redhead he calls Pie Girl. He's never had to battle his own longings quite this way before.

Meanwhile, stung by Jesilyn's betrayal, Corianne's bitterness might separate her from a second chance at happiness and peace. Only by Grace can both women begin new lives, and budding love can bloom in places neither of them expects.

Anne - What do you enjoy most about writing? What part do you loathe?

Naomi - My favorite part of writing is two-fold. It's the day-dreaming/brainstorming part of figuring out "what next" and then the slow, unwinding of writing out a scene. I like to really settle deep into a scene and try to wring it for everything it's worth. When I'm in that stage of writing, I try never to rush the experience.

Anne - Of the characters you’ve created, does one hold a special place in your heart? Why?

Naomi - I love all my characters - of course! But I think I relate most to Lainey in The Red Fury. She and I are a lot alike in how we deal with our personal struggles, and that's not always a good thing. But I also LOVED the character of Joe Gilbert who is a secondary character in all three books. He just had a way about him -- precocious as a youth, bold as a man, faithful as a lifelong friend -- that once he stepped onto the page I knew he'd be a constant in the lives of the Kade/Beaumont family. I think readers who've been with me through the Empire in Pine series will enjoy finding out about the later years of Joe's life in The Black Rose.

Anne - What is the most surprising thing you’ve learned about yourself from writing?

Naomi - Hmm... about myself? I learned that while I don't enjoy whining in the pages of my journal, I can allow my struggles to escape through the trials of my characters. I discovered that what I most often write about are messy lives, first because we live messy lives, and then because I believe God fixes and blesses messes -- if they're given to Him. The fixes are almost never easy, and I don't want them to appear so in my writing, but they can be glorious.

Anne - How many rejections have you received? Was one more memorable than others?

Naomi - For my novel series, I received three rejections, all from major publishing houses. But they were what writers call "good rejections". In other words, I received excellent feedback and encouragement.

Anne - Outside of writing, what accomplishment are you most proud?

Naomi - My husband and I have five awesome adult kids, all of who are homeschool graduates. We are more thankful than proud, that God allowed us the privilege of raising and homeschooling them. If God opens up the door for you to homeschool, LEAP through it. It's an amazing journey.

Anne - Would you share an excerpt of The Black Rose with us?

Naomi - I'd love to! In this scene Jesilyn, who has fled her home and her sister's scorn, is living under an alias in a northern Wisconsin logging and mining town. But making her way during a national economic panic--even in a boomtown--isn't as easy as she thought. She's had to take up residence above a local saloon, and now her rent is due.

Maisey stared hard, though not unsympathetically at Jesi from beneath disheveled hair of an unnaturally blond hue. Her pink robe cinched beneath an ample bosom and over layers of diaphanous drapery. 

"You haven't got a job and you can't find a job. When's the last time you've eaten? You haven't bought a meal here in two days."

Jesi flinched as Maisey's eyes raked up the length of her. "I had a sandwich."

"When? Wednesday? Tuesday? You're starving yourself. I can see that. Why don't you come downstairs and I'll have Mary fix you something. Then you'll have to be on your way."

"Please." Jesi reached out to Maisey, stopping her just as she turned to go.


"I don't have any place to go." She retracted her hand and the woman's eyes narrowed, studying her.

"What are you asking of me? I already told you, you can't stay here. That is," she paused and gave Jesi a more serious perusal, "not unless you want to work."

Jesi clenched her dress. Yes. She wanted work! "Oh, yes." She closed her eyes for a moment, her head spinning.

"You'd better understand me clearly. I'm not asking you to do the cleaning. Hilda does that. Walter serves the bar. Mary cooks. It's another kind of work I have available."
Jesi's breathing nearly stopped. She couldn't speak, couldn't swallow. She stared back at Maisey.

"Well, I can see you're not interested. Too bad. I think my clients would like you." She turned to go.

Jesi found her voice. "Wait." Her lips trembled, but she managed the words. "I can do that. I -- I need the job." Her legs began to shake and she plopped down onto the bed. Maisey took another look at her and came to stand over her. She took Jesi by the chin and lifted her face, shifting her head from side to side. 

"Yes. All right then. I'll send you up some breakfast. Don't worry. Meals are free, along with lodging. You can start tonight. After breakfast, take a nice long bath. I'll tell Betty not to pester you. Then take another nap if you want. Dinner is at four. Be in the bar ready to work by six."

Jesi nodded. "Thank you."

Maisey walked out but paused before pulling the door closed. "What's your first name?"

"Jane. My name is Jane."

"Welcome to Maisey's, Jane."

Anne - Where can readers find you online?

Naomi – They can visit my website, plus I’m on Facebook and Twitter

Anne - You’re offering a giveaway copy of your book to one lucky reader. What question would you like them to address in a comment to be eligible for the draw?

Naomi - I'll be giving away a pdf of The Black Rose to a winner among any who comment on my question -- If you were a character in a book of romantic, historical fiction, what would you be like: Hero/heroine? Villain? Comic relief character? Minor quirky character? Other? Give me some details, please!

I'll start: Since I mentioned I was a lot like the heroine in The Red Fury, I will say that my character would struggle with regrets, be a bit headstrong or proud (lots of lessons to learn in there) and self-reliant. I'd also say that my character would put on a strong front when she felt like falling apart inside. I'd also say, being a bit gutsy, she'd behave like a tomboy sometimes, and not fall in line with society's expectations.

Now you.

Anne – Great question, Naomi. I’m looking forward to reading every single reply! Good luck to all. The winner will be announced here on August 7.

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