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October Releases

Monday, February 18, 2013

Entangled Publishing Presents: Interview & Review of Highland Heart by Heather McCollum

Hello Vagabonds! Please give a huge welcome to author Heather McCollum. She writes amazing historical romance and she is here to talk about her latest work, Highland Heart (review after interview). Please join us and find out why she loves her Scottish men.




OBVB: Welcome to Offbeat Vagabond, Heather! Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

HM: Thank you so much for having me here at Offbeat Vagabond! Hmm...a little about myself. I am a mom of three kids (ages 14, 12, and 6) and a crazy rescued golden retriever. I’m extremely lucky to have found my own Highland hero, my husband, Braden. When I’m not writing, making meals for perpetually hungry kids, and walking my dog, I’m usually on my “soap box” educating women about ovarian cancer.

Almost seven months ago I finished 15 months of chemo to kill that silent, sneaky, deadly beast. I’m using whatever talents I have to spread the warning about the whispered symptoms of ovarian cancer. My full length romance, CAPTURED HEART, has them listed in the back: bloating, urinary symptoms, pelvic pain, and feeling full quickly are the main four.


OBVB: When did you realize you wanted to be a writer?

HM: I wrote little stories as a child and into high school, but instead of majoring in English in college I went the Biology route because I didn’t want people to tell me how to write (shh! Don’t tell my editor). I graduated and went on to graduate school where I was working toward a Ph.D. in Cellular Immunology for a year and a half. Somewhere along the way I realized I’d rather spend my days with people rather than melanocytes. So I went to work at a Clinical Development company where I managed clinical trials for up and coming drugs.

During those years I’d come home after a long day and relax by finding out what my characters were up to, those pesky friends who stirred around in my head waiting to come out on paper. So I wrote and wrote and started attending my local RWA meetings. It was then that I decided I should do what I always should have done. Write stories.


Favorite!
OBVB: I know you love your Historical Romances. Who are some of favorite Historical Romance authors?

HM: I love Karen Marie Moning’s original Highlander series, with its plethora of rugged Highlanders and Fae magic. Her work truly inspired my love of paranormal historical romance. I also love Julie Garwood’s historic romances. I grew up falling in love with all her Scottish chiefs.

OBVB: What was the most challenging thing you had to face when getting your work published?

HM: Wow – there were so many challenges! Finding the time to write and submit was and still is very difficult with my active family clamoring for attention (they’re very loud). But I think it is the actual submission/rejection process that can be so incredibly daunting. Writing is very personal and often your manuscript feels like your own baby. When someone tells you that your baby isn’t worthy – well you need to develop a thick skin about that and figure out how to fix it.

Christina Dodd once said at a RWA conference that submitting your work is like standing up on a stage, dropping your pants, and asking the audience for comments. LOL! So very true! It takes a lot of guts to put your work out there.

OBVB: Highland Heart just released back in December, can you tell us what it is about?

HM: HIGHLAND HEART is a short novella romance set in 16th century Scotland. It is the prequel to my full-length Scottish romance, CAPTURED HEART.

Alec Munro, chieftain of the Munros, has captured the Englishman who swindled his father. Set on retribution, he’s caught off-guard by the thief’s beautiful daughter, a lass whose beauty and spirit leave him questioning the value of revenge.

Rachel Brindle has a secret: she can heal people with her magic. While journeying with her father and sister into the Highlands, she becomes a prize sought between two warring clans. She must use her cunning and her healing magic to prevent the same slaughter that started the blood feud a century ago. But when her secret is exposed, will it condemn her in the eyes of the barbarian who has captured not only her family, but also her heart?

OBVB: I love the concept of your book, where did the idea come from?

HM: Scenes from both CAPTURED HEART and HIGHLAND HEART began playing through my mind while my husband and I visited Scotland a decade ago. The heather-draped moors, rocky outcroppings, glittery lochs, and soaring mountains enthralled me. It was easy to imagine Macbain and Munro warriors riding through the mist. The magic of the country’s history still lingers in the land. I could smell it on the breeze, hear it echoing in the boulders, and taste it in their bannocks. I’m thrilled to be returning to the Highlands this July, this time with kids in tow.

The concept of a healer has always fascinated me, and since I’ve fought ovarian cancer, that blue light that Rachel and Meg can conjure has taken a teal hue (teal’s the ovarian cancer color) in my mind. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to be able to heal all those you love?


OBVB: What actors/models do you imagine as Alec and Rachel?

HM: Alec must have a wild type look about him, but of course his strength must be evident. Maybe – Adrian Paul as Duncan MacLeod in the old Highlander series, back when he had the long hair. But not quite so nice. Alec is much more frowny : )

Meg would be strong and clever, and a no-nonsense natural beauty about her.

OBVB: If you could write a book in a genre different from yours, what would it be and why?

HM: I will always write happy endings and I LOVE romance, so if I wrote a fantasy paranormal or steampunk, there would still be a love story at its core. I’ve also written a YA paranormal romance which will be coming out in 2014. I love writing the young, modern voice. It’s fun and gives me an excuse for annoying my teenage daughter by saying things like “OMG” and “Chill!”

OBVB: When you are not writing, what do you do in your free time?
HM: I don’t have free time : ) What mom does, really? I do make time to exercise and cook healthy food because I’m continuing to reduce my risk of getting cancer again. I find every opportunity I can to educate women on the whispered symptoms of ovarian cancer.

I also love birthday parties, kid’s theme parties. I’m rather known in my circle of moms as the creative genius behind parties like “Life-sized Candyland” and “Storm trooper training camp.” Just last month I created a unicorn/fairy tea party for my Kindergartener with wings for everyone! I love the magic in themed parties, especially for kids.

When I find a second to myself, I, of course, love to read.


OBVB: Is there anything you must have or do when you start writing?

HM: A hot chai latte coaxes my muse out : ) That cinnamon taste sparks all sorts of creative thoughts. I also do the crossword puzzle in my local paper to nudge my mind awake and thinking of interesting words.

Before I start a new project I create a collage book of pictures to help me visualize the settings, characters, and emotions. So I also take out my book and start up my playlist to get in the mood of a particular book.

OBVB: Last but not least, are there any other projects you are working on?

HM: I have several stories in the works. The fourth book in THE DRAGONFLY CHRONICLES is being edited and will be out later this year. My YA romance, SIREN’S SONG, will be coming out in 2014. And my second full-length romance in the HIGHLAND HEARTS series with Entangled Publishing, TANGLED HEARTS, will be out this summer.

Eventually I also plan to put together a few non-fiction books to help cancer warriors cope and fight with everything they can to survive.


OBVB: Thank you so much for visiting Offbeat Vagabond hon. Hope to have you here again.

HM: Thanks so much for inviting me! I’d love to come visit again too : ) Have a great day, and live every moment to its fullest!

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Author: Heather McCollum
Format: ePub
Pages: 55
Release Date: December 17th, 2012
Publisher: Entangled Publishing
Genre: Paranormal Romance/Historical Romance














Buy here:


Synopsis from Goodreads

Alec Munro, chieftain of the Munros, has captured the Englishman who swindled his father. Set on retribution, he’s caught off-guard by the thief’s beautiful daughter, a lass whose beauty and spirit leave him questioning the value of revenge.

Rachel Brindle has a secret: she can heal people with her magic. While journeying with her father and sister into the Highlands, she becomes a prize sought between two warring clans. She must use her cunning and her healing magic to prevent the same slaughter that started the blood feud a century ago. But when her secret is exposed, will it condemn her in the eyes of the barbarian who has capture not only her family, but also her heart?

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      Highland Heart is a historical romance about a young woman named Rachel and her sister, Isabelle, traveling with their father. Things are going well until they reach a forest and notice something isn't quite right. They are under attack and must flea quickly before they are kidnapped by the enemy. Before hand, Rachel sees a strange man standing in the forest, but he ends up injured and she saves him before she is taken. But she doesn't let being kidnap bring her down. She escapes but ends up finding the same man in the forest she saved, She doesn't know whether he is friend or foe, but she knows he will help her.

      Now this was one sexy little read I could read a million times over. I absolutely loved this. Alec is definitely book boyfriend worthy. Now that was a man. I loved him and how much he tried to defend his father against Rachel's dad. It seems as though Rachel's father, William, was swindling Alec's father out of his product. Alec definitely wanted payback and he deserved to get it. Rachel is an absolute favorite as well. That woman has balls of steel. No damsel in distress here. I love how she will do anything to get to her family. She steals a horse, goes running in the forest and through the mountains, and all while it is raining. She would do anything to get to her family and she didn't panic. Not to mention she has the ability to heal people. I wish we got more on that actually in this book because it was interesting, but still, she was amazing and that is all that matters.

      Now let me rant a little bit about Rachel and Isabelle. He was swindling Alec's father out of his money, but that is not even close to how awful he was. When push comes to shove, he didn't stick up for his daughters when it counted the most. The guy was scum. Rachel even makes excuses for his behavior which I guess makes sense since that is her dad. But that was too good for him. The guy was terrible. Not only is he crap, but then the story changes when we meet the men that kidnapped Rachel. You won't believe how the father acts then, hell you won't believe where that goes. I have never seen anything more crazy. Too many crazy men on one page let me tell you. My head was spinning with anger by that time. But I love all the emotion I got from this novella, so it is just part of the fun.

      Buy this little gem right now. It is super short, sweet, and sexy. The characters are a blast and I hope to read more about them. Besides not knowing much about Rachel's powers, I would have also liked to have known more about Rachel's and Alec's pasts. Both individually and together. We find out that they knew each other once when they were kids and she gave him a scare near his ear. But we don't learn much more than that though. Nonetheless, this was a great read even though there were no sex scenes. It was so close though. McCollum is a tease. Highly recommended.


Rating:




*This book belongs to the following challenges*
BCC's 100 Books In A Year Reading Challenge 2013!
BCC's Urban Fantasy & Paranormal Romance Reading Challenge 2013!

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About Heather McCollum

My first publication was in my local, small town newspaper when I was in second grade. My Christmas story had the word “tiptoed” in it which amazed my teacher and sky-rocketed me to publication. But I wasn’t sure that I wanted to be a writer. After all there was baton twirling, hula dancing, comedy and all sorts of other careers vying for my attention. 


My grandmother gave me my first romance novel when I was fourteen, The Flame and The Flower by Kathleen E. Woodiwiss. The heroine’s name is Heather and I fell in love with Captain Brandon Birmingham. I read it over and over and then began to devour all of Ms. Woodiwiss’s books. Not only did I fall in love with her stories, I fell in love with the romance genre. In a teenager’s world, where so many events seem like tragedies, whether they really are or not, romances guaranteed a happy ending. So I sat in our pre-Civil War Virginia farmhouse with my five rescued dogs and the ghosts (fodder for my ghost stories to come) and read.

Every essay I had to write in high school had a happy ending and a kiss. Most of my teachers advised me to major in English, including my chemistry teacher who still remembered the time I accidentally sparked a small fire in his room. So people were surprised when I flew off to a small college in Maine to major in Marine Biology. I was set on saving dolphins, snails, and ecosystems. Writing was too subjective, I said. With science, answers were right or wrong. 

I met my Captain Brandon my second year up in Maine, a six-foot four-inch dark-haired Scot. After four years of being muddy, wet and frozen while I tromped across mud flats with him, I earned my degree in Biology and headed to Grad school in the Southeast with my then fiancé. It didn’t take long before I realized that I liked working with people more than Petri dishes and I dropped out, found a job, and continued to read happy endings.

I married my Captain Brandon and settled down with two spunky Yorkshire Terriers. It was just before Christmas and we’d moved into a rental house. The front living room stood empty since we didn’t have enough furniture. So my DH set up a computer in the corner.
I sat down at that old computer . . . and began to type. Once the gates were opened I couldn’t stop. I continued to work, read romance, cuddle my dogs and love my DH. But something had changed. I could sit before the screen and transport back in time to sweeping Scottish landscapes, and all the anxieties of the day would fade. It was like a drug, very addictive, and unlike reading, I was in control. 

Now almost eighteen years later I have three spirited children, a crazy rescued golden retriever and live in the comfortable suburbs. Over the last year and a half I've donned teal armor and brandished the chemo claymore to battle ovarian cancer (stage IIc).If I knew for certain that this sneaky, vicious disease wouldn't take me away from my family, I wouldn't trade this amazing journey for anything. Love like I've never witnessed before flooded in over this year and a half, making it the hardest/sickest/scariest but also the best era of my life. Staring death in the face and fighting with every breath I had has strengthened my spirit and determination to enjoy every part of life as best I can. Suddenly all the refrigerator magnets make sense!
I'm so thankful that I'm doing well and that I'm able to read and write again. Because I’m convinced now - if you read enough happy endings, one is bound to come your way!

Follow Heather McCollum here:

2 comments:

  1. Great review. Love a strong heroine. Adding to my TBR list.

    Have a great day
    Wickedly Delicious Book Blog

    ReplyDelete
  2. @Wickedly Delicious Thank you so much hon. Hope you check it out. It is awesome. Thanks hon :D

    ReplyDelete

Due to the daily spam comments I have been getting lately and to avoid the annoying word verification, Anonymous comments are no more. I do not want bargains on bags, watches, jerseys, boots and other crap. Geez, they could at least spam me with book and movie stuff, I would be somewhat interested LOL! Thank you :D