Monday, December 19, 2011

Guest: Liz Flaherty

Today my guest is Liz Flaherty.  Welcome Liz.

Thank you for having me here today, Marie. I’m having a great time traveling around looking for a warm place to light.

Tell us a little about yourself.

I’m a country girl, married 40 years to my true-life hero, grandmother to the Magnificent Seven. I sew—not well, by any means, but a lot; I’m on a mission to make a bed-size quilt for each of the Seven. I’m on Number Five right now and he’s champing at the bit. Unfortunately for him, I chose now to learn how to do triangles and I’m doing them rather…badly. And slowly.

I’m on a fitness binge right now, hoping to lose to a healthy weight. I’ve gotten there  before, but maintaining it has always been beyond me. I’m feeling so wonderful now that I hope this is my time. 

What do like the most and the least about writing?

What I like most is the doing of it. I just love words and how they can be transformed into such beautiful things. 

What I like least, hands down, is promotion. I feel as though I’m constantly asking people to like me and annoying them in the process.

Give us a peek into your latest published work? 

ONE MORE SUMMER will be out from Carina Press on January 2—what a way to start the new year! Here’s what it’s about.

Grace has taken care of her widowed father her entire adult life and the ornery old goat has finally died. She has no job, no skills and very little money, and has heard her father’s prediction that no decent man would ever want her so often she accepts it as fact.
But she does have a big old house on Lawyers Row in Peacock, Tennessee. She opens a rooming house and quickly gathers a motley crew of tenants – Promise, Grace’s best friend since kindergarten, who’s fighting cancer; Maxie, an aging soap opera actress who hasn’t lost her flair for the dramatic; Jonah, a sweet gullible old man with a crush on Maxie.

And Dillon, Grace’s brother’s best friend, who stood her up on the night of her senior prom and has regretted it ever since. Dillon rents Grace’s guest house for the summer and hopes to make up for lost time and past hurts – but first, he’ll have to convince Grace that she’s worth loving…

What’s next on the writing horizon for you?

It’s the holidays, so I’m not being terribly productive, but I have started—though I’m still at the stage of writing a page and promptly deleting two—a sequel to ONE MORE SUMMER. It’s a new avenue for me, so we’ll see how it pans out.

Is there anything you want to tell readers?

Merry Christmas! I hope you have a most joyous holiday season and the best year imaginable in 2012. Thank you for stopping to visit.

Here's an excerpt from One More Summer:

Beautiful? Grace stood in front of the mirror and stared curiously at herself. No, not by any means. But—she reached up to fluff the hair drying into soft curls on top of her head—better. Undeniably better.

Lights were on in the cottage in the trees, and she wondered what Dillon was doing. Then her gaze fell on the gazebo with its torn screens and rotting floor and her stomach twisted into a knot that felt like a fist pushing its way to the outside. A shudder rippled through her and she clutched the windowsill for support.

He said beautiful. Put that in your pipe and smoke it, Papa. She stroked her arms firmly with the palms of her hands, as though brushing away the bruises Robert had left there more times than she could count. Less often after he’d cut her face with his ring, but often enough she still expected to see dark spots on her skin.

She was restless. Enlivened. Part of it was the adrenaline fed by her fear for Promise. But another part was the attractive haircut, the memory of Dillon’s thumb stroking her cheek and his voice saying softly, “Beautiful.”

The echo of that voice still fell on her ears when she reached for the oversize T-shirt she wore to bed. She immediately put it back down and donned a dress Faith had given her. No more than a slip of thin cotton knit in a dark cranberry color, its neckline scooping low both front and back, it fell to her ankles without binding anywhere. Not only was it comfortable, it made her feel sort of…sexy.

Grace’s cheeks burned at the turn her thoughts had taken, then she got mad for blushing and wondered if she had any nail polish around. She’d just paint her toenails, so there. It wasn’t like there was anything wrong with sexy, was there?

Downstairs, she poured a glass of wine, even though it was only Monday night, and slipped quietly through the kitchen and porch doors into the backyard. She stood for a moment, undecided what to do now that she was out here, and frowned in disappointment when the first drops of rain began to fall.

Unwilling to relinquish the freedom of being outside alone in the dark, she walked around the side of the house to the seldom-used front porch. Her mother’s beloved rattan furniture was still there, but she settled into the padded swing that faced Lawyers Row. She sat sideways, dropped one foot to set the swing in motion, then drew her knees up.

Dillon’s soft whistle preceded him around the house. He stepped onto the porch, carrying a wine bottle and a glass, and sat uninvited on the other end of the swing. His thigh brushed her bare toes and she made to draw away, but his hand clasping her foot stopped her retreat.

“How’s Maxie’s headache?” he asked, kneading the foot with a rhythmic motion. His thumb found the nail of her big toe and stroked over the polished surface. Again and again. Slowly.

Grace’s entire body turned to gooseflesh. “Better. She went to sleep early. Jonah sat with her, massaging her temples. Promise tried to tell me he was crazy about her, but I didn’t think so. Maybe I was wrong.”

“Love takes back roads sometimes.” His voice sounded hollow, and when she tried to meet his eyes, she couldn’t. What back roads had he traveled? And how had he been hurt on those travels?

They sat in silence that was both companionable and fraught with awareness, sipping wine and—once—clinking their glasses in an unspoken toast
“Tell me about where you’ve been,” she said suddenly. “What you’ve seen.”

“No.” He softened the refusal with a tickle on the arch of one of her feet, then reached to refill her glass. “You tell me. Tell me what’s happened to Grace Elliot since her date for the prom didn’t show up.”

“Nothing. I’m the same as I was then.” She was, mostly. The damage had been done long before prom night. “And I haven’t been anywhere, so I like to hear about where other people have gone.” And I like to hear your voice. It makes me feel…

Even in her thoughts, she couldn’t put into words how the sound of his voice touched her. How it stroked over her skin like tenderness. How it strengthened her spirit to the point that facing another day was something to be anticipated instead of dreaded. Her tongue loosened by the wine, she said, “Please.”

He told her about England and Ireland , making her see thatched roofs and pubs in narrow lanes and more shades of green than she could imagine. He skipped over France because he said he hadn’t liked it there and spoke with admiration of free-spirited Australians, adopting horrendous accents in the telling that made her smile.

The wine bottle was nearly empty when he said, “That’s the end of the travelogue.”

“No, it’s not.” She reached, turning his face so he could no longer avoid her eyes. “You haven’t mentioned Iraq .”

He hesitated. “Didn’t you see enough of war living with Robert Elliot all those years?”

“That was cold war, and it’s over.” Though she shivered as she said it.

“War’s over for me too.”

“No, it’s not.” It’s back there in the guesthouse in that book you’re writing—I’d bet my big toe on it.

“The soldiers were so bored most of the time,” he began, “and yet the fear was something you could taste. Fear and sand and strangeness. You could sense courage, and a feeling of rightness. I stayed longer, dug deeper, listened harder. I saw more than I had ever seen before.” He lifted his glass to his lips and drained it.

The pain was thick in his voice, even in the grip of his fingers on her foot. Without taking the time to think about it, she laid her hand on his.

When he clasped her wrist to pull her to him and fold her into his arms, she didn’t pull away, nor did she stiffen. His heart beat strong and steady under the hand she rested on his chest, and she stroked with light, hesitant touches. She wanted to give comfort, but didn’t know how.

He held her so tightly it hurt, but at the same time sensation flowed blissfully through muscles and into places she’d known she had but hadn’t given all that much thought to recently. It was like a salve on the omnipresent worry over Promise’s illness. Grace sat quiet in Dillon’s arms and realized for the first time in her life that sometimes the giving of comfort leads to ease for the comforter.

She realized something more too. That there was heat wherever he touched her. With the heat, came longing. It started in her toes, still warm from the touch of his fingers, and rumbled through her body to rest low in her abdomen. Even as she settled more comfortably into his embrace, she blamed the sensations on the dress, the unaccustomed varnish on her toenails, the haircut.

But it was more. It was more.

Twitter @LizFlaherty1 or look me up on Facebook! 

Thanks for being here today, Liz.

1 comment:

Liz Flaherty said...

Hi, Marie:

Thanks for having me!