Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Casey's Soul String--Guest Casey Clifford--plus GIVEAWAY!

Casey Clifford shared first sales roses with me and Helen C. Johannes at that memorable WisRWA conference in 2009. She's an amazing educator and author, and an even more amazing person. Her tag line, "Wise women. Sensitive heroes. Thoughtful stories.", shines in each and ever word of her writing. Please help me welcome Casey!

Thank you, Mary, for this opportunity to tell your readers about my latest writing project and how it came about.

Would you believe the germ of this story emerged from long solitary walks to and from campus during the years I was going to graduate school?

And that was in the 1970s!

My main character BJ Kelly was like that imaginary friend some kids develop in early childhood. But for me, she was a companion when I didn’t want to think about lectures, papers and projects.

After graduate school, I settled into my career and raising my children. Once the boys were pretty much grown and my career firmly settled, my desire to write fiction reasserted itself. I took classes and studied writing craft in my spare time. When I retired, and people kept telling me I should write a book about my life, I laughed.

I would write books and began the process of submission. Sometime, maybe after the fourth manuscript and about the 1000th time someone said “write about your life” well, BJ popped into my head.

No, I wasn’t and still aren’t ready to write my life story, fictionalized or not, but BJ was more than willing to help me tell hers. And thus Soul String was created.

All 250,000 words. Yep, way too long, especially for today’s reading world. So I cut, edited, and set the manuscript aside. Wrote a different book. Then pulled out Soul String again. Fell in love with the story and did some more cutting, revising and editing. Set the book aside again. Wrote another book. And another book.

Even finally, wonder of wonders, got published. Finally…and won the Holt Medallion for Literary Achievement for best first book and the Write Touch Readers’ Award for Best Romantic Suspense. Wrote the sequel to that book and another one after that.

When someone said to me again, “when you writing about your life?” Not happening…So I wrote another book.

But BJ kept bugging me. The publishing world was changing drastically. Readers were reading with Kindles and Nooks, on their phones or iPads. Indie publishing was becoming accepted and readers were grabbing up shorter books.

But I had this book, now more manageable at about 110,000 words and BJ was bugging the heck out of me. She wanted her story in the hands of readers!

If I knew anything at all about BJ, who now wanted to be called Brenna, was determination and achieving her goals drove her.

So I pulled out the manuscript with her whispering in my ear. “Do it. Now.”

I looked the story over, fell in love with it again, realized a needed to make a few changes but those would be easy. (You can imagine, Brenna was clapping gleefully and urging me on.) But I still struggled with the length of it.

Then I remembered how novellas seemed to be really selling well, especially digitally. Taking that idea, I re-evaluated the manuscript. I thought of the popularity of the miniseries or short season TV programs.

And made a decision to cut Brenna’s story into parts. Thus the Soul String Saga was born. Brenna overjoyed. She even leaves me along now except once a week or so, she eggs me about writing my own story. I just shake me head. Not a chance.

Soul String is the story of BJ, Brenna Kelly, a determined young woman from an Irish Catholic family. These five novellas are the story of her journey through her twenties and thirties. You all know how challenging those years can be.

Her journey starts in the early 1970s and ends in the early 1990s. Times of change and turmoil for women seeing themselves as wanting different things from what women traditionally wanted. Striving for careers and success, finding challenges in breaking the mold or following their dreams, finding love and losing it, gaining enemies and dealing with it.

I’m partial. I’ve loved BJ since she kept me company on those long walks to and from campus all those years ago. I loved the life she chose and how she lived it. I feel fortunate she’s allowed me to meet those in her life who became friends, lovers, enemies. She’s given me a rousing time creatively.

I hope readers will feel the same.

Currently, Soul String Saga is available in digital format through Kindle, Nook, KOBO, and Apple. They are Soul String, Book 1, Soul String: The Key—Book 2, and Soul String: Broken—Book 3. Book 4 should be available the day Mary posts this. Book 5 which ends the series, should hopefully be available in late April 2013. For those of you who still love print, I’m expecting the series to be in print this summer.

I hope you enjoy the blurb and excerpt below for Soul String: Passport, Book 4.

Available: Kindle Kindle
                Nook Nook

Land a contract. Have passport, will travel. Falling in love optional

The contract required a trip to London for a business meeting

Brenna knows this meeting could spell disaster for her and Kelly Worldwide. Or offer an opportunity to increase her profits and produce increased career opportunities. She doesn’t expect the immediate attraction she feels to the man she meets…

Quinn Harrington is determined to expand his family company but realizes he needs Brenna’s talents to further his plans. A widower raising a teenaged daughter he’s not prepared for the powerful impact Brenna has for him as a woman. A cautious man he offers another project to see what she can do with a complex situation.

A year in France, a complicated problem resolved and more travel convinces Brenna this kind of work really appeals to her. When Quinn offers another opportunity to travel to India, China and Japan, she agrees.

This decision changes the course of their lives

(A scene from Chapter 1)

“You’re alive, smiling, and able to talk. Your meeting must have gone well.” Nick bussed her on her cheek just before she slid into the booth opposite him.

“You were right. Quinn Harrington is a fair man.”

“But you dazzled him, right?” He poured her a glass of champagne he’d ordered before she arrived.

“How’d you know? Did he call you?” Her last was more accusation than question.

“Heck no. I’ve got faith in you, and the Brits celebrate with champagne.” He raised his glass to toast. She followed suit.

“Well, he didn’t outright agree. But the options are out there for him now.”

“And you’re still alive to drink champagne with me.”

“And eat soon, I hope. I’m starved.”

“So we’ll order and drink and you can tell me all about it.”

Brenna looked at him after she ordered. What a gorgeous man. Sexy as men came. Full of swagger and flirtation. He’d become a good friend. They’d traveled many miles since she started working with HLM. They’d shared many fun times with him. Especially since Caleb walked away.

But never once other than that first night when they danced at Debbie and Will’s wedding had she ever felt a twinge of real sexual desire for him. Sometime about a year after receiving Caleb’s letter, she decided that she must have put away all those feelings in that same little box that held his ring, letter, and the key to their Soul String Hideaway.

Because if any red-blooded male could have tempted her it should have been Nick.

Instead today, she felt that old familiar twinge when Quinn Harrington and her knees briefly touched. Since he moved away as quickly as she did and his eyes never lost that twinkle of interest, she knew.

He’d felt it too.

“Hey, boss lady, you’re a million light years away. Reliving your victory, are you? Should we be calling your meeting the Miracle on Bishopsgate?” He forked up a bit of his steak and kidney pie.

She stabbed at her shepherd’s pie. “Guess I was. Going over what I might have improved on.”

“Well don’t. We’re celebrating. You’re success. Now eat.”

When they finished which took a while since the pub wasn’t rushed, Nick ordered a single malt since he didn’t have to drive. She ordered tea while she looked over the dessert menu.

“Want to share a dessert?” she asked him. Oftentimes they shared one when they shared a meal like tonight.

“Depends on what you’re thinking of ordering.”

“Oh, something decidedly English. Not something we’d likely get in Milwaukee.” She glanced at him and chuckled. “I’m leaning toward syllabub. My dairy farmer’s daughter heritage must be asserting itself. It’s made with rich cream, sugar and wine. How could we go wrong?”

“I guess…don’t think it’ll mix well with my scotch.”

“I’m getting it. I think the name is jolly.”

“Oh, save me. She turning into a Brit,” he teased.

“Exactly why I said it that way. But I am intrigued by the name. It rolls off my tongue in a delightful way.”

“Now you’re sounding like Mary Poppins.”

“But I don’t use my bumbershoot to get around.”

The server came and set a syllabub serving set on a lovely plate in front of Brenna.

“Looks pretty bland…” Nick grumbled.

Brenna spooned up a taste. Rolled it around in her mouth as if she were tasting wine. “But it tastes yummy.”

“I think I’ll pass…” He took another sip of scotch as she took another bite.

“More for me that way.” She took another bite and shot Nick a grin. “You’re the best, fly boy. Thanks…celebrating alone wouldn’t have been nearly as much fun.”

Find out more about me, the Soul String Saga and my other books at these sites on line.

Casey's giving away an eBook copy of Soul String: Passport (or 5 if the winner already has 4, to be sent when it's available) to one lucky commenter! Through Thursday, winner picked by random number Friday. (Please leave your email if you want Casey to contact you directly if you win.)


  1. What a lovely post. A great story of how a character can capture our hearts and hang onto it for dear life. I love your idea of self-publishing it in segments, like serials. Awesome. Wishing you great sales.

    1. Vonnie,

      What inspired me to do it like a miniseries was the success of shows like Downtown Abbey, and several on cable TV. Plus I'd read several articles on how digital readers want shorter reads and buy them. But I've gotten one out each month and that's been pretty crazy.

      The book as written was shopped around and because it covers several years, has sub-plots and a 2 intense love relationships with my heroine, it's more WF than what romance publishers wanted.

      Thanks for stopping by.

  2. I just started the first book in this series, and I already LOVE it, Casey! Brenna & Caleb have totally captivated me. But with the kids home for Spring Break, I'm having trouble finding Mommy time to read. Fricken school breaks...LOL

    Your author pic is beautiful, by the way, I love it! :-)

  3. Donna,

    I know what you mean about not having time to read when the kids are around. However, the books will always be there. Not so the kids. They have a habit of growing up and going away.

    I'm so glad you're loving Brenna and Caleb. They were the product of too much time walking back and forth to classes alone. But they stuck in my head and insisted I do something with them.

    Thanks for stopping by.:-)

  4. Casey, I'm definitely enjoying this series of yours, Brenna is a great character. (I enjoy all your books!) The other day I mentioned on FB I couldn't wait for #4 and when you mentioned it was out early, I grabbed it. Today I was going to give myself a break after a long morning of productive work, I was going to read while eating my lunch, but the darn Kindle needed to be recharged. So, I'm back to work and will read tonight. :) Then I'll have to wait for #5!

  5. Stacey,

    I'm about 2/3rds done with the final revision I'll be sending to the editor, hopefully after Easter. Oh dear, that's this Sunday...well, sometime next week.

    I'm so glad you're enjoying Brenna's journey. Thanks for commenting.

  6. Great post! Determination really pays off and I guess we can say that BJ was determined to get her story told one way or the other...lol....I loved the excerpt! I'll have to get the first book and start there.

    Thanks for the giveaway

    junegirl63 at gmail dot com

  7. Maria,

    You're are so right. Brenna is absolutely determined to achieve her goals. In her story and in pushing me to write her story. I'm so glad you enjoyed that excerpt and I hope you love the first book. Be sure to let me know.

    Thanks for commenting. :-)

  8. Thanks again for visiting, Casey! I got Passport and I'm so looking forward to diving into Brenna's story :)

    Casey asked me to announce her giveaway winner, picked by random number. Thanks to everyone for reading and commenting. Then winner is Donna Marie Rogers! Donna, congrats! Casey will be contacting you about your prize.

  9. Mary,

    Thank you for this opportunity. I enjoyed putting together my thoughts and materials for this spot. So did Brenna.

    Have a great weekend. :-)

  10. Wow, Casey, 250,000 words. BJ had quite the story to tell. She must have been a big talker on your walks. Glad she wouldn't let the story go. It sounds great!

  11. Eliza,

    Oh, she was a talker. And I thought her story very interesting. She was persistent also.

    Thanks for stopping by.