Monday, August 8, 2011

Debra Holland: Wild Montana Sky

Wild Montana Sky
by Debra Holland
Buy links: Amazon * Smashwords * Barnes & Noble

Debra Holland, Ph.D is a psychotherapist and a three time RWA Golden Heart® finalist and one time winner. Wild Montana Sky, a sweet historical Western, won the GH in 2001 but didn’t sell (despite the efforts of two agents) because it was sweet, not sexy. In April, Debra took matters into her own hands and self-published Wild Montana Sky and the next book series, Starry Montana Sky.

About Wild Montana Sky:
A displaced Boston socialite travels to her friend's ranch in Montana. There she must adjust to the "wilds" of Montana and chose between the wealthy banker and the cowboy with only his heart to offer.

A lucky commenter can win a free ebook of Wild Montana Sky.  Yay!

RTW: What aspect of life in the Old West intrigues you the most? Did you work that into Wild Montana Sky?

DH: I’m intrigued by how life was completely different than it is now. How hard people had to work just to survive. The determination of the men and women to carve a new life for themselves and their families. How a woman could have more freedom in the West then she could in Eastern (or European) society.

I'm showing aspects of these concepts in the different books in the series.

RTW: If you lived in 1893, what modern convenience would you miss the most?

DH: My cell phone. Not only for making phone calls, but texting, checking my book sales, and reading emails. :)

RTW: What common errors in western historical romances bug you? Please enlighten us. :)

DH: It's not that it's an error, but I'm often bothered about the sex in historicals. Not that I'm against sex in romances, but for most women in history, sex was something that happened when they married. Ruined reputations and the very real possibility of having a child out of wedlock meant that they (and those around them) prized their virginity. Therefore, historical romance authors often have to really justify premarital sex, and sometimes they don't do a good job of it. In fact some of my favorite authors use the “I want to explore my sexuality” justification. The truth is for most unmarried women, as much as they enjoy sex, they have it because they care about the guy and want a relationship. This would be especially true for historical women, who (in many cultures) didn’t have the sexual freedom women do now.

RTW: Why is your hero, Nick Sanders drawn to your heroine, Elizabeth Hamilton? How did you form these characters?

DH: I was briefly dating a young cowboy, and we had nothing in common. (But he was cute and fun!) I thought, "If he and I lived 100 years ago in the West, who we are just might work." From there came my story. My hero, Nick, is physically based on my cowboy. Elizabeth is a little like me.

This is first scene in Wild Montana Sky:

Laurence married!

Elizabeth Hamilton leaned against the blue and gold papered wall of the entry hall and stared in shock at the telegram from her brother. Her vision blurred into dark whirls. She tried to breathe deeply lest she faint into a heap on the tiled floor, but with her lungs constricted by more than the tight lacings of her corset; she could only gasp for air.

Katie, the parlor maid, rushed forward, putting a steadying hand under Elizabeth’s elbow.

“Are you all right, Miss Hamilton?”

Elizabeth glanced at the anxious face of the maid and tried to pull herself together enough to dredge normal words from the maelstrom of her feelings. “I’m fine. Just a little faint.” She strove for a semblance of calm. “I need to sit down.”

Leaning on Katie, Elizabeth crossed the hall into the parlor. She sank into her favorite blue velvet wing chair, slumped against the cushions and closed her eyes.

“Should I bring your smelling salts, Miss Hamilton?”

Opening her eyes, Elizabeth shook her head. “I don’t have smelling salts. I’ve never needed them.”

“I could borrow Cook’s?”

“No, thank you.” Elizabeth tried to smile. “I’ll be fine.”

Katie’s indecision flickered in her brown eyes. She twisted her hands in her white ruffled apron. “I know it’s not my place to ask, Miss Hamilton, but is it bad news about Mr. Hamilton? Should I send for anyone?”

“Actually, it’s good news. I was just taken by surprise.” Elizabeth was too shaken to care if she broke protocol by not first sharing the news with the housekeeper.
“My brother has married.”

Katie drew in a hissing breath through her teeth. “Mr. Hamilton married?” The puzzled look on the maid’s face reflected Elizabeth’s own confused feelings. She looked again at the telegram in her hand.


“We’ll have a new mistress.” The girl covered her mouth, then dropped her hand. “Everything’s going to change,” she whispered.

Yes, everything.

Elizabeth tried to give her a reassuring smile. “We have a well-run household, Katie. I’m sure the new Mrs. Hamilton will make very few changes.” She waved her hand at the door. “I’m feeling better, thank you. You may go.”

The lump of pain lodged in Elizabeth’s throat belied her casual words to the maid. She’d no idea her brother had been courting anyone. Now suddenly he was married! And without inviting his own sister to the wedding. Hurt and betrayal burned through her chest. She stood up, balled her hands into fists, crushing the telegram, then threw it into the fireplace.

Unable to sit still, Elizabeth paced the room, trailing her fingers across the blue and silver striped wallpaper. When she had redecorated the parlor, she’d resisted the current fashion for darker shades of red. Instead, she’d spent many hours searching for soothing blues, which were a more personal statement of her tastes.

She had deluded herself into thinking this day would never come--that her brother would never marry, and she’d always serve as the mistress of his house and hostess for his business affairs. Yet at times she’d sensed the emptiness in his heart, hidden beneath a stiff exterior and busy business and social life, and wished he could find a congenial life companion.

She glanced up at the portrait of Laurence and herself painted twelve years ago, at the start of her first season. Callers always admired the picture of the tall, blond-haired, blue-eyed siblings. A much younger Elizabeth, dressed in the white silk and lace gown she’d worn to her debutante ball, sat in front of her brother. Laurence, in formal evening clothes, stood behind Elizabeth with his hand protectively on her shoulder.

Hope threaded through her hurt. Perhaps in Laurence’s bride she’d find a true sister--filling the empty place in her heart caused by her best friend’s marriage and move to Montana. Even though they’d been separated for ten years, she missed Pamela so much. How wonderful to have a close confidant once again--someone to help banish the loneliness trailing after her like a phantom.

A vision of her personal ghost slipped into Elizabeth’s mind. Tall and handsome, with laughing brown eyes and a playful grin--Richard, her beloved fiancĂ©.... The fingers of her right hand crept up to her chest--a familiar gesture--to clasp the gold locket containing his picture. If Richard had lived, he’d be teasing her now with outrageous descriptions of Laurence’s wife. In her laughter, she’d forget her pain. Of course, if he’d lived, this wouldn’t be an issue.

Somehow, after his death, eleven years had slipped by. Although she’d had offers, no one had measured up to Richard, and she’d refused to marry any man she didn’t love. Besides, her brother had always said he needed her.

Tears welled in her eyes. “I hope, Laurence--” she told the portrait “--you’ve found the kind of love Richard and I had.”

RTW: Thanks for the excerpt! What are you writing now? What's your next release? When?

DH: I'm writing the third book in the series, Stormy Montana Sky. I hope to have it out in the fall.

I also have the first two books of a paranormal series coming out in a few weeks.

RTW: Anything else you'd like to add?

DH: I’ve had fun becoming a self-published author. In ten weeks, I've sold over 5000 books! It's been a wonderful journey!

One lucky commenter will win a free ebook of
Wild Montana Sky!!!

Winner will be drawn on August 13 at 10pm Pacific Time.  Please remember to include your email address in your comment.


  1. Wild Montana Sky sounds wonderful. Elizabeth Hemilton sounds like an interesting character. I agree that sex doesn't always fit well into every historical romance and I personally enjoy reading some stories that focus on the sweetness of the romance without it. The characters do need to reflect the period of time they live in.


  2. This sounds like a story I want to read. I can see where this story is going and I have to read to see if I am right...
    I wish you well with the book..


  3. This sounds interesting. I'd like to read it.


  4. Sounds like my kinda story. Thanks for the chance to win a copy

  5. Welcome, Debra! Thanks for agreeing to spend the week with us.

  6. Hi Debra,

    This series sounds really good. I've never attempted a series before--but will shortly, with my sequel to Time Plains Drifter. You must be totally thrilled to have sold so many books in such a short time. Congratulations!

  7. Wild Montana Sky sounds fabulous. I cringe to think that publishers can't sell wonderful stories because the sex scenes aren't racy enough. Doesn't anyone care about a well told story any more?amazingly, most classical stories that have stood the test of time have no sex scenes in them. What a shame.
    Do you feel that your profession a psychotherapist helps you form good internal conflict in your characters? I would think that would be a plus.
    I wish you all the best Debra.

  8. Thanks to all of you who thought Wild Montana Sky sounds like a good read. A lot of readers agree with you because I've sold about 9,000 copies in a little over three months.

    Cheryl, good luck with your series. I love to read series, and I've enjoyed writing them. There's something about revisiting familiar characters and a place that heartwarming. I feel like my town of Sweetwater Springs, Montana has become a character of it's own.

    Sarah, sometimes my professional opinion gets in the way, which is why I don't like over the top Alpha heros unless it's a paranormal book and somehow they are justified (otherwise too abusive and controlling) and why I don't like books where strangers jump into bed right away (women usually ending up bonding through sex in a way that men don't.) I do try to spend a lot of time creating the character's childhood wound. I also will try to add some of what I know as a therapist to my characters. For example, in one book, I give one of the boys some symptoms of ADHD. One of the boys I'm currently writing was severely traumatized and abused, and I'm giving him trauma symptoms.

    Thanks for the best wishes.

  9. So let's play with luck, maybe it still exists, in any case, thank you for diamonds through its pen divided such wonderful thoughts with us. Best regards! Steven. I added you to favorites

  10. Wishing you much success with your books. They sound great!
    Cher :-)

  11. Steven, thanks for adding me to your favorites.

    Cheryl, thanks for the best wishes.

  12. Was Wild Montana Skies made into a movie?


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