I met Holly Bush at the Liberty States Fiction Writers' conference in March. We became instant friends and I invited her to visit us here at SOS Aloha. From her bio,
I grew up in a home where I was surrounded by books. There was not a room that did not hold a bookcase, stack or shelves of books. My father didn't care what we read, although he did, as long as we read something, even a comic book. His stack of books beside his reading chair that sat next to a sunny window was a strange mix of westerns, political intrigue, current affairs, science fiction and the odd biography. Books made me curious, comforted me, excited me, scared me and gave me glimpses into lives and worlds beyond my reach. What a gift - the written word - what a gift!
Kim: Western Pennsylvania! What is your favorite sight, sound, and smell of the Keystone State?
Holly: I live in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, but was born and raised in Latrobe, in the western part of the state. While driving back on the turnpike recently it struck me, as it always does, how gorgeous Pennsylvania is with its magnificent views of patch-worked farms and forest lands, especially after exiting the Tuscarora or Blue Mountain Tunnels. It always makes me think about the Native Americans and the first settlers in our state and how some of the dense woods and topography that I am seeing now is the same that they saw centuries ago. It is no surprise they decided to carve out a home.
Spring time is a favorite season of mine and much of that can be attributed to the smell of turned dirt. There is something very basic, very primitive about that loam scent that reminds me of all the simplest and most treasured things in life. Being in Lancaster County is a boon for me, as it is home to some of the richest and most productive soil on the planet, and there is no shortage of turned fields in the spring. The smell outside of the Wilbur Bud chocolate factory, or of spaghetti sauce when it is simmering on the stove, and the perfume my mother wore all of her life are all somewhere at the top of this list as well.
Pennsylvania is not the only place in the world to hear laughter but it is the only place to hear the laughter of my daughters and grandchildren and husband and friends. I don’t mind the babble of a brook or the hiss of a campfire either.
Kim: Who or what helped you along the path to publishing?
Holly: My husband, daughters, and my sister have always been very supportive of my writing and my attempts at traditional publishing. I wrote query letters, mailed them, and waited for replies from a publisher or an agent about my books for a decade or more and my family was there to celebrate the positive and commiserate about the negative. I attended conferences and worked diligently to try and make my writing better and learn every lesson I could from those with more experience, but I was never able to land a contract or an agent. I had given up writing for about two years when Amazon began to offer self-publishing. My husband encouraged me to try selling one of my books there and I published Romancing Olive in November of 2011 and began to sell books and gather readers. I followed in the spring of 2012 with Train Station Bride, not knowing that mail order brides were a ‘thing.’ That book took off and I’ve never looked back. In addition to my family, I’ve met some wonderful folks along the way, bloggers and reviewers that were kind enough to share my books with their followers. I’ve been very fortunate!
Kim: Tell us about THE MAID'S QUARTERS - what inspired it?
Holly: The main character in The Maid’s Quarters is Alice Porterman. She is a character in the second book of the Crawford Family series, Contract to Wed, as a maid to Jolene Shelby. Alice was an integral player in how Jolene’s story unfolded, however she was never the focus of a section of that book as some other minor characters were and I always felt she had a story to tell.
Kim: What's next for Holly Bush?
Holly: The Crawford Family Series began with Train Station Bride where we meet the middle daughter, Julia. She agrees to marry an aging shopkeeper who she has corresponded with in order to escape a life of ridicule and begin a life of her own in South Dakota. A mix-up at the train station changes her plans irrevocable. Contract to Wed is the second book and is about Jolene Crawford Crenshaw Shelby, the oldest daughter, who is sometimes bitter and cold, but has had some tragedies in her life that she has never dealt with. She agrees to marry the brother of an acquaintance in order to continue in the elevated social position she is accustomed to. Jolene takes only her maid, Alice, with her when she moves to Texas. I am currently writing Jennifer’s story, the youngest Crawford daughter and am hoping to publish that book this fall.
It has been wonderful to be here! Thank you so much for having me! If anyone has questions, feel free to ask – I love to gab romance!
Mahalo, Holly, for sharing your historical world with us! Learn more about Holly and her books at hollybushbooks.com.
I am giving away a digital copy of THE MAID'S QUARTERS to one randomly selected commenter:
1893 . . . Alice Porterman is released from her duties as a maid and travels home to help her mother care for her sickly brother. But her mother and brother are not in their family home when Alice arrives and she learns the landlord, Albert Donahue, has evicted them into the harsh Boston winter. Alice goes in search of him and is surprised at what she finds.
Albert Donahue, an up-and-coming member of Boston’s elite, made his fortune through hard work and shrewd business deals. But his dreams of a family to share it with have not come true, perhaps until an impertinent young woman enters his home and won’t leave until she speaks to him.
The Maid’s Quarters novella is part of the Crawford Family Series, featuring Jolene Shelby’s maid, Alice.
To enter the giveaway,
1. Leave a comment about Pennsylvania - what do you know about it? My in-laws hail from Latrobe, home of Rolling Rock, Mr. Rodgers, and Arnold Palmer.
2. Comments are open through Saturday, July 25, 10 pm in Baltimore.
3. I'll post the winner on Sunday, July 26.
Kim in Baltimore
Aloha Spirit in Charm City