~~Tori Scott~~Author Spotlight and Interview

Tori Scott has been seriously writing with an eye toward publication for 15 years, though she’s been spinning tales and writing Tori Scottpoetry since elementary school. She is a former Golden Heart finalist in the prestigious RWA writing contest, a winner in several regional contests, a finalist in the International Digital Awards, and a semi-finalist in the Best Indie Books of 2012. She lists several publications among her accomplishments, including a featured Christmas story–The Christmas Wish–in Woman’s World magazine.

Tori loves reading, swimming, photography, traveling, and especially writing. When she can talk him into it, she loves riding on the back of her husband’s Harley. She’s an animal lover, and though she’s now down to one dog, at one point she owned cows, chickens, goats, rabbits, ducks, four dogs, and a mule named Doc. You’ll likely find animals of one kind or another in her books.

Tori was born in West Texas, raised in North Texas, and now lives in East Texas. Most of her books are set in one of these areas, but especially West Texas because the people who were born and raised there have a code of ethics that makes for great heroes. It takes a tough man or woman to deal with the tornadoes, dust storms, hail, blizzards, rattlesnakes, and drought that are so common in the Panhandle. But they handle whatever comes their way and become stronger for it.

Tori’s husband, Tony, is the inspiration for many of her heroes. He’s a country boy who can build a house, ride a Harley, handle a rifle in defense of his family, and wade into a pack of fighting dogs to save her precious Blue Heeler. What more could you ask for?

 

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CJ ~ Tell us a little about yourself and your background.

TS ~ I fell in love at first sight and knew the moment I met my husband that he was the man I was going to marry. We’ve been married 41 years and we have four children and 5 grandchildren. I was only 17 when we met, so I’ve never lived on my own. My kids can’t imagine that now, but that wasn’t unusual at the time. It took me a long time to discover that I actually had talents beyond being a wife and mother. I did manage to finish college–when I was 35 and had 4 children, the youngest only 9 months old. I’ve been a Christian school teacher and administrator, a child care director, a car salesman, insurance salesman, and portrait consultant. Rather than feeling like I was a job-hopper, I prefer to think of it as gaining life experience for my writing.

CJ ~ What inspired you to write your first book?

TS ~ A lot of things happened to me between 1998 and 2000. I lost my father, my oldest daughter got married, the youngest decided she wanted to go to boarding school. I was faced with a nearly empty nest for the first time in twenty-two years and decided it was my time. I’d written a novel in 1992, but at the time I had no idea what to do with it. As the end of the millennium rolled around, I got serious about writing. I got online and discovered RWA. I found out there were a lot of people like me out there, and they were willing to share what they knew. Once I understood the basics, I sat down and went to work.

CJ ~ What book has had the most influence in your life?

TS ~ Overall, I’d have to say the King James Bible. I loved the beauty of the writing, the wisdom and message within its pages. The second most influential was probably the Cherry Ames series of books. I read them as a young teen, and they helped shape my view of what a good person was like. I wanted to be just like her.

CJ ~ How much truth is in your fiction?

TS ~ I think every writer shares a bit of herself in her writing, and sometimes true bits and pieces of life end up in the stories. Which parts, I’ll never tell.

CJ ~ If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor and why?

TS ~ That would be very difficult for me to choose just one. It was a whole group of women–The Wet Noodle Posse–who helped keep me going and never let me give up. These women were all 2003 Golden Heart Finalists with me, and we’re all still friends to this day. They’re the ones who convinced me to put my books up on Amazon after a disappointing experience with my one publisher.

CJ ~ Who is your favorite author(s) and what is it that really strikes you about their work?

TS ~ It would be hard to choose just one. There are so many talented authors out there. I love Allison Brennan’s thrillers, Nora Roberts’ romances, Linda Lael Miller’s western romances, Stephanie Feagan’s comedies, Bronwyn Parry’s Australian mysteries. And so many, many others.

CJ ~ Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?

TS ~ Just making myself do it. I get distracted by the internet, my husband, housework, the dog.

CJ ~ What are you working on now? What is your next project?

TS ~ I’m working on the final book in the Lone Star Cowboys series, book 6 which doesn’t have a title yet. My next project will be a novella for a group project with the Authors of Main Street. We did a Christmas collection that was very successful and we’ll be coming out with a new collection for the summer.

CJ ~ Do you have any strange writing habits (like standing on your head or writing in the shower)?

TS ~ No, other than the fact that I do the majority of my writing between 2 and 4 a.m.

CJ ~ How important are names to you in your books? Do you choose the names based on liking the way it sounds or the meaning? Do you have any name choosing resources you recommend?

TS ~ I mostly go with names that sound like the kind of character I’m writing. I’m at the point, though, where I need to start a file with all the names in my books so I don’t re-use the same ones.

CJ ~ Are you a plotter or a panster?

TS ~ Definitely a panster. I start writing with only a very vague idea of where the story might go. It takes me twice as long to write the first third of the book as it does the last two thirds, because I’m getting to know my characters and their motivations. I’ve tried plotting, but I found that if I know how it all turns out, I feel no need to write it.

CJ ~ What do you consider to be your best accomplishment?

TS ~ Finishing that first book. That was huge for me. Up until then, I was notorious for starting projects, but never finishing them.

CJ ~ Is there one subject you would never write about as an author? What is it?

TS ~ I probably won’t ever write zombies or vampires. Just not my thing. I’m also old-fashioned enough that I won’t ever write a ménage or multiple partners.

CJ ~ Is there a certain type of scene that’s harder for you to write than others? Love? Action? Racy?

TS ~ Love scenes are hard for me because I always skip them in my reading unless the author is really good at showing the emotions more than the actions. I don’t like reading about every little move, touch, or part A into part B. I like reading the emotions of falling in love, but I don’t need a manual on the how-to’s of sex.

CJ ~ What is your least favorite part of the publishing / writing process?

TS ~ It used to be the submission process. Being an Indie author let me put that chore behind me. And what a relief!

CJ ~ What writing advice do you have for other aspiring authors?

TS ~ Quit thinking about it and do it. Don’t expect to be the next JK Rowling or Nora Roberts. You probably won’t be. But that’s okay. If you really want to write and have a gift for it, you’ll make your own name and place in the publishing world.

CJ ~ Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

TS ~ Still writing, still married, but hopefully with a pool in my backyard so I can get lots of inspiration while soaking up the Texas sun.

Just some fun questions:

CJ ~ Characters often find themselves in situations they aren’t sure they can get themselves out of. When was the last time you found yourself in a situation that was hard to get out of and what did you do?

TS ~ I got my husband and I into a job that we both grew to despise, a job that sucked the very life out of us, but at our age we didn’t have many options. That’s when I kicked my writing into high gear and put my books on Amazon and Smashwords, amateurish covers and all. They sold so well we were able to retire 6 months later. I have never been so grateful for anything in my life.

CJ ~ Does your significant other recognize his moves in your writing?

TS ~ I’m sure he does, but he never says anything.

CJ ~ If you had a superpower, what would it be?

TS ~ I would love to be able to be invisible so I could see what people say in secret.

CJ ~ What literary character is most like you?

TS ~ Probably Scarlet O’Hara. All drama when I was younger, but able to knuckle down and do the hard work when necessary. And still a dreamer when all is said and done.

CJ ~ What secret talents do you have?

TS ~ I can pour concrete, build a house (with the hubby’s help), and cook a pretty decent meal.

CJ ~ Where is one place you want to visit that you haven’t been before?

TS ~ Alaska. I’ve been to 40 of the 50 states, and hope to see them all by the end of the year.

CJ ~ If you were an animal in a zoo, what would you be?

TS ~ Probably a polar bear. They have their own pool, can eat all they want, and nap all winter.

CJ ~ What were you like as a child? Your favorite toy?

TS ~ I was a good kid until I became a teenager. Then I was a monster. Well, okay, I still wasn’t that bad, but I had a smart mouth that got me into trouble more than once. Favorite toy? Probably my roller skates.

CJ ~ Do you dream? If so, what do you dream about.

TS ~ I dream a lot, but I have trouble remembering them when I wake up unless I’ve had a nightmare. The most memorable usually involve me being chased by foreign soldiers.

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 His mom and dad were coming to the Finals. Cooper had been on the circuit for nearly twenty years, and this was the first time thebluesteyesintexasthey’d agreed to come see him ride. He knew they watched him on television because sometimes his dad would call to critique his ride or his mom would call to see how badly he’d been injured. But they’d never come to an event before.
     Cooper wasn’t quite sure how he felt about that. Glad that they would finally get to see him ride before he retired. Terrified they’d see him fail.
     “Hey, Cooper. Where’ve you been? Haven’t seen you out much this trip.”
     He looked behind him to see Leanne strutting her stuff, with the requisite big hair sprayed to a plastic sheen, overdone makeup and fake eyelashes, low cut jeans, and shit kicker boots. Her brightly-colored top was tied just under an impressive pair of fake boobs. There’d been a time when Leanne had given him a place to stay, a warm bed, and a home-cooked meal when he came to Cincinnati, but this time he hadn’t bothered to look her up.
     “Not feelin’ up to partyin’ these days, Leanne.”
     She sidled up close behind him, thrust her pelvis against his butt, and slid her arms around his waist. “We could take the party back to my place, just the two of us. I have some steaks in the freezer and beer in the fridge.”
     Cooper removed her hands from his belt buckle and stepped away. “Not this time.”
     A hurt look passed across her face before her eyes turned frosty. “Well, ain’t that just great. All these times you’ve taken advantage of my hospitality and suddenly I’m not good enough? Is that it?”
     “No, that’s not it.” Cooper sighed. Actually, that was part of it, but he didn’t want to hurt her. He just wanted her to go away. “I got hurt pretty bad last month. I’m still recovering, and I have to be in top form for the finals. Just trying to take things easy.”
     Leanne perked up a bit. “Are you gonna give me a buckle this time? I mean, with you about to retire and all, what do you need them for?”
     Cooper’s head snapped up. “Where did you hear that?”
     “Here and there. You know how people talk.”
     “Well, I’m not dead yet, so don’t go planning my funeral. Have you ever known me to give up my buckles? I send ’em home to my dad. So no, sorry. You won’t be getting one this time, either.”
     Leanne gave him a murderous look and turned on her pointy-toed boots, forgetting to swing her hips as she stomped away. Moments later she was sidled up to another rider and getting the attention she seemed to think she deserved.
     Cooper chuckled and shook his head. So much for true love.
     The thought of retiring filled him with anxiety. This was the only life he’d known since he was a green kid in hand-me-down spurs. He knew he could teach on his friend’s ranch like he’d been doing in the off season for years. But with his parents getting older, he needed to think about going home. But he also thought about having a family of his own. He hadn’t met the right woman yet, and probably wouldn’t back in the two horse town of Morris Springs.
     Then again, he sure wasn’t finding what he wanted on the bull riding circuit.
     He wanted a real woman, one with all her own equipment, a fresh-scrubbed, clean face, who wasn’t looking for a ride and a buckle. That wasn’t too much to ask for, was it?
     Now that he’d screwed his chance to sleep in a real bed this trip, Cooper retreated to his cheap motel room and stretched out on the worn out mattress. His joints ached and he was tempted to take another pain pill, but he resisted. He had to ride later that evening and he needed his mind clear. It took every bit of concentration he had to stay on a bull, and the pain pills dulled his senses.
     After tossing and turning for nearly an hour, he gave up and took the medication. He set the alarm so he wouldn’t oversleep, and finally drifted off.

Three hours later, the alarm dragged him from a deep sleep. Just as he’d feared, his brain felt fuzzy and his reactions sluggish. He took a shower, turning the water to cold in an effort to shock his body awake. He only had a few more weeks to go before Vegas. He was in a good position, points wise. But the toll on his body was mounting and every ride seemed harder than the one before. Tonight he’d drawn a rambunctious bull he’d never managed to ride to the buzzer. But there was no way in hell he’d let that bull throw him this time.  Amazon  iTunes  B&N

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     “Good Lord, ladies. I do believe I’ve died and gone to cowboy heaven.” Carol Tanner glanced around the decorated dance hall at bluemoonovertexasthe local cowboys, decked out in their Saturday night best–tight-fitting, starched blue jeans, brightly decorated shirts, hand-tooled leather belts, and boots that probably cost them a week’s pay. She deliberately skipped her gaze over Jake Reilly, whose intense gaze hadn’t wavered from her face since she stepped into the building. Tonight she’d forget about Jake and enjoy herself, or die trying.
But as hard as she tried to ignore him, she had to admit he did look hot tonight. Pissed, but hot.
     “Now that is one fine example of prime male physique.” Jean Sutherland sighed as a tall, muscular cowboy passed by.
     “Just another reason to love this town,” Nancy Phillips drawled, with a wink aimed at the cowboy under discussion. “So why are we just standing here? Let’s go see what kind of trouble we can stir up.”
     Logan and Megan Tanner shook their heads and laughed as the three single women headed into the crowd on the dance floor. Logan took baby Charlie from Megan’s arms and kissed his wife’s cheek. “I’m glad I married you before that bunch had a chance to corrupt you with their wild ways.”
Megan grinned. “Who said I wasn’t corrupted? I married you, didn’t I?”
     “So you did.” He turned to his daughter, Katie. “Listen, you can go meet up with your friends, but do not go outside after dark, do you understand? Most of these cowboys are harmless enough, but some are drifters that we know nothing about. And check in with Megan or me every hour.”
     Katie sighed. “I’m not a kid, Dad. See you in an hour.” She hurried off, waving at a group of girls gathered around the groaning buffet tables.
     Logan watched her go, wishing she was still young enough that he could keep her by his side. She’d grown into a beautiful young girl. No longer a child, but not yet a woman. “Remind me again that she’s still only fourteen?”
     “Fourteen going on twenty,” Megan said. “It’s all uphill from here.”
     “Logan, Megan. Good to see you stepping out for a change.” Jake Reilly handed Logan a beer. “You want me to get you something to drink, Megan?”
     “I’d love a root beer, Jake. Thank you.”
     When he came back with the icy drink, his face was stormy. “That sister of yours is asking for trouble,” he told Logan.
     “Why? What’s Carol up to?”
     “Out there on the dance floor, making eyes at those range rabbits. Don’t even recognize some of those men. Asking for trouble, I’m telling you.”
     “She’ll be okay. We’ll keep an eye on her. Why don’t you go ask her to dance? You’re the one she wants to be with, anyway, and you know it.”
     Jake shook his head. “I’m going to sit this one out.”
For the next hour, Jake watched from the edge of the dance floor as Carol two-stepped her way across the room with first one cowboy, and then another. Every once in a while, he caught her glancing his way–whether to see if he noticed her or hoping he’d ask her to dance, he didn’t know. But he noticed, all right. How could he help it? With her skin tight jeans outlining her curves, the close-fitting sweater accentuating her breasts…
     His hands clenched into fists as yet another man cut in and swung her away, out of his sight.
     “You’d better go get her, Jake, before you decide to take out half the town with your fists.” Logan leaned against the wall with Charlie tucked against his chest. The baby was sound asleep despite the loud music.
     “What makes you think she’d dance with me? She hasn’t spoken to me in two years.”
     “You ready to tell me why?”
     “No.” Jake scowled at Logan. “It’s none of your business.”
     “Maybe, maybe not. She is my sister, so I expect anything that has to do with her happiness is my business.”
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   If someone asked Logan Tanner what hell was, he’d say living in West Texas and working on the family ranch. He hated the wide open spaces, the red dust coating every surface, the sight of pump jacks bobbing up and down, pumping out thousands of barrels of oil, never stopping. The unrelenting sun in the summer, the bone-chilling cold of winter. Every time he returned for a visit, his skinblameitontexasA itched as though fire ants marched beneath the surface.
     “Come on, Logan. I’m not asking you to move home permanently. But I need your help to take care of Dad and the ranch.” Carol slid an arm around Logan’s shoulder and squeezed. “He’s worried about it and the animals and it’s making him anxious and upset, so I told him we’d take care of things for now.”
     “You don’t know what you’re asking.” He was going to be sick. He couldn’t let Carol do this alone, but he couldn’t endure weeks, maybe months, out here.
     Carol’s brown eyes clouded with worry. “It’s only for a few months, while he goes through physical therapy. You can design your games as easily here as you can in Dallas, and I can use Dad’s kitchen to make my soaps.”
     “It’s more than that, Carol. I can’t be this far from home. I have meetings to attend, I have an apartment. I have a life. I can’t just pack up and move.” Even as he protested, he knew he was stuck. His stomach churned and sweat broke out on his brow.
     “Logan, what on earth is wrong with you? You’re white as a sheet.” Carol took his arm and led him to the window seat beneath a stained glass picture of Jesus holding a young lamb. “Sit down before you keel over. This will be good for you. You’ve been working too hard, and you need some fresh air and sunshine.”
     He put his elbows on his knees and rested his head in his hands. He couldn’t spend months listening to the wind howl. Months blistering his hands stringing fence and burning his skin under the blazing sun. Think! There has to be another way. “We can hire someone. I’ll pay whatever it costs.”
     She shook her head. “No. You know Dad wouldn’t stand for it. He’s always worked the land himself. If we bring someone else in, he’d never forgive us. Like it or not, it’s up to us. Or me.”
     Damned if he did. Damned if he didn’t. “But I have to go to Baton Rouge. I have to see Katie, find out if she’s all right.”
     “Logan, I’m sure Katie is fine with her mother. I know you’re hurt and angry because Sue Ann won’t let you talk to her, but a few weeks isn’t going to make that much difference. And your lawyer is working on it, right?” Carol put her hands on her hips, ready to fight for what she knew was right. “There’s no one else to take care of Dad, so it’s up to us. I don’t want to put him in a nursing home.”
     Logan felt trapped, suffocated as though he’d been buried alive. He’d thought he was free. That he’d never have to return to the life he’d hated since he was twelve years old. “But I have an apartment, a job.”
     Carol spit out a curse that would have sent Mama running for a bar of soap. “You can sublease the apartment. You can design computer games anywhere. They do have electricity and Internet service out here, you know. They even have running water.”
     “Very funny. And where will I find someone to sublease the apartment? I can’t let a total stranger move in.”
     “Well, there’s Megan, my friend from A & M. She graduates next week and she’s looking for a place for the summer. You haven’t met her, but I can vouch for her.”
     “Great. Just what I need, a college kid who’ll have wild parties and tear up my furniture.”
Carol rolled her eyes and crossed her arms over her chest. “Megan is not a kid, and she’s not like that. She’s very responsible.”
     “Uh-huh.” Logan wasn’t convinced, but his arguments were weakening. He tried to think of another excuse that would keep him out of Lynn County.
     “Are you going to help me or not?” She plopped down on the seat and looked up at him through her long, dark eyelashes. “Please?”
     Damn it. She’d been doing that since she was old enough to talk. Using that pleading tone of voice that guaranteed he’d give her whatever she wanted. He could only think of one time it hadn’t worked. When she’d wanted two of his condoms “just in case” the night of her senior prom. He’d decked Jake Reilly that night, just because Carol had thought of having sex with him.
     “Oh, hell.” He leaned back and lifted his eyes to the stained glass window. “You’d better stick close by, Lord, or we’re all going to hell in a hand basket.”    Amazon  iTunes  B&N
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Greendale, Texas 1997
lonestarjusticeb      Madelyn Cooper shivered in the air conditioned doctor’s office, wearing only a cloth gown as a shield against the cold. But it was more than the temperature making her shaky. Being not quite eighteen, pregnant, and the daughter of a murderer seemed to have the same effect.
     The examining room door opened and Doc Myers walked into the room, a frown on his face. “Maddie,” he said with a quick nod.
     She tried to smile, but just didn’t have the energy.
     “I see you’re complaining of exhaustion. Have you been taking your prenatal vitamins?”
     “Yes, every day.” She hated them. They made her nauseous, but so did everything these days. Her whole damn life made her sick.
     Doc wrote on her chart, then set it aside to check her blood pressure. As he squeezed the bulb and cut off her circulation, he asked, “Have you given any more thought to what we talked about last time?”
     What a round about way to refer to abortion. And her answer had not changed, even though her circumstances had. “I’m not getting rid of my baby, Doc. No way.”
     Doc sighed and removed the blood pressure cuff. “Maddie, surely you aren’t planning to have this baby after what’s happened? Rand will never forgive you, so any idea you had about marrying him is gone. Hell, the whole town is against you right now. What kind of life will that be for a child? You have no one left, your father is in jail, and you can’t even take care of yourself, much less a baby. Being a single mother is hard enough when you have a support system.”
     Maddie lifted her chin, defiant. “I don’t care, Doc. We’ll be fine.”
     He shook his head. “No, Maddie, you won’t. You won’t be able to find a job. There isn’t a single person in the entire county who would hire you right now. And you need to worry about reprisals. I don’t think you understand how angry everyone is about what your father did.” He listened to her heart and lungs, then hung the stethoscope around his neck. “Look, I feel bad about what’s happened. You’ve had a rough time of it since your mom died. I’m going to give you some money, enough to help you get out of town and make a new start somewhere else.”
     Maddie shook her head. “I don’t want your money, Doc. I’m leaving for a while anyway. My aunt is coming to take me home with her until the baby’s born. All I need is a refill on my vitamins to hold me until I find a new doctor.”
     Doc seemed to relax a bit. He patted her knee like he had since she was a toddler. “Well, I think that’s a great idea, Maddie. Your aunt lives in Dallas, right? Far enough away and big enough for you to blend in, hide out. But I still think you should consider terminating this pregnancy. The last thing Rand needs is for you to spring something like this on him. Poor boy is devastated. He hates you now, you know.”
     That broke Maddie’s heart. She didn’t kill Rand’s parents, though she might as well have. They were dead and he refused to speak to her. And now her baby would never know its father.
     “So,” Doc said, heading for the door, “when do you leave?”
     Was it her imagination, or did he seem especially anxious for her to go? He’d been good friends with the McCades for many years, so he probably hated her, too. “I’ll be gone by this afternoon, Doc.”
     “Good. He nodded and started to leave, turning back for one final shot. “And Maddie? Don’t ever come back.”
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