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Author Interview - Lee Ann Sontheimer Murphy

What's your book/current WIP about?
My current release is a contemporary romance, Heart of the Ozarks. It’s about a man, Cole Celinksi, who lost his family, kids and estranged wife in an accident. He’s a television weatherman and his boss forced him to take some time off to get his head back on straight. Cole heads for the Ozarks, to an old resort he visited annually as a child because he can’t think of anywhere else to go. When he learns his old friend Maggie now runs the place, it’s an extra perk. Their old relationship revives and he begins to heal.

Care to share your favorite line(s) from your story?
He ached to use her like a whore and own her but deeper, Cole longed to become one with her, to twine not just bodies but merge souls.

What's your next project?
My next release is another historical romance, this time set in 1930’s Oklahoma. It’s called Dust Bowl Dreams and it’s the story of a desperate young man. As the novel opens, the family farm is about to be taken by the bank and Henry’s the sole support for his widowed mother, younger brother, and younger sisters. His gal, Mamie, is a schoolteacher but he’s broke so he turns to some desperate measures to survive.

Describe your writing in a sentence.
Blue jeans prose (a reviewer used the line once and I loved it)

Do you choose character names or do the characters whisper them in your ears?
Sometimes both. I often spend time choosing a name with as much care as I did picking baby names for my kids but there have been times when the character tells me just who he or she is.

Plotter or panster? 
When I start, I usually know the beginning and the end but I’m a pantser in between.

Do you like background noise or do you prefer a quiet space when you write?
I can write with background noise and it’s a good thing. My kids tend to be rowdy at times.

What are you currently reading?
Through A Glass, Darkly by Karleen Koen – it’s an old favorite but I love it.

What question have you always wanted to be asked in an interview and how would you answer it?
Question: What was your first word or sentence?
Answer: They tell me my first complete sentence, uttered with stubborn defiance, was “Ann do it herself.” It somehow seems to have become the theme for my life!

People think I'm weird because...
I have very eclectic tastes in music, movies, food, everything. I’m comfortable in my own skin and will do things most people are too inhibited to do – dance in the aisles at the supermarket or say what I think.

Title: Heart of the Ozarks
Author: Lee Ann Sontheimer Murphy
Publisher: Rebel Ink Press
Length: 75,000 words
Genre(s): Romance
Sub-Genre(s) Contemporary
Sub-Categories: Second Chance at Love
Heat Level: Steamy (Hot sex scenes/language, but not explicit)

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After St. Louis TV weathercaster Cole Celinksi loses his almost estranged wife and three children in a car crash, his boss orders him to take a leave of absence.
Against his will, Cole leaves the city in late May to find the rest and relaxation everyone else thinks he needs. Without anywhere else to go, Cole heads for Lake Dreams, a resort on the quiet side of Lake Taneycomo in the Ozarks he visited each summer as a child with his grandparents. Some of his best memories were made in the lakeside vacation haven with his summer friend, Maggie.

Upon his arrival, Cole learns Maggie now runs the place. Twenty years have passed but from the minute he returns, they reconnect and soon their mutual attraction ignites. He fishes in the lake, takes Maggie to visit some of the places he remembers and begins to find out who he truly is. Before he can heal, he must learn to deal with his loss and to see if he can create a new family with Maggie and her children. It’s a task he’s not sure he can handle but if he wants to be with Maggie, he must. A near tragedy brings them all together into a close knit unit and afterward, Cole may be able to make his dreams reality.

Cole’d almost forgotten how pleasant kissing a woman he cared about could be until he kissed Maggie.

Her lips yielded to his unexpected kiss, warm and silky beneath his mouth. Something sparked between them, old and familiar but new too. The kiss kindled desire, his want surging strong and rich through Cole’s body and with it, he felt renewed. Fiery electricity danced through his nervous system, tingling and reviving him. When Maggie touched him and placed her hands on his body she stirred the embers almost faded in the ashes of his soul. His living force within soared, catching fire with a whoosh rocketing from his feet to his head.

Cole didn’t think, just experienced. He inhaled the essence of her shampoo, caught a whiff of her perfume, and tasted lingering coffee on her lips. Her slender body shifted so she stood so close a thin sheet of paper couldn’t pass between them and warmth filled the space. His years, the months of tragic induced agony, the maturity of his third decade, more than halfway to his fourth melted like candy in the rain until Cole felt the wild, heady intoxication of youth. A carnal yearning rose in him like a wild animal’s need to mate and yet something else tempered, a caring sense of connection. He wanted to ravish her and yet nurture her, all at once. He ached to use her like a whore and own her but deeper, Cole longed to become one with her, to twine not just bodies but merge souls.

He deepened the kiss until his tongue worked into her mouth and Maggie moved the rest of the way until her breasts rubbed his chest. She made a soft little mew of pleasure and he knew he could have her, take her there on the living room couch, her body supported against the pillows she’d chosen at Wal-Mart or JC Penney’s. He didn’t doubt it and because he knew, he didn’t. Cole let the kiss wind down, slow and easy. He allowed one of his hands to crawl from her back to fondle her full breasts with a gentle caress. He almost lost control again when she arched her back like a satisfied kitten but he eased back to normal, his breath a little quick and grinned at her. Maggie smiled back with an unfocused gaze. She looked the way he felt when he came out of a movie he’d really gotten involved with, dreamy until he walked into the sunlight and a jolt of reality.

“Oh, Cole,” she breathed, her tone filled with appreciation and what he thought might be affection.

“I guess you liked it,” he said, without planning. “I’m glad. I thought you might slap my face for that.”

Maggie laughed with a musical quality so sweet it ramped up his blood pressure a few notches. “I wouldn’t,” she told him, “But, oh, Cole.”

She shook her head and her hair floated around her shoulders in a cloud. “I’ve been ready for you to kiss me again for twenty years but I don’t know if you are.”

His scarred heart skipped a beat. Hell, he wasn’t sure either but he wanted to be and just that alone equaled a miracle. “If you’d asked me a week ago,” he said, “I’d have said no way. Yesterday I’d thought maybe in a distant future.”

“I don’t know,” he said, “But I want to find out.”

She’d always been mercurial, a creature of many moods and faces so he wasn’t surprised when she put her hands against his chest and said, eyes smoldering, “Kiss me again and see what happens.”

Cole almost did but rational thought stayed him. “If I do,” he told her, without any bullshit, “I won’t be able to stop this time at just a kiss.”

Maggie’s eyes met his and hers were filled with the naked yearning of a hungry bird and the innocent trust of a pet bunny rabbit. “I don’t care, Cole. I want you.”

Everything he longed for in this moment she offered but he shook his head. “I want you, Maggie, in every way a man can want a woman but it’s not the right time. If we do this now, it’ll end up bad. You’re vulnerable and the last thing I want to do is hurt you, honey.”

“I might without meaning to do it,” he said, his voice husky with emotion. “We’ve brought something to life so let’s don’t ruin it before it has time to grow. We’ll be together when its right, I promise.”

Tears shimmered in her eyes and he thought she’d cry but Maggie didn’t. She nodded and put her fingers against his cheek. “You’re being sensible, I guess, Cole. Just tell me it’ll be soon.”

“God, yes,” he said with feeling, enough she laughed.

Book Trailer:

Lee Ann Sontheimer Murphy is a full-time romance author. A native of the old historic city of St. Joseph, Missouri, one time home to both Jesse James and the Pony Express, she now lives and writes in the beautiful Missouri Ozark region. Her romance novels include Love Never Fails, Witness Protection Program, Sing We Now of Christmas, A Patient Heart, In Love’s Own Time, Miss Good Samaritan, In The Shadow of War, Guy’s Angel, and Heart of the Ozarks, all from Rebel Ink Press. She also has six other novels and several novellas available. Her work also appears in more than twenty anthologies and she has multiple short story/non-fiction credits.

She is a member of RWA, Missouri Writers Guild, EPIC, and the Ozarks Writers League. Her work also appears in multiple anthologies. She earned a BA degree in both English and History from Missouri Southern State University as well as an AA Degree in Journalism from Crowder College. She worked in broadcast media for a decade and also has a background in education. Her weekly column “Hindsight” appears each week in the Neosho Daily News.

She is married to Roy W. Murphy and the couple has three children, Emily, Megan, and Patrick Murphy.

If Lee Ann – or Lee as many of her writing friends know her – isn’t writing, she’s reading or spending time

In Neosho, Missouri, the small town she now calls home, she serves on the local library board, is active in the annual Relay For Life fight against cancer, has worked with the local Arts Council, and is active in her parish.

A Page In The Life:
Rebel Writer - Lee Ann Sontheimer Murphy:
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  1. Thank you for hosting a stop on my virtual book tour!


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