Playing for Keeps Tour - Interview, Excerpt & Giveaway

Hey Everyone! Today I have a stop on the Playing for Keeps Tour. I have an interview with Cynthia Owens and a giveaway for you all.


He fled life in the shadows for a life in the limelight

Never as dutiful as his older brother, Lucas Davenport was a thinker, a dreamer of dreams. When tragedy overtook his family, he fled to the bright lights of the stage. Can he make the Shannon Theatre Troupe a success – or is he doomed to once again be “the other son?” 

She sought the past she barely remembered.

Mary Kathryn O’Brien returns to the genteel world her mother left behind – but can Irish Katie ever truly hope to belong? Or will old wounds and new rivalries destroy the threads of family forever?

Lucas and Katie must battle prejudice and buried secrets before they can learn to trust each other. Is their love just a brief intermission, or are they Playing For Keeps?

Philadelphia, 1850
Luke stared in silent horror as glowing red flames devoured the warehouse.
What have you done this time?
The words resounded through Luke’s brain, condemning and inevitable, in his father’s disapproving tones.
What had he done? He’d secured the warehouses. He had, he was sure of it. He’d made certain all the forges were out.
Hadn’t he? Or had his head been too full of the play he’d been studying in secret, the characters he was determined to flesh out, the pages he’d obsessively filled with his own dreams and interpretations?
Clanging bells and pounding hooves hammered in his ears.
Thank you, God.
But as quickly as relief flared, terror chased close on its heels.
Dear God, was anyone still inside? Tobias, his father’s most trusted clerk—surely he’d left long ago. And the two young men Matt hired last month—hadn’t they spoken of going to The Dancing Horse to spend their first pay packets?
He struggled for breath, the acrid smell of burning wood and molten steel tearing at his throat.

Bleak realization swept through him. It was his fault. It had to be. But it was an accident…

Matthew. Matt would take care of everything. Matt always cleaned up his little brother’s messes, covered up Luke’s many shortcomings.

“Mr. Lucas? Mr. Lucas!”

Dazed, Luke stared in disbelief at the normally impeccable clerk. Tobias had lost his coat, his once pristine white linen shirt was torn and covered with soot. Luke’s gut clenched as he took in the other man’s wild hair, the bloody gash slashed cruelly across one cheek.

“Mr. Lucas!”

Luke grabbed Tobias’s arm, his head thudding, his fingers gripping convulsively. Fear struck ice cold in his heart. His entire body shaking, he ran his dry tongue over his ash-covered lips.

“Tobias, where’s Matt?”

The clerk gazed at Luke, pity darkening his eyes. Tears trailed slowly down his soot-blackened face.

“Mr. Matthew’s dead, sir.”

Tell me about your book(s). How did you come up with that (story, angle, idea)?
Playing For Keeps is Book III of my Claddagh Series. It started in post-Famine Ireland with In Sunshine or in Shadow, when Rory O'Brien returned to the village of his birth to become landlord where he was once a penniless tenant. While I was writing the book, I realized that Rory's young daughter, Katie O'Brien had to have her own story. Of course, I had to wait until she grew up enough to visit her mother's family in Baltimore. And in between there was Coming Home, Ashleen O'Brien's story.

I've always loved the theater and Shakespeare, and so did Katie, so I made her hero an actor. Of course, Lucas is much more than “a mere player,” but you'll have to read the book to find out just how much more!

How did you get interested in writing this particular genre?
I love history, and I've love Ireland and everything Irish since I was a child. So when I decided to write a book, it was natural that I'd choose to write something I loved. It enabled me to put the people I loved into historical settings. I was able to incorporate all the sadness and loss of the Great Hunger, as well as all the hope and joy that personify the Irish people, both here and abroad.

What's a typical working day like for you? When and where do you write? Do you set a daily writing goal?
I used to write in my office, which is located in the basement of my house. Then my husband bought me a laptop a year ago, and I discovered the delights of working wherever I wanted/needed to. Now you can often find me writing at my dining room table, and in good weather, I move outside to my gazebo, which is screened to keep the bugs out.

I don't really have a “typical” writing day, though I do tend to write new material in the mornings, when I find I'm most creative. But if the ideas occur to me at night, well, I'll be tapping away at my keyboard then, too. I try to write 1,000 words every day, sometimes 1,500 if I'm feeling really inspired. I consider anything over 1,000 words icing on the cake.

What is the hardest part of writing for you?
Probably the editing process. When I'm writing, the ideas just flow and it seems I'm always racing to get them down on paper - or on the computer screen. I'm constantly thinking about the story, and I just can't wait to write it down, but I don't always worry about it being perfect. I have a little sticky-note on my desk that says, “It's only a first draft!” But once that first draft is finished, I have to put it all together in logical sequence, making sure the dialogue sounds right, that I'm “showing” the story, rather than telling it, and that my heroine has the same color hair and eyes at the beginning as at the middle and the end! It's a long process, and sometimes a painstaking one.

What kind of research did you do for this book?
I had to do a lot of “different” research for Playing For Keeps! Since my first two books were set in Ireland, most of my research revolved around 19th Century Ireland. Playing For Keeps is set in Baltimore and Philadelphia, so I had to find out what those cities might have been like in 1860. I had to research the theatre at that time, as well as some of Shakespeare's plays. I even re-wrote one of the speeches from The Scottish Play (Macbeth) to use during Lucas and Katie's “first meet.” I did extensive research into the effects of a stroke, both on the stroke survivor and those around him. That research actually helped me in my “real” life when my mother suffered a mild stroke two and a half years ago. Thankfully, she made a full recovery, but I was so grateful I knew what to do for her.

What's the best thing about being an author? 
Aside from being to hold my published book in my hands and smell that marvelous “new book” smell? J I love connecting with my readers. I love hearing how they react to my characters, or a certain scene, and I love how some of them relate to my stories on a personal level. And since most of the communication is done by e-mail, or Facebook comments, I find it easier to answer them than I would in person, being a bit shy. I try to answer every comment and e-mail I receive, and I've built many on-line friendships this way.

What is the first book you remember reading?
Heidi, by Joanna Spyri. It was my favorite book as a child, and I think it sparked my life-long passion for travel. The Swiss Alps were described so well, and the characters were so vivid, that it made me want to visit one day. I wanted to be a part of the story!

Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
I've loved writing for as long as I can remember, ever since I learned to string a few words together into a (hopefully) coherent sentence. I remember an incident from first grade, when we were just beginning to learn how to write sentences. My teacher, who shall remain nameless, had asked us to write a sentence about Dick, Jane and their dog, Spot. I wrote a five-and-a-half-sentence paragraph, but instead of praising me for the effort, my teacher scolded me for not having finished the sentence. Talk about stifling youthful creativity! I think it was at that moment I vowed to prove how wrong she was in doing so, and I just kept writing every chance I got. 

How did you come up with the title?
Well, my hero, Lucas, is an actor - a “player.” To quote Will Shakespeare, “All the world's a stage/And all the men and women merely players.” He also has - well, let's call it a commitment issue. He's spent most of his life trying to run from his problems. So it just seemed a natural.

AUTHOR Bio and Links:
I believe I was destined to be interested in history. One of my distant ancestors, Thomas Aubert, reportedly sailed up the St. Lawrence River to discover Canada some 26 years before Jacques Cartier’s 1534 voyage. Another relative was a 17thCentury “King’s Girl,” one of a group of young unmarried girls sent to New France (now the province of Quebec) as brides for the habitants (settlers) there.

My passion for reading made me long to write books like the ones I enjoyed, and I tried penning sequels to my favorite Nancy Drew mysteries. Later, fancying myself a female version of Andrew Lloyd Weber, I drafted a musical set in Paris during WWII.

A former journalist and lifelong Celtophile, I enjoyed a previous career as a reporter/editor for a small chain of community newspapers before returning to my first love, romantic fiction. My stories usually include an Irish setting, hero or heroine, and sometimes all three. My novels, In Sunshine or in Shadow and Coming Home, set in post-Famine Ireland, are available from Highland Press. Playing For Keeps, the third book in the Claddagh series, will also be published by Highland Press.

I am a member of the Romance Writers of America, Hearts Through History Romance Writers, and Celtic Hearts Romance Writers. A lifelong resident of Montreal, Canada, I still live there with my own Celtic hero and our two school-aged children.

The Claddagh Series:

Cynthia will be awarding a sterling silver Claddagh pendant (US/Canada only) to a randomly drawn commenter during the tour, and a second randomly drawn winner will receive winner's choice of an autographed copy of either Cynthia's first or second book (In Sunshine or in Shadow,)
Be sure to comment below with your email and follow the tour to better your chances.


  1. Hi Pam, thanks for having me today! I enjoyed your questions, and I look forward to "meeting" the people who read your blog! :)

  2. I enjoyed the interview and learning more about you. Love the excerpt, thank you.


    1. Thank you Ingeborg, glad you liked the excerpt. I'm enjoying meeting new people on my tour. Thanks for stopping by! :)

  3. Pam, thanks so much for having me on your blog today. I really enjoyed being your guest.

  4. I enjoyed the excerpt.


    1. Hi bn100, glad you enjoyed the excerpt. Thanks for visiting! :)

  5. Loved the excerpt! I, too, love history. Your ancestry is intriguing. Isn't it great to find out where you came from and discover the exploits of your forefathers (and mothers)? Looking forward to more....

    1. Hi amazonred, so happy you enjoyed the excerpt! I never liked history in school, but once I discovered my ancestry - on both sides - it sparked that interest. I also recently discovered an Irish ancestor on my father's side, which pleased me immensely. Thanks for stopping by! :)


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