Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Five Things You Might Not Know About Jess McConkey

1. I’m a big English history buff—specifically the Tudor period—and I can name all of Henry the Eighth’s six wives and tell you what happened to them:
Catherine of Aragon—set aside and divorced.
Anne Boleyn—beheaded. A French executioner was used so her death would be swift.
Jane Seymour—died from childbed fever.
Anne of Cleves—set aside and divorced. Henry felt like he got a “pig in a poke” on this one. He agreed to the marriage based on her portrait, only the portrait was far more attractive than the real Anne.
Katherine Howard—beheaded and her ghost supposedly haunts Hampton Court, one of Henry’s residences.
Katherine Parr—along with Anne of Cleves, she managed to outlive the randy old king, but died a year later after marrying Thomas Seymour and giving birth to a daughter.

2. At one time, I could do a mean Tush Push (a line dance), Sweetheart Schottische, and Cowboy Cha-Cha! My late husband and I belonged to a Country Western dance club. (Yes, complete with cowboy boots, jeans, a western shirt, and a cowboy hat! There are pictures, but you’d have to provide a bribe in order to see them!) The club was called “The Wild Bunch.” We weren’t all that wild, but we sure did have fun! We even did performances at local festivals and the Iowa State Fair.

3. I don’t love to write and two of my favorite words in the English language are “The End!” Don’t get me wrong…it’s one of the most rewarding, challenging, and interesting things that I’ve ever done in my life. I’m extremely grateful to have had nine books published and to all the readers who’ve supported my books. But it’s like Carolyn Hart once said when I asked her if she loved to write…her response? “Darlin’…are you kidding me? Writing is too hard of work to love!”

4. I have a somewhat obsessive personality and I tend go at things “damn the torpedoes; full speed ahead.” When I’m “on book” (a phrase coined from a fellow author and a good way to describe my process of writing a manuscript), it’s pretty much all I think about. Laundry piles up, dusty bunnies (or goofer feathers as we’ve always called them in my family) magically appear in the corners, and I sometimes forget to eat, especially when I’m nearing the end. Btw—a book is usually good for about a five pound weight loss, which of course, never stays off! I’m just so dang happy when it’s done that I go out and celebrate, thus the adding back the five pounds! Also, because of this approach to writing, I’ve been told that I’m not exactly the easiest person to be around as the end of the book draws near!

5. I grew up as an only child and spent a large part of my childhood on a farm. Thinking back, I suppose I was lonely at times, but I do credit it for allowing me to develop a “big” imagination. I was Lois Lane (yes, I also grew up reading comic books—“Superman” in particular!); a princess; a Native American; a pioneer. I created these imaginary worlds in my head, and instead of playing on my swing set as I appeared to be doing to my mother, I was really in danger from Lex Luther and waiting for Superman to swoop down and rescue me. Or when I was out tramping around in our timber, I was really a Native American stalking prey through the woods…even made my own bow out of stick and a piece of string. Sounds a little nutsy as I write this, but hey, I was just a kid and I did know it was just pretend! And I guess I’m still pretending…every time I sit down to write!

About the Author:
Jess McConkey (aka Shirley Damsgaard) is an award-winning writer of short fiction, the Abby and Ophelia series, and Love Lies Bleeding. She lives in a small Iowa town, where she served as postmaster for more than twenty years.

In the vein of Jennifer McMahon’s Promise Not to Tell, comes a haunting story about family secrets and how well we really know the people we love. THE WIDOWS OF BRAXTON COUNTY by Jess McConkey is a winning combination of family drama and gripping mystery.

Kate is ready to put her nomadic, city-dwelling past behind her when she marries Joe Krause and moves with him to the Iowa farm that has been in his family for more than 140 years. But life on the farm isn't quite as idyllic as she'd hoped. It's filled with chores, judgmental neighbors, and her mother-in-law, who—unbeknownst to Kate until after the wedding—will be living with them.

As Kate struggles to find her place in the small farming community, she begins to realize that her husband and his family are not who she thought they were. According to town gossip, the Krauss family harbors a long-kept secret about a mysterious death. As the past creeps into Kate’s present, she’s caught in a web of dangerous, unexplainable events.

While suspenseful and absolutely chilling, THE WIDOWS OF BRAXTON COUNTY is also very much the story of a woman coming to terms with her past and learning who she truly is. Readers will be drawn in by the mystery, but stay hooked because they care about Kate.

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