Interview with Theresa Stillwagon on the Ghosts in her Stories

Let’s welcome today’s special guest to Reading Reality, author Theresa Stillwagon! She’s here to talk about her both heart-warming and spine-chilling romantic suspense Winter Creek Montana series, where the local ghost population involves itself in the romances of the modern-day inhabitants.

The first two books in the series, Forgotten Memories (review here) and The Dressmaker’s Dilemma (review here) are a fascinating blend of sexy romance, historical mystery, and romantic suspense. And it’s all set in a ghost town! 

Let’s hear what Theresa has to say…

Tell us a little bit about yourself. Who is Theresa Stillwagon and what are your other loves besides writing?

I was born and raised in Ohio, but now I live in Georgia. I’ve been married for almost thirty years, loved cats, reading, playing online games, and spending time messing around on Facebook and Twitter. I love learning about new things and visiting historical sites.

What made you choose a ghost town as the setting for your Winter Creek, Montana, series? And is there a real Winter Creek?

I don’t really remember the reason. But I think it was because I recently visited Gettysburg, which is supposed to be haunted. (I was so disappointed when I didn’t see or feel anything strange.) Plus I was working in a nursing home where strange things happened every night. My story seemed to evolve from that.

The Winter Creek, Montana series is a fascinating blend of paranormal romance, contemporary and a little bit historical. Along with some historical mystery for spice. And ghosts. How did you come up with such an interesting mix of genres for this series?

It just kind of happened as I wrote it. Originally it was only meant to be a single story until I realized I left so many unanswered questions in Forgotten Memories. I needed to answer those questions.

Who first introduced you to the love of reading?

My parents. My dad also wrote some, but was never published. The favorite thing he’d written was a Christmas song called Happy Birthday Jesus. My sisters and I used to sing that song. I can still remember the words.

Who influenced your decision to become a writer?

It was one of my teachers in grade school. I went to a Catholic school and one of the nuns praised a poem I wrote. I don’t remember her name but I still remember her words and how I felt. It was rare when anyone praised me when I was growing up.

What book do you recommend everyone should read and why?

I don’t really have one book except the Bible. There are so many good writing books out there. One book I read over and over again is an old one by Helene Schellenberg Barnhart called Writing Romance Fiction, For Love and Money. It was written way back in the 1980s and is a bit outdated, but the tips and suggestion are still good.

Are you a plotter or a pantser? Do you plan everything or just let the story flow?

I’m a bit of both. I need to know the characters pretty well (but not completely) and I need to have a few possible scenes and a possible ending before I can start writing. Some of the scenes are never used or changed, and the ending may or may not be the same.

Do your characters ever want to take over the story?

Yes, and I let them. It’s their story, isn’t it? Usually when I get stuck it’s because I’m trying to have the characters do something they don’t want to do.

Can you tell us a little bit about your upcoming projects? And what comes next in Winter Creek, Montana?

Right now I’m finishing up a short sexy book called Winning the Bet, then I’m going to work on the fourth book of another series, with another publisher. I’m in the thinking stages of the third Winter Creek book. I hoping to start it as soon as the first drafts of the other two are done.

Can you tell us three reasons why everyone should read your books?

Fun, edgy, and sexy.

Coffee or Tea?

Coffee. Which reminds me, I haven’t had any yet today.

From Ohio to Georgia, huh? That trip sounds familiar. Us Buckeyes have to stick together! I have to find out where in Ohio, because me, too. But what I really want to know is when that third Winter Creek book is going be out. I have a feeling it’s going to be Rose’s story. We’ll see.

Thanks so much, Theresa, for answering all of my questions. I’ll be looking forward to more adventures with the present-day inhabitants (and the ghosts) of Winter Creek, Montana.

Review: The Dressmaker’s Dilemma by Theresa Stillwagon

The second book in Theresa Stillwagon’s Winter Creek, Montana Series is more ghostly, more suspenseful, more dangerous, and therefore, more fun. This one is definitely a three-hankie special, both in the historic parts, and in the here-and-now.

The Dressmaker’s Dilemma in that she wants the cowboy, but not the ready-made family that comes along with him. And, as seems to be the norm in Winter Creek, the ghosts have decided that the modern-day humans are much, much better off if they right whatever wrongs happened in the past.

After all, the ghosts got it wrong the first time. So they know enough not to get it wrong the second time. Or not wrong the same way.

Barb Grant is the dressmaker for the re-enactment. She’s responsible for making all the costumes for this living history ghost town. But Barb has a few “ghosts” of her own. Memories that made her “run away” from her old life to the remote town of Winter Creek.

Wyatt Campbell is the cowboy. He didn’t know his divorced wife had their daughter. Without warning, she’s dead and he’s a single father.

Whatever is in Barb’s past makes Wyatt’s instant fatherhood seem irresponsible, and she wants no part of it. But she still wants the man. And he’s always wanted her. He’s just been way too slow about staking his claim.

His pre-teen daughter wants a mother. Jaime thinks that she, Wyatt, and Barb make a perfect family. And the ghosts think that they right a wrong, somewhere back in the past.

Meanwhile, someone wants to destroy the town, right now. The ghosts want to stop that. Because it’s all happened before. And they don’t want it to happen again. Too many people have already shed their blood for the secrets the town holds. And the ghosts think that enough is more than enough.

Escape Rating B+: The more the ghosts get involved, the more suspenseful and fascinating the story gets. I’m enjoying the way the past and the present are intertwining as more and more secrets get revealed. Each love story gets resolved within one book, but there’s and overall story about the town’s past that just keeps getting more fascinating.

I can’t wait for the next chapter. Oops, I meant book.

Review: Forgotten Memories by Theresa Stillwagon

Ghost towns are such fascinating places. Even more when they get turned into living history museums. In the hands of a talented storyteller, the tales of parallel lives filtered through the shades of the past, and the light of the present, can make for quite haunting reading.

So we begin the Winter Creek, Montana Series by Theresa Stillwagon, starting with Forgotten Memories.

Jen Ferguson is both a history professor and a psychic, which makes for a pretty interesting combination when it comes to rebuilding a ghost town. She can see the ghosts. And she has studied the history of the area.

Too bad it’s her experience in the present that causing her the most trouble. The revival of Winter Creek is really her baby, her pet project. She knows the area.

But an impetuous affair with a hot-shot historian has tarnished her professional credentials, throwing all of her hard work in question. In the halls of academe, when an affair ends, the man always comes out ahead, no matter how big a jerk he is.

Jen is forced to act like an Old West schoolmarm to save her academic reputation, even though the man she broke up with is telling lies about their supposed engagement. He’s the one with the big list of publications. She’s still just a local girl.

Too bad the building at Winter Creek that she’s rehabbing for the college is the town saloon, and that one of the late “good-time gals” is sending her messages. Telling her that the hot new rancher riding through town, Adam Craine, is just the man to show her that not all men are jerks.

Adam’s also the spitting image of a former Winter Creek resident. Adam and Jen are part of a century-old mystery, one that the ghost wants to help them solve – before old grudges take more lives in the here and now.

Escape Rating B: I absolutely love living history museums, which is what initially attracted me to this series. The romance between Adam and Jen is plenty hot and sparky, and it’s doubly fascinating as it plays out across two time-periods, because it’s not just the present, but the ghosts also get involved. Adam and Jen wait to be sure they are acting on their own desires, and not re-enacting someone else’s. Very hot and very emotionally well done.

The element that kept this from being a B+ or A was the way Jen was treated by the College and “The Jerk”, and even her grandfather, regarding her personal life. This is the 21st century, not the 1950’s. While there is still a double-standard in many ways, Jen’s treatment seemed exaggerated, considering that both parties were single. I understand why she wouldn’t trust another man. I didn’t understand her employer’s reaction to the aftermath of the relationship, especially since most of it happened before the Jerk was employed at her college and they were not in a supervisory relationship.

What’s On My (Mostly Virtual) Nightstand? AKA The Sunday Post 7-8-12

Looking at this week’s calendar, you’d never know there had been a holiday the previous week. Isn’t that funny?

Funny weird, not funny ha-ha.

We don’t give ourselves much of a break anymore, do we? I say that as a society, not necessarily as an individual. Your personal experience may vary.

It’s difficult to disconnect. Vacations aren’t stress free. We went away for a couple of days over the holiday, to Asheville, NC. We made a conscious decision not to take laptops. Howsomever, our iPads have 3G/4G. We still got email.

Semi-disconnected is the best we can do these days.

This week everything is totally reconnected and ON!

Monday, Ebook Review Central is back. Coverage returns with the Dreamspinner Press titles from May 2012. I’m kind of glad it’s two months back, it means the reviewers have had a chance to catch up to ERC. Barring the flu, there won’t be another hiatus until Labor Day weekend.

Unlike last week, there are three tours this week!

Tuesday is Hope’s day. Really, it’s the day for Hope’s Betrayal by Grace Elliot. I’ll have a guest post from Ms. Elliot, along with a review of her historical romance, Hope’s Betrayal. It’s all about smuggling along the coast of England during the Napoleonic Wars, and features a very unconventional heroine. You’ll see.

We go from the mists of time to the ghostly present with an interview with Stacey Kennedy on Wednesday. Stacey will be here to talk about her incredibly popular, and marvelously delicious, urban fantasy/paranormal romance Frostbite series. I’ve already reviewed Supernaturally Kissed and Demonically Tempted, and I can’t wait for Mystically Bound, so I absolutely jumped at the chance to interview Stacey for this tour.

And from the urban paranormal we move to a contemporary western ghost town on Thursday. Winter Creek, Montana is the ghost town. It’s also a modern-day living history exhibit that serves as the setting for Theresa Stillwagon’s paranormal romances Forgotten Memories and The Dressmaker’s Dilemma. I’ll be reviewing the first two books in her series as well as hosting her for an interview.

Last, but certainly not least, the Small Blogs Big Giveaways blog hop, hosted by Reading Romances, starts on Saturday, July 14. Reading Reality is one of the participating blogs. I’ll be giving away an Amazon Gift Card. No muss, no fuss, no shipping charges.

Looking ahead to next week (the week of July 16), I have a couple of books I need to make sure I finish.

Jeffe Kennedy will be here for The Rogue’s Pawn tour on July 19. This is the first book of her new urban fantasy series, The Covenant of Thorns. It looks like one of those stories where a contemporary character crosses into fae. Done well, that premise can be awesome. I have high hopes.

Another Carina Press title, The Ravenous Dead by Natasha Hoar is simply on my list because I loved her first book, The Stubborn Dead (review here). I mean really, what a concept for an urban fantasy series, The Order of Rescue Mediums? I have to see where she goes next with this.

And the one I absolutely, positively must finish, Hidden Things by Doyce Testerman. It’s one of my review for Library Journal this month. It didn’t even look like any genre I review when it dropped out of the envelope. But it’s published by Harper Voyager, so it must be somewhere in my area. I’ll find out, because my review it due to my editor on July 16.

Even if it doesn’t turn out to be fantasy Hidden Things looks way better than The Mongoliad turned out to be.

Does your week feel especially full after the July 4th lull? What are you up to on your blog this week?

What’s On My (Mostly Virtual) Nightstand? AKA The Sunday Post 7-1-12

Except for the “Rockets’ red glare”, it’s going to be a fairly quiet week here at Reading Reality.

And that’s a good thing.

About that “Rockets’ red glare” thing, it’s a quote from Francis Scott Key’s memorable but nearly un-singable Star Spangled Banner, and from one of the peculiarly high-pitched bits at that.

The U.S. Independence Day Holiday, July 4, is this Wednesday. Strange, but there don’t seem to be any tours scheduled this week. I wonder why that is?

There’s no Ebook Review Central this week. The whole U.S. is slacking this week. Including yours truly. ERC will be back on Monday, July 9 with Dreamspinner’s May titles.

I’m going to take this opportunity to catch up from the great “sick out” I had last week.

There is plenty scheduled for the week of July 9. It’s really a go-go-go week!

Looking forward, as I always do on these Sunday posts, I have tours scheduled for Hope’s Betrayal by Grace Elliot on Tuesday, July 10. This regency takes place in the “mother country” of England. So fitting the week after Independence Day.



And speaking of historicals, Thursday, July 12 the tour books are Forgotten Memories and The Dressmaker’s Dilemma by Theresa Stillwagon. These are U.S. western romances, but not your typical westerns. The setting is a ghost town, and the ghosts are part of the story.


There are a few, what am I saying, there are always more than a few, books on my lists that really caught my attention from NetGalley and Edelweiss (and Samhain) that are coming out in the next two weeks.

One is very special. Everyone tried to get an ARC of Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness early, because her debut last year, The Discovery of Witches, was, well, such a fantastic discovery. But her publisher didn’t release the ARC until after BEA. (She also did signings at ALA). The publication date is July 10, and I have to read this. The early reviews are awesome.

Steampunk is coming on strong early in July. Archer’s Lady, the next book in Moira Rogers’ Bloodhounds series is out on July 3. God Save the Queen by Kate Locke is the first book in her new series The Immortal Empire, and it also comes out on July 3. This is one they ran out of at her signing at ALA. Nico Rosso’s Night of Fire (Ether Chronicles #2) is out at the end of the month. Like I said, July is a big month for steampunk!

Steampunk, is so appropriate for July. It is steamy hot here in Atlanta. Record setting hot (108ºF yesterday). Maybe I can just sit here with a cool glass of iced tea and a good book (or 10)!

What’s your favorite way of keeping cool on these hot summer days?