Thursday, April 7, 2011

GUEST AUTHOR: Mary Ellen Dennis; The Landlord’s Black-Eyed Daughter

Please give a warm welcome to fellow Casablanca author, Mary Ellen Dennis. Mary Ellen is the award winning author of The Landlord’s Black-Eyed Daughter, which Sourcebooks will be re-releasing in August (originally slated for April, but these things do happen… such is publishing!), along with a brand new novel, Dream Dancer (title subject to change… again, such is publishing!). Today, Mary Ellen shares with us her favorite thing to do…

My name is Mary Ellen Dennis and I’m addicted to writing books. Reading them, too. Writing and reading and true love and chocolate—life doesn’t get much better than that. Well, maybe I should add watching The Princess Bride or The Enchanted Cottage while munching crème donuts.

When I was in grade school one of our assignments was to read a poem in front of the class. Someone read “Trees” (“I think that I will never SEE a poem as lovely as a TREE”) and someone recited “Jack and Jill”—or was it “Humpty Dumpty”?

I couldn’t decide between Alfred Noyes’ “The Highwayman” and Shakespeare’s “Venus and Adonis” (I love horses).

Why yes, I was an overachiever, why do you ask?

I chose Alfred Noyes and I must have “done good” because the bell rang before I had finished and no one moved. At that very moment I decided I’d be an actress when I grew up. And I’d write a novel inspired by my favorite poem.

I’ve achieved both goals, although to be perfectly honest, writing and marketing The Landlord’s Black-Eyed Daughter took a lot longer. Mostly because editors were “concerned” about the paranormal elements: 13th-century ghosts in a 1790s time period.

My novel Heavens Thunder, A Colorado Saga, was inspired by Shakespeare’s Venus and Adonis, but that’s a blog for another day.

First, I want everyone reading this blog to know that The Landlord’s Black-Eyed Daughter has a happy ending. I believe in happy endings because I’m living one. I met my husband, novelist Gordon Aalborg, via the NINC (Novelists Inc) on-line list. He lived in Tasmania. I lived in Colorado Springs. We decided to write a romantic suspense together and fell in love. He asked me to marry him. I said, “I think we should meet face-to-face, first.” He suggested I fly to Australia. I said I had a deadline. He said (and I quote), “Silly wench, I have a computer.”

I applied for a passport and flew to Tasmania. The “honeymoon” worked out fine, so we both sold our homes and bought a heritage cottage on Vancouver Island. And we said our vows at a writers conference. Well, to be perfectly honest, Gordon wrote (and recited) his vows while I sang “Evergreen” (I have a thing for Streisand).

Gordon writes romances under the pseudonym Victoria Gordon,, and I’ve got to admit, you’ve never been romanced until you’ve been romanced by a romance author :) Last October we celebrated our 10th anniversary!

Gordon inspires me, and I wrote The Landlord’s Black-Eyed Daughter in the beautiful office he built for me, an office that includes a huge framed poster of Daniel Day Lewis in The Last of the Mohicans (I have a thing for Daniel Day), a chiseled rock that says CREATE, a merry-go-round horse (merry-go-rounds play an important part in my second Casablanca historical romance, Dream Dancer), and a stuffed “deadline vulture” named Michael, after my first editor.

I hope you enjoy Landlord as much as I enjoyed writing it, when it finally hits stores this August. And always, always remember: “If you drop a dream, it breaks.”

Thanks so much to Mary Ellen for stopping by! We have 2 Advanced Reader copies of The Landlord’s Black-Eyed Daughter up for grabs today—please tell us what your favorite thing to do is (or your favorite thing to do to procrastinate, to fit in with this month’s blog theme), and leave your email addy. US and Canada only today—sorry kids! Winners will be contacted on Monday, 4/11. For more information on Mary Ellen, please visit


  1. And the highwayman came riding... tlot, tlot, tlot.... Oh, Eight Grade where art thou! Your title is one of those, "why didn't I think of that's?" I will envy all my days. Terrific hook, at least for me. Your personal love story should be in a book too, and I'll bet everybody at that writer's conference will recall your wedding for decades to come. Thanks for stopping by, Mary Ellen.

    What else is in the queue? More romance inspired by the classic--and by the husband?

  2. Beautiful cover, Mary Ellen. The Landlord's Black-Eyed Daughter sounds like a great read.

    Thank you for sharing your real-life romance story. I'm sitting here sighing reading it.

    I totally understand why you sang Evergreen at your wedding, 32 years ago the soloist sang it as I walked down the aisle!

  3. Hi Mary Ellen! I so enjoyed reading about your real life happily ever after. What an adventure!!

  4. I love Loreena McKennitt's version of the song. What a wonderful post. Thanks for sharing your great romance on the page and in real life.

  5. Sounds like you have a wonderful life with the love of your life. And you get to write, too! How exciting. Here's wishing you much, much success!

  6. Love the post, the cover and the title! My granny said that when you love what you do, then you are a success. Sounds like you are successful in both your writing and love life!

  7. Mary Ellen DennisApril 7, 2011 at 11:22 AM

    Thank you all for the comments. Grace, there is a book about our personal love story. It's fiction, of course *grin*. It's called FINDING BESS (by Victoria Gordon) and the h/h have a mutual love for "The Highwayman" -- and Loreena McKennitt. Bess is out of print but available on Kindle.

    Loreena is in my Landlord's Black-Eyed Daughter dedication.

    C.H., I LOVE the cover. The artist managed to express, exactly, the "feel" of the book.

  8. Great post love the cover. My favorite thing to do is read when I am not on the internet. Your book sounds fabulous and I can't wait to read it.

  9. My favorite thing to do is read :) I'm so happy to hear of your personal HEA - it's wonderful to hear there are some real life HEA stories. Frankly, I haven't heard of too many lately. (My daughter of only 2 l/2 yrs. of marriage is getting divorced. He turned out to oh so not being her prince in shinning armour). I love all your quotes - especially "if you drop a dream it breaks" and "Silly wench, I have a computer.”
    I'm sure I am going to love your stories!

  10. Other than loving to spend time with family and friends, I love to internet surf...and that is the main thing that I do when procrastinating.

  11. Mary Ellen DennisApril 7, 2011 at 5:47 PM

    Oh dear, I forgot to answer Grace's question. What else is in the queue? My second Casablanca book, which revolves around an 1875 circus (the hero is the cat tamer, of course *grin*). The heroine is Calliope Kelley, named for the late great Emmitt Kelley, who was a friend of my father's. Did I see many circuses in my youth? Does a duck poop in the park? (I live near a park where over a hundred ducks poop, mainly because an elderly couple I call Mr. and Mrs. Duck feed them every day!)

    Carolyn, your granny was a wise woman. But I had to kiss quite a few toads before I found my prince.

    In fact, I'm writing a romantic suspense as we chat, called "The DaVinci Toad."

  12. Just had to say the book sounds like a great read!! Thanks for sharing your personal HEA ... so sweet. :)

  13. Love the cover to The Landlord's Black-Eyed Daughter! Your love story with Gordon is sweet...he sounds like he has a good sense of humor which I think is important in a man...this must be the week for songs from the 70's and early 80's for me because this is now the 3rd story that has made me look up my older Evergreen when it first came out!


  14. Great post. My favorite thing to do is read. If I'm not reading then I am probably on the computer or watching tv.

  15. What a great real life romance story. So happy to read about HEA's. So rare these days. The cover is great as well. Look forward to reading it. It's now on my TRL.Thank you for sharing.
    Carol L

  16. Congrats on your upcoming release, Mary Ellen. Love the title, premise & cover!