Monday, 12 August 2013

Elizabeth McKenna: Cera's Place

Please help us welcome, Elizabeth McKenna to Heart of Fiction. Today we'll be chatting with Elizabeth about her debut release, Cera's Place, but first, let's meet Elizabeth.

Elizabeth said she never read romance until later in life when she received a Nora Roberts book as a gift. She's been an insatiable reader ever since. She had always wanted to write, but life had a way of pushing her dreams of publication to one side. Work, a family, and other obligations found a way of edging out serious writing. When she finally got the chance to finish her first novel, however, she was unstoppable. And Cera's Place is not just Elizabeth's debut novel, it has also won her many accolades, including being the Historical Romance of the Year 2012 at Escape with Dollycas Book Reviews, and she's racked up an impressive collection of five star reviews. Her dreams of publication paid off in spades.

Cera's Place is a historical romance set in 1869 San Francisco. Saloon owner, Cera Cassidy, is on a mission to save the reputation of women looking for honest work, and with that, redemption and a future most 'working girls' are never afforded. Men are offered a hot meal and a drink, but the girls in Cera's Place are off limits. A great start to an interesting story.

The story really takes off the night a Chinese girls shows up in the saloon with an incredible tale. Cera is horrified at what she hears and vows to get to the bottom of things.

Sexy hero, Jake Tanner, is drawn to Cera's Place in more ways than one. While seeking to fulfill a friend's dying wish, he discovers a woman so incredible she steals his heart. Does Cera's own past hold any secrets to why she's hellbent on saving these girls? And will that past allow her to accept Jake's help?

I wonder!

For anyone who loves a good historical romance, enjoys an unusual plot twist, and a historic California setting, Cera's Place is a worth a read.

We caught up with Elizabeth for a quick chat --

Welcome, Elizabeth! Congratulations with Cera's Place and the outstanding reception it's been receiving. I know you're busy, so thanks for taking time from your busy schedule to chat with us.

Our readers enjoy hearing about their favorite authors and what they get up to behind the screen. What do you enjoy doing when you're not writing?

I enjoy sleeping, but I never get to do it, so it doesn’t really count. Cooking and traveling are high on my list. My girls are active in sports, so if we aren’t in a car driving them somewhere, we’re sitting on bleachers watching them compete in volleyball, basketball or softball. We live near a small lake, so if the weather is nice, we go boating. We have a very energetic/neurotic  dog, so we do a lot of walking through the neighborhood to tire her out. (It never seems to work.) And of course, if there’s a quiet moment, I turn on my Kindle.

The lake sounds divine! Does sound like you have a very busy lifestyle. How you find time to write is beyond me, but happy to say I'm glad you do have that time.

When you are writing, what is your space like? Are you a neat freak or do you nest (like me . . . sigh)?

In one word – messy – which is unusual because the rest of my house is extremely neat and clean. I have a home office where I telecommute full time as a technical writer and do most of my fiction writing. Though I vaccum the office once a week, it only gets dusted when I can’t breathe anymore (there’s just too many pictures of my girls, books, papers etc. to move).  I really need to at least re-paint the walls some day soon. It is the only room I haven’t redecorated in the 15 years we’ve lived in the house. Did I mention my office also serves as a drying room for my laundry? It’s all very inspirational!!

LOL I fully understand the dusting and the clutter.You're a nester. You enjoy having things you love around you while you work. A happy writer is a productive writer, eh? Love your desk, btw!

So, with everything you have going on in your life, do you set a daily routine to write or just grab what you can as it's available to you?

Any spare moment I have is spent writing fiction. Since I have a family and a full time job, they come first, but I usually find time before and after dinner to write.

Sounds like you're a night writer like most of us. With such a full life, night time, when it's quiet, must be idyllic.

Thank you for taking the time to chat with us.

-- > Elizabeth is giving away a copy of Cera's Place to one lucky commenter. Leave her a question or comment here with your email address to be automatically in the draw.

Now, let's get onto Cera's Place --

• • • 

In 1869, San Francisco saloon owner Cera Cassidy offers redemption to any woman looking for honest work. At Cera's Place, men can get a decent hot meal with a whiskey, but if they want anything more, they have to take their desires elsewhere. One summer night, a distraught Chinese girl bursts through the swinging doors with a shocking tale of murder, kidnapping, and prostitution. Outraged, Cera vows to set things right.

Jake Tanner, a scarred ex-soldier haunted by the horrors of the Civil War, is on a mission to fulfill a friend's dying wish. The trail has brought him to Cera's door. Captivated by her Irish beauty, he wants to join her fight - but will she let him?

Elizabeth McKenna's debut novel is a fast-paced adventure filled with memorable characters that will leave you wanting more. Get lost in a time gone by and fall in love today!

For the rest of the night, Cera’s eyes moved between the clock above the bar and the saloon doors as she waited for closing time. Expecting to see Biggs’ ugly face or even another Chinese warrior, her stomach clenched every time someone came in. Finally, a few minutes after midnight, she rushed the last of her customers out the door and breathed a sigh of relief.

She swung the heavy inner door shut, but as she fit the key in the lock, someone pushed the door open from the other side. Panicked, she called out, “Sorry, we’re closed!”

Her alarm changed to surprise when Jake stuck his head through the opening. “Oh, it’s you. Weren’t you heading out of town? It’s been a long night and I need to close up, Mr. Tanner, but you’re welcome to come back tomorrow.”

Crossing the room, she picked up a rag and began wiping down the bar. In the mirror on the wall, she watched his reflection come up behind her. Her eyes widened in disbelief when he placed his hands on either side of her body, trapping her against the bar rail.

Feigning indifference, she turned around to face him. Earlier in the day, his eyes had appeared the indigo blue of a stormy sea, but now they reflected a dull black. It was impossible not to see the aching weariness in them.

The scent of soap mixed with leather and tobacco filled her nose. If the price of his recent bath included a shave, he had wasted his money. A fine line of dark stubble covered his chin and cheeks. She tried to resist the urge, but her eyes sought out the red scar running down his brown face.

Hoping to make up for that slip of rudeness, she asked, “Are you feeling better, Mr. Tanner?”

“Better?” His eyes narrowed slightly in confusion.

“Your headache, is it gone?”

He nodded, understanding. “Yes, thank you for asking. I’m better now.”

Taking one of her hands, he placed it next to his eye, where the scar began. He moved her fingers down his cheek over the raised path, stopping at the corner of his mouth. Then, he dropped her hand and placed his back on the bar rail.

“Are you better now?” he asked in a low voice.

Cera shook her head. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to stare. It’s just…how did you get…?”

He ignored her question, though the corner of his mouth lifted into a half smile.

“Do you find something funny?” She sidestepped into his arm, thinking he would move and let her pass. Instead, he held firm, shifting his body back into alignment with hers.

“Oh no, there’s nothing funny going on here.” He closed the distance between them to a mere inch, but when Cera stiffened, he stepped back.

“Well, what are you doing here, Mr. Tanner? Is there something you need?” She tried to sound exasperated.

Jake’s laugh held little humor. “Miss Cera, I have no idea what I need, but I did come here for a reason. Call it an experiment, if you will.” With his finger, he lifted her chin and then pressed her lips with his. When he released her, he sighed. “That was better than I remembered it to be.”

He looked into her eyes one last time before walking out into the night. Cera let go of the breath she had been holding. She knew what he needed, but she was pretty sure she needed it more.

• • •

Elizabeth McKenna is a full-time technical writer/editor for a large software company. She never read romance novels until one Christmas when her sister gave her the latest bestseller by Nora Roberts. She was hooked from page one (actually, she admits it was the first love scene).

She had always wanted to write fiction, so when a psychic told her she would write a book, Elizabeth felt obligated to give it a try. She combined her love of history, romance and a happy ending to write her first novel Cera's Place. She recently released a short story titled The Gypsy Casts a Spell.

Elizabeth lives in Wisconsin (Packers, Brewers, and Badgers - oh my!) with her understanding husband, two beautiful daughters, and sassy Labrador. When she isn't writing, working, or being a mom, she's sleeping.

• • •

Find Elizabeth online --

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Grab a copy of Cera's Place for your digital reader. This book is available for most digital formats for just 99c, or paperback for $10.99.

Ebook: $.99 (US) at Amazon, Barnes & NobleSmashwordsAppleKoboSony and Diesel
Paperback: $10.99 (US) at CreateSpaceAmazon and

-- > Elizabeth is giving away a copy of Cera's Place to one lucky commenter. Leave her a question or comment here with your email address to be automatically in the draw.


  1. Welcome to Heart of Fiction, Elizabeth. Congratulations on the release of Cera's Place. It's a lovely story I'm sure many will enjoy.

    Tell us, where did you get the idea for this book?

  2. I’ve always loved rugged heroes, so it was easy to choose a western type of story for my debut novel. The Chinese subplot came from research of the time period. I made Jake an ex-soldier because I have a relative who has done a few tours in Iraq. It is a challenge trying to be a “regular person” after that. I have so much respect for the men and women in the military. They give up a lot to protect us.
    Thank you so much for having me on your website today - good luck with your writing!!
    Elizabeth McKenna

  3. And what about the plot of the story? Cera being a lone woman owning her own saloon, but with off-limits ladies is very unusual. What made you decide to use this plot?

  4. I wanted a strong heroine and what better way to show that than to have her go against the norm!
    Elizabeth McKenna