Thursday, February 11, 2016

VBT: Brains and Beauty by Jeanette Watts

Brains and Beauty
by Jeanette Watts


GENRE: Historic Fiction



Regina Waring seems to have it all.  A loving husband, a successful business, and the most expensive wardrobe in town.  But nothing is what it appears to be.  Her  husband is critical and demanding, the business teeters on ruin, even the opulent wardrobe is a clever illusion. 

Regina’s life is one long tiptoe through a minefield; one wrong step and her entire life is going to blow up and destroy her.  Attempting to hold it all together, she appeases the husband, dresses the part, and never, never says what she is really thinking. That would get in the way of getting things done.  And, if there’s one thing Regina did really well, it was getting things done.

Enter Thomas Baldwin.  Young and handsome and completely off limits, Regina is smitten at first sight.  Then, to her great astonishment, he slowly becomes her best friend.  He’s the one person in her life who never lets her down.  Torn between her fascination with him and her desire not to ruin a marvelous friendship, she tries to enjoy each moment with him as it comes.

If only that were enough.



There was grunting, and the sound of wood groaning, and then a wet thump as they lifted and threw something. Regina could tell that there was a little more room behind her shoulder blades. There was more grunting and dragging and thumping. Then she heard them both groan.

“What’s going on back there? Have I been cut off at the waist?” she asked. Not being able to see what was wrong, or the progress they were having, was making her anxious.

“The next layer is completely wedged in. We can’t do this without tools,” Isaac told her.

Both men hurried away from her, making her worry for their safety. She had also found their company reassuring. What if neither one of them was able to find her again?

That’s when she saw the flickering orange glow in the distance. “No.”

Yes. It didn’t seem possible – but in the midst of water floating below, and pouring from above, something had caught on fire.

Regina started listing in her head all the accelerants that might be contained in a single drygoods store: tar, pitch, turpentine, kerosene. How many homes used all of them? How many gas lines were ruptured all over the city? How many wood stoves were knocked into them? There was no way this heap would NOT be set on fire.

And here she was, stuck, in the middle of it. No doubt about it, she was about to die in the same town in which she was born. It was a shame, really. She had such high aspirations.


AUTHOR Bio and Links:

Jeanette Watts only lived in Pittsburgh for four years, but in her heart, she will always be a Pittsburgher.  She missed the city so much after her move to Ohio, she had to write a love story about it.

She has written television commercials, marketing newspapers, stage melodramas, four screenplays, three novels, and a textbook on waltzing.  When she isn’t writing, she teaches social ballroom dances, refinishes various parts of her house, and sews historical costumes and dance costumes for her Cancan troupe.






Interview with Jeanette Watts:

As a kid did you write or make up stories?
Oh my goodness, yes, that's how this all got started.  When I was in elementary school, while my best friend and I walked to school, I would tell her the latest installation on my own Star Wars stories. Governor Tarkin had a daughter - no one knows that but the two of us... so she was a rebel in more ways than one.  Until I killed her off and the Emperor had a daughter no one knew about. I had a rebel spy in the Imperial fleet. Every day I had a new part of whatever story was in my head at the time.  Then one day, my best friend asked me to tell the story to another friend of ours. While I was retelling the story, I kept making mistakes and omitting things. That's when my best friend looked at me and said, "Do you mean to tell me you aren't writing these DOWN...?!"  That question changed my life.

Where does most of your Character inspiration come from?
I'm an extrovert, and a people watcher, and I am constantly surrounded by inspiration! Most of my main characters aren't based on a single person, they are distilled from several traits of several different people.  Events are more likely to get transposed into my writing with less change.  There are people that I would love to capture on paper - I just haven't written those books yet.

Do some qualities of your characters come from real people?
Definitely. My books Wealth and Privilege and Brains and Beauty have protagonists that have traits from several friends. There are also historical characters peppered through my books, I tried to preserve the character of the real person to the best of my knowledge. And, then there are the cameos of my friends. The smaller the part, the more likely it is that the name and description comes from someone I know. Regina's managers, Christopher Fitch and Nate Easley, for example, are both gentlemen who have been in my dance companies.

What was the inspiration for your book?
Self-preservation! People finished reading Wealth and Privilege, and then confronted me and said "You ARE writing another one, RIGHT?!?!?" I had no plans to write another one at that point. But when I said, "Margaret Mitchell never wrote another one after Gone With the Wind," I was reminded, "Margaret Mitchell got hit by a bus... YOU are writing another one, RIGHT?!?" That did get me to thinking, and then when I read the half-written Twilight book that got leaked online, I knew how to proceed. I didn't write about what happens next. I wrote the same time frame from a different perspective.  It's an amazingly different story from a different point of view!

What is your favorite spot to write?
While traveling! I create retreats for myself, and MAKE time away from home, and all the distractions. I run several dance groups, and I have a sewing room full of projects, and there's always emails to contend with... when I rent a cabin in Allegheny National Forest for a few days, or go a to friends' cabin in Canada right on Lake Erie, or even sit in the gorgeous lobby of the hotel where my husband is attending a conference, I can really concentrate on my writing. 

What advice would you give budding writers?
1) Keep writing. Like everything else in life, experience points matter.
2) Proofread. Then get someone else to proofread. Then proofread again... repeat several times.
3) Believe in yourself. When crazy agents tell you to make changes that go against the characters'.... character, go with your gut feeling. Don't just trust others who claim to know better than you. They don't. No one knows your characters better than you. Listen when they have GOOD advice, but don't listen when they have BAD advice. Learn to tell the difference by getting lots of advice.


Jeanette Watts will be awarding a Victorian cameo necklace to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour, and a $15 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn host.


  1. Thank you for having me on your page! I enjoyed our interview.

  2. Wonderful interview and a very interesting story!

  3. I really enjoyed your interview, Jeanette, and the cabin on Lake Erie sounds absolutely wonderful! This has been a fun book tour and I've enjoyed learning about you and your book! Happy writing wherever you are!