Shirlee was born in San Jose, California in 1941. She grew up traveling the world with her parents, two sisters and three brothers as her father was a career navel officer. She attended high school in Morocco.
Returning to California, Shirlee attended the Burbank Business College of Santa Rosa, then met and married Howard Busbee in 1963.
While working in Solano County, she met her life-long friend and mentor, Rosemary Rogers. Shirlee followed Rosemary into the world of romance writing, with the much acclaimed success of her first novel, Gypsy Lady. Shirlee went of from that success to carve her own niche in the historical romance genre.
Shirlee and Howard reside in Northern California on a lovely ranch were the couple is kept busy with their beloved Mini Schnauzers, prize winning Shetland Ponies and of course Shirlee’s writing!
ER: Welcome to Embracing Romance, Shirlee. Your first book, Gypsy Lady, was published in 1977. How many have you published since then, and are they are historical romances?
Currently, there are 24 of my books published and 22 of them are historical romances; the other 2 were contemporary romances. Most of the historicals are in the 1790’s-1814 time range and take place in England or the southern US.
ER: You’ve no doubt seen tremendous changes in the industry over the years. Do you find writing and publishing easier in today’s market? Is there a particular change you either love or hate?
Wow! Have there ever been changes! Being a tech dummy, I’m not thrilled or comfortable with everything being done electronically, but that’s just me – and I’m learning…slowly. On the other hand, e-books and self-publishing have given authors more freedom and options — an excellent thing! With traditional Publishers there is much more pressure on authors to produce more books in a shorter time and that same pressure extends to publicity and promotion. Authors are expected to be tech savvy and do most, if not all, of their own publicity and promotion. Publishing has always been tough, but I think it’s a lot tougher these days.
ER: You are a friend of the author Rosemary Rogers, and there is even a cartoon of you using Rosemary’s desk. You must have some great stories from that earlier time in your career. Is there one you would like to share?
Rosie and I met in the ladies room when we both worked for the County of Solano. I’d take my coffee-breaks in there (the lounge area) and read. We’d nod and say “Hi” to each other as she went back and forth into the facilities. She noticed what I was reading and we started talking about books; we both liked many of the same books and our friendship grew from there. I never had a clue that she was even writing a book until the day she burst into the ladies room to tell me that she had sold her first book. Weird the role that ladies lounge played in my writing career – without becoming friends with Rosie and her encouraging, pushing and nagging me, I’d probably never written a word.
ER: What is your writing day like? Do you write fast, then do a lot of revisions, or do you go slower and edit as you write?
I sort of do both. If I’m ‘hot’ and the words are flowing, I write fast (which, believe me, doesn’t happen often). Mostly, I peck along and every two or three pages, I go back and edit. The next morning I start by going back over the previous day’s work and fiddling around with it to rev up my creative engine.
ER: What two things would surprise your fans about you?
I trained to be a legal secretary and ended up being a draftsman, drawing maps (yeah, surprised me, too). And I loathe traveling – probably because my dad was in the Navy and we traveled…a lot.
ER: Do you plot or write by the seat of your pants?
Oh, I’m definitely a seat of the pants writer. More like a bare-bottom writer ☺. I am sooo envious and admiring of plotters, but my brain doesn’t work that way. No one is more surprised that I am at the way some of my books unfold. It’s an adventure and I discover the story right along with the reader.
ER: Do you have any words of wisdom for a newbie writer?
Keep writing. Don’t give up. Remember, THE FLAME AND THE FLOWER was turned down by every hard cover publisher before Avon and the great Nancy Coffey picked it up from the slush pile. Just keep writing and loving what you do.
ER: What’s next for Shirlee Busbee? Would you be willing to share a little about your works-in-progress, or an upcoming book?
I’m ashamed to admit that I’ve been playing hooky. Why? Because I can’t make up my mind what I want to write. Another Regency set book? Something set in early America? What about the 1840’s somewhere in the southwest? Pick up characters from one of my earliest books? Or go for something new for me – contemporary with a touch of para-normal? Oh, or a mystery? See my dilemma?
ER: What do you enjoy doing when you’re not writing?
Ha! I am a voracious reader and always have been, so reading is one of my favorite things to do. Love gardening. The Walla-Walla onions are already in the ground and this spring I’m planting more Oriental Lilies in the barrels on the deck – their scent is intoxicating. Love my American Shetland Ponies. Trying to convince Howard that we need to breed a couple (or four ☺) mares this summer – it’s a thrill and a terror when the foals are born.
THE TIGER LILY
Flame-haired Sabrina had loved Brett Dangermond for years, and separated by the vicious treachery of a rival’s lust for Sabrina’s beauty and fortune, the years and war came between them. Until Brett came back to her – as the guardian her father had entrusted her fortune …and her life! Forced to belong to a man she had never forgiven, and never forgotten, Sabrina’s wild-hearted fury played them both into the hands of certain death.
But the passion they fought against so fiercely was destined never to die …and together they find love’s magnificent splendor.
Sabrina was not at all grateful for her supposed rescue, and being handled like a sack of meal, the breath knocked out of her, did nothing for her frame of mind. Furious that this lawless creature would dare to attack the daughter of Don Alejandro del Torres on his own land, she didn’t even wait for the galloping horse to slow down before she began to fight.
The Toledo steel blade her father had given her for her birthday was neatly sheathed in the top of her boot, and if she could only reach it… Recovering her breath, she twisted and squirmed, trying to escape from the iron hand that pressed down so forcefully in the middle of her back as her captor gradually reined in his horse. Determined to get away, she continued her wiggling, hoping that if she couldn’t use her knife she could shift her weight to the side her feet dangled from and then slide down the side of the slowing horse and possibly make it to the protection of the nearing forest.
Brett didn’t exactly realize what his unwelcome burden was up to, but he was aware that if the confounded boy didn’t stay still, the young whelp stood an excellent chance of falling to the ground and being trampled under Firestorm’s hooves. Grasping the waist of the calzoneras, he ungently shifted Sabrina so that her head was now lower than her thrashing feet. Harshly Brett commanded, “Be still, you young cretin, until I stop the horse!”
The blood rushing to her head, as much from his words as her position, Sabrina struggled even harder. The sombrero, which had miraculously remained on her head until now, went flying, the ivory comb with it, and the red-gold hair tumbled down around her flushed face.
Busy with stopping the powerful stallion using only one hand on the reins, Brett saw neither the sombrero nor the ivory comb disappear. He wasn’t paying as much attention to his captive as he should have been, and just as the stallion finally came to a stop, with a burst of incredible agility, using her hands for leverage against the side of the horse, Sabrina was able to flip herself over and practically in the same movement twist herself into a sitting position in front of her captor.
Like lightning her hand snaked to the top of her boot, and in a second her fingers closed around the blade. Before Brett even had time to assimilate that the “boy” wasn’t a boy at all but a furious fire-maned young hellcat, the knife swung in a determined arc, slashing him across the shoulder and down the upper portion of his muscled arm.
Taking no notice of the blinding flash of pain, Brett reacted, and moving with a deadly swiftness, he captured the slender arm that wielded the knife. Twisting the arm behind Sabrina’s back, he glared down into the angry features so near his own. Astonishment held him speechless as his stunned gaze took in the disheveled mass of flaming curls rioting around the most enchanting face he had ever seen—thickly lashed amber-gold eyes fairly spitting defiance and fury were set under haughty dark brows, a delicate straight nose with a delightful tilt at the tip was thrust arrogantly into the air, and below it was a generously curved mouth that fairly challenged a man to taste its sweetness.
It was that glorious hair and those unforgettable eyes that brought recognition to him instantaneously, and on a note of incredulity, he breathed, “Sabrina?”
At the sound of her name, Sabrina froze, and suddenly oblivious to the brutal hold on her arm, she stared up into the dark bearded face so near her own. It wasn’t precisely reassuring. Heavy black eyebrows curved over deep-set, cynical, jade-green eyes ringed by remarkably long, thick, black lashes—the impact of those eyes was mesmerizing. With an effort she tore her gaze away from his and took in the arrogant nose, the slightly flaring nostrils, and the full, mobile mouth with its mocking slant. The half-grown beard hid most of his face, but with her heart racing in her breast, her gaze once more fastened on the hard green eyes—green eyes that she had never forgotten. “Señor Brett?” she got out huskily, unable to believe that it was really him.
Dear Readers: Since I seem to be on the horns of a dilemma concerning my next book, how about you chime in and help me? What time period would you prefer for the setting? Why? Which country? Again, why? Is there any character from previous books that you really, really want to see get their own book? Once again, why? I would be most appreciative of learning your choices and even more importantly, why you made those choices.