Breaking Ties by Jo Grafford – Author Interview & Excerpt

Author PhotoAuthor Jo Grafford

Jo Grafford is from St. Louis, Missouri. An award-winning author at Astraea Press, Jo writes historical fiction to spotlight unsung heroes and unsolved mysteries. She published her first poem in junior high, edited her high school newspaper while typesetting for a local news journal, and has been writing ever since. ?She holds an M.B.A. and has served as a banker, a junior college finance instructor, and a high school business teacher. She is a PRO member of Romance Writers of America and From the Heart Romance Writers RWA Chapter. ?The mother of three children and the wife of a soldier, she serves as a literacy volunteer for elementary school students.

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Please tell us in one sentence only, why we should read your book.

Breaking Ties is the “rest of the story” of the Lost Colonists – a love story that has waited over 400 years for a happy ending.

Any other books in the works?

Absolutely! The second book in the Lost Colony Series is over half-written, and book three is fully outlined. I also have a new adult fantasy novel ready to revise called The Memory Doctor.

What’s one piece of advice you would give aspiring authors?

Finish the book. It’s the only step between the words “aspiring” and “author.”

What is your favorite Quote?

“I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.” –Michelangelo.

Who are your favorite authors of all time?

So many! Starting with John Grisham, Nora Roberts, Catherine Coulter, Nicholas Sparks, Michael Crichton, Stephenie Meyer, James Patterson, Robert Ludlum, Harlan Coben, Clive Cussler, Mark Twain, Charlotte Bronte, Victor Hugo, and Richard Castle! Castle counts, right?

What was your favorite children’s book?

Everything ever written by Dr. Suess

If you had 24 hours alone how would you spend it?

If I could realistically, safely, and responsibly turn off all phones, email, social media, the mom carpool service, the mom laundry service, and the mom chef service – I would write non-stop for 24 hours.

In your wildest dreams, which author would you love to co-author a book with? Nora Roberts

How did you go about publishing your book?

I submitted it online to the slush piles of 5-6 agents and then – at hubby’s wise suggestion – attended a writer’s conference and pitched it live to real agents and editors. I was offered my first book contract a few weeks later.

How do you go about revising/editing?

There are no short cuts. I start at page one and work my way through page 400 with the help of wonderful colleague critiquers, the online AutoCrit Editing Wizard, and a few select beta readers. Then I go back to page one and do it all again.

Do you write as you go or do you have the book all planned out from page 1? I prefer to write with a detailed outline, but the story usually takes a few unexpected detours and is better for the detours.

How do you overcome writer’s block?

I write anyway. No matter what. Another one of my all-time favorite quotes: “You can edit garbage. You can’t edit a blank page.” –Nora Roberts

How do you juggle writing & family life?

I bought a lightweight laptop and take it everywhere. I write with it balanced on my knees during basketball and cheerleading practice, in the car between appointments, at the kitchen bar while baking, in bed in the middle of the night when inspiration strikes, etc.

Describe your book in 5 words.

Chilling, revealing, inspiring, romantic, unforgettable

140 Characters or less, Tweet about your book.

A cursed island, a chilling conspiracy, and a love story that just might keep you up past your bedtime! http://amzn.com/B00FYIYM7A @jografford



Night owl, or early bird? Owl

Print or Ebook? Both!

Chocolate or Vanilla? Chocolate

Regular or Diet? Diet

Coke or Pepsi? Pepsi

Horror or Romance? Romance

Harry Potter or Twilight? Twihard

Spontaneity or Planning Ahead? Spontaneity

PC or Mac? Mac

Shoes or Sandals? Flipflops

Cats or Dogs? Cats

Apples or Oranges? Apples

Facebook or Twitter? Facebook

Text or Talk? Text. Hey…I’m a writer.


breaking tiesBreaking Ties

A cursed island, a chilling conspiracy, and an unforgettable love story. The 115 colonists on Roanoke Island couldn’t GPS, skype or twitter their ultimate destination back to their families and friends in 16th Century England. But modern laser technology has finally uncovered a clue – hidden beneath a patch on an ancient map at the British museum – that leads us to their whereabouts. Considered “lost” for centuries, these brave pioneers finally reveal the rest of their story in Book One of the Lost Colony Series.

Rose Payne’s world is left in tatters after a disastrous betrothal, making her an easy target for recruiters to the Colonies. Using every cent she has, Rose sails for the New World and a fresh start, vowing to never again fall for a wealthy man.

Returning from a diplomatic tour in London, Chief Manteo is bewitched by the fiery-haired ship’s clerk and determined to overcome her distrust. He contrives a daring plan to win her heart – one that forces her, honor bound, to serve as a slave to his tribe – a plan he prays will protect her from a chilling conspiracy involving murder, blood money, and a betrayal of their fledgling colony so terrifying it can only be revealed in Breaking Ties.

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Sometimes murder isn’t as messy, up-close, and personal as many people imagine it to be. Sometimes it is distant and impersonal – as simple as crossing a line through a name on a sheet of paper. Or one hundred and fifteen names in our case.



Portsmouth, England, April 26, 1587

“Yer bum’s hanging out the window!” My brother banged his empty mug on the inn table. He ran both hands through his hair, as red as my own, standing each flaming lock on end.

My lips turned up despite the heaviness in my chest. It felt good to hear him lapse into the Gaelic brogue of our childhood. “Och, Donnen!” I reached across the table to clasp his large hands and grimaced at the stench of salmon and sweat hanging in the air. “I dinna bring ye here to quarrel. ‘Tis my first job offer in weeks.”

I dared not share my other reason for leaving.

“Nay, ye can stay with me till ye find a different job. Crossing the Atlantic unwed is bad enough, but these—” He shook my upraised palms, “are ink stains. Blast it all! Ye’re a clerk, not a sailor.”

“Indeed?” Saints alive, he acted as if I was still twelve instead of nineteen. “Well, good news. I shall be accompanied by other women – whole families of people, for that matter – and ‘tis a clerk they need.”

“Only because—“ Donnen glanced around the room and lowered his voice.?“The last one left in a frightful hurry along with half the crew all in the same?night.” His glare was fierce. “Rumor has it the entire fleet is bound straight?for Jonah’s watery vault. I don’t suppose that came up during the bloomin’?interview?”



“You want my help.” ‘Twas an accusation.


His eyes darkened. “I save your life. I give gifts. I offer marriage.” He closed the remaining distance between us, his eyes burning into mine.

I stumbled back.

“You give nothing in return,” he snarled. “You only ask for more.”

“I would had I something to offer,” I whispered. “But I have nothing. I am nothing.”

“Then what use are you to me?” He wheeled away.

I sagged against the door, eyes stinging. I blinked rapidly and pressed a hand to my stomach. Nausea rolled at the thought of informing the others of my failure.

Manteo circled the cabin like a hawk stalking its prey. ‘Twas a fine room with ornately carved shelves lining one wall. Bunks were built into the next wall. A generous desk jutted from the third, overflowing with maps and navigational devices. I recognized the compass and hourglass but could not identify the other instruments. I jerked in surprise when Manteo swooped down upon me.

“I know our location.” His arms shot out and slapped the wall on either side of me, hemming me to the door. “I could swim ashore from here.”

“Then why do ye stay if ye can leave and save yourself?”

“Governor White gave his word to deliver me home.”

“We are going to starve, Manteo. ‘Tis only a matter of days now.”

“Nay. You alone starve. The others eat.”

“I have no appetite.”

“You act as one already dead.”

I straightened my back. “I accept what I cannot change.”

“And I change what I cannot accept.” He shifted his weight to the wall, one arm propped over my head. He drew his fingertips down the side of my face in a feather-light caress.

I closed my eyes against the rush of unbearable sweetness. He made me long for things forbidden. “‘Tis within your power to help us. I am begging you.”

“Very well.”

My eyes flew open. “Ye will do this for us.”

“For you.” His voice was silken, his features as hard as granite.

I smiled tremulously. “I thank thee, Manteo. Chief Manteo, that is.” The new title felt strange on my lips. I beheld him with a mixture of awe and pride.

“I have yet to name my price.”

I stared, confused.

He grunted in disgust. “You refuse me as both husband and lover, so you are left with the hiring of my services.”

I worried my lower lip between my teeth. At least he was willing to negotiate. His eyes flashed with lust as he followed my movements.

“I will entreat the Dares for payment.”

“Nay. You are the one in my debt.”

I raised and dropped my hands helplessly.

“You serve this company, no? You can serve my people, too.”

“Ye would hire me as clerk?” Hope leaped in my chest at the possibilities. I would not have to part from him so soon.

“My people have no clerks.” His eyes narrowed. “We have slaves.”

My breath hitched. “Ye wish to punish me, humiliate me?”

“Nay, I only wish to marry you.”

I briefly closed my eyes against the pain. He already knew the reason for my refusal.


“Say no more. I will do it. ‘Twill be punishment enough to see you so often and—“ I clamped my lips.

Exultation flickered briefly across his face. “You would give up your freedom to save your friends?”

“Without question.”

“Swear it,” he said grimly.

“I swear it.”

His eyes flared with emotion. He bent slowly ’til his breath stirred my lips. My eyelids fluttered closed. Heaven help me, for I had no will left to resist him.

“Now you will eat,” Manteo commanded hoarsely. He stepped back, surveying me from head to feet.


“I have no slaves so thin and weak. Go. Collect your rations.”?He turned from me and bent to pore over a map on the table.

I reached for the door handle, disbelieving at the curt dismissal.

“And send for Anthony. I have need of him.”

I glared at his back. Faith, should I press my face to the floor as well? “Aye, master.” I bit the words out and fled.