Last call…you could win a KindleFire!

Today is the LAST day to enter the Storybroads awesome KindleFire contest, which includes an uploaded book from each Storybroad.

One quick comment will get you in the running.

I’ll make it easy for you. Pick one from the six choices below.

Or, maybe you’re like me…I’ll be hunkered down tonight with a good romance. Tell me what you’re reading.

Be safe, my friends. And Happy Halloween. Good luck to our Storybroads winner.

Frankenstein

Frankenstein

or Wolfman?

or Wolfman?

 

Sleepy Hollow?

or Walking Dead?

Tricks? ;-)

Tricks? ;-)

or Treats?

or Treats?

 

It’s almost Halloween…

I love Halloween, and always have. For me, the costumes, the candy, the excitement and fun make for a winning combo. When I was a kid, we had a big, old dresser that sat down the hall from my bedroom, just outside the attic. The drawer I could reach was filled with costume parts for making just about any Halloween costume my three siblings and I could dream up. Such fun!

My family bought our four pumpkins, one for each of us kids, at  a local stands or from the grocery store. We didn’t have pumpkin farms, at least none that were open to the public. As far as I know, these farms remained closed to the public when my kids were growing up.

But now… Google “pumpkin farms xxx (insert your zip code or the name of your city)” and you’re likely to find one or two within reasonable distance of your home. This thriving open-to-the-public business brings in much-needed money for local farmers. By the drain to our wallets as we indulge our adult kids and grandkids each year, what a wonderful windfall it must be.

This year, the weather cooperated beautifully. Here are some photos from our afternoon excursion last weekend:

pumpkinfarm1,jpeg pumpkinfarm2

This is part of a display that greets visitors on the way to the “feed the chickens and ducks” area (cost of feed: $1 per small cup). Note the adorable kitties napping together in the blue stroller.

Other attractions:

Kidlet-size maze, complete with giant sunflowers, various kinds of squash, growing along the way, and corn right there on the stalk.

Kidlet-size maze, complete with giant sunflowers, various kinds of squash, growing along the way, and corn right there on the stalk.

This piglet is one of many. Its mama and siblings are somewhere, but not in this photo.

This piglet is one of many. Its mama and siblings are somewhere, but not in this photo.

Pint-size goats, placid and good-natured. A huge hit with kids, and nice photo opps for grownups. :-)

Pint-size goats, placid and good-natured. A huge hit with kids, and nice photo opps for grownups. :-)

Tons of pumpkins to choose from.

Tons of pumpkins to choose from.

There are also assorted wagons in which to stash those pumpkins and haul them to the waiting cashier.

A great time was had by all!

Until next Thursday, and wishing you a Happy Halloween, filled with fun, laughter and great candy,

Ann

Connect with me on my Facebook Author page https://www.facebook.com/AnnRothAuthorPage
Follow me on Twitter @Ann_Roth
Stop by my website: www.annroth.net

 

It’s All Because of You! (Guest blogger: Kate James)

Kate JamesFirst, I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude to the ladies of StoryBroads for this opportunity to guest post. Considering how talented, prolific and accomplished these ladies are, I am both humbled and honored to be here today.

The question that might come to mind is why am I here? Or more specifically why am I writing? There is a multitude of talented authors out there and an ever-growing plethora of wonderful choices for readers in all genres. So why did I decide to leave a successful and enjoyable business career to write? The answer is simple. It’s because of you, the reader!

I wanted to write from a relatively young age. I have two, half-finished manuscripts tucked away somewhere, that date back to my days in university. I never finished them because life in the form of a family tragedy, school and career intervened. I was and remain a voracious reader, but writing became one of those things in the back of my mind: gosh, wouldn’t it be fun if . . .!

A few years ago on a whim, while we were on vacation, I wrote a short story and entered it in a contest. To my shock and delight it was chosen as one of the top entries. My ever-intuitive husband realized that writing was—or could be—something important to me, and he gifted me a personal laptop for my birthday a couple months later. While outwardly appreciative, in my mind I was wondering why I needed another laptop, when I had a perfectly good one from work that was constantly with me anyway. Clearly my husband knew better than me because having a separate computer that didn’t look and feel like my work computer and I did not associate with my essentially 24/7 day job was pivotal.

In six months—writing really early in the mornings and very late at night, to work around my “day job”—I produced my first manuscript. I was incredibly fortunate to have it picked up by a publisher in approximately six months, and have it in print and in stores not much more than six months after that. It’s called Silver Linings.

Silver LiningsSo what possessed me to leave a full-time job that I enjoyed, and found both intellectually and financially rewarding? Here’s the simple answer again: because of you, the reader.

I was amazed and gratified by the response Silver Linings was receiving from readers and book-sellers alike. I had some wonderful promotional opportunities where I could get out and meet readers.

CN Tower

Signing at Canada’s “wonder of the world”, the CN Tower

FCPA reading and signing for Valentine’s Day at Canada’s premier office and shopping complex: First Canadian Place (the lady in red is First Canadian Place’s personal shopper)

Chapters Signings at various retail stores, such as Chapters in Newmarket, Ontario

 The constant in the above pictures and many others I have from these and similar events is the huge grin on my face. I had been bitten by the bug! People were reading my book, and it seemed that they were enjoying it.

It was enough for me to take the “plunge” and leave my full-time job and focus on writing. Admittedly, I did not leave the corporate world all together, as I sit on a number of corporate boards, but the majority of my time now is dedicated to writing. It was shortly after I made this leap that I met my amazing Harlequin editor, Paula Eykelhof. Imagine my joy to have the editor working with best-selling authors such as the StoryBroads’ very own Tara Taylor Quinn, as well as Brenda Novak and Heather Graham express interest in and subsequently acquire my work! My first book with Harlequin, A Child’s Christmas, releases in just a few days on November 1st.

A Child's Christmas

My second Harlequin book is scheduled for release in May 2015, and I recently signed a contract for a trilogy, which will likely release over a twelve-month period in 2015 and 2016.

As you can probably guess, I am thrilled and excited, and can hardly wait to receive feedback from readers about A Child’s Christmas. So why is this? What is it about writing that I love, and enough so to have left a job I truly enjoyed? It is knowing that there are people who chose to spend their limited and valuable leisure time reading my work. And even more so, when a reader reaches out to me to let me know they enjoyed what I wrote. So . . . the simple answer is: it’s all because of you! Thank you so very much for enabling me to fulfil my dream.

What is your dream and do you plan to pursue it? I would love to get your comments. If you do take the time to leave a comment, you will be entered to win the Kindle Fire being given away at StoryBroads at the end of this month.

Best wishes and happy reading!

Buy Links

iTunes: https://itun.es/ca/6Bxv1.l

Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/a-childs-christmas-kate-james/1119471838?ean=9781460342558

Chapters (Kobo):  bit.ly/UOdnp3

Amazon: http://http://amzn.to/1p4r3VV

Harlequin (e-book and paperback): http://www.harlequin.com/storeitem.html?iid=54426

Author social media links

Website: www.kate-james.com

Twitter: www.twitter.com/@katejamesbooks

Facebook: www.facebook.com/katejamesbooks

 

Clumsy! = Carolyn

This is the weekend of our Nashoba Carriage Classic, our annual show for carriage horses and drivers. I was enlisted to announce the Saturday classes. I sat in a big tower with a perfect view of everything, and heard what the judge said before the competitors did. It’s great fun, even though this year’s show was relatively small.

I have announced when it was forty degrees with a driving rain and gale force winds so strong they threatened to blow the roof off the announcer’s stand.

This year, however, was perfect. Clear and 78 degrees. All the horses and ponies behaved themselves (mostly). We even had a three across team. I called it a troika until our president, who spent several years in St. Petersburg, told me it’s actually not harnessed the same way at all. In any case, those Welch ponies were perfectly matched and performed like a ballet chorus line.

After we finished, I gathered up microphone, walkie-talkie, and paperwork, left my aerie and headed back across the road on the path up to the office to return everything. And pulled a perfect Chevy Chase pratfall.

There was a big ole root lying across the path, halfway embedded in the Macadam, and invisible to the naked eye. Or at least MY naked eye. I tripped over it and fell flat on my face.

Now, the first thing that happens when anybody takes a header like that is to make certain there is no real physical damage. Check. I didn’t break anything, although I am so sore this evening I am reclining against an ice pad and trying not to move. I did get a few cuts and bruises on my hands and elbow, but nothing too bloody. A couple of borrowed Bandaids, and I stopped dripping.

The second concern: “OMG, who saw me?” In my case, a dozen drivers, grooms, the paddock master, and the technical delegate (the judge’s official helper). Talk about feeling like an idiot!

This is not the first occurrence of this type I have endured around horses. Several years ago, my best friend Ann and I attended a thoroughbred auction in Little Rock to bid on a couple of broodmares. Everything went perfectly until our respective husbands joined us. Men have to be entertained and fed on schedule, so I was standing outside with them trying to decide where to have lunch and facing away from the arena when a two-year-old filly broke away from her handler, backed up and planted her right hand foot in the middle of my left cheek—not the one on my face. She launched me like a missile. I landed squarely on my left wrist. We all heard the snap. The minor medical clinic x-rayed, set my wrist, gave me a couple of pills, and sent me back to the show. I went. I still had horses to bid on, even half loopy from happy drugs.

The wrist took six weeks to heal. The horseshoe hematoma on my rump didn’t take nearly as long to disappear, but I think it hurt worse.

From there on, every auction I went to, I was known as “that woman who got kicked.” Embarrassing, maybe, but an excellent conversation starter. I hate to be known hereafter as “that woman who fell on her face outside the office.” But I probably will be. Oh, well.

Huge Decisions Pending (Pat)

Half the fun of going on a trip is getting ready to go on a trip.

Time is drawing near for Carolyn McSparren and I to fly off on our great adventure to Vienna and a river cruise down the Danube.    She’s trying to find boots for cooler  climes.   I’m trying to decide how many books I can pack in a suitcase..

She, of course, has happily embraced the electronic reading age.   She has room in her suitcase.   Not me.   I’m a hold-out.   I do have a reader.   Three of them, in fact.   My first was a Nook, then a Kindle Fire and finally a Mini I-Pad.  I have a great many books on them.    I reluctantly read them  in an emergency, i.e., when there’s not a ‘real’ book within reach.   I am taking two of these readers with me in addition to my treasure trove of hardbacks.   Can’t have too much reading material with you.

Books are to me what the blanket is to Linus in Peanuts.   The only thing that really frightens me is a scarcity of books at my fingertips.   You should see the inside of my house.   On second thought, maybe not.

You get the picture.   I, like most writers, am a book addict.   I can’t have enough unread books within reach.  This is particularly true when I take a trip, and especially so when I’m going to be on an airplane for long periods of time.

Now Carolyn says she can sleep on the plane.   In fact, she says she stays asleep.   I can’t.   I have never been able to sleep on a plane, and I don’t want to read on a gadget.   I want a big, thick, juicy hardback.   And I don’t want just any old hardback.   So, starting last January, I bought the books of all my favorite authors as they were published and hid them in an old suitcase where I couldn’t see them and be tempted to violate my self-imposed discipline.  (A psychologist would have a fun time with this).

Yesterday, I took them out.  Five unread hardbacks I’ve been hoarding for as  long as nine months.    Five delicious reads that will keep me from thinking about what keeps an airplane in the the air.  I have made detained plans.    One goes in a big bag I tuck under the seat in front of me.   Another goes in the carry-on case that goes above the seat, and the other three go in the checked bag.   I figure I’ll read one in the some fourteen hours getting on and off airplanes on the way to Vienna and leave it in the seat for some fortunate soul.    As I finish books, I’ll leave them along the way and have room in my luggage for Christmas gifts I plan to purchase at Christmas markets.

My big problem is to determine the order of the books.   Which should be read first?   .    Second?   Third?  :I keep debating with myself about that.  The anticipation is reaching fever-pitch.

And if I run through all five in the eleven days of the trip, I can always, reluctantly,  get out my Mini Pad.

There’s several other necessities, of course.   Reading lights, for example.   At least three.   The kind that attach to the book and you can read when everyone else is sleeping.    And a plug adapter just in case I need that IPad.

When all those decisions are made, I’ll start thinking about clothes.   They, after all, are just an afterthought.

 

The Wisdom of Milt

{My apologies for not posting a blog last Friday.

We got the call Tuesday night–my 90-year-old father-in-law, Milton Salonen, had passed away.

Wednesday was a day long scramble to book flights to South Dakota as quickly as possible to make the Visitation at the funeral home on Friday evening. (We didn’t realize we were competing with a large contingent of pheasant hunters arriving for Opening Day of Pheasant Season.)

I packed my computer thinking I’d be able to write a tribute to this wonderful man who was part of my life for more than forty years and post it on my StoryBroads blog. No problem. But the reality was: the words wouldn’t come, plus, my late father-in-law lived on Lake Poinsett. A beautiful piece of earth that’s not known for its Internet connection.

So, here’s my tribute. A week late.}

 

On October 19, 1974, a brilliant, sunny fall Saturday, I married my high school sweetheart, Paul Salonen, at the First Lutheran Church in Brookings, South Dakota.

sc00234d4f

On October 18, 2014, a brilliant, sunny fall Saturday, I sat in the same church to say goodbye to Milt Salonen, my father-in-law of forty years (almost to the day).

The timing felt a bit surreal. The loss felt very, very real.

image0092

Milt turned 90 this past summer, but this photo is about the age he was when I met him.

Milt Salonen was a humble man who never would have believed half of the accolades his friends and family bestowed on him at his funeral. But few would deny that he was the heart of this lovely family.

IMG_2613

Milt a few months ago with his #2 son, Paul.

For as long as I’ve known him, Milt spoke frankly and honestly, often with wry wit and profound humor. He worked hard, loved his wife and five sons, worshipped with his whole heart, passed on his core beliefs to his children and grandchildren and found delight in nature. He retired to Lake Poinsett where he marveled in the small things–like the light dancing on the waves of his beloved lake. He’d often call or text me a weather report–simply because his day was too beautiful not to share.

IMG_1145

My view the morning after his funeral.

He worried too much about his family but he couldn’t help himself, nor would he have wanted it any other way.

He was loved by the sweetest, kindest, most truly Christian woman I’ve ever known, Mae Salonen, until her last breath eleven years ago. Not a day has passed since then that Milt didn’t ask his Lord to take him Home so they could be together again.

image0091

Milt and Mae when I first met them.

His wish was answered last week. He played cribbage on Sunday, felt poorly on Monday, saw the doctor on Tuesday morning, went home to the lake after his appointment to take a little nap. He didn’t wake up. Nobody could begrudge him that, but, of course, we can’t help feeling a deep, deep loss and heavy sadness.

But, as my brother-in-law said at the cemetery (channeling Milt, we’re sure), “He’s not gone, he’s just dead.”

IMG_1732

A few years ago, the owner of the local bar and eatery, Smokin’s, came up with these great, Got Milt? t-shirts to show how happy they were to have my father-in-law around.

Believe it or not, that made sense to us because Milt is part of us. I guarantee his wisdom and humor will pop up from time to time in one of my books. I feel very fortunate to have been part of his journey for forty-plus years.

Thanks, Milt, for being the man you were and for raising the son I love. You will be missed. But, luckily, as the t-shirt says: we’ve “Got Milt!”

Writing… It Ain’t for Sissies

writing

I’m working on a new book series. New town, new characters, new everything. You would think that after 25-something books, I’d have the process down. But no. Each time I begin a new project, whether or not it’s part of an existing series, I end up tweaking my process, hoping for an easier time. I spend more time on the synopsis (a roadmap of the story, of sorts), adding twists and turns. I analyze my characters.  And for all that preparation, the writing just gets harder and more challenging.

Not all of it.  Creating the place in which to set the story is great fun, especially because my towns or cities are almost always fictitious. I can make them look and feel however I want.

This new series is set in the beautiful Rogue Valley, in Oregon. I researched the climate and demographics, etc. I installed the usual coffee and restaurant hangouts, schools and other important businesses that help breath life into the place. As the series progresses, these places will grow and change, but that doesn’t pose much of a problem.

As for the actual writing, though… As I said, it just gets harder. I’ve been thinking about why that is, and have come up with several reasons. For one thing, with each book I write, I learn more about the craft of writing. You’d think that would make the process easier, but the more I know, the more I feel compelled to delve deeper into my characters. Not so easy, when they don’t want to share their baggage, their innermost fears and desires, with me. Would you? (All that prep I sweated over? Just the tip of the iceberg.)

The thing is, my stories are mostly character-driven. This means the hero and heroine and the major secondary characters drive the action. Sure, I begin with a story idea and a plot in mind, and I know how I want it all to end. But getting there? That’s basically up to the characters.

Usually for me, the first three chapters are a breeze… At least with that very first draft. The one where I think I know what the characters want and what drives them to act. But once those chapters are on the page, I find myself stuck, unable to move forward. I have learned that this means that I simply don’t know those pesky characters well enough to proceed. For days and often weeks, I tinker with those chapters, adding and deleting and tweaking and getting to know my characters better, until suddenly I can move forward and start the next chapter.

Then there are the doubts. The plot isn’t strong enough. The story is stupid. My writing sucks. I have no idea what will happen next.

Writing-process

And yet, I persist because I really want to tell the story.

It isn’t all bad. There are days when the writing sings and I know that this will be my best story ever. I love this graphic because it shows that writing isn’t linear.

writingprocess

Despite the fact that writing is a slow, painful process, knowing that I will share the stories in my head with others brings me great joy.  I wouldn’t trade my profession with anyone.

Thanks for letting me share.

Until next Thursday, and wishing you joy in whatever you do,

Ann

Connect with me on my Facebook Author page https://www.facebook.com/AnnRothAuthorPage
Follow me on Twitter @Ann_Roth
Stop by my website: www.annroth.net

I Wrote A Book (Tara Taylor Quinn)

So many times in my life I’ve come to battle with that voice in my head that tells me I’m not good enough.  A lot of us have our own versions of the voice.  Some name it.  They call it “Ego.”  Or “Fear.”  Some call it “The Doubter.”  or “The Saboteur.”  Mine is just a part of me.  Throughout my life it’s been my most constant companion.  It’s not soft spoken.  It won’t be ignored.  And yet, somehow, I’ve managed to co-exist with it and still succeed.  I wish I could tell you how.  Or write a formula for the key.

Maybe part of the reason for my ability to live with this negative companion and still ‘succeed’ is because of my definition of success.  Am I a millionaire?  Absolutely not.  Do I want to be?  Of course.  I still expect to be.  But I’m not there.  Not even close.  I don’t measure my success by money.  I measure it by the fact that I am doing what I think I was put here on earth to do.  I feel as though I am fulfilling my purpose.  I have something to give the world, a talent that I am meant to share, a way of getting to the heart of the matter and helping others access that place, too.  I set out at fourteen to write for Harlequin Books.  I signed my first contract with them in 1992.  I am still under contract with them.  My heart tells me I am a success.

I’ve been patted on the head.  I’ve been called woo woo.  I’ve watched people shake their heads at me.  I’ve been constantly reminded that I am not at the place I need to be.  Numbers aren’t as good as some want.  Money isn’t as good as some want.  There’s always something that isn’t good enough.  Yet I continue to feel as though I am right where I need to be, doing what I need to be doing.  I feel.  And there is my key.  I don’t judge myself by my head.  I don’t let the voices, inside me and those that come at me from the outside, define me.  Oh, they have an effect.  They drag me down.  They let me experience despair.  And, in the end, they strengthen me as I develop the muscle to disregard them enough to continue doing what I do.

I pay my bills.  And if my writing didn’t pay my bills, I’d do something else that would, and still write.  Because while paying the bills is necessary, it isn’t my purpose.  It is only a means that allows my physical existence to do what it is meant to do.  To write the books that touch people’s lives.

As I raised my daughter the one message I tried to get across to her more than any other was that in all things, she need only listen to her heart and she would be okay.  I wanted her to consider my advice on matters, but then listen to her own heart and make her decisions.  Over and over I would tell her to listen to her heart.  To trust her heart.  I don’t agree with all of her choices, but I support her completely, because I believe she acts from her heart.  I would have it no other way.

Our hearts define us.  They are our uniqueness in a crowded world.  They contain our essence.  Our purpose.  Our individualness.  (I know that’s not a word, but it conveys what I want to say.)  The heart contains the still small voice.  The one that will lead and guide us on this very complicated journey called life.  Your heart is the one thing you can trust in the midst of the cacophony coming at you all day every day in so many ways from so many sources, known and unknown.

I once had someone tell me that I was too much about heart.  That I needed to get into my head or the world was always going to run me over.  I believed that for a while.  But over time, I knew that I’d had it right before.  That I needed to come from my heart.  And today, completely without my seeking it out or knowing that I needed uplifting, I was presented with support.  From someone who doesn’t even know I exist.  Because that is how the universe works.  When we live from our hearts, we all help each other.  We don’t have to know who or when or how.  We don’t even have to know what.  The heart is what joins us all.  It is what knows.  We just need to have the faith to listen.  And then to act.  Trusting that if we live true to ourselves, we are fulfilling our purpose.

I leave you with a quote from Jim Carrey, given this past spring at a commencement address:  “Everything you gain in life will rot and fall apart.  All that will be left is what’s in your heart.”  Thank you, Mr. Carrey.

 

That darn Cash Out Button! (Suzanne Forster)

So, we’re back from Vegas.  Yes, we survived the heat, the crowds, the Strip and the amazing outlet mall sales.  We even had fun.  However, what happens in Vegas definitely stays there, including our money.

This would be a sad story if it wasn’t so weirdly funny.  First, a little background.  We used to gamble a bit back in the day when slot machines still had handles and you could push nickels into the slot for hours without going broke.  What a kick when the bells went off, the lights flashed and the tray by your knees filled with nickels.  Allan would play 21 while I watched, and then he would convince me to try it because he believed in beginner’s luck.  And I often did win, not big amounts, but enough to pay for a show or a dinner.  It was fun.

Now the slots are pretty bewildering with the array of combinations that can win and all the choices that come up as you’re playing.  Betting correctly takes some savvy too.  Just getting our player cards initialized was a challenge.  You can’t just sit down at a machine anymore.  You have to register first and get a player card.

When I won, the machine would ask me if I wanted to “Take the offer” or “Try the options.”  Later I found out if it’s a small win, you should always try the options because there’s a good chance you’ll win more.  Why didn’t someone tell me sooner!

Still, my beginner’s luck did not fail me.  First, our hotel gave us free money to gamble with at another hotel on the Strip called The Cosmopolitan, which is a pretty dazzling place.  We got our player cards “loaded” with the free money at the Identity Play Counter and they set us loose in the 100,000 square-foot casino.

I was playing a $25 card on the least bewildering machine I could find, and I saw winnings come up periodically when the lights went on.  It was a modest win overall, not more than $15, but when my player card ran out of money, I thought it was all over.  I figured the machine had put my winnings back on the card and I’d played them and lost.   So … we went to another machine and I played another $25 card.  Same thing.  The $25 was gone before I knew it and so were my winnings.

By the third machine, Allan noticed a man who was following us from machine to machine, just standing behind us and watching me play.   I continued to win, but as before, my winnings failed to materialize in any way I could discern by the time the card was empty.  By this time, there were two or three people watching us.  I wanted to keep on playing, but that was all the free money we had and I didn’t want to risk our own money because we’d lost so much so quickly.  Before I could get up, a cocktail waitress came by and asked if we wanted something to drink.

I jokingly told her it was a $75 drink because I’d played three $25 cards without winning anything.  She looked at the machine and said, “Hon, you got winnings there, look!  You just have to hit the Cash Out button and the machine will print you a voucher that you can take over to the Cashier’s window.”

Suddenly, Allan and I realized why we were so popular.  We’d been leaving our winnings at each machine for others to collect.  The small crowd behind us had scattered by the time I hit the Cash Out button and collected my $20.  Allan and I figured that we would have won somewhere between $45 to $60 total if we’d known what we were doing.  Not a fortune to be sure, but not bad considering it wasn’t our money to begin with.

When we left Vegas, the hotel gave us an incentive to come back:  Two more gambling gift cards.  Believe me, if we do go back, we’ll know how to use them!

Suzanne

Bestselling Collection for 99 Cents! (Alicia Rasley)

Thanks to Lynn and the other Broads for hosting me today! My name is Alicia Rasley, and I’m most famous for my role as Lynn’s navigator on several driving trips in England. (Or maybe I should say that Lynn was “my chauffeur”.)

Actually, when we were getting lost in the English countryside, Lynn and I took the time to plot a ghost story. Gwen’s Ghost has now been reprinted in a boxed set with five other Regencies. So I thought I’d explain a bit more about the project, and ask you all a question: Do you believe in ghosts? Have you ever had an experience with ghosts or hauntings? If you comment, you’ll be enrolled in the Story Broads raffle for a free Kindle Fire! 1 regency masquerades 3-d

When Lynn and I wrote Gwen’s Ghost, we wanted to explore one aspect of “ghost-ness,” the idea that “unfinished business” is one purpose for lingering after death. From that theme came the story of Valerian Caine, the Georgian dandy (complete with high-heeled pumps and velvet face patches) killed in a duel and brought back almost a century later to fix the family feud his death had started. Of course, he can’t appear in 1816 as himself, so he poses as Jocelyn Vayle, a man who has lost his memory. The only one who sees through his masquerade is Gwen Sevaric, the acerbic descendant of the man who had killed him a century ago.

This book joins five other Regency romances in a boxed set dedicated to that theme of “masquerade.” The Regency Masquerades set offers six different views of romantic masquerades, with reasons ranging from the pragmatic to the desperate.

In The Lady from Spain by Gail Eastwood, the hero and heroine are disguised for the very good reason that they must hide their identities to survive in a time of war.

The Earl’s Revenge by Allison Lane is a tale of two people who – like so many authors—are using professional identities to present their work (illustration and satire) while protecting their positions in society.

In Daring Deception, by Brenda Hiatt, Frederica dons a disguise and obtains a domestic post in the household of a man she will be forced to marry. Posing as a frumpy housekeeper, she knows she can learn what this lord is really like, and what secrets he is concealing.

In The Redwyck Charm by Elena Greene: An heiress yearning for adventure, Juliana Hutton masquerades as an opera dancer to escape an arranged marriage. Her erstwhile betrothed uses an assumed name to have one last adventure before he too is forced into this marriage.

And then, in Lynn’s other book anthologized here, Lucy in Disguise, the young heroine has disguised herself as a witch to scare away those who might harm her best friend. At the same time, the hero chooses to take up the role of a smuggler to escape the restrictions of his high social position.

This leads to another question—why is disguise such a compelling theme in romance? Usually the characters have what they think is a good practical reason to hide their identities. But there’s a deeper need underlying the use of the masquerade. I think that perhaps what we conceal is what we reveal, that donning a mask lets us paradoxically be more ourselves. In some ways, most of us are often pretending even without a disguise, aren’t we? Yet true love can come only when we reveal our true selves.

The masquerade allows simultaneous concealment and revealing. And let’s face it—masks and ghosts are just plain fun, or we wouldn’t be celebrating Halloween every October!

To see how each type of masquerade plays out, buy Regency Masquerades, a digital boxed set containing six full-length novels by award-winning authors. For a short time, this set is just 99 cents! Buy at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes and Kobo Books.