Death Notice

Death Notice

AVAILABLE NOW!

A killer has something to say—and he’s using her obituary column to get his point across...

When columnist Monroe Donovan receives an obituary notice with a date of death two days in the future, she dismisses it as a typo. Then, a second incorrect obituary comes in, and a woman whose name matches the name of the deceased is murdered—on the date listed in the obituary. Now, Monroe realizes...

Misunderstanding Mason

Misunderstanding Mason

AVAILABLE NOW!

Sometimes the most vivid pictures go unseen...

When Kirstin Jones agreed to work with her live-in boyfriend, Mason, on a free-lance job for a wealthy client, she never thought it might destroy their relationship. But the client’s keen observations show her that she’s been little more than Mason’s shadow. Fed up with his insensitivities, she moves out. Weeks later, desperate to stand on her own, she accepts work with the same client once again. Only this time...

Twenty-Eight and a Half Wishes

Twenty-Eight and A Half Wishes

AVAILABLE NOW!

“It all started when I saw myself dead.”

For Rose Gardner, working at the DMV on a Friday afternoon is bad even before she sees a vision of herself dead. She’s had plenty of visions, usually boring ones like someone’s toilet’s overflowed, but she’s never seen one of herself before. When her overbearing momma winds up murdered on her sofa instead, two things are certain...

A Perfect Bride for Christmas

A Perfect Bride for Christmas

AVAILABLE NOW!

Alex King wants to follow the family tradition and marry his perfect bride on Christmas Eve. There's one little hitch -- Bianca dumps him at the altar. He wakes up in Vegas with a hangover, a ring on his finger, and in bed with his best friend, Zoe Hillman. She's overweight and plain, nothing at all like his image of the perfect wife. So begins the shortest Vegas marriage in history...

Stripped

Stripped

COMING, JANUARY 2010!

Body of secrets…

As a member of the CIA’s elite, Black Opals, Natalya Trubachev must live a lie, working undercover as the lover of Dmitri, a Russian mob boss. His business is trafficking vulnerable Las Vegas strippers overseas for twisted sex games. Natalya’s business is to blow the ring wide open and bring down Dmitri and his American contacts. But the stakes are raised when she learns...

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Release Day Celebrating

Posted On 4:30 AM by Claire Ashgrove 1 comments

Okay, I am shang-haiing the blog (yeah, I can't spell that) today. My book is out! Whee!!


There's a certain magic about release day, no matter how many titles an author has published. This one holds even more for me. Not only is it coming on a holiday weekend, for the holidays, but this whole project is very special. Collaborating with Alicia Dean and our Dyann Love Barr was incredibly challenging, but oh so fun as well. Nothing like sitting down to pow-wow characters and plots and knowing we are all going to use the same rough elements, then seeing each one take shape and come to life individually.

The whole series is awesome, if I do say so myself, and the reviews coming in are proving that.


Way to go Dyann and Alicia!


Now, for a little tidbit about my book, the third book in the Three Kings Series.



A CHRISTMAS TO BELIEVE IN
The Three Kings, Book 3

When a man's dreams are in ruin, all he needs is someone to believe...

Struggling Thoroughbred breeder, Clint King, hasn’t been home for Christmas in five years. Like his brothers, Alex and Heath, life has kept him away. Clint’s farm is barely hanging on. His prize mare's due to foal any day, and in the wake of his father’s death, Clint can’t stand the idea of returning. The memories are too much, let alone his father’s imposing shadow. Except, Alex is getting married on Christmas Eve, and their mother’s put her foot down. She’ll have her boys at home. With his mare in tow behind him, Clint prepares to meet a sister he’s never known and Alex’s unexpected triplets. The one salvation he looks forward to is childhood companion, tomboy Jesse Saurs. Yet when he reunites with Jesse, he uncomfortably discovers she’s become all woman.

Jesse Saurs has everything she needs – financial security, a home, and a foster child who’s about to become her son. She’s spent two years breaking down Ethan’s emotional barriers, and with the final hearing scheduled just before Christmas, this year promises to make his dreams come true. When she learns Clint and his brothers are returning, she anticipates a holiday reunion that’s sure to entertain Ethan. But on the night of Clint’s return, the ‘brother’ she expected leaves her trembling after just a single hug. Even worse, Ethan makes it clear Clint's not welcome.

Will this Christmas destroy what's left of hopes and dreams, or will it give the three the gift they've all been longing for?


EXCERPT:


“You’d like him, Ethan. He was a lot of fun when we were younger.

”“Uh huh.” Noncommittal, he answered in a flat tone.

Jesse lapsed into silence, sensing she walked a thin line. Still, she couldn’t let the subject rest. There had to be a way to convince Ethan that Clint wasn’t a threat to his stability. Until she achieved that, she couldn’t just let go and let him harbor hate. Clint didn’t deserve it. Cautiously, she ventured, “Horses could be a lot of fun.”

Ethan snorted.

“You might give it a try. Something new and different. It can’t hurt, at any rate. If you don’t like Angel, well, then you’ve at least given it a shot.”

He tossed his controller in front of him, his interest in the game lost. She braced herself for the inevitable, knowing full well, whatever came out of his mouth next would hurt.

“Give it up, would you? I don’t want to know him. I don’t have to like your friends.”

“But Ethan-”

He scooted away like she’d cracked a whip in his face. “Enough! Don’t you get it? I don’t give a fuck about him.”

“Ethan Scott!”

“What? Too crude for you, Jesse?”

She flinched, drew in a deep breath and held it. Jesse. He hadn’t called her by her first name for over a year. Exhaling slowly, she set her controller down and slid off his bed. Though she knew in her heart, too many years of pain drove his emotions, the barb stung. On the same hand, she’d pushed. Ethan couldn’t tolerate pushing. He had to come to things on his own time.

Foregoing the lecture, she crossed to the door. “Goodnight, Ethan.”

He said nothing. Merely picked up his controller and set the options back to one-player. On a heavy sigh, Jesse left his room.

Inside hers, she clicked on the lamp by her bedside and reclined against her pillows. Tears brimmed in her eyes. She closed them to keep the salty flow at bay and curled her fingers into the sheets. In a thousand years, she never would have imagined that the only man she’d ever truly wanted would be Clint. In his arms, she felt safe. Protected. Undefeatable. He lit her up in ways she had only begun to comprehend, and it seemed as if fate determined to work against her.

If she weren’t careful, she’d lose Ethan. Every agonizing step she’d made would crumble under the weight of his fears. He’d close up, inevitably turn back to the life he’d known before he entered hers, and she couldn’t stomach the thought of where that would lead him. Jail, if he were lucky. Dead, if he wasn’t.

Yet, shouldn’t she be allowed some personal happiness as well? There were so many unwritten rules to parenthood – sacrifice for the children, put all personal goals aside, give up everything to see to their happiness. She’d exchange her life for Ethan’s in a heartbeat, but Clint offered something no child could. Even if it was only temporary, and this giddy feeling that brimmed in her soul would end when he left, he promised fulfillment of a need that ran so deep she couldn’t name it.

A tear slipped between her eyelashes and trickled down her cheek. She sniffled to hold the rest in check. She never should have let him kiss her a second time tonight. The first had been catastrophic enough. The second…

She wouldn’t be satisfied with anything but all of him after that second kiss. Instinct demanded she leap at what lay in front of her. Hang on to it until it burned itself out with his inevitable departure. Logic, on the other hand, warned her that if she did, she’d lose the one thing that mattered most – her son.




Saturday, November 20, 2010

Farewell

Posted On 12:52 AM by Claire Ashgrove 1 comments

I write for a reason -- it's therapeutic -- and I am a writer, which means I'm typically good with written word, not so much spoken word.

And today I need to say goodbye to a cherished friend. Look closely, the horse on the left is the horse on the cover of Waiting For Yes... His name is WDA Orion, and he was a dream come true.

Not only for my breeding futures, or the business plan for my Arabian breeding program. No, this handsome man was a friend. Like so many Arabians, he had a personality that refused to let him be "just a horse" or "just a business investment." Not only was he breathtaking to look at, he was breathtaking to be around. He communicated with me through his eyes. When we drove into the farm, he came running up to the car door and waited for us to get out. Once or twice, he even tried to follow us into the house. Would have, if we hadn't ushered him right back outside. (more at my blog)



Friday, November 19, 2010

W00T!! My Book is Out!!

Posted On 11:28 AM by The Dreamweavers 1 comments

Okay, enough of the exclamation marks. My book, A Perfect Bride for Christmas came out November 12th. It's published through The Wild Rose Press and you can find it on http://www.thewildrosepress.com/a-perfect-bride-for-christmas-p-4310.html or Amazon.com and Borders Books. Check it out.

Now that the commercial is over, let me tell you, I'm flying high right now. There may be a time when I fall to earth, but for now, I'll spend a few days soaring. The reviews have been positive for a first time author. I still can't believe it when I see the cover and know it's out there for the public to read. Wow. I've been holding my feelings close to my chest for so long, and now, all I can do is a little happy dance.

What happens when the dance is over? Work, lots of work. Marketing and promotion of the book, plus writing the next book and the next.

I'm getting ready to submit my paranormal after the first of the year. My beta readers will read my manuscript and give me an honest opinion. I don't expect them to o-o-o and ah over it. They will make me bleed. There will be lots of comments and suggestions on how to improve the story.
There must be a bit of a masochist in every writer. If there isn't, you'll never be able to stand the heat. That sounds kinky, but it's not. Maybe masochist is too strong a word. A writer has to be able to take criticism and roll with the punches. Once the beta readers are done, I look through their comments and assess what they've written. If one if them points out an inaccuracy in my facts, I'll change it. A couple of them might say my character needs a deeper point of view in a certain scene. I'll fix it. However, if only one of them dosen't like the color of my hero's hair or think the heroine is being silly-- well, I'll have to politely disagree and leave it as written. That's my prerogative as the author. Only time will tell who was right.

So, on top of soaring, writing a current novel, revising the older book, coming up with an outline for the third book in the series, and marketing, I'm trying to fit in a normal life. I'm coming to believe that this is a normal life for an writer. Whoever said being a published author was a piece of cake never got a book published. I wouldn't trade it for the world.



Dyann Love Barr








Friday, November 12, 2010

Jewelann Is Coming To Town

Posted On 3:29 AM by Claire Ashgrove 1 comments

If you put a pause in between Jewelann's name, the title fits "Santa Clause is Coming To Town", incidently.

So yes, I'm super duper excited that Heartland Romance Authors and Midwest Romance Writers elected to bring Jewelann Cone, from the Cascade Literary Agency, (my agent) in to speak to their authors about the industry, generally meet and greet, and hopefully garner some mutual benefits!

I've always wondered how I would handle my first face-to-face meeting with my agent. And not just since signing here, but back in the days of still searching. I presumed it would transpire at a convention, like Nationals, and I'd be nervous. I'd wonder if I talked too loud, if my laugh was funny, and I'd wonder if I was dressed horribly out-of-fashion.

Now, though, as the reality of things hits settles around me, all of those pesky worries are gone. I'm excited! I'd say, kinda like getting a new puppy, if I didn't feel that might come out all wrong. (Shh. I didn't say that.)

I'm not intimidated, and I believe this is, in part, because I've been made to feel at home from day one. My perception used to be that agents were a far-off partner, only really dealt with when active business was on the table. Oh, how wrong, I was. It's much more than that. A very mutually-supportive relationship.

But anyway, this isn't meant to be a sales pitch. I've accomplished little to nothing all week because I feel like a kid waiting for Christmas Eve, and can't keep focused. Next week, I'll give a brief overview. And who knows, maybe I will even have a funny story to share!


Friday, November 5, 2010

Starting A New Book

Posted On 4:11 AM by Claire Ashgrove 1 comments

This kinda ties in with what Dyann was saying:

There's a certain energy about a new story, and I think this is probably my favorite part of writing. First, the idea takes hold. Then, the plot unfolds (because I'm a plotter.) Then, about a week later, I get to put words down... and for me, there's no better thrill. All that thinking starts to develop. All that imagry comes to life.

For the first time in my life, I'm doing NaNoWriMo, and I put off starting my Templar book until the 1st of November. Add into the fact that this is one of the stories I've been wanting to write since I developed the concept, and the fact that the outline has been done for months, and there was some serious anticipation building!

Now though, I'm fully immersed in the story, and having the time of my life. About six chapters to the end, I will wish I was already done, and then I'll hit the final climax, and won't be able to write fast enough to keep up with the ideas in my head.

It feels good to be writing after a few forced weeks doing nothing but edits, housekeeping stuff, and critiques.

How about all of you? Do you share that special energy when you get to put those first chapters down? Are you NaNoing this year at all?

PS -- everybody glance sideways. Our brilliant silent member, Kimberly, is kicking some rear on NaNo -- go Kimberly!! (So are Dyann and Cathy, but I wanted to give a special shout out, given she's working extra-special hard to find time.)


Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The Voices in My Head

Posted On 1:43 PM by The Dreamweavers 2 comments

"I killed Ash today." I picked up one of my fries and popped it into my mouth. "It made me sad but I had no choice. He had to go."

Dennis just nodded. "That's too bad. I know how much you liked him."

It's not unusual for me to tell my husband about my writing over the evening meal. Tonight it was Mickey D's. The person in the next booth gave me a wide-eyed look before they gathered up the last of their meal and scurried away to dump their trash.What had to be going through their minds as they pulled out of the parking lot?

So, yes, the characters in my books have a tendency to use my head as their personal playground. The craziness hits when I'm so into the story that they become real. They aren't just little cut-outs to move around in my busy brain. They have goals, motivation, and conflict-- just like the rest of us. That's the most important thing to remember when writing--give your characters life. Make them well-rounded, even the villains. They are as important as your hero or heroine. Use a deep point of view whenever possible to get the reader inside the character's head.

I like to think of my books as character driven but with a strong plot line. I chart my characters well before I ever sit down to write the actual story. I make out a list of their history, their likes, dislikes, their goal, motivations, conflicts and even little quirks they may have. This way I know if something doesn't feel right. Is the motivation too weak, are the conflicts enough to carry the story? So do I even care if this character lives or dies? Are the stakes high enough?

The next thing I do is an outline. Yes, I used to be a pantser but my current and former critique partners have shown me the light. I can write much faster if I know where I'm going and what my characters are doing at any given point. I still allow myself wiggle room for creativity. One critique partner keeps a firm rein on her characters at all times. She doesn't allow them out to play. This is the way she works. Everyone is different. Another critique partners has a list of high points and where her characters intersect but she still has a steady hand at the wheel. My outlines tend to be more like a ten to fifteen page synopsis with the character chart attached. This is when I sit down to write the book.

And then it happens.

Regardless of all my fine planning, my characters let me know if I'm trying to make them go in a direction they shouldn't. I can almost see them with their arms crossed over their chests with a belligerent look on their faces. I created them one way and if I try to write them into a situation that doesn't fit, the book comes to a screeching halt. Like people everywhere, they have to be true to themselves.

So, yes, your characters can drive you crazy, you fall in love with them, and when you really love a secondary character--that's the time to kill them off, or save them for another book. Either way, they have to fade into the sunset.

I know every writer approaches their books in different ways, but I don't know of one that hasn't had a character stop them dead in their track at some point. It happens. And when it does, listen to the voices in your head. They are your friends.

Dyann Love Barr