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maiden-ash

New Cover, New Fairytale Series

The True Story Behind The Cinderella Fairytale

I’ve been working on a new fantasy series for a few years now. The Million Word Adventure has pushed me to get it drafted, along with a few of the 1,000 short stories that will reveal the true stories behind familiar (and unfamiliar fairytales). The first story to be unveiled is “Maiden Ash,” a retelling of the Cinderella myth.

 

134 Maiden Ash 1600x2400 (Ebook) 10 10

Isn’t the cover gorgeous? I absolutely love it.

The story is available at a special 99 cents price for pre-order now, and will be on-sale November 15, after it has been edited, for $1.99.

June Wedding Blitz: Sharon Ihle Reveals the Wedding Bandit Known as Cake Finger

Please welcome Sharon Ihle to the blog this week. Fittingly for the month of June, Sharon has a warning all brides must hear, so that they can make sure that someone guards the wedding cake at all times! I think I’ll take that duty at my daughter’s wedding (but don’t ask to check under my fingernails…I’ll have to refuse under the grounds I may incriminate myself).

The Saga of Cake Finger

Let this be a warning for all you brides-to-be; there is a stealthy woman out there known as ‘Cake Finger,’ and she might just surprise you by taking what we’ll call liberties with your wedding cake. (Note: this warning does not apply to brides who insist on whipped cream or non-dairy frosting.)
To those who prefer truly satisfying buttercream or even lard frosting, I strongly suggest you hire a friend or trusted family member (pick me, pick me!) to guard your wedding cake during the festivities. I’ve attended many weddings over the years and Cake Finger always manages to get a swipe of frosting before the bride and groom have the opportunity to smear it across one another’s lips.

Cake Finger has been doing this for years. It is almost like a badge of honor. During one truly outrageous moment, she even had the audacity to raise her frosting-laden finger on high and made sure the mother of the bride (her best friend at the time) saw this display before destroying the evidence in a truly tasteful way.

At yet another event, Cake Finger was dancing a rather raucous polka with her own husband, and managed to whirl and twirl her way to the cake table where she took her swipe without slowing down or even missing a beat. And nobody was the wiser, not even her husband who noticed she had something white on her lip.

This went on for more years than I can count. Even brides who dared to thwart her by offering a cupcake tree instead of a cake, were doomed to be outsmarted by Cake Finger. At the height of her career, she’d perfected the art of slicing off a frosting rose or decoration, then fluffing the resulting void in a way that went completely undetected. Oh those were heady times for Cake Finger. And then the unthinkable happened.

Photo of Sharon IhleAt the very last wedding she attended, the joining of two very dear friends, the bride ignorantly asked Cake Finger if she would do her the honor of cutting the cake at her wedding. HUH? I tried to warn her, honestly, I really did, but she was intent on having me … uh, Cake Finger … do the honors of cutting her special cake. It was something, let me tell you; the wedding was cowboy themed, the cake a lovely rendition of a chuck wagon pulled by a team of plastic horses. Frosting flowers, reins, pots and pans, and other doodads decorated the cake as well as the tray it rested upon. What was Cake Finger to do?

I can’t talk about it anymore. The moment was too disturbing and yet gratifying at the same time. Cake Finger did a magnificent job that day, to the point of almost passing out from a sugar high, and even managed to blame most of the carnage on uninvited guests who must have made a run at the cake. So again, you lovely brides-to-be out there, I warn you; hire someone to watch over your special cakes. I’m available most weekends. And I know what the thief looks like!

The Bride Wore Spurs

THE BRIDE WORE SPURS

Kathleen Lacey O’Carroll knew she faced an uncertain future when she arrived in Wyoming as a mail-order bride—especially when she learned that the man she was to marry hadn’t actually ordered her. How could John Winterhawke, a fiercely independent and unsettling handsome half-Indian possibly make room in his heart and in his life for her?

As far as Hawke was concerned, the last thing he needed was a high-spirited, overeager Irish wife who knew nothing about surviving on the harsh prairie. But once the determined Lacey sensed the rough kindness and simmering hunger under Hawke’s forbidding demeanor, she set out to match his dark passion with her own—and claim his wild heart on her terms.

The Bride Wore Spurs is from Sharon Ihle’s  The Inconvenient Bride Series.

 

Sharon Ihle is the best-selling author of more than a dozen award-winning historical romances set in the American West. A lifelong Californian, Sharon recently moved from the sunny beaches of San Diego to the frozen plains of North Dakota. Hard to believe, but it’s true. 

 

June Wedding Blitz: Cheryl Bolen – Wedding Gowns Weren’t Always White

Please welcome Cheryl Bolen to the blog today, to keep the June Wedding Blitz theme going strong with a factoid about the history of the white wedding dress we now consider to be traditional.

cover image for The Bride Wore BlueThe White Wedding Gown – Tradition or Upstart Trend?

You may notice the cover of my The Bride Wore Blue. Doesn’t look much like wedding dress, does it? That’s because the flowing white lace gowns and veils didn’t make their appearance until Victorian times.

In the Regency, most brides did not have special dresses made for the wedding ceremony. Sunday best often sufficed as a wedding gown. That is not to say that white or ivory dresses were not worn. White, ivory, and pastels were appropriate attire for Regency maidens. Veils were not worn, but a turban or bonnet could be.

What of the big, elaborate weddings where all the family from all over the country attended? That didn’t happen in the Regency era, either. (The Regency is technically the period from 1811 to 1820 where the Prince of Wales served as regent when his father was mentally incapable.) Weddings were small affairs for whatever family happened to be close by.

Perhaps one reason the weddings weren’t large spectacles was because, typically, there was not a lot of time for planning, and communication was slow. Often engagements were a matter of just weeks.

While the lower and middle classes posted banns on three consecutive Sundays prior to their wedding, the upper classes avoided this with a costly special license—of which most of them availed themselves.

Read more

June Wedding Blitz: Claire Delacroix on Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something Blue

 Here to help us continue the theme of brides and weddings is Claire Delacroix, who, like me, enjoys using the bride theme for an entire series. Hers is the Bride Quest series. Check them out when you check out her take on weddings, below.

Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something Blue…

The Beauty BrideI love weddings. I love the optimism and the flowers and the dresses and the feeling that love is in the air. I love seeing the happy couple – because invariably they are really happy – and I like the idea that they’ve decide to make a future together. I enjoy seeing yet another couple head off toward their Happily Ever After.

In a way, a marriage is a crossroads, a point at which the bride and groom embark on a new path. They’re still their parents’ children, but in beginning a life together, they might become parents themselves. They’re still the person they’ve grown up to be, but the adventures they share together will allow them to grow in new ways. They stand on the threshold between child and parent, youth and adult, individual and partner.

The magic of weddings is captured by that familiar saying: something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue. It’s supposed to bring luck to the bride to ensure the saying is fulfilled. Usually, this saying is interpreted literally in the bride’s choice of clothing for the big day. She might wear her mother’s veil as something old, and a new wedding dress for something new. She might borrow lace gloves and carry a hankerchief with a blue edging. But the saying can also be interpreted symbolically.

Something old would be the personal history and experiences of the bride and groom, the events that made each into the person who comes to make this commitment. It’s their family, friends, education, choices and credentials. It’s everything they have been and done up to this moment in their lives. Their experience is what they bring to the match but they will grow beyond that, together.

Something new is the pledge the couple will make to each other and their partnership. When they exchange their vows, they’ll make a commitment to each other, a new bond. In some cultures, this transition is marked by the formal establishment of a new economic unit or household. The couple are no longer the dependents of their parents or part of their parents’ household – they are the founders of a new household. The couple might start a family or launch a business or buy a house. Either way, their dreams and goals will be linked from this point forward. They become a new force together, but one still linked to their respective pasts. Ideally, they will combine their strengths and work together to create something wonderful.

Something borrowed. I like to think of this as the lessons the parents have taught the children, in terms of ethics, values and traditions. They’re “borrowed” because we often modify them ourselves to suit the changing times or the demands of our own households. One of my friends, for example, is Jewish while her husband is Christian. The cycle of their year is a rich blend of two sets of traditions, so their children know their roots on both sides of the family. They have taken the rituals taught by their parents and made their own mix in order to teach their children the lessons they themselves learned. I think that’s a magical thing. The upbringing they offer their kids is greater than the sum of the parts, because the kids will invariably see the common ground between the two faiths and look at the world in a new way.

Something blue. The literal interpretation of this one is easy, but the symbolic one isn’t that hard to figure out either. We often associate sadness with the color blue, so I think of this as a reference to our emotional response to change. We don’t tend to like change and it gives us emotional turmoil. Not only the bride and groom but everyone in attendance at a wedding feels a mix of happiness and sadness. The past is gone and the couple are moving forward and that change is enormous. We can feel a bit blue to lose the little girl, for example, who was a darling daughter. On the other hand, we can’t help but be happy that she’s found love and future, that she’s embarking on a new adventure with her chosen partner. There’s always a mix of laughter and tears at a wedding – “something blue” reminds us that it’s okay to feel jumbled up at changes in our lives. The joy of a wedding invariably triumphs, though. I only ever sniffle during the exchange of the vows!

Do you cry at weddings? What do you think “something blue” means?

Thank you, Claire! NYT-Bestselling author Claire Delacroix sold her first romance, a medieval called THE ROMANCE OF THE ROSE, in 1992. Since then, she has published more than forty-five romance novels and numerous novellas. She has also written under the names Claire Cross and Deborah Cooke. THE BEAUTY, part of her successful Bride Quest series, was her first book to land on the New York Times List of Bestselling Books. She has an honours degree in history, with a focus on medieval studies, and is an avid reader of medieval vernacular literature, fairy tales and fantasy novels. She makes her home in Canada with her husband and family. When she isn’t writing, she can be found knitting, sewing or hunting for vintage patterns. Y can find Claire at her website:  http://www.delacroix.net or at her blog Alive & Knitting. You can also find her on Facebook.

 

Welcome to Sharon Ihle and Her Saint Patrick’s Day Gift to Readers

Please welcome bestselling historical romance author Sharon Ihle to our blog. Fittingly (as I am the daughter of “The Duffy” and “The McCarthy”), she has brought a St. Patrick’s Day gift for everyone. To Love a Scoundrel is FREE on Amazon from March 17th-21st. How can anyone resist a tale with a Lady Pinkerton heroine? Go get it…but not before you read what her demanding hero and heroine prompted Sharon to discover about her late night writing process, with the help of a voice-activated recorder.

Secrets of the Night

To Love A Scoundrel was the third book published during my writing career. Until I began writing this book, I didn’t fully understand or even investigate what prompted my creativity. I found out big time with this novel.

Jewel, the heroine, and Brent, the hero, constantly woke me up in the middle of the night with visions of the next chapter, up to and including lines of dialogue. Trouble was, I could never remember those thoughts the next morning. I told my husband about this problem and he came up with a fix. Since he knew I was too lazy to get out of bed, go to my desk, and write my thoughts down, he bought me a tape recorder and put it on the headboard.

I thought this was a swell idea, and chose a recorder with a voice-activated feature. This meant that I didn’t even have to reach up and turn the thing on. All I had to do was spout my pearls of wisdom into the night and they would magically be there for revising the following morning.

I woke up disappointed as I hadn’t awakened during the night, but that quickly disappeared when I checked the tape and discovered that I’d apparently rattled on for close to an hour.

Was my urge to tell my story so strong that I didn’t even have to be awake for the process? Hah! I replayed the tape and learned that (1) my hubby has a little hitch in his throat when he snores, (2) some woman snored right along with him as if part of band, and (3) my dog Sushi, (usually such a lady) snored louder than the both of us put together.

I still use the recorder today, but have retired the voice-activation button.

Is that not a perfect Saint Patrick’s Day story? Could it be the Leprechaun’s little joke? If you want to learn more about Sharon, visit her at Backlist Ebooks, read her blog, Like her on Facebook, or Follow her on Twitter. And don’t forget To Love a Scoundrel is FREE on Kindle from 3/17 – 3/21.


Wedding Sale: The Fairy Tale Bride for 99 cents

I bow to the Karmic weight of the universe.

History: The Fairy Tale Bride was listed at 99 cents for a Backlist Ebooks sale just before Christmas, and when the sale was over, I attempted to put the price back to $2.99. Amazon has (typical) kept it at 99 cents and so has B&N (not so typical). iTunes (respectfully typical) changed it when I asked them to.

Background: All e-retailers have an agreement with author/publisher that the book will not be listed elsewhere for lower than the price the publisher sets.

This seems perfectly fair until you realize that they all have their own procedures for changing the price, and that procedure includes looking to see what everyone else does. It can become a game of Price Chicken, with the poor author/publisher squashed no matter what happens.

Philosophy: When life gives you lemons, make a big pitcher of lemonade and sit back and enjoy the spectacle.

Sesame Place. We nearly lost her forever in the climbing nets.

As I’ve blathered on about quite a bit here, my daughter is getting married. This year! (Last year it seemed so far away, but now…ahh!). It hardly seems possible, as she is still so young.

Because the proceeds from this book go directly to support her wedding, and I’m busy doing lots of wedding promotion and angsting type things, I don’t really want to have to monitor price changes every so often. The perfect solution is a wedding sale that lasts until she gets married (and a little beyond, as I will be very tired).

So, I’ve changed it back to 99 cents everywhere (although iTunes may take a day or two to update the price).

Yo – Universe! You hear me? That’s 99 cents until the end of August. A super bargain.

Word.

New Book! New Covers!!

UPDATE: The Backlist Ebook Holiday SALE begins tomorrow. For that sale, The Fairy Tale Bride will be 99 cents. Amazon Kindle already has the new price, and Apple and B&N will have it shortly. Happy Holidays!

So, I’ve been MIA lately. Sorry about that. Too much on the plate.

Way too much.

But some of the stuff on the plate is ready for bragging rights: The 6th book in the Once Upon a Wedding series is revised, edited, formatted and uploaded!

Behold: The Impetuous Bride

Because I have the rights back to the last two books, and I only had 5 covers (the fabulous cakes, by a now retired cover artist), I had to get new covers designed.

So, behold the new covers for the books that have already been released:

 

The changes have been made in most of the venues (I think: it was a looong two days trying to get everything done). But some places will take longer to update. So you Apple users can still get the beautiful cake covers if you really want. And everyone else will get these gorgeous new ones.

For those who were paying attention: I had 7 new covers made. There is one more book in the series to release. I still have some revisions left to do (what can I say, I’m neurotic), and it has to go through editing. And then, there will be a book available to go with the new cover for The Twelfth Night Bride:

 

 

Vanessa Kelly — How to Turn a Bad Girl Very, Very Good

Welcome to Vanessa Kelly, a historical romance writer extraordinaire. Vanessa is going to answer some of my questions for her about crafting the perfect bad girl heroine.
My Favorite Countess features a — to say the least – strong and independent woman (my favorite kind). Bathsheba (love the name) has many of the qualities of a good historical romance hero (determination, no time for thoughts of love, and a willingness to do anything she needs in order to get what she wants). Very different
from the more traditional Regency heroine. How challenging was it to write such a strong heroine?
Kelly, thanks for having me on the blog, and thank you for asking such interesting questions!  You’re absolutely right to point out that Bathsheba has many of the qualities of a good romance hero, since my starting point for the book was thinking about how many bad boys are reformed in romance novels.  I wondered why there were so few reformed bad girls (that’s a whole ‘nother blog!), and then decided it would be fun to take on that challenge.  Much to my surprise, Bathsheba was very easy to write.  She’d been dogging me for a few books, even when she was a character off stage.  So clearly she was just itching to get on the page.  Generally, though, I tend to write very determined heroines who are usually on some kind of mission.  They don’t want to let anything or anyone get in their way.  So even though Bathsheba had characteristics not shared by my other heroines, she did have that one core value the others possessed – a determination to protect the people she loves.

And I’m so glad you like her name!  More than one reviewer said that they thought it was a horrible name for a Regency heroine, but I thought it fit her perfectly.

How much fun was it to bend some of the rules and turn a character who’d been the “bad guy” in Sex And The Single Earl into a heroine the reader will come to love and root for?

It was way fun!  There are very few bad girls who have been redeemed in romance fiction, but Bathsheba was such an interesting character I just had to do it.  So far, the reviews and most reader responses have been positive, although there have also been some negative reactions too.  Very negative!  Which tells me two things:  I did break some rules, and not everyone is comfortable with that.  And that’s fine with me.  Bathsheba is a different type of heroine and not everyone is going to love her.

What rules did you have to bend, and how, to redeem Bathsheba in the reader’s eyes? Do you think seeing her from John’s point of view helped the reader look at her from a different angle?

The biggest rule I bent overall is the idea that the heroine has to be sympathetic to the reader from the first page.  Bathsheba is a complicated character and she can sometimes be pretty selfish and cynical and, on occasion, fairly bitchy.  She didn’t start out that way, but the events of her life and the abuse she suffered at the hands of her first husband convinced her that she had to protect herself at all costs.  My strategy for redemption was to show her internal struggle to be a better person, even when she sometimes didn’t want to be.  I didn’t try to minimize her less than stellar attributes, but instead highlighted her struggle with them.  After all, the choice to be good is much harder for a flared character than for a heroine who starts off with an angelic character.  Bathsheba sometimes has to struggle to do the right thing, which makes her actions more heroic, IMHO.  And, yes.  I totally agree that seeing her from John’s POV helped a lot.  He’s such a good guy, and if he could see the finer qualities in Bathsheba then the reader could too.

How did you decide what type of hero would be able to help Bathsheba find trust and love, at last?

I knew that my hero would have to be a very compassionate, forgiving man who understood pain and suffering.  Who better than a doctor, a man who witnesses human frailty on a daily basis?  John Blackmore has also made some mistakes in his life, so he’s willing to give Bathsheba a second and even a third chance.  This part of his character actually frustrates Bathsheba, because she doesn’t think she’s worthy of forgiveness.  But eventually John’s bone-deep integrity and kindness will battle through her defences and make her realize that she can be a better person, and that she is worthy of love.

I also thought it made sense to make John the Regency equivalent of an obstetrician.  This is a guy who is strongly motivated to help and protect women and children, and those instincts come into play when he realizes how vulnerable Bathsheba really is.

What do you think was the one main trait that made John able to look past Bathsheba’s considerable armor and see the woman who deserved love hiding inside?

His compassion for others, especially those in trouble.  Aside from being handsome and smart, he really is a good guy.

Do you have any more “difficult” heroines in mind for future books?

I hope so!  It was really fun to write a character outside the box.  My next heroine is a Quaker, and although she’s most definitely not a bad girl, she’s certainly posing some interesting challenges for me!  She has her own ideas about how the world should run, and she’s determined to have my hero fall into line.

Thank you Vanessa, I’m sure we all look forward to seeing what you do next.

Vanessa Kelly writes Regency-set historical romances for Kensington Publishing.  Her books have finaled in several contests, including the Golden Quill, the RomCon Readers’ Crown, and the Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence.  Booklist, the prestigious review journal of the American Library Association, named her one of the “new stars of historical romance.”  She holds an M.A. in English Literature from Rutgers, and spent several years in the Ph.D. program for English Literature at the University of Toronto before leaving academia for a career as a research officer.  Her latest book, My Favorite Countess, received excellent reviews, including a starred review from Booklist.  Vanessa lives most of the year in Canada with her husband, although she is fortunate enough to spend at least part of the winter in the lovely environs of North Florida.  You can find her on the web at:  www.vanessakellyauthor.com