About two years ago, Heather Snow taught our RWA chapter the basics on making a book trailer. Until that night, I'd never even heard of the things. But I found that I really enjoy making them. They may not be 'movie grade', or full of bells and whistles, yet they're still fun to do. Fun to analyze the book from a different creative portion of the brain.

As such, I'd like to share my newest one with all of you. It was a blast to develop!




If you'd like to take a peek at my others, visit my YouTube page: Claire Ashgrove

~Claire
www.claireashgrove.com
www.toristclaire.com

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Oh, how I love release days! They are so exciting, and this year even more, because it's happening right at a holiday, for the holidays. Double WHEE!

Snoopy Dance too.

To celebrate, I'm blogging at Coffee Time Romance today, and would love to have you pop in and say hello.

So with much ado, I'm uber excited to announce that A Christmas To Believe In, is here at last!

It's the third book in the Three Kings Series, and tells the tale of Clint King's struggles, both with his heart, and with his dreams. I fell in love with Clint, and I hope you will too.


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.




~Claire
www.claireashgrove.com
www.toristclaire.com

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**NOTE: This is a rant.**

The title is a little misleading, because I've always been a writer. But I did make a devoted shift in professional paths, from horse breeding to full time author. Do I still raise horses? Absolutely. I always will. It's the business of horses I want nothing to do with.

This shift has come gradually, and it all began when I had a stallion standing at stud. The very same gentleman I lost yesterday. Before I go further, I feel it's necessary to mention that 3/4 of the people I associate with, in the world of Arabians, are wonderful people. I'm on a couple list-serves with folks who are genuine and just good human beings. These folks (you know who you are) are obviously exempt from my rant.

It began with the species known as "Mare Owner". Now, I own mares, and I've bred to out of state stallions, in state stallions and dealt with the other subspecies called, "Stallion Owner." When I became the latter, I figured "What a snap. I'm a mare owner, this can't be as difficult as I've heard."

WRONG.

After a season and a half of wishy-washy commitments, spending money to ship out stallion packages with no return, and then dealing with Mare Owners who expect Stallion Owners to leap when Mare Owners don't abide by contractual agreements, or expect Stallion Owners to bend the rules for them, or simply cannot fathom that in the end, what I do with my horse is my choice, and if I want to take my horse off the market for a season, hmm. Guess what. I can. Particularly if the folks I have agreements with are on the same page, and agreements not made directly through me, that I've chosen to be ameneable to just because I'm a generally nice person, really don't pertain to my decisions.

(That is a terrible sentence, by the way)

What it boils down to is, if I want to shoot my stallion's breeding career in the foot by making him available under certain circumstances, certain times, or not available at all, it's my choice within bounds of contract agreements already signed. It is not the Mare Owner's. Period.

And as a Mare Owner I've experienced my own frustrations with Stallion Owners who either I didn't read the contract closely and got lectured, or just simply vanished off the face of the earth with the registry not even knowing how to contact them.

So I do sympathize, but really... in the end, the stallion belongs to me. And it was this seemingly obtuse perception that random people I didn't know from Adam could dictate what I would, or would not do with my own horse, pushed me into leaving the business.

Today, it was reconfirmed that indeed I made a good choice and I was not cut out to ever stand a stallion full time in a demanding market. Namely when word made it through the grapevine that my stallion had died and suddenly Mare Owners are in my email box.

Quick note to everyone whose emailed me:

a. I will not be addressing your emails 24 hours after his death. He's not a money-machine, he's my friend and I hurt. Have a little consideration. No one's breeding horses in November, except for the race track, and you aren't in that circuit.

b. Read your contract before you email me. If there are things to discuss, we'll do so. But be sure you read what you signed first. It's not my fault you made assumptions.

Everyone else who has no clue what I'm talking about:

Imagine your grandfather passing. And then, less than 24 hours after the fact, every extended family member starts phoning you asking which part of his estate he/she is entitled to.

Ugh. So glad I write. All I have to do is do what my agent tells me, do what my editor tells me, and produce creative content that keeps my readers entertained.

So much easier. So very much easier.

**End of Rant**

~Claire
www.claireashgrove.com
www.toristclaire.com

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Since I began this blog, I've tried to keep it completely "Claire", with a heavy slant toward publishing, writing, and promotions for both myself and my fellow authors. But 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.

Besides, today I've decided this is my blog. I can write what I want to. Period.

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.

Today I'm wishing I had let him come in and explore just once. See what he might have done. The big urine spot I was so afraid of, doesn't seem all that significant in the wake of losing one of the most special horses I have ever had the pleasure of knowing.

By nature of the beast, I've become accustomed to losing equine friends. Each one takes a little bit of something, but some of them really grab on and hold tight. Orion was one of them. He toted my sons around on his back, bareback, without any thought to the mares around him. He knew those little boys loved him, and gosh darn it, he was going to take care of them. And he did.

And now he's gone, a victim to the fragile beast called "horse". This morning he twisted a section of his intestine, and we quietly bid him goodbye in the boarding facitily where I spent my early years with people I consider second family. The old man even nuzzled me while I wept into his fuzzy neck, as if to tell me "It's okay." As if he wasn't the one in pain.

When I lost my Thoroughbred stallion two years ago, I almost left horses completely. The barn wasn't the same without his head poking over the bars and his gentle spirit there to greet me each morning. Today I experienced the same mixed bag of emotions. Orion helped me through that earlier loss, and now it just seems... surreal... that he's gone too.

Strange, how life comes full circle, and he left this world in the one place where I truly discovered my pasion for horses. One stall down from the stall my first horse inhabited. The very stall my third horse, and my first stallion, called home. Maybe he and Zakk are playing in green pastures together -- they both loved the company of others, even other stallions.

Anyway... No need to dwell on this with all of you reading. But I needed to voice my thoughts. Thank you for listening.



~Claire
www.claireashgrove.com
www.toristclaire.com

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Hello everyone! Today I'd like to introduce you to contemporary romance author, and long time friend, Dyann Love Barr, who's here today to tell us about her debut Christmas novel, A Perfect Bride For Christmas. It's the first book in the Three Kings Trilogy.
Dyann, you've been studying craft for a long time and have been a great inspiration for me. Would you briefly share your journey with everyone else? When did you start writing, did you start in the genre you’re published in now, what hurdles did you have to overcome, etc.

DYANN: I started writing because I wanted more of the types of stories I liked to read but couldn’t find. At that time, back in 198HMPH, western historical were all the rage. I don’t like anything with Indians, steamboats, or cowboys on the cover. Give me a good Regency. I read a ton of Barbara Cartland and Georgette Heyer, but I got tired of the super sweet heroines. I wanted a gutsier lady who was ready to take on the hero. Then I read Kathleen Woodiwiss’ Wolf and the Dove. I wanted more. Flame and the Flower came next but after that, I felt her stories lost something. So, I thought, ‘Really, how hard could it be?’ I had no concept of craft and felt frustrated with my first awful attempts.

Several years later, my husband saw an article in our local paper about a writer’s group forming in the area and said I should check it out. I hemmed and hawed, thinking of every excuse in the book why it wouldn’t work. He called my bluff, so I went. I piddled and played at writing until five years ago when I got serious about learning craft, joined an excellent critique group, and learned to take the hits along with praise for my writing.


As an aside, that hubby of yours is an inspiration all to himself, and every author would be lucky to have a fan like him. I have never met a spouse so absolutely dedicated to seeing his partner to succeess. But returning to the interview...

Obviously you write contemporary romance. Is that your favorite genre to read? Do you write in any other genres, or under any other pen names you’d like to share?

DYANN: I love a good paranormal with tortured heroes and the women who love them. Shannon K. Butcher and Sherrilyn Kenyon are two of my favorites. J.R. Ward is right up there. Right now I’m trying my hand at paranormal. When I want something else to play with, I’ll dabble in Regency or medieval historicals.

Ah, after my own heart! Maybe that's why we tend to share brainwaves -- we must have similiar brain cells. (Laughing).


This is your first book, how does that make you feel?

DYANN: A Perfect Bride for Christmas is my first book, so—A Perfect Bride for Christmas! I’m excited about this book because the story is one my mother and I tossed around over twenty years ago. Now that she’s gone, I thought it would be a great tribute to her. I also had the privilege of working with Claire Ashgrove and Alicia Dean on The Three Kings Trilogy.


So, now that you've mentioned your mom, there's a special story about A Perfect Bride For Christmas, that I think everyone would love hearing. You know the one I'm talking about. Would you share it with us? I think it adds an additional layer of heartwarming feeling to the story.

DYANN: My inspiration for A Perfect Bride for Christmas came from many tabletop discussions with my mother. She read Harlequins by the bagfuls and the hidden baby was always her favorite storyline. Mom came up with the original concept and wrote notes about the ideas we bandied back and forth. After she died, I asked my father if he knew where she’d kept her notes. It was the only thing I really wanted to remember her by. I was heartbroken when I realized no one knew where she’d kept her scribbles. However, I remembered enough of her original plot, gave it my own twist, and wrote the first chapter as an exercise. The rest is history.

The paranormals were started several years ago when I got tired of the vampires and werewolves. After a while, everything I read was the same. So, I delved into other aspects of the supernatural, held long brainstorming sessions with friends who were intrigued by my ideas, and finally, I researched the hell out of it.


What other things spurr your ideas?

DYANN: My ideas stem from thoughts that make me go—hmmm. It might be something I read or saw on television. What if I took this person, put them in an unusual situation? How would they react?

Let's move right on into A Perfect Bride For Christmas. It's the first book in the collaborative Christmas trilogy, The Three Kings, between you, Alicia Dean, and myself. In it, we meet the youngest King brother, Alex. Tell us about him. What's one thing about Alex that we wouldn’t necessarily learn in the book?

DYANN: Hmmm. Alex is so self assured. I can see his best friend, Jesse Saurs, taking him down a peg or two. She’d probably steal his clothes while they were skinny dipping. Ten-year-old boys should never tell her she’s nothing but a little kid. Especially one like Jesse. How humiliating to have his older brothers come to his rescue.

In romance, all heroes are unforgettable in one way or another. What’s one thing about Alex that makes your heart go pitter-pat?

DYANN: I think it’s the way he falls so irrevocably in love with his children. He’s always been in love with Zoe on some level. Yes, he desires her like crazy, but he really doesn’t understand the true meaning of love until Macy, Michaela, and Mia latch on to his heart. Maybe that doesn’t sound alpha in some people’s books but for me—wow, a man who can love little kids is the bomb.

Those little girls are awful precious. He was kinda doomed from the get go. But I have to agree, his affection for them is exceedingly touching.

How's Alex feel about cats?

DYANN: There are kittens in the story but I can see Alex with a golden retriever. The breed, or the ones I’ve had contact with, are strong, loving, and good with kids.

Well, no hero is complete without his heroine. Give us a preview of the amazing, Zoe. What's her greatest fault?

DYANN: Lack of self esteem. Even when she gets her life together, the old tapes that haunted her past, start to play in her head. It happens to all of us.

Without giving away details that might spoil the story for those who have not read it, could you tell us the one strength Zoe provides to Alex?

DYANN: She becomes his anchor, his touchstone. Alex’s a man who thinks he knows what he wants, but he’s totally clueless.

You're a mom -- if Zoe was your daughter, what advice would you give her upon meeting Alex for the second time?

DYANN: Run, run, run. Girl, he tore your heart to shreds and I don’t care if you think you can handle meeting him again, run.

If we peek in on Alex, Zoe, and the girls, in ten years, what would we see?

DYANN: I can guarantee that Alex and Zoe will have a set of twin boys, a house full of toys, pets, and lots of mayhem. There might be a few squabbles along the way but they will never go to bed angry.

Before we come back to you, let's share this amazing story with everyone else. I feel like I'm sitting on a secret, and it's time to let it out of the bag. So with much ado, here's A Perfect Bride For Christmas, which is already receiving some FANTASTIC reviews:

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.

Zoe loved Alex from the moment he walked through the law firm’s doors. He can charm the panties off any woman, but he’s never tried it with her. The chance to grab for the golden ring is within her reach until everything blows up in her face. Now, five years later she returns to Kansas City with triplets in tow and a brand new look. Catering Alex’ next wedding should prove interesting.


EXCERPT:

December 2005, Kansas City

Scrooge had it right. Bah, humbug! Christmas sucked long and hard.

Lights twinkled on the tree, reflecting off the windows of the darkened office. The smell of holiday spices wafted from the potpourri dish on Zoe Hillman’s desk, filling the room with false cheer. It was Christmas Eve, and not even the large, make that huge, bonus check lifted her spirits.

“Bah, humbug.” She sniffed, wiped her tears for the umpteenth time before she checked her resignation letter to Cox, Zuckerman, Howe, King, and Dunne. No matter that her heart was shattered, her life over, it wouldn’t do for her last act as Alex King’s personal assistant to be sloppy and unprofessional.

She reached into the candy dish on her desk, absentmindedly unwrapped one of the truffles, and popped it into her mouth. The chocolate melted in a creamy, dark lushness designed to put a Band-Aid on her broken heart, but tonight her drug of choice didn’t work. Candy wrappers littered the floor, along with half a box of used tissues. The clock on her computer read seven PM. Alex would be married and on his way to Las Vegas by now. Bianca Freemont would be his bride. Zoe’s brain whipped up an X rated vision of the wedding night, and she grabbed another tissue to wipe her red nose and puffy eyes.

Her breath hitched, and she hit the SEND key before she could change her mind.

God, she was so stupid.


Ah, that just makes me smile. I know what happens. And everyone should run out right now and find out for themselves as well. Zoe is truely a unique lady, and you've given her amazing strength. Absolutely amazing.

Real quick, before you go, I have a couple other things to ask.

As a writer, what is your greatest strength?

DYANN: I’ve been told the way I can work humor into a story without overdoing it and the ability to summarize a character in just a few phrases.

That's so very true. You have a natural gift for humor without it being over-board, and you have the ability to make an impact with very short, concise, and powerful words.

Since you write so often, how has it changed your life?

DYANN: I still didn’t believe everything was real until I saw my book listed on The Wild Rose Press and Amazon. Wow. My reviews have been very positive so far. I had one woman squealing that she knew a ‘real live author’. Talk about strange. I’m all for the live part.

What would you like to say to writers who are reading this interview and wondering if they can keep creating, if they are good enough, if their voices and visions matter enough to share?

DYANN: Your best tool is a good critique group. I’m not talking about one where all your critique partners tell how much they love your writing. You need to be prepared to have a little blood spilled. Honesty is paramount. Be prepared to take the hits when someone you respects says your paragraph sucks, or you use a particular word too often. Also, learn the craft of writing. I’m still working on my grammar.

Be fearless and write what you want.


Thanks, Dyann, for not only sharing that tidbit of wisdom but stopping in today and giving up a few moments of your precious time. I know you're busily working on other projects, and every minute is accounted for. Before you run off, tell us where we can find you.

DYANN:

Twitter: writergal2007
Face book: Dyann Love Barr
Website: http://www.dyannbarr.com/


If you have a newsletter, how can we sign up?

DYANN: I don’t have a newsletter as yet but I’m working on it. However, I do blog on Dreamweaver Authors and my website.
Thanks again, Dyann, and keep up the writing!


~Claire
www.claireashgrove.com
www.toristclaire.com

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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 two Missouri chapters 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. When it's over, I'll give a brief overview. And who knows, maybe I will even have a funny story to share!

~Claire
www.claireashgrove.com
www.toristclaire.com

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Everybody, please welcome Guest Author, Elaine Cantrell.

Hi, Elaine, I'm thrilled to have you here with me today. Your new book looks absolutely wonderful, and it's always exciting to get to know more of the authors I work with at The Wild Rose Press.

So let's talk writing!

We all start in different places on this path. Different influences drive us to write, different experiences push us onward. Would you briefly take us on the journey with you – when did you start writing, did you start in the genre you’re published in now, what hurdles did you have to overcome, etc.

ELAINE: I started writing in 2001 because my son came home and told me he wrote a book. I couldn’t believe it! I’d always wanted to write myself, but I didn’t think I could. Now, here was my younger son handing me a manuscript. He told me that he had always made up stories in his head to amuse himself, so he thought he might as well write them down.

Oh. My. Goodness. I had always done the same thing! I sat down at my computer, and after staring it for about ten minutes I started writing. I haven’t stopped since. No one liked my first book, but I didn’t care. I was hooked. I immediately started the second book.

About that time I heard of a small press called Oak Tree Press. They sponsored the Timeless Love contest every year, and the prize was publication of your book. At the last minute I sent off my manuscript, then promptly forgot about it. Imagine my surprise when months later the publisher called me and told me I’d won. That book was a contemporary romance which is what I mostly write today. I’m trying to do a paranormal and an inspirational, but I’m mostly a sweet to sensual contemporary writer.


You know, that's interesting, because I hope that my boys find the same love for writing as I do -- whether they choose to use it professionally or not. It's nice when our children can motivate us to greatness too.

Now, you just said you write primarily in the contemporary genre. Is that your favorite genre to read? Do you write in any other genres, or under any other pen names you’d like to share?

ELAINE: I do read romance, but I read other genres too. Right now I’m reading a cozy mystery called The Teaberry Strangler by Laura White. I have an account on Goodreads where I list all the things I’ve read. As I said I’ve written both a paranormal and an inspirational romance, but they don’t have homes yet.


I can relate to that. I have a historical and a romantic suspense without a home yet too. You've got a substantial back list. Of the books you've published, do you have a favorite? If so, which one and why?

ELAINE: That’s a tough one. Each time I work on a new book I like it the best, but if I had to pick I’d choose my new one Return Engagement. I fell in love with my hero, so much so that I have a sequel written and have started on a third book featuring him and his family.


Since I mentioned it, would you mind to share your published titles and tell us about anything coming down the pipe next?

ELAINE:

A New Leaf http://www.blogger.com/www.oaktreebooks.comThis one is the one that won the Timeless Love contest.

Grandfather’s Legacy is available from me as a PDF because the publisher died and the publishing house was closed.

Purple Heart http://www.blogger.com/www.thewildrosepress.com

The Welcome Inn http://www.blogger.com/www.wings-press.com

The Best Selling Toy Of The Season http://www.blogger.com/www.midnightshowcase.com

Return Engagement http://www.blogger.com/www.whiskeycreekpress.com

All of the books are also available from amazon.com.

I do have one more book that’s coming soon. It’s called Kara’s Change of Heart and will be published by Lachesis Publishing. You won’t believe the things that happen to my heroine!



Well, we came here to talk about Return Engagement, and this book is one that really shouldn't wait. So with much ado, let's talk about this new release!

Tell me about your plot development? How did the idea spur, did you have to do much research, any interesting tidbits that we should know?

ELAINE: My entire idea revolves around the idea of “what might have been.” I don’t think there’s anyone who hasn’t wondered about that. In this novel I explore what happens when two people get a second chance at love. Research for this one was minimal. I had to look up a couple of descriptions, but that’s about all.


I sense you have a hero to die for. Perhaps even literally. Tell me more about Richard. What’s one thing about your hero that we wouldn’t necessarily learn in the book? A secret dream, an embarrassing habit, an episode from childhood.

ELAINE: Richard, my hero, is impulsive which is obvious in the book, but the extent of his recklessness won’t become apparent until the sequel which is tentatively titled Blue 52. At that time we learn some about some very disturbing consequences of his impulsive behavior.


If Richard doesn’t have a pet in your novel, what kind of pet would best suit his personality?

ELAINE: A Doberman. The Doberman is sleek and muscular, loyal to those he loves, and willing to protect his loved ones at all cost.


All heroes are unforgettable in one way or another. What’s one thing about your hero that makes your heart go pitter-pat?

ELAINE: He’s awfully good looking, but I think what I like best is that he’s a one woman man. He’s an Alpha male with a soft spot for his Elizabeth. He’s willing to kill for her and even die if necessary.


There's that 'dying for'! I knew it! Only I had it backwards. He sounds like you picked him right out of my ideal hero dreams. I can't wait to meet him, Elaine.

Since you mentioned Elizabeth, and since these two are obviously inseperable, share a bit more about her, if you would. Everybody has flaws. Sometimes they are endearing, other times they are annoying. What is your heroine’s greatest fault?

ELAINE: She’s too cautious. Of course after her life I can understand that.


Without giving away details that might spoil the story for those who have not read it, could you tell us the one strength your heroine provides to your hero?

ELAINE: Stability. He’s fire and action, and she calms him and tempers his recklessness.


Mmm. That makes my heart sigh just thinking about it. A perfect counterbalance.

If your heroine was your daughter – what advice would you give her upon meeting your hero?

ELAINE: Be careful. This guy will upset your life in ways you can’t imagine.


That's absolutely intriguing, and definitely sound "mom" advice. Though, it's intriguing enough I'm not sure I would want my daughter meeting Richard. Laugh!

If we peek in on your hero and heroine’s lives ten years from now, can you give us a glimpse of what we’d see?

ELAINE: He’s the most powerful man in the country, but they’re struggling with infertility.


Well if he's going to be the most powerful man in the country, I don't suspect we should keep him waiting. He's probably not too fond of that. So let's have a face to face.

Here's a tempting bit about Return Engagement


Blurb:

Elizabeth Lane has heard the call of the four most seductive words in the entire English language: what might have been. Would you risk everything you hold dear to find out what might have been? That’s the choice which Elizabeth has to make.

Elizabeth is lucky, for she has it all, money, fame, a satisfying career and a devoted fiancé. Her humble beginnings are all but obscured, but she isn’t the kind of woman Senator Henry Lovinggood wants for his son, Richard. Senator Lovinggood plans to make Richard the President of the United States; he’ll need a woman from a wealthy, powerful family by his side. Ten years ago he broke Richard and Elizabeth up, but this time it won’t be so easy, for Elizabeth wants to know what might have been. This time she’ll fight back, a struggle which ultimately leads to kidnapping and attempted murder and alienates her from the man of her dreams.



Excerpt:

This excerpt takes place after Richard and Elizabeth met on the beach after a ten year separation.

“Look at the moon, Richard. Have you ever seen anything so big and beautiful? Isn’t it lovely the way it’s reflecting off the water?”

“Yes, but not as lovely as you are.” Richard made a sound of disgust. “That is so trite. You’d think I could do better, but all evening I’ve had trouble saying what I mean.”

Elizabeth laughed. “Maybe it’s because you’re trying too hard, but for the record, I think you’re doing just fine.” She shivered and hunched her shoulders as she hugged herself. “That wind is cold.”

Richard immediately removed his jacket and handed it to her. “Here, put this on."

“Won’t you be cold?”

“I’m fine. I’ve got on long sleeves and that’s enough.” His eyes twinkled in the moonlight. “In fact, I kind of like the idea of you wearing my clothes. Sounds like high school, huh?”

The chilly wind that blew across the moon-drenched water snatched Elizabeth’s laughter away. “Who cares? Sometimes it’s nice to be as irresponsible as a teenager.”

Richard tugged on her hand. “Let’s sit down and watch the moon awhile.”

Elizabeth willingly sank into the damp sand and cuddled close beside him. My gosh the man had muscles she hadn’t known even existed!

“Richard, about this evening….”

“Elizabeth, about Alex….”

“You go first,” Elizabeth urged. Her shoulders marginally relaxed. She wasn’t looking forward to telling him she couldn’t see him again.

“All right, I will.” Richard turned slightly, an almost angry look on his face. “What the hell do you think you’re doing getting yourself engaged to Alex Crawford? It’s obvious to a blind man that you don’t love him. You’ve been teasing me and flirting with me all evening. You’ve even kissed me.” He stirred up the butterflies in her stomach when he gently caressed her shoulder. “Right now your body language makes me think if I wanted to take this snuggling any further you’d be willing.”

“Wha…” Elizabeth sputtered.

“You don’t strike me as the type of woman who’d pick a man for a night of sex and then go back to her fiancé like nothing had happened. If that’s true I don’t think you love Alex as much as you think you do. The question is: what are you going to do about it?”

Elizabeth moaned and hid her face in her hands. Richard expected this surprise meeting to lead to something more that a hot dog on the beach, a casual meeting between two old…friends. I’ve done enough damage for one evening; I’m going home before I cause any more trouble. I’ve betrayed Alex and given Richard hope for a relationship with me when there is no hope.

She tried to jump up, but Richard grabbed her and held her close. “The wind is cold, and you can think just as well, no better, in my arms.”

Elizabeth gave up the effort to get away from him. There was no way she could argue with those hard, muscled arms. “Yeah, right. Being in your arms clarifies everything! I’m so confused I don’t know if I’m coming or going,” she cried. “I do love Alex. I do! That’s why I agreed to marry him, but with you I feel like a different person.

“I know I shouldn’t have flirted with you and kissed you, but I couldn’t help myself.” Her eyes misted with tears. “I didn’t want to help myself. It’s like it was ten years ago only better because now nobody can accuse me of corrupting a minor. You asked me what I’m going to do, but to tell you the truth, I don’t know. The only thing I’m sure of is that I don’t think I can stand it if you walk away again.”

Elizabeth threw her hands over her burning face again. “What kind of woman am I? I haven’t seen you in ten years, yet here I am leading you on and encouraging you to… What’s wrong with me!”

Richard jerked her hands away from her face and kissed them. “From my point of view things have finally taken a turn for the better.” Satisfaction oozed from his voice.

“You’re willing to admit you don’t want to lose me. It’s taken ten years, but we’re back where we belong-together. Everything I ever felt for you came back the minute you spoke to me.” His voice lowered and became husky and persuasive. “Don’t tell me you didn’t feel it too.”

“I…” Elizabeth fell silent. After all; what could she say?

“Let me help you make up your mind about what to do.” Richard pushed her back into the sand and kissed her, a delicate, brushing of lips that deepened as hearts caught fire.

* * *

Oh yes, very nice. May I keep him? Please?

I'd like to go back to you for a minute, before we say goodbye.

What do you find most difficult about your job as an author?

ELAINE: Undoubtedly, it’s promotion. I’m not very good at it since I’m basically an introvert.

How has writing changed your life?

ELAINE: I’ve learned that dreams can come true. I have a lot more confidence in myself now than I used to.


What has surprised you the most about being a published author?

ELAINE: What surprises me the most is that people assume all authors are making a fortune. I wish!


Laugh! I wish too! Wouldn't it be nice?

It's been a pleasure having you visit, and I hope you'll come back with your next release. We'll let you get back to creating dangerous cirumstances and crafting yummy heroes we'd like to take home with us. Before you go, would you tell us where we can find you? (Website, blog, twitter, etc.)

ELAINE:
My web site is http://www.elainecantrell.com/
My blog is http://www.elainepcantrell.blogspot.com/
My twitter account is http://twitter.com/ElaineCantrell I’d love you to follow me.
My Facebook page is at http://www.facebook.com/#!/profile.php?id=100000153041486 Do send me a friend request.
My MySpace page is http://www.myspace.com/elainecantrell Send me a friend request.


If you have a newsletter, how can we sign up?

ELAINE: Go to my web page and scroll down until you find the yahoo button. Click it and follow the directions.

Thanks again, Elaine, and I hope to see you back soon!


~Claire
www.claireashgrove.com
www.toristclaire.com

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Making Dreams Come True

0 Comments Posted by Claire Ashgrove at 3:12 AM

Well, here she is, my personal Best Horse of the Century bid.

Her name is Zenyatta. But hold on folks, bear with me, we aren't talking about horses today. Not... exactly.

For those of you unfamiliar with horse racing, Zenyatta went into this past weekend's Breeders Cup Classic undefeated, 19 starts, 19 wins. Her racing record is simply unheard of, and her career on the track brought life to a sport that long needed someone to rally behind. She ran against the boys for the second time (having won last year), on dirt for the second time (California circuit is all synthetic track). She may not have been the most favored when looking at records, etc, but she was, hands down, the crowd's favorite.

And she lost. By a head. But her race is still being talked about because of the heart she put into it.

To think... this 19-1, near perfect, crowd favorite mare who's earned over six million dollars in purse money, was purchased for a mere (yes mere) $60,000 and reportedly was "considered a good-for-nothing horse at one point because she had ringworm."

Someone believed in Zenyatta. In return, Zenyatta gave everything she had.

Which is a bit like Clint King's struggle in my new release, A Christmas To Believe In.


Clint's racing stable is struggling. Every dream he owns is in his prize mare who's due to foal before she should, in order to grant him a foal worthy of competition. All of his adult life he's struggled with living up to his father's expectations.

Clint's only ever needed someone to believe in him.

Now, don't get me wrong, Clint's not wallowing in his circumstances, and he's not full of self-pity. He knows what he wants, he knows how to get it, and nothing's going to stand in his way.

A bit like Zenyatta knew how to get over that wire 19 times, when starting at dead last.

It just goes to show what a little love can do. And for Clint, love becomes more priceless than any gift he's ever known.

So, all that said, everybody has dreams that we hold dear. Secret fears, hopes, and aspirations we share with only a select few. I truly believe that A Christmas To Believe In is one every reader can relate to. There might be a horse on the cover but it's not about horses. It's about love, and how important it is. Not just to Clint, but to Jesse, and to Ethan, Jesse's foster child, as well.

Please check it out! It's available for pre-order now, and will release in digital and print on November 24th!

In the meantime, here's a bit from the book:

OFFICIAL BLURB:

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.



~Claire
www.claireashgrove.com
www.toristclaire.com

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Well, today is the big day, for anyone who follows racing. It's the 27th Running of the Breeder's Cup Classic, and all eyes are on Zenyatta.

I don't know if any of you have seen this gal run, but I watched her last race in California a few weeks ago and she's just fantastic. There's no rushing out of the gate, stealing first place and holding it all the way. No, not for the showy lady who marches before her race, poses for the camera, and simply oozes character.

Zenyatta makes her fans wait with baited breath as she claims dead last, then slowly picks off horses all the way to the lead. Here -- just take a peek. I dare you to breathe easily.




An April Fool's Baby, she's undefeated and today is her 20th race. She's running against the boys, not running in the ladies Classic, just like last year. Question is... can she make her final race her greatest? Will she make today a perfet 20-0?

Tune in to ESPN and watch for yourself. Even if you don't bet, don't have a passion for racing, this is one horse everyone can admire. She defines the epitome of dreams.

And she's certainly inspired me.

~Claire
www.claireashgrove.com
www.toristclaire.com

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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?

~Claire
www.claireashgrove.com
www.toristclaire.com

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Well, after listening to two years about this NaNoWriMo stuff, I decided to give it a shot. It was time to start my next Templar book, so it all fit together very nicely.

What have I decided? This NaNo stuff is kinda fun. It pushes me. Not that I particularly need to write any faster, but I am obsessed with that little graph. How high can I get it to climb in one day? And when the blue bar crosses over the purple one... boy that seriously makes me giddy!

My critique partners and I have also challenged one another, and when I saw Dyann creeping up on me, I had to write some more. (Evil laugh!)

Anyway -- is anyone else out there NaNoing? What are your experiences so far?

~Claire
www.claireashgrove.com
www.toristclaire.com

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"Victorians used the term 'limbs' as a euphenism for legs, which were thought to be so sexually exciting to a man, even a glimpse of a table leg could incite him to sexual frenzy. Table skirts were invented to prevent any unnatural unions between men and furniture."
~
(History Channel International)

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