Spooktacular Giveaway Hop

It’s been a few years since I participated in the Spooktacular Giveaway Hop, but now that I’m writing Down Salem Way, the prequel to the Loving Husband Trilogy, it seemed like a good time to give away a few autographed paperback copies of Her Dear and Loving Husband, Book One in the Loving Husband Trilogy. If you love Outlander or A Discovery of Witches, then Her Dear and Loving Husband will be a great read for you. To find out more about the book, check here. Her Dear and Loving Husband is also a great book for Halloween with its vampires, witches, ghosts, and werewolves. Thanks to BookHounds for hosting the blog hop.

This giveaway is open to readers all over the world. Wherever you are, you’re welcome to participate.

Simply do one of the following and you’re entered into the drawing for one of five autographed paperback copies of Her Dear and Loving Husband. The sign up links are located on the right sidebar.

  1. Follow this blog
  2. Follow me on Facebook
  3. Follow me on Twitter
  4. Follow me on Goodreads

To enter the giveaway, add your name and email address into the form below. In the message section, state which of the above options you chose.

That’s it! Good luck to everyone who entered!

Hop on over to the one of the other participating blogs and see what other great prizes you can win.

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Character Inspiration: Sarah Alexander and Elizabeth Wentworth

Fans of the Loving Husband Trilogy are familiar with Elizabeth, the greatest love of James Wentworth’s life. She is the woman he sees across the dining room table in Salem Village in 1692, and her beauty and warmth capture his heart forever. But where did the idea for Elizabeth come from? And who came first, Elizabeth or James’ future love, Sarah Alexander?

To answer the second question first, trying to figure out who came first, Elizabeth or Sarah, is like a chicken and the egg question. On the one hand, you think the chicken had to come first because how can you have an egg without a chicken to lay it, but then you think it had to be the egg because where would a chicken come from if there wasn’t an egg to hatch from? You can’t have Sarah without Elizabeth. They’re too intertwined. Chronologically, Elizabeth was first since she married James in 1691, and James and Sarah married in 2011.

Writing the novel was more complex than following the chronology. My initial concept for Her Dear & Loving Husband was for it to be a completely modern novel. In my mind, Sarah came first. The bigger story that includes the Salem Witch Trials didn’t come to me until I decided where to set the novel. Once I decided to set the story in Salem and include the witch trials, then Elizabeth appeared. Are Sarah and Elizabeth exactly the same? Not quite. Obviously, they share similarities, but Elizabeth lives in the late 17th century; Sarah lives during our times. The differences between them are the differences you might expect from people who live in different centuries.

Sarah was easier to conceptualize since she’s a modern woman. I can’t say that there was any one major inspiration for Sarah. For most of the characters I write, I imagine a favorite actor in the “role” of the character, which gives me a sense of mannerisms and speech cadence. For example, for John Wentworth, James’ father, I imagined one of my all-time favorite actors, Sir Patrick Stewart, as John, which gave me a very clear vision of how John would sound as he spoke, what he looked like, and how he acted. I didn’t have a particular actress in mind for either Sarah or Elizabeth. They were completely figments of my imagination, which can work as well since I can allow my imagination to run wild. While we’re on the subject, I didn’t have a specific actor in mind for James. Every other character in Her Dear & Loving Husband had a well-known actor in the “roles.” Call it my Loving Husband dream team. But the three leads—James, Sarah, and Elizabeth—were all from my own imaginings.

Elizabeth is more of a mystery in Her Dear & Loving Husband. We see her in snippets throughout the novel, and we have some sense of her personality, and we see how close she and James are so that we undertand why James was so devastated by her loss during the witch hunts. But we don’t learn a lot about her. She’s there in the background, a shadow that haunts both James and Sarah, but by the end she’s relegated to her role as a memory. My inspiration for writing Down Salem Way came from the fact that I felt like there was more to explore about James and Elizabeth’s experiences in Salem in 1692. I wanted to know Elizabeth better. I wanted to see more of James and Elizabeth together, happy, content in their lives together, and I wanted to examine how it all fell apart, through no fault of their own.

Character inspiration can come from anywhere. It can come from books, movies, TV shows, music, people you know, favorite actors, or your imagination. My imagination was my main tool for creating both Elizabeth and Sarah. What I’ve learned from this experience is that you can go home again—at least when you’re writing fiction. I wanted to explore Elizabeth a little more, and now I’m able to do that through writing Down Salem Way.

You can see the first sneak peek of Down Salem Way here. It’s written diary-style from James’ point of view. I’m enjoying writing as James. It’s time he had his chance to share his side of what happened in 1692.

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5 Books to Read if You Love Fantasy Romance

One of the fun things about reading is that once we discover a new genre we love we go on the hunt to find similar books. I love historical fiction, so it’s relatively easy to find more to read since I’m interested in most eras of history. I love novels set everywhere from Ancient Greece to the Jazz Age to World War II. As an author, I’ve written books set in Biblical Jerusalem, the American Civil War, World War I and the women’s suffrage movement, the Salem Witch Trials, the Cherokee Trail of Tears, the Japanese-American internments during World War II, and the Victorian Era. It’s fair to say I have varied tastes as a reader and writer of historical fiction.

Fantasy romances were another matter. After I wrote the Loving Husband Trilogy I stayed away from other fantasy romances because I felt like I needed to extend my horizons as a reader and a writer. Then recently I discovered Outlander (novel and TV show), and I fell in love with the fantasy romance genre all over again. Like any other reader, I scrambled to find other books that gave me that same magical, historical, romantic feel.

Here are five books for lovers of fantasy romance:

  1. Outlander—As you probably already guessed, Outlander is at the top of my list. Outlander has everything I love—fascinating historical descriptions of 18th century Scotland, a fast-moving plot, a genuine love story, and a hunky male lead. There are eight books so far in the series, and as of this writing I’ve read the first two. All of the books are at the top of my TBR pile, and I’m looking forward to reading them all. Definitely start with Outlander. It really does set the tone for the overall story.
  2. A Discovery of Witches—This was published around the same time Her Dear and Loving Husband came out, and I think I was afraid to read it because it sounded similar in many ways to my own story of a vampire professor. I’m glad I finally picked it up. I’m nearly finished reading A Discovery of Witches, and I’m ready for Book Two. This first book in the All Souls Trilogy also talks about history (how can you have a conversation between a witch historian and a vampire professor without discussing the past?), but my understanding is that in Book Two there’s a time travel element where Matthew and Diana visit Matthew’s past. Like Outlander, there’s history, magic, and a great romance in A Discovery of Witches.
  3. The Time Traveler’s Wife—Here’s another romance with the mystery of time travel. This is a story of a great love that continues despite the many obstacles in Henry and Clare’s way (it’s hard when the man you love suddenly disappears). But Henry and Clare are committed to each other, and in a way the problems associated with Henry’s time traveling only serve to strengthen their love.
  4. The Mists of Avalon—I read this last year, and I absolutely loved it. It’s a magical retelling of the story of Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, and it’s told from the women’s point of view. While there are romances (this is based on the legends of the Knights of the Rount Table after all), the emphasis here is on the magic of the faery world, the priestesses of Avalon, and the emergence of Christianity. This is part of a series, and though I’ve only read The Mists of Avalon, there are other books to enjoy if you love the first one.
  5. Her Dear & Loving Husband—You didn’t think I’d leave my own James and Sarah off this list, did you? The fantasy in this book, and in the whole Loving Husband Trilogy, comes from the magic of vampires, witches, werewolves, and ghosts. The romance, of course, is between vampire James Wentworth and human Sarah Alexander, and their love spans more than 300 years. There’s also history thrown in through accounts of the Salem Witch Trials in 1692. I talked in this post about how I see my books as romantic rather than romances, but if you’re into heartwarming love stories, then Her Dear & Loving Husband may be right up your alley.

I said this was going to be a list of five books to read, but each of the novels on this list is part of a series, so there’s actually many books here to help you quench your thirst for more fantasy romance.

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