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Saturday, April 10, 2010

Interview of Claire Ashgrove, RBRU Member Author!


I've known Claire for a number of years, and watched as her career has taken off! I'm honored to interview her and let her tell you what's happening!
Claire has been writing since her early teens and maintained the hobby for twenty years before deciding to leap into the professional world. Her first contemporary novel, Seduction's Stakes, sold to the Wild Rose Press in 2008, and she continues to write steamy, sexy stories for the Champagne line.
Writing, however, isn't her only passion. When she's not sitting at the computer ticking out plotlines, she raises and trains Oldenburg, Thoroughbred, and Arabian horses. Time allowing, she competes in the sports of Show Jumping, 3-Day Eventing, and Dressage. Many of her favorite barn friends make cameo appearances in her horse-themed novels.
Claire lives on a small farm in Missouri with her two toddler sons, fifteen horses, one goat, and five dogs. She credits her success to her family's constant support and endless patience.
Please give us the title of your latest book and buy link.
"Timeless Valentine"
Buy Link: http://www.thewildrosepress.com/claire-ashgrove-m-646.html?zenid=03303abd12deba6b232310147c747da3

Q: What part of the book is the easiest for you…beginning, middle, end. Why?
A: The easiest part of writing a book for me is, hands down, the beginning. Because I’ve spend so much time planning the story, I usually have the scene completely staged down to the itty bitty details by the time I get to putting it in words. That momentum stays for probably the first fifteen chapters.

Q: What part of the book is the hardest for you...beginning, middle, end. Why?
A: This actually depends on the book. Some books require such a significant ending that the ending will bog me down. I know I have to make it impacting, but I’m on the rush of conflict resolution and I have to force myself to slow down and not skip over important things. Other times, I’ve put so much planning into the beginning and end, that the middle takes a lot of focus. If I know the end is going to have fireworks in it, the middle makes me want to rush to the end. So pacing myself when I’m writing becomes key, in either situation.

Q: Who is your favorite character in your book(s) and why?
A: To date, my favorite character in any of my books is Bahadur Mamoon, the horse in my coming release, Waiting For Yes. He was stylized after my own stallion, and although my horse doesn’t have near the issues this one does, he embodies a lot of his positive qualities. Things that few people would really recognized unless they knew him as I do.

In Timeless Valentine, however, Olivia wins that award. She’s eccentric, outspoken, and when I see her in my head, she dominates the vision. Beyond her personality, and her journey in the novel, Olivia’s past is fraught with little inside jokes – things my girlhood friends and I still laugh about to this day. All authors joke about, “If you make us mad, we’ll knock you off in a book.” Well, in this case, I knocked off about five people in one. No one but my most intimate friends would recognize the nuances, and that makes it even more entertaining. I had a blast developing her!

Q: Facebook, MySpace, Blogs, Chats, or Twitter. Which do you like best and why?
A: Twitter. Although in all honesty I have a very hard time getting into the social networks. I could (and have) spent full days doing nothing but social networking. Facebook plagues me with Farmville. I can zone out and yap all day long on Twitter. So I force myself to take long periods away from them. Otherwise, my productivity goes out the window.

Q: What’s your strongest point as a writer?
A: Peek into any other aspect of my life and it’s chaos, but I am meticulously organized when it comes to writing. I have Giant charts to keep me on track with deadlines and goals. I plot every story often to the nth degree. I force my schedule to allow for time enough to write a chapter a day. I save every query, every piece of correspondence, every everything – all in neat little organized stacks and files. My bookshelves, even my reference books, are arranged in alphabetical order by author – it’s really quite anal retentive. Part of this comes from being a former Project Manager and getting delirious over having boxes to check off as “complete”. However, I hold myself to some very rigid and high goals – such as composing seven books last year. The only way I can meet expectations is to make sure everything has a time slot – even to the point of planning ‘wiggle room’.

Q: What is your favorite romance book that you’ve read?
A: I do a lot of speed-reading so I can keep up with the industry, honestly. Mainly because, while I know it does help my own writing in following what others are doing, especially in my genre, it feels like unproductive time. That said, I tend to latch on to a small handful of authors, so my book preferences almost always end up author preferences. Last year I discovered historical author, Karin Tabke, while looking for paranormal romances in Pocket… I opened the first pages of Master of Surrender and was hooked. She’s now my idol Not just because of her writing ability, but because she’s succeeded in multiple genres, which is my absolute goal. I hope that my career will be as rewarding as hers has become.

Q: Tell us where to find you: website(s), publisher’s page(s), blog(s), Facebook page(s), etc. List them all!
A: My website is: http://www.claireashgrove.com where you can also sign up for my monthly newsletter. I maintain a blog, although use it more as an announcements blog—which I am hoping to adjust as this year goes along: http://claireashgrove.blogspot.com – the link is also on my website. You’ll also find me on Facebook as Claire Ashgrove, and I do keep my former Myspace page somewhat up to date – again, Claire Ashgrove. I’m on Twitter also – ClaireAshgrove
I’m published through The Wild Rose Press – http://www.thewildrosepress.com

Q: Anything you’d like to add that I didn’t mention?
A: I’ve started 2010 out with two sales – Waiting For Yes, and A Christmas To Believe In. Both maintain the theme of horses I began with my first book, Seduction’s Stakes, and the savvy reader will even find a link back to Seduction’s Stakes in A Christmas To Believe In. Both titles should release in 2010, although at this time the release dates are pending.
I will be presenting a program with fellow author, Jackie Bannon, on “The Joy of Sex” – an analysis of the level of heat in today’s market, where a book falls within that spectrum, and what makes a book hot or not – in May, for the Heartland Romance Authors in Kansas City.

TIMELESS VALENTINE BLURB:
Childhood hatred fired their blood. Yet, a Valentine's Day experiment inflames their hearts.

When Lucas Benning relocated to Kansas City, his best friend’s sister became his roommate. Problem is, they’ve despised each other since he cut off her hair when she was fifteen. But with Valentines Day looming, his sentimental side can’t accept Olivia’s jaded perspective the holiday’s for fools. He vows to prove romance doesn’t go hand-in-hand with sex. Except, a game he starts to prove a point awakens a frightening passion he can’t escape.

Eccentric artist, Olivia McDaniels, finds Lucas’ proposal laughable. Yet, when her brother commissions a portrait of Lucas, she sees a different side of the man--tender and selfless. To her horror, he chips away at the walls around her heart. Only, Lucas belongs to another woman, and the feelings he stirs can only lead to pain.

As the holiday arrives, will Cupid’s arrows forge a timeless bridge between their differences, or will they eternally miss their mark?

EXCERPT
At the close proximity, Lucas' chuckle reverberated through Olivia, setting off butterflies in her belly. The faint scent of his cologne – a touch of spice blended with the faintest scent of vague cinnamon – wafted to her nose. Everything inside Olivia arced forward, seeking contact with his powerful frame, yearning to feel those hard planes of muscle. Mere inches away, all she had to do was reach out one fingertip to trace his firm jaw, his full mouth.

His eyes held hers, unblinking. In the next heartbeat, his smile wavered, replaced by a strange softness that sent her pulse bounding and her heart hammering against her ribs. God, if he had been any other man, those signals screamed go. Warned loud and clear kissing came next. Kisses she hadn’t had, or wanted, since Robert.

“Did you finish the portrait?” Lower now, his voice hung in the awkward silence.

She swallowed, finding only the strength to whisper, “No.”

“I think you need inspiration.”

Unbelievably, his gaze dropped to her mouth, lingering long enough to send a wave of heat coursing through her.

She moistened her lips, tamping down a burst of nervousness. “What kind of inspiration?”

Reaching out, he caught a lock of her hair between and twirled it between thumb and forefinger. A jolt of electricity raced down her spine, raising the downy hairs on her arm.

“Not sure,” he murmured. “Tell me what the pose is."

Doing her best to ignore the pleasant sensations of his fingers and the heat that seeped into her shoulder where his wrist almost touched her, she swallowed again. “A… kiss.”

“Hm.” He pushed the lock of hair behind her ear, but instead of turning her loose, slid his fingers through the lengths and drew them over her shoulder.

She’d have sworn the gesture drew him closer. As she glanced down at his chest, he was so near, if she shifted at all, she’d brush against him. God, how she wanted to. One hint of welcome, and that mouth would find hers. She felt it in her soul.

Thanks to Claire for being with us today! Look for her books and find her at various sites. She's also a Member Author at this blog's Yahoo site http://groups.yahoo.com/group/romancebooksrus

5 comments:

April Ash said...

What an amazing background you have to use in your books! Thanks for doing this interview!
Marianne/April

Sandy said...

Great interview, Marianne.

I learned a lot about you Claire. Your excerpts sound great.

Amber Skyze said...

Interesting interview! And loved the excerpts.

Tina Donahue said...

Wonderful excerpts, Claire - great interview too!

Claire Ashgrove said...

Thanks all for stopping by! Marianne, I had a lot of fun with this interview -- especially squealing on where Olivia came from.

I'm glad to be a part of Romance Books "R" Us, and I hope to get to know everyone better! Drop me an email sometime -- I'd love to hear from you.

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