Thursday, May 10, 2012

Guest Post & Giveaway with Barbara Ashford

Please help me welcome Barbara Ashford, the author of one of my favorite books last year-SpellCast. It's sequel, Spellcrossed is coming out June 5th, 2012. She is here today talking about her favorite type of heroines & is giving away either Spellcast or Spellcrossed to one lucky winner. See the end of the post for more!

First off, happy blogiversary, Colette! Three years and counting! WOO-HOOO!

I’ve got a lot to celebrate this month, too – a birthday, a wedding anniversary, and the one-year anniversary of the publication of Spellcast. A blend of fantasy, mystery, and romance, Spellcast is the story of Maggie Graham, a woman trying to find her path in life – and finding that her path takes a lot of unexpected turns when she ends up at a very unusual summer stock theatre.With the sequel – Spellcrossed – coming out next month, Colette asked me to talk about my favorite types of heroines. So here goes!

Whether it’s Anne Boleyn or Anne of Green Gables, Elizabeth I or Elizabeth Bennett, I’m drawn to women who are strong, passionate, and complex. The stereotypical evil sorceress or kick-ass warrior woman…yawn. I like characters who surprise me, who don’t always react in predictable ways. Those are all qualities I wanted to give to Maggie. Here are some others:

Everyone makes mistakes. But when a character consistently makes dumb choices, I lose patience – and interest. That said, I like to read – and write – about characters who have blind spots and discover something new about themselves. In Spellcast, Rowan forces Maggie to look at herself more honestly. And she demands the same from him. That creates conflict, but it also helps cement their relationship.

I’m not talking about one character lusting after another, but someone who wants something and struggles hard to get it. Nobody wants to read about a character who sits around whining and  does nothing to try and change things.

Even characters who are adrift as Maggie is at the beginning of Spellcast want something: to get their lives back on track. Along the way, things happen that force them to reassess what they want – and what they need. Take Claire in Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander. When she’s catapulted into the 18th century, she just wants to get back to her time and her husband. Then she falls in love with Jamie. Which leads me to:

I love reading about characters who are forced to make tough choices. When Claire chooses Jamie, she has to give up Frank and the safe life she knew. In Spellcast and Spellcrossed, Maggie has to make tough choices that involve losing someone she loves.

Have you ever read a book where the character’s life seems to begin on page one? Or you find out she’s suffered some huge personal loss, but it never seems to affect her? I rarely become emotionally involved in those kinds of stories. Our pasts shape us – for better and for worse. Maggie and Rowan are both scarred by their pasts. Their ability to share those dark moments solidifies their relationship and strengthens them as people.

Characters who take themselves oh-so-seriously and think they’re the center of the world are dull. Lighten up!
So my favorite types of heroines? Tough broads with a romantic streak. Romantics with their feet on the ground. Women who might battle super-human odds, but still have the same kinds of doubts and worries and hopes that I do. No matter how fantastic the setting, I want to read about real people. Those are the kind of characters I try to create in my books.

If you want to learn more about the Crossroads Theatre series, stop by my Website – – where you can read excerpts from Spellcast and Spellcrossed.

 Barbara Ashford is giving away one paper copy of either Spellcast or an ARC of SpellCrossed. This giveaway is open to US/Canada residents only. Open until May 18th, 2012. Just leave an email address and state which one you want. :)

Maggie Graham is having a very bad day. First, she loses her job. Then the bathroom ceiling in her Brooklyn apartment collapses. That’s when Maggie decides she needs to get out of town. A weekend in Vermont seems like the perfect getaway. When she stumbles on the Crossroads Theatre, reviving her acting career is the last thing on her mind, but a week later, she’s back in summer stock at a theatre unlike any she’s ever known.Director Rowan Mackenzie is even odder than the collection of misfits that comprise the cast. What kind of director casts people in the roles they need? And never leaves the grounds of the theatre? And possesses the power to transform a train wreck of a show into a magical experience for cast and audience alike?There’s a secret at the Crossroads, and Maggie is determined to uncover it before summer’s end – if she can prevent her mother from discovering her whereabouts, deal with the staff’s efforts to thwart her, and avoid falling prey to Rowan Mackenzie’s charm. She never imagines that she will uncover secrets about her past that will change her life – and Rowan’s – forever.

It's not easy losing the magic in your life...
But that's what allowed Maggie Graham to take the first step toward her new life as the executive director of the Crossroads Theatre.As a hectic new season of summer stock begins, Maggie has to balance the demands of her interfering board president and the needs of a company of actors that includes bewildered amateurs, disdainful professionals, a horde of children, and an arthritic dog. While Maggie yearns to give her cast members the kind of healing she found at the Crossroads, she recognizes that magic must take a back seat to ticket sales - and Rowan Mackenzie must be consigned to the past. But magic is hard to banish from the old white barn where the unexpected is as time-honored a tradition as the curtain call and memories lurk like ghosts in the  shadowy wings. And when the tangled spells of Maggie's past turn her life upside down, it will take more than magic to ensure the happy ever-after she longs for…