Sunday, July 11, 2010

Swept Away by a new release

I'm very excited to have my dear friend Katharine Ashe visiting the Chatelaines. Katharine is celebrating the release of her first historical romance, Swept Away By A Kiss. And here's an interesting fact about Katharine. She's a history professor at one of the most prestigious universities in the nation. Katharine's first signing with her book will be in Orlando at the RWA national conference so I hope everyone will seek her out, buy her book, and congratulate her on this most special occasion in a writers life. Katharine's post is titled the gift. To celebrate her release I will gift one lucky poster with a copy of my latest release, Breath Of Heaven.

The Gift

Here’s a question: How much should a writer give to her readers? I raise it in complete sincerity. You see, I have given this matter A Great Deal Of Thought.

Allow me to explain how I came to this question.

Are you familiar with those sparkly wrapped Lindt chocolate balls you can only get at cafes (and now apparently at Michaels craft stores—who knew)? Well, years ago before Starbucks speckled the landscape, I was grinding espresso and inventing Cappuccinos Of The Day at the corner coffee shop not far from my apartment. I was in graduate school and struggling to make ends meet. To pay for tuition, books, and the heating bill, I spent loads of time at that cafe.

So did my friends, although not behind the bar. One of my buddies—an Anthropology student working on the next great American novel when he was supposed to be reading cultural theory—would bring in his laptop around mid-morning, tuck himself into his favorite window table, and write. And write, and write, and write.

This friend—David, we’ll call him, because, well, that was actually his name—was constitutionally pockets-to-let. (A little Regency parlance there for atmosphere.) He never had a dime. His roommate told me how once David and a few friends set off from New Jersey on a weekend car trip to Washington DC. About two hours into the drive David revealed that he had $10 in his jeans pocket. And no credit card.

In some matters, David depended upon his friends quite a bit.

At the cafĂ©, he depended upon me. I had the keys to the storage room and David had an insatiable desire for—you guessed it—chocolate Lindt balls. You can see where this is going. He bought a coffee, I gave him a chocolate—for free. The thing is, they weren’t really free. I paid for them. I loved those chocolates, and each shift I purchased a handful for myself. From this private store, I supplied David.

He never knew this. Why didn’t I tell him? Because I liked having that secret. David didn’t care where the chocolates came from as long as he got them. More to the point, I absolutely delighted in giving. (I would make a lousy shop owner, always giving stuff away. “Here, take this dress for free. It looks soo good on you!” And for that we have another useful Regency term: debtor’s prison.)

Some writers are like Santa Claus. They give because they love it and they don’t make a big deal out of it. But it’s a big deal to the people they give to. I appreciate it more than words can say when a fellow author passes on my name to an avid reader, or helps me work out a tough scene in one of my books, or invites me to guest on her blog (Thank you, Cindy!). Givers in the professional realm deserve a special spot in heaven.

So do writers who give to their readers. What I mean by this is writers who give everything inside themselves to write a beautiful story, a story that moves, a story that enthralls, touches the heart, and carries a reader away to a spectacular place. A writer who wants to give much more than she wants to get.

People who give like that—from the depths of the soul—amaze me.

In my debut Regency historical romance, SWEPT AWAY BY A KISS, Lord Steven Ashford is one of those people. Dedicated to a noble mission, he has given his entire life to helping others in danger upon the high seas and in foreign lands. When beautiful, headstrong Lady Valerie Monroe tumbles into that life, she turns it upside down. How can he continue his work when he longs to give everything he is and has to her now?

Love gives him the answer.

Love is, after all, the ultimate giver, the best Santa Claus, the chocolate-dispenser of eternal proportions. True love gives, and it gives everything.

When you are a romance author, you’re just giving back.

(By the way, David is now a successful author of award-winning novels and a professor at a distinguished university. But in my memory he’s still got $10 in his pocket and a pile of sparkly wrappers by his laptop.)

Let’s celebrate Christmas in July today. If you could give someone you love the perfect gift—any gift at all!—what would it be?

Katharine Ashe lives in the wonderfully warm Southeast with her husband, son, two dogs, and a garden she likes to call romantic rather than unkempt. A professor of European history, she has made her home in California, Italy, France, and the northern U.S. RT Book Reviews awarded her debut historical romance, SWEPT AWAY BY A KISS, a “Top Pick!” review. Please visit her at


EmilyBryan July 12, 2010 at 4:15 AM  

Hey Katharine! Can't wait for your debut to appear on the shelve.

Giving really is addictive and its endemic to the romance world. When I first took up the pen, I was blown away by all the help other writers offered me. What other professionals so readily share what they know about their art and craft?

Katharine Ashe July 12, 2010 at 5:00 AM  

Thanks, Emily! Maybe romance authors are so naturally generous professionally because we spend our days thinking and writing about people giving to each other in relationships. Some of that's gotta rub off! :)

Petrina July 12, 2010 at 5:54 AM  

Excellent post, Katharine.

I finished my first Young Adult novel last night, and your post has me wondering about how much I've given in the months it's taken to create the characters, their ups, downs and idiosyncrasies. And the plot, can't forget their story, now can I?

The answer is: I've given a lot. And every time I ask a teen to read over a chapter and they ask to read more, my heart goes pitter pat. It's so worth every hour I spent creating, tweaking and editing to hear that request. To see the smile while they're reading, well, it doesn't get better than that.

I gave them a smile and they gave me one. It doesn't get better than that.

Katharine Ashe July 12, 2010 at 8:26 AM  

Petrina, it's win-win, isn't it? :) It's great to hear teens are loving your YA. Congrats!

Melinda Leigh July 12, 2010 at 2:04 PM  

I've given my daughter the love of writing. She finished her first YA at age 13! Booyah!

Jennifer Harrington July 12, 2010 at 2:40 PM  

I would give my husband TIME to work on all his beloved projects and ideas for making things--he's an Edison if only he had more time away from the requirements of the humdrum world.

THANKS Katharine for such a marvelous post! I really, truly, cannot wait to read your book.

Nancy July 12, 2010 at 4:01 PM  

I parlayed (is that the right word?) my annual volunteering at the NH Highland Games into research for my scottish historical novels. They get a happy volunteer and I get to watch people (including 30,000 men in kilts!)

Gerri Russell July 12, 2010 at 5:34 PM  

Katharine, Congratulations on your new release. It sounds delightful! Thanks also for sharing your story about David and the chocolates. :-) Generosity always comes back at you tenfold. May you reap that generosity in all your writing endeavors.

Katharine Ashe July 12, 2010 at 6:09 PM  

Melinda, how wonderful for your daughter. Do you remember who gave you the same thing? What do they call that, paying it forward?

Jennifer, what a lovely, generous gift to your husband! Many karma coupons coming back at you for even imagining that one.

Nancy... drool... um... that's all I have to say at this time. Except: Smart woman. ;)

Thank you, Gerri. I am honored to be on your blog today. And many thanks to Cindy for hosting me. :)

Erin Kelly July 13, 2010 at 8:24 AM  

Wonderful story, Katharine! I too love to give, not only in writing, but with baked goods as well :) I love that you secretly supplied David with one of my own favorite treats (in my imagination, the sparkly wrappers were blue and he was perpetually high on dark chocolate).

I am so excited about getting my very own signed copy of Swept Away by a Kiss at Nationals! Good luck with the release, and with the windfall of happy readers that is sure to follow :)

aka The Baker :)

Juliet Ayre July 13, 2010 at 5:18 PM  

Okay! This is my first time blogging so please forgive any rookie mistakes. (second time I'm typing it~don't know what happened to the first comment!) The subject of giving is one close to my heart. Never at a loss for the written word, I still cannot adequately describe the feelings I experienced when giving my sister a kidney years ago. I can't believe I'm putting this out there;I used to chastise my father for telling anyone who'd listen. I guess he was just proud but I've always been painfully shy. In a manner of speaking I guess we could say I'm giving a little of myself to you all today
in an effort to overcome the shyness and let my new found friends at HCRW know I'm here~just content to sit in the back and listen. Thanks for letting me join in!

Katharine Ashe July 14, 2010 at 7:28 AM  

Erin, thank you! Your cupcakes are on my list of top ten foods were I to be stranded on a desert island. I am completely serious. Especially the margarita cupcakes. Also, your sparkling disposition gives to everyone you meet. :)

Juliet, wow. Your gift to your sister was beyond generous. No wonder your father spread the news with such pride. I'm so happy that you've shared this with us, and honored. May you now feel completely free to tell the world of your amazingly loving act! Welcome to the chapter, and congratulations upon your first (very successful) post.

Juliet Ayre July 14, 2010 at 3:57 PM  

Thanks! Everyone has been so welcoming. Congrats on the new book~can't wait to read it.

Virginia July 21, 2010 at 8:40 AM  

Hi Katharine, congrats on your new book, sounds fabulous! I think if I could gift anything it would be a trip over seas somewhere. I have always wanted to travel like that myself!


Jennie Marsland July 21, 2010 at 12:43 PM  

Like Jennifer,I would give my hubby time and freedom. He's a wonderful musician and I'd love t see him able to devote himself to that - but that isn't totally unselfish is it, when I get to enjoy it too?

Cindy Holby July 21, 2010 at 1:17 PM  

The winner of the copy of Breath Of Heaven is Juliet! Juliet email me your snail mail at and I will get your prize out to you.

Thanks everyone for the comments about giving and good luck to Katharine with her new release.

Katharine Ashe July 21, 2010 at 1:41 PM  

Congrats,, Juliet! And thanks ladies for your wonderful comments!! :)

Juliet Ayre July 21, 2010 at 2:32 PM  

Thanks so much! Can't wait to read it!

Cindy Holby

Gerri Russell

Joy Nash

Bonnie Vanak

Emily Bryan

C.L. Wilson

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