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Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Guest Blogger Carol Cox and Love In Disguise


CAROL COX is the author of nearly 30 novels and novellas. A third-generation Arizonan, Carol has a lifelong fascination with the Old West and hopes to make it live again in the hearts of her readers. She makes her home with her husband and daughter in northern Arizona, where the deer and the antelope really do play--within view of the family's front porch.

by Carol Cox
Published by Bethany House


Jobless and down to her last dime, Ellie Moore hears about a position with the Pinkerton Detective Agency and believes it's the perfect chance to put her acting skills and costumes to use. Reluctantly, the agency agrees to give her one assignment, one chance to prove herself. Disguised as Lavinia Stewart, a middle-aged widow, Ellie travels to Arizona to begin her investigation. When the need arises, she also transforms into the dazzling Jessie Monroe, whose vivacious personality encourages people to talk.

Mine owner Steven Pierce is going to lose his business if he can't figure out who's stealing his silver shipments. In his wildest dreams, he never expected to receive help from a gray-haired widow... or to fall in love with her beautiful niece.

Then the thieves come after Lavinia and Jessie. Ellie isn't safe no matter which character she plays! Should she give up and reveal her true identity? What will Steven do when he realizes the woman he's falling in love with doesn't really exist?

Enter the LOVE IN DISGUISE Giveaway!

Readers, buy your copy of Love in Disguise today!


One of the things I enjoy most about writing historical novels is the research that goes into them. Poring over musty old books and digging up tantalizing nuggets of information that add texture to a story is an adventure for me, not a chore.

My favorite form of research is making onsite visits to the location where a story is set to get a sense of the sights and sounds my characters would have experienced. It’s exhilarating to walk in the steps of those characters, even if getting inside their heads sometimes means getting odd looks from the people around me . . . and occasionally from my family.

Sometimes an actual town works perfectly for a story. At other times, creating a fictional setting serves the story best, and that was the case when I was writing Love in Disguise. While exploring the back roads of southern Arizona with my husband and daughter, we came upon the site of an old ghost town near the banks of the San Pedro River. The location was made to order for what I had in mind, and so the town of Pickford was born.

Now that I’d decided upon the town’s location, I needed to plan its layout. We were using Tombstone as our headquarters during that trip, and while we walked from our hotel to a restaurant for dinner one evening, it occurred to me that the way Tombstone’s streets are laid out was exactly what I needed for Pickford.

I picked up a local street map and spent the evening locating the points where different scenes would take in the book and marking them on the map. The church, the stage depot, the telegraph office . . . eventually I’d chosen places for them all. It was like creating my own little SimCity!

The next day we set out for the corner where my heroine’s house was situated. My breath caught as I realized that this was the perfect opportunity to experience what Ellie would as she went from one spot to another around Pickford.

“Let’s walk to the Grand Hotel.”

My husband and daughter peered over my shoulder at my revised street plan. “The Grand Hotel . . . which is actually The Bird Cage Theater?”

I nodded happily. It made perfect sense to me, and by now they’ve learned to recognize the signs when I start to slip from the real world into an alternate reality.

I heard faint sighs of resignation as they looked at each other. “Okay, let’s go.”

In no time at all, I felt as completely immersed in my role as Ellie as she was when she took on the roles of Lavinia Stewart and Jessie Monroe in her capacity as an undercover Pinkerton operative. Every step that echoed along the boardwalk seemed to anchor me more firmly in that earlier time as I strode along, nodding to the passersby.

My daughter nudged me. “Why are you holding your camera like that?”

I looked down at the camera, dangling by its strap from my wrist in front of my waist. “It isn’t a camera anymore. It’s my reticule.”

Was that a faint whimper I heard? I thought about reaching out to give her a comforting pat on the arm, but my other hand was busy holding up an imaginary parasol to protect my delicate complexion from the harsh Arizona sun.

As we passed the Pickford stage depot (or in Tombstone, the site of the Longhorn Restaurant), I stepped down off the boardwalk to cross the street, ready to investigate the Pickford Bakery.

A sharp yank on my arm jolted me from my reverie as my husband pulled me to a halt. I blinked and tried to get my bearings. Had the dear man just saved me from being trampled by a runaway horse?

Not exactly. A car was pulling up to the stop sign on the cross street, and he wanted to keep me from stepping out into its path. The realization brought me back to the 21st century with a thud.

That research trip turned out to be one of the most enjoyable I’ve had to date. I hope Pickford will become as real to my readers as it did to me . . . minus the runaway horses and oncoming cars.

* * * * *

Thank you, Carol, for sharing with us today.

Guest Question:  If you could step back in time, what period and place would you visit? Who would you be, and what would you experience there?

ENTRY RULES Readers, leave your email address (name at domainname dot com/net) along with your answer to the question for your chance to win a FREE autographed copy of the book featured above OR a heart-shaped pocket mirror with a sticker featuring the cover of the book above. Your choice if you win. If you do not answer the question, and your email address isn't provided, you will not be entered.

This week, the contest is open to US/Canada residents only.


Anne Payne said...

This is a great post, Carol! It had me laughing outloud :) I could picture you zoning out and into the role of Ellie, with no problem! I think I would step back to Regency England. I'm such a fan of Jane Austen and the beautiful countryside shown in the movies, that I have always wanted to visit there. I would want to take long walks with my husband while soaking in the peacefulness and beauty of the area.


Carol Cox said...

What a lovely idea, Anne! I love looking at--and sighing over--photos of the English countryside.

Janet Chester Bly said...

Carol: Loved your comments & the premise of your new book. Sounds enticing. If I could step back into time would love any day of research with my late hubby Stephen for one of our books in the West. I would be myself...with him...and we would experience a lovely day of being together after a long separation. Sigh!

Anonymous said...

I would love a chance to read a book by a new author. Thanks for the chance.

Carol Cox said...

Patricia, it's wonderful to meet you here!

Janet, your comment made me think of the times I've seen you and Steve together. Watching the two of you and seeing your love for one another always made the day seem brighter. I am so looking forward to the day when the separations will be over, and we begin a reunion that will never end!

Amy C said...

I would have to say around 1900 in the mtns of VA where my grandpa grew up. He was a great story teller. I want meet those aunts, uncles, cousins, and others. Sit out that old country store. Have picnics on the creekside. Talk to the grandpa who was a POW during civil war. And talk with another who at the surrender at Appomattox. Hear about their grandparents living on the frontier. I could go on and on if I haven't already.
Great post!
Amy Campbell

Carol Cox said...

Amy, it sounds like you have a rich family heritage! Your description of the old country store and the creekside make me want to spend time there. Vermont is one of the few states I haven't visited yet, but I hope to make it there someday!

Angi said...

Carol, I chuckled while reading about your experiences in Tombstone. Sounds like you really get into your work. All you needed was the period clothing to go along with it. :) My favorite time frame is 1860-1880. For me, it just seems like the day of the cowboy was in full throttle at that point. And I love some of the dresses during that time period as well. Can't wait to read "Love in Disguise".


squiresj said...

If I could go back in time, I would like to go back to the time of the Little House on Prairie books. I would like to experience the travel by covered wagon and new experiences. Yet life has new adventures every day.
jrs362 at hotmail dot com
Please enter me

Carol Cox said...

I'm with you, Angi. I love the dresses from that time period and the early 1890s. And I would have had the opportunity to dress like that on a later trip, if I'd been better prepared. We went down a couple of months after the research trip so my husband could take part in a Cowboy Fast Draw meet. The participants dress in late 19th-century garb, so if I had stocked up ahead of time, I would have been all set. But I was so focused on spending my time working on Love in Disguise that I didn't even think about it! While we were there, though, I did some shopping at one of the local stores that sell old-time clothing. Next time, I'll be ready! ;-)

Cheryl said...

This is a fabulous post, and I just had to chuckle because I was complaining to my mother-in-law today about all the research I was doing for the historical I am working to complete this month. My librarian has been a godsend.

The mid-1800s is where I would like to be. New York maybe or Colorado Springs. I would go as an adult so I could appreciate the significance of the era. I would love to bring my digital camera with me so I could remember it all.

Thanks for the chance to win.



Carol Cox said...

I'm glad you enjoyed it, Cheryl! And I agree about librarians being heaven sent! It really would be fun to see New York and Colorado Springs during that era. And I love the idea of capturing it all on your digital camera!

Tiffany Amber Stockton said...

I too got a chuckle over the description of getting lost in the past and seeing the town through "writer" eyes. I'm guilty of that in so many ways. My first series was set in Colonial Delaware, and Old New Castle still exists today as a restored Colonial Williamsburg, only on a smaller scale.

Avoiding a car and thinking perhaps it was a runaway carriage? LOL!

And Cheryl, I live in Colorado Springs. I'm itching to do some research and get some of my historicals set right here. Have to meet my deadlines first though.