image: header
image: gownflare

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Guest Blogger Louise M. Gouge and A Suitable Wife


LOUISE M. GOUGE, an award-winning Florida author, writes historical fiction for Harlequin's Love Inspired imprint. In addition to numerous other awards, Louise is the recipient of the prestigious Inspirational Readers’ Choice Award for her 2005 historical novel, Hannah Rose (first place) and her 2011 Regency novella, The Gentleman Takes a Bride, (second place). Please visit her Web site at

by Louise M. Gouge
Published by Harlequin Love Inspired Historical


It’s an impossible attraction. Lady Beatrice Gregory has beauty, brains—and a wastrel brother. With her family fortune squandered, her only chance of a Season is as a lowly companion. London’s glittering balls and parties are bittersweet when Beatrice has no hope of a match. Still, helping Lord Greystone with his charitable work brings her genuine pleasure…perhaps more that she dares to admit. Even when every marriageable miss in London is paraded before him, the only woman to capture Lord Greystone’s attention is the one he shouldn’t pursue. Attaching himself to a ruined family would jeopardize his ambitions. Yet Lady Beatrice may be the only wife to suit his lord’s heart.

Readers, buy your copy of A Suitable Wife today!


Readers often ask me where I get my story ideas, and it’s a question I love to answer. Ideas come from everywhere, and I never know when one will hit me hard and demand to be written.

I once saw a man and a boy tossing a football outside my window. I began asking “what if?” and the answers blossomed into a story. When I mentioned it to my friend, she said, “You go home and write that!” I did, and that story became my first published novel and its sequel.

Another idea came while I was reading Moby Dick for a college class. When I found out Captain Ahab had a wife, I immediately thought “what kind of girl would marry that crazy old whaling captain?” The answer grew into my master’s thesis, Ahab’s Bride. Then I wrote two more books to continue the story, and my Ahab’s Legacy series was born.

I have been inspired by bits of real history, such as learning that my home state of Florida was a British colony during the Revolutionary War. Why didn't this colony join the thirteen colonies in their rebellion against England? The answers gave me my first series from Harlequin’s Love Inspired Historical imprint.

My most recent series came from a minor character in another historical novel. This poor but aristocratic woman was a companion to a wealthy, haughty lady who treated her rather badly. I began wonder “what circumstances would require a well-born lady hire herself out as a companion that way?” Three stories came to mind, and I've had great fun writing them.

Right now I’m wondering about a certain biblical character, and I hope to find all the right questions. . .and answers. . .to develop another series. We’ll see.

Sometimes when people find out that I’m a writer, they begin to tell me a story and want me to write it. At times like that, I think of my friend who encouraged me way back when. Like her, I respond, “Why don’t you go home and write that story?” You may not consider yourself a writer, but maybe you've had an idea. Or maybe you could write your family history. Think of how grateful future generations will be to know all about our times and your part in them!

* * * * *

Thank you, Louise, for sharing with us today.

Reader Question: What do you think might make a good idea for a story? What might keep you from writing it?

ENTRY RULES Readers, leave your email address (name [at] domainname [dot] com) along with your answer to the question for your chance to win a free autographed copy of the book featured above. If you do not answer the question, and your email address isn't provided, you will not be entered.

Louise is also giving away a copy of the book on her blog.

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

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Guest Blogger Ann Lee Miller and Avra's Gold


ANN LEE MILLER earned a BA in creative writing from Ashland (OH) University and writes full-time in Phoenix, but left her heart in New Smyrna Beach, Florida, where she grew up. She loves speaking to young adults and guest lectures on writing at several Arizona colleges. When she isn’t writing or muddling through some crisis—real or imagined—you’ll find her hiking in the Superstition Mountains with her pastor husband or meddling in her kids’ lives.

Find Ann also at:
The Art of My Life Blog

by Ann Lee Miller
Published by Flawed People Press


In the tradition of The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, four friends navigate college and the drama churned up by their Florida beach band to cement friendship and more.

Avra wants love, but drummer Cisco—self-medicating from his parents’ divorce with sex and intoxicants—is a poor choice. Cisco hungers for fresh-baked cookies and the scent of family he finds at Avra’s.

Kallie shares her classically trained voice only with lead vocalist Jesse and fights to keep her heart safe. Jesse feeds on fame and hides more than insecurity beneath his guitar.

The friends surf ego, betrayal, and ambition and head for wipeout. But somehow, when they're not looking, Avra’s God changes them all.

Readers, buy your copy of Avra's God today! Also available at Barnes & Noble and Smashwords, with reviews at Goodreads and Shelfari.


Pressing Real Life into Fiction

As a writer, I’m a vulture, feeding off the carcass of my life and other people's lives. Usually, it’s just bits and pieces—an experience here, a personality trait there, a deeply etched emotion, a pivotal relationship.

For example, in Avra’s God, I draw heavily from my own spiritual pilgrimage and my life experiences as a young adult to paint Kallie and her story. Aly from Kicking Eternity has the same frustration I had learning to drive stick shift. The whole story takes place at a church camp where so many of my warmest memories were formed. I actually still go to teen camp every summer.

In The Art of My Life Henna shows up as a secondary character who grows pot in the back yard and has obviously smoked one doobie too many over the years. She is a lovable, comical character who fractures cliches much like my mother did in her waning years with Alzheimer's. I use a funny story that actually happened. Mom insisted that while she was in the grocery store someone stole eighteen pair of her panties out of her laundry basket which was setting in the passenger seat of her car. And the would-be thief replaced her pristine grandmamma undies with eighteen ratty pair.

Starr, who has a more predominant role in The Art of My Life is a repressed ballet teacher. I took ballet as a child to correct my inward-turning feet. I also struggle with repression. Starr and I rebelled from bohemian upbringings into conservatism. Starr’s hyper-critical attitude toward her son, however, I borrowed from my father’s personality. Both Starr and I heard from our fathers, “I’ll give you something to cry about,” when we cried.

Cal went to jail in The Art of My Life, had a love affair with marijuana. Close relatives have done the same. Aly fights my leftover Catholic guilt. Fish holds grudges like I do. Aly falls overboard like I did as a kid. Leaf and my late father were Willie Nelson look-alikes.

I, like my characters, have always inhabited the bottom rung of the middle class. We all drive beater cars. I lived on a sailboat as a kid, and boats show up in all my books so far. Because I am a spiritual person, my characters wrestle or refuse to wrestle with issues of faith.

As a novelist I find myself revisiting themes from my own life. Kicking Eternity delves into enabling someone involved in substance abuse. The Art of My Life focuses on an adult child overcoming diminished self-esteem due to a critical parent. Forgiving people who have deeply hurt us and overcoming self-condemnation when we breach our personal moral code are issues I lived that recur in my books. Avra's God highlights the trek back to trust after cheating and lust for fame, issues close friends have dealt with.

Since all my books give male characters heavy play and The Art of My Life has a male protagonist, people ask me where I get my insight from. Like most parts of writing, I get it from real life. I've been surrounded by guys my whole life. My closest relationship growing up was with my father, toxic though it may have been. My only sibling is male. Three of my four children are guys. My husband grants me access to dive in and poke around in the male psyche. But I’m still learning. This year’s big discovery is that most guys could care less about matching—they don’t really give a flip whether they walk out the door with brown pants, brown shoes, and a coordinating shirt. Just last week my sons told me you have to “train” a beard. Who knew?

Though I draw large portions of each book from real life, many, many research hours—internet searches, interviews, reading non-fiction books—have to be invested. For Kicking Eternity I studied meth addiction and for Avra’s God, recovering from an affair. For The Art of My Life I relied heavily on friends who run a charter sailing business to answer hundreds of questions. A trip to New Smyrna Beach, Florida, where the books are set was necessary to take photos and verify locations and details. I watched an oil change at Walmart, spent a way-out-of-my-comfort-zone afternoon at a tattoo parlor, and took a sail, along with dozens of other research ventures.

I need to write about things I care deeply about because it takes a lot of passion to propel me through the year it takes to write a book. Writing about issues and experiences I've lived lends my stories depth and a bedrock of truth.

* * * * *

Thank you, Ann, for sharing with us today.

Reader Question: What from your life would you like to relive in a story?

ENTRY RULES Readers, leave your email address (name [at] domainname [dot] com) along with your answer to the question for your chance to win a free eBook copy of the book featured above. If you do not answer the question, and your email address isn't provided, you will not be entered.

Anyone who leaves a comment with an e-mail address will receive a free e-copy of prequel: Kicking Eternity. Or you may request your free copy at

This week, the drawing is open to anyone worldwide.