Sunday, October 3, 2010

Coffee Shop Conversations: Q&A and a Giveaway with author Ashley March

        Hello all you fabulous Dames, and welcome to Coffee Shop Conversations! On this segment of the blog I will be conducting interviews with Authors, Bloggers and anyone else relative to the literary world and willing to answer my questions. Coffee Shops are great places to just relax, let the hair down and talk about life, love and good books! So without further adieu, let's get to chatting with my special guest:

Author Ashley March

"After spending countless hours memorizing both traditional and simplified Chinese characters, perfecting her tones, and practicing her speaking with any Chinese native she could find, Ashley successfully graduated with a degree in Mandarin Chinese. She was determined to be the next best Chinese translator in the world... Then she discovered writing historical romances was as much fun as reading them, and her Chinese capabilities have never been the same. When she isn't writing about sexy, untamed heroes and intelligent, independent heroines in Victorian Britain, Ashley stays busy chasing around her 1-year old daughter, attempting to do housework, and hiking in the beautiful foothills of Colorado."Source

Ashley March on the web: Website | Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Ashley's Latest Release:
'Seducing The Duchess'
Released 10.05.10

"It was just another scandalous night…
Gambling. Carousing. Flirting. Charlotte, Duchess of Rutherford, will do anything to create a scandal large enough to force her husband to finally petition for a divorce. Once madly in love with Philip, she is now determined to escape from their less than civil marriage and the reminders of his betrayal.
Until he stole her away… 
Philip Burgess, Duke of Rutherford, is not a man to tolerate regrets. He wed Charlotte for revenge, not for love or convenience, knowing she would come to hate him. But he never expected he would one day find himself craving her attention or desiring her company….
And gave her something more…
Philip is no longer the cold, deceitful man she married years ago. And when he promises Charlotte a divorce if she will help him become a better husband for another woman, she wonders if she truly wants to lose him—and if Philip may still possess her heart after all…"Source

*Read an Excerpt from 'Seducing The Duchess': here
*Read My Review of 'Seducing The Duchess': here

Get Your Copy Today:

-Q&A Questions-
RJ: Hey Ashley! Thanks so much for stopping by for a little chat. Firstly, congratulations on your debut book, 'Seducing The Duchess',  available for purchase as of October 5th, 2010!  What have the past few months been like; with having the book finished and anticipating it's release? What have you experienced emotionally as well as professionally with the completion of this novel?
AM: Thank you for inviting me, Rita!  I will admit, the whole process has been a bit surreal.  I've received my ARCs, my own author copies, and have even gotten some great reviews for SEDUCING, but it's hard to believe my dream has finally come true.  Hopefully when I see the book on the shelves for the first time it'll become more real.  Regardless, I've been staying very busy with promotion for SEDUCING THE DUCHESS, as well as working on my next book.  And I'm happy to say that I've also been working on getting the launch for the Denver Lady Jane's Salon ready, and I'm very excited about that.  I think the best moment emotionally and professionally, however, will come when my husband finally reads my book and I can take a picture of him reading a romance novel. =)
RJ: Why don't you tell me and the readers a little bit about 'Seducing The Duchess' from the author's point of view?
AM: I don't know why, but I've always liked the idea of challenging myself.  I suppose that's why I chose Mandarin Chinese instead of Spanish for my major in college.  With SEDUCING THE DUCHESS, I wanted to write about a hero who seemed entirely unredeemable--a villain at first, in fact--and show how he could be redeemed by his love for the heroine.  The story starts out three years after their wedding, after Philip revealed he only married her for revenge against her brother.  Since their marriage, Philip has fallen in love with Charlotte, and when his subtle attempts at wooing her fail, he determines to do anything necessary to win her back--even if that means first stealing her away from London and her admirers so he can have her all to himself at his country estate.  This book was a lot of fun to write, not only because I was able to explore Philip's character and redeem him in both the eyes of Charlotte and the reader, but because Charlotte gives as good as she gets.
RJ:Where did the inspirations for your plot, characters and setting come from?
AM: Both Philip and Charlotte were actually secondary characters in a previous manuscript I wrote (which will never see the light of day).  In it, Charlotte was being pursued by the hero (who thought he was in love with her), and Philip coerced the heroine to intervene.  That was also a fun story to write, and even thought I'm not sure it will ever be good enough for publication, I'm grateful for the idea it sparked for Charlotte and Philip.  I love writing about early-to-mid Victorian England because there's still a transition between the mores of the Regency and the Victorian era.  Although the lower and middle classes of Victorian England were becoming more religious and moral in general, the aristocracy was still inclined toward self-indulgence.  Although that contrast isn't directly seen in SEDUCING, there is a similar contrast between Philip (who is very self-controlled) and Charlotte (who loves to provoke him by acting outrageously).  In terms of the characters themselves, I have to give credit to Scarlett and Rhett from Gone with the Wind.  It's one of my favorite books, if only for the romance between them (although I had to read Alexandra Ripley's Scarlett to get my HEA).  Because the character of Charlotte is so different from my own personality, I drew on Scarlett for inspiration--namely, her rebellious attitude and her overt sexuality.  I don't think Philip is actually very much like Rhett, but I did take Rhett's passion for Scarlett as my inspiration for Philip's love for Charlotte.
RJ:What challenges or difficulties did you face with the writing of this novel?
AM: From a personal standpoint, the first answer that comes to mind was being pregnant.  I didn't want to do anything, let alone write!  Luckily, though, I have a couple of fabulous critique partners who saw the potential in the story, and kept encouraging me throughout the entire nine months.  I didn't learn my lesson, though--I'm pregnant again, and this time on a deadline!
RJ:  'Seducing The Duchess' is your debut novel (Congrats!). What were you trying to achieve with this book, and also, do you feel like it's "mission accomplished"?
AM: Thanks again!  Besides showing how an unlikeable hero could be redeemed, I really wanted to make the relationship between Philip and Charlotte believable to the reader.  This meant that nothing for Philip was easy, and Charlotte does have a difficult time in learning to trust him again.  While I feel like I achieved this, I regret that I didn't write an epilogue.  I tried, but nothing ever felt right.  However (you've inspired me!), I think I just might try to write one again and put it on my website in the near future. =)
RJ: Lets talk about your Hero and Heroine (Philip & Charlotte). What are their flaws and what are their redeeming qualities? Also, why are they attracted to one another (aside from physical attraction)?
AM: Ooh, I love this question.  Writing for me is all about the characters.  Let's start with Philip.  He's manipulative, selfish, controlling, arrogant, and ruthless.  However, he also has a sense of humor (which Charlotte brings out), and he's not in denial of his flaws.  Still, he has no motivation to change until he falls in love with Charlotte and realizes that the only way he can have her is if he becomes a different man.  Charlotte is more of a free spirit.  Although she was somewhat rebellious as a child, the situation with Philip pushes her into accepting this part of herself wholeheartedly as she tries to force him to petition for a divorce.  She is exquisitely beautiful, and both understands and uses her power over men (thus, in a way, she can also be manipulative).  But she has a good heart, and overall is kind and down-to-earth.  Philip is attracted to Charlotte because, in a way, she represents the freedom he never had as a child growing up, or as the duke he's now become.  She does whatever she pleases, without regard for the consequences, and he envies her ability to be so carefree.  Charlotte is attracted to Philip because he sees more in her than her beauty.  He's a strong man; even though she tries to tempt him through seduction, he refuses and surprises her by digging deeper for her heart.  He wants to know her, the person she never reveals to anyone else, and although she fears her own vulnerability, she can't help wanting to surrender to him.
RJ: I am a sucker for a good 'winning back the spouse' plot. How did you put your own spin on it in 'Seducing The Duchess'?
AM:  I hope I made it different through my voice, or rather, Philip's voice.  For example, the first line of the book is "She was exquisite, a sin to be indulged in and never repented."  This is from Philip's POV as he watches Charlotte, and I wanted it to convey his passion and craving for her.  I've read a lot of reconciliation stories, but most of the ones I've read feature heroes who fall in love with the heroine over the course of the story, not ones that are already in love at the beginning.  Or, if they are in love, they aren't actively trying to get back together with the heroine.  In that way, I think Philip is very unique.  Another way I tried to make the reconciliation plot device fresh was by using different scenes that I haven't read much in other historicals.  For example, Philip has a tutor come to give Charlotte harp lessons, they go to a village fair, they gamble together (alone, not in a gambling den) much as I could, I tried to make each scene something new and different to the reader.
RJ: How did your writing journey begin and how did you get here?  What pit-stops, wrong turns, and perfect lane changes did you make on your road to publication?
AM:  Honestly, I never thought I would be a writer.  I've always loved words, and reading, but I was much more interested in become a translator.  It was only after my husband decided he didn't want me to go to China for a year during college (and he didn't want to go with me, either!) that I began to think of something else.  I've always felt like I needed more than a typical 9-5 day job, and I wanted the ability to be a SAHM when I had kids.  I began my first manuscript in 2006, just to see what would happen.  It was awful.  Really, nausea-inducing awful.  I pretty much gave up.  (So much for persistence, eh?)  But two years later, a romance novel I was reading--and I don't remember which one it was--was so wonderful that it inspired me to write again.  I finished my second manuscript in June 2008 (the unpublished prequel to SEDUCING mentioned above), got some great input from critique partners, entered contests and figured out what I was doing right and wrong from judges, and went right on with the next manuscript (SEDUCING)  in July 2008.  As mentioned before, I became pregnant, so I took my time in writing it, finished it in September 2009, was very fortunate to find an agent who loved my work, and sold 3 books to NAL Penguin in December 2009.  I'm very, very blessed to have my dream become true, and I realize that every day.  If I could pick out what I did wrong on my writing journey, it was to a) quit and b) not establish a regular writing routine.  The best things I did were to find two amazing critique partners through an online romance critique group (RomCritters), and to submit my work to RWA chapter contests for feedback.
RJ: What do you value in a good romance novel and what sort of characteristics do you like to find in the protagonists?
AM: I am a sucker for characterization and the developing relationship between the hero and heroine.  I don't really care about murders or mysteries or secondary character love stories, but give me a romance novel where I can fall in love right along with the hero and heroine and feel everything they do, where the focus is on their relationship throughout most of the story, and I'm sold.  As far as characteristics in my protagonists, I love reading (and writing about) characters who are very self-aware.  Not necessarily that they analyze and think about themselves all the time, but that they're strong and intelligent and know what they want.  I used to love reading about rakes, but recently I've realized most of them aren't really bad boys at all, but men who haven't quite grown up and don't know where they're going in life.  With that being said, I do have a plan for writing my own historical playboy soon, and we'll see if I can stick to my own creed. =)
RJ: The writing process differs from author to author. Some are planners, and others just jump right in. Some consider themselves night writers, while others need daylight and a park bench or a coffee shop (wink) to set the mood for creativity; whats your writing process and atmosphere like?
AM:  Argh, the writing process!  I groan because I'm in the middle of trying to change the way I write.  Until now, I've been a writing perfectionist--meaning I edit as I write.  I could spend two hours on one page, just trying to find the right word or phrase.  But now that I have deadlines, I have to simply pound the word count out first, then allow myself to go back to edit later.  It's really hard for me, but I'm slowly getting there.  I try to have a general idea of the plot line before I start, i.e. the major conflicts and a few snippets of future scenes, but for the most part, I don't know exactly where the next chapter is going until I finish the current one.  And I like writing like that; otherwise, I think my creativity would suffer.  In terms of the physical process of writing, the best time for me is at night.  Ideally I write from 8:00-12:00 each night, after my daughter has gone to sleep and I've had at least a few minutes to spend time with my husband.  I don't drink coffee (can't stand the taste, no matter how much sugar or whip cream there is), so until noon I'm a zombie.  And I usually get distracted during the afternoon.  But at night, everything's quiet and I can spend a few hours uninterrupted in front of the computer, and that's perfect for me.  Note: I sit in front of a blank wall, and my desk is mostly bare.  This is because I've discovered that I get too easily distracted. =)
RJ: Romances has transcended many different sectors of pop culture. I think the Beatles said it best, "All you need is love". This being a Romance Blog, I've got to ask: what are your favorite picks for the following:  Favorite Love Song? Favorite Scent on a man? Favorite Romantic Comedy? and of course, Favorite Romance Novel?
AM: This is hard!  Hmm.  I honestly don't know if I can choose favorites.  Okay, first ones that come to my mind: Song-When a Man Loves a Woman by Percy Sledge; Scent-Drakkar Noir (the cologne my husband wore when we first met); Romantic Comedy-(definitely have to choose two) the newer version of Sabrina with Julia Ormond and Harrison Ford, and Two Weeks Notice with Sandra Bullock and Hugh Grant; Romance Novel-(with a note that I haven't read many of the typical reader favorites such as Judith McNaught, etc.) Teresa Medeiros' Yours Until Dawn.  It's a book I could read over and over and over.
RJ: What's coming up next for you (book-wise or otherwise)?
AM:  I'm having a baby in November!  =)  Besides that, my next book ROMANCING THE COUNTESS is scheduled to be released in Fall 2011.  (Although I hope to write much faster in the future).  I thought that SEDUCING THE DUCHESS was a difficult book to write, but this one has been even tougher.  Although the titles are similar, the characters are completely unrelated.  The basic plot line for ROMANCING THE COUNTESS is about an earl and his best friend's wife who are brought together after their spouses die in a carriage accident, and they realize the spouses were having an affair.  I say it's difficult to write because, unlike a lot of romance novels, there's not an instant attraction; instead, I have to maintain a delicate balance between their responses to their spouses' betrayal and their blooming awareness of each other.  I'm really looking forward to what readers think about it next year, because it does seem to be very different.
RJ: Do you have anything that you would like to address to the readers?
AM: I just want to say that I know how risky it is to take a chance on a debut author.  I'm usually the type of reader that sticks to a handful of authors who have proven themselves to me over and over again, and will only buy a new author based on tons of recommendations.  So thank you for taking that chance with me and SEDUCING THE DUCHESS.  I would truly love to hear what you think.
RJ: Final Question: Name something shocking or interesting about yourself that the readers may not know.
AM:  =)  I actually asked my husband to tell me something shocking or interesting about myself.  His conclusion?  Nothing.  I'm boring. =)  I'll give you my answer, though, because I think it's interesting coming from a personal and author perspective.  My characters cuss.  Usually only depending on the situation, or if it has to do with their character.  I don't cuss at all.  (Exception: perhaps three or four times a year when I'm really, really angry.)  I'm sure there's something psychological at work there as to why I allow my characters to cuss when I don't, but all I know is that it's a lot of fun to write "bloody hell."  =)
Ashley's Question: "As you can see, I had a really difficult time choosing only one romantic comedy, because I LOVE them.  And I'm always looking for good recommendations for the few hours I can sit and relax away from my daughter and writing.  So please tell me, what is your favorite romantic comedy of all time?  And if you're like me and you can't choose just one, that's okay, too. =)"
RJ: Thanks for a fabulous chat today, Ashley. Your answers were interesting and funny, and I had a ball checking them all out! Also, I really enjoyed reading 'Seducing...'. I am just bursting at the seams to see what everyone else thought! Best of luck!

~*~Giveaway Details~*~
Ashley March has generously offered to giveaway a copy of 'Seducing The Duchess' to (1) one lucky commenter! Follow the guidelines below and comment for your chance to win. The giveaway will end on Thursday, October 14th, 2010 at 11:59:00 PM. The winner will be announced and contacted via email on Friday, October 15th, 2010. (International)

Giveaway Guidelines: To be entered in the giveaway all you have to do is either answer Ashley's Question or leave a comment/question for Ashley. Please include your email address!
For Extra Entries (do one or more of the following for extra shots at winning):
+2 'Like'  Ashley's Facebook Fan Page AND/or leave a nice message on her wall. (provide a link so I can check)
+2 'Like'  The 'Not Another Romance Blog' Blog on Facebook
+3  Leave a comment on My Review of 'Seducing The Duchess'
+4 Spread the word: Tweet on Twitter, Post a Facebook status, or Blog about this interview and giveaway (provide a link where you did it so I can check)
+5 Become a Follower/ Be a Follower
*No Restrictions, Author will ship just about anywhere! =D

(Easy instructions on how-to find and share direct links to a specific facebook or twitter status': here)

***Tell me in your comment which extra entries you are entitled to and include the necessary links so I can check, or they will not count!

To all the readers, be sure to make use of those 'on the web' links above to better acquaint yourself with this fabulous author! This has been great! Good luck to all of the giveaway contestants and I hope all of you have enjoyed this edition of:  


  1. "And One Last Thing..." by Molly Harper was super funny.
    +2 Fan of Ashley's facebook page
    +2 I liked your blog on facebook
    +3 Comment of review
    +4 twitter:

  2. I forgot to include my email address in my comment above.

    romancebookjunkiesdanielle at yahoo dot com

  3. One of my favorite romantic comedies is an oldie from the '70's. It's THE GOODBYE GIRL starring Richard Dreyfus and Marsha Mason.

    +3 commented on review
    +5 follower

    castings at mindspring dot com

  4. I loved THE GOODBYE GIRL, too. Another favorite is CHANCES ARE with Cybill Shepherd, Ryan O'Neil, and Robert Downey Jr. - I love the Cher/Peter Cetera song at the end of the movie.

    And if you want to see another classic from the seventies with Ryan O'Neil, Barbra Streisand, and the wonderful Madeline Kahn, don't miss WHAT'S UP DOC!

  5. Oooh, this looks fantastic! I hadn't heard of it before, thank you for the contest!

    +4 sidebar link here:

    +3 commented on review

    +5 follower

    inthehammockblog at gmail dot com

  6. This book sounds great. I can't wait to read it. I love the plot.

    My all-time favorite romantic comedy is When Harry Met Sally. It's just such a perfect movie, Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan were so cute together, and then there's the all-time classic fake orgasm scene in the deli. If you've never seen this movie, you've got to check it out, just for that scene alone.

    +3 commented on review
    +5 follower

    jen at delux dot com

  7. Hey there Ashley, this books sounds great! It's been on my TBR list since I found out about it a couple months ago. Let me just say that reconciliation stories are some of my favorite. I just love when the hero/heroine already have a back story and the chemistry is there. I can't wait to get my hands on a copy of this.
    As for Romcoms I like Legally Blond and Clueless.
    +2 Like Ashley's FB page
    +2 Like NARB on FB
    +3 Commented on your review
    +5 Already a follower of blog

  8. Hi Ladies!

    Thanks for all the recommendations and comments! There a few on here I haven't seen, and you've also listed some that I need to put on my Christmas wish list. =)

  9. Even though these have already been mentioned I have to put in my vote. :-) I love "The Goodbye Girl" and "Chances Are" and most recently "The Proposal". I look forward to adding you to my list of "must read" authors. Good luck, Ashley, and much success!


    Extra entries: "like" NARB on FB; "like" Ashley on FB; GFC follower.

  10. I have never read Judith McNaught either so don't feel bad. Teresa Medeiros is my favorite author and I loved YOURS UNTILL DAWN my favs by her are ONCE AN ANGEL AND HEATHER AND VELVET! One of my favorite romantic comedies is "Bridget Jones Diary." I love Colin Firth, he is so cute in it! Congrats on your new book I'm looking forward to reading it. Sounds terrific!!! Thanks for sharing with us today!

    +2 like Ashley March on FB
    +2 like Not Another Romance Blog on FB
    +3 left comment on reveiw
    +5 Im a follower

  11. I actually can't think of any romance comedy I really like since I have so many!

    kalynnick AT yahoo DOT com

  12. Ashley how long did it take to write this book? 'Seducing The Duchess' sound wonderful.Please enter me in the giveaway. augustlily06(AT)aim(DOT)com.Thank you.
    +5 a follower of this blog

  13. My favorite is 50 First Dates. Love that movie!!
    epblack at zoominternet dot net

  14. GFC follower!
    epblack at zoominternet dot net
    entry #1

  15. GFC follower!
    epblack at zoominternet dot net
    entry #2

  16. GFC follower!
    epblack at zoominternet dot net
    entry #3

  17. GFC follower!
    epblack at zoominternet dot net
    entry #4

  18. GFC follower!
    epblack at zoominternet dot net
    entry #5

  19. My favorite romantic comedy movie is The Holiday with Kate Winslet, Cameron Diaz, Jude Law and Jack Black!

    +2 like Ashley March on FB
    +2 like Not Another Romance Blog on FB
    +3 left comment on your review
    +5 Google follower




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