Book Giveaway & Author Interview: Miss Delacourt by Heidi Ashworth

Welcome to Author Heidi Ashworth.

7 years old–Heidi writes her first story. Its’s a hit (with Mom).
10 years old–since her sisters are big Georgette Heyer/Jane Austen fans, she writes a first “regency romance”. Even though she dedicated it to her eldest sister who longed to visit England, she didn’t let anyone read it (probably a good idea).
14 years old–she publishes a short story in the kids section of the San Jose Mercury News. She begins experimenting with pen names but in the end decides to stick with her own.
Age 25-29–she writes a number of regency romance novels, (one of which later becomes Miss Delacourt Speaks Her Mind)
Age 30–decides to devote her time to her favorite roles of wife and mother, dabbles in the antiques and collectibles market and plants a flower garden.
Age Withheld–at the encourgement of a true blue friend, she submits Miss Delacourt Speaks Her Mind to Avalon Books and sells it!
Shortly Thereafter–she starts a blog and a website and has a really big party!

Please tell us in one sentence only, why we should read your book. 
People who enjoy light,fun, clean romance will be glad they read my books.

Any other books in the works? Goals for future projects?
I am currently writing a book about the children of the main characters from the first two books–it’s 22 years later so I am researching the Victorian time period rather than the Regency. Since it’s my favorite time period, it’s been a lot of fun.

What inspired you to want to become a writer? 
I absolutely adore books and I wanted to create for others what my favorite authors created for me. However, I think it had the most to do with my mother’s encouragement and reinforcement. Being one of seven daughters as well as an identical twin I am fairly sure I was seduced by the opportunity to stand out. (I do but not always in the best ways–I am the only published author in the family, however. Yay me!)

Tell us your most rewarding experience since being published. 
Interacting with the people who have read my books and who follow my blog has been the most rewarding thing about being published and a totally unexpected treat. FUN FUN FUN! They are some of my favorite people on earth.

What’s one piece of advice you would give aspiring authors? 
I know this is said and heard a lot but it is so true–read read read, write write write. The crafting of books is one that is learned through exposure and doing it just like everything else. Unlike other things, you don’t have to have a teacher–it can be entirely self taught!

What is your favorite Quote? 
I always have a hard time with “favorite” questions b/c it is so difficult to choose just one. However, the following tickles me so much that I share it every chance I get. “There is no chocolate in the house? But, my dear, however shall you manage?” The Marquise de Sevigne to her daughter circa 1600(ish)

When you were little, what did you wa ant to be when you “grew up”? 
By the age of one, it was clear to everyone who knew me that I wanted to be a mom. Shortly thereafter, I was fairly determined to be a ballerina and a few years after that I had my heart set on being a writer. The ballerina thing is one of the few goals I have given up on though I did take lesson for many years. (I was talented but not that talented.) (Also, I realized that being a ballerina meant not being a mother, a writer, or pretty much anything else but poor, tired and hungry all the time.)

Can you see yourself in any of your characters? 
Totally. I write character driven stories (rather than plot driven) so I must know my characters through and through. Giving each of them a part of my own persona helps me to accurately guess what they’ll do next. Still, what happens is often as much of a revelantion to me as it is to the reader. I adore it when my characters surprise me!

What do you do in your free time? 
Free time? (Is there any to be had?) I have three children, one of whom is multiply disabled so he is a lot of work. I blog, not as much as I used to, but when I do I tend to see that as a means of promoting my writing and books so it’s not a free time acitivity. Writing of novels, now that I am published, is work (fun work but still work) so that doesn’t qualify either. I garden but that is more about staying mentally healthy than having a hobby (it’s great for lowering blood pressure, too!). As of April 2011 I am the owner of a vintage decor store, Dunhaven Place (also the name of my personal blog and my store blog–sorry for the confusion!) so I spend a lot of time there and working on pieces for sale at home. I have read 2.5 books this calendar year which is about twice as many as last year. For a gal who used to consume over a hundred books a year, it’s a sad commentary on my lack of free time. However, I love what I do so I am very blessed.

How did you celebrate the sale of your first book? 
I was so incredibly sick the day I got “the call” from my editor that I could hardly think straight. I do remember that I sent flowers to my main cheerleader/supporter/mentor. I think my family and I went out to dinner a week or so later (it was a long-lived virus). After it came out and I had a book signing at my local bookstore (alas, now closed like so many book stores) I had a big party afterwards for which I made (among other things) almond flavored heart shaped cookies into which I accidently dropped a huge amount of almond flavoring. They were the hit of the party. (Hey, wasn’t that how Tollhouse Chocolate Chippers came into being?)

What TV show/movie/book do you watch/read that you’d be embarrassed to admit? 
TV show: Buffy. Dear me, I love that show. It’s like a metaphor for my life. Book(s)–too embarrassed to say. (I am probably making it sound worse than it is.) (But I’m still not saying.)

Favorite places to travel?
England. I was only there for one week but I must go back. I’m sure, should I ever get a chance to visit them, I would have to include Ireland, Scotland and Wales. However, La Jolla, near San Diego, is pretty much to die for and it’s a place I have been lucky enough to visit many times. Ditto the Santa Cruz area.

Miss Delacourt Speaks Her Mind

When the dowager duchess of Marcross insists he accompany her niece, Ginny, into the country for the day to execute a special task, Sir Anthony is appalled, to say the least. Ginny, who thinks little of the fashionable Sir Anthony, is as eager to be done with the chore as he, but before they arrive at their destination they are stranded by highwaymen and launched into adventure.
Forced into each other’s company, Ginny begins to sense the passionate nature beneath Sir Anthony’s mask of ennui, while his exasperation with the forthright Ginny turns into admiration of her wit and charm. Then beautiful Lucinda Barrington and Lord Avery, a poet, come onto the scene, sparking Ginny’s imagination and revealing a way to unmask the true man behind Sir Anthony’s frivolous facade. Meanwhile, the dowager duchess has plans of her own for this pair, and her special task turns into a battle of words, wills, and wit.

Miss Delacourt Has Her Day

Ginny Delacourt felt the course of true love could not have run smoother. After all, it required only a fortnight, a pair of highwaymen, a pox quarantine, a sham betrothal, and a masquerade ball to bring Sir Anthony up to snuff. When her beloved suddenly becomes the heir to his uncle, the Duke of Marcross, protocol dictates that he drop the “Sir” from his name. It’s his uncle who insists Ginny, daughter of a lowly vicar, is not the proper bride for a future duke.
Lucinda and Lord Avery arrive on the scene to stir up trouble, and Ginny’s normally manipulative Grandaunt Regina seems helpless to arrange anything, least of all a frowned-upon wedding. It’s up to Anthony, with help from his fussy valet, to see to it that Ginny has her day.
The road to true love just got a little bumpier.

Giveaway Details:
1 winner will receive a copy of both Miss Delacourt Speaks Her Mind and Miss Delacourt Has Her Day
Open to US & Canada only
Ends 11/29/11