Friday, November 24, 2017

The Aspen Grove Anthologies

When the cold weather arrives, I often think of sitting, covered in a warm quilt, reading a book. My favorites are romance anthologies. I got the idea for our Aspen Grove Romance Anthologies on just such a cold night.

I wrote the prologue for the first book and sent it to an author friend, Sherry Derr-Wille. I knew her work, and I felt it would be perfect for the project. She immediately agreed. I asked a mutual friend and another author friend, Christie Shary, to join us. Snowflake Secrets was born.

Unfortunately, our mutual friend became very ill and was unable to continue with the project, so I asked another of my author friends. She agreed, but a week or so later, decided she wouldn’t have the time. Another friend, Luanna Rugh, overheard our discussion and asked me about the project. By the time we finished our conversation, she had already written the first chapter in her head.

One of Sherry’s publishers, Oak Tree Press (now owned by Start Publishing), loved romance anthologies. We had a contract for this book even before we finished it.

We decided to create a fictional town, Aspen Grove, Colorado, as our setting. I had lived in Colorado for a year, Christie’s brother lived there, Luanna had driven through the state several times, and Sherry lived in Wisconsin, so she knew all about seasonal weather. I chose Idaho Springs and Georgetown as the inspirations, but Aspen Grove is wholly fictional.

We had so much fun with Snowflake Secrets, we all decided to do a second. For this one, each of us took a different season and wrote a novella—all of them set in Aspen Grove. In our first book, each of the novellas was written in the first-person voice of the character. For this one, Seasons of Love, we wrote in third-person. (It is the only one of the anthologies written in third-person.) My novella in this one, “Winter’s Song,” is based on a real couple, Dan and Amy. I even play a role in the story. Can you guess who I am?

We liked writing together, and our publisher asked for another. For this one, we each chose a compass direction. I set mine, “Finding Love in Paradise,” in Hawaii and Japan, both places I know well. This book, Directions of Love, won the 2012 EPIC eBook Award for best romance anthology.

I had already written about Christmas, but I felt we needed an anthology dedicated to the season. For this book, An Aspen Grove Christmas, we added Cheryl Gardarian. This was her debut as a published author. This book is Luanna’s husband’s favorite, and Larry has read it many times because he enjoys it, too.

Christie decided not to join us for the next anthology, The Art of Love, so we were back to four authors. We each took an art form, and crafted a story around it. The inspiration for my story was the last name of a friend from work: Amalfatano. It sounded as though it could have been the name of a winery. This novella, “A Shot at Love,” is set in Aspen Grove and the wine country of California and features a photographer.

Number six in the series, and probably the last, came about one day when Luanna and I were talking about the old rhyme: Something old, Something new, Something borrowed, and Something blue. I mentioned that you don’t often hear the last line: …And a Silver Sixpence in Her Shoe. We called Sherry and Cheryl. Each of us had one stanza we liked best. I took “Something Old,” inspired by my mother’s wedding dress. When the cover artist couldn’t find a photo of exactly the right dress, I sent her a picture of my mother in hers. It is now on the cover of the book.

So, if you are looking for a sweet romance to warm a cold, winter night, or you know someone who enjoys romances, please consider one of these as a gift.

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