Hello everyone, and welcome to Tuesday's installment of The Naughty Christmas Blog Party! If this is your first time visiting, please check out the official rules page, where you'll also find a handy dandy link list to the most current giveaway posts.
Okay, now that we've got that out of the way, it's time to meet our special guest! Morgan Ashbury has a great post for us today where she shares some of her favorite Christmas stories and movies, as well as a behind-the-scenes look at her Lusty, Texas series. She's also giving away a $10 Bookstrand gift certificate to 2 lucky commenters!!
So without further ado, please welcome Morgan!
When I was a child, I used to really look forward to hearing, and watching, Christmas stories. The first one I ever heard, of course, was the original Christmas story. I remember my daddy reading to me from the bible fairly often, but the Christmas story stands out in my memory, especially. He passed when I was only eight years old, just two days after New Year’s Day, and no one ever read to me after that. As I got older, of course, there were the seasonal cartoon and movie favorites on television. Rudolph was an animated television event that debuted for the first time when I was still young enough to enjoy it.
Of course there’re the other favorites which I always watched with my family both when I was growing up and later, as I was a young mother raising my own brood: It’s A Wonderful Life, Miracle on 34th Street, White Christmas with Bing Crosby, and of course, A Christmas Carol starring Alistair Sim.
These remain among my favorites and they all really tell the same story, don’t they? Oh, I don’t mean the story of the birth of the Christ Child so long ago in Bethlehem per se; but they speak of the spirit of that first gift. They’re all uplifting tales about being the best we can be, and about what’s truly at the heart of the season: love and family, hope and joy and redemption.
I don’t think I ever, in all those early years, believed I would someday be in the position to write a Christmas story of my own.
This year, for the first time since my debut novel was published in 2007, and after 29 stories contracted, I have done just that.
I’ve enjoyed such tremendous success with my Lusty, Texas series, written under my other pen name, Cara Covington! I can’t tell you how delighted I am that so many people write to me to tell me they love my series. Many of those who write tell me they love all of the characters, but two in particular have found a place in their hearts.
The first was Ginny Rose, a secondary character I introduced in the very first contemporary book in the series, Love Under Two Benedicts. Ginny was the single mom of adorable 5 year old Benny Rose, a woman with a good heart who ended up trapped in a relationship with an abusive man. Ginny abandoned her son at the restaurant my heroine owned, because she feared for his life. She managed to escape her abuser, returned to claim her son, and was taken in by the town of Lusty—whose communal heart is as big as all of Texas.
She was also, much to my surprise and pleasure, taken into the hearts of my readers. Many of them wrote to me, telling me they wanted her to have her very own “happy ever after”. Ginny appeared in each story, and the readers got to watch her grow and change and finally get her happy ending. This she received in book seven, Love Under Two Kendalls.
Ginny will continue to be an integral part of the Lusty community, because she’s won forever the devotion of the readers—not to mention the heart of her author.
The second character my readers love, probably as much as they love Ginny, is Grandma Kate. Although she was mentioned in the first two books, Kate didn’t make her appearance in Lusty (she’d been on a cruise or two) until the third book, Love Under Two Honchos.
Kate soon became a kind of unifying figure, a woman in her nineties who showed no signs of slowing down anytime soon. We didn’t really know much about how Kate came to be the head of the combined families, but we did know that she’d come to town during the Second World War.
I had the idea, that I could write a Christmas Story for my readers—A Very Lusty Christmas—where Kate Benedict tells all her new “granddaughters” the story of her love affair with two very Lusty pursuit pilots, named Benedict, in the uncertain days of the nineteen-forties.
When I announced this story was going to be released on December 21st, I received so many e-mails and comments from my readers, all of them very excited to read this novel.
For me, this was a challenging story to write. I know Grandma Kate as the nonagenarian matriarch of the combined families of Lusty, but who was she at the age of 21?
Kate came of age in the most perilous of times. She’d trained to be a nurse—much to the chagrin of her mother, who wanted her to simply make a good marriage and have children. Then, after Pearl Harbor, Kate knew she had to go where she could do the most good. So she joined the Army Nurse Corps, and was assigned, for a time, to (as it was known then) Walter Reed General Hospital in Bethesda, Maryland.
Kate couldn’t help but notice the deliciously handsome majors who suddenly appeared in her world in August of 1942. She made inquiries—discretely, of course—and discovered the pair were brothers, from a “well heeled” Texas family. Pilots both, they were in Washington attending meetings, but rumored to be soon shipping out.
My heroes—Gerald and Patrick Benedict—had gone to England before America entered the war, in response to the S.O.S. for pilots put out by the British government. They became part of the famed Eagle Squadron. Of course, when America entered the war, they came home—to the rank of major in the United States Army Air Corps, and the assignment to train other men to be pilots.
Luckily for all of us, they were assigned to Goodfellow Air Field, outside of San Angelo, Texas—not all that far from their family home in Lusty.
All of the historical aspects of the story have been researched, and my main go-to history guy—Mr. Ashbury—has verified all of my facts. I’m careful all the time, but never more so when writing an historical romance.
One plus for me, as and author, as well as for my readers—especially if the readers have read the first two books I wrote as Cara Covington—was the chance to visit with my original heroines in this series. Sarah Carmichael Benedict and Amanda Dupree Jessop-Kendall are matriarchs in their own right in this story. Widowed now, and in their eighties, they provide a clue as to how our Kate came to be a bit of a matchmaker in her later years.
I hope the themes I touch on in this story give the reader a sense of family, and love—as those are the most precious of commodities at any time, but at Christmas time, in particular.
May y’all have a blessed—and love-filled Christmas, and may your New Year be filled with hope and wonder!
Ontario, Canada December 2012