Tag Archive | Dashing Through the Snow

Cover Reveal: Holly and Hopeful Hearts by the Bluestocking Belles


About Holly and Hopeful Hearts

When the Duchess of Haverford sends out invitations to a Yuletide house party and a New Year’s Eve ball at her country estate, Hollystone Hall, those who respond know that Her Grace intends to raise money for her favorite cause and promote whatever marriages she can. Eight assorted heroes and heroines set out with their pocketbooks firmly clutched and hearts in protective custody. Or are they?

A Suitable Husband, by Jude Knight

As the Duchess of Haverford’s companion, Cedrica Grenford is not treated as a poor relation and is encouraged to mingle with Her Grace’s guests. Surely she can find a suitable husband amongst the gentlemen gathered for the duchess’s house party. Above stairs or possibly below.

Valuing Vanessa, by Susana Ellis

Facing a dim future as a spinster under her mother’s thumb, Vanessa Sedgely makes a practical decision to attach an amiable gentleman who will not try to rule her life.

A Kiss for Charity, by Sherry Ewing

Young widow Grace, Lady de Courtenay, has no idea how a close encounter with a rake at a masquerade ball would make her yearn for love again. Can she learn to forgive Lord Nicholas Lacey and set aside their differences to let love into her heart?


Artemis, by Jessica Cale

Actress Charlotte Halfpenny is in trouble. Pregnant, abandoned by her lover, and out of a job, Charlotte faces eviction two weeks before Christmas. When the reclusive Earl of Somerton makes her an outrageous offer, she has no choice but to accept. Could he be the man of her dreams, or is the nightmare just beginning?


The Bluestocking and the Barbarian, by Jude Knight

James must marry to please his grandfather, the duke, and to win social acceptance for himself and his father’s other foreign-born children. But only Lady Sophia Belvoir makes his heart sing, and to win her he must invite himself to spend Christmas at the home of his father’s greatest enemy.


Christmas Kisses, by Nicole Zoltack

Louisa Wycliff, Dowager Countess of Exeter wants only for her darling daughter, Anna, to find a man she can love and marry. Appallingly, Anna has her sights on a scoundrel of a duke who chases after every skirt he sees. Anna truly thinks the dashing duke cares for her, but her mother has her doubts.


An Open Heart, by Caroline Warfield

Esther Baumann longs for a loving husband who will help her create a home where they will teach their children to value the traditions of their people, but she wants a man who is also open to new ideas and happy to make friends outside their narrow circle. Is it so unreasonable to ask for toe curling passion as well?


Dashing Through the Snow, by Amy Rose Bennett

Headstrong bluestocking, Miss Kate Woodville, never thought her Christmas would be spent racing across England with a viscount hell-bent on vengeance. She certainly never expected to find love…


Coming November 8.

Eight original stories, 578 pages of diverse characters,  complex relationships, and happily-ever-afters for $2.99.

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Excerpt from Valuing Vanessa

“Are you certain it is not an imposition, Miss Sedgely? Because I shouldn’t mind showing the ladies around myself, in Mrs. Seavers’s absence.”

Vanessa’s chin rose as she directed a firm gaze at the institution’s housekeeper. “I assure you there is no imposition whatsoever, Mrs. Barnes. I shall be pleased to guide the ladies on their tour this morning, as Matron directed.”

Mrs. Barnes flushed. Obviously she considered the task her own prerogative, but Vanessa had not taken the trouble to get the hospital matron out of town just to be foiled by the housekeeper.

“But what about your class, Miss Sedgely? The children do so look forward to them! Why, they will be exceedingly disappointed to miss them today.” She leaned in closer, her eyes gleaming. “I hear that little Willie had prepared a special passage to read for you. He is quite partial to you, you know.”

Vanessa refused to allow herself to be diverted, in spite of the tiny twinge of guilt she felt deep inside. “My maid has agreed to take my classes for today. She has assisted me previously, you know, and thus is well-known to the children.”

She gave a curt nod to the housekeeper, who took it as the dismissal it was meant to be, and walked out of the room.

The Board of Governors were conducting a meeting in a quarter hour’s time, and Vanessa had taken great pains to find a reason to be lingering in the foyer as the gentlemen arrived. It was Mr. George Durand she wished to encounter, of course. During the week since the masquerade at Vauxhall, she had unearthed a great deal of information about the attractive gentleman.

George William Durand was the grandson of a viscount, his late father being the younger son, who had made law his profession. Durand’s cousin William had become the 4th Viscount Faringdon five years ago following his father’s death, and he had four healthy sons to follow him, which meant the title was unlikely to fall to George. George had followed his father into the law profession, although interestingly, he had briefly studied landscape gardening with one of Capability Brown’s former associates. That ended after his marriage, however, when young George set himself to becoming a successful solicitor like his father. His wife, Geneviève d’Aumale, was a French émigrée, the daughter of a comte who had lost his head on the Place de la Concorde at the hands of revolutionaries. She, her sister Juliette, and their mother the comtesse had lost their lives in a carriage accident which had arisen from an attack of highwaymen.

So dreadful. Life was so ephemeral. In a matter of minutes, three ladies’ lives had been snuffed out in such a horrific manner, leaving their husbands to bear the loss as best they could. And their adolescent daughters, of course. Both Durand and Lord Nicholas had daughters, approximately the same age. And perhaps not surprisingly, both had been residing with relatives since the tragedy. Men were notoriously helpless when it came to their maturing daughters. But in retrospect, Vanessa thought it rather pitiable that the girls had effectively lost both parents in that one disastrous moment.

One thing was certain, however. A well-off gentleman with a near-grown daughter was clearly in need of a wife. And Vanessa thought she might suit this one very well indeed.

Diane Farr: Adventures in Audiobookland

I write (mostly) romantic tales set in Regency England. But even if you know my books, you might not know that my first artistic career wasn’t on a page, but on the stage! Years of training, a degree in Drama, a move to Hollywood, an actual union card…so yeah, seriously, I was an actress. And more to the point, in addition to my stage work, I did voiceovers. I had something called “instant talent”—a knack for picking up a script and reading it “cold,” switching regional accents on command, that sort of thing.

You’ll notice I am using the past tense. I’ve been out of the business for a long time now, writing. But I’ve often thought it would be fun to record my books. And when Amazon acquired Audible, and then launched the Audiobook Creation Exchange (ACX)—bringing their expertise in self-publishing to the production of audiobooks—I knew it was just a matter of time before I jumped on the bandwagon.

I jumped in 2013.

And discovered that producing one’s own audiobook is just a tad different from walking into a studio, grabbing a script, putting on a pair of headphones and following someone else’s direction. I’d always thought that voiceover work was the easiest gig in show business. I now learned that what made it so easy was all the heavy lifting being done by the people surrounding the actor! In the brave new world of indie publishing, I had to do all the hard stuff in addition to the easy stuff.

And the easy stuff wasn’t that easy, either. I began with a novella—a lightweight bit of romantic fluff called Dashing Through the Snow—because, duh, it was the shortest piece I had. I thought of it as a sort of warm-up exercise. But I soon realized that a sustained reading of 20,000 words is a bit more difficult than voicing a 30-second commercial.

I swallowed. I breathed. I muffed my words from time to time. My voice cracked. Once I accidentally bonked the microphone with my tea cup. A couple of times I had to stop to clear my throat. All this vocal crapola had to be carefully edited out, and I didn’t have an editor. Or a recording engineer. Or a director. Or a sound technician. I had to wear all the hats. It’s tough to read out loud for hours on end while wearing multiple hats.

Oh, and did I mention that I don’t happen to own a recording studio? I have two cats, a husband and a washing machine, all reliably making noise at varying levels. The farthest point from the action in my house is the master bathroom. I closed the bedroom door and the bathroom door, huddled on a stool, and read into my newly-acquired Porta-Booth—which was balanced on a second stool, facing me.

With all this going on, I wasn’t able to tackle the gigantic problem rearing its hoary head—the one that had kept me from trying this during all the time I had wished I could. I am (a) female and (b) American. Many of my most important characters are (a) male and (b) English.

The marketing geniuses at ACX assured me that their audience wanted to hear books read by the author, no matter what. In their view, the fact that the narrator had also written the book outweighed any trifling consideration of accent or gender. So I forged ahead, perched in my bathroom with hot tea at my elbow and a microphone seated in a foam box before my face.

And then spent many an evening going over the recording with a fine-toothed comb, editing out the pops and gaps and odd noises, watching (and then applying) “how-to” videos on audio compression, and equalization, and blah-blah-blah. I got pretty good at blah-blah-blah.

dashingWould I recommend the experience to other authors? Yes and no. Yes, if you are technologically savvy or don’t mind becoming technologically savvy. And if you like to read out loud. And if other people enjoy hearing you read out loud. And if you’re a total cheapskate who would rather do all the work yourself than pay someone else to do it for you.

If you answer “no”—or even “I’m not sure”—to any of those questions, my recommendation would be to visit ACX and offer your books to the hungry voiceover actors who may audition for you. There are actors who are willing to read your book for a share of your royalties. There are even producers who are willing to produce said actor’s work for a share of your royalties.

Dashing through the Snow went on sale through Audible, Amazon and iTunes on November 1, 3013 and I received my first royalty check yesterday—with no share deducted for anyone other than myself. So for me, was it worth the hours spent cursing under my breath and hating the sound of my own voice? I would have to say yes!



About the Author

diane_headshotDiane Farr was first published at the age of eight when the Bakersfield Californian printed one of her poems. She has spent most of her life with her nose in a book — sometimes reading, sometimes writing. Eventually she produced eight historical romances and a novella, all published by Signet Books, a division of Penguin Putnam. Her latest adventure is a teen paranormal series: The Spellspinners. All her books are now available as e-books as well as in print.