UPDATE: Winners for the give-away are announced in the comments.  Please contact me with your address (if you would like the mass-market paperback) or your Kindle email address if you prefer the Kindle edition.  Email is BrennaAubrey at gmail dot com

In honor of my special guest, Tessa Dare, I will be hosting my first giveaway on this blog!!  I have 2 copies of A Night To Surrender, either paperback or Kindle version, available to give away.  Post a comment on this blog by midnight PST on Tuesday, September 6 and you will be eligible.  In the meantime, sit back and enjoy some of Ms. Dare’s famous wit:

Tessa Dare is the award-winning author of seven historical romance novels and one novella. She has twice been awarded the RT Book Reviews Reviewer’s Choice Award, and has twice been a finalist for Romance Writers of America’s prestigious RITA® award. Recently, Booklist magazine named her one of the “new stars of historical romance.”

Mixing wit, sensuality, and emotion, Tessa strives to write Regency-set romance novels that feel relatable to modern readers. With her new “Spindle Cove” series, she’s had great fun creating a fictional seaside community populated by women who defy the conventions of their time—engaging in such unladylike pursuits as medicine, geology, and artillery. And she’s had even more fun dreaming up the strong-willed, unsuspecting men who’ll find their hearts ensnared by these “spinster” heroines.

Tessa makes her home inSouthern California, where she shares a cozy, cluttered bungalow with her husband, their two children, and a big brown dog.

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Welcome to Spindle Cove, where ladies with delicate constitutions come for the sea air, and men in their prime are…nowhere to be found.

Or are they?

Spindle Cove is the destination of choice for certain types of well-bred young ladies: the painfully shy, young wives disenchanted with matrimony, and young girls too enchanted with the wrong men. It is a haven for those who live there.

Victor Bramwell, the new Earl of Rycliff, knows he doesn’t belong here. So far as he can tell, there’s nothing in this place but spinsters…and sheep. But he has no choice, he has orders to gather a militia. It’s a simple mission, made complicated by the spirited, exquisite Susanna Finch–a woman who is determined to save her personal utopia from the invasion of Bram’s makeshift army.

Susanna has no use for aggravating men; Bram has sworn off interfering women. The scene is set for an epic battle…but who can be named the winner when both have so much to lose?

A Night to Surrender will be available August 30, 2011 (Avon Books).

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Your new trilogy centers around an invented setting.  What gave you the idea for Spindle Cove and how did you develop that idea into a viable setting?

Like so many of my writing ideas, the seed came from Jane Austen.  I was thinking about the way the Bennet sisters and all Meryton were worked into a fervor by the encampment of the militia nearby.  Then I had the thought, “What if a hero were charged with raising a militia in a town where there were virtually no men?”  I saw a lot of possibility there, and that’s where the idea for Spindle Cove originated.  From there, it was a matter of researching and selecting an approximate location, and envisioning just why and how this village would come to be dominated by clever young women.

Is there a real place or places on which you based Spindle Cove?  What elements did you borrow from the real world to develop this place?

Last August I went toEngland, to research the real locations that would inspire the Spindle Cove setting.  I spent about a week exploring theSussexcoast and downlands, and when I came back and started to build the village in my mind, I took all my favorite bits and pieces–church, tea shop, houses, castle–and squashed them into one fictional place.

Many writers state the importance of making setting a character in your novel.  Since setting is so important in SURRENDER, how did you go about make it a supporting character?

 My goal was to create a place that readers would want to re-visit, so I tried to make it an appealing little village.  But like any small town, it has plenty of quirks.  The primary plot of the book is a battle of the sexes between Bram, the hero working to raise a militia, and Susanna, the leader of this progressive, ladies-only enclave.  So I let some parts of the village become “bones” that they could tug at from both sides.   For example, there’s no tavern in Spindle Cove.  There used to be one, but now it’s become a ladies’ tea shop called The Blushing Pansy.  Bram and his men find this utterly unacceptable, so they stage a tavern takeover one night and rename the place The Rutting Bull.  By the end of the book, the men and women in town are working together – and the tea shop/tavern is renamed The Bull and Blossom as a compromise.  That’s just one example of letting the setting tell part of the story.

What are your methods for novel planning?  Do you draw maps, complete character charts or any of those “planning” activities?

Not…really.  Usually, the more of that I try to do, the more confused I get!  But I do get a notebook and just ramble in it freeform, jotting down everything that occurs to me. Character background, scraps of dialogue, setting, and so forth.  I find I’m very linear, when it comes to writing.  I don’t have anything against charts and diagrams, but they just don’t click for me.

What is your one “go to” writing tool that gets you over a block or dead end while you are writing? 

I go out to coffee with a good friend (*cough*The Interviewer*cough*) and talk it through!  Or sometimes, I get on video chat with one or two of my long-distance critique partners.

Your books are always very well researched.  Sometimes beginning authors find it hard to leave the research phase and begin writing.  In your opinion, what is the point between not enough research and too much research?  Do you research before you even write or as you go along?

Why, thank you.  Among historicals, I don’t think my books are exactly known for their richly faceted historical detail, but I do actually do a lot of research.   I’m a librarian, so I enjoy it.  I don’t know that I can pinpoint an ideal medium between “not enough” and “too much” — I think each writer has to find that for herself.  Sometimes the story drives the research, and sometimes the research drives the story. I will say this: The hardest thing about research is resisting the urge to use all of it.

Another thing you have become known for is your amusing book trailers using your children’s toys.  How did that idea develop?

Well, that was one of those “work with what you’ve got” things.  In 2010, I wanted to do a book video, but didn’t want to spend a lot of money on it.  And I wanted it to be fun to make and fun to watch.  I can’t remember exactly where the idea to use the toys came from, but when the idea came to me, I couldn’t stop giggling.  That seemed like a good sign. So I made the thing, and I figured, if no one watched it it wouldn’t be a big loss of time and investment.  But it actually ended up doing really well.  For a while, I think I was getting more fan mail about the video than the books!   This year, I offered up a video for a charity auction – Maya Banks bid a lot of money to win it, and I had so much fun making her video.

Last one: What one piece of advice do you give a beginning romance author?

When beginning writers email me and ask for advice, I always encourage them to join RWA and find a local chapter.  Supportive friends I’ve made through OCC were just invaluable to me as I wrote A Night to Surrender, in particular, and I’ve learned so much through RWA as a whole.

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