Posted in event, News

My First Presentation

I’m giving my first presentation at the Pamlico Writers’ Conference April 6th. I’m excited and nervous.

I have been a part of the conference steering committee for five years. Last year was my first as chairperson.

I have grown up with the Pamlico Writers’ Group. I started attending meetings nearly twenty years ago. Ten years ago I became serious about getting published. Five years ago I managed to obtain an agent, only to lose her three years ago. Two years ago I faced my fears and self-published. This year I became a part of an international anthology and I will be publishing my third book.

Some dreams take time and sweat-equity. If I can do it, y’all can to.

Join me for the Seventh Annual Pamlico Writers’ Conference April 5th and 6th. Go to for more information.

Posted in Creekside Cafe, event, interview, promo

A Visit with USA Today Best Selling Author, Katharine Ashe

Today I am a bit star-struck to introduce a dear lady and fantastic author, USA Today bestselling author, Katharine Ashe. Katharine it’s great to have you at my virtual café. Would you like a drink before we get started?

Katharine: . Coffee with hot milk, if you please.  Or tea.  I enjoy both!  Though I don’t suppose you’ve any Scotch?  It became a favorite of mine due to what we can agree to call “book research.”

Sherri: Yes, I’ve done a little of that research as well, though I’m a bourbon gal myself.

I’m sure you know, I’m a huge fan. I enjoy reading your books. I especially enjoy your history notes at the end. I’m a history buff but you’re a true historian. From reading your newsletters I know you’ve taken fencing lessons and traveled for your research. You also teach history.

Katharine: Yes,I also adore history — all sorts, all places, all peoples.  So there’s lots of very cool history in my novels.  Take for instance my latest novel about a woman who pretends to be a man so that she can study medicine, and a foreign man finding a new home in the British Isles, both based on historical people.  Or my novel about a popular pamphleteer (think today’s bloggers) who writes under a pseudonym to call for social change.  Or any of the other fascinating characters or situations I’ve plucked out of history and woven stories around …

Sherri: Your latest novel, “The Prince” that you mentioned is the reason I suggested our theme, “Why We Write…Giving Voice to the Voiceless.” Your characters dealt with prejudice, disabilities, social mores they didn’t agree with, and their own insecurities; your writing mirrors todays problems with a truth that is both historical and relevant. Did I tell you, I’m a fan? Katharine will be the keynote speaker for our upcoming conference. What do you hope attendees will come away with from your talk?

Katharine: Writing can be a joy.  But publishing can destroy the soul.  When I speak to writers — especially young or aspiring authors — I try to share useful, practical information that I wish someone had taught me.  Mostly, though, I try to remind us all that when we write from our truest selves, without fear, we write at our best, and we touch the humanity in others.

Sherri: I try to write from the heart, but I have to admit, baring my soul and letting people see what’s inside is terrifying. I’m not naturally brave. How did you come by your strength and character?

Katharine: I’m the fifth child in a big Catholic family, as a kid growing up in Pennsylvania, I wore hand-me-downs, rode cast-off bikes, and babysat my little sister for free.  Yet I knew abundance well.  My parents, who had traveled the world, welcomed into our home strangers from near and far who became family too, as well as all of my and my siblings’ friends.  Of love and food and imaginative play there was always plenty.  And books positively overflowed.  It was a gloriously full house in so many ways.

Sherri: So you were not born and raised in North Carolina, but you seem very at home here.

Katharine: The south called to me.  At age seventeen I left the snowy north for the sultry climes of Carolina, and four years later graduated from Duke University in ’89 with a degree in History. 

As soon as I departed Durham, I longed to return.  After a few years in the working world, then more in graduate school, in both the US and Europe, I made it back here in 2007 as a part-time professor of history and popular culture at Duke, and a full-time novelist.

Sherri: As a fan, I’m familiar with your work but for those who may not have read your novels, tell them what you write.

Katharine: In the last decade I’ve published sixteen novels and eight novellas, all genre romances and all but one set in early nineteenth-century Britain and its empire.  Currently I’m delighted to be writing the final two novels in my Twist Series of historical romances, and I am (rather impatiently) awaiting the day I’m able to devote myself fully to a historical novel that I’ve been developing.

Sherri: I know you are a busy person but what other hobbies or interests do you have and do these show up in your novels?

Katharine: I have a puppy!  We walk, run, play, train, and socialize together.  We garden together too (that is, she digs holes and I fill them in.)  She’s sweet and smart and independent and loves everybody.  And yes indeed, several of my novels and novellas feature animals, dogs and horses as well as other furry and feathered critters. 

I suppose this really returns to the question above: when you write about what you love — what you care about — the cup of joy cannot help but runneth over.

Katharine Ashe is the USA Today bestselling and award-winning author of historical romances reviewers call “intensely lush” and “sensationally intelligent,” including Amazon Best Books in 2012, 2017, and 2018.  A former Fulbright Fellow, Mellon Scholar, Fellow of the American Academy in Rome, and Duke ’89 grad, as Katharine Brophy Dubois she holds a PhD in Medieval Religious History, and currently teaches courses on popular culture and history at Duke.  She is the associate convener of Duke’s MicroWorlds Lab; co-creator and host of Duke’s UNSUITABLE Speakers Series on women, fiction and popular culture; and founder of Facebook’s Feminist Romance Lovers Book Club.

Learn more about Katharine and her books at, where she is giving away a conference registration + one-night hotel stay for the Pamlico Writers’ Conference.

*Note: Katharine is taking a hiatus from social media, but you can find out more about her from her website and newsletter. If you love historical romances with real history, check out her books, you will be glad you did!

Posted in event

Save the Date

PWG (1)

The Pamlico Writers’ Conference steering committee has been hard at work. We are thrilled to have Katharine Ashe back, this time as our Keynote Speaker. Jim Keen, our finance officer and former chairman of the Pamlico Writers’ Group fell in love with Katharine in 2015 when she came to Washington as a presenter. I’d been a fan for much longer. I am a member of Katharine’s reader’s group known as the Princesses. I also follow her on Facebook and have had the pleasure of meeting her at Heart of Carolina Romance Writers’ events. She is a fantastic historian and author, and a lovely person. You won’t want to miss the chance to hear her speak.

We have other favorites returning as well as some new presenters. I can’t wait for you to hear what’s in store for our seventh annual Pamlico Writers’ Conference. Why We Write...Giving Voice to the Voiceless!

Posted in inspiration, Thoughts, writing inspiration

Using Sense and Setting

This was first posted on Pamlico Writers’ Group website, July 11, 2017,

The Pamlico Writers have been posting picture writing prompts. Many of these prompts are atmospheric. The setting or scenery is part of the prompt. In one picture we had a night time view of a house in the water, in the most recent a lonely road with storm clouds looming.

How important is weather and setting to your stories. How do you describe these conditions? When I think of a rain storm it is the smell of rain that comes to mind. The feel of electricity in the air that can make the hair on your arms stand up. The smell of ozone. Living on the water, there is also the changes in the weight of the air. When storms threaten, the air becomes heavy with humidity. The scent of the river and ocean become more apparent. The wind changes bringing a much needed coolness to the air or perhaps a chill. Choosing words to describe the weather, atmosphere and setting can set the tone for the scene, it can even set the tone for the book. What is it about our surroundings that can change a happy story to something foreboding?

In the book I am reading by Katharine Ashe, she uses a lot of weather. At the beginning of the story her heroine is caught in a hurricane on the island of Jamaica. She is new to the island and has no idea what is happening. Ms. Ashe weaves the character’s bravery and innocence along with her naiveté concerning the storm. She expertly shows the woman’s character with the clean up after the storm using sight, scent and emotion to heighten the tension in the story. Later, as she trudges through Scotland, we see a change in the weather and in the character. Like the cold, rugged terrain of Scotland the young woman grows older, colder and tougher. Ms. Ashe describes the weather and blends the two as if the setting is another character reflecting the changes in her heroine.

A member of the Pamlico Writers’ Group, Eileen Lettick has been sharing her story about a young girl who has been in an abusive situation. The character’s bedroom and the changes in décor also reflect the changes in her own situation. When her mother takes down the pretty flowery curtains in the living room and puts up the old, heavy drapes we get a sense of foreboding. The changes Ms. Lettick puts in her story are often subtle but the impact is powerful.

I use my hometown as the setting for my stories. I often reflect back to the things that have affected my mood or perception over the years. Here are some examples:

“The warm breeze swept my tears into the river. Their saltiness mingling with the brackish water. The earthy scent of mud and the promise of the ocean filled the air, comforting and frightening as the future that was still a mystery.”

“The dirt road was a ribbon of creamy satin in the darkness. The icy wind made my steps quicker, the effort lifting my spirits. I could smell the freshness in the air, a newness, a promise. The pearl-glow of the moon, a cameo set in silver against a velvet blue sky. The face in the moon brought comfort and lightness, everything would be okay. The child stirred within me, he too felt the promise in the winter night.”

“The smell of rain filled their senses. Their hair lifted in the quivering of wind and electricity. Glancing at the fields beside them, they saw the rain rushing towards them. Dancing across the parched field, drenching row after row as it moved closer to the road. They ran. The cool breeze filling their lungs as the first icy drops pelted their bare skin and sizzled on the pavement.”

I hope each of these scenes gives you a glimpse of my home and what I was feeling at the time. Our word choices, the images we wish to convey, the descriptions all are important parts of the setting and scene. Thinking of the setting as another character, realize its importance to the story. Study not only the landscape that makes of your setting but the feeling it evokes, the sights, the smells, the sounds. Use words that bring us to this place and help us feel we are there.

I could not tell my stories in another setting. In New York City I might walk along the streets alone and lonely but I am not truly alone. I maybe just another face lost in this ocean of people, but the sights, the smells, the emotions that happen in a large city would not be the same as walking along a dusty dirt road with nothing but trees and wildlife for company. How important is setting to your stories. How would a different setting effect what is happening? If I mention New Orleans and Katrina, you have an image in your head. But if I spoke of hurricane Katrina in another place, the story would be vastly different. As you write your stories, consider what makes it unique and paint us a word picture. Remember to use all of your senses to describe setting.

The taste of the jambalaya spicy on your tongue. The sound of the musician on the corner blowing an old jazz tune for the crowd of tourists. The smell of the Mississippi mingling with the sweat of too many people as the succulent scents of seafood frying in the Quarter calls us, reminding us of home.

Posted in Book Review

The Prince by Katharine Ashe

Happy Release Day, Katharine!

History professor/historical romance author, Katharine Ashe brings the past into the contemporary with an understanding of human nature and historical facts. Her novels are rich in history with a modern relevance.

The Prince is a timeless story of the heart versus dreams and responsibility.

Mr. Kent (The Prince Ziyaeddin of Tabir) is in exile, making his way in the world as a renowned artist. He meets the inexhaustible Libby/Elizabeth Shaw at the devil duke’s home in The Duke and he has never forgotten her.

Dressed as Mr. Smart, Libby sits among the medical students during a public dissection. No one realizes the boy with the wild whiskers isn’t a lad at all. She has accomplished the impossible, a woman in the operating theater in Edinburg. Until she sees Mr. Kent and realizes he recognizes her.

The daughter of a doctor, it is Libby’s dream to become as surgeon but no one will accept a woman as a surgical apprentice. Women aren’t even allowed to study medicine.

Mr. Kent is awaiting the moment when he can return home and free his sister and his country from the people who assassinated his parents.

The Prince is a story about people risking everything to accomplish a dream and forfeiting it all for love. It is a story of friendship, respect and following your heart despite others’ expectations. These extraordinary characters face insurmountable odds.

This is Katharine’s best work so far. These characters are unique yet familiar. As a reader, I’m rooting for Kent and Shaw to get together yet that seems impossible. How can they accomplish their dreams and responsibilities if they give into their desires? The emotional rollercoaster ride brings us closer to this amazing couple and the other characters who support their story.

I’m so thankful for happy endings but it wasn’t the ending I expected.

If you’re a history buff like I am, reading the historical notes Katharine provides for readers is just as much fun as the stories they inspired. It is one of my favorite things about reading her books.

Posted in Book Review

Again, My Lord (Book Review)

Again, My Lord
A Twist Series Novel
By: Katherine Ashe

Inspired by the movie Groundhog’s Day, Ms. Ashe turned this story on its head and sent it back in time to the Regency Era. I found myself laughing, crying and falling in love. I screamed at the characters trying to get their attention and tell them what they needed to know to find each other.
Imagine miscommunication at its finest. Societies’ moors, personality differences and insecurities rip two people apart only to thrust them back together again during a terrible storm. A statue of Aphrodite comes to life and her perverse attempts at matchmaking and enlightenment, twist and turn this hapless meeting into a trial of self-discovery and growth.
As Calista relives the same day over and over and over again, she must find a way to survive mentally, emotionally and spiritually. What would you do if you had only one day to make a difference? Faced with being trapped in this small town, with the one man she’s always loved, away from her family, Calista must discover the key to tomorrow.
Can Calista and Tacitus overcome all the obstacles set before them to find their happily ever after. Ms. Ashe believes in happy endings but beware the ride is filled with many curves, bumps and a crazy Greek Goddess is at the reigns.
Read Again, My Lord, you won’t regret it but be warned, you may have a few sleepless nights until you finish it!

Posted in Book Review

My Lady, My Lord by Katharine Ashe

I purchased this book at the 2015 Pamlico Writers Conference after hearing Katharine Ashe speak. If you have never had that chance you must look for the opportunity, not only is Katharine a talented writer, she is also a magnificent speaker. After listening to her speak of her books I knew I had to purchase one, I ended up with three. As a member of Katharine Ashe’s fan club The Princesses, I have come to learn even more about one of my favorite authors, her joy for writing romantic fiction comes out when she speaks but especially on the pages of her books.

My Lady, My Lord was a joyous experience, I could not wait to learn what happened next but on reaching the last page felt bereft that there was no story left. This amazing tale reminiscent of Freaky Friday, is a fun romp through the impossible. Katharine makes you believe in possibilities. At first I was a little put-off by the attitudes of the hero and heroine to each other but as I read on and learned more about them and as they learned more about each other, it became obvious how such animosity could have come about. I loved, loved, loved this story, it was fun, fresh and fabulous!
If you want a little something different in your historical romance, try My Lady, My Lord you won’t regret it.

Posted in Book Review

At The Billionaire’s Wedding (an anthology)

At the Billionaire’s Wedding
An Anthology by Maya Rodale, Caroline Linden, Miranda Neville and Katharine Ashe a culmination of contemporary romances based on The Bad Boy Billionaire Series by Maya Rodale.

These talented ladies did something amazing with this book. Taking characters who’d attend the wedding of romance writer Jane Sparks to her bad boy billionaire Duke Austen these ladies brought us different shades of romance. Never have I read an anthology that moved so seamlessly together. While each author’s voice is different their individual stories worked so well together it was at times difficult to believe they were not written with one heart.

I have been a fan of Katharine Ashe for some time. I love her Prince Catcher series. Her story of Piers and Cali, The Day it Rained Books is in true Ashe style of hope and love and happy endings. This Cinderella story brings two mismatched characters into the modern reality of poverty and literacy. As these two characters confront their fears and learn to hope for a future together. They find strengths they did not know they had.

The Best Laid Planner by Miranda Neville and Will You Be My Wi-Fi? By Caroline Linden are two fantastic stories and have succeeded in making me a new fan of these two writers.

Miranda Neville gives life to Arwen Kilpatrick in The Best Laid Wedding Planner making her so real I’d want to hire her for my own wedding. She is feisty and fun and as her own romance twists and turns, we see the woman within. A great loop of fate, this story of love, lust and destiny is a perfect fit into the wedding celebration of Jane and Duke.

Caroline Linden brought an obscure character, Duke’s lawyer Archer Quinn into his own with Will You Be My Wi-Fi? This serious minded man comes to life with the scent of good cuisine. The layering of sensuous desires and personal obligations come together in a tale of true romance. The person who is right for us should give us the strength to be the best we can be.

I bought the Bad Boy Billionaire and Wallflower series by Maya Rodale when I learned she was going to be the speaker at the Heart of Carolina workshop in October 2014, I fell in love. I became intoxicated by the love story of Duke and Jane and spent my whole book budget on her two intertwined series. Maya is not only a fantastic writer, she is also a wonderful speaker giving great advice to new and experienced writers. I have looked forward to the wedding of Duke and Jane as if they are friends, which after three books I feel that they are.

That Moment When You Fall in Love is the story of Roxanna and her secret lover. What would you do for love or friendship? Roxanna and Damien are not your typical romantic couple but their love story is one of the most intriguing because of it. Each of us must interpret love and romance by what we need from the relationship. It is heartening to see these two discover what works for them. As Jane’s best friend and roommate, Roxanna has had an investment in their relationship and it is wonderful to see her find her own happy ending.

For a great adventure in love and romance, check these four exciting stories and the authors who created them.

Posted in event

HCRW & Maya Rodale Workshop

I returned home exhausted but still excited, the Heart of Carolina Workshop I attended in Durham with speaker Maya Rodale was an amazing experience. Weeks before the workshop I started reading Maya Rodale’s two series The Bad Boy Billionaire and The Wall Flower Series. What an amazing marketing concept, you have no choice but to read all six books, they are so good and linked together it is impossible not to finish these series. I fell in love with the characters, the way she intertwined the two series, the modern series with plain Jane librarian good girl and sexy bad boy who needs a PR change only she can give him. She needs a life. They both get more than they bargain for.

At the workshop, Maya showed how to romance our readers and write faster with the idea of writing the book we want to read. We learned so much, not only from Maya but from the other experienced authors who were willing to share their information and inspiration to make the workshop much more than could be found anywhere else in the world.

The Heart of Carolina Romance Writers is a group that embraces its members and willingly shares knowledge and experience. Even after two years, I was welcomed by several who remembered me, others who knew me from on-line classes and posts. It was a joyous day of meeting, greeting and learning. I am so thankful for this group who have done so much to help me hone my writing skills.

I had a table full of talented authors to learn from and share with, my wise women from the east Kate Parker and Hannah Meredith kept me laughing as we traveled to and from the workshop. They are working on a Christmas Anthology that is destined to be a winner and will be hosting a Facebook party. It is exciting to learn how they are bringing it all together.

I also had the chance to meet Katharine Ashe who will be a presenter at the Pamlico Writers Conference in March 2015. She is another rock star writer who I’ve enjoyed reading…”The Prince Catcher” Series “I Married a Duke” and “I Adored a Lord” as well as, “Kisses she Wrote” are part of this series, I can hardly wait for the last one.

Seeing Virginia Kantra writer of the “Dare Island” series was another joy, her books feel like coming home.

Jennifer Delamere just back from Moonlight and Magnolias was so excited to share her experience assisting new writers perfect their pitch. It is this kind of excitement that I’ve experienced as a member of HCRW, people aren’t just willing to help, they are excited to share their experience and knowledge.
Maya Rodale Workshop 2014 013