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Thursday, May 26, 2011

GUEST BLOG: MARY MARGRET DAUGHTRIDGE

All commenters on this guest blog are entered into a drawing for one of two copies of SEALed Forever; US and Canadian addresses only please. Make sure you include your email address either in your comment or your public profile.

If I’d never heard of myself, would I read my books?

The above question is one I’ve pondered over and over. Even though SEALed Forever, in its first week out, hit # 4 in sales at Barnes and Noble, I’m still a relative newbie. I burst upon the scene, so to speak, in 2008 with SEALed with a Kiss, my first novel.

A lot of people haven’t heard of me. I’m still not totally used to thinking of myself as an author. It’s not hard to put myself in their place.

I imagine myself wandering into the coffee scented environment of Barnes and Noble, the only non-specializing bookstore in my city, now that Borders has closed.

Barnes and Noble has been good to me, and anything that helps them thrive I’m in favor of, but you know, I miss the smell of books. What could be more exciting than inhaling the elixir of fresh ink and crisp, never-before-turned pages?

This particular day, I’m not looking for anything in particular. I’m just browsing, letting a cover or title catch my eye, reading the back matter, occasionally dipping into a few pages.

I’d like to tell you I don’t judge a book by its cover, but now that I’ve put some thought into why I pick up one book and not another, I’ve come to realize I do. A cover with lots of black or brown and orange makes me think the book is heavy on dark intrigue and light on character. I won’t like the book. Ditto dead body floating in a swimming pool. Ditto dripping blood. Unless the book is by an author I’m already a fan of, chances are I won’t even pick it up.

My eye falls on SEALed Forever. I’m not sure what “SEALed forever” means, exactly, but the pun makes me smile.

I confess right now, I can’t resist a pun. Honest and truly, I can’t see why some people find them groan-worthy. Someone has said that the pun is the lowest form of humor, but I’m telling you, that person never saw thirteen-year-old boys with a whoopee cushion.

But I’ve digressed. I’m supposed to be pretending that I never heard of me. Turns out, it’s harder than you might think.

I check out the author. Mary Margret Daughtridge. My gosh, what a name! Too long to get on one line—something I have a lot of sympathy for. I’ve been squeezing my name into too small boxes all my life. I shake my head. Romance writers often use a nom de plume. If ever one were called for, it’s here. On the other hand, nobody would make a name like that up, so I have to give her points for courage.

The cover? The current trend for naked, headless torsos doesn’t do much for me. Both as a reader and a writer, what I care about is character… But I also know the cover style is graphic shorthand for “hot read”—something I don’t object to at all.

I turn to the back matter. After all, no matter what’s on the front what I care about is the story. Hm. It’s about a SEAL( I like SEALs) working undercover, in a quandary—he’s found a baby. There’s a strong-sounding woman as the love interest (gotta have a strong hero. A strong heroine makes it even better.)

Here’s another thing I like. SEALed Forever doesn’t appear to be romantic suspense. SEALs are such made-to-order action heroes; it almost seems like a waste not to base the plot on danger and lots of action. It might be fun to read about one of these extraordinary men dealing with ordinary people—while the fact that he has all it takes to be a SEAL becomes part of the story’s context.

But you know what attracts me the most? The heroine isn’t the one who rescues the child. It’s the man.

I once saw a western I remember absolutely nothing about except the scene in which a band of horsemen ride up to a homestead where everyone has been massacred except for a baby too young to eat regular food. They look at it, wondering what to do. “It’ll die,” they say. “Maybe we should just put it out of its misery now.”

Don’t remember the rest of the scene. But as they return to their horses, one dusty, saddle worn, trail weary man mounts up with the baby in the crook of his arm.

All I can recall about the movie ends there, but if I’d written it, that’s where the story would begin. I’ve always wondered, what happened to the man and the baby? How many days was he on the trail with it? How did he feed it? And what did he do about diapers? Did he manage to keep it alive? Or did the prairie grass eventually wave over a tiny, nameless grave?

As you can see, the only part of the movie worth remembering was the man taking the baby, unprepared but willing to try to keep it alive.

Well, if SEALed Forever is about that, it’s for me.

Would I read it? Heck yeah. And I’d love Garth, the hard edged SEAL with the tender heart. I’d love Bronwyn the doctor, whose big move won’t work if she tries to leave pieces of herself behind. I’d love watching as love helps them open the door to their true selves. And I’d love finding out how the heck that baby came to arrive in the US hidden in a spy plane!

Yep. SEALed Forever is just my kind of book.

Now that that’s settled, what makes you take a chance on an author you never heard of?

SEALed FOREVER BY MARY MARGRET DAUGHTRIDGE

He’s got a living, breathing dilemma…
In the midst of running an undercover CIA mission, Navy SEAL Lt. Garth Vale finds an abandoned baby, and his superiors sure don’t want to know about it. The only person who can help him is the beautiful new doctor in town, but she’s got another surprise for him…

She’s got a solution…at a price…
Dr. Bronwyn Whitescarver has left the frantic pace of big city ER medicine for a small town medical practice. Her bags aren’t even unpacked yet when gorgeous, intense Garth Vale shows up on her doorstep in the middle of the night with a sick baby…

But his story somehow doesn’t add up, and Bronwyn isn’t quite sure who she’s saving—the baby, or the man…

Mary Margret Daughtridge has been a grade school teacher, speech therapist, family educator, biofeedback therapist, and Transpersonal Hypnotherapist. She is a member of the Heart of Carolina Romance Writers, Romance Writers of America, and Romancing the Military Soul, and is a sought-after judge in writing contests. She resides in Greensboro, North Carolina. For more information, please visit www.marymargretdaughtridge.com and www.sourcebookscasablanca.com.

4 comments:

Carolyn Brown said...

Mary Margret: I'd buy the book in a heart beat just on the strength of this blog. I enjoyed it tremendously and Garth and Bronwyn's story is going on my TBR pile right now!

Mary Margret said...

Thanks, Carolyn.

I have to admit, the more I described my reaction to the various stages of decision, the better I liked the book myself. :-)

Judy said...

I'll explain how I found your SEAL series. I recommended an Evelyn Vaughn or Justine Davis book I'd read, over at eHarlequin. Someone who also liked her recommended your books. And I was hooked. I find recommendations work best for me, when I'm trying a new author, as long as the person recommending has the same taste in books I do. I've tried the cover, the back, the excerpt, and reading the first few pages, and I've been wrong more often than I've been right. But recommendations based on what I already like works almost every time.

Mary Margret said...

Judy,

Recommendations often work for me on non-fiction, but I have to say, when it comes to fiction, I'm on my own.

I sure glad a recommendation led you to me. :-)