It's our pleasure to welcome debut author, Heather Ashby to the Romance Dish today! Heather is a Navy
veteran whose mother was one of the original WAVES in World War II. After
leaving the service, Heather taught school and raised a family while accompanying
her Navy husband around the United States, Japan, and the Middle East. In
gratitude for her son’s safe return from Afghanistan and Iraq, she now writes
military romance novels, donating half her royalties to Fisher House Foundation
– Helping Military Families. She lives in Atlantic Beach, Florida with her
retired Naval Engineer husband. Contact Heather at Heatherashby.com.
Please give Heather a warm welcome!
Today was the
day I knew I had succeeded as an author.
It had nothing to do with awards or
sales or rankings or number of reviews. It came in an email from a reader. It
came in a photograph of a woman in desert camouflage reading my book in the
middle of the barren landscape of Afghanistan.
It came in the following words:
“Thank you for writing Forgive &
This woman is a Lieutenant
Commander in the United States Navy, a general surgeon in the Medical Corps,
deployed with our Marines in Afghanistan. She writes, “We are on call all the
time, but thankfully have not been that busy.” Reading between those lines
gives me shivers thinking of the horrors this woman might face on a daily basis.
She mentions in her email: “Reading romance novels keeps me sane.”
I understand her sentiment. My son
joined the Army pre-9/11, so he did not expect to spend his twentieth birthday
searching caves for Taliban or his twenty-first taking Baghdad. A military
veteran myself, I read military romance novels during his deployments, because
I knew no matter what happened, there
would be a happy ending. I devoured Suzanne Brockmann’s Troubleshooter
series, along with books by Catherine Mann, Lindsay McKenna, and Merline
Lovelace. I swore I would thank those authors someday for helping me through
those scary years. I have since thanked all of them.
My son not only returned safe and
whole from both tours of combat, but he came home a mature respectful, and
responsible man. I looked for ways to
show my gratitude for these blessings and was led to write military romance
novels. Being a Navy veteran, I chose to pen stories to entertain our women in
the fleet. Hence my “Love in the Fleet” series was born. Forgive & Forget launched last week and Forget Me Not releases in December, with two more to follow in
My original vision was to write
books that I thought young women would want to read on board a ship when they
climbed into their “racks”—their thirty cubic foot sleeping spaces. Something
that would “take them away” for a few hours. And here is a Naval officer—a
surgeon whose job it is to put our
Marines back together—taking a respite from the drudgery, hazards, challenges,
and sadness of war, sitting on rocks, enclosed by a barbed-wired
perimeter, reading my book. And telling me, “Thank you?”
I had planned to write this blog
explaining how my stories differ from most military romances. I write love
stories about ordinary people. The Navy just happens to be the setting. My civilian
readers say, “I was delightfully surprised. I expected a shoot-em-up with Navy
SEALs, weapons, and violence.” But these readers weren’t looking for that. They
were looking for a solid love story with just enough conflict and suspense to
keep the hero and heroine apart. And they found it on my fictional aircraft
carrier, the USS Blanchard. They
said, “I felt like I’d vicariously joined the Navy and I learned so much!”
PJ was expecting 400-600 words on
that topic today.
But instead, after receiving an
email from a Navy doctor who impacted my writing career and my life so much
today, I wrote about it instead. Thank you, readers for letting me share this
defining moment—that regardless of my ratings or sales figures or number of
reviews—I know I have succeeded as a writer.
PJ jumping in to say, "Who cares about 400-600 words on why your books are different?" You've told us why they're important! Many thanks to you, Heather and to your reader for sharing today's story with us. And thank you to you, your son, your reader, all members of the military and their families for all you give to our country. Your service is appreciated more than I can say.
Readers, tell us about a circumstance when romance novels kept you sane.
Do you have friends or family serving in the military?
Do you enjoy reading books set within the military world?
Heather has graciously offered a copy of her book, Forgive & Forget to one randomly chosen person leaving a comment today. (U.S., APO and FPO addresses only please) Heather will also send another free copy to a service member designated by the winner. Don't know a service member? No problem. Heather can recommend several!
When Navy journalist Hallie McCabe meets Philip Johnston at a picnic, she is drawn to his integrity. He is a gentleman—and an officer. From her ship. Aware of the code against fraternization between officers and enlisted, Hallie conceals her Navy status, hopeful she and her secret will stay hidden on their aircraft carrier until she can figure out a way for them to sail off into the sunset together.
Caught in an emotional firestorm, Hallie faces a future without the man she loves, a career-shattering secret from the past, and the burden of being the one person who can prevent a terrorist attack on the ship she has sworn to protect with her life. Prepare to set sail for the Persian Gulf with a crew of 4,999 sailors and officers—and one terrorist in search of his own kind of Paradise.