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The Biggest Gamble: A Guest Post (and a giveaway)

Hi everyone! Rose Lerner here. I’m so excited to be back and talking about my new historical romance anthology Gambled Away. Joanna Bourne, Isabel Cooper, Jeannie Lin, Molly O’Keefe and I each contribute a story in which one character wins another in a game of chance (one of my favorite tropes!)

Since we just came out with a book all about gamblers taking huge risks, perhaps I shouldn’t have been surprised when Dabney asked, us “What’s the biggest gamble you’ve taken, yourselves?”

Here’s the thing, though: I’m very risk-averse. Being scared does not give me a thrill. I even hate roller coasters and horror movies. I am a such a Myers-Briggs J I probably go right through and become a Myers-Briggs KLMNOP.

I’m working on it, okay? I’m reading The Year of Yes right now! But to show you just how far I am from the high-stakes worlds of our stories, here’s a story about the first and only time I ever actually gambled. I was in my early 20s, working near Ocean Shores, WA, and a couple of my coworkers suggested we go to the Quinault casino after work. I’d never been, because we don’t gamble in my family. (“I’m thrifty, not cheap,” my mom always used to say…) “Just set a limit on how much you’re willing to lose and stick to it,” my coworker said. She also had to show me how to use a slot machine.

I set myself a $20 limit. (Yes, $20 is the biggest gamble I’ve ever taken.) And five minutes in, I won about $250!! I was thrilled. “What the hell, I haven’t lost $20 yet,” I thought. “I’ll keep going.” I lost my next $10.

I then berated myself for several minutes over my terrible choices and how I could have kept that $10 if I wasn’t so reckless.

Turns out my coauthors are not so cautious…

Isabel: I usually only realize in retrospect that I’m gambling — or what the odds are. Take the road trip junior year when I took rides from strangers in downtown DC at 3 AM. (Sorry, Dad. Hey, I’m alive, right?) Or going to boarding school across the country from my family when I was fourteen. Sure, I’d always known I’d board somewhere — my parents were faculty — but CA to MA is a lot of distance. Plus, the school itself was pretty intense, and I’d never even had to study before. I did make it: the work was a challenge at first, but it turns out that living independently suited me just fine, and I even made all of my connecting flights on vacations. Only looking back do I realize how much of a risk I was really taking, and how lucky I was to get to take it at all.

Jeannie: In my 20s, I had one of those road warrior jobs where I traveled around the country (and the world) doing computer things. I suffered burn-out and tried to figure out what I wanted to do instead. There was only one job I’d always said I wanted to do: teach when I retired from whatever career job I was in. How silly was that? If it’s the one thing I said I wanted to do, why wait? So I quit my tech job and went back to school to become a high school science teacher in South Central L.A., earning a fraction of the salary I’d been making.

That one jump off a cliff did amazing things for me. It taught me that if I wanted something, I could go for it and make it happen. It turns out that there was something else I’d always known I wanted to do, but I was just too afraid to admit it, even to myself. And that was write a book. :)

Molly: I was 25 when I got married, which seems so young as I think about it now. My boyfriend and I had been dating long distance for over six years. He is Canadian and I’m from the States and it wasn’t just distance but immigration standing in our way. One of those years I spent in Toronto — having moved there illegally after I graduated. Because I was illegal I couldn’t work (though I did manage to get a job opening up a bakery at five in the morning. I was paid in baguettes, brie and tips).  After a few months I knew this wasn’t how I wanted to live and unless we got married — I had to leave. And marriage was not yet in the cards.  I moved back to the States and while we tried to take a break — even across that distance, it didn’t work. But we agreed that I would not move back to Canada and he would not move to the States without being able to work at proper jobs.

It was decided (as I was living on a beach in California) that he would move to the States and we would get married.  As Adam was driving through Colorado, the immigration laws changed in my county. If we got married, he wouldn’t be able to leave the country afterwards until the next stage of his paperwork was finished — which could take up to five years.  I decided that I would move to Canada and we would make our lives there.

All of it felt like a gamble. Every part of it. And I’m happy to say it’s all paid off.

Joanna: Now, this is not a great gamble in the scheme of things entire nor is it the greatest gamble I’ve ever taken. But it’s about a dog and dogs always make things better.

I was looking for a dog to fill the dog-by-the-fire and dog-with-her-head-in-your-lap empty space in my life. So I went to the pound — my go-to spot for acquiring love and loyalty beyond price — and walked down the line.

I tried out more-or-less-collies and pretty-much-mostly-shepherds. Every time I walked by with a new candidate on the leash there was this dog at the far end, watching me walk by. I did not try out that dog because she was a pit-bull mix and really kinda ugly. But she was watching me, gol dang.

So I took the pit mix out for a stroll around the courtyard. I sat down and we looked at each other. She was short and squat and muscular and had her bottom teeth protruding a little. But I looked into her eyes and she was interested in me. She was looking back.

So I gambled. I passed up prettier girls and took that smart, ugly pit bull mix home.

Her muzzle’s getting gray now. She’s lying by the hearth on her dog bed, her paws in the air. She still keeps an eye on me all the time.

I won that gamble.

Rose and crew are giving away two copies of their book. Make a comment below to be entered in this drawing.


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