When I sat down to write THE SWEETHEART BARGAIN, the first character I created was Greta, the sassy matchmaking (and bourbon-swilling) grandma who is determined to see her grandson find his perfect match. I think I
was channeling my Nana, who was a sassy, determined woman (though not a bourbon drinker) whom I loved fiercely and miss every day. She died when I was eleven, but the lessons she imparted have stayed with me forever.
She was a concert pianist, who once played for Arthur Fiedler. An amazing woman whose talent went unused while she worked in a laundry, washing linens for hotels, in order to put food on the table for her family. But the love of music never left her, and some of my fondest lessons came from her piano lessons.
I didn’t appreciate them when I was young and wish I had had more time to learn at her side, but I do remember doing scales, and learning the beginnings of “Morning Has Broken,” as well as a couple of other songs. The most important things she taught me, though, had nothing to do with keys on a piano. They were all about life.
Persistence. This was probably the number-one thing that Nana taught me to have. It’s something that served me well in my writing career, where perseverance is a must on the resume. She told me not to quit when my fingers tripped over each other, trying to master scales. She told me not to quit when I hit the wrong key or my timing was wrong. She told me to keep trying, and eventually, I would master the music.
Gratitude. If there was one thing my Nana had a lot of, it was gratitude. For her days on earth, for her children and grandchildren, for her life. She made a big deal out of every card I drew her, championed my first scribbles of stories, and made me feel like the most loved child on earth. She encouraged my creative side, and told me to be grateful for those creative skills, and to never ever take them for granted.
I’d like to say I grew up to become a great piano player, but alas, after my Nana died, I never really took up the instrument again. My daughter is the musical one in the family, the one who can play any instrument she touches. She’s going to school for music, with an eye on the music business. My son is interested in film making, and between my two children, I see them bringing those creative and musical skills together in one generation.
Instead, I poured my music into words, and that’s where THE SWEETHEART BARGAIN began. That’s why Greta became the foundation of that story, because I wanted my Nana to be a part of the world I created, as a way of thanking the woman who inspired me to try harder, to reach further and to never, ever let go of my dreams.
Here’s a little snippet from THE SWEETHEART BARGAIN (in stores now), an introduction of sorts, to Greta, where she is determined to help her suffering grandson find his way again:
Luke got to his feet, crossing to the percolating coffeepot. “Don’t try to fix me up, Grandma.”
“Why? You’re single. She’s single. As well as beautiful. Employed. You should ask her on a date.”
He whirled around so fast, he brushed one of the mugs on the counter and sent it spinning. He’d never even seen the mug there.
The world had narrowed on him, like curtains closing. He had always been a man of action, but now, he’d become someone who couldn’t make a cup of coffee without bringing in help. He took a breath, clenched his fists, released them. Wallowing in self-pity only made the mud deeper and thicker.
“I’m not in any condition to date anyone. What woman is going to want this?” His hand went to his face, and he cursed himself for letting that self-pity creep in again.
The air in the kitchen stilled. The coffeepot perked away, one glub at a time. Outside, the faint sound of sirens rose and fell. Greta crossed to Luke and put a hand on his left cheek. Her soft fingers inched up, pausing by the scar that zigzagged down from his hairline. Such a small injury, but such big implications. “Oh, Luke, this doesn’t have to stop you from having a life, you know.”
He turned away from her touch. “What kind of life do I have now?”
“What happened changed the life you had, Luke. Not the one that’s ahead of you.”
“I’m a pilot, Grandma. A pilot who can never fly a plane again. I’m half blind and all I can look forward to right now is more . . . nothing. Oh, I can collect my disability pay and maybe stand on the corner with a cup of pencils, but the life I had is gone.” He let out a low curse, then shook his head. So much for not wallowing.
“You don’t have to be a pilot. You can—”
“All I’ve ever wanted to do is fly. You know that.” His lifelong dream, jerked from him in a split second, one bad decision. “I’m done.”
Greta sighed. “Life is about change, Luke. And part of that is what makes every day an adventure. And when life hands you lemons, you make limoncello.”
He smiled. “Another bit of wisdom from your daddy?”
“Of course. And a useful tip. How do you think I survived that move to the retirement home?”
His gaze went to the open window, to a yard that no longer held crisp green grass and bright yellow flowers but had blurred into dark spheres and pyramids like a twisted geometry problem from God. His entire world cast in shadow.
Some days, his vision cooperated and he could see the world through a gauzy film. Those were the good days, the ones when he thought maybe this wouldn’t be so bad. He’d find a way around it, maybe a way back to the Coast Guard. Other days—the dark days—his eyes refused to show him anything beyond shades of gray. At first, the bright days had filled him with hope for recovery, and then he’d begun to curse them as a cruel, temporary gift.
His grandmother’s hand was on his shoulder again, but he barely felt it. Didn’t hear her words. His mind saw another darkness, one teeming and churning like an angry machine, the sea reaching up in whitecapped waves, a growling beast below him. The helo pitching and rolling in the storm, the flight controls shaking in his grip, and the white faces of the crew.
Lowering the rescue litter, hearing Joe shouting through the headset that they were burning through fuel too fast. Hurry the hell up, it’s getting bad out there—
Then watching the cable whip in a wild arc, then catch in the mast, and like a rebounding yo-yo, jerk back up. Luke tried to shift the helo away, but the cable was faster, snarling in the transmission hub and the rotor blades, rendering the flight controls useless. After that, nothing but black. A void in his memory. A blessing and a curse.
“I’m sorry,” Luke said softly, to the breeze dancing over his skin, wishing the words could carry far enough to reach those he had left behind.
And the one he would never see again.
“I know you are,” Grandma said. “I know you are.”
Thank you to the Jaunty Quills for having me on the blog! Tell me, what was the greatest lesson you learned from your grandma (or another family member)? I’ll pick one lucky commenter to win a copy of THE SWEETHEART BARGAIN, along with some cool beach-themed goodies!
Connie Fischer is the winner of Margo’s drawing – Congratulations!
Send Margo your email address so she can get your mailing address, and she said to do it asap so she can get your book in the mail before she leaves for Scotland! (margomaguire @ yahoo.com)
Julie is Lisa Marie’s winner. She will contact you soon!
I Dream of Danger is book # 2 of the Ghost Ops series. The Ghost Ops are a team of elite warriors who go dark. There is no mention of them anywhere, their pasts are wiped out, they must have no ties. No friends, no loved ones, no family. Thus, when they are brutally betrayed and must flee, they have only themselves to rely on.
Each man, ‘Mac’ McEnroe, Nick Ross and Jon Ryan, meets his match and finds his mate. They aren’t looking for love, but love finds them. Their women have psychic abilities, gifts they reject at first. In Heart of Danger, Dr. Catherine Young goes looking for Mac on an impossible mission. She is an empath, able to feel emotions at a touch. How would you like to know what people are feeling? I thought not. Catherine, too, has shunned her gift. It becomes much stronger as she falls in love with Mac, because I think that the greatest human connection of all, love, strengthens our native gifts.
In I Dream of Danger, Nick Ross lost his one true love, Elle Thomason, many years ago. He has mourned her for years. When Elle Thomason was lost to him, he joins Ghost Ops, because there will never be another woman for him.
But Elle has a gift, too. She can astrally project and when her life is on the line, she calls to Nick the only way she can—her soul calls to him and he will walk through fire to find her.
Catherine and Elle are women with rare gifts, gifts that in the wrong hands can be abused, misused. Both Catherine and Elle are targets for renegade scientists who would turn their gifts into powerful weapons that could destroy humanity.
But the men of Ghost Ops and their women have a powerful weapon, too. Love and a community. When the world comes crashing down, it is not the size of your gun that will save you but the contents of your heart.
When Nick and Elle find each other again, they form a unit so strong nothing can bring them down. Not even a plague that threatens the world.
Nothing will ever tear them apart again.
The book deals with some scary stuff, stuff that could take civilization down, so let’s be very grateful for what we have, considering we have just celebrated the Fourth of July. Our freedom and all those things that allow us to enjoy life and our loved ones. Enough to eat, shelter, law and order. Modern medicine, schools, hospitals. There’s a lot to be grateful for, don’t you think? Because if it ever goes, it will all go, and we will be sorry we weren’t more grateful.
I live in Italy (I know—poor me!) so I might be a bit late in getting back to you but I would welcome your comments! One participant in today’s discussion will receive an electronic version of I Dream of Danger.
For information on more of Lisa Marie’s books, visit her website.
As a romance author, one of my favorite scenes to write in a novel is that first encounter between hero and heroine. As a romance reader, it’s one of my favorite scenes to read as well. I can’t help myself. I love hearing how couples first met—in both the fictional world and the real.
My own personal love story is all kinds of cliché. In fact, when I tell people how I met my husband, they always laugh in that, “Are you serious?” kind of way. But I must admit, I love that it’s part of our story.
Are you ready for it?
I was the enamored receptionist. He was the hot delivery guy.
No joke. I’m a real-life version of Jennifer Coolidge from Legally Blonde.
I remember getting all giddy whenever he’d come in to deliver packages. Then one day, he walked in the office as I was headed out for lunch. Only instead of continuing inside, he turned around and walked me to the elevator.
Much to my shock, he asked me out.
And what was my romantic, suave response? “Do you even know my name?”
“Of course,” he said. “You sign for the packages. Your name’s Kate.”
Here’s the thing about me.
Before that moment in time, nobody had ever called me Kate. It was always Katie. But my signature was awful and I was too tongue-tied to correct him. So I wrote Kate along with my number on a gum wrapper and gave it to him.
He still has the gum wrapper (aw!).
His entire family calls me Kate.
And for the first year of our relationship, all my friends referred to him as the UPS guy. Even though he never worked for UPS.
Let’s Talk: Tell me about your first encounter with your honey. Or tell me about one of your all-time favorite first encounters from a book you’ve read!
Comment for a chance to win a copy of Wildflowers From Winter, my debut novel. A winner will be drawn from everyone who comments and posted on Sunday afternoon…so check back then!
Back cover blurb, Wishing on Willows:
A three-year old son, a struggling café, and fading memories are all Robin Price has left of her late husband. As the proud owner of Willow Tree Café in small town Peaks, Iowa, she pours her heart into every muffin she bakes and espresso she pulls, thankful for the sense of purpose and community the work provides.
So when developer Ian McKay shows up in Peaks with plans to build condos where her café and a vital town ministry are located, she isn’t about to let go without a fight.
As stubborn as he is handsome, Ian won’t give up easily. His family’s business depends on his success in Peaks. But as Ian pushes to seal the deal, he wonders if he has met his match. Robin’s gracious spirit threatens to undo his resolve, especially when he discovers the beautiful widow harbors a grief that resonates with his own.
With polarized opinions forming all over town, business becomes unavoidably personal and Robin and Ian must decide whether to cling to the familiar or surrender their plans to the God of Second Chances.
You can find Katie Ganshert on her website, Twitter, Facebook, and her blog. You can read a free sample of her debut novel, Wildflowers from Winter here, and a sample of her latest release, Wishing on Willows, here.