It’s ten years ago this week that my life changed…forever.
I’d just turned forty and was going through a divorce and struggling with writing and meeting my close deadlines for Harlequin Presents when my heart and life felt completely broken. Facing the first Easter without my two little boys, I jumped on a plane and headed to Hawaii to write at a beach front resort where I wouldn’t have to think about anything but my book and getting through the holidays in one piece.
I was down at the pool working in the shade under an umbrella, when this surf instructor walked a little girl back from a meeting. Someone shouted his name, thanking him, and it caught my attention since my then five year old was also named ‘Ty’.
Ty, the surf instructor, and I chatted for a few minutes, and after he walked away, I thought–’now theres a story.’ I didn’t even know what the story was, just that this sexy surfer represented a world I knew nothing about, but a world women would love. I booked a lesson with him for the next day, and spent the two hours interviewing him by the pool because I wanted to hear his story.”
I left Waikiki with a ten page synopsis which I sent to my agent, and she took it to my new editor at Warner Books and they bought the story, slated for publication in mid 2006, since I had my first single title, The Frog Prince, releasing in 2005.
During the next year, Ty and I dated long distance, and I knew he and I would never be able to go ‘the distance’. How could we? We were so different. I lived in Seattle and was 40 and an ambitious, career focused woman and he was 9 years younger and had never even dated a ‘chick with kids’ before me. How would we ever work?
Friends didn’t think I should get too invested in him. They knew my heart was already banged up but I loved his world in Hawaii and the freedom and opportunity to be yourself. I loved escaping from suburban mom world, and it helped me grow as a woman and a writer. I knew when Ty and I ended it would hurt, but I had to take the risks. I had to find out how and when the journey ended.
It’s been ten years, and we’re married and we have a little boy who turns 5 in a couple weeks. A couple years ago I was able to move from Seattle with my older children and Ty and I have bought a historic property in San Clemente, California, where Ty will set up a second outpost of his Waikiki surf school.
I sometimes think that if he hadn’t been a surfer, and I hadn’t been a writer, we couldn’t have made it work. But we’re both about creating a moment–having a passion–and it makes us respect the other. As a surfer, he knows how to read the water and the waves and he’s patient when he needs to be, and he can charge it when the wave is there. As a writer I know how to focus on the end goal, and be flexible with the middle bits, turning pieces and tweaking and massaging story elements to make something work.
Ty and I have our bumps. He is a laid-back surfer and I can be an intense writer but he believes in me in a way that no other man ever has. He’s the first person to tell me to ‘go for it’, and he’s absolutely confident that I can succeed at anything I want to try. I love having a man on my team that is really on my team, and so as I continue to write for Harlequin Presents and trade books for Penguin, I also write stories for Tule Publishing, a small, indie publishing venture that is all about the author. The romance industry is filled with smart, creative women and they are the real talent in the publishing industry. I believe authors should feel validated and be respected and its my mission and passion to encourage and support them…and all smart, creative women.
Bestselling author of 45 romances and women’s fiction titles, Jane Porter has over 12 million copies in print and has been a finalist for the prestigious RITA award five times, most recently for her novella, Take Me, Cowboy (Tule Publishing). Her next release, Beauty’s Kiss will be available in April 2014. Jane makes her home in sunny San Clemente, CA with her surfer husband. Learn more about Jane at janeporter.com.
One lucky commenter on the blog will win a $15 Amazon gift card and some other fun goodies!
Please give a warm welcome to our special guest, Judy Duarte! I had the pleasure of working with Judy on Harlequin’s 2014 Fortunes of Texas series, and I was thrilled when she agreed to join us today. So, without further adieu…
You Gotta Love Those Kids…
One of the things I love about writing a romance—in addition to creating a beautiful love story—is the chance to create unique and entertaining secondary characters who add that special something to the book. And that’s why I especially enjoyed writing A HOUSE FULL OF FORTUNES!
Everyone loves a funny sidekick, a dastardly villain, or an older and wiser friend. But personally, my favorite secondary characters are children.
Having raised five of my own, I’ve also been blessed with their cousins, their friends, and now their children—my grandchildren. Needless to say, I’ve put in my share of babysitting, volunteering in the classroom, chaperoning field trips, and teaching Sunday school. I’ve cooked for kids, cleaned up after them, rocked them to sleep and disciplined them. Over the years I’ve come to understand kids and to always expect the unexpected whenever they’re in the room.
When writing Toby and Angie’s romance, I had the opportunity to create not one, but three children. Toby Fortune Jones had taken in three foster kids who had nowhere else to go. And while his heart was in the right place, he found that it isn’t always easy to juggle the needs and personalities of three youngsters. He soon found himself relying on Angie Edwards to help him with his adorable brood.
Art Linkletter was right. Kids really do say the darnedest things. That’s what makes them so fun to include as secondary characters. But when doing so, a writer needs to make them as realistic as possible.
My daughter, who is also an author, once stopped reading a book because she couldn’t wrap her head around the fact that the heroine’s son kept asking his grandmother for more helpings of her delicious okra and vegetable stew. My daughter said, “Have you ever heard a seven year old boy beg for okra? I’m sure there might be one or two out there, but at my house, it’s a battle just to get my kids to eat carrots with ranch dressing. I’m not buying it.”
So kids can be cute, they can be funny, and they can be a challenge. But when created realistically, they can add so much to the layers of a book. I tried my best to do that with Brian, Justin, and Kylie. I hope my readers agree—and that they’ll enjoy watching Angie and Toby fall in love, in spite of all the antics and obstacles they have to overcome in A HOUSE FULL OF FORTUNES!
Judy is giving away an Amazon gift card to one person who posts. So, please join in on the fun and leave a comment below.
It’s my huge pleasure to welcome Virginia Kantra to the Jaunty Quills today! She’s celebrating her brand new release, Carolina Man, and talking today about hunky marines and cute puppies. What could possibly be better on a Friday?
Without further ado …
From Carolina Man
As the temperatures plummeted, the dog crept closer, drawn by the need for warmth or food or simple companionship. Luke could sympathize. He tore open another MRE and set it on the rocky ground.
“Why do you feed it?” Habib asked.
“Staff Sergeant’s our den mother. He takes care of everybody,” Burrows said.
He couldn’t take care of everybody. But by tagging along the dog had made herself one of them. Theirs.
After ten years at war, Luke wasn’t fighting for freedom and democracy. He was in this for the guys next to him, to keep them safe, to bring them home alive.
The mutt licked the wrapper, her thin tail stirring cautiously.
Out here, it was the little things that mattered. Making the world safe from global terrorism sounded good, but these days Luke measured victory one step, one sunrise, and now one dog at a time.
“You ever have a pet growing up?” he asked Habib.
The Afghan smiled wryly. “We can barely feed our families. We do not think of animals as you do.”
The dog sighed and settled her head on her paws, fixing her dark, mascara-ringed eyes on Luke. Like a hooker who’d been knocked around and still hoped this time would be different. Better. Help me. Save me. Love me.
“Think she’ll make it back to camp with us?” Ortega asked, seeking reassurance.
Luke didn’t know. He didn’t know if any of them would make it. The weight of responsibility pressed on his shoulders.
No Marine left behind.
Or dog, either.
Click here to read more.
Men in uniform. Puppies. What’s not to love? It’s like we’re biologically primed to fall for the mate who will provide for and protect our young.
From the moment we meet Staff Sergeant Luke Fletcher, the hero of Carolina Man, we know this is a guy who can be both tough and tender. Which is good, because at the beginning of the book, Luke unexpectedly finds himself the father of a ten-year-old girl he never knew he had. Those same strong-but-tender qualities make him a match for smart-but-damaged lawyer Kate Dolan, who has good reasons not to trust any man
When I was researching Carolina Man, I learned about the many pets on bases in Iraq and Afghanistan. We’re not just talking US service dogs, but stray cats and dogs rescued and adopted by our troops. Base commanders often ignore the military order against pets at forward bases, because the animals fill a real need. Not just accompanying “their” soldiers on patrol, not just keeping down the populations of rats and mice, but improving morale by providing love and comfort and distraction for troops far from home.
Often these animals stay with the base. When one company rotates out, they are adopted by the next. But as more troops come home, many worry about the fate of their pets left behind. And some returning warriors simply cannot bear to be parted from their animal comrades.
There are organizations that help our troops with the logistics of bringing home pets from a war zone. Guardians of Rescue matches returning service men and women with shelter animals and assists in bringing home pets rescued during their deployments. Nowzad rescues stray and abandoned animals in Afghanistan, often brought to them by troops, and helps reunite pets with their military owners.
So for every person who comments below—and each new subscriber to my newsletter over the next three days—I will make a donation to support Guardians of Rescue and Nowzad.
(You can also donate directly through the links above.)
Do you know a service man or woman who’s been reunited with a pet from overseas? Or do you have a pet who has helped you through a hard time? Share your story! One randomly chosen commenter will win a copy of Carolina Man!
When I was fourteen years old I was moaning the fact that I would never have a boy friend. It seemed that every time I liked a boy he liked another girl. I was destined to be an old maid.
My mom laughed and sat on my bed and shared a story of what she called her first love, her lost love. I listened as she told me how before she’d met my dad the small Cajun man with laughing eyes and black wavy hair, she had loved a tall blond man that could sing like a professional and when they danced she felt like her feet never touched the floor. They dated under the watchful eyes of my grandmother for almost a year.
My mom was not allowed to go on a date without her mother accompanying them. But it became too much for my mom’s man she loved with all her heart. He asked permission to take her on an afternoon drive, just the two of them. His request was denied. His pride and I guess his honor was questioned. He told mom that he couldn’t do this anymore and that if he wasn’t trusted now he probably never would be so he walked away, saying he would not return but for her to know that he loved her and would never love another.
Broken hearted she moved to New Orleans to live with an Aunt, where she later met my dad, and after a long while they married. Years went by and I was born, and when my grandmother came to help she told my mom that her first love had returned shortly after mom moved to New Orleans, but my grandmother refused to tell him where she’d gone.
Years later she sat next to my dad in the hospital when she heard a familiar voice. She knew without looking up it was him but there he stood in his dress blues, he was now a service man. She said she so wanted to talk to him and have closure, but just then she and my dad were called into the doctors office. He never saw her.
My dad died at the age of fifty-five and my mother came to live with us, many an afternoon she and I would sit on my front porch and she would recount her past, and the stories would almost always turn back to him. She wondered if he’d ever married, if he knew she thought of him? My mom and I decided to look for him, and that we did for years, but every lead turned into a dead end. She died at the age of eighty-four, without closure between she and her first love. But before she died she did find out from her brother, that he had run into the man ten years before and that he’d never married. He told my mom’s brother, the good one had gotten away.
So when I wrote the second book in my Bon Amie Series, SNOW ON MAGNOLIAS, a secondary romance story was born about a young girl and a young soldier, it is one of my favorite parts of this book. Maybe because in my own way I am still trying to give my mom closure.
Have you ever written any personal stories into your books? As a reader do you enjoy knowing the behind the scenes info on the books you read?
Oh by the way that fourteen year old drama queen, did not end up an old maid, I’ve been very happily married to my best friend for 52 years.
Award-winning author, Hattie Mae was born and bred southern, cutting her teeth on cornbread and greens and running barefoot through the canals of her small Louisiana town. So when it came to writing, there was no question as to where to set her books. She’s now writing her fourth book set in Bon Amie, a busy little town nestled in the heart of Cajun country. She’s also published a short story in The Cup Of Comfort For Teachers. The love of books and writing runs in her family, Hattie’s daughter is award-winning historical romance author, Robyn DeHart. When not writing you can usually find her playing with her grandchildren or cooking up some healthy versions of tasty southern fare. She lives in central Texas with her husband and one crazy cat. You can find her online on Facebook, Twitter or via email.
Hey, Jaunties! I have a special guest for you today. Unfortunately, our scheduled guest couldn’t make an appearance, but I managed to persuade my husband, Mr. Galen, to step in. Okay, I sort of cornered him and started asking him questions, but he was a good sport in the end. So, welcome Mr. Galen—the Ultimate Sportsfan himself.
Shana: Welcome. I think the first question readers will have is what’s it like to be married to a romance author?
USF: I’m not sure what it’s like to be married to all romance authors, but the one I’m married to in particular I would have to describe as determined. I don’t think that there’s anyone who works harder at her craft or who is more dedicated to writing better and better books. I’d also add sacrifice as a way to describe her because there are many hours of lost sleep and long nights toiling at the stories that swirl around in her head.
Shana: Aww! Thanks. Tell us a bit about you and what you do.
USF: I’m your average, every day romance hero. Or maybe not exactly. I work for a large safety-net health care organization in the health care administration field. I work with physicians, management, and leadership to try and improve the health care delivery system within our organization. It can be very challenging and rewarding when work that I do impacts patients in a positive way.
As for my secret, double life as a romance hero, I’m a rogue who likes the sporting life. And as much as I would like to take credit for the love scenes in my wife’s books, I’ll leave it up to everyone’s imagination if they are based on real life or not. I have, however, had to turn down opportunities to be on the covers because I didn’t think it would be a good opportunity.
Shana: Readers, if only you could see my eyes rolling since none of that last paragraph is true. USF, do you read your wife’s books? How do you know of these love scenes you speak of?
USF: I have read several of them, but not all, I’m ashamed to say. As in many of my wife’s books, I feel that opposites attract. My wife is a voracious reader, but I would have to say that my wife’s release is the last novel I read.
Shana: That would be my 2006 release.
USF: No comment.
Shana: Why do I call you USF?
USF: As all romance husbands have cool nicknames, the natural one that came to mind was Ultimate Sportsfan, or USF, because I enjoy sports. I like to watch in person and on television as a hobby.
Shana: Are there any sports you don’t enjoy?
USF: (Long pause) I’ve been asked this question before and had only seen plane racing once and thought I didn’t like it. But then I was flipping through the channels a few months later, caught it again, and decided I do like plane racing. So, no, I’ve never met a sport I didn’t like.
Shana: Last question. What’s the best thing about having a 4-year-old daughter, Princess Galen?
USF: The best thing is her excitement at learning new things, the unbridled joy that she shows when she’s having fun, and her capacity for loving in the way that only a child can. Plus, she’s the only 4-year-old I know that has a romance bookmark collection and a social media pseudonym. She’s brought great joy to my life, and I’m thankful every day that we have her.
Shana: Thanks for joining us today. I’ll be back tomorrow with a new blog!