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.
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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!
The Jaunty Quills are excited to welcome author Brooklyn Ann back to the Jaunty Quills! Brooklyn Ann has a new book out. It’s titled Wrenching Fate.
Shana: Welcome back, Brooklyn Ann! Tell us about Wrenching Fate. Is this your first indie published book?
Brooklyn Ann: Wrenching Fate is the first book in my paranormal romance series, Brides of Prophecy.
Here’s the blurb:
“Silas McNaught, Lord Vampire of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho is elated when he finds Akasha Hope, the woman his psychic visions revealed to him centuries ago. To his surprise, Akasha is infuriated when Silas interferes with her life. Furthermore, she is nothing like the sweet woman he’d envisioned. Instead she’s a foul mouthed mechanic and, due to being the accidental result of a military experiment, she possesses the strength of ten men ….and government agents are looking for her.
Matters are further complicated when Silas’s vindictive ex lover spurs the Elders to investigate Silas in hopes to destroy Akasha and gain control of her friends, which are the key to an otherworldly prophecy.
As government conspiracies and vampire politics collide, Silas teaches Akasha the meaning of trust…and love.
And yes, this is my first Indie published book. I’d been wanting to experiment with Indie Publishing for quite some time and WRENCHING FATE already had a small cult following from all the beta reads it’s had over the years, so it was the perfect choice.
So far, I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the hype it’s already generated with my fan base, so hopefully it will do okay.
Shana: Is it difficult to write in two different genres or a nice break?
Brooklyn Ann: It’s mostly a nice break. I actually write in three different genres but they’re all romance and that ties it all together. Of course I do have to watch out for having modern rock stars talking like nineteenth century British nobles, but for the most part, the more worlds I get to explore, the better!
Shana: I noticed the book is set in your hometown, Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. Did you enjoy writing a book set in your own backyard?
Brooklyn Ann: I loved it! Aside from admiring how well Anne Rice and Stephen King bring their own hometowns to life, I really believe that Coeur d’Alene is a unique and versatile setting. One can be downtown at a club or golfing on the floating green and be on the lake fishing in twenty minutes or up in the mountains hunting or berry picking within an hour.
Shana: I enjoy those same qualities in Anne Rice and Stephen King’s novels. Tell us about your next Regency Bites series book. When is One Bite Per Night releasing?
Brooklyn Ann: One Bite Per Night releases in August and here’s the blurb for that one.
“The Dowager Countess of Morley asks Vincent Tremayne, Lord Vampire of Cornwall, to become guardian of her American granddaughter. Vincent honors the agreement and plans to get his new ward married and off his hands as soon as possible.
When Lydia Price arrives, she soon turns Vincent’s gloomy castle upside-down, and he decides he wants Lydia for himself. But if Vincent can’t protect Lydia from her entanglement with scandalous portrait painter Sir Thomas Lawrence, the vampire community will make sure that he—and Lydia—face dire consequences.”
Shana: Finally, tell us what you’ve been working on lately.
Brooklyn Ann: Currently I’m working on a heavy metal romance series and working on edits for both my 3rd Regency Paranormal series and IRONIC SACRIFICE, the sequel to WRENCHING FATE.
Readers, now it’s your turn. Last week I did an event at a library and had a copy of Brooklyn Ann’s historical to give away. Everyone wanted it. Do you love vampires in your novels or would you rather stick with humans? One commenter will win an e-book copy of WRENCHING FATE!
The Jaunty Quills are excited to welcome veteran author Carolyn Brown, whose newest book is The Cowboy’s Mail Order Bride. I’ve known Carolyn for a few years now, and not only is she an extremely gifted author, she’s one of the nicest, most hilarious people around. Readers, keep reading to find out how to win your copy of The Cowboy’s Mail Order Bride.
Thank you for inviting me to Jaunty Quills. It’s a pleasure to be here on my blog tour to promote The Cowboy’s Mail Order Bride. And thank you Shana, for those nice words. That’s my ego trip for the rest of the week!
Shana: Welcome, Carolyn! Tell us about The Cowboy’s Mail Order Bride. Is this one of the Cowboys and Brides series? I just read The Cowboy’s Christmas Baby and loved it.
Carolyn Brown: Awww, thank you so much for reading Lucas and Natalie’s story. That first line was what set the whole story for me. I could visualize Natalie holding that pistol in one hand and a baby in the other. And yes, ma’am, The Cowboy’s Mail Order Bride is the third book in the series. More than sixty years before, a letter got stuck in an old mail bag and was never delivered. When the mailman found it and returned the letter to Emily’s grandfather, it set off a course of events that turned Emily’s life around. On his death bed, he made Emily promise to take the lost letter and a whole boot box full of mail back to the woman who wrote them. Emily figured she’d hand the letters off to Clarice and get on down the road on her vacation but Madam Fate had a very different idea.
RT Book Reviews said that there is an old-world feel to the book that brings out the romantic in every reader. That’s what I was striving for when I wrote it. To go back to the time when letters were the mode of communication, back before cell phones and then to bring it all forward to today’s technology. Then to let Emily and Greg experience giving up texting, cell phones and all the modern day conveniences and go back to the art of writing letters. It was so much fun to write and I have to admit, brought back a lot of memories of my own experiences.
Shana: I love the mail order bride aspect of the book and the grandfather’s letter. Is there perhaps a secondary love story?
Carolyn Brown: I guess the first story is that letter and the effect it had on so many lives and maybe the secondary story is actually the main story in the book because of a lost letter. Emily and Greg find themselves searching for a way to trust each other and to overcome the problems of their own past. It’s all woven together like lives are in real life.
Shana: I love your story about how you started writing when your third child had days and nights mixed up. I did a lot of plotting (and I am not a plotter) while rocking Princess Galen. What made you go back to writing years later?
Carolyn Brown: It simply would not leave me alone. I’d put it away for five or ten years and then it would call my name and I’d have to pick it up again. The first book I wrote never sold. It has every conceivable problem in it that is possible. It could be used as a show-and-tell about how not to write. I had to get past the idea that it had to sell before I could write something else. When I did, I sold two books in one week.
Shana: Tell us a bit about your women’s fiction. I really enjoyed The Blue Ribbon Jalapeno Society Jubilee.
Carolyn Brown: I’m so excited about The Red-Hot Chili Cook-Off coming out in April. It’s the second in three books set in the fictional town of Cadillac, Texas. Carlene and her two cousins own the Bless My Bloomers plus size lingerie shop in Cadillac. Maybe just a little bit from the first will explain the book:
Some men are just born stupid. Some don’t get infected later in life but they’ll all get a case of it sometime. It’s in their DNA and can’t be helped.
Carlene could testify with her right hand raised to God and the left on the good book that her husband, Lenny, had been born with the disease and it had worsened with the years. Proof was held between her thumb and forefinger like a dead rat in the form of a pair of bikini underwear. They damn sure didn’t belong to her. Hells bells she couldn’t get one leg in those tiny little things. And they did not belong to Lenny, either. Even if he had become an overnight cross dresser, his ass wouldn’t fit into that skimpy pair of under britches, not even if he greased himself down with bacon drippings.
Shana: I love it! That’s a fabulous excerpt!! What do you do when you’re not writing? Where would we find you on a day off?
Carolyn Brown: Husband and I love to travel. Not world wide or international but road trips. I try to never write about a place I have not been so I do a lot of my traveling in Texas. Put on some country music and give me a notebook and I can do lots of note taking for the “next” book on a road trip.
Shana: Finally, tell us what you have coming next.
Carolyn Brown: The Red-Hot Chili Cook-Off is scheduled for April. Then after that it’s lining up like this: How to Marry a Cowboy, July; Long Hot Texas Summer, August; Cowboy Boots for Christmas (Cowboy not included), October; Daisies in the Desert, January and The Cowboy Clash, January. I think that might be enough to keep me so busy I won’t get into trouble for the rest of this year.
Shana: That is busy!!
Readers, now it’s your turn. Do you still write letters? Do you enjoy receiving them, or is letter writing a lost art? One reader who comments will be randomly chosen to win a copy of The Cowboy’s Mail Order Bride. Open to residents of the U.S. and Canada! The winner will be announced Sunday and contacted via email. Please leave your email in your comment!
Carolyn Brown is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author and a RITA finalist. Her books include historical, contemporary, cowboys and country music mass market paperbacks. She and her husband live in Davis, Oklahoma. They have three grown children and enough grandchildren to keep them young.
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