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.
Who was your first hero?
Like a lot of young girls, my first hero was my father. One of my earliest memories is when I was a very young child and my dad was carrying me into the house from the car. We’d been on a long trip; it was night time. I buried my head against his shoulder and he carried me and there was simply no better place in the world. He has been a military man, a half-dozen other things it seems, including a private pilot and flight instructor…and he still rides a motorcycle. (Of course, the older we all get, including me—with fully grown children of my own–the more that last point just simply amazes and scares the bejabbers out of me!) When I was young, Mom was the one with the quicker temper, but Dad was the one who could merely tilt down his eyeglasses and peer at me over the top, and reduce me to misery. One glance. All it took. It’s been a lot of years since I needed to have that one glance from Dad, but I have a strong hunch it would still be pretty darn effective. He’s a man of incredible patience who worked with his hands, checked our tires, came to my rescue more than once with most of the pathetic vehicles I’ve owned as a young woman. He called my mom “Honey” so frequently that my older brother called her that, too, for a while when he was a little boy. Dad was often gone for work—always taking care of his family—and always was the rock of my childhood, and probably every hero I’ve ever written has had a piece of my father in him.
So when it came to writing Fortune’s Perfect Match, whose hero, Max Allen, is a flying enthusiast, it was a whole lot of fun to pick my dad’s brain about flying. He doesn’t get behind the wheel (maybe that should be rudder?) anymore, but it’s all still in his head, and I suspect, his heart. Both of my parents have often been a resource for some detail I need about life out on a farm—city girl, here!—or some other area, but this time, it was more than just a detail. It was pages and pages of notes and long conversations; I dearly loved it; and once again, my father the hero, came through.
I’ve married a hero of my own. He holds my hand and he can slay me with a single glance, eyeglasses or no. Most of all, he makes me laugh, and makes me glad that I had Dad’s example to look for, so I could recognize a gem when I found him.
Growing up, Allison wasn’t overly thrilled moving from one home in one state to another and another and another. By the time her family settled in Arizona, however, she came to learn that each experience—from the orange grove-scented air of Southern California to the wild beauty of Wyoming, from the verdant land of Minnesota to the inexplicable appeal of the Arizona desert—proved wonderfully useful when it came to letting her imagination run riot while putting pen to paper. She continues to make her home in Arizona with her husband and family, whom she credits with remarkable patience for the hours she spends parked in front of her computer, and more importantly, for blessing her life with the kind of love and happiness that she wants her readers to continue sharing with the characters living in the pages of her books. She loves hearing from her readers at Allison@allisonleigh.com or PO Box 40772, Mesa AZ 85274-0772.
I’m a quote collector. I love stumbling across a quip or a pondering that strikes a chord. It probably started back when I was a kid and my mother – trying to help me loosen my mind-grip on whatever was troubling me – offered the Prayer of Serenity. Now, I have the saying taped to my computer and refer to it when I’m struggling with something I have no control over. Sometimes it’s my saving grace.
Another of my favorite quote comes from the philosopher Voltaire: “Perfect is the enemy of very good.” It serves as a gentle reminder when I’m having trouble letting go of something … say, a book I’m writing… because it’s not quite there yet…. Sometimes I want to stop – or worse yet, not even start- because I can’t get it as perfect as I think it should be. Then I remember, it will never be perfect, because nothing is perfect. Perfect is, indeed, the enemy of very good.
Jordana Fortune, the heroine of my latest book, FORTUNE’S UNEXPECTED GROOM – book five in Harlequin’s latest Fortune’s of Texas series, would’ve benefitted from Voltaire’s little ditty. In her quest for perfection – being the perfect daughter; cultivating the perfect life; finding perfect love– she almost misses out on “living” altogether. That is, until fate blows her right into the arms of Tanner Redmond and turns her entire belief system upside down.
Along their journey, Tanner and Jordana realize that the most perfect kind of love is imperfect; it encourages a person to be herself and knows that even on those very human bad days there’s a safe haven in the forgiveness of unconditional love… which reminds me of another favorite quote from Marilyn Monroe: “I’m selfish, impatient and a little insecure. I make mistakes, I am out of control, and at times hard to handle. But if you can’t handle me at my worst, you sure don’t deserve me at my best.”
Those are words we can all remember when we’re feeling less than perfect.
Do you have a favorite quote? If so, please share it with us. Each person who comments will be entered in a drawing to win a copy of FORTUNE’S UNEXPECTED GROOM.
Be sure to check out all six books in the newest Fortunes of Texas: Whirlwind Romance series
FORTUNE’S CINDERELLA – by Karen Templeton
FORTUNE’S VALENTINE BRIDE – by Marie Ferrarella
MENDOZA’S MIRACLE – by Judy Duarte
FORTUNE’S HERO – by Susan Crosby
FORTUNE’S UNEXPECTED GROOM – by Nancy Robards Thompson
Coming in June 2012
FORTUNE’S PERFECT MATCH – by Allison Leigh
The Jaunty Quills are thrilled to welcome Susan Crosby to the sisterhood today. She and I are chatting about her new book, FORTUNE’S HERO, the fourth book in the latest Harlequin Special Edition series, Fortunes of Texas – Whirlwind Romance.
Nancy Robards Thompson: Welcome, Susan! Please tell us about your latest book.
Susan Crosby: FORTUNE’S HERO has an older hero and younger heroine who are such complete opposites you’d never think they could end up with a happily ever after. Garrett Stone rescues Victoria Fortune after she’s crushed in the aftermath of a tornado, then he disappears into thin air. Victoria never gets to thank him, so a few months later she goes in search of her unsung hero. Garrett thinks he’s perfectly content with his life. He and the many stray animals who come or are brought to him on his ranch are content together. They don’t need a woman around. But even his dogs start to favor the lively Victoria, and Garrett can’t fight his feelings forever.
NRT: What life lessons do the hero and heroine of FORTUNE’S HERO learn before they earn their happily ever after?
SC: Victoria learns about true passion, not just for the man she comes to love but for a particular, satisfying kind of work in a world vastly different from what she’s known all her life. Garrett learns he can count on another person. This is huge for him.
NRT: Why will readers enjoy this story?
SC: Garrett is an old-fashioned cowboy, a modern day knight in shining armor—and he wants no gratitude from the woman whose life he saved. How Victoria wriggles her way into his life leaves him baffled, amused and ultimately deeply in love.
NRT: That sounds fabulous, Susan! I can see why readers will love it, but what will they enjoy the Fortunes of Texas series as a whole?
SC: I personally love the Fortunes, the whole continuity of family and all it entails—support, criticism and a love you can count on, no matter what–unconditional but also honest.
NRT: They sound like quite a bunch! On another note, what’s a typical writing day like for you?
SC: I start early in the day because I’m a morning person. I’m generally done by 2:00, which gives me time for other things. I begin by reading what I wrote the day before and making changes, if necessary, then move into new material. When I stop, I almost always write a few sentences about what happens next so that I have a place to start the next day. It’s rare for me to work on Saturday, and never on Sunday.
NRT: What was your path to becoming a romance writer?
SC: I read THE FLAME AND THE FLOWER by Kathleen E. Woodiwiss in my late 20s. That fueled the fire for me. I wrote a few historical romances just for fun, then abandoned that to return to college in my 30s. After an 8-year pursuit of a bachelors degree in English, as well as raising a family, I got serious about writing for publication. By then I was more interested in writing contemporary romance. I went to book signings and talked to authors. I read like crazy. Then I sold the 2nd book I wrote—because I’d done so much preparation in advance, I felt.
NRT: What advice do you have for aspiring romance writers?
SC: Writing is a learned skill. Yes, you have to be a good storyteller, first and foremost, but the mechanics of writing is a skill you develop. I had no idea was conflict was when I started. I thought it meant fighting, and I didn’t like fighting. Then I learned that conflict drives the whole story. What is keeping this couple apart now? More important, what could keep them apart forever? How those conflicts get resolved in a believable way is the biggest challenge.
FORTUNE’S HERO is my 36th book, and my fourth Fortune continuity. I love revisiting the Fortune family as much as I love creating my own fictional families.
Thanks for joining us, Susan!
Please leave a comment or ask Susan a question for a chance to win a copy of FORTUNE’S HERO.
Award-winning, nationally ranked #1 bestselling author Susan Crosby began writing in 1992 and made her first sale a year and a half later to Silhouette Books, a division of Harlequin Books. She was selected as their Premiere Author, which is their “rising star,” for Silhouette Desire for her first novel, The Mating Game, released in 1994.
She has since published 35 more novels, including the current FORTUNE’S HERO for Harlequin Special Edition.
Susan has made the USA Today and Borders best-seller lists, and has been nominated for or won every major romance award, including having one of her books, His Seductive Revenge, named by Romantic Times magazine to their Top 400 Romance Novels of the past 2 decades, a list culled from 25,000 books.