Initially, I was going to blog about my new book, FALLING FOR FORTUNE. I really love this story. It’s book five in the current Fortunes of Texas series. It features Christopher Fortune Jones, a tortured hero who is suffering an identity crisis, and Kinsley Aaron, a strong level-headed heroine, who helps him find himself.
But then something funny happened on the way to the blog. My daughter and I found ourselves cast as the strong, level-headed heroines of our own story — or at least we were trying to be. Please let me tell you about it.
We moved College Girl home from school for the summer on Monday. The Norwegian drove the U-Haul. College Girl and I drove her car home. The entire day, everything went like clockwork. She had done a great job getting mostly packed. What wasn’t packed was nicely organized. In no time at all we were ready to head for home. The only thing was she had conveniently forgotten to fill up the car with gas. Imagine that.
She and I stopped at the gas station before we got on the highway. Since she is a princess, I paid for and pumped the fuel. Of course. Really, I didn’t mind because she’s a pretty good kid and I was so glad to see her. We had so much catching up to do. She rolled down the window to talk to me as I gassed up the car. Mid-conversation, she shrieked and jumped up on her seat, yanked off her flip flop and started pounding the passenger side floor.
“What are you doing?” I asked.
“A bug! A bug! A bug! A great big palmetto bug just flew in here!”
“Oh. Ew. Really??”
Who knows what a palmetto bug is? Those of you who do probably also said, “Oh. Ew. Really??”
For those of you who don’t know…imagine the biggest cockroach you’ve ever seen. Now put wings on it and give it fearless flying superpowers. They fly at anything. I think they’re attracted to screaming and flailing arms.
**Note: I just Googled palmetto bug and discovered that the AVERAGE size is around 1.6 inches long. College Girl swore the one that flew at her was gargantuan. That’s what they look like. And don’t forget they fly. —>
She climbed out of the car.
“Did you get it?” I asked.
“No? How could you miss? I thought it was gargantuan?”
“It WAS. And it climbed up behind the glove compartment.”
“Oh. Ew. Really?”
“I think so,” she said. “Because I don’t know where it went.”
I climbed onto the front passenger seat, armed with her flip flop and a pizza special door hanger. With my butt in the air, I slapped and poked around until I was sure that the bug wasn’t in the car. Five or ten minutes later (how can you measure time at a moment like this?) I realized that the bug probably wasn’t coming out – maybe it crawled out into the engine – and guy at the pump next to us was watching us intently.
And he was laughing.
“Need some help?” he asked.
Clearly, he found our predicament amusing. The nerve.
“No, I think we’re good,” I said.
College Girl suggested we start the car to see if the sound and heat of the engine would drive it out. That’s when I remembered the time I saw a gecko in my car and recalled how it disappeared, never to be seen again. That was years ago and I never found the lizard – dead or alive.
“I’ll bet the bug got out,” I said. ”Those nasty things can squeeze through a tiny crack. Besides, we can’t spend the night here at the gas station. Don’t you think we should go?”
So, we set off, both acutely aware of the fugitive flying roach.
“So, do you think we should make a plan just in case the bug comes out?” College Girl asked. “Just in case it flies out when we’re on the interstate. So that we don’t freak out and have a wreck?”
Oh, dear God.
“Not a bad idea,” I said, suddenly having visions of us traveling on the crowded highway, and the bug either flying at me as I drove, or making its way over to the driver’s side, dropping onto my ankle and crawling up my pants leg.
Are you mentally doing the “icked-out dance of repulsion” as you read this?
I reminded myself over and over again that I could NOT – under any circumstance – do that dance. Even if the bug flew at me and landed on my nose as I drove. If I freaked out, it could cause a deadly crash. That thought instantly sobered me. Do any of you remember the blog I posted a year ago about our headlights going out on the way home from one of College Girl’s school concerts? This is the same scary highway.
So, we spent the next bit of time devising “the bug evacuation plan.”
If the bug appeared, we would both remain CALM. College Girl would CALMLY say the word, “Bug.” There would be no screaming. No swatting. No swerving. And definitely no impromptu “icked-out dances of repulsion.” She would CALMLY roll down the windows (so that it could fly out if it was so inclined). I would CALMLY keep both hands on the wheel and both eyes on the road and SLOWLY guide the car over to the shoulder. Then I would remain CALM and NOT jump out into the path of an oncoming car as I hopped into the “icked-out dances of repulsion.” I would CALMLY let myself out, being mindful of oncoming cars, and get well into the grass, then I was free to break into the dance.
We both laughed and acknowledged that if we had such a plan in place that the bug, who was probably winging its way around the gas station back in her college town, would never emerge. Hahaha!
About an hour into our trip, College Girl gasped. In her quiet, CALM hysteria, she might’ve even uttered a word that is not normally in her vocabulary. All this mama heard was a composed, “Bug.”
Keeping my eyes on the road and both hands on the wheel, I said, “Oh! Ew. Really?”
She did not roll down the windows. Instead, she started beating the ever living daylights out of the passenger side floor mat.
“Got it,” she said.
“Really?” I hadn’t even had a chance to pull off onto the side of the road.
“Good job,” I said.
We agreed that we would stop at the next exit, which happened to have a Dunkin Donuts, and dispose of the evidence and then reward ourselves for remaining so calm in the face of danger.
I would like to celebrate our level-headed victory with you. Tell me if you’ve ever had a situation where you remained calm even though it would’ve been very easy to freak out. What did you do? Or what would you have done if you’d been in our car? Would you have stayed in the college town until the bug emerged (keeping in mind that it might not have crawled out as fast as it had flown in) or would you have gotten on the highway? Five people who post on this blog will each receive a copy of my new book, FALLING FOR FORTUNE.
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.