Happy New Year!
I can’t believe it’s 2016. Last year went by like a bullet train. It seems like just a few weeks ago I was fortunate to join five fabulous authors — Allison Leigh, Stella Bagwell, Karen Rose Smith, Michelle Major, and Judy Duarte — to write the 2016 Harlequin Special Edition’s Fortunes of Texas continuity. It’s always a fun project because it’s a treat to collaborate with friends. But this year it’s extra special because it’s the twentieth anniversary of the beloved Fortunes series.
It’s hard to believe that after all the hard work and anticipation, the first book in the All Fortune’s Children series has finally hit the shelves. More on that after I tell you a little bit about the series as a whole.
After two decades, Fortune’s Children live on…If you’re a Fortunes of Texas fan, this year, you’ll reunite with some old friends and meet a potential new branch of Fortunes who live in Austin, Texas. If you’re new to the series, now is the perfect time to jump in. Each book stands alone, but harkens back to past years. You’ll be able to join the party no matter which book you pick up first.
A great place to start is with Allison Leigh’s Fortune’s Secret Heir. Allison kicks off the anniversary celebration with the first book in All Fortune’s Children, the 2016 series. I’m so pleased she could join us today to get this party started.
Nancy Robards Thompson: Welcome, Allison! I’m so happy you could join us. Tell us about the hero of Fortune’s Secret Heir? Why will we fall in love with him?
Allison Leigh: Ben Robinson is the hero of Fortune’s Secret Heir and I hope readers will fall for him the same way that I did—because I’m a sucker for a powerfully confident hero who’s hiding a marshmallow interior. He thinks he has his finger on the pulse of his world, only to have learned recently that he just might not.
NRT: Tell us about the heroine. Why is she the absolute perfect woman for the hero?
AL: Ella Thomas is perfect for Ben because she sees the world without the cynicism that the wealthy Ben possesses. Aside from the chemistry between them, she provides a soft place for his heart.
NRT: Since this book is part of Harlequin Special Edition’s Fortunes of Texas twentieth anniversary celebration, tell us about your experience writing connected stories with other authors.
AL: This is the first book in the 6-book continuity, The Fortunes of Texas: All Fortune’s Children. I’ve been extremely fortunate in having been involved with several Fortunes of Texas miniseries, and it’s a little like coming home with each one. I get to work with fabulous authors again, and also meet the newcomers to each miniseries. It’s always exhilarating.
NRT: What was your favorite scene to write?
AL: My favorite scenes to write in Fortune’s Secret Heir were the ones set in Boston. My husband and I visited there a few years go and really had a fabulous time. It was fun to revisit through Ben’s and Ella’s eyes.
NRT: What was the most difficult scene for you to write?
AL: The hardest scene is the end. Because I’m not always ready to say goodbye to these people who’ve become my friends along the way.
Stay tuned between now and June, because each month one of the authors from the Fortunes of Texas: All Fortune’s Children series will stop by the JQ blog for a visit. Here’s how the lineup looks:
Stella Bagwell, author of Fortune’s Perfect Valentine (paperback available January 19, 2016) visits the Jaunty Quills on February 1.
Karen Rose Smith, author of Fortune’s Secret Husband (paperback available February 23, 2016) visits the Jaunty Quills on March 4.
Michelle Major, author of Fortune’s Special Delivery (paperback available March 22, 2016 ) visits the Jaunty Quills on April 1.
Nancy Robards Thompson – I’ll blog about my book, Fortune’s Prince Charming (paperback available April 19, 2016 ), on April 19.
Judy Duarte, author of Wed by Fortune (paperback available May 24, 2016) visits the Jaunty Quills on May 27.
In addition, our fearless leader, Harlequin Editor Susan Litman, will stop by to give you special insight into what happens behind the scenes of a series like All Fortune’s Children. Watch the JQ “Events” sidebar for specific details.
Now, for some prizes — Do you like on-going series like the Fortune’s of Texas? What’s your favorite book series? In celebration of the Fortune’s 20th anniversary, I will give away an e-copy of my 2015 Fortune’s of Texas book My Fair Fortune to THREE people who comment. Winners will be announced Sunday, January 10.
About Allison: A frequent name on bestseller lists, Allison Leigh’s highpoint as a writer is hearing from readers that they laughed, cried or lost sleep while reading her books. She’s blessed with an immensely patient family who doesn’t mind (much) her time spent at her computer and who gives her the kind of love she wants her readers to share in every page. Stay in touch at www.allisonleigh.com, @allisonleighbks, and facebook.com/allisonleighbks
Thank you Jaunty Quills for letting me visit your fab blog! Welcome to the second half of November! Hope you’ve done everything you wanted to do before the holidays hit. When I say holidays, I’m including Thanksgiving which will be here in a few days. Are you screaming yet? I hope not, but if you are, I can offer you a nice royal escape to a safe island in the Mediterranean with A PRINCESS UNDER THE MISTLETOE. It’s available NOW!
This book features a princess and her sister who have been banished from their kingdom due to rough economic times. Their lives have been threatened, so they must assume new temporary identities. Princess Sasha becomes Nanny Sara to widower Gavin Sinclair’s young son and baby girl. Despite Sara’s best efforts, she finds herself falling not only for the children, but for Gavin, too. But this is temporary and what will happen when Gavin learns who she really is?
One of the more fun scenes in this book was inspired by my precious great-niece who got bored during her naptime. Anyone who’s ever taken care of a toddler knows that boredom can be messy. As you can see in this photo, my great-niece creatively took care of her boredom. (Now for the clean-up, Mom!) In my book, the three-year old took a green marker to himself and his 6-month old sister, explaining his action by saying, “I’m a frog because I’m fast and Adelaide is a turtle because she’s slow.” (Now for the clean-up, Nanny!)
Do you have a fun story about what a child did while you were caring for him or her? Or maybe even a pet story? Please share in the comments. I’ll draw one commenter’s name to receive a $15.00 Amazon gift card. If you get a chance to read A PRINCESS UNDER THE MISTLETOE, please write me at leannebbb @ aol.com (no spaces). I’d love to hear from you!
Woo-hoo! Today is paperback release day for HIS TEXAS CHRISTMAS BRIDE (the e-book will be available November 1)! Book birthdays never get old for me. However, usually by the time release day rolls around, I’m hard at work on another book. Or in this case, I’m just finishing one. Typed THE END yesterday, I’m reading it over today, and I’ll send it to my editor tomorrow.
Since I’ve been so immersed in my current work-in-progress, I’m almost ashamed to admit that I had to go back and get reacquainted with the hero and heroine of HIS TEXAS CHRISTMAS BRIDE. It was fun and it made me remember why I fell in love with Nick and Becca in the first place.
In that spirit, I thought I’d share eight fun facts about HIS TEXAS CHRISTMAS BRIDE to help you get acquainted with the story.
1. It’s book nine in my Celebrations, Inc. series. Each book stands alone. You can read them in any order.
2. I modeled the hero, Dr. Nick Ciotti, after Adam Levine.
3. I modeled the heroine, Becca Flannigan, after Lily Collins.
4. If you’ve read my other Celebrations books, you might remember Becca from the book A Celebration Christmas.
5. There’s a corgi in the book named Priscilla. She’s modeled after my own corgi, Samantha.
6. I’ve modeled downtown Celebration, Texas after the downtown area in my home town Winter Park Florida. “What?” you ask. “Aren’t Florida and Texas two completely different animals? They might be, but they both share that close-knit, small town feel.
7. Nick is the new doctor in town. So, he asks Becca to show him something that is most typical of Celebration. Becca takes him to the Friday night high school football game because the entire town always turns out to cheer for the team.
8. RT Book Reviews gave HIS TEXAS CHRISTMAS BRIDE 4 1/2 stars and said, ”…Love conquers all in this fantastic, emotional Christmas story. Thompson’s poignant page-turning dialogue is intimate and informative. Her spectacular, stupefied prospective parents who find love in spite of both their dysfunctional family issues are marvelous.”
I know it’s early to talk about the holidays, but since this is a Christmas themed book, tell me your favorite holiday tradition. Or, if it’s just too early to think about Thanksgiving and Christmas, tell me your favorite thing about your community. I’ll give a copy of HIS TEXAS CHRISTMAS BRIDE to one person who posts.
In my new book HOW TO MARRY A DOCTOR (July 2015 Harlequin Special Edition) Dr. Jake Lenox and his life-long best friend, Anna Adams, make a bet that that they can find each other’s soul mates within five dates.
Jake said, “…Let’s agree that the first one who succeeds in making a match for the other wins.”
Anna wrinkled her nose. “Knowing you, you’ll let a good woman go just to win the challenge. You’re so competitive.”
“But if you think about it,” he said, “who will be the real winner? One will win the bet, but the other will win love.”
Little do they know, their soul mates have been right in front of them all along.
Friends-to-lovers story is one of my favorite kinds to write. I love the idea of a man and a woman building a relationship on a foundation of friendship. There’s something so solid about it since they’ve gotten to know each other from the inside out.
In celebration of Jake and Anna’s five dates to “true love,” here are five behind-the-scenes facts about the story:
1. Kate Walsh and Jake Gyllenhaal were the inspiration for Anna and Jake.
2. In the story, Anna drives a yellow VW Beetle. That was my first car – and it didn’t have air conditioning.
3. Dr. Jake Lennox makes a brief appearance in my bachelor auction book, CELEBRATION’S FAMILY.
4. I make a Pinterest board for each book I write and pin pictures of my characters, their clothing, the book’s setting and anything else that might serve as a visual for the story. Before the book is published, Harlequin authors have to complete an “art fact sheet” for the art department to use when they’re designing the cover. I usually send them links to the pictures I pin during the course of the book.
5. Before Jake and Anna discover that they’re each other’s perfect match, they had to go on some bad blind dates. I may or may not have drawn on personal experience for a couple of the dates poor Jake and Anna endured. Haha! Hey, you have to kiss a few frogs before you find your prince, right?
Have you kissed (or simply dated) any frogs? Tell me about your worst or best date and I’ll give two people who post a copy of HOW TO MARRY A DOCTOR (e-book or print, your choice) so you can read about my –er– Jake’s and Anna’s bad dates.
My latest release, MY FAIR FORTUNE, hits the shelves today!
This book is part of Harlequin Special Edition’s long-running Fortunes of Texas series. The 2015 series is called Fortunes of Texas: Cowboy Country. I was so honored to be part of this series because it meant that I had the great fortune of collaborating with five other fabulous women I genuinely like and whose work I admire.
Fortunes of Texas: Cowboy Country series takes place in Horseback Hollow where the beloved Fortunes and Mendozas must come to terms with change when a large western-themed amusement park moves in and threatens to tear the fabric of their close-knit community. It’s such a fun series and I felt particularly at home working on it because I live in Central Florida, the theme park capital of the US.
I thought you might like to know a little bit about what goes on behind the scenes of a series like the Fortunes of Texas. When you have six authors with vivid imaginations and a love of the written word, you can imagine that it takes some coordinating to make sure we are all on the same page – both figuratively and literally.
All of the Fortunes books are connected, but each stands alone. If you come into the series with, say, MY FAIR FORTUNE, which is book five in this series, it will make perfect sense if you haven’t read the first five books, but it’s also fun to see how the books are connected if you read all of them in order. In fact, Debbie Haupt reviewed MY FAIR FORTUNE for RT Book Club magazine and said, “… (Robards Thompson) gives us enough of a series catch up for this to stand alone ….”
But I’m getting ahead of myself. Why don’t we start at the very beginning of the process – nearly a year before the books hit the shelves.
When the authors sign on to write a Fortunes book, the editor who oversees the series sends each author a “continuity bible.” This document contains a basic sketch of the series and the over arcing storyline and a brief bio on characters past and present. Harlequin gives us a basic idea of who our characters are and a very general idea of the plot, but it’s up to the authors to flesh out the story and bring it to life.
One of the first things we do after receiving the bible is set up a chat loop so that the authors can communicate and brainstorm to make sure the storylines don’t contradict each other.
After the preliminary brainstorming, but before we settle in to write the books, each author prepares a proposal for the editor so she can see our plans for the stories. While the authors are responsible for their own books, the brave continuity editor has the job of making sure all of the stories flow right into each other and that the characters remain consistent. Each author has a hero and heroine and a central love story, but the heroes and heroines of the other books in the Fortunes series usually figure prominently throughout the series/in the other books. The editor makes sure that each of the authors stays true to the characters. For example, if the author of book one has written it so her heroine has a deathly fear of snakes, the editor makes sure in the other books the heroine isn’t featured as a secondary character who, say, likes to charm snakes in a side show at the Cowboy Country amusement park. Okay, I made that up, but you see where I’m going.
Jaunty Quill Cindy Kirk wrote the second book in the Cowboy Country series and as it turned out, our heroes were brothers. Cindy and I worked closely to make sure we each remained true to the characters. In fact, since her book came out in first, I asked her to plant something in her book – a situation that set up my hero getting the job he lands in book five of the series.
Once the editor approves our initial proposals, we each set to work on our books, but we pay close attention to the chat loop in case any of the authors have questions. When I wrote my book, I worked closely with Michelle Major, author of book four, because her hero is a secondary character in my book.
Our deadlines are staggered so that all six books don’t land on the editor’s desk at once. She reads (and edits) them in order and makes sure we’ve crossed all of our t’s and dotted all of our i’s. Not too long after that, the series is available (one book each month from January-June).
What do you think of this? Do you enjoy reading connected books or books in a series?
If so, what’s your favorite series?
I will choose three winners from those who post to win a copy of MY FAIR FORTUNE.
RT Book Reviews gives MY FAIR FORTUNE 4 stars and says:
…Thompson shows us what happens when you pair up a Chicago zoologist and a workaholic Brit in a small Texas town, and it’s quite funny. Her depiction of the tight knit community and family dysfunction was impressive, plus she gives us enough of a series catch up for this to stand alone as well.
UNBUTTONING THE BRIT…
In the business world, Brodie Fortune Hayes is known as a man of no mercy. The all-work, no-play PR consultant is sure he’ll have no trouble correcting the image problems plaguing the Cowboy Country theme park. There’s just one complication: the green-eyed beauty sitting behind the boss’s desk who makes his pulse race like a roller coaster!
Caitlyn Moore never imagined working side by side with Brodie after sharing a most out-of-character night of passion with him a few months before! And now, thanks to her dad’s absence-by-illness, she’s his boss? Brodie’s bottom-line mentality is as infuriating as his blue bedroom eyes are intoxicating—but Cait is convinced that there’s a heart lurking beneath his designer armor. Perhaps she can prove to him that love is the greatest Fortune of all…