Hi, everyone! I’m so excited to welcome the lovely RITA Award-winning author Beth Andrews, who is here today to share her inspiration for her new Superromance, CHARMING THE FIREFIGHTER, and to talk about how
The Times They Are a-Changin’
So far, 2014 has been a doozy for my family. Little Sis (my younger daughter and youngest child) started her senior year of high school which means she and I have been busy visiting colleges and sending in applications. Big Sis (older daughter who is actually NOT bigger than her 5’8” baby sister) is in Columbus for her second year at Ohio State. And their big brother? Well, he’s been the busiest of all. In the span of eight months he got engaged, graduated from college, started a new job, moved into a townhouse, got married and moved again.
Did I mention the part where my son, my firstborn, my only boy, got married? My baby is a married man. It’s been a month and I’m still having trouble wrapping my head around that one. Wasn’t it just a few years ago that I birthed him? (I swear, those 75 pounds I gained were all baby)
Changed, bathed and fed him?
Kept him warm for those cold, Northwestern Pennsylvania winters.
Taught him the importance of pitching in with the yard work.
Why, it was just a few days ago we were wearing matching outfits and traipsing around in the woods.
And, of course, he learned the art of pulling off any hairstyle with aplomb from me (not to brag, but I did rock a mullet for a year back in the eighties).
Then, in the blink of an eye (or twenty-three years – same thing) my husband and I were escorting him down the aisle.
Now, he’s married to the love of his life, giving me another beautiful daughter!
Yes, there are plenty of changes afoot at my house (isn’t that the way of life?) and while those changes may take some getting used to, they should also be celebrated.
Change and the relationship between mother and son are two big themes in CHARMING THE FIREFIGHTER, my December release for Harlequin Superromance (like how I tied that together?) Single-mother Penelope Denning moved to small-town Shady Grove, Pennsylvania hoping to raise her son in a warm, safe environment. But when local firefighter Leo Montesano wants to build a future with her, she feels torn between him and her son.
“As in out on a date,” he clarified. Must be he sensed that her brain had ceased working the moment he’d stepped into the room. Then again, he was probably used to having that effect on women. The power of a pretty face knew no bounds. “Dinner. A movie. Or we could go into Pittsburgh, see a show.”
Her throat dried. She couldn’t feel her fingers, had to lock her knees to remain upright. Date? Him? Absurd. They were too different. He was too good-looking. Too smooth. Too young. Too…everything.
And she was afraid she wasn’t nearly enough.
She leaned her hip heavily against the desk. “I don’t think—”
“Or we could start slow. Have lunch. Or even coffee.” His voice dropped to a husky, sexy tone that could strip a woman of her inhibitions. And her good sense. “It doesn’t matter to me. Just a few hours. I’d like to get to know you better.”
She shut her eyes. Counted to ten. But when she opened them, he was still there, broad and earnest and, it seemed, completely sincere. “Why?”
The word hung in the air, bald and loud and yes, desperate sounding. Too bad. She wouldn’t take it back even if she could. She was too curious to hear his answer.
“Because I find you interesting.” He stood and stepped forward, his body and her own pride trapping her between him and her desk. “Because I’m attracted to you.”
Her breath locked in her chest. A thrill raced through her before she could stop it. He was attracted to her? That…that was impossible. Implausible. Incredible.
He edged even closer and she pressed against the desk, the rounded edge digging into the back of her thighs. “How about it, Penelope?” he asked, drawing her name out as if savoring each syllable. He trailed the tip of his forefinger up her forearm, his light touch like a flame along her skin. “Go out with me?”
Dear Lord, but he smelled wonderful, a mix of citrus and spice that made her want to breathe him in. And when he smiled at her, his eyes dark with intent, she wanted to believe in fairy tales. Wanted to believe in foolish dreams.
But fairy tales were for children. And dreams were for people who didn’t know better. She wasn’t some naive girl waiting for a handsome prince to sweep in and make her life complete. She was a mature, sensible woman with a teenage son who needed her time and full attention.
A mature, sensible woman who was wise enough to know when she was in over her head. Leo flustered her, and she hated being flustered. She doubted that feeling would ever go away, even if they went on a hundred dates. She needed to be the one in control. She liked knowing what the right thing to do and say was, and with him, she wasn’t sure she’d ever have that ability again.
“No,” she said, her voice firm. “Absolutely not.”
I’m giving away three copies of CHARMING THE FIREFIGHTER! Just leave a comment telling me the biggest change in your life recently or your idea of a dream date. Winners will be drawn at random and announced on Sunday.
When Romance Writers of America RITA® Award winning author Beth Andrews was a young wife, she started a gas grill with the lid down. The small explosion left her with singed hair and a life-long respect for propane. While no handsome firefighters came to her rescue that day, she will never forget that particular incident. Mainly because her husband reminds her of it every summer.
Learn more about Beth and her books by visiting her website, www.BethAndrews.net or her Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/BethAndrewsBooks.
Do you take Facebook quizzes? I can’t resist them, even the dumb ones. (“Which Finger Are You?” comes to mind.)
Last night, when I should have been writing this blog, I saw a quiz posted on a friend’s timeline: “What One Word Describes You?” Well, I had to take it, right? It featured two of my favorite subjects—words, and me.
My word turned out to be IMPULSIVE.
Now, I’m not going to delve into the philosophical/semantic/moral issues of whether “impulsive” is just a euphemism for “undisciplined.” I’m going to stick to the meaning the test was using. It describes the “impulsive” person as one who likes “to live in the moment” and tends “to be a pretty big thrill seeker.”
At first I thought, heck, yeah! That sounds like a fun word to be! I’m impulsive, and therefore delightful, charismatic, flexible, spontaneous…
But…woah…hang on, there. I would love to meet that cool person, but I am never in this lifetime going to be that cool person.
And yet, something in the word still rings true. So, impulsively, I decided to mull it over a bit, instead of writing this blog. And here’s what I figured out.
I simply can’t thrive on a life that has no excitement, no surprises, no spontaneity, no risk. I feel as if I’m smothering on my own boredom if I go too long between adventures. I adore an adrenalin rush and secretly think bungee jumping looks awesome. I long to encounter a ghost somewhere. Anywhere. Overplanning a trip makes me want to chew off my own toes. Even packing gets on my nerves.
On the other hand, if you make me do weird, dangerous, stupid, reckless or terrifying things every day, I’m outta here. I was taught by nuns, raised by a Puritan, and I have a highly evolved survival instinct. I’m a keeper, a clinger—if I ever loved you, I love you still. If I ever hated you, probably ditto. To me, Change seems like another word for Loss. If you took away my lovely, dependable routine, I’d be a basket case in a week.
So… Does that mean I’m…well, nuts? No, but it definitely means I’m tricky. Luckily, I can be managed. Here’s the perfect solution, which I came up with when I should have been writing this blog.
1) Schedule impulsive activities maybe six to seven times per year.
2) Ideally, introduce activities approximately every other month, although some variation in intervals is desirable, to avoid rendering the impulsive predictable.
3) Activities must fall in middle of risk-range.
Note: Acceptable range includes anything from 3.3 (mainstream adventures with little to no physical risk, such as roller coasters, palm readings, impromptu road trips, or binge-watching Revenge all weekend)
to 7.7 (fringe activities with a moderate risk of physical harm and/or incarceration, such as bungee jumping, casino gambling, stalking Daniel Day Lewis, or strip poker).
Obviously, any activities ranked too low on the scale (2.1: rolling stop at red light) or too high (9.3: caves) are not eligible.
So that’s me. What about you? Are you impulsive? If you’ve taken that test, what’s your word? I’m giving away an e-copy of any one of my available books to one randomly chosen poster!
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.
I once read that every writer has a signature theme, a theme that shows up in almost every book.
Your theme, the article said, can probably be expressed in one line, if you dig deep enough.
At first, I thought that couldn’t possibly be true. Not about me! My stories may all be romances, I assured myself, but within that they are diverse, as different from one another as winter from summer, dawn from twilight. I’m special.
Oops…not so fast. As I was writing my Bell River Ranch series, I realized I do have a recurring theme. I even know a single line that expresses it perfectly.
The line is from an old country song about a man who wants to help a broken-hearted woman find happiness, but she won’t forget the past. He compares it to rescuing a drowning person.
“If I’m ever going to save you,” he says, “let go of the stone.”
This is my theme! Maybe it just took my Bell River Ranch series to make me recognize it. The theme is front and center for all the Wright sisters. They were traumatized years ago when their father killed their mother, and they haven’t trusted men – or love – since.
But, when I looked at my other books through that prism, I discovered it everywhere. I guess that’s because, bottom line, I believe all of life is really a variation on that theme.
The humiliations, the insecurities, the failures. The strict father, the smothering mother, the mean girl, the boy who broke our hearts… The mistakes, the regrets, the missed opportunities… The shy years, the wild years, the lost years…
We carry them around like a ball and chain, often letting our past get in the way of moving forward. Even if we’re lucky enough to meet the perfect person to love us back to happiness, they can’t help us if we don’t let go of the stone.
What about you? Either as a reader or as a writer, is there a theme you are drawn to, over and over? Is there a line, from a song or a book or a friend, so full of wisdom you can’t forget it?
I’m giving away a copy of my upcoming SECRETS OF BELL RIVER, a May Superromance, to two random commenters today.
Our spam filter is a bit touchy lately, and we’re working on that. In the meantime, be assured that Jaunty P. Quills will liberate your comments!
My mom died when I was in my early 20s. She and my dad had been married for nearly 27 years. My father, who was young for a widower, was bereft. We all were, but while my brother and I had our lives ahead of us, my dad had lost his best friend, his partner and soulmate. Never one to give up, about a year later, he started going to a support group for widows and widowers. Little did he know when he joined, that group would not only help him deal with his unspeakable grief, it would prepare him to love again and lead him to the next love of his life.
The woman who would eventually become his second wife (and I must add that I couldn’t have hand-picked a better stepmom) was in that same group. She’d recently lost her husband of decades and had turned to the “Rebounders” for help, too. It was so beautiful to watch two brokenhearted people become whole again and take a second chance at love. While neither could “replace” the other’s first spouse (or my natural mother or my step-siblings’ natural father), our families became whole again, too.
Their story of the healing power of love was the spark for my new book CELEBRATION’S FAMILY. My hero, Dr. Liam Thayer, lost his wife in a tragic accident. While my heroine, Kate Macintyre had never married, she’d still experienced more than her share of personal loss. Just when it seemed like life was at its darkest, they met and love lit the way to a brighter future together.
Just to be clear, my stepmom never goaded my dad into participating in a bachelor auction as Kate persuades Liam (Thank God! I must admit I probably wouldn’t have been as gung-ho about the idea as Liam’s little daughters are in the book. Come on, guys, this is my dad were talking about!). But the healing power of love is at the heart of both CELEBRATION’S FAMILY and my parents’ story. I hope it’s something we can all count on in our darkest hour.
Do you have your own “power of love” story? Or can you think of a movie or book that celebrates healing love? Or just tell me what you think of how they depicted Liam on the cover. Isn’t he gorgeous?! I’ll give away a copy of CELEBRATION’S FAMILY to TWO people who comment.
RT Book Reviews gave CELEBRATION’S FAMILY 4 stars and said, “Thompson’s broken, heartwarming couple are engrossing as they find love after tragedy in this terrific installment in the Celebrations miniseries. Supporting characters like the chocolitier /matchmaker will charm, and the doctor’s twin girls add the perfect “aww!” factor.”