I was so excited to be invited to participate in Montana Born Books summer fair series. I’d already fallen in love with Marietta while reading the earlier series that have been set there and even though Marietta, Montana, is a fictional town it certainly felt quite real to me as a reader. Bringing that reality to my novella was a challenge but the great team of gals who write for Tule Publishing were super supportive and I had a world of fun exploring Pinterest for photos of my hippie chick heroine, her taciturn cowboy and the beautiful setting of Montana.
So what happens when a hippie chick meets a cowboy? Sparks fly, that’s what.
“Life is simple for Booth Lange–work hard, save hard, stay out of trouble–until Willow Phillips arrives in Marietta and turns his entire world upside down. The superstitious hippie is everything he can’t stand—transient, careless, and trouble with a capital T. He wants her out of town before she can upset more than his equilibrium, and yet, he can’t seem to stay away or keep his hands off her.
‘Willow, retracing her late mother’s journey through Montana twenty-seven years ago, has one goal. To meet Willow’s father. Maybe then she can face the life-altering decision that awaits her. But meeting her father proves more elusive than she anticipated, and just why is Booth Lange so determined to drive her out of town?’
I hope you’ll enjoy reading about Booth and Willow’s journey to love, I know I enjoyed every minute of writing it and I look forward to releasing more stories with Tule Publishing.
So tell me, what’s your favorite Tule story so far, or even your all time favorite romance? All comments will go into the draw to win a book from my backlist. I’ll be at the RWA National conference in San Antonio this week so while I will be reading all your comments, I may not be able to respond to each one individually. But don’t let that hold you back from sharing your thoughts :-)!
Best wishes and happy reading!
Hard stuff and easy stuff
Sometimes, things come naturally when you’re writing. The story flows, and the whole thing is just smooth and easy. And other times…not so much.
Most often, it’s a bit of both.
In Outside the Lines, my most recent release, the characters came easy—they just showed up on the page, sometimes doing things that I, the author, did not approve of at all.
For instance, the hero, Johnny Danger came almost fully packaged, a self-confident, über-alpha former Ranger who’s both annoyed and turned on by Juliette, or as he calls her, “Jauntie.” (her last name) I surely didn’t tell him to hunt Juliette down at a remote ski resort to demand answers when her small time report causes big time problems for one of his wealthy clients. See, because I can predict that’s going to lead to problems. Big, sexy problems.
(Vanessa, here – Jaunty LOVES that the heroine’s name is Jauntie!)
Nor did I tell the heroine to compile a report that second-guesses one of the most highly-respected valuations experts in the field, who also happens to be Johnny’s business partner. No way would I have done that. Nope, Juliette came fully arrayed, a smart, caffeine-addicted workaholic who’s been repressing her secret reckless side a little too long. The only one who pushes her buttons is Johnny Danger, and he pushes them hard.
But some other things didn’t come so easy in writing Outside The Lines. Such as…crime.
Turns out I’m no good at crime. Oh, sure, I try, but it’s a lost cause.
Since my plot turned on white collar, financial crime, this meant research. Lots and lots of research. FBI websites, newspaper articles, books and American Greed episodes became my life. And while I might not be too good at financial crime, turns out I’m fascinated by it. Mostly, I just can’t believe how ballsy people are.
But I think the hardest part of writing Outside The Lines were the writerly decisions about HOW to best tell the story.
The original release of Outside The Lines was in what’s known as 1st person point of view. That’s where the characters tell the story using “I/me/we.” Many New Adult and erotic romance stories are written in this style, as well as some romantic mysteries and comedies. (And loads of other books too, of course).
But there’s also a more ‘traditional’ way storytelling, one that is, for many readers, more familiar, where the story is told as “he/she/they.” This is known as 3rd person point of view.
It’s the difference between:
I watched him shift in his seat, lean and graceful, like a predator. He said nothing. His gaze moved slowly down my body.
“That’s a nice shirt,” he said, low and rumbly.
My body ricocheted against nothing but the sound of his voice. “Thanks,” I whispered.
She watched him shift in his seat, lean and graceful, his body like a predator. He said nothing. His gaze moved slowly down her body.
“That’s a nice shirt,” he said, low and rumbly.
Her body ricocheted against nothing but the sound of his voice. “Thanks,” she whispered.
Which to use??
Since Outside The Lines originally ‘showed up’ for me in 1st person (I/me/we), that’s how I released it. But I agonized over that decision, because as I wrote, I occasionally changed to the 3rd person (he/she/they) just as naturally, and I know some readers prefer the almost ‘invisible’ nature of 3rd person point of view. Sometimes I’m one of them!
In the end, I decided to release the story in both versions, because why not make everyone happy whenever you can??
Which do you prefer, I/me/we or he/she/they? Do you even care? Have you ever ended up loving a book written in a style you’d have sworn you didn’t like? And most of all: do you, too, have a secret fascination with financial crime??
Two commentors will win a digital copy of Outside The Lines, in whichever edition they prefer—1st person or 3rd person!
Visit Bella’s website for more info on her books!
Outside The Lines: Third Person edition
Outside the Lines: First Person edition
Forgive me, please
by Debra Salonen
Cowgirl Come Home, my new release from Tule Publishing, is a second-chance-at-love story. It’s also about the healing power of forgiveness.
Like Bailey and Paul, the main protagonists of Cowgirl, I met my hubby in high school. Our lockers were next door to each other, and although we “knew” each other all four years of high school, we didn’t actually start dating until the summer before our senior year.
I’d been dating an upper classman my sophomore and junior years. When he graduated, I was…alone, available, ready for fun. And my hubby-to-be brought fun in spades. We dated that year, went to prom and headed off to college together. We stumbled over a rocky road in the early years–what relationship doesn’t have its ups and downs? We had many opportunities to forgive each other. Since we’re celebrating our 40th anniversary this fall, I think I can say with some authority, “Being able to let go of anger is a good skill to have in a marriage.”
In Cowgirl, Come Home, Bailey Jenkins and Paul Zabrinski meet and fall in love when she’s a senior–primed to move on and get the heck out of Marietta, Montana, where she’s spent way too much time picking up after her difficult father–and he’s a junior with that all-important final year of school ahead of him. “Fall in love with Paul Zabrinski” was not on her list of goals. But they did fall in love. And they did what young people in love do…they had sex. And there were consequences that changed their lives forever.
Now, fifteen years later, Bailey’s back. (Here’s the working photo I used when I “met” Bailey.) Her parents need her. She’s not the same girl who left Montana ready to take on the world. All that bright promise has been dimmed by loss and anguish. Her dreams are gone, her spirit broken.
Paul, on the other hand, seems to have it all–he’s a single dad, hot, gorgeous and successful. He’s also lonely and wants what his parents have–that once in a lifetime love. One look at Bailey is all he needs to know the love he felt for her never died.
As they explore the possibility of rekindling their feelings, they can’t ignore their families’ expectations and fears. Paul’s older brother, Austen points out, “You have two kids to consider. Do you really want to introduce Bailey into their lives if she isn’t going to stick around?”
Austen’s fears aren’t unfounded. Bailey, the daughter of an alcoholic, struggles with the fear her father will fall off the wagon and return to his old brutish behavior. Bailey promised herself she wouldn’t turn into her mother–a co-dependent doormat. But, deep down, she wants more than anything to stay.
As Paul and Bailey begin to move forward with the demands of every day life, they carefully pick their way through the wreckage of the past. The odds are stacked against these two characters, which made writing their story hugely challenging and extremely satisfying.
What do you think? Are some hurts too big to come back from or can real love overcome anything? Bailey and Paul learn that forgiveness is key to healing. One of the songs on my Cowgirl, Come Home playlist is Forgiveness by Toby Mac. In case you’d like to give this song a try, I’ve included a $5 iTunes gift card in my fun, little, Cowgirl Come Home prize (2 backlist titles, iTunes card, notebook, post-it notes and Tule swag).
Happy reading, my friends!
Sharon Page is a USA Today Bestselling author of historical romance. She’s here to talk about her latest book–welcome, Sharon!
I’ve written 17 romances set in Regency England, but Deeply in You is my very first book featuring a governess and a duke. For years, I’ve flirted with the idea of writing about a governess. I always argued that it’s been done before—and been done exceptionally well…
But I could not watch “The Sound of Music” without dreaming of writing my very own banter between a feisty and clever governess and the cool, autocratic man-of-the-house.
(Sound of Music—Christopher Plummer, Julie Andrews)
Then the first sentence for Deeply in You jumped into my head: “If a governess’s wildest fantasy was to take shape and come to life, he would look exactly like the Duke of Greybrooke.”
After that, I had to write about my governess and I got to indulge in lots of teasing, naughty repartee:
(Here, Helena has warned Grey to look up before he was hit by a chamber pot thrown by his mistress.)
As the boy nodded, the duke said to her, “As you’ve gathered, I know this scamp. He is my sister’s son, Michael, and you appear to know me, but I am at the disadvantage—”
“I am Miss Winsome.”
Another roguish grin. She should be immune to them by now, but no, she experienced a shivering sensation that rushed down her spine and throbbed low in her tummy.
His green eyes twinkled. “You certainly are.”
As if he were a disobedient charge, she said briskly, “It is my name, Your Grace. My name is Helena Winsome. I am governess to your nephews and niece.”
“Then you must be far more stoic and indestructible than you look. Those three will bring any woman to her knees. The last governess was built like a pugilist, and even she hung up her gloves after two months.”
“Raising children is hardly a battle. But, yes, I am quite strong and capable, Your Grace.”
“Indeed. You certainly acted swiftly to save me from the chamber pot. Next time you’ll know to hold onto this one tightly in a park. Take him to Hyde Park and you might end up having to swim in the Serpentine to catch him.”
Her cheeks heated. She must be blushing with humiliation. A bit tartly, she pointed out, “Your Grace, I am never careless with my charges. Unfortunately the incident with the chamber pot distracted me from my duties. I assure you I will never make such a lapse again.”
Why was it so much fun to write a governess? I think it’s because the children are fictional. They adore Helena and she knows how to handle them with firmness and compassion. Not once does she hear: “You’re not the boss of me!”
In fiction, children also have the perfect sense of timing. When Grey (The Duke of Greybrooke) is attempting to coax Helena into agreeing to become his mistress, the children stay in their lesson room with the door closed, dutifully practicing their letters.
Of course, this would never work in reality. One child would have suddenly thrown up. Or there would have been hair pulled, braids dipped in ink, shoulders poked with quill pens. Then there would have been the pressing need to have an adult “judge” decide if “he started it” or “she started it”.
But the real delight in writing my governess heroine was to give Helena a strong connection to family—both her own and the family she looks after. To me, one of the best parts of romance is having your hero and heroine “find their tribe”, that group of people with whom they belong.
Do you like romances with a governess heroine? What is your favorite book? Or do you prefer historicals where the heroine is more unconventional?
Thank you so much for letting me post today! To celebrate, I’m giving away 2 digital books:
A Gentleman Seduced and Escape with a Rogue, to 2 lucky winners (2 books each).
Sharon Page is the New York Times and USA Today Bestselling author of over 20 books. Deeply in You is her latest sizzling Regency-set romance. She is also writing a 1920s series for Harlequin HQN, launching Sept 30, 2014 with An American Duchess—perfect for Downton Abbey fans suffering from withdrawal.
Buy Links for Deeply in You:
Today we welcome back historical romance author, Michelle McLean. Thanks for joining us again, Michelle.
Top 5 Favorite Things About Writing Romancing the Rumrunner
- The Research – I always have fun researching my books, but this one was particularly fun. Aside from a few movies set in this era (and reading the requisite Fitzgerald and Hemmingway books in school), this isn’t a time period I knew much about so I got to spend a lot more time researching than I usually need to. It was fabulous! This is such a fascinating era, one that I really enjoyed playing in for awhile.
- The Music – The music surprised me. I’d heard some songs (I’d been a huge Betty Boop fan when I was younger so it was fun to listen to the songs of Helen Kane, the woman who inspired the cartoon (despite the creator’s claims to the contrary)). Two things surprised me the most: 1 – it is almost all upbeat. I had a very hard time finding a song that wasn’t peppy. Even the sad songs were something you could really dance to. And 2 – they were naughty! And not all that subtle about it either. Some of the songs will downright make you blush! Check out Bettie Smith’s “Empty Bed Blues”
- The Characters – I love all my characters, but Tony and Jessie were so much fun. Poor Tony just wants to get his life back on track and make sure he doesn’t make any more seriously horrible mistakes, and Jessie is in the same boat. They try so hard to stay away from each other but just can’t help themselves. Set against the already clandestine back drop of speakeasies and the flapper era, they were just an absolute blast to write.
- The Setting – I had a lot of fun with this. From Jessie’s butcher shop to Tony’s P.I. office to the speakeasies (Jessie’s underground gothic hangout The Red Phoenix and Tony’s plush and hip club The Corkscrew) the settings were fascinating to research and create in the book. I even spent days researching 1920s automobiles and had Jessie take one for a spin (btw, they had some seriously gorgeous vehicles back then, including Al Capone’s totally tricked out armored and bullet proof Cadillac)
- The Fashions – gorgeous! Fabulous! I don’t have the arms to pull off the dresses, but would love to try The fringe, feathers, sheer overlays, beadwork, rhinestones *happy sigh*. Oh, and the accessories – if I could pull off those bejeweled “across-the-forehead” headbands, I’d walk around in them all day.
- What’s really interesting to me is what a huge leap fashion took. Just ten years prior, women
were still lacing up their corsets, aiming for the tiniest waist possible. While skirts might have gotten fuller, bustles might have been added or taken away, necklines might have gone higher or lower, for the most part the typical silhouette of a woman hadn’t changed much in a very long time.By the late 1920s, when Romancing the Rumrunner is set, fashion had undergone a massive make over. Lacing up until you passed out was a thing of the past, and women moved to soft silky camisoles, panties, and bras along with their short hemlines, strappy dresses, and boxy silhouettes.
All in all, this was a simply fascinating time period to write. In fact, this might just be my favorite of all my books (just don’t tell the others)
In honor of my heroine Jessie, who runs her speakeasy under the alias The Phoenix, I’ll be giving away a 1920s style Phoenix necklace to one lucky commenter!
Romance and non-fiction author Michelle McLean is a jeans and t-shirt kind of girl who is addicted to chocolate and Goldfish crackers and spent most of her formative years with her nose in a book. She has a B.S. in History, a M.A. in English, and loves her romance with a hearty side of suspenseful mystery. When Michelle’s not editing, reading or chasing her kids around, she can usually be found in a quiet corner working on her next book. She resides in PA with her husband and two children, an insanely hyper dog, and three very spoiled cats.