Friday is release day for my first Montana Born book, BEAUTY AND THE COWBOY! It’s the first book in Tule Publishing Group’s Big Marietta Fair series.
A couple of weeks ago, I told you about some of my summer memories that inspired the feel of the book. Today, I want to talk about the music that helped keep me in the zone as I wrote this story.
Every book I write has a soundtrack, but the one for BEAUTY AND THE COWBOY is extra fun. Every song on the list lends itself to the feel of this friends-to-lovers story.
Here’s the playlist:
Goodbye in Her Eyes – Zac Brown Band
Mama’s Broken Heart – Miranda Lambert
I Hope it Rains – Jana Kramer
Springsteen – Eric Church
Sure Would be Cool if You Did – Blake Shelton
Night Train – Jason Aldean
My Eyes – Blake Shelton
I’m On Fire – Bruce Springsteen
I Want Crazy – Hunter Hayes
Chicken Fried – Zac Brown Band
Goodbye in Her Eyes fits so well, because as the story opens, Charlotte Morgan, or Charlie, as those closest to her call her, is about to get engaged to the man she’s dated for six years. The only problem is, she has a sinking feeling that this isn’t the happily ever after she’s always dreamed of. The two have dated long distance for a lot of the time they’ve been together and now that they’re about to take the first step toward making the relationship permanent, the ring pinches. Charlie just can’t bring herself to pretend it’s okay. How can she when all she wants to do is get that darned marquise off her finger?
Without giving away too much of the story, the next two songs on the playlist Mama’s Broken Heart and I Hope it Rains give a good hint to what happens next. Thank goodness her lifelong friend, Jesse Guthrie, is there to help her pick up the pieces.
Jesse has had a thing for Charlie for as far back as he can remember, but one of the two of them has always been otherwise engaged…until now. That would account for the next six songs on the list. Give them a listen. They’ll give you a hint as to what happens next.
And then there’s Chicken Fried by the Zac Brown Band. That song is just pure fun and gets stuck in my head. So, I had to include it. Plus, I imagined it playing somewhere in the background as the friends who are edging closer to something more enjoy the Big Marietta Fair.
The fabulous folks at Tule Publishing put together a collection of videos for each of the songs. Here’s a link: BEAUTY AND THE COWBOY video playlist
After you click on the first one, the rest play automatically.
One song I wish I would’ve added to the list is Rick Springfield’s Jesse’s Girl. Let’s consider it a bonus track.
What’s your favorite song on the playlist? Or if you’d rather, tell me your favorite song that’s not on the list. One person who posts will win a Kindle copy of BEAUTY AND THE COWBOY. I’ll post the winner’s name on Sunday.
When I was fourteen years old I was moaning the fact that I would never have a boy friend. It seemed that every time I liked a boy he liked another girl. I was destined to be an old maid.
My mom laughed and sat on my bed and shared a story of what she called her first love, her lost love. I listened as she told me how before she’d met my dad the small Cajun man with laughing eyes and black wavy hair, she had loved a tall blond man that could sing like a professional and when they danced she felt like her feet never touched the floor. They dated under the watchful eyes of my grandmother for almost a year.
My mom was not allowed to go on a date without her mother accompanying them. But it became too much for my mom’s man she loved with all her heart. He asked permission to take her on an afternoon drive, just the two of them. His request was denied. His pride and I guess his honor was questioned. He told mom that he couldn’t do this anymore and that if he wasn’t trusted now he probably never would be so he walked away, saying he would not return but for her to know that he loved her and would never love another.
Broken hearted she moved to New Orleans to live with an Aunt, where she later met my dad, and after a long while they married. Years went by and I was born, and when my grandmother came to help she told my mom that her first love had returned shortly after mom moved to New Orleans, but my grandmother refused to tell him where she’d gone.
Years later she sat next to my dad in the hospital when she heard a familiar voice. She knew without looking up it was him but there he stood in his dress blues, he was now a service man. She said she so wanted to talk to him and have closure, but just then she and my dad were called into the doctors office. He never saw her.
My dad died at the age of fifty-five and my mother came to live with us, many an afternoon she and I would sit on my front porch and she would recount her past, and the stories would almost always turn back to him. She wondered if he’d ever married, if he knew she thought of him? My mom and I decided to look for him, and that we did for years, but every lead turned into a dead end. She died at the age of eighty-four, without closure between she and her first love. But before she died she did find out from her brother, that he had run into the man ten years before and that he’d never married. He told my mom’s brother, the good one had gotten away.
So when I wrote the second book in my Bon Amie Series, SNOW ON MAGNOLIAS, a secondary romance story was born about a young girl and a young soldier, it is one of my favorite parts of this book. Maybe because in my own way I am still trying to give my mom closure.
Have you ever written any personal stories into your books? As a reader do you enjoy knowing the behind the scenes info on the books you read?
Oh by the way that fourteen year old drama queen, did not end up an old maid, I’ve been very happily married to my best friend for 52 years.
Award-winning author, Hattie Mae was born and bred southern, cutting her teeth on cornbread and greens and running barefoot through the canals of her small Louisiana town. So when it came to writing, there was no question as to where to set her books. She’s now writing her fourth book set in Bon Amie, a busy little town nestled in the heart of Cajun country. She’s also published a short story in The Cup Of Comfort For Teachers. The love of books and writing runs in her family, Hattie’s daughter is award-winning historical romance author, Robyn DeHart. When not writing you can usually find her playing with her grandchildren or cooking up some healthy versions of tasty southern fare. She lives in central Texas with her husband and one crazy cat. You can find her online on Facebook, Twitter or via email.
Allan McKinney here. You know–the hero in Kathy’s latest release BOUND BY A CHILD. :)
I’m in desperate need of some help. Seriously, it’s Valentine’s Day on Friday and I need a gift that will knock Jessi’s socks off. I think you should know that she finds big romantic gestures too grand and always says I’m showing off if I offer to fly her to Paris.
I know I need more than red roses and expensive chocolates. I got some help last week on Twitter and have booked us a nice spa weekend. But I still need a gift.
What’s the best Valentine’s Day gift/surprise you ever received? What’s the worst so I know what to avoid?
Kathy will be giving away an electronic copy of Bound By A Child to three randomly chosen blog participants today. Please, help me. Jessi will never let me live it down if I screw up our first Valentine’s Day together.
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.”
Here’s a quick look at CELEBRATION’S FAMILY’S first scene (Q&A and contest follow):
A bachelor auction?
Dr. Liam Thayer waited for Cullen Dunlevy, Celebration Memorial’s chief of staff, to crack a smile, or indicate he and the pretty blonde in the business suit at his side were delivering a bad joke to lighten up the impromptu staff meeting.
Please. He could use a little levity to jolt him out of his bad mood. It had been one of those mornings. The twins, Amanda and Calee, hadn’t wanted to get out of bed. Five minutes before they were supposed to walk out the door, Amanda remembered that she was supposed to bring cupcakes for an after-school club meeting.
To spur the girls along, he’d said, if they left on time, they could stop at the grocery store on the way. But then the dog got out, running several victory laps around the neighborhood, before Liam had been able to wrangle, harness and deliver him home.
They didn’t have time to stop for cupcakes, and by the time he’d deposited the girls at Celebration Middle School, they were all out of sorts. Well, he and Amanda were. Not Calee, who lived in her own little world of sugar-plum fairies and nutcracker princes. As long as Calee was dancing, the world was a beautiful place. She was so much like her mother, who had also been a ballerina, before she’d given it all up to marry Liam and start a family.
He and Amanda, on the other hand, seemed to be cast from the same mold. This morning he’d left her with a promise that their housekeeper, Rosalinda, would leave a dozen cupcakes at the school’s front desk in time for this afternoon’s club meeting—which Amanda would have to cut short because she and her sister couldn’t be late for their dance class.
Amanda had been dubious and a little surly. She hadn’t wanted to go to dance class today.
“Why can’t Rosie take Calee while I stay at the club meeting? Then Rosie can come back and get me. Or better yet, why can’t I skip dance altogether?”
“Because you have a commitment, and Rosie doesn’t need to be running herself ragged to accommodate you. She’s already going out of her way to make sure you get the cupcakes.”
It had only made matters worse when Liam had snapped, “Next time maybe you’ll remember to tell me these things before we’re walking out the door.”
He shouldn’t have said it. Not like that, dammit. Even if it was true and a lesson she needed to learn. Now, as he sat there in the conference room trying to change gears from dad mode to doctor, he couldn’t get the image of Amanda’s sad face out of his head.
At that moment he missed his wife, Joy, so much it almost leveled him. She’d always taken care of things like cupcakes, permission slips and new ballet shoes. She’d had an uncanny ability to almost read their daughters’ minds or, on the off chance when they did end up in a bind—like they had this morning—she’d always been able to pull a rabbit out of her hat and make things work.
Liam didn’t know how she’d managed it. She had been perfect like that. Tiny, intuitive and good-natured, Joy had always been all about her family.
A series of sickening flashbacks transported Liam to that night when the cop had stood on their front porch and asked, “Is this the residence of Joy Thayer?” He’d told Liam that there’d been an accident but wouldn’t give him much information, just asked if he would come to the hospital. When he’d identified his wife’s body, his life and the lives of their daughters had shattered into a million irreparable pieces.
Liam scrubbed a hand over his eyes, trying to erase the memory. It had been two years. When would life without Joy get easier? When would the numbness give way to the manageable ache that the grief counselor had promised would come in time? Maybe never. Because part of his soul had died right along with his wife that night. The part that lived and laughed and felt.
Now his daughters kept him going. Because life didn’t stop to mourn. Hell, it didn’t even slow down to regroup. It kept marching forward, and, if you didn’t get on your feet fast, it would drag you right along behind it.
He refocused, irritated that he had to waste time this morning listening to the chief and this woman rattle on about…bachelor auctions? For God’s sake.
This had to be a joke.
But a sinking feeling warned him not to bank on Dunlevy delivering the punch line. Especially when his boss glanced over at the blonde and uncharacteristic warmth drew up the edges of his mouth.
“This is Kate Macintyre of the Macintyre Family Foundation,” said Dunlevy. “She and her staff have been working tirelessly to raise money for the new pediatric surgical wing here at Celebration Memorial Hospital. I’ll turn the meeting over to her and let her tell you more.”
The new surgical wing—Joy had been excited about it. In fact she’d been one of the first volunteers to organize a kick-starter fund-raiser.
“Good morning,” said the blonde.
What was her name again?
“Thank you, Dr. Dunlevy. I appreciate you letting me attend your meeting today. Even more I am grateful that each of you has agreed to help raise money for the final leg of funding for this very special project. This pediatric wing is extremely near and dear to my family and me. I appreciate you all taking an active role in making it a reality.”
Near and dear to her family? Liam glanced at her left hand. She wasn’t wearing a wedding ring. Reflexively his thumb found the back of the band he still wore. It was the touchstone that kept him grounded, and reminded him of what was and always would be important in life. Family.
The blonde smiled at Liam’s colleague, Charlie Benton, an internist, who was seated to her left. She held out a stack of pamphlets. “Would you mind taking one of these and passing them around, please?”
Eagerly Charlie obeyed.
Great. Judging by the look on his coworker’s face, Liam would bet, if she’d asked Charlie to run out to fetch her a bagel and a cappuccino, he would’ve fallen all over himself to oblige. Liam glanced around at the other men in the room. They all seemed transfixed, too. Apparently Liam was the only one immune to a pretty face and a great pair of legs.
“For the past three years, the Macintyre Family Foundation has partnered with the hospital to raise money to build a much-needed pediatric surgical wing,” she said. “During this time we’ve been diligently working with the hospital’s Department of Charitable Giving. They’ve been amazing. We only need 5 percent more to reach our two-million-dollar goal.
“That’s why we were delighted when Dr. Dunlevy agreed to the idea of giving you all, the doctors of Celebration Memorial, the opportunity to play a key role in raising part of the remaining funds. When I learned that I’d be working with seven single male doctors, I thought, what was the chance of that?”
Her blue eyes sparkled as she looked from one face to the next, radiating enthusiasm and sincerity. She was doing a credible job.
“With seven eligible men, it only seemed natural to hold a bachelor auction. So, everyone, please save the date—one week from Saturday—for our first-ever In Celebration of Bachelors auction.”
Liam shifted in his seat, resisting the urge to excuse himself. This bachelor auction was not a joke, but there was no way in hell that he was going to subject himself to the humiliation of being sold off to the highest bidder. Even if the shenanigan would raise money for a good cause.
As a pediatric hospitalist and a single father to two teenagers, he didn’t have enough time to devote to his daughters on a good day. He certainly didn’t want to waste a night going out on a date with a woman who’d bid on him like a steer in a cattle sale. He might have been providing all the necessities, but he hadn’t been able to give his children as much of himself as he wished he could. Not like his wife, who had always been there for them emotionally.
And, he had to admit, at the root of everything, participating in something like this felt disrespectful to Joy. Even if she was gone, it didn’t mean he felt any less married. Certainly not single.
“Is something wrong, Dr. Thayer?” Cullen asked. “You look like you smell something.”
Liam clicked his ink pen. He wanted to say, There’s nothing like the stench of a bad idea first thing in the morning. But one glance at Kate Macintyre’s hopeful expression—Kate Macintyre, that was her name—and he was weighing his words. “Is this bachelor auction idea a done deal? Do we have any other options?”
Q: CELEBRATION’S FAMILY has been getting some nice reviews!
Nancy Robards Thompson: I’m so grateful that it has been well received! RT Book Reviews Magazine gave it four 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 chocolatier/matchmaker will charm, and the doctor’s twin girls add the perfect “aww!” factor.”
Q: That’s great news! Where did you get the idea for CELEBRATION’S FAMILY?
NRT: Liam and Kate’s story is the fifth book in the Celebration’s, Inc. series. My heroine, Kate Macintyre, has been featured in a couple of other books in the series and it was high time she found her soulmate. I’ve always been intrigued by the thought of a bachelor auction. What could be more fun than an auction full of eligible doctor bachelors?
Q: Tell us about the hero of the book? Why will we fall in love with him?
NRT: Dr. Liam Thayer believes true love only happens once in a lifetime. He fell in love with and married his high school sweetheart. They had two perfect decades together before she died in a tragic accident. The loss turned life upside down for Liam and his thirteen-year-old twins.
Q: Tell us about the heroine. Why is she the absolute perfect woman for the hero?
NRT: Kate Macintyre would like to believe in true love and happily ever after, but she’s never experienced anything remotely like it. Well, until she falls in love with the grieving Dr. Thayer and his adorable daughters.
Q: What life-lesson do your Hero and Heroine have to learn before they can find their happily-ever-after?
NRT: Liam believes that true love happens only once in a lifetime and Kate has never been in love. To reach their happily ever after, Liam has to believe that looking to the future doesn’t mean he has to forget about or devalue his first marriage. Kate has to allow herself to be vulnerable and open to love. Together, as they become a family, they heal each others’ wounds and become whole again.
Q: What was your favorite scene to write?
NRT: That’s a toss-up between two scenes: the bachelor auction, because, of course, Kate’s seemingly foolproof plan to get Liam off the hook by placing the winning bid for the date with Liam goes absolutely awry; and the Doctor’s Ball, which takes place in the ballroom of a swanky Dallas hotel. I love writing scenes like the Doctor’s Ball because they’re so glamorous and romantic.
Q: Is there an underlying theme to the story?
NRT: CELEBRATION’S FAMILY is about the bond of family and second chances at love. Those are powerful themes to which so many of us can relate, and that’s why I believe readers will enjoy this book.
Now, I have a question for you: What themes do you like to read about? Family? Love at first sight? Friends to lovers? Reunion stories? In “celebration” of her new release, I’m giving away a $10 Amazon gift card to one lucky person who posts. Check back on Sunday when I post the winner’s name.
This is Nancy’s eighteenth book for Harlequin and the fifth book in her Celebrations, Inc. mini-series. For more information please check out her website NancyRobardsThompson.com or connect with her on Facebook (Nancy Robards Thompson Author) and Twitter @NRTWrites.