A Celebration Christmas larger cover

Lily Palmer is in for the Christmas of a lifetime! When the nanny signs up to watch Dr. Cullen Dunlevy’s four foster kids, she’s got her hands full. The Thomas clan is the most mischievous group of youngsters she’s ever had to wrangle, but Lily loves the job. After all, what girl wouldn’t adore spending the holidays with a warmhearted new family—and their irresistibly handsome foster dad?

Cullen doesn’t mind Christmas, but his Scrooge-like facade is there for a reason—to protect himself. His tough childhood caused him to hide behind his work and avoid entanglements at all costs. That includes avoiding falling for the deliciously tempting new nanny that Santa left for him this year… 

Where did you get the idea for A CELEBRATION CHRISTMAS

The Sound of Music has always been one of my favorite movies. I saw it for the first time when I was very young. Later, I shared it with my daughter. I hope someday she’ll continue the chain. In the meantime, I wanted to write a book that was a nod to that classic story that shows that with love and family you can overcome just about anything.

Of course, I changed it up enough to make it my own. First, it’s set during the holidays. Cullen, the hero, is a doctor rather than a wealthy navy captain; and Lily, the heroine, is a teacher rather than an aspiring nun. There are four kids rather than seven. Actually, in the first incarnation of this book, I gave Cullen seven foster children, but then I came to my senses. He and Lily were grateful because as it turned out, four feisty Thomas children were more than enough.

 * Tell us about the hero and heroine of the book? Why will we want them to fall in love?

 We met both Cullen and Lily in previous books. I introduced you to Lily inCELEBRATION’S BRIDE (she was the woman who won the wedding of her dreams, only to have her fiancé back out on national television). Cullen first appeared inCELEBRATION’S FAMILY. He was the stern chief of staff at Celebration Memorial, who insisted that the hero of that book participate in the bachelor auction that raised money for the hospital’s pediatric wing.

 Lily’s nurturing, never-give-up-on-love spirit softens Cullen’s hard exterior and together they realize that through love and family they can heal hurts of the past.

 * Is there any particular significance in the setting?

 I think Debbie Haupt of RT Book Reviews said it best, “Thompson takes us back to Celebration, Texas to check in on old friends and create new memories.”

 * What was your favorite scene to write?

 This book was so much fun to write, that it’s difficult to pick just one scene, but I guess the scenes with the kids were my favorite…or maybe the scenes at the Holiday market…or maybe when the hero and heroine go to the Christmas ball… Wow! Choosing is kind of like naming my favorite child.

 

stollenWere there any real-life inspirations for a particular scene or character in the book?

 I infused several personal details into the book. Like Lily, I lost my mother and was exceptionally close to my grandmother. My grandmother’s recipes are very special to me. I cook her food when I’m missing her.

 My father remarried a wonderful woman, who was first generation German American and my lovely step-mother shared her mother’s recipe for a German Christmas bread called stollen, a confection filled with dried fruits and marzipan. In the book, the stollen recipe came from Lily’s grandmother and to bring some holiday cheer into the house, she teaches the kids how to make it.

 * Do any beloved characters from your previous books show up in this one?

 Oh, yes! Sydney and Miles from CELEBRATION’S BRIDE and Pepper and A.J. from Celebrations, Inc. Catering Company among others. It was fun revisiting everyone.

  * Any interesting tidbits of information you discovered while researching this book?

 I wanted Lily to tell the children the story of Christmas stollen and when I was researching it, not only did I learn all about where stollen came from (Lily will tell you all about it in the book), I learned there used to be an annual stollen festival in Germany. They’ve recently revived it and now it’s called Stollenfest.

 That makes me wonder about your holiday traditions. I know it’s a little early for some of you to talk about Christmas and Hanukkah, but we are getting close to Halloween and Thanksgiving. What are some of your fall/winter traditions?

 I will give away an ARC of CELEBRATION CHRISTMAS to one person who posts on this blog.

 If you’d like another chance to win, I’ve joined with a group of authors from Tule and we’re a prize package worth $500 in the Great Thanksgiving Giveaway. Follow the link for details on how you can win. 

I can’t wait to hear about your fall/winter traditions!


Terry OdellFirst, thanks to Nancy for inviting me to join you today. I first met Nancy when her book, Reinventing Olivia first came out, when I was starting that ‘road to publication’ journey, and she has always been there for encouragement and advice.

 [Nancy: I'm so glad you could join us today, Terry!] 

I love series books. I’ve been known to read book 1 in a series and go to the bookstore and buy the next 14 books all at once. If I start a book and realize there were precursors, I’ll put it aside and read the earlier ones until I catch up. I want to meet the characters head-on in their first appearances.

 

In the mystery genre, series books feature a protagonist and a group of secondary characters that grow throughout the series. People may come and go, relationships may change, but the books build on each other. By my definition, the books in these series are sequels. The same protagonists come back as the “stars”, moving forward with their lives.

 

In romance, though, ‘series’ tend to be spin-offs, rather than sequels. There might be hints and references to what happened before, but the major players in book 2 were probably secondary characters in book 1.

 

(I did write a true sequel to a romance, primarily because I wasn’t “done” with the characters, and also because nobody told me it was against the “rules”—but that’s another story.)

 

The trick to series, sequels and connected books is a careful balance of back story. I read a sequel by a well-known, big-name author that revealed so much I never bothered to read book one. When I picked it up, I was unaware it was book two, or I probably wouldn’t have read it first.

 

WD_200x300My newest Blackthorne, Inc. book, Windswept Danger, is the 6th book in the series. It features Hotshot, who was—as a secondary character–injured in the 5th book. Since there wasn’t a lot on the page about any specifics of that incident, I saw no reason to stop the story to give details about what that mission had been about, or what had happened to him. Back story is about IV drips, not tube feeding.

 

So, this is the way I referenced what had happened to Hotshot – it should let readers who know what happened feel like insiders, but those who haven’t read the first book shouldn’t have to stop and wonder about all the back story details, or feel like they’re being left out of a private moment. In the opening chapter, this is the only mention:

 

Hotshot shifted, bracing his feet against the limb of the pine, stretching against the massive trunk, trying to keep the blood circulating. His torso protested, the aches reminding him of the recent op in Mexico, aches he suspected would be with him for a long time to come.

 

As with any back story, it’s important to know 1) Does the reader need to know this? And 2) Does the reader need to know this now? But with series and spin-offs, there are additional considerations: 3) Does this spoil the read for earlier books? And 4) Will this confuse the reader instead of moving the story forward.

 

The Stepford Wives meet Hotel California

 

Can a feisty secu­rity agent who hates tak­ing orders and a covert ops spe­cial­ist who has some­thing to prove, put aside their own dif­fer­ences and their own agen­das long enough to uncover the secrets of Windswept Heights?

 

 

 

*****

 (Hotshot and Olivia are working out their cover stories for their assignment to infiltrate Windswept Heights)

 

“So, you want to tell me what Nurse Livvy’s going to make me do?”

 

His smile, slow and lazy, made her think this assign­ment might not be so bad after all, even if he seemed to like push­ing her but­tons with that Nurse Livvy bit. She had to force her­self to keep from smil­ing in return. This was a job. And she’d be damned if she was going to let him run things on the op. She’d spent most of her life try­ing to get away from males who thought hav­ing both an X and a Y chro­mo­some made them supe­rior and gave them the right to tell her what to do. Maybe Hot­shot thought he was one great gift to women. Maybe that’s where his nick­name came from.

 

She took her water and returned to her seat on the couch. “First, you will refer to me as either Miss Fairchild or Olivia.”

 

He did that smile thing again. “In public.”

 

“Bet­ter make it in pri­vate, too. For all we know, there will be peo­ple lis­ten­ing in. And, it’s too easy to slip.”

 *****

 

What about you? Do you read in order? Do you like sequels? Spin-offs? And what’s your take on spoilers?

 

Right now, Windswept Danger is available for pre-order at the introductory price of 99 cents. When it’s officially released on Oct. 27th, it will be $3.99, so you’re saving $3 if you pre-order. And also, because it’s a cause near and dear to me, I’m donating ALL (that’s 100%) of my pre-order royalties to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. I hope you’ll take a chance on pre-ordering the book and know you’re helping a good cause. You can find more about the book, and buy links, here.  And, because I know some people like to start at the beginning, I’ll offer a download of Book 1, When Danger Calls, to one commenter.


 A Celebration Christmas cover

Shortly after my first book hit the shelves, an acquaintance confided that she almost couldn’t finish reading it because she felt as if she were prying into my life. “It was just so… intimate!” she’d said.  I was equal parts astonished that she actually thought it was autobiographical and flattered that she thought I lived (or once lived) such an exciting life. I mean, I love my life, but it’s vastly different from the fictional worlds I create for my heroines.

After I thought about it, I could see where she might have drawn that conclusion. While I’m a bit older than most of my heroines, I do tend to lend them characteristics and features similar to my own. Still, my heroines are not me. I don’t write about myself as much as I write about observations and what I find interesting.

 

Take, for example, my first book, REINVENTING OLIVIA. It was born one night when my husband and I were out to dinner at a trendy downtown restaurant. As we approached, I heard dance music pulsing from the loft condos above the restaurant. When I looked up, I saw a hand holding a drink over the balcony rail. I thought, wow, if I were young and single that’s where I’d live… and the story took off on its own. So, while Olivia was most decidedly not me, she was definitely a child of my imagination, born out of what-ifs and shades of possibility.

 

I’ll confess that within the pages of my twenty-five (and counting) books I’ve drawn strongly on my own life experiences (because the first rule of writing is write what you know).  I’ve borrowed characteristics from real-life villains (uhh-hmm - bosses) and given them their comeuppance on the page, or rewritten an unsatisfying true-to-life experience so that it ended happily, but the majority of my plots and characters come from the most unexpected places.  That was the case with my book WITH VIOLETS (HarperCollins) – written under my historical nom de plume, Elizabeth Robards.

 

I’ve always been infatuated with the French Impressionists. So when my husband and I went to Paris, I was anticipating a daytrip to Giverny, Claude Monet’s home and famous gardens. Before we boarded a train at the Gare Saint-Lazare, to make our way to Giverny, we stopped at the Musée Marmottan to see Monet’s famous ‘Impression, Sunrise’ (Impression: Soleil Levant), the painting that launched the French Impressionist movement.

 

Little did I know, but I was about to meet painter Berthe Morisot on the second floor of the Musée Marmottan. Not literally, of course, because she died in 1895.  However, I saw her work for the first time and a photograph of her with her family. Something about the photo haunted me and urged me to research her life. In doing so, I discovered the tale of a deeply complex, richly talented woman who bucked nineteenth century convention to become one of the world’s greatest artists and the heroine of WITH VIOLETS.

 

The research and the story were labors of love. And while the Berthe Morisot I wrote is not really like me – well, except for her strong, independent streak and a great passion for what she loved – I think there’s a little bit of every woman in her.

In my next release A CELEBRATION CHRISTMAS (Harlequin Special Edition, November 2014). I  drew inspiration from one of my favorite movies THE SOUND OF MUSIC. To make it my own, I gave it a Christmas twist. Here’s the back cover copy:

THE GREATEST GIFT OF ALL 

Lily Palmer is in for the Christmas of a lifetime! When the nanny signs up to watch Dr. Cullen Dunlevy’s four foster kids, she’s got her hands full. The Thomas clan is the most mischievous group of youngsters she’s ever had to wrangle, but Lily loves the job. After all, what girl wouldn’t adore spending the holidays with a warmhearted new family—and their irresistibly handsome foster dad? 

Cullen doesn’t mind Christmas, but his Scrooge-like facade is there for a reason—to protect himself. His tough childhood caused him to hide behind his work and avoid entanglements at all costs. That includes avoiding falling for the deliciously tempting new nanny that Santa left for him this year…

Anyhow, when a fertile imagination has its way with an interesting subject… Well, that’s how stories are born. Whether or not the plot is autobiographical, a writer can’t help but infuse a little of herself and the things she loves into the story.

Have you ever related to a fictional character so much that she seemed real?  Who was it and what about her grabbed you?

One person who comments will win the book of her (his) choice from my backlist… Can’t wait to hear from you!

 


EnchantedByAnEmeraldAnthology_800px

Thanks so much to my dear friend, Nancy Robards Thompson for inviting me to stop by today. I’m thrilled to be here again! And even more, I was recently delighted to be a part of an anthology with seven talented authors, including two of the fabulous members of the Jaunty Quills—Nancy, and the lovely Katherine Garbera.

More than once over the years, I’ve heard people say things like, ‘working with a group of women is way harder than working with men.’ The logic went that women engage in power struggles and can be too catty to get along. Ironically, it was one of my own gender spouting what I consider the rather sexist viewpoint. But I’m proud to say that I’ve now scaled that female-only wall with not a single scratch!

In all fairness, none of us actually populated a cube farm, gathered around a water cooler or stood on line at a copy machine. Not once. Rather, we created our stories in a twenty-first century version of an office—a virtual office. There were no power struggles, no cattiness. One person stepped in to take the lead and nudge all us as far as deadlines and the like. Another agreed to handle banking, and so on. We utilized a Yahoo group and email loops for communication, signed contracts in tandem, and delegated tasks during the few in-person meetings we were able to have.  And in the end, I must say, I’m darn proud of the finished product, as well as the way we were able to work together.

In the course of the project, there wasn’t a single argument. Sure, there were differing opinions on cover concepts, marketing costs and strategies, small things. But overall, for seven women with strong opinions and voices, our visions were fairly uniform. We definitely agreed that we wanted to see a hot, bare-chested man on the cover! I mean, how can you go wrong with that? Although individually we each write varying heat levels, we easily settled on a PG-13 rating. Above all, we all wanted top quality stories.

We named ourselves the Jewel Box Authors. Collectively, we’ve written Enchanted by an Emerald, a box set that’s different from anything I’ve ever read. The set is a combination of seven distinct romance genres, and I’m very excited that the release date is approaching. I can’t wait to see how readers react to the anthology.

The idea started on the trip home from a writers’ conference, four of us in a car, a long stretch of highway ahead of us. Someone threw out an idea, then came the names of those we’d like to pull into the project with us. Despite the fact that we all wrote completely different types of books, we realized that we could start with one theme—a theme that we could weave through time and space.

And so it began. This kernel of an idea. We gave ourselves a year from concept to release, which was about how long it took. Using the concept of a magical emerald through seven stories, from medieval to World War II to New Adult and everything in between—that we all agreed upon. In retrospect, that was quite a feat. But we’re women, and despite having a rep that groups of us have a tough time working together, we did it, and we did it well.

What’s been your experience? Do you think women can work well together?

The Jewelbox Authors have some goodies to offer! I will give away a download of my novella in the collection, titled EMERALD INTRIGUE to one commenter. Nancy Robards Thompson is offering a Kindle copy of her Montana Born Fair novella BEAUTY AND THE COWBOY to another lucky winner. Caro Carson will mail a print copy of her current Harlequin Special Edition, NOT JUST A COWBOY, to one winner! T. Elliott Brown is giving away an e-copy of her book BOMBSHELLS to one winner! Catherine Kean is offering an eBook copy of her boxed set MEDIEVAL ROGUES to one winner. Katherine Garbera is giving away a book from her backlist to one winner. Mimi Wells is giving away a $5 gift card to one lucky winner. 

 ENCHANTED BY AN EMERALD will be available in EBook and print on September 8. 

One enchanted emerald…seven couples in need of its magic to find true love. Follow the magic jewel through time and distance…

Will a medieval Lady risk her heart for the battered knight she believes to be her first and only love?

Can a twenty-first century policewoman find her future after she falls into the arms of an eighteenth century pirate?

A World War II soldier’s luck is in the hands of a beautiful French woman, but is she friend or foe?

A business owner with a tragic past is forced to lean on her neighbor to protect her and the valuable jewel she’s discovered, but can she open her heart before it’s too late?

A woman in an unhappy marriage leaves New York behind to rebuild her life on Iris Island, Florida, but can she find strength in her mother’s wisdom and a special gem to build a future and take a second chance at love?

Can a dark-headed mystery man and one magical stone help a down-on-her-luck young woman  discover what Fortune has in store for her?

A jewel collector’s plans to thwart her father by stealing a famous emerald might be derailed by the man who wants to throw her in jail—unless the enchanted jewel has another destiny for the lovers.

 

2012 Signings3Wynter Daniels lives in Central Florida with her family. After careers in marketing and the salon industry, Wynter’s wicked prose begged to be set free. She has authored more than two dozen books in several genres including contemporary romance, romantic suspense and paranormal romance. You can find her on the web at WynterDaniels.com and on Facebook


Nancy Robards Thompson
Nancy Robards Thompson

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Categories:
Jaunty Post, Misheard Lyrics, Nancy Robards Thompson

Thursday, we took College Girl back to school. I’m not going to lie, I’ve been a little blue since we said good bye. This is the third year we’ve given her up. I keep waiting for back-to-school–college edition–to get easier, but it doesn’t. So, she and I have a joke (after binge-watching the HBO series Arrested Development) that mothers who cling too tightly to their grown children risk turning them into “Busters.” For those who haven’t seen the show, Buster is a grown man who has an arresteddevelopment-buster-bluthunhealthy attachment to his mother. Since I’d never want to turn my darling girl into a Buster-ette, I’ve had to find ways to cheer myself up (never mind the looming deadlines. Just look away from the ticking clock. Direct your attention over here…)

It’s time for another installment of Misheard Lyrics (Volume 3). Feel free to sing along.

Song: Desperado  Band: The Eagles

Misheard Lyric: You’ve been outright offensive, for so long now…

Correct Lyric: You’ve been out riding fences, for so long now.

 

Song: Comfortably Numb  Band: Pink Floyd

Misheard Lyric: My head smelled just like tuba lube…

Correct Lyric: My hands swelled just like two balloons.

 

Song: Blowin’ in the Wind  Band: Bob Dylan

Misheard Lyric: The ants are my friends, they’re blowin’ in the wind, The ants are a-blowin’ in the wind….

Correct Lyric: The answer, my friend,  is blowin’ in the wind, The answer is blowin’ in the wind.

 

Song: Royals   Band: Lorde

Misheard Lyric: My friends in Iowa cracked the code…

Correct Lyric: My friends and I, we’ve cracked the code.

 

Song: Rock The Casbah  Band: The Clash

Misheard Lyric: Rockin’ the cash bar… 

Correct Lyric: Rockin’ Casbah

 

Song: Like a G6  Band: Far East Movement

Misheard Lyric: Like a cheese stick …

Correct Lyric: Like a G6

 

Song: Bohemian Rhapsody   Band: Queen

Misheard Lyric: Saving his life from this warm sausage tea…

Correct Lyric: Spare him his life from this monstrosity

 

Song: Message In A Bottle  Band: Police

Misheard Lyric: Massage in a brothel

Correct Lyric: Message in a bottle

 

Song:  Living on a Prayer  Band: Bon Jovi

Misheard Lyric:  It doesn’t make a difference if we’re naked or not…

Correct Lyric: It doesn’t make a difference if we make it or not.

 

Song: Bad Moon Rising  Band: Credence Clearwater Revival

Misheard Lyric: There’s a bathroom on the right…

Correct Lyric: There’s a bad moon on the rise.

 

Beauty and the Cowboy - 1-SummerFair_BeautyAndTheCowboy_Round2Medium-672x1024 (2)What’s your favorite misheard lyric? I’ll give away an e-copy of my latest release, Beauty and the Cowboy, to one person who comments below.

 

 

 


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