Several of the Jaunty Quills were in San Antonio last week for the Romance Writers of America conference. We thought you’d like to see some photos from the conference (at the bottom of the page, there’s a legend telling about each photo).
1. Cindy and Nancy with former Jaunty Emily McKay at the Harlequin Party.
2. Cindy and Nora Roberts.
3. The gorgeous decorations at the Harlequin party.
4. Friday was Cindy’s birthday. Harlequin threw a big party just for her. Shhh! Don’t tell her they the party was for everyone.
5. The annual Jaunty Quills breakfast.
6. Kristan and Alexander Rodriguez.
7. Nancy at the Harlequin authors book signing (signing Cindy’s birthday card).
8. Kristan at the Harlequin authors book signing.
9. Nancy and Kathy before the workshop they presented.
10. Nancy, Jane Porter, and Kathy at the Harlequin party.
11. Raeanne Thayne, Nancy, and Kristan.
12. Cindy, Nancy, Kathy and Harlequin editor Susan Litman at the Harlequin party.
13. Harlequin editor Patience Bloom and Cindy at the Harlequin party.
14. Nancy and Kathy.
15. Robyn at the RWA Literacy signing.
16. Shana looking beautiful before her publisher’s party.
17. Shana and Mia before the Golden Heart and Rita awards.
18. Shana at the RWA Literacy signing.
19. Nancy at the RWA Literacy book signing.
20. Nancy, Kathy, and Mary Louise Wells realize former Jaunty Terri Brisbin was on their flight home.
21. Kristan, Gail Kirkpatrick Chianese, Virginia Kantra, and Jesse.
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!
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.
In July, I’ll celebrate the release of my first Montana Born novella, BEAUTY AND THE COWBOY. It’s part of Tule Publishing Group’s Big Marietta Fair series. I’m so excited to be part of this project. Aren’t the covers wonderful? I’m in love with each and every one of them. Working with the five other talented authors (including our very own, Katherine Garbera) was such fun and it brought back all sorts of memories of times I spent at summer fairs.
When I was a kid, instead of going away to camp, my little brother and I used to spend summers with my grandparents. We lived in Florida and my grandparents were in the Midwest. So, this annual trip was a very big deal.
My grandmother was so much fun and she took great pride in spoiling us rotten. One of the biggest treats was when we went to the fair. I loved the sights and sounds, the cotton candy and the snow cones. Back then I had no fear of roller coasters…Well, that is until I met The Wild Mouse.
Sounds terrifying, doesn’t it? It was, believe me. To this day, hearing the words Wild Mouse strikes fear in my heart. Good thing we don’t hear those words used together very often.
At this particular fair, I was the only one of our clan who was brave enough to challenge The Wild Mouse. I was simply disgusted with everyone for being such chickens. I was going to show them how it was done. I marched my eight-year-old self up there and rode alone. Okay, maybe I was nine or twelve…I don’t remember…but I digress.
My grand display of bravery was cut short right after the first ninety degree turn. In fact, I was nearly paralyzed with fear. I just knew I was going to die. The track seemed rickety. If it didn’t collapse, I swore the car I was riding in was going to go flying off the track.
It didn’t. Every time I talk about it, someone makes fun of me…Ooooh, that terrifying Wild Mouse that ruined you for all roller coasters.
Since no one believed me, I finally got smart and Googled it. And guess what? The Wild Mouse has its own Wikipedia page! Yes it does, thank you very much. And that’s not all. Wikipedia confirms that even though it’s a small, slow-ish ride, it is, indeed a scary coaster. The way the track was designed it did give the illusion that your car would miss the turn and sail right off the track and die. Then, when it turned, you wished it would’ve sailed off the end because then you feared you were going to fall out of the darn thing…and die.
It may have nearly scared me to death, and, yes, it ruined me for other roller coasters, but after all these years, it’s still a good memory. When I think back to the summers of my youth, our adventures at the fair are some of my best-loved times.
BEAUTY AND THE COWBOY, which will be available July 11, doesn’t feature a scary roller coaster, but it is a friends-to-lovers story set amidst the Big Marietta Fair. I’ll tell you more about Jesse and Charlotte’s love story as we get closer to the release date. The other Fair authors and I will be giving away some very fun prizes as each of the books launches. More on that, too, in the days to come.
Today, I want to treat one person who posts to a $10 Amazon.com gift card. Tell me your favorite fair memory. Did you go to the fair as a kid? Do you still go? Did you fall in love at the fair? Did you ever get stuck at the top of the Ferris wheel with someone special or have a terrifying experience on a ride? Oh! Did you ever brave The Wild Mouse?! I can’t wait to hear your fair stories.
Mother’s Day is a bittersweet time for me. My mom died on Mother’s Day several years before I got married and had my daughter. The Norwegian tries hard to make the day nice. He always gets me flowers and fixes my favorite breakfast. I force my heart to be half-full and think about how grateful I am to have a wonderful, loving daughter. Still, I’m not going to lie, the thought that College Girl never had the privilege of knowing my mom does flounder around in the half-empty part of me. I see so much of my mom in my daughter that sometimes it takes my breath away. I just know that the two of them would’ve gotten along so well and been very close. I tease my daughter and say that if her grandmother was still alive I would probably feel left out because I know they would’ve been two peas in a very exclusive pod. And you don’t know what I would give to be living that today.
So, on Mother’s Day this past Sunday, College Girl and I took some flowers to mom’s grave. I don’t really like going to the cemetery because I don’t “feel” my mom there. Honestly, I don’t like to think of that as her final resting place. But out of daughterly duty I go every so often to make sure she has fresh, bright silk flowers in her vase. I never linger. I put the flowers in place, make sure everything looks good – pull weeds if need be – and go. There are other places where I feel closer to her, like the beach because she loved it so much or when I drink my nightly mug of Sleepy Time tea (a ritual she and I used to share).
Still, Mother’s Day seemed like a good time for College Girl and me to visit the grave. Armed with a bouquet of vivid silk Gerbera daisies, she and I went, placed the flowers and were walking back to the car when a nice woman, who sported a cemetery nametag – her name was Ivy, which I found a little ironic seeing how the plant sometimes grows over graves — drove up on a golf cart. She offered us chilled bottles of water from a cooler and asked if everything was to our satisfaction. It was. In fact, the grounds looked extra nice (no weeds to pull this time). They had obviously gone the extra mile in preparation for the heavier Mother’s Day visitation. Then perky Ivy asked us to drop by the office because they were giving away free apple pies in honor of Mother’s Day. She must’ve seen me hesitate (I’ve never been offered water or pie at the cemetery) because she said, “Please do. We still have about 75 pies left and we really don’t want them to go to waste.” So we claimed our pie, and on the way home, College Girl said, “It’s kind of like Grandma sent that pie to us.”
The more I thought about it, the more I realized it did feel like a gift from her. I’m not saying that in the literal sense. They had stacks of pies in that office. I know my mom didn’t send it special delivery from heaven. But the cemetery is large. We weren’t the only visitors and we were in and out of the car in less than five minutes. Ivy could’ve easily been on the other side of the grounds or she could’ve talked to the other parties first and we would’ve been able to slip in and out without even knowing about the pie. The more I thought about it, it did feel like a gift from my mom.
I can’t say free pie makes me any more eager to visit the cemetery. I’d rather go to the beach and imagine I hear my mom’s voice in the wind and surf, and sense her spirit out there on the horizon, where heaven meets earth. But how cool that for one day – Mother’s Day – it sort of felt as if all three generations were together. It was one of the nicest Mother’s Days ever.
How about you, is there a place you feel you should go, but would rather not? If so, do you force yourself to go or not?
Please check out my May release FALLING FOR FORTUNE, book five in the 2014 Fortunes of Texas series. RT Book Reviews gives it four stars.