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.
In my new Montana Born novella, THE LONG WAY HOME, heroine Abby Foster’s father is sick and wants to see her safely married and well provided for before he dies.
Oh, Dad. From the safety of our reading chairs, we all know what a terrible mistake that is.
But the urge to protect your child is probably the most powerful force in the universe. (Well, maybe the second most powerful…<g>)
Our primitive instinct to shelter, comfort, heal and defend our offspring makes us do crazy things.
And it’s often at war with our brain, which knows that protecting them from everything is a) impossible, and b) dumb.
If they don’t make mistakes, how will they learn to be wise? If we rush in to eliminate pain, how will they learn to endure it without looking for a quick fix? If we imply, even subtly, that we don’t trust them to handle their own problems, how will they learn to trust themselves?
And who is to say we always know what’s right, anyhow?
Even when we understand all those pitfalls, it’s still hard to stand back and let your child suffer. Yet sometimes it truly is the right move.
I remember so well the day I learned this lesson.
One night, Boychild, still very young, had a Big Game with his first Little League team. At this Big Game, he made a Big Mistake. I can’t remember now exactly what went wrong. Maybe he made a bad throw. Maybe he dropped a fly ball and let the other team win. It was a real mistake, not a misunderstanding.
Whatever it was, it devastated him. The other kids were upset, too, and took it out on him. He kept his head up in public, but when we got on the road, he began to cry. He lay down with his head in my lap (he was still that young) and let the waves of disappointment, embarrassment and misery wash over him.
I nearly died. I adore Boychild and could gleefully have kicked every one of the other little ballplayers in the keester for hurting him. But I had no idea what to say. Everything I thought of seemed to make it worse, miss the point, or sound horribly patronizing.
I couldn’t say he hadn’t screwed up, because he had. I couldn’t say the other kids were jerks, because how would blaming them help him? I couldn’t say “man up,” because I think that’s dangerous baloney. I couldn’t say it didn’t matter in the big picture, because that denied his reality. I couldn’t say he’d feel better later, because. for a kid, at a moment like that “later” doesn’t exist.
So I just put my hand on his shoulder and let him cry. As he talked it out, and I said absolutely nothing, I felt like the worst mother in the world. Where was my wisdom? Where was my magic mommy medicine? Where was my big, rousing, Braveheart-moment speech?
My son was in pain, and I was a failure.
The ballpark had been in another little town, and it took us forever to get home. It was probably the longest thirty minutes of my life. His tears dwindled away, and he went through all the phases of grief, and I still didn’t say a word.
When we pulled into the garage, he jumped up, hugged me around the neck and, beaming, said, “I love you so much, Mommy!” Then he bounded into the house and moved on with his life.
Though he probably struck out, double faulted, or threw an interception many times in his life after that, he never shed a tear over it again.
Amazingly, because I’d choked, I’d accidentally allowed him to learn a lot of priceless lessons.
You don’t have to make pain go away instantly—it won’t kill you.
You don’t have to blame anyone else, or lash out, in order to try to ease your discomfort.
You can be honest about how you feel, because the people you love won’t tell you it’s crazy to feel that way.
Most importantly, this, too, shall pass.
And he wasn’t the only one who learned something important. My parenting changed that day, because I learned that sometimes your best move is to stay out of it.
Sometimes all you need to say is nothing at all.
How about you? Have there been any times when someone trying to console you said all the wrong things? Is there anyone in your life who understands the healing power of an understanding silence? I’m giving away a $10 Amazon gift certificate and a copy of THE LONG WAY HOME to one random commenter today!
I’m a writer, so obviously I’d love to be able to pose as a language prodigy and tell everyone I was born with a copy of Hamlet in my hand, delighting my parents with my fluid crib readings of the Bard.
Unfortunately, that’s not the real story. In the real story, I’m a second child, and, as so often happens, my mother had already purged all that maternal “must teach daughter to read ASAP or will be failure as parent” anxiety from her psyche with my older sister. Mom adopted a far more laissez faire attitude with me. She read TO me, but she obviously figured hey, the nuns can handle the phonics-reading thing… the tuition is high enough, for heaven’s sake.
Even at six, it really nettled me that my sister could read, and I couldn’t. But for some reason I accepted that we had to wait till I started first grade. Word is, I was like a horse fidgeting at the starting gate. When the school bell went off, and the gate opened, I picked up a book, and from that moment until I conquered reading, no one saw my face. They saw only an open book with my convent-school uniform extending below it.
I ate with one hand, walked around bumping into things, bathed holding the pages above the water. It took me forever to put on my socks, because I had to dangle them out with my free hand, then wiggle my toes around like blind newborn kittens until they found the opening and wormed their way in.
Maybe because I waited so long, or because it was so exciting to teach myself, the books I read back then will always be extra special to me. Or maybe they were just terrific books. I made a point of buying as many of them as I could for my own kids—either vintage or reprints—and they loved the stories, too.
Here are a few I’ll never outgrow:
The Story of Ferdinand, by Munro Leaf, illustrated by Robert Lawson. This, I’m sure, is the book I’m holding in this picture, taken when I had just turned seven. I don’t know if Ferdinand made me a peace-maker personality, or if I loved Ferdinand because I already had that personality, but it felt as if this book had been written specifically for me.
The Golden Egg Book, by Margaret Wise Brown, illustrated by Leonard Wisegard. The bunny trying to figure out what will hatch from an egg he discovers enchanted me, because both he and the duck are so uninhibited and natural. They kick each other and roll each other down hills. They get impatient, and then get bored. It’s childhood in a nutshell…I mean, eggshell.
I Can Fly, by Ruth Krauss, illustrated by Mary Blair. Though I didn’t know it, this book introduced us to all kinds of poetic tricks, like rhyme and onomatopoeia. And we always acted it out, which was awesome.
The Bumper Book, a collection of stories and poems. Mostly, I adored the colorful pictures. The stories were too hard for me that year, but I’d heard the poems so often I learned to read the letters by matching them to the words I knew by heart. I remember reading aloud the lines “Hush! Hush! Whisper who dares! Christopher Robin is saying his prayers” with exactly the same intonation my mom had always used. Very grave, very reverent.
McElligot’s Pool, by Dr. Seuss. To this day, the opening line of this darling book is one of my favorites in all fiction. “Young man,” laughed the farmer, “you’re sort of a fool! You’ll never catch fish in McElligot’s Pool!” What kid doesn’t love to see the grumpy old pessimist realize he might be the fool?
What about you? Do you remember learning to read? Do you still own any of your favorite childhood books? Did you read any of them with your own children? I’m giving away a ten dollar gift certificate to Amazon.com to one randomly chosen poster today, so I hope you’ll take a minute so share!
It’s funny how adoption works, you see families with kids that look just like their adoptive parents. For our family, I’ve certainly had people tell me that both of my daughters favor me – I don’t see it, but I know that the stuff underneath, there’s a whole lot in common. Yeah, we could say it’s all nurture, but I don’t think that explains all of it. Some of it is simply divine matching – the way The Professor and I found our girls – out of all the couples in the world and all the kids in the world, we somehow found each other. And they are OUR kids. Sometimes I even forget they aren’t of our blood.
For example, Busybee, well, she and I aren’t a lot alike. She’s an extrovert and full of energy and smiles and joy. I’m not saying I’m a grump, but I’m more quiet and reflective. But there’s this one way in which we are totally alike and it kinda cracks me up. I noticed it first a few years ago when I bought them the Thanksgiving Little People play set. The box they came in is a reusable one so we keep them in there and on the top is a picture of the playset all set up. Busybee would look at the box and set everything up just so and get kind of anxious if her sister came along and changed things. More recently this has manifested itself in play with her sister – Babybee is a free spirit in many ways and has an imagination a mile long – so she will try to correct and manage how her sister is playing to make sure she does it the “right” way. I can totally relate to this, I get it, I’m the same way, but Babybee, she’s not like that – she does her own thing. So I try to remind Busybee that her sister can play however she wants even if that means pretending her mermaid is actually a blue elephant.
So I don’t have the same outlandish imagination that Babybee has, but we have other similarities. She’s an introvert, doesn’t care for crowds. But she’s also really precise. Even when she was really little, she was very specific about the way she did things. Where her creative play is bold and colors outside the lines, if you will, her artistic techniques are linear and clear. I can give her and Busybee the same art project, leave the room and come back and know just which one Babybee has done, all of her stickers will be perfect aligned. She’s the only kiddo in her classroom at Mother’s Day Out who is allowed to do the glueing herself on her art projects because she does it just so. She even sits like me, with her legs crossed over one another just like I do, just like my grandmother sat. They have similarities with The Professor too.
It’s crazy to me how perfectly they match us, how perfectly the fit in our family, how they create our family. Family life is messy and hectic and amazing and exhausting and everything in between. But family, no matter how you create yours, is a miracle and I am one blessed mama.
Hey, Jaunties! I have a special guest for you today. Unfortunately, our scheduled guest couldn’t make an appearance, but I managed to persuade my husband, Mr. Galen, to step in. Okay, I sort of cornered him and started asking him questions, but he was a good sport in the end. So, welcome Mr. Galen—the Ultimate Sportsfan himself.
Shana: Welcome. I think the first question readers will have is what’s it like to be married to a romance author?
USF: I’m not sure what it’s like to be married to all romance authors, but the one I’m married to in particular I would have to describe as determined. I don’t think that there’s anyone who works harder at her craft or who is more dedicated to writing better and better books. I’d also add sacrifice as a way to describe her because there are many hours of lost sleep and long nights toiling at the stories that swirl around in her head.
Shana: Aww! Thanks. Tell us a bit about you and what you do.
USF: I’m your average, every day romance hero. Or maybe not exactly. I work for a large safety-net health care organization in the health care administration field. I work with physicians, management, and leadership to try and improve the health care delivery system within our organization. It can be very challenging and rewarding when work that I do impacts patients in a positive way.
As for my secret, double life as a romance hero, I’m a rogue who likes the sporting life. And as much as I would like to take credit for the love scenes in my wife’s books, I’ll leave it up to everyone’s imagination if they are based on real life or not. I have, however, had to turn down opportunities to be on the covers because I didn’t think it would be a good opportunity.
Shana: Readers, if only you could see my eyes rolling since none of that last paragraph is true. USF, do you read your wife’s books? How do you know of these love scenes you speak of?
USF: I have read several of them, but not all, I’m ashamed to say. As in many of my wife’s books, I feel that opposites attract. My wife is a voracious reader, but I would have to say that my wife’s release is the last novel I read.
Shana: That would be my 2006 release.
USF: No comment.
Shana: Why do I call you USF?
USF: As all romance husbands have cool nicknames, the natural one that came to mind was Ultimate Sportsfan, or USF, because I enjoy sports. I like to watch in person and on television as a hobby.
Shana: Are there any sports you don’t enjoy?
USF: (Long pause) I’ve been asked this question before and had only seen plane racing once and thought I didn’t like it. But then I was flipping through the channels a few months later, caught it again, and decided I do like plane racing. So, no, I’ve never met a sport I didn’t like.
Shana: Last question. What’s the best thing about having a 4-year-old daughter, Princess Galen?
USF: The best thing is her excitement at learning new things, the unbridled joy that she shows when she’s having fun, and her capacity for loving in the way that only a child can. Plus, she’s the only 4-year-old I know that has a romance bookmark collection and a social media pseudonym. She’s brought great joy to my life, and I’m thankful every day that we have her.
Shana: Thanks for joining us today. I’ll be back tomorrow with a new blog!