Thursday, December 13, 2012

Spotlight & Giveaway: Tomas: Cowboy Homecoming

Today it is my pleasure to welcome Harlequin author Linda Warren to HJ!
- Linda welcome, for all of my readers who may not be familiar with your work, could you tell us a bit about yourself and your books?

Hi, Sara and everyone. I’m a fourth generation Texan married to my high school sweetheart. I write for Harlequin SuperRomance and Harlequin American. I’m currently working on my 33rd book. I grew up on a ranch in Texas so I write a lot about cowboys. Oh, yeah!

- What inspired you to write your first book?
Love of Harlequin books. I’d read them for years, but never imagined I’d one day write one. In college I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis and on those days when the pain was bad I could lose myself in a Harlequin romance. They made me cry. They made me smile. And they made me sigh with a sunshiny-happy feeling. Somewhere along the way the thought entered my head that I could write one—maybe give someone else that feel-good feeling. It was a challenge, but I was determined not to give up.    

- What is your writing process like, what comes first, characters or story?
The story. An idea will pop into my head, when I’m watching TV or a movie or reading, and my mind is off creating the story and then I develop the characters. It’s all in my head before I even put anything into the computer.

- What’s your all-time favorite movie or book?
That’s a tough question, but I have to say Gone With the Wind is right at the top. It was on a movie channel last week and I watched it again. I never understood what Scarlett saw in wimpy Ashley when handsome alpha Rhett was around. But it was what the author intended—to capture our attention. And it certainly did. It’s a movie you never forget.

- What's Next? Can you share a little of your current work with us?
I’m writing a trilogy for SuperRomance titled Willow Creek, Texas. The first book comes out in July ’13 - A Texas Hero. In Oct ’13 - A Texas Family will follow, and then A Texas Child will be released in Dec ’13. After that, I have a Harlequin American in ’14, no title yet.

(You asked about my writing process and what comes first. Here’s an example) Last year Texas suffered through the worst drought in its history. Lakes, creeks and ponds dried up. Wildfires were rampant. One was about ten miles from our home. It was scary. That’s when the idea for a wildfire in a book popped into my mind. So in A Texas Hero I have two strangers caught in a wildfire. I just turned in the revisions. It’s action paced.

- Please tell us about your new release "Tomas: Cowboy Homecoming".
Tomas is the last book in the Harts of the Rodeo series. The Harts are struggling to save their ranch by rodeoing to make money. My character “Tuf” is the youngest Hart and a Marine. He’s unaware of the trouble at home until he returns. Suffering from PTSD, he tries to fit in again. He’s quickly attracted to Cheyenne Sundell who has her own problems. Her Marine husband committed suicide. I had two emotionally scarred characters to bring together against the backdrop of the rodeo.

- 3 words that best describe Tuf and Cheyene characters
Afraid to love.

- What where the challenges you faced writing this story
I had two challenges.
#1 – Cheyenne and Tuf are emotionally scarred. Her husband committed suicide and Tuf has psychology problems from the war. It took a lot of research to understand how these two wounded characters would respond to each other.
#2 – Since I had the last book, I had to deal with five other couples while focusing on Tuf and Cheyenne’s love story. And work in the black stallion, Midnight, who was also a character. The first draft was 85,000 words. I had to cut 30,000 words for it to fit the American line. Major headache. 

- If you had to pick your favorite scene "Tomas: Cowboy Homecoming"....
Cheyenne has twin four-year-old daughters traumatized by their father’s suicide. Tuf is very gentle and caring with them. Some of those scenes are my favorite.

- Please give us a behind the scenes look into what is involved in writing a Series such as "Harts of the Rodeo".
It’s awesome. Kathleen Scheibling, Senior Editor of Harlequin American, created a Bible for us to follow (characters and plot). After we received that, the six authors, Cathy McDavid, C.J. Carmichael, Roz Fox, Shelley Galloway, Marin Thomas and me brainstormed for weeks. Emails were flying like crazy as we plotted our individual books. Then we had to send in a synopsis for our books which had to be approved by the editors. After that 3 chapters had to be turned in. Since our books came out in different months, we had different deadlines. If something was changed in one book it had to be changed in all the books—a lot of attention to detail. Being part of a series takes a lot of time, but it’s worth every minute. It’s an invaluable learning experience. Everyone is considerate and supportive and we worked together as a team to create the best series possible.      

Giveaway: Linda will be giving away a print book and 2 eBook copies of Tomas: Cowboy Homecoming

To enter giveaway: Please complete the Rafflecopter form below and post a comment to this Q: Do you enjoy reading a series and why? Or why not?

a Rafflecopter giveaway

An excerpt from Tomas: Cowboy Homecoming

Tuf brought the cool outdoors in with him. He removed his gloves and held his hands to the fire. "I need new gloves. I think I've worn these out. Feel." He cupped her face with his hands and she lost all train of thought. The roughened male skin against her soft face shot her adrenaline through the roof. She knew he intended to show her how cold his hands were, but all she felt was warmth all the way to her toes.

His dark eyes stared into hers and the world stopped turning for a brief moment as she realized just how much she liked Tuf Hart. Friends. She kept trying to remind herself. Friends weren't even on her radar. Friends with benefits weren't even an option. How did she get from no to the delicious thoughts in her head?

She hated that he could make her so wishy-washy when she intended to be firm in her decision.

"You seem tense." He removed his hands.

"I want to make it clear that we're just friends."

"Okay." His gaze grew intense. "Something else is bothering you."

She looked into his brown eyes and saw a vortex of dark emotions that still lingered from the war. But he wasn't trying to hide them like Ryan had. Seeing the turmoil on his face she knew she had to be honest. "I'm a mess. My emotions are helter-skelter and I do my best to get through each day for my girls. But—" she shifted uneasily "—when you cupped my face, I felt warm and feminine again."

"Is there something wrong with that?"

"Yes. I'm an emotional wreck and I'm finding every excuse I can to stay away from you."

"Well, then, stop nailing up excuses like barbed wire to keep me away. Let's just take this one day at a time. What do you say?"

She licked her dry lips. "Tuf…why would you want to do that? I can't see any kind of future for us. We both have too much baggage."

"But there's an attraction between us. It's been there since we were teenagers." His dark eyes were as inviting as the chocolate on a Milky Way bar. "Can you deny that?"

"No, but I'm scared." Oh, God! Had she said that out loud?

"I know. I am too."

His honesty startled her and she just stared at him, all her defenses down. But she didn't feel weak or vulnerable. She was uplifted knowing she wasn't alone in her fears.

"Is it okay if I continue to stop by?"