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?

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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?"

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Spotlight and Giveaway: Beau: Cowboy Protector by Marin Thomas


Beau's Saddle-Making Hobby


In Beau: Cowboy Protector, the hero's hobby is saddle-making.  He became interested in working with leather in middle school and basically taught himself the art of making a saddle.  

Beau's a busy cowboy rodeoing and helping out at Thunder Ranch but in his spare time he makes saddles that Austin Wright sells in his store, Wright's Western Wear and Tact on Main Street in Roundup.  As a matter of fact, the store is across the street from the Number 1 Diner and Sierra often catches herself starring at the saddles through the diner window, hoping to catch a glimpse of Beau when he comes into town to see if he sold one. 

Beau doesn't have the best relationship with his father and while growing up there were times when Beau just needed to get away and cool off, so he'd retreat to a room at the back of the barn and make leather items.  As he became more gifted, he made saddles and earned extra money.



The Western saddle is the most common saddle used with working horses on cattle ranches. They are the "cowboy" saddles familiar to movie viewers, rodeo fans, trail rides at guest ranches and the heroes in romance books use them. The saddle was designed to provide security and comfort to the rider when spending long hours on a horse, traveling over rugged terrain. The design of the Western saddle derives from the saddles of the Spanish vaqueros- the early horse trainers and cattle handlers of Mexico and the American Southwest. It was developed for the purpose of working cattle across vast areas. A very functional item was also added: the saddle "horn." This style of saddle allowed vaqueros to control cattle by use of a rope around the neck of the animal, tied or dallied (wrapped without a knot) around the horn.
      Roping saddle: Heavy, sturdy saddle that usually has a thicker horn for securing a rope, low cantle, and slick fork that allows rider to dismount quickly when needed.


Cutting saddle: Has a deep seat and wide swells allows the rider to sit deep and
securely through sharp stops and turns.


Reining saddle: Has a deep seat to allow the rider to sit deeply and more freely-swinging fenders for more leg movement on the rider's part.

Barrel racing saddle: Lightweight saddle with wide swells and high cantle which
allows rider to sit securely but also allows the horse to perform fast sprints and
sharp turns.








Giveaway: I will be giving away a copy of my Harts book Beau: Cowboy Protector and Texas photo frame to one lucky Winner. 

To Enter Giveaway: Please complete the Rafflecopter Form Below and post a comment:  You know….there's nothing more sigh-worthy than the sight of a cowboy in the saddle….don't You agree?

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***** HARTS Blog Giveaway Alert : There will be a new giveaway posted here every week, where I will be giving away a copy of Beau: Cowboy Protector + Texas Gift to one lucky winner.
PLUS a GRAND PRIZE of $25 GC and a copy of Beau: Cowboy Protector to one lucky winner. ****
(To be eligible to win grand prize - you must have posted a comment on the weekly blog post)

About the Author
Marin Thomas Best-selling Harlequin author Marin Thomas grew up in Janesville, Wisconsin. She left the Midwest to attend college at the University of Arizona in Tucson, where she played basketball for the Lady Wildcats and earned a B.A. in Radio-TV.  Following graduation she married her college sweetheart in a five-minute ceremony at the historical Little Chapel of the West in Las Vegas, Nevada. Over the years she and her husband and two children have lived in seven different states but have now come full circle and returned to Arizona where the rugged desert and breathtaking sunsets provide plenty of inspiration for Marin's cowboy books.  Beau: Cowboy Protector is Marin’s 22nd book for the American Romance line. For more information on Marin’s books visit www.marinthomas.com and stop by her blog, All My Heroes are Cowboys, www.marinthomas.blogspot.com where Marin chats about the men who wear Stetsons and Wranglers









Sunday, November 11, 2012

Spotlight and Giveaway: Beau: Cowboy Protector by Marin Thomas

 Joshua & Jordan: A secondary Romance


    When I was handed the short synopsis for Beau: Cowboy Protector, I was asked to include a Secondary romance between Beau's father, Joshua Adams, (Older brother to Sarah Hart) and Sierra's Aunt, Jordan Peterson,(younger sister to Sierra's deceased mother).

    I admit I was a little intimidated by the thought of writing two love stories in one book and I knew that Beau and Sierra's relationship would take up most of the page count so when I brainstormed the back story for Jordan and Joshua I decided to make their romance a "second-chance-at-love" story.


Jordan Peterson

 
Age 58
Born and raised in Roundup
Went steady with Joshua all through high school
Went away to college and earned a performing arts degree
Became a theatrical dance
Met her husband in California—an officer in the military.
Traveled the world with her husband
In her early thirties she was diagnosed with the same eye disease 
as Sierra Went blind in her early fifties
Her husband died of a heart attack two years ago
Owns a condo in Florida
She arrives in Roundup in July after hearing from friends that Sierra is acting strangely
Jordan has a yellow lab seeing-eye dog named Molly


  
Joshua Adams


Age 58
Older brother to Sarah Hart, matriarch of Thunder Ranch
Lives in a smaller house on Thunder Ranch
He's responsible for taking care of the cattle and bull-breeding operation
He moved to Thunder Ranch after his sons' mother died in a car accident when the twins were 2 He's been in love with Jordan since high school and has never gotten over her





In order to add a little tension between the older couples' romance and the younger couples' I made sure Sierra and Beau had different reactions to the older couple's relationship.  

Sierra is thrilled her aunt and Joshua are getting along and hopes Joshua can convince her aunt to move to Roundup and live there permanently.  Sierra desperately wants her aunt close by to help her navigate the rough waters ahead when she loses her eyesight.  

Beau feels a bit differently.  Ever since Jordan arrived in town his father has been passing off his ranch duties to beau and duke in order to spend time with Jordan.  And if that isn’t bad enough, Joshua warns Beau to keep his distance from Sierra because he doesn’t want anything to ruin his second chance with Jordan.  Beau is angry that his own father would put himself first and not his own son.

With a setup like that you can imagine that Beau and his father have a few confrontations, but in the end, it's a romance and everyone must get their over happy-ever-after.

Giveaway: I will be giving away a copy of my Harts book Beau: Cowboy Protector and Texas wall hook to one lucky Winner. 

To Enter Giveaway: Please complete the Rafflecopter Form Below and post a comment:
As a reader….do you like secondary romances in your books?
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***** HARTS Blog Giveaway Alert : There will be a new giveaway posted here every week, where I will be giving away a copy of Beau: Cowboy Protector + Texas Gift to one lucky winner.
PLUS a GRAND PRIZE of $25 GC and a copy of Beau: Cowboy Protector to one lucky winner. ****
(To be eligible to win grand prize - you must have posted a comment on the weekly blog post)

About the Author
Marin Thomas Best-selling Harlequin author Marin Thomas grew up in Janesville, Wisconsin. She left the Midwest to attend college at the University of Arizona in Tucson, where she played basketball for the Lady Wildcats and earned a B.A. in Radio-TV.  Following graduation she married her college sweetheart in a five-minute ceremony at the historical Little Chapel of the West in Las Vegas, Nevada. Over the years she and her husband and two children have lived in seven different states but have now come full circle and returned to Arizona where the rugged desert and breathtaking sunsets provide plenty of inspiration for Marin's cowboy books.  Beau: Cowboy Protector is Marin’s 22nd book for the American Romance line. For more information on Marin’s books visit www.marinthomas.com and stop by her blog, All My Heroes are Cowboys, www.marinthomas.blogspot.com where Marin chats about the men who wear Stetsons and Wranglers








Sunday, November 4, 2012

Spotlight and Giveaway: Beau: Cowboy Protector by Marin Thomas


The Number 1 Diner

In Beau: Cowboy Protector, the heroine, Sierra Byrne, owns and runs the town's diner.  Here's the back story behind the Number 1 Diner in Roundup, Montana.


The city of Roundup, MT was incorporated in 1908 and was built, owned and operated by the Republic Coal Company—aka the St. Paul-Milwaukee-Chicago Railroad. The first mine opened was known as Number 1, which was found at the base of the town, later moved south of the Musselshell River (the river was named by Lewis and Clark). A total of seven mines went into operation, but of those only four were good producers. The coal was shipped to South Dakota once mined, to power the railroad’s ventures.

When the book opens….Sierra's parents had died in plane crash five years prior and Sierra had used her inheritance to relocate to Roundup and open a diner.  Up until then, Sierra had run a catering business in Chicago—she's a graduate of the famous Le Cordon Bleu Program in Chicago also known as CHIC.  Sierra's mother had been born and raised in Roundup and Sierra had spent her summers growing up at their family cabin along the Musselshell River.  Since her great-grandfather had been a miner at the Number 1 Mine for years and had died when one of the mine shafts flooded, Sierra decided to name the diner in honor of her great-grandfather and the other miners who'd perished in the flood. 

When Sierra began her search for the perfect property to open a diner it turned out that the old newspaper building in town was for sale.  (The building had been used by A.W. Eiselein who began publishing the Roundup Record-Tribune in 1908.  The tribune has since become the oldest newspaper in Montana published by one family.)   Sierra got a great deal on the property and used the lower level of the building for the diner and the upper level as an apartment for herself. 

Here's a photo of downtown Roundup from years gone by, which helped me visualize the area while writing my book.



The sign above the diner door is a larger-than life coal bucket with chunks of coal spilling out…at night the coal chunks glow red. 


 The inside of the diner is decorated with old mining artifacts from the Number 1 Mine and several framed photographs of the deceased miners. 



Decorating the lunch counter and tables are miniature coals buckets, which hold condiments.  The booth tables are sparkly red Formica with black leather seats…same for the lunch counter and the floor is black and white tiled linoleum squares and of course the diner has a jukebox!  

  
Weekly Specials at the Number 1 Diner


Sunday: Roast Tip Sirloin of Beef Au Jus
Monday: Club Steak Sandwich
Tuesday: Meatloaf
Wednesday: Beef Stroganoff
Thursday Stuffed Peppers
Friday Chopped Steak Sandwich
Saturday: Homemade Beef Potpie

*****
Beau's favorite meal….Roast Tip Sirloin
  

INGREDIENTS:
3 pounds sirloin tip roast
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon ketchup
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup dry red wine

DIRECTIONS:
Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.
Trim excess fat from beef. Mix salt, mustard, garlic powder and pepper on waxed paper. Pat evenly over beef. Preheat a heavy skillet over high heat. Spray bottom of skillet with cooking spray; immediately add beef. Sear approximately 2 minutes per side. Be sure there's a nice crust before turning over.  Place beef in a roasting pan.
Blend ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, and red wine; pour over beef. Place in oven. Roast for 11/2 to 2 hours or until very tender. Remove beef from oven and let stand for several minutes. Cut into slices.
*****

Beau's favorite dessert…Peach Cobbler
 Ingredients
8 fresh peaches - peeled, pitted and sliced into thin wedges, 1/4 cup white sugar,1/4 cup brown sugar,1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon,1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg,1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice,2 teaspoons cornstarch,1 cup all-purpose flour,1/4 cup white sugar,1/4 cup brown sugar,1 teaspoon baking powder,1/2 teaspoon salt,6 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small pieces,1/4 cup boiling water, MIX TOGETHER: 3 tablespoons white sugar and 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Directions
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C). In a large bowl, combine peaches, 1/4 cup white sugar, 1/4 cup brown sugar, 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, nutmeg, lemon juice, and cornstarch. Toss to coat evenly, and pour into a 2 quart baking dish. Bake in preheated oven for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine flour, 1/4 cup white sugar, 1/4 cup brown sugar, baking powder, and salt. Blend in butter with your fingertips, or a pastry blender, until mixture resembles coarse meal. Stir in water until just combined. Remove peaches from oven, and drop spoonfuls of topping over them. Sprinkle entire cobbler with the sugar and cinnamon mixture. Bake until topping is golden, about 30 minutes.

Giveaway: I will be giving away a copy of my Harts book Beau: Cowboy Protector and John Wayne Playing Cards to one lucky Winner. 

To Enter Giveaway: Please complete the Rafflecopter Form Below and post a comment:
Have you ever eaten at an  old-fashioned diner?  If you did, what was the d├ęcor like? 



***** HARTS Blog Giveaway Alert : There will be a new giveaway posted here every week, where I will be giving away a copy of Beau: Cowboy Protector + Texas Gift to one lucky winner.
PLUS a GRAND PRIZE of $25 GC and a copy of Beau: Cowboy Protector to one lucky winner. ****
(To be eligible to win grand prize - you must have posted a comment on the weekly blog post)

About the Author
Marin Thomas Best-selling Harlequin author Marin Thomas grew up in Janesville, Wisconsin. She left the Midwest to attend college at the University of Arizona in Tucson, where she played basketball for the Lady Wildcats and earned a B.A. in Radio-TV.  Following graduation she married her college sweetheart in a five-minute ceremony at the historical Little Chapel of the West in Las Vegas, Nevada. Over the years she and her husband and two children have lived in seven different states but have now come full circle and returned to Arizona where the rugged desert and breathtaking sunsets provide plenty of inspiration for Marin's cowboy books.  Beau: Cowboy Protector is Marin’s 22nd book for the American Romance line. For more information on Marin’s books visit www.marinthomas.com and stop by her blog, All My Heroes are Cowboys, www.marinthomas.blogspot.com where Marin chats about the men who wear Stetsons and Wranglers

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Spotlight and Giveaway: Marin Thomas talks Character Bibles

Character Bibles

The authors of Harts of the Rodeo—Born to Ride series were all given an editorial bible…a few handouts describing the backdrop of the series and a brief outline for each authors' book.  Some authors cringe at the thought of not creating their hero or heroine from scratch, but I find being handed an editorial "bible" challenging and fun.  Best of all, I'm always surprised by how much I learn through research as I plot my book.

This was the character summary I was given for the heroine in Beau: Cowboy Protector. 

"Owns a restaurant in town, across from Wright's Western Wear and Tack, where Beau sells his custom saddles and bridles.  Has a genetic disorder where she is going blind, and she's wondering how she's going to work in the future. Fuchs Endothelial Dystrophy, (a disease of the cornea). Her aunt Jordan has just come to live with her to help her out—but Jordan's genetic blindness is much more advanced."


I'd never written a character with such a forbidding future….I can't imagine knowing years in advance that one day you would wake up and see nothing.  My first job before beginning my book was to research the genetic eye disease that my character had inherited.  

According to Wikipedia  Fuchs Endothelial Dystrophy (FED) is a slowly progressing corneal disease that usually affects both eyes and is slightly more common in women than in men. Although doctors can often see early signs of Fuchs' dystrophy in people in their 30s and 40s, the disease rarely affects vision until people reach their 50s and 60s.

Thankfully, I was able to give my character a little bit of hope… Some patients with FED are good candidates for a corneal transplant where their diseased cornea is replaced by donated corneal tissue.  And in much of the research I did, I learned that many people with FED don't go completely blind until they're in their 50's or older.

Since Sierra is 31, I decided that she'd had trouble with her vision for a long while before my book opened.  Because Sierra made appearances in the previous 4 books in the series I asked the other authors to give readers a glimpse of Sierra's vision troubles…for example, she had a small fender bender in book 1 because her peripheral eyesight was deteriorating and she hadn’t been able to see the car parked directly behind hers.  When my book opens in October the readers shouldn't be surprised by the predicament Sierra finds herself in at the end of the first chapter.

The challenge with writing a character with a debilitating disease was how to make her sympathetic yet strong enough not to lose faith in herself and her ability to confront handle her personal crisis. 

Sierra wouldn't be human if she didn't experience a wide range of emotions after receiving the devastating news…denial, anger, fear, determination.

 After the initial shock of her diagnosis wears off, Sierra decides to create her own bucket list and do the things she's always dreamed of doing before she loses her sight. So what's on Sierra's bucket list….?  You'll have to read the book to find out...

Giveaway: I will be giving away a copy of my Harts book Beau: Cowboy Protector and a little Texan door Hanger to one lucky Winner. 

To Enter Giveaway: Please complete the Rafflecopter Form Below and post a comment:

After writing Beau: Cowboy Protector, I gave serious thought to creating my own bucket list.  I've always dreamed of driving historical Route 66 in a pink 59' Cadillac. 
If you could only do one thing on your bucket list…..what would it be?


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***** HARTS Blog Giveaway Alert : There will be a new giveaway posted here every week, where I will be giving away a copy of Beau: Cowboy Protector + Texas Gift to one lucky winner.
PLUS a GRAND PRIZE of $25 GC and a copy of Beau: Cowboy Protector to one lucky winner. ****
(To be eligible to win grand prize - you must post a comment on weekly blog post)

 About the Author
Marin Thomas Best-selling Harlequin author Marin Thomas grew up in Janesville, Wisconsin. She left the Midwest to attend college at the University of Arizona in Tucson, where she played basketball for the Lady Wildcats and earned a B.A. in Radio-TV.  Following graduation she married her college sweetheart in a five-minute ceremony at the historical Little Chapel of the West in Las Vegas, Nevada. Over the years she and her husband and two children have lived in seven different states but have now come full circle and returned to Arizona where the rugged desert and breathtaking sunsets provide plenty of inspiration for Marin's cowboy books.  Beau: Cowboy Protector is Marin’s 22nd book for the American Romance line. For more information on Marin’s books visit www.marinthomas.com and stop by her blog, All My Heroes are Cowboys, www.marinthomas.blogspot.com where Marin chats about the men who wear Stetsons and Wranglers