Welcome back, Storybroads! It’s good to be home.

Thanks to Tara Taylor Quinn for getting this valued blog back up and running. I don’t know what went on behind the scenes, but I’m sure Tara got in a good punch or two because here we are. ;-)

I’m currently working on a new series while enjoying a much needed break in the weather. This has been a rough summer for my part of California: hot, dry and way too many fires. To kind of bring you up to date, I’ll share a bit from my most recent newsletter.

Welcome, Autumn header

We just celebrated my daughter’s “Fabulous & Forty” birthday with a big party and dancing under the stars. The weather finally has a touch of chill in the evenings, and we couldn’t be happier. The photo below is of Kelly with two great friends from high school. (Kendra, left, Jenni, middle, and Kelly, right.) I’m so proud of these awesome women, who are kind, generous, supportive of each other, involved in their community, and great role models for their children.

Kelly and pals

The day after the party, my hubby and I made a 50-mile drive to view some of the more remote burn areas of the Detwiler Fire. We were amazed by how huge the scope of this fire was, but you can’t help but be impressed by how many homes were saved. Kudos to CALFIRE and all of the fabulous First Responders. Every day, we see huge trucks on the highway carting away debris from the fifty-plus destroyed homes, but Mother Nature has already begun the work reclaiming her hold at the base of so many of the skeleton trees.

after the fire

Next week, I’ll share a couple of fun autumnal recipes and other timely news, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t share the latest–and final–book in our Love at the Chocolate Shop series.

Sweet Dreams, Baby

by C.J. Carmichael

Carmichael-SweetDreamsBaby

Three weeks ago, Portia Bishop mailed a letter to the father of her baby, Saddle Bronc rider Austin Bradshaw. It’s a letter she should have written a long time ago—like when she first found out she was pregnant, shortly after she ended things with Austin, dropped out of college, and went running to her family in Marietta, Montana.Austin has loved Portia since he first laid his eyes on her in college. A year ago, he convinced her to do something impulsive and very romantic. Now, as he opens her letter, Austin has two reasons to return to Marietta–win back the heart of the woman he still loves and convince her he’s a good bet for a forever man and father.
Purchase SWEET DREAMS, BABY
          

Twelve months, twelve sweet romances, six authors. If you like chocolate and romance, you can’t go wrong. #whatlovetasteslike

All 12 covers

 ~~~

I hope you’re enjoying the last few days of September. See you next week! It really is good to be back.

Deb

The Big Game

Am I the only one who doesn’t care about the Superbowl?

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I understand pro sports from a commercial point of view. There’s money to be made across the board for players, owners, entertainers and advertisers. And when it comes to the big game, the host city, the airlines, and every company in any way associated with this production will benefit. I’m okay with that, but I can’t work up any enthusiasm for it.

When I was trying to come up with a blog today, I considered giving you some Big Game Recipes. A blogger friend of mine at GRACEANDGRAVY, offered 12 Top Superbowl Recipes that included: Oreo Cookie Ball Gameday CupcakesFried Macaroni and Cheese BitesLoaded Sweet Potato Fries, to name a few.  Oh, my gosh, no. I don’t eat those kinds of things on non-game days, so why would I go to all that work when two teams I have no vested in get together to play a game?

Normally, I’d be curled up with a book on Sunday afternoon, but because my brother-in-law is visiting from South Dakota, I will be attending a Superbowl Party this Sunday. I’m taking kale salad and slow-cooked ribs with Kinder’s Organic Barbecue Sauce. Very little prep work. I may still have time to read. ;-)

And while others are glued to the passing game or debating whether or not one team has under-inflated balls (how emasculating is that?), I will check out a few of the overpriced and sometimes very entertaining commercials. In years past, I’ve applauded Budweiser’s creative team for tugging on my heartstrings, but, I’m sorry to say, this year’s dog and pony show left me underwhelmed.

A wolf? Really?

Yep. I think I’m going to have to stick to reading. But, hey, to all of you who are big fans of New England or Seattle, good luck and game on!

Deb

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Please Redeem Me

So what happens when you have a character show up in the first book of your 4-part series who is so annoying and unlikeable reviewers call him “a complete and utter PITA”? (P I T A = pain in the arse…as my mother would have said.)

Well…naturally, you make him your next HERO.

My working image of Austen Zabrinski.

My working image of Austen Zabrinski.

In Cowgirl Come Home, my hero’s brother, Austen Zabrinski, shows up repeatedly. He’s…um…difficult. He has attitude. Here’s a snippet. Tell me if this sounds like a hero to you?

She only had a vague recollection of Paul’s older brother since he left for college before she and Paul started dating. But everybody in Marietta knew Austen.

His name had been in the Courier every week since he was MVP in at least three sports. All the girls wanted to date him, although he never had a steady that Bailey could remember. He gave the class speech at graduation. She knew that for a fact because she’d been selected as one of the four freshman girls to pass out programs at the door.

She’d listened closely because he had the audacity to buck the system, showing up with his longish hair artfully tousled, a movie-star goatee and bare ankles, hinting that he was wearing shorts under his gown.

At the time, Bailey had been impressed.

Now, not so much. She’d met more than her share of promoters, lawyers and wealthy stockmen over the years. And one thing she knew for certain was money did not automatically signify class.

More nervous than she had been when she left the house, she walked slowly and deliberately, trying not to limp.

Show no weakness. She couldn’t remember if the adage applied to wild animals and lawyers, or just lawyers.

Thank goodness I called in an order. She could pick it up and run. No need to bring up the ridiculous idea of going on a date. No harm, no foul.

She went straight to the cash register, not looking right or left. “Bailey Jenkins. To-go,” she told the young woman behind the till.

The girl–about sixteen working her first summer job, Bailey guessed–spun about and dashed to the kitchen window, where a clothesline of white orders were strung.

“Ironically appropriate, don’t you agree? A To-Go order. Your modus operandi, no?”

She turned, her purse clutched to her belly–bling side out, as if the glitter might magically ward off the attack she sensed coming. “I beg your pardon?”

Austen had changed since the cocky kid at the school podium. More than the expensive suit and cover-model haircut, his style shouted, “Warning: rich, influential, angry man with agenda. Look out.”

He leaned in. Not so his words were kept between them. No. In fact, he spoke loudly, with succinct clarity so the entire jury of her peers could hear. “It’s not my pardon you need to beg, Bailey. It’s my brother’s.”

I know. Right? A complete and utter jerk. So, what on earth would possess an author to pick such an unlikable character to make her next hero?

I wish I could tell you. I honestly don’t know. But I will say I found Austen intriguing. I wanted to know why he was so caustic, so judgmental. I loved his brother, Paul, so much I figured if Paul was so great surely there was some good, something redeemable in Austen.

And I learned a long time ago, while working with my first editor, that sometimes you don’t have any choice about who your characters choose to love.

My third Harlequin Superromance is called BACK IN KANSAS. This is a spin-off from a book titled His Daddy’s Eyes. The hero, Bo, is a recovering alcoholic. And in the course of writing His Daddy’s Eyes, he proved to be a very annoying character because he constantly wanted to be on center stage. I hate to admit this to non-writers, but there came a time when I said out loud, “If you want to be a hero, you can be a hero in the next book. Now, back off and be a good secondary character so I can finish this book.”

As strange as that sounds, he did. So, when I was working on my next proposal, I talked to my editor about who I thought would make a good heroine for Bo. She hesitated a moment and said, “But, obviously he’s in love with Chloe.”

It was my turn to hesitate a moment or three. “But Chloe is a reformed prostitute,” I reminded her.

My editor replied, nonchalantly, “I’m sure our readers are evolved enough to know that not every character comes to a story with an unblemished past.”

The voice in my head is freaking out. “There’s blemished and then there’s prostitute!”

To my editor, of course, I said, “Okay. Let’s give that a try. ”

What came out of that collaboration was a story that scared me to death to write but connected powerfully with readers. And from that point on, I no longer was afraid of unredeemable characters.

The fact is every one of us has our not-so-heroic moments. We’re human. Maybe that’s what makes the difficult ones–real and imagined–easy to relate to.

Austen Zabrinski is very human. When we meet him in COWGIRL COME HOME, he’s going through an extremely tough time (off screen). He’s at a crossroads in his life and he’s questioning whether everything he’s done to that point was for naught. We don’t know any of this until he shows up on my new heroine’s doorstep needing help. Luckily, as fate would have it, she is the perfect person to help him figure out exactly where he needs to be and who he really is.

I love it when that happens. Don’t you?

PS: the title of this blog made me think of Englebert Humperdink’s 1985 hit Please Release Me. Here’s the link in case you need a laugh. http://youtu.be/6S9ecXWCBCc I’m still giggling.

And if you’d like to “meet” Austen Zabrinski, leave a comment. I’ll pick one winner to receive a review copy of NOBODY’S COWBOY next week.

Austen--as the hero I always knew he could be.

Austen–as the hero I always knew he could be.

Deb

 

Last call…you could win a KindleFire!

Today is the LAST day to enter the Storybroads awesome KindleFire contest, which includes an uploaded book from each Storybroad.

One quick comment will get you in the running.

I’ll make it easy for you. Pick one from the six choices below.

Or, maybe you’re like me…I’ll be hunkered down tonight with a good romance. Tell me what you’re reading.

Be safe, my friends. And Happy Halloween. Good luck to our Storybroads winner.

Frankenstein

Frankenstein

or Wolfman?

or Wolfman?

 

Sleepy Hollow?

or Walking Dead?

Tricks? ;-)

Tricks? ;-)

or Treats?

or Treats?

 

Free again…sorta

I’m happy to say I am cast-free. Almost.

photo 1

I saw my orthopedic doctor yesterday. (And met yet another hunky young intern. OMG! What is it about orthopedic/sports medicine that attracts handsome young men to the field? ;-) )

photo 2

Dr. Pistel showed me my X-ray and actually high-fived me for healing so well. LOL.

photo 3

He told me I could start to wean myself off the cast.

Wean myself off the cast? What a strange thing to say. In my mind, I’d planned to toss the darn thing in the air like a high school graduate and run from the building shouting in joy.

But a few minutes in the company of the handsome young intern who asked me to do all sorts of common hand gestures to test the strength and flexibility of my wrist proved this baby bird wasn’t ready to fly solo. Ouch.

Although my bone has knitted nicely, my muscles and connective tissue have zero strength. “Let’s go with the Marx Brother’s school of medicine,” my doctor said. “Do anything you want, but if it hurts, stop doing it.”

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So where does that leave me? Weaning…and waiting for Physical Therapy to start.

I dictated this blog on my iPad using Dragon. I find the application useful for making notes, but I don’t enjoy using dictation for my creative writing. It feels too stilted and requires a LOT of editing. Maybe if I kept at it longer I’d be better, but I plan to get back to work on my next Big Sky Mavericks book today–typing without a cast!!!–right after I get back from fifth grade.

Yep. You heard me right. I’m headed to my granddaughters’ school today to talk to my sweet Miss M’s class. Miss M is an avid reader, and when the print copies of Cowgirl Come Home arrived — the feeling never gets old!–she begged me to read it.

Cowgirl come home box

No. Sorry, dear, it’s a very adult story. But, after some discussion with her mother, my daughter-in-law decided to give her my very first Harlequin Superromance, That Cowboy’s Kids.

Miss M That Cowboys Kids

Naturally, she went to school the next day and said, “I’m reading my grandmother’s book.” Her teacher, who is new to the school, sent me post-it note inviting me to talk to the class about creative writing.

I couldn’t say no because my one of my favorite memories of helping in my children’s classroom took place at this SAME school when my son and daughter were in fifth and sixth grades. I love that life has come full circle yet again.

So, I’m taking off in a bit–wrist in cast–to talk about creative imagery and how to work all five senses into your writing. Cool topic! I wish I could bring along my other Storybroads! True masters of their craft!

Take care, all. Thanks for letting me share this odd little part of my journey. Healing takes time. I just have to keep reminding myself of that. In the meantime, the Marx Brothers and I are going to do anything that doesn’t hurt. ;-)

Deb