Jodi Thomas Celebrating Two Books!

Netflix started the shooting for Ransom Canyon in February, and I can’t help feeling it’s come full circle. When I first thought of writing this series, I had only planned on doing six books about ranches around a small canyon. Ransom Canyon is a few miles from Lubbock, Texas, and I used to drive around there when I was in college at Texas Tech. I always thought it was a beautiful place, and I wanted to write a story about ranch life around there.

I knew I wanted to write six books, but I wanted to keep one storyline of four kids, from the time they were fifteen to when they were twenty-three, threading through the series. So, when Random House formally offered me the contract for my Ransom Canyon series, buying only two books, I turned it down. I have never turned that much money down in my life. And I was thinking, “Oh man, I could use that money.”  But I still said no.

Afterward, I called Gail Fortune, my agent, and told her I had turned down the contract. And she said, “Harlequin has been waiting to talk to you.” So, I left the office, and I went for a walk in the mall. About an hour later, Harlequin called me, a conference call with the editor in chief, an editor, and their publicist; they wanted six books and two short stories. So, I went to work on Ransom Canyon.

I knew I was taking a risk with this series because I was writing a very Western series, even though it is contemporary. It was a risk because Westerns are not as popular as other genres. But I had to write it.

To begin this series, I turned the little room out back of our house that we call the bunk house into Ransom Canyon. HQN gave me six months to put the proposals together. And during that time, I built Ransom Canyon’s world and wrote the short story “Winter’s Camp.” I did a lot of research to make the series just right, and it’s very dear to my heart. I love it because it is so character rich!

The first book of this series is called Ransom Canyon. It set up all the stories in the books to come. My main character is Staten; he is a successful rancher, an honest man, a strong man, and totally broken because he has lost both his wife and his son. He turns to his life-long friend Quinn because they both need someone. I loved writing their story, and I can’t wait to see it come to life on the screen. I always dreamed of having one of my books become a movie or TV show, and it has been so exciting to watch.

I look back on when I first started this series, and I’m so glad I wrote the story I wanted. I’ve loved this journey, and I can’t wait to see where it goes from here. But before we all climb into the saddle this fall to watch the TV show Ransom Canyon, travel back with me to Someday Valley and read my new book The Wild Lavender Bookshop, coming out April 23!

For a chance to win this new book, tell me who you’re most looking forward to seeing brought to life on the screen.

Winter Wonderland Romance

When I was thinking about the third book in my Winter Wishes series, I knew who the heroine would be. She was the former love of the hero in the second book, Sleigh Bell Serenade. Olivia Burton left town quite suddenly and unexpectedly, leaving Bo with a broken heart. Thankfully, he’s moved on and is ready to find his happily ever after – eventually.

Anyway, I knew Olivia needed her own sweet romance and the opportunity to fall in love. The only questions was what hero would be perfect for her.

I happened to see a cover Covers and Cupcakes had for sale one day and it just screamed “buy me for Olivia’s story!” so I did. Who was I to argue with a screaming book cover?

It was perfect for the title of Winter Wonderland Romance.

So, after studying the guy on the cover, the story for our hero, Alex Adams started to take shape in my thoughts.

Turns out, Alex is a veteran, dealing with PTSD,  and in desperate need of peace and quiet away from his well-meaning but suffocating family. Alex heads to the wintery mountain town of Pinehill with his dog, Dude. (Yes, the dog’s name is Dude and every time I type it, I might smile.)

Olivia has returned to Pinehill to take over the medical practice there when the old doctor who was her mentor wants to retire. Although her teenage self had vowed to never return to her hometown, she finds she doesn’t detest living there as much as she anticipated.

When Dude eats something he shouldn’t, Alex races to the clinic and begs Olivia to help his dog (there isn’t a veterinarian in town). She does, swears him to secrecy, and the two of them begin to form a tenuous bond.

She never wanted to return to her hometown.
He needed an escape from his family.
When a chance meeting brings them together, will their attraction keep them from drifting apart?

Doctor Olivia Burton never intended to return to her hometown of Pinehill. After graduating high school, she set off on a new path, eager to leave her past behind. However, years later, an unexpected phone call from her mentor pulls her back to Pinehill to take over a thriving medical practice as the town’s primary physician. Determined to avoid the local gossip mill, Olivia attempts to keep a low profile as she settles back into the community.

Alex Adams is desperate for an escape from his well-meaning but suffocating family. After a life-altering explosion ended his military career, he finds himself plagued with post-traumatic stress disorder. Surrounded by his loud and overbearing family only intensifies his struggles. Seeking respite, he retreats to his aunt’s mountain cabin in Pinehill, desperate for peace and quiet.

When a chance encounter brings Alex and Olivia together, the sparks begin to fly. Olivia, cautious and hesitant to let anyone into her guarded heart, begins to question if it’s time to leave her past behind and embrace the possibility of a winter wonderland romance. Alex, yearning for connection and understanding, finds himself drawn to Olivia’s warmth and kindness.

As they spend more time together, will Olivia and Alex discover that love, much like freshly fallen snow, has a way of blanketing everything in a layer of beauty?

Uncover the joys that come with new beginnings, the transformative power of love, and the magic that can be found in the simplest moments in this sweet, wholesome, and tender romance.

If you could stroll through a Winter Wonderland,

where would it be and who would be with you?

Share your answer for a chance to win a digital copy of all three books

in the Winter Wishes series!

A Chef, a Cook, and a Sweet Romance

Tomorrow is the day!

Release day for Challenging the Chef!

I’m thrilled to share this book with you because it was such a joy to write Owen and Tawni’s story.

Owen had it all. A skyrocketing career as a celebrity chef, a life in New York many only dream of. But when his uncle needed him, Owen walked away from it all. After his uncle’s death, he stayed in Summer Creek, a small-town full of people who flock to Owen’s restaurant, and not just because it’s the only place open for dinner.

Tawni loves to cook, and is excited about learning from the celebrity chef she had a crush on during her enter last year of college.

But when these two meet, nothing is like their expectations.

 

When an interloper arrives in his kitchen, will romance start to simmer?

Chef Owen Thorpe left behind his celebrity status when he moved to Summer Creek. The quaint town and country atmosphere allow him to seek solace in his recipes. His peace and quiet is threatened when he’s coerced into being part of a big auction package that includes the winner spending a week cooking with him in his restaurant. The last thing he wants is some chef wannabe in his way. However, the real danger he faces is losing his heart when the winner turns out to be a beautiful woman who knows her way around a kitchen.

Burdened by the weight of her demanding career as a school psychologist, Tawni Young turns to cooking and gardening to escape from the never-ending stress of her work. When her aunt gifts her an auction package that includes cooking lessons in the small town of Summer Creek, Tawni realizes the chef she’ll be working with is none other than a celebrity she had a huge crush on during her college years. From the moment the two of them meet, an undeniable attraction sizzles while wits collide.

As they embark on a tantalizing journey of culinary delights, will Tawni and Owen discover the most important ingredient is love?

In this heartwarming and deliciously wholesome tale, Challenging the Chef takes readers on a savory adventure filled with sweet romance.

You can read the first chapter here!

Read the entire Summer Creek Series!

  • Catching the Cowboy
  • Rescuing the Rancher
  • Protecting the Princess
  • Distracting the Deputy
  • Guiding the Grouch
  • Challenging the Chef

What’s one thing you do to relax or unwind? 

Please share your answer in the comments.

I like to bake!

Also, if you haven’t yet, you can download a free Summer Creek themed bundle of goodies that includes a short story, printable bookmarks, a puzzle, coloring pages, and a recipe!

Enjoy the Journey with Jodi Thomas

A big welcome to Jodi Thomas today! We’re so pleased to have her join us again!

The Wild Lavender Bookshop is my second book in the Someday Valley series, a spin off of my Honey Creek series. The Wild Lavender Bookshop will be out in April of 2024. I enjoyed writing this book for two reasons. One, I love bookstores. When I was writing about the bookshop it was fun to describe the people I see in bookstores and libraries every day. Two, I enjoyed writing a character who had no idea where he was going in life.  

It seemed when I was young I could never decide what I wanted to be when I grew up. I was working in high school and I was in the bottom fourth of my class, but I decided I should go to college because Tom (my then future husband) was going to college, and I was crazy about him my senior year. Of course, he never even talked to me. But he was going so I decided to go too. The only thing was I had no idea what to major in. I wanted to be a writer, but I can’t spell. And my mother told me to major in home economics because it was a course that would always be there. I went to Amarillo College and then Texas Tech and got a degree in family studies and became a marriage counselor. I hated it. People came in and yelled all the time, so I went back and got a degree in counseling, majoring in grief. I still didn’t know what I wanted to be, but I was happy.  

When I started this book, I had a character in mind who was drifting too, just like I had. Sometimes, you’re not looking for a thing; you’re looking for a person. My character, Noah, wanted to be a writer, so I began to think about how most writers stumble into their careers. I think most people through life look for their place in the world, and some of them spend their whole lives looking. While a rare few actually find what they’re searching for.  

As always, when I write small towns, I met many interesting characters. And I brought back a few characters from Strawberry Lane that I loved. I hope you’ll join me in Honey Creek again in The Wild Lavender Bookshop and enjoy the journey as much as I did.  

Giveaway!

For a chance to win a free autographed copy of Strawberry Lane,
just share about a dream you had of going somewhere for years.
Was it as exciting as you expected when you got there?
I had always dreamed of going to Paris, and when I got there it was beautiful, but I was ready to come home.
I find when I’m driving alone between Amarillo and Lubbock, that is a most beautiful prairie drive.

With millions of books in print, Jodi Thomas is both a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of over 60 novels and countless short story collections. Her stories travel through the past and present days of Texas and draw readers from around the world.

 In July 2006, Jodi was the 11th writer to be inducted into the Romance Writers of America Hall of Fame. With five RITA’s to her credit, along with National Readers’ Choice Awards and Booksellers’ Best Awards, Thomas has proven her skill as a master storyteller.

 Honored in 2002 as a Distinguished Alumni by Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas, Thomas also served as Writer in Residence at West Texas A&M University in Canyon, Texas. Jodi was inducted into the Texas Literary Hall of Fame in 2022.

 When not working on a novel or inspiring students to pursue a writing career, Thomas enjoys traveling, renovating a historic home, and “checking on” two grown sons and four grandchildren.

 

Challenging the Chef

Between our kitchen model and life in general, being able to have time and my mind in the right mental space for writing has been a bit of a challenge in recent months.

Finally, I finished the sweet and wholesome small-town contemporary romance I’d originally hoped to release in July.

Challenging the Chef will release October 19! I’m so thrilled to share this story with you!

I’m fortunate you can’t gain weight by drooling over Pinterest recipes because I sure found a lot of tasty ideas to include in this book. Writing it made me so hungry and eager to get in my kitchen and create something!

The book is about Owen Thorpe, a former celebrity chef who moved to a tiny little Eastern Oregon town to help his uncle during his last days before he passed away. Owen settled into the community of Summer Creek and decided to stay. He inherited his uncle’s dive bar and restaurant, and is working hard to change the reputation of the Broken Bucket to a destination for people who love good food. Owen gets coerced into contributing a week of cooking lessons to an auction package. He has visions of a middle-aged foodie winning the package and driving him nuts.

Tawni Young is a school psychologist. The demands of her job are stressful, so she uses cooking and gardening as her therapy to relax and unwind. When her aunt wins the Summer Creek auction package and gives it to Tawni as a gift, Tawni is shocked to realize the cooking lessons are with a celebrity chef she had a huge crush on in college.

When they meet, nothing is like either of them had expected.

 

When an interloper arrives in his kitchen, will romance start to simmer?

Chef Owen Thorpe left behind his celebrity status when he moved to Summer Creek. The quaint town and country atmosphere allow him to seek solace in his recipes. His peace and quiet is threatened when he’s coerced into being part of a big auction package that includes the winner spending a week cooking with him in his restaurant. The last thing he wants is some chef wannabe in his way. However, the real danger he faces is losing his heart when the winner turns out to be a beautiful woman who knows her way around a kitchen.

Burdened by the weight of her demanding career as a school psychologist, Tawni Young turns to cooking and gardening to escape from the never-ending stress of her work. When her aunt gifts her an auction package that includes cooking lessons in the small town of Summer Creek, Tawni realizes the chef she’ll be working with is none other than a celebrity she had a huge crush on during her college years. From the moment the two of them meet, an undeniable attraction sizzles while wits collide.

As they embark on a tantalizing journey of culinary delights, will Tawni and Owen discover the most important ingredient is love?

In this heartwarming and deliciously wholesome tale, Challenging the Chef takes readers on a savory adventure filled with sweet romance.

 

 

If you could win an experience with a celebrity,

who would you choose and what would the experience be? 

Share your answer for a chance to win an autographed copy of

Catching the Cowboy,

the first book in the Summer Creek series.

I’d love the chance to learn photography from someone who has great skill at it, especially for shooting live action (like rodeos). One of my favorites is Matt Cohen.

 

Guest Post by Tina Wheeler

CONFESSIONS OF AN URBAN COWGIRL

You might think this Love Inspired Suspense author, who writes about law enforcement cowboys, lives on a ranch. Sadly, I don’t. I live in a suburb of Phoenix. The closest I came was vacationing at The Ranch in the White Mountains of Arizona many times. Most of my childhood was spent on Air Force bases, which I loved. I may not have seen horses running around every day, but I did watch jets fly overhead with great pride. My father was one of the many men and women who protected our country.

So how did I end up writing suspense novels featuring cowboys? While growing up, I watched Bonanza, The Big Valley, Gunsmoke, The Wild, Wild West, etc. with my siblings and then mystery shows with my mother. We also often took visitors from other states to Old Tucson, a wild west studio where movies were filmed, staring actors such as John Wayne, Maureen O’Hara, Clint Eastwood, Audie Murphy, Kirk Douglas, Paul Newman, Kurt Russell, Val Kilmer, Sam Elliott, and many more. Arizona is also the home to Tombstone, a real wild west town and the sight of the famous Wyatt Earp gunfight at the O.K. Corral. Locals, tourists, and visitors often dress in 19th century style clothing, which adds to the historic mood and fun. Outside Phoenix is the Pioneer Living History Museum. A cousin of mine had his wedding in the old church and a reception in the saloon.

Tough old west gangster with prostitute and group of people

After I graduated from college, I married a Texas lawman and lived outside Dallas during the ‘80s. This was when the movie Urban Cowboy made western wear high fashion. The black-and-white picture is me when I worked as an assistant children’s librarian. I loved my cowgirl boots. After wearing them out, I saved them for trail rides. Unlike my bronco riding cousin, I am afraid of getting hurt, so I tried to stick to the calmest horses.

My favorite story is how I rode a spooked horse and lived to tell the tale. It was during a trail ride on The Ranch. I rode Big Red, a retired racehorse. He was huge! I was enjoying the sunny day on horseback when a dust devil crossed our path. Arizona does get haboobs (pictured), so I was glad this one was basically a shed-sized tornado made of dirt.

Haboob dust storm in the Arizona desert

Big Red started bucking. I maintained a death grip on the reins. There was no way I was letting go. Although at one point, I did look down at an overgrown bush and thought for sure that was where I was going to land. But it turned out my fear of injury was greater than his. In the end, I stayed on Big Red and was able to calm him down. Okay, he probably did that all by himself. But, hey, it’s a fun story.

So is the time I was given permission to sit in an F-16 fighter jet, and the pilot turned out to be the officer I had danced with the night before. Neither of us told my father—until later. Life sure is interesting, and so is writing fiction.

 

Ranch Showdown

Seeking refuge at a ranch…

Has fiery consequences

After being threatened by her sister’s ex, Sierra Lowery has forty-eight hours to surrender documents linking him to a bombing before he kills her and kidnaps her nephew. With the evidence missing and anyone who helps becoming a target, hiding out with Detective Cole Walker, her college sweetheart, might be her only chance for survival. But as explosives detonate in the wake of their search, their ranch safe haven could become a dangerous trap.

 

BUY LINK 

More About Tina

Tina Wheeler, a Publishers Weekly Bestselling Author, writes inspirational romantic suspense for Harlequin. Although she grew up near a desert in Arizona, her favorite place to plot a new story is on a balcony overlooking the ocean. She enjoys spending time with her large extended family, brainstorming with writing friends, discovering new restaurants, and traveling with her husband. Visit authortinawheeler.com to read more.

Join her newsletter for book news and giveaways:

 

 

 

Giveaway (print if US, eBook if international)

Tina is giving away a copy of Ranch Showdown. To enter the random drawing, leave a comment telling us what types of stories you enjoy reading or watching.

Legend of the American Cowboy by Jan Scarbrough

The Legend of the American Cowboy

Why do we love the legendary American cowboy?
Answer: Because he (or she) is who we want to be.

Real cowboys (and cowgirls like Annie Oakley) became romanticized in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, because the public admired the qualities they represented.

Duncan Emrich in a book entitled Folklore in the American Land claims that America has two original legends: Santa Claus and the cowboy.

In his book, Emrich lists these common attributes of an American cowboy.

  • Individualism
  • Independence
  • Freedom
  • Not given to bragging (I’ll insert “humble” here)
  • Courage
  • Cheerfulness
  • Pride
  • Loyalty
  • True to his word
  • Generosity
  • Kindness
  • Unbeatable

Women readers love a good cowboy tale because true cowboys esteem women. Emrich writes, “One of the strictest codes of the West was to respect women. No other class of men looked upon women with greater reverence.”

So, when you see the hunky cowboys on the covers of modern romance novels, remember they should represent an American ideal and someone we want to fall in love with.

I’ve written two contemporary Western romance series. One four book series is called Ghost Mountain Ranch. It’s not simply a sweet romance, but there’s a mystery element to all three books, which you must read to finally find the “bad guy.”

BUY LINK

I’ve combined The Ghost Mountain Ranch into a box set and into a paperback. I’ll give away one paperback book to one lucky reader who answers these questions in the comments: I mostly read eBooks on my Kindle app. Do you buy eBooks? Paperbacks? Do you like to hold a paperback book in your hand, or do you prefer to swipe to turn pages?

Also, if you read eBooks and you’d like one of my eBooks free, sign up for my newsletter HERE  and download a book!

 

 

A COWBOY FOR THE SUMMER–by Danica Favorite (AND A GIVEAWAY!)

It’s funny, when I first decided to write A Cowboy for the Summer, I had in mind a May/December romance, and that was going to be a huge focus of the story. After all, we see all these older men with younger women in the media, but why not have an older woman get the young guy for a change? But something funny happened during the writing of the book, and as always happens, the story takes over and it becomes something I didn’t expect.

For those who’ve been following the Shepherd’s Creek series, you know that Abigail has long been the rock of the family, having taken over the mothering portion of raising her sister, Laura, and her cousin, Josie, when their mothers died. So where is the happily ever after for a woman who has devoted her life to others? I started thinking about Abigail and all the things she had given up to be there for her family. Having a younger man in her life, just starting out, gave her the vision to see what her own dreams might look like. The story very quickly became the idea of what it means to finally examine what your dreams look like.

Interestingly enough, as I was writing this story, I had the chance to leave my job of nearly 20 years for a new job. My editor commented that she wondered how much of Abigail’s story was about me and the changes I was going through. As I told her, while this is very much Abigail’s story, I think it’s one that many women can relate to, spending their lives devoted to family, and having a moment where they have the chance to follow something else. As a newly-minted empty nester, I’m finding lots of opportunities to ask myself the question, “what next?”

I’m currently writing this from Budapest, where my new company is headquartered. I’ve been in Europe for work for almost three weeks, and my family is at home. A few years ago, I would have never been able to leave them, so now I’m taking advantage of my dream to see the world. The picture of my book is me, on release day, showing off my book in Hungary. I’d have never imagined this opportunity a few years ago.

Some of you are in stages of life where you can’t go to Europe for a few weeks, and that’s okay. But I hope, wherever you are in life, that you take a look at your dreams, and even if you can’t do the big thing you’ve always wanted to do, that you find some way of getting closer to it. You never know where it will lead, even if it’s something you don’t think is possible now.

 

About the book:

A city boy with a plan…

Is in for the ride of his life.

Click cover to order.

Isaac Johnston will do anything to get his counseling degree, even a summer camp internship with two things he dislikes—Abigail Shepherd and horses. As Abigail helps him overcome his horse phobia, Isaac becomes drawn to his former nemesis. But Abigail thinks a relationship with a man several years her junior is out of the question. Can they face their insecurities together…and find that love is worth the risk?

ONE LUCKY COMMENTER WILL RECEIVE A COPY OF A COWBOY FOR THE SUMMER!
Just tell me about your dreams! Do you hold a secret dream in your heart?

What Defines a Cowboy?

I needed another photo and thought we could use a picture of a good looking cowboy.

Webster’s defines a cowboy this way. (1) one who tends cattle or horses (2) a rodeo performer (3) one having qualities (such as recklessness, aggressiveness, or independence) popularly associated with cowboys: such as aa reckless driver ba business or businessperson operating in an uncontrolled or unregulated manner. The first two are obvious and I agree, but the last definition? Who wrote that? Aggressive? Reckless driver? Maybe they’re confusing cowboy with renegade? I don’t know. But they don’t see the same “qualities” I see in a cowboy. And I refuse to even discuss the businessman one. The only part that definition has right is independent. In my opinion, Merriam-Webster blew it by failing to see what else makes a cowboy.

First, being aggressive makes me think of a bully. When I think of a cowboy, I think of John Wayne in movies where his character stood up for those who needed a champion. Big Jake and The Cowboys come to mind as examples. He stands up for what’s right, does what needs to be done no matter what the personal cost, and he certainly isn’t a reckless driver. See me shaking my head over this one yet again. He may take a risk, but he’s not reckless or as Webster says, “acting without thinking or caring about the consequences of an action.”

A cowboy possesses what some today call old-fashioned manners and values. They’re willing to work hard and can be counted on to finish the job. The words “yes, ma’am” are part of their vocabulary, and more importantly, used. No matter what their age, they call their parents’ friends Mr. and Mrs. to show respect. When I wrote my first novel with a cowboy hero Big City Cowboy, (which happened to be the only idea of that type I had at the time), the inciting incident forced my hero to go to New York to model. However, I wanted a reason other than to save his ranch. I asked myself what a cowboy loved more than his ranch or his horse. The answer his mom popped into my head. For me, that’s the kind of values a cowboy possesses. He values hard work, family, his heritage, and respects women.

But I write non-traditional cowboy heroes. Not all of them live or even grew up on a ranch. I think my expanded definition of a cowboy resulted from my son going to Texas A&M University. While there he became more “western,” more cowboy-like. Though looking back, I see glimpses when in high school he worked at the Heritage Farmstead, a historical farm and museum, and drove a tractor. But I started seeing the “cowboy” in him more when he attended A&M. Mainly because the culture at the university and in College Station, Texas, has a lot in common with cowboy values. It’s why my Wishing, Texas series has cowboy in the title despite not all those heroes living or growing up on a ranch.

So, back to good old Merriam-Webster. What are your thoughts on a cowboy? Does he have to be someone who owns a ranch, grew up on one, or competes in rodeos?  What do you think makes a man a cowboy?

That last thing I’ll say is, the trick is how to weed out a nontraditional cowboy from those who are all hat and no cattle. But I’ll save that discussion for another day.

 

A New Book, A New Lesson

 

I’m excited for Aiming for His Heart to be released on June 30th. Writing this book, the tenth story in our Pink Pistol Sisterhood series, challenged me in many ways. First, at 40,000 words, it’s the shortest story I’ve written. I hear those who know me well laughing because you know I can’t say hello in less than fifty words. 🙂  In my first writing classes, the instructor asked if I was taking her class on writing tighter. To my I hadn’t decided answer, she responded that I needed to. Despite hard work on that, I struggled 60,000 word Harlequin novels within the overage allowance.

I also had less time to write this story. When I start a book, I count on two things happening. I’ll start in the wrong place, either too far into the story or too far . I’ll take wrong turns. Sure enough. Both happened with Aiming for His Heart. In fact, the wrong turns were so disastrous I pretty much started over once. Maybe twice. While I was proud of writing in the shorter time frame, as a tortoise writing (unlike many of my amazing rabbit speed writing filly sisters), doing so took its toll.

However, the main challenge came from my heroine, Jade. Boy did she and I get into a battle of wills. Okay. I hear you laughing again. Yes, I know I can be stubborn, too. ? Our trouble started during brainstorming. My story ideas almost always start with the hero. In fact, only one hasn’t. But in the Pink Pistol Sisterhood series the heroine receives the pink-handled pistol which plays a key part in the story. This meant the story needed to begin with Jade. Until I learned her backstory, her personality, and what she wanted, I couldn’t move forward. And blast the woman, she wouldn’t let me into her head.

I knew Jade’s mother died when Jade was ten. From then until she went attended college, Jade spent summers and school vacations with her maternal aunt in Oklahoma. There Jade found the love and acceptance she often didn’t receive from her workaholic, distant father and his new family. Jade revealed her past to me, but after that, she shut down. All she revealed was she was returning to Oklahoma to settle her aunt’s estate.

Anyone who’s taken on that task knows how emotionally and physically exhausting it is. Despite putting Jade in stressful situations, she remained distant, almost emotionless. Thankfully, while talking to my dear friend and critique partner, Nancy Haddock, I realized Jade acted that way because she didn’t want to feel anything. She didn’t want to let anyone in. I finally had my key to her character. Jade feared if she felt anything, especially grief, she’d fall apart and never recover. She viewed her emotions as the enemy because when she lost control of them, chaos and disaster followed.

Being a sinister author, I had to break her. But as often happens in my stories, in busting through my character’s defenses and forcing them to face their issues, I make a discovery of my own. I learned I had been at war with my emotions lately. Because I had been feeling too much for lack of better words, I didn’t want to feel anything and had shut down in some ways, too. Forcing Jade to deal with her emotions forced me to grow and deal with mine, too. I guess, not only do I write what I know, sometimes I write about what I need to learn.

GIVEAWAY:  To be entered in my random drawing for cactus tote leave a comment about a challenge that made you grow and what you learned or what new skill you acquired.