Welcome Jodi Thomas!

Hang on everyone, it’s almost fall.

That’s when the year begins if you’re a student or a teacher.  For me it’s been 12 years of public school, 6 years of college, 19 years of teaching and 14 years of being Writer-in-Residence at West Texas at A&M.

I’ve eaten more cafeteria meals than I’ve cooked!

So, my year starts in the fall. That’s when I set my goals, even my writing goals. Some years when I wrote my goals, I could have just written “Ditto.”

But some years there are surprises. Maybe a seed I planted years ago begins to grow. Or sometimes a goal falls apart leaving room for new surprises in my life.

I always laugh and say, ” Sometimes God winks.”

I have found 2022 has been one of those years.

In April my SUNDAY AT THE SUNFLOWER INN came out fast and with great reviews. Then out of nowhere I was named to the Texas Literary Hall of Fame.

ME!  What an honor. I was so excited I wanted to go back to all my teachers and show them the letter announcing my award.

What a total surprise–God winked!

Another surprise this year is the book coming out the end of August.  THE WISHING QUILT.  Three years ago I was talking to Patience Griffin at the Houston International Quilt Show and I was reading Lori Wilde’s new book.

I thought it might be fun to do a book together, Lori, Patience and me.  And, three years later it happened.

As you know I love quilts, especially this one from my mother Sally Faye Kirkland Price. I have it hanging in my quilt room at home.

I would love to give away a copy of THE WISHING QUILT to three readers. Leave a comment for a chance to win. Do you quilt or have a family member who does? What are your favorite quilt patterns? Or if you don’t quilt, share one of your own “God winks” moments in the comments.

It’s almost September so I better get to work on my goals.

Happy New Year,

Jodi

Songs that take you back by Jodi Thomas

Last night I went to a lecture/concert at West Texas A&M University to hear a legend, Red Steagall.

He talked about this way of life in the West and how important it is to America. He told stories of ‘Riding for the Brand’ and being loyal to the man who signs your checks and doing the best you can. He talked of ‘Working until the job’s done’ and I was reminded I’d been burning midnight oil to get my next book finished for about a month.

Now I’ve never dug a post hole or ‘Ridden the River’ but I understood what he was saying. By the way (for you city folks—like me) Riding the River with someone means you trust them with your life.

I come from five generations of farmers and ranchers. Mostly dry land and small ranches. ‘Helping your neighbor.’ ‘Being kind.’ ‘Loving your country’ were a few themes Red talked about.

As a writer I often feel I live in two worlds. One is real and the other is in my mind. Somedays Honey Creek is real to me. I know just where it is, a small town in the heart of Texas.

But last night the country music was what touched my heart and made me smile. The song took me back in time to an old Ford on the way to Hollis, Oklahoma. Four kids in the back seat and my dad singing cowboy songs to put us asleep.

Red sang a few early cowboy songs last night that my father sang on road trips. Sometimes stepping into fiction is great, but then again so is walking into the past. I’ll be playing Red’s songs while I’m writing the west.

Here are two versions of the songs:

https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=there+is+a+bunk+in+the+bunkhouse+tonight

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OCtqvGhXqt8

 

Click to Buy
………..Click to Buy………..

If you’re looking for something new to read, my latest book will be out April 26. SUNDAY AT THE SUNFLOWER INN is a fun read about Honey Creek. Love must be in the air because in addition to the mystery, I’ve added lots of laughs and three love stories. Please order your copy at http://www.jodithomas.com.

I’d love to hear the name of your favorite country song. I’ll listen to them all and pick one lucky winner for an autographed copy of my new book SUNDAY AT THE SUNFLOWER INN.

Looking forward to chatting with you,

Jodi is giving away one autographed copy of

Sunday at the Sunflower Inn

Jessica Ann McKenzie—“Jam” to everyone in Honey Creek—has fulfilled her dream of owning the best restaurant for miles around. Serving candlelit dinners to every couple in town on Valentine’s Day is a reminder of another dream, one she’s just about given up on. Until, that very night, Sergeant Tucson Smith clambers out of the muddy river and onto her land, bringing the promise of something they’ve both been searching for.
 
When McCoy Mason crashes on Interstate 45, he doesn’t just bust up his Mustang, his leg, and his relationship. He also loses his prospects of a job and apartment in Houston. Honey Creek, home to his estranged grandfather, offers a temporary respite, a place to recover before moving on again. After all, what permanent use could a town so picture-perfect have for a man like him?
 
At sixty-seven, Charles H. Winston III lives by order and routine. One of his most cherished rituals is a regular lunch date with three lovely ladies at the Honey Creek Café, including the very proper Miss Lilly Lambert. But it’s not too late to surprise the whole town—or himself—by seizing a chance for a once-in-a-lifetime adventure. And there’s no better season than spring, when the warm breeze blowing in from the Brazos River brings fresh hope and second chances to those who need them most . . .

About Jodi

With millions of books in print, Jodi Thomas is both a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of over 50 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. You can connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and her website – https://www.jodithomas.com/

Jodi Thomas Returns!

Ancient Chinese Curse: “May you live in a time of change.”

I’m hopeful change will come. Soon. But for now, welcome to the past year. I’ve been waking up lately thinking I must be stuck in Groundhog Day. Just when I thought we were beginning to win the fight against Covid, everything is right back where we started. Again. We’re all adjusting to a new not-so-normal. Still not much shopping. The shelves are pretty bare anyway. Not much eating out with friends. No arguments over politics. (I’m being delusional.) No traveling to exotic places to have wild affairs. (Sorry, that one was my imagination talking.)

I’ve been hibernating. Again:

  • Waking up and putting yesterday’s clothes back on.
  • Having to ask my phone what day it is.
  • Talking to myself and sometimes getting in an argument.
  • Watching movies that don’t have plots.
  • Waiting for the mailman then reading the junk mail
  • Driving around for no reason at all.

Same as the first time around, for a few months I did nothing productive. I binged series on Netflix and cooked. My favorite saying, if I’d had anyone to say it to, was:

“I don’t suffer from insanity; I enjoy every minute of it.”

Yep, I’m living the crazy loop of Groundhog Day! Then, one day it occurred to me that I had imaginary friends to play with. I spent a week reading a book a day. Then, characters started lining up in my mind. They all wanted to me to write their story. Fiction was suddenly my place to go.

Last month I visited a quilter’s meeting as a guest. I gave my little talk about writing about quilting, then they all gave me a dear gift. Each one had brought a quilt passed down in the family, and each quilt had a story. We might have been 10 feet apart, but we were sharing.

One lady ended her talk by looking straight at me and said, “I’ve got to tell you that your books were my joy this year. When I got down, I could step into a Jodi Thomas book.”

Writing is a lonely career sometimes, just as Covid is a very lonely time, but I realized I can help in a small way. This crazy imagination I’ve been blessed with, and sometimes haunted by, can take readers on a journey.

So, I’d better get to work creating a world anyone reading can step into. A place for a time, you can relax, sit among friends, and talk about living.

And always remember, you are the main character of your life, and your story isn’t finished.

Three lucky winners will win one of my new releases. To enter, leave a comment about something that brings you joy during the hard seasons of life.

As an added bonus…your name will be entered twice if you can tell me where I got the title of my story “Father Goose” in The Cowboy Who Saved Christmas!

Enjoy some time to read,

Jodi

BUY The Cowboy Who Saved Christmas

PREORDER Dinner on Primrose Hill

PREORDER One Night at the St. Nicholas

It’s Picnic Time with Jodi Thomas

 

Jodi Thomas

                                                      Check below to see what Jodi is giving away!


Everyone knows writers live in other worlds inside their minds. Characters chatter, people get shot, couples fall in love, all surrounded in a make-believe world.

Then the doorbell rings or your cell chimes and the writer has to step out of one world and step into reality. The only way I can explain the fast change is it’s like changing trains while both are going 100 miles an hour.

So, as a writer for thirty years, I’ve become accustomed to jumping from racing trains. Only lately, I’ve been writing more because I’m staying home. More books, more fiction, more worlds to live in.

Right now I’m promoting one book, PICNIC IN SOMEDAY VALLEY.  I’m doing edits on DINNER ON PRIMROSE HILL and writing Book 4 in the series.

Since I have about twenty-five characters in each book, that is 75 people running around in my brain.

People ask me if I’m lonely during this time. How could I be?  There is a party going on in my study.

When a writer’s brain begins to shatter, what happens?  Nothing. It’s just part of the job. I don’t need TV. I’ve already got too many channels in my head.

And, I love it. I never get my characters mixed up but I wouldn’t be surprised if one day I don’t call my son by a character’s name.

Last week my agent called and asked if I had an idea for the next series. I smiled and opened another channel.

I hope you’ll grab your favorite food and drink and enjoy a picnic with your family and friends. Let me know which character from any book you would love to have a picnic with. I would love to give away a copy of PICNIC IN SOMEDAY VALLEY to one lucky winner. Giveaway rules apply.

Enjoy,  Jodi

 

 Amazon

 

                                                  

 

 

 

 

Jodi Thomas Is Back in the Saddle Again

In this time of ‘house arrest’ we are all staying home most of the time.  Now I don’t know about other writers (haven’t seen any) but I started out the first two weeks thinking I’d write like crazy. 

Didn’t work.  I cleaned closets, cooked, watched TV, read books.

When the two weeks continued on and on, I made a list every morning of what I would do. Pretty soon I learned I could keep my Monday to-do-list all week and just change it to Tuesday, then Wednesday, then Thursday.

THEN I discovered a box of old music, country of course.  I bounced out of bed, put on my sweat pants, didn’t bother with shower or makeup half the time, and flipped on Only the Lonely by Roy Orbison. We danced around the house.

I know it sounds strange but it cheered me up. By the time I played it three times, I was ready to write.

Then I found a CD of Riders in the Sky with a song Gene Autry wrote.  Back in the Saddle Again. I learned to sing Whoopi-ty-aye-oh. Dancing again. To hear the song click here.

I played it as I saddled up for work.  When I was a kid I loved nothing more than riding across open country and today (as I have for thirty years) I love writing.

I’ve stepped into fiction in good times and bad.  When my heart’s been broken, I fall in love with my characters. When reality gets too much, I make my own world. When I simply want to have an adventure, I travel in my mind.

During this time of isolation, I still feel connected to my readers and all the writers I know. We may be home dancing to Only the Lonely but we’re together. 

After I took a bad tumble riding in my teens, the hardest thing I ever did was climb back on a horse, but the strange thing was, once in the saddle, I wondered why it had taken me so long.

 

My advice for this time: 

  1. Be good to yourself.  Get lost in a good book whether you’re reading it or writing it. Have a party every night.  Popcorn and a movie or cookies and milk on the porch watching the rain.
  1. Be happy.  Sure you don’t get to see the people you love, but the upside is you don’t have to be around all those folks who bother you.
  1. Dance.  Personally, I never learned to dance, but I do it anyway.  I told Tom once that I may look like I’m standing still, but I’m dancing inside.  He smiled and said, “I know.”

I’m in the middle of a series and I’m loving it. Book One, BREAKFAST AT THE HONEY CREEK CAFÉ came out last week. It’s packed with action and love stories that will keep you reading through the night.

Please add it to your reading list and ‘if you have time’ leave a comment and tell me what you’re dancing to during this isolation. One reader’s comment will be selected to receive my first book out of the box. 

Joke of the day from Riders in the Sky.  “If the world was logical, men would ride sidesaddle.”

 

 

Why I like Writing Short Stories by Jodi Thomas

Jodi Thomas has graciously agreed to fill in for Phyliss Miranda today. Let’s make her welcome!

* * * * *

Thank you for having me. I’m happy to be back with everyone and talking about one of my loves. Writers often ask me why I write short stories. And, I have to say simply, “For the love of writing.”

But in truth, the benefits are far more than that. 

It all started one week before Christmas in ‘93. I’d just finished a novel and mailed it in. I was free and had a list. Shopping, making cookies, decorating, and cleaning house. I put in my first batch of cookies when the phone rang. It was my agent, who rarely called. “Jodi, I want you to write a short story. Think it over, come up with a few ideas and we’ll talk in January.” We talked about a big publishing house that was offering me the bottom slot in an anthology. She hung up. The cookies were burned. 

I scraped the cookie sheet and started again. As I put the next batch in, the phone rang again. “Hello, Jodi,” an editor at the big publishing house said. “What is your idea?”

Now, I’d had about ten minutes to think and so I said, “Two old men go to a train station in Texas the Christmas after the Civil War. They’ve ordered their boss, Holly, a mail-order husband for Christmas. One man steps off the train. He’s tall, dark, and handsome and he’s wearing a Union uniform. Before they can get to him, the man passes out drunk. Sam looks at Ben and says, “Great, we not only got her a Yankee, we got her a dead drunk Yankee.” 

“Sold,” the editor said, “Can you get it to us by January?” 

I hung up, took out the second batch of burned cookies and danced around the kitchen. I bought gift cards, let my two boys decorate, picked up Christmas cookies from the bakery and went back to my tiny study to work. 

A year later A HUSBAND FOR HOLLY hit the NYTimes thanks to Pat Potter the lead writer. 

And, I fell in love with writing short stories.

Here are three of my favorite short stories. I’m proud as can be of each one.

    

Jodi Thomas: The Power of Friendship

We’re so excited to have Jodi Thomas back to visit. We’re not sure what book this makes her but it’s over 50. Miss Jodi always has something interesting to talk about and this is no exception. We think you’ll enjoy it–and her giveaway at the end of the post. So make her welcome.

When I began writing THE LITTLE TEA SHOP ON MAIN, two stories came at once.

First, I wanted to write a story about a man who loved three women. One was his best friend, one his neighbor who needed a hero to turn to as they grew up, and the last was the love of his life even if she didn’t always agree with his plan. Readers will love Jack as he slowly figures out that the girls don’t belong to him; he belongs to them.

The second theme I wanted to write about was the power of friendship. My three little princesses grow to be close friends and maintain that friendship all their lives.

 

The number of close friendships between writers is peppered through history. It has been my experience with writers who become my friends that knowing each other makes us both stronger. We learn from one another, push each other and sometimes even compete.

In my first writing class, I heard Dee Pace read and I said I’d love to be able to write that good. When the class was over everyone agreed to keep meeting at the library. The next week, she and I were the only two who showed up. We began helping each other. Learning how to write. Learning the market. Entering contests.

Dee said once that when I won, she felt she’d won too. I realized I felt the same way. She’s now in Heaven, but every now and then I swear I hear her whispering, “Write deeper, Jo.”

There are friends you form a bond with and you remain close to even when there are months or even years you don’t talk. For some of us there is a very rare friend who follows you through all your life. I’ve heard it said that having one such friend for a lifetime is a very rare gift. They’ve known you all your life and still like you anyway.

I’ve been blessed with one–Reta. Our mothers were friends. There was never a time that we didn’t know one another. We went through school together and even were together when we met our future husbands.

As the years passed, we went different ways but were always still close when we saw one another. But, in good times and bad, I’ve always known she was a phone call away. (Below is a picture of the two of us a few years after we graduated.)

In my new book, THE LITTLE TEASHOP ON MAIN I had great fun watching my characters become friends and influence one another’s lives. My main characters were very different, one wild and creative, one grounded and brave, and one shy. When they really needed to talk or celebrate, or even cry, they’d have tea. The ritual became the thread that held them close no matter how far apart they might be in miles.

Let me know how your best friend enriches your life. I will be drawing for one print copy of THE LITTLE TEASHOP ON MAIN.

AMAZON B&N  |  APPLE KOBO 

Welcome Guest – Jodi Thomas!!

Hello everyone, Jodi Thomas here.
In a few weeks MISTLETOE MIRACLES will be out as the 7th book in the Ransom Canyon series.  I’m very excited about this one. 

Hold on to your hats this is going to be a wild, funny ride.

I had a series of events, like every writer experiences sometimes, tumble down on me when facing the deadline on this book.  One roadblock after another happened.  Sometimes the real world interrupts my fantasy world. 😉 So, all of a sudden I had a book due, I was suffering from exhaustion, and the holiday season was nearing.

“Rest.” The doctor insisted.  Great.  No talks, no travel, no lectures. I stayed in my pj’s and wrote. The book took over my brain—in truth it wasn’t much of a fight.

All at once the characters were living in my mind, not just subleasing a few hours a day.

I got better and finished the book.  My editor loved it.  Christmas, three love stories, a horse ranch.  I turned it in right after Christmas, getting to live both in real life and in my mind for the holidays.

Then life rushed in.  Travel, talks, business, relatives. I’m behind again. This time on Number 8 that will be out in 2019.

No problem. Then came the head-on car crash. I’m back at home–with a broken leg. Not in fantasy this time. I wrote half the book in a month with my leg propped up.

I’m starting to see why BREAK A LEG means good luck.  Maybe whoever made it up was talking to me.

So, I googled it:

A phrase of encouragement typically said to one who is about to perform before an audience, especially an actor. It is thought to be used due to the superstition that wishing one “good luck” will result in the opposite, but the exact origin of the phrase is unknown.

I also researched jobs and found that being a cowboy ranks at the 4th more dangerous job in America.   All of us who’ve been tossed from a horse are yelling, “Amen” right now.

So ladies and gentlemen, enjoy my MISTLETOE MIRACLES this fall with my three cowboys on the Maverick Ranch because next spring while I’m writing book number 9, one of my heroes is going to break a leg for a change, and I plan to stay healthy.

Leave a comment for a chance to win a free copy of Mistletoe Miracles to kick off your holiday reading.  I’d love to hear what your lucky saying is.

And don’t forget to sign up for a three-day stay at my hideout in Red River, New Mexico.  You pick the season, they’re all beautiful.  Just check the rules on my website:  jodithomas.com.    

HOW DEEP DO YOUR ROOTS GO? by JODI THOMAS

How deep do your roots go?

I’m from dry land farmers and people who ran small ranches that never made much money.  I know the movies have the stories about powerful ranchers who own more land than they can ride across in a day, but that’s not the people I’m from.


My grandparents met at a barn raising in Texas, just over the Red River from Oklahoma.  They spent the day together, wrote letters for a year, then he rode back across the Red to pick her up.  She had the wagon packed with her hope chest and all they’d need.  They were married that day.  She was fifteen and he was eighteen. They crossed back over the Red into Oklahoma Territory and started farming.

My dad was their youngest son and he said they looked old when he was born. If he was alive, my father would be a 100 this year.

All this said, sometimes I feel close to the past.  Like it’s just around the corner out of reach.  I might have an iPhone and an Apple computer, but their blood still flows in me.  I’m from farm folks….

Or, so I thought….the blood must be thinning.

My son, who has a master’s in Criminal Justice and works in loss prevention for a national chain, was told he could work from home last month.  Three weeks later he bought a farm in the middle of nowhere.  My GPS told me I was 31 miles out.  Two hours later I’m still circling every County Road looking for him.  Who knew two ruts in the tall grass was a road?

I couldn’t wait to see his land, his farm.  We traveled across Texas, 10 hours, with three ducks riding in a tub in the back of our van.  Once, when Tom stopped fast one of the ducks flew out and landed just behind my sister.  She didn’t seem to like the duck eating her hair.

 

So all tired we pulled into a beautiful, green farm.

My son, whose time outside city lights can be counted in weeks, greets us with a warning that he shot a coral snake this morning.

Coral snake.  I start trying to remember that ‘black touch red or black touch yellow’ but have no idea which is a friendly fellow.

I jump out.  I have to walk the land!  Get back to my roots! They’ve got chickens and ducks.  A stream.  Not exactly The Red, but too big for me to cross.

The fire ants were not welcoming—enough said.

We let the ducks out and they loved their bath.

Tom thought he’d pet a chicken.  By accident, I’m sure, the chicken put a deep scratch along Tom’s arm.  This chicken was not a cuddler.

But, we were in Heaven.  We were on the land.  I had no idea how noisy it is at night.  Or how early the sun comes up without heavy drapes.

Then about dawn the first day, I picked up my Apple, curled up in the porch swing and found Heaven.

I’m from the land, you know.  I was home.

I hope you’ll feel just that way when you read my new book, INDIGO LAKE.  Come along with me on this journey and when you finish maybe you’ll say “I’m from the land.”

When I began writing the Ransom Canyon series, a very dear friend gave me a Ransom Canyon T-shirt to inspire me. It sat by my desk and was never worn. I would like to give that shirt to one of my special readers who might know—How do you get rid of fire ants without killing the chickens?”

Love you all,  Jodi Thomas