Go Behind the Scenes with Illustrator Rhian Awni!

When I illustrate the cover of each book, I try to envision the scene and live in it with the characters.

My name is Rhian Awni and I am the illustrator behind the Love at the Chocolate shop and Taming of the Sheenans series. I hope this does not sound like a cliché story, but I have been drawing since I was a little kid. My mother, who loved doing fashion illustrations, encouraged me to develop my skills. She always gave me constructive feedback and taught me how to draw human figures proportionally. I owe a large part of the skills I honed in drawing as a kid to my mother. I did not study illustration in college, and actually have a Bachelor‘s Degree in computer science. Illustration was always my hobby and I developed it over the years. I went back to school to get a Masters Degree in graphic design, and I chose graphic design as I was too afraid to be a starving artist! That is what got me started in my business as a graphic designer in 2009, and later an illustrator when I started combining my illustrations with my designs based on demands from my clients. I was very self-conscious about the quality of my art, but my clients provided me with a major boost when they stated how much they liked the illustrations I created for them!

I work both with watercolors and Photoshop to create my illustrations. That way, they still have the texture of the traditional medium, yet look crisper and more refined when I digitally color over the original illustrations. I first start with a pencil sketch.

After I get my client’s approval, I redraw my illustration on watercolor paper and color it.

 


I then scan it and digitally modify it in Photoshop to add more colors and textures. It usually takes up to 8 hours to complete an illustration, but sometimes even longer than that! I always start my illustration projects with a bit of research and my favorite tool for that is Pinterest. I find inspiration for fashion, poses and hair styles there. Fashion is a major source of inspiration for me. But I also enjoy combining elements of classic art into my illustrations. I am influenced by Impressionism and Rococco movements in arts. What I like in these movements is the playful style of the artwork and the spontaneous nature of the subjects. I also tend to add a romantic or nostalgic touch to my illustrations.


I love warm and bright colors. Colors play a large part of my process too. After the sketch is approved by my client, I create a very quick color mockup for my own reference and I create it digitally in Photoshop. That way, I know where to put each color on the paper. I tend to limit my color schemes, and go with the subject of the book when I create the cover art. If the book story takes place in the summer, then I use bright and airy colors. If it takes place during the holidays, then warm and festive colors are used. That way, the colors make the first impact on the viewer, and then the subject comes next.

When I illustrate the cover of each book, I try to envision the scene and live in it with the characters. That way, I can bring it to life on paper! I very much enjoyed working on every book cover illustration from Tule Publishing but my absolute favorites are the following:


Connect with Rhian!

ETSY | FACEBOOK | INSTAGRAM



What Inspired Marin Thomas’s SWEET HOME COWBOY?

I was thrilled when author CJ Carmichael invited me to write a book for the Love at the Chocolate Shop series. This is my first Montana Born story and I can honestly tell you that it was so easy to fall in love with Marietta, Montana and all its inhabitants.

When I brainstorm new books, I focus on one single character first—I call him or her my anchor character. Once I know who the anchor character is, the other characters easily fall into place as well as the setting and the plot. In the case of Sweet Home Cowboy I already knew the setting was the charming town of Marietta, Montana, so I only needed to focus on characters and plot.

You might assume the anchor character in this story was the heroine Elena Puente, a first-grade teacher from Las Vegas, Nevada, or local Marietta cowboy Wesley Banks. Not so. This time a secondary character tugged at my heartstrings. Years ago Keith Urban came out with a song called “But for the Grace of God”. The verse below has stayed with me for years and I knew one day the right book would come along where I could tell this man’s story.

I can see that old man
He’s walking past our door
And I’ve been told that he’s rich
But he seems so poor
‘Cause no one comes to call on him
And his phone it never rings
He wanders through his empty home
Surrounded by his things

In Sweet Home Cowboy the man Keith Urban sings about is my anchor character Judge Alistair Kingsley—the estranged great-grandfather of my heroine Elena Puente and the employer of my hero, Wesley Banks. Judge Kingsley is the lynch pin that holds this story together and allowed me to explore one of my favorite themes…the meaning of home. Home is more than a place. Home is forgiveness, acceptance and unconditional love. Home is your shelter and your path forward.

I’ve always been most comfortable writing about imperfect people who struggle through life—people who accept the life they’ve been given but always strive for better. Imperfect characters, dysfunctional families and small-town settings are the heart of my stories and Marietta, Montana is the perfect backdrop for Sweet Home Cowboy—a story that reminds us of how resilient the human spirit is and that everyone deserves their very own happy ever after—even cranky old men like Judge Alistair Kingsley.

What’s your definition of Home?

I invite you to stop by my website www.marinthomas.com or sign at http://bit.ly/MarinThomasUpdates for information on my releases and current giveaways.


Marin Thomas is an award-winning author of over 35 western romances for Harlequin books and she also writes women’s fiction for Berkley. She loves small-town stories with quirky characters that revolve around the importance of family and is thrilled that her Tule debut will release in the Montana Born line and Chocolate Shop Books series.


Kelly Hunter Shares an Exclusive Deleted Scene from Casey!

Congratulations to Jenny S! You are the winner of the Tule newsletter giveaway. Please PM info@thetulegroup.com to claim your prize. 

1. Describe your hero, Casey, in three words.

Determined (stubborn), physical (sensual), protective (always).

2. What kind of research went into writing this story? What was the most interesting information that you discovered about the sport or the circuit?

In the name of research and integrity I crossed the Pacific on the back of a turtle, landed in Seattle, went to Montana, home of my hero, caught up with other authors writing for the American Extreme Bull Riders Tour, and ended up in Deadwood South Dakota when the PBR was in town.


What I learned:

  • The American Anthem is hard to sing. You start from B flat and you need a range of an octave and a half to get the F in ‘free’. Kudos to those who can. All hail Whitney and Beyonce.
  • Bull riders are young … (alt version: I might be getting old)
  • And short (alt version: I’m getting taller with age and I was tall to begin with).
  • This is a Colosseum sport. Those eight seconds are brutal.
  • Those bulls are athletes and competitors and they’re treated very well. Says the former Aussie farm girl…

3. What was the toughest scene for you to write?

Spoiler alert:

My heroine almost loses her baby early in her pregnancy and winds up in hospital. She hasn’t told anyone she’s pregnant, including the hero, but it all comes out. That moment when she realizes she wants this baby, this future, and she wants it hard. She wonders what she’s done wrong, whether it’s punishment … That was a hard scene to write.

4. Can you share a deleted scene from the book?

My motherless heroine is a stock contractor’s daughter. She’s criss-crossed America on the rodeo tour with her father since she was four-years-old. She sees her hero every second weekend—provided their schedules coincide.

 

As an author with togetherness in mind what do my characters do in that down time between tour dates? Go to bed for two weeks? Get put on ice? I decided my heroine might phone my hero. Here’s the result. I like it. Not sure I’ll keep it.

 

It was nine at night and her father was asleep and Rowan was in her room, with her dress on and her boots on and nowhere to go, a tube of mascara in her hand and one eye looked good and the other eye looked like she’d been in a fight and who was she kidding? She needed makeup lessons—the internet directions simply weren’t cutting it.

She had an ache in her heart and an ache in her loins and the temptation to do something about it was strong. She had Casey’s number, and how she’d come across that had less to do with asking and more to do with outright theft of tour information, but the phone was in her hand and she dialed the number before she could change her mind.

He answered on the third ring and she should have hung up. Instead she said hello and gave him her name and the silence after that was deafening.

She was phoning for no reason. Didn’t have a thought in her head, and who could make conversation out of that? “What are you doing?” she asked instead.

“Looking at my hands,” he answered.

“I’ve done that. Although possibly not for the same reason.”

“They’re all busted up,” he said.

“Oh. Same reason, then,” and relaxed a fraction when he chuffed a quick laugh. “I’m wearing my dress,” she said next. “And my boots. I figured you should know.”

“Where are you?”

“In my room. It’s a practice run.”

Silence again, then, “So how’s it going?”

“The mascara needs work. I haven’t tried the lipstick yet. I’m thinking red’s not my colour. Not without practice, at any rate.”

“I hope you’re not expecting my help there.”

“No, but I’d like praise for trying. Can you do that?”

“Always.” He sounded so warm and sure and she settled back against the pillows on her bed, boots and all and crossed one knee over the other the better to observe them. It wasn’t as if they were dirty. They were straight out of the box.

“Which boots?” he asked.

“The red ones. The brown ones make me taller and I love the round toe but the red ones are bold and reckless. I can be reckless.” Within the confines of her room.

“And how does the dress make you feel?”

“Lost,” she said. “I love it, don’t get me wrong, I want to wear it out. But there’s a confidence issue.”

“What if you were somewhere no one knew you? Would that make it easier?”

She thought about it. “Would I be alone?”

“Probably not for long,” he said dryly. “But for the sake of fantasy, pretend that someone you know is with you. Someone you like and feel comfortable with. A girlfriend.”

She didn’t have any of those.

“Giselle, from breakfast the other morning. Or the Australian girl who used to hang out with Troy. The ones with identities of their own, who bring something other than bull riding to the mix.”

“Okay, I’m making up an imaginary girlfriend,” she said. “She comes from Brazil, her family grows oranges and she’s a well-known portrait painter. She talks to me about artwork I’ve only seen in books but I like her anyway because she never makes me feel stupid. I wish she existed.”

“So you’re at a gallery opening of a friend of hers, in Brazil,” he said. “And you’re wearing your dress and those red boots and everyone there wants to know who you are because you’re unique and they’ve never seen the like and they’re interested. When you say you raise bucking bulls and take photos for major magazines they’re doubly interested. You could have any one of a dozen men. What do you do?”

“I look for you.” The words were on the tip of her tongue, and she let them fall.

Silence. “I’m not there,” he said at last, and it seemed as if the words were reluctantly said. “What do you do?”

“You bought the dress. Why aren’t you there?”

“I gave you the tools. You did the rest. Figured out what you wanted and how to make room for it in your life.”

She was still looking for him. “Oh,” she said. “How did you bust your hands?”

“I don’t want to talk about it,” he offered gruffly. “Nothing to be proud of, though.”

“Tell me about college,” she said next. “How was it?”

“Easy in some ways, hard in others. Growing up with five brothers, I was used to sharing space but I still didn’t fit. I was more used to doing, rather than thinking. Climbed the walls on occasion. Got into bull riding when I blew off an assignment to go to a rodeo. A guy I’d gone to school with was there. He loaned me his gear and I signed up to ride. I went back to college more relaxed than I’d ever felt, and with enough cash to see me through for a month. I wasn’t born to bull riding, I wasn’t bred to it but hell I needed it. And it wasn’t just for the money.”

“It’s the challenge,” she said. “There’s nothing like it. The focus. The danger. The adrenaline dump running through your blood.”

“How long since you last rode?” he asked, and now it was her time to be quiet.

“I—a while. I got hung up here at home a year or so back. Cracked ribs, a punctured lung, ruptured my spleen and ended up in hospital awhile. My father fired three men over it, including our foreman who’d been with us for fifteen years. I haven’t ridden since.”

The boots suddenly looked garish and she uncrossed her knees and drew her legs closer to her chest the better not to see them. Confidences like that should never be spoken, and if they were they should be glossed over as soon as possible.

“Which bull was it?”

“One of our younger ones. I thought he was going to be good, you know? Casey, he could buck, and he was one of mine, out of the bloodlines I’ve been crossing and I wanted a winner, I was hungry for it, but he never made it on tour. He was a little too interested in killing people. My father had always thought so, but I couldn’t see it. Didn’t want to see it. Turns out my father was right.”

“And you were the wreck.”

“Yeah, well. Nothing ventured.

“It turns my stomach.” She could hear it in his voice.

“Because I’m a woman?”

“Because I feel the same way every time someone goes down and doesn’t get back up. It’s not a road for the faint-hearted.”

“I know.” She’d been living this life since she was four-years-old. No choice, and if there was a choice to be had now, she couldn’t see it. She knew what he meant. “Anyway, I don’t ride any more and on the whole I don’t miss it.”

“Here’s a question. Would you let your daughters ride?”

“Yes,” she said and closed her eyes. “Sheep first, then steers. I’d start them young. Train them right. Same way I was trained.”

“I don’t know if I could let them,” he said.

“That’s the thing about children—sooner or later they’ll find a way to do what they want. Letting them has nothing to do with it.”

Silence again.

“I’m a full partner here in the business,” she said. “Half of everything is mine, and it’s a lot, and I’d appreciate if you kept that to yourself. I don’t even know why I’m telling you except that I kind of need you to know. I also need you to know that I’ll never cash out.” She couldn’t see her way clear of this life. Her family unit was too small. Unlike Casey’s family situation, there was no one else to inherit, no one to pick up the slack.

“I won’t mention it,” he said gruffly, after a long pause. “But for what it’s worth, people have already figured where you stand and what you’re worth. I know well and good that I’m never going to match you for money or possessions. Maybe you think less of me because of it.”

“I don’t. Maybe you think less of me because I don’t have much of an education.”

“Education’s about information. You probably know more about genetics, animal breeding and bull riding than I do. And photography.” She could hear the smile in his voice. “Want me to tell you what I own?”

“Yes,” she murmured, and picked up the other lipstick she’d bought last time she’d been in town. This one was a soft, beige-pink. She’d liked it on the shop and when she’d drawn a line of it on the back of her hand. Now not so much.

“I have a log cabin in the mountains that I rent out to hikers over summer and skiers during winter. It comes with not enough land to run a horse, but it’s mine free and clear, and maybe one day I’ll sell it or maybe I won’t. And while I’m motivated to make the money I need to get the education I want, I’m not motivated to make money just so I can buy stuff. I don’t want the big spread. I don’t want to be tied down. I want to see more of the world, not less.”

“Bull riding’s good for that. You could go to Australia and Brazil.” He fascinated her, this cowboy. The thirst in him for something other than what he’d been born to. “If I went out with you to dinner, where would it lead?” It was a question she’d been tossing round ever since he’d kissed her. She wasn’t a complete innocent. She knew where kisses like that were likely to lead.

“Judging from the kiss we shared it’d probably lead straight to the nearest bed.”

“And after that?” She wasn’t saying no. She hoped he realized that. “What happens at the end of the tour? Because I really don’t think you have any intention of staying on another year. Not if you get the money you need for school.”

“I ask you if you want to come with me, you say no, and we walk away with battered hearts and a pocket full of fine memories. That’s how I see this going, Rowan. No lie.”

“So why would you still want to do it?”

“Did I mention the memories?”

“Yes.”

“And the personal growth and exploration?”

He hadn’t mentioned that. “Sounds painfully won.”

“The fun,” he said next.

“You’re not exactly one of the fun-loving cowboys on the tour,” she reminded him. By and large he kept his alcohol consumption low and he didn’t screw around. Not that she knew of, and she would know.

“I do like to keep my fun times private,” he said. “Nothing wrong with that.”

“Do you think we could keep others from finding out about any fun times we might have?” she asked, and he was silent for a long time.

“You mean your father,” he said at last.

“I mean everyone.”


Accidentally educated in the sciences, Kelly Hunter didn’t think to start writing romances until she was surrounded by the jungles of Malaysia for a year and didn’t have anything to read. Eventually she decided that writing romance suited her far better than throwing sterile screw-worm flies out of airplane windows, and changed careers. Kelly is now a USA Today bestselling author, a three-time Romance Writers of America RITA finalist and loves writing to the short contemporary romance form.


#TBT Eve Gaddy Shares an Exclusive New Scene Featuring Jack and Maya!

** GIVEAWAY CLOSED! Congratulations to Carol Luciano. Please email michellemorris@tulepublishing.com to claim your prize. **

Hi, Readers! The Tule gang suggested I write a blog post updating everyone on what Jack and Maya Gallagher from Sing Me Back Home have been up to. I started writing it and well, it was boring.:) So I wrote a little scene. Hope you enjoy it.


“Jack, what in the world are you doing?” Maya asked, walking into her husband’s home office. “What is that and what are you doing with it?” She pointed to a small dog of indeterminate parentage who sat by Jack’s feet looking up at him adoringly.

“He’s a dog. Don’t talk so loudly. I’ve almost gotten Will to sleep.”

“Will is wide awake and you know it.” Their son waved a chubby fist in the air from the comfort of his daddy’s arms. Every time she saw the baby her heart just melted. And she was struck anew by how lucky she and Jack were to have this second chance at love…and babies.

But that had nothing to do with the small critter who had now come over to her, sat and raised his paw. She could have sworn he was grinning. He was black, white and brown and she couldn’t have told what breeds went into his make-up on a bet. At least he was small. Damn it, the last thing they needed was a dog.

“Don’t think you can sucker me,” she told it. “Thank you, Jack, I know it’s a dog. Where did you get it? Did Dylan give it to you?” Her brother-in-law was notorious for rescuing strays and giving them to various friends and family. And since he lived on a ranch, strays always seemed to find him.

“No, Dylan didn’t”–

Before he could expand, Gina and Carmen came into the room, talking a mile a minute and each carrying a bowl. One with what she assumed was dog kibble in it and the other filled with water. They’d probably borrowed the kibble from the next door neighbor. The two girls were fast friends, although sometimes they bickered as if they’d been sisters forever instead of just the couple of years since Jack and Maya had married.

“Are those my new mixing bowls?” Maya asked, momentarily distracted.

“I don’t know. They’re all we could find,” her daughter, Carmen said.

Of course they were. Never mind that there were loads of plastic containers all over the kitchen. Her beautiful, brand-new bowls were clearly suitable for dogs.

“Isn’t he cute, Maya?” Gina asked. “We found him at school. Dad said we could keep him.”

“Oh, he did, did he?” Propping her hands on her hips, she glared at her husband.

“I said we’d talk about it,” Jack said hastily.

“Uh-huh. Who is going to take care of this dog? Because if you think I am, you’re crazy. I have enough on my hands with the agency and the baby. Not to mention two teenagers.”

“His name is Rambo,” Carmen said. “Please let us keep him, Mom. Gina and I will take care of him. Will likes him too.”

“Will is five months old and likes everything except peas. And why in the world is he named Rambo?”

“I got him to eat them last night,” Gina put in. “Will, I mean. Not Rambo.”

“He’s named Rambo because he’s courageous,” Jack said blandly.

I don’t know why I’m arguing when I know I’ll just wind up giving in. She knew who would take care of the dog, too. The girls were in their junior year of high school and their lives were full of sports, school events, their studies, and boys. Not in that order. Jack would try, but his medical practice took up a lot of time and his hours were erratic.

She found herself weakening. He was a cute little dog. And he needed a home, obviously. Three pairs of eyes, four if she counted Will’s, regarded her hopefully.

“All right. We can keep him.” Rambo chose that moment to pee on the potted plant by the window. Maya sighed. “He needs to go out.”

“We’ll take him,” Carmen said.

“And bring some towels when you come back.” She shook her head before turning to her husband. “You are a bad man.”

“But you love me anyway, right?”

“Yes. Madly.” She leaned down and kissed him.

Jack’s phone rang. “It’s Dylan,” he said, and answered. “Dylan, hi, what’s up?”

His expression changed to one of concern. “How bad?” He looked at Maya and shook his head. “On my way.” He got up and handed Will to Maya.

“Is Dylan all right?”

“Yes. At least, I think so. He’s at the hospital with Clay,” he said, referring to Dylan’s right-hand man who’d been with the family for years. “I don’t know what happened. When I asked how bad it was, Dylan said Clay was having emergency surgery. I’ve got to go.”

“Let me know if you need me. I’ll get the girls to stay with Will if I need to leave.”

Jack kissed her goodbye. “Let’s hope it’s not as bad as it sounds. I’ll call you when I know something.”


Eve Gaddy is the national bestselling, award winning author of more than twenty-five novels. A member of Romance Writers of America’s Honor Roll for Bestselling authors, her books have won and been nominated for awards from Romantic Times, Golden Quill, Bookseller’s Best, Holt Medallion, Daphne Du Maurier and more. She was nominated for a Romantic Times Career Achievement Award for Innovative Series romance and won the 2008 Romantic Times Career Achievement award for Series Storyteller of the year. Eve’s books have sold over a million copies worldwide and been published in many foreign countries. Eve lives in East Texas with her husband of many years.


Exclusive Barbara Dunlop Q&A About Her New Release Chase!

1.  What can we expect from your hero, Chase Garrett?

Chase is very self-reliant. He’s hard-working and extremely principled. Ever since his fiancée cheated on him with his best friend, Chase has guarded his emotions. But his principles won’t let him walk away from someone in need. You can expect Chase to step up and help, and to stick around until the job is done.

2.  Which character do you relate to the most in this story? In what ways?

I think I relate to Maddy’s determination to protect her son, and her struggle with balancing her child’s interests with finding time for herself. I relate to Chase’s goal-oriented approach to problem solving. And I relate to the teasing rivalry and love between Maddy and her siblings. I very much enjoying writing family dynamics.

3.  What kind of research went into writing this story? What was the most interesting information that you discovered about the sport or the circuit?

I may have had more fun researching this book than any other I’ve written. I went on a fabulous road trip to Deadwood, the setting of the story, with Jane Porter, Kelly Hunter and Megan Crane—girl’s road trip to the bull rides! We had an amazing time, and learned a whole lot about the bull-riding events and circuit. I was impressed by the hard work and dedication of the riders, but also of the team that surrounds them. Everyone seemed to pitch in to help everyone else.

4.  What was your greatest inspiration for this story?

I loved the bull riding setting. Cowboys make some of the best heroes. But I was particularly excited about writing with such an amazing group of creative women. We had a chance to get together in San Diego to brainstorm our ideas and storylines. It was fascinating to watch each author organically bounce ideas around and come up with things that worked for their own story but, at the same time, supported their fellow authors.

5.  Can you share a deleted scene from the book with us?

I don’t have any deleted scenes. I write from chapter one, word one chronologically to the end of the story. If something isn’t working, I’ll delete it. But I it’s a hard-delete. I don’t save it anywhere. My philosophy is words are free—I can always write more.


Barbara Dunlop is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of fifty romance novels. A three time finalist in the prestigious RITA award, she is also a two time winner of the RWA Golden Heart award. An Unlikely Match, the first book in her acclaimed Match series, was a number one bestseller on Amazon. Barbara makes her home in Yukon with her bush pilot husband and the moose and bears that wander through their yard.

 


Sinclair Jayne Shares Dawson and Sutter’s Playlist from A Country Love Song!

Giveaway Closed! Congratulations to Toni Whitmire. 

 

So for A Country Love Song, I wanted it to be a bit of a tribute to how music teachers endure those awkward beginning years with their students and instruct and cajole and inspire and push through the challenges

 

 

I have always loved music, but especially country music because it’s really about the story and the characters in that song’s story. Many of them are not even necessarily a story I can relate to like shooting whiskey or keying some cheatin’ guy’s ride, but I see that girl, I can feel what she feels. Emotions are universal, no matter what event or person inspired them—-love, sorrow, disappointment, betrayal, abandonment. In the fall, I was talking to Jane Porter about music, what we listen to when we write, and we were wondering why Tule Publishing hadn’t received a lot of romance submissions where the characters were musicians or in the music industry. Country music, especially seems like a natural as Tule has the Montana Born and Southern Born imprints. Jane and I counted the music oriented manuscripts published, and it was only a handful. I don’t remember exactly what Jane said. I think we were drinking water with lemon, and really, we should have been drinking something far more exciting, because Jane said something along the lines of “get on that.”

We bandied about some ideas, her acting as scribe and generally groaning, nixing and throwing a pen at me over my cheesy ideas because I love to make her laugh. But later that night, I got a little more serious and started thinking about my middle school music teacher. I had loved to sing—-walking, in the car, in my room, at the mall. I was okay. Never more than that. But she always said “You enjoy it, keep singing.” So I kept joining choirs all the way through college.

She also directed a hand bell choir at my middle school and high school, and of course I joined happily. Unhappily I was the worst, always playing the F# in my left hand even though I KNEW the note was a G and the G was in my right hand. My brain said G. Right hand. I heard it, but my left hand charged out. Many of the other kids grumbled the first year, wanting to toss me out because when you play a wrong note in a hand bell choir, everyone knows it. That sucker rings out. Carol shrugged off the mistakes and explained it as a neurological issue of mixed left right dominance or something like that. “Keep playing” she said. So I didn’t quit. And the grumbling turned to sideways glares. And then those faded because I got better. And better.

So for A Country Love Song, I wanted it to be a bit of a tribute to how music teachers endure those awkward beginning years with their students and instruct and cajole and inspire and push through the challenges and build a foundation where the artist can find their own voice. So I created in my mind, a young girl, Sutter Knight—naïve, earnest, talented, enthusiastic and driven who could really blossom in a small southern town with a music teacher who believed in her, and also started thinking of her a little bit as the daughter she never had. And then of course I thought of the boy who loved her and performed with her in the school choir and musicals but reluctantly and oh so painfully let her fly far from him. Sutter Knight headed to Nashville to pursue her dream of being a country singer and songwriter, but Dawson Yates stayed grounded in Sweet Tea, Tennessee because he had family obligations and dreams of his own that don’t involve a stage—unless he’s building it.

Because I love reunion romances, the story starts ten years after Sutter has left. Her career is finally on the rise. She’s charted, toured and been nominated for an award. She returns to her home town to visit her music teacher before heading back into a Nashville studio, and that’s where she finds an unexpected challenge desperate for her talents and enthusiasm as well as the boy, now a man, she thought she’d left behind. But when Sutter sees Dawson again, she quickly realizes that her feelings aren’t as far in the past as she told herself.

Writing about a country musician who thinks in melodies and lyrics was a lot of fun and definitely a different experience. I listened to a lot of music, not all of it country. The song I listened to on repeat when I took long walks to think about how the story would unspool was Ryan Adam’s To Be Without You. That song is for me the best description of a post break up—where you are no longer sick with grief or anger and sobbing a lot, but have entered the acceptance stage. But you are numb. It’s all sinking in that it’s over, really over, and you aren’t sure how you are going to keep walking forward, but you know you have to. Because so much of Sutter and Dawson’s reunion keeps tumbling into the past, that song really put me in the mood to write a story where two people’s lives split even though their hearts never fully made the separation. And they trudged on with grim determination and found success but never that effervescent happiness they had as teens. The story is them at an emotional cross roads. Can they go back and retrieve what they lost? Do they keep moving on alone? Or Find a new direction together?

I listened to many, many more songs. Some of the songs or artists I mention in the book because Sutter does performs, but mostly because she is constantly taking her guitar with her and noddling melodies, singing in snatches and scrawling lyrics in a notebook. One song that makes an appearance is Setting the World on Fire by Kenny Chesney because I absolutely love the goofy energy of that song and the images and the sense of two people just drunk on love and acting silly and yet having a little ability to reflect and recapture those emotions. Keith Urban’s Boy Gets a Truck totally fit with Dawson’s personality and life as a teen in love with Sutter and also even later as a man glimpsing his 30s and wondering if he dare to try with Sutter again. When I was trying to think of a song that themed with Sutter, two songs really seemed to fit. Miranda Lambert’s The House that Built Me because Sutter is all about the town of Sweet Tea and her memories there and also Tim McGraw’s Humble and Kind, because even with her shiny confidence and success, Sutter is still so sweet and determined to pay it forward for other musicians and kids and her home town and larger community even when the task of giving back is daunting.

One last song that I had on repeat on my play list was My Church by Maren Morris. The attitude didn’t fit Sutter at all, but man oh man could I relate to doing a lot of thinking and emoting while driving. And as I drove and played this really loud and sang along (my poor teens, but I’m not even that sorry) another, future character started to form—Tyler Knight, Sutter’s fallen pop star actress younger sister, who returns to Sweet Tea broken but determined to grind it out and become her own personal phoenix in a future Smoky Mountain Knight book some time down that long dirt road of writing.

I hope you enjoy A Country Love Song and find something to sing along to.


After teaching writing classes and workshops to adults and teens for many years in Seattle and Portland, she returned to her first love of reading romances and became an editor for Tule Publishing last year. Sinclair lives in Oregon’s wine country where she and her family own a small vineyard of Pinot Noir and where she dreams of being able to write at a desk like Jane Austen instead of in parking lots waiting for her kids to finish one of their 12,000 extracurricular activities.



RELEASE DAY POST! Ann B. Harrison Shares Her Writing Process!

Writing is such a lonely job.

That was what I was told anyway. Sure, parts of it are but since I started writing in 2010, I’ve built up a fabulous network of like-minded souls who I can call on when the need arises.

For instance: when I first started my first book, I lived out in the middle of the desert in Queensland, Australia. We were miles from anywhere – two-day drive to the nearest big town – and our tiny town had limited resources for most people, let alone writers. I took online classes but found I didn’t really learn an awful lot because they weren’t necessarily aimed at what I was writing or the style I needed to use.

Then I joined Romance Writers of Australia and Romance Writers of America. At last! People who do what I do. Who knew there were so many writers out there?

From there, things moved quite fast. I entered competitions, found great editors and got my first contract. Then I got another one and things snowballed!

But here is what I’ve learned along the way.

My writing process has changed – a lot.

Before I would happily tell you I was a pantser. That means I write by the seat of my pants. I didn’t plot anything. It wasn’t how I worked at all. But more books a year meant I had to be more organized, especially when it came to writing series.

Now when I get an idea, I let it ferment in my mind. Perhaps I’ll write myself a few pages of notes. A chapter or two at most gets done before I pull out the big guns: these are my critique girls, both of them successful writers. The same girls I meet up with for plotting days and can call upon when I have a plot knot or something doesn’t go right for me. If anybody is going to tell me my writing sucks or the plot doesn’t work, it’ll be these two. They’re also the girls who I meet for coffee for no other reason than I need a break away from the office. But rest assured, plotting always, always gets a look in whenever we meet up.

I’ve also learned to be more organized and keep notes. My office wall has plotting boards for each book which I add to when I think of something. Some stories get plotted well ahead of time, four or five books even. I need to know the character I had in book one doesn’t become someone else by book three or I don’t use him again in another series. The more books I write, the more I need to keep them in line.

With the Watson brother’s books, I plotted the first four stories simultaneously because the characters reappear in each book. The bride in book four, Her Favorite Cowboy, is the legal brain in book two, The Sheriff’s Mail-Order Bride. Heaven forbid I should get these characters mixed up.

I’m always on the look-out for a great easy to use program to keep everything sorted but so far, have found post it notes on a board seem to be the best for me.

If you have any great ideas, I’d love to hear them. You can find me at http://www.annbharrison.net
https://www.facebook.com/Ann-B-Harrison-Author-311207972338638/


After moving to the lush green wine region of Australia’s Hunter Valley, Ann has the perfect surrounding to let her imagination to run wild. She alternates her time between writing western romances, women’s fiction romantic and playing in her garden.


RELEASE DAY POST! Find Out What Inspired Laurie LeClair’s The Cowboy’s Rebellious Bride!

Music is the soundtrack of our lives.

— Dick Clark

Growing up, music was a constant in my life—the radio always played as we rode in the car, my parents sang and listened to records (the original vinyl) in our house, my older siblings introduced me to the latest and greatest singers and bands, and I sang in chorus for nearly a decade.

Now, one of my husband’s and my favorite things to do is go to concerts, especially to see all the performers we didn’t get to see ages ago. Along the way, we’ve discovered a long list of new favorites to hear and see.

When I began to write, music played in the background and created the perfect mood for the story. Many songs inspired scenes and some wound up in my books. A phrase in one song even became the title of one of my books.

But nothing surprised me or influenced me more than when I heard Chris Young’s song, Think Of You, for the first time. Cody and Hannah’s book, The Cowboy’s Rebellious Bride, came to me in an instant—best friends to lovers, life of the party, all their friends wishing they were them, memories that can’t be erased, etc. It was a perfect fit. The song played in my head when I wrote their story. (It’s now the ringtone on my phone.) And, it just so happened, the day I turned in the manuscript to the Tule Publishing Group was the same day my husband and I got to see Chris Young in concert. I remember hearing him sing Think Of You and tears came to my eyes. What an incredible full circle moment for me—a very grateful writer, indeed—to merge my love of music with my love of characters and stories.

I hope you fall in love with Cody and Hannah the same way I did when they jumped out of this song, danced in my head, and came to life on the pages of The Cowboy’s Rebellious Bride.

Here’s a few of the tunes on my playlist for The Cowboy’s Rebellious Bride:

Think Of You by Chris Young

Kiss Me Like This by Toby Keith

Top Of The World by Tim McGraw

Perfect Storm by Brad Paisley

Life’s A Dance by John Michael Montgomery


Bestselling author Laurie LeClair writes romantic comedy, contemporary romance, and contemporary women’s fiction. Laurie’s habit of daydreaming has gotten her into a few scrapes and launched her to take up her dream of writing. Finally, she can put all those stories in her head to rest as she brings them to life on the page.


Traci Douglass Shares An Exclusive Look into Blood Vowed!

Hi Tule Readers!

I’m so excited about the release of book three, BLOOD VOWED, in my Blood Ravagers series. Rev and Claire have both been through quite a lot before they even meet and end up going through quite a bit more before they earn their HEA. I had a blast researching and writing this story and I hope you love reading it as much as I loved creating it! To celebrate BLOOD VOWED’s release, please enjoy this super-secret, exclusive excerpt from the book just for checking out my Tule blog post. Happy Reading!

Exclusive Excerpt:

Three days later, Claire had recovered enough to start her fight training with Rev.

She looked forward to it, but not for the reasons he suspected.

Since he’d taken care of her during her sickness, a new level of intimacy had formed between them—and a new awkwardness. She’d thought by proclaiming her desire for him, it would open the door for more exploration of the sizzling connection between them.

Unfortunately, it had seemed to only make Rev retreat farther.

He’d remained attentive in his duties to nurse her back to health, but he’d withdrawn emotionally and she had no idea how to get them in sync again. Honestly, she hoped by fighting with him today it would force him into more intimate contact—both emotional and physical—with her.

They’d walked a short distance from his home to an open field in the middle of the woods. From the outside, it was easy to see now just how far his once-great estate had fallen into disrepair. It was also easy to see how the large mansion, built to resemble an old gothic castle, was a metaphor for the man himself. Battered, bruised, yet still brutality beautiful and resilient.

“Right.” He took a fighting stance across from her then waggled his fingers. “Come at me.”

Frowning, Claire narrowed her gaze. “You do not fear I might injure you?”

“I fear nothing.” Rev’s posture stiffened. “Hit me.”

Not backing down from his challenge, Claire crouched and reviewed the combat skills she’d learned from Jareth’s books. She might be smaller, but she’s survived the worst the Council could dish out. If he wanted her to prove her worthiness and her skill, she’d knock him on his ass before he laid a finger on her.

“No,” she countered. “You hit me.”

He clenched and unclenched his fists at his sides. “I have never in my long life struck a female. I refuse to start now.”

His honor unnerved her. Auric had never hesitated to strike her. Neither had Elon or Jareth. For Rev to balk at such violence left her unsettled, in a good way. Then again, maybe that was his plan. Throw her for a loop then strike while she was too dizzy to notice.

Claire raised her hands. “Fine. I’m going to do it. Punch you so hard you won’t know whether you’re coming or going.”

“Good.” Rev closed his eyes and exhaled.

Her gaze narrowed. “You should run.”

“Why?” He peeked one eye open. “Will that improve your aim?”

She had no idea how to react to his complete lack of fear. “My aim is perfect. Do you have a last request?”

Both eyes open now, Rev gave her a slow head-to-toe appraisal, his voice low and rough and infinitely wicked. “If I had one final wish, it would be to touch you and taste you and make you explode with ecstasy.”

Breathless and bewildered, Claire blinked at him. “You should not say such things.”

“Too late.” Rev smiled, stealing what was left of the air in her lungs.


Traci is a USA Today Bestselling Author of Contemporary and Paranormal Romance. Her stories feature sizzling heroes full of dark humor, quick wits and major attitudes and heroines who are smart, tenacious, and always give as good as they get. She holds an MFA in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University and she loves animals, chocolate, coffee, hot British actors, and sarcasm—not necessarily in that order.