Tule Author Q&A: Sinclair Jayne loves writing in Marietta!

Sinclair Jayne stopped by the Tule blog to discuss the second book in her Montana Rodeo Brides series, The Cowboy’s Challenge!

 

Where did you get the inspiration for The Cowboy’s Challenge?

The Cowboy’s Challenge was inspired partly by a conversation with author and publisher and friend, Jane Porter. I was feeling a little mournful that I’d wrapped up my series of the Wolf Brothers of Last Stand, Texas. I’d loved writing about a ranching family with such deep ties to the land and their history, but the surviving Wolf family (that they know of—HA!—a tease) had a very dark and tragic history that had impacted the three cowboy brothers in very different ways. I love writing brooding, angsty heroes who despite whatever they’ve got going on, don’t complain and get the job done, and don’t want to talk about it. But I felt emotionally wiped out. Jane shrugged off my lack of inspiration and said, “make your new cowboys fun.”

As luck would have it, I was almost immediately heading out to the Oregon Coast for a writing retreat, so I bandied ideas around with an author friend, Kasey Lane. I wanted the cowboys to be rodeo cowboys (of course) and hyper competitive about everything. I wanted the swagger and playful attitude. But then what? I’ve written another cowboy/ranch family series set in Marietta, Montana, as well as a couple of stories during the Copper Mountain rodeo. I loved the condensed timeline, strong sense of place and whole high stakes theater of a rodeo. 

I thought of a wager or a game between three highly competitive but tight group of professional rodeo cowboy cousins. But what about? What was the prize? What were the rules? Brides seemed outrageous and difficult to pull off so naturally Montana Rodeo Brides was born and the game began. When the Pandemic hit a few weeks later and the world shut down, there was so much stress and sorrow surrounding me, and these Ballantyne cowboys and their teasing antics and gamesmanship kept my spirits up so that I could keep an even keel and stay strong for my own family.

 

How do you relate to Langston, your heroine, and how do you hope readers will relate to her? How do you relate to Bowen?

Langston Carr is the hero in the second book, The Cowboy’s Challenge. I created Langston for the oldest Ballantyne, Bowen, because he has the weight of responsibility always on his shoulders, and he never learned to lighten up. The name Langston is from one of my favorite poets, Langston Hughes, who wrote during the Harlem Renaissance, a unit I used to teach to my 8th graders many years ago when I taught middle school. He had such power with words and with a (seemingly) simple turn of phrase, he could connote such an ache and yet power history and beauty. Langston is the avatar I would like to have go through my life—she gets knocked down often and is hit on all sides, and yet she pops up and jumps back into the fray called life. She is also so isolated and estranged from her family (and the Ballantynes are such a strong, fierce family unit), and her desire for one caused her to make poor romantic choices I’m sure so many readers can relate to. And yet, she is determined to build her best life, and fearless enough to jump into the game with Bowen, confident that this time, she can keep her sunny attitude while keeping her heart in check. Bowen does her a favor, and she is fierce about doing one for him, even when she’s aware that she’s once again falling in love with her tall, silent, oh-so-honorable cowboy.

What I love about Bowen is that he’s so willing to sacrifice himself for others, but it’s so hard for him to accept that anyone would or should do the same for him. I think many women, especially during the pandemic had so many burdens placed on them—child care, teaching their kids, taking care of aging parents, running errands for family or ailing neighbors and yet still working for the paycheck, making ends meet, taking care of the house and dog and family and trying to maintain their sanity. Bowen is my ideal wife☺

 

What has been your favorite part about writing stories set in Marietta?

I LOVE to set stories in Marietta. I first started at Tule (and still work there) over eight years ago as an editor and initially so many of the books were set in and around Marietta, Montana. I’d been to Montana many times as a kid—visiting the national parks, and as an adult I’d driven through the Bitterroot Valley more than a few times. I always marveled at its extreme, almost painful beauty. Marietta is not in the Bitterroot Valley, but Paradise Valley also has so much natural beauty. The weather and landscape is its own character, and the town of Marietta has been crafted so sweetly by so many authors now that it feels like home. I am surrounded by friends, and also have two of my own Marietta families—the Wilders and the Telfords there.

 

Are your characters set before you begin writing or do you let them develop as you go? What did that development process look like for The Cowboy’s Challenge?

I always craft my characters first. I think about who they are, what drives them, what do they want, what do they fear, what are the childhood experiences that stay with them. I am always thinking about characters as I walk my dog or drive around on errands or work in the yard. I am often inspired by something I read, or part of a story I hear and that sends my imagination flying? What kind of person would get in that situation? What are some other ways it could play out differently, and who would be the person acting or reacting like that and why? Still, characters evolve as I write. I often will glean new information that will spin a new conflict or different direction or birth a new character as I write. The writing process is fairly fluid for me. I will have a premise or a question, and then I craft a character. It’s not until I really have a feel for my hero or heroine that I even bother trying to think of much of a plot. If they don’t act independently of my brain in the story sixty to seventy-five percent of the time, I don’t feel like I’ve done my job “raising” them. 

The development process for the Cowboy Challenge was more complicated than usual because I had the premise—three rodeo cowboys hatch a scheme (in a bar, of course) to have a bride by the end of the rodeo. Why? Who are they? How can I make this scenario remotely believable so readers will get on the horse and ride with these sexy goofs? Having a character’s Goal, Motivation, and Conflict is essential before any meaningful plotting can happen for me. Also complicating the creation process while also making it super exciting and challenging, was that all three stories take place simultaneously during the same week of the Copper Mountain Rodeo.  So, I not only had to have a deep dive on all three of the Ballantyne cousins before I started, but I also had to know the three other players—the heroines. Who were they and why would they agree to this theatrical stunt? What were they bringing to the party, so to speak and what were they getting in return?

I briefly played with the idea of having the three Ballantyne cowboys be brothers, but I had several specific reasons why I wanted and needed them to be cousins, which will be clear—if I’ve done my job—at the end of the third book when I conclude the series.

 

What are you currently reading?

As far as what I am currently reading, I am editing a book for Tule that is by a new to Tule author, which I am very excited about.  I am also reading the second book in my upcoming Misguided Masala Matchmaker series next year, called Swipe Right for Marriage to polish it for the editing process. For fun this summer I’ve been enjoying a couple of books because my science-oriented daughter, who has mystifyingly decided to major in philosophy and history instead of physics or chemistry, which were her passion for years—took an astronomy course over the summer and so our house was filled with astronomy and astrophysics books and conversations I barely understood while she talked about what she was learning with an enthusiasm that I found inspirational and very humbling. We bought Startalk, the illustrated companion to the podcast that we’d listen to as well as Neil DeGrasse Tyson’s Astrophysics for People in a Hurry. She devoured them along with a few Steven Hawking books I’m still too intimidated to pick up. I am making progress even though she headed out for her sophomore year in college over a week ago. 

I hope you get a chance to read The Cowboy’s Challenge and that you enjoy it—I think it is science free, but someday I am going to write a character with her head full of knowledge, and that is how I am planning to rope my daughter into this fun but crazy career, if only for a moment. She is a hilarious story teller, and her sense of irony sings.

 

About the Author

Sinclair Sawhney is a former journalist and middle school teacher who holds a BA in Political Science and K-8 teaching certificate from the University of California, Irvine and a MS in Education with an emphasis in teaching writing from the University of Washington. She has worked as Senior Editor with Tule Publishing for over seven years. Writing as Sinclair Jayne she’s published fifteen short contemporary romances with Tule Publishing with another four books being released in 2021. Married for over twenty-four years, she has two children, and when she isn’t writing or editing, she and her husband, Deepak, are hosting wine tastings of their pinot noir and pinot noir rose at their vineyard Roshni, which is a Hindi word for light-filled, located in Oregon’s Willamette Valley. Shaandaar!



Tule Author Q&A: Joanne Walsh loves second chances!

Joanne Walsh stopped by the Tule blog to discuss the third book in her Greek Island Millionaires series, The Millionaire’s Marriage Proposal!

 

Silver-colored Tungsten Ring on Human Left HandWhere did you get the inspiration for The Millionaire’s Marriage Proposal?

I’ve always been a fan of the marriage/engagement of convenience theme, and with this novel, wanted to challenge myself by taking an apparently convenient proposal and giving it a modern, believable spin. As it turns out, the hero, Dimitri, is proposing for real; he loves the heroine, Sally, and as a true alpha male, wants to do the best for their unborn child. But as Sally has reason to believe he might have other motives things don’t turn out the way he planned!

 

This is a fun second chance romance. What drew you to this trope? What’s your favorite trope to write?

I love the thought that we can have second chances in life, and I’m also fascinated by the concept of first love and how intense it can be. So I decided to take the two, mix them together and see what happened.

Sally and Dimitri have existed side by side for fifteen years since they split in a small Greek island community. Secretly, neither has stopped loving the other. The question is, now an opportunity has arisen for them to get close again, in the shape of relaunching Sally’s business, can they overcome the hurt and the lack of trust that swirls between them and reclaim the affection they once had?

My favorite trope is the secret baby because no matter how unexpected a child might be, it has the power to bring people together and heal.

 

How do you relate to Sally, your heroine, and how do you hope readers will relate to her? How do you relate to Dimitri?

I wrote Sally wanting the reader to understand how a lack of love in her earlier life has made it hard for her to recognize that lasting love has been there, right under her nose, all along. She starts the book feeling daunted and alone, but draws on the resilience and stubbornness she’s developed that have got her through some tough times. When the opportunity to start over doing something she’s passionate about comes along, she has to make a decision. If she goes with it, it’s her chance to break free, but it also means accepting Dimitri’s support.

I hope readers will enjoy her journey of growth and self-discovery. Personally, I relate to her because I’m willing her to succeed.

Dimitri, of course, is a romantic hero, so he has some archetypal fantasy qualities, such as being impossibly good looking and possessing unmatched prowess in bed! But because of his life experiences, he’s learned sensitivity and he also has flaws. It’s that less perfect, emotional side to him that intrigues me.

 

What was your favorite scene to write and why?

My favorite scene has to be the first time that Sally and Dimitri make love. They’ve traveled far to get there, and the sexual tension between them is at boiling point. What makes it more special for me is that Sally, after a lot of wrestling with her lack of confidence in the bedroom, pushes herself to take control—with red-hot results!

Here’s a little snippet for you:

 “Hey, don’t do things like that to me,” he gritted, taking hold of her chin and cupping it, “or I may have to make love to you.”

“There’s no may about it,” she replied, secretly reveling in the way he reacted.

Staring at her, one brow quirked with surprise, he moved his hand to smooth back her hair from her cheek. “Are you saying what I think you are, Sally? That you want to—”

“Make love. I’m ready now.”

“My Sally, I should ask you if you’re really sure about this. It seems quick after what we talked about.” Caressing her jaw, he searched her face. “But when I look in your eyes, I see fire, and when I listen to your voice, I hear certainty. You’re ready.” He bent and brushed her lips with his. 

Any lingering hesitation melted away like icicles in the sun as her longing for him, for his mouth and his body to meld with hers, took over. Shifting herself from under him, she pushed herself off the bed and got to her feet, surveying him for a second before reaching for the concealed zip on the side seam of her dress and pulling it with a determined little tug. “Let’s get on with it,” she announced curtly. Pushing the shoulders of her dress down and letting the garment drop to pool at her feet, she registered with deep satisfaction his expression of surprise, the look of sheer hunger, as his eyes landed on her naked body. Since she didn’t possess sexy lingerie, she’d opted for dispensing with underwear altogether…

 

What are you currently reading?

 Currently, I have Summer of ’69 by Erin Hilderbrand on my Kindle. It’s a kind of coming-of-age story, set around four siblings in the last tumultuous year of a decade when everything changed. It’s the perfect summer read because the author has a light style yet manages to pack in lots of relationship drama against an evocative setting.

 

About the Author

Joanne Walsh became hooked on romance when her grandma gave her a copy of Gone with the Wind for her birthday. The teachers at her strict girls’ school didn’t approve of a ten-year-old reading such a ‘racy’ novel and confiscated it. But Joanne still became a voracious romance reader and, later, an editor for one of the world’s leading women’s fiction publishers, where she could do two of her favorite things: work with her beloved alpha-male heroes and spend time in the USA. These days, Joanne lives in the south of England and divides her time between freelance editing, writing and spending time with her very own real-life alpha…


THE WITCH’S JOURNEY: Release day blog post featuring Leigh Ann Edwards

I’m really happy to be back on the Tule blog. It’s release day for The Witch’s Journey, book three in my Witches of Time series and I’m very excited. I enjoyed writing this book so much. It was such a lot of fun. Although I never write anything but historical fantasy, much of this book has a modern-day setting and the heroine’s from the present. 

Angelique’s also a witch. Hopelessly unlucky in love, on her best-friend’s suggestion, she uses a spell to summon her perfect man. Little does she know she’ll evoke Captain Faolan Mahoney––an eighteenth century Irish pirate. Angelique originally intends to return Faolan to his time during the next full moon when her magic’s strongest. They just have to fight the powerful attraction and not fall in love in the next four weeks.

It’s not exactly your typical contemporary novel, but it was great to include modern sayings and reference television, movies, songs and technology. It’s especially funny to see Faolan’s reaction to some items or when he tries to figure out what Angelique’s talking about. Her refers to the washer as the spinning machine and calls the TV, the odd shiny black mirror. 

Angelique is equally or even more out of her element when they go back to Faolan’s time and she experiences a taste of the dangerous life in the seventeen hundreds. Being a self-proclaimed germaphobe and peace-loving humanitarian creates problems for her with both the lack of sanitation and violence. Together, Angelique and Faolan time travel to three different centuries.

I’m absolutely thrilled with this book’s cover. Although I love them all, this is my favorite of the series. Pink’s always been my signature color with purple a close second so when I saw the mock-up, I was very pleased. I also love how the designer captured several different time periods.  

I enjoyed developing the main characters, writing their amusing banter, their emotional love story and including characters from previous books in this Witches of Time series and the Irish Witch series.  Another of my favorite parts of writing The Witch’s Journey was creating a little creature called an elgnorf––part elf, gnome and dwarf. He’s Angelique’s magical guide and much like a grumpy garden gnome. He’s cranky, sarcastic and impatient, but when Angelique gives it right back to him, they eventually develop a sweet friendship.

 I’ve always loved garden gnomes. There was one left with our house when we bought it. My husband joked that was why I wanted this house. My daughter also gave me another little gnome in a plant one Mother’s Day. Although they’re friendly-looking, not like the elgnorf from my story, both of my gnomes were the inspiration for creating this amusing character.  

It brings me joy envisioning and creating these magical worlds, fantastical creatures, interesting characters and love stories. I’ve especially appreciated writing this series during the rigid restrictions during Covid. I could just get lost in my writing and escape the real world. I’m from Alberta Canada. It’s been an especially hot, dry summer here. Having a severe sun sensitivity has also allowed me time to just stay inside and write. 

This May my family experienced a tragic loss. My son-in-law passed from cancer only twelve days after a terminal diagnosis. Understandably, it’s been really tough for my daughter and grandchildren who are thirteen and sixteen. There’s never a good time to lose a parent, but the teenage years are especially hard. Even though we’re aware life has no guarantees and we never know how long we have, it’s still such a shock when it happens close to home. So many have lost loved ones due to Covid, also. It’s a stark reminder to enjoy the time we do have which is an ongoing theme for Angelique and Faolan, too. 

I’m hoping to find a better balance with my writing and homelife. I provide parttime childcare for my two younger grandchildren before and after school or overnight as my daughter works shiftwork and her husband works away. I also homeschool my eldest grandson, but still I often find myself spending more time with the characters in my books than the special people in my life. 

With my upcoming series I intend to focus on treating my writing as a job, not a full-time obsession, although I fully admit when I finished writing book four, I felt lost and really eager to begin the next series. Instead, I had a little fun starting a Christmas story set in a small town in Maine. My sister-in-law has always insisted I write a Christmas book for her. I even have ideas for making it into a series. A lot of interesting characters are just emerging…. as they so often do. 

I look forward to being here on the Tule blog again in seven weeks for the October 4th release of book four, The Witches Reckoning, the last in this series. It ties up The Witches of Time series and my original series, The Irish Witch series

Magical wishes everyone, 

Leigh Ann Edwards

 

Leigh Ann Edwards has always been fascinated by history, magic, romance, witches and Ireland which all inspired her first series, The Irish Witch Series. Growing up in a very small Manitoba town on the Canadian prairies allowed lots of time to create stories and let her imagination soar. Now writing her third series with Tule Publishing, Leigh Ann also loves reading, traveling, spending time with her four grandchildren, doing intuitive readings and reiki.

Leigh Ann lives with her husband, their two very large dogs and two cats near Edmonton Alberta, Canada.


Tule Author Q&A: Debra Holt relates to her hero and heroine!

Debra Holt stopped by the Tule blog to discuss the third book in her Tremaynes of Texas series, The Bronc Rider Takes a Fall!

 

Where did you get the inspiration for The Bronc Rider Takes a Fall?

I got to thinking about a bronc rider, and what they try so hard not to do — take a fall. Then I thought about a bronc rider who actually fell, and wound up not just in the dirt, but also with a beautiful woman on top of him. The rest of that scene came along after that, and the book grew around it.

 

This is a fun opposites attract romance. What drew you to this trope? What’s your favorite trope to write?

Opposites attract is so much fun to write, especially for Trey and Laurie. She isn’t his type, and he’s certainly not hers. But my favorite trope would be second chances. I enjoy writing those the most. It always brings out the romantic sparks in my mind. 

 

How do you relate to Laurie, your heroine, and how do you hope readers will relate to her? How do you relate to Trey?Photo of Man Doing Rodeo

Laurie and I are so much alike. We’re both organized and dependable, and we play by the rules. We take the road less risky when it comes to raising a child. And we’re both stubborn women who won’t risk giving their heart to the wrong person. I hope readers will relate to her strength of character. Her skills at being a single mom. And how she finally believes in love and romance enough to take a chance on a rough and tumble cowboy.

I relate to Trey because growing up, I went to quite a few rodeos and had a few friends who were bull or bronc riders in their teens. There was always a lot of bravado to cut through, to separate the really good riders from those who just talked a good game. I saw Trey as one of the ones who had set a goal for himself, who had chosen a path, and who wasn’t going to let others shape him via their misconceptions about “just another Romeo cowboy.”

 

Are your characters set before you begin writing or do you let them develop as you go? What did that development process look like for The Bronc Rider Takes a Fall?

It’s strange, but for me, most often, the title comes first. Then there’s a blank slate where I draw out my hero and heroine. After that, we’re off to the races! The story goes where the characters lead. For this story, the title came, and then I knew I wanted this bronc rider to meet his match… and for the heroine to meet hers. Both Trey and Laurie had to come out of their comfort zones to find each other.

 

What are you currently reading?

I’m laughing at this question! I miss reading. But right now, I’m under deadlines for my new four-book series, The Texas Heritage Series, so there’s zero time to read. Someday…

 

About the Author

Born and raised in the Lone Star state of Texas, Debra grew up among horses, cowboys, wide open spaces, and real Texas Rangers.  Pride in her state and ancestry knows no bounds and it is these heroes and heroines she loves to write about the most.  She also draws upon a variety of life experiences including working with abused children, caring for baby animals at a major zoo, and planning high-end weddings (ah, romance!).

Debra’s real pride and joys, however, are her son, an aspiring film actor, and a daughter with aspirations to join the Federal Bureau of Investigation. (more story ideas!)  When she isn’t busy writing about tall Texans and feisty heroines, she can be found cheering on her Texas Tech Red Raiders, or heading off on another cruise adventure.  She read her first romance…Janet Dailey’s Fiesta San Antonio, over thirty years ago and became hooked on the genre. Writing contemporary western romances,  is both her passion and dream come true, and she hopes her books will bring smiles…and sighs…to all who believe in happily-ever-after’s.


Tule Author Q&A: H L Marsay researched Vikings in York!

H L Marsay stopped by the Tule blog to discuss the second book in her Chief Inspector Shadow Mystery series, A Viking’s Shadow!

 

Where did you get the inspiration for A Viking’s Shadow?

Here in York we are very proud of our Viking heritage. Even our name comes from the Viking word Jorvik. Every February (pre COVID), we hold a Viking festival. People dress up as Vikings, tents are set up in the city’s streets and squares showing demonstrations of skills like weaving and axe throwing and we welcome lots of visitors from Scandinavia. I imagined how much Shadow would hate so much disruption to his daily routine, especially if a crime was committed and he was thrown into the middle of it all.

 

What kind of research did you need to do for this story?

I spent a lot of time reading about Viking York and also visited Jorvik, the city’s museum dedicated to Viking daily life. It’s an amazing place, but it prides itself on being authentic, right down to the smell. I won’t go into too much detail, but imagine a time when both the fires and sewers were open!

 

Brown Buildings on End of Road Under Cloudy SkyIf you could spend the day with John Shadow, your protagonist, what would you two do?

Oh dear, John Shadow isn’t very sociable, but if I could convince him to spend the day with me, food would certainly be involved. We would begin the day with breakfast at Bettys, York’s famous tearooms. Next, if it wasn’t raining, we would take a walk to Museum Gardens or Dean’s Park and Shadow might even let me help him complete his Yorkshire Post crossword. Then it would be time for lunch in one of the city’s many pubs (we have 365, one for each day of the year!). After lunch, we’d take a walk down by the river to Florence, the canal boat where Shadow lives. Hopefully, I could persuade him to tell me about some of his past cases and maybe even talk about Luisa, his lost love. Dinner would be in one of his favourite Italian restaurants, then after all that eating and drinking, I would definitely need to go to sleep.

 

What was your favorite scene to write and why?

I love writing any scene between Shadow and his deputy, Sergeant Jimmy Chang because they are complete opposites. In a mystery it’s always tricky to choose a snippet that doesn’t contain spoilers, but I think the scene below shows their relationship and personalities, without giving away what happens in the story.

 

As the pavement was still narrower than usual, Jimmy walked a couple of paces ahead. He looked like he was doing a strange sort of dance, as he swayed from side to side, his long legs sidestepping the many puddles that lay in his path.

“New trainers,” Shadow said, more as an observation than an enquiry. He shuddered to think what his sergeant spent on his footwear. Jimmy nodded.

 “I wouldn’t have worn them if I’d known it was going to be this wet,” he complained.

“Yes, who could possibly have envisaged it would rain during autumn in North Yorkshire?” retorted Shadow as he took another bite of bacon muffin.

They arrived in St Sampson’s Square and came to a halt at the fortune teller’s tent. The outside was already draped with bright yellow police tape, while two uniformed officers patrolled up and down.

“You go in and check what we’ve got,” Shadow said between mouthfuls. He was enjoying his breakfast too much to have it ruined by a beheading or some other gruesome wound. 

Jimmy ducked into the tent. Shadow took his last bite, wiped his fingers, and screwed the napkin into a ball and stuffed it into his pocket.

“It’s okay, Chief. She’s only been strangled,” Jimmy’s voice shouted out loud and clear from inside the tent. An old lady pulling a shopping trolley along behind her looked startled and stopped to stare. Shadow smiled weakly before also ducking into the tent.

 

What are you currently reading?

I have always loved watching Midsomer Murders and I’ve finally started reading the books the series is based on. The Killings at Badger’s Drift by Caroline Graham is the first book and I’m really enjoying it.

 

About the Author

H L Marsay always loved detective stories and promised herself that one day, she would write one too. She is lucky enough to live in York, a city full of history and mystery. When not writing, the five men in her life keep her busy – two sons, two dogs and one husband.


WRONG NUMBER: Release day blog post featuring Laura Brown

Romances featuring disabled main characters

The books I grew up reading didn’t have disabled characters. If they did, the characters were often minor, a hindrance, and/or portrayed negatively and inaccurately. These romance displayed abled bodied main characters, which sends the message that the ideal body is non-disabled, that the people worthy of love are non-disabled.

I’m Hard of Hearing. I’ve always had my hearing loss. I grew up without any role models. I didn’t see myself in books, I didn’t see myself in movies or on television. I saw myself in random older people who had late onset hearing loss, which is vastly different from my life experiences. If a book did have a character with a hearing loss, it often left me angry at the inaccurate portrayal, and most of those didn’t start becoming a thing until I was an adult.

Bottom line: I didn’t get to see people with hearing loss as happy and healthy and worthy of love.

I wanted to change all of that.

It took me some time to get there. When I first started writing I didn’t think I’d be able to consistently write disabled characters, characters with hearing loss. So few books are out there with disabilities in general, why would I be able to write mine? Would readers truly want to read stories featuring disabled main characters? But then I started writing these characters, I started putting parts of myself and the people I know on the page, and I don’t want to stop.

More important, I sold these books. Readers started reading these books. Instead of being told to stop now and write able bodied, hearing characters, I was encouraged to make this part of my brand, to continue to give happy endings to those with hearing loss.

Because we all deserve a happy ending, not just the stereotypical hero and heroine. Because through my characters I can spread awareness and help counteract the harmful assumptions hearing and abled people make. Because we all do need love and deserve to see ourselves as worthy.

In Wrong Number I have two main characters with disabilities. Avery, who is hard of hearing like me and wears hearing aids. And Jake, who limps due to burns he sustained in a fire as a child. Jake is not like me and I did a lot of research in an attempt to portray him accurately and respectfully. I wanted a hero that wasn’t perfect. And I wanted his imperfections to be a positive part of him, much like Avery’s hearing loss.

Their disabilities don’t make up their whole autonomy. Rather, it’s simply a part of who they are. It affects their abilities at times, requires adjustment and accommodations. This is real life. I don’t get to pop in my hearing aids and go about my day as a hearing person. I am always hard of hearing, with or without my aids. A person with a limp has mobility limitations that affect them daily, and not simply an awkward gate but pain and adjustments to how an abled person moves. These limitations should not be a hindrance to finding love. They are a part of a person, and they deserve love.

And that is the ultimate takeaway here, we are all deserving of love. Many of today’s romances strive to break down those barriers in different ways. This is my way. Because even as we make changes and strive to step forward more inclusively, there is still a large under representation and misrepresentation in novels regarding disabilities. And there are so many different disabilities that deserve their chance to shine.

I love writing disabled characters! I love putting parts of myself onto the page, the raw parts, the thrilling parts, and all those in-between. I love being able to write things that an outsider can’t, and putting in my own experiences. For example, Avery has a hearing aid that breaks. The back end of the mechanical shell breaks off her first day at her new job. This is a true story! It happened to me in college, the final five weeks of classes and I ended up down a hearing aid for the rest of the semester since the aid could not be temporarily fixed.

I hope that I will continue to see more romances featuring disabled main characters, especially those written by disabled authors themselves. I hope we in the romance community can send the message that we are all deserving of love. Different shapes and sizes, different colors and abilities, our differences make us worthy. We can make powerful changes one book at a time.

 

After spending her childhood coming up with new episodes to her favorite sitcoms instead of sleeping, Laura Brown decided to try her hand at writing and never looked back. A hopeless romantic, she married her high school sweetheart, though they didn’t even go to the same high school! They live in Massachusetts with two cats with cerebellar hypoplasia, and an energetic kid who keeps them on their toes.

Laura’s been hard of hearing her entire life but didn’t start learning ASL until college, when her disability morphed from an inconvenience to a positive part of her identity. It’s important to her to create strong, competent characters with hearing loss, as she didn’t have that growing up. At home the closed captioning is always on, lights flash with the doorbell, and hearing aids are sometimes optional.


Tule Author Q&A: Leah Vale loves opposites attract romances!

Leah Vale stopped by the Tule blog to discuss the fourth book in her Rodeo Romeos series, The Cowboy Doctor!

 

Where did you get the inspiration for The Cowboy Doctor?

I wanted to explore how siblings, based on their birth order, might react to a parent’s severe injury and ultimate passing when they were younger. Drew, as a middle child, might find it easy to go unseen, slipping into his mother’s sick room unnoticed to watch the homecare doctors and nurses tending to her. I imagined he’d grow to want to be like them so he’d be able to better care for his family. And the best/worst person for him to fall in love with would be a woman who’d had her fill of being cared for, especially by a doctor.

 

This is a fun opposites attract, forced proximity romance. What drew you to this trope? What’s your favorite trope to write?

I love the opposites attract, forced proximity trope because it absolutely oozes with opportunities for conflict, not to mention sparks! Especially when the characters have strong motivation for being the way they are. My favorite trope to write is the wounded hero/heroine. Successfully figuring out how to heal them through the power of love is so satisfying and gives me all the squishy feels.

 

If you could spend the day with Drew or Peyton, who would you choose and what would you do?

Obviously, the thrill-seeking, fun-loving Peyton would be a ton of fun to spend a day with. But I have a tendency to hurt myself (case in point, I wrote this book with a broken arm) so hanging out with a sports medicine doc would be the smart call. Then there’s the fact that Drew is a cowboy, through and through. I do so like cowboys. Going for a horseback ride, then watching the sun set on a blanket spread in a grassy field while the horses graze nearby… Wait, what was the question? ;)

How is Drew different from his family members, Caitlin, Liam, and Ian? How is he the same?

All of the Neisson children were shaped differently by their mother’s injury and subsequent death. Caitlin became protective, Liam grew angry, Ian became a fixer, and Alec just wants to seize the day. Drew saw firsthand the comfort and aid the medical professionals who cared for his mother provided. He wanted to be able to do the same, not just for his own family, but also for the Pineville rodeo community as a whole. He is the same as his siblings when it comes to his devotion to his family and his courage to do what is right, despite the cost.

 

What are you currently reading?

I am currently obsessed with the Grishaverse Series by Leigh Bardugo. After binging the Shadow and Bone series on Netflix, I raced to buy the books and am now on book seven, Rule of Wolves. Next on my TBR pile is The Four Winds by one of my all-time favorite authors, Kristin Hannah.

 

About the Author

Having never met an unhappy ending she couldn’t mentally “fix,” Leah Vale believes writing romance novels is the perfect job for her. A Pacific Northwest native with a B.A. in Communications from the University of Washington, she lives in Central Oregon, with a huge golden retriever who thinks he’s a lap dog. While having the chance to share her “happy endings from scratch” is a dream come true, dinner generally has to come premade from the store.



THE RANCHER RISKS IT ALL: Release day blog post featuring Debra Holt

How to Write a Book When You Have a Life Too

Everybody has a story inside them, and everybody should have the opportunity to share that

story with the world. But how do you do that when you have so many other demands on your time?

Make it a priority

Pastor and author C.J. Mahaney said, “We make time for what we truly value. We build habits and routines around the things that really matter to us.” This is never more true than when it comes to writing a book around an already busy schedule.

What that looks like is up to you. Maybe you’re a morning person, and you can get up 30 minutes earlier every morning to write. Or maybe you’re a night owl, and staying up 30 minutes later works better for you. In either case, it’s a simple way to get more writing time in your busy day.

Delegate to others

You don’t have to iron love into your spouse’s shirts, or cook love into your dinner casserole. In fact, you don’t have to do any household chores again if you don’t want to. You can hire a housekeeper. Drop your laundry off at a dry cleaner or laundromat that has wash, dry, fold services. Hire someone in your community to fix your meals and freeze them for your convenience.

It doesn’t have to be expensive, either; high school students and college kids often work for low wages, or in exchange for being able to do their own laundry while they clean your home. Use that creative brain to channel other ways you might delegate and free up time for your laptop.

Divide your book into chunks

The obvious chunks to break your book into are the chapters. But chapters have sections, too. And those sections have a beginning, a middle, and an end. Divide your book down into the smallest component parts that make sense. Then write one at a time. Don’t get trapped into thinking you have to write whole chapters in one sitting.

Set little goals

“Write a book” is an enormous long-term goal. You must set short-term goals if you want to succeed in achieving the long-term one. Don’t even set “write a chapter” or “write a section of a chapter” as your goal.

You want your goal to be actionable and continuous, meaning you need your goal to be something entirely under your control, and something you can keep doing over and over. “Write for 15 minutes” fits that bill. You can’t control if you manage to write a whole section at a time, but you can control how long you write. And you can write for 15 minutes over and over again.

Schedule time to write

William Faulkner was once asked if he wrote on inspiration or on a schedule. He replied, “I only write when I am inspired. Fortunately I am inspired every day at nine o’clock.” It’s easier to write a book for some authors if you write on a daily schedule. Whether it’s 30 minutes or three hours, set a schedule and stick to it.

Use every spare minute

Use every spare minute you can find to work on your book. Use something like Google Docs to write, so you have access to your work on any device. Here are some examples of where you could squeeze in extra writing time:

  • Riding in the car, bus, or subway
  • Breaks at work
  • Waiting for other things to happen, like when dinner is cooking or you’re sitting in the doctor’s office

You can also use a voice-to-text feature like Google Docs’ Voice Typing to dictate your book in those spare minutes, so you don’t have to find space in those spare minutes to go typing everything in.

When I write my novels, I’m working around a full-time day job, a husband with more than a few health issues, weddings I’m planning for my son and for my daughter, and a dozen other real life obligations. I’ve found ways to steal time away for my books, because writing is my passion and my escape from all else. And if I can do it, you can too.

 

Born and raised in the Lone Star state of Texas, Debra grew up among horses, cowboys, wide open spaces, and real Texas Rangers.  Pride in her state and ancestry knows no bounds and it is these heroes and heroines she loves to write about the most.  She also draws upon a variety of life experiences including working with abused children, caring for baby animals at a major zoo, and planning high-end weddings (ah, romance!).

Debra’s real pride and joys, however, are her son, an aspiring film actor, and a daughter with aspirations to join the Federal Bureau of Investigation. (more story ideas!)  When she isn’t busy writing about tall Texans and feisty heroines, she can be found cheering on her Texas Tech Red Raiders, or heading off on another cruise adventure.  She read her first romance…Janet Dailey’s Fiesta San Antonio, over thirty years ago and became hooked on the genre. Writing contemporary western romances,  is both her passion and dream come true, and she hopes her books will bring smiles…and sighs…to all who believe in happily-ever-after’s.