Jodi Thomas Guest Post – Spotlight on: A Christmas Affair

A warm welcome back to Jodi Thomas, author of the Ransom Canyon series. Today Jodi will give a brief glimpse into the next installment – a novella: A CHRISTMAS AFFAIR. Thanks for visiting today, Jodi. I can’t wait to read Maria’s story!

Often when I write a book there is a story that I didn’t have time to tell.  A person who didn’t get their happy ever after ending.

Maria, Dakota’s sister in INDIGO LAKE, was that person.  I wanted to see her with her own story.

The fact that she is blind is only a part of the story.  For one time, one moment, she wants to feel alive.   She sets out to make her dream come true.  In her mind she can’t see forever, but she’s daydreamed of having an affair with the kind storekeeper she talks to every week.  Since her accident she’s never felt fully alive, so she decides to give herself a gift for Christmas.  An affair with Wes Whitman.

Even if it only lasts one night, she’ll have a memory to keep.

Only, he wants far more.  Wes wants forever.

I look forward to my readers stepping into the familiar setting of Crossroads, Texas, and celebrating Christmas with Maria and Wes.

Happy Reading,

Jodi Thomas 



 

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Guest Post by Ethel Rohan – plus my review

Welcome to Ethel Rohan, author of THE WEIGHT OF HIM. I asked Ethel to tell us about the inspiration for her first novel. Thank you, Ethel, for sharing with us!

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I’ve always claimed my stories are inspired by character. First, the who of the story comes to me—a person, or sometimes even an animal or object. Then location, where the story takes place. Next, I set about filling in other essential details like what happens, and when, and how, and most importantly why. Recently, though, I’ve realized it’s more precise to say that my stories are sparked by startling moments.

Like the time a young man who had his leg amputated said the phantom pain made the limb “seem more there than it ever was.” From that seed, I went on to write the title story of my first book, Cut Through the Bone. Surgery that uncovered a dog’s hair deep inside the meat of my cousin’s ankle ignited another story, as did a neighbor’s vignette about how beekeeping brought him and his teenage son closer together.

ethel-rohan-author-photo_credit-to-justin-yeeFor my first novel, The Weight of Him, the startling moment was a snatch of conversation I overheard in a pub in Ireland—the grief might just kill her before the weight does. I couldn’t get those words out of my mind. What if, I wondered, grief or weight don’t kill this stranger, but instead drive her to do something remarkable. As with my other stories, once I fix on the startling spark the main character appears almost instantly. Immediately, I had a vivid picture in my mind of an anguished Irish man: Big Billy Brennan.

Why do certain moments startle me into storytelling, and countless others don’t? I suppose the moments that inspire me are those that most appeal to my imagination, my hopes and dreams, my fear and anger. I think that’s true of all artists: We create from that which pulls at us. The Weight of Him was very much inspired by, and centers on, the things that lift me and the things that drag me down.


About the author:

Ethel Rohan is the author of two story collections, Goodnight Nobody and Cut Through the Bone, the former longlisted for The Edge Hill Prize and the latter longlisted for The Story Prize. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, World Literature Today, GUERNICA Magazine, Tin House Online,The Rumpus, and many more. Born and raised in Ireland, she lives in San Francisco.


St. Martin’s Press 2/14/2017
Pre-Order Now at AmazonIndiebound & Barnes & NobleThank you!
Website: www.ethelrohan.com

Twitter: @ethelrohan


Praise for THE WEIGHT OF HIM:

“Rohan [is] one of those rare, courageous writers who dare to take on the ‘ordinary’ and show just how extraordinary it really is.” —John Banville, Man Booker prize-winning author of The Sea

“Poignant and inspiring…When you’re finished, you’ll want to go for a long, grateful walk.” —Eowyn Ivey, author of The Snow Child

“Involving, terrifying and ultimately quite beautiful.” —Tom Barbash, author of Stay Up With Me


  • the-weight-of-himTitle:  The Weight of Him
  • Author:  Ethel Rohan
  • Pages:  336
  • Genre:  Fiction
  • Published:  February 2017 – St. Martin’s Press
  • Source:  Publisher

Description:  At four hundred pounds, Billy Brennan can always count on food. From his earliest memories, he has loved food’s colors, textures and tastes. The way flavors go off in his mouth. How food keeps his mind still and his bad feelings quiet. Food has always made everything better, until the day Billy’s beloved son Michael takes his own life.

Billy determines to make a difference in Michael’s memory and undertakes a public weight-loss campaign, to raise money for suicide prevention—his first step in an ambitious plan to save himself, and to save others. However, Billy’s dramatic crusade appalls his family, who want to simply try to go on.

Despite his crushing detractors, Billy gains welcome allies: his community-at-large; a co-worker who lost his father to suicide; a filmmaker with his own dubious agenda; and a secret, miniature kingdom that Billy populates with the sub-quality dolls and soldiers he rescues from disposal at the local toy factory where he works. But it is only if Billy can confront the truth of his pain, suffering, and the brokenness around him, that he and others will be able to realize the full rescue and change they need.

Set in rural, contemporary Ireland, Ethel Rohan’s The Weight of Him is an unforgettable, big-hearted novel about loss and reliance that moves from tragedy to recrimination to what can be achieved when we take the stand of our lives.  (publisher)

My take:  Billy Brennan is everyman. He may not feel that way though. For most of his life he’s hidden behind his weight hoping to avoid notice, to blend in. People just saw Big Billy – they didn’t look past his bulk. He grew up knowing he was a disappointment to the people who should have been most proud of him. He found acceptance and solace in food. Sure he found reasons to lose weight in the past but it always came back. After the suicide of his first-born son Billy needs to find a reason to go on. And he needs to find the reason his son took his own life.

I was impressed with how Ethel Rohan portrayed the grieving family. Each one moved through phases at their own pace and experienced guilt, blame, anger and utter sadness. Billy was easy to cheer on as his journey gathered steam. At the same time, his family’s reactions were completely understandable. They had no idea how Billy’s changes would impact their lives. I just wanted to hug them all and let them know things would eventually get better. The Weight of Him is a novel that ultimately left me feeling hopeful. It’s an emotional read and one I can recommend.


Guest Post by author Jodi Thomas plus my review of Wild Horse Springs by Jodi Thomas

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Today author Jodi Thomas is here with a guest post about her new book WILD HORSE SPRINGS:

Now and then when a writer is working on a series, one of the characters steps from the shadows and comes alive. This happens to me often, maybe too often.  My sons say they are afraid I’ll name one of my characters in the will. 🙂

But, Sheriff Dan Brigman started as a character in someone else’s story.  book 1, Ransom Canyon.  He was a good guy.  An honest man like most of the men I’ve met in law enforcement.  As the series continues he proved to be a good friend, a concerned father and a man the town of Crossroads could depend on.

Only, Dan never had anyone to love.  His wife had loved her career far more than him and their daughter.  Then, he was the sheriff in a small town.  How does the sheriff date?  The only women he met were usually speeding or bailing their husband out of jail.  He wouldn’t even let friends set him up with their unmarried relatives for fear of hurting their feelings when he didn’t ask for a second date.

Soooo, finally in WILD HORSE SPRINGS the sheriff’s chance comes.  One night, in the middle of a deserted highway, he finds a fancy ladies boot in the center of the road.  It has him wondering what kind of woman would own such a boot and his quest begins. When he finally finds her, she’s as beautiful and wild as he guessed she might be.

As the weeks passed, this story almost wrote itself.  Some nights I couldn’t wait to get back to it and see what happened to Brandi and her sheriff. Now, finally, WILD HORSE SPRINGS is about to hit the stands.  I’m excited to share it with readers.

Come along with me and see what happens when the sheriff finds the lady who fits the fancy boot. 

Jodi Thomas 


  • wild-horse-springsTitle:  Wild Horse Springs
  • Series:  Ransom Canyon #5
  • Pages:  384
  • Author: Jodi Thomas
  • Genre:  Contemporary Romance
  • Published:  January 2017 – HQN Books
  • Source:  Publisher; NetGalley

My take:  The Ransom Canyon series continues with Wild Horse Springs (book 5). In the small town of Crossroads, Texas (on the edge of Ransom Canyon) it’s finally time for steady Sheriff Dan Brigman to find some happiness (with the help of a lovely Country singer just passing through the area) – but the people in his life keep pressing the pause button. His daughter Lauren finds an excuse to come home from Dallas where her post-college life isn’t working out how she’d planned. When she gets back to Crossroads she’s met by the two men from her past who could help or hinder life going forward.

For a charming, small town like Crossroads there’s a dark undercurrent lately that most of the residents would be shocked to know about. The Sheriff has his hands full with a crime of arson to solve and a case of a child in peril that threatens to tear his heart out (as well as the reader’s).

Then there’s a Texas Ranger who goes for a nighttime ride that’s interrupted when his horse tosses him into the Canyon. Lucky for him a certain park Ranger finds him and calls for help. She takes control of his life from that moment (since he’s in the hospital and helpless) including making his ranch house a safe place for one of Crossroads’ favorite sons. There’s a lot going on in this novel.

Yes, there are a good deal of dramatic events in this story but also a lot of heartfelt and upbeat moments. Told in Thomas’s usual warm, folksy style, Wild Horse Springs is a strong addition to the series and I look forward to reading the next book.


About the author:

A fifth generation Texan, Jodi Thomas chooses to set the majority of her novels in her home state. With a degree in Family Studies, Thomas is a marriage and family counselor by education, a background that enables her to write about family dynamics. Honored in 2002 as a Distinguished Alumni by Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Thomas enjoys interacting with students on the West Texas A & M University campus, where she currently serves as Writer In Residence.

Commenting on her contribution to the arts, Thomas said, “When I was teaching classes full time, I thought I was making the world a better place. Now I think of a teacher, or nurse, or mother settling back and relaxing with one of my books. I want to take her away on an adventure that will entertain her. Maybe, in a small way, I’m still making the world a better place.”

When not working on a novel or inspiring students to pursue a writing career, Thomas enjoys traveling with her husband, Tom, renovating a historic home they bought in Amarillo, and “checking up” on their two grown sons.

For more information, check out Jodi Thomas’s website.

Sunrise Crossing by Jodi Thomas: Author Guest Post and My Review

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Guest post by Jodi Thomas:

I believe in love, the kind that lasts a lifetime.  My grandfather met my grandmother at a barn raising.  She was fifteen and he was seventeen.  They wrote letters back and forth for a year, then the next spring he drove a buckboard back to her place and married her that day.  They were married 64 years and their children say they never saw them argue.  It may not always work out that way in real life, but I like to think it should in fiction.

One of my main characters in SUNRISE CROSSING is Clint Montgomery, a widower who sold the house he built for his wife a month after she died to a woman passing through.  Parker Lacy always meant to return, but she runs a very successful art gallery and never has the time until a friend of hers needs a hideout.  Parker is totally unaware that Clint has spent ten years watching over her place.  To the world Clint seems to be only a hard, cold, rancher, but to Parker he’s the one man she can trust. They are as different as they can be, but find love even though both swear they are not looking for it.

For those of you who love a good love story, SUNRISE CROSSING  is the book for you.   Maybe because I believe in love and I love reading happy endings, but this book was so fun to write.

So, saddle up and ride with me through SUNRISE CROSSING.

Jodi Thomas

http://www.jodithomas.com/

www.facebook.com/jodithomasauthor

www.twitter.com/jodithomas/


I hope you’ll take a few moments to watch this video to see where Jodi Thomas found her inspiration for the Ransom Canyon series.


  • sunrise crossing (9:1)Title:  Sunrise Crossing
  • Series:  Ransom Canyon #4
  • Author:  Jodi Thomas
  • Pages:  384
  • Genre:  Contemporary Romance
  • Published:  August 2016 – HQN Books
  • Source:  Publisher; NetGalley

Description:  Return to peaceful Crossroads, Texas, where community comes first and love thrives in the unlikeliest places… 

Yancy Grey is slowly putting his life back together after serving time for petty theft. As he rebuilds an old house, he finally has a sense of stability, but he can’t stop thinking of himself as just an ex-con. Until one night, he finds a mysterious dark-haired beauty hiding in his loft. But who is she, and what secret is she protecting? 

The art gallery Parker Lacey manages is her life—she has no time for friends, and certainly not lovers. But when her star artist begs Parker for help, she finds herself in a pickup truck, headed for the sleepy town of Crossroads. A truck driven by a strong, silent cowboy… 

Gabe Snow has been a drifter since he left Crossroads at seventeen after a violent incident. When he accepts a job in his hometown, he’ll have to decide whether he can put the worst night of his life behind him and build a future in the community that raised him.  (publisher)

My take:  Sunrise Crossing is another good Ransom Canyon book that has Jodi Thomas’ usual mix of romance, drama and humor. In this story we have characters who have every reason to give up on life but through circumstances and connections made in Crossroads the case for not giving up begins to gather strength for all of them.

Tori can’t survive another minute under the thumb of her mother and step-father. She’s a talented artist who has a total meltdown in front of a gallery owner who becomes her guardian angel. Parker, the gallery owner, has lived under a cloud most of her life knowing she probably wouldn’t live much past the age of forty – like the rest of her family. Before succumbing she’d like to help Tori find a safe place to live and even thrive. The person to help them is a man she’s only met once but he’s their only hope. We also get to know Yancy a little better. He’s made an appearance in each book of the series and it’s been fun to see him develop into a more confident  person. There are a few more storylines that I hope will continue in future books.

I enjoyed Sunrise Crossing and all the supporting characters Jodi Thomas introduced. It’s one of the things I like about her books – the characters who seem so familiar to anyone who has lived in a small town. As usual, I can’t wait to see what happens next in Crossroads, Texas.

Guest Post by Shannon Kopp, author of Pound for Pound

An Exercise in Compassion:
When My Dog Walks Me Back to the Moment
By Shannon Kopp,
Author of Pound for Pound: A Story of One Woman’s Recovery and the Shelter Dogs Who Loved Her Back to Life

pound for pound by Shannon Kopp

During the rare mornings I don’t press snooze on my alarm four times, I wake up, grab a cup of coffee, and go for a walk with my dog. In the beginning, I told myself I was doing this for her. I work long days at an eating disorder treatment center, and unlike when I worked at the San Diego Humane Society, I can’t bring Bella with me. She’s a five-year-old, poodle/terrier mix, and frisky to the core. I tell myself that I walk her to get some of her energy out in the morning, but the truth is, these walks are more for me.

During the eight years I was bulimic, throughout high school and college and into my early twenties, I never walked. I only ran. Most of my friends ran for healthy reasons — they ran to feel their own strength, to relieve stress and take care of themselves, to push themselves farther than they ever thought they could go. But I ran for one purpose only: to burn calories. I didn’t really enjoy the angry music blasting in my headphones, but that didn’t matter. The point was to run harder.

Walks with Bella are the exact opposite of this. We stop every few feet because she catches the scent of something she wants to savor. I never listen to music, just the sound of her panting and my breathing and the morning wind. I often don’t know where we are walking to — I let her guide me. She listens to her body, and when her little legs start to get tired, she turns around and we head back home.

I’m still learning how to listen to my body. I have much more experience hating and judging it, rather than fully inhabiting it. But the good news is this: it’s only seven a.m., and I’ve already felt the earth beneath my feet, air moving in and out of my lungs, a heartbeat pulsing in my chest. I’ve watched the sky turn from dark to light. I’ve reached down and touched my dog’s soft coat, and stared into her shining eyes.

I’ve kissed my dog. I’ve thought about the girl who couldn’t run hard or far enough. And I’ve kissed her, too.

5 Lessons on Life Learned from Morning Walks with my Dog:

  1. Chart Your Own Course
  2. Live in the Moment
  3. Allow Yourself to Pause and Enjoy
  4. Listen to Your Body, Not Just Your Mind
  5. Learn to Experience Life

© 2016 Shannon Kopp, author of Pound for Pound 


Shannon Kopp, author of Pound for Pound, is a writer, eating disorder survivor, and animal welfare advocate. She has worked and volunteered at various animal shelters throughout San Diego and Los Angeles, where shelter dogs helped her to discover a healthier, more joyful way of living. Her mission is to help every shelter dog find a loving home, and to raise awareness about eating disorders and animal welfare issues.

For more information visit her website www.shannonkopp.com and follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

4 Books to Take on Vacation – a Guest Post by Laura McNeill

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4 Books to Take on Vacation

Laura McNeill

There’s nothing like diving into a new book by the ocean shore or atop a gorgeous mountain with the sunshine on your shoulders. Whether you’re vacationing on a cruise or just stealing a few hours in your own backyard, here are four books that are tried and true books light and fun enough for a getaway, but substantive enough to keep your attention.

bookfan mary 4 books to take on vacation image

1. Under the Tuscan Sun – Frances Mayes. Who doesn’t love this classic story? When literature professor Frances Mayes discovers her husband’s infidelity, she takes off for a tour of Tuscany, Italy to escape the pain. On impulse, Mayes buys a crumbling old villa and attempts to restore it to its glory. What she learns along the way helps heal her wounded heart.

2. On the Island – Tracey Garvis Graves. This novel really stole my heart. The book centers on Anna Emerson, a thirty‐year‐old English teacher who takes a job tutoring sixteen‐year‐old cancer survivor T.J. at the family’s summer home in South Asia. When their small plane crashes over the Maldives islands in the Indian Ocean, Ana and T.J. are left to fend for themselves. The pair faces danger, starvation, storms, and obstacles, falling in love along the way.

3. Flat Out Love – Jessica Park. I adored this quirky book about college student Julie Seagle who goes to live with a family friend of her mother’s in Boston. In a matter of months, Julie begins to love the Watkins family, including the reclusive youngest daughter, the brilliant brother, and the sibling who she’s never quite met … in person. Park is witty and wonderful in this fantastic novel.

4. The Castaways – Elin Hilderbrand. You’re sure to love Hilderbrand’s breezy Nantucket settings and island live. This story centers on four couples who count each other as best friends, and the fateful trip one husband and wife takes one summer afternoon. What’s revealed to each of the friends in the aftermath rocks the small coastal community. All of Hilderbrand’s novels are perfect for a summer vacation or a long afternoon spent in a hammock with sweet tea.

Be sure to check out some of my other favorite vacation‐authors including Anita Hughes, Joshilyn Jackson, Jane Green, Dorothea Benton Frank, Liz Fenton & Lisa Steinke, Karma Brown, Amy Hatvany, Emily Liebert, and Mary Kay Andrews.

Do you have any favorite vacation books? I’d love to hear about them!

Bookfan Mary 4 books on vacation blurb

Bio:
Laura McNeill is the author to Center of Gravity (July 2015) and Sister Dear (April 19, 2016). When Laura is not writing or reading, she makes time to run, share pictures to Instagram, and adores the color pink!

Find Laura McNeill on social media:  Facebook  Twitter  Goodreads

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Guest Post by Jodi Thomas, author of Rustler’s Moon

Today I welcome author Jodi Thomas to Bookfan. Her newest book in the Ransom Canyon series published last week. Click here to read my review.

Rustler's Moon (1:26:16)

The setting for RUSTLER’S MOON is a ranch called the Devil’s Fork and a museum set on the edge of Ransom Canyon.  Since I grew up going to the Panhandle Plains Museum in Canyon, Texas, it was easy to build a museum in my mind.

I had one character, Carter, who really brought my museum and the canyon alive in my story.  In this second book of the RANSOM CANYON Series called RUSTLER’S MOON I wanted to add a mystery whispering through my story.

Carter’s long retired and comes to Crossroads, Texas, every summer to walk the canyon and search for a childhood memory.  One rainy night when Carter was five, he and his father found a cave that had drawings of stickmen on the walls.  Carter believes that if he’d fallen asleep they would have killed him.  The stickmen haunt him through Vietnam and in his nightmares for years.  He thinks he has to find them before he dies.

Angela Harold is running for her life after her father is killed.  She has no family she can trust and no close friends she wants involved.  Applying for a job as a curator for a small museum in Crossroads, Texas seems her only way out.  It was great fun bringing someone to Texas for the first time.  Angela is surprised how fast the whole community takes her in as one of their own. I loved the way this story wound around Angela’s mystery and the surprises Carter finds not only in the canyon, but within himself.

I love writing about the people in this place and Texas is my home.  I like watching how peoples’ lives bump into others and change their courses ever so slightly.

Come along with me to the adventure in RUSTLER’S MOON.  You might just fall in love again for the first time.

Jodi Thomas


About RUSTLER’S MOON:

On a dirt road marked by haunting secrets, three strangers caught at life’s crossroads must decide what to sacrifice to protect their own agendas…and what they’re each willing to risk for love.

If there’s any place that can convince Angela Harrell to stop running, it’s Ransom Canyon. And if there’s any man who can reveal desires more deeply hidden than her every fear, it’s Wilkes Wagner. Beneath the rancher’s honorable exterior is something that just might keep her safe…or unwittingly put her in danger’s path.

With his dreams of leaving this small Texas town swallowed up by hard, dusty reality, all Wilkes has to show for his life is the Devil’s Fork Ranch. Though not one to let false hope seduce him, he can’t deny the quiet and cautious beauty who slips into his world and changes everything.

Lauren Brigman finally has freedom at her fingertips. All she needs is Lucas Reyes’s attention—a look, a touch, some sign that she’s more to him than a girl he rescued one dangerous night. But now it’s her turn to rescue someone, and the life-altering decision may cost her more than a chance with Lucas.

RUSTLER’S MOON by JODI THOMAS $7.99 U.S./$8.99 CAN. ISBN­13 9780373788620

“Compelling and beautifully written, it is exactly the kind of heart­wrenching, emotional story one has come to expect from Jodi Thomas.” —Debbie Macomber, #1 New York Times bestselling author