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Tidings of Joy

Have you read Tidings of Joy yet? I think it might be one of the favorite contemporary stories I’ve written. I just loved Pete the donkey and little Bacon (an adorable puppy) as well a Joy and Drew.

And I may be partially biased when it comes to Drew’s character because so much of it was based of my beloved Captain Cavedweller.

So, when I was looking for visual inspiration of the story, I needed a “face” for Drew that really fit the image I already had in my head.

Brock Harris 5

Brock Harris just happened to come really close to how I picture Drew.

Brock Harris 1

From those blue eyes and those lips to the rugged, silent-type vibe, he made such a good Drew.

Brock Harris 4

And those of you who have read the book, you’ll know what scene this image is tied to! (And you’re welcome!)

So who would make a wonderful Joy. She needed to have a warm, friendly personality. She needed to be someone who looked, well… joyful!

Joy 3.jpg

And that’s why I chose Lucy Hale. I could so easily picture her as Joy.

Joy 1

She’s just lovely and looks so sweet – exactly the girl Drew needs to draw him out of his shell.

Pete

And this fella is exactly how I picture Pete peeking around the fence, watching Drew deliver the mail.

Oh, and I have to share the song I listened to as I wrote this. It’s “Glow” by Brett Eldredge. I just pictured it as the song Drew would connect to Joy.

If you haven’t started reading this fun book yet, get your copy today!

And check out my Pinterest Board for more details about The Friendly Beasts of Faraday!

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The Petticoats & Pistols authors have joined together to offer a week full of cowboys, Christmas romances, and giveaways over on their blog.

P& P post

To get in on the fun, just stop by each day this week and enter the giveaways!

Petticoats and Pistols: http://petticoatsandpistols.com/2018/11/26/cowboys-mistletoe-day-1/

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It’s release day for Tidings of Joy, the second book in The Friendly Beasts of Faraday series. And this one is a little extra special because the hero is based on my very own Captain Cavedweller! Enjoy!

Tidings of Joy

Tidings of Joy

The Friendly Beasts of Faraday Book 2

Tidings of Joy (2)

Will a donkey, an adorable puppy, and a big-hearted man

Prove tidings of Joy last beyond the holiday season?

Quiet and unassuming, Drew Miller is more than just a mail carrier in the small town of Faraday. A typical day on his route includes fetching cats out of trees, changing flat tires, and good-naturedly enduring the pranks of the octogenarian crowd. Unexpectedly, he rescues a lovely young woman in distress. Drew’s convinced she’d never make the tiny community her permanent home, but he’s determined to give her a reason to stay.

Among the brightest, happiest memories from Joy Cooke’s childhood are the days she spent with her grandparents in Faraday. When she inherits their home with a stipulation requiring her to live there for six months, she eagerly moves to the mountain town. Then a freak snow storm leaves her at the mercy of the mail carrier, a handsome man she’s spent weeks watching out her office window. Through his steadfast care, she learns the true meaning of giving and selfless love.

Can she overcome his reserved, shy manner and claim his heart?

With the help of a donkey named Pete and a puppy named Bacon, anything is possible in this sweet Christmas romance filled with laughter and heartwarming love.

Available on Amazon

Tidings of Joy 2

Excerpt:

Predominately brown, the dog looked like a chocolate lab had eagerly greeted a sweet-talking interloper that snuck under the fence. “What is he?” he asked, unable to hide a smile as the pup licked his fingers and pushed against his hand, wanting more attention.

“A mutt, mostly.” Miss Cooke set the mail on a wicker table by the door and scooped up the puppy, kissing his little pink nose. “His mother is a registered chocolate lab but his father, the wily rascal, was a shepherd and husky mix with who knows what else thrown in.”

Drew stood and rubbed the puppy beneath his chin, admiring his white that contrasted against the chocolate brown color of his chest. “He’s a sturdy little fellow.” His glance roved from the dog up to his owner. “Did you really name him Bacon?”

She laughed again and Drew fought the urge to lean forward and press his lips to her very kissable mouth. From a distance, Miss Cooke had appeared pretty in a generic way. Up close, however, she was captivating, stunning, and made his mouth so dry he could barely swallow. Shiny black hair fell in a sleek bob to her shoulders. Eyes the color of sweet molasses twinkled behind thick, dark lashes. A pert nose and flawless skin made him jealous of the guy named Pete.

“I can’t be blamed for the name. He had it when I adopted him. The couple that owned his mother didn’t want the puppies so they ended up at a shelter. He was the last one of the group to find a home.” She kissed the puppy on top of his head. “So now Bacon lives here and keeps us on our toes.”

“It was nice of you and your husband to take him in.” Drew continued scratching the dog beneath his chin. “Bacon seems very intelligent. He’ll be a big dog, but a smart one.”

“I agree. And it’s just me, no husband,” she said, giving him an odd look. “You’re Drew, right?”

He nodded his head then held out his hand. “Drew Miller. It’s nice to meet you in person, Miss Cooke.”

“You, too. I somehow always miss you when you drop off the mail, although Bacon and Pete usually let me know you’re here.” Miss Cooke shivered as she stood in her sock-covered feet on the porch. The wind had picked up and carried a cold bite to it.

Drew battled the desire to wrap his arms around her to ward off the chill. Unsettled by the direction of his thoughts, he moved back, away from temptation. “Pete? Do you have another dog?”

Miss Cooke took a step forward and pointed to the end of the porch where the front yard fence stretched across the lawn, blocking off the back yard. For the first time, Drew noticed a furry face with long ears peering around the corner over the fence. Apparently the stalker who gave him the creeps on more than one occasion wasn’t a human or even a dog.

“Pete is a donkey?”

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Scent of Cedar 1

Honestly, I had such a good time writing four sweet romances in The Friendly Beasts of Faraday.

Of course, a real-life camel was the first inspiration, but I needed humans, too!

For Scent of Cedar, I knew I wanted the hero to have a bad boy vibe, even though he’s a really sweet guy.

Zachary Abel 1

The minute I happened upon this image of Zachary Abel, I knew I’d found Rhett Riggs, resident bad boy of Faraday.  Well, at least that’s what I decided after I wiped the drool off my keyboard.

That hair, that chin, that smolder… swoon-worthy, I tell you.

zach 3

But at the end of the day, Rhett is a good guy who is pretty selfless.

The Mechanic

Did I mention swooning, though? This particular image inspired a scene in his garage with Cedar and her sister.

So who would be the perfect Cedar Haynes? It needed to be someone beautiful. Someone sophisticated. Someone I could imagine as a woman freaking out over a camel, then learning to love Lolly and her owner.

brooke-d-orsay 2

Brooke D’Orsay seemed perfect for Cedar.

She filled all the requirements I was looking for.

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I could easily see her giving Rhett this look.

Brooke 4

And Lolly this one!

Speaking of Lolly, before my illustrator finished the cover, I relied on this image for my inspiration.

Lolly

Isn’t this perfect for our fun-loving, scheming, matchmaking camel?

Check out all the visuals from Pinterest that inspired me here: Friendly Beasts

Oh, and you should listen to Garth Brooks’ version of The Friendly Beasts while you do because that’s the song I listened to while I wrote this story.

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Racing Christmas meme long

Would you like to see the images that inspired the characters in Racing Christmas?

Let’s start with the photo that inspired the cover. I was looking through one of the resources where I purchases images to use. I don’t know what or why… but this one just grabbed my attention and I knew I wanted elements of it on the cover of Racing Christmas.

z original photo dp.jpg

But the guy was all wrong for fun-loving, silver-tongued Shaun Price, and the girl didn’t really work for Brylee either.

The pose, however, I loved.

So I started looking for images that would fit Brylee and Shaun’s characters.

Smiling Young Man Standing With Arms Crossed

Then I happened to find this handsome cutie among the images I could purchase. (And yes, you can see a bit of his face on the cover of Blown Into Romance. I’ve decided he and Blayne Grundy are distant cousins.)

Thoughtful Student Looking Away In Front Of Chalkboard

Can’t you just picture him wondering what’s going on in Brylee’s head?

Shaun 5

Did I mention he was just perfect for Shakin’ It Shaun? Well, I think he is!

That leaves us with Brylee.

Emily Tennant

Emily Tennant was my inspiration for Brylee’s character. Those big blue eyes, blonde hair, and that slightly wounded look among the sweetness was exactly how I pictured Brylee.

Business people at work

And when I found this image to purchase, I knew she’d be wonderful on the cover as Brylee.

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For Brylee’s brother, Birch, I chose Peyton Meyer.

joan-allen

And I thought Joan Allen made a great character inspiration for Brylee’s mother.

clooney_7682

And I can’t forget Shaun’s dad, Jason. George Clooney is exactly how I envision the big-hearted cowboy.

You can find more visual inspiration on my Pinterest board, too.

And while you look at the photos, listen to Dustin Lynch (with Karen Fairchild) sing Love me or Leave me Alone. I consider this Brylee and Shaun’s song.

 

 

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Scent of Cedar 1

Scent of Cedar

The Friendly Beasts of Faraday Book 1

Scent of Cedar (2)

She needed a change of pace. . .

No one said anything about a friendly camel or a hunky mechanic

Cedar Haynes has a choice: change her high-pressure lifestyle, or end up dead by the time she’s thirty. Not one to do things by half measures, she quits her demanding corporate job, swaps her sports car for an SUV, and moves to the peaceful mountain community of Faraday. She envisions a quiet, peaceful Christmas, surrounding by silence and sparkling snow. When a camel takes up residence on her porch, she realizes small-town life may be more quirky and complicated than she imagined. Thankfully, the local mechanic seems to have all the answers – plus good looks, bad-boy charm, and a mysterious aura that leaves her wanting to know more.

Rhett Riggs left big city life behind the moment his small-town uncle needed his help. To make ends meet, he takes over Faraday’s one and only garage and gas station. He gets more than he bargained for, though, when Uncle Will passes away, leaving Rhett a run-down farmhouse, a wacky camel named Lolly, and a deep-rooted love for the community he considers his home. With the holidays approaching, he watches with interest as a new neighbor moves in next door. He waits for Lolly to send the woman running, like she has the last handful of residents. Only this time, if his beautiful neighbor leaves, she’ll take his heart with her.

Between spilled secrets, mistaken identities, and a camel determined to spread a little love, it will take more than mistletoe and holiday magic to help Rhett and Cedar find their happy ending.

Come along on a sweet Christmas romance adventure sure to uplift the spirit, touch the heart, and imbue the warmth of the holiday season.

Available on Amazon

 Scent of Cedar 2

Excerpt:

“I’m not losing my mind, I’m not losing it,” she chanted. Hesitantly, she opened her eyes and found herself staring once again into a hairy, hideous face.

She screamed louder this time as she raced to find the cell phone she’d tossed on the kitchen counter last night. Her fingers trembled as she punched in 9-1-1 and waited for an operator. Surely they had some sort of emergency response program in this tiny town, didn’t they?

Cedar slammed the kitchen window closed then frantically paced the floor, one hand flapping back and forth as though that might make someone answer faster. Finally, a voice came on the line.

“Operator 2377. What is your emergency?”

“Oh, thank goodness. My name is Cedar Haynes. I just moved to town, and there’s some kind of wild animal trying to get inside my house!”

“Wild animal, ma’am?” an unruffled voice questioned.

“Yes! A wild animal!” Cedar cautiously peered out the kitchen window. She caught sight of a furry backend stepping off the porch and disappearing around the corner. “It’s kind of brownish-tan, furry, big, and it smells weird.”

“What’s your address, ma’am?”

Cedar rattled off her street address, surprised she could remember it in her distraught state.

What sounded like a chuckle made her pull the phone away from her head and glare at it a moment before she scowled and returned it to her ear. “Hello?”

“Sorry, ma’am, but if you look out your kitchen window, can you see a big pasture and a red barn?”

Stunned by the fact the operator described the exact view she had from her kitchen, Cedar almost demanded to know how in the world the operator knew her home so well. Then again, she had moved to a small town where secrets were rare and everyone knew everyone else’s business. “Yes, I see the pasture and barn.”

The operator laughed. “That’s the old Bolton place. Will Bolton is known around here as an eccentric in everything from his house to his pets. You’ve just met Lolly, a unique welcoming party of one. She’s harmless, if not a bit frightening first thing in the morning.”

Cedar frowned. “Lolly? What’s a lolly?”

“A camel.”

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Sometimes the most amazing, wonderful experiences come your way when you least expect them.

Back in September, Captain Cavedweller and I were in Pendleton for the Pendleton Round-Up. He decided to make one more pass through the hundreds of vendor booths so I claimed a spot on the bench surrounding the big bronze statue right outside the Round-Up grounds and checked my emails.

One in particular jumped out at me. It was from Debbie Macomber’s executive assistant (as in the Debbie Macomber, #1 New York Times Bestselling author who has more than 200 million copies of her books in print) asking if I was going to be attending the American Christian Fiction Writer’s conference.  If so, Debbie extended an invitation to join her for coffee or lunch.

I almost dropped my phone.

Hands shaking with excitement, I looked up the conference details and quickly checked to see if I could still register to attend, since until that moment had not planned at all to attend.  Even if registration was closed, I figured I could catch a flight to Nashville the following week and still meet Debbie.

Since I live less than six hours away from Debbie, though, I replied that I would happily book a flight to Nashville if I could get one, but if Debbie was open to the idea, I could also drive to her hometown and meet her there at her convenience.

Thankfully, an appointment was set up to have lunch with her in Port Orchard. Even better, the scheduled date to meet her fell at a time when Captain Cavedweller had the time off and could go with me.

With jangled nerves, I went to her office and met her incredible staff (that includes her beautiful daughter, Adele, who is the CEO of Debbie Macomber, Inc.) .

They were all so friendly, welcoming, and gracious.

Then I met Debbie.

Debbie Macomber and me.jpg

(Please ignore the fact I look like a drugged whackadoodle! We all know how much I enjoy having my photo taken – but this was Debbie! I had to have a photo!)

She’s even more fantastic in person than I imagined she’d be.

Debbie is absolutely lovely. And so kind. And warm and generous and sweet. Perfectly wonderful.

Adele and Ashley, the brand’s marketing manager, (and both are just fabulous women) joined us and we had a delicious lunch where they answered any question I asked and shared a wealth of helpful information.

My heart was filled to overflowing with the joy and graciousness and willingness to lift others up that I experienced with these amazing individuals.

I’m so, so glad I brashly asked if I could meet Debbie in Port Orchard (the inspiration for her Cedar Cove series) and so grateful Debbie and her staff made it happen.  Not only is Port Orchard a delightful town, it will forever be etched in my memory as the place I met Debbie Macomber.

 

 

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