Today we are kicking off the Small-town Romance Guest Author series with Jenny Andersen. I recently read Jenny’s Calendar Girl, Book I of her Western Heroes series and loved it. A crazy cast of characters, great desert setting, a nice dose of mystery and, of course, the romance. What more could you want?
But, before I forget –
Each week of the series I’ll be picking a name from the comments for our weekly giveaway. This week, a free eBook copy of Stalking Bel, one of Jenny’s Western Heroes books. Check out the short excerpt at the end of this post, then leave Jenny a comment to enter.
Winner will be announced next Monday when Lee McKenzie will be my guest on the Small-town Authors series.
So Jenny, What can you tell us about your latest book in the Western Heroes series?
Well, this one’s a no-brainer, Judy. My mind is always so full of the latest book! It’s a reissue, but since it involved a fair amount of rewriting and rethinking, it’s still on my mind, competing with the new book I’m supposed to be writing. ☺ Also, I stepped back to write my usual short story prequel to the book. [The short stories are a perk I send to the people on my mailing list.] In the case of Reckless Promise, the setting is a dude ranch in Montana. Its name is The Montana Blue, which is kind of a strange name for a ranch, so I had to explain it. [Since I’m a gemologist when I’m not writing, the answer is…sapphires.]
Sapphires! I’m already intrigued. But what attracted you to the small-town romance genre?
Does anyone need to explain the attraction of the romance genre? I didn’t think so. As for the small town part, it’s a direct result of my very schizophrenic upbringing. I spent half of each year in a large city, being as urban and sophisticated as a small child can be. The other months were pure liberation, spent on a farm in an area that can only be considered hillbilly. Horses, dogs, cats, chickens, other kids…a creek to play in, wild persimmons in the woods… I loved it! And the nearest town had a population of about 400. So of course I wanted to write about rural places and small towns. Of course there were also chores, yellow jacket nests to step on, and rattlesnakes, but hey, conflict is necessary, right?
Right! How would you describe your writing process?
Chaos. That’s the short answer. I yearn to be one of the truly dedicated and disciplined who sit down at the keyboard at—what, 9:02 and 30 seconds?—every day. And turn out at least 10 pages of deathless prose in that time. The wretched truth is that while I do write [almost] every day, it happens whenever that day allows it to happen. And as for deathless prose…no. Fortunately, I like to revise. And I’m really lucky when I can write scenes that follow each other in order, a la the incomparable Susan Elizabeth Phillips. Some writers are plotters [Suzanne Brockmann], some are fly-into-the-mist pantsers [SEP]. Corrina Lawson described my natural writing style as patchwork quilt. And it’s fine, but stitching the disparate pieces together to make a coherent story is a lotta work.
What sets your town apart?
This series is made up of stand-alone books with different settings but cross-over characters.
Are you self-publishing?
I’m a hybrid. I like the idea of a foot in each camp since the publishing industry is so crazy.
Can we look for more books in the series?
You bet. Glitter and Gold is coming up next. A successful and ultra-urban jewelry designer inherits a Victorian house in a small town. She also inherits three crazy old miners, a drydocked Navy Seal, and a lost gold mine. Along with someone who’s ready to kill to get it.
Sounds like another winner. Now for the serious question – Coffee or tea? Wine, whiskey, or beer?
Sigh. I’m a wine girl at heart, but my doctor interfered, so it’s pretty much coffee or water.
Thanks for starting us off Jenny.
Keep reading for an except from Stalking Bel, Book II in the Western Heroes series.
She was gone.
She had run, but it wouldn’t do her any good. He’d find her.
Too bad she hadn’t died when he’d torched her house. Watching it burn had felt good. No. Not just good. Stupendous. Like being God. Everything flaming, roaring, melting, just the way he’d planned for her. Except she hadn’t died.
Maybe it was better this way. Now he could make sure she’d really suffer. And suffer and suffer some more, until she begged to die. He had destroyed her house and all her belongings, made her homeless. Next, he’d destroy her career, her precious writing, see to it she lost her fame, her success, everything she’d gotten so unfairly. Then…he’d end her life.
He imagined her trapped, shrieking in agony, flames laying waste to her just like they’d done to her house. She’d die. Eventually.
The stalker lifted a glass with one trembling hand and let the rich scent of red wine blend with his anger. The burning had been good, an inferno leaping toward the sky, turning her life to ashes. But not enough. Not nearly enough. Now, he had plans to remedy that.
* * *
She’d never seen a real palm tree before. Palm trees didn’t grow well in Manhattan. Elegant restaurants, chic stores, sophisticated people…yes. Palm trees, no.
And smart people took taxis. Bel Baxter, aka Belinda Beverly, elegant, sophisticated writer of best-selling historical romances, gritted her teeth and jerked the steering wheel to turn into the driveway of a borrowed hacienda in a decidedly not elegant, not sophisticated seaside town in California.
The snappy little BMW that had been waiting for her at the airport whipped past the gate post and embedded its nose in a bush.
“It’s your own fault,” she told the car after she stopped screaming. “No one drives in Manhattan. I’m out of practice.”
New York. She brushed a straggling curl out of her face, smearing a lone tear away, and told herself to suck it up. California lay a continent away from the fruitcake trying to kill her. California equaled safety.
This driving thing, though. Not so safe. She kept a car in the city and had a valid driver’s license, but only drove once a year when she went to the Hamptons. She’d gotten just a tad rusty.
The driver she thought she’d hired had rushed off to his wife’s bedside to hold her hand while she had a baby. Even after years on the NYT list, Bel didn’t have enough diva genes to object to that. Anyway, she’d been sure the dealership could supply another driver. But no. “It’s like riding a bicycle, it’ll come back to you in no time,” the manager said on the phone.
After she backed out of the rosebush, she parked next to the wide, shady veranda, climbed out onto the gravel driveway, and inspected her new home. White stucco walls and red tile roof, broad-leafed tropical plants…she might as well have landed on an alien planet. No high rises, no doormen, no bustling crowds. The whole neighborhood, the whole town, looked like something out of a surfer-dude movie. And until her stalker was caught, she lived here.
All because of one nutcase.
Be sure to leave a comment to qualify for this week’s giveaway and check back next Monday to meet Lee McKenzie and see the winner of this week’s contest.
Until next time,