Saturday, July 16, 2011

Wild Hog Explosion

This month the second book in my Rodeo Rebels series for Harlequin American Romance hits store shelves. The Bull Rider's Secret takes place in Bandera, Texas. Known in the Hill Country as The Cowboy Capitol of the World, Bandera is a unique town with lots of western flavor and a tradition of welcoming the Biker community. I love adding a bit of reality to my stories and that's exactly what I did in The Bull Rider's Secret when my hero Brody enters the Wild Hog Explosion contest at Mansfield Park in Bandera, Texas.

This real life event features a wild hog catch. Teams of two enter a ring to try and catch a Texas wild hog and stuff it into a burlap sack. I haven't had the fortune to attend this event in person but one day I hope to return to Bandera to watch these crazy hog-catching people!

I found this description for the town on the web and I can attest to it being 100% TRUE—right down to the cold beers served in the local saloons!

In a rugged county filled with hills, rivers, and a sprawling lake, the small town of Bandera holds a really big place in the hearts of Texans. Located in the beloved Texas Hill Country less than an hour from San Antonio, Bandera reminds us of a different, more authentic, era, when a handshake was all the contract you needed, self-reliance was the norm, and chivalry was a given. There is a spirit of independence and individualism here that speaks of the cowboy tradition of hard work and hard play. Bandera embodies the cowboy in its strong rodeo tradition. Even today you'll often see horses tied to downtown hitching posts. At local honky-tonks, the music is lively, the dance floor is full, and the beverages are cold.

And the former Bandera County Jail

You can read an excerpt for The Bull Rider's Secret HERE!

Happy Trails!
Buy a Marin Thomas Book!

Friday, July 15, 2011

The Magic of Music

I have a new friend on Facebook from my high school days. He’s become my own personal DJ. Every evening he posts link after link to songs from our past. What he’s reminded me of is my eclectic taste in music. I love so many kinds. New Flash: I can’t carry a tune. If I were to sing in the shower, the glass walls would shatter, and not in a good way. The first time I went to church with my husband when we’d just started dating, he leaned over and whispered asking if I could lip sync. Grrr.

You couldn’t pay me enough to get up and sing in a karaoke bar, but I LOVE to listen to music.

Music changes my mood. If I’m having a down day, I start with music that fits my mood and gradually gravitate toward songs that are more upbeat. Almost always works to turn my mood around.

When I’m writing, I choose a couple songs that speak to my characters. At times a particularly well crafted lyric will even inspire a character of its own. Depending on the scene I’m working on, there are certain songs that fit, that help me stay in the mood of the scene.

When I was growing up, my dad always had music playing. He loved to dance and had a wonderful collection of the big band music from the WWII era. I know the lyrics to all the 50’s tunes. Classic rock, country. My oldest son is the same way. From time to time he and I will be on YouTube and we IM each other links to songs. He swears that he can’t clean house unless music is playing. The funny thing is that thanks to me, he cleans best to Neil Diamond or Barbara Streisand. Drives his wife nuts. But she gets help cleaning. Ha!

What kind of music do you enjoy?

Thursday, July 14, 2011

My Top 10 Petty (and not so petty) Annoyances!!

I miss winter!!

It hasn't just been one of those days, but one of those weeks.  In that spirit, rather than bore you with details of how every single day has been chock full of ick, I figured why not compose a list of general annoyances and see how many of them bug you, too!!

10. Stomachaches

My stomach has hurt for a solid month!!!  I've tried every kind of antacid and potion, but nothing helps.  My mom keeps telling me to go to the doctor, but I know it's stress.  I'm worried about so much I'd need a Top 20 to even partially cover the angst in my life--and we lead a fairly calm life.  My heart goes out to any of you who have really horrible stresses!! 

9.  Magazines that Look Great in the Check-Out Lane, but Don't Really Say Anything

Petty, but annoying.  I LOVE all of Bravo's Housewives series, so when I saw a copy of In Touch with New Jersey housewife, Teresa, opening up about her husband going to prison for ten years, I was on auto-grab!!!  I HAD to know what was going on!!!  Alas, nothing was going on other than a possible lawsuit that hadn't yet happened and probably won't.  Don't get me wrong, I'm happy she won't be without Joe for ten years, but I'm now without $2.99, because In Touch got a little too aggressive with their cover story. 

Another magazine gripe while I'm on a roll--the diets promising to lose ten pounds in a week!!!  LIES!!!!  (But I'm a dufous and fall for it every, stinkin' time!!)

8.  Cleaning the Bathrooms

We have three of these beasties in our house.  The master, the guest and the kids', which I haven't set foot in for three years!!!  Honestly, it's only been a couple weeks, but even that's too much!!  I trust the kids are tidy down there, but who really knows?  I try so hard to keep the rest nice, but why can't someone invent a cleaner that does everything?  I'm tired of needing separate cleaners for the toilet, shower, marble counters, laminate counters and mirrors.  I'm also tired of toothpaste spots on said mirrors.  Why does someone in my home feel the need to brush so aggressively that toothpaste explodes all over the mirror???  Warning--I WILL find you, and when I do, get ready to scrub!!!

7.  Fleas

I just adore this summer treat that seems to invade every May--NOT!!!  This May, I bathed all three dogs in Frontline only to still have fleas.  $70.00 more dollars and another month later, I repeated the drill.  Still we had fleas.  My mother lives in Arkansas and swears by a new flea product called Comfortis.  It's a miracle!!!!!!  I've tried getting it in Oklahoma, but our vet says it doesn't work.  I say, bull.  We will from now on be setting up an anti- flea pipeline to Arkansas. 

6.  Exercising

I could literally walk eight hours a day and gain weight.  We joined Gold's Gym and weigh more now than when we joined a year ago!!  I've tried Wii Fit, but hate that, too.  Now, if I could snorkel, scuba, hike-in-a- real-forest-that-isn't-a-hundred-miles-from-my-house or snow ski here in Oklahoma, then I'd be happy and skinny.  Until then, I will protest all forms of movement--especially in the heat of summer!!!
5.  Dieting

This should probably top my list, but I have so many other things bugging me right now, that this one doesn't seem so bad.  I loathe counting calories or points or carbs.  Hubby and I were just talking about when the kids return to school, we'd like to purge the house of anything naughty.  Lately, I've been using watermelon as my go-to treat.  It's good.  But then I have to pee a lot.  Which reminds me I need to clean the bathroom.  Which gets me grumpy all over again!! 
4.  The Yard

We live in the kind of neighborhood filled with mostly rich, retired people who have nothing better to do with their time or money than worship their yards.  They have grass people and flower people and tree people.  I have two, lazy teen boys and no money.  I offer to pay them and they say they make more at their real jobs.  I've tried being nice about it, but no more.  If the backyard isn't mowed by this weekend--for free--I'm turning off cell phones.  (Hubby and I pay for the front yard to be mowed by a nice man who actually does a lovely job.  If only he weeded flower beds and/or trimmed bushes and trees . . . )

3.  Kids who Don't Pay Their Bills

On the fridge, I keep a markerboard that has a running tab of how much The First National Bank of Mom and Dad is owed.  All three kids owe monthly for cell phones, car insurance and two owe for car payments.  Some months we get paid, some months, we don't.  I understand if something important comes up and they can't pay in full, but when two months go by with no payment, it makes me crazy.  Again, I'm thinking it's time to get ugly.

2.  Insurance

If added together--car, home, health, life--we pay WAY more for insurance per year, then we do for our mortgage!!!  Combine that with agents who don't return calls and bills and fees that make no sense and I'm losing my mind!!!  This could launch a whole new debate, but as a kid, I don't remember my parents even having medical insurance--let alone dental.  I was paying bills the other day and it dawned on me that a huge portion of our income is consumed by fees for technologies that didn't even exist when Hubby and I were kids.    

2A.  Thieves

This week we experienced bank fraud.  I'm pretty sure my bank is covering our losses, but not for a while.  I have the info available on my statement to track down these people in their California lair.  That said, why can't my bank find them?  Cuff them?  And put them in jail forever?
1.  Heat

I HATE excessive heat!!!!!  I'm a typically calm and rational, good-humored person.  Hit me with weeks and then months of temperatures over 100 and I feel crazed.  Our AC never stops running and I'm still hot.  What happens to folks who don't have AC or can't afford it?  In the winter, I can put on a coat to stay warm outside, but with this kind of weather, I feel so helpless.  Usually, this type of heat doesn't strike Tulsa until the end of July, but we've had HOT, HOT, HOT weather now since early June.  I water my porch plants at six AM and by noon, they're already drooping.  I'm ready to move.  NOW!!!  Only first, I'd need to mow and clean bathrooms and change insurance and I'm pretty sure even exercise, since I'd have to pack boxes.

Okay, whew . . .  That's pretty much it.  But if #1 dropped to eighty degrees, I'm guessing all of my other complaints would vanish!!!

All right, come on, people!!  Tell me what's bugging you!!!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Book Sightings

Last month, my post on this loop focused on the ways in which seeing your book on the shelf is a little like seeing your child off to their first day of school. It’s a scary time, a time when any mom wonders if their child will do well on their own. Well, I’m very happy to say that my “baby,” The Daddy Catch, is getting along well with all the other books on the book shelf. I think that’s due, in part at least, to the fun I’m having promoting it.

One of the most enjoyable ways I promote my books is by holding a book signing. I love meeting people who enjoy my books or, failing that, indulging in a little people watching. For The Daddy Catch, I’ve had a few book signings.

Starting with a signing at my favorite Barnes And Noble. Kaori Suzuki Fischer is the Community Relations Manager at this store and, since she just won RWA’s Steffie Walker Bookseller of the Year Award, a book signing in her store is always special.

That’s my dear friend and a wonderful author Lara Santiago on my left and another good friend, the amazing Rachel Hauck, on my right.

Next up was a book signing at a rather unusual location, a fly fishing shop in Titusville, Florida. Anyone who’s read The Daddy Catch will understand, though. The Fly Fisherman was the inspiration for the heroine’s fly shop in the story, so this book signing was a special treat for everyone involved. The owner of The Fly Fisherman, Gary Kokaisel, went out of his way to make me feel welcome. Thanks so much, Gary!

After a terrific book signing at The Fly Fisherman, it was on to Tallahassee where women’s fiction author Maria Geraci and I spent a lively afternoon signing books and talking with fans at the Books-A-Million on Thomasville Road. I have to admit, I was a little worried about this book signing. Not because of the awesome venue or the incredibly helpful sales staff, but because the manager of the store ordered 144 copies of The Daddy Catch. Wow! Fortunately, only half the order arrived...and I sold every single one of them. What a great afternoon that was!

There’s just one more book signing on my calendar for The Daddy Catch. And it’s one I’m really looking forward to because, on July 24th, I’ll be signing books at Fish Tales and Cocktails, a fund raising event for Casting For Recovery. This fabulous group sends breast cancer survivors on fly fishing retreats free of charge, so I’ll be donating a portion of the proceeds from this signing to a very worthwhile organization. I can’t think of anything I’d rather do on a Sunday afternoon than spend time with avid fly fishers in support of a wonderful cause.