Friday, June 14, 2013

What's Summer Fun?!

Proud of myself for finally ditching the winter wreath and hauling off the poor dead fern! LOL!!
Ahh . . . summer.

The word calls to mind turquoise swimming pools and sunshine glinting like diamonds on oceans lapping sandy shores. Summer makes me think of picnics and ice cream and watermelon. Planting flowers and reading on the shady front porch.

Um, yeah--if you're at Casa Altom, now's the time to make that annoying scratchy record sound, because so far, our summer has super sucked.

After more kid angst than even I could ever imagine--and that's saying somethin'--we've now moved on to a new window leak, hose spigot leak, fleas, and one or two ants in random places. Our nearly sixteen-year-old dog Sweet Pea just had tooth surgery and yesterday, all three kids managed to squelch any attempt at writing with minor medical emergencies that began at 7:40 AM with a trek to the dermatologist, then to the dentist, then the urgent care center for an issue EVERYONE knows to never call me for . . . I'm turning green just thinking of it!!  LOL!!

Knock on wood, but thankfully, everyone's healthy again and today has been selfishly, wonderfully all mine!!! It may not be very summer-like, but I've written a few pages, gabbed on the phone with my bestie, watched an episode of Lost, and even manged to cheat on my diet.

Great times, right? My fingers are crossed that any day now, even more summer fun will hit me like a truckload of yummy s'mores!!

How about you? Got anything awesome planned for June, July or August?


Thursday, June 13, 2013

Where does it all come from?

I’m asked that question all the time. Some of it comes from memory, some of it comes to me the instant I close my eyes and let my fingers glide across the keyboard. Yes, I do tend to type with my eyes closed. What better way to describe something than to visualize the scene playing out before you? And while we don’t have time to cover every character, today I will touch on the ones I’m asked about most frequently.

Years ago, I interned in breed management on a reining horse ranch back in New Jersey. While the ranch no longer exists, it was state-of-the-art at the time and gave me the idea for the Bridle Dance Ranch in the Ramblewood series. Equine artificial insemination fascinated me and Lexi Lawson, Ramblewood’s equine vet was born.

Who are the Langtry brothers? They are a combination of every sexy, confident, red-blooded American male I have come across. But I do have to admit, the basic idea of them probably originated with the Dukes of Hazzard. Who could resist those Duke boys?

Everyone wants to know who Mable Promise is. Mable is my all-time favorite character of any book I’ve read. She even beats out Scarlett O’Hara and I didn’t think anyone would ever touch that golden spot. Mable is the most honest, kind-hearted, mom-to-everyone, gospel loving woman you will ever meet. She’s also the first person to set you straight and put the fear of God into you if you dare walk across her clean kitchen floor with your mud cake boots. She’s a blend of many people I’ve known and a woman with a story of her own.

People always ask what town I patterned Ramblewood, Texas after. It’s a combination of all the small towns I’ve traveled to and through over the years. It sits in the heart of Hill Country where family and community come together as one. Ramblewood’s not perfect by any means. People have some deeply buried secrets, which you’ll start to see in BLAME IT ON THE RODEO.

When I started writing BETTING ON TEXAS, I knew Ramblewood would never just be one book. I had originally planned a four book series, featuring the Langtry brothers, but as BETTING ON TEXAS ended, a few other characters came to the foreground and begged me to tell their stories. Where will end? It may not – Some towns live in our hearts forever as I hope Ramblewood will for my readers.

So when I’m asked, where does it all come from? I have to reply…from the heart. In writing this series, I hoped to create a place where the readers want to stop and grab a bite to eat at The Magpie or take a canoe ride down Cooter Creek before heading to Slater’s Mill for a beer and a night of dancing. Ramblewood lives in the heart of all of us looking for a warm place to call home.

August brings about the release of HOME TO THE COWBOY, the second book in the Ramblewood series. Tess Dalton is home for a visit, but you know how those Langtry men can put a wrinkle in a woman’s plans, and Cole is no exception! So if you find yourself driving through town, or browsing the bookstore aisles, pay a visit to the folks in Ramblewood and catch up on your favorites. I’ll see you there!

Amanda Renee
HOME TO THE COWBOY (August 2013)
BLAME IT ON THE RODEO (February 2014)

Wednesday, June 12, 2013


It's June, and although summer doesn't officially begin for another couple of weeks, kids are finishing up the school year, people are firing up their backyard barbecues, and families are heading out on vacations. 

When I was a child, summer vacations were always spent on my grandmother's farm in southern Alabama.  There, my cousins and I spent long, hot days hoeing acres of butter beans,  field peas, tomatoes and okra.  We rose early to pick the ripest fruits and vegetables, then spent hours in the kitchen, canning the harvest for the winter.  Evenings found us rocking in the double-swing on the wide front porch with enormous bowls in our laps.  While the swing rocked, we popped peas out of their shells or snapped beans into the bowls. 

And we talked.  About the boys and the stores and the adventures of our city-lives.  Listened to our cousins from Alabama share their own tales of boys and cows and what Ol' Man-this and Ol' Lady-that had done lately.  Hung on every word that fell from our Massachusetts cousins who spoke so differently from the rest of us but had the best stories to tell. 

As I grew older, I missed those summer days.  I went to college, which meant I needed a j-o-b during the summer or there'd be no money for brain food, aka pizza, once classes started again.  I married a Navy man, and we moved...a lot.  We had children and spent our vacations visiting their grandparents. Too many years passed.  My grandmother's house changed hands several times and, although family members still own it, it's no longer the gathering place it once was. 

This weekend, though, a bunch of us cousins did get together again.  And though it had been a l-o-n-g time since many of us had seen each other, we made ourselves at home on a front porch where we shared the stories of our lives...and vowed not to wait so long to get together again. 

Family, it's one of the central themes of Harlequin American Romance.  I so enjoyed touching base with my family this weekend.  How about you?  Any plans for a family reunion this summer?