Friday, June 23, 2017

Blog Tour Stop for A Stardance Summer by Emily March and a Giveaway

Discover the enchanting world that is Eternity Springs and be swept away by Emily March's wonderful characters, adorable characters and  place that you can call home. Be sure to enter the giveaway at the end of the post for a chance to win a print copy of the new Eternity Springs novel, A Stardance Summer at the end of this post (US Entries only).

Now let's chat with the author, Emily March, about life as a writer and what is coming in her acclaimed series, Eternity Springs.

Q: What will newbies to Eternity Springs find unique in your work?
A:         My recurring character, the wise-woman Celeste Blessing, is written in such a way that the reader asks “Is she or isn’t she an angel.” My answer is that it’s up to the reader to decide. Spirituality is individual, so I think Celeste’s spirituality should be, too.

Q: Do you listen to music while you write? What are some tunes on your playlist?
A:         I listen to movie soundtracks: Last of the Mohicans, Braveheart, Lord of the Rings, DragonHeart, Gettysburg, Somewhere in Time, Dances with Wolves. I also listen to Celtic spa music and classical piano and cello duets.

Q: What is your favorite scene in A Stardance Summer?
A:         I love the Fourth of July scene with the Callahan family, all the Eternity Springs crowd, and fireworks—both in the sky and in the treehouse. :)

Q: What is your favorite scene in A Stardance Summer?
A:         I read an article in our electric co-op magazine about a camping club like the Tornado Alleycats. I visited one of the campouts and knew I had to write them into a book.

Q: If you could switch places with one of your characters from this book who would it be and why ?
A:         Any of the Callahan women would be just fine with me. Can’t think of anything better than to be the wife of one of those men.

Q: Describe A Stardance Summer in 5 words.
A:         Camping with the Callahans—Yum!

Q: We all love books, what are some of your favorite ones?
A:         I’m a huge fan of the Andy Carpenter series by David Rosenfelt. I recommend the audio because Grover Cleveland does the narration and he’s fabulous! I read everything Mary Balogh writes. I adore Patricia Briggs Mercy Thompson series and her Alpha and Omega series. Jim Butcher’s Harry Dresden books.  Susan Elizabeth Philips. I listed authors instead of books because I think in authors and series instead of individual books. :)

Q: What are you working on currently writing-wise?
A:         I’ve just finished the next Eternity Springs book, THE FIRST KISS OF SUMMER, and I’ll be starting another Eternity Springs Christmas book next.

Q: Do you have a favorite genre? Is it the same genre you prefer to write?
A:         I am fickle in my literature love. I will read thrillers for a while, then glom historical romances, then get hooked on romantic suspense, then I might venture into fantasy.

Q: Do certain themes and ideas tend to capture your writer’s imagination and fascinate you?
A:         I write about friendship and family, love and laughter. Everything I write flows from those four things.

Q: How do you balance long-term thinking vs. being nimble in today's market?
A:         I don’t believe in trying to be nimble. I think you learn the crafter and write the book you want to write. That’s how to get the special “something” that makes a book fabulous. I don’t believe in chasing trends. Eventually, the trend will come to you, and if you’re writing what you love to write, the readers will find you.

Q: How do you find readers in today's market?
A:         That’s my publisher’s job. I write the best book I can write and then write the next best book I can write. That’s how I’ll find readers.

Q: Do you come up with the hook first, or do you create characters first and then dig through until you find a hook?
A:         I meet with three other writers once a year for plot group. We help each other plot our books. I will say, for example, I need an Eternity Springs Christmas book. I want the guy to be a rancher, but that’s all I have. Then we brainstorm until we come up with a kernel of an idea that appeals to me. I flesh it out from there.

Q: What's on the top of your TBR pile right now?
A:         I’m reading Nora Roberts’ Come Sundown.

Q: Tell me a little about the characters in A Stardance Summer.
A:         In A Stardance Summer, I use one of my favorite tropes—in love with her brother’s best friend. I tie my Callahan Brother’s trilogy to my Eternity Springs series in the male lead, Brick Callahan. He didn’t meet his real father until he was a teenager and because of that, he has some things to prove. It’s important to him to build something on his own, independent of his family and their money. So, he establishes an RV Resort and his business grow from there. Lili has no idea that her teenage crush owns the RV resort where she flees to spend the summer with members of a female camping club, the Tornado Alleycats after her family and business partners betray her.

Q: Where’s the story set? How much influence did the setting have on the atmosphere/ characters/ development of the story?
A:         A Stardance Summer is set in Eternity Springs Colorado. It is the thirteenth book of the series so the setting is well established and very much a character in the series. Eternity Springs is where broken hearts come to heal.

Q: If you had to write your memoir in five words, what would you write?
A:         Family, Faith, and Texas Aggies

Q: How often does your muse distract you from day to day minutiae?
A:         Fairly often. I am a creative person, which means my family calls me a ditz.

Q: What do readers have to look forward to in the future from you?
A:         A short story about Brick and Lili’s wedding this fall that shows more of the Callahan Brother’s reunion—something my readers have been asking me to write. Then, THE FIRST KISS OF SPRINGS publishes March 2018.

Q: Would you prefer tea or coffee?
A:         Coffee. Definitely coffee. But, I love ginger-tumeric tea in the afternoon.

Q: For those who may not be familiar with the series, can you tell a bit about this magical town that seems to know just how to heal people? Did you ever think up a history for Eternity Springs?
A:         Yes, the history is recounted in the first book in the series, Angel’s Rest. Eternity Springs is a former mining town in the Colorado Rockies. It is isolated and away from ski areas and was dying until it’s very own angel moved to town. Celeste Blessing definitely and angel investor who began the revitalization of the town. Whether she’s a spiritual angel or not is up to the reader to decide.

Q: Did you have any struggling moments writing Lili and Brick's story?
A:         Well, the research was a struggle. Since I believe in the saying Write What You Know, I figured I’d better go sleep in a tent because I hadn’t done that since I was a kid.
It was a struggle to leave my Texas home in July when the temperature is 106 and drive to a camp high in the beautiful Colorado Rockies. I did sleep in a tent. It had had a wood floor, a bathroom with a jetted bathtub, steam shower, and heated towels and heated floor. It had a king-sized bed and luxury sheets, a pot-belly stove for heat and our hosts took orders for cocktails at happy hour and delivered them to our tent. Gourmet meals were served family style with a handful of our fellow campers. During the day I struggled to decide between which type of massage and facial I wanted at the spa tent. This, my friends, was glamping. Glamorous camping.
In fact, I think I must go back and struggle through more research. :)

Q: Can you paint us a picture of your workspace?
A:         I spend about half my time working in a private office on the second floor in a shared office building. There is grocery store on the first floor so it makes picking up dinner on the way home from work easy. I have a wall of windows that overlook the Trinity River, the Trinity Trail biking/walking/running trail, and the Fort Worth zoo. I can see the giraffes from my office. I have an electric standing desk so I move up and down throughout the day because it’s easier on my body. There is an exposed iron beam that runs on one wall, floor-to-ceiling, that is just the perfect size to hold a paperback, so I’ve stacked my books there—by color blocks rather than by title. I have a leather recliner for times I prefer to write in that position. I have one vertical bookcase and one horizontal cube storage bookcase.
The other half of my work time is spent at Possum Kingdom Lake—silly name, but gorgeous place—writing on the lakefront deck or sitting in a lounge chair in a hidden arbor beneath a huge wisteria and surrounded by grapevines, honeysuckle, blackberries, and roses. And bumble bees when the wisteria is blooming. Hummingbirds. Lizards. We have lots of lizards, but they keep the mosquito population down so we love them.

Q: Tell us five words that describe you best.
A:         Wife, Mom, Nana, Sister, Writer.

Q: What is your favorite food?
A:         My husband’s Tuscan chicken. It beats out Mexican food by a hair.

Q: How did the idea for the cover come about?
A:         I suggested a lake and my editor suggested a hammock. I always have a dog on the cover because dogs are very much a part of each of my books.

Q: And the title?
A:         Stardance Ranch was already established in the series, so the title came from there. I love the word “stardance” and it makes my imagination soar.

Q: What's the story behind why and how you became an author?
A:         I learned how to tell a story from my father. He was a fabulous storyteller and I grew up listening to tales of his childhood and youth and adventures in WWII. I wanted to tell stories of my own, except my life was boring compared to his. So I made my stories up. Nothing else to do then than become a fiction author. :)

Q: Any ideas for another novel?

A:         I’m writing a Christmas book next. Plot group is in a few weeks. That’s all I have right at the moment :)

Return to the beloved small town of Eternity Springs in the newest installment of Emily March’s New York Times bestselling series with A Stardance Summer

Sometimes the end of one road
Brick Callahan enjoys every minute of chaos at his campground, Stardance Ranch, especially after the Tornado Alleycats arrive for an extended summer stay. The members of the all-female glamorous camping club are primarily seniors—active and adventurous, friendly and fun. But when he discovers Liliana Howe frolicking with the glamping grannies in a late night skinny-dipping session, he fears he's in for a summer of trouble. Because his best friend's kid sister has grown up to be drop-dead gorgeous.
. . .is the start of another

Betrayed by those she trusted, Lili decides she's put her career first for too long. She sells her practical sedan, buys a travel trailer, and heads to Eternity Springs for a summer of rest, relaxation, and reassessment as the newest member of the Alleycats. The last person she expects to find running an RV resort is her high school crush. Their undeniable mutual attraction is a reminder that life is full of surprises. But when the past comes calling, will their summer romance stand the test of time?


Chapter One
Twenty years later
I won’t cry. I absolutely, positively will not cry.
Liliana Howe silently repeated the mantra as she rang the doorbell of her parents’ home in Norman, Oklahoma. She still had a key to the house, but her arms were full with two large white paper bags of her father’s favorite Tex-Mex from the taqueria over by Oklahoma University.
Brian and Stephanie Howe met at home for lunch every day, but it was rare for Lili to join them. She usually worked through lunch. But then, today was not a usual day, was it?
Her father answered the door. His gray eyes rounded in surprise. “Lili? Did we forget a lunch date?”
“No, Dad. I was in the neighborhood. Thought I’d surprise you with lunch from Miguelito’s.”
 “Well, that’s nice.” He opened the screen door. “Come on in. Let me help you with those bags.”
He led her through the house back toward the kitchen. “That smells wonderful. This is a real treat, Liliana. Your mother doesn’t let me have Mexican too often.”
“It’s been too long since I’ve seen you guys.”
They walked into the kitchen to find her mother seated at the table staring intently at her computer. Typical Stephanie Howe. Always working. Without looking up, she said, “Stevenson has the best rating, but—”
“Look who’s here, honey,” Lili’s father interrupted.
Stephanie Howe finally glanced up, her thoughts obviously somewhere else, because she gazed at Lili as if she didn’t recognize her. Lili waved her fingers. “Surprise.”
“Oh.” Stephanie gave her head a little shake. “Lili. Hello. Did we forget a lunch date?”
Inwardly, Lili sighed. “No. I was in the mood for Mexican and I thought of Dad.”
“It’s not good for his cholesterol.”
“No, but once in a blue moon won’t hurt him. Dr. Derek told me that himself.”
She unloaded the bags, setting tacos, cheese enchiladas, refried beans, guacamole, and tortilla chips in the center of the table. Her mother brought plates and silverware from the cabinet. “Nevertheless, it’s nice to see you. It’s been too long. How are you, Lili? Have you recovered from tax season?”
“It’s definitely behind me,” she replied with a wry twist of her lips.
They all filled their plates. Not anxious to spill her own beans, Lili took an extra spoonful of refried and asked, “So, what do you hear from Derek?”
Her parents spent quite a bit of time talking about their renowned heart surgeon son. Nerves caused Lili to make a pig of herself on chips and guacamole, and she didn’t miss her mother’s judgmental frown.
Finally, after extolling Derek’s most recent peer recognition award, her father asked Lili what was new with her work and the moment was at hand.
She sipped her water, wished it were a beer, and summarized the sequence of events that had led her to this crisis point. Then she waited for them to react.
And she waited.
And waited.
Her parents shared one of those long, hard-to-read looks that made Lili’s stomach do a bit of a sick flip. Her father cleared his throat. “It’s an incredible tale.”
Her mother nodded. “Unbelievable.”
Lili sucked salt off her bottom lip. She hadn’t expected them to jump to their feet and vow to make the villains pay, but she’d thought they’d be angry on her behalf. Not . . . reserved.
Deep within her, despair kindled to life. They were her parents. She was counting on them. Nevertheless, she pressed ahead, calmly and logically laying out the approach she wanted to take and the assistance she needed from her mother and father.
Again, her parents shared one of those inscrutable looks. Lili’s heart began to pound. “I don’t know, Liliana,” her father said, rubbing the back of his neck. “It would be hard to fight them. They’re powerful people. I hate to say it because it’s not the way this country was supposed to work, but if a Normal Joe tries to go up against powerful people, most often he loses.
“I don’t want to see you get involved with making a charge against the police. That could turn nasty real fast. This cop . . . you said you think your bosses might have threatened him, too? He might be in an even tougher position than you.”
“But he lied, Dad! He falsified records.”
“But you have no proof of that, do you?”
“Just my word.” Isn’t that enough, Dad? At least for you?
“Maybe you should let things lie for a while. Give it some time. See how things work out. I think it’s simply too soon to call the governor and ask for a personal favor.”
That, Lili knew, was a no. A no and a verbal punch to the gut. After her father’s heroic efforts during Central Oklahoma’s most recent tornado outbreak, hadn’t the governor given Brian Howe her direct phone number and instructions to call if he ever needed help with anything? Lili could think of only one reason why he denied her request, and it made her want to toss her guaco.
“Maybe later on when everything settles down we can look at the situation again.”
He didn’t believe her. He didn’t believe in her. Neither did her mother. Lili’s heart twisted. She knew her parents. They wouldn’t come right out and say it, but she saw the significant looks they’d exchanged. Noticed the way they wouldn’t meet her eyes.
They believed she’d been driving drunk last night and the DUI was legit. They did not believe that she’d been set up.
They thought she’d lied.
Hurt like nothing she’d ever known washed through her. Lili had never been a liar. Even as a child she’d been frightfully honest. Hadn’t that been her way of attempting to gain favor with her parents? Her brilliant older brother spun stories that had fooled her equally brilliant parents, but eagle-eyed little sister often knew the truth. And tattled. But always with the truth.
Yet now, they doubted her? They believed her so irresponsible that she would climb behind the wheel of a car after she’d been drinking, thus risking her life, the lives of others, and her license to practice her profession?
Good grief, did they think she’d embezzled money from senior citizens, too?
Lili swallowed hard. Inside, her heart was bleeding. I will not cry. I will not cry. She couldn’t believe this. What was she going to do now?
The only thing she was certain of was that she needed to leave. Immediately. Before she lost her enchiladas all over her mother’s Italian tile.
But Lili couldn’t make herself stand up. Her knees were too weak.
“I think your father is right.” Stephanie Howe reached over and patted Lili’s hand. “You know, dear, maybe this is for the best. You haven’t been happy in your work for some time now.”
“You never liked accounting,” her father added helpfully. “Perhaps it’s best that you look on this event as an opportunity.”
An opportunity? For what? Prison? Hysterical laughter bubbled up inside her, but Lili swallowed it down.
Lili’s mother rose from the table and removed a glass pitcher of iced tea from the refrigerator. She topped off her husband’s glass and changed the subject.
Lili didn’t really care about the plans for their next-door neighbor’s upcoming retirement party. Nor did she give a fig about OU football recruiting rumors. She spent the rest of the meal in a distracted fog.
Finally, having cleaned his plate—twice—Brian Howe set down his fork, wiped his mouth with a napkin, then checked his watch. “I’ve gotta run. I have a one o’clock conference call.”
Standing, he leaned over and pressed a kiss against Lili’s hair. “It was nice to see you, sweetheart. Don’t be such a stranger.”
Minutes later, he walked out the door and Stephanie was preparing to follow. “I hate to rush you, Lili, but I have office hours before my two o’clock lecture.”
Stephanie Howe taught advanced mathematics at OU. “That’s okay, Mom. Why don’t you go on? I’ll stay and load the dishwasher.”
“Thank you. You’ll lock up when you’re done?”
“I will.”
Her mother ducked into the master bedroom and returned a few moments later with her hair and teeth brushed and wearing new lipstick. On the way out the door, she paused. “Lili, things happen for a reason, and often, we don’t know what that reason is. Sometimes you simply need to give it a little time.”
She gave a little finger wave, then exited the house. Lili stood in the center of her parents’ kitchen, her arms hanging limply at her sides. She heard her mother’s car start, then back out of the driveway. Lili was alone. Alone and . . . lost.
Her parents didn’t believe her. Why not? What had she ever done to earn this lack of faith?
 Nothing. She might not have been the smartest Howe sibling, but she’d made it a point to be the one who never screwed up. Derek the Favorite couldn’t say that. The time her brother had come within a phone call of getting an MIP, he’d deserved one. He and his trouble-magnet best friend had celebrated the no-hitter Mark had thrown in the regionals of the state baseball tournament by buying a fifth of bourbon with fake IDs and drinking themselves silly in a public park. Neither had gone near a car, but still.
Derek’s good luck was that their father’s administrative assistant’s husband was the chief of police. Dad had called the chief on Derek’s behalf and worked out a deal. Derek would pay the required fine and do the required community service, but it wouldn’t go on his record. Gotta protect the college applications, you know.
He’d called for Derek.
He won’t go near the phone for me.
Pressure filled Lili’s chest. It reminded her of that achy feeling she got when reading a novel where the protagonist discovers that her loved one has betrayed her. At that point in a book, Lili invariably skipped ahead to read the ending. Lili needed happy endings.
Satisfying endings didn’t work for her. She wanted happy-ever-after.
Once she knew the book was a safe read, the emotional grief she experienced eased. Then she invariably read the rest of the book backward. She was weird that way.
She’d never expected to be the wronged character in a real-life novel. Not with her parents cast as the betrayers, anyway. She wished she could skip to the end of this story. Maybe then she’d discover that her parents had believed her and believed in her all along and they had a really good reason for doing what they’d just done.
Yeah. Right. And I’ll win the next season of Who’s Got Talent because of my spreadsheet expertise.
Ordinarily, pity parties were not Liliana’s style. Today as she picked up her father’s plate from the table, she had a star-studded gala going on.
Mom and Dad didn’t believe her.
She took two steps toward the sink, then abruptly stopped. She dropped the plate.
Actually, she threw the plate. With both hands. Hard.
It smashed against the floor, shattering into dozens of pieces. Next she threw his glass and her mother’s plate and her own plate and glass. And Liliana realized she was panting as if she’d run five miles. Tears pooled in her eyes, but she blinked them away.
Then, because she was Liliana, she got a broom and dustpan and cleaned up her mess. About the time her mother would be pulling into the faculty parking lot at OU, Lili exited the house and locked the door behind her. Then she removed her parents’ house key from her key ring and dropped it through the mail slot in their front door.
As she walked down the sidewalk toward the slate-gray sedan she’d parked at the curb, the soon-to-be-retired neighbor drove into his driveway. They exchanged waves and Lili extended a trembling hand toward her car door.
“I absolutely, positively won’t cry.”
Maintaining her composure, she slid into the driver’s seat and calmly buckled the safety belt. She started her engine, shifted into drive, and slowly pulled away from her childhood home. She wouldn’t cry. She wouldn’t curse. She wouldn’t break any more dishes or squeal her tires in a fit of temper.
Lili wasn’t reckless. She didn’t act rashly and seldom lost control of her temper or emotions. She was logical and deliberate and controlled.
And honest. Totally honest.
Just the way a good accountant should be.
The faintest of sobs escaped her at the thought.
She’d broken her mother’s Fiesta. And yes, she had goosed the gas on her practical sedan, though not enough to squeal the tires. She wasn’t certain that her engine even had enough power to do it.
Her landlady’s voice echoed through her mind. I think this car’s get-up-and-go got up and went before it ever left the showroom floor.
“I bought it used,” Lili had defended.
Patsy Schaffer clicked her tongue and shook her head. “Oh, honey. Of course you did.”
Buying this car had been a good decision, Lili told herself now. A practical purchase. Cars lost value the moment they were driven off the lot. The last thing she needed was a big car payment.
Especially since as of today, she didn’t have a job.
She sucked in a shuddering breath. What am I going to do?
“Fight.” That’s what she needed to do. That’s what she’d come to her parents’ house to do. To gather her resources. To prepare for war. This injustice could not be allowed to stand!
So fine. She’d go into battle by herself. Work from the bottom up instead of the top down. She could do it. She was a grown-up. She didn’t need her parents to fight her battles. She was accustomed to doing things alone, wasn’t she?
She’d go back to the office. Today. Now. What could it hurt? They couldn’t fire her again. She’d demand to speak to Fred Ormsby, the other founding partner. She’d outline her case and demand that the situation be investigated by an independent party. Then she’d go to the police and do the same thing with them.
She could do this. She was strong.
She was scared.
By the time she pulled onto I-35 headed north to her office building in downtown Oklahoma City, she’d lost the battle to hold back tears. Soon she’d soaked four tissues and was on to drowning her fifth.
Then, just as she signaled her intention to take the upcoming exit, a motorcycle screamed by, passing on the right. Only by the grace of God did she avoid hitting him.
In that instant, the blaze of Lili’s temper evaporated her fears. If she’d had another dinner plate, she’d have thrown it at the fool. She was furious that the rider had endangered himself by riding recklessly without a helmet. She was incensed at her former friend and mentor in the firm and at his criminal connections in the police department who were able to create false DUI charges out of nothing.
 And her parents . . . Lili swallowed hard. Her parents. For them, she had no words.
Downtown, she found a parking spot two blocks from her building, so she took it. She grabbed a fresh tissue, flipped down the visor mirror, and wiped away mascara tracks. She blew her nose, put on fresh lipstick, and pinched some color into her wan cheeks.
Drawing two calming, bracing breaths, she stepped outside and prepared to go to war.
Lili marched up the street. You can do this. You can do this. Right is on your side. Justice will prevail.
She was halfway to her building’s front door when the problem occurred to her. They’d taken away her credentials. She wouldn’t be allowed upstairs.
They’d taken her credentials. They’d taken her reputation. They’d taken her license. A great yawning sense of despair opened up inside her. I’m powerless.
The door to her building opened and her former mentor and the firm’s other founding partner stepped outside. Okay. Okay. Her luck was turning. Here was an opportunity. Approaching them on a public street wouldn’t be her first choice, but the fact that they’d come out of the building right at this particular moment was a sign, was it not?
She took one more step forward, then stopped abruptly. A third person had joined them. A third person smiled and laughed and flirted up at the two men old enough to be her father.
Tiffany Lambeau.
Lili’s nemesis.
When Tiffany had followed Mark Christopher to the University of Hawaii, Lili had hoped Norman, Oklahoma, had seen the last of her. Instead, Tiffany had come home with an MBA and a “broken” heart quickly healed by a prominent banker. Now Tiffany was on the prowl again, and she’d started working at the firm late last year as a consultant. She knew everyone of consequence in town— maybe the entire state—and she’d quickly weaseled her way into visiting the corner offices. Often.
Lili watched the trio turn the other direction and stroll up the sidewalk, arm in arm, and she had no doubt that she was looking at Ormsby, Harbaugh, and Stole’s newest partner.
The guacamole in Lili’s stomach made a threatening rumble. “Oh yes,” she murmured. “Talk about a sign.”
She could possibly face the powers that be at the firm. She might even be able to hold her own while presenting her case to the cops. But Tiffany Lambeau? Forget about it.
Some parts of high school a girl simply couldn’t leave behind.
Lili pivoted and returned to her car. She thumbed the lock, opened the door, slid inside, and calmly fastened her seat belt. She sat with her hands on the wheel for a full five minutes, the events of the day running through her mind like a bad movie. How many times today had she asked herself, What am I going to do?
Now, finally, at—she glanced at the clock on her dash— 2:27 p.m., she knew the answer. “That’s it. I’m done. I quit.”
Lili switched on her ignition, shifted her car into drive, and spoke her life-changing decision aloud. “I’m going to join the Tornado Alleycats.”

Copyright © 2017 by Emily March and reprinted by permission of St. Martin’s Press.

Author Bio:

Emily March is the New York Times, Publisher’s Weekly, and USA Today bestselling author of over thirty novels, including the critically acclaimed Eternity Springs series. Publishers Weekly calls March a "master of delightful banter," and her heartwarming, emotionally charged stories have been named to Best of the Year lists by Publishers Weekly, Library Journal, and Romance Writers of America. A graduate of Texas A&M University, Emily is an avid fan of Aggie sports and her recipe for jalapeƱo relish has made her a tailgating legend.

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