Thursday, May 21, 2015

Afternoon Tea with Helen and Lee

For our first Harlequin Heartwarming blog together, we are inviting our readers and fellow authors to join us for afternoon tea. Please up a comfy chair while we pour you a cup, and let’s chat!

LEE: Hello, Helen. Welcome to Harlequin Heartwarming! I’m so excited that we get to be blogging partners. Tell us what kind of tea you’re drinking, and please share a little about your first Heartwarming.

HELEN: Earl Gray is my favorite tea both for its flavor and for its appearance. I have a glass teapot that lets me enjoy its color, a deep rich amber, while it steeps. I generally have a big salt-glazed stoneware mug beside me as I write.



Helen's amber tea set
Right now I'm in the throes of producing a three-book series for Heartwarming. The first novel, tentatively titled Cameron's Pride, is in the production process while I churn ahead with the second book. The series concerns a ranch family in southern Colorado involved with the sport of Professional Bull Riding. What are you working on these days?

LEE: Bull riding? Wow, Helen, that sounds like an exciting...and somewhat dangerous...sport. And oh my goodness, who doesn’t love a cowboy hero?

Right now I’m working on the first book in a trilogy about three sisters, set in a small fictional town called Riverton, Wisconsin. The first book, the middle sister’s story, is tentatively titled To Catch a Wife. The title is meant to be a play on the old film title, To Catch a Thief.

This afternoon I’m sipping an organic Chinese green tea. It brews a lovely jade color and it’s packed with antioxidants.

Tea time in Lee's folly
So tell us, Helen, how did you become interested in bull riding?

HELEN: I grew up on horseback in Kentucky and fell in love with the West and rodeo after spending time on a dude ranch in Colorado. I fell away from the sport after many years in New Hampshire but got hooked again by watching bull riding on television and then traveling to live events. Bull riding is totally insane, but there's a crazy magnificence about it going back as far as the Minoan bull leapers. And I love the care and concern with which the bulls are treated. There are dozens of stories in the PBR waiting to be told.


Inspiration for Helen's next book: a statue honoring professional bull riders
What about you, Lee? Tell us about the hero in your next book.

LEE: The hero in To Catch a Wife is Riverton’s new chief of police and a former Chicago PD homicide detective. He’s seen a lot of bad stuff in his career and he’s ready to settle down, although he’s having trouble getting the heroine to believe it. I’ve only written a cop hero once before and I have to say, they can have a lot of attitude. I love it!



Inspiration for Lee's next book: a gazebo on the bank of the Mississippi
Helen, I understand you now have a new title and release date for your first Harlequin Heartwarming. Please share that and tell us a little about your characters.

HELEN: Yes, I've interviewed a lot of cops while researching an earlier book. Lots of attitude and a bizarre sense of humor to us "civilians"—insulation against the bad stuff, I reckon.

I've been calling my first Heartwarming novel Cameron's Pride, but my editors have decided to use that as the series title and chose Into The Storm for the first book. I love it; storms of various kinds figure prominently in the story. The hero is a rancher dealing with his wife's death and a rebellious teenage daughter. The heroine is a traveling horse trainer perpetually running from tragedy in her past and threats in the present. Setting and weather act almost as characters in the action, potentially matters of life and death in wide-open country as I've learned first-hand.

LEE: That’s a wonderful title, Helen, and we’re so excited to have you join the Heartwarming family!

HELEN & LEE: Readers, we hope you’ve enjoyed having tea with us today. To celebrate our first joint blog post, Helen and I are offering a little giveaway. Tell us about your favorite heroes in a comment on this post—rancher, cop, doctor, bad boy, Navy SEAL, the guy next door or...? And yes, you can have more than one! On Saturday we’ll have a random draw and post the winner’s name as a comment.

The prizes? From Helen, some New Hampshire maple sugar candy, and from Lee, a copy of one of her Heartwarming titles (winner’s choice) and a little tin of her favorite organic green tea.

Happy reading! Until next time,

Helen DePrima and Lee McKenzie

37 comments:

  1. What a nice post. Thank you for telling us about your upcoming books. Books and tea—two of my absolute favorite things! (My favorite tea is Lady Grey with a little sugar and half-and-half.) I like bad boy heroes because it's fun seeing them transformed from bad boy to hero. They get a bad wrap and then surprise us with a noble deed. I also like the boy next door hero because who doesn't love a neighborhood hero, or an ordinary guy turned hero? Thanks for getting my morning off to a great start.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for joining us for tea, Laurie! I have a soft spot for the bad boy hero, too, although I've only written one in an earlier book I did for Harlequin's American Romance line (Daddy, Unexpectedly. Bad boys tend to start their journey with a lot of baggage, don't they?

      It's also fun to watch the ordinary hero step up, especially if the heroine needs a helping hand and flatly refuses to accept it ;)

      Delete
    2. Thanks for your comments. I have a soft spot for the ordinary guy or gal who steps up to meet extraordinary challenges -- discovering the hero within.

      Delete
  2. What a lovely idea to have tea with you ladies! And how appropriate for me to be reading about Helen's book wand professional bull riding while I am in Calgary, the home of the renowned Calgary Stampede.

    Best wishes with your trilogies. They both sound intriguing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yee haw, Kate! You're a little early for the Stampede, but I hope you're having a wonderful time! My favorite thing about Calgary is it's proximity to the Rockies. I hope you get to spend a little time in the mountains while you're there.

      Delete
    2. Hi Kate -- lucky you, so close to the Stampede. I'd love to attend that event as well as Cheyenne Frontier Days and Pendleton. So many great stories to be mined from the PBR it was hard to know where to start.

      Delete

  3. My mom used to have insomnia, and I'd wake up in the middle of the night and go drink hot tea with her (that was back when I was in grade school). I always associate tea drinking with those late night adventures. I love both bull riders and cops :)
    Your books sound awesome.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi, Pamela! Black tea doesn't sound to me like a cure for insomnia (lol!) but I loved hearing your memories of late-night tea-drinking sessions with your mom. So special.

      Delete
    2. Hi Pamela,
      Tea is a remedy for many ills. My grandmother used to fix cambric tea for me when I was home sick from school. It made me feel special and coddled.

      Delete
  4. Ladies, love tea--hot in winter and iced in summer. I like unsweetened black breakfast tea or Earl Gray hot, not iced. The books sound delightful. Love cowboys, bull riders, and cops. Can't wait to read the books.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for joining us, Roz! I have a lovely recipe for iced tea sangria that can be made with or without wine. I'll share it here on the blog of these days.

      Delete
    2. Lee, yum, I also like sangria. Never have had it with tea. Looking forward to when you post the recipe.

      Delete
    3. Ah, Earl Grey, the prince of teas. I enjoyed an interesting twist recently at dinner on Mackinac Island: Earl Grey spritzer made with champagne. A far cry from my world of cowboys and bull riding, but a delicious novelty.

      Delete
  5. What a fun post! Both series sound great, ladies. I live in Chicago and have a family lake house in Wisconsin, so To Catch a Wife sounds like the perfect read for me! I also just saw that new Nicholas Sparks movie about bull riding, is it okay if I picture Scott Eastwood as the hero in Helen's new story? *fans self*

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Good to know, Amy! I live on the west coast, so I might be in touch if I have research questions ;)

      Delete
    2. I haven't seen The Longest Ride, but the trailers looked enticing. The PBR worked closely with the production so I hope they achieved decent authenticity. Sport movies done with integrity are great entertainment.

      Delete
  6. I love getting to know our authors! Thanks for having tea time with us!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Good morning, Lee and Helen. I'm sitting here with my cup of Yorkshire Gold serious black tea and enjoying learning about what you're up to and what you're about. Love the tea set, Helen, and love the folly, Lee. Rodeo stuff makes me nervous (is bull riding rodeo?) because I worry about the men and the animals, but that's just pansy me. A hero is a hero, though, wherever he does his thing, so look forward to reading. And I just did a cop hero, so that's close to my heart. Wish both of you great success and congratulations on all the hard work behind and ahead of you. Waiting for the iced tea/Sangria recipe.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Muriel, your good wishes mean the world. And I must say, my folly is not only my backyard retreat, it's my favorite place in the whole world.

      Delete
  8. We love the PBR and watch it every time we find it on tv. Stories behind the scenes would be a wonderful addition to my library. Tea and the PBR, quite the combo!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Amazing how the PBR fan base is growing. I've been following the sport for about ten years and have made a lot friends within the organization. Fascinating personalities -- endless possibilities for stories. For me, the best part of the sport is the wonderful care the animals receive. I've visited with the bulls backstage and talked with the stock contractors; I hope you'll find my books authentic as well as engaging.

      Delete
    2. Robin, I feel so fortunate to be learning about PBR from Helen and readers like you. It was never been my "cup of tea"...sorry!...but that's only because I didn't know anything about it.

      Delete
  9. I like cops, firefighters, handymen, carpenters, contractors, teachers, trainers, doctors and any occupation that involves a guy who can handle himself, protect others and looking nice in a pair of jeans isn't to be taken lightly.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. laurelicious, I like where you're going with this. It's all about the jeans ;)

      Delete
    2. Yes, competence in any difficult field is a real turn-on, and a great walking-away view of a nicely fitting pair of Wranglers is an additional plus.

      Delete
  10. Reading this makes me want to grab my Lady Earl and a cup! Great post and loved hearing about your books.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for joining us, Patricia! I hope you enjoyed your tea!

      Delete
  11. Fun post, and the trilogies sound fun, too. My favorite hero is the guy next door, I think, and right now I'm drinking Bigelow's salted caramel tea. If Bigelow puts it in a bag, I'll usually drink it!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Liz, I adore "the guy next door" heroes. Could be why my last book, The Parent Trap , featured one! But seriously...salted caramel tea? I had no idea such a thing existed but will be scouring the shops for it tomorrow. My favorite treat is a Himalayan pink salt dark chocolate caramel. Just thinking about it makes me swoon!

      Delete
  12. They both sound like great series. I think the small town setting with a police officer from a larger town sounds intriguing. When I think bull riders I think broken down and busted up but I think it's better if you've never actually been anywhere near a real bull fight. Reality doesn't mess with the fantasy.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for joining us today, Pat! I hope you enjoy our books! I'm sure having fun writing my big-city-cop-turned-small-town-police-chief hero!

      Delete
  13. Please, not a bullfight! Bucking bulls are pampered athletes that go home fat and happy when they retire. You're right about some of the cowboys, but the risk is their choice. As for reality, I do deep research for authenticity, so what's on the page is pretty close to the real thing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I wondered about that, Helen. I was pretty sure there were no bull fights involved. Thanks for clearing this up for us.

      Delete
  14. the above comment starting with fb was from Helen DePrima. I am having trouble with this web site

    ReplyDelete
  15. Hi, everyone! We are really enjoying your comments! Please keep them coming! Helen is experiencing some technical difficulties with responding to comments here on the blog. The Heartwarming team is working to remedy that, and we hope to have her here soon!

    ReplyDelete
  16. And the winner of our giveaway, as chosen by Random.org, is laurelicious! Please contact Lee via her website www.leemckenzie.com with your address so we can put your prizes in the mail!

    ReplyDelete