Monday, May 22, 2017

Evergreen VBT

Thirty-year-old musician Leilani Mahuiki is in Tennessee to find Joe Barstow, the birth father whose bone marrow might save her daughter’s life. She finds Bradley, too, Joe’s adopted son. Against all odds, she and Bradley make wonderful music together, she on the ukulele, he on the banjo. And Bradley is everything else she’s ever wanted in a man.

Bradley wants her, too. But is that enough? He needs a family of his own. Having grown up an outsider, he’s always dreamt of something simple and old-fashioned. No entanglements. No complications. Just mom, dad, and the kids. Not something Leilani can ever offer. She already has the very complications and entanglements that he so desperately wants to avoid, and that are not going away any time soon. And yet, as he and Leilani pull out all the stops to save her daughter’s life, he knows Leilani is the only woman for him. The most beautiful music in the world can sometimes happen when disharmony resolves—and a lonely Tennessee winter can become a tropical paradise.

“I see.” Bradley thought a minute. “It’s a good deal for them and a good deal for Nalani. But is it really all that good a deal for you? What’s this done to your life, Leilani?”

“My child has three parents raising her and I have an incredible support system in George and Kekoa. And they have an incredible support system in me.”

“But what about the possibility of your ever finding love again? What has this cockamamie arrangement done to that?”

Leilani felt herself bristle. “It’s not cockamamie. It’s working well, thank you very much.”

“If it’s working out so damned well, why are you still single? Is it because your boyfriends are put off by the total and complete weirdness of whole thing?”

Leilani looked at Bradley with disdain. “Actually, this is the first time I’ve given a damn what my boyfriend thought of my totally, completely weird life. This is the first time since Bruce died that I’ve really cared about a man.”

“I didn’t realize.”

“You did, too. I told you a while back that I haven’t been serious about anyone since Bruce died. Congratulations. You’re the first one in ten years. The first damn man I’ve cared about since I put Bruce in the ground. You want to know why I didn’t tell you about Kekoa and George? Because even though I tried to warn you that I couldn’t give you the fifties sitcom family of your dreams, I thought way down deep that maybe you could get past that unrealistic dream a little and look at my admittedly unconventional family and visualize yourself a part of it. I thought that maybe, just maybe, you might come to love me enough to loosen the tight parameters you’ve set up in your mind and think outside that box. But that was damned stupid of me, wasn’t it?”

“Yes, it was,” Bradley said with a snap. “You’ve known from the beginning how I feel and what I want in a family. Unrealistic or no, that’s what I’m looking for. As much as I care about you, I’ll never be able to have that with you. You will always have other loyalties, other allegiances. It will never be just me and mine. I understand that now. I just wish you’d told me earlier. Maybe I wouldn’t have fallen for you the way I did. Maybe I wouldn’t hurt so much tonight.”

“Or maybe you wouldn’t hurt so much if your mind was a little broader,” Leilani snapped.

Setting my Books in a Place I Love
Okay, so this is not exactly a new concept.  Every writer from James Michener to Nora Roberts has used his or her favorite place to tell their stories.  An author is more likely to weave a compelling tale if she already feels a deep emotional connection to the surroundings where she places her characters, and in the hands of a skilled author these settings become more than a backdrop-they actually become part of the story, adding richness and authenticity that all the armchair research in the world cannot duplicate.  So when it came time to leave my beloved Texas Hill Country and move on, I turn to another place I love-the mountains of Appalachia, featured in the Smoky Blue series.

I made my first trip to Eastern Tennessee in 2009 when my son and his family moved there, and it didn’t take me long to fall in love with everything about the Appalachians.  The smoke-enshrouded mountains themselves are majestic-green, covered with tall trees and dotted with farmhouses and barns with quilt patterns painted on the side.  The towns are clean and quaint, with houses built into the sides of hills and downtowns reminiscent of days gone by.  But it wasn’t just the mountains themselves that enchanted me so.  It was the people of the region.  Warm, friendly-I don’t think any of them ever met a stranger, and everybody called me ‘honey’ and asked how my day was going.  I fell in love with the region, and nothing I’ve learned on my many return trips to Appalachia has made me change my mind. 

I also fell in love with the music of the region.  I bought my first mountain dulcimer in Pigeon Forge in 2012.  The vendor gave me a brief demonstration and with my musical background it wasn’t hard to learn.  The mountain dulcimer has the distinction of being the only instrument developed in the continental United States, made in Appalachia by the mountain people and used to play the lilting Celtic tunes and ballads they brought with them from England and Scotland and that are still played by the mountain people today.  I fell in love with the old-time mountain music and the bluegrass music that grew from it, so when I was creating characters in these new stories, they became mountain musicians.  My heroines play the various instruments used in mountain music-the dulcimer, the fiddle, the banjo-as do my heroes.  Bristol, Tennessee-Virginia bills itself as the ‘Birthplace of Country Music’ and the region is a hotbed of bluegrass and mountain music, with venues all along the Blue Ridge Parkway of Virginia and North Carolina.  It was logical and natural that Bristol became the home of Acoustics, the fictional bluegrass nightclub around which the stories take place.

So where did Leilani Mahuiki, a Hawaiian ukulele player come from?  From Hawaii, of course!  I made my first trip to Hawaii in 2013, and yes, fell in love with Hawaii and its signature instrument.  I bought my first ukulele on that trip and learned to play it.  To my surprise, some component of the ukulele was featured at every dulcimer festival we attended, and I began playing ukulele as a backup with a dulcimer band.  This encouraged me to introduce a Hawaiian ukulele player to my fictional band of musicians-if the ukulele sounded great with mountain music for real, it would sound great in my story.  It was fun watching my characters Leilani and Bradley blend the two sounds and two cultures as they fell in love.

So where to next?  Nowhere for the time being!  The next book in the series, ‘Indigo’, is in editing and I have four more Smoky Blue books plotted ready to go.  But at some point, it will be time to move on.  Where, I’m not sure.  Hawaii?  New Orleans?  Back to Texas?  I don’t know just yet.  But wherever my stories go next, you can bet it will be to another place in this world that I love.

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Don’t forget to visit the other stops on the tour.

Author Bio and Links:
Author of thirty romance novels, Emily Mims combined her writing career with a career in public education until leaving the classroom to write full time.  The mother of two sons and grandmother of six, she and her husband Charles live in central Texas but frequently visit grandchildren in eastern Tennessee and Georgia.  She plays the piano, organ, dulcimer, and ukulele and belongs to two performing bands.  She says, “I love to write romances because I believe in them.  Romance happened to me and it can happen to any woman-if she’ll just let it.” 

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  1. Congrats on the tour and thanks for the chance to win :)

  2. Thank you for having me today? Do any of you readers have any questions for me?
    Best, Emily

  3. What books are you looking to read in the future? Thanks for the giveaway. I hope that I win. Bernie W BWallace1980(at)hotmail(d0t)com

  4. AWESOME interview Emily, LOVE the excerpt & the clash of cultures between Leilani and Bradley :)