I’m packing up and getting ready for the California Dreamin’ Conference and Book Signing this weekend in Brea, California. One of the perks of my job is that I get to hang out with other fabulous romance authors at workshops and social activities. But this year, they added a Reader Event so I’m even more excited to hang out with Barbara Vey and friends at California Readin’. Some lucky reader is going to win this Sugar Falls Cookie Company Beginner’s Kit… complete with the book that started it all, A Marine For His Mom, Williams-Sonoma baking supplies, and gourmet cookie mixes.
If you weren’t able to get tickets to the event on Saturday, March 25th, you can still come to the book signing afterward. There will be 60 authors there and I’ll be signing copies of The Makeover Prescription and A Family Under The Stars.
Saturday, March 25, 2017
900 E. Birch Street
Brea, CA 92821
Before I met my husband, I’d never slept outside. Never. Not once. My husband, on the other the hand, grew up camping. In fact, my mother-in-law has a very cute picture of him at eight-weeks-old being bathed in a bucket at their campsite. The first time he took me for an overnight stay in the great outdoors, there was such a bad windstorm, we ended up sleeping in the car. Yet he persisted and even went so far as to buy me two sleeping bags (yes, two—one for me and one for him) our first Christmas together.
Over time, my husband’s gift-giving skills have since improved (thankfully) along with my love of camping. Okay, so maybe the word “love” is a bit strong, but I genuinely enjoy our annual “tent-cations” and I think the experience has been amazing for our kids. Last year, my bossy older brother (who always brings his sweet family to join us) convinced us to go whitewater river rafting and the idea for A FAMILY UNDER THE STARS was born!
Alex Russell (who you might remember from previous Sugar Falls books) is a born outdoorsman and wilderness guide. Other than attending a posh and exclusive sleep-away camp in junior high, lifestyle guru Charlotte Folsom isn’t accustomed to venturing too far from the big city. However, when Alex is hired to take Charlotte on a whitewater expedition for her upcoming magazine article, their attraction is stronger than the river current….
Upon hearing the news that they’re expecting, many parents will pray that their child is healthy or smart or doesn’t inherit their father’s freakishly long toes. My pregnancy wish, on the other hand, was for a well-behaved child. Then my son’s first grade teacher requested a special conference to address some “issues” he was having in class and my stomach dropped. I grew up with four brothers, so a little bit of rambunctiousness was normal for me, but when she recommended that we have him tested for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, I remember crying as if the diagnosis was a terminal illness. I had such engrained preconceptions about ADHD, thinking this was something parents made up to excuse their child’s poor behavior.
But then I started researching it. I got every book from my public library and bought several from the store. I read online articles, spoke with experts in the field, and joined community forums. One particular book that spoke to me was The Gift of ADHD by Lara Honos-Webb. By the time I got through reading it, I was actually hoping that all the tests administered by the pediatrician, neurologist, and clinical psychologist revealed that my son had this disorder I’d once dreaded.
Like Dr. Julia Fitzgerald explains to Kane Chatterson in The Makeover Prescription, we told our son that he had a super fast racecar brain, which was a good thing, but sometimes he might need help slowing down when it was time to make turns or come into the pit stop. Kane has always been ashamed of his hyperactivity, using an aloof façade to mask his insecurity around Julia, a genius neurosurgeon. Yet sometimes, it takes a special person with a positive insight to see the good in us before we can believe it ourselves.
The Makeover Prescription is now available in stores and on e-books. Chat with me on Twitter at @ChristyJeffries or find me on Facebook and Instagram. I’d love to hear from you.
Remember when I said I had big news? Well, I finally got the okay to announce it. I just signed another three-book deal with Harlequin for more Sugar Falls stories!! The release dates aren’t set yet (they’re still in the idea and plotting stages), but if you have a favorite Sugar Falls resident you’d like to see make a guest appearance, now’s the time to let me know…
Don’t get me wrong, I love Back To School time more than anyone–and I have the student loans to prove it. I get excited when that school supply list comes out and I get to strategize where to get the best deals on spiral notebooks and Ticonderoga #2 pencils. My master organizational skills reach peak performance during the month of August when I ruthlessly go through my children’s clothes, sorting out what still fits and how many new superhero t-shirts I’ll have to buy to replace those beloved Batman pajamas that haven’t covered my son’s belly button for the past six months. I check the school websites regularly (read: obsessively) to find out which teacher my kids will be assigned to, and then I stayed glued to my phone as my mom friends blow up the group texts discussing who is going to be in Room 18 (the prime classroom with reliable A/C and a direct path to the bathrooms) and who got stuck in the modular trailers out behind the handball court.
I’m even pumped up on that first day, taking the obligatory pictures of my kids in their brand new backpacks, waving at Jackson H.’s dad (who is going to hit me up to count Box Tops at the next PTO meeting if I actually engage in conversation with him) and commiserating with Ava’s mom (who is upset that her daughter got assigned to the mean teacher that requires parents to fill out homework logs every night).
And oh my gosh, all that free time to do errands and get my nails done and sneak those too-tight Batman pajamas into the Goodwill bin… It was invigorating and blissful at the same time. Then, after pick-up, I pour over the syllabus and every single flyer that comes home in that first weekly envelope and stock up on my son’s favorite Lunchables (ham and American cheese-bleh!) and fill out those “Getting To Know You” forms as if they’re Ivy League college applications.
To all the parents who were singing hallelujah as they peeled rubber out of that school parking lot, I was right there with you. Until I wasn’t. Because now, the routine sets in and I’m starting to panic that the summer was too short. That my kids are growing up too fast. That I’ll spend my weekdays alone, eating the hated snack-sized bags of white cheddar Cheez-Its abandoned in the back of my pantry, with nothing but old episodes of Teen Titans Go on the DVR to keep me company. (Disclaimer: I know limited time flavor Cheez-Its and cartoons sound pathetic but it’s either that or drink wine while I watch Real Housewives. And, let’s face it, Vicki Gunvalson isn’t going to come bail me out of jail if I get popped for a DUI while on carpool duty.)
So instead of working on my next book, I’m sitting here missing my kiddos and wishing we still had one more week to go to the beach, to hang out at the pool with friends, to eat dripping ice cream cones in the hot sun while wearing our damp bathing suits. And I’m circling June 8 on my calendar, writing in the brightest red pen I can find, “BACK TO SUMMER!”
Writing The Matchmaking Twins was so much fun for me, especially because I got to channel so much energy into my eight-year-old characters, Aiden and Caden Gregson. I have two boys (not twins) who’ve caused plenty of mischief and have taught me to cringe every time their school phone number pops up on my caller ID.
But even more compelling for me was to write about Nana Gregson and Abuela. Luke, the hero, had a favorite relative he’d connected to early on during his childhood and Carmen, the police officer heroine in this story, is not about to be outdone by Luke’s bond with his Nana. She invokes quite a few of her own recollections and favorite expressions of her insightful grandmother.
These scenes made me realize that many of us have specific expressions, smells or songs that trigger memories of certain loved ones. Like Luke, I sought solace away from my gaggle of brothers by spending quality time with my Aunt Mary Jane. She taught me how to roll hair curlers, how to scour a kitchen sink, and how to light her cigarettes for her so she could keep both her nervous hands on the steering wheel of her ’74 Lincoln Continental. To this day, the smell of Ponds Cold Cream, Soft Scrub Bleach and Kent 100s always make me think of her.