Sunday, November 16, 2014

Promo: Color of the Season By Julianne Maclean

Thank you for joining us for The Color of the Season Promotional Event, with Julianne MacLean and Wordsmith Publicity! Visit the tour homepage to follow all the participating blogs.

Title: The Color of the Season (Color of Heaven #7)
Author: Julianne MacLean
Age: Adult
Genre: Contemporary Women's Fiction

From USA Today bestselling author Julianne MacLean comes the next installment in her popular Color of Heaven series - a gripping, emotional tale about real life magic that touches us all during the holiday season…

Boston cop, Josh Wallace, is having the worst day of his life. First, he’s dumped by the woman he was about to propose to, then everything goes downhill from there when he is shot in the line of duty. While recovering in the hospital, he can’t seem to forget the woman he wanted to marry, nor can he make sense of the vivid images that flashed before his eyes when he was wounded on the job. Soon, everything he once believed about his life begins to shift when he meets Leah James, an enigmatic resident doctor who somehow holds the key to both his past and his future…

Excerpt 1 - from Chapter 6

  Running at a fast clip down the off ramp, I radioed in my location and followed the perp into an auto body repair shop parking lot.
  I was breathing heavily by then, aware of the sound of my rapid footfalls across the pavement, splashing through puddles.
  The suspect disappeared around the back of the building. I followed briskly, pausing at the corner to check my weapon and peer out to make sure he wasn’t positioned there, waiting for me.
  He had gained some distance and was scrambling up and over a chain-link fence. I immediately resumed my pursuit and climbed the fence to propel myself over.
  Inside the repair shop, a dog barked viciously. An outdoor light flicked on, illuminating the rear lot. I was almost over the fence when a door opened and a large German shepherd was released from within. He came bounding toward me, barking and growling.
  I dropped to the ground on the other side of the fence.
  “Police officer in pursuit of a suspect!” I shouted at the man who followed his dog across the lot.
  “He’s heading that way!” the man helpfully replied, pointing, but I didn’t stop to acknowledge his assistance because the suspect was escaping toward a residential area across the street.
  “Stop! Police!” I shouted.
  To my surprise, just as the shooter reached a low hedge in front of a small bungalow…instead of jumping over it, he halted on the spot and whirled around.
  I trained my gun on him. “Drop your weapon!”
  He raised both arms out to the side.
  “I said drop your weapon!”
  I blinked a few times to clear my vision in the blur of the rain. Then…crack!
  A searing pain shot through my stomach, just below the bottom of my vest. Then another crack! I felt my thigh explode.
  Somehow I managed to fire off a few rounds before sinking to the ground. The suspect did the same.
  In that instant, two squad cars came skidding around the corner, sirens wailing and lights flashing.    
  Slowly, wearily, finding it difficult to breathe, I lay down on my back in the middle of the street and removed my hat as I stared up at the gray night sky. A cold hard rain washed over my face. I began to shiver.
  Vaguely, I was aware of the other two units pulling to a halt nearby. I turned my head to watch two officers in raincoats approach the suspect, who was face down in the ditch in front of the hedge.
  Then rapid footsteps, growing closer…
  “Josh, are you okay?”
  I looked up at Gary, a rookie who had offered me a stick of gum in the break room before I’d headed out that night. I nodded my head, but felt woozy. “I think I’m hit.”
  “Yeah,” he replied, glancing uneasily at my abdomen. “Help’s on the way. Hang in there, buddy. You’re going to be fine.”
  Feeling chilled to the bone, I shook my head. “I don’t think so.”
  By now Gary was applying pressure to my stomach, which hurt like hell. He shouted over his shoulder, “Need some help over here!”
  I clenched my jaw against the burning agony in my guts and leg, and heard more sirens.
  “Will they be here soon?” I asked with a sickening mixture of panic and dread.
  “Yeah,” Gary replied. “Any second now. Just hang on.”
  “It’s cold,” I whispered. “I should have worn the raincoat.”
  More footsteps.
  Another cop knelt down beside me.
  I labored to focus on his face.
  “MacIntosh,” I said. “Can you call Carla for me? Tell her I’m sorry about this morning. Tell her I love her. I didn’t mean what I said. I should have walked her to the door.”
  “You can tell her yourself,” MacIntosh replied.
  His patronizing response roused a wave of anger in me.
  “No.” I grabbed his wrist and spoke through clenched teeth. “I need you to promise me… Promise me you’ll tell her, or I swear I’ll knock your head off.”
  “All right, all right,” he replied. “I’ll tell her.”
  That was the last thing I remembered from that day.
  What happened next was strange and incredible. From that moment on, my life became divided into two halves—everything that happened before the shooting, and everything that happened after.

Excerpt 2 - from chapter 21
  I am constantly amazed by the resilience of the human body, and more importantly the human spirit. Three days after waking from a five-day coma as a result of two gunshot wounds and major surgery, I was walking steadily—albeit slowly—on a treadmill.
  At this rate, the doctors told me it wouldn’t be long before I would be discharged. Surprisingly, I had mixed feelings about that.
  “Every time you come to see me,” I said to Leah one evening after visiting hours were over, “you ask questions about my life and how I feel about this or that. I answer your questions and you scribble things down in my chart. Then you run off because you have some other patient to see. Is it possible that we could have a conversation where you’re not talking to me as a patient? Could you just be Leah, the girl I knew when we were kids?”
  Her expression warmed. She checked her watch and laid her clipboard down on the windowsill. “I suppose I’m due for a break. What would you like to talk about?”

Excerpt 3 - from chapter 36
  A few minutes before the end of my karate class, Jim came at me with a massive loud, “Kia!” He lunged aggressively with a punch to my face—as he’d done a thousand times before.
  With a flick of my wrist, his hand and all his momentum was thrown off. I grabbed his shoulder, kicked his leg out from under him and dropped him flat on his face. Before he had a chance to register what had occurred, I punched at the back of his head with a forceful yell, stopping within an inch. In karate, it’s called ‘going in for the kill.’
  Though we were both breathing hard, Jim rolled over onto his back with a big smile. “Nice.”
  I wiped the perspiration from my brow, grinned down at him and offered my hand to help him up.
  In that instant, something caught my eye near the door. It was Josh, dressed in a black leather jacket, his hands buried deep in the pockets of his faded blue jeans. He was leaning casually against the door jamb, watching me.
  Tall, dark, broad-shouldered and fit, he was hands down, by far, the most attractive man I’d ever laid eyes on. I’d thought so the moment I opened my door to find him standing on my front porch the previous day, but I’d been suffering a very low moment of grief and wasn’t inclined to swoon at any man’s feet.
  When I covered him with the blanket on my parents’ sofa at 4:30 that morning, I must have stared at him, enraptured, for a full ten minutes before finally going off to bed.
  Now here he was again, waiting to talk to me, and I could barely catch my breath—which had nothing to do with my workout. Our eyes met, and it happened again. Time seemed to stand still, my blood slowed to a smooth pulsing motion in my veins and I felt a strange, relaxing warmth flow to all my extremities.
  “You know that guy?” Jim asked as I realized he was staring at Josh, too.
  “Yeah, he’s an old family friend.” Though one could argue I’d only just met him the day before.
  “Too bad you didn’t notice him standing there sixty seconds ago or you would have been the one landing on your face just now.”
  I smiled and nudged Jim in the ribs with my forearm. “Go take a shower.”
  “No, you take a shower,” he replied, “and better make it a cold one.”
  “You’re bad,” I teased as he sauntered off to the locker room.
  In bare feet, dressed in my white, black belted Gi, I took a deep breath and stepped off the blue practice mat. Strolling slowly to meet Josh at the edge of the floor, I struggled to find the right, socially appropriate words to greet him.
  “Thanks for coming,” I said.
  “Thanks for texting me,” he replied, then he gestured toward the blue mats. “That was impressive. Would it be wrong of me to say I’m incredibly turned on right now?”
  The mere sound of his voice caused my blood to quicken. “Would it be wrong to say I’m incredibly flattered?”
  “No,” he replied with some amusement. “Want to get out of here?”
  “Definitely. If you don’t mind waiting for me to take a quick shower?”
  His chest rose and fell with a heavy, teasing sigh. “I’ll do my best to be patient.”
  And I’ll do my best to keep my head on straight, I thought as I made my way to the locker room.

Excerpt 4 - from chapter 50

  Nearly two weeks after our confrontation with Holly’s parents, I had the dream again.
  I was driving through the rain, alone in my patrol car, wipers beating back and forth, lights flashing. As I rounded a sharp curve, a woman pushed a baby carriage out in front of me.
  I slammed a foot on the brake pedal. My tires skidded over the shiny pavement. Whack! I hit the carriage. It flew into the air.
  The baby, swaddled in a white blanket, bounced like a football over the hood of my car and smashed the windshield. I watched everything as if it were happening in slow motion, then squinted to try and refocus my eyes on the road.
  I was still traveling at full speed.
  She stood on the center line, feet braced apart, both hands splayed out in front of her.
  “Stop!” She mouthed the words: “Go back!” Then she vanished before connecting with my grill.
  I pulled the car to screeching a halt, looked over my shoulder to see the mother on her knees at the side of the road, reaching for her baby.
  I shifted into reverse to help them.
  I sat bolt upright in bed.
  It took me a moment to understand where I was. Holly was rubbing my back, stroking her fingers through my sweat-drenched hair, speaking urgently.
  “It was just a dream, Josh. You’re fine. Everything’s okay.”
  My heart pummelled my ribcage as I lay back down. She kissed my forehead, then wrapped her arm around me and snuggled close.
  I shut my eyes and tried to go back to sleep, but it was no use. I had to get up.

Julianne's Favorite Quotes from The Color of the Season
“I still wasn’t sure if she thought I was insane and was just humoring me, or if she believed there was something real about all this.” - Josh Wallace, The Color of the Season
“I thought people who believed in their ‘higher selves’ weren’t operating on all four cylinders. I thought I knew everything about who and what we are—that when we die, it’s game over; pure nothingness—but now I feel completely…humbled.” - Josh Wallace, The Color of the Season
“A year ago I would have come up with some sort of rational explanation for that, but after everything that’s happened to me, I’m beginning to accept that maybe some things just happen, and they aren’t meant to be explained.” - Josh Wallace, The Color of the Season
“There’s nothing concrete about love or the soul. No way to prove either actually exists. You can’t touch love or reduce it down to a mathematical equation.” - Josh Wallace, The Color of the Season

** This is book 7 in the Color of Heaven series, but can be read as a stand alone. **

Purchase The Color of the Season

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About Julianne MacLean
Julianne MacLean is a USA Today bestselling author who has sold more than 1.3 million books in North America, and her novels have also been translated into many foreign languages, including Spanish, German, Portugese, French, Japanese, Turkish, Russian, and Dutch. She has written twenty historical romance novels, including the bestselling Highlander Trilogy with St. Martin's Press and her popular Pembroke Palace Series with Avon/Harper Collins. She also writes contemporary mainstream fiction, and THE COLOR OF HEAVEN was a USA Today bestseller. She is a three-time RITA finalist and has won numerous awards, including the Booksellers' Best Award, the Book Buyers Best Award, and a Reviewers' Choice Award from Romantic Times for Best Regency Historical of 2005. She has a degree in English Literature from the University of King’s College in Halifax, and a degree in Business Administration from Acadia University. She lives in Nova Scotia with her husband and daughter, and is a dedicated member of Romance Writers of Atlantic Canada.

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 Author Interview with Julianne MacLean

Where did the idea for The Color of Heaven series come from?

It’s funny, some author friends of mine keep a giant folder full of ideas for stories they would like to write someday, but that’s what I struggle with the most—coming up with the concept for even one book. Once I have it, I can flesh it out and write it fairly quickly, but I have to dig deep and hard to find the first kernel of the story idea.

There is no big fat file folder full of book ideas in my house.

As far as this particular series goes, when I began it, I’d been writing historical romances for ten years and wanted to write something contemporary, just for a change, creatively. Two of the major events in the novel THE COLOR OF HEAVEN actually happened to me. (My daughter became seriously ill at the age of three, and I had a car accident very much like the one I describe in the book.)

I think a part of me wanted to explore the “what if” question in relation to both of those events: What if I had died during the crash?  What if my daughter hadn’t survived? So, while the book is a work of fiction, a lot of it, including the main character’s thoughts and feelings, came from my real life experiences.

Originally I had written the book as a standalone novel, but I received so many letters from readers asking me to write more stories like it, I knew I had to figure out a way to turn it into a series.  

What were the challenges (research, psychological, and logistical) in bringing this story or characters to life?

The Color of the Season is the story of a Boston police officer, Josh Wallace, who gets dumped by his girlfriend in the opening scene. That was a challenge because the girlfriend who dumps him was the heroine of the previous book, and I didn’t want her to become unlikable. (Sadly, not all relationships can work out, but it doesn’t mean the people involved are bad people when they choose to end it. They just weren’t the right fit.)

Josh gets shot later that night when he pulls over a suspicious looking vehicle on the road, and like Sophie Duncan in The Color of Heaven, he has a near-death experience while undergoing surgery to remove the bullets. I’d done research on the subject for The Color of Heaven, but that was a number of years ago, so I had to read up on the topic again to make sure I depicted the experience accurately and realistically.

There are also a few twists and turns in this story that are always a challenge to execute. It can be difficult to gage how much information to hold back from the reader so they won’t see certain things coming. I love hearing from readers who say: “I didn’t see that coming at all!”

I also like to write stories where the reader will feel an urge to go back and reread the book a second time to pick up on clues that were there all along, but they didn’t recognize them on the first read.

What was the easiest part of writing The Color of the Season?

The easiest scene to write was the one where Josh chases the suspect who shot his partner.  It was pure physical action and I always find those scenes move quickly as I’m writing them.

What is your favorite scene or was your favorite to write? Don’t forget to tell us why.

This is difficult to answer without giving away spoilers. I’ll try to do it…  My favorite scene to write was Josh’s memory of being ten years old and holding a baby in his arms for the first time. I love that I was able to explore the gentler side of this virile, brave cop, and I also loved that he was sensitive enough to recognize that the event was a profound experience in his life, even if he didn’t understand why at the time.

What’s next for you writing wise that you can share with us?

I’m about to start writing The Color of Joy which is book 8 in this series.  It will revolve around a secondary character from Season - Leah’s wayward brother Riley who had a difficult adolescence and later spent some time in prison. Again, it’s hard to share much without giving away spoilers for Season, so I’ll leave it at that, because half the fun of this series is not knowing what’s around the next bend!

I also have another Highlander book to write, as my readers have been begging me to add to the Highlander trilogy my publisher released in 2011. I’ll be releasing Return of the Highlander in June 2015.

Which books have most influenced your life?

As far as fiction goes, Jane Eyre was the book that got me truly hooked on literature - especially the kinds of books that explored a deep, tension-filled love story. I was in first year university at the time, and I loved it so much that I decided to major in English. As soon as I graduated, I dove into the modern day historical romance genre, and I was so inspired, I was driven to write one!  
As far as non-fiction goes, here is a book that everyone should read: The Wealthy Barber. It’s about how to manage your money throughout your life, and it’s surprisingly entertaining. It has influenced the way I live and spend—and save!

What is the first book you remember reading by yourself?
I have a very bad memory, so this is tough. As a young child, I remember the images from Make Way For Ducklings and Go, Dog Go. The first novel I remember being passionate about was Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret by Judy Blume. I was about twelve years old when I read it. And then Forever, also by Judy Blume, really rocked my adolescent world.

What are you reading right now?
I just finished Gone Girl (I wanted to finish it before I saw the movie). I’m not sure what I’m going to read next. I don’t usually read while I’m writing a book because I need to keep my head in my own story world. But every time I finish writing a book, I take a break and read one. I’m up for suggestions!

What do you think makes a good story?
I get very bored with predictable plot lines and predictable characters.  I like to read things that are fresh and different, and I like to be surprised—not just by the action, but by the choices the characters make, or the private thoughts they have.
I also like to experience the atmosphere of a book in terms of the setting. I want to feel as if I’m really there, and for that, I don’t need big blocks of description—just subtle references to the setting sprinkled skillfully throughout. I love it when I’m out walking, weeks or even years after reading a book, and a memory from that story world flashes into my mind because of a scent in the air or something that catches my eye. Those are the books that really stand out for me and remain on my keeper shelf.

Who would you consider your favorite author and why?
Such a tough question!  My favorite author in the historical romance genre would be Mary Balogh because she writes such complex, realistic characters, but it’s really difficult to narrow that down as I have so many other favorite historical romance authors.
I also love Jodi Picoult and Susanna Kearsley.

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