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Writing Faith & Family


I love character driven stories.


In An Angel For Christmas, Garrett owns the local saloon. He's been around Silver Bay from almost the beginning of the series, appearing first in Saving Drew.

As I wrote the Endicotts of Silver Bay series, Garrett kept coming to mind. He needed a story. I didn't want him to just be "the guy who owns and runs the saloon" anymore. I wanted him to find love.

The more I wrote the character of Angelica Endicott, the more I knew her spice and energy were just what Garrett needed. I had described him in earlier books as keeping to himself and even a bit grumpy, but nice and mostly misunderstood.

A perfect match for Angelica.

As I write, stories and characters tend to surprise me. At first I thought I would connect more with Angelica, maybe because I had written her into the other Endicott books so she was foremost in my mind. But writing An Angel For Christmas ended up being more about discovering Garrett's story than Angelica's.

Garrett is just my kind of hero. Quiet. Giving. Great dad to his daughter. Selfless, always putting his family first. As fun as it was to write him as a bit of a grump, I loved having Angelica be the one to see the real Garrett. The gentle spirit who wouldn't mind finding love.

This series is one I have greatly enjoyed writing. I'm sad to say goodbye to these characters, but who knows? Maybe there are more things to come for those in Silver Bay...


Happy Reading,

Lara


An Angel For Christmas

Excerpt


Garrett flipped on the lights in his office and tossed his keys on his desk. While mornings were quiet at the saloon, this early in the day was even more so. However, a noise above his head caused him to stop and listen. The sound of footsteps made the hair on the back of his neck stand up. Someone was in the saloon.

With as much stealth as possible, he made his way through the door that led to the bar. Silver Bay was a safe town. Everyone knew everyone and doors were left unlocked everywhere. The thought of someone in his bar this early in the morning to rob him wasn’t rational. Yet he couldn’t deny what he heard.

As he stepped around the bar, the footsteps became rhythmic, and the sound of music made its way downstairs from the balcony up above.

Someone was in his bar listening to music and…dancing?

Garrett made his way up the stairs, still on alert because he had zero idea of what he was about to find. As he turned when he reached the balcony, his mind certainly wasn’t prepared for what he saw.

Angelica was dressed in jeans, old tennis shoes, and a black top that hugged her curves and was splattered with paint. Her hair was jumbled up on top of her head in a way that looked messy, as well as super sexy. He’d only seen her with her hair down and brushed perfectly. This somewhat disheveled look fit her well.

A small speaker sat on a table with her phone next to it. The source of the music. Two cups from Jamie’s Java sat beside. Angelica sang along, something about what happened last Christmas. Her back to him, she danced her way toward a ladder that stood near the far wall, a paint brush in hand that she waved above her head. He bit back a laugh at how many paint flecks were coming from it and landing in her hair.

He took a moment to appreciate the woman before him, watching as each step of the ladder she climbed was a dance step. It was clear she’d shown up even earlier than he had to get started on the upstairs. How she’d dragged all the stuff she needed to do so inside and upstairs by herself, he had no clue. But this was Angelica, and from what he’d seen of her so far, she had a strong will and believed there was always a way.

Not only that, but she also moved without any inhibitions, dancing as if no one was watching. Although in all fairness, she didn’t know anyone was watching. Aware that if he waited any longer, he ran the risk of frightening her or reaching creeper status, he cleared his throat to let her know he was there. The volume of the music must have kept her from hearing him because she continued to wiggle to the music as much as was possible while standing on a ladder and painting a wall.

He moved closer, hoping she would hear him and not get startled.

He cleared this throat again and said, “You’re here early.”

“Oh!” She jumped, the paintbrush falling from her hand. As her body twisted to face him, her foot caught on the rung of the ladder, and she lost her balance.

On instinct, Garrett made it next to the ladder just in time for Angelica to fall right into his arms.

This time, there was no apology by her, no pulling back to dust off dirt. This time, he had his arms around her waist, her hands pressed up against his chest. Their eyes met and held.

“We keep bumping into each other,” she said, the corners of her mouth turning up in a smile.

Every witty response Garrett had in his mind vanished. All he could see were those eyes of hers. The greenish-blue ocean depths he wanted to swim in for days. A lock of her hair had fallen over her forehead. He tucked it behind her ear then cupped her face in his hand.

Without another thought, he leaned down and pressed his lips to hers.




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I am asked often what inspires me in my writing. And my answer is always the same - music. Yes, I like to sit and watch people, create characters in my head and make up stories from there, but when I listen to music, I see scenes in my mind that then end up in my books.


Country music tends to be the top genre for me. Until I Met You, the third book in my Endicotts of Silver Bay series which releases July 20th, I wrote a scene where the heroine, Rachel Anderson, sings karaoke with her friends. That scene was inspired by Cole Swindell's She Had Me At Heads Carolina. I heard that song and all the details came to mind then made it to the page.


With this in mind, and as a fun part of release day of Until I Met You, I want to share the playlist I created while writing this book.


 

Until I Met You Playlist

Happy Does by Kenny Chesney

She Had Me At Heads Carolina by Cole Swindell

Heads Carolina, Tails California by Jo Dee Messina

Beautiful People by Ed Sheeran (feat, Khalid)

Think A Little Less by Michael Ray

Church In A Chevy by Jordan Davis

Setting The World On Fire by Kenny Chesney (with P!nk)

 

Until I Met You

When his parents move to Silver Bay, California, Dominic Endicott, ever the dutiful son, packs up his life and heads to the small town. He sees it as temporary, appeasing his mother and making sure his dad's health is stable while Dominic keeps the family business running. Dominic planned on keeping his head down, focused only on working and spending time with his family. Until a beautiful brunette forces him to look up.

Local Chaplain and community center employee Rachel Anderson loves her little town that she's called home for the past year. Silver Bay is a far cry from her life growing up in LA, and that's perfectly fine with her. When she mistakes newcomer Dominic for her friend, Chet, her simple, curated life becomes complicated.


Excerpt

It took effort for Dominic to stay focused on the conversation. The mayor and Hannah had their heads together over a list she was making, giving Dominic a minute to think through the short interaction with Rachel.

He was still wrapping his head around the fact that Rachel had flirted with him and had even winked, making her more appealing than ever.

Women flirted with him all the time, but this was different. For one, brief moment, Rachel had let go of the always-in-control demeanor she had going and been playful with a side of sass.

It was sexy and sweet at the same time, and Dominic wanted more of it.

So much more.

After his cheesy comment about the sweetness of coffee, combined with his not-so-smooth move at the bakery the other day, flirting from her was the last thing he expected. Or deserved, quite frankly. Dominic was known to be smooth and quick-witted, but Rachel had him tripping over every word he uttered. What sounded good in his head came out like a pickup line an eighth grader might use.

“So, this is good then,” Hannah was saying. “I will work with Eva on places in town donating food items and beverages to sell while you and Rachel can get going on finding volunteers to run the events and games.” Hannah pointed a finger back and forth at Dominic and Rachel. “We can use booths from past festivals so no need to build any, but we may need help moving those from storage, as well as setting up once we get closer.”

Everyone nodded in agreement, although Dominic noticed Rachel’s nod wasn’t enthusiastic. She still seemed to not know quite what to do with him yet. He had a few ideas, but his promise to Chet flashed through his mind. He had no intention of toying with Rachel in any way. He’d been legitimately offended when his brother had insinuated Dominic might do anything to hurt Rachel. Dominic had been a true gentleman with the women he’d dated in the past, and although rankled by his brother’s comments, he knew what Chet meant. Dominic didn’t do serious relationships. Mainly because work took up most of his time. Or maybe it was because he hadn’t met anyone that made him want one. Until now.

Was he drawn to Rachel because of a desire for something deeper than what he’d had in the past? Or did she just pique his interest more than most women?

Everyone said their good-byes, their marching orders given to them by Hannah. Dominic hugged his sister, shook the mayor’s hand, and waved to Hannah and Abby as they strolled away. He turned to see Rachel sitting at a picnic table. She had said her good-byes before him and must have snuck over there without him noticing. Her backpack sat beside her on the bench, her head bent over a notepad, one hand on the plastic cup of coffee he’d gotten her.

He tucked his legs under the table and sat on the bench across from her.

“How did you know what kind of coffee I like?” The genuine smile she gave him warmed his insides.

“Lucky guess.” He leaned in closer, his elbows on the table with his hands clasped in front of him. “And I may have bribed the barista at the coffee shop for information.”

“Or flirted it out of her.”

Oh yes, the sassy side of her was fast becoming something he enjoyed.

He shrugged. “Same thing…”

Rachel laughed. He tilted his head and soaked in the sound, only in that moment realizing it was the first time he’d heard her laugh. At the firehouse when they’d met, she was upset with him for fooling her into thinking he was Chet, and at the diner with Eva, she was so focused on keeping her composure, she’d barely smiled. Now, she had smiled and laughed. It was his lucky day.

He couldn’t help but notice how relaxed she was outdoors. Her eyes were bright, her cheeks rosy from the warmth of the day, and her shoulders relaxed. It was as if the sun melted away the layers she used to shield herself. But shield herself from what?

“I’m just taking some notes on all that Hannah said.” She tapped her notepad with the pen in her hand.

“Kicking it old school, huh?”

She shrugged. “Hannah may live and die by her tablet, but I have always loved pen and paper. There are actual studies that show a direct connection between the brain and the hand as you write…” She shook her head. “Sorry.”

“Sorry for what?”

“I tend to share random information I find interesting.”

“Which is awesome.”

She smiled. “Not everyone has that opinion.”

“Your opinion is the one that matters. If you find something interesting, then say it.”

She narrowed her eyes and shook her head but didn’t respond. Instead, she turned her attention to her notepad. “Historically, the fire department is a big part of moving the booths as well as setting up for festivals, so I’m guessing you’d be down for talking to Chet?”

“Sure. I’ll take a turn in the dunking booth as well.”

Her head snapped up from her paper with that, and again with the narrowing of the eyes.

“I understand you want to know more about me, but you don’t need to keep narrowing your eyes at me, sizing me up.” He leaned back and put his arms out. “If you want to know something, just ask.”

She set her pen down and leaned back as well. Crossing her arms in front of her, she said, “Okay. Why are you so dressed up for a meeting at a playground?”

He laughed out loud. “That was not at all a question I thought you’d lead with. Maybe I like to dress up when I hang from the jungle gym.”

Her eyebrows lifted, daring him to be serious.

He leaned toward her again. “Fine. If you must know, I had a video conference call before this, and with the business I do, a T-shirt and sport shorts is frowned upon. However, if you can keep a secret, I have been known to do those calls dressed appropriately up top, but sport shorts comfortable on the bottom.”

“That’s fair.” She chuckled and picked up her pen again.

“That’s it? That’s all you wanted to know about me?”

Once more, she tapped her pen on her notepad. “Weren’t you worried about your shoes when you stepped into the sandbox?”

What was with this woman and his clothing?

“I was not. They are just shoes, and come on, who can resist a sandbox? I mean, seriously.”

“Once a little boy, always a little boy.”

He had a sense there was more to that statement than she was letting on, but he decided not to dig into it right then.

“Maybe.”

“Hmph,” was her only reply. Along with continuing to write out a list on her paper.

“I’ll tell you what. I need to get going.”

“Another conference call?” she asked, not looking up.

“As a matter of fact, yes. Why don’t we get together this weekend?”

That got her to look at him.

“It seems we have a lot to discuss.” A glance down at what she was writing added to his comment. “Let’s set a time to do so.”

“Okay. Sunday afternoon works for me. I go to church in the morning and stay after for a bit to talk to people if they need me, but I’m free after that.”

“Perfect. Sunday it is.” He stood, untangling his legs from the picnic table bench. “Text me a place and time. I’m new here so I’ll have to trust your judgment.”

“How about the bakery? Cookies and coffee are a nice way to start a relationship, and someone sweet like me loves a good cookie.”

Did she just bat her eyelashes at him while tossing his two worst lines back at him?

She did.

Oh yes, this side of Rachel Anderson he was absolutely going to like getting to know better.

“The bakery it is.”



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Updated: Nov 16, 2022


Christmas is absolutely my favorite time of year. Well, beginning in October and all the way through December is essentially my favorite. I'm in a pretty darn good mood during those months.


But there truly is something magical about Christmas. Whether it's the lights or the decorations, or change in weather with snow falling (at least I now live where we get snow - also something I love), the spirit of Christmas brings joy.


It's probably easy to guess that writing Christmas stories is also at the top of my list of favorites. And writing Christmas Cakes and Kisses, Book 2 in the Endicotts of Silver Bay Series (November 29th), is definitely included.


Eva Endicott is the sister of Chet who appears in Love At Meg's Diner. (Book 1) She is happy with her job at Baylee's Bakery but has a dream of owning her own cake business someday.


Tyler Vance is a personal trainer for professional baseball pitcher, Drew MacIntire. Tyler lives in Silver Bay because Drew made the town home, and he's been content with the rigorous travel schedule that comes with his job.


Then he meets Eva. Helping her achieve her dream of having her own business draws him more and more to wanting to put down roots and make Silver Bay home.


One of the things I love about writing stories is brainstorming with friends and family about characters. The journalist in me loves to ask a ton of questions. Get to the heart of what my characters think, believe, want or don't want.

I've had the chance to ride along with friends who are police officers, as well as interview a friend of mine who is a professional race car driver. I've listened over coffee as a girlfriend shares with me what it's like to be married to a Navy Seal. Every time I write I want to be sure to get a true feel for a character I'm writing.


In Christmas Cakes and Kisses, Tyler works as a personal trainer, but when it came to creating his backstory, I got stuck. While walking with one of my son's one day, we got talking about professional wrestling. He loves the sport and has invested years of interest in it. He's also a big guy like Tyler, so I was inspired. By the time we finished our walk, I knew that I wanted Tyler to have a background in professional wrestling and so began a wonderful part of the writing process for me - working with my son on details and essentially creating the life of Tyler Vance.


To write Tyler alongside Eva was too much fun. Because he's a really big guy there are a handful of times that being in a bakery alongside Eva, as he learns to make cookies and cakes, becomes somewhat comical. But don't worry, there's plenty of romance between those two as well.


Silver Bay is a setting close to my heart and I feel the same way about the Endicott family. I hope you do too as you read Tyler and Eva's story.


May your holiday season be filled with lots of time to read, as well as Christmas cakes and kisses.


Happy Reading,

Lara

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