Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Returning to Harmony (Texas) with Author Jodi Thomas

I’m delighted to welcome author Jodi Thomas back to Thoughts in Progress today as we make a return visit to Harmony, Texas, to discover three great loves stories in BETTING THE RAINBOW, which is slated for release April 1.

Here’s a brief synopsis of this intriguing story set on a small lake just a few miles from Harmony:

       Sisters Abby and Dusti Delaney have spent their entire lives on Rainbow Lane, but they dream of something bigger. So when a poker tournament comes to town, Dusti is determined to win enough money to leave. Enlisting expert Kieron O’Brian to teach her the game, sparks begin to fly as they play their hands. But Kieron refuses to stand in the way of her dream, even if it means losing her forever...
        After a year of traveling, Ronny Logan is settling into a home on Rainbow Lane, but that’s all the settling she’ll be doing. Ronny refuses to fall for anyone, regardless of the chemistry she has with her neighbor Austin Hawk. Yet something undeniable begins to grow between the two loners—if only they can let their barriers fall and open their hearts...

Readers can pre-order BETTING THE RAINBOW at www.jodithomas.com

Jodi joins us now to talk about writing this charming story. Welcome, Jodi.

Part of the great fun of being a writer is that I go new places and meet new people all the time. Sometimes I cry, sometimes I fall in love and sometimes bullets fly. 

Probably the hardest question a writer tries to answer is, “Where do your stories come from?” I’ve written 40 books and I have to say, “I don’t know.” They just come. It’s like I meet someone new in my mind and they tell me their story.

In my new book released April 1, 2014, I first walked into a place I’d never been in my mind. A little lake, too small to be a community, just three houses tucked away in the trees. One a cabin leased by Ronny Logan who simply wants to be alone to grieve. A huge old two story that looks out of place called Hawk House occupied by a man whose spirit is broken. And a small pecan farm run by two sisters who dream of what might have been. 

Betting the Rainbow coverAs each one began to tell me their story, I wove together their dreams and fears in a small town called Harmony, Texas. A charity event at the Truman Farm to raise money for the library draws everyone, carrying their hopes with them. 

Reagan Truman runs the huge event while in the middle of her own crisis. The one man she’s ever loved has come home, but she’s not sure she can accept him and all the baggage he brings. Noah has to do something far braver than riding bulls if he wants to win her back. 

The term “betting the rainbow” is used in poker and means shoving all your chips in on one bet. I did that once in my life when I quit teaching and decided to be a writer. I’d love to know from any of you if there’s been a time when you’ve bet it all for one dream?

Jodi, thanks for joining us today and sharing this look at how Harmony and some of its residents came to be. As a reader, I have to say I’m glad you made that bet to quit teaching and become a writer.

Now for those who aren’t familiar with Jodi, here’s a bit of background on her.

A fifth generation Texan who taught family living, Jodi Thomas chooses to set the majority of her novels in her home state, where her grandmother was born in a covered wagon. A former teacher, Jodi traces the beginning of her storytelling career to the days when her twin sisters were young and impressionable.  

The stories Jodi has committed to paper have earned her an impressive list of distinguished awards. With a degree in Family Studies, Jodi is a marriage and family counselor by education, a background that enables her to write about family dynamics. Honored in 2002 as a Distinguished Alumni by Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Jodi enjoys interacting with students on the West Texas A & M University campus, where she currently serves as Writer In Residence.

Commenting on her contribution to the arts, Jodi said, "When I was teaching classes full time, I thought I was making the world a better place. Now I think of a teacher, or nurse, or mother settling back and relaxing with one of my books. I want to take her away on an adventure that will entertain her. Maybe, in a small way, I'm still making the world a better place."

While the author toured the country speaking to Desk and Derrick clubs about her 2003 novel, THE WIDOWS OF WICHITA COUNTY, the members of various chapters formed a Jodi Thomas Fan Club. The group enthusiastically promotes her novels and public appearances and even volunteers to provide drivers for her out-of-town engagements.

When not working on a novel or inspiring students to pursue a writing career, Jodi enjoys traveling with her husband, Tom; renovating a historic home they bought in Amarillo; and "checking up" on their two grown sons.

For more on Jodi and her writing, visit her website and connect with her on Twitter and Facebook

Here are a couple of reviews for BETTING THE RAINBOW…….

clip_image001Publishers Weekly Review of Betting the Rainbow - Jodi Thomas. Berkley, $7.99 mass market (304p) ISBN 978-0-425-26840-7

        Thomas knocks it out of the park again with her seventh contemporary set in Harmony, Tex. (after Can’t Stop Believing). Ronny Logan and Austin Hawk are looking for peace out by Rainbow Lane. They both have reasons to crave solitude—he’s recovering from injury, she from grief and a year’s travel—so they’re surprised to enjoy each other’s company. Ronny also becomes friends with neighbors Dusti and Abby Delaney, sisters who are counting on a poker tournament to make their dreams come true. As Dusti gets poker lessons from flirtatious Kieran O’Toole, tournament organizer Reagan Truman waits for rodeo rider Noah McAllen, her longtime love interest, to “grow up and man up.” Thomas is a master at creating damaged yet appealing characters, and their expressions of love—as siblings, as friends, as partners—are intense and beautiful. Their paths to happiness are interwoven in an intricate tapestry with the tournament as backdrop, combining in an epic tale of the kind of love that lasts forever. (Apr.)

Review by Vickie Denney at Reader To Reader of Betting the Rainbow (Harmony) by Jodi Thomas.

        Ronny Logan has returned to Harmony after traveling the world for a year. This was one of the things that her late friend, Marty Winslow, wanted her to do with some of the money he bequeathed her. Ronny will always love Marty, but must start a new life; however, she doesn’t know what to do since she has enough money to last her for forever. Marty’s butler and friend, Mr. Carleon, has stayed in Harmony to help Ronny with any and every thing. While she was away, he leased a cottage for her on Rainbow Lane and it sits on a small lake. There are only three houses in that area. Across the lake the Delaney sisters, Abby and Dusti, have a small farm and raise chickens. Hawk House is on Ronny’s side of the lake and currently is housing Austin Hawk.
        Abby had to quit nursing school with only a year to go due to finances after parent’s illnesses. Dusti has entered a local fund raising poker game that sends the winner to Las Vegas to play for a million dollar jack pot. Dusti asks Kiernan O’Toole to teach her the finer points of the game. She hopes to win locally and then win enough in Los Vegas to send Abby back to school. Kiernan will help her but warns her he is also a competitor and he will be hard to beat. The Irishman has loved Dusti forever, it seems, and she is totally unaware…but not for long.
        Austin Hawk is also back in Harmony rehabbing from burns and injuries suffered during a fire. He just wants to be left alone, but Fate has other plans for him. The first night that Austin and Ronny meet had this reviewer hee-hawing. A connection is made between these two lost, wounded, and very sad souls, which evolves into a magnificent relationship.
       Reagan Truman gives Noah McAllen an ultimatum – her or the rodeo. Noah can’t always run from his responsibilities.
      Betting The Rainbow visits so many of the core characters and updates their status. Jodi Thomas has truly outdone herself with this fine, fine story. I know, personally, each and every character in Harmony, Texas and hope to meet many more. They are wonderful, kind, generous, real people with real problems. Be warned that having a box of tissues close by will come in handy. Beautiful stories like Betting The Rainbow don’t come around too often, and reading this tale is like finding a pot of gold.

Thanks so much for joining us today. Have you thought about Jodi’s question? What’s your answer? Here’s her question again: I’d love to know from any of you if there’s been a time when you’ve bet it all for one dream?


  1. Writer in Residence at A&M - impressive. So is a backlist of forty books. That just blows my mind.
    And have I ever bet it all? I've placed a couple big bets, but I'm not a risk taker, so never bet it all. Unless you count when I asked my wife out on the first date. Or to marry me. Maybe I have bet it all...

  2. Mason - Thanks for hosting Jodi.

    Jodi - You have such an interesting family history! And getting specifically to the book, I can see how a poker tournament would make a really effective context for bringing lives together. Thanks for sharing, and I wish you continued success.

    1. Thanks, Margot. I had fun with the poker scene.

  3. Rainbow Lane is a lovely choice for a place to live. Looks like a great story.

    1. I love writing Harmony and Rainbow Lane was fun. A friend actually painted my mailbox to match the one on the cover!

  4. To answer the question - Leaving everything behind in England and moving to America with just two suitcases was betting everything on following a dream.

  5. Jodi, thanks again for visiting with us. Your Harmony series is inviting and a pleasure to read. It's like visiting with new neighbors. Wishing you much success.

    Hi everyone, thanks for stopping by.

    1. Thanks again for hosting me. I always love to blog with you!

  6. congrats to Jodi, such a lovely book cover! I'm currently in a situation to leave everything behind and reinvent myself :) It's super scary and stressful

    1. I loved the cover too, especially the mailbox. I wish you well in your current gamble. Hope it pays off!

  7. Pretty cover.

    I up and moved back to Oregon from Arkansas, and then four months later moved back to Arkansas. Really not sure why I dumped everything a second time to move back to Arkansas but I wouldn't have met my husband if I hadn't.

    I also quit my job and went full time business owner 14 years ago. Definitely no regrets there. Never wanted a J-O-B anyway.

  8. I married a military man. Yep...bet it all. And so happy I did!


I'd love to hear your thoughts on today's post. Thanks for dropping by.