DARING TO FALL releases next week and I can’t be any more excited for you guys to meet hunky fireman, Ben McQuaid. Just something to get you ready!
I love to talk with people, about anything. Ask anyone. In fact, my sister’s nickname for me (which has spread to the entire family using it now) is “Google.” But there is one thing I’ve noticed, I don’t like to talk about myself much. So, in an effort to help you get to know me a bit better, I’ll answer some of the most frequent questions I get from readers (from various places).
1) Why T.J. Kline?
T.J. Kline is a pen name. When I first began, I didn’t see writing as something I would make a career out of, even though I wanted to. I was simply pursuing something I loved. I never took into account that, with my love for romance, there were so many genres. I first published the Journey Series under my real name. Afterward, when Rodeo Queen was picked up, I knew that I didn’t want readers confusing my religious romance series with my western series. One does not have sex scenes (but plenty of love) and one does. So, in an effort to not confuse readers, or end up with them getting something they weren’t expecting, I separated the two. As a future warning, don’t be surprised if other pen names pop up. I have a lot of things I want to work on in various genres, even outside romance.
2) Are you really a cowgirl?
This is one of those answers that is subjective because it depends on your definition of a “cowgirl.” My definition would be someone who works on a ranch, with cattle, regularly, or “rodeos” regularly. However, I’ve found that most people equate anyone who has ever ridden a horse to be a “real” cowgirl. In that instance, I suppose I am. I was born in the city, raised there most of my life, but always had a desire to ride. When I was thirteen, my parents finally caved and we got a horse, boarding it locally. Until one horse turning into four. Then we moved to “the country.” A little five acre place (where my parents still live). I used to show horses (both English and Western) and trained race horses. I rode for a horseback drill team for four years (technically, five since I participated with them at the Rose Parade as an adult chaperone) at rodeos and events as well as participating in gymkhanas and play days. And, then there were also the rodeo queen contests.
3) Did you ever barrel race?
Yes, for fun at play days. However, I have never barrel raced professionally. I have also team roped and team penned. I’ve even gone over a few jumps for fun.
4) Have you ever dated a cowboy in real life?
Yes. And like most men, they are a wide spectrum. Some being the best guys I’ve ever known and others being jerks. The difference with cowboys (and one of the reason women seem to love them so much) is that they have strong moral values. However, the same thing can also equate in a very stubborn man.
5) What’s with all of the animals in your books? Are they based on your animals?
I have grown up with pets all of my life. I helped deliver my first litter of puppies at the tender age of 8 and decided then I wanted to be an animal trainer. Not a very practical dream job, especially since I was focused on being a trainer at Marine World. However, I spent all of my time reading about training dogs and cats (hahahaha, just the thought makes me laugh! If you have cats, you know they do what they want, when they want. They train YOU!) and putting those methods into practice. But horses were my passion. Summers at our family’s cabin found me spending my days petting the string of horses at a near by dude ranch. Seriously, I pet them for hours! It was a small step to move from dogs to horses. I’ve since added cats, birds, chickens, ducks, and goats to my menagerie. The point is that I couldn’t imagine life without animals and, most of my characters are the same. Why not give them the same loving comfort I get from my pets?
As far as which ones are real…some are based on my pets and some aren’t. Some of my animal characters are traits from various pets. Valentino’s (of RODEO QUEEN) personality was based on my horse, Dusty. Julia’s dogs (TAKING HEART) were based on many of my own, including my brilliant boy, Chance (my five year old golden retriever).
6) Why are you all over on social media? Wouldn’t it be easier to be in one place only?
Yes, it would be easier but it wouldn’t be practical. Instead, I use a variety of social media outlets for various purposes. My blog is where I get to be me and have fun with teasers, quotes, articles and sexy pictures. However, readers can always reach me here as well. However, Facebook is a better place to reach me (Messenger is great!) as well as to find out the daily things going on in my life, including random thoughts. Twitter is another way to reach me but I use Twitter for fun posts and notifications most often. Instagram, as for everyone, is just a visual snapshot of my life but I love interacting with people on it while Tumblr, Goodreads and Pinterest are guilty pleasures. These are where I go to have fun and hope my readers do too. Finally, my newsletter is the one place to find every update on me as a reader. You can see past newsletters on my blog, but this is where I hold my monthly giveaways, put news first about my writing and events as well as upcoming projects. A writer’s life is never simple.
7.) Are you really like the person we meet?
For the most part, yes. I’ve always been a tell-it-like-it-is person and have never seen the point in pretending to be someone else. That said, I do cuss quite a bit at home and you won’t see that when we meet (most of the time!). I also have a ferocious temper that most people don’t see (unless you happen to be one of the unlucky ones who messes with my kids unfairly.) I am a person who loves hard and plays hard. I get angry but I’m just as quick to laugh. I’m an Italian and Spanish Leo, would you expect anything short of a passionate personality leaning toward the extremes?
8) Tell us something we don’t know about you.
I’m a fantastic liar. I choose not to lie because a) it’s wrong (even when it comes to saving someone’s feelings. If I look fat in this dress, I want to know before I go out in it!) and b) I’ve never gotten a thrill from it. However, the ability to lie well gives me the ability to detect a lie remarkably easily. I can spot someone telling the truth, or a half-truth, from a mile away (to my teens’ chagrin!) It’s tough for people to pull one over on me. Unfortunately, this means it’s nearly impossible for me not to figure out “who-done-it” and ruins all mysteries and television shows for me.
9) Is your marriage or home life like your novels?
HAHAHAHA! wiping away a tear from my belly laughter and clearing my throat, trying to appear serious again Ehem, no. I guess, in some ways it is and my husband is a hero in my eyes, but our romance and romance in “real life” doesn’t have a beginning, middle and end. It isn’t about learning one lesson or defeating one conflict and being happily ever after. It takes work. We have messes (emotional, physical, spiritual). We have ups and downs, sometimes simultaneously. But isn’t that why we read romance? To escape the dailiness of life for the fantasy? However, I do have a husband who loves me, and I love him. He IS my soul mate, the one man for me and, nearly twenty years later, he can still make my heart flutter like a hero. Now, if you meant to ask if my life is a comedy of errors and disasters like those my heroines face, the answer is YES! 🙂
10) What’s with the new puppy pictures?
Okay, first, have you seen him? Even if he wasn’t mine, he’s adorable. Second, there is a story behind it (albeit a long, sad story).
When my daughter was one (“A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away…”) I found a young golden retriever on our front lawn. After inquiring in the neighborhood, I realized he was abandoned under the freeway. We took him in and Conner became my daughter’s shadow and my best four-legged friend. Growing up, we’d had spaniels (first a Springer and later a Cocker). When we found Conner, I had a great Cocker I’d rescued, however, Conner climbed fences and taught my Cocker to do the same, resulting in him being taken from my front yard. I was devastated. Fast forward thirteen years, six moves, two more children and an additional two dogs later. We still had Conner and a German shepherd who’d been dumped in our yard as well as a Basset hound. Shortly after our move, we lost our shepherd. Conner was, by then an old man himself, nearly fifteen and began suffering from seizures. I knew time was drawing short for him and he’d been such a great dog, we bought another golden retriever and allowed him to show her the ropes. It was only a few months later that we lost him.
Sunni was a huge comfort, seeing how much she acted like Conner. Unfortunately, she suffered a sudden bowel obstruction (I still have no idea how) and we lost her a few months later. I was completely brokenhearted. However, there was an angel watching over me and through unbelievable circumstances, two days later, I picked up a full brother to Sunni (from the next litter).
Chance has been my shadow, the part of me I didn’t know was missing and my clown. I love this dog more than I ever thought was possible. He and Flash (the Basset) have been best friends but Flash was getting up there in age and Chance was a rambunctious golden retriever puppy who needed a playmate. In a turn of events that still brings laughter in our family, Chloe (a Cocker spaniel) entered our lives. From day one, it was obvious, we’d rescued her from a bad situation (Backyard bred at 1, puppies died and they were rehoming her the weekend after! Anxiety disorders, never potty trained, ignored, neurotic, food/toy aggressive). But Chance loved her and she him. So, we went to work on her, trying to help her through her issues. Until suddenly, at six, this dog who loved her food (we called her Miss Piggy for a reason!) quit eating. The next day, I took her into the vet because she looked off. Then we got the diagnosis – our little “piggy” had a genetic condition and chances were slim she’d make it through the next two weeks. If she did, the prognosis was fifty-fifty.
After a long week of round the clock treatments, medications, syringe feeding and heartache, we had to make the difficult decision to end her suffering. Both Flash and Chance immediately went into deep depression and our house had a Chloe-sized emptiness. I didn’t want another dog, but seeing Chance so sad and Flash now being fifteen, I knew he needed a friend before losing Flash (who seems bound to live forever, thank goodness). This time, I did my research and looked for a small breed with few medical predispositions, low maintenance, loving and child-friendly (I do want grandchildren in the next 15 years) and found – the dachshund. Specifically, a long-haired miniature dachshund. And, as luck would have it, my friend had a pair she’d bred and would be breeding again. I got in contact with her and, ta-da, after months of waiting for my little boy, Cooper (formerly Cash) has come into our home.
I am completely smitten. While extremely young (barely 6 weeks), he is incredibly intelligent and wiggling his little body into everyone’s hearts…well, everyone except Chance. Right now, he’s miffed that Mom’s attention isn’t 100% his but he’s coming around, slowly but surely. In fact, he actually let the puppy nip at his toes today.
In honor of DARING TO FALL, releasing on Jan. 17th, I thought I’d spend this Saturday looking at the actual photo that inspired Ben McQuaid. You’re welcome. 🙂
How would you like to kiss this guy at midnight?Photographer: Omar Cruz
Battle of the Santas…which do you prefer?