Spotlight & Giveaway: Miss Janie’s Girls by Carolyn Brown

Posted July 30th, 2020 by in Blog, Spotlight / 38 comments

Today it is my pleasure to Welcome author Carolyn Brown to HJ!
Spotlight&Giveaway

Hi Carolyn and welcome to HJ! We’re so excited to chat with you about your new release, Miss Janie’s Girls!

 
Thank you so much for inviting me back to HJ to talk about Miss Janie’s Girls.
 

Please summarize the book for the readers here:

Miss Janie had taken in two foster girls when she was retirement age. When they finished high school, they went on their way, thinking that they would never come back to Birthright, Texas again. But when Miss Janie wanted to see them when she was about to leave this earth and step into eternity so her nephew, a PI went looking for them. The girls never got along, but they owed Miss Janie a debt for giving them a loving home, so they went home.
 

Please share the opening lines of this book:

Sarah Jane Jackson, Janie to her friends, looked around at the stark room and set her suitcase on the floor. This was it—home for the next few months. Her father, Arnold, stood off to one side twisting his fedora in his hands as if he didn’t know what to say. If it had been her mother standing by the door, she would have been preaching a sermon.

 

Please share a few Fun facts about this book…

  • Birthright, Texas is a real town.
  • In 1885 Birthright, also known as Lone Star, and four mill-gins, three churches and the Lone Star School.
  • By the mid ’60’s, the post office and school had closed. And by 2010 the population had dropped to 40, and only two churches and several homes remained.
  • This little community really spoke to me when I was on a research trip. I could picture Miss Janie’s house back there in a wooded area.
  • I love chocolate cupcakes. So did Miss Janie and sometimes we both had them for breakfast while I was writing and she was whispering her story in my ear.

 

Please tell us a little about the characters in your book. As you wrote your protagonist was there anything about them that surprised you?

*Noah has been successful, but he feels a debt of love and gratitude to Miss Janie for always being the grounded person in his life.
“Teresa has worked hard to become a nurse, but she knows that she wouldn’t be where she is today if Miss Janie hadn’t taken her in.
*Kayla is the wild child who never felt as if she fit in, but Miss Janie had always taken good care of her.
Together these three learn to get rid of their baggage, and to learn that family members don’t always share DNA.

 

If your book was optioned for a movie, what scene would you use for the audition of the main characters and why?

Birthright was so small that Kayla often wondered why they didn’t use one welcome sign and paint the goodbye on the other side. In what seemed like the blink of an eye, Sam was parking his rusty old truck in front of Miss Janie’s house.
She’d thought she’d have a few moments to catch her breath from the truck to the porch, but Miss Janie was sitting on the porch swing, and be damned if that wasn’t Teresa right beside her.
Sam hopped out of the car and yelled, “Look who I found at the bus station when I went to get Nellie!”
“She’s here,” Miss Janie squealed like a little girl and held up her arms. Teresa helped her to her feet, and she shuffled across the porch. “My other baby has come home. Sam, you prayed, didn’t you?”
How in the world had that strong woman she’d left behind gotten so feeble? Ten years before Miss Janie had still had a bit of brown hair left in the gray. Her bright blue eyes had been full of laughter and witty sayings. Now, she had wispy gray hair and she’d aged forty years instead of ten. If a strong wind whipped through Birthright, she’d need rocks in her pockets to keep it from blowing her away. And to top it all off she was talking like Teresa and Kayla were her real daughters, not just foster children.
“I sure did,” Sam stood to the side and grinned. “And God answered my prayers.”
“Hello, Kayla,” Teresa said.
Kayla wasn’t sure how she’d be received after ten years, but Miss Janie opened her arms wide, and Kayla walked right into them.
“I might believe that God is good now that you’re home,” Miss Janie said. “Come and tell me about the people who adopted you. Were they good to you?”
Kayla glanced over at Teresa.
“Miss Janie, how old were you when you had to give us away?” Teresa asked.
“Sixteen, but that was a few years ago.” Miss Janie sighed. “Now we’re all together again.”
Kayla left her suitcase sitting on the porch and supported Miss Janie back to the swing. How in the world had that strong woman she’d left behind gotten so feeble? Ten years before Miss Janie had still had a bit of brown hair left in the gray. Her bright blue eyes had been full of laughter and witty sayings. Now, she had wispy gray hair and she’d aged forty years instead of ten. If a strong wind whipped thro ugh Birthright, she’d need rocks in her pockets to keep it from blowing her away. And to top it all off she was talking like Teresa and Kayla were her real daughters, not just foster children.
How in the world had that strong woman she’d left behind gotten so feeble? Ten years before Miss Janie had still had a bit of brown hair left in the gray. Her bright blue eyes had been full of laughter and witty sayings. Now, she had wispy gray hair and she’d aged forty years instead of ten. If a strong wind whipped through Birthright, she’d need rocks in her pockets to keep it from blowing her away. And to top it all off she was talking like Teresa and Kayla were her real daughters, not just foster children.
“What’s going on?” She looked over Miss Janie’s head and mouthed toward Teresa.
“Play along with whatever she says.” Noah whispered from behind her.
From Noah’s letter, she knew that Miss Janie had Alzheimer’s and also cancer, but Kayla didn’t expect to find her looking like she did. When Kayla ran away with Denver, Miss Janie was still running a tight ship at the Sulphur Springs School as the high school secretary. The students feared Miss Janie more than they did the principal.
“I knew Noah would find my girls,” Miss Janie’s eyes sparkled. “I felt it in my heart. You grew up to be beautiful. What’s your name? You would’ve been Maddie Ruth if I’d gotten to keep you. Tell me about the people who adopted you.”
“I’m Kayla Green. Don’t you remember me, Miss Janie?”
“Now, now!” Miss Janie patted her on the back. “We don’t have to keep secrets any longer. Times have changed. You can call me mama now. Is that your suitcase? Have you had supper? Teresa made tortilla soup for supper and there’s plenty left over.”
“Yes, that’s my suitcase, and I could eat. Thank you, ma’am.” A vision of a spotless kitchen where three meals a day had been prepared flashed through Kayla’s mind.
“We have a lot to talk about. I want to know everything. Did you go to church? Were you a cheerleader like Teresa was?” Miss Janie pushed up out of the swing.
Sweet angels in heaven. What had she agreed to? Miss Janie had had a mind like a steel trap, and now she thought Kayla was her real daughter, and that she’d been popular in high school. Noah hadn’t mentioned anything like that in his note when he sent the police to find her.

 

What do you want people to take away from reading this book?

That a family doesn’t always have to share DNA, and that love conquers all when we let it.

 

What are you currently working on? What other releases do you have planned?

I’m working on a women’s fiction titled, The Hope Chest, set in Blossom, Texas.
Upcoming releases include:
A Slow Dance Holiday, a Honky Tonk novella, Sept. 8
Honky Tonk Christmas, (reissue) Sept. 8
A Little Country Christmas, (anthology) Sept. 29
Christmas at Home (reissue of Mistletoe Cowboy), Oct. 13
The Daydream Cabin (women’s fiction), Dec. 8
 
 

Thanks for blogging at HJ!

 

Giveaway: I’ll give away a signed copy of Miss Janie’s Girls. International is fine.

 

To enter Giveaway: Please complete the Rafflecopter form and Post a comment to this Q: Do you have friends who are more like family than just friends?

 
a Rafflecopter giveaway

 
 

Excerpt from Miss Janie’s Girls:

Miss Janie pounded on the table with her fist. “I asked y’all about Aunt Ruthie. Someone needs to tell her to come in her and meet Maddie Ruth. She should see the little baby I named after her.”
“Aunt Ruthie has been gone for thirty years,” Noah told her.
“Why didn’t someone tell me?” Miss Janie began to weep.
Kayla rushed to her side before Teresa could and bent to hug her. “I’m so sorry that we didn’t tell you, but we didn’t want to upset you.”
Miss Janie’s blinked several times before her expression changed. “I remember now. We had her funeral at the church. I get things all jumbled up. But now that my girls are home, I’ll get all better. We can be a family at last.”
“That’s right,” Teresa agreed. “Soups on the stove. Jalapeno corn bread is under the cake dome. Chocolate cake is over on the bar. Y’all help yourselves.”
“You aren’t goin’ to play the perfect hostess and serve me?” Kayla raised a dark eyebrow at Teresa.
“You’re a big girl.” Teresa’s tone dripped icicles. “Help yourself or starve.”
“Well, I ain’t about to go hungry.” Sam opened a cabinet door and got down a bowl. “I love soup and cornbread.”
Kayla ignored Teresa like she tried to do when they lived in the house together those four years. She followed Sam’s lead and ladled up a bowl full of soup, plopped a square of cornbread into it, and sat down at the table. Not gobbling it down like a hungry hound dog took a lot of self-control, but she managed to use her manners—like Miss Janie had taught her when she had come to live at the Jackson house. She’d been scared out of her mind that day, maybe even a little more than today, but by damn Teresa wouldn’t ever know it.
“Who adopted you?” Miss Janie asked. “I wanted to meet them, but things weren’t done that way back then.”
“The Green family were wonderful parents,” Noah answered very quickly.
“Yes, they were,” Kayla played along even though it was a big, fat lie. Her mother and stepfather had abandoned her when she was fourteen years old.
“I’m so glad you had a good family, but now you are back with me where you belonged all this time. I thought you and Mary Jane were identical twins, but I can see now that I was wrong.” Miss Janie stared at Kayla like she was a celebrity.
Holy hell! Teresa would never be mistaken for Kayla’s sister, much less her twin. Kayla had gotten her kinky hair from her black father, and the freckles across her nose and her green eyes from her mother. Teresa was fully Mexican with good hair and flawless skin without a single freckle.
“Maybe after I eat, I could have a long, hot bath and wash my hair,” Kayla said, trying to buy some time to figure out what she’d walked into. On one side, Miss Janie was as warm as sunshine. On the other, the chill from Teresa chilled her to the bone. There had never been any love lost between them, and like when she came to live there, Kayla had the feeling she was trespassing on Teresa’s territory.
“Of course, darlin’.” Miss Janie yawned. “This is your home, now. We’re all three finally together. I’m going to take a little nap now, and we’ll talk more when I wake up.” She stood up and kissed Kayla on the forehead as she shuffled off toward her bedroom. “I never thought I’d see my babies again. I’m so glad to get a second chance to show you that I’ve always loved you.”
The minute Kayla heard the bedroom door close, she locked eyes with Noah. “Babies? What’s going on?”
Noah explained about Miss Janie giving birth to twin girls out of wedlock when she was sixteen, and now that her mind was scrambled, she thought Kayla and Teresa were those two babies. “The doctor says she’ll most likely be gone by Christmas, so if you could stay until then and let her die in peace, thinkin’ that she finally reconnected with her babies, it would be great.”
“I ain’t got nowhere else to be, so I might as well stick around until the end.” Kayla carried her empty bowl to the sink, rinsed it and put it into the dishwasher.
“Thanks,” Noah said. “I’ve got work to do in my office so, like Miss Janie said, make yourself at home.”
“Why don’t you call her Aunt Janie?” Kayla asked. “I always wondered about that when you came here to visit that time.”
“I have no idea why,” he answered. “Everyone else, including my dad, called her Miss Janie instead of Aunt Janie, so I did, too.”
Sam finished off his soup and went for another bowl full. “Y’all girls realize she’s very serious about you calling her mama, don’t you? And I can feel the chill between the two of you. You’ve got to at least pretend to get along to make her happy. You owe her that.”
“For a place to stay until Christmas, I’ll try,” Kayla told him, and then locked eyes with her foster sister. “How about you? Stayin’ until the end?
“Yes, I am,” Teresa answered. “I’m not so sure we’re that good at pretending, Sam.”
“Then learn.” Sam shook his finger at both of them. “Miss Janie deserves to die in peace.”

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
 
 

Book Info:

A bittersweet reunion becomes a time for looking back and starting over in a heartwarming new novel from New York Times bestselling author Carolyn Brown.

Miss Janie is at the end of a long and full life, but she has no intention of crossing that finish line until she’s found her girls…

It’s been ten years since Teresa and Kayla shook off the dust of Birthright, Texas, went their separate ways, and never looked back. Apart from their foster mom, Miss Janie, they don’t have many fond memories of their hometown. Or of each other. Still, neither can forget the kind woman who opened her home and heart to two teenagers in need.

When a private investigator—who just happens to be Miss Janie’s handsome nephew—tracks them both down and tells them Miss Janie is dying, Teresa and Kayla know deep down that they’ve got to be there for her as she had been there for them.

With Teresa and Kayla together again under the same roof, old tensions may flare, but with Miss Janie’s help, they might rediscover that home is the perfect place for new beginnings.

Book Links: Amazon | B&N | iTunes | Kobo | Google |
 
 

Meet the Author:

Carolyn Brown is a New York Times, USA Today, Wall Street Journal, Publisher’s Weekly and #1 Amazon and #1 Washington Post bestselling author and a RITA finalist. She is the author of more than 100 novels and several novellas. She’s a recipient of the Bookseller’s Best Award, and the prestigious Montlake Diamond Award, and, also a three-time recipient of the National Reader’s Choice Award. Brown has been published for more than 20 years, and her books have been translated 19 foreign languages.
When she’s not writing, she likes to plot new stories in her backyard with her tom cat, Boots Randolph Terminator Outlaw, who protects the yard from all kinds of wicked varmints like crickets, locusts, and spiders. Visit her at www.carolynbrownbooks.com
Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | GoodReads |
 
 
 

38 Responses to “Spotlight & Giveaway: Miss Janie’s Girls by Carolyn Brown”

  1. carol L

    Yes, I have and had 2 friends who were more like family to me.
    Carol Luciano
    Lucky4750 at aol dot com

  2. laurieg72

    Yes, I have my best friend, Paula. She and I became friends in second grade. Even though we don’t live in the same city or sometimes even in the same state, we will always be close. Our children are similar ages. We both became nurses. We stood up in each others weddings. The virus may keep us physically apart. Our phone’s Facetime will keep us together. I’ve been blessed to have her in my life.

  3. noraadrienne

    I was an only child until my mother re-married when I was twelve. The new sibs were much younger then I was. I joined a Youth Group attached to the B’nei Brith organization and made friends. Sixty years later many of those friends are still considered family and act as aunts and uncles to my children. Especially since some of them were never “blessed” with kids of their own. I have some other friends I made in high school who are still involved with my family also. Our children were raised to consider the others as cousins, and when the girls all attended the same Religious High School I told the Principal that if you wanted to find one of them look for both as they were cousins who always stayed together.

    So yes my family is made up of blood (some not so close) and others who are closer than blood.

  4. diannekc

    Yes, I call my neighbors ,”My Chicago Family”. All of my family lives out of state and we have been like family for a long time .

  5. Kay Garrett

    Most definitely! When our daughter died, it my my two BBFF’s, my sister’s by choice, who pulled me through. Although both live miles away, they made sure to talk to me daily one way or other. They were the ones that took their cue from me on what I needed be it to cry, talk or laugh. Just knowing they were there was an immense help. After we became 24/7 caregivers to my Mom after cancer surgery and with Alzheimer and when everyone else seemed to disappear into the woodwork, they were there for me. These two woman are closer to me than any kin I have. They would do anything for me as I would them.

  6. Nicole (Nicky) Ortiz

    Yes, my best friend she is more like a sister than a friend.
    Thanks for the chance!

  7. granny2@outlook.com

    I have one that’s lived next door to me all our lives.She would stay with me and I would stay with her.After we married we all hung out going places Our daughters played together and went to school together..Her husband died recently and she got cancer .She’s staying at her daughter’s a lot so we write and send cards.I miss her .I have two sisters and a brother but I’m closer to her This book sounds great I read all of Mrs Carolyns.Don’t have this one yet but I’ll find it.

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