Adult Inspirational Contemporary Romance
Paperback & ebook, 310 Pages
January 18th 2015 by Snug Corner Cove Press
On assignment in Japan, television personality turned sportscaster Britt Bowen is determined to land an interview with the most reclusive pitcher in baseball and prove she can succeed in a demanding profession. A relationship with a self-absorbed professional athlete is the last thing Britt needs.
Shunning all media attention, former All-Star pitcher Caleb Scott is focused on rebuilding his career in Japan, far from his past and the horrible tragedy that nearly ruined him. Then he meets Britt, who is everything he vowed to avoid.
But it doesn’t take long before Caleb is battling his attraction toward Britt. While she works to uncover his secrets, she can’t deny she’s drawn to his wounded soul. At a crossroads, Caleb must decide if he can break free from his past mistakes and give love another chance. And Britt must choose between advancing her career – or falling in love.
Behind the Scenes of Covering Home
A novel about a female sportscaster and a professional baseball player set in … Japan? How did you come up with that? How much research went into the writing of this novel?
These are the most frequent questions I’ve answered from readers. Often a story idea sort of percolates in my head and I play with it for a while and see if I can build a whole novel from that one idea. But Covering Home came to be in a much different fashion.
Initially, I saw a call for submissions from a publisher for a story set in Tokyo, Japan that featured a bat, a bell, and an angel. For the non-writers out there, a call for submissions is something writers pay attention to because it’s the publisher’s way of telling writers what they are looking for. This particular publisher wanted a novella, which is about 25,000 words or so. As soon as I dropped Britt Bowen and Caleb Scott in the lobby of that hotel, I knew I had something special going on. Once the characters came to life on the page, I couldn’t stop at a novella. It was sooo much fun to write. It wasn’t always easy, though, and I stopped and started many times. But I kept going and eventually had almost 90,000 words in the first draft. Needless to say, some serious editing and re-writing went on. Many authors say the re-writing phase is where the magic happens, but I still find it to be a daunting task. I did work that bat, bell and angel in there, too. You’ll have to see if you can find all three.
A trip to Japan several years ago helped me describe the scenes in Tokyo, including the train rides, the experience of attending a baseball game and some of the cultural observations. But the scenes involving eating at the restaurants, the differences between baseball in Japan versus the US, as well as the inside of the hotel (and the amusement park outside) required quite a bit of research.
In a former career, prior to marriage and children, I worked as an athletic trainer at a university and watched A LOT of baseball games. The banter between the athletes, an athlete’s response to injury, the experience of being in a dugout, were all things I’d witnessed at the college level. Even though I’m not a sportscaster, I was able to piece together enough details to create believable scenes. Writing the parts about Caleb pitching the ball required research, as well as the rules of the game that impact wins and losses. That was perhaps the most grueling part because I wanted to get it right.
I’m proud of this fun, sweet romance. Not only does it have a subtle message of hope and redemption, it also gives readers an opportunity to see a little slice of life in a land you might not have visited yet. I hope you all enjoy reading Covering Home.
is a Pacific Northwest girl at heart. She spent her formative years in Alaska, where her unique upbringing, coupled with Alaska’s breathtaking scenery, fueled her active imagination and loosely inspired her debut novel, Unraveled
Heidi graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Sports Medicine from Whitworth University and a Master’s Degree in Athletic Training from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. After a brief career as a Certified Athletic Trainer, Heidi married her husband, Steve. They currently live in North Carolina with their three boys.
When Heidi isn’t stepping on Legos, chauffeuring the boys around suburbia or watching one of their many sporting events, she loves to read and write heartwarming romance.
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(winner’s choice) & an ebook of Covering Home
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Welcome to Realm Explorers! In this weekly series, we visit a variety of unique worlds created by talented science fiction and fantasy authors. Enjoy your travels! And don’t forget to read to the bottom of the post to find out more about each author and see how to purchase the featured book.
Author’s name: Laura VanArendonk Baugh
Title of book and/or series:
The Kitsune Talesseries includes so far Kitsune-Tsuki, Kitsune-Mochi, and “The Lonely Frost” (appearing in Specter Spectacular and Weird and Wondrous Work later in 2014). Another novel is quite likely!
Brief summary of the story:
In Kitsune-Tsuki, we meet Tsurugu, an onmyouji who has been hired by the warlord to protect his new bride from a kitsune, or shape-shifting fox spirit, which is rumored to be near. The question is, how does one find a shape-shifter who may not even exist?
Kitsune-Mochifollows Tsurugu-sama and many of the characters into a new threat, as supernatural forces threaten Kaede-dono’s life with the warlord in a wholly new and very real way.
Brief description of the world or location you created for this story:
This is Not-Japan of the Heian-Kamakura transition, roughly AD 1200. I have winked and called it “Not-Japan” because I took a few liberties to make some aspects more accessible for readers or to fudge a couple of historical facets closer together, but it’s fairly close to the historical culture.
Naka no Yoritomo is a daimyou, or warlord, subject to the shogun and fighting quiet battles of influence with other daimyou. Tsurugu Kiyomori is a talented onmyouji, which was actually a court position in the Heian era, a mystic practitioner responsible not only for supernatural protection but divination and calendar-keeping. All the supernatural elements in the story – the shape-shifting kitsune, music-loving tanuki, strong water-dwelling kappa, and more – are authentic Japanese folkloric elements popular for centuries of storytelling.
If we were to visit Naka-dono’s home as tourists, what would you recommend that we see or do there?
First of all, be very polite. Manners and accomplishment are everything in this society, and a beautiful girl’s marriage chances or a man’s political career can be spoiled by sloppy handwriting. Poetry is exchanged to settle everything from courtship to politics, and the quality of a poem can make or break one’s career. Speak carefully and with great consideration.
That said, this era produced poetry which has been honored for centuries, so take the time to read some of what’s passed to you. And then go outside to marvel at the military prowess which is being developed at the head of Japan’s shogunate.
What dangers should we avoid?
Well, offending the wrong person might result in such social dishonor or death, and that would certainly be inconvenient during your visit. There’s also the concern of Naka-dono’s shadows, stealthy spies and assassins to take care of that business which shouldn’t be discussed too openly. In future centuries, their descendants will be known as shinobi or ninja, but this is their misty past.
And of course there are thousands of varieties of youkai, or supernatural creatures. Many are harmless, some are friendly and benevolent, many are indifferent, some are mischievous but mostly harmless, and some like the water-dwelling kappa prefer to prey on human flesh. Don’t worry, we’ll help you to avoid the most dangerous!
Is there a distinct or unusual type of food or meal that we might be served?
Well, sushi and the hibachi haven’t been invented yet! But you’ll be served a lot of rice and vegetables, as Buddhism is making great inroads and has reduced the amount of meat consumed. What meat is eaten may be consumed raw, which will startle your tourist palette, or you may eat cooked fish. All the seaweed you eat will help to grow your hair – ladies of quality in this era had hair which reached to the floor or even trailed several feet behind!
What types of weaponry or fighting styles are common?
Tsurugu works mostly in onmyoudou, a way of reading and influencing the contrasting forces of nature, male and female, and the five elements of wood, fire, earth, air, and water. (You may have heard of something like onmyoudou; its counterpart in old China eventually developed into Feng Shui.) You will frequently see him using circles and shikigami, spirit-infused paper servants, or reading a chokubanfor celestial alignments.
The shadows, however, train in taijutsu, the use of the body as a weapon. They are more than competent with other weapons as well, knife and staff, but they know how to use their own weight and strength to advantage when they have nothing else.
What types of vehicles, animals, technology, etc. are used to travel?
Ox-cart is one of the primary methods of travel, for those who can afford it, though foot and palanquin are also seen. Horses, too, are ridden by those worthy and wealthy.
Technology is typically medieval, all muscle and levers, even though Tsurugu’s grasp of astronomy and natural science is daunting.
What types of plants, animals, or sentient races might we encounter that we don’t see today?
Your biggest surprise will be the youkai. This word is frequently translated to English as “demon,” but that’s a pretty poor translation; it means only something that is not human. A better translation for Westerners would be something like “elves,” which also are distinctly not-human and yet are seen in many varieties: Santa’s elves, Tolkien’s elves, elves which abduct children, elves which help shoemakers.
Youkai may be tiny creatures the size of a hummingbird or nightingale, or they may be enormous beings larger than Naka-dono’s spacious house. They may be as friendly as the polite beto-beto-san, who walks invisibly behind you until you gesture him ahead, or as dangerous as the fearsome oni which devours men. In general, it’s best to be cautious and polite.
The kitsune is a fox which can take the shape of a human, possibly even mimicking the appearance of someone you know. A kitsune has between one and nine tails, depending upon age and power, and it may be benevolent or malicious. They are clever and they are known to move among humans, but there are a few clues which might reveal one in disguise.
Sadly, the friendly kawausocannot be seen at all in modern Japan, as this shape-shifting river otter has been driven to extinction in its otter form.
What role, if any, does magic or the supernatural play in the lives of people?
Onmyoudou informed the lives of everyone in this era – it was magic and astronomy and meteorology and the calendar, all in one. An onmyoujiwas responsible for divining an auspicious day for beginning a new project and for deflecting negative energies. The emperor’s court kept official onmyouji, regarded just as any other government official might be.
Tell us about any sports, games, or activities that are available for entertainment.
We’ve mentioned the poetry, which was everywhere as the accepted form of communication. Men and women exchanged poetry in courtship before they met. Social status depended upon one’s graceful handwriting and turn of phrase. A moon-gazing party, in which the participants drank sake, wrote poetry, and read it aloud for prizes, might be a typical overnight indulgence among the elite.
If that seems like a ridiculous pastime, consider the sport of golf today, which is simultaneously a hobby and yet a negotiation field for many businessmen.
Is there a particular religion practiced in this era?
The native religion is Shinto, but Buddhism has been widely adopted and in some cases blended.
What is the political or government structure? Who is in charge there at the moment, and what kind of leader is he/she?
Naka no Yoritomo is a daimyousworn to serve the shogun, but his word is law in his own land (and many other places). He’s aware of his power and tries to use it fairly, though he is also aware of the great potential for betrayal and treachery in this shifting political climate.
What, if any, “hot-button” or controversial topics do you touch on in your book?
Classism and sexism are inherent and powerful in this society. The elite view the lowest classes as animals, and women are greatly restricted in education, autonomy, and voice. Kaede, Naka-dono’s wife, and Murame, a farmer’s daughter, are two very different examples of how women find power and agency in this world.
Laura was born at a very early age and never looked back. She overcame childhood deficiencies of having been born without teeth or developed motor skills, and by the time she matured into a recognizable adult she had become a behavior analyst, an internationally-recognized and award-winning animal trainer, a popular costumer/cosplayer, a chocolate addict, and of course a writer. She speaks at conventions on Japanese Folklore & Mythology and writes books about murder and magic and mystery and hope. Find her at www.LauraVanArendonkBaugh.com.
Where, and in what formats, can we purchase your book(s)?
Other titles and upcoming appearances can be found at Amazon
or my website
Where can readers connect with you online?
My website and blog is www.LauraVanArendonkBaugh.com
, and I always welcome comments! In addition I love to chat with readers on Facebook
and via Twitter (@Laura_VAB
). And please do say hello if we happen to be at the same writers’ or geek convention!
I hope you all enjoyed the trip to “Old Japan”. Questions about the world or the book? Ask them in the comments and the author will get back to you!
Click here to read other posts in the Realm Explorers series.
Please join us again next Monday for a trip to the fantasy world of Astarkand in Realm Explorers Part VI!
Floyd and I had a long enough layover in Narita, Japan, this time that we decided to leave the airport and do a little exploring.
On the advice of a helpful person at the information desk, we decided to visit a nearby temple with some scenic gardens out back. We took a short subway ride to a quiet little street that we were told many tourists enjoy walking down.
There were lots of interesting little shops along the street, and we went into a few to browse, though we didn’t end up buying anything.
Sounds like a fun club! Can we join?
Finally we got to our destination. We enjoyed walking around and taking pictures of all the elaborate buildings (yes, there were quite a few).
Behind the buildings we found the gardens we had been told about. They were even larger than the temple complex, and much more beautiful.
It was strange to find such an idyllic area in the middle of a bustling city. The trees were tall and thick enough that we couldn’t see past them, and we could easily have thought we were out in the countryside somewhere.
Floyd and I spent a peaceful hour or so wandering down one meandering pathway after another, enjoying the trees and flowers, koi ponds and occasional cute pagodas. And then we realized that our route didn’t seem to be looping around back toward the entrance the way we had thought it would. We started to get a little stressed as we searched for the way out, keeping an eye on the time and wondering how close we could cut it before we missed our flight back to Taiwan.
With signs like the one above, can you blame us for getting lost?! And even after we eventually found our way back to the temple area, we realized that we weren’t sure exactly where in the complex we were, or where the exit was. It took quite a bit of stressful speed-walk exploring before we finally found our way out!
Of course, then we still had to walk all the way back up the street to the subway and take a train back to the airport. After we reclaimed our luggage from storage, we realized that we were in the wrong terminal, because our next flight departed from a different area than the one we had arrived in.
To make a long story short, we did get to our gate in time to get on the flight – but barely. Boy, was it stressful! But, at least we got to see Narita. And we made a memory!