Pages

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Sniff... it's just something in my eye


Truth- I can’t make it through the first stanza of Miranda Lambert’s The House that Built Me without getting tears in my eyes. I love Miranda’s music to pieces, but I skip over that gorgeous song sometimes because I don’t like being teary. I tend to avoid movies with weepy endings, missing children or domestic violence because they hit me hard. Give me laughter and romance, I’ve always said! There is a quote from Robert Frost that says, “No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader” so I guess it’s telling that I usually opt to write stories that are more light-hearted than gut wrenching.
Tear in her dark eye
by Milad Gheisari, Flickr CC

But this is less true for me recently. My work with Harlequin Superromance has sent me deep into the emotional terrain of songs like The House that Built Me. My characters grapple with some truly heart-wrenching life experiences and sometimes they make me cry. Interestingly, I’ve chosen to send them back to the proverbial house that built them in order to heal. All the Finley family members have ghosts in the little town of Heartache, TN and they can’t move on without dealing with those issues. (Some of them don’t know it yet, but trust me, it’s so!)

My upcoming NIGHTS UNDER THE TENNESSEE STARS is book #2 in my Heartache series and I really enjoyed getting to know even more about this small town and the people who live there. Erin Finley goes back to Heartache to heal from a broken heart, only to meet a hero far more broken. What I learned as I wrote this couple is that the past doesn’t need to define them. Their story isn’t weepy… it’s touching. Emotional. And might make you teary when you least expect it. But that’s only because these characters are working so hard to overcome where they’ve been. I really wanted them to find a happy ending.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that a few tears are going to be allowed in a Joanne Rock book. I promise there will still be lighthearted moments. Sexy, steal-your-breath scenes. To-die-for heroes. But every now and then the emotions steal up on you and remind you how hard a Happily-Ever-After really is to achieve. It’s a lot of work. The price is sometimes exacted in tears and heartbreak. Yet deep, abiding love is worth every moment. I hope you’ll join me in Harlequin Superromance for a new kind of romantic journey!
***

What song is sure to make you tear up? Chime in and I’ll give one random poster a signed copy of PROMISES UNDER THE PEACH TREE so you can catch up on my Heartache series! 

Monday, January 26, 2015

Eve Gaddy: I'm Not Messy. I'm Creative.

A friend of mine, author Nancy Robards Thompson, posted an article the other day that I could really get behind. 

This article talks about the ties between being messy and being creative. Finally, someone showing scientific support for the idea that messiness can be a good thing!

One of my favorite lines from the article is this: "While it might look completely random to strangers, a lot of times, a person’s mess is very methodical – with respect to himself." So true! I keep telling my husband that yes, I do know where to find things in the place(s) I call an office. Those piles of papers are in a sort of order. One that makes sense to me. (Okay, not always. But usually.) He is always shocked when he asks me where something is and I'm able to go right to it in my piles of clutter.

I have two offices now. One is in my actual office and the other is in our den. For some reason the husband doesn't like my office taking over the den. Go figure. But sometimes it helps to have a different place to create. I can't create in a coffee shop, so I go to my den. Or back to my office if the den is too distracting.

Sometimes the mess will get to be too much for even me to tolerate. I like to clean my office in between books, but since I started working on more than one book at a time, that isn't always possible. Then I just have to wait until the mood strikes me. Which isn't often.

I'll admit I put things in odd places sometimes. Once I took a stick away from my dog--he would eat them and then throw up--and I couldn't figure out where to put it. For some reason, outside did not occur to me. (See, I think outside of the box!) My daughter found it and wanted to know why there was a stick in the breadbox. I still hear about that.

I lose my phone constantly. Sometimes I can't figure out where my phone is only to realize that I'm talking on it. I have several places to look when I lose my phone, but sometimes I'll put it in a random spot. And if it's on silent I'm really in trouble.

But I'm creative, not messy. I'd show you a picture of my creative office, but I cleaned it two days ago and I can't find the pictures I took of my desk and office when they were truly creative looking. That's okay, though. It won't take long to return to normal.


How about you? Do you work best in a clean, organized space? Or do you thrive in chaos and clutter? 

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Lilian Darcy: Painting the house

So it’s summer here and I’m painting the house.

Note that I say “I am painting the house” not “I am having the house painted.” It is a little crazy to be doing it myself, but as you may know I’ve retired from writing and it appears I’m addicted to having a big project of some kind. If it’s not writing a 50,000 or 60,000 or 70,000 word novel, one word at a time, it’s painting a 5,000 or 6,000 or 7,000 brick house – I’m just guessing, I haven’t actually counted them – one brick at a time.

I’m actually enjoying the parts where I get to stand on the ground on my own two feet, with the radio playing, just painting away and not getting in too much of a mess. The parts where I’m perched up on a ladder carefully shifting my weight to reach the next brick - and somehow always ending up with paint running down my arm - are not so fun. It’s the kind of thing that happens to romance heroines about five seconds before the hero appears and discovers her with two big smeary paint handprints on her cute denim-clad butt.

This is not going to happen to me. Firstly, I have a perfectly good husband already, only he happens not to like a) painting or b) being up on ladders.

Secondly… I don’t think there is a secondly. Painting the house was my choice and I’m happy.

All the same, though, there’s a tiny little part of me that thinks that Tule Publishing’s upcoming Bachelor Auction series is all about the ultimate female fantasy – buying a man to do your bidding. Maybe he’ll fly you somewhere glamorous in his private helicopter. Or make you a three-course gourmet dinner. Or paint your house. And maybe there’ll be an unworded rider in the contract that leads things in a whole other direction.

Yes, of course it’s in a good cause, ladies. Local Marietta single mom Molly Dekker and her son Josh really need the fund-raiser after Josh’s shocking accident, and it’s only the cause of an injured kid that could have roped in amazing guys like these.


I can’t wait for this series to launch in early February, and with amazing authors like Dani Collins, Sarah Mayberry, Kate Hardy and Kelly Hunter in the line-up, you won’t want to miss it, either.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Kristina Knight: Don't Forget To Move


Being a writer is the most amazing job in the world. No, I'm not curing cancer but I do get to help people find love, find themselves, and begin living happily. The people in my head are very real to me as I'm writing and my hope is always that something in my books (or any authors books) will connect with 'real' people and help them figure things out.

There is one drawback to all of this, however: I sit in a chair for long hours each day writing my words, editing sentences and some days just trying to figure out what to say. That sitting? Not great for the metabolism or the derriere. Plus, when things aren't going well, chocolate is involved.

Here's how I keep things together in the health department when I spend most of a given day on my ... well, you know:

3. Taking a walk. Wherever I am in the writing, if I'm stuck or just need to clear my head, I'll take a walk. Somedays it's a quick lap around the neighborhood with my book playlist going. Some days it's a longer sweat-inducing walk/jog program. Depends. But walking is a great way to get moving (literally and figuratively).


2. Getting in the water. Most of you know I teach deep water running at our local Y two nights each week. And I fill in as needed for other classes. And I've been known to hit the pool on my own when I need to clear my head. Water (whether its a beach or a pool) has always been an inspiring place for me.

1. Dance. The picture above is one of my favorite video games - it's sweaty, hard work (Yes, you have to get OFF the couch or office chair) with one massive benefit: if I trip over my clutzy feet no one will see me. I love Zumba - it's works the core, legs and arms. Plus, it's dance so it's over and you're hot, sweaty and feeling great before you even realize its work. The Just Dance games also now have a workout section, so thats another way to get moving and dancing away from the computer.

Okay, what's your favorite way to get moving? 

Once upon a time, Kristina Knight spent her days running from car crash to fire to meetings with local police--no, she wasn't a troublemaker, she was a journalist. Her career took her all over the United States, writing about everything from a serial killer's capture to the National Finals Rodeo. Along the way she found her very own Knight in Shining Cowboy Boots and an abiding love for romance novels. And just like the characters from her favorite books, she's living her own happily ever after.
Kristina writes sassy contemporary romance novels; her books have appeared on Kindle Best Seller Lists. She loves hearing from readers, so drop her a line!   


Thursday, January 22, 2015

Permission to Be Ourselves

I'm one of those people who loves that it takes all kinds to make a world. Negative reviews don't bother me for this reason. (Though I have to confess that's partially because I usually have about thirty times more great reviews.) I genuinely believe every person has to be different because we each have a purpose to fulfill in this world. And I've told my son, who is disabled and can't do much, that his may be the biggest, best purpose of all.

It's because of this viewpoint that I can come up with characters who are just a little bit different than everybody else in their world. I loved Suzanne Caldwell in BABY ON THE RANCH. Though she was young, just out of college, she was saddled with some very adult problems. So she didn't follow fashion trends or know what music was hot. She was busy with real life.

The same is true for Laura Beth Matthews in HER BROODING ITALIAN BOSS. She was pregnant by a guy who was such a creepy-crawler that even she was at a loss to remember why she stuck with him. Her attempt at making something of her life in New York City had failed. Her friends had found true love and good jobs and were moving on. And she was going to have to go home to her parents in Kentucky because she had no way to care for a child on her own. Ugh.

Her hero, Antonio Bartulocci, was in a similar boat. He wasn't pregnant and he certainly didn't have to worry about money. His dad was a billionaire, and Antonio himself was wealthy. A successful artist he'd already made his place in the world.

But he'd lost it. His wife had cheated on him before she was killed in a plane crash. And though he should have been able to say life goes on...he couldn't paint. No matter how much he wanted to be the artist he'd always been, he couldn't paint.

But in the way of all great stories (and real life most of the time), some of us have to hit rock bottom before we take a breath, look around and say...This isn't working. LOL That's when we pick ourselves up, take inventory of our problems and our talents and get to real work -- the work of becoming the person we're supposed to be.

Everybody believes that having a destiny is reserved for movie stars and football players, CEOs and Presidents. But about Bill Gates' mom? Or his teachers?

If you've read and loved a book of mine...then my mom was a very important piece of making you happy. So was my fifth grade teacher. And the nun who singled me out in high school and told me I was smarter than I behaved and I should stop that.

None of these women looked at me and said, "Oh, talent. It's my job to nurture her." Nope. All they did was the job they were given. Mother. Teacher. Women just living their lives.

So today...or this month, which starts a new year...take a look at your life. You have no idea if one of your kids or grandkids will discover a cure for cancer, become a rockstar, change the face of medicine with breakthrough software. You don't know if the woman you sit beside in the bus, the paperboy you encourage, and the waitress you treat well (and tip well), isn't in desperate need of the right word at the right time to take him or her to the place s/he might not reach without your advice, kind word, encouragement.

And doesn't that make YOU a superstar by default?

So today I give you permission to be you. Because no matter how small or insignificant we may seem to be to ourselves, we have no idea of our real mark in history.

Happy Reading...

susan meier

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

The Diet Stops Here (Wait! I mean it starts here!) by Jenny Gardiner

First and foremost, never, ever, ever give away your fat clothes. I say this while sporting my current uniform: a grungy 20-year old Penn State sweatshirt and once generously stretchy yet now extremely stingy yoga pants that haven’t, alas, been donned for their true purpose in ages.

My other uniform consists of a black shirt and jeans. Black because it’s slimming. Ish. Or so they say. And stretchy jeggings, to be exact. Thank the lord for tender mercies (i.e. stretchable cotton). Though I was probably better off in the more punitive Levi’s of yore, which kept me honest, size-wise (that is until I could no longer wedge myself into them, and then so much for that honesty, eh?).

A couple of years ago I got, well, not skinny, but more mainstream, size-wise. Skinny hasn’t happened since the Reagan administration (when I had a youthful metabolism, not that of a tree sloth). After slimming down, I waited over a year before donating my voluminous stockpile of fatwear. They were beautiful clothes, too, all styles that helped mask the added weight I was lugging around, sadly. In giving them away, I figured it would be nice if someone in need of them happily found their way into my, um, largesse.

I think the very day I dropped them at Goodwill I gained four pounds. Which brings me to another pointer for this New Year’s resolution-minded message: never, ever, ever, ever stop getting on that damned scale.

Years ago, I’m pretty sure it was during the holidays, when food and wine seem to just jump into my mouth when I’m not looking, a wise, thin friend urged me not to get on the scale every day. “Oh, your weight can fluctuate by several pounds daily!” she assured me. “Just get on once a week.”

So I took this advice to heart. After all, it was from a skinny person. They must know, right? But if you get on the scale one day and weigh two more pounds, well, news flash: wait seven more days and nothing good comes of it. Trust me on this.

My weight has fluctuated so much I should’ve been called Yo-Yo. And not the person who’s great with a violin. The person who can’t seem to stick in a healthy pants size to save her soul, that’s me. This time around it was a tumultuous series of life events that kneecapped me. Not that that’s any excuse, mind you, but hey, I am the first to tell you it is really quite easy to stuff your emotions with food; I’m a pro at it. In fact if there were an advanced degree in it, I’d surely have earned one.

This time around I stupidly doubled down while outgrowing my wardrobe: I bailed on the gym. For pretty much my entire life, no matter how plump I was, I always, always, always worked out. Whether it was with the Jane Fonda record (yes, I’m dating myself with that reference), Tai Bo, P90X, lap-swimming, obsessive amounts of tennis, hiking, spinning. walking, or anything, I always made time for some form of daily exercise.

But then I wasn’t being productive, professionally, failing to get in the writing hours I needed. I was dropping the ball, big time. So I couldn’t justify spending time at the gym. My girlfriend and I were just discussing this gym/work dilemma. Because I get my best work done in the morning. But I also get my best workout done in the morning. That inherent conflict means choosing one over the other (I know, I could technically force myself like the grown-up that I am to do one at an inopportune time of the day, but I haven’t, okay?).

And so I made the grave mistake of bowing out of exercise because I should be writing prolific amounts. But instead I spent a lot of time wrestling with all those stuffed emotions and not doing diddly squat (make that any squats). Occasionally I resumed working out, though didn’t dare show up at the gym because everyone knows you don’t want to be seen at the gym while fat.

I got back on my spinning bike at home, until I had a rather weird spinning accident, requiring 16 stitches on my shin. That was enough to kibosh my biking career for a while. I got back into it later in the summer, even biking one day for about 36 miles, which was really fun since we didn’t get hit by any cars, but still, I was feeling guilty for not getting work done. So I have holed up for the past few months writing. The good news: I’ve got my writing mojo back. The bad news: I shudder to witness my reflection in a plate glass window and cringe to see pictures of myself. For sure ain’t no selfie-taking going on for me (while dressed in slimming black).

I imagined my zaftig brethren this holiday season wearing my really pretty hot pink raw silk jacket, or that sparkly sequin top, and all those many outfits I gave away, while instead I jammed myself sausage-like into a stretch black velvet pantsuit that somehow escaped my closet purge. I refuse to buy more fat clothes, as it feels like I’m abandoning ship, figuring thin me is a thing of the past. But with my oversized clothes shrinking (they are just shrinking, right?), where to next? I don’t want to be Admiral Perry navigating the unchartered territory of what to do once the fat clothes don’t fit.

But new beginnings can start at any time. Sure it feels cliché for that to be with the new year. But now’s as good a time as any, so here’s hoping I’ll eventually be able to give away my latest wardrobe, even though they’re not even cute, just functional. Wish me luck.

JennyGardiner_BiteMe200

The first of my IT'S REIGNING MEN series was just released: SOMETHING IN THE HEIR. Here's the cover (alongside the covers for books two and three in the series--more to come!)

JennyGardiner_SomethingintheHeir200 JennyGardiner_HeirTodayGoneTommorrow200JennyGardiner_BadtotheThrone200

and some time soon I'm going to reissue Anywhere but Here---I'll keep you posted.
Accidentally on Purpose (written as Erin Delany)
Compromising Positions (written as Erin Delany)
find me on Facebook: fan page
find me on twitter here
find me on my website

Monday, January 19, 2015

Melissa McClone: Naming a Hero

Readers have asked me how I come up with character's names. I wish I had a process, but there's no one way. Often a name just comes to me. Sometimes I hear one somewhere that resonates with me. Other times I've brainstormed and/or asked for help. One thing I have figured out is I need to be more careful with what I name my secondary male characters.

Why?

Two reasons: Potential sequels and Bill Paulson

Bill first appeared as a secondary character in a Harlequin Romance called Rescued by the Magic of Christmas. His name came from Pacific Northwest climbers I met while researching the book—Bill (two shared this name) and Paul. Bill sounded like a good first name for a firefighter and volunteer mountain rescuer, a fun-loving, needs-to-grow-up, but has a big heart kind of guy.

He made an appearance in a free read I wrote for Harlequin.com, three sequels to the first book, and ended up the hero of the final story in the series, a series I never intended to write when I started the first book. There's nothing wrong with the name Bill. It fit him. But I'll be honest, had I know Bill might one day be the hero in his own book, I probably wouldn't have named him that even though now I couldn't imagine him called anything else!

When I wrote Home For Christmas in 2013, I kept thinking of Bill. The story had sequel possibilities so I kept thinking hero potential when I was coming up with names. The heroine's brother ended up being named Tyler and a wrangler was called Zack.

My Haley's Bay series for Harlequin Special Edition features a family of seven siblings, five of which are brothers: AJ, Ellis (already married), Flynn, Declan and Grady. Once again, Bill popped into my head. Only this time I could hear him say what's wrong with a Tim or a Tom or a Bob. Nothing, I had to admit. But those weren't the names that fit the Cole brothers.

When I wrote Picture Perfect Love, I could almost hear Bill whispering a name. Sam. Sam. Sam...

I knew when to give up!

One of the secondary characters is named Sam. He's a nice guy who needs to grow up a little, and he's got definite hero potential!

I've got a mini-swag pack up for grabs! You'll get an autographed book, fuzzy socks to keep your feet warm while you read, a couple bookmarks and a chocolate bar.

To enter the giveaway, comment with your favorite male name (from real life or a book!) I'll post the name of the winner in the comment section on Friday!

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Carole Mortimer Q&A

 1 – I believe 2015 is the year you are going to celebrate the publication of your 200th book?

To be honest, when I wrote that first book I never imagined I would write even ten more let alone 200. But the storylines just keep coming, and so I just keep writing them. I used to tease my kids and tell them they would have to pry my laptop from my fingers before they could nail down my coffin – bit macabre, I admit, but it was a joke! – but nowadays it would have to be my iPad.  The 200th book? I still find it incredible, but exciting too. And I still have so many more stories to tell!

2 – How do you feel about the explosion of self-publication?

 The choice nowadays for readers is tremendous and I personally love that. I read every form of romance I can download onto my Kindle, from paranormal, fantasy, historical, contemporary, erotica, anything with romance in I’ll read it. And having so many new authors has to be a good thing. New voices, fresh new ideas. Just wonderful.
The fact that I have recently self-published my own Alpha series probably answers how I feel about Indie. I love being a part of it and I love reading it. Many of my now favourite authors are Indie. Yes, when self-publishing first boomed in 2011 there was a lot of awful stuff out there, but as readers we’re very discerning, and pretty soon those badly written and published books were ignored by readers and the quality was allowed to shine through. I am still writing my romances for HMB but I love doing my Indie stuff too, and have lots of ideas for more books in my current Alpha series, as well as several more, including a Regency novella series I intend to publish later in 2015. I believe self-publishing is here to stay, and whilst I enjoy writing for an established publisher I also love the freedom of self-publishing, and I’m so much enjoying being a part of it.

3 – Can you tell us about ALPHA, your new Indie series?

The ALPHA series is quoted in the book blurbs as being ‘stories of dark and compelling men, who are used to taking what they want, and the strong and determined woman who have no intention of being taken. Unless it’s on their own terms.’

They are also quoted as being ‘sizzling contemporary romance with an added dash of danger’.
I would like to add here that there is also an Authors Note added to the Alpha books – ‘The ebook novellas and full-length novels in the ALPHA series have sexier situations and more adult language than my other books’.

All of those things are true of the stories in the ALPHA series. The men are very Alpha, the women are strong, there’s a dash of danger in each story, the language is adult, and the sex is hot, hot, and hotter! The characters in the books are also connected, can be read as standalone stories, but the series would be enjoyed more if read from the introductory novella Christmas Alpha onwards, where you will meet the heroes of the next two books, Dark Alpha and Shadow Alpha. The hero of the fourth book, Midnight Alpha, appears in Dark Alpha and Shadow Alpha and so on and so on. I’ve always loved reading and writing books that are connected, with characters that know each other, and so give later insights into what is happening in the lives of previous characters in earlier books in the series.

A quote from Desere Steenberg’s review, in Adult Delights blog, writes that Dark Alpha has ‘sex that sets the pages on fire and a mystery with so much dark reality it will leave you in awe of this author’s amazing writing skills’. Desere also writes of Dark Alpha ‘passionate off the chart sex, a mystery better than Sherlock Holmes ever faced, and a journey of romance overcoming the dangerous of the past. A thrilling dangerous romance, Carole, bring us more!’

And I’m going to do just that, have at least another four books lined up in the ALPHA series, one being published every two months through 2015.

I’m thrilled with that review by the way.

And it’s true that the sex is hot, the danger is very real, but the stories are primarily contemporary romance, and always always with a Happy Beginning – I like to think of my hero and heroine starting their life together as their beginning rather than an ending.

So if you like your stories very hot and sexy, with a dash of danger, then ALPHA is the series for you!


Carole Mortimer is a USA Today Bestselling author, a Recipient of the Romantic Times Pioneer of Romance Award 2014, and was recognised by Queen Elizabeth II in 2012 for ‘outstanding service to literature’. She began writing for Harlequin Mills and Boon in 1978, and has now written 197 books for them, in the contemporary romance and Regency romance genres, and has sold over 100 million copies of her books worldwide. 
She has also now written and published two ebooks in her own ALPHA series. The introductory novella to the series, Christmas Alpha, was published on November 8th, and the second, full length novel in the series, Dark Alpha, is published on January 18th. The third book in the series, Shadow Alpha is now available for pre-order, to be published on March 15th.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Susan Stephens: Why be a hybrid author?

Writing for Harlequin Presents is a wonderful privilege. Meeting readers and my fellow authors around the world, is a pleasure I could never have imagined when I started out 12 years ago.

 
How could this get better?

Self-publishing has opened the door to so many opportunities. Breathing life into stories I have stored up in my head—stories that don’t quite fit the glitzy, glamorous world of Harlequin Presents, is now possible and the immediacy of getting those stories to the reader is its own reward. I write the story, and then a team of highly talented professionals help me to present that story in the best possible light—and fast! What’s not to like!

I have so many stories swirling around that I write under another pen name: Xandra King. Xandra caters for those quirkier tales, sometimes featuring an older heroine, or a touch of magic, or even a historical erotica tale such as Celestina And The Sultan, and Celestina, Warrior Queen, both of which can be found in eBook format under the collective title, Xandra King Erotic Romance Collection. The one thing all these stories have in common is a strong alpha male, a stand-up heroine—however young or mature she might be—and always always passionate love and romance.

Xandra’s latest contemporary series features 6 sexy shorts with more explicit action and language than my books for Harlequin Presents. The 1st book in this series, Christmas Nights At The Ladies Club, is available now as an eBook, with the 2nd book, Valentine’s Night At the Ladies Club, available for pre-order now, with a release date of 23rd January 2015.



 
I do hope you enjoy following the exploits of my 6 friends, Jane, Jewel, Miranda, Arabella, Tracey, and Veronica, as they help each other to emerge from unhappy, or frustrating situations, to find the happiness they so richly deserve.

To spread a little sunshine in celebrations of stories I loved writing, I am running two monthly contests side by side with some fabulous prizes at Susan Stephens Author on Facebook.
All you have to do, is either ‘Like’ that page, or subscribe to my newsletter, which you can also find top right on my www.susanstephens.net web site.

It only remains for me to send my warmest good wishes to all of you,  and to wish you a happy and healthy New Year, full of happiness, true friendship, good fun, and every success!

Your friend and author,

Susan

Friday, January 16, 2015

Got the January blues?

The jury is out on exactly which day of the year is the most depressing, but most agree it's definitely in January. Some say it's the first Monday of the first full week back to work after the holidays. Others say it's the day that the Christmas purchases arrive on the credit card bill.

January probably isn't too bad for those of you in the southern hemisphere. At least you're getting your Vitamin D. Most of us in the Great White North are slogging along under grey skies, through snow, bundled tight with our muscles aching from bracing against the chill. And then the credit card bills arrive on top of the heating bill and, oh yeah, we had those new snow tires, too. Ouch!

To combat that gloom, I've lowered the price on my zaniest, most laughter-filled title, Hustled To The Altar, to a very affordable 99c.

It's a silly caper with con artists and a game designer hero who really does not know when to quit, plus loads of twists and turns all taking place the day before the heroine's wedding.

Ironically, I wrote this story long before I started writing for Montana Born, but it's set in Montana--at a hot springs resort.

There is a cure for the January blues. Now that I've thought of it, I might have to talk to the husband about heading to the ones nearest to us. Here's a photo from when we celebrated our twentieth anniversary at Halcyon Hot Springs.

We had quite a laugh as we read the brochure on this one. It said the secret ingredient in the water that makes it so relaxing--and such a cure for depression--is lithium!

I have to admit, however, that I'm a bit like my hero Con. I don't sit still very well so about fifteen minutes after I begin to cook, I start getting restless.

How about you? Do you enjoy visiting hot springs? Any recommendations? How is your January? Got the blues?


Blurb for Hustled To The Altar:

One Con Artist Bride...
The last thing Renny O'Laughlin wants to do on the day before her wedding is see her eccentric ex-boyfriend--the one with more dollars than sense who provokes the thrill-seeker inside her. But his grandmother just got duped. Renny has to tell Con before she marries another man and leaves forever.

One Innovative Ex-Lover...
Games-inventor Conroy Burke won't buckle to convention, especially marriage. He's crazy about Renny though. She's the only woman able to keep up with him. When she explains how Gran was tricked, he sees an opportunity to convince his wildcard she doesn't really want to settle down.

One chance to sting a professional thief...
Renny agrees to identify the swindler to the police, not expecting a caper with inept kidnappers, an ambitious reporter chasing the story--or her old feelings for Con to resurface. Marriage will make an honest woman of her, but getting Gran's money back would prove it too. It all makes for...

One hectic day before a wedding. 

Buy now:

Would you like to be notified when Dani’s books come out? Join her newsletter or visit her here:


Thursday, January 15, 2015

Michelle Styles: Shield Maidens -- Legend or Fact? plus giveaway

For many years, various historians and archaeologists have doubted if Viking shield maidens actually existed. Women warriors who fought along side and sometimes commanded men.  In fact, the first English woman mentioned in any context is a warrior – she objected to be jilted, hunted down her man and married him after some persuasion. True the archaeologists would say, the various sagas and legends speak of them but… women didn’t actually do such things.  As proof they would cite no grave had been found with both women’s brooches and weaponry together.  This was supposed to be the end of the argument.
Very recently, they started DNA testing bones found in various Viking cemeteries. Perhaps to the surprise of the male archaeologists, they discovered that some of the graves designated as male because of the weaponry actually had female bones  in them! The type of weaponry found in these graves was mostly throwing spears or bows and arrows — items which women could actually use with ease. Because of the differences in upper body strength, the broad sword can be difficult for most women to use effectively.
So it does look like there were female warriors after all.  But why no both items? The sagas  which mention shield maidens and women warriors make it very clear  that there is a difference. Women warriors do not do feminine or peace weaver things. In other words, women had a choice they could be warriors or they could be wives. The word wife in Old English literally means one who weaves. And a wife wove the fabric of a family together. 
Could a shield maiden ever become a wife? The sagas do speak of this but often it seems she does not continue her warring ways. However her husband can sometimes count her advice for strategy. T this stage, I would assume, she would be buried with her spinning whorls, brooches and other accouterments of female power over the household.

Anyway, as I wrote TAMING HIS VIKING WOMAN before some of this DNA evidence started becoming widely available, I was very pleased that the archaeological record is now showing something that I felt to be true.
GIVEWAY:

And because TAMING HIS VIKING WOMAN will be published on 20 January, I wanted to offer the Tote Bags Readers a chance to win a signed copy of TAMING HIS VIKING WOMAN (void where prohibited) . Please send the answer to the following question: 
What are the names of the hero and heroine of TAMING HIS VIKING WOMAN to contest@michellestyles.co.uk.  before Wednesday 20 January 2015.
You can read an excerpt here

UPDATE: I drew Denise's name out of the hat and will post off her copy later today. Many thanks to all who entered.
The sea-king's warrior bride 
Legendary shield maiden Sayrid Avildottar will marry no man unless he first defeats her in combat. And in powerful sea-king Hrolf Eymundsson she has finally met her match. 
Hrolf may have won her lands—and her body—but can Sayrid welcome a stranger to her bed? The world of fighting is all she knows! With a husband intent on seducing his new bride, perhaps, just this once, Sayrid will discover that surrender can bring the greatest pleasure of all…


Michelle Styles writes warm, witty and intimate historical romance for Harlequin Historical. TAMING HIS VIKING WOMAN is out on 20 January. To learn more about Michelle and her books please visit www.michellestyles.co.uk 

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Christina Hollis—5 Ways To Measure Writing Success...

http://amzn.to/1zajHZA (US) http://amzn.to/1DF99Dv (UK)
What does success mean to you? Are you expecting to earn a million from your collected poems, or self-published autobiography? It's fine to aim for the stars—fall short, and you might still hit the moon. But just in case you don't manage to make J K Rowling's bank manager sick with envy, here are some  ways to make sure 2015 is a successful writing year for you. It all depends on how you look at it...

1. Millions of people dream about writing a book. Most aren't brave enough to try. Think how you'd feel if this was the year you finish that story you've always wanted to write. You can do it. Set aside some time each day, make a plan, then put in the work to make your dream come true. For hints and tips on writing, visit my website, and follow my series of blogs called Birth Of A Book. You can read the parts I've published so far by clicking on the links here: Part One—From Thinking To Writing, Part Two—Finding The Heart And Soul Of Your Book and Part Three—Finding Your Writing Style.

2. Start your next book the minute you've caught your breath. Work on it while you're trying to sell you first book. If you're able to say you've got more work in progress, it's a definite bonus when you approach agents and publishers. Finishing your next book is the success you should be aiming for from the time you type The End on your current work in progress. Writing books is a continuous process. As one is finished, ideas for the next one should be jostling for writing-time.

3. Once your book is finished, the hard work starts. Whether you publish yourself, or try and get accepted by a conventional publisher, it's a tough road to travel. If 2015 turns into the year you hit print, you've scored another big success. Holding your newly-published book, or seeing your ebook up on Amazon is something you'll never forget.

4. Getting reviews when catching a reviewer's eye is so difficult is another reason to be cheerful. Get a friend to vet any reviews for your book in advance, in case reading a bad one scars you for life (it happens). Your kind reader can strain any constructive criticism from one-star scaldings, and giving you the chance to up your game. Writers should never miss a chance to learn about their craft, and readers are your best teachers. Give them more of what they want to read, and both sides will be happy.

5. Your first royalty payment will be another reason to get out and celebrate, no matter how small it is! Covering your costs is good—if you do nothing more than that in 2015, you'll have earned more than many self-published authors do. Making any sort of profit at all is an amazing feat, and if you manage this, you're a success (of course, if you really do make a million, you don't need me to tell you that!). Don't forget to squirrel half of anything you earn away somewhere safe in case of a tax bill. Use it to create a contingency fund.

Long before I had a contract for His Majesty's Secret Passionthe first book in what has become my Princes of Kharova series, I was already hard at work on the follow-up, Her Royal Risk. That's a very descriptive title, as I was taking a big risk the first book in the series would be accepted. The idea for Her Royal Risk started with my Beta readers. They wanted to know what happened to two minor characters in His Majesty's Secret Passion, so I picked up on their interest and gave them Krisia and Athan's romance as soon as I could.

His Majesty's Secret Passion is published by Wild Rose Press, and Her Royal Risk follows later this year. To keep up with the latest news about both books, click "like" on my author page on Facebook, here, or follow me on Twitter, where I'm @christinabooks.

Christina Hollis writes both contemporary and historical fiction–when she isn't cooking, gardening or beekeeping. Her books have been translated into more than a dozen different languages, and she’s sold nearly three million books worldwide. You can catch up with her at http://www.christinahollis.blogspot.com,on Twitter and Facebookand see a full list of her published books at http://www.christinahollis.com For more details of His Majesty's Secret Passion, see  http://amzn.to/1zajHZA  (US) and  http://amzn.to/1DF99Dv  (UK)

Tuesday, January 13, 2015


Happy New Year...okay, well, the new year is almost two weeks old, but I'm still celebrating!!

This is the time of year to look at who you are and decide who you want to be.  Every year I try to move a little closer to my ideal self.  And rather than New Year's resolutions, I've using a word of the year as a touchstone.  I've been using a word of the year for...well, years now!  It's nice to see that the trend is catching on!  Yep, that's me...a trendsetter!  LOL

I've had words like last years, Step as well as Optimism, Change, Awareness, Moment...   I pick a word, post it prominently on my desk and try to use it as a focus for the year.    I've been mulling 2015's word for a while now and hit upon it last night as I was drifting off to sleep.  Drumroll please.  The word is...STRETCH.  Like last year's Step, the word has both physical and mental applications.  Physically, I'm hoping to try to add a bit of yoga to my daily 10,000 step routine (btw, I did make my 10,000 steps every day last year!!).  I'd like to become more limber and flexible.  I'd like to become more limber and flexible in my inner life as well!  I want to step out of my comfort range and try new things.  I want to expand my way of thinking and try to look at things from a new perspective.  

Yes, I like the word Stretch!  It makes a great word to center my year around!   I think I'll need that limberness as I look at my year's schedule!  I've got three releases (Carry Her Heart in April, Her Second Chance Family in August, and The Way We Used to Be in November).  I've started scheduling speaking gigs...there's Ohio and NY so far.  I've got a lot of books to write for 2016.  And I have some family trips planned...a cruise and in the fall, my husband and I are meeting my best friend and her husband in Florida!  Yep, I think that a bit of limberness is in order!  How about you?  Do you have a word of the year??  If not, you've still got time to find one!

Holly

PS 2015 is a year of giveaways for my subscribers! Not a subscriber?  You can sign-up here and be automatically entered in the year's giveaways!


Monday, January 12, 2015

New Year life lessons from a cat



OK – so will someone tell me how it got to be January 12th?  I’m sure it was only – what – a couple of days ago that I was  shopping frantically for food  for my family to enjoy over Christmas.  I must have blinked and then I find myself with all of  that food eaten (well – not quite all – I always think my son and his  fiancée will eat more than they do!)  and here it  is, 12th January and time to write my blog.

Is the 12th of the month, -  the 12th day of this New Year of 2015 -   too late to write about New Year Resolutions?  My  friend  thinks it is, my DH   believes  any time is time to make  ‘resolutions’  - he’s been assessing and rethinking his approach to life for a few months now.


I’m inclined to agree with him.  I’ve never been a great believer in the fact that a small change in the date  - from 2014 to 2015  - can make such a great difference.  If that change in numbers was all it took, you could have a ‘new’ period each time the date changed – a new month, a new week . .  .  hmm,  I could go with that. I believe that any time is a time when you can pick yourself up, dust yourself off –and start all over again.  The dark, cold (I’ll say that again COLD) wet days of January  like the one we have here in Lincolnshire UK are perhaps not the best times to try that sort of  New Year New You type of programme.

So I’ve never been one to make ‘resolutions’.  Besides, 2014 was a difficult sort of year for me and some of mine.  Health problems, family problems, the loss of one of my dearest friends, all contributed to making it the sort of year to get through so that I wasn’t overly sad to see the back of it. And I have to admit that I feel like being rather gentle with myself and those I love rather than putting myself through a strenuous improvement boot camp.  Besides, I’m not the sort of person who like new for New’s sake.  Looking back at my time as a writer, for example – as I celebrate 30 years of being published as a romance writer, I think  there’s a lot to be happy about, rather than want to pull up my socks and try to push out more.  More. That’s another word I’m not too fussed about right now either.

So, if I don’t do resolutions, people wonder what I put in their place. I put one word. That’s right, just one.    One year the word was resolute – almost the same as resolution but not at all the same thing.

This year’s word?

BALANCE.

It’s a word I learned from my kitten Ruby. Well, she’s not quite a kitten any more – she just had her first birthday - but her approach to life is the same. Every morning she wakes up  in the same sort of  mood. She looks at the dawn, at the world around her and her whiskers quiver, her tail goes up.  ‘It’s a DAY!’ she seems to be saying.  And she uses her day well. She finds time for the things that matter, eating food she enjoys, running around the garden, climbing trees, grooming, pouncing on her brother Charlie the Maine Coon, snuggling on to my lap when she can, and sleeping through the night curled up next to my feet.  So that she’s ready to start tomorrow with that same attitude – It’s a DAY! She does the things that matter to her.

Sometimes when I look back at past years I see and feel that there
hasn’t been enough balance. Too much work/not enough work/not enough time with friends and family/not enough relaxation /not enough filling up the well of my imagination with reading etc.  And if there’s one thing the past year has taught me it’s that you can’t rely on things to stay the same and, sadly, people to stay around.   You need to find the balance that makes you happy to curl up and sleep at night and wake up bright-eyed and  crisp-whiskered  (well, perhaps not the whiskers) the next day.

So I made a list of things I want to keep – and  enjoy – in my life – friends, family, books, theatre, teaching the courses I enjoy  (if there are any I don‘t  then they’ll have to go. Writing – but not in the ‘must do more’ must meet this deadline – and this way  - it can sometimes become. Because then I don’t enjoy writing either. (Ruby doesn’t bother much with writing. She thinks the keyboard is a very boring thing – and the new books, when they arrive are only fun because they  come in a big cardboard box that she can hide   and jump out onto Charlie when he walks unsuspectingly by.)


So Ruby doesn’t think she needs to become New Ruby, or that she should do more. And I think she’s right.  So I’m taking my New Year life lesson from my very wise and  intelligent little cat – I’m looking at each morning and thinking ‘It’s a day!’ and trying to make sure I have the best sort of balance in the way I spend it.


What about you? What word would you use to describe your approach to 2015?  Or are you making lots of resolutions – how are you doing with keeping them?





I don't yet know what the UK cover of my next book - Olivero's Outrageous Proposal -  will look like - but I can share the Harlequin Presents cover with you today


My latest releases are two reissues -  first there's Kept For Her Baby which is out in the 3 in 1 By Request  called Secret Love -Child.  

And coming up next, there's the reissue of The Konstantos Marriage Demand  again in a 3 in 1 collection - His Revenge Seduction.

And the 12 Point Guide To Writing Romance is now available on Kindle

You can catch up with all of Kate's news on her website  or on her blog.  You can also find her on her author page on Facebook.