Friday, July 25, 2014

Things to Do While Not in San Antonio

I'm trying to work.  I have a proposal due for the last book in my contract - but it takes place in the southeastern part of Texas.  Not exactly where our sisters are, but close enough to distract me.  Having never been there, I'm surrounded by numerous printouts of weather, flora, fauna.  Jennifer, Melinda, Pam, Roz, keep wandering through my story.  Maybe lost on a sight-seeing trip.

I pull myself back to reality.  Took a break to clear my head and met  a  friend to do  Astoria's beautiful River Walk - Coast Guard Cutter, fishing boats, cormorants, Great Blue Herons, Bald Eagles, tourists.  What I saw were our friends in their new clothes and shoes, wearing their pins by Cerella, giving away Sweet and Heartwarming bracelets, flashing Tory around and making friends on the San Antonio Riverwalk.

I came home and asked Ron what he wanted for dinner.  "Chimichangas and Spanish Rice," he said.  I have rampant Tex-Mex disease and he's caught it.  Our chimichangas are the frozen variety and the Spanish Rice is Rice-a-Roni, but I understand there is Tex-Mex, barbeque, and contemporary Southwestern fare available at the many restaurants on the Paseo del Rio, the largest urban ecosystem in the country.

Stormy, a tabby cat, leaps onto my lap between me and the keyboard. Except for the fact that he weighs only 17 pounds, he has the attitude and the look in his eyes of a wild cat.  He reminds me that the San Antonio Zoo and Aquarium, the nation's third oldest zoo, houses over 8500 animals of 779 species, and is the only zoo in the country with an area designated for visitors five years old and younger.

I set the table for dinner - two placemats, two knives and forks, two mugs.  In my mind I see a sea of beautifully set tables, china, cutlery, and glass gleaming under the lights of an elegant dining room.  In the crowd of conference-goers, I see a table of our buddies, looking glamorous, laughing and having a wonderful time.

Sigh.  Liz, Cerella, Eleanor, and whoever else is home this momentous weekend, what are you doing and thinking about?

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Perfectly Pinterest by Cerella Sechrist

I don't have a problem.

Or so I tell myself.

But the truth is, I'm just a teeny teeny (teeny!) bit addicted to Pinterest.

I don't get swept up into Facebook, and I can go a week without checking my Twitter feed. I forget to log into Instagram until I'm standing in a line, and I've already checked all my email. But Pinterest? I go a couple of days without it, and I begin to feel that itch, wondering what sort of images I've missed.

I have boards for each of my novels, displaying settings and characters and even links to reviews and book trailers. In my little Pinterest world, I'm a master chef and a savvy interior designer. I have wit and class, and I can share my love of random things without shame.

And that's just the boards I've already made public - I have several in my secret stash that I'm just waiting to unveil.

Pinterest has allowed me to become a curator of all the things that inspire and sustain me.

Sure, it's been called the electronic version of hoarding, but it doesn't take up one inch of space in my home, so like I said...I don't have a problem. (ahem)

My Boards on Pinterest

And since Pinterest is a celebration of all things visual, it occurred to me - why doesn't Heartwarming have its own Pinterest account? Readers love our book covers, and I, like so many of my fellow authors, have lots of images in mind that help keep the creative juices flowing when it comes to characters.

So I raised my hand and volunteered to jumpstart Heartwarming on Pinterest.

I know, I know. I can't quite contain myself either! Sure, we just launched a couple of days ago, but the board of 2014 Heartwarming releases is a visual feast in itself!

And now I have even more excuses to spend hours pinning to my heart's content.

Because it's not like I have a problem or anything. ;)

If you're already on Pinterest, we'd love to have you follow the Heartwarming boards. Visit us at: Harlequin Heartwarming on Pinterest

And if you haven't yet succumbed to Pin-mania, this guide should get you started on setting up an account. Just keep in mind the following image and don't say you weren't warned.

Cerella is the author of Harlequin Heartwarming's The Paris Connection and Gentle Persuasion. You can find out more about her and her writing at, where she pens Literary Fare: Food and Fiction, a blog for readers.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

HOLIDAYS By Eleanor Jones

Today it's my turn to blog and I wanted to share my holiday experience with you all. We can smile about it now. My husband and I hadn't been on holiday for over two years so when my sister suggested that we go on a cruise around the Med, we jumped at the chance. We were full of enthusiasm as we did a similar cruise seven years ago for her fiftieth birthday, that time though we took the kids.

 The flight out to Rome from Manchester wasn't at the most convenient time; we had to be at the airport, a one and a half hour drive away, by four am. Buoyed up however by excitement we made it in time, had the regulation gin and tonic and boarded the plane full of enthusiasm.

The first little glitch came just as we were revving up for take off. Some poor unfortunate man had a seizure and because we were by the exit doors, with, we thought, lots of wonderful leg room, they brought him right in front of us to treat him as we taxied back to our starting point. To everyone's relief the man recovered fairly quickly but of course we had to wait for the medics to come aboard and see to him and then they had to find his case amongst the dozens of others in the hold.

Running rather late but with enthusiasm still intact we eventually set off again and finally managed to get up into the air. Halfway to Rome and everything seemed fine, until a woman had a funny turn and, as before, they brought her to the front. Fortunately she soon recovered enough to eventually disembark on foot but we had to wait once again for the medics to board and see to her before we were allowed to get off the plane.

Our late arrival in Rome of course made it a struggle to find our taxi to the ship but, to our relief, we finally managed to get to the cruise ship and duly boarded.

The ship was busier that we remembered. Dinner in the evening was great but buffet breakfasts were a battle for tables and food -not helped by the fact that no one spoke any English, which proved to be a major problem when we got lost, as we did almost every evening going to dinner at the other end of the ship. Over three thousand is an awful lot of people in one place. Don't get me wrong, I'm smiling rather than moaning.

We did see some lovely places. Capri and Marseille and Savona, Majorca and Barcelona, to name but a few. Having to find your way around a strange country every day though, whilst aware that you must get back to the ship by a certain time in order not to get left behind, does add a little stress to the situation.

It was lovely to spend time with my sister and her husband but I think we were quite glad to be finally going home. We should have guessed however that it wouldn't be plain sailing... I mean flying.

 Of course the taxi we had ordered and paid for did not turn up. We waited an hour, panicked because there were no more taxis and no one left to ask and eventually, with huge relief, managed to find one that cost us another 180 euros. Way beyond caring about the money we made it to the airport in time only to find that the flight had been delayed and when we did eventually get to Heathrow we couldn't land for ages as we'd missed our slot, so we had to circle round and round above London.

Of course then we missed our connection to Manchester, another huge glitch. Eventually, after another large dose of stress, we managed to organise a flight but by then our lift was already waiting for us in Manchester whilst we were still at Heathrow London.

All in all it was a lovely holiday. We saw a lot and definitely learned a lot. Two things will stick in my memory. Namely, don't go on a cruise if you want to try and chill out and never try to recreate a holiday you once really enjoyed and expect it to be just as good.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Whee! The Romance Writers of America Conference is Here! by Melinda Curtis

I know I've talked about the tizzy romance writers get themselves into planning their wardrobes for conferences. I won't bore you with a rehash. But here's what I'm thinking about with two days left before departure:

Suitcase(s): Must be big enough to load all my necessities, expandable to bring all my freebies home, and yet not so large that loaded it would be more than 50 pounds (the limit on most airlines, checked or not).

Notebook: I always get a new one for conference.  Must have a pocket, must be small enough to fit in my purse, must have character.

Wardrobe: Down to the wire now - comfy, stylish, layered.  That's my motto.

Shoes: An annual challenge. No one told me when I was a kid that my feet would grow until I die (your nose and ears too, in case your wondering - wouldn't mind more cleavage as I age, but that's another blog). My feet no longer fit comfortably in my zebra striped flats that were so comfortable last year.  Really? Yep, really. Getting over it. (And watching to make sure Tally doesn't sneak off with a shoe that fits.)

Toes: There was a time when I actually paid attention to my fingernails and got manicures. More practical now (I never could get the hang of typing with long nails), it's my toenails I stress over - purple, green, pink, metal gray. I gave each toe a different coat here (How quickly did multi-colored toes go out of fashion?) to help me decide.

Promo: That practically requires a suitcase all its own. By now you've all heard about the Sweet & Heartwarming promotion - comment here
(#GoHeartwarming) or give us a tweet or share on Facebook with that hashtag. It's been so popular we ordered more bracelets. Here's Tory's attempt at #Kaepernicking - yes, some of us are 49er fans! Look for her to photobomb your favorite authors at the conference starting Wednesday! (Search for the #GoHeartwarming hashtag on Twitter or look for the Harlequin Heartwarming Authors on Facebook).

Let's hear about your packing experience, your good travel mojo, your love of Sweet & Heartwarming!  See you in San Antonio!

Melinda Curtis writes the Harmony Valley series for Harlequin Heartwarming.  Book #3 in the series, Season of Change, was released May 2014.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Winner of A SOLDIER'S PROMISE - Laurie!

Laurie, your name was selected to received a free copy of A Soldier's Promise. Please email me so I can get your address. Congratulations!
Cynthia Thomason

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Sit-Down Saturday with Tara Randel

Today we’re celebrating the release of Magnolia Bride.

So, Tara, where did you get the idea for this novel?
The characters first came on the scene in Orange Blossom Brides. Once I met Dane and revealed a small bit of his back story with Nealy, I had to create their entire story. I knew it would be a reunion story and I have to admit, this was the fastest book I ever wrote because I enjoyed the characters and story so much. Reunion books always touch a place in our heart when we think about  the past and this idea was no exception.

In looking at the cover, if you could add a caption or captions, what would they say?

                                                                         I love life!

How long did it take you to write?
Approximately four months.  I find that is a good timetable for me.

What is your favorite scene?
It has to be when Nealy first runs into Dane after many years apart. She is caught off-guard by seeing the man he’s grown to be and has to struggle with her emotions of being reunited, even just for a short time, with the man who broke her heart. She is only in town at the request of her sister, otherwise she’d never put herself in a situation where she could run into Dane. She’s surprised, first to see him and secondly, because the attraction for this man is still so very strong. She realizes he still has a place in her heart. Now she will deal with her emotions, which makes the story a fun ride.

Who was your favorite character and why?
Nealy. I love her spunk, her willingness to help her family, even at a personal cost and her vision for the future. She is a strong character and I think most readers will find her appealing.

If you could pick fictional characters to play the hero and heroine, who would they be?
After looking at actors to portray my characters, Michael Weatherly would make a perfect Dane. 
Image result for michael weatherly              Image result for minka kelly bio         Minka Kelly resembles Nealy.

Tell us one thing you learned during research.
I could probably open a coffee shop with all the information I gathered! In the book, Nealy updates her grandmother’s coffee shop, so I spent time looking over coffee equipment, supplies, business plans, you name it.

What music would match the mood of this novel?
Anything by Brad Paisley. His love songs are heartfelt and romantic, but he also has a keen sense of humor my characters would appreciate.

This is your 9th book.  Exactly what does that mean to you?
 When you first get into writing to reach publication, you dream of your first sale, then the next and the next. It has been a long road, but I’m excited to still be on the road! You’re never quite sure if your next book will be accepted, so to have this many books published is still exciting. Writing for Harlequin is a dream come true and I’m so honored and happy to be part of the Heartwarming line.

What do you plan to work on next?
I have a December release, Honeysuckle Bride, part of the Business of Wedding series. Right now my editor has proposals for future books, so we’ll wait and see.

What are you reading for pleasure right now?
I am such a voracious reader, I can read two to three books a week when not writing. On my night stand is Top Secret Twenty-One by Janet Evanovich. I also have Heartwarming books I want read, as well as some big summer thrillers.