Saturday, August 27, 2016

Sit Down Saturday - For Love Or Money

Today I'm talking about:

For Love or Money – there’s no ‘or’ for me. It’s always for love. But sometimes loving means needing money. Most particularly when you’re a single mother of a special needs child who needs therapy that isn’t free.
It’s so easy, many times too easy, to make snap judgments. To sit in judgment. To think we know better. We hear a story – usually just one side – or read a news article – so often biased to one way of thinking or another – and we determine right and wrong. We judge people we don’t know. And people we do know without hearing both sides of the story.
So…for love or money…which would you choose? Would you sacrifice more for love? Or for money? Would you put yourself out, do uncomfortable things, for love? And would you do more if it meant you’d make a lot of money? Are you better if you choose one over the other?
What if loving someone meant you needed the money?
What if winning the money meant that you couldn’t love someone as completely as they deserved to be loved?
I set out to write a sweet little story about a single mom who wins a chance to be a contestant on a cooking show. I should know better. My stories never turn out to be sweet, easy reads. Life happens to me every time. Muck gets in the way. Kind of like real life. Halfway through the book I’m faced with the realization that there are no easy answers. No matter how much I want to make it be so.
And yet…if I just trust, have faith, listen to the small voices inside of me, life has a way of working itself out. I don’t have all the answers. I don’t even have most of them. But I have one. The only one I need. Love exists. It is the strongest force in the universe. And if we have open our hearts to it, we will know moments of true joy.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Why Do We Read Romance Books and Write Them? by Roz Denny Fox

I wanted to blog about something more fun this month than life advice. I started thinking about all of the people I meet who ask why I read and write romance. I’m usually slightly offended and tell them rather soundly that it’s a genre I like, and that generally ends the line of questioning. However, I do ponder why it’s something people ask. I wonder if they think I don’t look like a romantic. If that’s the case, why not? Or do they feel the genre is less than—say mystery or sci fi, or even nonfiction? If so, what wrong impressions do they have? Some I sense stop short of asking why I don’t write a “real book”. (Grrr!) Those people I want to stomp on their toes.

But I decided to reflect on my reasons for reading and writing in the romance genre. My reasons may be very different from any of yours. If you’ll indulge me today, here goes:

I grew up in a rural Oregon farm community where reading was more than a pastime. It was a way to escape a fairly unexciting life. It was a way during pre-television to explore the world. Today’s kids would probably think I lived a hard life. My dad was a logger, a machinist, and a farmer. He didn’t give my sister or me spending money. We earned it. I hoed rows of onions under a hot sun, or strung miles of poles for pole beans to climb. We’d get up at four a.m. to do outside chores like water gardens before catching a bus to go to fields where we got scratched picking blackcaps, boysenberries, raspberries, or crawled down wet rows picking strawberries. The next crop was bush beans. We filled metal buckets then dumped them in gunny sacks. Dragging full sacks to the end of the row was backbreaking. The same was gathering walnuts, filberts, or prunes in rainy, pre-dawn hours before school days in the fall.

And yet because we all did the same thing, there were sing-alongs on the bus, laughter and fun. And looking back I see these were jobs that didn’t interfere with my daydreams.

My friends and I talked about finding the perfect mate. We talked about traveling to exotic places. We imagined meeting a man of wealth. Someone who’d love us as we wanted to be loved. Yes books fed those dreams, and yet I can’t think of anyone in my circle of friends who didn’t know the difference between a pie-in-the-sky dream and reality. (That’s what some people think romantic fiction does. Feed young, impressionable minds with impractical whimsy.) Naysayers really think readers can’t distinguish fact from fiction. Really? Baloney.

Love stories can give readers a respite from normal lives. Or they can show that the readers that their lives aren’t so bad.

Yes, wouldn’t it be fantastic if a white knight rode into my kitchen today and swept me away? Since I know there’s a fat chance of that happening I can smile and enjoy it when he saves a worthy heroine from her hum drum existence.

In truth most of our characters are mature, savvy, average people. They suffer with and wrestle quite ordinary or complex problems. Romance heroes and heroines could be our neighbors, or our ancestors. I believe love extends a global connection and has worldwide appeal.

Because I’ve never met anyone who doesn’t think love is attainable, that brings me back to not understanding why some question my wanting to read and write in this genre. I happen to think the universality of love is what keeps readers pulled time and again into stories with similar plots.

I do know some of the questioners think romance books are formulaic. Bah humbug. They should check out the variety of romance sub-genres. I’m happy to write for a broad market. I’m equally glad to read in that same broad market.

So if you’ve ever had anyone ask why you read and write romance, I’d like to hear if you answer them, and if so, what do you tell them?

Thursday, August 25, 2016

A Note From My Projects (Tara Taylor Quinn)

Here I am again, sitting down just to chat, and have three projects pushing at my back, insisting that I use this time to share them with you. They run my life, you know. These projects. They are my life. Not just because they take up such a huge chunk of it, but because they are the way in which I process and express everything that goes on in my world. In the worlds I observe. And one thing I've very clearly learned...I don't argue with them. They'll just make my life miserable until I give them their voice. They sound kind of spoiled. They aren't. I promise. They're just...intense. Important. They have things to contribute to the world. And they are...

First up - This month saw the debut of my new Harlequin Heartwarming series, Family Secrets. Preliminary reviews have been really exciting. I love this series. It has so much going many avenues to explore. We've got a reality cooking show. Contestants competing with secret family recipes. We've got some actual cooking tips. And we've got family secrets that are haunting those keeping them. If you haven't already checked out For Love or Money, Book One, it's here:

Next up is an exciting pre-order opportunity for our upcoming Christmas Anthology! 15 novellas written by current Heartwarming authors all set in the same town - a wonderful, loving town - Christmas Town, Maine. I've loved my time spent in Christmas Town! The people here have problems, face challenges, but that Spirit that embodies Christmas lives here and it's the strongest force in the world. I personally believe in the Spirit of Christmas with all of my heart. I believe in this power. I turn to it. I know it really is the strongest power on earth. And I am thrilled to be a part of this very special project! Right now you can pre-order it for just $.99!!

And third (not in importance, I'm doing these strictly in order of release!) is another very very special anthology - A Heartwarming Thanksgiving!! We're giving you two holiday anthologies this year!! A Heartwarming Thanksgiving is also a set of novellas, all written by Heartwarming authors - 13 of them! The stories are set in different places, with all kinds of plots, and each one of them revolves around Thanksgiving!! It is also available for pre-order right here:

So...they've said I did well. I am now allowed to go fold a load of laundry! Happy Thursday, everyone!

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Research, the bedrock of an author's existence

I’ve been thinking a lot about research these days – I guess that’s because I’ve been doing so much of it. And then today Heartwarming author Kate James posted a Facebook post of sister author, Catherine Lanigan enjoying a bit of research, and it made me smile. Most authors like the research aspect of writing. We learn a lot, we sometimes experience things we wouldn’t otherwise. A mystery writer friend of mine, Nancy Cohen, who is quite well known for her “Bad Hair Day Mysteries,” exposes readers to some new and interesting aspect of modern life in each of her books. I’ve been fascinated by her info on tilapia farms, animal testing, and other subjects.

I’ve spent this summer in one of my favorite places, the high country of North Carolina. My condo has a view of Grandfather Mountain, my lungs have been breathing in the most refreshing cool air, my research juices have been working overtime. So far I have researched a Christmas tree farm, a whitewater rafting business, and tomorrow I will speak with an administrator at a local home for children, the beautiful campus of Crossnore School in Crossnore, NC. Forget what you know about “orphanages” -  dark, stone buildings with dormitories and cold winter days. Crossnore is a beautiful leafy-green facility with cottages, a school, a charming chapel, and many amenities that make life special for these needy kids.

I still have to interview the small town police department of the village I’m staying in. But when I get all my facts organized, hopefully you will see characters in an upcoming trilogy living the mountain life my research will bring to you.

Edge of the World Whitewater Rafting experience, Banner Elk, NC

Sugar Plum Tree Farm Plumtree, NC wjere they grow Faser Firs
Eight people per raft on the Watauga River, NC>

I hope you enjoy these pictures of my latest research. My next blog will include shots of the serene Crossnore School. Till then, please check out The Bridesmaid Word Sneakers, my August Heartwarming release, still “hot off the press.”
Happy end of summer.


Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Winding Down by Janice Carter

The signs are everywhere on Garden Island, where I write and spend my summers, but I'm trying my best to ignore them.  Golden rod rampant in the meadow; apples already ripening in the orchard.

Rafts of ducks - the ducklings now indistinguishable from their mothers - drift along the shore throughout the day, feeding and feeding.  Prepping for their fall leave-taking.  The bees are working harder than ever, frenzied by the abundance of golden rod, and our honey harvest, ongoing since June, has 'ramped' up.

Gardens are overgrown as plants and vegetables are desperate to spin through the fruit to seed cycle as quickly as possible.
                                        Whoa!  Too much time writing instead of weeding.

The island itself is quiet these days too, as many cottagers are resident only on weekends while others, driven by the heat, stick to the water, avoiding the 'hot spots' of lane and meadow.
Yes, it's that time again.  End of summer.  When I was still a teacher, my late August nights would be fraught with back-to-school dreams.  Sometimes nightmares.  Yes, teachers get them too!  But retirement has eliminated all those anxieties and late summer winding down is simply that.  A segue to autumn and so on.  Seasonal changes are refreshing, in spite of their constant reminders of time passing.  And I no longer want those reminders!
             Before long I'll begin the packing up and carting off to the city of many of our belongings.  The hens will go to their winter home, care of a farmer and his young son on Wolfe Island.  The small herd of deer will wander freely - and blatantly - up and down the lane and through abandoned gardens.  The chipmunks, despite our best efforts, will find ways to sneak into the cottage to hide acorns and chokecherry seeds in our shoes and under our pillows. (No kidding!)
            Another kind of beauty fills the island in autumn and I'm looking forward to it.  Winter?  Not so much.
                                         Our family walked across the frozen St.Lawrence one winter.
                                         Once was enough for me.

 Once in a while, on a stormy day in the city, I'll dream - just briefly - of the next season, the next sunset on Garden Island.

Monday, August 22, 2016

When Authors Take a Break

by Patricia Johns

Every writer needs a break sometimes, and writing from the comfort of my own home makes it hard to draw the line between work and... not work! But getting away with my family for a few days helps with that. I live in Alberta, Canada, and this summer my family and I went Banff in the beautiful Rocky Mountains. 

Here are a few pictures from our fun! I hope your summer has been as enjoyable as mine.

And from the other Patricia--Patricia Bradley

I love going to the mountains, but this year when I had a break, I took a cruise. I liked it so well, I'm setting a book on a that means I have to do more research. he-he-he
Here are a few of the photos I took:

 I told you it was for research! Don't you think both of these guys would make great heroes? Here are a few more...

What do you do when you have downtime?

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Sit Down Saturday with Amie Denman

Today we’re celebrating the August release of Carousel Nights by Amie Denman

So, Amie Denman, where did you get the idea for this novel?

This is the second book in the series Starlight Point Stories. The amusement park that inspired the series is close to my house and I worked there for four summers back in college. I was also lucky enough to live in the employee housing, and I will probably never run out of stories from those four summers! 

How long did it take you to write?

After discussing the plot and conflict of the novel with my wonderful editor, I wrote Carousel Nights over a period of four months.

What is your favorite scene?

I love the scene where five-year-old Ross sits at the piano bench with June. He can use one finger and hit the right notes to Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star. June adds a robust harmony and they make music together. June begins to fall in love with Mel’s son that day and never stops.

Who was your favorite character and why?

I love Mel Preston because he’s good at his job—one of those men who can fix anything—and is also a single dad. His tenderness for and care of his son Ross will make you fall in love with him!

What music would match the mood of this novel?

I actually made my own “Starlight Point” soundtrack with songs that remind me of summer, beaches, and love. I listen to it while I continue writing the series which has a third book coming in December and a fourth next year. A few songs on that mix are Verdi Cries by Ten Thousand Maniacs, Under the Boardwalk (the classic!), When We Were Young by Adele, and some beautiful instrumental music from the movie A River Runs Through It. There may also be a Barry Manilow song on there because, frankly, I love him.

This is your eighth book. Exactly what does that mean to you?

I think (hope!) it means I’m just getting started. I just signed a contract with Harlequin for three more books, and I have plenty of other plans in the works! I've always wanted to be a writer, and I'm so happy to be published by Harlequin.

What do you plan to work on next?
I’m currently working on the fourth Starlight Point book, planning two other Heartwarming novels, and working on a series that takes place at a grand hotel on an island with my best friend and fellow author May Williams.

What are you reading for pleasure right now?
I love Kristan Higgins and Janet Evanovich. I’ve also been on a huge Sarah Addison Allen kick lately. I'm reading her novel The Sugar Queen right now.