Saturday, January 20, 2018

Sit Down Saturday with Tara Randel



Today we’re celebrating the release of His One and Only Bride.



He never thought he’d see her again.

After being reported missing, and presumed dead, globe-hopping photojournalist Mitch Simmons never thought he’d see his estranged wife Zoe again. Yet here he is, back in their coastal Florida town where Zoe is mayor. Turns out she isn’t the only one he left behind.

Discovering he has a baby son awakens thrilling new emotions in Mitch. And there are his still-powerful feelings for the high school sweetheart he vowed to love and honor forever. Thankfully, they’ll have the chance to find the love that was always there...

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

As an author, I always had this story in the back of my mind, a tale that asks the question, what would happen if you thought your husband had died, only to have him show up again when you least expected it? That’s the dilemma in His One and Only Bride. Zoe is shocked to learn her photojournalist husband, thought killed while on assignment, has returned home. They were estranged before his final assignment and Zoe grieved the fact that they never worked things out. But now she has a second chance. And a surprise for her newly returned husband, they have a child. Suddenly Mitch is thrust into fatherhood and finds out he’s unprepared. Through starts and stops, how does this couple decide to make their marriage work and become a family? That’s the fun part about being a writer, I can take stories just like this and create an entire world around one little question of what if. 

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

Don’t forget the memories or a picture is worth a thousand words.

What is your favorite scene?



I actually have many favorite scenes in this book, but here’s an excerpt to give you a glimpse of the book.

Mitch expected his wife’s surprise. After all, to her, he’d risen from the dead.

His hand gripped the cane that had become his lifeline. He wanted to heave it over the railing, but that meant lifting an arm that still needed rehab to function properly. Instead of cataloguing his injuries, he focused on his shell-shocked wife.

“I don’t understand. We were told…I thought you were…”

“Dead?”

She reached out to place her palms on the deck railing.

“The report was mistaken.”

“But…How…Why?”

“I was injured in a truck accident while leaving a refugee camp.”

She visibly pulled herself together. Took a step toward him, faltered and stopped. “Pretty soon I’m going to have a ton of questions, but right now…I don’t know what to say.”

“How about ‘welcome home’?”

He watched her struggle with this major surprise. “When did you get here?”

“About fifteen minutes ago.”

“How?” Her gaze took in his appearance and he knew what she saw. A guy who’d lost weight, whose complexion had turned pasty after weeks in the hospital. Not the image of the healthy husband who’d walked out of her life nearly two years ago.

“Wyatt. I called him to tell him I was heading home. He picked me up at the airport.”

A flush of red crept up her neck. “You didn’t think to call your wife?”

“I did, but considering how we ended our last conversation, I thought it would be better if I talked to you in person.”

She ran a hand through her shoulder-length black hair. What had happened to the long straight strands that had reached to her mid-back? In the hospital, he’d dreamed of running his fingers through it. Had dreamed of her easy smile, which was nowhere to be found right now. Had he expected her to jump into his arms when she saw him again despite the circumstances? Expect that old feelings would rush over her again? Disappointment swamped him. She looked like the same Zoe, yet there was something different about her. He couldn’t put his finger on it.

“I’m sorry, you didn’t want to call me? Despite everything, didn’t you think I’d have wanted to know you were at least okay?”

Who was your favorite character and why?

Mitch. He had a lot to overcome. I loved showing the changes in him as the book progressed. To me, his character is filled with hope. He has a lot thrust upon him when he returns home, but he’s willing to do what is best for his family, even if it’s not the best for him personally.

Tell us one thing you learned during research

I had to do research on traumatic brain injuries. There was so much to learn. Symptoms. Severity.  Treatment. And mostly, how does a patient manage pain and living with this diagnosis? I hoped I portrayed Mitch’s condition properly, both in what he experienced and how he dealt with the issues that come from the injury.

This is your 6th book. Exactly what does that mean to you?

I love writing books for Heartwarming. To have six in a series has allowed me to share stories I’ve always wanted to write. I’ve loved every minute of it!


What do you plan to work on next?

I’m working on a new series, Meet Me at the Altar, for Heartwarming. The first book, The Lawman’s Secret Vow will be released in August.



To celebrate the release of this book,  join me for His One and Only Bride Prism Book Tour January 22-27. 





Tara Randel is an award-winning, USA Today bestselling author of fifteen novels. Family values, a bit of mystery and, of course, love and romance, are her favorite themes, because she believes love is the greatest gift of all. Look for her next Harlequin Heartwarming romance, THE LAWMAN’S SECRET VOW, available August 2018.  Visit Tara at www.tararandel.com. Like her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/TaraRandelBooks. Sign up for Tara’s Newsletter and receive a link to download a free digital book.

Friday, January 19, 2018

5 Tips for Beating the Winter Blues by Sophia Sasson

The Washington DC area has been suffering from the type of winter I hate. It’s been well below freezing but we’ve only gotten dustings of snow on the ground; not enough to make a snowman but enough to make commuting and outdoor activities miserable. It’s dark when I leave for work in the morning and even darker when I return home. According to the Astronomical Applications Department at the US Naval Observatory which gives you daily tables of sunshine hours, Washington DC gets around 10 hours in February. That’s not unreasonable when Anchorage only gets 7 but it doesn’t feel like enough.

You’re probably wondering if I suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and I don’t. But, as someone who doesn’t ski or ice-stake I do feel the winter blues.

So here are my tricks for beating that feeling of lethargy and winter ba hum bug
1)      Eat chocolate. No really, this is a scientifically proven remedy. Dark chocolate has stimulants that activate the pleasure centers in your brain. The catch is you want chocolate with high cocoa content. Yuuummm…

Image result for open curtains
2)      Open all the curtains and move the couch to face the window. I try not to walk around naked and hope that the neighbors have better things to do than to look at what I’m doing. Just being able to stare out at the light beyond improves my mood. I put out bird feeders and enjoy watching them peck, and okay…perhaps I do a little neighborhood spying.  It’s the kind of light therapy doctors recommend for SAD without having to buy artificial lamps.

3)      Books, books, and more books. Okay so this is self evident, whose mood doesn’t improve with a good book. Hint hint—we have a fabulous January Heartwarming line up you can check out.

4)      Get jiggy with it. Not only is music also a mood enhancer, I get up and do a little dance (yes, even with the curtains open). It gets me moving, lets me shake off that lethargic feeling, and warms me up.
Image result for beach5)      Plan warm weather activities. Just looking at pictures of sun warmed beaches and bicycling on a tree lined trail gets me feeling warm and fuzzy. And I do believe in window shopping vacations; just because you can’t afford it this year doesn’t mean next year isn’t a possibility.

I love hearing from readers so email me at Sophia at SophiaSasson.com, feel free to sign up for my newsletter or follow me onTwitter or Facebook.


Right now, I really want to know-- what do you do to beat the winter blues?

Thursday, January 18, 2018

It was the best of times... @Helen DePrima and @Liz Flaherty

When we were thinking of what to write about this month, I asked Helen what she thought of using "best days" as a topic. She said she'd have to scratch her head on that one, and I'm so glad she did--her post is lovely. While you're reading, how about thinking of a best day to share with us?

by Helen DePrima

I can’t honestly identify one best or perfect day. I more recall periods in my life when all memories seem to be happy ones, disappointments or failures blurred by time and the remembered glow.

No kid ever had a happier childhood than I did, with an extended family of grandparents, aunts and uncles. I had five cousins on the same farm, a stable full of horses, plus pet cats and dogs, rabbits and chickens. After I first visited Colorado at age thirteen, each summer was the high point of my year, with weeks spent at the same working ranch.

Memories of my years at the University of Colorado are bathed with the happiness of falling in love and dreaming of the future, but I still feel a bit cheated on the wedding department. My aunts did most of the planning while I was finishing my last semester at the University of Rochester. I arrived home two days before the event but my luggage didn’t; my matron of honor outfitted me for the rehearsal dinner. My new husband and I had no time for a fairy-tale honeymoon because I needed to be in Denver to take my nursing boards, so we snatched a few days at an old resort hotel across the Ohio in (I kid you not) French Lick, Indiana. Hometown of Larry Bird, if you’re a basketball fan.

Moving to Colorado was the kind of adventure I love: everything we owned crammed into a ’63 Beetle, with no idea where we might land. Westward ho! Only to spend the next year buried in a windowless surgical suite just west of Denver, dealing with skiing injuries, hiking and climbing mishaps, and weekend cowboys with less horse sense than their mounts.

After the year of OR imprisonment, the next four years in northern Colorado were pure heaven. As a Visiting Nurse, I chased up and down the Front Range and into the high country in my Beetle, seeing patients as varied as the centenarian who remembered cattle drives and gunfights on the main street to surgical follow-ups and health counseling in the migrant workers’ camps.

Moving east and becoming a stay-at-home mom after my husband graduated vet school was real culture shock, but I came to appreciate New Hampshire, especially the seacoast. Learning to sail and crewing on friends’ deep-water boats gave me the same delight I felt as a kid riding along the Little Snake River in northern Colorado.


Now my thrills are more usually on paper, or rather on the screen of my laptop – the perfect phrase, the unexpected plot turn, the new character who muscles in uninvited to steal the show. I hand over all the remembered sights and smells and sounds I’ve collected over seventy-plus years, doing my best to share my souvenirs with my readers.
by Liz Flaherty

The reason I suggested "best days" as a topic is that 46 years ago today, our daughter Kari was born. She weighed just a hair over six pounds and was 18 inches long and...oh, what a great day it was. I had two others like that, when her brothers were born. A generation later, when the grands started making their appearances, the sweetness of those seven days was different, but no less.

Another best day was in October of 1998 when Hilary Sares called from Kensington and said, "I want to buy your book." Charles's call from Harlequin several years later was every bit as exciting. To this day, I make notes with every call, and to this day I'm unable to decipher them after I hang up. 

It's snowing today, which makes me remember once after the kids had started to pull away some, not wanting to spend their time with Duane and me, when the five of us walked across the field in the snow. I don't remember why, just how precious the moments were. Another time that gave the same feeling was a long evening when the power was out and we sat around and played board games by lantern light. 

A few years back, all of us spent Thanksgiving weekend together at a rented house in Tennessee. It was all fun, but I'll never forget watching the teenagers standing around the table assembling pizzas together.


My son-in-law's mother made quilt tops before she died. I took the one Jim had and finished it and had it quilted, then presented it to him as a gift from both his moms. I was nervous about interfering with something so precious to him, but I needn't have worried. I think he knew how much both she and I love him.

My best days seem to always be wrapped around family and writing. I'm good with that.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Words to Live By by Syndi Powell



💗💗💗💗  Blessed   💗💗💗💗







I know of several friends that choose a word at the beginning of the year. Similar to a theme for the year, they focus on that word and how it manifests itself into their lives. I have done this in the past, but often I've found that the word has chosen me, rather than the other way around. This past year, that word was blessed.

The first few times I saw the word, I dismissed it. It's coincidence, I told myself. But then the word kept popping up in random places. I realized that the word was being emphasized in my life for a reason. So I stopped dismissing it when I saw the word and started focusing on it.

My life is by no means perfect. I struggle with working a day job as well as trying to fit in time to write. My health is always a concern as I continue with treatment for breast cancer. There have been problems with family and friends. 

But despite all this, I feel blessed. I feel like I got a second chance as I continue to beat cancer. I have enough money to pay bills, to save and to give to charity. And while arguments can dampen a relationship, I'm lucky to have so many people who love and support me.

So 2017 was my year of being blessed and feeling thankful for those blessings.

But as 2018 neared, the word that kept popping up made my knees knock together and my palms sweat. That word was surrender. We're only three weeks into the year, but I've already started to struggle with this word. I came down with pneumonia which caused my heart rate to spike. A trip to the emergency room lead to a night in the hospital while they monitored me and my heart. The good news is that the increase in my pulse was due to dehydration caused by the pneumonia. The bad news is that this was a warning sign and that I need to make some lifestyle changes.

Surrender is going to make 2018 an interesting year for me. What about you? Do you choose a word for the year? If you do, how do you decide?


Tuesday, January 16, 2018

2 Good Things for 2018 by T.R. McClure

The beginning of a new year and our thoughts turn to ways we want to change or improve our lives. In the last few months two things have caught my attention. Two good things.

As smart everything - phones, appliances, cars - become part of our everyday lives we can't help but consider the impact of the use of these digital devices. Parents - and children - engrossed in phones at the dinner table. Not talking. Pedestrians walking down the street completely unaware of their surroundings.

"We should have a day that no one uses technology," I mentioned to my daughter recently. Turns out, of course, the day already exists.

The 2018 National Day of Unplugging is from sundown on March 9 to sundown on March 10. The ninth year of a global respite from technology, the day is not a partisan issue and is supported by a variety of organizations.

https://www.nationaldayofunplugging.com

If you take the above pledge you'll get a free cell phone sleeping bag. Who wouldn't want a free cell phone sleeping bag?

Personally, I was thinking of a day in July when we could all go outside and play and relax in the sunshine. It's still cold in PA in March! But why reinvent the wheel? Who knows? Maybe we can unplug for two days next year! Crazier things have happened, right?

While you're unplugged how about checking out our Heartwarming line? Now that was a shameless plug, wasn't it?

Another effort that attracted my attention is Wait Until 8th. I'm a brand new grandma. Funny how your thoughts revert to children's issues when you have a little one back in your life.

Wait Until 8th suggests waiting until eighth grade to give children smartphones to allow kids to be kids a little while longer. Some studies have shown smartphones actually have addictive properties. That's frightening! If parents rally together, they can avoid the inevitable question "Fill in the blank has a smartphone, why can't I?"

Parents concerned about the need for communication and safety can still provide a basic phone that texts and makes calls but without the additional smartphone features. Again, this is a nonpartisan effort and is supported by psychologists as well as professionals in the tech industry.

https://waituntil8th.org

Just a couple things to think about for 2018!
As always, enjoy the read!

T.R. www.trmcclure.com




Monday, January 15, 2018

A DAY FOR INTRODUCTIONS

I'm Kim Findlay, a brand new author, and my first two books are coming out with Heartwarming this year. I'm thrilled, overwhelmed, and terrified.  The Heartwarming community is very welcoming, and that's helping me navigate.

I have this opportunity to introduce myself, and I thought I'd do it a little differently. The external facts are out there in bios.  Instead, I'll tell you about what the inside 'me' is like.

I'm an introvert. I'm not shy, and I can talk your leg off. After a limited amount of time, though, I'm done. I need to retreat to where I don't have to be 'on' and can be quiet.

I'm a procrastinator. And a list maker. Some perfectionist tendencies make it easy to postpone things to a more perfect time, and there's so much distraction online that I can get behind. But I'm a compulsive list person. I have to get those items crossed off. The test for a real list person? If you do an extra thing that wasn't on the list, you immediately write it down to get the thrill of crossing it off. When I have my lists,  that overcomes my procrastinating.  However, if I procrastinate on making my lists...

I'm task motivated. This may be connected to the lists, but if I start something, something bigger than a list item, I need to finish it. I'm still bothered that I didn't finish getting my motorcycle license, but after my accident, I was really too nervous to enjoy being on the bike. Thanks to this finishing bug, I did get my accounting designation, ran a marathon, and finished two books. Here's hoping this trait helps me get more writing finished!

So that's me.  I look forward to getting to know everyone else.

www.kimfindlay.ca
www.facebook.com/KimFindlayAuthor/

Twitter: @missheyer74


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Good morning!

I’m very pleased and excited to be sharing my Heartwarming blog day with Kim and have enjoyed getting to know her. Welcome to Harlequin, Kim, and to the Heartwarming family!

I have something of an introduction of my own to make today. It’s for my last Western book – thankfully not my last Harlequin book or even my last Mustang Valley series book. Those will happily be continuing with Heartwarming

I honestly think THE BULL RIDER’S VALENTINE is my most romantic story ever. Nate is certainly one of my more wounded heroes. He’s never gotten over the (Valentine’s) day six years ago when he came home to discover Ronnie had left him, not long after miscarrying their baby. The journey to reconciliation for them is a long and difficult one. I found myself cheering for this meant-to-be-together couple during the entire writing process and just hated throwing obstacles in front of them. 

Up next, I’m leaving the Hartman family for Sweetheart Ranch. You’ll be hearing more about this unique western wedding venue and bed and breakfast in the future. For now, I’m looking forward to Valentine’s Day with my own sweetheart – yes, there’s a pun in there somewhere, and I’m pretty sure I intended it!

Warmest wishes,

Cathy McDavid



Saturday, January 13, 2018

Sit Down Saturday with Karen Rock




I’m thrilled this month to share FALLING FOR A COWBOY with our Heartwarming community, Book Two in my new ROCKY MOUNTAIN COWBOYS. Each book in the series focuses on a member of either the Cade or the Lovelands, neighboring ranching families who’ve been feuding for over a hundred years after a scandalous and unsolved kidnapping, murder and priceless jewel theft each blames the other for causing. Talk about drama! And I haven't even mentioned that the widow (Joy Cade) and widower (Boyd Loveland) of each clan might (just don't tell their adult children!) have begun a secret and forbidden romance...
This book focuses on Jared Cade, a cowboy/pro NFL player blessed with good-looks, athletic ability and enough charm to break hearts wherever he goes. He’s returned home during the off-season to rehab a sports injury and reconnect with his best friend, Amberley James, who’s determined to shut him out after a genetic condition causes her to lose her sight and her barrel racing career. Well. Too bad. He’s not taking no for an answer. He’s got an ingenious plan to get Amberley back in the saddle, competing again. He’s won’t let her fail if only she’ll trust him… although trust is not all he wants from her… Watching her push through her physical challenges and inspire children at the equine therapy program arouses powerful and unsettling romantic feelings for Amberley, feelings he suspects she might return. The best things in life don’t come easily, he learns when it comes to Amberley. He’s determined to win her heart and become part of the dreams he’s determined to make come true.

Who is your favorite character, and why? 
I adore Jared (what lady with a pulse wouldn’t?) but Amberley… she’s beyond inspiring. Everyone loves a comeback story and Amberley embodies that determination to never give up. She’s a gifted barrel-racer who’s crushed to discover a genetic condition is making her legally blind. At first, she wants to hide from the world … disappear… because she’s always been taught that to count, you have to win, something she believes she can never do again. Yet when she begins helping challenged children in an equine therapy program, she learns what true champions are… these small, wounded warriors inspire her to accept Jared’s risky offer to get back in the saddle again and compete… not necessarily for a trophy but for something even more valuable… her pride and ability to set an example for others to never let challenges hold you back from chasing your dreams.
Tell us one thing you learned during research.

I learned a lot about barrel racing. Not only did I need to understand how champions master a course, but I also had to then translate it into how a legally blind rider would navigate it… on a horse galloping at 40-50 mph… yikes. Thankfully my hard work paid off and my agent, who used to represent barrel racers, gave me one of her rare compliments when she said how authentic the racing scenes felt. Phew!
In looking at the cover, if you could add a caption, what would it say?
“The odds might be against them, but Jared would bet on Amberley every time.”

WHAT WAS YOUR FAVORITE SCENE?
My favorite scenes are ones where characters have a breakthrough in the way they think and feel that forever changes their lives. In this scene, Jared convinces a reluctant Amberley to return to the saddle to race again using walkie-talkies to guide her.  After all her setbacks, seeing her push through this incredible, life-changing moment made me smile through tears as I wrote it.


“Turn him around. The barrel’s right there,” Jared said, steely, his voice coming through the walkie-talkie affixed to her saddle full up of no-backdown.

It prodded up Amberley’s chin.

Right. Jared dared her to prove herself a quitter because he predicted she wouldn’t. No one knew her better than Jared, even herself.

She guided Harley around the barrel, then rose in the saddle, giving him his head several paces later. In an instant, he took the bit and kicked into a trot that rapidly carried them across the empty space toward the second barrel.

His silver mane flew behind his lifted head, his pace, his bearing oozing confidence. Excitement. He knew this course as well as she did. Centering herself in the saddle, she counted his strides and prepared herself for the second barrel.

“Almost on it,” she heard Jared say, “Rate Harley!”

Without warning, yellow burst before her, quicker than she’d expected. Alarmed, she tried gathering Harley, but he strode a length too far, their rhythm out of sync. When he caught sight of the fence, he balked, then jerked to a stop so abruptly her teeth bit her tongue.

She leaned down and stroked his quivering neck. “It’s okay, Harley,” she murmured over the thumping, the banging of her heart.

“It’s okay.”

What a miserable mess. A failure.

“You quitting?” Jared’s holler was so loud she could hear it through the walkie-talkie and in the clear, warm air.

“Nope.”

“That’s my girl.”

Locking her jaw, she brought Harley around.

“Barrel’s a hand’s length away,” Jared said. “Position him for the last one, now.”

She closed her eyes, pictured the final barrel, then gave Harley his head. His legs flashed in a familiar gallop. At that speed, she instantly knew their position and how long before the last turn. Her body relaxed and rocked in time with Harley’s, the familiar rhythm returning at last.

One, two, three…

She opened her eyes, and sure enough, the yellow loomed. Instinctively, she eased back into her pocket the moment her thigh flashed by the barrel, then rotated her body through a turn she felt more than she saw. Harley responded to her cue and executed a tight turn.

They thundered back in the remembered direction of the starting line.

In a second, they swept through and past the gate.

“Whoa! Hold up!” hollered Jared as they flashed by him and a barking Petey.

Oh, but it felt too good to stop! Jared jogged beside her and snagged Harley’s bridle just as she pulled him up. Her breath came in short, hard pants, her pulse thundering against her eardrums. She’d done it. She’d raced a course for the first time since losing her vision.

“What was my time?” she gasped.

“Wasn’t clocking you.”

“Will you next time?”

“So, you’re not quitting?”

“Never!” She laughed, exhilarated, pumped with enough adrenaline to lift her right off this saddle and into the sky. “Let’s go again.”
Click Here for Falling for a Cowboy Blog Tour Entry Sites


I hope you’ll check out my FALLING FOR A COWBOY blog tour and $50 Amazon gift card giveaway, 1/15-1/20. Read excerpts, reviews and interviews and enter as many times as you like. Click on the image above for a list of different blogs to enter each day! Alternately, visit my website at http://www.karenrock.com where I’ll also list blog sites for each day of the tour. Good luck and God Bless 😊