Saturday, April 19, 2014

Sit Down Saturday with Linda Hope Lee

Today we’re celebrating the release of Linda Hope Lee's Eva's Deadline.

So, Linda, where did you get the idea for this novel?
I like to write about places I visit, especially small towns. I've vacationed for years on the Washington Coast and thought it would be a good setting for a series. The fictional town of Willow Beach in Eva's Deadline is a composite of several small towns there that I'm familiar with. 

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

"I'm so glad I found you."

How long did it take you to write?
The first draft took about two months.

What is your favorite scene?
The scene where Eva returns from spending Christmas in Seattle and finds herself seeking out Mark at the newspaper office. They realize how much they have missed each other and fall into each other's arms.

Who was your favorite character and why?
The hero, Mark Townson, is my favorite character. I like his loyalty to Eva's father and also his willingness to make sacrifices for love.

If you could pick fictional characters to play the hero and heroine, who would they be?
They aren't fictional characters, but the actor Patrick Muldoon, who is in a Hallmark movie I like, A Boyfriend for Christmas, could play my hero, Mark Townson. Kelli Williams, who plays opposite him in the same film, would be my choice for Eva Sinclair. 

Tell us one thing you learned during research.
I learned about the rules of inheritance.

What music would match the mood of this novel?
Being a Blues fan, I hear Percy Sledge singing "Let me wrap you in my warm and tender love" whenever Mark and Eva share an embrace. "Take Time to Know Her" and "When a Man Loves a Woman" from the same CD (Percy Sledge, When a Man Loves a Woman and Other Hits) also fit the story.  

This is your 21st book.  Exactly what does that mean to you?
It means I still have stories to tell. I've found I really like to write series and hope to produce more.

What do you plan to work on next?
I'm working on books 2 and 3 of the Willow Beach series. After that, I have a small town in Idaho in mind for another series setting.

What are you reading for pleasure right now?
I'm reading Muriel Jensen's Love Me Forever and enjoying it very much. It's set in Astoria, Oregon, which is only a few miles south of where Eva's Deadline takes place. 

Friday, April 18, 2014

The FERDINAND Paradox...Revisiting my Childhood by Anna J Stewart

I honestly can't remember a time I didn't have a book in my hands.  One of my favorite photographs is of me sitting under a hair dryer (remember those?) with a stack of books in my lap. I can still remember the buzz of the hot air and the slight hint of ozone.

One of my absolute favorite stories was THE STORY OF FERDINAND by Munro Leaf.  I still have my original childhood copy, along with a second and third copy as back up.  They're stored in my memory chest along with a baby quilt and my favorite stuffed lamb. That beautiful shiny cover, the intricate pen illustrations and the story of the bull who just didn't want to fight and instead spent his days smelling the flowers. I even included a mention of the story in my upcoming Christmas novella for Heartwarming (hoping it makes it through edits!).

This is the book I always give as new baby presents. If you know me, if you're having a baby (or know someone having a baby), that baby will receive a copy of this book.  I've given out dozens of copies and recently gifted one to one of my best friend's grandson. He's now old enough that they're reading to him but I was shocked to hear that the little boy's father made mention of the fact that Ferdinand dies at the end.  What?!  Are you serious?  First of all, no, he doesn't (gasp!  the horror!) and secondly, why on earth would I give a child a book about a bull who is killed because he won't fight in the bull fights? So I tossed off the comment and forgot about it.


This past week on Facebook, a fellow writer friend mentioned how her son was obsessed with Ferdinand (yay!), but that her husband made the comment, "Uh, oh, I don't think this ends well for the bull."  Whaaaat?  Another person actually thinks my beloved Ferdinand dies at the end? That he's buried under that tree and that the falling petals of the flower on the very last page alludes to his death?  Devastation!  My heart hurts! Depression! And so the debate began, with me gradually becoming more concerned that my beloved bull was in serious jeopardy.  So I pulled out my copy, tattered as it is, and re read the story.  And...

He's not dead.  He's not. I refuse to accept it. But I can also see where it's open to interpretation (and does it mean something that both individuals who made the claim are male?).  The book is a commentary on passivity, on not going with what's expected and breaking free of societal expectations and living your life the best way for you. The book was banned in Europe for a time because of it's "subversive" ideas (Hitler wasn't a fan, go figure).  But this book was one of Ghandi's favorite stories of all times.  Am I the only one who has a hard time believing Ghandi would never love a book (and encourage others to read it) where the bull dies (despite Ghandi's own tragic end) because he chooses peace over war?

Needless to say, this idea has shaken me to the core of my childhood.  The number of times I read this story--even recently--before this "death" idea took form, I never once thought Ferdinand was dead at the end.  Is it a sign of the times? Of this upcoming generation who see this book in an entirely new way? Or are we reading too much into a child's book that was really just about a bull who liked to smell the flowers.  I'm going with the flowers.

And I shall continue to believe that my beloved Ferdinand is just fine, sitting under his tree, and loving his life.

So this begs the question: what are some of your favorite childhood stories?  Have you read them lately?  Do you see something different in them now that you don't remember?  Please share! I'd love to know. 

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Naughty or Nice: Writing Sweet Romance Love Scenes by Karen Rock

In June 2013, Harlequin began publishing original content for its new, clean romance line, Harlequin Heartwarming. While this line does not contain faith-based elements, it would earn a G to PG rating because the emphasis is on creating a deep, tender, clean romance that would be appropriate to share with your daughter. As I’d been writing and publishing YA contemporary romance fiction prior to hearing about this line, I was intrigued at the possibility of writing a wholesome love story that would contain real life, moving issues to which readers could relate and identify. Unlike other published adult romance writers, the thought of a story without sex wasn’t daunting. With practice, I’ve learned to write swoon-worthy love scenes without them becoming graphic or explicit. Here are some tips for writing an unforgettable “Sweet” love scene that will make your readers melt:


1.      External Dialogue- I know it seems as though there should only be kissing and touching going on, but spoken lines from the heart, ones that reveal vulnerability, and deep emotion, can make the scene just as memorable, or more so, than a straight up hot and heavy one.


2.      Point of View. Chose the character you want to narrate this scene depending on who has the most at stake. His or her thoughts and feelings should reflect the intensity of the moment and give the reader new insight. “Sweet” love scenes are actually quite intense. There isn’t anything light about them. The couple cares too much to quickly jump in the sack and, since the build up to these scenes has been a tense one, the pay off needs to be BIG. The reader needs to experience it the way the narrator does so a tight, POV is a must. Also, if it is in the male POV, his thoughts can still be ‘manly’ but don’t have to be animalistic. He can focus on what it feels like to finally hold this beautiful woman, that it’s unlike anything he’s felt before, her touch and what it does to him, and so on…


3.      Touch- the action of the scene needs to be appropriate so clothes generally stay on and hands are touching areas that wouldn’t make your teenager blush to read it. Shoulders, neck,  cheek, jaw, ears, eye lids, mouth (of course J) shoulders, clavicle, waist, back, sides, arms, hair, back of the head, sides of the face… I’m sure there are more, but that’s about what I’d be comfortable reading out loud to my mom… so maybe that’s a good benchmark too.


4.      No closed door bedroom scenes. “Sweet” love scenes are meant to be felt and experienced. If the couple goes into the bedroom and closes the door- end scene- you’ve strayed from the wholesome aesthetic and left your reader without an intimate look into how these couples are together. I would rather keep the love scene appropriate and center stage then not described and behind a closed door.


5.      Visceral reactions- To keep the scene real and authentic, they should be included to the extent that would be considered PG or G. Feeling your temperature rise, your heart rate exhilarate, your pulse pound and breathing become faster is natural and works really well. Sounds like sighs, moans and groans are also okay without being used too liberally or in a way that isn’t romantic. Just think- what would Jane Austen do? Lol. She is one of the most romantic storytellers of all time and she rarely went beyond a kiss!


I hope you found these tips helpful, whether your write ‘clean’ romance or not. It’s nice to mix in a variety of love scenes as it will keep your readers surprised and engaged! Here’s an example of a “Sweet” love scene from my March Harlequin Heartwarming novel HIS HOMETOWN GIRL:


Jodi felt her joints loosen and she relaxed against him. “So you’re okay with us being together, just for this summer?”

He tucked a curl behind her ear and the feel of Daniel’s touch made her shiver. It was so quiet, she could hear every breath he took, felt it vibrate through him in the cramped bottom of the boat.

“Let’s enjoy every moment together until it’s our last.”

“But that moment isn’t today,” she said, so grateful that he’d agreed. She wanted to be with him until she couldn’t. It was that simple.

His hand smoothed the length of her hair as he gazed into her eyes, his expression tender and full of longing. “No. It’s not.” The words sounded so reverent they could have been a prayer.

His fingers trailed down her cheek to her lips, outlining the shape of her mouth. He bent down, his lips against her cheek, brushing it lightly. Shivers ran through her whole body, making her tremble. He brushed his mouth against the hollow of her temple then traced the line of her jawbone.

The aching anticipation for his kiss was suddenly too much and she reached up and pulled his mouth to hers. He kissed her gently, carefully, but it wasn’t gentleness she wanted, not when time was fleeting. She knotted her fists in his shirt, and pulled him closer. He groaned softly, low in his throat, and then his arms circled her, gathering her against him as the boat rocked beneath them. The small possibility of falling into the water vanished as soon as it occurred to her.

All that existed was Daniel. She could feel his warmth burning through his clothes and hers. She ran her fingers along his arm—soft skin over lean muscle, a scar like a thin wire on his biceps. It was an imperfection that made him seem even more perfect. He fumbled as he pushed her heavy hair aside to kiss her ear. She didn’t think she’d ever seen his hands unsteady before.

She trailed her nose across his jaw, inhaling the clean smell of summer countryside, of him. He released a pent-up breath, the sound like music. Her pulse tapped a fast beat and her breath quickened with it. She stroked his cheek and kissed every inch of his neck until he moaned again. Or maybe she’d made the sound; they seemed to share each breath, each heartbeat. It felt as if the universe disappeared and all that remained was the two of them, holding each other close.

“I forgot it was like this,” she said when Daniel pulled back and looked down at her. It seemed as if the stars hurtled down around her head like a rain of silver tinsel.

“It wasn’t.” He kissed her nose, then traced the line of her cheek with his fingertip, a dreamlike intensity in his gaze. “This is better.”

And she never wanted it to end. She felt feverishly alive, every nerve ending jangling as they watched the sky, enjoying the private moment.

“I agree,” she sighed, nestling against his side. “I wish we could stay like this forever.” When he toyed with her earlobe, she tried, unsuccessfully, to settle her heart back in her body. She watched the stars shimmer above and it also felt as though they were celebrating.

“Me, too,” he said softly in her ear. He captured her lips in a kiss so fierce and full of longing that it felt like a love song.
I hope you enjoyed the excerpt as much as I enjoyed writing it :)

Comment below and include your email address if you are interested in being entered to win a copy of WISH ME TOMORROW. I’ll contact the winner tomorrow as well as announce it on my facebook page,  HIS HOMETOWN GIRL is also available to purchase on (Nook) (Kindle) (Print Book) or on Amazon UK   (Print or Kindle) .


If you’d like to learn about my upcoming releases, appearances and giveaways, please check out my website at , ‘Like’ my author facebook page at or follow me on Twitter (I always follow back!) at I hope to hear from you!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Where is Spring? by Amy Vastine

Mother Nature almost had me fooled the other day. Last Friday and Saturday it was in the 70's and 80's here in Chicago. We were loving it. The kids had their shorts on. I was ready to take all the winter coats to the dry cleaners to get an end of the season cleaning before they go into storage. We even bought some new ceiling fans for the bedrooms because pretty soon we're going to need them!

Then this happened.
Yep. That's the view out my back door Monday afternoon. And yes, that's more darn snow. I've decided I am soooo done with winter weather that I could scream. 

I've also decided to blame America's love of the movie Frozen. All the little girls of the world can't get enough of it and it must be creating this polar vortex nightmare I can't quite escape from! Okay, okay, that might be a little bit of crazy talk, but can you blame me? I have two inches of snow on my deck in the middle of April! 

My husband is using this as an opportunity to lure me to another state, one without the extreme weather of the midwest. He would like to move to North Carolina or somewhere further south. I haven't been on board with this plan due to my job here and my family being in the area. But this snow is beginning to sway me. 

I say forget North Carolina - I'm ready to move to Hawaii. I'd still be a citizen of the US, but I would live on a beautiful island where it never snows in April!  Where is your dream place to live? If you could pack up today and go anywhere (money is no object because this is just for fun), where would you go? 

Monday, April 14, 2014

Hitting Refresh by Cheryl Harper

Created using Word Swag app
Hitting refresh...and I don’t mean on my email. Some days I’m afraid my inbox is just going to shout “Would you give it a rest already?”

Actually taking a break, catching your breath, can be hard to do, right?

I’m so very lucky to be able to work at home. I have flexibility, the sweetest coworker in the world (a dog named Jack), and the most difficult boss I’ve ever had to please (me). I also write at home. The dress code has to be the best perk of this setup. The challenge is that I am always at work, whether I’m sitting behind a computer or not. Every writer understands this, I think. There’s always something else that could be done. There’s the daily word count to meet, all the social media accounts to update, emails to answer, and so many details, large and small, that never quite seem finished.

(Commercial in 3, 2, … Coincidentally, this reminds me of the “She’s on the Job” promo running at 40% off of A Minute on the Lips! She’s on the job…get it? Did you see what I did there? Shameless promo or a bit of kismet? Both. Totally.)

Do I have overachiever, workaholic, perfectionist tendencies? Possibly (or maybe my BOSS does). Recently, I’ve relearned something important. Having something to look forward to gives me such a boost in energy, creativity, and production that it’s like magic. Why do I forget this? Too much to do, too little time or money or both… the list of reasons is long.

First, I was looking forward to the RT Booklovers Convention. I’ve never been to the convention, and I’ve never been to New Orleans so this is exciting. “Exciting” is one of those words that can also mean “source of a great deal of anxiety because I’m going to have to actually leave my coworker, travel only with my demanding boss, and probably say countless dumb things around people who aren’t related to me so therefore do not have to love me anyway.” Possibly I’m overthinking the whole thing. You won’t find that definition in a dictionary or thesaurus. But I’m looking forward to New Orleans.

Then my best friend mentioned she was heading to Florida and I should come along to sit on the beach. And things got “interesting” on top of “exciting.” A week to burn in the sunshine, read books, and laugh with my best friend… IN! This is when that there flexibility is truly a sweet blessing.

Just the promise of fresh perspective over my peeling nose and the ocean waves has brought renewed energy, creativity, and hope.  Getting away for a week (or even the promise of it) reminds me why I love doing what I do. I hope you have a chance to take a breath and hit refresh too.
Now, what's it been, ten seconds? Let me go check my email again...

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Leo of Dixie, you won a copy of BLUE RIDGE HIDEAWAY

Please send me your snail mail address or email if you'd like an electronic copy.
Cynthia Thomason

Sit Down Saturday with Muriel Jensen

Today we’re celebrating the release of Love Me Forever.

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

When I wrote Always Florence, released August, 2013, I thought of it as a stand-alone book.  But I became invested in the lives of Sandy Evans, the heroine's friend, and Hunter Bristol, who works for the hero and is also his friend.  They had to work out the issues that provided a good subplot to the August book.

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

"Friends Forever." 

I think love does its best work when under the passion and the dedication is the friendship that makes all that possible.

How long did it take you to write?

With revisions and AAs about four months.

What is your favorite scene?

There's a scene toward the end when the hero has finally resolved his obstacles to love.  It's late at night, he's gone to the grocery to find a bouquet of flowers but they're out and thanks to the advice of someone in the produce department, buys a watermelon - a good hostess gift in other parts of the world.  The heroine is shocked to see him - particularly with a watermelon - and when he explains that he's there to tell her that he loves her, she faints dead away.  It was the first moment of relief for ME in the story - he's finally free of his burden, and she is vulnerable at last.

Who was your favorite character and why?

Sandy, my heroine.  She's everbody's advocate and loves the hero so much - but there's so much in his way.  She stays strong, though, and wins him over.

If you could pick fictional characters to play the hero and heroine, who would they be?

Sandra Bullock as a redhead, Nathan Fillion with sandy blond hair.

Tell us one thing you learned during research.

That a watermelon is a fine hostess gift in China and Japan!

What music would match the mood of this novel?

Does anyone remember, "Could I Have This Dance" by Anne Murray?  "Could I have this dance, for the rest of my life?  Would you be my partner, every night? when we're together, it feels so right.  Could I have this dance for the rest of my life?"

This is your  90th book.  Exactly what does that mean to you?

That I have more endurance than I ever imagined.  And that rejection doesn't kill you - it just feels like it.

What do you plan to work on next?

I'm working on the first book in a new series about three siblings separated as little ones when their mother went to jail for murder.

What are you reading for pleasure right now?

HEIST by Janet Evanovich and Lee Goldberg.