Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Take a Trip with Me and Win a Gift Card . . . . . . . . . by Kate James

Dear Reader,

If you've read my bio, you know I love to travel. I enjoy exploring new places and learning about other cultures. This comes in handy, because I find that writing about what I know or have experienced leads to a more genuine, believable story.

I recently had the opportunity of taking a whirlwind tour of five cities in ten days—an exhilarating experience and well worth it, despite the significant sleep deprivation. For this post, I thought I would share some of my photos with you but, to make it fun, I will do it in the form of a contest.

You will see ten consecutively numbered pictures below. There is at least one picture from each of: Istanbul, Bangkok, Dubai, Hong Kong and Shenzhen. Leave a comment prior to the end of day tomorrow (PDT), matching each picture to a place (for example: 1 Shenzhen, 2 Istanbul, etc.; please note, these are not the correct answers).

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9


10

Feel free to enter more than once, but use a separate comment block for each entry please. The person with the most correct answers will win a $10 Amazon gift card. I will post the correct answers and name the winner early tomorrow morning.

In addition or instead, I am curious to know which picture you like the most and why.

Finally, I would welcome your comments about your favorite place in the world. Personally, I would love to spend some time in Camden Falls, the setting of A Child's Christmas, my November Heartwarming release!

I hope you enjoyed this photo trip with me.

Happy reading!

Kate

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

A Whole Lot of Heartwarming

Pamela Tracy here, and I'm home.  I spent the last week on a road trip/conference foray.  I can honestly say that except for the conference when I was up for a RITA (pinch, pinch) this was the best one ever.

Why?

First... I went to college in Texas.  Not in San Antonio, where the conference was, but in Lubbock.  Yup, I'm a Red Raider!  The picture below has Sandra Lagesse (she is going to be published soon and dates my father-in-law).  Next is Marion Ekholm (Heartwarming); Cathy McDavid (American, and she was my maid of honor); Stacy Connelly (Special Edition, she was bridesmaid number five and my nephew is still in love with her) and then there's me.  The last two are Mimi and Kelly, my buds from those ole college days.  They met us Tuesday morning (Mimi drove in from Abilene; Kelly lives in Hondo) and squirreled us around San Antonio.  Here we are at the Hemisphere Needle, mega high in the air, at a restaurant that rotates.  

Wednesday morning, the Heartwarming authors met in Marion's room.  We got ready for the Librarian Luncheon and for the Goody Room.    An unidentified arm, Marion, Anna, and Melinda get us started.





Below is Rula, holding the box she made that will hold our books!  On the side, she put pockets for our bookmarks.  We named her Boxmaker of the Year.


 If you think that's cool, get a look look at the water bottle label that Cheryl Harper designed.

We spent over an hour in Marion's room, getting organized and getting to know one another.


Kate James and Karen Rock
Rula

Marion, Anna S, Melinda, and Carol
 We weren't done.  We moved on to other things.  Such as...
Editor Extraordinary Victoria Curran and Pamela Tracy at the Harlequin Meet and Greet


Amy Vastine, Rula Sinara, Pamela Tracy, Tara Randel, and Carol Ross at the RITA
Almost Everyone
Top (left to right)
Tara Randel, Rula Sinara, Roz Denny Fox, Kate James, Cheryl Harper, Anna Steward, Karen Rock, Amy Vastine
Bottom (seated)
Victoria Curran, Jennifer Snow, Carol Ross, Marion Ekholm

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so enjoy the photo bomb today and know that the Heartwarming Authors know how to Rock! (Especially Karen)

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Sit-down Saturday with Flo Fitzpatrick

Welcome to the Heartwarming Blog, Flo.  We're so glad you're here.  Today we're celebrating


So, FLO, where did you get the idea for this novel?  
I HAVE A GOOD FRIEND WHO IS LEGALLY BLIND (SHE WAS DIAGNOSED WITH STARGARTZ DISEASE WHEN SHE WAS IN HER TEENS.) I DEDICATED THE BOOK TO HER AND THE AMAZING WAY SHE'S LIVED HER LIFE.  I WANTED TO CREATE A HERO WITH WHAT WOULD BE CONSIDERED A DISABILITY, DECIDED TO GIVE  RUSS A HEARING LOSS AND MAKE MIRANDA A SINGER, WHICH ADDED AN ELEMENT OF EACH OF THEM TRYING TO 'LIVE IN THE OTHER GUY'S SHOES'.
How long did it take you to write?  
FIRST DRAFT WAS DONE IN ABOUT TWO AND A HALF MONTHS.

What is your favorite scene?  
I'D SAY THE SCENE WHERE RUSS AND MIRANDA ARE AT A DINNER PARTY AND MIRANDA PUTS EAR PLUGS IN (PRETENDING TO LISTEN TO HER PHONE SO THE OTHER GUESTS DON'T THINK SHE'S CRAZY ) IN ORDER TO BLOCK OUT ALL SOUND. RUSS REALIZES SHE'S DOING THIS TO BETTER UNDERSTAND HIS WORLD. THEY SHARE  OF SILENT COMMUNICATION THAT I HOPE HELPED MOVE THEIR RELATIONSHIP TO A DIFFERENT LEVEL.

Who was your favorite character and why?  
THIS MIGHT BE A LITTLE WEIRD, BUT THE WOMAN WHO WILLS HER HOME TO BOTH RUSS AND MIRANDA, WHOM I NAMED "MISS VIRGINIA" WAS MY FAVORITE - EVEN THOUGH SHE'S ONLY 'ALIVE' IN FLASHBACKS AND HER DIARIES.


Tell us one thing you learned during research.  
I DISCOVERED SOME FASCINATING ARCHITECTURAL AND HISTORICAL INFORMATION ABOUT THE NORWOOD DISTRICT HERE IN BIRMINGHAM, ALABAMA.

What music would match the mood of this novel?
WHEN I WAS WRITING, I LISTENED TO A MIX OF DAN FOGELBERG, CHRIS DE BURGH AND PHIL OCHS (YEAH, ALL OLDIES) THEY'RE MUSIC MIXES ELEMENTS OF FOLK, ROCK, A LITTLE CLASSICAL AND COUNTRY.  I THINK ANY OF THEIR SONGS WOULD WORK FOR A SOUNDTRACK :) 
This is your 10th book.  Exactly what does that mean to you?
I THINK IT BRINGS ME A STEP CLOSER TO NOT FEELING LIKE A FRAUD WHEN PEOPLE ASK ME "WHAT DO YOU DO?" AND I RESPOND, "I'M A WRITER"!

What do you plan to work on next?  
I'VE GOT ABOUT FOUR PROJECT CURRENTLY UP AND RUNNING.  I'M WAITING TO HEAR FROM MY HARLEQUIN EDITOR REGARDING TWO HEARTWARMING PROPOSALS.  I'M ABOUT ONE CHAPTER AWAY FROM FINISHING THE FIRST DRAFT OF A PARANORMAL/ROMANCE/MYSTERY.  I'M HALF-WAY THROUGH WHAT I HOPE WILL BE THE START OF AN AMATEUR SLEUTH MYSTERY SERIES.  I REALLY ENJOY WRITING IN DIFFERENT GENRES, BUT I THINK IT MIGHT BE MAKING ME A LITTLE NUTS:)

What are you reading for pleasure right now?   
I JUST FINISHED TWO LEGAL THRILLERS by ROBERT DUGONI: "BODILY HARM  and WRONGFUL DEATH."  AND A BOOK THAT WAS RELEASED IN 1984, A TIME-TRAVEL CALLED ELLEANDER MORNING by JERRY YUSMIN.

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 www.cerellasechrist.com, 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.