Friday, October 20, 2017

Why We Write

by Shirley Hailstock

In the last few weeks, I've written little. I've been consumed by the tragedies the United States has endured. My heart cries for people I do not know. The victims of fires, hurricanes, and mass murder have entered my life when I never thought they would. So why is my writing important? What do I give readers that can help them in light of the devastation that assaults our senses on every television station and streaming video?  Then I remembered something. A while ago, when the United States was attacked on September 11, 2001, one of my friends and fellow writers April Kihlstrom posted comments on our chapter loop on why writing is important and what we give our readers and future generations.

I'm reprinting it here, not because I'm to lazy to write my own blog, but because I could not have said this important message any better or clearer. As I said, she wrote this after 9-11, but you can insert any day of the week, and any tragedy that has befallen our sisters and brothers and it will be just as relevant.

Words Matter

In the light of Tuesday's tragedy, I have heard people say they do not feel like writing. And I understand that feeling, we are all numb with shock. But we are writers. When we do not write, we cut ourselves off from something that is an essential part of who we are.

I know the impulse to say: It's only writing, it's not important. That's often the reason our writing gets pushed aside and given the least priority in our lives. But I would suggest that writing may be one of the most important things we can do right now, not instead of donating blood or giving support or helping in other ways, if we can.

We are writers. We can give voice to the pain and horror and fear and grief and courage and strength we are feeling and seeing. As hard as it is, I would suggest we all try to write about this time. I do not think it will be over quickly. And it will be important, later, to have a record of what went on. When children and grandchildren ask: What was it like when the towers came down? It may be the words we write that will provide the answer.

We are writers. When we put pain and grief into words, we help others understand their own pain and grief. When we write about fears, we give shape to what others may only hazily understand and when fear has a concrete shape, we can begin to take steps to guard against what it is we fear.

When we write about courage and honor and strength, we provide role models for those who may face challenges in their own lives, now and in the future.

When we write about joy and love and goodness, we provide concrete reminders that pain and betrayal and tragedy are not all there is in the world, even if it may feel that way for the moment.

We are writers. When we write we tap into something inside ourselves that can help us cope in times of crisis. When we write, the words we shape may help others cope as well. We give comfort and hope where they might otherwise be none. We give shape to the emotions others might not know how to name.

So I encourage you to write, even if it's only a page. Perhaps not on your current manuscript, but write about something, perhaps about the tragedy unfolding. Because words do matter. 

–April Kihlstrom

  September 14, 2001

Re-reading this made me remember and understand that what I do and what I give to the world matters. I don't write about tragedy per se, but I often use the emotions that I feel in my writing.

So pick up a book and bask in the story. At the heart of every book, whether it be light hearted or deeply complex, are real people with real lives and how they cope with the external world.

And now, I'm back to writing.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

...just the perfect blendship...

If you're ever in a jam, here I am.
If you're ever in a mess, S.O.S.
If you're so happy, you land in jail. I'm your bail.
It's friendship, friendship, just a perfect blendship.
Cole Porter

"Flahertys Final Folly" on a NC mountainside.
I'm here by myself today while Helen DePrima’s off on a mountaintop in North Carolina, but it doesn’t hurt us to give each other a month off now and then. That’s what friends do, and although I’ve never met most of the Heartwarming Sisterhood—Helen included—we are friends.
Friendship. What a big, important word that is.
On Facebook, author Cheryl Reavis  got me going on this subject by posting this:
Conversation with a long ago nursing school classmate:
She: I'm embarrassed by some of the things I did in school.
Me: Why?
She: Because they were so silly.
Me: Like what?
She: I rode around on a broom singing "Goodbye, Old Paint." I felt like people were looking down on me.
Me: Well, there is absolutely no way I could have been looking down on you.
She: Why not?
Me: Because I was riding the other broom.
I told this to the DH, who was, for some reason, astounded by this heretofore unheard of episode of broom-riding. Why, I do not know, because Roy Rogers. But I told him: "Every morning we worked on the floor knee deep in sickness, suffering, and death. Then we went to class to hear lectures about sickness, suffering, and death. THEN, in the evening, we had two hours of ENFORCED "closed study" for more immersion in sickness, suffering, death." And all that has to go somewhere if you're going to survive. I took mine for a ride. On a broom. The irony here is that TPTB were constantly telling us that we were so much more mature than the previous class. 
(It must be noted here that Cheryl loves all things Roy Rogers. I'm not sure whether it's a blessing or an affliction, but... - Liz)
I loved this story, so I asked around for others. Tara Randel sent me this about enduring friendship: 

When I finally made the decision to pursue writing, I found my local RWA chapter and began attending meetings. I joined the chapter soon after and started to make friends within the organization. A few months later, I chatted with a woman who had recently moved to the area. We clicked immediately and before we knew it, we were carpooling to different writing events and conferences. We were both actively submitting our works-in-progress and learning from industry speakers who visited our chapter. Soon, we became critique partners, celebrated when we received “the call” and became published authors. Twenty-five years later, we’re still working together.

Along the way, life happened. When we first met, my daughters were very young and she had her son a few years later, so we had the joy of watching our children grow into successful adults. She was one of the first people I called after my oldest daughter passed away. We still attend RWA conferences together. Although our paths have taken us in different directions lately, we still meet for lunch and talk on the phone. Meeting my good friend Kimberley Llewellyn has been one of the greatest joys of my life and I owe it all to the dream of becoming an author.

I love when friendship endures. I have friends from first grade, others that I worked with for 30 years and still spend time with. I have writing friends with whom I've been able to share conversations no one else would have the patience for. I have the best friend I've been married to for over two-thirds of our lives and--even on the days I would trade him in for someone willing to do the dusting--he's still my hero.

Author and friend Kristina Knight says this:

Friendship - the real thing, not the surface thing - takes a lot of hard work and effort. It's being willing to give the hard advice, and to take it. Being available for drinks to celebrate or commiserate. I found this picture of Pinterest a couple of years ago, and I love it...and every time I see it, I realize how lucky I am to have a few 'fierce friends' in my corner. 

Sometimes a friendship can be a nice surprise. Nan Reinhardt and I met--I think--when I commented on a blog she'd written and she read one of my books. We found out we lived close-enough and after much conversation and logistics-mastering, we met for the first of many two-hour lunches. In the five years since then, we've gone on several writing vacations and some retreats--all quality time spent writing, eating, and not driving our husbands over whatever edge it is they think we drive them to. When I asked her about friendship, she said, "...we discovered that we were truly kindred spirits. You just don’t expect to find those after age 55 or so. Just goes to show friendship, like love is ageless. ;-)"

There were friends I met when I first started writing--Judith, Jenni, and Tina, who still hold places in my heart today although our writing and personal lives went off like so many forks in the road.
I know that when we write books, the most important parts played in the stories are those of the protagonists. They are center stage and the stars of the show, but the ones to the left and right--the best friends and siblings--are just as much fun to write. I've discovered, too, that they keep a lasting hold on pieces of the writer's heart. Just like our friends in real life do. You know, the ones who ride the brooms beside you.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

8 Fall Recipes that Pair Well with Books

Nothing pairs better with a good book than delicious food. So cozy up with one of our fall Heartwarming releases and some quintessential autumn tastiness. Here are some recommendations:

  • If you make Country Cleaver's Pumpkin Cheesecake Dip for a party, you will definitely get asked to come back. :) 
  • Butternut squash is a quintessential fall vegetable and purees into the silkiest soup ever! Try this Butternut Squash Soup from The Reluctant Entertainer. 
  • Big flavor can come in little packages. Your book club would love these adorable Pumpkin Pie Cheesecake Jars from Chin Deep. 
  • Fix Chef in Training's flavorful Slow Cooker Beef Stew and forget it. A few hours (and a few chapters later), dinner is ready!

Now you have plenty of sweet and savory options to better enjoy your reading experience (or take the guesswork out of meal planning so you can spend more quality time with a book)! If you want to take the guesswork out of what to read, check out the sidebar for some page-turning romances out this month.

What's your favorite fall flavor? If you could pick any beverage to enjoy with your book, what would you choose?

About Laurie: Laurie Tomlinson is an award-winning contemporary romance author and cheerleader for creatives. She believes that God’s love is unfailing, anything can be accomplished with a good to-do list, and that life should be celebrated with cupcakes and extra sprinkles. Her novella That’s When I Knew was featured in the Love at First Laugh collection, and her debut novel, With No Reservations, is now available from Harlequin Heartwarming. You can connect with Laurie on her websiteFacebook page, and Instagram.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

5 Ways to Leave Your Laptop (cell, tablet...) by T.R. McClure

The autumn leaves...drift by my window...🍁🍂🍁

Shameless, I know. Not only am I stealing from Paul Simon (50 Ways...), I have the nerve to steal from Frank Sinatra. But really, we know all too well winter is snapping at the heels of autumn so get outside before it's too late!

So what if you have a deadline? You might have to stay up a little later. So what if the sink is full of dirty dishes? I know for a fact the dishes won't go anywhere...unless you have an angel around the house. So here we go. The top five ways to leave your laptop (cell, tablet, computer) and go outside to enjoy the beauty of the season.

Number One!

Walk the dog. If you don't have a dog, borrow the neighbor's dog. If you don't have a neighbor or the neighbor doesn't have a dog, walk an imaginary dog. Remember those leashes with a collar on the end and no dog? It will give the neighbors something to talk about through the long winter ahead.

Number Two!

Rake leaves. The earthy smell of decaying leaves, the jewel like colors of red, orange, and yellow, the raspy sound as you rake them into a pile. Then let the kids jump in the leaves so you can rake all over again. If you don't have kids, borrow the neighbor's. If the neighbor doesn't have kids... Well, you get the idea.

Number Three!

Take a picture. Grab a camera and head out doors. If you don't have a camera, we'll skip borrowing from the neighbor and go straight to using an imaginary camera. Frame a shot with the thumb and forefinger of both hands. Put a yellow lab in the lower right corner, a colorful display of maple leaves in the upper left and you have a picture. How many times do we look at nature and not see? So frame a shot and really see the beauty around you.

Number Four!

Open the doors and windows. If you can't go outside then let the inside in. This may be your last chance to freshen the house with the natural smells of outdoors. Just to be on the safe side, if your neighbor happens to be a farmer, first make sure she isn't spreading manure on the field next door.

Number Five!

Alas! I wanted to suggest taking a walk under the Harvest Moon. But the full moon for October has come and gone. So number five is up to you. Can you help me out?

By the way, don't forget to return all those things (kids, dogs, leaf rake, camera, yellow lab) you borrowed from your neighbor.

As always, enjoy the read!

Monday, October 16, 2017

Good Morning and Happy Monday to Everyone!

Yeah, I know a lot of people don’t look forward to Mondays, but this particular one is kind of special for me. It’s my first time here at the Heartwarming Blog. For posting, that is. I’ve stopped by often in the past to read and enjoy the different offerings by the amazing authors who call this place home (waving a big hello to my friends).

I can’t begin to tell you how happy I am to be a member of the Heartwarming family. Thank you everyone for the warm welcome. I’ve been a Harlequin author since 2005 when I first sold to the line that was then called American and later changed to Western. After thirty-plus books, I’m sorry to say the line closed. My last Western book, The Bull Rider’s Valentine, will be available January 2018.

Luck, however, was very much on my side, and I’m now writing for Heartwarming. Anyone who’s familiar with me knows I love contemporary western romances, and I’ll be continuing to write those for Heartwarming. I don’t have a release date or title yet for my first Heartwarming book, but I’ll be sure to keep you posted.

If you’re at all interested about me, I can tell you I’m the mother of grown twins, a boy and a girl who are both out of the house and on their own (mostly). I’m also fairly newly married. I re-met my husband at our high school reunion several years ago and we tied the knot this past December. It’s truly my personal romance story come true ☺. I have an obnoxious cat for a muse (Ozzy pens his own mini-column in my monthly newsletter) and a special needs dog I’m convinced loves my husband more than me even though I’m the one who feeds him. While I don’t have any horses these day, I did own and ride them from the time I was a teenager until a few years ago and embraced the country way of life right down to raising chickens and growing my own vegetables.

But, seriously, that’s more than enough about me. Tell me something about yourself. I love connecting with readers and hearing about you, what you like to do, your families, and especially what you like to read.

Warmest wishes,

Cathy McDavid

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Sit Down Saturday: 5 Words for Smoky Mountain Sweethearts by Cheryl Harper

The first book in my new series set at the Otter Lake Ranger Station is Smoky Mountain Sweethearts. Let me tell you about it in 5 words (and if you believe that I have oceanfront property in Arizona to sell you).

Brave. My hero is a forest firefighter working at a nature reserve. He dreams of bigger challenges. My heroine is a widow desperate to find a part of herself she'd lost. 

Stubborn. Neither one of them gives up easily and neither one of them accepts a loss easily. The biggest time that's a problem? When they're going head to head in a race up the mountains.

Beautiful. I've lucky enough to have spent some time tromping through state and national parks with a camera, so it was easy to dream up a nature reserve that combined some of the prettiest places I've seen and some I'd like to see someday soon.

Romantic. Romance comes in a lot of different packages. Sometimes it's candlelight and roses. It could also be a moonlit walk to see otters.

Hopeful. This is one I hope applies to every story I write, but I have a hero afraid he'll never break out of his small home town and then afraid he'll lose everything when he does. But it's going to work out. Then there's a woman who's lost the husband she'd made all these plans with and a piece of herself, the piece that drove her to take risks and live life fully. But Averycan go home again, and surrounded by the people who really know her, she can find that part of her that she loves. 

If you're looking for a any of these words, consider Smoky Mountain Sweethearts. Here's the blurb:

How close is too close to the flame? 

Sam Blackburn excels at fighting fire with fire in Tennessee, whether it's putting out deadly forest blazes or rescuing his old friend, widow Avery Montague, who's lost her nerve on a steep mountain cliff. What happened to the daring, adventure-loving teenager who wasn't afraid of anything? As kids, Avery was always pushing Sam to be brave, to be better, so he's ready to return the favor. Except he's up for his dream job in Colorado as a hotshot smoke jumper, and he can't be in two places at once. His future is fraught with risk, but what's the point of living if you don't take chances? He just wants Avery to find the courage to go after what she wants, and he's hoping it's him…

And an excerpt:
The thing about epiphanies was that they never came when Avery wanted them to. After nearly a solid week of living under her mother’s extremely watchful eye, it had become clear they both needed a break from all their new togetherness.
Borrowing the car had been her first step to freedom. When her mother asked for a destination, only one place came to mind. It had been ten years since she’d made the easy hike up to Yanu Falls inside the park, but she would never forget the exhilaration of standing on the cliff that overlooked the falls which led to a cove of Otter Lake.
Since her mother was hovering again, Avery had grabbed a water bottle, waved her cell phone, and said she’d be back that afternoon. After so many years of living in the city, even driving the wide-open road winding up to the Otter Lake trailhead rolled off the weight of years.
The first inkling that not everything would go according to her plan was when she’d collapsed, panting, on the first bench along the trail, the one she and her friends had always called “Better Off Dead.”
Because anyone who had to stop there to rest already had one foot in the grave.
She and her friends had been punks, obviously.

Friday, October 13, 2017

We Love October! | by Loree Lough and Cerella Sechrist

Since neither of us has a book due this month, we decided to focus on … October!

Photo by Kathleen Redden (used with permission)

The Old English name for the month is Winterfylleth, which refers to winter’s full moon. October’s birth stone is Red Tourmaline, and according to legend and lore, the rock promotes healing.

And, as you’re no doubt aware heard, October is National Breast Cancer Awareness month. Breast cancer is the second most common form of cancer in women. Early detection is of vital importance, so how about celebrating National Make a Difference Day (October 28th) a little early by scheduling a mammogram on or before the 20th … National Mammography Day. It could literally save your life. (For information about imaging centers in your area, or you need help paying for a mammogram, contact the American Cancer Society at 1.800.227.2345 or visit or )

What the American Cancer Society wants you to know:

· A woman’s chance of developing breast cancer is 1 in 8.

· All women are at risk for breast cancer.

· An estimated 200,000 new cases are expected to be diagnosed in women in the United States this year.

· Men can get breast cancer too: About 2,500 men will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year

· Breast cancer is the most frequently diagnosed non-skin cancer in women.

· About 40,000 breast cancer deaths are expected this year. Don’t become a statistic!

· Stay healthy: maintain a healthy weight, exercise, and reduce alcohol consumption.

· Early detection saves lives; the American Cancer Society recommends yearly mammograms starting at age 40.

October 19th is National Seafood Bisque Day. What kind of friends would we be if we didn’t share a delicious seafood bisque recipe?


And did you know that that we celebrate National Dessert Day on the 14th and National Chocolate Cupcake Day on the 18th? Well, now that you do…there’s dessert!

By the way? In celebration of October 16th, National Dictionary Day, we looked up the words knock-knock, because the 31st is…you guessed it: National Knock-Knock Jokes Day!



Who’s there?


Ya who?

We’re happy to see you too!



Who’s there?


Orange who?

Orange you gonna open the door?


Speaking of doors, we can’t think of a more perfect opening to announce this month’s prize. Simply comment below, and on October 27th, we’ll randomly choose the lucky winner of a $20 Amazon e-gift card!

Oh. And one last thing: The 29th is National Hermit Day. Why not plan to spend it with a good book (we’ve suggested two, below <g>) and a pumpkin spice latte!

Until next month, we wish you beautiful weather!

About Loree:

With nearly 7,000,000 books in circulation, best-selling author Loree Lough's titles have earned numerous 4- and 5-star reviews and industry awards. She splits her time between her home in Baltimore and a cabin in the Alleghenies (where she loves to show off her “Identify the Critter Tracks” skills). She has 115 books in print. Loree loves to hear from her readers and answers every letter, personally. Visit her at Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and!

About Cerella:

 CERELLA SECHRIST lives in York, Pennsylvania with two precocious pugs, Darcy and Charlotte, named after Jane Austen literary characters. Inspired by her childhood love of stories, she was ten years old when she decided she wanted to become an author. These days, Cerella divides her time between working in the office of her family’s construction business and as a barista to support her reading habit and coffee addiction. She’s been known to post too many pug photos on both Instagram and Pinterest. You can see for yourself by finding her online at A Song for Rory, Book #2 in her "A Findlay Roads Story" series, is her fourth Harlequin Heartwarming novel.