Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Heartwarming on Goodreads

Did you know that the Heartwarming authors are on Goodreads? Not only are our books on there, but we have a discussion group, too! Our very own Liz Flaherty does a fantastic job of creating discussion threads and many of your favorite Heartwarming authors love to pop in and chat. Not only do we discuss things like - How important is setting? and Where do you enjoy reading? - but we have monthly giveaways! Comment on the April giveaway thread for a chance to win all FOUR Heartwarming titles. 

Click HERE to go to the Heartwarming Discussion Board
Click HERE to go to the April giveaway thread!

Monday, March 30, 2015

The Trials of Daylight Saving Time by Marion Ekholm

Although Benjamin Franklin came up with the idea back in 1784, Daylight Saving Time actually started during World War I by Germany and Austria to conserve fuel. Other places adopted it, as well, but the United States didn’t put it into law until 1918. It was so unpopular in the states that it was repealed in 1919. It became a local option until war again brought it back, this time WW II. Today about 70 countries participate. Most of the United States spring forward and fall back in the appropriate seasons, except for Arizona and Hawaii.

Even though we’re one of the few places that doesn’t follow DST, Arizona is still affected by it. When the other states spring forward an hour, we merely drop out of Mountain Time and hook up with Pacific time. Recently the legislators in Phoenix discussed joining DST but it was voted down. One of my friends, who lived through that one experimental year when we did try DST, said it was horrible. It seemed to extend the heat.

Some areas of the country might enjoy having more light, but not us. We prefer the sunrise at 5:00 am when it’s the coolest part of the day. An extra hour at night when the temperature dallies around 115 degrees has no appeal.

Proponents give dozens of reasons why it’s important to the economy and society. However, the detractors (me among them) are happy that Arizona sticks with standard time. If you want real confusion consider Tuba City, Arizona, where the Navajo Nation follows DST. Imagine what it's like when everyone in the town isn't in the same time zone.    

Here are a few of the problems created by Arizona not following the crowd:

1.                  TV programs that were watched at a specific time, are now an hour earlier. As soon as you’ve adjusted to the time change, they flip back. 

2.                  None of your friends or relatives on the East coast can ever figure out when to call, and the first few minutes of the conversation is a discussion about time zones.

And here are some reasons why I’m glad we don’t:

1.                  I always fed my dog at 5:00 pm. Since we have no time change, the dog never had to suffer and was always fed when her internal clock said 5:00. She never had to bug me with soulful eyes wondering when she’d get her food the way she did when we lived back east.

2.                  I’m a person who rises with the sun, and it’s not all bad when the lawnmowers start at the same time.

3.                  When the sun dips, so does our temperature. Where’s the advantage to enjoying an evening on the patio when we’re still roasting in 110 degrees?

4.                  No need to adjust clocks. However, those automatically adjusted by satellites do require work. I finally figured out how to set my computer on Arizona time. There’s actually a setting for that!

How do you feel about Daylight Saving Time? Does it create any problems for you?


Saturday, March 28, 2015

Sit Down Saturday with Melinda Curtis

Today we're celebrating the release of One Perfect Year by Melinda Curtis.

This is Book 4 in your Harmony Valley series. Where did you come up with the idea for this book?
I've had Shelby and Gage in the back of my mind for a long time (even before Harmony Valley began). Who doesn't like a best friends to true love story? I wanted to expand the series beyond the original three friends, so this idea seemed a great way to so.

If you could caption the cover, it would say...
At last (Gage's thought: poor guy's been waiting a long time for Shelby).

In a nutshell, this story is about...
Best friends whose friendship has faded. They met in high school. It was love at first sight for Gage, but he ("a man of science") didn't trust in his feelings. And just as he's about to ask Shelby out, his best friend beats him to the punch. So he kept his feelings to himself - all through high school, all through college, and through their marriage. Now's his chance, except she wants to stay in Harmony Valley, and he's got a job in Kentucky.

You usually feature a few of Harmony Valley's elderly residents. Who will we meet in this book?
I love adding the warmth and humor of town residents. One Perfect Year features Doc, the town vet (Shelby's grandfather), and Mae Gardner, who used to own the town bridal shop. Mae was a lot of fun, because she has the ability to match a girl with the perfect dress (and give some interesting love advice in the process).

Do you have a favorite scene in One Perfect Year?
I really like the first kiss scene. It involves a starry night, a misunderstanding, and an enthusiastic St. Bernard. I like writing humor into touching moments.

What other behind the scenes info can you give us?
The inspiration for the title was Shelby thinking she lived in Harmony Valley one year while growing up and it was the one perfect year of her life. I tossed it into a list of possible titles and Victoria liked it.

As for other behind the scenes tidbits, I have a habit of putting my animals into books. Calvin, our chocolate lab, was the family dog in
Tally Discovered Sprinklers
Getting Married Again (his trenching of the yard for gophers was based in reality). Bonnie, my daughter-in-law's Aussie, was the inspiration for the dog in Summer Kisses. And Remington, my son's St. Bernard, is the very large sweetheart in One Perfect Year. Tally, my Shorkie, will be making an appearance in my December book (those who follow me on Facebook have seen her grow up over the past year) - can't wait!

We'll be seeing recurring characters soon. Kathy, Flynn's sister, is back and will meet her match in Time for Love (Book 5, out August 1). And then Will's sister, Tracy, finds herself back in town (Book 7, 2016).

What are you working on now?
I'm finishing up Book 6 (due out in December) and expecting to review Book 5 (Time for Love) one last time.

Thanks for stopping by today. Any last words?
I'm wondering if anyone would want to go back and relive a year of their lives. If so, which year and why? I welcome comments from both writers and readers. One reader commenter will be chosen Monday to receive a free autographed copy of any book from my backlist.

And don't forget: sign up for my book release list and receive a free read!

Happy Weekend!

Friday, March 27, 2015

Is It Easy To Bog Down In Research by Roz Denny Fox

When I started writing speakers kept saying: “Write what you know.” What I knew felt boring and insignificant. So I decided to research areas about which I knew nothing. I don’t know how many of you love to research things like character careers and settings, but it’s the part of brainstorming a new idea that I love. However, it’s easy to overdo and research an idea to death. I’m sure I could never write historical romances, because I’d have books on the time period piled high all over the house and I’d never get to writing. Even writing contemporary stories, I love to forage in bookstores for magazine articles and travel books that describe in vivid detail a place where I want to set a story.

Before the Internet became a treasure trove of information I used to write to the Chamber of Commerce in towns small or large that I’d selected for a setting. I would tell them I was thinking of relocating to their town and could they send me a packet of information. They always did. I never felt guilty about fibbing, because what they sent me enriched my story, and maybe enticed one of my readers to visit the city or town.

The packets contained more information than I could ever use. Maps, what jobs might be available, typical weather, major events, names of stores for shopping, agriculture, and sometimes famous people living or dead who’d come from there.

Now most towns and cities have Internet sites that give all that information, plus some have colored photos of ranches, farms or houses typical of the area.

My first choice is to visit a place and soak up the feel of the hustle and bustle, or even the lazy lifestyle if that’s why people choose to live there.

Restaurants and cafes are great spots to find an actual person willing to talk about the town. Most waitresses are happy to give you little known facts. Octogenarians sitting on park benches love to talk, and if they were born and raised in the place, they give you a rich history maybe not found in the travel guides.

But travel guides from Triple A have helped me enrich my stories, too. And buying a Fodor book on any given state is research money well spent. They do a fantastic job of dividing a state into sections, with enlarged maps, historic and information written by recent travelers. I can soon fill a notebook and several folders with pages of facts. Facts I may never use, or some could trickle into a book.

I have file cabinets full of newspaper articles from small town papers that may have caught my attention even if I only picked the paper up at breakfast when I was passing through. Some of those simply talk about local fairs, concerts, special days celebrated by local residents. Those are files I need to clean out regularly and hate to do. But when the drawers start bulging and no longer close, I know it’s time to pull up a waste basket. Then I have to decide what may still be relevant and what’s not. I have an eclectic library of books, such as Amazing Horse Facts and Trivia, National Wildlife magazines, and Western Horseman. Oh and I love a series called: Off the Beaten Path---you fill in the state. I like books on medicine, both holistic and physician. I have the PDR and the Merck Manual. I buy slang and visual dictionaries. (Why, I’m not sure) I love wandering in the psychology section of Barnes and Noble. I have books on love and hate and everything in between. Books on character and emotional traits. Crime facts and medicinal plants. Oh, and I have stacks of reports on activism both political and environmental. I’m running out of book shelves and at times it’s tough to decide what to do with all the trivia that sticks in my head.

But the upshot of me writing about this is to say I can easily bury myself in research which can set back the time it would otherwise take me to write a book proposal. So tell me, am I alone in having this bad research habit, or do some of you get lost in planning too?

Thursday, March 26, 2015

#Free #eBook Offer (Tara Taylor Quinn)

I'm at the four month countdown until my first Heartwarming Novel, Once Upon A Friendship, hits the stands.  Still no official cover that I can share with you, but I've read the final printout.  All changes are made and the story is in production.  It's the time of percolation.  The time when I can't do anything but wait.  And hope.  And worry.

I learned a long time ago that worry is a waste of time.  When I have done all I can do, it's time to focus my energy elsewhere.  I'm writing book seven of my Where Secrets Are Safe series right now.  The books are Superromances and this week every one of the first six books are on the Amazon bestseller list.  Book Five, Mother By Fate,
is out this month.  Book Six, The Good Father
is out in June, but is already on the bestseller list.  This seems like a good place for me to focus right now!

Then it's on to revisions for my second Heartwarming novel, Once Upon A Marriage, which is out in the fall.  I'm looking forward to them because I fell in love with the Historic Arapaho (an apartment building in Denver where all of the friends live) and her people.  I miss them and want to go back!  I need a few minutes just sitting in the ground floor coffee shop and I don't even like coffee!  The organic sandwiches are really good, though, and the conversation and sense of caring is wonderful.  Other than my friends who own the building, the residents are pretty much all senior citizens who've lived in the building for decades.  They're a hoot.  One of them even works in the coffee shop.  She's the first to go into protective mode when someone starts to threaten my friends.

Ah yes, I'm succeeding marvelously on keeping my focus away from the Arapaho...But I'm trying!  And because I can't give you the Arapaho yet, I'm giving you something else.  Today only, I'm giving away, competely free, an eBook copy of my first Heartwarming reprint - Four Times The Trouble to anyone who wants it.  This book was originally published as Jacob's Girls.  It was re-written and re-published to fit Heartwarming guidelines.  Happy Reading, Everyone!
To receive your free eBook copy Click on the cover!

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

What are you re-reading--and why? - Liz Flaherty

        I have a lot of favorite re-reads, don’t you? And they’re all over the place as far as time, place, and author.
          I’ve read a healthy percentage of Nora Roberts’ work, but my favorites are her early Silhouettes. In one of them, From this Day, the heroine is the manager of a small hotel.
          I’ve read that same healthy percentage of our own Muriel Jensen’s books, too, but my favorite two are A Carol Christmas and Valentine Hearts and Flowers.  
          I read everything Mary Balogh writes, but I’ve re-read her Christmas stories so often I think the books start jumping off the shelf every October.
          I’m a terrible Kristan Higgins groupie. We said hello at a conference in Chicago and I’m surprised she didn’t run when she read my nametag, and I swear I used my own name. I have read all of her books, most of them more than once, but Catch of the Day has a special place in my reader’s heart.
          I also come precariously close to stalking Kathleen Gilles Seidel. If I could only have one romance novel ever again, it would be Till the Stars Fall.
         Nan Reinhardt and Kristina Knight, besides being my friends, are also favorites. I especially love Nan’s Once More from the Top best and am going to read Kristi’s The Daughter He Wanted again soon.
          So why do I re-read these particular books? What is the common thread?
          I’m almost afraid to say it, but it is the usually the secondary characters. The reason I’m almost afraid is that I was warned from my very earliest
writing-in-longhand days to not give the supporting cast too much attention, time, or strength. It is one of those rules I occasionally blow off myself. Well, often.
          So do the writers I’ve listed above.
          And for this, speaking strictly as a reader, I thank them. Again and again and again. At least once for each time I read their books.
        A whole flock of orphaned kids stole center stage in A Carol Christmas. In Catch of the Day there is a wonderful, wonderful dog. In the Nora Roberts story there is a quirky, fun staff. Mary Balogh’s Christmas stories have children who clutch at your heart and lovely, snowy Regency holidays that are characters unto themselves. In Nan and Kristi’s books, I love the protagonists’ friends (yay, Julie!) as much as the heroes and heroines themselves. In Till the Stars Fall I am in love with Danny French and would still like for Kathleen to write his story. I’d be glad to give her pointers about the woman Danny would love.
          What about you? We’re not nosy or anything, but we’d really like to know—what are your re-reads and why? And, while you’re at it, tell us how you feel about secondary characters.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Romance is in the Air

What type of wedding do you dream of? Or, if you are already married, did you dream of? For a long time I’ve been fascinated with wedding stories, and when this one came my way, I couldn’t resist sharing it,

Once upon a time there was a girl by the name of Tana, and she was in love with Jason. Now Jason worked on a crabbing boat just off the Aleutian Islands, and they didn’t see each other nearly as much as they’d like. But they had set a Christmas wedding. Jason was flying home, and it was going to be perfect.

But, as in all romantic stories, not everything went according to plan. Before they could make all the arrangements, Jason was called back to the boat. After he complained to his captain that he’d had to come back before they could tie the knot, the captain stroked his chin.  Why not have the wedding on the boat? 

After much thinking and talking back and forth, Tana agreed. I mean, who wouldn’t love getting married on a boat in Dutch Harbor, Alaska in March!
But again, there must be conflict. 

The boat had to catch its quota before it could return to Dutch Harbor, so Tana would only have a ten-day notice. Finally the call came and Tana set out with two friends to fly to Alaska. Right in the middle of the worst ice storm in West Tennessee. They slipped and slid to Nashville to catch the plane, where they waited for over twenty hours to take off. That’s what every bride dreams of—puffy eyes from no sleep. 

While in the airport a news crew arrived to do a story on the iced-in airport and discovered Tana’s story. They interviewed her, but she never saw the story because…FINALLY the plane was able to take off.
Waiting to fly out

 Twenty-fours hours of flying and sitting in airports later, Tana and friends Geri and Eric arrive in Dutch Harbor.

 I think I’ll  let the photos speak for the wedding preparations…
Geri helping Tana get ready
Ready to begin with the Maid of Honor and Groomsman in place...
Now for the vows:

And no wedding is complete without this...

The reception...

After the wedding

The captain gave up his quarters to them, and for their honeymoon, they sailed to Seattle... 

Do you have any wedding stories? Tell me about them...

Oh, there's more to this story...unfortunately, I can't tell you what it is until October, but I will. Stay tuned.

Photos by Geri Moore