Friday, November 28, 2014

Interesting Wedding Data by Roz Denny Fox

Does a big Wedding Mean the Couple Will Have a Good Marriage?

A few months ago I saw this topic discussed on TV. It generated a lively discussion and one speaker cited a blog by: . It sounded like something a romance writer should know so I decided to check further. The blog started by saying that weddings with 150 or more guests ensure the couple has a good marriage. There were some other qualifiers, such as the couple shouldn’t have slept with a lot of other people before settling down to marriage. The majority of the information came from a study done of 418 people, all single, all between the ages of 18 and 40. The study carried out by The University of Denver in 2007 and 2008 was called: the Relations Development Study. Their aim was to identify patterns of behavior that set people up for successful and fulfilling marriages.

The blogger wondered why the study hadn’t been done on couples who had been married more than a few years. I tend to agree. But the study utilized singles. The result over the two years was that 11% didn’t have a formal wedding ceremony and 28% of those couples had a high-quality marriage. And 41% of couples who had formal weddings achieved high-quality marriages.

The researchers speculated that couples who were not as happy in their relationship were less likely to celebrate being married.  They concluded that couples taking the time to have a public ceremony symbolized a clearer decision to commit to their marriage. They further deduced the bigger the guest list the bigger the commitment. The study found that 47% of couples with 150 or more wedding guests had higher-quality marriages than those (31%) who had 50 or fewer guests. I’m no mathematician, but the statistic they gave was 52% of those having a big wedding were more likely to have happier marriages than couples who had smaller weddings. They also claimed that the more witnesses a couple had at their ceremony, put pressure on them to keep their vows.

Now blogger, Wendy, remained skeptical as do I. She said the study didn’t say how many of the 418 original unmarried actually got married. And if their weddings took place any time over the 2 years of the study, some started out with more time in their marriage than others. I found it interesting that anyone would wonder enough about size of wedding equaling happiness to do a study. But groups study a lot of things. As I delved into this subject I ran across another study that asked if married people were happier than singles. According to psychologists and a study done by the Pew Research Center, the answer is yes. That, too, I found in a blog by Evan Marc Katz

The Pew Study said 43% of married respondents to their survey were “very happy” compared to 24% of unmarried individuals. Katz also investigated studies done by Michigan State University and the University of Florida which led him to think some people report being happier at the start of a marriage, but those happiness levels gradually return to premarital state. But he concluded from the reports that marriage won’t magically create happiness, and those entering marriage with high expectations for the marriage to transform their lives, need relationship skills to match. Katz is a dating coach. I found his site really interesting. To see more on this subject, and to read the many comments he received you can go to:

All the digging I did made me wonder why I rarely give my story couples a big wedding. Most have small, intimate circles of friends who attend their joyous moment. Do you write about one more than the other?

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Black Friday Early (Tara Taylor Quinn)

First – Harlequin is bringing Black Friday Early to you!  Click on the link below to purchase Wife By Design at 50% off the cover price!!  They are only offering this deal until 11:59PM ET on Thursday, Thanksgiving day.  Type in Coupon Code EARLYBF at checkout to get the Black Friday price.  For those of you who don't read my Superromance, this book is the first in my Superromance Where Secrets Are Safe Series.  It was out in February of this year.  Book Four, Child By Chance is out is six days!  I wish I could bring you a Heartwarming Black Friday deal, but I don't have a Heartwarming book out until 2015.  Anyway, click on the bookcover below to shop Black Friday Harlequin Style.  The coupon code is good for only one use, but you can use it on one of the thirty titles Harlequin has selected.

Now, on with my show…
I’m one of those who loves Black Friday.  On Black Friday.  I don’t want to leave my family, or the relaxation of home, or the mindset of openness, safety and thanks that permeates our home on Thanksgiving Day to go shop.  But come before the crack of dawn Friday morning and I’m excited and up and ready to go.
This year, there won’t be a lot of places to go.  I’m seeing that a lot of stores are open from 5am until 1am on Thanksgiving, but not opening until 8am on Friday.  And another change – there are sales on the Internet right now – Black Friday deals like I used to find only when I got up at the crack before dawn on Black Friday.  Today I saw one such deal.  I called my mother and a purchase was made on line.  I’ve already picked it up from the store and delivered it to her.  No waiting.  No hassle.  Not as much fun, either.
But One thing I’ve learned about life is that it changes.  And it’s counterproductive not to accept that.  But the world’s change doesn’t mean that I have to change what I know to be important to me.  I’m not going to shop on Thanksgiving.  I’m still planning to be up early on Friday.  To scout out the deals.  To have fun with my honey and get some breakfast out and buy Christmas gifts.  I just won’t be at Best Buy at 5am.  And I might spend an extra dollar or two.  I’m okay with that.
Happy Thanksgiving, Everyone.  I hope each and every one of you feel loved.  Appreciated.  Please know that I appreciate your support here.
Tim and I are cooking the turkey on Thanksgiving Day.  (And dressing and scalloped corn and green beans, too.)  What will you be doing?

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

From a Thanksgiving Grump

I’m the first to admit that I like shopping. Malls are happy places for me, places where a person can be waited on in a clean environment where someone else polished the glass on the showcases. Looking for sales is a particular skill I’ve worked to develop over the years. While shopping is fun, saving money is even better.

I also truly love writing for Harlequin’s Heartwarming line. My fellow authors and I compose stories about tender love, family values, and coming together with hope for the future.

So, why am I so upset about Thanksgiving this year?

Basically Black Friday is ruining the holiday for me. I never was a Black Friday shopper, but I actually admired those who were. But now Black Friday is threatening to take over what I cherish about the holiday. Many stores are open all day on Thursday. Many are opening before dark on Thursday evening and remaining open all night. Many are asking their employees to come in at 5 AM Friday to handle the customers.

Isn’t it possible that we are forgetting what this truly original and universal American holiday is all about? Aren’t we supposed to remember why we join around the table in the spirit of peace and harmony and good will (and yes, good food). Our ancestors have been recognizing the value of these few hours on a Thursday in November for many years. I think we should honor their memories and, for one day,  put the shopping on the back burner, the turkey in the oven, and allow all American families to gather together and say thanks.

Just sayin’

Happy Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

When holidays are difficult....

I'm guilty. I never realized how much, but I have taken my blessings for granted, big time. Four sisters,  two parents and in laws all within driving distance here in Northern, CA. That's a pretty big blessing, but an even bigger one? We all get along. Better than that, we all love each other and enjoy time spent together. Pretty Hallmark, huh?

I thought it would always be like that. I mean sure, my brain realized that people would age and health would deteriorate, but my heart sure didn't believe that. This year, my heart cannot deny the fact that there are family members suffering, with mobility that's compromised, pain that continues in spite of what doctors can throw at it. Will we all be together this year? I still cannot accept that it might not happen, that pain and mobility and suffering would overshadow our Hallmark celebration. My brain can accept it, but my heart cannot.

I finally understand why holidays are so difficult for some because blessings don't last forever, even though the love does. Do you have loved ones that you can't celebrate with this Thanksgiving? How do you keep them close to your heart?

Monday, November 24, 2014

Has Thanksgiving Dinner ever been less than you expected?

By Patricia Bradley

I love Thanksgiving. And I believe there will be tons of blog posts on what we are thankful for, or should be thankful for. As there should be. And not just on Thanksgiving.

So, I thought I’d write a post and title it Funny Disasters on the Way to the Dinner Table. Or…What had happened was….Or...What was your most disastrous Thanksgiving Dinner…

At the end of the blog, you can vote on which title you like the best.

I’d like to say I have only one disastrous story to tell. I'd really like to say that.

Story# 1:
It started out a disaster way before Thanksgiving. It was my first Thanksgiving with my husband, and we are living with his parents. See, disaster already. Anyway, Thanksgiving morning, nine o’clock, my new mother-in-law wanders into the kitchen and opens the refrigerator, looking for the turkey she meant to put in a couple of days ago. She forgot, and I didn't know you were supposed to thaw it…Hey, I was just 17.

I thought she’d be real upset, but no. This wasn’t the first time she’d forgotten. Out came the turkey from the freezer, we peeled the plastic off and stuck him in the oven. Frozen. About 3 hours later, she took the giblets out. And filled the cavity with dressing. I skipped dinner that Thanksgiving.

Story #2:
Cold Thanksgiving Day. Many years later. Company is gathering around the table. The turkey is beautiful and no, I didn’t forget to thaw it—I learned my lesson watching my former mother-in-law. Oh, by the way, the next year, she forgot again, but instead of sticking the turkey into the oven to cook with the giblets inside, we took a hammer and chisel to the bird.

As I was saying, the turkey was beautiful. Golden brown. I took the dressing out of the oven. It too was golden brown. Found a dishtowel to pick the dish up with, not knowing it was damp. Did I tell you how pretty the turkey was? It was delicious, too. Even without the dressing.

Story #3.
This last story is from a friend who is known far and near for her wonderful rolls. For weeks before Thanksgiving morning she had told her husband her oven was wonky. But he thought it was fine. She put her rolls in to bake and when she took them out, the bottoms of the rolls were black. And hard. 

The tops were nowhere near done.  She threw them out in the yard for the possums to eat. Two weeks later, the possums had not touched them. 

She thought the winter would break them down. Snows came and went. The rolls didn't. They littered her yard and refused to break down. She told her 8th grade class about them. That spring, she mowed over them. A piece broke off one, sailed through the air and broke her living room window. 

The next Thanksgiving her doorbell rang. It was a student from the year before with a large pan of baked, warm rolls and a note—“Don’t worry about the bread this year.”

So, as I look forward to Thanksgiving dinner at Cracker Barrel this year, I am thankful for so many things. My family, my friends, that I’m warm, that God has blessed me so much…and that  I haven’t cooked a turkey in 17 years.

Do you have a Thanksgiving dinner story to tell? If so, share it. If not, which title would you choose?

And have a blessed Thanksgiving this year!

Friday, November 21, 2014

Thanksgiving...What's on the Good Side? by Shirley Hailstock

Back (before the flood) when I was in college, I met a woman who became a very good
friend.  She was the Director of Students, even though she was only a few years older than me.  She once told me that she was thoroughly depressed about losing a boyfriend.  He was a high-profile actor and everyone recognized him.  When she was with him, there was an added prestige she garnered from both her friends and his.

When the relationship broke up, the prestige went with it and it plunged her into a place that she thought was dark and so deep she couldn't claw her way out of it.  One night, in the wee hours of the morning when she was unable to sleep, she got up and took a piece of paper.  She drew a line down the middle and on one side wrote Good and the other Bad.  She wrote down the things in her life that were good and weighed them against those that were not.  The list was much longer on the good side of the page.

I have never forgotten this technique when I’m feeling low or feeling that my life is spinning out of control and there is nothing I can do about it.  The good always outweighs the bad.  At this writing, Thanksgiving is approaching and I have much to be thankful for.  I have a lot to list on the good side of my paper and very little on the not so good side.

I sent in a manuscript this morning (wee hours mind you, but it's done).  That, in and of itself, is a monumentally good thing.  I finished the book, developed the blank page into real live people I liked and wanted to spend time with.  People I want to share with readers.

I have my family, immediate and extended, all well and healthy.  I have my romance writer friends, all supportive and eager to share information.  I have non-romance writer friends who I’ll see and toast the holidays with.

I have my shopping done for the big meal on Thursday and the beginnings of some Christmas shopping too.  I can spend some quality time with my daughter since I don’t have a deadline to keep me chained to the computer.  We can do whatever it is she wants to do (within reason).  She’s twelve.

On the not so good side, I have to cook the meal.  But then I get the leftovers.  I have to clean the house, both for Thanksgiving and before I begin another writing project.  If I don’t, it won’t get done until after the next book.  And by then I won’t be able to get into my office or the front door.

So you see the good is much longer than the bad.  Have a wonderful holiday.  Don’t eat too much.

And remember the soldiers who are keeping us safe to enjoy family, friends, and a good meal.

Happy Thanksgiving!  

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Aloha and Happy Thanksgiving from Lee McKenzie

Hello, Heartwarmers! I hope everyone’s having a wonderful Thanksgiving and enjoying the transition from autumn to winter. I’m adjusting to cooler temperatures and waning daylight hours as I bask in the memories of my recent Hawaiian cruise with Handy Man—sixteen glorious days on the MS Zaandam, sailing from Vancouver to the Hawaiian Islands and back again.

The trip included five days at sea on the way to Hawaii and another five to sail back, which seemed like a long time before we embarked but not nearly long enough by the time we returned. Isn’t it funny how that happens?

Here are some photos and anecdotes of our Hawaii cruise and, if you read on, a giveaway.

I couldn’t believe we had the bow of the ship to ourselves as we sailed beneath and beyond the Lions Gate Bridge. Farewell, Vancouver!

I easily developed a routine for the days at sea:

  • a morning exercise class in the fitness centre (the reason for this will soon become apparent)
  • a hearty breakfast
  • two hours of reading and writing in the library
  • cooking demo in the Culinary Arts Centre
  • a three-course lunch in the dining room
  • time spent reading and writing
  • four laps around the promenade deck (the reason for this must now be apparent)
  • dress for dinner
  • drop by the Sip and Savor
  • an hour in the lounge listening to a violinist and pianist play classical music
  • a four-course dinner
  • evening entertainment

And trust me...“wash, rinse, repeat” never sounded better! Still, it was wonderful to say, “Hello, Honolulu!”

Instead of staying in the city, we rented a car and set off to explore the island, and we didn’t have to drive far to find a quiet beach.

After a wonderful day of sand, surf and sightseeing, we waved goodbye to Waikiki and Diamond Head as we set sail for The Big Island.

The next morning we said hello to Hilo.

And yes, the sand is black.

Then we were off to Maui, and the tenders were lowered to take us ashore.

Visitors to Lahaina are greeted by the city’s famous banyan tree. Yes, believe it or not, that’s one tree!

After a wonderful day of shopping and then lunch on an open-air lanai overlooking the water, we set sail once again.

On Kauai we cooled off with pineapple infused beer...

...and were greeted by an unexpected guest at the beachside restaurant in Nawiliwili.

That was the first time I've ever seen a chicken in a restaurant that wasn't on a plate.

 All too soon we were saying farewell to Hawaii and embarking for Victoria.

The return trip was equally memorable. I had entered a recipe contest sponsored by the ship's Culinary Arts Center...and I won! So on October 1, which was also release day for The Parent Trap, my most recent Heartwarming, I hosted that day's cooking demonstration, and the oh-so-adorable Chef Sebastiano prepared my Tomato, Basil and Goat Cheese Tart.

And here's my award-winning recipe.

Lee’s Tomato, Basil & Goat Cheese Tart


Pastry, enough to line a 10-inch tart pan
¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil
1 to 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
8 medium-sized ripe Roma or plum tomatoes
1 cup fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced, plus whole leaves for garnish
8 ounces goat cheese
salt and pepper to taste


Prepare your favorite pastry, preferably one that’s extra flakey. (In other words, a recipe that calls for lots of butter!) Wrap pastry in plastic wrap, chill in refrigerator for half an hour. This makes it easier to roll. Roll the chilled pastry and line one 10-inch or four 4-inch tart pans. Brush the pastry with olive oil.

Peel and thinly slice the garlic. Heat ¼ cup of olive oil in a skillet. Lightly sauté the garlic for about one minute, just until it starts to brown. Remove garlic with a slotted spoon and set aside.

Cut tomatoes in half and remove the seeds and any tough membrane. Tomato seeds are bitter, so don’t skip this step! Roma or plum tomatoes are best because they maintain their meaty texture after baking. Season cut sides of tomatoes with salt and freshly ground pepper. Place tomatoes cut side down in the skillet and cook over medium heat for four or five minutes. Remove the tomatoes to a plate and set aside.

Add the sautéed garlic and chopped basil to the remaining oil in the skillet and cook just until the basil wilts. Remove skillet from heat, add the goat cheese and stir or whisk until smooth.

Spread the cheese and basil mixture in the pastry-lined tart pan. Arrange the tomatoes cut side up, on the cheese. Arrange one or two whole basil leaves on each tomato.

Bake at 400 degrees for about one hour.

Remove from oven and cool on a rack. Cut the tart into wedges or remove the individual tarts from their pans, place on serving plates drizzled with a balsamic reduction and garnish with a sprigs of fresh basil leaves.

Enjoy! And to be eligible to win a copy of The Parent Trap, please leave a comment! Tomorrow I'll draw a winner and post the name in the comments.


Happy reading and have a very Happy Thanksgiving!

Until next time,
Lee McKenzie
Writing fifty shades of pink

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Thankful by Syndi Powell

My favorite holiday is Thanksgiving, and in America we are only a little over a week away from it. Alice Walker, author of "The Color Purple" said, "'Thank you' is the best prayer that anyone could say. I say that one a lot. Thank you expresses extreme gratitude, humility, understanding." It may be the best prayer, but at times it is also the hardest to say.

For those of you who know me, this has not been my best year. There have been a lot of challenges to overcome as well as pain and sorrow. But this has also been a year of tremendous growth and opportunities. It has been easier to say "thank you" for the opportunities but almost impossible to express my gratitude for the challenges.

 Still, I want to say thank you for a few things this year:
Thank you for my ex-husband for his courage to imagine a different life for us where we would both find contentment and strength.
Thank you for my parents who allowed me to move in when I needed somewhere to go and for all the support they have shown me through everything.
Thank you for my sisters who despite their own challenges have been there for me too.
Thank you for my managers and co-workers who have been a part of those challenges as well as those opportunities. I learned a lot about relationships because of them.
Thank you for my agent and editor who have pushed me to become a better writer and person.
Thank you for lawyers and doctors who use their expertise to advise and guide me.
Thank you for strength and courage and the refusal to give up.

What are you thankful for this year?

Join us at our Fall for Heartwarming Holiday Facebook party today between 3 and 9 pm ET/ noon and 6 pm PT. We're playing games and giving away prizes. we'd love to see you! You can find us HERE

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

In Defense of Super Hero...Movies by Anna J Stewart

Every time they announce a new super hero movie, I hear the groans. I read the Tweets. I see the social media explosions.  Another one? Haven't they run out by now? Do we really need another super hero movie?

The logical answer--probably not.  My answer? Oh, yeah.  And I say that from a writer's and a movie fan's perspective.  The idea for this blog came recently when it was (finally!) confirmed that actor Jason Momoa would be playing the (until now) laughable and maligned Aquaman.  First off, I should admit to a major bias when it comes to this actor.  I've been mildly (to say the least) obsessed with him ever since he first appeared on Stargate Atlantis. I even modeled one of my heroes after him (when I was writing paranormals).
Some of you may recognize him from Game of Thrones. Confession time: he was the only reason I started watching the show.  He was a character of few words on Stargate; even fewer on GoT (and let's not discuss his fate on the latter *sob*).  But there's just something about him that hooks my heart.  He also stared in the remake of Conan the Barbarian (which, yes, I saw and I actually liked).  There's an intensity that comes with this man that makes the idea of him playing the aforementioned Aquaman all the more intriguing.  This will not be a cartoon. This will be amazing.

But another super hero movie?  Ugh, right?  Nope. Love them.  Here's why.  Super hero movies ARE the hero's journey.  Let me qualify that. GOOD super hero movies are the hero's journey (I'm still trying to pretend The Green Lantern didn't happen and do not get me started on The Green Hornet).

These movies are classic story telling...from Star Wars and Luke Skywalker (and Han Solo), to Iron Man to Thor...origin stories can be considered formulaic, but they work, because we relate to them. Because we understand them and because, when done properly, they're motivated characters.  Also, let's not kid ourselves. The right actor in the right part is also vital.  Try imagining someone else playing Tony Stark at this point other than Robert Downey, Jr.  Or another actress portraying Black Widow besides Scarlett Johansson. Or can you imagine Ben Afleck as Bat...oh. hmmm. Eesh.  We'll, we'll see on that one.

One of the earliest books I ever read on story telling and myth building was Joseph Campbell's Hero with a Thousand Faces. To this day it's one of the best books I've ever absorbed. Bits and pieces of that have stuck with me and echo in my mind whenever I'm watching one of these films.  The good ones, the ones that stand out from the rest...they're about character over explosions. Motivation over machinery.  It's also why, typically, the first in a franchise is the best.  Because its character exploration.  Sequels (ahem, Iron Man 2) tend to push character to the back burner in favor of special effects and idiotic villains.  Unless you get the right actor, the right director, and most importantly, the right writer to take these characters into different dimensions. The exception? Watch Nolan's BATMAN trilogy.  Now there's a character arc.

Even those I don't anticipate being good can surprise me. I was stunned at how much I enjoyed Guardians of the Galaxy.  I truly felt going in, this was just Marvel's and Disney's way of getting more $$ into their overflowing superhero bank accounts. I was so wrong.  Because Peter Quill (Christ Pratt in a career making performance) is on his own hero's journey. And it is awesome. The baby dancing Groot at the end? Bonus!

So, I say bring them on.  Write them well. Do them justice and remember that even super heroes (even if they come from another planet), are in essence human.  Because on some level we relate to them...even when they're saving the world.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Are You a Wordsmith? by Marion Ekholm

I happen to enjoy words and would just as soon read a dictionary or thesaurus as I would a novel. Okay, I’m exaggerating. But I do find words that are new to me fascinating. I also have trouble with words that I can’t remember. I’m not referring to those times when I have a senior moment (although those times are becoming more frequent). I mean when my girlfriend and I want to go to a particular restaurant and I have to describe it – “You know where they have lovely clothes and unusual gifts.” And after I mention the address, the rocking chairs on the porch and the last time we were there she says, “Cracker Barrel?” That word forever eludes me. 

Part of my wordsmith library.
I’ve been asking people if they have particular words that give them problems. My friend in work said “Orange.” Anytime she has to spell that word, she has a hard time. Okay, that may be a stretch. After all, how often do you have to write the word, and where’s the problem if you misspell it on a grocery list?

Unless you’re dealing with my father. He had a fit every time my mother misspelled margarine or mayonnaise on the shopping lists she gave him. They’d argue over her spelling whenever he went to the store for her because she always managed to misspell at least one word. He never understood why she couldn’t learn the proper way to spell. (I sometime wondered if she refused to learn them on principle.) He read two newspapers, front to back, every day. Whenever I asked him to spell something for me for one of my school projects, he always told me to look it up in the dictionary. After struggling with it for a while, he’d give in and spell the word for me. And he was always right!
My parents on their 25th Wedding Anniversary.
And speaking of dictionaries. In fifth grade, I had a reading teacher obsessed with having us open the dictionary to within pages of the word she gave us. Can you imagine? To this day, I can’t use a dictionary without remembering the hours we wasted on that project. 

If I have a problem with a particular word, I’ll spend a great deal of time on it, so I’ll remember it in the future. Restaurant once gave me a lot of difficulties. I missed kitchen in a 4th grade spelling bee never to forget it again. Now I struggle every time I write “every time.” Sounds like a simple word, but I cannot understand why anytime is one word but every time is two?

I asked some writers at Valley of the Sun if they have any particular words that give them trouble. One woman has problems with lie or lay. Which one should she use? Instead of trying to figure it out, she tells her characters to just get on the bed!

What about effect or affect? How about shine verses shone? The latter never sounds right.

One website I enjoy for words is There are quizzes and all types of fun games with words if you don’t mind the popups that distract on the sides.  There’s a section for commonly confused words that includes affect and effect. But I didn’t see orange anywhere.

Do you have a word or words that boggle your mind? If you can think of one, let me know.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

A Promoting We Will Go

It's not just about writing.  It's about all the other things you do.
The first book signing I did was over a decade ago.  
It was for a book called It Only Takes A Spark.
It was the most exciting.
Here I'm at a booksigning at the Scottsdale Main Library, just last Saturday.
At the first book signing, all I did was sign and visit, and hawk.
At this signing, I signed, and visited, and worked on my next book.
One note:  My first book was with a line called Heartsong Presents.
This week, the line discontinued.
It's like when they tear down your old high school. 

Besides booksignings, authors wind up giving workshops.
Maybe not all authors, but most that I do.
I'm a handout kind of gal.
I also do not need a microphone and if you force me to use one,
I start talking monotone and freeze.

I've learned to team up with another author, usually from another genre.
It doubles your audience 
might introduce you to someone who's never read - in my case - sweet before. 

My favorite places to promote are libraries and festivals.
How about you?
Where do you go to promote...
Where do you like to hear authors promote?

Right now, I'm promoting two books.

Holiday Homecoming, my brand-new Heartwarming.  It's the third in the series.  
It's available from e-harlequin

I'm also promoting the first historical I've written in a decade.  
It's called Two by Two and is in an Indy Collection called Mistletoe Kisses.
For the month of November, it's only 99 cents.
Hop over to Amazon and get it today.

You want to know what I'm promoting today?  
Well, it's Sunday.  I'm off to church.  
Then, I've got to clean the stuff off the wood where my new countertops will go on Wednesday
 and inbetween all that
I need to write 3000 (yes, 3000) words.

Anybody got an aspirin?  

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Sit Down Saturday with Pamela Tracy

Today, we're celebrating the release of 
Holiday Homecoming 
Pamela Tracy

She loves to both write and read

Where did I get the idea for this novel?
Meredith was born in the first book of the Scorpion Ridge Series.  She’s a bit like me.  She likes to be in charge, gets a little possessive of what she thinks is hers, and loves animals.
What made this book was a story told to me by a mom sitting next to me at my son’s little league game.  It was about an old man who died and his children had to clean out his middle-of-nowhere Arizona desert cabin.  They found bones.  Human bones.  They were terrified.  Turns out, the dad was a grave robber of Native American sites. 

In looking at the cover, if I could add a caption or captions, what would they say? 
"I only look like I’m at peace."

How long did it take me to write?
This one took about four months.

What is my favorite scene?
LOL, ah the life of a writer.  I’ve already written two books since that one.  I know I love the scene where the heroine’s daughter make’s rainbow loom bracelets for everyone in the wedding party to wear.  My nine year old taught me how to make them :)

Who was your my character and why?
Meredith, because she softened.  Jimmy because he recognized a good thing when he found it and he learned how to prioritize.

If I could pick fictional characters to play the hero and heroine, who would they be?
I have a huge template.  Here's the character page for Meredith and Jimmy.


James Murphy
Meredith Stone
Age 29 - list maker
Works for Nature Times magazine
Dodge black 250 truck
Age 28 - fills calendars
   wears ponytails

Deceased wife - Regina, gone a year (cheated with a dark-haired personal trainer) was 26
Brother Danny (28)- left at alter
Father Mitch (cattle and sheep operation)  Mother Debbie
Uncle Matthew - farmed beans, squash, corn, etc.
Aunt Shari
Boss Thom Steward
Grandpa Ray (82) Wife Sandra. (Sandra dead five years) Only likes Zack driving him.
Dog Pepper

Dad Burt (doesn’t much like animals)
Mom Karen - busy Realtor
Brother Zack - in med school
Susan - about to get married, from college
  • owns a brown SUV

One thing I learned during research.
I took my son and five of his friends to a Wolfdog Habitat.  I learned that most people don’t have the time or knowledge to handle the needs of such a magnificent animal (notice I didn’t say pet or all people).

This is my 27 book.  Exactly what does that mean to me?
LOL, that maybe I do now how to write.  Now, if I could just get past horrible, horrible writer’s block on the one I’m working on.

What do I plan to work on next?
You met Adam in the first story.  He was the mural artist.  Well, he’s now working for Yolanda, who was the maid.  She’s no longer a maid!  

What am I reading for pleasure right now?
The Esther Diamond series by Laura Resnick.  I am just starting Doppelgangster 

Friday, November 14, 2014

We Talk to Ourselves...a lot!: Autumn Recipes edition by Loree Lough and Cerella Sechrist

LOREE: Hello, Readers!

Cerella and I are having a hard time accepting the fact that it’s November already! Where we live, the trees are pretty much leafless, there’s a nip in the air, and we’re even seeing Christmas tree-laden trucks on the highways!

So we thought…why not slow things down with some of our favorite rib-stickin’ Autumn recipes to warm up your kitchens…and your hearts!

Here’s a family favorite side dish that’s a welcome (and easy!) change from the traditional green bean casserole. Even when I double or triple the recipe, I never have leftovers!

CERELLA: I’m adding Loree’s green beans to my list of holiday foods to try! Lemon and pine nuts? I’m there!

On a sweeter note, my family has a long-held tradition of what we call “Cookie Baking Day.” Instead of hitting the stores the day after Thanksgiving for Black Friday deals, my extended family would gather to cook 100+ dozen cookies in preparation for Christmas. We construct makeshift tables of sawhorses with wooden planks, line them with brown paper bags, and then load them with a variety of cookies. As a child, I loved Cookie Baking Day. Not just for the obvious reasons (taste testing!) but because the kids’ job is to paint the sand tarts with dyed egg washes and then decorate them. Silver pareilles become Santa’s buttons, cinnamon dots become ivy berries, and green and red sugar sprinkles add a little sparkle to everything our impression cookie cutters (now antiques!) can create: presents, stockings, toy soldiers, and even turkeys.

Over the years, Cookie Baking Day has created many fun stories, but my favorite is always the one about my great aunt, Violet, and her quest for rum. In true Jack Sparrow fashion, when it came time to make the rum balls, we realized we had no rum. Aunt Violet, although a teetotaler, volunteered to make the run to the state liquor store for the necessary ingredient. Aunt Violet was a doll, but she had a bit of a blunt and abrupt manner. She charged into the liquor store wearing her dough-splattered apron, her clothes besmirched with puffs of flour, and her white hair on end. When the clerk asked if he could help her, she demanded rum. He asked what sort of rum. She replied, “I don’t know; I just need some rum!”

I’m sure liquor store clerks are used to all manner of customers, but I like to think Aunt Violet made their day. In honor of her memory and to celebrate our Cookie Baking tradition, here’s our family recipe for Rum Balls.

Whether you’re in the States and celebrating the Thanksgiving tradition, or one of our readers in another country, we hope your autumn season is filled with family, friends, and blessings!

About Loree:

With nearly 5,000,000 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). The release of Once a Marine (#1 in the “Those Marshall Boys” series for Harlequin's new Heartwarming line) brings Loree’s number of books in print to 104! 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. She has won various competitions and a scholarship for her writing, which include devotionals, full-length plays, and novels. She 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. Her novels exhibit her love for both the written word and food in fiction. You can find her online at her website where she pens “Literary Fare: Fiction & Food”, a blog for readers.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Creating Diversions by Kristine Rolofson

I’m a writer, therefore I can think of all sorts of things to do other than writing, when I should be writing.
Other writers laugh at this.  We all know how we are.  Stephen Pressfield calls it “Resistance”.  Eric Maisel calls it “creative anxiety”.
I call it “resting my eyes from the computer monitor”.
This is a quilt top being made from nothing but scraps.  Last year I pieced together lots and lots of scraps and cut lots and lots of 1.5″ strips out of odds and ends of fabric.  When quilting fabric costs $11.00 a yard, you don’t want to waste it.  This quilt-in-progress was six feet from my computer.  There were days it was distracting, and other times it was a welcome diversion from coming up with plot twists and clever dialogue.

I think it looks like the inside of my brain.
Years ago I made a design wall out of a folding screen bought at a yard sale.  I also use it to block off messes, because cleaning up messes is also a great thing to do when I should be writing.  I also use it to block off the tempting vision of the sewing machine and the guitars and the fiddle and...well, you understand.
I also paint my nails, scrub the kitchen counter and buy large quantities of plastic bins in order to store the things I have promised myself I will organize once the book is done.
And then I go back to work, the house a little cleaner and the quilt just a few more strips closer to being finished.

Diversions, anyone?  Will you share yours and make me feel better?

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Romantic Gestures by Carol Ross

As avid readers, writers, and even movie and television watchers of the romance genre, we probably all get a little mushy when it comes to romantic gestures, right? But what exactly constitutes a romantic gesture?  What’s romantic to one person might not be romantic to the next.  We can assume that what makes one person melt might make another roll their eyes.  

I laughed with glee when I did a quick internet search on romance because the first entry that popped up was Wikipedia, which says romance is “love emphasizing emotion over libido.”  Ha!  That’s what we at Heartwarming are all about, right?  Emotion, tugging at those heartstrings, turning our hearts to goo… 

That Google search led to things like the man who gave his girlfriend 54 oysters to shuck, each filled with a pearl for her to string on a necklace apparently. I'll give him some credit for thinking outside the box, but I'm not sure every woman wants to work that hard for some jewelry.
Via SarahKathrine /
Then there was this guy who wrote, illustrated, and published a children's book about his relationship and set up his girlfriend to find it in the library so he could propose. Now, that one gets an A for creativity. I also like that I would still smell good after it was all over!
Via ppaul9 /
To me, the most romantic gestures are those that are the most unexpected --when there is no sense of obligation involved; flowers on June 2 (or any random day) instead of February 14, my favorite candy (or an apple fritter) when it’s nowhere near my anniversary, or a card or a note just…because.

My husband writes me tons of notes and cards, which I love.  So my all-time favorite romantic gesture would have to be the time I got up in the morning and discovered that he had placed sticky notes all over our kitchen--on the cupboards, the countertops, the drawers, on my coffee cup, even inside the fridge.  And on each one he wrote something that he loves about me.  Pretty sweet, right? 

So, we would love to hear your favorite romantic gesture--one you’ve given or received…

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

In Remembrance . . .

“Freedom doesn't come free and doesn't just affect the person serving. It's like dropping a rock into a pond. The ripples touch us all.”

       ~ Melinda Curtis

Remembrance Day — A Canadian Perspective

Sadly, we live in a world where there is tragedy, strife and true evil. As an example, how could a heart not be broken to have learned of Cpl. Nathan Cirillo—soldier, devoted single father, dog rescuer—being shot point-blank in the back on October 22nd while standing guard at the Canadian war memorial in Ottawa? Or just two days earlier, Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent—twenty-eight year veteran of the military, family man, looking to the next phase of his life—run over along with a fellow soldier in Montreal by a man in a car? These are but two of the countless men and women who have made the ultimate sacrifice.

On November 11th, we will stand together to remember those who have given their lives for the freedom, prosperity and democracy we enjoy.

They are our grandfathers, fathers, brothers, grandmothers, mothers, sisters, neighbours ... and heroes. Canada’s Veterans—their courage, service and sacrifices have kept us strong, proud and free.[1]

On November 11th, who will you remember?

     ~ Kate James

Veterans Day — A United States Perspective

Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, flags decorating the graves of the fallen, a day off from school—these are some of the things we associate with Veterans Day. This November 11th let's add the real reason we remember this day. Wars are fought by people, individuals with names and families; men and women with beliefs so strong they are willing to stand up to keep them safe. Look at the names, put into your mind the identity of the brave men and women who stood in harm's way to ensure we, the living, the descendants, the future could live without fear.

Like the monument wall listing the names of those who made the ultimate sacrifice in Vietnam, let us speak aloud the name of at least one person who served in the military, so you and I might live in a country where freedom is a right.

From the American Revolution to the current conflict in Afghanistan, let's work for that one thing that's on the lips of every parent, grandparent, sibling, uncle, or aunt of a military man or woman—world peace.

     ~ Shirley Hailstock

Below you'll find testimonials from authors saluting our men and women in uniform.

Amy Vastine

On this Veterans Day, I would like to honor my grandparents who fought in WWII. My grandfather, Earl Sharpee, served as part of the Signal Corps in the US Air Force. My grandmother, Elaine Kuhn, served as an Army nurse in the 104th Evacuation Hospital. She travelled all over Europe, following General Patton's troops and taking care of wounded soldiers. Likewise, my other grandfather, Wilman Kuhn, served in the US Navy. He was a Radar Man, First Class on the USS Roe. I am so proud of their service to this country and for fighting for the good of all the world!

Earl Sharpee, Elaine Kuhn and Wilman Kuhn

Leigh Riker

On this Veterans Day I’d like to honor my uncles who served their country with such bravery during World War II: Earl (Army Air Corps), Roy (U.S. army medic in Burma), and Daniel (U.S. Navy). They all came home to lead long and productive lives. My father Robert, the only one of the four brothers who didn’t (couldn’t) go to war, made his contribution as a defense plant worker. My love and thanks to them all.

And also to my good friend Cliff Delzell who served in the Korean War. He was one of the first Navy Seals, who were then called Special Forces Navy Frogmen, involved in underwater demolitions. Sadly, as I was writing this, Cliff passed away on November 1st, 2014 at the age of 83. What a warrior—and kind gentleman—he was. Rest in peace now, Cliff.

Cliff Delzell

Loree Lough

As we walked the sidewalks of his neighborhood, my Italian grandfather told me stories: At eleven, he was gored by a bull; upon arriving at Ellis Island, a guard changed the spelling of his surname because “…too many that end with i done come through here already.” Despite the not-so-warm welcome, he immediately set out to become a citizen. Weeks later, he enlisted.

In France, his unit joined the Battle of the Argonne Forest, part of the final Allied offensive—one of the bloodiest campaigns of World War I and one of the largest in U.S. military history. Then, on a cold November day, 1918, Grandpa was wounded, along with hundreds of his comrades. One soldier would not have made it out alive if Grandpa hadn’t thrown him over one shoulder, carrying him for miles to the nearest medic tent. Days later, on November 11th, the men heard a beautiful word: Armistice. Home again, they went to work, started families, bought homes, and proudly flew Old Glory from porches and fence posts.

Frank Citerony taught me the meaning of patriotism, loyalty to family, the importance of integrity. He’s the man by whom I measure all heroes—those I’ve met since, and those I feature in every novel I write. I was barely a teen when we lost him, but memories of his courage lives on…in my heartfelt gratitude for every soldier who, like Grandpa, would sacrifice everything for the country he loved.

Frank Citerony

Muriel Jensen

My father, Mike Pacheco, was drafted into the Army in 1943 at 34 years old. Already going gray, he was called ‘Gramps’ by the young men in his unit. He was part of the 85th Custer Division involved in the liberation of Rome. He never talked about his service except to groan about the hills and the mud, but told me that you could control your way down a muddy hillside by stabbing the ground with your knife in one hand and your bayonet in the other. There was a time in a foxhole when he heard the whine of a falling bomb, then silence—meaning it was landing near him. It did—and was a dud! My mother told me about a mission to rescue an Austrian General from the Nazis. Dad was one of only a few who returned—with the General. I have his Bronze Star.

Mike and Jeannette Pacheco, Muriel, in her father's lap, and Muriel's sister, Lorraine

Kate James

During peacekeeping tours in Kuwait and Croatia, Master Corporal Mark 'Izzy' Isfeld, from British Columbia, worked clearing land mines in war-torn countries. While there, he also gave out little handmade dolls crocheted by his mother, Carol, to help calm frightened local children. Tragically, Mark lost his life in a land mine explosion in Croatia in 1994. Since his death, people across Canada have continued to make and donate "Izzy" dolls for Canadian soldiers to give to children. [2]

A sculpture of a peacekeeper handing an Izzy doll to a child has been erected in his memory. 

Mcpl Mark Isfeld

I didn’t have the privilege of knowing Mcpl Isfeld, but was fortunate to be able to be a small part of making the sculpture a reality and be present for the dedication ceremony. To read the touching poem his mother wrote in her son’s memory, please visit my blog.

Shirley Hailstock

I was born between wars. It doesn't matter which wars. For most of us, a war in which the U.S. military saw action was part of our lives. Many of us grew up to see our sons and daughters wear the uniform of a military service—some by choice, others by draft.

On the home front, mothers prayed and worried. During my war, Vietnam, I wrote letters. I call it mine because I personally knew some of the soldiers. Some came home. Some didn't. I found that sending letters to them allowed them to connect with a small part of normal. Like readers of our novels, the letters were an open window to another world, one they could connect with, understand, and return when the conflict ended.

The names I say out loud are Larry Miles, Paul Gilbert and Cornelius (Corny) Jones. One came home, two didn't. Thank you for protecting me.

Roz Denny Fox

When I met my husband he was a marine. He came home on leave to attend his sister’s wedding. We bonded, got married and moved to Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii. I soon learned that planes came before wives. LOL In later years I discovered that once a marine, always one. Which is fine. Military men and women are good folks. It’s like having extended family all over the world. We civilians can’t give those in uniform enough support. It’s great to remember them on this special Veterans Day, but let me stress that giving whatever a person can to the charities that help those who come home wounded or in need is about the best feel-good experience you can have all year long.

Semper Fidelis-Always Faithful

Liz Flaherty

Duane was twenty-one, with glasses and a smooth singing voice and fingertips callused from playing guitar. He drove a Chevy I loved, was built better than any guy I’d ever known (I was 19—this mattered), and made me laugh harder than I'd ever laughed in my life. When he walked away from my apartment without looking back, my heart broke. It was something a lot of us did in those wintery days of the late 60s—we sent our boyfriends off to Vietnam.

He came home 14 months later, and he wasn’t a boy anymore and it was a while before he laughed all that much. He'd seen and felt things that made him grow up quickly. We were married three months later. In the years since then, he talks little about those months. It was, he says, just what they all did—when their country called, they went.

I’m proud of him and of all of those with whom he served. Thank you, vets. Thank you so much.

Duane Flaherty

Melinda Curtis

Years ago, I remember sitting at the kitchen table with my step-mother, listening to the tapes my step-brother sent home while he served in the Vietnam war. He always tried to sound upbeat for his mother, and often included a song because he was a talented musician. I'm so glad he came home safely. Freedom doesn't come free and doesn't just affect the person serving. It's like dropping a rock into a pond. The ripples touch us all. Thank you to all our armed services. Here's a picture of Val and his latest album.

Who will you remember today? Please leave us a comment. 

[1] From the Veterans Affairs Canada Website

[2] From the Veterans Affairs Canada Website