Monday, June 30, 2014

We're Sweet and Heartwarming!

July is upon us!  And so is the Romance Writers of America's annual conference, kicking off Wednesday, July 23!  To celebrate romance (especially Sweet Romance!), the Harlequin Heartwarming Authors are kicking off a four week promotion to celebrate Sweet and Heartwarming Romance!
As part of our celebration, we're giving away bracelets (like the one shown above) to readers, reviewers, and other authors who tell us they love Sweet and Heartwarming Romance!

You have two ways to win:

  1. Tell us via social media how much you love Sweet and Heartwarming Romance! Post a comment here. Post a comment on our Facebook page under our Sweet and Heartwarming Posts (and like us!). Share our post on Facebook with the #GoHeartwarming hashtag. Tweet about our giveaway: I love Sweet and Heartwarming Romance! #GoHeartwarming. Spread the word on Goodreads. Every comment/post/share/like/tweet/hashtag is an entry. We'll track entries each week!  We're giving away 50 bracelets to our social media supporters during the month of July!  
  2. To our sweet romance fans and our writing sisters who'll be attending either the RWA Literacy Booksigning July 23rd in San Antonio at the San Antonio Marriott Rivercenter OR attending the RWA conference July 23-26, if you come across a Harlequin Heartwarming Author wearing a pin like the one shown below (green beads and the distinctive "H"), all you have to do is say: I love Sweet and Heartwarming Romance! And you're an instant winner!

We know Heartwarming goes anywhere. Check back here and on Facebook to see just where we go and what fun we have!

Entry Rules: Social media entries totaled each week.  Weekly winners chosen from those participating in social media that week (not cumulatively). Enter as often as you like, but you can only win once. Contest open to those in the United States only.  Weekly winners will be posted Monday afternoon on this blog. Weekly award schedule: 10 awarded on July 7, 10 on July 14, 10 on July 21, and 20 on July 28! 

Friday, June 27, 2014

In My Dreams

IN MY DREAMS, my next Heartwarming, will be released on my 70th birthday, January 1, 2015.  Geez!  70.  My heart is seventeen, so it's always startling for me to look in the mirror and see the wrinkles and the hair that looks like a cotton ball in a snit.

Can you tell I've been thinking about age?  In an effort to make sure I remain well to take care of Ron, I recently had a thorough physical examination. Last one was in 1993.  (I'm so ashamed!)  Believe it or not, I'm in almost perfect condition.  Bone density is great, cholesterol is great, all lady-parts-tests negative. Vitamin D was low, but that's the sunshine vitamin, and I live in Oregon, so go figure.  But I've been loaded up on mega doses and I've gone from 9 (!) to 50 in three months.  (Not sure what the desirable figure is, but the doctor seemed happy.)

I was paging through my ELLE magazine today (good source of character faces) and was plotting my fall wardrobe.  (In reality, it's a couple of pairs of jeans and a few sweatshirts, and when my office is really cold, an Eddie Bauer merino wool turtleneck that's very cozy, but I'm dreaming, here.)  I imagine you don't want to hear about fall when it's finally summer, but I hate my summer clothes because those light fabrics show all my rolls.  (I keep thinking I can tone them up and the ripples would look like washboard abs, but they're in the wrong place.) Sturdier winter fabrics hide everything.  You can wear tights and a big sweater and look twenty pounds thinner.

Anyway, I want to wear skinny jeans and boots, dresses and tights, big jewelry and funky hair.  But I don't have anything skinny to put in the jeans, I don't have a waist so a dress is probably out, and I think my hair has aged, too.  It used to be wavy and controllable, but now it does what it wants, and both sides never want the same thing.  It's probably a good thing I'm not going to San Antonio.  One look at me, and you'd all turn from writing romance to horror.

I am young enough at heart to lust after Erik Dane, Captain Tom Chandler in the new THE LAST SHIP, and, formerly, Dr. McSteamy, from Gray's Anatomy,  and I do love Nathan Fillion of CASTLE.  And, more age-appropriately, Tom Selleck, Sean Connery, and Robert Wagner still make me swoon.  (It's all right with Ron because he has a thing for Meg Ryan.)

"Hanging out" with all of you gives me a wider-ranging perspective of womanhood, so thank you for that. It's nice to know that young or older, we like the same things, worry about the same things, and whatever we differ on broadens our horizons of tolerance and acceptance.  I think Heartwarming is going to keep my heart young, and I may still try to tone those rolls.  Jen, are you available as a personal trainer?

Thursday, June 26, 2014

There's a computer in there somewhere.

Just kidding!  I know exactly where my laptop is: safely on the backseat.  Want to see?
In case you can't figure out which bag holds the laptop, it's the black bag underneath the lime green bag that contains two pairs of cowboy boots.  I know you won't believe me when I say that I like to travel light.  Ten years ago I spent twelve days in Scotland with just a bag the size of a small toaster.  That packing challenge was a personal triumph but, alas, life is more complicated now.  Besides being a writer, I am an amateur musician.  Along with writing notebooks, boxes of papers and books, the trunk holds two lap steel guitars, a fiddle, sound system, microphone stands, boxes of assorted important cords and my husband's banjo.  I had to leave one acoustic guitar behind, plus two pairs of my son's shoes (he is traveling with us, for all 3000 miles, bless his heart).

We've been on the road for nine days and tomorrow we arrive at the summer house.  A few hours after we unpack I have a gig at a local farmer's market.  And the next morning, in the blissful quiet, I will dig out the computer and the boxes of writing "stuff" and set up my little office with its view of the mountains.  I'll happily drink too much coffee and luxuriate in the silence.

Most of the writers I know enjoy the solitude of the writing life.  Luring them out of their caves takes a lot of persuasion and offers they can't refuse, such as the promise of dark chocolate and a chance to brainstorm a new book.

While I cannot be driven out of  my office when I am on a deadline (in fact, I think my expanding rear end is cemented to my chair at those times) I suffer when I spend too much time away from friends and family and the band.

Finding a balance between work and, well, life is something I've struggled with for almost thirty years now.  It doesn't get any easier.  And, as you can see from the photos, neither does packing the car.

How do you find that balance?  And what is the craziest thing you've ever packed in a suitcase???

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Seven things you can't live without by Syndi Powell

A friend of mine is going through something we have all gone through: the search for the One. That person who will complete your life and fill it with the love you want and need. The problem is that he's dating a lot but not finding the right One.

Sure, this person fulfills some of his list of what he wants in a partner. And that one ticks off more items on that list. But he can't seem to find the One that meets all his requirements. What is he going to do?

On the advice of another mutual friend, he made a list of everything he wants in a mate. Nothing was too big or too small for the list. Then he started going through the list and eliminating items until he came up with seven things he can't live without. Things like have a job, be spiritually compatible, being honest and truthful, etc.

Now, if he meets someone online or in person, they need to meet all seven requirements or he moves on to the next one.

Similarly, I'm currently in the process of looking for a house. Using the same advice, I came up with the seven things I can't live without. It makes the house search a lot easier when I can eliminate places that don't meet what I need. I won't be wasting time looking at something I know I won't like, much less love.

And I'll follow this advice when it comes time for me to meet another man. I'll take the time to choose those seven things he must possess. Otherwise, I'll move on to the next one.

Does that mean we're being picky? Maybe. Or maybe it means we have higher standards to finding what we need.

What would be on your list of seven things you can't live without in your partner? Comment below, and I'll choose one lucky reader to receive a copy of my upcoming book, "Risk of Falling" when it releases in August.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Oh, Look! Shiny! by Anna J Stewart

Hello, my name is Anna and I am a procrastinator.  

Not just any procrastinator mind you, but an extraordinary one.  The super hero of procrastinators.  When they update the dictionary, they shall put my picture on the page because...yeah. You get the idea. I am the Dory of the writing world...distracted by one shiny object after another.

I've procrastinated writing this blog for two weeks now, ignoring the big red circle around the date on my calendar because honestly, I could not think about what to write.  This time of year, as my six months of work deluge finally dies back and I can refocus on writing (yay!), I am, for all intents and purposes brain dead.  Apparently I'm also filled with the desire to write cliche after cliche today, but it's been that kind of week.

Why is it, when the one thing I love more than anything in the world, writing a book, at times it's the most difficult thing to do.  I have a huge sign over my writing desk, a quote from one of my early writing inspirations, Stephen King (*bows*).  Writing = Butt in Chair.  And yet at times I will do anything--and by anything I mean cleaning the kitchen, doing laundry, checking the air filter in the AC--to avoid diving into the pages I HAVE to write. 

Maybe that's part of it.  Writing is no longer a hobby for me--I've signed a contract (or two). It's now an obligation. It's a job. That book I spent oh, years perfecting so it would sell?  It sold. Now I get to write the second in the series by September (while trying not to think about the third that's due in January).   And I think, honestly, it's got me scared.  What's that (cliche) careful what you wish for?  I got it--in spades and now I've got to deal.  So what do I do?

Ooooh, research art forgery in every way possible. Shop for reference book. How about rewriting the opening to that book that's due in September oh, about 5 times until it feels "right".  How about...sucking it up and writing the blessed book?

Yeah, that sounds good (and something my critique partners would say, in fact I bet they're saying it right now).  Here's where I remind myself how lucky I am.  That dream I had about being a writer? About publishing my books? About getting my stories out there for someone other than my family and friends to read?  It came true!

I can put my butt in that chair and write--I've done it before, it's what got me here.  For years I worried that writing would stop being fun once it became "work", but you know, it's always been work.  Now it's work that pays and that, when all is said and done, is IT.  Someone is paying me to tell my stories.

No more procrastinting for me. Time to write!  Right?  I mean...oh, look!  Finding Nemo's on!

Hands up!  What do you procrastinate about (or tell me I'm all alone in this)?  And what's your favorite coping mechanism when the words just aren't there?

Thursday, June 19, 2014

                Getting Out There!  By Catherine Lanigan

       For those of you who know me and know my writing you may remember that I have written a series of books about angelic intervention in human lives. These collections of stories are not just from people I’ve met during my life, but of my own life, that of my father’s near death experiences (yes that’s multiple since he died several times and came back to tell about it) and visitations from our departed loved ones. I also have long sections in each book about those rare, strange and life altering events/coincidences and “divine nudges” that always manage to put us in the right place at the right time for exactly what it is that we were put on this earth to do.
     Since my fellow Heartwarming Authors are of the same “ilk”, “artistry” and talent as myself, it’s my bet that what I’m about to write about will ring true with a good many of you. If it doesn’t, I say, “shame on you, you’re just not paying attention”. 
     Book promotion is without a doubt one of the most difficult aspects of our writing careers. Just when we think we’ve figured out how to do this, the game changes. OR, if you’re like me, everything else that seems to work just dandy for everyone else, just doesn’t seem to click into high gear for me. That’s when it’s time to “go to the mattresses”.  Or in my case, to my knees and pray.
     I ask for help from my angels and especially all my dead relatives when it comes to book promotion. After all, my folks are dead. What else do they have to do? My passion and love is writing my books. In order to do that I must actually write the books, re-write the books, come up with more ideas for synopses, meet my AA’s deadlines, send in my synopses, write another book while my editor is deciding on the next storyline and yes, write another synopsis. I’m supposed to be Twittering, Facebooking, Bookperking, Goodreading, Linking In, writing this blog and checking on all the newest goings on with RWA, HAN, PW, NYTimes and any and all other reviewers and “lists” of note. I don’t mind doing all these things, they’re just part of the job. But, again, my dead folks need to get off their butts and work for me.
            Last fall as I was finishing up my AA’s  for LOVE SHADOWS, my agent booked a speech for me at a Librarian’s Tea for the first week in April.  At this point I did not have my pub date yet for my book and I was too busy starting the re-write on HEART’S DESIRE to pay much attention to the event other than contacting Jennifer the co-ordinator.
            A few weeks later, my editor Claire called and told me that LOVE SHADOWS would be an April book. You got it, that event was now my “media launch” for LOVE SHADOWS.  The event had marvelous pre-publicity and they booked nearly 200 people. I was able to taut the event on all my social media and then some.
            One of the ladies attending, at the very last minute, coerced her husband, Tom Lounges, to come to the Tea with her to listen to me talk. Tom, as it turns out, hosts a fantastic radio show “Looking at the Arts” on 89.1 FM The Lakeshore. Tom liked my speech and then booked me on his radio show. We had some very good feedback from the show and it was aired a SECOND time before going “on sale” to public radio to be aired again. Then the show was archived and is now available on the web/podcasts etc. 
            Yesterday I received a letter from Tom that a local author is requesting sections of that interview for a segment in her new book!  That book will be published , promoted and talked about in all the social media and advertised using my name and my story and in addition, will feature/mention my newest HEARTWARMING titles.
            This chain of media events all happened because I “got out there”.  I said “yes” to the library event. Then I said “yes” again and again. (Of course, I thanked my angels just in case they DID have something to do with all this. I have to admit—the timing was uncanny.) 
       Like all of you, I have sat in grocery stores, gift stores, department stores, flower shops, candy stores and even a meat market at a card table selling my books to people who don’t show up. I have advertised in flyers, on postcards, on my web site and on every media site they can come up with. But for my money, nothing has ever or will ever beat radio.
            Radio these days never goes away. Just like our e-books that won’t be shredded after a month on the shelves, these interviews last forever. They are “archived” now and can be heard on the internet, streamed on computers, IPads, Iphones and in your car. Even in the “old days” when I first started out, it was radio and those interviews that got our books out there. Those fabulous local shows that featured authors for morning drive time and evening rush hour, are gone. But there are still loads of podcasts and webcast interviewers looking for material. They need exciting, fun and relevant stories to make their shows “a cut above”.  What the interviewer doesn’t want to hear about is your book. Oh, you can mention the title and give a “log line”, but what he does want to know is HOW DO YOU DO IT?  Truly, the mind of an artist is a fascinating landscape and no one has ever properly defined it, categorized it or figured out how to bottle it and sell it. THAT is what they want to hear about.

            So, put your scintillating personal story together, pitch it to a podcast or web show if you can’t find a local radio show, and don’t take “no” for an answer. I bugged radio talk show hosts for weeks and months and didn’t let up till they put me on their show. Then I took them food when I showed up. (Please use real butter in your cookies.) Be persistent. Just remember, radio guys and women, are as passionate about their talent and “place” on earth as you are about yours. They understand you. And the show you give them will be memorable.  

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Are You an Aspiring Author in Need of Encouragement? by Kate James

I read a statistic some time ago that over eighty percent of North Americans "have a book in them". More recently, I remember hearing a report on the radio that when asked what their dream profession was, the number one response from Canadian women surveyed was "author". Based on the statistics, I expect at least a portion of our readers of this blog may be aspiring authors.

And why not? How many of us can spend most of our working hours living in a dream world of our own making!

The simple laws of supply and demand—a huge number of people wishing to be published versus a much more selective process for publishers to acquire debut authors—means the odds of getting published are ever more daunting. It's easy to see why so many aspiring, talented authors may get discouraged. The fact is, if you have a passion for writing and don't keep trying, you will never know if you could have succeeded.

I have been conducting author interviews on my website, and one of the questions I have asked is what advice these successful authors have for aspiring authors. I believe the responses can be words of inspiration for any of us—published or not. I would like to share some of the responses with you.

From Brenda Novak [New York Times & USA Today Bestselling Author Brenda Novak is the author of more than fifty books. A four-time Rita nominee, she has won many awards, including the National Reader’s Choice, the Bookseller’s Best, the Book Buyer’s Best, the Daphne and the Holt Medallion. Brenda is also a RITA finalist and Booksellers' Best finalist for Home to Whiskey Creek.]

"Believe! If you believe in yourself and what you are doing, you will do everything necessary to succeed. It’s also important to realize that every path is different. I know so many authors who were frustrated a few years ago. They just couldn’t get ahead in publishing. Then the digital revolution came along, they self-published the books they hadn’t been able to sell to New York and have made millions. You just never know what is right around the next corner—it might be your lucky break."

You can read Brenda's full interview at: Brenda's Interview

From Tara Taylor Quinn [An author of more than 65 novels, in twenty languages, Tara Taylor Quinn is a USA Today bestseller with more than seven million copies sold. Tara won the Reader’s Choice Award, is a four time finalist for the RWA Rita Award, a multiple finalist for the Reviewer’s Choice Award, the Bookseller’s Best Award, and has appeared often on local and national TV including CBS Sunday Morning.]:

     "My advice is the same now as it has always been. If you 
     need to write, do it for yourself.  Write the book. Make
     yourself sit in the chair and type. Do not let your internal 
editor speak a word until the book is done. Same goes for the inner critic. Just sit and write. When you have a product, then look at content, at the necessity for edits.

Then figure out what to do with it. If you want to sell it, get your work out there. And if it comes back, learn, make it what it needs to be or start on another project, and get it out there again. And again. As many times as it takes.

Bottom line, if you want to be a writer, write. Don’t ever give up. Don’t ever let someone else tell you you can’t. Just write."

You can read Tara's full interview at: Tara's Interview

From Elizabeth Heiter [Elizabeth's debut novel, Hunted, has been getting very positive response and is already translated in a number of languages. She had originally contracted for five books with Harlequin and has just got another contract for another two. We happen to share the same editor, the amazing Paula Eykelhof!]:

     "My best advice for aspiring authors is the advice I 
     received myself before I published. I attended a book 
     signing many years ago of Suzanne Brockmann’s. To
     paraphrase, she told me, “the difference between an 
     unpublished writer and a published author is perseverance.”  For years, I had that quote pinned up on my inspiration board. Beyond that, I think the best advice is to join a writer’s organization, find a critique partner you can trust, and never stop trying to improve your craft."

You can read Elizabeth's full interview at: Elizabeth's Interview

And last but by no means least, I also had the opportunity to interview our very own Heartwarming author, Rula Sinara. Although I did not ask her this same question, The Promise of Rain is her debut novel and you will likely find her journey to getting published inspirational.

You can read Rula's full interview at: Rula's Interview

If you are an aspiring author in need of encouragement, I hope you found some in one of the above excerpts. In summary, believe, focus and persevere!

Now, I have a questions for you:

Published or not, what inspires you to keep writing?

Please leave your answers here or on my blog on my website at: Kate's Blog

I hope you have a great day and happy writing!


Tuesday, June 17, 2014

What We Do For Love

 Pamela Tracy here, and I didn't grow up camping.  I don't think I owned a sleeping bag until I married my husband.

  Fast forward... I'm on sleeping bag number three.  So is my nine year old.  He outgrew the Thomas the Train sleeping bag we purchased before he was born.

  So, what do you need to know about Pamela the writer...  It's summer.  I do my best writing, and I have a book due in two weeks.  Last week, my son went to Cub Camp.
Cub Camp is for younger kids.  It's like training for real camp.  The kids are in their own cabin, they have their own activities, and are corraled by counselors.  But, since they're young, a parent has to attend.

The above cabin was the Mommy cabin that I stayed in.

To the left is the bottom bunk I slept in.  And, yes, the mattress was not my friend.

Outside the cabin was a porch.  I pulled a chair out there and read my book (when I should have been writing.)  I watched three squirrels.  Two were on one tree.  The lone squirrel was very close to me.  Had I a nut, I could have tossed it and hit him.  He was inching up the tree.  Then, here came a bird, attacking him.  Landing on his back! My book did not have such a glorious black moment.  The squirrel gave up; the birds were victorious.  I figure there must have been a nest in that tree.

 This cabin here is one that rents during the weekends.   I got permission to use it for writing.  It had no electricity.  It was me, a couple of bunks, and a table and chair.  I wrote 4000 words in one day.  I also, as I sat at my chair, noticed something happening out on the porch, under an eave.  At first, I thought it was a bird.  Then, I got to looking at the black, spiky thing.  It was a bat!  I stood on the chair and watched it slink around.  Later, the caretaker said, "Hmmm, bats shouldn't be out during the day.  It must be sick."  I didn't go back to the cabin that day.  I think I'm scared of sick bats.  Yup, pretty sure that's the case.  I did go back the next day though.

This is my nine year old and his favorite counselor.
Just so you know, as we were driving home, Mike said to me, "Mom, guess what?"
Me: "What?"
Mike: "As I was packing to return home, I unrolled my jeans and there was my toothbrush.  I'd been looking for it."
Me: "So, you didn't brush your teeth the entire time we were camping?"
Mike:  "Not even once."
Me:  "Ew."

Mike was really a year too old for Cub camp.  I purposely sent him an extra time, so that I could go along.  See, yesterday his dad and I took him to camp, dropped him off with the big kids (fourth grade!) and then we left.
For a week.
I'm not in the Mommy cabin.
I'm in our home, picking up his legos and returning them to his too quiet bedroom.

I didn't cry when I said goodbye.  I'm raising an independent little guy and I want him to know he can soar without me.

At least for a week.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Who Knew Summer was Fashion Frenzy for Authors? by Melinda Curtis

Summer is here. For many, that means the kids are out of school and vacations are waiting to be planned. It means something a little different for romance authors. It's conference season. Actually, conference season starts in May with the Romantic Times convention, then the Book Expo (last weekend), and finally the Romance Writer's of America conference in July.

Why does this matter? Because most writers sit in their kitchens, at Starbucks, or in their offices and wear comfy clothes. You know the ones I mean - elastic waistband, comfy cotton, fuzzy socks. But conference season creates a whole new level of angst. There are meetings with editors and agents.  Book signings with readers (who think being a writer is glamorous). Breakfasts with writer friends you don't see until conference. Parties hosted in swank hotel rooms by your publisher. And the most dreaded night of all - Awards Night. You think actors get ulcers during award season? Try holding the hand of a writer friend in the hush before they make that big announcement: And the RITA goes to...

And so, we shop. And some sweet store clerk talks us into buying something that flashes some cleavage, bares those arms, exposes those legs. We wonder when we got such cleavage, arm jiggle, and/or cankles. We try on shoes. We wonder if the comfy ones make us look like old ladies. We try on cocktail dresses and formal gowns. We wonder if we look like prom queens in a time warp. It's enough to drive a romance writer insane (and to make severe fashion mistakes).

The conference season after I sold my first book, I picked out a bright red formal gown to wear to the RITA awards. It was sleeveless and I was frozen. Then I bought a beautiful white dress online one year to wear to the Harlequin party, but didn't have time to try it on before I left for conference. The night of party, I discovered the white dress was sheer. Uhm, no. I didn't wear it anywhere. Ever.

I could go on. I haven't even started on hairstyles/color...

So, all you dear authors, please share what prep you've done this year or in years past for conference season. Go on, give us the scoop. And readers, please share any similar fashion frenzy you've been in (perhaps you were the mother of the groom?).

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Fathers Are Heartwarming

My father is amazing in his devotion to family and most of all our mother. One day I remember looking out from the second story window and seeing that dad was mowing my mom's name-Lisa- in great big block letters in the grass as he cut the lawn! Now that's a memory that I'll cherish always! 
Dana Mentink

When I was eight years old (1953), my mother worked Friday nights and Saturday in a clothing store.  That left my father and me to fend for ourselves after dinner.
Having served in World War II in Italy, (he won the Bronze Star) Dad loved to watch war movies and judge their accuracy according to his experiences.  In those days, the only place to see a movie was at the movie theater and New Bedford, MA, had three - The Strand, The Capitol, and the Rialto. As I recall, we went to the movies every Friday night for that entire year.  I believe I saw every war movie ever made to that period, as well as every Western.  I maintain that I could invade Normandy, take Pork Chop Hill, and defend any western fort from the Apaches because I saw it done so often.  
Dad bought me Jujubees, (sp?) Nonpareils, and Mike and Ikes and explained in a whisper everything going on on the screen that I didn’t understand.  We had such a good time together.
When I was a clumsy adolescent and all the boys I knew gawked at the pretty little blondes, I used to tell my father that he was the only man I’d ever love.  That changed, of course, but I think I write romance today partly because he was such a good example of a loving hero.  
Muriel Jenson

My father often had a bunch of giggling girls in our station wagon.  He'd be driving us to Skateland.  Soon, he'd bring the whole vehicle to a stop.  My friends would say, "What are you doing, Mr. Tracy?"  He'd point to a sign on the side of the road.  He'd say, "That sign says Stop Ahead.  So…" and at this point, he'd look around before continuing, "I'm looking for a head to stop."  

Albert Tracy always wanted to make my friends smile :)

Pamela  Tracy

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Sit-Down Saturday with Cindi Myers

Today we’re celebrating the release of 

So, Cindi, where did you get the idea for this novel?
    I grew up in a small town in Texas that has experienced a lot of changes since I was a child. Whenever I go 'home' it makes me kind of sad to see so many changes. I wanted to write about a heroine who experienced those same emotions, and give her a way to deal with them that would have a happy ending. I also met a guy who was a lot like Ryder in this story -- he traveled a lot, had never put down roots and was happy with that. I wondered what it would take to make him rethink that lifestyle, so I thought he'd be the perfect hero for my home-loving heroine.
 In looking at the cover, if you could add a caption or captions, what would they say? 
Ooh, a tough one! This captures a moment where my heroine, Christa, realizes how much she loves both the family ranch and Ryder -- and he begins to realize he could be at home here -- as long as Christa is with him.

How long did it take you to write?
I'm a fast writer. This took 3-4 months.

What is your favorite scene?
My favorite scene is when Ryder has been helping Christa and her father on the family ranch and she takes him to the old homestead and tells him her grandfather and grandmother's love story. It's such a sweet moment of connection for them, and it shows the kind of enduring love she wants in her own life.
Who was your favorite character and why?
I really love Ryder! He's a true 'good guy' --a hard worker who looks after his mom and gets along with his dad. But his nomadic upbringing as a military brat has made it hard for him to really get close to people. He thinks he's fine, but Christa is able to show him what's missing in his life.
Tell us one thing you learned during research.
I learned that a lot of toll roads and other highway projects these days are being built by private companies instead of city and state governments. They foot the bill for the project, collect tolls until they get back their costs and profits, then deed the highway to the city or state. It's an innovative way to build infrastructure.

What music would match the mood of this novel?
Country and western -- something upbeat and down-home

This is your 56th? book.  Exactly what does that mean to you?

It kind of boggles my mind. I've wanted to be a writer since I was 8 years old, so to have that dream come true, and to be able to continue to write stories I love, year after year, is a real privilege.

What do you plan to work on next?

I'm working on a new series for Harlequin Intrigue right now, which will be out in 2015.

What are you reading for pleasure right now?

I'm glomming on Kimani romances right now -- currently reading Every Road to You, by Phyllis Bourne

Friday, June 13, 2014

You Gotta Love These Guys! by Cynthia Thomason

You Gotta Love These Guys!

All romance writers want their hero to be the kind of man the reader will fall for – the kind of man she, herself, falls for. But did you know that literary guys fall into four basic categories, all of which are fun and exciting and desirable? Oh, sure, there may be variations on these four types, including even a variation for the villain, but each type offers something toward the ideal of manhood.

The first type is the King. This man starts a men’s club. He throws a dinner party and is concerned that everyone is happy. If he gives an office presentation, he is on target and prepared. Often soft spoken but caring. After all, he is King. Think Don Draper perhaps?

The second type is the Warrior. This guy is an exercise freak. He has impeccable integrity and never lies. He’s not afraid of confrontation and he might well be a martial arts expert. Think anything John Wayne was ever in or William Wallace from Brave Heart.

The third type is the Magician. This man is often in his own world. He studies, he invents, he teaches. He can be quite spiritual and interested in astrology. He can fix anything and he runs the laboratory. Ladies, he might need some loosening up. Think efficiency experts like Spencer Tracy in Desk Set.

The fourth type is the Lover. This man sings and dances. He’s sensual and artistic. He often listens to music and enters his own creative world. And oh yes, he loves the ladies. Anything Rock Hudson was ever in with Doris Day comes to mind.

I’d love to know what character from books or movies you thought of while reading these variations. Who is your ideal King, Warrior, Magician, or Lover?

Have a great day.


Thursday, June 12, 2014

Summer Kick-Off Party Today on Facebook! by Cerella Sechrist

Ah, summertime, a season for the senses. Whether it's the sand in your toes, the breeze through your hair, or saltwater on your skin, there's just something about summer.

Several friends have recently started asking me which of my books is best for beach reading: Gentle Persuasion or The Paris Connection. I always choose Gentle Persuasion because its Hawaiian setting, to me, is the perfect vacation read and reminds me of my own trips to the islands - one of my favorite beach destinations!

But here in southern Pennsylvania, the days are finally warming, and the humidity is increasing. Summer is definitely in the air.

To celebrate summer's arrival, several Heartwarming authors are hosting a Summer Kick-Off party today on Facebook, and we're welcoming everyone to join us! We'll have plenty of games and giveaways, including autographed books; Amazon and Starbucks giftcards; and I'm even giving away a beaded honu (that's turtle in Hawaiian!) earring and necklace set - see a photo at the end of this post. There's also going to be a grand prize of a $45 Amazon gift card to one lucky winner!

The party runs from 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm EST (10:00 am to 12:00 noon PST), and you can join us at the following link: 

Here's a list of some of the authors who will be attending:
Me! (Cerella Sechrist)
Melinda Curtis (our party host!)
Amy Vastine
Carol Ross
Tara Randel
Pamela Tracy
Syndi Powell
Dana Mentink
Anna J Stewart
Anna Adams
Karen Rock
Kate James  

Feel free to use the Tweet/Status below to invite your friends. We're looking forward to "seeing" you there as we get the summer started!

Tweet or post the following to your Facebook page:

Kick Off Summer with a Facebook Party! #FREEBooks #SweetRomance #HarlequinHeartwarming

To get things started early, feel free to answer the following question in the comments: "Which Heartwarming story are you most looking forward to reading this summer?"

I'll catch you at the party later today!

Here are just two of the prizes being given away at today's party!


Wednesday, June 11, 2014

"Everyone should have a Reagan"-Quote from My Mother

My four year old son calls his step-dad-'My Reagan'. And besides Grandma, 'My Reagan' is by far his favorite adult. They have matching superhero costumes (see below) and they fly helicopters in our living room which have been known to crash into my head, tangle in my hair, resulting in a kitchen-scissor haircut (not the look I was hoping to have at RWA next month). But above all the fun they have together, my son knows that he can count on his Reagan and that's why the two are so close.

I took him on a mom-son date a few weeks ago and in the movie theatre he sat next to another little boy, slightly older who was talking about how his dad was a police officer, and my son says, "My dad..." Pause. "I don't have a dad, I have a Reagan." To say tears filled my eyes was an understatement, because in fact my son does have a 'dad' that he spends time with and loves very much, but his Reagan was still the first person to come to mind.

These days we've all started calling my husband-'My Reagan, Your Reagan, His Reagan' and as my mom says, I think 'Everyone should have a Reagan'. That father figure that they can depend on, look up to-whether it's a dad, an uncle, a grandpa, or friend.

So with father's day coming up this weekend, I just want to give a big Thank You to all the Reagans out there. The title doesn't matter, but the love does:)

Tuesday, June 10, 2014


This morning it occurred to me -when I watched all the little children trooping into the riding centre wearing body protectors that were half as big as themselves- just how crazy this world of ours has become and how much it has changed. We live by so many rules and regulations nowadays that health and safety has become our middle name and it has made everyone so safety conscious that no one dare take a risk anymore.

If we take out novice riders here they all have to be led from the ground -after we've done a risk assessment of course- and if a horse twitches an ear we get sued. Litigation it seems is very much the sad way of this modern world. Follow the paper trail they tell us, write everything down, record every word you speak, be careful, be careful, be careful. You can't do that and you can't do this, in fact it sometimes feels as if you can't do anything at all anymore. We seem in fact to have rules for everything. 

 And then suddenly I saw a swallow and I realised that things haven't really changed all that much at all Put it like this. Anyone can have a baby with no need even for a licence, which kind of makes a mockery of everything really when you think how precious they are. And you don't even have to go on a training course! So obviously Mother Nature hasn't changed because we still rely on her to bring out all our natural instincts. And Spring flowers still grow, again and again and again, year after year, gloriously abundant and oh so beautiful. And farmers sow and reap, just as they've always done. And yes, the the swallows have returned from Africa, yet again, flying straight into last years nests to begin the breeding process all over again. It's a wonderful sight and yet another miracle performed by Mother Nature. 

 Does anyone have any other miracles performed by Mother Nature that move the soul. I'd love to hear what you think. So just maybe, at its heart, this funny old world of ours hasn't changed so much after all. Animals react the same and birds and bees and flowers. It's just we humans who've gone a little crazy.

Monday, June 9, 2014

5 Highlights from the RT Booklovers Convention by Cheryl Harper

At some point in my life, I hope to reach the stage of level-headed maturity where every new experience doesn’t send me into an internal meltdown of “But I won’t know anyone” first-day-of-school jitters. Today is not that day. Neither was any day in May, but I managed to have a good time in spite of myself at the RT Booklovers Convention in New Orleans. If you’ve never been, it’s an easy mix of more parties than you can shake a stick at and workshops for authors, readers, bloggers. It seems like there’s something for everyone who loves books. Here are 5 of my highlights:

Meeting a reader. In person! One of the benefits of this convention is meeting readers. Lots and lots of readers. I anticipated spending most of the Bookfair talking with the authors beside me. I did some of that (increasing my chances of knowing someone at the next convention, see?) But I also sold and signed books. And then I met someone who said, “I just wanted to say hello. I’ve read all your books already.” She named characters and I fell in love right there. The table between us was probably a very good thing. I might have squeezed her too hard without it. What an amazing boost to my stick-to-it-iveness.

Shaking the hands of authors I’ve read and loved for so long. I was star struck, for sure. I spent too much time at a cocktail party peeking at a big name historical author and didn’t seize my chance. I did introduce myself to another, shook her hand, and was glad for the table again. I would have squeezed her too hard too probably.

Spending time with virtual friends in person. I might have also done some squeezing, but I was very careful. I met several bloggers who’ve been very kind to me. I met Twitter friends and people whose Twitter convos I’ve eavesdropped on for entirely too long face to face.
Listening to other writers talk about writing. I always forget how much it means to me to listen to people who are doing what I do talk about it. Their excitement is contagious.

New Orleans. I’ve never been. Now I’ve walked down Bourbon Street (with a hurricane in my hand because when in New Orleans...) and had beignets at CafĂ© du Monde while overlooking Jackson Square. I felt very cosmopolitan.

It was a good trip. From there, I drove to the beach, plopped down under an umbrella, and read books for four days, so coming back to the real world has been a struggle! Next year, the convention moves to Dallas. Here’s the link if you’re interested in finding out more:

Friday, June 6, 2014

Welcoming June...By Claire Caldwell

Good morning, everyone!

Happy June! The weather is finally nice here in Toronto, and I’ve been taking advantage by riding my bike to work on Fridays. We’re fortunate enough to have a big ravine system in the city, which borders our office, so even though I have to navigate some city streets, a good chunk of my hour-and-twenty-minute ride is spent on car-free, tree-lined paths like this one:

Taken moments before I rode through a cloud of midges...a more innocent time.

Cycling is one of my favorite ways to clear my head and make room for new ideas and inspiration. The warm sunshine, lush June leaves and bright flowers don’t hurt, either!

Speaking of nice weather, we’re getting into the summer reading season, and this month’s Heartwarming books are surely destined for hammocks, docks, beaches and verandahs in the coming weeks.

Appropriately, Marie Ferrarella’s Safe Harbor starts on a beach—but it’s not a carefree summer day for the heroine, who comes across a mysterious man washed up on shore….

Two of our books this month are set in Texas—Mae Nunn’s Fatherhood 101 and Cindi Myers’s What She’d Do for Love, and they’re both deeply emotional reads (pro-tip: you have “sunscreen” in your eye). In Cindi’s story, the heroine has to choose between her beloved hometown and the engineer who wants to build a highway through it. Mae’s story features a single mom going back to school and getting a crash course in romance…but will it outlast the semester?  

And what better way to cool off after a hot day than with Mary Anne Wilson’s Flying Home, where the hero and heroine get stranded in the snowy Colorado mountains after their plane goes down during a storm.

A big portion of my June reading will likely be the entries in our Write From the Heart Contest, a pitch opportunity for aspiring Heartwarming authors that opens on Monday. Entrants will have until Sunday, June 15 to submit the first page of their Heartwarming novel to Dana Grimaldi and myself, at which point we’ll start reading and deciding which authors move on to round two. Full guidelines can be found here, and you can follow us on Twitter @cpmcaldwell and @DanaGrimaldi.

What do you all have at the top of your summer reading pile? And how are you celebrating the start of the season?

Happy weekend,