Saturday, October 31, 2015

Shhhhhh It's a Secret Until Tomorrow (Tara Taylor Quinn)

But there are a LOT of great giveaways attached.

Like this:


Three of these:
Several of these:


This:
 
This:
 



And more than 26 of these from 13 of your beloved Heartwarming Authors:


Tune In Tomorrow!!!!

Friday, October 30, 2015

Perfectly Pinterest: One Year Later by Cerella Sechrist

Regular followers of this blog may recall my post from over a year ago where I confessed my mild (cough, cough) addiction to Pinterest.

I'd like to tell you things have improved, that I've learned to resist temptation and curtail my daily visits to the image-filled feed.

Alas, I am weak.



And yet, as my sister never fails to remind me, I'm also the queen of justifying myself.

After all, Pinterest is a fairly harmless addiction. I'm not spending any money (although, with the release of purchasing through pins, this could become an issue!), and all these images serve to inspire in so many ways -



- I've cataloged hundreds of health and food recipes on hidden boards to assist with meal planning and exercise.

- I'm piling up loads of research links and imagery for the historical and YA novels I've been working on in addition to my Harlequin Heartwarming Findlay Roads series.

- In years past, I would weigh down my computer's hard drive with images for my books, but now, I keep them all in the Pinterest-universe - no more bulky organization on an overloaded hard drive!

- I love to organize, and arranging my pins by category grants me a strange sense of satisfaction.

- It's really fun to promote a book's release through a Pinterest board by featuring images of an author's dream cast, setting, recipes, and just general pictures that relate to the story.



- And finally, I'm not alone in my love of Pinterest. Some time ago, Heartwarming reader, Laurie I., was emailing me about last year's Pinterest post (thanks, Laurie!) and her shared love of the site. It's a great way to connect with people of similar interests and of all the social media venues, it's my favorite.

Tweet: You can learn a lot about a person by the images they pin. - @CerellaSechrist #PinterestAddiction #Harlequin http://bit.ly/1Rm9FtA

You can also indulge in a lot of heartwarming inspiration via our Harlequin Heartwarming Pinterest page. I curate the account, and we have boards that not only relate to our stories (such as Anna Stewart's Butterfly Harbor board, Kate James's K-9 Trilogy and my own Findlay Roads series), our awards, giveaways, reviews, settings from our collective books, our gorgeous covers, as well as loads of general Heartwarming boards displaying quotes, wedding planning, couple imagery and more.

Though writers deal in words every day, I've found we're also a pretty visual group of people. We love to imagine our stories coming to life, and for me at least, Pinterest is one way to give a "face" to my novels.

That's my story.

And I'm pinning, er, sticking to it.

***

To follow the Harlequin Heartwarming boards on Pinterest, click here.

You can also find and follow Cerella on Pinterest at www.pinterest.com/CerellaSechrist

***



CERELLA SECHRIST lives in York, Pennsylvania with two precocious pugs, Darcy and Charlotte, named after Jane Austen literary characters. Inspired by her childhood love of stories, she was ten years old when she decided she wanted to become an author. These days, Cerella divides her time between working in the office of her family’s construction business and as a barista to support her reading habit and coffee addiction. She’s been known to post too many pug photos on both Instagram and Pinterest. You can see for yourself by finding her online at www.cerellasechrist.com. Harper’s Wish, Book #1 in her Findlay Roads series, is her third novel with Harlequin Heartwarming.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Fall Festivals

FALL FESTIVALS--by Sophia Sasson

I love Fall for all the wonderful festivals that start. Last year, I was in Munich, Germany; where Oktoberfest is serious business. The entire town was dressed in lederhosen and dirndls; the air smelled of beer and Lebkuchen (gingerbread cookies); and maddening crowds from all over the world filled the streets. It was quite an experience.


Most people know about the beer tents at Oktoberfest. What you might not appreciate is they are enormous buildings. Thousands of people crowd into tables and chairs or benches in one of these “tents”. These structures made of wood beams and fancy decorations are actually temporary, made just for Oktoberfest each year. The crowd is often singing songs, dancing to music (on their tabletop or bench), and of course drinking lots of beer. 

What do the beer mugs look like? Well, a picture is worth a thousand words.

Note: It’s considered a crime to steal of one of these krugs from a beer hall, and since the burly security guards are a scary deterrent, a successful heist is celebrated in the streets.

While riding on the subway or walking about town, you’ll see people dressed in traditional lederhosen, short or knee length leather breeches worn with a shirt or jacket. The longer versions are actually called Bundhosen. Women wear a dirndl, an aproned dress over a blouse. You can make out the tourists from the Germans by looking at the quality of their traditional clothes. Lederhosen and drindl’s cost anywhere from hundreds to several thousand dollars and you can see the difference in the quality of material, and detailing in the embroidery, buttons or other accents. I heard that such traditional clothing is often passed down generations, particularly children’s clothes.

 One item I’ve never seen at my local Oktoberfest, is a Lebkuchen which are seen all over the city. These are gingerbread hearts spiced with cinnamon and anise and all kinds of spices with messages like Ich Liebe Dich (I love you).  They come with a string attached to wear. You’re supposed to buy one for your sweetheart. Mine didn’t last long enough to wear, who wants to smell a ginger cookie and not eat it?

My favorite memory at Oktoberfest is walking into a tent full of highly inebriated Germans singing “country road.” I’ve never heard it sung with a German accent before.  I asked one singer’s why he liked the song but he didn’t speak English.

Where was I going with all this? Oh yes, when I began writing my heartwarming short story for Harlequin’s thanksgiving promotion, I really wanted it to be about small town traditions. My own little community has a wonderful Fall festival every year where there’s hay rides, scarecrow making, pumpkin painting. So I researched other Fall traditions and of course everyone knows about Oktoberfest but did you know about turkey hunting?  It used to be quite a sport in the Spring and Fall, and is still somewhat popular.  While we think of turkey’s in the Fall, the Spring hunting season brings out quite the strut in tom’s (male turkey’s) who gobble loudly looking for their love mate. While some hunters work on perfecting their hunting call to attract the birds, others count on their aim to snag a bird.


So I thought, what if a city girl goes to meet her boyfriend’s family expecting a marriage proposal, and instead gets roped into a turkey hunt. To find out what happens, read the short story (Falling for the Cowboy) that’ll be a free online read on November 11th as part of the Heartwarming thanksgiving promotion (more coming on that).

The short story and my first heartwarming book, First Comes Marriage is set in the town of Bellhaven, which the town’s people call Hell’s Bells (to know why, you’ll have to read my First Comes Marriage, now available for preorder on Amazon) is a quirky, quaint small town with traditions like turkey hunts and Bull Blazin festivals. To find out more about the short story or book, visit my website or sign up for my newsletter.


So tell me, what are some of your favorite Fall festivals?

Monday, October 26, 2015

One Potato, Two Potato, Three Potato, Four...

By
Kathy Damp
&
Patricia Bradley

Did you ever choose sides, playing that game? 

Kathy Damp here, anxious to interview Patricia Bradley about The Christmas Campaign, one of Heartwarming's November 1 releases. 


Kathy: In the Christmas Campaign, the reading of the will turns everything upside down and in a surprising way. How did the reader surprise jump into your head? Without any spoilers, of course. It's quite inventive. 

Patricia: Ooh! Thanks, Kathy. It's always great to be called inventive. Give me a second to finish my neck exercises. 
There, I'm done... 

Well, I knew Peter didn't want to take over the family company, so in trying to think of a way to torture my character (My job, you know.) I decided the best way would be to tie his dream of building a teenage hang-out into running the company. Worked well for Jake, too. He thought he was a shoo-in as CEO. I am so devious. He-he.

Kathy: How did Peter come to mind as a main character? He is quite a different hero. Wait, but then there's Jake. He seems to be the wild child hero guy. So, Jake, Peter, and Nicole? The three of them remind of the saying, "Two dogs, one bone." How's that going to turn out? Can you give a hint? 

Patricia: I am soo glad you brought up the dog and bone analogy! That actually crossed my mind when I came up with the premise of the book. Peter had lost the girl in the other Cedar Grove book--Matthew's Choice--and I didn't want it to be automatically assumed he'd get the girl this time--you'll have to read the book to see. 

So I created an opponent worthy of him. And Jake is truly worthy! 

If I had a dream actor to play his part...well, just take a look:

















Kathy: Who would you choose to play Peter






Patricia: Only one person could play Peter! Nicole had quite a task in front of her.







Kathy:  Would you tell us how Nicole came to be as a character? She has talents that are often attributed to males and I love her bluntness. 

Patricia: With three brothers making her tough, Nicole's bluntness came naturally.  Would you like to see who would play Nicole?

Kathy: Absolutely!
Patricia: I think Phoebe Tonkin is perfect.


Kathy: When you were writing this story, what were some of the surprises you encountered as the writer?

Patricia: My characters always surprise me. Some writers scoff at the idea that a character can take over the book, but evidently, they've never met Nicole. She had a mind of her own, and I wasn't certain whether she'd choose Jake or Peter! You'll have to read the book to find out.

Thanks, everyone, for dropping by. I hope you've enjoyed our conversation about the characters in The Christmas Campaign. It releases November 1.




Saturday, October 24, 2015

Sit-Down Saturday with Carol Ross



Thrilled to sit-down this lovely Saturday morning and answer some questions about my latest book, If Not for a Bee.
In looking at the cover, if you could add a caption or captions, what would they say? 
If not for a bee...
I think the title of the book is a perfect caption, "if not for a bee." Because literally, if not for a bee, hero Aidan Hollings wouldn’t be in Alaska. If not for a bee, he and Janie would never have their very first encounter in front of the Donut Den in downtown Rankins, Aidan would never enlist the help of Janie’s older boys in his lab, Janie would never have to interview him for the Rankins Press, and...on it goes. And all because of a bee.

What is your favorite scene?
 
This is a tough one. I like so many scenes in this book it’s difficult to choose. I think this is because I love Aidan and Janie so much. These two are both dealing with some complex issues. But they both want to do the right thing, especially when it comes to Janie’s boys. As we all know, sometimes no matter how much we analyze and agonize about an important decision, ultimately it still might not turn out to be the best one.

I love the scene where Janie discovers that Aidan is teaching her older two boys a skill that he feels is valuable; something that he is convinced will help them solve a problem. He’s also aware of the fact that Janie may not agree with this approach, so he acts on the age-old theory that sometimes it’s easier to beg for forgiveness than to ask for permission. Of course, he gets caught. Janie’s mom claws come out in full force as she battles with whether or not this is the right thing for her children. A conversation ensues where Janie has a bit of a revelation about her parenting style.

Who was your favorite character and why?
I adore Janie. She’s loosely based on my oldest sister, Shelly. Like my sister, Janie’s devotion to the people she loves trumps everything else in her life. She is kind and sweet and generally easygoing, but mess with her children, her family, or friends? Watch out. You’ll see a side to her you never even knew existed. 
If you could pick an actor or actress to play the hero and heroine, who would they be? 
I’m not one to picture famous people when I write my stories. I know authors who create collages or Pinterest boards around their Hollywood-featured hero and heroine. I can see how this would be helpful, but I always feel like I should be writing instead. Not that I am writing necessarily, just that I feel like I should be.  But Aidan, the hero from If Not for a Bee is an easy one. He’s Matthew McConaughey. Matthew is a bit older than Aidan (who is in his early thirties in the book) but he could pull it off. Imagine Matthew in the films Sahara or Fools Gold. Even his personality reminds me a bit of Aidan.  For Janie, I would go with Amy Adams. In fact, the more I think about it, the more perfect she seems.
Here they are. My Janie and Aidan.
Tell us one thing you learned during research. 
Only one? I've become a little passionate about these little critters. I've learned so much about bees I could write an entire blog post (book) about them. Oh, wait…I've already done that. Twice. 
Although, since you asked...
One fascinating fact that I don’t think I’ve posted previously (although it is mentioned in the book) is how active some species of bumblebees are in Alaska. With its shockingly cold temperatures, I wondered how early do bumblebees come out in the spring?  Arctic bumblebees are blessed with this super-hero-like ability called thermoregulation, which allows them to raise their internal body temperature to somewhere around 100° F. The tundra can be half-frozen in the spring, but the Arctic bumblebee will be out there visiting the very first blooms of the season and doing his pollinating thing.
Isn't it cute? Love these tiny, fuzzy super-heroes! (photo by Silvio Sorcini.)


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

 I’m starting to believe that I really can do this writing thing. My anxiety level has gone down so much since my first book came out. I was nearly frozen with fear that a horrible mistake had been made - my editor hadn’t really read it, my reviews would all be one-star or less, I’d embarrass my family, etc. Book two was better as I held on to the fact that I’d truly given it my all and that’s what really matters. But with this one, I’ve firmly grasped the fact that I can only control the things I can control. (I say the serenity prayer on a daily basis.) Not that I don’t still have “book” worries. They just don’t consume me anymore. I’m really enjoying the entire process now. And that makes me happy.

What do you plan to work on next?
 
Just finished revisions for book four. This one is called A Family Like Hannah’s and is also set in Rankins. I’m excited about it because it’s a little different than the previous three Seasons of Alaska books in some subtle, but important ways. Ways that I feel I’ve grown and improved as a writer. Such a great feeling. 
I am currently working on another proposal for Heartwarming. I’m going to step away from Rankins for a book or two and then hopefully revisit it again for a couple more books. Looking forward to creating a new world, but not quite ready to say goodbye to Rankins forever.

What are you reading for pleasure right now?
 
I recently finished reading fellow Heartwarming author Amy Vastine’s The Hardest Fight. I loved it. I’ve loved all of her books, but I think this one is my favorite so far. Next up is Kristan Higgins’ latest, If You Only Knew.
Thank you so much for taking the time to let me ramble about my latest release. For more information about me or my books stop by my new website: carolrossauthor.com Or just stop by and take a look because it’s so pretty! You can sign up for my newsletter, too. (It’s my first website ever. I’m a teensy bit excited about it in case that it isn't coming through on the page.)

        Available at the following:        
 Harlequin 
Thank you for stopping by to chat with me this morning!



Friday, October 23, 2015

MY INHERITANCE (!) by Muriel Jensen

I've never inherited anything.  I come from a wonderful blue collar family who just made it from month to month with a lot of laughter, but not a lot of money.   Ron inherited a small amount of money from his mother and, of course, he shared it with me, but that was his inheritance and not mine.

About six weeks ago, I received a lovely shock!  A box  arrived by UPS from Mullica Hill, New Jersey.  I've never heard of it either.  The box was very heavy.  I ripped it open, sure it had to be some kind of mistake,  It wasn't.  The note atop the tight stack of books began, "Dear Muriel."

FLASHBACK:  I've mentioned before that between my two writing careers, I worked for an accounting office for seven years.  There were several partners involved, and one in particular was great fun because he'd been in a rock band, had bit parts in a couple of movies, but had now settled down to life in Astoria.   I loved that he read Variety, knew who was married to whom in Hollywood, what they were really like in person.

His wife, who visited the office now and again, was as interesting as he was because she'd been in his rock band and now taught accounting at the community college.  One summer, her aunt came to visit.  My desk was in the reception area, so she and I chatted while she waited for her niece to be ready to go home.  She was a tall, elegant lady in her late seventies named Mary Rose. I'm not sure whether she did it, or I did it, but the topic came around to books.  We talked and laughed for half an hour over our mutual love for Georgette Heyer.

Georgette Heyer
Then my boss and his wife appeared to take Mary Rose to lunch and then home, and I never saw or heard from her again.

Until her Georgette Heyer collection appeared on my doorstep.


The note was from her niece, saying that Mary Rose remembered meeting me and felt that we'd forged a bond over those Regency period books.  She wanted me to have her collection.  As I write this, it makes me cry again.  Who cares about money and power when you can inherit someone's magic coach ride to another time and place?  When they've lived a lifetime, and remember you?

I have 29 books.  I don't think it's a complete collection but some are so old that spines have been taped together, and one of the books sold for 30p (whatever that is) in  England in the 50s.



On the back of Devil's Cub, her first book, is a brief biography.  "Georgette Heyer was born in England in August, 1902.  Educated at numerous high-class seminaries, she did not go to college nor did she pass Matriculation or any other kind of examination.  She wrote her first novel when she was seventeen, and published it at the age of nineteen, in 1921."  (Hard not to hate her for that.)

It goes on to say she married, accompanied her husband to East Africa, then went to Yugoslavia.  They had a son, born in 1932.  "She is an omnivorous reader and among fiction writers her special preferences are Jane Austen, Thackeray, George Meredith, Rudyard Kipling, W. W. Jacobs.  If she were condemned to pass the rest of her life on a desert island with the works of only one novelist available, she would choose Jane Austen."

As fate would have it, I've been plotting a mainstream book about an author who makes the change from contemporary romance to Regencies and I'd begun reading the library's copy of Bath  Tangle by Georgette Heyer to get reacquainted with the language and manners.  And now the period is all around me, on my desk, on the edge of the futon, on my printer, and in an organized pile on my bookcase - where there really isn't room for anything else.  Except George Heyer - who was willed to me by Mary Rose.




Thursday, October 22, 2015

A Giveaway (Tara Taylor Quinn)




Goodreads Book Giveaway

Once Upon a Friendship by Tara Taylor Quinn

Once Upon a Friendship

by Tara Taylor Quinn

Giveaway ends October 30, 2015.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter Giveaway

My second Heartwarming novel, Once Upon A Marriage released this month!

It's the second and last story in The Historic Arapaho series. The series revolves around three friends who are all professionally successful and go into business together to purchase an old apartment building. There is a bodyguard and suspense involved.

From now until the end of the month, I'm running a giveaway on Goodreads, giving five copies of the first book in the series, Once Upon A Friendship. And here, today, the first day of the giveaway, I'm making it easy on you to enter! Just click above!

I've got more Heartwarming news to celebrate this month!  I just contracted to write a new series, starting with three books! It revolves around Family Secrets and that's all I can say about that for now! But... Stay tuned for a whole lot more Heartwarming coming your way very very soon.  We're bringing you thirteen completely free Heartwarming stories to warm your hearts this Thanksgiving - a gift to you from Harlequin Books and your Heartwarming authors!

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Treasures by Marion Ekholm


I have several treasures, things that mean a great deal to me, but have no monetary significance.


When my parents added onto our house in Connecticut, I finally had my own bedroom. Outside of a bed, I had no other furniture. My mother’s best friend, “Aunt” Helen, invited me over to her barn to look at an old traveling trunk. Oh, yeah, I could use that.



After getting it home, I removed all the old wallpaper glued inside. It  was my reading seat pressed into a corner of my room where I could read for hours. And it definitely is a treasure chest. Check out an old movie of “Treasure Island” and you can see an exact replica of my chest. It’s traveled everywhere with me.


The chest has housed many of my belongings including Clare Louise, my first and favorite doll. The hinges no longer work, the lid is very heavy and difficult to remove, and the side handles made of leather long ago deteriorated. I added wheels so I could move it around without having to empty it.


Detail of the metals & wood.
 
I designed the small rug used on top of the trunk from a photo I took of some marsh lands on the Maine coast. After getting the rug started, I lost interest, and my mother-in-law finished it for me. Every time I see it, I’m reminded of what a wonderful person she was. She actually finished many projects for me. I tend to over buy things such as knitting yarn. She took bags of it off my hands, and made several afghans the family still use.













This treasure, a  mirror framed in pressed wood, makes me smile every time I look at it. My husband and I frequented garage sales and auctions. At one garage sale I got into a conversation with the owner of this mirror. He wanted $10; I offered him $5.




He said no, if he didn’t get his $10, he was bringing it to the auction that night. I went to the auction, made a $5 bid when it came up and won the bid. He had to pay the auctioneer 25% of the $5. Do the math.






This goes to prove a bird in the hand…
 





Do you have similar “treasures” that you can’t part with because they hold too many precious memories?

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

A Favorite Fall Recipe

posted by Lee McKenzie


This month I'm sharing one of my favorite fall recipes. Whether I'm baking for a Halloween party, a Thanksgiving feast, or thinking ahead to Christmas, I find this pumpkin loaf is always a winner.

Photo courtesy of shuttermonkey
 

 Lee's Favorite Pumpkin-Pecan-Cranberry Loaf

¾ cup butter
2 ½ cups sugar
4 eggs
16 oz. can pumpkin puree (not pie filling)
2/3 cup water
3 ½ cups unbleached flour
2 tsp. baking soda
1 ½ tsp. salt
1 ½ tsp baking powder
1 ½ tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. ground allspice
2/3 cup chopped pecans
½ cup of dried cranberries

In large bowl cream together butter, sugar and 2 eggs. Add remaining eggs, one at a time, beating thoroughly. Next, stir in pumpkin and water. In a separate bowl combine all remaining ingredients (except nuts and cranberries) and mix well. Add to pumpkin mixture, a little at a time, and stir until batter is thoroughly blended. Fold in the chopped pecans and dried cranberries. Spoon batter into 2 greased and floured loaf pans. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour and 10 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center, comes out clean. Cool about 15 minutes before removing from loaf pan. Enjoy!

Photo courtesy of Andrew Lee
Best of all, this loaf is easy to make, it'll fill your home with luscious aromas while it's baking, the ingredients are yummy delicious, and it freezes beautifully.

Photo courtesy of futurestreet
My wish for everyone as we head into the holiday season is happiness, good health, good food and (of course) a good book!

Enjoy, and happy reading!

Until next time,

Lee

The Parent Trap (Heartwarming, Oct '14)
To Catch a Wife (Heartwarming, May '16)
www.LeeMcKenzie.com