Monday, November 30, 2015

We Need a Title! . . . by Kate James

My editor and I want the perfect title for the third book in my K-9 trilogy, and we would like your help!

Here's the context...
When the Right One Comes Along is the first book in the trilogy. It was released on October 1st. It’s the story of trauma surgeon Jessica Hansen, San Diego Police Department search and rescue officer Cal Palmer, and Cal's search and rescue dog, Scout. Here's the back cover blurb:

Brought together by disaster. Kept together by love. 

In the aftermath of a deadly earthquake, it's chaos for trauma surgeon Jessica Hansen. Among the many victims, one patient stands out—San Diego Police K-9 search and rescue officer Cal Palmer.

Cal vows to help Kayla, a child orphaned by the disaster. But he needs Jessica's help. Will their shared concern for Kayla and for Cal’s canine partner, Scout, allow them to put aside their personal torments and discover the difference love can make?
The second book in the trilogy, When Love Matters Most, is available for preorder and will be released on January 1st. This book tells the story of SDPD K-9 unit sergeant Rick Vasquez, veterinarian Madison Long, and Rick’s narcotics detection dogs Sniff and Nitro. Here's the back cover blurb:

Keeping her safe

Could their backgrounds be any more different? Rick Vasquez, a K-9 unit sergeant with the San Diego Police Department, fled drug-related violence in Mexico as a boy. Madison Long, who recently became primary veterinarian to the SDPD’s canines, is the privileged daughter of a judge.

A product of his upbringing, Rick’s dedicated his life to curtailing cross-border drug trafficking and preventing other young boys from being drawn into the dark world of the cartels. But all that Rick and Madison value, including the growing love between them, is threatened by the dangers of Rick’s job, and the risks he’s determined to take…

Now for the third book in the trilogy, and how you can help . . . 
Book three is planned for release on July 1, 2016. It’s the story of K-9 unit captain Logan O’Connor and San Diego International Airport chief of security, Ariana Atkins. When these two come together, their interaction promises to be explosive!


Please visit my blog here and enter your title on the form provided. If your title is chosen, it will be my great pleasure to send you signed copies of all three books in the trilogy, and mention your contribution in the acknowledgements for the third book. Here are the guidelines:
  • To stay consistent with the first two books, please have the title start with "When."
  • Keep it fairly short, so it's not ungainly.
  • Please avoid generic–sounding or clich├ęd titles.
  • If the title can have a connection to the hero's and/or heroine's professions or the primary setting, an airport, that would be a plus. 
You can enter as often as you like. I will accept entries until midnight EST, Tuesday, December 1st. Please check my blog on December 11th for the outcome.
Thank you for taking the time to send me your suggestion and good luck!

Happy reading.

 




Purchase When the Right One Comes Along
Harlequin (e-book and paperback)
Amazon - Barnes & Noble  - iTunes - Chapters (Kobo)

Purchase When Love Matters Most:
Harlequin (paperback and eBook)
 Amazon - iTunes - Barnes and Noble - Chapters (Kobo)

Friday, November 27, 2015

What Does It Mean To Write Fiction? by Roz Denny Fox





According to my very large unabridged version of Random House Dictionary, second edition—Fiction is the class of literature comprising works of imaginative narration especially in prose form, or something feigned, invented or imagined—a made up story.

I thought about writing this blog a couple of months ago when I received a letter from a reader who had gotten a copy of one of my fairly old back-list books at a library book sale. She wrote a two page letter saying how unhappy she was because my story, set in her state, wasn’t in any town she or any of her friends had ever heard of, and she’d been a resident all her life. She claimed she’d spent hours looking at small towns on a very detailed map. She further said that surely since the people I wrote about had jobs in the town, someone who knew them would probably like to tell them they’d read about them in a very nice story. (So hey, she complimented something)


I wrote back thanking her for taking the time to write to me, and for enjoying the story. Then I said the town was fictional. I assumed this would be the end of it. But she wrote back, again disappointed. She wondered why I would put such real-sounding people, with very real careers, in a town that didn’t exist. If I wrote fiction, she said, none of the book ought to feel real.


I admit that stumped me. And I started thinking about the lengths we who write contemporary romance go to make sure the bulk of our stories are real. Our cops, military men and women, lawyers, veterinarians, nurses, doctors…and the list goes on, we interview people in those careers to keep the realistic flavor.

In the end I decided it wasn’t something I could explain any better and let it go. Then on another loop of writers I’m on, someone asked for input about injuries that might occur if someone fell off a roof. Many responses were detailed and came from people who worked in emergency rooms. But one answer had me again considering writing this blog to see what other writers thought. One person wrote, and I’ll paraphrase: Can’t we arrange an accident to suit ourselves? A person could trip on a step, hit their head and die. Another person could fall off a two-story roof and get nothing more than a limp. A character might break his or her leg in a simple way, and we could give them complications. Another might get a seemingly small scratch and die of tetanus. Isn’t that the joy of writing fiction?

So is it fiction if we aren’t writing books about unreal creatures, or building whole worlds that are populated with super-human characters? Are contemporary books set in real places in the U.S. or other countries, with people who come out of our heads, but have all of the characteristics of someone working in a real field—is that fiction?

Very early on in my career a well-known author said something that stuck with me. She said, I always set my stories twenty miles out of someplace that’s real. I don’t say it’s north, east, west or south of the real city. She said she neglected to name the highways or byways, rivers or streams. She just picked a spot where she knew the architecture, flora and fauna and wrote her book.

That’s worked for me until this very picky reader started me wondering, how much of what I do can I call fiction? Some books have disclaimers at the front that say any mistakes or embellishments are your own and not a result of any person to whom you may dedicate the book. Should all fiction books, however real, come with a disclaimer?  Or did I happen to hear from the only reader in our universe who reads contemporary romance and thinks every itsy bitsy thing in the book is totally real?

I’d love to hear what others think? Or tell me I’m really reaching for something to blog about-lol
 

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving!


From the Heartwarming authors to you!

If you have time, check out our free online reads.  Today we have Melinda Curtis featured.

Monday, November 23, 2015

The Firefighter's Promise, a Thanksgiving Online Free Read and More . . . by Kate James

It’s been an exciting couple of months!

When the Right One Comes Along, the first book in my K-9 trilogy, was released in October. RT Book Reviews wrote this in their review:

  • When the Right One Comes Along  opens with a bang, captivating readers with compassion, kindness and love. James pairs misfortune with joy, heartache, havoc and flirtation, creating the perfect atmosphere for this emotional roller coaster. Plan to have all your emotions tested in this superb start to the K-9 Trilogy. (Thank you RT Book Reviews and Becca Prater!)

Then Harlequin offered a very special promotion for its readers: 10,000 e-Books, including A Child’s Christmas, at just $1.99. At the same time, Harlequin launched Heartwarming Thanksgiving, a special reader event providing 13 free short stories to read online. My short story, The Firefighter’s Promise, is featured today on the Harlequin website. Here's the link to access the story: http://bit.ly/1RZ27Op.





Here is the “back cover blurb” for the story:

An accidental love . . .

When Jacqueline (Jax) Warren is in a serious motorcycle accident, firefighter Ryan Hudson is the first to arrive at the scene. Ryan takes a special interest in Jax, particularly when he discovers that her stepmother shows little interest in her. But Jax learned early in life that she can't rely on other people, and her six-year-old half-brother is the only person she cares about.

Ryan convinces her to celebrate Thanksgiving with him and his family, to show her that not all families are like the one she's known. When he presents her with an unexpected gift, she finally lets him into her life...and her heart.

* * *

But wait . . . it gets better! All Heartwarming books are now an extra $1 off for a total 30% saving all month long! Enter code HEART1115 at checkout and enjoy great savings! Follow our book tour and other media stops for chances to win FREE books, a Harlequin Heartwarming one-year subscription, gift cards and other great prizes.

The blog stops associated with my story are: 
Another way to engage with me is through the Harlequin community. I would love to hear from you here or the comment section at the bottom of the story. For another chance to win, show your creativity! Write a short epilogue here to be entered to win an autographed copy of When the Right One Comes Along and a $10 Amazon gift card. The winner will be announced on Saturday, November 28th.

As we're in the final stretch to Thanksgiving, this is a special week with an online read each day until the 26th. Watch for the final free online reads from these fabulous Heartwarming authors:

November 24th: Wedding of His Dreams by Cari Lynn Webb

November 25th: The Sweetheart Tree by Rula Sinara
 

November 26th: Married by Thanksgiving by Melinda Curtis

Please leave a comment below for a chance to win an autographed copy of When the Right One Comes Along.

Happy reading!






When the Right One Comes Along

Brought together by disaster. Kept together by love. 

In the aftermath of a deadly earthquake, it's chaos for trauma surgeon Jessica Hansen. Among the many victims, one patient stands out—San Diego Police K-9 search and rescue officer Cal Palmer.

Cal vows to help Kayla, a child orphaned by the disaster. But he needs Jessica's help. Will their shared concern for Kayla and for Cal’s canine partner, Scout, allow them to put aside their personal torments and discover the difference love can make?

Harlequin (e-book and paperback)
Amazon - iTunes - Barnes and Noble - Chapters (Kobo)


When Love Matters Most
Keeping her safe

Could their backgrounds be any more different? Rick Vasquez, a K-9 unit sergeant with the San Diego Police Department, fled drug-related violence in Mexico as a boy. Madison Long, who recently became primary veterinarian to the SDPD’s canines, is the privileged daughter of a judge.

A product of his upbringing, Rick’s dedicated his life to curtailing cross-border drug trafficking and preventing other young boys from being drawn into the dark world of the cartels. But all that Rick and Madison value, including the growing love between them, is threatened by the dangers of Rick’s job, and the risks he’s determined to take…

Harlequin (paperback and eBook)

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Leaving Brookhollow...

I can't believe that it was almost three years ago that I got 'the call'. The life-changing call from Victoria Curran that turned my single title homeless story about Luke & Victoria into a six book small town Heartwarming series.

Love, Lies & Mistletoe is the sixth and final book in my Brookhollow series and saying Goodbye to the series was bittersweet. I love each of the characters I created in the small town and I know I wrote the HEA I set out to write...but I know I will definitely miss writing about this small town.

This last book is Heather Corbett's story. She has been a secondary character in the series since book 1 and my intent was always to end the series with her HEA, (spoiler alert) with her leaving Brookhollow. It is definitely a symbolic full-circle as the series opens with her best friend, Victoria returning to the small town.

There was a lot of pressure with this one. Fans of the series are amazing and I'm so grateful for the readers who looked forward to each instalment as they released. So, I wanted to wrap up the series in a way that would leave them with a warm feeling when they turned that last page.

I hope I succeeded:)

Happy Reading! And thank you all for hanging out in Brookhollow with me:) Maybe we will meet there again someday;)

xo
Jen

**Giveaway** Comment below to be entered a signed print copy of LOVE, LIES & MISTLETOE and a Starbucks Gift Card! Winner announced here on Monday:)

This small-town sheriff has big-city secrets 
As a detective in New York, Jacob Marx had been deep under cover in a drug cartel…until a bust went terribly wrong. Now posing as a good guy is proving even tougher. Since the force sent him to Brookhollow to lie low as a deputy sheriff, he's been struggling to stay detached from the townspeople. Especially Heather, the gorgeous, high-heeled bartender at the local pool hall who asks too many questions. Tempted as he is, he can't allow himself to connect with her or anyone else. His career and safety are at stake. Of course, a little flirting couldn't hurt… Could it?

Friday, November 20, 2015

Carol and Amy's Awesome Thanksgiving Story Quiz

With Thanksgiving right around the corner, people might be feeling that holiday stress. We decided it would be fun to play a little game and give away some prizes! If you've been following the blog, you know that we are nearing the end of our Heartwarming Thanksgiving FREE reads. Today, Carol's story, Autumn at Jasper Lake, posted HERE.

We'll give you a few minutes to go read it. Go on, head on over there. We'll wait...

*insert your favorite elevator music here*

Okay, we hope you enjoyed that one as much as we did. Hopefully, you already read Amy's Snow Day Baby (you can click back on that link up there if you need a refresher) and are ready to take our friendly and totally awesome Thanksgiving story quiz! 

We're giving away a $10 Amazon gift card and copies of The Best Laid Plans and If Not For a Bee to one lucky winner. All you have to do is take our quiz and post your score in the comments below to be qualified to win. Paperback books will be sent to US winners, international winners will receive an ebook. We will choose a winner on Sunday, November 22nd. Be sure to check back to see if you are our lucky turkey!

Happy Thanksgiving and be sure to check out all the free Thanksgiving reads. All of them are fantastic!




Thursday, November 19, 2015

New England November

by Helen DePrima

November is one of my favorite months with its restful quiet. The hurly-burly of
gardening and harvest is finally over with only cutting and stacking wood to finish before snow overtakes New Hampshire. All the trees except the oaks have shed their leaves; now the shape of the hills, the bones of the earth are visible. Heavy frost furs the grass in early morning when I take our dog out for her first run of the day; the last flights of geese honk their way southward while northern juncos from Canada make their appearance to spend the winter in New England.

This November I’ve been especially grateful for the hiatus between the summer and fall activities and the flurry of holiday events. My novel IntoThe Storm from Heartwarming comes out December 1, the first in the Cameron’s Pride series about a Colorado family involved in the sport of Professional Bull Riding. After traveling through the Four Corners several years ago, I chose southwestern Colorado near Durango as the locale for Cameron’s Pride, the family’s home ranch. Writing Into The Storm allowed me to revisit this beautiful region in my mind with my memories refreshed from my library of photos.

Another November highlight was the New Hampshire Writers Project Writers Week,
seven days of events throughout the state. This year’s theme was The Writer’s Journey, a series of panels on moving from initial motivation to eventual publication. Because I had so recently gone through the pre-publication process with Into The Storm, I volunteered to contribute to presentations on Creating a Kickass Final Draft and Before Your Book Goes To Press. Although I’d spoken before groups many times on my work as a wildlife rehabilitator, this was my first time talking about my writing, a daunting experience. At least my talk didn’t get stuck in a loop repeating the same thing again again again . . .


All this while completing a revision for the second book in the Cameron’s Pride series by December 3. Maybe the holidays will be more restful after all.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

In the Holiday Spirit by Syndi Powell




I have to admit that I've been bitten by the Holiday bug this year. I am excited about the upcoming holidays and have been counting down the days until I can put up my Christmas tree and play carols on the radio. For me, the kickoff to Christmas is Thanksgiving. Until then, I can hope and plan, but the holidays don't become real until the fourth Thursday of November.

After last year when I didn't feel up to celebrating much of anything, this year is going to be different. I am looking forward to spending time with friends and family. To go Christmas shopping and wrap gifts. I can't wait to bake Christmas cookies and stay up late on Christmas Eve to catch a peek of Santa. To wake up on Christmas morning with a sense of expectation. And then to celebrate the past year on New Year's Eve and look forward to the upcoming year.

I've been given a second chance at embracing life, and I intend on making this holiday season the most memorable by filling it with love and joy. I have had amazing blessings this year and look forward to what the next year holds.

Since I'm in a sharing mood, here is my favorite Christmas cookie recipe for Chinese New Year Cookies:
12 oz chocolate chips
12 oz butterscotch chips
6 oz can of chow mein noodles
14.5 oz can of salted peanuts
Melt chips over low heat. Remove pan from heat and slowly stir in chow mein noodles and peanuts. Drop by spoonfuls on to wax paper. Let harden then chill or freeze. I usually keep these in the freezer until an hour before serving.



Whatever holidays you celebrate, I hope they are filled with joy and love this year. Hold your loved ones close and may we find peace on Earth.

What recipes do you always make for the holidays or what traditions do you hold on to?

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

10,000 Harlequin eBooks at $1.99 - Last Day to Save!


In celebration of 10 years of digital publishing, Harlequin has been holding its biggest sale ever!

Today is your LAST CHANCE to purchase any of our Heartwarming backlist titles for $1.99 at Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, Nook, Google and Kobo (US only).


Did you know…?

  • Harlequin started publishing eBooks in Oct 2005.
  • Harlequin was the 1st major publisher to make its complete front-list catalog available in the eBook format.
  • Harlequin was one of the 1st romance publishers to offer the eBook format.
  • Harlequin has published approximately 27,000 titles LTD.
  • Harlequin publishes eBooks in 16 languages, including major languages such as English, Spanish, Portuguese, French, German and Japanese.
  • Romance is one of the most popular categories in digital publishing.

Read your favorites Heartwarming books today for only $1.99! Check which titles are on sale here


Monday, November 16, 2015

No Problem, Mon

by Patricia Bradley

It's the first morning of my first cruise and I'm sitting on my balcony trying to decide whether to have breakfast there or go up for a smorgasbord of food at the Cafe. This morning, the balcony won. I dined on fruit and bacon and eggs and very strong coffee as I watched the blue seas pass. 

The next morning I opt for the Cafe and am not disappointed! My very own Jamaican waiter sings to me as he delivers coffee. When I ask for cream, he says, "No Problem, Mon! I havea the very besta cream in the whole world!"--You have to be there to hear the cadence. :-)

Every day he greeted me with his happy songs. This photo was taken when we arrived back in Miami.

Everything about the cruise was fabulous. The weather was beautiful and so were the islands. We sailed first to Cozumel, then to the Grand Caymans, then to Jamaica and finally to Cococay before returning to Miami.  

I've never seen water so blue! And got to see an Iguana!


And the people we met! Hmmm. Potential leading men. 

This good-looking Jamaican policeman escorted us out of the Old Town in Falmouth, Jamaica--and we didn't almost get arrested! He was being gentlemanly, which could have been because of my granddaughter. He was fit-as-a-fiddle. 

And then there was the crew! I'm telling you, there were some fine looking crew members. There's just something about a uniform!





And here's one of the passengers who graciously allowed me to photograph him. Wouldn't he make a great hero!

I'd never thought much about how a cruise ship was run, but seeing how well everything came together each day was amazing. Imagine coordinating 4500 people every day! It was like a well-oiled machine.

Two places we tendered in and not one person was left behind. :-)

One of the interesting facts I learned at dinner was the ship severed over 500 bottles of wine each night in just two of the dining rooms. 

As for seasickness, I never experienced it. I did wear the patch the first couple of days, but I don't think I needed it. 

But then  all good things must come to an end. It was a glorious trip for me and my girls and granddaughter. This is the sunset over Cococay.


This blog was written before the terrible events in Paris. One minute everything is perfect and then this... My thoughts and prayers go out to the people of France. 

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Winter Wedding Bells are Ringing by Karen Rock, Jennifer Snow and Kristine Rolofson

Winter Wedding Bells are Ringing, by Karen Rock, Jennifer Snow and Kristine Rolofson.

A year and a half ago, Jennifer Snow and I limped back to my hotel room near the end of our fourth day of RWA Nationals conference. We’d smiled, given hugs, signed books, chatted, sipped coffee, lunched and… oh yes… attended a seminar or four. In other words, we were exhausted and eager for some well-deserved relaxation time.

After kicking off our heels and downing diet cokes, we began talking about life, our families, careers, and then, even more specifically, stories we wanted to write. In an instant so fast that I don’t know how it happened- either Jennifer suggested it or I did- we somehow had the same thought: since we like writing, like the holidays, and each other, why don’t we collaborate on a Christmas anthology?

Within the hour we had an outline of what became this month’s Heartwarming holiday release, WINTER WEDDING BELLS. It went through a few incarnations since our first discussion, most notably, the wonderful inclusion of the incredibly talented Kristine Rolofson. We worked and had fun as a team that fall, sharing images, excerpts and character details. Kristine even drew us a detailed schematic of the ski lodge in which all three of our novellas are set: the very real Mirror Lake Inn in Lake Placid, NY. As all three stories are interconnected, it took quite some coordination and flexibility, and might have turned a few of Victoria’s hairs grey, before we got our anthology perfected. We are all so pleased and proud of this uplifting, feel good collection!

It’s my delight to share the blurb, an excerpt from the first novella, my story THE KISS as well as links for you to check it out.

BLURB:

But guests are expecting a Christmas Eve wedding…!

What could be more romantic than a Christmas wedding at a ski lodge in Lake Placid? Well, if there actually was a wedding, for one thing! Three stories about getting love right over the holidays by USA TODAY bestselling author Kristine Rolofson and award-winners Karen Rock and Jennifer Snow.

The Kiss: A bride runs into her ex…and takes the ultimate gamble!

The Wish: An event planner sprains her ankle…and the chef asserts control.

The Promise: A maid of honor dodges an ex-boyfriend out to right a past wrong…

EXCERPT:

Austin cupped Julie’s cheeks and her eyes closed. Moonlight ran down her neck like water. She moved closer, her face tilting, lips opening and, unable to resist, he captured her mouth and kissed her. The sweet taste of her exploded on his tongue, electricity jolting wildly through him, heat bursting in his belly.

The years apart dissolved and he lost himself in the moment. Everything gone but the feel of her pressed to him, her lips against his jaw as he nibbled on her ear.

“I’ve missed you,” he groaned, realizing he'd been fooling himself into thinking he hadn't.  “I’ve wanted to do that for so long.” He rested his forehead against her temple and breathed. “So long. You’re just—”

When he stroked her jaw, she jerked back, blinking.

It seemed as if she was going to say something, but no words came when she opened her mouth. She dropped her head in her hands, unable to conceal how her features had all squeezed shut, or the pain leaking out of every part of her face.

Austin heard a rustling in the bushes.  A pair of red eyes blinked before vanishing again—a witness to his crime. Austin’s stomach churned with guilt.

“No. No no no no no.” Julie bolted to her feet and backed away before fleeing to the parking lot so fast it looked as if her feet were on fire.

Knife stab, center chest. Did he say knife? It was more like an ice pick. He felt pinned to this awful moment like a dead insect. Why had he kissed her? Taken advantage of her weak moment?

His shoulders bowed, laden with guilt.


We hope you can stop by for our invitation-only Holiday Facebook party to celebrate the release of Winter Wedding Bells on Dec. 3rd-4th! 
 
We have an amazing line-up of a incredible authors and giveaways that include, Joanne Rock, Melissa McClone, Sierra Donovan, Cheryl Harper, Shannon Richard, Melinda Curtis, Tara Taylor Quinn, Kate James, Lynn Marie Hulsman, Jeannie Moon, Darlene Fredette, Dana Volney, Rula Sinara, Nikki Lynn Barrett, Susan Scott Shelley, Lisa Marie Perry, Amy Vastine, Kathi Daley, Rachel Brimble,  Tara Randel, Anna J Stewart... And of course your co-hosts Karen Rock & Jennifer Snow.
 
Shoot me an email if you'd like an exclusive invite at karenrock@live.com and I'll put you on the guest list!

Wishing everyone the happiest of holidays ahead J

Friday, November 13, 2015

Friday the 13th and Thanksgiving in the Same Month? (with recipes) | by Loree Lough & Cerella Sechrist

Friday the 13th and Thanksgiving in the same month? “We Talk to Ourselves...a Lot!”(Loree Lough & Cerella Sechrist), and we think that’s a good thing!


Watch out! It’s Friday the 13th, the unluckiest day of the year! Or is it?

According to numerous studies, approximately 20 million people suffer from friggatriskaidekaphobia (from Frigga, Norse goddess for whom Friday is named, and triskaidekaphobia, fear of the number 13). True sufferers—paralyzed with fear—will actually take to their beds on Friday the 13th.



When the whole “Friday the 13th is unlucky” notion began isn’t clear, but superstitions linked to the number 13 date back to the 1690s. 13’s bad rap is the reason many cities don’t have a 13th Street or 13th Avenue. Why would 13 appear on an elevator panel when so few buildings have a 13th floor? Airports rarely have a gate 13, and you’ll be hard-pressed to check into a room with a 13 in it at hotels and hospitals.



Breathe easy, dear friends, because for every “Friday the 13th is unlucky” study, there’s another to refute it: One insurance corporation reports fewer accident, fire, and theft claims on Friday the 13th than on “normal” Fridays; their major competitor says there are more. One thing is certain… The date will inevitably inspire folks to cite their favorite Friday the 13th “ifs”:

· If a ship sets set sail on Friday the 13th it will encounter bad weather, and if you start a trip on Friday the 13th, well, y’know....

· If you break a mirror on Friday the 13th, start planning for 7 years of bad luck.

· And if you cut your hair on Friday the 13th, a loved one will soon die.

· If a funeral procession passes you on Friday the 13th, you’ll be the next to die.

· Our favorite? If a child is born on the 13th, it will live a life filled with misfortune and misery. The 13th—Loree's birth day—has always been a very lucky number for her! And Cerella agrees! Her mom's birthday also falls on the 13th, and it's been a "lucky number" in more ways than one!

Here’s our proof that Friday the 13th is lucky: We’re each going to share a family favorite Thanksgiving dinner side dish and dessert with you:



***
Did you know that previous Heartwarming titles are currently on sale for $1.99 at most online retailers? That includes our earlier releases! Visit Harlequin, Amazon Kindle, Barnes & Noble Nook, or Apple iBooks to catch up on your reading!




And don't forget to check out our latest releases!





And one final reminder that Heartwarming is being featured all month long at Harlequin.com: There are thirteen FREE short stories from Heartwarming authors, and all current Heartwarming titles are $1 off with code HEART1115. Find out more by visiting as at: A Heartwarming Thanksgiving



Until next time, this is Loree, and Cerella, wishing you a healthy, safe, and blessed Thanksgiving!

 
About Loree:

With nearly 6,000,000 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 Sweet Mountain Rancher (#2 in the “Those Marshall Boys” series for Harlequin's new Heartwarming line) brings Loree’s number of books in print to 105! Loree loves to hear from her readers and answers every letter, personally. Visit her at Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and www.loreelough.com!


About Cerella:

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

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Doing Wrong - Kristine Rolofson

Me and the lap steel.
My life as an amateur musician has had its ups and downs.  I taught myself to play the guitar when I was a teenager.  I learned every Judy Collins, Joan Baez and Joni Mitchell song.  I sang my little heart out.
And then I got married and had children.  I happily switched to bread-making and breast-feeding and singing along with my Willie Nelson albums.  I learned the words to a lot of songs.  I harmonized with Suzy Bogguss and Kathy Mattea and Lori Morgan in my kitchen.  I sang my little heart out.
And then I became a writer.  "Silence" was my new friend and writing my new passion.
About ten years ago I decided to be a musician again, but I didn't have much of a voice left and my arthritic fingers couldn't quite shape themselves into guitar chords, so I picked up the violin and took lessons for four years.
I loved it.  Until arthritis once again came into play and I realized I needed to learn another instrument just in case the time came when I couldn't move my fingers to play my beloved fiddle.
A steel guitar uses a bar for chording, so that seemed a good choice. Three years ago I bought a 1950's lap steel from a store in Texas.  I talked to the lap steel player with Suzy Bogguss and bought a 1940's Rickenbacker lap steel he recommended. 
But I couldn't find a teacher.
I dragged my husband to the quarterly meeting of the RI Steel Guitar Association meeting, ninety minutes away.  I brought a crock pot of meatballs for the potluck lunch and met some wonderful people, but no one knew anyone who gave lessons.
Two weeks later I went to the New England Steel Guitar Association meeting which turned out to be a dance party, complete with Western outfits and two-stepping 90 year olds.  They loved my boots and they asked me to dance, but once again, no one knew anyone who gave lessons.
I bought video lessons on-line, which was a technological nightmare.  I struggled with the downloads and I struggled with the lessons, but I played with my Idaho band in the summers and did the best I could (which isn't saying much).  My brother felt bad for me and arranged for an hour's lesson with the top lap steel guitar player in the country (and maybe the world), Cindy Cashdollar.  But Cindy was leaving Austin, Texas last winter and moving to New York and our schedules haven't meshed yet.  One of these days...
Last November I bought a dobro.  It looks like a guitar, plays like a lap steel and requires no electricity.  I found a teacher  here in RI, but last winter's storms meant I couldn't get out of the house to take lessons.  I couldn't find a dobro or lap steel teacher in Idaho last summer either.
But I am back in RI now and I have been taking lessons with "Buddy" for the past four weeks.
Can you imagine how excited I was about this?
The first three weeks of lessons didn't go well.  My elderly brain couldn't remember the blues licks he taught me on week 1, so on week 2 I recorded the lesson, asking Buddy to repeat lesson 1, on my new I-phone (but I couldn't get the lesson from my phone to my computer).  I bought another set of video lessons online, hoping to supplement Buddy's teachings.  Week 3 I recorded the 30-minute lesson on my cell phone but after 10 minutes it ran out of storage.  Week 4 I couldn't go due to food poisoning.  I would guess that Buddy was relieved.
I have had a terrible time learning what this patient man is trying to teach me.  I can't remember most of it.  My friend Ruth thinks I need to have my thyroid checked.  My baffled husband doesn't believe I can practice so much and still not get it.  I am not making progress.  I'm drowning.
Which brings me to the point of this story (and it may even have something to do with writing!!).  Yesterday I was prepared to record the lesson with my Kindle and a tripod.  I'd practiced "I'll Fly Away" thousands of times and it was still terrible.  I was dreading the inevitable struggle to make music and the humiliation that comes with failure.  Only my stubborn nature ("I will do this if it kills me") and the thought of my post-lesson Spicy Italian Subway sandwich kept me driving to the music store on week 5.
And then after some long minutes of playing together, Buddy paused, took a deep breath and said, "Kristine, let me tell you what you're doing wrong."
Let me tell you what you're doing wrong.
Are there any better words to hear when you are trying to learn something???
I wanted to jump up and down and cheer after Buddy listed what I was doing wrong.  There were a number of things.  Bring 'em on, Buddy!  I can take it!  I can fix it!  I can make progress now!
Tell me what I'm doing wrong!
I've met and taught and critiqued many, many unpublished writers in the past 30 years.  I've read hundreds of Golden Heart entries and even co-chaired the contest.  The writers who impressed me were the ones who were grateful for criticism, the ones who appreciated the comments about what they were doing wrong.
Sometimes it's the only way.

Have you ever had a difficult time learning something?  Do you play a musical instrument?  And what is your favorite Subway sandwich?



  

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Love Cowboys? I have one for you...

Happy Veterans day to everyone in the U.S. No matter where you live, I hope you’ll take a moment today to silently, or loudly, thank the members of your military, both those currently serving and Veterans for the scarifies they’ve made on our behalf.  While we authors dream up heroes every day, the men and women serving in the armed forces are true heroes every day.
For the history buffs, did you know that the reason the U.S. celebrates Veterans day on November 11th is that’s the day when fighting ceased  between Allied nations and Germany towards the end of World War One; “on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month.”
So onto cowboys, not the kind in uniform, but the ones on ranches. Unless you’ve ignored this blog for the past several weeks, you know about Harlequin’s thanksgiving promotion where you can find 13 online stories for FREE through the month of November. My story, Falling for the Cowboy, is live today (yipeee).

Elena Striotikos knows that returning to her boyfriend Dylan Hayes’s hometown to meet his family are the final step to getting what she wants; a marriage proposal. Except Dylan’s crazy town is the exact kind of closed community she grew up in and has spurned…and Dylan’s discovering he’s a cowboy at heart. Can Elena fall in love with a cowboy?
Elena and Dylan have been in my head for a very long time, in fact, writing just a short story on them was really hard.

Elena is a Greek American girl who’s fought all her life for an identity, a sense of home. Is she Greek or is she American? How can she be both? She’s finally found a place that she can call home. But…there’s always a but and to find out what it is, you’ll have to read the the story.

Dylan is a small town country boy who couldn’t wait to move out of Bellhaven. He moved to Chicago to pursue a career and found love instead. Now he’s back home to Bellhaven (a town that the locals call Hell’s Bells) with a plan that he hopes Elena will go along with.
Here is a  story teaser:
He’d grabbed a cowboy hat off a rack, placed it on his head, and gave her a broad smile, looking a lot like the star of a country western film.
“Dylan?” He didn’t have a twin brother. Not that she knew of. Maybe aliens had abducted him, and sent him back as a long lost character from the Wild West.
He grinned. “You like the old me?”
“The old you?”
“Yeah, this is me, you know, when I’m not a lawyer.”
“So what are you when you’re not a cowboy?”


I loved writing this story because Hell’s Bells/Bellhaven is the town for my upcoming Heartwarming book, First Comes Marriage. It’s a town full of quirks and charm and people who worm their way into my heart. I hated leaving them after just one book so I was glad to be able to include a few in this short story. And to find out why the town’s called Hell’s Bell, you’ll have to sign up for my newsletter, I’ll be sending out some sneaky peeks before the book releases in February.
Oh, and here's a cover sneak peek for First Comes Marriage.

Just a reminder, free reads are not all that we’re doing. There are a ton of giveaways as part of this promotion. Check them out here and for more fun, attend our facebook party on Nov 30.
And don’t forget, in addition to mine, there are four amazing stories up on the Harlequin site by Amy Vastine, Liz Flaherty, Leigh Riker, and Jen Snow. They are all sure to warm your heart.
So cowboy’s are my weakness, I even married one. What’s yours?