Saturday, January 30, 2016

Sit-down Saturday with Cynthia Thomason


Today we’re celebrating the January release of A BOY TO REMEMBER by Cynthia Thomason 

So, Cynthia, where did you get the idea for this novel?
I have always wanted to write a book set in my native Ohio. I grew up in a small town in northeast Ohio, and though I live in Florida now, I have always believed my home town and surrounding area is beautiful, serene, and a great way to experience the four seasons. The idea for the first book, set in a well-to-do neighborhood in Ohio’s “horse country” soon expanded into two more books, making a series about three sisters who grew up in modest luxury, yet faced challenges most anyone can relate to.

In looking at the cover, if you could add a caption or captions, what would they say? 
“Together we can face any obstacle” or “I’m so glad we found 
each other again.” Daniel and Alexis were summer lovers eighteen years ago. Now, each is a successful adult facing the future without a partner. Alexis is a widow, and Daniel is the state’s newest senator and facing his own challenges. The biggest challenge is the secret that Alexis brings when she returns to Ohio from Chicago.

How long did it take you to write?
Maybe four months. I found myself getting “into the zone” more quickly with this book than with others I have written. This book was truly a labor of love. With every scene I could picture some part of the beautiful countryside that shaped my life and brings me back to Ohio at least once a year.

What is your favorite scene?
Second chance love usually offers the possibility of many emotionally satisfying scenes, but one of my favorites in this book is the meeting of Daniel and Alexis at the beach resort where they worked as young adults. It was a chance meeting and sealed their relationship for years to come.

Who was your favorite character and why?

That’s like asking a mother to choose a favorite kid! Can’t be done. But I can pick a favorite secondary character, and that would be Alexis's daughter, Lizzie. She made me remember what it was like to be a teenager, with the emotional ups and downs, and she was fun to portray.

What music would match the mood of this novel?
Remember the oldie, “Goodbye for the Summer”? or the Beatles’ “I’m a Believer.”

What does this book mean to you in a purely personal way?
Since I grew up near my fictional setting of Fox Creek, Ohio, and since I taught in the school district, I feel like I personally know the three sisters who will populate this series, the Daughters of Dancing Falls. Each sister is true to herself, each is unique, and I believe each could be my friend (or former student!).

What do you plan to work on next?
I’m finishing the next book in the series, The Bridesmaid Wore Sneakers and thinking about the third and final book to come.

Thanks for having me for this Sit-down Saturday interview. I'd like to add one more thing. A BOY TO REMEMBER earned a Top Pick from Rt Book Reviews and, like all the January Heartwarming books, is available in print as well as ebook format. Beginning in just two days, the Heartwarming books will be available in select WalMart stores too. I hope you will consider adding these sweet romances to your TBR list.

Please visit my web site, www.cynthiathomason.net  and sign up for my newsletter. Thanks!
Cynthia
                                               


You can read about and purchase A BOY TO REMEMBER, here:

                       You can purchase the entire boxed set of Heartwarmings here:
                                                    tinyurl.com/j5cp9n8



Friday, January 29, 2016

A Week in a Quiet House



I was not meant to be quiet - not to behave quietly, myself, nor to live in a quiet place.  As a rule, there's just Ron and me and the pets, but either he's watching CNN, or something on Netflix is blaring from his computer.  Cheyenne barks to alert us that someone is walking by three blocks away, and the two tabbies are complaining that they've had the same meaty grille stuff in their bowls for three days and they're tired of it.

Everything changed last week.  After a year of dealing with congestive heart failure and debilitating arthritis, Cheyenne went to be with all of our beloved pals waiting at the Rainbow Bridge.  I still hear her beside me and behind me.  Of course, she'll always be within me.

Three days later, I was helping Ron to the stairs to go to bed and he complained of muscle weakness and said he was 'going down.'  So, already wrapped around him, I just held on and we sank to the carpet together.  I called the Fire Dept. for an assist to get him up and they thought there was more wrong than just a worsening of his neuropathy.  The ER found a raging UTI  (Me:  Why didn't you tell me?  Certainly you felt it!  Ron:  I don't know.  I never feel great so I didn't know anything was wrong!) and all those important levels of potassium, magnesium, and sodium were way, way down.
He was admitted.

I got home at 5:00 a.m. to absolute stillness.  I put on the television for the noise and made a cup of tea, emailed the kids, and fell asleep.  When I woke up there were two cats in my lap, the male, Stormy,  looking into my eyes with a clearly questioning, "Where IS he?"

Fed the cats, watered the plants (I think they were fine, but with Cheyenne gone and Ron in the hospital, there was nothing to do.) and tried to gather a load of laundry, but there wasn't quite enough.  I went back to the hospital.  ( It's just half a mile away, so a good morning walk.)

I was astonished by how much hospitals have changed.  In one area, the electronic take-over is amazing, and in regard to patient comfort, Columbia Memorial is part of the Planetree setup which is focused of truly making the patient feel at home.  No more dictated mealtimes - the patient reads from a menu almost as long as Denny's and orders what he wants when he wants it.  When Ron began to feel more like himself, he thought he was in pig heaven, until the voice at the other end of the line told him a diabetic could have only one egg, and not two; only half an order of hash browns, and under no circumstances would they bring him a mocha.  He said he did feel like he was at home - the voice on the other end sounded a lot like me.

Ever the artist, Ron loved the parading through of sweet and pretty young women - nurses, aides, housekeeping.  His doctor (a hospitalist - that's new for me and I have to look that up) is middle eastern with thick gorgeous black hair, beautiful black eyes,  and cute black boots that were all I could see beneath the hospital coat.  She seems also to be very caring and efficient.  I asked Ron if he wanted me to bring him his sketchbook and pencils.  He said no, that he was committing it all to memory,

His electrolytes are getting back in order, infection is gone, and the big test yesterday was whether or not he could walk with his walker and do the stairs.  If he couldn't, we were looking at a couple of weeks of in-facility rehab.  Our boys and son-in-law were trying to coordinate schedules to get together to build a downstairs bathroom, and patient care ordered a hospital bed for our dining room as we shift gears to make the house livable for Ron.

I hated the thought of a few more weeks alone in the quiet house.  I could manage, of course, but, as I said, I'm not made for this.  There's supposed to be a barking dog, kids passing through, Ron shouting over Netflix, "Could you get me . . . ?"

I wish you could have been there when Ron was given his first test.  Brian, the physical therapis, sat on his haunches in front of Ron, sitting on the edge of the bed, and asked if he could kick.  Brian ducked just in time to miss a kick to the jaw. His partner laughed hysterically.   Brian put the walker in front of Ron and asked if he could pull himself to his feet.   He was up before Brian finished the question.  So, then, the big deal was the stairs.  Even though Ron seemed to be doing well, if he couldn't do stairs, he couldn't go home.  They took him to occupational therapy where they have steps and he aced it!

So, patient care cancelled the hospital bed, the downstairs bathroom will still be done but the urgency is relaxed, and I'm going to pick up Ron this morning.  The house is still very quiet, but Ron will fix that.  And one of my neighbors stopped by last night.  She has two small dogs, and just a few months ago acquired a little white mix that had been her dad's.  She said her dogs don't like the newcomer and are making her life difficult.  Did we want another dog?

Of course, we do!  I just have to get Ron settled in first.  The dog's name is Claire.  Will report on that later.

Have a great day, you beloved Heartwarmers and readers.  By some miracle, my life continues to be a wonder.  I attribute it to the Danish oak between my husband's ears.


Thursday, January 28, 2016

Attention, Wal-Mart Shoppers

There’s a Super Wal-Mart less than five minutes from our house. I probably know the floor plan as well as Wal-Mart’s own facility managers. I can complete a shopping list of thirty items in under twenty minutes and still make it to the middle school early for the carpool pickup, even with self-checkout. I’m an experienced (and long time) Wal-Mart shopper to say the least. (And like many of you with busy schedules, I learned my Wal-Mart skills not by choice, but as survival.) Then several months ago, our Wal-Mart introduced a new online service. I can order my groceries on-line, drive up to the pick-up area and have my groceries loaded into my car. I don’t have to leave the warmth of my heated seats. Don’t have to push a shopping cart with a stuck wheel. Don’t have to tell my children no to the Double-Stuffed Oreos, Triple Fudge Ice Cream and Mega-bags of Sour Patch Kids. Brilliant.

Until I learned Harlequin Heartwarming books were going to be on the Wal-Mart shelves. Now I have a very good reason to make a detour during my Wal-Mart dashes. A reason to leave early for the store and spend more time lingering in the book section. A reason to skip the on-line ordering and turn off my heated car seat. Now I can brag about the Heartwarming books inside Wal-Mart and share each title with potential new readers. Like this January, when I had the opportunity to pick up A Memory Away by Melinda Curtis and The Bad Boy of Butterfly Harbor by Anna J. Stewart off the shelf and tell my daughters these were my dear friends’ books. And then later I helpfully suggested all four January Heartwarming titles, including Into The Storm, by Helen DePrima and Texas Miracle by Mae Nunn and Gwen Ford Faulkenberry to another Wal-Mart shopper browsing the book section. What a joy to be able to pick up Heartwarming titles and share my love for these sweet romances with one reader at a time.

Now you really can find everything you need at Wal-Mart, including wonderful sweet romances by a group of talented authors. And if you find yourself at the Wal-Mart in Huntsville, Alabama, you just might find me in the book section too, spreading some Heartwarming love.

Happy Reading!
Cari

Make Me A Match (Debut Release ~ February 2016)


Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Last Day to Play

Hi Everyone!
The January Heartwarming authors have had an exciting and ground-breaking month. It's almost over, but there is still time to enter your name to win the Amazon giveaway of our January books. Kate James, Pam Tracy, Amie Denman, and I hope you will take advantage of this last contest day. Here are the links to enter: (or you can go to my website,  www.cynthiathomason.net and get them there also)

http://amzn.to/1SziHat

Why has this been such a momentous month for us? Well, our Heartwarming books are now available as both ebooks and print. You can order either on Amazon or from Harlequin's web site. Anytime readers get more choices, that's a good thing. And we're looking forward to our books being in select WalMart stores next month. If you see our titles in your local WalMart, I know each of us would appreciate knowing where the store is located. Feel free to leave a comment today on where you've seen the December Heartwarmings. Curious minds want to know!

I am especially pleased with the 4 1/2 star, RT top pick my title, A BOY TO REMEMBER, received. It's so gratifying when our work is recognized. The other Heartwarming books received great reviews too! Remember Heartwarmings can be read by both grandma and granddaughter. We are proud of this line and hope you continue to support it. Now go play, while you still can!

Cynthia


Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Oh, Baby

by Lee McKenzie

Everyone who knows me knows I love Christmas. It's hands-down my favorite time of year. This Christmas was extra-special because my son and his wife gave me the most precious gift of all.


My new favorite hashtag!

My first grandchild will be welcomed to our family this summer and there are no words to tell you how thrilled we are.

I am, of course, already shopping for books. One of my favorites so far is Little Owl's Night by Divya Srinivasan. I can't wait to check out more children's books by this author.

A charming twist on the traditional bedtime book.
This new addition also gives me an opportunity to peruse my favorite vintage shops for great finds, like this Royal Doulton Bunnykins money bank.

College fund!
I'm also looking forward to a DIY project (or two!) for the nursery, so stay tuned for photos of those in future posts. The first will be a refresh of the cradle my son slept in, and I can't wait to get started.

To celebrate this most wonderful news, I have a giveaway! For a chance to win a Magnolia Bakery shopping bag (yes, from that oh-so-famous NYC cupcakery) and a signed copy of The Parent Trap, leave a comment and tell me abut your best Christmas present ever, or your resolutions for 2016, or just say hello!

I’ll make a raellndom drawing on Friday, January 29th and post the winner’s name here in the comments and in my February newsletter. If you would like to subscribe to my monthly newsletter, please click here.

Until next time, happy 2016 and happy reading!

warmest,
Lee
To Catch a Wife
(The Finnegan Sisters, Book One) May 2016
www.LeeMcKenzie.com




Monday, January 25, 2016

Questions Writers Get Asked

by Patricia Bradley

I do a lot of book signings and talks to different groups and get asked many questions about writing. What do you think is the #1 question I get asked?

If you said, where do you get your ideas, you would win the prize (if there was one). My answer varies from: I don't know to: out of the thin air, and even: the news. 

In my first book, Shadows of the Past, I was sitting on my sofa one morning when a woman popped into my head and said, "Someone is trying to kill me."  This after for or five years of not writing a word of fiction or even thinking about it.

Of course, I had to know who and why. And a story was born. I will say that most of my ideas come to me at odd times, like in the middle of the night when I'm half asleep, or when I'm in the shower, and a lot of the times when I'm driving.

Another question I get asked is, do you know how your story will end, or in the case of the suspense books I write, do you know who the villain is? 

When I first started writing, I did know the answers to those questions. In my first Heartwarming book, Matthew's Choice, I knew going in what his choice would be. My last book, The Christmas Campaign, I didn't know until three-quarters of the way through which of the men in her life the heroine would pick. I have no idea why it changed!

But I do think that's one reason I love writing so much. The characters take over the book and tell me what's happening next. And sometimes they demand their own story. 

So readers, what question would you like to ask an author?

And don't forget to stop by your local Walmart and pick up your copies of this month's Harlequin Heartwarming books, discounted 35% this month!
I did. 

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Sit-down Saturday with Amie Denman


Today we’re celebrating the release of Under the Boardwalk.

So, Amie Denman, where did you get the idea for this novel?
Hello! Thanks for asking me about the first book in Starlight Point Stories. This series is close to my heart because the idea came from a happy chapter of my life. During my college years, I worked at a summer resort and amusement park just like the one in Under the Boardwalk. I also fell in love there with the man I'm still married to 23 years later!

In looking at the cover, if you could add a caption or captions, what would they say?
Amusement park owner Jack Hamilton and sweet baker Augusta Murphy take a walk on the beach and forget they're on opposite sides of a fight.

How long did it take you to write?
Good question...I wrote and re-wrote this book until I finally got it right. After thinking about the idea for years and revising it for years...I think I may have 4 years invested in it. And I don't regret a single moment!

What is your favorite scene?
My favorite scene is when Jack takes Augusta out on his boat The Starlight. She finally discovers what's going on in his heart and mind.

Who was your favorite character and why?
I love both Augusta and Jack. But if I could only be one of them in real life, I'd be Augusta. I love cake, and she makes gorgeous wedding cakes!

If you could pick fictional characters to play the hero and heroine, who would they be?
Julia Roberts would play Augusta and Colin Firth would play Jack. Swoon!

What music would match the mood of this novel?
I hear "Under the Boardwalk" when I think of this book! "From the park you hear happy sounds from the carousel..." I also hear "Verdi Cries" by 10,000 Maniacs. It evokes a summer resort by the sea.

This is your 7th book. Exactly what does that mean to you?
I'm really proud of the books I've written in the past, but this is a whole new beginning for me. The next two Starlight Point Stories books will release in August and November of this year, and I am thrilled! It's so lovely to write for Harlequin, and my editor Dana has pushed me to be the best writer I can be.

What do you plan to work on next?
I'm working on the rest of the Starlight Point Stories series (there may be a 4th!), but I also have another series I'm just beginning. It involves my favorite obsession: firefighters.

What are you reading for pleasure right now?
I just finished Elizabeth Heiter's Seized and I loved it! I also love to read and re-read anything by Kristan Higgins.

Thanks for joining us, Amie!
Thank you! I hope readers will visit me at www.amiedenman.com







Would you like a chance to win Under the Boardwalk or the three other January releases from Harlequin?

Our January Harlequin Heartwarming releases are the first to be available in print format through Amazon and Barnes & Noble, and we have a special giveaway for you.

Each of us—the four authors with January releases—is giving away five books. Yes, this means twenty books to be given away in total. And your odds of winning are one in 500!

It’s simple to enter. All you have to do is click on the book titles below, follow us on Amazon, and you will know right away if you’re a winner. There’s no waiting! If you win, the book will be on its way to you direct from Amazon.

Under the Boardwalk by Amie Denman;
A Boy to Remember by Cynthia Thomason;
The Missing Twin by Pamela Tracy;
When Love Matters Most by Kate James

The giveaway is open until 11:59 PM PST on January 27th.


Since ALL Harlequin series titles are now available in both print and ebook format, Harlequin also has a giveaway right now. Find out more here.





Thursday, January 21, 2016

Just cut it in layers

by Helen DePrima
As a writer, I’m a heartless scavenger. I mine tidbits from every encounter, every memory, every situation. I try never to be mean-spirited in picking through the details of other people’s lives, but everything is fair game. A word, a phrase, or a fleeting expression is more than likely to surface in a future plot.
          A recent local news story told how a young man paralyzed from the chest down in an accident has pushed himself to regain almost total function. Heaven forgive me, I plan to ask him to share details of his recovery for use in my next book. I’ll approach him with the respect and admiration he deserves, but I’ll pick his brain like a vulture.  
          More frequently, a single impression will strike me so vividly that I stop wherever I am to record it – a freshly-plowed field looking as soft as wide-wale corduroy, a fragment of conversation rich in local color overheard on the subway, the sound of a street musician’s violin rising above the snarl and grumble of traffic, the sweet scent of freesias from a sidewalk flower vender.
          I particularly love creating dialogue with the correct regional tone, like the variations between city-Southern and country-Southern, never mind the differences
between Kentucky and Georgia and Texas. In some cases, it’s possible to research an exact word or turn of phrase, but mostly I depend on listening. The dialogue in my books about the sport of bull riding comes from hours spent at events soaking up details of how cowboys from Texas, from Oklahoma, from the deep South and the Pacific Northwest really talk. The pleasure of the quest is at least as satisfying as the finished product.
by Liz Flaherty
We are storytellers here. Harlequin Heartwarmings are contemporary stories where we write about people we know or are or want to be. We try to tell them in layers, so that the story’s residents are people and animals you care about and the events are ones you believe. When you reach the end of one of our books, we hope you sigh with pleasure because you feel like you’ve been there and go on to the next book.

So this morning I was thinking—I do this (or say I am) when the words aren’t coming and I’ve only written like 12 of them in the last hour—about where those layers come from.

From the past. My grandparents had a fire in the big brick house where they lived. My grandmother,
skinny as a rail except for her advanced stage of pregnancy, picked up the treadle sewing machine and carried it downstairs and outside. I don’t know what else they lost, but no one was hurt and Grandma had her sewing machine. This was over 100 years ago, but the story hasn’t changed by so much as a syllable in my lifetime. I don’t know how she did it—I have one of those treadle machines and I can barely move it to clean under it—but she did.

I model my heroines on that one incident. The women I write about will never be extraordinary in looks or intelligence or accomplishment, but if life demands it, they will be able to carry the sewing machine down the steps.

From experience. If not our own, ones that are close to us. An accident happens in my next 
Heartwarming, Every Time We Say Goodbye, the result of which is that entire families’ lives are changed forever. Two accidents much like the one I wrote about have happened locally. One of them was nearly 50 years ago, another 25 years ago. Our community still feels the ripples.

From listening. My nephew Kory and his wife Amy have seven children between them, so when they go as a family, they usually take two cars. In December, they went to a family gathering several hours away. The three teenage girls rode with Kory. He listened, laughed, learned, and was scared, and he knew all the girls better when they got there.

From airports. I don’t know a single writer who doesn’t love airports. We sit with our Starbucks cups and watch people and write their stories in our heads or even on our laptops if we haven’t already run our batteries down. We hear accents and close our eyes to try and remember them. We feel the emotions of people saying Goodbye. Of others saying Hello.

From music. Although I write in silence, I hear music in my stories. I see my people dancing in the kitchen—they all do—and there is joy in Writerville.

Where do you find your layers?

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

The Power of Story by Syndi Powell




One could argue that the Star Wars saga is an international phenomenon. The most recent addition, "The Force Awakens" has made over a billion dollars in ticket sales alone. This doesn't include the money made from all its marketing efforts from toys to clothing to a new ride at Disneyland. But what is it about "Star Wars" that draws fans?

For me, it is the power of its storytelling and the strength of its characters. We are presented with characters that we grow to love and hate, a plot that includes a fight between good and evil, and the promise of a journey to redemption... or destruction. While the special effects may draw some in, it is the characters and their journeys that keep people interested.

I must admit that I'm a bigger fan of the first three films (actually the middle three in terms of the chronology), and much of my observations come from these.

Luke Skywalker is the Everyman thrust into a battle of galactic proportions. He is a simple farm boy sent on a hero's journey to vanquish the evil Emperor. We root for him because he is most like us. He has been shielded from much of the harsh realities of life until something comes to his world that turns it upside down.

Han Solo is an anti-hero. He's like the bad boy next door that we get sucked in by his charm but know that deep down he's only in it for himself. He's out for his own interests until the chips are down and he has to confront the struggle between self-preservation and fighting for a cause.

Princess Leia is a sassy heroine who we admire for her courage in the face of danger. She holds on to her beliefs even when things are at their darkest.

And we can not forget Darth Vader, the ultimate villain. Just the sound of his labored breathing can cause fear to prickle through an audience. He could be presented as a one-dimensional bad guy, but Luke's belief that there is still something good in him brings about an inner struggle between the need for power and for love.

Throw these characters into an epic struggle that spans galaxies, and audiences become enthralled with the story. We cheer for the rebels, even when things look their bleakest. We watch breathless during battle scenes. And we fall in love with the characters who will now have lives beyond their screen time in the hearts and minds of fans worldwide.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Finding True Love, By Linda Hope Lee


      That's what romance stories are all about, aren't they? Finding true love? But the path to true love doesn't always follow the same route. Some say they fell in love at first sight. Some say common interests paved the way.
      Others say true love began with a crush.
      That's how it was for Luci Monroe.
     I first met Luci in Eva's Deadline (Heartwarming #42) when she was a senior in high school and interning at the Willow Beach Beacon. Cody Jarvis, in his mid-twenties, was the newspaper's photographer. Luci had known Cody as her older brother's buddy but hadn't paid much attention to him. Then, suddenly, wham! Where have you been all my life?
     Cody wasn't interested. Luci was his friend's little sis and, besides, he thought there was too much age difference between them. 
    Four years later, in Her Summer Crush, Luci and Cody find themselves working together again. She thought she was over him, but to her dismay, all the old feelings come rushing back. Does she still have a crush on him? Or do her feelings indicate something more?
     Of course, other obstacles stand in the way as well. But I just stepped back and let Luci and Cody figure it out for themselves.
     Her Summer Crush, a March 1 release, is now available for pre-order in both Kindle and paperback editions. amazon.com

     Do you have a path to true love story to share?

Saturday, January 16, 2016

It's a boat! It's a plane! It's Pam's new book!

Howdy everyone,  Pamela Tracy here.











I remember the first book I sold, how I felt when I saw the cover for the first time, and then a few months later when I held it in my hands.

There's nothing like that very first sale.

But, the great thing about writing books is… it's exciting every time you see one come to fruition.

There's a bittersweet feel to The Missing Twin.  It's the final Scorpion Ridge novel.  I've enjoyed writing each and every one of them and now am looking forward to coming up with my next endeaver.


The secret between them 
Angela Taylor knew her sister was in trouble. For anyone but a twin, her instincts would seem crazy, and her actions crazier. Picking up and moving herself and her daughter, Celia, to Scorpion Ridge and asking questions put them all at risk. Even more risky was trusting Jake Farraday, the handsome ex-cop turned forest ranger. Years in witness protection had taught Angela to trust no one. Yet with Abigail missing, Jake was her only hope, and she found herself wanting to share more of her past with him. And more of her future. But did Jake have his own motives for helping Angela?

One of the absolutely best things about being an Heartwarming author is never being alone.  It's a sisterhood.  I've been a published author since 1999 (Yes, I was 12) and I'm amazed by the comaraderie in this group.  I feel like I've got ice skates on and I'm being whipped around the ice by a strand of friends who lead, follow, and laugh.

Speaking of what we do together… The January Heartwarming authors have yet another promotion.  Read on.


In Thursday’s post, Amie Denman mentioned another giveaway we have planned to celebrate our January releases being available as mass-market paperbacks through Amazon. In just a few days, this month's Heartwarming authors will launch our own #AmazonGiveaway where we'll each award five copies of our books. Your chances of winning will be 1:500. Those are much better odds than winning the Powerball! Watch for the announcement of the start of the giveaway!

And just to add a bit of humor.  Here's one of my favorite photos finds thanks to Facebook.  




And, the cat, well Tyre is mine and he says that I should notice that nowhere on the blanket does it offer space to puppies.  




So, Tyre says we can just keep crating the new puppy forever.

Hmmm, I'm thinking a new blanket will be in order.  I wonder where we'll put the German Shepherd/Husky mix that is now terrorizing Tyre's peace and quiet.  

Friday, January 15, 2016

Can Love Be Arranged?



I met my husband the traditional way, we were college sweethearts.
My parent’s marriage was arranged. My grandparents introduced them during a family dinner. It was the 1970’s in India, she was nineteen and shyly considering the man sitting across from her. He was twenty-six and counting his lucky stars that his future wife was so beautiful. They didn't talk, just stole glances while their parents discussed how perfect the families would meld together. They’ve been married for over forty years.
Today, with online dating, I wondered whether arranged marriages still exist. Yes, they do.

Meet my heroine Meera Malhotra from First Comes Marriage (available February 1) She is a practical woman, a physician and scientist for whom love is illogical. A modern woman with a successful career needs a partner who can support her goals. And who better than her best friend and research partner? They’ve known each other for years, they get along well, and have mutual respect for each other. How many married couples can say that?
What about love? They love each other, not the heart pounding, butterflies in your belly love but how long does such frivolity last anyway? Arranged marriages have long been a part of her culture. The divorce rate in India is 1%, compared to 50% in the US.
Meera's wedding is in two months. A big, fat Bollywood style Indian wedding that’ll formalize the close relationship between two families. Her life is all planned out, and she’s happy with it.
So why did she schedule a medical rotation in the town of Hell’s Bells, USA two months before her London wedding? And what happens when this buttoned up Londoner falls for an American cowboy?
I hope you’ll enjoy the fusion of Western romance with Bollywood style drama. I'll be back on February 19th to talk more about arranged marriages in the modern world.

In the meantime, I have a goodreads giveaway you can enter.
      Enter Giveaway
I also have book extras on my website including a playlist for the First Comes Marriage--country music meets Bollywood acoustics. And if you sign up for my VIP list, you'll get more freebies in February. And check out this book trailer for First Comes Marriage.


First Comes Marriage is Available for preorder now. Amazon/kindle, Barnes&Noble/Nook, Apple/iBooks, and Harlequin.
Don't forget to check the amazing January Heartwarming titles. There is an amazing line up from Kate James, Pamela Tracy, Amie Denman, and Cynthia Thomason.
So tell me, how did you meet your mate?



Thursday, January 14, 2016

Win a billion or a book? by Amie Denman

In a generous slice of the United States, Powerball fever has caused daydreaming and general recklessness this week. Record jackpots have driven everyone to the gas station to buy a ticket. Work groups have tossed their money together, gleefully scheming about the crestfallen look on their boss's face when the entire office shows up in Jamaica instead of to work. Well-intentioned ticket holders have fantasized about funding the local food bank or paying off their parents' house.

Image result for money clipartI confess. I was one of those crazy-eyed people clutching a ticket and odds-stacked-against-me hope. 
It's January in Ohio.
Forgive me.
But when it comes right down to it...
I'm better off with a good book than a billion dollars. 
Right?


                    
Here at Harlequin Heartwarming, we can't offer you a chance at a billion bucks. But we can offer you MUCH better odds. Would you like to enter an Amazon giveaway with a chance to win one of the January Heartwarming releases? Here's what you need to know to have fun and possibly win one of our January releases.

Check out #AmazonGiveaway or view this link for more information and you'll see many authors giving away books! There are other great prizes you'll find, too. In just a few days, this month's Heartwarming authors will launch our own #AmazonGiveaway where we'll each award five copies of our books. Your chances of winning are 1:500. Those are much better odds than winning the Powerball!

Check back here this weekend to find out how you can enter an #AmazonGiveaway to win one of these four titles:



Under the Boardwalk by Amie Denman
  
Everyone's counting on him
  
With the sudden death of his father, Jack Hamilton finds himself running the family amusement park, Starlight Point. His first job? Balance the books, and that means raising the rent for vendors like baker Augusta Murphy.
  
Gus won't accept the new contract…not without a fight. She rallies the other vendors and sets out to negotiate with Jack. At least, she tries. How do you play hardball with a man who's charming and kind and still grieving? Gus needs to figure it out fast, because the closer she gets to Jack, the more she risks losing everything.

GoodreadsAmazonB&NHarlequin

Find out more and connect with Amie on her website.

When Love Matters Most by Kate James

Keeping her safe at all costs

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. Rick has 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 everything Rick and Madison value, and the growing love between them, is threatened by the dangers of Rick's job, and the risks he's determined to take…

GoodreadsAmazonB&NHarlequin

Find out more and connect with Kate on her website.

A Boy to Remember by Cynthia Thomason
  
You can't live a lie forever

One magical summer—that was all it took for Alexis Foster to fall deeply in love with Daniel Chandler. And then she gave him up to keep Daniel from sacrificing his own dreams. But the passionate bond they shared is rekindled when Alex returns to her family's farm…with a powerful secret.

Ohio's youngest state senator, Daniel's star is on the rise. He's also discovering a kindred spirit in Alex's seventeen-year-old daughter. Alex has to tell him the truth even at the risk of his political future…even if it costs her the two people she loves most.

GoodreadsAmazonB&NHarlequin

Find out more and connect with Cynthia on her website.

The Missing Twin by Pamela Tracy

The secret between them

Angela Taylor knew her sister was in trouble. For anyone but a twin, her instincts would seem crazy, and her actions crazier. Picking up and moving her and her daughter, Celia, to Scorpion Ridge, asking questions, put them all at risk. Even more risky was trusting Jake Farraday, the handsome ex-cop turned forest ranger. Years in witness protection had taught Angela to trust no one. Yet with Abigail missing, Jake was her only hope, and she found herself wanting to share more of her past with him. And more of her future. But did Jake have his own motives for helping Angela?

GoodreadsAmazonB&NHarlequin

Find out more and connect with Pamela on her website.

You can also purchase all four books together at Harlequin, Amazon, and B&N, and all four books are also available in both print and e-book formats from Amazon, and Barnes and Noble!

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Birthdays by Amy Vastine

January is one of my favorite months. It always has been, and much of that probably has to do with the fact that my birthday is in January - the 18th to be exact! Both my parents also were born in January, one of my sister-in-laws just celebrate her 43rd on Monday (happy birthday, Wendy!!), my best bud Carol Ross is a Jan. 1 birthday girl along with our very own Muriel Jensen! I have a couple other friends with birthdays in January and am happy to share this fabulous month with so many amazing people.

One of the coolest things about becoming an author is that I now get to celebrate book birthdays, too. Which reminds me that I should give a shout out to the January Heartwarming authors - Cynthia, Amie, Kate, and Pam! Happy belated book birthday, ladies :)

To be totally honest, I simply love birthdays. I don't know about you, but I can't think of anything better than gathering with people you love, eating cake, and opening presents. I probably love throwing birthday parties just as much as I love being thrown one.

I am in the midst of planning my mother-in-law's 80th birthday party. I think she deserves a huge bash to celebrate the fact that she's hit this milestone. She was married for over 40 years, brought 8 children into this world, and has 20 grandchildren and 4 great-grandchildren. Her life has been full of ups and downs, but I hope that a party will remind her of all the good she has done in this life of hers.

Birthdays bring back some fantastic memories. I'll never forget the one when I was 12 and my parents set up a huge scavenger hunt at the local mall for me and my friends. They enlisted the help of several people who worked in various stores to provide us with clues to get from place to place, ending in the food court where there was cake (of course!)

One of the best parties I've thrown was my son's third birthday, which included a visit from Spider-Man himself. Okay, so it might have been my brother dressed up as the web-slinger, but it was one of my son's favorite birthdays ever. We still talk about how his three-year-old self believed that Spider-Man had flown over the fence by shooting his web at the neighboring houses when he left. He knows that's not what happened but still sees it that way in his memories!


My niece, on the other hand,
was in love with Spider-Man!
Here's Jake giving Spidey a high five, but check
out the neighbor girl in the back, scared to death!
We had a couple kids a bit freaked out by our masked guest!
Another favorite was my 40th birthday, which doubled as my very first book birthday as well! THE WEATHER GIRL came out on January 1, 2014, the same year I turned the big 4-0. There was more cake, this time with a delicious version of my book right on top! My husband sure did an incredible job with everything.


This year, we're going low-key for my birthday. I am excited that I have the day off work (Happy birthday, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.!) and plan to relax with my family. Maybe I'll take in a movie with my girlfriends and let them treat me to dinner. My dad has already promised to buy me a cake (he knows me so well). I'm definitely going to enjoy the fact that I have another year under my belt and another one waiting for me to do something amazing. 

Do you have a favorite birthday? What was the best party you've ever thrown or been thrown? I can't wait to hear because nothing makes me happier than a good birthday!! 

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

A Writer's Beginnings by Marion Ekholm


Unlike Robert Fulghum, who learned everything he needed to know in kindergarten, my learning experience came in third grade. All the odd number classes, including kindergarten, were in an ancient wooden building. It was old even when my mother attended. My teacher, Miss. C., was so short that most of her students towered over her, including me. This diminutive woman could shout out orders like a drill sergeant. I was a daydreamer, and for the most part, tuned her out.
Daydreamer Extraordinaire

One day Miss C. had to go to the principal’s office in the newer brick building that held all the even numbered classes. She gave me the responsibility of taking down the names of disruptive students, the first time I was given the privilege (and the last). I began writing names. I still remember my surprise when she marched over to my desk and forced me out of that dream world I had slipped into. The room had turned into bedlam, with most of the students out of their seats and the noise level chaotic. She demanded to see how many names I had written on the paper. I had two.

Third and fifth grades were on the second floor. The wooden stairs had wear patterns grooved into them from all the students who used them daily. The basement held large rooms on either side used during inclement weather, one for boys and one for girls. Lavatories were also located in the bowels of the earth with separate staircases.

I was used to Miss. C.’s routine. She always called the girls first, and we gathered in line to use the lavatory, go for lunch or recess. When she announced we should line up, without giving it any thought, I stood and got into line. Only this time she called the boys first.

“So you want to be a boy today, Marion?” All the laughter brought me out of my daze, and I tried going back to my seat after catching a few smirks from the boys. But oh, no, Miss C. would have none of that. I had to march out with the boys, and all the time I wondered where we were headed? Which staircase would we go down? Had we been to the lavatories? Were we going to lunch? To my total relief, we headed to the playground for recess.

Miss C. is one of the few teachers I can remember from grammar school, and I hated her for all my humiliations. But I must also thank her because she grounded me so that I saved my day dreaming for those times when I was out of school. Without her, I might not have learned anything while attending classes.

I hope everyone has had a Miss C. in their life.  Did you?

Monday, January 11, 2016

What You Can and Cannot Find in an Antique Shop

Pamela Tracy here.

Last Wednesday I took day off and went shopping with some girlfriends.  It's probably, due to me over-extending myself, the first time I've antiqued in over a  year.  Boy have I missed it.

First, for your viewing pleasure...

WHAT YOU CAN FIND IN AN ANTIQUE SHOP - THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE UGLY


I call this the ugly.  This is just not what I'd give a daughter for her tenth birthday.
I do believe Ronnie would feel the same way.
Nancy looks great for her age, don't cha think?

This is the bad.  I'm a huge Star Trek fan.
Barbie could not make it in such a limited space.
Ken would get lost.

This almost tempted me,
but with Christmas just behind me and taxes before me...
a typewriter I don't need could not be purchased.
But, oh, I wanted it.

We went sledding a few weeks ago in Williams, Arizona.
Broke every plastic sled.
I'm thinking that not all toys have improved.
I didn't buy this either.
It cost more than the typewrite I really wanted.
_________________________________________________

This is Judy from Just Judy's Jumbles.
Avid Reader, Awesome Reviewer

She's at a Walmart in Peoria, Arizona, and LOOK
Harlequin Heartwarmings are also there!



There's still time to visit our blog tour celebrating Heartwarmings hitting the stores.
Here's the remaining schedule


January 11th: Love, Laughter, Friendship - Melinda Curtis
January 12th: Heidi Reads... - Pamela Tracy
January 13th: Christian Chick's Thoughts - Rula Sinara
January 14th: Bookworm Lisa - Tara Taylor Quinn
January 15th: Grand Finale

Tour Giveaway

15 - $10 Walmart Gift Cards
- Rules: To enter, take a selfie at a local Walmart with a Heartwarming book and post publicly on social media (can be your hands, your face, etc. with a Heartwarming book). Can enter once each day with a different picture each time. Those who post the same picture multiple times will be disqualified. Those who only post privately (so that it can't be viewed publicly) will also be disqualified.
- US Only
- Ends January 20th

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Sit-down Saturday with Kate James



Anyone who has been visiting this blog or connecting with any of the Heartwarming authors through social media will know by now that this is a very exciting time for us. Starting with our January releases, Heartwarming books are now available as mass-market paperbacks through Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Harlequin.com. These are our January covers:

Our January releases are now available in mass-market paperback!

If you haven't picked up your print copy yet, more are due to arrive at Amazon on January 13th. Watch for an exciting first-of-its-kind giveaway from Amie, Cynthia, Pamela and I the middle of the month to celebrate the restocking of the print books. Check Amie's post on January 14th for more information!

Also, all four January releases will be available in select Walmart stores in the United States in February! Please check the Harlequin website for the location of the participating store nearest you. Now you can pick up our December releases at Walmart at 35% off. Look for these terrific books in the store near you:

You can pick up our December releases in select Walmart stores now!

Since the January online releases will arrive at Walmart stores in February, Amie, Cynthia, Pamela and I have some more fun giveaways planned for you. Please watch for the announcements on social media.

We owe a world of gratitude to all our readers for making these advancements possible!

Now, a little bit about my January release . . .

When Love Matters Most is the second book in my K-9 trilogy, is now available for sale!

For context, When the Right One Comes Along is the first book in the trilogy. It was released on October 1, 2015. 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. You can learn more about When the Right One Comes Along here.

When Love Matters Most 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 at all costs

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. Rick has 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 everything Rick and Madison value, and the growing love between them, is threatened by the dangers of Rick's job, and the risks he's determined to take…

GoodreadsAmazonB&NHarlequin

I had pictures of Rick, Madison and Sniff handy, so I thought I would share some with you. It occurred to me that Rick and Madison both look a little shy. Don't let these pictures fool you.


If you haven't read When Love Matters Most yet, you might wonder about the Alaskan Malamute in the picture on the bottom right. He's Madison's therapy dog, Owen. You don't see Owen in the picture on the cover of the book, as he got ahead of Rick, Madison and Sniff on their hike through Torrey Pines State Reserve north of San Diego. That was the first time Sniff and Owen had met, and they got along beautifully!

I'm going to refrain from telling you more about Rick, Madison and Sniff, because they're currently on a blog tour with Prism Book Tours. 

You can find all the information about the tour here. In summary, here is the tour schedule:

Tour Schedule

Of course, there's also a giveaway involved.

BOOK CLUBS

Are you a member of a book club? If so, we have a series of questions for you. You can find them here.

If your book club or reading group selects When Love Matters Most, I would be delighted to schedule a phone call or a Skype call with your group to discuss the book. Please contact me here to arrange it.

Happy reading!