Friday, April 29, 2016

Pieces of the heart

by Liz Flaherty

When my mother-in-law passed away recently, her family began the bittersweet task of going through
the things she’d collected in her lifetime. It’s an exhausting job for those who are doing it, and I have no doubt my sisters-in-law have both laughed and cried as they’ve sifted and decided. Save this, toss this, give this picture to whichever grandkid was in Grandma’s lap. It reminds me to be ever more vigilant in my own downsizing efforts.
          Except for two places.
          I have a side-by-side refrigerator in the kitchen and a smaller freezer-on-top one in the office (the beer-and-soda-fridge.) It is on the front and side surfaces of these appliances, thanks to the miracle of magnets, that the seasons of my life are displayed. It shows the growth of grandchildren, the purchase of a car, snapshots with friends, symbols of my faith, appointment reminders, even the evolution of my writing career.
          There are certainly other things I love having. Since I sew, I have a stash of fabric that qualifies me for 12-step meetings. I have a shelf-of-pride of my published books and more shelves—even though I’m on my second Kindle—of books of my reader’s heart. I have too many clothes I will wear again someday. (Yeah, right.) I have letter jackets, prom dresses, a beer can collection, and the occasional box of trophies my kids have neglected to take home and put in their own attics.        
  I read where someone—my apologies because I don’t remember who it was and can’t give her credit—sets out a tote and puts one thing in it every day to be gotten rid of. When the tote is full, she takes its contents to Goodwill or Salvation Army. It is my intention to do the same thing, but the items on the refrigerator stay. They are, like the books we are so proud and happy to write, pieces of the heart.
          My second Heartwarming, Every Time We Say Goodbye, is out this
month—and in selected Walmarts in May. There’s nothing more exciting than a new book. I hope you like it—and I hope you always have magnets on your fridge.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Welcome to My Crazy Life and Giveaways (Tara Taylor Quinn)

 I'm skating in here (I wish, in real life my foot's in a boot because I was in too much of a hurry to get some ceiling trim paint done in my bathroom after writing twenty pages and balanced a step stool in the bathtub and then slipped off from it.) cyberly speaking, as I begin the next segment of the Six Months of Heartstopping ttq tour.
Click Here For Tour Details!

This next tour, starting Sunday, is for the 9th book in my bestselling and critically acclaimed Superromance series, Where Secrets Are Safe. But also on the tour, later this summer is the launch of my new Heartwarming series, Family Secrets. I cannot wait to bring that to you all. The first three books in the series are written. They're all powerful stories in their own way, and all have a piece of my heart. And the second book, Her Soldier's Baby, is maybe one of the best books I've written. My editor and I were both taken through the wringer on that one!

In the meantime, I've got some giveaway chances for you here today, including a chance to win up to 10 free books - any books - of your choice from Harlequin.com, through the Harlequin My Rewards program. These aren't for my books - unless you choose them - they are for ANY book Harlequin and it's subsidiaries offer through My Rewards, including Heartwarming and the NYT bestsellers. Scroll down past the Kindle Fire giveaway to enter. It costs nothing. If you aren't already a My Rewards member, it costs nothing to join, and every single month they offer games and other chances for gaining points toward free books without spending a dime. For my giveaway, you do nothing but enter. My Rewards is giving away enough points to 'buy' up to ten free books!

TTQ PRE-ORDER/PURCHASE KINDLE FIRE GIVEAWAY



Kindle Fire with Six Pre-loaded TTQ Books (books 1-6 from Where Secrets are Safe series)
US only
Ends August 31st

To Enter: Submit your receipt online for your pre-order or purchase of any of Tara Taylor Quinn’s five releases being promoted on her Heart Stopping Tour (Love By AssociationHis First ChoiceThe Promise He Made HerStrangers in Paradise: Sheltered In His Arms, and For Love Or Money). Enter as many times as you purchase. One book purchase equals one entry (one receipt per entry and must be uploaded at time of entry).

TTQ HARLEQUIN MY REWARDS POINTS GIVEAWAY

1st Place: 25,000 Harlequin My Rewards Points – equivalent of 5 free books, reader’s choice of any book published by Harlequin/MIRA/Carina Press.
2nd Place: 15,000 Harlequin My Rewards Points – equivalent of 3 free books, reader’s choice
3rd Place: 10,000 Harlequin My Rewards Points – equivalent of 2 free books, readers choice
Open internationally
Ends August 31st

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Making Stuff Up

by Lee McKenzie

It’s what writers do, of course. We create heroes and heroines and give them strengths and flaws and backstories. We generate secondary characters who fill their lives with love and laughter and conflict. We also create the settings these people live in, and one of my favorite parts of writing is imagining a whole new community for them.

My third Harlequin Heartwarming will be released next week, and it’s the third one to be set in a fictional small town. Sometimes I’ve made them up, and sometimes they’re based on a similar small town that really does exist.

Maggie’s Way, my first book for the line, is set in Collingwood Station, Connecticut. Now I have to be honest with you. I have never been to Connecticut, but in my mind I pictured a quaint little town similar to Stars Hollow in the TV series, The Gilmore Girls.

My second Heartwarming, The Parent Trap, is set on the Sunshine Coast on Canada’s beautiful west coast in a town called Serenity Bay. This community isn’t based on anything, either real or fictional. Instead it’s a compilation of things I love about numerous small towns all shamelessly borrowed and rolled into one.

To Catch a Wife, the first book in The Finnegan Sisters trilogy, will be out next week on May 1st. This story unfolds in the town of Riverton, Wisconsin, which is loosely modelled on the City of Wabasha, Minnesota. As much as I loved Wabasha, I didn’t want to use it as the setting for this series there because I really don’t know much about the town or the people who live there. It would be far too easy to get things wrong. So I did what writers get to do. I made stuff up.

First of all, I took the town and moved it to Wisconsin on the other side of the Mississippi River. I gave it a new name—Riverton—and freely set about filling it with the things I love most about all small towns. Here are just a few of the things I love about Wabasha, MN, and Riverton, WI.

Several years ago I had the good fortune to spend a day in Wabasha, browsing the shops along Main Street and visiting the National Eagle Center.

I love these classic two-storey brick buildings that line so many Main Streets in so many small towns.

Harriet graciously posed for a photograph with me at the National Eagle Center.

The gazebo on the cover of To Catch a Wife was inspired by this one.

This photo captures the heroine’s best friend’s barber shop and the cafe where they like to hang out and have lunch.

In the story, the heroine’s apartment situated on the second floor above the newspaper office was inspired by this one over a bookstore.

This house is new but the style and especially the wrap-around veranda were exactly what I was going for when I created the farmhouse at Finnegan Farm, home to four generations of the heroine's family.
But my fictional town of Riverton, WI, is more than a collection of buildings. Along with the shops and businesses that have been fixtures for decades, I populated it with a cast of characters, some of whom are a little quirky. Most of all, though, I hope I have given this new town a heart.

To celebrate the impending release of To Catch a Wife, I'm offering two giveaways this month. One winner will receive a signed copy of Maggie's Way and another will received a signed copy of The Parent Trap. Both books will be accompanied other yet-to-be-determined goodies. Let's call it a surprise pack! On Friday, April 29 I will make a random drawing from the readers who post a comment on this post. The winners' names will be announced here and in the next issue of my newsletter, Life in the Slow Lane.

Happy reading, Heartwarmers!

Until next time,

Lee
www.LeeMcKenzie.com
To Catch a Wife, Book One of The Finnegan Sisters trilogy
On sale May 1

Monday, April 25, 2016

North vs South

By Patricia Bradley

I wasn't going to do another weather related post. Really, I wasn't. But, I just couldn't help it. :-)

This time last year, I was in Minnesota...well, actually, it was two weeks later than now which makes my point even better. This is what it looked like on the North Shore as I looked out my window.

This is what it looks like in North Mississippi at the same time of year.


I've even had to mow my lawn three times already. If I could, though, I would travel to the North Shore in about a month and experience Spring all over again! It is beautiful up there, no matter what time of year.

Oh, one thing, if someone could please help me I would greatly appreciate it. Can you identify the crop in the photo below? When I drive from North Mississippi to Chattanooga, I see these yellow fields everywhere. And I can't very well stop and ask.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Sit Down Saturday with Leigh Riker




So, Leigh, where did you get the idea for Lost and Found Family?

That’s a good question. Where do ideas come from? In this book the two main characters “spoke” to me first. And with each novel, I try to give myself a challenge: How do Emma and Christian Mallory survive such a tragedy and learn to love each other again? To heal their marriage? In that way it’s a reunion story—my favorite kind.

How long did it take you to write?

About four months. The story had several false starts until it finally jelled around a carousel and a smaller, carved version of an actual horse in the book. Then my editor (brilliantly) suggested we link that horse to the hero rather than to another character so he now owns The General. That really tightened things up.

What’s your favorite scene?

The one in which Emma, who’s a professional household organizer, meets with a client. The woman (actually Christian’s ex-wife) has twin girls the same age as the son Emma lost. Through them she is finally able to glimpse a way through her own grief to find a new “normal” for Emma.

Who was your favorite character, and why?

Christian, I think.  After his divorce Emma was his second chance and they had the son he’d yearned for. Christian is such a good guy who only wants his family to be whole once more—yet he has a hard time forgiving Emma. And I do love writing heroes!

This is your seventeenth novel (plus a few novellas). What does that mean to you?

That I’m still in the business of writing (grin), pursuing that other love of my life (can’t overlook my husband here) and enjoying every minute of it—well, except for line edits, which I just finished for another book. I have so many projects in my head…

Speaking of that, what do you plan to work on next?

I’ve completed The Reluctant Rancher mentioned above (more horses and some cowboys this time!), which will come out from Heartwarming next fall. That book is the start of my new mini-series, Kansas Cowboys! So I’m now writing the second book. Its working title: Cowboy of Her Dreams.
What are you reading for pleasure right now?

I just read C.J. Box’s first book in his Joe Pickett series, Open Season, about a Wyoming game warden. And, although it’s not romance, I’m hooked! So now I’m in the middle of Savage Run, the second book in that series. I ordered both in one week. Amazon loves me! At the same time, I’m reading this month’s other Heartwarming titles; and just look at those gorgeous covers!

Here’s a brief, edited excerpt from my own Lost and Found Family. [After a quarrel, in this scene Emma has paid a visit to her husband’s office]:

“I’m sorry about the other night,” she said.

“Me too.” In the next instant Christian slipped his arms around her and drew her close against him. “Let’s both cancel anything else for today…We can take a drive, talk, eat somewhere—you love that restaurant near the Georgia border—”

“I don’t know if they serve lunch.”

“Somewhere else, then…” He waited a moment before going on. “There won’t be many more days like today before winter sets in. We could…” His next words were low. “Maybe even get a room at the inn.”

“How romantic,” she said, her pulse picking up.

His teasing suggestion made her remember a night, more than six years ago, when he’d taken her to dinner there then dropped down on one knee on the stone patio and asked her to marry him.

How could he still love her?

“It’s been way too long, Emma.” With the words Christian cradled her face in both hands, then slowly brought his mouth to hers. That one light kiss reminded her of all they’d had once; all they’d lost.

For a long moment she let him kiss her anyway, gave in to the feel of his lips on hers, his strong arms around her just like the night they’d become engaged. At the end she went boneless in his embrace and kissed him back. The temptation to sink into him, as she had so often in their years together, to share his love again, was almost enough. Then, as if by instinct, the old need to protect her emotions made Emma straighten.

Slowly, she drew her mouth from his. Inch by inch she backed away until the coldness had settled between them once more like a chill wind blowing down the mountain, making her shiver without his arms around her.


There could be no going back, no forgiveness. Because of her.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Tips For Developing Better Habits by Roz Denny Fox


Since my last blog was advice on keeping our brains healthy and we all found some areas that we needed to improve, I thought this time I’d see if there are ways we can help ourselves form better exercise, food, or sleep habits. Many people make resolutions in January and by March they go by the wayside.

So I found 9 tips for developing better habits.                                             

1.    Get Motivated

Ask why you want to adopt a certain habit. Will your life improve if you develop it? And what will happen if you say “forget it”? Sorting through these questions will help streamline your goal and maintain motivation when you flag. If you work better visually, write down the answers and post them where you read them daily.

2.    Start Small

Lasting habits take time to develop. Don’t get discouraged. Start by setting small goals. Focus on manageable changes at the beginning of any transformation. If you do that your habits will more likely become automatic.

3.    Set Reminders

When you want to adopt a new habit it’s easy to fall off track. Consistency is the key to success. That’s why posting your goals where you readily see them is important.

4.    Replace a bad habit

It’s easier to exchange a bad habit with a good habit than it is to just kick a bad habit out of your life. For instance, if you want to quit eating sugary snacks, make good snacks more available. If granola or carrot sticks are at hand, you won’t get up from your computer and go find candy or cookies.

5.    Get Others on Board

If you need to dump a bad habit and set a better one, the more people you tell what you are trying to achieve, the more accountable you’ll be. A side benefit may be that friends or co-workers will decide to join you in setting a new, better goal for themselves.

6.    Have realistic expectations

We all know that change doesn’t happen overnight, but whenever we set new goals it’s easy to want instant gratification, or instant change. The truth is achieving results only comes when you create consistency.

7.    Mark your calendar and do the good or new habit for 30 days.

Studies show it takes 30 days to form a habit, so if you stay committed to the good habit that long it’s more likely to become automatic. If you find yourself backsliding, set another 30 days.

8.    Only take on one new habit or habit change at a time.

Although you may take stock of your life and think you need a whole-life overhaul, attempting to make too many changes at once may quickly sabotage all of your efforts. Center your mind and effort on one good habit at a time. Only after it feels routine, then go to a new change.

9.    Reward yourself for a job well-done

Small rewards help keep you motivated, especially on days when it’s hard to stay on track. It helps if you make a list of rewards ahead of time so you have something to look forward to. But be sure the reward isn’t something that dips back into the habit you’re trying to change. i.e. if you are trying to quit eating sugary snacks, your reward can’t be a candy treat. Make it a rose you buy and put in a budvase where you can enjoy it. Or meet a friend for a healthy break.

There are always roadblocks, but instead of giving up remind yourself why you wanted to make the change, Maybe keeping inspirational quotes at hand will reignite your fire. Say you’ve missed days due to illness or travel, don’t let that derail you. Take up the good habit again as soon as you’re able. And lastly, silence negative thoughts. An inner critic, and I know we all have one, can be the biggest detractor. Accentuate the positive. Read inspiring books, listen to upbeat music, and most of all seek out encouraging people--friends like we’ve made in this Heartwarming group with our helpful blogs. You all have inspired me to be a better me. I hope my blogs help you.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Living the dream

by Helen DePrima


I’ve heard people make a big deal of decade birthdays, especially the thirtieth, the fortieth, the fiftieth. After fifty, it doesn’t seem to matter as much. With luck, you’re pretty well set on your course, happy with your life or at least content with your lot.

Mostly I can’t even recall what I did to mark most birthdays, but I did experience an epiphany of sorts at fifty. Still plenty of time to realize dreams, but time suddenly became finite, no longer limitless.

Growing up five hundred miles from salt water, I had somehow become fascinated with sailing. As a kid I read voraciously about historic voyages, about every manner of vessel under sail, from single-handed dinghies to majestic windjammers racing around Cape Horn. As an adult, my love of the sea only grew stronger living just an hour from the New Hampshire coast. I dreamed of tilting decks and the taste of spray from waves coming over the bow; the exquisite curve of white sails against a blue sky brought tears to me eyes.

Helen at the helm of the Brilliant.
So at fifty I learned to sail, both in my own little Nova Scotia-built lapstrake dinghy and crewing on other people’s larger boats. There were times when I was miserably seasick, when I was cold and wet, when I was afraid in a sudden gale off the Maine coast and crossing Long Island Sound in fog so thick that phantom images of trees and cliffs loomed where I knew none existed.

And still sailing was as wonderful as I’d always imagined. Steering the schooner Brilliant under sail beneath the I-95 bridge over the Connecticut River was the high point of my love affair with the sea, and the best sound in the world is the quiet of running with no power but fair wind singing in the rigging. 


I no longer sail; a mild vertigo makes me an unsafe sailor, but for ten years I lived my dream.

by Liz Flaherty

I love Helen's dream, don't you? Mine is more prosaic than hers. At my most exciting, I'm just...well, not. 

But I remember the first writers' conference I ever went to. It was in Indianapolis in the 1980s. I took my manuscript (the only one I'd ever completed) with me and went down and spent the night by myself in the conference motel. The next day I wore white pants and my favorite mint green jacket and sat at a round table with five other women. We listened to speakers all day long, had mystery meat for lunch, and left the hotel on sensory overload.

I thought the women at the table with me would be BFFs forever, but I never saw them again. I thought I'd never forget any of the speakers' names, but I did. I thought that first manuscript would be my ticket into Harlequin-stardom. Ahem. It wasn't. But I knew, listening to those women who worked in their pajamas and bare feet and got paid to write, what my dream was.

In the 90s, my friend Jenni Licata sent out letters to all RWA members in the area and created a new chapter, Northeast Indiana Romance Authors. I finished another manuscript. And another. And then I stopped counting.

It happened bit by bit. I sold my first book in 1998 and there have been 11 since then. I still don't work in pajamas, but I am barefoot and have the office-workroom I always wanted. Some of my best friends in the world are other writers. I get paid. And now I live the dream.

And all this time after that first conference, when I talk to high-school English students and hand them coilbound notebooks and cheap pens and tell them those and a strong dose of grammar, spelling, story, and heart is what they need to get started, that's when I know I always have.


 


Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Heartwarming and Bollywood

by Patricia Rosemoor, half of Lynn Patrick

I know you’re going to think this is a stretch, but Heartwarming books and Bollywood movies have a lot in common. It hit me a couple of weeks ago when I was watching Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham...

...starring my favorite Bollywood hero, Shah Rukh Khan, the wealthiest actor in the industry (wealthier than Tom Cruise). Bollywood makes more movies than the US and China combined.

Shah Rukh (formerly known as Shahrukh, in the industry known as SRK or King Kahn and owns Red Chile Entertainment) makes a particular kind of movie, so I always look for them – a combination of romantic comedy and sometimes serious drama, always with a huge emotional kick. Not that I’ve seen everything that he’s made.



The love story is always fraught with conflict. The hero choosing an ordinary woman whom his father doesn’t approve of and his being disinherited. Mistaken identities or hidden identities. A division of culture and class – while the caste system has supposedly been eradicated legally, it is sometimes an impediment in a Bollywood romance. The romance is even more wholesome than a Heartwarming inthat the couple never kisses.

But the really interesting thing is how a Bollywood movie reflects Indian beliefs that seem pretty Heartwarming to me. Families of multiple generations may live together.

Elders are respected. Self-sacrifice and making others happy above one’s self is paramount. This is the true heart of the Bollywood movie.

Oh, that and the wonderful musical numbers with colorful costumes and dozens of dancers.


So if you have three and a half hours – yes, Bollywood movies can be that long – sit back and enjoy a story that is simultaneously different and yet very familiar at heart.

(Note all photos are from Dharma Production on the Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham Facebook page.)

***


Home for Keeps 

Lynn Patrick's newest novel set in Sparrow Lake is set for a May 1 release

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

An Unexpected Gift...by T.R. McClure

HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

My brother tells me when I was little I went around telling everybody my birthday was March 26. He implies my enthusiasm might have been a bit annoying. But I like having a March birthday! In like a lamb, out like a lion kind of mentality. Even if it snows, you know it won't last long. Every year I know exactly where to find the first crocus.
Along the garage.

And the budding daffodils? Under the maple trees. Did you know Southerners call them buttercups? I didn't, until I read Patricia Bradley's March 28 Harlequin Heartwarming post. Jonquils, daffodils, buttercups. A welcome sight whatever the name.



Last year I called a Nashville florist (I'm in Pennsylvania), intending to order a bouquet of daffodils for my daughter Launa's February birthday. Like Holly in Wanted: The Perfect Mom, she and her husband had just left the military.
                                             Wanted: The Perfect Mom at Harlequin

They settled in Tennessee. "Do you mean buttercups?" I detected a note of confusion in the florist's southern drawl.

"No, daffodils. You know, the yellow flowers that bloom in the spring?" I'm still not sure what my daughter got.

Anyway, I digress. My birthday was a week past, the day before Easter this year. 

Coming back from the kennel after feeding my husband's beagles, I returned to the house through an arch that was one of the first things added to the yard when we built our home years ago. The white pines on either side are wide and tall and protect the house from winds. My mind is full of preparations for my upcoming book release (June 1!) and scenarios for the next book when I happened to glance down.

A SURPRISE

At my feet, tiny white flowers poke through the layer of pine needles, their petals nodding and swaying in the slight breeze.

Where did they come from? The sweet scent of a purple hyacinth drifts on the morning air. I know that hyacinth. When my daughters were small, my husband and the girls would visit the local green house a day or two before Easter, surprising me Sunday morning with potted tulips, hyacinths, or lilies on the kitchen table. (When my recently-married daughter Kristen told me she informed her husband he is to continue the tradition, I smiled. Funny what kids remember from their childhoods.)

Four months later I would plant the bulbs somewhere in the yard. But the delicate white flowers scattered among the brown pine needles? I don't remember planting them. I don't know where they came from.

I kneel on the walkway, savoring the moment, savoring the unexpected gift.

What Can I say, It's Spring in the Northeast

The onion snow comes after onion sets are planted in the garden. Naturally two days later I wake to snow on the ground. March's lambs on opposite ends of the month were chased by lions this year. I run up to the archway still in robe and slippers. The wind whips my robe. The happy little petal faces have disappeared. A few green stems poke through the light covering of snow. The cold was too much for their delicate sensibilities.


The next morning the snow is gone and by ten o'clock the temperature is 51. I stare out the kitchen window. Did they come back? I run through the yard. And yes, I am again in my robe and slippers. It is, after all, a rainy Monday and I have nowhere to go but the fictional town of Bear Meadows.

They are back. Except now they are blue. I kneel down, cradling a bloom in my palm. White, with blue veins.

Snowdrops? The description says they are always white. Squill? I've never heard of scilla siberica until I looked up spring flowers on the internet. Maybe one of our readers can say.

Doesn't matter. As Juliet said to Romeo, "A rose by any other name smells as sweet." I accept this unexpected birthday gift, this reminder that even in the face of adversity there is beauty and strength. Sometimes we don't realize how strong we are until we're tested. True for these little flowers, true for human beings.
So give yourself a little gift of time today. Find a good book, a quiet place, and...

ENJOY THE READ,
T.R. www.trmcclure.com

Monday, April 18, 2016

Would You Like to Come for a Walk with Me? . . . by Kate James

In Ontario we had a relatively mild and snow-free winter . . . until April! We're barely past the middle of the month and it turned out to be the snowiest month of the winter, and it's the first time that has happened since records have been kept.

But all that's behind us! This weekend is glorious with bright sunshine and truly spring-like temperatures. With no more snow in the forecast, it's time for me to start the spring cleanup of our gardens. With the weather so beautiful today, I thought I'd take a walk to inspect our grounds and gardens and see how much work I have ahead of me. I'd be thrilled if you'd come along with me.

Our view is mostly brown still, but the trees are starting to bud and should be bursting into green soon.

With the relatively mild winter, the lawn fared well and is greening up nicely. Some sections are starting to look as if they could use a mow!

If you live in Ontario or you've seen some of my posts on Facebook, you'll know that we had a terrible ice storm a few weeks ago that caused a lot of damage and left people without power for days. We were lucky to have our power back the same day and we didn't loose any trees. There was notable damage to some of our trees, though, with the birch seeming to sustain most of the damage. Some of the trees had their tops snap right off. Others broke but did not fall to the ground.


We have some mature, beautiful evergreens, including some rare species. Fortunately, they survived the winter unharmed.


We have a massive Mulberry tree (I couldn't even guess how old it is). Although it's the last tree to bud and still looks dormant, it looks to be in good shape, too.


I'm always sad when I find a bird's nest on the ground.


I hope the birds moved out of this one before it fell to the ground. The gardens definitely need some attention, but not as much as usual. There's leaves to be cleaned out in some areas.
Although most of the mulch is in good shape, there are some areas where my weed cloth is visible and I'll have to add some more before all the perennials start to sprout. You can see some of it in the picture on the right.


I have four cubic yard of mulch being delivered on Wednesday. That should keep me busy for a while! Anyone who'd like to come help, please raise your hands! Overall, the spring-blooming plants seem to be on schedule. My daffodils should be blooming soon and the snow drops are mostly spent now.


You'll notice in the bottom left picture that the bunnies have already started to help themselves to the tulips.

Stay with me a little longer. We're almost done! There's not much clean up to do in this area.
If you've read some of my posts about our dogs, Harley and Logan, you might recall that Harley has an obsession with butterflies. He'll chase them without thought of where he's going. Since our property drops off steeply in some sections at the back, I had to erect a temporary fence to keep him for running off and/or injuring himself. It's a little unsightly but well worth it to keep our pups safe. Doing a visual inspection it seems that while it has been effective at keeping Harley in, it hasn't been quite that effective at keeping critters out (picture on the left: the bottom of the fence is pushed up and in). More surprising, a truly enterprising critter managed to somehow unhook two sections, where I'd secured them together (picture on right).


It's a good thing we found it before Harley did! And finally, before we say goodbye, here's a sad looking little pup who sits in one of our gardens by our patio.


He definitely needs a spring bath (and some cheering up)!

Thank you for keeping me company for this walk. What is the state of your gardens where you live? Do you enjoy the spring clean up or would you rather that everything just burst into full bloom without any work on your part?

In closing, thank you very much to everyone who nominated my books for The Romance Reviews' Readers' Choice Contest. All three of my qualifying books made it into the final round.



At this stage every vote counts. If you've already voted, I appreciate it. If you haven't but would like to, you can access the voting page here. Please scroll down to the contemporary category and you'll find my books listed alphabetically. Thanks again

Happy reading and happy spring!

Kate



Saturday, April 16, 2016

Sit-Down Saturday with Liz Flaherty

Today we’re celebrating the release of Liz Flaherty's Every Time We Say Goodbye.

So, Liz, where did you get the idea for this novel?
I spend time with a friend, Nan Reinhardt, at a lake, which made me think about living on one. Cole Porter’s cousin gets her nails done the same place I do. I’m on the bone marrow donor registry, which made me wonder about stem cells. I love watching high school marching bands. There—does it make sense yet? Hmm...maybe you better read the book.

In looking at the cover, if you could add a caption or captions, what would they say?
Someone mentioned a song title in a blog recently, so now I have an earworm. It looks to me as though Jack is asking Arlie, “Could I have this dance for the rest of my life?” In actuality, of course, Jack isn’t nearly as articulate as Anne Murray.

How long did it take you to write?
Probably six months—I’m not as fast as I used to be. Sigh.

What is your favorite scene?
I’m not sure it’s my favorite, but at one point Jack sits in a medical facility with Arlie while she has a procedure done in the bone marrow donation process. It’s a long, boring time, but it’s what a true friend and a true love would do.

Who was your favorite character and why?
Oh, easy! Charlie. He’s Jack’s son, and he came out of the woodwork, I swear! I’ve never yet written a book that had much to do with the original proposal for it, but this is the first time a smart aleck twelve-year-old ever showed up and stole the show.

If you could pick fictional characters to play the hero and heroine, who would they be?
Ryan Gosling—there’s just something about him I love—and Katie Findlay (she was in Hallmark’s production of The Bridge). Her coloring is all wrong, but everything else about her is perfect.

Tell us one thing you learned during research.
Much about stem cell donation and its importance. About being a drum major—thank you, Kyra Jacobs and everyone else I ever knew who was in marching band! About Cole Porter songs. Oh, did you say one thing?

What music would match the mood of this novel?
“Dancing Queen.” And you’ll have to read the book to know why.

This is your 12th book, counting a couple of novellas. Exactly what does that mean to you?
Since I still remember thinking I’d never be able to finish even one book, it’s immensely satisfying. It’s also, as I’ve said often enough to make anyone near me roll their eyes, the best job in the world.

What do you plan to work on next?
I’m working on a holiday novella and on the next story from Lake Miniagua. Both at once. It’s...er...challenging.

What are you reading for pleasure right now?

Marta Perry’s The Rebel. There are many Amish in our community (and in Every Time We Say Goodbye, by the way) and I am both fascinated by and very respectful of their culture. Not to mention, I love Marta Perry’s writing voice.

Liz Flaherty thinks one of the things that keeps you young when you quite obviously aren’t anymore is the constant chances you have to reinvent yourself. Her latest professional incarnation is as a Harlequin Heartwarming author and she is enjoying every minute!