Tuesday, August 30, 2016

More Great Books and Promotions

All month long, Harlequin Books has been celebrating the Dog Days of Summer. There's still time to share your pet story here for a chance to win a terrific dog-themed prize pack.

While you're visiting the Harlequin website, you might want order your copies of this month's terrific Heartwarming releases (see right bar) and take advantage of this spectacular offer.
Yes, today only, you can get a free book for each book you purchase!

And if you're looking for your next book to read, you might want to try Rula Sinara's After the Silence.

After the Silence has just been named a finalist for the Heart of Denver Romance Writers' Aspen Gold Award. Congratulations, Rula!

With summer nearing its end, thirteen of your favorite Heartwarming authors have gotten together to release A Heartwarming Thanksgiving. It will release on November 1st, but you can preorder you copy now.

If you still need more books for your TBR pile, you can find our July releases in select Walmart stores this month.



With all these terrific books to choose from, what are you reading right now?


Monday, August 29, 2016

Current and Upcoming Blog Tours and More

Do you enjoy interacting with and learning more about authors and their books through blog tours? You will have three chances to do so from now until the end of November.


The Prism Book Tours grand finale for Amie Denman's Carousel Nights is underway and will end on September 2nd. You can learn about the tour here, and there's still time to enter to win one of ten copies of Amie's first Heartwarming book, Under the Boardwalk.

If you happen to be all caught up reading this month's Heartwarming releases, don't forget that some of our authors also write for other Harlequin lines, such as Love Inspired and Western. In fact, here are two terrific July releases by Pamela Tracy and Roz Denny Fox you might want to add to your TBR pile!

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But that's not all! Another two of our beloved Heartwarming authors will be on tour in September and November with exciting new books outside the Heartwarming line that are sure to please. Visit Prism Book Tours here to learn more about these tours or, if you are a blogger/book reviewer, to sign up for the tours.
Happy reading!


Saturday, August 27, 2016

Sit Down Saturday - For Love Or Money

Today I'm talking about:

For Love or Money – there’s no ‘or’ for me. It’s always for love. But sometimes loving means needing money. Most particularly when you’re a single mother of a special needs child who needs therapy that isn’t free.
It’s so easy, many times too easy, to make snap judgments. To sit in judgment. To think we know better. We hear a story – usually just one side – or read a news article – so often biased to one way of thinking or another – and we determine right and wrong. We judge people we don’t know. And people we do know without hearing both sides of the story.
So…for love or money…which would you choose? Would you sacrifice more for love? Or for money? Would you put yourself out, do uncomfortable things, for love? And would you do more if it meant you’d make a lot of money? Are you better if you choose one over the other?
What if loving someone meant you needed the money?
What if winning the money meant that you couldn’t love someone as completely as they deserved to be loved?
I set out to write a sweet little story about a single mom who wins a chance to be a contestant on a cooking show. I should know better. My stories never turn out to be sweet, easy reads. Life happens to me every time. Muck gets in the way. Kind of like real life. Halfway through the book I’m faced with the realization that there are no easy answers. No matter how much I want to make it be so.
And yet…if I just trust, have faith, listen to the small voices inside of me, life has a way of working itself out. I don’t have all the answers. I don’t even have most of them. But I have one. The only one I need. Love exists. It is the strongest force in the universe. And if we have open our hearts to it, we will know moments of true joy.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Why Do We Read Romance Books and Write Them? by Roz Denny Fox


I wanted to blog about something more fun this month than life advice. I started thinking about all of the people I meet who ask why I read and write romance. I’m usually slightly offended and tell them rather soundly that it’s a genre I like, and that generally ends the line of questioning. However, I do ponder why it’s something people ask. I wonder if they think I don’t look like a romantic. If that’s the case, why not? Or do they feel the genre is less than—say mystery or sci fi, or even nonfiction? If so, what wrong impressions do they have? Some I sense stop short of asking why I don’t write a “real book”. (Grrr!) Those people I want to stomp on their toes.

But I decided to reflect on my reasons for reading and writing in the romance genre. My reasons may be very different from any of yours. If you’ll indulge me today, here goes:

I grew up in a rural Oregon farm community where reading was more than a pastime. It was a way to escape a fairly unexciting life. It was a way during pre-television to explore the world. Today’s kids would probably think I lived a hard life. My dad was a logger, a machinist, and a farmer. He didn’t give my sister or me spending money. We earned it. I hoed rows of onions under a hot sun, or strung miles of poles for pole beans to climb. We’d get up at four a.m. to do outside chores like water gardens before catching a bus to go to fields where we got scratched picking blackcaps, boysenberries, raspberries, or crawled down wet rows picking strawberries. The next crop was bush beans. We filled metal buckets then dumped them in gunny sacks. Dragging full sacks to the end of the row was backbreaking. The same was gathering walnuts, filberts, or prunes in rainy, pre-dawn hours before school days in the fall.

And yet because we all did the same thing, there were sing-alongs on the bus, laughter and fun. And looking back I see these were jobs that didn’t interfere with my daydreams.

My friends and I talked about finding the perfect mate. We talked about traveling to exotic places. We imagined meeting a man of wealth. Someone who’d love us as we wanted to be loved. Yes books fed those dreams, and yet I can’t think of anyone in my circle of friends who didn’t know the difference between a pie-in-the-sky dream and reality. (That’s what some people think romantic fiction does. Feed young, impressionable minds with impractical whimsy.) Naysayers really think readers can’t distinguish fact from fiction. Really? Baloney.

Love stories can give readers a respite from normal lives. Or they can show that the readers that their lives aren’t so bad.

Yes, wouldn’t it be fantastic if a white knight rode into my kitchen today and swept me away? Since I know there’s a fat chance of that happening I can smile and enjoy it when he saves a worthy heroine from her hum drum existence.

In truth most of our characters are mature, savvy, average people. They suffer with and wrestle quite ordinary or complex problems. Romance heroes and heroines could be our neighbors, or our ancestors. I believe love extends a global connection and has worldwide appeal.

Because I’ve never met anyone who doesn’t think love is attainable, that brings me back to not understanding why some question my wanting to read and write in this genre. I happen to think the universality of love is what keeps readers pulled time and again into stories with similar plots.

I do know some of the questioners think romance books are formulaic. Bah humbug. They should check out the variety of romance sub-genres. I’m happy to write for a broad market. I’m equally glad to read in that same broad market.

So if you’ve ever had anyone ask why you read and write romance, I’d like to hear if you answer them, and if so, what do you tell them?

Thursday, August 25, 2016

A Note From My Projects (Tara Taylor Quinn)

Here I am again, sitting down just to chat, and have three projects pushing at my back, insisting that I use this time to share them with you. They run my life, you know. These projects. They are my life. Not just because they take up such a huge chunk of it, but because they are the way in which I process and express everything that goes on in my world. In the worlds I observe. And one thing I've very clearly learned...I don't argue with them. They'll just make my life miserable until I give them their voice. They sound kind of spoiled. They aren't. I promise. They're just...intense. Important. They have things to contribute to the world. And so...here they are...

First up - This month saw the debut of my new Harlequin Heartwarming series, Family Secrets. Preliminary reviews have been really exciting. I love this series. It has so much going on...so many avenues to explore. We've got a reality cooking show. Contestants competing with secret family recipes. We've got some actual cooking tips. And we've got family secrets that are haunting those keeping them. If you haven't already checked out For Love or Money, Book One, it's here:


Next up is an exciting pre-order opportunity for our upcoming Christmas Anthology! 15 novellas written by current Heartwarming authors all set in the same town - a wonderful, loving town - Christmas Town, Maine. I've loved my time spent in Christmas Town! The people here have problems, face challenges, but that Spirit that embodies Christmas lives here and it's the strongest force in the world. I personally believe in the Spirit of Christmas with all of my heart. I believe in this power. I turn to it. I know it really is the strongest power on earth. And I am thrilled to be a part of this very special project! Right now you can pre-order it for just $.99!!


And third (not in importance, I'm doing these strictly in order of release!) is another very very special anthology - A Heartwarming Thanksgiving!! We're giving you two holiday anthologies this year!! A Heartwarming Thanksgiving is also a set of novellas, all written by Heartwarming authors - 13 of them! The stories are set in different places, with all kinds of plots, and each one of them revolves around Thanksgiving!! It is also available for pre-order right here:


So...they've said I did well. I am now allowed to go fold a load of laundry! Happy Thursday, everyone!



Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Research, the bedrock of an author's existence

I’ve been thinking a lot about research these days – I guess that’s because I’ve been doing so much of it. And then today Heartwarming author Kate James posted a Facebook post of sister author, Catherine Lanigan enjoying a bit of research, and it made me smile. Most authors like the research aspect of writing. We learn a lot, we sometimes experience things we wouldn’t otherwise. A mystery writer friend of mine, Nancy Cohen, who is quite well known for her “Bad Hair Day Mysteries,” exposes readers to some new and interesting aspect of modern life in each of her books. I’ve been fascinated by her info on tilapia farms, animal testing, and other subjects.

I’ve spent this summer in one of my favorite places, the high country of North Carolina. My condo has a view of Grandfather Mountain, my lungs have been breathing in the most refreshing cool air, my research juices have been working overtime. So far I have researched a Christmas tree farm, a whitewater rafting business, and tomorrow I will speak with an administrator at a local home for children, the beautiful campus of Crossnore School in Crossnore, NC. Forget what you know about “orphanages” -  dark, stone buildings with dormitories and cold winter days. Crossnore is a beautiful leafy-green facility with cottages, a school, a charming chapel, and many amenities that make life special for these needy kids.

I still have to interview the small town police department of the village I’m staying in. But when I get all my facts organized, hopefully you will see characters in an upcoming trilogy living the mountain life my research will bring to you.


Edge of the World Whitewater Rafting experience, Banner Elk, NC

Sugar Plum Tree Farm Plumtree, NC wjere they grow Faser Firs
Eight people per raft on the Watauga River, NC>

I hope you enjoy these pictures of my latest research. My next blog will include shots of the serene Crossnore School. Till then, please check out The Bridesmaid Word Sneakers, my August Heartwarming release, still “hot off the press.”
Happy end of summer.

Cynthia

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Winding Down by Janice Carter

The signs are everywhere on Garden Island, where I write and spend my summers, but I'm trying my best to ignore them.  Golden rod rampant in the meadow; apples already ripening in the orchard.



Rafts of ducks - the ducklings now indistinguishable from their mothers - drift along the shore throughout the day, feeding and feeding.  Prepping for their fall leave-taking.  The bees are working harder than ever, frenzied by the abundance of golden rod, and our honey harvest, ongoing since June, has 'ramped' up.

Gardens are overgrown as plants and vegetables are desperate to spin through the fruit to seed cycle as quickly as possible.
                                        Whoa!  Too much time writing instead of weeding.

The island itself is quiet these days too, as many cottagers are resident only on weekends while others, driven by the heat, stick to the water, avoiding the 'hot spots' of lane and meadow.
Yes, it's that time again.  End of summer.  When I was still a teacher, my late August nights would be fraught with back-to-school dreams.  Sometimes nightmares.  Yes, teachers get them too!  But retirement has eliminated all those anxieties and late summer winding down is simply that.  A segue to autumn and so on.  Seasonal changes are refreshing, in spite of their constant reminders of time passing.  And I no longer want those reminders!
             Before long I'll begin the packing up and carting off to the city of many of our belongings.  The hens will go to their winter home, care of a farmer and his young son on Wolfe Island.  The small herd of deer will wander freely - and blatantly - up and down the lane and through abandoned gardens.  The chipmunks, despite our best efforts, will find ways to sneak into the cottage to hide acorns and chokecherry seeds in our shoes and under our pillows. (No kidding!)
            Another kind of beauty fills the island in autumn and I'm looking forward to it.  Winter?  Not so much.
                                         Our family walked across the frozen St.Lawrence one winter.
                                         Once was enough for me.
     

 Once in a while, on a stormy day in the city, I'll dream - just briefly - of the next season, the next sunset on Garden Island.


Monday, August 22, 2016

When Authors Take a Break

by Patricia Johns

Every writer needs a break sometimes, and writing from the comfort of my own home makes it hard to draw the line between work and... not work! But getting away with my family for a few days helps with that. I live in Alberta, Canada, and this summer my family and I went Banff in the beautiful Rocky Mountains. 

Here are a few pictures from our fun! I hope your summer has been as enjoyable as mine.






And from the other Patricia--Patricia Bradley

I love going to the mountains, but this year when I had a break, I took a cruise. I liked it so well, I'm setting a book on a ship...so that means I have to do more research. he-he-he
Here are a few of the photos I took:

 I told you it was for research! Don't you think both of these guys would make great heroes? Here are a few more...





What do you do when you have downtime?

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Sit Down Saturday with Amie Denman



http://amiedenman.com/AD_Carousel_Nights.html


Today we’re celebrating the August release of Carousel Nights by Amie Denman

So, Amie Denman, where did you get the idea for this novel?

This is the second book in the series Starlight Point Stories. The amusement park that inspired the series is close to my house and I worked there for four summers back in college. I was also lucky enough to live in the employee housing, and I will probably never run out of stories from those four summers! 

How long did it take you to write?

After discussing the plot and conflict of the novel with my wonderful editor, I wrote Carousel Nights over a period of four months.

What is your favorite scene?

I love the scene where five-year-old Ross sits at the piano bench with June. He can use one finger and hit the right notes to Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star. June adds a robust harmony and they make music together. June begins to fall in love with Mel’s son that day and never stops.

Who was your favorite character and why?

I love Mel Preston because he’s good at his job—one of those men who can fix anything—and is also a single dad. His tenderness for and care of his son Ross will make you fall in love with him!

What music would match the mood of this novel?

I actually made my own “Starlight Point” soundtrack with songs that remind me of summer, beaches, and love. I listen to it while I continue writing the series which has a third book coming in December and a fourth next year. A few songs on that mix are Verdi Cries by Ten Thousand Maniacs, Under the Boardwalk (the classic!), When We Were Young by Adele, and some beautiful instrumental music from the movie A River Runs Through It. There may also be a Barry Manilow song on there because, frankly, I love him.

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

I think (hope!) it means I’m just getting started. I just signed a contract with Harlequin for three more books, and I have plenty of other plans in the works! I've always wanted to be a writer, and I'm so happy to be published by Harlequin.

What do you plan to work on next?
 
I’m currently working on the fourth Starlight Point book, planning two other Heartwarming novels, and working on a series that takes place at a grand hotel on an island with my best friend and fellow author May Williams.

What are you reading for pleasure right now?
I love Kristan Higgins and Janet Evanovich. I’ve also been on a huge Sarah Addison Allen kick lately. I'm reading her novel The Sugar Queen right now.

Friday, August 19, 2016

I Can't Write or Read...

by Shirley Hailstock

I can't write or read. The 2016 Olympics in Rio started a week ago and I've been virtually riveted to the television screen since. There are few times in the world when everything is put aside and the world focuses on the best athletes from their countries as they vie for a gold medal. This is happening in Rio de Janeiro at this very moment. 





There are the favorites, those expected to win, like Simone Biles and Amy Raisman.



 


And as expected the two Americans took the Gold and Silver medals in gymnastics.  But what about the fantastic run of Argentinian Juan Martin Del Portro in the tennis matches?  He certainly gives us fodder for stories.  The underdog hero who pushes past all obstacles to get his lady (a gold medal). He came away with the silver, but he fought the hard fight (and he looks good too).





Tall, good looking and in excellent form, he could grace the cover of any romance novel.

Simone Manuel took home a handful of medals, and set a new world record in the 100 meter swimming freestyle competition.  The look on her face when she saw the scores was priceless.





This blog could go on as long as the Olympics, but no story on the Olympics would be complete without knowing Michael Phelps was standing front and center accepting his gold medals. He won five gold and one silver as this count.  Go Michael!





In the next few days the stage will reset to normal and I'll be back at the keyboard pounding out my next story.  In the meantime if you have Olympic fever and need a novel, check out More Than Gold. It's a romantic suspense with characters a lot like Simone Biles and Amy Raisman. And of course, the hero is to die for...





As always, keep reading...

Thursday, August 18, 2016

About the journey...


Helen DePrima

Growing up in my grandparents’ home, I devoured the old novels my mother loved, even some from my grandmother’s girlhood, a whole generation out of sync with other girls my age. I never thought of these as romances, simply as wonderful tales of challenges and steadfast devotion. One of my favorite authors was (and still is) Gene Stratton-Porter, an avid naturalist and nature photographer writing in the early 20th century. Her novels took place for the most part in Indiana a few hours north of my home in Kentucky where I grew up exploring the fields and woods surrounding my grandfather’s farm. I treasure my first editions and love to think of my mother and aunt dreaming over the love stories as I did. And I often wonder if reveling in books such as Laddie, The Harvester, Freckles and Girl of the Limberlost led me to rehabilitating orphaned and injured wildlife.

 My all-time favorite “romance” isn’t regarded as such: The Virginian by

Owen Wister written in 1902. Generally considered the first great Western novel, its core plot line tells of a dashing cowboy courting a prim schoolmarm from the East, probably why I became fascinated with all things Western. Imagine the thrill I felt riding the same range as a teenager spending summers on the Colorado-Wyoming border. Many years later I learned that the cowboy and his sweetheart had real-life counterparts; the settings and action described mirror historical events in southern Wyoming.



Liz Flaherty
Very often, journeys are as much fun as destinations. I love all manner of travel, and the getting there is nearly always as great as the being there. But occasionally, the destination is all you want a destination to be. I loved my day job (the journey) until the day I left it (the destination.) Five and a half years into retirement, I’m still excited every single day the alarm clock doesn’t go off.  
So Helen and I were thinking about our journey to writing romance.

It was the 1960s. I was in high school and the book was called The Silver Cord. I don’t remember that much about the story, although I read it several times, but it was about a young woman whose new husband’s mother—whom he adored—was a horrible person whose apron strings gave the book its title. I’ve tried to look the book up and can’t find anything about it. It’s too bad, because that’s when I decided that the Jo March I’d always known was my true identity was going to write romance.

I wanted to write category romance, though, and at that time Harlequin was the only player in the game—at least that I knew of—and everyone who wrote Harlequins was British or Australian. But then one day my girlfriend called and said, “You’ve got to read this book.” It was No Quarter Asked by Janet Dailey, an American writer who changed everything. Her legacy is complicated, but nothing that happened later changes what she did for Americans writing romance in the beginning.

Time marched on. For decades. I read Nora Roberts and Kathleen Gilles Seidel
Betty Neels
and our own Muriel Jensen and Roz Denny Fox and enough Betty Neels books that I should be qualified to be a nurse in the Netherlands. I loved nurse books. Exotic location books. Harlequin American books.

I remember arguing vociferously that romances weren’t written to a formula. The only thing formulaic, I insisted, was the happy ending. I still believe that. Each publisher, line, and imprint has its own guidelines, but our voices are not silenced within them.

Back to journeys. The one to publication was lovely. I read at least hundreds of romances and it wouldn’t surprise me if it were thousands. And I wrote them. In longhand, on an electric typewriter—I think I was on my third computer by the time I sold my first book. Goodness knows how many manuscripts there were—I didn’t keep count of either them or the rejection slips that hit my mailbox like clockwork. Which was a very good thing, because I might have given up.

And what a loss that would have been. Because being a published author, even if you never get the multiple-books-a-year career you lust after, is a really good place to spend your time. Even when you reach that destination, the journey continues.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Touch Me Not Time...by T.R. McClure

It's the third week of August and the wildflower known as touch me not, or jewelweed, brightens shady creek banks and roadside ditches of Pennsylvania with its orange and yellow tubular blooms. I always look forward to seeing them.

Wanted: The Perfect Mom
was, from the first word to the last edit, known as Touch Me Not.
Native to the eastern half of the United States from Maine to Alabama, the wildflower is a favorite of hummingbirds. Although not substantiated, some say the plant can be used as an antidote for poison ivy.

My editor reminded me not everyone would know to what the title referred. Good point, I agreed. And the new title made sense.


But now, in the hot, steamy days of late summer, I'm reminded of the scene where Holly shows Riley the exploding seed pod - fiction - and of the time my grandmother showed me - fact.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wsc4GfXdCQE


Planning some real-life pictures for this blog, last week Sunny and I set out, as we do most mornings, to walk a nearby, shady road where the plant grows wild beneath the oak and walnut trees. Alas, someone decided the side of the road should be mowed. No wildflowers. No exploding seed pods.

But not to worry. I had a family visit planned for over the weekend 100 miles east. I packed the camera, certain I would find touch me nots galore along my relative's country roads.

And I did. But the camera's memory card was still inserted in the computer back home.

Thank goodness for the cell phone.



 If you live in an area the touch me not calls home, maybe you'll have more luck than I did.

And as always...
Enjoy the read!
T.R. www.trmcclure.com

Monday, August 15, 2016

It's Not Easy Being Green . . . by Kate James

Or my good deed . . . that wasn't!



I was minding my own business, working on the manuscript for the fourth book in my San Diego K-9 series when something caught my attention. There was a green blob between the mosquito netting and the wind/rain curtain for our gazebo, roughly where the red circle is in the picture below.

When I got up to take a closer look, I was horrified to find a little green frog trapped between the two layers. [Editorial note: amphibian lovers, it's safe to read on.] He was flattened against the rain curtain and was completely motionless. I couldn't even see him take a breath. I feared the worst, but had to try to rescue him, in case he was alive.

I untied the mosquito netting and secured it out of the way. The poor little guy was still hanging on to the curtain, unmoving. With a small stick, I tried ever so gently to get him onto a piece of cardboard.

Imagine my joy when he actually moved of his own volition! He was alive and apparently well! My joy was short lived and followed by horror, when the little guy used the cardboard as a springboard and (all two inches of him) catapulted from approximately four feet in the air onto a patio stone.

Thankfully he survived the leap and again (no thanks to me) appeared unharmed. He didn't seem very comfortable on the flagstone so I very gently nudged him towards the garden situated about a foot away from him.

I was so happy that he was back in his element and obviously enjoying it, as evidenced by him climbing up on a plant.

Isn't he cute? In the next picture, he even looks like he's smiling, doesn't he?!
Feeling pleased that I was able to help him and more than likely saved his life, I went back to working on my manuscript. I was getting absorbed in it again, when I saw the frog hop across the patio toward another, larger garden . . . or so I had assumed.

Imagine my surprise when he stopped short at another gazebo post . . . and proceeded to start climbing up the curtain fabric.
Quite agile, isn't he? He kept climbing until he reached the half-way point where the curtain and netting are both tied back . . .
. . .  and then tried to find a way under the netting . . .
Whether he likes it between the two layers because it shields him from the elements or perhaps protects him from natural predators (if not from me), he seems to purposefully want to be there.

So the moral of this story is that nature is pretty darn amazing and can do quite well on its own, and a little two-inch frog might be smarter than I am in some respects!

* * * * *

You can pick up our July Heartwarming releases this month at select Walmart stores. You can find a location near you here. Of course, they are available online through all major retailers.

In closing, huge thanks to the Ancient City Romance Authors and all the judges for selecting my 2015 releases The Truth About Hope and When the Right One Comes Along from among all the wonderful entries as finalists in the 2016 ACRA Readers' Choice Contest!
Also, sincere thanks to the First Coast Romance Writers and judges for selecting When the Right One Comes Along as a finalist in the National Excellence in Romance Fiction contest in the contemporary series category.

Finally, for dog lovers everywhere, Harlequin is featuring When I Found You on its website as part of The Dog Days of Summer promotion all month long. Fellow Heartwarming author, Dana Mentink also has a book featured: her Love Inspired Suspense, Seek and Find.

Happy reading!

Kate