Monday, November 28, 2016

Are You Ever Thankful for Inconveniences?

by 
Patricia Johns
& Patricia Bradley

Since Thanksgiving was last week, the two Patricias thought we'd extend the holiday and talk about some of the things we're thankful for. But not the usual things like family and love and--you get the idea. 

No, we want to talk about things that usually irritate us.  Don't know what we're talking about? Patricia J, you go first and explain.

Patricia Johns:
(Oh, by the way, Patricia J celebrated Canadian Thanksgiving October 10th):

Okay. "I'm thankful for a boyfriend I once had--a relatively uninteresting boyfriend. He lived four hours away, and we were better friends than we were anything else. But while I was officially his girlfriend, I met another guy. That guy had real potential--he got along with my family well, and he was a sweet country boy. I honestly could have married him! 

And I'm thankful for the placeholder boyfriend, because he kept me from dating the guy with real potential. And that might seem like a silly thing to say, but if I'd married that guy, I'd never have been able to marry my husband. Ten years is a long time to wait for your soul mate, and I'd have happily settled down with the sweet country boy and missed out on the love of my life. 

So I'm thankful for missed opportunities that kept me single for Mr. Johns.


Wow, Patricia J. Isn't it funny how a missed opportunity can turn out really for the best! Now my turn:
Patricia B: (And I don't have a photo of me cooking a turkey. It's been twenty years since I've cooked one.)

Several years ago I was with a group driving to Houston, TX, and before we got out of the driveway, one of the people mentioned they had to make a stop. Grumble, grumble. Took ten minutes. Finally, we were on the road.

Then a mile later as we approached a blind curve, we were flagged down by a truck driver. His logging trailer had experienced a malfunction and he'd lost a load of logs in the curve. It had happened just ten minutes earlier. 

I'm thankful for delays because if we hadn't been delayed, we would have been at that curve about the time the logs tumbled into the highway. And even if we'd missed the actual logs falling, we wouldn't have been able to avoid hitting one of them in the blind curve. The driver wouldn't have had time to warn people. 

So, have you ever had an inconvenience that you were thankful for?


Friday, November 25, 2016

From the Good News Network


Good Morning, All!  Hope you're stuffed to the gunnels with turkey and thankfulness.  Recently read an article about being mindful.  Like a lot of words we presume the meanings of by how they're used, I always thought it meant simply 'aware.'  But, it's more than that.  It means to be in the moment  with all hope and faith.  Dismiss the past, don't worry about the future, but be present to love and hope and do all the good you can today, and believe in the far-reaching goodness that will come from that.  Trickle-down love, so to speak.

I've gathered all this positive information from the Good News Network to help us march into the Christmas season armed with the knowledge that people are good, and ultimately, good will come from our having been here.


A blind husky named Isaac and his seeing-eye chihuahua friend, Isabella, were found wandering the streets of Fontana, CA.  No one was sure how they'd buddied-up, or how long they'd been homeless, but it was clear the chihuahua was helping her friend by calling to him to help him locate.  I wish I knew how to do photos because they're so precious - the big, beautiful husky and the little spunky chihuahua.  A good Samaritan took them to the STAND Foundation where staffers posted their photo on social media, and explained that they had to be adopted together, and that there was a time crunch.  So many animals in need, and time and space are critical.  A few days before their deadline, a generous soul adopted both of them and they're now happy and together somewhere in Southern California.  Talk about an HEA!

A waiter in Houston was chatting with a customer while serving his dinner.  The customer had just returned from Ireland where he's seen U2 perform.  The waiter mentioned he was from Ireland and was missing his family at holiday time.  The customer left him a $750. tip to help him get home for the holidays.  The spirit of  Bono!

A repo man was sent to repossess an older couple's 1998 Buick.  They'd fallen five payments behind because the husband's medication had doubled in cost over the past year.  The repo man started a GoFundMe account for them, made enough to pay off their car and have considerable cash left for other things.  The repo man's staff bought them a turkey.  Wow.

A family of farmers was grieving the loss of a four-year-old grandchild who'd had an accident on a piece of farm machinery.  It was harvest time and there were still 112 acres of wheat in the ground and the family remained inconsolable.  A friend of the family gathered all her farmer friends - 60 of them! - who appeared one morning at 10 a.m. with their equipment and were finished by 5:00.  Those who didn't have equipment, brought sandwiches and cookies to feed those working.  A week's worth of work was done in 7 hours by friends who cared and wanted to share and lighten their friends' grief.

A third grade teacher in Philadelphia is inspiring her students - and lots of people who've learned about her - by a simple call and response exercise.

"What if it's too hard?"

"I'm gonna push through!"

"What if it's too tough?"

"I'm gonna push through!"

"What if you're too young?"

"That ain't true!   I can do anything I put my mind to!"

She's beautiful and amazing,  her children are so cute, and they're going to be so strong!


Patagonia, the clothing and travel gear retailer, is donating 100% of its Black Friday sales to environmental groups!

GoFundMe, the largest social fundraising platform,  is saying thank you to all of us by donating $100,000 a month to their Give Back program.

And - just to encourage you to do your best because you're going to be here a while - Americans are living longer  - current average life span is 78 years and 9 1/2 months.  Imagine all that Philadelphia teacher's kids will be able to do with their attitudes and all that time!

Wish you all an inspiring holiday season!  Group hug!





Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Ideas, Ideas, Ideas by Janice Carter

Perhaps some of you are acquainted with this scenario:  urge to write;  blank Word document.  No matter how long you sit and stare at that white page, nothing appears.  And even if you have a microscopic 'germ' of an idea, cultivating it may be challenging or even impossible.
     One of the most frequently asked questions of writers is "where do you get your ideas?"  While this question stems from curiosity or a genuine desire to understand the writing process, it sometimes presumes that there is a repository somewhere full of original ideas for novels.  Or worse, that ideas are spoon-fed to us by our publishers. (I wish!)  Some bolder types go so far as to offer their own ideas for our books.  Unfortunately, these ideas may be based on typical misconceptions about romance novels.  Others may believe novels spring from formulas and outlines provided to us by our diligent editors.  I wonder if authors of international award winning books are ever asked these questions.  Somehow I doubt it.
     My stock reply to the question is usually "anywhere and everywhere", which suffices most except those seeking more detail.  I tell them that the Heartwarming novel I've recently completed stems from a National Geographic magazine article I read years ago.  Or that the one I'm currently working on came from a visit to the museum on Ellis Island.
    But what readers and interested family members or friends really want to know is how the book came to be written, which is much more difficult to explain.  The process is long and convoluted, impossible to sum up neatly.  How to explain the hours of day-dreaming or tossing and turning through sleepless nights while attempting to work through a story?  Each novel has a start, but that's all ideas are, right?  Simply beginnings.  An idea is not a plot but merely a hook or spin-off that, if we're lucky, will lead to a good story.
     And this is where ideas and stories meet and marry.  In the beginning, it's difficult to determine which ideas will develop into a captivating story.  Many of us have had book proposals or completed novels rejected for any number of reasons but the basic one is often that the idea isn't enough to carry the story.  Yet coupled with a lot of thinking, game playing (the 'what if?' kind) and more day-dreaming, some ideas actually do turn into stories and novels.
     The tricky part of this new relationship comes when we have to objectively assess it.  What works and doesn't work?  Which part or character makes the cut?  The editing process is painful for everyone - even the editors I'm sure, who have to make cuts or request changes as diplomatically and sensitively as possible.  When I got back the line edit for my first Harlequin years ago, my immediate reaction was "why did they buy it if it was so bad?"  Then there was the wonderful foster mother of the heroine in an early Superromance whose role was tragically abbreviated by an editor.  Over the years my skin has grown a few more layers as I accepted editing as one part of the business of writing.  Nothing personal intended and nothing personal taken.  Interestingly, in every case the editing did make for a much better read.  Still, my fingers are crossed that all my characters in my Heartwarming survive the cut!
    Ideas are everywhere.  They're the buds on trees in the spring or seeds in the ground.  Some will grow and others - lots!- may not.  All of this brings me back to my own question.  What to write for my November blog post?
    I haven't the faintest idea.

Happy Thanksgiving all!


Monday, November 21, 2016

Is it Spring Yet? . . . and Cover Reveals


It's not that we'd like to wish winter away (well, maybe the bone-chilling cold and piles of snow), but if is was spring, our March Heartwarming releases would be available! In the meantime, they are available for preorder and weLeAnne Bristow, Kate James, Tara Randel and Cerella Sechristhave teamed up to reveal our covers and chat about them. First of all, here are the four fabulous covers all together . . .

Don't they look terrific? Now let's have a look at them one by one and see what the authors have to say about them!

Let's start with LeAnne Bristow and her debut Heartwarming release, Her Texas Rebel. Please join us in giving LeAnne a warm and enthusiastic welcome to the Heartwarming authors' group!

You can connect with LeAnne through her website and purchase Her Texas Rebel here:

Next up, we have Kate James and her release, Sanctuary Cove. (We've heard a rumour that this book might be the start of a new mini-series for Kate.)

You can connect with Kate through her website and purchase Sanctuary Cove here:

Now we're thrilled to introduce Tara Randel's exciting new release in her The Business of Weddings series, The Wedding March!

You can connect with Tara through her website and purchase The Wedding March here:

And last but by no means least, we have the next fabulous Findlay Roads story by Cerella SechristA Song for Rory.

You can connect with Cerella through her website and purchase A Song for Rory here:

Now it's your turn. What do you like best about our covers? We'd love to hear from you!
As always, best wishes and happy reading!

LeAnne, Kate, Tara and Cerella
© © ©

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Sit Down Saturday with Tara Taylor Quinn

It's Sit Down Saturday! Today we're talking with Tara Taylor Quinn about her latest release - Her Soldier's Baby.

Tell us a little about this book.
Her Soldier's Baby starts out with a tried and true 'secret baby' theme - and then it becomes ttq. I don't know how or why, but every subject I touch becomes intense, emotional, and travels unexpected paths. This book is no different. When I sent it to my editor, I told her it wrung me dry. After she read it, she wrote back that she understood and it got to her, too. It went to line editing, heard back that she loved it. It made her cry. But ultimately, this book is about having faith in the power of love. About love's ability to take any situation and bring joy. What I can tell you is this book is one of the most powerful books I've written. If you like cooking, you get the added bonus of a reality cooking show for a backdrop. And if you like a bit of suspense, that's there, too!

What made you want to write this book?
This book started out as a contestant on a reality cooking show looking for the child she'd given up for adoption. It was going to be more sweet than intense, with some great recipes, some fun and excitement, and ultimately a mother reuniting with her child. I love secret baby stories. And I love the Family Secrets series. I was set. Until I realized that I'd forgotten to factor in the hero. He showed me. He consumed me. He took over the book. And it's a far better book because of him!

Can you share an excerpt?


Some nights he woke up in a cold sweat and still couldn’t believe that Eliza Maxwell was his wife. He’d lie there, touching her shoulder, looking at her sometimes for more than an hour, to avoid going back to sleep. When he slept, she was, like the rest of his few good childhood memories, completely out of reach.

What's up next for you?

The third and final book in the Family Secrets series, The Cowboys Twins, is coming in January! Just six weeks from now!

The next cooking reality show competition, all new characters, and a family secret that this cowboy has been keeping most of his life.

I loved writing this book. I loved the kids. Just seeing them here on the cover makes me want to go read it again.

And after that...I have Superromance books releasing in March, May, August and October! I'm currently writing the October book, and just signed a new big bundle contract with Harlequin for books coming out in 2018 and 2019! If you'd like to be notified of new releases, contests, and special offers, please sign up for my newsletter here. Right now, if you sign up you receive a free copy of my new Christmas novella, Christmas Past. Christmas Past can purchased, along with 14 other Heartwarming Christmas novellas for just .99 for the entire collection here.

Having written over eighty novels, Tara Taylor Quinn is a USA TODAY bestselling author with more than seven million copies sold. She is known for delivering intense, emotional fiction. Tara is a past president of Romance Writers of America. She has won a Readers' Choice Award and is a five-time finalist for an RWA RITA® Award, a finalist for a Reviewers' Choice Award and a Booksellers' Best Award. She has also appeared on TV across the country, including CBS Sunday Morning. Tara has been under contract with Harlequin Books, the world’s leading publisher of romance fiction, since 1992, and recently accepted a 10 book contract with the publisher. She supports the National Domestic Violence Hotline. If you or someone you know might be a victim of domestic violence in the United States, please contact 1-800-799-7233.



Friday, November 18, 2016

100 Books to Read Before You Die - The Official List

by Shirley Hailstock

It started with a movie, The Equalizer. I like action movies and I like Denzel Washington. In this movie, his wife has died and she was a lover of books. She was reading the top 100 Books Everyone Should Read Before You Die.  He truly loved her and as homage, he's reading the top 100 books.  He's currently on number 91.



I looked for the list since I wanted to know how many of them I had read.  What I discovered is there are countless lists of top 100 books by different groups, organizations or individuals.  I had to choose one, so when I found a list that said it was The Official List, I went with that one.  Click this link (The Official List) if you want to see all 100 titles. I am glad to say that the majority of the books appear on many of the lists. You'd expect to see The Great Gatsby and Pride and Prejudice on any reading list that claims to be the Top 100.




When I counted the titles I'd read, my number was 37. There were some collections like the Harry Potter series and the complete works of Shakespeare.  While I've read all the Harry Potter books, I only get to add one to my total. I didn't count Shakespeare at all since I've only read a few of his books/plays.  I've seen more of his works produced as a play or movie than actually reading the text. However, Hamlet was listed singularly and I included that one. In high school, I had to memorize parts of that play.

Some titles I tried to read and couldn't. The Hobbit is one of them. Even after The Lord of the Rings walked away with multiple Academy Awards, I tried to read The Hobbit and couldn't. Then I got it on CD and tried to listen to it.  Still I couldn't get into it.  There are some books, we're just not ready to spend the time trying to read.

There were also titles on the list I couldn't remember if I'd read the book or only seen a movie of the story. Little Women, Great Expectations, Wuthering Heights, and Anna Karenina have been movies, all with several remakes to their credit, and I can't remember if I ever read the book.



Of course, every list is going to come with surprises.  This one had a few books that I wouldn't choose for people to read before dying. The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger and The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams are two.  This is my opinion. There are probably thousands of people who will disagree with me, but they will have their own list that differs from mine.



Another surprise came when I saw titles and didn't know a book existed. I thought these stories were made into movies from original screenplays. Far From the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy,  Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh, On The Road by Jack Kerouac, and The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane are a few.


The list was limited to 100 titles, so it stands to reason that some expected titles will be missing.  For example, Middlemarch by George Eliot is listed, but Silas Marner is not.  Neither The Scarlet Letter nor any other works by Nathaniel Hawthorne are included in the list. Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad is present, but not Lord Jim.  A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds by Paul Zindel and The Invisible Man by National Book Award winner Ralph Ellison, and Native Son by Richard Wright were not listed. There were no books by James Baldwin, Toni Morrison or Ernest Hemingway.




So, of the books on this list that I've read, what is my favorite – The Great Gatsby.  A few years ago I read this book for the first time. I wanted to see if it stood the test of time. Would the book be just as interesting and relevant today as it was when it was written? My answer is yes. I thoroughly enjoyed it even though I'd seen Robert Redford and Mia Farrow play Gatsby and Daisy countless times. And I even visited the house in Newport, Rhode Island where they filmed the movie, I was still in the can't put-it-down-mode.



Reading 37 titles is good, but not great. It's only a little over a third of the 100.  Just in case you want to know the 37 titles I have read, they're listed below.

So, like Ricky would say to Lucy, I got some readin' to do.


Thursday, November 17, 2016

Of memories and Thanksgiving...

by Helen DePrima


November suits me. The bustle of fall activity is done – garden put to bed, leaves raked, firewood stacked before the first snowfall. I can enjoy the subtler colors of the hills after the extravagance of autumn foliage almost too beautiful to tolerate. Small details stand out: ferns shielded from the frost, a single scarlet mushroom that’s spent the summer hiding under leafy neighbors, winterberries gathered at the marsh’s edge.



November in my Kentucky childhood had a softer edge than here in New Hampshire, often shirtsleeve weather clear up to Thanksgiving and beyond. Once the leaves were down, I was allowed to take my .410 shotgun into the woods to harvest mistletoe growing in the tops of tall oaks. I got to be a decent shot, able to bring down whole bunches intact to peddle before Christmas at the local market for fifty cents a handful.




With Thanksgiving just ahead launching holiday frenzy and the political madness behind us, I’ll be grateful and hold onto the November quiet while I can.

by Liz Flaherty

When I was little, our family spent the Thanksgiving holiday at my Great Aunt Nellie’s house on Douglas street in Goshen, Indiana. It was a nice white Cape Cod house with two bedrooms, a bathroom, a hallway where the phone was, and a nice big living room complete with a television and a secretary desk that I lust after to this day. There was also a nice kitchen with a chrome-and-Formica dinette set in red and gray and—here’s the best part—one of those stools with the steps that came out in the front. I’ll add a picture if you don’t know what I mean.

I loved Aunt Nellie’s house. She even had a cement driveway. But the very best part—
even better than the stepstool--was her basement, where there was yet another kitchen and living room. This was where the 20-some of us gathered to eat. Then the women talked, the men went up to watch the television and smoke and fall asleep on the overstuffed furniture, and us kids played 78 rpm records on the old Victrola in the corner. After a while, we ate again. Turkey and dressing, pumpkin pie, and cranberry stuff that slid neatly out of the can. (I wouldn’t eat it, but I did like to watch it come out of the can.) There was probably more, too, but I didn’t care. I thought dinner at Aunt Nellie’s was the nectar of the gods, and I’d never even heard the term!

Aunt Nellie died in the 70s—oh, a favorite story about her! She was getting ready for a trip to Grand Rapids with friends when she died. At the service, her pastor said with great confidence that Aunt Nellie had been just as prepared for the trip she took as she’d been to go to Michigan. My grandmother, her older sister, muttered to my sister-in-law that if Nellie’d had her druthers, she’d rather have gone to Grand Rapids.

A few years ago, my sister and I were in Goshen, which is about an hour away from where we live (although the journey seemed much longer when we were kids), and we found the house on Douglas Street. Wow, it was small. It was pretty enough, but nowhere as beautiful as I remembered. The street itself, which had seemed broad when I was a kid, was barely wide enough for two lanes of traffic. The lawns that had seemed luxurious were…sort of pokey.

We laughed as we drove around that day, visiting graves of people we’d loved and calling up memories that made it sound as if we’d grown up in two different houses. And there we have the important part, the greatest part of all about Thanksgiving—memories.

I hope yours are all wonderful.




Wednesday, November 16, 2016

The Thanksgiving Vs. Christmas Debate by Syndi Powell




The Thanksgiving Vs. Christmas Debate by Syndi Powell

Years ago, my dad worked in retail where they started piping Christmas music into the store soon after Halloween. This brought about an edict in our household: no Christmas until the day after Thanksgiving. This later changed to no Christmas until the day of Thanksgiving so my mom could use her holiday china for the big meal and play Christmas carols during dinner.

This year, at a minute after midnight on November 1st, one of the Detroit radio stations changed their music format to all Christmas music which will play through New Year's Eve. We've seen posts on Facebook about some people decorating early while others protest the infringement of Christmas on Thanksgiving. I also have a friend who keeps up her Halloween decorations until Thanksgiving because she loves them so much.

So when is it time to bring out the holiday paraphernalia? Do you and your families have a set rule about when it's time?

Most years, I waited until Black Friday to put up the Christmas tree and get the decorations out. Usually, that was because I had the day off so I had the time to get everything done that day. However, since I've been working the last six years on that day, I've done it as early as Veteran's Day (when the bank was closed so I knew I'd be off) and as late as the two weeks before Christmas.

To be honest, I don't think there's a rule that says when we can decorate or even if we are required to. It's all about personal preference, and if you're like me, having the time to do it. And don't get me started about Black Friday starting on Thanksgiving.

So when do you start bringing out your Christmas decorations?

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Paint, Ponder, Peace

I attended a Paint Party on Saturday with my neighbor Fran. A popular way to raise money for an organization, Paint Parties are big in Central Pennsylvania right now. Fran went to a Paint Party at the library a few months ago where they served wine and cheese.🍷
The party we went to was held at the church. No wine, but we did have chocolate-covered pretzels, brownies, cookies, carrots, grapes...🍇

Works for me. 😏

At these parties the instructor holds up an already completed painting. In this case, our assignment was to paint a snowman putting an ornament on a tree. She led us through each step. Cover the canvas with vanilla. Use the taupe for shading. Yellow provides a pale sun. Then white circles for the snowman. A brown strip for the tree. Easy peasy.

The room is relatively quiet, everyone focused on her project. I commented to Fran how relaxing it felt to sit there and just think about the painting. How wide to make the tree? How much green for the pine needles? I wasn't thinking about politics, or the diet I want to try the week before Thanksgiving, or the deadline for my third Harlequin Heartwarming book. I was just pondering about what to put in the empty space beneath the snowman.

Later that evening, I tell my daughter about my day. She, in turn, tells me about visiting a friend from her time in the Air Force. It was, after all, the day after Veteran's Day. Her friend wonders whether she made the right decision to remain in the military. During her four-hour drive, my daughter wonders if she made the right decision to leave the military. We are always thinking, pondering past decisions.

Thoughts can take on a life of their own. One of the benefits of my new writing career is the inability to write and think about things that bother me at the same time. When my twins first left home, I worried a lot. One evening, talking with the daughter attending Penn State, her phone went dead. She was walking home after work, along a street I knew to have dark areas. I panicked and called campus police. They found her safe in her dorm room. So yes, thoughts can run rampant if we allow. Thinking about my characters, how to get them from Point A to Point B, how to make them more interesting to the reader, helps me control runaway thoughts.

Later it hits me. Writing is therapy. So is painting. The act of creating takes you out of your head and in so doing, provides a wonderful sense of peace.

I think that explains the popularity of coloring books for adults. They're everywhere! So try one. Give yourself a little gift of time to focus and relax. Or begin a creative project to get through the holidays. Paint a picture. Knit a scarf. Build a bookcase. Try a new recipe. Whatever you choose, be in the moment. Focus.

By the way, I put a bunny rabbit in the empty space.
Works for me.🐇
P.S. An Allegheny Homecoming, the second book in the Home to Bear Meadows series, is due out April, 2017. The first, of course, is Wanted: The Perfect Mom.
As always, enjoy the read!
T.R.www.trmcclure.com

Monday, November 14, 2016

I'm Having the Time of My Life

Howdy,
  Pamela Tracy here, and yes it happened again.  I was sitting with a group of people, and one of them said, "Hey, I hear you're a writer."
  I nod, smile, mention Harlequin.
  They nod, smile, and mention that when they have time, they're going to write a book.

   I find time an interesting concept.



   If I had waited until I had time, I'd still be on chapter one of the first book I ever tried to write (It, btw, wasn't a romance.  It was a Star Trek TNG.  Guinan was the main character, and the Furengi were the villains - go figure.)

  Wait!  That wasn't my first book.  The first book I started was while I was in college (the first time).  I wrote a Sci Fi novel along the lines of Kurt Vonnegut (I was so in love with his and Douglas Adams' writings).  

   For that Sci Fi book, I was a full-time college student who was a full-time waitress and who cleaned apartments on the side.  No time.

  For the Star Trek book, I was single, teaching elementary school, waitressing at night, and played competitive softball (Hah, something you didn't know about me.  Before the chub came, I was athletic.)

Here's the truth.  Time didn't land in my lap, ever.  I made time.  I got up early, stayed up late, and carted notebooks and/or laptops to coffee shops and libraries.  I wrote on my honeymoon (I was late on a deadline because I planned a wedding instead of a black moment.)

Today, I'm busier than ever and for the best reason of all....

My advice to you, if you're going to write a book, write a book.  IN the time it took you to tell me about it, you could have had 500 words.

Now, hanging my head, here's how I've been spending my time lately when I should have had my butt in the chair working on my next Heartwarming!

Two nights a week, I'm sitting on a hard bench watching Mike at dive practice.
He's the small dot straight ahead on the three meter.
I think about bringing my laptop but I can't balance it on my knees and type.
I'm not that gifted.

One weekend I went to Tucson to give a talk.
There I ran into other Heartwarming authors like Roz Denny Fox, Patricia Forthyse, and  LeAnn Bristow
I think they're getting more writing done than me.
Hmmm, I'm jealous.

One Saturday I saw saw Marshmallow man from Ghostbusters.
I'm trying to figure out how to work him into my newest Heartwarming, but he's just not suspensy enough.

On Halloween, I had to spend time at a Haunted House.
I wish I'd found a haunted typewriter that would finish the D*#@ book for me.

No, Donald Trump did not visit my house to check on my writing progress.
This is one of Mike's friends disguised as Trump for Halloween.
My husband said, "He'll either get a lot of candy or none."

I was on the Day on Writing Committee at my school.
We brought in Marshall Trimble, state historian.
Yes, I got to pick the speakers.  Way cool.

I'm involved in Youth Leadership Training for Christ at my church.
Actually, they put me in charge of puppets and drama.
They said something about not trusting me to cook.


I also helped plan pseudo Grandma's 80th birthday just a few weeks ago.




Ah, I need to sign off and go write a little romance... How about you?




Saturday, November 12, 2016

Sit Down Saturday with Patricia Forsythe


Tell us a little about this book.

In At Odds With The Midwife, nurse/midwife Gemma Whitmire returns to her hometown of Reston, Oklahoma to open a birthing center where she can assist expectant and new mothers.  At the same time, Dr. Nathan Smith is working to reopen the small local hospital which was closed years before after his father, the chief financial officer, embezzled the hospital’s funds and disappeared. 
Although Gemma and Nathan were classmates growing up, and Gemma had a massive crush on him, they are now deeply divided over the care of expectant mothers.  When Gemma learns that his issues spring from a tragedy in his own family, she works to help him accept her and her work, as well as his own past.
What made you want to write this book?
The truth is, I take advantage of research situations when they’re presented to me, and the more easily they come, the better.  My daughter-in-law, Hailey, was studying midwifery.  Since it’s a subject that’s interested me for a long time, I was thrilled to have a ready source of information and Hailey was glad to oblige.  Also, I wanted to write a series of books set in Oklahoma, the beautiful state where my parents grew up, and where I still have many relatives.
Can you share an excerpt?
The place was warm and inviting, not at all the den of hippie craziness his mother had claimed it to be.  Also, it was rustic, but not primitive.  Thinking about it now, he wondered why she had chosen that word.
                “Come over to the sink,” Gemma commanded and he did as he was told, standing with his hand under warm running water, very aware of her gently clasping it in her own while she turned it this way and that, keeping it under the stream from the faucet. Nate liked being close enough to catch the scent of her, faintly flowery, no doubt heightened by the work she’d been doing out back.
                He was about to ask what she’d been planting, when she shut off the water, grabbed a handful of paper towels which she placed beneath his hand to catch the drips, and directed him toward the table.  It was very old, with a scarred top that spoke of many meals eaten at it by many generations.  The chairs were a mishmash of styles, but all seemed to be as old as the table.  Nate glanced around again at the cabin.  It was cozy and inviting and in his mind, he could see previous Whitmires sitting here, eating, talking, laughing.  The place had a settled atmosphere.  In spite of the modern furnishings, glowing electric lamps, and the laptop computer open on a living room table, he could picture a woman in a long dress from the early twentieth century, coming inside, removing her bonnet, and pumping water at the sink to wash up, get a drink, and begin preparing dinner.  Maybe that’s what actually haunted the Whitmire farm – the ghosts of hard-working, happy people with established traditions going back generations.  He shook his head at the fanciful thoughts.  He never lapsed into daydreams like this.
Casting Gemma a wary glance to see if she had noticed his odd behavior, he ruefully decided that she wouldn’t know if this was out of character for him, or not.  They hadn’t seen each other in fifteen years.
“This is nice,” he said, watching her pick up a rubber bulb syringe, fill it with warm water, and expertly flush his cut with a disinfectant solution.  “Your family farmed this land for many years.”
“More than a hundred, but my dad wasn’t interested in farming so he sold most of the farmland and established the campground.”
“But they stayed in this cabin, kept the family home.”
               “Don’t sound so surprised,” she said, glancing up and giving him the full attention of those remarkable green eyes of hers.  “They have roots here that they wanted to maintain.  My parents may have been . . . unusual, but they knew how to create a happy home.”
                Nate didn’t answer.  For all of their wealth and position, his parents had certainly never known how to do that.  From his first memories, their home had been sterile, filled with icy silences.  Funny, after all these years, he still never thought of the ostentatious house at the end of Pine Street as his home, only theirs.  That’s why it was sitting empty, falling into disrepair.  Why he’d rented a small house near the hospital, to which he had brought the furniture he’d bought himself.  He had yet to include anything from his childhood home.
                “And how are your parents?” he asked.  “I heard they had left town, and the campground was permanently closed.”
                She gave him a big smile – the expression of someone talking about those she loved.  “They’re very well.  As soon as I was launched into the world, they took the money they’d inherited from my dad’s family and the sale of the farmland and took off.  They’ve traveled the world ever since, helping out on building projects in third world countries wherever they can.  I see them a couple of times a year here in the states, or I go wherever they are.”
                “It sounds . . . idyllic.”
                Gemma laughed and her eyes lit up.  “It sounds like what a couple of middle-aged hippies would do, but don’t tell them I said that.”
                “I doubt that I’ll ever see them.”
                “You might be surprised.”  She lifted his hand and examined it closely for debris, then, apparently satisfied, she carefully positioned a bandage over the cut.  “This is their home, after all.”
                “Are you going to be here long?”  Maybe he could get her to go out to dinner with him.  There was no decent restaurant in Reston, but Dallas was only a couple of hours south and he knew there were plenty of fine dining places there.  Besides, if she was as competent a nurse as she appeared to be, he might have a job for her.
                “I’m back permanently.”
                “Really?”  More and more promising, Nate thought.  “Is your nursing license current?”
                “Of course.”  She tilted another smile at him.  “What’s the matter?” she asked in a teasing voice.  “Afraid I didn’t bandage your hand right?  Remember, you were on my property without being asked, while I was busy working.”
                Deciding he’d better change tactics, he asked, “What were you doing out there, by the way?  At first I thought you were burying a body.”
                “Planting herbs.”
                “In the dark?”
                “It’s not dark.  There’s a full moon, which is when these herbs must be planted.”
                Maybe she wasn’t as different from her parents as he’d thought.  “Oh?  What kind?”
                “Blue cohosh, for one.”
                He frowned.  “It grows wild all around here.  You only have to walk out into the woods and pick it.”
                “I’d rather have it close by and if I grow it myself I can ensure the quality.”
                She was watching his face carefully.  Nate felt as if he was trying to communicate in an unknown language. 
                “And you need these for cooking?”
                “No, for pregnancy, labor, and delivery.  Tincture of blue cohosh stimulates labor.”
                Nathan went very still as those words sank in, the facts lining up before him as if they were printed on the very air.
                “You’re a midwife.”  His tone was flat.

What’s up next for you?
There are two more books in the Oklahoma Girls series.  The Husband She Can’t Forget will be available in February in 2017, and His Twin Baby Surprise will be available in May 2017.
Patricia Forsythe is the author of twenty-five books for Harlequin, with many more to come.  She loves creating stories with interesting characters and happy endings.

 

Friday, November 11, 2016

Stealing Time: National Alzheimer's Awareness Month by Cerella Sechrist

November is Alzheimer’s Awareness Month, which is particularly meaningful to me this year.

Alzheimer’s is a difficult thing.

But I never knew just how difficult until I began researching for my next Heartwarming release, A Song for Rory.

In this second novel of my Findlay Roads series, Sawyer Landry is just reaching the peak of his country music career as winner of a prestigious award. The only thing missing from his life is Rory Callahan, the girl he left behind when fame came calling. But when he returns to his hometown to win Rory back, he learns that his father has been diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s – a much rarer (and genetic) form of the disease.

Early onset Alzheimer’s affects only about 5% of the population but can begin as early as one’s thirties. Because it is hereditary, patients likely inherited it from a parent or grandparent. Like the more common form of Alzheimer’s, the disease steals gradually and with devastating effect.

Victims lose track of time – not only hours but years. It might be July, and an Alzheimer’s patient will be convinced it is Christmas…ten years earlier.

As the disease progresses, it is common to forget things that you once took for granted – how to tie a shoelace, turn on the television, make a phone call, or follow a recipe.

A victim of Alzheimer’s might lose their place in conversation, forget where they are or how they got there, or be unable to recall someone’s name, even if they’ve known them for years.

And to me, the worst part is that eventually, Alzheimer’s steals memories of loved ones and eventually, the ability to recognize them. It eats away at a person’s identity until they no longer know themselves or the people they love.

While this disease is devastating at any age, it is particularly challenging for those who develop the symptoms before the age of 65, which is when early onset begins. Fathers face the possibility of never walking their daughters down the aisle. Wives realize they may only have a handful of anniversaries left with their spouse. Children face the stark reality of losing their parents before they’ve even reached their teenage years.

Alzheimer’s steals in immeasurable ways.

So Sawyer faces a tough decision in A Song for Rory. Knowing he might inherit early onset Alzheimer’s from his father, he and Rory reach a crossroads where they have to determine whether their love can withstand the possibility of this life-shattering disease.

Because I’ve been so moved by the personal stories I read while researching this book, I’ll be donating a portion of all proceeds to Alzheimer’s charities. If you’d also like to donate, especially during the month of November, visit the National Alzheimer’s Association at www.alz.org

You can pre-order A Song for Rory on Amazon in paperback or for Kindle, Barnes & Noble in paperback or for Nook, or at Harlequin.com in paperback or eBook.

If you have a personal story to share about Alzheimer's, leave a comment below. I'd love to hear from you!

Be sure to check in next month, on December 9 when my blog partner, Loree, is back, and we share another edition of We Talk to Ourselves…A Lot!


About Cerella:

 CERELLA SECHRIST lives in York, Pennsylvania with two precocious pugs, Darcy and Charlotte, named after Jane Austen literary characters. Inspired by her childhood love of stories, she was ten years old when she decided she wanted to become an author. These days, Cerella divides her time between working in the office of her family’s construction business and as a barista to support her reading habit and coffee addiction. She’s been known to post too many pug photos on both Instagram and Pinterest. You can see for yourself by finding her online at www.cerellasechrist.com. A Song for Rory, Book #2 in her Findlay Roads series, releases in March 2017.