Thursday, November 30, 2017

Facebook Party & Upcoming December Author Giveaway! by Rula Sinara & Catherine Lanigan

Holiday shopping and celebrating is in full gear and we'd like to thank everyone who helped ring in the season at the Starry Nights & Romance Facebook Party yesterday! Congratulations to all who won prizes! A list of prize pack winners can be found at the party page (Starry Nights & Romance). Also, check the comments to see if you were a 'spontaneous' ebook winner and be sure to email the author who called out your name :). Missed the party? Even if winners have already been chosen, there are still tons of fun posts and comments you'd enjoy! Hop on over and check them out. Some of the authors will also be stopping by know...who wants to leave a happenin' party?

Plus...if you missed the Facebook giveaways, have no fear! We have more in store before the end of the year!

Be sure to stop back here at the Heartwarming Authors Blog this Saturday, Dec 2nd, for the launch of the December Release Authors blog giveaway event! Details on the huge prize pack Saturday!'ll want to see this prize pack :).

And if that's not enough, there's still time to catch the giveaways included in Catherine, Beth and Liz's tours! Details at Prism Book Tours...

If you missed Rula's tour for Every Serengeti Sunrise, you can catch her Grand Finale HERE.

Good luck to all who enter giveaway drawings and good cheer to all!

We wish everyone a season full of love, peace and joy.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Starry Nights & Romance Facebook Party today! by Rula Sinara

It's finally here!

Crisp, starry nights, crackling fires & romantic kisses...feel the romance!

Grab your hot cocoa and join holiday hostesses Catherine Lanigan, Liz Flaherty, Beth Carpenter and Rula Sinara as they celebrate their December Harlequin Heartwarming releases, along with releases by all of the October/November Harlequin Heartwarming authors: Kate James, Melinda Curtis, Amie Denman, Cheryl Harper, Karen Rock, Pamela Tracy, Leigh Riker and Patricia Johns.

And we have special treat for you...two Special Guests will be partying with us: past Harlequin Heartwarming author and current Grand Central success, the fab Jennifer Snow...and our beloved and newly retired Muriel Jensen, with her final release!

Get ready for some fun and a chance to win fabulous prizes!

Don't miss your favorite author! Check out the schedule below:

12:00 - Welcome & Giveaway Details
12:05 - Rula Sinara
12:20 - Jennifer Snow
12:35 - Karen Rock
12:45 - Pamela Tracy
12:55 - Catherine Lanigan
1:10 - Patricia Johns
1:20 - Cheryl Harper
1:30 - Liz Flaherty
1:45 - Kate James
1:55 - Beth Carpenter
2:10 - Muriel Jensen
2:25 - Leigh Riker
2:35 - Amie Denman
2:45 - Melinda Curtis
2:55 - Questions
3:00 - Party Ends

Pop on over to the Starry Nights & Romance event page and join the fun! Some of us have posted sneak peeks at our giveaway prizes and I bet if you go take a look, you won't be able to resist coming to the party. You never might win a prize! If you win, you can keep the goodies to yourself or use them as holiday gifts. And even if you don't win, you'll have a blast and we'll get you in the spirit of the season. We hope to see you there!

Happy Holidays from all of us!

Monday, November 27, 2017

Free Read: Thanksgiving with Her Boss

This month, I have a free read up on the Harlequin site! It was a lot of fun to write--a quick paced, short romance set in the same town as my November Heartwarming release--North Fork, Alberta.

That's right--this one has a Canadian setting... for American Thanksgiving. But it works, I promise! :)

So if you'd like to take a peek, it's up on the site and absolutely free!

A late-night kiss is the last straw. Emmie Thomas has tamped down her crush on her boss, Rob West, for almost a year, but she just can’t anymore. What else is there to do but quit and fly to her hometown of North Fork, Alberta, for her family Thanksgiving celebration?
When a mixup sends Rob to Alberta, too, he’s determined to get her back. But does he just want her to be his assistant again? Or is he finally ready to admit he wants something more?

You can see more of the Thomas family in their snowy northern town in my November release, A BOY'S CHRISTMAS WISH.

Friday, November 24, 2017

Black Friday Creeps North by M. K. Stelmack

I'm from Alberta, Canada. Americans know Canada as the same but different. Take Thanksgiving. Both sides of the border have turkey and family and long drives but we do it on the second Monday of October, soon after the actual harvest. In the past, we in The True North have merely observed the mayhem of the US Thanksgiving having survived ours a full six weeks previous.

Not quite so anymore.The last few years has seen Black Friday creep across the border. Speaking solely of my patch of Canada (other parts of Canada are also the same but different), it began maybe five, six years ago furniture outlets and department stores ran Black Friday specials through the weekend. I remember people asking, "What's Black Friday?" wondering if it signaled a massive power outage or market crash or a remembrance of some kind. Nope, just a sale.

Every year, Black Friday spread to more stores and the discounts swelled. It spawned, just like with the US, a cousin named CyberMonday and this year, the arrival of Red Thursday. Normal boundaries of time dissolved and one day became all week and weekend.

Yesterday on Red Thursday, my son's newspaper route required him to deliver this:

Really, the weekly newspaper was merely wrapping for the flyers which spread out looked like this:

The newspaper is the thin one at the top left. I admit that I caved and helped out my boy. 

I will also admit that the sales appeal to my thrifty side. Well, okay, every side of me is thrifty. I'm the kind of person who saves up my used teabags and then boils a pot of tea that tastes like--well, what you'd expect teas of different varieties and ages would taste like. Not two pots the same.

I digress. I sneak away with a cup of my 'whatever' tea to shop in the darkened, quiet bliss of online shopping. Also, not Canadian, and known only within my family, is the two pronunciations of shopping. When the accent is on the first syllable, shopping is the routine kind--groceries, new tires, light bulbs and so on. Shopping with the accent on the second, on the *ping* is a whole other breed. That's when you buy the cozy throw, the gold-trimmed platter, the Blahniks (okay, I wouldn't buy his shoes, either) get the idea. 

I know for all you Heartwarmers out there, it's the books, isn't it? Our brick-and-mortar bookstore had an 50% online Black Friday (but starts Thursday) on top titles and I went shop*ping*. Sadly, the few romances available were gone but I did score Ken Follett's big, fat Column of Fire and Palacio's Wonder and Brene Brown's Braving the Wilderness and Wohlleben's The Inner Life of Animals plus more..

Now over to Amazon to scoop more deals while my American friends are still in their turkey stupor...

Happy Thanksgiving and Happy Shop*ping*!!!

And speaking of deals, don't forget about this happening next week at a computer near you...

M. K. Stelmack will bring A ROOF OVER THEIR HEADS, her debut Spirit Lake heartwarmer to you in February, 2018. Spirit Lake is closely based on a real town in Alberta, Canada where she lives with pets who outnumber the humans two to one, and with dust bunnies the size of rodents because that’s what happens when everyone in the household prefers to live in their imagination or outdoors. She loves how vibrant and friendly and complex her lakeside community is and tries to inject the same heartwarming drama into her own stories.

Oh, oh, oh, wait, before you cover of four Fab Feb Heartwarmers.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Happy Thanksgiving from Cari Lynn Webb

My plans for the day include: cooking, eating and eating some more. My mom makes a fabulous apple pie. We'll throw in several rounds of cards as we have a rather intense family game of 31 going (although we do keep recycling the winnings for the next game so it seems my family wants to claim the title of winner more than add to their wallet, which is rather convenient because we only play with quarters. :) I'm thankful for another holiday that I get to share with my family and friends -another day to be together, laugh and add to the memory bank.

Let me know what your plans are for the day ... I love adding new things to my holidays :)

Happy Thanksgiving!
Cari Lynn Webb

THE CHARM OFFENSIVE by Cari Lynn Webb is out now! 

You can find her on Facebook and Twitter. 

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

What do you bring?

            As expected, our attentions are shifting into holiday mode. Second up: Thanksgiving (I consider Halloween as the first indicator of holiday time). Who doesn’t like Thanksgiving? Probably 50% of the female population. It’s a lot of work, but the payoffs are tremendous.
            This year my family is going to a friend’s house for dinner. We are each bringing a dish and a wine. My assignment is my usual green bean casserole as well as pumpkin pies and rolls.
            So how do you do Thanksgiving? Do you prepare the entire meal? Do you ask guests to contribute? Do you go out to a restaurant? If you go to someone’s house, do you bring your specialty dish? And what is it?
            Every Thanksgiving gives us plenty of memories to reflect on in the coming year. One of my memories involves a cute little Schnauzer I once had. This dog couldn’t eat turkey. I would tell everyone that, but still tiny bites would find their way to Shaney’s mouth under the table. For three years in a row, I spent Thanksgiving night at the emergency pet care hospital. Ah…the memories. Hope you'll share one of yours.
            Hope your day is happy and full of wonderful bites.


Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Relationships...Thanksgiving Day and Every Day

Anyone who has lived with a Labrador retriever knows these dogs are easy to train and eager to please. So when my yellow lab companion of seven years began to ignore me I wondered what was going on.

"Sunny. Here, girl." Instead of galloping to the back door this summer, she stood in the driveway and stared me down. Her big brown eyes said "Why?".

On our daily walks, I began to dread the appearance of other dog walkers. Not because Sunny wanted to fight. Sunny wanted to say hello! She would pull, and pull, and pull, until she was nose to nose with the newcomer. Visitors to our home were subjected to seventy-five pounds of jumping dog and multiple tongue swipes.

Something had to be done.

A search of the internet turned up a local kennel club class called SOS - Social Obedience Training. Lucky for me, the class started the following Monday.

I wasn't sure how Sunny would behave in a roomful of dogs and owners.

She loved it!

Class started with the basic commands and lots of treats. Sit, down, stay, leave it. Sunny and I had practiced these commands when she was a puppy, but we hadn't reviewed them for a long time.

Accustomed to having her around the house and usually working on the computer, I hadn't been throwing the ball or even talking to her very much. But after each class she became more and more responsive. Monday nights she seemed to know where we were going and eagerly jumped into the car. When I saw how happily she responded to the training and attention, I realized something. I had been ignoring my dog!

Often while apologizing to company for my jumping dog, I would joke she doesn't get any attention, because that is indeed how she acted. After seeing how she perked up in class, I'm afraid I was on to something.

I realized something else, too. The same thing applies to all relationships. Spouses or significant others, parents and children, old friends and new...every human being craves attention and praise. Like a Christmas poinsettia we forget to water after the holidays, our relationships can wither, too.

The upcoming holidays provide us with an opportunity to put this theory into action. Maybe you're not a fan of Aunt Zoe's fruitcake, but acknowledging the time and skill that went in to making it with a hearty "Thanks, Aunt Zoe!" goes a long way to reinforcing your familial ties. It's the human version of  Good Dog!.

Couples with small children often arrange a regular date night for a chance to focus on each other without the demands of the little ones. With Thanksgiving two days away, we have the perfect opportunity to focus on strengthening our relationships.

Sunny is back to her old chasing-the-ball, tail-wagging self. She is much better behaved on our walks and at the door. She just wanted some attention and praise for doing a good job.

And really, isn't that what we all want?

As always, enjoy the read and Happy Thanksgiving! 🦃🦃🦃🦃🦃

Monday, November 20, 2017

Who Else Doesn't Like Change?

You know the old saying, change is hard. I have to admit, I’m no exception. I tell people I’m flexible. Between you and me, that’s a lie. While I do try my best, the truth is I resist change and refuse to adapt without a fight − something that isn’t always in my best interest.

The past few years have seen a lot of changes for me, both good and bad. I left the corporate world to write full-time from home. I got married. I sold my house (which I loved) and moved into my husband’s house (which I don’t love). My daughter relocated to another state because of her job. My mother moved from her home of thirty-four years into a senior living community. Two surgeries in the past year have wreaked havoc with my schedule and required me to put in months and months of physical therapy. But the biggest change for me, and that’s only because it affects me on a daily basis, is my husband’s work schedule. Seriously, he’s driving me crazy!

As I mentioned above, I’m a creature of habit. I have a routine that’s worked well for many, many years. I’m a morning writer. I feel freshest in the a.m. hours when my creativity is at its peak. I like to get up, putter around the house for a bit, feed the pets, get my caffeine infusion, and soon after that plant myself in my chair and start writing. This works well for me because I tend to slow down in the afternoon, suffering a serious energy dip around 3:00. While I can manage a short burst in the late afternoon, by evening my mind is mush and I’m ready to relax a while before bed.

Here’s the problem with my husband (and truly he’s a wonderful guy with few faults). His schedule is constantly changing. When we were first dating, it changed every six months. Then, a year ago, he was promoted to a brand new position. Great, right? Yeah, except now his schedule differs literally from one moment to the next. He may start early today and late tomorrow. This week, his shift is four 10-hour days, next week his shift is five 8-hour days. He’ll go in Monday through Thursday in October and Tuesday through Saturday in November.

Argh! I have no time to adjust before the next change. Do I wait and have dinner with him at 9 p.m. or eat early and feed him leftovers? Get up with him at 4:30 in the morning or sleep in to a more reasonable hour? Plans are impossible to make until the last minute because who knows if he’ll be scheduled that day or not? Worst of all, there are days when he’s around and under foot during my preferred writing time. I’ll be typing away and he’ll suddenly wander into my office, sit in the chair and stare at me. When I ask what he wants, he replies, “Oh, just checking in on you.” By then, my concentration is completely shot. I don’t mean to complain, but for those of us who suffer from mild OCD, being in a constant state of flux is a form or torture.

Tell me, how do you adjust to change? I’m open to any suggestions as I’m seeing more changes in the near future – he recently mentioned the possibility of some short work trips coming up.

Warmest wishes,

Cathy McDavid

In the third grade, NY Times and USA Today best-selling author Cathy McDavid made it her goal to read every Black Stallion book ever written. Who knew such an illustrious ambition would eventually lead to a lifelong love of all things western and a career writing contemporary romances for Harlequin? With over 1.3 million books sold, Cathy is also a member of the prestigious Romance Writers of America’s Honor Roll. An “almost” Arizona  native, she lives with her own real-life sweetheart and spends her days penning stories about good looking cowboys riding the range, busting a bronc, and sweeping gals off their feet. It a tough job, but she’s willing to make the sacrifice.

Friday, November 17, 2017

5 Tips for the Pre-Holiday De-Cluttering by Sophia Sasson

My house is the cleanest and best looking right before we have company. Those few moments before guests show up, I always wonder why my house can’t look like that all the time. The answer of course is the never ending clutter of daily life. The junk mail that piles on the kitchen counter, the haphazardly hung coats and mismatched gloves in the entry, the desk papers and pens that seems to multiply overnight.

It doesn’t help that my kids, husband and I are all pack rats. I am too sentimental to get rid of things; my husband is convinced that he can repurpose every broken electronic gadget or appliance we have; and my kids have the worst of both of our traits.

So what do we do?

I don’t have all the answers but here are 5 things that work for me:
    Image result for clothes donation
  1. Donate clothes. Marie Kondo says  “discard anything that doesn't spark joy.” Great advice except for the sentimental ones like me who has kept the running team t-shirt from high school. Then there’s the advice to throw out anything you haven’t worn in a year. But what about that high school t-shirt? What worked for me is finding a local charity that has a list of high need clothing. They post pictures on their website of how donations of clothes help abused women looking for jobs. While it won’t get me to give up that high school t-shirt, I will let go of that super expensive suit that I haven’t fit into for 4 years but really hope to squeeze into someday.
  2. Kids toys. If you have young kids, the toys take over your house. A simple rule has really helped us get things under control. For every new toy my kids get, they must donate 2 old ones. They don’t even get to open Christmas presents until the requisite number of toys are in the donation box.
  3.  Kids art work and Adult post cards and keepsakes. That beautiful masterpiece created with love…times 400. Yes it’s adorable but there are lots more like it. I have an “art wall.” When it’s full, the kids have to take something down to add a new piece. If it’s really special, you can keep it or better yet take a picture of it for permanent keepsake. This works for all the postcards and other keepsakes adults have a hard time disposing of too.Related image
  4. The desk. I don’t understand where all the pens and papers come from but I send the pens to the kids school PTA. They often need it for crafts and events. Or throw them out. Especially the ones that don’t work. The papers—I can’t say I’m good about it but I have a triage system. Each piece must get filed, trashed, or dealt with by the end of the week. Coupons go in the car because I’m rarely walking to the store. 
  5. The entryway. We all do it. While we have one coat we usually wear, there are at least 2 jackets and 3-4 pairs of shoes per person in the entryway closet. Enforce the limit of 1. Yes I know, easier said than done. Try requiring the offender to pay a $1 per day fine for going over the limit. Then you can buy even more stuff to clutter your house. Just kidding.
A Heartwarming Thanksgiving: Snow Day Baby\Wedding at Turkey Run\Her Thanksgiving Soldier\Mr. Right All Along\Falling for the Cowboy\The Marriage Gift by [Vastine, Amy, Flaherty, Liz, Riker, Leigh, Snow, Jennifer, Sasson, Sophia, Quinn, Tara Taylor, Melinda Curtis, Karen Rock] At the end of the day, also remember to embrace the clutter. I remember life before kids when my house was pristine and looked like a model showpiece. Now it looks like a home. The clutter is what gives it the lived in warm and fuzzy feeling. Do what you can and cut yourself a break if you don’t get through it all.

I hope everyone has a great thanksgiving. Please don’t forget to check out the amazing November and December heartwarming releases and for those who want a little bit of themed reading, check out the thanksgiving anthology—at $0.99 it’s a heartwarming bargain.

I love hearing from readers, feel free to sign up for my newsletter or follow me on Twitter or Facebook.

So tell me, do you have a clutter nightmare or a decluttering tip for all of us?


Thursday, November 16, 2017

Gratefulness and unanswered prayers

by Helen DePrima

Thankfulness can take many forms. I hark back to a Garth Brooks song: "Thank God for Unanswered Prayers." I think of the times in my life when a loss turned out to be a gain, a disappointment made way for a greater good.

I never knew my mother; she died the day I was born, possibly an anesthesia death. I like to think she simply went to sleep at the happiest moment of her life, expecting to wake holding her new baby. Sometimes growing up, I dreamed about her, the dark-haired young woman in snapshots and portraits whose smile seemed to light my whole small world. A sad tale, except that I grew up with my grandparents and aunt on their Kentucky farm, a story-book childhood of fields and woods, horses and pet goats and lambs, kittens and chickens, with five cousins living barely a stone’s throw away.

Because I fell in love with all things Western after a dude ranch visit, I attended the University of Colorado with the express goal of finding a cowboy to marry. I should have done better research; all the cowboys were forty miles north at Colorado State. Instead I married an Italian from New Jersey, a husband who would go through fire or flood for me. With fifty years of marriage behind us, I have sense enough to be thankful for my unanswered prayer that brought me with him to New Hampshire rather than my earlier fantasy of life in Colorado.

After spending the better part of a year back home in Kentucky caring for my elderly aunt who raised me, I tried to write a personal account of returning to my childhood home, this time as the parent. A total non-starter – instead, I turned it into a novel of what my aunt’s life should have been except for giving up a Navy career to take my mother’s place. I’m proud of that book, which gave me the confidence to embark on my Cameron’s Pride series for Heartwarming.

Sometimes, the road not taken, the opportunity abandoned, deserve as much gratefulness as the way our lives do play out. Thank God for Unanswered Prayers

by Liz Flaherty

Helen and I wanted to visit Thanksgiving because, after all, it's November. I loved her path to thankfulness with all the twists and turns in it that make life so interesting. It also make me think of some of my own experiences with life happening while I was making other plans.
  • I wanted to move far away from where I grew up, where it was flat and boring and I'd had a less-than-happy childhood. I have spent the last 40 years living five miles from the house where I grew up. I love it there.
  • As I grew up, I gave little thought to having children. There would be plenty of time for that later. After I'd had all the other adventures I wanted to have, perhaps I would have one. No more than two. Instead, I had three--all by the time I was 23. Thank goodness.
  • I'm afraid of water. To the point of always preferring a shower to a tub. So one of my first post-retirement adventures was parasailing. Over the Gulf of Mexico. Or heaven, however you want to look at it.
  • One day in 1979, I skipped a day of work to take a civil service test an hour away from home. I never expected anything to come of it (other than losing a day's pay), but I passed the test--with less than flying colors--and went to work at the Post Office two years later. I retired after 30 years. 
In actuality, not much has gone according to plan. Not my plan, anyway. And for that, I am truly grateful.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

When is it too early for Christmas? by Syndi Powell

When is it too early for Christmas?  by Syndi Powell

I've been watching Christmas movies since before Halloween. I've also been listening to Christmas audiobooks since August. I can't help it. I love Christmas. The sense of anticipation and expectation. Family togetherness. And the belief that miracles could happen.

Not everyone starts celebrating Christmas as early as I do. In fact, there have been several memes on Facebook warning people not to start Christmas music before Thanksgiving. But I'll let you in on a secret: I've had it playing for weeks.

So when is the right time to start decorating for Christmas? To play Josh Groban's "Noel"? To watch "It's a Wonderful Life?" Is there a time limit for these things?

My dad worked retail at Montgomery Wards when I was little back in the early 1970s, and the store would start playing Christmas carols on November 1st. Christmas merchandise was brought out at the end of October before Halloween. So those who argue that retailers are starting the holidays sooner every year have a short memory. Retailers were ALWAYS early.

While I might not want every day to be Christmas, I don't think there is a set day that makes it acceptable to start celebrating. I also believe that it's different for everyone. There are some like me who start early before Thanksgiving. My mom waits to play Christmas music until the day after Thanksgiving. I have some friends who wait until December 1st or later.

I'm going to go back to watching my Hallmark Christmas movies and drinking my hot chocolate. And I'm sharing the photo of the ornament my dad made when he was just a kid. It's been in our family for over 60 years:

So when do you start celebrating Christmas?

Monday, November 13, 2017

I Wanted to be an Author

Once upon a time there was an author (Me!  Pamela Tracy).  You could have called me unpublished or the politically correct term of the time prepublished.  Didn't matter.  I wanted to write, sell, and see my books on a store's shelf - even better know that some stranger in a distant land (like Florida) might actually be relaxing on a chair and reading my book.

I did everything wrong.  My first manuscript was hundreds of pages long, single spaced (I'm telling the truth) and I didn't plot at all - nada.

I realized that "I knew nothing"(think Schultz), so I joined a creative writing class at a nearby college where I had a topnotch teacher, found a critique group, and as a posse most of the class (well,  the females) went to an RWA conference together.

I wrote and wrote and wrote and wrote.
Submitted, submitted, submitted, submitted.
got rejections, rejections, rejections, rejections.

When I finished one book, I started another.

At church one day, someone said to me, "Hey, you're trying to be a writer, right?"


"Well, Darlene Mindrup sold a book."

Huh?  Darlene Mindrup?  I didn't know she was writing.  She hadn't attending any creative writing class I was a part of.  What?  There'd been no mention of a critique group or going to conferences.


I'd been following "the plan. " You know what I'm talking about - do everything in order, check off boxes and all.

That's next Sunday I cornered Darlene.  "You sold a book?"

"Yes, to Barbour Publishing, a line called Heartsong."

"Never heard of them."

Darlene told me they were mail-ordered and then gave me a few.  I promptly sent them a book and heard nothing.  (Btw, Darlene told me she'd been so nervous when she sent her manuscript in that she hadn't separated the dot matrix pages)

For a year.

Then, I went to my first RWA National Conference.  Back in those days, ACFW didn't exist so all the Christian publishers came to RWA.  I signed up for an appointment with Rebecca Germany, pitched my book, and she said, "Sounds good, send it."

I told her she already had it.  She suggested I send it again.  I did.

Two months later I headed to my apartment mailboxes.  It was early afternoon, probably 4:00.  Back then, I was an elementary school teacher and finished at 3:00.

I found an envelope from Barbour inside the mailbox.  I ripped it open and saw, "If you make these revisions, we'd like to publish your book."

Yup, I was standing alone in front of a row of mailboxes whooping and jumping around like a happy mad woman.

I made the changes - btw, the edits were done by sticky notes put on the pages that needed changing.  That was my first book It Only Takes a Spark.

Cool beans, eh?
My first book ever.
It came out in 1999.
It was my fifth completed manuscript.

More than a decade later, I sold my first book to Heartwarming.

This is my seventh book with Harlequin Heartwarming
It came out this month!!!!!
Go ahead, read the blurb.
Did Tom Riley arrest the wrong woman? 

For six years, the Sarasota Falls police chief has been hunting the cunning beauty involved in his partner's death. Now here she is, back in his New Mexico town, her face a match to the one on the wanted posters. But the woman Tom Riley knows as Rachel Ramsey insists her name is Heather Graves. 

Is Heather really as innocent as she claims? And what is he supposed to do about their undeniable mutual attraction? As his search for answers uncovers secrets in Heather's past, Tom realizes that Heather is the woman he most wants…

Buy me

Friday, November 10, 2017

November: A Farewell to Autumn by Loree Lough and Cerella Sechrist

Now that we’ve put National Deviled Eggs Day (2nd), turning back our clocks for Daylight Savings Time (5th), and Marooned without a Compass Day (6th) behind us, we thought it might be fun to highlight a few more weird ‘national days’:

Feel free to have fun on Clean Your Fridge Day (15th), put that cake of yeast you found in the butter bin to use for Homemade Bread Day (17th), and drive your family and friends bonkers with all manner of trivia for National Absurdity Day on the 20th!

And what kind of pals would we be if we didn’t let you know that November is Adopt a Turkey Month!

Yes, National Authors’ Day (1st) is also behind us, but we can’t help but wonder…did you acknowledge National Family Literacy Day (also the 1st)? We know how we’ll celebrate I Love to Write Day (on the 15th)!

By now, you know how fond we are of cooking and baking (and eating!), so we’re sure you aren’t surprised that we want to share two of our favorite Thanksgiving-type recipes with you:

Au Gratin Potato Casserole (You can enlarge and print the recipe card at this link.)

Grandmom’s Chocolate Cake (You can enlarge and print the recipe card at this link.)

With Thanksgiving right around the corner (25th), we’re compelled to draw your attention to two of our Heartwarming novels: Did Sam Marshall hear yes or no when he proposed to Finn during the big turkey dinner scene in The Firefighter’s Refrain? And what did Rory say after Sawyer realized the possibility of his early onset Alzheimer's diagnosis would jeopardize their future together in A Song for Rory? Much as we’d love to share ‘spoilers,’ we’d rather see you read the stories to find out!

And have you seen the covers for our next Heartwarming releases? Bringing Rose Home from By Way of the Lighthouse series by Loree releases in January, and The Way Back to Erin (the third installment in Cerella's Findlay Roads Story series) is coming in February! Both books are available for pre-order now!

Until we see you again in December, we wish all of you a bountiful, happy, and healthy Thanksgiving!

About Loree:

With nearly 7,000,000 books in circulation, best-selling author Loree Lough's titles have earned numerous 4- and 5-star reviews and industry awards. She splits her time between her home in Baltimore and a cabin in the Alleghenies (where she loves to show off her “Identify the Critter Tracks” skills). She has 115 books in print. Loree loves to hear from her readers and answers every letter, personally. Visit her at Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and!

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 A Song for Rory, Book #2 in her "A Findlay Roads Story" series, is her fourth Harlequin Heartwarming novel.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Tracing Your Roots by LeAnne Bristow

Thanks to a vast array of genealogy websites, tracing your family's heritage is easier than ever. For a nominal fee, you can even submit a vial of saliva and find out much more about your family than just where they came from. But why is it so popular now? I think many people are searching for something and I'm not just talking about where their ancestors may have come from. Is it because people are looking for a place to belong? Looking for an identity? Are we needing to fill a void in our life by finding things in common with others? Or are they just really curious about things?

For me, my search begin to either prove (or disprove) an outrageous story that one of my aunts told me about. Wait. No. Back up. It really started when my fourth grade teacher assigned a project. We were to interview family members about our ancestors and then research information about that country. I interviewed my maternal grandfather. He loved to tell stories about his father traveling from Alabama to Texas in a covered wagon, so I knew he would be the one to talk to. During our interview, he said his grandmother talked about coming to America on a ship from Holland. Holland. I was excited. My ancestry was Dutch. For the next ten years, I told everyone I was Dutch. My favorite flower became the tulip. I had pictures of windmills all over my room.

I even got my mother's family involved in searching for information about our Dutch roots. One of my aunts went thorough some boxes of things in the attic searching for pictures and swore she found a letter proving that one of our ancestors was actually part of the royal family. According to her story, the daughter of the king chose love over title and forfeited her birthright when she married a commoner. These two young lovers made their way to the American colonies to begin a new life. Ahhh...young love. Is it any wonder I became a romance writer???

When the internet made searching for our ancestors much easier to do, I began my research in earnest. I was dying to find out about this young couple. But it wasn't true. Not one bit of it could be proven. My great-great grandmother DID come on a ship from Holland. But she boarded the ship in Ireland. The ship docked for a short time in the Netherlands before heading to America. She met and married another Irish immigrant. So surprise surprise, my heritage was not Dutch, but Irish. And although my ancestors may not have chosen love over money and titles, I'd still like to imagine that their story was epic. I'm still trying to find out why they left Ireland and what brought them from Ohio where they were married to Texas.

What about you? Are your love stories inspired by stories in your family? Tell me about them!!!

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Thanksgiving Lite by Carol Ross and Amy Vastine

It's getting close to that time of year when Carol and I tend to overindulge a bit thanks to all the delicious holiday goodies that come out of the kitchen. In years past, I haven't worried about it at all ... and my waistline suffered for it. This year, I am 80 pounds lighter and have no desire to bulk back up even though temptation lurks in every corner! In my journey to be a healthier me, I have learned a lot about finding healthy alternatives - simple things like swapping ground turkey for ground beef or using greek yogurt instead of oil when I bake. It got me thinking, what can I do to lighten up Thanksgiving, the day so many Americans fill their plates and loosen their belts? Carol and I pulled out our recipe books and scoured Pinterest for some ideas. Here are some tasty alternatives to some Thanksgiving favorites that won't make you afraid to step on the scale on Black Friday.

Mashed Potatoes
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Carol suggestion: In this current carb-cutting craze that’s sweeping the nation, I think potatoes are getting a bad rap. The problem is that we tend to fry them or load them up with butter and sour cream. A plain medium-sized potato is fiber-rich and fat-free, only has about 110 calories, and contains more potassium than a banana. Pro-potato campaign aside, what would Thanksgiving dinner be without a pile of them all mashed up? Here’s healthier option for this normally whip cream and butter laden dish: Leave the skin on the potatoes, scrub and cut in small chunks. Boil in chicken broth with a few cloves of garlic. When they’re done, drain the spuds but leave some of the broth. Slice larger pieces with a knife to break up the skin and then mash. Add lite cream cheese and buttermilk to your desired consistency. Season to taste.

Amy's suggestion: I agree that potatoes aren't so bad on their own, but I prefer to save my carbs for the rolls my mom makes on Thanksgiving (I'm not giving those up, sorrynotsorry). Instead of mashed potatoes, how about mashed cauliflower? This veggie is so versatile. I often use riced cauliflower instead of rice when I make stir fry. Saves me tons of calories and tastes great.  Mashing some up with light cream cheese, a little milk, salt and pepper gives you a tasty and much lower calorie alternative to those creamy mashed taters we all love. They're so light, you won't have to skip the gravy!

Green Bean Casserole
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Amy's suggestion: Oh my, who doesn't love veggies covered in thick cream soup and topped with crunchy onion straws? Green bean casserole made eating my vegetables much less horrible as a kid, but it's definitely not the healthy way to get our greens. My substitution is simple, there are so many lighter versions of everything out there. Instead of the fat-full cream of mushroom soup, add something like Campbell's Healthy Request cream soup and some skim milk. Make your own onion crisps by tossing some onion in flour, salt, and pepper and bake them until they're crunchy. With these small changes, you can save half the calories and fat!

Carol's suggestion: One of my go-to strategies for holiday meals, potlucks, and buffets is always to fill up on vegetables and then eat less of the good (bad) stuff. As an alternative to creamy vegetable dishes like green bean casserole and loaded broccoli bake, toss your favorite veggies in olive oil, sprinkle with coarse salt and fresh ground pepper and roast in the oven at 425° for 10 to 15 minutes. I like a mix of cauliflower, broccoli, zucchini and red bell peppers. By the time I eat my fill of these, I eat waaay less of the unhealthier stuff.

Pumpkin Pie
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Carol's suggestion: Pumpkin pie is hands-down one of my favorite desserts. (Yes, it’s true, I have a lot of favorites.) The problem I have with pumpkin pie is that my serving size tends to be pie-sized. When it comes to sugar, moderation isn’t my strong suit. Recently, I made this pumpkin dip as an alternative to pumpkin pie. It still contains “sugar” but it’s a less refined and slightly healthier version. Plus, you get to skip the unhealthy crust and get the added benefit of a serving of fruit.

Amy's suggestion: Dessert. We have to have it. Even when we're trying to be health-conscious, that sweet tooth must be satisfied or we might just eat that whole pie out of desperation! I'm all about simple changes and this is my simplest. I make my pumpkin pie with Swerve, a sugar alternative that's perfect for my dad, who is diabetic, because it doesn't affect blood glucose levels. Did I mention it has zero calories? Oh, it does. Besides the sugar swap, I use skim milk instead of evaporated milk and two egg whites in place of one of the eggs in the recipe. Another tip - roll your crust a little thinner and get rid of the excess to save you some calories. You won't miss them, I promise!

We hope you find some of these suggestions helpful as you plan your Thanksgiving meals. Here's Carol's Pumpkin Dip recipe to get you started!

Got any healthy holiday alternatives? We'd love to hear them!