Friday, February 23, 2018

Do You Vow To Exercise More? by Roz Denny Fox


Every magazine I pick up seems to remind that wellness and health greatly depends on a person remaining physically fit. And to stay physically fit requires, aak, exercise.

There seems to be enough studies done to prove that regular exercise helps to keep your heart, lungs, muscles, joints and brain strong. Those are worthy goals in and of themselves. But recently I read that exercise is a mood-booster which helps in relieving mild to moderate anxiety or depression.

I have no idea if there is more mild depression among the people I know or see posting on my Facebook page than anywhere else, but someone mentioned depression can plague those with creative minds. Since that includes most who will read this blog, it says to me that we should make time for more exercise.

Now it seems to me that the type and amount of exercise a body does depends on a variety of things. Age and past life-style playing the primary consideration along with checking with your primary care doctor to see that all vital organs are in good enough shape to begin an exercise routine.

Something else I read is that the best fitness plan is one that combines aerobic activity with strength building and stretching. To get the most benefit a person should exercise for an hour about five times a week. That includes ten minutes of warm up, forty minutes of exercise and ten minutes to cool down.

I’ve found that for me, taking a morning walk is the easiest, and something I can more readily make time for. This past year I had to lay off walking for a while as I somehow hurt one knee and ankle, then learned I needed surgery to remove a tumor that ran under or around my sciatic nerve. Recovery took time and when I thought I could get back to walking my usual route it turned out not to be something I could jump right back into.

So now it’s plain to me that muscle loss can play havoc with a normal fitness plan. In any event it’s wise to start slowly and build. You know how some enthusiasts say “no pain, no gain”? My doctor said that isn’t true. If you detect pain, something is amiss.

Depending on your mobility you have choices. Maybe you walk or swim or cycle. But you could be someone who’d rather dance or use an elliptical machine. I recall a time my husband and I would buy whatever exercise machine we saw advertised. A rowing machine ended up under the bed. A treadmill and stepper machine both became places to hang clothes ready for laundry. Unused machines don’t help your health. And paying for a gym doesn’t do any good unless you go.

A fitness trainer on Dr. Oz once said it’s good to do pushups in your living room. Or if you spend time in the kitchen, raising and lowering a soup can in each hand ten times helps build muscle. Stretching when you first get up in the morning helps you be more flexible. That may improve your balance which might prevent a fall.

The upshot is that being physically fit lets you live longer, and to enjoy living longer means you want the best quality of life. So as much as I might try to avoid the dreaded term, “exercise”, I like my independence which means taking care of the body I’ve ended up with.

Notice I didn’t bring up the word, diet. That’s a whole other part of remaining physically fit. Anyone out there care to take on that lecture in the new year?

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Hello Spring! Hello Cleaning! By Cari Lynn Webb

Spring brings with it a wonderful sense of renewal and I’m ready to welcome the new season. I wanted to share the cover of my May Release, THE DOCTOR’S RECOVERY as this cover puts me in the mood for all things Spring.

Before I can stop to smell the roses (and dig out my allergy medicine), I need to meet my March 1st deadline. And once I hand in my manuscript, there’s a bit of cleaning up to do in my office (and if I’m honest, the rest of the house). I suppose that means I’ll be rounding up the family for some Spring cleaning very soon. There’s something refreshing about tucking away the winter blankets, cozy sheets and jackets then replacing all that with beach towels, running shorts and flip flops.

But I can already hear the groans from my daughters-cleaning doesn’t rank on a teenager’s priority list. Although to be fair, I’ve come to realize my teenagers’ priority lists are relatively simple: food, sleep, reading, all things social media related and more sleep. Perhaps if I turn cleaning the house into a series of social media posts, I might garner more enthusiasm from my daughters.

However, I do have a back-up plan: desserts. As I mentioned, food ranks on my teenagers’ priority lists, especially the homemade baked kind. (And just to make things more interesting in our house, hormones have been increasing the cravings for all things sugar recently. I’ll save the mood swings for another post 😊). I think I’ve mentioned before that I like to bake after I meet a deadline and my family likes my new habit too.

In honor of Spring’s impending arrival, here are a few recipes I’ve added to my March baking list (aka bribery list for cleaning without whining). Oh and I’m happy to share my desserts if you find yourself in my neighborhood. And please, if you have a favorite recipe, share it. 😊

  1. Lemon Blueberry Cheesecake Cake ~ for those days when we can’t decide between cake and cheesecake. (Recipe here: )
  2. Strawberry Shortcake No Churn Ice Cream ~ for those days we want something cold and refreshing (Recipe here: )
  3. White Chocolate Raspberry Bundt Cake ~ it’s all in the title (Recipe here:

 Here’s the blurb for my May 2018 release, THE DOCTOR’S RECOVERY:

When a doctor and a filmmaker reconnect . . . just who is healing whom?

Two years ago, Dr. Wyatt Reid shared an unforgettable goodbye kiss with Mia Fiore. Now a scuba diving accident brings the daredevil documentary filmmaker into his San Francisco ER. Could this be their shot at a real relationship? But Wyatt, haunted by family tragedy, saves lives, and Mia risks hers every day. Can they find the way to a future on both their terms?

Happy Reading!
Cari Lynn Webb

THE DOCTOR’S RECOVERY ~ Available May 2018
Pre-Order Now!

You can find Cari on Facebook and Twitter. 

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Recipes for a Date Night In {by Laurie Tomlinson}

Just because Valentine's (or Galentine's!) Day is over doesn't mean the fancy has to end. Whether you're cooking for a loved one, some girlfriends, or solo with a good book, make a date to stay in with something a little more luxurious than normal on your table. This way you can save money, stay in your pajamas where it's warm and cozy if you want to, and get the satisfaction of serving and eating something you made with your own two hands.


Love these ideas from some of my favorite food bloggers:

Did you have fun Valentine's Day plans or stay in like we did? For your fancy date night in, are you more of a steak or seafood or pasta kind of gal? (Or are you just in it for the dessert? We don't judge!)

About the author: Laurie Tomlinson is an award-winning contemporary romance author and cheerleader for creatives. She believes that God’s love is unfailing, anything can be accomplished with a good to-do list, and that life should be celebrated with cupcakes and extra sprinkles. Her debut novel, With No Reservations, is now available from Harlequin Heartwarming. You can connect with Laurie on her websiteFacebook page, and Instagram.

With my date :)

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

On the Road by T.R. McClure

As do many of my fellow Heartwarming authors, I enjoy traveling. Last year I wrote a blog about airports and how much I like them. Some comments were positive, others detailed travel nightmares. Lately I've been traveling more by car than plane, however. And according to statistics, so are a lot of other people. Apparently low gas prices have people choosing automobiles over planes and trains.

One of my non-writing activities is teaching defensive driving. Writers hold a lot of conversations in their heads. Teaching helps remind me it's healthy to have actual conversations. This week I received my schedule for the summer and as usual started me thinking about my driving habits. I thought I'd share some of those thoughts with you.
The good news is cars today are much safer than they used to be. After buying a new car last year, it took me a while to adjust to the differences between the old and the new. My favorite new technologies are  blind spot monitoring and the backup camera. The lane departure warning system warns me sometimes to pull over and have a cup of coffee. Sometimes the warning goes off as I'm drinking a cup of coffee. Occasionally there's a donut with that coffee. As with most technology, it takes time and practice to adjust.

The bad news is there is so much to distract from our task of paying attention to the road. Inside and outside the car.
Everyone knows distracted driving is one of the biggest problems on the road. The obvious and the one most people think of is the use of the cell phone while driving. The act of sending a text causes a driver to take her eyes off the road for about five seconds, the length of a football field if traveling at 55 mph. Others include changing the radio station, checking GPS, and even drinking that cup of coffee.  I like coffee on an early morning trip and I also like to listen to books on tape if I'm driving by myself. I tell my students to use their best judgement. If you're in the city, rush hour traffic, the safest thing is to eliminate every distraction possible.
A lot of accidents happen at intersections, especially for older drivers. A suggestion is to find an intersection with a traffic light. Exits at malls, for example, offer both types. So why not choose the exit that controls the traffic for you?
Last week, on a surprisingly balmy day for central Pennsylvania, I looked in my rear view mirror and spied a motorcyclist. We don't often expect to see motorcycles or bicycles out and about in February. Many states require at least three feet of distance when you pass a bicyclist on the road. Pennsylvania law requires four feet.
Most of us have been driving since we were sixteen and the act of getting in the car and pulling out onto the highway is second nature. But next time you prepare for a trip, short or long, take care of the possible distractions before you put the car in drive. Have a safe trip!

As always, enjoy the read. Just not while you're behind the wheel!


Monday, February 19, 2018

Fight or Flight.

That's how we respond when we're in trouble, right?

I'm in flight mode.

It's absolutely the wrong response. Right now, I'm up to my eyeballs in accounting, the day job. I had two people working with me, and one has moved on, and I haven't found a replacement. I'm not sure long term I want one, and short term, I don't have time to find someone and train them. This is the busiest time of the year for my business.

This isn't the first time I've been swamped. I took on too much when I was a one person business, and I ended up with bursitis/frozen shoulder from too much accounting. I was working evenings and weekends, and I got an accounting injury. It's true, it happened, and it wasn't even a paper cut.

I'm trying this time to not work evenings and weekends because of injury and work life balance, but in any case, what I'm wanting to do is run, figuratively.

That means, instead of knuckling down and just getting stuff done, every time there's another email or phone call with someone wanting something else done, I'm trying to flee. Find something on the internet to read, pick up a book, find something around the house to do. Which is wrong. I just want to hide out until it's over, but it won't be over till I get it done.

I know I'll get through it. I did when I gave myself bursitis, and also the year I was working full time, taking accounting courses, doing a second job and then decided to make all my Christmas presents by hand. We call that as the crazy Christmas around here.

I realized, in my book coming out next month, that I wrote a female protagonist with a very different response. When Bridget gets in trouble, she faces it head on.

Bridget had a bad feeling and knew exactly where to look for answers. She stalked down the hallway to Wally the Weasel’s office.
He wasn’t there, so she sat in a chair to wait for him.
Bridget’s temper smoldered as she read the email Monica forwarded. Wally had included everyone but her; that was obviously deliberate. By the time Wally showed up, Bridget was ready to ignite.
Wally was almost around his desk before he noticed Bridget sitting in one of the visitor chairs.
“Oh, Bridget.” He swallowed. “I didn’t see you there. I’m kind of busy...” His voice trailed off as Bridget stood up and closed the door firmly.
“So what’s going on, Wally?”
“The name is Walter—” He scurried behind his desk as he saw the look on Bridget’s face. He swallowed again. “You mean about the pool, I suppose.”
“Yes, you suppose right. Yet, again, you’ve failed to notify me about something important to my job.”
“Oh, dear, did you not get the email? Maybe your server?”
“Cut the crap, Wally,” Bridget answered. “There were a couple of emails, all of them connected to the pool and this problem you’d detected, but I wasn’t on any of them. I’m the swim coach, and I was never asked about it, or told that there was an issue.”
“I’m not sure I like your attitude—”
Bridget stood up. “And I don’t like your crap. You’ve had it in for me ever since I started that swimming program. What is wrong with you?”
Bridget’s voice was rising. She leaned over his desk, gripping the wooden edge to resist the temptation to grab him around his weaselly neck.

A month from now, it'll be over. And I'll feel much better. But right now, instead of working, I'm doing a blog post. Flight response.

How do you handle these situations? Are you like me, or more like Bridget? Fight or flight?

Just wanted to add:  Happy Family Day!  I didn't realize it was a holiday up here in Canada, partly because with no kids in school I didn't get notice that teachers were not going to be taking care of my kids, partly because working for myself at home there was no discussion about a day off, and partly because of the craziness I described above. I hope you all are having a better Family Day than I am!

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Sit-Down Saturday with Cerella Sechrist (The Way Back to Erin)

Welcome to Sit-Down Saturday! Today, I'm featuring my latest release, The Way Back to Erin, the third book in my A Findlay Roads Story series.

This is the third book in the A Findlay Roads Story series. Tell us a little bit about the town of Findlay Roads.

As I mentioned in my last post, the town of Findlay Roads is loosely based on several Chesapeake Bay area towns, including Havre de Grace, MD. Because I’m a history lover, I had to create the town’s early origins, even if they never made it into the story. But I was able to use that information in Harper’s Wish when Rory talks about how Findlay Roads came to be: “…it was founded by an Irishman. Donal Findlay came over before the start of the French and Indian War and brought his entire family with him. They settled this area, and old man Findlay’s descendants have been a rich part of this town’s history, participating in the Revolution, the War of 1812 and even ferrying slaves across the bay so they could escape to Canada and find their freedom.”

If you’re a history buff like me, I’d recommend researching other Chesapeake Bay towns and their history. There are some great stories out there!

Concord Point Lighthouse, Havre de Grace, MD (photo: Cerella Sechrist)

Do you have any actors in mind for any of the characters?

Many authors have someone in mind for the characters in their novels, and I'm no exception. In fact, I have a friend who is currently reading in the book, and she asked me (as she often does when she reads my writing!) who I imagine in the hero and heroine's role. I've always thought Jewel Staite had the strength but wholesome innocence that personifies Erin. And in case you're wondering, my friend agreed!

Burke is a little trickier, and I had a couple people in mind while writing the role, but I think Dan Stevens (any Downton Abbey fans out there?) makes a good choice to reflect Burke's wounded and wary nature but also his kindness and loving heart.

I'm a Pinterest addict, and I have an entire board devoted exclusively to the Findlay Roads series, so if you want more visuals on the cast, the town, and the story, make sure you follow me there!

What was the hardest thing about writing this story?

While each of the stories in the Findlay Roads series has some difficult, true-to-life element at their core, I think this one carried a lingering weight given all the grief both Burke and Erin have experienced in their life. I didn’t expect this book to be quite as challenging, on an emotional level, as the others. The other stories deal with some devastating subject matter such as Early Onset Alzheimer’s, fractured families, and infertility. But I underestimated the power of grief, which is the central conflict for Burke and Erin. As I said in my Reader Letter at the beginning of the book:

“Grief is a tricky thing. It has no timetable. It is not bound by the constraints of a five-step process. It will catch you unawares, lulling you into a false sense of security one hour, only to strike you savagely with the reminders of your loss in the next.”

But I ended with: “Grief will tie you up, cut you deep, and hold you down. But it will not keep you there forever.”

The best, but also the hardest, thing about The Way Back to Erin was bringing both Burke and Erin through the sphere of grief they were stuck in. It was a story with no easy answers because life itself is not easy. They had to work for their happily ever after, just as the rest of us do. But it was also extremely satisfying to wrestle with them and their emotions through the book and then see where they ended up and knowing they deserved to be there. You’ll just have to read the book to see what I mean!

Do you have any interesting trivia from writing the book?

I always find it fun when authors share "behind the scenes" tidbits about their works. One from this story is that Kitt, Erin's son, nearly went through a name change in the series’ first book. One of my editors pointed out that I had a lot of gender-neutral names scattered throughout the cast of the series (Kitt, Rory, Peyton, Jamie, etc. – all of which could be used for either a male or a female.) She requested I change several of these to eliminate any confusion. I very nearly changed Kitt's name until my sister made a request that I keep it because she felt it was a good choice for his character. As I wrote the book, I was glad I did. Kitt seems to fit Erin’s son very well. (In case you're wondering, Peyton became Paige, the oldest sister in the Worth clan, and Jamie became Connor, the hero in Harper’s Wish.)

Do you have a theme song for the story?

While I wouldn't say I have a theme song for The Way Back to Erin, there is one song I listened to many times when I was writing the book. It was Heart Hope by Oh Wonder. The mood of the music just worked for so many scenes in the story. I actually listened to it repeatedly when I wrote the scene mentioned below.

Do you have a favorite scene?

I have several, but the one that probably moved me the most while writing was between Burke and great aunt Lenora, the woman who raised him after his parents died, and he and his brother had been shuffled around from home to home until Lenora took them in. Here’s a snippet:


She clasped her hands on the table. “I know you’ve never seen this place as your home. Gavin did. But not you.”

The knot remained lodged in his throat. “I’m not sure I could see any place as home, after my parents died.” He drew a breath. “And I’m sorry, that I wasn’t able to be more like Gavin.”

“More like Gavin?”

“Yeah. That I couldn’t…I don’t know. He just, he had a way…” Burke broke then, the tears for his brother rising unexpectedly. “He was a healer. Gavin had that gift of making the worst situation better because he had faith. I could never be like that. And I’m sorry. I know you loved him better, that everyone loved him better…and he’s the one that’s gone.”

He lowered his head and let the tears flow, so overwhelmed by his grief that he didn’t realize Aunt Lenora had moved from her chair and come to his side until he felt her lay her head on top of his.

“Oh, dear child.” He felt the weight of her small frame, leaning on him. He’d grown accustomed to her not touching him. It had never been her way. But feeling her so close to him now was soothing. “I never loved him better. Just differently. You were the one who captured my heart.”

These words stunned him. He straightened, and so did she.


She gave a short nod. “You and Gavin were so different. He saw the light in the world and tried to preserve it. I think that’s why he joined the army. He wanted to protect what he valued. But you…you see the truth. The only problem is you don’t always know how to live with that truth. Gavin may have made the world brighter, but you, sweet boy, make it matter.”


Is there anything else you’d like readers to know?

I love celebrating the release of a book with themed giveaways, and The Way Back to Erin is no exception! I’m participating in a group giveaway with my fellow February authors to help four lucky readers “Warm Up this Winter”, but I also have another giveaway going on exclusively for my Author News subscribers. If you’d like to sign up for my newsletter, you’re eligible to enter to win the prize package featured below. Make sure you enter soon, though, the sweepstakes ends on Monday! Just click the links to enter either giveaway for a chance to win!

Click here to enter my Author Newsletter giveaway!

Click here to enter the Warm Up this Winter giveaway!

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. 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 The Way Back to Erin, Book #3 in her "A Findlay Roads Story" series, is her fifth Harlequin Heartwarming novel.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Valentine's Romance Trivia ~ ala Harlequin

by Shirley Hailstock

This month, as you know from all the Valentine's Day blogs, we celebrated a day of love. Harlequin Enterprises, as the largest romance publisher, joined in the celebration of that day by sponsoring a promotion for authors and readers. They set up a program called Romance Trivia and Terri Brisbin and I hosted it. Terri writes Harlequin Historicals.

We went to a bookstore, a real store with shelves and clerks and other readers to meet in the stacks and talk about what books we've read and recommend. (The experience online is not the same.) Booktrader of Hamilton is an independent store in Hamilton, NJ owned by Joan Silvestri. She is super romance friendly and whenever I go in her store, she and her staff make me feel like a queen.

On the Saturday before Valentine's Day, Joan had put up signs, sent out texts, emails and posted on her Facebook page about the Romance Trivia event. Harlequin sent a box of materials, including the trivia questions and answers and prizes for the winners.

After Terri and I set up the area, we started the three rounds of questions. And then the fun began. Joan started passing the chocolate and cream puffs around. Terri read the questions. I partnered with one of the teams and Joan kept score.

The questions weren't always on books, some were about movies or popular culture figures (ala Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez).  There were a few questions we disagreed with, like; After seeing Niagara Falls, who said it was the second greatest disappointment for American wives? (Answer: Oscar Wilde).

There were teams who got logical and started using our old high school methods of test taking to rule out the obvious wrong answers. And in several cases, we were wrong. But the laughter was worth it.

There was also the questions on which we needed a third opinion. There was Joan with her computer open and Google ready.  When we argued over if Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward met on the set of The Long Hot Summer, Google informed us that they met in 1952. The movie was filmed in 1957.  So Harlequin's answer was correct. Do you think they used Google, too?

There was the need to find a song and let the group hear it. The question was: A popular song from the movie, The Bodyguard is I will Always Love You sung by Whitney Houston. Who wrote this song? (answer: Dolly Parton). Since the group couldn't imagine Dolly singing it (we'd heard the Whitney Houston version too many times), Joan pulled it up on Youtube and we listened.

Here's a link if you want to hear Dolly sing:

It was a wonderful day, with great readers. They were so good that we sat around talking for two hours after the program ended.

They were all A+ readers and trivia buffs.