Monday, February 29, 2016

Where Do People Come Up with This Stuff by Melinda Curtis

Recently, an organization I'm involved in asked me to fill out a form so they could put up a bio of me on their website. Now, some of you may be thinking "I much prefer answering those questions to writing a bio." Allow me to change your mind. Here is a sampling of their questions.

1. Tell me three words that describe yourself starting with A, B, and C.

I'm a little anal, so I spent a few minutes trying to figure out if they wanted three words that described me that started with A, B, and C...You see where I'm going with this? My mind easily made the linkage for word A and word B, then my filter came on and screamed: bad words-bad words-bad words!!!

I chose athletic, broadminded, and cranky. Erased cranky and wrote crazy-busy. Yes, I know. I got stuck on my ABCs.

2. What are your three favorite things?

Now this can really get a girl into trouble. You can go the politically correct route (my pets, my children, my significant other...might want to reverse that order). Or you can go with honesty and the things you really enjoy (wine, coffee, sitting outside and drinking wine or coffee). Either way, you sound really boring!

3. Do you have a philosophy of life?

Did anyone else hear my head thunk? Let's go with cliches for $500, Alex: Carpe Diem!

Where do people come up with this stuff? 

How would you answer the three questions above?

As usual, both writers and readers are encouraged to comment, but only readers will be in the
running to win a free ebook from my backlist.

Melinda Curtis is a USA Today bestseller. Her latest Heartwarming release is Make Me a Match, an anthology with Anna J. Stewart and Cari Lynn Webb.

Friday, February 26, 2016


A few times a year Metropolitan Life Insurance Company sends out a wonderful newsletter to account holders. It’s called: Life Advice. And quite often I find myself wanting to share some of the information they provide that in general is geared toward a person’s health and well-being.

The article I found interesting this year talks about keeping your brain young. As I get older I find myself thinking more and more about keeping as much of myself “young” as is humanly possible. I think especially for writers, tips on healthy brain function is most appropriate.

The newsletter said these particular tips were compiled from The Journal of the Alzheimer’s Association; Medscape on an article about strokes; and The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology.

Brain, heart and body are all areas that can contribute to cognitive decline if they become unhealthy. I hear people joking about forgetting something and mentioning Alzheimer’s, or old timer’s disease as some refer to it in teasing fashion. But I for one wince at such jokes. Because I’m a worrier, and I worry about dementia and other illnesses like diabetes and stroke.

So I’m going to share some of the thoughts to consider for helping keep your brain young that I gleaned from the latest Life Advice Newsletter.

1.    Get Moving—No matter how unappealing do regular cardiovascular exercise that raises your heart rate. The article mentions, walking, biking, and swimming all helps blood flow to the brain. Studies show there is a positive correlation between physical activity and lessened risk of cognitive decline.

2.    Consider the power of food—Think of food as a powerful form of medicine. A healthy diet that cuts back on sugar and other processed foods can help stave off numerous diseases. The brain reacts better to a healthy diet.

3.    Sound sleep—(boy this is an area I should worry about—I’m an insomniac) Studies on sleep-deprivation correlate with raising the risk of obesity, depression, accidents and brain function decline. (OK—I need to fix my insomnia) Your memory and thinking are negatively affected by not getting enough sleep.

4.    Take classes/study—Formal lifetime learning helps prevent dementia and cognitive decline.

5.    Say no to smoking—Studies show smoking diminishes your health in so many ways, and smoking hastens cognitive decline.

6.    Take care of your heart—According to studies, health conditions which raise the risk of cardiovascular disease or stroke, such as obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, etc, also harm the brain. Much about taking care of your heart goes back to exercise and healthy diet.

7.    Protect your head—It stands to reason that head injuries are linked to declining brain function. Using helmets when biking, skiing, horseback riding, skateboarding, etc. guard against a slip and fall that may cause brain injury.

8.    Stay engaged—Social well-being helps keep your brain healthy.

9.    Seek out challenges—New hobbies, pets, playing cards, crossword puzzles, hand crafts—any new activity that encourages your mind to think and learn will surely benefit your brain now and over time.

10. Become involved—Studies show that a greater sense of purpose may well protect an aging brain.

Lastly this article notes that a person’s willingness to share wisdom and experience helps your brain and sets a good example for younger generations. So my big takeaway from this last part is that what Heartwarmers are doing with doing our informative blogs, and interacting with one another, plus brain-storming, plotting, and writing our books is one big thing we’re all doing to help keep our brains young. I need to exercise more, and sleep better. What about you?

Thursday, February 25, 2016

What’s your dream… by Cari Lynn Webb

February was my debut release month with Harlequin Heartwarming. I’ll admit to shedding a few tears when the box of Make Me A Match books arrived at my house. I was alone in my kitchen, holding a book with my name on the cover. There was something surreal about seeing a long time dream realized. That was the last “quiet” moment before we headed into release week. There were Facebook parties, author chats and a blog tour that all gave me the chance to interact with new readers and old friends. Release week was busy, overwhelming and wonderful. It was okay to talk, post and tweet about Make Me A Match. (I’m still trying to embrace the idea of self-promotion without cringing.) But this was all part of my dream to be a published author coming true. This was expected.

What wasn’t expected was the tremendous support and encouragement from family and friends, both new and old. What I’d never envisioned in my dream was my two daughters asking for signed copies of Make Me A Match and then taking those copies to school to show their teachers. (And the girls’ teachers asking where they could get a copy.). My dream hadn’t included walking into my parents’ house in sweatpants and discovering a surprise party for my release orchestrated by my husband. (Or the cake with the Make Me A Match cover again designed by my husband).

I’d only really dreamed of my name on a book cover. I just never knew my first Heartwarming release would be so much more: It was a moment to connect with friends and family to share my passion for stories about romance and true love. It was a moment to realize my husband wanted this as much (if not more) than me. It was a moment to finally look my daughters in their eyes and tell them that, yes, dreams do come true if you work hard, believe and have faith.
And it was a moment that will be remembered, but even more a reminder to expand my dream. (I want to repeat release month. Not because I want another surprise party – although spending time with good friends is never bad – but because I have more stories to share and a passion for writing that release month strengthened.) So now I’ll sign off to finish revisions on my next book to keep my Heartwarming dream going.

Happy reading and don’t forget to dream!


Walmart, Walmart, Walmart! (Tara Taylor Quinn)

It felt so incredibly good to go into a local Walmart and be able to look at a selection of Heartwarming books, right alongside some of the other Harlequin lines, to browse, read the back covers, to have it all right there in front of my eyes, and in my possession with just a reach. There's nothing like being able to stand in front of shelf and see all of those books. No looking up by author - sometimes I don't even know which authors have books out which month so how do I know who to look up?

If you're like me, if you want to be able to shop these books, easily, at your leisure, while you're doing your local soap and tissue run, then please do so often over the next couple of months. Right now, we're only there on a retail test. WE HAVE TO PASS THE TEST to be allowed to stay!! 

Just to give you some incentive, here are a few of us, and our fans, enjoying this treat!

If you find yourself in here, speak up!!

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Thrift Store Scores & Second-Hand Finds

by Lee McKenzie

I am a bargain hunter. There, I said it. I don't shop a lot but when I do, I look for things I need and will use, and I am always on the lookout for a good deal. In the past two weeks, I've had an exceptional run of good luck at one of my favorite thrift stores and at private clothing sale put on by two women who work in theatre.

To start, here's what I scored at the thrift store:

Clockwise from top left:
White pottery mixing bowl     $4.00
Brass bird                                $3.99
Stainless steel spatula              $2.00
Multi-function cheese grater   Free!
Small white bowl                    $0.99
Vintage milk glass goblets      $3.00 for the pair
Total                                        $13.98

I am currently doing a major household declutter, so you might wonder why I would want any of the above. I recently tossed several mixing bowls that had cracks and chipped rims, so this one bowl in excellent condition is a great replacement. The small white bowl matches a set I already have (and I love the vintage-inspired look). The goblets are a nice addition to an existing set, the spatula is just plain practical, and the brass bird will be incorporated into a tablescape. The cheese grater satisfies my love of gadgetry, and did you notice the price? Free! I love that it has a fine and course attachment as well as a slicer. And did I mention it was free?

The clothing sale was a lot of fun, and I found some great pieces that will get lots of use.

Slouchy gray cowl-neck sweater ~ $4
Neckline detail
Daisy-print cardigan ~ $5
I love the vintage vibe of this little cardigan when I pair it with my black pencil skirt.

Silk paisley blouse ~ $6
Striped pullover ~ Free!
This pullover was in a bin of items marked $2 each, but the seller tossed it in at no charge.

Black and white sundress with a self belt ~ $10
This dress looks great with the tie belt, but I look forward to wearing it with other accessories. White, of course, but it'll also be great with red, turquoise or...?

Nine West cloche ~ $10
I really love hats and am delighted to add this one to my collection. And what do you think of my shabby chic hat stand? It's an upside-down coffee table leg!

And now I've saved my favorite find for last.

Vintage red fabric Kate Spade handbag ~ $15
And check out the inside of the bag.

Fun animal-print lining!
My thrift store buys came to a total of $13.98 and all the clothing was $50.00. Not a bad haul for $63.98. These are Canadian dollars, of course. Those of you in the US who love thrifting have probably found way better deals than these. If you have, please inspire us with the details! Or just post a quick hello, because this month I’m giving away this Emma by Jane Austin journal from Kate Spade, a copy of one of my backlist books and a few other goodies.

On Friday, February 26th, I’ll make a random drawing from the commenters on this post, and post the winner’s name here in the comments section that day and in next month’s edition of my monthly newsletter, Life in the Slow Lane.

Until next time, happy reading!

To Catch a Wife (Harlequin Heartwarming, May 2016)

Monday, February 22, 2016

How's the Weather Your Way?

by Patricia Bradley

Remember last year?

I don't know about you, but I did not want another winter like last year's, and earlier this month, I was ecstatic to hear Punxsutawney Phil say we'd have an early Spring. 

But after a couple of weeks of below temps and a few snow flakes in North Mississippi, I thought the groundhog had missed the mark. But then we had two days of sixties and I decided to walk around my block. As I turned the corner, I almost fainted. There on the side of the street was:

And on the next block this greeted me:

I fairly danced back home. Along the way were other signs that Punxsutawney Phil might have been right! Green grass and the wild honeysuckle bush next door had blooms. You remember it from last year:
Well, this is it this year--a few of the blooms are just about to open! 
So how is the weather in your area? Are YOU ready for Spring?

Friday, February 19, 2016

Three Signs An Arranged Marriage Might Be For You by Sophia Sasson

This part 2 of my arranged marriage blog, the first one was last month and can be found here.  You’re probably thinking arranged marriages are an old fashioned notion that belong in a historical novel, or are for women from oppressed cultures far away; a woman who is told who she must marry, and has to be with some insufferable man for the rest of her life.  Since I’ve been talking about Bollywood romance in the Harlequin community this week, I’m going to use a clip from the Indian movie Veer Zaara where the heroine is being readied for her engagement to a man she doesn’t love.

This is not how modern arranged marriages work. Let's say you are looking for a serious relationship, what might you do? Make a list or complete an online form with all your requirements. Something like this:
  • Wants a serious relationship, not just a hookup.
  • Is employed full time by someone other than his father/mother/sister/dog.
  • Knows how to do laundry.
  • Etc…
You provide your list to someone, be it a friend or an online dating site, and they come up with candidates who meet your criteria. You’ve just skipped the time consuming part of figuring out whether your date is worth a second or third look. It’s an arranged relationship.

Top 3 signs an arranged marriage could be for you:
  1.  The bar scene and first date awkwardness is not your thing.
    Hate the idea of going to a bar and playing the pick up game? Or weeding through hundreds of online profiles wondering who might be a serial killer? If your friends and relatives pick him/her, you know the crazy factor is somewhat reduced.
  2. You don’t have time to date and waste.
    The biological clock isn’t just ticking, it’s full on clanking.  You’re an independent, mature person who wants to have children one day and would prefer it with a mate (although it’s not an absolute necessity). The last thing you need is to spend months with someone who isn’t serious about a long term commitment, or doesn’t want children.
  3. You have deal breakers.
    Don’t want a smoker? Hate people who spend hours watching golf? Having candidates screened ahead of time avoids that awkward moment when you realize you’ve fallen in lust with someone who has a non-negotiable habit.

Meera Malhotra, the heroine of  First Comes Marriage, meets all three criteria. She’s a physician and researcher—who has time to go out and date? She’s a traditional girl for who needs a guy that understands her values. Her major deal breaker is that she needs a man who appreciates her Indian culture. She enjoys a close relationship with her parents, her life is where they are; in London. She’s found the guy who meets all these criteria--- her childhood best friend. So what’s she to do when she meets an American cowboy who’s tied to his ranch in Hell’s Bells, Virginia?

I have a ton of free book extras on my website including a playlist of country music and Bollywood beats, recipes and more.

Best of all, I have the free prequel to First Comes Marriage. Check it out on my website.

I also have a Goodreads giveaway happening until February 22, and a Facebook giveaway until February 29th. If you miss all of these freebies, check on my website to see what I have happening.

If you live in Maryland, I’ll be doing a book signing at the Rockville Barnes and Noble on February 20th at 12:00pm. I’ll be giving out free canvas book bags to everyone who gets a book signed.
So tell me, if you are looking for a mate, do you ever get setup? And if you've already found the love of your life, tell me whether you had a non-negotiable--something you couldn't have lived with in a mate?

Thursday, February 18, 2016

...the dark and light at the same time...

 (the title of this post is excerpted from "End of Winter" by Louise Gluck)

by Liz Flaherty

We have lots of stuff. After 45 years of marriage, who doesn’t? Usually when winter begins its wind-down, I’ll start thinning out. I’ll have a trash bag in each room half full of things that are too small or not liked anymore or that were a dreadful mistake to begin with. It’s when I’ll start exercising again, too, speaking of thinning out, and get my eating under some semblance of control.

Some of the things we have in this cache of stuff are treasured parts of our family histories. We have a few religious prints Duane’s mom has given us, her first rosary, my mother’s old treadle sewing machine I learned to sew on. I have a couple of teapots from my mother-in-law’s collection and a stack of plates—I think there are five or seven, an odd number; I wonder who broke one—that have been in my family 100 years.

But there’s been illness in my extended family lately. Not only the recurring and lingering flu-like malady of the season, but open heart surgeries and deadly infections that have us walking hospital halls with disquiet nipping at our heels. What if he doesn’t come out of it? What if she never wakes up again?

 “Eat this. It will make Kay (my sister-in-law who is a nurse) happy,” I told my mother-in-law the other day, trying to tempt her nonexistent appetite.

Mom gave me the stink-eye—you’ve all seen that; it’s a job requirement of being a mother. “Then let her eat it.” I snorted laughter and Mom's grin was fabulously wicked.

It was then that I was reminded. That stuff doesn’t matter. What matters is the sharing of time. Of memories. Of laughter and wicked grins.

Hopefully all the family members will be well as winter comes to its end. I’ll have my garbage bags out soon, but as long as there are more things to laugh about, more memories to share, more time, I don’t really care if I fill them or not.

by Helen DePrima

I disagree with T.S. Eliot. April isn’t the cruelest month – February is. The holidays are a fading memory, New Year’s resolutions have largely gone by the board, and even the earliest planting of peas and spinach is a good month in the future. Here in New Hampshire we have our biggest snowstorms and bitterest cold in February, a boon to skiers but just plain wearisome to those of us whose winter sports are shoveling out and carrying in wood for the stove.

         February is a great time to attack closets and shelves, to decide which are treasures and which are only possessions. Extra jackets, mittens and caps fly out of the hall closet to thrift stores and shelters for those who need them more than I do; books I know I won’t re-read find new homes where they’ll be appreciated. Duplicate household items go to the local charity for veterans furnishing homes, sometimes in transition from living on the streets.

         And still I feel weighed down with stuff, much of it brought from my grandparents’ farm in Kentucky, links to my childhood home gobbled up by Interstate expansion. I’m not quite ready to start parceling out mementos to nieces and cousins who still recall the white clapboard house among towering maples and oaks, the shadowy barn with horses stamping in box stalls below a huge hayloft, and my uncles’ vegetable garden that fed the whole family. I do like thinking who in the family might enjoy the lithograph of Old Rosebud, the only Louisville horse to win the Derby, and who should get the wall clock taken from a closed-down Louisville & Nashville railway station in Tennessee.

       And all the while weaving memories into my writing – a turn of phrase in Southern voices, the scent of new hay in the loft, the feel of fresh-turned soil under bare feet in the spring, treasures I can share with readers I’ll never meet.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

The Art of Food

When my writing partner and I received revision notes on our first Heartwarming, one task we had to do was cut down the number of times our romantic couple ate together (with specific food details).  To my surprise, I realized our protagonists ate dinner or lunch more than eight times in the first ten chapters alone!  Was I obsessed with food or what?

The answer is no . . . and yes . . . but with good reason. 

Since I was old enough to read, I would glance through my mother’s women’s magazines and note the ever-present diet plans, alongside mouthwatering recipes for chocolate cake and other high calorie dishes.  The tradition still continues in Woman’s Day, Ladies’ Home Journal, and the like.  I believe we women have grown up to be schizoid about food.  There are very few of us who don’t want to lose a pound or ten, while at the same time we are drawn to reading about food or looking at full-color photos of easy-to-make chicken enchiladas or fettuccine-something. 

However, either one of these dishes – enchiladas or fettuccine – is far more exotic than the fare I grew up with.  For supper on a farm (dinner was lunch), we could always count on meat, potatoes, and some kind of overcooked vegetable.  My mother had never heard of fettuccine or baked ziti or ravioli.   She made spaghetti a couple of times because there were cans of Chef Boyardee available in the grocery store but you could find little else, in comparison to the wealth of choices in the 21st century.

Nowadays, food and cooking has become something of an art.  There are imported delicacies available in grocery stores ranging from fresh-made sushi to hand-ground Indian spices.  Even in the small town I came from, once home to nothing more than a couple of burger joints, there is a Chinese restaurant, a Mexican café, and a Greek diner.  On TV, I can watch topnotch chefs face off and classically trained amateurs try to outbake or out-boil each other with hand-decorated cupcakes or beautiful deviled eggs.  Everyone seems to know how to “plate” (see “fine art” version of a Polish sausage with fruit, hot peppers, and ketchup below).
Food as art
And isn’t writing an art, commercial or otherwise?
Anyhow, the thing is, I’m giving myself a higher level excuse for including eight meals for the hero and heroine in ten chapters, okay? 
The truth is, I am not sitting around dreaming about food.  And I really am not obsessed with food every moment.    
But I do have a subscription to Food Network Magazine which I read every month, yet have never made even one of its recipes.  And I do love amusing food sites such as “Cake Wrecks” which features everything from misspelled messages on cakes to for-adults-only edible creations.  Furthermore, I watch every Top Chef competition on Bravo, though I don’t want to eat everything the top chefs create.  I would never order a “crudo,” raw meat or fish, and I’m not interested in decorative citrus/salt “foam” on top of my desserts, thank you.
I’m a food art appreciator.  And so are our heroes and heroines, as well as, I suspect, a large number of our readers.  In modern day society, made international by the Internet and nation-wide cable TV, food is a visual and an actual feast. 
Furthermore, I believe society is moving toward more gender-equality, even with food.  That’s why we had the hero in at least half of our books cook meals for the heroine.
Happy post-Valentine’s Day!    






Tuesday, February 16, 2016

The Joy Of Seeing A "Real" Book

Okay, it's silly, but I love to hold a book in my hands. Now, I'm not a complete Luddite -- I read ebooks. But I have missed having hard copy books on the shelves. 

So color me tickled when Heartwarming had four wonderful authors available in two of my local Walmarts. I still remember how I was able to persuade a romance reader to take a copy of each home with her. Would she have been as willing to do that if I had suggested she download them? 

Maybe. Hopefully. 

But I know that being able to hand her the books was definitely a factor in closing the deal. 

I still remember discovering many of my favorite authors in discount chains. Back then, my mom would leave me in the book section while she did her shopping. I'd find a book and start reading. 

As I got older, I still stood in the book section and read the first chapter. That's where I found Harlequins, Alice Walker, Tess Gerritsen, and loads of other favorites over the years. There's something about having that book in hand and wanting to read more that is an irresistible combo. 

The nice lady I met didn't take much convincing. She wanted several books to distract her from her cold. Buying the Heartwarming novels would "save me a trip to the library."

I hope more readers are like this lady was and will give Heartwarming a try. And I hope that when SWEET JUSTICE comes out, it will also be available. Reading the first chapter of my own book in the book section might be an interesting experience. 

Monday, February 15, 2016

Get Hooked on a Series! . . . by Kate James (with Elizabeth Heiter)

MIRA suspense author, Elizabeth Heiter, and I are fortunate to share one of the very best editors in the business, Paula Eykelhof. We met through our editor around the time we were both working on our first books for Harlequin. To my great pleasure, Elizabeth and I became friends and now, for the first time, we have releases just days apart. Both books are part of a series and are law-enforcement theme. Seized, the third book in Elizabeth’s The Profiler series, released on December 29th and When Love Matters Most, the second book in my K-9 series, released on January 1st.

To encourage you to read on, I've included pictures of our heroes below!

When Love Matters Most's hero Rick Vasquez, left, and Seized's Kyle (Mac) McKenzie, right.

It's a little unfair that Elizabeth picked Hugh Jackman first for her hero, FBI  Hostage Rescue agent Kyle (Mac) McKenzie, because I think Mr. Jackman would be perfect as San Diego Police Department K-9 Unit sergeant Rick Vasquez. Elizabeth did think of it first so I (grudgingly) let her have him, but you must admit that Rick doesn't look too shabby in the picture either.

So, to celebrate our releases (and because we have a lot of fun working together), we've done a number of joint promotions. For something a little different, I decided to ask Elizabeth to join me for this post to answer a few common questions we get asked. I hope you enjoy our interview!

What was your inspiration for writing books about law enforcement?

Elizabeth: I’ve always been fascinated and awed by the jobs that law enforcement officers do. It’s a natural fit for a suspense series, because then you have a reason to throw investigations at them book after book! I picked the FBI because I wanted a character who would work at the federal level, and who I could send all over the country (or world) if I wanted. And as I had the chance to meet former and current federal agents, it only strengthened my desire to write about these fascinating people who choose to put their lives on the line to protect others.

Kate: I have tremendous respect and appreciation for law enforcement personnel who dedicate their lives to keeping us safe, and I love all animals, with a particular fondness for dogs. In that context, the K-9 trilogy was a natural outcome for me.

I have to admit, having a lot of fun doing the research was a great motivator, too. I know Elizabeth can relate to that comment!

PC Hilton of York Regional Police in Ontario is a K-9 officer and trainer, and is partnered with explosives detection dog Max. PC Hilton was extremely generous with his time, knowledge and expertise, and I loved meeting Max.

Max has his own police badge and “business cards!”

PC Hilton also gave me some “light” reading material!

Elizabeth: I totally agree! The research is one of my favorite parts! Before I started my Profiler series, I read a ton of books on the FBI, profiling and serial criminals. And with each new book, I tend to find things that interest me to work the plot around, so I can do more research!

The lounge area at the FBI Academy at Quantico. The green vests belong to regular Special Agents and the blue ones are for HRT (the FBI’s Hostage Rescue Team). I loved visiting Quantico and it gave me so much knowledge for the books!

Me at the range at Quantico; FBI weapons specialists taught us how to fire various weaponry used by Special Agents (including tactical agents) in the field. (When I chose to wear heels that morning, I was unaware they were going to let us shoot!)

Elizabeth, what three words would you use to best describe Kate’s When Love Matters Most?

Elizabeth: Rather than me coming up with the words, I borrowed them from a review by RT Book Reviews: action, tension and romance.

Kate, what three words would you use to best describe Elizabeth’s Seized?

Kate: Ripped-from-the-headlines (to cheat a little and make that one word!), intense, and suspenseful.

Can you tell us if you’re working on anything else at the moment?

Kate: My next release will be the third book in my K-9 trilogy. The working title is When I Found You, and it’s scheduled for release on July 1st. It’s the story of K-9 Unit captain Logan O’Connor and San Diego International Airport chief of security, Ariana Atkins. Here’s a teaser:

Is she part of the solution . . . or the problem?

Security breaches at San Diego’s international airport are putting passengers at risk, and bringing the competence of the airport’s chief of security, Ariana Atkins, into question. With explosives being the weapon of choice, Police K-9 unit captain Logan O’Connor and his bomb detection dog, Boomer, might be the airport’s best line of defense. But is the airport targeted or does the perpetrator have another motive? And when it comes right down to it, can Ariana trust Logan with her life . . . and her love?

Elizabeth: I’m about to get revisions on my fourth Profiler book, Stalked, which continues to follow FBI profiler Evelyn Baine and Hostage Rescue Team agent Kyle “Mac” McKenzie. A little hint of what’s up next for Evelyn:

The secrets we keep can be deadly…

When a teenager goes missing, leaving behind a note that foretells her own death, FBI profiler Evelyn Baine is put on the case.  The suspects are numerous: the girl’s estranged parents, her too-smooth older boyfriend…even a possible human trafficking ring out of a nearby college campus.  But the closer Evelyn gets to the truth, the harder someone works to make sure his secrets stay buried…even if it means he has to bury Evelyn, too.

Do you ever take characteristics or nuances from close friends or family when working on character development and if so has that friend or family member noticed and what was their response to it?

Kate: I read an article some time ago that referred to fictionalizing facts. I believe every author does this to a degree. I certainly do.

Writing about what I know or have experienced leads to a more genuine, believable story, in my opinion. My background and experiences provide a wide variety of ideas and perspectives, and I hope they serve to enrich my writing. Although I don’t do it consciously, I’m certain I’ve taken characteristic and nuances from people I now and given them to my characters. No one has called me on it yet!

Elizabeth: While I’ve never straight-up tried to write a person I know, I have definitely borrowed characteristics and traits of people and blended them into characters! I think it’s natural – writers are observers by nature, and part of what we see ends up finding its way into our books. No one has called me on it either…except for with Evelyn! I’ve had people tell me they see pieces of me in her! (I choose to believe they’re talking about her determination and not her social skills! <G>)

Kate: I can definitely say that your social skills are far superior to Evelyn’s! You raise a good point, though, because my friends have said that they see pieces of me in my heroines!

What’s your favorite treat?

Kate: Anything with chocolate in it!

Elizabeth: I’m with you, Kate! If it involves chocolate, I’m there.

What’s your favorite place to read/write?

Kate: Although we sold it recently, my husband and I were fortunate to own a beautiful cottage in Lake of Bays in Ontario on the shore of a small lake. We had a guest suite on the main floor overlooking the lake. It was one of my favorite places to read or write.

Another favorite spot—weather permitting—is our gazebo in the backyard of our house. You can probably appreciate why this view would be inspiring! That’s me in the picture with my critique team, black Labs Harley and Logan!

Finally, when the snow if falling outside, I like to read or write in my office at home. I love to curl up in a comfortable recliner facing the fireplace with my laptop actually on my lap. As you can see in this picture, my trusted critique team is again close by, even if they are less engaged! This is one of my all-time favorite places to read and write!

Elizabeth: Your writing views are definitely inspiring!! I used to sometimes drive out to my mom’s house and write next to her pool with a cup of coffee and (you guessed it!) some chocolate! There, I’d have a goofy Newfoundland to “supervise” my writing.

At home, I generally deal with marketing and business items in my office, and take my writing into my dining room. I get a lot of “help” from my birds (and by help, I mean sitting on my shoulder, running across the keyboard or flying around the room and making me laugh!).

Kate: Oh, the running-across-the-keyboard reminded of the time Logan became a little too enthusiastic about his critiquing, and I had to buy a new laptop. Yes, that’s a tooth mark on left center of the screen!

Please visit Fresh Fiction to learn more about Elizabeth's and my books, and for a chance to autographed copies.

Thank you for reading our interview, and a very special thanks to all our readers who make it possible for us to do what we love.

And don't forget that effective January, all Heartwarming releases are available in mass-market paperback through Amazon and Barnes and Noble, and all four January online releases are available in select Walmart stores all this month. To find a store near you, please visit the Harlequin website.

Happy reading! 

Kate and Elizabeth

Buy Links for Seized

Buy Links for When Love Matters Most

Barnes and Noble
Chapters (Kobo)