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?

--Sophia

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?"

"Yes."

"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.

What!

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 www.loreelough.com!




About Cerella:

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


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
Photo from thecozyapron.com


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
Photo from pillsbury.com
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! 

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

THE THANKSGIVING PERSONALITY TEST by Rula Sinara & Catherine Lanigan

Sweetgum tree in Harper's Ferry, WV taken by Rula last fall
Can you believe we’re already a week into November? Time flies when it has strong, blustery wind gusts pushing it along! Before we know it, Thanksgiving will be here…and that means calorie overload, Black Friday shopping overload and personality overload. 

Wait a minute. Personality overload? Well, yeah. Thanksgiving is awesome, but whether it involves office feasts or a gathering of family and friends, it usually means a lot of different personalities in one room…or at least around the dinner table. We’re a positive bunch here at the Heartwarming Authors blog and, of course, we hope your Thanksgiving social scene will be perfectly spiced with a dash of romance ;). However, sometimes there’s (cough, cough) one too many shakers of salt or lemon wedgies—I mean wedges—at the table.

So, for the sake of getting along with everyone and having everything go smoothly, we figured it would be a good time to analyze ourselves (or family members). Perhaps if we go into the holiday understanding our Thanksgiving personality type, we can take a deep breath and be prepared in the name of conflict avoidance (Note: If you’re an editor reading this, ignore it. We LOVE conflict J). For example, if you know you’re a salty person, eat more pie! It’s all about balance.

Here it goes. The totally valid, scientific and psychologically profound Thanksgiving Personality Test: Post your answers in the comments! Consider it fair warning for anyone coming to your house for Thanksgiving lol.

1)If you had to pick a spice it would be:

a) Cinnamon/nutmeg
b) Sage
c) Rosemary
d) Thyme

2)You would most likely reach for the:
a) Sugar
b) Salt
c) Pepper
d) Artificial sweetener

3)Your Thanksgiving themed book of choice is:

a) Martha’s Classic Thanksgiving (cookbook…you know which Martha)
b) A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving (Charles M. Schulz)
c) A non-fiction book on the history of the pilgrims and Mayflower
d) A Heartwarming Thanksgiving (Harlequin Heartwarming authors)

4)Your Thanksgiving themed movie of choice is:

a) A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving
b) Miracle on 34th Street
c) Home for the Holidays
d) Planes, Trains and Automobiles

5)At the Thanksgiving dinner/lunch table, you’ll be wearing:

a) Jeans, sweater and sneakers or flats
b) Stretch pants, stretchy over-sized shirt to camouflage full belly, stretchy socks (the more stretch the better)
c) A black cocktail dress, heels and red lipstick
d) Head-to-toe in football team colors and jersey (because we had to add this option)

6)You can’t handle the person you’re seated next to. You:

a) Trade spots with a kid at the kid’s table
b) Keep stuffing your face so you don’t have to talk…and drink lots of wine
c) Spill your drink in your lap accidentally on purpose so you can be excused
d) Stay put because nothing phases you…not even messy, loud eating or your aunt advising you to cut back on butter usage…and food in general.

7)You’re asked about your love life or lack of one. You:

a) Show off your husband, kids and pregnant belly…as proof your love life is just fine.
b) Make up a boyfriend and actually bribe/hire/kidnap one and bring him along
c) Make up a boyfriend who couldn’t make it because he’s a doctor saving children in the Amazon jungle.
d) Stuff your face with food and drink and mumble something incomprehensible…then escape.

8)After the meal, you will most likely:

a) Park in front of the football game and/or take a nap
b) Go outside in the cold for a game of tag football
c) Offer to help clean up
d) Go for a walk to escape while burning off calories

9)When it’s time to go home, you want to take some leftover:

a) Stuffing
b) Pie
c) Turkey
d) Everything

Results: Okay, okay…a disclaimer: other than the fact that having fun and smiling are good for you, we have no scientific or psychological backing for this test, but we made you think about your Thanksgiving behavior, didn't we? If you picked mostly A’s, you prefer a sweet, make-everyone-happy at Thanksgiving day. If you picked mostly B’s, you like a classic Thanksgiving with a touch of dare. If you picked mostly C’s, you expect a dignified Thanksgiving. And if you picked mostly D’s, you can handle anything…as long as you have pie and a romance novel.

And speaking of romance and fun, we have a day planned that’ll recharge you after the Thanksgiving holidays and kick start your Christmas season fun! Mark your calendars for November 29th and come join our Starry Nights & Romance Facebook Party featuring all of the October, November and December Harlequin Heartwarming authors, along with Special Guests Jennifer Snow and Muriel Jensen! It’ll be tons of fun and there’ll be more giveaways than you can imagine. Hey, if you win, you can keep the gifts for yourself (because you survived Thanksgiving and deserve it) or use them to help with your holiday shopping and stocking stuffing! RSVP and get a sneak peek at some of the giveaway prizes HERE!


And that’s not all! Stay tuned for a huge blog giveaway by the December Heartwarming authors in…December. We plan to launch it here on the Heartwarming blog, Saturday, Dec 2nd.

December Harlequin Heartwarming Box Set available for Pre-order, as are the individual books

The December authors also have Prism Book Tours (which also include giveaways) lined up through November/December and we’d love to have you pop by our stops for excerpts and behind-the-scenes insights into our stories. Here are our tour dates in chronological order:





When it comes to ringing in the holiday season, Heartwarmers are a happenin’ bunch!

Don't forget to let us know how you did on the Thanksgiving Personality Test!

Peace,

Rula and Catherine

Monday, November 6, 2017

Age Smart by Melinda Curtis

It's official. I've reached a certain age. In the last four months, I've developed bursitis in one hip, had my tennis elbow flare up, be told by my doctor I have rotator cuff issues, and now...I have a stress fracture in my foot. For a woman about to be a grandmother for the first time, I'm starting to feel OLD.

At this point, I can tell you what the doctor will say about every muscle twinge and stiff joint - stretch! Stretch? Stretching is for sissies! Stretching is boring! Stretching is...necessary. Sadly, it's not just a quick touch your toes and swing your arms side to side. I have four different stretches for every over-used, worn out body part. It takes me 20 minutes to stretch "properly." I'm the kind of person who complains about the extra five minutes it takes to blow-dry my hair. Twenty minutes of stretching? Torture!!!

And speaking of torture, take a look at my stretching aids.

The green foam roller is absolutely necessary for my hips, IT bands (side of my thighs), and calves. When things get tight - because I haven't stretched enough - I sit on top of my foam roller and work that thing like a rolling pin beneath me.

The nubby roller is advertised as a way to break up fatty tissue, but I've found it's very useful in getting to deep tissue. Does it hurt? Oh, my, yes. And upon first use, I bruised. Does it work? Sadly, yes.

It's not shown here, but I use a tennis ball to roll over the soft tissue around my "tennis elbow" to loosen that up (this is called irony, kids).

I was raised in a time of going for the burn and work your body until it hurts for days. But let me tell you, I'm not a fan of the burn or hurting anymore. I also gave up 5K runs and have fled screaming when people ask me to come do mudders (plus I don't like to get dirty). It's time to age smart.

Are you slowing down? Are there physical things you don't do anymore? I'd love to hear your aging stories.

Melinda Curtis is an award-winning USA Today bestselling author. She writes sweet romance for Harlequin, sweet romantic comedies and sexy sports contemporaries. Her latest releases are Support Your Local Sheriff (a full-length Harlequin, $4.99), Rumor Has It in Christmas Falls (a full-length sweet romantic comedy, $2.99), A Heartwarming Thanksgiving (a collection of 13 turkey-day related romance novellas by Harlequin Heartwarming authors - a steal at 99 cents), and Heartwarming Holiday Wishes (a collection of 10 Christmas romance novellas - a steal at 99 cents - includes a $1 off coupon for a Heartwarming purchase at Harlequin.com).

Saturday, November 4, 2017

They're Here

Pamela Tracy here, and if you're like me to very much remember the movie Poltergeist about the Realtor who purchased a home in the development he was currently selling homes at.

There's a scene where his daughter, Carol Ann, says "They're here...."

That wasn't a good thing.

But, the November Heartwarming books, now they are a good thing.

An excellent thing.

A most awesome thing.

This is my seventh book for Heartwarming.

If you need something to do, pick up a November Heartwarming.

Here's a look at mine


Thursday, November 2, 2017

Love by Karen Rock



I didn’t intend to write this piece, but my heavy heart guides my typing fingers. New York City, close to where I grew up in Long Island, home still to members of my family, has once again been attacked by terrorism. Like many of you, I watched in horror as first one plane, then another flew into the twin towers on 9/11. A coworker had called me into the front office to show the news coverage of what appeared to be a horrible plane crash into one of the world’s biggest buildings. No one mentioned terrorism. Then, to our shock and horror, a second plane cruised into the camera frame and smashed into the other building. I remember staring blankly, unable to fully grasp what had just happened. When another plane struck the Pentagon, I asked out loud, are we under attack? I thought another country had declared war on us.


That was my frame of reference in 2001. War or a tragic accident. I’d heard of terrorist attacks, but they occurred in foreign countries, where religious differences among people living in proximity boiled into hate-fueled violence. But in America? A country founded by people who fled religious persecution to practice freely and peacefully… such an important value to our ground-breaking democracy that our founding fathers guaranteed us religious freedom… how could that happen here? As the day wore on, with personal tragedies unfolding for me and my family when we learned we’d lost two members, I remembered thinking our nation would never be the same. Other than Pearl Harbor, we’d never had such an attack on U.S. soil. That feeling of safety was gone to us forever.



Now, whenever I hear of an attack on civilians, my first thought is terrorism. That’s become the new normal. It saddens me that some now seem a bit hardened to violence, our innocence gone, our indignation, too, possibly as a story lasts one news cycle before moving on to the next story. Nearly fifty people died at the hands of a mad man in Las Vegas, yet it's rarely mentioned anymore. Now eight people bicycling from work have lost their lives. All innocent civilians whose lives were cut short by hate.  How long will we talk about this attack? Five days... a week... is my best guess before something else catches the media’s attention. Are we now immune to being shocked and horrified as we were on 911? I just saw one journalist joke around with another, saying he liked his “Newscaster Costume” as they are on air in NYC covering a fatal attack that occurred just hours ago. Maybe I’m the odd one out whose bruise from 911 never healed. Every act of violence presses on that bruise and I hurt. I won’t get used to this new normal. I hope we never do. To accept violence is to accept hate and I reject it in every form.