Saturday, December 09, 2017

Sunny Christmas wishes – Kandy Shepherd

I know it’s a cliché to say “I can’t believe it’s nearly Christmas already”–but I really can’t! The year seems to have zoomed by. Fortunately I just finished a story for Harlequin Romance (to be published next July) so can now turn my mind to all things Christmas. For me, this doesn’t just involve putting up the tree, shopping, and wrapping and cooking but also a huge clean up of the house!

In Australia where we live that means thoughts of a summer Christmas. But even though it is likely to be hot, we Aussies tend to gather for a “traditional” Christmas meal based on a northern hemisphere winter Christmas. My family have a predominantly English background so that means a hot meal and lots of baked goods! I don’t care much for the rich cakes and puddings made from dried fruits but I’m very partial to shortbread.

Wherever you are in the world I’d like to wish Tote Bags ’n’ Blogs readers a very Merry Christmas and for those who don’t celebrate a very happy holiday season. And a big thank you to Lee for having me as a regular blogger.

I don’t have a Christmas book out this year but my 2016 Christmas novella Millionaire Under the Mistletoe is still available at e-retailers for just $0.99. 

Harlequin is also offering a festive season boxed set for just $US1.99 at e-retailers that includes my GiftWrapped in Her Wedding Dress which is a Christmas story I really loved writing!

And of course next year you can meet my gorgeous Greek tycoon hero Cristos in my February 2018 release Stranded with Her Greek Tycoon available in the UK and Australia in January and the US in February.

See you all next year!  


 Kandy Shepherd is a multi-published, award-winning author of contemporary romance and women’s fiction. She lives on a small farm in the Blue Mountains near Sydney, Australia, with her family and a menagerie of four-legged friends.

Visit Kandy at her website

Connect with Kandy on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram

Thursday, December 07, 2017

Christmas Treats

A flying visit between hospital visits - the dh is not well - to wish you all the very happiest Christmas and a peaceful New Year

In the spirit of the season I'm tossing out all these books that are on special holiday bargains offers at the moments.

Wild Fire  and Eloping With Emmy are just 99c in the US  and For His Eyes Only is just $1.99 in the US.

In the UK there are quite a few of my books available for just 99p - Vettori's Damsel in Distress, Her Pregnancy Bombshell, Secret Baby Surprise Parents...

Grab a handful for your own Christmas stocking and spoil yourself after the holidays when you have time for a little toes up.. :)

In the meantime, I wish you and all your loved ones -

Monday, December 04, 2017

Nicole Locke - A Year of Change

Here we are at the end of 2017, and I still don't know how I feel about it. I can point at nothing truly horrific and yet, I look at this year warily. Like a child does when it's not sure if the thing before it is a friend or foe.

Like that big friendly dog that nipped my hands and then slurped my entire body. Or that balloon that was so shiny...but then popped in my face.

2017 was a big friendly year, and I had moments of sheer joy. Then there were those moments it nipped and popped. When it hurt and scared me, too.

We moved, you see, and even as an adult I wasn't prepared for the full ramifications I would stumble through, but I did learn some things along the way:

1. Inefficiency is your first, last, and middle name. When you move homes you will not be as productive as you were before. That's just a fact of life. Why? Well, there's more to do...more than you can possibly conceive or prepare for.

2.   You are a creature of habit and you don't even know it. Oh, boy was this something I truly fought against. For eleven years, I left my bedroom and turned left, now I'm suddenly turning right. I hadn't driven in over a decade, now I have this vehicle that I'm supposed to park. My earrings can't go in the little tray by the front door,  my t-shirts are hung instead of folded, etc. Everything must have a new place. This, of course, escalates your inefficiency, but also it's jarring. Like having to learn how to breathe differently.

3. You will grieve. Some loss you will expect to hurt like friendships and family. I can't even write that sentence without tearing up.  But some loss you won't expect. Simple things such as certain foods (cheese!), or a way a place smells, or even the ease of a transport system. I miss these little things as well.

4. If you move and you have a husband and two children, points 1,2,3 above will all be amplified by 3x.

5. 'You will make it.' That was one of my grandfather's favourite sayings.  I made it through 2017. It was bumpy and I often got lost or a bit more wary. Other times, I had joy in my heart.

It's that joy I want to carry into 2018. So I intend to embrace the changes, the big friendly dogs and all the popping balloons. That way, I can make it like my grandfather taught, but make it with a happiness that comes not from the absence of inefficiency or grief, but because of it.

I wish you all joy and happiness as well, and thank you for sharing 2017 with me.


Nicole writes the Lovers and Legends historical series for Harlequin. Check out her website and follow her on Facebook , Twitter,  Google+ and Pinterest.'

Saturday, December 02, 2017

Happy Holidays, Y'all!--Susan Sands

I can't believe another year has flown by yet again. I'll be an empty nester this time next year if
everything goes as planned. My daughter's senior year is rolling by at the speed of light along with everything else. My mom moved in with me and then moved back out into her own place where she'd been waiting to be approved for an apartment. Plus, I released two books this years!

Life leaves us little room to choose our level of busyness. Mine has been non-stop for a couple years now. But there's a lot to look forward to as well. I'm excited to see what college life brings for my third child in the coming months. I will miss her terribly, but I'm so excited for her next steps toward adulthood and independence. I know, ask me again in May and see what I have to say then. I might be sobbing my eyes out.

I'm writing, editing, and making career decisions right now as well. I should have books coming out next year. I'll keep you posted on that. Hopefully I'll have details coming soon.

So, in the meantime, I'm promoting Christmas, Alabama at book signings and on social media. So far the reviews are great!

I would like to take this opportunity to wish everyone a lovely holiday season!!


Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Lara Temple: On pets, humans and other animals

People ask me why animals show up so often in my books. My first answer is – I have no idea, they just do. My second, more considered answer is that animals often reveal who we really are underneath the layers life imposes on us.

I saw that clearly when I walked my kids to school yesterday with our new puppy (an adorable bundle of fur). Along the way I noticed something – the eyes of almost every child we passed lit up. Just that – they lit up. Widened and crinkled and downright sparkled. Even those who were afraid to approach the tiny addition to our household were charmed and softened.

Adults – not so much. Some did smile, a handful did gush, but often they just didn’t see or were lost in the chaos of their lives, trying to get the kids to school, themselves off to work, and tasks in a line. Life, the universe and everything. I completely understand, I am often the same. Even if I had wanted to stop and pet another person’s dog I often don’t allow myself that luxury, or that encroachment.

I realized that one day the majority of the children who were overcome with joy at the sight of a little bundle of fur would grow up to become those who couldn’t see/allow themselves/afford to stop and pet the puppy (that is not a euphemism!).
And I think this is why I write animals into my stories. Because in the contact between us and animals something else comes out of us, a deep childish loving, a connection to who we are under layers, a need to give and receive love. Animals help me explore that part of myself and in my heroes and heroines.

In my latest books horses and dogs have an important role. Nell, the heroine of Lord Hunter’s Cinderella Heiress, has found purpose, love and confidence in her dealings with horses that were denied her in her own home. In my next book, Lord Ravenscar’s Inconvenient Betrothal, a canine friendship from the past helps connect our hero to the better aspects of his childhood. It doesn’t always have to be a familiar animal, either – in that same book the heroine, Lily, who grew up on a secluded island, had a close friendship with a manatee. Now that I think about it, my daughter has had some interesting conversations with praying mantises living in our garden, so anything goes.
It doesn’t mean I always intend to write about animals, but they are a natural part of my life and I have a feeling they will keep sneaking, galloping, or creeping into my stories, planned or not.

Excerpt from Wild Lords book #1: Lord Hunter’s Cinderella Bride (November 2017)

Nell’s breath caught and a gentle flush warmed her full lips to a soft peach colour. Hunter watched, fascinated by this quite unique and very appealing transformation; then he looked up and met her eyes and was surprised to see that they were brimming with laughter.
‘I think I might actually enjoy this,’ she half-whispered.
‘What?’ he asked, confused.
‘Flirting. I think I’m starting to understand how it works.’
A slap might have been more painful, but no more sobering. For a moment he had actually forgotten why he was doing this.
‘That’s good. Feel free to experiment. Despite my name, I don’t mind being hunted.’
‘I’m not sure how. I don’t think I could ever do what Lady Melkinson does.’
He caught the hopelessness in her voice.
‘You won’t know until you try,’ he said lightly and this time her eyes were assessing. Then she half-lowered her long lashes so that the silver irises glimmered through them.
‘Like this?’ she asked huskily, leaning towards him, the tips of her fingers just making contact with the sleeve of his coat. Then her lips parted and the tip of her tongue touched her lower lip, drawing it in gently and letting it go. As far as seductions went it was very mild, as hesitant as a girl dressing in her mother’s finery. There was no reason it should have felt like the blood was reversing course in his veins.
‘A very good start,’ he managed and was rewarded with another smile.

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Monday, November 27, 2017

Favorite Books of Childhood

by Joanne Rock

My bookshelf from childhood-- with my hamster
I’ve started Christmas shopping this week and that means hitting the bookstore. Long before I sold my first book, I enjoyed giving books as gifts. So much so, I think friends come to expect that from me—I am the giver of books. It’s a pleasure to share that perfect story you think will really capture a friend’s heart or imagination.

That goes doubly so for kids. I remember so keenly how wonderful it was to discover the magic of reading independently as a child, and I always hope that giving the gift of a book will open that gateway for a child. Do you remember the first books that really made an impression on you as a child?

Here in no particular order, are some of the books that really had a strong impact for me as a kid:

1-     Black Beauty- this was the first time I recall sobbing while reading. And I had the experience of thinking- it’s crazy to realize I’m sitting safely in my bed, in my pjs, and crying so hard for the hurts of a fictional horse. That was really powerful for me, as I had my first taste of the way books teach us empathy.

2-     Miss Piggy’s Guide to Life- a book that spoofs the diva life and made me smile

3-     Nancy Drew- I owned about half of them and read all of them. I shared my collection with a friend down the street and vice versa. This series made me realize how much fun it is to share characters and story,lines. Books make for fun conversation.

4-     The Ghost of Windy Hill- this book kicked off my long love of ghost stories and the paranormal, even though this one isn’t particularly spooky. Very atmospheric!

5-      When We Were Very Young- this book of poetry by A.A. Milne was the first introduction to poems I read on my own—sweetly memorable.

6-     Stories from a Snowy Meadow – Anyone else remember Mole, Mouse, Shrew and Vole? I liked the emphasis on an older character, and the idea that storyteller Vole could be so important to the next generation. No surprise that I like a storyteller as hero!

7-     Snoopy and “It Was a Dark and Stormy Night” –Snoopy writes a book and has a book signing. I loved this book so much and have thought of it often over the years in my career as a writer, since Snoopy gets writer’s block, has big ideas, and even feels the pain of a book signing where no one shows up. The perfect book for a young writer.

My January 2018 McNeill story
What about you? Any memorable books from your youth? Or any books that your eager to buy for the young readers in your life? Share with me this week and I’ll give one random poster an advance copy of Claiming HisSecret Heir, my January 2018 Harlequin Desire! In the meantime, please be on the look out for His Pregnant Secretary, my December story, in stores December 5th.