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Monday, January 23, 2017

Let's Go On A Picnic

It's the middle of winter and the weather is nowhere near picnic-like. . .but the weather also has me dreaming of warm summer breezes and afternoons spent beside a lake or the ocean with my toes firmly dug into the sand. And, picnics.

One of my favorite things is a picnic – spring, summer, or fall, as long as the sun is warm and the sky is blue, I'm in. I like the relaxed atmosphere of a picnic, the ability to completely zone out of ‘life’ and zone into the person you’re with. RadioMan, bebe, and I try to hit a local park or lighthouse or beach a few times each summer, and I loved adding a picnic scene to my book, What a Texas Girl Wants. In the book, Kathleen surprises Jackson with a picnic and puts him off-balance.

Here’s one of my favorite picnic recipes, something Kathleen and Jackson might take along on their next picnic:

Country Chicken Salad
Ingredients:
4 cups cubed, cooked chicken
3/4 cups slivered toasted almonds
1 cup sliced celery
1 cup seedless grapes
3/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup sour cream
2 tsp. lemon juice
Salt & pepper to taste

Preparation: Bake chicken at 350 for 40 minutes or until done. Allow to cool and then cube the chicken. I use boneless chicken breasts to make this easier. Once cubed, combine the chicken, almonds, celery and grapes in a medium sized bowl. In a separate bowl, mix the mayonnaise, sour cream, lemon juice and salt and pepper well. Finally, add this mixture to the chicken and mix thoroughly.

What a Texas Girl Wants has been included in the Texas Temptation boxed set, and is available now for only 99 cents - you'll get 10 Texas-themed romances in one hot package. Here's a bit about the book:

Kathleen Witte is a down-to-earth girl. She has to be, with the family ranch on the verge of success. After seven months of keeping it all together by swearing off men, however, Kathleen needs a bit of fun in the sun. Waking up with a husband she can’t remember isn’t how she planned to blow off steam.

The last thing Jackson Taylor wants in his life is a down-to-earth girl. He has four weeks of freedom in which to find his birth mother. He’s done well avoiding commitment until now, so when he wakes up on a Mexican beach with Kathleen his first reaction is curiosity. When he spies the matching wedding rings on their left hands curiosity turns to concern.

Neither Jackson nor Kathleen want to stay married, but when her family shows up, they have no choice. Once back in Texas, however, can they keep this all-business marriage from turning into an all-consuming love?

Readers, do you have a favorite picnic recipe? Share in the comments!

Kristina Knight's What a Texas Girl Wants is part of the Texas Temptations bundle - 10 full-length, contemporary romances for the low price of 99 cents!

Here are the book blurbs:

Can’t get enough of sexy cowboys? Check out these ten tales of bold, funny, take-charge couples who team up to wrangle a love as big as the Texas sky!

The Texas Takedown: Berry Challoner arrives in Houston determined to go undercover as a secretary to solve her brother’s murder. Surely Tyler Reid, his best friend and a certified public accountant, can help her follow the money to the killer. But Tyler’s not a fan of this crazy, spontaneous plan, even if he is mesmerized by Berry. When it looks like she’s next on the killer’s list, he’ll have to go all in to save the girl who’s beginning to capture his heart.

What a Texas Girl Wants: The last thing Jackson Taylor wants in his life is a down-to-earth girl like Kathleen Witte, so why did he just wake up next to her on a Mexican beach with a ring on his finger? Once they’re back in Texas though, this all-business marriage might just turn into an all-consuming love.

Delicious Deception: Artist Emily Kate Boudreaux spends her days running a restaurant on a Texas bayou because it’s what her family expects. Then sexy chef Connor Rikeland walks into her life and turns her business—and her bed—into one hot adventure. But his story is a sham, and Cajun cooking isn’t his ticket to fame after all. Emily Kate must decide what’s real, what’s a lie, and what’s worth risking her heart over.

Sweet Texas Fire: Gage Cooper has always wanted the family cabin. Instead, his business nemesis, environmental analyst Charlotte Wilkinson, inherits this valuable property with its oil-rich land and secrets. He’ll do anything to reverse this fortune, including eloping to Vegas for a sham marriage. But as they discover a surprising chemistry together, suddenly Gage must decide what’s worth more: the land he’s always coveted or a future with Charlotte.

A Love Beyond: Convinced that her sister’s abusive marriage drove her to kill herself, A.J. Owens travels to her brother-in-law’s Texas ranch determined to unearth his secrets and rescue the champion racehorse he stole—even if it means pretending to seduce the man. Chance Landin, the ranch’s head of security, knows there’s something fishy about this gorgeous blonde seductress, but the former marine is more than happy to help expose the madman’s deadly secrets. With a romance beginning to spark between them, can love triumph over revenge?

The Election Connection: War widow Lily Ashton’s heart is closed to love, so she’s the perfect choice to play fiancée to help secure a re-election for her pal, Texas congressman Ford Richardson. But as they work together, their not-quite engagement starts to feel much more real than either is ready to admit.

In the Shadow of Pride: When Lexie Trevena’s matchmaking friends accidentally place her smack in the path of a terrorist in Austin who intends to use her as his pawn, the only person who can help her is Special Agent-in-Charge Luke “Mac” McNeil—the man she holds responsible for her husband’s death.

One Last Letter: At sixteen, Evelyn Lancaster rejected ranch hand Jesse Greenwood to save her father’s struggling ranch. Now a newly wealthy Jesse has returned home, and he’s drawn to the land he swore to never step foot on again. As long-held emotions rekindle, he can only admit his true feelings via unsigned letters left on Evelyn’s porch … until another man comes forward to claim the correspondence as his own. Will one final note give them the courage to say yes to love on the wild Texas plains?

Relentless: Battling his partner, his attraction to cowgirl Cody, and the demons of his past, Dallas detective Remy LeBeau must take the ultimate risk to catch a serial killer. But it could cost him everything—including Cody’s life.

Broken Wings, Soaring Hearts: Hailey Holman is determined to keep her dad’s dream of reopening their small-town Texas base station alive. Jack Stinson wants to escape the pressures of his own family’s airplane manufacturing business. But asking for each other’s help is anything but blue skies. Can these two focused pilots have enough faith to soar together?

You can find out more the book and Kristina on her website, and feel free to stalk follow her on FacebookTwitter or Instagram

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Lara Temple: About writing, luck, and not waiting for inspiration

Two years ago I got really, really lucky and it’s all my mother’s fault. She loves sending me snippets from magazines – some funny, some pertinent, some frankly bizarre. One little snippet mentioned Harlequin’s SYTYCW (So You Think You Can Write) writing contest and immediately my mind strayed to the boxes of scribbled notebooks shoved into the corner of my workroom and the somewhat less physical but more ominous folder of files on my computer, innocuously labeled ‘Writing’.

This opened up a can of worms for me. I had already scaled down my career to become a business consultant so I could work mostly from home and be with my two little kids, but after years of being the responsible adult I wanted to do something that was absolutely and truly for me. And what I loved most of all was to write.

I’d been writing since I was a little girl but I never really dared believe anyone else would like reading my flights of fancy and so long as I didn’t put my efforts to the test, I remained in that lovely terrain of boundless potential and possibilities. But I knew it was time to jump in and risk finding out if I could become a real author – a career, not just a necessary but personal occupation.

I didn’t think this contest would be an actual stepping-stone into the profession, just a milestone in my own decision. To say I was shocked to make the top ten in the contest was an understatement. I went beyond shocked when the amazing Nicola Caws (now my editor) gave me ‘The Call’ and said they wanted my historical romance manuscript. Mine!

I don’t know how to explain it, but nothing that I had achieved in my other career had felt quite like that. Well, I do know how to explain it – writing is something that is truly intimate. No matter what you write, it requires you to expose yourself (not just your talents, but yourself). It’s like walking into a room full of strangers, standing in the middle of the room and saying – look at me! And like me! Please? – And all that without being able to run out again before they all turn on you and judge.

From that moment on I started doing something which I had only heard about but hadn’t realized was possible – I sat down every day and wrote. The more I wrote the easier it became, which was another surprise for me. I had never thought writing required the kind of discipline I had applied to my career but now I found myself gritting my teeth and writing even when I knew it would probably end up in my ‘excerpt’ file (which is now longer than my books put together).

So when I say I’m lucky it’s not because I actually have books published (which definitely proves the adage ‘more luck than brains’!), but because every day I do something I absolutely love down to the last little follicles of my existence – I sit down and write. Even when it’s terrible or even when I stare at the page and realize I’ve got zilch inspiration, I know it’s still the right thing to be doing with my life.

Now I have two books out and a third coming out in May and two more in the works (and hopefully many, many more). My next one ‘The Duke’s Unexpected Bride’ (coming in April/May). Max and Sophie were such definite characters it was a pleasure to discover them as I wrote (though not always easy!). That’s why I’m so glad the cover really conveys that mix of chemistry, intimacy, and gentleness. So far it’s my favorite book and I can’t wait to see it in print. The day that box with the advance copies arrives is always a day of celebration, another milestone in this amazing journey.



Sophie is the misfit among the nine children of a strict country vicar and is paying her dues at her rich great-aunt's in London by looking after her overweight pugs. All she wants to do is paint and enjoy her temporary freedom from parents and siblings before being sent back home, but thanks to Marmaduke her path tangles with that of Max, the Duke of Harcourt. Max takes his duties very seriously and though his previous engagement ended in tragedy, he knows he must marry and he has a very clear idea of a suitable duchess. The only problem is that the quirky, unpredictable, and distracting Sophie keeps getting in the way, dragging to the surface an old rivalry, his tragic past, and most disconcertingly – his long buried emotions. 

Thursday, January 19, 2017

This Winter Things Are Getting Hot! by Jenny Gardiner

Hi there! Happy New Year to all! I hope you’ve been slogging through this January with not too much hardship…Each day I look to the sky at sunset and smile, knowing the days are getting longer.

Our weather hasn’t been terribly cold, but we’ve been socked in with a lot of rain, which is indeed dreary. But I compensate by making a nice fire in the fireplace, which is my daily accompaniment while I write (working on Blue Collar Romeo—book four of the Royal Romeos series). Unfortunately the hardship in our household this winter is that our beloved 14-1/2 year old Labrador Sassy has been struggling. Which means caring for Sassy has taken up a lot of time and is of course taking a huge emotional toll. It’s so heartbreaking when these babies who give you their undying love reach this point in life. So we’re savoring each day we have with her and take heart on those days when she seems to rebound a bit. I’m now pureeing canned dog food (blech) and sit with her each small meal and encourage her to eat while I mix it with chicken broth to help hydrate her. You just want your pets to live for a thousand years!

So we’re in the new year now, and that means the Chinese New Year is soon! Which I get excited about because I’m the year of the Tiger and I like tigers (so glad I wasn’t the Year of the Rat, right?!). But I’ve been anxiously awaiting the end of this past Chinese lunar year because at my favorite Chinese restaurant they have this huge poster of the forecast for that year for each animal and, well, let’s just say the Tigers were screwed. Nothing good was going to happen all year and a lot of bad things were suggested. Which meant that every time I’d swing in there for carryout at lunch (far too often, mind you) I’d look up at that darned poster and grimace, then fret about looming bad fortune. I’ve been waiting for them to change that poster all year! Of course when the new one gets hung up, if Tigers are doomed yet again I’m going to have to find a new Chinese carryout because I can’t deal with impending doom for another year.

At the end of this month my daughter who’s been living in Australia returns home! So excited for her and her boyfriend to move back to the States! Which means I need to get writing because I’ll be diverted from my writing deadlines catching up with them and making lots of home-cooked meals upon their return for a while!

Hope you get to enjoy some pleasant, brief snowfalls before warm weather, sunshine and blooming trees return!
 Check out my Royal Romeos series, which is a spin-off of my wildly successful It's Reigning Men series--I hope you'll be able to check them out!
  


Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Never judge a book by its cover...


We hear that all the time and yeah, it sounds good. Except, you know, when you're actually looking at books. Let's be honest: there are so many books out there and all of them are vying for reader attention. In this day of quick scrolling and short attention, you need something to jump out and grab the reader, something to slow their scrolling and get them to look a little closer.
             
And what better way than with that cover?
So what makes a cover stick out? If anyone knows the definitive answer to that then please, share it! Because yeah, every author wants to know. But generally speaking, the first thing you do is get a wonderful cover artist. And if you're lucky, a really hot model.

I lucked out with cover artists when I chose Jay Aheer of Simply Defined Art. And I have enough confidence in her not to mess with her process--why should I, when she gives me gorgeous covers? But for Dangerous Passion, I wanted something just a little different.

Well, okay, time for some honesty here. It's not just that I wanted "different"--I wanted BT Urruela. I mean, why wouldn't I?

So my cover artist hooked me up with Christopher John of CJC Photography and I entered the world of custom photography. I had no idea how hard it would be searching through dozens and dozens of pictures (notice I didn't say "hardship" because that would be a total lie!). I finally found one that I really liked and gave it to my cover artist and let her work her magic.



And boy, did she ever!



So why did I pick Dangerous Passion to go the totally-custom route? Well, part of it was the story itself.

Dangerous Passion is a non-hockey romance, a stand-alone and a little different from my other titles. The story has a little bit of intrigue, an introvert set on accepting a crazy dare, and one hot cop hell-bent on something more than a one-night stand. It just so happens the cop resembles BT a tiny bit (and yes, that really was a coincidence because I wrote the book before I even knew who BT was). And oh yeah--it has some super steamy sex in it, a little hotter than some of the earlier hockey books.

No, this isn't an answer to that elusive question of which kind of covers work best to catch the reader's attention. I still don't know the answer to that. But it's definitely a step in the right direction when you throw in a gorgeous model, a talented photographer, and a rocking cover artist!



You can learn more about Dangerous Passion, including purchase links, by clicking here: http://www.lisabkamps.com/dangerous-passion/

And to celebrate hot covers, I'm giving away two digital copies of Dangerous Passion. Just leave a comment below and I'll pick two random names on Friday!

Until next time,
Lisa

To learn more about me and my hockey books, and firefighter books, and steamy stand-alones, check out my website. And feel free to follow me on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter!

Monday, January 16, 2017

Dani Collins: New Year, New Books!

I'm delighted start the year with a new book! Not In Her Wildest Dreams, released yesterday, Jan 15th!


I'm equally delighted to tell you that the wonderful Lee of Author Sound Relations, who runs this blog, was my cover artist. Didn't she knock it out of the park?

These books are very much a project of passion for me. I wrote them before I sold, back when I was struggling and facing repeated rejections and growing quite sure no one would ever read my books.

When you take twenty-five years to sell, you get pretty disheartened. But after much soul searching and fist shaking and crying in the shower, I accepted that I am a romance writer, whether my books find eyes beyond my own or not. I kept submitting because I hoped to sell, but I wrote because I had to.

I actually had an agent when I wrote these books, but they weren't picked up and we parted ways. I set the stories aside when I placed in Harlequin Presents Instant Seduction contest. By that time, I had realized that one of the reasons I hadn't sold was that I kept writing something different every time I sat down. Glamor? Check. Small town? Got it. Erotic Romance. Shh. Medieval Fantasy? Why not? I didn't know where I wanted to be.

Actually, I had always, always wanted to be with Harlequin Presents, so I focused on that and six or eight manuscripts later, this happened-->
(It should be noted that Harlequin Presents are published as Mills & Boon Modern in the UK.) The career I had been waiting for had arrived!

But I had all these manuscripts on the hard drive. Some were out on submission (The Healer) and some I'd started to look at indie publishing (Hustled To The Altar.) I no sooner had those published and I found Montana Born. Those six books filled my time between Presents for the next three years!

Paige and Sterling and L.C. and Mercedes waited quietly in the wings. Well, Paige was miffed, but she's used to being taken for granted so she just rolled her eyes. Sterling is perfection personified so he was like, "I know you're waiting for the right moment. I can wait, too." Mercedes was so busy running after her niece and nephew, she didn't have time to notice, and L.C. couldn't give a f--- about anything. Although, now that he and Mercedes have found their HEA, he's more pussycat than badass. Getting laid has a way of settling him down.

If you're a fan of my Montana Born books, you'll love these. They take place in fictional Liebe Falls. Actually, L.C. leaves after book one and winds up in Arizona, at a senior's complex, of all places, but certain things are calling him back.

They're longer books, full of quirky secondary characters, angst and drama and laughs. They're different from my Presents, but I hope you try them and enjoy the heck of them anyway!

Not In Her Wildest Dreams is available now on all platforms:

Amazon Universal | Nook Kobo | iBooks | GooglePlay | Smashwords

Only In His Sweetest Dreams releases Feb 1:

Amazon Universal | NookKobo | iBooks | GooglePlay | Smashwords

Dani Collins is the USA Today Bestselling author of thirty romances for Harlequin Mills and Boon, Tule's Montana Born, and herself. She lives in rural BC, Canada with her high school sweetheart. 





Sunday, January 15, 2017

Michelle Styles: Celebrating My 25th Harlequin Mills and Boon Historical plus giveaway

On 1 Feburary 2017 (or 17 January 2017 depending on where you are in the world) my 25th Harlequin Historical will be officially published — SOLD TO THE VIKING WARRIOR.
When I first sold to Harlequin Historical, I hoped that  Gladiator’s Honour would not be a one hit and that there would be more.  The memory of that day lingers long in my mind. I had convinced myself that the calls only happened on  Thursday and when Linda Fildew phoned, I thought – well it will be more revisions and I must be very close.  Linda was confused as she always phoned on a Friday to give the new author a wonderful weekend. It was the start of a special relationship which lasts until today.
The print version of the article with my cover
It was Linda who suggested that I might like to try writing Vikings. The resulting book Taken by the Viking was recently called by The Times an unimprovable title and used as a pivot for a supportive article about Mills and Boon. What impressed me was that the journalist, Ben Macintrye who is better known for his serious  hard-hitting pieces about the secret services manage to capture the essence of how I write Vikings — namely ‘The heroine may be taken by the Viking but, by the last page, the Viking is no longer the brute he was.’ The piece also used the UK cover of Taken to illustrate it in the print version. So it was thrilling on Christmas Eve  to make The Times.
One of the reasons why Harlequin has bought my stories is the readers. To honour those who had asked for more Viking stories, the book is dedicated to them. The first feedback I have had from a reader has been positive which is excellent and I do hope people like this tale.
I wrote SOLD TO THE VIKING WARRIOR because my youngest son has been volunteering on the Western Scottish Isle of Oronsay and told me about how the Vikings had based their fleets there. My husband and I then went on a holiday to Islay and I became inspired to write this story, particularly after I learned more about the history of the island and how Somerled was most likely half Gaellic and half Norse.
I currently hard at work on the sequal.
The back cover reads:
In her captor's bed! 
Women are not part of Sigurd Sigmundson's existence, and Eilidith should purely be a means to an end to gain access to a well-guarded Viking stronghold. He would have to be made of iron, though, not to be stirred by the warmly sensual woman beneath her ice-cold shield. 
Liddy has been made to feel ugly and insignificant because of her facial birthmark. Surely her captor couldn't physically desire her? But, oh, how the stifled, passionate Liddy yearns to experience unrestrained love in his arms…
You can read the first chapter at overdrive.
It is available online at Harlequin, Amazon.com, Mills & Boon, Amazon.co.uk and Barnes and Noble to mention a few places.
Because it has been a tradition with me:



GIVEAWAY
I am giving away ONE signed copy of SOLD TO THE VIKING WARRIOR
Please email me at michelle@michellestyles.co.uk  the name of the hero and heroine of SOLD TO THE VIKING WARRIOR. I will be choosing the winner on 28 January. void where prohibited.

Michelle Styles writes warm, witty and intimate historicals in a wide range of historical periods. You can learn more about Michelle and her books on www.michellestyles.co.uk 

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Christina Hollis: Things That Go Bump In The Night?

The eye of a living dinosaur?
I love reading, but I don’t have much time to sit and concentrate. Things changed over the holiday season, as my daughter gave me a book for Christmas which kept me glued to its pages. Although it wasn’t my normal sort of reading matter I managed to finish it in only a few days days. That was despite needing to jump up at regular intervals to walk the dog, feed the poultry and visit the bees, not to mention running the house! 

The book was about the study of mysterious creatures (Cryptozoology), and I’d never thought of buying for myself but it was an absolute winner. Short, illustrated and exciting, Cryptozoologicon Vol I, by John Conway, C.M. Kosemen and Darren Naish, turned out to be a great present.

Scientist Dr Darren Naish and his fellow contributors set out to shine a light on what they call the sloppy and wishful thinking that brings the study of mysterious beasts into disrepute. Cryptozoologicon gives details of what is known about twenty-eight shadowy beings such as BigFoot.  The available sightings and reports are examined in the light of the authors’ idea that;

"...cryptozoology should be seen as a mixture of sociology, psychology and ethnology as well as zoology." 

Go down to the woods today—you're sure of a big surprise...
If you're fascinated by why legends are born and develop, and how humans always try to explain away the unusual, this is the book for you. Each of the weird and wonderful creatures is examined in detail, and illustrated.  The Chupacabra in particular stopped me going out into woods after dark for a night or two, I can tell you!

Like all the best books, Cryptozoologicon produces nuggets of fascinating (and genuine) information where you least expect it. If you've ever wondered how bats evolved or why there aren't any large, water dwelling marsupials, this book offers some suggestions.

This was a new reading experience for me, and it’s encouraged me to look beyond my usual genres in the new year.


Have you made any reading resolutions for 2017?

Friday, January 13, 2017

Can't Find NoBODY

Happy New Years everyone...well, happy new year +11 days!!  I hope you had a lovely holiday, surrounded by family, friends, love and of course Glee!!

I've got a new (old) release for a new year!!  Can't find NoBODY!!  It was originally published as Found and Lost. I am so happy that this ebook version is going back to my title.  I mean, a disappearing dead body romance...could there be any better title than Can't Find NObody???  Nope.  I wrote this book for Harlequin's Flipside line...but the line was on its way out by the time the book came out, so this might be an older book, but there's a good chance it'll be new to you!  Here's more about it...
~~~

Fans of Holly Jacobs' bestselling Maid in LA Mysteries are in for another zany who-dunnit. This time there's a disappearing (and reappearing) dead body.

As she hurries out the door on Monday morning, Markie Walkowicz trips over a body. A very dead body. She calls 911 from her closet, because what sane woman would stay on the porch with a dead body and a potential murderer hanging around? To make a bad Monday worse, the cop who shows up is Detective Zac Marshall--her longtime (former) friend. He announces there's nobody...uh, no body on her porch.

Over the next few days that body in its orange and green plaid suit keeps turning up—but never sticks around long enough for Zac to see it. Will he have to hang around full-time before he believes her?

Markie eventually admits that having Zac hang around isn't that bad. Even if she can't find no body, maybe she has found her somebody.




Reviews:
"Holly Jacobs' latest . . . is a delight. A darkly comic whodunit, it's her best book yet."
 ~RT BOOKclub

"Ms. Jacobs delivers a sweet love storyfilled with humor to enchant her readers . . . prepare to be thoroughly entertained."
 ~Love Romances

"Holly Jacobs is the master of humorous writing."
 ~Writers Unlimited Reviewer

"Holly Jacobs hits the laugh track again with this fabulously funny tale of love and mystery."
 ~Romance Junkies

". . . an exceptionally humorous and delightful tale."
 ~CataRomance Reviews
Here's my new cover for my second release in 2017  Not Precisely Pregnant.  I pitched this romantic comedy to my editor as Shrek meets Pollyanna!  It features two reporters...one who covers hard hitting news stories and one who reports using the tagline Nice News Matters. To be honest, I do love nice news and think the world could use more of it!  It's out February 7th!  But you can preorder it now!!  
My books World Travels:
Carry Her Heart went going to Turkey.
Dad Today, Groom Tomorrow went to Spain.
Once Upon a King went to Portugal.
A Valley Ridge Christmas went to France...for a second time.
Ready, Willing and Abel? & Raising Cain are going to Spain.
I love taking Erie, PA all over the world! I've got to confess, I love the idea that readers in other countries are reading about Erie!






As always, thank you everyone for all your support!  2016 has been an amazing year!  September's Hold Her Heart has been on the bestseller list and the first book in the Words of the Heart series, Carry Her Heart, is a bestseller in Turkey.  And Just One Thing passed 100,000 books sold!  And I know that every one of those successes is because of you! So again, thank you!

I've signed on for blogging here for another year!  You can catch my posts on the 13th of every month!

Holly

PS.  The dead body in Can't Find NoBODY appears...then disappears. I set the book in Philadelphia not Erie. Why? Both get cold, but Philly doesn't get the snow we do. And everyone knows, if you're dragging a body, frozen earth is so much better at preventing drag marks than snow is!



Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Carole Mortimer: A Happy New Year to Everyone!




I can’t believe we’re into 2017 already. Where does the time go?

For me that time is spent with my lovely family and friends, with the added happiness of writing the romance books I love to write, in the contemporary and Regency genres.

2017 is going to see some very exciting publications in both my Regency and contemporary series.

On the 24th of this month I publish Tempting Zander, the 5th book in my Knight Security series. This is the story of Kate Stewart, mega rock star, and Zander Buchanan, the man in charge of her security detail on her world tour after her life is threatened by her ex-boyfriend. The attraction between Kate and Zander is immediate and combustible! You have met Zander in several of the previous books in this series, so it was especially fun to write his story. The buy link for this pre-order is listed below. Coming up next in this exciting contemporary series will be Enticing Ian. 


On the 24th February I will publish Tamed by the Earl, the 9th and last book in the Regency Unlaced series. The hero of this book is Daniel Somersby, the Earl of Latham, and the older brother of Thea, the heroine in the 1st book of the series, The Duke’s Mistress. Tamed by the Earl is also available for pre-order, with the buy link below. I am happy to say that the pre-order for this book has been Amazon #1 Gothic for the past 2 weeks, and it is also #1 Gothic Hot New Release.

I will be starting a new Regency series in April, called Regency Sinners, which I am very much looking forward to writing. The ideas for storylines for this series are simply buzzing around in my head, but I’ll tell you more about this new and exciting Regency series in my February blog.

As always, the stories in my Regency Unlaced, Knight Security, and Alpha series are all romances with a dash of suspense and/or danger. They are also more explicit in their language and sexual content than my other books. In other words, they’re hot, so you have been warned!

Also available on Barnes & Noble, iBooks, Kobo, and Smashwords
Also available on Barnes & Noble, iBooks, Kobo and Smashwords

 Carole Mortimer has written 220 books in the contemporary and Regency romance genres. She is 2015 Recipient of the prestigious Romance Writers of America Lifetime Achievement Award. A USA Today Bestselling Author. Entertainment Weekly Top 10 Romance Author—ever. 2014 Romantic Times Pioneer of Romance. In 2012 Carole was recognized by Queen Elizabeth II for her ‘outstanding service to literature’.
She is very happily married to Peter, they have 6 sons, and live on the beautiful Isle of Man.


Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Donna Alward: Small Bits of Inspiration

Where does my inspiration come from? I get asked that question quite often, and sometimes the answer is simple and broad. The story came to me because… But more often, inspiration comes in little bits and pieces. I might have a general idea for the heroine but be stumped on the hero. I might have an idea for a story and my editor might tell me half my idea doesn’t work and I have to go back to the drawing board again. Or the brainstorming group.

For an upcoming story, my editor thought I’d picked the wrong hero for the heroine. So I took part of another idea and borrowed it for a different hero. The problem? That hero is the brother of another character and so I ended up having to make adjustments to the first books in the series to keep continuity intact. Still, once I revisited the story, everything seemed to fit so much better.

In Somebody Like You, which is out next month, the heroine once dumped a milkshake over a boy’s head. That actually happened in my high school (I won’t mention names). It was one of those gestures that raised eyebrows and got talked about, and so the town of Darling hasn’t forgotten that Laurel got pretty ticked at Aiden one day when they were seventeen, dumped a vanilla milkshake over his head, and they haven’t spoken since. For me, the best research technique is simply life.
In Someone To Love, the heroine, Willow, is big on meditation and yoga. It helped her rebuild her life. I’ve done yoga in the past, but to really do it justice in this book, I signed up for a series at my local studio. And I’ve stayed there, because it has helped me SO much with my stress level and putting my life in perspective. 

Sometimes bits of dialogue, articles of clothing can be inspired by something small. For example, in Someone To Love, Willow wears a pretty top on her first real date with Ethan. That top is modeled after one my daughter wore on her first date – very pretty and with butterflies on it; a bit whimsical and something that would suit Willow perfectly.

The little things, the small details, are often what makes a book really come alive. I like to think of those small details as being particularly a part of me, and the world I inhabit, and the people I love. And I like to think that my readers get to know more about me and who I am by living through my characters.

Here’s a small snippet from SOMEBODY LIKE YOU, when cop Aiden Gallagher responds to Laurel Stone’s call about a break in at her garden center:

“Something like this happens everywhere, Laurel. What, you didn’t think crime happened in Darling?”

Well, no. Or at least, not until today. The fact that she’d already come to this disappointing conclusion, and then he’d repeated it, just made her angrier.

Coming home was supposed to be peaceful. Happy. The town was small, friendly, neighborly. Even after years away, many of her customers remembered her from her school years and recalled stories from those days. Darling even had a special “Kissing Bridge” in the park. There were several stories around how the bridge got the name, so no one really knew for sure. But the stone bridge and the quaint little legend to go with it brought tourists to the area and made Darling’s claim to fame a very romantic one. In a nutshell, those who stood on the bridge and sealed their love with a kiss would be together forever.

She should know all about it. Her picture—and Aiden’s—hung in the town offices to advertise the attraction. Just because they’d only been five years old at the time didn’t make it less of an embarrassment.

“I’m not naïve,” she replied sharply. “Is there anything else you need or can I get back to cleaning up?”

“Can you think of anyone who might want to give you trouble? Someone with a grudge or axe to grind?”

Other than you? she thought darkly. This was the first time they’d actually spoken since she’d poured vanilla milkshake over his head in the school cafeteria in their senior year. “No,” she replied. “I can’t imagine who’d want to do this.”

“I don’t suppose you have any video cameras installed.”

She shook her head, feeling inept and slightly stupid. Maybe she was a little naïve after all. She hadn’t lived in Darling since she was nineteen—nine  years. Things had changed in her absence. New people, new businesses.

“I’ll have another look around. It looks like a case of vandalism more than anything. Probably some teenagers thinking it’s funny, or after the cash for booze or pot, and smashed some stuff for show.” His gaze touched hers. “Kids can be really dumb at that age.”

Her cheeks heated. He hadn’t had to say the actual words for her to catch his meaning. “You never know. They might have been dared to do it. Or some sort of stupid bet.”

He held her gaze a few seconds longer, and she could tell by the look in his eyes that he acknowledged the hit. He’d kissed her because of one of those bets . . . more than kissed her. They’d been parking in his car and he’d rounded second base and had been headed for third. And then she’d found out about the wager and lost her cool. Publicly. With the milkshake.

The only thing she regretted was saying yes to going on that drive in the first place.
“So you still haven’t forgiven me for that.”

Laurel lifted her chin. “To my recollection, you haven’t asked for forgiveness.”

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Monday, January 09, 2017

The resolution route - Kandy Shepherd




Happy New Year to all my lovely Tote Bags ‘n’ Blogs friends! Whether you’re sweltering in heat-waves like we are Down Under or delighting in record snow falls I wish you all the best for 2017.



Did you make some New Year resolutions? By January 9 mine are usually well and truly broken so this year I decided not to make any. They’re inevitably the same anyway: lose weight, get fitter, budget better etcetera, etcetera. I know I want to do all that stuff but I might succeed if I look at them in a less punitive way! My dietician-in-training daughter is telling me it's all about mindfulness and I'm investigating that too.



But of course the one thing I do intend to do is to continue to enjoy writing romance novels—and reading them too!

What about you? Are you a resolution maker—or not? Have you ever made a resolution you were very glad you made? Do make a comment as I’d love to hear about it.

(If you're in the mood for relaxing rather than making resolutions, my fun, sensual holiday novella, Millionaire Under the Mistletoe is at e-retailers for just $0.99.

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.

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