Thursday, February 28, 2019

The Challenges of Rewriting a Classic Tale by Nancy Fraser #RomanceGems

The criteria for a great fairy tale is not all that different from the formula used for an engaging romance. Both require the following:

A sensitive, brave, intelligent hero—preferably good looking, or at least confident in his appearance.

A strong, beautiful, empathetic heroine who’s not afraid to kick a little butt should the situation call for it.

A plot fraught with angst, danger and attraction. Whether the attraction leads to a chaste kiss or a steamy love scene depends on your audience.

A resolution that is both enlightening and satisfying, not only for the reader but also for the characters.

And, of course, the Happily Ever After required of all great tales.

My Beyond Fairy Tales story, Do You Want Me, is based on the Grimm Brothers tale, The Devil’s Sooty Brother. More macabre than romantic, it’s the tale of a soldier who returns from war to find he’s lost everything he’d left behind.

In order to make a new life for himself, he agrees to work for the devil and earn the money he needs to begin again. The idea of creating a ‘devil’ gave me the perfect protagonist for my story. The original tale also contains a king who has two daughters. While not a huge part of the original story, the idea of sisters fueled my naughty imagination.

So, how does an author of modern-day romances take a fairy tale written hundreds of years ago and make it current?

I started by outlining my had to be the soldier from the fairy tale...complete with memories and scars. In most cases, the next character I’d work on would be the heroine. However, since in the original, there are no female characters present until the very end, I decided to flesh out other aspects of the story first before getting a handle on who would steal my hero’s heart.

As with any series, there were also certain requirements set forth by the publisher. The biggest challenge among those was the inclusion of a narrator. Nicodemus, the storyteller, is a must for every book. I admit, I fretted over how to include this ‘outsider’. Then, two glasses of Baileys-over-ice later, I had it! (I do some of my best plotting under the influence of Bailey’s and crushed ice.)

I don’t want to give too much away other than to say, I have a sexy, battle-weary hero, a feisty tease of a heroine, a devil of a protagonist, and a father who holds an important position of influence (a king of sorts).

I’ve also done something I’d never attempted before. I wrote the entire story in the hero’s point of view...even the steamy love scenes.

About the Book...

Decorated war hero Reece Michaels agrees to go undercover in order to bring down the Irish Mob. In return, the civilian life he’s coveted for the past six years will be returned to him.

Hired by mob boss Sean O’Malley to protect his youngest son, Reece soon discovers the young man needs more protection from his own family than its enemies.

What Reece doesn’t count on is his instant attraction to the police chief’s beautiful and willing daughter. Abby Mackenzie is the younger sister of a woman with whom Reece once had a torrid affair. He’s determined to not give in to Abby’s come-hither ways. After all, one Mackenzie woman was more than enough.

Available from Amazon and currently on sale for 99¢. Also in audio book from Audible. Narrated by the incredible TG Burns. What that man did with a love scene should be a sin!

~ ~ ~
One quick reminder...

Today is the last day to enter our Rafflecopter drawing, as well as your last chance to get in on this week's Comment and Win drawing!

Best of luck to everyone. I'll be back on Saturday with an update on all the winners!


Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Is Pinterest the new Writer's Vision board? by Peggy Jaeger #RomanceGems

I'm a very visual person. I'm that annoying girl who can remember the exact color of a dress someone wore to a wedding twenty years ago, or how long someone's hair was on such and such a day in high school. I see, and navigate through, the world in colors, shapes, hues. Considering I can't remember what I had for breakfast today ( did I have breakfast today??) this is a good trait for a writer to possess.

When I start to pen a new book I usually see the entire story in my head first, like a full length movie, and then I set about putting words to describe what I've seen. When I first started writing fiction ( 175 years ago!) I made Vision Boards. Armed with a blank poster board, I'd save all my fashion mags for a few months and then meticulously pick through them looking for the faces of my hero and heroine, the setting of the story, secondary characters, and anything else pertaining to the book I was about to write. It took forevah!! All the searching, choosing, cutting, pasting, taping, arranging, aligning. It got to be almost a second job at times!

Imagine how elated I was to discover PINTEREST

No longer do I need to troll through magazines and periodicals searching for the perfect visuals to capture my story's essence. Now, with a few clicks and a well worded search, I can plot a book in pictures in half the time - maybe even less. And having Pinterest on the computer is great because when I'm stuck trying to remember if my hero has blue eyes or steely grey, one or two clicks and  I've got my answer in full living color. It's so much easier now to describe people, settings, objects, since I have innumerable choices to view.

For my new bridal series A MATCH MADE IN HEAVEN, I originally did my standard vision board for all three books.

As you can probably tell from this picture, the poster board is a tri-fold, stands three feet tall, and has over 100 images on it. Imagine all the fun ( and I say that with heavy sarcasm attached) I had cutting and pasting all those images in a coherent manner for me to understand my story, one book at a time. There are 3 books planned with a 4th I may throw in for a holiday story.

Now, compare the above to my Pinterest boards for the same book series: O'DOWDCathleen & MacIzzy's Shower Nanny Fee and Maureen's Aprons. I can't even begin to describe how much easier it's been to just refer to those boards whenever I need to remember an item, a heroine's outfit for the day, the color of a wedding palette.

Bliss. Pure and total bliss. Plus I'm saving a fortune on paper, poster board, tape, magazines, and time!

I can devote so much more time to actually getting the movie I saw play in my head written down on my laptop so it can be read by romance readers everywhere!

My darling daughter recently got engaged and has set up wedding boards on her private Pinterest account. Oh, how I wish I'd had this available to me 150 years ago when I wed!!! I spent the equivalent of a small country's gross national product on bridal magazines back then. I'm not kidding. Not even a smidge.

Book 1 in my MATCH MADE IN HEAVEN series, DEARLY BELOVED is out now and tells the story of  36 year old single-and-looking Wedding Planner, Colleen O'Dowd and Financier Slade Harrington. If you like opposites attract, oil and water characters, this book has your name on it! Click on my Pinterest boards again if you've read the book and you'll understand the meaning behind all the images I picked.

Remember : To be entered in Comment & Win, all you have to do is read the post of the day—or any post you may have missed. Then leave a comment with your email address written out. That means like Mary at yahoo dot com. (Don't leave your email as a "hot link" or web crawlers will harvest it and flood your Inbox.) The more comments you make; the greater your chance of winning. Grand Opening Rafflecopter Be sure and enter the Rafflecopter for a chance to win a Kindle Fire and Ebook Gift Bundles.

And if you're looking for me, you can usually find me here: Tweet Me//Read Me// Visit Me//Picture Me//Pin Me//Friend Me//Google+Me// Triber// BookMe // Monkey me //Watch me

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Fresh Prints of Romance by @BonnieEdwards #RomanceGems

 I wrote this post in early January before we left for our Winter Break in sunny Portugal, so it might seem a But so be it, there’s only so much brain power to go around when you’re juggling packing, planning, arranging housesitting, and more for two months away. But here we are and I STILL want to share this post because of the pretties...

One day early in December,  my daughter suggested that I could sell some copies of print books at the reception desk of the clinic she owns. "Christmas movies from Hallmark are all the rage with my clients. I thought they might also enjoy your Christmas books."

YAY! Yippee! I thought. "I'll get right on that," I said.

I'm a little late receiving these, but here they are, my three Christmas stories: Not-So-Blue Christmas, Invitation to Christmas, and One Crazy Christmas. All in print and so pretty! As much as I love reading on my Kindle, there is still something wonderful about seeing my work on the printed page.

It may be too late to sell any of these in the real world, but I'll have them ready for next Christmas's shopping season. In the meantime, I'll bask in the glow of knowing my daughter wants to help and support me in this crazy endeavour called writing.

This year, I'm hoping to get a lot more followers on BookBub, a site for readers and writers to share their love of books. I'm one quarter and a bit of the way to my target of 1000 readers following me there. So if you’ve never poked around Bookbub here’s a chance to follow me and see what it’s about.

And here’s where I remind you that time is running out on our fabulous  Comment & Win and Rafflecopter for the month of February.

To be entered in Comment & Win, all you have to do is read the post of the day—or any post you may have missed. Then leave a comment with your email address written out. That means like Mary at yahoo dot com. (Don't leave your email as a "hot link" or web crawlers will harvest it and flood your Inbox.) The more comments you make; the greater your chance of winning.

The Romance Gems also have a Grand Opening Rafflecopter! Be sure and enter the Rafflecopter for a chance to win a Kindle Fire and Ebook Gift Bundles.

Monday, February 25, 2019

The Genius and Usefulness of Post-its by Cheryl Bolen

Little did I realize the first time I ever saw little yellow Post-its in the early 1980s how much I would come to rely on them. I still remember my awe that this paper could stick—and stick without leaving any residue and still be able to stick again.

I am not alone in my admiration of this product, first patented by 3M. One would have to look far and wide to find someone who hadn’t used these nifty little sheets of re-adherable  paper.

Businesses, too, widely use these strips in a variety a ways, including those little arrows directing clients where to sign documents. 

Here's my current list of groceries I'm out of, hanging on my kitchen wall.
I wonder if others use Post-its (which has become a generic word like Kleenex or Coke) for their grocery list. When I was working as a journalist or school teacher, I could not have made my grocery list on little square Post-it because in those days, with two hungry sons at home, I made lo-o-o-o-ong grocery lists. I even made the week’s menus on one side and the necessary groceries on the other for a once-weekly trip to the store.

Now that I’m not punching a time clock and those sons are grown and gone, I typically swing by the grocery store several times a week, usually after leaving my gym. And now my list can easily fit on those little squares.  Anytime one walks in my kitchen she or he can find a little yellow Post-it slapped on my wall with items like almonds or milk scratched in tiny letters.

Then when it’s time to go to the store, I slap that Post-it on the inside of an outside pocket of my purse for easy retrieving at the market.

I had these Post-its made up to add little notes to readers when I send them books.
The patent on Post-its expired in 1997, and a gazillion companies are now making the product in every hue in the color spectrum and in shapes ranging from hearts to initials. Logos are printed on them for promotional purposes, or cute little designs can be found. Even after all these years, I still love them. In fact, I never met a Post-it I didn’t like. I’d love for you to share your favorite uses for Post-its.—Cheryl Bolen, whose latest release is Last Duke Standing, Book 3 in the Lords of Eton series of Regency-set historical novels.

Sunday, February 24, 2019

Writing Sexual Tension by Judith Hudson #Romance Gems Or
Hi everyone!

I'm a new member of the Romance Gems. I write the Fortune Bay Series, which is small town contemporary romance.

Before we get down to the art of writing sexual tension...

The Romance Gems Launch month is drawing to a close next week - has it ever gone fast! I want to remind you to -

enter our RAFFLECOPTER DRAW for a chance at a Kindle Fire or one of six ebook bundles from our wonderful authors!

Also, remember our weekly COMMENT TO WIN promotion! Be entered to win a $5 Amazon gift card just for commenting on this or any other Romance Gems post! Remember, when posting a comment, leave your email address written out like this: LuckyReader at gmail dot com in order to avoid those dratted email harvesters.

Now, back to writing sexual tension...

For me, part of the fun of writing romance is writing scenes that shimmer with sexual tension. Think of TV shows where the couple is hot together, sometimes for years, and as a watcher you're thinking, “Just kiss her already!”

And when he doesn’t – you’re definitely there for the next episode!

Like Ross and Rachel. Sure, they got together, but never for long. And we didn’t need hot and heavy onscreen sex to feel their longing.

The buildup is usually more fun for the viewer than what happens after the kiss. Often, that basically spells the end of the series.

I went looking for the scene of their first kiss and at first, the only gif I could find of that first-kiss moment was just - the kiss.


Without the scene that leads up to it, it’s just a kiss. Compare it to the whole scene – actually, there's a 30 episode lead-up, but in this scene they fight, he storms out, she slams the door and locks it. Then,

Now that’s a kiss!

Same kiss, but so much more powerful with the lead up - and we didn't even watch the whole scene! (If you want to see it all, the link is at the end of this post.)

More than down and dirty sex, I like to read - and write - sexual tension.

Click here to read a Sample of Sexual Tension in the first novel of the Fortune Bay Series, Summer of Fortune. (Scroll down on my web page to read the excerpt.)

And you'll find Summer of Fortune FREE on all online book stores!

What TV couple do you remember who really kept the tension running? I'd love to hear your ideas. Adding your comments below will automatically enter you in the February Blog Launch contest!

Thanks for joining me today. Visit me at my Website and my Facebook Page, and let's chat.

P.S. You can find the whole R&R-first-kiss-scene here on YouTube. I think you'll agree, the more build-up the better.

Saturday, February 23, 2019

Isn't She Grand? by Kathryn Hills #RomanceGems

Snow swirls hypnotically across the windshield as we pick our way through Crawford Notch. And it strikes me… Isn’t it odd that we never visit this iconic location in good weather? I suppose “good” is the debatable word. After all, these are the White Mountains of New Hampshire in winter where snow is considered white gold.

Toasty-warm during the picturesque drive north (White Mountain National Forest is approximately 3.5 hours from Boston) I can’t help but touch the frosty windows as excitement has me fidgeting. One more turn and the road will widen. Then we’ll see her. Stark white and magnificent, topped with a shiny red roof. Distinct against the bluish-grey of the tallest mountain in the northeast. Our home away from home for a long winter’s weekend—the glorious Mount Washington Hotel!

The Mount Washington Hotel, Bretton Woods, NH

This marvel of modern ingenuity for its time (construction finished in 1902) was built by New Hampshire native Joseph Stickney, a gilded-age industrialist who made a fortune in coal and railroads. He spared no expense, from the steal and granite structure to the heating, plumbing, electricity, woodwork, and furnishings. Wealthy visitors flocked from northern cities to behold its grandeur (see the hotel’s link below for more history).

My first visit to the grande dame—now an Omni resort—was for a ghost-hunting/paranormal event in 2016, hosted by Strange Escapes. The founder of this unusual travel company, Amy Bruni, is best known for her role as an investigator and researcher on Syfy channel’s Ghost Hunters. My daughter and I were Amy’s guests on that occasion, along with over one hundred like-minded “escapees,” paranormal enthusiasts, celebrities, researchers, and other authors. The event was exciting, thought provoking, and it marked the beginning of more trips to haunted locations with the group. I highly recommend the experience if you enjoy exploring the unknown in style (see Strange Escapes’ link below).

Since then, I’ve returned to the Mt. Washington Hotel many times with family, friends, and my daughter for another escape. Simply put, we love the place! Yet what about this iconic location entices us and so many others to return? “It’s haunted, you know.” I can’t tell you how many have whispered those words to me. Followed by, “One time, when we were there…” and ghost stories gush forth. Few mention the luxury accommodations or spectacular mountain views first. It’s typically the thrill of other-worldly experiences coupled with the five-star resort. A close encounter with spirit on the way to the slopes or while filling your ice bucket? Yes! However, I’d say it’s more.

The Great Hall

I’ve been lucky enough to reflect while writing in the elegant Great Hall or slouched in a wicker chair in the garden corridor. Two of my “favorite haunts.” For me there is a deep sense of residual history. Feelings...impressions... Pride, joy, sadness, celebration, toil – the essence of past lives. The hotel is haunted, in my opinion, by Princess Carolyn, Joseph Stickney’s widow. But also, by those who have worked there and been guests. Souls who’ve left a mark—good or bad—which imprints on some guests today.

Charles Alling Gifford
One personal experience is the day I met the architect and builder of the Mount Washington Hotel, Charles Alling Gifford. I discovered his handsome countenance in a portrait, hanging in The Gifford Room. Tucked away in a discreet corner on the main floor, the door to his room was closed, yet I felt compelled to sneak in. I stood before him as seconds stretched into long minutes. Charles Gifford left his mark on me that afternoon, inspiring a character in my Time Traveler’s Journey Series. (Allen Whitman, the architect of Highland House) Call me crazy, but it was a profoundly haunting experience when Mr. Gifford stepped beyond the veil to spark a character.

Here’s a bit about Haunting Highland House
Psst…there’s a $0.99 Kindle sale currently on Amazon

She’s looking to escape her man troubles. Instead, she finds the man of her dreams. There’s only one problem. He’s dead.

Living in a haunted house and uncovering a gateway in time were not in the job description when Samantha Merrill agreed to be the property manager of Highland House. Old photos of the reclusive master of the manor captivate her, yet she’s terrified when he appears out of nowhere. How can Robert Pennington be making love to her by the parlor fireplace when he died over a century ago? Robert Pennington is a powerful industrialist charged with caring for an ailing father, a meddling mother, and two wayward siblings.

Weary of his burdens, he longs for change. Is he ready for a woman from the future? His disciplined world turns upside down when the mysterious Samantha Merrill crashes his sister’s birthday ball. He is wildly attracted to this intriguing beauty, but is it magic or mischief motivating her? When Sam vanishes before his eyes, he knows only one thing for certain. He wants her back.

I hope you’ve enjoyed the tale of my haunted love affair with one of New Hampshire’s grandest hotels. Maybe you have your own ghost story? I’d love to hear from you. And a great big thank you for visiting my first blog post with these awesome Romance Gems!


To learn more about me and my books, visit my website

Sources & Links

The Omni Mount Washington Hotel

Strange Escapes

YouTube of the Strange Escapes 2016 Mt. Washington Hotel event

Enter the Romance Gems’ “Comment & Win” weekly drawing for a $5 Amazon gift card. Just comment on any of our post throughout the month and you’ll automatically be entered.

Don’t forget the big Rafflecopter drawing for a chance to win a Kindle Fire or one of six book bundles from our wonderful Gem authors!

Friday, February 22, 2019

Crazy Busy Writer Needs Coffee by Nancy Fraser #RomanceGems

Wow! What a month it's been so far. Here we are 3/4 of the way through February and, to me at least, it feels as if it should be June. Other than that blasted winter weather of course.

Last week I posted about making my yearly writing project list. And I did. It just grew far more expansive than I'd expected. I made the mistake of checking out three of my four publishers' wish lists and now my crazy brain won't stop pumping out ideas.

Most writers would love to be in that predicament. Not me. The older I get, the less my brain wants to scramble. What I use to accomplish with a day planner and some sticky notes, now takes a spreadsheet, a white board, copious markers of different colors, and lots and lots of coffee.

Just to give you an idea of how much coffee I drink, I've usually had two 12 oz cups before I even think about breakfast. I'm on my second Keurig in three years. And, it's not because they're defective.

My online coffee order arrived just the other day. Final count: 285 pods! As you can see by this snapshot ... I'm addicted!

Last Friday, as planned, I began my spreadsheet. Coffee in hand, this is what I came up with ...

Now, if only my muse will cooperate!

Since I've been all about sneak peaks my last few posts, I'll give you a quick look at one of my books scheduled for Fall release. Note: this is not the cover but a mock up for promotion!

Waking Up in Oz
Location, Location! - Set in 1975 in the small town of Oswald, KS. Yes, Kansas ... where tornadoes are as plentiful as the fields of golden wheat. So, hold on to your hat, it could get windy!

When attorney Dorothy Gail Farmer leaves her firm's offices in Kansas City for the small town of Oswald, she's not sure what to expect.

Sent to file an injunction on behalf of her client, a wildlife rescue mission, Dorothy is certain the task will take her no more than a day or two at most.

What she doesn't bargain on is landing in the middle of a town obsessed with the Oz legend and meeting so many strange people. And, of course, there's the tornado.

~ ~ ~
Out of all the books I've written, this one has been the absolute most fun!

Speaking of fun ...

Now is also a good time to remind you that we still have our weekly "Comment and Win" contest going on. A $5 Amazon gift card can be yours just for commenting on this or any other Romance Gems post! Don't forget, when posting a comment, to leave your email address. And, to avoid those dratted email harvesters, please write it out like this: romwriter96 at gmail dot com.

Congratulations to our first three gift card winners:

Week #1 - Iris Tseng
Week #2 - Mary Preston
Week #3 - Karin Hagan

And, of course, remember to enter our RAFFLECOPTER DRAW for a chance at a Kindle Fire or one of six book bundles from our wonderful authors!

Until next month ... stay happy, stay healthy, stay well read!


Thursday, February 21, 2019

The Writing Process by Karen Kelley #RomanceGems

     Or I could've titled this Staring At A Blank Page. That's how it all starts, no matter who you are. But I'm getting ahead of myself. The first thing that happens is the glimmer of an idea. The 'what if'.

     Right now, I'm staring out the window at another RV. I rarely see the man next door, and I've never seen him with a companion.

     What if (note: now we're playing the 'what if' game) he killed her (a little horror and suspense)?

     Or what if his wife passed and they loved RVing so he set the RV up and comes out on the weekends to relive those moments? Now we're going into drama.

     Or what if he's staring at our RV right this very minute. If that's the case, he's probably a comedy writer.  

     Step two, or is this step three: Procrastination. I have a great story. I can see it playing out inside my head as if I'm watching a movie. I'm staring at my laptop...

     I probably should wash a load of clothes. Oh darn, I forgot to put bread on my grocery list. I want to go to the Farmers Market this weekend. They have the best homemade jelly.

     NO!  I'm going to write! Think about characters, think about storyline. Deep breath...

     Actually, that's pretty much the way I start a new book. I think that's why it was easy to write Dangling...Participle? The first book in my Hayes Brothers series. Katie is a wannabe romance author. She has all the doubts and fears that go along with wanting something, but being uncertain about her ability to actually write a book. It doesn't help that her sisters and mother want her to get a 'real' job.

     Then she meets Jaxson. He'll help her in ways she never expects.

     Dangling...Participle is a steamy romantic comedy and shares some of the insights into a writing career. I hope you enjoy the story, and the series.

     And don't forget about entering for the chance to win free books or a Kindle Fire:

 Clickhere to enter the Rafflecopter

    To enter COMMENT & WIN Weekly Giveaway, just leave a comment on this post, or any of the posts throughout February, with your email address written out, i.e. Mary at yahoo dot com. The more comments you make; the greater your chance of winning.

Best Wishes,

Karen Kelley
       Amazon                                                                        Amazon                                   

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Introducing Karen Whiddon by @JoanReeves #RomanceGems

Karen Whiddon has been in a group blog with me since 2016.

I'm so pleased she stayed with us during the transition to Romance Gems because she truly is a Gem of an Author.

Before I tell you more about Karen, I want to remind you of our giveaways.

Click here to enter the Rafflecopter for a chance to win a Kindle Fire and Ebook Gift Bundles.

To enter COMMENT & WIN Weekly Giveaway, just leave a comment on this post, or any of the posts throughout February, with your email address written out, i.e. Mary at yahoo dot com. The more comments you make; the greater your chance of winning.

About Karen Whiddon

Karen spun fanciful tales for her younger brothers as early as the age of eleven.

Growing up in the Catskill Mountains of New York, then the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, she found enough magic in the rugged peaks to keep her imagination fueled for years. Now she makes her home in North Texas and shares her life with her hero-like husband and four doting dogs. In her spare time, Karen volunteers for Legacy Boxer Rescue, Inc.

Find Karen Whiddon Online

Website | Blog | Amazon | Facebook

Karen's Story: How I Became a Writer

How did I become an author? Back in the late 80's, I was diagnosed with cervical cancer and had to have a hysterectomy.

During the 8 week recovery period, I used an old electric typewriter I'd purchased at a garage sale and typed out my first book. Single spaced.

I didn't know any better. I used white-out to fix errors and sent that book in to Harlequin, my dream publisher.

Over the course of the next 3 years, they sent revise and resubmit letters, and I revised and resubmitted. After 3 years and many versions later, they ultimately rejected it for being "too similar" to other books they had in the line up.

I wrote 5 complete manuscripts after that, over a period of 9 years while working full time. They were all rejected. I joined a large critique group, RWA, and my local chapter. I attended workshops, seminars, conferences, and read writing books. I learned, learned, and learned.

Finally, in 1996, I sold to Kensington Precious Gems. I used that advance to buy my first laptop - an open box item - and wrote 4 more books for them.

Meanwhile, I worked on the book of my heart, a Time Travel Faerie romance. When Dorchester called to buy it, I cried.

That book, Soul Magic, went all the way to #1 on Amazon! Again, I wrote 4 books for them, obtained an agent after the first sale, and continued learning.

Finally, in 2003, I sold to Harlequin. I was ecstatic. My 45th book with Harlequin comes out in April 2019. It will be my 55th book overall.
Now, I'm getting some rights reverted and dipping my toes into the self-publishing waters. I'm excited and nervous, all at once.

For Your Consideration

Secrets of the Wolf, Winner of the Romantic Times Best Silhouette Romance, is a book with a cover I love.

Brie Danzinger returns to her birthplace wanting answers. Her childhood memories are hazy, but she knows her mother was murdered and the killer was never found.

She discovers a family she'd never known—and is immediately attracted to the secretive police chief Reed Hunter. He has secrets he won't share and she's not sure if they are about her mother or more personal.

Upon meeting Brie, Reed can't deny the craving. But he's a shape-shifter, a member of the Pack. And his family carries a curse that could mean her death. He vows to keep her safe and protect her, but he cannot save her from the truth about herself.

Readers, Karen's award-winning romance, Secrets of the Wolf, is a free read if you're a Kindle Unlimited subscriber, or buy it for only $2.99, and keep it forever.

Thanks for visiting with us today. Remember, enter the Rafflecopter embedded below and leave a comment with your email addy to enter Comment & Win.

Romance Gems Rafflecopter Giveaway

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

From Cari's Kitchen by Lucinda Race #RomanceGems

As with many authors my early books had a lot of who I am sprinkled within the pages. 

In the Loudon Series I have a cafĂ©, What’s Perkin’ where Cari McKenna starts her life over after losing her husband and best friend. It’s within those fictional walls where Cari perfects her recipes for blueberry muffins, which happen to be a favorite of Ray Davis along with many other treats. 

As Cari is passionate about friends and helping those in need one young woman in need of a job comes to town. Of course, Cari immediately comes up with a plan to start by giving her a job on a trial basis for two weeks. During the two weeks Dani wins over not only Cari but her customers with delicious and decadent cupcakes. 

Since I can’t invite each of you into my kitchen for a cup of coffee and a cupcake I wanted to share with you one of Dani’s special creations. 

S’Mores Cupcakes

Chocolate Cupcakes with Graham Cracker Crumb
1 Sleeve Graham Crackers
1 Stick Butter

Place graham crackers in a 1 gallon plastic bag and crush with your hands, or use a rolling pin to crush the graham crackers into crumbs. Once a nice crumb has been reached, transfer crumbs to a bowl.

Melt butter in a sauce pan, keeping a close eye to make sure it doesn’t burn. Once butter is melted, allow to cool for two minutes. Then, pour butter over crumbs and mix until all crumbs are moistened.

Line your cupcake tins with your liners of choice, and then scoop approximately 1.5 tablespoons of the crumb mixture into the base of each muffin cup patting down slightly to form a layer in the bottom of the cup.

Prepare your cake batter, either homemade or store-bought mix, and pour over the crumb layer, filling each cup about 2/3 full. 

Bake as the directions indicate, to when a toothpick comes out almost clean, with perhaps a few crumbs attached. Allow to cool for 5-8 minutes in the pan, and then transfer cupcakes to a cooling rack to cool completely.

Chocolate Layer
4 ounces Semisweet Chocolate Chips
4 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon honey

In a saucepan, melt together the chocolate, butter, and honey over medium heat and stir until completely combined, then allow to cool to room temperature. Chocolate should be at a point where it is easily spreadable, but not runny.

Marshmallow Meringue
4 egg whites
1 cup granulated sugar

In a double boiler (pot of boiling water with a metal mixing bowl set on top, but not touching the water’s surface), whisk together the egg whites and sugar until the sugar is completely dissolved and the egg whites are just warm to the touch, about 3-4 minutes. Remove from the heat, transfer to a medium mixing bowl or to a stand mixer with whisk attachment, and beat the egg whites until they form stiff, shiny peaks, which should take about 5-8 minutes.

The Final Step
Using a spatula or knife, apply a thin layer of chocolate to the top of each cupcake, then, add a dollop of meringue to the top. This can be done by either using two spoons, or a piping bag, or even a gallon size bag with the corner cut off to create a piping bag. To finish, use a kitchen torch to toast the tops to give it that fresh from the campfire s’more look.


If you’re interested in other sweet treat ideas check out The Loudon Series where e-books are sold and don’t forget to visit for details on upcoming releases and my newsletter. 

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I wish you happiness. 


Monday, February 18, 2019

WRITER ON THE ROAD by @karilemor #RomanceGems

Last June, after 30 plus years of teaching, I retired and we sold the house we’d lived in for over 22 years. My husband had a great idea to get in an RV and travel for six months. Not having anywhere else to live at the moment, I said, “Sure!”

Even though I’ve retired, I’m still working every day on my writing. I gave myself a goal of a thousand words a day average and have been great about doing that. Well, until I finished the book I was working on. I’ve taken a few weeks off to do edits for an upcoming release (no publish date yet, unfortunately) and do more promotion.

In between all this writing and promoting and whatnot, we’ve been playing tourist. Tomorrow will be 100 days that we’ve been on the road. So many people have mentioned how envious they are that we can do this. It has been an experience, that’s for sure. Some good, some bad, but all details I can use in a book someday! (Oh, yeah, I am definitely doing a forced proximity story that takes place in an RV!!)

 I thought I’d give you some pros and cons of our trip so far. Especially if any of you are thinking of doing this. There’s lots to consider before you jump in and head out for months at a time.

The Pros are fairly easy to list:

See new things
Visit new places
Try new food (I don’t get to do much of this as hubby is very frugal!)
Experience life
Be spontaneous
Live life now
Better weather (especially since we headed south)

These are all fabulous things!  But as an FYI, you do need to be prepared for the reality of it.  

The Cons are stuff you need to be aware of too:

$$$$   Yes, this trip will cost you money. And lots of it. 

First, you need to buy or rent an RV. Not cheap.

RVs use gas. Lots and lots of gas. Ours gets like 6 miles a gallon. But it has a 75 gallon tank. Yup,  that’s an ouch when you hit the gas station.

RV Parks. These can be anywhere from $20 – over $100 a night. The more touristy area, the higher the price will be. Sure, you can boondock (use your generator and water tanks) but they only last so long and need to be refilled – and boy is it inconvenient.

Food. You still need to eat. If you dine out every night, you will be broke in weeks, unless you start the trip as a gazillionaire. But even grocery shopping and cooking in still costs the price of groceries.

Attractions. You want to go to Disney or do that swim with dolphins thing (and that crap is expensive) or even the smaller ones like touring a plantation or doing a Trolley tour around a historic city? It all adds up.

Itty Bitty Living Space – Even the largest (and most expensive) RVs don’t have much more than a few hundred square feet of living space. Be prepared to leave those thirty pair of shoes behind. Privacy when you need to use the bathroom or shower, nope, not much here. Sure, there’s a sliding door, but it’s still very close. Need to work or want to read, but your partner chews too loud or listens to talk radio and you hate it. Better get yourself a good pair of ear buds. I listen to classical piano far too often now.

Who? Along with living space, is who you’re sharing the space with. It better be someone you can really, really get along with. Sure, you’ve been living together in a big old house for many years. But you’ve been working or your partner has been at work for much of the day. But now you are together All. The. Time. There is such a thing as too much togetherness.

Mechanical problems. You are driving a huge piece of equipment (or pulling an RV using a huge vehicle) and that needs to be kept up. At any time, something could break, leak, or just stop working. And you are in the middle of nowhere with no one you trust to make it work again. That’s not just the moving vehicle. You have a microwave, toaster, fridge, A/C unit, heater, plumbing, etc. And that all needs to stay in working order.

Social. When you’re on the move all the time, you don’t get to socialize as much as you typically might. For the introvert, this is probably a definite plus. But I haven’t seen my children and grandchild in 100 days!! Many people say, oh, you meet new friends. But when you’re only staying at a place for a week or less, how friendly can you get? Personally, I’m what might be considered an introverted extrovert. Once I get to know people and trust them, I am quite social and don’t shut up. But I’m not the type to insert myself into an already established group and start chatting up a storm. So, for me, this trip has been difficult because my extroverted side isn’t getting fulfilled. Luckily, we have had the chance to stop and see friends and family who live along the way.

Hopefully I haven’t scared you. It certainly has been the adventure of a lifetime. Are there things I would do differently? Sure, but we still have about 70 days left before we head back to New England.  We’ll see what those days bring.

My book RUNNING TARGET is about a man who's also gotten around a bit. Unfortunately it's because he's on the run from a mob hit. Can he figure out a way to end his nightmare and get back to his family?
ONLY 99c right now!!

If you want to keep tabs on my adventure, you can check out my Instagram account for daily pictures.  Check out where you can stalk me below:

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Sunday, February 17, 2019

Book Covers by Karen Whiddon #RomanceGems

As part of my journey into the oft-perplexing waters of self-publishing, I've been trying to learn Photoshop Elements.  But, because I'm impatient, and I have a lot of back list books I wanted to get up, I purchased three covers from different sources.

I've learned that cover prices - and quality - vary greatly.  However, I do know what I love in a cover and once I found what I was looking for, I jumped on it.

The first cover I purchased was for Secrets of the Wolf. I like this cover a lot.  It fits the mood of the story and makes me happy.    The second cover I purchased (from a different artist) was for Touch of the Wolf.  Similar theme, different colors.  I still love it.

And the third cover - for Cry of the Wolf - I was looking for something different.  I wanted a female shape-shifter, since the story belongs to my heroine.  I found the perfect cover and purchased it.

What do you think?  Which cover do you like best?  What draws you to a book cover?  I'd love to hear the answers, as I have more books for which I need to purchase covers.

Purchase Secrets of the Wolf on Amazon here          Purchase Touch of the Wolf Here

Remember the Comment & Win and Rafflecopter Contests!

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Then leave a comment with your email address written out. That means like Mary at yahoo dot com. (Don't leave your email as a "hot link" or web crawlers will harvest it and flood your Inbox.)

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Saturday, February 16, 2019

Elkhorn In The Moonlight by @Constance Bretes #RomanceGems

Before I moved to Alabama last Spring, I lived in a tiny little town called Basin, in Montana. The population was about 250 people. I made some really nice friends there, and a few of my friends became my readers who enjoyed reading my romance books. They asked me if I’d consider writing a romance centered around a small town in Montana, like Basin.

Basin sits in a valley at 5,700 feet surrounded by mountains. Off to the north of Basin sits Boulder, Montana, and Elkhorn Mountains. Basin is also known as a miner’s town. At one point, there were three mines in operation, searching for gold and silver, and the town grew to over a thousand residents. When the mines dried up, it reduced the population, and left some empty buildings in its wake. Some of those empty buildings were at one time, considered brothels. The only things now operating in Basin, is a pizza place, a restaurant and bar, a post office, two radon mines and a grade school.

Rail Tunnel in Basin, Montana
In addition to all this, there is a railroad tunnel that went through Basin. The rail track actually at one point, came from Helena and traveled down to Butte. The rail tracks are long gone, but the tunnel remains. Not too far from Basin, is a ghost town called Comet. The pictures attached are the Comet mine, and the old tunnel that is in Basin.

Gold Mine in Comet, Montana
The story, Elkhorn In The Moonlight, was generated from this information. I changed the name of the town to Mason, and I added one more business to the town, a small motel, which I situated at the same location of what is now currently called Earth Angel Radon Mine. A few of the characters represented are some of the residents that lives there, including my husband and I, but all the names are different. The restaurant and bar, along with the pizza place, the post office and the school are in the story, as well as the three mines. Everything was renamed so to not put anyone on the spot or violate anyone’s privacy.

While I loved it in Basin, I had a serious problem with breathing and ended in the hospital in Helena, three times with hypoxia, and bronchitis. A few doctors felt that I had COPD and Asthma. The hospital, St. Peter’s, is in Helena, and also plays a part in my story. I received excellent one-on-one care there.

My favorite place to hang out was the Silver Saddle Bar and Restaurant, with the owner there. At the time of the writing of this book, Mr. Hale was still alive, but had since past away and it is now run by Gail, his wife. The bar and restaurant was a great place to hang out and meet your neighbors. They included us in their lives right from the get-go, and was always offering information, suggestions, or directions.

This book, Elkhorn In The Moonlight, is dedicated to my friends at Basin, Montana. Without them, the story would have never been written.

Elkhorn In The Moonlight

The search for stolen Sacred Arrows leads to much more.

Marcus Blackhawk is on a mission to locate the Sacred Arrows that were stolen from the Cheyenne Nation. When he learns that someone has seen the arrows he leaves immediately to track the person down and get more information.

Nicole Lancaster ekes out a living in a small town by helping her brother run a motel and working part-time in a restaurant. Her mundane life suddenly becomes more exciting when Marcus arrives in town asking about some arrows that she came upon years ago while hiking in the Elkhorn Mountains. The gorgeous man makes her heart beat fast, but she knows he’d never be interested in a Plain Jane like herself.

When Marcus offers Nicole a large sum of cash to lead him to the cave where she saw the arrows, she takes him up on the offer. After a three-day hiking trip through the mountains they locate the cave, but then the unthinkable happens, and they find themselves trapped inside. As they wait, hopeful they’ll be rescued, they give into the passion that’s been simmering between them.

Will help arrive in time to save them? And if so, can their night of passion ever be anything more? Marcus has no interest in an actual relationship, and Nicole wants the whole nine yards.