Thursday, September 19, 2019

People Watching at the Beach

Hello Everyone, 

When it was time to plan for our vacation, hubby and I decided it would be the coast of Maine in early September. For the last few years we enjoyed Cape Cod but there is something about the pace of life in Maine. Yes, we knew the weather would be cooler but in the overall scheme of things we’d be near the ocean, and there would be sun and lobster. 

We drove in heavy traffic Labor Day weekend. It took about thirty minutes longer but we made it. We pulled into the busy campground, got set up and drank in the fresh air tinged with salt. I could feel my internal spring beginning to unwind. As we looked around the campground, something interesting caught our attention, most of the people camping were older couples like us. I guess the generation of empty nesters all decided to hit the road at the same time. 

After enjoying an amazing lobster roll for dinner, hubby built a campfire. As the shadows grew longer the fire glowed bright orange and yellow. The chill in the air was sharp and refreshing. Thoughts turned to my next book I’ve been mulling over. Recently, I finished the first draft of a new book, but I’m not ready to begin the editing process. So, I’ve begun the outline for book 2 in the Crystal Lake Series. People that walk by add spinets of ideas, and conversations that drift through the park are also tucked away for further use.

While on the beach I people watch, making up storylines for everyone I see. A dad playing Frisbee with his two small girls in the shallows of the Atlantic; a mother with three children having dinner with a man named George who leaves before they finish their meal. The waitress asks the family if anyone wants dessert while the mom boxes up all the leftovers. Over iced tea and melt in your mouth pulled pork I confess to hubby I’m itching to start writing the next book. 

I wonder with all the ideas I’ve gathered while on vacation if I can write the trip off as a business expense. I’m sure the accountant would say no. Hopefully the ideas that I brought home with me will turn into stories you will love to read. 

Until next time, 
I wish you happiness. 

Don't forget to enter our September Rafflecopter Giveaway – Back to School ... Backto You!
The prizes are listed on our 
GIVEAWAY TAB above, along with the entry form. You can also click HERE to go straight to the entry form!

Kids are back to school. Now it’s time to pamper yourself a little. September’s Giveaway features Winner’s Choice of Amazon Gift Cards or Gifts for Reading and Pampering.
Dates: Sept. 4 through 27
th. Winnerchooses from gift item or Amazon Gift Card.

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

The Best and Worst by @karilemor #RomanceGems

Back to School, Back to You is the theme for September for the Gems! Back to school can mean different things for everyone. Being a 30+ year teacher, it usually meant spending weeks and weeks cleaning, organizing, and decorating your classroom with colorful pictures and words. Labeling everything in the classroom with your students’ names on them.  Planning lessons that would engage every student. But now I’m retired from teaching, it takes on a new meaning.
Teaching was something I’d always wanted to do, so I thought I’d share some of the best and worst things about this career.


The kids - There’s nothing like a little child who looks up to you and wants to do everything they can to please you. Who wants to be just like you. I had a little girl in my class who wanted to get her ears pierced so she could wear small hoop earrings just like I did every day. Much later in my career, I had the daughter of one of my first year students. The mom (who I’d had many years ago) sent in such a beautiful letter to me, telling me how important her first year was at school (I taught Kindergarten at the time) and because of that experience, she also went into teaching so she could inspire young minds like I had. I cried. Yup, those are the moments we live for as teachers.

Sharing knowledge - Some days, as I leaned against a table chatting with the kids about our daily lesson, I would feel this sense of pride and rightness. Like this was what I was supposed to be doing. I loved when I had a student suddenly gasp, “Oh!” and their eyes lit up with understanding. Or when a child who struggled, got an A on a test. These were the precious moments when I knew I had made a difference in a child’s life. Or when parents would marvel at what their child had learned in school, specifically the non-curriculum stuff. That crust was the best part of the bread. That sleep is the best medicine. That making mistakes is okay. I stressed this one a lot. One day I was giving a spelling test on long O homophones. I’d say the word, give it in a sentence, then say the word again. I guess I hadn’t been paying attention because I said, “Whole. I ate the whole pizza. W-H-O-L-E. whole.” As soon as I realized what I’d done, I burst out laughing. The kids joined in and we all lost focus for a few moments. But it taught them that even teachers make mistakes. And we can laugh at these mistakes.

Changing lives - Every year I’d get lots of students who struggled in some area: academics, social skills, emotional skills, behavior.  But every so often I knew I’d had a huge effect on a child’s life. Like the boy who no one wanted to play with because of his behavior. So smart but didn’t know how to interact nicely with others. I put him and another bright child in charge of helping other students with their work. It was a new role he took very seriously. By the end of the year, he was loved by everyone.  Or the time I had a parent-teacher conference and told this child’s mom how great this student was and how well-behaved. The mom’s eyes opened wide and her mouth dropped. “You mean, my Nicky?” She thought I’d gotten her son confused with someone else, then went on to explain that he had gotten kicked out of pre-school for his behavior. But I’d seen the good in him and quickly squelched the negative behavior, and had him become my helper. He had an amazing year.  

As much as I loved my years teaching, there are also many downfalls which made me retire a good ten years earlier than typical.


Uncomfortable conditions - Not being able to use the bathroom when you need to. Old and run down buildings. Outdated books and supplies.  

Helicopter and Lawnmower parents who expected everything done FOR their child. Ones who never communicated yet expected you to know exactly what they wanted from you.

Administration who hadn’t worked in a classroom in many years (if ever - as some had been teachers of Gym, Music, Art, … and hadn’t taught in a regular classroom) who didn’t support you. Superintendents who didn’t care about the teachers (a school’s biggest asset) or the students, as long as the budget balanced and the test scores were high.

Meetings, meetings, meetings, that took time from our classroom, or from the time we’d be planning wonderful lessons for our students. Most of these meetings could have been handled through email.

Tests, tests, and more tests, so many that added to the stress level of both teacher and students. And it got to the point we had to teach to these tests and not to what the children really needed to learn.

Disrespect from so many in the community. People who think teachers only babysit. Earn too much money (I have a Master’s Degree with over 30 years experience and was making the same as my newly graduated son-in-law). Only work half a day and half a year. There were many days I was in my classroom until 8pm. Then I’d bring work home to do. While my own children had to deal on their own.

People who have no training in education telling us what to teach and how to teach it. Plus how to run our classroom. So called “experts” giving us curriculum that is pushed down so much the students are not developmentally ready to handle it. So they cry and have major anxiety.

I wouldn’t have changed my years with my students, but am happy I now get to spend my days writing stories of people falling in love. 

My newest book, ELUSIVE DREAMS, the first in my Storms of New England series, shows us that school wasn’t a great place for Tessa. Here’s a little snippet when Tessa and Erik bring their son, Matty, to his preschool Open House.

Tessa eyed the crowd and saw a familiar redhead. Paula Redmond. They’d gone to high school together. She hadn’t been one of the super mean girls, but she’d certainly never stuck up for Tessa as she was bullied and called names behind her back. No one had.
“Tess? You okay?”
Hiding behind Erik seemed a good idea, or better yet, running from the room and going to their nice, safe house. The music from Matty’s room reminded her the small boy was in there being brave without his parents. Shouldn’t she be brave too? For Pete’s sake, she was an adult. She couldn’t go around the rest of her life hiding. Dr. Sullivan had urged her to get out more only yesterday at their second counseling appointment. If Matty could do this, then so could she.
“I’m fine, Erik. I’m going to let Kiki play on the little slide.”
He walked off and she set the toddler at the top of the small plastic slide then let go. It was a short ride, but the child loved it and toddled back to the two steps to get to the top. She climbed them herself, then slid down again.
Paula stood behind her. Maybe she was still a coward, but she’d hoped the girl wouldn’t recognize her. Or if she did, she would simply ignore her like she had in high school. No such luck.
“Paula. Hi.” What else could she say? It’s nice to see you again? No, because it wasn’t. She had lots of faults, but she wasn’t a liar.

Check out the first few chapters of ELUSIVE DREAMS for free on many retailers.

If you want info on my new books and some freebies I'm sending soon, sign up for my mailing list. I only send a post when I have a new release or am giving something away. No spam. 

Don't forget to enter our September Rafflecopter Giveaway – Back to School ... Back to You! The prizes are listed on our GIVEAWAY TAB above, along with the entry form. 

We have some fabulous prizes with YOU in mind so don't miss out.

Happy reading and may this month let you get back to you: your routine, your time for you and more...

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Welcome to Fortune Bay! @JudithHudson

On reading Constance Bretes' post yesterday about choosing settings for our books, it occurred to me that I have never introduced the town in my series, Fortune Bay. And now would be the perfect time since 

the whole series is on sale on Amazon this weekend, starting tomorrow, September 18th. 

Two books, including Summer of Fortune are FREE!

And three full-length books are only 99¢!

You can get them HERE!


Yes, that's three exclamation marks in a row, but I'm really excited (!)
Fortune Bay is based on a real town I used to live in on Vancouver Island called Honeymoon Bay. (Come on, I couldn't call my small-town-romance town that!)  I did use the real town physically for my model, but I didn't want anyone who lived there when I did to think they were in the novels, because they aren't. So I changed the name of the town to Fortune Bay and moved it to the Olympic Peninsula in Washington State. Call it author's privilege. 😉

The cabin that sparked the Fortune Bay books.
I lived around the corner from this cabin on the lake for eight years when my children were small and although I imagined stories about the people who lived in the cabin, it wasn't until quite a few years later that I actually started writing the series. 

The farm around the corner that became the Murphy's farm.
At the time, I was taking darkroom photography at university, so I made Maddie, the main character of the first book, Summer of Fortune, a darkroom photographer. And didn't she and Jake have some fun in that darkroom!

(Are these my photos or Maddie's? I'll never tell! But you can see more of her/my black & whites on my website.) 

I hope you'll take advantage of this limited time sale and put a big FB for Fortune Bay on your calendar so that tomorrow you'll remember to go to Amazon and check out the series. Tomorrow.

See you in Fortune Bay.

Judy Hudson


Monday, September 16, 2019

Real Towns/Cities or Fictional? @ConstanceBretes @RomanceGems

I’ve moved around a lot in my life and have experienced small towns, midsize towns, and large cities.
When I start a new book, one of the first things I do is decide what kind of town or city I will use in the book.

If I haven’t visited the town or city, if it is possible, I will plan a trip there to get a feel for the area.
I rarely use the actual name, substituting the names such as Basin, Montana to Mason, Montana, Philipsburg, Montana to Frankenburg, Montana. 

The reason I change town/city names is due to changes I have to make in the story. For example, I love the town of Phillipsburg, Montana, but in visiting and investigating the town, they have one sheriff and his son is a deputy. I needed a larger sheriff department, so not to misrepresent Philipsburg, I changed the name to Frankenburg.

Basin Street, Basin, Montana

Recently I made a trip to Dunlap and Pikesville, Tennessee to see if the towns have changed since I was there in the 1990s. Boy was I glad I did, the towns were totally changed and a highway bypass was built. Pikesville was still a nice town, very quaint, downtown area, but it would have changed the dynamics of the story that I’m currently working on, so, based on my memory of the town before all the changes, I’m creating a town in Tennessee where my heroine lives.

Towns and cities are important to the story. Description of a small town can help readers get a feel for the kind of town and people that live in the town. But, for me, the towns need to be as realistic as possible. A small town in Montana is very different than a small town in Alabama. A mid-size town in New Mexico is different from a mid-size town in New York.

In my latest release, Love, A Second Time Around, a small town in South Dakota is different than a small town in North Dakota. As you will discover when reading the book.

As of this date, my publisher still has my book priced at 99 cents for the new release special. So you’ll want to go over and get your copy as soon as possible.

Love, A Second Time Around by Constance Bretes

They stole five years of his life. Now it’s time to settle the score.

Released from prison after serving five years for a crime he didn’t commit, Dr. Jon Stephenson is left with the task of rebuilding his veterinarian business, finding his son, and bringing those who wronged him to justice.

Not only had the love of Cat Morgan’s life been sent to prison, but prior to his arrest he had broken her heart. Needing a new start, she left town with Jon’s young son. Unknown to Jon, she was pregnant at the time. Now she’s a single mom to two young boys.

She never expected to see Jon again, and now that he’s shown up, demanding the opportunity to provide the father figure his sons need, she finds herself falling for him all over again. Actually, to be honest, she never stopped loving him. But will she ever be able to forgive his past indiscretions, and can they learn to trust each other again?

Don't forget to enter into our rafflecopter, Back to School, Back to you! 

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Back @BonnieEdwards #RomanceGems

Our theme this month includes the words "back to you" which you would assume means, me. No no no. THIS is what it means:

Meet Oscar, my reading companion...this month it's "back to you, Oscar." 

But it also means this: 
eucatrastrophe (noun) [yoo-kuh-tas-truh-fee]

Definition: A happy ending to a story.

After months of interruptions with hard family news, I plan to get back to writing just as soon as I can. I need to get back to me, in spite of Oscar assuming it's all about him. So there's this to look forward to:

Funny how often writing is associated with typewriters, isn't it? Authors now use desktop computers, laptops, mobile devices, and even phones to get the words out of their heads and onto the page.

Still, I love this circa 1900 typewriter. I've only had it a few weeks, but there's something wonderful about having this piece of history in my house. 

Don't forget to enter our September Rafflecopter Giveaway – Back to School ... Back to You! The prizes are listed on our GIVEAWAY TAB above, along with the entry form. 

We have some fabulous prizes with YOU in mind so don't miss out.

Happy reading and may this month let you get back to you: your routine, your time for you and more...

Friday, September 13, 2019

Word Counts. Are They Carved in Stone? by Connie Vines

The ‘how long?’ question has to be one of the most commonly asked by new authors – perhaps even experienced ones, too. It was certainly one of the first to pass my lips when I began to cross genres.

“What’s the age range?” I asked a multi-published at my local OCC/RWA Chapter monthly meeting.
“I’m thinking of aiming for older children,” I told her.
“That would be ages eight to twelve, then. In that case, it should be between 30,000 and 50,000 words.”

The precision of her answer was satisfying, but it also piqued my curiosity.
“Why that particular length?”

“It’s just considered to be the ‘right’ length at the moment for that age range,” she explained. “Not too long, not too short.”

This ‘Goldilocks’ principle is good general advice to keep in mind, but there are also more specific factors to consider that will help you nail the ‘right’ length for whatever genre book you’re writing. While you should work to your natural style, it’s advisable to be aware of and (as much as possible) write to the length that publisher and readers expect (logon to a publisher’s website for ‘publisher-specific’ guidelines.)

Type of book and target audience

You can hone in on an idea of ‘how long’ simply by categorizing what kind of book you’re writing and its target audience. Clearly, any six-year-olds without the miraculous intellect of Roald Dahl’s Matilda aren’t going to want to read something the length of A Tale of Two Cities. Similarly, most adults won’t be very interested in a 40-page picture book.

Most of the data I’ll be using throughout this article was sourced from Writer’s Digest and personal experience.

Children’s picture book: 500–600 words over 32–48 pages.

Children’s chapter book: 1,000–10,000 words.

Middle grade: 20,000–50,000 words.

Young Adult (YA): 40,000–70,000 words.

Flash fiction: 500 words or less.

Short Story: 5,000–10,000 words.

Novella: 10,000–40,000 words.

Novel: Anything over 40,000 words. Anything over 110,000 words is an ‘epic’.
Adult literary and commercial fiction: 80,000–100,000 words is considered to be the ‘Goldilocks’ zone, though you could get away with 70,000 words minimum and 109,000 words max.


Again, when considering the authority of agents and publishers, “adhering to the expected word count demonstrates that you understand your market.” The ‘right’ answer to ‘how long should my book be?’ is dictated by the audience’s expectations.

Genre has more influence on book length than you might think...

Here’s a guide to the recommended lengths for genre books.

Sci-fi/Fantasy: 90,000–120,000, anything over 150,000 words might be testing for your readers. As I just touched on above, books in these genres are allowed and expected to run longer than others. This is due to the amount of world building required to introduce a reader to a fictional setting, but be careful not to let this expectation manipulate your natural style.

Historical: As above.

Romance: 50,000–100,000 words. The wide range for this genre is because of the number of sub-genres that it can divide into: supernatural, erotica, historical, ‘chick-lit’, etc.  It’s also worth bearing in mind that longer romance novels seem to be the trend du jour, with bestsellers Twilight and Fifty Shades of Grey both comfortably over 100,000 words.

Crime/Mystery/Thriller/Horror: 70,000–90,000 words.  Suspense is key to all of these genres. Pacing is vital in creating suspense, which means it couldn’t be any more important to nail the word count.

Personal style

While you should certainly keep the data I’ve provided in mind, being too prescriptive about sticking to word counts will only impede your personal writing style. If you end up way under the standard word count, you know that you either need to slow the pace a little or flesh out some underdeveloped areas.

How are your word counts?  What word count is your 'comfort zone'?

I am happiest between 50,000 - 60,000 words.  However, I am more comfortable deleting words, rather than increasing my word count.

Where do you fall in the 'word-count' comfort zone?

Readers. what length of novel is your favorite?


Since it is Friday the 13th, I thought I'd add a little bit of history concerning the 'unlucky day'.

Just like walking under a ladder, crossing paths with a black cat or breaking a mirror, many people hold fast to the belief that Friday the 13th brings bad luck.

While Western cultures have historically associated the number 12 with completeness (there are 12 days of Christmas, 12 months and zodiac signs, 12 labors of Hercules, 12 gods of Olympus and 12 tribes of Israel, just to name a few examples), its successor 13 has a long history as a sign of bad luck.

Fear of the number 13 has even earned a psychological term: triskaidekaphobia.

What bad things happened on Friday 13th?

On Friday, October 13, 1307, officers of King Philip IV of France arrested hundreds of the Knights Templar, a powerful religious and military order formed in the 12th century for the defense of the Holy Land.

Imprisoned on charges of various illegal behaviors (but really because the king wanted access to their financial resources), many Templars were later executed. Some cite the link with the Templars as the origin of the Friday the 13th superstition, but like many legends involving the Templars and their history, the truth remains murky.

How do you feel about Friday the 13th?  Are you apprehensive?  Do you stay indoors?

Or are you like me?  I go about my business and count the days remaining until I can decorate, and plan my 'spooktacular'  Halloween fun day, for my grandchildren.

Happy Reading & Writing!



Thursday, September 12, 2019

Inspiration Strikes! by Laura Hunsaker

As an author, the most common question I'm ever asked is, "Where do you get your ideas?"
I don't really have one answer to that, and every author is different. In my last post Good Vibrations, I talked about music. That's a big source of inspiration for so many people, in all aspects of life, let alone writing. But every now and then something happens that

I take my dogs out for a run almost every morning and I hate running. I really hate it. It's about 108 out and I'm hot and tired and I'm doing something I don't like. Because I run in the desert, I can't always listen to music, since I'm keeping an ear out for rattlesnakes. So, how do I distract myself from the fact that I'm jogging in the desert? I daydream.

And what do I daydream about? Well I'm glad you asked!

I have a new neighbor. He's young and fit, and about a dozen young and strong guys helped move in, and all I could think of was...wolf pack. Because isn't that where most of our minds would go? ;) Werewolf is the obvious answer here. My new neighbor is a werewolf.

Maybe that's what I should title my next book?

So, while I'm not saying he's a werewolf,  I am saying that if I found out he was...I wouldn't be surprised.

He's kind of grumpy. He's strong. He runs fast, like way too fast for any mortal. Remember how I said I jog out in the desert? He blasts by me at super speed...supernatural speed, if you catch my drift.I keep finding dead animals in his yard. I mean sure we have coyotes, but...really, what's more reasonable here? Obviously that he's a werewolf.

So, what can I do with a werewolf? I mean besides give him some space, obviously. What if he helps me, a widowed kindergarten teacher hang some new curtains? What if I bake him some cookies as a thank you? What if he's only grumpy because he's been up all night hunting a rogue wolf who's now after me? Maybe my new neighbor has to keep me safe...and close. (eyebrow waggle)

So the next time you're reading your favorite author's book, just remember that our ideas may start farfetched, or even silly, but by the time we work them into a story, you've now got a werewolf who hunts bad guys at night and still finds time to help his neighbor hang her new curtains.

While My New Neighbor is a Werewolf is still just a daydream, Icing the Puck isn't. It's book 2 in the New York Empires, a slightly paranormal hockey team. I write as Kenzie MacLir in this anthology, and keep your eyes peeled for the next installment where my hero is a werewolf...a hockey playing werewolf whose brother asks him to babysit the pack while he's out of the country. Just think of all the hijinks that can ensue when the alpha's twin brother is in charge?

And don't forget to enter the giveaways found under the GIVEAWAYS tab!

Kids are back to school. Now it’s time to pamper yourself a little. September’s Giveaway features Winner’s Choice of Amazon Gift Cards or Gifts for Reading and Pampering.
Dates: Sept. 4 through 27th. Winner chooses from gift item or Amazon Gift Card.
Grand Prize: $25.00 AMZ Gift Card OR Echo Dot. Alexa can read your audio books from Audible and most of the ebooks on your Kindle too. Listen as you cook, do housework, or just relax. Hundreds of apps to help you work out, organize your life, research ideas, and entertain you.
2nd Prize: $15.00 AMZ GC or Reader's Journal. Keep track of the books you read and your thoughts about the stories.
3rd Prize: $5.00 AMZ GC or Lavender Bath Bomb. Pamper yourself with a fizzy lavender bath bomb.

Don't forget to enter our September Rafflecopter Giveaway – Back to School ... Back to You!
The prizes are listed on our GIVEAWAY TAB above, along with the entry form. You can also click HERE to go straight to the entry form!

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

STRENGTH IN LETTERS By Kathleen Lawless @kathleenlawless #romancegems

Did you know some letters denote more strength than others?  This is something I was subliminally aware of growing up.  They were a lot of other girls at school with the same name or variation (Cathy, Katherine, Cathryn, Kathleen).  I learned at a young age that those of us sporting a K were more dynamic, more assertive, and more outgoing than our C-named counterparts. I know a Chris.  And a Kris.  Same scenario.

I didn’t think much more about it until I started reading and writing romance novels, where I soon learned naming a character is super-important.  The hero and heroine’s names are the reader’s first introduction to those characters, and a snapshot image is easily captured by the right name.  

Alpha male heroes need to denote their strong personality.  Luke.  Jake.  Ruark.  Blake.  (A lot of k’s, see?)   Around that time, I discovered a great book called YOU ARE YOUR FIRST NAME by Ellin Dodge.  Based on the numerology of the letters in the name, the book outlines typical personality traits attributed to a particular name, and suggests possible career choices.  I was delighted to look up my cop hero, Matt, and see law enforcement listed as a potential occupation.  This book is my bible when naming my characters.  The name needs to fit the personality.  It’s also been a great go-to gift for pregnant friends.

Numerology aside, the visual makes sense when you think about it.  K’s are straight.  Rigid.  C’s are soft and curvy and bend.  D’s are straight, yet with a soft side.  Damian, Darius, and Dorian are all good, multi-faceted character names.  All of my Seven Brothers heroes have a letter B name for that reason.  They can share certain characters traits, yet be very different at the same time.  They have the straight-line strength, but the softer side, which is often at war with the straight-edge of the personality.  

I’d love to know some of your favorite hero and heroine’s names and why.  Feel free to comment and share.

BLAKE’S BRIDE, book 4 in my western romance series, will be released this month and is currently on pre-order special for only 99 cents.  
Not only does Blake have a secret, letters of the alphabet play a big role in this story.
Here’s a teaser…. From BLAKE’S BRIDE  copyright Kathleen Lawless 2019 

          It was a perfect day for a wedding.  The gazebo in the town’s park was decked in yards and yards of ribbon, shiny white posts adorned with sprays of wild flowers.  Smack in the center of the gazebo, the seven Mason brothers waited in a straight line.
          Storm, alongside her fellow bridesmaid, Amanda, wiped her sweaty palm on the skirt of her frock and clutched her nosegay tightly.  This was her first time being a bridesmaid.  It was also her first time in such a fancy dress, edged in lace and all, crafted by her own hand. 
          From her vantage point, Storm watched Henrietta, the bride, appear on the arm of her long-time friend, Percival Bloom. 
          As the ceremony got underway, Storm snuck a subtle glance at Blake Mason, flanked by his brothers.  From Laura Mason, the first Mason Bride, she had learned that Blake had a secret, something she could relate to.  She had a few of her own.  If only her “big secret” was as innocent as Blake’s.  Lots of folks out west couldn’t read.  As a librarian, she was no stranger to witnessing their struggles, and happy when she was able to help. 
          After the ceremony, she saw Laura beckoning to her.  “Did you have a chance to talk to Blake, yet?”  Laura lowered her voice so no one near them could hear what she was saying.
          “Not yet.”  Already, Storm was regretting her offer to try to help Blake learn to read.  She had only met a few folks in her travels who were word blind, and eventually managed to overcome the affliction to learn to read simple words.
          “Well, there he is, all alone over there.”  Laura gave her a tiny push.  “Now’s your chance.”
          Head high, Storm nodded.   It was important she maintain control, in every aspect of her life.  Especially where men were concerned.
          “Laura said I should come ask you to dance,” she said brightly.  
          Poor Blake reminded her of a trapped animal, eyes sliding from side to side as if seeking escape.
          “Weddings make me uncomfortable too,” she confided.  “You, at least, have had some practice lately.  What with three of your brothers tying the knot in the last short while.  Do you boys really build a new cabin for each couple on the ranch?” 
          “Yes, ma’am.”  Blake swallowed thickly, his Adam’s apple bobbing with the movement.  “I’m afraid I’m not much on the dance floor, Miss Storm.”
          “Good.”  She took his arm.  “Neither am I.  Two left feet, I believe, is the expression.” 
          She schooled herself not to freeze up or flinch when she felt his hand rest tentatively on her waist.  Not every touch was designed to inflict pain.  She found a slight modicum of comforting in knowing he was at least as uncomfortable as she was.

Preorder here        

Don't forget to enter our September Rafflecopter Giveaway – Back to School ... Back to You!
The prizes are listed on our Giveaway Tab above, along with the entry form.

Happy Reading!

And as 9 11 is an unforgettable day in world history, take a moment to hug your loved ones tight.  We never know what's in store.

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Fully in Love with Fall by @SatinRussell #RomanceGems

Let's be honest, my coffee is always calling.
Especially on chilly fall mornings!
Happy September, readers!

Who is excited for Autumn? This is by far my favorite season. There are so many things to look forward to!

I’ve lived in a lot of places around the country, from Colorado to Washington State, and even as far west as Hawaii and I can honestly say I’ve never seen a region celebrate this season quite like New England.

Local farms all around the area open up their fields to crowds of eager apple pickers. My husband and I always make a point to go at least once a year and inevitably I come home with a bag full of apples and grandiose plans to make all the apple recipes on my Pinterest board (of which I am neither a baker or a cook.)

Then, there’s the apple cider donuts, pumpkins, various seasonal squashes, and buckets of colorful mums to buy up. And don’t forget the corn mazes and hayrides!

Apple tree in a field at sunrise.
I love driving on the winding roads lined with trees just beginning to change. Many of the houses in this area are decked out for the season with hay bales, pumpkins and autumnal wreaths. Everything looks so festive.

Plus, there’s fall fashion, with leggings, cozy sweaters, cardigans, scarves and boots. Don’t you love how forgiving the clothes are for this season? They can truly flatter any figure.

This year, I have another great thing to look forward to. I’ll be one of the authors participating in the Fall in Love with New England Author/ Reader conference. I love getting out and talking with readers and potential fans. Plus, I get to hang out with – and in some cases meet for the first time – a few of my fellow Romance Gems, including: Nancy Fraser, Elsa Kurt, Lucinda Race, Kari Lemor, Nora LeDuc, Kathryn Hills, and Peggy Jaeger!

I love decorating my mantle for the season!
If you’re in the Nashua, New Hampshire area on Saturday, October 19th, you should mark your calendars for the book signing from 2 – 5 PM. It’s free and open to the public.

Not only that, but I have a super big surprise for anyone attending. I’ve been diligently working on getting my Christmas novella ready to publish on November 1st, and will have the first physical copies available at the conference BEFORE it’s official release date.

Stay tuned for next month’s post when I reveal the Secret Gifts cover and blurb. In the meantime, what's your favorite thing about this time of year?

Oh! Don’t forget to enter the Romance Gems Monthly Giveaway. This month's theme is "The Kids are Back to School, Time to Get Back to YOU."

One lucky grand prize winner will get an Amazon Echo Dot. Check out our contest page for more details.

Monday, September 9, 2019

HOW DID I GET HERE? by Hannah Rowan #RomanceGems

After reading Nancy Fraser’s blog the other day about how she became a writer, I began to think about my own writing journey.  As in, how the heck did I get involved in this mess?

The first story I remember writing was in elementary school, where I not only wrote but illustrated a tale of four sisters.  Each had a different color hair: blonde, brunette, redhead, and black.  And their names were in alphabetical order, beginning with A.  I don’t remember their names and I certainly don’t remember the story, but I do remember a very large notebook where I drew their pictures.

In eighth grade I won $3 for a poem that was a blatant rip-off of Bambi.   I have no clue where that poem went and I only remember the end.  “Deer without a mother, standing in the snow.”  Very emotional!

In college, I had an English professor who tried to persuade me to write for the school newspaper.  But I never actually considered writing as a career.  No, I wanted to be a psychologist, and diligently pursued a degree in that field.  Of course, a degree in psychology involves a lot of writing, but that was only a means to an end.

I achieved the end—the master’s degree—at the same time I gave birth to a daughter and decided I had to find some sort of work where I didn’t have to leave her.  So I went to a career counselor, who mentioned that the only thing I sounded excited about was a research project I was writing up.

So I started writing a novel.  And I wrote confession stories that I cringe to think about now.  I bought dozens of “how to write” books and began to collect my share of rejections.

By sheer coincidence, my husband had a customer who was the editor of the local weekly paper, and he mentioned my writing endeavors, and she mentioned that she was looking for someone to cover the local school board, so she had me go to a meeting and write up a trial story, and I passed the audition.  As various people left I gradually took over coverage of other meetings and events, until I was covering all the news in my hometown, as well as a “good news” type gossip column, and eventually a humor column.

I had many adventures as a reporter, even a brief stint doing radio news on the local station and acting as a stringer for a bigger state-wide newspaper.  But then I had another baby and packed a Harlequin Romance in my hospital bag.  It came free with a bottle of Ivory dish soap, and I figured it would be mindless enough to keep me entertained when I was in a brain fog from giving birth.

But oh, my goodness!  There were words in that book that I actually had to look up in the dictionary!  I remember coming across someone having a “postprandial” drink.  What the heck was that all about?  (An after-dinner drink, by the way.)  And I could no longer look down my nose at these stories. In addition to expanding my vocabulary, the stories really held my interest.   In fact, I decided I wanted to write them.

Which I did on the side, using my experiences as a reporter as the basis for various stories.  And after enough rejection slips to paper a small powder room, I finally sold my first book.  (Which I’m trying to figure out how to self-publish as the first in a series, now that I’ve got the rights back.  Soon, very soon!)

Don't forget to enter our September Rafflecopter Giveaway – Back to School ... Back to You!

The prizes are listed on our GIVEAWAY TAB above, along with the entry form. You can also click HERE to go straight to the entry form!