Sunday, September 29, 2019

The Troubled Yellow Bus by Nora LeDuc #Romance Gems

When my daughter was in the second grade, we had a bus driver named Clemmie. She had an edge to her voice that warned you better not mess with her. But she was sweet as sugar. She drove a bus nicknamed Old Yellar that loved to stall. Being persistent, Clemmie would coax it to start again. I kept hoping the old tired transport would be retired. That, of course, was a dream.

One day a friend phoned to report that Old Yellar was dead on the route and waiting for a tow. Since she was at work, I volunteered to pick up her children and mine. I was new to the area, and after twenty minutes of searching, I worried I'd be driving back roads forever. Finally, I discovered them near a stop sign. I took my passengers, and Clemmie assured me a tow and other parents were on their way.

I'd like to say that was the end of the troubled vehicle. No. It was repaired, and the loaner from a nearby school district was sent home. All went well until I received a call from a neighbor half a mile away. Her daughter and mine were the last ones on the route. Well, she said there was a problem and to come to her house quick. Then she hung up. I drove straight there.

I spotted her, our daughters, and Clemmie standing on the dirt shoulder. My daughter ran up to me and told me Old Yellar was on fire. I shot a gaze down the road and spotted the flames. Clemmie approached and said she'd seen smoke coming from the engine and pulled to the side. Then she opened the doors and told the two girls still on board to run. All three of them raced off and ran down the road screaming. As we talked the firefighters arrived. I prayed the bus was irreparable. Thankfully it was.

That summer, Clemmie took a job in an office. We moved north, and the yellow buses kept on rolling.


Still rolling out is my newest book Trail of Secrets. Below are some of the latest reviews from a few readers. And I'll be at the Fall in Love with New England Conference in Nashua, NH at a FREE Book Signing on Sat. Oct 19, 2 to 5 at the Holiday Inn & Suites on 9 Northeastern Blvd, Nashua, NH. If you're in the area, stop in and say hi.

"Trail of Secrets is a well written suspense with romance and an unexpected ending. Hoping to regroup and get her life back on track, Mia McGuire returns to her hometown to live with her grandmother. When she discover her sister's body not far from their home, she becomes determined to find answers. When the police seem slow to investigate, she hires the chief's son, local heartthrob and former police officer, Lucas Davis." Judith

"I absolutely loved this book. It has romance, suspense, and wonderful characters. This is the first book I've read by this author and it won't be my last. A definite read." BeckyB

"This is a great read. The storyline is entertaining. The characters are very well developed. It is a great psychological thriller with romance also. The ending was unexpected. I thoroughly enjoyed it." Sammey

Saturday, September 28, 2019

Edit Twice, Publish Once by Kara O'Neal #RomanceGems

You write and write and write. And write some more.

If you manage to get words on the page, you then have to hope they're good ones. You go back and read, and find you've used "look" ten times in the same scene. Ten times. And you're flabbergasted you didn't notice.

I can that be?

But, you sigh, maybe roll your eyes, or roll up your sleeves, and change them to something better. Once done, you check your work. No more "look". Great!

You move on.

Then comes the day you're finished and can send it to your editor. And you have read and read and read through your book and you feel confident that she isn't going to find any ridiculous mistakes.


Not only does she point out that you've used "smile" 32 times, but she also finds "look". And you want to bang your head against your laptop.

Then comes the devastating and embarrassing moment when she politely tells you that you've used the wrong version of "lay".

And you think, did I even read this book?

It's amazing. Truly. The work an editor does. She is indispensable.

Never think your story doesn't need another set of eyes on it. It does. There is nothing more distracting than a sentence missing its period.

I love my editor. Her name is Mrs. Bennett, which is perfectly perfect for me because I am a Pride and Prejudice girl. I will never call Mrs. Bennett by her first name. And she is a stickler for good writing. And smart. And sticks to her guns. And she let's me start my sentences with "and".

She is priceless.

So find yourself a good one, and never be too proud to take her advice, because I promise you'll need it!

I dedicated The Editor's Kisses to my editors. It seemed quite appropriate given the title, and the fact that  Stephen Dawson tries to start a newspaper on his own. Silly man! We all need a little help, and he gets it in the form of Constance Forrester, a lady intent on achieving the vote for women and holding off marriage as long as she can. But Stephen's steady assault is too much for Constance and she falls head over heels in love, only to discover she might lose everything she never knew she always wanted.

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Friday, September 27, 2019

September...God's gift to New Englanders by Peggy Jaeger

I moved to New England in 1994 by way of Wisconsin, and before that, New York City. Three very different geographic and meteorologic topographies, to be sure.

As a kid, I'd never experienced a New England fall, as it was called by people I knew. In NY, the leaves turned color for a few weeks, then died. End of story. In Wisconsin, we typically had snow fall when the grass was still in bloom, so I never saw the trees shift colors once in the seven years we lived there.

Not. Once.

All that changed when I moved to New Hampshire.

My first autumn in New England was one of the most beautiful times in my memory. We bought a house in the woods and every single day I watched the colors in the leaves go through their annual metamorphosis.

I never knew that reds could be so vibrant or oranges ( a color I typically do not like) so rich and deep. Gold, yellow, sage, browns tinged with amber. All these colors were new to me and I simply adored walking in my woods every day just to see what new color combos had erupted.

Back when we first moved to NH, I painted for pleasure. Not well, mind you, but I needed something for my creativity to come out. One year I did a painting of the same scene in each season. It was from my dining room and looked out on the back acreage of our property, which was the entrance to the woods surrounding us. Wasn't a surprise I liked the Autumn one the best.

My Match in Heaven romance series is centered in the fictional town of Heaven, NH and the first book, DEARLY BELOVED, takes place in the autumn. As you can see by the opening scene in this book trailer, the time of year is gorgeous:

It's so easy to fall in love with New England during the fall... and if that isn't the perfect segue for my next sentence, I don't know what is. Hee hee. This October ( DURING FALL IN NEW ENGLAND) I will be attending the Fall in Love With New England Readers and Writers conference in Nashua, NH.

I am one of the authors hosting the event and will be giving/leading 2 workshops. This is a reader-centric conference, that culminates in a 40+ romance author book signing on Saturday, October 19 at the Holiday Inn and Suites in Nashua. I'm one of the authors signing, and there are a good number of the ROMANCE GEMS who will be there as well. The signing is open to the public. For a list of the authors who will be present and signing their books, click here: authors.

If you've never been lucky enough to experience a new England fall, what we call LEAF PEEPING SEASON, you should really gift yourself a trip one of the years to see it first hand. Pictures only capture a moment. The season's colors should be seen in all their glory, up close and personal.

Until next time ~ Peg

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Coffee and Conversation With the Romance Gems by Nancy Fraser

Welcome back to Coffee and Conversation with the Romance Gems! So, grab a cup of your favorite beverage and join us for some fun. This month's topic is: Things We Collect.

Most people have a collection of some sort ... even if it’s only dust bunnies! The Romance Gems are no different and are here to share some insight into their personalities when they reveal their favorite treasures.

“My favorite collection is that of Christian religious symbols. These consist of crosses, nativity sets, hand-carved Santo of St. Francis de Sales (the patron saint of writers), a kitchen Madonna, angels, cross necklaces, and a black Madonna.  Christmas is my favorite time of year and Christian symbols go with the celebration. Once you begin a collection, friends gift you with additions. I used to collect teapots, bells, Delft figurines, cobalt blue glass, Miss America pattern Depression glass, and more. Downsizing several years ago forced me to prioritize and pare my treasures but the process was painful.” ~ Author Caroline Clemmons

“Since the late 1980s I've collected very fine porcelain cups and saucers. I'm very selective about what I buy. Most of mine are English, high quality, and rare. I seldom buy now, and when I do, it's usually an upgrade.

I limit my numbers so my house doesn't become cluttered. A new one comes in, an old one goes out. Fortunately, I am in the antique business (in a small way) so I just put my "rejects" in my booth to sell.” ~ Author Cheryl Bolen

“I’m an avid baker of gingerbread, cakes, gingerbread boy & girl cookies. My kitchen and dining room are filled with collectibles. My dear friend made a custom table cloth and fabric gingerbread boys and girls to accent my gingham curtains. I also treasure my Disney Mickey Gingerbread Ears and gingerbread castle. We dine on stoneware plates decorated with gingerbread boys, my husband’s (reluctant) gift to me. My kitchen is filled with the aroma of spices and, Love—the hand lettering on my dining room wall promises a HEA.” ~ Author Connie Vines

“I collect small shoes and boots to put on wooden shelves in my office. I started collecting them when I was working for the State of Michigan, and would go downtown on my lunch break to a card shop. Every month they would add a different shoe, and it would be January's shoe, February' shoe, etc. When my sister-in-law got wind of it, she brought me six shoes for Christmas. A few years ago, my husband got a storage unit and inside a buffet was a large selection of boots and shoes. I now have three walls of wooden shelves with shoes and boots.” ~ Author Constance Bretes 

“I collect Breyer Christmas tree ornaments. My newest one is Justify, 2018 Triple Crown winner. I have American Pharoah, Secretariat, Sea Biscuit, War Admiral, and Zenyata. Breyer’s first model was the #57 Western Horse, made in 1950 as special order for the F.W. Woolworth Company.

I collected Breyer horses as a child. My dolls rode them. So it is natural that as an adult, I still enjoy collecting the smaller models.” ~ Author Jan Scarbrough

“One of my collections is a group of crystals I keep on the windowsill by my desk. I’ve collected them gradually over the years—like any good collection!—kind of like a magpie attracted to anything bright and shiny.” ~ Author Judith Hudson

“Most people would think I collect Texas flags -- I have 18, including one that flew over the state capitol the day I graduated from high school. But every single one has been given to me. The truth is I collect crosses, castles, and the number seven. Pictured is my favorite cross, made by my husband's aunt. The seven comes from my church that flooded during Harvey, and the castle is from my sister. Castles remind me of romance, seven is my lucky number and crosses put me in the presence of Jesus.” ~ Author Kara O'Neal

“I don't collect many things but one thing I do love is wind chimes.  I have a few larger ones I hang outside during the nicer months. I love listening to their music as the wind gently blows.

I also have five smaller ones that are birdhouse wind chimes that I used to hang in my large picture window over the sink in my kitchen. Unfortunately they are packed away in storage until we find a more permanent residence.” ~ Author Kari Lemor

“One day my mother and I were sitting at the table and I was trying to draw a rooster. She took my pencil and quickly sketched one. I told her she had to autograph it, so she did. After she passed, I found the now aged and wrinkled picture, along with the memories of us laughing and talking that day. I framed the rooster, but also started collecting them, along with chickens.” ~ Author Karen Kelley

“I collect stuffed dogs.  Every time I go on vacation, I try to get one from a gift shop.  I have a nice collection, all different breeds, and they line the tops of my bookshelves in my office.” ~ Author Karen Whiddon

“I’m not much of a collector, due to the fact that I live in an 800 sq ft cottage with no storage and no (well, one sort-of) closet. But I do like to bring back a decoration for the Christmas tree whenever I travel.  I’ve got surfing a Santa from Maui.  A lobster from Maine.  A streetcar from San Francisco. A Mexican Santa from Cancun.  A humming bird from Barbados.  A beaded Xmas tree from South Africa.  A high-heel pump from NYC.  One of the fairy godmothers from Disneyland.  (always intended to go back for the other 2, never happened)  I’m sure there are others up in the attic, to be unearthed in December and rekindle some of those happy vacation memories.” ~ Author Kathleen Lawless

“Have you ever felt a connection to something discovered in an antique store or thrift shop? I have, and it became the first in my growing collection of old photographs. I found the large framed picture, molding in the cellar of an antique store. I walked away without it, only to be haunted, and return for it one week later. I’m looking at it now as I type. The experience inspired scenes in my books and a blog post on my website. A pleasant haunting, indeed!” ~ Author Kathryn Hills

“I have collected things in the past—lighthouses, trivets, bells, and books (lots of books) but gave it up because I have too much stuff. I cluster things on a few shelves, not very neatly, that mean a lot to me because of the rememberings they have in my heart.

However, it’s the Magnificent Seven, the grandkids I started gathering 29 years ago, that are my favorite collection.” ~ Author Liz Flaherty

“When I was about ten I devoured Nancy Drew books by Carolyn Keene. I owned copies of every title and read them over and over. When I became a teen, I told my mom to sell the lot of them at her tag sale. Flash forward ten years and I regretted that impulsive statement. I had two daughters, one who was the age to read Nancy Drew. I began my quest to obtain every single title released of the original series. In my search I even unearthed a Nancy Drew Cookbook. I’m proud to say the entire collection is waiting for my granddaughter to fall under that same spell.” ~ Author Lucinda Race

“My love for antique wooden boxes began in the early 1990s. I was visiting family in Nashville where my aunt owned an antique store. I stopped in for a visit and fell in love with a Victorian-era (circa 1845) stationery box. Since then, I’ve collected over 40 boxes including an inlaid, hand-carved one created by an inmate in the Maine state prison, and a replica of a pirate’s chest made by an artisan in the early 1900s. They’re all beautiful to look but a lot of work to dust! And, if you ask my sons, a pain in the butt to pack and move. ~ Author Nancy Fraser

That’s it for our authors. As always, we love to hear from our readers. Is there something special you collect? If so, let us know in the comments.


There’s still plenty of time 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 25, 2019

The Importance of a Well-Edited Novel by Cheryl Bolen

A lot of us authors got into writing because spelling and grammar came easily to us when we were students. Because of those natural attributes, some authors fall into the false sense of security that they don’t need to hire editors and proofreaders for their books. I am not one of those authors.

I worked my way through college serving as a proofreader. In another life I was actually a professional editor. In another life I also taught sixth graders grammar. I hold degrees in journalism and in English. I was the only student in my college editing class who made an "A." I can edit others’ manuscripts pretty darn well. But not my own.

I never see my own errors. Those missing words? I read the sentence as if they were there. Or when I accidentally type ed when a word is supposed to end in es, when I proofread, I always read the sentence as I intended it to read. I could give a gazillion examples of the common errors I repeatedly make in my writing, but you get the idea.

Few things could be more humiliating to me than if I reader were to say my book was poorly edited. Now I pay two highly competent proofreaders for each one of my books. It is worth every penny. After these editors—one a talented, brilliant writer and the other a retired college English professor who loves romance books—have read my books and I have incorporated their corrections, I send my book off to select reviewers. And you know what? One of my core of book bloggers, AnnMarie Spiby of DragonRose Books Galore, still manages to find a scattering of typos my highly skilled professionals have missed.

For this I am most thankful. That means that before I release that book to the public—and potential crucifying reviews for carelessness—I have the opportunity to make one last round of corrections. For an author like myself who started out with New York publishing houses but who now is indie published, it is especially important to maintain high standards. And I thank each of my editors and readers who allow me to make that happen. (But do understand that typos do have a very strong will to live, and we don't always kill them all!)—Cheryl Bolen has two Christmas novellas coming out this season. His Lady Deceived (in the Deceived series) released this month, and One Room at the Inn (a stand alone in the Lord of Eton series) is the first novella in the Winter Wishes anthology of 13 brand-new stories by bestselling Regency authors. It is on preorder now for $.99, with release day set for Oct. 15.

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Snap, Crackle, Pop! @Judith Hudson

Fall is a good time to retreat inside - at least this fall has been. It feels like it's been raining non-stop since Labour Day here on Vancouver Island! I know, it's a good thing because we had a very dry summer, but I'm missing what is often the most beautiful weather of the year. The few times I've been out in my rowboat I've had to bail half a boat-full of water!

However, I have taken the opportunity to dive back into my writing after, to be honest, a year full of family crisis and responsibilities. It feels great to be working on a new book again! It will take a while to get the new books out, though, so I 'm happy to offer these books on sale for the Gems readers.

1/  These three Fortune Bay books are half price on Amazon US & UK for one more day - so don't wait!
The Good Neighbor is set right about now, climaxing at a hilariously flawed Thanksgiving dinner!
And while Home for Christmas has it's funny moments, Louise is in serious trouble in this one!
Like all the Fortune Bay books, Starting Over is poignant and heartwarming.
Why not treat yourself and get them all!

Amazon US 

 Amazon UK


2/ And don't forget the Romance Gems monthly Giveaway

HURRY! Our September Giveaway ends Sept. 27th!

September Giveaway

Kids are back to school. Now it’s time to pamper yourself a little.

Winner’s Choice of Amazon Gift Cards or Gifts for Reading and Pampering.

Grand Prize: $25.00 AMZ Gift Card or Echo Dot

2nd Prize: $15.00 AMZ GC or Reader's Journal

3rd Prize: $5.00 AMZ GC or Lavender Bath Bomb

I hope you're enjoying beautiful fall weather where ever you are.

Judith Hudson


Monday, September 23, 2019

Salem, MA – Not Just A Bunch of Hocus Pocus by Kathryn Hills #RomanceGems

The first day of autumn, my favorite time of year! And the unofficial kickoff of the Halloween season for many. The epicenter of Halloween in New England is Salem, Massachusetts. However, you might be surprised to learn this paranormal/fantasy romance author doesn’t only visit when October rolls around. Why? Because Salem has much more to offer, and it’s year-round.

Historic Homes - Salem, MA
First and foremost, the beauty and history of the city draws me there. Nestled on the rocky coast north of Boston, Salem is sadly most famous for the witch trials of 1692. Yet there’s a rich seafaring history, museums, historic mansions, literary notables, even a pioneer village. Everything from pirate lore to America’s oldest candy company—things most don’t expect to find.
The Friendship - Historic Salem Harbor

I’ve been fortunate to be there on glorious summer days when kids are playing on Salem Common and families are enjoying the Friendship—a tall ship in the harbor. Dogs are everywhere since it’s a pet-friendly city. I’ve attended conferences and events at the lovely Hawthorne Hotel—one of my favorite haunts—waking on Sunday mornings to the sound of church bells. The hush of snow brings a blanket of white to the twisty turny old streets. (The holidays are an excellent time to visit Salem!) From interactive theater and fine dining to shopping, and historic house tours. And, YES, there’s a bunch of spooky fun to be had! Something for everyone and all ages in Salem, MA.

I LOVE Halloween, and Witch City is a blast in October! But don’t hesitate to visit other times of the year. You’ll be missing out.

I asked some friends to share their favorite things about the city. Here's what they said...

Meet Macey Jennings, a Massachusetts-based actor, writer, and historical interpreter who has always been fascinated with the educational power of storytelling. She’s been a company member of History Alive, Inc. for four years as an actor and tour guide; “Homestead” marks her debut as a playwright.

Visit for shows & times
“My favorite thing about Salem is the community and how passionate they are about what they do. So many who live and/or work here (not just in tourism) have a passion, and they're dedicated to spreading their wealth of knowledge, whether it relates to art, local history, modern witchcraft, social advocacy, etc. It's part of the reason I originally wrote "Homestead;" I spent three years gathering information on the traditions and folk beliefs that contributed to the Salem Witch Hysteria. By creating this 17th-century time capsule for audiences to explore, I combine my love for theatre with Salem's history.”

The Witch House - Salem, MA
Judith Sterling is a tour guide at The Witch House (the 17th-century home of witch trials judge Jonathan Corwin) and an author of medieval romance, young adult paranormal fantasy, and metaphysical nonfiction. She’s traveled the world yet chooses to live and work in Salem. “I felt drawn to this place—even as a little girl living in Florida—and somehow knew I’d end up here. I adore The Witch House and The House of the Seven Gables, where my husband works. We and our twin boys live right by the Common, and every day as I walk through it, I relish the fact I’m treading the same ground as centuries’ worth of Salem residents, including Nathaniel Hawthorne. The past is alive here. You can see it in the architecture and feel it in the air, for the energy is both eclectic and electric. And yes, many of my experiences are supernatural.” Check out Judith's blog post about paranormal activity in The Witch House and learn more about Judith Sterling's Books.

Historical actress and writer Jennifer Emerson is newly arrived in Salem. “It’s the perfect city for adventure. Very walkable with stunning architecture. The culture of acceptance here is unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. Though interest in my family connections to the Witchcraft Hysteria of 1692 led me here to do research, there is so much more astounding history to be discovered. And, any Foodie will find their fill in Salem.

Presented by Intramersive Media
“Of course, many do come here because they are drawn to 1692, the world of the unseen, or the macabre. Long after the trials, Salem broke ground on helping occult matters come out into the light of day. Whatever folks come for, many seek an immersive experience. One of the shows I am currently in rehearsals for will deliver just that. Daemonologie: Smoke & Mirrors (presented by Intramersive Media and produced by Creative Collective with the generous support of the Peabody-Essex Museum) is set in 1849 at the dawn of the Spiritualist Movement. The audience are honored guests for a séance in the home of Monsieur Rene Levesque (the gorgeous Cotting-Smith Assembly House!). But all is not what it seems…"

So, there you have it. Time to plan your next trip!

None of my books are set in Salem, but I think that needs to change. They were, however, inspired by other historic locations in New England. Places you can visit!
Learn more about my books HERE

Thanks for reading!
~ Kathryn 

Kathryn Hills - A Time Traveler's Journey Series

For more on visiting Salem check out Things to do in Salem

Things to do in Salem

HURRY! Our September Giveaway ends Sept. 27th!

September Giveaway

Kids are back to school. Now it’s time to pamper yourself a little.

Winner’s Choice of Amazon Gift Cards or Gifts for Reading and Pampering.

Grand Prize: $25.00 AMZ Gift Card or Echo Dot

2nd Prize: $15.00 AMZ GC or Reader's Journal

3rd Prize: $5.00 AMZ GC or Lavender Bath Bomb

Sunday, September 22, 2019

Say Yes to Romance by @JoanReeves #RomanceGems

Pop-up Giveaway Today!

Have you noticed that some people like to judge a person based on reading choice?

When this first happened to me many years ago, I was taken aback when someone asked me when I was going to write a "real" romance.

I'd thought this mindset had changed, but you still hear the romance genre denigrated on movies and television and in real life too.

I really thought that was all in the past, but it happened again.

Someone asked what I "do." I replied that I was a writer. Of course the next question was what did I write. My answer—romance—was met with a choked laugh and, "Oh, I don't read those kinds of books."

Too many people think those who read romance are lacking in intelligence, maturity, and question our grasp on reality. As to what they think of those who write romance, well, it's not much better. They say we write formula books that anyone can write.

Back in the "cocky gate" trademark uproar earlier this year, the judge who rendered the decision that the woman who had successfully filed for protected trademark of the word "cocky" didn't have the right to sue anyone who used that word in a written work because, I'll paraphrase here, he hadn't read those kind of books but was certain they were written in the romance genre which was simplistic and formulaic, blah blah blah.

I don't know how many times I've been told or read from critics that we write about unrealistic people in unrealistic situations—as if writing about a man and woman seeking love in a committed relationship was something that happens only in an alternate reality, which would make it more suitable to science fiction perhaps.

If these naysayers were correct, there would be no long-term happy marriages. I have one of those, and know many other women who do also. Just about all my friends—especially those who write—have that kind of relationship too.

Ever Loved?

Anyone with an ounce of intelligence know that love is worth having, and it can still be found in this crazy world.

We know it's not easy. We know it requires work and commitment, and we are willing to make that investment in a relationship.

We like to read romance, not because it's fantasy, but because we believe in the power of love, and in a book—particularly a romance novel—we know that wrongs will be righted, good will prevail over evil, love will prevail against all odds. We like that optimism and want to find it in real life even though we know good doesn't always win because we are smart and in touch with reality.

We who read and write romance are not hopeless romantics but hopeful romantics. Always hopeful that love will prevail in this crazy, war-wracked world of ours where there's so much hate that fills the headlines.

I feel sorry for anyone who reads only "real" books—usually meaning a sad, dramatic tome with a depressing ending. I read widely in every genre, but romance offers something most stories don't. Hope. Optimism.

I love what Sandra Cisneros said in an article about what literary lions read: "I never feel guilty about reading any kind of book. Books are medicine, each one a specific prescription for whatever ails us."

Bottom Line

Never be ashamed of your reading taste. Love is empowering.

At the end of life, love is the only thing that remains.

I've sat a death vigil, and I know that in that last breath of life, the dying person wants only to whisper words of love to those who remain.

What Do You Think?

Leave a comment with your email address and tell me what you think about romance and the naysayers.

I'll choose a random commentator with email Sept. 23, Monday, 8pm CDT to receive a free copy of April Fool Bride, a romance guaranteed to leave you with a smile. I'll notify by email and here on this post in Comments.

Remember to Enter the Rafflecopter

Don't forget to enter our September Rafflecopter Giveaway, Back to School? Back to You!

The 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.

The Rafflecopter runs through Sept. 27 so there's still time to enter.

The prizes are listed on our Monthly Giveaway page, along with the entry form. Or click here to go straight to the entry form!

Saturday, September 21, 2019

Romantic Comedy by Karen Kelley #RomanceGems

 I often laugh at inappropriate times. I mean, not like at a funeral or anything. You see, I have these little movies that I see in my head. I'm pretty sure there are a lot of people just like me who are in mental wards. I want to scream out the injustice of it all. Yell out to someone who might listen, "They might be a writer! Set them Free! Unless they're a serial killer or something equally horrific!"

Seriously (or not) I love writing romantic comedy. It's not just comedy. I love dark comedy, too, although I don't think I've written dark comedy. Maybe I should give it a try. Like the person who came up with the idea of inserting fireworks into the dead person about to be cremated. I'm pretty sure I could convince one or two of my friends to follow through with that one if I go first. Talk about going out with a bang! Can you just see the expression on the morticians face?

Slapstick comedy is one of my favorites. I love the very politically incorrect like Blazing Saddles. The last really funny movies I watched were The Hustle and The Spy Who Dumped Me.

My Flocked series has been a fun series to write. Flock You!, Flocked Up! and available for preorder, I Don't Give A Flock! which is probably a tad politically incorrect. It just depends on how you look at it. It was fun to write, what can I say? Check it out:


Yes, I probably shouldn’t have slid down my boss’ banister, but it was a long, hard, and inviting banister. How could I have known that he would come back early from vacation, that I wouldn’t be able to stop, or that I would fly off the end, knock him down, and end up on top of him? And no, people, my you-know-what did not land on his face!

And yes, I was supposed to be there. I was babysitting his sister’s dog while her house was being fumigated. But now he’s here, and I’m having erotic fantasies, but I’m desperate to buy a new washer and dryer, so I need to stop having these naughty thoughts, which I do.

That is, until my free-thinking mother sends me brownies from California.

Except there was a slight problem with the shipment.


Women usually want one thing from me—money. But when Shannon slides down my banister, I know I want her. I have a feeling she might actually be different from all the others. She’s funny and smart. And hot. Did I mention hot? I can’t seem to get the image of her sliding down my banister out of my mind.

Then the brownies arrive. The best I’ve ever had.

Yes, Shannon is good. Real good. I should’ve known she was like all the others. How the hell could I have ended up in Vegas, married to the biggest con artist of them all?

I hope you enjoyed the preview of, I Don't Give A Flock! and if you'd like to order it, the links are below.
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.
                                           Click HERE to preorder

Karen Kelley


Friday, September 20, 2019


By Caroline Clemmons

Our theme for this month is “back to you”. What does that phrase mean to you?

For me, this phrase conjures visions of many pleasures: A relaxing massage. Reading while curled up in a comfy chair. Time spent with Hero and our two daughters. Walking with Hero on a clean beach at the water’s edge at sunset—especially in a quiet yet exotic place. Standing with Hero and watching the elk come into town in Estes Park, Colorado. Sitting in our family room with Hero and watching a movie on TV. Renting a cottage in Ireland to spend a month sightseeing (File this one under pie-in-the-sky).

As you can see, there’s a wide range of things that give me pleasure or would if I could indulge myself. Some are free, some represent expense. I’m happy with the free ones even if I dream of the others.

To me the idea of “back to you” means recharging our bodies by allowing ourselves even an hour or two of downtime. Writers are guilty of either writing or thinking about what we plan to write 24/7. For me, “back to you” means not pondering our stories, but simply enjoying the moment.

(That isn’t as easy as you might think. Writers tend to think about writing from every angle. A bad experience or a good one is filed away for future reference. Everything is research for us.)

From an early age I was trained to be diligent and to do my best. A strong work ethic was part of my upbringing. Several years ago at my annual physical, I confessed to my doctor that I was often tired. He noticed my feet and ankles were swollen. Imagine my delight when my physician told me to rest on the bed for one to two hours each afternoon. Bless that man, he ordered me to take a nap! Hooray! 
Back to me time!

What do you do for “back to you” time?

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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.

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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...