Sunday, January 26, 2020

Coffee and Conversation with the #RomanceGems

It's time for 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: Describe your writer’s space. 

It’s a new year, and many of us have expressed a strong desire to write more and finish projects we’ve planned. We’re all writers, so that typically means we spend A LOT of time writing and/or thinking about writing related things. So…where’s your favorite place to work? Is it a designated spot in your home? What’s it like? Is there anything special you keep there? Or, perhaps you move around or write in public places? Tell me!

“My writing space is my leather recliner next to the fireplace. I grab my laptop and a beverage, and settle in to write my books. It's warm in winter and cool in summer and I love the coziness.”
~ Karen Whiddon 

Karen Whiddon's cozy leather chair

“One of my bedrooms is my office. I share it with my cat and her litter boxes and food. There’s nothing pretty about it. To write, I use a MacBook Air on a computer desk. That is also shared with the cat.” ~ Jan Scarbrough

Jan Scarbrough's office manager

“While I have a lot of author friends who choose to write away from home in places like Starbucks, that’s not me. I do my best writing in my home office. At a desktop computer—not a laptop. I am blessed that my home office is a sunroom surrounded on three sides by windows, two of which overlook a wooded area. My office has everything I need from a cozy loveseat to stacks of shelves of research books, printers, and file cabinets. My Herman Miller Aeron chair allows me work long days without pain. Yes, I am blessed.” ~ Cheryl Bolen

Cheryl Bolen's sunroom office

“I thrive in total quiet, which is why, as a kid, I loved the library so much. As an adult I still find I need to have the environment around me noise-free, especially when I’m writing. My favorite place to create is in my home office. It’s in the attic behind 2 doors – and believe me, I close them behind me every time I’m writing! I have a big window that overlooks my forest property situated above my desk that I look out and daydream through while I write. Nirvana. Noiseless; people-less; solitary. Love that!” ~ Peggy Jaeger

Peggy Jaeger's "noiseless, nirvana" attic office

“I have always been fortunate to have a dedicated office in my home, although I did (reluctantly) share the space with my day job when I had one. How happy am I to have it back to being exclusively for writing! The room is painted my favorite color, lipstick red. I have framed book covers on every wall space not occupied by bookshelves, and a large window looks out into my jungle of a yard. I’m not very organized and at one point my darling room got into a state where I didn’t want to be in it. Enter a professional organizer who spent a day and a half on what became my best investment lately in my writing future. Now I love my office again and happily spend all day here weaving my tales.” ~ Kathleen Lawless

“I have a small summer camp in New England and an apartment in St. Augustine that I split my time between. Each place has a desk where I keep all my writing stuff. Pens, paper, my planner, goals list, and of course, my laptop. That last one is what I need for writing. I love to be outside, so I typically take my laptop outside and write either looking at the duck pond in New Hampshire, or at the river in Florida. Can you tell water and nature are my inspiration?” ~ Kari Lemor

Kari Lemor's St. Augustine water view office

“My office at home is in a spare room that is dark, has a terrible view and is quiet unless the laundry is going. I don't need to gaze outside for inspiration...just inside my own head, so a view and comfy reading chair etc are not required. However, I do have framed copies of my book covers lining my walls. Sometimes I need to look at them to remind myself that I really can finish this book because I've done it before. Many times.” ~ Bonnie Edwards

“We moved into a new house 6 years ago, and I was so excited to get an office! However, my office is now the kids' gameroom, and my desk their homework desk. I was writing so much in our room, my husband bought a desk that folds down from Ikea so I don't have to write in bed anymore. My workspace is a yoga ball for a chair, a folding desk, and my nightstand. And I love it” :) ~ Laura Hunsaker

Laura Hunsaker's bedroom workspace

“My favorite place to write is at a cafe. It forces me to get up, put myself together, and get out of the house. I'm an extrovert so I find that if I go too many days without social interaction I start to lose energy and wind up in a downward spiral. Besides, leaving the house makes it harder for me to procrastinate. If I'm at a coffee shop, then the call of dishes, laundry, and Netflix aren't as distracting. That being said, one of my New Year's resolutions is to save money. I've been trying to commit to using my home office at least two days a week.” ~ Satin Russell

Satin Russell's home office

“I have my own office space!!! Yea!!! I didn’t realize how much I missed having an office of my own until we sold the house and went RVing for 3 1/2 years. Right now, I’m promoting my new book and about half finished with another so my office is in shambles. I can find what I’m looking for but I doubt anyone else could.”
~ Karen Kelley

“My writing space is much like my brain, slightly, (okay, fine, more than slightly) cluttered, and facing the window... because every easily distracted person should have something distracting in their line of sight, right?! I've even attached a birdfeeder to the window to attract all the little birdies (and a pesky squirrel or two). It's not the most conducive spot for working, but I love it!” ~ Elsa Kurt

Elsa Kurt's writing space

“One of my favorite places is my writing space my family calls my “pink cave”. The computer desk is a Vee that fits into a corner of my tiny office. Beside it is my matching dark cherry desk. For my eyes’ ease, I use a television screen as my monitor. Behind me, bookcases hold books for research and genealogy, my friends’ books, and mine. Hanging over my desk is a three-shelf glass-front cabinet holding a few collectibles. The walls are covered with memorabilia and pretty prints. The room is cluttered but I love working in my personal sanctuary.” ~ Caroline Clemmons

“When we retired and figured out we were going to sharing the house, one of the first things we did was to make part of our detached garage into a "she-shed." It's here that I write and sew and find alone time whenever I need it. I love my husband for many things, and understanding my need for that is one of the biggest.”
~ Liz Flaherty

“Much like me, my favorite writing space is a bit eclectic. I love working in our three-season screen porch, which looks out over our wooded property. Lots of camp-style, comfy furnishings, odd decorations collected during our travels, bird feeders off the back, and dogs. Always dogs! This is an older, warm weather pic, but you’ll get the idea. There’s even a wood stove for chilly fall mornings and more “treasures” on the walls now. Add a big iced coffee and my laptop, and I'm good to go! The vibe is awesome and perfect for my laid-back style.”
~ Kathryn Hills

Kathryn Hills' camp-style writing porch

Okay, it's your turn to join the conversation! Add your comments below or send via email through the "contact us” link on the bottom of the left sidebar. You can also make suggestions on what you'd like to discuss here in the future.

Thanks for joining us!

~ The Romance Gems ~


Only a few days remaining on our January Giveaway!
Ends at 11:59 p.m. EST on Friday, January 31st

Or, visit our Monthly Giveaway Page

January Prizes
Grand Prize: $20.00 Amazon Gift Card
2nd Prize: $15.00 Amazon Gift Card
3rd Prize: $10.00 Amazon Gift Card
4th Prize: $5.00 Amazon Gift Card

Best of luck to everyone!

Saturday, January 25, 2020

What I've Learned about Hallmark Mysteries by Cheryl Bolen

A friend turned me onto the Hallmark Mystery Channel almost two years ago because I dabble as a hobbyist antiques dealer, and he thought I’d like the Garage Sale Mysteries. Boy, did I! Unfortunately, the channel pulled the plug on the excellent series when its star, Lori Loughlin, was arrested in connection with the Varsity Blues scandal for spending half a million dollars to pave the way for her daughters’ college admissions. 

But my husband and I – neither fans of American network programming – were hooked on these mystery movies even though they are formulaic. They are still well done. 

Female Protagonists

With few exceptions, the Hallmark Mystery Movies fit a pattern. In every series, the protagonist is a female. You’ve got the assistant small town librarian in the Aurora Teagarden Mysteries, a series based on books by Charlaine Harris. Then you’ve got Murder She Baked based on books written by Kensington author Joann Fluke. You’ve got the Crossword Mysteries about, you guessed it, a gal who creates crossword puzzles for a New York daily newspaper. There’s Murder 101 about a female professor who just happens to teach a course on crime fiction, and another professor is featured in the Emma Fielding Mysteries that showcase an anthropologist whose male interest is an FBI antiquities investigator.
Then there’s the Chronicle Mysteries about a podcaster (starring the same Alison Sweeney who stars in Murder She Baked).

There are three series featuring TV personalties. The woman who does a cooking segment on The Morning Show Murders (based on Al Roker’s mysteries), as well as Seattle consumer reporter who stars in the Ruby Herring Mysteries each star in shows where they do double duty after hours solving crimes, and in the Matchmaker Mysteries, the heroine has a television show where she plays matchmaker.

Another series, Picture Perfect, features a photographer. The Hailey Dean Mysteries, based on books by Nancy Grace, who does cameos in the series, is set in Atlanta. Hailey’s a former prosecutor who is now a therapist.

All of the above feature female protagonists, and each of them solves the crime on her own, and each of them has a love interest. The heroine in Murder She Baked actually has two love interests—the town veterinarian and a police detective. They also have a cast of endearing continuing characters, usually townspeople, co-workers, and relatives of the heroine. In the case of Arora Teagarden, her mother is the actress Marilu Henner.

One thing each of these series has in common occurs before the finale when the female protagonist goes off on her own to solve the crime, placing herself in an extremely dangerous situation. (And the viewer is thinking she’s too stupid to live at this point. Doesn’t she know there’s a murderer out there?) The male interest – frequently a policeman – tries to come to her rescue, but our intrepid heroine typically extricates herself from danger just in the knick of time.

Ethnic Diversity

Like all Hallmark movies, ethnic diversity is shown. The hero and heroine in the Morning Show Murders are African Americans, and the hero and heroine in Picture Perfect are Hispanic. Also, each series features diverse characters.

Each episode also has several plausible suspects, and unlike British crime dramas, these crimes are well motivated with no “mass murders” or killing off of the cast.

While there are a few small-town settings as in Aurora Teagarden or Murder She Baked, most are in urban settings.

One series that defies the above is the Gourmet Detective. In it, the tables are turned. The San Francisco police detective is the female, and the foodie is the fellow. Jointly, they solve crimes equally. He may even provide more brains and she more brawn. But he definitely takes the lead in the romance department, and the sparks do fly.

These two-hour shows provide a satisfying mystery, a familiarly welcome cast of characters, and a sweet romance.

But I still miss The Garage Sale Mysteries.—Cheryl Bolen is New York Times Bestselling and Amazon All Star author of more than 40 books, most romances set in Regency England. 

Enter our monthly giveaway here.

Friday, January 24, 2020

Beat the winter doldrums! - by Judith Hudson

Lots going on this month! January has been brutal in much of the country. This is the view from my deck this week. 

So I just hunkered down and wrote - and planned some serious sales and giveaways!

#1/ I put Starting Over - a full length, over-30 love story set in Fortune Bay - on sale for my readers who may also be snowed in.
(Or not. Snow is not manditory!)

Today only, on Sale on Amazon for 99¢

(Don't have a kindle? It's easy to read kindle ebooks on your phone or tablet. Find out how. )

Although this is one of the last books in the Fortune Bay small town romance series, it can definitely be read alone
Here's the back cover blurb:

Lily Brewster has been caring for ‘strays’ all her life. The more battered the baby bird or helpless the new kid in class, the more she wants to help. 

Now, with her dream of a family in tatters, Lily seeks refuge in a cabin on Majestic Lake. Pulling herself together, she helps her father at the new Fortune Bay Resort, taking on any job that needs doing—including cleaning for the mystery guest in Cottage Four.

Marshall Mason is hiding from the press in Cottage Four while he heals from a motorcycle accident that has left him severely scarred, both outside and in. As Marshall contemplates the end of his music career and the possible loss of his family, he spins deeper into depression.

Until one day a woman knocks on his door.

By the time Lily puts two and two together and figures out who the mystery man in Cottage Four really is, she and the reclusive ‘Mr. Morris’ are linked in ways neither saw coming.

Sometimes you have to hit rock bottom to find your way back into the sun. Join Lily and Marshall, Starting Over.

Today only, get Starting Over on Amazon for 99¢ 


#2/ Starting today, my own Rafflecopter giveaway of 10 paperback copies of Fortune Bay books (full disclosure - out of print covers. I can't just throw them away!) These books will be personally signed, made out to the winners and mailed. Good for US and Canadian residents.

Until the end of the month (but why not do it now!)

#3/ Also today only, check out this bookfunnel group sale, 

Savage and Sweet: All Things Romance $0.99 Sale 


#4/ Our regular fabulous Gems Monthly Giveaway with four prizes of Amazon giftcards.

You could be a winner! Enter today.

That's it for now my lovelies. I'm off to the sunny American south, where I'll mail the Fortune Bay books to the winners.
See you next month.

Judith Hudson

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Adventuring – A Timeless Victorian On Cape Cod by Kathryn Hills #RomanceGems

Highfield Hall and Gardens, Falmouth, Massachusetts, Jan. 2020

I get around. *chuckle* Ask anyone who knows me, and they’ll tell you I’m always crying, “Road trip!” Big cities, tiny towns, especially historic locations. One of my favorite things about being a writer is the inspiration I gather from the many places I explore. Is it Wanderlust, a popular term, meaning a strong longing for or impulse toward wandering? That’s exactly what it is. But I say, “adventuring.” And whether I’m alone, with friends, or with family, I LOVE adventuring! I reside in New England and hitting the road in my old Honda CRV is my favorite way to see this diverse and beautiful region. So, come along. First stop, Cape Cod, Massachusetts!

Nearby Woods Hole Harbor
Simply called “The Cape” by locals, the famous hook-shaped peninsula is home to quaint towns, stalwart lighthouses, great seafood, and quintessential New England views. (The Cape is 65 miles from Woods Hole to Provincetown, including Upper Cape, Mid-Cape, Lower Cape, and Outer Cape) We’re heading to Highfield Hall and Gardens in Falmouth, (Upper Cape) and the setting for my first book, Haunting Highland House.

Even in winter, Highfield Hall and Gardens is an enchanting and inspiring location. The mansion itself - a Queen Anne stick-style Victorian built in 1878 - so sparked my imagination it launched my debut novel and a book series. I discovered it by chance over a decade ago, yet one visit changed the course of my life.

Highfield Hall seen through the Stickwork sculpture
of artist Patrick Dougherty, Jan. 2020
Want some backstory? Once the summer home of wealthy Bostonians, the estate passed from owner to owner, serving as everything from a hotel to a school for theater students. Eventually, it fell to ruin and became the town’s derelict or haunted house. Right there. First clue why this place piqued my interest. A group of concerned citizens stepped in just before the historic mansion was set to be demolished and the property developed for housing. Today, the old house stands beautifully restored, transformed into a cultural center for the community, including a summer stock theater, gardens, walking trails, and conservation land. It’s a restoration success story. I’m a sucker for a happy ending!

Upper Cape beach in winter
During my first visit to Highfield in 2008, I couldn’t help but wonder… What would it be like to live in this place, now and during its heyday back in the late 1800’s? Wouldn’t it be amazing to experience both times? Maybe as the caretaker? If you’ve read my Time Traveler’s Journey Series, you know where my vivid imagination ran with this idea. The house I dubbed Highland House plays an active roll throughout my books. Learn more about how the real mansion became a central character by visiting my Author Notes.

Stickwork by artist Patrick Dougherty
Front lawn, Highfield Hall, Jan. 2020
Visit Highfield Hall and Gardens to find upcoming events, programs, and to explore additional history. You can plan your own adventure and fall in love with this timeless place.

See Falmouth’s Chamber of Commerce for ideas on visiting the Upper Cape any time of the year.

Thanks for reading! Until our next adventure,

~ Kathryn 

Enter our January GIVEAWAY HERE!

Or visit our Monthly Giveaway Page for the most current contest

Grand Prize: $20.00
Amazon Gift Card 2nd Prize: $15.00
Amazon Gift Card 3rd Prize: $10.00
Amazon Gift Card 4th Prize: $5.00 Amazon Gift Card

Best of luck to everyone!

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

What's Next for health, family & writing by @BonnieEdwards #RomanceGems

I'm writing this post in advance because by the time you read this I'll be away for a much needed sunny winter break. If you want to see more pictures you can always follow me on Facebook here:

What's Next for me? What plans do I have for this new and shiny new year?

I'm a sorry excuse for a planner and am easily distracted by new shiny things and squirrels!! Writing this blog should help keep me on track with my plans for 2020. (I can't even imagine what the end of this decade will bring so there's no way I can think that far ahead.)

For my health: I mention this first because without guarding your health, there's not much hope of attaining any goals. I plan to continue practicing yoga so I can focus on a daily basis. I plan to maintain my recent weight loss (over 20 lbs) so I can avoid diabetes and its complications.

For my family: I plan to pitch in with childcare throughout the year as needed. My grands are growing and these years are precious and fleeting. I will support my siblings as they go through their continuing health challenges.

For my writing: (now this is where the new shiny things can distract me)

1- Complete Christmas to the Max (A Return to Welcome Christmas Book)
2- Write Claiming Shandy Return to Welcome Book 4
3- Plot a book for Hallmark Books
4- Combine my Perdition House novellas into a collection
5- Combine my single title standalone books into a collection
6- Laugh at my ambitious plans on December 1 when I see how little I get done.

Don't forget to enter our monthly giveaway. Full information on the Rafflecopter drawing can be found on our Monthly Giveaway page. You can also find the the entry form HERE.

While your checking out the Giveaway page, don't forget to take a peek at our Movie Theater and Bookstore pages. Not to mention our Free Book giveaways!

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Welcoming a brand new year by Karen Kelley #RomanceGems

     I’m starting 2020 with a brand new release. I’ve gone back to my roots. This is a romantic suspense. This is the first book in the Badge of Honor series and I’m super excited! These are all stand alone. Some heroes/heroines wear a badge and some don’t, but what they all have in common is honor. They believe in doing what’s right. 

      The reviews are coming in for book one, Broken Justice, and I’m super excited that readers are enjoying the story. Here is what they’re saying:

     “She’s a sassy hot U.S. Marshal, he’s a small town sheriff and together they are sizzling.” Charleann Davis

     “Gage and Mac (Makala) were like colliding freight trains when they met” Molly G. Hamblin

     “This book hooked me from the get go. I just couldn’t put it down. I fell in love with these characters and omg what a story” Jeanne A Kotsios

     I also have Hidden Secrets up for preorder. This is book two in the Badge of Honor series. 

     These books will all be in KU as well, so you can read them for free if you have a membership. 

     Don't forget to enter our monthly giveaway. Full information on the Rafflecopter drawing can be found on our Monthly Giveaway page. You can also find the the entry form HERE.

While your checking out the Giveaway page, don't forget to take a peek at our Movie Theater and Bookstore pages. Not to mention our Free Book giveaways!

Karen Kelley



Monday, January 20, 2020

WHAT'S NEXT? #RomanceGems @Caroline Clemmons #giveaways

By Caroline Clemmons

Don't overlook the giveaways at the end of this post!

This month’s theme for Romance Gems is What’s Next. You can imagine we’re each writing, some faster than others. Many of us write for traditional publishers and others (like me) are self-published while some are both. I started with a New York publisher but now do my own thing.  

My own thing is what I’ve been doing since 2012, writing my series or whatever struck my fancy. I had done a few books in coordination with other authors and published in Debra Holland's Kindle World, but mostly went my own way. Last year, however, I dived into several multi-author projects (MAPs). These are series in which a group of authors write stand-alone books using the same parameters for a long running series. 

Generally, MAPs are short books under 55,000 words. Some are by locale and situation like the Widows of Wildcat Ridge series and the Angel Creek Christmas Brides. Others are by situation like the Proxy Brides and The Pinkerton Matchmaker series. I also contributed to an anthology, Christmas Wishes. I think I had a couple early in the year in my own Pearson Grove Series. Books I’ve written in the past few years are sweet, which means any sex occurs behind closed doors without the reader getting the details. Many of my earlier books are longer and sensual.

For 2020, I’ve joined or am continuing with multi-author projects again. On January 10, l released AN AGENT FOR LYDIA, The Pinkerton Matchmaker Series book 56. I loved writing that book because I incorporated research on Wyoming Territory and the Hole-In-the-Wall. I’d always wondered about that part of the country and found it fun to travel there vicariously. In fact, desk chair travel is far easier than hiking through mountains. Reviews indicate readers found it fun, too. AN AGENT FOR LYDIA is available in KU, for Kindle, and in paperback at (hint, hint).

My next release is The Proxy Bride Series book 36, A BRIDE FOR LUKE. I’m always excited when I start a project—but then follows a gnawing-my-teeth stage. That’s a point in the middle where I think I’ll never finish this book and if I do no one will buy it. Once I’m past that stage, I see the story is going to work out just as it had in my plot plans and outline. Then,  I enjoy writing again. You'd think after over fifty titles I'd have stopped doubting myself. Other authors do this, too, so it must be innate with the writing gene. A BRIDE FOR LUKE will be released February 19. It’s already on preorder (hint, hint again) on Amazon at
By the way, both covers were created by Virginia McKevitt at Black Widow Designs. 

Recently I decided that in 2020 I will learn to do at least simple graphics for a meme. Why can’t I create cute Facebook and Twitter illustrations to catch attention? You’d think anyone who could write 120,000 word book and who had computer programming in college (okay, it was only one semester and it was back when dinosaurs roamed the earth) could figure this out. If so, in my case you’d be wrong. Thus far my attempts look as if the average first grader created them. Surely I’ll improve with practice.

My attempt at a meme showing a few reviews
(Big sigh.)

For 2020 I'm excited to say I have a lot of writing planned! I hope you have a lot of reading time on your schedule. Today, I’ll give away an e-book to one person who comments, winners choice from my books. Be sure to leave your email if you’re entering.

Big Giveaway!

Don’t forget our monthly giveaway! In my opinion, we award a generous selection of gift cards each month.  You can find the information on our Monthly Giveaway page. Fill out the Rafflecopter there. You have until January 31, so you can come back and enter every day. 
Prizes are:
First Prize -- $20 gift card
Second Prize -- $15 gift card
Third Prize -- $10 gift card
Fourth Prize -- $5.00 gift card

While you're here, why not check out our Bookstore and our Movie Theater?

Thanks for stopping by! Please come back each day that you can. Also, tell your friends about the great authors and contests we have!