Friday, January 31, 2020

...a good tail wind blowing... by Liz Flaherty #RomanceGems

"You never will get where you're going
If you never get up on your feet
Come on, there's a good tail wind blowing"
 from "Put One Foot in Front of the Other," by Jules Bass and Maury Laws.

What's next? It was January's topic here on Romance Gems, and a very fitting one it was, too. I think I speak for all 20-some of us--and gesture for us as well--by throwing my hands up and saying, "What's next?" I'd include a few swear words in there, too. Maybe some tears. I might growl instead of speak. I might open a bottle of wine. I might finish it off.

The year has had rough beginnings for many of us. Loss, illness, surgery. Some of us feel we've been betrayed by a professional association and its membership. I don't know it for a fact and it's stuff we mostly keep to ourselves, but probably some of our private lives aren't what we wish they were. Heartache is company we keep whether we want to or not. Some of us can't bear the political climate.

But we're writers. We deal with emotion every single day. If not our own, then that of the people on our pages. We are pleased when we (or our people) make readers laugh or cry because we've done it to ourselves first. And we've done it because we've mined the awful stuff for what we can use. It's how we get through the day. How we put one foot in front of the other. (Maybe not all of us. I remember feeling terrible because grief fed my muse, but it was the truth. I think it silences it for others.)

I'm still in an anesthesia-fed fog, which I've been bemoaning for the nine days since I had disc surgery that left my fingers miraculously un-numb. I'm not sure how long I can blame the anesthesia, so I'm trying to work my way out of it, and that's what's next for me. Being healthy and thinking about spring and flowers and moving forward on my work-in-progress.

Come to think of it, that's a "what's next" I wish for everyone--at least all Romance Gems and other writer friends. I end my weekly newspaper column the same way every time, with "Have a good week. Be nice to somebody."

Make it happen. We're writers, after all.
Almost forgot, today's the last day to enter this month's Rafflecopter. The prizes are great, as usual, and we are so grateful to you for spending time with us.
Full information on the Rafflecopter drawing can be found on our Monthly Giveaway page. You can also find the the entry form HERE.

Coming soon, and available for pre-order now...

Oops, almost forgot something else! Caroline Clemmons is the winner of the goody bag from my post of a few weeks ago! Congratulations, Caroline, and thanks for commenting!

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Next... by Nora LeDuc #Romance

Look at this antique!

Every year I get excited about a new project connected to my writing. Of course, whatever it is might not be cutting-edge. Seems the tortoise and I have something in common. I'm not quick to jump on the latest technological event. To be fair, I was curious and fast to become an internet user. I had a friend with an unusual disk. When he inserted it into the drive, you were whisked away to a magical land named Prodigy.

My passport to the internet

I ordered one and was soon transported through my phone to a choice of bulletin boards (bb). Wow! Until this time, I used my old IBM for games and to save my writing for my first to-be-published book Miss McNeal's Pirate. Now, I found wonderful romance writers and tons of their books. I was in heaven. Unfortunately, the  group dissolved when Prodigy raised their price and charged for long distance telephone calls. Other programs popped up, and I moved onward. I tried chat rooms and Myspace.

More big breakthroughs occurred during these times. You could email
friends and family using other services, and suddenly, you could find an
online website for whatever or whoever you wanted. Over the hill people,
animal lovers, dating, crafts, body builders, boaters,  books and more books etc. etc.

Tons of stories in your hand.
And now I'm on Facebook, Goodreads, Twitter, Instagram, and own a Kindle. (Who ever thought we'd carry all our books on one small device?) Lately, I've been trying to improve my BookBub use. Please come follow me and discover all the wonderful authors and their novels. Who knows what will be next? We'll let our imaginations fly. I do predict we'll have new adventures and fun.

And before I go, let me add that I'm currently beginning the editing stage of my next book, Christmas at the Easy Breezy. This is a romance with two weddings and no funerals. Coming in July!!

~Happy Reading, my Friends! Nora LeDuc


Don't forget to enter our monthly rafflecopter which ends January 31. Just click on the link and enter.
Hurry the deadline is the end of the month.
First prize: $20 Gift Card
Second prize: $15 Gift Card
Third prize: $10 Gift Card
Fourth prize: $5 Gift Card

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Labors of Love by @KaraONealAuthor #RomanceGems

We've started 2020, which means in one more year I'll be sending my second child off to college.

It might seem like I still have time, but the truth is, it's going to go faster than I'm prepared for. My oldest is currently in college, majoring in Music Education, and I felt like I blinked and she was gone.

When children decide where they want to go, and what they want to do, it's so exciting. I love watching my daughter and sons grow up and become their own person. It's a beautiful privilege. I'm grateful and anticipate the years to come.

But it's also sad. Soon my home will not be the center of their world, and I have to adjust to that. I think I'm doing a good job. I hardly ever cry, but I sure do hug them a lot. Thankfully, they're sweet and indulge me.

At Romance Gems we're asking WHAT'S NEXT for everyone, and my "next" is helping my son prepare for the SAT. I've got to dust off my study skills and hone my ability to think differently. (I'm not looking forward to it.) But I love him, and I will labor right alongside him.

Sending children off to college leaves one with so many emotions and much hope for the future. I believe my husband and I have raised kids who will contribute well to our world.

My children! My 7th grader is on the left. My freshman in college is in the middle. And my upcoming Senior is on the right.

You know, it's funny. As I write this, I realize that the book I'm currently editing is about a son who returns from college after a five year absence to a family who is equal parts overjoyed to see him, and equal parts sad he had to be gone so long. It's interesting how what I'm writing sometimes mirrors what I'm currently going through.

The book is called The Inventor's Heart. It doesn't have a release date yet or a cover, so I can't share it with you yet. But it's book 13 in my series, and Alex and Julia are in many other books. They are members of my core families, so they've made several appearances in earlier stories.

I'm looking forward to this book hitting the shelves. Julia has Dyslexia and Alex is a genius. This creates conflict for the characters, and Alex has to work hard to prove to Julia that she's as brilliant as he is. I enjoyed writing this story. Helping Julia feel worthy became a labor of love for me. I'm a Special Education teacher, and I wanted to write a romance with a character who had to overcome similar obstacles as some of my students. This book has brought tears to my eyes on more than one occasion.

I can share an excerpt with you, though:

“I’m…stupid, Alex.”

His eyes flashed.

“I am.”

Thunder appeared on his face. “You. Are. Not. Stupid.”

“Yes, I—”

He clutched her shoulders. “No,” he ground out, anger sizzling from him in waves.

But his forceful reply couldn’t change what was. She eased out of his hold and stood, putting the chair between them. “You’re so smart. What you can do boggles my mind, and you need a wife who can be your partner in all ways.”

Alarm slashed across his face, and he went rigid. “What do you mean?”

She gestured toward his designs on the wall. “I can’t help you with your work, and I’ll probably cause you trouble if I try. You need someone who can walk with you, support you and help…broaden your reach.” She shook her head. “That’s not me. I wouldn’t even know where to start."

Pain grew in each line of his face. “With me. You start with me. You be Julia. That’s all I need.”

To read any other books in my series, click here.

And we still have our giveaway going on! 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!

Monday, January 27, 2020

What's Next? Well, since I write romance, a Wedding, of course!! by Peggy Jaeger

A New Year is filled with such...promise, don't you think? 2019 was not a year I will look back on with, to quote the current Queen, "undiluted pleasure." Lots of lousy stuff happened, but it's in the past now, so no looking back.

Instead, I'm looking forward to 2020 and to May, especially. Why, you ask? Well, I'm here to tell ya ( you knew that was coming, didn't you? heehee!)

In  May of 2020, my darling daughter will be getting married.

She's jumping the broom, getting hitched, tying the knot, walking down the aisle, pledging her troth.

Get the picture?

This will be my first, last and only foray into that exclusive club of MOTHER OF THE BRIDE and I want to do everything to get it right and make sure my daughter and her wonderful hubby-to-be have the event they want.

No easy feat, this, I tell ya.

First, due to issues, problems, and cannonical ridiculousness with the New Hampshire Catholic diocese, they are being married in the faith one week before the reception, in New York. It will be a small, family centered Mass.

Then, the following weekend, there will be a three day celebration in the White Mountains complete with a Sri Lankan blessing ceremony, a cocktail welcome party, a reception for almost 400 and then a brunch on Sunday morning to cap it all off and say goodbye.

400 people. 4 separate days. One tired M.O.B.
But sososos worth it!!

I've got 4 1/2 months to get in shape for my dresses - and yes, I have 4!! - so I can look good in pictures and have the stamina not only to get through everything, but to be able to dance my little tootsies off at the reception.

Pray for me, peeps, pray for me!

Now, I write romance books.  Love, marriage, commitment and everything in between and after is so important to me. I've got a couple of New Hampshire wedding books in print already with a third to come this year. My MATCH MADE IN HEAVEN series is about a family-run wedding business in the ( wait for it....) fictional New Hampshire town of HEAVEN.  Hey, write what you know, right? And about WHERE you're familiar with. The third book is dedicated to my darling daughter and her betrothed and I can't wait for them to realize it!

Book 1, DEARLY BELOVED is about Colleen O'Dowd, a wedding planner.

VOTED THE 2019 BOOK BUYERS BEST AWARD TOP PICK Colleen O'Dowd manages a thriving bridal business with her sisters in Heaven, New Hampshire. After fleeing Manhattan and her cheating ex-fiancé, Colleen still believes in happily ever afters. But with a demanding business to run, her sisters to look after, and their 93-year-old grandmother to keep out of trouble, she's worried she'll never find Mr. Right.

Playboy Slade Harrington doesn't believe in marriage. His father's six weddings have taught him life is better as an unencumbered single guy. But Slade loves his little sister. He'll do anything for her, including footing the bill for her dream wedding. He doesn't plan on losing his heart to a smart-mouthed, gorgeous wedding planner, though.

When her ex-fiancé comes back into the picture, Colleen must choose between Mr. Right and Mr. Right Now.

Amazon // Kobo  // Barnes and Nobel  //Apple // Google Play//

Book 2, TODAY, TOMORROW, ALWAYS deals with widowed oldest sister Cathleen O'Dowd Mulvaney
Lawyer Cathleen O'Dowd wants to break free from her boring image. Widowed young, she's toed the good-girl line but now wants a little fun and laughter in her days…and nights. Living in a small town, though, she can't do anything that would tarnish her professional reputation.

Mac Frayne's tragic past has turned him into a sullen loner. In town to write a book on the city's founder, his plan is to get it done, then head home to his solitary existence.

When circumstances force them to work together, their opposing personalities clash, but the sexual attraction between them is palpable.

Can a simple affair with an end date be just the thing to brighten up their lives?Amazon // B&N // Applebooks   // Rakuten-Kobo // google play // Books-a-million //

Book 3 BAKED WITH LOVE will be out later this year...more on that as the year progresses.

So, the topic for the month is WHAT'S NEXT? Have you seen what's next with the monthly giveaway for January? Click here and discover everything wonderful we've got for January!:

Until next time romance-loving peeps ~ Peg

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