Sunday, May 24, 2020

Get Away to Fortune Bay - by Judith Hudson

This year, as summer rolls in, many of us are feeling a little stuck at home. But you can always escape into a good book. Or escape to Fortune Bay.

I wrote Lake of Dreams, a prequel to the Fortune Bay series, to give away as my gift to readers for joining my Readers Group. I imagined it as a fun little book – could see Colleen dancing on the dock in her cowboy boots – and was surprised at the personal, poignant themes that emerged as I wrote.

I was lucky enough to spend many holidays at my husband’s family cottage  in Muskoka, in rugged, rocky, northern Ontario. From the stories I heard, he and his four brothers and sisters ran wild there for two months every summer throughout their childhood and teens. Later, our own children got to experience the fishing and boating too for a few weeks every summer.

This was our cottage for many years, my inspiration for Alex Porter’s cottage on Majestic Lake.

On the long weekend in the middle of the summer, the whole active, extended family would meet there for the annual regatta. (Watch for the regatta to show up in one of the Fortune Bay books.) The cottage would groan, but accepted us all, squeezing us into the small sleeping cabins scattered in the forest around the central cabin. Our favourite place to congregate was in the Muskoka room, a screened-in porch that was a must at dusk to hold back the mosquitoes.

Clipped from an old cottage movie – it could be Alex’s Queen of the Lake.

My father-in-law, the patriarch of the family, was a lawyer and eventually a judge, but up at the lake he was more like Alex’s grandfather than his lawyer father. There was a dock with a boathouse and a couple of boats, including canoes hung in slings against the far wall and a rowboat that we used daily. Early morning paddles on lake to the sound of loons were particularly magical.

My cabin at Fortune Bay is an amalgam of one of the cottages in the compound (the one with the washroom outside at the end of the porch), a cute white cottage down the lake that always seemed empty, and a cabin on the lake here on Vancouver Island. Like everything else I write, there is a touchstone of truth, although it is usually unrecognizable by the time it hits the page.

Eventually my in-laws could no longer manage the hill, and when the grandfather died, we were not as lucky as Alex and were not able to keep the cottage. A few years later I wrote Lake of Dreams, and didn't realize until later how many fond memories of summers on that Ontario lake had made it into the book. And, indeed, into all of the Fortune Bay books.

Learn more about Lake of Dreams, and how you can get it free, by clicking here

Is there a place that is near and dear to your heart, where you can get away from your regular life and kick back? Or a place you remember where you’d love to return? I’d love to hear about it in the comments.

Judith Hudson

Don't forget to enter the monthly rafflecopter giveaway. Only a few days left to get in on a chance for one of three  Amazon Gift Cards. To enter click on the link above, then scroll down to find my name on an entry.

Saturday, May 23, 2020

Hot and Snowy with a Chance of Tadpoles by Kathryn Hills #RomanceGems

Hard to believe it’s Memorial Day Weekend—the unofficial kickoff to summer in the USA. Yet, recently we had snow. That’s New England for you! When I first moved here many years ago, someone shared the adage… “If you don’t like the weather just wait a minute.” And, it’s true. Spring is particularly riotous with bone-chilling mornings and hot summer-like afternoons. In between it is anyone’s guess what you will get. Super-hard to dress in the old days when I worked in a big office and not at home. These days, I just pour the coffee and shake my head at what is going on outside the window.

Being home more than ever in 2020, Mr. H and I were busy prepping gardens early, only to have recurring bouts of frost, snow, and heavy rain. Even tornado warnings and hail last week. Jeez. Yet, I’m always excited when typical springtime weather rolls around. I think trees in New England—and other places with changing seasons—work extra hard at looking beautiful. There were two sunny days when the maples and red oaks on our wooded property were awash with pink and light green budding leaves. Gorgeous against a clear blue sky! Cool breezes, tiny wildflowers, and no bugs yet… Ahh…

All this “blooming” in May is not without setbacks. Achoo! If you are like me, pretty blossoms make your eyes itch, and you sneeze. Then, there are the creatures. With three crazy dogs (all hound breeds – what was I thinking?!!) I am constantly running interference for chipmunks and squirrels. Sleigh bells on our doors, once used for puppy training, now serve as warnings to any rodent in the yard. LOOK OUT, INCOMING! Jeez again.

There was that one year though...when a new sound entered the yard. A chirping sound, almost tropical. “Hmm… Do you know what that is, Mr. H?” “Nope,” the man of few words said and kept chopping wood. That was the same year the pump for our above ground pool died, and we had to delay opening until way into June. By then, that weird chirping sound had hatched THOUSANDS of tadpoles in the water on the cover of our pool. I discovered them, hiding beneath leaves in the murky mess, on the day we were all set to open. I did not say “Jeez” that day. Think more colorful and cover your kid’s ears.

You see, we Hills are nature lovers, and the last thing we were going to do was kill thousands of baby frogs so we could swim for a few short summer weeks. But what the heck do you do with them…growing in hundreds of gallons of slimy pool cover water?

We tried catching them. There were too many. Syphoning came next, and it worked a bit. Now, we had a smaller puddle of wigglers. These attempts played out over a very long week. Of course, we wanted to save them. Our daughter wanted to raise them. I said, “NO!”

Ten large Home Depot construction buckets with lids later, two pole nets, new hoses, and we captured oodles of tadpoles in various stages of development. I asked a neighbor with a pond if she would take them, but she cringed. She had her own issues with the little green guys. My critique partner laughed, and laughed, and wanted pictures. No help there. Friends and family just shook their heads, saying, “Only you.”

What to do with ten big buckets of tadpoles? We did what any good nature-lovers would. We packed the little suckers in the car and drove them north to a beautiful lake. Not just any lake. One with somewhat easy access from a hidden spot off a dirt road. Because you can’t just drive up to someone’s lakefront home and ask if they’ll adopt your thousands of tadpoles. At least, I don’t think so. 😊

So, there ya have it. Another crazy story from Camp Hills. We’re magnets for weird.

Update: I was outside the other day and heard “the chirp”. OMG! Not again! “Honey… Guess what we’re doing this holiday weekend. Opening the pool even if it snows again.”

If you enjoy my quirky family stories, then you'll love how I incorporate family antics into my books. You can find them HERE.

Thanks for reading!

~ Kathryn

Don't miss out on our May Giveaway!

Visit HERE for details OR go directly to our Rafflecopter

May Prizes

1st Prize: $20.00 Amazon Gift Card
2nd Prize: $15.00 Amazon Gift Card
3rd Prize: $10.00 Amazon Gift Card

Friday, May 22, 2020

HAPPY LONG WEEKEND! by Kathleen Lawless @kathleen lawless #romancegems

Long weekends are something most of us look forward to, whether we’re working, in school or retired.  In Canada, we had our holiday Monday earlier this week, while Memorial Day in the US and a bank holiday in the UK are on the horizon. 

This year, my brothers and sister and I celebrated by springing Dad from the retirement residence where he’s been in lockdown for over two months.  For the first time this year, all four of us were together for a visit with him, social distanced of course, outside in our lovely gazebo.  The little things we used to take for granted are slowly coming back.

To help kick off the holiday celebration this weekend, my boxed set of 4 award-winning historical romances, WIDOWS, BABIES, AND BRIDES, is on sale for only .99 cents, a saving of $9.  Grab yours here for a leisurely binge read.

Do you have plans for the long weekend? Or have you already enjoyed your extra day off where you are?  I'd love to hear which countries have their holiday at different times.

Wherever you're reading this, I hope you’re at least entering our Rafflecopter draw to win one of our Amazon gift cards.  

No matter what you get up to, be sure to have a happy, safe and healthy weekend. 

Wednesday, May 20, 2020


By Caroline Clemmons

Our theme this month at Romance Gems is Love in Bloom. I hope love is blooming at your home along with whatever flowers you’ve planted. Our recent three-inch rain appears to have made our plants happy. I’m not sure if the seeds we planted floated away or were encouraged to sprout. Time will tell.

Why did I plant seeds instead of bedding plants? I wanted to emulate my maternal grandmother, who planted seeds each year. And, since Mother’s Day occurs in May, today I want to honor my maternal grandmother, Frances Josephine Gamble.

Caroline Phlox

Grandmother loved her flowers. For most of my childhood she lived where water was scarce. Summer always brought water rationing so she could only water her vegetable garden regularly. Flowers were allowed scarce amounts of water once weekly.

Grandmother combated this by planting flowers that could thrive on little water. Those I remember were a giant lantana, iris, giant pink Carolina phlox, and purple and white salvia. Most prevalent were her petunias. I read somewhere that we can’t recall a smell but that’s not true. I can call up the sweet smell of petunias from my grandmother’s yard.

Frances Josephine Gamble Phifer Reynolds

She was sixty-nine when this photo was taken. The cousin to whom I’m closest agreed that this is our favorite photo of our grandmother. This is how I remember her, even though she lived to be ninety-one.

Perhaps her love for her flowers caused them to thrive in spite of drought. Although this is not the “love in bloom” associated with romance novels, Grandmother proved love creates blooms. In the same way, she loved her family. Somehow, she made each of us grandchildren feel as if we were her favorite. Going to visit her was always a treat.

Even before her father died when she was ten she had a difficult life. She outlived two husbands and two of her children, the first of whom died a few days old of respiratory failure and the second who died of consumption as a young mother. As long as I can remember, Grandmother looked ancient but didn’t change much in appearance during my lifetime. One reason is probably that when I was six, she moved from the farm into town and her life got a lot easier.

If you're looking for something cheerful to read, why not try MAIL-ORDER BEATRICE, one of the Widows, Brides, and Secret Babies Series of sweet historical western romances. You'll fall in love with Beatrice and Tate while they fall in love. Beatrice will only by pushed so far and then, watch out!

Here's the blurb:

Beatrice “Attie” Kendall has to escape from home with her six-week-old son. With the help of her kind brother, she goes to Atlanta where she consults a matchmaker. After the hard life Attie’s been dealt for her twenty years, she’ll finally have a good home with nice people and a friend nearby.  In fact, her husband and their home seem too good to be true. Does she dare trust that her life has really changed?

Tate Merritt isn’t ready to get married but he gives in to his grandfather’s coercing. Grandpa raised him and Tate tries to please the older man. Tate doesn’t know what to think about this mail-order bride. She isn’t at all the wife he imagined—plus, she showed up with a baby! The child’s a cute little thing but Tate isn’t sure how he feels about her surprising him. How can he trust a woman whose story keeps changing?

Life presents obstacles to further complicate Attie and Tate’s marriage. They’ll have to work together to solve their problems and protect their family.  Can they trust one another enough to make this marriage work?

The Universal Amazon Link is MAIL-ORDER BEATRICE is available in e-book and print and is FREE in KU.

I hope this month has brought you love and flowers in bloom. Don’t forget to sign up for our LOVE IN BLOOM Rafflecopter.

  a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

The Bloom of Love @LucindaRace #Romancegems

I’ve been mulling over this month’s blog post since the moment our theme was announced. Tree, shrubs and flowers are in bloom around my home and so are my allergies. We have been dealing in our own ways, with the world around us – but the one constant in all our lives is love.

 Starting from when we’re born our lives are filled with love from our family. We continue to discover the wonder of it again and again. With the first blush of romantic love we have a sense that we can conquer the world. The rush of emotion you feel when you meet your partner, the instant bond when you hold your child in your arms and that moment your fur-baby lavishes you with affection. In those first heady moments we know in our hearts there isn’t an obstacle to large we can’t overcome.

 Love gives us strength to face whatever lays ahead of us. We draw strength from it. I am a romantic at heart on all levels. Love gives me strength. I have faith I will never run out of love, it is like the magic well, the more I give the more I have to give. Love is a like my favorite rose, ever blooming in my heart. My hope for you is to take stock and discover that romance and love are in full bloom all around you.

 On May 7,  I released my 11th book, The Matchmaker and The Marine. Here is the opening scene.

Melinda flipped her planner shut after drawing a heart next to the two names on the page on the notepaper. Another success. The strains of the “Wedding March” played by a string quartet filled the small flower-filled chapel. Guests rose from their seats to watch the petite bride glide down the aisle toward her handsome groom. Across the aisle in a pew, a tall, well-built man with blonde hair cropped military style and molten brown eyes locked on hers. He gave Melinda a half nod before his gaze followed the bride.

The pastor’s deep voice filled the room as he asked everyone to take their seats. He then turned to the couple to perform the ceremony.  After the newly married couple kissed, Melinda followed other guests in the receiving line to the bride and groom.

She beamed. “Stacey and Will, it was a beautiful ceremony.” Stacey was radiant. Will’s arm was curled around his new wife, holding her close to his side. “Melinda, this day wouldn’t have been possible without you.” Stacey lovingly gazed at Will. “Thank you for introducing us.”

 Melinda kissed her cheek. “It was my pleasure.” Will lifted Stacey’s hand to his lips, grazing her ring finger. “I will tell all my single friends if they’re looking for love to give you a call.” His eyes twinkled. “You certainly have a knack for matchmaking.”

 “You two made my job easy.” She looked over her shoulder. “You have more guests to greet, but I’ll see you during the reception.”

 She strolled down the brick walkway to her car, content to see the love between Stacey and Will. Just as it was meant to be. After making the short drive to the country club, Melinda parked in the crowded lot.

As she crossed the parking area to the reception hall she daydreamed of how nice it would be to take off her pumps and walk barefoot. She reached for the brass knob on the carved wood door. Before she could turn the knob, it burst open. She took a step back. Her heel caught a crack in the stone step. She began to fall backward when strong hands caught her and held on tight.

 A deep voice next to her ear said, “It’s okay, I’ve got you.” Melinda looked up into warm brown eyes. It was the man from the chapel.

 “Um, thank you.” She smoothed her hand over her simple navy-blue dress and then pushed a curl behind her ear. “I’m not sure what happened.”

 “It looks like your heel got caught.” She gave him a small smile. “It’s a good thing you were there to catch me.”

 With a slight stiff bow, he said, “Adam Bell, at your service, ma’am.”

If you'd like to purchase this or another one of my  books here is a universal link .

I hope you enjoyed this excerpt.

 Until next time, I wish you love. Lucinda

Don't forget... Our May giveaway and theme are in full swing. First Prize: $20, Second Prize: $15, and Third Prize $10, all paid in Amazon Gift Cards.

Best of Luck to everyone in the drawing! Click: Rafflecopter giveaway to enter!

Monday, May 18, 2020

Not Blooming @karilemor #RomanceGems

Our theme this month is Romance in Bloom.  I know plenty about romance but the bloom part I’m a bit weak in.  My mom is one of those people who has a bona fide green thumb. Growing up, we had so many plants all over the house. We had five picture windows, and every one of them was filled to the brim with plants.

The kitchen window over the sink housed many of the cacti and smaller plants. We even had a Venus Fly Trap at one point. My sister and I used to love feeding it hamburg.  Watching the greedy little mouth close up was fascinating.

The most impressive window was the one in the living room. It was a huge bay window that went from floor to ceiling. The curtain over it closed in front and at times we used it as a stage. But first we’d need to move all the plants. They hung from the ceiling and graced small tables in front of it. I used to joke that we didn’t need a Christmas tree, we could just hang lights on all the plants.

So it was quite disappointing when my thumb turned out to be black. It caused plants to die. Even the ones where people said, “Oh, you can’t kill that plant. They’re so hearty.” It never failed that every year while I was teaching, I’d get a plant or two from a student or a group gift from the class. After telling everyone how much I loved it and thanking them, I’d give it the sign of the cross and last rites. Then I’d take it home to die.

The only hope these poor greens had was if my mother happened by before they were completely dead and took pity on it. My mom took in more foster plants from my house than anything else. And miraculously, she always managed to bring them back to life and make them healthier than they were before. And no matter how much she told me how to take care of them, mine always died. Good thing my kids yelled and cried if I didn’t feed them, otherwise I could have been in deep trouble.

For a few years I actually bought fake flowers and stuck them outside in the wall by the road. They looked amazing and people wondered how I kept them so fresh for so long. Yeah, most people caught on to my trick after a while. My kids teased me something awful, but none of them offered to plant and take care of something real so it didn’t bother me.  I’ve accepted the fact I am not a plant person.

But romance, now that’s something I know a little about. I started pilfering my mom’s Harlequins when I was about twelve. That started my deep love for anything romance.  Most of the books I read for pleasure are most definitely in the romance category. And not that many years ago, I tried my hand at writing romance. 

My newest series, the Storms of New England, now has three books out and book 4 should be making its arrival this summer.  The newest, Stolen Dreams, is a favorite since Alex Storm is very organized and OCD in many ways. So many of his quirks come from me (or a few of my children) and so he is familiar. Luckily Gina, whose grandmother lived next door, absolutely loves Alex’s quirks. It takes him a while to finally figure out that she’s the one he’s been looking for his whole life.
You can take a peek and read the first chapter at these retailers:

                   Amazon               Barnes & Noble          Books2Read

And don’t forget to enter this month’s Rafflecopter

Saturday, May 16, 2020

Laughter, the best medicine @ConstanceBretes #romancegems

Been thinking about humor. I’m sure we’ve all encountered humorous situations, embarrassment, and jokes. Some so funny you have to tell it, some so embarrassing you want to forget about it. Practical jokes – well, my husband loves to pull them on me. I have a great sense of humor, and will find things comical even in the most serious, subdued environment.

I have tried to input humor in some of my books, funny incidents that have happened to me. Let’s see if I can recall a few of them.

Jade’s Redemption: In this book, the incident at the creek really happened to me. 

Blue As Sapphires: The battle between Marissa and the squirrel was actually a battle between me and a squirrel.

I have one book that I haven’t edited yet to get it to my publisher called Moonlight Path. This particular book shares my escapades with golfing.

In my new release, Rekindled Christmas Mystery, there is a scene where the two sisters reminisce about Christmases past. The memories are from my childhood. NOTE:  This book was scheduled to be released in March. However, my publisher is fighting her battle with cancer, and understandably, fallen behind in getting books release. As soon as I know the release date, I will let you know.

During this pandemic, I have also gone through my own personal trial and I couldn’t have survived this if it wasn’t for my practical jokester and dry humor husband, and my ability to find humor in things.

So, if you’re having a particular difficult time because of this pandemic, grab some books and escape for a while. Look for humor and have a good belly laugh. Be thankful you’re alive and later on, you’ll be able to share with others the fact you survived the 2020 Covid19 pandemic.

You know what would be fun too, is if you won one of these prizes from the Romance Gems May in Bloom rafflecopter. So, get your name in the drawing and look for your name to be drawn as a winner!

Friday, May 15, 2020

Blooming Sweet by @BonnieEdwards #RomanceGems

Romance in Bloom is our theme this month, but we've been hearing about our lives in isolation as well. And why shouldn't we? The world is different from a couple of months ago. We're different. Some of us are coping better than others.

I think writers are coping well. Some of us are more productive because the day job is gone or happening remotely from home. Some of us are not writing at all because of the stress surrounding the changes we've seen and worry over the changes still to come. That does not mean they aren't thinking about their works-in-progress in the back corners of their minds. When their personal stress eases, the stories will flow again and they'll be fired up by all the pent-up ideas and creative energy.

I wondered until yesterday what I had to share here about my writing life and how I cope on a daily basis. I bake!

This is Chocolate Meringue Pie and my husband requested it. On other days I've baked butterscotch pie. But I won't show a photo because it looked a lot like this one. I've had a lot of comments on my meringue. The secret? Whip it longer than you think. Meringue should be pretty firm to peak like this. I've also been baking biscuits to go with some meals like chili or homemade soup. Muffins are another favourite in our home. Baking relaxes me, so I'm using it to help me cope.

Another way I'm coping is reading romances I've read and loved before. They take me away from the headlines of the day. But every night I find myself marveling that the entire world is suffering through this pandemic. I think of the people we interacted with in Portugal: the waitstaff, the bartenders, the cashiers, the cleaning lady, other tourists and realize they, too, are dealing with fear, worry, loss of jobs, and the health of their families. So, too, are the airline personnel who got us home.

When I think of that wide scope, it makes me feel blessed to live where I do. We're allowed to walk park trails, and stroll the beaches because of our relatively small population. We're not crowded and social distancing is easier. We've seen and waved and chatted to more strangers in the past weeks than we ever have because everyone is out walking.

The book I'm working on now is titled Rayder's Appeal and it is connected loosely to my novella series, The Brantons. This one has a quest, or a mystery (but no one dies) and lost of romance. More than once, I was told that Rayder's Appeal had a heroine that wouldn't work. But then, that's my specialty and now I'm ready to unleash Ellie Macklin on the world. I'm in the midst of revisions now and don't have a cover to share, but I should next month so please stay tuned because Rayder's Appeal is coming soon!

Please don't forget to enter our Rafflecopter Giveaway for May! You'll love it.

May's Rafflecopter!

Until next time, keep reading and enjoying the health you have.

Bonnie Edwards

Thursday, May 14, 2020

Changing it Up: A New Routine by @MaddieJames

Big change happening!
Six months ago I made a decision. I gave notice to my boss that I was going to retire on April 15, 2020. Spring is a good time to retire, right? New beginnings, a fresh outlook on life, everything's comin' up roses, and so on....

Little did I know then that I would be retiring in the midst of a pandemic.

I mean, who does that? Who chooses to retire at a time when the economy is tanking, and our health care system is blowing up?

Well, I did. 

I didn't have a choice, really, because once the retirement train was on the track, there was no stopping it from rolling along. Social Security was in motion and I'd started the process of drawing down my retirement funds from work—but then I halted that train car when the stock market plunged. I’m still waiting for those funds to recover. So be it.

I recall a conversation with the retirement rep. He asked: What sources of funds did I have available besides my retirement funds? My response was this: savings, social security, and a side-hustle—the triple S.
Savings, social security, and a side-hustle?

So, this is me, one month after R-Day, waiting on Social Security to kick in, eye-balling my savings, and side-hustling the writing under a “Stay Safe at Home” order from the state. 

While all this could have affected my writing, it hasn't. In fact, I’ve been more productive in the past month than I’ve been for some time.

I’m finding my retirement writing niche. We’ve all heard it—writing is built from routine and habit. I believe these two things are basic for most successful writers. You can create and improve craft, prose, narrative, skill, style, and voice only by writing consistently, daily, and routinely. The more we write, the better we get. The more we write, the book gets written. Routine is essential.

For the past two years, I’ve worked remotely for the day job. I moved back to my hometown in late 2017 to better support my father after my mother passed. I was sort of shocked that my work-from-home request was granted back then—but it was. So, working from home became my norm; I had some firm habits in place. And, pandemic be damned, I was already used to being “in the house” all day. 

I remember posting on Facebook announcing my pending retirement. An author acquaintance made a comment about getting a good routine established early and sticking with it, if I wanted to get any writing done. My thought at the time was: Pish. I already have that nailed. And I did. While working at home, I was up no later than 6 a.m. I wrote fiction from the time the coffee hit my cup until approximately 9 a.m., when I would switch gears to the day job. I knew I would continue writing in the mornings, so hey, I got this, I told myself. 

Then I remembered another author friend who retired a couple of years ago. She said something like, “I can’t get motivated. All this time on my hands, you'd think I would get so much done. But I can't get motivated.”

Coffee is part of my routine!
Ack! So advice heeded. Day job gone now, I needed to establish a durable and reliable writing routine ASAP. (Admittedly, I did take a few days after April 15 just to soak up the notion of not having to go to work after forty years, and that was nice, but I did not let it linger...)

It has been a month now. I’ve finished a novella, and just finished a novel—both of which were started before retirement, I confess. But hey, the writing is happening, and things are getting done. I’m hoping I don’t panic my editor....

Side note: Want to read the first three chapters of that novel for free? Go HERE! (Grab your Sampler of The Cowboy's Secret Baby. Coming Soon!

How am I doing it? Well, for one, I am not burning myself out writing (been there, done that, drank that cool aid). I want to be productive with my writing, but I also have books to market, kitchen cabinets to paint, garden to plant, house to keep, yard to mow, father to look after, and once this pandemic thing lets up, people and places to see. Bottom line, I want to enjoy my retirement, and don’t want to be tied to my laptop—but I do want to be productive every day and be more consistent in getting new writing projects out there and into the marketplace. (You know, the side-hustle income thing...)

So this is what I discovered: I feel accomplished and happy if I write one full scene a day. That’s it. The next day, I edit and polish that scene, then I write the next one. And so on. Simple plan.

I generally write three scenes per chapter. By writing a scene from beginning to end, I feel a sense of closure for that piece of the work. Three scenes in 3 days means 2 chapters a week. I can live with that. If I write that scene first thing in the morning—when my brain is fresh and unencumbered with external thought—then I don’t have that oh-I-haven’t-written-yet guilt hanging over me the rest of the day. I get up, get writing, finish the scene, and done! On to the garden I go... Happy retired camper here.

And guess what? I even did math with this theory in mind. Here goes:
  • If I write a scene a day for 6 days of the week (giving myself a free day for flexibility)—given 52 weeks in a year—that’s 312 scenes in a year.
  • Let’s say I average 20 chapters a book—3 scenes per chapter—that’s 60 scenes.
  • Divide those 60 scenes into 312, and I will produce 5.2 twenty-chapter books a year. (Mileage may vary per project; novellas would produce more final products, of course!).
Whoa! Sometimes math is a good thing! I haven’t written 5 books in a year for... um, years. I can do this! My current plan, starting June 1, is to release 3 new projects by end of year. Hold me accountable, please? Thank you.

So this, my friends, is my retirement motivation. Getting 5 projects out there a year is my end game, and hopefully can supplement that plunging retirement fund. One scene a day is enough to keep me rolling and moving forward. It’s not enough to burn me out. I’m still up by no later than 7 a.m. these days. My scene is generally finished by eleven, way before lunch. The remainder of my day is open for other book work, marketing, and some life things, too.

Like those kitchen cabinets.

Life rolls on, even if you retire during a pandemic.


Maddie James writes to silence the people in her head—if only they wouldn’t all talk at once! 

Whether writing traditional contemporary romance or building paranormal worlds, bestselling romance author, Maddie James, pens stories that frequently cross a variety of romantic sub-genres. Sweet or spicy, suspense or comedy, western or time-travel, her heroes and heroines are always chasing one thing—the happily-ever-after. 

Affaire de Coeur says, “James shows a special talent for traditional romance,” and RT Book Reviews claims, “James deftly combines romance and suspense, so hop on for an exhilarating ride.” Visit her at

Her books are available at ALL RETAILERS and she also sells direct from her own online bookstore, SAND DUNE BOOKS (which is where you can find the deals and discounts!)


REMINDER: Don't forget this month's Gems Rafflecopter Giveaway!  a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Romance in Bloom—The Art of Perfuming by Connie Vines

Fragrance has the ability to transform your entire mood.
And when the one you want to conjure up is romance, a whiff of the right scent get you there faster than a binge-session of Nicholas Sparks movies. From spicy, sensual accords to rose-based floral diaries, I’ve updated rounded 5 of the best fragrances to wear this to Announce Spring—or whenever you want feel like you're living in a fairy-tale!

As many of my readers know, I was a fragrance consultant at a Perfumery for several years.  I love to share my acquired ‘secrets’ in blog posts and novels. Perfumes, like wines are categories by notes.
 *Remember, perfumes are a personal preference, and all fragrances lingering scent (bottom note) vary by a person’s PH Level.

Now let the fun begin!

1. Ralph Lauren's ROMANCE
Designed to hit all the feelings that are associated with falling in deep L-O-V-E, a spritz of this classic and light romantic fragrance treats you to notes like white violet, patchouli, musk, rose, and marigold.

2. Tom Ford’s infamous BLACK ORCHID Fragrance has become something of a cult icon in the beauty industry.

Not only is it recognizable from just one spritz, but it's also one of the compliment-inducing smells I've ever come across. Smells like: Warm incense spices, creamy vanilla, and heady patchouli.
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3.  Lancôme's TRESOR
The diamond-shaped bottle is one of the most popular fragrances out there. The brand evoked the radiance and warmth of love using floral and fruity notes like rose, lilac, peach, and apricot.

4.  YSL’s BLACK OPIUM (one of my personal favorites) Smells like: Initially sweet with punchy notes of vanilla and coffee, but dries down to a musky white floral base.

The creamy notes of coffee and vanilla give a non-sickly sweetness that develops into a dry white floral scent, after which you get the base notes of musk and patchouli. It's unique and oh-so moreish, this one will 100% become the most-reached-for in your perfume collection.

5. Jo Malone London's LIME BASIL & MANDARIN COLOGNE. Smells like: Long summer days.

This fresh and zesty scent will have you dreaming of warm summer days with every spritz. Juicy notes of lime and mandarin are balanced with earthy basil and white thyme.

The Romance Gems members love their gardens, as do many of our readers!

French perfume - the fragrances of France

While my garden is no longer produces the lush harvest of fruits and vegetables of my two son’s elementary school years.  I still maintain a PERFUMED GARDEN.

My Perfumed Garden is small because scent can be overwhelming—especially strong scents. I try to intersperse my fragrant garden plants with scentless plants that complement their appearance and by time.  Lilacs have a strong scent, but only in late spring. Jasmine is a vine, and therefore, a plant I utilize where ever possible. And, of course roses and herbs.

The garden brings peace to my life, nourishes my soul and inspires my creative spirit.

How do I keep the Romance in Bloom in my stories?

My August 2020 release from BWL Publishing Inc.

Gumbo Ya Ya—an Anthology for Women who like Cajun Romance, features Persia, a New Orleans perfumer, and Cooper T. a breeder of the Catahoula Leopard Dog and Westminster Dog Show favorite handler in “The Love Potion”.

You will discover that the art of perfuming creates complications for this no-longer-together-couple.  But love is and a happily-ever-after is definitely in the air!

August 2020

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