Sunday, January 31, 2021

What If Something Happens... by Liz Flaherty #RomanceGems

I'm sitting here at my desk on January 30. Watching the clock. Because my phone says that in 15 minutes, snow flurries will start. And over the course of the next day or two, something like 10 inches of snow should arrive. Since we are retired and since we have plenty of milk, bread, coffee, and toilet paper, I'm not worried a lot about it. My husband's not looking forward to dragging out the snow blower, for which I don't blame him.

And there's always this little itch at the back of my mind that I can't reach to scratch.

What if something happens?

We are what is euphemistically referred to as elderly, so it's always a bit of a concern, I guess, although I doubt we worry as much about it as our kids do. We have lived long and prospered, not to mention we've loved and laughed a lot. And we've been happy. 

But that's not even why I brought that up. I brought it up because What if something happens? is the beginning of every story we tell. The only advice about writing I ever give with any surety is to start the story when something changes. 

When something happens.

This seems...no, it is a simple concept. It's also one I have some trouble with. Because I like introspection. I like dialog. I love humor. I tolerate conflict. I can go on for days writing those things, and sometimes that's exactly what I do. Of course, all the time I'm writing this lovely prose, nothing is happening in the story.

The word for it in publishing is "pacing." I know this because it's been mentioned to me so many times. Usually, the word "slow" is in there somewhere, too. 

I know I'm largely preaching to the choir here, but the lesson is a good one. I hope I learn from it by writing this. Now, snow flurries are supposed to have already started. They have not, but one of the cats is meowing worriedly, and bare branches are moving fretfully against a moody sky. 

Something is going to happen.

***

The Healing Summer is one of my favorites of my own stories. I hope you give it a try, and that you like it, too.

When Steven Elliott accidentally rides his bike into Carol Whitney's car at the cemetery, the summer takes on new and exciting possibilities. Long friendship wends its way into something deeper when their hearts get involved. Feelings neither of them had expected to experience again enrich their days and nights. But what happens when the long summer ends? When Carol wants a family and commitment and a future, Steven isn't so sure. He's had his heart broken before-can he risk it again?



Friday, January 29, 2021

What's Next by Nora LeDuc

 

Picture from Unsplash 

by Nora LeDuc


A snowy day energizes us with clean, fresh snow. We often need to store up this power because this month in offices everywhere, employees sit down with a supervisor to appraise their performance. January is Review Time. I remember each winter, having to write up how I had accomplished my annual goals and creating new ones before my meeting with my principal. I felt like a fortuneteller looking into her crystal ball as I typed my upcoming plans. When the moment arrived to discuss them with my boss, I'd be sweating it. He'd go over last year's targets with my outcomes. Then he'd examine my proposed undertakings. Thankfully, things went smoothly. Occasionally, he'd tell me about a new district effort and would add that to my agenda. I was always relieved when the intense fifteen minutes had ended.


Truthfully, I'm not a person who sets up long-term goals. Ask me what I'll get done this morning or this week, and I'll have answers. Ask me what I'll do in 12 months, and I have no idea. But since it's a New Year, I will look back and reflect on my writing for 2020, my own review. And I'm surprised. 



I began to use my inactive Twitter account. (#usinghashtagshelps) I learned about graphics and their importance in promos. For a while I'd wanted to write a short story, but I had pushed the idea to the bottom of my list. Well, last summer, I wrote one titled Beach Kisses & Sunset Wishes It was included in a box set with a group of fabulous authors. Just reading the names listed in the anthology was thrilling. And most exciting was the news I became a Best Selling Author on Amazon!! I also started a new series Love & Lies in Paradise and released book one. I'm currently working on the second. My first holiday title was published. And best of all, I received several personal messages from readers who loved it. Many said the story made them happy when they were feeling low. Thank you for telling me! 

So may your yearly or daily plans bring you happiness, and may you discover wonderful stories in 2021 that touch your heart and send it soaring. 

PS Let me know if you're a long-term goal person or short. You might give me some tips.

πŸ’— Nora

Best Selling Author on Amazon

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Thursday, January 28, 2021

My Top 5 Favorite TV Friendships by @KaraONealAuthor #RomanceGems

THE RANGER'S VOW will be up for pre-order soon, and while I have many things I love about this story:

1) A bad-boy Texas Ranger

2) A feisty heroine who can pick locks

3) A hero who vows never to fall in love and a heroine who declares she will never marry

4) And....a garter thief

One of the best aspects of this book are the friendships between Sherry -- she's the spunky heroine who picks locks -- and her four sisters. They are Sherry's voices of reason, her champions, her secret-keepers. They hold Sherry accountable, but also would walk through fire for her, even if she was wrong.

I loved writing the scenes Sherry had with her sisters. And it got me to thinking about other friendships. Now I've already counted down my favorite book friendships, so I thought I'd share those from TV. Please tell me yours! 

1) Dorothy and Sophia from The Golden Girls. You gotta love how honest they are with each other.

2) Deputy Chief Brenda Lee Johnson and Sergeant David Gabriel from The Closer. He stands by her when no one else would, and she does everything she can to protect him, as well.

3) Joey and Chandler from Friends. They are hilarious and so sweet with each other.

4) Captain Killian "Hook" Jones and Princess Sheriff Emma Swan from Once Upon A Time. They made each other better and never gave up on each other even though they faced extremely tough situations -- including death.

5) Jim Halpert and Dwight Schrute from The Office. It's wonderful to watch these guys go from enemies to friends. 

Friendship is so important. And you don't need many. Just one that is honest. A person who will love you no matter what, who will tell you when you have spinach in your teeth and defend you even when they know you're wrong. And then they tell you that you're wrong in private.

THE RANGER'S VOW is a romance that gives you that closeness, that honesty. I adore Sherry and her four sisters. They are a noisy mass of risk-takers and lovers, seamstresses and party-planners. And here's a little snippet:

Sherry held onto the footboard while Mary pulled her corset tight. “We have to convince Julia to go,” Sherry muttered. “She’ll just sit in y’all’s room weeping over Alex. We have to help her.”

“Her loyal heart won’t let him go despite his four month absence and his non-existent responses to her letters.” Mary sighed as she tied the strings. “I don’t know what else we can say to her.”

While Sherry checked her reflection in the mirror, she smoothed down her petticoat. “Tonight is just what she needs. Andrew and Ben will make sure she has a good time.”

Mary cocked her head, her nut brown, corkscrew curls swaying with the motion. “That’s not gonna help. Andrew and Ben are Alex’s cousins. They’ll only remind her of him.”

Sherry checked her soft bun with its artfully escaping tendrils then reached for her dress of lavender muslin. “But they’ve already agreed to help.”

“You asked?”

“They offered." Sherry slipped into her dress. "No one can help seeing her sad face and moping attitude.” She glanced toward the door, her mind’s eye picturing the room across the hall, and wondered if Amanda had had any luck talking Julia into getting dressed.

“And we need to brighten up because our sadness is only going to make her feel worse,” Mary added.

Sherry nodded in agreement. “You’re right. Let’s go see her.”

She followed Mary out of the room and across the wood-floored corridor covered with a green and gold carpet runner to the room Mary shared with Julia. When they were inside, they gasped.

“Oh, Julia!” Mary exclaimed.

“You’re going?” Sherry asked in relief and delight as she hurried forward to take her sister’s hands.

Julia pressed her lips together, her blue eyes shining with gratefulness beneath her becoming, red bangs. She swept her gaze over her olive-colored muslin dress. “I can’t keep feeling sorry for myself. It’s only going to wear down my sweet sisters, and I can’t have that.”

Sherry squeezed Julia’s hands then brought them to her chest. “We’ll make sure you have fun tonight.”

Julia shook her head. “I appreciate that, but I’ll manage on my own. I won’t trespass on my sisters’ good natures anymore.”

Sherry reached up and smoothed Julia’s bangs. “Well, we won’t be far, and Andrew and Ben plan on twirling you to every song.”

Julia forced a smile. “I’m glad I’m wearing my most comfortable dancing slippers.”

THE RANGER'S VOW

Sherry Forrester has her life just as she wants it. No attachments. No pressure from her parents to marry. A little bit of money and the freedom to be the lady she desires. When a stranger rolls into town, mysterious and gorgeous, her interest is piqued. Sherry swore she wouldn't give away her heart, but she longs for one night of passion, and the newcomer is perfectly capable of supplying that.

Texas Ranger Luke "Rip" Calhoun is hoping for a few diverting weeks in Pike’s Run. Along with promising to help the local sheriff catch a wily garter thief, he looks for challenging card games, good whiskey and a willing woman. When Sherry Forrester catches his eye—who wouldn't want her after stumbling upon her skinny dipping?—he does the hardest thing ever and waits for her to choose him to warm her sheets for a night. And only one night. For Luke made a long-ago vow never to let love ensnare him.

But what neither plans on is the hand of fate changing their paths…


Cowboys, lawmen, and soldiers, oh my! You can enjoy several other books in the Texas Brides of Pike's Run Series! Click HERE to see the rest!



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Tuesday, January 26, 2021

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: How did you decide to write romance books?

Even a quick visit to Romance Gems shows readers that our authors write many different things, yet we are ALL dedicated to the romance genre. As different as our books are, I’m wondering if how we came to WRITE romance is different too. Let’s find out!

“I can’t point to any one moment that pointed me to write romance. I always liked writing, majored in journalism and English, and wrote for newspapers for many years. An avid reader, I started many books that I never finished. When I had my second child at age 25, I started writing my first completed manuscript, a romantic suspense. I wrote off and on until I hit 40—and got really serious. My stories are inspired by movies and books I love, and all of them revolve around a love story. It’s natural that I write romance. Cinderella was my favorite children’s book.” ~ Cheryl Bolen

“I was 11 years old when I read Pride and Prejudice for the first time. Even though some of the 18th century prose was confusing to 20th century me, I wished one day to be able to write a book with such deep emotion, such engaging conflict, and with a wonderful uplifting ending for all. Flash forward 44 years, a lifetime of living, and after reading every Nora Roberts book on the market, and I did just that. Even as a child I knew that everyone deserved their own happily ever after. And now I write them!” ~ Peggy Jaeger

Photo Credit: Liz Flaherty
“I thought about this question, wrote something, then deleted it and wrote something else. And that's how I started writing romance. It was never a conscious decision. It was what I read from seventh grade on up, thanks to Betty Cavanna and Rosamund du Jardin and Janet Lambert, among others. It's where I learned things, found peace, and was never lonely. It is the happiest genre I know, and when you add the Ever After on there--after writing and deleting, writing and deleting, that makes it about perfect.” ~ Liz Flaherty 

“When I started reading romance, my friends would tell me the stories weren’t real. I learned, quickly, that that statement was made out of sadness and pain. They didn’t want to believe in the love that romances paint, because they were either afraid to wait for it, or had been hurt deeply. And that broke my heart. It still does. Romances—paranormals, suspense, historical, sci-fi, etc.—are beautiful tales of courage, hope and triumph. They’ve taught me that true love, good love, is possible. And I want to fill the world with that. Always. And that’s why I write romance.” ~ Kara O’Neal

“All through my formative years I pretty much read a book every day, and my preferred genre was romance. If it was a mystery, I missed the romance. Even though they were young, I wanted more between Trixie Belden and Jim. As for Nancy Drew and her boyfriend Ned, was that guy slow or what? From there, I graduated to Mills and Boon where I discovered marriage of convenience had the most sizzle between the hero and heroine. I had no idea that was a trope, or one I would use in my very first published romance-I just knew I needed the happy ending. Naturally, the day I first sat down with a borrowed typewriter more years ago than I care to admit, that early effort was my first attempt at a romance. Good thing I had no idea how terrible it really was. Or the long, winding journey to publication.” ~ Kathleen Lawless

“I blame it on Rhett Butler. When he left Scarlett standing there at the bottom of the staircase and walked out of her life, my ten-year-old heart literally broke in two. I cried the entire way home from the movie theater, vowing that if I could change the end of the movie, I would. And I've been writing happily-ever-afters ever since. (well, maybe since my 30s....)” ~ Maddie James

“I started writing romance because I wanted to write what I knew. I didn't know anything about writing adventure or political intrigue. But I knew about love, marriage, and maintaining both. It was an easy choice because I didn't see any others. I still don't. Even though I write a bit of suspense, or paranormal, or humor or family saga type stories...they're all romance. They always will be because now, decades later, I’m able to write a full spectrum of relationships from grandparents down to children. I didn’t have that scope when I was younger. It feels great!” ~ Bonnie Edwards

“When I was 38, I almost died. Before returning to work, I attended a local “How to Write Romance” class given by Karen Robards. (She said something that sticks with me today - begin each novel with a life-threatening situation.) A former English teacher and a technical writer, I wanted to write a novel, but was afraid to try. After almost dying, I decided it was time to make my dream come true.” ~ Jan Scarbrough

“I only started writing about ten years ago. But, of course, the genre had to be romance. I've always been an avid reader, but my favorite kind of book by far is romance. I started borrowing my mom's Harlequins when I was 12, and the rest is history. But even before that, when reading Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew, and even Trixie Belden, I always loved the parts where we saw Frank with Callie, Joe with Iola, Nancy with Ned, and Trixie with Jim. When I began getting stories in my head that needed to be told, they all held romance.” ~ Kari Lemor

“I grew up on Mills and Boon books and loved them, but never imagined I would be a writer. Then a funny thing happened that jumpstarted my writing career. I was hired by Harlequin/Silhouette to read unsolicited manuscripts, otherwise known as tales from the slush pile. After literally reading thousands of manuscripts, I said “I can do this.” My first submission was turned down, because back then, athletes and entertainers didn’t sell. My second submission yielded a two book contract. Now here I am.” ~ Marcia King-Gamble

“I never set out to write a book. I was just a dedicated fan of reading romance since about the age of twelve or thirteen. But that all changed the day I visited a Victorian-era mansion on Cape Cod. A story sprang to life in my head, as if I’d been struck by lightning! Was I inspired by the ghosts that local legend says haunt the estate? Sounds like something that would happen to me. 😊 You can visit this beautiful place. Perhaps you'll be inspired too. I talk about it in my Author Notes.” ~ Kathryn Hills

As I expected, the authors that have shared here today all came to write romance in different ways. Yet we’re drawn to the hope and happiness the romance genre promises. Aren't we all?

Okay, now 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 ~

Monday, January 25, 2021

COVID Deprivations--and Writing During COVID by Cheryl Bolen

·         

πŸ’“ This has little to do with writing, but I just had to write about the thrill of getting the first dose of the vaccine against COVID-19. Soon, I’ll get the second dose of my Moderna, then wait two weeks, and I’ll finally be free to do the following things I’ve not done in eleven-and-a-half months:

        πŸ’“Get my hair colored and cut.

·           πŸ’“ Allow my maids back into my house.

·           πŸ’“ Shop! I can’t say how much I’ve missed shopping. I have not been in a department store, clothing store, or a thrift store. Yes, I love thrift stores. I’ve done curbside pickup for groceries for months, and am looking forward to going down every single aisle of the supermarket. Soon.

·           πŸ’“ Go back to my gym. I’d gone five or six days a week for 19 years.

·           πŸ’“ Get my teeth cleaned.

·           πŸ’“ Lunch with my author friends. I haven’t missed restaurants a lot because we don’t eat out much, but I do have a group of author friends I miss having lunch with and celebrating our birthdays together.

·           πŸ’“ Play Bunko again with my group that has been together for more than 30 years.

·           πŸ’“ And, last but not least, travel. Before COVID, my retired husband and I took 15 trips a year. In his first five years of retirement, we went to Europe eight times and to California twice, New York once, and have taken many, many trips to Las Vegas and Laughlin, Nevada.

This has nothing to do with writing, but I just had to write about the thrill of getting the first dose of the vaccine against COVID-19. Soon, I’ll get the second dose of my Moderna, then wait two weeks, and I’ll finally be free to do the following things I’ve not done in eleven-and-a-half months:

 


Cheryl's manuscript pages written in 2020

Counting on getting that second vaccine dose, we’ve already scheduled a trip to Las Vegas for two weeks afterward. We had previously scheduled a couple of more trips.

Not to completely dismiss writing, I will say the year of pandemic has been productive for me. I sit in front of my computer all day, every day. In 2020, I released a new novella, Countess by Christmas, in an anthology; released another novella, One Room at the Inn, that had been in another original anthology; released two novels, A Proposal of Marriage and Once Upon a Time in Bath, and completed another novel, Lady Mary’s Dangerous Encounter, which is the first in a new three-book contract. I’m 65 percent finished with the second book in the contract as I write this.

Since I’m not a super fast writer, this has been enormously productive for me.

As a parting shot, I want to explain the photo you see on this page. It’s a pile of typewritten pages from my 2020 writing. One reason I’m such a slow writer is that I print out, edit, and print out again. Over and over. At the completion of the book, I print the whole book out again and read and correct it one more time. Then I pay two editors to go over it. My pile includes edited copies.

My hope for each of you is that you all get the vaccine and that we can put COVID-19 in our rear-view mirror. 


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Sunday, January 24, 2021

About fathers and daughters - by Judith Hudson

 Hi Everyone,


A beach on the west coast of Vancouver Island.

My current work in progress (WIP in author speak), is tentatively titled, Secrets of Elk Horn Lodge, and this time is set on my own stomping ground of Vancouver Island. 

As usual when I’m starting a book, I have an idea of the plot, but  usually the story issue doesn't emerge until about the one third point. This time, I suddenly realized (hits herself on the forehead) that this is a father and daughter book. Actually, an absentee father and daughter book.

While researching the role fathers play in a young girl’s development, I was surprised to find that 30% of American women describe themselves as having an ‘absentee father’. Sometimes this is caused by divorce, death or because he actually left, but girls can feel abandoned even when their fathers work exceptionally long hours.

Regardless of the cause, these women can act in various ways when looking for the male attention they crave, and this can lead to lifelong self-damaging relationship patterns. Looking for love in all the wrong places, as the saying goes. Some choose men who neglect them the way their father did, and others react by not taking the chance of getting emotionally involved at all. 

Experts talk a lot about self-esteem and sense of self-worth being instigated by fathers telling (or not telling) their daughters how pretty they are. But it’s not always only about looks. The lack of self-esteem can spill over into all areas of their life, including careers and friendships.  

My dad and me.

I was lucky enough to have a father who cared, and I’d say was reasonably participatory in our upbringing, but although I think he was a sensitive person, he was not one to show his emotions. He was raised during the depression and had to go to work in the family painting business at thirteen. He worked hard and fought his way up to write for TV and be V.P. of a national advertising agency, but although he was a writer, he never had the freedom to try his hand at writing a book. I wish he’d lived long enough for us to get to know each other as two adults. 

I remember, though, as a child, how if I got 98% on a test, he would always say, “What happened to the other two percent?” We all knew it was a joke, but just once I wanted him to say, “good job”. 

I’ve retold this story often enough to know it made an impact on me, but it wasn't until I was researching this book and suddenly remembered how unreasonably upset I would get with my husband when, in the early days of our relationship, he would say I was pretty. My back would go up and I’d respond, “I don’t want you to think I’m pretty, I want you to think I’m smart.” Poor guy always looked surprised and confused, with good reason. But I didn’t make the connection between my response to my husband’s words and my father’s lack of acknowledgement of my achievements until just now while I was researching this book. 

It’s a small thing compared to many women’s father/daughter stories, but remembering this reinforced for me how important a father’s role is in our sense of self.

So, I got to thinking, what if you never knew your father, like the two sisters in my story? How would growing up with different mothers in very different circumstances affect their later lives? Now the story gets some meat. (Rubs her hands together gleefully.) This is where, as a writer, the fun begins.

How about you? Any father/daughter memories, good or bad, that really stick out, that you would like to share? Or maybe it’s the struggle you're having to give your own fatherless daughter a positive role model. Or are you, like me, one of the lucky one who remembers her father with love? Please let me know in the comments below.

Thanks for reading. Talk to you next month. 

Judy Hudson

 

P.S. If you want to learn more about the background to my stories, join my readers group, and receive the first book in the Fortune Bay series FREE.  Just click on the link below. 



 

Saturday, January 23, 2021

Wanderlust! It’s A Writer Thing by Kathryn Hills #RomanceGems


Okay, I admit it. I’ve had a serious case of Wanderlust. If you don’t know what that means, the definition, according to urbandictionary.com, is… “A very strong or irresistible impulse to travel.”

As a self-proclaimed road warrior, I miss what I fondly call “adventuring.” Visiting all sorts of historic and unique locations. Yet in the absence of safe travel during the pandemic, I’ve opted to journey in my writer’s mind. Once I’d come to grips with staying home, endless new possibilities opened up to me.

I’ve been told I’m a very descriptive writer. Something I consider a compliment, since I work hard at it, taking up extended residence in all my book settings. You see…that’s the other side of me. I’m a big-time homebody. Whether it’s a haunted mansion or a charming seaside B&B, I move in and make myself right at home. Sights, sounds, scents…Everything surrounds me in my imagination to become part of the story.

A reader once asked me how I do it, describe a fictitious place as if it’s real. “I can’t even tell you what’s happening around me most days. Forget about making something up,” she said with a chuckle.

I explained to her, “Trust me, that’s me too. Ask my family just how well I tune out the real world when a story is brewing in my head."

Yet sometimes, at special times, my writer’s brain takes over and slows me down. Bits and pieces from past experiences and memories of real places come together to create a setting. Sunlight becomes more than just nice weather. The fire in the hearth transforms into something other than warmth. Old wood makes sounds and has a different scent depending on the weather. (Have you ever been in a centuries-old building during a thunderstorm? I highly recommend it!) Fabric, and even a gust of wind, can hold a mesmerizing fragrance. Life becomes more than just day-to-day “stuff.” It transforms into an adventure as words create worlds for my characters. And THAT is very cool!

My mother—an avid reader when she was on this earth—is likely smiling at me now, considering my third-grade teacher told her I was “prone to daydreaming.” 😊

These musings inspire and excited me as I plan out my busy writing schedule for the upcoming year. A year that will likely mean MANY more hours in this old chair, surrounded by three sleepy dogs, and countless empty coffee mugs. As a teaser, I’ll share that there will be more haunted mansions to occupy my days and a return to both Sandpiper Cottage and Dickens. Plus, some special new destinations to explore. Forests and waves, townsfolk, and caves – you name it! I’m going places, and I’m thrilled! I’ll be adventuring again, though I don’t need to leave the warm spot of this worn leather seat.

Until we can ALL go adventuring together again, pick up a book and explore a new place. How about a pirate ship, or maybe the old west? A city on the moon or a quaint New England town? Take your pick! Or write your own journey. There is no limit to how far you can travel when your imagination is set free to wander.

Tell me… Do you have a favorite book setting? A fictitious place that sparks your sense of Wanderlust? Has an author written a setting so well that you feel like you were actually there? I'd LOVE to hear about it!

Thanks for reading. Until next time...Stay safe, be well, and have some fun adventuring. Even if it is from the comfort of your own home.

~ Kathryn

You can find my books HERE, or visit any major online book retailer.
 

Thursday, January 21, 2021

A Florida Winter Wonderland!

 



By: Marcia King-Gamble
www.lovemarcia.com

While most of us think of winter wonderlands as picturesque snowy scenes and couples ice skating, skiing, or seated around a blazing fireplace, I am here to tell you that Florida winter wonderlands are anything but cool.

Here, a wintery Florida day means temps in the seventies and should they nosedive into the sixties, out come the boots and mufflers. That is not a joke.

As a Northeast transplant, it was the most ridiculous sight I’d ever seen, but over the years I have gotten to view the cooler weather as an opportunity to break out the sweaters and boots, and wear something other than shorts.

So, what does a Florida winter wonderland mean to me? Well, it means a less expensive electric bill that’s for sure. It means tucking away sleeveless shirts and bringing out the ankle boots and earmuffs. Yes, earmuffs and even knee-high boots. It’s the time of year when small beach towns come alive and college students come from all over to seek out sun and fun. Spring Break, though good for the economy, makes the locals break out in hives.

Pre-Covid, winter meant packed restaurants and crowded beaches. Although, frankly, restaurants here are hardly empty and the beaches aren’t exactly bare.




What I miss most are the outdoor festivals, the traveling Broadway and craft shows happening during this cooler time of year, the excitement of planning big trips and small local ones. Since most of the world is back on lockdown, and the countries require a 14-day quarantine, there goes my vacation. 

Kicking it off on New Year’s Day, in my part of the state, is usually a huge art show. This is held in one of the swankier neighborhoods and people come from all over.  Also, the first Sunday of the month, on the waterfront, there is an outdoor jazz festival with musicians performing live on at least three stages.

What I really don’t miss is the traffic created by the “snowbirds,” the name given to those people who take flight south in winter, making traffic unbearable. Although, truthfully, traffic in general has increased since many have now migrated south permanently.



https://www.amazon.com/Golly-H-Caldwell-ebook/dp/B08R5GN5B8/ref

So, what am I doing to create my own wonderland this January? I am doing a lot of reading and writing, and I am reconnecting with old friends.  I am venturing out in the world again and patronizing small businesses that I’d hate to see go under.  I am investing in myself and totally focusing on my writing. I am upping my exercise routine, and although last year was not the best for many, I can honestly say  I used that  time to reflect. To sum up, I ended the year happy, content, and good with me.


s

Now I am determined to make this year my personal wonderland

and. I can confidently say bring on winter, summer, spring and fall!

2021 I got you!

 


About Marcia King-Gamble

Romance writer, Marcia King-Gamble originally hails from a sunny Caribbean island where the sky and ocean are the same mesmerizing shade of blue. This travel industry executive and current world traveler has spent most of life in the United States. A National Bestselling author, Marcia has penned over 34 books and 8 novellas. Her free time is spent at the gym, traveling to exotic locales, and caring for her animal family.

Visit Marcia at www.lovemarcia.com or “friend” her on Facebook: http://bit.ly/1MlnrIS

Be sure to join her mailing list.

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Introducing Amie Denman @JoanReeves #RomanceGems

I'm pleased to introduce the newest member of our Romance Gems family, Amie Denman.

Amie lives in a small town in Ohio with her husband and sons.

She was first published in 2011 and has written more than 40 romances since then. Amie writes for the Harlequin Heartwarming line and also self-publishes. 

Amie loves writing the Grand Hotel series with her sister and best friend May Williams.

When she's not reading or writing, she's outside walking or paddle-boarding on Lake Erie. 

As the victim of a lifetime of curiosity, Amie has  chased fire trucks on her bicycle just to see what's going on. She believes that everything is fun: especially roller coasters, wedding cake, and falling in love. You can find Amie online here: 

Website   |  Blog   |  Twitter   |  Facebook   |  Goodreads

Amie's Latest Book

Midsummer Love Affair, Kenyon Cove, Book 6 is Amie's latest release.

Hannah Drake and her beloved dog move to Kenyon Cove for a fresh start. 

Still stinging from her cancelled wedding six months ago, she’s ready for the fresh ocean breezes to blow away her past and help her stand on her own two feet again. 

After her experience with her family and friends who let her take the blame for the wedding fiasco, she’s not ready to trust anyone. 

However, when she arrives in town, an accidental fire at her new not-quite-as-advertised home brings a handsome firefighter right into her new life.

Captain Cooper loves helping people, fighting fires, and being a dependable friend to everyone in Kenyon Cove. His kind of dedication comes with sacrificing his personal life, and he’s never minded…until now. 

One look at Hannah Drake makes him want to find a place for her in his heart and his life. He knows betrayal has made her cautious, but he’ll do anything to convince Hannah to give Kenyon Cove—and him—a chance.

Giveaway to Welcome, Amie!

Leave a comment with your email addy written out, not as a hot link, to welcome Amie as a Romance Gems Author.

On Jan. 25, I'll choose one eligible commentator, by random draw, to receive a free copy of Midsummer Love Affair, Kenyon Cove, Book 6.

Giveaway open to comments until Jan. 24.

So, welcome, Amie Denman, we're thrilled to have you join us!

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

MY PERSONAL WINTER WONDERLAND

 By Caroline Clemmons


For me, our month’s theme of Winter Wonderland is fitting. My husband (I call him Hero) and I will have a wedding anniversary next week. We were married in a winter wonderland that gave the occasion added beauty.


We married at East Dallas Christian Church with a friend of Hero's officiating. You know the lines—richer or poorer, sickness and health, forsaking all others, love, honor, cherish. Fortunately, Hero and I meant those words as a promise and not merely as rote. He has proven them over and over and I hope I have as well.

Life has ups and downs, of course. We have made some odd decisions that seemed wise at the time. Don’t they always?

Hero has been a constant protector and nurse through my numerous health concerns even though he has issues of his own. He has been a loving and caring husband and father. He has encouraged and aided my writing. I feel blessed to have him as my husband.

As mentioned above, the day we were married was snowy. I will never forget the moonlight on the snow as we came from our wedding to our new home. What a winter wonderland!


As the climate has changed, we have less snow than all those years ago. At our house we haven’t had snow in five years, although nearby areas had light snowfall about ten days ago. But now we live in Tarrant County, of which Fort Worth is the county seat, instead of Dallas County as we did then. 

Is snow required for a winter wonderland? Not at all. Wonder is a state of mind.

Wishing you a new year filled with wonder, enchantment, and peace!



Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Winter Wonderland Plans, Goals and Action by @LucindaRace


Hello again, 


Winter Wonderland and 2021!

 

Well 2020 was quite a ride but I’m not sorry to see it slip quietly away without much fanfare. 

We had a low-key night and we celebrated hubs turning 65! Our normal dinner out at our favorite restaurant didn’t happen so I volunteered to cook a special prime rib dinner, a small cake and it was dinner for two. A nice way to begin the year on a snowy night.

 

Do you have goals for 2021? I don’t make resolutions but I do set goals for myself. Some are simple, like eat more fruit every day, sometimes I lack in that department, but I love veggies so that’s easy. I also plan to get more organized and purge boxes I moved into the house 17 years ago. If I haven’t opened them by now I guess I don’t need what’s inside. If you’re on Goodreads did you sign up for the 2021 reading challenge? I have my goal for this year, 52 books. You can watch my reviews to see what I’m reading too. 

 

While the temps are chilly I’m hard at work. I’ve very high goals for my writing life. I will release five (5) new books this year. The first book is available for Preorder and will release March 3, Blends A Prequel, and then with a quick release on March 17 of Breathe, Book 1 in the Crescent Lake Winery Series. The next two books in the series will follow and on November 15 I’ll release a new Dickens Christmas story as yet to be titled and it’s now in the process of being written. And to really be forward thinking, 2022 will see the final two books in Crescent Lake and a Last Chance Beach novel where I’m joining with other terrific romance authors to visit the beach so yes, I’m already planning books for over a year away too. Now, it’s not as easy as one might think so it’s a good time to enjoy being home. With each book released there is a lot of behind the scenes work, drafting, rewriting, editing, proofreading, cover design and then promotion and I love every minute of the process. 

 


If you haven’t signed up for my Newsletter take a moment to click the link. I release it a couple of times a month and I always select a random winner from the list. Be the first to know about upcoming release and behind the scenes tidbits of where I find inspiration or join my Lucinda’s Heart Racers on Facebook.  

 

So, tell me what are some of your goals and let’s reach them together. 

Stay healthy and until next time, 

I wish you happiness and love. 

 
Lucinda 


Monday, January 18, 2021

Out with the Old...In with the New by @karilemor #RomanceGems

 

The year that shall not be named is gone and so we look forward to something better. But in order to do that I need to make sure I put positivity in my attitude. Stay away from the news and focus on all the wonderful things life has to offer. And there are SO MANY things to be thankful for.

I have a wonderful husband, three beautiful children, 2 adorable grandsons, and I’m getting a new baby granddaughter in early May. The though of buying little girl clothes and bows again (2 of my 3 children are girls) is so exciting.


I’ve got great friends, online and off, who support me and help me through the hard times. My extended family are all lovely people who keep in touch as best they can.

And I’ve done more writing than ever before.

This year will be a whirlwind with releases. The one I’m most excited about is my Love on the Line series. It’s what I like to call “Romance with a splash of Danger”. Heavy on romance and light on suspense.

The first three books, Wild Card Undercover, Running Target, and Fatal Evidence, originally released in 2017.  Unfortunately, recently, the publisher put the books at a ridiculous price of $9.99 for digital. Yeah, I know. I wouldn’t even buy my own books at that price!!

But now I have control over them and will be rereleasing the first three books in Jan, Feb, and March. They’ll be at a much more reasonable price of $3.99.  And I’ve added a new scene or two to each book!!

The really exciting thing is this series has three more books coming right after it. We saw Chris, Jack, and Scott in the original series, but we also got glimpses of their other army buddies, Drew, Keith, and Nick.  So now these new guys will finally get to tell you their stories and find the women of their dreams.



These books will follow the first three in April, May, and June. So you can binge the whole series all at once if you hate waiting for the sequels. FYI, the books are all stand alones and can be read in any order.

For those who enjoy my small town contemporary Storms of New England series, I will be releasing Greg and Luke’s stories later this year.

And I have another surprise book coming out closer to Christmas. More about that at a later date.

Wild Card Undercover will be released TODAY!!! And you can get it at most retailers. More information and LINKS for them are here:  WILD CARD UNDERCOVER 

 


Stay positive, remember the blessings we do have, and read lots of romance!!

Kari

 

Sunday, January 17, 2021

Where Did Those Characters Come From? by Nancy Fraser

If you'd have told me two years ago ... even early last year ... that I'd be revising old books and putting them back out in the world, I'd have probably asked "What are you smoking?"

Yet, here I am, releasing the first of three books in a totally revamped series of post-Civil War romances set along the Mighty Mississippi. I've got three more all-new books planned for the series. Now I just have to write those.

So, what did I learn about "revamping" old stories into something new and exciting? First of all, I learned that my writing has improved 110% since 2008. I also realized, editors don't always know best.

I've taken three 40K word novellas and turned them into 65K novels, added, changed, subtracted the stuff that didn't work, and created an entire new world and new concept. Why keep anything at all? Because, deep down, this short series has always been one of my favorites. I just hated two of three original covers.

Part of the fun of revising is playing around with things I've learned in the interim. Not just about writing, but about history. Adding some wonderful new life into these stories has been a catalyst for new ideas to expand the series.

The first book in the series, Her Timeless Gamble, is (as the name implies) a time travel. However, I don't waste a lot of time in the twenty-first century--other than my heroine's penchant for saying the wrong thing at the wrong time. Which, of course, only aggravates the hero. <Insert evil giggle!>

We get our first introduction to the McAlister men ... and hunky devils they are! And, we get a bit of a cliffhanger for one of the supporting characters that won't be resolved until later in the series, but adds to the drama of each subsequent book. Yet, as with all good books, one is not dependent on the other.

Here's a peek at the first book in the series:

When Matthew McAlister pulls a nearly-drowned woman from the murky waters of the Mississippi, he has no idea what's in store for him. Or, how easily he'll willingly give up his carefree, love-em-and-leave-em lifestyle for a chance at real happiness.

Kathryn (Kate) Lowell can't believe her bad luck. Or the fact she's somehow been transported from the twenty-first century back to the post Civil War south. Worse yet, into the arms of the one man she grew up hating. The man she blames for her father's recent demise.

Can these two off-kilter and infinitely stubborn individuals fight their mutual attraction? Or, will they give in to the inevitable? And, when the time comes, will Kate choose to stay with Matt in the past, or return to her former life?
~ ~ ~
Of course, there's also a HTG Jigsaw Puzzle of the cover.

And, a trailer:

The second book in the series, His Marriage Gamble, carries on with one of the most engaging secondary characters from Book 1. I can't wait to share a peek next month!

Until next month, stay safe, stay happy, stay well read. Wear a mask and get the shot!

Nancy


Saturday, January 16, 2021

Romance from the Heart by Constance Bretes #RomanceGems

Constance Bretes, known as Connie here on Romance Gems, is having some medical issues at the moment.

I told her I'd step in and blog for her today.

Let me tell you a little about Connie Bretes. After 38+ years, she retired from working for the State of Michigan and dived into writing.

She loves researching and writing. To date, she's written and published more than a dozen novels ranging from Contemporary Romance to Romantic Suspense. 

Her romance novels are often set in different parts of the country, but her favorite place to set a book is Montana. The last few years have been challenging for Connie. She and her husband had moved to Montana, but the altitude in the Big Sky State was a challenge they could not overcome. Regretfully, they moved farther south and now make their home in Alabama.

A Note from Connie

I write contemporary romance where my characters are all down-to-earth everyday people who meet and fall in love. Most of them meet up with their past loves and rekindle the romance!

I have been writing romance for about ten years now and published my first book, Delayed Justice, 2013. I love writing and since getting my first book published, it's been a great ride!

Trio of Connie's Books

Here's a diverse sampling of Connie's romance novels.


Can a little girl's love and the true magic of Christmas bring Stefan and Laura together forever?


Liz Grey left Sage Brush, Wyoming, and the only man she ever loved, twelve years ago to be a cop in one of the biggest cities in the US. She returned a disgraced cop and was lucky to find a position at the county sheriff department. 

Aaron Mansfield is a sergeant at the county sheriff substation. When he receives a phone call informing him that a dead body has been discovered on his father's ranch, he has no idea it will change his life.

Can the cold case murder investigation be solved, and in the process, bring two ex-lovers back together again?


Marcus Blackhawk is on a mission to locate the Sacred Arrows that were stolen from the Cheyenne Nation. 

Nicole Lancaster ekes out a living in a small town by helping her brother run a motel and working part-time in a restaurant. Her mundane life suddenly becomes more exciting when Marcus arrives in town asking about the arrows she found while hiking in the Elkhorn Mountains.

The gorgeous man makes her heart beat fast, but she knows he'd never be interested in a Plain Jane like herself. Can the search for stolen Sacred Arrows lead to much more?

Visit Connie Online

Definitely follow Connie at her social media websites, but give her a little time to get back on her feet to interact with you.

I know Connie would love to receive some "get well" messages.

Please leave a comment and wish her a speedy recovery!

Friday, January 15, 2021

Winter Wonderland? Where? by @BonnieEdwards #RomanceGems

The theme this month for our merry band of writers is Winter Wonderland. Yesterday, it dawned on me that I'm already dealing with a seasonal allergy. In Canada, in January. 

I know that might seem strange to most people in North America, because, well...Winter Wonderland. But, where I live heather is blooming, moss is in season, grass is growing. It's so green here it looks like Ireland! We're seeing some winter sunshine on rare afternoons and the temperatures are pretty warm...considering Winter Wonderland.

We walked past a blooming plant that was about ten feet tall the other day. Long yellow flowers that were so heavy with blossoms, they drooped in a lovely arc. Lovely, until I realized that yellow blooms are supposed to be the highest in allergens. Since that afternoon, we've walked on the other side of the road. 

All this to say the sniffles, itchy tongue, and slight sore throat are not the virus, although the symptoms  had me wondering because we should be in a Winter Wonderland. 


Today, for our walk I decided to try wearing a mask. It's easy to social distance here when you're outside, so I usually leave my mask at home. Other dogwalkers stay well back as we chat...or call to each other from across the road.

Now, when you wear glasses they tend to fog when you wear a mask, and even more so when your heartrate picks up as your breath becomes heavier. Have I mentioned we live in a very hilly area? We get our cardio by default. 

Off we went, me in a disposable mask, trying to hold my glasses off my face so I could see where I was stepping in the woods. After the woods we always do a tour of the neighbourhood and yes, we walked past the yellow blooms again. My fella wandered over for a closer look, but we don't know what the shrub or bush is. Could be related to a sumac? Or not. 

How did I fare? Better! I'm not as sniffley as yesterday and that's a very good thing. The niggley worry that lurks in the back of everyone's mind is gone. Allergies it is...Winter Wonderland? Not so much. 

So, now that I've found a second reason to wear a mask...it feels like I've paid half for them since there's a new use for them now.

Something for you allergy sufferers to consider when your Winter Wonderland is over. Cheers everyone and happy reading!


Author Bonnie Edwards lives with her husband and pets on the coast of British Columbia. She has written novels, novellas, and short stories for Kensington Books, Harlequin Books, Carina Press, and Robinson (UK) although now she publishes her work herself.

With four ongoing romance series and contemporary family novels in her newest series, Return to Welcome, she rarely spends a day without writing. For more news you can sign up for her Bonnie's Newsy Bits.

Check out her website at https://www.bonnieedwards.com/