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/


Thursday, January 14, 2021

No Stress, it's January @MaddieJames #RomanceGems

The best laid plans of mice and men

--Robert Burns (or John Steinbeck, if you prefer....)


January is not what I expected. Nor what I had planned. And I am perfectly okay with that.

I’m good with winter. While some people think of pretty winter wonderlands, I think of warmth and coziness and burrowing in. While others lament snowy, icy days filled with gray and gloom, I’m like—please snow me in so I don’t have to leave the house and I can get things done. I’m like a squirrel. I gather what I need for the winter and hole up in my safe place for the duration—and generally, I write like crazy.

In November, I decided to take the last six weeks of 2020 off from writing in order to spend time doing author business planning for 2021, and to do some much-needed maintenance on all the things in my author ecosystem--you know, website, blog, newsletter, covers, blurbs, backmatter.... You get the picture.

I talked about that a bit on my personal blog, here, if you want to check that out.

I spent quite a bit of time plotting out what books I wanted to complete in each quarter, which resulted in an aggressive release schedule. For the past two weeks of 2020, I itched to write but held myself at bay to finish some of those pesky tasks that I knew would never get done, if I did start writing.

I'd set my first writing day for Monday, January 4. On the evening of the 4th, at a little after eleven o'clock, my dad called saying, "I'm having chest pains."

Those words launched days of appointments, doctors, hospitals, tests, procedures, and well, a lot of worry and yes, quite a bit of stress. Dad ended up with three stents, the 4th one coming, and I'm now half-moved into his house—the house I grew up in.

I should be stressing about the writing/release schedule. I’m not.

It’s not the first time in my nearly 25-year writing career that my writing plans have been waylaid and I’m quite sure it won’t be the last. What I’ve learned over the years is that with me, my writing waxes and wanes like the tide. When I was working a full-time job, there were periods when I could balance the two—writing and day job—and times when it was impossible. I used to stress then.

But now? No. I’m telling myself that I’m being flexible. No stress allowed. At least not about the writing.

Plans are good. So are schedules. Burrowing in and working hard through the cold winter months are my manna. But stressing about what’s not getting done is not part of my dialog right now. Being flexible and present in the day, is.

One day, one task at a time. Things will get done.

There will be another phase of my life when I can drive myself crazy writing. I’m okay with that.

That said, my one task for January has shifted—and that is to get my new release out and in the marketplace on schedule. Ethan: Black Sheep Cowboy, is a second chance western romance, book 7 in my Parker Ranches, Inc., series. Who can resist a Navy SEAL back home on the ranch? You can meet Ethan, here

***

Maddie James writes romancebut don’t try to pin her down to one genre. From edgy suspense to flirty contemporary romance to darker erotic titles, she writes to silence the people in her head. Affaire de Coeur says, “James shows a special talent for traditional romance,” and RT Book Reviews claims, “James deftly combines romance and suspense.” Learn more at www.maddiejames.net.

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Beauty Sleep or Sleeping Beauty? by Connie Vines

Beauty Sleep, what I wouldn't give for a good night's sleep.  How many times have we uttered those very words during our adult life?

Rodeo Romance

Remember the luxury of childhood, when you could fall into a deep sleep--any time, any place?

What we learned as children from the Sleeping Beauty Fairytale:

Filled with jealousy, the evil witch Maleficent curses Princess Aurora to die on her 16th birthday. Thanks to Aurora's guardian fairies, she only falls into a deep sleep that can be ended with a true-love's kiss (from her betrothed, Prince Phillip ). To prevent Phillip from rescuing Aurora, Maleficent kidnaps and imprisons him. The good fairies are the last hope to free Phillip so that he can awaken Aurora.

This is not restorative sleep. Nor does it hold the key to longevity that woman (and people in general)  strive to attain. For most of my adult life I've managed to function on six-or-less hours of sleep each night.

Was it a subconscious fear (Sleep Beauty Syndrome)? Naw.  It was just reality and obligations crowding out the remints of a childhood sleep pattern.

I found myself reading articles and even interviews given by famous and not-so-famous people. Why? because my doctor help harping, "you need to have 7 - 9 hours of sleep each night."

I promised I'd try.  

He didn't believe me (I could tell). He wrote down the amount of Vitamin D and C I needed to take daily and scheduled me for a return visit.

What did I learn in my research? 

Betty White is a 98 year-old actress and comedian whose career has spanned 80 years. In promoting sleep she says, "Get at least 8 hours of beauty sleep, nine if you're ugly."


Pinterest meme
Pinterest Meme

"The Sleep Revolution: Transforming Your Life One Night at a Time" by Arianna Huffington (Harmony Books, 2017).  Sleep is considered an important part of our routine and is essential for survival, as are food and water. Recent research suggests that sleep has a housekeeping roll by removing toxins in our brain that accumulate when we are awake. For older adults, less than seven hours of sleep a night generally is considered insufficient. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine refers to a study by UCLA researcher who discovered that "just a single night of insufficient sleep can make older adult's cells age quicker.

Betty White was right! (No woman volunteers to become ugly).  

8 hours of sleep?  

Since I hadn't even hit the 7 mark, this was going to be a difficult milestone.

No coffee after dinner. 

No writing until 2:00 AM. 

No late night news programs, or crime shows.

Little by little (15 minutes each week), I was able to almost make 7 hours.

Do I feel better? 

Yes.

Can I inch my way up to 8 hours each night, maybe.

How about you?

Are you sleeping the recommended 8 hours each night?  

If so, what's you secret? 

Or are you making it a goal for 2021?

Do you need a little help?

Here's something I discovered:

Chocolate also contains tryptophan, which stimulates serotonin and melatonin. And serotonin and melatonin are believed to help sleep.

Yay! This is the preverbal carrot at the end of the stick.

And here's an easy recipe: 

Heaven in a Crockpot

Prep time: 20 mins. Cook time: 200 mins. on low

(I use a crockpot liner so this doesn't stick). Thought a non-stick cooking spray may work well.

1 box of Betty Crocker Fudge Brownie Mix

1/2 cup of melted butter

4 eggs

1 pouch of Betty Crocker Chocolate Cookie Mix (also tried Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookie Mix)

Cream all together  (I added a little water because I thought it was too thick). Scrape the edges of the bowl to make certain it's well combines.  Spoon into crockpot.

The end result is a hot, gooey, lava-cake-like dessert.  

I spooned into individual (small) Mason jars to cool and store in the fridge.

You can top with ice cream, if desired.

And, yes, it does help you sleep.






 



Sleep well. Eat well. 

Indulge in a Romance Novel and Chocolate both soothe the soul and bring that touch of magic back into your life.

Wishing you a Happy and Blessed 2021,






My Books are on sale at Smashwords and Amazon!

https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/vinesbwl

https://www.amazon.com/Connie-Vines/e/B004C7W6PE

https://www.bookbub.com/authors/connie-vines




Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Treat Yourself by Laura Hunsaker

Today is the day! Dreams of the Past is out in the wild! If you'll recall, I have some brand new covers for my Fatal Instincts series (you can check them out here). Today you can see what all the fuss is about! Our theme for the month is Winter Wonderland, however I am dreaming of the warm summer days. And this book takes place on Last Chance Beach...enjoy your chilly day by the fireplace dreaming of the beach.

Since it's a Tuesday, and it's book release day, I will be buying books. But also it's my Release Day, so I intend to treat myself a wee bit extra. Maybe I'll buy my coffee today instead of making it, or maybe I'll pick up that lipstick I've been waiting on since we wear masks now. As you can see, I treat myself with books, coffee, and makeup, some of my favorite things.

I want to ask what you'd treat yourself to?



Amazon  |  Barnes & Noble  |  Kobo  |  Google Play  |   Smashwords  |  Goodreads  |  Newsletter

Read the story that Alexandra Ivy calls, "A story with charm, heartache, and the promise of love..."

Readers are saying, "a jam-packed story...I loved it." -Goodreads Reviewer

"It's short but really cute..." -Netgalley reviewer


She needs rest, he needs relaxation… 

Jenny Travers wants a fresh start. Leaving the nightmares of her past behind her, she heads to Last Chance Beach. Renting the Sea Glass Cottage sounds peaceful and relaxing, which is exactly what she needs.

What she doesn’t need is a man. 

Lieutenant Commander Scott Gordon was injured by an IED on his last mission, and while his leg has healed, it’ll never be strong enough to stay on his SEAL team. Renting the Sea Glass Cottage sounds like the perfect place to figure out how he’s going to handle his new normal. 

He never expected to find a woman in his bed. 

A mix-up at the rental agency means Jenny and Scott are both renting the small cottage. Sharing a space with a stranger should be hard, yet they both feel more at peace than they have in months. 

Will their summer romance last, or is the magic of Sea Glass Cottage all they’ll have… 


Monday, January 11, 2021

YOUR OPINION MATTERS By Kathleen Lawless @kathleenlawless

 

As an author, I try to always keep my reader in mind as I work.  Will they like this character?  Will the storyline live up to the reader’s expectations and deliver the kind of feels they are looking for? 

In a romance that’s the warm, fuzzy Awww!  In a mystery, it’s the mind puzzle. In a thriller it’s the heart-pounding, edge of the seat, nerve-jangling suspense and excitement. 

Authors care about readers and their opinions.  What worked in this story?  What didn’t work?  What would you like to see more of? 

That’s why it’s so important to leave a review of the books you enjoyed on either Amazon, Goodreads or Bookbub.  It doesn’t need to be a book report, and please don’t include spoilers or give away the ending.  A simple, ‘I really loved these characters and their story’ warms the author’s heart on those cold, lonely days when the words don’t flow and we wonder why we are even bothering.

The other reason reviews matter pertains to advertising.  Too few reviews, or a low ranking with reviews, can curtail an author’s bid for coveted advertising spots.  You might think advertisers will take any author’s advertising dollars, but that’s not always the case.  The platforms that deliver a good return on an author’s investment are really choosy about what they advertise to their followers.  There are far more authors clamoring to be seen than spots available. 

Think about that, also, when you post your next review.  Did the book really deserve 1 star?  It doesn’t happen often, but I’ve been given 1 star because the reviewer didn’t like the subject matter or heat level, which is really unfair.  That one bad review drags down my average and well could prevent me from reaching readers who will enjoy the story.

A story that is poorly written, unreadable and full of typing and grammar mistakes might warrant 1 star, but I would opt to skip reviewing it all together.  I recently judged a contest of unpublished stories and most were really good, but there was one that I found problematic and difficult to follow.  I tried to be constructive and explain my reason for the lower scores.  To my surprise, the story obviously resonated with the other judges because it went on to the final round.  And I was glad.  Just because it wasn’t for me didn’t make it a bad story.  After all, judging, just like reviewing, is totally objective. 

As many of us heard growing up, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.”  It’s so easy to be negative.  But a few kind words about an author’s work really do go a long way.

 To chase away the winter gloom, I’ll be releasing a new series of sweet contemporary romances soon, starting with ONE CINDERELLA SPRING.

      Cindy clambered up the ladder, stretched up on tiptoe to replace the shoe box on the very top shelf, then inched her way back down and reached the floor with a semi graceful hop.

When she looked up, Prince Charming stood before her. She hadn’t heard him enter the shop over the drone of the electric fan that was doing its halfhearted best to stir the muggy air. He stood watching her, an admiring half smile on his face. He’d probably been looking up her skirt. Good thing she had her bike shorts underneath.

“Can I help you?” She glanced at the clock on the far wall. Why did people wait until five minutes before closing to wander in?

“If you can’t help me, then I am in big trouble,” he said with a disarming smile.

He could save the charm for someone who appreciated it. Someone who’d swoon at the lethal combination of linebacker shoulders, tousled dark hair, chiseled cheekbones and a killer smile. Rather than swoon, Cindy ran a hand through her haphazard tangle of wavy blond hair, which she kept short in hopes it would stay tidy.

“I’m on the hunt for a pair of shoes. For my sister,” he added.

“Anything in particular?” She noted that the sister line had been tagged in quickly. Lingerie shops or women’s shoes. Men didn’t seem to realize that Cindy didn’t much care if he was planning to wear the purchase himself, or if it really was for his sweetheart. The sister, though. That was a new twist.

He pulled a scrap of paper from his pocket. “She wants a pair of red leather pumps. Size eight, narrow. Do you have any?”

Cindy gave him a long, searching look before she spun around, so quickly she could feel her skirt flutter across her thighs. “Over here.”

There’d been a surge of interest in red pumps ever since she’d posted on the Madronna Beach Local Facebook page that she’d lost a shoe of the same description. Despite the flood of comments on the Cinderella’s dilemma post, the missing shoe had yet to surface.

And here’s a snippet from Madison’s story in ONE STOLEN SUMMER:

As Madison started down the rutted driveway toward the main residence, she noticed a swath of light through the front window. Must be the Hardy Boys. As she sauntered past the house, trying not to stare but hoping to catch a glimpse of the new residents, she let out a startled cry and fell headlong over something lying on the ground.

The porch light winked on seconds later, revealing that she had been tripped up by a miniature mountain bike lying in the middle of the driveway. A short, shadowy figure on the porch was staring in her direction as she clambered to her feet.

“Dad, someone’s trying to steal my bike.”

Madison dusted off her hands and knees and took a tentative step forward to make sure her limbs were in full working order. A much taller figure appeared behind the short one.

“I wasn’t stealing it,” Madison said. “But that’s a dumb spot to park it.”

“The lady’s right, son. Come and make sure she’s all right.” The man descended the three steps to ground level but even then, she had to crane her head to meet his gaze. Madison was five-foot-four, a fact she was reminded of by the man before her, who stood nearly a foot taller.

“I’m fine,” she said. “You’ve probably already figured out that I’m Coach’s daughter, Madison.”

“That was my first guess.” Her hand was swallowed up in a firm, masculine grip. “Greg Hardy. We were going to mosey over tomorrow and say hello. Contrary to appearances, my son knows better than to leave his bike lying around, don’t you, Ty?”

“Aw, Dad.”

“Move it or lose it,” Greg said. He had a nice voice, Madison noticed. Deep and sexy.

“I work nights at the pub down the road.”

“So Coach told me.”

Madison laughed, trying to cover up how suddenly awkward she felt. “He kept referring to you as the Hardy Boys. After my favorite teenage detective books,” she added.

“I know who the Hardy Boys are.” His voice was dry. They could have been discussing the weather. Because the light was behind him, she couldn’t tell much about his looks beyond his height. Dark hair. Broad shoulders. Great voice. Hunky Hardy.

“Sorry about my bike, ma’am.” Hunky’s son stooped to pick up his bike. When he turned sideways, the light fell across his face and Madison felt her insides give a lurch. The little boy from the party today was living here. The one who wished his father wasn’t so sad.

 I spend a lot of time in the Wild West writing about cowboys, so it's always fun to mix things up a little.  Do you read across a variety of genres or mostly stick to one time period and setting?  

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Saturday, January 9, 2021

Turn on the Heat by Hannah Rowan #romancegems

 Winter wonderland?  Really, fellow Gems?

I can’t help but think of Green Eggs and Ham. “I do not like it…”

I know there are people who love the cold weather. I don’t understand them one little bit.

Do they not have to go out in the morning and scape a few inches of ice from their windshields, then slide sideways along slippery highways to get to work?

Do they not then come out of work only to find it already dark at 4:30 in the afternoon?

There was a time when I was probably insane. As a child I would bundle up in my hat and gloves and boots and trudge through the snow to ride a sled down a steep hill that ended at a river. My brother and I would make a trail through the woods so we’d have a clear path on the way down, but inevitably my sled would veer off course and I’d crash head-first into a tree. Brain damage would indeed explain why I thought this activity was fun, with snow melting down the back of my coat and my mittens and sleeves all wet and freezing and snow sliding into my boots.

My town would flood a parking lot bordered by railroad ties so kids could ice skate there. I tottered along on my skates—no graceful gliding for me—with visions of hot chocolate dancing through my frozen head.

And I thought I was having fun?  As I look back, I’m horrified.

Later I would take my children skiing. Or more accurately, I would drive them to the slopes and huddle in the ski lodge by the fireplace reading or writing a book until they came to tell me they were done.

In the summer I can toss on a pair of sandals and walk out the door. In the winter I have to don my armor, with hats and gloves scarf and boots, a down coat that almost keeps me warm bolstered by a few layers of sweaters beneath.

At bedtime I snuggle under a blanket, a bedspread, a down quilt, a fluffy Ugg blanket folded in half to provide two layers, and a fleecy robe, and I’m almost warm.

And this year I can’t even break up the cold by spending a week or so in a nice warm place, reminding me that winter can’t last forever.

So I tell myself it builds character, that I’m tough enough to endure it, and that this too shall pass.

But I do not like it, not one little bit!

 

Thursday, January 7, 2021

Good Luck for 2021 by Jan Scarbrough

Winter Wonderland is our January theme. I’m not into winter, probably because the days are so short and it’s dark and gloomy. We rarely have snow in Kentucky, so the winter sports are not very common here.

In my book Timeless, a contemporary Gothic romance, my heroine Beth does go sledding.

“Want to go sledding?”

His question came out of the blue, completely unexpected. “Sledding?” I asked in a stunned tone.

“A bunch of us are going to Dog Hill this afternoon. It will probably be crowded, but it is a lot of fun.”

“Sledding?” I repeated myself. It sounded fun, but going with Eric? I wasn’t sure about that….

Dog Hill in Louisville’s Cherokee Park never lost that name even after the city built a fenced dog area in another part of the park. Eric told me its history during our ride through streets now blackened with snowy slush. Baringer Hill, as it’s officially called, isn’t for the faint of heart on a snowy day. I stood at the top of it, looking down its long and steep incline wondering if I would chicken out.

“You’ll be in for a wild ride,” Eric said. “Are you up to it?”

If I’d wanted adventure, I was going to get it. The hill was crowded with teenagers and adults. A few children were sprinkled here and there, but this was definitely not a beginner’s hill….

Determined not to let my courage fail me, I took the sled, walked down the hill a little ways to where snow remained packed, dropped the plastic vehicle to the ground, and sat down cross-legged. I paddled with my gloved hands, digging my fingers into the snow, which had basically turned to ice.

The ride started slowly but picked up speed until I was soon flying down the bumpy slope. Cold wind stung my face. My blood rushed with exhilaration as I held on for dear life. All too soon, I was at the bottom, swerving to avoid a tree, and then toppled sideways as I skidded to a stop. After picking myself up and brushing myself off, I trekked up the hill.

The sled was surprisingly lightweight and easy to pull during my hike. Panting hard, I wondered about my sanity. It wasn’t often that I saw my life flash by me like I’d seen during that ride. Exciting, yes. Smart, no….


My own winter includes much calmer pursuits. One of the things I do is feed birds and watch them. This December a special bird showed up at my feeder. It was little and white. I’d never seen such a bird! My neighborhood FB group identified the little guy as a white zebra finch

Zebra finches are not native to Kentucky and are kept in captivity. A white one is a mutation. The neighborhood group reported someone’s birds had escaped. My little white guest must have been one of them.

I felt that the little white finch must be good luck.



Beth from Nature’s Portraits by Beth came over to try to capture a photo of the little white bird. She visited my back yard for several days and captured some beautiful pictures. But she had no luck spotting the little white bird.


I do have some special wild birds that do look festive in the winter. The shrub is a winterberry bush, enjoyed by the cardinals, mockingbirds, and especially flocks of robins.



Cardinals are believed to be good luck. “Native American lore states if a cardinal is seen, it is believed that individual will have good luck within 12 days of the sighting.”



I must say I have plenty of good luck around my house with the little white bird and my yard full of cardinals. I look forward to 2021 being better than 2020!







You can follow Beth on FB at Nature’s Portraits by Beth. She sells her photographs, and you can find her email address on her page if you want to purchase a winter bird.


Tuesday, January 5, 2021

Hibernation Worked Once...Should I Try It Again? by Nancy Fraser

Last January 5th, I wrote my first post of the year and outlined my plan to hibernate for the winter. Because I can't take the flu shot, I'd decided it was the best thing to guarantee my own health.

And, since I was bent on keeping myself well, I also planned to take it a step further and spend the first three months experimenting (against the dietician's wishes) with a keto diet.

Little did I know, before I could even come out of hibernation, I was forced into isolation and social distancing. So much for my plan to emerge in the late Spring to enjoy the beautiful weather!

I did manage to accomplish a lot during my "alone" time, including:

  • Completing two of my last three publisher contracts. The last one will finsh next month when my short story, Teach Me, is published as the final part of my Lusty Liaisons erotic romance series from The Wild Rose Press. More on that in next month's post.
  • Taking back the publishing rights on ten of my older, out-of-contract books.
  • Creating an attainable writing schedule (not that difficult when you're stuck inside).
  • Learning to self-publish by working along side two other generous Gems authors (Joan Reeves and Maddie James) to put together the Gems' Last Chance Beach box set.
  • Publishing my first three indie books, as well as acting as publisher for our holiday anthology, Christmas Comes to Dickens. Oh, the things I've learned!

And that experiment with a keto diet? I lost 97 pounds. I was hoping to hit 100 pounds gone when I weighed in on January 1st, but I have to admit I self-sabotaged that last few pounds while enjoying a family holiday!

Bottom line: hibernation works! Will I do it all again this year? You bet your sweet bookmarks I will!

I've already got another killer schedule planned, including:

  • Publishing a book a month! Some will be revamps of those previously published works, but more than half will be new. The newbies include another trip to Last Chance Beach, a new generational anthology with three other mega-talented authors, another holiday trip to Dickens, and book(s) #2 of both my Cougars & Cubs and Love of the Land series.
  • Mastering the art of promotion. I learned a lot with both the Last Chance Beach and Dickens projects, but there's always more to absorb. Especially when it comes to Amazon and BookBub.
  • Honing my formatting skills for print books. I managed to upload my first attempt today and am just waiting for Amazon approval so I can order my proof copies. I have to say, it looked pretty sweet in the "previewer".
  • And, back to keto and my Wii Fit to lose another 60-or-so pounds! Not to brag ... but I've become somewhat of an expert on keto cooking!
I will be back later in the month with tour and giveaway news about my first historical romance in ages. In the meantime, here's a sneak peek at Her Timeless Gamble, Book 1 of my Love's a Gamble series (releasing on January 19th but up for pre-order now).

When Matthew McAlister pulls a nearly-drowned woman from the mucky 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?

~ ~ ~
Books 2 & 3 will be release in February and March, followed by two more stories in early 2022.

That's all for now. As I said earlier, I'll be back later in the month with more book news. Until then, stay safe, stay happy, stay well read.

Nancy




Sunday, January 3, 2021

Beginnings by Karen Whiddon

 Since we're starting a new year (Hello 2021!), I thought talking about beginnings would be a great topic for my January post.

I started writing a new book shortly before Christmas.  Or tried to.  I knew where the story needed to begin, I just couldn't get the how and where right.  I tried the heroine's point of view, then the hero's, and then went back to hers since it's her story.  Nothing stuck.  I wrote four to five pages, discarded them, and tried again.  Finally, finally, I hit on what needed to happen in a way that a reader would find interesting. Or at least I hope so.

That beginning seemed to parallel with some aspects of my life.  I've always worked out and enjoy lifting weights.  I also walk around 5 miles per day.  The one area I lack - and don't enjoy - is intermittent cardio.  Or Tabata.  Which is how you burn calories.

And as a general rule, I eat healthy.  Except this year, with being housebound, I let the healthy eating slide.  Not completely, but enough that over the course of 2020, I gained 10 pounds.  Yes, I baked bread and cakes and pies.  I ate more pizza than I should have.  And now, I'm once again starting over.  

I signed up for a workout course with nutrition guidelines that starts Jan 1.  I've worked with this coach before and she's amazing.  She'll get me back where I need to be.  



I just picked up groceries with all the healthy food.  It's a lot of cooking.  But I've done it before, and I can do it again.  No resolution here.  Just doing.  

As we roll into 2021 and the vaccines continue, I hope by mid-year we can get back to some semblance of normalcy.  Me, I'll continue to write and mask up and isolate for as long as necessary.  

What about you?  Is there anything you're doing differently in 2021?

Oh, and before I go, I have a new release out this month.  The Widow's Bodyguard.  Check it out.


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