Sunday, February 28, 2021

Needles and Thread by @KaraONealAuthor #RomanceGems

My husband's mother, sister and aunts are quilters.

Ok, that doesn't accurately describe them. They are masters. I've never seen such talent. They've placed in national contests and have won multiple awards. They teach classes, go on retreats and visit quilt stores in the smallest of towns.

They love their craft and thank goodness they do. It's wonderful that they have so much passion for an art that is hundreds of years old. Especially when there are machines that'll make quilts for you.

My family benefits from their talent as we have a ton of quilts. When Texas froze, we sure as heck didn't! Some of the quilts they've made for me hang on my wall because they're just too beautiful to fold up and put in a trunk.


Here's one of the first ones my mother-in-law made for me. It's a Log Cabin quilt. The colors are gorgeous, but the piecing around the star is amazing.


This next one my sister-in-law made. (Can you figure out that I like my state?) This one has such intricate quilting. You might be able to see the blue thread on the white part of the flag. She's won awards for her quilting.


And this last one is another that my sister-in-law made for me. I'm sharing it because all the fabrics she used were fabrics that were popular during the Civil War era. This one I fold up and lay across the end of my bed.

These are pieces of art, but more importantly, they have stories. And while they are stitched together, stories are told around them. I think one of the most lovely activities from the past are quilting bees. I'm so glad my family keeps this tradition alive.

I had to put this custom into one of my books, and my most current release, THE COWBOY'S EMBRACE, had the perfect moment. I've shared an excerpt below and an image of the square the heroine, Lily Spero, sews into the quilt.

It's so wonderful that these stitches, made by loving hands over countless hours, will carry on through the generations after me.

THE COWBOY'S EMBRACE

Lily Spero is searching for her stolen heritage, for a place in the world that is all her own. Sixteen years ago, she lost her parents and siblings to a villain on a white horse. Since, she's hungered for family, for that love she'd once known. When she visits the Swinging A Ranch, her past collides with her present, opening wounds long buried and shockingly creating hope where none had been before.

Deacon Tolbert is the foreman and a contributing partner to the Swinging A Ranch. He's carved a niche in the world all his own, finally feeling worthy of the goodness he's found for himself. But when Lily Spero arrives, the girl he abandoned years ago, he's forced to face the most gut-wrenching moment of his life.

Despite the pain, love surprises them and blossoms, bringing hope for the future. But the villain from the past comes to haunt them, to steal what they're trying to build. Deacon and Lily must brave vile evil in order to stay together, and fight with all they have to keep the promises they made to each other.

THE COWBOY'S EMBRACE: AN EXCERPT

Deacon cupped Lily's shoulder and gave it a comforting squeeze before continuing. “One of the ladies, Esther Epperson, asked if you’d have time to help sew a square onto a quilt the ladies are making, and I fear if you choose to listen to me speak to the men, you might cause a rift with the women.”

Lily wouldn’t dare slight the feelings of people she’d just met. "Of course. I'd love to help." She had hoped to be a help to Deacon, to assist him in finding words that would inspire the men of Bordersville to take the necessary steps for their race. But it was more important to make a connection with folks before she started blazing trails. “Besides, I’d like to contribute to the project. We ladies tell stories through our sewing.”

He ran his hand down her arm and looked at her with love.

“None of that now.” Esther marched toward them, her strides that of a general with a mission. Lily had a feeling she organized the neighborhood events and led the families of Bordersville through daily life.

“We don’t show our affection in public here,” the woman continued. “Least of all in front of the Sister Aunts.”

Hazel sucked air through her teeth and rolled her eyes. “You’re too young for that attitude. He could kiss her all he wants.”

The gleam in the older woman’s eyes made Lily chuckle and Deacon to take her up on her offer. He planted his lips on hers for a brief second then lifted his head and winked at the ladies. They tittered while he tipped his hat and sauntered away.

Esther harrumphed and muttered under her breath that his behavior was unfitting then took Lily by the elbow. “Come on in to my house,” she commanded, though not rudely. “I have tea and the quilt already set up.”

All the women followed her to a home in the center of the first row where some females already sewed. After making more introductions, Lily found a seat between Pixie and Ruth. The chances Lily would remember everyone’s name were slim, but she would try hard.

When Claire, a young girl around the age of fifteen, gave her a set of fabric squares, Lily took the offering. She ran her hands over the cream, purple and goldenrod colored material. As talk swirled around her, she thought about what she would make, what emotion she wanted to evoke. She recalled the times she’d sewn with her mother, and an idea formed that made love swell and not grief. Struck, she could only sit and soak up the feeling.

She took in the women around her, observed their closeness and happy expressions, and she let out an exhale.

“Are you all right, honey?” Miss Ruth asked her.

With contentment in her tone, Lily replied, “Yes, ma’am. I am.”

A knowing light entered the woman’s eyes, and she nodded once.

Lily then bent her head to her task, taking up a pair of scissors in order to cut a dove from the cream fabric square. The only detail her mother had ever shared with Lily about their escape from Mississippi had been that a dove, in one of Hannah and Matthew’s darkest hours, had led them to freedom. While Lily had wanted her to elaborate, her mother had chosen not to for reasons Lily believed she understood as an adult.

She could create her own version of the symbol. Because now she’d found peace and love. And belonging. Her heart quaked with the beauty of it.


BUY THE COWBOY'S EMBRACE


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Saturday, February 27, 2021

Love makes the world go around....with a little help from Cupid by Peggy Jaeger

 Our theme this month is Cupid, falling in love, and Valentine's day. Since the 14th has come and gone ( happy belated, btw!) I got to thinking that, as a romance author, I actually play Cupid's role.

Society's image of Cupid is typically a small chubby boy-child in a diaper, with blond curly hair and angel wings,  sporting a secret smile, and armed with a bow and arrow. 


While I'm a girl and a long way from being a child(!), I resemble the little cutie in the chubby, blonde, smirking department. See?



Hee hee.

So it's not wrong to say I play the role of Cupid, sans arrow, when I'm getting my characters to fall in love. 

My favorite couples to write are ones that, ordinarily, wouldn't meet and fall in love. The opposites attract trope is actually a mirror of my own HEA. Hubby and I came from two different worlds growing up. He from a stable, loving, multi-sibling family, blessed with money and status. He had advantages I could only dream of when it came to schools, friends, and opportunities for the future. My humble beginnings included a single divorced mom,  being an only child, alcoholism and living paycheck to paycheck and sometimes not even that. Little was expected from me for my future and most thought I would turn to the dark side and not amount to much.

I didn't. 

One of the main reasons I didn't was because, as a latch key kid, I spent most of my afternoons when school let out in the public library while my mother was at work. The library opened up worlds to me I didn't know existed and I knew from a young age I wanted more to life than I had.

So what's this got to do with Cupid, you ask? My favorite books to read as a child where the happily ever after ones. As an adult, I switched from fairytale HEA's to  grownup ones, which led me to write my own HEA's, thereby assuming the role of matchmaker, of Cupid.

Get it?? hee hee

Many of my romance novels center around couples who, by some quirk of fate ( okay, me. I'm the quirk of fate!!)meet, fall in love, have some kind of external force move them apart, and in the end,  realize they can't live without one another, so they make their own happily ever after ending. Or I make it for them, which is more the point.

I may not have angle wings and wear a diaper (yet) but I do so love playing Cupid.

The latest couple I've thrown together is in BAKED WITH LOVE the third installment of my Match Made in Heaven series. 


Maureen and Lucas have been friends for ever, each secretly in love with the other. Why haven't they told one another their feelings? You'll need to read their story to find out but it involves a secret one of them has.

Intrigued? Here's a little more about BAKED WITH LOVE...


Innkeeper Maureen O'Dowd lives to cook and bake, spoils her family and friends, and is an expert at keeping secrets, especially about the man who's held her heart for years.

Police Chief Lucas Alexander is dealing with an aging father and a moody teenage son, and he's in love with a woman who only want to be friends.

How can these two fiercely private people reveal their feelings for one another without destroying the friendship they already have? And if they're successful, will another secret, if revealed, drive a wedge between Maureen and Luca that can never be repaired?

And as an added bonus, the e-book is on sale for just #99cents until March 11, 2021. If you haven't read it yet, now is a good time since the price will revert back to normal after that.

Until next month, peeps. Stay warm. Stay healthy. Wear your mask and wash your hands - sorry, it's the Nurse in me that has to say that.

If you're looking for me, here I am: 

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Thursday, February 25, 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: What’s your best and/or worst date ever?

Aah, February…the month of hearts, candy, and flowers with Valentine’s Day right in the middle! So tell me…what’s the best and/or worst date you’ve ever been on? If you don’t want to share a personal story, you can share something from one of your books. Let's talk!

“I have had so many disastrously disappointing dates it’s hard to pick just one.  One man teared up when he told me about his ex-wife divorcing him.  He lied about his height and even wearing thick-soled shoes, was inches shorter than me.  Then there was the cheapskate who invited me for brunch, only to inform me he had a big breakfast so wasn’t hungry.  I told him I was starved and immediately ordered a drink, knowing I would need some fortification.  He also ordered a drink but when the bill came he only had $5, and I was stuck with the rest.” ~ Kathleen Lawless

“What does a seventeen-year-old girl do when she’s on a dinner date with a guy who goes into great detail about his hemorrhoid surgery? That actually happened to me on a first date. I was shocked and speechless. And, needless to say, that was my last date with the guy!” ~ Cheryl Bolen

“My worst date ever isn’t actually mine, it’s when I was someone else’s worst. It was Valentine’s day and my new boyfriend made our plans for dinner. I bought the cutest stuffed fish toy that sang “Hooked on a Feeling.” It was so adorable I smiled when it sang. My boyfriend gave me jewelry. We were definitely not in a jewelry stage yet and I just remember covering my face after he put a ring on me and saying, “I bought you a singing fish” in bewilderment. Poor guy. We did not get married.” ~ Laura Hunsaker

“My worst date – A guy in college accidentally kicked me in the shin playing soccer (left a massive bruise) so he wanted to take me to dinner to make up for it. While at the restaurant, he spied the oil and vinegar bottles, and began making fun of my religion. Next, a movie, where he ruined the plot twist about ten minutes in. When he drove me home, he took my hand. I thought he was going to kiss it. Instead, he said, "Let's pray."  Yeah, I was praying I could get out of the car as fast as possible!” ~ Kari Lemor

“Hubby asked me to dinner. In Boston. We lived in New York. I thought driving 4 hours was ridiculous. His response? Not driving; flying. We hopped on Laker Air, flew 30 minutes, landed, had dinner in the North end, then strolled around the Harbor before flying back to home. Best date ever and set the tone for our future marriage. We’ve dined in the same restaurant as that first dinner date at least once a year since then.” ~ Peggy Jaeger

“After 27 years of marriage, finding yourself single is a scary prospect. A friend who had been divorced for four years talked me into going with her to a singles mixer for professional mid-lifers. It was fun and resulted in a date with a man six years my junior. We went for drinks at a local bar that featured a game room (e.g., pool, darts, shuffleboard). Apparently, mature (40ish) men are no better than little boys when they're beat at billiards by a woman. He got angry and took off, leaving me to get home on my own.” ~ Nancy Fraser

“Back in my airline days I met a handsome Australian in Hong Kong. First, cocktails at a piano bar, followed by a scrumptious dinner. Next, drinks at the Peninsula Hotel and dancing. The date ended with a walk along the harbor.  He showed up next morning to take me to breakfast.

"Worst date. During dinner he whipped out a designer clothespin and clipped it to his nose. Smells put him off. If that wasn’t bad enough, he said he was submissive and wanted to sit at my feet nude wearing a dog collar. True story this.” ~ Marcia King-Gamble

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

 Thanks for joining us! 

~ The Romance Gems ~

Can I Still Write A Book? by Liz Flaherty #RomanceGems


Yesterday I submitted a proposal for an imprint I've never written for before, although it's not a different publisher or a different editor. I'm so enjoying the writing that I went beyond the "first three" that traditionally goes with a proposal. Although I hated the required synopsis, that's not a big deal--I hate all synopses, including everyone else's. I wrote what I called (with some embarrassment) a "scrap-paper" proposal for a series that would stem from this book. I just suggested two additional books. In truth, I really only want to commit to one, but I can do two. Any more than that worries me because I'm slow anymore--I'm not sure about...well, you get that.

I don't know how many books I've had published. Writing novellas and the occasional short story for box sets or anthologies confuses the count for me, so I always just say "20-some" and let it go at that. They have almost all been fun, especially in these later years of worrying every time if this will be the last book. I am a hybrid author, but I prefer traditional publishing. For two reasons I can pinpoint--one being that that was where I "cut my teeth" and the other being that I hate promotion and marketing all the way to the bottom of my soul.


The infodump above is so you'll understand what I'm really here to talk about. It's about how different having a project rejected feels when you are many years into a career. It wasn't just any project, but one I poured months of working, a great deal of heart, and a pinch of my soul into. I loved the story. I loved Banjo Creek. I revised the proposal in ways my editor suggested and sent them back. I liked them. He liked them. 


The senior editor did not. The rejection didn't invite me to try the same story again, although they did urge me to send them more ideas. 

This isn't different, is it? Or it shouldn't be. Most of us have dealt with professional rejection at some point. But even knowing that, this was was different. I hadn't been that devastated in years. And I shouldn't have been. Several months later, I still can't fully understand why I was. Except that it planted a seed--no, something bigger, maybe a bulb--in the back of my mind that maybe I could no longer write books.

I am a professional, so after considerable cursing, wailing, and threats of quitting (maybe I'm exaggerating...), I sat back down to write. I have not stopped.

But it left a mark. I've never been over inundated with self-confidence anyway, and this hit was hard and relentless and the feeling of failure hasn't gone away even though I've released another book and written a couple of novellas and today, finally, sent out a proposal for a series. 

At the end of the day, and at the end of this too-long post, I have to own my fear of failure and admit that there are parts of being a published author that haven't changed a lick in the 20-some years I've been one. I don't know whether I want to curse and wail again 😭 or if I should suck it up and be grateful to still be in this business that I sometimes hate almost as much as I love. 

Thanks for listening!




Monday, February 22, 2021

Excuse Me…Someone Is Gettin’ Busy Over Here! By Kathryn Hills #RomanceGems


It can be challenging to work from home. Trying to get everything accomplished, sticking to a schedule, meeting your deadlines with everyone and every distraction imaginable around you. Now imagine you’re a romance author that writes SPICY.

I begin each morning before dawn. Up early so I can get my wordcount in. Pour my coffee, sit down with my laptop… Hang on, a dog needs to go out. That’s okay, I haven’t started writing yet. Wait, it’s snowing again. Now the dog is stuck somewhere in the yard. Boots on, coat. Can’t find my gloves. Sorry neighbors for the scary writer lady in the robe, carrying a Dachshund through the snowstorm. What a visual, right?

Phew… *deep breath*typing, and more typing* Until everyone is awake.


Have you ever read a HOT romance in a crowded place? Maybe a plane, a train, or in a coffee shop? Things are really going great until someone asks you a question. But what if you’re the author attempting to craft that wonderfully romantic, super-sexy love scene with others around you?

…He smiled. That crocked smile she knew and loved. Leaning down, he swept his tongue across her… 

“Has anyone seen my phone?”

“Excuse me…someone is gettin’ busy over here!”
Hahaha.

So, tell me…what’s it like working from your home? I’d love to hear your stories. You know…because we all adore those Zoom crashing kids or the guy with the cat filter stuck on. 😊

Thanks for joining me today!

 

February And its Happenings!

 



By: Marcia King-Gamble

www.lovemarcia.com

In this month of both love and black history I thought I might share some interesting findings that may be fact or fiction.

First let’s start with how Valentine’s Day came about. 

One story is that St. Valentine’s was a Roman priest in the year 3AD. Emperor Claudius the 2nd had banned marriages as he felt such a union made for bad soldiers. Valentine didn’t agree and performed marriages in secret. He wore a ring with Cupid on it which helped identify him. In a precursor to greeting cards, he gave out paper hearts to remind Christians of their love for God.  When he was caught, he was thrown in jail.  There, he fell in love with the jailer’s daughter. Some say through a miracle he cured her of her blindness. On the day he was to be beheaded he sent her a note” From your Valentine”.



It is also said the first Valentine’s Day was celebrated in the year 496, and it is thought to originate from a Roman festival called Lupercalia, which happened mid-February, and was an ode to Spring. As part of the celebration, boys drew girls‘names from a box, and for the length of the festival they dated them; some of these dates led to marriage. The church later stepped in and turned the festival into a Christian celebration which encompassed St. Valentine’s as well.

But what truly solidifies Valentine’s as a day of love, is a poem by medieval poet Geoffrey Chaucer.  His Poem Parliament of Fowls written in the late 14th century describes a group of birds that gather in the early spring on ‘seynt valentine’s day' to choose their mate for the year.  The poem is a humorous and at times philosophical exploration of the idea of love. The middle ages was a time of courtly love and romantic partnerships were celebrated by poetry, songs, and paintings.  By the end of the 15th century, the word ‘Valentine’ was being used to describe lovers.




Since this is also Black History month, I thought I might share some unknown or rather uncelebrated Black inventors.

First up, Sarah Boone who improved on the original version of the ironing board which initially was a horizontal wooden block patented in 1858. In 1892 Boone’s updated invention featured the narrower more curved design we use today.

In 1966 Mary Van Brittan Brown invented the first home security system. Her husband worked at night and she was often alone. The camera device was attached to her peephole. A microphone was added and so were buttons to open the door and contact the police.

Then there was Garrett Morgan who invented the three-light traffic light – otherwise known as the yellow light. He’d witnessed an awful accident and felt a yield component was important.

Refrigerated trucks were the brainchild of Frederick McKinley Jones. This helped to preserve blood, food and supplies during the war.

Automatic elevator doors were invented by Alexander Miles in 1887 after his child almost fell down the shaft; a common happening in those days of manually having to shut the shaft and elevator doors.

Then there’s Jan E. Matzeliger who we have to thank for the automated machine that attached the upper part of a shoe to its sole. Previously shoes were handsewn, and only about 50 were generated per day. With this invention, 700 or more could be made on an average day, making shoes more affordable for average Joe.

 That my readers is your black history lesson today.

Coming soon is an updated version of my 2003 Women’s Fiction release This Way Home with a new cover.  Order and let me know what you think. It’s based off the Marla Hanson story; the model who was mugged in Central Park and her face slashed. Find it on Amazon and B&N. No link yet.



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 former travel industry executive has spent most of life in the United States. A National Bestselling author, Marcia has penned over 34 books and 8 novellas. She has contributed to Michael Fiore’s DigitalRomanceInc and served as a moderator on the now defunct eHarmony advice boards.  Having witnessed the bad, the ugly, and the not so good in relationships, she still prefers to write about happily ever after. Caring for her animal family keeps her grounded and sane.

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

Be sure to join her newsletter mailing list.

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Saturday, February 20, 2021

Enduring Love

By Caroline Clemmons


Years ago there was a comedy segment on Saturday Night Live called “That Was The Week That Was.” I don’t watch SNL so I don’t know if they still have that bit. I doubt it. Here is my version:

I had an asthma attack that would not improve. Even using my breathing machine didn’t help much. I’d been on oxygen a few days and that helped. 

Then the power went off.

I know other parts of the country deal with this problem every winter. The thing is, here in North Central Texas we are not accustomed to snow and power outages. It’s been six years since we had a measurable snowfall in Fort Worth.

We don’t have generators and snow blowers and all the snow toys of further north. When something like this happens, we are stuck. Hero and I tried to tough out the storm. We piled comforters on the bed and I stayed in bed. Hero wouldn’t—he prowled the house to make sure it was all right. He checked on me to make sure my oxygen level was high enough. Yep, he’s a worrier/warrior.

Our daughter across town had power, so we went to her house. Another storm was predicted so we hurried. That meant we didn’t really prepare as well as we thought we had. And I ran out of oxygen.

My level dropped way below where I was supposed to go to the ER. Hero tried to get more oxygen delivered. With the snowstorm the company wouldn’t send anyone. They patched him to the EMS, who brought oxygen for me to use until the ambulance arrived.

Yes, I had to go to the hospital. The staff members at Baylor/All Saints/Scott and White were wonderful. The main problem was overcrowding. I spent part of the day on a gurney in the hall.

Unfortunately, we came home to several inches of water from a burst pipe. Our neighbor had thought he turned off our water for us. How were any of us to know the shut off valve to the city didn't work? Our wonderful neighbors came over and used our shop vac to clean up the water. Hero found the leak in our ice maker and we have water again. See how clever he is? 

You are probably wondering what all this has to do with Love In Bloom. Here you have a man who has Parkinson’s but who is busy taking care of me. The late Erma Bombeck expressed that this is true love, not the flowery Romeo and Juliet stories. Enduring love means you care about the other person more than yourself.

Hero and I have been married a lot of years. He still makes my toes curl when he kisses me. He knows the meaning of the word LOVE. I’m so lucky to be married to him.

  


Friday, February 19, 2021

Cupid Shot Me... #lucindarace

 Hello again,

 

Nine years ago, on February 11, my hubs proposed to me on a bitter, cold swept afternoon in Newport Rhode Island, King Park to be exact. Now, that date will always be special in my heart. 

 

We were shivering as we sat on “our bench”. I was shocked he wanted to just sit there and watch the waves. It’s nice on a warm day but in February, not so much. He’s definitely a traditional kind of guy, dropping to one knee as he held out a beautiful engagement ring and asked me to be his wife. Tears were dried before they froze on my cheeks and I said, YES! That was the beginning of our next great adventure. 

 

We had been friends for many years, our kids went to the same schools and we often talked about what they were up to, never dreaming that we’d fall in love and our lives would go in a new direction. Four short months later we got married in that same park, in the gazebo a few short feet from where he proposed. It was a small, heart-felt ceremony with close family and a few dear friends but it was perfect for us.

 

As we celebrated our engagement anniversary and Valentine’s Day I was reminded why I love writing romance, real love, like what I write in my books, adds an intangible richness to our lives, a sense of what is possible with the right person by your side through the ups and downs. But it’s not just about romantic love; my daughters, family and true friends ride the crazy rollercoaster with me. All of the people who surround me add joy and zest to my life. 



Meanwhile, I’ve been super busy in the writing cave, well not so much a cave as my pretty office, with Cinderella blue walls, white lace curtains and a beautiful blue floral rug. However as pretty as the office is, my desk is a hot mess. Hand and face lotion as the dry winter air is making me look 150 years old, water on one side and coffee on the other, a box of tissues and legal pads and pens along with hot pink post it notes. All essentials for writing romance books. 

 

Speaking of books things are busy in the editing and publishing world. Blends and Breathe are releasing in March, Crush, book 2 will be mid-May and I’m editing Blush, book 3. I’ve also drafted a Christmas novel, Holly Berries and Hockey Pucks, to be released in November but it needs lots of editing to be ready for your reading pleasure. 


 

But back to the Crescent Lake Winery Series… I am so excited to share this series with you. I came up with the idea when I was released Ready to Soar, Book 5 in The Loudon Series, it’s blast from the past where I introduce the Price family and the winery.  



 

In tasty news, I wanted to share with you, my homemade chocolate pudding recipe. It is so easy, delicious and creamy you just have to make it.

 

Easy Pudding 

1 cup sugar

¼ cup corn starch 

¼ cup salt

3 cups whole milk

4 egg yolks 

1 teaspoon vanilla 

2 tablespoons butter 

8 oz semisweet chocolate chips 


*Use brown sugar for butterscotch pudding – skip the chocolate chips. 

Or leave it plain for a delicious vanilla pudding. 

 

Whisk together sugar, corn starch, salt milk and egg yolks. Bring to a boil over medium heat whisking constantly (6-8 minutes). When it is thickened remove from heat and stir in chips. Put in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap, chill a couple of hours and then be prepared for your taste buds to weep. Yup, it’s that good. 


So until next month, 

I wish you good health, happiness and love 


Lucinda 

 

Thursday, February 18, 2021

All Good Gifts by @karilemor #RomanceGems

 

As Valentine's Day comes and goes, we think about the gifts we give and get. Cards. Chocolate. Flowers. Jewelry. A sports car. WHAT?  No wait, unless you want to give me a sports car. I certainly wouldn’t refuse it.




But seriously, thinking about the years when hub and I would give each other gifts (we don’t any more due to finances and it’s certainly less stressful that way) and what I wanted versus what I got. My husband can, at times, be romantic, but most times Valentine’s Day was a quickly rushed purchase.

For the longest time, he would buy me a big heart-shaped box of chocolates. And most people would think that was great. But as a picky eater (and someone who hates nuts of any kind) many of the chocolates I didn’t like. Thus, he would get to eat all the ones I didn’t. Which was most of them.

Finally, after years of getting maybe three or four of the twenty plus chocolates in the box, plus the box of chocolate covered cherries I bought for him (his favorite) I let him know I really didn’t want chocolates for Valentine’s Day. I would much prefer flowers.

So then I’d get the rushed grocery store bouquet that he picked up when he got his beer. Better, but it took many more years before he (occasionally) went all out and got me my favorite – peach roses.

Honestly, though, I am very thankful I have a husband who stands by my side and supports me in all I do, even if he isn’t the most romantic man in the world. To his credit, he has done some incredibly romantic things (look back and see last year’s post in Feb from me)

This year, we are in sunny Florida enjoying the nicer weather instead of shoveling two feet of snow in ten-degree weather. That’s a lovely present in my book. What I would love more than anything is peace and harmony and health in a world gone crazy.

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

Kari

 


As always, I have lots of books you can buy and here are some of the places you can find me and them.

 

FB         Twitter           Instagram         website 

PS if you join my FB group The Lit Lounge, there’s a post with a FREE prequel to one of my romantic suspense books.

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

The Fun (and Challenge) in Writing a Family Saga Series by Nancy Fraser

Organization. It's a darned good thing it's one of my strengths. Creating a six-book series, in a fictitious setting where each book leads into the next, and the characters recur in each subsequent book, requires a few intricate spreadsheets.



First, the family tree. To know where you're going, you have to know where you come from.

A timeline, so that every story falls into the right time period. If book one starts in spring of 1865, and the story goes six months, and the heroine is two months pregnant at the end of the story ... well, let's just say ... when she gives birth in book two, it better be the correct number of months later! The same goes for each subsequent story, picking up the "family" activities where they left off the time before.

A town directory. Or, in the case of my Love's a Gamble series, three towns. Each with their own sheriff or marshal, hotel, saloon, storekeeper, banker, and assorted recurring citizens.

Developing the setting required research of the area post-Civil War. My collection of materials probably rivals what you'd find in library. Creating my own little world has been both a challenge and blessing. I've come to know these people, developed respect for my strong heroines, fallen in love with my heroes (who doesn't). I've cried with them, laughed at their inside jokes, rejoiced in the extension of the family legacy, and fretted over how I'm going to handle the most challenging aspect of bringing the series to a close.

I can't imagine not becoming involved in their fictitious lives to the point that a goodbye will bittersweet. Which is probably why I took the original three stories and threw in enough compelling secondary characters to create three more books. Who knows? Maybe I'll slide in a few more along the way.

~ ~ ~

Here's a peek at His Marriage Gamble ~ Love's a Gamble, Book 2:

Felicity Beaumont, the rebellious daughter of Louisiana elite devises a plan to move her father’s illegally owned slaves north to safety using the gambling river boat known as the Lucky Lady. Dressed as a young farm boy, she attempts to sell family heirlooms to raise the funds she needs. Short the full amount, she continues her ruse and bargains her way aboard the boat as their chaperone.

Charismatic owner of the Lucky Lady, Jake McAlister doesn’t trust women, and when he discovers Felicity’s subterfuge, he remembers exactly why.

While they find themselves in agreement about helping the free men and women, they are at odds over everything else, including their quickly escalating feelings for one another. When caught between Felicity’s powerful father and the ire of a local judge, they’re forced into a marriage neither wanted.

Can they make the best of a bad situation? And, will gambling on love be a bust or reap them both a happily ever after?

~ ~ ~



His Marriage Gamble is on release-week sale for just 99¢

I'd love to hear from both our readers and authors: How hard do you find it to leave the book behind? Do you miss the characters? Or, are you ready to move on?

Until next month, stay safe, stay happy, stay well read!

Nancy

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Looking Back on 2020 @ConstanceBretes #romancegems

 

This past year was not a good year for me. Most of my problems were medical in nature but nothing to do with Covid19. However, between my medical problems, healing, and the quarantine caused by Covid19, I worked on my hobbies.

What hobbies do I have? Well, Basket weaving is my most favorite hobby, I enjoy creating unique baskets with various handles.


Another hobby I started this year is diamond painting. Here is my current work in progress. If you don’t know what diamond painting is, you use a pen to dip in glue, then pick up a diamond piece, and apply it to the appropriate letter, number or symbol on the sticky canvas. It’s like painting by numbers.


Another hobby that I spend less time doing is playing the piano. As a young adult, I took 6 years of piano lessons and loved it. I like to play jazzy pieces, as well as some classical pieces, contemporary pieces, and what I love to play are the hardest pieces to play, they are hymns from an old hymnal book.


I haven’t spent any time writing during the year 2020, my desire to write has taken a back seat to everything else going on, but I have spent time with my editor editing my military book that will be release soon. What would taken 6 months of editing and preparing a book for publication has taken over a year because of my setbacks, but my publisher is a small business publisher and she has also had her share of medical problems.


Anyway, thought I’d share some of my hobbies and let you know that I do have another book coming out soon, when we decide on a book cover and the tag line I will let everyone know! Here’s a draft of the blurb. It's called: Operation Code Name: Desert Love

Clarissa is caught in the crosshairs of insurgents in Afghanistan with two other people. Held hostage by Taliban wannabes, she can only hope that her father, Chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff, will send in his best men, most specifically, Len Roberts, of the Delta Force, to rescue them.

Returning to the base in Afghanistan after a mission to take out an important Taliban leader, Len received the news and the order, to rescue Clarissa and her friends from the insurgents.

Len knows that when he shows up to rescue Clarissa, she will be angry at him and her father, for choosing him to rescue her. Since the last time he saw her, it did not end on good terms.

Will he rescue her before the insurgents kill her? And if he did rescue her, will they be able to control the passion that stands between them?

Check out my other books at https:/constancebretes.com

Monday, February 15, 2021

Romancing Cupid at Birthday Time by @BonnieEdwards #RomanceGems

Valentine’s Day has come and gone. Chocolates have been eaten and roses have been sighed over. My birthday comes just before Valentine’s Day and by the time I was involved with the man I would marry, I begged him to NEVER get me another heart-shaped box of chocolates for my birthday. He’s always respected my wishes. It’s not that I don’t like the idea of a special day to celebrate romantic love, it’s just too close to my day, and as I get older, I sigh with relief when the world returns to normal and all the red hearts disappear. Because that means I can forget about my birthday, too. 


This year’s birthday was significant. Because of the pandemic, I was home for it…normally we’d be away in a sunny climate somewhere in the world. With browsing in stores not a reasonable option for birthday shopping, the family was stumped. What to do? What to do? One daughter ran hither and yon looking for a perfect robe…but, alas, with Christmas inventory a distant memory and robes not being a traditional Valentine’s gift, she couldn’t find one. Instead, when sandal weather approaches, we’ll go for pedicures together…distanced and masked…but it’ll be fun.




The other gifts were easier to find because of Valentine’s Day. Gorgeous flowers are everywhere. And since I’m not usually at home for my birthday, I don’t ever get luscious bouquets. Until this year! Yes, beautiful red roses from my hero and my elder daughter dropped off this fabulous display.

And now, for a gift from a major ebook retailer, which shall remain nameless. But, it's the largest corporation in the world that delivers ebooks. Lately, they've become rather odd about what romance writers can advertise and when I wanted to place an ad on their site for a sweet and sassy romance that I've had for sale since 2012, I was surprised to learn it offended community standards and would no longer be allowed in ads. This book cover was rejected for sexual content. I appealed the decision and the answer still came back a resounding NO! They did tell me what the problem was, but I'm curious to see what you think it was. 


If I want to advertise my half-priced book, I'll have to incur the expense of purchasing a new cover. So, before I do, I'd like to know your thoughts on this image and give me your best guess on what, exactly, is overtly sexual about it? I see this cover as fun & flirty, but clearly, someone will be deeply offended. Somewhere, maybe, possibly...

If you're interested in purchasing Sweet Ride for only $1.99 (so I can splurge on a new cover) then it's here for your Kindle

And thank you for supporting an independent author who just wants to pass along a good deal and let people who are browsing for fun romances know about it. 

And happy reading!

Bonnie Edwards

Sunday, February 14, 2021

Small Town Girl. Small Town Romance. @MaddieJames #Romance Gems

HAPPY VALENTINE'S DAY! 

I hope your day is filled with love, happiness, roses, and chocolate!

***

I grew up in a small town, and I fell in love with a small-town boy in high school. While that didn't turn out to be the happily-ever-after I'd hoped for back then, I still believed in small town romance, and I've always loved reading and writing about them too.

My village (yes, it's officially a village) boasts of one stoplight, the post office, an IGA/gas station, a funeral home, a furniture store, a bar, a bakery, a couple of antique/craft shops, three churches, and nearly 700 people. Three years ago, we got a Dollar General store and man, do we feel uptown now.

There is a small village government that runs the town--some say they do a good job, others say not so much. Just on the outskirts, rests the cemetery and its inhabitants, generations of villagers who lived in this small town all of their lives. Next to it is the town park, complete with baseball diamond, a pond, and a picnic shelter. When I was a teenager, the annual Windmill festival was held there. When I was a little younger, the carnival would come to town every year and we basically had a street fair for a week. The road was shut down between the stoplight and the post office.

In junior high, my girlfriends and I would flirt with the carnival guys--you know, the young men who ran the Tilt-a-Whirl or the Ferris wheel. They were rough-and-tumble, usually greasy, sultry, and Alpha bad boy...and my twelve-year-old heart would pitter-patter when they winked. We would all giggle and secretly claim one for our very own, and then make-out with our pillows at night.

Sigh. Life was easy then.

My small-town guy and me, 1973
Now, small town life is not always hunky-dory, just like living anywhere else. However, just as we expect our romance novels to have a happily-ever-after ending, I think we sort of also expect our small town settings in a romance novel to darned near picture-perfect. Maybe. I think that's what I've done with my Harbor Falls Romance series. While the characters do have their own issues to solve or deal with, the town has remained that happy, constant, character for them all to fall back on.

I left my small town at eighteen when I went to college. It never occurred to me when I left that I wouldn't return to live there again for 42 years. But that is what happened. Circumstances brought me back three years ago--and right now, I'm very happy to live here again.

Oh, and remember that small town guy I fell in love with in high school? Well, circumstances happened with him, too. We reconnected, and he is truly my happily-ever-after, after all. Bonus: He still kisses just like he did in high school. :)  (no pillow-kissing now!)

***

If you are looking for a small town romance series, you can get the entire Harbor Falls series in one box set right now--for the month of February--only 99 cents. I know. That's insane, right? 

Click to choose your ebook retailer! 


The COMPLETE 15-BOOK HARBOR FALLS ROMANCE SERIES (Boxed Set). Over 1400 pages of sexy, small town romance fans and reviewers call "emotional and heartwarming."


Nestled in the rolling hills of the North Carolina Blue Ridge Mountains sits the small town of Harbor Falls--a town that boasts of a booming tourist industry laced with southern charm and grace, topped off with a host of quirky characters and one very busy chef and B&B owner by the name of Suzie Hart.

You'll meet Suzie in the first book of the series, All of My Heart. All Suzie wants is to run Sweet Hart Inn, write her cookbooks, and cook. After all, food is definitely her love language. What happens is an unexpected happily-ever-after for her, a television cooking show that puts her in the national spotlight, and a few happenstance matchmaking gigs that seals the deal on her local matchmaking celebrity.

Can this accidental matchmaker "perfectly match" the miss-matched couples of Harbor Falls?

***

Maddie James writes to silence the people in her head--if only they all wouldn't talk at once! Learn more about her books at www.maddiejames.org. 

Saturday, February 13, 2021

Other Hearts Whisper Back #RomanceGems

Tomorrow is Valentine's Day. It's the day that, as Laura mentioned on yesterday's post, the naysayers come out of the woodwork to "poke fun at romance."

It's the Romance Gems' day to celebrate love. All kinds of it--we all have families and friends--but especially romantic love. The single rose, dancing in the kitchen, walking two-by-two in the moonlight kind.

Come celebrate with us, if you will. Here are some of our favorite celebration books. We hope you try some--or all!--of them as part of your own Valentine's celebration, and we hope you enjoy them. 

Wishing you love from the Romance Gems. 


In Marcia King-Gamble's Ring in the MomentKeisha Wilson gets the surprise of her life when her boyfriend, Brian O'Connor dumps her, and right before one of the biggest holidays of the year. Brian gives no explanation, and although Keisha is hurt she has no choice but to move on. What else can she do?

Brian has never stopped loving Keisha, but he's reluctant to drag her into a mess. A past indiscretion has come back to haunt him, and until he can get that situation handled, he's in no position to make a commitment. But when Brian realizes that Keisha isn't going to sit home and mope, and he may lose her, he decides it's time to take action.

Portia, the woman back in his life, has other plans, She's not going to walk away without a fight. Brian. responsible as they come, has to take a hard line if he wants to win back Keisha.

But given Brian's secret, will Keisha take him back? Can love survive deception?

In By Heart, also by Marcia King-Gamble, Cynthia Lawsen (Cyndy) first introduced in By Design is totally off men. Her last romantic encounter was not a pleasant one. The only good that came of it was her beautiful son, Eli. Eli is her entire world until Jacques Moreau comes along. Half Algerian, sexy as they come, and a talented sculptor, he's everything Cyndy has dreamed of and thought she could never have. But Jacques has his own secrets, and she suspects he's in love with someone else. And although Cyndy knows he's completely out of her league, she's determined to live in the moment.

Jacques' goal is to sweep this delightful woman off her feet. But the elephant in the room remains --- the matter of the other woman or is it women? Is Cyndy a fool to hang in there, or should she move on and find someone completely monogamous?

Peggy Jaeger offers up 3 Wishes. Do wishes have expiration dates? Valentine's Day is chocolatier Chloe San Valentino's favorite day of the year. Not only is it the busiest day in her candy shop, Caramelle de Chloe, but it's also her birthday. Chloe's got a birthday wish list for the perfect man she pulls out every year: he'd fall in love with her in a heartbeat, he'd be someone who cares about people, and he'd have one blue eye and one green eye, just like her. So far, Chloe's fantasy man hasn't materialized, despite the matchmaking efforts of her big, close-knit Italian family. But this year for her big 3-0 birthday, she just might get her wish!


A Valentine's Day offering from the Christmas Town bunch is only $1.99! Gem Liz Flaherty's contribution in Be My Heartwarming Valentine is A Place to Hang Her Heart, but there are eight stories by Harlequin Heartwarming authors to...er...warm your heart. 

Christmas Town to the rescue!

An abnormally cold and snowy winter wreaked havoc in Christmas Town. Pipes froze, snowy roofs caved in, and even the famed gazebo in the town square was blown over! But the hardest hit was the historic town library, where pipes burst – flooding the main floor and destroying all the books and computers. While insurance helps, it won’t cover everything. Christmas Town’s solution?

Calling all bachelors!

The Knotty Elves decide a Valentine’s Day Bachelor Auction kills two birds with one stone – raising money to save the library while working their matchmaking magic. From a personal chef to the town’s snow plow operator, there’s one thing all these handsome, homespun heroes have in common: they’re about to find love, Christmas Town style.

Be sure to check out You Bet Your Valentine by Anna J Stewart, the prequel novella that starts all the Valentine’s Day fun!


Friday, February 12, 2021

How to Prepare for Valentine's Day Articles by Laura Hunsaker

With Valentine's Day coming up, I've decided to gird my loins and prepare for all of the obnoxious articles that poke fun at Romance. How, you ask? Well I'm aiming for comfort. I plan on grabbing my softest throw blanket and coziest socks and burying my nose in a book. 

I refuse to read one word about Fabio or Fifty Shades of Grey. Not because I hate them, but because I swear every single article written about Romance novels always includes Fabio (who hasn't been relevant in decades!) or Fifty Shades (Try a new book!) Or better yet try not bagging on Romance! Ugh, I'm worked up again. Okay back to being cozy. As we all know from my post on Hygge I am all about being cozy. 

My cozy no-negativity starter pack:




(Links are to amazon in case you want to create your own)

Soft cozy blanket

Cute Bullet Journal

Some Cool Gel Pens

Funny Coffee Mug

Fuzzy Socks

Enjoy your Valentine's Day and grab a book to read:) Books always make everything better. Here's my latest- DREAMS OF THE PAST a short story with a guaranteed happy ending and not a derogatory word about romance anywhere.

Happy Reading!



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… 


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