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Monday, July 16, 2018

Dani Collins - Book Clubs Anyone?


Have you ever belonged to a book club? 


I've been part of two, both of which I enjoyed, but ultimately let die off when participation began to wane.

The first was in my old home town. My kids were a toddler and an infant. I needed female company and something to stimulate my brain!

We kept the group to a small bunch of women with kids of similar ages, although one gal brought her mother aboard which was fun. She became a bit of a matriarch for all us newer mothers, putting the trials of early parenting into perspective.

We often called our club a 'food club' instead of a book club. We brought pot luck and ate very well.

I enjoyed the company, but I realized very quickly that I am not only a romance writer, I'm very much a romance reader. We read a lot of books I like to call 'Oprah picks.' Some of them were actual Oprah picks, but a lot of them were important books. You were supposed to learn something. Or feel challenged. Definitely, the goal was to have something to discuss.

My contribution tended to be, "Well, that was depressing."

They kindly read a romance--I can't recall which one--and we all agreed that it was well written and satisfying, but they craved literary books and I craved romance. When we began skipping a month here and there because of our busy schedules, I recused myself and a couple of the gals continued on with a new bunch.

I didn't expect to join a book club again, but we moved. I arrived in a new small town and my kids were in school. I was working from home that first year and I needed friends. I started meeting with a handful of women and this time we called it a 'wine club.'

But the books were the same. They were well written, not always depressing, but rarely my cup of tea. Or glass of wine, as it were.

I stuck with it. I think there's value in reading outside romance and exposing myself to different genres, different voices, different types of storytelling. I am on board with all of that.

However, I'm also on board with enjoying my reading experience, rather than, as I once heard it called, 'Eating my cultural vegetables.' Romance is my chicken soup, but I was forcing cod liver oil down my throat with each of these important books.

Eventually we devolved into meeting for a glass of wine and skipping the reading and discussion. Then children in sports and other life events dissolved even that. I miss the company, but I don't miss being told what to read.

I didn't think I would join another book club, but along came Tule Publishing's Book Club.


You can join on Facebook here.


I think I may have found 'just right.' First, it's devoted to Tule's books, which are awesome romances, all the time. Second, I can visit anytime it works with my schedule. And, I can talk about books even if I haven't read them yet. It's okay to say, "I can't want for this one!" Or, "No, spoilers! It's on my TBR." Finally, I know I already have friends here, but we're open to everyone. I hope you'll join us. See you there!

USA Today Bestselling author Dani Collins writes for Harlequin Presents, Tule's Montana Born and herself. Her next book is In Too Deep, Book Three in her Blue Spruce Lodge series. Trigg discovers he has a 12 yo daughter when her aunt, Wren, takes the manager's position at the lodge. Tween drama and family angst ensues with adult conflict, confrontation and sexy times.

Read more about In Too Deep here.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Michelle Styleas: The #RomanceIncludesYou blitz opportunity for aspiring authors



In case you haven’t heard, Harlequin is currently doing an across all the lines submission blitz for underrepresented authors  --#romancesincludesyou. Authors who feel they are from underrepresented communities but are writing stories which fit Harlequin series guidelines have been invited to submit the first chapter and a synopsis between 11 July 2018 and 2 September 2018 with guaranteed feedback by 1 October 2018.  It should be stressed that the normal submission process (i.e. the one most authors have gone through) remains open to anyone to submit – that is the first three chapters plus a synopsis but with no guaranteed response date.
Harlequin is deliberately not defining underrepresented but if you look at #ownvoices, you will get an idea of what they are looking for. Basically there are some authors who have not bothered looking at or submitting to Harlequin because they wrongly feel a traditional publisher would not be interested. Publishers’ guidelines are always changing and Harlequin in the last year for several reasons has greatly widened its remit. It has gone from tacitly seeking to actively seeking diverse voices.  But those voices need be producing stories which fit the guidelines in other respects. In a drive to get these sorts of stories, the editors have initiated this blitz to raise awareness that they are actively seeking these stories.
For example, with Harlequin Historical, the eras which have the most global appeal are Georgian/Regency/Victorian, Medieval, Highlander and Viking. But how to get diverse voices in there? It means actively seeking out high status people who have been airbrushed from history. 
 In the late 18th century, John Perkins became the first black/biracial commissioned naval officer in the Royal Navy. The first black US commissioned naval officer did not happen until 1922 – over a 150 years later.   Perkins also was one of the highest prize- winning captains of his era as well as serving as a spy. The way naval officers became wealthy was through capturing ships and winning prizes. But he has been overlooked by many people.  Last month I went to the Maritime Museum of Liverpool’s Black Salt exhibit about black sailors in Britain, he had a two line mention --- I am not sure why as his story is fabulous.  British naval officers have been  mainstay heroes of the historical line for a long time, and a black British Regency naval officer is a fact of history, not some sort of multi-cultural fantasy. All it takes is one -- as authors of governess to duchess stories know.
 When I mentioned this on twitter, a Jamaican aspiring author said that she was tempted to use Perkins as a template for her hero but her feeling was no traditional publisher would be interested. I tried to gently explain that my gut instinct, having written for Harlequin Historical, was that the editors would be very interested, but they can’t buy these stories unless authors submit them.
Another overlooked Regency figure was Sake Dean Mahomed, an East India Company captain who became the first man to open an Indian restaurant in London (1810) and then he introduced the concept of shampoo (Indian head massage) to the Britain and the Western world through his spa in Bath and a well-respected member of that Regency community.  He also eloped with an Irish girl of respectable parentage when her parents objected to the match. The family settled in Bath and became wealthy off the spa trade. His grandson Frederick Akbar Mahomed became a famous surgeon at Guy’s Hospital in the Victorian era, making important contributions to the understanding high blood pressure as well as helping to pioneer what is now called collaborative clinical trials. Both these men could make excellent templates for diverse heroes for the historical line.
With Vikings, recent archaeological research has uncovered  a sub-Saharan Africa  woman buried in a cemetery dating from the era. The fact that she was buried points to her being fairly high status.  How or why she came to live in England is anyone’s guess but I suspect there was a romance involved.
I could go on and on about the possibilities but it is up to other authors to uncover these stories and tell them but Harlequin Historical is looking for stories with diverse characters as indeed are the other lines. You have to take the editors at their word on this.
So if all this intrigues you, go check out the Romance Includes You Blitz and submit your first chapter and synopsis before 2 September 2018. 
If you are not from an underrepresented group but really want to submit to Harlequin or do not feel your story will be ready in time, go through the normal channels and submit. They are always open to submissions and do buy from the slush pile
 NB I was bought from the slush pile so am perhaps biased in favour of this method but do not let anyone put you off from submitting by saying -- they don't buy... if you think your story fits their guidelines. My first book for them was a Roman era romance and at the time I submitted, they had not bought such era.

Michelle Styles writes warm, witty and intimate historical romances for Harlequin Historical in a wide range of time periods including Viking. Her most recent The Warrior's Viking Bride was published in March 2018. Her next Viking set romance Sent as the Viking's Bride will be published in January 2019. Her first published HH was The Gladiator's Honour (2005) and was the first time Harlequin had published a romance set that era. You can learn more about Michelle and her books on www.michellestyles.co.uk 

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Christina Hollis—Called To The Barre

A Pixabay runner— not me!
After a break of many months because my arthritis flared up, I’ve started running again. What I do is actually more like trundling, but it’s all movement! I use a treadmill, as the forest tracks around here are too uneven for my unusual gait. At first I had a manual treadmill, but my OH bought me an electric one for my birthday. It’s much easier than propelling the belt myself.
After my lay-off, I went right back to the beginning of the National Health Service’s Couch to 5K. You can find details of the nine-week beginners' course here.

The first sessions of the course are more walking than running, but no matter how inexperienced, you’re soon doing more running than walking. Then before you know it you’re running for ten, twenty, then eventually thirty minutes without a break.

I can recommend the NHS system, but it concentrates on improving heart health and stamina. Greatly daring, I signed up for a new adult ballet course in our village hall to work on my strength as well. Son No. One and DD joined too, although they’ve both got several advantages over me—youth and slenderness, for a start. Son in particular did ballet from the ages of five to eleven.

I was never one of those little girls who wanted to be a ballerina. Watching The Nutcracker at Christmas is about as far as my interest went, until Son became interested in dance. While ferrying him to and from classes, I discovered how much hard work is involved. 

This is NOT how I was doing it...
Adult ballet for absolute beginners like me wouldn’t be such a full-on experience, I told myself. Wrong!  The teacher said we’d use up to 700 calories in  the session, and she was right. We didn’t stop moving for the whole hour. I discovered I have no co-ordination, and poor balance. I found it very hard to copy the teacher’s movements. Moving my body in ways I’d never thought possible was like trying to organise jelly! 

It wasn't all pliés and glissés. We did floor exercises, too, to strengthen our core. That's a fancy way of saying we did all sorts of variations on sit-ups.

The lesson was painfully good fun.  I can’t wait for next week, although I was quite stiff this morning. I managed to jog a slow 3k before breakfast. If I try to get in a few minutes of ballet practise each day before next week’s session, maybe I’ll improve. Let’s face it, I couldn’t get any worse! 


When this blog is published I’ll be away at the Romantic Novelists’ Association Conference. I might not be able to answer comments straight away, but I’d love to hear if you've ever tried adult ballet, or other group keep-fit activities.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Trippin' with Holly and Susan—12



Susan Gable and I have done a series of videos about writing and books...and today's release, about where we set most of our books, Erie, PA.

Yes, Erie is Eriesistible! It's the setting in so many of my books, but more than that...it's home! Come see why we love it so much in today's trip!

You can go back and check out the first eleven videos on YouTube on my aptly named, Trippin' with Holly and Susan playlist.

We had so much fun making these videos and we'd love to have you come along...so climb in the backseat and come trippin' with us!

Holly

PS. Carry Her Heart is on sale, along with the 2nd book in the series, These Three Words.

And don't forget my new release Polished Off: A Maid in LA Mystery is out! Check out Quincy's newest adventure!


Join in the fun at:


Thursday, July 12, 2018

Ch-ch- changes with Kate Walker





Sometimes life just goes along as it always has – and sometimes things happen that are unexpected.  New things, different things happen, old – often loved things disappear and
for a while you can feel as if it’s never going to  settle down.
Summer – specially the month of July  - always seemed to be such a settled – and full month.  I had the Romantic Novelists’ Association Conference at the start of the month.   Then we would travel to Wales to teach at the fabulous Writers’ Holiday – add in a wedding anniversary to celebrate  and life was pretty full.     But this year, as I got to look at July,  it seemed so much quieter.
There is still the RNA Conference – I’m in the middle of packing and heading out for that as soon as I finish this post.  And (thank heaven!) there is still our wedding anniversary.  Officially it’s a ‘Sapphire’ anniversary, apparently – I know it’s a l-o-n-g time. (If you look up that ‘sapphire  anniversary it’s 45 years!! )  Sadly, the summer   Writers’  Holiday is now no  longer in existence so at first it seemed that there would be a long stretch of July that was going to be empty – calmer, but a hole in the year it seemed.
Until my DH wrote a book (with a friend who is an ex Met Detective )  called  The Crime Writers’ Casebook and he and the detective have been asked to do talks on this book in so many places. So after the conference  we’ll be heading to a couple of those talks. Not in Wales, but Yorkshire and Lincolnshire.  And  the publisher of that book asked me if   he could publish the 12 Point Guide to

https://www.amazon.com/Walkers-Point-Guide-Writing-Romance/dp/1847168051/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1531383138&sr=8-2
Writing Romance  which I’ve been self-publishing for a while.  That has worked well, but it has been tricky for some people to get hold of it – so I’ve worked with Emerald publishing and the new edition is coming out this month. I decided that this was a really good time to look at the original – which, amazingly,  came out  over ten years ago.  There was a lot of revising and updating that needed doing – so  I wanted that done before the new edition appeared.  


It’s all been done now and the new, revised and updated edition  has just been published.  It  will be in paperback and ebook format  - I just checked on Amazon  and they finally have it up on their site.  So one of the new things this month – just yesterday in fact – was an exciting book box delivery of the new edition.  I was thrilled to hold it in my hand  - it seems to be thicker and fuller – or perhaps that’s just the better paper and the binding.

I shall be running a few celebration posts on Facebook and my blog – so if you’re a writer who hopes to be published in romance, look out for those – there should be the chance of some giveaways.
Now I’m heading off to the RNA Conference. Tonight I’m  talking at Leeds Library on  a panel discussing  the Bronte Sisters and
Romance.  This is because of a book I wrote back in 2011  called The Return of The Stranger which was  a reworking of Wuthering Heights.  This has just come out in a new republished ebook format with a brand new cover   to match with the ones that Harlequin UK has recently updated.

See -    nothing stays the same.    There are always changes to look out for.

Another change coming up will be  soon - hopefully - when I get my web site revised and brought up to date. You can find the latest news on my blog and my Facebook page too.  And if you're interested in winning a  new copy of the 12 Point Guide  keep your eyes on those places too.





























































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































Sometimes life just goes along as it always has – and sometimes things happen that are


unexpected.  New things, different things happen, old – often loved things disappear and for a while you can feel as if it’s never going to  settle down.

Summer – specially the month of July  - always seemed to be such a settled – and full month.  I had the Romantic Novelists’ Association Conference at the start of the month.   Then we would travel to Wales to teach at the fabulous Writers’ Holiday – add in a wedding anniversary to celebrate  and life was pretty full.     But this year, as I got to look at July,  it seemed so much quieter.

There is still the RNA Conference – I’m in the middle of packing and heading out for that as soon as I finish this post.  And (thank heaven!) there is still our wedding anniversary.  Officially it’s a ‘Sapphire’ anniversary, apparently – I know it’s a l-o-n-g time. (If you look up that ‘sapphire  anniversary it’s 45 years!! )  Sadly, the summer   Writers’  Holiday is now no  longer in existence so at first it seemed that there would be a long stretch of July that was going to be empty – calmer, but a hole in the year it seemed.

Until my DH wrote a book (with a friend who is an ex Met Detective )  called  The Crime Writers’ Casebook and he and the detective have been asked to do talks on this book in so many places. So after the conference  we’ll be heading to a couple of those talks. Not in Wales, but Yorkshire and Lincolnshire.  And  the publisher of that book asked me if   he could published the 12 Point Guide to Writing Romance  which I’ve been self-publishing for a while.  That has worked well, but it has been tricky for some people to get hold of it – so I’ve worked with Emerald publishing and the new edition is coming out this month. I decided that this was a really good time to look at the original – which, amazingly,  came out  over ten years ago.  There was a lot of revising and updating that needed doing – so  I wanted that done before the new edition appeared. 

It’s all been done now and the new, revised and updated edition  has just been published.  It  will be in paperback and ebook format  - I just checked on Amazon  and they finally have it up on their site.  So one of the new things thins month – just yesterday in fact – was an exciting book box delivery of the new edition.  I was thrilled to hold it in my hand  - it seems to be thicker and fuller – or perhaps that’s just the better paper and the binding.

I shall be running a few celebration posts on Facebook and my blog – so if you’re a writer who hopes to be published in romance, look out for those – there should be the chance of some giveaways.

Now I’m heading off to the RNA Conference. Tonight I’m  talking at Leeds Library on  a panel discussing  the Bronte Sisters and Romance.  This is because of a book I wrote back in 2011  which was  a reworking of Wuthering Heights.  This has just come out in a new republished ebook format with a brand new cover   to match with the ones that Harlequin UK has recently updated.


See -    nothing stays the same.    There are always changes to look out for.

Monday, July 02, 2018

Susan Sands: Trying Something New

 Hello friends! I hope summer is going well so far. I love this time of year, partially because I'm not cold. But I mostly love it because there's a freedom that's a throwback from childhood and having summers off from school. No structure to the day, no place to be. It's carried over to adulthood for me as I've been a stay-at-home mom for years. Summers through the child-raising meant swimming, tennis, and chilling, with a few chore thrown in, for the most part. Until I began writing under contract a few years ago. Then, everything changed. Summer meant deadlines.

This year, by my own volition, I'm not on deadline to finish a book. I decided to take on a new project so different it has caused the writing to become excessively hard. Of course, I've had a helluva year as well, but this book is out of my comfort zone and so, so hard. I've recently come to the realization that I'm not doing what I do best. I've been trying to do what some other writers do well, but not what I do well. So, I've changed my goal for this book. I'm doing what I do. Don't get me wrong, this one has an awesome premise. It will be the best work I've ever done. But it likely won't be the book I thought I was going to write. It's going to be a mix of the two. A bigger book, but with my voice within my wheelhouse. I'm not somebody else. I'm Susan Sands and I write humorous Southern Lit. I've changed to a first person point of view for this one. The style is somewhat different, and so is the genre. Right now, it's not a romance. But in the end someone might fall in love. It's a journey book. A journey of a woman without a memory who must merge who she was with who she's been for eighteen years. It's a homegoing.

Stay tuned for more...

Now that I've decided these things about my story, I can't wait to write every day. I'm not avoiding my computer and spending all my time on social media instead of working. It has been an important breakthrough.

Have a fantastic Fourth of July, everyone!!

Susan Sands



Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Downsizing... Sort Of



My July book is The Forbidden Brother!
I’d never make it in a tiny house.

I’m clearing out my home this month as I’m contemplating a move. I’ve got furniture for sale to thin down what I own, and I’m dragging boxes out of storage to get rid of everything I don’t need. It’s so much tougher than it sounds.

Last week, I assured one of my sons that I wanted to get rid of everything I had boxed up in the attic. I figured if I didn’t look at it, I couldn’t get sucked into nostalgia or into thinking I might need something again. I had a vague idea that the paperwork was all from former jobs before I started writing romance. There were graduate school papers up there too, work that I’m proud of but since I probably won’t re-enter the academic world, it’s nothing I’ll need. Yet I feared that if I started looking through the boxes, I’d find things I wanted to keep. Sentimental memories of trips taken, friends that I don’t see anymore, you know the drill. So I gave an executive order to toss it all.

A few hours later, my son came downstairs with a photo of his brother as a toddler, the cutest picture imaginable. He said, “Are you sure you don’t want to check in the boxes first?”

There went my resolve! I had to dig through the old things, fearing I might throw away something vital. Yes, it ended up taking hours of my time, but it was really fun to walk down memory lane. I found photos from graduate school and remembered fun classes I took with people I haven’t seen in eons. A photo of a bear that I apparently saw in person in the Smoky Mountains and have no memory of. How could I forget photographing a bear in a tree? On the back of the photo, I wrote in ink, “The infamous bear!” Well apparently he was only infamous briefly as I’d forgotten all about him.

Thankfully, I did end up throwing away most of the box. Brilliant essays gone forever! All my carefully archived press releases written for my first job. All my memories from the time as a TV promotions director—in the recycle bins now. It would be easier if I could tell myself that I’ll always have the memories in my head, but if the bear is any indication, I actually don’t have a good mental record of the past! Maybe I should be glad that my life has been so wonderfully full I simply can’t recall all of it.

Win the follow-up to
The Forbidden Brother
I learned that it pays to have a strong son to help my cleaning endeavors. Also, that executive orders aren’t always a good idea given my faulty memory. And, as I sit here with a file folder full of old photos, I have learned that I’d never be a candidate for life in a tiny house. Who knows, there might be a book waiting to burst out of these old images, after all. I don’t want to miss out.

*** Tell me whether or not you’d be game to try living the tiny house trend, and I’ll give one random poster a copy of my August release, Wild Wyoming Nights! Learn more about all the McNeill Magnates stories at my website, and while you're there, make sure to enter my monthly contest.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Lara Temple: The Magic and Romance of Summer’s Solstice


Today is summer solstice! This day plays a role in the current book I’m working on, a Regency Highland romance that is part of a four book continuity series with three other lovely historical romance authors.

When my heroine, the plain and penniless widow Jo Langdale, has to comfort her new charge, the widowed Duke of Lochmore’s son, she tells him the tale of the magical mice – how summer’s solstice is the one the day in the year when magic descends on cats and mice and they remember that once in the distant past, before a wizard cursed the animals, they were friends.

And it is on the day of the annual Highland ball held at Lochmore that my heroine and my hero Benneit, the handsome, widowed, single-father Duke of Lochmore have their own magical moment of transformation...

Here is an excerpt from the Summer Solstice Ball…

Jo felt the guests staring as Benneit drew her onto the dance floor and her gaze fell to his shoes and her slippers, somehow moving to the lovely music. She did not recognize it – it was light and dream-like, as if the composer had crawled inside her head and listened to a long lost dream of hers as she had watched Benneit lead Bella and a dozen other beautiful women onto the dance floors of London, their hands in his, earning his smile and his charm and eventually his love.
It made little sense that he was dancing with her now, his hand warm on hers through her glove, his fingers shifting slightly on her waist as he guided her.
‘Are you counting your steps? You don’t need to, you dance beautifully.’ He said and there was laughter in his voice and something else she could not read. Was she embarrassing him? She looked up and smiled.
‘I’m sorry. I was listening to the music. It is so lovely. There is something so…wistful about waltzes. Sometimes I think they should be danced with eyes closed.’
‘If everyone did that it might wreak havoc on the dancefloor.’
‘That is a very practical consideration but not at all relevant to daydreams.’
‘Ah, this is day-dreaming Jo. What tale would unfold behind your lowered lids? Wizards and magical mice again?’
She shook her head, embarrassed to have even said as much, but he continued.
‘You could do that now – close your eyes and dream away.’ His voice sank, and there was heat in it but also a raw edge that brought with it the memory of that brief, wild embrace on the cliff path; the aftermath of fear and fury and the grasping at life.
She didn’t tell him that this time she did not want to close her eyes. That there was no daydream that could outdo this moment. It was a dream come real but with the bitter twist of all such dreams – it was still out of reach and all the more vicious for that chasm. She did not want the moment ruined by bitterness so she kept her smile and forced herself to look up from her contemplation of orange and blue pattern of his kilt.
It was a mistake. She had been warm before but the look she surprised in his eyes seared her skin. In this civilized setting the stark desire in his eyes reached out and grabbed her like a dog sinking its fangs into a rabbit.
‘Jo.’ His voice was so low she felt rather than heard the word, it reached her through his hands on her and the air around them. She could hardly feel her feet on the floor. Had no idea if she was dancing or suspended in his arms like a rag doll. All she could do was feel him; that she was already part of him.
Then the music slowed and the world returned – noisy, colorful, buzzing with chatter and laughter and the scuffing of shoes on the floor. It sounded strange, unrelated to her.
When his hands left her she made her way towards where the butler stood overseeing his small army of footmen. She wanted to be useful. Useful was where she was safe.




Author Contact Links
Facebook Author Page: www.facebook.com/LaraTempleAuthor
Twitter: @laratemple1
Amazon author page: http://amzn.to/2mWin9R

Wild Lords Series:
#1: Lord Hunter’s Cinderella Heiress: http://mybook.to/HuntersCinderella
#2: Lord Ravenscar’s Inconvenient Betrothal: http://mybook.to/Ravenscar
#3: Lord Stanton’s Last Mistress: http://mybook.to/Stanton

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Dani Collins: His Blushing Bride - Free!

I've been in a small fluster lately. My parents moved in with us back around Mother's Day.

Coincidentally, that was my husband's birthday this year. That's pretty much what every fifty-something man asks for his birthday, isn't it? That is mother-in-law move in with him? Actually, Mom has been doing a lot of the cooking, so he's genuinely quite happy. (I do next to zero, so...)

And it's not a health issue that caused this, so we're all grateful for that.

No, it was flooding. My parents came to us one night as a precaution. My dad was angry with himself that he didn't 'stay and fight it,' but that turned out to be a good thing. Those who stayed were evacuated in the middle of the night, some of them sound asleep and unaware that their bedrooms had an inch of water on the floor until they stood up.



My parents' house was surrounded by water for about twelve days. No injuries, no fatalities in the entire area, so that's another win! But my parents have a few more steps before they're approved to go back in. It's proceeding, slow but sure. As disasters go, this has all been fairly manageable. We keep focusing on the bright side and today I have another one.

I get to offer you a free eBook!

His Blushing Bride is a sweet and sexy romance between a playboy nerd and a virgin school teacher.

Piper and Bastian think they can have a no strings affair and promptly trip into love. I have a lot of favourite scenes in this one, but one of them is when Piper tries to lock Bastian out of the bathroom. I adore when a confirmed bachelor realizes he's an idiot. Don't you?

His Blushing Bride is free on all platforms for a limited time. Here are all the quick links:


Amazon:
US | CA | UK | AUS | Nook | iBooks | GooglePlay | Kobo  


His Blushing Bride is Book Four in my Love In Montana series. If you like to read in order, they go like this:

1) Hometown Hero
2) Blame the Mistletoe
3) The Bachelor's Baby
4) His Blushing Bride
4.5) Scorch*
5) His Christmas Miracle

*Scorch takes place in Glacier Creek, not Marietta, but Piper and Bastian come for a visit. 


Read more about this series here and enjoy!

Dani Collins is a USA Today Bestselling author of forty titles for Harlequin Presents, Tule's Montana Born, and herself. She lives in Canada with her husband and parents. So much for empty-nesting, but she's making the most of it! 

Join her newsletter and you'll receive a link for Cruel Summer, a short ebook she wrote for you, Dear Reader. 

Friday, June 15, 2018

A literary pilgrimage to Abbotsford by Michelle Styles

Over the years, I have enjoyed visiting houses where famous authors created their stories and found inspiration. Literary pilgrimages if you will. Recently  I took a literary  pilgrimage and visited Abbotsford, the home of Sir Walter Scott. While he can be a bit overlooked today, Sir Walter Scott was the first successful commercial novelist so it felt appropriate to visit his house. In his day and for decades afterwards, he was the world’s most popular novelist. In doing so, I was retracing the steps of other writers such Nathaniel Hawthorne and  Charlotte Bronte who had also come to see where the man wrote his books.
Abbotsford from the walled garden
Sir Walter Scott purchased the farmhouse and set out about refashioning it into a Scottish baron’s castle.  At the time, he was  the world’s most popular novelist. The main train station in Edinburgh — Waverley — is named after the novel which made his name, rather than the opposite.


A grandfather clock belonging to Scott
More than anyone else, he did much to popularize certain beliefs about Scotland and Scottish history. He loved Scotland and wanted others to love it to.  His novel Ivanhoe popularized the medieval period as a world populated by  brave knights and maidens who needed rescuing. i It also gave the world the image of Robin Hood as the Earl of Locksley. If you like romances set in the Highlands, again Scott is the writer ultimately responsible for popularizing this area and inspiring generations of writers.


Sir Walter Scott's marriage lines
He was such a Scottish patriot that he obtained permission from George IV to search for the Scottish crown jewels and then actually discovered them in a box in Edinburgh castle where they had been put a 100  years before when the Act of Union happened. Partly as a reward for the discovering the missing jewels, Sir Walter Scott became the mastermind behind George IV’s visit to Edinburgh which among other things resulted in  tartans and whiskey being legalized.
Unfortunately for Scott, shortly after his great triumph with George IV’s visit, his publisher went bankrupt. Because of how it worked back then, Scott also become bankrupt and had to go back to writing (as well as selling his Edinburgh property) to pay off the debts. 
He worked so hard that his health was damaged and he died  in the dining room in 1832.
An outfit belonging to Sir Walter Scott
Shortly afterwards, the family decided to open the house to visitors. They only showed the main public rooms, including Scott’s  wood paneled study while living in the rest of the house. Scott was a great collector of stuff — old armor, arms, books on the occult, locks of Robert Burns and Nelson’s hair etc. The library remains just as it was in  Scott’s day when they used to use it for entertaining.   There are  no bedrooms or backstairs areas open but they have significantly altered since Scott’s day. The main purpose of a visit to the house is to worship the genius of storytelling that was Sir Walter Scott.
He also landscaped the grounds and walled garden. On the day I visited there was a group of artists (including one in full artist regalia – beret and smock) painting in the garden. The grounds also host a number of adventure play areas for children and walks along the Tweed and through the woods Scott planted.
There is also a newish tea room (the food is good and reasonably priced)  above a small museum where items associated with Scott can be found, including his marriage lines to his wife. I will admit to never really having seen the proper document before. It is no wonder they went to simple licenses.  They also have a gift shop where  Scott’s books and inevitable Scottish shortbread is sold.
Apparently weddings are often held in the grounds and the former private area of the house has now become accommodation for guests. There is a
The house is quite close to Melrose Abbey where Robert the Bruce’s heart was buried. The name Abbotsford harkens back to the abbey. It is a forgotten corner of Scotland in many ways but well worth a trip.
In  Other News
My 27th historical romance  Sent as The Viking’s Bride has been accepted and will be published in January 2019. As it is set on the Scottish Islands of Jura and Colonsay, I feel grateful that Scott first popularized such things all those years ago.

Michelle Styles writes warm, witty and intimate historical romance set in a wide range of time periods, most recently Viking. You can read more about Michelle's books on www.michellestyles.co.uk