Monday, February 08, 2016

Katherine Garbera: The Valentine Gamble

Valentine's Day is one of my favorite holidays.  I mean who doesn't love a day that celebrates love.  From my earliest memories my Mom always made the holiday about love not about dates or having a date so I've never been upset if I didn't have a date on Valentine's Day.  She used to leave notes and presents on our beds (I have two sisters) and then we'd make a special dinner together to celebrate.

Not everyone thinks of Valentine's Day the same way.  But I have a calorie free treat for you this Valentine's Day.

The Valentine Gamble co-written with my good buddy Eve Gaddy.

Here's the blurb:
Johnny Gamble isn’t afraid of anything.  Except Fiona Lannigan’s effect on him.  It’s not just that she sees through his love ‘em and leave ‘em ways, she’s also his partner in Whiskey River’s most prestigious law firm.  He believes she deserves better than him until they “matched” at the annual Valentine’s Day dance and the night turns into one of the most romantic of his life.  Convincing him that he’s found a woman he doesn’t want to leave.
Fiona is all for a good time with Johnny.  There have been sparks between them from the beginning, but more than one night between the sheets isn’t in the cards. Or so she thinks, until Johnny turns on the romance.
Can Johnny convince Fiona that this is one Valentine’s Gamble worth taking?
Tell me your favorite thing about love to be entered to win a Cheryl's Cookie Card and e-book of The Valentine Gamble.  I'll announce the winner on next month's blog.

Kathy :)

Sunday, February 07, 2016

Valentine Giveaway!

Since this is February I thought I'd celebrate the time of year with a Valentine's Day gift for one of Tote Bags' visitors.

Two signed books - I've pictured a couple of recent ones but the winner can choose from my backlist - and some truly scrumptious raspberry infused Belgian chocolate from Choc On Choc, a company that produces amazing chocolate a couple of miles up the road from me in the historic village of Rode.

Do click on the link and take a look at some of the amazing stuff they make!

For a chance to win, all you have to do is leave a comment. Maybe tell us about your most special |(or awful) Valentine's Day. Or favourite chocolate. Or romantic movie. It's international so spread the word! I'll pick a winner on Tuesday (9th)

Meanwhile here's the famous -- make that infamous -- first date with my own best beloved, written for a Valentine's Day feature in a newspaper here in the UK.  (We’ve been married for 43) years.

Liz was late. She very nearly hadn’t come at all. Despite the fact that the annual Cinema Club Ball was the social highlight of the year, a blind-date was always a risk. But the manner of the invitation had been intriguing.  The torn half of a double ticket to the Ball delivered anonymously by messenger suggested a man with imagination, passion.

A man of mystery.

And she was a sucker for a mystery.

She glanced again at the torn card she was holding, the part that said, “The St Valentine’s...”

Someone had written “9 pm” in bold script across the corner. You could tell a lot about a man from his handwriting. This said ... strong, purposeful, determined.

But who was he?

She’d spent all week trying to figure out who could possibly have sent it. Who had the other half? The piece that said, “...Day Massacre Ball”?

She paused in the entrance to the Ballroom. The only lighting came from the strobe effect of the film projected against the walls that offered momentary glimpses of  faces, features flattened out  by the flickering monotone images making them hard to recognise. And the clothes didn’t help.

Everyone had taken the 1920s Chicago theme to heart. The girls were shimmying to the Charleston in their beaded flapper dresses, the men were anonymous, almost unrecognisable in gangster-era suits, their faces shaded by wide-brimmed hats.

Touching the band around her own forehead a little self-consciously, she peered into the darkness.

She still had time to cut and run, but even as she took an uncertain step back, a man’s arm reached out of the darkness, placing the matching piece of the ticket against the one she was holding. The hand that had written “9 pm”, matched the script. Strong...

‘I knew you’d come, doll,’ a voice, pure Humphrey Bogart, drawled out of the gloom, breaking into the thought and she looked up.

For a moment she didn’t recognise the figure in the pinstriped suit, fedora pulled down at a rakish angle. Then the light caught his face. It was vaguely familiar. She’d noticed him at a recent club meeting. John something....

Despite the pitch-perfect Bogie impression and darkly, handsome looks, her date didn’t quite match the actor’s dangerous aura. But then who could? And heck, it could have been a whole lot worse.

He could have been Edward G Robinson.

Don't forget to leave a comment - 
I'll pick a winner on Tuesday.

Saturday, February 06, 2016

Addison Fox: Hearts

“Hearts will never be practical until they can be made unbreakable. – The Wizard”
L. Frank Baum, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

It’s February and that often means our minds are drawn to images of love. From cupids to kisses, February is the month we are culturally awash in love. Center to that are images of the heart. Pink ones. Red ones. Cut out, or hand drawn.

But what about matters of the heart? Cliché or no, we humans spend our lives living with the urges of our hearts. Who we love. Who we hate. What we wish for our loved ones and ourselves. The worries we carry and the joys we keep tucked away.

I thought about this as I visited an older friend in the hospital last night. She’s unfortunately had a series of health problems that have had her in and out of the hospital. Her prognosis overall is quite good, but it’s still a painful time. When I walked into the room, a few other friends had arrived before me and it was so wonderful to see her face lit up, joy in not only the company but the time others had given to make the visit.

It was also a reminder to me that love of others comes in so many forms. At this time of year we often tend to focus on romantic love, but our capacity for love and affection is so much broader, with endless dimensions.

One of the joys I find in writing is that I explore on the page the various things I wonder about, question and seek answers to. I’m amazed how often my work channels the joy I have of family life or personal experiences I can’t yet fully articulate with my own words. Conversely, so often the writing helps me deal with a concern I have in life or a particular problem I’m working through.

I find the same experiences with reading. I’m always pleasantly surprised how a particular book can speak to me at a particular time, at the moment I need to hear it.

Those experiences with the written word help dimensionalize, at least for me, this experience of life. What is truly an individual journey for each of us is somehow made a bit easier knowing others travel the same path. Experience the same joys. Ask the same questions.

Clearly I’m a bit reflective today and I do appreciate you joining me! I’d love to hear what you’ve got planned for February and what you’re looking forward to this month.


Despite early ambitions of being a diver, a drummer or a doctor, Addison Fox happily discovered she was more suited to life as a writer. She lives in Dallas and - thankfully - doesn't have to operate on anyone. You can find her at her home on the web at Her next book, COLTON’S SURPRISE HEIR, will be out in February from Harlequin Romantic Suspense. You can visit her at her website at

Friday, February 05, 2016

Roxanne Snopek: Time For a Change

I’m getting my hair done on Friday. I’ve worn it long for quite some time now – usually in a ponytail or clip – and I’m a little tired of it. I tend to chicken out when it comes to major change, so I’ll probably just get a trim and color touch up. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, right?

"I like this just fine."

"Except I almost never wear it down, so why bother?"
But what if I want to make a major change? A purple streak? An asymmetrical layered bob? A pixie cut? Any suggestions?

I’ve tried a few different styles over the years and my three very fashionable daughters have provided much helpful feedback. “Don’t ever do that again, Mom,” is a favorite comment, when looking through old photos. “I love your hair exactly as it is,” my husband reminds me regularly. Very sweet, except for the glint of fear in his eye.

"Now THIS was a good hair day." Cue evil laugh

"Fantastic day. But not so much the hair."
Change can be scary – but it can be great, too.

My publisher is currently re-covering all the books in my first contemporary romance series, THREE RIVER RANCH. Two of the books are keeping the original art, but updating the look. And three of them have received total make-overs. And let me say, I love them all! What do you think? Do you have a favorite?

And, if you want to see what wild and crazy thing I did with my hair, pop by my Facebook page on Friday! 

Thursday, February 04, 2016

CJ Carmichael: So Many Books... So Little Time

When I was a kid growing up on a farm in Saskatchewan (think North Dakota, only less cutting-edge) it seemed I couldn’t get my hands on enough books. Our one-room school house (think Little House on the Prairie meets Lord of the Flies) received a rotating number of books every month from the local school library system. But I always plowed through those before the month was over. As a results I re-read my favorites many times over.

Those days are long over. Now it seems I am flooded with books. Every time I go on Facebook or Twitter, or visit Amazon, Kobo or Audible, I see dozens of books I’d love to read. And don’t get me started about Goodreads! Or bookstores!

The most amazing thing of all, is that having identified a book that interests me, I can have it purchased and downloaded to my Kobo, Kindle or iPad within five minutes (or less)!

Buying books is easy, fun…and addictive. But time to read them is increasingly scarce.
So…how to decide what to read next? For me I usually circulate among the following:
·        The monthly  reads chosen by the “Happy Bookers” my Calgary reading group
·        New releases from my favorite authors
·        New releases getting a lot of “buzz” on Goodreads, Publisher’s Weekly, or the Globe & Mail (think New York Times, Canadian style)
·        Older books I always meant to read…sometime
·        Classic titles I haven’t yet gotten around to

What about you? How do you decide which book you’re going to read next? Do you, for instance, pick up titles you see discussed on Facebook or Twitter? Do you receive author newsletters and buy a lot of books from those? Or do you subscribe to discount newsletters like Book Bub or ENT? And hey, does anyone browse actual book stores anymore?!? I do. Witness this photo taken in Portland this summer...

I really want to hear from you on this! To prove it, I have a lovely mug and totebag which I will be sending to one randomly chosen person who comments below with their top 3 ways of picking their next read. If your name is chosen you need to contact me with your mailing address (via Facebook or my website) so I can send you your prize! (Just follow the links under my name.)

Oh, and while I have your attention, why not enter my website contest for a grab bag of 10 books? (If you win you won’t have to worry about what to read next for a long time!)

Happy Reading!

C. J. Carmichael

Wednesday, February 03, 2016

Sally Kilpatrick: Bittersweet Creek & Shakespeare

O Romeo, Romeo! Wherefore art thou* Romeo? –Juliet, Romeo and Juliet
Julian McElroy, wherefore art thou* such an a$$hole? –Romy, Bittersweet Creek

Okay, I gave in. I melded my English major’s love of literature with my country girl’s desire to write a story about the rural area where I grew up. One of the things that’s always struck me about Shakespeare is how we view his works as highbrow now, but they were written for the common people. Shakespeare’s plays are full of wit and puns and carefully crafted dirty jokes, and there are very few things in this world that I love more than wit and puns and carefully crafted dirty jokes.

In Bittersweet Creek I give you Shakespeare. . . . with cows. I had a lot of fun with this one by translating feuding families to the south. The Satterfields drive Fords and like cats. The McElroys drive Chevorlets and prefer dogs. The Satterfields are by the book folk, but the McElroys like to bend the law. The Hatfields and the McCoys set off their feud with a stolen hog, but the Satterfields and the McElroys are going to finish their feud over an illegitimate calf. Romy and Julian have been drawn to each other since they were kids, but can they overcome the animosity of their families?

What’s your favorite version of Romeo and Juliet? Is there a Shakespearean play that you think deserves more love? Or can you share your favorite Shakespearean dirty joke? Answer any one of these questions in the comments below and consider yourself in the running for a copy of Bittersweet Creek. I’ll have one of those random number generators pick a name.

*A lot of folks think Juliet was asking where Romeo was. Really, “Wherefore art thou Romeo?” is closer to asking “Why do you have to be Romeo?” That should help you understand Romy, my heroine. She conducted her balcony scene, it should be noted, from the barn loft.

Sally Kilpatrick

Tuesday, February 02, 2016

Susan Sands: All the Things We Haven't Tried

I'm scheduled to speak at a women's service league meeting next month in the town where I've lived for the past twenty or so years. There will be around fifty women attending and they've invited me to sign books afterward. Public speaking for me is exactly like the old adage comparing it second only to the fear of death--or being covered in spiders, while walking through a pit of snakes, then being burned alive. I added the spiders and snakes for dramatic effect. But you get it. Not my thing.

Since publishing my first novel last June, I've been called upon and invited to do that thing which I so fear--and shockingly enough, it hasn't killed me yet. I've sat on panels at book festivals and spoken to countless book clubs. Not dead yet. I can even admit to enjoying much of it.

Now, I'm going to address a fairly large group and do my best to inspire. They will be mostly middle aged women like me. They all have high school aged sons, for sure, because this group is a service league that focuses efforts of mothers and sons working together to help those who need it in our community. How do you inspire? I've been thinking about this a lot. 

I was told they want to know about writing. But maybe it's not so much the writing as how I started writing. How I decided to take the first step in doing rather than just thinking of doing. I really doubt fifty women want to write. Women take care of others. We do for others first most often before allowing time to listen our inner voices that are often only whispers while everything around us roars for our attention. The whispers can be faint for many years, and as the children get older and demands on our time grow less, the whispers become louder and more insistent. The heart wants what it wants. The craving for creative release, ideas for for new pursuits, and things that we've longed to try somehow emerge if we allow them. We must allow them. But instead of waiting until everyone is full grown and the timing is perfectly perfect to begin a painting class, yoga, studying photography, cooking classes, or whatever it is you've always wanted to try--do it now. Please. Figure out a way to carve an hour or two a week and try something new, something you've dreamed about. Something only for yourself. Even if it's an online class or Pinterest.

I charge everyone, not only women, to find joy in something of your own, something that feeds you beyond obligation. I write. I started when I turned forty. I also began painting classes, and cooking even more madly (which my family appreciated). I found my voice in writing and it changed me for the better. I view the world differently, in the best possible ways.

I know this post is clunky in its wording, but it is earnest in sentiment.


Susan Sands
Author of Again, Alabama and
Love, Alabama (April 2016
Twitter: @SusanNoelSands
Blog:  Sweet Home Alpharetta at:

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Terri Brisbin: The Big 6-0!

So, yesterday was my birthday. And it was one of those birthdays that mark the end of a decade and the beginning of another -- I turned 60 yesterday.  I have to say that I remember when I thought that 40 was old. Then I turned 40. And I remember my father turning 49 and I thought that was old. Then I turned 50.

And now I'm 60 and I was thinking that 80 is old! But I just went to Ireland in the spring and was out-walked and out-lasted (and, dare I say, out-drank?! the spelling is bad but you get the idea!)  by a friend who celebrated her 80th birthday with us there! So, how old IS old?

Yes, it's all about your perspective in life.

I have friends and family members who make 60 look like 20. I have friends and know people who make 40 look like 70. It's amazing to me how much attitude determines your age. A life crisis doesn't hurt in changing your perspective, either.

The year I turned 50 was the best and worst in my life. I began with a celebration shared with some of my best friends. My oldest son married the love of his life. I was diagnosed with cancer. Most importantly, I was cured of cancer, too, in the same year.

But that year made me realize that nothing is guaranteed. Nothing is for certain. And the only thing you get out of life is what you choose - to do or not do.

And this last decade has been among my best -- my other two sons met the loves of their lives, two new grandbabies have been born, I spent almost a month in Scotland (on my own!), I went to Ireland for the first time, wrote more books than I even thought possible, met more readers, and have made many memories during those years.

Even more interesting to me is that I find I am making more plans for more things to do in the next decade....and trying to decide if I really am too old to dye my hair purple and turquoise.....

So, what's my age again? I'd say the body is definitely 60, the mind....somewhere around that, but emotionally I think I'm around 38.... How about you?

Happy Whatever Birthday You're Celebrating in 2016!!

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Kate Hewitt: Reading to Escape

As a reader as well as a writer I have different moods. Sometimes I’m up for a weighty, thought-provoking read, and at other times I prefer something to simply sweep me away. Lately life’s stresses and sorrows—my father died five weeks ago—made me want to escape with a good book into a world where a happy ending is guaranteed. I ended up reading several of Lucy Diamond’s chick lit books, which are not froth-only as they deal with some weighty issues, but do so with a light hand and a happy ending, and they were definitely the balm I needed.

There sometimes is an attitude in our culture that reading to escape is wrong, a ‘guilty pleasure’ it is often called. I’ve met countless woman who dismiss their reading choices as light or unimpressive with a shrug of their shoulders and a downward gaze, as if they’re ashamed they’re not reading War and Peace or the latest nonfiction bestseller every other day. I’ve even found myself doing it—when asked what I’m reading, I’ll pick the weightiest book I’ve read recently rather than the bit of frothy fun I’ve just devoured. And even worse, I sometimes do it as a writer, especially with some of the academic-types I meet living close to Oxford and its prestigious university.

‘What kind of books do you write?’ someone will ask me, and I will shrug my shoulders and dismiss my career as ‘the kind of book you find in the supermarket’—as if that makes it a lesser thing.

One of my (many!) New Year’s resolutions is to stop this bad habit of semi-apologizing for my reading and writing choices. Reading to escape, and writing to offer that escape, is not only acceptable, it’s necessary. 2015 was one of the most difficult years of my life and if I hadn’t had the reprieve from reality offered through various novels—Harlequin Presents, chick lit, and other ‘light’ books—I  think I might have exploded with stress. I’m grateful to the writers who give me books that take me away from my current worries and leave me with a smile on my face.
And if you’re looking for a new escapist read, you can try one of my releases: The Emigrants Trilogy is the kind of historical saga that hopefully sweeps you away, and my March release, Falling Hard, kicks off a series set in small town Upstate New York.

Also if you a book you’ve read recently that you’d like to recommend, let me know in the comments. I’d love to hear about it!

Happy Reading,


Friday, January 29, 2016

Michelle Monkou: Not Another Billionaire Hero - Oh, Yes, Indeed

It's 2016 and already my e-reader is chock full of great reads. As I head for Florida to a writing retreat weekend, I also look forward to some reading time with the beach and ocean views to enhance the experience.

And in my TBR pile, I do have a few titles with one of my favorite hero types -- billionaires.

What's the attraction?

Think back to that moment not too long ago when the lottery winnings had zoomed within reach of a billion. Participants who played the lottery were excited at the rare what if scenario.

People fantasized about what they would do with their winnings. They also entertained scenarios of telling off their bosses or simply vanishing from their homes with no forwarding address.

The world building that occurred on social media was entertaining. With this wealth, there were imagined freedoms to be enjoyed, exotic places to visit, unique dream houses to be built, and food and parties to mingle with the Who's Who. The imagination knew no limits.

That energy to visualize their happy place is the continued motivation to write my billionaire stories. . Even if the billionaire hero isn't comfortable with his wealth, the story is bound to have scenes that delve into the champagne and diamonds lifestyle.

And instead of reading the stories with a literal expectation, billionaire romances are to be enjoyed with a touch of humor and optimism.

Book Blurb:


Take a trip to Monaco and meet the Laurent brothers—Damien, Dane, Dallon. Seducing A Billionaire is three connected stories of this powerful dynasty that thrives in the high-end real estate market. While this next generation continues the Laurent legacy, they are also Monaco's eligible and downright sexy bachelors. Falling in love may not be on the agenda. Yet, romance knows no bounds when the right women—Anna, Yasmin, Nicola—seduces her man.
 The book is soon to be released on all digital platforms. Sign up for my newsletter or my Facebook Author page to stay updated on my goings on and the book release information.

Thank you

Michelle Monkou

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Social Media Book Club

As an author, a life long dream was to be picked up by a book club and have them pick your book. I'm not talking Oprah level book club, though....that would be great. I'm talking just a girl's night out, having fun discussing books. The small town book clubs.

When I got my first novel got picked up by a book club, I was so excited. They were from Harvard and had emailed me through my website. I sent them book marks, a tote bag, and some signed book plates before they had met. A couple of weeks later, I had received a photo of the book club holding up the book and the bags. It was so exciting.

Book club requests were few and far between and I appreciated them so much.

When social media took off about six years ago, I knew this would open up a whole new world for readers. It was going to open up a whole new world for me to connect with my readers. I put it out on my website and newsletters that I'd love to Skype with their book clubs and send some goodies along.

WOW! Did that little newsletter open up the doors to more and more book clubs. It's been amazing.

What I've seen lately that has been even more fun, are groups of readers who have met on Facebook through their favorite authors or favorite genres and formed online book clubs. It's been so fun seeing my readers come together in their own club and reading.

Do you have a book club? Are you a member of an online book club? What are you reading now?

One lucky comment will be picked to win a new Tonya Kappes tote!

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Eve Gaddy: The Valentine Gamble

I'm very excited to tell you that there's a new Whiskey River novella available February 3. As you can see from the title, it's a Valentine's Day novella, although Katherine and I think you'll enjoy it any time. For those of you familiar with Whiskey River, this is Johnny Gamble and Fiona Lannigan's story. Johnny and Fiona are partners in the law firm from Where There's A Will, the very first Whiskey River novella, Ryder Ford and Addison Wells' story.

What's a Valentine story without a kiss? Since the first kiss took place before the book started Katherine and I thought you might enjoy this kiss.

            “I always wear pretty lingerie, Johnny,” Fiona said. “So far nothing magical has happened.”
            “Maybe that’s because you have more no trespassing signs than an abandoned building,” he said. What was her deal? And why was he looking at Fiona and thinking of romance and not poker or business? He knew the answer. Damned wine and dinner had changed the way he saw her. Or rather reminded him very fiercely that she’d never been only a co-worker.
            From the moment she’d walked into his contracts class at the law school of the University of Texas, he’d been under her spell. Those long legs of hers and the short skirts she wore at work had kept him fully entrenched in the fantasy of someday until that night…one kiss. He had hung some mistletoe in the office and that was his downfall. He groaned.
            “Nothing,” he said. No way was he admitting that she’d tasted like the holidays that night. Eggnog and cinnamon and she smelled like home. Their lips had met and he’d forgotten to keep it casual, that they were partners; all he’d wanted was to toss her over his shoulder and carry her into his office and make love to her on his desk.
            But he’d pulled back and since then…well, things had been damned awkward for him. It was one thing to lust after a woman he was casually acquainted with, another entirely to be looking at Fiona and her cursed lingerie set and seeing her in his mind. Just that red balconette bra and those silky matching panties. Her thick blonde hair hanging around her shoulders and those pouty lips of hers beckoning him closer, calling his name…
            “Huh?” he asked, not really paying attention.
            “Snap out of it, Gamble. Carmen just buzzed to say your two o’clock is here. ”
            Johnny took a step closer to Fiona and reached around her to hit the intercom button on her phone. “Hey, Carmen, will you put them in the conference room and offer them a drink? I’ll be down in a few minutes. ”
            He disconnected the intercom but stayed where he was, close to Fiona. Her perfume was flowery and womanly. It did nothing to quell the desire he felt for her. It simply fanned the flames.
            “Are you wearing that to the dance?” he asked, motioning to the lingerie set.
            “None of your business,” she said.
            “Fair enough. I just. . .”
            “Just what? You’re the one who said that we had to work together and mistletoe kisses and wine in the office were mistakes,” she reminded him.
            He still felt that way. He’d let one woman into his life and that had been a mistake. He hadn’t been cut out for domesticity more than ten years ago and he was honest enough to admit that though he’d matured and grown as a lawyer, as a man he still didn’t feel ready for that. And he knew that dating Fiona didn’t mean marriage but there was something about her that had always made him want more. Much more.
            “I did,” Johnny said. “Your mouth has a way of making me forget. ”
            Her lips parted as she tipped her head back. “How does it do that?”
            “By making me remember how good it felt under mine,” he said.
            “Maybe it was the alcohol,” she said.
            “No, it was you,” he admitted.
            “You. ”
            He put his hand on her shoulder, caught a tendril of her silky hair between his thumb and forefinger and then lowered his head. The kiss was meant to be soft and light but a zing arched between them and he groaned as his blood started to flow heavier in his veins and his groin responded.
            Her lips parted under his and his tongue slid in to taste her. It definitely hadn’t been the alcohol that had enticed him. It was Fiona.
            Suddenly he realized the problem was that he’d been denying the both of them this. They wanted each other and he’d never been a coward about anything else.
            He lifted his head, rubbed his thumb over her bottom lip. “What do you say to a little wager?”
            “I’m game,” she said; her cheeks had a pretty pink flush on them.
            “If you don’t meet Mr. Right tomorrow night at the ball, we give it a shot,” he said.
            “A shot? Stop with the romance or I’ll melt into a puddle,” she said, stepping back to put some distance between them.
            “Do you need romance?” he asked.
            “If you have to ask then you’re not the man I thought you were,” she said.
            “I can bring the romance but I don’t really know Fiona the woman, just the hard-as-nails attorney. ”
            “If you can’t handle the challenge…”
            He threw his head back and laughed, then pulled her into his arms and kissed her hard and quick. He heard someone clearing his throat. He lifted his head and let Fiona’s hair drop from his fingers, stepping away from her to greet the intruder.
            “Damn, son, I know that we have a pretty open fraternization policy in the office, but you are meeting the Cole brothers and they aren’t patient men,” Ryder said from the doorway.
            “Mind your own business, Ford,” Fiona said. “Johnny, get back to work. ”
            Fiona moved behind her desk, all-professional now. She had tucked her lingerie back into the bag and chewed on her lower lip briefly.
            “Yes, ma’am,” he said, walking toward the door. “Oh, and Fiona?”
“Yes?” she asked one eyebrow arched at him.
            “Challenge accepted. ”

The Valentine Gamble is available for pre-order at your favorite digital outlet. Release date is February 3.

What's the most fun you ever had on Valentine's Day?

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Carole Mortimer: An Exciting New Year!

Hi, and a Happy New Year to Everyone!

I have a couple of exciting things happening this month. A $0.99 book deal, for 5 days only. The release of Claimed by the Marquis, 2nd book in my bestselling Regency Unlaced Series, on January 29th. Plus the pre-order of the 3rd book in the Regency Series, Taken by the Earl, will also be available at the end January.

The book deal first!

Renegade Alpha (Alpha 5) will be available at $0.99 from January 23rd to January 27th, on Amazon only. This is the 5th book in the Amazon #1 Bestselling Alpha series, and it also happens to be one of my favorite stories in the series. I just loved writing Lijah and Callie’s story!

I’ll put the Amazon link to this limited time only book deal at the bottom of the blog.

Lee asked me what urged me to want to write the Alpha series, and the answer is I had several storylines of hot (very!) romantic suspense buzzing around in my head, and the 8 books in the Alpha series are the result. I’ve had such fun writing them that I’m doing a spin-off series, called Knight Security, featuring the four brothers of Lily, the heroine in Savage Alpha (Alpha 8). There’s also an intro novella, Alexandre (Knight Security 0.5), coming out in a boxed set with four other great authors in February 2016, titled Rogues and Royals.

The 8th book and last book in the Alpha series, Savage Alpha, will be released March 2nd, and is now available for pre-order.

First book in the spin-off to the Alpha series, Asher (Knight Security 1), will be published in June 2016, preorder available March 2016.

Sorry to give you so much information regarding future releases, but 2016 looks like being just as exciting as 2015, with a book being published almost every month throughout the year.

What can I say, I simply love writing romances!

Have a great January,

You can find Renegade Alpha (Alpha 5) on Amazon

Newsletter: www.epurl/2rfzz

Carole Mortimer has written over 200 books in the contemporary and Regency genres, most recently the bestselling contemporary Alpha, and Regency Unlaced series.
Carole is Recipient of the 2015 Romance Writers of America Lifetime Achievement Award, a USA Today Bestselling Author, Entertainment Weekly Top 10 Romance Author, 2014 Romantic Times Pioneer or Romance, and in 2012 was recognized by Queen Elizabeth II for her ‘outstanding service to literature’.
She is very happily married to Peter, they have 6 sons, and live on the beautiful Isle of Man.


Saturday, January 23, 2016

Getting Organized for 2016

one of my favorite prints inspires me every day
Hi, everyone! I'm Kristina Knight, and although I have blogged here a time or two before, I'm really excited to be here as a regular! I'll be here on the 23rd of each month, talking about writing and books I've read and whatever else pops into my head. What's on my mind today?

Office space.

Since we moved into the new house (6 years ago, but I remember the boxes like it was yesterday), my office space has been a giant layout desk from my father-in-law's newspaper. It was over six feet long which gave me a ton of room to spread my mess my writing out, figure out plotting or characterization points and edit. The only problem was that desk was in our living room so any time people would come over I would have to shove everything into drawers or boxes...and things never came back the same. Add to that an inquisitive toddler-now-elementary student and you can imagine all the writing time I spent...well, not writing.

My goal for 2016 has been organization. I have a new planner (the Happy Planner from MAMBI), I needed a space that was just for my writing, not my writing and dinner parties and game nights and homework. RadioMan's office has been located in our extra bedroom since the move, but he's now working mostly outside the home, so I suggested a switch. And he bought it, bwahaha.

So the day after Christmas, we decided to start the move by just packing up some extra 'stuff' we both

had around our desks...and eight hours later his office was in mine and mine was in his. Yeah, we don't do things in small steps around here.

One of my favorite features on my new office is my new desk. Actually his old desk. I'd had plans to build a standing desk/craft table, and had we actually planned out the big switch I might have, but so far I'm liking this desk. It's a corner desk with a top shelf. It's got plenty of room for my folders and story notes...but when I want to craft (I love sewing/quilting), it's a simple thing to move everything to one side and quilt on the other.

my filing 'cabinet' is made of upside-down picture easels
My other creation is my new filing system. I don't know about you, but if I actually put things in a filing cabinet, I forget about them. And five years later find a dusty file and think - oh, yeah, that would have been a great project! So, I nixed the filing cabinet option for my business stuff (files on my WIPs, future story ideas, revision notes from my editors, etc) and created an 'open' filing system on the side of my big bookcase.

Added bonus: the files are now part of my decor and I love it! I just hung three small picture easels upside down so that the files would fit inside them. Very crisp and clean, and yet still a bit girlie and fun.

Inside the bookcase I have all my tools - a salted caramel candle, my Big Bang Theory LEGO set, various office supplies, and my 'ego' shelves - framed covers of all my books.

My office isn't perfect, but it is mine, and already I am noticing a difference in how I approach every writing day.

What about you? What organizational things are you doing this year?

Friday, January 22, 2016

My New Year’s Writing Resolution, Continued by Joanne Walsh

So January is almost done – how did I get on with my resolution to sit down every day first thing and write, with email and other distractions shut off?  Well, it hasn’t turned out to be quite that disciplined, but I am doing better and have accumulated 5,000 words more of my next novel.  And I have discovered something about myself and how I write best.

My big challenge is to balance what I do for a living—I work as a freelance book editor and writer—with my dream of writing romance. Therefore I have deadlines to meet, and also must immerse myself in other people’s novels as well as my own.  I realised I was struggling with that—becoming involved with other writers’ compelling characters, then having to tear myself away to go back into my own fictional world.  The structure of writing a little every day doesn’t work so well for me.  Instead, I have come up with a different plan, of one day writing for myself, one day doing freelance, and so on.  It seems to be rolling out okay.  I find I come back to my book feeling more energised and refreshed.

I am also talking a lot to the authors I work with and asking them for their tips about how to stay focused and produce.  I will be sharing my findings in my February blog.

You can email Joanne/Tessa about freelance editing at

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Barbara Ankrum: Five Lessons from 'The Martian'

It’s award season in Hollywood and I confess: I’m a movie geek. I love film and if I’m not reading or writing, I’m watching movies. Being an L.A. girl, I come from a family full of movie industry insiders going back a couple of generations and, continuing with my movie-geek son, who was just admitted into the Director’s Guild! As for me, I was an actress for many years when my kids were small and it’s no secret that acting was my first love. Then writing came along and handed me surprising control over my creative life. I ran with it and haven’t looked back.

Still, movies are my secret vice. I enjoy them, study them as storytelling vehicles, get lost in them emotionally and strive to write books that feel like them. So when “The Martian” hit the big screen, with (Golden Globe winner) Matt Damon, as Mark Wattney, I was all in.

Now let me just lay in here, that as I saw this movie, I was struggling with a lot of issues, including being behind on my word count on a current work in progress, recommitting to finishing an impossible difficult book– one whose first 150 pages I had already completely rewritten twice and still weren’t working—being on the brink of some major changes in my personal life (more on that in another post) and feeling generally overwhelmed and secretly hopeless about all of it.

In a nutshell, you have my prime reasons for escaping into a movie. 

And The Martian was pure escape: a thriller, sci-fi, man vs. nature blockbuster based on the amazing novel by Andy Weir. For me, it served, unexpectedly, as a much needed attitude adjustment.

So, for your consideration: here are five lessons I learned from Mark Wattney’s struggle to survive. Maybe it will inspire you, too, if you find yourself at the crux of challenges or change in 2016.

1.      Duck Tape Will Fix Anything

There is almost nothing that can’t be fixed with duct tape and a little sticky determination. While Wattney was struggling to survive on a hostile Mars, he improvised relentlessly, using both duct tape and his wit. If one thing didn’t work, he tried again.  He refused to give up. If he didn’t fix it, he died. High stakes, right? When I applied this to my own situation, especially that book that was killing my will to approach my keyboard, I realized it wasn’t the story that was the problem with my book. It was my reluctance to improvise and my willingness to give up the fight. I had quit before the duct tape miracle and I’d set the stakes too low.  After all, what if I was on Mars and fixing it was my only hope? (Hey, I’m a writer. I can trick myself this way!)

2.      Trust Your Own Instincts.
At every turn, Mark Wattney had to reinvent himself and reassess his situation and often take action against the best advice from the brainiacs of NASA. This reminded me that listening to the ‘experts’ who insist you that ‘you can’t’ might merely snuff your dreams. Or kill you, if you’re stuck on Mars. Who are all those ‘experts’ anyway and what do they know about how far I can go? Or you?

3.      Change Is Scary. And Necessary to Survival
Risk vs. Payoff.  Maybe the risks we take have a ceiling, artificially set by our circumstance. Sometimes, it’s easier and seems safer to stay put rather than to challenge ourselves or move forward with something new. Wattney was forced to push himself way past his comfort zone. His survival instinct drove him to do things he would never have risked on Earth.  But the alternative was slow death.  My avoidance/fear of the keyboard has only one certain outcome—the death of my writing career. (Well, if you put it that way!) To change is to adapt. Survival of the fittest, Baby!

4.      It’s Good To Have A Hobby.
All that gardening I did for years? Gold, if I get stuck on Mars without food. Or the apocalypse happens.  But Wattney was a botany genius who also dabbled in chemistry and electrical engineering, both of which helped him survive. That reminded me that while hard work and hyper-focus is good, a broader approach to my life is better. It’s important to feed the soul while doing the hard work. Writers call it filling the well. But many times, those things that I did for fun also fed my writing and life in unexpected ways.  Turns out, all that movie watching was not for nothing…

5.      Hang Onto Your Optimism
This might be the single most important element of survival in any situation. Staying positive can mean the difference between success and failure. Between striving and giving up. Staying optimistic about your chances means you love yourself enough to keep trying.
As director Alejandro González Iñárrutu (The Revenant) said, “You can do things with two emotions in your life. One is fear, the other is love. We choose love.”
Bravo to that.

Barbara Ankrum is the bestselling author of fourteen books, including her latest contemporary romance, CHOOSE ME, COWBOY, from Tule Publishing. Her bestselling western historical series, ‘Wild Western Hearts’ is available on all e-book platforms. Barbara has been twice nominated for RWA’s prestigious RITA Award. She’s the mom of two wonderful, grown children and she lives in Southern California with her sweet husband, two cats and her scruffy Toto-impersonator walking companion, Maggie.