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Saturday, July 23, 2016

#WriteTip: Make Your Own Space

Kristina Knight's summer workspace: swim practice!
Follow a few authors on Instagram or Pinterest, and you'll find all kinds of writing and reading space boards. There are the pictures of amazing European and Asian libraries, DIY hacks to create the perfect office in everything from spare bedrooms to a small corner of the living room. Some authors have office spaces in renovated garages or backyard sheds. I saw one DIY project that involved a gazebo and butterfly bushes and lightning bugs...I'm still not sure how they trained the lightning bugs to stay in that particular area.

I don't write in any of those places, although I do have an office (in a spare bedroom of our house) with an actual door that actually closes (not that anyone bothers to stop at the closed door). But nine times out of ten, I don't write in there. This summer, most of my writing has been done at our YMCA pool because bebe made the swim team. That's my Apple Keyboard right up there, with a view to her favorite lane. I've written at our library, our Starbucks, on our back deck and in our living room, too, depending on my mood.

Because I write in so many different places, I thought it would be fun to ask some other writers where they get down to the business of writing books. Here's what they had to say:

Historical romance author Sharon Cullen said, "I don’t have an office and to be honest, while I’d love one, I don’t think I’d use it. I write in my recliner. LOL. I’ve trained myself to block out the TV and anything else going on. Up until last week (when we painted the room) I had research books piled up next to my chair and had created a mini-office. Now I’m trying to be a little more organized. I do plan on creating my own office once one of the kids moves out and I can snag their room. But I think I’ll always prefer my recliner."

Constance Phillips' - ready for writing!

"I have a spare bedroom in my home that is a designated office space. It's decorated with a lot of my favorite things, and I have a large monitor on my desk that I can plug my laptop into.  I think it works best because it's comfortable, quiet (if I want it to be) and my space," said Constance Phillips, contemporary and paranormal romance author.

Contemporary romance author Nicole Flockton writes in a variety of places, "I don't have a designated office. I have a desk set up in the corner of the living room and I usually write there," said Nicole. "I wear headphones and listen to a writing playlist that I've added to over the last couple years. Being summer I've also taken to writing at the roller rink when I take the kids to give them something to do."

"I prefer to write in my office, with the door closed, and with music playing softly in the background. For some reason, it acts like a time warp, and I get lost in the writing and get much more done," said Elley Arden, contemporary romance author.

Jill Kemerer's office - aren't those folders awesome?
Inspirational romance author Jill Kemerer goes the office route, too, and don't you love those folders!
I need some like that! "I write in a spare bedroom with oodles of fun office supplies in the closet. I have a large desk to spread out my planner, essential files and notes, and the door is usually open, unless l'm frazzled," said Jill.

"I have a home office but I never use it because it only  has 1 little window. I like to write anywhere that is bright and quiet. Generally that means I end up in my living room because it's full of windows, gets an amazing breeze in the summer, and a glorious nature view wherever I look. Sometimes I write on my front porch for the same reasons, and if I just need a change of pace I write in the dining area, but that is rare," said contemporary romance author Christine Warner.

Your turn readers (and authors), where is your favorite place to get lost in a book?

Kristina Knight's second book in her Billionaire Cowboys trilogy, What the Heiress Wants, is available now; book three will release in September. 

The Billionaire Cowboys trilogy by best-selling author Kristina Knight continues with What the Heiress Wants.

Denver publishing heiress Miranda Clayton craves more from life than society parties and shopping sprees, but her tycoon father refuses to take her seriously. Her solution? Beat him at his own game by going to work for his top competitor, Connor Reeves, in Las Vegas.


Connor isn't fooled by Miranda's new plan for a second. He knows exactly who she is; what he doesn't know is why she's pulling him into her games. After their first meeting, Connor knows what he wants - Miranda in his bed! But the more he's around his new vice president, the more he wants something deeper than a short-term fling. The question is does the lady want Connor - or his business?

Amazon  B&N  iBooks  Crimson Romance

You can find out more the book and Kristina on her website, and feel free to stalk follow her on FacebookTwitter or Instagram

Friday, July 22, 2016

Tessa Shapcott: Let Them Eat Cake!

I’ve just returned from attending the RNA’s annual summer conference, which this year took place at Lancaster University.  This is the UK’s equivalent of RWA.

The word from attending publishers and agents was that, in the UK romance fiction market, the overall trend continues to be escapism, so think city girl goes cosy—country cottages, seaside idylls, sewing bees and tearooms.  There must be touches of luxury, glamour and material comfort too.  The writers who succeed are those who can pick up and run with these themes and give them a fresh spin and a unique voice.  This ‘cupcake’ genre has a healthy pick-up overseas; one author, Alexandra Brown, showed how she had scored great success in North America with a series based around a knitting circle, and also in Indonesia with books set in an old-fashioned department store.

Cupcakes have dominated the romance market since around 2008-9 and show no sign of waning.  This doesn’t surprise me.  It feels like the world has been very unstable since then.  Recession, terrorism, war and mass migration surround us. No wonder women seek comfort in intensely feminine themes and dreams, tinged with nostalgia.  But I do sometimes wonder if this wanting to have our cake and eat it over and over again is leading agents and publishers to narrow their acquisition strategies and not take so many chances on talented new writers aiming at other romance genres.


Thursday, July 21, 2016

Barbara Ankrum: Summer Fun Facts!

July marks the beginning of the second half of the year. Vacation time. Lakes, beaches, mountains and RWA conferences. I didn’t make it to conference this year, but I definitely plan on finding some water nearby soon. You?

Summer is also the time when we take the books we’ve been piling up over the year and lose ourselves in their pages in the cool shade of a tree. Everything We Keep, by Kerry Londsdale is out in ebook format, and is one of the first ones I plan to read.  Jane Porter’s the Lost Sheenan’s Bride is high on my list, as well as Eloisa James’ latest novella A Gentleman Never Tells.  I–eh-hem—happen to have a beach read out this summer myself, but more on that later.

Since it’s too hot to think about anything too deep, I thought it might be fun to take this month’s blog and share a few things you didn’t know about me. So here goes:

1. I grew up loving animals—dogs, cats, you name it. But my big crush was on horses and my father, a closet cowboy, indulged me with riding lessons young, which only fueled my fire. I desperately wanted a horse of my own, but it wasn’t until I had graduated from high school that my parents moved to a farm in Tennessee and bought a couple of Tennessee Walkers for my younger sister and I.  Candy and I were inseparable when I wasn’t away at school or working. But on one particularly bad day, she kicked up her heels while racing up a mountain slope and tossed me off, breaking one of my vertebrae and cracking a shoulder blade. Needless to say, I was much more cautious after that and translated much of my love of horses into my books. I still, however, secretly think we (the horses and I) communicate psychically. I’m weird that way.



2. I’ve been lucky to be married to the same, sweet guy for thirty-seven years. He’s the inspiration for all of my heroes and the one who made me believe in happily ever after.

3. I wanted to be an actress for most of my young life and really wanted to star in Westerns (because…horse love). But I had babies and ended up doing commercials while raising my family. I did a few dozen national commercials, including a Hertz commercial with OJ Simpson and Jimmy Conner and one many remember, a Head and Shoulders/Girl On The Bus spot. So, yeah. I’m famous for scratching my head.


4. My husband used to be an actor and did a voice in the original Star Wars – Wedge Antilles. Kind of a major/minor character who was played physically by Irish actor Dennis Lawson, but voiced by my husband, David, because they wanted an American accent.  That job has taken him all over the world for celebrity signings—Japan, London, Boston. He originally auditioned for George Lucas for C3PO, but got the V.O. gig instead. I get to bask in his fandom now and then.



5. I have taught novel writing for almost twenty years. I started at UCLA Extension and taught privately for many years after that. The talented Laura Wright, Beth Kendrick and Jeannie Lin were a few of my students and we’re still good friends today. I love teaching.

6. I once did a past life regression in trade for some editing work. And if you believe in such things, it became clear to me that my first book ever, HOLT’S GAMBLE, an Oregon Trail book, was inspired by a past life of mine on the emigrant trail from Arkansas to Texas.  Then again, I’m a writer and I may have just made it all up under hypnosis!



Well, that’s a little about me.  Hope you all have a fabulous July/August. Until next time, hope you find some time to squeeze in my latest novella, RECKLESS IN LAGUNA, part of Kaira Rouda’s Laguna Beach Kindle World. It’s a second chance love story about two people with dark secrets who get a chance to start over in Laguna Beach and it’s only $1.99.  Needless to say, it’s a beach read!

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

hi! I'm really excited about my upcoming release, A Court Gesture, book 8 of my It's Reigning Men contemporary royal romance, so thought I'd share a sample chapter. It's coming out August 16. Hope you enjoy it!

Chapter One

Larkin Mallory normally loved her job. Retained unexpectedly in the Rome bureau of The International Chronicle after her one-year internship suddenly morphed into a staff position (thanks to a reporter who decided not to return after maternity leave), she often found herself waking up in the most breathtaking European cities, sent there by her editor to cover stories that ranged from hard-hitting journalism to special-interest feature pieces.
It gave her a chance to really spread her wings professionally, sometimes doubling down with her journalistic chops to cover meaty stories, but also being able to delve into fluffier pieces about, say, cheese rolling contests in England. She liked to say you’ve not lived until you’ve watched a bunch of less-than-sober revelers race down a steep hill in pursuit of runaway wheels of cheddar. Especially considering paramedics are at the ready for the inevitable injuries that come with being accidentally run over by nine-pound spools of wayward cheese coming at you with the velocity of a speeding train.
Never once had she challenged her editor, Piers Woodberry, a paunchy, balding, white-haired Brit who’d held stints at various European tabloids before settling down to work for the more austere international paper. He was usually fair-handed in assigning stories, and Larkin couldn’t think of a time she got stuck having to interview someone she didn’t want to talk to.
The fair-skinned reporter with cascading blonde curls and soft blue eyes tended to hide behind thick tortoise-shell eyeglasses and frumpy clothes, and enjoyed her quiet little slice of the world. She dressed in neutral colors so as to not draw attention to herself, and loved to travel, but only when she could do so on her terms. Not one to indulge in expensive hotel rooms, fine dining or fancy clothes, she was perfectly happy wandering the streets of a given city in yoga pants and trainers, grabbing easy street food (crêpes in Paris, kebobs in Istanbul or supplì in Rome) rather than having to dine alone in a restaurant where she feared she’d stick out like a sore thumb simply because she was on her own.
Even though the reality was that she was alone, and she made no mistake about it. The very nature of her job meant she didn’t get to focus on nurturing friendships, apart from a few colleagues in her office. So while Larkin’s professional life was fulfilling, her personal life was somewhat lacking, right alongside her wardrobe and her sense of self.
Somehow she wasn’t particularly good at envisioning herself as more than the nuts and bolts reporter she was, even though she had the good fortune of doing it in a wonderful part of the world. After all, she wasn’t stuck covering city sewer commissions into the wee hours of the night back home in Virginia where she grew up. Instead, she could as easily find herself strolling along the Champs-Ëlysées as through the rabbit warren-like alleyways of the medieval medina in Marrakesh. In some ways it was a gilded life she led, but somehow she managed to tamp down the exotic nature of it by insisting on being plain old Larkin Mallory, the girl who played flute in her high school marching band and wore thick corrective glasses that perhaps helped others not be able to see her for who she was, which was fine by her.
Larkin was putting the finishing touches on a story about a man who was walking through the Swiss Alps backwards when her boss shouted for her.
“Mallory,” her barked. “You’re going to Fashion Week. Milan. I just lost Silvia, who was supposed to cover it. She’s got bed bugs and isn’t coming back until she’s rid of them. Which means you’re on the Fashion Week beat until I say you aren’t.”
Larkin blanched. Fashion Week? She no sooner belonged in the rarified world of high fashion than she belonged in a medical lab concocting the cure to cancer. Both environments were so not in her stratosphere. She knew precisely nothing about fashion except that you put on your clothes every day and hoped that they matched. And wearing all black kept you from having to even worry about that.
“But Mister Woodberry,” she said, a pleading look in her eyes as if she were a cow imploring the butcher sharpening his knife not to proceed with the impending slaughter. “You’d be better off asking anyone to do that than me. Take Paolo, for instance,” she said, pointing at her colleague standing at the Nespresso machine fixing his fourth espresso of the morning. “Paolo, see, he’s Italian. He knows the world of fashion. Just look at him! He dresses in various shades of black, always so chi-chi and clearly up on the best of what to wear.”
Paolo looked up from his task. “But of course,” he said, tossing back his espresso as he returned to sit at his desk. “La bella figura. It’s the Italian way.”
“Bella figura?” Larkin said. “What the heck is that?”
Paolo stood up again, placing his hands casually in his pockets and striking a pose. He cut quite the handsome figure in his hipster-cut black wool pants and dark gray pin-striped button-down, with a coordinating lighter gray silk tie. His dark hair was perfectly groomed, his face cleanly-shaven, his sleek shoes polished and stylish. “La bella figura is the Italian way of life,” he said, adjusting the knot in his necktie, punctuating his point. “It’s about presenting our best face to the world.” He swept his hands along his body as if to demonstrate.
Larkin nodded. “So yeah,” she said, nodding at her colleague. “That.”
“That?” Piers said.
“I mean Paolo’s your man,” she said. “He’d be perfect to cover Fashion Week. He’s clearly knowledgeable about it and very fashion-forward. He’s Italian, and that helps. Plus, he’s handsome, which I’m sure will get him in with all of the beautiful fashion models for interviews and such.”
Her boss shook his head. “Too late,” he said. “Paolo’s traveling with the Pope to Africa.”
“Awwww, man,” she said. “I’d love go with the Pope to Africa. I’d do a great job. I like that pope. He’s a good guy. Besides, I’m Catholic. He’s my people.” Of course she knew Paolo was likely even more Catholic than she, being Italian and all.
“No can do,” Piers said, shaking his head. “Paolo’s up on his shots and has been taking his malaria medicine. Besides, you don’t cover someone to be a cheerleader for them. If I wanted that I’d give you pom-poms and a megaphone. Sorry,Mallory, everyone around here is locked into assignments and you’re the only one I can spare,” he said, tapping her on the nose with the tip of his pen. “That’s what comes with being low man on the totem pole. But chin up! Maybe you can get some fashion pointers while you’re there.”
Larkin sighed and grumbled. Fashion pointers, indeed. Crap. It was going to feel like high school all over again: the dowdy girl in the band trying to blend in with the prima donna in-crowd beauties. This was gonna suck massively.




A Court Gesture is available for pre-order here:   iBooks  Nook  Kindle  Kobo



Oh and for a limited time I've got an awesome free book for you if you sign up for my newsletter: Something in the Heir, book 1 of the It's Reigning Men series! Sign up here  and you'll be first to hear about deals and giveaways.
    
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Friday, July 15, 2016

Michelle Styles: Ducklings at Dawn




Back in mid May, a fox managed to have one of our female ducks as a midnight snack. She was sitting on a clutch of 10 eggs. As we had lost several ducks to Mr. Fox and female ducks were getting scarce on the ground, my husband forcefully argued for an incubator.
Duck eggs in the incubator
I agreed to try and see if we could raise ducks that way. The incubator shop duly sent the kit within 24 hours. The kit included – an incubator, a candling device, a brooder for after, a small feeder and water container and a pen. In meantime, I put the eggs in the airing cupboard and began turning them. I also added 2 more ducks that I had collected. I did not really have much hope. At best I thought we might get one or two ducklings.
My cat taking an interest in the moving eggs
The incubator a RomCom 10 was easy to set up and I turned the eggs 3 x times a day 180 degrees each time. I had put x and o’s on the eggs so I knew which way was which. I marked on the calendar when they were due to hatch. I also kept the water filled up. I did not bother with candling the eggs to see if they were viable. My youngest son who is studying zoology at university was convinced that I was just cooking the eggs and I would end up with splattered rotten egg on the inside of the incubator.
Newly hatched duckling
Right on schedule on June 21st,  we began to hear chirping. I opened the vent of the RomCom and checked all 12 eggs seemed to be chirping. On 22 June, one duckling made a small hole in its shell. It can take up to 48 hours for a duckling to break through. It actually takes a lot of effort and the ducklings need to do it themselves. They need to finish eating all the yolk and detach themselves. If they don’t completely detach, they get a hernia and die soon after hatching.
Ducklings a few days old
Nothing happened for the rest of the day. On the morning of the 23rd, the eggs were all still there but moving about. I went and did my exercises but hurried back. One shell had developed a huge crack down its side. First one duckling (a yellow one) emerged. It is important to keep the incubator closed at this point so the humidity doesn’t go down. Ducklings emerge wet from the shell.  If the eggshell is too brittle, the chicks can’t push their way out. After the first two, things went quickly but it became apparent the ducklings were getting too crowded. I quickly set up the brooder and the pen in the basement, along with some water and chick crumbs for feed.  Once the brooder was warm, I transferred the hatched ducklings to their new home and put them under the brooder to dry.  I left the rest of the eggs to hatch. They all hatched but one duckling died very quickly after birth. It had developed a hernia and so obviously had not detached properly from the yolk. It also could have been too weak.
Ducklings on top of brooder at about a week
The rest have survived. The brooder remained in the pen for 2 weeks and I lifted it up as the ducklings grew.  After the first day, I introduced bathing and swimming – at first in a paint roller tray and then in our large roasting pan. The first time they encountered water, the ducklings did not like it at all. The second time, however, they realised that they were in fact ducks and loved it.
Ducklings swimming
So I have 11 ducklings in the basement. They will go out to the netted pen when they are 4 weeks old and then when they are about 8 weeks, they will become free range like our other ducks. This is to protect them from predators such as crows and sparrow-hawks which we get in the garden.
They are very cute but rapidly reaching the awkward feathers coming in stage. They appear to be less frighten of people than my other ducks.




In other news:


I sold my latest Viking to Harlequin Historical – Sold to the Viking Warrior will be out in February 2017.

When not looking after ducklings, Michelle Styles writes warm, witty and intimate historical romances for Harlequin Historical. Her latest Summer of the Viking was published in June 2015. You can learn more about Michelle and her books on www.michellestyles.co.uk 

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Christina Hollis—Reading, Writing, Then Talking About It...

This Is Not Lancaster University...
July is the month for conferences. This year, the Romantic Novelists' Association's annual gathering was held at Lancaster University, Bailrigg, in the north west of England.

I live in an old house set in a Gloucestershire bluebell wood. Before getting our puppy and joining the dog-walking community, days could pass without me seeing anyone apart from family members. The thought of spending four days living in student accommodation with well over two hundred other delegates—all within a USB-stick's throw—was a scary prospect. 

Like diving into a pool, after the initial shock I found the conference a fantastic experience. I could choose from over thirty sessions. They covered all aspects of the writing process, from Speed-Dating For Writers in the search for your ideal critique partner,  to Working Effectively With Bookshops, Libraries and Festivals

With Julia Ibbotson (centre) and Dorinda Cass (right)
at the Gala Dinner. Pic: John Jackson
I attended a total of thirteen sessions. While each talk was brilliant in its own way, the stand out presenter for me was Sarah Wendell, of Smart Bitches, Trashy Books. In Reviews—getting them, dealing with them and managing them, she explained that for a book's five-star ratings to be taken seriously, it needs reviews from readers who were less than impressed. Glowing reports can always be bought, or squeezed out of your relatives and friends. Bad reviews are more likely to be honest. Some people just don't like some books. If a review is posted by an idiot with a personal axe to grind, it's pretty obvious, and you can discount it.  Sarah's advice included eating so much chocolate your fingers get too messy to dash off a scathing reply to your critic. By the time your hands are clean again (and in my case, when you've run off the calories) you'll have calmed down, and decided to keep silent. Comments by the author cast a shadow over the dialogue between those who read the review, and dialogue means exposure. Nobody wants to think the author is watching, ready to pounce. After hearing Sarah's talk, I'll never be afraid of sending my books out for review again. I might be afraid to read the reviews, but that's no problem. I'll follow another piece of her advice, and get someone else to read them for me!

Find Out More At myBook.to/MyDreamGuy
The most daring session I attended was Romantic Bondage—facts for fiction. I found out that when it comes to BDSM, not all ropes are created equal. If you want to tie your heroine to railroad tracks (or whatever) you'll need soft, specially treated hemp. Remember, you read it here first!

If you've never been to a conference before, take the plunge. It won't be as scary as you think, and you'll learn a lot. 

If you're an experienced delegate, what's the most useful thing you've taken away from a conference? 


When she isn't cooking, gardening or beekeeping, Christina Hollis writes contemporary fiction starring complex men and independent women.  Her books have been translated into more than a dozen languages, and she’s sold nearly three million books worldwide. You can catch up with her at http://www.christinahollis.blogspot.com, on Twitter, Facebook, and see a full list of her published books at christinahollis.com
Her current release, Heart Of A Hostage, is published by The Wild Rose Press and available at myBook.to/HeartOfAHostage worldwide, and from http://bit.ly/1iNf2Gw in the US.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Bee Gleeful!!

Today, I thought we'd talk about some of my personal truths.  Let's start with...

 Yeah, I really try to find the glee in life and remember to be thankful for what I've got.  But sometimes life gets tough...no worries, I have the solution!


I know, that was baaaaaad.
I had a character who had a habit of saying little mottos...pick anyone of hers. 
I think they're all spot on!


I not only write books, but I'm a lifelong reader.  Here's why I do both...


And this is definitely a truth 
every dog owner knows!!


Do you have any personal mottos you live by??Hope you're having a wonderful summer!!

Holly

PS Carry Her Heart's on sale this month!  $.99 for Kindle and $5.99 for the paperback!  And Same Time Next Summer comes out on the 26th.  You can preorder it now!



Monday, July 11, 2016

Carole Mortimer: July News


A belated Happy Independence Day on July 4th!

Three of our sons, plus one daughter-in-law, and granddaughter Aoife—or most of the asylum, as I like to call them—decided to come home to the Isle of Man for a week’s holiday the first week of July. July 5th is Tynwald Day on the Isle of Man, and a national holiday. Although situated between England and Ireland, the Isle of Man is totally independent. The government here is called Tynwald, and Tynwald Day is a thousand-year-old ceremony which takes place at the village of St John’s, on a hill in the middle of the island. Islanders are allowed to place petitions in front of the representative of the government, and Queen Elizabeth II. The Queen is Lord of Man, rather than our queen. We all had a great time, and the weather stayed fine, which was a bonus.

End of June saw the start of my new contemporary romantic suspense series, Knight Security, with the release of Resisting Alexandre (Knight Security 0.5) and Defying Asher (Knight Security 1) both on June 30th. Resisting Alexandre was previously published as Alexandre, in the anthology Royals & Rogues. The Knight Security series is a spin-off of the #1 bestselling Alpha series, so readers will meet some familiar characters from previous books in some of these stories. The 3rd book in the series, Challenging Gabriel (Knight Security 2) is now available for pre-order from all ebook retailers, and will be released September 23rd


The 5th book in my bestselling and Top100 Regency Unlaced series, Desired by a Lord (Regency Unlaced 5), is now available for pre-order, and will be released on July 22nd.

As always, the stories in my Knight Security, Regency Unlaced, and Alpha series, are more explicit in their language and sexual content than my other books. So beware, they’re hot!

Buy links for Defying Asher (Knight Security 1)
This book is also available on Kobo, iBooks, and Smashwords
Buy Links for Resisting Alexandre (Knight Security 0.5):
This book is also available on Kobo, iBooks, and Smashwords.

Newsletter: www.eepurl.com/2rfzz         

Sunday, July 10, 2016

On the Move -- Anne McAllister

At our house we are up to our eyeballs, literally, in packing boxes.

We are in the throes of moving house from the one where we've lived for over forty years (at least during the school years) to a new home in Montana. We've been in and out of Montana for the past twenty-five, and before that I spent vacations there as a child because my mother was born in Montana and we still have family there.

So, once the grandkids started arriving in Montana -- and The Prof neared the age of retirement -- we decided it was time to make a move. It took nearly a decade, but hey, we don't jump at opporunities the second they appears.

Besides, now the Iowa grandkids are all pretty well-launched and will be visiting regularly, I'm sure. In fact some of them are actually coming with us next week (though they will be returning home eventually -- I think).

Anyway, it's a whole new chapter (book metaphor required, of course), and one that I'm looking forward to.  As I've done my share of writing about Montana -- and am currently in the final stages of my first Sons of Montana book for Tule -- it will be nice to look out my window and get inspiration instead of having to look at my photo albums and digital files for it!

But before I go I want to say how much I have loved living in Iowa.  My stepdad, who was raised here, could hardly wait to leave. I would never leave if it weren't for those grandkids.

As much as I love the mountains and the cowboys and the dry air, I love the history of river towns and the Northwest Territory and environs, and the best corn in the world (just had first of the year tonight for dinner) -- not to mention the best neighbors and friends whom I'm sorely going to miss.

I've spent two-thirds of my life here. It's where I reared my kids, started my career, raised my dogs -- and my one opinionated cat -- it's the place that I will always call home.  It gave me great joy, and I know when I come back, which I will certainly do at least once a year so those grandsons can continue to go to sports camp until they're too old, it will capture my heart all over again.

Thank you, Iowa. I love you.

Montana, here we come!

Photos:
1) mine
2) copyright 2011, J Kennedy, used with permission
3) mine

Friday, July 08, 2016

Summer Reading

When I was in school I have to say I never minded those summer reading lists that some of my teacher's used to furnish us.  Actually, I loved it when my kids got them to.  It was an excuse to read, which is sometimes what I need.  I love reading but somehow sitting quietly in the corner lost in my own little world sometimes needed and needs justification.

When I was in school I read so much that my mom really feared I'd never leave her house.  She used to come up with challenges to get my nose out of a book.  She loved that I read, I don't want you to think that she was discouraging me to read, but I used to set my alarm early so I could read and then I'd read at the breakfast table, in the car to school, while I was waiting for classes to start, between classes (ok, I'll admit I even used to read with the book on my lap during some classes, which might explain why I still don't really get science!) and then I'd read on the way to swim practice, read on the way home and read after dinner.  Her concern was real!

So when I had the summer reading list I didn't have to justify to mom that I was reading.  She took my sisters and to the store and she used to buy all the books on the list and then as a family we'd read them over the summer.  It was great.

What I really loved about the summer reading list was that it had books that I wouldn't have normally chosen to read.  So this summer I'm making a reading list for myself that's not as romance heavy.

Here are a few of the books on my list:

Love, Nina by Nina Stibbe  
This is a series of letters written by a young woman who went to London to nanny in the 80s.  The BBC made a TV series out of it that was really good so now I want to read the book.

Midnight Crossroad (Midnight Texas #1) by Charlaine Harris
I love the Sookie Sackhouse series and heard that this series has cameos from some of her characters so I thought I'd give it a try.

The Trials of Apollo The Hidden Oracle by Rick Riordan
My son is a huge Rick Riordan fan and we have always both read the books and then discussed them, which I love!

Harry Potter and The Cursed Child parts 1 & 2 by J.K. Rowling
My daughter loves Harry Potter.  It was the book that made her into a voracious reader.  She has been dying to see what happened in the play and frankly, I have too.  We all pre-ordered a copy because we don't like to wait to read it!

Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling
I read about this book around Christmas last year but haven't had a chance to read it.  I like Mindy Kaling so I think I'll enjoy her book. :)

I'd love to have some recommendations from you! What's on your summer reading list?  Have you read any of the books on my list?



Thursday, July 07, 2016

Get a free download of Melting Mr Frosty's Heart

Those of you who've been with me for a while will know I have a bit of a thing for ice cream. Three books - Tempted By Trouble, Anything But Vanilla and Vettori's Damsel in Distress - have charted the romances of the three Amery sisters who founded the ice cream events business "Scoop!".

Often one book will lead to a spin-off - great characters cannot be left dangling while the main event sweeps on to its inevitable conclusion.

Two such characters were that magician with ice cream, Ria (Knickerbocker Gloria, herself) and uptight millionaire with a passion for opera, Graeme Laing.

Sorrel Amery's parting gift to him was to tell him that Ria loved the opera. Great Uncle Basil's response was that she would "shake the creases out of his pants".

Melting Mr Frosty's Heart is a short story that catches up with the moment when Graeme, much against his better judgement, decides to ask her to join him in his box at Covent Garden.

Will she say yes? Do opposites ever attract? And what happens to his pants?

This short story will be on sale at the beginning of August for just .99c. (I know - Amazon converts that to 99p in the UK which is just wrong but if you download from Smashwords you'll get the US price wherever you are in the world).

Or you could sign up for my newsletter and get it free a whole week before it goes on sale. That's right, My newsletter subscribers will be getting a secret link to my website where they can read it free.

It's a gift to my wonderful readers, some of whom have been reading my newsletter from the first issue. Total treasures. If you want to join them - sign up here.

Oh, and in case you're not already thoroughly tempted, here is the cover.


Wednesday, July 06, 2016

Addison Fox: A Puzzle

I spent time with my parents over the 4th of July weekend and we worked on a puzzle together. They’d started it the week before so by the time I arrived the frame was up and some of the center image was coming together. Throughout a few days, we continued to work the middle pieces, coming in and out of the dining room as the mood struck.


I’m deeply fortunate to have a wonderful relationship with both of my parents – we talk easily and are always discussing something – but the conversation as we put the puzzle together was different somehow. My father told stories about my grandmother and how she had a series of rules when they did puzzles.

You must frame the puzzle first
You must work on the puzzle to be part of putting in the last few pieces
You must put the pieces into sections on the table that seem to correspond with where they go

It was silly talk but it gave me a memory I didn’t have and further framed up (pun intended!!) an aspect of my grandmother I didn’t know. (She’d probably have been horrified that I got to work on the puzzle a week after it had begun!!)


Throughout the weekend we discussed the silly and the mundane but we also discussed the serious. A friend’s been going through the after effects of a stroke and we discussed that and the corresponding life changes that come with it.


In short – the time we spent in front of that puzzle was concentrated together time. There weren’t any distractions, it was just us. Our time with the puzzle created new memories together, and it added to the rich store of history I have about my loved ones.

Thanks for joining me today!
XO,
Addison



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 New York and - thankfully - doesn't have to operate on anyone. You can find her at her home on the web at www.addisonfox.com. Her latest release, THE ROYAL SPY’S REDEMPTION, from Harlequin Romantic Suspense is on shelves now. You can visit her at her website at www.addisonfox.com