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Sunday, August 02, 2020

New Horizons by Susan Sands

I feel like I'm turning a page. Yes, I know the COVID is still all around me, and the year is still 2020. But I've survived the virus, thankfully, and I'm on my way to hopefully working with a new agent and getting the books of my heart published. Books set in my home state of Louisiana. My very first ones. They won't be exactly the same. But it's been a dream of mine to do these stories and see them come to life--finally.

No details yet, but. I can already see the covers--kind of. I've got a Cajun cookout menu already planned for the first book release. Red beans and rice with smoked sausage, crawfish etouffee, and crusty French bread with butter. Bread pudding with a vanilla glaze. So, yeah, I've been dreaming about these books in every aspect for years.

My new website will go live in a few days, and it's a beauty! I'm hoping to use it for my latest news instead of doing a newsletter. It's an experiment to see how many people will follow for giveaways, etc. There is going to be a giveaway as soon as it goes live, so be on the lookout at susansands.com.

Right now, it's still the old WordPress site, but it will switch over soon.

I'm focused on what I can control right now. Yes, I'm worried about the world. Very. But I'm mostly staying home and writing. I'm wishing you all good health, both mental and physical. 

I'm always available to writers who have questions, or who I can help. I will always try.


Have a fantastic day, or try to. Keep trying to. Love to all!

Susan Sands



Wednesday, July 15, 2020

A free digital jigsaw or two by Michelle Styles


One thing I enjoy doing is jigsaw puzzles and so when I saw that I could create digital puzzles from my covers, I just had to give it a try. I suspect you all are better at jigsaws than I am. But I do enjoy jigsaw puzzles. They can help me to think or to plot because while one part of my mind is working on the puzzle, another part is puzzling out the answer to the tricky plot problem.  And sometimes it can just be good to focus on something else for a change.
The first one is I did was of my latest cover Conveniently Wed to the Viking:

And the next one was one of latest shareable for the five book series: Sons of Sigurd.

I am very excited that my book is out and the other two books Redeeming Her Viking Warrior by Jenni Fletcher (Sept 2020) and Tempted by Her Viking Enemy by Terri Brisbin (November 2020) continue the story in such an exciting way.
Currently you can read the prequel by Michelle Willinghamfor free and the first book Tempted by the Viking  Warrior by Michelle Willingham is at the special price of $1.99 wherever ebooks are sold.
Here I have just handed in my revisions for the 2nd part in my trilogy about 3 Anglo Saxon  high born women who have to negotiate the changed landscape of war torn middle England and find love in unexpected places. A Deal with Her Rebel Viking was the first part (but I came involved with the Sons of Sigurd…). I am about to start the final part as well. It can be strange to go back into a world after creating another world.
Michelle Styles writes warm, witty and intimate historical romances in a wide range of time periods from Ancient Rome to Victorian. Her latest Conveniently Wed to the Viking is now out. You can learn more about Michell and her books on www.mcihellestyles.co.uk



Monday, July 13, 2020

Connections

 I've been making trees of life, first in bowls and now with these tiles. I'll confess, when I find a new ceramic project or idea I tend to do a bunch of them. I like to figure out how I want to make them and what works best. But I think what I like about making the trees right now is they really speak to today's environment. The world is so divisive right now. And the trees sort of remind me that we're all connected. We all have our roots in this country and we branch out and add our own uniqueness to it. Those differences make for a much richer tapestry.

It's sort of the same thing that attracts me to writing...the uniqueness of each story and each character. Each story allows me to explore something new.

They say that most people live one life, but a reader lives a thousand lives. That applies to writers as well. Each book I read and write allows me to inhabit someone else's life for a while. In Hometown Hearts each character goes through something different and approaches the idea of family in a different way. And yet, like my trees of life, they all have their roots firmly planted in a universal sameness...in family, friendship and love.

I'm finding that my art connects to my writing which connects to my life. Yes it's all intertwined...just like we're all intertwined. Sometimes we spend so long looking at our differences that we forget our connection. I think readers and writers are better at recognizing that our differences are a gift...that we're all rooted in the same soil.

If you haven't read the first three books in my Hometown Hearts series, I hope you pick them up so that you're ready for the fourth book which comes out in September!

I'm heading out to the studio today...so much clay to play with, so little time!

Holly

PS This is Herman. He's the first piece I made in my new HollysWood Studio. That's one of the ash glazes I've made!

PPS Check out Hometown Hearts



Crib Notes: Hometown Hearts #1







A Special Kind of Different: Hometown Hearts #2








Homecoming: Hometown Hearts #3









PREORDER  Suddenly a Father: Hometown Hearts #4
Available in September








Thursday, July 02, 2020

Cover Reveal for Noel, Alabama! By Susan Sands

I'm thrilled to reveal my gorgeous new cover for my upcoming novel, Noel, Alabama. I love the red theme and the happy, holiday feel!! Lee Hyat worked hard and performed her magic once again!

It's amazing what goes into the development of a book cover. Not just the pulling together of a photo and fonts. I'm talking about the thought that goes into marketing and sales. I had what I thought was a fantastic idea for this one. Behind the scenes, a cover was put together utilizing my grand idea, then compared with a couple others, then shown to a group of potential readers. Mine tanked hard. The marketing team was kind enough to give my idea a shot.

The warm lights and the open door is welcoming and readers loved it! Hopefully, they will love the story equally as much!

I'm completed developmental edits, copy edits, and proofreads. Now, it's off to formatting! Each step gets us one step closer to the advanced reading copies and reviews. Every aspect of development is exciting and helps the time pass until publication!

This book was plotted and written during the onset of the COVID-19 quarantine. I tried hard to focus on my story and not on the news. I'm glad I had something to think about besides politics and viruses during such stressful times. Obviously, things have only gotten more stressful. I'm determined to get this story through all its steps while the summer rages, hopefully toward a more peaceful and healthier climax.

I hope you all are safe and healthy out there.

Best,

Susan








Sunday, June 14, 2020

Christina Hollis: A Little Bit of Peace and Quiet...

Fresh from the Garden
Lockdown has eased slightly here in England, but I'm in no hurry to get back into the human race. All the reports of prejudice, riots, pandemic, and financial problems makes life beyond home seem uncertain. The events of the past few months have changed life forever. Both my OH and son have health problems, so rather than put them at risk I've only left the house (apart from walking the dog around the wood) three times since March 18th. Here are a few things that have saved my sanity...

Gardening:
Luckily I had bought all my seeds before lockdown, so I had plenty of sowing and planting to distract me from not being able to leave the house and garden. 

This spring we had a lot of dry, sunny weather so in places, I've even managed to keep on top of the weeds. One patch of undergrowth has got away from me though, so I'm now calling that The Wild Garden!

University Work:
I had four major essays to complete within a couple of weeks, so for some time I did nothing but read, make notes and edit my work. 

With deadlines hurtling toward me, the time flew by. Luckily I managed to complete everything in time, and handed in my final essay last week. 

Now all I have to do is wait for the results, while writing my dissertation...

My Best Effort So Far!
Baking:
Once I'd finished my university work for the day I felt like leaving paperwork behind and doing something crafty. During lockdown I worked on perfecting my sourdough bread. You can read how I started here, and how I progressed here. How I finally solved all my problems and produced the loaf in this photo will be the subject of my next blog at christinahollisbooks.online!

Poultry:
We lost out last ancient hen back before Christmas. After that, it was so easy to buy eggs from the supermarket it was several months before I got around to ordering some replacements. I chose Beechwood Blue Rangers, partly because I liked the name but mostly because they are supposed to lay nice brown eggs. 
The New Girls

Although there's no nutritional difference between white, tinted and brown eggs, I think dark ones look nicer, so shell colour is my chief criterion when it comes to poultry. 

The new birds arrived on the 18th May, and we got our first beautiful white egg on 3rd June. We've had a further twenty-three eggs from them since then, and not one has had the merest speckling of brown!


Christina Hollis writes contemporary fiction starring complex men and independent women. She has written more than twenty novels, sold nearly three million books, and her work has been translated into twenty different languages. When she isn’t writing, Christina is cooking, walking her dog, or gardening.


Catch up with her at https://christinahollisbooks.online, on TwitterFacebook, and see a full list of her published books at christinahollis.com





Saturday, June 13, 2020

A Little Life



I will confess, I live what might appear to be a little life. It's a life built around family and creating. Writing has been a huge part of my life for a long time. But when I took my first pottery class, I knew that would be a part of my life as well. Yes, it was love at first...wedge! LOL We went round and round about where to put my pottery studio (after I'd exhausted all the classes at the university!). I could put it at home, but my options were limited. So we decided to put it at The Cottage. We had more than enough room for sure. We started building the barn last August. And by June, my studio was up and working!

The view is amazing! I spent Monday out there working. I didn't turn on any music...I didn't need to. My Cooper's Hawks are back and were very vocal. Their nest is not far from the barn. I was afraid we'd scare them off with all the building last year, but nope. They're back. The red salamanders are all over! And I rescued a toad that got into the barn the other day. I didn't want Tallulah to find him and taste him. LOL A ton of birds just added to the chorus. Who needs any other music.

The minions came and spent a day at camp last weekend. They played with sticks and lightsabers. LOL (The sticks were Ewok's sticks.) And we took a hike to Second Creek. Yes, we named the creek that borders the back of the property Second Creek. It's not overly creative, but is an accurate description.  We also have other areas named...Powerline Path, Monkey Island (no one's quite sure where that came from) and other areas.

Yes, it's a little life. I wouldn't want it any other way.  I've built my life around family and love. Whether I'm writing love stories about families (like my Hometown Hearts series...that was a sly mention) or loving working on my pottery. It's a little, but lucky life because I love what I do and who I'm sharing my life with.

I think the secret to a happy life is recognizing what's good in your life and giving thanks for it. I hope when you take a look at your life, you find you're as happy with yours as I am with mine! 

Holly

PS. If you have a moment, I hope you'll check out my Hometown Hearts series. Each book stands alone, but since it's a small town, you're bound to bump into someone you know in each book!




Crib Notes: Hometown Hearts #1






A Special Kind of Different: Hometown Hearts #2

Homecoming: Hometown Hearts #3


PREORDER  Suddenly a Father: Hometown Hearts #4
Available in September





Tuesday, June 02, 2020

Getting Away by Susan Sands

Dear friends,

I spent a few days in Fripp Island, South Carolina, with my friend, Cindy, recently. After being locked down for so long. It felt like breathing fresh air for the first time in months.

We kayaked to a tiny deserted island where the driftwood lay like a boneyard. Heavenly and haunted. Huge dead trees stuck in the wet sand, bleached white by the sun. We didn't encounter another human while we were there. The weather was perfect, and we walked for what seemed like miles on the hard-packed low-tide sand. Can you see it?

On our third day, my friend, who lives on the island, took us out in her boat to another nearby island. This one requires leaving before low tide, so there's enough water in the canal to not hit sand bars. We went to Bull Point, aka, Shell Island, where there are huge shells everywhere. I mean, enormous unbroken, conch shells and many other varieties so plentiful it's hard to imagine. We encountered countless giant horseshoe crab shells where the animals sadly become regularly stranded by the tide. My friend, Cindy, had asked me if there were wild pigs on Fripp Island on our way down. I'd laughed that off. I really had no idea. But sure enough, we passed a wild pig carcass while on our adventure.

We soaked up the sun, put our toes in the sand, and caught some unbelievable sunsets. The place is a wildlife sanctuary, so the deer and birds are everywhere.

We ate our weight in fresh seafood, which is my absolute favorite. I was able to bring home an embarrassing amount of fresh, peeled shrimp for future cooking adventures.

Fripp Island is a tranquil and beautiful place, and we were so thankful for a place to stay with my friend, Jessica. We turned up the high school music and sang badly on the way home. Now, I'm hunkered down working on my edits for Noel, Alabama.

I can't wait to share my new cover!! Check my social media for more information!!

Stay safe! Stay well! Love to all!!

Susan Sands





Wednesday, May 27, 2020

The Good Parts of Alone Time

Joanne Rock


I’ve spent a lot of time alone lately. That probably comes as no surprise. We’ve all been isolated in one way or another for the last few months. I’m not always totally alone, so that’s nice. But I’ve had more solo time than I’ve had in many years.

As an aggressively positive thinker, I try to look at whatever I face through
Rose colored glasses aren't always a bad thing
the rosiest possible lenses. I’m sure some people find that annoying, but it’s my coping mechanism. I surround myself with pretty things in my physical realm, and curate my social media to be purposely uplifting. So it’s in keeping with my approach to life that I’ve looked for silver linings in being alone so often. I thought it might help someone else to share the good that I’ve found.

My new stereo in my office
First and foremost, I like quiet. I always have. There is a deep quietness in being alone that allows my spirit to settle and my thoughts to pleasantly wander. That’s not the case when there is hubbub around me, others making demands on my time, or the general strife of life elbowing me for my attention. My writing lately has been clear and focused, and I know it’s because of the quietness of the times. That’s a good thing. I’m reading more, which is something I enjoy in quiet times. Those are good wins.

Yet, when I want to turn up the music, being alone gives me the ability to make my musical choices all about me. I listen to what I want, when I want, as loud as I want. And that’s pretty darn nice. I bought myself a new stereo system with a level of sound quality I haven’t experienced since before I had a family. Music—in beautiful, full notes—now surrounds me as often as I choose. I’ve been recovering some lost music of my teens and twenties thanks to the wonders of Spotify and their “Song Radio” feature that lets me find songs in similar vein, or released at the same time, as a song in my memory.

I eat less. Now, lest you think I’m depriving myself, I will tell you that I mostly snack and it’s not always healthy. But when I’m alone, there is no “social eating” for the sake of sharing a meal with someone. Buying groceries just for me ensures I don’t buy a treat for someone else that I’ll end up eating too. I don’t snack at night to unwind with anyone. I decide when I’m done for the day, which is usually when I’m done writing. All in all, my eating habits are better when I’m not taking anyone else into account.

My March Harlequin Desire
I dance more. Some of this has to do with having more music around me, of course. I’m more inspired now that the new stereo is at work! But I’m also a little freer with my movements knowing there’s no one else around. If the music calls for a poorly executed pirouette while I’m cooking, I go for it. If I want a Friday night dance party hour, that’s fun too.

All these things have been good for my psyche during a trying time. Embracing my personal joys has helped me feel more content while I miss my friends and hugs from family members. I miss travel and road trips, meals out and people watching. But extraordinary times call for different measures, so I’m diving deep into what I can do to feel more content.

I’ve got a copy of my March book HEARTBREAKER to share with one random commenter. How are you handling the increased isolation? Is the alone time getting to you, or have you been finding some new joys to help you through? Share with me and I’ll announce a random winner from all the comments next week.  

Saturday, May 23, 2020

A Messy Desk is a State of Mind? Maybe...Then Again....

Albert Einstein once said, "If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, of what, then, is an empty desk a sign?" I like that quote. Probably because my desk if forever in a state of chaos, at least according to RadioMan. To me, my desk is home. it's filled with things that make me happy, in addition to the things that I need to work on.

However, sometimes, I realize I need to clean it up a bit. This week was one of those clean up moments. Probably because I have a book due. ahem. My editor can ignore that sentence, it wasn't because of a deadline it was. . .some.other.reason.

Anywho. Here are a few things that I found on my desk that are making me happy lately.

The first is a stack of books. Why are they making me happy? Well, because they were all really interesting books - all were part of my reading list for a recent contest...and a couple are now one-click authors.

It's the Year in a Jar
Then, there is our Year in a Jar. My family whined interminably about this project immediately jumped on board with this project a couple of years ago and now it's just something we *do*. When something fun (like a vacation) or cool (like a new book contract) or exciting (like bebe's swim championships) happens, we write down the event on a piece of paper and put it in the jar. On New Year's Eve, we'll open the jar and read all about our year. I've seen some Year in a Jar projects that are filled with calligraphy and mementos. We use ticket stubs and scratch paper and usually abbreviations and really messy handwriting...but it works for us!

These bookends are new(ish). I bought them late last year because, owls. Yes, that's also a spool of thread and a
needle, I had to perform surgery on a beanie baby a couple of weeks ago. At some point, the thread will go back where it belongs, it's just that I have a feeling more surgery is going to be needed. Soon(ish). I keep print copies of my books here, because it's a nice reminder of where I've been...and of where I want to go next.

And I haven't found a single thing that needs to be tossed.
Although, I should probably put those books on the actual bookshelf instead of the corner of my desk. But, look, it's not all that messy...I mean, there's a whole foot or so of un-cluttered space to my right. Although my lapdesk could probably be put away. And so could my tablet sleeve. And, as I'm typing this, I realize I have about seven post-its and to-do lists to my left that aren't relevant any more. Okay, the old post-its and the to-do lists can go...but the rest of the clutter stays! I mean, Einstein was a smart dude...I don't want an empty mind, so I can't have an empty desk. Right?

So, spill, is your desk messy? Perfect organized? Somewhere in between?

Kristina Knight's latest release, Jase, Nevada Cowboys Book 3, is available now in paperback or e-format:

Hot Las Vegas nights get even steamier for these three powerful, wealthy businessmen with cowboy roots and the strong, independent women who fall for them. What happens in Vegas certainly won’t stay there as these successful tycoons win at love.

Jase Reeves lives his life by rules: never get emotional at the poker table and never get emotional with women. But when he meets self-help author Sabrina York all bets are off. Sabrina enjoys fame and fortune writing her female-empowerment books, but she could do without the reputation – that of the Oldest Living (Supposed) Virgin in Vegas. Blowing up her entire life because sexy gambler Jase Reeves has shown an interest in her? Sabrina has already written the book on that, but staying away from Jase isn’t as simple as closing the cover of her favorite book. And for Jase, melting the heart of the Vegas Virgin might be his greatest gamble yet…

Buy Jase: Amazon  B&N  iBooks  Kobo

Kristina Knight is a contemporary romance author, part-time TKD-kid wrangler, and full-time ThinMints enthusiast. You can find out more the book and Kristina on her website, and feel free to stalk follow her on FacebookTwitter or Instagram.



Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Stuff Your eReader! by Jenny Gardiner


Hello!
Gosh, it's been a few months since my last newsletter, and in that time, it feels like the world has turned upside down. I hope you and your family are safe and well as we all deal with the challenges facing us as a result of the pandemic.
It's truly a stressful time. I consider myself fortunate to have a full-time therapy dog on hand! But there are still moments when even Pippa needs to shelter in her safe space (especially when the vacuum is being used).

Many folks seem to be binging on books to escape stress and anxiety. If your TBR list is bottoming out, I have an easy fix.  Visit Romance Free Reads -- TODAY ONLY -- to download more than 200 free romance books across all genres. 
Be sure to get your free copies of Skirt Chaser and It's Reigning Men Box Set (Books 1-3), which are part of this promotion. My other freebie is Falling for Mr. Wrong.


It's been difficult to focus on writing, so I pushed back the release of my next book to October. It's the first in an all-new series, which means creating a new world and a new cast of characters. Preorder Hard to Get and look for more news about this rom-com series in the future.


Shrimply irresistible…
Lola Quigley can’t believe her good luck when she wins a spot on the Food Channel’s popular Shop till you Drop. The show features amateur foodies competing to produce a prize-winning meal from staples commonly found in food banks, where people often unload their most unwanted pantry items. Having lived on a near poverty-level budget for a few dark years when her life imploded unexpectedly, Lola had grown to love the challenge of creating delicious meals with the cheapest ingredients she could find on the sale shelf of the grocery store, or—in a twist of irony—donated from her local food bank. She just has to win this: the prize money would help her launch the soup kitchen food truck she’s dreamed of starting. It’ll be her way of paying it forward after she managed to dig out of a financial hole she’d doubted she ever could escape.
Levi Patton is pissed. He’s stuck doing penance as a guest chef on an annoying cable reality TV show where overly enthusiastic wannabes try to outdo him with random undesirable ingredients. Will he ever get over the meteoric crash of his career after a food critic found the unmistakable tail of a rat floating atop his bouillabaisse at Levi’s revered Washington, DC, restaurant? Convinced, but unable to prove, that a jealous sous chef sabotaged him, his name is now mud in the food world; he’s drowning in the veritable toilet of the culinary industry: competing on Shop till you Drop. And he’s totally screwed when he ends up pitted against the overly cheerful brunette with the tattoo of Popeye on her bicep, the very woman he’d left at the altar nearly a decade ago.



Posting links below:

Book one of the It's Reigning Men series, Something in the Heir, is free here:

Kindle
iBooks
Nook
Kobo
Google Play




Also Red Hot Romeo is free! A hot Italian, a gorgeous supermodel, and fabulous wines…what’s not to love?!
You can check out the first book in the Royal Romeo series for free here:

And Falling for Mr. Wrong from the Falling for Mr. Wrong series is free here:

Kindle
iBooks
Nook
Kobo
Google Play




Lastly, Skirt Chaser is now free!

Kindle
iBooks
Nook
Kobo
GooglePlay



And if you enjoy these books, there are plenty more in each series to read on and they're very affordable at $3.99!

Nothing like a world emergency to clarify all of the most important things in your life. I'm so very grateful for my wonderful family, my adorable dog, a home with a roof over my head, spring weather so that we can at least be outside and enjoy the blossoming trees and listening to birds singing. I'm grateful for all of those medical professionals willing to put their lives on the line for us, and for the many reporters who also have risked themselves for reporting from Coronavirus hotspots, and experts being available 24/7 on many TV networks to answer questions from a nervous public.

Our country has been through many awful things before, things that required far greater sacrifice, sending millions of our young people overseas to fight in dreadful wars. Staying at home is easy peasy in comparison. We can do this folks! Stay safe and thanks for staying home to protect the vulnerable, those who are immunocompromised, the elderly, and of course our medical care providers on the front line in this new and eye-opening war.

Love you all and stay safe! ❤️