Tuesday, January 15, 2019

You Can Make Lasting Change by Michelle Styles

It is now just over two weeks into the New Year and the shining new resolutions look far less shiny and bright. It is far easier to fall into old habits and to think you can never change. This is not true and it is your limbic system (the flight or fight part of the brain) speaking. Meaningful change never just happens. There is always false starts and falls off the bandwagon. The people who make the changes permanent do so because they see the change as being important, rather than the fall.  They don’t  see it as a perfectionist all or nothing. It is more about the overall picture and trying until you succeed..
When I first became serious about my writing, the easiest thing would have been to give up. In fact, various people  suggested that I would. After all, I had wanted to be a writer from the age 12 and there I was 38, never having written a complete manuscript.   I would get to about the first page, not even the first chapter and find something else to occupy my time but oh how I wanted to be a published author. I knew I had stories to tell inside me. I knew I could write.

 Getting ill with gallstones changed me. It made me realise that I wanted to do something for me.  Equally I didn’t just sit down in three days and write a novel which was instantly accepted. It took me several months and then I received a form letter in the post so fast from Harlequin/Mills & Boon, it made my head spin. However, getting that form rejection letter really spurred me on. My immediate goal became — the next time, they will not be able to dismiss me that easily.
I went back to basics and wrote another manuscript and sent it off. It was over Christmas and I hoped for a slow response. It was a quick one — a request for the full manuscript from a proper editor. That one was eventually rejected as well, but next one (a hugely revised version of my first manuscript) went to revisions and I gained an editor who was willing to work with me and answer questions.  It took several more manuscripts and a change of series to Historical (the editor was hugely support of this) for me to sell to Harlequin.  By that time, the editor had left the company after giving the manuscript we had worked on to her senior editor.  I then had a very long wait of nearly a year while the manuscript was reviewed and then revised.  Since June 2005, I have written 27 more books which Harlequin Historical has purchased. I am currently waiting on my editor’s thoughts for the 28th one and  there is more to come.

If I had given up at the first hurdle, at the first rejection or when the words became tough in the first manuscript, none of this would have happened. So if you feel overwhelmed by not fulfilling your New Year’s resolutions, start afresh today. Make the change happen. It may lead to something wonderful. Persistence worked for me.
Michelle Styles writes warm, witty and intimate historical romance for Harlequin Historical, her latest Sent as the Viking’s Bride is out now. Visit Michelle Styles’s website  for more information about her and her books.
Read a little of Sent as the Viking's Bride.

Monday, January 14, 2019

Christina Hollis: Oranges and Lemons

When I’m not writing, I like to grow delicious things to eat. This has been a great year for my collection of citrus trees. They're not keen on English weather, so I grow them in big tubs and keep them in a greenhouse between September and May. In early summer, I wheel them outside and line them up in the sunshine—or what passes for sunshine 800 feet up a breezy, east-facing Gloucestershire hillside!

Part of our crop 
My interest started one Shrove Tuesday (Pancake Day). I told the children I'd love to try growing our own lemons. Three weeks later, on the day before Mothering Sunday, a mysterious parcel arrived. It was a little Meyer lemon tree—a present from my daughter.

We had some good crops from that tree over the next few years. Sadly a very long, cold and wet winter finished it off. Citrus fruit don’t like too much moisture, and the atmosphere inside the greenhouse was too damp for it. 

That lemon tree’s successor had almost sixty fruits on it this year. Lemon curd made with eggs from our hens is a million times better than the stuff sold in the shops. It’s a lovely deep yellow colour too, thanks to those golden organic yolks.

My orange tree only has one ripe fruit!
As well as a lemon tree, I have a Tahiti lime, and a Seville orange fruiting at the moment. I bought a small yuzu bush earlier this year, but that will need to be a bit older before it produces any flowers. 

It will soon be marmalade-making time, but my single ripe orange won’t produce enough peel and juice on its own. I’ll have to buy some fruit to add to it!

The tahiti lime is fruiting for the first time. Until this morning it has fifteen fruit on it. Now there are only eleven left, as I made what Tesco calls Key Lime Pie. I’m not sure what Florida residents will think about the recipe, but it was very easy to make and absolutely delicious. 

This picture is courtesy of Pixabay—my basic pie looked the same, but the presentation was so much prettier I used this photo instead of my own. 

Have you ever grown anything exotic?

Christina Hollis's first non-fiction book, Struggle and Suffrage in Bristol will be published by Pen and Sword Books on 28th February 2019. You can find out more about that here, catch up with her at, on Twitter, Facebookand see a full list of her published books at

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Pop vs. Soda

I'm went to Susan Gable's this weekend to film more Trippin' with Holly and Susan videos. They're so much fun to make because they're really just the two of us gabbing. That's something we do well and with ease. We talk about anything from our writing/books, to pop vs. soda. Yes, that's a thing. Different regions have different words for the same thing. It's not just a US thing.

I have some lovely UK friends. One of them taught me that the word knackered meant tired. It was a big conference so I was knackered a lot of the time.  I happened to mention my knackeredness to my dear friend, Kate Walker (who also blogs here) and she said I shouldn't be knackered because it meant tired, but in an "after-glow" sort of way.  Uh, Himself (my husband) was in Erie and I was not, so I definitely wasn't that kind of knackered. When I mentioned it to my other friend, she said that wasn't right. So we went to the ultimate authority, some English editors. They said I could indeed be knackered even though Himself was in Erie. LOL And then it was agreed that Kate had a dirty, dirty mind. (Said with a very English accent and a smile, so it was endearing.)

Regionalisms. They're more fun than you think. You can listen to my discussion with Susan here...
(Yes, she won the Pigs in a Blanket debate!)

We post videos (most) Mondays and Fridays. You can follow them on FB, or I park them all here on YouTube.

I will say that when I'm knackered, I do love a good pop! 



Check out 2018's releases!!
(And keep an eye out for 2019's! There are a bunch!):

Wednesday, January 09, 2019

The appeal of the single dad

There’s something very appealing, isn’t there, about a loving dad and his sweet baby?

I had a friend who was a single dad with a dear little girl. He went on a walking vacation with her in a backpack and said he couldn’t get over how much female attention he attracted. I told him I didn’t know why he was so surprised!

I like to challenge myself in my writing. My February release for Harlequin Romance, Second Chance with the Single Dad, is my first “single dad” story. It’s also my first “friends to lovers” story.

Girl-next-door schoolteacher Georgia Lang and handsome self-made millionaire Wil Hudson go way back as “just friends.” They know each other so well they claim to read each other’s thoughts. But not everyone wishes the platonic friends well and the friendship ends abruptly and painfully. What happens when Wil becomes a single dad to adorable baby Nina and asks Georgia for help? Can they salvage the friendship—and perhaps acknowledge the tiny flickering flames that just might have been there all along?

Here's the blurb for the story:

From long-lost friends...
To newfound family?

“Georgia and Wil were best friends until he married and disappeared from her life. Now he’s back, asking Georgia to forget the past and help him secure his future—the daughter he never knew he had! Georgia’s heart goes out to new dad Wil, but there’s an uncharted chemistry fizzing between them and she must protect her heart. Can they confront their unspoken attraction and finally become a family?”

I’m always seeing on social media happily married couples saying they married their best friend. Do you think friends-to-lovers is a good basis for a happy relationship? Or do you prefer the quick flare of instant attraction?

I’d love to see your comments! Post a comment to be in the draw for a signed copy of my new release Second Chance with the Single DadPlease include your email contact if you’d like to be in the draw.

Second Chance with the Single Dad is a February 2019 release from Harlequin Romance in North America; Mills & Boon True Love in the UK; and Mills & Boon Forever Romance in Australia and New Zealand.

Kandy Shepherd is a multi-published, award-winning author of contemporary romance and women’s fiction. She lives on a small farm in the Blue Mountains near Sydney, Australia, with her family and a menagerie of four-legged friends.

Visit Kandy at her website

Connect with Kandy on FacebookTwitter,Pinterestand Instagram

Wednesday, January 02, 2019

So Many Changes! By Susan Sands

Let me start by wishing everyone a very happy new year!! My life mirrors the old adage of "out with
Our Boudreaux
 the old and in with the new" like never before. I've complained incessantly on this blog as we've had three contracts on my house fall through over the last two years. We had so much hope and then excitement turned into bitter disappointment as the sales fell apart.

But, just before Christmas, we finally sold the old unique property we'd lived in for the past eighteen years. Hurray!! After two-and-a-half years on the market and a new realtor, the sale went the distance to closing. We lost our shirts as expected but the home is now a lovely memory as the place where our kids grew up. It was their childhood home and the place of many Christmases past, along with birthdays and other important milestones in our lives.  But we are thrilled to wave goodbye and move forward and embrace the next chapter.

Unfortunately, our sweet love, our family dog of eight years, Boudreaux, had been declining all the while we were packing and moving. We lost him the day after the move three days before Christmas. He was suffering from a neurological condition and a spinal tumor that affected his hind legs. I can hardly type this without tears.

Boudreaux's counterpart pup, Watson, has rolled with so much change in losing his sidekick and moving to a new place with amazing grace. I can tell he wonders and looks for Boudreaux and I wish I could explain it all to him puppy style.

There are still a few boxes left to unpack and moving from a giant house to a townhome has been a massive feat. I've donated so many things even after having an estate sale last year where I unloaded most of my furniture, rugs and art. I sold the baby grand piano just before I moved. So, I thought I was ready for the sizing down. Ha. Not so much.

Change has come to us in ways we've hoped and some we feared, but time moves forward and now we're embracing this new year in new surroundings with one less family member.

Again, Happy New Year to you and yours!! May it bring all the good and none of the bad.


Monday, December 31, 2018

Goodbye 2018.....

The rest of that would, in my case, be...and don't let the door hit you in the arse! It's been no secret that 2018 continued my series of horrible, no good years after the debacle that was 2017. BUT -- as the year ends, I've been trying to concentrate on the happy and good things that happened or that I did this last year. You know, trying to get a sense of positivity in place before going into the new year tonight. So, I've decided to post some of my favorite places or experiences that I had this year... (with abject apologies for the placement of the photos!)

Ireland -- one of the very highest, most favorite places and times of this year and my life.  This year, we laughed like loons all the way through our visit. I needed that so much!

On the road from Cong to Leenane
Dun Aengus on Inis Mor
ALL the sweaters on Inis Mor
Driving the Gap of Dunloe in Killarney
Climbing Clogherhead - the Atlantic behind us!

 Chicago - we went along to babysit my granddaughter while my son and daughter-in-law attended the Pearl Jam concert. Chicago is one of my favorite cities...we took the architectural boat tour and enjoyed breakfast at so many great restaurants....and walked miles....

a WhiteSox game!
Iconic Wrigley Building
Yeah! Pearl Jam played here

The city from Lake Michigan

Hermit Week - each year I spend a week with 12 other writers in a house on the beach on Isle of Palms. It's a week of writing....and writing...and rejuvenation and relaxation among others of my kind....AND I get to meet with readers from a local library's romance group, too!

a panoramic view of the morning
Meeting with local readers and librarian!
Spectacular clouds over the ocean
Tumultuous clouds all week!

So, 2018 did find me in some rather amazing places....I'll just focus on those as I move into 2019. Resolutions? Nah....I'm just going to look...forward. Happy New Year to you all!

How about you? What good person, place, thing or event happened to you in 2018?

Terri did write (some) in 2018 -- her novella THE STORYTELLER, past of the GHOSTS OF CULLODEN MOOR, was released in September as an Amazon exclusive and is still available. More Harlequin Historical releases coming in 2019! Visit her website for more info or subscribe to her newsletter.

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Ho Ho Ho Happy Holidays by Jenny Gardiner

Hey there!
This post probably catches you in the throes of the craziness of the holiday season, but I hope you've got a few minutes to read this funny little story that my family laughs about every year.
Here's wishing you and yours a very Merry Christmas, a Happy Kwanza, and belated Happy Hanukkah, a Happy, healthy and safe New Year, and any other thing you might be celebrating, may it be full of love and laughter and family!

    I’m a sucker for the Christmas season. Always have been. Don’t know if it’s the deluded optimism the holiday thrusts upon us, or just a strange affinity for otherwise maudlin songs dressed up as cheerful seasonal chestnuts. I mean, let’s be honest, at any other time of year, who would actually listen wistfully to a yawner like “The Little Drummer Boy”?
    Whatever it is, I have always ensured that my family gets into the holiday spirit, starting with finding the perfect Christmas tree.
    When I was a kid, the search for the ultimate yuletide tree took us to the nearest gas station: hardly a romantic venue from which to choose the centerpiece of our holiday decor. We’d pile into the station wagon for the three-block drive to Buck’s Esso station, spill out onto the oil-slicked parking lot, mull over three or four already-netted spruce trees, and then dad would haggle down the price. End of story.
    Ah, so I was determined to rewrite that tradition with my own family. Early in my marriage, we decided the most festive tree-acquisition could only be achieved by cutting down our own (plus you get the added benefit of the needles actually staying onthe tree all month rather than littering the floor). Because we lived in citified Northern Virginia, the cachet of escaping to the “country”--i.e. the closest remaining patch of farmland untainted by greedy developers--only added to the allure.
    But one year, I found myself almost wishing for the chance to just pop down to the local gas station to buy a tree…
    That year, my husband and our three children, all under the age of four, trekked to the Clifton Christmas Tree Farm, where awaiting us were candy canes, hot chocolate, homemade wreaths and the typical abundance of forced holiday cheer that we craved.
    I had whipped my kids into a tree-chopping frenzy, and so they took their task quite seriously. For forty minutes, we foraged throughout the whopping half-acre “farm” until we found the perfect tree: seven feet of holiday splendor, as wide as it was tall, perfect to fill our cathedral-ceiling’ed living room and flood us with the Christmas spirit.
    The kids took turns on the ground with the saw while my husband supervised the chopping honors. Their excitement was palpable. We dragged the tree back to the cashier stand where the farmer’s son coiled the netting around our white pine. The kids stood by, sucking on candy canes, sipping hot cider and petting the farmer’s dog, who’d recently wandered over. I was just about to retrieve the car to load on the tree, when Fido lifted his leg.
    “No!” I shouted in what seemed like a frame-by-frame slow motion, as a steady stream was released onto our perfect tree.
    For a moment we stood stupefied, not knowing what to do. But we weren’t about to keep a tree covered in dog wee, so we grabbed the kids’ hands to head back into the wilds to hunt for a replacement one.
    Until our kids let us know in no uncertain terms, that this tree was the one, the only. They threw themselves on the ground, flailing and crying, thrashing and moaning, like something from a Greek tragedy. They wanted their special tree, and nothing else would suffice.
    Their wails did not subside until we relented, and agreed to load up the tainted tree.
    The farmer found a makeshift bucket, filled it from a nearby stream and doused the offending urine from the tree. We loaded it onto the roof of the car, and went home.
    I have to admit, I sort of detached emotionally from the tree that year. Couldn’t quite get over the psychological hurdle of having a tree the dog peed on in my living room. Somehow it clashed with the whole festive notion.
    But for my kids, the tree was just about perfect, despite its incumbent flaws. And maybe that’s exactly why I like the holidays so much: because at this time of year, we’re all a little more likely to forgive the small things in order to see the bigger picture.

Great news! I've got another free book for you to try! Falling for Mr. Wrong from the Falling for Mr. Wrong series is now free here:

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:

Lastly, don't forget, book one of the It's Reigning Men series, Something in the Heir, is free here!

I hope you'll have a chance to check out my Royal Romeos series, which is a spin-off of my wildly popular It's Reigning Men series--please do check them out!

Skirt ChaserBoy Toy and Cabana Boy are available!

Happy reading!