Thursday, March 31, 2016

In Like a Lion, Out Like....What?

 . . . a lamb.... March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb. Or it's supposed to! Considering our excessively mild winter here in the mid-Atlantic area, March came in quietly, too!  Yes, you hear disappointment in my voice over the lack of winter - and especially the lack of snow. We had one 'blizzard' and a handful of 'polite' snows (you know the kind - the snow lands only on the grass and the roads are completely clear?). Not impressed. 

  Worse, the mild winter is leading us to a terrible allergy season - estimates say that there will be 30-35% more pollen. . . I'm wheezing already! LOL! 

  In my life, I think it will be the opposite path - March has been my quiet time. I've taken the month to recuperate from a really punishing writing/publishing schedule over the last 2+ years. I've written/revised/edited/re-wrote 6 books in 30 months....alternating between two series and publishers. So, for this little short time, I don't have a writing deadline and have taken a deep breath and let it out. (No worries - since it won't last!)

    April is always a very busy month for me - regardless of any writing commitments - and this year will be no different. I'm really excited because of a new opportunity for me - I'll be attending the LoveLetters Convention in Berlin, Germany! I've heard so many good things about this romance readers' convention and am thrilled to have the chance to attend as a featured author. I'll be presenting a talk about Traveling and Researching along with Michelle Willingham (with lots of photos of Scotland and Ireland and England), meeting readers during 'Speed Dating' and signing my latest German release -Der Highlander und die stolze Schönheit aka The Highlander's Dangerous Temptation. That's so cool since that is the book that hit the USA Today's bestselling list here in the US! 

     My only concern is that I might cause an international incident if I try to speak German. Foreign languages are certainly not my forte so I'll try to not to offend anyone during my trip! 

     This is my first time visiting Berlin and Germany -- if you have any suggestions about places to visit or see, anything I should not miss, please post it in a comment below! I need some suggestions for sightseeing. 

  And, at home, I'll be celebrating the release  Blazing Earth, the third book in my Stone Circle fantasy historical romance series. Writers talk about the 'black moment' in a story - the point in the story when everything falls apart and a happily-ever-after cannot be possible. This book is the black moment of my series, when the Warriors of Destiny face their darkest fears and the fate of humanity is at risk. It was a scary, emotional story for me to write and I am so thrilled with the results.... 

As has happened with the first two in the series, I seem to be tapped into something cosmic while planning and writing this book, too. In choosing locations for my stone circles, I avoided the best known ones and selected others nearby - or made them up. In setting this story in England, I did not want to use Stonehenge (too obvious!) so I looked around the area on maps and decided on a site a couple of miles away, a place that just seemed natural for a stone circle. So, imagine my shock when research about the Stonehenge area was published, showing a massive circle located in Durrington Wall -- um....where MY circle is!! Crazy but true! Hope you'll give it a try! 

So - how has your March been? Looking forward to anything in April? Any suggestions for what to see in Germany? Let me know! 

Terri is working on some future projects and getting ready for her trip to Germany. Make sure to stop by her FB page at 6pm EDT on Friday, 4/1 for some exciting news for lovers of Scottish historical romances.. Or connect with Terri through her website for lots more info!     

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

A Witch On A Mission

One day I’m serving lunch, cleaning tables and sweeping the floors at The Brew, my families diner and the next day I’m undercover playing spy for SKUL, a little-known division of Interpol – the Secret Keepers of the Universal Laws. And working with Agent Mick Jasper, who IS altogether putting a spell on me with his dark hair, crystal blue eyes, and perfectly white teeth that I’d love to knock out of his head.
Yeah, I’m a little bitter. I was simply playing a game of Truth or Spell with my sister Lilith after I had complained to her that I was never going get my Witchy Hour and get out of the diner, when I lost the game and put a kitty cat spell on Mick, who just happened to be walking by when I lost. Mick was simply supposed to be turned into a cat for a few hours and not remember a thing. One problem, he was undercover and he didn’t forget.
As luck would have it, he found me at the diner and insists I help him with the investigation because I blend in with the crowd. I’m not sure if that was an insult, but he has no idea I’m a witch and I far from blend in. A witch on a mission to get her Witchy Hour.

Spies and Spells
SPIES AND SPELLS, the first in this highly anticipated new series from USA TODAY Bestseller Tonya Kappes because we know she's a queen at writing paranormal mystery witch series, is here! 

Spies and Spells 
Spies and Spells Book 1 
While Maggie waits for her Witchy Hour, she works at the family diner with her mom, aunt Meme and Lilith, her sister - all witches. Soon Maggie gets entangled with a mysterious handsome stranger, Mick Jasper, and his secret U.S. organization, SKUL. Has she found her calling? 

Be sure to visit each blog on the Spies and Spells blog tour. At each stop you will notice a bold and italicized word. These words make up one sentence. On April 9th, the last blog stop, you will have to opportunity to answer the sentence question and be entered to win a Tonya Kappes Loves Her Readers Mystery Box! On each blog stop, you will be able to enter a Rafflecopter giveway for a $50 Amazon Gift Card and signed print copy of Spies and Spells from Tonya Kappes. An added bonus~ All the blog titles are in the word search puzzle above. There are four extra mystery words in the word search. Find them and be entered to win a Starbucks Gift Card, Kappes mini Tote, Kappes flashlight pen, and Kappes sticky notes! You will be able to tell them to Tonya on April 9th! Good luck!

Spies and Spells Blog Tour Schedule
April 1st: Brookes Blog
April 3rd: Cozy Up With Kathy
April 9th: Tonya Kappes Blog

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, March 27, 2016

My New Romance Home

by Joanne Rock

Readers who have been following my books for more than a handful of years know that I like to write all kinds of books. I love all kinds of romance—from sexy and fun to emotional and complex, from historical settings to the Young Adult world. Falling in love is a wonderful and intriguingly complicated business no matter that age, no matter the era, and I’m completely fascinated with it.

That’s why I’ve been very lucky that Harlequin—and my readers!—have been so patient with me over the years as I dream up new ways to tell the Boy Meets Girl story. Before I ever sold a book, I wrote medieval historical romances. Those were the stories that first drove me to a computer, the stories that wouldn’t let me go and demanded I figure out how to be a writer. They are a core part of my inner storyteller, and I will always have another historical inside me even if I’m not actively writing them at this time. One day, there will be more of them.

But the readership for historicals was tricky to reach. Editors are mindful of trends in this smaller segment of the romance readership, buying more medieval books some years, and very few medieval
Available April 19
stories others. While struggling to make a first sale with historicals, I thought I’d take a closer peek at contemporaries to see why so many more people read them. Soon, I found a whole new world of books to enjoy.

Pinpointing Harlequin’s “red cover” books as something I quite liked, I tried to pen something in the style of then-Temptation authors Lori Foster and Stephanie Bond. I had so much fun I couldn’t stop writing them, certain I was closer to the mark. I sold two Temptations and got a request from my editor to try writing something even newer—a Harlequin Blaze.

At the time, Blaze was a miniseries within the Temptation series. But I thought I understood what the editor wanted for the new line. I quickly sold three Blazes and found myself busy writing for two lines. It was a dream come true for me since I was getting to tell lots of stories and could bend my voice in different directions for each series. Too soon, however, Temptation stopped publishing, leaving me with extra time and creativity to spare.

I promptly turned back to those medieval historical manuscripts. Didn’t I love them? With my new writing confidence, I revised them, editing and polishing. Soon, I sold two of them to Harlequin Historicals and happily went back to work for a second series, moving back and forth between Blaze and Historicals.

Harlequin welcomed the occasional other project, too. A Special Edition for a continuity. A few Special Releases and a Signature Select, other Harlequin programs that gave my Muse fun opportunities to tell still more kinds of stories. Things were rocking along just fine until book sales of all kinds started to fall.

I kept writing because I enjoyed it so much, but I had to work harder and write more to maintain the same level of income I’d made in prior years. Harlequin felt the squeeze, trimming some of their series from six books down the four books, streamlining their offerings. They worked to find better distribution for the books, moving some of the series to digital only. Publishers and writers alike wondered how to stay viable while the industry experienced massive growing pains.

I tried different things too. I did something totally new for me and wrote a series of Young Adult books under the J.K. Rock pseudonym with my sister in law, Karen. I tried writing for Harlequin Superromance and dug deep into longer, more complex stories. Maybe I was hoping by the time I finished one of those long books, the industry would be done with its growing pains and we could all return to business as usual.

As always, the writing sustained me, as did the readers. I started writing sexy books again, this time for Harlequin Desire, and I’m balancing this with the Superromances, keeping my Muse happily engaged and busy. My first one, His Secretary’s Surprise Fiancé was a March release and my second, Secret Baby Scandal will be available May 1 for download. By the time September rolls around, you can read the fourth book in my Heartache, TN series for Superromance, Whispers Under a Southern Sky. I’m having a great time. One day, I just know a medieval warrior will ride into my life and sweep me off my feet, demanding I tell his story. And I will. But for now, I’m lost in a world of rich and powerful billionaire heroes, and I couldn’t be happier to linger…

**What kind of hero is captivating you lately? Billionaires, cowboys or Vikings? Athlete heroes or sexy sheriffs? Share with me today and I’ll send one random commenter a copy of my first Desire, His Secretary’s Surprise Fiancé!

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Eve Gaddy: Scandalous Billionaires

Today I want to tell you about a very special project I'm proud to be part of. Scandalous Billionaires is a sizzling set of stories set on the Amalfi Coast. Four of my friends and I--Katherine Garbera, Mimi Wells, Nancy Robards Thompson, Kathleen O'Brien and Eve Gaddy-- wanted to set our stories on a fictional island off the fabled Amalfi Coast. We decided that all our heroes were billionaires because, well, billionaires are hot. Ours certainly are.:) The setting is the fabulous Isola Del Sole at the Hotel dei Fiori and we gave our billionaires strong, feisty women to fall for. There's a little bit of everything in the Scandalous Billionaires box set. Intrigue, deception, mistaken identities, and a lot of long, steamy nights!

The Billionaire’s Temptation by Katherine Garbera

Rocco De Luca lives and loves in the fast lane. A past Formula 1 champ, he has been jetting around the world arranging celebrity charity races and partying with the world’s elite. Coming home to Isola del Fiori and filling in for his older brother for a few weeks sounds…well, boring. Until he meets Steffi Harlan.
Steffi Harlan is sophisticated, elegant, and way too smart to fall for a tanned chest and a bad-boy smile, or so she thinks, until she’s put in charge of keeping the jet-set playboy out of trouble while he’s gone. Sure, no problem. Except Steffi isn’t immune to Rocco’s charms.
They burn up the nights they spend together, and the last thing Steffi wants is to crash out and end up with a broken heart… Can they both survive love in the fast lane?


After quitting her first “real” job, Janine Pike takes off for Europe, saving an excursion to the famed Isola del Sole for last. But when her travel-mates sail off with her backpack, phone, and passport after a night of partying, she’s left only with the euros in her pocket and the faint hope that her estranged half-sister, who works at the renowned Hotel Dei Fiori Isola del Sole, might help her.
Shel Myerson, amateur racecar driver and wildly successful TV mogul, oozes wealth and prestige. What he doesn’t have much of is privacy, thanks to a recent and ugly public breakup. What he doesn’t expect is to be mistaken as an employee by a very pretty—and very broke—Janine, the one person in Europe who also doesn’t have any idea who he is.
Shel and Janine discover their chemistry is combustible—but will their budding relationship survive the heat once the press catches on?

As heir of Dei Fiori Enterprises, Matteo De Luca‘s single focus after his father’s untimely death is rebuilding his family legacy and hotel empire. After two years, he’s close to achieving his goal, but there’s one person standing in his way… A sexy distraction he’d never anticipated.
Two years after her beloved husband’s death, Helena Von Lienz knows it’s finally time to let go. With her share of a hotel business, Helena heads to the Amalfi Coast in search of closure, and a portrait created for her by her late husband. What she doesn’t anticipate to discover during those hot Amalfi nights are some unexpected truths about her late hubby, and a strong sensual shared desire with Matteo, the sexy and ambitious CEO of Dei Fiori…
Will mixing business with pleasure be the end, or just the beginning, for Matteo and Helena?

High School art teacher Sophie Smith is usually the most honest of women. But when her dearest friend and mentor asks her to be her stand-in on a two-week vacation at an Amalfi Coast luxury resort, she won’t let her down… even if it means posing as a rich, pampered socialite.
As it turns out, Sophie could get used to this, especially handsome, enigmatic gardener Declan Muldoon who’s strangely more thrilling than any of the billionaires buzzing around. She ends up falling for him—hard.
Then Sophie discovers she’s not the only one pretending. Declan’s gardener gig is temporary. He’s actually the black sheep of a very wealthy, powerful family, a man who appears to be in need of an heiress.
An heiress exactly like Sophie is pretending to be…

Summer St. Croix hates weddings. But when she meets hot-as-sin Luke Vanetti at her oldest friend’s ceremony, he promises to give her a reason to like them.
It’s all sexy fun and games until Summer realizes that Luke is none other than her new boss. Summer refuses to continue to have a fling with her superior, even though the passion between them still runs wildfire hot. But the billionaire private investigator doesn’t see the problem, especially since he knows that one night with Summer won’t be enough.
When Luke’s cousin sends an SOS asking for help in stopping a ring of jewel thieves from robbing his luxury hotel on the Amalfi Coast, Luke agrees. And Summer’s first assignment will be posing as his very sexy, rich, and bejeweled fiancée  at the Hotel dei Fiori Isola del Sole.
Playing the happy couple is hard enough during the day, but the nights… will those romantic Amalfi nights turn the charade into more than just a job for both Summer and Luke… for good?

Escape to Italy’s fabled Amalfi Coast with five USA Today Bestselling and award-winning authors for a limited time at a special price!

Pre-order the Scandalous Billionaires box set now, for only $0.99! Get your FREE copy of Nona's Cookbook when you preorder the box set. Just send a screenshot of your preorder page to . Copies will be sent out starting next week.

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Wednesday, March 23, 2016

It's Near Miss Day

I have a fascination with weird holidays. Christmas and New Year's, Valentine's and St. Patrick's Day - those are great holidays. Mainstream holidays. But, did you know that if you look around enough there are days that celebrate, for example, the chocolate chip, or the pecan, the chicken and even the invention of Coca-Cola...the best drink ever.

Let's reflect on Coca-Cola for a moment....

Oh, you're back already. Okay, let's carry on. Traditional holidays are great, but it's those non-traditional celebrations that are really, really interesting.

For example, did you know today is National Chip and Dip Day? It's also Melba Toast Day. Get thee forth to the grocery and pick up your favorite chips-and-dips or Melba toast for snack times!

March 23 is also Near Miss Day. On this day in 1989 an asteroid bigger than an aircraft carrier came within 500,000 miles of the Earth...scientists didn't notice the asteroid until about a week later. 500,000 miles might sound like a lot of space but in, ah, space terms, it's close. And because it was so close and no one knew about it, it was a wake-up call to astronomers, scientists and space agencies to pay more attention to the skies around us. After all, scientists are certain it was a large asteroid that wiped out the dinosaurs...and we're a lot smaller than dinosaurs.

One of my favorite movies is Armageddon - I love the relationship between AJ and Harry, Harry and Grace and (of course) Grace and AJ. I'm not sure if that movie was inspired by the actual Near Miss Day, but I couldn't leave it out of a post about near misses and asteroids, could I? My favorite part of the movie isn't when Harry tells Grace goodbye, and it isn't when AJ sings Leaving on a Jet Plane to Grace. It's that moment in the meeting room when they're deciding who to bring on the mission. Harry brings up AJ, and Grace says, "I thought you said you couldn't trust him." Harry replies, "I thought you said I could?"

For me, that is a big moment between father and daughter - he's still uncertain, but he is willing to take a chance. Because of her. I love that moment. And now that I know there is such a thing as a Near Miss Day, I'd like to think it inspired the movie and even that moment.

What about you? Do you like weird holidays?

Kristina Knight's latest release, What the Bachelor Gets, is the first in her brand new
Billionaire Cowboys trilogy:

All Gage Reeves wants is to make a success of his new luxury shopping development on the Vegas Strip. Callie Holliday dreams of having the hottest day spa in Vegas. For these childhood friends, business is becoming decidedly personal...and it's risky business gambling on love.

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

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Staying Focused and Productive – the Power of the Writing Workout Partner by Joanne Walsh

Dieting or exercising alongside a partner can be really beneficial for keeping committed to and focused on your goal.  You have to show up at an appointed time because the other person has, and there’s someone you have to be accountable to.  When one gets tired or discouraged, the other can keep things going.  It also can be a lot of fun doing it with somebody else, rather than inching along on your own.  Is it the same for writing?

By nature, though I can relish solitude, on the whole I am sociable and want others’ input.  I am a member of a creative support group of four writers—we call ourselves The Diamonds.  We meet regularly to talk about writing and what we’re working on.  We set aside time for each member to read out a few pages of their current novel and then offer constructive feedback.  We listen to one another’s successes and setbacks with publishers and agents, and share valuable insights into the publishing business.  Sometimes, we break out to write together or in pairs.

Getting together with The Diamonds is the highlight of my month.  We keep each other on track and from sliding into the despair when a character or plot thread won’t come right, or if life is getting in the way of writing, with gallons of supportiveness and laughter. This is one productive writing habit I’ll be sticking to!

Joanne Walsh became hooked on romance when her grandma gave her a copy of Gone with the Wind for her birthday. The teachers at her strict girls' school didn't approve of reading such a 'racy' novel and confiscated it. But Joanne had been introduced to Rhett Butler and so began her life-long love affair with the rogue alpha hero. She became a voracious romance reader and, later, enjoyed a long career as an editor for one of the world's leading women's fiction publishers, where she collaborated with some wonderful writers.
These days, Joanne lives in the south of England and divides her time between working as a freelance fiction editor and writing romance, and spending time with her very own real-life hero...

Monday, March 21, 2016

Barbara Ankrum: Naming Characters

As an author, I get a lot of questions about process. How do I start? What’s the first thing I come up with? Plot? Conflict? Characters?


That’s my answer. All of the above. Because all of those things are so interconnected, I usually have all three in my head as I’m thinking up a new book. Characters and character arcs factor in heavily, because I have to know where these two people are going and what they’re going to learn along the way. What’s in the way of that journey is the conflict.

But before I can start the actual writing, I need the H & H’s names. How characters look is often secondary. Names are essential to me to get a handle on character.  Sometimes, I just know them immediately. Other times, I go through lists. After I pick a name, I will scroll through photos and Internet Movie Data Base (IMDB—a movie geek site) for faces until I find the right look (that fits the name.) Mind you, this might seem like surface stuff, but it’s not. It’s all connected to character and conflict and back story and how I feel about the character.

This rule, however, can backfire on me. In a recent book I was forced to change the names of both characters three times, which—not coincidentally—also entailed rewriting the entire beginning as many times, because the name can essentially change how I think about a character and a character’s voice. And the characters (and story) were just not working for me. Oy!

Then there was the time, a couple of books ago, (I won’t divulge which one…) when I was about three-quarters of the way through, merrily typing away, and I looked at my hero’s name (as one does) and suddenly felt my heart sink. I’d been writing his name for a few months and never once did I recall that I’d actually used his name once before for another hero. (Wha—??) It was an old book, written a long time ago, granted, but still.  Two heroes with the same name would be…wrong.
For a whole day, I froze, horrified at the prospect that this guy I’d been writing all along would need a new name and the thought of changing it mid-stream is just…just…I can’t even. It was like giving my heroine a whole new guy! Not only that, I felt it might essentially change the tone of the story I was telling if I changed it then. Go on, you can think I’m crazy. I don’t mind.

I knew it would be easier for my readers to accept a different name for my hero (from the start) than it would for me to change it, mid-stream, so I decided to finish the book using the original name rather than try to change it as I was just getting to the black moment. That would allow me to continue with him emotionally without disruption. So when I finished the book, I did a soul search for a name I could fall for and after a long day of rejecting possibilities, I found one. I did a global search and replaced his name.

Moral of the story: everyone loved his name. No one thought he was weird or wrong. I even loved his name in the end and felt it added something unique to him. But I was glad I didn’t mess with him in the telling of the story. Who knows what might have happened?

But that just goes to show how delicate the process of creation is. Or the craziness of the creators! (Eh-hem…speaking only for myself, of course.)

I can still remember the names some of my favorite heroes and heroines from books I read years ago. My keepers. What are some of your all time faves?

Barbara Ankrum’s brand new historical romance, THE RUINATION OF ESSIE SPARKS—Book #2 of her Wild Western Rogues Series—hits the stands April 2, 2016!

Saturday, March 19, 2016

It Takes a Village by Jenny Gardiner

While the phrase "it takes a village" always sounds a little cliche, it really does hold true for the career of most writers. It's the rare author who launches from the starting gate into the stratosphere without many people behind her (or him) helping in so many ways.

It's hard to even recount some of the many, many people who have helped me to get to where I am at this point in my career. Certainly first and foremost to thank is my husband, whose constant support has bolstered me through the ups and downs I've experienced as a writer. And I'm most appreciative of his reliable income: when mine was most unreliable, I was still able to persist in my efforts to help sustain us financially with my income as an author. Without him I could not have continued to try to plug away at a career as an author. And my kids, who have ridden the highs and lows alongside me as well and been my biggest cheerleaders. That goes for so very many family members who have been there for me on the sidelines (starting with my mom, who bought me my first laptop so I could write books while waiting for my kids at various after school practices and while on the road for soccer matches).

Many fellow authors loom large for me: those who have been in the trenches alongside me and shared in the frustrations and successes---and there have been many of both. These include writers I've befriended and become good friends with online, some from writing groups, others I've met at conferences. And of course the lovely ladies of the Girlfriends Book Club---an amazing group and super supportive. Many of my writer friends are women and it's a unique sisterhood we all have forged for ourselves in this business that has often been inherently more challenging for women than men. But there are a lot of guys who write whose input and support has been invaluable as well.

And there are authors who were way ahead of me in the business and were kind enough to reach a hand down to help pull me up: the lovely and hilarious Meg Cabot, who kindly blurbed my first novel for me; Jane Porter as well for that matter. And a host of author friends who kindly took the time to read and blurb my books also, which is asking a lot when they have their own books to write and edit: Kristy KiernanEileen Cook (who's got the book of the spring launching soon!), Lauren Baratz-LogstedSuzanne MacPhersonBev Katz RosenbaumWade Rouse (who also has a much buzzed-about book coming out soon), Beth HoffmanSarah PekkanenAd Hudler.

And some top-tier authors who are all-around good people: the late Pat Conroy, such a lovely, humble and exceedingly talented writer, and Jamie Ford, so funny and so poignant, both come to mind.

Along the way I've had some terrific editors, who help so much to polish a book to its full luster: Chris Keeslar, Emily Westlake, both in the land of traditional publishing, and now folks like Anne Victory and Nikki BuschJen Pooley (who will honestly tell you when you need to know when to fold 'em), and Bev Katz Rosenbaum. I couldn't be where I am without thanking Kim Killion, who creates excellent covers for my books. And my assistant Joanne Levy, who truly has the patience of a saint when it comes to disorganized me.

And I can't forget my excellent agent Holly Root who without doubt has the patience of Job with me...and who will one day get The Book from me. It's fermenting in my brain as I write this. And a shout-out to agent Jeff Kleinman, who gave me lots of early encouragement when I really needed it.

And last but of course far from least, loyal and lovely readers: without whom I'd never have gotten past my first novel---and wow, did readers help to bolster my confidence when I launched my first novel! I'd be an awfully lonely writer without supportive readers, who send the most wonderful emails and post awesome reviews just because they're really nice people, and who continue to seek out books I've written and pop in to say hi when they're on Facebook (and, um, maybe even send me some adorable panda pictures, which I love to obsess over): I can't say enough about how grateful I am to you all, who have stuck with me over the years and given me the impetus to keep on keeping on in this crazy business, because I know there are people out there who enjoy reading the books I write. For that I can't say thank you enough!

Geeze, I didn't mean to get all Academy Award on you here--not like I've been handed a gold statue and been asked for my acceptance speech or anything! But I think it is so important to thank everyone who has contributed to my getting here: I think more so in publishing than in  most traditional jobs, an author stands on many, many strong shoulders to get to where they've gotten, and to you all I say thank you, thank you, thank you! (and if I forgot to mention you, many mea culpas for that failure!).

So great news! I just released Throne for a Loop, book six in my It's Reigning Men series! It's available here: iBooksKindleKoboGooglePlayNook
And what do you think of the cover for book 7? I love it! It's available for pre-order, coming out May 24! You can get it here: iBooksKindleKoboGooglePlay
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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Thursday, March 17, 2016

Susan Stephens: Happy March!

Hello again! I hope March is being good to you 

Very soon, I’m going to be exchanging this…

For this....

Both beautiful, but one is around 10 degrees colder - I’ll leave you to guess which!

So we need something to keep us warm…


I’m really thrilled to share this fabulous cover with you. Featuring a new story, Seducing the Princess, as well as others by New York Times Best Selling author Shelli Stevens, USA Today Best Selling author Carole Mortimer, and Best Selling, award winning authors Heather Long and J.C. Makk.

My novella is a stand-alone story in the BlackHeart series, and I LOVE my hero Gideon Black. Gideon definitely gets more than he bargains for when he returns to Drakonia to protect the princess he’s always wanted…

Princess Angelika needs an heir...
The first time I met Gideon Black, I was a teenager. I hated him with a passion that kept me awake at night—as it has done every night since. Gideon is everything a queen in waiting should avoid: pure, unadulterated sex on two hard-muscled legs, and an attitude that can only be described as ruthless. Gideon
When Angel’s father begged me to protect his only child before he died, I knew this was a deal I could work with. Getting Angel pregnant would secure the throne for her, and give me an excuse to reconnect with the woman I’d often fantasied about. I wasn’t prepared for seeing Angel again. A tease at sixteen, she had grown into an irresistible, kick-ass woman.

Also available now!

When Cass and Marco first meet, it’s fireworks all the way…
Huge thanks to Alexandra Kay of RT Book Reviews for this…
BOUND TO THE TUSCAN BILLIONAIRE (4) by Susan Stephens: Cassandra Rich is thrilled to have scored a job as a gardener on an estate in Tuscany — until Italian industrialist Marco de Fivizzano shows up. Fiercely attracted to Cass, Marco talks her into being his date at a society function…which leads to an unplanned pregnancy. Excellent descriptions and a well-written storyline combine to make for an enjoyable read. Cass’s character comes off a bit insecure at first, which is the perfect foil — and attractor — for a powerful alpha male like Marco.

Coming soon from SUSAN STEPHENS in Harlequin Presents, and available for Pre-order now!

You want alpha males, decadent glamour and jet-set lifestyles. Step into the sensational, sophisticated world of Harlequin Presents, where sinfully tempting heroes ignite a fierce and wickedly irresistible passion!

In the Sheikh’s Service August 1st
A Diamond for Del Rio’s Housekeeper 1st November

Coming soon from SUSAN STEPHENS in the Lachmuirghan series

Kirsty Muir and the Lachmuirghan Guest House
Kirsty Muir and the Teacher of All Things

And that’s it for now. It only remains for me to wish you a very happy month of March with much love, good friendship, and plenty of hot romance.

Your friend and author,

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Spring Is Springing...

Spring is my favourite season. Summer is my second favourite, for the heat, but I love, love, love Spring for its promise. New shoots, early flowers, the clean smell in the air... Ah, Spring!

Sadly, it comes with a passing of the previous season, doesn't it? It wasn't too long ago when my daughter came home for the holidays and, with the help of her boyfriend, rolled up this stalwart guard for our driveway. 


A few weeks later, he got a bit goofy, doing the limbo. Actually, that was my husband and I, getting goofy with a couple of shovels as our poor snowman started to lean. Then he grew old, as we all do. I'm calling that last shot his footprint. I'm sure he just went off to colder climes. Right?

Sad as that is, it means Spring is here! It's the ides of March already! Well, that was yesterday and tomorrow is St. Patrick's Day. I'm right in the middle of the middle. Lucky me, that gives me a chance to offer you a chance to get lucky. (Not that kind of lucky ~ wink!)

I'm talking about a Facebook Party with Giveaways kind of lucky. 

Yes! I'm very excited that we're having a virtual party at Grey's Saloon in Marietta, Montana tomorrow. Loads of your favourite authors will be there! Times are in Pacific and you can join us by joining Main Street Marietta on Facebook here.

9 am Charlene Sands
10 am CJ Carmichael
11 am Debra Salonen
12 pm Katherine Garbera
1 pm Kathleen O'Brien
1 pm Roxanne Snopek
3 pm Anne McAllister
4 pm Dani Collins
5 pm Jane Porter

I hope you'll come! I'll be promoting Taken By The Raider, which takes place in Spring in Chicago--one of the top places for a St. Paddy's Day celebration, right?

I hope to see you at the party tomorrow. For now, I'll leave you with this pretty shot of my current releases on a field of tulips because, Spring.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

The Writing Process Spectrum by Michelle Styles

When discussing writing, people often divide writers into plotters v pantsters. I will confess to never having liked the terminology. For one thing, it implies that writers who primarily use intuition are not as good or competent at achieving a cohesive storyline as those who outline obsessively. This is blatantly not the case. There are  a myriad ways of writing a novel and most writers are somewhere on the spectrum of the two. The terminology is also clunky as it is hard to visualise a pantster and people can look at you strangely until you explain. Equally a plotter can make a writer sound Machiavellian or vaguely sinister.
This weekend, I watched a talk given by GRR Martin (the author of Game of Thrones). While he writes in the fantasy/Science fiction genre, much of what he had to say holds true for all writing.
For example, he gave a quote from William Faulkner about the human heart in conflict with itself is the only thing that matters in writing a good story. This is probably more true of the romance/woman’s fiction genre than the fantasy genre. The human heart in conflict is the core of all romance. It is why romance is a character driven genre and why it is the most popular genre. It is the characters.
What first drew me to his talk however, was his description of writers  as on the architects or gardener spectrum. An architect makes a plan first and knows precisely where all the wiring, the load bearing walls, the pipes for the plumbing will go before the spade full of earth is dug. There is little to no deviation from the plan. A gardener on the other hand may know  what type of seed  he has planted but he doesn’t  actually know what precisely that plant will look like and how strongly  it will grow or the precise shape of its flowers. Good gardeners do have a broad design in mind when they plant but it is a far broader design than the detailed one that architects use.  Martin pointed out that with writers, that seed is watered with blood. And boy, do I know that feeling!
I believe the concept of an architect-gardener spectrum more fully encompasses how writers write. It is also ore easily understood than pnasterv plotter. Personally I would love to be an architect in many ways but there again the times I have attempted to fully plan a novel in advance are the times when I have had the biggest revisions or found myself the most bored. For me, I have to want to tell the story and if I have planned it down to the last detail, and simply have to churn out write the words, where is the enjoyment? I like discovering motivations and little twists. I like being able to improve on the original idea. I may not know everything about my characters before I put the first word down but I certainly know them thoroughly by the end. I do like use my intuition and instinct, rather than being slavishly devoted to a plan.  And yet, I know there are other writers who draw great comfort from their plans and details.
There is no right way to write a book or tell a story and everyone needs to respect their own individual process. I have learnt the hard way that I am far more of a gardener than an architect and I need to stop fighting it.
You can see the full interview here. It is rather long and he does cover the pitfalls and pleasures of being an author. The bit about the writing process is about halfway in.

Michelle Styles writes warm, witty and intimate historical romance in a wide range of time periods. She is currently hard at work on her next Viking set romance for Harlequin Historical and is embracing her inner gardener. Her last one Summer of the Viking was published in June 2015. You find out more about Michelle and her books on

Monday, March 14, 2016

Christina Hollis: Spring Cleaning Fever...

Love In Every Stitch...
I hate housework. You get the place looking great, then someone wrecks the magazine stack looking for something, or a cupboard bursts open, sending  paperwork all over the floor. All your hard work, undone in seconds! So when I heard about a system that means you tidy up once in your lifetime and then just twiddle round the edges, I had to find out more.

Over the past month, I've been following a reality TV program called Back in Time For The Weekend. The brave Ashby-Hawkins family spent last year living for a week in each of the last decades of the Twentieth Century. From the post-Second World War deprivations almost up to the present day, they've learned what it was like to live as a family in changing times.

One of the most interesting facts brought home to them was the explosion in the amount of "stuff" we all accumulate. In the Nineteen Forties and Fifties, the UK was on its knees. Food was rationed. There was no money to spare, but that hardly mattered as the shops were practically empty. Presents were often hand-made. Repair, re-use and recycle were habits, long before they became Green watchwords.

These days, all our homes are so stuffed with electronic gadgets, fitness equipment and leisure goods, cars are parked on the street so garages can be used as storage space. Canny people are making a fortune by providing secure units excess items owned by people who can't bear to throw anything away.

All that really struck a chord with me. Tottering Towers is totally stuffed with...well, stuff. Ninety percent of my housework time is spent shuffling things from place to place. Back in Time For The Weekend showcased one method of dealing with it. Marie Kondo's book, The Life-Changing Magic Of Tidying brings tough love to the closet.

Marie is a great believer in only keeping those things which create a spark of joy within you.  It follows that, the less you have, the easier it is to keep your house tidy. That's the theory, but it means unless something is either beautiful or useful, it has to go. For a start, every piece of clothing you've been meaning to mend, update, or wear again once you lose weight must go straight to the charity shop. Be honest—when are you going to have time or willpower to do anything with it all? I asked myself that question. Within two hours, I filled four sacks of clothes weighing nearly seventy pounds in total! You could almost hear the foundations of Tottering Towers sigh with relief.

Then spring cleaning fever really took hold. It was hard, especially when I came across a trunk of baby clothes.  My smallest baby is now sixteen years old! As Tom Lehrer sang, "Sentiment will not endear it..." so nearly all of it had to go, although I confess to keeping their christening robes, and two little outfits I'd made for them. I'm not a natural knitter, so remembering the time, tears and effort it took me to create such sweet and delicate garments is a boost to my ego, as well as a keepsake. I'm thinking of having them framed!
Find out more at
The great thing about spring cleaning is the old place looks lovely, as there's hardly enough stuff left for us to get it untidy again—at least until the next shopping expedition...

In Heart Of A Hostage, my latest book for The Wild Rose Press, a disaster means Maia has to stop living like a princess and face real life. She copes by spring cleaning the castle where she's being held hostage.  I don't believe domestic engineering is solely women's work, but scruffy, threadbare surroundings suck all the joy from life. Maia beats the men at their own game by proving she can rise to any occasion. I'm hoping a rigorous clear-out of my office inspires me to do the same!

Are you a hoarder? Or can you dispense with things the second they've served their purpose?

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, on Twitter, Facebook, and see a full list of her published books at
Her current release, Heart Of A Hostage, is published by The Wild Rose Press and available at  worldwide, and from in the US.