Saturday, April 30, 2016

Kate Hewitt: Celebrating Spring

Yesterday, here in the English Cotswolds, it snowed. Proper snow, a good inch on the ground, slush on the streets. The cherry blossoms quivered under the onslaught and I shivered in cold—and trembled with outrage. This wasn’t spring!

Unfortunately, in England, there are no guarantees when it comes to any season of the year. It’s why British people talk about the weather so much—it’s like a national obsession, and a warm, sunny day is something to celebrate. (And why a day in the 60s Fahrenheit is treated like a scorcher).

In any case, I want to celebrate spring even if I’m not feeling it in the air. My second romance in my small town trilogy, Falling Hard, has a gorgeous spring cover for the UK and is set amidst the cherry blossoms—and the maple trees, as making maple syrup plays a part in it. Having made maple syrup in Canada with my parents for many years, I loved writing about that aspect.

Falling For The Freemans follows three brothers as they each in turn return to the small town where they grew up—and where they lost their father in a tragic accident. In confronting past memories and hurts, they find forgiveness and also true love—of course!

Falling for Christmas, a prequel novella, and Falling Hard are both available now, and the following two books in the series, Falling Fast and Falling Forever, will be available in the autumn.

To celebrate spring, I’m giving away an ebook copy of Falling Hard as well as a print copy of my April Presents, Inherited By Ferranti, to two different readers. Just leave a comment telling me what you like about spring!

Happy Reading,


Thursday, April 28, 2016

The Keyword of the Day -- Passion by Michelle Monkou

Feels like our iconic celebrities have seemingly passed into the afterlife without pause for us to grieve and get over the shock of one before another leaves us. It's my take on life that each of these individuals provides a lesson that we could stand to learn and apply to our own lives. 

With Author Sherrilyn Kenyon
No matter how they died, they accomplished a lot because of AND through their passion. And so the keyword for the day is passion

We all have something that makes us passionate. It can be simply reading, reading aloud, reading to children. And no matter what you do in your day job or as your hobby, you will find that time to read. 

If you are away from home, you will curl up in your new place and read. Why? Because you LOVE to read. 

Your mind would constantly wander to the next opportunity to read.

This passion to read would be so intense that if you were hooked up to bio-feedback machines, your body's responses would register that it's in a happy state.  In other words, there is a particular partnership between intensity and passion. Some will understand (finding your tribe) and some won't (the haters, the negatives, the moodkillers). That's okay. The passion is your unique marker on your life.

With RWA's Executive Director Allison Kelley
My passion is writing. I have written school papers, college papers, short books, and long novels. I've written poetry, magazine articles, and contributed to major national newspaper's blog. Paid or unpaid, I wrote. Graded or not, I wrote. If only one person, as the teacher, or an internationally-wide readership read my work, I wrote.

Hours have been spent on this passion. Days of my life have been spent on this passion. Thousands of dollars have been spent on this passion. Writing is my life. 

And so when I pass onto the afterlife, I hope that my love of what I've done is duly noted and that I have not squandered time not feeding this passion.

With Author Nora Roberts & friend and critique partner Julia Canchola
What is your passion? 

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

The Lure of the Summer Read

Available now!

I’m a sucker for a summer story. I think that’s why a lot of my contemporary books have ended up set at the beach. Single in South Beach. The Murphy Brothers. Double Play takes place on Nantucket. Always Ready is set on a beach in Puerto Rico. 

Right now I’m writing a Harlequin Desire series that’s mostly set in New York City, but with all the wealth at my hero’s disposal, I have him jetting to Costa Rica and Miami.

I know that a story doesn’t have to be set in the summer or at a beach to be a good “beach read” but then again, it doesn’t hurt. All summer long, I turn to stories with that extra level of escapism where the summer days never end, the sunsets are long and violet, and the heroines hope that the fall doesn’t come. Maybe I’m projecting? My latest Young Adult project, Sun Kissed, is YA beach reading—romances at summer camp. The tag line—every summer has a story.

It’s not just what I write either! This weekend I read Summers with Juliette, a book by debut author Emily Madden, happy to lose myself in someone else’s vision of long summer days. It was a beautiful book of quirky friendships and heartfelt romances… set in an Australia beach town. It was everything I hoped for in a beach read, but kept me reading for hours more with three main character threads to follow. I loved it.

What do you look for in a summer read? A beachy setting? Thorough escapism? Something light and frothy as opposed to darkly emotional? Share with me this week in the comments below and I’ll send one random poster a copy of my May Desire release,SECRET BABY SCANDAL which is set in New Orleans. Where the hero has a house right on Lake Pontchartrain J

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Eve Gaddy: Rocking the Multi Author Series!

Once upon a time, five friends decided to write a series set on Italy's fabled Amalfi coast. Our heroes would all be billionaires, some secret, some not so much. Sexy billionaires, of course. Naturally, our heroines would all be smart, strong, beautiful women.

Katherine Garbera, Mimi Wells, Nancy Robards Thompson, Kathleen O'Brien and Eve Gaddy (me), got together to plot our series. This required copious amounts of wine, and for some of us, copious amounts of cheesecake from Junior's Cheesecake in New York City. I blame those extra five pounds I picked up on my fellow Scandalous Billionaires authors.

We decided we needed a mystery to tie things together. We dreamed up something that didn't work once we started writing. So after a flurry of emails, we settled on jewel thieves. Smoking hot billionaires, strong, beautiful women, jewel thieves, a luxury hotel and hot sultry nights. What more could a reader want?

My billionaire just happens to be a private investigator. After an incredible night together, my heroine, Summer St. Croix, discovers that Luke Vanetti, her dream lover, is none other than her new boss! And her first job is to pretend to be Luke's fiancée at the luxurious Hotel dei Fiori on the beautiful Isola del Sole.

All wasn't smooth sailing, at least for me. (Not for my hero and heroine, either!) I required more talk and more cheesecake. But my fellow authors came through and The Billionaire's Charade turned out to be a lot of fun.

We have a special offer. The entire boxed set of Scandalous Billionaires stories can be yours for only 99 cents! Plus, if you pre-order or order during the first week you can get a free copy of Nona's Cookbook. Just email your screen shot of your order page to
Start reading your copy of the Scandalous Billionaires box set May 3. Available at your favorite digital outlet.

The Billionaire's Temptation by Katherine Garbera
The Billionaire's Deception by Mimi Wells
The Billionaire's Betrayal by Nancy Robards Thompson
The Billionaire's Secret by Kathleen O'Brien
The Billionaire's Charade by Eve Gaddy

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Liz Flaherty: Exploring Emotion

Thanks so much for having me here! This is one of my favorite places.

One of my favorite parts of writing romance is that I get to explore emotion. I get to hold it in my hands and literally peel it like an apple or a peach or a tangerine. Exactly like that, because sometimes the emotion is tart and sharp like an early apple; often it’s sweet and juicy like a peach; sometimes it’s almost too easy, like slipping the rind off the tangerine.

Other times, I get to pick up a piece of fabric and tear it in half the wrong way, against the grain, when those first threads absolutely will not break...and then then do, and the fabric rips but it’s not straight. It’s not pretty, but it’s strong. It will stay with you. Of course, you have to put it back together to make it strong, and sometimes there will be little holes or crooked scars in the cloth.

Still other times, I get to play a bass drum really loud in the sunshine. Or walk in the rain where the water softens everything, blurring its edges and softening the sound of music, but irritates at the same time.

I confess, I’ve blogged about writing until the very thought of coming up with something new about it makes my eyes cross on their own and my fingers come to an abrupt stop on the keyboard. That’s why I’m getting a little abstract with emotion. Well, that and the fact that it’s my favorite component of romantic fiction. There are so many parts, aren’t there? The story itself, the heroine’s and the hero’s journeys, the sensuality, the action (if I’d written this about action, we’d still be in the first paragraph—that’s how bad I am at it), the setting, the black moment, the...oh, you get it, right?

Most of us, I believe, have our areas of expertise. Ken Meyer, who’s the best limerick-writer this side of the Irish Sea, is in the writers’ group I’m a part of, and he wrote a setting the other day I swear engaged every one of my senses and left them yearning for more. I love setting, I do, but mine never resonate like that.

Kathleen Gilles Seidel takes us on such a comfortable trip through the protagonists’ journeys that I don’t even realize we’re moving until the train stops at the “oh, here we are” moment.

Kristan Higgins does the same thing with black moments. I don’t even realize I’m there until I have tears on my face.

But me? I write emotion. Not better than anyone else, probably, but I love it so much that even if I stop writing books someday—and I will, right?—I think I’ll always write emotion just for the pleasure and pain of feeling it.

So, whether you’re a reader or a writer or both, talk to us about your favorite part of romance novels.

My newest book, Every Time We Say Goodbye, is out now. Here’s the blurb and buy links, and below that is an excerpt—not a long one, I promise—but it’s emotional.

He had her at "hello again…"

After the prom night accident that had stolen the innocence of his small lakeside hometown, Jack Llewellyn had run. The guilt—especially facing his high school sweetheart, Arlie Gallagher—had been too much. Now he had no choice. He was back in town, and on Arlie's radar.

Arlie couldn't believe that after all these years, she still had him under her skin. He was such a changed man…a responsible business owner, a single parent. Would he understand the changes she'd gone through, the secrets she lived with? She was ready to forgive him but was he ready to forgive himself? And did they have to say goodbye this time?

That pretty well summed up her relationship with her mother.
Arlie had been five years and two months old the day Glennis Gallagher set her on the couch in the living room with her Cabbage Patch doll, a plastic bag of Goldfish crackers and a glass of chocolate milk and told her to not move until Daddy got home. She had kissed Arlie’s forehead, leaving a fresh lipstick mark, and left without looking back. Glennis carried a suitcase and a big purse. The leather coat she’d gotten for her birthday squeaked when she walked. The scent of musk perfume drifted through the air. The locks clicked when the door closed behind her.
Arlie had been a very obedient little girl. By the time Dave got home from a twelve-hour shift at his job at the automotive plant in Kokomo, his daughter had wet herself and was sobbing quietly into a sofa pillow. The crackers and milk were long gone and she was hungry and scared, but mostly she was embarrassed because big girls never had accidents on their mothers’ good furniture.
Even now, as she sat on her own couch in the same room, which was unrecognizable compared to that day long ago, tears slipped silent and hot down Arlie’s cheeks for the little girl she’d been. She remembered the sounds of leather and clicking locks, the feel of Glennis’s cool lips against her forehead. She could still conjure the scent of musk in her consciousness.
It made her gag.
Her father had hugged her close, bathed her and put her into pink flannel pajamas. He’d set her at the kitchen table and made her an egg sandwich, bragging that no one made egg sandwiches like superdads did. He gave her more chocolate milk and a Twinkie, then tucked her into bed without making her brush her teeth again. He read Goodnight Moon to her even though she was a big girl of five and she’d heard it so often she knew the words by heart.
“Please don’t tell Mommy,” she begged when he kissed her good-night. “She’ll be mad about the couch.”
“I won’t tell,” he promised, “but you need to remember something, Arletta Marquetta Brigetta.”
“What’s that?” she whispered.
He smiled at her, then kissed her again, tucking her blanket in close. “Couches don’t matter. You matter.”
   And now Glennis wanted to see her.

Buy links: Amazon | B & N | Kobo | Harlequin

Liz Flaherty thinks one of the things that keeps you young when you quite obviously aren’t anymore is the constant chances you have to reinvent yourself. Her latest professional incarnation is as a Harlequin Heartwarming author and she is enjoying every minute! She’d love to hear from you at or please come and see her at

Saturday, April 23, 2016

#WriteTip: On Meeting Goals

So it turns out I'm a bit of a procrastinator. This really shouldn't have been a surprise to me because I've always worked well with deadlines - not getting done ahead of deadline, but rushing around and finishing a task at the second that deadline bell rings.

That working well under pressure thing isn't necessarily a bad thing, but it does lead to more stress...and it can take away from the fun parts of my job as a writer. It's hard to enjoy a Facebook party or a conference or an afternoon curled up with a favorite author's new book if I know I've got three days to write 20,000 words.

I've been on a bit of an organizational tear for the past few months. I bought a new planner, I've re-organized my office, I've set up my days according to a plan...and yet there were still times when I didn't meet my goals. At the beginning of this year, I decided to try something in addition to the daily goals and monthly goals: I set progress reminders that ping my phone and email. These reminders, I've found are the key to staying on-task.

Here's how I'm not setting up my planner and organizing my organization:

First, I look at the big picture. I can write a book in 6 weeks, depending on length. So if a book is due
May 13, for example, I know I need to start writing by March 31. That means writing, not research or plotting...the actual writing starts March 31. So I mark both of those days in my calendar like this:

Once I've looked at the big picture, I break down the weeks and days...this is where reminders come in. When I ordered my new planner I intentionally chose one with a vertical layout - my days have big Morning, Afternoon and Evening sections...that doesn't mean I only write in the afternoon or that all evenings are family time. Instead I usually washi over the dividers and set up my days according to Family, School/Errands and Writing. The top (morning) section includes grocery lists or bank runs or stuff at bebe's school. The middle (afternoon) has my daily writing goal, and the bottom (evening) holds movie night stuff or bebe's swimming and choir schedules.

After I've broken out the big goals and the daily goals, I set a couple of reminders. When I'm drafting,
I'll set 2 additional reminders in my online calendar. They are literally 'check progress' goals - I look at my deadline, I look at where I'm at in the book and I figure out what needs to happen each day and week between the reminder and the deadline so that I'm not hopped up on caffeine and not sleeping during the week leading up to deadline. I sometimes write the reminders in my physical calendar, too, but usually I keep the reminders only in my online calendar because my paper calendar gets full just with deadlines and family stuff and school things.

I'll also set reminders about new project research, when I want to get sample chapters of uncontracted work to my agent and things like that.

So far, I'm loving not only my new planner, but the setting reminders addition to my planning - I'm staying on task, I'm more relaxed, and I don't feel guilty for taking a little extra time here and here for myself and my family.

Are you on an organizing kick? What do you do to make sure you meet those deadlines? 

Kristina Knight's new release, Protecting the Quarterback, is available for pre-order now, and
will release May 1, 2016.

This is more than just a her
Sports broadcaster Brooks Smith has always been more involved with the game than the players. But after she shares the spotlight at an awards ceremony with tabloid sensation Jonas Nash, one night of letting her guard down around the infamous quarterback spirals into many heated days and nights together when she gets assigned to the story of the year….

The hottest player in professional football is hiding a secret that could end his career for good. Now Brooks is caught on the sidelines between the job she loves and the man she is falling in love with.

Amazon    B&N    iBooks    KOBO    Harlequin

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

Friday, April 22, 2016

Staying Focused and Productive – the New Dawn by Joanne Walsh

Something has dawned on me—to make writing the first thing I do every day, and get up earlier to do it.

Those who are larks are probably shrugging their shoulders and saying, “So?”  But to a long time night owl like me it’s a revelation.  I used to be someone to whom you should not speak before I’d drunk at least two cups of morning tea. I gained momentum as the day went on, and could have happily danced the night away.  Then, it seemed evenings were the right time to concentrate on my novels.

But two things made me reconsider.  First of all, a member of my writing group, who has always been incredibly productive, shared that she writes before breakfast. Secondly my body clock underwent an unexpected and amazing shift; I started waking up at first light and couldn’t get back to sleep.  I think it may have something to with my age and my hormones. The inevitably consequence of this is that now I am ready for bed by 9 or 10 pm, and certainly in no fit state to write after dinner.

Lying in bed was no longer an option.  I could use the time to answer emails.  But then it occurred to me how fresh I was feeling and how I could put that into my writing.  So I did – with amazing results!  I am writing almost every day and the words are flowing!

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

$3,000 Big Romance Author Spring Giveaway (by Jenny Gardiner

hi all!
In case you haven't heard about this yet, I thought I'd share it with you! Huge giveaway that you might want to participate in. Details below!

 Attention all awesome people! This month is a cool time to be a reader. 101 of your favorite authors contributed to one massive giveaway! Giveaway rules are listed on the rafflecopter. International peeps can play! Got any questions? Feel free to ask. There are 100 ways to enter for a maximum possible 500+ entries per person. The giveaway lasts the entire month of April, so come back every day and hammer away at a few more entries until you're all done! ONE PERSON WILL WIN $3,000 USD! That's the biggest giveaway I've seen recently! Tell your buds! Don't miss out. You'll kick yourself if you miss this one.

 Terms & conditions are listed on the rafflecopter. Read it for full details. The winner will be chosen on May 1, 2016 and contacted via the email address they used to enter. CHECK YOUR EMAIL! The winner's name will also be posted on the rafflecopter widget above. Participating Romance Authors: 101 different authors came together to make this giveaway possible. If you've been looking for a new book boyfriend, or you're literally famished between your fave author's releases, check out some of my peeps! They write in various hot romance genres including contemporary romance, new adult romance, erotic romance, steamy romance, urban fantasy romance, dystopian romance, historical romance, futuristic/ sci-fi/ fantasy romance, Teen/ YA romance, inspirational romance and time travel romance!

H.M. Ward Kim Golden Drew Jordan Christi Caldwell Scarlett Metal Chris Almeida & Cecilia Aubrey Heidi McLaughlin Jenny Gardiner Stacey Joy Netzel Merry Farmer Mallory Crowe Julia Kent Jean Oram Vella Day Meli Raine Sherri Hayes Jayne Rylon Sarah M. Cradit Erica Ridley Christine Zolendz Beverly Preston Marquita Valentine Melissa Storm Dana Marton Amy Bartol Michelle Fox Magan Vernon Ainsley Booth Venessa Kimball Sidney Bristol K.M. Scott C.C.Wood J.M. Miller Zara Keane Eliza Knight L.P. Dover Sadie Haller Patricia McLinn Suzanne Rock Katherine Lowry Logan Erin Richards Tori Scott Danielle Stewart P.T. Michelle Suzan Tisdale T.M. Franklin Evelyn Adams S.E. Hall Lauren Hawkeye Josie Bordeaux Melanie Marchande Raci Ames Catherine Gayle Sam Cheever J.M Cole Brooke Blaine Ella Frank Allison Bell Cristin Harber Jacki Delecki Tawdra Kandle Sydney Logan Laura Kaye Laura Kamoie Evie Harper P.J. Fiala Taylor Law Pamela DuMond D.L. Roan Jenni Moen LG Castillo Rachel Schurig Nina Levine Rachel Hanna Cheryl Bradshaw Jessica Scott Beth Yarnall J.T. Geissinger Stacey Mosteller Kylie Gilmore Maryann Jordan Cari Quinn Lauren Royal Renea Mason Christine Bell Felicia Tatum Fabio Bueno RaShelle Workman Nana Malone Annika Martin Sophia Knightly Nikki Lynn Barrett Marian Tee Sarah Castille Allyn Lesley Ambrielle Kirk Jami Davenport Bonnie R. Paulson Laura Stapleton Kennedy Layne

TERMS & CONDITIONS: Must be 18 years of age or older to win. No cash value. Void where prohibited. Open to international & US residents. *The winner will receive an e-gift card via PayPal in the amount of $3000USD for this prize.* Winner must have: 1. an email account, 2. may be requested to fill out additional paperwork for tax purposes, and 3. must have a PayPal account to accept the prize. We are not responsible for fees taken by PayPal for this transaction, nor are we in any way responsible for VAT and/ or taxes. We are not responsible for items damaged or lost in the e-mail. This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook. We hereby release Facebook of any liability. By entering you agree that we are in no way to be held liable for anything pertaining to this giveaway. Winner(s) will be contacted by email 72 hours after the giveaway ends. You must claim your prize within 48 hours or it is forfeited and another winner will be selected. If you have any additional questions - feel free to send us an email!

Checkout my latest release: 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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Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Maggie Marr: I Love The Travati Brothers

I love billionaires. I have to admit that I am an addict when it comes to reading romances with billionaires. One of my all-time faves remains Knight & Play by Kitty French. If you haven't read the series I suggest you pick it up because you won't be disappointed! 

My first billionaire book published in 2012 and since then I've tried to write a minimum of two billionaire books a year. First, because I love to write what I want to read and second because these lovely men keep popping up in my head and telling me their stories. 

What stories!

I was particularly excited when a group of billionaire brothers entered my world. The Travati Brothers. Love them! Sexy. Bold. Strong. Italian. Self-Made Men. I couldn't resist. The first Travati Brother book is A Forever Love. Justin the oldest brother discovers that he has a son...a long lost son who is a result of a one-night stand with a former colleague. Let the sparks fly! Ooo, loved writing that book!

The second Travati book was A Billionaire for Christmas. This is Anthony's book. His long lost love, the little sister to his deceased best-friend, arrives back in town and Anthony must decide whether he can take the risk to love Shelly again. Christmas and Billionaires? Fantastic mix!

My latest Travati book is Leo's story. Leo is the poster boy for the bachelor lifestyle....literally. He's launching his Convenient Arrangement app which is basically a booty-call app for busy male and female executives. When Leo discovers that he is falling for Gwen, his sister-in-law's best friend, he realizes that a convenient arrangement simply isn't a possibility...what can Leo do???

Finally, the baby-brother of the Travati crew is Devon and I'm currently hard at work on his love story in A Forbidden Love. Devon's had some rough knocks the last year and the last thing he wants to do is fall in love... Can't wait to share both the new cover for A Forbidden Love and the book (October 2016) with all of you! Until then, get to know The Travati Brothers, because who doesn't want to spend time with a sexy, eligible, billionaire!

Happy Reading!


Sunday, April 17, 2016

Susan Stephens: Writing Tips

I’ve had a considerable amount of mail over the past few weeks, asking me to share my writing tips. I hope you enjoy them!

Why do I write?
Because I have to, or my head would burst! But even with ideas pouring in on top of each other, I have to sit down at some point and work out the best way to tell each new story efficiently, because writing professionally is a business, not an indulgence; readers have expectations, and editors have deadlines too.

Discipline is always numero uno. And yes, I really do get up at five o’ clock in the morning, because that’s when I work best. If you’re a writer, your method may be different. There is no right or wrong way to write, there is only your way.

Take care of your health, and be sure stay hydrated. I take breaks, to walk/think, and/or eat. And I’m finished by 4pm. (unless I’m on deadline, when there are no hours in a day—or night)
I write every day, seven days a week, otherwise I lose my train of thought. (but not all day every day)
And I write at least 4 drafts of every book. There’s always a better way of saying something, or enriching a character.
There also comes a point when you have to stop doing that—if one of you knows how, please let me know!

I start with character. Unless I know my main protagonists inside out, I won’t know how they’re going to react to the situations they encounter—and sometimes they still surprise me.
I need to know what makes them tick, what makes them hurt, what they’re hunting for, and what the reader wants to see change and grow in my H and h as they move through the story.

When I write romance I want to feel the emotion, rather than ride a complicated plot. I want to cry and laugh and fret as I write, and above all, I want to care about what happens next.

Is there an easy way? No. Every idea comes with a whole host of problems once you start setting it down on paper, most of which you haven’t seen coming, but which hit you in the face at some point. That’s when forward planning really comes into its own, but it you’re a committed pantser and you hit that hole, sit back and take a deep breath. Driving on will only make you more tense than before. Thinking time now will save you a whole lot of angst further into the book, when you have to start unpicking an improbable storyline.
And yes, of course there are days when I read what I wrote the day before, and think WTH?

Think of your story as a road map. Know roughly where you’re going, and then allow the protagonists to find their own unique way of getting there.

And a tip that works best for me. If a scene isn’t working, have you tried changing point of view? I can’t tell you the number of times a flat scene has come to life for me when I’ve done that.

Did I mention that you don’t have to be a little crazy to write, but it helps?
Above all, love your writing and, respect and love your readers. Write with passion and sincerity, but be sure to have a life in the real world too, because that’s what informs and enriches your fiction.

Go to it! And all my very best to you!

Here’s my next story, available in July this year. Yes. I know. You either love or hate a sheikh story! Personally, I love the high fantasy of a desert adventure, and a powerful man who can be brought to his knees for love of a strong and determined woman.

Your friend and author, Susan—who loves hearing from her readers across the world, because, quite simply, you’re the best! 

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Conference Confidence

By the time this posts, the Romantic Times Convention in Las Vegas will be wrapping up. (Are you here? Come see me at the Giant Book Fair!)

When I first began writing, back in the stone age--and by that I mean pre-internet days--going to conference was one of the only ways to stay on top of publishing news and learn tips to hone your craft as well as network with fellow authors and other publishing professionals.

I went to many, always finding them a little overwhelming, but I learned so much and travel is always exciting. New Orleans was a highlight, although my husband seemed to enjoy himself more, going on swamp tours while I was in workshops.

Then, as time wore on and I wasn't yet published, but had little ones at home and tight budgets, I took a long break from going to conference. I barely made my local chapter meetings!

I was a little wistful every year as the buzz started among fellow authors when conference season rolled around. Then, in 2012, I sold! My book wouldn't be out until 2013, but I felt justified in booking a ticket to Anaheim for the annual Romance Writer's of America conference. Here I am at my very first Harlequin party with my dear friend, Superromance author Cathryn Parry.

That actually might be from the following year. I honestly can't remember, lol! And I recycle the same dresses so it's not like that is an indication of the year. Here I am last year with Jennifer Hayward.

The only thing that changes is my hair, apparently!

Seeing writer friends is one of the biggest reasons I show up for conference. It's always wonderful to see my editor and to be treated to drinks and luncheons, too. So for the last few years, I've signed up for a lot of conferences and even began giving workshops at many of them.

In 2014, I went back to New Orleans for my very first RT Convention, this time with my daughter. Then I went to San Antonio the next year, leaving directly from that conference to the Sydney conference in Australia, where I was also visiting my sister.

Yes, I multi-task my conference travel as vacations with family. Here I am in New York last summer with my husband.

I loved New York. This, by the way, is from a gal who lives in a town of fifteen hundred people. I like my rural roots and my roads long and quiet, but we had a ball while we were in the Big Apple.

The only problem was, I discovered that I wasn't going to workshops and I barely saw my friends. That wasn't my husband's fault. He was more that willing to amuse himself while I attended to business. I did manage some, but I felt torn. I discovered I wanted to travel with my husband, but just travel with my husband, not book it around a bunch of other stuff.

However, that's exactly what has happened with this trip to Vegas. My cousin lives there and I had promised her years ago that if there was ever a conference in Las Vegas, I would go so she and I could catch up. Well, you know my husband wasn't going to be left home for that destination.

So, as I pre-write this post, I am pulling together all my conference details, booking dinner with friends and organizing both a workshop and a panel as well as a couple of signings. Yes, I'm also scheduling time with my cousin as well as getting tickets to a show (Cirque de Soleil - Love.)

In other years, I would also be booking my flight to the RWA conference--which is in San Diego this year. I was so tempted to go. But we have a family reunion in June which will pull me away from writing for most of that month and, the truth is, I'm ready to reassess. I do love conference, but we authors have a lot of introvert tendencies. That's probably why I spend most of my time in my attic, avoiding even the few people who live in my tiny town!

So after this convention, I'm taking a small break from conference--at least until I've bought a new conference wardrobe! (San Antonio...)

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Friday, April 15, 2016

Bravery and the Romance genre by Michelle Styles

The other day I happened across a brief talk by the founder of Girls Who Code, a program to encourage young women to  learn how to write code for apps, computers etc. Personally as a daughter of a woman who coded for a living and who choose to major in Economics rather than in mathematics (which according to my mother, I should have done if I wanted a job), I know that women are more than capable of coding (I can do it but chose a different path than my mother). But I do understand that some women are put off the subject by the perception that women are somehow incapable.  Her insight was that girls need to be taught to be brave instead of to be perfect. She knows of girls when they are taking classes through her company who would rather show the instructor a blank screen than show the failed attempts at coding.
Learning to code (or learning a computer language) is all about making mistakes and finding tiny errors. It can drive you nuts. It is why What You See Is What You Get programmes were such a boon. If I had to type this in html, it would take me far longer.
Anyway apparently a study has been done that shows when applying for jobs, men are more likely to apply for a job if they are 60% qualified, women will only apply for the same job if they are 100% qualified.  A fact that my job-hunting daughter wishes I would stop banging on about. (My daughter has chosen not to follow my path or my mother's but her own and she can code when she has to)

If you don’t have time to  view the talk, you can read a transcript here. 
The talk made me think about bravery and perfection and how different people react. I can remember the first time I submitted anything to Harlequin. Another woman had also submitted. We both were rejected. That woman wrote a little note about  how she accepted the verdict and would go and try something else. I became determined that the next time Harlequin would not dismiss me so easily. I dug my toes in, became determined and eventually I persevered. In other words, I decided to brave and to keep on trying.
But what  about romance novels themselves? Do they teach women to be brave and take chances?  Or are they more about putting women on pedestals or teaching them that the way to get through life is to take the easy route?
Some people in the past have argued that they reinforce the status quo. I think they are wrong, dead wrong. The romance genre expands rather than contracts women’s horizons. They give positive role models for women where the heroine is more than simply arm candy.
A story would not be interesting if a heroine was perfect or had only minor easily overcome imperfections. Heroines need to struggle and grow.  I like to think that my heroines (whatever the era and societal limitations) possess grit, determination and perseverance in abundance and that anyone reading the books would see them as potentially positive role models. In order to see how a lead character will react, you have through nearly insurmountable obstacles in her path. It makes for a more interesting story. And the heroines in the romance genre come from all walks of life. They give readers a chance to try out different lifestyles or experience different situations. And I know from personal experience that a story can make a person decide that they are going dig their toes in and follow their dream.

Michelle Styles writes warm, witty and intimate historical romance in a wide range of time periods. Her latest historical romance manuscript is sitting on her editor’s desk and her latest book Summer of the Viking was published in June 2015. You can learn more about Michelle and her books on 

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Christina Hollis— Puppy Love!

Prince Alex the Puppy...
I've got fresh writing inspiration on tap right now, and edits are on hold because we've got a new family member.  Meet Alex—he's just eight weeks old. His dad Freddie is a golden retriever (you can see a pic of him in the banner of Care and Connect's Facebook page), and his mum is labrador Ellie.

Alex is adorable, with silky soft fur and black, boot-button eyes. He's a quick learner, too. Some of Alex's older siblings are assistance dogs for autistic children, so we're hoping he turns out to be as kind and well-balanced as his older relatives.

Puppies are harder work than babies, as they're so fast on their feet. I hope Alex doesn't turns out to be too bright. He's already discovered a talent for finding clean socks which have disappeared behind the radiator while airing. He lies on his back, and scrabbles at them from underneath with his paws. That not only retrieves the sock, it pulls out a lot of hidden fluff and dust, too!

He's only been here a week so we can't expect too much from him yet, but he was crate-trained when he arrived, uses the litter tray inside it (although his aim isn't always perfect) at night and he's learning the word "outside" so he can eventually tell us when he wants to go out during the day.

The only problem we've had is with our poor old cat, Jynx. Alex was brought up with felines, so they were strolling about his home unconcerned on our visits to his breeder. Our Norwegian Forest cat is a pest control expert, but he's afraid of anything bigger than a rabbit—including human visitors.

...King Jynx the Cat
We assumed our cat and the new dog would get on with no problems. How wrong can you be? They first met in our big kitchen. Alex edged forward, slowly wagging his tail in greeting, without realising the cat felt under threat. Jynx sprang forward, boxed Alex's ears, then fled. The puppy was surprised but none the worse for wear, although the cat now refuses to use the back door. He will only come in at the front of the house, which in an Alex-free zone.

The cat now spends his days in my office, where Alex is banned, then goes outside at night. This system is working well. When the puppy's sound asleep, Jynx has started creeping about and extending his new territory into his old haunts, with one eye always on the sleeping Alex.

It's all go here, what with the puppy having three meals a day, exercise, suspiciously quiet naps, and playtime sessions in between—and that's before I spend time making a fuss of our deeply offended cat. It's no wonder my writing schedule has gone out of the window.

It's all I can manage at the moment is to work on my next newsletter. There's going to be puppy news, and a lovely recipe for orange polenta cake I was given the other day.

To find out more, mail me at christinahollis(at) and put newsletter in the subject line.

When she isn't puppy-minding, 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.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

A Book for Every Taste

A reader and I were talking about my different kinds of books. She was right when she said I seem to enjoy telling different types of stories.

I write emotional dramas, lighter, sweet romances, rom com...

I write short stories, novellas, short contemps all the way to long contemps...

And then there's my mystery series.

I've even written romances with fairies in them even.

Now, it may seem that I'm all over the board, but I for me, there's a logic to approaching stories from different writing points-of-view.  

For on thing, some stories lend themselves more to a particular way of telling them... A woman who's suffered a horrible loss and is trying to rebuild her life?  Just One Thing, a drama.  A woman who put wax all over her legs, before she realized how much it hurt to yank it off?  I Waxed My Legs for This? a comedy.  A maid who accidentally cleans a murder scene?  Maid in LA Mysteries, mystery.  Short stories?  Nothing But...trilogy.  Novellas? 13 Weeks.  Long contemp?  Her Second-Chance Family.  Short contemp?  A Day Late and a Bride Short.

Some stories take me 85,000 words to tell...a long contemporary romance.  Some take me less than 5,000...a short story.  Most things fall somewhere in the middle.

As a reader, I read all different kinds of books (biographies, science geekfests, science fiction and yes, romances).  I guess it makes sense that as a writer, I like to tells stories in different ways.  But I think there's a commonality to all my books...they're all stories that center around family and true love.

Or, let's put it this way...sometimes I'm hungry for fast food fries and sometimes I want dinner at a place where the guys have to wear a suit coat and tie.  Yep, I am a woman who spends her summers splitting wood for the fireplace, but owns multiple cocktail dresses.  LOL  There's no rhyme or reason to it all.

How about you?  Do you gravitate to one type of book, or do you read across the board?
Holly...who's been known to read cereal boxes!

Oh, and here's my newest Ask-the-Author video:

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Spring Organising . . . with Kate Walker

It’s Spring – at last.

Well,  that’s how it feels. It’s been so cold and wet and miserable recently , with Easter vanishing
in a downpour all through the holiday weekend. But now, at last it really seems as if the season is changing and Spring is actually starting to appear.
So that’s been changing the way I’ve been feeling. I’ve been doing crazy things like Spring Cleaning. That’s crazy because  we’ve  created so much upheaval that  at the moment it’s got worse before it will get better.  We had the hall, stair and landing decorated, and then our bedroom. Fine – it looks lovely  - but the bedroom. . .  Well it’s going to look lovely. The wallpaper is beautiful , just as I hoped it would be, but there’s just the wallpaper – and a bed in the room!  No furniture – we’re waiting for the new wardrobes to be built in – and no carpet – we’re waiting for the wardrobes to be built in before we can get the carpet land. And  no curtains – we’re waiting for them too!!
Oh well, I’m really looking forward to seeing it all finished and organised. And then I can  sort out all the clothes  and things that have been stored in the other rooms, causing absolute chaos while  we wait. It’s will look  wonderful . . . eventually.

It’s sort of a bit like the way I’m feeling with my writing  right now as well.  With the last book  done, accepted and scheduled – it will be my 65th title, out in October with the title of Indebted to Moreno – I now have to plan a new book and get that written before the deadline in the summer. But this book needs to be a bit different. It’s the first part of a linked duet, two books that are connected in some way so that they come out as a mini series all their own. So I need  not one but two stories  - and right now that’s what’s making me feel like the stories are like the bedroom -  everything has been changed around, planned  and – hopefully – made wonderful and attractive – but nothing is yet in it’s proper place and really looking good. I have 2 heroines  -  half sisters (that’s one of the links)- two heroes – one for each heroine, obviously.  I have a complicated family situation – and a very important scene where the two sisters end up in a very tricky situation . . .   And then I have another
couple of very important scenes – one for each sister – where things are going to change yet again.

In the end, I hope it will all work out. And that it will all come together and make a great story -  two great stories.  But right now it feels like the  situation with the bedroom – lots of planning and reaming but nothing concrete really making things work out. I can’t wait to sit down and really write out these two stories – but I haven’t quite got everything in place just yet.
So perhaps it’s really lucky that this coming week is going to be really busy. I have a long drive to Winchester where I’m giving a talk on writing romance in the University there,. Then I’m heading for Oxford to meet up with a  lovely writer friend  - and  from there I’m heading to Cirencester and the Royal Agricultural University where I’m teaching a course for the weekend.  The good thing is that this course has the title  - Beginning Middle and End ,planning your romance novel.   That seems just perfect.  While I’m talking to my student about how to plan your novel, hopefully I’ll get some time and ideas to plan for mine.

 I’ll be back home next week – when it will just about be time for the wardrobes to be built into the bedroom, and  so very soon everything in the house will be back in order, refreshed and renewed and ready for the real arrival of Spring. And hopefully the same will happen with my new book(s) . This time away, and with all the planning and organising I’m doing for my course, I should be ready to  write my two connected stories. . .I can’t wait.

But in the meantime I’m going to enjoy thinking as I travel about the country in – hopefully – some lovely early spring weather.

My most recent book is Destined For The Desert King  -It was out in Harlequin Presents in December.  As I said, the next title will be Indebted to Moreno - where my brooding Spanish hero meets up again with Rose  the girl who knocked his life off balance ten years ago. And that's out in October

And I'm thrilled to be able to say that my other 2015 title,  Olivero's Outrageous Proposal has been re released in the Mills &; Boon collection The Best of 2015.  

All my most recent news and book details can be found on my web site here or on my personal blog:  and my Facebook page