Tuesday, May 31, 2016

It's Summer - Let the Summer Reading Commence!

  Now that Memorial Day has passed, it's 'officially' summer! Well, not astrologically, but for all practical reasons, our thoughts are on vacation, warm weather and, around here, the beach!

 April and May were my crazy travel months - I was away almost 4 weeks over that time! I attended my very first LoveLetters Convention in Berlin, Germany. It was soooo lovely! 

I was dined and wined by the wonderful team at HarperCollins/Cora and met hundreds and hundreds of avid romance readers amd signed at a huge bookfair. My Harlequins are released there in German, but the readers enjoy the English versions, too. 

Schools will be out soon -- Brisbin boy #3 will be graduating from college next week so this is my last 'final day of school' experience! Many other kids will be facing the dreaded 'required summer reading' lists. I was probably the only kid in my classes in school who looked forward to those. For me, it was a way to legitimize the hours and days I spent in my little town's library. It was the best excuse - 'sorry, I have three books I have to read....'  Of course, now, I don't bother with the excuses, I simply read.
Now, before I head into a deadline binge of writing, I'm looking forward to a pre-deadline-binge of summer READING and I've been stockpiling books in anticipation!  Some of them are: 

 I've been waiting for this book for a long time. It's the end of Monica's series set against the Scottish Wars for Independence and they are simply wonderful!

And Madeline's end-of-trilogy book THE WICKED DUKE - another can't wait to read!

 I simply loved Joanna Shupe's first Regency series and this new one - set in the Gilded Age in NYC has been getting rave reviews!
The Emma Wildes' book is not new but a friend gave it a raving review so it's in my TBR pile for the summer. Have you read it?

Something different for me is Sarah Morgan's book -- she did a reading from it at LoveLetters and I ordered it on the spot! It's not her newest but I'm looking forward to it! 

And finally, a treasure just arrived from the Clan Cameron Museum in Achnacarry Scotland (a place I will visit in September!) -- it's the newly-revised history of the Camerons. I admit - I began skimming it as soon as it arrived. My Harlequin series - A Highland Feuding - focuses on the Mackintosh and Cameron clans so this will be very helpful in the next books!

So how about you? Do you have your summer reading planned yet? Anything to suggest or to rave about if you've already begun? I tend to go heavy on historicals but I'm open to a good paranormal or contemporary! Any recommendations?

Terri's next "A Highland Feuding" comes out in October - Kidnapped by the Highland Rogue is the third in the series. Visit her website for lots more info about her and her books and connect with her on Facebook.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Best of Both Worlds

My second title for Harlequin Desire is out this month, SECRET BABY SCANDAL, and I’m not sure how I’ll wait until my third Desire title is out in 2017. It turns out I’m having a whole lot of fun writing glitz and glamour. I’m also really enjoying the kinds of stories that Desire does best. Classic romances with secret babies, fake engagements, marriages of convenience, fairy tale elements, and stories about royalty, cowboys, billionaires….

It’s all pretty yummy. I think Desire allows readers (and writers!) to take a behind-the-scenes look at the kinds of lives we read about in Vanity Fair or People magazine. We can travel to Cannes, attend the Met Gala, hop aboard a private jet, or set sail on an opulent yacht. In the pages of a Desire, I can mingle with celebrities and spend an afternoon in the world’s elite spas. I don’t just imagine it either, I read all about these things in detail. I immerse myself in photos and reviews, and then I recreate it for you.

There are worse ways to spend a day, I assure you. I pick fashions on and have the runway delivered to my door. And as far as jewelry goes? The world is my oyster—or my exotic yellow diamond—with a billionaire paying the bills. I sample perfumes I could never afford and surround myself with every luxury. I might even hire personal staff.

But I’ve always found it interesting to mix up my writing a bit. The glamorous life of the Desire heroine is all the more exciting after I’ve just finished writing a Superromance heroine who might be returning home to wrestle the traumatic demons of her past. Then again? An everyday Tennessee heroine for a Superromance can have refreshing experiences—wading through a cool creek, kissing under a sky full of falling stars in a wide open meadow—after the jet-set time I spend globe-trotting. One enhances the other and makes me enjoy each so much.

That’s my real life, though. Well, not luxury yachts and yellow diamonds. I’m definitely more of a “wade through the cool creek” kind of girl. But I do savor the dichotomy of experiences. I’ve lived in a lot of places, and one thing I really enjoyed about Louisville, Kentucky, in particular, was the access to charm and sophistication in many aspects of the city from the Derby to all the art, music and ballet options the community supports, and the fantastic university where I attended school. But there’s also a very down to earth side to this spot on the southern bank of the Ohio River—a beer drinking, two-stepping, picnic in the backyard country side since rural communities abound just outside of the city. Both facets made me smile.

I do my best to show you the best of both those worlds too. So I guess, until it’s time to pack my designer bags and jet-set to my next Desire story, I’ll spend some time in the Tennessee countryside where I can help plan the fall Harvest Fest and do a little two-stepping of my own. I hope you’ll keep an eye out for Whispers Under a Southern Sky, book #4 in my Heartache, TN series.

***In the meantime, I’m giving away the best of both worlds! Share with me your favorite thing to do on the weekend and I'll send one random poster a copy of my Harlequin Desire, His Secretary's Surprise Fiance, and my Harlequin Superromance, Nights Under the Tennessee Stars. It's a win-win ;-).

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Eve Gaddy: The Making of a Series

Katherine Garbera and I have been friends for a long time. We've critiqued together, brainstormed together, helped each other when we're stuck and read each other's books. But there was one thing we hadn't done.

Whiskey River, our romance series for Tule Publishing, came from our desire to write a series together. Since we both love Texas, we decided to set it on a ranch in the hill country. (The background is on a flat area of the ranch.:)

We started with a scandal. A womanizer named Boots Kelly who died and left his family's holdings equally divided among his four sons. There was one problem. Everyone thought he had two sons, including his sons, Trey and Wyatt Kelly. It was a big shock when everyone discovered Boots had two more sons, illegitimate twins who didn't know he was their father. 

Boots had promised Nick and Xander Blues' mother he would stay out of their lives. Which he did. But the will was Boots' plan to get all of his sons together. And so the series was born.

We also thought it would be fun to ask our friend Julia Justiss, who writes lovely Regency historical novels, to write about the history of Whiskey River and how it and the family came to be. Julia agreed it would be fun to write a western historical about Booze Kelly and his lady love, and how Whiskey River and Booze, for that matter, got their names. Julia filled in the background on Booze and Marguerite. She also wrote about Evangeline, whose one-time bordello later becomes a Bed and Breakfast and whose descendants own the Fallen Angels lingerie shop in town. (Chantel and Angel Chandler, whose stories we hope to tell in the future.:)

Since all four sons would be living on the sprawling estate, Kathy and I also discussed the Kelly family history. Each wing of the house was built by a different generation. These rooms reflected the wild spirit of the family and the sons who were just getting to know each other. The history of the Kellys was revealed through the suites that each of the sons claimed.  We learned more about the women who’d been married to the Kelly men and how they’d influenced the family through the generations.

The Whiskey River romance collection contains the first three stories in the series, Texas Heirs, Texas Cowboy and Texas Tycoon. It will be available May 26th at your favorite ebook retailer. Scandal with the Rancher is available now, also at your favorite ebook retailer.

And look for a new contemporary Whiskey River novel from RITA Award winning author, Justine Davis. Coming some time this fall.

Check out our website: and Facebook page, .

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Introverts and Extroverts and 'The Flaw in Raffaele's Revenge' - Annie West

Hi everyone! It's been a while since I visited as I've been busy on a number of projects (yes, more books in the pipeline) and with a trip to Europe to attend some romance reader events - enormous fun! It's lovely being here at Tote Bags again, sharing some news and musing a little.
You see, I have a release coming up late in June. Here's the cover. I smile whenever I see it.
And here's a little taste of what it's about:
A fragile beauty that tamed the beast within…

Relentless Italian Raffaele Petri needs reclusive researcher Lily Nolan to see his revenge plans come to fruition. But the damaged beauty is feisty, argumentative and all-too intriguing to be ignored!

Scarred as a child, Lily shut herself away from cruel prying eyes, so working for a man as breathtakingly handsome as Raffaele makes her own physical imperfections harder to bear. Until Raffaele’s kisses awaken the untouched woman inside.

As Raffaele’s retribution draws closer, Lily must use her new-found strength to help him release the torment eating at his soul. But will Raffaele risk his vengeance for her love.

This is my reverse Beauty and the Beast story, where the hero is the beauty (at least on the outside) - he's been voted the Sexiest Man on the Planet, and Lily is the beast (scarred and locked away from the world).

One of the things I most enjoyed writing during this story was how Raffa helped Lily overcome her reserve and her past pain, and lured her out into the world again. It wasn't easy, not least because Lily is basically an introvert anyway. She gets her strength from that quiet time away from others. Through the story she's surprised to discover there's joy as well as challenge to be had from being part of a group, not just a loner. By the end of the book, as well as finding love, both Lily and Raffa had found more balance in their lives, and more purpose, which was very satisfying.
UK cover
My question to you is: are you an introvert or an extrovert. Or, if you don't want to commit, tell me what you most enjoy doing by yourself and what you most enjoy doing with others.

To celebrate the upcoming release of THE FLAW IN RAFFAELE'S REVENGE I'll give away a signed backlist title of mine to someone who comments. (I'll announce the winner here).

In the meantime, here are a couple of links if you'd like to order a copy:
Barnes and Noble
Book Depository
UK Amazon

Monday, May 23, 2016

The Music Behind What the Heiress Wants

It's release day, readers, and that has me thinking about how I came to write What the Heiress Wants - and the answer to that is: musically!

Our house is filled with music, so I suppose it's no surprise that my books are filled with music, too. The kiddo still goes to sleep every night to her favorite lullabies, there is always music playing in my office, and RadioMan is completely incapable of doing yard or garage work without music. I'm in the middle of writing my Billionaire Cowboys trilogy - 3 books, 3 brothers and 3 feisty females! - and I'm finding that several songs are overlapping between the books.

Those songs - like Elvis' A Little Less Conversation (a song that always reminds me of Las Vegas) and Dierks Bentley's Sounds of Summer (a song I'm slightly obsessed with right now - fit the overall 'brother/family' theme of the series, and they also fit the books' settings (Las Vegas). But, each book definitely has its own feel.

Here are a few of the songs that are specific to What the Heiress Wants, the second book in the series:

Tim McGraw ~ She's My Kind of Rain (this is Connor's theme - he never thought he'd fall in love, but Miranda makes him re-think that stance!)
Sade ~ The Sweetest Taboo (this is Miranda's theme because she's failed to separate her personal and professional lives before...and lost...but she can't resist Connor)
Shania Twain ~ She's Not Just a Pretty Face
Jake Owen ~ American Country Love Song (the love theme for Connor and Miranda)
Maroon 5 ~ Maps
A Thousand Horses ~ Smoke
Dierks Bentley ~ Say You Do
Chase Daniels ~ Gonna Wanna Tonight

Ooh, and here's a peek at the video for Dierks' Say You Do (isn't is perfect for a romance novel?):

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What type of music takes you to your happy place?

Kristina Knight's latest contemporary romance, What the Heiress Wants, is available now, plus you can pick up the first book, What the Bachelor Gets, for only $0.99 for a limited time. 

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

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

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

Amazon  B&N  iBooks  Crimson Romance

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

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Resolutions for a Writer’s Retreat by Joanne Walsh

I am feeling so excited—and lucky!  Next weekend, I leave for a mini-retreat in Portugal with the writing group I belong to.  Four of us will spend a week in a villa by the Atlantic Ocean with the intention of write, write, writing.  For me, it’s a key event, because I’ll be starting work on my next novel for Tule Publishing, the first in a trilogy about three Greek millionaires (titles to be decided).

While this is definitely a welcome break from everyday routines, a chance to focus without the usual interruptions, I am mindful that being in such a lovely location could bring distractions of its own! As Brits who live with a fair bit of rain and grey skies, just being in the sunshine will cause us to go slightly crazy and just want to sit (or lie) and soak it up.  Then there is the food, the wine, the pretty places nearby to visit and walks on the beach…

So, the group has agreed that each morning over breakfast we will discuss a daily timetable, where some downtime is allowed, but our novels will take priority.  I know we will also spend time talking about writing too, which personally I find really stimulating; it’ll be great to have other heads on hand to help brainstorm plot and character directions.  But I shan’t forget to raise a glass of Vinho Verde to you all while I’m there!

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Barbara Ankrum: Conquering the Fear

Writers talk all the time about filling the well. And we all need to do it, whether we’re writing or not. Creativity does not thrive in a vacuum, so every now and then, we must leave our writerly cave (or wherever we dwell) and seek the light.


For me, filling the well can mean doing something I love, like gardening, hiking or reading. But often it means getting out of my comfort zone, which is my writing chair behind my computer. Twenty-five years ago, I doubt I would have called that my comfort zone, since writing was new to me then and my scary place. But now, it’s the other things I need to push myself to dabble in. I need to challenge myself all the time to do things that put me on the other side of comfortable, just to see what happens. Often, it’s something bigger that involves being brave, whether I like it or not. (If you’re a reader of mine, you might notice this very theme running through my recent books. Hmmm…)

Change is inevitable, as they say, but I seriously prefer to be leading the change in my life, rather than waiting for change to lead me. When I feel stagnant or stuck, it’s time to look outward and see what needs attention. Because something is out of balance in my life.

One year, many years ago, a friend challenged me to teach at UCLA Extension. He had some juice there and got me an offer. Me? Teach? Pffhhhht! What did I have to teach? Maybe they’ll figure out I’m a fraud!  (Am I the only one who thinks this?) I spent an entire summer quaking, laboriously writing lectures and suffering sleepless nights. How would I talk for three hours a night about…anything, much less writing? Turns out, it was fun. One of the best times of my life, the fifteen years I spent teaching. Time would fly by and my students ended up getting published, winning Golden Hearts from RWA, making the NYT lists. Best of all, I made some of the dearest friends of my life.  So what was I so worried about? That open door looked scary, but was really just an invitation to adventure.

Publishing itself is a leap of faith, sending your book out into the big bad world to be critiqued and possibly rejected. But no one will publish it if it’s under your bed, so…you send it. For years I was published in NY and there was a certain comfort in that. I loved seeing my books on shelves in real stores. But all of that changed, too. The leap into self-publishing is another giant step into the unknown. Would anyone remember me? Would they like my books?  Can I do this on my own?  Again, stepping off into that scary territory with blind faith is frightening. But why not try it? What is there to lose?

This year, it was a big move across country. After spending most of our lives in California, my husband and I moved across country to be closer to our daughter and her family. It was really a leap of faith to go, since our lives were both tied up in Hollywood. But it was also time for a change. Time to see new things, challenge ourselves and really get to know our grandkids. It’s still a pretty new change and so far, we’re happy we made it, though we miss our friends in California. <> But it feels good to be somewhere new, somewhere I don’t know every street. 

And with everything this year, the move, a new grandchild being born, my daughter’s move to a new home, I’m going to manage to get three books out this year, a personal record. My well is full.

I remember the first time I went to try to get my mail from the group mailboxes near our last home. I called my friend who’d owned the home before us to say I didn’t know which mailbox belonged to us. Which one should I stick the key into? He was a gruff Israeli who merely scoffed at my silly call. “Try them all,” he said, “what are you afraid of?”

OMG. Seriously! What was I afraid of? That the lock wouldn’t work?

That silly question has become a running joke between my husband and me. If we find ourselves fearful, or stuck, wondering which way to turn, we often repeat our friend, Yoram’s, admonition. “Try them all! What are you afraid of?”  And then we laugh and know we’ll figure it out.

I’d love to hear what you do to get outside your comfort zone and fill your personal well. Leave a comment and I’ll give away a $10 Amazon Gift Card to one lucky commenter.

Barbara Ankrum’s latest historical western, THE RUINATION OF ESSIE SPARKS, is available at all major ebook retailers.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Nothing Like a Little Added Deadline Jenny Gardiner

I don't know what I was thinking when I emailed my editor and told her I'd love to do one additional book with her this year.

I adore this editor and we work really well together, but as is the case with indie editors, you need to plan well in advance to line them up. I'd already done two books with her this year, and had long ago scheduled another terrific editor for three more books. But when she offered to squeeze in one more with me, well, I couldn't help but give it some thought. Of course this happened just as I was brainstorming some new series ideas, and then I thought, well, if I start another series I'd better get three books ready to launch at once, and well, that would mean it would be just perfect to have that extra edit lined up!

At the time I'd just finished a book and had what I madly viewed as idle time in front of me for a few weeks. Sure, I had a crazy May lined up: my youngest graduating from UVA undergrad, my oldest graduating from UVA with 2 Masters degrees, and my middle coming home from halfway around the world in Australia for a very infrequent visit to coincide with graduations. Throw in some 18 people staying at my house for graduation (I think I was in deep denial about that).

Oh and did I mention our house is on the market and there's all sorts of extra work involved with keeping a house clean and organized for any sudden showings? No worries...All under control...

But 5 weeks ago, this was hardly on the horizon! I had time on my hands, baby! I was going to crank out that additional book in no time flat and be in bed by midnight! Not only that, I'm going to confide in you my little secret: I was also planning to resurrect my all-but-dead daily mindfulness-based stress reduction meditation practice and also get my fat ass off the couch (where it's been parked writing books) and resume my anaerobic interval spin workout so I could try to get back in shape. And maybe get back to regular yoga classes. Let me tell you, people, I was going to be Wonder Woman (minus the metal breast plates)!

Um, er, well...Graduation is this weekend. I'm too stressed without free time to do any stress reduction (I had been doing it! I swear it!). Finding a daily hour for the bike workout? Are you kidding me? I have been running around like a crazy person preparing for the onslaught of houseguests and graduation and graduation breakfasts for 20 people both mornings before the ceremonies and then the combined graduation party mid-day Saturday for some 50 people as well as lunch mid-day Sunday for another 30 and, yeah, very little writing has happened.

Plus, I am releasing a book in less than a week and kind of need to figure out my marketing strategy for that, eh?

So just now, instead of writing? I gave my dog a bath. In my defense, with all of these houseguests showing up, we don't want the poor thing to be shunned because she smelled like, well, dirty dog.

Ah, well...the good news is I was the girl who pulled all-nighters studying for exams in college and self-conditioned to crank out papers one after the other shortly before their due dates. It must be the former journalist in me, but I definitely thrive under time constraints, so...the good news, is I just sort of lit a fire under my butt, which isn't such a bad thing after all. Now if I could figure out how to burn the fat in that butt with the fire now scorching it, I'd be good to go!

Hope you can check out my upcoming release: It's Getting Hot in Heir, book 7 in my It's Reigning Men series! 
It's available for pre-order, coming out May 24! You can get it here: iBooksKindleKoboGooglePlay

And I tell you I really am writing book 8! Just not as fast as I'd planned to. Here's the cover--what do you think? It's available for pre-order here:   iBooks   

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, May 19, 2016

Maggie Marr: Nana's In Mexico

So my 70-something mother has embarked on a big adventure. She's moved to Mexico. Not as in 'New' but as in 'south of the border' Mexico. Now I love Mexico. They have great beaches and who doesn't love a place that makes tequila and invented the margarita. Throw in the food and you've got yourself a party. No, it's not that I don't want my mom to live in Mexico...well actually I didn't. I didn't want Mom, or as my children call her, Nana, to de camp from Denver, Colorado to Mexico. 

Our conversation went something like this:

Mom: "Why not?" 

Me: "Where should I start?' 

Mom: "I don't know. It's a beach." 

Me: "You don't speak Spanish." 

Mom: "So."

Me: "You have a heart condition." 


Me: "You're over seventy." 

Mom: "Not getting any younger, am I?" 

Me: "What if something happens?" 

Mom: "Something always happens." 

Ah, yes. Typing the above, I can see that Mom moving to Mexico and the *many* *many* conversations we had prior to her departure were really preparation for when my daughter becomes a teenager later this year. I'm over here having hot flashes, my daughter is contemplating her first bra, and my seventy-plus Mom is sipping tequila on a beach. 

What's interesting about the above, that I'm no longer in how this adventure has invigorated my mother. My mom has what her doctor's affectionately call 'drop dead syndrome' heck'uv a name right? Don't need to ask too many questions about that one do you? Yes, her heart has a low capacity and she has a defibrillator implanted in her chest. She gets a macabre kick of telling me after each cardiologist appointment how many times her heart got shocked while she slept--which only happens when her heart stops.  "Didn't even feel it!" She chortles while I turn green. Without that lovely piece of hardware, most likely she would have died from one of those heart-stopping moments long ago. Mom's doctors were completely on board and excited about her choice to move to Mexico...they each mentioned, several times, that it's the 'excitement of life' that keeps many people going as they age and through disease. They spoke of how many people, who are told they have a disease, go home and seem to 'wait to die' and it's the people who actually go out and plan big adventures that seem to keep on living. 

So, Nana is in Mexico. And she's happy. Really really happy. While I still have some fears, I go down often and she rides the train up to see us here in LA. I've made my grudging peace with Nana's Adventure. I realize that it is her happiness and joy...her adventure that keeps her going on and on and on and I also realize that it is her life to live. Vive La Mexico!

I leave you with a view from Nana's condo....

Monday, May 16, 2016

Support Wildfire Evacuees in Fort McMurray

Many of you know I'm Canadian. Many of you may also have seen the latest news from Canada, that a massive wildfire forced the evacuation of Fort McMurray last week. It's a sizeable town of eighty thousand people and they only had an hour's notice to grab what they could and crawl out of town through thick smoke, raining embers, and gridlock.

That was last week and the disaster is far from over. Aside from first responders, no one has yet been allowed to return. It will be weeks. Entire neighbourhoods are gone and basic infrastructure like water and electricity must be restored.

The town serves the oil sands in Northern Alberta, which employs people from across Canada, so some people had family to go to in other parts of the country. Thousands, however, are stuck in emergency shelters with only those few possessions they were able to grab in the twenty minutes they had before making a harrowing escape. (See footage here.)

I desperately wanted to help and, as luck would have it, I happen to have a firefighter book in the works. Scorch comes out June 14th and it seems apropos to donate my author proceeds from pre-orders to the Red Cross Alberta Fire Appeal.

I hope you'll help by pre-ordering Scorch. The blurb and links are below. You can read the first two chapters in my last newsletter here.

I hope you'll help.

Scorch - Firefighters of Montana

Jacqui Edwards is back in Glacier Creek to wrap up loose ends after the death of her husband, Russ, captain of a group of daring, talented smokejumpers. She wants to stay and reboot her life, but faces an uphill battle shedding the role of the captain’s fragile, grieving widow. 

After growing up in foster care, Vin Kingston finally found a family when he joined the smokejumpers. Then, six months ago, his best friend and captain died in a freak jump accident right before his eyes. Vin is consumed with guilt and determined to watch over Russ’ widow. No easy task when the vibrant, beautiful Jacqui is busting out of her shell and challenging Vin’s vow to keep her off limits.

Pre-order here:

Amazon:  US  |  CA  |  UK  |   iBooks

Canadian Dani Collins is a USA Today Bestselling author of over two dozen romances for Harlequin Presents, Tule's Montana Born, and herself.

She lives in rural British Columbia with her high school sweetheart and is trying to adjust to becoming an empty nester.

Find her on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads or join her newsletter to receive updates on all her news. Get a free ebook as a welcome gift!

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Michelle Styles: Why Combat Visceral Fat

A slight public service blog...
Over the last ten weeks as part of my duties as a carer, I have been taking my father in law to more doctor’s appointments than I had planned. And every appointment just about has resulted in more medication for him.  My father in law who is 83 now has type 2 diabetes and CHF (congested heart failure). The diabetes was discovered through a routine blood test and the CHF was because I happened to read about side effects of one of the many medications he takes and asked for a review of the medication. The doctor listened to the symptoms, listened to his chest and had a look at his ankles. My father in law had oedema in his ankles. I knew immediately it was different from the oedema I have suffer from in my left arm as the doctor said that it would not be helped by bandaging. Instead he has to take water tablets to remove the excess fluids.  At the moment the  treatment, including a radical overhaul of his diet (I put my foot done and banned the massive stores of sweets and biscuits that he kept in his room), appears to be working but he will have both conditions for the rest of his life. If this blog serves as a wake up call for one person, then it will have done its job.
Type 2 diabetes and CHF are related. They both are a result of too much visceral fat. Visceral fat is the unseen fat than hangs off the internal organs. With CHF, basically the heart gets weakened and cannot pump as efficiently because it trying to beat against a wall of fat.  Diabetic sufferers have so much fat in their liver and pancreas that the body can no longer process sugar properly. Blood sugar levels and a whole host of other nasty conditions can develop. The one which truly frightened my father in law was the possibility of amputation. With high blood sugar and poor circulation to the feet, it is possible to get infections that don’t heal. It is why diabetics should get their toe nails professionally cut. Right now, my father in law is hoping that the change of diet will help decrease the visceral fat and bring everything under control. A short walk has him struggling for breath and exercise, so even moderate exercise is out.
 We are doing this gently (ie banning of processed food, increased fresh fruit and veg and severe limitation of refined sugar and trans fats) as I don’t think he would survive the extreme programme advocated by Professor Roy Taylor of Newcastle University. Professor Taylor’s work has shown in about a third of the cases who have gone on his regime, the type 2 diabetes has reversed and the pancreas has started functioning normally again. This has huge implications as type 2 diabetes was never thought to be reversible.  Taylor has also shown that the regime of 800 calories a day for 8 weeks combined with moderate exercise also drains the liver of fat and again this has huge implications for the treatment of non alcoholic fatty liver disease.  Until he properly researched it, it was thought that once you suffered from a fatty liver, you were always going to suffer from one. Even the people who did not fully respond had their liver function improved. Michael Moseley has written a book The Blood Sugar Diet which details some of Professor Taylor’s findings and makes them more accessible to the ordinary person.
One of the best ways to discover if you are potentially suffering from too much visceral fat is to measure your waist. Your waist measurement should be no more than half your height. If it is, you might want to take steps to combat it and you certainly consider getting your blood sugar tested. If you have a persistent cough and swollen ankles as well as a waist which is greater than half your height, definitely go and see your doctor as you could have CHF. But the good news is there are simple things you can do about it and now thanks in part to the efforts by people like Roy Taylor, there are ways to fight back.

When not attending doctor’s appointments with her father in law, Michelle Styles writes warm, witty and intimate historical romances for Harlequin Historical. She is currently revising her latest Viking set romance. You can learn more about Michelle and her books on

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Christina Hollis—New Beginnings...

At the entrance to our Home Sweet Home
We first saw our current home, Tottering Towers, more than thirty years ago. It was my birthday, and our hunt for a house ended at these gates. Several of the fences sported huge Clematis Montana climbers. They were just coming into flower, and scrambled for yards in every direction. We would have put in an offer for our dream home anyway, but that sea of pink and white blossom sealed the deal. Fancy having millions of ready-made cake decorations to put on my birthday cake each year!

In those days scientists talked about a hole in the ozone layer rather than climate change, but over the following decades we noticed the seasons slipping. Winters got shorter, and milder. Spring came earlier and earlier each year, and it was often much warmer than usual. The most obvious sign of change came with the flowering of our clematis. It started sooner each year. Instead of coming into flower during mid-May, by 2009 the blossoms were all out (and over) during April each year. 

Then came a succession of the hardest winters we’d had in years. These reset our garden’s biological clock. Everything is back to normal. Since 2011, the clematis have flowered right on cue for my birthday, although the weather on the day hasn’t always been so lovely!

Alex at 8 weeks old
I’ve been concentrating on non-fiction work lately, and you can read one of my latest pieces here. It’s all about early starts and new beginnings, as we’ve acquired a puppy. He's a golden retriever/yellow labrador cross called Alex. He’s exactly thirteen weeks old today, and in the month since he arrived our lives have been turned upside down. Talk about new beginnings—it’s like having a baby in the house again! At least he provides plenty of snippets for my newsletter. The next one will include my recipe for a quick and easy orange polenta cake. Alex “helped” me to get the details right by supervising, then fell asleep on my feet as I was baking!

To get my new orange polenta cake recipe and more news about Alex, send me an email with the subject “newsletter” to: christinahollis(AT)  (replacing the (AT) with @) 

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.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

A Surfeit of Delights - Kate Walker

I’ve just had a birthday – well, it was five days ago to be exact  but the time in between then and
now seems to have disappeared in a flash. We’ve had the decorators in, the  old wardrobes in the bedroom ripped out, new ones put in, and today the final stage was completed as the carpet was put down and the room is  complete at last. (OK  well it will be once we’ve hung the curtains again – but that’s a minor point after all the upheaval!)

  So I’m only just finding time to breathe and take stock again after the bustle and  fun of the last week.  And if I’m honest I’ve only just managed to take stock of the lovely  birthday gifts I received. My friends know me so well –  there are books – and more books – and stationery.  A belated package arrived  today with not one by two beautiful notebooks in it  - believe me, I’ll  won’t need to find myself a new notebook  for – oh, at least until next birthday that’s for sure!

And then there’s the ‘book’ that’s sort of a combination of  a note books and a book. Did you know that Mills and Boon have brought out a colouring book with pages of classic Mills & Boon covers  to 
colour in? And of course if you have a colouring book then you have to have lovely coloured pencils to fill the pages with.
I admit that I’m a stationery addict but now I’m looking at this wonderful pile of notebooks, pencils,  colouring pages . .  and wondering where I start to use them. Are you like me that you  have to have a particular notebook for a particular  use – the one in my handbag, or the one by my bed? The one that I use to plan out a story -  that one has to be a big, A4 pad so I can make lots of fast rough  notes-  and there has to be a selection of freshly sharpened soft HB pencils ready to scribble down ideas as they come.

Then there are the books that I want to read. I want to read ALL of them. Well, yes you see that’s where having lovely understanding and generous family and friends is both a blessing and a curse. Because  they listen when I tell them what books I’d love to read  - and then they buy them for my birthday. And so I have all the new novels I’ve wanted to put on my TBR pile, a couple of fascinating books on Irish History (I’m going back into my family’s past and investigating the time when my mother was growing up in Dublin).  And a couple of fascinating biographies that I’d been dying to read, but they were too expensive to buy for myself . . . but not too expensive for a lovely birthday gift!

With the upheaval of the bedroom decorations I haven’t had a moment to sit and read in peace and quiet, but now that that’s completed I might actually have some time to settle down to these.  So which one do I start on first ? This  novel -  or the biography? The history . . .or perhaps some colouring in??

Oh, no I forgot. I can’t quite start yet. This weekend I’m meeting up with a friend of 40 years  (I know – it doesn’t seem possible!) and we’re celebrating my birthday with a trip to Haworth where the Bronte sisters lived and wrote. That’ll be such fun as  she has never visited the village before and I’ll be showing her round. The trouble is that there is a new collection of the childhood writing of Charlotte Emily and Anne that I’ve been just longing to get my hands on and of course it will be for sale in the Parsonage bookshop . . . One more for the TBR pile.

I’m not complaining! It’s a wonderful selection of delights I have waiting for me. I can’t wait to dive in – but I want to read them all at once!

And – oh dear -  when I get back from Haworth, then my priority will be to finish planning out and writing up my next novel for which the deadline is fast approaching. .  .

Oh well, that’s a use  for one of these  lovely new notebooks. 

But which one shall  I use  this time?

My most recent book is Destined For The Desert King  -It was out in Harlequin Presents in December. 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

The next one I'll be working out in detail just as soon as I can decide which notebook to use  for the ideas and scenes planning.

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

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Carole Mortimer: Defying Asher

Family news—we had two birthdays in April. My lovely daughter-in-law Esther in early April. And our granddaughter Aoife Jane was 1 year old at the end of the month. I cannot believe it’s been a whole year since she was born! She’s adorable—of course—and into all sorts of mischief.

Book news—the pre-order is now available for Defying Asher, the first full-length book in my new contemporary series, Knight Security. This ebook will be released on June 30th.

Lee asked me how I get the ideas for my books, and especially a new series. The Knight Security series was actually an accident. Asher Knight, and his three brothers, are the brothers of the heroine of my book Savage Alpha (Alpha 8). Asher and Lissa, the heroine of Defying Asher, also featured as secondary characters in my novella Alexandre (Knight Security 0.5) featured in Royals and Rogues. An anthology with four other bestselling authors, which was published in March. Once you’ve read that novella you will know there is no way I could resist writing Asher and Lissa’s story: this couple are just explosive together. The four Knight brothers are now all very real characters to me, so expect to see Gabriel, Caleb, and Ethan’s stories very soon too.

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

Look for Defying Asher here:
Barnes & Noble
Also available on Smashwords.