Monday, June 27, 2016

Sunday Driving

By Joanne Rock

I took a long car ride with my husband today. We haven’t done that in a long time. Well, we did drive from Florida to upstate New York a few weeks ago, but I don’t count that since that was more of a car endurance marathon than a car “ride.” This afternoon we drove an hour away to have lunch and enjoy the Adirondack scenery, stopping at a local lake to check out the houses and admire the views while we were at it. So fun.

We used to do things like that long ago. You remember those creative dates when money is more scarce? You take a long ride and get an ice cream cone, or drive out to some scenic spot to hike a trail or have a picnic. Simple pleasures.

I remember an uncle who took my cousin and I on long car trips around an Adirondack lake when we were girls. We used to really look forward to the outing, only to realize midway through the lake was HUGE and we were clearly never getting home. But now, I understand the concept of Sunday driving more. The point isn’t to set a land-speed record. It’s to see something new and enjoy a place from the comfort of your own car while your favorite music plays.

Today, I rediscovered the joy of tooling around on a sunny day for a good joy ride. We stopped for lunch, walked around a little lake, chatted with local shopkeepers, priced homes we’ll never buy because we like looking at houses, and ran our fingers over a fast moving stream to see how cold the water from the mountains can be. (Answer: very!!)

It was fun and I highly recommend It for your next cheap date. Make sure you have good tunes too, because old songs always remind you of something from the past that will be fun to share. This summer, I’m committed to enjoying the slow spin of the days rather than hurtling headlong through the season. Sunday driving is a good start.

***Do you ever hop in the car “just because” or do you get fidgety if you don’t have a destination in mind? How about as a teen? Did you head out with your friends just for the freedom of it? Chat with me today on the boards and I’ll give one random poster a copy of my latest release, SECRET BABY SCANDAL. 

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Eve Gaddy: I'm Just a Vessel

Those are words I'll never live down. When my kids were younger we went on a family vacation. I'm sure I was either working on a book or on deadline. We were talking about my process and how I know what the characters are going to say or do.

I said, "I'm just a vessel for my characters. They talk and I type."

They thought that was hilarious and still tease me about it. But it really is true. I struggle a lot until my characters take over. Sometimes they're very chatty, which is great. But often they have to have their words and thoughts dragged out of them.

I have all kinds of ways to convince my characters to talk. Sometimes I interview them. I don't ask them about their favorite color or first pet or their childhood unless it's important to my plot. Usually, I sit them down and start firing questions at them and don't let them leave until they've opened up. Questions like, what do you think about the heroine? Why are you resisting her? Why do you hate shrinks? What is it about medicine that first drew you to it? And the oft asked question especially of the heroes, Why are you being a jerk? Often, what comes out of the interview winds up in a scene. In fact, I think it always does. Not all of it, but the important part.

My hero in my current book--yes, I'm on deadline and in deadline dementia--is an emergency room doctor. He's also a horse whisperer. He refuses to say he's a horse whisperer, instead he merely 'has a knack with horses' or he simply 'soothes them and calms them down.' I knew there was a reason for his denial of something that's quite clear to everyone else, but he wouldn't tell me until yesterday. I would have appreciated knowing this earlier, but the dang characters won't be pushed. They'll talk when they're ready and they don't really care if I have a deadline.

Don't get me wrong. I really like it when the characters come alive for me. But why are they so stubborn about doing things in their own good time?

You can find out all about my horse whisperer/ER doc in the upcoming Love Me, Cowgirl, part of the 2016 Copper Mountain Rodeo series from Tule Publishing. It should be out some time this fall. This hero, Sean Gallagher, is the brother of another doctor in Marietta, Dr. Jack Gallagher from Sing Me Back Home. Sean's heroine, Honey Jordan, is a cowgirl who is a competitive barrel racer. I don't have the cover yet but I'll post it when I do.

Catch me on the web at or . If you'd like to hear more about my releases, here's a link to sign up for my newsletter:

Thursday, June 23, 2016

The Music Behind: Protecting the Quarterback

If you've followed me much on social media - or visited my house or ridden with me in a car get the picture - then you know music plays a big part in both my writing and my life.

Music plays from the time we get up in the morning until we turn in for the night - country, pop, R&B, showtunes, can all be heard in our house at one time or another.

The same is true for my writing. Depending on the stage of my books, I'll listen to different types of music. Lately, I've been in a country music phase - Dierks Bentley, Chase Rice, Carrie Underwood, Miranda Lambert...those are a few of my favorites. Some songs are purely for fun (think Drunk on a Plane or Somewhere on a Beach by Dierks Bentley), some are for atmosphere (think Take Your Time by Sam Hunt).

The playlist for my latest Harlequin Superromance was especially eclectic - I listened to the Muzak version of old showtunes during the drafting phase (I'm not sure why, the channel on my DirecTV channel just spoke to me), but the actual playlist was definitely country-heavy.

Here's a peek inside the playlist I created for Protecting the Quarterback:

I'm Just a Girl by Deana Carter
Tattoos on This Town by Jason Aldean
Bourbon in Kentucky by Dierks Bentley
American Honey by Lady Antebellum
Beer with the Boys by Chase Rice
Broken by Lifehouse
Come Away with Me by Norah Jones
Cruisin' by Smokey Robinson
Don't Write Me Off by Hugh Grant

That's a just a peek inside. Some of these were favorites before I wrote this book, but they're all on my favorites list now.

What about you? Do you have a favorite song right now?

Kristina Knight's latest release, Protecting the Quarterback, releases May 1 from Harlequin Superromance: 

This is more than just a game … to 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  KOBO  iBooks  Harlequin

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

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Joanne Walsh: The Write Stuff

Despite the fact that Portugal has had the wettest, coldest spring on record, my writers’ retreat there went well.  Perhaps the weather was a blessing, as we weren’t lured out to the poolside or onto the beach. Instead, we huddled up in sweaters and fleeces, lit the log fire and hit our laptops (except for my friend who writes the first draft of her novels by hand).

In fact, the rhythms and habits of my fellow writers were really interesting to observe.  The hand-writer was the most prolific, maybe because she had less opportunity to go back and re-write and correct?  Another retreater would start writing in her pyjamas as soon as she got up because that was when she felt at her freshest and most inspired.  Another lady we had to install in a room of her own, as she likes to read out loud while she’s writing—it works because she does great dialogue.  As for me, I would write in twenty to thirty-minute bursts, followed by a few minutes’ timeout in the villa’s pretty garden (when the rain allowed), where I would noodle over tricky emotions or plot developments that I was wrestling with in my head.

The best bit was in the evenings when we settled down after dinner and read out what we’d written that day to receive feedback.  I really wish I had could have this on a daily basis—together with that amazing view over the Atlantic!

Deanna's World: Author Showcase: Liz Fielding

I'm having a day out with Deanna today. Do come and say hello!

Deanna's World: Author Showcase: Liz Fielding: I can't begin to tell you how excited I am today. Wanna know why? Because Liz Fielding is on the bloggity. LIZ freakin' FIELDING!!! ...

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Barbara Ankrum: Laguna Beach is Calling!

Laguna Beach is one of those places that you never forget, once you’ve been there. Tucked between Los Angeles and San Diego on the beautiful Pacific Coast, it’s a small, beachy community that has—over the years—become a must-visit every summer for Southern Californians. With its perfect waves, tide pools and touristy festivals, my family made this trip every summer. In fact, my mother-in-law had a second home in Laguna Niguel, on the cliffs above the beach and that was our price-is-right vacation for many happy years. I finished many a book manuscript there, too, all by myself.
When we first went there, thirty-something years ago (e-hem!) there were still bare hillsides not covered in red tile roofs and there was parking on the Main Street. Now, it’s a little more crowded. But no matter.  Laguna’s charm is constant and most of us are willing to brave the parking issues to loll on the beaches there.

My husband and I recently moved out of California to the mid-west, and leaving Laguna behind is one of our big regrets. So when I was invited by the lovely Kaira Rouda, author of the Laguna Nights series, to write a novella for her Laguna Beach Kindle World Series, I leapt at the chance.  RECKLESS IN LAGUNA (debuting July 7th on Amazon) gave me the opportunity to visit that awesome town in my imagination again, since I won’t make it there this summer.

The place rushed into my senses as I started to write this book: the sound of the ocean, the crimson bougainvillea spilling over every portico and blue lilies of the Nile swaying on every walkway—in short, my sense memories of the way the whole town makes me feel crashed in on me like a wave.  (A friendly, hip-deep kind of wave.)

Laguna Beach is home town for my two protagonists: Nio Reyes (the brother of Trey Reyes from my The Canadays of Montana series) the gardener’s son and who disappeared from Laguna without a word ten years ago, only to return successful, and Becca Howard, the rich girl who loved him, whose family has lost it all.  It’s a second chance at love story.  These two who were ripped apart under mysterious circumstances, are coming back together for one hot summer weekend in Laguna Beach for a friend’s wedding. Though their circumstances have changed, their feelings for each other lie just under the turbulent surfaces of their complicated lives. Can Nio make things right after breaking her heart? Will revealing the truth about what really happened finally heal both their hearts?

Here’s a little snippet of  RECKLESS IN LAGUNA for you:

Becca backed up against the restroom sink, bumping her hip, then edged toward the wall. “Nio. Wh-what are you doing in here?”
“What’s it look like? Talk to me, Becca. What’s going on?”
She straightened. “I’m fine. Nothing’s going on. You shouldn’t be in here.”
He locked the door behind him.
“They can wait a minute. Don’t tell me you’re fine. You’re not. I can see that.” He took a few steps toward her, then stopped when she flinched. He held his palms up. “You’re crying.”
“No. No I’m not.” The words came out in a half-sob. Horrifyingly, snot squirted out of her nose and she clapped a hand over her face. 
A sympathetic grin twisted his mouth and he tugged a paper towel from the dispenser, handing it to her. “That’s snot exactly true, is it?” 
“Oh, God.” Against her will, she laughed and blew her nose. “How positively mortifying.”
“It was kinda charming, actually,” he said, brushing a strand of hair from her eyes. 
Just that, his small touch, sent a paroxysm of longing through her. Damn him! Remember your vow to swear off men. Especially this one! She glared up at him past the paper towel. “Don’t be nice to me. It goes against everything I believe about you.”
 “Well, that is a problem,” he agreed. “I guess I need to redeem myself somehow. Let me drive you home.”
 “You forget, my fiancé is right outside those doors.” Ex. My ex-fiancé.
“Yeah.” Nio glanced back in that direction. “You don’t really want him to drive you home, do you?”
Fresh out of lies for the night, she sniffed and shook her head. She really, really didn’t.
“That’s what I thought. So splash some cold water on that beautiful face of yours and let’s get out of here.” 
 “It won’t look right. I can’t leave with you.” She swayed against the sink, feeling lightheaded. “And I definitely shouldn’t leave with you. I’m a little bit drunk, in case you hadn’t noticed.”
“That’s why I’m driving. For right now, what do you say we put aside our past and whatever you feel about me and let me help you? No strings. I’ll just take you home.”
Home. The thought of prowling around that empty place tonight until she fell asleep did not appeal. In fact, she couldn’t think of anything she wanted to do less.
“I—” she began, turning back to the mirror, “I don’t want to go home. Will you take me somewhere else?” 
He blinked. “Name it.”
“Anywhere. Where’s your car?”
“Parking lot.”
She considered, then did the exact opposite of what good sense dictated. “Give me five minutes.”

* * *

I hope you’ll join me on July 7, 2016 for the launch of RECKLESS IN LAGUNA. Because, hey, it never hurts to spend a little bit of your summer in Laguna Beach!

Where’s your favorite go-to place in summer? I’d love to hear. One lucky commenter will win a $10 Amazon Gift Card.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Liz Fielding on Newsletters!

 I'm blogging about marketing today. If you're thinking of starting one you might find it useful.

neetsmarketing : Liz Fielding on Newsletters!:

I've known Liz Fielding online since I first joined Twitter in 2011, and was thrilled when she accepted my invitation to write a po...

Sunday, June 19, 2016

How Not to Write Yourself into a Corner by Jenny Gardiner

I've been crunching to finish A Court Gesture, book 8 in my It's Reigning Men royal contemporary romance series, but I thought you might be interested in my process (or lack thereof) when I am figuring out my books. So Here's some insight into how I wrote my latest release, It’s Getting Hot in Heir, book seven in the series.
This is the first series that I’ve written, and now that I’m this far into it I've realized that I need to be a little more careful so that I don’t find myself writing myself into a corner…Which happened a handful of times with this book.
The hero/heroine of this book were in previous books—the hero, Edouardo, started out as a bit player in book two, Heir Today, Gone Tomorrow. He was a bit gruff, far too overprotective of his sister and family, maybe gruff to the point of surly. But the more I incorporated him into the backstory of other stories (I think he reared his ugly head, in a funny way, in Shame of Thrones), the more I wanted to figure him out. By the way, by the time I was writing this book, I wished I could have changed his name, though, because spelling Edouardo correctly realllllly got to be a pain ;-).
In my last book, Throne for a Loop, I introduced our heroine, Gabriella, as a secondary character who’d recently returned to Monaforte, the small European principality in which the books mostly take place. So I wasn’t too sure about what to do about Gabriella, either (in Throne for a Loop, I had her having some unfortunate experiences with the men in her life that led to some even more unfortunate stress eating, but that was about it). So I impulsively decided to throw those two together and see what happened.
Well…did I mention Edouardo can be a bit of a crank? And really, he just had some issues he had to figure out, so I had to dig into his psyche a bit and try to help him get his act together a little bit. And in the process of that, find time for the two of them to develop a relationship, while enabling her to figure out her deal (we all have them, don’t we?! I’m still trying to figure out my deal LOL), and—and this was what really got me into murky water—having to coordinate it with events from previous books and then having characters from other books making little guest appearances and having to be sure I’ve got them doing the right things at the right time for the time frame that this book is in, also keeping in mind that I have some novellas I still want to write with some events like a royal wedding (or two!) and a royal baby (or two!) and not creating conflicting information about timing with those events.
Which meant book seven found me counting on my fingers a lot (figuring what year or month or season other things had occurred in so that I was sure I wasn’t messing that up). Alas, I’m really bad at counting, even on my fingers, so hopefully I didn’t blow it too conspicuously! And hopefully I don’t have too many Edouardo’s spelled wrong (sometimes I spelled him I think “Edouaordo” in an earlier book, but that was even harder to write). Plus I like the chance to “nickname” a name, and it was hard to do that with his name. I kind of did just for a joke at one point in the book, just because I knew it would make him mad.
But…it was sort of good therapy for me to have to deal with some additional computation along with those emotional problems with my story because it helped me garner a little more insight into the motivations of both of these characters, which I hoped I convey successfully in the telling of their story.
I did certainly learn, however, to start choosing easier names to type for future characters ;-).
Thanks again for having me visit!!! You’re always such a great supporter and I’m really grateful to you for it!

It's Getting Hot in Heir
You can get it here: iBooksKindleKoboGooglePlayNook

Here's the cover for my latest I'm working on---what do you think? It's available for pre-order here:   iBooks   Kindle Kobo

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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Friday, June 17, 2016

Susan Stephens: Celebrating 50 Books!

Don’t make my mistake! I had submitted several manuscripts to Mills & Boon long before I got ‘The Call’, but received such lengthy revisions I was certain I would never get it right. I didn’t submit anything after those first rejections for around 10 years. When I tried again the same thing happened, and I almost gave up.


One last try, I thought. The result was my first book, A Spanish Inheritance. And, yes, I received lengthy revisions, as this printed out e-mail shows – but the difference this time, was that I stuck at it. 

What was I doing wrong? Not reading enough current books in the line, and being too tentative with my story lines. It’s all very well having old favourites that have been on your bookshelves for years that you still love reading, but the market moves quickly, and you need to move with it.

Research what the editors are looking for. Mills & Boon Modern/Presents/Sexy is big and bold. Don’t think delicate watercolours—use oil paints big and bold. These stories are in the style of a Grand opera, rather than musical theatre, and it’s glamour, passion and unimaginable luxury all the way.

Conflict doesn’t mean a couple bickering their way through the book. Internal conflict and emotional conflict plays a larger part than external conflict.

What’s keeping your characters from each other? If they want each other, why can’t they be together?

Why? The most important word for any author... Ask yourself ‘why’ all the way through your story. Why is the hero behaving like this? What made him this way? And the same goes for your heroine.

Remember that every statement you make in a book will have consequences – be sure those consequences fit your master plan.

Don’t muddy the water with too many secondary characters. Keep the focus on your main protagonists, and how they react to situations and each other. How they react to situations tells the reader who they are.

My last piece of advice? Don’t take as long as I did to have the confidence to submit your work!

Okay, a PS. Love your readers, because the romance community is the best group of people in the world. I owe everything to my readers—so, if you’re a reader, thank you. And if you’re an aspiring author—discipline, determination, love what you do, and the very best of good luck to you from me!



Thursday, June 16, 2016

On The Wagon

I have a cute cartoon by Rhymes With Orange that I cut out of the Sunday paper last year.

I found it again the other day and I taped it to my wall calendar over June. It shows a couple talking to the man next to them as they sit poolside. The man says, "I'm a workaholic, but I'm on the wagon."

I'm a workaholic, but not this month. I'm on the wagon!

As you can see, my son graduates from high school this month (which includes more than one party and a bunch of family in town.) The days that are crossed off are for a family reunion.

Also, my sister will be here all month from Australia so I'm making time to play with her and family. I am planning to do a lot of this, too:

I started today (the 6th) and it was incredible.

But wait. You see on the 14th, on the calendar, where it says 'Wildfire?' I have a new release to promote--which I'll do now, 'cause I'm not quitting cold turkey here.

The problem is, I have that tax instalment to pay on the 15th. That falls under the title of "Nice problem to have," so I won't complain about it, but it does require I do some work to earn the right to be taxed, so here goes.

SCORCH is part of the series we called 'Wildfire' while we were writing it. Now it's called 'Firefighters Of Montana.' It's about a crew of smokejumpers and all the stories are interconnected. Check out these gorgeous covers:

All of the smokejumpers are connected to Russ, the Captain who died the previous year. (Actually, Tracy's hero, Sam, replaces Russ as Captain.) My heroine, Jacqui, was married to Russ and Vin was Russ's best friend. 

Vin is feeling very protective of Jacqui while she is ready to move past the image of shattered widow. Sparks fly, love is kindled and sheets are set ablazin'. 

I loved writing this book and really hope you enjoy all the books in this series. If you're a Kindle user, the whole series is here. Here are the links for Scorch.

Amazon: US  |  CA  |  UK  |  Aus

Nook  |  Kobo  |  iBooks  |  GooglePlay 

I was going to promote my July Harlequin Presents, too. Bought By Her Italian Boss is starting to ship from Amazon in a few days, but sheesh! That would make me the opposite of the slacker I aspire to be this month. I'll be back in July to tell you about that one.

Dani is a USA Today Bestselling author who received the call in 2012 and recently turned in her thirtieth (30th) title. She writes for Harlequin Presents, Tule's Montana Born, and herself. 

Dani lives in rural BC Canada with her high school sweetheart and is staring down becoming an empty nester. She may have to take up hobbies like travel, otherwise she'll never leave her office.

Keep up with Dani's news by joining her newsletter. You'll get a free short story download when you sign up.


Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Christina Hollis—The Shock Of The New...

I love writing with a pencil, on paper. My ideal is a black, eraser-topped Woolworths HB (a type that's vanishing rapidly, from both ends!) on the right-hand page of a brand new exercise book.

You know where you are with a pencil. The same goes for your Work In Progress, unless somebody tidies it away. This isn't the case when you get technological. Almost without exception the publishing industry wants manuscripts sent as attachments to emails, and specifically Word files, at that.

My OH has been in the vanguard of technological perfection all his life. This is why we had a Betamax video player,  and if only he had the time to kickstart a Kickstarter project, Spitfires would fill the English skies once more. As he considers Apple superior to Windows for word processing, that's what I've got.

Find out more at
Technology is not my friend. It took me six years to puzzle out the original idiosyncrasies of my first Mac, by which time age and an over-stuffed memory (the machine, not me) gave it the excuse to add a whole new range of quirks and failings. This meant daily overheating and explosions (me, not the machine) as every function took forever—by which time it had forgotten what I'd asked it to do, and just tossed up any old thing. Think predictive text, only worse. And unlike that this was never, ever, funny.

Yesterday, OH came home with a brand-new computer, just for me. It has a screen the size of our chimney breast, and goes like lightning. I'm typing on it now, but very, very carefully, as nothing operates in quite the same way as it did on Old Unfaithful. This means I can now lose all my work in a fraction of the time.

I'm off to get a few chapters under my belt to get the feel of this new machine. Meanwhile, if anyone knows how to retrieve my playlist and library from cyberspace, I'd be eternally grateful! 

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.