Wednesday, August 31, 2016

My Heart Is In the Highlands

Later today, I will be returning to Scotland for the first time in NINE years. I can't believe it's been so long since my last visit and I cannot wait to get there. For years, since the first time I visited in 2002, I have felt like it is the place I need to be. It feeds my soul and refreshes my spirit and I cry when I leave. But today I'm going back --

  This is the quintessential song about Scotland and missing it that I wanted to share it with you...

I'll be visiting places I know I like and seeking out places I haven't yet been - all to inspire me to write stories of the history and wonder and people of the Highlands. I'm really excited that I'm going during the Blas Festival - a festival of Gaelic music and storytelling that is held across the Highlands. This year - although Dougie won't be there - I'll be seeing the Red Hot Chilli Pipers, Aly Bain& Phil Cunningham and going to the big finale show in Inverness. 

Could there be anything more magical than Gaelic songs and stories being sung and told in castles and keeps and schools and churches all over Scotland? 

I think it's my connection to this place that inspires me to write Scottish historical romances. I've always been called to it and when I need to tell a story, it's the place that usually appears to me. I shouldn't be surprised, really, because during a past-life regression I learned that I lived in medieval Scotland. . . in the Highlands. I could hear it, feel the wind, smell the air and when I opened my eyes I WAS there. 

So, I'm off to the Highlands today. Maybe someone should warn all the men-in-kilts that I'm on my way? Maybe.... 

Have you ever been to Scotland? Or have a place that calls to your soul? Tell me about it - I'll pick a couple of commentors and send out a souvenir of my trip to them! 

Terri is thrilled to be part of an upcoming Celtic ghost anthology about haunted castles in....Scotland!  ONCE UPON A HAUNTED CASTLE is available for pre-order now! Visit her website for more info! 

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Your Giant Saturday Activity Book

By Joanne Rock

I am staring out at a rainy day today after being lost in a good book most of the day (The Good Girl by Mary Kubica). It occurred to me between thunderbolts and raindrops that I had a blog to write for the day and I'd forgotten completely.

So I decided to be your Giant Saturday Activity Book.  Do you remember things like this from your youth? Or maybe you buy them for your kids? I always liked things like this... tons of pages of puzzles, word games and connect the dots, with a few "find the hidden objects" games thrown in for good measure. Not only did I like all the activities, I also liked to make my own activity books. I would deconstruct drawings to make my own connect the dots. Create lopsided crossword puzzles because I was never one for rulers.

I guess I've always liked making books. Or trying to entertain people. Maybe I just like playing with words. But today, since I forgot about my blog, it occurred to me I could entertain you with a word game and a fun prize. So here's today's question, torn straight from your Saturday Activity Book-- what's your favorite word? The most beautiful word? A fun word to say?

I remember reading an article once that listed some of the so-called most beautiful words in the English language and they included things like- dawn, lullaby, mesmerize, butterfly.... I don't remember what else. But it's an interesting idea. What words appeal to you? Do you like words with a pretty sound (mesmerize is so fun to say) or does a word appeal to you because of it's meaning. Like... mother?

Share a word or two with me today and I'll give on random poster an advance copy of Whispers Under the Southern Sky along with Steena Holmes superb Saving Abby. Happy Saturday my friends!

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Three Things About Texas

I'm asked (a lot) why I wrote a Texas-set trilogy when I don't live there. Although I grew up on a farm in Missouri and have lived in a rural areas of Nebraska and Ohio, I don't - and have never - lived in Texas. But the state still calls to me. I love visiting, whether we're hitting a coastal area like Galveston, or the Hill Country around Austin. Like the saying goes, Texas is a whole other country. With that, here are three of my favorite things about Texas:

3. The space. I might live in a city now, but I've never outgrown the need for a little space. A long pasture to look over, space to roam. Room to breathe. Living in a city is great - there are restaurants open until all hours, there is plenty of shopping and always something do to. Movies, sporting events, plays. We're about an hour from a great ballet company, we have one of the Great Lakes practically out our back door and restaurants that will make your mouth water. But we also have police/fire sirens, crime and (every now and then) a little smog. On days when it's just too loud here, I dream about Texas and the spaces I've visited there.

2. The cowboys. And no, I'm not just talking football, although the Dallas Cowboys are my favorite
football team. I like men who know who they are, what they want and who aren't afraid to fight for those things. Sure, city guys can know the same thing, but there is something about a guy who can wear a three piece suit and still change a flat tire that appeals to me. And then there are the tight Wranglers (or Levi's, I'm an equal opportunity jeans girl), the cowboy hats and boots. Oh, the boots. I'm a heels girl for me, but I love a pair of dusty boots on a a guy. sigh. Sue me, I like a guy in boots.

And that brings me to my first love of Texas:

1. The style. Sure, we all love Michael Kors for a fancy night out in New York. But on a daily basis, I'm more of a Texas dresser than a New York dresser. I mentioned my love of cowboy boots on a man above. I also like wearing boots just for me. Flat boots, Ugg boots, heeled boots, stiletto booties. Love them all. And the jeans. Oh, I love my yoga pants, but a pair of soft, well-worn jeans fresh from the dryer? There is nothing better. Not even the quirky Stella McCartney dress I bought off the clearance rack a couple of weeks ago.

There you go, readers, three reason I love Texas...tell me, what is your favorite setting (for yourself or the books you read)? 

Kristina's second Texas Girls book, What a Texas Girl Needs, is part of the Sweet Child Of Mine romance bundle now available from Crimson Romance ~ six contemporary romances with secret baby twists! It's available now for only $0.99! Here is a bit more about Kristina's book:

What a Texas Girl Needs: Vanessa Witte is ready to finally claim her life. The middle of three
daughters born into the Witte family - a powerful Texas name - she's been content to float through life. Being dumped by her shady ex? A blessing in disguise. Having a one-night-stand with Matias Barnes? Not one of her more stellar moments. But she's back in Lockhardt with a secret and a reason to start fresh: A baby.

Matias Barnes knows all about society women - it's part of the reason he left his wealthy family behind and took a job on a ranch. He doesn't like the endless string of parties, the inane conversation, or the gold-digging tricks those women have perfected. But that doesn't stop him from wanting Vanessa Witte. Mat knows she's so not right for him, but with her back in Lockhardt, can he resist her charms long enough to really let her go?

Book Links:   Amazon   B&N   iBooks  KOBO 

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

Monday, August 22, 2016

Becoming A Gold Medal Keyboard Athlete by Tessa Shapcott

Have you been watching the Rio Olympics? There is a debate here in the UK about what has been helping the British and American teams top the medal tally.  The Department of Sport and Performance Psychology at Loughborough University has made a list of the behaviours needed to become a winner, and it made me think about how you can apply them to writing. Here are my three favourites.

The psychologists say ignore the competition.  I think that’s a good one.  Comparing yourself to others is demoralising and futile.  Far better to just concentrate on your writing and seek out industry professionals who will give objective reviews of your strengths and weaknesses.

Get in your bubble.  This means focusing on what needs to be done and shutting out irrelevant tasks.  I work as an editor and the most successful authors I know do this incredibly well.  They are tough about ring-fencing their time, delegating when they need to and being a wee bit selfish about their writing because it always comes first.

Stick to your plan.  This sounds quite rigid, but actually requires a combination of knowing your goal and not wavering from it, but being able to be flexible if you encounter a fork in the road.  The journey may not be straightforward but you get to your destination in the end.

The takeaway is: grit, determination, resilience and desire are what separate winners from losers!

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Barbara Ankrum: The Joys of Blueberries!

I usually write about books and writing here, but it’s August. Summer is winding down. I’m on a crazy deadline and my brain is not all there. So let’s talk about blueberries instead!

Summer is all about the fresh fruit and veggies for me. For years, I lived in California where the growing season is long and the weather is sweet. I always had a vegetable garden there, growing tomatoes and zucchini, peppers, onions and basil. My husband and I recently moved to Kansas to be closer to our daughter and her family, and adjusting to a new climate after living in California forever is…well…interesting. Let me just say, um, it’s not a dry heat.

I love all the green here though. With the drought in California, it’s been a good long time since I’ve seen so much lovely green and I’ve managed to uncover some hidden gems here, too. Like the blueberry fields outside of town where you can pick your own, fill buckets to your heart’s content. Picking your own fruit reminds me of the days when we actually understood that our food didn’t magically grow on grocery store shelves. As I went with my grandkids to harvest our little share of blueberries, I remembered doing that as a kid up in the Adirondacks, where berry bushes meandered wildly across hillsides, under pine trees and near foraging black bears. Those memories I hope to recreate with my own grandkids. Maybe you can find your own berry patch or vegetable garden to share with your kids or grandkids.

So today, I thought I’d share with you a recipe for Blueberry Pie that my family loves.  I made this one with my granddaughter after our berry picking adventure. Here it is.

2 Crust Pie Crust:

One of my secrets is to keep everything COLD. Flour in the freezer, butter or shortening COLD. Ice water to mix everything with. This helps make a flaky crust. And you definitely want a flaky crust! And mix as LITTLE as POSSIBLE. Just until your dough can be formed into a ball to roll out. (To make a one crust pie, simply cut these ingredients in half.)

2 Cups Flour + enough to roll it out on the board (maybe an extra ¼ cup.)
1 Tsp Kosher Salt
2/3 cup + 2 Tbsp. Crisco or some combo of Crisco and Butter (Crisco is awesome!)
½ (or a little more) Cup of Ice Water
(I fill a cup measure with ice to chill, then water and that’s usually just right.)

Mix together salt and flour. Add shortening and cut in with a pastry blender or two knives until pea sized. (Up to this point, you can mess as much as you want with the flour, but once you add the water, hurry up!)

Add ice water, a little at a time, (fluff with a fork) until you can form it into a ball. Not a perfect ball. It will look flaky. And don’t squeeze too hard. Just hard enough to get it to stick together. No seriously, this is critical!

Make two balls and roll out to fit your pie plate plus a little extra to flute the edges.


5-6 Cups of Fresh Blueberries (Frozen will work, too.)
1TBSP Freshly grated Lemon rind
Juice of ½ lemon
Combine and mix with blueberries:
¾- 1 cup sugar depending on tartness of berries (I like it a bit on the tart side)
¼ C of flour (or cornstarch- I use flour)
1 Tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp of freshly grated nutmeg

¼ cup of butter, cut into small pieces.

Mix together all ingredients and pour into bottom pie crust.  Dot with Butter chunks. Cover with top pie crust (or a lattice crust is fun, too.) Make sure you cut a vent in the top crust. Bake at 400* for 40-45 minutes, or until crust begins to brown and blueberry juice bubbles up. Keep an eye on it, don’t over bake.

Voila! Blueberry Pie!  Hope you enjoy it! And while you’re indulging, pick up my latest book, RECKLESS IN LAGUNA for just $1.99. It’s a vacation in Laguna Beach and a love story all in one!

Here’s a little taste of RECKLESS IN LAGUNA:

Nio swallowed hard as he bent his head closer. “What about your fiancĂ©?” His lips brushed the side of her mouth and his breath whispered against her skin. 
She blinked. “Ex. Let’s not talk about him. Pretend he doesn’t exist.” 
“Done.” He threaded his fingers into her hair at the back of her head. His kiss was soft at first, testing…tasting, even. As if he didn’t want to scare her. But then he deepened it, finding her tongue with his, slanting his mouth against hers.
His arms curled around her and he pulled her closer against those hard chest muscles she’d only glimpsed through the lens of her camera, stunning her with a stab of heat. She’d forgotten what it felt like to lose herself in a kiss like this. How a kiss could pull her under like a wave and spin her upside down. If Steven’s kisses had been a watermark she’d settled for, Nio’s was a riptide. 
She wrapped her arms around him to anchor herself because she thought she might fall if she didn’t. His back was strong and she remembered it now—the corded muscles along his spine, the slender dip of his back where it met his waist—though all of him was bigger now, more manly. She felt his hardness press up against her like an electrical charge. All the while, his tongue explored her mouth as if he were reacquainting himself with the very essence of her. And she, with him. He tasted of beer and salty air and something indefinably Nio. And she wanted more.
Even as that thought evolved, another warned her that kissing him was a mistake. Allowing herself to feel like this again, for him, was a mistake. 
With her head spinning, she pulled back from the kiss. Her breath came in shaky gulps. He let her go reluctantly, seeming equally shaken by their kiss.
“Whoa,” she murmured, pushing her hair from her eyes. “That…that was…”
“Yes. Good. But now that I think of it, we probably shouldn’t have.”
With his hand brushing her shoulder, he said, “Maybe you should think less and feel more.”
“Is that what you do?” She looked up at him through her lashes.
“No. But I’ll make an exception for you.”
She nodded. “I’m supposed to hate you, you know. I would, if you’d give me half the chance.”
“But you don’t.” 
“Oh, I did. Maybe I got over that,” she said. “Or maybe I just want to.”
 “I’m counting on it.” 
Above them, the clouds cleared a space in the black velvet, revealing a smattering of stars and moonlight that cast shadows around them, and the nearby ocean beat a rhythm as steady as a pulse.
“Did you ever think about me?” he asked. “All those years?”
Did she ever? Only every time she looked at another man and thought what her life might have looked like if he’d stayed and given her a chance. Only every night in the dark when she wished it was him holding her and not any other man. And only now—now that she’d tasted his kiss again and felt the things she’d felt in his arms—did she realize that she never had stopped thinking of him, comparing him to every other man she’d ever known. It was damned unfair, really, that one man could hold such power over her. She should resent him even now, but all she could do was wonder how she’d been without him for so long.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Starting Over by Jenny Gardiner

I decided it was time to spin off my It's Reigning Men series, which coincided with an extra book deadline (I'd added another book with one of my editors, which I thought I had time for but then realized I was going to have to really bust my butt to get done in time). I'd set up the spin-off in A Court Gesture, so I thought it would be totally easy to just go from there. Ha! I clearly had forgotten how long it took me to get into the groove with the It's Reigning Men series. As a reader I am sometimes dismayed when I start a book in the series, love it  madly, then read subsequent books in the series and am frustrated by how awful they are. But I was really glad with this series that I think the books improved as I continued the story, got deeper into the world and the people in the world.

So with a new series, well, guess what? That's a whole new world, and all new people, even if they are linked somewhat. So Red Hot Romeo, book one of The Royal Romeo series (set at a magnificent vineyard in Tuscany) did not come easy. Aside from just trying to encourage that story to come out of my imagination, there was the huge amount of research I had to undertake as well. It was the first book I was a week late getting to my editor, but hey, I got it there! Finally! And I love the story. It was a good lesson in hunkering down, staying up late, and just getting it done. I hope you'll have a chance to check it out and if you do please let me know what you think!

Have a great rest of the summer!

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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Maggie Marr - Good-bye Sweet Summer

The end of summer is here, at least at my house. This week the kidlets returned to school and I've returned to my routine. Or the beginning of what will become my routine. I wasn't ready for summer to end this year. I enjoy the long-lazy days with children home from school. While I still have work and deadlines the pressures of the kids' activities and school projects was off and that provides a lovely respite from the daily carpool grind. 

As I gear up for fall, I look forward to what is coming up for me. 

August 29th A Forbidden Love publishes.

A Forbidden Love is the 9th book in my Eligible Billionaires Series and the 4th (and final) book about The Travati Brothers. I've fallen for the Travati brothers--each and every one. Sexy, strong, business-men who were completely ungettable until the *right* woman came alone. Devon is no different. He, too, doesn't believe that he'll find his happily-ever-after nor is he looking as he tries to piece his life back together after testifying against a Russian mobster and putting his and all the members of his family's lives at risk. No, Devon, is in no place to find love but of course, that's when Ilana walks into his life. She too isn't looking for love. She is starting her first business, The Children's Enrichment Center, and still getting over the death of her mother. Definitely not the time to start a romance. Ah...but love has a mind of it's own!

Then, in September, book one in my *new* Hollywood Hitman Series arrives. Beck is the first book in the series and while I can't show you the cover yet, I can tell you that I love love love this book! I also love the series.  

Hollywood starlet, Natalie Warner is in danger, and she can't ignore the risk any longer.  Her latest film is on track as the biggest box office hit for the summer, but someone doesn't care about the numbers. Instead, someone is after her. The Studio refuses to brush the threat under the rug, forcing Natalie to take on a bodyguard, but that bodyguard comes in the shape of rugged, irresistible Beck Tatum.

Beck is an anomaly, a riddle without a punch line.  Uncertain of what part of the government he worked for before he lost the only woman he ever loved, along with his memory, he struggles to put his past in order.  Now, with a second chance to prove his worth, Beck is assigned to protect a high-value asset.  Rich and entitled, but yet kind and vulnerable, Natalie isn't the spoiled, rich woman he expected.  But falling for her would put her life on the line.  And Beck is't about to lose anything else. 

Beck is available for pre-order at iBooks

Next up is Jax, book 2 in my Hollywood Hitman series and my Christmas story which will be part of a multi-author anthology. Yes, it's going to be a *fabulous* fall!


Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Olympics and Empty Nesting

My youngest graduated high school this June. In a few weeks, he'll be off to start his post-secondary education and we will, officially, be empty nesters. Here is a rare photo of just Sam and I. I'm usually pointing my camera at him and his sister or we're all four dressed up for a family portrait.

This one was taken at our family reunion this summer. Poor kid was in the middle of exams, plus had to write his valedictory speech while the rest of us were enjoying a very social weekend.

In some ways he has been weaning us of his presence for the last two years. He likes to game. He had quite the academic workload, graduated on the honour roll, and held down a job all through high school, rarely going to parties, so we really couldn't complain that when he was home, he liked to plug into Skype and shout, "Team! Where are you?"

Also, as someone who has spent pretty much his entire childhood plugged into her own computer, I wasn't in a position to criticize. But I miss him already.

Which is why I'm grateful for the Olympics right now. First, I'm grateful there's something making headlines that is positive and fun. We've had a rough go in the news lately, haven't we?

And I love that the games are something we all want to watch. On a typical evening, I might watch Mindy Project or Jane The Virgin. My husband would watch nonstop Clint Eastwood if I let him. Our son watches his own programs on his computer--something called (I might have it wrong) Roostertail? Or anime or things that stream on Twitch? He loves watching world gaming championships and sometimes gets up at ungodly hours to catch some of that before going to work.

But the last few evenings, we have all sat together watching beach volleyball and swimming. Today I took a break from writing and the two of us watched girls gymnastics, oohing and wowing over their incredible acrobatics, rooting for Canada.

Sports really do bring people together.

A month from now, when I'm blue because my house is quiet--something we think we want when it is endlessly noisy and messy--I'll be able to look back on this two weeks of watching the games with my son and think, "At least we had Rio."

Are you watching the Olympics? What brings your family together?

Dani Collins is a USA Today Bestselling author for Harlequin Presents, Tule's Montana Born and herself.

Look for Bought By Her Italian Boss, Harlequin Presents, July 2016, The Secret Beneath The Veil, Harlequin Presents Sep 2016, and His Christmas Miracle, Montana Born, Oct 27, 2016.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Michelle Styles: Can you train your cat?

Can you train a cat or is this an exercise in futility? was my first thought when I heard of the new book by John Bradshaw and Sarah Ellis —    The Trainable Cat How to make life happierfor you and your cat.  After all dogs have masters but cats have slaves. And then I thought about it — my cats have always been trained to know when food is coming with the words -- trot trot trot They have always come racing. They know how to use a litter tray etc.  After deciding I did know how train cats, I thought little of it because my cat was about 6 and he was a good cat (ie we got on very well).

Unfortunately he developed congestive heart failure at the end of last month and despite the efforts of the vets he died at the beginning of the month. He left behind a very large heart so I went to the Newcastle Cat and Dog Shelter and chose two kittens (Hercules and Persephone) to help fill it   The shelter told me that they were brother and sister but the vet pointed out that they were both girls. Kittens are notoriously hard to sex! Because the Trainable Cat book was being reviewed and it is supposed to be the latest on cat behaviour, I ordered it and read it to see if there were any tips to help them settle. In particular I want them to become comfortable around my collies and to hopefully not get so stressed at going to the vet’s.
Heathcliff last year
It was an interesting read. Training your cat is not about making it into a stunt animal but making it easier to get on with. A lot of it is about working with your cat rather than against its natural instincts. It is about getting your ca to relax and keeping your cat amused. Cats are intelligent and can easily get bored. Cats are also very much hunters and as such tend to need their space and as well enjoying exercising their minds.
I was surprised to discover how much they rely on scent and visual cues, rather than meowing. Feral colonies tend to be quiet places.  Cats save their meows for humans. Apparently humans are very good at deciphering their own cats’ calls but not so good at deciphering a strange cat’s. Thus  researchers believe cats tailor their vocalisation to the specific person.
Hercules and Persephone 
Cats  are also very wary of the unfamiliar, particularly dogs and people. Kittens under two months are adaptable and spend much of their time learning about the world. Researchers think that cats do not really know the concept of *human* until they are introduced to it. During the kitten socialisation period, they build up a picture of a *human* and decide which are friendly and which are not. They do not instinctively recognise children as small humans. Thus it can be helpful if a kitten meets a wide range of people. They also need to learn that being handled and stroked is pleasurable but need to understand on their terms.
Cats in general should ignored when first encountered — the cat should be given time to approach.  Apparently a friendly cat greeting sounds like *prr-up*. They  also hold their tail up.  It is difficult to say but I was surprised that my kittens do greet me with it. They have scent glands in their face (the other place is at the base of their tail). It is why cats do like to be stroked on their face — they are marking you with their scent.
After a week, Hercules and Persephone are beginning to relax
Currently I am trying to get my kittens to relax around the collies. The collies are used to cats and have behaved really well – not making eye contact, preferring to play with toys, not bothering the kittens but allowing themselves to be sniffed etc.  The kittens still hiss and spit a bit but since I took some of the dogs’ bedding upstairs (where the kittens are currently spending a great deal of time) to allow the kittens to investigate the smell, they have calmed down. This is called systematic desensitizing. The kittens have also been fed cat treats when the collies are in the room. Feeding treats and understanding the hierarchy of such things is an important part of training. For my cats, they will work for chicken but do like Dreamies and then there is cat food and biscuits. They also love chasing toys so the fishing rod toys the shelter gave as part of the *cat welcome* pack have come into good use. They are kept for training and luring purposes and should be used sparingly (ie put away before the cat becomes bored)
Persephone on her comfort blanket
With the vet’s, there is a long process to get your cat to feel comfortable in a cat carrier. It all starts with getting your cat to relax on a comfort blanket. I have started doing this and we shall see. Persephone had a reaction to the cat flu vaccine and did seem calmer on the blanket but really going to the vet is no fun — lots of needles and strange people. There  are also tips for getting pills down. You can train cats to accept syringes (filled with tasty meat/pate to begin with).
Apparently cats need to scratch on posts that are taller than they are. They also need several places to scratch. In the UK, it is illegal to declaw your cat.
I was interested to learn that the chewing of boxes and paper – something my old cat did is because they like to disembowel their prey.  By playing with your cat and encouraging your cat to look at your home as a *hunting ground* through providing lots of surfaces to jump on and things to hide in, you can help keep a cat’s natural instinct for catching small prey at bay. It is also trying to re-direct the cat’s attention to the toys rather than to attacking feet or hands. Apparently squealing or jumping away if playfully clawed can encourage the cat. Some people have to resort to wearing wellies at home until the cat learns not to attack feet, so it is best not to start such games…
Anyway The Trainable Cat is an interesting read and worthwhile if you want to understand how cats behave.  I believe my new kittens are becoming much more sociable.

When not playing with her kittens, Michelle Styles writes warm, witty and intimate historical romances.  Her next Harlequin Historical will be published in February 2017 Sold to the Viking Warrior. You can learn more about Michelle and her books on

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Christina Hollis: Fast Forward, Reverse...and Writing

The Man In Grey
When I was a teenager, the world was full of old people. Now it's crammed with kids—including Son No. 1, resplendent in his new suit and ready to start in the sixth form next month while I'm still trying to lose the baby weight. Where does the time go? Breakfast comes around every ten minutes in this house, and there are only 131 shopping days to Christmas!

A century ago today, my grandfather (along with thousands of other soldiers of the Great War) was fighting near Baghdad. It was his way of thanking the British Empire for saving him from the poisonous mud of the Thames  (you can read more about that here). Fewer than a hundred years ago, horses and carts outnumbered motor vehicles, and the only planes were made from string and matchwood held together with crossed fingers and good luck. The phrase "wing and a prayer" originates in World War Two, but I'll bet there were no atheists in those earlier aircraft, either.

These days we think nothing of hopping on a sturdily-manufactured plane and crossing the globe for work, or on holiday. What my grandfather looked back on as The Good Old Days of army life (three square meals a day and three—yes that's three!—sets of clothes: one on, one in the laundry, and Dress Uniform) is far beyond living memory. I look back fondly to pre-internet times, although whether the past was quite as rosy in real life for either Gramps or me is a moot point. I hated school, and left as soon as I could.  I dived straight into various office jobs, which at the time were all cauldrons of ambition, powered by Darwin's edict of survival of the fittest.
Find out more at
Throwing off the shoulder pads and power-perm to become a writer was the best thing I ever did...but that doesn't stop me getting a bit misty-eyed when I look back on those days. It was only when I included some of my real-life office experiences in His Majesty's Secret Passion that I remembered what a cut-throat business keeping your name in front of the boss could be.  Writing all the other bits of the romance reviewers call "thrilling" and "...highly sensual and shimmering with emotional intensity" was a whole lot more fun. All that, and Grecian sea and sun, too!

Going back to talk of our grand old family tradition of carefully avoiding following in a parent's footsteps, my children look on learning as their lifeboat (although they've come close to capsizing now and then). They put their trust in paper qualifications, rather than luck and native cunning. I don't blame them. Especially when Son No. 1 looks so smart in his new suit!

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.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Taking a minute to relax...

I and a get-up-and-go sort of person.  I'm usually out of bed by five and generally hit the ground running.  Between family stuff, books I'm writing and books that are out and about...and gardening, my love of cooking and...  Well, I don't chillax very often.

But I work at relaxing.  One of my favorite ways over a hot cup of coffee (or two, or three...) and the newspaper in the morning, or over reading a good book (I know, shocker, right?). And even though it is technically work, I find gardening and cooking relaxing as well.

And one of my all time favorite ways to relax, especially here in Erie is a sunset on the lake...

So here's today's short blog...what are you favorite ways to relax after a busy day or a busy week?


PS. Here's one of my relaxing moments...combining my love of cooking and gardening!


Hold Her Heart, 9/16
Same Time Next Summer, 7/16
I Waxed My Legs for This? 6/16
A Day Late and a Bride Short, 3/16 

Friday, August 12, 2016

Notes and Notebooks - with Kate Walker

I went into town yesterday. I had bills to pay, food to buy, parcels to post . . .
(I'm sending out copies of my new book, Indebted to Moreno to reviewers to read.) 

I also went into WHSmith in the precinct and of course now they are starting with the ‘Back To School’ specials and stationery promotions are everywhere.They also had a stationery sale. For me, a stationery sale is a worse temptation than the serpent in the garden of Eden.

I love notebooks. They always hold such infinite possibilities.
Just think of all the amazing words, the wonderful stories that can be written in those pristine pages. The memories and images recorded for posterity . . .

And some of them at 75% off. I was so, so tempted . . .

But . . . errr - I don't need any notebooks I have notebooks. I have a practical ring file pad that sits beside my keyboard where I scribble notes to myself as I work so that I don’t forget important ideas.

I have a handbag notebook for ideas that strike me when I'm out and about.

I have beautiful notebooks that my friends and family have given me. Notebooks so lovely that I don't dare to sully them with my scribbles. They paralyse me - but I love them.

So why do the really important notes - the ones that come in a flash of inspiration and mark points on which the plot of my book, the development of character, the intensity of emotion always turn so importantly, end up on the tattiest piece of paper, along with yesterday's shopping list?

I recently went to Wales, to teach a course at Fishguard Writers’ Holiday and there not one but two of my friends gave me the most  gorgeous notebooks – and  files . . . I am sitting at my desk looking at them now – and I have resolved not to put them away carefully  but  to use them right now. In fact I’ve actually just pulled one right next to me, marked the first page with the  working title of the new book I’m working on – and  I will be making notes.  On this new book? Er – well, no – I have lots of notes for this one – they’re all on the usual tatty pieces of paper scattered over my desk.

But the notes for the second book in the  series – I’m writing a duet of linked books about two sisters – they will go into this lovely new notebook, honest – just as soon as I can make myself use those lovely new pristine pages!

My latest Modern Romance/Harlequin Presents was Destined For The Desert King, which was published in December 2015.

A new title, Indebted to Morenowill be published at the end of September this year - and if you missed A Throne For The Taking the first time around, that will be reprinted in the 3-in-1 By Request Collection: Claiming His Princess in August 2016.

I've just been sent a copy of my brand-new Harlequin Presents cover for Indebted for Moreno - so I can share it with you here (the UK one hasn't appeared yet).

Visit Kate Walker's website and blog for up to date news; or find her Facebook page here.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Carole Mortimer: August News

Happy August Everyone,

I very much enjoyed attending the Romantic Writers of America conference in San Diego in July, only to return to the UK and find myself in the middle of a heatwave, with temperatures higher than those in California!

 It was, as always, a good conference, and I thoroughly enjoyed the beautiful city of San Diego, and the company of the lovely Susan Stephens. We share a suite at conferences, and as always, had a great time together exploring this wonderful city. My youngest son was very jealous of the fact that I saw the start of the Comicon Conference while in San Diego!

I have been helping with the daily care of a very sick friend since I returned, but working late at night writing the 3rd book in my #1 Bestselling Knight Security Series, Challenging Gabriel (Knight Security 2). This book is available for pre-order and will be published on September 30th.

The 5th book in my #1 Bestselling Regency Unlaced series, Desired by a Lord (Regency Unlaced 5), was released on July 22nd, shortly after I returned home.

The 6th book, Captured by a Gentleman (Regency Unlaced 6) is now available for pre-order on all ebook retail sites, and will be released on August 30th. This 6th book is the story of Ranulf Montgomery, the cousin of the hero in Taken by the Earl (Regency Unlaced 3). So many of you wrote and told me that Ranulf had such a hard time in Taken by the Earl that he deserved to have his own story, and I totally agree with you. I hope you enjoy reading more about Ranulf, and getting to know his lovely heroine, Darcy.

As always, the stories in my Regency Unlaced, Knight Security, and Alpha series, are all romances with added suspense and danger. They are also more explicit in their language and sexual content than my other books. So beware, they’re hot!

Enjoy the rest of August!
Carole x

Buy Link to Desired by a Lord (Regency Unlaced 5)
Buy Link to Captured by a Gentleman (Regency Unlaced 6)
Buy link to Challenging Gabriel (Knight Security 2)
The ebooks in the Regency Unlaced, Knight Security, and Alpha Series are also available on all other ebook retail sites.


Wednesday, August 10, 2016

The 78th Copper Mountain Rodeo

By Jeannie Watt

Hey everyone and Happy Wednesday! I am so totally excited for the upcoming Tule Publishing Copper Mountain Rodeo series! The 75th Copper Mountain Rodeo was the first series published by Tule and were the books that had me coming back for more.  Now I'm part of the more! Crazy how things work, eh?

The 78th Copper Mountain Rodeo series goes on sale in September and I want to share the fantastic covers-- which Lee created. I'm a little in love with all of them.

Catch Me, Cowboy by Jeannie Watt  - September 8

She will not be his second choice…

When champion bronc rider Ty Harding returns home after four long years on the road, the first thing he does is look up Shelby O’Connor—the woman who begged him to stay. The woman he still loves.

Horse trainer Shelby O’Connor truly believes she’s over Ty—until he shows up on her family ranch and turns her world upside down. Shelby isn’t a big one for second chances, but she’s all about proving that she and Ty are done. But when she discovers that Ty plans to head back out on the rodeo circuit, despite his injuries, she has to come to terms with the fact that maybe she isn’t as over him as she thought she was. And now she has to decide what to do about that.

Will history repeat itself, or will Ty and Shelby get another chance at love?

Protect Me, Cowboy by Shelli Stevens -- September 15

With his competing days behind him, Wyatt Marshall has settled into ranching life in Marietta, Montana. But with the Copper Mountain Rodeo, his only exception, just around the corner, the last thing he needs is a distraction – especially one in the form of a pretty, yet vaguely familiar country singer.

For Claire Miller, it’s been almost a year since she fled Las Vegas with only her purse and the clothes on her back, and she’s been laying low in Montana with a new image. When she and her country band travel to perform in the small town of Marietta, she doesn’t plan on getting stranded there for several days. Or for an innocent offer to stay at a nearby ranch to turn out to be more than she bargained for: she recognizes its owner to be the same sexy cowboy she got hot and heavy with – then stood up – in Vegas.

With the passion flaring between them and Wyatt getting closer to putting the pieces together, Claire is ready to run again, not knowing the danger that sent her fleeing in the first place is close on her heels. 

Want Me, Cowboy by Sinclair Jayne -- September 22

All around cowboy Luke Wilder only came into Grey’s Saloon for a beer. Instead he ends up in a fight with a brother he never met and dumped by a fiery red haired bull breeder he only asked to dance. So much for keeping a low profile. But Luke is stubborn. And no woman’s ever said no to him twice, in business or pleasure.

Tanner McTavish is more focused on breeding bulls at the next level of IBR than in making out with cowboys, unless that cowboy is Luke Wilder. She’s secretly pined to catch his eye at several rodeos, but this Copper Mountain Rodeo is Tanner’s chance to chase a stock deal with the IBR. Things look to be all business, but looks can be deceiving, and Tanner’s never played it safe…

Can Tanner lasso her cowboy home for good?

Love Me, Cowgirl by Eve Gaddy  -- September 29

Disillusioned with love, Dr. Sean Gallagher returns to Marietta to join its expanding medical facility. Marietta’s newest, most eligible bachelor isn’t looking for long-term involvement – especially not with his brother’s much-younger former girlfriend, Honey Jordan. But short term? That’s another matter.

Escaping a toxic relationship with her father, barrel racer Honey spends as little time as possible in Marietta. Home for the 78th Annual Copper Mountain Rodeo, a brief fling with the town’s hottest new doc might be just the thing to distract her until she can leave again.

But when a riding accident strands Honey in Marietta, an affair meant to last a few nights turns into something much deeper, leaving both Sean and Honey torn between the safety of saying goodbye and the heartache of losing what they dare not admit they’ve found — one true and lasting love.

Does anyone have a favorite out of these four? I have a hard time choosing, so I'm going to go with my own. Thanks, Lee, for such a great representation for our stories!