Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Turning the Page

by Joanne Rock

My September release!
I started a new book this week and it’s one of the most creatively exciting times for a writer.  It’s always, always something to be jazzed about, and even fifteen years after my first sale, I do not take it for granted that I’m fortunate to write books that already have a home on a publisher’s list, books that readers will be looking for.

There was a time, of course, when that was not the case. And while writing a new book as a pre-published author is exciting, it’s also nerve-wracking wondering “will this be The One? My first sale book?” I can remember so well how much I angsted over each new story set-up, hoping this time I would iron out the problems with the previous story and write a great “can’t put it down” story.

It’s so much harder than it looks. Or at least, I underestimated how difficult it would be when I sat down to write the first story. Good authors make a story unfold so seamlessly. It sounds like they lived the story themselves, gaining access to interesting characters’ minds to retell the tale of how they fell in love against all odds. There is a smooth pace, engaging dialogue and tense moments where you wonder if all is lost. But then, through personal growth and sacrifice, there is a moment of hope. Love triumphs. Often, there are tears and smiles all around.

Today's giveaway
But it’s not easy! And it truly never *becomes* easy. Even after writing seventy-plus romances for Harlequin and a handful for Tule and some Young Adult books, I am positive that writing a book will never happen as fluidly as I once naively imagined it might. Sometimes, a story happens with a bit less gnashing of teeth, but there are always days where I feel like I’ve gone astray with the storytelling and I’ll need to go back and rewrite.

So it’s almost a surprise that—even knowing how many obstacles lie ahead for both myself and my characters—I still get so excited and fluttery-nervous over typing the simple words “Chapter One” at the top of a new page. There is still magic in the process. Still an incredible alchemy that a small idea can snowball into a story that turns complex, difficult, and ultimately satisfying.

I know the process will be hard. But I’m confident at the end, there will be tears and smiles all around.


Celebrate my 71st release from Harlequin with me! Pick up Whispers Under a Southern Sky, plus win today's giveaway of Seducing the Matchmaker, a 3-in1 with stories from me, Meg Maguire and Lori Borrill, plus some cute notepads to help you get organized. To enter, just post a note below and let me know what you're reading this month. I just finished A Place We Knew Well by Susan McCarthy and now I'm hoping the postman brings Jill Shalvis' The Trouble With Mistletoe so I can dig into her latest!

Monday, September 26, 2016

Eve Gaddy: Love Me, Cowgirl

I'm lucky enough to be part of the 78th Copper Mountain Rodeo Series, coming to you this fall from Tule Publishing. My book, Love Me, Cowgirl, will be out September 29, 2016.

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.
I had so much fun writing Love Me, Cowgirl. I'm from Fort Worth, Texas, home of the Fort Worth, Texas, Stock Show and Rodeo--it was the Fat Stock Show and Rodeo when I was younger and I can't help but think of it that way. I went to the rodeo every year when I was growing up. Barrel racing was one of my favorite events.

I've been married to a doctor for a long time, and I always enjoy writing about people in the medical profession. I always have a soft spot for my heroes and Sean Gallagher definitely rates a giant soft spot.

Honey Jordan is a heroine who knows what she wants and goes after it. Only problem is, she doesn't believe she can have a long-term relationship, since she can't stick around Marietta for more than a couple of weeks at a time.

But that's fine with Dr. Sean Gallagher, ER doc, recently returning to Marietta to practice. Sean and Honey have a few surprises coming their way once Honey is sidelined by injury and stuck in Marietta.

I've written about cowboys, cowgirls and rodeos in the past. Cowboy Come Home is one of my favorite books. The hero, Jake Rollins is a retired saddle bronc champion and his heroine, Anna Leigh Connor, teaches barrel racing.

But it's been a while since I wrote that one, so researching about rodeos, and especially barrel racing, was definitely important. Not to mention, fun.

I can't wait until September 29 when Love Me, Cowgirl is released!
Here's a link to all the 78th Copper Mountain Rodeo books!
Catch Me, Cowboy Jeannie Watt
Protect Me, Cowboy Shelli Stevens
Want Me, Cowboy Sinclair Jayne
Love Me, Cowgirl Eve Gaddy

Here are some links you might want to check out. You can even pre-order Love Me, Cowgirl!

Find me on Facebook at
@evegaddy on Twitter
pre-order links for Love Me, Cowgirl here:
Cowboy Come Home links

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Kellie Coates Gilbert; The Wonder of Story

I experienced pure joy recently.

My little grandson (I call him“Peanut”) spent the night and I introduced him to Walt Disney’s BAMBI for the first time. The birth of the “little Prince” held Peanut’s eyes riveted to the screen. Together, we laughed at Thumper’s antics on the frozen lake, or at the mommy rabbit’s scoldings. “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.” We smiled when springtime brought forth a lot of “twitterpating” and when Bambi mistook the little black and white skunk for a flower.

When the scenes turned grave in nature, my concerned grandson glanced over my way. “What’s going to happen, Dammy?” He leaned forward during the meadow scene and worried when “man entered the forest.” His little dimpled hand gripped my arm at the bleakest moment of the story, when shots rang out and Bambi no longer had his mother, his little face sober with concern until the regal buck with the massive antlers showed up on screen and restored safety.

There was a moment or two my good judgment was in question. Was he too young for this taut emotion?

The doubt quickly settled when at the closing credits my little Peanut nodded in satisfaction. “Play it again, Dammy?”

We ended up watching the movie six more times before he finally tired and moved on to playing trains with Papa. (Even then, he gripped the Bambi book I’d bought him in his hand.)

Whether three years of age, thirty-three or eighty-three, stories captivate our souls. It’s why, according to, movie revenues in 2013 totaled $10,870,181,084 (yes, that’s nearly $11 BILLION) and why it’s reported that Stephanie Myers’ popular Twilight novels sold over 42 million copies and was translated into 22 languages.

People love stories. Especially those of us who hang here on the Author Sound Relations blog.

Tell us . . . what story is captivating you this week?

(Released in 1942, Bambi is the fifth movie in the Disney Animated Canon. It's based on Bambi, a Life in the Woods, a 1923 novel by Austrian author Felix Salten.)

Kellie Coates Gilbert is the acclaimed author of the Texas Gold contemporary novels, which garnered designations as Barnes and Noble Top Picks and landed on Library Journal Best Book list. Influenced by her former career as a legal investigator where she spent nearly twenty-five years working in courtrooms and behind the scenes of some of the largest and most well-known cases in America, her fast-paced emotional stories have thrilled readers across America. Kellie’s highly anticipated Sun Valley Series, featuring three sisters living in a ski resort in Idaho, is scheduled to release in early 2017. 

Connect with Kellie on:

Facebook: Kellie Coates Gilbert, Author
Twitter: @KCoatesGilbert 

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Tips for Getting Noticed in the Slush Pile by Tessa Shapcott

I was asked by my local writer’s group to make a list of tips which might help with getting noticed.  I don’t claim it’s comprehensive.  But it’s based on my experience as an editor, who has spent many years combing slush piles for talent (and spotted a few good ones)!

Don’t just write what you want to write; write what readers want to read.  This is the insight which successful authors have, and which makes them stand out from the crowd.

Do your research.  Once you have established what a publisher or agent’s interest is, drill down and find out more about the specifics of what they handle; for instance, do they do general historical fiction, or just sagas or romances?

Accompany your submission with a professional query letter. Look at it like a job application.  Tell them a little about yourself, and if you’ve had any previous writing successes like winning an award.  Don’t be desperate!

Include a word count (a fiction novel should be between 45,000 and 100,000 words).  Identify the genre you are aiming at.

Make sure your story sparkles from the very first page.  The reader must be compelled from the start, and if your book only really gets going around page 100, you are in trouble!

Pay attention to spelling, punctuation and grammar.  Maybe enlist the help of a literate friend or critique partner to proof-read before you submit.

Tessa Shapcott is a freelance editor and writer.  She can be contacted via

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Barbara Ankrum: Christmas is Coming!

I just finished a new book, a Christmas story for Tule Publishing Group called, THE COWGIRL’S CHRISTMAS WISH and I’m so excited for you to read it. It’s the first Christmas book I’ve ever done in my long career and, frankly, I’m not sure why it took me so long to write one. The majority was done in the middle of summer heat waves and ninety percent humidity days when the thought of conjuring Montana in snowy December required extra imagination. But with a little help from holiday music, copious Pinterest photos and wishful thinking, I’m happy to say I love the final product.

It’s no secret that Christmas stories are wildly popular. I love them myself. As I wrote this story about polar opposites, (pardon the pun!)  I began to understand why they’re so in demand. When I asked myself what I wanted to read at that time of year, the answer was “something a little magical, something a little sweeter and more romantic.” So that’s what I wrote. It’s the story of a pair of good friends who just need a little push to realize they could be so much more. This is the third book in my Canadays of Montana series.  Eve Canaday’s cup is always half-full, and Dr. Ben Tyler, who’s not a fan of Christmas, is already halfway out of town as this story begins. Together, they are enlisted to fulfill the last wish of the mother of a little four-year old girl named Lily for a magical Christmas in oh, so merry Marietta, Montana.

Anyone who knows me well, knows I’m fascinated by the unexplained, the things we take on faith. But I wanted something a little more concrete in this story, something that made my characters question the Universe’s messages to them in a way they couldn’t readily deny. I won’t spoil the fun and reveal it to you now, but suffice it to say, this little messenger from the universe does his ‘jingly’ part to turn my hero and heroine toward each other.  And wishes, made at Christmas, always stand a better chance of coming true!

THE COWGIRL’S CHRSTMAS WISH comes out October 24th, from Tule Publishing Group and is up for preorder. And can I just mention here, LEE HYAT, the owner of this very blog, designed this awesome cover for me. I could not love it more! I hope you enjoy the book and that it gets you in the mood for the holidays! Let me know how you like it!

Here’s a little taste of THE COWGIRL’S CHRISTMAS WISH:

“You were saying?” Eve said, studying her fingernail. “Something about me being absolutely right?”
Leaning against the door jamb, arms uneasily folded, Ben’s mouth curved up into a grin. “That’s right. You were.”
The grin was throwing her off. “Anything else?”
“You look real pretty without makeup.”
“Don’t you try to butter me up, Doctor Tyler.”
She yawned broadly. 
“I’m serious.”
“I’m not leaving if that’s what you’re worried about. If that’s why you’re still standing at my door, flicking compliments my way.”
His gaze narrowed. 
“A deal’s a deal’s a deal,” she said. “I promised to help with Lily and I will. Besides, if you’ve decided the best thing for you to do with your life is run off to the jungles of Borneo or the Amazon or—”
“—or Honduras, instead of staying in Marietta and facing whatever it is that’s scaring you away, a place where people actually need and care about you, then who am I to try and stop you?”
He stiffened. “Scaring me? Nothing’s scaring me away. I’m choosing to go. Of my own free will.”
A beat passed before she decided not to say what she wanted to say. “Okay. Whatever. Fine. I’m tired, Ben. I’m going to bed now. See you in the morning.”
She started to shut the door, but he stopped it with his hand, incidentally covering hers. His touch, as it always did, sent want curling through her. She stared at his fingers for a long, gathering moment before meeting his blue, blue eyes.
And without any warning, he kissed her. On the mouth. A quick, buss of his lips that happened before she could evade it.  Not that she would have. His lips were softer than she’d imagined and his kiss tasted of wine and desperation. Just a glimpse, yet she was sure she wasn’t mistaken about the desperation.  
And just when she thought he was done, he deepened the kiss, pulling her practically naked self against him. She felt her nipples grate against the fabric of her tee-shirt, pressed up against the solid wall of his chest.  She grabbed the door for balance, and then his shoulders, her breath catching in her throat. His tongue breeched the seam of her mouth and she opened to him, hungry for this taste of him.
His desire jutted against her hipbone, raw and hungry as her own. Her heart pounded and stars flickered behind her eyes. 
Kissing her. Ben was kissing her.

Monday, September 19, 2016

G'Day Mayte! by Jenny Gardiner


I'm on holiday visiting my daughter in Australia! So I'll just take a quick minute to post a few of my favorite pictures from Oz so far. It's AMAZING here!
Meanwhile it's working vacation, as I've got a book (from a new series) releasing right after I return home, and another book in that series due to my editor at the same time. So I'm off to get writing for a while so I can reward myself with a sea kayaking afternoon tomorrow!

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: Beck: A Hollywood Hitman

What is it about anything *new*? A new year conjures up the idea of a fresh start and brilliant changes with new goals and new ideas. A new school year, that was always exciting when I was a kid, with the thought of how I and my classmates had changed over the summer. Even things as ubiquitous as a new outfit or new shoes? I think *new* is exciting for me because of the idea of fresh start, a new journey, the unknown, and a brave adventure. 

I know for me this past spring was all about my *NEW* series and writing the first book(s) in what I hope will become a series beloved by my readers. These books allow me (as do all my Hollywood books) to take the tidbits of my past and day job and spin them into fabulous fiction. Also, I got to stretch my romantic-suspense muscles something I haven't really done since finishing Hollywood Hit.

Beck Tatum is a fabulously sexy man with a mysterious past. He is a man of honor and a man who has lost his memory, his job, and the woman he loves. Now he's been offered a second-chance in the form of a job. In this job he'll protect a high-value private asset--Natalie Warner. I hope you enjoy Beck. 

Natalie Warner can’t ignore the risk any longer. A star on the rise, her latest film is on track to be the biggest box office breaker of the summer but Natalie isn’t safe. Someone is after her. Could it be her angry addict father, or her mother who always wanted to be a star herself? What about her ex-boyfriend who just did time? The Studio refuses to ignore the threat and forces Natalie to take on a bodyguard, but that bodyguard comes in the shape of rugged, irresistible Beck Tatum, because whoever is after Natalie isn’t going to stop until someone makes them. 

A question, wrapped in a riddle, Beck Tatum doesn’t know what part of the government he worked for before he lost his memory or what exactly his mission was. He can remember that he loved and that he lost that woman as well as his memories on that final mission. Now with a second chance, he’s assigned to protect a high-value asset. Rich and entitled but yet kind and vulnerable, Natalie Warner isn’t the spoiled rich woman Beck expected. But falling for her would put her life on the line and Beck is't about to lose anything else.

Maggie Marr has fifteen years in the Hollywood trenches. She's been an agent and is now and entertainment attorney and a producer. She has loads of stories...  You can find her on Facebook, Twitter, and at 

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Addison Fox: The Beauty of Fall

I know I’ve written about it in previous blog posts, but I am endlessly fascinated by how much of my life falls into rhythm with the seasons. While certainly the weather and available daylight hours have a considerable impact on our days, I find that each season truly has a special rhythm all its own.

For me, fall is my most productive window of the year, while also being my busiest. Nearly half my immediate family has a birthday in the fall so there are parties and presents, trips and plans all coming to fruition this time of year (sadly, we don’t all live in driving distance.) I also find that my personal productivity just seems to spike this time of year. Whether it’s the amount of things I’m juggling or just a personal love of the season, fall is my “Energizer bunny” time!

This often translates directly to my work as well. I’m amazed how often the weather and seasons find its way into my story, both as setting details as well as a driver of the story. A hot, humid summer day generates a specific set of images, where as a cold, blustery winter afternoon lends another. My characters are as driven by the world around them and being able to imagine those details – and how they impact my story – are essential.

As another benefit, I often find writing about a cold winter’s day while battling the dog days of summer in real life is a natural cooling agent, while thinking of hot summer days in the midst of a February freeze can work in reverse!

What about you? As we enter into fall – or spring in the southern hemisphere – are there things you’re looking forward to about the season?

Thanks for joining me today!

Despite early ambitions of being a diver, a drummer or a doctor, Addison Fox happily discovered she was more suited to life as a writer. She lives in New York and - thankfully - doesn't have to operate on anyone. Her next two releases will be out in November. AT LAST, the first in her Brooklyn Brotherhood contemporary series, will be out from St. Martin’s Swerve. And her 2-in-1 with Karen Whiddon, A HUNTER UNDER THE MISTLETOE, will arrive from Harlequin Nocturne. You can visit her at her website at 

Friday, September 16, 2016

Dani Collins: What Makes A Great Romance?

I read a blog this morning that talked about readers becoming frustrated lately because they are buying books marketed as romance, only to discover they don't have a Happily Ever After ending.

This got me thinking about what makes a great romance--which is very hard to pin down. But I think we can all agree that the lack of a satisfying, uplifting ending, one where the couple (or menage) look forward to a future together, makes for a lousy read if you're expecting a romance.

I remember the first time this happened to me. It was way back in the stone age, when I was still in high school. I was buying used books from garage sales. This particular story had a married man on a ranch kiss the heroine (brutally) and say some awful stuff. That was pretty much the extent of the romantic development. The heroine left the ranch alone, having learned something, I suppose.

Perhaps the book had literary merit. I actually can't recall much about it because I was so horrendously disappointed. Where was the angst? The love me, don't hurt me, the dawn of understanding? The emotional and physical intimacy?

Romance gets a bad rap sometimes because of its predictable happy ending, but it's obviously something readers want. (I do!) Romance is a (nearly) billion dollar industry. Its readership is obviously a strong and loyal one if non-romance authors are marketing their books as romance, trying to get in on that game.

But I guess that's why and how Harlequin found its niche with the Harlequin promise so many decades ago. It's definitely why I started reading them and why I wanted so badly to write for them.

As for what makes a 'great' romance. That's highly subjective. You would think that, as an author, I would know. I write what I like to read and cross my fingers that others like to read that, too. Even at that, when I wrote my current Harlequin Presents, The Secret Beneath The Veil, I struggled. It was the first time my editor said, "Why don't we schedule a call?" rather than just sending a revision letter.

I won't get into all the things we (I) wound up changing, but it was a book that did not write itself. I was pretty sure my hero was too harsh, my heroine too wishy-washy, my premise too outlandish. All of it stank and my career was over. When it finally released, I glanced at the reviews sideways, with one eye. Cautiously.

I hope I don't jinx it by telling you the reviews so far have been very kind. Which leads me to believe what makes a great romance is author angst. The more insecure I am on this side of the screen, the more likely you are to enjoy the end product. I'll go with that, otherwise I'd be too paralyzed to continue writing.

I'm curious, though. Have you wound up buying a romance recently only to find it lacks that integral HEA (or happy for now?) What do you think makes for a great read in a romance?

Comment for a chance to win: Clair and Aleksy from The Russian's Acquisition make a guest appearance in The Secret Beneath The Veil. I'll draw one lucky winner for a signed copy of The Russian's Acquisition on Sept 20th, and announce it in the comments. Check back to see if you won.

Here's the blurb and quick links for The Secret Beneath The Veil, available now.

"You may kiss the bride." 

With five little words, Mikolas Petrides secures a vital business merger and finally repays his grandfather for rescuing him from the horrors of his childhood. But when he lifts his new bride's veil, it's not the woman he was expecting!

Viveka Brice will do anything to protect her little sister, even pretend to marry a stranger. Her deception revealed, she flees the wedding, but is soon confronted by Mikolas. He is a man who always gets what he wants, and if the marriage is off, Viveka will have to compensate him—by becoming his mistress instead!

US  |  CA  |  UK  |  Aus  |  Nook  |  Kobo  |  iBooks  |  GooglePlay  

USA Today Bestselling author Dani Collins writes sexy, witty, vibrant romance for Harlequin Mills and Boon, Montana Born Books, and herself. 

Dani lives in rural BC, Canada with her high school sweetheart where they're getting used to being empty nesters. 

Join Dani's reader group and receive Cruel Summer, a short story ebook romance (with an HEA!) as a welcome gift. 

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Michelle Styles: A Mother's Influence

Sometimes it seems the only time people discuss mothers is when Mother’s day happens. However,  my daughter happened to stumble upon Marmee and Louisa by Eve LaPlante which is the first exploration of the influence Abigail May Alcott had on her daughter Louisa. Prior to this the focus had been on her father, Bronson Alcott a self-proclaimed visionary educationalist. However in Little Women, the lynchpin is Marmee, the mother.  And then I  started thinking – how many other book were about the mother/daughter relationship and why have the mothers of authors been ignored?
When reading about the  Little House books, why is the emphasis on Pa rather than on both the parents? I recently read the annotated autobiography of Laura Ingalls Wilde, Pioneer Girl and much was made of the father, rather less of the mother. Equally I suppose the relationship between Laura and her own daughter Rose is ripe for exploration.
Then there is Jane Austen who wrote about strong older women (some of them monstrous). What was her mother like? Was she a Mrs Bennett type? Or some other creature entirely?  And what about the Bronte’s? What was their mother like? I know she died young but what effect did her death have on the family? What were her beliefs and how did that affect her daughters?
Some of it could be lack of material. If the journals and letters have
disappeared, there can be no way of telling a person’s thoughts or looking for clues. In Abigail May Alcott’s case, some survived but they were heavily redacted by her husband. After her death he cut out those passages which were unfavourable to him. Given what remained, it begs the question of how badly did he treat her?  He was not a man who believed in supporting his family.
Some of could be subtle (or not so subtle) misogyny — that the father/daughter relationship matters more for some reason. Or that women somehow have less influence in their children’s lives.
I am suppose I am as guilty as any for not wondering more about the mother’s influence. I know my mother had and continues to have a huge influence on me, even though there is an ocean between us.
Anyway, the book is excellent. I had not realised how much Louisa had cribbed from her mother’s life. Abigail May Alcott also proved to be a woman of courage and really moulded her daughter.

Michelle Styles writes warm, witty and intimate historical romance. Her next book Sold to the Viking Warrior will be published in February 2017. You can learn more about her books on

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Christina Hollis: My Latest Writing Aid...

…has four floppy paws and a wet nose!

I Used To Have A Garden...
Meet Alex, a golden retriever/yellow labrador cross. I’ve written about our determination not to have pets here, and Alex's early days on my blog. Like the arrival of a new human baby, he turned our lives upside down. 

Alex is now seven months old. The adjustment process was tricky, but that was my fault rather than his. Despite a teddy he’d shared with his litter mates, a ticking clock, nightlight, secure den and radio playing softly, he screamed for nights on end until I realised he was being disturbed by deer walking through the garden outside. He couldn’t move away to find a spot where he couldn’t hear them, because I didn’t realise his puppy cage should be left open at night.  Once I’d moved it to a quieter spot and given him free run of the room, we’ve had peace and quiet.

...And An Insulated Box!
The next problem was the destruction of my dreams. I imagined a dog who would sleep under my desk as I worked, caper along beside me on my running sessions, or lie alongside while I worked in the garden. Wrong on all three counts—at least to begin with. Whatever he did under my desk in those first few weeks (distracting me by licking my toes, or chewing through the landline) it wasn’t sleeping. As you have to be very careful with the developing bones of puppies, it’ll be almost a year before he can pound along the forest tracks for long distances beside me. And as for watching from the sidelines while I’m gardening…no chance! He’s so good at the basics such as digging, trampling soil and thinning plants, he always dives in to help. I’ll leave the rest to your imagination. Let’s just say he’s banned from “helping” anywhere I want to look half-decent!

On the other hand, although I may not be running any more, three short walks a day (not to mention chasing missing slippers etc around the garden!) keeps my Fitbit step-count easily over 10,000. Not that Alex puts in anything like that mileage. There are lots of circular routes through, and around, our wood. He knows them all. I find walking in the fresh air is a great aid to writing. It inspires me, and gives me the peace and quiet to develop ideas. Alex doesn’t like to lose sight of me, and he’s good at coming back when called. This means most of his exercise in the forest is done off the leash. He can charge around or not, as the fancy takes him. When he gets tired, he heads for the pool at the hub of all our woodland walks.  If the jingle of his ID tag goes quiet, I know where to find him!

What funny little ways does your pet have?

There’s a signed book from my backlist for a comment picked at random on Thursday, 22nd September.

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.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Holly Jacobs: Books are like Children

Today is the release day for Hold Her Heart.  It's the sequel to my award winning Carry Her Heart.  And I'll confess, I'm first-day-of-school excited. There's a big similarity to having kids and writing books.

Now, if you're a parent, you'll understand first-day-of-school excited.  I have four kids and I love and adore those kids.  But they are not quiet.  Even as they've gotten older, they're still not quiet.  And I'm a writer who writes best in quiet.  I know some people enjoy music or noisy coffee houses while they write.  But I just don't work that way.  I like silence.  My favorite place in the world to write is out at camp.  I love having no sounds other than the birds.  So you can imagine my love of the first day of school.  I'm like this:

It's a mixture of happiness for me, but also there's an element of excitement for my kids because I was that nerd kid who loved going back to school and I always wanted my kids to feel that same excitement.  I loved the sound a brand new text book makes the first time it opens.  It's a creak of the binding that says you are going to learn so much in me.  I loved the way the school smells.  I loved...  I really enjoyed school! LOL

But how is a new release like having a kid? you ask.

Here's the much as I felt that Staple's Dad's glee on the first day of school, and as much as I remembered my own love of school, there was still a bit of worry over my kids.  I wanted to get a teacher who not only taught, but inspired a love of a subject in my kids.  I wanted them to see old friends, but also make new ones.  I wanted them to be happily received on that first day...and the other 179 days of their school year.  I love my kids so much and I wanted everyone else to feel that love and joy in them.

That's how I feel about having a new book come out.  Like I said, today it's Hold Her Heart.  In Carry Her Heart, I introduced Pip...a woman who gave up a daughter and then built a life around her.  In the These Three Words, you caught a glimpse of Pip's daughter and knew there was more to Pip's story.  Hold Her Heart is that more.  What happens when that mother and daughter meet after a lifetime apart?  More importantly, it forces the characters to ask, What does home look like?

I'll confess, I cried every time I read the opening scene.  And I know it was absurd.  I was writing/wrote the book.  I know there's a happily-ever-after at the end.  Still I cried...I cry.

As I send the book out in the world, I'm hoping that everyone who picks it up feels as strongly as I do about it.  I hope it makes them laugh...and cry.  And if you think about it, that's exactly what kids do...make you laugh and cry, and make you fall in love all over again on a daily basis!

Happy Reading!


Monday, September 12, 2016

Ode To Autumn with Kate Walker

Oh – as soon as I write this title, I realised that because I’m writing this for the Tote Bags Blog, I should have written  Ode to Fall. . .!   

But perhaps not. After all Keats, who wrote the poem entitled it Ode To Autumn and  that’s the way it’s remembered.

Anyway, it’s a poem that starts like this:

Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run;
To bend with apples the moss'd cottage-trees,
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease,
For Summer has o'er-brimm'd their clammy cells.

I’ve always loved the beginning of the autumnal. The one where the country seems ripe and full of harvests , fruit, nuts etc. In my own garden there are apple trees filling up with fruit, pear trees that my husband planted a couple of years ago, starting to show  the growth of real pears -  unlike the small, tart little ‘fruits’ that were uneatable  in last year’s crop.  And we are lucky enough to have real bumble bees who have survived the  diseases that have attacked   these lovely insects recently and
are buzzing around collecting nectar and zooming in and out of the honeysuckle and the lavender plants. Ruby, my little black and white female cat has tried to catch some of them as they buzz by. Thankfully she’s never managed to trap one and run the risk of getting stung, but she performs wonderful dances on the lawn as she tries to leap to catch them in flight.

Ruby also loves the crab apple tree.  She likes to climb up it  as high as she can possibly go and then she sits right on the
top branch and watches the world go by underneath her. Sometimes Charlie goes up there too and as he’s much much bigger than Ruby   he usually sends the beautiful red crab apples flying so they come tumbling down on to the grass and we can rake them all into a brilliantly coloured bundle on one flower bed ready to be picked up and made into crab apple jelly . . .when I just finish this book!

That’s the other thing  about Autumn – it’s perfect story-telling time. Well, it seems that way to me.  On the TV networks the programmers bring out all the new  and fabulous dramas to entertain us as the evenings draw in and we settle down to watch – Poldark 2 or Victoria – or Cold Feet  (the return).  That’s here in the UK anyway. There are other new productions planned  and I’m looking forward to see them appear. In the meantime, there  lots of inspiration to be found in Aidan Turner as Poldark and Rufus Sewell as Lord Melbourne and Tom Hughes as Prince Albert in Victoria.  (A romance novelist always has to do her research! It’s a difficult job but I do work hard at it!)

So it seems that autumn is just the right season for me to have my latest novel published. Indebted to Moreno is out on September 20th in Harlequin Presents and already I’m getting some lovely reviews for my dark, vengeful Spaniard and his convenient fiancĂ©e heroine Rose.

Here’s one from  Arpita on the Mills and Boon web site:

Kate Walker has used succinct repartee, wit , sparring dialogue, engrossing and engaging plot to
keep the readers guessing what will happen next? It is truly an exceptional, brilliant page turner for those who love fantasy world to the nth degree. Go for it! A must buy for all! Unmissable!

Thank you so much Arpita!

Another  autumnal delight is the fact that I’m just putting the ending on my latest story ready to send it to my editor before the end of this month. I can’t wait to see what she thinks of  the ‘Corsican Bandit’ Raoul  and his Irish heroine Imogen. I hope she loves them as much as I do.

And as soon as  the Corsican Bandit book has gone, I have a brand-new project to begin on. Because Imogen’s book is Part One of a duet of two linked books – next up is her sister Ciara’s story. I can’t wait to get down to serious work on that as I’ve got to know both her and her prospective hero Adnan as I’ve been writing Imogen’s story.

So, with the TV dramas to inspire me and the glorious autumn gathering in, I’m hoping for a really fruitful period of my own over the coming months.

As I said, Indebted to Moreno is out at the end of September (the 20th onwards). I can't decide which of the two covers I like best so I'm including them  both for you to choose. 

I recently updated my web site  so there are all the details of this new title  there   and the even more up to date news can be found on my blog. 

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Carole Mortimer: A Strange Summer

Hi Everyone,

Summer 2016 has been a very strange one for me, filled with personal sadness and professional happiness.

On a personal note I lost a very dear friend, after a long fight against illness. I spent many hours with him at the end of his life, and consider it a privilege to have done so. He was godfather to our youngest son, and an honorary grandfather to all six of our sons, and we will all miss him very much.
On the professional side of life the ebook published August 30th, Captured by a Gentleman (Regency Unlaced 6) hit #1 Gothic on Kindle. Thank you all so much! 

One of my editors told me long ago that she believed I worked better under pressure. To prove her right, despite the personal sadness of the summer, I have just finished and uploaded the finished copy of Challenging Gabriel (Knight Security 2) to all ebook retail sites. This is the third story in my Knight Security contemporary romance series. It is available for pre-order on all ebook retail sites, and will be released on September 23rd.

I’m currently writing Pleasured by a Duke (Regency Unlaced 7). You met Sebastian Falkner in Captured by a Gentleman (Regency Unlaced 6) and many of you have already asked me for Sebastian’s story—including my editor, who fell in love with him in book 6. This ebook will be released on October 28th. The pre-order for Pleasured by a Duke hit #1 Regency and #1 Gothic Top100 on Amazon during its first week on pre-order. That is incredible! Once again, thank you all so much for loving reading this Regency series as much as I love writing it.

Having successfully settled our youngest son into university last week, tomorrow my husband and I are going on a much-needed holiday. When we intend doing very little except eat, drink, and sleep – and not necessarily in that order!  

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

Buy links for Captured by a Gentleman (Regency Unlaced 6)

Pre-order links for Challenging Gabriel (Knight Security 2)
Pre-order links for Pleasured by a Duke (Regency Unlaced 7)

Carole Mortimer has written over 215 books in the contemporary and Regency genres.
Carole is Recipient of the 2015 Romance Writers of America Lifetime Achievement Award, a USA Today Bestselling Author, Entertainment Weekly Top 10 Romance Author, 2014 Romantic Times Pioneer of Romance, and in 2012 was recognized by Queen Elizabeth II for her ‘outstanding service to literature’.

She is very happily married to Peter, they have 6 sons, and live on the beautiful Isle of Man.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Anne McAllister: The Lost Summer

The author as essayist. Not.
What I did on my summer vacation . . .

What vacation?  We moved!

Yes, I know, people move all the time. We live in a mobile society.  And I'm not averse to that. I like to move around, go places, travel.  But for the last forty-plus years, while I did my share of moving around, going places and traveling, I always came back home to the same house.

And now . .  .not.

I knew for over a year that we were going to up sticks and head out to Montana full-time. But when you know something that long, it never seems quite real. I mean, when do you start packing for a move that's light years away?

Not soon enough. I have learned that much.  And after those forty-plus years in the same house, we had accumulated a lot of stuff.  It just built up, like sedimentary rock, and about as movable.

The living room in May; we moved in July
There were stalagmites in the attic of stuff kids did in elementary school and junior high and high school and college that came home and never somehow went away. There were the boxes that came to me when my grandfather died and when my grandmother on the other side of the family passed away.  Then my mother-in-law died leaving us with three sets of china, two sets of silverware, a bookshelf of diaries (bless her) and 97 years worth of paintings that we needed to deal with (moral of the story: if you marry the son of an artist, be prepared to have a lot of canvases and, even heavier, Masonite, to move).
My mother (and bless her, too) lived a spare and uncluttered life. Her china went to our daughter, she only left one set of silverware and one painting.  We should all be so thoughtful.

The new view -- disracting enough
We aren't. We won't be to our children, and we haven't been to ourselves because we had books. Hundreds of books, thousands of books, millions and billions and trillions of books (to misquote Wanda Gag's Millions of Cats -- of which we had three copies). So we packed books, and then we gave away books to every person and institution we could think of, and then we packed more books.

I wonder what people move who don't move books.

The draw of our new home was the bookshelves.  There were lots of them. There weren't enough. We had to buy two seven foot tall shelves.  There are still some books looking for homes.

The view when it gets even more distracting

But we are moved.  And now it is nearly midway through September, and I barely remember August at all, except for our daughter visiting from Texas to see the new digs (and unpack books while she was here).

My own almost finished book, neglected all summer long, has emerged from hibernation and is slowly and sluggishly moving toward its conclusion (fortunately the action on the page is faster than the author typing it).

And hard as it was, long as it was, fraught as it was -- not to mention, hot as it was (never move from Iowa in July; you will regret it)  -- we are so glad to be here.

I'm hoping that autumn in Montana won't be lost at all.  But it might be unless I finish my book!

1) © By dotmatchbox at flickr [CC BY-SA 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons.
2) © own photo, 2016
3) © own photo, 2016
4) © own photo, 2016