Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Another Hot Italian Night - Bound to the Italian Boss by Annie West of me smiling in Australia. I've just arrived home from a big trip to Europe (look out if you subscribe to my newsletter as I'm sure to be sharing pics there). Plus 1 June marks the release of my latest HOT ITALIAN NIGHTS novella. What do you think? I'm so pleased with the cover of BOUND TO THE ITALIAN BOSS, as well as the story too!

What the boss wants the boss gets.

Luca De Laurentis is focused on two things, adventure and expanding his billion-dollar hotel empire. He never expects those interests to collide, until the day he sees his prim and proper assistant transform into a leather-clad beauty with a taste for excitement.

Allegra Davis is determined never to be judged on her appearance again. Hence her frumpy work clothes and her move to Italy. Just her luck that the one person to recognise her in motorcycle leathers is her boss, the man she’s had a crush on for a year! Now Luca is watching her with heat in his eyes and his every touch promises pleasure. What happens when their relationship moves out of the boardroom and into the bedroom?

This story was inspired by a driving trip I took a couple of years ago to the Alps, driving from Austria over mountain passes down into the spectacular Dolomite Region of northern Italy. But despite the snow on the mountain peaks, there's definite sizzle between Allegra and Luca in this boss/PA romance. Think simmering tension, powerful attraction and hot passion.

BOUND TO THE ITALIAN BOSS is the 3rd in this series of enovellas. The first two stories are BACK IN THE ITALIAN'S BED then BOUGHT BY THE ITALIAN. Each can be read as a completely stand alone story but you'll see some familiar characters if you read the series. Next up is THE ITALIAN'S BOLD RECKONING in July, just in time for some summer vacation reading, or if, like me, you live 'down under' for fireside reading.

If you want to find out more about the series, drop by my website. To buy BOUND TO THE ITALIAN BOSS, try these links. You can order it now for delivery on its release date of 1 June.

As you read this I'll be suffering from jetlag after the long trip from Europe to Australia. Have you got any tips on helping me readjust to my own timeframe? Failing that, suggestions on anything that might distract me from lack of sleep would be welcome!

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Slowly Turning Into A Planner Fan(atic)

by Michelle Monkou
My 2017 Planner

I've always jumped on a planner bandwagon from the time that Franklin Planners were the big trend. The computer programmers soon developed calendars with similar bells and whistles along with the phone technology. Every wave tries to outdo the previous wave.

And for the last few years, the physical planners have been back in vogue. I understand that the planners have never left earth, but the percentage of use is up. If you perform a hashtag search on social media, the wide breath of planner enthusiasts is monumental with brick and mortar stores, digital stores, conventions, and planning circles feeding the frenzy.

My tendency always has been to jump in like a high-intensity cheerleader with good intentions. But a month or two later, that planner gets buried under clothes or other books never to be used again. All the to do lists, the appointments, the travel plans, the goals stay in my head to rattle around with the other gazillion thoughts.

What takes you from the amateur planner to the highly functioning planner-- Goals and Desperation.

My Weekly Planner
I've always had goals. I've always wanted to achieve something, gain something, earn or win something. So the lack of goals was never a problem. But this time, this year, I had goals AND a timeline. And that timeline had milestone marks that had to show movement in the right direction.

Next step is goals AND a timeline AND desperation. Desperation isn't a do or die mindset. I use the word as my own form of giving a kick in the pants to stay hungry, stay focused, stay consistent. Most times the reason that I'm no longer using a planner is that I've removed myself from the game or I've decided/convinced myself that the game isn't for me or unattainable.

But what I do know for sure is that those who are successful (and you can have your own model for success) have not become so through random acts. They may not be obsessive about planning and getting results in a timely manner, but they aren't inconsistent about work ethic and about fighting through the ups and downs. There is a plan, a method, a strategy that is built by them to attain a goal or two.

My Writing Journals
And I know what doesn't work. I know it has failure written all over it. Why? My way hasn't worked. For several years it hasn't worked. So why continue on the same track doing the same thing, but expecting different or better results. Isn't that the definition of stupid?

This year, I've got my planning tools. And I'm using them. Two months I slipped off and the old habits almost did me in. But when you're surrounded by planner enthusiasts, they will help get you back on track.

I'm moving forward and that's what matters at this point.



Saturday, May 27, 2017

My Shopping Victories and Vices

by Joanne Rock

Have you checked out my new series?
Looking back over your shopping history, I’ll bet you can make a list of top purchases you’re proud of. Think about the times where you bargained for a great deal, used a coupon on top of a Black Friday discount, or walked out of the flea market with a brand new set of dishes for just a few dollars. There is a special joy in choosing well and knowing you spent your cash wisely.

But, my friends, there are other kinds of shopping joys that I sometimes revel in, and they often fall on the opposite end of the spectrum from “spending wisely.” Meet my shopping vices—splurges, impulse buys, gift sets, and pretty packaging. Sometimes, when I’m at my most wicked, I meet all four criteria with a single, beautiful purchase—a makeup brush set from a designer brand, for example, boxed with bonuses and packaged in pinks and bows. (Forget sleek, high-end packaging in steely grays and black. I like splashy pinks and metallic).

I live near an Ulta store, and this is a problem for me. I choose my moments carefully before I enter.
See that cute perfume in the upper right hand corner?
Twice a year, maybe, unless I’m buying a gift for someone else. Because I know myself, and I can only feel okay with the big, splurge purchases a couple of times a year. My local spa had a sale on sunscreen recently, and I drove halfway across town to scoop up the set because it came with a pink cooler and a beach towel, among a few other fun swag items. Who can resist?

In the past, I’ve been occasionally bothered by moments of guilt once I get home. After the shopping glow has faded, I might ask myself—Joanne, did you really need that perfume set with seven new fragrances? Of course not. No one needs all those adorable atomizers. I did it because it was fun and made me smile. Lately, I’ve discovered the guilt goes right away when I take these shopping joys and turn them into reader prizes. Because maybe I didn’t deserve a new nail polish set today, but you, dear reader, always do!

A past reader prize...
Notepads are another weakness of mine.
So welcome to my new shopping joy—not a vice at all—and that’s sharing my impulse purchases and splurges with you. I include some of the swag in prizes on my webpage, but most of it goes into my Flash Giveaways on my author Facebook page. There, I add a cute perfume to a stack of books and throw in some makeup brushes. I have a ton of fun creating prize packs that are color coordinated and readers get to enjoy them as much as me.
Once again, books save me… writing is my life calling. Readers reward me ten times over for following that calling. And now? They alleviate my guilt at a vice I can’t shake 😉. You all are the best.

***Please say I’m not the only one! What’s your guilty pleasure at the mall? Are you wooed by the Clearance Rack? Is Sam’s Club your Achilles heel? Share with me today your shopping triumphs and vices! I'll send one random poster a copy of one of my McNeill Magnates stories from Harlequin Desire... reader's choice! I'm flying today, but I'll be on the boards Sunday and will choose a winner mid-week. 

Friday, May 26, 2017

Eve Gaddy: The Cowboy And The Doctor

The latest book in my Gallaghers of Montana series came out about a week ago. This book is about the fourth brother, Dylan, the only one who isn’t a doctor. Dylan is a cowboy through and through. The cover is one of my favorite covers ever. It fits the book perfectly.

Dylan Gallagher loves playing the field. The only serious relationship he's ever had was with his horses and his ranch, and he had no intention of ever changing that... Until he met Dr. Samantha Striker, a challenge too tempting to resist. 

Samantha Striker doesn't fall easily, not even for Dylan and his heart-melting charm. But she can't deny that the more time they spend together, the steamier their relationship becomes. Soon, she finds that their relationship is more than just simple desire. 

When Samantha is threatened by a series of incidents, each one more terrifying than the last, she realizes that someone doesn't want her to be happy–with Dylan or anyone else. Can they find the man responsible before his actions turn from dangerous to deadly, and Dylan loses the women he's discovering he can't live without? 

Here’s a picture of my inspiration for Trouble, the Norwegian Fjord stallion who plays an important part in Dylan and Sam’s story. I fell in love with this horse’s mane.:)

And here’s a picture of Shadow, the dog Sam adopts and who also plays an important part in the story.

Visit me at my website:
Twitter: @evegaddy

Happy Reading!

Thursday, May 25, 2017

The Not-So Secret Life of Bees

Five years ago if you’d told me I was going to have tens of thousands of bees living in my backyard, I’d have laughed you out of town. And yet. . .here we are.

When my husband first started talking about keeping bees, I was pretty sure he'd lost a few marbles on his way home from work that day, but from the minute he set up the first hive, I was sold! Now, granted, I don't actually do much of the work, but I usually suit up and go out to help with hive checks, and every time I do I'm amazed at how it all works.

As soon as a bee chews her way out of the cell and joins the hive, she's put to work. The hive, much like a house, always needs to be cleaned, and that includes dusting out the cells so that they can be filled with honey or so that the queen can refill them with new eggs in them. It also includes disposing of the dead, which they do by simply carrying them out the door, and dropping them outside.

Nurse bees tend to the brood and guard bees do just that - guard the hive and let the rest of the bees know if danger is near. Some of the bees work on building up the honeycomb while other bees are in charge of capping each cell to protect the contents. 

The cells on the left, capped with the creamy white wax, are filled with honey, and the the cells on the right, capped in brown are new brood - and the queen can lay about 1500 eggs a day so there's a lot of capping going on! 

And, of course, while all this is going on, there's other bees who are repairing the hive and foraging for pollen, water and propolis (basically bee glue) which they bring back to the hive. The only job the drones (male bees) have is to mate with the queen. They serve no other purpose, they are incapable of feeding themselves, they don't have stingers, and once they've mated, they die, so it kinda sucks to be a drone. 

With all the work these teeny little creatures do, I almost feel bad about harvesting some of their honey, but if you've ever tasted fresh honey right out of the hive, you know how good it is, so sure, I feel bad, but every time I drop a spoonful of it in my tea, or spread it on toast, I forget all about being sorry. :)   

If you ever get a chance to visit someone with hives, I'd highly recommend checking it out. And if you're looking to brighten up your garden this summer, the bees would love it if you gave them some pretty new flowers to pollinate. Check out this link for some great ideas!  :)

USA Today bestselling author Laura Drewry writes fun and sexy contemporary romances filled with heartfelt emotion and characters readers can relate to. When she’s not writing, she likes reading, watching Marvel movies with her boys, Pinning recipes she'll never make, and cheering for the Yankees. Laura lives in southwest British Columbia with her husband, three sons, two dogs, a handful of chicken and about 30,000 bees.


CATCH AND RELEASE - Fishing for Trouble Book 3

The irresistible O’Donnell brothers return in a charming novel from the bestselling author of Off the Hook (“The perfect balance of sweet, sexy, and wonderfully romantic.”—Lauren Layne).

Hope Seaver is an up-and-coming TV producer tackling the hardest gig of her career: a reality show set at the Buoys, a scenic fishing destination owned by three handsome, stubborn brothers. Liam and Finn O’Donnell are willing to tolerate her crew for the sake of the business, but Ronan would rather chew off a limb than open up on camera. Somehow Hope has to convince him of her good intentions—and stop herself from swooning every time Ronan walks into the frame.

Ronan knows that he’s the reason his brothers gave up their old lives to run the Buoys, and he needs to make it worth their while. So if this out-of-towner with the kind eyes and dazzling smile wants to give them the free publicity they desperately need, Ronan can’t say no. He just won’t let himself get burned again by a double-dealing woman. But what if Hope’s good-girl routine isn’t an act? When Ronan lets his guard down long enough to catch a glimpse of the real Hope, he likes what he sees—enough to give love another shot.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Nobody Trusts a Warriner...

I am almost beside myself with excitement because I have finally written my first series. Well almost.
I’m still writing book four, but the rest are done and will soon all be released into the wild- which is apt because they are called The Wild Warriners. Four sinfully handsome, down-on-their-luck brothers ostracised from society thanks to the antics of their troublesome ancestors.

The first in the quartet- A Warriner to Protect Her- came out a few weeks ago and is doing really well. The reviewers seem to like it (thank goodness!) and there has already been a bit of a buzz about book two, A Warriner to Rescue Her, which doesn’t come out till July. I suppose I could waffle on about what it’s about and what my inspiration was, but instead I thought I’d share with you a little taster…

Jack strode on to the landing, only to be confronted by the sight of Letty looking deliciously sleep rumpled at her door. She had only opened the door enough to poke her head around, but Jack saw the tantalising glimpse of a female leg where it poked beneath the hem of yet another one of his shirts and the sight irritated him. The blasted woman was handy with a needle. She had started embroidering little patterns on everything from napkins to pillowcases. Weeks ago, she had begun making a dress—which was still not finished—so why could she not fashion herself a proper nightdress? One that came to the floor and covered all of her soft, silken skin. And while she was about it, she should probably plait the wild, golden riot of curls that hung past her shoulders and tempted him to touch. An ugly nightcap would not go amiss either.
‘What’s happening?’ she asked.
‘There’s a storm. We need to round up the animals. Go back to bed Letty. You’re in no danger.’
‘I can help.’
Jack was in no mood to be tactful. ‘No, you can’t. Go back to bed.’

The storm would take his mind off her; he didn’t need the additional burden of an heiress faffing about and getting in his way when he had a serious job to do. He saw her fine eyes narrow just before she slammed the door shut and he turned away, striding briskly to the stairs. It was just as well. If she had argued with him, he would have bitten back twice as hard. Lack of sleep always brought his temper close to the surface and, as Letty was responsible for the deficiency, he doubted any confrontation would end well tonight. Not after their splendid chat in the barn earlier, when she had thanked him for being so sensible about not pursuing their mutual attraction, then blithely gone about her day as if the words he had wrenched out of his gut and choked hollowly out of his mouth had not sounded the death knell on all his secret hopes of a miracle.

She might have argued then, as she was prone to when she heartily disagreed with something, and perhaps given some credence to the idea that their two worlds could merge if they both wanted them to. But of course she hadn’t. Only a tiny part of him had expected her to—a part which he hadn’t even realised existed until he had categorically listed for her all the reasons why there was nothing except lust between them. Even as he said the words he knew them to be false. What he felt for Letty was more than just desire. He genuinely admired her tenacity and her sunny disposition. Her indomitable spirit. The woman never let anything beat her, whether that be kidnappers or roasted chickens. And since the very first moment he had found her frozen and terrified in the road, a part of his jaded, wary, Warriner heart would always be hers. Yearned to be hers. Maybe those rash feelings were due to his customary and ever-present sense of responsibility—but if that was entirely the case, why, when he had held her chilled body in his arms that night, had her presence in them felt so very…right?

If only she had been a random, ordinary girl of no consequence instead of The Tea Heiress. Then maybe he would have stood a chance and taken a gamble. It didn’t help knowing, thanks to hours of rifling through Jacob’s collection of newspapers when nobody was looking, that when the newsmen wrote the words Tea Heiress they were always put in italics, as if she were so special, so above everyone else, that only a select few in society were on a par with her. Now he knew her, he realised they were right. Letty was an incomparable…and so very far out of his reach as to be laughable.

Unfortunately, that same tiny part of him which had held out for the miracle earlier was now disproportionately grieving the inevitable loss of her in his life, even though he never really stood a chance of her remaining in it. He had also read about her life in those same newspapers and it was a life he could never hope to give her. The finest clothes, balls, jewels and a prominent and revered place in society. The moment Jack had reminded her of her wealthy Duke, she’d nodded and smiled and immediately switched her thoughts to getting home to Mayfair. Which had been his intention. Because any hope of a future between them was ridiculous. Wasn’t it? So he should be happy he had been the sensible one.

But he wasn’t.

‘We need all the ropes we can carry.’ His three brothers were assembled in the kitchen, the lanterns already lit. ‘The river has burst its banks. If one of us has to venture into it, then we’ll be tethered to something first. If we drive the sheep to the west pasture, they will be safe. Jamie—check on the horses, then the cows. See that none of them have injured themselves.’
His brother’s face clouded with barely suppressed fury. ‘I am not a blasted invalid, Jack. I’ll help you three with the sheep first. The horses and damned cows can wait!’
‘I’ll see to the horses and cows.’ Jack spun around to see Letty marching towards him in a greatcoat that swamped her and wearing an expression of complete and total defiance. Jamie nodded and handed her a lantern, clearly delighted not to be relegated to lighter duties because of his injuries.

‘Go back to bed, Letty! It’s dangerous out there.’ And Jack could already feel the beginnings of a knot of worry at the thought of her out in that storm. The last time she had been exposed to bad weather she had almost died. ‘This is no place for a woman like you.’

She marched fearlessly in front of him and stuck out her chin, not the slightest bit intimidated by the angry way he loomed over her. ‘I am not some silly, spoiled, empty-headed fool.’ Her finger prodded him firmly in the chest. ‘And whilst your brothers might well listen to your orders, you are not my master Jack Warriner. Or my husband. And you never will be. So don’t expect me to obey you. I am helping. Deal with it.’ She spun on her heel and stomped stubbornly towards the back door. Without a backward glance, she flung it open and flounced into the raging tempest...

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Famous in a Small Town by Kristina Knight

Home is where the heart is. I’ve seen about a million samplers, pillows, cross-stitch pieces, coffee mugs, mousepads…you name it, I’ve probably seen that phrase on it. I’ve always loved that phrase, but not because it brings up memories of the house where I grew up.

Because it brings up memories of my best friend and I cruising around our small town on Friday nights, just looking for something to do.

Because it brings up memories of a road trip taken with some college buddies, in which we got turned around and wound up in Arkansas instead of Oklahoma.

Because it brings up memories of singing Ricky Martin waaaaaaaaaaay off-key (and into the two-way radio unit) with my best friend while we were reporters at a small TV station in Nebraska.

Because it reminds me of RadioMan, and the cottage cheese a friend put in our wine glasses at our wedding (it’s an inside joke).

Of the first time we saw bebe – all tiny and wrinkled and smelling like a hospital and needing a bath.

Home can be a million different things to a million different people, but I think what it holds in common for all of us is a feeling of safety. Of belonging.

For the first seven years of her life, my heroine, Savannah, from Famous in a Small Town, didn’t have those feelings. It took most of her childhood and quite a bit of her new-adult-hood to get to the place where she felt worthy of both of those feelings. The struggles she faced are similar to the struggles faced by foster children all around the world, those adopted by families, and those who age out of the system. In many cases, they are so wounded by what happened before coming home, that they always wonder when home will be ripped away from them.

We’re (as in, me and my family) are doing something special with this release - a portion of the proceeds from the Slippery Rock series will go toward providing Sweet Cases from TogetherWeRise to foster children. Most children going in to foster care have nothing but the clothes on their backs. Sweet Cases are duffel bags given to children coming in to care, and once given, the bags remain with that child, giving them a sense of home and, hopefully, a sense that they aren't alone. Each duffel includes a warm blanket, a teddy bear, hygiene kit, and art supplies.

I’m also hosting a giveaway with lots of fun goodies, including some Mary Kay products, a Philosophy pouch, an autographed copy of my book, First Love Again, and more! You can enter here.

Kristina Knight's latest book, Famous in a Small Town, releases May 1 from Harlequin Superromance; it is the first book in her new Slippery Rock series. 

Lifestyles of the small-town famous 
Forced to leave Nashville after a scandal, Savannah Walters has come home to Slippery Rock, Missouri, with a bruised ego and her singing career in jeopardy. As if that isn't humiliating enough, on her way into town she's rescued by her swoon-worthy childhood crush, Collin Tyler. 

His hands are full running the family orchard and dealing with his delinquent teen sister, so Collin doesn't need to get involved with someone as fiery and unpredictable as Savannah. But the intense attraction between them can't be denied. And when disaster strikes, they'll both be surprised by who's still standing when the dust settles.

Buy Famous in a Small Town: Amazon  B&N

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

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Lara Temple: Dreaming up books …Or how realizing my dream squished my daydreams

Last spring my first book was published by Harlequin Mills&Boon. This month my third book, The Duke’s Unexpected Bride, has hit the shelves and I still can’t quite believe it. Becoming a published writer has changed my life in quite a few ways, mostly for the better.

First off, I’ve cut back (drastically) on my other career and now spend an obscene number of hours at the kitchen table, writing. I have a work study but in my mind that is associated with my other job and doesn’t do much for my creative juices. My kitchen overlooks the garden and the fruit trees and the green and quiet are perfect for writing.

Then there’s the internal/external image change. When people ask me what I do, I no longer tell them about my ‘other’ job. I actually say – I write books. Would you hazard a guess if that evokes a different response than ‘business consultant’? Whether the response is positive or negative (yes, there are those, of course), it’s never neutral.

But those are just surface changes. The real changes are internal. I’ve had a few careers in my life but only one vocation – I’ve always known I love writing stories, but I never really believed I would be published or do it for a living (the latter part is still pending – writing, like many creative professions, is financially challenging).

There is always a danger in dreams coming true - they lose the shiny haze of the Potential and take on the hard, elbow grease glaze of the Actual. Writing is just like any profession – it is very hard work, a chunk of which has nothing to do with the creative process. The joys of creation far outweigh the slog, but it is a constant balancing act. Even once you are published you can obviously still fail at any point. Now the stakes are higher than they ever were – if the dream is no longer a potential but an actual, failure would be actual too.

But being a business consultant, I was at least prepared for that part of The Change. What I wasn’t prepared for was a completely different loss – my daydreams.

Until I became a published author a large part of my creative process was daydreaming dreaming. Some people need to read a book before they go to sleep, I needed to write one – or at least imagine one.

Sometimes when I was stuck on a hard project at work I would take a few minutes, make a cup of tea, and daydream away. My mind would slip into an alternate world and all my worries and woes and tensions would melt and fade and so would I. Every night I could sail off in the arms of another of my wonderful heroes into a new adventure, commitment free.

Here is a quote on dreams from the English Patient I knew was ‘written about me’ when I read it: “Moments before sleep are when she feels most alive, leaping across fragments of the day, bringing each moment into the bed with her like a child with schoolbooks and pencils. The day seems to have no order until these times, which are like a ledger for her, her body full of stories and situations.”

But now everything is different – every ounce of my creative juice is conserved for my writing. I don’t intend it to be that way, but I am living and breathing my novels and the moment I close my eyes I am deep in them, tangling with tales, wrestling with plot twists, and milking every second of creative time to refine and deepen my writing. There is a different kind of beauty in these moments – the characters in my novels become dear to me, or frustrating, but always important, and I can’t treat them casually like I used to once indulge in my day-dreams. I miss my no-strings-attached daydreams but accept that they will never be quite the same again.
Maybe it is part of growing up as an author – our dreams mutate with us.

So I will end on another quote, this time from Neil Gaiman: “A book is a dream that you hold in your hands”. I’m holding three dreams in my hands now, all mine, and my head is filled with many more, simmering on the boil and waiting their turn with varying degrees of impatience. So even if my daydreams have been overtaken, it is a small price to pay for living my dream. 

Excerpt from The Duke’s Unexpected Bride (May 2017)

'May I have my sketch back, please?’ Sophie asked.
Something in Max’s dark grey eyes as they moved over her face increased her already significant discomfort. Then his mouth relaxed, bringing to the surface the amused warmth she had glimpsed before.
'Would you consider giving it to Hetty?’ he asked. ‘I think she would love to have it. She is not my wife, by the way, but my sister, hence the resemblance.'
Sophie’s face heated with a sudden burning blush.
'Oh dear, I’m so sorry. I always say more than I ought. Of course you may give it to her. Here.'
She held it out to him, wishing the blush would fade.
He reached for it just as Marmaduke awoke with a snort and she started and the sketch slipped from her grasp. The pug, his eye catching the fluttering page, readied himself to leap but she managed to capture it just as he grabbed for it as well. His hand closed half on the page, half on her bare hand and she drew back, shocked by the heat of his touch. It had only been a second but her skin retained the imprint of his fingers and her body tingled as if it had been dipped in hot water.

Book Buy Links:

Author Contact Links
Twitter: @laratemple1
Amazon author page:

Friday, May 19, 2017

Jenny Gardiner: Royal Romeos, Heat wave and Paris!

Hi there!
Hope you are all well and not too miserably hot from this ridiculous premature heat wave we're having! It's 100 degrees here in Virginia in May--unheard of! Ugh!

We're staying cool inside with my girls' new puppies! They're moving next week so it's a temporary thing but it's been a bit of mayhem with these two---our house is puppy-proofed as if we had a bunch of toddlers under our roof. We've had some sleepless nights watching one of the pups as my daughter is studying for MCATs, which she takes tomorrow. Her pup had a UTI which meant she was waking constantly to pee. Hoping her antibiotic is fixing that now!

We just returned a few weeks ago from a lovely 30th anniversary trip with my husband to Paris. It was such fun—what a fabulous city. And amazingly amazing food. Alas, I am carrying about 15 food babies around still. We ate soufflĂ©s out the wazoo! I didn’t think it could ever be possible, but there is the chance that I might officially be soufflĂ©d out… Although it’s unlikely, because my one daughter and I love to make chocolate soufflĂ©s so I have a sneaking suspicion I still might not turn that down if push came to shove…The good news is we walked so much while in Paris that maybe I didn’t gain a pound on the trip (probably more like I gained 15, womp). Not that I’d know because the scale has been banished from my life… Perhaps not a good thing, but oh well!

I’ve now got to really get cracking on Blue-Blooded Romeo, which I have to have to my editor in early June. Gulp. And get ready for the release of SilverSpoon Romeo , which comes out June 13! I had a lot of fun writing that one.

I hope you'll have a chance to check out my Royal Romeos series, which is a spin-off of my wildly popular It's Reigning Men series--I hope you'll be able to check them out!

Happy reading!



Thursday, May 18, 2017

Dealing With A Real Life Issue In A Fictional World

Have you ever come up with an idea, moved forward with it—then have it morph into something completely different? I mean, so different, it doesn't even look like what you started with.

Yeah? Me, too. Welcome to my crazy world of writing.

I'm what's known as a pantser: an idea will pop into my head, I'll mull it over a bit, then start writing and see what happens. Do I have a general idea of what's going to happen? Sometimes, in the vaguest sense around. But I don't "plot", not in the way people think of "plotting". It doesn't work for me.

Usually the story will unfold in my mind as I write, taking on a life of its own. And yes, it's usually guided by the characters. Future scenes become a little clearer as the story progresses and I'll make a note or two as I go along. Sometimes there's a scene or two I want to have happen, or some important tidbit I need to include in the story, and I'll note that before I get to it.

It's my process, and it works well for me. I may not have a concrete road plan, but I always have a general idea of where the story is going.

Well, maybe not always.

That's kind of what happened with FACE OFF, The Baltimore Banners #10, which released May 9.

I knew who the main characters were and I knew what the story was about. I knew where I wanted the story to go—in that vague sense I always have when I start a story.

And then my characters revolted. I mean, big time revolted. Yes, it was still going to be a friends-to-lovers story, a tale of best friends discovering that there was so much more to their relationship.

Only it didn't turn out to be quite that simple.

About a quarter of the way in, my female lead character veered off in a direction I never saw coming. A direction I tried to fight because I wasn't sure how to handle it.

And I sure as hell had no idea how it would be taken.

Turns out, she was suffering from severe depression. MDD—Major Depressive Disorder—to be exact. It's estimated that 6.9% of the US population and 350 million people worldwide suffer from some form of depression.

I admit, it gave me pause. For more than solid week, I fought the direction she was leading me in. I didn’t want to deal with it, to the point of deleting and rewriting, fighting, and even thinking of scrapping the whole thing and starting over.

Then I had to ask myself: why? Why was I so set against following my characters' lead, when I never had that problem before?

It wasn't just the fear of readers' reactions. No, I think this one was a little closer to home.

I've had three episodes of what might be called severe depression: once, after being involved in a particularly bad accident; post-partum depression after my second child was born; and again, six or seven years ago. I was fortunate all three times because I had friends and family—a supportive husband—who noticed it, who stood by me. More importantly, they made sure I didn't fall deeper into that black hole of despair and helped me climb out of it.

So yeah. Maybe this one was a little too close to home. Once I realized that, I knew I had a choice to make: scrap the project completely, or let myself fall back into that hole—this time from the perspective of my heroine.

And I admit, it was a hard decision to make. I was afraid to revisit that, even though I think what my female lead was going through was much worse than what I experienced. It took quite a bit of mentally arguing with myself to sit back down and let my characters tell their story, but I did.

And I was scared to death at the end. Scared how readers would react. Scared that I didn't do the problem justice. Just…scared, period. Hitting submit on Face Off was probably one of the hardest things I had to do.

And hell, I'm still scared. So far, the reviews have been overwhelmingly positive. I've received many emails and messages thanking me for writing the story, all of them emotional, all of them striking an emotional chord deep inside me. One in particular makes me cry happy and sad tears just thinking about it.

And yet, the fear is still there. Maybe it's not really the fear of reactions, but more the fear of people dismissing the very real pain and trauma of depression and how it effects everyone, not just the person fighting it.

Things have changed in the last ten, twenty, thirty years. How we view depression, how we treat it, even our understanding of it. But there's still a stigma attached to it. There are still those who dismiss it as a weakness and who belittle those suffering from it.

Maybe that's what the real fear is.

And maybe, instead of being afraid, I should be angry. Angry at those who refuse to acknowledge its existence. Angry at those who continue to belittle it and dismiss it as a weakness.

Depression isn't a weakness. And it takes more courage, more fight and grit, to deal with it, to get a handle on it, to claw your way out of that dark pit of despair.

For those who are fighting the battle, stay strong. And know that you're not alone—we're here for you. I'm here for you.

And I understand.


Face Off, The Baltimore Banners Book 10, released on May 9. You can pick up a copy at your favorite vendor by clicking here.

Lisa B. Kamps is the author of the best-selling series The Baltimore Banners, featuring "hard-hitting, heart-melting hockey players" [USA Today], on and off the ice. Her Firehouse Fourteen series features hot and heroic firefighters who put more than their lives on the line. She's introduced a whole new team of hot hockey players who play hard and love even harder in her newest hockey series, The York Bombers.

To learn more about Lisa and her titles, please visit her webpage.