Thursday, September 28, 2017

The Rehabilitative Quality Of A Good Book

As a writer, some days I don't feel like writing. Now there are those normal, run-of-the-mill, short-term moments when the feeling lasts a day or two, but then I rebound and sit in front of the laptop and write.

On the other hand, there are the longer episodes when my brain isn't cooperating with the creative side to produce anything. It's not author's block, but more about feeling motivated. And authors who may suffer similar feelings completely get what I mean. There's no shortcut or easy solution, either. Everyone has to find her unique way to climb out of that hole.

Sometimes I fight through and use sheer determination to get to that necessary point. Lately, however, I've opted to give myself the space and time to figure it out. I'm not under deadlines so I can afford to slow down and take a breather.

And the best breather I know is to pick up a book and read.
Claire Norton at book club 

I'm a big reader. And this isn't about only reading when I feel blah about my writing. This sharing moment is about holding steady until achieving the creative balance. It's about taking a deep dive into book land and gorging on books. I tend to surround myself with books from most genres. And I especially make sure to include authors from various countries to enjoy the unique styles and flavors that come through due to the author's culture.

Now, filling my reservoir on books isn't about copying a particular author or copying a particular style. The joy in reading is about re-discovering the magical quality where a story sucks me right in and doesn't release me until well after the book is done. Allowing the imagination to roam and explore is a necessity like breathing. And I can only get that special rehabilitative quality through reading books.

So while I go through the process to get back in the saddle and write, I will enjoy every beautiful word, story, book that is in my e-reader TBR pile. As a dutiful reader, I will also leave reviews in Goodreads and on particular e-reader platforms.

I hope you have a book ready at your fingertips that will give you joy.

All the best,


Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Power of Story

With apologies to the wonders of modern transportation, I can’t help but think there is no faster way to take a long journey than four simple words—once upon a time.

There is magic in those words.  If you don’t believe it, try watching the opening to Disney’s Beauty and the Beast sometime, where a wonderful narrator’s voice sucks you in with a long ago legend told over the still pictures of a story book.  Whether or not our books begin with the classic words that begin a fairy tale, our brains still hear them as we sit down to open a book.  And by “we” I’m referring to romance readers, readers who believe in the transporting power of story and are eager to undertake that journey again and again through the pages of a book.  The magic of “once upon a time” is engrained, a mental portal we go through whenever we open a new book and that excitement for a story begins all over again.

Of course, maybe I’m a very susceptible reader.  I willingly suspend disbelief at the drop of a hat, always ready to take a new journey and see where a story leads.  Perhaps not all readers are as eager to see the world through pages as I am.

But even the most cynical of readers will undertake that magical story journey every now and then.  No matter that they fight the pull of “once upon a time,” sooner or later something will draw them in and lead them deep into a story.  For my oldest son recently, it was DaVinci Code.  For my youngest, it was Harry Potter.  You’ve got to hand it to J.K. Rowling.  Nothing captures a six-year-old’s attention like a giant driving out of the sky on a motorcycle.

Thanks to the power of story, I’ve been all around the world and through time to save the world, save the family farm, save numerous rocky marriages.  I’ve battled plagues, bad guys and vampires.  And of course, I’ve fallen for a few bad guys and vampires.  And sometimes literally, sometimes figuratively, it all started once upon a time.

**Do you remember the last book that almost gave you goosebumps as you read the opening pages? Or the last book you highly anticipated? Share with me today for a chance to win a download of LAST CHANCE CHRISTMAS! Don't miss my next book in the Road to Romance series, A CHANCE THIS CHRISTMAS, releasing October 5th.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

His Mistletoe Wager

His Mistletoe Wager is released worldwide on 1st October 2017
In the middle of the summer heatwave of 2016, and halfway through writing my Wild Warriners series, my editor at Harlequin Mills and Boon asked me if I would like to do a Christmas book for them. I happily jumped at the chance but because I was already a third into A Warriner to Tempt Her and there was no way I was going to be able to turn a smallpox epidemic into a festive tale, I decided to write a standalone story for my publisher instead.
Sort of.

I say sort of because it is also a bit of a sequel to my second book, Her Enemy at the Altar although like all my books, you don't have to have read one to enjoy the others.
Thanks to several lovely messages from readers and quite a few comments from reviewers, I knew that some people, including me, wanted to see the tormented Aaron Wincanton and shrew-like Constance Stuart again. Fortunately, I gave Connie a younger brother in that book and so it was his story I decided to write as the sun singed my lawn and I melted at my computer.
Hal (Henry) Stuart, the newly minted Earl of Redbridge and notorious rake is a little out of sorts. Something is not quite right in his life but he can’t put his finger on what. His scandalous life has suddenly become very boring now that he has a title, largely because hunting for women has got too easy.
On a quest to find his missing vigour, he accepts a bet from his brother-in-law Aaron that he cannot steal five kisses in five separate places before Twelfth Night. One kiss for each of the berries on the sprig pinned to his lapel. Hal assumes he has to kiss five separate women, but Aaron decrees that all the kisses must be stolen from just the one woman.
Sullen Lizzie.
A committed spinster with a hatred for rakes and, unbeknownst to both Hal and the whole of the Ton, a very dirty secret she has kept hidden for five long years.
At times, these two characters had me laughing out loud as I wrote them and despite forming a fast and unlikely friendship, I couldn’t get Lizzie to allow herself to fall for Hal. Throw in a couple of meddling relatives, a menacing butler and three adorable and tenacious children and the end result, His Mistletoe Wager, was huge fun to write.
But in the end, a wager is a wager and it’s Christmas. And at Christmas there is always mistletoe…
Virginia Heath writes raunchy Regency romantic comedies for Harlequin Mills & Boon but her dog Trevor mostly writes her Facebook posts.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Favorite Movie Couples

I am a sucker for a great movie couple – Joan Wilder and Jack T. Colton (Romancing the Stone), Vivien and Edward (Pretty Woman), and Jack and Rose (Titanic) are all on my list. I like couples that banter, couples that laugh together, couples that are hot for each other…even if they’d lost a little of that sparkle. Here are a few of my favorite movie couples.

Phil & Claire (Date Night). First, I have to say that I adore Steve Carell and Tina Fey, I have yet to find a movie starring either of them that I don’t love. Putting them together, and as a married couple, no less? That was the icing on this movie lover’s cake! Phil & Claire have lost the spark in their marriage, and it takes their friends’ impending divorce to make them see it. The problem is that their romantic date night in the city has gone haywire because they’ve been mistaken for a couple on the run from mobsters. It’s delicious watching the two of them working together to save themselves, to see those little moments of jealousy, and when they finally save the day (and their marriage) you just have to cheer!

Tess & Finn (Fool’s Gold). Another couple on the rocks! There seems to be a theme to my list!! I adore a good treasure hunt movie, and I adore the chemistry between Kate Hudson and Matthew McConaughy. Tess & Finn haven’t lost the spark in their relationship – they’re still hot for one another. The problem is that Tess has a vision of her life that isn’t lining up with Finn’s; things aren’t lining up because she’s so focused on what she wanted for her life pre-Finn that she can’t wrap her mind around what she wants once he’s in her life. Throw in a mean rapper, a cricket bat, and a lot of banter? And they not only find their way back to one another, but they both realize what they really want in their lives.

Margaret & Andrew (The Proposal). Finally, a movie that isn’t about breaking up – it’s about faking it! This is one of my favorite tropes in all of romanceland – a couple of people faking a relationship and falling for one another is such a sweet journey. . .and when you add in the angst of Sandra Bullock’s Margaret and the obliviousness of Ryan Reynolds’ Andrew? It’s even sweeter!

Those are my top three – tell me, who are your favorite movie couples?

Kristina Knight’s latest release is Breakup in a Small Town, the third book in her Slippery Rock series!

This isn't the man she married…
Jenny Buchanan never considered what "for better or for worse" meant when she married Adam Buchanan at nineteen. Six years and two little boys later, "for worse" arrives in the form of a tornado that ravages Slippery Rock and injures Adam. Now he's a stranger to his family…and love won't be enough to bring him back.

Only when Jenny asks him to move out does Adam become the husband she needs…but Adam isn't the only one who's changed. As their attraction sparks back to life, Jenny and Adam must learn what it is to grow up—and grow together—before this small-town breakup lasts forever.

Kristina Knight is a contemporary romance author, part-time swim-kid wrangler, and full-time Thin Mints enthusiast. You can find out more the book and Kristina on her website, and feel free to stalk follow her on FacebookTwitter or Instagram

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Free Book and New Releases! By Jenny Gardiner


Great news! Red Hot Romeo is free! A hot Italian, a gorgeous supermodel, and fabulous wines…what’s not to love?!
You can check out the first book in the Royal Romeo series for a limited time here:

And on Tuesday, the final book in the series, Big O Romeo, will be released! You can get it here
But wait, there's more! ;-) I just started a new series! Falling for Mr. Right. And book one, Falling for Mr. Maybe, comes out November 14. I hope you get a chance to check it out!

Lastly, don't forget, book one of the It's Reigning Men series, Something in the Heir, is free here!

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--please do check them out!

Happy reading!



 Coming November 14! 

Friday, September 15, 2017

Getting my Glad Rags out by Michelle Styles

Today I shall be on my way to the annual gathering of Mills and Boon authors aka AMBA. It is the first I have been able to go in a while. Getting children to their respective universities or going on holiday with my husband has taken precedence. However, this year I get to go and collect my pin for writing 25 books for Harlequin. Harlequin celebrates various significant milestones for authors, marking them with little gifts. There are pins for 25 and 50 and I forget what for 75 books (however I will find out as my friend and fellow author Kate Hardy is getting her 75th memento today as well)
Picture from RWA of Joanne Rock with 2017 Author milestones
I very nearly didn’t get the pin. After my 24th, I thought this is me done.  I am not getting any joy from writing historical romances any more. So I walked away from the offered contract and started writing something new. It took me awhile (and still it hasn’t sold – I have faith that some day it will but it also got me a fabulous agent) But then I was in a used bookshop and saw several historical romances. A fierce longing rose in my breast and I realized that after all I did like writing historical romances, and in particularly I did like writing my Vikings. So I set to work and wrote what became Sold to the Viking Warrior, my 25th Harlequin. I then took time off and wrote a single title because I could. And then I wrote The Warrior’s Viking Bride, my 26th which comes out in March 2018 and I think is one of my best.  I shall be interested to see what readers think. Then partly because my mother made sniffy noises (I don't get her attitude), I am working on the next Viking which isn't finished. Sometimes it is about figuring out what works for you.

AMBA is a magical experience. The first time I went I was frightened because there were all these authors whose books I have loved and then there was me. One of the big things I learned was that no author was born published and therefore everyone remembers what it was like not to be published. There is a certain energy to being there because the attendees know intimately about the struggles, the pitfalls and unparalleled joys which come from writing romance for Harlequin Mills and Boon. In the evening, the party means that the authors get to mingle with the editors. This is always fun as I have worked with a number of editors over the years and it is pleasant to see how they are doing.
The lunch is at London Bridge Hotel and then there is a special presentation about what is happening at Mills & Boon before the party where I will finally get my pin. Then back on the train and home to the reality which is my current Viking. A long and exhausting day but oh so worth it in many ways.

Michelle Styles writes warm, witty and intimate historical romances in a wide variety of time periods, most recently Viking. Her next Viking, The Warrior’s Viking Bride will be published in March 2018. You can learn more about Michelle and her books on

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Christina Hollis—Beginnings and Endings

Goodbye, summer...
September and the beginning of the new school term is always bittersweet. The peace after a summer of comings and goings is tinged with sadness at another milestone passed in the children's lives, and our own. 

This year is more poignant than most, as our son enters his last year at secondary school. It'll be final exams for him in summer 2018. A few weeks after that he'll be off into the big wide world. This is the last time I'll be doing the school run beneath dancing flocks of gathering swallows and house martins. This time next year, he'll be getting ready to fly the nest himself. 

In the meantime he's fine-tuning his skills in the kitchen, learning how to budget, and sitting at the top of the best local driving instructor's waiting list. I'm trying to step back, but it's difficult. He's got numerous health problems, but you can't keep them wrapped in cotton wool all their lives, can you? Not that it stops me worrying. 

Maybe leaving home will be the making of him. Maybe. You hear such worrying things about Generation I—the ones who live life at one remove, behind screens or via their telephones. How they're in danger of becoming Special Snowflakes because they lack the social skills we all learned in the days BC—Before Computer.  They're not so well-equipped to deal with the rough and tumble of daily working life, it seems.

...hello, autumn...
I'll look on the bright side. I worried about DD when she went off to university. Now she's back home and has a new career as an archaeologist. We could be toasting Son Number One's similar success in a few years' time, with wine made from our new grapevines!

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. Catch up with her at, on TwitterFacebook, 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.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Back to School

Like the post header says, I've gone back to school!!  I'm taking a pottery class at a local university and I'm having a blast!  I know, I'm not a pottery prodigy, but really I'm learning so much!  We had to make a kiln god...I went for a kiln goddess instead.  You can see she has the basic shape of a beehive kiln.  LOL The flowers in her hair came out a bit funky, but otherwise, I'm pleased with her.  And I've made cups.  One had to be asymmetrical...I went for a heart shape. I love the other two.

Not only am I going back to school, but my books are, too!  My PTA Mom trilogy comes out in time for the holiday season!  What happens when three PTA moms miss the first meeting and get stuck on the worst committee the organization has?  Did I mention they were three SINGLE moms?  Hm, so what happens as Samantha, Michelle and Carly plan the Thanksgiving Pageant, Christmas Fair and Valentine's Dance?  Laughter, Friendship...and of course, love.

This was such a fun series to write because frankly...I've been a PTA Mom.  I planned a Thanksgiving kids' zone for years.  And yes, it's a crazy life, but I wouldn't have done it any other way.  Neither would my three moms!  Hope you'll come join them this holiday season!


Once Upon a Thanksgiving
Once Upon a Christmas
Once Upon a Valentine's

Saturday, September 09, 2017

A Kinder Mother Nature - Kandy Shepherd

Right now, Mother Nature is showing her harshest side, lashing out with hurricanes, floods, fire and earthquakes in various parts of the world. My thoughts are with all those affected by these terrible events. 

In contrast, I’m sharing some pictures of Mother Nature’s kinder side from my very early spring garden in my little farm Down Under in Australia.

Daffodils shout out spring!
I wish I could share with you the fragrance of the daphne and the peach blossom.There’s also the frenetic buzzing of the bees and the different notes of birdsong to bring a lilt to the heart.

This gnarled plum tree is about sixty years old and still bearing superb fruit

 The gentleness of a spring garden seems to bring its own kind of calm in a world that seems to have gone a little crazy.

Nectarine blossom

 Wherever you are in the world, I hope you are safe. My thoughts are also with the teams of people out there helping both the people and the animals affected by disaster.

The gentle charm of hellebores

What simple thing brings you comfort in worrying times? I’d love to see your thoughts in the comments!

Kandy Shepherd’s most recent book Conveniently Wed to the Greek is a May 2017 release from Harlequin Romance in North America; Mills & Boon Cherish in the UK; and Mills & Boon ForeverRomance in Australia and New Zealand.

Kandy Shepherd is a multi-published, award-winning author of contemporary romance and women’s fiction. She lives on a small farm in the Blue Mountains near Sydney, Australia, with her family and a menagerie of four-legged friends.

Visit Kandy at her website

Connect with Kandy on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram