Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Lara Temple: On pets, humans and other animals

People ask me why animals show up so often in my books. My first answer is – I have no idea, they just do. My second, more considered answer is that animals often reveal who we really are underneath the layers life imposes on us.

I saw that clearly when I walked my kids to school yesterday with our new puppy (an adorable bundle of fur). Along the way I noticed something – the eyes of almost every child we passed lit up. Just that – they lit up. Widened and crinkled and downright sparkled. Even those who were afraid to approach the tiny addition to our household were charmed and softened.

Adults – not so much. Some did smile, a handful did gush, but often they just didn’t see or were lost in the chaos of their lives, trying to get the kids to school, themselves off to work, and tasks in a line. Life, the universe and everything. I completely understand, I am often the same. Even if I had wanted to stop and pet another person’s dog I often don’t allow myself that luxury, or that encroachment.

I realized that one day the majority of the children who were overcome with joy at the sight of a little bundle of fur would grow up to become those who couldn’t see/allow themselves/afford to stop and pet the puppy (that is not a euphemism!).
And I think this is why I write animals into my stories. Because in the contact between us and animals something else comes out of us, a deep childish loving, a connection to who we are under layers, a need to give and receive love. Animals help me explore that part of myself and in my heroes and heroines.

In my latest books horses and dogs have an important role. Nell, the heroine of Lord Hunter’s Cinderella Heiress, has found purpose, love and confidence in her dealings with horses that were denied her in her own home. In my next book, Lord Ravenscar’s Inconvenient Betrothal, a canine friendship from the past helps connect our hero to the better aspects of his childhood. It doesn’t always have to be a familiar animal, either – in that same book the heroine, Lily, who grew up on a secluded island, had a close friendship with a manatee. Now that I think about it, my daughter has had some interesting conversations with praying mantises living in our garden, so anything goes.
It doesn’t mean I always intend to write about animals, but they are a natural part of my life and I have a feeling they will keep sneaking, galloping, or creeping into my stories, planned or not.

Excerpt from Wild Lords book #1: Lord Hunter’s Cinderella Bride (November 2017)

Nell’s breath caught and a gentle flush warmed her full lips to a soft peach colour. Hunter watched, fascinated by this quite unique and very appealing transformation; then he looked up and met her eyes and was surprised to see that they were brimming with laughter.
‘I think I might actually enjoy this,’ she half-whispered.
‘What?’ he asked, confused.
‘Flirting. I think I’m starting to understand how it works.’
A slap might have been more painful, but no more sobering. For a moment he had actually forgotten why he was doing this.
‘That’s good. Feel free to experiment. Despite my name, I don’t mind being hunted.’
‘I’m not sure how. I don’t think I could ever do what Lady Melkinson does.’
He caught the hopelessness in her voice.
‘You won’t know until you try,’ he said lightly and this time her eyes were assessing. Then she half-lowered her long lashes so that the silver irises glimmered through them.
‘Like this?’ she asked huskily, leaning towards him, the tips of her fingers just making contact with the sleeve of his coat. Then her lips parted and the tip of her tongue touched her lower lip, drawing it in gently and letting it go. As far as seductions went it was very mild, as hesitant as a girl dressing in her mother’s finery. There was no reason it should have felt like the blood was reversing course in his veins.
‘A very good start,’ he managed and was rewarded with another smile.

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Monday, November 27, 2017

Favorite Books of Childhood

by Joanne Rock

My bookshelf from childhood-- with my hamster
I’ve started Christmas shopping this week and that means hitting the bookstore. Long before I sold my first book, I enjoyed giving books as gifts. So much so, I think friends come to expect that from me—I am the giver of books. It’s a pleasure to share that perfect story you think will really capture a friend’s heart or imagination.

That goes doubly so for kids. I remember so keenly how wonderful it was to discover the magic of reading independently as a child, and I always hope that giving the gift of a book will open that gateway for a child. Do you remember the first books that really made an impression on you as a child?

Here in no particular order, are some of the books that really had a strong impact for me as a kid:

1-     Black Beauty- this was the first time I recall sobbing while reading. And I had the experience of thinking- it’s crazy to realize I’m sitting safely in my bed, in my pjs, and crying so hard for the hurts of a fictional horse. That was really powerful for me, as I had my first taste of the way books teach us empathy.

2-     Miss Piggy’s Guide to Life- a book that spoofs the diva life and made me smile

3-     Nancy Drew- I owned about half of them and read all of them. I shared my collection with a friend down the street and vice versa. This series made me realize how much fun it is to share characters and story,lines. Books make for fun conversation.

4-     The Ghost of Windy Hill- this book kicked off my long love of ghost stories and the paranormal, even though this one isn’t particularly spooky. Very atmospheric!

5-      When We Were Very Young- this book of poetry by A.A. Milne was the first introduction to poems I read on my own—sweetly memorable.

6-     Stories from a Snowy Meadow – Anyone else remember Mole, Mouse, Shrew and Vole? I liked the emphasis on an older character, and the idea that storyteller Vole could be so important to the next generation. No surprise that I like a storyteller as hero!

7-     Snoopy and “It Was a Dark and Stormy Night” –Snoopy writes a book and has a book signing. I loved this book so much and have thought of it often over the years in my career as a writer, since Snoopy gets writer’s block, has big ideas, and even feels the pain of a book signing where no one shows up. The perfect book for a young writer.

My January 2018 McNeill story
What about you? Any memorable books from your youth? Or any books that your eager to buy for the young readers in your life? Share with me this week and I’ll give one random poster an advance copy of Claiming HisSecret Heir, my January 2018 Harlequin Desire! In the meantime, please be on the look out for His Pregnant Secretary, my December story, in stores December 5th.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Eve Gaddy: Who Loves Free Books?

Me! I love free books! I have a Christmas book that’s free, out right now. The Doctor's Christmas Proposal is the third book in the Gallaghers of Montana series. Set in Marietta, Montana, there are scenes from Marietta's Christmas Stroll, the Christmas Ball and lots of other Marietta specialties. This is Wyatt Gallagher's story, the third Gallagher brother who is also a doctor.

Wyatt is sorely in need of a little Christmas magic, and he hopes he can find it with his best friend, Mia Watson.

The Doctor’s Christmas Proposal

Betrayed by his ex-fiancĂ©e, Dr. Wyatt Gallagher turns to the one woman he can always trust – his best friend, Mia Watson. After moving away, Wyatt has realized he wants more than friendship with the beautiful artist. With that in mind, he convinces Mia to come to Marietta for the Christmas holidays. But wooing Mia is surprisingly difficult — especially given the passionate night they’ve already shared.
Though Mia Watson has loved Wyatt Gallagher for years, he’s always seen her as a friend, never a lover. Except for one unforgettable interlude when comfort turned to passion. Then Wyatt moved back to Montana, leaving Mia with an unexpected consequence of their night together–and soon, heartbreak to follow.
Faced with the fulfillment of her dreams, Mia knows she must reveal the consequences of their night together to Wyatt. But having withheld the truth for so long, will her confession destroy his trust in her, ending their friendship and any hope of a future together?

I also have a new Christmas book out, A Texas Christmas Reunion, the second book in the Whiskey River Christmas series. Three of my writer friends and I got together at a conference and the next thing we knew, we were writing a series with a matchmaker ghost!

Check them out at

And I have one more Christmas book: The Christmas Baby, Book 6 in the Redfish Chronicles series.

Brian Kincaid’s job as a security system troubleshooter is perfect for a single guy who loves women and world travel.  But his carefree lifestyle comes to a screeching halt when he discovers he’s an instant father--the only parent of a ten-month-old son he never knew he had.

Hiring single mom Faith McLain as his son’s live-in nanny seems like the perfect solution to regaining his free-roaming life.  Except that he begins to discover the time he spends with her and the babies is more enjoyable than he’d have believed possible. Soon, he realizes he wants much more from Faith than a working relationship.

Faith knows better than to fall for a committed bachelor—especially one who happens to be her very hot boss. But how long can she resist the whispers of her heart—or the powerful desire he awakens?

Have a great holiday!

Visit me at my website:
Twitter: @evegaddy

Friday, November 24, 2017

5 things about me...

1.      I’m in love with Flynn Rider from the film Tangled. Yes- I do know he’s a cartoon and that being in love with something drawn with a pencil and then coloured in is weird, but in my head Flynn is a completely gorgeous hero. Cheeky, dashing, just a teensy bit tortured, devilishly handsome and spouts witty one-liners even when they in inappropriate. I also love his voice, especially when he sings, it makes melt.

     2.      I’m a complete tourist. I adore travelling to far-flung places and soaking up the culture. I could have bought a significantly bigger house with all the money I’ve spent exploring the world yet if I could have my time again I wouldn’t do it differently. I mean, riding through the jungle in Thailand on the back of an elephant tops another spare room which would only get used once in a blue moon anyway. Who needs another bathroom when they can snorkel between the Pitons in St Lucia and feed bananas to the Sergeant Major fish? And why would I want all that extra housework when I could get in a car and just drive through Death Valley? My favourite place- Disneyland of course!

3.      I’m a spice fiend. My favourite food is curry- and not those tame sorts of curries wusses eat. Proper hot curries from India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. Thai food is another favourite, along with Japanese and Mexican. In fact, if I was ever marooned on a desert island, so long as chillies grew there I’d be happy. However, my favourite drink in the whole world is a proper cup of British tea.

4.      I like spiders. I wouldn’t want to pick out curtains with them or keep them as pets, but picking one up doesn’t bother me. When other people are cringing, and screaming, I’m the brave saviour who marches in and puts the wriggly, hairy little arachnid outside. I don’t even need a glass to carry them in.

5.      I usually get all my story ideas in the middle of the night when I should be sleeping by my brain won’t let me. It’s been the same since I was a little kid. When I couldn’t sleep, I let my imagination wander and often used to enjoy going to bed early so that I could revisit the wonderful worlds I created sooner. A lifetime of casual insomnia has turned me into a storyteller. So every cloud…

Virginia Heath’s latest book, His MistletoeWager, is out now!

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Favorite Holiday Traditions ~ @AuthorKristina Knight

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! I hope you're surrounded by friends, family, and great food today!

One of my favorite Thanksgiving traditions is decorating for the holidays. I know there are two very firm camps on this: those who decorate after Thanksgiving, and those who decorate before. I'm firmly in the Before Thanksgiving Decorators camp, not because I don't like Thanksgiving (I do like it. A lot!), but because Christmas decorations make me happy. The music makes me happy, the color makes me happy, and being happy makes me thankful...and being thankful is what Thanksgiving is all about, right?

So, every year, usually the day before Thanksgiving, we drag out the decorations and have ourselves
a pre-Thanksgiving decorating party. This year, we got everything out the Saturday before because the day before was packed with activities (bebe had swimming, RadioMan had a lunch, I had an afternoon meeting). So I've been enjoying the lights and the music for a few days now, and I have to say that I absolutely am loving it. I'm also bingeing on a few of my favorite Hallmark Holiday Movies.

This year, I have even more to be thankful for: my next Harlequin Superromance is releasing in just a few days!

I'm super excited for this book, it's my first 'official' Christmas-themed book, and it's my fifth Slippery Rock title...and it's my 7th Harlequin Superromance...but it's also bittersweet, because this is my last Superromance title. I'm still so sad that Harlequin has decided to close this line of rich, deep, thoughtful books, but I'm also feeling blessed that I've been able to write these books for the past three years. It has seriously been one of the best times in my life - I've learned a LOT from my editors, and I think I'm a better writer after it all. And Christmas won't be my last book - I've got more coming for you guys, and I can't wait to share that news!

For now, here's a little bit about Christmas in a Small Town:

Running out on her wedding was the best decision ever!

A cheating fiancĂ© sends Camden Harris fleeing to her grandparents’ home in Missouri. When her ex follows, determined to win her back, Camden makes a deal with neighbor Levi Walters: they’ll pretend to be in love and she’ll support his plan to buy her grandparents’ land.

The boy from her childhood has grown up into an impressive man. His charm, good looks and sweet gestures make it difficult for Camden to remember this is fake. And Levi’s kisses only confuse her more.

Buy Christmas in a Small TownAmazon  B&N  iBooks  Kobo  Harlequin/paperback  Harlequin/e-copy

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Don't be a Turkey! Have a Happy Thanksgiving! by Jenny Gardiner

Hi everyone!
I'm so swamped with a book due tomorrow and SOOOO much more to write! So I'm going to share my favorite pumpkin bread recipe--it is the best, so I hope you get a chance to try your hand at it. I wish I could say where I got this recipe from but I've had it for at least twenty years so I haven't a clue!
Enjoy and Happy Thanksgiving!


Makes 3 large loaves                    prep time: 20 mins

4 c. flour
2/3 tsp baking powder
2-1/4 tsp baking soda
1-1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp allspice
3/4 c. cold water
5 eggs
3-1/2 c. sugar
3 c. pumpkin
1-1/3 c. canola oil

Grease and line bottom of 3 loaf pans w/ brown paper overlapping ends so loaf can be lifted out when done  (I don't do that! I just grease it!)
Sift dry ingredients; beat eggs very well, add sugar and beat well. Add pumpkin, oil and water and beat well. Add dry ingredients slowly (&on slow speed on mixer or it'll splash) and mix well.
Fill pans about 2/3 full. Bake at 325° for 1 hour, until nicely browned and toothpick comes out clean.

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 free 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! It's called Falling for Mr. Wrong. And book one, Falling for Mr. Wrong, just came out November 14. And Falling for Mr. Maybe is now available for pre-order.

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!




Thursday, November 16, 2017

I have a great memory - It's just I remember late

My husband and I make that joke all the time. It's not that we forget stuff. We just remember it later than we should.

Back in May, I scheduled three posts for May, June and July. They were for the Secret Billionaires trilogy that I wrote with Rachael Thomas and Jennifer Hayward.

That seemed to knock me out of my habit. I then went three months without remembering that I was a contributing member of Tote Bags 'n' Blogs. August, September and October whistled by and I suddenly remembered to post here today by the skin of my teeth.

To be fair, it's been a busy fall. I've had a pile of deadlines and a website to renovate (check it out here!) and a bunch of family stuff all come up at once.

Nevertheless, I somehow went from gorgeous fall to, Brrr. Where did the time go? Clearly my memory is dragging her feet.

Perhaps it's too many watermelons. That's what my massage therapist talked about the last time I saw her. She said every task we take on is a watermelon that we carry until we can put it down. Sometimes we're carrying too many watermelons.

Either way, I'm sorry I missed posting. I like to think of myself as reliable so I'm really quite embarrassed at having completely blanked.

How about you? Is your memory rock-solid? Or always flying in the door at the last minute?

Dani has a new website! Visit to learn more about there, read some excerpts and sign up for her newsletter.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Michelle Styles:Polishing the Clock Face

Writing a historical romance can feel like juggling three balls with one hand while simultaneously keeping three plates spinning in the air with the other and balancing a few objects on your head for good matter. Yes, it is your circus and those are your monkeys and you can lose your focus very quickly and end up writing a different sort of story than the one you had planned. The more you know about the majestic craft of writing, the more you realise that part of its appeal is that it can never be fully tamed and there is always something more to learn.
There are plot points, character conflicts, world building, and writing into the mist. There is learning to revise while still believing in the essence of your story. Your ultimate aim is to create an emotionally satisfying story which has the reader turning pages at great rate.
It took me a long time to realize that I write for the readers who get my writing. I can’t write for my eldest son, the recent recipient of a history Phd who considers historical romance beneath him (the poor dear – we all have our crosses to bear and one of his is having me for a mother). Neither do I write for my husband who prefers angsty detective stories with disillusioned male protagonists. Or indeed my youngest son who prefers fantasy and natural history but knows when to keep quiet about his mother’s work.
 I write in part for myself but mostly for readers who enjoy the sort of historical story I tell – ones with a strong female protagonists who eventually find love and an equal partnership with a strong male. It took me a long time to realise who I wrote for and that I didn’t have to change the way I write for anyone (not even my eldest whom I love dearly).  The realisation made bad reviews easier to take and I didn’t have to retreat to my bedroom with a bottle of gin (or indeed listen to helpful suggestions about my manuscripts or my career path for the male members of my household).
However, one of the compacts  I make with my readers is that I strive to get them the possible Michelle Styles I can produce at any given time. And this means that I always have to keep working on my craft. Craft is such a big topic that I prefer to concentrate on little pieces and work my way around. Thus sometimes, I feel like I am rusty on plot or character and at others on setting. Sometimes it is emotional response. Sometimes it is creativity as a general topic (aka refilling the well). (Have I mentioned that I love books about writing?) Twyla Tharp in The Creative Habit  suggested the clock face metaphors as a way for dancers to concentrate on their craft. I feel it is also a metaphor which works for authors.
I am self-taught author – basically I have a degree in Economics (with an emphasis on historical econ) and have never taken a course in writing. A friend is currently doing her Masters in Creative Writing – we have been talking. I lent her one of my favourite books on Point of View and Character (Orson Scott Card’s Characters and Viewpoint). I think she was pleasantly surprised that it was actually very good and full of useful tips.
Because I am waiting on my agent to get me her notes about how I can improve  my latest Viking before submitting it to my editor, one of the things I have been doing is reading Donald Maass’s latest  The Emotional Craft of Fiction about  creating emotional responses in the reader. It plows the same trench as Orson Scott Card and Karl Igleias Writing for Emotional Impact but approaches in a typical Maass sort of way (including a few snide remarks about romance authors). Like any writing craft book, there are parts which speak to me and parts which don’t.  I have tried out some of the exercises and it is interesting to look at my manuscript in a different way (currently I think something does not quite work – among other things, it keeps hitting the same note) But what is interesting is that some of the exercises I go to do them and then think – hey I have already done that because it is good practice to have your reader engaged with your protagonist. Backing myself and my writing ability is something I should do more often – even when I am trying to polish the clock face.
This last month has brought my cover for The Warrior’s Viking Bride – both the Harlequin Historical version and the Mills and Boon one. I love them both. The new look Mills and Boon covers are utterly fab, particularly for historicals. The ampersand between Mills and Boon is the combination of a heart and a kiss.
Harlequin Historical version
MIlls and Boon version
I am really proud of this book and am so hoping that my readers enjoy it. (I have not bothered asking the peanut gallery of the male members of my household for their opinion – my daughter approves of the cover though…)

Michelle Styles writes warm, witty and intimate historical romance in a wide range of time periods for Harlequin Historical. Her latest The Warrior’s Viking Bride will be published in March 2018. You can learn more about Michelle and her books on

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Christina Hollis: A Wartime Miracle

Yer tis, as we say in Bristol.
I’m on the final draft of my major non-fiction project, Struggle and Suffrage: Women’s Lives in Bristol, 1850-1950. Last month I stayed in Bristol for a week on a research retreat. Much as I love my family (and the pets), this was a chance to do nothing but think about my work-in-progress from first thing in the morning to last thing at night. I spent days without needing to worry about getting the washing or housework done. I didn't have to do any cooking, and there were no last-minute games of hunt the missing item of school uniform/gym kit/keys, etc. etc. etc.  For someone who loves their job as much as I do, that week was the ultimate in “me” time.
The first thing on my "to-do" list was something I hadn't quite managed on my previous research trips to Bristol. It meant crossing the city to St Mary Redcliffe church in search of a modern legend. St Mary Redcliffe is the building Elizabeth the First called "the fairest, goodliest and most famous parish church in England". At 292 feet (89 metres) high, its spire is a landmark that can be seen for miles. 

I tried visiting on the last day of my trip during the summer, but the day was hot and sunny. By the time I reached the monument I was looking for it was surrounded by church staff, local people and tourists, all enjoying picnic lunches in the sun. 

Thank Goodness For Low-Rise Living...
What a difference a few weeks made. This time, autumn leaves were falling. I arrived in a light drizzle. The place was deserted. As I walked across the grass to Bristol’s Miraculous Tram Rail, the rain stopped and I was able to take these photographs.

During the Second World War, Bristol was bombed heavily by the Nazis. Not only were the city’s docks a major target, Spitfire engines were manufactured in the Filton factories of Rolls-Royce. These were only a few miles from the city centre. Bombers carried out raid after raid to try and put both Bristol and its aero engine works out of action forever. 

On Good Friday, 1941, one bomb exploded in Redcliffe Street, which runs directly behind the ancient church of St Mary Redcliffe. In those days trams were the city’s major form of public transport. They ran on iron rails, one of which was thrown high into the air. As luck would have it, the airborne tram rail somersaulted over the lowest roof in Redcliffe Street. It missed the house completely before embedding itself to half its length where it landed in the church grounds.

The Dedication
Had the house that rail hurdled been the same height as its neighbours, it would have carved off the top storey. If the eight-foot-long piece of solid metal had flown only a few yards further, it would have smashed into the church. Either way, many people would have been killed by flying debris. 

It was such a miraculous escape, the tram rail was left where it fell as a permanent memorial to a very close shave. In the week when all our town and village memorials are covered in poppies in remembrance of the fallen, it makes you think of the dangers suffered by civilians on the Home Front, as it was called.

Does your town have any stories of a lucky escape?

In addition to local history, Christina Hollis writes contemporary fiction starring complex men and independent women. She has written six historical novels, eighteen contemporary novels, sold nearly three million books, and her work has been translated into twenty different languages. When she isn’t writing, Christina is cooking, gardening, walking her dog, or beekeeping.

Catch up with her at, on Twitter, Facebook, and see a full list of her published books at

Her current fiction release, Heart Of A Hostage, is published by The Wild Rose Press and available at  worldwide.