Wednesday, January 31, 2018

I survived 2017!

2017 started out a bit wobbly for me and then it just took the craziest roller-coaster ride the rest of the year. Personal challenges, health issues, family issues, losses and more just kept coming at me, beating on me as I fought to keep moving ahead. There were high points, too, when that roller-coaster reached the top of those hills, just before screaming back down. My writing disappeared in this emotional time - I found that that words and the drive to write were gone. MIA. Then, to add to the overall ambiance of 2017 (make sure to say that with a French accent) - I lost my job of 25 years!

But, to balance things, two wonderful, amazing grandsons joined us to buoy our spirits and fill our hearts with love when we most needed them. But I will admit that 2017 was probably the most difficult one of my life.
 How did I get through it all? With the love and support of friends and family. My friends helped in every way they could. My family was at my back. Even my publisher (thank you Harlequin!) gave me the time I needed to grieve and work through things I needed to handle. 

Reading helped me immensely. I moved away from the dark, angsty books I usually LOVE to lighter, more entertaining romances. And time....time needed to pass. 

About mid-December, I finally felt  the stirrings of story and the characters started whining at me to finish their story. And I did! And I began to enjoy life again. I'm not 100% back - I still have my dark days -- but I'm coming back to myself. 

Then 2017 came to a close and I cheered! So many friends and family members said the same thing - 2017 had been a terrible, horrible year and thankfully it was gone.

So now... we're a month into 2018.  It's continued to be somewhat challenging but I don't feel the same darkness in control that I did last year. I can see the light ahead and I'm steering to it. I brainstormed a whole new/next story with my writing colleague. I'm still looking for a job (yes, most romance authors, most published writers, work day jobs to pay their bills) and I'm hopeful.  So, I guess my reaction to 2018 is....welcome!

How're things going with you? Were your holidays good? Have you escaped the plague er.... flu/virus/cold that is out there? Most importantly - are you reading anything good? Looking forward to any upcoming releases? I'd love to hear about those! My TBR pile and file are never quite full-enough! 

Well, Happy 2018!  I hope that it is filled with everything -big and small-that you need and want!

I'm excited to be re-releasing my STORM series in the next couple of months. Check out my website for info about these steamy, dark, Fae romances, formerly published by Kensington Brava!! 


Saturday, January 27, 2018

The Gifts of Ursula Le Guin

Ursula Le Guin passed away this week, and it got me thinking about her wonderful books, and her thoughts about writing. When I read The Left Hand of Darkness, I was blown away by how much I loved it. I wasn’t sure it would be my “kind” of book—a story set in an alien world with its own rules, it’s science fiction or, some say, speculative fiction. I’ve never read much of either.

But with a wonderful story, genre never matters. Good storytelling transcends genre, drawing us in to the protagonist’s story, making us care about the world and the stakes. With The Left Hand of Darkness, it didn’t matter that I was in an alien world. The drama was human enough, and I cared deeply about what was happening. Not only did I love the book, I thought about it for years afterward, and what it said about the effect of sex and gender on a culture.

If all that Le Guin had given me, that would have been generous enough. But the gifts kept coming as, later in life, I stumbled on her thoughts on writing. She sheds insightful light on why the often-repeated “rule” of writing, “show don’t tell,” is detrimental advice to a more seasoned writer.

Thanks to “show don’t tell,” I find writers in my workshops who think exposition is wicked. They’re afraid to describe the world they’ve invented. (I make them read the first chapter of The Return of the Native,,,                                                          (On Rules of Writing)

She goes on to de-bunk other over-simplified writing advice in a way that helped me to marry my joy in romance and modern genre fiction with my deep love of literature. Her words gave permission to unapologetically dive into narrative paragraphs. To really set a scene and a mood by dipping deeply into a character’s thoughts, without worrying how fast I’d get back to action and dialogue.

Writers like Janet Evanovich do this all the time, even though we think of her Stephanie Plum books as full of action and fabulous dialogue. She starts High Five with a great paragraph about why being a bounty hunter is like going through life without underwear. It’s funny and vivid, and it gives us a snapshot of the character’s thoughts before we have any idea about the action.

“Telling” is not the root of storytelling evil. It’s an integral part of it, and one that I very much enjoy. So thank you, Ursula Le Guin, not just for your amazing books, but for all the writing wisdom you took time to share. I’ll leave you with a few other Le Guin gems for you to enjoy today:

* It is good to have an end to journey toward, but it is the journey that matters in the end.

* Love doesn't just sit there, like a stone; it has to be made, like bread, remade all the time, made new.

* When you light a candle, you also cast a shadow.
***Any writers whose work you return to time and time again? Or any classic books that stood out for you in your English classes that were really memorable? Share with me today and I’ll send one random commenter a signed copy of my December Desire, His Pregnant Secretary. My current release, if you’re interested in taking a peek, is January’s Claiming His Secret Heir!

Friday, January 19, 2018

Baby It's Cold Outside by Jenny Gardiner

There’s a pond in the woods back behind our house. A few times over the nearly 20 years we’ve lived here, in Central Virginia, winter has been cold enough for the pond to freeze over. On those times when our kids were little, we had such fun venturing out on the ice and sliding around, defying the strength of the frozen water, trusting that no one would fall through.

One frigid wintry morning years ago, we were scrambling to get everyone dressed, fed, lunches packed and out the door for school, when our young puppy somehow slipped outside and made off for the woods behind our house. The kids bolted after her and found her on the ice—then not frozen through, so her hind leg had slipped into it. Thankfully we were able to rescue her and get the kids to school not too late, with just a bit of early-morning drama!

During this bitterly January cold snap, my husband persuaded me to trek over to the pond to venture out onto the ice. The older I get the more of a weenie I become, so I was somewhat reluctant to go (and was rather comfortable with a cozy fire in the fireplace!), but I also didn’t want him to fall into the ice with no one to save him so we bundled out and headed out to the pond. As you all well know, it’s been a crazy cold winter, and sure enough, that ice was solid. My husband was convinced it was a foot thick. Not totally sure about that, but after a little persuasion I joined him to slip and slide around on it a bit. The far side of the pond doesn’t freeze as much—it’s dammed up and connected to the nearby creek—so we could hear loud cracks and pops coming from that end of things, and could even feel the crackles reverberating beneath our feet. It gave me a healthy respect to not mess too much with Mother Nature!

Well, if you’re like me and opting to stay curled up inside in semi-hibernation mode, I’ve got good news—a new book for you to read! My novel Falling for Mr. Maybe is finally available! Hope you’ll get a chance to check it out and in the meantime, stay warm!
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:

Check out my Falling for Mr. Wrong seriesFalling for Mr. Wrong,  Falling for Mr. Maybe, and Falling for Mr. No Way in Hell 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!




Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Dani Collins: On The Edge...Of a new series!

My grandmother loved her gardens. Loved them. In the same way that I get an idea for a book and build a story around it, she would get it in her head that a certain plant was needed in a certain spot and plotted how to make the whole thing work.

One of those plants was a Blue Spruce tree. She lived with my parents and my dad, her son, hated that tree. Oh, he agreed they're pretty as a picture to look at, but mowing around them is a matter of taking your life into your hands. They're one of the most prickly trees imaginable.

But Grandma won. And they are pretty! I wander around my neighbourhood enjoying them all the time, thinking of her whenever I see one. They have a distinctly blueish tinge to their needles which makes them stand out.

The prettiness of them, coupled with my warm memory of Grandma, is the reason I called my new series Blue Spruce Lodge.

This series turned into quite the family affair. My daughter helped me decide this particular lodge was a mountain chalet catering to skiers and you can read more about other family input here.

Even my sister's dog, Murphy, shows up in this series.

In fact, since the heroine of On The Edge, Glory, is a closeted romance author, I'm practically part of the story. I certainly relate to her introverted, sarcastic personality. (And her penchant for swears.)

Also, I worked at a ski hill in a past life. A very past life where I did office work and had perks like free lift tickets and free rentals and free lessons and rarely took advantage of it. Like Glory, I'm more of an observer of nature, rather than a go outside on a cold day type of person.

Rolf, on the other hand, is an alpine champion. He's everything I don't typically encounter and one of my edgiest heroes yet. He owns a world-renowned sports conglomerate, has won countless medals and cups, and is bent on turning a defunct ski hill into a training facility for elite athletes--if his kid brother doesn't mess it all up.

I hope you're intrigued! Here's more about On The Edge, the first book in this series that releases today.


The champion meets his match… 

When Glory Cormer’s father introduces her to ‘their’ new business partner, she’s appalled. Viking-like Rolf Johansson exudes the same alpha-intimidation that jocks used to torment her through high school. After nursing her mother the last several years, she’s trying to break out of her shell and secretly pursue a writing career, but Rolf insists she go through with the rotten deal her father struck with his brother to renovate an old chalet.

Rolf envisions this mountain as a world-class resort for elite athletes and other jet setters. As a downhill champion and owner of a world-renowned sports equipment empire, he knows what it takes to get what he wants. Nothing will stop him, especially not a hotheaded wallflower who turns the ice in his veins to lava.

Fun Fact: This book includes Blessed Winter, secretly written by Glory. It’s the long-awaited sequel to Cruel Summer, the short story you receive when you join my newsletter.

There's a Rafflecopter giveaway celebrating this book launch if you'd like to enter:

  a Rafflecopter giveaway

Author Bio:
Award-winning and USA Today Bestselling author Dani Collins thrives on giving readers emotional, compelling, heart-soaring romance with some laughter and heat thrown in, just like real life.

Mostly Dani writes contemporary romance for Harlequin Presents and Tule’s Montana Born, but her backlist of forty books also includes self-published erotic romance, romantic comedy, and even an epic medieval fantasy. When she’s not writing—just kidding, she’s always writing.

Dani lives in Christina Lake, BC with her high school sweetheart husband who occasionally coaxes her out of her attic office to visit their grown children.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Beating Blue Monday -- Michelle Styles

Today Monday 15 January 2018 is supposed to be the most depressing day of the year also known as blue Monday. However it doesn’t have to be that way. There are a number of ways in which you can beat the January blues. Here are some of my suggestions:
  1. 1.      
    Watch uplifting or feel good television. My daughter and I discovered The Marvellous Mrs Maisel at the end of  November and binge-watched it. It is a comedy with a little bit of drama about a Jewish woman from the Upper East Side New York City who becomes a stand up comic in the mid-1950’s. Beautifully acted with gorgeous dresses and a great sound track. Beats watching the news, an event which always seems to sap my will to live these days.
    2.       Book tickets to a great live action event. Last year, my daughter booked Hamilton tickets on blue Monday for December. She had to do as it was when they went on sale but the unexpected benefit was when ever something was not quite right or I felt a bit blah, I’d go ‘ah but we have Hamilton tickets’ and put the music on. But anything you can look forward to will work. It does need to be live and therefore what you are going to see will be unique.
    3.       Go see a great exhibition at a museum. I was lucky enough to see two brilliant exhibitions in December at the V&A – the Winnie-the-Pooh exhibit and the Balenciaga exhibit. The first allowed me to release my inner child and the second allowed me to indulge in my love of great clothes (see above for more about my love of great clothes). But any exhibition will do – go with an open mind and see what you can learn or simply enjoy.
    4.       Go for a walk and release your inner child as you do. Getting outside with natural sunlight can be a great way to lif your mood. If it is horrible out, consider wrapping up well and going puddle jumping or if icy, find some place to slide a bit. Watch the clouds and make up stories about what they represent. I find releasing my inner child is a great way to lift my mood. It means I don’t have to be serious and weighed down with responsibility.
    5.       Put on some favourite music and dance like no one is watching.
    6.       Make time to see an old friend and have a good natter about nothing in particular.
    7.       And last but by no means least, read a romance – something that will allow to escape into another world where you know the Happy Ending is guaranteed. It can be one you enjoyed in the past or a new one by a favourite author or even a new to you author.
    What ways  have you found that work to beat the Bluest of all Mondays?

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 released on 22 February 2018.

You can learn more about Michelle and her books on

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Christina Hollis: Be Prepared!

A light dusting before the blizzard
Winter hit hard here before Christmas, with a blizzard. We're surrounded by woodland, and the sound of boughs snapping under the weight of snow echoed around our valley like gunfire.  A particularly loud bang gave us all a 4am start, as some power lines came down. They snaked around in the darkness in a shower of sparks until the supply was shut off. After that, we were without electricity for eighteen hours. 
Disasters can strike in town as well as country, so before something unexpected happens in your neck of the woods, here's my top tips for managing when modern life unravels...

HEAT: The pump for our gas central heating runs on electricity, so a log burner provides extra warmth. Dancing flames lift the spirits, too. Curling up in front of the fire with a good book when the various screens and devices aren't working makes the past seem very close. While we have an electric oven, our hob is gas. In the event of a power cut we can light that manually, to boil a kettle for tea and coffee, fill hot water bottles or make meals that don’t need an oven.  We have carbon monoxide alarms and smoke alarms, and check their battery levels regularly. We also keep a fire blanket handy!

Come home to a real fire...
LIGHT: I use a head torch for cooking, or checking round outside. It leaves my hands free, which is always a good thing. Unlike ordinary torches, LED lights die suddenly instead of fading away like a traditional torch. Make sure you’ve got plenty of spare batteries. 
Cold candles burn for longer than those stored at room temperature.  Make sure you secure them in a jam jar or saucer before lighting. Keep them well away from anything that might catch fire. Keep a supply of matches or a lighter in a dry place, and make sure everyone in the house knows where they are. 

SAFETY: Make sure you've got a basic first aid kit with over-the-counter remedies, plasters, dressings and bandages. Keep paths clear and spread rock salt to keep them safe. Make a list of emergency numbers, and personal contact details. Print out and laminate several copies. Keep one in the kitchen, one in the bathroom and one in your car. 
Get the right tools for the job. Proper snow shovels are much lighter and easier to use than garden spades when you have snow to shift. Keep one in your car (and it's a good idea if that has winter tyres fitted).

SUPPLIES: Each autumn we make up a winter box, filled with things like toilet paper, toothpaste, soap, tea, coffee, dried milk, tinned goods and dried food like pasta. While researching Women’s Lives in Bristol, I discovered the story of an emergency box just like ours, which came to the rescue of people trapped in a church during the great air-raid the city suffered in November 1940. 
Severe weather rarely cuts anywhere in England off for more than a few days, so we'd rather sit it out in the warm than risk an accident. I had one of those in snow a few years ago, and I don't want another one! Stocking up with the basics means we don't run out if we're snowed in. It's all stored in a cool, dry place. We don’t rely on being able to use frozen or chilled foods. In a power cut, we keep the freezer shut and avoid opening the fridge. Milk and other dairy products live outside the back door, in a big insulated box.

COMMUNICATION: Mobile signals aren't good round here, so we’ve kept our landline. Wherever you live, a mobile's no good if it’s flat. Make sure all your devices are fully charged while you have power. Keep a good supply of batteries for radios. If you're going on a journey, make sure your car is serviced, and the fuel tank is filled. Blankets, a torch, first aid kit and cereal bars don’t take up much room on the back seat, and could make all the difference during a long cold wait for roadside assistance. 

If you'd like to keep up with my writing life, and the goings-on here at Tottering Towers (Gloucestershire's least stately home), just drop me a line at christinahollis(at)hotmail(dot) with "newsletter" in the subject line—and putting an @ and a dot instead of the words in my email address, of course!

Christina Hollis has been writing all her life. With many magazine articles, six historical novels and eighteen contemporary novels to her credit, she has sold nearly three million books and her work has been translated into twenty different languages. When she isn’t writing, Christina is cooking, gardening, or walking her dog. Her next book, Women’s Lives in Bristol, 1850-1950 is part of Pen and Sword Books’ major 2018 series Struggle and Suffrage commemorating the vote being given to the first women in England. Follow Christina on Facebook at for more details.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Word of the Year

I know we're a few week into 2018 and most New Year Resolutions are already forgotten, but I think there's still time to...well, not make a resolution, I gave those up years ago.  Instead, I pick one word to build my year around.  I love that other people have joined me in the tradition.  I've used words like Stop, Moment, Awareness, Step, Optimism, Change, Stretch, Time, Hope...

I spent a great deal of time mulling 2018's word and finally landed on Chapter.  With that word I'm acknowledging that things changed last year and will continue to change next year.

In 2017 I lost my mother in July and losing her has left a hole in my life.  I went back to school in August and discovered so much glee in Ceramics and My Novel Freshman Experience.  My family is another year older and they're lives are changing and evolving, and I'll confess, I feel such a sense of pride when I look at what amazing people they all are.

So 2018 sees me in a new place...a new chapter if you will.  By choosing that as my word of the year, I'm reminding myself that even when change is hard, I should more than accept those changes, I should embrace them!  I should try and make this chapter the best one yet.

So even though we're a couple weeks into the year, I hope you reflect on what you want from 2018.  Do you have a word of the year?

Happy New Year, my friends.  I love stopping by this blog every month.  Thank you to everyone who's followed my pottery adventures and a huge thanks to everyone who's picked up a book, left a review and shared a bit glee with me!


PS The 3rd book in my PTA Mom trilogy it out...Once Upon a Valentine's 
Hold Her Heart is on sale for $.99.  It's one of my Romance+ stories...a story about woman's journey that includes romance, but romance isn't the reason for her journey, nor is it her final destination!

Friday, January 12, 2018

New Year New Look New Book with Kate Walker

I’m in  celebratory mood today. This is a post that I’ve been waiting so long to write – since  the end of 2016 in fact.   That was when my last  new title – Indebted to Moreno – had been out on the  shelves for October/November  - and I needed to make sure there was another new book to follow it.  It’s been a long wait.

So what happened?  Life.  I suppose you can sum it up in that one short word.  Just life. There were some health problems – mine and my husband’s – family problems. . . But there were also some good things – enjoyable ones.  My sister had a big birthday – one of those with a 0 at the end. So did a friend. So of course we had to celebrate just a  bit, didn’t we?  Then  two new members of the family arrived. Two little boys who were born within 6 months of each other.   They are both gorgeous and thriving -  thankfully. Considering that one of them, arrived  rather late and in a rush, on his parents’ bathroom floor instead of the water birth they were expecting!  Life has a habit of doing that, doesn’t it?  Changing the rules just when you were least expecting them.

It seemed a bit like that all last year. I know so many people who had a tough year, found that things didn’t go as they expected them.  Sometimes I find that I can turn my attention to writing, concentrating on the fictional world and disappearing into it so that I can forget about reality. But not 2017.     Still, I persevered – and  this month I get to celebrate the fact that at last I have a brand new novel out  this month.

I may have written 66  novels for Harlequin, but that feeling of having a brand new book on the shelves – holding it in my hands is a really special one and it always feels so wonderful. It’s a joy that never goes away.  And it  has an extra special feeling to it this time as my new book (I love saying that!) A Proposal To Secure His Vengeance is one of the first  books to be published with the new look, revamped covers  that are the result of the major makeover that Harlequin Mills and Boon  have  organised and that  starts to appear in shops from this date on.  The coves are very new, very different – but the great stories under the covers are just the same.
I’ve had some wonderful messages from kind readers, telling me how much they’ve been looking forward to having a new Kate Walker story to read. How  happy they are that it’s finally here. That means so much to me.  When I haven’t had a new novel available  for so long, I was a bit afraid that readers would forget me – that they’d look for other authors’ names instead.  So these fabulous messages have really made my day – I’d almost say they’ve made my year but perhaps it’s a bit early for that!

But it’s not too early to celebrate this special publication day  - and to share with you the covers – USA and UK – of this new book.    There’s the ‘blurb’ from the back of the book too – that re
ally made me smile as it so sums up the tone and mood of the story I’ve written. I hope you’ll enjoy it too  and I hope you’ll love my sparky, beautiful heroine Imogen and  the sexy, brooding hero Raoul Cardini  -   known by his nickname the Corsican Bandit! 

Meanwhile, I’m busy working on the revisions for the next book – this one doesn’t have a  title yet but it’s  a story that’s linked to Imogen’s story because the heroine is Imogen’s sister, Ciara.  I’ve called these two linked stories  by the working title  The Scandalous O’Sullivan Sisters.
And I really hope it won’t be quite so long  before I’m able to tell you that Ciara’s  story will be published too.

It’s a little late but I still want to wish all my lovely readers a very happy new year. I know that with the publication ofA ProposalTo Secure His Vengeance  it’s  definitely the  happy start to 2018 for me. Let’s hope it continues that way!

Raoul Cardini will have his revenge!
His preferred method? Ruthless, irresistible seduction!
Imogen O’Sullivan is horrified when charismatic tycoon Raoul breaks up her engagement and makes her his own convenient bride! She once surrendered everything to Raoul—body, heart and soul. But as he stalks back into her life it’s clear he has punishment in mind—not just passion! Can Imogen resist Raoul’s potent brand of delicious vengeance?

You can read more about me and my books on my web site and my blog -  and catch up with me too on my Facebook page

Sunday, January 07, 2018

Where are the books you love?

2017 was a very bad year if you prefer to read your romance in a traditional paperback book. Publishers have been cutting back on paper release of series romance - not because readers don't still love them, not because the they are no longer being written or published, but because shelf space has become such a rare commodity.

With the loss of bookstore chains such as the much-lamented Borders and with supermarkets cutting space for everything but the fastest moving titles, publishers have been forced to reduce paper sales of some of their series to their bookclub subscribers and online sales.

Series that are now digital only include Harlequin Romance but to reassure you, they are still available in paper direct from Harlequin and from Amazon.


While online sales and digital work for the dyed-in-the-wool, hard-core fans who know what they like, have authors they auto-buy and have access to a debit or credit card, the sad fact is that the point-of-sale reader, the woman who, passing the shelf during her weekly shop and makes a spontaneous decision to buy a book, no longer has the same wide choice.

She may have always bought from her favourite series in the past, grabbing one with the right colour cover and buzz word title in the few seconds she has to make her choice because she knows it will deliver the romance hit she loves. If that option is no longer open to her she may choose from what is there - or not buy at all. It's a bit like the supermarket reducing your choice of cookies to a few top-selling brands. Their only interest is, after all, the bottom line and they figure that you'll buy something even if it isn't your first choice. Or, of course, you may go somewhere else. If it's cookies, not a problem. If it's books it may mean the local thrift shop where there will be secondhand copies of the books she loves. At least for a while.

Meanwhile the  paper copies are only available in limited numbers and you can't buy them secondhand. Even when there are fabulous deals - a lot of my books are on special offer at the moment - they are available only to those with an expensive eReader, computer or phone and access to a debit or credit card. For vast numbers of readers the books will simply have disappeared. They won't know why. They'll merely shrug and stop looking for them. Maybe they'll stop reading romance.

I have no answers, just a sore heart.

Tuesday, January 02, 2018

Wishing Everyone a Balanced New Year! Susan Sands

A new year always feels like beginning with a clean slate in so many ways. The resolutions, you
know. Eat better, exercise more. Keep an organized schedule. All the things. And yes, I do plan to improve myself in all those ways. Last year I began my second half-century of life. That sounds pretty momentous, doesn't it? Yes, I thought so too. I was busy last year. Writing, and taking care of all the things and people who live in my circle.

I'll do that this year, but I have plans to do more. Write more and better. Bigger. But I've also got to nurture and support the heck out of my last chick until I send her off to college in a few months. Give her my best as well. It's all a balance, and it's one that is easy to upset with too much focus on one thing or the other. So my biggest goal beginning the year will be balance. Family, work, exercise, nutrition, sleep.

I spent the entire day reading a book just released by one of my favorite authors. Nothing else, just reading. I'd forgotten how much I enjoy just reading. And how it inspires me to write. So, today, I'm motivated to work on one of my new projects because of the day spent immersed in that book. It was something I'd denied myself because I'd lost the balance. I don't know how I could have forgotten the pure joy of reading, of losing myself in a book. I'm a writer for heaven's sake. But I've rediscovered it and won't let it happen again.

I hope everyone who celebrates enjoyed their holidays. I had all my children under one roof for an entire week, which is hard to come by these days. I've cooked, baked, and just rolled around in the family time.

Happy New Year to everyone! I wish everyone good health, humor, and happiness in the coming year. And balance. We'll see how that goes, won't we?

Susan Sands