Sunday, May 27, 2018

Medieval Me

by Joanne Rock

I forgot all about my blog posting today because I'm fixated on an upcoming visit to The Cloisters, one of the museum branches of The Metropolitan Museum in NYC. I'm visiting the city next weekend for BookCon and plan to take this side trip while I'm there.

I've been totally fascinated by my research since the museum that houses medieval art is also built from remnants of medieval chapels and monasteries brought over from Europe. How cool is that, to build a new structure of older pieces? It looks amazing.

A book I set at Poitiers
And for those of you who might be newer to my stories, you might not know that I've written for Harlequin Historicals in the past-- all medieval books. For Blaze, I did  a Viking era story too. But mostly my historicals are set in the Middle Ages. The Knight's Courtship was set at the Eleanor of Aquitaine's court in Poitiers, and I remember I had an image based on the keep at Poitiers as a screensaver the year I worked on that one. And... one of the cool things I discovered today in my research is that The Cloisters has the original work on site for me to see with my own eyes next week! I'm way too thrilled about all of this. They have the Unicorn Tapestries there too, which you might recognize.
My bookshelves are full of medieval stuff... and castles!

I love museums though... I could spend tons of time browsing and reading. I know it's not everyone's cup of tea, but I think it's a rocking good time. When my husband took me to see a Waterhouse exhibit in Montreal in 2010, it was one of my favorite days ever. I came home with a huge commemorative poster of one of Waterhouse's Lady of Shalott paintings that is a favorite item in my office. I'm not sure what I'll be able to get for a keepsake next weekend since I'll have to cart it home on a train, but I'm looking forward to the museum gift shop too.

To make up for my slowness getting my blog posted today, I'm going to offer up two copies of my April Desire, Expecting a Scandal, to random commenters! Just share with me what you think of museums. Are you a fan? Do you have a favorite exhibit or place to visit? Or does the idea of staring at tapestries give you hives??

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Tour @AuthorKristina Knight’s Workspace

We have a move in our future, and that move has me all kinds of stressed out. Not the move itself, but I’ve been finding myself getting sucked into design boards on Pinterest and more interested than usual in those home renovation shows on cable TV.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my office. It’s got the basics: a great desk with plenty of space and room for all my ‘must haves’ – like the LEGO village on one of my shelves.

One of my favorite things: An old mason jar with a handle that I’ve put my ‘idea stuff’ inside. There is a suede tassel keychain, a handful of dice, some random buttons, a piece of spiraled jewelry wire, with even more buttons. When I’m finding myself stressed out or not knowing which way to go with whatever manuscript I’m working on, I reach into the jar and grab something. I think it’s the texture of the different items that gets my mind going, but after pawing through the jar a few minutes, I usually have direction. And, if I don’t, I keep pawing, because half the battle when you’re stuck is just staying in the chair.

Still, there are things I would do differently if I could, and things I’m looking for in our new home. Like built-in bookshelves. Like just a smidge more space, because my office usually also doubles as a guest room for either my mom or my brother when they are visiting. And I’d also love a really great office chair. I don’t have to wait until we move for the office chair, but it’s something I’m definitely putting at the top of my list for the new space. New office chair.

Do you have a home office? What is your favorite thing in your office? 

Kristina Knight's latest release is Perfect on Paper, a friends to lovers novella.

Nicholas Vega started ManServants as a way to make extra cash in college; five years later, his business is bigger than he ever imagined. And it's in trouble. An angry ex-client wants to sue because one of his employees didn't sleep with her. To keep things going, Nick takes on a client of his own - his best friend Daisy MacIntosh.

Daisy needs a boyfriend in a bad way. Her current boss - and ex-lover - has planned a retreat and makes no bones about wanting her back in his bed, at least for the weekend. Daisy wants a barrier between them, and an on-paper boyfriend seems like the best idea.

The problem? Once they're playing at being in love, their fictional relationship might blow their real life friendship out of the water.

Buy the Book: Amazon  B&N  iBooks  KOBO

Monday, May 21, 2018

Lara Temple: Learning how to let go.

Some years ago, before I became a published author I decided to go back to University and learn something for the pure pleasure of it. I already had my degrees, my career, my family but I was restless and I needed something for me, and I thought going back to study something completely unrelated to my career would be a good idea.

So I began a master’s degree in philosophy and I loved it. It was utterly different from doing my degrees in my twenties – then I was panicked about the future, worried about debt, and so outrageously serious about everything I wonder I didn’t strain a mental muscle on a daily basis. This time around there was nothing at stake but some pride and my scarce free time. And I loved it.
But then something marvelous happened and I began my other career as a published author with Harlequin Mills & Boon and suddenly every moment I had free was dedicated to writing. I kept telling myself – just a ‘little’ effort to get your thesis done and you can finish your degree. But as time went my thesis languished, abandoned in favor of my new passion – passion.

Last week I received a stern reminder from the university – either submit the #$%# thesis or give up (no they didn’t curse, but I did). Or as my friend told me – cut the superwoman crap – the only thing coming out of not admitting you can’t do it is guilt. You’re ruining something you really enjoyed and which enriched your life by feeling guilty about it.

And that is what convinced me to let go – slowly but surely my memories of something wonderful, that really helped me add pleasure to my life, are being submerged by it being added to life’s To Do list. So I am officially removing it, letting it go. I feel bad, I feel sorry, but I’m clearing out that drawer.

Because sometimes, if you really love something, you have to let it go…

Now I can get back, a little lighter, to what I really love doing –writing romance.

Wild Lords:
#3: Lord Stanton’s Last Mistress:
#2: Lord Ravenscar’s Inconvenient Betrothal:
#1: Lord Hunter’s Cinderella Heiress:

Author Contact Links
Facebook Author Page:
Twitter: @laratemple1
Amazon author page:

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Me and my BFF Prince Charles by Jenny Gardiner

Wanted to share with you a post I put up after William and Kate married---seemed good timing after the lovely royal wedding we all got to enjoy yesterday from our sofas! Wasn't it a beautiful, beautiful day? So happy for them both. Anyhow, here's a story about my encounter with Prince Charles (back when he didn't look so darned old!):

Watching the royal wedding brought back memories from long ago, my one and only brush with royalty…

It was 1990, I was pregnant with my first child. I was working as a photographer in Washington, DC and my husband and I had gone to Florida for a business trip he had to take. A few months earlier, I'd contacted the British Embassy after having read about an upcoming garden party; I figured any self-respecting garden party would need a photographer so I pitched my services.

The charming press person at the time politely told me they had a photographer but would take my name for future events, should they arise. I figured that was the last I would hear from them.

Fast forward a few months later, to a dingy hotel room in Bradenton, Florida. My husband had to attend a carnival trade show because a product his company produced was being knocked off and used as carny prizes. He'd hoped to persuade those attending the show to buy the legitimate product, rather than ripping his company off. 

Now, if you've ever gone to a carnival, you can probably conjure up images of your average carny type: Seedy-looking men, missing and rotting teeth, grizzled faces. There's usually an all-around feel of felons-freshly-sprung-from-prison about the place, coupled with the aroma of years-old trans-fat sizzling away in vats awaiting a plunge from a 1000-calorie corn dog or maybe a fried twinkle, perhaps a grease-sopped funnel cake if you're lucky. 

Well, the difference between a carnival and a carnival trade show (at least 20-some years ago) is simply that the grease isn't as old. Same creepy people, same vile food, same crappy products. So we were coming off a relaxing day amidst the seedier element of society, and were relaxing at the hotel when I decided to check our voice mail.

Back then we'd only recently gotten an answering machine. I know this sounds crazy, but they were newfangled devices then. Technologically-stunted as I've always been, I'd barely figured out how to check our messages on the thing before we left for our trip. And while gone, one morning before embarking on our carnival trade show expedition, I called home to see if we had any messages. Which was when I heard the voice mail from a Gareth So-and-So from the British Embassy, asking if I was interested in an upcoming event. He needed an answer immediately.

Of course I called back pronto. Remember, there were no cell phones back then. Wait, there were. When I worked on Capitol Hill in the 80's I'd gone to a hair salon near the White House and remember seeing an Important Looking Man lugging a small suitcase in one hand, holding a phone receiver attached to the suitcase by a long coiled cord, with the other. This was back when we had rooms devoted to "mainframes" to operate computers in offices. How far we've come in so short a time…) But making long-distance calls from anywhere other than home was a cumbersome process back then: using a calling card, you had to dial about 70 numbers without screwing up the number sequence and then get connected to some remote operator or bell tones, enter in another 20 digits and maybe then you'd be connected to your number. Amazingly I dialed through successfully, and got hold of Gareth before he'd found another photographer. 

"Hallo," he said to me in a gorgeous clipped British accent. I don't care what one looks like, when you speak with that accent it erases all flaws instantly. I swooned over the phone. In a professional manner, of course. 

"I have a job you might be interested in," Gareth told me. I figured maybe another garden party, one of those things where women wear silly hats (Princes Beatrice, anyone?)

"His Royal Highness will be coming to Washington and there are several events for which we need a photographer."

I tried hard to maintain my composure and not choke. His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales. Needed me. Prince Charles, then the celebrated man of the hour, considered studly despite his jug ears (and yes, they are quite juggy). They needed me, humble and pregnant me, to shoot Prince Charles (with a camera of course). 

I tried to remain cool, as if often I was invited to be the official photographer of the most famous royal (next to his then-wife Princess Diana). 

I told Gareth I needed to check my schedule, and pretended to leaf through my sad-sack calendar, the dinky 4" x 4" ones you used to get for free at the Hallmark store (yep, electronic calendars were years away). And of course I instantly jumped at the chance, no doubt appearing pathetically excited and simpering about the prospect of this brush with British royalty.

I was, as I said, pregnant. At that time speculation abounded that Diana and Charles were going for a girl, and rumors were running amok that she was indeed pregnant. I pondered drumming up some small talk with Chuck about his pregnant wife (a presumptuous leap on my part), what with us having so much in common, I knew we were bound to be BFFs. Fortunately I opted out of that tack. Because it wasn't long after that that we all learned that Charles had been clandestinely telling his extramarital fling Camilla he yearned to be her tampon or maxi pad or something equally abhorrent. Clearly he wouldn't have been keen dishing on Di with me when he was fantasizing about being inside Camilla's knickers (literally). 

My husband never once wanted to come along on my photo shoots (particularly the dull ones, like the American Institute of CPAs; can't blame him, though those CPAs were a lovely group). Even my Liz Taylor shoot he shunned. But he jumped at the chance to be my assistant for the royal visit.

Prior  to undertaking the job, we got a mini-lesson on dealing with the Prince--i.e. avoid dealing with the Prince. No handshaking, speak to him only when spoken to, that sort of thing. 

I was told the Prince always had a group photo taken with his equerry staff (the cadre of helpers who travel with him everywhere to be sure someone puts the toothpaste on his toothbrush, I guess). So we assembled the group amidst the splendor of the British Embassy, an elegant building filled with stunning artwork. We had the men lined up in two rows, some seated, some standing. 

"I need all of the men seated to place your hands in your laps," I instructed them. 

"Your own laps," my able-bodied spouse interjected, to the horror of the embassy staff. 

For a minute, I waited for someone to run up and tell us we were fired from the job. But then Charles placed his hand over his mouth and…laughed. It was a very royal sounding laugh, a ha-ha-ha rather than an all-out guffaw. But enough so that I knew the job hadn't slipped through our fingers, and for my husband to this day to be able to stake his claim on having gotten Charles to chuckle.

Shame Charles and Di never did end up being our BFFs, no double-dating, naming each other our kids' godparents. But we'll always have Charles' chuckle. 

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:

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, May 15, 2018

The Little Camellia That Could by Michelle Styles

About 20 years ago, I planted a camellia in the garden. It was in flower then from what I can recall and was a Mothering Sunday present from my three very young children.. I thought it was in a good spot.
I have always liked camellias and so was delighted to have one in a garden where I knew I’d be around for a long time. We had always had camellias in the garden when I was growing up -- there were one of my mother's and grandmother's favourite flowers. They always remind me of California. After getting married, I moved to Northumberland England, near Hadrian's Wall.  I looked forward to blooming again as it was a thoughtful gift.
The camellia out May 2018
 Year after year, I’d wait for it to bloom and it never did.  I added a second camellia (a white one) and planted it next to the camellia whose blossoms I could no longer really recall. 
I blamed the frost, the fact that where we live is probably on the edge of its growth zone. The plants kept getting larger and putting on more leaves but no flowers.
This year, my husband said enough was enough. Even though we had the space, it had not done anything there and it probably would not survive transplanting. So I took some cuttings to see if I could salvage it that way.
Then on Sunday, I went down to see how the rhododendrons were doing and to my amazement, the camellia was actually flowering!  It had taken a long time but it was worth it. The white camellia is also about to bloom.
It may be that it isn’t the best spot for them and I do have the cuttings I started to try again somewhere else, but I finally camellias blooming in my garden.
And this minor miracle showed resilience and persistence on the camellias’ part. Sometimes, it just does take patience. I think it is a metaphor my writing  -- never give up and keep doggedly trying.
In other news:
My editor let me know that they are buying my 27th historical romance for Harlequin Historical – another Viking set romance and we agreed the idea I should be pursuing for the 28th one. More details as and when I get them.

Michelle Styles writes warm, witty and intimate historical romance for Harlequin Historical in a wide range of time periods, most recently Viking. Her latest The Warrior's Viking Bride was published in March 2018 and received 4 stars from the RT magazine. You can learn more about Michelle and her books at 

Monday, May 14, 2018

Christina Hollis—Springing Forward Into Summer

This has been a year full of challenges. First, the weather took a turn for the worse. The winter had been long and gloomy, but not especially harsh. Then in March, when we might have expected signs of spring to come thick and fast, England was attacked by what the media called the Beast from the East. Feet of snow fell in a matter of hours and for days the thermometer was stuck well below freezing. You can find out more about that here. I'm glad to say it feels more like spring as I'm writing this—and about time, too!

Find out more at
My second challenge was to start a new blog. Computers really aren't my thing, so I'm careering along on a learning curve so steep, it's almost vertical. I'd love to know what you think of My series You Can Write! has been exploring the ways writers can combat the fallow patches that every author experiences. One interesting method is by attending a refresher course such as the Explorers workshops run by Libertà Books. The tutors, Joanna Maitland and Sophie Weston, are both successful authors who have each written many best-selling novels. Despite their great careers, they know what it's like when the words just won't come. The ideas they share really are drawn from what they call their 'blood-stained experience'.

You Can Write! continues next week, with a piece on the differences in approach between writing for pleasure, and profit.

Who could resist this? Not me, that's for sure!
May is my birthday month, which brought both pleasure and pain. Nobody likes getting older, and I've found my battle to maintain a healthy weight gets harder and harder as the years go by. This year, DD's present to me was a wonderful feast prepared by Waitrose Entertaining. The centrepiece was a big red- berry cheesecake, which made a lovely contrast to my triple chocolate birthday cake. Now you can see why I have such a struggle with my weight! Luckily, my husband also gave me a perfect present. It was a new treadmill, to replace the one I wore out a couple of years ago and never got around to replacing.

Now I have no excuse. If I want to eat cake, I have to put in the miles on the treadmill beforehand.

It's been a long time since I last poured myself into a bikini. That's not going to happen again any time soon, but I might manage to make it into a one-piece swimming costume before the summer is over!

Christina Hollis writes contemporary fiction starring complex men and independent women. Harlequin published six of her historical novels under the pen name Polly Forrester, then her first Mills and Boon Modern Romance, The Italian Billionaire’s Virgin, was published in 2007. Since then, she has written 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, walking her dog, or working on her garden.

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

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

Sunday, May 13, 2018

One Thing Leads to Another...

I started back to school this year.  I took Ceramics I and Ceramics II.  I signed up for Ceramics Independent Study in the fall.  My first term we had assignments, but the second term was pretty much trying what interested us.  I gave myself a theme for the term...folk art.  It's the kind of art I gravitate to.  I focused on faces and nature.  Lots of trees, santas and even the quilt to your right (which was sized to fit over the electric panel at camp).

 But all the playing with textures and some underglaze painting left me wanting to know more.  I started looking at the world around me with new eyes.  I noticed textures in a way I never had.  One thing Lead to another

I started studying folk art.  My father-in-law was an artist, though he'd never have called himself that.  We have a cabinet full of santas that he carved and painted.  I tried to recreate his designs at first, but then I tried some of my own. I incorporated the trees I'd been studying with the fact I spend a lot of my summers splitting wood for the next winter and added a dash of my FIL's santas and that study of faces.  One thing leads to another.

And that idea of one thing leading to another is still playing out.  I'm going to start throwing clay on a wheel.  To date I've only hand-built my projects.  And I'd done a bit of underglazing on those, using them as paints.  So I wondered how I could make my painting better.  I'm envisioning a line of cups with rural scenes.  Now, I have no intention of being a fine art painter, but folk art...I wanted to explore that in order to add that dimension to next terms class. 
 I started out decorating some clementine orange boxes and then branched out to some small 8"x8" canvases.  I'm seeing some improvement and I'm hoping I can come close to replicating some aspects of these in my ceramics.

 Yes, one thing leads to another.

And this year's classes lead to an article in Romance Writers' Report, and my first workshop on Lifelong Learning, and I started a new book where this year's classes might be coming into play...

One thing lead to another.

I think it's a good way to live life.  Learn something new and then have that lead to learning something else.

I have a friend who calls me Renaissance Woman.  I will confess, I smile every time she posts something to me.  I am an expert at very few things, but I do so love learning new bits and pieces.  All of those feed into my writing.

I've wanted to take a ceramics class for a long time. You can see that yearning in Just One Thing.  Maybe that one thing lead to another and here I am.

I hope you all find something that enthralls you!


PS To all the Moms out there...Happy Mother's Day!

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In Erie, you can find my books on the shelf at Werner Books! Stop in, check them out and tell them I said hi!

Wednesday, May 09, 2018

That scandalous runaway bride - Kandy Shepherd

Have you ever experienced a moment where you realise the action you take next might very well become a defining point of your life? 

For Nikki Lucas, the heroine of my July release for Harlequin Romance, Best Man and the Runaway Bride, that moment comes when she realises she simply can’t go ahead with her wedding. Despite all the expectations of her friends and family—not to mention the groom!—she decides to bail. She begs best man Max Conway to help her flee from the wedding—straight into scandal

North America edition

 It’s bad enough she ran away from her wedding, but handsome Max is one of the world’s top tennis players and a celebrity. People are convinced they’d been having an affair!

The repercussions of that impulsive decision change everything for Nikki and Max—and gets right in the way when love starts to blossom.

Australia and New Zealand edition
Have you ever made an impulsive decision that changed your life? A relationship? A job? Travel? Thirty years ago, I went out on a limb to hire someone for a job on a magazine where I worked. Little did I know that her room-mate would become my husband!

Please leave a comment, I’d love to hear from you! If you want to be in the draw to win a signed paperback copy of Best Man and the Runaway Bride, also include your email address.

Kandy Shepherd’s Best Man and the Runaway Bride is a July 2018 release from Harlequin Romance in North America; Mills & Boon True Love in the UK; and Mills & Boon Forever Romance 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 FacebookTwitter,Pinterestand Instagram

Wednesday, May 02, 2018

Fun Times Ahead ! By: Susan Sands

Hello Friends! I hope the weather has finally calmed down where you are. Here in Georgia, we are all
coughing and sneezing our way through record high pollen counts. But on the positive side, things are blooming and turning green, and it's beautiful!

Here at the Sands' household, it's become all about graduation! My daughter is graduating from high school this month, and that means invitations, pictures, baccalaureate, grad parties, and caps and gowns! But it also means AP Exams, finals, and lots of stress!

My girl is heading to college in the fall, and already has three roommates lined up. So, let the shopping commence! She's my third child, so none of this is new to me besides becoming an empty nester. I'm a little concerned about that part of it, but am thrilled for her and her new exciting adventures. Fortunately, she will only be two hours away, so it will be an easy drive. 

So, then there's the writing... Yes, I'm writing almost every day. Something new and very different. I'm not sure exactly where it's headed in the end, whether it will have secondary romantic storyline, or if it will be mostly Southern mystery/women's fiction. Either way, it's a new journey that's challenging my writing skills in new ways. I'm hoping to publish another story later this year as well. I will keep you posted!

I signed books at Star Line Books in Chattanooga, TN for Independent Bookstore day on Saturday, April 28th, and had a blast. What a fun city! My friend Rosalind Bunn, a fellow Atlanta (children's) author and I drove in for the day.

Enjoy your spring, if you've had one so far. I know I'll be complaining about the heat very soon!