Monday, July 30, 2018

When Clans Collide!

It seemed like a good idea at the time.... Those words usually spell doom or mayhem or a little of both! LOL! After dropping in enticing tidbits and mentions of a previous series' family (Clan MacLerie) into the current one I'm working on (A Highlander Feuding), I thought it would be great to write a crossover story. Great idea, right? Especially since the MacLeries have been very good to me in sales around the world -- TAMING THE HIGHLANDER has sold more than 300,000 copies in 20 languages! So, let's take a daughter from that series and match her up with a son from the current one.... Seemed like a good idea....

And it is a good one -- it just requires a lot of research and family trees and timelines and reviewing of past books and characters to make sure everyone is the correct age and time and place to meet up with the others. So, I broke out my sketchpad and lined paper to put the stories in chronological order and sort through the various heros and heroines and their connections.
The books include:

My character list looked something like this:

 I needed an appropriately-aged couple with a convenient backstory and I found Sheena MacLerie and Robbie Cameron. It was so exciting to begin to revisit the MacLeries - Connor MacLerie remained my all-time-favorite hero -- the Beast of the Highlands is back! Readers will learn more about the hero - whose father unexpectedly became chieftain of the powerful Clan Cameron in my 'A Highland Feuding' series -- in my upcoming book - A HEALER FOR THE HIGHANDER. Much to the surprise of everyone, there are now three contenders to inherit the chieftain's seat by the end of that book.

Do you like mixing/crossing connected series? Revisiting previous ones and discovering what the characters have been doing? Seeing the children grow up? I do, which is why I'm having such fun planning this story AND the next two. 

AND - which version of this spectacular cover do you like better? The US on the left or the UK on the right? 

I hope you'll let me know! 

Terri is hard at work finishing "Taming His Wee Highland Beastie" and celebrating the re-release of her steamy, emotional, dark and magical STORM series! Visit her website for more info and links to all her books! She'll have more exciting news about her contribution to the GHOSTS OF CULLODEN MOOR series that will release in September! 

Friday, July 27, 2018

Life List and Why to Have One

By Jillian Ross (as told to Joanne Rock), heroine of THE FORBIDDEN BROTHER

Long ago, I had heard of “life lists.” Some people called them bucket lists, but that’s simply another term for a list of things to accomplish/see/do in a lifetime. For me, that idea sounded pushy—another way to make me feel like I wasn’t achieving enough in an already packed-full existence.

But after a frightening health scare, I saw a “life list” in a brand-new light.

Maybe it’s because a scary diagnosis cuts through the noise of an average daily to-do list in a hurry. But suddenly, I didn’t feel the same pressure to tackle the spring cleaning or dazzle my boss with overtime. My priorities shifted, and I had a new clarity about how I wanted to spend my time. And it wasn’t working or cleaning.

Enter the life list. Or, in my case, my list of 100 Life Adventures—things I wanted to do, places I wanted to visit, experiences I wanted to have. When you are worried you don’t have much time left, you become more stingy in how you spend it. Now, I started making
travel plans to see the American West. That was a big thing I wanted to do along with watching a sunset on the Mediterranean. But my list is full of little things too. Buy an easel and paint whatever I want outdoors on a sunny day. Pick wildflowers and give bouquets to my neighbors just because. Window shop while wearing big Audrey Hepburn shades. Order the best wine off a menu.

My life list was fun to write because I spent time thinking about moments that would bring me joy.  Even anticipating the moments—visualizing them—brought a kind of joy. It made me realized that focusing on me was overdue. None of us know what tomorrow will bring. So why not live with joy, in search of happiness and new adventures, today?

Ready to try one? Here are my takeaways from writing my list:

Brainstorm long and hard. Don’t just take the first idea that comes to mind. Sure, you can write the first ten ideas quickly, but after that, stop and think about how you can refine them. And once you get past the first handful of ideas, dig deeper. This list isn’t something you write in a day. You come back to it again and again as you are inspired by the world and people around you. What life experiences do you want to have? What adventures have you seen other people undertake that make you wish you could do the same?

No limits. Don’t edit your ideas to fit your budget or lifestyle. Dream big! You can’t achieve your real aspirations if you aren’t honest with yourself about what you want.

Kick fear to the curb. It’s important not to let fear of failure hold you back. No one needs to know about your life list—there’s no judgement! Committing a dream to paper is the first step to making it happen, but you can’t let fear hold you back.

Be specific. Goals are stronger when they are measurable. So while it’s okay to add “make new friends” to your list, it’s even better to spell out ideas for the how and where. “Attend two book clubs at the library and hold meaningful conversations with at least three people” is a goal that gives the “make friends” idea more teeth! Help yourself with actionable steps to guide you toward the goal.

**Photographer and film location scout Jillian Ross tackles two of her goals on her list of Life Adventures when she visits Cheyenne, Wyoming and orders the best wine the local bar (The Thirsty Cow!) has to offer. That scene opens THE FORBIDDEN BROTHER, and sets up the meet between Jillian and local rancher Cody McNeill.

 So... What's the first thing you'd put on your life list? One random poster will receive a copy of Catherine Mann's The Twin Birthright

Monday, July 23, 2018

What I Love About My #Reading #Journal ~ @AuthorKristina Knight

For the past couple of years, I've been on a bit of an organization kick. I've blogged - probably too many times - about my love for my Happy Planner, and talked about goal setting, and shared my motivation/goal-inspired Words of the Year.

For the past two years I've added to those things a reader's journal. Initially, I used the journal because I was part of two different reading challenges (because when I decide to do something I usually go 'two' far). The first was a 50 books in 50 weeks challenge and the other a read/watch challenge in which I read a book and watched a movie/documentary/tv show all with the same theme -- themes like 'New Beginnings' and 'Retro' and 'Unusual'. 

I didn't do too badly on the reading challenges but quickly into it I realized I needed a way to keep track of what I'd read and what I still wanted to read and, since I "test" new authors by trying their books at the library first, a place to decide which books I wanted to add to my personal collection. Also, I wanted to think about what I was reading - what I liked/didn't like, how what I'm reading is changing my thoughts about...oh, everything and anything. That's when I found the Well Read Woman reading journal.

I found this little goodie at our local BooksAMillion, thumbed through it a little and realized this is exactly what I was looking for - a reader's journal with just enough direction. There is a place for the title and author (naturally) along with follow-up
books (assuming it's a series book) or just more books by that author that seem interesting. But, the journal also prompts for favorite quotes from the books, plot things I liked/didn't, and character things I liked/didn't.

But what I like best about this journal is the pictures. Samantha Hahn is the journal 'author' and along with the journaling part, she included her watercolors of famous literary women - Wendy from the Peter Pan books, Emma Bovary, Hester Prynne, Ophelia, and even little Mary Lennox from "The Secret Garden". There is also a quote from each book (y'all know how I love a favorite quote)...which led me to another reading challenge: re-reading books I loved as a child.

Do you like keeping track of favorite books/authors? How do you keep track of books that you've read?

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

Kristina Knight’s newest release, Perfect on Paper, is out now. Daisy MacIntosh needs a man, and any man will do. After being jilted by her ex - who is also her boss - she needs a date to the company retreat in Mexico. The only problem? Daisy doesn't have time to find a guy, and her ex is hinting that he'd like this work trip to become a reunion romance. Stepping in to become Daisy's pretend boyfriend isn't the best idea Nick Vega has had, but it's the only one he's got. But are they willing to risk their life-long friendship for a romance that might fizzle once they're back home?

Monday, July 16, 2018

Dani Collins - Book Clubs Anyone?

Have you ever belonged to a book club? 

I've been part of two, both of which I enjoyed, but ultimately let die off when participation began to wane.

The first was in my old home town. My kids were a toddler and an infant. I needed female company and something to stimulate my brain!

We kept the group to a small bunch of women with kids of similar ages, although one gal brought her mother aboard which was fun. She became a bit of a matriarch for all us newer mothers, putting the trials of early parenting into perspective.

We often called our club a 'food club' instead of a book club. We brought pot luck and ate very well.

I enjoyed the company, but I realized very quickly that I am not only a romance writer, I'm very much a romance reader. We read a lot of books I like to call 'Oprah picks.' Some of them were actual Oprah picks, but a lot of them were important books. You were supposed to learn something. Or feel challenged. Definitely, the goal was to have something to discuss.

My contribution tended to be, "Well, that was depressing."

They kindly read a romance--I can't recall which one--and we all agreed that it was well written and satisfying, but they craved literary books and I craved romance. When we began skipping a month here and there because of our busy schedules, I recused myself and a couple of the gals continued on with a new bunch.

I didn't expect to join a book club again, but we moved. I arrived in a new small town and my kids were in school. I was working from home that first year and I needed friends. I started meeting with a handful of women and this time we called it a 'wine club.'

But the books were the same. They were well written, not always depressing, but rarely my cup of tea. Or glass of wine, as it were.

I stuck with it. I think there's value in reading outside romance and exposing myself to different genres, different voices, different types of storytelling. I am on board with all of that.

However, I'm also on board with enjoying my reading experience, rather than, as I once heard it called, 'Eating my cultural vegetables.' Romance is my chicken soup, but I was forcing cod liver oil down my throat with each of these important books.

Eventually we devolved into meeting for a glass of wine and skipping the reading and discussion. Then children in sports and other life events dissolved even that. I miss the company, but I don't miss being told what to read.

I didn't think I would join another book club, but along came Tule Publishing's Book Club.

You can join on Facebook here.

I think I may have found 'just right.' First, it's devoted to Tule's books, which are awesome romances, all the time. Second, I can visit anytime it works with my schedule. And, I can talk about books even if I haven't read them yet. It's okay to say, "I can't want for this one!" Or, "No, spoilers! It's on my TBR." Finally, I know I already have friends here, but we're open to everyone. I hope you'll join us. See you there!

USA Today Bestselling author Dani Collins writes for Harlequin Presents, Tule's Montana Born and herself. Her next book is In Too Deep, Book Three in her Blue Spruce Lodge series. Trigg discovers he has a 12 yo daughter when her aunt, Wren, takes the manager's position at the lodge. Tween drama and family angst ensues with adult conflict, confrontation and sexy times.

Read more about In Too Deep here.