Monday, October 29, 2018


I'm so pleased to be here and to introduce my brand new series from Tule Publishing--Four Irish Brothers Winery. The Flaherty brothers, Sean, Brendan, Conor, and Aidan have inherited their family's historic winery in the picturesque town of River's Edge, Indiana, from their recently deceased father. The first book, A SMALL TOWN CHRISTMAS is Conor Flaherty's story. I hope you enjoy meeting the Flaherty brothers and find some sweet romantic moments with them. 
Winemaker and single father Conor Flaherty is determined to make this Christmas holiday special for his daughter even though his family’s winery, Four Irish Brothers, is facing some challenges.
High-octane Chicago attorney Samantha Hayes is looking forward to some delicious food, fine wine, small town charm, and a break from her hectic big city life when she agrees to do a favor for her boss and help his younger brother with a lawsuit that’s been slapped on his family’s historic winery in River’s Edge. She’s not expecting that her sexy new client will have a smile that will melt her heart and remind her that there’s more to life than work.
Sam falls hard for Conor, his daughter and the small, friendly town, but can she trust her instincts and risk her heart? Sam hasn’t seen a lot of happy-ever-afters in her life, but Conor and the magic of Christmas make her want to believe.

Nan Reinhardt is a USA Today-bestselling author of romantic fiction for women in their prime. Yeah, women still fall in love and have sex, even after 45! Imagine! She is a wife, a mom, a mother-in-law, and a grandmother. Nan has been a copyeditor and proofreader for over 25 years, and currently works on romantic fiction titles for a variety of clients, including Avon Books, St. Martin’s Press, Kensington Books, Tule Publishing, and Entangled Publishing, as well as for many indie authors.

Although she loves her life as an editor, writing is Nan’s first and most enduring passion. She can’t remember a time in her life when she wasn’t writing—she wrote her first romance novel at the age of ten, a love story between the most sophisticated person she knew at the time, her older sister (who was in high school and had a driver’s license!), and a member of Herman’s Hermits. If you remember who they are, you are Nan’s audience! Her latest novel, A Small Town Christmas, which is the first book in the Four Irish Brothers Winery series from Tule Publishing, releases on October 29, 2018.

Visit Nan’s website at, where you’ll find links to all her books as well as blogs about writing, being a Baby Boomer, and aging gracefully…mostly. Nan also blogs regularly at Word Wranglers, sharing the spotlight with five other romance authors and is a frequent contributor the RWA Contemporary Romance blog, and she contributes to the Romance University blog where she writes as Editor Nan.

Twitter: @NanReinhardt
Talk to Nan at:

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

January Isn't the Only Fresh Start Time ~ @AuthorKristina Knight

We're fully into fall here on the North Coast. Chilly mornings, blustery winds, a little snow. School. Which means I'm back at my keyboard with purpose, because when she's home - even though I make a point to hit my word goals - I'm never fully into my writing. There are more interruptions. There are more distractions. There are more...well, everything. More cookies to be baked, more movies to be watched, move video games to be played. More conflict over brushing teeth, making beds, not having our faces stuck in our tablets all day.

I love having her home over school breaks, but I also love it when she's back in school, and the regularly scheduled programming of our life syncs back up. Which brings me to the point of this post: you don't have to wait for New Year's Day to reset your goals, your priorities, your...anything. The beautiful thing about goals, about objectives is that they can be started on a random Monday...or, heck, a Friday. We simply have to do the reset.

Just do it.

Way back in the 80s, Nike started the 'Just Do It' campaign, most of which featured Michael Jordan. As a kid, I loved those commercials. As an athlete, I loved those commercials. As a human who has a bit of a procrastination habit...I didn't love them. I didn't want to get up early to run on our little country road. I didn't want to be serious all through volleyball practices (and too often I wasn't serious enough). I didn't want to write that paper on Moby Dick and I didn't want to dissect that frog in biology.

Michael's (well, Nike's) message was that none of us really want to put in the extra time. But that putting in the extra time is what leads us to the rewards of a great game played, of an extra special vacation with the family, of knowing that we've done our best.

As an adult, there are still things I don't want to do. I still don't want to get up early to run (especially in the winter months) or dance. I don't want to not drink a Coke when I want. I don't want to do the laundry or make the beds or clean the bathroom. I don't always want to shut the world away and write my words for the day. But I like the feel of the house when the rooms are straightened and I like how I feel about myself when I hit that 2500 word daily goal by 11 am and I like that my jeans fit better when I haven't had an extra 1000 calories of soda in my diet. And so, I hear Michael Jordan's voice in my head when I don't want to do the things that I know I should do...and I just do them. I get up a little early to exercise, and I limit my soda intake, and I sit down to write my words...because those are things that I can control. Those are things that I can do to make myself the best Kristina that I can be.

Michael has a newer commercial, too, and I think I like the message of this one even more than the commercial because it asks question instead of demanding an answer. It's a "what if" question - what if his name wasn't in lights?

I like it because it's true. As writer, we don't have cheering stadiums filled with people cheering us on. We face the keyboard alone most days, and if we don't, no one is there to catch us. It can be easy to fall into the 'I'll write twice as much tomorrow' or 'I don't think this story is going anywhere, anyway' ruts. But what if, instead of letting those ruts take hold, we act a little bit more like Michael (or to use a star from the romance world, a little more like Nora) and just sit down and write? Sit down and edit? Sit down and do the things that we know have to be done for us to live the lives we want to live?

What is your 'what if'? 

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?

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

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Refilling the Well

I know some people who roll the eyes when I say that I need to refill the well and I’m not truly sure why. They are probably the same people who laugh when I talk about my affirmations and I’ve always said ‘writing is fun and easy for me’.  

To be fair neither of these things are quantifiable or actually concrete. One of them is just a feeling I get when I have been writing a lot, which I love to do, but after a while I’m feeling …empty.  It’s not that I avhe writer’s block and that I don’t have any ideas to take to the page, it’s more like I don’t have any creative joy.  That I need to remind myself of the things that make me happy.

I’ve always striven (strived?) for balance in my life.  When my kids were little I was committed to being focused and “there” for them during my time with them.  And the same in my marriage.  When my husband and I are together I put my phone down and focus on us.  It’s hard to keep a relationship healthy when you never make eye contact or talk or laugh together. 

Writing has always been harder for me to balance.  I think because at first I was doing it in every spare second I could find while working full time and figuring out how to parent an infant, but then when it became my job, I had that fear that if I slowed down, I’d forget what I was doing and that the publishers would forget me.

So balance was never something I came close to achieiving with writing. And honeslty, I’m happiest when I’m sitting at my desk creating characters and building their world. Forcing them to face fears that I myself would probably just find a way around, but in my little fiction world, I feel safe exploring them.  

Refilling the well brings me back to joy and a source of contentment.  Sometimes I read to refill the wlel, other times I eat something I’ve been craving or cook. Or call my mom and have a video chat with her and my dad. They make me laugh so hard some times. Always talking to my kids refills my well and sometimes something as small as reaching for my husband’s hand while we are at a party does it.

Other times I get out of the house taking Godiva on a walk and just enjoying nature or on the opposite end of the spectrum treat myself to a day out shopping.

The thing with refilling the well for me is that I’ve built it into my writing process so instead of staring at a blank page while I stress out about a deadline I get up and do one of these things that refills my creativity and then I come back to the page much happier and more productive.

What do you do to refill the well?

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Tule Book Club's Holiday Kickoff Party! - by Dani Collins

I'm usually one of those people who says Christmas decorations shouldn't go up in stores until after Remembrance Day (Nov 11th, which I think you call Veteran's Day in the US.) I still recall my throat rasping gasp the first time I saw a department store putting up Christmas trees before Halloween.

So I am overstepping my own boundaries by promoting this holiday launch party on Oct 16th, but that's today. And it's fun

Here's who you'll find there (all times are PST):

4:00: Trish Milburn
4:15: Erika Marks
4:30: Patty Blount
4:45: Nan Reinhardt
5:00: Paula Altenburg
5:15: Vella Munn
5:30: Kaylie Newell
5:45: Jeannie Watt
6:00: Melissa McClone
6:15: Dani Collins   <-----Me!
6:30: Shelli Stevens
6:45: Katharine Schwartz
7:00: Joss Wood

That's a kick-butt line-up of authors, right? And technically we're celebrating upcoming holiday releases, but mostly it's an excuse to get together with readers and chat books and recipes and romance.

You need to join Tule's Book Club to join the party. I hope you will! We'd love to see you there.

I'll be chatting about my Nov 8th release, a wholesome and heartwarming Christmas story called Wedding at Mistletoe Chalet. Yes, there's a wedding. And mistletoe! And a chalet! There's also a sheepdog who likes to roll in the snow, a guitar-playing doctor hero who thinks it's funny when moose do people stuff, a tween organizing a vow renewal for her parents, and a heroine falling back in love with her first love. Plus holiday cheer and did I mention the wedding?

Come to the party and I'll share more holiday secrets along with some fun giveaways...

Monday, October 15, 2018

Michelle Styles: A Roman era set book and its author Jenni Fletcher

As long time readers of this blog may recall, my first published book for Harlequin Historical was a Roman set historical The Gladiator’s Honor. It was the first time Harlequin (or indeed any major publisher) had published a romance set in that. I now write other ears, mainly Vikings, but Harlequin has a few intrepid authors who have taken up the baton and started writing in that era. First Greta Gilbert and now Jenni Fletcher.
I asked Jenni to explain about how she came to write her book, The Warrior’s Bride Prize. She also kindly allowed me to read it. A happy evening of reading ensued and if you love historical romances which really capture the time period and make you feel like you are there, read Jenni’s latest.
If you are more interested in other time periods, Jenni writes Victorian and Medieval for HH as well. You can learn more about Jenni by visiting her website. 
Here is what Jenni wrote about how she got the idea:
 The idea for my new book The Warrior's Bride Prize first came to me in the heart of Wordsworth country, wandering around the ruins of a Roman fort on the outskirts of Ambleside in the Lake District. Honestly, it would have been hard not to feel inspired, standing on the shores of Lake Windermere in the autumn sunshine, surrounded by so much history and breathtaking scenery, although at the time I was busy with a Victorian story. Nonetheless, I allowed myself to get distracted briefly, imagining a tale about an aristocratic Roman lady travelling to the edge of the Empire and meeting a Pictish warrior.
     At the time, however, I wasn't ready. So I went home and wrote two other books, but the idea of a Roman-set romance never completely left me. Over time, the particulars of the story changed. I watched King Arthur with Keira Knightley and my heroine turned from an aristocrat into the daughter of a Caledonian former slave, while my hero changed allegiance completely and became Roman. The action shifted inland too, staying on Hadrian's Wall, but moving closer to Corbridge and Chesters Roman fort, where the second half of the story is set. 
     What really inspired me to start writing, however, was a visit to the Eboracum Festival in York in 2017. I loved the enthusiasm of the re-enactors (one of whom turned out to be my son's ukelele teacher) as well as meeting lots of Roman authors, all of whom were so inspired by their subject.So I started to write, but after a while I got bogged down in detail. There was so much research to do, not least in terms of military history, which was more complex than I'd imagined. Eventually I had a rough draft, but something wasn't quite right. I couldn't put my finger on the problem exactly, but I knew it had something to do with the atmosphere. I could see my book, but I couldn't feel it. 
     For me, geography is integral to a story (I often think of locations before characters) but for this book that statement was truer than ever. My husband suggested we take a trip north to Hadrian's Wall and once we reached it, everything fell into place. I stood on the edge of the wall, which was even more impressive than I'd remembered from school trips, and imagined how it might have looked almost two thousand years ago. That was when my characters - Livia and Marius - really made sense to me. I wrote another draft and I was finally happy. Which meant that they could have their happy-ever-after too!
     So that's how this story happened. It was probably the hardest thing I’ve ever written, but in retrospect (now the difficult part is over) that makes it extra special to me. It's my small contribution to the Roman genre and I hope you enjoy it too.

Michelle Styles writes warm, witty and intimate historical romance in a wide range of time periods. Her next Viking Sent as the Viking’s Bride will be published on 18 December 2018. To learn more about Michelle and her books, visit

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Christina Hollis: How To Submit Your Writing...

From This... (Pic via Pixabay)
Whether you’re sending off your novel, or entering a writing competition, the first thing to do is RTFM. That’s customer-service-speak for Read The Flipping Manual.

As part of my day job, I’m a Reader of Manuscripts. I love helping other writers—especially the ones who make my job easier by following the rules for submission. These are designed to ensure a writer's work is easy to read.  

Generalisation is usually a bad thing, but after reading hundreds of  manuscripts in my time here's one I've found to be true:

People who can't be bothered to follow instructions can't be bothered to write a good book.

Well-presented work suggests a writer who pays attention to details. They're more likely to put into practice the things they've learned from writing workshops, courses, and how-to books. 

Make sure your Reader smiles rather than groans when they pick up your work by following these tips!

Overture and Beginners
Once your work is as good as you can make it, go through it again. You want to be absolutely sure there are no spelling mistakes or grammatical errors. 

Then check the requirements of its destination, whether that’s going to be a publisher, agent, or competition. Remember—these are instructions, not an invitation to improvise. 

You’d be amazed how many people see clear instructions as a challenge, rather than rules. Their online entries are deleted straight away. If they’ve sent in a paper copy their work will be shredded without being read, unless they’ve included return postage. The same goes for those who either forget to include their contact details when submitting to publishers or agents, or conversely make their competition entries identifiable. That’s tough, but fair on all those who have taken the time and trouble to do as they were instructed. 

...To This! (Pic via Pixabay)
Be the One in Ten...
...who gets it right. If a competition has a thousand entrants, up to 90% of them may have sent in work that’s unreadable, poorly formatted or exceeds the required word count. No matter how brilliant their work, it won’t be considered.

That means a perfectly-presented piece will make it straight into the Top 100 before any judge has picked up their marker-pen. 

Give yourself the best possible chance of being on that initial long-list by using an easily-readable font and type size (Times New Roman 12 Point is a good starting point). Unless otherwise instructed, give your work a good margin all the way round, and use double line spacing. Whether you’re submitting on paper or online, number the pages consecutively. 

There—with hardly any effort on your part, you’ve made it onto a professional reader’s desk. How much further you get depends on your writing talent, and that one little thing nobody can guarantee.


Christina Hollis writes contemporary fiction starring complex men and independent women. She has written more than twenty 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 gardening.

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

Saturday, October 13, 2018

I'm back in my ceramics class and working at learning to throw on a wheel.  It's not easy.  Not easy at all.  I can't tell you how many pieces have gone caliwumpus (that's a technical term...LOL). But I sit back down at the wheel and try again. And again. And again.  I'm not sure if it's a passion for pottery or just plain stubbornness.  But there I am, clay splattered and trying.

The school will have an Empty Bowl fundraiser in the spring and I signed on to make 50 bowls.  I've got 49/50 right now.  I'm waiting on that last one to assess how they all come out of the kiln.  Then I'll make the last few.  

And I'm learning about finishing, too.  A finished bowl has a foot on it. It's not just decorative. It thins out the bottom of the bowl so it fires better, and it helps keep glaze on the bowl, not on the bottom of the kiln.  Real potters will pick up a piece and check the bottom to see how it's finished.  I guess the true mark of artistry is making something no one sees beautiful.

I like that thought.

Artistry can be something no one else really sees.

It's a nice thought that applies to real life.  I think we should all strive to be an artist at life. Doing kind things no one else will ever see or notice.  I like to think kindness is contagious. So while I'm working at getting better at pottery (my goal is to have my professor pick up a bowl and say, I'd use this) I think I'll try to get better at the artistry of life.  Doing small acts of kindness (maybe large acts of kindness LOL) and spewing kindness like I try to spew glee.  The world can always use a bit more kindness and glee!

Those 50 bowls I've promised to make turned into 51. So many people have asked for my pottery, I thought giving one away would be fun.  The problem with that is how to draw one name.  I've been doing more of my giveaways through my email list. So if you want a chance at a bowl, all you have to do to have your name in the hat (not a real hat LOL) is be signed up for my newsletter. You can do that here.  I'll draw in November.

As we all go out today, let's try to be artists of life and spread some kindness and glee!!


Don't forget my new release Polished Off: A Maid in LA Mystery is out! Check out Quincy's newest adventure!

Then go back to school with three PTA Moms.  There's a bonus short story included! Check out the PTA Mom Collection!!

Tuesday, October 02, 2018

TV, Movies, Books, Oh, My! Susan Sands

My husband probably doesn't enjoy watching television with me as much as he used to. I've gotten so  accustomed to figuring out the plot lines of every show or movie that often I can tell him who will die, when, and how it's going to end.

I try to keep quiet, but often I blurt out, "They're going to kill him." Or, "His character has become unredeemable, and therefore he will die." I guess story is story, no matter whether it's in a novel, a television series, or a movie. Especially commercial fiction.

Some types of fiction are less predictable, and I'm pleasantly surprised when I don't see "it" coming. I can appreciate that writer's creativity and vision. Don't get me wrong, I love watching all kinds of comedy, drama, romance, and suspense. We run the gamut with our screen time. Netflix, Amazon, and all the premium channels are well watched in our house.

The problem is that as a writer of fiction, I understand it's all been done. Sometimes very well, and others, not so much. There are certain beats to a story, story problems to solve, and black moments stemming from conflict that occur within a given novel, movie, etc. Not everyone does it the same, certainly, but the underlying core of storytelling helps a writer predict someone else's ending.

In the meantime, I will try not to be that obnoxious I told you so who yells out what's going to happen next. Because I like to be surprised and wrong, so I remain hopeful as I continue to watch all the fantastic new programming that keeps me coming back for more.

Happy reading and watching to all!!

Susan Sands

The Alabama Series by Susan Sands