Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Let’s Take a Shelfie

by Joanne Rock

So I’m in a position where I need to reorganize my bookshelves. I realized that so much of how I organize books depends on how much space I have. When I have lots of room, I can afford to have more keeper shelves and maintain a broad collection of books from all my areas of interest. I have many shelves of the books I’ve written, the books I’ve written that are translated to other languages, shelves of friends’ books, and signed books. Plus there are books I organize by interest—medieval culture, castles, knighthood, medieval literature, the courtly tradition, the Pre-Raphaelites, mythology, psychology, world religions, literary novels, poetry, and the list goes on.

I love my bookshelves! Browsing is a joy, and I continually find old gems I haven’t looked at in a decade. If I had my choice, I’d leave them as is. But I’m consolidating homes after living in a few places of the last decade, and that means merging collections—and, worse, losing the home of the biggest, best bookshelves.

One of several shelves I had to dismantle.
Minimalist sensibilities might say that’s a great thing. Do less with more! And if it was anything in my life except for books, I’d agree with that idea. But we love books, don’t we? Parting with them is like saying goodbye to old friends.

First to go were books that weren’t favorites—works I’ve only read once and didn’t feel called to read again. That wasn’t so bad. But then there was the pairing down of my own foreign editions, which was hard because I had hoped to keep one of everything. Unfortunately, that wasn’t possible, so I mailed books to libraries all over the country, re-homing them.

Now, I’m in a period of stasis, trying to figure out what can go next. Most days I contemplate building more bookshelves in my new home to accommodate all the volumes. But in my more productive periods of organization, I try to choose the “best of” books from each favorite category. I don’t need all the books I have on mythology, so I pick my top two or three choices, and so on.

We’ll see if this yields a more manageable collection. For now, I can say that I have renewed appreciation for cyber bookshelves like those I have at Goodreads. Even if I no longer possess the physical copy of the book, I can keep track of what I’ve read there—when I remember to enter it. I also like that I can put a book on multiple shelves so that it’s not just a book poetry, it’s also a book by a friend and a book I read for book club. Having the ability to sort books into topical categories and specialized fields makes it easy for me to look up all the books I’ve read for book club or all the books I’ve consulted on Avalon.

But I’d love to know what you do! Do you keep track of books in a platform like Shelfari or Goodreads? Do you use a notebook and paper to list books you’ve read in a year or by series? And how to you keep your home shelf or shelves organized? Share with me here and I’ll give one reader a print copy of my Texas Playmaker story, THE PERFECT CATCH. Book #2 in that series is now available - GAME ON!

Monday, August 19, 2019

Ahhh, finally, the rains came…

I feel like the heat has had a death grip on us for too much of this summer—like it’s left bruised fingerprints around our necks as it strangles us with dire humidity.

Okay, enough with being literary. It’s freaking hot out here, people! I’m thrilled to be looking out the window at some rain, finally. Feel free to remind me of that next time I complain about too much rain, okay?

We’ve got a guest spending the week with us: our youngest started medical school (!) and has an intensive semester’s worth of biochemistry in two weeks so she sent her beloved Rosie back here to visit. We’ve missed Rosie (and Gillian) since they moved out last month, so we’re happy to have her. Though Rosie isn’t necessarily sure about this as now that she’s back, she’s being mauled by  our new puppy Pippa (they're half-sisters!), who has some seriously sharp teeth and knows how to use them (and fails to take social cues from dogs that they do not want to have their ears severed by puppy  teeth!).

Between bouts of bared teeth, they are having plenty of fun, though. I took them out back this morning before the heat broke and had them fetch tennis balls till their tongues lolled from the sides of their mouths like slices of bologna. Now they’re resting peacefully, and maybe I'll have a fleeting moment or two to actually  write a book. Highly unlikely, as Pip’s quite the demanding pup and loves to make sure I don’t get work done. Good thing I adore that girl!

If your demanding 4-legged or 2-legged babies are giving you a break, I hope you can find some time for end-of-summer reading. I’ve been engrossed with 
Ask Again, Yes. Author Mary Beth Keane (a homegirl UVA MFA grad!) has quite a gift for keen observations about everyday humanity. Unfortunately, this has caused  me to read until the wee hours, which does me no favors with our pup (and Rosie, natch) wake with the sun.

Happy end of summer and let’s keep our fingers crossed for some sweater weather soon!

Great news! I've got another free book for you to try! Falling for Mr. Wrong from the Falling for Mr. Wrong series is now free here:

Google Play

Also 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!

Skirt ChaserBoy Toy and Cabana Boy are available! And Bird Dog is available for pre-order!

Happy reading!




Thursday, August 15, 2019

Michelle Styles:Scents of Memory

They say that a scent  can evoke a past sensation or bring back a memory. But I wasn’t thinking about the past when I landed  for the first time in Cyprus. I was thinking about seeing my youngest son, about going on holiday with my husband and enjoying a new to me country. These feelings lasted all the way through passport control, car hire and up the steep and twisting mountain roads which led to the house in the Troodos mountains where my son had his  field research  base camp. I was looking forward to eating halloumi cheese, seeing Roman ruins, birdwatching and generally be with my son who has been away from home for awhile.
View from the balcony
When I emerged from the car to hug him, I noticed an oddly familiar pine scent hanging in the night air. Not an unpleasant one but one which called unexpectedly  to my long ago memories. As a child,  we had a cabin in the Sierra Nevada mountain range in California where we used to go and where I stopped going in about 1986. A wave of nostalgia welled up in inside me and unaccountably I felt like weeping. I put it down to tiredness and because the house was in a pine forest. The mountains can be the mountains anywhere in the world.
In another direction -- nothing like California at all.
The next morning when we went out to the field site. I looked down and saw that the soil with its faint reddish tinge also reminded me of the soil in California. All around me, a sunburnt pine resin smell floated.  A wave of homesickness interspersed with nostalgia such as I have not experienced for many a long year washed over me. After thirty plus years of living in the UK, I am normally immune to such things.
And still another view.
 As we walked around, and the terrain in many ways was very different to the Sierra Nevadas, I found myself thinking back and remembering about my childhood, and all the magical times I had up at the cabin. Things I had forgotten about. I had to sit down as the memories were far too vivid.  Luckily my husband and son were far too engrossed in birdwatching to realise. It was an unexpected chance to think about people who had long gone from my life.  But I kept quiet because I didn’t want my family to consider me odder than they normally do.  Then on the way back to the car, my husband exclaimed at how much it smelt like California. My shoulders relaxed and I explained. We both agreed that childhood scents, particularly if you have not smelt for a long while can evoke powerful memories.
Oaisis Taverna near Paphos which does
great traditional food
After the initial oh, I found the experience to be cathartic, my time in the mountains allowed me a chance to heal and renew. I found I was able to think about people who were long gone and appreciate the good times. I also found solace in simply sitting and staring out at the mountains. It made me realise how much I had missed being in the mountains. When we finally returned home, I felt rested in a way that I haven’t felt for years.
Roman mosaics at New Paphos
My question to you all  is  -- do other people have this happen? Go somewhere completely new and find old  half-forgotten memories rekindled?

As a side note: I did have some excellent halloumi cheese at a tiny taverna where I even encountered the goats who gave the milk! And the Roman mosaics in Paphos are some of the best in the world. Paphos is also where St Paul was tied to pillar and whipped in the Acts of the Apostles. Aphrodite is supposed to have come ashore near there as well.

My cover for  A DEAL WITH HE|R REBEL VIKING just arrived in my inbox. in case anyone is wondering the model's name is Carson and he is repped by Sutherland models. 

Michelle Styles writes warm, witty and intimate historical romance in a wide range of time periods for Harlequin Historical. Her next book A Deal with Her Rebel Viking will be published in December 2019. Visit to find out more about Michelle's books.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Christina Hollis: Happy Holidays!

My Alma Mater—Francis Close Hall at UoG
Next month I'll be returning for my second year as a mature student at the University of Gloucestershire. The terms whizzed by and the holidays passed even faster. I've gained such a lot from the experience, and had so much fun, I think everyone should try it!

I've already passed modules in Creative Studies, Genre Fiction and Phase One of the project that will become my dissertation. This coming semester I'm signed up for Research Methods. Then in the New Year I'll be studying the teaching of creative writing and starting an independent project. 

My independent project will link back to the Research Methods module. I live in the Forest of Dean, in Gloucestershire. The area has a rich industrial past, and the local people are proud of their background. The Dean Heritage Museum is an important resource for historians and writers. It's only a few miles from my house, so I'll be a constant visitor once the academic year begins.
Find out more at
Building on the work I did for my current release, the non-fiction book Struggle and Suffrage in Bristol, my projects will centre on the big changes in home life over the past one hundred years. I'm trying to gather as much information as I can in advance. This is where you come in! 

Do you have any memories of the long school holidays in the days before mobile phones and laptops? Over on my blog, I'm recalling the endless sunny days and the feasts of homegrown food. What did you and your friends get up to when you were let off the educational leash for weeks on end? 

Christina Hollis's first non-fiction book, Struggle and Suffrage in Bristol is published by Pen and Sword Books. You can find out more about that here, catch up with her at, on TwitterFacebook, and see a full list of her published books at

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Back to School!!

My Novel Freshman Experience Reboot
I've been going over some of my first year at school blogs for kicks and giggles. It was fun going back and remembering that first class. Finding time to take two years of classes has been a challenge. Time. Frankly, I don't have much time at all. One of those early posts I talked about making time stretch. I'm still stretching my time to its well-frayed limits on a daily basis. 
But I wouldn't have it any other way.
I've now had four freshman classes and I'm about to start my fifth. Yes, they've all be ceramics.
We're building a barn at our camp and I'll have my own ceramic studio before I finish my spring term ceramic class. That'll be six classes. And there's still so much to learn and experiment with.  I'm thrilled that I'll have the opportunity to keep studying ceramics in my own studio. But the question is, what will I study next at school?
Hmm. I have a year to decide. Yes, I'll have a fall and spring ceramic class, but then I'm done. I'm sure I'll be blogging about the decision! LOL
If you want to read more of my adventures, you can see more Novel Freshman posts here.
School starts in a few weeks...and I can't wait for this next adventure!

Yep, my life is beyond exciting!! Stay tuned for more My Novel Freshman Experience (Someday there might be some My Novel Sophomore Experience blogs LOL), more Days of Beauty, more Family Treeing and more...well just me chatting at Hollyworld and here!


PS Check out my summer of Rom Com:

Friday, August 02, 2019

Back to Normal Life by Susan Sands

I hope you all are managing to stay cool with the heat waves that are passing through the country.
Today is unseasonable cool here in Georgia and I'm enjoying it immensely. I've just returned from New York City and the annual Romance Writers of America National Conference. What a whirlwind that was!

I finally met my agent, Erin Niumata, who is a senior vice president at Folio Literary Management in Manhattan, but works and lives in London. She and I were able to put our heads together and work out some ideas for submissions and other fun things we've got cooking.

New York city was wild and crazy as usual. The conference is set in the middle of Times Square across from Junior's. Which, if anyone cares, has the best cheesecake I've had. But I live in Georgia, so there might be better, but I haven't had it.

I attended the Broadway musical, Frozen  while there. I'm always amazed how true to the animated Disney movies the stage shows manage to perform live. The music, the performers, and the costumes and stage props are incredible!!

And as always, RWA did not disappoint. The hotel did an excellent job handling the many and varied needs of such a large group. Author panels, award ceremonies, meetings, and every kind of craft presentation imaginable were offered by seasoned professionals in the industry. The only way to not learn something new and valuable was to not attend.

I returned to both my children moving out of apartments, and I was pressed into service immediately upon touching down. It wasn't a glamorous week once I returned, let me tell you. Driving a cargo van and moving things in and out of storage brought me right back down to the nitty gritty of my normal life. And, as always, there is laundry...

Enjoy the last bit of summer, though it is bound to be hot around here for at least another six weeks or more.