Friday, March 27, 2020

Life at Home

by Joanne Rock

Greetings from the housebound to the housebound! I hope this week finds you healthy and safe while we adjust to a new normal. For my part, I'm mostly adapting to how to bring groceries safely into my house and trying to figure out where the next roll of toilet paper will come from. But the work from home isolation is something I'm long accustomed to as a writer.

In the years that I was first disciplining myself to write books, the adjustment to so much alone time was a big one. Then, just when I got a rhythm going, my significant other started working from home too, and there was a whole new learning curve of being productive with someone else in the house. I see a lot of friends online struggling with both of these-- being productive while isolated, and being productive while isolated with someone else.

My best advice for the former is to pay attention to your high productivity times. If you're no longer tied to 9-5, it can be a surprise to discover you are most effective at your job from 7pm to 11pm. But if that's what works for you, go with it! Don't ignore your natural ebbs and flows of good work energy. My other advice is to mix up your work tasks so you're not stuck doing one kind of work all day long. Varying your tasks and putting time limits on them can help you accomplish more.

As for being productive while there are others in the house with you? I liked being really mobile with a laptop so I could seek out quiet places in the house wherever they happened to be. Kids take over your office? Go find an empty bedroom to work in. Spouse decide to chat while you need to focus? Tomorrow, try working with headphones on. Your family isn't trying to disrupt you. They just lack the visual cues to remind them you're working.

A good deal!
But sometimes the biggest stumbling block to being  productive at home is YOU. Before you dismiss it, consider this-- is there any chance you're self-sabotaging without realizing it? You like to be the go-to family chef so you jump up to prep food four times a day for various people? Or maybe you're the only one who knows how to accomplish certain things at home, so those around you are used to relying on you for help with those things. Stop this. Teach each kid a task you used to be responsible for and let them manage it. Relinquish some house control for the sake of your work life.

For your downtime, of course, I hope you're taking advantage of the oodles of deals on books right now. I know I've downloaded tons of free and .99 cent books. My friend author Eva Moore is compiling a nice list on Facebook, but I know there are lots more lists out there. My first-in-series book, The Rebel is just .99 through the weekend, so please go grab it, and stay safe!

Monday, March 23, 2020

On Cowboy Heroes ~ @AuthorKristina Knight & The Nevada Cowboys

Cowboys have been near and dear to my heart since I was a little girl. The only times I was allowed to skip bedtime were Saturday nights when, more often than not, my grandpa (we called him Big Daddy) would find an old spaghetti Western on television. It might start at 10 and not get over until midnight, I might yawn and snooze my way through Sunday School and Church the next morning, but I was always allowed to stay up and watch.

From John Wayne and Gary Cooper to the cowboy-types played by James Dean, I watched them all. Some I've found on DVD, some live only in my memory but they all hold a special place in my heart. As I got older I realized very few of them actually had a love story – sure, the cowboy would get the girl, but we never saw them falling in love. So when more modern Westerns started to come out, I was once again enthralled. I wanted to see the cowboy beat the bad guys but I always  wanted to see the love story.

Movies like 8 SecondsMy Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys and Wyatt Earp have been added to my favorite's list and have lengthened my favorite Cowboy Moments, too. But there are three movies – from the modern era – that take cowboys to a whole new level. At least for me.

Here are my top three cowboy movie moments:

#3: Please don't throw rotten tomatoes because in my top three is John Travolta in city-slicker-cowboy garb. It was the 80s, people! And you have to admit John Travolta was it in much of the early 80s. For me John's Urban Cowboy mode was ohsomuch better than his Saturday Night Fever mode. And I absolutely love when Bud finally tells Sissy he loves her. And I even found a clip for ya:

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#2: This one was hard for me to put in number two because Tom Selleck is just so…Tom. Quigley Down Under is probably one of my favorite cowboy movies, even though it takes place in the Australian Outback instead of the American West. But when Quigley finds Cora in town, when he says his name is Roy – not Quigley – I just melt a little. Every. Single. Time. Because he's had a hard road – he isn't Roy and he shouldn't want to be Roy…and yet because it will save both their lives, he accepts the name.

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#1: I love the movie Walk The Line, because nothing is sweeter to me than a real life love story – and Johnny and June Cash certainly had that. So, even though Johnny isn't technically a cowboy, I have to give him the top slot. Because he might not rope cattle or ride horses but he certainly had the attitude of a cowboy: he took care of business, he spoke his mind and he stood up for the people and things that he believed in. So, to honor him, here's my favorite clip from the movie:

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Kristina Knight's latest release, Connor, Nevada Cowboys Book 2, is available now in paperback or e-format:

Connor, Nevada Cowboys Book 2: Hot Las Vegas nights get even steamier for these three powerful, wealthy businessmen with cowboy roots and the strong, independent women who fall for them. What happens in Vegas certainly won’t stay there as these successful tycoons win at love.
Vegas Nightly publisher Connor Reeves is close to meeting a big-time career goal: making his magazine a state-wide must-read. The only problem? His biggest competition, a larger publisher based in Colorado seems to know his every move. Miranda Clayton is tired of society parties and shopping, but her tycoon father refuses to take her seriously. Her solution? Beat him at his own game by going to work for his top competitor, Connor Reeves. Connor isn’t fooled by Miranda’s act for a second. He knows exactly who she is; the question is what does the lady want?

Pre-order Connor today: Amazon  iBooks  KOBO

Knight is a contemporary romance author, part-time TKD-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.

Friday, March 20, 2020

Free Distractions While You're Homebound!!! by Jenny Gardiner

Hey all!
By now I hope you are all staying home and avoiding being too close to others in an effort to slow down the spread of this awful Coronavirus. If you aren't, I hope you will reconsider that because this is the real deal and maybe I'm more acutely aware of the sacrifices that medical professionals make since my youngest daughter is a medical student, but my goodness, what selfless humans doctors, nurses, EMTs, firefighters etc are. As the saying goes, they run into the fire when everyone else is running away. So please, please, please, consider staying home!

And while home, maybe avoid an overdose of news because it ain't too cheerful. I want to let you know I've got FOUR free books for you to help you escape all the grim reality. So please take advantage of them and ENOY escaping for awhile! I know, I know, it's not a trip to Italy, or to a Jamaican beach, but for now, it's better than watching the numbers of cases rise on the 24/7 news.

Posting links below:

Book one of the It's Reigning Men series, Something in the Heir, is 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:

And Falling for Mr. Wrong from the Falling for Mr. Wrong series is free here:

Google Play

Lastly, Skirt Chaser is now free!


And if you enjoy these books, there are plenty more in each series to read on and they're very affordable at $3.99!

Nothing like a world emergency to clarify all of the most important things in your life. I'm so very grateful for my wonderful family, my adorable dog, a home with a roof over my head, spring weather so that we can at least be outside and enjoy the blossoming trees and listening to birds singing. I'm grateful for all of those medical professionals willing to put their lives on the line for us, and for the many reporters who also have risked themselves for reporting from Coronavirus hotspots, and experts being available 24/7 on many TV networks to answer questions from a nervous public.

Our country has been through many awful things before, things that required far greater sacrifice, sending millions of our young people overseas to fight in dreadful wars. Staying at home is easy peasy in comparison. We can do this folks! Stay safe and thanks for staying home to protect the vulnerable, those who are immunocompromised, the elderly, and of course our medical care providers on the front line in this new and eye-opening war.

Love you all and stay safe! ❤️




Sunday, March 15, 2020

Making sense of a pandemic by Michelle Styles

Today is the Ides of March (ie the 15th of March)  and the traditional date for Caesar’s death.
Because I write historical romance set in ancient times, I have a small interest in the various epidemics which have swept across the world. In long ago times, they were slower moving because of the rate of travel but they were deadly. One of the deadliest was the one in 541 AD which helped to re-configure Western Europe.  Then there was the  14 century plague which really did for feudalism and bath houses in Western Europe. And as a result of quarantining from Cambridge University, Sir Isaac Newton discovered the principles of gravity and calculus.
And we can thank early pioneers in public health like Florence Nightingale (among other things she campaigned for  men as well as prostitutes to be tested for syphilis through collecting basic information and produced graphs)   for deciding we need statistics in order to inform public health decisions. This is a fascinating and timely article from the Smithsonian about her work.  Because of this and many other unsung heroes, the world is perhaps far better prepared that it would have been otherwise. Computer models are crunching the new data and working out ways to protect the general population.
As with any epidemic, there is a lot of misinformation and people who are desperate to try anything or think that various methods work. (Hint: face masks did not stop the plague back in the 14th century)
1.      1.  Get your information from your National Centre for Disease Control  or in the case of the UK where I live from the NHS and Public Health England.  This is the current UK advice which includes if you have a sore throat and/or a 100 F temperature to basically assume it is COVID 19 and self-isolate (put yourself into quarantine for 7 days) The 7 day is because research from Germany has shown that the virus is most infectious  at that time.
2.    2.   The best way to behave is to think you have been exposed, are not displaying symptoms but don’t want to put other people at risk – so practice good hygiene. Do not think that these precautions are for other people. It is the people who cheated the system who have managed to spread the virus (no doubt they considered they had good reasons like not wanting to miss a trip of a lifetime).
3.     3.   Boost your chances of only having mild symptoms/no symptoms by ensuring your immune system is the strongest possible. So that means the usual – healthy eating, pro and pre-biotics, not smoking and drinking alcohol in moderation as well as taking regular exercise. All the things in other words doctors and other health professional have advised to keep well over recent years.
4.       4. This is not a movie. It will not be over in a few days but will take 3 -6 months to clear. Everyone needs to play their part. If the Public Health bodies are successful, we will all be wondering what the fuss was about come the summer time. Something that I'm praying for.

In other news:

The Sons of Sigurd series has its first book by Michelle Willingham out and is a cracking read if people need something to do while they are self isolating. From tomorrow (16 March 2020) a free online read by Michelle Willingham which supports this series will be on
As you can see from the photo, I have had a glimpse of my cover.
I have just sent the full of my last which is a sequel to A Deal with Her Rebel Viking off to my editor.

Stay safe and keep healthy – until next month

Michelle Styles writes warm, witty and intimate historical romance in a wide range of time periods including Viking, Her book (Book 3 of the Sons of Sigurd) will be published in July 2020 You can learn more about Michelle and her books on

Saturday, March 14, 2020

Christina Hollis: Put on a Happy Face...

DD's house, plus two rivers merged into one!
I don't know about you, but I'm finding world news harder and harder to take these days. Australia suffered bush fires then flooding. A lot of the United Kingdom is still sodden wet after devastating floods—this is a picture of my daughter's home: the railings run along the banks of the Gloucestershire Avon, while the line of trees in the distance is on the far bank of the Severn.  The two rivers merged into one and the floodwater eventually rose to within six inches of her front door. And of course there's coronavirus everywhere. 

It would be unreasonable to expect nothing but good news and we can't stick our heads in the sand hoping everything will go away, but it's not unreasonable to want a little bit of good news among all the bad, but here's my contribution to making the world a marginally better place for a moment or two...

Spring is on its way. The apricot in my greenhouse is already in flower. It looks so pretty, it cheers up the greyest days and would be worth growing even without the prospect of eating fresh apricots warm from the sun by midsummer!

Much to our relief we have a pond full of frogspawn. The frogs and toads usually start
Pic via Pixabay
croaking from the water in the first few weeks of the year. They hadn't made a sound until a week ago, and we thought this was going to be the first year since we dug the pond that there would be no tadpoles. Then all of a sudden there was a few days of frantic activity an now we can look forward to a new generation of amphibians to gobble up the slugs and bugs around the garden. 

Pic by E. Jagdman
I've heard the first of the summer birds in the wood. A willow warbler was tuning up the other morning, despite a freezing breeze. It didn't sing for very long, but for a minute or two it felt like summer wasn't too far away...

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 Twitter, Facebook, and see a full list of her published books at

Friday, March 13, 2020

I drove home from Philadelphia last week and listened to my second Miranda Hart audiobook, Peggy and Me. (I listened to Is It Just Me on the way to Philly.)

I listened, laughed and basically mulled all sorts of things on the ride...

1. When Miranda talked about dancing, I thought, "Here is a kindred spirit."
I can't dance. I have something called, anti-rhythm. Yes, it's a thing. But that doesn't stop me from dancing. I find my skills are appreciated most by the under six crowd. (Know your audience is my motto.)

2. Listening to a book that's a love story between a woman and her dog may have been a mistake. I've been missing my Ella Fitzgerald and now that I'm allowed to walk again, I'm hating dogless walks. I'm seriously mulling a new dog.

3. Philly is as far as you can get from Erie and still be in Pennsylvania. It's a beautiful state. (But though I love the whole state, I love Erie most!) I took a hike through Valley Forge while I was in Philly. I love the beauty and the history of it all. Miranda talked about taking her dog Peggy on a holiday and I thought I need to be sure if I get another dog it likes the car.

4. My buddy Miranda talked about losing a manuscript in Peggy and Me. I got nauseous at the thought. I reaffirmed my neurotic need to back up files is not really neurotic but wise.

5. Speaking of books, I hope people are liking the first two books in Hometown Hearts. (Worrying about what people think about a book is a thing. I try to ignore it, but listening to someone talking about losing all that work brought books to the forefront of my mind and I crossed my fingers.)

6. Frequently when Miranda says, "Peggy," I hum, "Angelica, Eliza...and Peggy." (If you're not a Hamilton fan, it's a song from the musical.) And that makes me think about going through Washington's headquarters in Valley Forge and marveling over the fact I touched a railing that both Washington and Hamilton must have touched. It's just a nerdy sort of way. I wonder if Washington and/or Hamilton had dogs and if they hung out at the headquarters.

7. Dogs. I listen to Miranda talk about Peggy and really miss having a dog. I know I'll never be able to replace Ethel Merman and Ella Fitzgerald, but I really miss having a dog.

8. Why did I pick a book that's about a dog? (The reason is I adore Miranda Hart...if you have a minute, check out her series Miranda on Hulu.)

9. Himself called while I was gone and had gone out to The Cottage. I realized if I got another dog, it needed to like the woods.

10. Home. I am always happy to go on a trip, but I'm even happier going home. I think that makes me pretty lucky. And I appreciate how lucky I am. And I realize that I hate coming home and not have someone bark with joy.

11. I've got two more CDs in Peggy and Me to listen to. Hm. I may need to take a drive out to The Cottage this week so I can finish it off!

12. I so enjoyed my ride with Miranda, but it's good to be home! (Now, Susan, you know I love Trippin' with you, too! LOL) I wonder if I get another dog if I can top Ethel and Ella's names?

Dogs. Miranda, I so enjoyed driving with you (really Susan, you know I adore driving with you too)!


PS I mentioned my Hometown Hearts series. Have you picked up your copies? If so, I will happily add you to my worry-about-people-liking-it list. (Miranda talked about worrying if people would like her sit-com. It's the same feeling, though it's different.)

OUT NOW: Crib Notes

Preorder: A Special Kind of Different

Preorder: Homecoming

The rest of the Hometown Hearts series will be coming soon.
Suddenly a Father will be out in September of 2020 and
Something Borrowed, Something Blue and Something Perfect in 2021!

Monday, March 02, 2020

Blending Genres by Susan Sands

I'm currently writing a contemporary Christmas romance. Or I'm supposed to be. The other books in
the Alabama series are a blend of women's fiction and romance, which means there are other storylines and concerns within the stories. They are less firmly focused on the main couple's romance than what I'm writing this time and include many more characters and details of their lives.

With this latest work in progress, I must control the urge to stray from the couple's romance. It's like writer's attention deficit. I get distracted by all the pretty things I want to explore along the way. Like the characters who are becoming so incredibly interesting and fun. I feel compelled to give them more time on the page and explore their lives. But that's what one does in women's fiction. This is about the amazing main characters. This is a focused, deep dive into their story. Yes, there are other important people in their lives but I've got to stick to the task at hand. The word count is less, so it's imperative I get the story wrapped up by New Years.

Because this is the fifth book in the Alabama "series," it will feel similar. If I do this well enough, it's likely my readers might notice but hopefully won't mind the lack of cast members. This book will be a slightly cleaner read, not that I overdo sex and profanity. I'm having to do some editing when I let a four letter word slip from time to time on the page. Weirdly, it's a good story and honestly dang instead of damn doesn't change the context of how it reads.

In the end, I feel like this book will land in the column of mostly contemporary romance with a touch of women's fiction instead of a fifty/fifty blend. I'm hoping it's still a hit with my readers and that I gain more.

Sorry I'm late posting today! Wash your hands, everyone, and don't touch your face!