Monday, August 31, 2020

Wait! Summer's Over?


How did that happen? 

I confess, I've been inside a lot since March so I barely notice the change of seasons from spring to summer and now getting ready for fall. And, added onto that is that whatever is growing outside bothers my allergies, so, I'm indoors most of the time. 

And, of course, this is no UCR (usual-customary-reasonable) fall either. Staples and other stores selling school supplies should be packed. Beaches should be filled to capacity in that last effort to relax before the real world comes back. I should be on my way to Scotland for a 3-week tour/reseach/writing trip. But no, we're all trying to make our way from an unexpected summer to an unconventional fall. 

 The one thing that usually means summer to me is a visit to a beach - I love sitting on a beach and watching and listening to the waves. But mostly I like people-watching AND reading. I remember when my family rented a place on Long Beach Island and I began packing books first! The best part of that trip (since I had 3 boys at the time) was the long afternoon when my hubby took them back to the house and let me read uninterrupted on the beach for 4 hours! Bliss, sheer bliss! I may yet try to get down there for a couple of hours of beach reading....

Now (literally today!) the temps will shift a tiny bit cooler, forewarning us of the change of seasons coming. Personally, I love the fall - the cooler temps, the crispness in the air, the colors changing around me, the coming holidays. The smells of fireplaces and more baking will fill the air. Ahhhhhh. 

How about you? Are you mourning summer's departure or cheering fall's arrival? Was there a high point to your summer? Or expecting something fabulous this autumn? Let me know by commenting and I'll choose a summer and a fall person to receive a copy of my latest release - An Outlaw's Honor - or my rereleased - A Highlander's Hope. I'll choose on September 5.


Vikings lovers enemies Harlequin

Terri is working on her next Harlequin Historical romance while waiting for the release of TEMPTED BY HER VIKING ENEMY in November. The final book in the #SonsofSigurd series, it arrives on October 27(print) and November 1(ebook). Visit Terri's website for all the info! 


Saturday, August 15, 2020

VJ Day 75 by Michelle Styles

Today is the 75th Anniversary of Victory Japan Day -- the day when Japan actually surrendered. In the US, 2 September was chosen as the date commemorate.  

In the UK, they are doing various ceremonies including the piper at dawn playing the battle is over.

I thought you all might enjoy the actual footage of the surrender.

It is a time to reflect that peace which resulted was hard won with contributions from many nations, and that in total war, no one ever has the moral high ground.

Michelle Styles writes warm witty and intimate historical romance for Harlequin Historical in a wide range of time periods. Her next Viking set book  will be published Feb 2021. You can learn more about Michelle and her work on

Thursday, August 13, 2020

Puppy Training


I've said before that Tallulah hates cars and robins. And since witnessing her passionate dislike for robins, I've learned to look at them with a more jaundice eye. There's a chance she's right...they look as if they could be up to something. LOL But her hatred of cars is more problematic. She's 45 lbs now and when she pulls, especially if I'm not expecting it, it has almost toppled me. I've tried everything I could think of or read about to break her of the car phobia. And while she's better, she still sometimes lunges. So I tried a gentle lead. She was spayed a week ago and while we weren't walking, we practiced wearing the harness. She got a lot of treats and praise whenever I put it on.

When she was ready for a short walk, we used the new harness. It worked! She occasionally pawed at it, but I just said, "Uh, uh," and she stopped. Cars went by and she wanted to eat them, but didn't lunge. Success!! By the time she's ready to get back to our five miles a day, I feel confident we'll be all good.

As I reflected on gentle leaders, my thoughts turned to John Lewis. He was a man who lead through example and stood up for what he believed in. Everything I've read about him points to a gentle man who led gently and passionately. 

He said, "When you see something that is not right, not fair, not just, you have to speak up. You have to say something; you have to do something."  I love that quote and his talk of "Good Trouble." The minions were over and we watched part of his funeral. They asked me about him and I told them how much I admired him. I told them about Lewis's march over what I hope will someday be the John Lewis Bridge. We talked about racism against black and brown people. One of the minions who has a dark summer tan asked me if people wouldn't like him because he was brown. I said, no that while he was definitely brown  when people saw him they saw him as white. He asked about an even browner cousin. And I assured him they were seen as white too. He was so confused. It broke my heart and made me proud as well. We talked about how people's actions matter more than how they look or where they come from. It's a lesson I tried to share with my kids when they were young. And I try to give my characters that kind of world view. 

I write about the Keller family in my Hometown Hearts series. The youngest Keller sister, Cessy, wrote about her family in an essay for school. I tear up every time I read that part of Crib Notes. (Yeah, I know I wrote it, but if my books don't move me, I can't expect them to move readers.) Here's the excerpt:

Mrs. Keller cleared her throat. “My family, by Cecily Keller.’

“‘When I was in fourth grade, our class made cards for our families for Thanksgiving. We traced our hands and turned them into construction paper turkeys. After school, I ran out and gave mine to my mom when Leslie, a girl in my class, came up and said, ‘You’re supposed to give it to your mom.’ I was confused and told her this was my mom, and she said it couldn’t be ’cause we didn’t match. Until that moment, I don’t think I ever thought that way about my family.’

“‘Oh, I knew my brother Zac always called me cocoa because my skin is the color of chocolate, and there was no way to miss that Mom is as pale as a white person can get. But I never saw those differences.’

“‘After that, I did. I noticed the looks my family got when we went out together. None of us are alike. We have brown hair, black, reddish-brown and blond. Some of us are very tall, a few are vertically challenged.’

“‘When I was ten, we all went to Disney World and Mom made us wear matching T-shirts that proudly proclaimed The Kellers. We got looks there, too.’

“‘The fact that we all were so very different made us stand out, and any school kid will tell you that standing out can be a problem. So I hoped no one would notice.’

“‘The Kellers took me home weeks after I was born. I have biological parents, but I never knew them. Then when I was five, my biological father took me back. I still remember that day. My whole family stood on the porch as the social worker led me away to her car. I didn’t understand what was going on. My mom had told me that I was going to live with my real dad, but I felt that my real father was the man on the porch physically holding my brother Zac, who was struggling to get to me. I was only five and I knew who my family was. The stranger the state decided should have custody was nothing to me. The six months he kept me were bad. I don’t talk about them. But they taught me something.’

“‘Before, I wanted to hide how different my family was, but then I figured out that biology might determine your skin and hair color, it might determine if you’re tall or short, but it’s your family that makes up your heart. It’s your family that makes you whole, the person you really are.’

“I took my family to school later that year for show-and-tell. Though in fourth grade we’d really outgrown the tradition, Mom stood by me and my entire family showed up and let me introduce them to my class. And I told all those kids that my family didn’t match on the outside, that we never would, but we matched on the inside and that’s all that counts.’

“‘And that’s what family means to me.’”

And that's the gift I hope I gave to my kids and now to the doesn't matter how someone looks on the outside. It doesn't matter if they 'match' us. What matters is what's in their heart. I wrote about our neighbor Tiffany in the Dear Reader letter for A Special Kind of Different. She was different but special and my kids recognized that. It's another moment that I hold dear. It's another case of seeing what's important about someone. This is at the heart of Hometown Hearts...and hopefully at the heart of my family.

I think the world could use more gentle leaders in it. I hope I'm doing my part to bring up a new generation of them.


Check out the Keller family in:

Crib Notes: Hometown Hearts #1

A Special Kind of Different: Hometown Hearts #2

Homecoming: Hometown Hearts #3

PREORDER  Suddenly a Father: Hometown Hearts #4
Available in September

Sunday, August 02, 2020

New Horizons by Susan Sands

I feel like I'm turning a page. Yes, I know the COVID is still all around me, and the year is still 2020. But I've survived the virus, thankfully, and I'm on my way to hopefully working with a new agent and getting the books of my heart published. Books set in my home state of Louisiana. My very first ones. They won't be exactly the same. But it's been a dream of mine to do these stories and see them come to life--finally.

No details yet, but. I can already see the covers--kind of. I've got a Cajun cookout menu already planned for the first book release. Red beans and rice with smoked sausage, crawfish etouffee, and crusty French bread with butter. Bread pudding with a vanilla glaze. So, yeah, I've been dreaming about these books in every aspect for years.

My new website will go live in a few days, and it's a beauty! I'm hoping to use it for my latest news instead of doing a newsletter. It's an experiment to see how many people will follow for giveaways, etc. There is going to be a giveaway as soon as it goes live, so be on the lookout at

Right now, it's still the old WordPress site, but it will switch over soon.

I'm focused on what I can control right now. Yes, I'm worried about the world. Very. But I'm mostly staying home and writing. I'm wishing you all good health, both mental and physical. 

I'm always available to writers who have questions, or who I can help. I will always try.

Have a fantastic day, or try to. Keep trying to. Love to all!

Susan Sands