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Monday, July 05, 2021

The Beach is a Magical Place by Susan Sands


I spent a week at Perdido Key on the Florida Gulf Coast last week. There's something about changing locations from that of a landlocked position to the coast. The salty air, the white sand, and the water--just the sight and sound of it bring instant relaxation. Well, after the packing, the prepping at home for being away, and the six-hour drive. After all that.

We had great weather and ate fresh seafood nearly every day. The key lime pie was awesome! I was at the beach for two days by myself before my daughter and her friend joined me. I'm almost never home alone, and I was able to finish my second Louisiana book during that time. I turned it in a month early, which never happens, so I've created a month to begin a new project. 

I'm home for a week, then I'll head to Fripp Island, SC for a "research trip" with a dear writing friend to work on my new book. Fripp is a barrier island that serves as a wildlife and bird sanctuary. I plan to include some of the island's ecological concerns in my novel as part of the storyline. It's a place I love and where I've visited many times. 

I hope everyone is enjoying summer and getting out to do the things you love!

Susan Sands




Wednesday, June 02, 2021

Big Happenings! by Susan Sands

 I'm happy to announce I've signed with Harpeth Road to write a new book! Harpeth Road is a new


romantic imprint started by bestselling author, Jenny Hale. So far, I'm completely impressed by the detail and care HR is taking in building my author brand. No detail is too small it seems. To that end, I'm finally collecting emails from readers and will send out my very first newsletter soon!

The book I've signed on the write for Harpeth Road is a low country romantic women's fiction set in coastal South Carolina. It's actually based on real place called Fripp Island, where I've vacationed for years with my family. We have friends who live on the island and this story has its origins with that family. I can't wait to share more as things progress!

I've decided a newsletter should be fun and not spammy, so I'm planning to include some interactive items and always a yummy recipe or two. I've just finished making a newsletter crossword puzzle! Fun and games! I do hope you will sign up at susansands.com!

I'm busy finishing up my second Louisiana novel for Tule Publishing and it's a real edge-of-your-seat mystery. My hero and heroine are having a hard time finding a moment to fall in love. But they will. You know they will. I can't wait for you to visit Cypress Bayou, Louisiana!

I hope the weather is nice where you are and that everyone is safe and healthy!

Take care!

Susan



Thursday, May 13, 2021

What is family?


Questions.

That's where all stories start. 

What if?

Something Perfect (the last book of the Hometown Weddings and the second last book of the series) started with the question What if...? and then proceeded with a daughter asking, Who am I? Where am I from? What is family? 

You've seen me ask and answer those particular questions over and over again in my books.  Each character and each story has a slightly different answer. But all those answers are rooted in the same place...Love.  That's what makes a family.

For me, that question of where I'm from—who I'm from—is foundational.  I didn't meet my bio-father until I was in my thirties. Knowing he was out there but not knowing anything about him left me with so many questions.  And as a writer, questions are part of my job description. I had a burning need to find the answers. When I first met him, he tried to answer as many questions as he could. (I come from generations of Appalachian stock with a titled Englishman, a Scottish laird and some Quakers.) He was nice but he wasn't family. As time went on and I grew to know and love him and one day he was. Just like that. Like magic. He was family. Love...that makes family more than DNA.

The Hometown Hearts Wedding trilogy (Something Borrowed, Something Blue and Something Perfect) is all about how a family is made.  Three women become friends and grow into family. Each of them finds their own true love...and their own true family!

There's a short story, Something Unexpected, this summer, then the final book, A Hometown Christmas in September. 

Thanks all of you who've taken these journeys with me! 

Holly

Hometown Hearts





Crib NotesHometown Hearts #1




A Special Kind of Different: Hometown Hearts #2





HomecomingHometown Hearts #3



 Suddenly a Father: Hometown Hearts #4


Something Borrowed: Hometown Hearts #5





Something Blue: Hometown Hearts #6 


Something Perfect: Hometown Hearts #7 available 5/21





Preorder
Something Unexpected: A Hometown Hearts short story, available 7/21
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PreorderA Hometown Christmas: Hometown Hearts #8, available 9/21
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Monday, May 03, 2021

My Month of May by Susan Sands

My birthday, Mother's Day, and my 32nd anniversary are all in the month of May. This sounds like a merry month, right? But it's the same as having one's birthday on Christmas day, pretty much. Everything happens as if it's only one thing. Nothing extra. My birthday often coincides with the same weekend as my birthday, so it shares a meal, gift, and celebration. Yes, first-world problems, I know.

My daughter and my oldest son and his girlfriend over the weekend from Charlotte, NC. We attended a fun Kentucky Derby party in our local downtown. We all ended up getting new sunglasses for my birthday. 

I'm looking toward May as my month of great weather, new beginnings for some publishing stuff (will let you know), and lots of writing. May really is my favorite time of year because it's so filled with the promise of summer, but not nearly over yet. Everything fun is still coming up.

I finally cleaned the pollen from my deck and furniture and got all my outdoor cooking gear ready to go. It's my go-to way to spend some time outside at the end of the day. The birds must agree with the promise of May as well because they are singing loudly out there all day right now. There are also books to read in my pile...

My pent-up need to go out and breathe fresh air and feel the sunshine on my skin is great this year. The community pool is already open to the residents in our neighborhood. A great excuse to wear my new sunglasses, yes?

Have a fantastic month of May!

Susan




Friday, April 02, 2021

First Time Flying Since COVID! by Susan Sands


I've been on a two-week trip, first to Monterey, CA, and surrounding areas, and now I'm here in Draper, Utah (Salt Lake area). I fly home to Atlanta tomorrow. Like nearly everyone else, I haven't gone anywhere much this past year besides the grocery store and the tennis court. 


Several friends have asked how it's been. The flying, the moving about, and whether there are people out and about. I have to say that things have been more open than I believed. American Airlines was at full capacity, which meant there were no seats blocked off. The flight was full. The Atlanta airport was hopping, as was the Phoenix airport, where I made my connection. Everyone wore masks throughout the airport and on the flight unless eating and drinking. All expected. My second flight was from San Francisco to Salt Lake on Delta. Delta is still blocking middle-row seats unless you fly with a companion until the end of April, which was nice. But the San Francisco airport was pretty deserted.


In Monterey, the pier was open and pretty crowded. Hiking trails were open and we dined indoors several times as it was unseasonably cold and windy. We drove down the coast to Pebble Beach and Big Sur, and both were less crowded than normal, according to my friend.

Here in Utah, people are out, wearing masks, and eating indoors.

So, not so different from where I live in Georgia. Certainly, not as different as I thought it would be. I haven't watched the news since I left home two weeks ago, so I have no idea what's happening in the world. Here's hoping it's still turning. 

I wish everyone the very best!

Susan Sands



Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Everything Old is New Again!

 Is that a trick title or what? LOL

 Yes, it's Spring here so, yes, everything is growing again - the dreaded pollen-producing plants that look so fresh and springy and beautiful but are deadly to many of us are back! My neighborhood is bursting with the bright yellow forsythia bushes and I'm watching a nearby lilac bush that's getting ready. I've ordered 2 new orange azalea bushes for the front of my house... Can't wait to see them in spite of the sneezing and coughing that will accompany their arrival! I love that these are tall and narrow and lose all their foliage in the fall - the color is so dramatic.....


The true subject I was talking about was having to do with my writing plans. And a new contract. 

I'm kind of known for my medieval historicals, especially all my Highlander romances. Out of my 50ish stories written and published, 14 are NOT set in Scotland or involve Highlanders. I've even written 3 Regency-set stories and 2 are set in Scotland (the Regencies are loosely-based on Rock Hudson/Doris Day movies!). 

 
Well, in 2022, I'm going back to the Regency time period but the 3 stories I'll be writing are set in Regency Edinburgh (again! YAY!). And, even more fun for me, the heroes of each story are based on three of my own crushes! 
I have a mad crush on Josh Gates of Expedition Unknown and he is the basis for my hero who is an adventurer who discovers a hidden Roman city in Northern Africa! My other crush is Ian Buchanan - he is an actor best known for playing 'Duke Lavery' on General Hospital....and...sigh...he was my first Scot crush. The third hero is based on a couple geeky science and/or history men from northern England and Scotland.

Although the characters will be different from the men I. . . crush on, there will be something about each one that is about how I see them... So I can't wait to begin writing them! 

So, it should be fun! And the best part (well, one of them) is gathering up research bits and books to prepare for writing them. I need to refresh my memory about the Regency in Scotland and so I have history books, costume/clothing books, maps and more to get ready! 

    Do you like to read historicals set in Scotland? Do you have a preference about the time period or specific place/locations? Even if not Scotland, what's your favorite place to read about? Post below and I'll choose someone who does to get a wee giftie from Scotland! 

 

Terri's latest release was TEMPTED BY HER VIKING ENEMY, the final book in the Sons of Sigurd series that includes books by Michelle Willingham, Harper St. George, Jenni Fletcher and Michelle Styles. Still available in print or digital to read in order or by themselves! 

Coming in August 2021, THE HIGHLANDER'S INCONVENIENT BRIDE is a crossover story between my bestselling MacLerie Clan series and my A HIghland Feuding series! Fan favorites return in this enemies to friends to lovers tale.  

Stop over on my website for more info and some freebies, too! 





Saturday, March 13, 2021

A Hard Anniversary

 One year.  Wow. For the one year anniversary of Covid, I listened to Chris Hayes' Why Is This Happening podcast. He visited with a guest, Michelle Goldberg in an episode called One Year of Plague Living. They both live in the city and talked about how difficult lockdown was on them  I loved their point that we all had that shared experience of lockdown during a pandemic, but each experience was different and very individual. They wondered if there was anyone who didn't feel the strain of being shut-up for a year.

I very quietly raised my hand. (Of course, I was alone in the truck with just Tallulah, which made the action a bit quirky...but hey, I've been locked up for a year, so give me a break. LOL)

Imagining is my job and I can easily imagine that if I were a city person who was accustomed to eating most of my meals out and spending my days out and about, this enforced isolation would have been hard to deal with. But I'm a hermit by nature and I feel a bit guilty admitting how very little my life has changed over the last year.  I still write, pot, and take care of minions. Yes, I weighed the risks and still keep the minions a few days a week because their parents are in the healthcare field and their jobs are as necessary as things get right now. But otherwise, my life is mainly Himself and Tallulah. I still talk to family, mainly on FaceTime.  I shop a lot less but I hate shopping, so that's cool. Mainly, I write and pot. Pot and write. Take walks with Himself and Tallulah. Then write and pot some more. I'm either here in Erie, or in the county at The Cottage.

As I write this, I acknowledge that I am beyond fortunate. Not only that my job is inherently solitary, but also I'm hermitty by nature. I'm super lucky that I'm married to my best friend and a year together made me realize how lucky I am over and over again. 

It's not that my year hasn't had heartache. The biggest one was we lost Marge (I've blogged about her here before and she really was the inspiration for the May-December friendship relationship in Something Blue) early on in the pandemic. She was alone at the end and I still feel guilty about that. But I know she knew she was loved. The nursing home let us come for one compassionate visit the day before she passed. We got to say goodbye. Still, there's a hole in our family without her. The minions still talk about her.

It hurt when I canceled our family Thanksgiving and Christmas. The fact I canceled wasn't because I wasn't desperate to see my kids, but BECAUSE I was wanted to see them over the holidays for years and years to come. FaceTime is great, but it's not the same and we all know that. To lose a few holidays and a trip to Disney was so worth knowing that we'd have many holidays and Disney trips in the years to come.

It was an interesting podcast that really left me reflecting about this last year. (Books, podcast, movies...anything that can leaves me reflecting is worth my time.) One of the things I've been thinking about since the podcast is there's a light is at the end of this Covid tunnel. I'm more than willing to hold tight and shop less (I'm always happy to do that), mask up and social distance because someday I won't have to do those things.  Someday soon we'll have family holidays. And to be honest, someday soon I'll be in Disney again. 

And I spent a lot of time this last year (like so many of you) thinking about what's really important. I've always known the answer to that...my family and friends. And yes, I think of all of you as friends. You've made this year so much easier for me. I hope that some of my glee has eased yours as well.

So while I wait for herd ammunity, I'll be potting in HollysWoods Studio, writing (I wrote a pandemic short story last year, aptly named Quarantine and I'm working on a new Hometown Hearts short story now) and hanging out with Himself and Tallulah. I'll take care of minions. I'll go along with my quiet, hermitty life and I'll enjoy every moment this spring out at camp. Today I saw Canada geese and mallards at the pond. And deer have been visiting a lot. Birds are loud when I walk and the snow is finally melting. Yes, we're going to go from ice and snow to the mud season. But I'm okay with that. Summer will arrive and things will be better.

My heart goes out to everyone who's suffered a loss. I hope this next year is a healing one for you. 

Things will be better...that's my lasting thought after the podcast.

However your year has been, I don't think anyone will complain when it's over. And it WILL be over. Until it is, stay safe! 

Holly





Crib NotesHometown Hearts #1




A Special Kind of Different: Hometown Hearts #2





HomecomingHometown Hearts #3



 Suddenly a Father: Hometown Hearts #4


Something Borrowed: Hometown Hearts #5





Something Blue: Hometown Hearts #6 


Preorder: Something Perfect: Hometown Hearts #7 available 5/21



Wednesday, March 03, 2021

In Two Years by Susan Sands

I don't like or want to rush time. Every day is a gift and is meant to be lived to its fullest. Having said that, I look ahead some days. With the hope that the storms of today will be over by then. Maybe not in a year, but in two years?

So, if I indulge in a little fantasy today about two years from now, if the good Lord's willing and the creek don't rise, it might look a little something like this:

In two years:

We'll be settled in a new house.

All my kids will be out of college and gainfully employed.

COVID will be a cringe-y nightmare we look back on.

I won't have to wear a mask in the grocery store, or anywhere else.

I can travel.

I'll be outside more than inside.

Kids will all be back in school face-to-face and there will be laughter and learning.

Businesses won't be boarded up and cities will begin to thrive again. 

People will make strides in acceptance and happiness.

I will have a bestselling book. :-) 






These are only a few of so many fast-forwards I hope for. There are lots of bigger and more important things the world needs that aren't here on my first-world list of happy thoughts.

My wish of hope and joy for you all is a given. There will always be struggle and strife and tragedy--the bad and the good together. 

I've started writing book two of my Louisiana series. So, I'll keep you posted on that front.

Since we're not two years into the future, let's all try to live our best lives right now. Pay it forward, be kind, and try to love the ones we're with. Life is nothing if not unpredictable, so we should treasure our days.

All the best!

Susan Sands



Saturday, February 13, 2021

Happy Valentine's!



Family.

I've built a life and my writing career around family.

This Hometown Hearts Wedding trilogy deals with families. Friends who become families. Families who are made through adoption. Families who are born...Family. Watching people come together, fall apart, adapt... It's a fascinating process. Every story comes at it from a new direction.

We've talked before about how my real life impacts my writing. In March's book,  Something Blue, I deal with dementia in an older loved one. It's a reality I know about. My grandmother slowly lost her battle with dementia over years. Then we adopted a neighbor who also battled that kind of loss. It's an awful process. And you might be thinking, Holly, that's too grim to read about.  But that's not all there is. My grandmother always knew me and my kids. We visited every day. Even after she couldn't remember our names, she knew she was ours and we were hers. The connection was still there. She knew she was loved and she wasn't alone.

We saw the same thing with our neighbor. The Minions owned her entire nursing home. We walked over regularly. The two littles would dress up in their superhero capes and ride their scooters (you can't ride a bike in a cape). Not only did she know we were hers and she was ours, the entire nursing home knew the Minions. They high-fived their way through the halls. Some days they were Batman and Robin, sometimes they were Superman and the Green Lantern... What I loved the most is how gentle they were with everyone. They didn't worry if our neighbor didn't know their names. They filled her in on their day and chatted away and she loved it. 

We missed those visits last year.

Someone once questioned why we visited if a patient didn't know us. I think that even when memories have gone, when someone is lost in their own mind, they recognize love. They feel it. It's a bright light in a dark place. So we visited. My kids and the Minions learned lessons on patience, empathy and love. And our loved ones learned no matter what they were never alone.

Those are the things I tried to put in Something Blue. Connection. Empathy. Love. I know I write romances and writing about love is obviously a part of that, but I really try to write about broader loves. About family. About all the ways they come together and all the ways they stand together.

I've built a life around family and I've built a career around it.

I am so lucky in both! And Valentine's Day seems like the perfect day to talk about that kind of love.

I hope you'll check out the entire Hometown Hearts series and Something Blue!

Holly





Crib Notes: Hometown Hearts #1









A Special Kind of Different: Hometown Hearts #2











Homecoming: Hometown Hearts #3



 


Suddenly a Father: Hometown Hearts #4




Preorder: Something Borrowed: Hometown Hearts #5
Available 1/5/21








PREORDER: Something Blue Available 3/21






Preorder Something Perfect Available 5/21

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Tuesday, February 02, 2021

Two Steps Forward by Susan Sands

 So, I made a top ten list last month of all the 2021 goals for the coming year. Thus far, I've managed to do pretty well with turning off the news to stop obsessing over all the political noise. That was number one. I'm certain my blood pressure has come down several points.

But I bought a bread machine. One of the things on my list was to eat healthier. And stop baking so much. Um, the bread machine... So, a decade or so ago, I had a bread machine. I used it a lot at first, but my impatience for immediate gratification had me putting it away for the convenience of Fresh Market a half-mile down the street. So many delightful choices at my fingertips without the wait. 

I sold the old machine in my estate sale when I moved two years ago. My new place doesn't have Fresh Market or Whole Foods quite as close and I've stopped going out to shop and begun to order my groceries most of the time. Mostly because I'm lazy. But let me tell you what's nice about the new bread machines: Bread machine MIXES. Yes, they have yeast already in them and you add warm water and press a button. There's still that stinking wait time but OMG, the smell and the results are amazing and so not what I planned for my top ten list for 2021.

I ordered about fifteen different kinds so I could try a wide variety. Cinnamon rolls, pizza crust, English muffins. There are endless options. I will report back with my favorites.

As far as the rest of the list goes, well, that's still a work in progress. It's been especially cold here in Georgia, so getting out and walking more--getting out period--hasn't really happened. I'll just say, I'm looking forward to springtime. 

My eighty-four-year-old mother-in-law battled COVID here at my house a couple weeks ago and fortunately came through it like a champ. She was only symptomatic for four or five days. We were all still antibodied-up, thankfully, and no one else got sick. I went and got tested for antibodies again (seven months post-COVID) and was still positive. I needed to know how close I could care for my MIL. I say this because I know there are those of you who want to hear how others get through the virus. 

We've been very lucky, and for that I'm thankful. I'm still waiting for my mom to find vaccine availability in our area. She's seventy-five and still no luck in getting it. 

I've enjoyed our chat today. I hope you all remain safe and healthy. 

Susan Sands



Friday, January 22, 2021

#AuthorInterview: Liz Flaherty's Window Over the Sink


Hi, there, readers! I am honored today to bring you an author interview. Liz Flaherty's books are some of my favorite because of her amazing character building, but just before the holidays she took on a new endeavor: a book of essays. You see, one of Liz's first publishing forays was as a columnist; she has kept writing her column and her books for years, but for the first time, a book of just her columns is out in the world. I had to ask her how that came about. 

Kristina: How did your column come to be?  

Liz: I took a creative writing class from the late Vicki Williams and made the discovery that I loved writing essays more than anything else. When I went to work as a stringer for the local newspaper (come to find out I didn’t like writing the news—what a surprise) I finally gathered up a few and asked the editor to give me a try. Thirty years later, I was touched when he agreed to write the foreword for Window Over the Sink.

Kristina: What do you like most about it? 

Liz: It’s the instant gratification of writing. Writing them is quick because you only have one subject, one voice (your own), and usually limited time. 😊 While I love writing books, it’s angsty for me; writing essays is just fun.


Kristina: When did you decide to put the column into a book? 

Liz: I promised my husband, and 20 years or so later, I kept the promise. He’s supportive of my writing in all ways, but the column—that’s the me he knows and understands (sort of.)

Kristina: How did you choose which essays to include? 

Liz: I chose ones that mattered, that held my heart, that readers had liked most and mentioned often. Ones that made me laugh or sniffle.

Kristina: What makes you the most proud of this book? 

Liz: Well, its cover, for one thing. Maddie James designed it, and I am completely in love with it. If I
could paint my column, that would be what it would look like. Other than that, though, I told someone the other day that the picture my grandson took of me had all the wrinkles left in it because he was photographing his nana, not some author. That lady with the wrinkles is who I am at 70 and I like her. She’s the one who wrote Window Over the Sink. And, yeah, I’m proud of her.

Liz's cover is beautiful, isn't it? You can pick up her book - print or e version - at the retailers below. Thanks for joining me today, Liz, and readers, thank you for joining in, too!

Buy Window Over the Sink: Amazon   D2D