Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Getting Away

By Angel Smits

Summer is coming to a close and for me that means canning season, sweaters, getting back to cooking all those amazing soups and warm dishes--oh, and planning a vacation!
Several years ago—quite by accident—my husband and I discovered the value of taking off-season vacations.  We’d been planning to get away all summer long but couldn’t seem to manage it.  Owning a small business tends to do that to you.  In the fall of that year, we ended up driving to the Black Hills to see Mt Rushmore.  It ended up being the best vacation ever. 

Didn't even have to get up early to beat the crowds
A great view, all to myself
Home Sweet Home...for a week
Nary a soul in sight
      The season was over, so everything was winding down, but not shutting down.  Even the drive up there, we saw very few cars.  There were few crowds in the restaurants.  The attractions themselves were still open, but not crowded so we could take our time looking at the exhibits and not feel rushed by people behind us. 

     Hotel rooms were less expensive, and plentiful, and we found a great off-season deal at a quaint little Bed & Breakfast.  We were the only guest there, so we had the run of the place.
     And talk about a relaxing get away.  In our regular lives, both my husband and I run a hundred miles an hour most of the time, so we HAD to slow down.  Everyone else was.  We actually—get this—had time and space to have a full conversation.  And uninterrupted quiet time. 
     Since then, we’ve taken a couple other off-season trips, like going to South Padre Island in February, before the Spring Break rush that happens there every year, and before all the staff at the hotel was worn out from the season. 

It was hard to find someone to take our picture, but we managed

      We’re still trying to figure out where to take off to this time.  It’s harder now that we own two stores, but hopefully we’ll figure something out soon.  If anyone has any great off-season suggestions, let’s hear them.  I’m taking notes.

     And not just for my vacation...I’m always looking for new locations to plop my characters.  They don’t all live here with me, not really.  Visiting places outside my norm makes for some great research, and helps me make it more real, helps keep ME more real.  At least that’s my goal.
     Enjoy the rest of your summer everyone!    


Monday, August 22, 2016

Best Birthday Present!

As we get older, finding the perfect present gets harder and harder. It's not about the biggest box, the most fashionable item or the most expensive gift. For Doc Cambridge and me, and I'm sure for you, to paraphrase Baby Bear from Golidlocks, it's about finding something that's just right.

I'm very lucky because Doc C is brilliant at finding that special something. He always surprises me with his ingenuity and thoughtfulness. This year, was the best ever.

I'd been talking about going to the Writers' Police Academy ( for some time. This is a special research conference for writers, where you get to train and learn about all aspects of law and crime, from real law enforcement professionals. But, I could never justify the expense of flying over to the US, when my books aren't romantic suspense (yet <g>). So it was always 'maybe next year'.

Imagine my surprise when I opened an ordinary box to find some papers inside - a registration to the Writers' Police Academy in Green Bay - leaving in 4 days! Makes me cry now thinking about it!

We had an amazing time in Green Bay. We got in a little early, so were able to fulfill the sports' geek in us and visit Lambeau Field, to see the Packers doing their famous pre-season bike ride with the kids. Plus a fabulous tour of the stadium.

Then, the WPA began and it was a blast - literally! We were based at NWTC (Northeast Wisconsin Technical College) at the International Public Safety Training Academy. On the first morning, they simulated a road traffic accident, complete with police, EMTs, fire crew and air ambulance!

On the second morning, we had a simulated terror attack, with lockdown.

In between, there were courses on everything from K-9s to ballistics to police driving to the mind of a serial killer. Participants got to shoot guns, drive vehicles, practice police simulations and emergency medical techniques. I took part in as much as I could, but I could have done the whole thing again, with completely different options and still not done everything!

I know that's not everyone's cup of tea - but for me, it was the most amazing present (as good as the surprise tickets to see my New Jersey Devils play in the Winter Classic outdoor game at Yankee Stadium!). Doc Cambridge done good!

How about you - what was the best present you've ever received?

Friday, August 19, 2016

Small Towns Are In My Heart

by Kristina Knight

Some of my favorite books - ever - are set in small towns. From childhood favorites like the Little House books to my friend Liz Flaherty's  Back to McGuffey's or One More Summer. As much as I love La Nora's city-based In Death series, its the books that are set in small towns - like Northern Lights or her Bride Quartet - that keep me coming back for more. I could list more small town authors, but I'm sure you know where I'm going with this. I love a small town romance.

Which is why I'm so excited about my next project for the SuperRomance line - I'm writing a 4 book series set in a small Missouri town on a lake...very similar to the town where I grew up. There are dairy farms and orchards around it, the lake type of stuff, and there are five men who grew up together. Each of them left town for a while, but they've all come home, and are finding that even life in a small town can be filled with twists and turns.

One thing I'm doing differently with this series is that I'm keeping a series bible going - there are character lists and business lists and some general plotting information. I'm going to include blurbs of the different books when I get to that stage, too. And there is the map you see above - hey, no snickering at the condition of that map! I'm a writer not a cartographer!

Setting up my town - bad map and all! - has been one of my favorite parts of putting this series together. Figuring out how the town was laid out, where things were located, how those locations might feed into the plots of the different was a lot overwhelming at first, but now that the town has its boundaries, I'm finding it's much simpler to write without overthinking the location of the Slippery Slope (the local bar) or the grocery store or, heck, the actual Slippery Rock Lake!

I'm also having fun setting up my pinterest boards and finding hero (and heroine!) inspiration...I've also found some housing inspiration that is making me consider more real-life home renovations for next spring!

Mostly, though, I'm finding myself falling back in love with small towns and farmers and orchard owners...and all the lovely and cantankerous and (sometimes) obnoxious people who live there...and I can't wait to share the books with you all!

Are you a fan of small town romances or do you prefer big cities and a more jet-set lifestyle? And, in either case, what keeps you invested in the hero and heroine?

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

My First Firefighter Story...coming soon!

Hello lovely readers! I am delighted to announce the next instalment in my Templeton Cove Stories mini-series is now available for preorder. SAVED BY THE FIREFIGHTER is book six in the series but all the books can be read stand-alone so feel free to jump in whenever and wherever you like!

I am super excited for the release of Saved By The Firefighter because I know how much we all like a hunky firefighter hero. I wrote this novel while grieving my beloved black Labrador, Max and so found concentrating a struggle at times. Yet, I really believe my grief provided a deeper emotion and depth to the characters and their individual struggles. This story is one of bereavement, belief in there being light at the end of the tunnel and, ultimately, forgiveness and true happiness.

Here's the blurb:

How can she forgive him for what he didn't do? 
Photographer Izzy Cooper feels as frozen as her pictures. Trent Palmer might be the hottest firefighter in Templeton Cove, but she can never face him again. Not after he failed to save her brother. But when they're forced together by a calendar shoot, the sparks between them are undeniable. 
Izzy knows it's not fair to blame Trent for the tragedy, but opening herself up to loss again isn't something she's prepared to do, no matter how determined Trent is to show her that pain is part of life and that love—their love—can make any suffering bearable.

Buy Links:

Hope you enjoy Saved By The Firefighter - book seven is coming in 2017!

Rachel x

Monday, August 15, 2016

Question of the Month: What's Your Favorite Office Supply?

It's mid-August - how did that happen? In the US this means back-to-school
season, a time when chances are good that if you go to a store looking for
a single spiral notebook you won't be able to find one! And that begs the
question, SuperAuthors: What is your favorite office supply?

Joanne Rock: I must have a planner. For years, it seemed like a luxury to buy a planner over, say, new shoes for a kid. But now my kids have been the same shoe size for years (hooray!) and there is a little more budget for fun stuff. I've upgraded from the utilitarian notebooks with printed date pages that I got online and glued in (how's that for cost effective?) to move lovely books just for this purpose. I covet the pretty ones with lots of extra pages for notes and reminders. I bought one this year that has stickers for vacation days and girls lunches out. So much joy in those stickers!! It combines everything I loved about those giant activity books as a kid, plus all the organizational help that a busy woman needs. AND it's pretty.

Dana Nussio: I love little notebooks and journals – 3  ½ x 5” and 5 ½ x 8” – anything small with plenty of lines for writing stuff. Do I actually journal? No, not really. But I keep those little notebooks around for when moments of inspiration. Yes, they end up filled with doodles and unidentified phone numbers, but I love them anyway.

Angel Smits: There’s just something about back to school shopping and office supplies that makes me practically giddy.  Choosing a favorite is hard.  I’m a sucker for all of it, especially if it’s pink!  I have a jillion pens, which isn’t nearly enough.  My newest “toy” is the new disc notebooks.  Lots of accessories and they work like a spiral notebook, but you can take the page out and then put it back.  I’m addicted.

Kristina Knight: Lordy, there are so many - pens (make mine PaperMate Flair Ultra Fine, please) and notebooks (story binders *save* me!) and binder clips (basic black? no way, lets get crazy!)...but lately my absolute favorite are my new highlighters - they are Sharpies and click open (no caps to lose, bonus!), but they have great wedges so I can go thin line or thick and the colors are amazing. Pink, green, blue, red, burgandy...choices, choices!

Amber Leigh Williams: I write most everything out longhand so pens are essential. I am convinced, though, that pens are like potatoes. Over time, they grow those spindly little root appendages and begin to walk off, one by one. Imagine if you will a convoy of BIC pens disappearing into the night, leaving their inkless counterparts behind like soldiers on a battlefield. (They take socks and Tupperware lids when they go...for warmth and shelter.)

Vicki's post-it obsession!
Vicki Essex: I loooooove school supplies. It's a struggle to walk out of a Staples without new
markers, notebooks, erasers, pencils, gel pens, and all the fun things I never got as a kid but as an adult don't really need. That said, I love me some Post-it(R) Notes. I buy them in Costco-sized packs and use them to plot my novels, as well as make editing notes as I'm working. I stick them to my laptop as reminders. I'm hoping they'll come out with a full spectrum color pack one day--I can never have enough different colored, different sized, different shaped Post-it(R) Notes. (YOU HEAR ME, POST-IT(R)? MORE COLORS AND SHAPES, I SAY.)

Claire McEwen: I love office supplies!  Nice pens, bright highlighters, crispy file folders and pretty planners - I love them all.  But my favorite thing as a writer? Post-its. I use them to plot events and character growth on a chart. And when I get an idea about my story at an inconvenient time, I write it on a post-it and stick it to my study wall so I'll remember it later.

Kris Fletcher: Notebooks. I am addicted to them. Plain ones, pretty ones, tiny ones, giant ones ... They all mean a fresh start and a new direction and a world of possibilities.

Nan Dixon: I love office supplies! Purple Pens - I use them for when I'm working on my critique partners' submissions and also when I am revising on paper.
Flags - I also love the colored flags - again when I am revision.
And unfortunately - I go through reams of paper. I buy it by the case.

Janet Lee Nye: I love a bright and pretty accordion file. Not that I ever use them properly. Nor do I ever continue to file things in them because I am terrible at being an adult with paperwork.
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