Sunday, June 30, 2013

July 2013

Betting on the Cowboy
by Kathleen O'Brien
Harlequin Superromance
ISBN: 9780373718603 (#1860)

No resisting this cowboy!

Brianna Wright has ventured to the Bell River Ranch to make peace with her sister. With enough time here in Colorado, Bree might accomplish that goal and forget the mess of her business back in Boston. Of course, none of that will happen if she lets herself get distracted by a certain gorgeous and charming cowboy—Grayson Harper. Really, resisting a guy as carefree as he is should be easy for someone as responsible as Bree.

But it's clear Gray has his sights set on her, and his determination is stronger than Bree thought! As they work together on the ranch, she realizes there's more to Gray than his footloose facade suggests. If that's true, he just might win her over!

A Texas Hero
by Linda Warren
Harlequin Superromance
ISBN: 9780373718610 (#1861)

Falling for her protector

For single mother Abby Bauman, a failed marriage and a troublesome ex are proof of love gone wrong. But once she's caught up in danger and saved—twice—by take-charge detective Ethan James, she considers whether falling for a true-blue hero is worth the risk. Even now, after the rescue, he seems bent on continuing to protect her and her daughter. Why?

There's more to Ethan's determination to stay close than he's telling her. But when she confronts him, he proves she's more than a means to solve a case. That tempts Abby to take a second chance on trust—and love. Which might be the best choice she's ever made.

One-Night Alibi
by Kara Lennox
Harlequin Superromance
ISBN: 9780373718627 (#1862)

Walking away is not an option

It was one night. And it might have stayed that way for Elizabeth Downey if her steamy evening with Hudson Vale hadn't been the same night her estranged father was murdered. Now she and Hudson—a cop who had arrested her father—are the prime suspects.

Forced to work together to clear their names, Elizabeth and Hudson must deal with their wildly different approaches. Worse, the simmering attraction between them won't go away. As they race to untangle a web of deceit, the stakes get higher. Because not only do their lives depend on finding the truth, but so does this passion that's turning into so much more.…

Out of His League
by Cathryn Parry
Harlequin Superromance
ISBN: 9780373718634 (#1863)

Catch her if he can…

Dr. Elizabeth LaValley's life works just fine, thank you very much. She's a successful anesthesiologist, and she's put the chaos of her youth and family behind her. When hottie pitcher Jon Farell shows up in her hospital, she's the only one who doesn't fawn over him. Sure, she feels the heat between them, but being alone is safe and predictable. She didn't get where she is by taking risks.

Jon can't get the beautiful doctor out of his head. His talents on the field have always been enough for any woman. But if he's going to win Elizabeth's heart, he'll have to offer her much more than a wicked curveball.…

The Ranch Solution
by Julianna Morris
Harlequin Superromance
ISBN: 9780373718641 (#1864)

Trading his laptop for a…saddle?

Widower Jacob O'Donnell has to snap his teen daughter out of her rebellious ways. And his last resort to do so means temporarily swapping his Seattle boardroom for a Montana ranch. It should be simple, but nothing prepares him for the realities of a working ranch…or for Mariah Weston. This rugged country can only be paradise to someone like Mariah, whose can-do attitude and sizzling-hot temper throw Jacob harder than any horse ever could.

Yet maybe a strong woman like Mariah can get through to his daughter. One thing is for sure—Mariah is definitely getting through to Jacob! And the closer she gets to his heart, the more Jacob wants what he knows might be impossible.

Navy Orders
by Geri Krotow
Harlequin Superromance
ISBN: 9780373718658 (#1865)

Falling in love is not an order

After a romantic betrayal, naval lieutenant commander Roanna Brandywine doesn't trust anyone the way she used to. When a chance encounter brings chief warrant officer Miles Mikowski into her life, she's intrigued. But Ro has spent so long focusing on her career, she resists the attraction.

Miles has had his own share of trauma, but it's taught him that life is short and he has to go after what's important to him. Then, unexpectedly, they're ordered to investigate a sailor's suicide. They must rely on each other as they discover that his death is not as straightforward as it seems. During their investigation, they acknowledge the chemistry between them, but the real question is whether there's trust…and maybe even love.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Do readers need emotion served with !!! and adjectives?

By Karina Bliss

I'm doing a workshop next week for my local romance writers chapter on writing emotion and while I'll be confident in my material I'm worried that for the first five minutes my voice will quiver and my hands will shake.

I have this reaction because I hate public speaking but this is a small, friendly bunch of writers, many of whom I know well. So really the only reason I'll be nervous is because I'm terrified of being nervous. If i tremble and shake people might feel sorry for me which will be embarrassing. And embarrassment, as any teenager will tell you, is the worst possible fate.
Now by confiding this I know you won't feel sorry for me. You're more likely to be thinking, this woman is crazy.

Thank you, crazy is better than embarrassing.

I've been thinking that we writers sometimes push readers away by overwriting emotion. By making our big scenes too painful or angsy or difficult to read. So the reader, much like the bystander witnessing a two-year-old's tantrum in the supermarket, is compelled to look away. Give the two-year-old's harassed mother some privacy.

Lindsay Price at writing for actors said: “The emotionally engaged moment will draw an audience toward the stage, including them in the experience. The emotionally overwrought moment will turn an audience away, shutting them out of the experience.”
And the same applies to readers, don't you think?

Overwritten emotion makes the characters seem like bad actors instead of the real people we need them to be to stay engrossed in the book.

Wonderful writing teacher Alicia Rasley said don't tell the reader what to feel but get the reader feeling what the character is feeling – or would feel if he let himself. “Don't tell the reader what the emotion is. Don't even necessarily show the reader the emotion. [Use the whole scene to] inspire the reader to experience the emotion.”
In other words less is often more. Lay the groundwork by creating someone readers' care about; give the reader enough information to understand what's at stake; then get out of the way and let the character do what comes naturally which is to resist, deny and try to control their emotions – just like real people. While their body language, and what they're NOT saying, gives them away.

What do you think? Are you more engaged as a reader when you have to do some of the work or do you like everything spelled out?

The pictures, by the way, are of my son as Fagin in the school production of Oliver. At least someone in our family doesn't get stagefright.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Be a Star in Your Life

I think my dog, Misha, the German Shepherd-mix rescue from Moscow, Russia, knew I had to write a blog this morning. He woke me up very early by one perfectly calibrated leap onto the bed, accompanied by an annoying "bark!"
The good side of this is that I'm writing the blog, and better yet, I was up in time to catch the sunrise as it hit the flowers in my garden.
Summer as a kid meant long, hot days that stretched out for  weeks. So I don't understand how it's gotten to be one of my busiest times of the year. (I apologize to all dear readers in the Southern Hemisphere, or in equatorial regions). It's insane--book deadline, blog, book launch, start a new book, be a spouse, Mom, daughter, sister, friend...I'm preaching to the choir, I know. Yet still, amidst it all, I read. Always, I read. And when I read, I can take a deeper breath, hear the birds singing, and enjoy my first espresso with the blooms.
Aren't you glad you're a reader?
Leave a comment and be entered in a drawing to win a copy of my July release, NAVY ORDERS. And if you need a quicker read from The Whidbey Island Series, NAVY HOPE is my free online read over at either my blog or Harlequin. We're on Chapter Six already! My blog  Harlequin's Online Read
Star Petunia is Happy it's Monday!

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Winner from Cathryn Parry's Tuesday Blog

Congratulations, Kristina Mathews! 

Please send a mailing address via my website form here, and I'll get OUT OF HIS LEAGUE to you.

Have a great week, everyone!  Thanks for reading our blog.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Jeannie Watt's Summer Goals Winner

The winner is....Linda S! Please send an email with your mailing information to jeanniewrites @ (no spaces). Congratulations!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Question of the Month: You Got, Got, Got, Got Some Time

You have been given the gift of a free afternoon. The only requirement is that you MUST use it for something you've wanted (not needed, WANTED) to do for ages. Maybe something you used to do but no longer can, maybe something you have always wanted to try. Chores, errands, reading and writing are not allowed. How would you spend your gift of time?

Vicki Essex: A gift of an afternoon and I can't do errands, read or write? Sounds like a nightmare! 8 )Given the opportunity, I'd probably lay out the hammock and crochet. Just lying around and not worrying about the time or the things that I need to do is a luxury I haven't been able to afford for a long time.

Jennifer LohmannAssuming my free afternoon also comes with someone else to do the dishes--I'd probably make a leisurely dinner that uses lots of pots and pans and chopping and ingredients and time. There would be dessert and an audiobook to listen to while I cook. And wine. And a cocktail for when the clock hits 5 p.m.

Geri Krotow: I'd knit, or go ice skating. Or, I'd love most to go to a great movie, with popcorn that has zero calories. 

Mary Sullivan: I would drive out of the city and head to one of Ontario's gorgeous conservation areas and take a long, long hike. I miss nature. I miss my little plot of land I used to live on that backed onto forest. Don't get me wrong. I love the city and all it has to offer, but nature renews me.

Liz Talley: I need a looooong afternoon :-) I’d start with lunch at a local spot with a friend or two.  After a nice cocktail, I’d head out to shop where I’d find tons of fabulous deals and a spectacular new pair of shoes. After I bid my friends adios, I’d head to a spa for a facial.  Of course, it would be one of those days where I looked good, my hair behaved and any friends I meet say, “Have you lost weight?”  On my way home, I’d pick up marshmallows, chocolate and graham crackers and head to the lake to meet my guys.

Anna Sugden: Oooh – decisions, decisions! I’d either play a computer game (I haven’t managed to get to the last two from my favourite game company!) – I’m a big fan of adventure games <g> - or I’d teach myself to crochet again (can’t seem to get the hang of it!) or I’d learn how to make jams and jellies from all the fruit from our garden, which is stored in the freezer. And I might just find time to do a little shoe shopping ;)

Pamela Hearon: I would take to the ziplines!  We have a new one that just opened in our area, and I can't wait to try it out, but I haven't been able to find the time.  The leisurely afternoon will be precisely the opportunity I've been waiting for!

Jeannie Watt:  I would have a Perry Mason DVD marathon while sewing...or...I would go sale shopping with my daughter. It depends on where I am when I get my free afternoon.

Tara Taylor Quinn:  I would go in-line skating, at least fifteen miles, and then lay at the pool, letting the heat seep into my bones, soothing them.  After that I’d lay on a raft in the water and read, drinking something fruity with a touch a vodka until time to grill the steaks.

Mary Brady: I'd try my hand at painting. I'd find an instructor to teach me a few basics and I'd practice all afternoon, in the sunshine, at a cafe along the river, so someone could keep me in wine and cheese as I make my third grade brush strokes. And maybe by the end of the day, I'd be up to par with an average middle school student. 

Cathryn Parry:   A free afternoon? Sounds like heaven! My beach chair is going in the car trunk, and I'm driving to the ocean. I'll set up on the shore line with my feet in the water and a book in my lap. Yup, heaven.

Kris Fletcher: The kids are all in school, right? Okay. First, a lovely long walk. Next, a cozy chair, a bottomless iced latte, and a slice of my favorite lasagna pizza, cut up in tiny bites. Add every season of Big Bang Theory and I'm in heaven!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

What to do?

Mary Sullivan

I had some great ideas for my blog today, but can't for the life of me think of what they were. I've come down with a dreadful cold and feel like I'm walking around in dense fog with cement boots on my feet. I have no voice left. I'm not sure I would even be able to answer 'hello' if anyone phoned me.

I calculated that this is only the third time I've been sick in about eight years, so I can't complain. I guess I was due. I let myself get run down recently and didn't take care of myself as well as I usually do. This is the result.

I've always shied away from medication and like to opt for natural solutions. I think, for a cold, it doesn't seem to matter what I do, though. It will just have to run its course. Along the way I try to ease the symptoms. I've gargled with warm water and salt. I'm drinking chicken broth, which soothes my throat, and a ton of orange juice for Vitamin C, and also pots of herbal tea that are apparently 'cold formulas.' I know ingesting a lot of fluids is a good thing for colds.

My lovely daughter brought over a quart jar of homemade soup on her way to work yesterday morning, which was perfect. Nothing beats homemade soup for leaving one feeling both nourished and nurtured.

I woke up last Thursday morning with a very sore throat, but couldn't take it easy because my family was coming over on Friday evening for dinner, to celebrate significant achievements by two members of the family. Perhaps if I'd been able to relax for a few days, nothing much would have come of my sore throat. By the time everyone left that evening, I was exhausted.

On Saturday morning, I attended a Strawberry Social at my local Salvation Army. I attend every year with my sister. We love to browse through the used books they have for sale and pick up quite a few, including by authors I've never read. I've found some real gems that way. It's a fundraiser for the Sally Ann and I like to give them a little more than they ask for the books.

(As an aside, there were far fewer books this year. I wonder whether it's because more and more people are purchasing their books on e-readers.)

I didn't last even an hour. I had to leave my sister there and return home to bed. I knew then that I was in for the long haul with a serious cold. Fortunately, I had managed to pick up some books before having to leave, and have been enjoying them while I convalesce.

Boy, oh, boy, has this ever wreaked havoc with my writing schedule. I've gotten next to nothing written this week.

If any of you have natural remedies you use for colds, I would love to hear them. I am open to new ideas—anything to boot this cold out of my body!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Night Owl

by Cathryn Parry

As you might notice, I’m late posting this blog.  My plan yesterday evening was to work on a chunk of story edits and then write my piece for the Super blog before turning in for the night.
Just a few moments later (that’s all that it felt like!) the cat was jumping on my manuscript pages, war-gaming with my pen, and squawking at me to let him out for his early morning hunting session.

I’d done it again—I’d stayed up way past my bedtime, into the hours where my neighbors were getting up to start their early morning routines.  And I hadn’t even written my blog yet.
Now, I’m not confessing this incident to show how virtuous I am with my writing.  On the contrary—just ask my husband, he’ll tell you—I procrastinate too much and don’t always plan my time the way that I should.  But since I no longer commute every day to a job with a fixed start-time, I’m finding that my schedule has been naturally morphing into one where my body rhythms feel most comfortable.

It turns out that I love writing “third shift.”  During the summer after high school, I worked a job waitressing at a truck-stop type place (New Englanders might remember the Howard Johnson’s chain), and the only shift available to me was the 11 PM to 7 AM slot. 

At first, I was worried about my ability to stay awake all night, but as it turned out, this time slot was a natural for me, the family “night owl.”  Once I had permission to stay up late without feeling guilty for it, I grew to fall in love with working the wee hours. 
At night, there is space to think.  To stretch out.  For long stretches of time, nobody is around to talk to you because most of the world is sleeping.  It’s a perfect time to let stories unwind in your head.

The dawn is beautiful.  This morning, there were red streaks across the horizon and the world was hushed.  The cat and I stood on the porch together, breathing in the quiet, dew-scented air.
That freedom to choose your schedule is the great thing about being your own boss.  You can fit your work in around your natural inclinations, instead of letting work dictate your day.

How about you?  When do you work best?  Morning, afternoon, evening…or third shift?
Leave a reply, and I'll choose one random commenter on Saturday for a copy of Out of His League.

Cathryn Parry is the author of (almost) four Superromances.  Her third title, “Out of His League,” a Boston-set romance between an outgoing Major League baseball pitcher and a shy anesthesiologist, is a July release.  Please see her website at


Monday, June 17, 2013

Summer Goals and a Give Away

By Jeannie Watt

During the daylight hours I'm a teacher. It’s only during the twilight (and weekend) hours that I shift identities and become an author. The beauty of being a teacher is that there's a lot of vacation time built into the schedule.

When my summer break started two weeks ago, I thought I'd have s-o-o-o much free time to accomplish s-o-o-o much. By this time I figured I’d have a book outlined and half written, several dresses sewn, the house cleaned top to bottom, the basement organized, and maybe have learned a little French. Or Russian. I also wanted to read.

That was the plan. Then life happened.

So far this is what I've accomplished during my two weeks of vacation:

1) I turned in sample chapters for next book. I had the chapters pretty much written before the vacation started, but I edited on the first two days of vacation, so I count them.

2) I cut out a dress and sewed three seams.

3) I drove to Montana, toured a prison and visited my mom.
My writing space during the packing and unpacking
as I let the mail etc pile up to the point that the cat had
to hold it down for me.

4)  I managed to make the house even messier while packing and unpacking.

5) I dumped all the stuff I brought home—unorganized, mind you—in the basement.

6) I found the Rosetta Stone Russian CD in the basement. Stored CD back in basement. Who has time to learn Russian?

7) I read two books!

I therefore accomplished one of my goals. I read! And I’m satisfied, because after all, it’s only two weeks into vacation. I have the rest of the summer to finish my book, sew many dresses, clean the house top to bottom and organize the basement.  Da?

What are your summer goals? I’m itching to give away a copy of Once a Champion to a randomly chosen responder. 

UPDATE: I'll post the winner on Saturday June 22nd.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Nobody Expects the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man*

You know what deadlines are like? They're like the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man. 

I know what you're thinking. (Yes, I do. Because you are now busy spouting every line from Ghostbusters, because of course you love that movie almost as much as I do. To which I say, "We'd like to get a sample of your brain tissue.") 

 You're thinking, whoa, time out there, Fletch.  The Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man is a giant, lumbering paranormal monster that wreaks havoc on New York City at the climax of a cheesy movie that first appeared almost thirty years ago. What on earth does it have to do with deadlines? To which I say, thirty YEARS? How the heck can it have been thirty YEARS since –

Oops. I digress. 

In any case, I am convinced that the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man is indeed the perfect metaphor for a deadline. The SPMM, as we shall refer to him to save my typing fingers, appears in the movie in three different places. Yeah, you thought he only showed up after Ray Stantz latched onto his image when the Ghostbusters are ordered to choose the form which Gozer the Sumerian will assume. In fact, he appears twice before then – once on a bag of marshmallows when Dana Barrett's eggs decide to cook themselves on her counter, and again in a graffiti advertisement beside the Ghostbuster's headquarters. He's been there all along, the sneaky little devil, looking so common. So cute and cuddly. So … manageable. 
I think you can see where I'm going with this. For yes, when deadlines first appear on the horizon, they often seem harmless. Almost like something we remember from our childhood. Something that could never ever destroy us. Then suddenly, without us ever realizing what has happened, they're upon us – lumbering through our lives, wreaking havoc with our sleep patterns, stomping churches...

Okay, maybe not the churches. But there's no denying that by the time deadlines are in front of us, they are just as huge and overwhelming and capable of leaving us terrified beyond the capacity for rational thought. However, as we all know, the door swings both ways. It's only when we look those deadlines in the face and find the courage to cross the streams – to toss our fears aside and put everything we have into our work – that we can emerge victorious. We might have been slimed, we might feel possessed, we might qualify for a guest appearance on Wild Kingdom, but we will emerge. Victorious. Possibly covered in roasted marshmallow fluff, but definitely victorious. We came, we saw, we kicked it's ass. 

And then we celebrate with a Twinkie (thirty-five feet long, weighing approximately six hundred pounds) and do it all over again. 

(*Yes, I know. That line is from Monty Python, and it really should be the Spanish Inquisition, but come on. It works.)

Monday, June 10, 2013

City Girls Guide to Gardening

Rogenna's Garden
This is the view of the plot of dirt outside my back door.  Let me start by saying the City Girls Guide to Gardening is not a how to, but rather a how not to guide for gardening.

If you remember last year around this time I wrote a post called Another Sixty Dollar Tomato after spending three times that much to put in a garden.   

Those pictures I posted were pretty.  Nothing that started from seed came up.  We did, however, harvest several tomatoes. 

This year my husband reclaimed his spot down the hill for his "someday" shed.  He hasn't started building it, yet.  But he moved my garden up the hill and bought a truck load of dirt.  I layered in some shredded manuscript pages and was good to go.  

So far this garden has cost me nothing.  I think my husband spent $35 for the top soil, but used it in several of our flower beds.  I can grow flowers.  Just not vegetables.  Except this year things are looking up.  I had 20 or so packets of seed left over from last year.  

I didn't expect anything to sprout.  The seeds were a year older and nothing I planted last year took hold.  But I went on line and learned that soaking or scratching the seeds sometimes works.  So I soaked all my seeds overnight.  I didn't even attempt to start the seedlings in the house.  I planted straight to the ground.  In a rather haphazard fashion that left my Country Boy husband scratching his head. 

I planted 1 each pumpkin, cucumber, cantaloupe and watermelon in the corners.  You're supposed to plant them in mounds according to my better hald.  If I was planting according to the directions I'd have six heads of broccoli and nothing else.  Do you know they have to be 18" apart in all directions?  My garden is only 4'x6'.  I figure the vines can spill over the side where there's plenty of room to spread out.  You can't tell by this picture, but they've all sprouted beautifully.

I have 4 stalks of corn, 2 snow peas, 3 rows of broccoli which I should have thinned when they were sprouts, a row of carrots, lettuce, onion and 2 pepper plants, 1 chili and 1 bell.  The only thing that hasn't come up yet are the 2 green beans.

Maybe the secret was \keeping the tomatoes out.

I now face the daunting task of having to thin out plants eager to grow all because I had rather low expectations.  I'll try to get a close up tomorrow so you don't think I'm crazy.  There really are plants in the picture.  

Total cost of my vegetable garden for 2013: $0

Please don't forget to enter our super six-pack contest and then hop on over to my site where I'm giving away a $25 gift card.  

Monday, June 3, 2013

Calm Cooling Waters

Soothing Stream Near My Home
It's been hot and sticky on this side of the Mississippi for a week now, but this morning dawned with the promise of a cooler day. That means I get to take my laptop and write outside on my patio. We had a second paver patio installed this spring (sounds tres glamorous, but it was in reality me telling a 20-yr-old how to do it, from Internet videos I'd found). The new patio stays in the shade until early afternoon, longer if I employ the umbrella. Of course the right breeze knocks said umbrella over, squishing whichever plants it lands on (just don't hit the tomato plant that's finally sprouting blooms, I beg).
As a writer my goal is to share emotions and characters with my reader. It's not easy and takes a lifetime to study the craft to do this--writing is not a perfectible art. This past weekend I listened to a top editor (full disclosure: mine) give a workshop on characterization to my local Romance Writers of America chapter. It was inspiring, scary, overwhelming--often at the same time. Again, there is more work to be done as far as my storytelling abilities go. But the main thing the workshop gave me was comfort--as I looked around at my sister writers, all intent on improving their craft, I took heart that we're in this together. Writers and readers alike. Because we all love story. This revelation soothed my soul (and my impending panic with a looming deadline, but that's another blog).
I wanted to impart some of that soothing message to you this morning, and since this is a blog I can post photos (which aren't done in romance novels save for the cover). I picked the photo I took on a walk with my dog when we first moved here, almost two years ago. "Here" being our new home, the place my family is putting some serious roots down.
What soothes you?
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