Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Fall into Romance

Most of you know that I'm a public librarian in my day job. I love my job and one of the best thing about it is creating and running library programs, including a romance fan festival called Fall into Romance.



Fall into Romance is a two-day romance fan festival here in Durham, North Carolina. It starts with a kickoff party at Six Plates Wine Bar on Friday, November 7th and we have a full day of events on Saturday, November 8th, including Sarah Frantz, editor at Riptide speaking on Queer Romance, Farrah Rochon speaking on small town romances, Carla Neggers is talking about romantic suspense, and Cathy Maxwell is talking about what she's learned while writing. You can see the entire schedule here. There will also be swag, a book signing, and (of course) lots of chances to talk with fans and these amazing authors.

Now, I know most of you don't live in North Carolina, but you might know some people who do. I would love it if you could help me spread the word about this amazing event. The more people I have coming to Fall into Romance, the better the chance that I will get money to host another one.

If people have questions, they can contact me at my work email: jlohmann@dconc.gov.


Monday, September 29, 2014

Vintage Sewing Mania

By Jeannie Watt

I love to sew vintage patterns and that means I have to find and buy vintage patterns--right? Well, about a week ago, as the payday patterns started appearing in the mailbox, my husband said, "Haven't you got more patterns than you could possibly sew?"

I looked back at him in surprise and replied, "I'm a pattern collector."

"What does a pattern collector do with patterns?"

"The same thing a thimble collector does with thimbles."

"Display them?"

"No. That would expose them to damaging light. I put them in boxes, labeled by type and decade and on the weekends I go through the boxes and dream."

"Uhhh....okay."

I was so glad the conversation ended before we got into the fine points that separate collecting from hoarding.

I sew a lot of my patterns. I would sew all of them if I had the time. I don't, but I still have big plans. I originally searched only for patterns that I could make into vintage inspired clothing to wear to my day job, but as I searched, I started buying patterns for other reasons.

Some I buy simply because of the lines. I love the simplicity of this designer wedding dress. That's Jean Shrimpton modeling!


Some I buy because they remind me of my childhood--back when getting your first bra, wearing makeup, ratting your hair and slipping into heels was a big deal.



Once upon a time I owned this halter dress pattern. I told my mom that if I made it, surely someone would ask me to prom. She said she wouldn't spend the money to make a dress for an occasion I may or may not be attending.  Mom was right. When I saw the pattern on eBay, I snapped it up to remind me to never make a dress on spec.


A lot of patterns I buy because they're funky and old and I like them. These fall into the may-make-if-I-feel-like-an-adventure category.




Some I buy because it would be wrong not to.


My son is getting a smoking jacket for Christmas one of these years.

And I honestly do sew many of the patterns into clothing that I wear. This is the first vintage pattern I ever sewed. It's from 1935
I made this pattern and wore it to the Harlequin party at RWA Nationals. It's from 1955, I think.


















This is a contender for next year's Harlequin party. I'm hoping it'll be a Black and White Ball. Black satin, white over skirt...or vice versa.

And there it is...a brief sampling of my pattern collection. If you're interested in seeing the patterns I have finished sewing, check out my sewing blog, Retro Sewing Romance Writer. I'm in the middle of a Victoria cut away coat, hoping to get done in time for Dicken's Fair this year.

My question to you--do you collect anything? If so, what do you do with your collection? Looking forward to hearing from you!






Thursday, September 25, 2014

Special Announcement!
From now until Tuesday, September 30, you can get the print version of Husband By Choice for $1.40 off the already discounted price at Harlequin.com.
Simply click on the book above and scroll down on the sale page to find Husband!
And while you're there, shop the other books on sale at this one time low discount price!
 
 
Husband is the third book in my new "Where Secrets Are Safe" series.  The first two, Wife By Design, and Once A Family were out earlier this year.  The fourth, Child By Chance is out in December.  We have Mother By Fate in March and a sixth book in June.  Three more books are currently on the table.  This series is interrelated only in that it revolves around The Lemonade Stand, a unique, resort like women's shelter on the coast of California.  The books themselves stand alone.  Residents come and go at the Stand and these are their stories.  They are also the stories of people who associate with The Lemonade Stand.  Police officers, medical personnel, school counselors.
 
Husband By Choice is a book that truly stands alone.  In this series, and in the world of fiction as well.  It's been dissed as not a romance.  You don't see the hero and heroine on the page together, falling in love, or developing a relationship.  But you see a love that is unconditional.  And one that is not.  This books has been on the Amazon Mystery and Thriller best seller list since six weeks before it was released.  And I believe it's the best love story I've ever written.
 
To celebrate Husband's release, I will give away e-copies of the first two books in this series to one commenter today!  And if you've already read the book, please stop by it's page on Amazon and leave a review!
 
Is it a romance or isn't it?

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

What's In Your TBR Pile?


I have so many books to read!  So many that I fantasize about a book-reading vacation.  I can just picture it.  Me in a hammock somewhere warm and tropical, a nice fruity drink by my side, and books.  Piles of books.  And my Kindle, of course.

Where would I start?  There's tons of romance novels waiting on my Kindle, so that might be a good place.  Right now I'm reading a book by a dear friend, Lia Riley, who has her second new adult novel coming out.  It's called Sideswiped, and although I'm not usually a big fan of new adult, I'm a huge fan of her writing, so I love it.  I'm almost done, and next in the queue are Liz Talley's The Sweetest September and Kathleen O'Brien's Betting on the Cowboy.  They both look so good that I'm not sure how I'm going to choose which to read first.  Close my eyes and point maybe?

And if I keep scrolling along the screen, I find so many other treasures.  Donna Alward's The House on Blackberry Hill.  Sarah M. Anderson's Rodeo Dreams.  Books by Jeannie Watt, Kristan Higgins, Holly Jacobs, Maggie McGinnis... the list of amazing authors and their books goes on and on.  And that's just the romance!  I'm in a bookclub where we're reading literary fiction, like The Orchardist and non-fiction, like Sin in the Second City.  And my father-in-law has been re-reading all of John Steinbeck's novels, since we live in "Steinbeck Country," and he's gotten me all fired up to do the same.

Can you see how much I need my reading vacation?  Anyone want to come with me?  And if you did, what books would you bring along?

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Getting the Word on the Street—conventions, festivals and celebrating the book

I love festivals. Whether it’s a convention or a carnival, I love it when people congregate to show their appreciation for a common interest, or simply to celebrate and have fun.

This past weekend, I had the great privilege to once again participate in Toronto’s Word on the Street festival celebrating reading, literacy and the written word. As a member of the Toronto Romance Writers, the Toronto chapter of the Romance Writers of America, I got to connect with readers and hand out promotional items for my own books while advocating the group that helped me learn the craft of writing, as well as educate me on the publishing industry.

This is a fantastic annual outdoor event that draws thousands of lovers of books and more. I’m proud to say I’ll be with TRW again at a brand-new book festival in November called Inspire! The Toronto International Book Fair. 

I’ve yet to go to either the RWA Nationals conference or the RT Book Lovers Convention, but one day I hope to, if only to meet my wonderful colleagues who write for Harlequin Superromance.

FanExpo Canada in Toronto.
This was on a slow day.
A month earlier, I went to FanExpo Canada, the Canadian equivalent of San Diego Comic-Con. This is one of my favorite events, with guests, celebrity autograph sessions and panels, workshops and shopping galore. It’s a chance for me to indulge the geekiest parts of me and to see the pageantry of fandom in all its glory. One day, I hope to go to SDCC, but for now, I’m content to stay on home soil, since so many wonderful guests come to Toronto.

One day. I’d also like to go to a Renaissance fair. Call me a romantic, but I love the idea of medieval-themed gatherings. Walking around a fairground with a roasted turkey leg in hand is on my bucket list. And since the airing of the Outlander TV series, I wouldn’t mind seeing a Scottish Highland games event, either. Who doesn’t want to watch burly men in kilts hucking logs across a field in a caber toss?

What kinds of festivals do you like to go to? Are there any you’ve always wanted to attend? Let me know in the comments below!  


Monday, September 22, 2014

NOW HERE IS A MAN

Those of you who are friends with me on FaceBook know I've spent the past two weeks in Alaska.  Yeah, I've been posting the cheesy photos and keeping a running commentary going on the highlights of the trip.  And originally, I'd planned to write this post about my voyage to the last frontier.  Trust me--it will happen.
Just not today.
Today, I'm led to share with you a much more personal post.
Today would have been my dad's 87th birthday.  He died Dec. 21st.
Sitting in the hospital with Daddy during those long days and longer nights before his death, I passed the quiet time working on the first draft of HIS KIND OF PERFECTION, my October Superromance release.  The drama in that story?  From the heart, as I allowed the emotions I was experiencing to pour out of me and onto the page.
It helped me deal with the inevitable.
But the man I want to give you a glimpse of today isn't the one who was lying in that hospital bed.  I want you to see the one who played croquet with me in our backyard on summer nights.  The one who took an afternoon off work when I was eight to take me to Jack the Giant Killer on the last day the movie was showing in our town.  I want to share the guy who was the life of every party--the man who could tell a joke with perfect comedic timing.  The man who never met a stranger.  The most generous person I've ever known.  If a needy hand was out, he filled it with his time, his knowledge, or his money--whichever was most appropriate ... and sometimes all three.
He had a wonderful voice, singing in a barbershop quartet for many years and following up that act by becoming a successful square-dance caller in our area.  When we traveled in the car, my family sang to pass the miles.
He was an avid reader,  and saw to it that I was, too--often buying me books as presents.  He kept two or three books going at one time and read every night before he went to sleep.
I do the same.
People say I look like him, and I know they're referring to my facial features.  But I hope I look like him beneath the exterior shell as well.  He was a swell guy.
When you read my April release (MY WAY BACK TO YOU) you'll find his humor written into the character of  Eli Russell.  I hope he makes you laugh.
He sure did me, and I miss that every day.
But especially today.
(((hugs))) 

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Behind the scenes with the Durham Police Department

One thing about being a published author I don't think I'll ever get used to is how many pans you have to keep on the fire all at once. For example, right now I'm supposed to be promoting Winning Ruby Heart, my September Superromance (break for promotion--the book is awesome, you should go buy a copy to give to a friend!). I'm also working on a project that's just for me and I'm doing research for the another book.

Whew.

All this is a lot, but it's fun. The research part of the work can lead you down paths you didn't even know existed. One of the books I'm working on has a homicide detective for a hero. Since everything I know about police work comes either from watching Law & Order (I can watch those episodes over and over and over), The Wire, Homicide, or reading Homicide, I knew I needed to talk with a detective.

I emailed several people in the Durham Police Department, picking people off their website (or who posted to my local police district listserv) who I thought might be helpful, until I got a response from the awesome Kimberle Walker, a public affairs specialist for the department. She both helped me get an interview with a homicide detective and pointed me in the direction of the Citizen's Police Academy (CPA).

The CPA has been amazing. It's a six-week course, two nights a week and we've been learning about how the department works. So far we've covered crime scenes, homicide, domestic violence, and fraud investigations, forensics (which I had to miss for work-related reasons), 9-1-1 (including touring the call center), recruitment, hostage negotiations, and SET (Selective Enforcement Team aka SWAT). And I've still got three weeks left!

This course has been especially interesting to take in the wake of the protests and police action in Ferguson, Missouri. Durham, like most (if not all) cities around the country, has a problem targeting minorities for traffic stops. The city of Durham (police department included) is working on addressing this racial bias (see this article about the process) and creating a city that is fair and just for every citizen. The questions Ferguson brought to the front page of papers around the country are being discussed in the class, with the police department. The openness with which the department, the city, and its citizens are talking about these issues gives me hope for the future, at least in Durham.

The class has cut into my writing time and it's so interesting that I keep having to remind myself that it is for work and I'm not goofing off. What I'm learning in the class should make my writing richer, not just the cop book I'm working on, but all my future books. The spiraling effect of research is the best part about it! As an author, I never know when research I did five years ago will pop up and take a scene from good to perfect.

Do you know if your local police department offers a citizen's police academy? Have you ever taken one? Would you take one?


Wednesday, September 17, 2014

First Draft of Superromance No 5 DONE!!


Woohoo!! Last Friday I typed The End on my fifth Superromance and (the fifth book in my ongoing series) - I am so darn happy :)

All my Superromances are set in the fictional UK seaside town of Templeton Cove and so far all my characters are British too…although I am feeling I might have an American come to town for a visit very soon. This is my last contracted book so fingers crossed, I will be offered another once I hand this book in by the end of next month.

The stories are a mix of contemporary romances and romantic suspense novels which is one of the reasons I can't seem to leave this small town behind and move onto to a new setting. I still have so many stories I want to tell.

Book 4 is my first ever Christmas story and brings a brand new hero and heroine to my cast of characters - Christmas At The Cove is a reunion/secret baby story and was one of my favorite to write. A contemporary romance with lots of heartache as well as joy, all set against the backdrop of snuggly coats and boot, Christmas lights, ice-rinks and hot mugs of coffee. Love it!

As authors, we need to keep the ideas flowing regardless of how hard it is to sit ourselves in front of the  laptop every day - luckily I garner most of my inspiration from the far too many hours of TV I watch. I still want to write about a fire in Templeton, a reunion between a child given up for adoption and his birth mum, as well as the investigation into the untimely death of one of my established characters. You'll have to keep reading to find out who!

Happy Reading!

Rachel x
Christmas At The Cove - Nov 2014
What Belongs To Her - Mar 2014
A Man Like Him - Aug 2013
Finding Justice - Feb 2013


Monday, September 15, 2014

Guilty Pleasures

Mary Sullivan

This weekend was one filled with guilty pleasures and it was wonderful.

Too often my work week extends into the weekend. I end up working on either the writing or the writing business. My daughter has told me so many times to make every weekend a 'dedicated' weekend…to leave the work strictly for Monday through Friday. It rarely works that way, though. Even if I don't actually write on the weekend, I will write up blogs, or do research, or do promotion, or judge contests, or…the list goes on.

This weekend, I had the most relaxing I've had in ages. I attended an antique and book sale, I had a leisurely, hours-long lunch with a friend and we laughed a lot. I watched shows I've been meaning to catch up on. I read two books.

I'm crazy about all kinds of puzzles, so I did a bunch of word puzzles and also worked on a jigsaw puzzle.

It felt so good to kick back and take time for myself.

I ate ice cream! I rarely keep ice cream in the house because I find it so hard to resist when it's in the freezer calling my name—I just love it—but I went out yesterday afternoon and bought myself one of those small promo packs of Rolo ice cream as a treat. So bad. Not only ice cream, but also candy!

In the grocery store, I was actually able to walk past an entire display of chocolate I really like. Don't know how I had the strength to resist. Maybe because of the Rolo chocolates in the ice cream I had already picked up. LOL

One of my biggest guilty pleasures is potato chips. I really can't keep those in the house, and don't buy them.

What are your guilty pleasures? What are your taboo snacks you turn to when you think you deserve a treat? What do you turn to when you need a little boost, or just feel you deserve to kick back and do something fun?

Friday, September 12, 2014

Hi, I'm Kristina!

I've been pondering a great, catchy blog headline for about five minutes now...and finally decided since I'm introducing myself I should just, well, introduce myself! So, here goes!

Hi, everyone! I'm Kristina Knight, I'm a romance addict. And a new SuperRomance author (my first Super comes out in January). And a mom (to one awesome 6-year-old) and a wife (RadioMan makes my Twitter and Facebook feeds at least once a day). I like to quilt and I'm starting a new project this weekend for our neighbor's new baby! And I love the romance genre - reading it, writing it.

I read my first Harlequin when I was about 11. We were on summer break, visiting my grandmother, and I wanted something to do...so I 'borrowed' one of her Harlequin Presents. It was a book called Snow Bride and the pages were yellowed and dog-eared and she'd left a note about it on the front page 'VVG' - which stood for very, very good. I gobbled up that first book and picked up another. And another. And another. I graduated to Danielle Steel and Jackie Collins books in high school, along with Jane Austin and the Bronte sisters. I've read mysteries and thrillers, literary fiction, biographies, westerns, horror...but romance has always been my first love.

My first book was published in 2012 and since then I've published 8 more with four more in the works over the next year or so...so bad for a two year period! I'm so excited to be part of the SuperRomance family and I can't wait to get to know you all!

Once upon a time, Kristina Knight spent her days running from car crash to fire to meetings with local police--no, she wasn't a troublemaker, she was a journalist. Her career took her all over the United States, writing about everything from a serial killer's capture to the National Finals Rodeo. Along the way she found her very own Knight in Shining Cowboy Boots and an abiding love for romance novels. And just like the characters from her favorite books, she's living her own happily ever after.

Kristina writes sassy contemporary romance novels; her books have appeared on Kindle Best Seller Lists. She loves hearing from readers, so drop her a line!

Little Books, Big Impressions....

by Amber Leigh Williams

November 2012 - expecting!
 
Since my son (who is now almost two) was born, he has slowly inherited the bulk of my childhood library. This is quite impressive. I had more Little Golden Books than any other child I knew. Family members knew better than to get me clothes or board games for my birthday. I was perfectly content with books and coloring books. A few weeks ago, my son disappeared into his room while I was writing. I could hear him rummaging around his bookshelves, trying to find something new. A few minutes later, he reappeared with a Winnie the Pooh hardback picture book, one of those old ones from way back when. I read him the story and he placed it on the floor to go and rummage for another.

Later, while I was making dinner, my son brought the book to my husband to read. I heard them reading it quietly together after which my husband asked me, “Why are there names in this book?”

I glanced at the page, saw the penciled names scrawled there in my own childish handwriting and pursed my lips, thinking back. “Those were some of my stuffed animals,” I replied.

He looked at the names and frowned. “And why did you write them in the book?”

“It’s like a library book,” I told him. “You know how you write your name in the front of a library book?”

He thought it over then slowly began to smile. “So I take it you were the librarian….”

“Yes,” I said. When I saw my husband’s smile grow into a teasing grin, I sighed. “You pretended to be Robin Hood. I pretended to be a librarian. We all had our things.”

 
Whether our little boy pretends to be a character of folklore or a librarian remains to be seen. We’ll be thrilled either way. However, as children my husband and I both struggled a bit with reading and learning to love the written word. For me, this came in adolescence. The hub is still coming around to it. So from the moment we found out that we had a baby on the way, we began buying books. Board books. Picture books. Counting books. Story books. Even interactive books. We might have quibbled over names and methods of child-rearing. But the one thing we both knew with absolute certainty was that our child would be surrounded by books and hopefully come to love them. Because aside from unconditional love and support, the greatest gift any parent or guardian can give to a child is the gift of literacy.

Whatever either of us are doing, however important it may seem, when our son brings my husband or me a book to read, we drop whatever we’re doing and read to him. This point was really driven home to us over the early summer months when our little guy went through an independent phase. He would pick up a book and start flipping through it but he no longer brought it to us to read and if we tried to do so anyway, he would grow agitated. We knew this was just a phase and that it was all a part of his toddler years. Still, we missed the cuddles and joy story time usually brought.
 
 
In July, we were all-too-happy when, little by little, this phase ended and he brought books to us to read to him again, crawling into our laps to listen and flip the pages by himself. Only this time when we opened the books and began reading, he did something terrific. He turned his face to ours and puckered his lips for a kiss as if to say “thank you.” Two months later, he’s still doing this. It’s enough still to make me sniffle. It’s even greater to watch my husband melt when it happens. Above all else, it shows us that our little guy attributes books to love and affection and we’re doing something right. Our plan is working! Almost as much as watching him grow and achieve what he will in life, we’re so excited to see how his love of stories and books evolves.
 
Here's a little gallery of pictures from our latest story hour and the minion's favorite book, Five Little Pumpkins. I hope you enjoy!
 
"Woooo went the wind!"

"Aaaand out went the light!"

"And the five little pumpkins rolled out of sight!"

"The End!"

"Read it again, Daddy."

"But first a kiss...."
We're less than a month away from the launch of my second Harlequin Superromance novel, Married One Night. You can preorder your copy today at Amazon! In addition, RT Book Reviews has given Married One Night 4-1/2 Stars. Thank you, RT! Readers, you can find out more about Married One Night and the October book launch at my website....
 
Happy reading, everybody!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Question of the Month: the Animal Adventure Edition

As if the oceans weren't scary enough, what with the sharks and the jellyfish and the icebergs, now we have to fear beavers, too. (http://news.nationalpost.com/2014/09/05/vicious-beaver-attacks-halifax-snorkeler-off-nova-scotias-coast/)
With this in mind, please we asked the Super Authors to share one of their  more memorable animal encounters. 

 Joanne Rock: My house in the Adirondack Mountains is surrounded by wildlife. Fox, coyote and deer all play nearby and we get along just fine. Except one summer, our raccoon population got out of control. Worse, they were determined to hang out in our garage as often as possible. Luckily, my husband was up for the challenge, setting up an elaborate trap involving a rope, a stick, and an empty garbage can. It was exactly the kind of thing Wile E. Coyote would order from ACME. Not only die he catch the unsuspecting raccoon, he went on to film the "catch and release" program, narrating the whole thing in his best Steve Irwin Aussie accent. The raccoon was highly photogenic, and the footage has become a family classic. But it's not quite as frequently viewed as the time my husband pulled the same trick and caught a skunk in similar fashion. Yes, I have it on film. Yes, my husband knew to hold it with the tail down to keep it from spraying. Trouble was, eventually he had to let it go...

Vicki Essex:  In 2006, I was in England on vacation with my husband's family. We were staying in Lymington, a town in the New Forest area, which is famous for its wild ponies. They're a protected breed that roam the area openly and have the right of way on roads. 

One day, my husband and brother-in-law and I took a walk off the beaten path. We somehow ended up in a boggy marsh where the thick, black mud threatened to suck us down. To escape, we climbed over a barbed wire fence and ended up in a field where a dozen or more of these New Forest ponies were grazing. Realizing our precarious situation, my husband and his brother warned me not to startle the animals, speaking low and giving them a wide berth without walking behind any of them. As I went along, I carefully declared to the animals that we were lost tourists, and that we hadn't meant to disturb them or trespass, but would they very much mind I we passed?

One of the ponies looked up and slowly plodded toward me. I reached out a hand, and she sniffed it, then let me pet her nose. Other grew interested, but didn't come close. After that, we left quietly and without incident. I like to think that pony was giving us permission to walk through their pasture.  

Jennifer Lohmann: For having grown up in rural Idaho, I'm not sure I have that many memorable animal encounters. My brother and father have had encounters with bears and moose and elk and such, but I missed all those. However, I do remember once walking back from the Snake River Canyon with a friend of mine. To get back to my house from the canyon rim, we had to walk through a neighbor's field. This must have been late in the season, because it's normally a corn field, but they had cattle grazing in the field. Anyway, we were walking back with my dogs and the dogs (Max, the golden lab mix in particular) got it into their head to chase the cattle. The cattle took umbrage with being chased and ran. Since we were yelling at the dogs, the dogs were ran towards us, herding the cattle as they went. My friend and I ran like the dickens for the fence, desperate to get to the other side before the cows got to us. Of course, it was an electrified fence, so you can't just climb over or through, but you have to create a gap with rubber-soled shoes and a kerchief that you can climb through without hitting the wire. In memory, we just barely got through the fence before the cattle were upon us, but it probably wasn't as close a shave as that.

Mary Sullivan: When I was twenty, a girlfriend and I bicycled through the Atlantic provinces of Canada. Crazy, I know, but at the time we didn't understand the dangers of two young women traveling alone on the highway. We started with a visit to rural Newfoundland to meet my grandparents, aunts, uncles and 43 cousins. It was my first visit to the province where my parents had been raised. I grew up in a large city and knew nothing about rural matters. My mum wanted me to climb to the top of the small mountain (or large hill—at any rate, a long hike) that overlooked the harbour, as she used to do as a child. It was supposed to have a spectacular view of the harbour and we might happen to catch a glimpse of an iceberg or a whale.

So we climbed and climbed until we found ourselves on a small plateau that rose gently to the far edge, so we couldn't see the harbour unless we got close. We were met by a group of goats huddled toward the edge. We couldn't get near it to see the view. Born and raised in the city, neither of us had ever had any exposure to goats. We were afraid to approach them. They turned en masse and came toward us. We freaked out and ran without ever seeing what we had climbed so arduously to see. They chased us back down and off the mountain.

When we got back to my grandfather's house, breathless, and told him our tale, he laughed and laughed. The story spread quickly throughout the community and we became the sheepish recipients of a lot of good-natured ribbing. Apparently, the goats were friendly and chased us for our attention. We didn't know. The extent of our knowledge was Three Billy Goats Gruff and we were terrified of being butted with their hard heads!
 
Kristina Knight:  I was raised on a farm, but I really don't remember many scary animal
experiences. I do remember catching chicken pox when I was about 5. I don't know who put the idea into my head - or if it came to me all on my own! - but I knew I was itchy and uncomfortable and I didn't want anyone else to be. So I packed my favorite pillow and blanket into a big
cardboard box, along with a couple of toys...and I moved myself into the chicken coop. I was only out there a few minutes before my mom found me and explained that I couldn't live with the chickens even though I had the chicken pox...

Geri Krotow: At heart I'm a bird lover, and I seem to find hawks and eagles wherever we go. On Whidbey Island in Washington State, bald eagles were more common than sparrows. I've seen bald eagles here in Central Pennsylvania, too. Last summer our German Shepherd-mix rescue, Misha, was alert at the patio door but not barking or even whining, which was very unusual for him. I walked up behind him and found out why--a huge red-tailed hawk was perched on the same chair I write at, eyeing our trellises that were covered with purple hyacinth bean vines. It has to be a big bird to keep my dog quiet! When I sit outside or take our parrot out for some fresh air, I'm very cognizant of the raptors and don't take any chances.
 
Jeannie Watt: I seem to have issues with animals showing up at my house in odd ways.
For instance there was the time I went out to the garage to get something out of my car and there was a goat standing next to the car. Oddly, I didn't own a goat--nor did my neighbors. She just...appeared. I live miles from my nearest neighbor, so it was a bit strange.

Then there was the time that 24 starlings flew down my chimney and popped out the furnace vent in the basement. We had 24 soot-covered birds flapping around inside the house. It took a long time to catch all those birds and release them back outside. The cat thought it was the best day ever!

And then there were the two baby snakes that showed up in our basement...fortunately that never happened again.


Sarah M. Anderson:  I just had an interesting animal encounter--a barred owl showed up in the tree outside my office for several days in a row! I named him Rothchild. He's trying to get my squirrel (I named her Silky because she is very sleek) but so far, it's been a draw. Rothchild the Owl has eaten several cicadas for me, though. The funny thing about Rothchild is I'm pretty sure he's got the worst case of Owl Insomnia EVER because I haven't heard him at night--I've only seen him between the hours of 10 and 2 in the middle of the day!

Tara Taylor QuinnI was sitting in my office a few years ago, looking out the wall of windows toward the mountain that was several acres off in the distance.  I thought I saw something move.  I watched, and saw it again.  A coyote, I was sure.  That was all that was really out there.  Or so we told ourselves.  As it drew closer, I knew it wasn’t a coyote.  It was a mountain lion!  It was big.  Really big.  It not only walked down the mountain, but kept coming.  I had three dogs in the office with me and I gathered them and pushed them under by desk, blocking the way so they couldn’t get out.  I was terrified that one of them would start barking and draw the predatory animal to us.  The office had a French door, all glass, and an entire wall of windows.  I told myself I was over-reacting.  There was no way it would come that close.  It kept coming.  Right up to my office.  To my office door, and then turned, going down to the driveway where, at the end, was a sewer drain.  It went into the big sewer pipe and disappeared.  I was later told that they come down off the mountain during droughts to get water.  Thankfully my babies minded their manners and kept quiet!

Anna Sugden: As for me, most people know I love penguins. In one of my former careers, as a marketing exec, I was in charge of a brand of bath products and got to work with a penguin! The time had come for a new ad and the advertising agency proposed a concept which included a clip of some kiddies in those hooded bathrobes being followed by a penguin. Very cute. So we agreed it and I looked forward to the shoot – as did everyone else! The big day arrived and so did the king penguin, in his special crate, al ong with a penguin handler (!) and a vet (to make sure the penguin wasn’t being abused). We were warned that the penguin was in mating mode (which we needed to get the nice colours) and a little grumpy. The set was closed and we all had to be silent as the penguin was released from his crate. He stank of fish and OMG what a diva! All he had to do was walk across the set in a reasonably straight line (they’d edit the kids in later). Would he do that? The penguin handler tried everything, but the blasted penguin kept wandering off and squawking and snapping at everyone! Finally, we had to entice him with some fish on a piece of string. The handler held it in front of the penguin and walked backwards. We almost had the shot, but then halfway across, the penguin got cross and lunged at the handler. It took a whole morning to get a 10s clip that would only be about 5s in the final advert! I tried to find a copy of the advert on You Tube to include, but I couldn’ t. I’ll save the story about working with the kids for another time. It’s true what they say – never work with animals or children!

Liz Talley:  My mother swears I have some sort of strange animal magnetism. When I was a toddler, a panther peed on me through the bars of his cage. When I was in high school, I was bit by a monkey. It was one of those spider monkeys who actually walked up, placed my finger in his mouth and bit me! And when my husband and I were newlyweds, I was attacked in a park by an amorous duck who attached himself to my hand and proceeded to mate with my arm (Boy, was he confused!) I couldn’t get away from the duck – he chased me around the park and everyone stopped jogging and died laughing. It was NOT funny to me. That duck did not understand NO means NO.  Honestly, I was rat her frightened to go to Alaska with all those wild animals roaming around. I’m quite often humped by dogs, but I don’t think I could have handled a moose. Let’s just say animals like me a lot.

Now readers, tell us - what are some of YOUR most memorable animal encounters? 

Monday, September 8, 2014

Thanks, Rogenna!

 For over two years now, the task of managing this blog - changing the covers and calendar dates on the sidebar, adding new authors to both the appropriate page and the email loop, assembling the New Releases page each month, running the contest, and more - was ably and admirably handled by Rogenna Brewer. She carried out her tasks with efficiency and grace, all while writing for Super, self-publishing other works, building an eBook cover business, and - oh yeah - doing the life and family thing. And for a good chunk of that time, there was a day job in the mix as well!

Ro has recently handed over the job of maintaining the blog, but we can't let her go without saying a huge and heartfelt THANK YOU for the hours and attention she has given to the blog. She has been a delight to work with. We send her off on her new adventures with much gratitude and a bucket of good wishes.

Don't be a stranger, Ro!

Saturday, September 6, 2014

A Word About Our Super Six-Pack Contest

You all know that each month, we do a drawing for a six-pack of Supers from assorted authors, right? (If not, check out our Contest Page!)

Now, maybe it was just me, but I always thought that making a comment on a blog automatically entered that commenter into the drawing. In fact, that's not the case. After you make your comment, you need to pop over to the contest page and hit the appropriate button.Then and only then are you entered.

You all are probably far more clever than I am and knew that already, but just in case, I wanted to make sure I passed the info along!

Thursday, September 4, 2014

The Big City

The writing life allows for flexibility that I cherish. Just as being a reader means I'm never bored, travel need not curtail my work. Today I'm writing on the train as hubby and I go into New York City to have lunch with our daughter for her birthday. She's a college freshman and let's face it--any opportunity to go into NYC is usually a good one! As the wheels click I'm adding words to NAVY JUSTICE, out in August 2015. I'm also doing this on my smartphone as the wifi in the station is woefully weak.
Do you like big cities? What's the last one you visited?
Leave a comment and I'll enter your name for a signed copy of NAVY RESCUE, book #3 in my Whidbey Island series! Thanks for stopping in. All aboard!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Hello from a New-to-Supers-Author

Today is like my first day in a new school. I've got all the right books under my arm. I wore my cutest sweater. Now I'm just hoping I find my way around...

Joanne & Jamie
Allow me to introduce myself. I'm Joanne Rock, a new-to-Superromance author but a long time Harlequin writer. Most recently, I've been in the Blaze line where I once rubbed elbows with other stellar Superromance authors like Sarah Mayberry, Jeannie London, and Dawn Atkins. Before that, I did some Harlequin Temptations where I got to meet the now-Super Kathleen O'Brien and Jamie Sobrato. I've also ventured back in medieval times for the occasional Harlequin Historical, although I may be the only current Superromance author who took that particular path.

One of my
Harlequin Historicals
My point is... I'm no stranger to romance! I love the whole big genre and I read it widely from paranormal to YA and on to lots of contemporaries. I like to think that love stories are my language. They resonate with me and they are the stories that I'm most interested in reading about and telling. But once that criteria is met--ie, give me romance!--I've never met a subgenre I didn't like.

The really appealing thing for me about Superromance is the longer length and the need to tell a lot of story. Yes, the stories are more emotional and complex. But there's also room for a peek into other characters's lives beyond the hero and heroine. I really love that part. In my debut for the series, Promises Under the Peach Tree, I got to explore a story line for the hero's teenage niece. I also got to check in with the hero's brother now and again to give glimpses of his marital struggles. Those elements of the story make the world so real for me. Because as much as we'd like to live in a vacuum while we are falling in love (it's a wonderful place to be, after all), that simply doesn't happen. Our worlds connect with so many others, and their stories all have an affect on ours. In Superromance, we get to bring that whole world to life.

My first Superromance!
I had so much fun writing this book that I wanted to spend some more time in the story world--the fictional small town of Heartache, Tennessee. I wrote a follow up that will be out in April 2015. And after that, I still couldn't leave! I'm writing the third Heartache story now. I just hope you like the world as much as I do.

I'm looking forward to spending more time here--on the blog and in the series--in the months ahead. I look forward to hearing from you and finding out about the kinds of stories you love best. Don't be shy... hop on the blog and wave hello so I can feel like I had a good first day of school! While you're at it I'd love to know what you enjoy most in a Superromance. The realistic emotions and conflicts? The longer length? Or do you like seeing a certain author's name on the cover-- like the fantastic Tara Taylor Quinn? Share with me on the boards today and I've got a fun prize package for one random poster. (See pic!!) Winner announced on this thread on Friday.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Congratulations To Our Super Six-Pack Winner!

Congratulations, Marelou!  
You are the winner of a Super Six-Pack!


 

Super September Releases!

DESERT HEAT
Kathleen Pickering

This situation is heating up 

Women are disappearing in Adobe Creek, Arizona, and it's up to Detective Meg Flores to stop it. But when New York detective Tico Butler is called in to take over the case, Meg feels threatened. Will he also take over her job? She's prepared to hate him—but she's not prepared for the intense chemistry between them! 

From the moment Tico arrives, Meg is struck by his bad-boy good looks and his smooth-talking charm. She may not have wanted him here, but he's proving hard to resist. And when they go undercover together, the desert isn't the only thing getting hotter….


HUSBAND BY CHOICE
Tara Taylor Quinn

Love runs free 

Meredith Bennet lives for two people—her husband, Max, and their young son, Caleb. She also lives in fear of her abusive ex-husband, Steve, a man she's been running from for years. She thought she'd finally eluded him. But when it becomes apparent that he's found her, she makes a drastic decision. She goes on the run again—by herself—to protect the two people she loves most. 

Meredith finds solace and safety in a new identity at The Lemonade Stand, a unique women's shelter. With Steve on the hunt for her and Max desperate to get his wife back, she will discover if love really is stronger than evil.

WINNING RUBY HEART
Jennifer Lohmann

It's a race to their beginning… 

Exposing world-class athlete Ruby Heart's cheating scandal five years ago made reporter Micah Blackwell's career. Falling in love with her now could end it. Yet watching her determination to return to the top, he can't resist the woman she has become. 

Working with Ruby to tell America her story, Micah falls deeper under her spell. But at a crucial moment, his feelings for her conflict with his job—the very thing that once saved him. Now he must choose between his skyrocketing career and the unlikely love of a good woman….



PROMISES UNDER THE PEACH TREE
Joanne Rock

The trouble with Heartache 

Nina Spencer swore she was done with Heartache, Tennessee, when she left the town—and her sexy ex, Mack—in her rearview mirror. But when her bakery business is rocked by scandal, she needs a place to regroup. What she doesn't need is Mack Finley reminding her of peach-flavored kisses and the hold he still has on her. 

Mack never forgot Nina—not that he didn't try. Yet between caring for his family and organizing the annual Harvest Fest, he's overwhelmed and he needs Nina's help. They can work together without getting swept up in memories and the rush of brand-new passion…right?


THIS GOOD MAN
Janice Kay Johnson

A man of integrity…or not? 

The moment Captain Reid Sawyer helps social worker Anna Grant with a sticky situation, she's hooked. He's gorgeous and clearly interested in her. Yet even as he pursues her, she senses he's holding back. For someone who prizes honesty and doing the right thing, how much of his evasion can Anna tolerate? 

Her trust in Reid is further shaken when he confesses what he's done to protect his newly discovered brother. Is Reid really one of the good guys? Then he's involved in a hostage situation. Suddenly, she fears she could lose him before telling him how she truly feels!


MORE THAN A RANCHER
Claire McEwen

Does he dare to follow her lead?

Ballroom dancer Jenna Stevens is done with all things romance. It's so much more satisfying to focus on her career. That is, until she meets Sandro Salazar—a handsome, brooding small-town chef and sometimes rancher. Jenna is drawn to him immediately, but there's no way Sandro could fit into her fast-paced, urban life. 

Still, as she gets to know this reformed bad boy, she begins to wonder if maybe their two worlds can merge. One thing's for certain—Jenna will have to take the lead if she has any hope of Sandro seeing what's possible for the two of them…together.



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