Monday, December 21, 2015

Reunion Romances Are So Sweet

In high school and college the last thing any of us (usually) want to think about is the reunion. Going back to the smelly gym for a night of boxed canapes, punch and retro music? No, thank you.

But wait a minute.

We all know that feeling - you see someone familiar and your heart leaps a little bit and a smile spreads across your face because some almost-forgotten memory returns as clear as a summer sky. Like the first moment you noticed H.I.M. standing beside the lockers, football jersey covering his chest and faded Levis covering his bum. Or when you see that girl who listened as you cried your heart out over H.I.M. and didn't tell anyone, not even when she got really made because you bailed on her when H.E. asked if you wanted to grab a snack at the drive-in after school.

Those moments can't be had unless we first have the horrible, terrible, mind-numbing, endless days of listening to lectures and experiencing those excruciating heartbreaks because That Guy didn't call or This Girl spread nasty rumors.

For me, the draw of the reunion romance is that moment - not the bitchy girl moment, but the moment with That Guy. That heart-pounding, breathless moment of memory is why I love the reunion romance so much. And it was so fun to write that moment in First Love Again ~ Emmett walked out on Jaime just before their high school graduation, and when she first sees him back on their island there is a moment of pure attraction that wars with the not-again-ever moment, and it was so fun to write.

Seeing that first blush of 'I'm not falling for that again!' bloom into 'God, how can I be falling for him (or her) again is what I absolutely love about reunion romances.

What about you? Do you have a favorite romance trope? What makes it the best - in your opinion?

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Kris Fletcher's Winner

Colleen C, you are my winner! You won the Michael Buble CHRISTMAS album. Contact me (kris AT and let me know if you would like a digital or physical copy. Thanks for commenting, and congratulations!

Friday, December 18, 2015

Twinkly Lights, Silent Night & Peace on Earth

Amber Leigh Williams

‘Tis the season. While I love this time of year, usually the sound of round-the-clock Christmas songs makes me scratch. However, for 2015, due to an overload of Disney Junior tunes that have been lodged in my inner ear on repeat shuffle for months, cheery carols and gospel medleys have been a welcome treat thus far. Perhaps due to this new open-minded approach to Christmas music, here's a few thoughts on the subject....

#1 – The holiday season does not begin until I hear Elvis Prestley’s “O’ Come, All Ye Faithful.” I don’t care how soon the local supermarket begins marketing stocking stuffers or how soon the neighbors string their homes/lawns with enough Christmas lights to rival Disney’s Epcot Center. If it’s December 24th and I’ve yet to hear The King, no big, jolly guy in a red suit can convince me Christmas is tomorrow night.

#2 – For most of my life, “The Christmas Song” (or “Chestnuts”), has held the top spot on my list of holiday favorites. Around Christmastime, my mother’s family would gather at my grandmother’s house. Before bedtime, we would sprawl around the piano in the great-room, huddle close with popcorn (for the kids) and cocktails (for the adults) while my grandmother played Christmas songs. Toward the end (after a few tonics), my great-grandmother—despite having lost her sight years ago—would give my grandmother’s fingers a rest by taking her place on the bench and playing by memory songs she once played on a Mississippi River steamboat. “Chestnuts” was always first on the set list and it never fails to remind me of those nights we stayed up late to hear Memaw and GG play.

#3 - The movie Home Alone was released the same year my sister was born—twenty-five years down the road, Brenda Lee’s “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” still brings to mind Kevin McCallister’s wide, troublemaking grin and instantly makes me want to strap on some elf shoes and boogie down.

#4 - “Let It Snow” is one of those songs that has been sung by every artist at every tempo imaginable. We’ve heard it all before and then some. While on the way to my mother’s house the other night, the hub and I cranked Harry Connick, Jr.’s version for the kiddies. I love the big band feel. And, can I just say, as a child I never realized how sexy the lyrics are. That’s Harry for you. Bring on the mistletoe!

#5 – I spent four years in my public school’s girls’ choral group. We crooned “Silent Night” during the holidays enough times to make me gag. The song now gives me warm fuzzies. In 1914, during the Christmas truce of World War I, it was sung simultaneously by German and English troops on both sides of the trenches. For me personally, maybe it's that touching image of mother and child. Those lyrics, too, the phrase “sleep in heavenly peace.” Several years ago, I was diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder. For a long time, I struggled with panic attacks on a daily basis. It’s easy to take for granted those moments that we feel completely at peace with life, with the world. My greatest wish during this period was simply to feel those little moments of peace again, those perfect intersections between heaven and earth.

I’m happy to report that I did slowly calm the storm inside my head. It didn’t come easily, and the idea of reawakening my daily anxiety and losing these hard-won, peaceful interludes haunts me every day. But if those months and months of panic taught me anything, it was to stop, breathe, and let these small snatches of serenity soak in.
Fairhope, Alabama, March 2011
This was one of those moments. It was pre-kiddies, riding on the coattails of panic. (It’s evident in my weight here.) I’m sitting on the dock of the bay where my Superromance series is based in Fairhope, Alabama. The day was dying, the light starting to slant across the water in golden pinpricks. I remember the glow of it on my face as I watched the sun draw closer and closer to the edge. It was the first moment since the panic started that I thought I would be okay again. (I’m on the phone reporting the happy news to the hub.)

Ferris Wheel, May 2015
Four years and two babies later,another peaceful moment. It was three weeks after the birth of our daughter. It was also our wedding anniversary. My mother offered to babysit the kiddies. For an hour, we sat al fresco at our local Italian restaurant, the wind off the water offsetting the tepid summer air, sipping wine, sampling smoked oysters and enjoying each other’s company. By the end of the date, we were both feeling a little tipsy so we decided to walk it off. We wound up at the foot of a ferris wheel. We realized that in eleven years we had never shared a ferris wheel ride together. Maybe it was the drinks, but minutes later we found ourselves sitting over a hundred feet off the ground enjoying the twinkly lights of nighttime scenery along the coastline.

A sweet smooch on the Christmas Tree Farm, December 2015 

I’ve been blessed with many a peaceful moment over the last few years. Seeing my children in repose as they fall asleep in my arms. Nighttime boat rides on the lake in the summer. Standing on the beach watching the tide roll in. Enjoying a conversation with my preschooler who communicated through non-verbal means alone just nine months ago. Watching the light of the Christmas tree bathe both kiddies’ faces.

In many ways, it’s been a turbulent year worldwide. My greatest wish for you, readers, wherever you are this holiday season is plenty of peace and serenity for you and your loved ones! Peace on Earth and let's be jolly. Deck the halls and...if it's cold outside, it's probably a white Christmas so grab a blanket and some hot cocoa, stay inside and sing carols.
Happy holidays!

Just for fun—what’s your favorite holiday tune?

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Holiday Hacks I Have Used And Loved

Kris Fletcher

Well folks, here we are, with one week to go until Christmas Eve. I don't know about you, but this is about the time I start to panic. No matter how much I have done already to prepare for the big day - and yes, I have done a lot - the To-Do list is still winning.

However - and this is important - it could be worse. Over the years (nay, decades) of being the Spirit of Casa Chaos Christmas,  I've developed some tricks and tools to make things run more smoothly. Because here's the thing. Christmas is the time of year I most desperately want to slow down, to savor the steps and revel in the preparations and enjoy the family and the spirit and the message of the season. A few shortcuts in tasks where it doesn't matter greatly improves my chances of being able to linger over the things that do.

Thus, my Christmas gift to you, in no particular order: My Favorite Holiday Hacks.
  • Start by reading this article by Laura Vanderkam (who I always find brilliant), It's about making a deliberate mindshift from enduring to enjoying, and I found it a very worthy read, especially at this time of year. 
  • Wish lists and Google sheets. My daughters are still at home but my sons are far afield now, so it's often difficult to know what a particular person might appreciate most at gifting time. At Halloween I email all my kids & the husband and ask them for wish lists. We're not talking vague suggestions like, "I could use a new sweater." Nope. Each person is expected to be precise and provide links to either the item they want or a reasonable facsimile. Once the wish list deadline has passed - because yes, there is a deadline - I take all the lists that have been mailed to me and create a Google spreadsheet for each person. Why Google sheets? Because it's the easiest way I know to enable others to access the sheet. Each person's sheet has its own unique link, which can be shared with all who need it. As each giver chooses a gift from that sheet, they can indicate that it has been claimed. This has saved me innumerable texts and emails from boys asking for idea for their father, or my husband asking if I've bought a certain item for the Tsarina. Plus my kids love to leave comments on the sheets, such as one child's comment beside my husband's request for a chain saw: If I get this for him, I won;t be held responsible for the consequences. Right?
  • Make sure you have the right tools for the job. For baking cookies: quality cookie sheets, parchment paper to line them (makes clean up SOOOO much easier), and cookie scoops. For wrapping gifts: a basket or box to hold pens/scissors/ribbons/tags, and a refillable tape dispenser. For all tasks: mood music. 
  • Embrace slow cookers. And freezers. Or, even better - slow cooker freezer meals. The linked article
    gives all the details, but essentially, you plan and assemble a bunch of meals ahead by tossing all the ingredients into zip lock bags and putting them in the freezer. When you're ready to use one, you pull it out the niught before, let it defrost, and then plop it into the slow cooker. That's it. Let me tell you, I LOVE being able to reach into the freezer and pull out everything for a healthy homemade dinner, all in one bag. 
  • This was a new one this year, and I plan on repeating it. At the end of November I planned all the meals until after New Year's. Then I gathered all the recipes I would need for the month and put them in one binder (along with a copy of the plan). Now when it comes time to go to the grocery store, I can simply grab the binder and make my list with ease. Sure, there will be changes, but in meal planning - as in writing - it's easier to revise than to start from scratch.
  •  Pick one delicious, easy recipe to be your specialty each year - the one you bring to every pot luck, party, or whatever where you are expected to bring a dish. You probably won't be seeing the same people at each one, and if you do, well, make sure your dish is yummy and they'll be glad to see it a second time. Doing this saves you time (no more falling down the Pinterest hole), makes it easier to be sure you have the ingredients on hand, and makes it easier to put it together (because after two or three times you have the directions memorized.) This year I'm taking this dip (pictured at the top of the blog) everywhere I go. You're welcome. 
  • Most important, build in time to breathe. Even when you're racing - especially when you're racing - you need to give yourself some down time. It's impossible to slow down and savor the season if every minute is scheduled and life is an endless, constantly-refilling list of activities. Block half an hour out of the schedule and honor it, no matter how far behind you might be. Cue up some Michael Buble. Pour yourself some of your favorite beverage, adult or non. Grab that Superromance you've been meaning to read. Put your feet up and spend a few minutes giving yourself the most important gift of the season - time to simply be. I promise you'll face the rest of your lists energized, relaxed, and ready to roll.
I'd love to hear some of your suggestions for managing the holidays. One commenter will win a copy (CD or digital, winner's choice) of Michael Buble's Christmas album, Winner to be drawn on -  Sunday, December 20, noon(ish) Eastern time.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Question of the Month: What's your favorite holiday treat?

Hi, readers! We're all hip-deep into wrapping and baking right about now, aren't we? But there's always room for one more - whether that's one more present or guest or ... recipe! And that brings us to the Question of the Month for December: What's your favorite holiday cookie (or pie or cake or...whatever)?

Claire McEwen: I love simple, vanilla Christmas cookies. We decorate them with homemade icing in lots of colors and add sprinkles and have so much fun. Then we give them away to our neighbors because we end up with way more than we can, or should, eat.

Kristina Knight: Peanut butter Kiss cookies are our favorites. Although Christmas Brownies (which are basically Blondies/chocolate chip cookies in brownie form) come in a close second! Last year bebe started helping a lot with baking, which means a lot of laughing and a huge mess when we're done...but the memories! gah!

Janet Lee Nye: I don't do a lot of baking since going gluten free, but one recipe everyone loves is for candied cranberries. Sweet and tart.
Ingredients & Directions: 
One bag fresh cranberries.
Mix 1 cup sugar with 1 cup water, bring to just below a simmer.
Add cranberries. Allow to sit in barely simmering water for a minute or so (if skins start to split, stop!)
Pour cranberries and juice into a container, refridgerate overnight.
Drain cranberries, allow to lightly dry on papertowels, move to parchment paper. 
Roll berries around in extra fine sugar and allow to air dry.

Amber Leigh Williams: Macadamia nut cookies are my favorite! They remind me of a trip my grandmother took to Hawaii years ago. She brought back a whole trove of souvenirs for Christmas - among them, a big tin of macadamia nuts. They were so good, my sister and I cleaned them up ourselves before our parents were able to get a bite. I don't eat many macadamia nuts these days, but I can still remember exactly how they tasted then. Eating macadamia nut cookies takes me back.

Nan Dixon: Deciding on a favorite Christmas treat is too hard.  There are too many.  I love shortbreads.  One of my sisters and I have in the past had shortbread taste offs!  (I think I am running ahead in the contest.  Probably because when I roll out the dough, I use powdered sugar instead of flour.)  But I also love meringues.  And then there is Christmas Pudding flamed with brandy and covered in sherry sauce.  And I usually make a trifle for Christmas Eve.  I could go on and on!!

Kris Fletcher: This is my newest favorite - Alton Brown's Sugarplums. These are such a different addition to a cookie tray. They're not really sweet, not baked, and not as guilt-inducing as so many of the treats that we indulge in this time of year. (Not that there's anything wrong with that.) Plus they're a great conversation starter, because how many people have ever really had a sugarplum? I highly recommend watching the how-to video that accompanies the recipe. They're not complicated to make, but the psychotic Sugar Plum fairy is not to be missed.

Tara Taylor Quinn: This is my all time favorite cookie recipe.  I started making it with my mom and aunt when I was a kid.  I still use that original recipe card which has so many smudges on it now, fingerprints from all these years of loving and baking, that I can't even read it all.  Nor do I need to, but I pull it out every year anyway.  I have it on the counter with me as I bake.  I look at the chocolate and butter fingerprints and get full before I've even taken a bite.
Ingredients & Directions: 
1/4 cup butter or margarine
4  1-oz. squares unsweetened chocolate
Melt, remove from heat and let cool.
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
Blend, adding eggs one at a time.
2 cups flour
2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
Mix and add to egg/chocolate mixture.
Chill.  (At least two hours, overnight is less messy)
Roll chilled mixture into cookie sized balls. Roll in a bowl of confectioner's sugar. Place on cookie sheet.
Bake at 300 degrees for 18 - 20 minutes.

Pamela Hearon: My favorite Christmas cookie is a Jelly Tart a.k.a. Thumprint Cookie.  It's a simple butter cookie with an indentation in the middle that is filled with jelly before baking.  I made these with my mom every year while I was growing up.  Then I made them with my kids and now my grandkids!  I'm especially excited to make them this year because my youngest grandchild is old enough to join in Gigi's Christmas Baking Extravaganza this year!  BTW, I think Damson Plum jelly is the best for filling!

Angel Smits: Like everyone else, choosing one is so hard!  It's a toss up between two.  A chocolate-covered peanut butter cookie that one of my mother's friends always made, or my great grandmother's sugar cookies.  The sugar cookies are good frosted or plain with a warm, rich cup of coffee. Yum!!!

Joanne Rock: Oh, the yumminess of reading everyone else's treats! My favorite cookie is probably the Ginger Snaps in the classic Joy of Cooking cookbook. But I don't make those often since I'm the biggest fan of the cookies in my house, and I turn into a frightening version of Cookie Monster at the scent of molasses. I have no control! I'm with Pamela on Jam Thumbprints... sooo good, and now I'm going to look for the filling she mentioned. At Christmas time, I make lots of exotic cookies I don't make the rest of the year, but our mainstay for the holidays is the sugar-cookie cut out. It's not Christmas without pretty frosted trees, wreaths and angels!

Friday, December 11, 2015

By Angel Smits

     In nearly all my books, I include a character who is a senior or elderly person.  I have a degree in Gerontology and have worked with the elder population for years.  I like them.  I respect them, and in many ways envy them for the experiences they’ve already accomplished that I’m still struggling with.  You know, like actually paying off a mortgage. 
     In my A CHAIR AT THE HAWKINS TABLE series, I created Pal Haymaker, a cantankerous old coot, who has now had a hand in three of my books, as well as the next story which comes out in July 2016.  He is such fun to play with in fiction, but in real life, I don’t know that I’d like him so much. 
     He’s let life take his joy away, and I have met people like that.  It’s not where I want to end up in my senior years, but I can see all too clearly how it could happen.    
     I grew up in a time—and I’m probably going to date myself here—when we were taught that if we couldn’t say anything nice, then don’t say anything at all. 

     My grandmother was someone who epitomized this rule for me.  Influenced by her own prim and proper grandmother, Grandma never had a bad thing to say about anyone.  Even someone you knew had gotten on her nerves.  Even then, she held her tongue. 
     Don’t get me wrong, my grandmother was no pushover.  In the heart of the depression, in the 1940s, 50s and 60s she was a business owner.  As a partner with my grandfather, she worked as hard as he did, right at his side, in their general store and post office.  In addition, she kept the house and raised five kids.  Four of them boys who loved to get into trouble. 
     Grandma was an honest person.  If you asked her opinion she gave it, but without any meanness or malice.  She saw no value or joy in hurting anyone’s feelings.  She didn’t have to tear anyone down to make herself feel better. 

     I admire her, and I admire anyone who can take the high road.  It’s not an easy thing sometimes.  Especially in today’s world where negativity comes at us at the speed of light.  Boot up a computer, or glance at a phone, and the negativity pours off the screen the instant you connect. 
     In this holiday season, I think of my grandmother, all my family, and all the holidays we’ve shared.  I’ll make cookies that remind me of the past.  I’ll wrap presents for the people in my life now. 
     And anyone who wishes me a Happy or Merry anything...I'll take it in the spirit it is given.  As a wish for future happiness.  For us all.  Nothing more.  Nothing less. 
     So Merry, Happy, whatever you celebrate.  I wish you all only the best.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Starting early

Mary Sullivan

Show of hands…how many of you have been playing Christmas music already?

I started on December 1st. I almost began a week earlier, but managed to control myself. I can't write my Christmas cards without music!

In preparing for this season, the first thing I did was order knitting patterns and kits for the gifts I'll be giving this year. Homemade gifts appeal to me, whether to give or to receive.

I decided on a bit of a Canadian theme this year, with plenty of hats and mittens…

I like moose!

And just your run-of-the-mill (LOL) mittens...

I'll also be giving homemade placemats and a pair of big mittens made out of an old sweater, lined with fleece, for a friend who cycles everywhere even in the midst of winter.

Of course, I need Christmas music while I'm knitting and sewing :-)

My next step after deciding what to make each year was writing my cards. There was a whole bunch of years when I let the practice slide and came to regret it. Yes, there is social media, but receiving those pretty cards in the mail with all of their heartfelt messages boosts my spirits. Sending them is just as much fun. Years ago, I made myself stop considering it a chore and have come to enjoy reaching out with my own messages. I am fortunate in my family and friends, and realize I need to show my gratitude.

Next, I decorate for the season, which isn't the job it used to be. When I owned my homes, I always put up a tree, whether live or several funky, creative versions, i.e. lights on a wall with decorations hung to mimic a tree without actually killing one. lol

I no longer put up a tree, but like the small touches I put around that catch my eye and put me in the mood for Christmas.

So, here are my questions to you…

How early do you play your music?
Do you send Christmas cards?

For those of you who celebrate holidays other than Christmas, I would love to hear about your celebrations!

Monday, December 7, 2015

The December Authors are Having a Facebook Party!

Come chat with the December SuperRomance Authors of the Best-Selling December Box Set!!  (That's fun to say!) 

Click here to join the party.  PARTY

We’ll be giving away books and grab bags, and Gift Cards.  And our lovely Harlequin Editors have put together two bundles of goodies that include all four December publications and other swag!  They are also going to stop by and answer a few questions.

When: December 7th 
Time: 5:00 PM to 11:00 PM EST

Here’s the lineup.

Nan Dixon spent her formative years as an actress, singer, dancer and competitive golfer. But the need to eat had her studying accounting in college. Unfortunately, being a successful financial executive didn’t feed her passion to perform. When the pharmaceutical company she worked for was purchased, Nan got the chance of a lifetime—the opportunity to pursue a writing career.  She’s a five-time Golden Heart® finalist, lives in the Midwest and is active in her local RWA chapter and on the board of a dance company. She has five children, three sons-in-law, one grandchild, one grandchild on the way and one neurotic cat.  

Jennifer Lohmann is a Rocky Mountain girl at heart, having grown up in southern Idaho and Salt Lake City. When she’s not writing or working as a public librarian, she wrangles two cats and a flock of backyard chickens. (The dog is better behaved.) She currently lives in Durham, North Carolina, where her favorite cup of coffee is from Old Havana.

USA Today and Nationally bestselling author Rula Sinara lives near the base of the Blue Ridge Mountains with her husband, three boys and crazy but endearing pets. When she's not writing, she's busy attracting wildlife to her yard, watching romantic movies or researching trees on her garden wish list. In addition to being a coffee addict, she's also a 2015 HOLT Medallion Award of Merit winner, a 2014 National Reader's Choice Award winner and double finalist and both a 2015 Golden Quill Award and Book Buyers Best finalist for THE PROMISE OF RAIN, book 1 in her’ From Kenya, with Love’ series for Harlequin Heartwarming. The second book, AFTER THE SILENCE, released this past March and a linked, FREE, online short story called THE SWEETHEART TREE can be found through December at Harlequin. And if you’re in the mood for holiday stories, her novella, THE GINGERBIRD HOUSE, is part of the bestselling anthology A HEARTWARMING CHRISTMAS, available now! You can discover more about Rula at her blog A Writers Rush, website, on Twitter or on Facebook as RulaSinaraAuthor. For updates on her releases, you’re invited to check out her Amazon page or sign up for her newsletter.

Cat Schield lives in Minnesota with her daughter and 2 Burmese cats and a Doberman. Winner of the Romance Writers of America 2010 Golden Heart® for series contemporary romance, when she's not writing sexy, romantic stories for Harlequin Desire, she can be found sailing with friends on the St. Croix River or more exotic locales like the Caribbean and Europe. Contact her at

Pamela Hearon grew up in Paducah, a small city in western Kentucky that infuses its inhabitants with Southern values, Southern hospitality, and a very distinct Southern accent. There she found the inspiration for her quirky characters, the perfect backdrop for the stories she wanted to tell, and the beginnings of her narrative voice.  Pamela was a 2013 RITA® Finalist and Maggie Finalist for her first Harlequin Superromance, OUT OF THE DEPTHS (August 2012).  Five more Superromances have followed — THE SUMMER PLACE (National Readers’ Choice Award Finalist), MOONLIGHT IN PARIS, HIS KIND OF PERFECTION (2015 Maggie Finalist), MY WAY BACK TO YOU, and RIGHT WHERE WE STARTED.  
Janet Lee Nye is a writer by day and a neonatal nurse by night. She lives in Charleston, SC with her fella and her felines.
 She discovered the romance genre as a teen with books she “borrowed” from her grandmother. She renewed her love affair with the genre after stumbling upon Robyn Carr’s Virgin River series.
Rumors of her jellybean addiction are completely exaggerated.

Nancy Holland writes short contemporary romance with a kick for HarperImpulse UK. When she's not crafting happily ever afters for her characters, she's a teacher, wife, and mother who reads and knits in what little spare time she has.

The author of more than 70 original novels, in twenty languages, Tara Taylor Quinn is a USA Today bestseller with over six million copies sold.  A 2015 RITA finalist Tara appears frequently on bestseller lists, including #1 placement on Amazon lists, and multiple showings on the Publisher’s Weekly Bestseller list. She has appeared on national and local TV across the country, including CBS Sunday Morning

Tara is a supporter of the National Domestic Violence Hotline.  If you or someone you know might be a victim of domestic violence in the United States, please contact 1-800-799-7233. 

Jeannie Watt lives in a historic ranching community in northern Nevada with her husband, dogs, ponies, horses and giant cat, Floyd. She’s written over 20 Superromances and loves writing both contemporary and western settings. When Jeannie isn’t writing, she enjoys riding, sewing, collecting vintage patterns, making mosaic mirrors and reading. To learn more about Jeannie and her books, please visit her website, or her Facebook page

Sandra Jones is a multi-published author of historical romances. A former bookseller and librarian, she's always had her nose in a book.

When not researching or writing her next novel, she enjoys being with family, reading, cooking for her husband, and watching British TV. At home in the South, her house overlooks a river and a farm, where most days you can find her working to the sounds of wildlife and cattle. 

Sandra loves to hear from her readers. Visit her website at


AGAIN.  Here's the Party Address -- FACEBOOK PARTY

Thursday, December 3, 2015

It's a Sweet and Spicy Holiday! (Tara Taylor Quinn)

Starting on Monday, December 7th, I'm celebrating my five Superromance Holiday stories with prizes - a VISA gift card, free books - and fun and free ttq recipes every day!  Some of the recipes are family holiday traditions.  One of them is just my own concoction.  I love to cook.  I spend time at it.  And for Christmas, I'm sharing my food ideas with you!
As part of the celebration Harlequin is bringing you the re-issue of my favorite Christmas story - in PRINT again!  It has a new cover, too!

The Holiday Visitor is a unique story, even for me.  A woman is in love with a man she's 'known' for years, but has never met.  And will likely never meet.  They've been pen pals since they were twelve.  Brought together through a children's victim counseling service.  And then one Christmas she meets a man, a lone visitor at her B&B, who attracts her.  She's torn between the man she's loved for so long, and a real flesh and blood human being.  It makes sense to live life for real.  To not be alone every night.  To have a partner.  A family.  But there's no controlling a heart that won't let go...

For the holidays all five of my Christmas Superromance eBooks are $2.99 or less wherever books are sold!

And there's more!

Harlequin Books and I and many of my fellow authors are celebrating a Sweet and Spicy Holiday with all of our readers, December 7th-13th, bringing you recipes and goodies and a whole week of fun on Harlequin's social media outlets.  Just look for the #sweetandspicyholiday hashtag and posts from Harlequin Books on Facebook and Twitter for new recipes every day!

Wednesday, December 2, 2015


A SAVANNAH CHRISTMAS WISH released yesterday!  That’s my big sparkly Christmas present for the season!  

It’s fun to have the second book of the Fitzgerald House series out in the world.  This is Bess’s story.  She is the middle sister of the Fitzgerald family and has always been the peacekeeper.  She’s even willing to sacrifice her dreams to keep the family peace.  Sometimes it’s hard to stand up to Abby and Dolley, her two strong-willed sisters.  (Don’t worry, if you didn’t read SOUTHERN COMFORTS you can read A SAVANNAH CHRISTMAS WISH first.) 

Bess, a landscape architect, is in charge of the B and B gardens and the seasonal decorations.  And she absolutely loves decorating for Christmas.  I like to think that this is the front of Fitzgerald House. 

I  don’t get to see the covers of my books before they’re released.  But I do get to complete an Arts Fact Sheet where we can include pictures.  If I could have changed anything, I would have made Abby’s hair redder on the cover of SOUTHERN COMFORTS.  But Bess is perfect!  Exactly what I pictured.  And that’s because International House Hunters was playing on TV one day while I was watching Princess Fluffy Top.  Fluffy Top is my granddaughter.  To see more—check out Fluffy Top Friday on my Facebook page. 

I saw the woman and probably scared my granddaughter when I yelled at the TV.  “That’s Bess!”  
Luckily I had my camera in my pocket so I quickly snapped a couple of pictures.  They went in my Arts Fact Sheet.  I really love that they got Bess’s long curly red hair right!

In an August SuperRomance blog, I talked about populating a Pinterest Board with pictures and
scenes from the book.  You can checked out the pictures I grabbed.  Carly the puppy is still one of my favorites.  So are the flagstone pictures.  You’ll have to read the book to figure out how they play into the story.

And I just heard that Book 3 – currently titled Dolley’s Dream (I need to work on a new title!) is scheduled to release August 2016.  Weeee! 
If you get a chance to read A SAVANNAH CHRISTMAS WISH, I would love an honest review.  You can leave it on any of the review sites—Goodreads, B&N, Amazon.  You can also rate books wherever you purchased it.  Rating books helps authors!

 I hope you and your family have a wonderful holiday season!

Our discussion topic today?

What is your Christmas wish this year?

To celebrate the release--I'm giving away a $50.00 Amazon card during the month of December.  Stop over to win!
I'm also part of a Night Owl Scavenger Hunt with $1,300 worth of gifts!  

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

December 2015 New Releases

A Savannah Christmas Wish (Fitzgerald House)
Nan Dixon 

A relationship in need of renovation 

Bess Fitzgerald is thrilled to be overseeing the expansion of her family's B and B. Working with Daniel Forester, not so much. After one wild night, they agreed to stay out of each other's lives. The attraction still sizzles between them now, but Daniel's need to be in control and Bess's impulsive nature continually drive them apart. 

Keeping their relationship professional is harder than Bess anticipated. And it's not long before they give in to temptation. Suddenly it's clear Daniel needs her in a way she never thought possible. This may be the year Bess finally gets her Christmas wish!

Right Where We Started (Taylor's Grove, Kentucky)
Pamela Hearon

A second chance to choose love 

Returning to Taylor's Grove is bittersweet for Audrey Merrill. She's come home to take care of her ailing mother and finally face her painful past. She just never expected her daughter's new teacher would be Mark Dublin. As childhood sweethearts, she and Mark were inseparable. Until her sister's tragic death—an accident Audrey blames on him. 

Mark is back to make amends. And, surrounded by memories of happier times, it doesn't take Audrey long to remember the love they once shared. Now she's faced with the same dilemma as years ago: hold on to the sorrow or forgive and embrace happiness.

A Southern Promise
Jennifer Lohmann

A promise to protect 

They say money and murder go together like biscuits and gravy, but Julianne Dawson thought her family was different. Even if they are the wealthiest family in Durham, North Carolina, she can't believe someone close to her could've killed her beloved Aunt Binnie. 

Detective Howie Berry is determined to find the murderer. But the more he gets to know Julianne, the more he's drawn to her. She's not just the town's golden girl—she's smart and incredibly tough. Howie can't get involved, though, since the next clue he uncovers could tear her family apart. He'll protect Julianne at any cost…except the truth. 

To Kiss A Cowgirl (The Brodys of Lightning Creek)
Jeannie Watt

Their rivalry isn't new…but their attraction is! 

Wild spirit Jolie Brody never dreamed her new boss at the ranch supply store would be Dylan Culver. They haven't seen each other since high school, but he's just as straitlaced as ever. Good thing it's only temporary; Mr. Uptight is in town nursing an injury before he goes back to law enforcement. 

As they work together—surprisingly well—they can't deny their attraction. Letting a kiss lead to love is a commitment Jolie has never had to risk. So why is she now flirting with the possibility of a future with Dylan…a man with a dangerous job that makes everything complicated?

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Thank You, Sandra Marton!

Like many of us, I broke my reader's teeth on Harlequin Romance, having graduated from the YA section in my library (school and public) by about the seventh grade. Was I old enough to be reading Harlequins? Not really, but the Romances were tame back then (as they are now) and when I happened on a stash in my grandmother's living room one summer I was hooked. The books were so much more satisfying than high school stories of summer love that I devoured book after book.

I tried Romance, Intrigue and then stumbled upon my grandmother's (and mother's) stashes of Harlequin Presents and...well, sigh. What junior high and high schooler wouldn't want to be swept away by millionaire/billionaires who, in the words of Iron Man, were 'billionaire, playboy, philanthropists' even before he was?

Yeah, I was hooked and the first Presents author to really hook me was Sandra Marton - From This Day Forward was dog-eared and the pages were beginning to yellow by the time I found it but I was absolutely captivated by the story. I started reading it one more after breakfast and by mid-afternoon I was sobbing because it was over. So I started it again...and then I started looking for Sandra's books all over the house.

I devoured them, too.

But this isn't just a post about my reader self, it's a post about my writer self, so fast-forward about....oh fifteen years.

I entered an RWA chapter contest, I can't remember which one, oddly enough. But I entered a book that I'd gotten some really good feedback on from my critique partners. I sent it in and waited...and waited. And then the winners were announced and....I wasn't one. Although my scores were high, I hadn't quite made the cut. But, bonus, I got some judge's feedback and one judge was Sandra Marton. Personal, happy, freaked out squee from Writer Kristina.

A little bit scared of what she might have to say, I opened her judging sheet and just looked at the scores. Above average but not stellar she-thinks-I'm-great scores. And then I got to the comments, in which Sandra asked me a very innocuous question: Did I really think I'd begun the story in the right place?

Hmmm...Yeah, I thought I did but...

And then, she went on to give me perhaps one of the best compliments I'd received to that point - she said she liked my voice and writing style, that the characters were great characters, but that she thought I was telling the wrong story - that I needed to go back and really examine where this story started, what the real story was and start over.

I was stunned. She liked my book? One of my writing idols liked my writing enough to give me a little tough love? Because, a couple of weeks after, I did go back and look at that book, those characters and that set-up. She was right. There was more of a story to tell and that story began before the book began.

I will always be grateful to have found Sandra Marton's books ~ she writes captivating stories about love that awe me. But I'll also be grateful that she took time away from her own writing to judge that contest...and grateful that she saw enough in my writing to give me some tough love and advice.

Thank you, Sandra!

And now, my Thanksgiving wish for all of you. And old, Irish blessing that is close to my heart:

May love and laughter light your days,
and warm your heart and home.
May good and faithful friends be yours,

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Sisters! You really CAN go home again.

I’m bouncing with excitement as I write this.  A SAVANNAH CHRISTMAS WISH's book birthday is in less than 2 weeks!  December 1, 2015.  It is Book 2 in the Fitzgerald House series.  (Can I squeee a little because I have a series??)

This is Bess Fitzgerald’s story.  And her nemesis love interest, is Daniel, the contractor from SOUTHERN COMFORTS.  It was so much fun to keep writing about these sisters, because my sisters mean so much to me. 

Last year I wrote about the Origins of the Fitzgerald House series.  The idea hit me several years ago when my sisters and I were on our annual sister weekend and we went to Savannah.

Two weeks ago, my sisters and I headed out on our sister weekend again.  We have a social director, who is the only one who knows where we are going.  This year, sister #2 brought us back to our 
hometown.  Since out parents have died, we haven’t really traveled home.   Eech year, someone is responsible for buying a gift.  Many times they are Sister T-Shirts!  I am always the Good sister!

Birch Tree still lives on
The town has changed, but she filled our weekend with nostalgia.  She even contacted the people who live in our old house.  We spent almost an hour touring the gardens and seeing the changes and the things that haven’t changed.  The couple living there have changed so many things, but they have cared for the home that we grew up in.  And they haven’t pulled the decals off that wall that my sister put up! 

We also visited out high school, attended a play at the community theater where we all performed and ate at some of our favorite restaurants.

And drank a little Prosecco.

So today I want to know---

Is there some place you would like to return if you had a chance?

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

If You Had To Choose....

Amber Leigh Williams

My favorite lake-side summer activity,
curling up with a good book!
(a little preggers here in 2012...)
There’s a quote by P.J. O’Rourke: “Always read stuff that will make you look good if you die in the middle of it.” An interesting thought, to be sure. But how likely? For me, perhaps less depending on what one might define as “good stuff.” For me, the good stuff involves beaucoup romance. Historical romance, especially. Scottish Highlanders. English rakes. Throw in a cowboy or a pirate with a good, character-driven plot, a little smut (maybe a lot of smut) and I’m set!

This opens up an interesting, somewhat morbid perhaps, yet slightly philosophical discussion. What would you like the last book you read to be? Would it be something you’ve read before – an old favorite or a comfort read? Would it be a classic? Something cerebral and thought-provoking? Or would it be something you read purely for pleasure, entertainment, or escape – romance, mystery, horror, fantasy, sci-fi? Would it have notes in the margins? Would it have yellowed, wrinkled pages turned down in the corners marking your favorite bits?

It’s a painful question to answer. Not because I find the possibility of death more unsettling than it would normally be, but because how does one choose? It’s akin to the other dreaded book lover question: what’s your favorite book? It’s impossible to narrow down one answer. I love many different books, each for a different reason. The first book I connected with on an emotional level was The Diary of Anne Frank. Reading it in jr. high was like hearing the voice of a far-off friend inside my head. Bird by Bird by Anne Lamont made me roar with laughter and shed more than a few tears because it made me feel so much less alone in all my writerly weirdness.

Gone with the Wind was riveting, written so beautiful and lovingly. Still to this day, however many times I read it, I still feel as if I can reach out and touch the fabric of the words and the colorful world they paint on the canvas of my imagination. Boy’s Life by Robert R. McCammon feels the same way but deeper because the connection I feel to the small Alabama town where the young hero grows up is identical to what I feel when I think of my own small Alabama hometown.

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. The Hours After by Gerda Weissman Klein & Kurt Klein. The Bronze Horseman trilogy by Paullina Simons. The In Death series by J.D. Robb. All gorgeous books that have become dog-eared and brittle by use and/or time as all great books should be.

It is indeed an impossible question to answer, partly because there are so many great books I know I’ve yet to read. And all the more reason we should read what we love, yes? Readers, what would you like the last book you read to be? And, of course, feel free to list more than one if you can’t choose….

Heartfelt thoughts go out to the troubled parts of the world – those touched by terrorism and tragedy in particular. Over the last few weeks, I’ve been going through my writer-girl blog to save some of the material before I begin the bittersweet process of closing down the long-time site. I found a book quote posted November 4, 2007 that is more relevant today than I could ever have thought imaginable….

Our children have never known a world without machines: dishwashers, washing machines, dryers, electric beaters, blenders, furnaces electric pumps, saws, computers--there are more machines than we can possibly count; beware, beware, lest they take us over....

We can't absorb it all. We know too much, too quickly, and one of the worst effects of this avalanche of technology is the loss of compassion....
We are lost unless we can recover compassion, without which we will never understand charity. We must find, once more, community, a sense of family, of belonging to each other....

Marshall McLuhan speaks of the earth as being a global village, and it is, but we have lost the sense of family which is an essential part of a village.
- from A Circle of Quiet by Madeline L’Engle

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Creativity under pressure

Mary Sullivan

I'm sure many of you know about NaNoWriMo—National Novel Writing Month.

I've never been involved in the past, but decided to try it this year. It couldn't be for the purpose of writing an entire first draft, because I have too many other writing commitments at this time to commit to that. I did it because I need a new proposal for my next book and had nada. Zip. Absolutely nothing.

As hard as I tried, I was coming up dry.

So I looked at a couple of paragraphs in my next Super, which comes out in April, 2016, and really liked two characters who play a small role in the book.

I took one paragraph in particular and used it as the basis for the next book. So…I had a hero and a heroine. I knew their names and had some backstory for the heroine.

I committed to NaNoWriMo. On November 1st, I read that one paragraph and wrote down their names and then…just started to write. By the end of the first week, I had a few thousand words and at the end of the second weekend, I had a proposal. Once I finish line edits that are due this week, I will refine and flesh out what I've written and send it off. Voila! The beginning of a new story.

Having to produce under pressure somehow triggered the creative flow.

The weekend before last, my daughter woke up on Saturday morning looking forward to a party she planned to attend that evening. It wasn't until she checked the invitation to find out what time to go that she realized she had missed that it was a toga party!

Not wanting to ruin her one pair of good sheets, or buy more, she rummaged through her closet and found old ivory curtains she will probably never use again. She ran to a nearby store and bought gold lace and trim, sat down and made herself a Greek-themed dress, with a high waistline wrapped with gold cord. She left it un-hemmed, folded the too-wide straps in on themselves and, to the bodice that was too revealing, added gold lace that she held in place with duct tape. She was only half an hour late for the party and fit right in! The dress looked fabulous.

I call it the Scarlett O'Hara of togas, because she made it from her old curtains. She's going to store it just in case she ever goes to another toga party. I think she should wear it next Halloween with a curtain rod across her shoulders. Remember Carol Burnett's Gone With the Wind comedy sketch? It still makes me laugh.

What is the most creative thing you've ever had to pull together under pressure, be it a cake, a costume, a last-minute gift for someone, or…anything?

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Question Of The Month: Your Favorite Holiday Romance

Hey, there, Superromance readers! We're headed into the busy-busy holiday why not learn a little more about some favorite holiday romances from your favorite Super-Authors?

Here is our question of the month:

What is the favorite holiday book that you've written, and what makes it so special? 

Nan Dixon: A Savannah Christmas Wish.  It releases on December 1st. I love it because Bess, the heroine, is a landscape architect, but she handles all the holiday decorating for the B and B.  And they celebrate the holidays with lots of decorations.  It was so much fun to write the deck the halls scenes.  Especially because the hero, Daniel helps her .  Who would ever guess that hanging garlands and stringing lights could be so sexy? I imagine the B and B has poinsettias just like these.

Anna Sugden: I don’t have a specific holiday book, but Iwill be giving away free holiday-themed short stories on my website in the run-up to my February release, A Perfect Compromise. The stories are connected to my New Jersey Ice Cats series with Harlequin Superromance. The current give-aways are A Perfect Party (Christmas) and A Perfect Reunion (Thanksgiving themed) and next month’s is A Perfect Storm (Winter). It’s been fun writing these as it gives me a chance to give some of the secondary characters that readers love a HEA and write something holiday-themed romances, too.

Joanne Rock: Joanne Rock: I just wrote an NHL hero for Last Chance Christmas and it's my favorite because the story is set in fictional Cloud Spin, Vermont, and is steeped in the unique joys of a New England Christmas. From the high peaks for skiing to the backyard ponds for hockey, the winter sports mean good times and flushed faces. The charm of a historic town--complete with Wassail Weekend-- gives the characters a chance to really feel a connection to the place they left behind as teens. I guess, bottom line, Christmas time is perfect for a warmhearted coming home story!

Kristina Knight: I haven't written any holiday-themed books - at least I haven't yet. So I'm going to break the rules a little bit and tell you about a couple of holiday reads that I come back to every year. The first is The Present by Johanna Lindsey ~ it's part of her Mallory series and it's just ... yummy. the characters are rich, the main romance is an older couple, but all of the secondary characters are the couples from previous Mallory books - so it's like getting a peek into what happened to them after their books were written. I just love it. And then, last year, I read Cathryn Parry's Scotland for Christmas and...I am still thinking about it - I think it's going to get a re-read in a couple of weeks. It's got a little intrigue, a huge secret kept and such a sweet, sweet happily ever after...

Jeannie Watt: My only holiday book is one of my personal favorites--Maddie Inherits a Cowboy. I wrote it as a Christmas story, but the holiday schedule was full, so it ended up coming out in February. I think the title--which my lovely editor, Victoria, came up with--perfectly describes the story.

Jennifer Lohmann: I've only written one holiday book and it's a holiday that doesn't often show up in non-Inspirational romances: Easter. To be fair, A Promise for the Baby isn't specifically about Easter, but Karl's big understandings about his life and how he loves and wants to be loved come together with the Easter season. And the story is about rebirth, second chances, forgiveness, and a new life. I love the sense of hope in the book.

Amber Leigh Williams: I loved adding a bit of a seasonal twist to Married One Night, my October Superromance from last year. It's set in my real hometown, Fairhope, Alabama, where every year close to Thanksgiving there is a Lighting of the Trees festival in the heart of downtown to ring in the beginning of the holidays. It's always been magical to watch the town light up in one beautiful burst and also romantic, which is why it felt right to include it in Gerald and Olivia's story!

Tara Taylor Quinn: I have three Holiday books that particularly stand out for me. The first is The
Holiday Visitor, because it’s a really unusual story.  I challenged myself with this book.  The heroine owns and runs a successful Bed & Breakfast.  She’s in love with a pen pal.  And yet, alone and lonely, finds herself enjoying time spent with a recurring guest.  I loved writing this book.  And love thinking about it, too. The second is The Heart of Christmas and I just love the story.  It’s the sequel to Father: Unknown. The heroines in the two books are identical twins who’ve lost each other.  Both of their stories are heart wrenching, emotionally compelling, and in this book, answers are found for both of them. And the third is Merry Christmas Babies,  just because it’s such a fun book and great cover!!  A divorced woman wants to be a mother and decides to have herself artificially inseminated.  But she doesn’t want to risk an unknown donor for her baby so she asks her ex-husband to donate the sperm.  The result is four babies. And a plethora of emotional complications!

Kris Fletcher: A Family Come True was originally intended as a Christmas book, but when schedules had to be rearranged, it ended up as a June release. Which meant that this book - all about a reappearing father and a wannabe father and a long-delayed return to the family home - came out in the month in which the US and Canada (and possibly other places!) celebrates Father's Day. The timing worked out beautifully!

Pamela Hearon: My Superromance His Kind of Perfection spans several holidays.  It begins in early summer, shortly after Memorial Day.  Halloween and Thanksgiving play major roles in the plot, but two of my favorite scenes happen at Christmas and Valentine's Day.  The story comes full-circle, ending on Memorial Day!
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