Saturday, December 31, 2016

Laurie I -- you're Nan Dixon's winner!

Thanks everyone for commenting with your great kids stories.

Laurie I ---- you can contact me through my website  and we can work out the details!

Everyone have a fabulous and safe New Year's Eve!

So Long, Farewell 2016

Kris Fletcher

Well, we made it.

There's no denying that 2016 was one for the record books. There are many other blogs and sites with lists of the high and low points of the year. And of course, we all have our own personal lists of joys and sorrows, moments to hold in our hearts and those we wish we could forget.

But we made it. And there's a brand new lovely page on the calendar waiting for us. It's wide open. Untarnished. Waiting for us to write on it and make it our own.

We can't see the future. We don't know what might come our way in the next 365 days. But we can know this: There will be joys. There will be sorrows. If we are lucky, the balance will fall on the good side.

Meanwhile, we have the hope that comes from a fresh start, and the wisdom that comes from another year, and the insights that come from having made it through another year on the miracle of a planet. For that, we can all give thanks.

So long, 2016. Farewell.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

The Lull...

The Lull
By Angel Smits
            This week between Christmas and New Year’s Day is pretty much a lull.
            At the day job, so many people take vacation time that it’s like working in a ghost town.  I don’t normally take it off because it’s the quietest week of the year, and I can get work and projects finished before the end of the year.  It’s also a time when management isn’t looking at what they want accomplished. That’ll come after the first of the year, so I take advantage of the quiet.    
            It’s a time to think and focus on things without so many interruptions.  I actually like working this time of year. 
            Also, the rush of Christmas shopping, mailing and wrapping is done and, selfishly, I can take time to focus on me, on what I need to do, rather than what everyone else wants and needs.  (And it gives me time to figure out where to put all the “stuff” I got as gifts.)  That can be a project in itself.          
So, with the slower pace at work, and what feels like a slower pace at home, I find myself with time to think--something the holidays are not good for.  I find my mind wandering more as I think over things.  Do you do that? 
About what I didn’t get done this year.  What I decided to stop doing because it’s a time suck, or bad for me.  What I want to continue working on, what I want to start in the new year.  What do I want to accomplish?  I’m not sure if it’s really because of the slower pace, or what, but my brain wanders down these paths almost naturally.   

My office, the perfect place to think and set goals
            I’m not necessarily a New Year’s resolution maker in that those frequently fail.  They are almost like wishes, or promises that are easy to break because there isn’t really any consequence. 
But what I do like to do at the beginning of each year is set goals.  It seems more productive, and tends to have a better outcome.  I like to succeed.  I like to say, “Yeah I did that!”  So why not indulge myself?  Why not start out the brand, spanking new year on the right foot?
Goals are specific—or they should be.  To finish the next two manuscripts in my Chairs series for example.  (One by Feb 1, the second by September.)  That’s specific.  Instead of, write more or stop letting the Internet interfere with my writing.  Resolutions tend to be like that, more negative, not really giving me something to aim for.  Maybe other people are better at making, and sticking to, resolutions.  I applaud them, but I know the truth about myself.    
 I have to have “visible” line to cross and a consequence somewhere in the world that motivates me to succeed.  If I don’t reach my goal of finishing the book by February 1, there could be a financial as well as emotional price to be paid. 
If I resolve to not chew my fingernails (something I did when I was a kid) the only real consequence is that oh well, I’ll have to go another year without anything changing.  I’ve proven I can do it because I am.  A goal is something I haven’t done yet, something I’m aiming for. 
I want to do more promotion this year, but if I word it like a resolution, to do more—yeah that’s ignorable.  But if I put that I want to be more involved in my blog, that’s concrete.  That’s reachable.  That’s attainable, and I might actually reach that goal and have something to show for it. 
Do you make resolutions?  Set goals?  Both?  Neither?  Why and if you’d like to share, I’d love to see.  Maybe I’ll get some really great ideas from your discussion 

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Kids in my Books (And a giveaway!)

My Granddaughter
at her 1st Nutcracker
I hope everyone is having a wonderful holiday season—however you celebrate. 
I’m still recovering, since in this season of sharing, two of daughters and their family were sick. They kindly shared their
respiratory ailment with me. A gift I can’t seem to give back. Hopefully, I will be able to kick it faster than the pregnant daughter! Probably from the kisses my granddaughter insisted on giving me.  How could I resist?

Next week, my fourth book releases—THE OTHER TWIN. The FITZGERALD HOUSE series is set in a B and B in the historic district of Savannah. In THE OTHER TWIN, two kids play a material part in this book. Writing the kids were fun. My editor, Megan Long, sent this note on the children. (It’s always nice to have words of encouragement.)

The kids are also particularly well drawn. I was really impressed with the way Josh was allowed to be a brat on the page, rather than a more typically sweet child who can do no wrong. I loved the way he's shown to be manipulative and angry - exactly the behaviour I'd expect from a child with his history. He's been through some horrible things and those things would of course have had an effect on him.

On the other hand, the little girl was harder to write, because she doesn’t speak for most of the book. I had to make sure she didn’t get lost in the scenes she appeared, since she didn’t speak. (You'll have to pick up the book to find out why she doesn't speak! :-) 

Here’s the blurb--

Who can resist a neighbor in need? 
Nathan Forester doesn't know the first thing about kids. So when the daughter he never knew existed arrives on his doorstep, he needs help, fast! His unlikely ally is next-door neighbor and single mother Cheryl Henshaw. Nathan and Cheryl don't exactly see eye to eye, but neither can say no to a helping hand. 
Renovating Fitzgerald House is Nathan's chance to finally prove he's no longer the unreliable twin—and it seems possible with Cheryl by his side. Suddenly their practical arrangement has become something much more. Trust isn't easy, but they're stronger when they work together.

To celebrate the upcoming release—I‘m giving away a copy of the book—Print in the US—eBook outside the US.
To be eligible to win, comment with a memorable kid story. Either your own childhood or children you know.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Book Giveaways from Cathryn Parry's Monday Blog Post

Dear Tammy Y, Laney4, Kaelee, Mary Preston, Laurie I, Colleen C and Karen Kraemer--thank you for your beautiful and thoughtful comments--they've given me comfort during this difficult week. I'd like to offer you each a small gift of a book giveaway, any from my backlist. The list can be found at my website <here.> Please send me your address and book choice via my Contact page <here.>

Thank you for reading our Superromance blog. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

Friday, December 16, 2016

True Romance and the Birthday Boy

Jo McNally

Today is my husband's birthday. This photo is from a couple years ago, on one of his "big O" birthdays. We were at a friend's home for what Himself thought was just dinner. Before dessert, I changed into this sparkly dress and came out singing "Happy Birthday" a la Marilyn Monroe, all breathy and flirty (while everyone else donned crazy hats and threw confetti). Yup - after twenty years of marriage, we've still got it.

On paper, mind you, there's no practical reason our marriage should work. He's full of Irish passion and temper. I'm a quiet WASP. He charges through life full-speed ahead, with a take-no-prisoners attitude about everything. I'm the worrywart who frets constantly (what if they don't like me? what if someone gets hurt? what if we get caught?). I can't bear to break rules. He lives to break the rules in every way possible. He's the ultimate morning person, leaping out of bed before dawn, ready to tackle the day. I'm the polar opposite of a morning person. I've been known to put the milk away in the pantry and the cereal in the refrigerator. He won't hesitate to get in someone's face if an injustice has been done. I'm mortified at the thought of causing a scene. He's loud. I'm not. He loves crowds and parties. I'm happy with a good book and a glass of wine. I cry at commercials. He laughs at me while I'm crying at commercials.

So when people say certain romance novel tropes, such as opposites attract or enemies-to-lovers, are unrealistic....I just smile. Himself and I weren't enemies, but we are two strong personalities, and fireworks have been known to happen. As noted above, we're definitely opposites and are definitely attracted. Oh, and we fell in love almost instantly after meeting on a blind date. Within just a week or so, we knew there was something special going on. So perhaps not love at first site, but definitely romance at first sight. It can happen!

While I'm relatively new at the romance writing biz, Himself has already heard the typical writer's spouse questions. Are you her inspiration? Yes. Does she work out her bedroom scenes with you? Maybe. Do you read her books? Only under duress. What's it like when she's writing? Like living with an angry mountain lion (it's true - he'll bring me a sandwich, wordlessly set it on my desk, then back away slowly so as not to incur the wrath of an interrupted writer!). It's not easy being married to a romance writer, but he's a trooper about it. We even went to a Halloween party this year dressed as the couple on the cover of my book!

Himself is also my biggest cheerleader. After he read the manuscript that became my debut Superromance, "She's Far From Hollywood" (coming February 2017), he left this sticky note on it. This will always be my favorite review of all time.

Do you have a relationship that matches a romance novel trope (second chance romance, friends to lovers, enemies to lovers, military romance, workplace romance, etc.)? Tell us about it!

Thursday, December 15, 2016

'Tis the season...for some serious Editorial cheer!

 by Karen Reid, Editor, Harlequin Superromance  

December means two things around the Harlequin Editorial department: rushing to meet due dates before the Christmas break (sigh) and spreading cheer & goodwill on a daily basis (yay!).

I’m sure no one wants to hear me talk about looming deadlines, but I thought it might be nice to offer a sneak peek into what goes on in our Toronto office during the holiday rush.

We started the season off in a perfect way, courtesy of our Fun Committee, with a Hot Chocolate & Paper Snowflake gathering. And you know what? Apparently editors are big fans of making paper snowflakes--though we do all have varying levels of skill in this area. As for myself, I admittedly had to go online for a refresher (Thank you, Martha Stewart!). And not only did we end up with a good number of unique snowflakes to decorate our hall with, but it was also a surprising stress reliever!

Next up on the Cheer Agenda, was our decorating day. The Holiday Committee spends the morning getting our department into the festive spirit. It’s always fun, and each year we seem to get it done faster—we must be getting good at it! Of course, there was that time when one of us (the editor in question shall remain nameless…) almost electrocuted themselves while stringing up the lights. So if we get through the process with everyone safe & unharmed we deem it a success J. And for the record, this year was a success!

Once we had our fun, it was time to give back. And I think it’s fair to say that our company-wide charity event is something that everyone looks forward to. The Holiday Committee actually started planning for this day in early Fall. And as usual, the Harlequin Holiday Fundraiser fair took place in early December and once again we had a great turnout.

For our part, Editorial put on a raffle to raise funds for a local community organization that helps families with basic necessities, such as groceries, clothing and toiletries. In addition, our department chose to bring in school supplies that these same families will use for the next school year. Not only did we have lots of fun and feel great about ourselves (selfish motivations!), but we also did some good. And isn’t that what this time of year is all about?

Oh, and did I mention what a great excuse the fundraiser always is for us to don our fantastic Christmas sweaters. Of course, Editor Johanna Raisanen totally outdid me with her reindeer headpiece ;). Love it! I’ll have to get myself one for next year.

Our grand finale for the season took place this past Monday at the Editorial Holiday Potluck. I wish I had some pictures to share, but, honestly, I was too busy stuffing my belly— #NoRegrets. It was a delicious and merry time! Aside from being talented editors, I work with some pretty fantastic cooks and bakers. Yum!

So as I look forward to 2017, I am grateful for the wonderful people I work with, both at the office and outside the office (I’m looking at all of you, Authors!), and I can’t wait to see what fantastic things we do (& write) next year!

Happy Holidays & All the best in the New Year!

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