Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Giving Thanks

by Angel Smits

I know it’s not “cool” to be a “homemaker” in this day and age, but the women who’ve gone before me who were moms, wives, chief cook and bottle washers have my greatest respect.  No more so than this time of year, as I’m reminded of how hard that job can be!
            I go through my recipe cards each holiday season.  I have cards with handwriting that is now familiar, and grows more cherished as time goes by.  My mom.  My grandmother.  My great grandmother.  My mother-in-law.  Aunts.  Friends of mine, and family members.  Some of these cards are stained and worn, others are pristine, but still precious.  They are all pathways to delicious! 
            What a gift these women have left for me.  And the memories.  The process of making their recipes reminds me of watching these women, from the time I was little, as they worked on holidays.  (Have you ever tried to lift a 20+ pound turkey out of a hot oven?!  It's work!)  And as I mimic their actions, the scents of all those familiar dishes waft through the house.  More memories return.
            And they didn’t just do this once or twice a year, like I do.  They did this day in and day out.  Large families to feed.  Hired hands on the farms, as well as gatherings for the neighborhood and church.  Weddings and funerals back in the day weren’t catered.  The guests were fed by the ladies clubs and women’s groups.  By family. 
            They worked hard.  And I’m exhausted just getting my modern-day house cleaned and grocery-store-bought food prepared.  (I don’t even want to think about my grandmother who raised/grew and prepared the food that went on her table!)  I’ve heard about plucking feathers—and buckshot—out of soon-to-be dinner.  Yeah, pushing that shopping cart is much less work. 
            These thoughts seem even stronger this year, as I’m facing the deadline for my next book in the Chair at the Hawkins Table series.  I’m telling Tara’s story this time.  She’s the youngest of the clan, and is just starting out as a chef. 
            She learned to cook at her mother’s elbow, and now that her mom is gone, she misses her mother’s guidance.  When her sister, Addie finds the recipe cards of their family, it’s like getting a piece of her mom back.  I’ve been enjoying writing this book, and look forward to what those cards reveal to her.  And about her.
            Over on the Super Romance Facebook page this week, several authors shared their favorite recipes for the holiday.  Hopefully, you’ll pop on over there, after you’re finished here, and check them out.  And, please share something of yours.  I’ve already copied some of those to add to my collection of cherished recipes. 
            Here’s one that I’m going to try again this year.  (I usually screw it up, but I love this stuff!)  Grandma’s gone, but just seeing her handwriting—and her special instructions for me—makes me feel like she’s here for a short visit.

Hilma Strong's Yummy Toffee!

            Thank you to all the women out there who make our holidays so very special and warm.


Friday, November 18, 2016

Favorite Holiday Traditions

by Kristina Knight

I love the holiday season. I know, a lot of people say that. I actually do love it, from the too-early store decorations to the fact that the All Holiday music channel started on November 1st this year instead of waiting until Thanksgiving weekend.

I love the shopping and the wrapping and the baking and the cooking...and, yeah, I'll hit a wall about December 9th and wish it was over, but by December 12th, I'll be back in the spirit.

Part of my love of the season is thanks to our daughter - she's 8 this year, and is growing up way too fast, but she still believes in Santa and the magic of the season. She's eager to see where her Elf on the Shelf will have moved to over night (I don't like the Elf...stuffed animals/people who move are wrong, just wrong), and, of course, seeing all of the lights.

One of my favorite holiday traditions will happen next Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, and it will be repeated at least twice during the season: the three of us will load up into RadioMan's truck and drive around to see all the lights. There are several big displays in our city, along with a couple of singing light displays. I make cocoa for the car cups, we turn up the Christmas music and drive for a couple of hours. My favorite is the Christmas Tree House because they put a light show to music (including some Charlie Brown songs - LOVE). bebe's favorite is still Magic Street - there is one neighborhood in our town (pictured pretty lamely above) where every house will be decorated. House lights, tree lights, blow-ups and yard displays. It's like Christmas has thrown up all over the neighborhood and it's the best.thing.ever. RadioMan's favorite is a drive-through display near the lake. Charitable organizations and school groups put up individual displays - everything from a light-up couple being married on a snowy hill to an automated Nutcracker, and even a lone soldier, standing guard.

We'll drive through the displays (not all of them every trip), and we'll talk and we'll sip cocoa and we'll sing along to the radio...and it's just about perfect (it would be over-the-top perfect if we could take a horse-drawn carriage through the snow to see the far that hasn't happened). What I like about it the most is that we're making memories that bebe will have through her entire life. She'll remember when the lights on the Christmas Tree House were just slightly out of sync and she'll remember when Santa jumped out from behind one of the displays at the drive-through park and she'll be able to see that entire street filled with twinkling lights until she's 80. And we will have those moments, too.

What about you? Do you have a favorite holiday tradition?

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Inspiration in Quebec City

by Piya Campana, Assistant Editor

Old Quebec
Something about the second week of November has me craving travel. Last year around this time, I was eating my way through Brooklyn. The year before that was Reykjavik, chasing the Northern Lights, bathing in outdoor thermal pools, hiking a glacier and not-so-covertly keeping an eye out for Bjork.

This past weekend, the November travel bug bit again and I was in Quebec City. A short flight from Toronto, Quebec is one of the largest French-speaking cities in North America. The old town is gloriously European in feel, the local food and beer make me wax poetic and there are several interesting neighborhoods that are perfect for meandering evening walks.

Blood pudding!

A huge part of travel for me is definitely the food. I had some wonderful poutine (beautiful union of French fries, gravy and squeaky cheese curds), tourtière (flaky meat pie flavored with cinnamon and cloves, often served with fruit ketchup) and blood pudding (only when sampling this did I feel I earned Victoria's nickname for me: Adventure Editor. ...Well, maybe my attempts to speak French with Uber drivers counts, too). 

Other highlights included Montmorency Falls (higher than Niagara Falls by 98 feet, accessible from the city by public transit), a ferry ride across the St Lawrence River and several steep uphill walks to reach different areas of the city for spectacular views.
Me at Montmorency Falls

After each one of these November trips, I'm revitalized. Nothing like travel to bring a new perspective, or a new manuscript wish list item! A cozy Christmas romance set in La Vieille Capitalle, perhaps?

View from St-Jean Baptiste neighborhood
Have you ever taken a trip that was only very loosely planned, but turned out great anyway? Did it turn up somehow in your work-in-progress? I'd love to hear about it in the comments!

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Party On!

Flying in to say that if you're on Facebook, you might want to pop into the Super Authors Facebook Party, happening today, from noon - 6:00 p.m. Eastern time. Prizes, laughter, and good times will be the order of the day. We might not look as fancy as we did here:

But on the other hand, no Spanx required. So kick off your shoes and come play with us. See you there!

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Question of the Month: What are you thankful for?

In the US and Canada, we celebrate Thanksgiving each October and November, many of us with family gatherings. There is great food and fun conversation and probably a few too many drinks of an adult nature...and we also give thanks. So, we asked Superromance authors what they are thankful for this year.

Tara Taylor Quinn: I am incredibly thankful for my right to control my own mind and to choose my own actions/reactions. We have so much coming at us all the time, from social media, internet, news, and those in our lives – all attempting to convince us what we need/want or should think and feel. It would be overwhelming if not for the fact that after all is said and done, we can go inside ourselves, listen to our own minds and hearts, and make the choices that are right for us. I am thankful for individuality. For the fact that we are all meant to be different as that gives each of us something unique to honor and to contribute.

Kristina Knight: I am thankful for technology! My computer and tablet make it easy for me to write from anywhere, with my iPhone I can video-chat with far-flung family members or text silliness with bebe in the next room, and through social media, I get to meet author friends and reader friends who I wouldn't get to meet in my 'real' life.

Jennifer Lohmann: I'm thankful for the love and support of the Viking and that I've been blessed with adding him and his children to my family. I'm thankful that we are truly on our way to becoming a blended family. I'm thankful for my new job and my new house. And I'm thankful for the fact that my dog's anti-dementia meds seem to be working.

Kris Fletcher: In addition to the big things - my family, my friends, my faith - I am very grateful that  I have a job I can do from home, in peace, by myself. I am grateful for the flexibility this affords me and for the people I'm privileged to call my readers. I am also exceedingly grateful for caffeine.

Nan Dixon: I am always, always thankful to my wild and crazy family. They are my foundation and hope and joy. They keep me laughing and have blessed me with fabulous grandchildren and memories. And I can't help but be thankful for the ability to spend my days writing and creating stories. I couldn't ask for a better way to spend my time!

Claire McEwen: I feel so blessed, this could be a long list!  I'm grateful for my son, who makes me smile every day.  He is joy personified. I'm grateful for my husband. Ten years into this journey together, he is still my real-life hero.  And I'm grateful for my dog, who is ridiculous and special and rather strange, but we love him anyway.  I'm grateful for the chance to write my stories, and for my editor and for Harlequin and for all the lovely people who read our Superromance books.

Sharon Hartley: I am thankful for what a beautiful world we live in, that the sun comes up every morning and that birds can fly free.  Even in times of despair, I'm very thankful that nature can always heal.  I am also thankful that part of that healing is the privilege of writing stories where good triumphs over evil, where my heroes and heroines embody courage and loyalty and always try to do the right thing on their journey toward love - not hate. And I pray it's not all just fiction.

Jo McNally: I have so much to be thankful for! There are times when my husband and I will just look at each other and say "we are so blessed." Not because we live in a mansion or anything (we definitely do NOT!), but because we have a roof over our heads, a decent life and friends and family we love. I am particularly thankful for the support system I've had while beginning this writing adventure. My husband was there when I wept over rejection letters and now that I'm with Supers, he's there while I'm freaking out over deadlines. He's my anchor. And my dear friends are loving cheerleaders who understand when I'm too busy to socialize, and offer me mini-breaks for a drink or a just a walk together. Those "little" things make a big difference to a tired, frazzled writer!

Angel Smits: I’m grateful for this God-given talent of writing that has opened so many doors for me.  I can’t imagine not having these fascinating people and stories living inside my head.  And while sometimes it’s a frustrating industry to work in, I’m SO thankful for my family and friends who support my struggles with it.

Mary Sullivan: I'm grateful for the gift of literacy. It has enriched my life in countless ways.

Monday, November 14, 2016

The Value of Girlfriends

by Jo McNally

Make new friends, but keep the old;
Those are silver, these are gold. Joseph Parry

In my debut novel, She’s Far From Hollywood (February ‘17), my Hollywood diva heroine discovers the difference between true friends and “people we happen to know.”
Friendship is a recurring theme throughout the book, and that’s not a coincidence. I’m one of those people who doesn’t have a huge number of close friends (it’s a Capricorn thing), but the ones I have are absolute treasures in my life. Yes, of course, my husband, Himself (it’s an Irish thing), is my best friend. But more about him some other time. I’m talking about girlfriends today!
When I moved South from upstate NY to North Carolina four years ago, I left some much-loved friends behind. But thanks to the wonders of Facebook, email, texting and telephones, our friendships are as strong as ever. One of us can send a text saying “I really need to talk,” and within minutes that phone call is happening, and it’s as if we’re sitting in the same room again, laughing and listening and caring. When I’m visiting up North, we always make time to get together. These gals knew me when I made the surprise announcement that I was writing a romance novel. Each one of them reacted in the same way--not with worry and warnings and practicality, but with “Oh, wow! That’s amazing! You’ll do great!” Some have even been beta-readers as I figured out what I was doing, and their cheerleading and advice has been invaluable. Long distance friends rock!
Moving to a new state was really scary for me. I’d lived within a few miles of where I grew up for...well...let’s just say it was long time, okay? But Himself and I were so fortunate to end up living in an amazing new town, and most importantly, an amazing little dead-end street. I have dear friends here who don’t happen to be my neighbors (including a special gal who actually flew as Mary Poppins this month in our local theater!), but my neighbors are incredible women.
And did I mention they were crazy?
We have different backgrounds, we all moved here from different places, and yet we were instant friends when we met. The type of friends who can send a group text saying “wine night tonight, my porch, 7PM” and we’re there. The type of friends where we can sit and talk about anything without fear. Jobs. Family. Husbands. Health. Whatever. And speaking of husbands, our husbands are such good friends they go out for “guys wing night” every week--talk about lucky!
We’re the type of friends who can call and say “Hey, wanna help me plan a….” and the answer is “yes” before we finish the sentence. Golf tournament? Check. Valentine’s Party? Check. Wine tasting? Check. Murder mystery Halloween party? Check. St. Patrick’s Party? Check. Surprise birthday party with half a ton of confetti? Check. And my favorite party of all? The dinner party (we have a lot of those) that ended up being my surprise book contract party.

There were stacks of books everywhere as decorations. We
played “Guess the Author” as an icebreaker. And the cake? Well, the cake was awesome, even if the advance amount was slightly exaggerated (and the book title changed before publication!). They have been with me on this writing journey every step of the way. They understand when I have to decline invitations to meet a deadline, and they understand when I need a break for a drink and some laughs before getting back to my computer.
I’m not sure about that silver and gold quote - how can anyone really determine which friends are most valuable in our lives? Perhaps the point is that they’re each precious, just in different ways. What do you think? How important are girlfriends to your life?

Friday, November 11, 2016

The Hard Parts

Kris Fletcher

Just this afternoon I had cause to talk with Amazingly Awesome Editor Piya Campana about a project for next year. I had sent in a couple of ideas and we'd had some back-and-forth emails, trying to get it right. Today she called to discuss the latest incarnation, and in doing so, gave me the precise idea I needed. I jotted notes, we talked some more, she asked how I felt about it, and I said, Are you kidding? This is great! You did the hard part for me!"

And I meant it.

Ask any group of authors what's their least favorite part of writing a book, and you'll get as many answers as you have people. Some folks hate plotting: how do you decide among all those options? Some folks hate the first draft: so many unknowns! Some loathe revising: I'm sick of this story!

We won't even talk about how most authors feel when asked to write a synopsis.

I think it has a lot to do with our personalities. I've mentioned before that I am a homebody who likes the known, the familiar, the comfortable. Is it any surprise that I really hate starting a new book? Coming up with the concept ... figuring out what scenes will best tell the story ... writing those painful first chapters where everything has to be explained and the characters are still generic blobs to me ...

Basically, I dread everything leading up to and including the entire first draft. Which kind of sucks, since that's the part that takes the most time, you know?

The good part is that I love revising. Especially when I'm revising per Piya's instructions, because then, the problems have all been pointed out and my job is just to fix them. Fixing is easy. (Okay, not always. Ask me about how many boxes of tissues it took me to survive the rewrites on A FAMILY COME TRUE.) But generally, if someone else points out the problem and all I need to do is address it, I am one happy camper.

My very favorite part, though comes at the end: the polishing. I love taking sentences and tweaking them, changing up words to make meanings clearer, adding a hint of rhythm or a sly little reference to a song lyric or some other wordplay. I believe this is what's known as wordsmithing. It's my reward and I always wish I had time to linger over this stage because seriously, it is The. Best.

But I can't linger. Because then it's time to start another book. And away we go again.

How about you folks? What's your favorite part of a project - the beginning, the middle, or the final stages? Fellow authors, what are your favorite/least favorite parts of writing a book?

Thursday, November 3, 2016

A Week to Celebrate (Tara Taylor Quinn)

Pretty much anyone who knows me knows how much I love Superromance. I am deeply committed to these books as I know, through my own experience, how they gently enter a woman's heart, show her strength she doesn't know she has, give her hope when she's lost it, warm her when she's cold, and provide companionship when she's lonely. I've been contracted, non-stop, with the Harlequin Superromance line since 1992. And so you can probably feel a hint of the thrill I am feeling today as I announce that I have just accepted a 10 book deal with Harlequin and that that deal includes several more Superromance books!
This was part of my celebration. My husband told me he'd take me wherever I wanted to go for dinner. I wanted very specific things - and one of them was to not have to sit in a restaurant with a bunch of other people, wait to be waited on, and have TV's on. I wanted the best steak. Great bread. Champagne. He took me to a butcher shop here in town. Had me pick out the steak. On to the grocery to choose my champagne. My bread. He threw in a suggestion for this broccoli cranberry salad we found at the deli last week that is phenomenal. I added a spooky cupcake because, after all, this is Halloween week. He cooked the steak to perfection. Added in some steak fries - I am a closet French Fry lover - and we sat out back in our garden oasis with the fountain going.

I suppose I could be stressed that I now have to write the ten books. I am not. At all. I am a writer. I will be writing regardless of the business end of things. I cannot wait to get started! In addition to Sueprromance I am also adding Special Edition to my writing homes. We don't have stories yet, for any of these books, but in discussion yesterday I think we pretty much decided that there will be at least one more Where Secrets Are Safe books - most likely more than one.

For today, if you'd like to join me in my week of partying, we're having a huge party and a ton of giveaways over on Facebook at the Let's Give Thanks Release Party today, Thursday, from 1:30 - 4 EDT, but you can also visit later and comment for chances to win!!

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

November 2016 New Releases

HOME FREE (Sierra Legacy)
Claire McEwen

His first taste of freedom was only the beginning… 

Arch Hoffman has paid for his crimes. All he wants is to come home to rural California and start over. He's not looking to be a hero when he rescues a wedding cake from hitting the dirt at the ranch next door. But culinary artist Mandy Allen's irresistible smile makes him glad to save the day—and thankful that they're neighbors. 

Mandy's just the distraction Arch needs. Her sweet voice quiets the memories that threaten his chance to be a better man, and he's determined to help her confront her fears. But the past is its own prison, and even love might not be enough to set them free.

SAVED BY THE FIREFIGHTER (Templeton Cove Stories)
Rachel Brimble

How can she forgive him for what he didn't do? 

Photographer Izzy Cooper feels as frozen as her pictures. Trent Palmer might be the hottest firefighter in Templeton Cove, but she can never face him again. Not after he failed to save her brother. But when they're forced together by a calendar shoot, the sparks between them are undeniable. 

Izzy knows it's not fair to blame Trent for the tragedy, but opening herself up to loss again isn't something she's prepared to do, no matter how determined Trent is to show her that pain is part of life and that love—their love—can make any suffering bearable.

Vicki Essex

Having his heart stolen wasn't part of the plan! 

Shane Patel has a way with people—a skill that's made him a success in the condo development business. But his charms are proving useless on Miriam Bateman. The Crown Theater is the key to his company's latest project. It also happens to be Miriam's home and her grandfather's legacy. She's made it clear that it's not for sale. 

Despite the frustration, Shane's enjoying trying to win Miriam over. And the best part of his day becomes watching old movies with her. When Miriam's plans to reopen the theater threaten his project, though, Shane has a tough decision to make: his career or Miriam.


Julianna Morris

A former navy SEAL undercover…and into temptation 

Going undercover at the historic Poppy Gold Inns should be easy for former navy SEAL Gabe McKinley. But it's not. He needs to find out who's sabotaging his family's company…and his prime suspect is the resort's lovely—and fiercely protective—manager, Tessa Connor. 

The more he gets to know her—and the more they get under each other's skin—the more Gabe doubts that Tessa could be the culprit. But has his military focus been compromised by his need to kiss her blind? Because as they get closer to danger, Gabe risks the one thing he fears: falling for Tessa.

November 2016 Box Set

Harlequin® Superromance brings you a collection of four new novels, available now! Experience powerful relationships that deliver a strong emotional punch and a guaranteed happily ever after.

This Superromance box set includes:

Poppy Gold Stories
by Julianna Morris

Sierra Legacy
by Claire McEwen

by Rachel Brimble

by Vicki Essex

Join HarlequinMyRewards to earn FREE books and more. Earn points for all your Harlequin purchases from wherever you shop.

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