Monday, February 29, 2016

Happy Leap Day!

By Jeannie Watt

When my husband does something nice for me, I say, "Honey, you're one in 1,461." That's because my husband is a leapling and the odds of being born on Leap Day are--you got it--1 in 1,461. 

At the risk of repeating myself, since I shared this information on the Superromance Question of the Month post, my husband was eight when I married him. He and my daughter turned twelve the same year and he was still twelve when my son turned twelve.

I'm not going into the reasons for Leap Day. Every newspaper in the country prints an article about solar years, etc, on February 29th, however, I do have a few factoids:

February 29th is Bachelor's Day in some countries. On this day women can propose marriage to a man. If he refuses, he has to give the woman money, glove or a silk dress, depending on the area in which the couple lives. According to Irish legend, St. Brigid stuck a deal with St. Patrick to allow women to propose marriage to men every four years and thus began Bachelor Day.

The Greeks consider it unlucky to marry on Leap Day.

Every Leap Year in the USA is blessed with a Presidential Election.


Don't tell my husband this, because he celebrates his non-leap year birthday on February 28th, mathematically, his birthday should fall on March 1, which is 365 days after the day of his birth. He's always been the impatient sort, so I don't hold a hard here. Also, his birth month is February. Some countries, like New Zealand have laws pertaining to leaplings non-leap year birthdays. In New Zealand the day is February 28. In Honk Kong and the UK, it's March 1st. Most other countries get to choose between the two. Personally, I'd be right there with my husband, celebrating a day early.

Do you know any leaplings? 

Friday, February 26, 2016


Are you red carpet ready for the OSCARS?
By Karen Reid, Associate Editor, Harlequin Superromance 
(All images in this post have been shamelessly stolen from various internet sites.)


I love the OSCARS. The glitz, the glam, the fantastic movies… Are you caught up on your movie watching? No? Well, me neither. As I’m looking down the list of Best Motion Picture nominees, I realize it’s been a really bad year for one of my favorite pastimes, movie watching. So, let’s just focus on the glitz & glam…and one of my other favorite pastimes—fashion!

There’s no debating that besides film making, the OSCARS are all about the fashion. Which is why years ago, my sister and I began picking our dresses for the big show. Have I ever gone to the OSCARS? A definite no. Should that stop me from virtual dress shopping? Absolutely not. In fact, when you are fantasy shopping there are no rules, no budget, no boundaries. So, every year I beeline it to the haute couture shows, of course. I mean, this is the OSCARS, no way would I be caught buying off the rack, darling!

This year, however, I’m stuck between two options. What do you think?

 
Naeem Khan, Haute Couture Fall 2016
 
 
Marc Jacobs Spring/Summer 2016


Tough choice, I know! I love both…perhaps A for the ceremony and B for the numerous after parties I’ll be attending? (Remember, I have no budget).

I realize, to some of you this may seem a tad silly, but I cannot stress how much fun this is and how much joy it has brought me in the middle of many a drearyToronto winter. So I encourage each of you to give it a shot, search the internet for haute couture shows and I challenge you not to lose half a day to your search for the perfect dress.

And once you’ve done that, if you’re looking for another way to whittle away your day, choose a date. Now, perhaps this won’t take much time at all. We all have that special someone at the top of our “list”, but when attending the OSCARS, you may want to consider a few extra things:

·         Arm candy factor (um, you’re going to have a lot of pictures taken of you so he better look every bit as good as you, or at least almost J)

·         Sense of humor (someone who can make you laugh will come in handy during the boring bits of the show)

·         Strong, broad shoulders (for you to lean your head on and shed your tears when you don’t hear your name called. Boo!)

·         Ready to party (because you are not interested in heading home early—no, not on the night of the OSCARS!)

This year, I was going to go with a fictional date, “Lou Solverson” from FARGO, Season 2…but now that I’m thinking about, he’s probably an early-to-bed type, so instead I’m going with James McAvoy. sigh.

 




Not only is he incredibly talented and super handsome, with a too-die-for accent, but he seems like he’d be loads of fun to share a few drinks and have some laughs with. He’s also been to the OSCARS before, so he would be relaxed about the whole affair (i.e. low maintenance). And, yes, he’s happily married, but so am I—and this is fantasy, ladies!

So have some fun, picking that dress and perfect date. And if you need Hollywood inspiration, check out these Superromance books that have celebrity themes: Red Carpet Arrangement, by Vicki Essex (Jan/16), His First Choice, by Tara Taylor Quinn (May/16), No Ordinary Home, by Mary Sullivan (Oct/14), A Touch of Scarlet, by Liz Talley (Oct/11), and A Perfect Distraction, by Anna Sugden (Sep/13).
 
Cheers!

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Pleasant Surprises

By Angel Smits

There are times having a child who is “different” can be difficult.  The challenges are ever changing and so many times I find myself at a loss.  But then there are those moments where I realize I’ve been given a unique blessing. 
            My daughter, Jennifer has Asperger’s syndrome, one of the disorders on the Autism Spectrum.  She’s very high functioning and at first meeting, most people don’t realize she’s any different.  But there are times where her logic is so very different from mine.  It definitely keeps me on my toes. 
            Jennifer is quite typical within her Aspergers’s and change is difficult for her.  Any kind of change.  Routine and pattern are comforting to her, so we work very hard to keep life consistent.  When our beagle passed away last year, we took only a few weeks to figure out that we needed another dog in our life.  We adopted a puppy--a border collie mix.  We named her Maggie and she bonded quickly with Jennifer.  It’s almost as if Maggie knew she was meant to be a service dog, and whether we made it official or not, she was here to do her job. 
            She’s a great dog and lives a pretty danged good life.  But a few months ago, we noticed that she was still quite hyper at the end of the day.  One of Jennifer’s jobs is to walk the dog.  She’s still part puppy, so even though Maggie has a big yard to run around in, getting out for a long walk is good for her—and for Jennifer.  We started asking Jennifer if she was taking the dog for walks.  Finally, she admitted that she might have missed a few times. 
            Since the walks are so important for them both, my husband and I knew we had to find a way to make sure Maggie got her walk.  We both work all day, and didn't really like the idea of making them go out after dark.  We made a new requirement.  Jennifer would have to take a picture of Maggie on the walk each day and she had to text it to her father and I.    

The beginning
            Now if you’ve ever dealt with someone who has Asperger’s this won’t surprise you.  (I don’t know why I still marvel over it.)  I now have over 200 pictures of my daughter and various views of the dog.  When we started this, we didn’t think about anything except getting the dog her walk. 
            We did not think this through.  
            First, I never thought about how difficult it is to take a selfie with a dog.  I wasn't really thinking along the lines of a selfie, more just a picture of the dog and the scenery to prove where they went.  Jennifer’s gotten quite proficient at it, though.  It also never occurred to us that she’d keep doing it.  Every day since last July my phone dings and there’s another one.  I now have pictures showing me the progression of Maggie and Jennifer’s friendship, as well as the changing of all four seasons. 




            What was originally born of frustration, has turned into a fun activity for our family.  And it’s taught Jennifer a bit about humor, something that Asperger’s makes hard for her.  We often comment when things look a bit odd.  Like the close up of the dog’s tongue.  Or the ones where Jen’s wearing the polar bear hat she got last year. 
            A couple of times Jennifer has gone to visit family or friends and my husband and I walk the dog.  We took pictures of us walking Maggie and sent them to her.  (That’s when I learned how hard it is to take a selfie with a dog!) 

            Goes to show, that sometimes something that comes from darkness can turn into joy.  Maggie hasn’t missed a walk since.  I think she appreciates it, too!

Monday, February 22, 2016

Give and take

Mary Sullivan

Have you come across this problem?

Last week, my daughter was sick with the flu. I took care of her for four days before she booted me out of her apartment. Her reason for asking me to leave? She didn't want me to get sick. In fact, she was terrified that I would catch the flu.

When she wasn't sleeping for hours every day, she was on the internet researching all of the precautions I should be taking to stay healthy while so close to her. At least she was willing to acknowledge that she was sick enough to need someone to take care of her. Plus, she wanted me to make a pot of the soup I've made for her every time she's been sick since she was a little girl.

Her first sip of the broth elicited a great big, 'Aaahhh, I needed that.'

I understood her concerns; however, I'm exceedingly healthy and I washed my hands constantly while I was there.

One evening, we played a board game together because she was starting to go stir-crazy. I had to sit across the room from her and stand up and walk over to the game board to take my turn. I was laughing about it, and she did too to a certain extent, but she was also adamant. I wore plastic gloves while I played.

She invited me to come back over yesterday evening because she was no longer contagious. She was still tired, but is slowly on the mend. We were supposed to play board games again. Instead, we prepared her food for the week so all she would have to do was to reheat leftovers. By the time I left she had a good daily menu set up to last at least four days.

She apologized a number of times because we were cooking instead of playing. Also, she had to sit down often while I continued to cook. Every single time, I had to convince her yet again that it was truly my pleasure.

When she realized she was sick last weekend, she was a two-and-a-half hour drive away. I drove up thinking I was picking her up so we could go skating in an amazing provincial park, but ended up driving her home because she was too weak to skate. We drove into a wet snowstorm and crawled home. The drive took four hours. Again…more apologies from my daughter because the day hadn't turned out as planned. Again…more explanations from me that I was happy to do this for her.

Spending time with her in any form is a pleasure for me. I was sorry that she was sick, but also relieved that I was available and able to help.

Last night, she walked into my arms and said she'd wanted one of my hugs all weekend. She wouldn't let me come close enough to hug her last week. I would have been there to give her as many as she'd wanted if she'd only allowed me to stay.

Asking me to leave because of her fears that I would get ill was her way of protecting me, of giving to me what little she could give at that time.

It seems that we love to give to each other.

Have you come across the problem of someone wanting and needing your help, but sending you away so you wouldn't get sick?

Friday, February 19, 2016

Just a Few Favorites

I am a reader at heart. Oh, I'll never truly give up my writing pen, but escaping into a good book (or three on a rainy, windy day) is my all-time favorite pleasure. I read across the spectrum - romance to thriller, sci-fi to mystery, autobiography to dramatized non-fiction.

I like to think that because reading has been such a big part of my life, that it has also made me a better writer. Like, maybe I've absorbed a little about characterization or plotting or story rhythm from the books I've read.

These are three of my favorite authors, writers whose books I come back to time after time...and who always manage to sweep me away from my overstuffed chair in my cozy living room...

3. Louisa May Alcott: You thought she only wrote Little Women? My dears, my dears...there are more books, of course there are more, but Little Women is, in fact, my favorite of her books. Little Men? Of course it was a fun read, and Jo's Boys gave me a glimpse of life post-Women...but Jo and Meg, Amy and Beth were so...real in so very many ways. The way she drew her characters made them come alive, and that made them a part of me. Just a little bit.

2. Jayne Ann Krentz: Just the Jayne Ann books. I know, I know, she has several pseudonyms, and I love them all, but the Jayne books are my absolute favorites. She has a way with characterization that blows me away. These are books that I can sink into and get really lost...and after a few days of being stranded on that desert island, I'm going to need some civilization to escape into.

1. Anne Rivers Siddons: Anne writes with amazing emotion; she has this ability to draw me into a story so much that, even after I've finished the book, the characters are still alive for me. Sometimes a year or two later I'll wonder 'what is ___ doing now?' and I always hope that maybe she'll release a sequel to my absolute favorites...even a short story.

I have a lot more favorite authors, too many to list here. What about you? Who are some of your favorite authors?

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Acceptance and Contacts Experiment

Hey everyone! It's been a while since I posted over here. No excuses, just busy and distracted, like everyone else. Getting back into the swing of writing on the blog has been one of my goals for the new year and I'm glad to be working my way to that goal!

On to the post!

I wear glasses. I've worn glasses since I was in second grade. I was in Mrs. Ohlensehlen's class and I started failing. Two things came out of this: 1) I got diagnosed as dyslexic and 2) I got my first pair of glasses, a pink, wire-rimmed pair that I promptly lost at an Old Spaghetti Factory restaurant while on vacation. My mom was pissed and it didn't get me out of having to wear glasses.

I don't remember getting teased about the glasses, but I think I must have been because I still remember two rhymes my mom taught me.

Men seldom make passes
At girls who wear glasses
(the great Dorothy Parker)

Roses are red,
Violets are blue.
If I had two eyes,
I'd be as stupid as you
(No attribution, but a response to the "Four Eyes" tease)

Over the years I've had a love-hate relationship with my glasses. I've had some really terrible glasses, like this enormous red-rimmed pair with blue tint at the top and red tint at the bottom that I wore in seventh grade ("Like make-up," said my mom. Sorry mom, those were awful!). I've stumbled around Halloween blind because I kept getting face paint on the lenses. And, despite being a strong swimmer, I'm timid in the ocean. On the plus side, anytime I don't want to pay attention to something, I can take off my glasses and I'm never self-conscious in yoga (I don't wear my glasses and so don't see the people around me). 

Eventually I settled down into seeing them as a fashion accessory. I pick out my own glasses and they are one fashion piece I never stint on. I gotta wear 'em all the time when I'm awake, so I might as well spend as much money as needed to get the pair I want.

Just because my glasses as part of who I am and I've been wearing them for thirty years, doesn't mean I don't sometimes wonder about the glorious glasses-free life. When I was sixteen, I tried contacts and hated them. They made my eyes tired. My face looked funny without glasses. The final straw was a debate tournament when I'd been wearing them for too long and one ripped in my eye. Getting two small pieces of contact off my eyeball was not pleasant.

Flash forward to aging...

Did you know nearsighted eyes get better when you get older? At least, they are supposed to. All through my thirties, my ex and I would go to the eye doctor. His eyes would gradually get better until now he only wears glasses to drive. Meanwhile, the doctor would tell me that--one day!--my eyes would get better as they got--and continue to get!--worse, and worse, and worse.

I used to joke that my eyes would keep getting worse and then I'd be old enough to need reading glasses and I wouldn't be able to see anything clearly at all.

Sadly, this is not a joke. I'm now in my late thirties and I decided to try contacts again. If I want to wear contacts, then I have to wear reading glasses. In another job, this wouldn't be a big deal, but I read all the time in both my day job and as an author. Worse, in the library, I'm constantly looking up at customers and down at my computer and so something ends up blurry. I'm sure there's a way to master looking over the reading glasses, but I haven't figure it out yet.

None of this is a problem that is unique to me and, in all honesty, it's a minor problem. I have vision insurance, I can afford both contacts and glasses if I need, and it's not like my eyes are causing me to suffer--tired eyes don't count.

The contacts experiment has been a reminder that we're not able to make peace with our bodies forever. We think we've accepted the glasses, gapped tooth, big/small/medium breasts, etc, and then our lives change and we realize acceptance can't always be taken for granted. Sometimes, you have to look at the body part again, reassess its place in our changed lives, and how age changes our understanding of it.

For me, I'm wondering how often I'm going to wear those contacts :-)

How has age changed your understanding of yourself. Confess to body issues if you want (I'll make sure this is a safe space and there's no judgement from me), but it's not required.


Monday, February 15, 2016

Question of the Month: Do You Leap?

We're halfway through the Month of Love. Flowers have been purchased,
chocolates enjoyed and love celebrated...but this February is even better:
it's Leap Year! Instead of the usual 28 days, we get 29...so we want to
know: How do you celebrate Leap Day?

Jeannie Watt: I will celebrate Leap Year by wishing my beloved Happy Birthday! He was 8 when I married him. He and our daughter turned 12 the same year. He was still 12 when our son turned 12. I was a little tired of 12-year-olds by the time he turned 13.

Kristina Knight: I'd like to say I'm taking the day off to read or sew or otherwise play around - isn't that what we're supposed to do with 'found' time? - but I'm in the middle of a deadline...and bebe's got school and RadioMan has to work...so we're going to celebrate with a special dinner: from-scratch lasagna (my grandmother's recipe), garlic bread and a green salad. Yum!

Janet Lee Nye: In years past, I would treat it like a "free day". If I wasn't scheduled to work, the day would be all mine. No cleaning, no cooking, no doing anything I didn't want to do. But now, when I realized it was Leap Year, I was just happy to have another day for meeting my next deadline!

Kris Fletcher: Like Jeannie, we have a Leap Year baby in the family. My eldest niece will have her sixth REAL birthday this year, and we are very excited! Other than eating cake in her honor, my main way to celebrate this year will be to give thanks. Leap Year means an extra precious day before my March 15 deadline!

Pamela Hearon: We don't have a special celebration for Leap Year, but with a wedding coming up in March, I am grateful for any extra time I can arrange to get everything done!  A whole day? Wow--it's like I've hit the jackpot!

Vicki Essex: As a new mother, I'm not sure that extra day means anything except more feedings and more diapers! Though I suppose it does also mean more cuddles...

Tara Taylor Quinn: I don’t celebrate Leap Year!  It never even occurred to me to do so!  I’m glad to have an extra day this month, though, as I have a book due March 1!

Joanne Rock: I will try my best to celebrate Leap Year with some reading time since a good book is always the way I'd choose to spend some extra "me" time. But I do wish we got that extra day in the form a bonus day that falls outside the traditional Monday through Sunday calendar. Imagine if there was a day slotted between Saturday and Sunday one week? Then we'd really feel like we had a bonus! Hmm... don't look now, but I may have found the key platform to run a nonpartisan campaign on this Election Year. I'm pretty sure we could ALL get behind this!!!

Anna Sugden: We don’t have a special celebration here and no Leap Year babies in the family. But I’m another one with a looming deadline, so grateful for the extra day!

Claire McEwen: I wish the 29th could be a holiday for everyone.  Wouldn't that be fun?  Even though it isn't, I'd like to make time for something special on that extra day.  Maybe a few minutes of 'me' time with a yummy cup of tea and a good book, or a long walk with my dog by the ocean.  But I am also really immersed in writing a book that's due in April, so I have a feeling I'm going to spend a lot of that day with my characters, trying to help them get to their happy ending!

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Winner of Amber Leigh Williams Valentine's Giveaway!

Happy Valentine's Day!

Who else is ready for the $15 Amazon Gift Card drawing? I won't keep you waiting any longer. The winner was chosen by a true random number generator....

Commenter #20 - Fedora

Congratulations, Fedora! Please send a confirmation email to amber@amberleighwilliams.com to receive your prize. Thank you to everyone who commented and participated in Friday's Garters, Romans & A Very Naughty Cupid post. I had tons of fun discussing Valentine's trivia and ideas with you all!

Friday, February 12, 2016

Garters, Romans & A Very Naughty Cupid + Valentine's Giveaway!

With my real-life valentine....
Amber Leigh Williams

I’m currently writing my fourth Superromance novel. The timing could not be more perfect. A year or so ago when I began plotting the story, I knew this was going to be my Valentine’s book. I’ve always wanted to incorporate Valentine’s Day into a romance novel. It seems like an obvious combo—like peanut butter and jelly. Mm, yum—sour cream and onion. Oo oo, ham and pineapple! (Sorry, it seems this writer is hungry…) But my main reason for wanting to involve my characters in Valentine’s Day-related shenanigans is because it’s my favorite holiday. It’s the day I got engaged twelve years ago. And although I had to wait eighteen years to meet my real-life valentine, I was always the kid who loved decorating the white paper bags classmates could fill with valentines, messages, and candy on February 14th.

The hero and heroine of my work-in-progress don’t possess the same warm feelings I do about the holiday. The heroine is a recent divorcee and the hero is decidedly single. Throughout February 14th, like many singles, they’re very much aware that they are without love or attachment. However they may feel about Valentine’s Day, it serves as the launch-point from where their journey to romance and love begins. I’m having fun…maybe a little too much fun...throwing these two singles together.

The whole concept of two characters being single on Valentine’s Day as opposed to the more natural inclination to have them already together came about in a fun conversation I had with my sister years ago over a shared slice of cheesecake. She was the first person I ever heard call Valentine’s Day “Single Awareness Day.”

“That’s sad,” I replied.

“Yes, sad!” she exclaimed. “S.A.D.”

“I meant sad, like unhappy sad,” I noted. “But that’s clever!”

She nodded. “But sad.”

“Probably one of the saddest acronyms ever,” I said.

She smiled. “A step up from Valentine’s Day. V.D.”

I laughed. "Here's hoping those who get V.D. on Valentine's Day are the only ones who deserve it." 
She snorted. "Cheers to that." 

Married One Night
$3.99
The “Singles Awareness Day/S.A.D.” thing seemed to catch on with everyone else. She claims she heard it from another source, but I still have to give credit to my little sis for the lightbulb moment that led to the foundation of Roxie and Byron’s story, which will likely be published later this year or early the next! (Another fun fact...echoes of my sister and conversations we've had through recent years have inspired many a quote from Olivia Lewis, heroine of Married One Night and recurring character in all of my Superromance novels!)

To celebrate Valentine’s, I’ll be giving away a $15 Amazon Gift Card to one lucky Superromance reader! To qualify, just leave a comment on this post before Sunday; February 14th. I’ll draw a name Valentine’s Day morning so check back in here at Super Authors to see if you’ve won!

Until then, here’s some more interesting Valentine’s Day/February 14th fodder for those who love trivia and perhaps a story idea or two for my fellow authors. Enjoy!

Medieval folk believed that birds choose their mates on February 14th, which is why when you see those vintage valentines from decades past, doves are prominently featured.


Those famous candy conversation hearts? They can last for up to five years. Also, a handful of new sayings are introduced to the bunch every year.

One billion Valentine’s Day cards are sent every year, making it second only to the Christmas holiday with children between the ages of six and ten exchanging 650+ million alone.

A popular symbol of Valentine’s Day is the ribbon. This comes from knights of the Middle Ages who carried their sweethearts’ ribbons into tournaments for good luck.

There is some debate over who the St. Valentine of holiday lore actually is since historically there have been no less than eight St. Valentine’s. Most historians have boiled it down to two contenders—Valentine of Rome and Valentine of Terni (who some say might have been the same person….). The more popular choice is Valentine of Terni, a priest of the third century, who was arrested and killed on February 14, 269 A.D. for marrying Roman soldiers and their sweethearts illegally after Claudius II banned Christianity. It is said that during his imprisonment Valentine of Terni fell in love with the jailer’s daughter and in his last note to her on the eve of his death, he signed it “From your Valentine.”

Oregon and Arizona joined the union on Valentine’s Day. (I love this tidbit because although he was born and raised in Alabama like me, my husband’s family has strong roots in both these states.)

Red roses are the most popular choice of flower on Valentine’s Day. In mythological times, the red rose was the flower of the Roman goddess of love, Venus.

More Valentine’s Day fun from the Middle Ages—boys would draw a girl’s name on February 14th and pin the name on their sleeve for a week, hence the saying “wearing your heart on your sleeve.”

Cadbury chocolate boxes date all the way back to the late 1800’s.

In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, British children celebrated Valentine’s Day much like Halloween—by going door-to-door for candy—and Christmas—by singing songs for their neighbors.

Want to give your love an old-fashioned token for Valentine’s Day? Go with the garter or a glove! These were once traditional Valentine’s Day gifts.

The first valentine sent in February 1415 can be viewed in the British Museum. It was sent from a jail cell in the Tower of London from the Duke of Orleans to his beloved wife.
 

Valentine’s Day customs have been banned many times in the past. Oliver Cromwell banned it in England in 1653. (They were brought back in 1660 when King Charles II assumed the throne once more.) More recently, in 2011 Valentine’s Day gifts were banned in Iran.


Cupid and Psyche as seen in the Louvre in Paris...
Loveland, Colorado produces a special heart stamp for Valentine’s Day. It’s estimated that 300,000 letters go through there this time every year.

Cupid has not always been an impish baby…though he has always had a bow and arrow. The Cupid of ancient lore was the son of Venus and Mars and was known as the Roman god of love. The Latin word for Cupid means “desire.” He is featured primarily in the tale of Cupid and Psyche (retold by C.S. Lewis in the book Till We Have Faces from 1956). The illustrations surrounding the myth of Cupid and Psyche are much…ahem, racier than modern depictions of him.

Chaucer was the first writer to incorporate Valentine’s Day in a literary work. He did so in the poem “Parlement of Foules” circa 1381.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Decision Time for an Indecisive Writer!

What should I write next?  That question is buzzing around in the back of my mind like a pesky fly! And it feels funny to even worry about that, because I am still immersed in writing my current Sierra Legacy series.  I have two books left to write!

But I've learned the hard way that when you write commercial fiction, you have to look ahead to your next book because it takes time to think of the characters and plot, write the proposal and get it to your agent, who, if  he or she likes it, will then get it to a publisher.  And then there's that itchy-scratchy wait while you wonder if your book will actually sell.

My problem is that there are so many books I want to write.  I have a partially written series set in Europe and based around the art world. Here is a photo that inspired the first book in the series.


I also have a coastal small town series based on growing up in groovy-yet-gorgeous Marin County, California.  I have cowboys galloping around my head on beautiful horses and I have a large Italian-American family based in a big city whose members are clamoring to get their story told.



And in my typically indecisive way, every day I decide that a different idea is the idea I want to pursue next.

Meanwhile, time is a-ticking and I need to make up my mind and start planning and writing!  So I have questions for you, lovely readers and fellow authors.  City or country?  Coastal or ranching?  Do you have any preferences?  And, when you are trying to make hard decisions, do you have any tricks to help yourself finally decide?

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Happy Semi-Birthday to Me

Kris Fletcher

I have a birthday coming up in the next few days.

No, I'm not going to tell you exactly when. That's a State Secret. What I will tell you is that I'm being seriously ripped off this year, because my birthday will be spent doing all kinds of things I really don't like. How bad will it be? Well, the most enjoyable part of the day will involve final preparations for having four rooms worth of hardwood floors refinished. And yes, I said that would be the fun part of my day.

Given this sad state of affairs, I've decided there's only one logical thing to do. I'm going to celebrate my birthday ahead of time. Not all on one day, mind you, but little indulgences and pockets of pleasure scattered across the days. A birthday week, if you will.

I like this idea. Why should all the fun be jammed into one day, anyway? Especially when the process of bringing me into this world took far more than a mere twenty-hour hours. At least, that's what my mother always said, and I figure if anyone would know, it would be her.

But there's one catch to this idea: I can't figure out what to do.

I know. It's pathetic. But I am really lousy at having fun. Oh, I can figure out special foods (ice cream, ribs, poutine), and I'm pretty good at cuing up some of my favorite tunes to belt while washing the dishes. But  what else should I do?

  • I like massages and pedicures, but I'm too cheap to spring for them 
  • My husband & the girls already gave me my gift ( a new phone. I had to have it ahead: my old one was dying before my eyes)
  • I don't enjoy shopping
  • I would love to spend an afternoon reading, but because of the aforementioned Many Yucky Things on the horizon, I'll be lucky to grab fifteen minutes before I pass out each night

So, folks, I'm turning to you. I need ideas for cheap, fast, non-food ways to celebrate another trip around the sun.

Help me, Super Birthday Fairies. You're my only hope.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

The Winners of Claire McEwen's and Anna Sugden's Prizes AND a Party Invitation!

Happy Saturday!

Last weekend I wrote a blog post about my new Sierra Legacy series and the first book, Wild Horses.  And you all left so many wonderful comments that I decided to choose TWO winners!

So... drumroll please... our randomly drawn winners are Penney and Laurie Iglesias. Congratulations Penney and Laurie!  You each will receive a signed copy of my new book, Wild Horses.  Laurie, please send me your mailing address at cmcewen.writer@gmail.com.  (Penney, I have your address.) 

And everyone else, thank you for joining in!  If you follow me on Facebook or Twitter and/or join my newsletter (at www.clairemcewen.com) there will be some more fun giveaways coming up. 

Hi everyone - Anna here too!

Thank you to everyone who stopped by to celebrate the launch of the fourth book in my New Jersey Ice Cats series, A Perfect Compromise. We had such fun! And since there were so many comments, I too have added an extra prize!

So, without further ado, my cats have randomly chosen the following winners (using the treats on pieces of paper method!):

Signed copy of A Perfect Compromise - Summer
Signed set of limited edition short stories - Angela
Signed copy of either A Perfect Trade or A Perfect Catch - Lorelei.


Please send your snail mail details to me at anna@annasugden.com.
Don't forget you can keep up with my news and giveaways on Facebook or Twitter and/or via my website (www.annasugden.com), where you can sign up for my newsletter.


In fact, speaking of giveaways and fun author stuff...


Superromance Authors are having a Valentine's Day party on Facebook!  

It will be this coming Friday, February 12th, 
From noon until 4:30 p.m. Pacific time.  
(So that' s 3:00 - 7:30 p.m. for all you East Coast folks.)   

Here is the link to the party.  You must have a Facebook account to join in.

Please come celebrate romance and reading with us!  
There will be fun chats and author news and giveaways!  
Hope to see you there!

Friday, February 5, 2016

Top Five Strong Romance Heroines…by Rachel Brimble



Good morning!

I love to write strong heroines in my Harlequin Superromance novels - women who have had events happened to them that they have either overcome or are fighting to overcome. I truly believe our experiences change and shape who we are today. The basis for a strong and lasting romantic relationship surely comes from finding that certain someone who helps us to heal as well as becoming an exciting part of our future.

What do you think? Who are you favorite strong fictional heroines? 

There are so many strong romance heroines out there but here are my Top Five (in no particular order):

1)   Scarlett O’Hara – Gone With The Wind by Margaret Mitchell

Gone With The Wind is one of my all-time favorite books (the only book I have read four times) and I often get into debates with my fellow romance readers/authors about her strength. Some find Scarlett too whiny and needy but, for me, she shows rather than verbalizes her strength. She overcomes horrors and difficulties that most of us (fortunately!) will only find in the pages of this wonderfully epic novel.

2)   Eve Dallas – In Death series by Nora Roberts

Lord, how I love Eve! If you haven’t tried the In Death series yet, make it your mission to start reading this amazing series before Christmas. The books center around Lieutenant Eve Dallas and her ongoing relationship with millionaire, Roarke (not sure if anyone knows if this is his first name or surname!) Each novel brings a new case for Eve to solve and usually involves Roarke or someone she is close to in one way or another. There are a whopping 41 novels so far in the series…

3)   Elizabeth Bennett – Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen

I don’t know a romance reader on the planet who hasn’t read Pride & Prejudice and, for me, it’s Elizabeth Bennett’s strength, integrity and passion which makes this novel continue to sell year after year. A timeless romance, hero and heroine that I predict will live in our hearts and the hearts of future generations for many years to come.

4)   Josie O’Casey – A Glimpse At Happiness by Jean Fullerton

A Glimpse At Happiness is one of my most favorite Victorian romances and the reason I started to write in the genre. Josie O’Casey is a wonderful example of what makes a strong heroine and how they overcome the poverty of their circumstances. This book is about love over adversity, hope over pessimism. A truly gorgeous book and a truly fantastic heroine.

5)   Lucky Santangelo – Jackie Collins


Although Jackie Collins’ books aren’t strictly romance, there is usually a central relationship in her super-sexy stories. I discovered the first book Lucky appears in (Chances) when I was barely into my teens and went on to devour all the books she features in thereafter. A strong, feisty, no holds barred, kind of heroine who demands your attention from the very first page. Tremendous!

Rachel x

My Harlequin Superromance Templeton Cove Stories...

Finding Justice
A Man Like Him
What Belongs To Her
Christmas At The Cove
Her Hometown Redemption

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Need a Mini Retreat from Winter?

Winter Storm Kayla just passed through the Midwest.  In the Twin Cities, we were on the outer edge so in my suburb we only had to clear about a foot of snow.  It was hard to tell the amount because of the drifting.  Having all the snow is a great excuse to keep my fire burning in the family room.

I don’t mind that we haven’t gotten as snow recently.   But in Minnesota, I do expect snow in the winter.  And when the sun came out, it was beautiful. 

But I also like escaping the cold and snow.  And I don’t always have to take a cruise to do that. 

Last week, I took my granddaughter to the Conservatory to get a little reprieve from the cold.  I take care of Princess Fluffy Top, my granddaughter, most Fridays.  You can see her exploits on Fluffy Top Friday on my Facebook page—Nan Dixon Writer.



The first room we walked into was the fern room.  Thousands of ferns, small to huge filled the space.  They had an orchid show going on and of courser I thought about Bess, the heroine of A SAVANNAH CHRISTMAS WISH.  She collects orchids. 







Then we headed to the sunken gardens.  The bright colors were such a relief from the drab grays and whites of winter.


In the main dome, there were palms, fig trees, cinnamon and nutmeg trees.  And fish.  The koi used to be in the sunken garden, but too many kids climbed into the water to pet the fish.  Now they were in a pond that had a little higher wall and we were lucky enough to be there when they were feed. 


It was such a lovely break from winter, I vowed to go back more often.

What do you do when you need a break from the weather and can’t get away?


Wednesday, February 3, 2016

The New Jersey Ice Cats are Back!

One of the problems with being a slow writer, is that there is often a long gap between books. Luckily you all are very patient with me and very kindly wait for the next book in the series to release. This year, I tried to tide you over with some Ice Cats' short stories, featuring some of the secondary characters on the team, which I offered for free in the For Readers section of my website. Thank you for all the lovely feedback on those stories. And yes, for those of you who missed out, I do plan to release them all in an anthology - hopefully, later in the spring.

Anyway, I'm pleased to say that the wait is over, and my boys of the ice are back!

Catch up with the New Jersey Ice Cats in A Perfect Compromise.

This time, it's the turn of reader favourite (and one of mine, but don't tell him!) Jean Baptiste Larocque. When JB skated onto the page in A Perfect Distraction, he also landed himself in big trouble that almost got him kicked off the team. Luckily, as you know, Jake 'Bad Boy' Badoletti saved JB's bacon. I hadn't planned to give JB his own story, but he kept demanding one - as did my editor - and so did you! The tricky part was waiting for him to grow up enough to earn his happy ever after. And, of course, for the right woman to come along.

The last thing schoolteacher, Isabelle 'Issy' Brandine, wanted was to be JB's woman. Sure he's hot, hot, hot, but he was only meant to be a holiday fling. She has her life planned out and her stable, secure future doesn't include a playboy hockey star. Until a surprise pregnancy changes everything!

Can there possibly be a compromise between Miss. Uber-Sensible and Mr. I Hate Responsibility?

I had such fun rocking both JB's and Issy's worlds. There is nothing like a surprise pregnancy -- and a baby -- to shake things up. I hope you'll enjoy reading their story and seeing how they handle the challenges that face them.

To celebrate the release of A Perfect Compromise, I'm giving away TWO prizes! One is a signed copy of A Perfect Compromise and the other is a set of signed, limited edition print versions of the Ice Cats' short stories. To be in with a chance to win, comment below and tell me about your favourite sporting hottie.

Don't forget that you can always find out what I'm up to on my website or by signing up for my newsletter. You can also find me on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

What The Future Brings (Tara Taylor Quinn)

Starting in just a couple of weeks, I begin the longest promotional tour of my 22 year career.  Because this year, I have more new releases than any other year of my career.  I love Harlequin books.  I've been addicted to the hope and happy ending (which I know to be real and true and the substance of life) since I was fourteen years old.  Now that my daughter is raised and married, I can devote my entire day to putting that hope and happiness out into the world.  Which means a lot more books for you!

It starts in March with
This is book seven in my Where Secrets Are Safe series.  The series revolves around a unique women's shelter I created off the coast of California.  The books are interrelated only by that shelter.  the stories don't connect.  Each book is a stand a lone.  Some are straight romances.  Some are suspense.  Love By Association has been categorized as a police procedural!  She's a cop posing as a socialite to save a life.  Click to Pre-Order! For A Chance to Win A Kindle Fire!

Next up, in May, is
Book eight in Where Secrets Are Safe.  A completely different kind of story.  This is a love story through and through.  And yet, as with all of my books, no matter what genre, it's filled with psychologically deep angst.  It also has twin sisters who made it big in Hollywood.  And a little boy who knows more than he says.  And lives with far more fear than any little guy should.  Click to Pre-Order! For A Chance to Win A Kindle Fire!

Next, in June is
A re-issue with Heather Graham.  By book is Sheltered In His Arms - my very first single title novel.  It's a spin off from my on going Superromance Shelter Valley series.  Click to Pre-Order! For A Chance to Win A Kindle Fire!

Then, in July:  The Promise He Made Her.  Book Nine in Where Secrets Are Safe.  This is a woman in jeopardy story.  Heavy suspense.  No cover yet!  But you can Click to Pre-Order! For A Chance to Win A Kindle Fire!

And in August: For Love Or Money.  The first book in my new Heartwarming series, Family Secrets.  No Cover here yet, either!  And, you can't click to pre-order yet, either.

But are you sensing a theme here?  For the entire six months - March 1 - August 31 - any time you purchase or pre-order a ttq book, save your receipt!  You'll be able to submit them all for a chance to win a Kindle Fire pre-loaded with previous ttq books.

And starting March 1 - just for following along with me on this crazy journey you can enter to win Harlequin rewards points good for any Harlequin/MIRA/HQN/Carina Press books of your choice! 
First Prize: 25,000 points = Five Free Books
Second Prize: 15,000 points = Three Free Books
Third Prize 10,000 points = Two Free Books
You can enter as many times as you like.  New opportunities at every cyber tour stop over six months.  All links will be available at Tara Taylor Quinn.com throughout the tour.

And to keep things fun, there will be random gifts and free books offered at various stops throughout the tour.  Just visit the sites to enter to win all along the way.

And now, I have a book to write.  It's due in just a couple of weeks.  And will be available to you yet this year, too - slated for October, 2016.  It doesn't have a name.  Or a cover.  It's the second book in Family Secrets and so far I love these people!

P.S.  There will be more Where Secrets Are Safe books, too.  10, 11, and 12 are contracted for 2017!



Monday, February 1, 2016

February 2016 Releases!

All I Am   (A Farmer's Market Story)
Nicole Helm

Everything she is. Everything he's not… 

Recovering from his time in Afghanistan, Wes Stone prefers the company of his dogs and himself. People, especially of the female variety, are…difficult. He appreciates that Cara Pruitt doesn't treat him like an invalid, but hiring the party girl of New Benton to help out with his dog treat business is probably a mistake. 

When her brightness and unexpected vulnerability somehow slip through his defenses, suddenly something terrifying is ignited inside him. Something thrilling. Something that could make Wes whole again…or consume him completely.
 

Strength Under Fire (True Blue)
Dana Nussio


From hero to zero 

One day lieutenant Ben Peterson's single-handedly stopping a bank robbery and the next he's being accused of tampering with evidence. Ben needs to clear his name, fast! His only ally is straight-shooting rookie Delia Morgan. 

Involving Delia is the last thing Ben wants. But he needs her help to figure out who's setting him up. As their investigation intensifies, so does the temptation, and they open up to each other in ways neither expected. However, when it becomes clear that Delia still doesn't trust Ben completely, it puts more than just their careers in jeopardy…
  


A Perfect Compromise (The New Jersey Ice Cats)
Anna Sugden

Theirs is a game of give-and-take… 

Schoolteacher Issy Brandine has a plan to build a stable, secure future for herself. No settling for second-best. Anything more than a sultry Caribbean fling with hotshot hockey star Jean Baptiste Larocque isn't part of the plan. A New Jersey Ice Cat with the ultimate hockey trophy in his sights won't fit into her low-key lifestyle. Except a surprise pregnancy changes everything. 

Issy knows her child deserves more than a part-time dad. With JB's eyes on the championship that will redeem his career, compromise is out of the question. But love—and the baby between them—might prove that nothing is impossible.

Kayla's Cowboy (Montana Skies)
Callie Endicott 


It's never too late…right? 

Kayla Anderson is never going back to Montana. At least, that was the plan. But when her teenage son runs away to meet his great-grandparents, she ends up back in Schuyler…face-to-face with her high school sweetheart, rancher Jackson McGregor. 
 
It's complicated doesn't quite cover it, especially since Alex happens to be Jackson's son, too. Alex and his dad couldn't be more different, but Jackson will do anything to connect with his boy. And suddenly old wounds pale beside the possibility of a second chance under the wide Montana sky…

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

This Superromance box set includes:

A PERFECT COMPROMISE
 
The New Jersey Ice Cats
by Anna Sugden

ALL I AM  

A Farmers' Market Story
by Nicole Helm

KAYLA'S COWBOY 

 Montana Skies
by Callie Endicott

STRENGTH UNDER FIRE
True Blue
by Dana Nussio

Enjoy more story and more romance from Harlequin® Superromance with 4 new novels every month!

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


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...