Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Hoping I never run out of stories...By Rachel Brimble

Running out of stories has to be every novelist's nightmare and as I plan my twenty-first and second, I had this feeling overwhelm me which pretty much led to my paralysis for a few days. The fear well and truly gripped me until I started to doubt every previous book I'd written, my ability as a writer, whether all those fabulous readers who gave me four and five star reviews over the years were just being nice...the negative thoughts whirled around and around in mind, making any creativity impossible.

Thankfully, the paralysis didn't last long. Why? Because I am a writer with a problem, an addictive problem. When I started writing it was because it was something I wanted to do, to see if I could do it, if I could actually finish a novel. That was back in 2005. The Wild Rose Press published my first book, Searching For Sophie, in 2007.

After that? Bam! I was addicted and now I write because I HAVE to - it's literally my drug of choice.

I am just preparing to send my editor my eighth book with Harlequin Superromance and the eight instalment of my ongoing Templeton Cove series. I think my paralysis came because I couldn't think of another story to set in my fictional UK seaside town and that scared the life out of me!

So, what started me plotting again? What started the adrenaline pumping and my fingers tapping away at the keyboard? I started to think of a new series, a new town, new characters and situations and, what do you know, I've written full outlines for not one, but two books.

Now, I've just got to hope and pray my editor likes my new ideas - watch this space!

Why do I tell you this story? Because I know how many readers longed to be writers but are too afraid to get started. Do it today! That fear, that apprehension is always there, no matter how many books you might write so you may as well get started - the journey is worth it. Promise!

Rachel x
Author of the Templeton Cove Stories & more...

Monday, March 27, 2017

Romance All Around Us

One of the things I love the most about Superromance books is that the characters seem like real people. The heroes and heroines aren’t perfect. They have flaws and troubles and messy families and challenging relationships. They are trying to figure out how to raise kids or run a business or get promoted. Just like the rest of us.

So how is this romantic?  Romance novels are supposed to be an escape.  As readers, do we really want to read about everyday problems?  I would say yes, as long as those problems are elevated by romance.

Because romance lifts us up. And the great Superromance novels I’ve read show everyday people, with their everyday lives made better by romance. Little bits of romance that light us up with glimpses of what might be. And as the stories go on, they remind us that passion, romance and love are possible amongst the challenges and responsibilities of life.  Even our own lives. Because  Superromance novels find the beauty and romance all around us.

We all have frustrating days and challenging times.  And we all know that stress is bad for us.  It's important to escape from it, and since we can’t walk around all day with our nose buried in a romance novel, we have to find a different kind of escape. So on stressful days, I take a cue from Superromance novels and look for the small bits of romance that surround us.  Pieces of beauty like the morning light on the clouds. A sunset. A bird.  Whatever it is, look, and notice. Take a deep breath.  Let the beauty tug at your heart and soothe your stress.

As little son would say, with a sigh in his cute voice, when he teases me about what I love to write and read. “Ah…. Romance.”

On my blog, aptly called Romance All Around Us, I post about the bits of romance I find in my life. It could be something simple like a flower growing unexpectedly.  

Or it might be a project to bring a romantic aesthetic into my own home. An old piece of furniture restored.  A collection of seashells rearranged on the mantle.   

My latest pursuit of beauty and romance is a lawn that I am trying to turn into a meadow of wildflowers.  We'll see if the bugs and birds let the seeds grow!

On Instagram I try to share the little pieces of beauty that I see.  One day it was the way these berries looked on a white plate.

On another day, I came across these weeds in bloom in my neighborhood.

 So I challenge you to look around today. Try to find something pretty, something romantic, something that makes you happy.  And most importantly, allow yourself a moment to really enjoy it.  To let the beauty sink in.  And if you can’t get out and about to see the beauty, perhaps you can create some in your own home. Or on your desk at work.  Because we all deserve romance all around us!

If you'd like a glimpse of some of the beauty and romance I discover as I go about my days, please visit my blog or follow me on Instagram.  And thanks for stopping by the SuperAuthors Blog today!

Friday, March 24, 2017

The Baby Steps Between "Om" & "Aw"

Amber Leigh Williams

Summer 2010
I stood in the check-out line at Academy Sports + Outdoors wondering why. Why must I buy this? I hadn’t gone into the store to buy the cylindrical item tucked under my left arm giving off the faint whiff of fresh thyme to passersby. In fact, I’d been coerced to walk from one side of the mall to the other by my much more fitness-minded hubby so that he could upgrade his weight bench. Serves me right, I guess, for making him spend an hour-and-a-half tucked between the intimate stacks of Barnes & Noble. Truthfully, I blamed him. He’s good at many things. One is the art of the impulse buy. Another is offering the delicious/devilish temptation to nudge agonized individuals such as myself into making an impulse buy. “This is ridiculous,” I kept saying. “I won’t use it.” He stood behind me with his barbell and his 25's. “Yes,” he murmured with a slight hiss that made me think of the Snake. You know the one; the one we sometimes blame for mankind’s misfortunes. “Yes, you will.” I didn’t have to turn to see the man’s certified understanding. Sometimes he knows things. Or maybe he just knows me.
The next day, I unlatched my impulse item and rolled its contents out in the middle of the bedroom floor. The yoga mat was the Kelly green of Irish hills (my favorite color). The room smelled instantly like the inside of an herb garden. The trusty yoga book I’ve had since I was sixteen stood at the ready, flipped to its beginner pages. It’d been a while since I had done this. A very long while. But the man was right, I reminded myself. I needed it.
This was the year my anxiety levels had skyrocketed. The medication my long-time physician had prescribed had only made things worse. I was having multiple panic attacks on an exhausting everyday basis and I was done - drained mentally and physically. The hubby seemed to think that exercise was my best recourse. You don’t have to have a thyroid disorder like me to know how unmotivated one can be when confronted with the prospect of voluntary sweat. So instead of running, Pilates and every other form of cardio, I chose to compromise with an old fallback – yoga.

My grandparents in front of their "Paradise" lakehouse
Yoga was a comfort to me long before my high school health teacher encouraged me to give it a go. How vividly I remember summer and winter weeks spent with my paternal grandparents. My sister and I became quickly acquainted with after-lunch quiet time. We were given the choice between reading and napping during this half-hour period while talk and play were discouraged – and, to my sister’s horror, absolutely NO television. While she tried to find the quietest way of bending the rules, I sought the pages of my books and hoped silently that she would get herself into trouble. More vividly, I remember the sound of the metronome tick-ticking from the next room where at any given point I could raise my head and see my grandparents engaged in an impressive sequence of advanced yoga poses. I remember the low sound of one of their voices as they read cross-legged from a well-worn, leather-bound yoga tome and the deep inhales and exhales that proceeded with each flowing movement. As I advanced into my early teens, I frowned over their daily regimen. It should’ve been ridiculous – my beloved Pitty Pat and Gramps stretching, twisting, contorting into the odd shapes the book told them to. Frog, Cobra, Tree – what would be my son’s personal favorite, Happy Baby. But it wasn’t ridiculous. They looked natural and at ease. After, they seemed more contented. Centered. Some days, verklempt. Once, they did give my sister and me a shock, however, when we tiptoed into the kitchen of their winter Gulf-facing condo to grab a stealthy snack and were confronted with both of them doing head-stands in front of the wide glass balcony doors, the turbulent blue vista beyond them. In truth, the shock quickly faded into admiration. My sister and I spent the rest of the afternoon trying to duplicate their rock-steady mien. Talk about balance and core strength!

The yoga did calm me down between 2010-2011. In fact, it wasn't long before the hubby's "You're going to be okay"'s morphed into a smiling "You're okay." I prided myself on talking myself down with a daily dose of om. It’s leagues better to heavily meditate than to heavily medicate. I might even sometimes point to yoga/meditation as the culprit for my first pregnancy, which fell within a year of my Kelly green purchase. In my third trimester, when my blood pressure began to increase, I turned to prenatal yoga. It worked beautifully until Week 39 when my son entered the world. Shortly before his fourth birthday last year, he started preschool at home. I noticed his tendency to learn better from movement. We introduced kiddie yoga to our repertoire. Within a few days, he had mastered Tree Pose (not easy for those who squirm). We spent an exciting week warming up for lessons with dinosaur-themed yoga. And my not-yet two-year-old can do an impressive Downward-Facing Dog - barking, of course.

Yoga Baby #1 and I call this one Heart Pose <3
That trusty yoga book is still on my shelf but I’ve since moved on to power yoga. It gives me an energy boost in the morning and the added challenge of two kiddies using my Warrior, Pyramid, Plank and Wheel as their living Limbo sticks. (“How low can you go, mama?”) I prided myself recently on getting the hubby excited about starting Bedtime Yoga to help soothe his troubled sleep cycles. I could tell you I do it for the flexibility and the balance of both body and mind. Truthfully, I do it to reacquaint myself with the quiet inside my head. You don’t have to preschool two youngsters or wrestle bouts of Generalized Anxiety Disorder to need a little more om in the space between your ears. And thanks to yoga, I'm a better human. I'm a more present wife and mother. I'm more courageous and strong. It might even make me a better writer! (Added bonus the day I can finally Chin-Stand or Peacock like a rock star.) Namaste, Super readers!

Thursday, March 16, 2017

The surprising things we say

By Senior Editor Victoria Curran

I once told my neighbor to leave me alone. I wasn’t joking and I blurted it out with a lot of emotion and I barely knew the woman. She turned and went into her house and shut the door. Surprise: we haven’t really been close since. It was about six years ago and even if I lose my memory to dementia I’ll never forget that, as an adult, I once said “Leave me alone” over the fence to another adult! Who does that?

I walked back into my house in shock. Did I really just say that using my outside voice? Why did I say that? In my life, I am the hero not the villain, so how can I salvage sympathy after saying such a hurtful thing?

Of course, I knew why I was talking to her in the first place and why I had a lot of emotions churning in me. I’d moved in a year earlier—my first house, bought with my own stash and a hefty mortgage—and within a month, she’d erected one of those splash pools against our property fence with the motor sitting on a plastic pail, grinding away 24/7. My house didn’t have air-conditioning so I had to open the windows and live with a deep bass thrumming through my body all that first summer. I tried to come up with solutions (heroic and villainous): donation of two cinder blocks to replace the plastic pail, suggestion that she didn’t need to run the motor at night when the sun wasn’t creating algae (that’s when she first started to sense we weren’t kindred spirits, I think), looking up municipal bylaws to see that I was right: you can’t erect a pool against a property line, it needs to be four feet away…should I call the police (?!) (for the record: I didn’t), spending my new homeowner fast-dwindling cash to convert my house to central air....

For months, I agonized over this pool motor and couldn’t let it go.

Until the next summer when my neighbor started pulling out equipment and assembling in the exact same spot. I snapped and raced over to the privacy fence to quickly suggest that she run a longer line and situate the motor to the back of the property where it wouldn’t be against our fence…knowing that she now hated me and the only time I ever spoke to her was to complain. I was incredibly nervous but also desperate to make my summer bearable before the pool was in place. I was highly motivated and my obstacle was myself: I hate confrontation and somehow I couldn’t communicate with this person without being inflammatory.

As I opened my mouth and began to stutter out my convoluted request, I saw over the top of the fence that it wasn’t a pool she was erecting, it was a trampoline. I stopped stuttering mid-sentence, and said quite brilliantly, “Oh, you’re not putting up a pool. You’re putting up a trampoline.” At this point, my neighbor, who hadn’t said a word, wasn’t looking at me (couldn’t look at me?). And that’s when I said the infamous, “Leave me alone” and she turned and went into her house and shut the door and I staggered away in shock.

I told my colleagues this story right after it happened and one of them made sense of it for me. Apparently “leave me alone” was my go-to catchphrase at that time. Once it was pointed out to me, I heard myself say “leave me alone” at least once a week. “Leave me alone” in Victoria Speak translated into “Oh, sorry, never mind. I was wrong” in Normal Person Speak. I often said it in meetings! Who knew? (I hope I’ve grown out of this phrase.)

I never had a chance to redeem myself to my neighbor, to translate “leave me alone” for her. We never developed that “hail fellow, well met” relationship that men on the street do so well. Last week she put the house up for sale and it sold in two days (for $110,000 over asking, of course, because this is Ontario and what is going with real estate???), so that’s the end of my journey of villainy. Cross fingers.

Why am I telling you this? Because I’ve been reading incredibly well-written romances with the most fleshed-out dialogue that distinguishes character from character within the same stories, which is a masterful technique. And I’m also reading romances where characters have rich inner dialogues but say lovely, sweet things in their outside voices…possibly because their creators are worried about their likeability and are worried about losing reader sympathy. It’s powerful stuff: that struggle between wanting something and the needs that drive us to take actions that risk losing that thing we want.

Kudos to the Harlequin Superromance authors for bringing this struggle to the page. For motivating their characters to that breaking point and letting ‘er rip! However, unlike me, I wish all of your characters redemption by the end of their journey.

Victoria, heroine

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Question of the Month: SuperAuthor Drinks

The Superromance Authors have a bit of spring fever (or maybe deadline fever, we aren't sure which) and are feeling particularly silly. This month's question, is definitely a silly one (but we hope you'll also find it delicious!), here we go:

If you could name a drink after yourself, what would it be called (bonus answer: what would it be made of)?

Kris Fletcher: This one is a challenge, because I really don't drink much, but I guess that if I could name a drink for me, it would be called the a Laughing Maple. The ingredients would include maple syrup, Newfoundland Screech, and sparkling apple cider. Slightly sweet, kind of strong, and definitely bubbly - my kind of drink!

Amber Leigh Williams: Banana Pepper Rita - I'm copying the ingredients of your basic Agave Ginger-Rita. With its mix of simple ginger root syrup (for spice), lime juice (for a dash of sweetness), tequila (cheap for frugality's sake), an egg white (for substance) and salt (because who isn't a little salty?), it reminds me of the saying - "I'm spicy like a pepper but sweet like a banana!" Add a banana pepper for an amuse-bouche and salt the rim!

Kristina Knight: I have about two drinks a year, and neither is adventurous, so I'd create a non-alcoholic sort of a drink. Something with a little mint and cocoa (not much of a coffee drinker, either, I know, shocker!), and iced. Definitely iced. I found this recipe for Hot Cocoa Affogato this winter...and I think it should be renamed Kristina's Cocoa Delight because it's right up my alley!

Nan Dixon: I'm all about Prosecco and it mixed with--everything. So Nan's Spicy Sparkler would be -- Ginger Simple Syrup, Prosecco and maybe a dash of pomegranate syrup for color.

Jo McNally: This is a tough one! I'll go with Jo's Sparkly Irish Martini - edge the glass with sparkly gold sugar (because I'm all about the bling!). Fill halfway with champagne (because I have champagne taste), and top with Guinness (my beer of choice). Don't mix - the two liquids stay in separate layers (like my multi-layered life) until you drink. This is a twist on a yummy drink called an Irish Black Velvet. Perfect for St. Patrick's Day, which is a major holiday in the McNally household!

Jeannie Watt: Take a lot of money to the liquor store and buy the best single malt scotch you can afford. Go home and pour 1.5 ounces into your best glass. Add one drop of water to open it up. Sit back, sip and enjoy life. I call It Jeannie's Sanity Saver.

Claire McEwen: I'll be hanging out drinking with Jeannie...  because I LOVE a great single malt!
But, I also make a drink that I'll call a Clairita.  Mix tequila, limeade or lemonade, and soda water.  Add some sprigs of fresh mint.  It's so refreshing and yummy!

Anna Sugden: Great question! Hmm Should it be something related to shoes, or penguins, or hockey? Given my series, it should probably be A Perfect something … and definitely served on ice! Let’s go with A Perfect Fizz. Since Nan’s taken all the Prosecco (and she’s too far away for fight for it LOL), I’ll make it with Mio Sparkling Sake, a splash of apple juice, a dash of pomegranate juice and a slice of lime.

Heatherly Bell: This is easy, since I just did something similar on my page. I'd be made out of cream, pineapple and rum. Blend together with ice, serve with fresh chunks of fruit, and call me a Pineapple Bell.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Heroines Battle Dark Forces...and Thick Thighs - Dana Nussio

I got you with that headline, didn't I? I was sitting here trying to come up with an interesting blog topic, and great heroines came to mind. What makes us a love - or hate - a heroine in fiction? What makes a Scarlett O'Hara or Josephine March - or a Katniss Everdeen for that matter? And what makes us care about them?

Sure, great heroines are stronger, often wiser and just better than the rest of us. They are heroines, after all.  But I believe their flaws, their insecurities, their mistakes are the things that help us to relate to them. Those details show us that beneath their superhero capes, they're just like us. They worry that others are laughing behind their backs. They're unsatisfied with the face that looks back at them in the mirror or the thighs that rub together beneath their skirts, even if someone out there will find them perfect just the way they are.

Let's start with my three examples: Scarlett from Gone With the Wind, Jo from Little Women and Katniss from The Hunger Games. Though all three are strong women, who fight their own battles - one for her home and way of life, another against the limitations placed on women of her day and the the last, for her very life in a cruel game - we can relate to those parts of them that make them human. Scarlett's pettiness. Jo's hot temper. Katniss's lack of sensitivity and reluctance to lead.

In my March Superromance, Falling For the Cop, some of my favorite things about my heroine, Natalie Keaton, are her insecurities and her flaws. The biracial daughter of a single mother, Natalie is uncomfortable with secrets involving her heritage as well as with her body. She is convinced she is too tall and gangly, instead of thinking of herself as willowy, the way her hero will see her. She is closed off and unforgiving and quick to blame all police officers for the mistakes of a few in that high-speed chase that changed her family forever. In other words, she's as complicated and imperfect as the rest of us. Only she gets to meet Trooper Shane Warner. Lucky Natalie!

Yes, besides being some of things I most enjoy writing in my own characters, I believe that character weaknesses and insecurities help us to connect to the protagonists in the stories we love. Their journeys move us, change us. Their attempts to overcome these frailties signal to us that we, too, might vanquish some of our own. That they might convince us that we can escape from a burning Atlanta or lead a rebellion against an oppressive government as well? Those are just bonuses.

So here's the challenge: Name some of your favorite heroines, and share why you feel you relate to them. 

Monday, March 13, 2017

A Contest Winner...

A contest winner from February!

Those who know me best will be the first to tell you that sometimes I get a little distracted.  And that's exactly what happened with my February blog post!

I'm so sorry folks, but I forgot to pick the winner of these cute greeting cards!

So I just did a drawing, and, drumroll please....

It's Denise!  Also known as dstoutholcomb.

Denise, please contact me at cmcewen.writer@gmail.com and I'll get the cards in the mail to you!

And thank you to everyone who commented that day!
~ Claire

Friday, March 10, 2017

On Messy Desks, Not Empty Minds

Kristina's reading material
by Kristina Knight

Albert Einstein once said, "If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, of what, then, is an empty desk a sign?" I like that quote. Probably because my desk if forever in a state of chaos, at least according to RadioMan. To me, my desk is home. it's filled with things that make me happy, in addition to the things that I need to work on.

However, sometimes, I realize I need to clean it up a bit. This week was one of those clean up moments. Probably because I have a book due. ahem. My editor can ignore that sentence, it wasn't because of a deadline it was. . .some.other.reason.

Anywho. Here are a few things that I found on my desk that are making me happy lately.

The first is this stack of books. Why are they making me happy? Well, because they were all really interesting books - all were part of my reading list for the RWA Rita contest...and a couple are now one-click authors.

It's the Year in a Jar
Then, there is our Year in a Jar. My family whined interminably about this project immediately jumped on board with this project last year. When something fun (like a vacation) or cool (like a new book contract) or exciting (like bebe's swim championships) happens, we write down the event on a piece of paper and put it in the jar. On New Year's Eve, we'll open the jar and read all about our year. I've seen some Year in a Jar projects that are filled with calligraphy and mementos. We use ticket stubs and scratch paper and usually abbreviations and really messy handwriting...but it works for us!

These bookends are new(ish). I bought them late last year because, owls. Yes, that's also a spool of thread and a
needle, I had to perform surgery on a beanie baby a couple of weeks ago. At some point, the thread will go back where it belongs, it's just that I have a feeling more surgery is going to be needed. Soon(ish). I keep print copies of my books here, because it's a nice reminder of where I've been...and of where I want to go next.

And I haven't found a single thing that needs to be tossed.
Although, I should probably put those books on the actual bookshelf instead of the corner of my desk. But, look, it's not all that messy...I mean, there's a whole foot or so of un-cluttered space to my right. Although my lapdesk could probably be put away. And so could my tablet sleeve. And, as I'm typing this, I realize I have about seven post-its and to-do lists to my left that aren't relevant any more. Okay, the old post-its and the to-do lists can go...but the rest of the clutter stays! I mean, Einstein was a smart dude...I don't want an empty mind, so I can't have an empty desk. Right?

So, spill, is your desk messy? Perfect organized? Somewhere in between?

Kristina Knight's release, Protecting the Quarterback, is available now from Harlequin Superromance: 

This is more than just a game … to her

Sports broadcaster Brooks Smith has always been more involved with the game than the players. But after she shares the spotlight at an awards ceremony with tabloid sensation Jonas Nash, one night of letting her guard down around the infamous quarterback spirals into many heated days and nights together when she gets assigned to the story of the year…

The hottest player in professional football is hiding a secret that could end his career for good. Now Brooks is caught on the sidelines between the job she loves and the man she is falling in love with.

Amazon  B&N  KOBO  iBooks  Harlequin

You can find out more the book and Kristina on her website, and feel free to stalk follow her on FacebookTwitter or Instagram

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Small Town Must Haves

Book 5 in Heartache, TN series
Available now!
This month, I get to share another story set in Heartache, Tennessee with readers and I realized this week how excited I am—not just for readers to read Wishes at First Light, but for readers to visit this place. You’d think I was the local chamber of commerce for my fictional town the way I can list all the best spots to go. But it brings to mind a really important function of fiction in my opinion, which is to provide a total escape.

Sometimes critics of our genre make “escapist” fiction sound like a bad thing, implying that romance gives a false sense of reality. That, my friends, is totally missing the point. We read fiction to take some kind of adventure, to travel somewhere else and get absorbed in a character’s life. It’s vitally important for a good fictional experience to give the reader that convincing alternate reality, because if the reader isn’t walking through a different world, the book is going to be a disappointment. Authors owe it to their readers to transport them. To deliver a vibrantly drawn sense of place that they can visualize an experience with all five senses.

So I take this responsibility seriously. I enjoy it thoroughly when other authors create that authentic experience for me that makes me think—temporarily—that I’m walking through medieval London, waltzing in a glittering but overcrowded Regency ballroom or sitting beside a cold creek in a small Tennessee town.  That’s why I invest time and care in crafting a setting, a labor of love that I hope comes across in Heartache.

Possibly, it reveals a little bit about me that I have created a place that I’d gladly live in. It’s got
country, rural charm, but reasonable access to a bigger city (Nashville). There are football games Friday nights under the lights, as well as the occasional bonfire afterward. There’s a town square with access to the baseball fields, so young moms can push their little ones on the swings while keeping an eye on what their third grader does when they get up to bat in a pee wee game.

There’s good barbecue. The rib joint is hopping, and spills to outdoor seating on summer nights, where local bands can play to an outdoor dance floor. There’s good coffee, thanks to my transplanted cupcake baker from New York City who brought a talent for espresso with her. Good fishing abounds, and I can tell you where the tackle shop is, even if the woman who owns it is going through some tough times right now. And if you’d like a nice girls lunch out, there’s a new restaurant in town just for that.

Giveaway: Book 1 in Heartache TN
Tricia at The Strand is a whiz with color, by the way, so if you need a touch up on your fair, have no fear. You can still look like a million bucks even if you live on the farm. On the way home, I can tell you where the best farmstand is so you can pick up some peaches or apples… Tennessee is lucky to have both, depending on the season. If I were you, I’d visit during the autumn because Heartache’s Harvest Fest is the best. The mayor is cute too, but he’s taken.

So… there you have it. The hometown I want to have, filled with people I like even if I’ve put them through a whole lot of hard times! I hope you’ll visit soon.

***Football, barbecue, good fruit and fall fest... guess you can see what I like in my small towns! What about you? What's your favorite shop that you can't do without? Local business you love? Share with me today on the boards and I'll give one random poster a digital download of Promises Under the Peach Tree, book 1 in my Heartache TN series! 

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Her Secret Life (Tara Taylor Quinn)

I am a victim of domestic violence. I didn’t have a husband who hit me. He hurt me in other, more insidious ways. He attacked my capabilities. My self-worth. His physical abuse was more personal than backhanding.
An act of fate, a car accident, helped me see the truth – that my marriage was seriously injured – and escape. And for the next thirty years, I told no one. No one. I didn’t think there’d been any real abuse. I felt the failure clear to my soul. And I blamed myself for choosing to marry him.

The secret I kept shaped my entire life. It affected loved ones who knew nothing about what had happened. In some ways, it still affects them. I am accountable to that. Since I found the courage to speak about what happened, I’ve done everything I can to eradicate the negative effects the abuse brought. And made it a life’s mission to reach others, like me, who don’t know their own value, who don’t know they have something to say. Or those who are just plain frightened to speak up.

Where Secrets Are Safe, my current series with Superromance, is fiction. It’s entertainment. It’s larger than life. And yet…it’s also a voice. And a lesson plan. It revolves around a resort like women’s shelter set off the coast of California. The Lemonade Stand – Where Secrets Are Safe. The Stand is fiction. The characters and stories are pure ‘Hollywood.’ Many of the avenues for help and change are not. The laws are not. The love that heals, that gives hope for a future that includes real happiness, pure joy, is not.

This month sees the release of book 10 in this series.(Click Here For A Complete List.) 
Click to Purchase
Her Secret Life is truly Hollywood! Kacey is a soap opera star, a beauty, who is truly living her dream. And finding herself empty, too, except when she's with her secret friend - a fellow volunteer at The Lemonade Stand - scarred and reclusive, Michael Valentine. Kacey's good luck changes when someone starts to stalk her, and it's then that she finds out what luck and dreams are really all about.

I met with – hosted in our home – the woman who founded the very first women’s shelter in the United States. I listened as she told about her thirty-year fight to change laws that would better protect the one in four women who are victims. And I stand with my sisters who victims, who are survivors, and those who are friends and loved ones of both. Escape with me to The Lemonade Stand. Your secrets are safe here.

Over the next nine months I'm hosting a drive to help our sisters at home, on a local level, where every bra counts. Please Join Me.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

A Picture Worth a Thousand Plot Ideas

Kris Fletcher

About a dozen years ago, maybe more, my sister and some friends were planning a pre-Christmas shopping weekend in Erie, Pennsylvania, and invited me to join them. I'm not much for shopping but I wasn't about to turn down a weekend away, so I grabbed my friend Carol and off we went. While the others spent the days at the outlet malls, Carol and I holed up in our room and pounded out words. At night we joined up with the shoppers for dinner and fun. 

On our second afternoon, Carol and I needed a break, so we headed out of the hotel and wandered into a little gift shop next door. I don't remember the name or what else they sold, but one photograph caught my eye. I'm usually not a visual person, but something about this photo dug into me. It felt like the perfect metaphor for where I was in my writing career at that time: the door to publication was there, in sight, but still inaccessible. And yet, despite the vines and the branches, it was there. All I had to do was find the way to clear the path and I could open it. 

I bought it immediately and it has occupied a place of honor in my office ever since.

 When I was writing Picket Fence Surprise, I needed ways to pull my hero and heroine, Xander and Heather, together. He's helping her with a job search. One requirement of a job she's hoping to get is that she prepare sample tourism materials. As Xander helped her with layout and formatting, I wanted to include some a photo that he had taken. And since both Heather and Xander have pasts that can definitely be described as challenging, I knew this couldn't be a sunshine-and-flowers shot. 

Enter my photo. 

It worked perfectly. From the moment Heather saw it, she caught the same undercurrents that Xander felt when he took it. They each had waded through more than their share of brambles and barriers in their pasts. 

But now - perhaps - it was their turn to walk through the door. 

I've moved homes in the last year, and have a whole new office, but the picture still hangs just to my right, easily in my view with a quick turn of the head. There's always another door beckoning. Whenever I see the photo, I - just like Heather and Xander - am reminded that if I can just get through the brambles, I'll be able to walk straight through. 

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

March 2017 New Releases!

Picket Fence Surprise (Comeback Cove, Canada) Kris Fletcher 

They weren't expecting this… 

Heather Jacobs has a lot in common with Xander Sorenson: they've each got a great kid they adore, and neither of their paths to parenthood started out easy. So he's the perfect guy to help her with her plan to seek joint custody of her daughter. But the perfect guy for her? Not so much, especially when she's not convinced his reckless ways are behind him. Plus, he brings out a side of her that she'd rather keep in check. 

And then the impossible happens…

Joanne Rock 

Starting over, one wish at a time…

Gabriella Chance has devoted her life to helping others overcome traumatic events. Now it's her turn. Gabby's come home to Heartache, Tennessee, to finally face her past. She finds solace in an unlikely ally, her high school crush, Clayton Travers.

But while Clay wants to be Gabby's refuge, he's returned to Heartache to confront his own demons. With so many painful secrets in their past, can they hope to wish for a happy future…together?  


Dana Nussio

The first step is the hardest… 

Everything can change in an instant, police officer Shane Warner learns when he's shot in the line of duty. And his tough—pretty—physical therapist, Natalie Keaton, also knows it all too well. She wants to help Shane get better, but it's hard to see him as any different from the reckless cops who ruined her life. 

As they work to get him walking again, he's determined to change her opinion of him. If he can show her who he really is, his most important step will be the one that ends with Natalie in his arms.

Tara Taylor Quinn

It takes courage to choose love… 

Internet security expert Michael Valentine knows his place in Kacey Hamilton's life. The soap opera star lives in two worlds: glamorous Hollywood and small town Santa Raquel, where she volunteers with him at The Lemonade Stand women's shelter. The key to their friendship is maintaining boundaries. And after an accident years ago left him badly scarred, he won't expect anything more. 

But when threats against Kacey escalate, Michael will stop at nothing to protect her. Even if his investigation means confronting more than just her attacker as Kacey's interest in him starts to go deeper than friendship… 

 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:

Where Secrets are Safe
Tara Taylor Quinn

Comeback Cove, Canada 
Kris Fletcher
Heartache, TN
Joanne Rock

True Blue 
Dana Nussio 

Look for 4 compelling new stories every month from Harlequin® Superromance!

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