Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Found Time- Between the Holidays

by Joanne Rock

I love the week between Christmas and New Years. The hardcore holiday prep has passed, leaving me with a week of relative quiet to enjoy the family, the décor I worked hard on, the good leftovers and—did I mention?—the relative quiet!

Duchess and I are on the same page.
Ideally, I never plan much for this time of the year. I block it off as holiday time and try not to work much. Lucky me, I know. But I notice even friends with more traditional jobs are often able to take lighter schedules this week. And, failing that, there’s less “work” in that the baking, shopping, wrapping frenzy is over. I love Christmas and the hoopla that accompanies it, but the downtime afterward feels just right—sort of like a quiet scene in a book that follows that big action moment! Both are good, but one helps you catch your breath from the other.

Today, I have a list of minor errands but they can all wait. I have a few Christmas returns, a post office run to make, a prescription refill… nothing urgent. First, I’m enjoying getting back to a routine, something that always comforts me. I like the ease of mind that comes with routine because the repetition lets my mind wander. I don’t need to be terribly mindful fixing my go-to breakfast or doing the laundry, so I can think about my stories and characters in a way that doesn’t feel like work. Basically, I daydream, and that’s always fun for me.

A gift for one random poster
Beyond that, I’m going to have fun searching up new book releases and doing some reading. I have a hockey game to watch tonight (go Pens!) and my dinner is going to be something like Tostitos with cheese since I’ve eaten relentlessly for days and don’t need one more decadent meal. My feet are up and I will check out social media for the first time in days so I can enjoy photos of friends’ kids and grandkids that they snapped over the holidays. A day of perfect aimlessness.

Happy 2017 to you all, my friends. I hope it brings you blessings, happiness and much love.


So I’m curious what you’re up to this week. Reading? Playing with something new that was under the tree? Share with me today on the blog and I’ll send one random commenter a prize with SCANDALOUS MISTRESS, a sexy 3-in-1 of stories by Leslie Kelly, Kira Sinclair and me, plus a Desire 2-in-1 with reads from Kat Cantrell and me, and a bonus notebook for your New Year’s resolutions! 

Monday, December 26, 2016

Eve Gaddy: Pinterest Fun

Since it’s the day after Christmas I thought I’d talk about fun things. Pinterest is ridiculously addicting. I use it for my books and I use it because I like to pin all kinds of things. I try not to go there unless I’m looking for something specific for a book. Even then, I start looking and the next thing I know, it’s three hours later and I haven’t yet looked at whatever I went to Pinterest for in the first place.

Case in point, I went to Pinterest to see what kind of boards I have so I could write this blog. And there was a picture of Karl Urban on my home page. Of course, I had to pin it because, well, Karl Urban. I’m following a Karl Urban board that has 1.5K pictures of Karl Urban. No, I haven’t looked at all of them. Yet.

I have a board for each book. I usually keep it secret until the book is close to being finished. Besides hero and heroine inspiration, I pin their clothes, houses, and usually something to do with their work. Anything I might find useful for that book. Horses, dogs, ranches, barns, offices all have a place on my book boards. For one of my Whiskey River boards I pinned a pool table that is in the Kelly Brothers ranch house. This one gets re-pinned a lot. It really helps me to describe something if I have a picture to look at. Before Pinterest I cut them out of magazines, but Pinterest is easier and there’s so much to look at. 

I have boards named Cool Things, Cool Places, Funny stuff, Lions and Tigers and Dogs and . . . , Space, and Skies. And an Inspiration board--Did I mention Karl Urban? Aka Nick from Last Shot. And Joe Manganiello, who is definitely hero material. He’s inspiration for a future book with a hero named Gabe.

Karl Urban (Nick)

Joe Manganiello (Gabe)
Here’s, Dylan, the hero for my current book. 

And here’s his horse named Trouble.

Some pictures I pick because they’re so pretty. Like these

However, the pin of mine that’s been re-pinned the most often is this one. It’s from Katherine Garbera’s and my Whiskey River Texas Heirs board--

How about you? Do you use Pinterest? If you do, what kinds of things do you like to pin?

If you’d like to read more about my books you can go to my website or sign up for my newsletter and receive a free book!

Happy Holidays!

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Virginia Heath: Life Through a Lens...

The first time I went to Disney was 20 years ago. I will never forget the experience. My two kids were little and totally believed all the characters in those fancy suits were real. It was, as Disney so often promise, magical.
I especially remember the fireworks. All those twinkling patterns set to music, high above Cinderella’s castle. Next to me was a solitary man who watched the whole display through the viewfinder of his video camera, while his children stood next to him. At the time, I thought it was an odd thing to do. Here he was, surrounded by all this atmosphere, his three children filled with awe and wonder, missing the full experience as he recorded it for posterity. It struck me as a waste of a good memory.

Twenty years later, we visited Anaheim again and just had we had that first time, and on numerous visits to different Disneylands around the world since, we found a spot on Main Street and waited patiently for the fireworks. This time though, we were one of the few spectators in that sea of people not holding up our smartphones and watching the spectacle on the screens.
Back home in London a few weeks later, I was sat outside a café on the banks of the River Thames. To my right was the magnificent Tower Bridge. To my left, the wonderful Tower of London. A group of Japanese tourists walked by, and it struck me that they were all holding selfie sticks, viewing those amazing sights on the small screens of their phones rather than experiencing it in the flesh. Since then, I see this all the time. Every event seems to be so meticulously filmed that the people doing the filming are distanced from the great things happening in their own lives.

My point is this, it is Christmas Eve. A time for sharing all the joy of life with those you love. For the next few days, put down your phones people. Live in the moment. Enjoy it. Those memories will be revisited more often than all those hours and hours of video ever will.  

Happy Holidays!

Virginia Heath writes witty, fast-paced romances filled with feisty heroines and mouth-watering heroes she would want to fall in love with.

Friday, December 23, 2016

A Christmas Tasty Treat

One of my favorite things to do during the holidays is taste-test. I do little drive-bys of the cookie tin, at parties I like to sample everything so my plates look like something an international food fair might have...well, you get the picture. One of my favorite snacks is one I make all for me (because RadioMan thinks it's too sweet and bebe has this thing about puddings. Sometimes, I swear that child cannot be related to me. Anywho.)

We're in the nitty-gritty of the Christmas eating fest, and I thought I'd share the recipe - because every holiday gathering could use one more dessert, don't you think? Yeah, me, too. Here we go:

Kristina's Fairy Pudding Recipe. Now, here's what you need to know about it: it's sweet. Seriously. Sweet. So don't forget a glass of milk, and make sure your take little bits at a time. Don't fill up a whole bowl, you'll never be able to finish it.

What you need:

1 cup sugar
1 envelope Knox gelatin - plain
1 cup milk
2 egg whites
2 beaten egg yolks
1 cup whipping cream - the actual cream, not Cool Whip or the canned Readi-Whip stuff
2 cups Graham cracker crumbs - I like to use actual graham crackers and smush then in a ziploc with my rolling pin, hence the picture above

In a sauce pan over medium heat, cook the sugar, gelatin, milk and beaten egg yolks until it bubbles. Do not allow it to boil or the milk will scorch. Remove from heat and put into a mixing bowl, allowing it to cool. Once cooled, fold the beaten egg whites and whipping cream into the mix. Get over to your Ziploc-with-graham-crackers and rolling pin the heck out of 'em until only crumbs are left. Layer 3/4 of those crumbs in the bottom of a serving dish - I use a 9x11 Pyrex, but you could use pie plates or any pretty dish, really. Pour the pudding over the graham crackers and then sprinkle the remaining crumbs over the top. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours and serve!

Now, I gave you this warning above, but I'm not above repeating myself. This pudding is awesomely good, but it's also awesomely rich - small pieces are your friend. So is milk. Enjoy!

Do you have a favorite holiday treat? Share in the comments!

Kristina Knight's latest 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, December 22, 2016

Jennifer Gracen: Rebellions are built on hope

You might recognize that line by now. I saw Rogue One over its opening weekend, being the lifelong Star Wars fan that I am. And this already-sure-to-be-classic line stood out, especially with the political chaos going on in America. It’s been a rough year for all of us. That election beat the hell out of us as a nation. So yeah, that line really resonated with me.

And you know what? I’ll tell you a secret. It was hard to write after November 8th, with all that noise. It was hard to think about love stories—stories about light, romantic love, having faith in others—in the face of so much discord, vitriol, fear, and disappointment. For a few weeks, I was as down as many others were, and it affected my work. I didn’t much feel like writing (or doing much of anything, some days).

But recently, I saw that awesome movie, that inspiring line kept rolling through my mind over and over... and another thought bloomed and took hold: Know what else is built on hope? Love stories.

Romance novels are about many things, but you can’t have one without hope. At first, it’s the characters’ hope of finding something more in life, be it a new career, a second chance, a new home, or finding love. Then, once the hero and heroine have found each other and sparks ignite, they hope they’ll be able to make it work. And they hope that this connection is real, and mutual, and sustainable... and they hope that once they’ve started to head down that path, they won’t lose their way, or each other, or what they have together.

So if you think about it, yes, romance novels are all about love, but they’re also all about hope, aren’t they?

And that’s why writers need now, more than ever before, to keep writing them.

Love stories bring much needed hope and light into the dark places. People need assurances of happy endings now more than ever, and romance novels are one of the only things that can guarantee them that. Love stories bring people a much needed escape from reality for a little while, but they also empower readers as they make them feel better.

So yes, with that in mind, I’m happy to say I got back to writing. Because I’m going to do my tiny part to keep bringing hope to others, with words and love— both on the page, and in my life. Hope floats.

Jennifer Gracen

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Oh Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Wee by Jenny Gardiner

    I’m a sucker for the Christmas season. Always have been. Don’t know if it’s the deluded optimism the holiday thrusts upon us, or just a strange affinity for otherwise maudlin songs dressed up as cheerful seasonal chestnuts. I mean, let’s be honest, at any other time of year, who would actually listen wistfully to a yawner like “The Little Drummer Boy”?
    Whatever it is, I have always ensured that my family gets into the holiday spirit, starting with finding the perfect Christmas tree.
    When I was a kid, the search for the ultimate yuletide tree took us to the nearest gas station: hardly a romantic venue from which to choose the centerpiece of our holiday decor. We’d pile into the station wagon for the three-block drive to Buck’s Esso station, spill out onto the oil-slicked parking lot, mull over three or four already-netted spruce trees, and then dad would haggle down the price. End of story.
Ah, so I was determined to rewrite that tradition with my own family. Early in my marriage, we decided the most festive tree-acquisition could only be achieved by cutting down our own (plus you get the added benefit of the needles actually staying on the tree all month rather than littering the floor). Because we lived in citified Northern Virginia, the cachet of escaping to the “country”--i.e. the closest remaining patch of farmland untainted by greedy developers--only added to the allure.
    But one year, I found myself almost wishing for the chance to just pop down to the local gas station to buy a tree…
    That year, my husband and our three children, all under the age of four, trekked to the Clifton Christmas Tree Farm, where awaiting us were candy canes, hot chocolate, homemade wreaths and the typical abundance of forced holiday cheer that we craved.
    I had whipped my kids into a tree-chopping frenzy, and so they took their task quite seriously. For forty minutes, we foraged throughout the whopping half-acre “farm” until we found the perfect tree: seven feet of holiday splendor, as wide as it was tall, perfect to fill our cathedral-ceiling’ed living room and flood us with the Christmas spirit.
    The kids took turns on the ground with the saw while my husband supervised the chopping honors. Their excitement was palpable. We dragged the tree back to the cashier stand where the farmer’s son coiled the netting around our white pine. The kids stood by, sucking on candy canes, sipping hot cider and petting the farmer’s dog, who’d recently wandered over. I was just about to retrieve the car to load on the tree, when Fido lifted his leg.
    “Noooooo!” I shouted in what seemed like a frame-by-frame slow motion, as a steady stream was released onto our perfect tree.
    For a moment we stood stupefied, not knowing what to do. But we weren’t about to keep a tree covered in dog wee, so we grabbed the kids’ hands to head back into the wilds to hunt for a replacement one.
    Until our kids let us know in no uncertain terms, that this tree was the one, the only. They threw themselves on the ground, flailing and crying, thrashing and moaning, like something from a Greek tragedy. They wanted their special tree, and nothing else would suffice.
    Their wails did not subside until we relented, and agreed to load up the tainted tree.
    The farmer found a makeshift bucket, filled it from a nearby stream and doused the offending urine from the tree. We loaded it onto the roof of the car, and went home.
    I have admit, I sort of detached emotionally from the tree that year. Couldn’t quite get over the psychological hurdle of having a tree the dog peed on in my living room. Somehow it clashed with the whole festive notion.
    But for my kids, the tree was just about perfect, despite its incumbent flaws. And maybe that’s exactly why I like the holidays so much: because at this time of year, we’re all a little more likely to forgive the small things in order to see the bigger picture.
Here's this year's tree--note the nativity scene underneath it is Mary and Joseph (and Rudolph) made from toilet paper rolls, baby Jesus is a clothespin. My son made them in pre-school ;-).
By the way! Today is my birthday! What better way to celebrate than starting a new book series! My Royal Romeos series is a spin-off of my wildly successful It's Reigning Men series--I hope you'll be able to check them out!

Sunday, December 18, 2016

All About The Mouse...Sorta


I have a confession to make: I'm a Disney addict. There. I said it.

Yes, it's all about the Mouse for me. There is literally nothing about Disney I don't like and I will jump at any chance to go. Disney World, Disneyland, it doesn't matter (although DW is closer so I've been there more--a LOT more--by default). I took advantage of one of those chances earlier this month. Okay, maybe I created the advantage. Disney addict, remember? Anyway, my cousin has never been to Disney. Never ever. And she's forty-three. Of course I had to correct that, so off to Disney World we went for a week-long cousin's getaway.

What fun we had! I know not everyone agrees with my Disney addiction. I know not everyone loves the Mouse as much as I do. I get that. I may not understand it but hey, it is what it is. I won't judge. But I have to tell you there's something completely awesome and totally amazing about experiencing Disney World through a first-timer's eyes--especially when that first-timer is an adult.

We walked entirely too much (more than 10 miles each day, according to our Fitbits), ate entirely too much (but it was so delicious and we were walking it off, right?), and rode every ride more than once. We met new people, had a mini-reunion with some other cousins, and may have even tried to drink around the world (I'll spare you the details on that!).

In short: we had a blast. It wasn't just the exhausting entertainment--it was the chance to really connect. And yes, even to escape a bit from reality. And while we really did exhaust ourselves (I'm serious about that one), it was worth it. Our lives are so busy now and it's so easy to get caught up in the everyday demands that we lose sight of the important things around us. That's even more true at this crazy time of year!

My holiday wish for all of you is that you each get a chance to take a break. Slow down. Relax. Reconnect. But more than that, take the time to enjoy what's important to you. You don't need the Mouse to help you with that!

Of course, having the Mouse doesn't hurt. And speaking of the Mouse, where in the spectrum do you fall? Are you a fan? A fellow addict? Neutral? And is anyone planning a visit in 2017? Because you know, I'm always looking for an excuse…

Wishing everyone a joyous holiday, and a safe and healthy New Year! And don't forget, you can check out my website here to see what other craziness I might be up to (or, you know, email me if you need someone to go to Disney with...!).

Best wishes,

Friday, December 16, 2016

Blame The Mistletoe - Free! Merry Christmas

Finding topics for blog posts can be a challenge. You would think words pour from an author's imaginative brain through her fingertips at a moment's notice, but when you do that all day, you wind up with very little Real Life to write about. Fun fact: I'm boring. (Not that fun a fact, even.)

Fortunately, I have a book that is free right now! And it's a Christmas book! Being able to tell you about it is pretty much a gift to both of us.

Blame The Mistletoe is Book Two in my Love in Montana series. It's a sexy, fun story about the awkward family dynamics that can rear their heads over the  holidays, especially when exes and blended families get involved.

Liz is a bit of a scoffer when it comes to celebrating the season, but Blake converts her to a total Christmas lover. If you like yummy year-end food, walks in the snow to get a tree, and tender moments in front of the fire, snap this one up. It's your jam!

Another fun fact: Liz and Blake make an appearance in my new book, His Christmas Miracle.
In His Christmas Miracle, Quincy has just discovered he has a four-year-old son. He never expected to be a dad and is struggling to find his feet as a parent. He hires Nicki to get them through the holidays and she sees right away they need to bond.

Nicki creates an Advent calendar of activities to throw them together, and winds up falling for Quincy and Atlas herself. Here's what one reviewer said about it:
"This one had me in tears, both the sad, the wishful and the happy tears that only a really good story that touches the heart can produce. I absolutely loved this couple and their romance. It’s a story that I know I’ll be re-reading for many Christmas seasons to come." 
Blame The Mistletoe will be free for about another week. Double check the price before you one-click.

Finally, here's a message I recorded for my reader group. It's not fancy, but we had snow that day so I ran outside to say, "Merry Christmas." If nothing else, it's worth posting it so you can chuckle at the expression on my face in this thumbnail. I look like a pirate with the play button over my eye like that.

Would you like to join my newsletter? Use this link and you'll get a free download of Cruel Summer as a welcome gift.

Have a wonderful holiday season!

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Finding Hope at this Christmas by Michelle Styles

It is very easy to give into despair these days. Everywhere you turn the news bursts with horror stories  — from the fall of Aleppo to  the on-going problems with contaminated rivers rendering water unsafe to drink in China or the parts of the US to the plight of those suffering from AIDS, cancer or other illness (to name but a few). However sometimes individuals can make a difference. Operation Christmas Child which sends shoeboxes packed with small items donated from schools -- and churches across the UK  has been making a difference for over 25 years.This year they are concentrating on Northern Iraq and providing relief to people freed from ISIS there. In Flint Michigan thanks to the efforts of one mother Lee Ann Walters  the water supply is being cleaned. AIDS sufferers are  living longer thanks to the things like the Elton John Foundation 
This year  a friend of mine wanted to do more than send a shoe box to help the refugees in Syria so she and several friends created a book of poetry and  woodcuts done to illustrate the poetry which is being sold on Amazon. All proceeds are being funnelled directly to the Refugee Aid Network UK. Amazon with its self-publishing facility made it easy for them to do this with a lead time of only a few weeks. It is available all over the world.

But sometimes, you do reach an overload and you need substance  for your soul, a salve to help you go on. My husband gave me an early Christmas present this year – Neil Diamond’s Acoustic Christmas.
In his message to his listeners, Diamond writes it’s basic at the  heart of the matter for all the world’s troubles Christmas music is the perfect salve. Being alive always offers hope. At then end of the cd, he adds a bit about being kind. Kindness can go a long way in a dark world. The album is uplifting and does improve your mood (or at least mine). The album has rapidly become one of my faves and helped me finish my single title early Victorian romantic -suspence  ms which I have sent to my agent.

I also find reading Christmas romances at this time of year particularly good when combined with listening to Christmas music,  but thus far haven’t gotten around to it (story of my life recently…) does anyone have a good suggestion.

May everyone’s Christmas have a little light called hope in it.

In other news:
This is the cover  for my new Viking which comes out in February 2017.

Michelle Styles writes warm, witty and intimate historical romances for Harlequin Historical. Her next Viking set romance Sold to the Viking Warrior will be published in Feburary 2017 

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Christina Hollis: Highland Hideaway...

My mum has been hospitalised with a chest infection, which would be bad enough at any time of year but in the run-up to Christmas it's hit her very hard. I'm working on a snow-bound story to cheer her up. 

In the name of work Megan gets stranded in a remote Scottish cottage (the Highland Hideaway of the title) with only a heartthrob celebrity for company. It's no dream job. Drew Wallace is a man whose public image is all an act. He's ticked the box for "no publicity" while he takes a break from the bright lights, but Megan's on a deadline.  Facing a huge hike in her rent, she really needs this interview to pay her bills, and avoid being thrown out of her flat.

Here's the opening of the first draft...

Shepherd’s Bothy was only a deer's leap up the track, according to the cabbie when he left Megan at the bottom of the hill. He was right—if it was a deer with legs as long as Beyoncé. From the main road, Drew Wallace’s hideaway was a smudge of light in the black landscape. After toiling up the track for what felt like hours, it grew into a huddle of buildings with their backs to the mountainside. 
Megan stopped to catch her breath. A shadow broke away from the surrounding darkness and an owl swept over her head, making her duck. As she jumped sideways there was a crack like gunfire, and her Samsonite slewed. The handle bucked out of her hand, and the next ripple of fitful moonlight ran over its broken axle. One wheel lay flat on the frozen mud.  
Hahaha! shrieked some animal from the slopes, high above in the darkness. 
The owl hissed an answer from the nearest tree.
‘If it wasn’t for you frightening me half to death, that wouldn’t have happened.’ Megan huffed.  So much for the peace and quiet of the countryside. ‘If I had the time and energy, I’d sit down and swear.’ 
Icy blasts sucked all the warmth from her body, replacing it with cold prickles. The wheel was too big to fit in her coat pocket. Pulling the case along on one castor almost broke her wrist. If her best friend Sandy’s wedding present hadn’t been inside, she would have abandoned the thing in the nearest ditch. There was nothing for it but to battle on, hoping Drew Wallace, Man of the Moment, could fix the break. 
This darling of the gossip columns was more than just a handsome face. As well as being the top man of wildlife-documentary making, he was well-known for being able to turn his hand to anything. Asking the world’s most famous recluse if he was any good at running repairs would be an icebreaker, if nothing else. And there was plenty of ice about tonight. 
Megan hauled the case up into her arms. As she bunny-dipped to pick up its wheel, the moon did another disappearing act. Groping in the dark, handicapped by the dead weight clutched to her chest, she lost her balance. The Samsonite went one way, Megan went the other—and landed with a bang on her bottom. 

Muttering through her teeth, she fumbled about. Finding her luggage again she scrambled to her feet. What was the point of wasting all those hours traveling up from London, worrying how Drew Wallace would react when she turned up out of the blue— or rather, out of the black? Working out how to get to his house in one piece would have been more use.  

Security lighting bloomed over the bothy. Actually meeting Big Bad Drew Wallace would be a snap after this endless struggle up the mountainside. It would have been quicker to fly transatlantic. If only Sandy had stuck with New York for her celebrations rather than switching to her hometown of Inverness at the last minute, they’d all be looking forward to brunch in Allswell tomorrow. Instead, it would be a Best Western special in the capital of the Highlands.
Not that spending the next few nights in Scotland wouldn’t be a great break. Leaving behind office paperwork until the New Year felt good, but a bachelorette party to kick off the holiday season took some beating.  When her boss, Max Croome, suggested she came up to the Highlands a day early on time-and-a-half plus expenses to coax Drew Wallace into writing his autobiography for Croome and Filditch, it felt like the icing on Megan’s Christmas cake. 
Shepherd's Bothy is only half an inch away from Inverness on the map. How hard could it be? 
The last two hours of delays, transport strikes and route-marching had been a tough lesson in Highland geography.
Max had been upbeat. “All you have to do is pop in to Drew at the Bothy, get him to sign on the dotted line of this contract, and Bob’s your uncle!”
And Fanny’s your aunt.
Mr Rossiter, Megan’s landlord, had a lot to answer for. Anyone who brought in a rent rise from 24th December deserved to be haunted by nightmares, like Ebeneezer Scrooge in A Christmas Carol...

Megan's got a big shock in store when Drew opens the door. He may be a hunk but he's also a tough, bad-tempered misery. Getting snowed in at his Highland Hideaway for the holidays feels like a life sentence—until Megan makes a discovery that changes both their lives forever... 

I’d love to know what you think of Highland Hideaway so far. You can let me know in a comment below.

I hope you have a lovely holiday season, and a happy, peaceful New Year. See you again in 2017! xxx

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

The Art of Finding Glee

Dietrich Wegner, Studies in Solitude
I had a rough day last month.  Normally I can jolly myself out of most funks, but this was more than that.  I knew I needed to shake myself up a bit and rediscover my glee, so I closed my computer and headed down to the Erie Art Museum.  A day of beauty was just what I needed.  It was a grey, drizzly day in Erie, PA.  It sort of matched my mood.

I wasn't sure how well my plan would work, but when I caught sight of my shadow on the wall in the museum, I saw that my hair had gone Medusa again.  (It's like a Chia Pet...if you add water, it springs to life.) Rather than make me sigh over the fact my hair has a mind of its own, I smiled as I looked at my reflection.  It kind of summed up how I felt that day...a bit frazzled.  That smile broke the ice.

As I continued walking through the museum, I noticed that I could see my shadow in all the art.

Jose Picayo Polaroids

Jose Picayo Polaroids

I could literally see myself in all the art there.  As I studied my reflection and the artwork, I thought about the artists.  They'd had an idea and that art grew from their need to express it.  Then they sent it out into the world.  And here I was, looking at it and making myself a part of their vision.  I could see myself in the people who were captured forever in Picayo's Poloroid exhibit.  I could find myself in alone in Wegner's study of solitude...only I wasn't alone.  I was part of his art, so he was there too.

The more I looked, the more I realized I was a part of all the art, Medusa hair and all. I was part of their vision, and they'd become part of mine.

By the time I left the museum, my glee was back.  I was inspired.  I got home and opened my computer and wrote a scene that made me smile.

Everyone has rough days.  Sometimes we all need a day of beauty to remind us that we are part of...well, everything!

Dietrich Wegner, Studies in Solitude

Monday, December 12, 2016

12 Days of Christmas . . . er - Not Quite

I really think that this post should be titled  the 12 Days of Christmas -  EEEEK! 

Are there really  only 12 Days left  before Christmas -  Really???

This is a  bit of a problem for me because I had plans for the 12 Days Of Christmas. I’ve always loved the countdown to Christmas – and for me a special part of that countdown has been the traditional Advent Calendar.   Every year I’m lucky enough to be given  a beautiful eAdvent Calendar by Anne McAllister  - and I’ve shared that with many friends.  I love opening each ‘door’ on the calendar and seeing what lovely decoration of game is behind it.

All the years that my son was growing up we had an Advent Calendar and every night before he went to bed we would  open a door on the calendar so that he knew it was one day nearer to Christmas  - and when the last door was open  there was just one sleep before Santa Claus appeared.

Now, we don’t have any small people at home  to enjoy an Advent Calendar  but we do have  cats! 

Yes, that’s right – cats. And yes, it’s true, the cats have their very own Advent Calendar  - once again courtesy of kind Anne McAllister.   She really specialises in finding this great Advent Calendar and adding them to the enjoyment of the countdown to Christmas Day! (And if you don’t believe me that the cars have an Advent Calendar – with cat treats in each pocket – here’s Charlie  picking a treat from the countdown this year.

Now,  liking Advent Calendars so much, in the past I’ve run an Advent Calendar on my  blog  and my Facebook page as we go through December and head to the 25th. But this year things went a bit wrong.   If you’ve seen my Facebook page you’ll find that I went to a concert  in Sheffield  on the 3rd  December – lovely concert, but unfortunately  it has  had an unpleasant aftermath as I had a nasty fall, battered my hip and my should and sprained my back .  Ouch!  No – it was worse than that  - it was OUCH!!  As a  result I’ve been confined to bed, to the settee, lying flat and not able to do very much. I’ve only just managed to get upright and catch up on some of the plans I had for Christmas.  Or for the Advent Calendar.  And I don’t have time to do the full 24 days of the calendar – only the 12 days of Christmas  - and those in a bit of a rush!  If I’m to get the giveaways in the post before the big day then I’m going to have to cram them all into  this week.

So – here’s what’s happening . . . I have a selection of backlist books  and a selection of angels!  The angels are  Christmas tree ornaments  - two bright and cheerful knitted ones and 10 beautiful little glass ones  ready to go on your tree. 

I’m starting off the 12 days event right here and  now and all you have to do is to post a comment to be  in the running for  one of the knitted angels  and your choice of a backlist book.  (I’ll let you know what books are on offer as soon as my back lets me go and check on the supplies. Details of those will be on my Facebook author page then.

Or if you know someone who has had a difficult time this year – sore back, perhaps!  - you can nominate them and let me know and I’ll send the  calendar gift to them.
So – sorry it’s late and a bit rushed! But  you still have the chance of winning one of the 12 angels and the 12 books – in these last 12 days of Christmas.   

Just come and say hello here, on my personal blog , or on myFacebook author page, (on my
Facebook page, leave a comment  and share the news of the giveaway from tomorrow)  and  you might win an extra Christmas gift.  

This giveaway will end, and all the winners will be notified by the end of  Monday 18th 2016. Good luck!

Happy Christmas   to everyone  who’s celebrating – thank you for your interest in my books all through 2016 . I hope you’ve enjoyed the books you’ve read  and that you’ll enjoy the ones I have coming up in 2017.   You'll find the news of them on my web site  (when I get organised) 

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Carole Mortimer: Celebrating Milestones

It was two years ago last month that I clicked to ‘publish’ the pre-order for my very first Indie book, Christmas Alpha, with a publication date of December 8th. This month is the publication of Seduced by a Marquis, my 22nd Indie book, and also my 220th book.

To celebrate this milestone the first book in my Regency Unlaced series, The Duke’s Mistress, is now FREE. As is my very first Indie book, Christmas Alpha (Alpha 1).

It’s been a wild roller-coaster 2 years—and if anything I love Indie publishing more now than I did when I first decided to take that leap into the unknown. It’s been an amazing learning experience, but also one that I have found very personally rewarding. It has also allowed me to connect on a more personal level with my readers. Keep those emails coming, I love to hear from you!

So, what have I learned in the past two years? Well, I now know how to put the whole book together, because I am now the publisher as well as the author. I choose the publication date, and the cover picture, how that cover is going to look, and all of the content, front, back, and sideways. I also decide what series I am going to write, and how many books will be in that series. I’ve become adept on social media—something I never thought I would be.

I obviously have a great team to help me with all of this. My son Josh is my PR guy—couldn’t manage without him. My son Matt is my formatter—ditto. My US editor, Linda, and US copyeditor, Kim, are just wonderful. And then there’s the amazingly talented, Jo, also in the US, who designs my covers, memes, and website.

As you can see, what I’ve also learned the last two years is how to delegate!

I look forward to sharing many more of my Indie books with you in the coming months and years.   

As always, the stories in my Regency Unlaced, Knight Security, and Alpha series are all romances with a dash of suspense and/or danger. They are also more explicit in their language and sexual content than my other books. In other words, they’re hot, so you have been warned!

Buy link for Seduced by a Marquis (Regency unlaced 8)
Also available on Barnes & Noble, iBooks, Kobo, and Smashwords

Download link FREE The Duke’s Mistress (Regency Unlaced 1)
Also available on Barnes & Noble, iBooks, Kobo, and Smashwords

Download Link for Christmas Alpha (Alpha 1)
Also available on Barnes & Noble, iBooks, Kobo and Smashwords

Saturday, December 10, 2016

The Holiday Blur with Jeannie Watt

I hope everyone is enjoying the season. I love the holidays, but here’s how my holiday schedule inevitably unfolds:

   Day 1 – spend Thanksgiving with the family
   Day 2 – Christmas Eve

What happens to all the days in between those two events? They whip by at warp speed, that’s what. But this year I vowed things would be different. I no longer have a day job, so surely the time will slow down a little…?

Here’s how it’s going so far:

I bought Christmas cards early this year. Lost them during the move from Nevada to Montana, despite putting them in a place where I wouldn’t lose them. Bought new ones—before Thanksgiving, because the day after Thanksgiving is Christmas Eve. Found the old ones. Oddly neither new nor old cards have addressed and mailed themselves. However, I’m on this.

Bought a poinsettia in full glorious bloom instead of forgetting until all the good ones are gone.

Decided against a tree because my house is a maze of unpacked boxes and where in the boxes would I put it? Also…can’t find garlands, lights and decorations. That was kind of a deciding factor.

Decided that instead of buying big gifts for the immediate family, that we would choose recipients from the local giving tree. There’s nothing like packing and unpacking to convince a person that they have everything they need. And I do. I’ve been blessed and I’m grateful.

I’m slowing down, not trying to do it all. That makes the days pass more slowly and it gives me time to breath and enjoy the season. It feels good.

Happy Holidays Everyone! 

PS -- My book The Christmas Secret will be free on all platforms from December 14th-28th. Mark your calendars and enjoy Lil and Casey's story. 

Trapped in a cabin in a raging blizzard with the one man on earth who could turn her world upside down…this Christmas holiday was not playing out at all the way Lil Reynolds had planned. Not even close. 

When Lil’s former fiancé chose to marry on Christmas Eve—the day he and Lil had planned to marry one year ago—she knew she had to get out of town for the holidays. Heading to the isolated family cabin seemed like the perfect solution, until the blizzard came…and a man showed up at her door in the heart of the storm. Casey Lanigan. Her ex-fiancé’s brother. A man with whom she shared a secret summer romance many years ago. A man who’d betrayed her trust. A man who, despite everything, still made her heart beat a little harder…

So much for a Lanigan-free holiday.