Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Heartwarming on Goodreads

Did you know that the Heartwarming authors are on Goodreads? Not only are our books on there, but we have a discussion group, too! Our very own Liz Flaherty does a fantastic job of creating discussion threads and many of your favorite Heartwarming authors love to pop in and chat. Not only do we discuss things like - How important is setting? and Where do you enjoy reading? - but we have monthly giveaways! Comment on the April giveaway thread for a chance to win all FOUR Heartwarming titles. 

Click HERE to go to the Heartwarming Discussion Board
Click HERE to go to the April giveaway thread!

Monday, March 30, 2015

The Trials of Daylight Saving Time by Marion Ekholm

Although Benjamin Franklin came up with the idea back in 1784, Daylight Saving Time actually started during World War I by Germany and Austria to conserve fuel. Other places adopted it, as well, but the United States didn’t put it into law until 1918. It was so unpopular in the states that it was repealed in 1919. It became a local option until war again brought it back, this time WW II. Today about 70 countries participate. Most of the United States spring forward and fall back in the appropriate seasons, except for Arizona and Hawaii.

Even though we’re one of the few places that doesn’t follow DST, Arizona is still affected by it. When the other states spring forward an hour, we merely drop out of Mountain Time and hook up with Pacific time. Recently the legislators in Phoenix discussed joining DST but it was voted down. One of my friends, who lived through that one experimental year when we did try DST, said it was horrible. It seemed to extend the heat.

Some areas of the country might enjoy having more light, but not us. We prefer the sunrise at 5:00 am when it’s the coolest part of the day. An extra hour at night when the temperature dallies around 115 degrees has no appeal.

Proponents give dozens of reasons why it’s important to the economy and society. However, the detractors (me among them) are happy that Arizona sticks with standard time. If you want real confusion consider Tuba City, Arizona, where the Navajo Nation follows DST. Imagine what it's like when everyone in the town isn't in the same time zone.    

Here are a few of the problems created by Arizona not following the crowd:

1.                  TV programs that were watched at a specific time, are now an hour earlier. As soon as you’ve adjusted to the time change, they flip back. 

2.                  None of your friends or relatives on the East coast can ever figure out when to call, and the first few minutes of the conversation is a discussion about time zones.

And here are some reasons why I’m glad we don’t:

1.                  I always fed my dog at 5:00 pm. Since we have no time change, the dog never had to suffer and was always fed when her internal clock said 5:00. She never had to bug me with soulful eyes wondering when she’d get her food the way she did when we lived back east.

2.                  I’m a person who rises with the sun, and it’s not all bad when the lawnmowers start at the same time.

3.                  When the sun dips, so does our temperature. Where’s the advantage to enjoying an evening on the patio when we’re still roasting in 110 degrees?

4.                  No need to adjust clocks. However, those automatically adjusted by satellites do require work. I finally figured out how to set my computer on Arizona time. There’s actually a setting for that!

How do you feel about Daylight Saving Time? Does it create any problems for you?


Saturday, March 28, 2015

Sit Down Saturday with Melinda Curtis

Today we're celebrating the release of One Perfect Year by Melinda Curtis.

This is Book 4 in your Harmony Valley series. Where did you come up with the idea for this book?
I've had Shelby and Gage in the back of my mind for a long time (even before Harmony Valley began). Who doesn't like a best friends to true love story? I wanted to expand the series beyond the original three friends, so this idea seemed a great way to so.

If you could caption the cover, it would say...
At last (Gage's thought: poor guy's been waiting a long time for Shelby).

In a nutshell, this story is about...
Best friends whose friendship has faded. They met in high school. It was love at first sight for Gage, but he ("a man of science") didn't trust in his feelings. And just as he's about to ask Shelby out, his best friend beats him to the punch. So he kept his feelings to himself - all through high school, all through college, and through their marriage. Now's his chance, except she wants to stay in Harmony Valley, and he's got a job in Kentucky.

You usually feature a few of Harmony Valley's elderly residents. Who will we meet in this book?
I love adding the warmth and humor of town residents. One Perfect Year features Doc, the town vet (Shelby's grandfather), and Mae Gardner, who used to own the town bridal shop. Mae was a lot of fun, because she has the ability to match a girl with the perfect dress (and give some interesting love advice in the process).

Do you have a favorite scene in One Perfect Year?
I really like the first kiss scene. It involves a starry night, a misunderstanding, and an enthusiastic St. Bernard. I like writing humor into touching moments.

What other behind the scenes info can you give us?
The inspiration for the title was Shelby thinking she lived in Harmony Valley one year while growing up and it was the one perfect year of her life. I tossed it into a list of possible titles and Victoria liked it.

As for other behind the scenes tidbits, I have a habit of putting my animals into books. Calvin, our chocolate lab, was the family dog in
Tally Discovered Sprinklers
Getting Married Again (his trenching of the yard for gophers was based in reality). Bonnie, my daughter-in-law's Aussie, was the inspiration for the dog in Summer Kisses. And Remington, my son's St. Bernard, is the very large sweetheart in One Perfect Year. Tally, my Shorkie, will be making an appearance in my December book (those who follow me on Facebook have seen her grow up over the past year) - can't wait!

We'll be seeing recurring characters soon. Kathy, Flynn's sister, is back and will meet her match in Time for Love (Book 5, out August 1). And then Will's sister, Tracy, finds herself back in town (Book 7, 2016).

What are you working on now?
I'm finishing up Book 6 (due out in December) and expecting to review Book 5 (Time for Love) one last time.

Thanks for stopping by today. Any last words?
I'm wondering if anyone would want to go back and relive a year of their lives. If so, which year and why? I welcome comments from both writers and readers. One reader commenter will be chosen Monday to receive a free autographed copy of any book from my backlist.

And don't forget: sign up for my book release list and receive a free read!

Happy Weekend!

Friday, March 27, 2015

Is It Easy To Bog Down In Research by Roz Denny Fox

When I started writing speakers kept saying: “Write what you know.” What I knew felt boring and insignificant. So I decided to research areas about which I knew nothing. I don’t know how many of you love to research things like character careers and settings, but it’s the part of brainstorming a new idea that I love. However, it’s easy to overdo and research an idea to death. I’m sure I could never write historical romances, because I’d have books on the time period piled high all over the house and I’d never get to writing. Even writing contemporary stories, I love to forage in bookstores for magazine articles and travel books that describe in vivid detail a place where I want to set a story.

Before the Internet became a treasure trove of information I used to write to the Chamber of Commerce in towns small or large that I’d selected for a setting. I would tell them I was thinking of relocating to their town and could they send me a packet of information. They always did. I never felt guilty about fibbing, because what they sent me enriched my story, and maybe enticed one of my readers to visit the city or town.

The packets contained more information than I could ever use. Maps, what jobs might be available, typical weather, major events, names of stores for shopping, agriculture, and sometimes famous people living or dead who’d come from there.

Now most towns and cities have Internet sites that give all that information, plus some have colored photos of ranches, farms or houses typical of the area.

My first choice is to visit a place and soak up the feel of the hustle and bustle, or even the lazy lifestyle if that’s why people choose to live there.

Restaurants and cafes are great spots to find an actual person willing to talk about the town. Most waitresses are happy to give you little known facts. Octogenarians sitting on park benches love to talk, and if they were born and raised in the place, they give you a rich history maybe not found in the travel guides.

But travel guides from Triple A have helped me enrich my stories, too. And buying a Fodor book on any given state is research money well spent. They do a fantastic job of dividing a state into sections, with enlarged maps, historic and information written by recent travelers. I can soon fill a notebook and several folders with pages of facts. Facts I may never use, or some could trickle into a book.

I have file cabinets full of newspaper articles from small town papers that may have caught my attention even if I only picked the paper up at breakfast when I was passing through. Some of those simply talk about local fairs, concerts, special days celebrated by local residents. Those are files I need to clean out regularly and hate to do. But when the drawers start bulging and no longer close, I know it’s time to pull up a waste basket. Then I have to decide what may still be relevant and what’s not. I have an eclectic library of books, such as Amazing Horse Facts and Trivia, National Wildlife magazines, and Western Horseman. Oh and I love a series called: Off the Beaten Path---you fill in the state. I like books on medicine, both holistic and physician. I have the PDR and the Merck Manual. I buy slang and visual dictionaries. (Why, I’m not sure) I love wandering in the psychology section of Barnes and Noble. I have books on love and hate and everything in between. Books on character and emotional traits. Crime facts and medicinal plants. Oh, and I have stacks of reports on activism both political and environmental. I’m running out of book shelves and at times it’s tough to decide what to do with all the trivia that sticks in my head.

But the upshot of me writing about this is to say I can easily bury myself in research which can set back the time it would otherwise take me to write a book proposal. So tell me, am I alone in having this bad research habit, or do some of you get lost in planning too?

Thursday, March 26, 2015

#Free #eBook Offer (Tara Taylor Quinn)

I'm at the four month countdown until my first Heartwarming Novel, Once Upon A Friendship, hits the stands.  Still no official cover that I can share with you, but I've read the final printout.  All changes are made and the story is in production.  It's the time of percolation.  The time when I can't do anything but wait.  And hope.  And worry.

I learned a long time ago that worry is a waste of time.  When I have done all I can do, it's time to focus my energy elsewhere.  I'm writing book seven of my Where Secrets Are Safe series right now.  The books are Superromances and this week every one of the first six books are on the Amazon bestseller list.  Book Five, Mother By Fate,
is out this month.  Book Six, The Good Father
is out in June, but is already on the bestseller list.  This seems like a good place for me to focus right now!

Then it's on to revisions for my second Heartwarming novel, Once Upon A Marriage, which is out in the fall.  I'm looking forward to them because I fell in love with the Historic Arapaho (an apartment building in Denver where all of the friends live) and her people.  I miss them and want to go back!  I need a few minutes just sitting in the ground floor coffee shop and I don't even like coffee!  The organic sandwiches are really good, though, and the conversation and sense of caring is wonderful.  Other than my friends who own the building, the residents are pretty much all senior citizens who've lived in the building for decades.  They're a hoot.  One of them even works in the coffee shop.  She's the first to go into protective mode when someone starts to threaten my friends.

Ah yes, I'm succeeding marvelously on keeping my focus away from the Arapaho...But I'm trying!  And because I can't give you the Arapaho yet, I'm giving you something else.  Today only, I'm giving away, competely free, an eBook copy of my first Heartwarming reprint - Four Times The Trouble to anyone who wants it.  This book was originally published as Jacob's Girls.  It was re-written and re-published to fit Heartwarming guidelines.  Happy Reading, Everyone!
To receive your free eBook copy Click on the cover!

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

What are you re-reading--and why? - Liz Flaherty

        I have a lot of favorite re-reads, don’t you? And they’re all over the place as far as time, place, and author.
          I’ve read a healthy percentage of Nora Roberts’ work, but my favorites are her early Silhouettes. In one of them, From this Day, the heroine is the manager of a small hotel.
          I’ve read that same healthy percentage of our own Muriel Jensen’s books, too, but my favorite two are A Carol Christmas and Valentine Hearts and Flowers.  
          I read everything Mary Balogh writes, but I’ve re-read her Christmas stories so often I think the books start jumping off the shelf every October.
          I’m a terrible Kristan Higgins groupie. We said hello at a conference in Chicago and I’m surprised she didn’t run when she read my nametag, and I swear I used my own name. I have read all of her books, most of them more than once, but Catch of the Day has a special place in my reader’s heart.
          I also come precariously close to stalking Kathleen Gilles Seidel. If I could only have one romance novel ever again, it would be Till the Stars Fall.
         Nan Reinhardt and Kristina Knight, besides being my friends, are also favorites. I especially love Nan’s Once More from the Top best and am going to read Kristi’s The Daughter He Wanted again soon.
          So why do I re-read these particular books? What is the common thread?
          I’m almost afraid to say it, but it is the usually the secondary characters. The reason I’m almost afraid is that I was warned from my very earliest
writing-in-longhand days to not give the supporting cast too much attention, time, or strength. It is one of those rules I occasionally blow off myself. Well, often.
          So do the writers I’ve listed above.
          And for this, speaking strictly as a reader, I thank them. Again and again and again. At least once for each time I read their books.
        A whole flock of orphaned kids stole center stage in A Carol Christmas. In Catch of the Day there is a wonderful, wonderful dog. In the Nora Roberts story there is a quirky, fun staff. Mary Balogh’s Christmas stories have children who clutch at your heart and lovely, snowy Regency holidays that are characters unto themselves. In Nan and Kristi’s books, I love the protagonists’ friends (yay, Julie!) as much as the heroes and heroines themselves. In Till the Stars Fall I am in love with Danny French and would still like for Kathleen to write his story. I’d be glad to give her pointers about the woman Danny would love.
          What about you? We’re not nosy or anything, but we’d really like to know—what are your re-reads and why? And, while you’re at it, tell us how you feel about secondary characters.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Romance is in the Air

What type of wedding do you dream of? Or, if you are already married, did you dream of? For a long time I’ve been fascinated with wedding stories, and when this one came my way, I couldn’t resist sharing it,

Once upon a time there was a girl by the name of Tana, and she was in love with Jason. Now Jason worked on a crabbing boat just off the Aleutian Islands, and they didn’t see each other nearly as much as they’d like. But they had set a Christmas wedding. Jason was flying home, and it was going to be perfect.

But, as in all romantic stories, not everything went according to plan. Before they could make all the arrangements, Jason was called back to the boat. After he complained to his captain that he’d had to come back before they could tie the knot, the captain stroked his chin.  Why not have the wedding on the boat? 

After much thinking and talking back and forth, Tana agreed. I mean, who wouldn’t love getting married on a boat in Dutch Harbor, Alaska in March!
But again, there must be conflict. 

The boat had to catch its quota before it could return to Dutch Harbor, so Tana would only have a ten-day notice. Finally the call came and Tana set out with two friends to fly to Alaska. Right in the middle of the worst ice storm in West Tennessee. They slipped and slid to Nashville to catch the plane, where they waited for over twenty hours to take off. That’s what every bride dreams of—puffy eyes from no sleep. 

While in the airport a news crew arrived to do a story on the iced-in airport and discovered Tana’s story. They interviewed her, but she never saw the story because…FINALLY the plane was able to take off.
Waiting to fly out

 Twenty-fours hours of flying and sitting in airports later, Tana and friends Geri and Eric arrive in Dutch Harbor.

 I think I’ll  let the photos speak for the wedding preparations…
Geri helping Tana get ready
Ready to begin with the Maid of Honor and Groomsman in place...
Now for the vows:

And no wedding is complete without this...

The reception...

After the wedding

The captain gave up his quarters to them, and for their honeymoon, they sailed to Seattle... 

Do you have any wedding stories? Tell me about them...

Oh, there's more to this story...unfortunately, I can't tell you what it is until October, but I will. Stay tuned.

Photos by Geri Moore

Sunday, March 22, 2015

The Bluebird Bet: An excerpt with Pinterest highlights

What did writers do before Pinterest? "Research" has become so much more fun with these digital pins. If you'd like to see what I pinned while I was think, think, thinking about Tall Pines, here's the link to the Tall Pines board. And if you like sneak peeks, you could check out the Lucky Numbers board (but I've got two books going here so...it might be a puzzle! Fun!)

Here's an excerpt from The Bluebird Bet:
His father’s voice stopped him. “Invited her out. She’s coming to take a look around.”

“Who? The doctor? Why?” The place definitely would not show well, not yet. He’d get to work on that soon, but not today. Today was for forcing himself to take it slow. He had to learn sometime, and the sooner, the better.

His dad sighed and pulled his pole out of the water to set it on the dock. “She used to visit. Loved the tearoom and the inn.”

Dean looked over his shoulder at the house he’d grown up in. When his mother was alive, she’d settled for nothing less than pristine white paint with bright blue shutters, precisely manicured gardens and flags snapping in the breeze to welcome visitors.

The gray boards and peeling paint, ragged flower beds, and air of general fatigue almost made it hard to believe it was the same place.

Except the beautiful bones were still there. He counted six windows across the front of the house, the finest guest rooms, and wished he’d thought to camp in one of those. The view of the lake might have helped calm some of his anger and irritation and just…overwhelming emotion.

Something had to or he might have a meltdown, lose the control he’d worked so hard to hold on to. 

Sometimes, when he was staring out the window in the middle of the night, he wondered if he was already there.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Sit-down Saturday with Cheryl Harper

Today we’re celebrating the release of The Bluebird Bet

So, Cheryl, where did you get the idea for this novel? 
I wanted to go back to Tall Pines, the town from A Minute on the Lips, and expand the borders a little. An old house that’s been home to generations sitting in a quiet cove of a beautiful lake was the first image that came to mind. That was quickly followed by all the DIY gone wrong that could be wreaked on such a place. I guess I’m saying HGTV has a little bit to do with most of my inspiration.

How long did it take you to write? 

Six weeks. And then revisions and revisions!

What is your favorite scene? 

My favorite scene is near the end when the judges are deciding the fate of the Bluebird. I can’t really tell much more than that, but it involves most of my favorite Tall Pines citizens. And my favorite line that I’ve written (so far).

Who was your favorite character and why? 

I love Edna. She’s a secondary character, a little misunderstood and a whole lot nosy, but she’s softening, changing, and I like to see people get second chances.

Tell us one thing you learned during research

Dharamsala (India) is where the Dalai Lama lives. Also, the trekking and mountain climbing are attractions.

What do you plan to work on next? 

I have two more Heartwarming titles coming this year in a new series, Lucky Numbers. If you hit the lottery, what would you do with the money? The heroine of Winner Takes All (June 2015) wants to see the world. She does NOT want to start in Peru. So, we’re going to Peru!

The Bluebird Bet
Winning isn't everything…to other people 
Dr. Elaine Watson never loses. Period. So she won't miss out on a chance to restore the Bluebird Bed-and-Breakfast. The owner's son, Dean Collins, seems just as determined as she is. A famous photojournalist, he hasn't been home in years, so why does he want to turn the Bluebird, a charming old B and B, into a fishing camp? 

With just a few weeks to create the winning plan, Elaine has no choice but to spend time with the guy. She's drawn to the handsome, wounded man, but being with Dean would mean giving up the future she's been dreaming of… And Dr. Elaine Watson never gives up. Buy Links: Harlequin Amazon Barnes and Noble 

Friday, March 20, 2015

Why I Can't Clean That Closet

        Spring is coming.  I promise it will be here.  And every spring there is cleaning to be done.  For years, I've had an overstuffed closet.  The pole sagged and it was in danger of falling down or snapping in two.  I had to remove some of the heavier clothing and lay them temporarily in a laundry basket on the floor.  That basket went from temporary to permanent after a year.
       My intention was to clean everything out, get rid of clothes I will never wear again and rehang the rest in an organization manner where I can easily find them.
        Did. . .not. . .happen.
        Why?  Because cleaning a closet is not just cleaning the closet.
    Once you empty the closet, the contents will never fit back in it.  Then you'll find something that waylays you, like a photo or a momento from your past.  You'll start to go through it, reliving the happy time.  Hours could go by or only a few minutes.  Then you discover it doesn't belong in the closet, but somewhere else in the house.  Going to the place where it belongs means you open another drawer or closet or door and find you need to straighten things up to fit the item inside.  Or worse, something else gets your attention.  This takes times and again you might find another item sparks memories or triggers a phone call you need to make to again relive the past experience with a friend who understands.

        Suddenly an hour or more has passed.  Then you go back to the original closet only to discover it doesn't look like you've made a dent in it.  You pull out an outfit to put on the I'll-never-wear-this-again pile and stop.  You look at it asking yourself, do I really want to throw that away.  You hold it up to yourself, take a look in the mirror.  Then you decide to try it on.  You want to know if it still fits.  Of course, you expect it will.  But it doesn't, so you throw it on the growing pile accumulating on the floor.
        The next item does fit.  You go to the mirror and look at yourself, proud of your weight, but the style is gone.  Do you have any place to wear it?  After a moment it doesn't matter, it's going to go back in the closet.  You'll find a place to wear it.  This procedure goes on until you start to open the boxes that are on the shelves.  Hat boxes with hats that haven't been worn in twenty years.
        When you moved in you swore you weren't going to allow your closet to flow into other rooms like the guest room or an absent kid's room.  But you need the room and the guest room rarely has anyone in it.  The space there is wasted, you rationalize.  Show the parade begins.  You go back and forth adding things to other rooms, then finding things in that room that need organizing.  You pull things out that need to go somewhere else.  Pretty soon, three to four rooms have been cluttered and you have three times the work to get back to the level of clutter you had before you began to clean the one closet.

        So that's why I can't clean that closet.  If I start, it leads to more than one closet, more than one room, a houseful of clutter and things I intended to get rid of find their way back where they were.
        And I've lost my writing time.
        You might think I could begin the cleaning and take a break and go write.  Writing doesn't work that way.  Once I'm in a book, I could be there for weeks or months.  That pile of clothes on the floor could also stay there, irritating me because I have no time for it.  So the best thing is to wait until there's time.  And who has that?

      We all have a clutter somewhere.  We'll clean it when we get time.  That time might only be when we move to a new place.  I have no plans to move.  But I will have to clean that closet one day.  I have to paint my bedroom and then everything must be moved.  It will clutter up another room, but the cleaning process will be done.  I can replace the sagging pole with a stronger one, maybe get a closet organizer and never have to worry about cleaning the closet again.

     What about you?  Do you have a closet, basement, garage you just can't clean because it means you won't be working only on that room?

As always, keep reading.

Shirley Hailstock is the author of over thirty award-winning novels.  She is a past president of Romance Writers of America.  She resides in New Jersey with her family, where she is busy working on her next release.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

'Tis the Season?

by Lee McKenzie

Christmas put in an appearance in downtown Victoria yesterday.

Yes, that's right, Christmas. And for a few hours, it wasn't really Victoria. It was New York City.

"How could this be?" you ask?

It's all thanks to Hollywood...Hollywood North, that is...and a made-for-TV movie called Monkey Up. From what I gather it's about a monkey that saves Christmas. And FYI, Monkey Up is an energy drink...

...that has a real monkey as its spokesperson. This morning I tried to snap a picture of the monkey, but she's a very small monkey and I was very far away.

Yes, there's a monkey in this photo! She's the tiny creature in the center of the picture between the lamppost and the man walking toward the camera. She appeared to be wearing a dark blue outfit and little matching shoes. Her name is Crystal and if you'd like to see a much better photo of her, please click here.

All this lights-camera-action was taking place just around the corner from my office yesterday, and there's a chance they may be back today, too. With lots of sunshine and an afternoon high of 12 degrees C (about 54 F), we couldn't have asked for a better faux-Christmas Day in Victoria.

I'm guessing this film will be out in time for next Christmas, and since I love stories about animals and about the holidays, I might have to check it out.

What about you? Do you like stories with animals in them and characters who love their pets? If so, you might enjoy the cat, the dog and other assorted critters (no monkeys, though!) in my most recent Harlequin Heartwarming, The Parent Trap.

Happy reading!

Until next time,

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Bucket List by Syndi Powell

There's a lot of talk about bucket lists, those things you want to do before you die. I never really thought about mine until I was recovering from my double mastectomy. And instead of things I want to do before I die, I prefaced mine with "When I get better, I'm going to..."

So here's my list of what I'm going to do when I get beat cancer and have a healthy body:

1. Keep my body healthy. Although I've started this already, it means eating more fruits and vegetables and less sugar and fat; exercising more; and keeping up on my own well-being. No one else will take care of my body like I can, so it's time I started doing it.

2. Take some dance lessons. I'm a huge fan of Dancing with the Stars, and I've wanted to learn how to samba, cha cha and rumba. This has been on my list of "someday" for a while.

3. Go to Vegas. My ex-husband and I always talked about going, but it was all talk. I'm ready to stop talking and actually book the trip once my body has healed.

4. Throw myself a party. I want to celebrate that I'm staring cancer in the face and beating it. I'll invite my family and friends, serve food and drinks, play music, dance, laugh... I can't wait.

5. Find my own house. It's time that I move into my place since I'll be able to take care of myself once again. I'm looking forward to the search as well as the end result.

6. Buy a new wardrobe. There have been changes in my body that signal a need for this. I want to infuse my closet with lots of bright, fun colors.

7. Join a gym. While I was recovering, my sister joined a gym and raved about all the great programs they offer as well as the equipment and pool. I figure doing this helps with #1 and makes the need for #6 even better.

8. Laugh more. Love more. Live more. Because if we don't do these things, then what's the point?

So there's my list. What's on your bucket list?

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Research - a great excuse to be nosy, by Cynthia Reese

Maybe it's the reporter in me. Or maybe I'm just nosy.

But my favorite part of writing is the research. I really like sitting down with people and talking with them, and finding out all about a particular part of their lives. Everybody has a story, and each of those stories is so interesting.

Plus, I really, really like to get things right. Nothing bugs me more when I'm reading a book then when I see an error that could've easily been avoided if the writer had simply looked it up on Google. 

Or when someone is writing about a person in a different part of the country, and the writer uses her own perspective. A "for instance" that sticks in my head: I once read an otherwise pretty good book about a midwestern girl who was relocated to the South in the 60s. Her first breakfast? Not grits. Oatmeal. Yes, oatmeal. 

Honestly I don't know of any self-respecting Southern cook that would have served up a steaming bowl of oatmeal for breakfast in 1965. The question would have been, "Honey-child, you want fried eggs or scrambled with your grits? Sausage or bacon or maybe some fried ham?" Grits were the default answer to what was for breakfast south of the Mason-Dixon Line up until the 80s. 

I realized how hard it is to write from a different perspective when I made the mistake of writing a book with the heroine from the Pacific Northwest. Lucky for me, I had a critique partner who was from the Pacific Northwest, and she kept me straight on all of the many attitudes and characteristics that I had wrong. We Southerners are a strange tribe. 

I have started on the third book in the Georgia Monroes series, and already I'm finding many reasons not to put pen to paper, but to run my mouth. There is always another question that needs to be asked. There's always something else that I need to go see for myself. And even so, even with all the care I put into it, I know that I'm not going to get everything right. But it won't be for lack of trying. 

Monday, March 16, 2015

Would you like to participate in a Heartwarming Spring Fling? . . . by Kate James

Most places in North America experienced a longer and harsher winter than usual. Ontario was no exception.

This year, we had snow on the ground in October (!), and it persisted all winter.

Personally, I missed the sunshine. Many days were dreary, gray and with temperatures as low as –40°C with the wind chill, darn cold! (Coincidentally, –40°C is also 40°F.)

Although I’m not a fan of slushy, dirty snow in the city, at our cottage the pristine, glistening blanket of white can be very appealing.

But this year, even there we seemed to get less sunshine than normal.

On the plus side, except for a few of the coldest days, our dogs weren't deterred from playing Frisbee.

Still, I’m happy that spring is only days away. I think fondly of the perennial gardens at our cottage.

With spring and my May 1st Harlequin Heartwarming release, THE TRUTH ABOUT HOPE, in mind, I’ve been thinking about how best to celebrate both these events. I consulted with a few of my fellow Heartwarming authors with upcoming releases, and we 
came up with a fun idea. What better way to celebrate spring and our spring releases than with our readers!

First, let me profile some of the beautiful covers of the April and May books from some of the participating authors . . .

And here’s what we have planned: We will give away a grand prize of seven books and . . . wait for it . . . the makings for a spring perennial garden! We might even add some additional prizes of single books.

Watch for our Sunday, April 12th post announcing the contest and how you can enter to win.

Happy (almost) spring . . . and happy reading!