Tuesday, February 28, 2017

O Chocolate!

By Janice Carter and Lee McKenzie

As February draws to a close, we reflect on something we truly love...chocolate!

Here we are, perched on the cusp of spring in Ontario, at the end of one of the mildest Februarys ever. I’m sure Old Man Winter has one more trick for us but I’ll say Happy Spring anyway. While I’m eager to say goodbye to February and winter’s last Hurrah, I will be sorry to say goodbye to chocolate. Wait! Chocolate? Goodbye? Those two words should never be together in one sentence, should they?

Valentine’s Day – as significant as it is to romance writers and lovers in general – may be the acme of a post-Christmas chocolate blitz but it’s also a smooth segue into Easter, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and any other special occasion that can conveniently be used as an excuse to buy and eat chocolate. Not that we chocolate addicts need an excuse. My personal rationale for indulging is to give my body much needed antioxidants and my energy levels a dopamine boost.

And of course, there’s the rumor that the glorious cacao bean is an amazing aphrodisiac. Ooops, I have a mental image of my daughters covering their ears and crying, Too much information!

Okay, back to you, Lee. Any favorites? Where and when do you like to indulge? In secret or public? Give us the reveal!

February had a wintery start here on Canada’s west coast but it didn’t last long. Now the snow drops and crocuses are blooming, as are the pansies I planted last fall, and just today I noticed that my neighbor’s camellia is covered in blossoms.

As for chocolate, well, it’s always in season! I keep a bar of dark chocolate in my desk drawer and whenever I feel the need for an energy boost, I treat myself to a square. A friend of mine can’t understand how I avoid eating the whole bar in one sitting but for me, chocolate is something to be savored.

On February 13th, I took this photograph at one of my favorite chocolate shops as they prepared for Valentine’s Day. As you can see, they were expecting a lot of customers, and what better way to keep hoards of chocolate-buying lovers under control than to have them queue up down the middle of the mall?
Looking for some love? Please line up here!
Many of us associate chocolate with February and Valentine’s Day, but it turns out that National Chocolate Day in the US, as deemed by the National Confectioners Association, is celebrated on October 28th. Wikipedia says it’s held on September 13th, which also happens to be Milton S. Hershey’s birthday. Yes, that Hershey.

Also according to Wikipedia, World Chocolate Day, held on July 7th, 2017, will mark 467 years since Europeans were introduced to chocolate. To make up for already having several chocolate days of their own, Americans celebrate Chocolate Ice Cream Day on July 7th. A brilliant compromise, don’t you think?


Whew! I see that I no longer need to search for excuses to indulge myself, Lee, with this impressive summary of official chocolate celebrations. It’s ironic that National Chocolate Day is held on October 28. I’m suspecting a sneaky corporate strategy to warm us all up—especially kids—for the “Big Rock Candy Mountain” three days later!

Although Europeans have been drinking cocoa and eating chocolate for 467 years, the ancient Mayans used the cacao bean in religious ceremonies hundreds of years earlier. Last year I spent a month in the Yucatan and visited the Mayan archeological site at Uxma. Right across the road from the site entrance was a place enticingly called “Choco-Story.” We hesitated at the inauspicious name, thinking it might be the kind of tourist trap we usually avoid. But what a surprise! Beautiful botanical gardens, with cacao trees of course, a re-created Mayan religion cocoa ceremony and a demonstration of ancient cocoa making and drinking the Mayan way—spiced without sugar. I highly recommend the place.

Preparing to make cocoa the Mayan way.

Preparing to make cocoa the Mayan way.
July is still a long way away but spring—and Easter—is just around the corner. I’m looking forward to the spring flowers you’re already enjoying, Lee, and especially to another reason to eat chocolate. I take mine straight, dark and sometimes, with a shot of caramel.

I love your Mayan cocoa photos, Janice! Thank you so much for sharing them. There’s an exotic, earthy quality there that is perfectly paired with chocolate.

And it’s so interesting that you mention dark chocolate with caramel. My two favorite chocolate shops here in Victoria make pink Himalayan-salted dark chocolate-covered caramels. Purdy’s Chocolates is pictured above. And here's Roger’s Chocolates is my other indulgent go-to.
Roger's Chocolates ~ a go-to for Victorians and tourists alike.

O Chocolate!
At the bottom of the photo, two pink Himalayan-salted dark chocolate-covered caramels from each chocolatier. Working our way up, dark-chocolate orange truffles and then two coffee creams. The large one in the pink-and-white wrapper is one of Roger’s famous Victoria Creams. Of their more than 24 flavors, the coffee cream is my first pick. And what’s that cute little chocolate in the middle of the plate? One of Purdy’s signature hazelnut cream-filled Hedgehogs. Do I have a top pick? Yes. All of them, equally.

Janice and Lee:
And since it’s not possible to have enough chocolate—who knew there’s a chocolate-flavored red wine? We didn’t, but we’ll happily raise a glass to our favorite indulgence!

Chocolate Shop ~ vinted and bottled by Chocolate Shop Wine, Caldwell, Idaho
And now it’s your turn. What’s your favorite chocolate indulgence?

Allergic to chocolate? Not a fan? We’re so sorry, but we hope you’ll share your favorite non-chocolate treat.

Until next time,

Janice and Lee

Janice Carter
For Love of a Dog
Harlequin Heartwarming, September 2017

Lee McKenzie
His Best Friend's Wife
Harlequin Heartwarming, January 2017

Monday, February 27, 2017

Would You Rather...

by Patricia Bradley

As Patricia Johns and I were emailing back and forth to come up with a blog post, she said, "Why don't we do a Would you rather post." It sounded like a great idea to me. So here we go. 

Would you rather go through drama and misery to be with a man who makes your heart flutter, or have a calm and smooth path to a man who is decent and good?

Patricia Johns:

In my fiction, I thoroughly enjoy drama and hardship--and I write it with relish! In real life, though, I like a very bland existence! So if it were just about the drama, I'd much prefer to avoid it. I value calm. 

But since the choice is between a man who makes my heart race or someone who (I'm assuming) is very decent but doesn't really excite me, I'm going to have to grudgingly accept some drama to get the man who really makes my heart sing. A lifetime together is a long time to go without a true, deep, toe-curling passion... But only if that drama is going to stop once we're together! 

If the drama and misery would continue, passion or not, then I'll take the good and decent man and spice things up myself. 

(Confession: In my real life, I went through a fair amount of drama and misery to marry my husband, and he was worth it. But I'm still a little resentful of the drama it took to get us together! LOL!)

Patricia Bradley:

I'm not sure I'm the right person to answer this question...since I've been dating the same guy for almost nineteen years and we haven't gotten married yet. And probably never will. 😏

But here goes: I don't like drama. At.All. Even though like Patricia, I make it really hard for my characters to get together, for myself I'd much prefer the steady, family loving, easy-going guy every time. 

So how about you? Which do you prefer?

Friday, February 24, 2017


Since our homes are one of our biggest assets, no matter their age we need to keep things in good repair. Maintenance is often costly and sometimes hard to schedule a workman able to handle a variety of chores. And yet it’s so important to try to protect your home from even unpredictable events such as fire, flood or other natural disasters.

Good maintenance helps your home maintain its value should you decide to sell or even refinance. Realtors tell you that. Still, it’s easy to put things off or overlook little problems. Have you noticed a slow-draining sink, a door that doesn’t latch well or is squeaky? I recently had a couple of annoying drippy faucets replaced. I also invested in two new kitchen light fixtures. I was faced with the choice of replacing odd round florescent bulbs and ballast, or getting new LED fixtures. It was more expensive but I weighed the long-term benefit of spending the money upfront to buy lights said to last a dozen years. The young electrician reminded me that repairs let go never become less expensive. He said his mom kept tripping on a loose kitchen tile, and she put off taking care of replacement until she had a serious fall.

So safety-proofing your home may help you avoid accidents or injuries. And that helps your peace of mind. Because we all know falls can cause broken bones or may be fatal. I read somewhere that one of the most prevalent causes of injury or death in older adults are falls. It stuck with me, because of course I’m getting older. I think the article said one-third of people over age 65 fall each year. Some of those falls lead to broken bones, head injury or other more serious injury.

Falling once doubles your chance of falling again according to the CDC. Many people who fall put off seeing a doctor. A person shouldn’t put up with aches and pains that may limit mobility and increase risk of more permanent damage.

Often a person who has that first fall pulls back from routine exercise they maybe were doing prior to the fall. Why, because there’s real fear of falling a second time. And yet the decreased physical activity weakens the body.

Do you know an older person who doesn’t have handrails on their stairs? What about clutter? A person doesn’t have to be elderly to have kids and pets leave toys on the floor, which could cause a person to trip and fall, say crossing a room in the dark. Items you may trip over aren’t confined to toys, but shoes, floor mats, throw rugs or some other thing you think insignificant.

The truth is that safety pays. The leading cause of home or apartment fires are: candles, smoking, old lamps, dryers, Christmas tree lights. How about cooking? Don’t turn away from a pot left on your stove.

What can cause primary water damage in your home? Broken pipes, leaky hoses, overflowing bathtubs, broken toilets, long-standing basement humidity, or less common flash flooding in areas not said to be known for flooding issues. Truly with the odd weather patterns that have been sweeping the country the last few years, it’s not always possible to guard against natural disasters like flood, forest fire, or earthquakes. But being aware, taking care of general upkeep to make your home as safe and secure as possible is simply smart on so many levels.

I actually recall saying not long ago after having to have a tree removed that was lifting my perimeter wall, replacing coils in my heat unit, call pest control for some unknown critters (perhaps moles) that moved into my courtyard without asking, and those pesky kitchen lights, that I hate being a home owner. So what do you think? Is it any better being a renter?

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Where Did All The Fun Go? By Cari Lynn Webb

December was a whirlwind month with the holidays and a family reunion in Disneyworld. There’s nothing like trying to corral 22 family members ranging in age from 13 to 74 through one of the world’s happiest places during one of the busiest seasons. Fortunately, my family spends most of our time together laughing; when we aren’t picking on each other, we’re laughing at ourselves, which made for an entertaining week despite the crowds and long lines.

Then January rolled in and with the winter storms and cold winds, life became a little more serious. Deadlines for science fair projects and honors English reports and writing proposals loomed. And as life likes to do, a few unexpected curve balls were tossed in to the mix that couldn’t be simply laughed away. Through it all, I compartmentalized (a skill I’m still trying to master) and pounded at the keyboard in an effort to find the heart of the next book I’m working on. But this story wasn’t cooperating (as my CPs can attest given the trail of text messages and emails and Skype SOS sessions they’ve put up with from me.)

 And then last week, after I’d dropped my daughters off at school with their finished science fair projects, I skipped through the radio stations and stopped when I heard Sam Hunt’s new single: Body Like A Backroad, which is a fun, upbeat, sexy country song that currently ranks among my all-time favorites. (I should mention I’m a huge fan of Sam Hunt and his Montevallo album is constantly on replay in our house). After the song finished, Sam Hunt was on air for an interview about his second album. Sam explained that his album was delayed as he’d decided to pursue a new direction and he mentioned that he felt he’d been taking his song writing a bit too seriously. That line stayed with me throughout the day and echoed a little too loudly when I spent the afternoon struggling to get words on the page for my story with the missing heart.

That night I realized I might need to channel a little bit of Sam Hunt. Perhaps my problem with my story was that I’d been taking my own writing a little too seriously. So I visited my keeper shelf and started re-reading my all-time favorite books. And in the process of reliving the stories that made me fall in love with romance, I rediscovered the reasons I wanted to write romances in the first place. With each book I opened, I recalled the plot, the characters and all those nuances I loved about that particular story and I remembered all the reasons why that book sits on my keeper shelf. I’ve laughed and cheered and sighed as I’ve spent time with favorite old friends and relived their journeys. And in the process, I found the joy and fun once again in my own writing and that elusive heart started beating inside my current book. (And my family is thrilled because I’ve slipped that fun into the kitchen with new recipes and as my husband said, he’s getting to reap the culinary rewards.)

It’s fitting that I’ve rediscovered all the reasons I love romance given February is the month to celebrate love. What do you do to rediscover your passion and joy when life becomes a little too serious?

Until next time, 

THE CHARM OFFENSIVE by Cari Lynn Webb will be out in July 2017.

You can visit me on Facebook and Twitter. 

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Three Cheers for Facebook

I became a Facebook fan almost immediately when the site was made available to the masses. Just by the nature of the site, I was aware that logic and good reasoning had to apply when using this technological wonder. Don’t post intimate details about your kids. Don’t post your address. Don’t reply to friend requests that seem questionable, etc. etc. But I used Facebook faithfully as a means to let friends, family, and even the occasional fan know what I was doing, when a new book was coming out (this month!!). I went through a phase of posting quotes from famous people, and recipes from friends with flour thumbs. I always enjoyed sharing photos of my trips, but only after I returned. Again, use common sense. Don’t let the world know you’ve vacated your home.

But I have never appreciated Facebook and the hundreds of contacts I have made over the years more than I have the last few days. On Sunday I experienced the heartbreak many of us have felt. I had to let go of my 16-yr-old rescue love of my life, Sparky. My precious pup had slowly gone completely blind and deaf, but still we persevered because he could still do many of the things he enjoyed, like eating, sleeping, walking. But on Sunday, dear Sparky let me know, as so many dogs will, that he was ready. The signs were obvious and I had to heed them. He went quietly with an injection to calm him and a second shot to stop his heart. My goodbyes to this long-time companion were heart wrenching.

I posted my sadness on Facebook the very same day, and I have received hundreds of comments from people who completely understand what I went through or others who, while they may never have had a dog, they have had to let go of something meaningful in their lives. Every comment helped me through the awful first hours and days. I read each one and became aware that people do care. In these days of almost constant turmoil, it’s good to know that a simple, heartfelt announcement of one person’s personal pain can illicit such tender response.

Maybe you are one of the folks who sent me a message. I thank you from the bottom of my heart. Yes, Facebook is a time suck. Yes, it can lead to addictive behavior. Yes, people have and will continue to abuse the freedom Facebook affords, but for now, for me, it has been my warm, comfy blanket when I needed it most. 

What do you think of Facebook? Have you ever found it to be a support in the trials of your life?


Please check out my February Heartwarming release, RESCUED BY MR WRONG and all the wonderful Heartwarming books this month and every month.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Love is Blooming!

It's almost March, which should mean that spring is almost here, right? Well, let me start by saying that it does mean that our fantastic March releases are almost here!

As for spring, in Ontario we're still experiencing a winter wonderland . . .

. . . when I would much prefer this!

But I digress. Let's focus on the positives!

To celebrate our March releases, we have not one but TWO fabulous giveaways for our readers! Better still, we have a special guest author, Jill Weatherholt, joining us for our celebration with her March Love Inspired release, Second Chance Romance!

Isn't this a fantastic cover?

Before I get into the details of our giveaways, I would like to give you a little information about our books.

First, we have LeAnne Bristow's debut book, Her Texas Rebel.

Buy links: Harlequin © Amazon © Barnes & Noble © iTunes

Please join me in giving LeAnne a warm welcome to Heartwarming!

Next we have my release, Sanctuary Cove, and possibly the start of a new series.

 Buy links: Harlequin © Amazon © Barnes & Noble © iTunes

Next up, we have Tara Randel's The Wedding March, the latest installment in her acclaimed The Business of Weddings series.

 Buy links: Harlequin © Amazon © Barnes & Noble © iTunes

Our fourth Heartwarming book is A Song for Rory, the next installment in the sweet and talented Cerella Sechrist's A Findlay Roads Story series.

  Buy links: Harlequin © Amazon © Barnes & Noble © iTunes

Most people who visit our blog regularly will probably know Jill Weatherholt, as she never fails to leave a comment and engage with us and our readers. Well, Jill’s debut Harlequin Love Inspired novel, Second Chance Romance, releases on the same date as our Heartwarming books, so we are thrilled to have Jill join us for our celebration and giveaway. Here's the introduction to her book:

  Buy links: Harlequin © Amazon © Barnes & Noble

With our release day just over a week away, we are thrilled to kick off TWO exciting giveaways, with a combined approximate value of US $225!

Preorder/Purchase Sweepstakes

First up, we have our preorder/purchase sweepstakes as a way to say thank you to our readers. One lucky person will receive a spectacular Love is Blooming Potter's Passion Prize Pack consisting of a solid-wood, hand-made planter box, brimming with treats for gardening enthusiasts, a garden tool set, tote and folding seat, thirteen “ever-blooming” blacked-eyed Susan garden stakes, three pairs of garden gloves, 25,000 Harlequin My Rewards points, and three previously-released, signed Heartwarming books! (Approximate retail value: $170. Please check the end of this post for full details.)

Preorder/purchase any of our five March releases for one entry for each book and register your purchase here. The sweepstakes runs from today until March 30th.

* Alternate method of entry available. Please see Official Rules on the entry form for details.

Help Us Spread the Word!

Here's your chance to win another gardening gift pack and this giveaway is super easy to enter. The Love is Blooming Gardener’s Dream Prize Pack is a gardener’s dream come true and arrives in a pretty planter. We’ve included three previously-released, signed Heartwarming books to read while you soak your cares away with the bath salts included in the prize pack after a hard day’s work. (Approximate retail value: $55. Please check the end of this post for full details.)

Enter using the form below. You can enter each day until March 30th!

Love is Blooming Sweepstakes
Winners will be announced right here on the Heartwarming blog on March 31st.

Best wishes with the giveaways, and happy reading!
LeAnne, Kate, Tara, Cerella and Jill

Prize Pack Details

Love is Blooming Potter’s Passion Prize Pack

Potter’s Passion: This planter box is ideal for gardening enthusiasts. It includes a book of backyard tips and hints, gardening accessories, candies and teas, and comes in a beautiful solid wood tote box with a handmade floral bow.

Garden Tool Set, Tote and Folding Seat: This kit includes a garden tool set with a folding seat and a detachable storage tote, all-in-one. The garden tools are conveniently stowed in the outside pockets for easy access, while other garden items can be stored in the attached tote. The garden stool has a lightweight aluminum frame with strong 6000 denier polyester seat and tote. The kit includes gardening seat, hand rake, trowel, digging fork, spade, rake and a weeder.

Blacked Eyed Susan Garden Stakes: Thirteen “ever-blooming” blacked-eyed Susan garden stakes.

Three Pairs of Women's Soft Jersey Garden Gloves: Three pairs (green, pink and blue floral print) 100 percent cotton jersey gloves with knit wrists and dots on the palms.

Harlequin My Rewards Points: 25,000 Harlequin My Rewards points, sufficient for three books.

Three signed Heartwarming books: Honeysuckle Bride (The Business of Weddings) by Tara Randel, When Love Matters Most (San Diego K-9 Unit) by Kate James, and Harper’s Wish (A Findlay Roads Story) by Cerella Sechrist.

(Approximate retail value before shipping costs: $170.)

Love is Blooming Gardener’s Dream Prize Pack

A gardener’s dream come true arrives in this pretty planter. After gardening, you can enjoy a refreshing cup of English Breakfast Tea, and surely appreciate the moisturizing Green Tea Lotion, cleansing Green Tea Bath Gel, Exfoliating Body Scrubber and soothing Green Tea Bath Salts to soak your cares away after a hard day’s work.

Three signed Heartwarming books: Magnolia Bride (The Business of Weddings) by Tara Randel, When the Right One Comes Along (San Diego K-9 Unit) by Kate James, and The Paris Connection by Cerella Sechrist.

(Approximate retail value before shipping costs: $55.)

Friday, February 17, 2017

National Read America Day

By Shirley Hailstock

It's February, I know that. National Read Across America Day is March 2nd and I'm putting this here because you might want to do it and you'll need time to prepare.

Every year I go back to school to read to the kids on National Read Across America Day. All kids have short attention spans, so you need to keep them engaged while you read the story. One year I was going to read The Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss. The night before I was to read, I walked into my clothes to decide what to wear (school starts early) and I saw all the hat boxes I've been keeping for when they come back in style.

I pulled them down and opened them. There were all styles of hats from the Pill Box hat to a Sailor's Cap. Props, I thought. The idea to give each kid a hat to wear came to me. Kids love things to do, especially "touch me" things.

At school the next day, as I read the story and something would mention a hat, I'd quickly point to a student and indicate how their hat was in the book. Once it was a flower. The football helmet was protective. The bridal hat (with veil) was a hit with a smiling little girl with freckles.

I learned that I not only read the story, but the kids loved being part of the story by wearing the props. So if you're inclined to read to your own child or to an entire class, take props and draw them into story. They'll remember it and may be instilled with the joy of reading.

Remember national Read America Day - March 2, 2017. Read to someone.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Cats and dogs and horses, oh, my!

by Helen DePrima

I’ve always felt pity for kids who don’t grow up with animals – pets, livestock, or both. I can’t recall not being surrounded by critters both indoors and out. We had a constant supply of barn cats, some of whom were elevated to indoor status, and a succession of border collies as well as other dogs introduced from time to time. Chickens pecked around the back steps and goats gamboled in the barn lot.

And equines, of course – ponies and work horses and mules and our own saddle horses cast variously as cow ponies or Indian war ponies or cavalry chargers, depending on what adventure tales my cousins and I were reading at the time.

When my husband and I moved to New Hampshire after his graduation from vet school, our family’s circulating menagerie shifted from farm stock to wildlife, birds and animals brought to his clinic either injured or orphaned. My kids grew up surrounded by blue jays and beavers and baby bats, squirrels and opossums and porcupines, hawks and owls and herons. As well as cats and dogs, of course.

Now we’re down to a single dog, an opinionated Shih Tzu who behaves well when it pleases her, certainly not because she feels compelled to do so. We just lost our beautiful Maine Coon to cancer, adopted as a rescue only two years ago, but are in the process of acquiring another. Maine Coons are unbeatable for beauty and personality as well as mousing talents.

Our house may suffer in tidiness because of our four-legged family members, but I truly believe that providing loving care for animals makes us more completely human.

by Liz Flaherty

I am not--are you ready for this?--an animal person. This doesn't mean I don't like them; it means I don't connect with them very well. I used to say every dog around knew when I went to work for the post office, because they hated me from that moment on. Even my grandson's dog, Buddy, barks at me the minute I get to their house and the worst thing I've ever done to him is give him treats and pat his head. Gingerly.

I do have some memories of animals that give credence to Helen's pity for kids who grow up without them in their lives.

I grew up on a small farm. Where there were cows. We milked them by hand. They all had names, and we got attached to them. Or hated them. Cora, the Holstein, stood still and placid until the milk bucket was nearly full and then she kicked it over and slapped the milker in the back of the head with her tail in one easy motion. Myrtle loved us all and when we petted her, she would lean into us and knock us flat. The barn cats showed us how they could dance when we sprayed milk directly into their mouths. At milking time, when the cats gathered in the stable with the cows, our collie, Mort, babysat the kittens in the hayloft. He lay with them snuggled into his fur until their mothers came back.

We had free-range chickens and ducks before it was in vogue. They ranged all over the barnyard, which would have been fine if there'd been litter boxes for their use. I grew up barefoot. Do you get my drift? We also had pigs, about whom I will say nothing. Shudder.

We still live in the country. We love the deer who visit our yard on nearly a daily basis and enjoy the birds, but we don't have any livestock or even any dogs. 

I do love my outdoor cats, Gabe and Susie. Gabe came to us as a baby 12 years ago, Susie several years later. She was a stray, and starved--we don't know how old she is. Gabe is the black one, Susie the tortoiseshell. They sun themselves on top of the trash can. We have seen the man who picks up our trash literally lift them off the lid, empty the can, and lift them back up. Not that they are lazy or spoiled. Well, yes, maybe.
Susie and Gabe

I put animals in my stories, because they are such a warm and sweet part of the fabric of our lives. It goes right long with being a Heartwarming author. Aren't we the lucky ones?

And maybe I am an animal person after all. At least sort of. Especially if the animals are cats.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

An Introduction of Sorts

Good morning! Laurie Tomlinson here, and this is my very first post on the Harlequin Heartwarming authors’ blog! My debut novel, With No Reservations, releases in May, and I couldn’t be more excited to be part of this amazing lineup of authors.

So, let’s get to know each other.

Yesterday was my tenth Valentine’s Day with my soccer playing engineer husband who is nine years older than me. By day, I wrangle our two small children and run an editing and PR consulting business. And at night? That’s when the story magic happens.

I’ve been writing since I was old enough to hold a pen but didn’t start my first novel until 2012—working full time from home with an infant. I spent Friday nights hiding in a corner of my favorite coffee shop with my laptop, because even though I was afraid people would find out what I was doing, I knew that, if I shed the wifely, motherly, employee parts I loved about life, helping a story unfold felt the most like me.

Nowadays, I’m much more unabashed in the pursuit of my dreams and am passionate about helping others own up to theirs, too—including my characters. My stories often begin with people (like you and me) who have big goals and painful pasts and really loud doubts in their ears. But I think there’s nothing more romantic than the give and take between hero and heroine as they fight those obstacles, make their whispers of hope more powerful than the doubts, and support each other’s pursuits.

This is where those stories come to life, a space my husband created while I was at a conference a few years ago. I write to celebrate that romance, to illuminate the beauty in the middle of the mess, and, of course, to defend hope. Disclaimer: there's also a lot of food in my books, so do not read on an empty stomach!

If you’re a writer, what do you write for? Readers, why do you pick up a story? I’m looking forward to getting to know you all--or, as we say in Oklahoma, all y’all!

Laurie Tomlinson is an award-winning contemporary romance author living in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Her stories are fueled by faith, steaming mugs of tea, and her belief that life should be celebrated with cupcakes and extra sprinkles. When she’s not writing, she enjoys baking with her two little sous chefs and testing new recipes on her husband—especially if she doesn’t have to do the dishes.

You can connect with her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/AuthorLaurieTomlinson or her website, www.laurietomlinson.com. Be on the lookout for her inspirational romantic comedy novella, That's When I Knewreleasing in March with the Love at First Laugh collection and her debut Harlequin Heartwarming novel, With No Reservations, arriving in May.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Happy Valentine's Day by Patricia Forsythe
It’s such a thrill to be the one who gets to blog on Valentine’s Day.   This is a special day for romance writers because our whole reason for being is to tell stories of romantic love, which is what Valentine’s Day celebrates.  This day is really special to me because it was on February 14, 1984 that I learned I’d sold my first romance to Silhouette Books.  Yes, I’ve been around for that long.  At that time, I had a writing partner, Barbara Jean Hicks, who has gone on to write some wonderful children’s books.
We heard the good news about our sale at a meeting held by a Silhouette editor and featuring authors Nora Roberts, Dixie Browning, and Barbara Faith who talked about ‘How to Write a Romance’.   The editor was specifically looking for submissions to an inspirational romance line, which was what Barbara Hicks and I had submitted.  When we introduced ourselves, the editor’s response was, “Oh, yes, I remember your names.  We want to buy your book.”
We jumped up and down and shrieked in her face, then Barbara broke all land speed records as she drove us home so we could tell our families what had happened.
In many ways, romance novels have changed drastically in thirty three years, but in the best ways, they have stayed the same. They still tell the story of the journey of two people to a loving, committed relationship.  In spite of the bad things that happen in the world, all the people who are hurt by those who once claimed to care about them, we humans still believe in love.
I hope this day is a very special one for you!

Patricia Forsythe is the author of many romances, both traditionally and electronically published.  Her most recent release is The Husband She Can’t Forget, book two in her Oklahoma Girls series, which was released this month.  Book number one, At Odds With The Midwife was released in November 2016, and book three, His Twin Baby Surprise in May 2017.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Girl Power by Cheryl Harper

Sunday night. 5:30. And I realize I need a blog post. Think, think, think. What to write about?
Well, I've got this book out. A Home Come True. It's the last in the series. What will I miss most about that series?

And the answer is so easy: I'm going to miss this group of friends I've built through four books.

When I begin any book, I start with a single scene, an image that I build on. For the Lucky Numbers series, it was a group of three women, friends since acne was the biggest threat one could defeat, who have won the lottery. Only with the badgering and love of her two best friends will that first heroine take a step of faith that leads her to the life she's dreaming of. In the last book, they end up taking some pretty big leaps, but it's not so scary when they do it together.

Badgering and love. That's like the summary of my most important female friendships from my first best friend, a girl a few years older and much wiser who taught me the value of playing kiss chase with the neighborhood boys, to the friends I have now who will still be my besties when I surrender to the growing onslaught of gray hair decades from now. L'Oréal and I have got this for a while, you ruthless jerks.

Even better, I love seeing bits of my friends on the page. One of them is so good and encouraging that she continues to go out to public restaurants with me even though I'm nearly guaranteed to end up crying into my nachos. Another always has the "get it together" practicality that annoys me so much that I have to get back up on my feet. One has the crazy plans that call to my real me, the brave, crazy one I try to keep a tight handle on. And I need them all. I'm thankful for them all. And you can meet parts of them in Winner Takes All, Heart's Refuge, Keeping Cole's Promise, and A Home Come True.

I hope you have friends like the heroines of these books. They are defenders and cheerleaders and teachers and so many things. I loved writing this friendship.

That leads me to...today. It's February 13. Galentine's Day. Never heard of it? I'm about to give you two gifts, you beautiful land mermaids. First, go and watch Parks and Recreation. Leslie Knope is totally fictional but that's okay. Her policy of pulling together her best friends, no boys allowed, for a breakfast celebration of what makes them awesome is definitely something we need. The reminder that you can take some time out to tell your friends how much they mean is the second gift of Galentine's Day. Send a text, make a call, or put up a blog post where you know some truly awesome writer friends and readers who make the hard work of writing matter will read it, but definitely send out your galentines.

And just because I can't stand it...how awesome is this cover? I mean really.