Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Your Reading Wish List

Are you looking for some great books to read each month in 2017.  
Here are some current and upcoming novels by our Heartwarming authors.  Feel free to print this list, keep it tucked in your purse, and take it out every once in awhile to remind you, "Yes, this is what I need to read today!" Don't forget, you can preorder the books in both print and e-book format several months in advance of their release date.

Your Reading Wish List
 June
Girl in the Spotlight, Two Moon Bay series book one, by Virginia McCullough
The Man She Knew by Loree Lough
Summer at the Shore by Carol Ross
The Runaway Bride by Patricia Johns
A Baby on His Doorstep by Roz Denny Fox (Harlequin Western)

July
Family of his Own by Catherine Lanigan 
Home to Stay, San Diego K-9 Unit series, by Kate James
Afraid to Lose Her, Book #1 Hope Center Stories series, by Syndi Powell
The Charm Offensive by Cari Lynn Webb
August
The Alaskan Catch, Northern Lights series book one, by Beth Carpenter
A Dad for Charlie, A Butterfly Harbor Novel, by Anna J. Stewart
The Sergeant's Temptation, by Sophia Sasson
New Year's Wedding by Muriel Jensen
Sept
For Love of a Dog by Janice Carter
A Father's Pledge by Eleanor Jones
For Love of  Dog by Janice Carter

Oct
A Priceless Find, sequel to a Child’s Christmas, by Kate James
Support Your Local Sheriff by Melinda Curtis
Until the Ride Stops by Amie Denman
Smoky Mountain Sweethearts by Cheryl Harper

Nov 
A Cowboy’s Way, Rocky Mountain Cowboys series Book One, by Karen Rock
The Woman Most Wanted by Pamela Tracy

Dec
It was Written in the Stars, by Liz Flaherty
Mica's Baby, (working title) by Catherine Lanigan
Every Serengeti Sunrise, by Rula Sinatra
A Gift for Santa, Northern Lights series Book Two by Beth Carpenter



Monday, May 29, 2017

The New Kid on the Heartwarming Block

Hi there! I’m one of the new kids on the Heartwarming block, having moved into the Harlequin village in March. Given that Harlequin is global, I suppose I should say ‘metropolis’, except it feels way more like a small town with the way fellow Heartwarmers have cyber-strolled over with their introductions and welcomes, and have invited me into their circle of doings and get-togethers.

Like many an author of clean, contemporary romances, my stories too are set in a small town, specifically the one I actually live in. I moved to it twelve years ago to raise my kids, and their dad and I agree that it was the best decision ever. We moved here on the cusp of a boom here in Alberta, and the population has nearly doubled since then. Still, it remains family-grounded, community-minded, and with its clean and open lake, picturesque.

I’ve changed the town’s name to Spirit Lake and all the people in my stories are my invention but the town itself is perfect for my stories, so perfect that I use it just the way it is, practically street for street, business for business. Yes, yes, I also admit that I lack the imagination to recreate an entirely fictional town.

Soooo…I thought I’d show you my town and what will become your town in 2018 when my three stories are released. Come walk with me and my trusty iPad on a Saturday evening in late May in a small town somewhere in central Alberta….

Let's start with your tour guide: me.






A few blocks on is one of the many walking paths that wend through the town.





Street (with ubiquitous black truck), another walking path and a the railroad track. We've had three derailments right in town in the twelve years I've been here. Go figure.


At the end of the walking path and off to the right is our palatial Town Hall and grounds. I intentionally captured the playground because it existed before the Hall and municipal blueprints had to build around it.


And swinging in the opposite direction is the downtown. Usually there are gorgeous hanging baskets up. Hmmm....maybe they'll be there in time for the town's June Days festivities.



This is the town's pride and joy, with a grand opening earlier this month. Our recreation/sports plex. The shorter attached area to the right of the entrance (you see just a slice of it)  is the new meeting room for weekly bingo.

And even though it's a warm summer evening, inside Canada's favorite obsession continues. Yes, hockey training camp.




I was trying for a pic of a man with his two dogs on another walking path opposite when these two vehicles crossed in front. Now, we have a man with his two dogs in a truck.


A longstanding watering hole here. Motorbikes, pedal bikes, a taxi and trucks. Note the tattooed woman and old-timer chatting. I know, tiny, tiny. 


And finally, The Lake. 

Fishing off the pier.


A sense of the shoreline, where the lake meets the town. On Canada Day, July 1, the grass can't be seen for slowly roasting human flesh. 

While uploading these pics, I realized all the good ones I didn't take. Next time, right? Meanwhile, connect me with below or at my website or my Facebook page . Have a bright, safe day!


Saturday, May 27, 2017

Sit Down Saturday with Leigh Riker



Welcome to another Sit Down Saturday! Today we’re celebrating Last Chance Cowboy by Leigh Riker.

So, Leigh, where did you get the idea for this novel?

This is the second book in my Kansas Cowboys miniseries, and actually it came from The Reluctant Rancher, the first book. As soon as that hero’s friend and neighbor, Grey Wilson, showed up at the Circle H in Chapter 3, I knew Grey needed his own story.

Here’s a peek: Rancher Grey Wilson has fought hard to rebuild his life in the ten years since that horrible night Shadow Moran left, the night their love, their families, their whole town was torn apart by tragedy. And he’s almost succeeded. But now that Shadow is back in Barren, everything seems to be going wrong. The family ranch his father entrusted to him is struggling. Worse, Shadow still blames him for what happened that night, and Grey’s starting to have his own doubts about his innocence. Then Shadow reveals a secret that shakes him to his core…

In looking at the cover, if you could add a caption, what would it say?



Well, just look at this cover! It doesn’t need a caption, but…maybe Lonesome Cowboy.  I absolutely love the cover—and would like to give Grey a hug.

This is your 19th novel. Exactly what does that mean to you?

That math was never my best subject! Every time I’m asked this question, I start counting titles on my fingers because I can never remember the number. Maybe that’s because I don’t have a favorite book; they’re all my babies and I can’t separate them.

What are you working on now?

I just finished Cowboy On Call, the third book in this series, a November release from Heartwarming, and I can’t wait to see its cover. Right now I’m writing a Christmas novella: Mistletoe and Holly will be part of this year’s Heartwarming Holiday Wishes boxed set by ten fabulous authors in a return to the ever-popular Christmas Town, Maine.

What are you reading for pleasure?

I’m halfway through Guilty Minds, Joseph Finder’s thriller. I love his books. And I just finished My Not So Perfect Life by Sophie Kinsella. She writes such flawed but adorable characters, and this one was a real pleasure to read.

Thanks for dropping by today. I hope you all enjoy Last Chance Cowboy and the rest of the Kansas Cowboys miniseries. There’s just time to take advantage of a special offer. Until the end of May, you can use the KCOWBOY30 checkout code on http://www.harlequin.com for a 30 per cent discount on either Kansas Cowboys title!










Friday, May 26, 2017

What Lies Ahead




I am free.  Really.  Free!  No, I haven’t been imprisoned, although living in the recliner while I healed from knee-replacement surgery was a sort of jail.  Had lots of visitors, however, and, thanks to friends and neighbors, we had more food than Safeway, so, all in all, not a bad few weeks.

Then Physical Therapy started coming.  Therapists are fun people.  Sweet, charming, and encouraging, but when you have to flex and bend a knee that’s been rudely treated in surgery, you hate to see them coming.  They literally get you to the point of screaming, then pat your back, cluck over you, and tell you firmly, “Now do that ten more times.”  

When I was finally on foot about three weeks later, therapists stopped coming to my home and I went to them for PT.  Same kind of people.  Handsome or cute, kind and caring, but with zero concern for the fact that I was turning purple and writhing on the floor as they worked to restore my knee's 120-degree flex.  

But it's thanks to them that I’m now walking the dog,  going to town, and am completely astonished by how well the surgery and the therapy worked.  I have no pain.   I have one more PT session next Tuesday, then I’m sure I’ll be released.  I’ve lost about 5% flexibility, but at 72, I doubt I’ll be dancing the Hopak anytime soon.
.
Aaaand, for the first time since fall of 1983, I’m not on a deadline.  Do you believe it?  I’m officially retired.  I did AAs for Victoria on the August book, A New Year's Wedding, while I was recovering, so now I'm ... Free!  It's a weird but wonderful feeling after all these years.

I’ve begun the great purge of 659 15th St., 2 floors and a basement of 1000 sq.ft. each.  Not an enormous house, but we have been here for 41 years.  I’ve dreamed of having time to do this.  I’ve bought plastic totes for what I’m saving, leaf bags for what I’m throwing away, and clearing a spot to put things I’m saving for a garage sale.  A dumpster is arriving at the end of July and will live in front of the house for two weeks.  By that time, I may have to be dug out of it.

Ron and I aren’t going anywhere.  Ron's doing very well, though absolutely everything he wants or needs to do now requires me, and I'm fine with that.  We still have more fun together than anyone should be allowed. It has crossed my mind, though, that if we had to make a sudden move, I wouldn’t want anyone else to have to deal with my thousands of books, or Ron’s family’s art work.

I was feeling very pure about the cleaning up when our niece arrived with a truckload she’d brought from L.A. of items she’d rescued from Ron’s older brother’s home.  We were thrilled, of course, to have things from the family home, but our living room now looks like Filene’s Basement on sale day.  My tidying progress has been set back at least a week, but we do have a framed sampler made by Ron’s Danish grandmother in 1886 when she was ten years old.  Her name was Gertrude Marie.  Though I'm no longer writing, I don't seem to be able to turn off the plotting factor.  That was always my weakest skill, but I can see Gertrude's face in my mind's eye, watch her sit under a tree with her needlework, flirt with a handsome shop-keeper who was Ron's grandfather.

Even dedicated to the cleanup, I can stop in front of our dining room window with its wonderful view of the Columbia River and watch the ships or the birds because my conscience isn’t saying, “You should be writing.”  I can walk Claire and go a few extra blocks because she’s having such a good time and be relaxed about it because I don’t have to write ten pages that day.  I can sit on the porch with someone else’s book instead of my laptop and not worry about how much time I’m taking because it doesn’t matter!  I’m free!

I’m so happy for all of you who are still engaged and driven by the need to write.  That period in my life was such an exciting  time for me and I loved being work obsessed.  Now that I have to be home-obsessed, I'm good with it.  I will always be a writer, even if I’m not writing.  

Now, much of my energy will go into pulling for all of you.  Those of you affected by the changes at Harlequin, try not to be frightened by them.  Things come and go in publishing just like any other business – some things work and some things don’t, but a hard-working writer will find employment.   Business is cruel in demanding your heart and soul, then discarding them when numbers are on the line.  Unfortunately, it’s always worked that way and probably always will.
 
Thanks, all of you, for allowing me the fun of getting to know you and your work.  It’s truly humbling to have been in such skilled and supportive company.  It’s possible this course I’ve taken will change one day, but for now, I’m hearing music in my head rather than words.  It’s Louis Armstrong singing, “What a Wonderful World.” 




Thursday, May 25, 2017

Welcome to Anchorage

By Beth Carpenter

My first Harlequin, THE ALASKAN CATCH, takes place in my home of Anchorage, Alaska. I’ve spent the last  few weeks in Arizona, but by the time you read this, I’ll be back in Anchorage.  I can hardly wait. When I left in early April, it still looked like this.



 But now it’s almost summer, and summer in Alaska is special. Today, the sun rose at 4:46 AM and will set at 11:08 PM. In between it’s never truly dark, just twilight. My flowers love the long days and cool temperatures.






















So do cabbages.



I’ll see some old friends.













And avoid others.




There will be time to get downtown for a little shopping or to visit galleries and museums.








And I'll enjoy the outdoors. This is Winner Creek, over in Girdwood, which is technically part of Anchorage. There’s a great path from the ski area through the woods that leads to a hand tram over the creek.




















And if past years are any indication, before I know it the fireweed will be blooming, which is the sign that summer is almost over.




So many people have told me, “I came to Alaska for one summer, and never left.” Dana, the heroine in my book, plans a quick trip Alaska to find her brother, but she starts to fall in love with the place, as well as … oops, I’d better not give too much away.  The book comes out in August, but it’s available for pre-order now.


Amazon    Barnes & Noble    Kobo    Google Play    iBooks   

To learn more, you can subscribe to my newsletter, or find me on Facebook or Twitter.

What are your plans for the summer? 

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Spring Fever

Posted by Lee McKenzie and Janice Carter

Too much rain and flooding in southern Ontario and colder-than-average temperatures on Vancouver Island have delayed gardening season this year. With springtime finally strutting her stuff, Lee and Janice are anxious to get outdoors and get their hands dirty.

Lee:
I live on Canada’s beautiful west coast where it seldom snows and things stay green all year, so I always feel a little guilty when I complain about the weather. But the cool temperatures and grey skies we’ve had this spring have caused a lot of grumbling among the island’s avid gardeners. Recently, our (im)patience has finally been rewarded with blue skies and warm weather.

Strawberries were one of the first things I planted. Handy Man built this raised bed for me, and this will be the first year we’ve had them in our garden. We’ve also planted rhubarb, so I foresee some yummy pies and fruit crisps later this summer.

Lee’s raised strawberry bed
Janice, I know you’ve had some “interesting” weather as well. What’s happening in your part of the country?

Janice:
“Interesting” is an understatement, Lee. According to the weather pundits, southern Ontario had more rain in April than the entire year before. Well, that may be arguable, but we Canadians do like to tell our weather stories, don’t we? The unusual rainfall sated the rivers, creeks and streams flowing into the Great Lakes which fed into Lake Ontario. Our cottage on Garden Island is situated at the junction of Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River, and this narrowing caused a lot of flooding. Normally we arrive on the island in early May to plant our veggie gardens but this year, we were unable to reach the island due to this.

Flooding on Garden Island
Those barrels in the photo are holding down the remnants of docks that haven`t (yet) floated away. Fortunately some repair had enabled us to access portions of the dock and we finally got started on our gardens.

Lee:
Omigosh, Janice! The old adage, “a picture is worth a thousand words,” has never been truer. We should never underestimate the power of Mother Nature, should we? So glad to hear your gardens are high and dry again, but I hope there wasn’t too much property damage.

On my side of the country, we’ve been lucky enough to hold onto some of last year’s crops, like this flowering kale.

Last summer’s kale flowering in Lee’s garden
It’s hardy enough to withstand cool west coast winter weather, even a little snow from time to time, and I get to harvest it year round. It flowers in the springtime, and bees—those friendly pollinators—love it! It will soon be replaced with new starts, and I have to say I’ll be a little sad to see the end of all those sunny yellow flowers. We also grow bush beans, beets, potatoes (red and fingerling), tomatoes, onions, peppers, and a variety of lettuces and herbs. I also scatter tomato plants throughout flower beds that get lots of sunshine.

What do you plant in your veggie garden, Janice?

Janice:
We plant the usual kitchen garden veggies too, and I keep my herbs in pots on the cottage deck for easy access. The main garden is in the meadow in the center of the island. As you can see, it`s still a work in progress.

Janice’s garden on Garden Island
Every year we try something new. One of our recent discoveries was tomatillos, which flourished to the point of taking over the whole garden. But roasted, they made great salsa verde and sauce for Las Carnitas, Mexican-style pulled pork. Another year we had poblano peppers. We also like eggplants, though they can be finicky. But full disclosure here, Lee. I`m not the gardener in the family—my husband is and he`s always finding new and exotic plants like haskap berries that produce a blueberry-type fruit. In spite of the late start, I`ve no doubt we`ll have some kind of garden this year.

My sister-in-law, though, not so much. Her garden was a tad too close to the shoreline and I doubt she`ll be able to resurrect it.

A “lakeside” garden
On a final note, we`re still enjoying the daffodils in the meadow—all planted by same Type A husband!

Daffodils in the meadow...a sure sign of spring!
Say, I don`t suppose you`d send along a recipe for that strawberry-rhubarb crumble.

Lee:
I’m happy to share! Scroll down for the recipe for my favorite fruit crisp.

I love your meadow garden, Janice, and especially the daffodils that appear to be growing wild. Sad to see your sister-in-law’s garden, though. That would definitely bring on a bout of spring fever.

My garden is a little more structured than yours, Janice. I love to collect vintage garden ornaments to tuck in odd corners and amongst the plants. The latest addition is this quirky concrete gnome. It might not be easy to see, but he’s feeding a little bird he’s holding in one hand.

Happiness is a vintage garden gnome
And the focal point of our garden is the folly that Handy Man built about eight years ago. We wanted a shady area to sit and entertain, so he designed this based on a photo I had seen in a magazine.

Lee's folly
Janice, I would love to invite you for tea, along with our fellow Heartwarming authors and our wonderful readers. Since that's not possible, I'll share my fruit crisp recipe with all of you.
Lavender-Flavored Fruit Crisp

3 cups blueberries
1 cup cranberries
1/2 to 1 teaspoon food-grade lavender
3/4 cup granulated sugar

3/4 cup oatmeal
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup chopped pecans (or chopped cashews, thinly sliced almonds, etc.)

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Stir together the blueberries, cranberries, lavender and sugar, and pour the mixture into a lightly buttered 8-inch-square ovenproof pan.

To make the topping, combine the oatmeal, flour, brown sugar and nuts. Use a pastry blender to cut the butter into the oatmeal-flour mixture.

Sprinkle the topping in an even layer over the fruit.

Bake for about 25 minutes, until filling is bubbly. Cool slightly and serve warm.

Lee’s note: Blueberries and cranberries are chockablock with antioxidants, but any combination of fruit—strawberries and rhubarb or raspberries, blackberries and peaches—is delicious.
Happy reading, everyone! And happy gardening!

Until next time,
Janice and Lee

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








Lee McKenzie
www.LeeMcKenzie.com
His Best Friend's Wife
Harlequin Heartwarming, January 2017

Monday, May 22, 2017

What Do You Do After The End?

by 
Patricia Johns & Patricia Bradley

Patricia Bradley here. I am about two days away from sending a completed manuscript to my editor and dreaming of what I plan to do once it's off. Just now, the other Patricia emailed me, and I asked her what she usually did when she finished a book. 

And then the lightbulb went off. This sounds like a blog post! So we brainstormed, and here are the results. 

Patricia Bradley on how she celebrates finishing a book:

After I hit send, I take a deep breath. Then, I do a Snoopy dance.

And then reality hits as I look at the lonnnnng to-do list of things I've put off while finishing the book. But there is such a sense of satisfaction of having completed something. 

Some days when the words are flowing I have to pinch myself to make sure I'm not dreaming that I actually get paid to do something I love. Other days, when writing is like pulling teeth, I wonder if I've totally lost my mind. But in the end, I remember that I'm living my dream. And once the book is done, I start thinking about the next one. 

Patricia Johns on how she celebrates finishing a book:

After I type "The End," I have a brief sense of satisfaction, followed by feelings of panic. And while you might not think that panic is in order, IT IS! Here are the reasons:

1. The rough draft needs work. Lots of work. I can already feel it's imperfections waving at me, and I'm anxious to get polishing, even though I don't have the creative energy for that yet.

2. I have the urge to start another book, even though the editing on this one isn't finished yet, so I have a feeling of being left "workless," which is not a comfortable feeling.

3. When you rouse yourself from your manuscript, you are faced with real life, and there's a bit of adjustment time there. I feel a mixture of loneliness for human contact and social anxiety. I'll do something weird, I  just know it! I'll be too friendly in the grocery store or something. As an author, you control all the characters. In real life, that's frowned upon. 

But still, typing "The End" is very satisfying, and I do keep my surge of panic under control. It's all part of the process, and I LOVE this job!

So, that's what it's like for the two Patricia's. If you're a writer, what do you do when you finish a book?

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Sit Down Saturday with T.R. McClure

Did you ever want something really, really badly, and then after you got it thought...now what? It's a little bit like a dog chasing his tail. Once he has the tip in his mouth, he slows down and looks confused.

The same thing happens to Wendy Valentine in An Allegheny Homecoming. You remember her from Wanted: The Perfect Mom. She's the reporter stuck in her small-town news station reporting the weather. The weather! She been looking for a big story to catapult her into the big time ever since.

Enter Josh Hunter. He's Sue Campbell Hunter's son. Sue owns The Cookie Jar and hasn't been the friendliest person to be around for the last year or so. She considers her son a hero. But Josh doesn't. Despite years of helping fellow soldiers as a medic, he is unable to rid himself of the guilt brought about by an accident. A crime that nobody knows about. Traveling the world as a soldier, he avoids his home town. Unable to return, unable to face the truth about what he did.


But he has a story and Wendy Valentine is hot on his heels. How far will she go to achieve her dream? What happens when she "catches" her big story?

Josh left home as soon as he graduated high school. He came home once in the last eight years and couldn't escape the feeling everyone in town knew what he had done. So he leaves again, until family troubles force his return.

Do we ever escape the events of the first twenty or so years of our lives? A half century can pass and yet we can't seem to forget incidents, good or bad, that happened then. Is it possible to let those memories go? Some people can compartmentalize. They put their negative memories on a shelf, walk away, and lock the door. Maybe they pull them out once in a while for a teaching moment. I guess that's the bottom line. What have we learned? After all, life is supposed to be about growth, at any age.

In the end, Josh returns home and is forced to confront his past. Is he forgiven? How else can he move forward when he's always looking back?

Return to Bear Meadows with Josh Hunter and Wendy Valentine.
As always, enjoy the read!
T.R.

Friday, May 19, 2017

CHOICES by Sophia Sasson

I’ve been making a lot of choices lately; everything from whether to make a career change to what color towels I want in my newly renovated master bathroom. My sister is getting married and I have the great pleasure of being her matron of honor. Should the bridesmaids dresses be red or maroon? Flowers or candles? Veil or no veil? I have a really bad case of decision fatigue.

So much so that my when contractor installed these blue glass knobs on my bathroom cabinet and asked whether I liked them, I couldn’t answer. Maybe you guys can help me out. Do they look out of place on the gray cabinet? Do they detract from the blue sink or is it just the right pop of color?

My decision fatigue is due to exhaustion but it got me thinking about how people make life changing decisions in the most emotionally charged, life altering situations. The worst that can happen with my blue knobs is I hate it and change it in the future. But what if during this time, I meet the love of my life and can’t decide whether that’s the right choice. Unlike my knobs, I can’t just let it go. Can I?

That’s the choice the heroes and heroines of our romance novels make all the time. And perhaps because I was writing The Sergeant's Temptation during an incredibly volatile time in my own life, the book focuses on impossible choices.

So here they are; Luke Williams (for loyal fans, it’s the same Luke Williams from Mending the Doctor’s Heart) and Alessa Parrino. Lieutenant Luke Williams is the anti-military Army man who needs the Army to complete a secret mission. Alessa is the Army sergeant who can kick any man to the floor but can’t kick out the demons of her past. The Army is her life, the only thing that’s ever mattered to her. Recovering from a prior scandal, she can’t afford even the hint of a blemish on her reputation. As most of you know, romance between a commander and his soldier is grounds for court martial. So is the temptation worth everything they’d have to give up?

This is not exactly like a blue knob choice. If either of their feelings get known, their careers are over. Is love really worth giving up the only life they've known? What if it doesn't work out? And is it truly love? While they are deployed to Pakistan, it’s hard to know how much of it is real and how much is just the raw power of the highly charged circumstances they’re in.

It was a really fun book to write and I hope you enjoy reading it when it comes out in August. I'll give you more details in my July post but if you can't wait,   I love hearing from readers so email me at Sophia at SophiaSasson.com, feel free to sign up for my newsletter or follow me on Twitter or Facebook.

But right now, what I really want to know is what you think of my blue knobs and whether you are facing a blue knob choice yourself? A decision that you just can’t make! Thank you for sharing.


--Sophia