Sunday, July 30, 2017

And the winner is . . . !

If you visit our blog regularly or interact with us through our social media platforms, you know that we--Catherine Lanigan, Syndi Powell, Cari Lynn Webb and Kate James--have been celebrating our July releases and running a giveaway all month long. Now it's time to announce our winner!

As a reminder, this is our prize pack . . .
The prize pack contains: From Catherine Lanigan: a "Romancing the Tome" tote and two autographed books. From Kate James: an aqua cross-body bag, "Dreamer Extraordinaire" charm bookmark and two autographed books. From Syndi Powell: an autographed book and breast cancer ribbon notebook and pen. From Cari Lynn Webb: an autographed book and charm bracelet.

And our winner is . . . Lori S. of Bartlett, IL. Congratulations, Lori! We hope you'll enjoy your prize pack!

July Heartwarming Giveaway!
Huge thanks to everyone who participated. We'll leave you with a final look at our July releases, before Beth Carpenter, Muriel Jensen, Sophia Sasson and Anna J. Stewart take over with their August books. We want to offer a special shout-out to Beth, since her book, The Alaskan Catch, is her debut!

Happy reading!

Catherine, Cari, Syndi and Kate

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Catherine Lanigan’s Family of His Own

Purchase Links: Amazon © Harlequin © Barnes & Noble©  Kobo

© © ©

Syndi Powell's Afraid to Lose Her

Purchase Links: Amazon © Harlequin © Barnes & Noble

© © ©

Cari Lynn Webb's The Charm Offensive

Purchase Links: Amazon © Harlequin © Barnes & Noble © iTunes

© © ©

Kate James's Home to Stay

Purchase Links: Amazon © Harlequin © Barnes & Noble © iTunes © Chapters/Indigo

© © ©

Saturday, July 29, 2017



What does the back cover say?
       Border patrol agent Desmond Jackson would gladly take a bullet for his partner. Instead, it’s Detroit border patrol agent Sherri Lopez who ends up wounded in a drug raid…then
blindsided by a shocking diagnosis. The woman Dez secretly loves is a warrior now in a fight for
her life. Strong and independent, Sherri won’t let anything defeat her—or let herself rely on Dez. Doesn’t she realize how good they are together? All Dez knows is he can’t lose her…or the friendship that’s slowly evolving into something even more precious.

Where did you get the idea for "Afraid to Lose Her"?
       When I was diagnosed with breast cancer in November of 2014, I sought out books that dealt with my illness. Because I deal with life through the lens of stories, I especially looked for fiction about women who were diagnosed and dealing with the same issues that I was. I read as much as I could so I would have a better idea of what to expect. (Disclaimer: No matter how much you read or prepare, you have no clue what it will be like).
       Even as I was going through treatment, I knew I wanted to write about my experience but I figured it would be more of a memoir. Remembering how I'd searched for fiction on breast cancer, I changed my direction and came up with the Hope Center Stories, three books about women in different stages of treatment.
       This first book is what happens when you hear the word cancer and how it changes your plans. Like me, Sherrita Lopez is thrown for a loop. She's a strong independent woman who has trouble accepting help from family and friends. And  Dez Jackson is the man who is determined to love her through it.

What is your favorite scene?
       Ugh, this is a tough question. I used a lot of my own experience to pepper details throughout the story and those tend to be my favorites. (Look for the bright orange hoodie!) Plus, I fell in love with Dez while I was writing so I enjoy any scene he's in.
       However the scene where Sherri gets her head shaved has a special place in my heart. I was lucky enough to not have to go through chemo and lose my hair, but I remember my mom volunteering to shave her head with me if I had to. That stayed with me, so that scene is a tribute to my mom and her strength throughout my treatment.

What's up next for you?
       Book 2 in the Hope Center Stories, Healing Hearts, comes out February 2018. It's about April, a woman who has just finished treatment. When she was sick, she created a list of things she'd do if she got a second chance. As she works through her list, she keeps running into Zach who rubs her the wrong way. But they just might be able to heal together.

A last fun note: I lived in this orange hoodie for months during treatment, and it's still one of my favorite things to wear when I'm feeling a little blue or need a shot of comfort. In this book, they have to practically peel it off Sherri because it gives her the same comfort it gave me.

Friday, July 28, 2017


As a resident of Southern Arizona my greatest concern about building a solid border wall is the effect it will have on natural, long-time wildlife corridors. The growth of urban areas has led to an ever-increasing lessening of wildlife habitats. Because migration routes and areas where mountain lions, bear, wolves and even coyotes hunt life-sustaining food has of necessity moved farther afield. Their range has spread to thinner areas of open forests, deserts and across state and country borders. Any solid barrier is a sad additional hindrance for our ever challenged, decreasing wildlife.

The National Wildlife Federation set aside an Urban Wildlife Week in Los Angeles, California last year. And they had another in Seattle, Washington from May 1st through 6th this year.

The first recognition came about because NWF partners and staff became aware of, and traced the path of a banded mountain lion who crossed two busy freeways to settle in Griffith Park, one of the country’s largest urban parks in the heart of busy southern California.

This trek brought to attention the need for safe corridors which will allow animals the ability to live and hunt successfully in our developed landscapes.

In this area our Native American tribe whose reservation crosses from Arizona into Mexico is against building a solid, high wall across their land where animals from small to large freely roam, and where they often cross to join family or harvest saguaro fruit. Many fear they are fighting a losing battle.

However, the Annenberg Foundation, the Boeing Company and others who supported the first Urban Wildlife Week have taken personal action to ensure people and wildlife can coexist in and around cities. They are shining a light on the risk of fragmenting habitats creating needless wildlife population declines due to blocked natural corridors of animal travel.

A few years ago I watched a mama mountain lion take refuge in our back yard with her two cubs for a period of three days while she tried to teach them how to climb our tree and scale the walls that here are around most homes. She caught birds and I suppose any field mice to keep them fed. I loved having the ringside seat from my office window to observe her progress in getting all of them out of our back yard and into one of the washes that I hope led them to safer, better hunting. What it did was highlight to me the need to keep some areas open and free for such gorgeous animals to travel.

Wildlife in the City is a program designed to gather resources and information on helping link city parks, backyards, office parks with other open spaces to ensure the survival of wildlife that are an essential component of our ecosystem. With so many calls on our money and time, it’s grown increasingly more difficult to help wild animals thrive outside of zoos.

I personally think it will be a sad day if we spend billions of dollars closing off our southern border which to date has kept endangered species like the Mexican Gray Wolf and almost extinct jaguar alive in their cross-country hunting expeditions. I hope people who read this won’t judge my comments as political. I believe it helps to voice concerns.

Thursday, July 27, 2017


When I was three, my family went to Padre Island for spring break. According to my parents, I ran into the water just as a wave rolled in. It picked me up, flipped me over, and set me back down on the wet sand. For the rest of the trip, they didn’t have to worry about me getting too close to the ocean.

I don’t remember that incident, but it may have shaped my feelings about the ocean. I enjoy beaches and I like snorkeling or sailing – as long as the water’s smooth – but I never feel entirely comfortable with bodies of water so big I can’t see across them.

Lakes and rivers are more my style. I like to see the shoreline, to watch the plants and animals along the way. I like the canyons formed by rivers, exposing layers and layers of natural history. And I like the way rivers act as a natural highway. If you look at a map, you’ll notice people have always tended to settle along rivers.

Last summer, my husband and I floated the Kenai River a couple of hours south of Anchorage. Some of the streams that feed into the Kenai are glacial runoff, which turns the Kenai a deep turquoise blue. 

My husband is a fisherman, but I just went along to enjoy the day. The salmon weren’t running and the water was high, but it was a beautiful day to fly-fish and eventually he landed a rainbow trout. Trout are catch and release on the Kenai, which meant I didn’t have to cook it. Win/win. 

 My first Heartwarming, The Alaskan Catch, comes out in five days – not that I’m counting or anything. Water is a theme in this book. On their first day together, Sam and Dana go kayaking on a lake in Anchorage. Later, they hike up a creek to find wild swans. And finally, Sam takes Dana on a fly-in float trip where she faces unexpected challenges. Along the way, Dana discovers reservoirs of strength and courage she never knew she had.

Where life's currents take you… 
Dana Raynott just traveled 3,600 miles to reunite with the brother who changed his name and fled to Alaska nineteen years ago. It's impossible not to be moved by this wild, breathtaking state, even if Dana's no closer to finding the answers she came here for. 
Her brother's best friend, Anchorage engineer Sam MacKettrick, might be able to help her. He's strong and kind—a six-foot, irresistible blend of diverse cultures. He's also haunted by a tragic family history with a startling connection to Dana's past…

Amazon    Barnes & Noble    Kobo    Google Play    iBooks     Harlequin

Need a little mystery in your life? To celebrate our upcoming releases, the August Heartwarming authors have put together a mystery giveaway for our readers with four different prizes. I don’t know what’s in all the packages, but it’s bound to be something special. ENTER HERE! 

So how do you like your water? Ocean, lake, pond, river, or creek? Or do you prefer dry land?

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Our July Celebration Continues!

We--Catherine Lanigan, Syndi Powell, Cari Lynn Webb and Kate James--have been celebrating all month long . . . and the month isn't over yet!

As a reminder, here are our July releases . . .

Catherine Lanigan’s Family of His Own

Purchase Links: Amazon © Harlequin © Barnes & Noble©  Kobo

© © ©

Syndi Powell's Afraid to Lose Her

Purchase Links: Amazon © Harlequin © Barnes & Noble

© © ©

Cari Lynn Webb's The Charm Offensive

Purchase Links: Amazon © Harlequin © Barnes & Noble © iTunes

© © ©

Kate James's Home to Stay

Purchase Links: Amazon © Harlequin © Barnes & Noble © iTunes © Chapters/Indigo

© © ©

Now that you've allowed us to share our book information with you (again!), we'd like to remind you about our giveaway! Here is a picture of the prize pack (butterfly not included! :)):

The prize pack contains: From Catherine Lanigan: a "Romancing the Tome" tote and two autographed books. From Kate James: an aqua cross-body bag, "Dreamer Extraordinaire" charm bookmark and two autographed books. From Syndi Powell: an autographed book and breast cancer ribbon notebook and pen. From Cari Lynn Webb: an autographed book and charm bracelet.

Entering is easy! You can comment on this post, tweet about our giveaway or visit our July Heartwarming box set on Amazon.

July Heartwarming Giveaway!
The more often you enter, the better your chances to win! The contest is open until end of day July 29th. We will announce the winner on this blog on July 30th.

Huge thanks, once again, to everyone who reads our books. Happy reading!

Catherine, Cari, Syndi and Kate

Monday, July 24, 2017

When Under Pressure

The two Patricia's here! Patricia B (that's me) knows you're not supposed to put an apostrophe after our names, but really? It looks so odd without it. 

If I sound a little stressed, it could be because I'm under deadline. Two of them. I don't know how people with more than two live, but I've heard it happens more often than I realize. 

And lately, I haven't seen much daylight. A friend complained about the ninety-nine-degree weather yesterday and I had no idea. My dungeon is a cool seventy-five degrees.

To top it off, I've gained five pounds even though I spend an hour at the gym five days a week. But that hour doesn't make up for the other eight to nine hours sitting at a computer.

And don't get me started on turning down friends when they call and ask me to meet them for lunch. That is if they could get through. Lately, I've been disconnecting my phones and shutting down the internet. 

So if it's so hard, why do I do it? I get asked that a lot because I could retire and live a life of leisure. I even have friends who ask why I tie myself to a computer like I do when I could be traveling or lying on the sofa reading and eating bonbons. 

Because I can't not. If that makes any sense. Even when getting the story on paper is like pulling a mule's tooth, I love it. I don't want to do anything else. Not even the sofa deal. And can't you just see how much weight that would add? 

Gotta go! The story won't write itself.

Patricia Johns

When I'm on deadline, I lose friends. Or I would, if they were less understanding. I tend to disappear for long periods of time, cancel plans on people when I'm not done as quickly as I thought I'd be, and generally ignore the outside world. 

When I go to the library to work, I put my head down and speed walk to the back where there is a quiet area to set up my computer so that I don't stop to chat with people I know. (I live in a pretty small place!) And I'm always rather worried that I'm offending people because when someone literally runs away from you, it can seem a little rude, no? 

So when I'm on deadline, I post broad apologies on Facebook saying things like, "I'm working on a manuscript, so please forgive me for hiding under a rock." 

And I'm currently on deadline... under my rock. 

So, Heartwarming readers, what do you do when you're under pressure, or deadline?

Friday, July 21, 2017

Turning Up the Heat in Sweet Romance by Sophia Sasson

What I love about the heartwarming line is the sweet nature of the romance. It allows us authors to focus on the characters and their stories. But it does present a challenge for me; how do I give readers the little stomach flutters that come from experiencing the character’s physical relationship. My favorite source of inspiration---Bollywood.  

Bollywood movies have strong romantic elements and until the last decade, explicit physical contact was not culturally appropriate for the screen. The screen writers of the older Bollywood movies used subtle ways to show intimacy. It helps that all of the movies are musicals for that added dimension of surreal romance.

Okay for the fun of it, lets watch a video to see what I’m talking about. The clip is from the movie Dilwale and the song is called Gerua. I’ve recently been obsessed with it not just because it was shot in Iceland (a place on my travel list), but because it literally sweeps you away.

This is why I love Bollywood videos, there is barely a kiss, the hero and heroine are fully dressed, and yet I can feel the love and intimacy between the couple---a rub of  his chin in her hair, the exhale of her breath on his ear and you can feel the tingles in your arms. It’s this close emotional intimacy that  makes the  heartwarming series so special. The line is sweet but as the editors constantly remind me, that doesn’t mean it has to be nice. 

So I’ve explored various ways to ratchet up that emotional intimacy.  

And then the Sergeant’s Temptation gave me the perfect opportunity. Traditional flirtations were not going to work with my spit fire heroine, Sergeant Alessa Parrino. Alessa is no girly-girl. When she tries out for an elite Army unit, she kicks their best solider to the floor in a hand to hand combat exercise. So she’s not exactly the type to clutch her heart when a man gives her that smoldering look. Then my awesome editor, Claire Caldwell came up with the perfect idea to change a scene and here’s what came tapping out of my keyboard:

 “She’s made of titanium,” Dimples quipped, his characteristic smile lopsided as   he grabbed the side of his head that Alessa had slammed into the wall.
“Everyone has a weak spot, guys, and you need to find hers,” Luke said firmly.
“Oh, yeah? If you think it’s that easy, why don’t you do it?” Rodgers shot back. Alessa sensed that Rodgers had been a little hesitant on their second fight and she’d told him his fear was what made him an easy target. He’d been afraid of her based on their previous encounter, which made him tentative, and that hesitation would be the death of him in a real combat situation. She didn’t have the strength that the men did, so she got the better of them through lightning-fast moves.
“Yeah, Lieutenant, why don’t you show us grunts how it’s done,” Dimples jeered.
Alessa looked at Luke and smiled at the panic evident in his eyes. It would be fun to kick his rear end to the ground; put him in his place. She cracked her knuckles.
“What, you afraid to get whooped by a girl?” she taunted.
He narrowed his eyes then gestured to Alessa. Luke stepped onto the rubber mat and held the door while Alessa stepped across the threshold, unable to contain the smirk on her face. Luke closed the door behind him.
He stepped toward her. The guys wouldn’t be able to hear them with the door closed but he kept his voice low.
“Are you sure you want to do this?” he asked.

Of course not. Her stomach fluttered as she studied the stormy blues of his eyes. Fighting with someone meant close body contact. His proximity at the computer had been enough to supercharge her senses. Was she really ready for that again? He raised his brows, giving her a way out. All she had to say was no. She wasn’t required to do this training. After all, she was only the logistics person. Fighting him was a bad idea. A very bad idea.
“It’s on,” she said, chin raised.
His eyes darkened and he stepped back from her, his jaw set. There were no rules in this exercise. The idea was to take down your opponent by any means necessary using your bare hands. The rest of the team was watching intently behind the Plexiglas. Her gaze was laser focused on Luke.
Alessa’s martial arts training had drummed into her the importance of looking into the opponent’s eyes to anticipate his next move. It usually worked for her, but not this time. Looking into Luke’s eyes was like watching the swirls of a tornado. Get it together!
He wouldn’t make the first move. In a disciplined fight, offense was not always the best defense. If she moved first, it would give him time to react. He would get to decide whether to evade, block or retaliate. He’d be the one with the choices and she would give away her preferred fight mode. The movies often showed two adversaries circling each other ready to pounce, but neither of them did that. They stared at each other for what seemed like hours but was in fact mere seconds.
Luke wasn’t going to budge. Alessa had to make her move. She led with a kick, hoping to throw him off balance, but he was expecting it and blocked her deftly. She anticipated a counter punch, but it never came. She successfully twisted away from him and they were back in the face off.
He’d had the perfect opportunity to at least get a jab into her, and he hadn’t taken it. Why? While it was understood that they wouldn’t seriously injure each other in these exercises, everyone expected to walk away sore and bruised, including Alessa. The bruises would remind them of their weak spots so they could protect them better next time. Luke should have taken at least one punch.
Most people thought fighting was about power and speed. And it was. But it was also about messing with the opponent’s head. Faking left and going right was the simplistic version of that.
She inched closer to him. “You’ll regret pulling that punch,” she said, then jabbed at him with her fists.

I had a lot of fun writing this scene; how often do you get to write an equally matched hero and heroine fight each other and their attraction in such a physical way. Like the Gerua video, I also wanted a larger than life backdrop. So the book starts out in the U.S and then takes the elite unit to Pakistan and then across a dangerous border to Afghanistan. (PS—there is a making of Gerua video on youtube if you want to know how they got onto that iceberg).

I can’t leave without mentioning the #MysteryPrize giveaway that all of the August heartwarming authors are doing. Buy any of the four amazing August releases (or answer a question) to enter the giveaway.  

In addition, I have a goodreads and an amazon giveaway—all giveaway links are on my website. And yes please, enter all of them! In addition, if you buy a copy of the Sargeant’s Temptation before August 5th, please email me your receipt along with your postal address and I’ll send you this bag free.  

Before I end, onemore awesome Bollywood romantic video. This is from the movie Jodhaa Akbar, a period film about the sixteenth century Moghul emperor Akbar who marries a reluctant Hindu princess in order to firm his hold on Indian Territory but ends up falling in love with her. It’s a sweet video and you get to see an Indian palace (Agra Fort) that you can still tour today.

So tell me, what are some of your favorite sweet romance movies/books/TV shows?

Thursday, July 20, 2017

In the neighborhood...back then

Remembering summer...the way it was then.

So let's make the most of this beautiful day,
Since we're together, we might as well say,
Would you be mine?
Could you be mine?
Won't you be my neighbor?

- from Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood with thanks.

by Helen DePrima

Last week I saw a boy, maybe twelve or thirteen, riding a bicycle -- one boy, alone. He was carrying a backpack, maybe on the way to soccer practice or to a friend’s house to play video games.

Growing up at the raggedy margin between farmland and suburbia, I remember packs of boys on bikes riding endlessly after school or from early morning till dusk in the summer. The older kids might mow lawns or deliver newspapers, but mostly they just rode for the joy of the breeze in their faces and the reedy clatter of playing cards clipped to their bike spokes to mimic motor sounds.

Girls didn’t ride bikes. They could, of course, but they weren’t welcome to join the boys’ roving packs. Girls jumped rope or played hopscotch, rough patterns chalked on level driveways or in the middle of quiet streets. We all played croquet, killer games with whoops of glee at sending an opponent’s wooden ball into the neighbor’s yard or under a rose bush.

Cherokee Park - Louisville, KY
We climbed trees and built tree houses, flimsy platforms perfect for reading on a summer afternoon. A trip to Louisville’s Cherokee Park meant wading in Beargrass Creek and catching crawdads as they darted from one submerged limestone ledge to another; nobody warned us about salmonella or other pollutants, and most of us survived. My cousins and I rode our horses through woods and farm lanes, jumped bareback over logs and creeks, fell off and cracked bones and felt ourselves the luckiest kids in Kentucky.

Now the neighborhoods I drive through are too quiet, the streets too empty. I can spy pools in some back yards, securely fenced to prevent tragedy, but I rarely see children running and giggling in games whose rules only they understand. Maybe the notion of playing without scores or points or structure has been programmed out of kids, a sad loss to growing up.
by Liz Flaherty

Growing up on a farm made my experience a little different from Helen's, I guess. We all rode bikes, because that was the only way to hang out with people. The nearest neighbors were a quarter mile away, the nearest kid neighbors anywhere between a half mile and a mile and a half. My bicycle was a hybrid built from pieces and parts of my brothers' and their friends' old ones. It was my link to the life I wanted to live when I was old enough. 

Twenty-some years later, five miles from the farm where I grew up, my kids rode bicycles everywhere. They and their friends lived outside. The boys earned running around money by baling hay and detasseling corn. My daughter babysat. Things hadn't really changed all that much from my own childhood.

But they have now.

Ball Park - Denver, IN
I agree with Helen that neighborhoods are too quiet. Something seems to have been lost with the passage of time. The ball parks and playgrounds near us are still teeming with kids, but there is a major difference between now and then. Now those kids must be watched every minute because violence and drugs are as prevalent here in the cornfields as they are anywhere else and we're all scared to let the young ones we love out of our sight. 

There is, at least in our minds, safety in the technology that has become their playground.

Writing about this makes me grateful for the line of stories we write for. I admit that the neighborhoods in my Heartwarming books lean toward being more Utopian than can be counted on by even the most Pollyanna-ish among us. In my stories, the kids are always safe, being outside after dark is an important part of summer, and board games are the last word in entertainment. It's not that I live in the past (with typewriters and non-defrosting refrigerators? not me!) or even write about it, but I admit there are more parts of it I wish we'd brought into this century with us. Summertime on bicycles goes to the top of that list. Right along with Mr. Rogers.