Wednesday, January 31, 2018

I read this book and it changed my life @Liz Flaherty

Although I think we'd all like to change people's lives with the books we write, most of us are happy with changing an afternoon. I like nothing better than being told I've given a reader a good day. But I got to thinking...that's always an omen for a blog post, isn't it?

A book that changed my life was Little Women, because I knew when I read it that I wanted to write books when I grew up. Thinking about that made me wonder what titles had been life-changers for others, so I did the scientific thing--I took it to Facebook! Seventy-three individual responses later, here we are. I can't thank those respondents enough, and I'd love to use them all, but I can't. Here are a few un-scientific results.

  • Nancy Drew rocks!
  • Several of us thought we were Jo March--and here I thought it was just me.
  • Gene Stratton-Porter's influence is wide and varied. 
  • It is difficult to name just one. Some of the answers contained up to ten titles, and I understood that. We all know "just one book" is a joke no matter what the context.
  • Several of us loved Great Expectations, and not a one of us could explain why.
  • Jane Austen, Jane Austen, Jane Austen...
  • Anne Shirley was everyone's kindred spirit--I'll bet L. M. Montgomery would be proud.
There were answers I loved, though, ones I want to share here, in no particular order.

Anna Bednarski: Jane Eyre. There was something about her that was different than any other literary heroine I've ever come across. She was the center of her story, and she never deluded herself about her circumstances nor accepted them as fate.

Ellen Morse Schwartz: Death Be Not Proud by John Gunther. I read it as a young girl and learned about death. I think because I read it so young it instilled a realistic view of death and how I deal with it.

Patty Lawrence Sanai: To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee was the first book that impacted me and how I viewed things. Each time I read it I am impacted differently depending on my stage of life. When I first read it identified with the children but as I have aged the adult point of view is what keeps my interest.

Cheryl Reavis Maggie Davis's FAR SIDE OF HOME. Firstly (is that a word?), it was a Civil War mainstream historical, which I'd wanted to write ever since I was about 11 years old (i.e., THE PRISONER). And secondly, I thought Maggie's voice was something like mine--which made me think the impossible was possible and maybe I actually could get a book published. I first read it when I was in nursing school in the early 1960s, and then periodically thereafter to give myself hope. Later, when I was a published author, I happen to see in the newspaper where Maggie would be at a writers' conference in Raleigh, 2 1/2 hours away, and I made a special, impromptu trip to see her and get her to sign my well-worn-re-read copy of the book. I ran into her in a hallway and told her why I was pouncing on her. She was so gracious and didn't seem to mind that the book I wanted her to sign wasn't new. Sometime later, she told me that she had been feeling really low about her career that day and how much it lifted her spirits to know that I was carrying one of her books around with me like that and had made a special trip to come and see her.

Ann Friend: Imagine Heaven by John Burke. I read it after my granddaughter was killed and it helped me to have a better attitude toward physical death and the spirit. It was very healing for my heart and soul.

Kurt Schindler: Having just watched a documentary on him, I'm going to have to go with Armistad Maupin's Tales of the City books. There was a joy to reading them, and I really admired his simple style... However, my life philosophy is still based on the very first book I read: Go, Dog, Go. I'm forever trying to find the perfect hat to wear to a party in a tree. 

Lora Brothers Mathews: A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. The crushing poverty, the hope and loyalty, and the sensitive voice of Frannie. It cracked open my heart.

Linda Pearl: With a newborn baby in one hand and the book Will There Really Be a Morning, the bio of Frances Farmer, in the other, 46 years later, it still resonates.

Laura Stroud: My grandmother gave me the Anne of Green Gables set as a child. I would read them over and over. She said she gave them to me because I reminded her of Anne. Not the orphan part. The imaginative and mischievous parts. Being an only child, I had to be imaginative and find adventures to go on in the back yard. That sometimes led me to the mischievous parts. I still have the set of books! She also gave me my first book of Little Women. I now own many copies of this book. People over the years have given them to me as gifts because I would remind them of Jo.

Cathie Kahle: Trixie Belden series! They got me through my parents' divorce.
I was touched by some of the answers, as you can imagine. And I was thrilled, because not only were there 73 answers, there was discussion of books. Laughter. Thought. And I'm pretty sure I'm not the only one who cried.

I work in a library, where I'm not nearly busy enough. More people come in to use the computers and borrow movies than to read. Even there, I get raised eyebrows and the occasional curled lip because I write romance. It is discouraging sometimes. It makes me sad.

But when I work in the children's department, and a kid checks in ten and checks out ten more and tells me what they're about, I'm not sad at all. 

And when I ask a question on Facebook and 73 people answer it with thought and consideration, I'm not sad then, either. LoRee Peery's response to the question was Pollyanna. The Glad Girl. That was me. It changed my afternoon.

If you missed it on Facebook, the question I asked was this: To use in a blog post, would you mind sharing the title of a book that made a lasting impression on you or changed your life in some way? It doesn't have to be a favorite. For instance, mine is LITTLE WOMEN, because reading it made me know I was going to write books when I grew up.

What was yours?

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Hello Heartwarming from Jeannie Watt

Hello everyone!

I’m new to Heartwarming and thought I’d take advantage of this first blog to introduce myself. I’m excited to be a Heartwarming author! I’ve followed the line since its inception and I know quite a few authors writing for the line—including my best writer friend, Rula Sinara—so I feel right at home.

Over the past 11 years, I’ve written 22 Superromances and 4 Western Romances for Harlequin. My first Heartwarming, HER MONTANA COWBOY releases in August and it’s set in the same fictional Montana town as my Harlequin Western Romances. As you can imagine, I’m pretty excited for its release.

Since this is an introductory post, a little about me. I’m a north Idaho native who moved with her husband to northern Nevada for a one-month geology contract, and ended up staying for thirty years. You know, like people tend to do. While in Nevada, I taught school and lived in a historic ranching community. It was a beautiful place.

A cattle drive near my house in Nevada.
When we retired two years ago, we moved to my parents’ ranch in Montana, bought half of the herd and went into the cattle business. It's been a learning curve. Our friends and neighbors in Nevada were cattle people, but I mainly dealt with horses. I'm getting the hang of handling cattle, though. Important rule number one--respect them. 

Some of our girls. 

Checking fence in the winter.
When I’m not writing, I love to sew. I make Victorian costumes, vintage dresses and whatever else strikes my fancy. These are photos of costumes I made. The only things I didn't make are the cravat and the hats. My husband took the photos in Virginia City, Nevada. He's my in-house photo guy.

I’m starting to knit, and, like my editor, Johanna Raisanen, I make glass mosaics. It’s good to keep busy, right? I love watching old movies, 70’s and 80’s detective shows, and I own the entire Perry Mason collection.

And that’s me. It’s so good to be here!


Monday, January 29, 2018

Lightening the House by T.R. McClure

I searched the internet for the above term. I discovered how to prevent lightning from striking the house. I also got some sites for home lighting which makes sense, since I am in the process of replacing the outdoor lights on my home. And one about Lightning the Horse. I was looking for information on getting rid of clutter.

Marie Kondo, author of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, suggests we ask if an item sparks joy. If it doesn't, thank it for its service and let it go. Maybe I'm depressed, but none of the coats in my closet spark joy, even the ones I wear. But if sparking joy works for you, by all means, try it.

I prefer the phrase "lightening the house". Anytime I take a box to Goodwill, or give books to the library, I feel as if the house is lighter. Such a good feeling, but sometimes it is hard to give something up.

June Saruwatari, author of Behind the Clutter, recommends getting rid of one item at a time. That's more my style. Here are some suggestions.

This year at my writing group's Christmas party our moderator arranged a Yankee swap. Denise brought enough wrapped gifts for everyone in the group. The gifts (except for the five dollar bill) were books. She had cleared her bookshelves. Books she's owned and probably hasn't read for years. But the books were new to us. Great idea. And her house is lighter.

When I announced the game to my family over the holidays, my son in law informed me his family calls the game Dirty Santa. After I thought about it, I realized I'm not surprised his family doesn't call the game Yankee Swap. They're from Alabama.

Each winter there is a coat drive in our area. I peruse the closet. Each year I look at two leather jackets. Genuine leather! I leave them in the closet. This year I asked my daughters if they wanted their ten-year-old garments. They don't. The jackets don't fit me. They are on their way out the door.

I think.

I have a drawer full of jewelry I no longer wear. Not red carpet kind of jewelry, but Christmas and birthday present kind of jewelry. If I took the collection to the jeweler to weigh for gold, I might get a few dollars. Hardly worth the gas. On this one I'm looking for suggestions. What to do with old jewelry?

Last week I saw a news story about leather motorcycle jackets. On the Lower East Side of Manhattan in the late 1920s, the Schott family was the first to pair a leather jacket with a zipper. They called the motorcycle jacket "The Perfecto". The American classic was worn by the military, movie stars, and musicians. Marlon Brando wore a Schott jacket in "The Wild One".

I think of my husband's motorcycle jacket. Shrunk from being caught in numerous downpours on our two trips out west, the jacket has hung in the basement for years. I think maybe the label said either "Schott" or "Perfecto". I feel a spark of joy. I head to the basement.

The jacket is gone. I must have been lightening the house.

As always, enjoy the read!
T.R. McClure

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Sit Down Saturday with Virginia McCullough

Another Sit Down Saturday! Today we’re celebrating Virginia McCullough’s January release of Something to Treasure.  

So, Virginia, tell us a little about this novel. It’s part of your series, isn’t it?

It is. My January release is Book 2 of the Two Moon Bay series and features Dawn Larsen, who readers were introduced to in Girl in the Spotlight. As a loyal friend to Lark McGee, I knew she deserved her own story and now she has it. Jerrod Walters is a newcomer to town and meets Dawn even before he—and his boats—arrive and dock at the marina. Dawn and Jerrod get to know each other because she’s a successful public relations consultant and he’s launching a new location for his shipwreck diving and water tour business.  

Something to Treasure shows characters struggling with valuing the past, but then moving on despite their losses and even tragedies. Dawn and Jerrod are each at a crossroads when they meet and begin a professional relationship. She takes him on as a client and he needs her skills to make his business work.

At some point, their feelings shift though, and so does the potential for what will happen in the future. I think of Dawn and Jerrod’s story as exploring the endurance of family bonds, the value of friendship and community, and a belief in possibilities. Like all my novels, Something to Treasure, is a story of hope, healing, and second chances.

What’s the best thing about the cover?

For starters, it’s wonderfully romantic—and it shows what could be a typical sight on a Wisconsin summer day on Lake Michigan:  couple enjoying a day on the water—and each other.

What appealed to you most about these characters?

Jerrod and Dawn are both completely unapologetic about their love for their work—and each is ambitious. Dawn is a dynamic PR professional and a premiere networker. They approach their businesses with passion and energy, but they’re each at a crossroads and need to redefine their lives some, too.

What is your favorite scene?

Dawn and Jerrod have been dancing around their attraction, and Dawn decides to put her cards on the table, so to speak, with the expectation Jerrod will do the same. They’ve just attended a community event Dawn organized, and after it’s over, she asks him to take a walk with her to a favorite spot on the shore, and she’s not prepared for what happens:    

“Is there something wrong? A problem we need to address?”

“It’s personal, Jerrod.” Dawn stopped and turned to face him. “It seems like one of us has to acknowledge the proverbial elephant in the room, and it might as well be me.”

The flicker in his warm eyes revealed surprise. 

Without adding to her preamble, she blurted, “I like you, Jerrod. I get the sense you like me.” She shook her head. “Are we ever going to acknowledge this thing between us?”

His head jerked back. In an instant, the air around her changed. The sound of the waves lapping the shore grew louder. The slightly fishy smell in the air intensified.

Jerrod grimaced, as if in pain, and looked past her, gazing out into space. What happened? She couldn’t have been that wrong. She hoped.

“Say something, will you?” Was he going leave her standing there feeling like a fool?

“I don’t what to say, except I’m sorry.” He took a couple of steps away from her. “You don’t want to like me in any way other than as a client and friend. Good friend.”

In for a penny and in for a pound. In an instant that old saw had popped into her head. Why? Maybe because she was trembling inside and wasn’t thinking straight. But the adage fit. She’d taken a chance and might as well commit to it all the way. “Is that so? Well, then go ahead, tell me. Why is that?”

“Because I’m no good to anyone.” He puffed out his cheeks and exhaled in obvious frustration. “Coming here to try out a new location for my business is the first substantial step I’ve taken in two years.”

“Since the awful tragedy.” Her tone was matter-of-fact. She’d understood that. He didn’t need to point that out.

“Yes. But a few moves in the right direction don’t mean I have anything…uh, anything to give you.” He planted one hand on his hip, and widened his stance. “This is all wrong. You have so much to offer the right person. You should find someone who can freely take what you want to share. You’re a special—”

“Don’t… you… dare patronize me with empty flattery.” Her voice rose on each word.

“I’m not.” He lifted his hands in air, appearing helpless to find the right response. “I’m not going to apologize for saying what’s obvious to anyone who knows you.”

“Yeah, well, my ex-husband told me how special I was as he tossed his clothes in a couple of suitcases and carried them out the door. I was still so special when he shoved them in the backseat of his car and drove off to Carla’s house.” She paused and in a lower voice added, “I’m not kidding. And the next time I saw Bill he still went on and about how smart I am and how he’d fallen so hard for me. Oh, and by the way, we built such a great life.”

“Dawn…please. I’m sorry.”

She pretended he hadn’t interrupted and kept on going. “But he fell in love with someone else all the same. So, forgive me if I don’t want pat reassurances about how terrific I am.”

Jerrod let his head fall back. “I know you won’t like to hear this cliché, but it’s not you, it’s me. I’m the one who’s emotionally numb—dead. You’re a woman with enthusiasm for life—you understand joy. I have all I can do to be any kind of a dad at all. To my one child. I’ve got nothing left over to give.”

When she made mistakes they were almost never insignificant little nothings. No, not her. This was a real whopper.

Her emotions surprised her though. She might have been really hurt, like she’d fallen on her face. Oh, she was bruised, all right, but not humiliated or in pain from rejection. 

Maybe because she didn’t believe him.

Who is your favorite character and why?

I have two favorites—I can’t choose between Dawn’s son, Gordon, and Carrie, Jerrod’s daughter. Gordon is thirteen and thinks Jerrod’s diving is pretty cool. He’s serious about learning to dive and exploring the shipwrecks with his mom’s new client. Carrie is a five-year-old sponge—she notices everything, including her daddy’s new friend. The kids were especially fun to write.

Tell us one thing you learned during research.

The Great Lakes are majestic in their way and have a rich history—the U.S. and Canada built great cities on their shores, not to mention all the small towns that have flourished because of the lakes and the prosperity they’ve brought. I grew up on Lake Michigan and as resilient as they are, the lakes are fragile, too. I came away with a renewed sense of environmental awareness—and maybe a little awe as well. We must treasure these lakes!  

What do you plan to work on next?

I’m eagerly awaiting the release of Love, Unexpected, Book 3 (May 2018) of the series, so we’ll take another trip to Two Moon Bay. I especially enjoyed bringing back some characters from Books 1 and 2 and exploring more of the town. Zeke Donovan, the owner of the marine supply store, is surprised by what shows up at his dock, and very soon, he’s surprised again by who happens to stop by.  

As for what’s next on my writing list, some other characters in a different kind of town are calling out—they’re demanding I tell their stories, too. That’s how it works, so, we’ll see. Meanwhile, I hope you enjoy Dawn and Jerrod’s story.


With the release of Something to Treasure, Virginia is looking ahead to Book 3, Love, Unexpected. Like Virginia’s other novels, this three book series tells the stories of men and women—and some kids—who could be our neighbors and friends struggling with everyday life issues. 

Both a writer and a vagabond all her adult life, Virginia built her ghostwriting-editing business in many locations and currently lives in Green Bay, Wisconsin. She enjoys hanging out with other romance and women’s fiction authors to drink giant cups of coffee as they brainstorm new stories. Her other award-winning romance and women’s fiction titles include The Jacks Of Her Heart, Island Healing, The Chapels on the Hill, Amber Light, and Greta’s Grace.

Visit Virginia on Facebook or at

Friday, January 26, 2018

Time of My Life by M. K. Stelmack

Earlier this month I celebrated my big 5-0 by attending the funeral of a 42-year-old father and husband who died after a sudden, ten-day illness. I sat  in the jam-packed auditorium of his church, sharing a box of tissues with my son beside me and with the burly guy in a Harley-Davidson jacket seated in front of me. Bewilderment, shock and simple, pure grief pierced the singing of his favorite songs and caught in our laughter at his brother's candid and intentionally hilarious eulogy that both stung and warmed our battered hearts.

So why do I call his funeral on my birthday a celebration? For one, that is the official name of the funeral--a celebration of life--so, nothing amiss there. But let's be honest: there is nothing like celebrating the passing of a healthy man eight years your junior on your birthday to wake you to how good life is.

I was blessed.

Gone are my silly worries about the gray squiggling into my hair, and how I can't shed ten pounds. Even the big ones like mortgage payments and medication costs have shrunk to their deserving size.

Instead, I choose to see that I was given fifty years to hike in the backcountry of the Rockies, to get a degree, to walk the Royal Mile in Edinborough, to build a family, to love a dog, to have my heart broken, to break a heart, to hurt and be hurt, to dye my hair blond, to cry when my son was given his diagnosis and to cry when he took first place in a speech competition, to still quote to my seventeen-year-old daughter the funny lines she said when she was three, to weatherproof my house, to laugh until I cry, to grow a flower garden, to paint rooms different colors, and always, always since I learned how to print, to tell stories.

A week from now--many of you may already have received it in the mail--my debut Heartwarming novel will be released. 

Two more are scheduled for release in June and October. These are the stories of my heart, fifty years in the making. May they give you light and laughter and maybe a few tears, like life itself.

And may you each and every day until you no longer draw breath, like the song played at the funeral said, have the time of your life.

Okay, I need to add a little more sweetness to that bittersweet song. 

So here's some exciting news. The other February Heartwarmers The other February Heartwarmers and I have come up with fantastic prize packages--yes, plural, as in FOUR, the entry for which will be showing up on our FB handles next week (make sure you like our pages to get it in your feed) and I'll lay out the full deal on Sit-down Saturday on February 3rd. In the meanwhile, here's a glimpse at all of our stories together.

To receive word the second our February contest unrolls, come and LIKE my page
M. K. Stelmack on FaceBook  

Or, if you'd like to know a little more about me,
Come visit  my Web Home open 24/7!

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Chasing the Light

Greetings from Arizona.

Roxy soaking up the sun

We’ve lived in Anchorage for twenty-seven years now, but when my husband retired a couple of years ago, we started to spend part of the year here, in the high country of Arizona.  Alaska is delightful at Christmas, with snow on the mountains and ice skaters in the park, but come January, a visit to Arizona is a real treat.

It’s not so much the temperatures. Sure, it’s nice to be able to go outside in shirtsleeves, but I have plenty of cozy sweaters, coats, and hats to keep me warm in Anchorage. No, the thing we enjoy most about Arizona is the light.

Anchorage 2pm, Dec. 28

On winter solstice, Anchorage officially gets five hours and twenty-eight minutes of daylight. Of course that’s only on clear days, and only in the places that get sun. Notice in the photo above that the roof of the house is shaded. This time of year, the sun is so low on the horizon that the houses on my street are always in shadow.

Yavapai County, Arizona

Meanwhile, Arizona is awash with sunshine. Artists will tell you that the high altitude and low humidity made the light here particularly sharp and clear. I think it’s the time I spend living in the shadows that makes me especially appreciative of the light.

In romance novels, there’s a point toward the end of the story where everything goes wrong. Where we, the reader, can see that the hero and heroine belong together, but something is looming up to drive them apart -- one final hurdle they must overcome to earn their happy-ever-after. We call that the dark moment.

And only when our characters have fought their way through that dark moment can they come out on the other side, together. If there was no darkness, no obstacles, no struggle, there would be no story. It’s by experiencing the darkness with those characters that we can share in their joy when they find their way into the light.

We all have dark moments in our lives, big and small. Maybe the water heater springs a leak. It’s a huge mess and a big expense. But once we’ve cleaned up and gotten that new water heater installed, we appreciate that hot shower more than ever.

Have you experienced any dark moments lately that have made you thankful for the light?

Northern Lights #1
Northern Lights #2

Find more about Beth and her books at her website where you can also sign up for her newsletter. Or look for her on Facebook or Twitter.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Experience Counts by Janice Carter

A few years ago my adult daughters came up with a great solution to their frustrated efforts to extract birthday, Christmas or Mother's Day present ideas from me. My 'lists' invariably focused on bath oils or fancy soaps and eventually they balked at buying anything that fell into the 'toiletries' category. The thing is, I love to shop for books and ...I hate to admit  Not the grocery store variety, but the pricey, exotic jars, bottles and packaged goods from far-off countries that you find in specialty shops. And I really like to purchase those items, especially books, myself. So they decided to give me an 'experience', as they put it, instead of a tangible gift. The best part?  The three of us had to share the experience.
     Over the years I've been treated to theater performances, a winery tour, a few high teas in fancy hotels or restaurants and last year, in celebration of a special birthday, seven family women of varying ages flew to Chicago for a 'most wonderful of all' weekend experience. These experiences have been more treasured and memorable than any item I can hold in my hand or toss into a bathtub.       But when I decided to write about experiencing, I began to reflect how one's lifetime experiences are so much more than an outing or a weekend jaunt.  How a single event can change a life or perhaps steer one into a life totally unexpected. Sometimes the life-changer comes after a series of experiences, rather than just one. There have been countless books and movie/television scripts written on this topic, which leads me to assume a lot of people ask themselves that old "what if?" question.
    Of course none of the above is a revelation. All of our choices and experiences in life shape the people we become. But perhaps there was a special event or choice that led you down a different path, as Robert Frost contemplates in his wonderful poem "The Road not Taken"?
    I grew up in a mid-sized city in southern Ontario, lived in a middle-class subdivision and attended a high school where everyone pretty much looked the same as I did.  There were very few people in my city whose religions, languages, customs and cultures were markedly different from mine. Plus, the late 60s and early 70s were times of civil and social unrest in many parts of the world. Sound familiar?
    Three years into our marriage and with no children, my husband and I decided to travel the world. We sold our car, handed over most of our belongings to our parents for safeguarding, filled large backpacks with everything we thought we might need and left the country. We didn't return home nor see any of our families for three and a half years.  When we came home, with those same backpacks (tattered beyond recognition), our friends had gone on to have children and buy houses. We spent a year working part-time jobs and living off and on with both sets of parents (not so tolerant now) until we could kick-start new careers. 
    Would we have taken that road again, knowing what we'd come home to?  Yes, a million times yes.
The years travelling overland from Europe through Asia Minor, India, Southeast Asia to Australia, with a side journey to East Africa, gave me an education I could never have gotten from any place of high learning. I saw whole families living on sheets of cardboard on the sidewalks of Mumbai (then Bombay); boy soldiers toting machine guns in rural Laos (on the brink of a civil war at the time); the breathtaking spectacle of the Himalayas and the devastation of a tropical cyclone in Darwin Australia (1974) where we'd recently arrived with $80 between us. Years later, those memories surface quickly at the slightest associations of scent, taste and sound.  Now they just make good stories for telling, some amusing and some frightening.
    But the real story is how all the sights and experiences changed my outlook and knowledge of the world. I learned that the adage "people are the same everywhere" is so very true. People fall in live or hate; they have great dreams for their children; they struggle or they succeed; they live as best they can with what they have. When I encounter all kinds of people in my daily life in the metropolitan city where I live, or whenever I vote or give to charity, I try to remember that. I know I'm lucky to have been born in my country to a loving family, with all the opportunities that resulted.
    Like the person in Frost's poem, I took a road that "has made all the difference" and I'm glad I did.

Have you ever made a life-changing decision or experienced an event that took you down a different road?

Monday, January 22, 2018

Patricia Johns: Looking great!... for your age.

This calendar year, I will turn 40. I’m still 39, and will be for another ten months. So don’t get me wrong–I’m not rushing this! But 40 has started to loom a little.
I never thought I’d care very much, quite honestly. When I was 35, I liked the idea of turning 40. I’d heard that a woman’s 40’s are fantastic–freeing and fun.  But then, I snuck up on 40, and I’m starting to have a few misgivings… Mostly, because between the ages of 35 and 39 a whole lot of aging happens. A LOT. At 35, I looked like a woman in her mid-thirties–maybe even a touch younger! But at 39, I’m starting to look the part of a 40-year-old woman. It was bound to happen, but I didn’t think it would happen so fast. Or to me. 
There are a few things I’m looking forward to, though:
  1. When I gain weight, people’s first thought won’t be that they’re the first to notice an unannounced pregnancy. (Sigh!) Instead, they’ll recognize my age, be relatively confident that I’m not waiting the traditional 3 months to announce anything, and think, That woman has found something delicious. I probably want some of it. That’s right–I’m a little bit fat. I really like food. And I’m okay with it!800px-Marianne_Berg_2
  2. Enjoying the fruits of my labors. I worked HARD during my thirties, and I have no intention of slowing down, but after a decade of writing my heart out and climbing in my writing career, I’m finally at a place where I can start enjoying some of that success a little bit. And I like it! So if I can do more of that enjoying, I think my 40’s will be great.800px-PingFu_lg
  3. Looking good for my age. Seriously! I know most women take that as an insult, but I honestly don’t want to compete with 22-year-olds! First of all, I’m a married mother, and I have zero desire to attract younger men. Mr. Johns is all I want. Secondly, I used to be 22, and I remember how tight my skin was, how firm and pert everything was, how cute I was when I rolled out of bed. That’s youth! But more than that, I remember how vulnerable I was, even when I thought I knew it all. I remember how prone I was to choose the wrong kind of guy. I remember how I looked up to “older women” for some kind of guidance and support. I have no desire to compete with those 22-year-olds. I want to protect them, support them, stand up for them. It’s their turn to be young.

So those are the things I’m looking forward to. I think my 40’s will be fantastic, once I get over the hump of seeing myself as a woman in my 40’s. Give me time.  I have ten months to get there.
Coming to a bookstore near you February 2018:

Forced to work with the woman who left his brother at the altar five years ago, police chief Chance Morgan must also face his own guilt. Sadie Jenkins’s return to town stirs feelings he thought he’d buried along with his soldier brother, who died overseas. Almost kissing Sadie the night before her wedding was a mistake—one he won’t make again. For Sadie, planning a remembrance ceremony for the town’s military men will help build her event-planning business. But working with Chance is bringing up all the emotions she once ran from. Is she ready to finally take that leap into the future…with him?

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Sit Down Saturday with Tara Randel

Today we’re celebrating the release of His One and Only Bride.

He never thought he’d see her again.

After being reported missing, and presumed dead, globe-hopping photojournalist Mitch Simmons never thought he’d see his estranged wife Zoe again. Yet here he is, back in their coastal Florida town where Zoe is mayor. Turns out she isn’t the only one he left behind.

Discovering he has a baby son awakens thrilling new emotions in Mitch. And there are his still-powerful feelings for the high school sweetheart he vowed to love and honor forever. Thankfully, they’ll have the chance to find the love that was always there...

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

As an author, I always had this story in the back of my mind, a tale that asks the question, what would happen if you thought your husband had died, only to have him show up again when you least expected it? That’s the dilemma in His One and Only Bride. Zoe is shocked to learn her photojournalist husband, thought killed while on assignment, has returned home. They were estranged before his final assignment and Zoe grieved the fact that they never worked things out. But now she has a second chance. And a surprise for her newly returned husband, they have a child. Suddenly Mitch is thrust into fatherhood and finds out he’s unprepared. Through starts and stops, how does this couple decide to make their marriage work and become a family? That’s the fun part about being a writer, I can take stories just like this and create an entire world around one little question of what if. 

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

Don’t forget the memories or a picture is worth a thousand words.

What is your favorite scene?

I actually have many favorite scenes in this book, but here’s an excerpt to give you a glimpse of the book.

Mitch expected his wife’s surprise. After all, to her, he’d risen from the dead.

His hand gripped the cane that had become his lifeline. He wanted to heave it over the railing, but that meant lifting an arm that still needed rehab to function properly. Instead of cataloguing his injuries, he focused on his shell-shocked wife.

“I don’t understand. We were told…I thought you were…”


She reached out to place her palms on the deck railing.

“The report was mistaken.”


“I was injured in a truck accident while leaving a refugee camp.”

She visibly pulled herself together. Took a step toward him, faltered and stopped. “Pretty soon I’m going to have a ton of questions, but right now…I don’t know what to say.”

“How about ‘welcome home’?”

He watched her struggle with this major surprise. “When did you get here?”

“About fifteen minutes ago.”

“How?” Her gaze took in his appearance and he knew what she saw. A guy who’d lost weight, whose complexion had turned pasty after weeks in the hospital. Not the image of the healthy husband who’d walked out of her life nearly two years ago.

“Wyatt. I called him to tell him I was heading home. He picked me up at the airport.”

A flush of red crept up her neck. “You didn’t think to call your wife?”

“I did, but considering how we ended our last conversation, I thought it would be better if I talked to you in person.”

She ran a hand through her shoulder-length black hair. What had happened to the long straight strands that had reached to her mid-back? In the hospital, he’d dreamed of running his fingers through it. Had dreamed of her easy smile, which was nowhere to be found right now. Had he expected her to jump into his arms when she saw him again despite the circumstances? Expect that old feelings would rush over her again? Disappointment swamped him. She looked like the same Zoe, yet there was something different about her. He couldn’t put his finger on it.

“I’m sorry, you didn’t want to call me? Despite everything, didn’t you think I’d have wanted to know you were at least okay?”

Who was your favorite character and why?

Mitch. He had a lot to overcome. I loved showing the changes in him as the book progressed. To me, his character is filled with hope. He has a lot thrust upon him when he returns home, but he’s willing to do what is best for his family, even if it’s not the best for him personally.

Tell us one thing you learned during research

I had to do research on traumatic brain injuries. There was so much to learn. Symptoms. Severity.  Treatment. And mostly, how does a patient manage pain and living with this diagnosis? I hoped I portrayed Mitch’s condition properly, both in what he experienced and how he dealt with the issues that come from the injury.

This is your 6th book. Exactly what does that mean to you?

I love writing books for Heartwarming. To have six in a series has allowed me to share stories I’ve always wanted to write. I’ve loved every minute of it!

What do you plan to work on next?

I’m working on a new series, Meet Me at the Altar, for Heartwarming. The first book, The Lawman’s Secret Vow will be released in August.

To celebrate the release of this book,  join me for His One and Only Bride Prism Book Tour January 22-27. 

Tara Randel is an award-winning, USA Today bestselling author of fifteen novels. Family values, a bit of mystery and, of course, love and romance, are her favorite themes, because she believes love is the greatest gift of all. Look for her next Harlequin Heartwarming romance, THE LAWMAN’S SECRET VOW, available August 2018.  Visit Tara at Like her on Facebook at Sign up for Tara’s Newsletter and receive a link to download a free digital book.