Wednesday, August 31, 2016

A Time Travel Romance To Enjoy

As we wind down the summer reading I'm starting to look for fun new books for the fall. As the days grow cooler and I want to simply sit inside with a good book there are lots of new offerings out there. This week in My Writing Corner, I am featuring the work of Isabella Laase.

She lives in Pittsburgh with her husband and what she calls two yippy little dogs, but says she loves to travel every chance she gets. Isabella is the author of sophisticated, naughty, romances and tells us she enjoys getting lost in her stories and her characters' lives. Her passion is creating strong female protagonists who make choices and sacrifices to find their way in the world. Isabella dates her love of writing all the way back to her childhood dollhouse days. She says, "The novel format allows you to move your characters in any direction, wear any clothing, and experience anything you want. Only your imagination slows you down!"

Her first book, Tamed by the Virginian,  was just released in August. Her next work,  Training Tia, is due to be released in the fall of 2016.

Eighteen-year-old Jory Logan has made more than her share of bad decisions, but things come to a head when she is involved with a robbery that goes horribly wrong. Facing a long prison sentence, she decides to play along with a mysterious woman who claims to be able to offer her an alternative to jail--four years in the past, learning the lessons she was never taught in her own life. Then she will be free to return to the present day with a clean slate. When she awakens in Virginia in the year 1785, alone and unable to fend for herself in a world so different from her own, she is relieved to be taken in by frontiersman Nial McKay and his brother. She soon discovers, however, that life on a farm is hard work.

Nial is determined to keep his relationship with Jory chaste and proper, but as time passes he is forced to admit that he is falling in love with the beautiful, spirited girl. Can he bring himself to claim her as his woman rather than his ward, or will his hesitance cause him to lose her forever? And when her four years is up, will Jory be forced to leave everything she has grown to love behind in the past?

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Thanks, Isabella for being my guest today.   Questions or comments?

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Get Ready for Holiday Reading

As we wrap up the summer and the school bell rings, it's not too early to start planning for our holiday reading. Today we welcome to My Writing Corner, Leigh Riker  the authors of a new holiday boxed set from Harlequin Romance, which is available now for pre-order.

What's in A Name

I admit it. I have a thing for character names—meaning the absolutely perfect name. Nothing else will do. I have several name-the-baby-type books, and I even used them to name my own two real-life boys. Those books are a bit dog-eared by now but still come in handy. And whenever I see a list of current favorite names in a magazine or the newspaper, I always save it. Right now Charlotte seems to be very popular, presumably after Prince George’s baby sister, the adorable new little princess in Great Britain.

Oh, and what about movies? TV shows? The rolling credits often contain some really interesting names that just might fit into a story someday. I like to jot them down.

But sometimes serendipity also plays a big part. Recently, I had to come up with the just-right name for my hero in this year’s A Heartwarming Holiday and voila, there was Asher Kincaid. Easy-peasy. Ash just popped into my head. My heroine was even easier; Jill Morgan appeared last year in A Heartwarming Christmas as the best friend of my heroine. Right away I knew Jill, a young widow, needed her own story.

But then, I hit a snag. Serendity doesn’t always save the day, and it failed to provide names for some  of the secondary characters who weren’t being cooperative. This time I renamed several of them more than once to finally get the effect I wanted. In my story, Thankfully Yours, Jill and Ash, a wounded former Navy SEAL, struggle to find their new place in the world and, along with those supporting players now under control, I had such fun helping them work things out. Through the renovation of a rundown ski resort, they come to deserve their happy ending and I was more than happy to give them one. Like all the stories in A Heartwarming Holiday mine takes place in Christmas Town, Maine. I hope you’ll enjoy it and the other two novellas in our pod called Holiday Heroes (more Navy SEALs!) by authors Tara Randel and Cari Lynn Webb.

These stories should certainly get you in the mood for the coming holiday season from Thanksgiving to Christmas to a New Year’s wedding. Enjoy! They will be coming from Harlequin n October but they are available for preorder now.

This holiday season, warm your heart with 15 connected sweet, clean & wholesome holiday romances set in Christmas Town from 15 Harlequin Heartwarming authors who are USA Today, national bestselling, and award-winning authors.
There are five connected books in A Heartwarming Holiday. That means each set of three novellas shares characters and storylines! This collection of PG-rated holiday romances are all set in Christmas Town, Maine, a location introduced in the 2014 Harlequin Heartwarming release Christmas, Actually.
 A Heartwarming Holiday will bring you laughter, tears, and happily-ever-afters.

Book 1Once Upon a Holiday by Anna Adams, Anna J Stewart & Melinda Curtis: Three former college roommates start a business to bring the magic of the holidays to everyone in Christmas Town.  

Once Upon a Thanksgiving by Anna Adams, award-winning, USA Today bestselling, Harlequin Heartwarming author.

Once Upon a Christmas by Anna J Stewart, award-winning, USA Today bestselling, Harlequin Heartwarming author.

Once Upon a New Year’s Eve by Melinda Curtis, award-winning, USA Today bestselling, Harlequin Heartwarming author.

Book 2Holiday Heroes by Leigh Riker, Tara Randel & Cari Lynn Webb: Three former Navy SEALs come together to restore an outdated resort.
Thankfully Yours by Leigh Riker, award-winning, USA Today bestselling, Harlequin Heartwarming author.


Cooking Up Christmas by Tara Randel, Barnes and Noble bestselling, USA Today bestselling, Harlequin Heartwarming author.


Countdown to Romance by Cari Lynn Webb, USA Today bestselling, Harlequin Heartwarming author.

Book 324 North Pole Lane by Carol Ross, Amy Vastine & Cheryl Harper: Romance is being delivered to 24 North Pole Lane this holiday season.
Hers by Thanksgiving by Carol Ross, USA Today bestselling, Harlequin Heartwarming author.
Peace, Love, and Baby Joy by Amy Vastine, USA Today bestselling, Harlequin Heartwarming author.

Never Say Never on New Year’s by Cheryl Harper, USA Today bestselling, Harlequin Heartwarming author.

Book 4Magic Moments by Tara Taylor Quinn, Shirley Hailstock & Liz Flaherty: Three different times, three different stories. They all bring magic to Christmas Town.

Christmas Past by Tara Taylor Quinn, USA Today bestselling, Harlequin Heartwarming author.

It Only Happens in Christmas Town by Shirley Hailstock, Harlequin Heartwarming author.

The Magic Stocking by Liz Flaherty, USA Today bestselling, Harlequin Heartwarming author.

Book 5Nutcracker Sweethearts by Dana Mentink, Roz Denny Fox, & Amie Denman: As the stage production of the Nutcracker unfolds in Christmas Town, three couples find love with the help of a little holiday magic!

Thanksgiving Duet by Dana Mentink, Harlequin Heartwarming author.

Christmas Curtain Call by Roz Denny Fox, Harlequin Heartwarming author.

Set for New Year’s by Amie Denman, Harlequin Heartwarming author.
If this boxed set appeals to you, look for our previous holiday anthology: A Heartwarming Christmas.


And don't forget, included in A HEARTWARMING HOLIDAY is an exclusive coupon worth $1.00 off any Heartwarming title from  

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Returning to a Favorite Read

When reading isn't occupying my time, usually writing does.  This summer I am having a great time working on a sequel to my novella, Shadows from the Past.  Shadows was one of my favorite books, set in an old mansion in the Northwest called Redfern Manor.  For some reason that fictitious location kept calling to me and I have decided to write another book featuring it.  Fittingly, the story is named Return to Redfern.

What I am enjoying about writing this story (beyond being able to return in my brain to a favorite place) is that it is allowing me to again write a shorter story.  These days many novels seem to be getting shorter, and many readers seem to prefer a shorter read.  Return to Redfern will also fall into that shorter, novella category. If you haven't hread Shadows from the Past, here's a quick introduction:

When Stacey Moreno goes looking for answers to a friend’s mysterious death at spooky Redfern Manor, she finds trouble instead. She doesn't like being drawn to her sexy, mysterious new boss, Mack Warren. From the moment they meet, the sparks fly, but Mack is looking for escape, not romance. He'd rather be in love with a ghost!

Stacey is no super heroine like the cartoon character she draws, but she may have to become one to survive the secrets… and suspects… of Redfern Manor. Can she save them all from the  shadows from the past that threaten to destroy the future?

Here's an excerpt:
Mack sighed and Stacey could feel the vibration of his frustration. The fire had taken a toll on his work, and he probably blamed her best friend for the loss. 
            Stacey attempted a smile. “If you’re worried about trusting me...”
            His eyes shot to her, blue spheres, as cold as ice. “I don’t trust anyone. The sooner you learn that, the better we’ll get along.”
            Stacey licked her dry lips, uncertain what to say. “Why…why wouldn’t you trust me?”
            His gaze pinned her to the back of the chair, blazing with something she couldn’t define. “I spent years as a journalist. I figure everyone has something to hide.”
            Her heart skipped. She felt as though he could see into her brain and discover her connection to Helen.
            Then a corner of his lips twitched into a smile. “But then, you’re probably the only person in the world who couldn’t hide anything. Your face is like reading a lie detector readout. It turns bright red every time you get flustered.”
            Stacey brushed her hand across her cheek. It was burning right now, which meant it was probably the color of a valentine.
            “I’m sorry if I sound like an evil tyrant,” he continued, his face softening. “Peg had to fire my first assistant and the second just left. Now this thing with Helen Stanton…”
            There had been other assistants before Helen? “Yikes, and you’ve hired me?”
            “What does that mean?”
             She wiggled her nose, making a face. “I guess that’s my secret. Mom calls me a jinx. My first employer was shut down by the city. My second job lasted three months before I got laid off and my last employer closed after 93 years in business.”
              His gaze grew so intense that for an instant she feared he might fire her on the spot. Then he inhaled sharply and lurched to his feet. “As long as you do your work, you’ll be fine.”
              Obviously he didn’t want to bring up the puzzling death of his last assistant. But she was here to find out the truth.

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Thursday, August 11, 2016

Sailing into A Romantic Read

Ever since I took my first cruise I've enjoyed the idea of romance on board a ship. (Or perhaps it was watching all those episodes of The Love Boat). That is the setting for the newest book by today's guest in My Writing Corner, M. Kate Quinn. She's an award-winning author who draws on her quirky sense of humor, hopelessly romantic nature, highly developed sense of family and her love for a good story while writing her novels. Her Perennials Series began with Summer Iris (Wild Rose Press, July 2010) a Golden Quill Award finalist for Best First Book. The second, Moonlight and Violet, (Wild Rose Press, June 2011) won the coveted Golden Leaf Award for Best Contemporary Novel 2011. The last in the series, Brookside Daisy (Wild Rose Press, February 2012) was a Gold Leaf Award finalist.  Her next project was The Ronan's Harbor Series, a pair of romances set in a quaint shore town. 

She is a life-long native of New Jersey where still resides with her husband. Her newest book, Victoria at Sea, was released last week by Soul Mate Publishing and is the first book in a new series, called Destiny's Detour Series.

 On the eve of their wedding Victoria Gliden and fiancĂ© Owen Walker call it quits. He accuses her of not being able to get over her deadbeat father’s vanishing act when she was a child and she and her cold feet run and don’t look back.

An interior designer, Victoria, has an important meeting on Cancun that could garner her a promotion and the plan was to incorporate her presentation with the honeymoon cruise that’s journeying to the island. Since she’s sure Owen is on his way to Portland to escape the aftermath of their ruined wedding, Victoria takes the honeymoon cruise anyway. Only Owen has the same idea and they’re stuck with each other for six days, five nights.

Tony Gliden, Victoria’s father, dies in a freak accident and is sent back to earth disguised as a crotchety old man with the mission to convince his daughter to believe in love. So, he, too boards the ship.

At sea, destiny takes a detour when Victoria befriends the quirky old man with kind eyes and together they join forces with a quartet of unabashed women in their fifties who drink pink martinis and flirt with the wait staff but are wiser than they look. While trying to dodge Owen, Victoria’s new acquaintances help her face old wounds and confront new fears. Most of all, Victoria and Owen both realize it all boils down to one word—why? By journey’s end will two broken hearts get their answer?  
Want more? Here's an excerpt:

An hour later Victoria awoke groggy and cotton-mouthed. She’d dreamed a series of reenactments from the night she’d given the ring back to Owen. But, thanks to her ingested little white helper, the lingering effects of the dreams banished easily. She pushed herself up out of bed and slowly peeled off her clothing.

A shower marginally refreshed Victoria’s mood but with a clearer mind, the memories of the dreams materialized. Owen’s had taken the audacity to accuse her of running out just like her father had done to her. She lifted her right palm, soft and pink from her steamy shower, and examined the plumped skin. Owen had flinched when she’d slapped him, as had she. That sob caught in her throat again. She’d done the right thing even if it hurt. She was better alone. She was better alone.

Toweling off she heard a noise outside the bathroom. Instinctively covering herself with the bath sheet, she keened to listen. It sounded like her door had opened and she recognized the sound of a suitcase thudding against the doorway. Maybe, she thought, it was the sounds coming from the stateroom next door. Could the walls between suites be that thin?

She opened the bathroom door just an inch or two, steam escaping through the opening like a banner announcing her presence. Her heart banged in her chest. Someone was definitely in her suite. Her purse, her credentials, her phone—everything—was out there.

Two words rang out in a man’s deep tone. “Oh, God.”
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Contact Information:
Facebook:  Fans of M. Kate Quinn
Twitter:  @mkatequinn
Thanks, M. Kate, for introducing us to your latest book!  It sounds perfect for summer reading.
Any comments or questions for M. Kate?

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

On the Road to Romance

I always enjoy finding a new book series to read in the summer. Instead of just one story, it's great to find several based around the same character or around a familiar theme location or premise. Today's guest in My Writing Corner is Barb Barrett, who has a new book that is part of a series that has me wanting to make certain I read them all.

Welcome, Barb. Did you always want to be a writer?
Thanks to an elementary school teacher, I knew from an early age that I could write. In sixth grade, an essay I did on traveling through France—all from reading, didn’t get to see it for myself until much later—appeared in the town’s newspaper. When I was 15, I placed in a national essay contest in my church’s denomination. As a history major in college and graduate school, I did well on essay tests. In my job, I was called upon to draft numerous reports and memos and even was in charge of our newsletter for a while. But I didn’t start writing fiction until my late 30s. Do you recall the character of Felicia Gallant on the now defunct soap opera “Another World”? She was a romance novelist. I think it was her boas that got to me. I thought, “I could do that too!” I tell people I avoided a midlife crisis by writing romance (actually, I did get my own red convertible about that time, so I didn’t completely avoid it). But I had no idea what I was doing until I joined RWA and my local chapter in Iowa. Finishing that first book was a major accomplishment.

How did you get your start in publishing?
My first published book was with a new small digital press in 2012. Being new, they needed inventory. It was a great opportunity to learn the publishing process. A few months later, another of my books was selected by The Wild Rose Press. I’ve been with them for almost four years now. I got the email accepting that book while I was on a four-day mini reunion with six of my high school friends and held off sharing the news until we were out on a tour boat on Lake Superior viewing the Duluth, Minnesota coastline.

Tell us about your latest book and what made you want to write it?
My latest book, Keeping It Casual, is the third and final book in The Matchmaking Motor Coach series about three brothers who run a luxury motor coach customization business in my hometown of Burlington, Iowa. When I wrote the first book, I deliberately set it in my hometown, because I wanted to write about places I knew for once (having set my first books in New York City and South Carolina). I’d also been impressed by a newspaper article detailing how a famous country music star was touring the country in her customized motor coach. The idea of making what is virtually a fancy bus your home on wheels intrigued me. Just before I started this book, I finally got to see an actual customization operation, a huge one, Millennium Luxury Coaches, in Sanford, Florida. I’m glad I saved this trip until then, or I don’t know how I would have thought I could have three men complete the work over a hundred workers did there. The hero in “Casual,” Geoff McKenna, has multiple sclerosis. A former boss also suffered from this condition and I observed what she went through. She told me that summer was harder on her than other times of the year, so all three of the books take place then. In this book, particularly, they are experiencing not only a flood on the Mississippi but also very humid weather for May. Last year, before I’d finalized the book, I contacted a former high school classmate, who has had MS for several years, and asked her to review the story to make sure it was credible.

Where do you get story ideas?
I’ve called my writing “Romance at Work,” because as a former human resources management analyst I wanted to make the occupations of my characters a major part of the story. I’ve written about chefs, forensic accountants, software developers and general construction contractors. I’ve also written more than once about another career I might have followed myself, interior design. For one series, I’ve started with just a title that appealed to me. “Casual” was originally going to be “The Escape Clause” when I was titling the trilogy as the “Clause” series. After the first book, The Sleepover Clause, I couldn’t come up with an equally catchy title for the second book while still incorporating “clause,” so it became Seduction on Wheels. When it came time to name this book, I used the main theme. My other series, “Sullivan’s Creek,” began with Saved by the Salsa, since the H/H taught a Salsa class. I wanted to continue the Latin dance theme in the titles of the second and third books, so I came up with Tough Enough to Tango and Not Your Mama’s Mambo, but I had no idea about the plots. I developed the subsequent stories around those phrases.

Tell us about your writing process. Do you plot carefully or wing it?
I like a certain amount of structure, so I know where I’m going, like a road map, but then I let my imagination loose and see what happens. Once I finish the first draft, I prepare a table that includes by chapter scenes the POV character, time and elapsed time since the beginning of the book, and the main purpose of the scene. This is a great analytical tool for discovering scenes that aren’t contributing to the story, out-of-sequence scenes, too much POV of one character versus the other, and too short/too long scenes. After that analysis, I do the first and beyond rewrites.

How do you normally come up with characters?
I need a certain amount of discipline as I begin a story, so that I can shape my characters as I go. For that reason, I try to adhere to Debra Dixon’s Goal, Motivation and Conflict (GMC) approach. I also let the names of my characters help me define them. Then I narrow in on their physical characteristics, hair and eye color, height. With those in mind, I find photos of celebrities or models to really nail it. I spent hours searching the Internet last night seeking a tall, willowy, strawberry blonde female. I have a “look” in mind, and every time I thought I might have something, the eyes weren’t right or they were too young or too old. So I’ll give it a day or two and then try again.

How did you come up with your characters for this book?
I knew from the start that Geoff would be the Hero. Since he was a secondary character in the first two books, I’d already had a chance to shape him and introduce him to readers. With the first book, I decided which celebrities would serve as models for each of the three brothers. I had to find three delicious-looking males who resembled each other; what a task, right? Ryan Peavey, who plays “Nathan West” on “General Hospital, was my inspiration for the youngest brother, Mitch, for the first book. The late Paul Walker became Graham. Chris Pine as Geoff was a lucky pick, since “Star Trek: Beyond” is currently doing so well at the box office. I focus on Geoff’s MS in this book, because it has become the controlling factor in his life and is preventing him from seeing a future for himself. Geoff’s MS has so far manifested as a lighter case than many. To counterbalance his situation, I added the character of Kyle Sutton to show how devastating this disease can be. Alexandra, “Alex,” Appleby emerged as I was drafting the second book. The Heroine, Jenna DeFranco, and her half-sister, Aubrey Carpenter, discuss their mother with a cousin, who asks about their stepsister, the daughter of their mother’s current husband (#3). They admit they hardly know her, because her mother’s divorce from their stepfather, Buddy Appleby, was so acrimonious. (Still with me?)

Since Geoff had started dating a local woman in Book 1, I’d always planned to break them up in Book 3, so why not make it another “sister”? Aubrey has brownish-red hair and Jenna is a killer blonde, so Alex got to be a brunette. With short hair. Since Geoff had been a ladies’ man before his MS, I wanted Alex to be self-confident enough to deal with that. As I was finishing the rough draft last fall, the new TV season began. Jaimie Alexander of “Blindspot” caught my attention as the perfect model for Alex.

How about a blurb?

Talent manager Alex Appleby needs Geoff McKenna's help. Her vicious client is threatening the reputation of Alex's television-star father if Alex can't convince her stepsister to go along with the client's demand.  Alex turns to Geoff to make the case to her sister.
Geoff has his own proposition for Alex. Thus far, his case of multiple sclerosis has been mild, but he’s unsure of his future. When his girlfriend pushes for a stronger commitment, he enlists Alex as his new pretend love interest so his girlfriend will break things off. 

When they discover they actually are attracted to each other, they agree to keep things casual, since Alex is only in town briefly and Geoff isn’t interested in anything serious. But fate intervenes as their feelings deepen. Alex must decide whether to relocate to Iowa from LA, and Geoff must place faith in his future. 
Buy Links

The Wild Rose Press (digital)

How can readers get in touch with you?
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Thanks, Barb, for being my guest. Any questions or comments for Barb?

Mysterious Doings

As the  summer begins, it is time to start selecting those books we want to take on vacation or for sitting around the pool or at  the beach...