Friday, December 12, 2008

Covers & Titles--Part Two

Since I talked about titles last time, I figured I'd toss out one more post but focus a little more on covers. Above is the cover for my 20th book, Twins for the Teacher. My working title for the book was Educating Hank. My editor came up with Twins for the Teacher, which I liked.

We weren't sure about the cover, so I sent in three ideas. I even described the two twins.
Then the gurus at Harlequin took over. I know Kathleen and Johanna have explained cover process before, so I won't get into that again. All I know is that I got a pdf a few weeks ago, and then the jpg after that. My editor sent one "note". I'd specified a white board, but for artistic reasons, they kept it the old fashioned blackboard.

As to the back cover copy, I'd seen that months ago, but seeing it with the cover is a lot more fun. I set this book in Branson (remember Victoria's post?) and let Hank graduate from Kickapoo High School in Springfield, alma mater of one Missourian named Brad Pitt. Whether you like Brad or not, we're happy to claim him here in Missouri.

I do have to say, though, I thought the artists did a great job with Hank. He even kinda looks like the grown up version of an old college boyfriend whose name I used--although Hank the hero in the book is nothing like my ex.

Have a great day,


Thursday, December 11, 2008

Too Much Stuff!

As I'm working on my house in preparation for putting it on the market, it's really hit home that I have too much stuff. Stuff is stacked everywhere, in every conceivable nook and cranny. I have drawers, closets and an attic full of stuff.

Much of it is good, useful stuff, or stuff given as gifts that has sentimental value, or stuff inherited from parents. But do I have to keep everything that I remember from childhood? My dad's high school beanie, my mom's old jewelry box? Yes, I remember that jewelry box sitting on her vanity, and it evokes happy memories of watching her put on her makeup and fix her hair. But I already have a jewelry box. Do I need this one, too?

My house is filled with dozens of such quandaries. Do I keep all those crystals I dug from a crystal mine with my own two hands? How about the stacks of paper manuscripts that will never sell? (Pre-computer age manuscripts!)

The media has us confused about what we "need" and what we merely "want." They've even told us that it's our civic duty to spend ourselves into a frenzy over the holidays, to boost the economy. But wasn't our quest for more stuff NOW (better cars, bigger houses) part of what got us into this mess?

This holiday, I've put a moratorium on stuff. I've told everyone, if you want to give me a gift, make it consumable (food, wine, soap or lotion) or, better yet, donate to a charity in my name. (Okay, I did ask my husband to buy me a frying pan. I'm convinced I really need one, since my old one is no longer nonstick.) My critique group, instead of buying gifts, is going on an overnight to a B&B as our gift to each other. I'd rather have memories than stuff any day.

I hope you'll consider rethinking your own holiday gift-buying blitz. Don't lose sight of those simple pleasures that make holidays truly special--being with loved ones, sharing hot cocoa, singing carols, decorating the tree together. Build memories instead of stacking up more stuff.

* * *

In other news, my newest book is out this month! THE PREGNANCY SURPRISE is Book 2 of the Second Sons trilogy. Book one, RELUCTANT PARTNERS, was just named a finalist in the RT Bookclub Reviewers Choice Awards for best Harlequin American Romance of the year. It's an honor to be among such fine company--you can see the whole list of finalists in a blog post below this one--one or two days back.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Traditions: Stress or Success?

This is a time of year packed full of holiday traditions. In my mind, traditions are things I look forward to doing -- things that remind me of happier times and put me in a celebratory mood.

And I think that's how all traditions start out. But then, somewhere along the way, some traditions evolve from 'want to' to 'have to.' We feel the pressure and stress of cramming so many activities into the crowded days that we often don't have time to truly enjoy what's happening.

Now, I want to stop here and say that Christmas is my favorite time of year and I do have a number of traditions that remain enjoyable. But as I face this holiday season with a long to-do list and a book deadline, I'm trying to reevaluate traditions and focus on the ones that bring me true enjoyment.

Here are some of the keepers:
The tree -- we cut our tree in the National Forest each year. For $10 we purchase a permit from the forest service and on our assigned day we venture forth into the snowy woods with our dogs in two and a thermos of hot chocolate to find just the right tree. It's a fun outing and something we look forward to every year. Back home, we string the lights and adorn the tree with ornaments collected over the years. Almost all have sentimental value and looking through them is a fun trip back in time.

Christmas movies: We've already talked about Christmas movies on the blog. I have my own stash I watch every year, including A Christmas Story; Love, Actually; While You Were Sleeping and Christmas in Connecticut. Even though my schedule is jam-packed, I am going to take a day off to sip cocoa, eat popcorn and enjoy a movie marathon, on the sofa in front of the fire.

yes, it's a pain to hang those outside lights and wreaths, but every time I come home after dark (which is after 4:30 these days) I smile and feel wonderful looking at my little house lit up. So I did it.

Christmas books: I just put in a big order from for a bunch of new Christmas romances. Between Christmas and New Year's day I try to take off and read as many of these as possible. Besides, it's research -- right?

Traditions I'm cutting back on:

Baking. I still want to give cookies to friends and neighbors, but instead of elaborately decorated sugar cookies, this year I'm doing cookie bars and recipes where the dough is made ahead of time and frozen, then sliced and baked. Much less time consuming. In years past I've also done little loaves of fruit bread, which were also fast and well received.

Shopping: I did it all at sales earlier in the year or online the day after Thanksgiving. What a great feeling to be done so painlessly.

Wrapping. Last year I bought a bunch of Christmas fabric on sale and sewed a lot of different sized cloth bags. Now I just pop a present in, stuff in some tissue paper and tie on a label. I'm done and there's a lot less garbage on Christmas morning.

Cards. I'm still fighting this one. I like sending and receiving cards, but they take a ton of time. I want to cut back, but haven't figured out how yet.

Christmas dinner. One dessert, not three. Skip the relish tray. Fewer side dishes. We don't need to make pigs of ourselves to enjoy a good meal, right?

How are you handling Christmas traditions? Any must dos you don't want to miss? Anything you're giving up this year?

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Congratulations to our Romantic Times finalists!

Romantic Times Magazine has announced the finalists in its 2008 Reviewers' Choice Awards.

For Best Harlequin American Romance:
Lisa Childs (Aug.)

Kara Lennox (Jun.)

Cindi Myers (Feb.)

Ann Roth (Mar.)

Linda Warren (Sep.)

For Best First Series Romance:
Megan Kelly (Apr.)
Congratulations on your outstanding achievement!

Monday, December 08, 2008


Well, it’s that time of the year again. We all seem to be so busy, but this year I’m taking time to enjoy the important stuff like family, faith, and friends. And the fact that I have a writing contract. That always lifts my spirits.

I'm excited about my March 2009 release, The Sheriff of Horseshoe, Texas. It’s part of the Men Made In America Series. I received my cover the other day. (It should be to your left if I clicked the right buttons.) Before I look at my new covers, I close my eyes for a second. What I‘m really doing is praying for the best cover ever and bracing myself to accept what I see on the screen. I take a deep breath and open my eyes. Boy, did I get a surprise. It was perfect—just as I had the hero pictured. Kathleen and the art department are doing a fabulous job with the American covers and I hope you’ll agree. Take a peek and let me know what you think.

Wishing you a happy holiday season. May you enjoy the things that are important to you.
Texas Heir – Sep ’08 AR
The Sheriff of Horseshoe, Texas – Mar ’09 AR

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Because of a man I recently met, I can't let this day pass unnoticed.
This past summer, I spent several hours with the husband of my mother-in-law's cousin. He's a fascinating man, a volunteer at the seminary where he used to work for over 20 years, who grew up as a farmer. Now he's an avid cross-stitcher, who creates beautiful works with thread and patience.
Another thing that really stands out, other than his kindness and old-fashioned courtesy, is the story of his time in the Navy. He's a Pearl Harbor survivor. He showed me his page at Pearl Harbor Stories (, and filled in more details throughout the day.
I'm not going to give you his name because all of the stories there are worth reading. I am going to encourage you to talk to the older people in your life and learn more about them. Never would I have guessed this gentle man was such a fascinating piece of living history.
I'd like to take this opportunity to thank all the servicemen and women, past and present for their service and their sacrifice. And to extend my thanks also to their families.
If you know an older person, ask them about the memories of their past. My aunt once mentioned casually about having to clear the street in Kansas because a herd of cattle was coming through town, which of course sparked an idea for a historical romance LOL.
Have a great holiday.
Megan Kelly