Thursday, July 04, 2013

Time For A Change


For a number of years, American Romance authors have shared successes...and a few failures, joys...and a couple of tribulations, hopes and the very best of dreams with our readers right here on the Harlequin American Romance Authors' blog.  More than any other single location, this has been the place where we reached out to you, our readers.  The place where we introduced you to the heroes and heroines in our stories.  The place where we talked about the small towns, the communities and the families that are central to American Romance.  

Today, though, there are so many other avenues for you to reach us, that this site isn't as effective as it once was.  So, the time has come to board up the windows and move on.  Instead of continuing with the blog, we invite you to visit us on our websites, drop in to chat on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, and look below for a special good-bye from some of your favorite authors.  

We're in the process of setting up a new home on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/AmericanRomanceAuthors), but it's not quite ready yet.  In the meantime, we'll continue to write the wonderful, heartwarming stories you've come to expect from Harlequin American Romance.  You can find all our new releases at the Harlequin website. 
 


Wishing everyone a happy Fourth of July while bidding adieu to the Harlequin American Romance Authors' blog makes for a bittersweet day to be sure.  It's been my honor to meet so many wonderful readers over the years, both here on the blog and at various booksignings and other events, and I hope you'll keep in touch. 

You'll always find my current and new releases on my website at www.LeeMcKenzie.com, and from there you can also link to me on Facebook and sign up for my mostly monthly eNewsletter, Life in the Slow Lane, featuring recipes, writing news, giveaways, and contests.

Wishing you many long and happy hours of reading,
Lee McKenzie...writing fifty shades of pink!
Thanks to all the loyal Harlequin American Romance readers.  It's been a pleasure connecting with you here.  Please visit our personal websites for updates on future books.  My Facebook and website links are listed below.
 
Megan Kelly
 
 


Thank you to everyone who's stopped by for a visit over the years!  Selling my first story to the Harlequin American line well over a decade ago was one of my Top Ten most favorite life moments.  The fun that's followed in meeting so many warm and funny and caring readers has been another tremendous blessing.  Please remember that, even though our blog is retiring, our line is still going strong!  As are all of our talented authors!  Please feel free to find us on Facebook and Twitter, or on our individual web pages.  Happy reading!
Laura Marie Altom
www.lauramariealtom.com
 
 
Happy Fourth of July, and a fond farewell to the Harlequin American Romance Authors' blog.  It's been my great pleasure to have participated in this group blog for a number of years and to have met so many wonderful readers here.  But this isn't a final good-bye! 
 
 Please drop by my website, where you can get in touch via e-mail and stay up-to-date with all my writing news.  I hope you'll visit me there and will also stop by to chat with me on Facebook and Twitter. 
 
All my best to you.
Until we meet again,
Barbara White Daille
 
 
The first entry I wrote for the Harlequin American blog was in December, 2006, so I bid farewell to this blog with much fondness.  I'll be guest-posting elsewhere and including links at my JacquelineDiamondAuthor page on Facebook.  Thanks to all of you for reading!
 
Jacqueline Diamond
 
 

 
All good things end.  It's been fun writing for this blog, and I'm sad to say goodbye.  But I'm not gone.  Visit www.annroth.net anytime, or drop me an email at ann@annroth.net.

Ann Roth


The day I received an invitation to post on the Harlequin American Romance Authors' blog I literally danced for joy!  And I've loved participating here and meeting all our wonderful readers.  I hope you'll keep in touch!
Leigh Duncan

 

 

      

Monday, July 01, 2013

June Winner!!

CONGRATULATIONS SAVANNAH ROSE!

You’re the June winner of two American Romance books. Please contact Amanda Renee and Roxann Delaney through their websites to receive your books.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Summer Living

Also known as barbecue season at my house. Here in the Pacific Northwest we tend to barbecue year round, but during the summer it's virtually every day. I love it because cooking outdoors means less mess in the kitchen and the food, while delicious, tends to be fresher and simpler.

Summer is also salad season, so I thought I would share this delicious potato salad recipe with you.


Lee’s Favourite Potato Salad

1-1/2 pounds red-skinned baby potatoes
1 sweet yellow pepper
2 or 3 green onions, sliced
1/4 pound sugar snap peas
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon dried dill (or 3 tablespoons fresh, chopped)
salt & pepper to taste

Cut the potatoes in half, cook till tender, drain and set aside to cool. Cook the peas in boiling water for 1 minute till they turn bright green, chill under cold running water and drain. Core and chop the yellow pepper into bite-sized pieces. Put the chilled potatoes, peas, pepper and onion in a serving bowl. In a small bowl, whisk together the oil, vinegar, lemon juice, mustard and salt & pepper. Pour the dressing over the salad, toss and enjoy. Serves four.

I love this salad because it's colorful, quick to make, and stores better than a salad with a mayonnaise dressing.

For those who enjoy collecting recipes, feel free to drop by my website and request a set of Ready Set Sold recipes cards. They're not just free, but I pay the postage! The newest recipe is for Lee's Luscious Lemonade, which just happens to be the same lemonade Maggie makes in Maggie's Way, my latest Harlequin Heartwarming.

While you're at my website, feel free to sign up for my newsletter, Life in the Slow Lane. One of the perks of being a subscriber is being eligible to enter my monthly contests.

Happy reading! Happy summer!

Until next time,
Lee
Daddy, Unexpectedly (Harlequin American Romance, May 2013)
Maggie's Way (Harlequin Heartwarming, May 2013)
www.LeeMcKenzie.com/

Friday, June 14, 2013

What's Summer Fun?!

Proud of myself for finally ditching the winter wreath and hauling off the poor dead fern! LOL!!
Ahh . . . summer.

The word calls to mind turquoise swimming pools and sunshine glinting like diamonds on oceans lapping sandy shores. Summer makes me think of picnics and ice cream and watermelon. Planting flowers and reading on the shady front porch.

Um, yeah--if you're at Casa Altom, now's the time to make that annoying scratchy record sound, because so far, our summer has super sucked.

After more kid angst than even I could ever imagine--and that's saying somethin'--we've now moved on to a new window leak, hose spigot leak, fleas, and one or two ants in random places. Our nearly sixteen-year-old dog Sweet Pea just had tooth surgery and yesterday, all three kids managed to squelch any attempt at writing with minor medical emergencies that began at 7:40 AM with a trek to the dermatologist, then to the dentist, then the urgent care center for an issue EVERYONE knows to never call me for . . . I'm turning green just thinking of it!!  LOL!!

Knock on wood, but thankfully, everyone's healthy again and today has been selfishly, wonderfully all mine!!! It may not be very summer-like, but I've written a few pages, gabbed on the phone with my bestie, watched an episode of Lost, and even manged to cheat on my diet.

Great times, right? My fingers are crossed that any day now, even more summer fun will hit me like a truckload of yummy s'mores!!

How about you? Got anything awesome planned for June, July or August?





 

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Where does it all come from?

I’m asked that question all the time. Some of it comes from memory, some of it comes to me the instant I close my eyes and let my fingers glide across the keyboard. Yes, I do tend to type with my eyes closed. What better way to describe something than to visualize the scene playing out before you? And while we don’t have time to cover every character, today I will touch on the ones I’m asked about most frequently.

Years ago, I interned in breed management on a reining horse ranch back in New Jersey. While the ranch no longer exists, it was state-of-the-art at the time and gave me the idea for the Bridle Dance Ranch in the Ramblewood series. Equine artificial insemination fascinated me and Lexi Lawson, Ramblewood’s equine vet was born.

Who are the Langtry brothers? They are a combination of every sexy, confident, red-blooded American male I have come across. But I do have to admit, the basic idea of them probably originated with the Dukes of Hazzard. Who could resist those Duke boys?

Everyone wants to know who Mable Promise is. Mable is my all-time favorite character of any book I’ve read. She even beats out Scarlett O’Hara and I didn’t think anyone would ever touch that golden spot. Mable is the most honest, kind-hearted, mom-to-everyone, gospel loving woman you will ever meet. She’s also the first person to set you straight and put the fear of God into you if you dare walk across her clean kitchen floor with your mud cake boots. She’s a blend of many people I’ve known and a woman with a story of her own.

People always ask what town I patterned Ramblewood, Texas after. It’s a combination of all the small towns I’ve traveled to and through over the years. It sits in the heart of Hill Country where family and community come together as one. Ramblewood’s not perfect by any means. People have some deeply buried secrets, which you’ll start to see in BLAME IT ON THE RODEO.

When I started writing BETTING ON TEXAS, I knew Ramblewood would never just be one book. I had originally planned a four book series, featuring the Langtry brothers, but as BETTING ON TEXAS ended, a few other characters came to the foreground and begged me to tell their stories. Where will end? It may not – Some towns live in our hearts forever as I hope Ramblewood will for my readers.

So when I’m asked, where does it all come from? I have to reply…from the heart. In writing this series, I hoped to create a place where the readers want to stop and grab a bite to eat at The Magpie or take a canoe ride down Cooter Creek before heading to Slater’s Mill for a beer and a night of dancing. Ramblewood lives in the heart of all of us looking for a warm place to call home.

August brings about the release of HOME TO THE COWBOY, the second book in the Ramblewood series. Tess Dalton is home for a visit, but you know how those Langtry men can put a wrinkle in a woman’s plans, and Cole is no exception! So if you find yourself driving through town, or browsing the bookstore aisles, pay a visit to the folks in Ramblewood and catch up on your favorites. I’ll see you there!


Amanda Renee
BETTING ON TEXAS (March 2013)
HOME TO THE COWBOY (August 2013)
BLAME IT ON THE RODEO (February 2014)

www.amandarenee.com
www.twitter.com/TheAmandaRenee
www.facebook.com/AmandaReneeFanPage


Wednesday, June 12, 2013

FAMILY TIME

It's June, and although summer doesn't officially begin for another couple of weeks, kids are finishing up the school year, people are firing up their backyard barbecues, and families are heading out on vacations. 

When I was a child, summer vacations were always spent on my grandmother's farm in southern Alabama.  There, my cousins and I spent long, hot days hoeing acres of butter beans,  field peas, tomatoes and okra.  We rose early to pick the ripest fruits and vegetables, then spent hours in the kitchen, canning the harvest for the winter.  Evenings found us rocking in the double-swing on the wide front porch with enormous bowls in our laps.  While the swing rocked, we popped peas out of their shells or snapped beans into the bowls. 



And we talked.  About the boys and the stores and the adventures of our city-lives.  Listened to our cousins from Alabama share their own tales of boys and cows and what Ol' Man-this and Ol' Lady-that had done lately.  Hung on every word that fell from our Massachusetts cousins who spoke so differently from the rest of us but had the best stories to tell. 

As I grew older, I missed those summer days.  I went to college, which meant I needed a j-o-b during the summer or there'd be no money for brain food, aka pizza, once classes started again.  I married a Navy man, and we moved...a lot.  We had children and spent our vacations visiting their grandparents. Too many years passed.  My grandmother's house changed hands several times and, although family members still own it, it's no longer the gathering place it once was. 

This weekend, though, a bunch of us cousins did get together again.  And though it had been a l-o-n-g time since many of us had seen each other, we made ourselves at home on a front porch where we shared the stories of our lives...and vowed not to wait so long to get together again. 


Family, it's one of the central themes of Harlequin American Romance.  I so enjoyed touching base with my family this weekend.  How about you?  Any plans for a family reunion this summer? 



Friday, June 07, 2013

Writing about cowboys (or astronauts or firefighters) can be challenging to those not living in those areas of the country or not in that line of work. In the Midwest, we don't have many cowboys. I can research horses at our local stables and through the Internet, but the mind-set of the cowboy is more of a mystery. Face it, 1) he's a man, which makes it hard enough to figure what's going on in his head, and 2) he's usually the quiet type, not revealing much by talk and internalizing all his feelings. At least my cowboy heroes are.

I like the *idea* of the hard-partying cowboy, but I've never quite latched onto him as a hero. Maybe someday...

I'm hooked on the new A&E TV series Longmire. Why? It's complex. It has people with real life problems, set in a locale alien to me. The hero is flawed. Deeply. Secrets abound in his life and in the county he oversees.

But I'm pretty sure I love the series for the same reason we all love cowboys.
Walt Longmire is a man of strength and honor, upholding the law, doing what's right for his county. He respects people and understands them. He fights for truth and justice. He lives the "American way." Pardon me for borrowing the label from another superhero, but Superman has a lot in common with the cowboy.

So while we wait to watch Longmire or Man of Steel, we have books to read (like those to the right) that will fill the need to believe in honorable men who do the right thing. Just because that's who they are to the core of their being.

Wishing you many happy days of reading,
Megan

Megan Kelly
www.megankellybooks.com


Sunday, June 02, 2013

May Winner!!

CONGRATULATIONS JENNIFER GETSINGER!

You’re the May winner of two American Romance books. Please contact Lee McKenzie and Julie Benson through their Websites to receive your books. 

To enter the contest simply leave a blog comment and your name will go into the drawing. Who doesn't love FREE BOOKS?

Friday, May 24, 2013

DIY ~ why Lee redesigned a designer handbag

For me, a handbag is the ultimate accessory. It's functional, and everyone who knows me knows there are few things I love more than a Kate Spade handbag. I own an undisclosed number of them, but this is the first time I've had to rescue one.

I recently discovered a previously-owned Kate Spade bag at one of my favorite consignment stores for a very reasonable price, but it was marred by some terrible stains.

 
Other than the stains, the bag was in excellent condition with pristine leather trim and interior lining.
 
What to do?
 
If I bought the bag, could I remove the stains? If the stains couldn't be removed, could I figure out some other way to repair the bag? Of course I decided to go for it!
 

I tried everything I could think of to remove those stains...hair spray, baking soda, a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser...and nothing worked.

What to do?

Since I couldn't remove the stains, I needed to find a way to disguise them, and since this is a Kate Spade handbag, I needed to find a way to do it tastefully. Grosgrain ribbon is a signature Kate Spade trim, so I decided that would be the way to go.


I headed to the fabric store and bought a wide strip of cream-colored ribbon and narrow strip of black ribbon, and found some adhesive that would work with both fabric and the bag's plastic coating.

At home, I tested the adhesive on a narrow strip of ribbon and it worked, so I went to work on the bag. And this is the result.


The wide band of cream-colored ribbon does a beautiful job of covering the stains and matches the bag perfectly. The narrow black band adds a nice bit of contrast and, I like to think, a bit of designer flair. And now I can't believe I paid so little for this lovely designer handbag, or that I had the nerve to redesign it.

Does it work? What do you think? What do you think the Kate Spade people would think if they saw it?

Speaking of redesigns and DIYs, my two May releases deal with those very things.

Daddy, Unexpectedly (Harlequin American Romance) is the third book in my Seattle-set Ready Set Sold series about three best friends who run a business that renovates, stages and sells houses while they search for their own home sweet homes and happily ever afters.


In Maggie's Way (Harlequin Heartwarming), the heroine hires a contractor to renovate her house into a natural beauty spa and decides to work some of her magic on him, too.


Thanks for joining me today, and happy reading!

Lee
www.LeeMcKenzie.com 

Friday, May 17, 2013

What's on your "Mom" list?


Last week, I'm sure many of you had a list of reasons to wish your mother the happiest of Mother's Days and to thank her for all she has done. 

So did I.  

Here are a few of the things I'm most grateful for.  Thanks to my mother, I became:


  - a book lover

  - a lifelong reader

  - a writer


One of my earliest happy memories is of the day my mom took me to get my first library card.  And I do mean took me to get that card, because she couldn't get it for me.  According to the rules of our tiny local branch library, I needed to be able to print my own name on the application. 

Even at five years old, I knew just how much getting my very own library card would mean to me.  I practiced my printing every day, because I so wanted that small, yellow, rectangular piece of cardboard with my name on it.

And I aced the test, first time around!

Getting that library card eventually led me to become a student volunteer in the elementary school library.  Much later, it led me to selling a book—well, actually, two books—to Harlequin American Romance.  And not long after they were published, I found both of them on the shelves of my local library.  Can't you just imagine what a thrill that was!

I wish my mom had still been with us to know I'd gotten "the call."

A big thanks, Mom, for everything...

And a big thanks to you, Readers, for stopping by the blog.

Want to share something special your mother has done for you?

All my best to you,

Barbara

~~~~~~

Barbara White Daille


Monday, May 13, 2013

Getting to know: Tess Dalton (HOME TO THE COWBOY)

Today I'm kicking off my Getting to Know You Character Interview Series with Tess Dalton, the heroine from HOME TO THE COWBOY. ~Amanda

Hello, I’m Ava Vienne, entertainment reporter for the Ramblewood Gazette, and today I’m chatting with Tess Dalton.

Ava: Welcome back to Ramblewood, Texas. We haven’t seen you in a while.

Tess: Thank you, Ava; it’s good to be here.

Ava: You’re currently living in New York, right? How’s city life treating you?

Tess: You know the city, everyone’s always on the move.

Ava: I heard through the grapevine—

Tess: (laughs) The grapevine or Magpie gossip? Because I think I know where this is headed.

Ava: Okay, Magpie gossip has it that you’ve had some big changes in your life recently.

Tess: Um, there have been. I was engaged, now I’m not. I’m also looking for a new challenge career-wise.

Ava: So you were fired?

Tess: No, I was not fired, so please let’s not spread that rumor around. The firm I worked for downsized and my position was eliminated.

Ava: That’s where you were a web designer.

Tess: Web design and internet marketing.

Ava: Is that why you’ve come back to Ramblewood?

Tess: I’m here for Jesse and Miranda’s wedding, but the timing was perfect for an extended visit.

Ava: You were a no-show at Joe Langtry’s funeral a few months ago. I’m sure that shocked quite a few people considering your close relationship with the family.

Tess: Wow—I can see I’m getting the wire brush treatment here. I had some, um, scheduling conflicts and couldn’t get away. Can we redirect the questions here?

Ava: I hear you’re helping Cole Langtry develop a website for the horse therapy ranch he’s starting. He’s also your ex isn’t he? How’s it been working with him?

Tess: It’s called Dance of Hope and I’m actually designing the site with his mother, Kay, but yes, Cole and Jesse are following their father’s dream of building a place where the horse’s movement aids in the patients rehabilitation. I can’t even begin to tell you how incredible and enlightening it’s been to see this therapy in person. The other day I met the most amazing little girl named Ever, who has cerebral palsy and has gone from being wheelchair bound to walking with crutches and braces. I mean when you think about how much independence she’s gained from this therapy, it’s just unbelievable.

Ava: You seem very fond of Ever.

Tess: There is nothing this girl can’t accomplish. Her eyes light up with such enthusiasm over everything she does. It completely baffles me that someone hasn’t adopted her yet.

Ava: Ever’s an orphan?

Tess: Sadly, yes. Ever is one of thousands of special needs children who are given up for adoption because their birth parents either can’t handle the situation or can’t afford to care for them.

Ava: You could always adopt Ever, move back to Ramblewood and have her go to therapy at the Langtry’s Dance of Hope.

Tess: If life were only that simple. I’m not exactly equipped for adopting a child.

Ava: There’s still quite a bit of opposition to opening of Dance of Hope, isn’t there? Aren’t Cole’s brothers battling for control of the family fortune and blocking the facility from breaking ground.

Tess: I wouldn’t quite put it that way. Every new business has some wrinkles that need ironing.

Ava: How hard was it seeing Cole again after the past few year years?

Tess: (laughs) You’re really digging deep on this one. Um, it was fine, we’re fine, we’re friends.

Ava: But between us girls, he’ll always have a piece of your heart, won’t he?

Tess: Oh my God! Dramatic! The Langtrys will always be a part of my life which is why I came home for Jesse Langtry’s wedding.

Ava: Have you thought about settling down in Ramblewood and coming home to stay?

Tess: I have. I’ve toyed with opening my own business but I also have some feelers out in Austin and Dallas with some corporate headhunters. I’m not sure if New York is where I really want to be anymore. Never say never, but Ramblewood's not what I’m planning right now.

Ava: You could open up your own business here in town.

Tess: There aren’t any corporations in Ramblewood and what I do doesn’t really pertain to little mom and pop operations like we have here in town.  With today’s internet and with the resources available, anyone can design a professional looking website, have their business cards printed and promotional mailers sent out all within a few hours. I don’t see my services fitting in around here.

Ava: Not even with Cole Langtry?

Tess: Oh my God. What is with you and Cole Langtry? It’s over and done with and in the past.

Ava: Why did you break up? Everyone thought you two were the next couple to get married.

Tess: I don’t know why. We weren’t even together for that long. It’s so amazing that people have this vested interest in our relationship. We dated for a few months. We were best friends all our lives, we tried dating, it failed miserably and it’s over with. We weren’t meant to be a couple. Some people are just better off being friends.

Ava: Now wouldn’t he make a great father for Ever?

Tess: Okay, you know what, I’m done here. Thanks for the interview.

There you have it folks – Tess Dalton is back home in Ramblewood, Texas, but the question remains…is she back for Miranda and Jesse’s wedding or has she really come HOME TO THE COWBOY?

Ya'll come back now!

Love,
Ava

Her Heart Never Left
It seems as if all of Ramblewood, Texas, is far too up-to-date on Tess Dalton's love life, or rather, recent lack thereof. She thought the trip home would help heal her heart-instead it just put her face-to-face with the first man to crush it.

Cole Langtry is determined to fulfill his father's dream of building an equine-assisted therapy facility on Bridle Dance Ranch. He doesn't have time for distractions, especially of the heartbreaking brunette variety. What he and Tess once had should stay in the past.
But when one remarkable little girl finally brings Tess and Cole together, it's hard to remember why they're apart. They've never backed down from a challenge before, but facing their true feelings for each other might be the ultimate test.

Amanda Renee
BETTING ON TEXAS (March 2013)
HOME TO THE COWBOY (August 2013)
LEGACY OF A LONE STAR (Early 2014)

www.amandarenee.com
www.twitter.com/TheAmandaRenee
www.facebook.com/AmandaReneeFanPage

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Happy Mother's Day

Happy Mother's Day!

Throughout the U.S. and Canada, we set aside the second Sunday to celebrate mothers and motherhood.  But have you ever stopped to ask why? 


Mother's Day has its roots in ancient Greek and Rome.  Greeks honored the goddess Rhea, mother of many Greek deities, in spring celebrations that coincided with the lambing season, flowers in bloom, new life.  
 
Romans dedicated one of their spring celebrations to another mother goddess, Cybele.  This tradition was continued by early Christians who dedicated the fourth Sunday in Lent to the Virgin Mary and, by extension, to all mothers, on Mothering Sunday. 
 

But Mother's Day, as we know it, has far more recent roots.  One Sunday in May of 1908, Anne Jarvis brought armloads of her mother's favorite flowers, carnations, to her church in honor of her mother, the late social activist Anna Marie Reeves-Jarvis.  That day, every mother in the congregation received two carnations.  A year later, the church repeated the celebration in honor of all mothers...and a tradition was born.  This day of special recognition was so popular that Woodrow Wilson made it a national holiday in 1914. 
 
Today, carnations are still associated with Mother's Day.  White, to honor those who've passed on.  Red or pink to honor the mom's who are still with us.  We celebrate this special day with cards, gifts, by getting Mom out of the kitchen and taking her out to eat (my favorite part).
 
 
To my own mom, and to moms everywhere,  I wish you a Happy Mother's Day! 
 
 
 
 


Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Real Life Transforms Art

It's early for Mother's Day celebrations, but the holiday has me thinking of how many heroines I write as mothers. I've studied how that role influences their lives, and how my mom, my mother-in-law, and being a mother myself has changed my writing.

I know it has. Being a mom has made me a better person all-around, so I know I'm more sensitive, patient, and understanding. (You should have seen me before kids!) That's reflected in my heroines. They deal with life with a sense of humor, probably because I do. They delight in their children because I delight in mine. They are protective while seeing their kids' flaws. I'd say ditto, except my kids don't have flaws. [See previous note about a sense of humor getting one through life.]

When I look at my mom and mother-in-law, even my friends, family or strangers, and observe how they mother their children, I learn. Note I use "mother" as a verb. It is. "Parent" is also. I don't mean either word to substitute for "discipline," although that's part of it. A huge part. But again, I don't use discipline to mean "punish." It means teach, control. That's what parents do. Or should. I'm not getting into that here. I reveal my frustrations in my work. The next time some minor character is a horrible parent, I'm drawing on real-life observations. The kid who badgers his mom about buying him a sucker, despite her constant no, no, no answers--then gets the sucker when she's worn down? Yeah, he's in my book. He probably will grow up to be the villain. Or have a kid like that of his own.

 Back to the good moms.  They're not perfect, not in real life and not in my fiction. But they try their best and love with boundless depths of feeling. Self-sacrifice, not martyrdom, runs deep in some stories. I like to push the characters to see what they'll do. And every time, the moms come through.

So, thanks to my mom for giving me such a great role model. Ditto to my mother-in-law, my friends, family and those strangers who do the right thing. Our world is a better place because of those women who know "mother" is also a verb.

Megan

Megan Kelly
www.megankellybooks.com

Saturday, May 04, 2013

April Winner!!

CONGRATULATIONS L. DIANE WOLFE!

You’re the April winner of two American Romance books. Please contact Laura Marie Altom and Lee McKenzie through their Websites to receive your books.

To enter the contest simply leave a blog comment and your name will go into the drawing. Who doesn't love FREE BOOKS?

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

A Fine Line

Sometimes there's a very fine line between reality and fantasy, especially for writers like me to who love to create fictional settings based on real ones. I recently submitted a proposal for a three-book series set in a small town in Wisconsin that exists only in my imagination. However, it closely resembles the very real town of Wabasha, Minnesota, a charming town that I've visited several times while visiting family in the midwest.


Wabasha itself would make a lovely setting for a story, but I would worry about getting the details right, and I would really worry that one or more of my characters might resemble a real person who lives there. I don't actually know anyone who lives in Wabasha, but I wouldn't want anyone to jump to the wrong conclusion.

I wanted to keep the setting, though, so I hopped across the Mississippi and built a whole new town in Wisconsin, because as a writer, I can do that!


My town has a big wide Main Street lined with historic brick buidlings.

 
My town has beautiful homes that hug the banks of the Mississippi, and one that looks a lot like this one has been turned into a family-run B&B.


In my imagination I was able to give this home a stable full of horses and a beautiful gazebo that overlooks the river. Can you imagine a romantic interlude here? I can!

 
My town needed a name, of course, and again I looked to Wabasha for inspiration.
 
 
Every town has a cafe on Main Street, and in Wabasha it's the Rivertown Cafe. Hm. Rivertown. I liked that. That's how the town of Riverton, Wisconsin was created. Now I hope I get to write these stories about three sisters who call Riverton home, and the three men who come town and make it theirs.
 
Meanwhile, I'm happy to say I have two books being released in May.  Maggie's Way (Harlequin Heartwarming, May 1st, 2013) was originally published as The Man for Maggie (Harlequin American Romance, June 2007). It's been rewritten to fit the wholesome Heartwarming line, and I hope readers will love it every bit as much as the original. You won't find it in stores, but the larger print edition can be ordered from Harlequin and the electronic edition is available everywhere eBooks are sold, including Amazon.
 
 

Then on May 7th Daddy, Unexpectedly (Harlequin American Romance) goes on sale! This is the third book in my Seattle-set Ready Set Sold series about three women who run a business that renovates, stages and sells homes for other families while they search for their own home sweet homes and happily ever afters.
 
 
Throughout the month of May I'll be doing a series of guest blogs and giveaways, and also running some fun contests for my newsletter subscribers. To find out more, please drop by my website to find out where I'll be and to sign up for my newsletter. Happy reading!
 
Until next time,
Lee
 
 

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

April Fool's...just a bit late!

All of my books for Harlequin American Romance focus on home and family, which means they always feature babies and/or children.

Kids in romance novels? Yes, of course! They can increase conflict or, at the other end of the spectrum, lighten the tension between the hero and heroine. In my stories, I hope they do both somewhere along the line and wind up leaving the reader smiling.

In my post today, I'm sharing children of another type with you.  Sort of an April Fool's joke, as you'll see below—although these babies are foolin' around. (smile) 

They've been hangin' around for a while, too. And they're just too cute not to share. Enjoy!

~~~


 









All my best to you,

Barbara

Barbara White Daille http://www.barbarawhitedaille.com
https://twitter.com/BarbaraWDaille
http://www.facebook.com/barbarawhitedaille

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Attack of the Plumber's Crack!

It's been quite a week at Casa Altom, but then when is it not?! LOL! Out of dozens of minor annoyances, my "favorite" had to be the plumber.

We've lived in our home for eight years--I think.  Math's kinda tricky this early!  Anyway, during those eight years this is only the second time our kitchen sink has been clogged.  The first time, Hubby fixed the sink, but the plumbing snake knocked a hole in another pipe, which then exploded.  Not a good day!

This time around, sweet Hubby and Son valiantly plunged and Mr. Plumber'd, as did Daughter and I, but no way was that sink clearing.  As luck would have it, the dishwasher was full, as was the sink.  We'd just been to the store, so the counters were cluttered with dirty dishes, plus sacks of vegis needing to be washed for our fun new diet.  Time to call in an expert.

Said expert was supposed to have arrived in the morning.  By mid-afternoon, he finally showed.  And by showed, I mean displayed a bountiful buffet of plumber's crack!!!!!  After getting him a pan to scoop water, then towels, then locking up Cocoa and Daisy--he didn't like them looking at him--he next needed to use our bathroom, then finally fixed the clog.

Cocoa--Plumber Attack Dog #1
Daisy--Plumber Attack Dog #2

I got out the checkbook, thrilled I was on the verge of finally getting my house back!  At this point, I'd've paid double just to get the guy GONE!  But noooo, he stayed an extra ten minutes to give me a lecture.  Here's how it went:

Plumber:  Ma'am, I'm assuming you had someone else doing dishes for you lately?

Me:  Um, no . . .

Plumber:  So then, it was you . . .

Me:  I guess?


Plumber:  Well, ma'am, I was pretty sure you wouldn't make this kind of error . . .

Me:  Okay?  (Did he find a kitten down the drain?!)   

Plumber:  Ma'am . . . (He hitches up his pants.) I'm sorry to tell you, but you can't be putting all that rice and onion down your drain--or anything.

Me:  I thought I was supposed to put stuff like that down the disposal?

Plumber:  No, ma'am.

Me:  Okay?

Plumber:  And, ma'am, I'm supposed to charge you double for having used Mr. Plumber, but I'm not gonna do that, 'cause you seem real nice.

Me:  Um, thank you?

Plumber:  Just don't do it again, ma'am.  You're gonna melt your pipes right out of your house.

Me.  Okay.  Good to know.  (Now, give me the >*&^%$ bill and get the *&^%$%# out of my house)

When I finally handed him his check, I couldn't help thinking that was the best money we ever spent, because If I'd had to spend two more seconds with the guy, it wouldn't have been pretty . . .

At least in my rich fantasy life!  In the real world, at times, I'm far too polite--but working hard to change this habit when necessary!  LOL!!

Got any "fun" plumbing stories to share?

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Picnic Time!


My best friend is flying into town this weekend for a “girls weekend”. I haven’t seen Kelli in a few years and I’m looking forward to cutting loose and taking some road trips.

Our friendship began twelve years ago, when I was the new girl at the company we both worked for.  Kelli’s department was down the hall from mine and one day she sent me an email with a list of “getting to know you questions”, ranging from do you have tattoos?  to what kind of music do you like? It was the beginning of a lifelong friendship and I often refer to Kelli as my unbiological sister.
Harlequin® American Romance® is about family, friends and community and in my debut release, BETTING ON TEXAS, there is a 4th of July picnic scene where the entire town gathers to meet Double Trouble’s new owner, Miranda Archer.  She’s the new kid on the block, completely out of her element, not unlike I was during my first year as a newbie author. The annual picnic is a place where people can relax and spend time with their friends and neighbors.

My readers are part of my extended family and I love learning about the people reading what I poured my heart and soul into.  To me, the reader/author relationship is very similar to a community picnic…we’re all gathered together and I’m sitting in the middle telling the stories.

Spring's here and it's pretty warm down here in the south. Join me for a month long, community picnic so we can get to know each other better.   Who’s up for the Question Game?

Choose one…choose them all…ask anything back!

  • What’s something most people don’t know about you?
  • What is the scariest movie you ever saw?
  • If you were marooned on an island with a single person, who would you want it to be?
  • Do you have any hidden talents?
  • What’s the #1 most played song on your iPod?
  • What is your favorite body part?
  • What sound do you love the most?
  • If you could throw any kind of party, what would it be like and what would it be for?
  • If you could choose to stay a certain age forever, what age would it be?
  • If you could witness any event past, present or future, what would it be?
  • If you could be any fictional character, who would you choose?
  • When you have 30 minutes of free-time, how do you pass the time?
  • What was the last movie, TV show or book that made you cry or get weepy?
  • What was one of the best parties you’ve ever been to?
  • What do you miss most about being a kid?

Don’t forget to pick up a copy of BETTING ON TEXAS so you can see how Miranda made out at her first community picnic.
Amanda Renee
Betting on Texas (March 2013)
Home to the Cowboy (August 2013)
Legacy of a Lone Star (Early 2014)


www.amandarenee.com
www.twitter.com/TheAmandaRenee
www.facebook.com/AmandaReneeFanPage

Friday, April 12, 2013

Coming Home

When my husband and I finally returned to central Florida after twenty years of moving about the country, I have to admit, I envisioned the whole town turning out to greet us. 


I quickly squelched such utterly foolish ideas.  I'd settle for a banner strung across the front door, I told myself.


I could practically taste my mom's fried chicken and the made-from-scratch banana pudding she'd serve for dessert.  I imagined Dad taking the tarp off the old Chevy I'd left in the barn.  By the time I got home, he'd have it road-worthy again.

But once again, I'd let my imagination get away from me. 



In the first place, there was no barn.  No Chevy, either.  And since Mom had spent five of the last twenty years moving from place-to-place with my family, if I wanted my favorite meal, I'd have to fix it myself.  Or, more likely, pick it up at the grocery store.

Once reality sunk in, I realized that coming home is rarely what we imagine.  In my mind, everything I'd left behind had stayed the same while I was "out there" exploring the great big world (or moving from one mundane job to another).  But my parents, sister, cousins and friends hadn't exactly been sitting around waiting for me.  They'd moved on with their lives, too.  I didn't fit as neatly back into the scheme of things as I thought I would.  I had some adjusting to do.

In the Rancher's Homecoming series, the next three books I'm writing for Harlequin American, Seth and Doris's five sons come back home to the Circle P, the setting for Rancher's Son

 
But, they make many of the same discoveries I made when I finally moved back "home." 
 
 
Things are different on the ranch they left behind.  There's a new cook in the kitchen and, not only does she make a mean fried chicken, she looks mighty fine while she's doing it.  The neighbor's daughter, the one all the boys loved to tease so much, has exchanged her tomboy looks for quiet sophistication.  The nearby town has grown, and the owner of the new music store on the corner has every cowboy within fifty miles strumming a guitar.
 
 
Yes, things have changed.  And I'm having a lot of fun seeing how these rugged ranchers react to the changes that have taken place on the Circle P in the years they've been away.  I hope you will, too, when the Rancher's Homecoming series reaches store shelves next year.  

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

MARCH WINNER!!

CONGRATULATIONS LANEY4!

You’re the March winner of two American Romance books. Please contact C.J. Carmichael and Roxann Delaney through their Websites to receive your books.

To enter the contest simply leave a blog comment and your name will go into the drawing. Who doesn't love FREE BOOKS?

Sunday, April 07, 2013

My Favorite Heroes

Heroes. They make us laugh. They make us cry. They make us fall in love with them. It doesn't seem to matter if they're bad boys that need redeeming or knights with gleaming armor.
Or does it?
We're celebrating the cowboy hero these days--that uniquely American white knight. Our ideal of a man's man that women can't resist. Whether he's spare with words or a smooth-talker, the heroines find him fascinating. As do readers and writers.
So, I'm wondering, do readers have a preference? Here's a list of some heroes I've loved in the past, and you can think of some more, I'm sure. I'd love to hear feedback from you.

actor, architect, artist, athlete (professional), bartender, boy next door, businessmen, chef, computer/software designer, construction worker, cop/sheriff/deputy, cowboy, doctor, farmer, firefighter, geologist, handyman, lawyer, mechanic, military, salesman, scientist, teacher, vet, zookeeper (couldn't resist making it stretch A-Z)

This is just a quick, top of my head list, certainly not intended to be all-inclusive.  Please chime in with your favorites, adding yours if not listed here.
And if you don't think his job matters all that much, I'd like to know that too.

Megan Kelly
www.megankellybooks.com

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Spring Cleaning: Five Easy Tips

Does anyone do "spring cleaning" anymore, or has it become optional, like ironing your t-shirts or folding hospital corners when you make the bed? When I was a kid, every April my mother would wash all the windows and walls, air the quilts and pillows, scrub everything that could be scrubbed and polish everything that could be polished. This work would be accomplished in about five twelve-hour days. Do any of us spend twelve hours doing continuous housework anymore? Confession: I sure don't. Still, having a clean house is nice, I must agree. I just think we need a new approach. A somewhat more relaxed approach. After all, there is more to life than a clean house. (We're supposed to stop and smell the flowers, remember?)



 Here are my top five Spring Cleaning tips:

 1. Don't spring clean in the spring Never tackle a big housecleaning project when the sun is shining and the world is calling you to come out and play. Pick a cold, rainy day or a nasty snowy day. November and January are my personal, favorite months for "spring cleaning."

Perfect day for "Spring Cleaning"


2. Break the job into small bits: Don't attempt to clean the entire house in one weekend. Pick a room, or if that's too much commitment for you, single out a closet, or if even that seems overwhelming, a shelf in the closet. If you even clean one drawer in your bathroom, you'll be amazed at how satisfying it feels.

 3. Donate to Goodwill I am constantly dropping off things at Goodwill, because I'm not a fan of clutter. Clutter makes it difficult to find things. Clutter collects dust and trips you in the dark when you're trying to find that book you were reading and can't stop thinking about.

Like this book, for instance


 4. Listen to Good Music and Drink Wine Hey, why not?

 5. Share your Accomplishment With Others You've worked hard--it's time to get some accolades. At a recent dinner party I invited everyone to inspect my Tupperware drawer. So tidy and clean! Everyone was suitably impressed. And by impressed, I mean they'd had plenty of wine.

 I'd love to hear your favorite spring cleaning tip. Share one below and I'll enter your name in a draw for your choice of two of my books on Kindle (you get to pick the titles) or 1 of my back-list autographed books (I'll surprise you with a title).

Monday, April 01, 2013

Researching medical matters--and more


Since I write the Safe Harbor Medical miniseries for Harlequin American, I make a point of keeping up with research and other developments affecting fertility, babies, births and other medical issues.

In looking over the research files I kept for my March release, The Baby Jackpot, I found that I’d also searched the Internet about the city of Minneapolis (my hero’s hometown) and how to treat a knee injury as well as egg donations, male fertility and nurses in the operating room.

Although some of the research is simple, some of my files get rather long. The male fertility file (my hero specializes in the field) contains sixteen sections. The one on causes and risk factors for infertility has six subsections.

You might assume that I love doing research. Well, not always. I am very interested in medical subjects, however, and I’m incredibly grateful for the Internet. When I began selling novels thirty years ago, I had to call up professionals in various fields and presume upon their kindness to answer my questions.

I once called the local coroner’s office to find out how you could poison someone and make it look like an accident. Might have gotten myself arrested, but fortunately, I found someone willing to accept my explanation that I’m an author—and to provide an answer. The information was for my supernatural murder mystery Echoes, now available as an ebook.

Speaking of ebooks, I’ve recently redesigned a couple of covers for my revised and re-released books. This is a learning process, and reader reactions and sales teach me a lot. You might call it a different kind of research.

Every month, I offer a special ebook deal. In April, complete with a new cover, the Kindle and Nook editions of Unlikely Partners are only 99 cents at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

Thanks for reading! 
Jackie's website
Jackie's Facebook page

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Fiber-licious Muffins, and other good things

Have you ever noticed how muffins that taste really, really good tend to be more like cake? And how muffins that are reasonably good for you can be a little like cardboard? I think I finally found a solution, and I'm calling them fiber-licious!


Lee's Fiber-licious Muffins

1 1/2 cups flour
3/4 cup ground flax seed (not whole)
3/4 cup oat bran
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 medium carrots, peeled and finely shredded
2 medium apples, peeled and finely shredded
1/2 cup raisins
1 cup chopped pecans
2 eggs, beaten
1/4 melted butter
3/4 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Mix the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Stir in the carrots, apples, raisins and nuts. In a separate bowl, beat the eggs and stir in the melted butter, milk and vanilla. Pour the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients and blend just until the dry ingredients are moist. Line a muffin pan with paper cups and fill the cups 3/4 full.
Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, using a toothpick to test for doneness.
Makes about 16 fiber-licious muffins.
Enjoy!

I also have some rather delicious news this month!

The Daddy Project (Harlequin American Romance, December 2012) is being reissued as a Mills & Boon Sweet romance in Australia and New Zealand on April 1, and they've given it a brand new cover.



One book...two covers...worlds apart!

I'm also thrilled to have two May releases! Maggie's Way (Harlequin Heartwarming) will be available on May 1.


...and Daddy, Unexpectedly (Harlequin American Romancce) will be out on May 7.


I have a blog tour lined up for early May and will be doing lots of giveaways, including copies of my books and other fun stuff. Links and details will be posted on my website and in my newsletter, Life in the Slow Lane.

Happy reading! Until next time,
Lee
www.LeeMcKenzie.com