Friday, September 29, 2017

Favorite Romance Tropes


My favorite romance trope is the "marriage of convenience" story. Seven of my first nine published historical romances followed this trope, including my first published book, A Duke Deceived, which was a finalist for Best First Book (Holt Medallion) and won the Notable New Author distinction back in 1999. My 2005 One Golden Ring (the enhanced version now titled His Golden Ring) won the Holt Medallion as Best Historical, and it too was a marriage-of-convenience story. So I think readers must like marriage-of-convenience stories as much as I.

In my House of Haverstock series the first three of these lighthearted  romances are marriage of convenience stories.

 
Another of my favorite tropes in a romance novel is the "ugly duckling" story. I used this in my To Take This Lord, His Lordship'sVow, and in my novella "Home for Christmas" which appears in my Christmas anthology Christmas Brides: 3 Regency Novellas. I also used it in my novel My Lord Wicked, which won Best Historical in the International Digital Awards in 2011. I think we all love to pull for the underdog, especially the Plain Jane who gets the prince. Those resonate with all us Plain Janes who seem to populate the earth. 


Still-another favored trope is the "fish-out-of-water" story. I like, sometimes, to take a nerd who's uninterested in romance and make the sparks fly. I did this in my 2014 Love in the Library (Brides of Bath Book 5) and its sequel, A Christmas in Bath. To me—who's married to a nerd—nerds can be very hot.


What are your favorite tropes in romance fiction?--Cheryl Bolen's last release, Miss Hastings' Excellent London Adventure, used a marriage-of-convenience trope. 

Thursday, September 28, 2017

At Midnight preorder and release @lcrandallwriter





I'm very excited to share that At Midnight, an anthology featuring authors Lainee Cole, Rena Koontz, and me, is releasing Oct. 2! It's available right now for preorder at 99cents!

Three talented authors. Three love stories. Three approaching deadlines.

 Midnight Casanova, by Lainee Colle 

Stranded at midnight by a broken-down car, dog trainer Maddie Lockhart finds refuge in a deserted farmhouse. When the owner of the house, Chance Marlow, tries to oust her, Maddie uses the stray mutt he calls Casanova to convince him she can help with his collection of homeless animals. While their paths seem incompatible, working side-by-side to rescue animals, they discover otherwise.

Two Days Until Midnight, by Lynn Crandall

Bird-shifter Lark Ellis has spent her life shielding her true identity. Now, to protect her flock’s habitat she’s taken a job that pits her mission against her secret and her integrity.

Reclusive billionaire architect and CEO of Global Environments, Tamier Rein lost his freedom and his dreams the day a Society assassin cursed him and changed him into a were-cheetah. Imprisoned by uncontrollable transing, he faces a devastating condition of his curse on the Autumn Solstice.

Lark risks her identity and all she holds dear to help Tamier as their relationship develops into a promise of true love. As the deadline looms, Tamier must let her teach him to live or lose everything in two days. 

Midnight Deadline for Love, by Rena Koontz

T.B. Amanscott is Harrison City’s wealthiest man and his kidnappers are demanding one million dollars ransom by midnight. Police Sergeant Ariana Jeanne Lozione is tasked with saving the man’s life. T.B. Amanscott is both revered and feared in the corporate world. Women throw themselves into his bed and men emulate his business savvy. Everyone wants him safe and back home. Everyone except Sergeant Lozione, who knows T.B. Amanscott on a more intimate level.  Her heart learned firsthand how ruthless T.B. Amanscott can be. While the city pulls out all stops to find him alive, Ariana Lozione wishes he were dead.

Find At Midnight on Amazon at http://a.co/14jjvX8

Monday, September 25, 2017

Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Thong by @BonnieEdwards #GemsinAttic

Lately, I've spent considerable time working on updates to Twinkle, Twinkle Little Thong, The Diamond Series Book 1. The new version is now available here:

books2read.com/Twinkle-Twinkle-Little-Thong



A secret that should never be exposed… 

When a bundle of trouble AKA one lively mutt absconds with an -- umm -- expensive piece of underwear, Frankie Volpe gives chase and lands on the deck of a float home owned by a man she’s secretly lusted for. 

But the $50,000 thong? Nowhere to be found. The mutt was better at hiding stuff than Frankie! 

All she wants is her regular, boring, real, Chicago life back but all her good luck turned bad and Frankie’s hiding out in Victoria, British Columbia. 

Daniel Martin is a late-night blues radio host who’s been aware of Frankie since she arrived in the marina. The mysterious, sexy, Frankie seems standoffish until she needs his help tracking an odd piece of clothing his dog scampered off with. 

Soon, their attraction flares into something neither of them expects and Daniel accepts a job in a brand new timeslot in a new market -- Chicago -- the last place in the world Frankie can go. Frankie’s secret is about to be exposed.

Will the truth about her good karma gone bad clear the path for them or send Frankie running again? 


Here's a short sample:


Francesca Volpe couldn’t remember squat about numbers. Never could. So she wrote important ones down until they stuck in her memory. Sooner or later, she’d remember the combination of this safe. But sooner wasn’t now, so she yanked at the piece of paper in her shorts pocket and flattened it out on the wall in front of her while she dialed the combination.
            Finally, the safe door clicked open.
            Blown away by the fact that she even had to use a safe, she dug way into the back. Fiona’s thong was in here somewhere.
            Cold, hard diamonds against warm, soft velvet filled her hand and she lifted the scrap of material gently. Fiona should have kept the thong in the designer’s box, but no; her sister had decided the rich didn’t give a rat’s ass about their possessions so she didn’t have to either.
             The thong caught on a corner of a thick manila file. Anxious not to tear the velvet, she set it down, and then pulled everything that could possibly be in the way, out of the safe.
            She took out a fireproof box that contained so many important papers her head swam. It held her sister’s will, her sister’s house deed, and her sister’s insurance policy. Next came file folders, then a copy of her parents’ will. Everything came out, even the ownership papers for the yacht.
            A yacht for Cripe's sake.
            Frankie Volpe was standing in the saloon of a yacht with four staterooms. Up to her armpit in a wall safe and she still couldn’t believe it. Go figure!
            And since when was a living room called a saloon? They belonged in old westerns, not on million dollar floating palaces.
            She leaned in tight to the wall and winked at the scruffy brown dog that had all but adopted her. “Hey boy, how you doin?”
            He cocked his head and wagged his stubby tail. She’d decided he must’ve had it caught in a door when he was a puppy. It wasn’t cropped exactly, more like he just lost the tip. He was her kind of dog, lost, lonely, a little rough around the edges, but lovable.
            “Ah! Got it. Finally.” She pulled out the thong and set it carefully on the coffee table in front of the leather settee. Looked more like a built-in sofa to her, but she still had a lot of boating terms to learn.
            She considered the thong. Diamonds, glittering and cold, littered the front V of black velvet. She shivered to think of all those sharp edges so close to the joy button. Oh, ugh.
            The deep safe had been stuffed full. She took care to set all the papers and files back into the safe in reverse order, to be sure it fit.
            When she turned back to talk to Scruffy, all she saw was his stubby tail and wet feet heading top side. He’d snatched the thong off the table and taken off with it.
            “Hey! You little pervert! Give me back that thong!”
            But he was gone when she got to the deck. His bouncing short tail was just visible as he raced along the floating dock toward the houseboats tied up a couple of docks over. A small community of houseboaters called the marina home.
            Her former doggy pal must live over there in one of the houseboats.
            She took off at a dead run after him, not caring that she was barefoot, night was falling and the floating dock was strewn with heavy gauge rope and chains. She picked her way as quickly as she could through the obstacles, keeping one eye on the scruffster as she went.
            She wasn’t quick enough. He disappeared for a full minute, but she’d bet anything he’d taken off for the waterfront park on Dallas Road. Oh, shit, if he got to the off-leash part of the park, he’d drop the thong for sure.
            She ran faster, no longer needing to watch him except in her mind’s eye. He was a playful mutt, sure to have doggy pals. She imagined a tug of war, the velvet tearing into several pieces, the diamonds flying in every direction. “Shit! Shitshitshit!”
            Her thighs burned with her run, her lungs strained, but her heart knew she’d lost him. She bit back a sob, gathered strength and picked up her pace again.
            She reached the bottom of the ramp, steep now because it was low tide. Grabbing onto the rail for support, she dashed up the incline. She dragged in a heaving breath. Her chest blazed hot and she could swear she felt the beginnings of a heart attack.
            Oh, man, how did she ever get this out of shape?
            She wheezed once more and launched her aching self up the ramp, metal surface rough against her bare feet. The hard metal honeycomb was there to prevent slipping in heavy weather, but for bare feet, it was a killer.
            She reached the halfway point when the dog reappeared at the top of the ramp and headed straight down toward her, tongue lolling out of his mouth.
            Lolling out of his empty mouth.
            She stopped, put her hands on her knees and dragged in a deep, burning breath. Her grateful lungs expanded.
            “You...you...lost it...I’ll...I’ll...kill...kill...”
            He licked her hand as he trotted past her down the ramp. At the bottom, he turned right toward the houseboats.
            Frankie dragged her body the remaining few feet to the top of the ramp, then searched the immediate area, but there was no thong in sight. He’d disappeared for long enough to bury it, or tear it up, or worse, hand it off to another dog whose owner would recognize the diamonds for what they were. A bonanza.
            Lightheaded, she sank to her butt and laid her head to rest on the rail support. That thong was worth fifty thousand dollars!
            She had to get it back.
            If she was lucky, they’d find it when they did the dog’s autopsy. She scanned the marina laid out below her.
            The floating dock was cement and ran from right to left with several docks running perpendicular, like straight fingers out into the harbor. Each finger contained several slips. To the left was the marina side or the visitor’s pier with visiting boats of varying sizes. Farther down were the fishing boats. To the right of the ramp were three fingers for houseboats. A subdivision of them, in fact.
            She’d liked them, and the idea, at first sight.
            But the sight she wanted now was of the dog, heading to the one he called home.
            His bouncy rear end showed up as he reached the third finger.
            A man–correction–the man who’d been watching her every time she was within view, whistled to Scruffy. The dog bounded faster.
            She couldn’t lose sight of the dog again, so she dashed down the ramp as fast as her bare feet on the rough steel would allow.
            Whistling for the scruffy little dog might not mean a thing. Maybe the hunk was just another soft touch who fed the beast, the way she did. Either way, he hadn’t seen her mad dash because he turned away and sat on one of the lawn chairs on his deck. He faced away from her toward the inner harbor and put his feet up on the deck rail. Settling in for the night, she assumed. Great. He could help her search for the thong.

~ ~ ~ ~
                       
Daniel Martin cracked open a beer and settled in to watch the ferry to Seattle churn out of the harbor. One beer before work took the edge off, warmed his throat, soothed his nerves and put him into a blues frame of mind. He’d gone from domestic brands to beer from all over the globe to test the effects of each one. Tonight’s was Dutch. He tilted the bottle away, glanced at the label out of habit, ran his tongue around his teeth to gather the flavor then took another sip. Not bad.
            He put his feet up on the rail of his float home and nearly dropped his brew when Barkley jumped into his lap. “Easy there, boy, you’d think you’d know better than to squish the package. Oof! Get off.” He picked Barkley’s back paw out of his crotch with a grunt. Instant relief. 
            The dog licked his chin.
            “Is that—is that—your dog?” asked a husky, heavy-breathing female voice from behind him. He craned his neck around and dropped his feet to the deck at the same time.
            It was the hottie he’d noticed from the yacht on the marina side. “You could say that. He’s been mooching off me so long, I guess he does live here.”
            Good thing his paw hadn’t damaged the goods. The goods in question sprang to life, as usual, at the sight of the compact, dark-haired dynamo.
            The woman was built just for him, he was sure of it. And it was about time she showed up. They’d been glancing each other’s way ever since she’d washed ashore.
            He grinned, thinking the dog was good for at least three doggie snacks for delivering her. “Has Barkley caused trouble?”
            Her chest heaved in and out a couple times, breasts rising and falling with each heave. He did his best not to look, but she was in a bikini top that left little to the imagination. And Daniel had a great imagination. “Down, boy,” he said, not sure if he was talking to Barkley or his libido.
            “He took a thong. And I didn’t see where. It’s not anywhere near the top of the ramp because I followed him.”
            “I see. Was it leather? He’s got a thing for leather.” So did Daniel, but it wasn’t the time to mention it. “Shoes, that is.” Maybe after he got her shoe back for her, she’d be grateful.
            “Not a shoe. A thong.” She looked exasperated. “You know.” Deep heave. “Underwear.” Her breath was still labored, still entertaining him with soft jiggles of flesh and cleavage.
            The image of her fine behind parted by a thin strip of leather, made him sit up fast and straight. He put his hands up in surrender. “Oh, I see. As much as he loves leather, he loves women’s underwear even more.” The count was now officially up to four dog biscuits. “His favorite day of the week is when Bitsy Mayer, two slips over, does her laundry. He takes her panties all the time.”
            “I don’t give a rat’s ass about Bitsy somebody’s underwear.”
            He played at being offended. “Bitsy does. She’s on a fixed income and the underwear she favors is expensive,” he quipped.
            His reward? A reluctant lopsided grin that winded him with its hesitant charm. He went on, digging for more. “They come with that heavy duty flat panel in the front to firm the belly and some kind of stitching up the back to make the most of her butt.”
            Damn things cost him a fortune every month. “I’m beginning to suspect Bitsy enjoys the idea of me shopping for her undies.” He gave an exaggerated shiver. “Bitsy’s sixty-eight.”
            Her raised eyebrows put an end to the fun. Her smile disappeared. So, okay, she wasn’t impressed with his comedy. He’d always been better with the blues.
            But still, a lady shouldn’t have to fight with Barkley over her underwear.   “Are you sure you want your thong back after he’s dragged it all over the pier? He chows down on them sometimes. Tears the crotches right out.”
            “Yes, I want it back! Regardless of the condition. He ran up the ramp with it and I’ve got to get it back. Do you know if he has a hidey hole anywhere? Does he bury stuff?”
            She looked about to cry.
            “Hey, it’s a thong. I’ll buy you a new one.” He liked that idea. Much more fun than buying for Bitsy.
            “It’s a special thong. My sister needs it. She’s on her honeymoon and she called to have me send it to her.” Her voice got higher and more agitated with every syllable. She sounded desperate now.
            “It’s not yours?” That was too bad, he liked the idea of fantasizing about her in a thong. He’d never seen the sister. “You can buy your sister another. I’ll take you to a nice lingerie store I know.” That could be fun.
            She looked about to spit nails. “I’ve got to find that one. It’s special.”
            “How special?”
            “Very. Look, it’s got sentimental value. She bought it to celebrate her engagement and planned to take it on her honeymoon. Now she’s on her honeymoon and she wants it.”
            “I see.” He pretended to think hard when all he could really think about was the spectacular rise and fall of her breasts. He didn’t want to be a pig, but he was a red-blooded male and there they were: round and pert with the nipples that pointed upward like two perfect pearls. “You could still buy her a replacement,” he suggested.
            She took another deep breath, but this time he figured it was one of those looking-for-patience deep breaths that women did so well, not an out-of-breath-from-running kind of heave.
            And a woman looking for patience was not likely to agree to a date. “I’m sorry, but I don’t have a clue where he’d bury it. But I can help you look for it first thing in the morning. I get home from the station around five a.m.”
            It wouldn’t kill him to stay up a few extra hours after his shift to wait for her.
            “You’re leaving?” She looked at the beer bottle rising from his lap, condensation slipping and sliding down onto his hands. Kinda looked like his. . .
            “Yep. I’m on the air at midnight. It takes fifteen minutes to get to the station.” He stood. “I take an hour to prep so I’d better get moving. I can wait for you to wake up before I hit the sack for the day. But if you wait until much after seven I’ll be pretty useless. So, I’ll see you bright and early?” The question was all about her name, not about when he’d see her.
            “Frankie. I’m Frankie Volpe. And I hate early mornings. So, if I don’t find it, I’ll still be searching the park when you get home. Look for me there.”
            “You sure that’s a good idea? That park’s not the healthiest place to be after eleven or so. It’s used by all the normals until then. A lot of people take their dogs for the last walk of the night along the path.”
            “I’ll be fine. I’ve been in tougher neighborhoods and survived.” Her eyes glittered and her chin came up, stubborn and cute as hell.
            “What’s this thing look like anyway?”
            “It’s sparkly. Very sparkly. Black velvet. With rhinestones all over it.”
            “Sounds like it would hurt.”
            She rolled her eyes. “Looks even worse,” she said and gave Barkley a scowl before she turned and headed back down the float.
            “You must love your sister a lot if you’re willing to search all night,” he called after her.
            She waved a hand without turning back.
            “Barkley, man, I owe you big time. Frankie Volpe is definitely the catch of the day.” Then he remembered she hadn’t cared to ask his name.
            “Hey!” he called again, aware that everyone on this side of the marina could hear him. “I’m Daniel and I’m on CHOK radio, the blues show from midnight to four. Give me a listen tonight. Maybe I can figure out where Barkley hid it.”
            She gave him a salute and took her fine ass up the ramp.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Time to slow it down @Liz Flaherty

Slow down and smell them...


I am overwhelmed.

It is a common affliction for writers. For women. For retired people. For people who like to volunteer. For people who have jobs. For people who can't--and don't want to--say No.

It is a problem.

I asked our pastor Sunday what to do when I felt overwhelmed. I know he is sometimes, too--or I think he is--so it was, you know, kind of an entrapment question. I was sure he'd say, "Pray." Duh.

And he did. Sort of. But better than that, he suggested something to pray for. He suggested I pray for things to slow down. For life to slow down. For me to slow down.

I think it's working.

See you next time, when I might have more to say. Until then, slow down.


Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Freedom! by @BonnieEdwards #GemsinAttic



FREEDOM

Synonyms (a short list)


Liberty

Self-determination

Independence

Choice

Sovereignty

Lack of restriction




Freedom means to me all of the above. As an independently publishing author, I make use of every one of the above synonyms. I have the liberty to publish my work myself, the choice of which stories will be published and when.
I have no restrictions on what to include in my books and I have the self-determination to market my books as I see fit. As for sovereignty? I am the Queen of my domain. 

Recently I started revisions on an older Kensington title with an eye to publishing it again with a new title, cover and freshened prose. As I worked I realized that this book which has a stolen cache of diamonds, a murder, and repercussions from over 50 years ago could easily be linked to another Kensington title. Also, it deserved to be longer. 

When I was first writing these two novellas I was restricted to writing single books and wasn't encouraged to think of series. I wasn't free to make so many of the decisions that I'm able to make today.

My plan now is to take Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Thong off the market and make both stories stronger, and connect them. 

As to marketing, I'll be re-releasing them as a couplet with the option to add to this series later. Because I can. Because I'm free.


Friday, September 15, 2017

Alpha Heroes: Valentino to Sweet Savage Love by @JoanReeves

Photo from Wikipedia
First, the apology. I totally missed my last blog dates. Life has been crummy of late then Hurricane Harvey visited on Aug. 25 which was the icing on the cake. Hopefully by the time you read this, the damage should be repaired.

Today, I should be posting a Lucky 7 interview. Instead, I'm posting what I would have posted on Sept. 1, my usual first Friday of the month blog date.

Last month, on August 23, I read that it was Valentino Day and that sparked my imagination so I looked him up. He was the heartthrob hero back in the silent film era who made women all over the world swoon.

If you don't know of this dark-haired Italian with the piercing gaze, ask your grandmother or great-grandmother.

It's not such a reach to say that he was the model for all of the alpha male heroes that appeared in early romance novels.

Tight Breeches and Ripped Bodices

Those books of thrusting loins and heaving bosoms starred men who were as likely to smack a woman around as to make love to her. Definitely not my cup of tea. I like a manly man, but I like him to be the kind of man who protects women, not abuses them. But I digress. 

Actually, I didn't know Rudolph Valentino had a day commemorating his death. The fact that he does is testament to his influence on popular culture in his time. In reality, this silent film heartthrob was Rudolfo Alfonzo Raffaelo Piero Filibert Guglielmi De Valentina D’Antonguolla. Born in Italy, Valentino had applied for American citizenship shortly before his death.

News of his death caused mass hysteria worldwide among his fans--mostly women--much as fans act today upon the untimely passing of an iconic celebrity.

During his life, he starred in The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, The Sheik, Blood and Sand, The Eagle, and Son of the Sheik.

The Sheik, a 1919 novel by E. M. Hull (Edith Maude Hull), was already a huge bestseller, but Valentino breathed life into the brooding alpha male.

There are several editions of this book offered on Amazon, some with a demure cover reminiscent of the 1920's, and some with a racy new cover like the one shown at right in case you'd like to check it out.

Forced Submission

If you've ever read The Sheik, then you know that the sheik "forces submission" upon the heroine although the language from that era is restrained, not in your face as today's novels are.

I don't know if that book/film was responsible for the rape fantasy that many women are said to have, but I do know that Valentino's portrayal firmly entrenched the desert romance or sheik romance, as a popular trope in romance fiction.

By the way, Ms. Hull wrote several more novels with desert settings. They were some of the most popular commercial fiction of that era. I've even heard several popular romance authors of today cite The Sheik as the most romantic book they ever read.

That forced submission theme found a new audience in the 1970's with novels by Rosemary Rogers, author of the 1974 bestseller, Sweet Savage Love.which weighed in at 712 printed pages.

Rogers was the second historical romance author to be published in trade paperback--Kathleen E. Woodiwiss, the mother of the historical romance revolution, was the first.

Rogers was one of the most popular authors in Avon's stable at a time that Avon ruled the historical romance scene. Her heroes were alpha males who could be brutal in the treatment of the heroine, but the heroines in Ms. Rogers's novels usually gave as good as they got.

Today's Alpha Hero

In our time, the most popular alpha hero is a man who can walk on the wild side yet be a polite gentleman to women. He appreciates women for the gifts they bring to the world. To the woman he loves, he's tender and protective. His wild side doesn't come out unless the woman he loves is threatened. That's the kind of alpha hero I love.

That's the kind of hero I've written in Heat Lightning, Book 1, Outlaw Ridge, Texas, which is free if you're a Kindle Unlimited subscriber, and only $2.99 if you're not.

David Galloway is the middle brother of three. He earned his happily ever after in Heat Lightning, so it's time for his older brother John to get his shot at happiness.

Things are going to be tougher for John though because the woman he loves is a spy who lies for a living.

How did John get tangled up with Sabrina Snow, a woman whose granite exterior conceals a lonely heart?

John's story is Dead Heat, Book 2, Outlaw Ridge, Texas.

Since I didn't get it published due to Harvey, I've kept tinkering with the story so it has grown beyond its original size.

Actually, I'm finding it difficult to let go of Sabrina, the heroine with lots of secrets to expose. *LOL*

Sign up for my newsletter and be the first to know when Dead Heat is available. Or Follow me on my Amazon Author page.

Post Script

Joan Reeves is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author.

She'd be delighted if you’d follow her on Amazon, Facebook, and Twitter.

Click here to get a FREE ebook. The download link will be sent to your Inbox for a free copy of one of Joan's most popular romance novels.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

The End or the Beginning.... @kathleenlawless

I lit the fireplace the other evening for the first time in many months.  Luckily it only meant clicking a remote; I doubt I would have bothered had it meant hauling and chopping wood, and much as I enjoyed the convenience I confess to feelng a tiny pang as the end of summer draws ever closer.  I'm not ready yet to let it go.  I have enjoyed every sun-filled, fun-filled, joyous, fragrant day and practiced hard at being in the moment whether I was at the beach, on a hike, or at an outdoor concert or barbeque.

As I watch summer fade, I remind myself fall is good.  Fall means cashmere sweaters, cute boots, cozy nights by the fire, rich slow-cooker stews and chilis and the first crisp bite of a just-picked apple.It's Halloween and Thanksgiving and yummmmm..... pumpkin pie.

Speaking of baking, I love making baking powder biscuits to serve warm from the oven.  My favorite recipe (and I have tried dozens) folows with The tip.  The Money!  I always rushed cutting the cold butter into the flour using two forks or knives and ended up with uneven globs of butter and less than stellar biscuits.  Then I discovered this trick!  Freeze your butter before you grate it into the flour mix. I guarantee you the lightest, fluffiest biscuits ever.  Happy Baking!


Best Ever Biscuits  (makes 8 generous sized biscuits)

2 c flour, plus extra for dusting
1 Tbsp plus 1 tsp baking powder.
I Tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
1/2 cup frozen butter
3/4 cup of milk

Preheat over to 400.  Grease your baking pan or line with parchment paper.  Combine all dry ingredients and grate in the butter quickly before it melts. Slowly add the milk, stirring with a wooden spoon.  Dough will be sticky.  Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead 11-12 times.  Roll or pat into a rectangle 1" thick.  Cut dough into squares or rounds and place on your prepared cooking sheet. Bake 10-15 minutes until golden

The end of a cycle signals the beginnign of a new one, much as the end of writing a book signals the beginning of writing a new one.  And if a book I write is too dear to totally say good-bye to, it can always spawn a sequel.  I'm excited by the new series I'm working on even though it won't be ready for release until next summer.  Until then, happy reading.
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www.kathleenlawless.com
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Wednesday, September 13, 2017

A Moment's Reflection On Devastation and Awareness @lcrandallwriter


I first wrote a piece like this after the tsunami hit Japan and killed thousands of people. When devastation happens, it can be challenging to go on with our daily lives. Over the weekend, I sat at my computer writing, having an average day in the Midwest. I drank coffee. I had electricity. I was going on with my normal life while others across the country faced complete non-normalcy.
Emotions overwhelm me when I hear or read stories about hurricanes, earthquakes, and fires. It’s too much to process. I wonder at how people survive when all around them is nothing but devastation and loss. And how do we go on with our normal lives knowing that for so many in the world life is desperately hard?
I think the answers to those questions are varied. We join in efforts to help, or donate money and supplies. We offer whatever we can to help ease the suffering. But personally, I want be sure to acknowledging the pain and the joy, the suffering and the support. In really tough times, we can, and must, go on with our lives, but we can do so living with more awareness and with more attention to doing what needs to be done to help others, and making changes in our own lives. If I have a project to complete, I can work at with recognition that I have an opportunity. If I go to lunch with a friend, I can be really present for that person. When I sweep my kitchen floor, I can appreciate that I have a home. Awareness of the tragedies in life can bring up close the pleasure of a cup of our favorite coffee, available to us so easily. And maybe if we have to stand in line for a bit to get it, awareness of the suffering other people endure just getting access to water can temper our impatience. Maybe we can smile at the server and offer a sincere thank you, knowing that in other places, such as the states hit by Harvey and Irma and the places ravaged by huge fires, the daily conveniences are just not there.
Tough times seem to bring us together and we willingly support others in need. The illustration of humanity boosts our spirits. And though we can’t always fix the world or rescue everyone, we can do what we do and do it with heart. By living with attention and awareness, we make the world a better place, I believe.

Image credit: 
© Grafvision
ID 10395635 | Dreamstime Stock Photos

Friday, September 8, 2017

Coming Home (The Winchesters of Legend Boxed Set)

Small town, second chances—Coming Home: The Winchesters of Legend is a collection of novels set in Legend, Tennessee, a fictitious town nestled near the Great Smoky Mountains.

The Reunion Game
Santa’s Kiss
Heart to Heart 
A Groovy Christmas
Not Quite Christmas

I originally wrote the five novellas as part of the Ladies of Legend series. It was a fun series with the small town being the tie-in for all the stories.

My books were about the Winchester family, Jane and Dawn, twins so totally different from each other. The Reunion Game: Thirty-something twin Jane Smith's biological clock is ticking. But pickings are slim in Legend, Tennessee. The high school reunion gives Jane a second chance, because Graham Winchester will be back in town.

Santa's Kiss: Dawn Smith lives life on the edge, seeking thrills, changing herself into someone else. That’s why a small town girl from Legend is superstar. But Dawn’s world is crumbling. She needs to get away from the bright lights and heartache, but it is Christmastime. There’s no way she can face her family this year.

The fun part of the series was writing about the twins' parents and the parents of Jane's love interest Graham. I took myself back to high school to recreate characters from 1968 and 1969. Some memorable quotes from the stories will step you into history:  “I wish I’d worn flowers in my hair” and “Trust me. I’ve seen sleeping around. Besides the music, marijuana, and LSD, that’s practically all that went on at Woodstock.”

Heart to Heart is the story of a pet psychic named Marty and what happens when Jeremy’s fate is in Marty’s hands...and in the paws of 6 cats.

By bundling all five books together, readers get a small town series at a reduced price, which is always nice.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

A NEW BEGINNING? by Hannah Rowan



In January, my gym is often crowded with people working on their New Year’s resolutions. 

Stores brim with planners, calendars, and various systems designed to organize our lives. 

My refrigerator is packed with all manner of healthy foods in keeping with my determination to overhaul my dietary habits.

Of course, by the time February rolls around, all those changes are out the window.  And I know why.

Everyone knows the real beginning of the year happens in September.

My gym even closes during the last week of August, allowing me to have fantasies of really getting serious about working out when it reopens after Labor Day.

But the real excitement comes from the plethora of stationary items available at this time of year.
Notebooks with pretty flowers on the covers. Leather bound journals.  Neon-colored Post It notes in an assortment of sizes.

What about pens? The way a pen feels in my hand is very important.  The smoothness of the ink as the pen glides across the page is crucial. So many colors of ink to choose from.  And of course a writer can’t function without highlighters in multiple hues.

A collection of new binders, multi-colored paper clips, maybe a cute new mouse pad, a bottle of ibuprofen to counteract the over-enthusiastic return to the gym, and an assortment of fancy tea bags…how could a writer not be inspired by this multitude of new items?

Then again, there’s always January.
  
  

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