Please 2017, or Hope Springs Eternal

After a year which wore out its welcome sometime in August, I’m really hoping for a better 2017.

Sure, a few great things happened in 2016 – I took two terrific vacations with the family (Jamaica and San Diego, CA), my near two-year battle with dizziness came to an end, and the Cubs won a World Series but on the whole, hope seemed hard to find.

I grieved for the loss of human beings who inspired me – David Bowie and his art of reinvention, Umberto Eco whose pinball scene in Foucault’s Pendulum is sexy perfection, and for Carrie Fisher, who lived life with such fearlessness, wit, intelligence and honesty that for this child of the 70s at least, she was a role model of both what not to do (the drugs) and how to live. When Mohammad Ali died, I grieved once more for my grandfather who died from Parkinson’s disease 35 years ago. And I grieved for my grandmother-in-law who passed away in the spring.

I grieved for the loss of civility, and for my hometown, the City of Chicago, which seems incapable of stemming the tide of violence.

In 2016, I suffered many professional shortcomings. I expected to end the year with an agent, or at least a contract. I put forth a solid effort, but simply put, I failed. It’s not a good feeling, even though I understand that larger industry consolidations make it harder for a well-reviewed mid-lister like myself to break through that magical ceiling that divides the best-sellers from the rest of us. It’s easy to get down and think about quitting, but then something magic happens.

January first, 2017 is a new day. My calendar is not entirely blank, but it may as well be a clean slate. Today, I will do some serious exfoliation and scrub off 2016. As of this writing, no-one has died in 2017, so there is no need to grieve. No-one has teased my children or been unkind to them. No-one has told me no. Look out 2017, here I come.

 

 

Spotlight on Dance with Destiny by Becky Lower

Today my spotlight shines on the wonderful Becky Lower and her latest Historical Romance, Dance with Destiny. I’m looking forward to reading this one in part because I’ve been learning about Ojibwa culture alongside my children as they learn Minnesota history in school, and in part because Becky Lower is an amazing writer.

dance-with-destiny-becky-lower3-webWilliam Myers feels it’s his duty to answer the call to fight for the Union Army—but his wife, Susannah, doesn’t agree. How does he expect her to survive with four small children in the cold Ohio winter during the three-month enlistment period? Angry and abandoned, Susannah learns soon after William leaves that she is also pregnant again.

Raoul Lafontaine is a half-Ojibwa, half-French-Canadian drifter who is more Indian than white. Also known as Lone Wolf, he has recently left the Ojibwa village in search of a fair-haired woman both he and his grandfather have seen in visions. She is important to him—but how? He will never allow himself to care for another—not after losing the wife he loved so much.

But Raoul could not have planned for the sizzling emotions that surface when he comes near Susannah, nor the love he feels for her children. When he realizes that Susannah returns his feelings, he knows he must leave—for how can he stay close by knowing she can never be his? William will return to his homestead, and they’ll once again be a family. One in which Raoul has no place. Or does he?

Will Fate relent and grant the love between Susannah and Raoul in this DANCE WITH DESTINY?

You can find Becky Lower’s Dance with Destiny at Amazon 

beckylowerAmazon best-selling author Becky Lower has traveled the country looking for great settings for her novels. She loves to write about two people finding each other and falling in love, amid the backdrop of a great setting, be it on a covered wagon headed west or in present day small town America.  Historical and contemporary romances are her specialty. Becky is a PAN member of RWA and is a member of the Historic and Contemporary RWA chapters. She has a degree in English and Journalism from Bowling Green State University, and lives in an eclectic college town in Ohio with her puppy-mill rescue dog, Mary. She loves to hear from her readers at beckylowerauthor@gmail.com. Visit her website at www.beckylowerauthor.com

Facebook: http://facebook.com/becky.lower

Twitter: http://twitter.com/BeckyLower1

Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/authorbeckyl/

Blog: http://beckylowerauthor.blogspot.com

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6159227.Becky_Lower

G+: https://plus.google.com/103332938863838564766

Amazon page: https://www.amazon.com/Becky-Lower/e/B008DTC15C/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1480527074&sr=1-2-ent

Spotlight on Denise Devine

Now that October is over, my life returns to the normal level of chaos and I can once again operate my spotlight. This time it found author bestselling author Denise Devine and her newest release A Merry Little Christmas.

Merry Connor is struggling to feed her two children, pay heat bills and fix her secondhand car. Though she’s barely making it financially, life is good. That is, compared to two years ago when she lost everything—thanks to her lying, deceiving ex-husband. She’s come a long way since then and doesn’t intend to look back. Even so, it’ll be a long time before she trusts anyone with her heart again.

Tony Lewis hasn’t had a merry Christmas since his wife and son perished in a car collision three years ago. The holidays are lonely without his family, but his heart begins to mend when he meets Merry Connor and her two rambunctious kids. He can’t stop thinking about her and yearns to get closer to her. Will she turn him away once she learns of his connection to her ex-husband?

For a limited time, A Merry Little Christmas is on sale for $.99.

Buy Links:

Amazon USA

Amazon UK:

Amazon CA: 

D2D – iTunes:

Denise Devine is a USA TODAY bestselling author of romantic comedy, contemporary romance and she also loves to write inspirational fiction. She wrote her first book, a mystery, at thirteen and has been writing ever since. She writes about true love, happy endings and stories that touch your heart.

Spotlight on Private Wolf by TL Reeve

After getting a replacement light bulb, my spotlight is once again functional. This time it found fellow Decadent Publishing author TL Reeve and Private Wolf, part of the Black Hills Wolves shapeshifter series. After reading this tease, I can’t wait to read it. Curious? Read on!

privatewolfShawn Blu, tracker and private investigator, has come home. As a pack tracker, he’s ready to defend Los Lobos and use his contacts to find pack members and bring them back into the fold. So, when Miss Fern, his aunt, asks him to find Brienne Talbert, he’s happy to help out. What he isn’t expecting is to find his mate.

Brienne left home at sixteen, knowing she’d return to the Black Hills and Los Lobos one day. As it stands, in six months she’ll graduate with her master’s degree and there’s no way anyone will stop her now. However, when the hunky slab of wolf Shawn Blu shows up with a tempting offer—a week with her pack, no strings attached—she’s willing to reconsider her harsh stance about not going home.

When one weekend turns into a mating she hadn’t planned on, will she be able to leave it all behind and return to school, or will the call of her pack be too much to turn her back on?

Not convinced? Here’s an excerpt:

Shawn Blu walked into Los Lobos Café and spotted his aunt at a table near the far wall. In front of her sat a paperback book and a mug, along with a pastry. Behind the counter, Ero took the order from a new female. Her long dark hair was pulled into a messy bun, and her gray eyes glittered with—arousal? If the other wolf noticed, he appeared indifferent to it. Oh well. Bypassing his normal routine, of ordering coffee and Danish, he marched over and sat at the table where his aunt waited. Fern glanced up at him. Her warm, affectionate smile greeted him.

“Good morning, Auntie.” He leaned in and kissed her cheek. “That twinkle in your eye says you’re up to no good.”

Fern laughed and patted his hand. “I have a job for you.”

A job. Why hadn’t she mentioned it last night when he came over for dinner?

Why did they have to meet in the café? “Okay. What is it?”

“Well, technically, it is two jobs….”

“Okay.”

Ero approached with a cup in one hand and a sweet treat in the other. “You didn’t order. I see why now.” He grinned then winked at Fern.

“I didn’t want to interrupt your time with Cynthia,” Shawn teased. “She’s interested in you.”

“Don’t I know it.” Ero frowned. “But there’s…the spark’s not there.” He glanced at his brother, Luc, who sat in his usual spot.

“Say no more, I understand.” He did, too. They were waiting for their perfect mate. Might be a while, but Shawn had a feeling it would happen. “Thanks for the coffee.”

“You’re welcome.”

Taking a sip of the piping-hot brew, he waited for Ero to leave before returning to the conversation with his aunt. The way Fern watched him—assessing him—left him uneasy. “Should I be afraid of what you’re going to ask of me?”

“Never,” she assured him. “In fact, you’ll win tons of brownie points with Miss Claire if you do this for me.”

Private Wolf Buy Links

Amazon: http://amzn.to/2blSSYZ

Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/2cfceo9

Amazon CA: http://amzn.to/2bv9wqz

Bookstrand: http://bit.ly/2bGeR1F

Google Play: http://bit.ly/2bmzSML

ARE: http://bit.ly/2bFXLfK

iBook: http://apple.co/2bVJX1A

Smashwords: http://bit.ly/2bTfD82

Kobo: http://bit.ly/2cieafU

Author Bio

TL Reeve, is a bestselling, multi-published author with Cobblestone Press, Decadent Publishing, Evernight Publishing, Loose-Id and ARe Books. Living in Alabama, TL misses Los Angeles, and will one-day return to Southern California to ride the waves at Huntington Beach. When not writing something hot and sexy, TL can be found curled up with a good book, or working on homework with a cute little pixie.

You can sign-up for her newsletter at: http://eepurl.com/bv07fn

First Friday Five Lessons from #RWA16

Last month I attended the Romance Writers of America annual conference. Since embarking on my writing career, this is the third time I have been able to attend. The 2016 conference marked my first visit to beautiful San Diego, CA. I wish I could go more often, both to San Diego and to the conference. In the meantime, here are five lessons I learned.

  1. Romance authors are wonderful people. We are smart, funny, hard-working, determined, curious, gracious and generous.

    Fantastic keynote speaker Beverly Jenkins

    Fantastic keynote speaker Beverly Jenkins

  2. Always wear comfortable shoes, especially when volunteering as I did during the Readers for Life Literacy Signing. You never know when you will need to race through the building to lend a hand to one of those wonderful authors.

    Helping at Readers for Life: with author Camille Di Maio

    Helping at Readers for Life: with author Camille Di Maio

  3. Be ready with the one line elevator pitch ANYTIME. I am on cloud 9 that my dream publishing house requested a full manuscript based on a one minute interaction.
  4. Small mental shifts in how one approaches the business of writing can be powerful. Damon Suede and Heidi Cullinan shared ways to make promotion a more playful rather than dreaded part of of being an author. When Mary Burton quipped “It’s not concrete, folks, it’s words,” I found the idea liberating.
  5. Last, but not least, I learned I once again picked up too much amazing swag and too many books. This is small sample. RWA16swagThe books are in another room. I can’t keep it all. Over the next few months, I’ll draw names from my newsletter subscribers and send out some goodies. I even have a few things that I can ship overseas. If you aren’t subscribed, sign up here.

Flash #Sale on Bad Traveler

If you haven’t had a chance to pick up Bad Traveler, now is perfect time. Decadent Publishing is having a flash sale this weekend and Bad Traveler is one of five titles just $.99 at Amazon and All Romance Ebooks!

badtravelersale Read what one Amazon 5 star reviewer calls “Just perfect for curling up after a long day to enjoy yourself in a book.”

 

With half the country under a heat advisory, may as well stay inside and read this weekend.

Be sure to check out the other Decadent titles part of this 99 Cent promotion

Island Pleasures by KT Grant

Blue Moon over Bliss Lake by Cate Masters

Burning Love by Cassandra Carr

Cabin Fever by Stephanie Williams

Happy Reading!

Talking with Nancy Holland

Today I have my fellow Midwest Fiction Writer and contemporary romance author Nancy Holland on the blog. Rather than the usual questions, Nancy stopped by to share some of what she learned at the Romance Writers of America conference held earlier this month in beautiful San Diego. Take it away, Nancy

Three Things I Learned at RWA 2016

Thing One — Beverly Jenkins is the best!

I was able to go to two of the talks by romance legend Beverly Jenkins and both were amazing. She spoke at the Golden Network Retreat (GNR) on Wednesday about creating vibrant characters, and the first thing she said was that characters aren’t characters — they’re people. Light bulb! Then she went over a very helpful list of things that make your characters the people they are:  their inner and outer influences, their physical attributes, the things that symbolize their personalities (such as their homes or clothing), and their setting. She also had wise things to say about how plot is what lets your characters discover who they really are. Needless to say, she was also wildly inspiring in the bargain.

Beverly Jenkins also gave the keynote speech at the Thursday lunch, where she talked about the history of romance and specifically the role of African-American authors and stories in that history. Once again she was awesome and inspiring, especially for those of us who follow her on social media and know the challenges she’s faced lately. And the best part was everyone got a free book and cool Beverly Jenkins notepad!

Thing Two — Branding can be fun (no, really)

Damon Suede and Heidi Cullinan also spoke at the TGN Retreat (they did a workshop for the PAN retreat, but I had another obligation at that time). Damon and Heidi walked (well, more trotted) us through some fun exercises to help determine what our brand is and, amazingly, mine was pretty much what I already thought.  They also shared some great information about how to use your brand in promotions and marketing.  I strongly recommend checking out their website, http://www.your-A-game.com.

Courtney Milan and Alisha Rai did a workshop on how to identify the audience for your books, how to use that information in designing covers, etc., and how to connect with your audience on social media. The session was too short to cover everything they wanted to, but they gave a lot of helpful suggestions that dovetailed nicely with what Damon and Heidi had to say. Thanks to these workshops, I may just have this branding thing down. Sort of. Maybe.

Thing Three — Hanging out by the pool is totally part of the conference

Since the AC in the meeting rooms was set on “arctic,” I left one session early to sit out in the sun by the pool. On the way out the door I met an author with a charming British accent, and we fell to talking (as one does). She looked vaguely familiar, but it took a while before we exchanged names. Turns out she was Stella Cameron, one of my late mother’s favorite romantic suspense authors. We had a lovely chat about anything and everything (as one does), including her personalized recommendations of places to stay when my husband and I go to England next year.

The take-away? Always take time to make new friends at RWA — you might meet someone like Stella Cameron or, as two of my fellow Harper Impulse authors did, end up having lunch with the real-life Rita for whom the Rita Awards are named!

***

Found-OSBLola here, hopping in to add that Beverly Jenkins is amazing. She is a master of research and character and hope. Nancy learned some new promo tricks, but in her note above she was too humble to mention her latest book, Found: One Secret Baby which came out days before we left for the conference.

I make no guarantees regarding the cost and how long the discount will last, but I picked up my copy for the unbelievably low cost of $.49.

LA lawyer Rosalie Walker will do whatever it takes to protect her adopted son. She promised his mother before she died that she’d look after him and keep him safe from his paternal family. So when delectable Morgan Danby walks into her office in search of his nephew, she must keep the baby in her care a secret—even if one look from Morgan makes her want to share everything with him…

As a favour to his step-mother— the woman who actually raised him, unlike his real mother who abandoned him as a child—successful businessman, Morgan is searching for the son of his incarcerated step-brother. He can tell Rosalie is hiding something and the temptation to seduce her for her secret is strong, but will he be able to handle the consequences once all is revealed…?

Found: One Secret Baby is available at Amazon and Barnes&Noble 

 

Talking with Kristina Knight

Kristina Knight stopped by to tackle the tough questions and share a look at her latest contemporary romance, What the Heiress Wants. Her playlist is perfect reading music.

9781440595776whatheiressWhat inspired you to write What the Heiress Wants?What the Heiress Wants is the second in my Billionaire Cowboys trilogy, and all three books were inspired by Las Vegas. I love Las Vegas, and RadioMan and I try to go every couple of years. I had this idea about three brothers who were gamblers, but not in the casinos…and Jase, Connor and Gage took the books from there.

What types of books do you enjoy reading? What is on your nightstand? – I read all kinds of things. Right now I’ve got Nora Roberts’ Obsession on my nightstand, along with an autobiography of Rick Springfield, and Every Time We Say Goodbye by Liz Flaherty.

Tell me about your favorite place to write.  What makes it special? – I think I’m going to have a new favorite this summer – the swing in our backyard. We just picked it out a couple of weeks ago and I just can’t get enough of it. So me, the iPad and a long afternoon to write sounds heavenly.

Do you listen to music when you write?  If so, what? – I do! And it depends on where I am in the writing process. Drafting calls for light jazz or classical music, after the draft is in I figure out a playlist (they’re usually quite eclectic!) that fits the books – I’ll have songs that remind me of the hero, the heroine, the major story arcs…My playlist for What the Heiress wants had 20 songs and they ranged from 80s hair bands to Dierks Bentley and back around to Smokey Robinson.

Dessert time!  Give me your “either—or” answers

  • Chocolate, fruit or other? – Can I get chocolate with fruit? I could really go for some chocolate covered strawberries right now
  • Warm or cold? – Warm! Flip flop weather for the win!!
  • Buttercream or fondant? – ….hmmm…I’m gonna say neither. Whipped icing is my fave!
  • Cookies or brownies? – brownies, with a little powdered sugar sprinkled over the top
  • With nuts or without? – without. I like my nuts to be solo. And that sounds a little dirtier than I intended. An occupational hazard of writing romance.

9781440595776whatheiress

The Billionaire Cowboys trilogy by best-selling author Kristina Knight continues with What the Heiress Wants.

Denver publishing heiress Miranda Clayton craves more from life than society parties and shopping sprees, but her tycoon father refuses to take her seriously. Her solution? Beat him at his own game by going to work for his top competitor, Connor Reeves, in Las Vegas.

Connor isn’t fooled by Miranda’s new plan for a second. He knows exactly who she is; what he doesn’t know is why she’s pulling him into her games. After their first meeting, Connor knows what he wants – Miranda in his bed! But the more he’s around his new vice president, the more he wants something deeper than a short-term fling. The question is does the lady want Connor – or his business?

 

What the Heiress Wants is available now at Amazon, B&N, iBooks and Crimson Romance

bachelorThe first book in the series, What the Bachelor Gets is on sale the week of May 23rd for less than a dollar.

Once upon a time, Kristina Knight spent her days running from car crash to fire to meetings with local police–no, she wasn’t a troublemaker, she was a journalist. Her career took her all over the United States, writing about everything from a serial killer’s capture to the National Finals Rodeo. Along the way, she found her very own Knight in Shining Cowboy Boots and an abiding love for romance novels. And just like the characters from her favorite books, she’s living her own happily ever after.

Kristina writes sassy contemporary romance novels; her books have appeared on Kindle Best Seller Lists. She loves hearing from readers, so drop her a line!

Author Links:

Website: http://www.kristinaknightauthor.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/kristinaknightromanceauthor

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/authorkristina

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/authorkristina/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5827833.Kristina_Knight

Google+: https://plus.google.com/+KristinaKnightAuthor/posts

Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Kristina-Knight/e/B0081LO6DM/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1

 

 

First Friday 5 lessons of #Motherhood

Being a parent has taught me myriad lessons. For one thing, I learned I needed to apologize to my mother as in this post from the past. In honor of Mother’s Day, here are five other lessons motherhood has taught me.

  1. Humility. Kids are terrific at pointing out all your flaws. If I misspeak, I will be corrected. If I come home after a work-out or a long bike ride, my kiddos will point out how bad I stink. If dinner is not delicious and merely okay, I will know. Forget tough to please reviewers, my harshest critics are tied to my daily life.
  2. The mundane can be amazing. I never thought much about drawers until my daughter was 3 months old and I laid her on the bathmat while I got ready for the day. I pulled open the drawer to get out my hair brush. The action was nothing to me until I noticed how big her eyes grew. She had never seen a drawer in motion before and her little mind was blown. Since then, I’ve tried to be more appreciative of small moments. Wonder is a state of mind.
  3. Bananas are tasty. I did not eat them until I had to set a good example to my children.
  4. Listen and ask questions before giving advice. Respect what they have to say, and they will respect what you have to teach them, unless it is a mispronunciation in which case, see #1.
  5. Nothing beats a snuggle and a book. At the end of a long day, I love to sit with each child and talk books. At first, I read picture books, then we moved on to new challenges. My son and I read the classics. He decides if the language is too tricky for him to read half or not. We stop and talk about ideas, word meaning and make predictions. Sometimes my daughter listens in. More often she and I snuggle and she tells me about what she is reading at the moment. Because it’s a comforting ritual for all of us, we turn to it when not feeling well or simply having a rough day. Of course, if you read this, chances are high you are already a book lover and know exactly what I mean.

Summer of Love Book #Giveaway

I had so much fun being part of the Summer of Love Book Giveaway last year, that I’m doing it again this year. 2 grand prize winners will receive 16 paper books! Other winners will receive paper books and there are daily prizes to be had. The contest opened May 1st and closes to entries May 7th and your chances of winning are high. Over 20 authors are participating. For full details and to enter, click the pic!

summeroflove2016