Thursday, March 23, 2017

The BIG Birthday

In March, my husband turned the big 50. I asked him what he wanted for his birthday, and after thinking it over he said, "I want to go skiing."


Okay, back up a minute. Let me tell you a little about myself. I grew up in Florida. I've never even seen that much snow. Oh, did I mention I have never been on snow skis?

After a deep breath, and a lot of prayer. I said, "Sure hon, let's go."

We packed up the family and headed to Steamboat Springs, Colorado. First impression was that it was soooo beautiful! I LOVED the scenery. I was also excited since I am working on book II of the McKinnie Mail Order Bride series, Love in the Rockies, which is set in Colorado. Win. Win, right?

Suuure. Well, until I had to face skiing. With my chin up and my determination firmly in place, I sent my husband off to ride some greens and blues while I went to Ski School.

Day one:

I gained confidence. I skied down that bunny slope like a world class athlete. I had this.

Day two:

My instructor told me to skip from level one to level three. I proudly marched over to the flag labeled with a three and joined the upper ranks of ski school...for about twenty minutes.

You see, level three headed straight up that lift to a green style slope. Did I mention that the snow was melting, then froze overnight? It was like sliding down a glacier.  I slid and slipped like a baby learning to walk all while doing a monkey dance. Anyone see what's coming? Yep, the epic fall. Not so much a fall, it was more of a mixture of stunt man meets Forest Gump. I somehow managed to ski up the embankment into the air and do a half flip, tumble, tuck, and twist all at the same time, landing with one ski stuck in the ice in one direction, and the other under by backside in the other direction. Yes, the bruises are still healing. LOL

People on the chair lift overhead were yelling down for someone to help me as I lay there, not so gracefully. My instructor, who-shall-not-be-named, yelled up that I'd figure it out eventually. Oh, let me just tell you that when I finally managed to detangle myself, dislodge my ski, and tumble down the rest of the hill, I was about done with that man. He kept saying, "Okay, let's go again." Did I mention that this is the same instructor that didn't want to tell me how to get out of the chair lift?Instead, he wanted to lift me out by the arm. When I refused his help, and fell at the start of this epic slide down the hill, he looked down at me and said, "I told you that you'd fall if I didn't help you. You really should take help when it's offered."

When the instructor nudged me toward group three, I put my boots into my ski clips and headed to my group two. My tail might have been between my legs, but at least I made it through the week of skiing without any broken bones.

Day five:
I skied greens with my family. :)

Ciara Knight is a USA Today and Amazon Bestselling author who writes 'A Little Edge and A Lot of Heart' that spans the heat scales. Her popular sweet romance series, Sweetwater County (rated PG), takes readers into small town romance full of family trials, friendly competition, and community love. 

Her latest release, Love on the Prairie, is book I of a brand new mail order bride adventure.

Abigail McKinnie refuses to allow her sisters to be dispersed across the nation as mail order brides. Despite the fact the union soldiers took everything from them during their march through Atlanta-their lands scorched, house burned, food stolen-she won’t give up. With a plan in place, she sets out for Kansas to her second cousin under the guise of marriage. But instead, she plans to convince him that the seven of them can help run the homestead for him. Her plan is full proof, until she makes the arduous journey to discover he’s dead.

Owen Baker vows to never have a woman in his life again after the death of so many in his life, but when Abigail McKinnie struts onto his land claiming ownership on behalf of her dead cousin, he’s dumbfounded by her drive and beauty. Despite her abilities and their attraction, he vows to throw her over his horse to deliver her to the first train home the minute she recuperates from her trip

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

A New Adventure by Julie Jarnagin

Sometimes you never know where life will take you. After living in Oklahoma our entire lives, my husband accepted a job in southern Louisiana. I'd never even visited our new town until after we'd accepted the job offer, but I've been pleasantly surprised and I'm excited about the big change for our family.

We love Oklahoma, and we will miss all of our friends here. But Louisiana is going to be a great place to call home. Here are a few things I'm loving:

1. The Food: When we head down there to get things ready for the move, I feel like we spend the majority of our time eating or talking about what we're going to eat next! Shirmp and grits, poboys, oysters, crawfish, gumbo, bread pudding, beignets...should I keep going? Yum! I've been landlocked all these years, and I can't get enough of the seafood.

2. The Culture: Our move landed around Mardi Gras, so we had the opportunity to see how the locals celebrate. Everything from the king cake parties to the parades, there was so much to see and do. Not to mention the music, architecture, and art. It's a place like no other.

3. The People: Almost every single person we've met has been kind and helpful and seem genuinely excited about our move to the area. Southern hospitality is alive and well.

So I'm excited about our move and eager to write my new setting into a story!

Have you been to Louisiana? What did you think?

Julie Jarnagin is a USA Today bestselling author of sweet and inspirational romance. She grew up in a small Oklahoma town where her family farmed and ranched. These days she lives in a not-so-big city with her amazing husband and two young sons who tolerate all her nerdy quirks. Julie earned a B.A. in Journalism / Professional Writing from the University of Oklahoma and is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers.

My latest novel, The Vegas Proposal, is now available! 

A celebrity wedding would save her family’s Las Vegas chapel—as long as she doesn’t fall for the groom.

Have you signed up for Sweet Romance Reads newsletter? It's full of great info and fun stuff from our authors. 

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

What's Your Birthday Style? by Milou Koenings

This week would have been my mother’s 84th birthday.  She was a spring baby and she ushered the delightful feeling of spring wherever she went, whatever she did, all her life.

I only with mine looked like that!
She always said her favorite birthday parties were celebrated at quiet family dinners. Maybe quiet family lunches, too. She always insisted on baking her own birthday cake, the same recipe her mother had always made for birthdays — and that I still make for my own. Other than that, she just wanted to celebrate with her family around her.

That’s not everyone’s cup of tea, though. For example, my sister doesn’t like cake. The best birthday “cake” we can give her is a cheese platter lit up by candles stuck in all the different cheeses! Stick a bunch of grapes and a few pears on that tray, too, and she’s in Heaven.

And one of my kids is never happier than when there’s a huge party going on around her — the bigger and wilder the better. (I hope that settles down before full-blown teenagerhood hits!)

In my new release, I Love You Three, the heroine organizes her narcissistic mother’s birthday party. It’s a summer barbeque in the backyard, the tables festooned with Martha Stewart decorations, and pretty much the whole town of Green Pines is invited. There are lots of blackberry dishes served. (See my post from last month!)

My most recent birthday was a biggie — you know, the kind that ends with a zero. I was all for going my mother’s route. I was planning on having dinner with my family, followed by my grandmother’s traditional cake, which I had baked for myself. (In case you’re wondering it’s a vanilla sponge cake filled with red currant jelly and covered with mocha buttercream.)

My family had other ideas and threw me a real party with my friends. Given that my birthday is December 25, it was pretty awesome that people actually showed up! (The slices of cake had to be a lot thinner to go around, which was just as well, considering all that butter…)

One of my daughters had reached out to all my relatives on Facebook and got them to send photos of themselves holding up birthday greetings. I was even blessed with photos from all over Europe and Australia!  The best thing about that was that in several countries, cousins who hadn’t seen each other for a while decided to get all together to take those pictures, so my birthday ended up being the catalyst that brought about these unexpected mini-family reunions around the world, which was one of the best presents for me!

I’m not a party person, but I guess I can handle one every decade or so.

How about you?  What’s your birthday style? Picnic for two in a meadow? Dancing all night at a club? Backyard barbeque?

Milou Koenings is a USA Today bestselling author. She writes romance because, like chocolate, stories with a happy ending bring more joy into the world and so make it a better place.

Her other Green Pines sweet romances, Reclaiming Home, The Kampala Peppermint Twist and Sweet Blizzard are available on, iBooks, Nook, Kobo and all your favorite e-book retailers.

Sign up for her newsletter, so you'll be the first to know about new releases!  

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Monday, March 20, 2017

German sayings

Every author loves the subtle variations between words, the hidden meanings, the possible misunderstandings. "Bare" words can be fascinating, in any language.

Being a native German who writes in English, I also enjoy the cultural differences that show when it comes to proverbs. Quite often, they make me laugh -- and if you make the mistake of translating them word by word, you'll find that people will scratch their heads.

So I thought I would give you a tour of German proverbs in the months to come. Here's the first one: In English, you say "Don't make a mountain out of a molehill." I love the image that conjures up in my head. It's also a fairly logical escalation from a small amount of earth to a big amount of earth.

However, if you'd translate that into German, people would probably get the idea, but they would still smile because the correct saying is: "Don't make an elephant out of a mosquito." Not quite as logical, but just as effective.

I always wonder how sayings like these developed and settled in every-day language over the years. I believe they are rich in history and tell us a bit about our culture. Though, to be honest, we don't have native elephants here, and while we do have mosquitoes, we have less than other countries. Maybe it's a sign that the Germans love exotic things? Who knows . . .

Tell me about your favorite sayings, and I'll give you the translations!

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Mischief & Humor from Page 1

Picture by Leander Wattig.
It shows the medieval city of Meissen in Saxony, Germany.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Spring ~ Ready or Not

Welcome to Sweet Romance Reads! I’m glad you’re here. I’ve been thinking about spring. Wishing for spring. We experienced it briefly and it seemed like it was the real thing. I made plans to have landscaping done, including transplanting some existing shrubs and planting a new tree even though people warned us winter wasn’t finished with us yet. And they were right. Here in Virginia it’s very cold (as I write this on Thursday the 16th). To the north, snow fell this week. For some, it was a bunch of snow. And yet, March 21st is only a few days away. Spring will officially arrive and soon the warmer temps will be here to stay – for a while at least – and then it will be hot and humid and we’ll be wishing for autumn. It’s just a truth of life and how we are as people. We tend to want what we don’t have. Somehow our futures seem so much more promising and interesting than our reality such that we wish away our present. Instead of living in the NOW, we dream of the future. I’m guilty of that and I know many other people who are. Are you?

We save for a future vacation while we rush through each ordinary day. We are anxious for our infants to teeth or crawl or walk because others of the same age already are. We struggle through the present working for the future and one day we realize the future has arrived and we don’t know how to embrace it and enjoy it. We look back and wonder why we didn’t see the beauty in the present, in the memories we were crafting at the time, during those ordinary days.

 In my most recent release, THE HAPPINESS IN BETWEEN, Sandra Lovett wanted happiness and it eluded her. If she’d found the happiness in each day, perhaps her future would’ve been better sooner. In BEACH RENTAL, my debut novel, Juli lived very much in the now and considered self-reliance to be the most important ideal. Happiness was something she didn’t expect and it didn’t figure into her life, yet when she began to hope for the future, and took steps toward making a more promising future happen, she found joy, unexpected and overflowing.

What does all that mean? I don’t know. Maybe it means that the tree the landscapers just planted for me and the bushes they transplanted, should’ve been allowed to wait until the weather was more favorable to their rooting and future survival? Perhaps. Only time will tell. If they fail to thrive I’ll be sad, but I’ll try again and hope to get it right next time. Because, as humans, we may be impatient, but we’re also persistent. It’s who we are. Somewhere along the way we need to be sure to appreciate and embrace the present because, like spring, the future will arrive all on its own and become reality, and we need to understand how to live in it.

Please visit me over at  I write sweet romance and women’s fiction. My Emerald Isle, NC books are romance and sweet inspiration (BEACH RENTAL and BEACH WINDS) and my Virginia Country Roads novels (CUB CREEK, LEAVING CUB CREEK, KINCAID’S HOPE, A STRANGER IN WYNNEDOWER) feature more mystery and suspense, as do THE HAPPINESS IN BETWEEN, my most recent release, and THE MEMORY OF BUTTERFLIES, currently available on preorder and due to be released on September 5th. I hope you’ll sign up for my newsletter. You’ll also find me here:  Twitter  Facebook  Goodreads  Pinterest  Author Central

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Happy Spring! I'm glad it's coming whether we're ready or not!

Saturday, March 18, 2017

A New Novella ~ Raine English

I tend to get more writing done in winter than any other time of year. And this year has been no exception. Living in New England where it’s cold and snowy, who wants to go outside? Even my dogs want to stay snuggled up in their beds. Most of my time is spent in my office working on my books, and even though I feel like a hermit, I love what I do.

I recently finished FROM NOW ON, a sweet contemporary romance set in Atlanta. It’s available for pre-order and will release on April 24th.

Who says love’s sweeter the second time around?

When Whitney Adams discovers her first love is back in Atlanta, she can’t help but wonder if they might have a second chance at love. But after she learns there’s more to his kisses than wanting to rekindle their romance, she isn’t about to let her heart rule.

Cash Galloway has never forgotten his high school sweetheart, so when he might have another chance with her, he’s elated. However, his happiness is short lived once he discovers his new dream job involves acquiring Atlanta Belles—Whitney’s popular salon and spa. Will Cash lose the perfect woman a second time, or will love prevail?

Preorder FROM NOW ON today at the following retailers for just $0.99:


USA Today bestselling author Raine English writes sweet small-town contemporary romance, along with paranormal and romantic suspense. She’s a Daphne du Maurier Award winner and a Golden Heart finalist.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Seven Fun Facts About St. Patrick's Day by Liwen Y. Ho

While I'm not Irish (although I do have eight half-Irish cousins!), I thought it'd be fun to share some facts about St. Patrick's Day with you.

  1. St. Patrick was not Irish; he was actually English. 
  2. St. Patrick's color was blue, not green. The significance of the color green may have come from Ireland's green countryside.
  3. The first St. Patrick's Day parade took place in New York in the 1760s.
  4. According to Irish legend, St. Patrick used the shamrock as a preaching tool.
  5. The odds of finding a four-leaf clover are about 1 in 10,000.
  6. It takes 45 pounds of vegetable-based dye to turn the Chicago River green for five hours.
  7. There are more people with Irish ancestry in the USA (34 million) than in Ireland (4.2 million).
What does St. Patrick's Day mean to you? Do you have any Irish ancestors? 

Liwen Y. Ho is an Amazon bestselling author of contemporary romance, both sweet and inspirational. A marriage and family therapist in her pre-author life, she enjoys creating realistic characters and helping them find their happily-ever-afters. She lives in California with her techie husband and their two munchkins, and blogs about life as a recovering perfectionist.

She'd love to hear from you! Find her online here:

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Thursday, March 16, 2017

Risks Are Scary By Margaret Daley

Risks Are Scary

By Margaret Daley

Sometimes playing it safe doesn’t get us where we want to go. Take for an example, falling in love (something romance authors write about all the time) can be a big risk. Can you imagine a world where a couple doesn’t take that risk and fall in love? I would be out of a job. There would be no romances. I’d hate a world without love stories.

The act of writing a book is a risk. An author is putting part of herself on the page for people to read—to like or not. I never thought I had such a risky life until I started thinking about this. 

Risks are everywhere in our life, often coupled with decisions we are faced with throughout the day. So how do we navigate through all these decisions and risk choices we are faced with. 1) A strong faith—belief system that has formed and grown over the years you have matured into an adult. 2) A plan for your life to help you keep yourself focused and on course. The risks develop when we stray from our plan/purpose. Then we find ourselves in a rocky place. We’re not sure of our footing and often find ourselves falling. 3) Reassessment periodically—we need to be willing to change when it is needed. Life is full of changes, but we have to be careful the change fits in with what we think our plan is.

An example of reassessing and changing is the current publishing industry of traditional and self publishing. In the past few years how an author gets her book published has altered. Or rather, now there are more choices for each person, but the writer has to decide, which is best for her and be willing to learn and reassess if it isn’t working.
Risk is part of life. Change is too. But don’t be afraid of either one. They can be good for you—like a new love or a writing career through the self-publishing route.

Margaret Daley, a USA Today’s Bestselling author of over one hundred books (over five million sold worldwide), has been married for over forty-six years and is a firm believer in romance and love. When she isn’t traveling, she’s writing love stories, often with a suspense thread and corralling her three cats that think they rule her household. To find out more about Margaret visit her website at

Check out Margaret’s book at and read about my latest stories: Her Baby Protector, The Cowboy's Texas Family, and Deadly Night, Silent Night.

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Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Ready for Spring by Alicia Street

I’m one of those people who loves snow. As a child I would always curl up in a window seat and watch it fall, breathing in the wonder of its beauty.

So I was sorely disappointed when we had fifty-degree weather at Christmas. But now, when the spring equinox is just a few days away—I’m not too happy to see winter storm Stella dump with piles of sleet and snow in my neck of the woods.

After months of damp and gray days, I’m ready for spring! I hate to see snow covering the early buds that are just beginning to show. Spring is such a hopeful time when everything seems fresh and new beginnings are possible. But who am I to tell Mother Nature what to do, especially when humans have messed with her so much.  

My solution? I go to Trader Joe’s and buy daffodils and hyacinths and tulips and pussy willows and fill my house with their color and fragrant promises.

Are you ready for spring?


Alicia Street is a USA Today bestselling author and a Daphne du Maurier award-winner.
A compulsive reader of every genre, she writes both sweet and steamy romance. She spent many
years as a dancer, choreographer and teacher.  
Alicia loves to connect with readers~

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