Friday, February 28, 2014

I’ve Seen Sunshine and I’ve Seen Rain with Shaleen Kapil

I’ve spent the past month in the doldrums. For five months, I have had a foot injury that has kept me from training for the runs and triathlons that have been “my thing” for the past several years. After the holidays, the cold, dark days of January and February without a festive holiday from work seem never ending. The cold and rain kept us bundled inside wondering what to do other than watch Netflix (no cable even!) and read my stacks and stacks of books.

Today, the sun is shining and my windows are open. These open windows have opened up my heart as well. Suddenly, I am once more smiling and enjoying my family. We hit balls at the tennis court, I painted the baseboards, and we all cleaned out the playroom- nothing spectacular and out of the ordinary, but I have felt at peace.

So, what is it that makes the difference? Is it that I can only be happy during warm, sunny days? I don’t think so. But I do think all of the bleak winter days have primed me to enjoy the sunny day just for being sunny. And my injury has prepared me to look at my first run back as a gift, not a chore to be done. Winter makes us even more thankful for spring, and bad luck makes us thankful for good.

It also works the same that sometimes the heroine in a book must suffer a little to recognize her good fortune. Would we love a character like Jane Eyre if her life were all roses? It is her struggle and misfortune that makes the life she finds afterwards so sweet. A life by Mrs. De Winter from Rebecca should seem deeply disturbing to be in self exile, but instead, her triumph over the memory, the very ghost of Rebecca is inspiring. The transition makes us root for the characters and their happiness. Which heroine have you suffered with and loved to its happy ending?
Shaleen’s first attempts to write were played out in her home as she wrote murder mystery parties. Eventually some characters without murder and mayhem in their hearts snuck out, and Shaleen is still working to get them to tell their story. She also writes an ongoing blog on health and fitness (and the struggles of this triathlete) at

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Things that motivate… by Raine English

I find it interesting to discover what motivates people…and it seems many feel the same, because the number one question I get asked as an author is where I get my motivation.

 I’ve always had a very active imagination. Ever since I can remember, I’ve wanted to be a writer. It’s my creative outlet—the way I choose to express myself. Stories pop in and out of my head, triggered by anything that might happen in the course of a day. A news headline, bits and pieces of a conversation overheard at a coffee shop, or the faded, sad eyes of an elderly woman in the supermarket as she puts only enough groceries in her shopping cart for one. These little pieces of human emotion are the seeds of stories.

Writing is a way of leaving reality behind for a while and becoming immersed in make-believe. In Tin Angel, a Christmas fairy tale, a lonely old woman’s wish to relive her life is granted by a magical angel tree topper. The idea for the story came from a beautiful tin angel my parents purchased right after they married. Placing that angel on top of the Christmas tree was my favorite part of trimming the tree.

My latest release gives a couple a second chance at romance when they embark on a snowy journey to return a lost engagement ring found inside the drawer of a music box. My daughter began collecting music boxes when she was a little girl and has nearly twenty now. One day as I was dusting them, a story idea began to form, resulting in Forever My Valentine.

Motivation is everywhere. We just have to look for it. What motivates you?


Raine English lives in New England with her family and her constant companion, Bailey, a French bulldog. To find out more about Raine and her books visit

Her newest release is Forever My Valentine available on Amazon.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Is Your Workspace Special to You? By Margaret Daley

I remember when I first stated writing back in the Dark Ages when I used a typewriter. I had my typewriter set up on the kitchen table. I’ve come a long way since then. I’ve advanced to a computer (and so glad I don’t have to revise a manuscript on a typewriter—a lot of work) and I have my own office with a door I can close when I want to keep the world out.

Have you ever tried to write (or do any kind of work) and family members keep interrupting you and you lose your thought in mid-sentence? Or, you don’t have anywhere to spread your stuff out? There are times when I’m on a deadline that my office gets messy, but I don’t have to straighten up until I’ve sent my book off. I just shut the door so no one has to see the mess but me.

When I set up my office years ago, I put a lot of thought into its layout and furniture. I wanted something that inspired me and was comfortable. After all, I was going to spend hours and hours in that room. I spend more time in my office than any room in my house—even my bedroom. Okay, that may read that I’m a workaholic and I probably am but I have everything I need at my fingertips.

My office walls are painted hot pink with white trim. I didn’t know how I was going to like hot pink and thought if it didn’t work out I could paint over it. But I love the walls. I find the color is invigorating, and I haven’t grown tired of the hot pink yet. In fact, the color has grown on me.

Over the years I began collecting flamingoes. I love animals and flamingoes are hot pink. What better accent than that in my office! Now I have so many—from a giant six-foot stuffed flamingo to a Christmas tree with mostly flamingo ornaments on it. The tree is up year round. And if my cats leave the tree alone, the ornaments stay on it.

When I published my first book in 1981, my husband starting framing my books to hang on the wall. Now I have over eighty on the walls in my office. When I get discouraged, I can look at what I’ve accomplished in almost thirty plus years in the business.

How important is your workspace to you? For me it is my getaway where I can go to dream up stories to entertain readers. I usually read books for pleasure even in my office. I have a couch that is quite comfortable. I have been known to fall asleep on it.

What do you think is important in an office or a workspace?

Bio of Margaret Daley:

Bestselling author, Margaret Daley, is multi-published with 94 books. She had written for Harlequin, Abingdon, Kensington, Dell, and Simon and Schuster. She has won multiple awards, including the prestigious Carol Award, Holt Medallion and Inspirational Readers’ Choice Contest.

She has been married for over forty years and has one son and four granddaughters. 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

Blurb for In Defense of Love:

Maggie Summers thrives on the challenge and excitement of working on Capitol Hill—and can't wait for a little time away from it all every year. But this spring her peaceful vacation is threatened when her political adversary joins the bicycle tour she’s taken. Maggie finds herself irresistibly drawn to Congressman Nick Prescott who’s impossible to overlook in the flesh. For a short time she forgets the cutthroat competition of the Hill. For a short time she forgets her work demands she keep her private life just that—private. On the back roads of Virginia she loses her heart. How is she now going to fall out of love with one of her greatest political opponents?

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Why We Love Cowboys by Patricia Knoll/Patricia Forsythe

Last week was Fiesta De Los Vaqueros in Tucson, Arizona – better known as Rodeo Days. Every year for the past eighty-nine years, the city of Tucson has spent several days in February remembering -- and sometimes reinventing -- its Wild West roots with a parade and a full program of old-fashioned rodeo events like bronc riding and roping. My dad was a cowboy – that’s his hat in the picture – and I attended many rodeos with him when I was a little girl. Nowadays, new twists have been added to rodeos with events for kids and a full day of activities promoting breast cancer awareness. Yes, some things have changed, but one thing that endures is the American love for cowboys.

In the 1800’s novels with Old West settings and themes were popular because they were often sensationalized accounts of the activities of real cowboys or western lawmen – basically a cowboy with a badge -- who had a code of honor that they followed strictly. It consisted of doing right for others by protecting the innocent and punishing evildoers. This attractive stereotype carried over into the early days of silent pictures, then into the serialized westerns and full length movies without -- and then with -- sound, and it still carries on today to a limited degree. Few western-themed movies and television shows are made today, but the cowboy carries on. Today’s cowboy may not be dressed in jeans, hat, or boots. He may be a superhero with cape, mask, and the ability to fly, but beneath the leotard and tights beats the heart of a cowboy. He’s still protecting the innocent and punishing evildoers.

One place that cowboys still show up in their original version, though, is in the romance novel. Whether it is one set in the Wild West, or in a modern western setting, they remain popular heroes. I’ve written several romance novels with cowboy heroes and they are a major feature in my Lucky Break, Arizona series of romances. There is something attractive about a businessman who owns a large piece of land like a ranch and has employees, and often families, depending on him. In one way these men are loners, but in other ways they’re the heads of big corporations. Their pursuits can be as basic as shoeing a horse, or as complex as negotiating a multi-million dollar deal for the sale of land or cattle. Either way, we love them and the spirit of independence and self-sufficiency they represent.


Patricia Knoll tells people she is that rarest of all creatures, a native Arizonan of ‘a certain age’. She writes books set in the west in order to shamelessly take advantage of the colorful characters, traditions, and history of her native state. Contact her at

Monday, February 24, 2014

Love is All Around by Magdalena Scott

 I have enjoyed reading about, and seeing pictures of, exotic places where some of my fellow Sweet Romance Reads authors have visited. Although I’ve been fortunate to travel through quite a bit of the United States, I’ve never been overseas. I have seen the gleam in my cousin’s eyes when she talks about her trip to Paris, and always enjoy travelogues when friends return from places I have yet to see. Books set in other countries (especially the UK) are among my favorites. I hope I’ll be able to visit some of those places in person eventually.

But romance can also be found on a quiet trail through the woods of Southern Indiana, or lying on the hood of a big old car, watching for shooting stars. Love can grow at the rehearsals of a non-famous church choir, or around a smoky open fire pit at a small-town festival. It can have its beginnings in the trips to visit your boyfriend at college, when the pal who’s traveling with you becomes, after the boyfriend has moved on, more than a pal.

What a lucky girl was I, to have found love in the town where I grew up. So fortunate that I didn’t have to go looking for it at all—it found me, literally where I lived, and it lasted (‘til death do you part”) for 30 years. This is why I write romances set in small towns. Each story, intentionally or not, has some of my own hometown in it. And, I hope, some of the love that has been blessed my life.


Magdalena Scott lives in a small town in Southern Indiana. A widow since 2012, she is rebuilding her life by practicing gratitude and getting back into writing. She shares her jewel box apartment with a cat named Attila, is the very proud mother of The Progeny, and soon-to-be-mother-in-law of The Progenette.

Magdalena is the author of six novellas in the Ladies of Legend series. Her first story in that series is Midnight in Legend, TN. You can find all of her books at Amazon. Catch up with her on her [sometimes silly] blog, Welcome to Magdalenaville, as well as on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

Friday, February 21, 2014

The Shorthand of Love by Sierra Donovan

After 20 years of marriage, do my husband and I finish each other's sentences? Well, not that I've noticed. But over the years, we've definitely developed a vocabulary that makes sense to very few other people.

For instance, we watch so many versions of "A Christmas Carol" together each year that it's scary. It could be July, and I might toss out a quote like "I'm beginning to think you've gone through life with your eyes closed." He'll immediately know, not just what I'm quoting, but which version of the film. (Answer: 1984, starring George C. Scott.)

My husband might give me "the Fluke look" when I suggest something he finds ... questionable. Years ago, we were picking out a movie when we didn't know a lot about the choices at the theater. I suggested "Fluke," about a man who's reincarnated as a dog. He was dubious, but we went with it. Two hours later, he was still dubious, and he's kidded me about it ever since. Obviously, I can't replicate the expression here on the blog ... but you'd know it if you saw it.

Sometimes we call an expense "the best hot water we've ever had." A while back, we had to replace our water heater, to the tune of about $2000. We groaned because it's not even like needing to buy a new car or a new refrigerator, where at least you can see the difference. Now it's turned into a wry joke we make whenever we have to spend money on something that's absolutely necessary, but doesn't make a noticeable difference in our lives.

And on and on, most of them with background stories that take a long time to explain. But even with an explanation, it's not the same. Because you had to be there. And I'm so glad both of us were. (Hey, it beats facing a broken water heater alone.)

Movie lines, song lyrics, funny or embarrassing moments ... it's all part of the vocabulary we've built up through the two decades of our marriage.

I write -- and read -- romance novels because the discovery of new love is fun and exciting. Stories on the printed page let us experience that discovery again and again. But for my money, nothing beats a love that's been around the block. As the years go by, we gain more and more shared history. And with it, we build a deeper and richer relationship.

It's one of the major rewards of a long, loving marriage ... and it's one I wish for the couples in every romance as they head down the road toward their happily-ever-after.

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Sierra Donovan is a wife, a mother of two and a writer, though not always in that order. Her job and greatest joy is helping people find true love on the printed page. She's a firm believer in old movies, Christmas, chocolate fudge and happy endings. To find out more, feel free to drop by her website.

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Sierra is the author of Meg's Confession and Love on the Air, which was a Holt Medallion finalist. Her next novel, No Christmas Like the Present, is due out in October from Kensington Books. Her books are available at and

Thursday, February 20, 2014

“Sweet Romance Novels”, and the Smart Men Who Learn to Appreciate Them by Christine Bush

 When we think of Sweet Romance novels, we usually think of our readers as the feminine gender.  Women and romance stories go together.  Basically this is true.  The demographics of our readers show a much higher percentage of female readers than male.  Of course, there are a few writers of books who   crossover genre lines (mostly in romantic suspense, a few paranormal) and have garnered a nice percentage of readers from both genders.  

But among our sweet romance readers, we do find some males who are buying and enjoying our books. I consider them very smart guys.

One of the hats I wear in life, when I am not writing, is working as a Marriage and Family Therapist.  In this role, I hear a lot of stories of what works and what doesn’t work in today’s relationships. I hear how things can fall apart, but have witnessed the joy of healing, growth and new understanding and respect in couplehood in many instances. In my role as a therapist, I use many different  therapies and approaches when working with people.

One of the things that can break down a relationship is simple misunderstanding, or miscommunication. This seems to be sometimes fueled by  the differences in how men and woman approach love and relationship.  I’ve heard so many frustrated men exclaim, “I just don’t understand how she thinks. I can’t understand what she wants!”  

There are two suggestions I have dared to make in these cases.  One is to read Chapman’s book called “The Five Love Languages”, which is the most clear and insightful explanation of how we can each express and/or have differing measures of love.  Powerful.

The second idea is a bit more unusual. I have occasionally suggested reading a particular romance novel.  Often it’s a favorite of his wife/girlfriend.  This works because if she has a favorite hero type, it’s easy to see. But more importantly, a well crafted romance today is a direct line into the workings of a modern day woman’s brain and heart. Think about it. These books that steal our hearts, also explain our hearts. And  a fictional novel can do this in non confrontational way, if the man dares to do his homework and read.   This may not make sense to someone who has not explored the character deep/ real life conflict nature of a well written book.  But it works.

I focus on sweet stories, because those stories focus on feelings.  I’m not talking about the purely sexual side of a relationship.  That’s another issue. I’m talking about the expectations, the emotional needs, the communication side of a relationship. Our books emphasize those issues.

But sometimes (imagine this!) she hasn’t read romance novels in the past.  So reading one, like it or not, can be a great conversation starter for both parties.  It’s amazing how successful it can be to get couple’s communicating. Talking openly about love and needs and conflict and frustration and sensuality after reading one together can be as empowering as a weekend getaway. Romance is fun.

Sometimes men are threatened that they can’t “compete” with these alpha heroes on the page. When they read one who shows the hero as human, learning as he goes, if often turns out to be a good thing.  For a man who is clueless how to romance his wife, it can be a great example of how to relate to the ‘romance needs’  and imagination of their real life woman.

Though I don’t think that men will ever be our main readers, the ones who dare to open the cover can find a lot of insight into how we think.  Have a favorite and powerful romance story?  Read it with your guy. And tell him why.

Christine Bush is the award winning author of many books and novellas of sweet romance and light mystery. When she isn’t writing, she can be found working with clients as a Marriage and Family Therapist in private practice, or teaching Psychology at a local college.  She lives with her family and two crazy cats in northeastern Pennsylvania, and loves to hear from readers and aspiring writers.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

A blast from the Roxanne Rustand

This winter has gone on...and on...and on. I love snow.  I really do!  But it's been a number of years since we've had such a snowy, bitterly cold winter in Iowa.  None of the 12-14" blizzards (yet)  but  lots of significant snowfalls that just keep coming, like the Energizer Bunny.  Reminiscent of the pre-climate change days of growing up in Minnesota, in fact.  Which has been making me a tad nostalgic.

So much so, that my daughter and I went off to a consignment store, found some old fondue sets for a few dollars, and then we had a fondue  supper over the weekend.  Any of you remember those days, when a bride got duplicates of fondue sets?  I remember my mom putting on some fondue dinner parties when I was young, but I'd forgotten how fun it was.  Labor intensive too, though!  On Friday night, we had chicken, steak cubes, and meatballs to cook on those little forks;  a pot of hot cheese sauce for broccoli, cauliflower and bread cubes;  and  chocolate fondue for fresh fruit and angel food cake cubes.  It was fun, sitting around the table,  eating much slower, talking a lot more.

And nostalgia has now had me pulling some favorite old novels off my shelves.  Do you remember the first romance novel you ever read?  The one that first captivated your heart and made you eager to find more, and more of such wonderful books? I'd never read a romance until my friend Judy handed me an old Judith McNaught novel and dared me to put it down.  I laughed...and then started to read.  At 4 am the next morning I hit The End and wanted nothing more than to start it all over again.  I'd never read anything that touched on the core of a woman's emotion like that book.  It was One & Always...and then I rapidly read every historical romance I could find.  And when McNaught wrote Paradise (be still my heart!)  I read that twice and then fell in love with contemporary romance.  It is still on my keeper shelf, and I must have read it five times by now.  What are your all-time keeper novels?  The ones that made you a devoted romance reader?

My avid reading evolved into writing, and now here I am, twenty years later, with thirty published novels under my belt and dreams of writing (and reading!) many more. I evolved from secular into inspirational and sweet romance, and couldn't be happier about writing what I love to read, 

Nostalgia--and a longing for summer--still has me in its grip as I write this post.  With predictions of ice and five more inches of snow, we're having family over for dinner tonight: a summer sort of meal, with fried chicken and all the fixin's,  fresh fruit salad, and homemade ice cream. I'd love to invite you all over...but since that's not possible, I'd love for us to talk about our favorite books--the ones on our keeper shelf, that drew us into the world of romance fiction and really touched our hearts.

Roxanne has sold thirty novels, and  writes inspirational romantic suspense, inspirational romance, and sweet romance.  She lives in the country with her family, and a menagerie of pets that frequently find their way into her books. Her blog, at, features authors and readers blogging about their pets...and books, of course!  Animal lovers may also enjoy stopping by  or 

Her newest releases are available on Amazon:  COMEBACK COWBOY and SUMMER AT BRIAR LAKE

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

The Lost Art of Letter Writing by Kate Hewitt

Recently I cleaned out my desk (in preparation for moving to my first own study, but that’s a whole other topic!) and discovered letters my husband wrote me when we were dating. Lots of letters, with lots of pages, because (and I am revealing my age here, I know) this was before texting, emailing, or any online communication or presence at all. 

Rereading my husband’s letters reminded me of how I used to write letters too. Not just to my husband, but to friends during summer breaks from college, my parents when I was in school, and friends I made when I traveled through Europe. So many letters, but back then there simply wasn’t any other way of keeping in touch.

I lamented to my emailing and texting children that we have lost the ability to write letters, and how sad I think that is, and got the expected eye-roll in response. But upon reflection, we’ve been losing the art of letter writing for centuries. Read a letter written a generation or two ago, and they are far more eloquent than the bits of news and trivia I wrote in my letters!

My historical romance, Far Horizons, is based on letters my ancestors wrote in the early 1800s, which have been passed down through my family. My great-great-great Uncle Allan emigrated from Scotland to Canada in 1819, and wrote to his fiancée Harriet for seven years before he was able to return for her. The language and emotion expressed in these letters is, I think, both heart-wrenching and lovely. This is from Allan to Harriet:

How can I express the consternation of my heart, or account for the long and cruel silence on your part? This is the fifteenth letter I have written you since, but I am afraid they never got your length, or you would not be so long in writing me. I know you too well to imagine you capable of any change or caprice towards me, and I hope you know me too well to expect any change on my side...
The imagined reason for Harriet’s silence is what inspired Far Horizons, and I loved incorporating the letters that have been passed down through my family into the story.
Rereading my husband’s letters to me made me resolve to write more real (ie, on paper!) letters, although I’m afraid I’ve only managed one so far. My hand cramps from writing now, because I’m not used to it! How sad is that?!
Letters aside, there are many benefits to the new, technological ways we have to communicate. Having moved to England from America, I am thrilled to use email, Skype, Facebook, and other social media to keep in touch with family--but I think I will always miss the poignant beauty of a handwritten letter! What about you? Is there anything you miss in this brave, new digital age?
 Kate Hewitt is the USA Today bestselling author of over 30 novels for Harlequin, Carina Press, and Lion Fiction, as well as several titles she has published independently. She lives in the Lake District in England with her husband, children, and a Golden Retriever. You can find more about her and her books at

Far Horizons is available FREE as an ebook through all retailers:

Monday, February 17, 2014

Remembering Oldies with Mona Risk

Valentine Day is a great time to remember the romantic movies we loved, or hum some heart-melting songs. Today I kept thinking about my mother's favorite shows. We used to watch them daily when she lived in her small apartment in assisted living.

We started the morning with NBC TODAY show with Kathie Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotb. Mom would comment on their beautiful dresses more than she paid attention to what they said. Later we switched to "Who wants to be a millionaire?" with Meredith and Regis, and we'd try to answer the questions.

During Mom's lunchtime, we watched reruns of her favorite comedy shows.

Here is a trivia game to play for the chance to win my Valentine Babies.

Can you remember what year these shows started? If you're too young to know, take a wild guess. Choose one of the years below.

All in the Family, with the loveable but racist Archie Bunker, George Jefferson and long-suffering Edith: 1966; 1971; 1973; 1982
Bewitched, the lovely witch Samantha who twitches her nose to cast a spell: 1960; 1964; 1974; 1984
The Golden Girls with the delightful Dorothy, Blanche and Rose: 1978; 1985; 1992; 2000
Everybody Loves Raymond with Raymond, his wife Debra, brother Robert, and his Italian-American parents, manipulative Marie and obnoxious Frank: 1968; 1986; 1996; 2005

So go ahead, give me your answers to win a copy of Valentine Babies.

VALENTINE BABIES is a heartwarming story that will take you from the heart of Kentucky to South Florida and Atlanta, and then to Iraq and Germany.

Fearless reporter, Roxanne Ramsay, doesn't think twice before traveling for important assignments, even in a war zone--until her last trip leads her to a life-altering mistake.

At his best friends' wedding, Dr. Greg Hayes, who has a serious phobia of planes, can't take his eyes off the lovely maid of honor. But why is Roxanne blinking away tears? Getting involved with the strong-headed and too generous reporter involves more complications than the bright doctor has ever faced in the OR. Yet what wouldn't he do to save the love of his life and her baby?

Mona traveled to more than fifty countries on business or vacation. Eventually she left a scientific career to share with readers the many stories brewing in her head. She writes contemporary romances, sweet or not so sweet, with suspense elements or medical themes. Sprinkled with a good dose of humor, her stories are set in the fascinating places she visited, from exotic Belarus, and historical France, to the beaches of Greece, the monuments of Egypt and the mysterious Islands of Seychelles--or more simply in Ohio, Florida, Boston and Washington, DC. Her titles garnered many awards. A winner of Best Romance Novel at Preditors & Editors, Best Contemporary Romance at Readers Favorite, Epic Award Finalist, first-place wins in Enchanted Quill, Launching a Star, and Wallflower. Find Mona on Facebook, or Twitter, or visit her website.

Mona’s latest releases are boxed sets for Christmas and Holidays all available at Amazon, KDP:
DOCTOR’S ORDERS Box Set: 3 romance novels, with emotion and humor. Christmas at the beach, on a cruise, or in Russia.
HOLIDAY BABIES SERIES: 3 bestsellers novels, about Christmas and holidays, with twin babies and humor.
FOREIGN LOVERS: a different genre of contemporary novels with sizzling romance, sensual tension, and suspense in international settings.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Happy Valentine's Day from the Sweet Romance Reads Authors!

Ah, the movies. Romantic comedies, great drama, teen flicks and the classics! What better way to celebrate Valentine's Day than for our authors to share their favourite movie couples - and why they've touched our hearts. So without further ado, in honour of this most romantic day of the year, Sweet Romance Reads presents... our favourite romantic movie couples.

Donna Fasano, author of The Single Daddy Club: Derrick Duke (James Garner) and Allie (Gina Rowlands) in The Notebook. They're my favorite couple because I love Duke's dedication to Allie. He's a wonderful example of "in sickness and in health."

Magdalena Scott, author of Midnight in Legend, TN. My movie is from 1953 - ROMAN HOLIDAY with Audrey Hepburn as Princess Ann, who is visiting Rome on a European tour, and Gregory Peck as an expat American reporter working in Rome. She is young and innocent, he's been around the block. I love how their relationship changes both of them. But each time I watch it, I mentally rewrite the ending to make it a "happily ever after." Maybe that's one of the reasons I write Romance!

Shaleen Kapil, whose upcoming debut is a contemporary update of Jane Austen's Persuasion. Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr in "An Affair to Remember." The last scene when he starts to put everything together and looks for the painting is always heart-wrenching. Then he finds the painting, and you can see the transformation in his face.

Joanne Hill, author of Falling for Jack. It's a sentimental movie from my teens that I still love - Molly Ringwald and Michael Schoeffling as geeky Samantha and cool guy Jake in Sixteen Candles. The last scene where she's standing in the church doorway after her sister's wedding, and he waves at her, and she looks around to see who he's waving at, and says "Me?" and he says, "Yeah, you." Just gorgeous.

Margaret Daley, author of Love Gone To The Dogs Sean Connery and Lorraine Bracco in Medicine Man about two stubborn, brillant doctors that clash and fall in love in the middle of the Amazon jungle. The scene I loved was when they were walking above the trees by a system of ropes looking for a cure for cancer. Action packed combined with a romance—my kind of story.

Patricia Forsythe (aka Patricia Knoll), author of Here To Stay I'm a sucker for musicals. My favorite movie couple is Professor Harold Hill and Marian Paroo from 'The Music Man'. I love the way her love changed him from a man who worked his con on unsuspecting citizens and got the last train out of town to a man who 'got his foot caught in the door'. I also love the way he changed her idea of who the perfect man for her could be. And I know all the lyrics to all the songs!

Melinda Curtis, author of Summer Kisses Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy, Pride & Prejudice. I go against the grain and prefer the movie over the PBS special, because it hits all the emotional high points succinctly.

Helen Scott Taylor, author of The Army Doctor's Valentine's Baby My favorite movie couple are Johnny (Patrick Swayze) and Francis (Jennifer Grey) from Dirty Dancing. I love that the ordinary girl gets the cool guy.

Sierra Donovan, author of Meg's Confession Rick and Ilsa from Casablanca. SPOILER ALERT: No, it's not a traditional HEA, but they get back the love they lost and become better people who put their personal hurts aside for the greater good. Chokes me up every time. And yes, they WILL always have Paris.

Milou Koenings, author of Reclaiming Home Rose Sayer and Charlie Allnut, aka Katherine Hepburn and Humphrey Bogart in the African Queen. Their differences lead to conflicts, but by working together they each bring out the best in each other and become more likeable people. Despite their arguments, they have such respect for each other and are aware of the other's kindness and strengths. And even though they face tremendous challenges just saving their own lives and could easily have focused on that alone, they come together over a common goal that is bigger than themselves.

Aileen Fish, author of Cowboy Cupid Emma and Murphy from Murphy’s Romance. SPOILER: At the end, after Emma declares she’s in love for the first time, Murphy, who is “somewhat” older, says, “And I’m in love for the last time.” That line gets me – such a declaration of eternal love.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

What if Mr. Wonderful gets it all wrong? by Beate Boeker

Well, our Valentine party is over (sniff), but it was short and intense, and it rained free e-books and prizes and gifts - I'm sure I'm not the only one who felt like I was twirling in an e-book shower!

We had so much fun with all of the games, but one post was even better than all the others, and when I couldn't help chuckling, I decided to repeat it here. This is it:

"We all dream of romantic marriage proposals, flowers, dinner, your own hero going down on one knee and offering a huge diamond. But what if Mr. Wonderful gets it all wrong? What is the worst marriage proposal you can imagine? A $5 Amazon Gift Card for the most imaginative answer."

And boy, did we get answers! I hope that a few men find their way to this blog, just to learn what NOT to do when proposing. Here we go, a free lesson for guys who don't want to get it wrong:

First, don't mention any monetary background. It absolutely kills the romance. Would be even better if you didn't think about it.

Second, avoid new media. Texting, messaging, via Facebook - whatever. Yes, you may be the latest technology wizard and you may have really funky gadgets, but forget about that when proposing. You're dead if you propose in any other way but personally.

Then, make sure you don't address her with a wrong name (no, really!) and make sure you ASK and don't just assume that she'll prepare the wedding without being asked first!

Next, make sure you create a full sentence. "You wanna?" is kind of off-putting, to put it bluntly. Would be nice if you added some background here.

Also, proposing in public - and while singing - may make some ladies swoon, but as far as I know, the majority of girls prefer a secluded, romantic spot with just the two of you. Because remember - she may not want to say yes, but she's a kind girl who may not want to embarrass you in public - and you don't want a fiancée who said "yes" out of compassion.

And finally, here's my personal favorite, an absolute no-go: Don't ask your mother to propose for you. It kind of sends the wrong message, you know?

However, in another post, we discussed the perfect setting for a proposal, and many of us girls liked the sea - preferably at sunset (hint, hint). So, good luck with that proposal and if you want to read more, check out our Facebook page and read up on all the free information on convincing the lady of your heart that you're the right guy!

Have you read any proposals in books that went wrong, or saw something on the news that made you shudder for the poor girl? Or, heaven forbid, have you been proposed to in a less-than-memorable way?

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Italians in Love by Helen Scott Taylor

Italy is renowned for being romantic with its beautiful countryside, the tall, dark, handsome men, and the rambling historic towns with their old romantic traditions. When Shakespeare wrote about his tragic young lovers, Romeo and Juliet, he forever linked Italy with romance in the hearts and minds of people all over the world.
Italian couples traditionally celebrate La Festa Degli Innamorati, Valentine's Day, like lovers all over the world, by exchanging Valentine's cards and going out to share a romantic dinner. The man will often give his sweetheart a gift of red roses, perfume or chocolates. Baci chocolate candies with a shiny red wrapper and a sweet red cherry center are produced specially. These chocolates contain a romantic quote inside the foil wrapper.
The history of Valentine's Day has its origins in Italy as well. In the Roman Empire, February 14th was a holiday to celebrate Juno, the goddess queen of women and marriage.
Valentine’s Day is also linked to the priest, St. Valentine. He defied the Roman emperors’ order banning soldiers from marrying during wartime and secretly wed them to their sweethearts.
Now the romantic Italians have started another tradition for lovers, Lucchetti dell’Amore or Locks of Love.
Young lovers write their names on a padlock. They then secure it on a bridge or railing and throw away the key as a sign that their love will last forever. There are different accounts of when this tradition started. Around the time of the Second World War, young people from Riomaggiore and Manarola, two fishing villages in the Cinque Terre on the Italian Riviera, started attaching padlocks to the fence of the coastal footpath between the two villages. They then tossed the keys into the Mediterranean.
Nowadays, these locks of love are found all over Italy, often on bridges spanning rivers. They adorn bridges in Rome, Venice, Verona (pictured) and Florence. The authorities have started to remove them from places of historic beauty like the Rialto bridge in Venice. In Florence police removed more than 5000 locks from the Ponte Vecchio. But the romantic Italians will not be stopped. This craze has now spread across Italy into other European countries.
The Lucchetti dell’Amore, Locks of Love, sound like a wonderfully romantic idea in theory, but I can imagine they might become a problem for the Italian authorities.

Do you know of any unusual Valentine's or lover's traditions?
Helen lives in South West England near Plymouth in Devon between the windswept expanse of Dartmoor and the rocky Atlantic coast. As well as her wonderful, long-suffering husband, she shares her home with a Westie a Shih Tzu and a burmilla cat. Helen's latest book is a Valentine's story! The Army Doctor's Valentine's Baby is #5 in her series. Find Helen on FaceBook and Twitter, or visit her website.


Tuesday, February 11, 2014

A Few Words on Procrastination by Donna Fasano

Dawdling, postponing, stalling, dabbling, delaying, dilly-dallying, loitering, frittering, playing, frivoling, idling, loafing. They all mean the same thing: to put off. I am good at it. Too good, I fear.

And when I am questioned about my progress (the project matters not—it could be anything from making a grocery list to editing my next novel), I have perfected the hemming and hawing answer that is sure to baffle the interrogator into a frustrated fit (90% of the time the interrogator is my husband who has learned over the years that it's safer not to do too much questioning unless he wants to end up walking away, scratching his head, and muttering, "What the heck did she just say?"). 

Just this week, I was interviewed by an editor of a popular romance novel review magazine and I told the woman, "There's nothing better than being your own boss." And here I sit this morning, blogging, reading e-mail and tweets, checking Facebook, pacing from window to window, nibbling on a granola bar, doing anything and everything besides what I should be doing: starting the next chapter of my book. One negative about being your own boss is that there's no one to light a fire under you when there's work to be done.

Here's my best advice regarding procrastination:

·        Just do it!
·        Break larger tasks into smaller ones.
·        Complete the most difficult task first.
·        Reward yourself when the job is complete.

Now THERE'S advice everyone should follow, right? Are you a procrastinator? What do you find is your biggest distraction? And what's your best piece of advice for me…er, ah, people who procrastinate?

USA TODAY Bestselling Author Donna Fasano has written over 30 romance and women's fiction novels. You can learn more about her on her blog, or visit her on Facebook and Twitter. Donna loves to hear from her readers.

Her sweet romance novel, TAKE ME I'M YOURS, is on sale this week for just $0.99. Find it in the Kindle Store.

Monday, February 10, 2014

What Does Romance Mean To You?

Over 100 years ago Alfred Lord Tennyson wrote the poem which included these lines: "In the Spring a young man's fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love."

So why is it unpopular now for men to admit they like romance … providing the right woman is involved? Why do men hide in a corner when they dare to read a sweet romance book?

Although it is possible to live without romance, those blessed with true love know that it is a divine gift and not to be taken lightly. It has a quality of excitement, and mystery. Falling in love can temporarily remove us from the cares of our everyday life.

But according to Samuel Stoddard: “Being romantic is hard work. Some people think that romance is easy,” he says, “that anybody can be romantic with very little work. This is not true. To be romantic,” he continues, “there are a lot of things you must know about romance and a lot of situations you must prepare for.”

Hard work? That sounds like everyday drudgery. Is romance worth it?

In my experience, for the best relationships, lovers are the best of friends. And as Elbert Hubbard once said. “To have a friend you must first be a friend.”

Contrary to popular opinion, some lovers like practical gifts. And romantic gifts do not have to be a large out of pocket expense. In fact the best gifts of all are things money cannot buy.
Five special gifts you should give freely:
Wearing his favorite outfit for the occasion.
A smile of appreciation.
Laugh at his jokes.
Appreciate his talents.
Be thankful for his attempts to please you, not breathing a word about what you would have preferred …Unless he asks, of course. Then give him the gift of the truth given in love.

And those times when life has dumped on you? Cheer your spirits by reading a sweet romance. Perhaps a comedy filled one. Refill your romance tank so you can spread peace and joy to others.

Sharon A Lavy lives with her husband in SW Ohio. When not reading, writing, or sewing for her family, she enjoys traveling with her husband in their small Flight Design airplane.
You can find out more about her on the web:

Friday, February 7, 2014

The Most Romantic Month by Aileen Fish

Do you ever feel overlooked during the first half of February? Either you are like I am, single and not dating, or you’ve been in a relationship long enough that Valentine’s Day is often forgotten. All around us, advertisers scream how we must declare our love for someone with candy, flowers or jewelry. It can lead some into a funk, I am sure! 

Thank heavens for sweet romance books, right? We can slip into the same romantic mood sweeping the rest of the country as easily as opening a book. Movies, too, but in this case, books hit the spot more for me. I can picture the hero as I like him, I can pretend to be young again like the heroine. I can browse the shelves for exactly the type of hero I want, cowboy or cop, lord or duke. I can enjoy several heroes in one night—oh, the scandal! 

I think this is why I have loved books since I was little. No matter what my mood, there is something out there to suit me. When it’s hot in the summer I can open a book set in the snow. And warm myself the same in winter.

I have stocked up on some great Valentine’s Day reads, and will probably indulge myself on the 14th by squeezing in a few hours to do just that, read, perhaps with a few pieces of fancy chocolate to savor. What about you? Do you look for more books in February than in other months? Or do you pull out a particular old favorite to enjoy?
~ * ~

Aileen Fish, author of The Bridgethorpe Brides series, is an avid quilter and auto racing fan who finds there aren't enough hours in a day/week/lifetime to stay up with her "to do" list. There is always another quilt or story begging to steal away attention from the others. When she has a spare moment she enjoys spending time with her two daughters and their families, and her fairy princess granddaughter.

Her latest release, Cowboy Cupid, is available for Amazon and Nook and other ebook formats. Stay up to date with book releases at her website or on Facebook.