Thursday, October 30, 2014

Happy Halloween by Guest Author Kathryn Albright

It’s here - Halloween! I’m hoping all the trick-or-treaters out there have a safe, fun evening.

I grew up in southern California. With the temperature in the high 60’s and the tall palm trees, Halloween didn’t seem scary at all. Now that I live in the Midwest, I confess I enjoy the autumn most of all. Halloween seems to “fit” here with the big harvest moons, the gnarled oak trees losing their colorful leaves, and the bite of the wind over the dying cornfields bringing in a hint of the coming winter.

When I was young, the PTA (Parent-Teacher Association) hosted a small carnival on the school playground every Halloween. No rides, but games like knocking down milk bottles with a rubber ball, fishing in a small swimming pool for goldfish, or doing the cake-walk. My mother would make a cake or two for that game. (Actually she did a lot more than that—always involved!) There was also a barbeque beef sandwich booth and a costume parade. Although there were store-bought costumes, many of my friends made something out of what they had on hand. My mother loved to sew and always had plenty of material from which to choose. I did come to realize that I hated the plastic masks from the store and would rather paint my face. (It’s also safer!)

I must have inherited my mother’s passion for getting involved and sewing. Here’s a picture of my three sons in costumes I made for them.

How about you? What are your favorite Halloween memories?


From her first breath, Kathryn Albright has had a passion for stories that celebrate the goodness in people. She combines her love of history and her love of a good story to write novels of inspiration, endurance, and hope. Her newest release is Dance with A Cowboy in the Wild West Christmas anthology. Visit her at, or Facebook.

Meet Our Guest - Lacy Williams

Thanks for hosting me today!

So one of my favorite seasons is coming soon: Christmas. I love everything about Christmas, from decorating the tree and climbing on the roof to hang lights, to shopping to wrapping to (some) cooking... I love all of it. Now that I have small children, I get to enjoy it even more through the joy in their eyes.

So when thinking about the season coming soon, I started thinking about my favorite literary Christmases.

Of course there is the classic Dickens "A Christmas Carol". My daughter got obsessed last year with the Disney version so we watched Scrooge McDuck go through his Christmases with the three ghosts probably fifteen times. What I like about it: hero redeems himself in the end.

Another favorite is the Christmas from Little Women. I loved Jo and how hard she worked to make Christmas for the entire family. This book is a favorite from my teenage years.

One of the childhood favorites I enjoyed was "My Side of the Mountain". Main character Sam Gribbley ran away from home to live in a tree and spends Christmas with Bando (a friend he meets on the mountain). They have a feast of venison steaks, groundnuts (for mashed potatoes), wild onion soup, and snowballs for dessert! What I loved about it: what child doesn't imagine running away from home at least once? And Sam Gribbley did it, and survived and had fun with it. I loved imagining it, not actually living it.

Recently, I’ve gotten to write about two different Christmases for my characters. A historical Christmas in A Cowboy for Christmas, releasing December 1 from Love Inspired Historical, where the heroine Daisy’s family all gets sick over the holiday and she must work with the hero to make their Christmas happen. And I also have Mistletoe Cowboy, a contemporary Christmas love story and a part of the Mistletoe Kisses multi-author collection releasing November 25 from Inspy Kisses. I’ve really enjoyed writing about my favorite season for some of my favorite characters!

What about you? I’d love to know, what are your favorite literary Christmases?


Grab a free novella by signing up for Lacy’s newsletter at her website . Lacy Williams is an author with split writer-personalities. She writes Inspirational Western Romances under her name Lacy Williams. And young adult vampire romances under her pen name Lacy Yager. On the one hand… cowboys! On the other… tortured heroes and kick-butt heroines. No wonder she doesn’t want to choose. Lacy’s books have finaled in the RT Book Reviews Reviewers' Choice Awards (2012, 2013, & 2014), the Golden Quill and the Booksellers Best Award. She is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers, Romance Writers of America and Novelists Inc.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Halloween Fun

Have you ever tried to make a Halloween costume and found it wasn’t as easy as it looked? I’m a creative, “do-it-yourself” person and I love to sew, but my one attempt at making a fancy outfit didn’t turn out as well as I had expected. I bought a pattern, material and all of the accessories to make a witch costume for my daughter when she was eleven years old. It took several days to put it all together and it looked great on the hanger. The only problem was that when she put it on the outfit looked more like a black tent on her than a costume. She didn’t seem to care, though, and wore it anyway!

Now my daughter has her own children and she loves to dress them up on Halloween. However, she doesn’t have time to make their costumes so she pays someone else to do it. (Great idea!) Last year, her son, Gabe, went trick-or-treating as Napoleon Bonaparte. He was such a cutie pie in that suit.

This year he’s going as a dinosaur. I don’t know what my granddaughter, Gwen, has decided to wear, but I’m fairly certain her costume has the word “Frozen” somewhere in the description.
We’ve got the pumpkins carved, candy bars to hand out and we’re all ready for the day.

Happy Halloween!
USA Today bestselling author Denise Devine writes sweet contemporary romance and inspirational romance. You can visit her at


Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Cuddling Weather, and Famous Chili ~ by Magdalena Scott

Here is a picture of Attila, helping me work recently. I'm fortunate that he likes to cuddle on my legs instead of across my arms as I'm trying to type. He's tried that, but just a couple of times, and we decided it wasn't our best option.

Attila is a big cat, and when he cuddles with you, you know you've been cuddled! Wow, just like a hairy furnace. That body heat of his mixed with my frequent hot flashes this past summer made life...let's just use the word "challenging."

Fortunately the hot flashes are much less frequent lately, and with fall temperatures arriving, cuddling with Attila is all good. When he decides to bite me, his teeth don't easily go through my jeans. Win/win!

Attila is an indoor cat, but he has windows so he can watch people, vehicles, birds, and the weather. He hasn't said whether he's a fan of autumn, but if he's paying any attention, he knows it's in full swing. The people are wearing jackets, the tree leaves are changing as the temperatures drop.

Another indicator of the changing seasons is the fact that I'm making soup more often.

If you want a quick and yummy dinner on a cool evening, try my famous chili recipe. Most of my life I made not-so-good chili, but in 2010 I created this recipe and have had rave reviews.

Magdalena's Famous Chili
1 lb ground chuck, browned & drained
2 cans chili hot beans
1 can Cincinnati style chili
1 can tomato soup + 1 soup can of water
1 can diced tomatoes
Put it all into a Dutch oven and let simmer an hour or two, to mix the flavors.

Cats aren't supposed to eat tomatoes, but Attila does score the occasional piece of meat, or bean. And he appreciates cornbread or blue corn chips as a side. It's a nice change from his diet of dry cat food with raw spinach for dessert. Hey--neither of us is normal. Maybe that's why we found each other.

Happy October!


USA Today Bestselling Author Magdalena Scott writes sweet romance with small town settings. Visit her website:

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Fall into Love by Ginny Baird

Leaves are finally starting to turn here and we’re fully in the swing of autumn. In many ways, it’s my favorite season. There’s something about the crispness in the air that invigorates me and makes me think of new beginnings – even in the final quarter of the year. While I love holiday stories and summer romances too, I personally find autumn tales very romantic.  There’s nothing like sweater weather to bring a couple together for apple picking, or a mug of hot cider before a toasty fire.

Now Available in Audiobook

Though people often associate October with ghost stories, it's also a release month for new romances across the spectrum. Some of these involve spooky happenings, while others do not. Many are set at a different time of year (such as at Christmas) and simply come out in the fall. My novel, The Ghost Next Door: A Love Story, combines the sweetness of a fall romance with a paranormal twist ending. It takes place in a small Virginia town, and I loved developing its setting during such a wonderfully engaging season.

How about you? Do you enjoy autumn romances? Those set in September, October, or November – maybe even around Thanksgiving? Whatever your preference, I hope you’ll seek out a book by one of the members of Sweet Romance Reads, and fall into love with a sweet romance this season.

~ * ~

USA Today Bestselling Author Ginny Baird writes sweet romance and romantic comedy. Her autumn love story The Ghost Next Door has just been released in audiobook at Amazon, iTunes and Audible. Visit Ginny’s website to learn more about her and her books.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Taking Out the Trash!

I don't know about you, but I love throwing things out. Clearing the clutter from my house is like lifting a weight off my mind and spirit. Maybe the Japanese are on to something with their Feng shui ideas.

The trouble is I'm not a tidy person, and I don't often find time to have for a big clear out. Even now I have a cupboard full of clothes upstairs that I know I will never wear again. I want to throw them all away, but I need to sort through them first to divide up what can go to the thrift store and what to put straight in the trash.

My office desk is another place that needs regular tidying. I try to be organized and have a stack of document trays, one for each type of paperwork. The trouble is that once I put something in a tray, it is out of sight and out of mind. If I need to remember to do something, I need to keep the paperwork visible on my desk. As a result I have a heap of papers next to where I write, even though I wish my desk was clear.

However hard I try to be tidy, I can't seem to manage it. But the upside is that when I do get a chance for a clear out, it is very satisfying.

What about you, area you a neat freak with clear work surfaces and orderly cupboards, or are you like me? J

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 and a burmilla cat. Helen's latest book is the second in her Sweet Italian Christmas series, Italian Christmas Baby. Find Helen on FaceBook and Twitter, or visit her website.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

It's all about story by Joanne Hill

Last week I gave a presentation at a Library Association conference to fellow librarians and no surprises, it was on romance novels.  Boy, can I talk about that subject. Not just on romance, though, but on the evolving world of publishing as we go more and more digital. Naturally, there were lots of pretty retro pictures in the powerpoint!

One of the things I touched on was how even a couple of years ago I'd never have imagined I could possibly read a novel on my phone. (Seriously, a phone??!) I have a Kindle and of course there's the laptop but I really don't mind the tinsy screen as much as I thought I might.
Recently a friend who ran a book store for several decades said that she never, ever believed she would read ebooks. She sold books, worked in the industry for many years, and like all of us she just loved the smell and the feel of holding a brand new book in her hand.  There is something magical about that. But now she's a convert to digital. As she says, she never loses a book anymore. Ten years ago the idea we might not even have print books was enough to make me hyperventilate but now it's like, if that happens then yes, it would be sad, but it wouldn't be the end of the world. Not like I once thought it would be. 

That's because in the end it's all about the story.  About the plot and the characters and of course with our genre, the HEA. The method to read the story might change over time, but it doesn't really matter because when you want to wallow in a good story,  its the contentment of reading that compelling story that counts - whether its in print,  digital, an audio book - or some other format no one's even invented yet! What about you? What formats do you read in?
 Joanne's newest book is "The Return of Gabe McLeod", a sweet romance set in small town New Zealand and now on Amazon.



Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The Romance of Ordinary Things

The other day, I was taking laundry off the line and folding it into a basket when I stopped and caught my eyes tingling a little.   

I suddenly remembered a moment of despair years ago. Then, I also was folding laundry and talking to a friend on the phone at the same time.  I was crying, my tears wetting the T-shirt I'd just pulled out of the dryer, and told her that I would never get to marry the guy of my dreams, that I would never get to do our laundry and our babies' laundry - as opposed to just my - single, lonely - laundry.

It turned out I was wrong.  I've folded tons of laundry since then.  Mine, his, ours, theirs, you name it, I've hung it out, ironed and folded it. 

Housekeeping isn't high on my list of favorite things to do, but somehow I don't mind the wash, even though these days, I'm not the one doing it the most often.  I like folding our family's clothes.  I think back to that breakdown years ago pretty often - and I'm grateful each time I put away our clean laundry: grateful for the clothes, grateful for the people in my life that wear them.  And when I see that someone has done the same for me, and even taken care to put my clothes back in the cupboard, not any which way, but exactly in the order that I (neurotically) like them, I feel cherished.

Funnily enough, the best advice I ever got from my mother-in-law was about the wash.  She told me early on that one of the things she'd had to learn in her marriage was not to complain when her husband did the laundry - and did it wrong - but to focus on the fact that he'd done it and appreciate the fact that meant she didn't have to.  (Of course, that's not so easy to stick to when you then waste the next few hours trying to rescue a load of whites that turned blue ... but definitely worth the effort of keeping one's mouth shut!)

I'm not the only one who finds romance in ordinary things. A friend of mine - who lectures extensively on relationships - confided the other day that one of the biggest "love potions" for her is when she comes home late to discover her husband has emptied out the dishwasher.  She'll pull open the machine to start her least favorite household chore and when she discovers he's beat her to it, she'll just stand there amazed at the waves of love for him that just wash through her and how, at that moment, she'd be willing to do almost anything for him that he might wish for! 

Another friend is a widow whose husband died of leukemia in his forties, leaving her with eight children.  She's often told me that since then, winter is the hardest time for her emotionally, especially when it snows.  When her husband was alive, he would leave early in the mornings for the hospital where he was a doctor.  She wouldn't leave the house to go to work until all the kids had left for school.  But when she'd get to her car, it would have been scraped clean of ice, shoveled out - and the engine warmed for her.  Her kids do the shoveling now, or she does.  And it doesn't take that long to let her car engine warm up.  But it's the love behind the gesture she misses.  What he did for her each winter morning wasn't anything she wouldn't have done for herself, but the few minutes he took to do it made her feel beloved all day long - and still have the power to make her feel that way.

As time goes on, I realize that, more than candlelit dinners and tropical getaways - and I'm all for those! - it's the ordinary chores of daily living that can hold the most enduring testaments of love.  

The wonderful thing about that is we have it in our power to transform each ordinary day into one of lasting romance.

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

Her novel, Reclaiming Home, A Green Pines Romance, is available at Amazon
You can find her on her website,, on Facebook, Goodreads or Twitter.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

In Sickness and In Health by Angela Benson

October is a special month for me.  My fifth wedding anniversary is today, October 20.  And four years ago in October I completed radiation treatments for breast cancer.  In honor of my anniversary and National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, I want to share with you a post I wrote in November 2011, when I was newly wed and recovering from breast cancer.  It's not a sad story, but one of hope and happiness, a real love story.  I hope you enjoy it.
"In sickness and in health"
I took those words to heart as I contemplated getting married at age 50. It didn't take much to figure out that while my hubby and I had a number of good years ahead us, we had probably lived more days than we were going to live. So when I married my husband, I was well aware that I could become his caretaker and I was willing to take that risk, and if it came to it, that responsibility. You see, his medicine cabinet contained a lot more prescriptions than mine and he's two years older so I figured if one of us became ill, it would be him. Guess what? He didn't become ill; I did.

About three months before our first anniversary, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Let that sink in: Three months before our first anniversary, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. As you can imagine, the honeymoon phase of our marriage turned abruptly into the hospital phase. A cancer diagnosis means tests, tests and more tests. It means surgeries -- first for the biopsy and then for the cancer removal. It means treatments -- months of chemo followed by months of radiation. To give you an idea of how long the process lasted, we celebrated our second anniversary a couple of weeks after my radiation treatments ended, but while I still was recovering from them. That gives you some idea of what the year has been like for us.

I have to give my husband credit and praise for the care he's taken of me---physically, emotionally, and spiritually--over the last year. I've said to him more than once -- "You didn't sign up for this, did you?" And his answer is always, "Sign up for what? You're my wife and we take care of each other." Such simple words, but you'll never know how much they've meant to me. Or how much he means to me. It's one thing to love somebody when everything is going well; it's another to love them through life's challenges. I know this is strange to say, but I think we've grown closer during the past year.

For many years, I've worn my independence as a banner. I didn't need a man to complete me. Through this past year, I've learned that it's really nice to have somebody to lean on when your own personal strength seems to be waning. I've learned what it means to work together, to sacrifice for each other, to compromise for the greater good, and to love in practical ways. Overall, I think I've learned what it means to be a wife, a life partner.

I know some of you are saying, "Well, God was with you." And, yes, He was and still is. If I weren't married, I still wouldn't be alone; I'm not denying that truth. What I'm saying is that God was gracious enough to send me someone to go through this time with me. I thank Him for sending George to me.

This has not been a year of sadness for us though. I think it has made us both more grateful that we found each other. And we've had some fun memories that we often share with a laugh. Our first visit to wig shop is one of them. The owner gave me this Farrah Fawcett thing and told me I looked gorgeous. Behind her, my husband was vigorously shaking his head, his eyes wide with alarm.

Our attempt to make our own wig out of my sisterlocks is another fun memory. George went out and bought yarn and needles and we sat down to a pile of what seemed to be hundreds and hundreds of locks. We looked at the piles, looked at each other, shook our heads, and promptly gave up on the that idea.

Then after we finally settled on a wig, my husband, eyes sparkling, looked at me and said, "I've got a new wife." Something tells me I'll be wearing wigs every now and then even after my hair comes back.

I'm now officially a cancer survivor, but hospitals and tests are still a part of our future. And testing needs to be a part of your life or the lives of people you know and love. Early detection is important so get those mammograms. As I close this post, I want to share a Breast Cancer Love Letter with you. It's written by a survivor to the women she loves. I share it with you because I love you.


Angela Benson is the award winning and bestselling author of fourteen novels, two novellas and a non-fiction writing book.  Her most recent book is Delilah’s Daughters (Avon, 2014).  Her next book, The Summer of Me, will be released by Avon in August 2015.  While you’re waiting for Angela’s new title, be sure to check out her backlist recently released in eBook format.  Join Angela on Facebook or her website.  

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Things I Love About October by Raine English

It takes me a while to get in sync with the changing season, but now that the days have become so cool that I need to swap my sandals for leather boots and grab a jacket before leaving the house, I’m reminded of the things I love about October.

       All things pumpkin – pumpkin pies, pumpkin muffins, pumpkin spice lattes, 
       even pumpkin shampoo

Comfy clothes – sweatshirts, leggings, sweaters, and scarves

Brightly colored leaves

Freshly picked apples

Homemade chicken soup

Hot chocolate

Wood-burning fireplaces

Down comforters and flannel sheets

New TV shows

Halloween – Who doesn’t enjoy handing out candy to kids dressed as superheroes and  monsters?

What do you love about October?

USA Today bestselling author, Raine English writes small-town sweet contemporary romances. She is one of the authors in Sweet Christmas Kisses, a bundle of PG-rated romance novels and novellas from USA Today, national bestselling, and award-winning authors. Visit her website,, for updates on her books.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Writing Serials Can Be Fun! By Margaret Daley

Right now I'm writing a Halloween Serial with some other authors on a blog (Craftie Ladies of Romance). We do this several times a year. We decide on a theme. Like, this one is about Halloween. We also decide if it is a romance or romantic suspense. One person comes up with a seed of an idea and starts the story. We don't plot it ahead of time. Each one writes by the seat of her pants. It takes the story in some fun--often wacky--directions.

The first part was posted on Wednesday. Today the second installment of It Was a Dark and Stormy Night appeared. Tomorrow I will write the third installment, and at this moment I don't have any idea what I'm going to do. Readers enjoy these serials. Have you ever followed a serial? If you want to follow this one, it is at It will go to Halloween written by a different author each day. We love readers input in how the serial should go. Enjoy!

Bio: Margaret Daley, an award-winning author of ninety books (five million sold worldwide), has been married for over forty 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

Her most recent book out is a two novella bundle from Strong Women, Extraordinary Situations (romantic suspense).

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Happy National Dessert Day by Merrillee Whren

What spells sweet romance better than something sweet to eat? October 14th is National Dessert Day. Here are a few dessert to tempt you.

Are you hungry yet? What's your favorite dessert? What's the most romantic dessert?

Merrillee Whren is the winner of the 2003 Golden Heart 
Award presented by Romance Writers of American. 
She is married to her own personal hero, her husband of 
thirty-five plus years, and has two grown daughters. Her 
latest book, A PLACE TO CALL HOME, is available at 
all major ebook retailers.You can find the buy links at 
her website. Connect with her on her Facebook page.