Saturday, May 30, 2015

Living with ADHD - by Denise Devine

I have ADHD—Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder—though I’ve never been formally diagnosed. I’m sixty-four years old. When I attended grade school, the general public didn’t know what it was and the school system certainly didn’t address it. I didn’t know about the condition until my kids were little. About that time the public started to become aware of ADHD and I acquired a lot of information.

How do I know I have ADHD? First of all, it runs in my family. My sister was diagnosed, as an adult, and put on medication. Her son also has it and many of my nieces and nephews have been diagnosed. Fortunately, neither of my kids nor my grandchildren have it. Thank God!

Secondly, I’ve read several books on ADHD and believe me, I have it. You know it when you see it. You’re probably wondering why I don’t go to the doctor and get diagnosed. What’s the point? I’ve lived with it all my life and have gotten along just fine.

How have I coped with it? Easy…I’ve learned to compensate for my weakness. I simply learned how to do things in ways that got the job done and I became a perfectionist in the process. When I worked full time, I always performed best at jobs where I was up to my neck in paperwork. As long as I was busy doing the same things over and over, I became so efficient at my duties I could do everything fast and I never got bored. I also learned to write everything down and refer to my notes. And that, my friends, was the key to a successful 25 years of government service.

Can you imagine me sitting on a jury? Twice? Yep, been there, done that and I spent the entire time taking detailed notes because it was better than sitting in my chair squirming and yawning, looking at what everyone was wearing. My jury mates thought my note-taking was pretty funny, but no one was laughing when we went into deliberation and my notes recapped every witness exam/cross-exam in the trial.

Like I said, I’m at my best when I’m very busy, but I can only focus on one thing at a time. Otherwise, I get distracted and just spin my wheels. When I sit down to write, it has to be quiet in the house. No husband, no cats, no music, no TV. Unfortunately, it is rarely quiet at my house! As soon as I sit down to write, the phone rings, the neighbor shows up at the door, Fed-Ex is delivering a package, a cat is throwing up in another room, my husband can’t find something or suddenly wants to talk. As a matter of fact, that’s the only time he wants to talk… But the worst distraction, by far, is that little ding! coming from the computer in the other room that alerts me to a new email. The only way I can keep myself from jumping up and going in there twenty times a day is to turn off the sound on the computer so I can’t hear it.

Before I write a scene I have to make an outline, otherwise I just sit there and daydream…and listen for that little ding! in the other room. I love GMC charts! And the Hero’s Journey worksheet. Those two processes make me think about my characters in order to answer the necessary questions. They also satisfy my need to be organized before I start. Because I work best in a situation of consistency and repetition, I find that the more I write, the more I want to write, but the trick is letting go of all the other things competing for my attention and getting my butt into the chair first thing in the morning.

That’s the part I’m still working on.

~     ~     ~

Denise Devine is a USA TODAY bestselling author who has had a passion for books since she discovered Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder in second grade. She wrote her first book, a mystery, at age thirteen and has been writing ever since. Besides reading and writing, Denise also loves to study and travel. She’s currently working on two novels and needs to slow down long enough to get one of them done! This is the cover for her next inspirational story, coming this summer!

Want to keep up with news from Sweet Romance Reads authors? Sign up for the SRR newsletter today. Like chatting about Sweet Romance? Join the authors of Sweet Romance Reads in our cyber Café!


Friday, May 29, 2015

Love Unexpected- by Karen Rock

Many love stories seem to feature people with so much going for them- he’s rich, she’s beautiful, oh- and he’s also gorgeous too… of course… yet we are expected to root for this seemingly perfect couple to find the last piece- love- to complete their pristine lives. Now I don’t begrudge such fortunate people a chance at happiness. Romance is infinite and should be possible for everyone. Yet, I can’t help but fall a little more in love with couples that aren’t perfect, yet are perfect for each other, like Melvin and Carole from As Good as it Gets. Melvin is an OCD misanthrope author and Carole is a waitress and single mother struggling to support and care for a son who suffers from anxiety. Given the issues that consumed their lives, it seemed unlikely either could find love, yet they found it nonetheless. How did it happen? Love. Like it's often said... Love conquers all. Perfection not needed :) Here are a few more unlikely couples that have captured my heart.

The movie and book titled Silver Linings Playbook created a lot of buzz in the public. The author, Matthew Quick and screenplay adaptor and director David O. Russell, wrote an unexpected love story that moved me and millions of others. In the tale, Pat Solitano, a man with bipolar disorder, moves home with his parents after his release from a psychiatric hospital. He’s obsessed with winning back his estranged wife. In order to impress her, he joins Tiffany Maxwell, a recent widow who struggles with an addiction, in a plan that will also help Tiffany achieve her goal of dancing competitively. Despite the obstacles, these two, fragile souls, connect in a deeply moving, powerful way. I cried at the beautiful ending when each realized that though they might not be perfect, they were perfect together.

Another quirky couple I adore is from an older, smaller movie that is worth checking out: Benny and Joon. Johnny Depp stars in it (that alone is worth a viewing J) as an eccentric, illiterate young man named Sam who’s addicted to cinema and impersonates silent film comics such as Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin. Joon, an intelligent, schizophrenic young woman, lives with her protective older brother, Benny. When a bet is lost and Sam moves in with them, the positive difference he makes on Joon doesn’t escape Benny’s watchful eye. Joon, in turn, teaches Sam to read. For the first time, they no longer feel like outsiders because together, they’ve found acceptance and love.

Physical health issues can sometimes be an obstacle to love, yet that is far from the case in John Green’s incredible novel, The Fault in Our Stars. Like my Harlequin Heartwarming, Wish Me Tomorrow, the characters in this novel deal with cancer. Hazel is an avid reader and loner with Stage 4 Thyroid cancer stabilized by experimental treatment. When she meets Augustus, an Osteosarcoma survivor whose right leg has been amputated, she falls hard for his wit and self-confidence. At last, she’s lured out of her home to play video games, go to parks, and even travel to Amsterdam where Augustus uses his ‘Make-A-Wish’ to help her meet her favorite author. Though Hazel’s lungs don’t work without assistance, and Augustus can no longer play basketball (not that he cares) and is at risk for remission, together they are unstoppable. They don’t see the imperfections and neither do we. This couple is perfect together and ultimately that is all that matters in fiction and in life.

I cannot end this post without a quick nod to one of my favorite Disney movie franchises of all time: Shrek. Through the years I’d grown used to beautiful, wasp-waisted princesses falling for buff, handsome princes. Then Disney took an unexpected turn in their fairytale romance format and gave us a gruff, reclusive ogre named, Shrek. Far from good-looking or adored, he’d become an outcast for his fearsome appearance and reputation. Despite the loneliness, Shrek had grown used to his solitary life until events made his path cross with a seemingly flawless princess named Fiona. His feelings for her develop once he realizes that she isn’t perfect and is, in fact, an ogre like him. He quickly convinces her that the curse that transforms her into this creature at night is actually a blessing and the two, imperfect characters find perfect love with each other.

Who are some of your unlikely couples you fell in love with? I'd love to hear your favorites in the comments section below. Thanks so much and have a great weekend!

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Simple Things Make Me Smile - by Magdalena Scott

I was recently caught in the act of taking pictures of a parking lot wall. I’m sure the woman who saw me wondered why I would do such a thing, but I think it’s lovely. See how the ferns are growing between the stones? Notice the spot where someone patched the wall with brick?

People park in this lot all the time. Maybe lots of them notice the ferns, and smile at their tenacity. Maybe they wonder why the brick patch was necessary, and who did it.

But you know what? I doubt it.

The people who park in this lot are on their way to work, likely thinking about what happened at home this morning, or a news story they heard on the car radio. Perhaps as soon as they’re out of the car, they’re looking at their phones as they walk toward the building where their workday will be spent.

Hours later when they return to the lot, they may be planning the dinner menu, making a mental grocery list, wondering how to get everything accomplished during the precious evening hours.

The wall is there, though, just in case they have time to look up and notice—and smile. I think they might feel slightly better for it. I know I do.

What are some “simple things” that make you smile?


USA Today Bestselling Author Magdalena Scott writes contemporary sweet romance set in small towns. Visit her website:

Want to keep up with news from Sweet Romance Reads authors? Sign up for the SRR newsletter today. Like chatting about Sweet Romance? Join the authors of Sweet Romance Reads in our cyber Café!

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Spring Has Sprung—and So Have the Dandelions

They’re baaaack. Here in Ontario, since the province banned the use of cosmetic pesticides six years ago, dandelions have taken over. Public green spaces are a sea of yellow.

As much as we adults hate dandelions, kids see them as pretty flowers that grownups are happy to let them pick. My girls love collecting dandelions to make bouquets. I’ve had many a vase full of withering yellow blooms adorning my kitchen table. When the plants go to seed, the girls delight in blowing the fluff into the air and making a wish.

Since pesticides are harmful to wildlife as well as humans, I’m happy it’s been outlawed here. I sometimes use a hand weeder on my lawn, but usually we just mow the offenders down. It’s useless to try eradicating the dandelions. The plants look ugly once they go to seed, but are they really so bad?

Did you know that dandelions are actually good for your lawn? Their wide-spreading roots loosen hard-packed soil, aerate the earth and help reduce erosion. The taproot brings up nutrients such as calcium from deep in the soil, benefiting shallower-rooting plants. Dandelions attract pollinating insects and release ethylene gas, which helps fruit to ripen.
And did you know that dandelions have been used for food throughout history? The Victorian gentry ate dandelions in salads and sandwiches. The leaves contain nutrients such as vitamins A, C and K, calcium, potassium, iron and manganese. The flower petals are used to make dandelion wine and the roots can be used as a caffeine-free coffee.

Dandelions were also prized for their medicinal properties. They were known to the ancient Egyptians, Greeks and Romans, and have been used in traditional Chinese medicine for over a thousand years. Dandelion tonics have been used to treat infections, bile and liver problems, and as a diuretic. To this day, they are used as a herbal remedy the world over.

Well, if we can’t beat them, we might as well appreciate the benefits dandelions have to offer.

Want to keep up with news from Sweet Romance Reads authors? Sign up for the SRR newsletter today. Like chatting about Sweet Romance? Join the authors of Sweet Romance Reads in our cyber Café!

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

This or That? by Ginny Baird

I've just begun a book blog tour, which is a new experience for me and a lot of fun. Over the next two weeks, information about my June 9th release, My Best Friend’s Bride, will appear on more than forty blogs, and I’ll be dropping by each of the sites to visit. In preparation for the tour, I was asked by the tour coordinator to provide various types of information like a book blurb, excerpt, and character bios. I was also asked to submit “Top Ten” lists and answer author interview questions. Some of the questions in the batch were of the “This or That?” variety.

If you’ve ever attended an online party, you’ve probably played the game. Which do you prefer? Sunrise or Sunset? Coffee or Tea? Dogs or Cats? “This or That?” As I jotted down my answers, I started thinking about what makes the concept of choosing between two well-defined entities so appealing. I believe the neatness factor plays a big part. While we all know the world is not cleanly divided into black and white categories, sometimes it’s refreshing to have our choices narrowed down to a basic “This or That?”

“Would you like fries or potato chips with that order?” probably doesn’t require much thought.  However, when a server points to a list and asks me to “pick a side” I often have to ask her to return in a few minutes, so I can mull over the options. Decision-making is so much easier with an obvious either/or. If only life was that straightforward. But in truth we know it’s not. Because we’re humans involved in complex relationships and with demanding jobs, the daily choices we face are rarely as simple as “Chocolate or Vanilla?” Still, we all enjoy thinking about those idle alternatives once in a while. It’s fun to play with possibilities, and when those possibilities are limited, making a selection is as easy as choosing one thing over another.

Here are a few “This or Thats” for you to try!

Please post your answers in the comments section.

Romance Novel This or That?

1. Contemporary or Historical?

2. Cowboy or Doctor?

3. Christmas or Summer Romance?

4. eBook or Paperback?

5. Single Dad or Bachelor?

6. Small Town or Urban?

7. Tall, Dark and Handsome or Brawny and Blond?

8. Fairytale or Realistic?

9. Knight or Lord?

10. Kilt or Tuxedo?
* ~ * ~ *

New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author Ginny Baird writes contemporary romance novels and novellas. Her newest sweet romance release is My Best Friend’s Bride, available for Pre-Order at Amazon, iBooks and Kobo. Coming soon to NOOK! Want to keep up with news from Sweet Romance Reads authors? Sign up for the SRR newsletter today. Like chatting about Sweet Romance? Join the authors of Sweet Romance Reads in our cyber Café!

Sunday, May 24, 2015

How Time Flies by Helen Scott Taylor

It feels like only yesterday I held my baby girl in my arms, then again it also feels like a lifetime ago. Time has a strange way of confusing me like this, flying by while standing still in my memories.

When cleaning the other day, I found this photo of me holding my daughter--it had fallen behind a cupboard, probably years ago. (A sad indication of how often I clean behind my cupboards!)

How I adored her, and still do. I thought she was the most beautiful baby girl in the world and imagined her perfect life to come: she would do well at school, get a good job and marry a handsome, wonderful man.

She was a well behaved baby, sleeping through the night at only six weeks old, never making a fuss. Little did I know that life is simple when they are tiny and it gets a whole lot more complicated as they grow up and the plans go off the rails.

We’ve weathered all kinds of issues over the years and my heart has broken for her more than once when she’s had to overcome problems, especially a marriage to a controlling, psychologically abusive man.

I’ve never been more proud of her than the day she said enough is enough and took back her power and walked out on him, knowing full well he would make her life as difficult as possible. I helped her through her acrimonious divorce and I’m over the moon now she has finally gone to college to finish her education, something he stopped her from doing.

It took her a number of years but she has recovered her confidence, taken back her life and is forging ahead. She is studying art and the beautiful, big colorful canvasses she paints are a joy to behold.

I rarely talk about family issues, especially when there are troubles, but right now I am happy for her and optimistic for the future, more so than ever before.

I was amazingly naïve before my daughter married. I’d never come across a man who treated his wife/partner that way. This experience has influenced how I look at the world and worked its way into my fiction. Has anything, good or bad, happened in your life that had a huge, life-changing impact on you?

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 has one of her Army Doctor stories in the Ten Brides for Ten Hot Guys boxed set. (This set includes both sweet and steamy books.) Find Helen on FaceBook and Twitter, or visit her website.

Want to keep up with news from Sweet Romance Reads authors? Sign up for the SRR newsletter today. Like chatting about Sweet Romance? Join the authors of Sweet Romance Reads in our cyber Café!

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Memorial Day in the United States by Ciara Knight

I had planned my debut post at Sweet Romance several weeks ago, which was going to show behind the scenes of Scrapbooking Mania at Romantic Times 2016, but something happened that changed my mind. My friend’s son returned home for a visit last week, and it called my heart to write a post about this special holiday in the United States.

For those of you that do not reside in the United States, Memorial Day is the last Monday of May, and is a day in which those who died in active military service are remembered.

I grew up hearing about my parent’s romance during the Vietnam War, and how my mother’s letters to him helped my dad through the war. Those who did not make it home usually had that one note from their sweetheart tucked safely in their pockets.

There have been countless stories penned over the years that show us the great sacrifices our men and women have made to defend their people. Not just in America, but all over the world. Epic tales of war torn countries with battling clans, forbidden love between cultures or houses, love after war, aftermath of war, the ability to love again, and so many more.

Here is a top ten list of my favorite stories with an epic romance during war times:

1)     Where Treetops Glisten: Three Stories of Heartwarming Courage and Christmas Romance During World War II
2)     The Photograph by Virginia Ellis
3)     A Voice in the Wind by Francine Rivers
4)     Hunger Games
5)     Outlander
6)     Memoirs of a Geisha Girl
7)     The Bronze Horseman by Paullina Simmons
8)     War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
9)     Les Meserables
10)  The End of the Affair by Graham Greene

***Warning, not all of these are ‘sweet romance’.

After speaking with my friend’s son, I realized that the letters from loved ones still carry our soldiers through the darkness. I even discovered that these tough men and women love to read romantic tales while hunkered somewhere never knowing what is waiting across the sand or sea.

Leave a comment for your chance to win an e-copy of my upcoming release, 4th of July in Sweetwater County. This will close at 5:00PM EST on Monday, May 25th. I'll post the winner by 8:00AM on Tuesday, May 26th. Enjoy this holiday with your family and friends!

To all our men and women overseas, and to those lost veterans’ who’ve served our country, I dedicate this post to you.

Future posts from Ciara:

June 23rd - Behind the Scenes Part I: A look at planning Scrapbooking Mania for Romantic Times Convention
July 23rd - Behind the Scenes Part II: A look at planning Love Our Readers Luncheon.

Ciara Knight writes with a ‘Little Edge and a Lot of Heart’ with her contemporary and paranormal romance books. Her most recent #1 Amazon bestselling series, Sweetwater County, has topped the charts and received acclaimed reviews. Her international best-seller, Pendulum scored 4 stars from RT Book Reviews, accolades from InD’Tale Magazine and Night Owl Top Pick. Her young adult paranormal series, Battle for Souls, received 5 stars from Paranormal Romance Guild and Night Owl’s Top Pick, among other praises.

Preorder available now at Amazon.

Available at all online retailers May 25th.