Thursday, March 30, 2023

Free Books from Laura Scott


Good morning from Laura Scott! I'm dropping in a little late, things have been busy as I was traveling over the past ten days. We also had 8 inches of snow fall recently, Mother Nature forgot it was supposed to be Spring!

I'm here celebrating my free book A Soldier's Promise. This is the second book in my Small Town Christian Romance series (the first book Healing Her Heart is also free!). Just think, I'm offering two great reads for you to enjoy. And the links are listed below so you can read them from any platform.

Healing Her Heart - Free!

Dr. Gabe Allen has a rule about dating colleagues but when he meets ER nurse Larissa Brockman he's tempted to break his vow. Larissa's faith draws him back to the church he'd left behind, but when their lives are on the line Gabe discovers that Larissa is the one who needs to learn about the true meaning of forgiveness. And only Gabe can help heal her heart.

A Soldier's Promise Free!

Can he trust her with his secret?

Reeling from a broken engagement that resulted in a small town scandal, ER nurse Julie Crain just wants to be left alone over the Fourth of July Holiday weekend. But when single dad, Derek Ryerson and his young daughter need a place to stay to recuperate from a car accident, Julie can't ignore their plight. She knows she needs to protect her heart, but little Lexi needs love and support.

Derek is the strong silent type, insisting on helping despite being injured. He seems too good to be true, and maybe he is. Because she soon realizes the former soldier has a secret that could tear them apart forever.

Next month I'll try to be more organized. Meanwhile, enjoy and Happy Easter!
Laura Scott

Tuesday, March 28, 2023

A Typical Writing Day for Cheryl St.John

I write at my desk. Period. So many writers I know work from the sofa or their deck in nice weather, but words and ideas come to me while I have my butt in the chair, my fingers on the keyboard. A lot of writers work from a coffee shop, but I can't focus with distractions. I need quiet while I work, so it's an amazing perk that 4 walls of bookcases insulate my office.

In the morning I get dressed and have a protein shake, then I take a cup of coffee or tea to my office. I read over the previous day's pages and edit them, then I move on. Some days I work non-stop all day long. Other days I have appointments or company, so the writing day is chopped up. When I'm on a roll, I can write for days and weeks on end until the story is finished.
But occasionally, between books, I take a break and refill the well with other projects, friends and family, movies or day trips. After 25 years I chose to not write for a publishing house with deadlines and editorial conflicts, and I now write for me. I still love the joy of creating story worlds, and I always will. Habits change as we evolve as writers and people.
When I clean my desk and clear up my files, it's time for a new book. That's part of the routine too.

My most recent book is CHASING DREAMS.

A tormented man driven to seclusion… A relentless beauty who won’t take no for an answer…

Shaine Richards’ sister and nephew were in a car that went off a bridge into the river. Maggie’s body was the only one recovered. Searchers said Jack could have been snagged below or washed up anywhere. But when Shaine dreams of the toddler, he’s alive. Therapists advise her to let go. She’s tried to let go. But the dreams won’t let her.

Shaine knows Jack is alive and something terrible is about to happen to him. The only man who can help her doesn’t want to be found—or involved.
Austin Allen is a man who knows and sees more than most people will in their entire lifetimes. His mountain sanctuary is key to self-preservation. His gift holds the answers she needs. She must convince the enigmatic man to help before it’s too late.

But there’s another dark and mystifying complication... Shaine has dreamed of Austin as well.
#amreading @amreadingromance #readingcommunity

Sunday, March 26, 2023

Spring Brought a Beautiful Surprise

Spring has had a hard time coming to the U.S this year, even here in NorCal. While we haven't had the snow and ice that have plagued much of the country, we're the first to receive the atmospheric rivers that come pouring in off the Pacific, and we can face the brunt of winter's fury. 

This year the very welcome rain has come with damaging winds, frightening floods, and devastating landslides. While our hearts go out to those who've suffered, we're in a sweet spot where none of these problems has had a direct effect. So far, we have the benefit of the water without the heavier costs, and we are deeply grateful. We're also pleased to see the official end of winter.

Then on the first day of spring, our family welcomed the greatest kind of blessing there is. Samuel Joseph was born March 21. Welcome, Sam!

There's nothing like a new baby to renew hope, instill peace, and lift spirits. Of course, we (the happy grandparents) get to watch and love from afar while the mom and dad do the hard work of getting him here and adjusted. We appreciate them too, and send them our congratulations and our love.

For those of you who haven't yet had the opportunity to be grandparents (real or virtual), let me assure you it's the best! Those of you who have grandbabies of your own already know. May spring bring you rich blessings as well.

Susan Aylworth is the author of 25 published novels including small-town sweet romance series set in and near the Navajo Nation and in the Sierra Nevada foothills. as well as five books in the Christmas Town series. Susan lives in northern California with Roger, her writer husband of 52 years. Contact her at her website:, @SusanAylworth, or via Susan loves travel, music, her large and scattered family, and perfect raspberry jam. She also loves hearing from readers, especially if you'd like to have your name in a future book. Beware: You may be the plucky sidekick or jealous rival!

Saturday, March 25, 2023

Check Out the Sweet Romance Reads New Releases for March


Laura Scott

Bodyguard for the Assistant District Attorney!

Deputy Kyleigh Finnegan has always admired ADA Baxter Scala’s determination to bring criminals to justice. But his upcoming trial proves to be the most dangerous one yet. When gunfire rings out, missing him by inches, Kyleigh is assigned to protect him. Yet her goal to keep him alive is more difficult than she could have imagined.


Bax refuses to let anything, even a few attempts on his life get in the way of sending a famous musician to jail for murder. Having beautiful Kyleigh Finnegan as his protection detail, though was not part of the plan. She’s skilled and smart, but having a woman throwing herself in the line of fire for him, doesn’t sit well. He should be protecting her, not the other way around. Yet the more time he spends with Kyleigh, the more he realizes he doesn’t want to let her go. If he can survive long enough to bring a murderer to justice, his next task will be to convince her to stick close to his side, permanently. 


Laura Scott

A K-9 Unit has a child to protect…and a murderer to catch.

A double murder and an attempted kidnapping of a baby in a national park have Officer Danica Hayes and her K-9 partner on high alert. She’ll have to protect Luke Stark and his nine-month-old son while tracking the person who murdered his sister. Danica and Luke face a battle for their lives to keep from becoming the next victims.

Lyn Cote

Can a shy girl find her moxie and her hometown hero? Or “let” him win her?

Food blogger and columnist Hannah, recently “unengaged,” strikes out to help her parents get settled in their new house and show them the new forceful Hannah. When she arrives, what meets her eye— just a foundation! What’s wrong with the builder—Guthrie?

How can Hannah achieve her hopes of helping her parents get settled well before snow flies. As she pursues her goal which involves the hardworking good-guy Guthrie, she and Guthrie both battle any temptation to love again. What will it take to bring these two stubborn hearts to a second chance at love?

Don’t miss this heartwarming story of love, faith and the power of forgiveness by a USA Today Bestselling author of over fifty romances.


Friday, March 24, 2023

Happy Belated National Puppy Day by Pat Simmons

First, I don't pay too much attention to national days. When National Puppy Day caught my attention, I paused. I have a son and daughter, but neither is married. Therefore, I don't have any grandchildren. I do, however, have Dr. Avery Bennett Simmons. My daughter's thirteen-pound golden doddle.

He's almost two years old and no longer considered a puppy. But this little fur ball is so cute.

When I visited my daughter recently, Dr. Avery became my shadow. I didn't know he could jump so high, but he has perfected the art of lap hopping. If I were to meet my writing deadline, then I had to learn how to write with him in my lap. Lol.

He rested well while I struggled to manage my keyboard.

Even though I don't have any grandchildren, I can see myself sending him back to Texas after a summer stay. Between the tummy scratches, potty breaks, and playing catch, I have more respect for my sets of grandparents who endured my sister, brother, and my antics.

Enjoy photos of my first granddog or puppy if I go by size. Every picture tells a story from his arrival with my daughter a month late for Christmas--blame the airlines--to him hanging out with grandpa.

The next set is Dr. Avery in my office. The last picture shows him sleeping on my daughter's knees on the sofa. He gets some good sleep.

He graced the cover of my 2022 Christmas short story because I am an equal opportunity author mom since my son and daughter both have been on my book covers.


Have you checked out my latest release? Download your copy of DAY NOT PROMISED today.

Pat Simmons is a multi-published Christian romance author of forty-plus titles. She is a self-proclaimed genealogy sleuth passionate about researching her ancestors, then casting them in starring roles in her novels. She is a five-time recipient of the RSJ Emma Rodgers Award for Best Inspirational Romance and the 2022 Leslie Esdaile Trailblazer Award recipient. Christmas Dinner was also an Emma Award winner for Book of the Year. Christmas Dinner and Here for You were featured in Woman’s World Magazine.

As a Christian, Pat describes the evidence of the gift of the Holy Ghost as a life-altering experience. She has converted her sofa-strapped sports fanatical husband into an amateur travel agent, untrained bodyguard, and GPS-guided chauffeur. They have a son and a daughter. Pat holds a B.S. in mass communications from Emerson College in Boston, Massachusetts, and has worked in radio, television, and print media for over twenty years. Visit her at

Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Free Christian Contemporary Romance novella from Camy Tang

My novella, The Wedding Kimono, was released first as one of twelve novellas in the Christian Contemporary Romance anthology, Save the Date, but last year, I released it as an individual e-book exclusively for my newsletter subscribers.

Here’s the back cover description:

Raised by a single father with two older brothers, tomboy Lila has often been mistaken for a young man because of her androgynous looks. However, she's very popular with the women at the massage therapy spa where she works, who love her older-sister vibe. She feels this is where God wants her to be, helping women feel beautiful and good about themselves. Secretly she's attracted to her boss at work, spa manager Fred, but she holds no hope since there's nothing feminine about her, and she's four inches taller than he is.

Then, when cleaning out the attic for her father, she finds her maternal grandmother's gorgeous antique wedding kimono. Being half-Japanese and half-Chinese, she recognizes some Chinese character calligraphy hidden amongst the hand-sewn embroidery that she can't quite read.

A chance mention of the kimono and calligraphy results in Fred offering his help, since he knows a Japanese history professor at the University of Hawaii. But then Lila notices some strangers following her, and their interest in her appears to be connected to the kimono.

Lila and Fred must work together to uncover the mystery of the wedding kimono. Can her grandmother's legacy help her see her inner beauty and open herself up to love?

Join my email newsletter to get this ebook free!

Below, for your reading pleasure, is an excerpt of The Wedding Kimono:

The Wedding Kimono

A novella
Prequel to the Warubozu Spa Chronicles

Camy Tang

For you formed my inward parts;
you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
my soul knows it very well.
—Psalm 139:13–14

Chapter One

Waialua, Hawaii. August, Monday

“You would be such a handsome boy.”

At her client’s words, massage therapist Lila Wong straightened from tossing the used towels into the hamper in her massage room and regarded Mrs. Nanase with her head tilted to the side. “But I’m a girl, Mrs. Nanase.”

The older woman studied her with a smile as she put on a terry robe, so Lila knew she didn’t mean anything cruel by her words, but the familiar phrase still pricked her.

“I know that,” Mrs. Nanase said, “but your face is so …”

Lila stifled a sigh. “Masculine?” Did her voice betray her resignation?

“No, not masculine.” Mrs. Nanase was tying the belt on her robe, so she didn’t notice Lila’s expression. “But if you were a boy, you’d be like one of those Korean pop stars. They’re so cute!”

Wasn’t that the same thing as saying she looked masculine?!

Lila opened the door to her massage room and stood aside so the older woman could step out. She normally didn’t mind chatting with Mrs. Nanase, but today Lila had a question to ask the spa receptionist, Sakura, before her next client arrived, so she wanted to settle her in the client lounge area as quickly as possible. She followed her into the hallway and tried to laugh it off. “I already know my looks are completely androgynous.”

“Not exactly androgynous …” Mrs. Nanase paused in the hallway.

The door to the adjacent massage room opened, and another client, Amber, entered the hallway just as Mrs. Nanase continued.

“But if you were a boy, you’d have tons of girlfriends!” Mrs. Nanase beamed at her.

Lila sighed.

Mrs. Nanase noticed the other client. “Oh, hello, Amber. I was just telling Lila that she could be a model. Don’t you think so?”

Lila felt her face flush, because according to Amber’s massage therapist, the woman actually had been a model in her teens. Even now, in her early twenties, she still looked five years younger.

However, Amber very kindly smiled at her and Mrs. Nanase. “Yes, Lila is tall and slender like a model.”

“See, Lila?” Mrs. Nanase’s expression held a hint of triumph, although Lila wasn’t certain what she was triumphant about. But then she sighed as she gave Lila a once-over. “It’s just too bad you don’t jiggle in all the right places.”

“Mrs. Nanase!”

Amber rescued her. “Mrs. Nanase, let’s go out to the back veranda. It’s such a nice day today.”

“That’s a great idea.”

The two clients headed down the hallway. As Lila passed the open doorway of the next massage room, she spotted her coworker, Harper, who was Amber’s massage therapist.

“Yeah,” Harper said, feigning confusion, “why would anyone think you’re masculine?”

Lila punched him in the gut.

“Oof!” He doubled over. “Be careful! I’m delicate!”

“You’re hardly delicate.” Harper was rather slender, but he was also tall, only a couple inches below six feet.

“How the heck do you punch so hard?” He rubbed his stomach.

Lila flexed her bicep. “Two older brothers who showed no mercy.”

“That’s not something to be proud of!”

Lila put up her fists. “Wanna go? I could take you.”

Harper glared at her. “You’re so weird.” He gestured down the hallway. “Go take care of your client. And take care of mine while you’re at it.”

She began walking backward down the hallway. “What’ll you give me if I do?”

“I’m not going to give you anything! You’re supposed to do it out of the goodness of your heart for your senior coworker!”

The hallway was a long one that ran down the length of the building, but midway were two open doorways on the right and left. Amber and Mrs. Nanase turned right to head toward the back porch area. The large open doorway on the left led to the front reception area, and Lila peeked in. A cute, petite girl looked a little lonely sitting at the long receptionist desk, which was made for two or three people, but the spa was shorthanded at the moment. Sakura was on the phone with someone, so Lila would have to wait to speak to her.

Lila hurried to the outdoor client lounge area at the back of the building. The Warubozu Spa operated out of what used to be a large, rather pretentious plantation manor, so the wide veranda looked out onto a beautiful hibiscus garden, laid out in geometric walks and lush with different colored flowers. A cool trade wind breezed in under the eaves, smelling of the ocean several miles away.

Mrs. Nanase and Amber had settled into padded lounge chairs. “Do you want your usual, Mrs. Nanase?” Lila asked.

“Yes, please. It’s so sweet of you to remember.”

“What would you like, Amber?”

“What are you getting, Mrs. Nanase?”

“Lilikoi iced tea. The one served here is so good!”

“Oh? What brand is it?” Amber asked Lila.

“Sorry, can’t tell you. It’s a closely guarded secret.”

“It is?” Amber’s finely sculpted eyebrows rose.

“Yup,” Lila said. “The owner of the spa told me she’d pluck out my eyes and feed them to the mynah birds if I told anyone.”

The two women stared at Lila. “That … seems a bit extreme,” Mrs. Nanase said weakly.

“I know, right? She had a really mean look in her eyes when she said it, too.”

After a pause, Amber said, “I’ll have that, too, Lila. Thanks.”

Lila brought out two glasses and set them on the small table between the ladies’ chairs. She was just wondering if Sakura was off the phone yet when she noticed that Mrs. Nanase was rubbing her neck. “Are you all right? I didn’t knead it too hard, did I?”

“Oh, no, it’s fine. You worked on my neck a little more than usual today.”

“It was like a Gordian knot! Is your neighbor still causing you stress?”

Mrs. Nanase vented about her neighbor who played loud music very late at night, despite the fact that multiple neighbors had called the police to complain.

“I’ll keep praying for a resolution,” Lila said.

“You’re so open and friendly with your clients, Lila,” Amber said.

“Is Harper not open and friendly? I’ll beat him up if he’s being cranky to you.”

“He’s friendly, but … you’re so concerned about Mrs. Nanase. It’s obvious you care about her.” Amber smiled a bit wistfully.

Mrs. Nanase said to Amber, “Lila is a wonderful massage therapist. She’s kind and thoughtful.” She patted Lila’s hand where it hung at her side, gazing up at her face. “And she would be such a handsome boy.”

Lila resisted the urge to beat her head against the wall.

“Don’t say that, Mrs. Nanase,” a deep voice intruded.

The spa manager, Fred Kwan, walked up to them. His short brown hair, bleached from the sun because he spent a lot of time playing outdoor basketball, looked almost blond in the afternoon light. He looked professional and clean-cut in his cotton button-down shirt. “It makes it sound like Lila has no attraction except as a man, and that isn’t fair to her.” He chided the older woman with a smile, which took away any sting from his words.

To Lila, his defense of her was a soft, warm spot in her chest.

Mrs. Nanase looked stricken. “Oh, I’m sorry, Lila.”

“Don’t worry, Mrs. Nanase. I know you didn’t mean any offense.”

“Lila, you have another client coming soon,” Fred reminded her. He wore his I’m being extra polite in front of a guest but if we were alone I’d be yelling at you smile.

“Oh, that’s right. I’ll see you later, Mrs. Nanase, Amber.” Lila followed Fred back inside. “Is my next client here already?”

“Not yet. I just figured it was about time for you to be done chatting with Mrs. Nanase.”

“How did you know? Do you know my schedule?” After all, Fred was the spa manager. He wouldn’t memorize everybody’s schedule. Was it just her? She suddenly felt a bit like a dog excitedly wagging her tail and cocking her ears at him.

He kept walking toward the front reception area. “No, you’re just predictable.”

Ears and tail drooping, she followed him.

He noticed her sad face and said, “Stop looking like I kicked a puppy! You’re going to give me a bad reputation.”

“Oh, don’t worry. It won’t affect your reputation at all.” Because he already had a reputation as a demon spa manager.

He glared at her. “You just thought something disrespectful, didn’t you?”

“I didn—I was joking! Joking!”

“When you say you’re joking, it means it was really bad.” He glanced at her, and his frown deepened. “Are you okay?”

“Huh?” That was totally out of left field.

“You look …” He cleared his throat. “Did Mrs. Nanase … talk about something?”

Lila stared blankly at him.

“You two always talk a lot.” He sounded awkward, for some reason.

The two of them had entered the reception area in the front of the building. Sakura was now off the phone, and she glanced at them as they passed through the open doorway.

“Mrs. Nanase’s not that talkative,” Lila said.

“But you are.”

“Sorry.” She bit her lip.

“I’m not complaining about it.” Fred stopped and turned to her, his hands resting lightly on his hips. “I know I give you grief, but it’s one of the reasons the clients love you. You talk with them and remember things about their lives, and it makes them feel appreciated.”

Whoa, she was getting whiplash. How had his lecture turned into a compliment?

“And … um …” He seemed to be glaring at somewhere near the top of her head.

“Why are you staring at me like I have a third eye growing out of my forehead?” Lila nudged closer to the reception desk and farther from him and his weird looks.

“I am not staring at you,” Fred groused, although strangely, the tips of his ears were pink. “But you might have a pimple on your forehead.”

“What? No way.” Lila opened one of the drawers of the reception desk to rummage for the small hand mirror Sakura always kept there.

“You don’t have a pimple. Fred, stop bullying her,” Sakura said, scowling at him.

“What is wrong with you?” Lila demanded.

“Nothing’s wrong with me. Something’s wrong with you.”

Lila and Sakura stared at him, then looked at each other in puzzlement at the exact same time. “What?” she asked him.

Her boss, who always looked confident and organized, was suddenly self-conscious and a little agitated. “You looked … I don’t know, upset?”

“Upset? I’m not …” She stared off at the far corner of the ceiling, her mouth open as she replayed her conversation with Mrs. Nanase. “Oh. Well …”

“See? It wasn’t just me being weird,” Fred said defensively.

“It doesn’t mean something’s wrong with me,” Lila retorted.

“Well …” Fred rubbed the back of his neck, then started easing away from her. “I don’t know what’s wrong, but go … talk to Sakura or somebody about it.” He sounded irritated rather than concerned. Then he hastily left the reception area.

“Awww, he’s so cute when he can’t communicate.” Sakura set her elbows on the desk and rested her chin on her folded hands.

“He’s not cute, he’s annoying.”

“But he was right, wasn’t he? Something upset you?” It was as if the young woman saw more than what Lila said.

She didn’t want to rehash what Mrs. Nanase said, but she also couldn’t blow off Sakura’s question. She was a good friend and genuinely cared for Lila.

“It wasn’t anything new.” Lila tried for a nonchalant tone of voice. “Mrs. Nanase said I would be a beautiful boy.”

“You’re having a baby?” She innocently blinked.

“Brat! Don’t start wild rumors.”

Sakura snickered. “Are you feeling unfeminine?”

She could have answered flippantly, but she leaned against the reception desk and thought about the question. “I don’t think I’ve ever felt feminine.”

Sakura tilted her head, making the ribbon bows she used to hold back the sides of her hair dangle. “What do you mean?”

“You know … with guys, they treat me like a guy friend. I don’t think they even register I’m female.”

She rolled her eyes. “It’s because you wear stuff like that.” She nodded disdainfully toward Lila’s jeans—which were actually men’s jeans—and the polo shirt that hung like a rectangle on her board-shaped torso.

“I admit, I’m not super comfortable with dresses, but that’s only because I was traumatized. When I had my five-year birthday party, my male cousins spent the entire time flipping up my skirt. So I refused to wear them anymore.”

“You haven’t worn a dress since you were five?”

“I did wear one once in high school to a dance,” Lila said, “but a boy thought I was another boy wearing a dress.”

“Urk,” Sakura said.

The two of them shared a moment of silent commiseration.

“How about a new hairstyle and makeup? Makeover!” Sakura shot to her feet with her hand up in the air, presumably to volunteer for the job.

Lila fingered her pixie-cut hairstyle, which suited her fine dark hair. “I grew my hair out in college … but people kept thinking I was a man with long hair.”


They shared another moment of silent commiseration.

Somehow, seeing Sakura so upset for her made Lila feel better. “It’s okaaaaay. I’ve long since learned to accept this is who I am. I can’t change my face, so might as well get used to it, right?”

Sakura’s gaze was comforting and warm, like a cup of hot tea. “I’m not saying every girl should be frilly and feminine, but … you’ve never wanted to be anything else?”

Lila had asked herself that, but never came up with an answer that satisfied her. “It’s not a bad thing. It usually doesn’t bother me much. But today, I think I’m just a little sensitive to the subject because of what happened yesterday.”

“What happened?”

Lila brought out her phone and showed the photo to Sakura. “I was helping Dad clear out his closet, and we found this.”

“Whoa!” Sakura grabbed the phone and stuck her face close to the screen.

The wedding kimono had been carefully folded and put away in a plastic bin. Lila had been stunned to lift it from the folds of yellowed tissue paper and hold it up to the sunlight streaming through the window, making the red silk shimmer like liquid rubies. It was lavishly embroidered with a garden of flowers in amazing detail. Some of the flower designs were rather unusual, but it was still obvious what they were—peonies, mums, irises, wisteria. In the background were scrolling designs that wove between the outlines of cranes and folded fans.

“Did this belong to your mom?” Sakura asked.

Lila nodded. “It originally belonged to my grandmother, who got it from her mom. Dad said my great-grandmother embroidered it back in the 1930s. Her name is sewn in kanji on the inside lining near the bottom.”

“Wow!” Sakura said. “It’s so beautiful!”

“You’re taking Japanese classes, right? Don’t you think the scrolly designs in the background look like kanji characters?” This was the question she’d wanted to ask Sakura, who was attending Waialua Community College.

Sakura squinted at it. “It does look like kanji, but I can’t read it.”

“Why not?”

“I think it’s calligraphy, which is super hard to read. I’m only in first-year Japanese class.”

“Oh.” Lila sighed. “It didn’t even occur to me that there would be different ways of writing Japanese that a student couldn’t read.”

“I thought you already know Japanese and Chinese.”

“I only speak them both, I can’t read either of them.”

“You didn’t take one of them in high school or college?”

“I took Korean as my foreign language.”

Sakura looked perplexed. “But you don’t have a drop of Korean blood.”

“Dad was getting Korean tourists at our hotel, so he told me to take it.”

“Ah.” Sakura had already met Lila’s father. She understood his high standards for his kids, who were required to help with the family hotel in Haleiwa. “Oh, I know who you can ask. One of the guys Fred plays basketball with is a Japanese history professor at UH. A history professor would definitely know how to read calligraphy.”

Lila glanced in the direction he’d left. “I’ll have to wait until he’s less irritated with me before I ask him. He’s in a bizarre mood today.”

Sakura pursed her lips. “I think he’s being unusually nice to you.”

“What world are you living in?”

“He was worried about you.”

“He has a strange way of showing it. He’s much more gentle with any other female employee in the spa. Do you think he doesn’t see me as a woman?”

“What are you talking about? Of course he sees you as a woman.” Sakura’s eyes suddenly widened, and she leaned forward, staring at Lila.

Lila leaned away from her. “What is it?” she asked uneasily.

“Do you like Fred?”

“Urk.” Her heart felt like it stopped, painfully, for a moment. She’d thought she’d been doing really well because she’d kept it from Sakura, one of the most observant of all her coworkers.

Lila covered her reaction by clearing her throat. “Of course not. I just respect him. Even if I do things that annoy him, he’s always considerate and willing to help me out when I need it. He’s a dependable kind of guy.”

Sakura’s eyes narrowed. “Mmhm. You’re talking an awful lot about a guy you don’t have feelings for.”

“Of course I have feelings for him—of respect. He’s a good boss. He’s really great.” Ugh, she was running off at the mouth again. She really couldn’t shut up when she was nervous.

She was rescued (Praise God! Hallelujah!) when the door opened and her next client arrived.

She said hurriedly to Sakura, “Well, thanks, I’ll ask Fred.” She turned an overly bright smile to her longtime client. “Hi, Jennifer! How are you doing? How’s the cosplay going? Did you make anything new?”

Lila walked back to her massage room with Jennifer but felt Sakura’s eyes boring into her back.

Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Weather as Story Settings by Janice Lynn

 Hi. I hope y'all are having a fabulous spring so far. I'm in Tennessee and our started out cold, but it's supposed to warm up later this week. With a temperature range of in the 20s to the 80s for the week, it's no wonder the weather is on my mind. It definitely has been as I found myself thinking about how weather is an intricate part of settings in some books/stories/movies and thinking bout my own books and how I've used weather. 

I've read stories that the weather was the main setting such as with snowstorms or hurricanes, etc, but I've never written one that I'd say centered around weather. I have written scenes that centered around weather changes, however, and those can be fun or not so fun, depending on what that weather is doing. For my stories, weather changes are mainly snow scenes in my Christmas books and how that weather impacts what the characters are doing/going to do. Changing the weather is a fun tool to provide new surroundings for characters or to see how they respond to Mother Nature. I do have a scene in Wrapped Up in Love where I use the wind to draw the characters together and it was such a fun scene to write. 

What about you? Can you think of stories you've read (or written) where weather played a crucial part of the setting? Any favorites? 

Happy spring and may your weather be royally fabulous!

And speaking of Royal--be sure to preorder Royal: Bite-sized sweet romance reads while it's still on special for just 99 cents. Amazon

Janice's Wrapped Up in Christmas books from Hallmark Publishing are available, also!

Buy Your Copy HERE

USA Today, Wall Street Journal, & Publishers Weekly Bestselling author JANICE LYNN lives in Tennessee with her Prince Charming and their princes and princesses, her vivid imagination, an adorable Maltese named Halo who's the true royalty of the house, and bunches of unnamed dust bunnies that moved in after Janice started her writing career. In addition to writing romance, Janice is a nurse practitioner, a quilter, an exercise queen, a military mama, and an avid supporter of the Quilts of Valor Foundation. Just kidding on the exercise queen.  The WRAPPED UP IN CHRISTMAS books are available at AMAZON Barnes & Noble WALMART & many other place where you buy books. WRAPPED UP IN CHRISTMAS LOVE is coming Christmas 2024.

Sunday, March 19, 2023

Date Ideas In Romance Novels by Merri Maywether

One of the fun things I like about writing romance is coming up with fun dates for my characters. I have a couple of guidelines. It has to be affordable. It has to be realistic. 

Sometimes the venues are fictional, like when Hannah and Keane from Home Sweet Home luge down a mountain.  I got that idea when I learned that people visit the Winter Olympics course in Calgary. It was a first date between two people who were vaguely familiar with each other.  They were already stepping out of their comfort zone, so they might as well have fun with it. 

In the book
Get Well Soon, Donovan and Becca kayak one day and play golf the next. Their friendly competition set the tone for banter. 

The outdoors also helped show they both knew there was a time and a place for that type of joking. 

One of my favorite ideas was the destination wedding. The characters wanted it to be a weekend of fun that wouldn’t break the bank. It started with dinner on the Charlie Russell train, and later that night, they caravaned to White Sulphur, where the friends relaxed in the hot springs. I did this so people could visit Montana for the weekend and have an itinerary of things to do.

Every year, I’ve tried to plan a friend's getaway on the Charlie Russell train.  Every year, I either visit the website too early in the year or after the tickets are sold out. It has turned into a running joke among our friends. But one day, it’ll happen, and when it does, I’ll share pictures with the blog. 

The fun in writing dates comes with knowing that something written on the page could happen in my life if I wanted it to.

Do you have an ideal date or adventure you’d like to share with a companion or a group of friends? Share in the comments below.

🌷 🌷 🌷

Three best friends. Three romantic stories. Three happily ever afters.

Becca and Donovan have a pact to marry at forty. Donovan proposes, but Becca needs convincing.

Kent helps Abigail adjust to life in Three Creeks, renewing his appreciation for small-town living.

Keane and Hannah become unlikely friends, but when Keane wants more, he must convince her to take a chance on him.

The Three Creeks, Montana series features relatable characters over 40 and explores the value of friendships in small-town life.

The Welcome to Three Creeks, Montana book collection is available for 99¢

Thursday, March 16, 2023

Wishing For Spring with Kimberly Rose Johnson

 March 20th is the official start of spring, though you wouldn't know it from looking out my office window. Snow still covers the ground and we've yet to reach spring time temperatures. 

I'm most looking forward to spring flowers. I plan to buy a metal trough and fill it will flowers. I'll have to keep it on my deck though, so the elk won't destroy it. I learned last summer that elk can be kind of vicious to my potted plants. 

If you're looking for a spring read, check out this sensational collection which includes three novels and four novellas. I have a novel and a novella in this collection. Available at Amazon.

Regardless of what spring looks like where you are, I hope you have a wonderful day.

Award winning author Kimberly Rose Johnson married her college sweetheart and lives in the Pacific Northwest USA. From a young child Kimberly has been an avid reader. That love of reading fostered a creative mind and led to her passion for writing. She especially loves romance and writes contemporary romance and romantic mystery and suspense with a heart.

Kimberly holds a degree in Behavioral Science from Northwest University in Kirkland, Washington, and is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers.

Tuesday, March 14, 2023

Happy Pi Day

Since my blog day falls on the 14th of each month, every year I get to blog on Pi Day. For you math people, PI is the ratio of the circumference to the diameter of a circle. For the rest of us it might be a good day to bake a pie or just eat pie. Here's a blueberry pie that I made one year on pie day.

In my book, A Baby to Call Ours, a marriage of convenience story, my heroine doesn't know how to cook, but she wants to make her new husband's favorite meal, which includes an apple pie. Here's an excerpt from the story. 

      Kelsey pulled her car into the parking lot of the local grocery store. She sat there for a few minutes and tried to settle her heart and mind. Jimmy’s support had gotten her through that horrible experience. He had made sure she was okay before he left for work every morning. That first morning after it had happened and she had spent the night in his arms, he’d offered not to go to work, but she wouldn’t let him jeopardize his job. She knew what a taskmaster Graham Cunningham was.
      Jimmy never talked about his work, but she had a feeling he was trying too hard to please his uncle. But what reason did Jimmy have to rush home at night other than his workshop? Certainly he didn’t rush home to see her. She wasn’t sure why that made her sad.
     Now everything was different. She had no baby on the way. Did Jimmy feel trapped in this marriage? She wanted to talk to him about it, but she didn’t know how to bring it up or what to say. He still needed a wife. A divorce wouldn’t look good to his uncle. She wished she knew what Jimmy wanted. She wished she knew what she wanted. Her emotions floundered in a sea of confusion.
Shaking away all the troubling thoughts, Kelsey got out of the car. Jimmy would be home tonight after another out-of-town trip. She wanted to buy some groceries to make him a special supper to celebrate his return. She had surprised herself at how much she enjoyed cooking. Besides fried chicken, Mary had told Kelsey that he loved steak and baked potatoes. That should be easy to fix, if she could figure out how to light the grill.
     Kelsey grabbed a shopping cart and pushed it into the store. She headed for the produce department in search of the perfect baking potatoes. After she selected two, one large and one small, she spied the apples. Did she dare try to make an apple pie, another one of Jimmy’s favorites? She would try.
     After she selected the apples, she moved on to the large display of cheeses. Jimmy loved cheese in the sandwiches he often took in his lunch, and she wanted to get him something special. While she perused the cheeses, she heard two women talking as they stood on the opposite side of the display. The mention of Jimmy’s name caught her attention.
     “Do you know who’s back in town?” asked one woman, not waiting for the other woman to respond. “Whitney Hamilton.”
     “She hasn’t been back in years, even to visit. Why is she back?”
     “Her dad’s health has really declined in the last six months. I think her mom begged her to come home to help.”
     “I wonder what she thinks about both Mitch and Jimmy being married.”
     “I don’t think she cares that much about Mitch. She always had her sights set on Jimmy. He was the one she was in love with, even when she dumped him for Mitch.” The woman sighed. “Jimmy Cunningham can sure turn some heads with those good looks of his.”
     “Yeah, but then he runs off and marries some young thing that he barely knew.”
      “Someone told me they thought she was pregnant, a one-night stand that resulted in a rush to get married.”
     “I heard they don’t even live together. Is that true?”
     “I don’t know, but it wouldn’t surprise me, if Whitney has her way, that Jimmy won’t be married for long. Those two couldn’t stay away from each other even when she was engaged to Mitch.”
      Kelsey wanted to run out of the store. If those women saw her, would they know who she was, or were they just talking about some nameless, faceless woman who was part of the small town’s rumor mill? She would forget the cheese, grab the steaks, and get out of this store.
     Hoping the women couldn’t see her, Kelsey kept her face turned away as she found her way to the meat department. Hurriedly she looked over the steaks and grabbed a couple of packages and threw them into her cart and barreled down the aisle toward the checkout lane.
     When Kelsey finally reached her car, she tossed the plastic bags containing her purchase on the passenger seat as she slid behind the wheel. While she drove home, she let those women’s comments replay in her mind. Had people guessed about her pregnancy? Well, now there was no baby.
Kelsey’s heart twisted, and the tears flowed. She wasn’t even sure she knew why she was crying. The loss of her baby. All the pretending. The thought of losing Jimmy. Maybe all of it pressed down on her spirit. What had happened to the cheerful college student she’d been last fall when she’d first met Jimmy?
     In the last three months she’d cried more than she’d probably cried in her whole life. Her mind replayed the conversation from the grocery store again and again as she drove into the garage. She kept hearing what the one woman had said. Those two couldn’t stay away from each other. Did Jimmy still love Whitney? Did she still love Jimmy and intend to go after him even though he was married, as those women had surmised?
     That conversation was all speculation and rumor, wasn’t it? That was what happened with gossip. It turned into half-truths. The women didn’t even have all the details right. She and Jimmy did live together now. At least they shared the same house. And beyond that, he was a good husband, sharing her secret and her pain.
     With an overwhelming sense of loss, Kelsey took the groceries into the kitchen and put the steaks in the refrigerator. She glanced at the clock on the microwave. Three thirty. Jimmy would be home from the airport around six. She had time to make the apple pie and figure out how to light the grill.
By five o’clock she had managed with great difficulty to bake a pie. It looked good as it sat cooling on the counter, but she could only hope it tasted good. She put the potatoes in the oven, then searched through the kitchen until she found one of those long lighters to use on the grill. She wandered out to the back deck and looked at the grill. She turned the knob and held the lighter on the place where she thought the flame would start. Nothing happened. She tried again. Still nothing.
     With a sigh, she went back into the house. The steaks would have to wait until Jimmy got home and turned on the grill. She made a salad. While she cut up the radishes from her garden, she thought about the time he’d teased her about planting radishes when she was a kid. Jimmy hadn’t done much teasing lately. He didn’t seem like the man she’d first married. Maybe he was unhappy being married to her. The only thing that kept them together was his stupid job, the job that kept him away from home too much.
     Even when he was home, he was either studying for work or some class or out in the shop. He avoided her at every turn. With the news she’d learned today, she wondered about that trip to Atlanta. Had he seen Whitney there? Is that why the woman had suddenly showed up in town?
     Even if Jimmy had seen Whitney, he wouldn’t cheat on his wife. He wasn’t that kind of man. But then he’d had no trouble messing around with Whitney when she’d been Mitch’s fiancée. No. No. Kelsey shook her head. That was not who Jimmy was anymore. But then why was he so unhappy?
Forcing herself not to think about those gossipy women, Kelsey headed for her room to change into something special for Jimmy. On the way, she went by the nursery. The door was closed, and it had been closed since Jimmy had put the crib and changing table in there. He had said it would stay closed until she decided to announce her pregnancy. Thankfully, she had never done so.
     Maybe it was time to face her loss in a concrete way.

What is your favorite kind of pie?

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 forty-plus years, and has two grown daughters. Connect with her on her Facebook page and sign up for her newsletter.