Looking for My Muse (Or Maybe a Kick in the Pants)…

by Stacy Connelly

So, I have recently turned in the last book on a three book contract. The title is His Secret Son, and it’s scheduled for next April. April is my birthday month, so I’ve already started thinking of this as my birthday book! motivation

It’s always a relief to have finished a contract but a bit of a worry as well. After all, being under contract means my editor has bought more of my books. And while I want to jump back in and whip out a proposal and three synopses for another contract, I have to admit, I’m a little–stuck.

I’ve come up with various plots and conflicts and hooks, but none of them are really grabbing me. Sometimes that means I haven’t hit on the right idea yet. Other times it means I’m procrastinating. :)

But it’s made me wonder–what do you do when you’re looking for motivation? Are you the reward type? The kind of person who says, “As soon as you accomplish this task, you can (insert fun thing here)…” Or do you enact punishments? :) “No more (insert fun thing here) until you finish this task?”

Leave a post, and I’ll draw a winner of my most recent release, Small Town Cinderella.

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THE GREATEST GIFT OF ALL 

By Nancy Robards Thompson

A Celebration Christmas cover

Lily Palmer is in for the Christmas of a lifetime! When the nanny signs up to watch Dr. Cullen Dunlevy’s four foster kids, she’s got her hands full. The Thomas clan is the most mischievous group of youngsters she’s ever had to wrangle, but Lily loves the job. After all, what girl wouldn’t adore spending the holidays with a warmhearted new family—and their irresistibly handsome foster dad?

Cullen doesn’t mind Christmas, but his Scrooge-like facade is there for a reason—to protect himself. His tough childhood caused him to hide behind his work and avoid entanglements at all costs. That includes avoiding falling for the deliciously tempting new nanny that Santa left for him this year…

 

* Where did you get the idea for A CELEBRATION CHRISTMAS?

 

The Sound of Music has always been one of my favorite movies. I saw it for the first time when I was very young. Later, I shared it with my daughter. I hope someday she’ll continue the chain. In the meantime, I wanted to write a book that was a nod to that classic story that shows that with love and family you can overcome just about anything.

Of course, I changed it up enough to make it my own. First, it’s set during the holidays. Cullen, the hero, is a doctor rather than a wealthy navy captain; and Lily, the heroine, is a teacher rather than an aspiring nun. There are four kids rather than seven. Actually, in the first incarnation of this book, I gave Cullen seven foster children, but then I came to my senses. He and Lily were grateful because as it turned out, four feisty Thomas children were more than enough.

 

 

* Tell us about the hero and heroine of the book? Why will we want them to fall in love?

 

We met both Cullen and Lily in previous books. I introduced you to Lily in CELEBRATION’S BRIDE (she was the woman who won the wedding of her dreams, only to have her fiancé back out on national television). Cullen first appeared in CELEBRATION’S FAMILY. He was the stern chief of staff at Celebration Memorial, who insisted that the hero of that book participate in the bachelor auction that raised money for the hospital’s pediatric wing.

 

Lily’s nurturing, never-give-up-on-love spirit softens Cullen’s hard exterior and together they realize that through love and family they can heal hurts of the past.

 

 

 

* Is there any particular significance in the setting?

 

I think Debbie Haupt of RT Book Reviews said it best, “Thompson takes us back to Celebration, Texas to check in on old friends and create new memories.”

 

 

 

* What was your favorite scene to write?

 

This book was so much fun to write, that it’s difficult to pick just one scene, but I guess the scenes with the kids were my favorite…or maybe the scenes at the Holiday market…or maybe when the hero and heroine go to the Christmas ball… Wow! Choosing is kind of like naming my favorite child.

 

stollen* Were there any real-life inspirations for a particular scene or character in the book?

 

I infused several personal details into the book. Like Lily, I lost my mother and was exceptionally close to my grandmother. My grandmother’s recipes are very special to me. I cook her food when I’m missing her.

 

My father remarried a wonderful woman, who was first generation German American and my lovely step-mother shared her mother’s recipe for a German Christmas bread called stollen, a confection filled with dried fruits and marzipan. In the book, the stollen recipe came from Lily’s grandmother and to bring some holiday cheer into the house, she teaches the kids how to make it.

 

* Do any beloved characters from your previous books show up in this one?

 

Oh, yes! Sydney and Miles from CELEBRATION’S BRIDE and Pepper and A.J. from Celebrations, Inc. Catering Company among others. It was fun revisiting everyone.

 

 

* Any interesting tidbits of information you discovered while researching this book?

 

I wanted Lily to tell the children the story of Christmas stollen and when I was researching it, not only did I learn all about where stollen came from (Lily will tell you all about it in the book), I learned there used to be an annual stollen festival in Germany. They’ve recently revived it and now it’s called Stollenfest.

 

That makes me wonder about your holiday traditions. I know it’s a little early for some of you to talk about Christmas and Hanukkah, but we are getting close to Halloween and Thanksgiving. What are some of your fall/winter traditions?

 

I will give away an ARC of CELEBRATION CHRISTMAS to one person who posts on this blog.

 

If you’d like another chance to win an ARC of CELEBRATION CHRISTMAS and to be entered into a drawing to win a holiday prize package that I’m giving away on November 1, after you comment here, hop on over to my brand new Facebook page, Nancy Robards Thompson Books give it a like and comment on the post for the contest.

 

I can’t wait to hear about your fall/winter traditions!

Posted in Books, Celebrations, doctors, food, Giveaways, Holidays, Kitchen, Nancy Robards Thompson, Special Edition series, Texas | 25 Comments

Favorite Time of the Year… WINNER!!

Lori Y – Please email me at stacyconnell@cox.net with your address, and I will mail you out a copy of Small Town Cinderella! Thanks to everyone for commenting!

 

by Stacy Connelly9780373658329

Fall is my favorite time of the year, and October is one of my favorite months. The weather (FINALLY!) starts to turn cool. The holidays are close enough to start to look forward to without the craziness that comes as they draw near in November and December, and then there’s Halloween. :)

I’ve always loved Halloween as a holiday–the chance to dress up, to spend the evening pretending to be someone else. It’s a favorite holiday of my heroine in Small Town Cinderella as well, and one of my favorite scenes in the book is the Fall Fest she and the hero attend toward the end of the book.

What about you? Do you enjoy October and the changing of the seasons from summer to fall? Or is another season your favorite?

Leave a post, and I’ll draw a winner of my latest release, Small Town Cinderella!

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Do You Have A Bucket List? Winner!

TheLastChanceMaverick_bucketlistCongrats to Karen Laird…you are the winner! 

Please email me your mailing address and I’ll get a copy of THE LAST-CHANCE MAVERICK and the $20 gift card to you!

Thanks to everyone for sharing your bucket list dreams! Here’s hoping we all can get as many of them crossed off as possible!

One of the things I loved best about writing my October release, THE LAST-CHANCE MAVERICK, was the bucket list I created for my heroine, Vanessa Brent. It’s a list she and her best friend thought up back when they were just 12-years-old, so of course, the list had 12 wishes.

By the time they were adults the list had been forgotten, but when it was found again, Vanessa and her friend had a very special reason for not only checking off the items they managed to complete (8 of the 12, not bad!) but Vanessa’s best friend decided that 12 more items were needed.

Because Vanessa not only needed a bucket list…she needed a life.

“That’s…that’s quite a list.”

“It’s not a list. It’s a life. Your life.” Adele’s voice became strong and clear, more than it has been in days. “It’s time for you to get back to it.”

“Adele—”

“You’ve been with me constantly over the last year. I’m surprised you’ve found time to get any painting done, not that I want you to jump back into your crazy work schedule.” She paused for another breath. “And I know it’s you I have to thank for being comfortable with this outrageously expensive hospital room. My mom and I are so grateful—”

“Oh, shut up,” Vanessa admonished her friend gently, her gaze still on the blurred list. “You know I would pay anything—do anything—to have you well again.”

Adele jiggled on Vanessa’s hand, signaling she wanted her attention. Vanessa brushed away the tears before looking at her friend who’d tugged the plastic mask from her face.

“What’s that saying? We only have one shot at life, but if we do it right once is enough? You know better than most—especially now—how quickly life can be taken away,” Adele said, her voice low and strained. “Don’t get so lost in your art after I’m gone that you forget about all the wonderful things waiting out there for you.”

It takes Vanessa a while to start working on the list, but once she does…boy, she jumps right in with both feet and it’s not long after meeting Jonah Dalton, a sexy, former cowboy turned architect that she decides he’s the man to help her!

It was so much fun writing scenes that worked some of her remaining list into the story (nope, can’t tell you which ones…you have to read the book!) and while I’ve always had a mental list of things I’d like to try, places to go, people to meet, I now have a written bucket list of my own. One of these days I will skydive from a airplane, visit Pearl Harbor and Ireland, and swim with dolphins (just a few unfulfilled wishes from my list).

There is even a website (big surprise, huh?) that you can join for free with you can create a bucket list of your own, be inspired by others and with today’s technology, view you list anywhere. If you interested, visit http://bucketlist.org.

So, do you have a bucket list? If not an actual list how about something you’ve always wanted to do? A place you’ve always wanted to visit? Share and I’ll choose one name to win an autographed copy of THE LAST-CHANCE MAVERICK along with a $20 gift card at either Amazon. com or BarnesandNoble.com!

Posted in Books, Giveaways, Special Edition series | Tagged , , , , | 68 Comments

Mama’s Girl… By Judy Duarte

Some of you have met my daughter Christy at RWA conferences, since she’s attended several recently.JudyandDaughter

However, her first attendance was in New Orleans in 2001, when I was a Golden Heart finalist.  I was thrilled beyond measure—but nervous, too.  And she held my hand.

I didn’t win that night, but I wasn’t the least bit disappointed.  You see, Harlequin had just purchased my entry, which would be released the following March as Cowboy Courage, my very first Special Edition.

My writing career had just begun, and I was over the moon.  And it was extra special to be able to share that exciting evening with my only daughter.

Christy is an awesome writer in her own right, but she’s a very busy wife and mom.  And for years, her sparkling writing talent was limited to clever emails she’d send out at Christmas time with her children’s gift list, along with her snarky comments, like:

 

  1. Lego Kingdom Chess Set. This gets its own line because a) It isn’t in the Lego section of the toy store (it’s in the game section) and b) He has been asking for this for a long, long time. I’ve never felt a strong desire to rush out and buy it for him because then he would ask me to play chess with him. This presents two problems in that a) I do not know how to play chess and b) I do not want to get my butt handed to me by a nine-year-old.

 

Last summer, Christy came to me with an awesome idea for a Special Edition she thought I should write.  I loved the premise and knew it would be a perfect addition to the line.  But I was knee deep in Brighton Valley at the time, so I told her to write it.

And write it, she did…

You have no idea how happy I am to finally be able to share the news with you…  My one and only daughter, Christy Jeffries, is…drum roll…a Special Edition author!

She sold her first book to Harlequin last month, and while I don’t have all the details—like the release date or know whether the title will change—the contract has been signed and she’s official!  Her feet haven’t yet touched the ground, but then again, neither have mine!

It’s always fun to see a child achieve a dream.  But when it’s a dream that you’ve both shared, it’s even more special.

Will you join me in welcoming my grown up baby girl to the wonderful world we call Special Edition?

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Dream Vacations… WINNER!!

by Stacy Connelly

 

Brenda Hunt–Please email me at stacyconnelly@cox.net with your address and I will send you a copy of my August release, Small Town Cinderella. Thanks to everyone for posting!

For several years, my best friend and I tried going on vacation in Hawaii. It seemed something (usually something bad) always came up and made it so we couldn’t go. We even started calling it the Hawaii curse and made jokes about an evil tiki (those of you around my age might recall that Brady Bunch episode!).Hawaii pic

But, finally, this year, we were able to go. We went to the Big Island and had a great time–no evil tikis to be found! Just amazing, almost out of this world lava rock beaches, gorgeous waterfalls and even a winery!

While we were there, I realized many of our vacations either included the beach (Hawaii and most often San Diego) or the mountains/canyons. We’ve done road trips to New Mexico, Utah and Colorado over the years.

So that made me wonder… What kind of vacation do you prefer? Beaches? Mountains? Or is city life more your style? Leave a post, and I’ll draw a winner of my most recent release Small Town Cinderella! (And I apologize to my last winners–I tried to mail out your books before leaving for vacation, and I ran out of time. They will be in the mail this week!)

Posted in Giveaways, Great Escapes, Uncategorized | 35 Comments

Congrats Jane Gardner – Winner of Where would you like to live blog! :)

Congratulations Jane Gardner.  You are the winner of the drawing for the Amazon gift card!  PLEASE send your email address to me at leannebbb @ aol.com (no spaces).  Thanks to everyone for stopping by and commenting!

xo,

Leanne Banks

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Where would you like to live? And drawing for a gift card!

9780373658350Where would you like to live?

What climate do you think would suit you? Would you prefer a cold climate? Or a hot climate?

In my current book, MAVERICK FOR HIRE, climate is a big issue. It gets super cold in Montana in the winter. On top of that, the setting for our Mavericks is a small town, Rust Creek Falls. A lot of women have come to Rust Creek Falls in hopes of finding true love, but the men in town know that these women may not be prepared for the harsh winters and lack of entertainment. Are you a small town person? Or a bigger town person?

I have told my husband that I don’t want to move anywhere that I cannot get pizza delivered. :) So when he starts talking about moving to the sticks, I say….”What about pizza delivery?”

I live in Virginia and we get all four seasons. I like that, however, I would like a little less snow and ice in Winter. Therefore, I think I would really like to be a snowbird. I enjoy experiencing all four seasons, but I would be happy to take a trip way south in February.

What about you? I’ll draw from the responders to give away one Amazon gift card!

xo,
Leanne
www.leannebanks.com

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Congrats, Cindy Hamilton! You won a copy of HIS TEXAS FOREVER FAMILY!

Congratulations, Cindy! Please email me at amywoodsbooks at gmail dot com, or through the contact page on my website, with your address, and I’ll happily send the book your way.

Thanks to everyone who stopped by to leave comments! I loved hearing from you. :-)

-Amy

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HIS TEXAS FOREVER FAMILY—Q&A with Amy Woods

HisTexasForeverFamily_UScoverHis Texas Forever Family is a September release, and Amy’s debut novel.

Paige Graham only has room for one man in her life—her son, Owen. The little boy hasn’t spoken since his father died, but things change when he meets his new art teacher, Liam Campbell. Paige can’t help marveling at the progress Owen makes while working with his instructor—and Mr. Campbell isn’t exactly hard on the eyes, either!

New to Peach Leaf, Texas, Liam is captivated by his beautiful boss—who is none other than Paige! He can’t risk his job or his future by falling for his supervisor, but there is just something about her he can’t resist. Thanks to Liam’s lessons, Owen is on the road to recovery. Now if only Liam can show Paige that the best way to heal her heart is to open herself to love again….

* Where did you get the idea for His Texas Forever Family?
A spark of an idea, and the wonderful question, “What if?” inspired the story. I wondered what would happen if a child became mute following a terrible loss, and the only person able to help that child was someone with an unconventional way of treating psychological distress. I combined that person with the child’s mother—who has tried everything, without success, to help her son—along with a sweet romance, and the rest is history.

* Tell us about the hero of the book? Why will we fall in love with him?
Liam falls somewhere between alpha and beta—a spot that I really love for my heroes. He’s firm and strong with the heroine, Paige, when she needs that from him or when he sees that being that way will help make her stronger or lift her up. But he’s also gentle and sweet. I love classic alpha males, but sometimes I’m in the mood for a hero who’s a little closer to the beta side.

* Tell us about the heroine? Why is she the perfect woman for the hero?
Paige’s late husband died tragically and, at the beginning of the book, she’s at a point where she’s spent so much time taking care of her young son and trying to keep up with life in general—her job, her home, and all the other things that make up her days—that she hasn’t had time to really grieve and find a way to move on. Her relationship with Liam is special because, instead of rescuing her like a damsel in distress, he partners with her to share some of her burden so that she has space to heal. In the process, they discover a love that’s amazing and passionate, yes, but is also based on a very solid, real friendship and an understanding that her little boy needs a father as much as she needs someone to love.

* Is there any particular significance in the setting?
Although the book’s setting, Peach Leaf, Texas is a fictional small town, it’s loosely based on one of my all-time real favorite places—Fredericksburg, Texas. Fredericksburg is a town in West Texas with a population of a little over 10,000, and was founded in 1846 and named after Prince Frederick of Prussia. Both Fredericksburg and Peach Leaf are home to several amazing German restaurants boasting excellent beer and mouth-watering Reuben sandwiches, and Pioneer Museums that share artifacts and tons of information about the towns’ intriguing histories.

* What was your favorite scene to write?
really enjoyed writing the scene in which Paige and Liam kiss for the first time.

It was enough. For now. He leaned in slowly, giving her every chance to pull away, praying all the while she wouldn’t. He brushed his lips softly against hers, then kissed her lightly, only once, the small motion causing every nerve in him to stand on edge.
He wanted so much more, but he would have to be satisfied with this for the time being. Paige needed her space. When she was ready, she would have to make the next move.
But, for the first time in a long time, he felt confident enough, and ready, to try again with a woman. This woman.

* What was the most difficult scene for you to write?
There is a scene in which Paige, who’s had a long day of meetings and thought she’d scheduled a sitter for Owen, forgets to pick him up. She feels awful about the situation and it just adds to what is already a load of stress about being a newly single mom. I hated to have to put her through that, but it leads to something good…I promise!

* Why will readers enjoy this book?
His Texas Forever Family has (I hope!) a unique premise, a sweet small-town setting, and perfectly imperfect characters that I think readers might relate to. I would love for readers to walk away feeling uplifted and with a fresh belief that, no matter what life throws at us, love has the power to heal just about any pain, and we are never too old, too broken, or too anything to deserve true love.

That’s all for me. I’d love to hear from you! Are there any specific themes, topics, or storylines that you love to see in your romances? Anything you’d love to read about but haven’t found yet?
I’m giving away a signed paperback copy of His Texas Forever Family to a randomly chosen commenter who posts today (open to residents of US, Canada, or International).

And readers are always welcome to visit me at www.amywoodsbooks.com.

Thanks for stopping by!

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