09-29 Maggie Lynch - Sweetwater Canyon series

10-01 - Peggy Henderson - Western Time Travel Romance

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Western Time Travel Romance by Peggy L. Henderson

Thank you so much for inviting me to kick off time travel romance month!  I write western time travel romance as well as strictly western historical romance. What I hear from a lot of readers is that they are hesitant to read time travel books because of the time travel aspect!  If they give my time travels a try, I usually hear that they were pleasantly surprised, which is always nice to hear.

Personally, I love the idea of time travel. Mixing modern mindsets with old- fashioned values can be so much fun, especially when it involves romance. I hadn’t actually read more than one or two time travel romances when I wrote my first book, which combined my love of Yellowstone National Park with the notion of traveling back in time. That book turned into an entire series, and I loved writing the genre so much, I decided to write another time travel series, which combined my love of time travel and my fascination with the old west.

The Second Chances Time Travel Romance Series has had various settings – on a wagon train to Oregon, on a Montana horse ranch, and in modern-day Montana. The idea for a second chances series came about when I considered what it would be like to go back in time (or forward in time) to change something about your life – anything from unfortunate circumstances to bad choices. What if someone granted you the ability to make things right, or to travel down a different path? What if we could have a fresh start? A new beginning? What if it meant leaving everything behind that you've known?

However, that second chance had to come with a price, namely the character had to complete some sort of task in a different time in order to be granted a do-over to straighten out his or her life. Then I threw in some romance to make it even more challenging for the characters, and their decisions would be even harder. What were they willing to do, or give up, for true love?


The series is planned as a set of standalone books, with the common thread being a mysterious character who grants second chances to people who have lost their way. Throughout the series, this character experiences his own character growth as he seeks to understand the motivations of the people he’s been assigned to grant second chances to, especially when it comes to the notion of love and romance. He is known as Reverend Johnson because he appears mostly as a reverend, but could take on just about any role as it suits him to meet the people to whom he grants second chances.

At the moment, there are three books in the series – Come Home to Me, which was a Laramie Award winner in 2014, Ain’t No Angel, and Diamond in the Dust, a RONE finalist and Honorable Mention in time travel romance in 2015.  A fourth book is in the planning stages.

Thank you for reading about my Second Chance Time Travel Romance Series. ~ Peggy

Peggy L Henderson is an award-winning, best-selling western historical and time travel romance author of the Yellowstone Romance Series, Second Chances Time Travel Romance Series, Teton Romance Trilogy, and the Blemished Brides and Wilderness Brides Western Historical Romance Series. When she’s not writing about Yellowstone, the Tetons, or the old west, she’s out hiking the trails, spending time with her family and pets, or catching up on much-needed sleep. She is happily married to her high school sweetheart. Along with her husband and two sons, she makes her home in Southern California. 

Peggy L Henderson
Western Historical and Time Travel Romance
“Where Adventure Awaits and Love is Timeless”

Award-Winning Author of:
Yellowstone Romance Series
Teton Romance Trilogy
Second Chances Time Travel Romance Series
Blemished Brides Western Historical Romance Series
Wilderness Brides Historical Romance Series
               
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Friday, September 30, 2016

Masks and Me

Masks and Me by Judith Ashley

Judith Ashley is the author of The Sacred Women’s Circle series, romantic fiction that honors spiritual traditions that nurture the soul.

There are several ways to interpret Romancing The Genres topic “Masks”. The masks we wear around other people to protect ourselves, the masks we wear to fool ourselves, the masks we wear for Halloween and Carnival, if we celebrate those holidays.

Judith with Snowy Owl Mask
Another type of mask is one we make and wear or, in my case, one that was made for me.

My power animal is the Snowy Owl. One of my gifted Circle sisters decided to make masks of our individual power animals. She’s made Bear, Coyote, Snowy Owl and is in the process of making her own – Badger.

Over the years I’ve made several masks for myself. They are carefully wrapped in tissue and stored away.

However, my newest mask is a different story. I want to be able to see it without the hassle of getting it out of the bag I store it in.

So, I’ve been on a quest to find something. I checked a plastic store and found the storage cube they sell when someone has a collectible or favorite football helmet. I’ve also found a small cube at a merchandise display store. I’ll take the mask there to see how it would look/fit.

Why a protective shell for it?

Feathers.

I won’t be able to vacuum it and in my house, no matter what I do, there is still some dust.

The plastic cube will allow me to see it while protecting it. I plan on opening it up every couple of weeks because the idea of my Snowy Owl mask being kept in an airless space is unsettling.

Will I wear it? Of course I will. Perhaps not constantly everyday but on those occasions when I want to feel closer to my power totem.

What are your spiritual practices that bring you comfort and peace?

Judith Ashley without Mask
You can learn more about The Sacred Women’s Circle series on my website.


Follow me on Twitter: @JudithAshley19

I’m also on Facebook


© 2016 Judith Ashley


Thursday, September 29, 2016

Why Contemporary Romance is Important


 By Maggie Lynch

Though there are legions of fans who love contemporary romance, outside of our fans it doesn’t get a lot of cachet in the literary world. Historical romance gets all the historical detail fun—beautiful dresses, castles, horses and men who know exactly what they want, and women who are also very constrained by the roles of the period. Paranormal romance draws from the fantasy world and that helps the reader get lost in the magic or the paranormal or the creatures who live forever. Romance and fantasy seem to go together well. Romantic suspense or thrillers can cover those messy relationship moments by putting couples in constant jeopardy. I call it the I-think-I’m-going-to-die-so-let’s-get-it-on moments that help to propel the relationship forward and put their quarrels in stark relief against life and death.

But contemporary romance? It’s ALL about the relationship. It’s all about the messiness of our minds, and the stupid or crazy things we say and do in order to protect ourselves. Now that both men and women really do have more choices in their lives, long-term loving relationships are even more difficult to navigate. The power structure for decisions is not black and white.

That is why Contemporary Romance is important to me, and I believe to thousands of fans. It presents modern situations and ideas and presents ways to navigate all the messiness.

Though I love the other genres of Romance, and write in those genres, contemporary is my favorite. You see… I’m a believer. I truly believe that love conquers all.  I truly believe that if we open ourselves to love, love the person for who they really are—not trying to change them—it can be so fulfilling and we grow in extraordinary ways. If we give ourselves to a relationship and COMMIT to the daily journey together that includes troubleshooting, renegotiation, forgiveness, and reconciliation, that the reward to our lives is incredible. Notice I didn’t say easy. I said incredible.

Of course, as my friend Jessa Slade says in my favorite author tagline of all time: “Love conquers all, that explains the scars.”  It is those scars that I love to write about—the scars that we all carry from past relationships. Scars that happen as we travel through life and it doesn’t turn out the way we want. Some scars are from parents, others from siblings, yet others from friends. And if we have past romantic relationships, there are likely wounds there too. Every time we enter into a new relationship we walk that tightrope of wanting to trust but also protecting our heart. Each time we must decide how much of the past we will bring into this new relationship and how much we will let those scars hobble us.

Let’s face it, Love is not passive. It takes a lot of energy.  Sometimes the person or people you are offering your love to don’t give any thanks for your effort. Sometimes you think you have a two-way thing going, only to find out you were doing all the giving and the other person was doing all the taking. Way too often, I’ve had to love someone when they were being a pain in the butt.  It’s pretty hard to love someone who is angry, or someone who is so caught up in their own anguish that it seems no matter what you do isn’t enough.

Love is exhausting! Yet, even when we know how much love can suck, we still seek it. Even when we believe we’ve found it and it’s a mutual sharing, we find ways to screw it up. And no matter how much we say it’s just not worth it—no matter how much we might try to move through life without love—we constantly YEARN for it.

That is exactly what my stories are about. They are about the little choices we make. Those choices can make love easier or harder. They can take us away from love or running toward it, or very cautiously approach it. Even when we “fall in love” it is often difficult to make the “heroic choice” of commitment—the choice to love when faced with an imperfect person. But that is what we do to stay in relationship. Share, negotiate, forgive, reconcile, stand up for yourself, stand up for your partner, and then start all over again by remembering why you love each other. To achieve that happily ever after, every day we must recommit to make the choice to love one messy moment at a time.


Maggie Lynch is the author of 20+ published books, as well as numerous short stories and non-fiction articles.  Her fiction tells stories of men and women making heroic choices one messy moment at a time. Maggie and her musician husband have settled in the beautiful Pacific Northwest where she now enjoys the luxury of writing full-time. If you are unfamiliar with Maggie’s Contemporary Romances, you can now get the first book in the Sweetwater Canyon FREE at all vendors.
Download UNDERTONES Now!  | Nook  | Kindle | Kobo  | Apple |





Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Writing My Way Home

by M. L. Buchman

"Write what you know!"

How many kajillion times have you heard that? It's a rule I've lived by...or maybe not. I started in post-apocalyptic science fiction. I wandered into thrillers set at a national TV food channel's studio (and dozens of others exotic locations I've never been to). Then I wandered into military romances (though I never served and they're set in places I've never been).

So, I've always pushed back on: "Write what you know!" with: "Write what you're passionate about!"

I wrote post-apoc SF because I am fascinated by the power of the people who find a way to stand up and try to save/rebuild the future. I write military romance because a) I love a good love story, and b) the more I research the military, the more amazing they become to me. Those who choose to serve, not as a job but as a career, are making an astonishing choice that took me a long time to understand. The more I understand, the more I am knocked back by these amazing men and women. They have driven me to do my best to show who they are.

I don't write the grittiness of war (not much, and certainly not the blood and grime), but I do everything I can to get their stories right. Why they are there. Why they choose to stay and why they miss it so much when they go.

My writing career has been a constant struggle to get it right. I typically research an hour for every three hours of writing. Still, despite over thirty military romances (not counting short stories).

This year I decided that I would write my second contemporary romance series. I have mentioned it from time to time over these last months, but it is the difference in the storytelling that I'm looking at today.


My Eagle Cove series is at the very center of "Write what you know." It is set in a small town on the Oregon Coast. My first visit to the Oregon Coast was over twenty-five years ago. I took a catered bicycling trip down the coast with a dozen others from all over the country. I was actually the most "local" of them all, only coming three hundred miles down from Seattle. We spent a week staying in nice B&Bs, eating great food, and bicycling the rugged hills and gorgeous beaches of the coast.

A few years later, I would travel this same route on a fully-loaded touring bike as the beginning of my solo, eighteen-month, bicycle tour around the world.

Fifteen years ago I was back, this time as a writer, for a two-week, deep-immersion class on the coast. Since that moment, the Oregon Coast has been an integral part of my life. I've come down for workshops, vacations, family trips, and, finally, to live. I'm now a full-time writer living in a small Oregon town.

The central coast, my favorite stretch of it, is 150 miles of beaches, wild forest, and small towns. The monster is barely ten thousand people (if you don't count the tens of thousands of tourists who descend every weekend).

So, I created the small fictitious town of Eagle Cove, which is drawn from a dozen different places along the stretch.

I have to pause here and say just HOW MUCH I love my job. I love the writing and the storytelling. I've fallen in love with enough of my characters that I don't understand how my wife isn't screamingly jealous (maybe it's because they aren't real...at least not to her!). As much as I enjoy writing the fast-paced romantic suspense... As much fun as it is to streak across the sky with the Night Stalkers and the Firehawks, or to slip in and out of dangerous locales with Delta Force... I was completely charmed by the easy days and friendly folk of Eagle Cove.

A contemporary romance has a pace about it that is as comfortable as a favorite chair by the fire on a cold, wet day. Really, it's the best analogy I can come up with. It's true for the writing process as well as the reading. By "Writing what I know" I managed to slip deeper into the stories. Unlike a romantic suspense, a contemporary romance hangs entirely on the characters. I'm not saying the former doesn't require great characters, but there's a razzle-dazzle there that doesn't exist in contemporary. It was a simple joy to write, rather than a challenge.

Even unlike my Angelo's Hearth contemporary series set in Seattle's Pike Place Market, Eagle Cove is a slice of life in a town that is slow-paced and quiet...except to the characters living there. To them, their small town is a whorl of events and emotions, some small...some as big as falling in love for the rest of your life.

My joy is writing romantic suspense...but this year I discovered that my heart dances down the beaches in Eagle Cove.


Want a taste of Eagle Cove? This story was the monthly free story on my website for a week in July. Now I'm making it exclusively free to readers of Romancing the Genres for one week more.

Just click HERE to download a free copy from BookFunnel.com. Do it now! This link expires in 7 days.

And if you never want to miss one of my monthly free stories, just sign up for my newsletter.

Enjoy the trip...I certainly did.

M. L. Buchman has over 50 novels and 30 short stories in print. His military romantic suspense books have been named Barnes & Noble and NPR “Top 5 of the year” and twice Booklist “Top 10 of the Year,” placing two titles on their “Top 101 Romances of the Last 10 Years” list. He has been nominated for the Reviewer’s Choice Award for “Top 10 Romantic Suspense of the Year” by RT Book Reviews and was a 2016 RWA RITA finalist. In addition to romance, he also writes thrillers, fantasy, and science fiction.

In among his career as a corporate project manager he has: rebuilt and single-handed a fifty-foot sailboat, both flown and jumped out of airplanes, and designed and built two houses. Somewhere along the way he also bicycled solo around the world.

He is now making his living as a full-time writer on the Oregon Coast with his beloved wife and is constantly amazed at what you can do with a degree in Geophysics. You may keep up with his writing and receive exclusive content by subscribing to his newsletter at:

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Celebrating Romance When Life Goes to Hell By Sarah Raplee

First published May 28, 2013
As a writer, I learned early on the value of celebrating romance when life goes to hell. During introductions at my first local chapter meeting of Romance Writers of America in West Des Moines, Iowa, a young woman’s story gave me a new perspective and pride in my newly-chosen career. I've heard similar stories over and over.

 “Reading romance helped me through my father dying of cancer. That’s why I decided to write romance novels. I want to do the same for other people,” she said. For that horrible year, romance stories were a great escape from the pain and grief that was her daily life. And the experience of finding love and happiness in the darkest of circumstances that reading romance offered gave her hope—which is always worth celebrating. Laughing through light-hearted romantic comedies lifted her spirits and offered a respite in which to renew her strength.

As a reader, I experienced the power of celebrating romance when my husband went from healthy and strong to the brink of death in twelve short hours. We were in the process of moving to a new home when our timid, neurotic housecat, Jasper, transformed into murderous Demon Spawn. 

In an effort to calm Jasper, we decided to put the confused and frightened fifteen-pound orange tabby into his cat carrier. To avoid getting scratched and clawed, Chuck made the mistake of grasping the cat’s front legs in one hand and his hind legs in the other and picking him up. Jasper just wasn’t the sort of cat you find on the television show, My Cat from Hell. That our cuddly pet would bite him never occurred to my husband.


But Jasper acted on pure animal instinct, defending himself from what seemed like attack with the deadly tools God had given him. He bit my husband’s hands and arms multiple times, going all the way through the ring finger on his left hand. Later, the ER doctor had to cut his gold wedding band in to places in order to remove the ring. 

Despite the cat’s efforts, Chuck got him into the cat carrier. Blood streamed from his wounds, but being a man, he refused to go to the emergency room. In spite of my protests, he insisted on washing the wounds himself with soap and water, pouring peroxide over them, stopping the bleeding, and then helping my sons finish loading the moving van. 

By the time the truck was unloaded and turned into the rental place, it was 11:30 pm and we were exhausted. His hands and arms hurt like the devil, but he was sure that was from being bit and moving things. We went to bed.

The next morning, he had a fever and two wide red streaks running up to his armpits. His fingers were swollen like sausages and he felt dizzy. He was too weak to fight going to the ER.

Turns out that, according to the hand surgeon who was called into the ER, 90% of cat bites get infected. For comparison, only 5% of dog bites do. Feline mouths harbor a nasty strain of bacteria. Anyone bitten by a cat should make a beeline for the nearest urgent care center or emergency room.
Chuck’s severe bite wounds were infused with millions of potentially-lethal bacteria who had multiplied overnight until the infections had spread almost to his heart. Reaching his heart would have been fatal. 

ME & FRECKLES
OUR CURRENT RESCUE CAT
GIFT FROM HUBBY
Microsurgery was performed on Chuck’s hand. Years later he still has no feeling in part of that finger. He spent five days in the hospital with IV antibiotics being pumped directly into his heart. He left the hospital on Christmas Eve with a portable pump and the IV still in him. I spent those five days on a bedside vigil alternating between praying and reading a romance novel. 

My faith gave me the strength to function. Celebrating romance kept me sane. 

Has celebrating romance helped you through a hellish situation?

Monday, September 26, 2016

Creating the Masks...and Taking Them Off

By Courtney Pierce

Whether verb, noun, metaphor, or backstory, writers love masks. When our characters wear them, either literally or figuratively, they create interesting layers that peel back to reveal their inner dimensions. Hidden agendas steel under the cloaks of our antagonists. Trauma damage prickles beneath the skin of our heroines. What lurks behind their expressions and nervous ticks drives tension and suspense, and even humor.

In my current trilogy series about the middle-age Dushane sisters, my protagonist is a romance writer. After thirty-two years of marriage, she suffered the loss of her husband from a hit-and-run accident. Olivia Novak smiles in public, shakes hands, and greets readers like a pro, but then obsessively hunts down white Suburbans to find the culprit. She hounds the police to report the description of every vehicle she finds and records the license number. She cleans like fiend and talks to her cat to ease the shrapnel of her loss and loneliness. Her two sisters, Lauren and Danny, have Olivia's number, the only ones allowed a peek behind her mask.

Digging below the surface of our characters is a hoot for both writers and readers. The page fills with secret information that drives us to write more, want more. That’s why I love trilogies. I can burrow into my characters’ motivations, wishes, and wants. I can’t go that deep in a mere three hundred pages.

By the third book (I’m finishing Indigo Legacy now), I get to sit back like a therapist with pad of paper in hand. I talk to the sisters, ask questions, and take notes for their file. And darned if they don’t spill their secrets to me as I write. I raise an eyebrow in surprise as they blurt out the ridiculous. I scowl when they teeter over the line of morality. These complex characters come alive, like real people I know.


I peer over my glasses. “Why did you say that to Lauren in that way, Olivia?”

“I don’t know. I just did,” she says to me and sniffs.

“Double-down on that, Olivia. You didn’t want your sister to know how insecure you feel, but you need to have all the answers.”

Olivia pulls her gaze from mine in a moment of silence. “Maybe. But Lauren needs to stand on her own two feet. I’ve been alone for five years.” She glances back at me, her expression defiant. “I don’t have a man at my side taking care of me. Everything I do, I have to do for myself.”

“Your sister’s alone too,” I say.

Olivia stares at her lap and twists the wedding band she still wears. “I know.”

“You should apologize.”

“I will. But not yet.”

And so it goes . . .

Gestures and glances. Fiddling with jewelry with whispered responses. Heart food for writers when we write these scenes, like a shot of CoQ-10. I live to bore under my characters’ skins, because I’m boring into mine. Masks are removed with these small moments that deserve a whole paragraph.

Relationships have masks too. Characters might keep the peace on the surface while churning with self-doubt or fear. Fear of being alone, of dying alone, and reaching beyond their comfort limits to make sure that doesn’t happen. Past hurts toxify their ability to be trustful and open, preventing them from risking rejection. They shrink back at a seemingly benign comment, triggering an ingrained reaction like Pavlov’s dog. Readers understand and empathize, and root for my heroine to conquer her demons.

These are the little things that make characters interesting and relatable. They keep readers turning the page. And I, as their creator, feel triumphant when I get my characters over the hump to unmask who they really are.


Courtney Pierce is a fiction writer living in Milwaukie, Oregon. She writes for baby boomers. By day, Courtney is an executive in the entertainment industry and uses her time in a theater seat to create stories that are filled with heart, humor and mystery. She has studied craft and storytelling at the Attic Institute and has completed the Hawthorne Fellows Program for writing and publishing. Active in the writing community, she is a board member of the Northwest Independent Writers Association and on the Advisory Council of the Independent Publishing Resource Center. She is a member of Willamette Writers, Pacific Northwest Writers Association, She Writes, and Sisters in Crime. The Executrix received the Library Journal Self-E recommendation seal. 

Check out all of Courtney's books at:
courtney-pierce.com and windtreepress.com. Both print and E-books are available through most major online retailers, including Amazon.com


The Dushane Sisters are back in Indigo LakeMore laughs, more tears...and more trouble. Protecting Mom's reputation might get the sisters killed―or give one of them the story she's been dying to live.

New York Times best-selling author Karen Karbo says, "Courtney Pierce spins a madcap tale of family grudges, sisterly love, unexpected romance, mysterious mobsters and dog love. Reading Indigo Lake is like drinking champagne with a chaser of Mountain Dew. Pure Delight."

Colorful characters come alive in Courtney's trilogy about the Dushane sisters. Beginning with The Executrixthree middle-age sisters find a manuscript for a murder mystery in their mother's safe after her death. Mom’s book gives them a whole new view of their mother and their future. Is it fiction . . . or truth? 

Get out the popcorn as the Dushane Sisters Trilogy comes to a scrumptious conclusion with Indigo Legacy. Due out in early 2017.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

The Way We Were.... Romance has Changed!



 By: Marcia King-Gamble
www.lovemarcia.com

Like me on Facebook  http://bit.ly/1MlnrIS


 In the background are Locks of Love ...lovers names are engraved and the keys thrown into the ocean!

As a writer of contemporary romance, I’m amazed at just how far we’ve come. I grew up for the most part on St. Vincent; a  small British island, that back then, few people even heard of. We had two book stores on the island, so if you were a reader you read whatever was on those shelves.


At age six, I read Mills and Boon novels and hid them under my mattress. I was an early reader, thanks to my school teacher mom. She would later tell everyone she didn’t even know I was able to read. She’d take me with her to classes and apparently I was catching on. But back to the subject matter at hand.

Contemporary romance at that time consisted of a boy meet girl scenario, some kind of conflict ,(usually a third person vying for the hero’s attention,) and the only hint of  lust were a few chaste kisses. These kisses increased the woman’s heartbeat and made the guy’s manhood throb.

Flash forward several years, and here I am writing the stories that I grew up with, except, oh, my, how much these stories have changed.  Now there is sex! And not implied either.



My first publishing opportunity came with the launching of the multi-cultural market.  Prior to that, few people who looked like me were even on the covers. With the nineties things changed. Kensington Publishing launched their Arabesque and Encanto lines and held their breaths. Other publishing houses quickly followed suit when they realized there was money to be made and the market couldn’t get enough.  They were shortsighted in that, they only marketed these books to the  African American and Latino community, not realizing that a good book is a good book, whether the faces on the cover are yellow, white or black. 



Back then Erotic or Erotica novels were something you did not read in public, or if you did, the book jacket was covered. I remember when books like Lolita and Lady Chatterley’s Lover were considered scandalous and only a 'harlot' read them in private or public.  Now today’s heat level would make even an exotic dancer blush. 



Today’s readers want it hot, hot. Readers for the most part want their sex, raw and explicit, although there has to be some romance driving that sex.  Readers want to read about both parties enjoying sex not women being taken, as had often been portrayed in the romances of the sixties, seventies and even eighties. Readers want to explore and maybe learn about something other than the missionary position.    Look at the success of Fifty Shades of Grey.



Contemporary romance also has hero and heroine meeting in unusual ways, just like people meet today….online... in coffee bars and in Internet cafes.  Heroines also have a multitude of careers. Gone are the days when the heroine was usually a nurse or nanny. Today she is the CEO and the hero might just be working for her. In Come Fall, one of my less known books, the heroine is accused by a subordinate of sexual harassment. How’s that for a flip?

Long gone are the romance novels that are completely vanilla, although the Inspirational Market, which is hugely popular, and very faith based, prefers sex not to happen without benefit of marriage.  But boy still meets girl and conflict happens. 

Romance today can take place on an alternate universe and love can happen between vampires, werewolves and shapeshifters. There are elements of suspense in romances and gruesome mysteries to be solved.  But the one thing that has not changed is that a satisfying ending must happen, and true love will prevail.



Contemporary romance has changed for the better.