Monday, May 31, 2010

Happy Memorial Day!

"Happy" Memorial Day - how ironic we say this to people at a time that was once solely for the mourning of dead soldiers at the end of the Civil War.

Over time it became as a tradition for all wars, lost family members for any reason and so on. Still, the biggest celebrations are to the soldiers both lost and alive. We grieve for those who died protecting our freedom, for those who serve willing to lose their lives. And we hug those who are back home with us.

Many songs have been centered around various wars, many tributes to our country. I think the one that speaks more than any other for this day is 'American Soldier' by Toby Keith.


Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Secret Fantasy - Kitty Cahill

Hey -- guess who's here today? My friend, Kitty Cahill. She recently signed her first two contracts with Shadowfire Press. Congratulations and Welcome to Happily Ever After!

I asked Kitty to tell us a bit about herself, before she gives a fantasy excerpt of her ner release - SECRET FANTASY. Let's cheer her on, she's feeling a little scared and overwhelmed.


Kitty Cahill was born in a small out of the way town in Eastern Oklahoma. The sort of place if you blink you’re certain to miss it. It was here the very first romance novel she’d ever read found its way into her hands. It wasn’t long before she was writing one of her own. That story remains hidden in a secret unrevealed location. It would be five years before she’d meet the man who’d breathe life into her fictional heroes. One ordinary night while working the graveyard shift at the local Wal-mart, Mr. Right came through her lane. And eleven years later she still maintains their marriage is living proof you can find anything you want there. She is married to the man she considers to be not only her best friend, but her own personal romantic hero. Between PTA and school parties, she somehow manages to find time to write. This is when she allows her mind to wander into flights of fancy, where the hero is always darkly sensual. A day in the life includes managing a household of full of chaos that includes, a husband, four kids, two Shih-Tzu’s and, live in mother-in-law and tornado warnings.


Sara Donovan is a good girl. That is until the day her best friend gives her a gift card for thirty minutes with a phone sex operator. “Joel” unlocks forbidden desires in Sara, desires she’d kept hidden from the world, for fear of reprimand from her domineering preacher father. Once unlocked her desires to be dominated in the bedroom threaten to overwhelm her.

Bad boy Chris Masterson wants Sara Donovan for himself. But his reputation as a player keeps the one woman he truly desires from trusting him. When his usual tricks fail to entice the cautious beauty, he comes up with a plan.
To become her secret the flesh.


Chris shook his head. “Nope, too late. You just tossed down a gauntlet. I’m obligated by men everywhere to pick it up.”

“Listen to me. I’m not interested in the type of sex games you play with your flavor of the month. Okay? I want more than a one night stand and a promise to call.”

“Jealousy?” He tilted his head slightly and stared at her. “You know, I never would’ve thought
you’d have that emotion where I’m concerned.”

“I am not jealous,” she retorted lamely.

“You want to know what I think?”

“Not really,” she said through gritted teeth.

He pushed away from the car, invading her space. His mouth dropped to speak softly next to her ear, hovering close enough his hot breath fluttered over her neck. “I think you’re more than interested. More than just intrigued by it. You want –no- need it.

Sara pushed him back a pace. Of course, she knew he allowed her to do so. The man was as solid as a brick wall. “Let me repeat this so you get it. I am not some little…airhead you can push around. Got it? Not. Interested.”

“Why do you lie to yourself? You and I both know the truth. Why not just admit it? Then we can begin this.”

Sara scoffed. Yeah, sure begin it and end it in one sweet, hot, but most importantly brief night of conquest. “There’s nothing to begin. I’ll never be one of your little…what do you call them? Subs?”

“Sub? What the fuck?”

“What? Is that the wrong term? You’ll have to forgive me. I’m not well versed in the whole BDSM thing and—“ Her stomach clenched at the sight of his nostrils flaring, like a wild animal scenting the air. Everything about him screamed dominant male. Sara guessed that’s why it was so easy to believe he’d be a Dom.

“Don’t tell me that you actually believe all the bullshit people pass around this town?”

“What else am I supposed to believe Chris? You’re a womanizing Dom who struts around with every woman in town.” She crossed her arms and glared. “You prove the rumors true with the way you act.”

“I’m not a Dom,” he stated plainly, running his hand through his hair. “I’m just confident and like things to go my own way. And if that means I have to take charge to achieve that, I do.” His gaze didn’t waver for a second. Sara shivered under that concentrated stare.

“Whatever. The point remains that I don’t want anything to do with you or your wild life style. I won’t join in with you and your buddy. You will not have me tied to anything, with any part of yours or anyone else’s body inside any part of me. Is that clear enough? Never going to happen.”
Again, he leaned in close, and her senses were filled with the spicy, manly scent of him. “Never say never to a man who can make you scream with nothing more than the tip of his tongue.”
Before Sara could retort he brushed her lips with his, then strode away. Confidence riding every step of his long hard body. Against her will, her eyes dropped to the tight butt beneath his Old Navy carpenter pants. Why, oh, why couldn’t he have been ugly? That would’ve made telling him no a helluva lot easier.

Buy Secret Fantasy

Kitty Cahhill

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Liana Laverentz: Create a Collage.....Zen Moments.

A couple of weeks ago I was flipping through some old Oprah magazines, looking for pictures and quotes I wanted to use to make a collage of all the goodness I want to bring into my life. Oprah puts out a very positive magazine, so I like getting ideas from that one. I made a poster-size collage six years ago, as a creativity exercise with some writer friends, and didn’t think much of it, other than it was a fun thing to do. But I liked it enough that I framed it and put it up in my bedroom.

Then the oddest thing happened. Within a few years, everything that I had put into that collage, which was about the things that fed my soul, showed up in my life. Without even thinking of it, just having it on the wall, my subconscious mind went about creating the circumstances that would be needed to bring the things in that poster into my life.

Some might call it weird, but I know it happened. One day I looked up at this poster I hadn’t paid much attention to over the past couple of years, had barely looked at—you know how we tend to not see what is in front of us every day--and realized everything in it was now in my life. I was stunned. I’d read about this kind of thing happening, the power of intention and all that, but…

So over the holidays I created a new collage.

You might want to try one, too. All you have to do is go through magazines and clip or rip out pages that have something on them that appeals to you for some reason. A picture, a quote, a splash of color, even. Some of the stuff I ripped out made no sense. But it came together for me when I put the collage together. And you don’t have to use everything you clip out. I now have two files, one of pictures and one of quotes, to use for future collages. You can do them randomly, like free-association, or choose a theme.

It was a wonderful way to relax and have some “me” time in the midst of a very busy season. It’s also a great way to get rid of all those old magazines you have lying around and don’t know what to do with, too. If you don’t have time to do a full poster-size one, do a smaller one. There are no rules to this sort of thing. And if you're a writer, you can do one for your current work in progress, and post it near your desk as a motivational tool.

You’ll be amazed at how creative it makes you feel.

Liana Laverentz is the award-winning author of two deeply emotional contemporary romances from The Wild Rose Press, Thin Ice and Jake’s Return, both of which will take you on an emotional roller coaster ride you won’t soon forget. For those who love romantic suspense, her newest release, Ashton’s Secret, is a page turner of a murder mystery romance. Liana is a member of Romance Writers of America, the Washington Romance Writers, The Polka Dot Banner, and a past President of Pennwriters, Inc. In her spare time, she loves to watch movies, Law and Order, and concert DVDs. She also loves to make soup. Check out her blog, where she also discusses how to find balance in our lives, women’s health issues, and writes a weekly inspirational post. For more information, go to

Saturday, May 22, 2010



I thought it really appropriate that since I was blogging at Happily Ever After, that Iwould write about...well, happy ever afters. I mean it's what we all want? Right! Trouble is, for our characters, it suaually comes at the end of...well... trouble and angst and heart ache and all the stuff in between. But then the happy ending is worth it after a tumultuous path getting there.

I asked fellow romance writers to share their thoughts on happy endings...

Author Abbey MacInnis, who also writes as Eve Knight says...I think for a couple to be happy, there must be mutual respect between them. Arguing is fine. In fact it's healthy to fight, as long as there's good co9mmunication between the couple, and respecting each other if disagreements do arise. Providing support, whether its emotional security, or supporting their dreams can help reaffirm their own self-worth and self esteem too. Affection and passion :) (I do write romance) is important too becuase that can cross over in helping to improve communciation.

And that's the thing. As romance writers we also know the reality of life, we can be quite cyncial, but we have to believe there is a way forward.

So we have to make sure our characters talk, that their words arent' just going round in circles. They have to find the way forward.

Author Sandra Edwards writes...For me an HEA happens when two people love and respect each other enough to make the commitment to spen their lives together.

Writer friend, Helen, says...I bleieve in a Happy Ever After. When someone asks me what is the essential ingredient I immediately say trust. Specifically, emotional trust. When you invest yourself in someone and they in you, the true integrity of that relationship is shown by how much you can trust them to love, honor and not to judge you in your successes, or failures.

Love that phrase...EMOTIONAL TRUST. And integrity and honor. They are true chracteriestics we need to bring to our characters as their stories unfold. Without them they they may not be able to have their own happy endings.

Writing happy endings is so rewarding. In HE'S THE ONE I was blown away by the remarkable change in my alpha male I remember re-reading it after having left it for a few weeks, and saying ..."Oh, god, I wrote that." It was so exciting, so romantic and beautiful. I was very proud of myself as a writer.

Author Nalini Singh's article says to punish your characters, and also to find five things that they don't want to happen/or do, and then make it happen. A hero I have just written would never have cried. I made him cry as he realised he had lost the woman he loved, and it was too late. For me that worked. Another scene i was so very proud of.

Happy ever after stories take us out of the real world for just a moment. They revive our spirit and give us hope and help us believe that all will be okay, in the end. It has to be, because hope is what fuels us forward, just as it does for our characters.

And so with that, dear readers, Iwill leave you to your happy endings...

And happy reading

Read an excerpt of Jane's new release - HE'S THE ONE

Friday, May 21, 2010

Sometimes We Need A Laugh

Today, Kitty Cahill was to be our guest blogger. Due to matters out of her control, there's a hitch in her book release today. So, we're postponing her post until she has a definite go ahead. We'd rather celebrate her release with her rather than tell you it's coming.

So, here's some humor to bring a little laughter into your Friday.

In my family, many comedians are watched and many I find less than funny while the guys hoot and holler, but my favorite is Jeff Dunham. I love Walter! Achmed the Dead Terrorist cracks me up, too. I enjoyed Jeff and Walter before they became so popular and added onto the family. And, Jeff isn't too shabby to look at either.

I hope you enjoy!


Monday, May 17, 2010

Where To Find Romance--In a Book, That Is

No, I'm not conducting a dating service.

I'm discussing mainstream romance novels, and the different genres available.

Ah, romance--a story of a man and a woman and a relationship with a happy ending. Can anything else compare? Of course not. That's why romance is the best-selling genre in the mass-market paperback area. Look how much space romance takes up in your favorite bookstore. Or even better, in your favorite e-bookstore, like The Wild Rose Press (TWRP). Shameless promotion here, TWRP is my publisher.

Where to find your romance? First, pick your time: past, present or future. Well, you didn't need me for that breakdown. The present is, well, the present, but there can be as many futures as an author can dream up. As for the past…now, here is a treasure trove, and my area. Historical is any time before the present: Egyptian, Roman, Viking, medieval, Elizabethan, Georgian, Regency, Victorian, Edwardian, up to about World War II or later, depending on the publisher.

Then there are the types of stories you can locate in each time. From the Romance Writers of America (RWA), here are the categories for the RITA and Golden Heart contests: Suspense/Adventure, Historical, Inspirational, Novel with Strong Romantic Elements, Paranormal, Regency Historical, Romantic Suspense and Young Adult.

Next up are the heat levels. These stories are romances, so there will be some physical love…or not. I direct you to the heat levels at TWRP, from sweet (all sex behind closed doors), through sensual, spicy, hot, to GLV (erotic romance). My Regency novellas (shameless promotion again), Lady of the Stars, Pumpkinnapper and Mistletoe Everywhere (coming November 3, 2010), fall into the sensual level, which is about mainstream.

And finally, location. Location, location, location may be the mantra for real estate, but not necessarily for romance. Most historicals are set in Europe, but everything can exist anywhere.

Future vampires, historical werewolves, first loves and later loves, adventure, suspense, mystery and religion, on earth and across the universe, all wrapped up in romance. Oh, my.

Thank you all,
Linda Banche
Regency romance--most with humor, some with fantasy, and occasionally a paranormal

Friday, May 14, 2010

My Top Ten Romantic Movies

10. East of Eden--1955 film about a wayward young man who, while seeking his own identity, vies for the affection of his Bible-toting father against his favored brother. It is a retelling of the biblical story of Cain and Abel. The film stars Julie Harris, James Dean (in his first major screen role), and Raymond Massey. Of the three films in which James Dean played the male lead, this is the only one released during his lifetime. ***Romance is not the focus of the movie, but Dean’s and Harris’s characters share a deep connection. Very emotional and touching movie.***

9. An Affair to Remember is a 1957 film starring Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr. It is considered to be the most romantic film of all time. Contributing to the success of the 1957 film is its theme song "An Affair to Remember” (Our Love Affair). ***I liked this one a lot—it leaves the viewer a little melancholy, though.***

8. Titanic is a 1997 American epic/disaster/romantic/drama film directed, written, co-produced, and co-edited by James Cameron about the sinking of the RMS Titanic. It stars Leonardo DiCaprio as Jack Dawson and Kate Winslet as Rose DeWitt Bukater, two members of different social classes who fall in love aboard the ill-fated maiden voyage of the ship. ***I’ve watched this movie three times. I especially love the song “My Heart will Go On” sung by Celine Dion.***

7. The Last Time I Saw Paris—a 1954 romantic drama. The film starred Elizabeth Taylor and Van Johnson, with Walter Pidgeon, Donna Reed, Eva Gabor, Kurt Kasznar, George Dolenz, Sandy Descher and Roger Moore. This epic romance is a captivating blend of Parisian expatriate high society and the struggles in post-WWII Europe. When war writer and veteran Charles Wills (Van Johnson) meets the lovely and restless Helen Ellswirth (Elizabeth Taylor) in Paris after the war, the two strangers instantly fall in love, basking in the glory of a free Paris. Charles and Helen get married and have a family, but life becomes more difficult as they continue on with their free-spirited and reckless adventure. ***Like so many romantic movies of the 50’s, there’s a touch of sadness about this movie. The ending? Take a hankie.***
6. Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing is an American 1955 drama-romance film. Set in 1949-50 Hong Kong, it tells the story of a married, but separated, American reporter (played by William Holden), who falls in love with a Eurasian doctor (played by Jennifer Jones), only to encounter prejudice from her family and from Hong Kong society.***I love this one because my husband took me to see it on our very first date. We were very young!***
5. Splendor in the Grass, an American movie from 1961, tells a story of sexual repression, young love, and heartbreak. Starring the very young and beautiful Natalie Wood and Warren Beatty. ***I loved this movie, but much of the movie is heartbreaking, until she finally finds love with another man.***

4. An Officer and a Gentleman is a 1982 American drama film that tells the story of a U.S. Navy aviation officer candidate who comes into conflict with the Marine Corps Gunnery Sergeant who trains him. It starred Richard Gere, Debra Winger and Louis Gossett, Jr. Richard Gere plays an enrollee at a Naval officers candidate school, Debra Winger is the woman who loves him, and the secondary characters are great. ***Of course, I loved this one. A very young Richard Gere and a story with a HEA.***

3. OPEN RANGE is a powerfully gripping story, and stars Robert Duvall, Kevin Costner, and Annette Bening . A group of free grazers, four men trying to escape their past, are driving cattle and living off the land on the open range. When a ruthless, evil rancher tries to run them out of town, the men's peaceful existence takes a tumultuous turn and ends in the grittiest, most explosive gunfight on film as two men battle a town for honor, justice, and a way of life that's quickly disappearing. ***The tender love story between Charlie (Costner) and Sue (Bening) is so touching in its simplicity, I remember exact scenes.***
2. Doctor Zhivago-1965--a sweeping movie about a doctor-poet in revolutionary Russia, starring Omar Sharif and Julie Christie. The screen is crammed with spectacle, and the theme song “Lara’s Theme” has been played countless times. ***One of my all-time favorite movies. Yes, it maudlin and soap-operish, and some characters seemed to be mis-cast, but still, the movie is wonderful. ***

1. MY NUMBER ONE MOVIE: PICNIC--An odd choice, maybe, but this is one movie that has stuck in my head all these years. I’ve watched it too many times to count, and if it appeared on AMC or TCM, I’d drop everything and watch it again. Picnic is a 1955 film which tells the story of an ex-college football star turned drifter who arrives in a small Kansas town on Labor Day and is drawn to a girl who is already spoken for. With a cast headed by William Holden, Kim Novak, Susan Strasberg, Cliff Robertson, Arthur O'Connell, Nick Adams, Betty Field, Rosalind Russell and Verna Felton, the film is sometimes cited as a richly detailed snapshot of life in the American Midwest during the 1950s. ***I give it first place because every time I’ve watched it, I noticed something different. Very poignant and fulfilling in the end.***

Celia Yeary
Romance…and a little bit o' Texas
TEXAS BLUE-eBook and Print
Published by: The Wild Rose Press

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

What's Happily Ever After without strawberries? Red, sweet, succulent, lick-your- lips juicy berries are the best way to top off a rewarding romance. Strawberries and the happily ever after blog are a match made in food heaven.

So where do all those strawberries come from? The California Strawberry Festival! No, I'm serious... (Steph's Muse, Juliet, suspiciously eyes her author.) The California Strawberry Festival is stuffed to the bushels with strawberries. You can find these overflowing baskets in Oxnard, California near the coast in Ventura County. Ventura County is very agricultural and home to some of the state's largest strawberry farms. This year, the festival's 27th celebration will be held on May 15th and 16th.

There's all kinds of juicy fun at the festival. My muse, Juliet, loves to flitter around the arts and crafts section looking for candles, homemade bath bubbles, and hand made jewelry. Um, I wonder what she has in mind?

My husband, Brent, usually grabs a mug of strawberry beer and a bundle of hay in the live band section. His favorite is the Van Halen cover band. (He's stuck in the 80's just like me, but is afraid to admit it.)

I usually snatch up the boys and go trolling the snack section. We all share a plate of strawberry nachos, a couple of chocolate strawberries and a plastic cup or two of strawberry smoothies. Let me tell you, the best kiss I ever got was from my 3 year old when his little red lips were wet with strawberry smoothie. (It was also the messiest!)

As the boys and I are savoring our chocolate covered delight, my husband goes on the hunt for food like the mighty hunter he is. When he finally finds us, he usually has a plate of garlic fries, strawberry pizza, grilled corn and a couple of tacos. Just looking at his plate packs on five pounds. No wonder Juliet hangs out at the arts & crafts.

When Brent finally consumes that last fry, we head on over to "Strawberryland" so the boys can get on a couple of rides. Juliet usually hooks up with us after her shopping spree. Brent gets stuck with the bags while her and I hang out with our childhood idol – Strawberry Shortcake. Andrew won't pose with her, though. He says, "Aw, Mom, she's a giiiirl..."

Before we go, I have to troll the souvenir stand. After all, I want something to remind me of all the fun I had. A perishable little juicy fruit is here today, gone tomorrow.

The festival posters are my favorite souvenir. They're red, but without a mess. I slap a frame on that poster and I have wall decoration for Juliet's bathroom.
On the way out, Juliet tries to sneak in a bite sized shortcake with berries, but she never fools me. She always forgets the whipped cream on her nose.
Hey, What's a happening without a couple of strawberries to top it off? Didn't Pretty Woman have a couple of strawberries at the end? Thanks for letting me visit Happily Ever After.

Here's a recipe for Strawberry Pizza: (taken from the Official California Strawberry Festival Website)


Every year, the longest line at the California Strawberry Festival non-profit food booths is the one for the Rio Mesa High School Strawberry Pizza. That pizza recipe is a coveted secret, but here is a great substitute courtesy of a proud Rio Mesa alum:

• 1 quart fresh, ripe California strawberries, sliced
• 8 oz. Strawberry preserves
• 8 oz. Cream cheese, softened
• 1/4 cup water
• 2 eggs
• 1/2 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
• 1 tsp. cinnamon
• 1/2 cup crushed pecans
• 1/2 tsp. vanilla
• 1/2 cup sugar
• Cointreau liqueur, optional
• 1 package yellow cake mix

In a large mixing bowl, combine the yellow cake mix, water, eggs, brown sugar, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon and pecans. Mix well. Divide mixture between two foil lined pizza pans, pressing to form a crust. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Let stand until cool and separate crusts from foil. Combine cream cheese, vanilla, sugar and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon. Using an electric mixer, beat until creamy. Spread mixture on cool crusts. Arrange strawberries on cream cheese layer. Warm preserves in a saucepan. Add enough Cointreau to thin to desired consistency and pour over berries. Serves 12.

For more delicious strawberry recipes, purchase the California Strawberry Festival Collector Recipe book, available Festival weekend at the souvenir tent. Link to the California Strawberry Festival page:

My short story, "Matchmaking Amusements" features a strawberry or two. You can find it in the "Be Mused" Anthology out with Desert Breeze Publishing. Here's a link: Amazon for Kindle:

Stephanie Burkhart

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Happy Mother's Day

Welcome to Happily Ever After Authors salute to Moms.

We all know what moms are and what they've done for us all from our earliest memories. I think until I became a mom, I didn't know the spectrum they're put through. Not just that she was just one person taking care of three kids and a husband, but the emotional dumping ground we used her for inadditon to all the other jobs we held her responsible for. On my family Facebook page, I get posts from my favorite radio stations. One them asks really great questions daily. Yesterday, they asked what experience was most unexpected after we had our first child. Fatigue was the favored response, but you know for this frustrated perfectionists, I found trying to keep my son's to schedules -- so my response was 'to expect the unexpected'. Over the years, I've found this to be true with every aspect of motherhood.

At times, I've often wondered how my mom survived us. How my mother-in-law survived her four sons. How I've survived my four sons. It takes a lot of love, patience and emotional strength. Moms are due more than anyone could possibly give them. If you haven't told her you love her lately, do it now. If you haven't randomingly taken her flowers, don't wait until Mother's Day to do it. One of my sons does this. He'll stop and pick wildflowers and bring them to me for no reason. That's what moms love - knowing they are thought about when it's no special occasion. ~ Bekki Lynn


My mom is due every praise simply for raising all six of us kids during the fifties and sixties, especially given all of our individulistic natures. As a family, we had our rough times and our really good times. I mean it's definitely been a journey of intense learning experiences for all of us, and it continues.

I know my Mom has had her rewards. I also know she's had her severe heartaches. My youngest brother passed away about twelve years ago, but it still seems like yesterday, in a way. In these current times, I wish my siblings lived closer to Mom. I think we would all benefit from what we shared in the past as a family and how we could help each other now.

I love my mother to a depth that is difficult to express. That doesn't mean we always get along, or see eye to eye. However, our hearts know each other, and always will. ~ Savanna Kougar


She Was Organic When Organic Wasn’t Cool—My Mother (by Celia Yeary)

I grew up in the fifties when many convenient products began invading the grocery stores. No longer did a homemaker need to grow or kill everything she cooked, nor did she need to hoard seasonal food in the form of home canning and freezer packages. Some mothers, though, such as mine, would not let go of the feeling that one must store away all the food she possibly could. You never knew when a famine might hit the country. She planted a spring and autumn garden, and while the fresh food tasted wonderful, she still saved every bit of vegetable matter we couldn’t eat and either canned or froze it (we had two huge freezers.) If her garden didn’t produce enough, she drove out to farms where a person could pick a bushel of something, pay for it, and take it home to can or freeze. My little sister and I unwillingly accompanied her to pick string beans, corn, black-eyed peas, and okra. Then at home, we learned how to prepare each and watch the home canning process—when we’d rather be playing outside or reading a library book (no television then).

When I married, Mother visited one day and told me we should go out to old Mr. Peabody’s farm and pick a bushel of black-eyed peas. She informed me this was for my benefit, that I not only would learn how to home can by myself, I’d get to take all the jars of peas home with me. I told her, “No, I don’t think so. I’ll just buy black-eyed peas in a can, so I don’t need to know how to use the canner.” She became very angry with me and said, “One day you’ll regret this, when you’ll need to can, and you won’t know how.” I retorted, “Well, I’m a fast learner. I bet I could figure it out.”

I have regretted that and wished many times I had allowed Mother to teach me one more thing—after all, she’d taught me everything I knew. Now, Mother is in a nursing home and doesn’t know me or my sisters or anyone she ever knew. Maybe she forgave me for being an impertinent daughter. I hope so. Celia Yeary


I was blessed with a young mom. Only twenty years separate us, where the friends I had as a child lived with the thrity+ year gaps. I was the envy of most, but had no clue why. I mean, a mom is a mom, right?


It didn't dawn on me until later in my life what all the other children saw in my mom. As a youngster, she was outside playing with my brother and me, catch, bike riding, snowball fights even when she hated the snow. She was vibrant and alive. We learned much about everything from my mom, but for me one memory sticks out the most. Her love of music. There was always music on in our house, from The Beatles to The Stones, Queen to Fleetwood Mac with a treasure trove of others to fill the gabs. It didn't matter what the occasion was, housecleaning or parties, there was always music.

As an adult, I've figured out her secret. In music there is joy and youth. Thanks Mom! ~Serena Shay~


It's eighteen months since my Mum passed away, and oh, I miss her so much.

She was the Mum who had all the answers, or so it seemed. She was the ‘how do I do....’ and the ‘what’s the best way to....’ She knew the secret ingredient, the best scone recipe, the reason my cakes dropped in the middle and the trick to fix it. And no matter how closely I followed the recipe, nothing I did ever tasted the way she made it. She knew the best cure for this, the medicine for that, and when to quit fighting whatever it was and retire to bed. She was the quiet advice, the reassurance, the comfort. She was the Mum who dispensed baby advice when I was at my new-mum wits’ end, and she was always right. And when my son became ill, she cried - because if I could have taken that from him and borne it myself, she would have taken it double and borne it for the two of us.

She was the book I might find useful, she was the local newspaper clipping, she was the keeper of my memories, she was the little bit of cash in the post 'just to tide you over.' She was the anchor, the tether, the knot that loosened gently over the years until it was time to set me free and watch me drift, bump, get a little damaged, till I learned how to fix stuff and fly on my own. She knew moving 500 miles from home was something I needed to do, was the only thing I should do. She didn’t cry, never said she’d miss me, never held me back, but let me go. And I know she cried quietly, alone, away from me, knowing that any doubt seeded in my mind might have pulled me away from the path I needed to take. I know she did this because now I’m a Mum too, and I know I would do the same. She taught me how to do that, just because she was there.

She was the Mum who urged me not to give up when the company I worked for pulled my job from under my feet and refused me compensation. She not only stood by my decision to fight, but was my strongest supporter. She cheered more than anyone when I won my case, because guess what? My Mum had known my worth better than I had.

In the last few years, she couldn’t hear so well. Face to face communications were hard enough, and telephone conversations were long gone. Her memory wasn’t what it was, and she’d get confused, repeat herself, ask the same questions over and over. She'd tell the same story she’d told five minutes before, and five minutes before that. It became more difficult to ask her a question – either she simply couldn’t hear, or she’d begin an answer and right away lose her already frayed strand of thought. She’d confuse one grandchild with another, swap their names at random, forget who she’d seen and when, who'd done what, who was who. In the end, all you could do was smile and pretend you were hearing a story worn through from the 100th time of telling for the first time, and react accordingly. Each time I left it broke my heart because it might have been the last time I’d see her.

Then it was the last time, and suddenly - oh, so suddenly - she wasn't there any more. I remember opening windows the morning she died, though I'm still not sure exactly why. Something to do with letting something out and letting something else in. A part of her had gone forever, but some part of her that hadn’t been there before moved into me, and it will always be there.

I’m not used to it. I'm not used to not being able to ask her things, to share things with her. I'm not used to not being able to pick up the phone and tell her our news. I can't show her the photos of her grandson in his karate uniform, her grand-daughter's first stage show, and that's tough. But I do have mementos and memories, and all the stories she told me as a child to tell to my children in turn. I guess now, that's what counts. I miss her, but I'm so glad she was here for a while.

I love you, Mum. Always will. Happy Mothers' Day.
Jane Richardson


Thursday, May 6, 2010

Romance, the Future of Promo by an Un-Tekki

Hi, romance novel lovers, this is an impromptu post brought on by a discussion of *what else?* how to promo in effective ways that reach the readers who are interested in reading your particular romance subgenres, or those readers who would simply enjoy the stories you write.

It’s the wild, wild west of promo-ing out there, right now, especially for those of us who pen for the small print/ebook publishers. Blogs, Yahoo chat loops, Twitter, sites like THE ROMANCE STUDIO and COFFEE TIME ROMANCE, and many other venues I’m not familiar with. Remember, I am basically an Un-Tekki kind of gal, in that I can’t keep up with the latest and greatest the web or the internet has to offer, as far as promo-ing, or anything else, for that matter.

Heck, I can’t keep up with the good opportunities out there that I’d like to take advantage of... ya know, because I’m penning that next story for submission ~ which I should be doing now instead of writing this blog.

However, I thought I’d let the psychic in me, some prefer the term intuitive, have it’s say... meaning, I have no clue what’s about to come forth. I’m just going to let it flow.

So, what are the best ways to continue promo-ing in the future? What will the opportunities be in the future? That is, how do authors connect with those readers who want to read their books? Because now is the time of the niche market ~ it’s the new frontier and the settlers are moving in.

Mass market, as it has been, is dying. Truth is, the romance novel superstar authors of today, will become a thing of the past. Niche stars will and are emerging. It’s a greater bigger galaxy for the romance novel, just like Hubble is showing us a greater bigger galaxy-filled universe. This, however, like most transitions, is both a gradual change and an eclipse of change. And, how it all plays out depends on many evolving factors... all of which are subject to change.

Yeah, that gives us all a clear picture, doesn’t it?

Okay, placing the magic hat on... given this is the Aquarian age, community is a dominant force in what occurs from now on. The more authors of a specific subgenre flock together, such as those of us at HAPPILY EVER AFTER, the stronger they will ALL be in selling their books. It’s like a cyber boutique, or the particular styles of romance are offered in an intimate webbie setting that reflects the mood, and the atmosphere of the genres.

One easy example of this is vampire romance, the sites that are devoted to this genre are obviously designed in a specific *bloodlust* manner, just as Western Romance sites have those sexy cowboys, maybe spurs and leather saddles. You get the picture. Yes, this is an obvious way of promo-ing and is being done, created more and more often. However, in the future, this becomes far more crucial and becomes like the change from black and white movies to technicolor.

Or, perhaps, think in terms of a Renaissance Faire. If you’ve ever been, it’s a celebration, it’s the type of entertainment that is liberating to the soul and spirit. And, consider all those vendors hawking their wares. As authors, we’re hawking our wares. The more we appeal to a reader by what we have to offer, the more likely a sale will be made.

Folks, readers, want to wander around in a cyber Renaissance Faire of reading goods. They want to enjoy their day and see what the world has to offer them. Or, they want to know where the booth is, enjoy their visit, find and purchase the books they want ~ in the most convenient way possible. Of course, the more they enjoy the experience and the read, the more they will return.

The idea of the everything-available shopping mall will be replaced by a Faire-like atmosphere. And, what will also be crucial is reliability. That is, a consistent, good service environment, a place the reader can count on to be there like a favorite haunt or a good-times’ tavern. Often, folks just like to rummage around in their favorite stores, a pleasure unto itself. And, more often than not, they’ll purchase because they’ll discover that irresistible read.

As the world closes down, with less and less opportunity to travel and explore our beautiful planet, the yearning to travel, to escape will only increase. Books, your books, could offer that escape. In fact, the demand for escape fiction of all kinds will only skyrocket.

As you peer into the future of promo-ing, what do you see, feel? What are the opportunities you sense on the horizon?


May your romance reading dreams come true...

Savanna Kougar ~ Run on the Wild Side of Romance ~