02-18 Sue Ward Drake - HOW TO KEEP THE FAITH

Monday, February 20, 2017

Have You Read Beverly Jenkins' Breathless?

by Michelle Monkou

Breathless was released this month and coincidently it's also the author Beverly Jenkins's birth month -- HAPPY BIRTHDAY.

So back to my question, have you read Breathless?

Yes? Wonderful. Be sure to share your thoughts and recommendation with friends.

No? Then hopefully I can sway you to hop right into Beverly's book for an epic romantic journey steeped in history, blended with suspense, and underscored by a beautiful courtship.

Romance Writers of America (RWA) recently asked the question on Twitter: Why do you read romance?

My answer: Breathless! When a great romance is built on a robust, meaty plot, with complex and compelling characters, and driven by really interesting historical details that enhance, but also provide dark conflict, these elements are all the reasons I celebrate reading a romance book.

As such, Author Beverly Jenkins once again has written another romantic masterpiece.

This historical romance set in the Old West with its tarnished hero--Kent Randolph--and career-driven heroine--Portia Carmichael have reunited after many years. She's all grown up and is serious about what she wants in life.

For her, there is no room for relationships and she won't trust the shaky ground of falling in love. Meanwhile Kent has a checkered past, as a ladies' man, college dropout, and a former prisoner making him an ineligible bachelor for any respectable young woman like Portia.

Trademark of Jenkins' stories is the wonderful all-encompassing family structure that bolsters the main characters. She throws open the doors and welcomes you in to celebrate with the family, friends, and even neighbors and citizens of the towns and cities of her characters' worlds.

Make no mistake, this is not a romantic fluff story. Not in the least, the backdrop of the times, its limitations, its complexities, its opportunities are expertly woven through this tight quilt of lives.

From the first page of the Prologue, we climb aboard. We become invested. We care about these people, their circumstances, and their future. Danger is always present, sometimes fully in the couple's lives pushing them in one direction or another, maybe even away from each other.

The tiny bud of love that is so natural and beautiful between them must push through all the obstacles that can stifle and allow it to wither and disappear. Jenkins' writes bold and imperfect souls who can be fearless, yet humble and strong, yet compassionate. And despite all stories coming to an end with the last page and its last words, we can't stop caring about Kent and Portia.

We don't want to stop caring and celebrating for them.

"In romance novels, love always wins" -- RWA

Saturday, February 18, 2017


Sue Ward Drake drew on her experiences as a hearing-impaired woman to write her hearing-impaired heroine in her soon-to-be-released romantic suspense novel, HEAR NO EVIL.  ~Sarah and Judith~
(Photo by Mari Corn)
Now I know it’s way past New Year’s Resolution time, but that’s essentially what this little piece is about. How to keep the faith, when it’s easier to give up.

Because you’ve been trying to lose weight, or graduate from college, or get fit, or write a novel for what seems like forever. Should you forget about achieving the impossible or plug on?

When I published my first book, a romantic suspense, HEAR NO EVIL, with Silhouette Intimate Moments, I could not contain my excitement. Then I discovered I had to turn in more ideas. They weren’t happy with just the one! Imagine.

I slaved away on several proposals, each one I was sure worse than the one before. Instead of sending them into my editor, I changed my genre and flamed out. There were extenuating circumstances, or so I tell myself. I recently got back my rights and will self-publish HEAR NO EVIL again within the next few months.

I am currently on my second iteration as professional writer, but I can never have enough inspiration. 

Tips and tricks on how to stay motivated—at whatever:
  • --Practice affirmations. Instead of plugging into music at the gym—an impossibility since I am nearly deaf—I recite affirmations. I am creating/living the life I want. Because I am a talented writer, I easily make my own opportunities. I easily wear a size 10, etc.
  • --Visualize success. An oldie but goldie. Make a vision board if you have to, or just write down what you want. Henriette Anne Klauser wrote a book on how she fulfilled her dreams this way.
  • --Clip articles from magazines and newspapers and review the folder along with one for story ideas if you’re a writer. I have one from the New York Times wedding section about a bride who when she wanted something would go after it with a “sort of mythological force.” 

Newspaper syndicated columnist Jeff Herring wrote about “destination thinking.” He talks about not making excuses, about reminding yourself daily why you want this particular destination, about breaking down the journey into small enough steps so you begin to see them as manageable.

 Remember there’s an unlimited supply of success. I particularly like this quote of Nora Roberts, who got her start as a Silhouette author.

“If you don’t go after what you want, you’ll never get it. If you don’t ask, the answer is always no. If you don’t step forward, you’re always in the same place.”

I hope you will continue with whatever you resolved that night at the turn of the year with a champagne glass in your hand. You can do it. ~ Sue Ward Drake

Please watch my TWITTER account for the date of my re-release of HEAR NO EVIL, a story with a hearing-impaired heroine. 

Sue Ward Drake has lived in many places: New Orleans before and after Hurricane Katrina, Greece, Baltimore, Nevada, and Germany. All are fodder for her stories. Her hobbies include hiking, travel, cooking low density meals and, of course, reading. She is a member of Romance Writers of America, Thriller Writers International, and Mystery Writers of America.

Friday, February 17, 2017

My Most Romantic... #romance

Hi, I'm Pippa Jay - author of scifi and supernatural stories to engage your emotions. For a romance author, I wouldn't say I'm particularly romantic in real life, and not particularly good at making romantic gestures. What I personally find romantic might seem positively weird to others.

For instance, my husband's latest gesture might not seem romantic to some. I guess it depends on your point of view. Recently he bought me home three large sections of leathery looking, foam backed material he'd seen in a skip. How is that possibly romantic? Well, last year I really got into cosplay - designing, making and wearing outfits made to replicate costumes from films, particularly Star Wars. He picked up the stuff in the skip because he thought I might find a use for in in future cosplay making. That, to me, proves he's taken note of my latest passion and thought about how much I enjoy it and how something could be potentially useful to me. While I really appreciate the odd bunch of flowers (Stargazer lilies for preference), that bundle of fabric was a far more individual and thoughtful gift.
And I'm still a romantic at heart, now more than ever. Lately I've been watching a lot of dating shows. Something about watching people take their first steps into falling in love is giving me hope at a time when the current politics of the world seem very much doom and gloom. But again, some of my romantic viewing might seem a bit odd. One of my favourite romantic films is Warm Bodies, involving zombies. Not the genre that immediately conjures ideas of love and romance maybe, but trust me - one of the cutest romances I've ever seen. In the film, an odd zombie called R falls for a human, and while his initial response is to essentially kidnap her, he spends the rest of the story trying to show her zombies need love too, from giving her a bottle of beer even though he doesn't understand the need for it, to venturing into her human city just to see her, at the very literal risk of having his head blown off by the inhabitants.

To me, romance is certainly more than flowers and chocolates on one day of the year (though that certainly doesn't hurt). To quote my main hero Keir, who doesn't consider himself a man of romantic gestures either...

"To me, it is not about trying to be romantic," he assures me, very serious. "It is about being honest in your feelings when you love and care for someone. Keeping a promise. Respecting them. If that is being romantic..." He shrugs. "Then perhaps I am."

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Romance is simple as meatloaf

Hubby and I have been married for what seems like forever and we both tend to laugh when folks stress themselves out about Valentine’s Day and romance. What these people don’t realize is that something as simple as a dried out, heart-shaped meatloaf can make a memory that lasts a lifetime.

Hubby and I met during the summer of ’79. He asked me to marry him on our second date and three months later, I had a wedding ring on my eighteen-year-old finger and was setting up house in a tiny apartment close to the Air Force base where Hubby was stationed.

As the saying goes here in the south, we were poor as church mice. Military pay wasn’t much but looking back, it didn’t matter. We had everything we needed and were too young and dumb to realize otherwise.

At our one month of marriage mark, I decided a romantic evening was in order. Since the date fell right before a payday, pickings were pretty slim for the special dinner but luckily, we had one package of hamburger meat left in the freezer. “Perfect,” I thought. “I’ll make a heart-shaped meatloaf.”

I wasn’t much of a cook back then. While growing up, the only time I’d been allowed in the kitchen was when it was time to wash the dishes or set the table. Anything else and I was just in the way or getting on my mother’s nerves. So…my cooking skills were a work in progress. Armed with a ginormous copy of THE JOY OF COOKING, I figured meal-preparation would be a learn as you go kind of deal.

However, as I soon discovered, I kind of overlooked the fine print in the book that said cooking times could vary because oven temps were all the same. That heart-shaped meatloaf came out black as coal and harder than a brick bat. I nearly panicked. There wasn’t another scrap of food in the house and I’d already told hubby I was planning a special night for us and a surprise for supper. So far, the only surprise about supper was that the smoke alarm hadn’t gone off.

I just knew Hubby was going to think, “What in the hell have I gotten myself into with this one.” Or even worse: he’d laugh at me and tell his friends about what an idiot he’d married.

As it turned out, he didn’t laugh or crack a single joke when I brought that heart-shaped charcoal briquette to the dinner table. He informed me that it was awesome then proceeded to flip it over so we could attack the charred beast from the underbelly and dig out whatever edible meat that might be in the center.

We both ended up laughing over that rock-hard heart of hamburger meat. And that night, so long ago, is still one we talk about and enjoy remembering. So, don’t sweat about being romantic. Romance doesn’t have to be fancy or expensive. All you really need is love—and maybe a chisel for the meatloaf.

What do you think? What do you need for romance?

Maeve’s Bio:

No one has the power to shatter your dreams unless you give it to them. That’s Maeve Greyson’s mantra. She and her hubby of nearly thirty-eight years were stationed all over the place with the U.S. Air Force before returning to their five-acre wood in rural Kentucky where she writes about her beloved Highlanders and the sassy women who tame them.

Find out more about Maeve at these places on the web and check out her latest series, Highland Hearts:

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

True Love Stories Never Have Endings

by Madelle Morgan

The title is a beautiful quote from Richard Bach. Even if sweet love sours and we move on to new partners, I believe that the experience of loving someone expands our hearts' ability to love and appreciate love.

February 14 is the day couples traditionally express their love with flowers, cards, chocolate, jewelry, and/or a romantic dinner.

Why Chocolate?

The tradition of giving a sweetheart chocolate on Valentine's Day originated with Richard Cadbury in the 1840s.

In 1861, Richard Cadbury created the first ever heart-shaped box for Valentine's Day. The chemical phenylethylamine in chocolate (stimulates) feelings of excitement, attraction, and even pleasure. (Source: The Happy Chocolatier)

Why February 14th?

I gleaned these facts from History.com:

The Christian church may have decided to place St. Valentine's feast day in the middle of February in an effort to "Christianize" the pagan celebration of Lupercalia. Lupercalia survived the initial rise of Christianity but was outlawed at the end of the 5th century, when Pope Gelasius declared February 14 St. Valentine's Day.

The Catholic Church recognizes at least three different saints named Valentine or Valentinus, all of whom were martyred.

During the Middle Ages, it was commonly believed in France and England that February 14 was the beginning of birds' mating season, which added to the idea that the middle of February should be a day for romance. - Hey, we should be eating egg-shaped chocolates for Valentine's Day instead of at Easter!

The oldest known valentine still in existence today was a poem written in 1415 by Charles, Duke of Orleans, to his wife while he was imprisoned in the Tower of London.

Marry Me, Sweetheart

Many proposals occur on the most romantic day of the year, as do winter weddings. 

Hmmm.... Do you think men might have an ulterior motive for choosing February 14 for their wedding day?

Here's an excerpt from my romantic comedy Caught on Camera that eavesdrops on the groomsmen's conversation as they wait for the bride to appear.

Halden and the groomsmen wore dark formal tailcoats, striped gray trousers, white shirts, and lavender cravats and waistcoats.

At intervals during the interminable delay, they bemoaned the wedding planner’s order for traditional English attire. Who knew it’d be as hot as hell in June in the Great White North? Apparently not the wedding planner or Candy. Or more likely they didn’t care. To them, it was all about appearances.

“She’s twenty minutes late.” Garth inserted one finger inside his collar and tugged at the garment constricting his neck. “If I ever get married, it’ll be in January.”

“Make it February fourteenth,” Mickey muttered out the side of his mouth. “Then you’ll never forget your wedding anniversary.”

“Good tip. You always think ahead, Mick.” Garth fist-bumped him behind Wade’s back.

Did you receive a proposal or get married on Valentine's Day?


Madelle is the Canadian author of two novels, Diamond Hunter, a romantic suspense, and Caught on Camera, Hollywood in Muskoka series, Book 1, a New Adult romantic comedy.

She tweets and posts on the topics of writing & publishing, filmmaking, dogs, and the settings for her stories.

Subscribe to her blog at MadelleMorgan.com and follow her on  TwitterFacebookGoodreadsPinterest, and Wattpad. 

Monday, February 13, 2017

Let me Count the Ways!

 By:Marcia King-Gamble

Happy Valentine’s Day reader friends! 

It’s February and the expectations of romance are sky high. Will he say it with flowers, candy or a two carat, gold ring?

As a romance author, I’m supposed to believe that tangibles are what romances are made of.  While rose petals spread on satin sheets are lovely, they’re hardly practical and dang they can be uncomfortable. We all know that expensive meals while appreciated, don't always buy true love. Yes, I’m what you call a romantic realist and I'm a true subscriber to show me, don’t tell me, or buy me. 

You can keep your roses, expensive dinners and horse carriage rides, if you don't make the time to spend with me.  I'd rather have the magic moments we create, and simplicity is often the key. 

Those special moments can be created in a kitchen making dinner together. They can take the form of a walk on the beach, or a shared ice cream cone at a sidewalk cafe.  They can be quiet moments curled up on a sofa together, reading out loud. It can be a simple back rub meant to relieve the tension of a stressful day. It can take the form of a glance across a crowded room; a silent acknowledgement that you have my back.  

Years ago, a friend and I spent ten days in Asia. We’d traveled to Tokyo and Bangkok, and by the time we got to Hong Kong, jet lag had set in. Yet we were determined to go out on the town. The long and short of it, we ended up at an upscale restaurant with a dance band. In a matter of minutes, a table of mostly men asked us to join them, and we were being twirled around the dance floor.

One man, a dreamy, silver-tongued Australian, we’ll call X, ended up being my dance partner for most of the night.  After the place closed, we talked for hours and walked the Hong Kong waterfront. As the sun came up, we exchanged business cards and he walked me to my hotel. I figured that was that.

Two hours later, there was a knock on my door. He’d arrived flowers in hand to take me to breakfast. We kept in touch by mail, (email was not an option back then,) and phone. We did see each other again, and while the relationship didn’t last, some very special memories were made. These are the memories I tap into when  I write.

Years later, I got asked to dinner in Chinatown, New York by another guy. I waited on line for what seemed hours to enter a dingy basement-style establishment. My first thoughts were this man doesn’t think highly of me. Then I took the first bite of food. Heaven! Our conversation took off, and by the end of the meal, doves were cooing from the ceiling. It turns out that the restaurant was  a favorite of his and he wanted to share it with me. It also turns out I later married that guy, and that restaurant (now very fancy) became our go to place.

My two favorite scenes in my recent novellas, Naughty in New York, and Loose in Las Vegas aren’t the obvious ones. In Naughty in New York, it’s not when Anderson  takes Theo on a carriage ride through Central Park, but the one when he follows her home after a party. Some might label it stalkerish, but heck, the man risked embarrassment to go after the woman he wanted. That's romantic to me.


In Loose in Las Vegas, my favorite romantic scene was not the New Year’s Eve scene as some might expect. It’s the one when Cato’s plane is delayed, and he races down to the parking lot to stop Lana from heading home. Cato’s not afraid to make a fool of himself and go after what he wants. 

While these examples may not be your standard or traditional ideas of romance, maybe you'll share yours with me. Is it the moment when he gives you jewelry, a card or candy? Or is it when he/she whispers those three memorable words in your ear? I Love You! 

 I'd love to hear!  Share! Share! Share!

About  Marcia King-Gamble: 

Romance writer, Marcia King-Gamble originally hails from a sunny Caribbean island where the sky and ocean are the same mesmerizing shade of blue. This former travel industry executive and current world traveler has spent most of life in the United States. A National Bestselling author, Marcia has penned over 34 books and 8 novellas. Her free time is spent at the gym, traveling to exotic locales, and caring for her animal family.

Visit Marcia at www.lovemarcia.com or “friend” her on Facebook: http://bit.ly/1MlnrIS


Saturday, February 11, 2017

Not According to Plans...by Roxanne Rustand

The guest blog theme this month is about working as an author with difficulties that can make writing truly challenging. I am so in awe of the amazing authors blogging on this topic, who have managed to overcome great obstacles to become prolific, wonderful writers--and very successfully, too.  I would be terribly presumptuous to say that my own experiences even hold a candle to theirs, but I’m going to share with you some of the more transient times when life can get in the way, for any of us.

When you start out wanting to be an author, you have no deadlines.  No pressure. You can take a year or two or three to write those first few chapters, while polishing every word until you think it gleams like the finest gem. Eventually, if you work hard and never, ever give up your dreams, open your heart to honest criticism and then go back and work even harder, those dreams may come true.

And then everything changes.  No endless dawdling.  You have an editor!  Deadlines!  And you learn that it’s absolutely imperative that you make every single deadline with professionalism. To make life difficult for your editors, who are often overworked and who have tight deadlines of their own, can mean losing your slot in the publisher’s line-up and perhaps, losing a chance for future contracts. 

Being a very Type A person, I accepted all of that with steely determination...but life happens. Family illnesses, deaths. Moving. Job changes. Births, raising kids.

For instance, on a day when I had one of those tight deadlines—with a lot of pages to write and less than two weeks to do them--I spied a spider.  Not just any old spider—a big, black, hairy creature, surely the size of those big grapes sold at Christmastime. Wolf spiders are especially creepy to me because they are so sentient—they clearly see me. Watch for my next move. Consider their next move. Then they race for cover. Which is fine if they are outside, but this behemoth was on the workbench downstairs.  Indoors.  Which meant I’d be seeing him again soon and he’d scare me all over again.

So...I admit it. I love all other animals.  Our kids grew up having every possible pet rodent, lizard, and even snakes in the house...one of which ended up with the stage name of Igor and appeared in my first published novel. 
But I hate spiders, and so on this day, I was mean.  He darted under the edge of a crumpled towel and I slammed my hand down—and promptly discovered that under that towel wasn’t just a spider, there was a piece of angle iron. I missed the spider (who was probably snickering as he headed to my office for yet another surprise visit) and managed to break a bone in my hand.

I was so stressed, worrying about finishing my book, that I didn’t want to go to the doctor—much less accept that it needed a cast.  But there it was anyway, by the end of the day—hot pink and exactly what I didn’t need.

But....there’s Dragon, I thought.  Voila! The speech-to-text program for Macs had been getting a little better with each new version, and surely that would work!   It did...for a couple days.  Until I came down with a cold...which swiftly moved into severe bronchitis, then pneumonia.  With my asthma, simple colds often don’t stay simple at all.

And then—I got a severe case of laryngitis. 

Whatever Dragon’s wonderful capabilities, it could not read my thoughts, and that’s all I had left for the final week of my deadline. And thus I had to awkwardly, painstakingly, slowly type with my left hand. 

With several sleepless nights, I finally got that book done...but the experience did teach me some lessons.  Appreciate the capabilities I (usually) have.  Be kind to all of God’s creatures—even spiders. And never, ever let myself get behind on a deadline...just in case I do something stupid again!

Roxanne Rustand is an award-winning author of  thirty romance and romantic suspense novels. She also contributed to the serial mystery, ORCHESTRATED MURDER (a trade paperback for Iowa Public Radio.)  She now writes inspirational fiction, and is completely thrilled about this change in her career!

Out on their acreage, Roxanne and her husband have three horses, two border collie mixes (one  adopted from a shelter–a sweetie named Elmo), and an abundance of barn cats who much prefer cat food to mice. 

Roxanne would love to have you visit her website and blog at