02-17-18 – Judith Ashley – Winter Time and Loving Is Hard

Monday, February 19, 2018

Favorite Valentine’s Day Flicks by Kristin Wallace

Yes, Valentine’s Day is already over, but my blogging day on RTG happened to fall after the 14th. Still, I had a fun Valentine’s Day-themed idea so I’m running with it. My topic this month is…favorite romantic movies. Come to think of it, these movies can be watched all year long, so they still count.

Pride & Prejudice (any and all versions)

There are many version of this movie. The one you’re most likely to see on TV is the 2005 movie starring Keira Knightly as Elizabeth Bennett and Matthew Macfayden as Mr. Darcy. Some probably still prefer the classic BBC version starring our favorite ever Mr. Darcy, Colin Firth. I do like this newer movie adaptation, though. The chemistry between the two leads is pretty smoldering considering nothing really happens and we never get to see Matthew Macfayden rising out of a pond with a wet shirt clinging to his chest. I really believe his Darcy desires Lizzie, even down to him flexing his hand in reaction after he helps her into a carriage. Plus, it has hands-down the best hero entry in any movie ever, at the end where he strides across the field at dawn to claim his Lizzie.

Here it is in case you've forgotten how perfect this is...

10 Things I Hate About You

A teen movie that works on all fronts, mostly because of great performance of a young Heath Ledger. Julia Stiles is pretty good and I didn’t always like her as an actress. Of course, the story is a take on Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew set in a modern high school. It’s Health Ledger’s job to make Julia Stiles fall in love so her younger sister can go out on a date. Here’s the best quote and the reason this movie made the list. “I hate the way you talk to me, and the way you cut your hair. I hate the way you drive my car. I hate it when you stare. I hate your big dumb combat boots, and the way you read my mind. I hate you so much it makes me sick; it even makes me rhyme. I hate it, I hate the way you’re always right. I hate it when you lie. I hate it when you make me laugh, even worse when you make me cry. I hate it when you’re not around, and the fact that you didn’t call. But mostly I hate the way I don’t hate you. Not even close, not even a little bit, not even at all.” —Kat (Stiles)  THAT’S GOOD WRITING!

When Harry Met Sally

Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan come together for one of the best on-screen pairings ever. Harry and Sally meet when they share a ride to New York after college. She believes men and women can’t be friends because of the sex thing. She disagrees. They part, but eventually meet again. They try to be friends…but…well you have to watch to again to see what happens. This is where the classis “I’ll have what she’s having” line came from. It also features the best breakdown ever, when Sally falls apart after breaking up with her boyfriend and realizing “I’m gonna be forty…” in EIGHT YEARS.

Pretty Woman

Is it realistic in the least? No… Is it fun anyway? Yes. Julia Roberts became a star because of this movie and with good reason. Every moment in this movie is pretty perfect, from the aaaammmazng red dress, the revenge shopping on Rodeo Drive, to the end when the princess “rescues him right back.”

Say Anything

An 80s classic. Lloyd Dobler (John Cusack) is in love with the perfect Diane Court (Ione Sky - whatever happened to her?). This made the list because Lloyd brings us the classic ‘holding a boom box over his head while blasting Peter Gabriel’s “In Your Eyes” scene. 

Dirty Dancing

If last year’s disastrous attempt at a Dirty Dancing update starring the girl who was once “Little Miss Sunshine” taught us anything it’s that you never mess with the original. Was the original Dirty Dancing the most perfect movie ever? Was the acting amazing? Maybe not, but it had Patrick Swayze and his hips. It also had monster chemistry between him and co-star Jennifer Grey, even though it’s been said they hated each other during the shooting of the movie. It also had the lift in the water…Patrick Swayze dancing…baby carrying a watermelon…Patrick Swayze dancing…that song...and she does the lift...and Patrick Swayze dancing!

 Sleepless In Seattle

If ever there was an onscreen romantic comedy couple that should’ve been a couple in real life (at least in our hearts) it’s Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan. This movie is a Christmas favorite, but also just a favorite any time. A lonely widower Sam tells a radio talk show how much he misses his deceased wife and every woman in America vows to help him get over his grief. Including Annie from Baltimore. I love, love, love this movie for all time. (Please ignore the translation to whatever language that is at the bottom. This was the only clip of this that I could find.)

Bridget Jones’s Diary

Renee Zellweger as Bridget Jones, who’s in love with her bad boy boss (Hugh Grant), but really belongs with Mr. Darcy (Colin Firth). It’s based on a really funny book, which in turn is based on Pride & Prejudice…hence Mr. Darcy…place by THE Mr. Darcy from the classic BBC version mentioned earlier. It’s funny and sweet and just plain perfect.

Four Weddings and a Funeral

This movie made Hugh Grant a star. It is funny, funny, funny A group of friends attend 4 weddings…and a funeral. In the process Hugh Grant falls in love with American Andie MacDowell. Each wedding is more ridiculous than the last. If you don’t laugh at Mr. Bean officiating a wedding and making a hash of it while uttering phrases like, “In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Goat” you just might be dead.

Now it's your turn. Do you have a favorite romantic movie? Share your pick here!

Kristin Wallace is the USA Today Best Selling Author of inspirational and contemporary romance, and women’s fiction filled with “Love, Laughter and a Leap of Faith”. She is the author of two best selling series, Shellwater Key Tales (sweet contemporary romance) and Covington Falls Chronicles (inspirational romance). Watch for her new series, launching this April, The Heiress Games. Book 1 (Least Likely Heiress) is available for pre-order now on Amazon, iTunes, Barnes & Noble and Kobo.

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Saturday, February 17, 2018

Winter Time and Loving is Hard

Judith Ashley is the author of The Sacred Women’s Circle series, romantic women’s fiction about the everyday issues women face.

I’m filling in for Delle Jacobs who was scheduled for today until one of the many bugs going around took her prisoner. Check out Delle’s website and her book His Majesty, The Prince of Toads that was going to be the subject of her post today. Also for an excellent post on winter settings and stories, check out Madelle Morgan’s Romancing The Genres’ post here.

Since it's been almost four years since Diana: The Queen of Swords and The Knight of Pentacles was published, to make sure I got the details right, I got out my copy and started reading. Diana’s story starts the afternoon of Winter Solstice. Her circle sister, Elizabeth (Book Two) was married that morning. The sun is shining through the mullioned windows, creating patterns on the carpet and rainbows on the walls.

A beautiful day by most people’s definition.

But not Diana.

It is a day of pain. A day of reckoning. A day for truth. And as many of us know, truth can be terrifying.

What happens when no matter your choice you are terrified?

How do you make a decision when you are frozen in fear?

When no matter which way you turn, you lose something or maybe someone?

What tips the balance is the pain she is in. Not only will it not change, it will only get worse and infect the relationships she was within her women’s circle.

Desperate for guidance, Diana turns to The Tarot. She knows about The Tarot but has never used it herself—until now. She does her first reading with her only deck, the Solstice gift from her Women’s Circle.

She focuses on what she wants while shuffling The Tarot deck. “Show me the way.”

What she sees in the cards changes her life.

But the path before her not only isn’t clear, what she can see is strewn with boulders. On top of that there is no guarantee that the loving, respectful relationship she wants is at the end. After all she is forty – who wants to be involved with someone her age who is used and abused?

While there is no guarantee she’ll find the love she wants if she leaves, there is a guarantee she’ll never have it if she stays.

She choose the possibility of love and moves forward onto a path that has boulders and other challenges she can’t even see. Onto the path that has no guarantees. Onto the path that just might lead her to the love she longs for.

Through the month of February, you can download Diana: The Queen of Swords and The Knight of Pentacles for free here. You will be added to my mailing list but can unsubscribe at any time. Already on my mailing list? Don't worry, ConvertKit makes sure you are only officially on it once.

When you sign up for my mailing list, you will receive a link to download your free digital copy of Lily: The Dragon and The Great Horned Owl.

If you click on this link and leave your first name and email address, I will send you a Free Copy of Staying Sane in a Crazy World before it's officially published. It isn’t a long book, under 10K words but it is chock full of information and ideas about how you can create your own personal Staying Sane Plan.

What’s the catch? I’d appreciate your writing a review and even telling your friends about these books but other than that, no catch. Be sure to mention in your review that you received the book free in return for an honest review.

Learn more about The Sacred Women’s Circle series at JudithAshleyRomance.com

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© 2018 Judith Ashley

Friday, February 16, 2018

How to Keep Going in Tough Times: Give Yourself A Break #amwriting

Hi, I'm Pippa Jay, author of SciFi and supernatural stories to engage your emotions.
I can't claim to be an advocate of writing through tough times. I didn't write anything much for almost a decade after my mum's death when I was nineteen, despite it having been my everyday escape and my way of processing real life until then.
Real life did get in the way after that: having to get a job to support myself as my dad had done a bunk to Australia before my mum died, finding somewhere to live, falling in love and getting married. It was only when my third child gained his feet and was old enough to keep up with his older siblings a bit that I found time to rediscover my passion (and boy, did I have a lot of catching up to do!).
But after five years of writing, editing, publishing and promoting, I found myself falling out of love with it all. I was burned out, the creative well drained, the enthusiasm gone. At first I panicked at my loss of writing libido, which only made it worse. 2017 came with a couple of health scares for myself and hubs, a shocker announcement from my eldest, and having to go back to a day job because my books weren't paying me a living wage. I was ready to throw in the towel, pull down my books, and forget about being an author.
I can't put my change of mind down to a single thing. I think the real life shake up hit me hard, but also forced me to take several steps back and reassess it all. Things calmed down, were resolved, and turned out to be far less serious. I'm actually enjoying my job (and I won't deny the regular pay packet has eased off the monetary worries). But I think it also showed me that what I really needed was a break. Time. A mental adjustment. I was tearing myself to pieces with the publishing and promotion, only to be disappointed by my book sales and ending up making a loss. I wanted to fall in love with writing again, and while I'm not 100% yet, I feel I'm getting there.
Pushing and writing through the bad times might well be the perfect solution for some (and kudos to them for it!), but I think there is also a need to step away from it as well. Writing can help with the bad things, but taking a break and focussing on your own care and mental wellbeing can be the right thing too. You have to find what works best for you.
So on the positive side, I wanted to share some of the things that have helped me when I want to write but need some inspiration.
1. Go for a walk. Even if it doesn't clear your mind, it's good exercise, gets you some fresh air, and let's face it writing is a pretty sedentary profession so it's good to get out and moving.
2. Listen to some music. I don't know about anyone else, but I'm addicted to my mp3 player and plug into it every moment I can. Probably not good for my hearing and definitely not good for editing, but almost essential when I write.
3. Sound effects. Just lately I've used YouTube for some background noises to set the scene. I was struggling with edits on an underwater scene, and a ten hour video of sounds of the reef definitely helped!
4. Cover art. When looking for inspiration, searching through premade cover art has sparked a couple of shorts (and given me incentive to finish so I can buy them). I know some authors love Pinterest  for this reason but I find it too much of a rabbit hole. I want inspiration, not total distraction!
My latest release, inspired by the cover image.
5. Watch your favourite TV series/films. Even if these don't inspire you, I find them comforting when I'm feeling low. After all, the creators probably had their struggles too!
But most of all, be kind to yourself. Self care should come first in times of trial, otherwise you can't be there for others...and that includes your characters.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Baby It's Cold Out

I'll be honest, I've never written a story sit in during the winter. While I find it beautiful....

I look at them and think baby, it's cold out. I want doughnuts and something hot...but not anything that involves another person. Why? I think because setting is a major part of my writing. I love to incorporate it. And winter... well winter is cold. I got nothing else. And I doubt the reader wants...they stepped outside into the cold. They walked to the car in the cold. The cold sucking the air from their lungs. You get the idea.

So while I love to photograph it...I'm not sure I'll ever write a story that features winter.

BUT let's talk about a story I did write ;-)  And it's coming out this month!!!!! The 'nice' me wrote it. The 'nice' me does sweet romances and fantasy.

Because it's being released in February... the month of  paczki's, Valentine doughnuts, and Chinese doughnuts, I'm having a give away over at my blog...https://lynceeshillard.wordpress.com

I'm giving away...journal kits...gift cards...and free copies of the story that goes with this amazing cover.

The Hollow King
Thought by most to be a simple child’s chant…
A king of no kingdom
Who walks among the living yet is void of all but breathe
He will be known as the Hollow King and will yield the Spector.
The Warrior Queen with compassion will fuel the Hope
The one who walks on two legs but has the soul of an animal will guide the Spector’s magic.
Together they will use the Spector of Hope to rid the land of evil.
Until creatures most thought to be make-believe start to hunt at night… Freed by Ovezara, a sorceress of what seems to be unlimited power.
Queen Taraly dying father’s command is to visit Grandmother June and learn what must be done to stop them.
King Crenshaw has lost his kingdom to the Ovezara and vows to have revenge.
Sancha returns from a hunting trip to find his father’s body torn to shreds by an evil so dark people refuse to acknowledge it.
The three unite to find the fabled Spector of Hope. As their quest starts to unfold, they realize that the line between good and evil is often blurred. What they believed to good is twisted. Can they locate the Spector of Hope in time to restore good and save all from the evil Ovezara unleashes?

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Indies & Libraries, Together In Midwinter

Hi everyone! I am YA, and now MG author Barbara Binns , writer of contemporary and realistic fiction for adolescents and teens. My tagline tells you what I am about - Stories of Real Boys Growing Into Real Men - and the people who love them.  My newest book, Courage, is middle grade fiction that will be coming out next summer from Harper Collins.

I spent the weekend at the American Library Association Midwinter conference in Denver, Colorado. I attended the conference as a retired (and current volunteer) library worker. And because, as a writer, I consider librarians a major part of my audience. (I feel the same about RTG readers, so please read all the way to the end for a surprise. Pretty please with sugar on it, as I used to say when I was young.)

Beautiful Downtown Denver
First, let me say, being “Mile High” is a real thing, not to be trifled with. The convention leaders greeted us with instructions on staying hydrated and other survival tips. Literally thousands of librarians crowded the city from all across the country, occupying almost a dozen hotels.

Librarians and vendors.

The exhibit hall was filled with companies that make every type of library tool. And all kinds of publishers. Not just the big five. There were dozens of small presses. And, a surprising number of Indie publishing houses.

It has been two years since I last attended an ALA meeting. I was surprised to see how many booths were manned by either individual Indie authors/publishers, or by groups of indie authors joined together to manage the costs of participating at the conference. I am going to tell you some of the things I saw. This is not an endorsement of any group or service, just my observations about the possibilities for libraries and indie authors.

Images from four different Indie  booths 
A number of companies that provide self-publishing and on-demand services, companies like Ingram, iUniverse, Xlibris had their had booths. Many were collaboration efforts, with books from authors who published using their software. These firms are making a presence to get their users books in front of librarians. 

There was also booth from Indie consortiums, authors who could not afford an independent presence at the conference, but joined together to purchase a booth and get their work in front of the thousands of attendees.

The Indie Press Collective provides a number of services for Indie authors. In addition to showing books at associations like ALA, they have a review service for pre-pub bed Indie Books only, Foreword Reviews  Anyone can ask for a review, you can see more information on the process at - https://www.forewordreviews.com/about/ 

There is no cost for a review. But, since they get thousands of requests, only a small percentage of the authors who want a review actually get included in Foreword Reviews. There are costs associated with post publication reviews, as well as for being included in the books displayed at booths or for advertising in their magazines. 

Even more, the Indie books obtained a time slot on the Book Buzz stage - two to two-thirty on Saturday. The Book Buzz stage is located on the Exhibit floor of every ALA convention. This is the fourth ALA conference I have attended over the years. For the first time I know of, Indie groups had their own time slot on stage, where some of their up-and-coming books were individually highlighted for librarians in attendance.

I want to say again that I am not endorsing any of these groups or efforts. I was simply impressed by the shear number of Indie authors and small presses. Impressed by the fact that they were not only in small, less expensive booths in the back, but also in the larger, decorated booths manned with specialists ready to engage with librarians. I am happy to see the way some authors join consortiums to give themselves a chance to be noticed by librarians.

Only the future will tell how much success individual authors will have breaking into the library market. That includes public libraries, college and reference libraries, and school libraries. That represents thousands of potential sales. I spoke with one woman who was looking at possibilities for her areas "One community, One book" program, and she intends to purchase 3,000 copies of the selected book. Libraries can be a great market for Indies to break into.

And now, your surprise. I would love to hear any of your comments, about libraries, Indies...or about my new book - http://www.babinns.com/books/courage/ . I have some Advance Reader Copies of Courage, my Middle Grade debut coming out at the end of July.  I have reserved two for readers of this post. On Feb 28 I will select two commenters to receive copies. Check back at the end of the month to see if you are a winner of a hard copy ARC that will be mailed to you.

While I want to hear comments from everyone, please note that only commenters from the continental US will be included in the raffle. 

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Valentine's Day Top 10 Playlist

by Madelle Morgan

What gets you in the mood for love? 

For me, it’s music. For Valentine’s Day I decided to create a YouTube playlist of my top 10 favorite love songs by male artists. There are several classics in the mix, betraying my age... 

If you subscribe to a music streaming service such as Spotify.com, use the list below to set up a playlist and add your favorite songs. 

Otherwise, go straight to my YouTube playlist.

Madelle's Top 10 Love Songs by Male Artists

1. When I Fall in Love, performed by the great Nat King Cole. 

2. My Funny Valentine, performed by Matt Dusk.

3. Kiss From A Rose, performed by Seal.

4. This Guy’s in Love With You, performed by Barry Manilow.

5. I Only Have Eyes For You, performed by The Flamingos.

6. How Deep is Your Love, performed by the Bee Gees.

7. Can’t Stop, performed by Jacksoul. The lead singer, Haydain Neale, was an incredible Canadian talent who died of cancer in his thirties, way too soon.

8. Color My World, performed by Chicago.

9. Your Body is a Wonderland, performed by John Mayer.

10. The Music of the Night, from Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical The Phantom of the Opera.

Bonus Track:  Wuthering Heights, performed by Hayley Westenra. 

After recently watching the film To Walk Invisible: the Bronte SistersI added Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights, a wonderful, timeless romance, to my ereader. When I discovered a YouTube video depicting Catherine and Heathcliff, I had to include it on this playlist.

What's your favorite love song? Comment below.

Happy Valentine's Day!


Madelle is the author of three romance novels set in Canada.

Listen to Madelle's YouTube playlists.

Her debut romantic suspense, Diamond Hunter, is a free read for Kindle Unlimited subscribers. Buy the paperback or ebook at    Amazon.com | Amazon.co.uk Amazon.ca | Amazon.au 

Caught on Camera, a romantic comedy, is available at Amazon, Kobo and iTunes.

Buy the ebook or paperback at Amazon.com | Amazon.co.uk | Amazon.ca | Amazon.au 

Seduced by the Screenwriter, a steamy contemporary romance, is a free read for Kindle Unlimited subscribers, and is $0.99 through February, 2018. Buy the ebook at Amazon.com | Amazon.co.uk | Amazon.ca | Amazon.au 

Follow Madelle on  TwitterFacebookGoodreadsPinterest, and WattpadSubscribe to Madelle’s blog at www.MadelleMorgan.com.