Monday, February 28, 2011

Oscar Winners and Craftie Ladies of Romance New Launch!


Like many of you, I stayed up late watching the Oscars last night. I haven't seen all the movies that were nominated, but I made sure to take note and add them to my Netflix queue. I have to admit Inception looks pretty cool. And the big winner of the night, The King's Speech, looks like it is really inspiring. If you've seen some of the Oscar movies, please let me know what YOU thought of them.

Now for a big announcement. You've already seen our new site design. Now get ready for our new site LAUNCH! Starting tomorrow, the Craftie Ladies of Romance will be launching our new and improved website where we're hoping to have a little bit of fun!

1. We're having a WHO AM I contest! The Craftie Ladies have all written a little blurb about themselves and we'll be looking to all of you to figure out who is who! It should be a fun way to learn something new about the Love Inspired authors who post here. The person who guesses the most right will receive a $16 Amazon gift card! Let's see how much you've learned about us over the past year.

2. You've already had a taste of one new change. ASK ELNORA! Lenora Worth is here with her pearls on every Friday to answer your questions. So make sure you stop by. It should be a fun way for us all to learn something new and have a few laughs!

3. The Craftie Ladies will be doing some themes throughout the month. If you have a particular theme you'd like us to discuss, please feel free to share that with us.

Make sure you tell all of your friends on Twitter, Facebook, eHarlequin,and Goodreads about our new launch. It's going to be fun around here and we want you all to be a part of it!

See you tomorrow!!

Lisa Mondello

http://www.lisamondello.blogspot.com
http://www.ladiesofsuspense.blogspot.com

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Child of Grace Interview


How exciting to have Captain Luke Turner, the hero from Child of Grace, by Irene Hannon, a February 2011 release from Love Inspired Romance .

1. Captain Turner, tell me the most interesting thing about you. Or should we address you as doctor, now that you’ve left the service?
First of all, make it Luke. After years of salutes and protocol and field medicine, I’m ready to chill and regroup. I don’t know that I’m all that interesting. But if you’re asking about quirks—even though I was born in the South, I hate grits…much to my mother’s dismay.

2. What do you do for fun?
There’s not much time for fun on the battlefield. But my medic, Carlos Fernandez, could always make me smile. He’s also the reason I found my way back to God. That’s why my first priority now that I’m out of the service is to make sure his dream didn’t die with him.

3. What do you put off doing because you dread it?
Not much. The army—and the life-and-death nature of field medicine—taught me to do what needs to be done as soon as possible, no matter how difficult it might be.

4. What are you afraid of most in life?
At the moment, Kelsey Anderson, my temporary neighbor here on the shores of Lake Michigan. I’m starting to fall for her. But it’s obvious she has issues, and the last thing I need after caring for wounded soldiers is one more person to worry about. I’m here to heal. Keep a promise. And move on.

5. What do you want out of life?
A calm, normal, settled existence and a family to go home to at night.

6. What is the most important thing to you?
Keeping promises.

7. Do you read books? If so, what is your favorite type of book?
I read a lot of medical journals. Now that I’ve returned to civilian life, though, I’m hoping to dive into suspense novels again.

8. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
I wish I’d gotten to know my kid sister, Hannah, better. She was in diapers when I went away to college, and I only came home after that for short visits. She’s coming to stay with me for a couple of weeks in Michigan, however. It’s unexpected, but hopefully we’ll reconnect. Though I have to admit I’m worried. What do I know about relating to a seventeen-year-old girl.

9. Do you have a pet? If so, what is it and why that pet?
No pets. They don’t belong in a war zone.

10. If you could travel back in time, where would you go and why?
Interesting question. Maybe the late 1800s. I’ve always thought it would be gratifying to practice medicine in a small town, back when life was simpler and doctors made house calls. They didn’t have the technology we have today, but I think there was a lot more heart. Then again, that could simply be looking at things through rose-colored glasses. To be honest, I’m happy where I am in life right now—if I could just figure out what to do about Kelsey.


Bio
Irene Hannon, who writes both romance and romantic suspense, is the author of more than thirty-five novels, including the bestselling Heroes of Quantico suspense series. A four-time RITA award finalist (the “Oscar” of romantic fiction), she took home the golden statuette in 2003. Her books have also been honored with two Reviewers’ Choice awards from RT BOOKreviews magazine, a Daphne du Maurier award and a HOLT medallion. A former corporate communications executive with a Fortune 500 company, Irene now writes full time. She and her husband make their home in Missouri. For more information, visit www.irenehannon.com.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

FEATURED BOOK: CHILD OF GRACE BY IRENE HANNON


After giving up a high-powered corporate job, mom-to-be Kelsey Anderson decides to follow her dream. She moves to her late grandmother's lake house and decides to open a quilting shop in town. Then former army doctor Luke Turner moves in next door. The war-weary man stirs feelings in Kelsey that soon make her rethink all her plans. But she has some hard decisions to make, and worries if Luke will ever accept her and her baby. Kelsey must come to terms with the past, and trust there's a future with Luke in God's plan…

Friday, February 25, 2011

Ask Elnora--Lenora Worth and Steven Tyler????

Two things to chat about today, darlings. American Idol and Dieting.

Or rather, dieting while watching American Idol. Sigh, Elnora loves a good bad boy and Steven Tyler surely fits that role. Is it just me, or did he soften just a bit as the auditions went by? Maybe seeing all that singing angst will give him a new perspective?

Dieting is hard while watching such an exciting, nail-biting show. And having Big Daddy (my husband) sitting nearby with peanuts, popcorn and Cracker Jacks to tempt me doesn't help. I allowed myself one bit of chocolate. But my five major food groups don't make for healthy dieting. They are--coffee, chocolate, cheesecake, hot chocolate and cheese puffs. A girl just can't have too many cheese puffs.

So let's discuss. Ask me questions about diets. I've tried them all. Ask me questions about bad boys. I've tamed a few.(In my books anyway.)

Which do you like better? Chocolate or bad boys?

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Post-Justin Bieber Letdown

Missy, here. And my daughter is a huge Justin Bieber fan. So much so that when she heard about a pre-release showing of his new movie, Never Say Never, she begged me to get online the day the tickets went on sale to buy them. So right at 10 a.m. on a weekday a few months ago, I purchased us tickets to go see the movie 2 days before it officially released. In our package, we got special purple 3-D glasses and a badge to wear around our necks. Oh, and glow sticks. (Yes, picture me waving my glow stick as he sang!) :)

My daughter was thrilled when I got those tickets. We talked about it for the next two months or so. And on February 9th, we went to see the movie. Went waaay early to get good seats. Stood in line. Then finally went in to get ready for the show. And then after all that waiting...the movie started.

Oh. My. Gosh. The screaming girls nearly made my eardrums bleed. :) Especially the first time Justin reached out his hand, and in 3-D it looked as if he was reaching out to each one of them. It was a totally thrilling experience for my daughter. But on the way home, she gave a big sigh and said, "It's depressing when something you've looked so forward to is over."

I told her it's like that in life. I get in a bit of a funk after a big conference or retreat. Or after an event I've been really looking forward to. And as we're thinking a little this month on the blog about February being the month of love, and post Valentine's Day, I realized that some of us may be experiencing a bit of a holiday let down. (Some may have this worse after Christmas or a birthday.)

It's just something we have to deal with. And I'm wondering what each of you does to handle the letdown after a mountaintop experience.

P.S. The movie was really good!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Post Valentine's Trauma

            Post Valentine’s Trauma


                 by Linda Goodnight
          (With apologies to Robert Browning)
How do I love thee?

Let me count the ways.

This is how I love thee, oh glorious Valentine’s Day.

I love thy heart-shaped boxes wreathed in ruffles.

I love thy peanut clusters and dark chocolate truffles.

I love thy Godivas and Doves, Hersheys and Lindts.

I love thy brownies, cupcakes, and buttermints.

I love every sweet you bring to me

Almost as much as I love thee.

And so my hinder parts no longer are slim,

And my post-Valentine’s trauma is a daily trip to the gym.

OINK, OINK!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Lyn Cote Shares Author Gail Martin & Dreams Come True

Lyn Cote here! Today I'm sharing a Heartfelt Interview with Gail Martin, another Love Inspired Author. Tell me what you think about her and her upcoming book, A Dad of His Own. (Click title to read excerpt.)



Also in case you haven't heard, I'm posting an original story, La Belle Christiane, on my website blog. Click here to read the chapters I've already posted & then begin following it a scene every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. --Lyn

Monday, February 21, 2011

Love Is Kind



February is thought of as the month for love because of Valentine's Day. Love is one of the greatest emotions, and during February we often think in terms of romantic love. But love comes in many forms and can be expressed in many ways. If we look at 1 Corinthians 4 it says, "Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud." What better way is there to show love than to be patient and kind?

I was talking with a friend the other day, and she was telling me about the day that her Red Hat ladies groups had gone to a local pizza place for lunch. When they got ready to pay their bill, the cashier informed them that someone had already paid their bill. They had no idea who had done it. A stranger had paid them a kindness.

Have you ever had someone do this for you, or have you ever done something similar for someone else? Please share your story.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Second Chance Courtship Interview


How exciting to have TREY KENTON with us here today---the hero from “SECOND CHANCE COURTSHIP” by Glynna Kaye, a February 2011 release from Love Inspired Romance.

1.Trey, tell me the most interesting thing about you.
Wait, wait, wait. Not so fast, darlin’. You want me to talk about MYSELF? I thought you were going to ask me questions about rodeoing. Or my cute little nieces. Or that sweet-as-honey-butter-on-a-biscuit gal I had a crush on in high school and just recently came face-to-face with again---Kara Dixon. I’m not much into this touchy-feely, bare-your-soul-to-the-world stuff. Can’t we start with something less personal? Besides, I’m not all that interesting anyway---although I’m hoping Kara might disagree . . .

2.What do you do for fun?
Better question. Thanks. Well, I like fooling around with my two American Quarter Horses, Beamer and Taco. Arena workouts. Ropin’. Cuttin’. And trail riding. Don’t tell Kara, but I have more than a lot of fun spending time with her, even just watching her when she doesn’t know I’m looking. Love to see her eyes sparkle. Hear her laugh.

3.What do you put off doing because you dread it?
I don’t like thinking about coming to terms with the fact Kara has her heart dead set on returning to Chicago---and never coming back.

4.What are you most afraid of in life?
Oh, man, back to the nosy questions again. I guess I’d have to say---because of my background growing up all over the place and then all the on-the-road rodeo stuff---I have a healthy fear that I don’t have it in me to make a long-term relationship commitment. That’s what Kara thinks anyway.

5.What do you want out of life?
Two things. I got saddled with the blame for something in high school that I didn’t do. So I want to clear my name. I also have a hankerin’ to settle down in the mountain country of Canyon Springs, Arizona. Start a family. But not just with anyone---I want God’s best. And I admit I still have my eye on Kara---have ever since I was seventeen and she left me sittin’ high and dry after a kiss I still can’t shake off. We’ve hit a snag, though---I crave roots and she longs for wings. And something else is going on that I’m not sure how to decipher. She’s mighty skittish around me at times. Like maybe she doesn’t trust me. Or is hiding a secret. What do you suppose that’s all about?

6.What is the most important thing to you?
Besides that beautiful strawberry blonde who’s a great kisser, you mean? I guess being God’s man. And an uncle to my two nieces.

7.Do you read books?
You think I’d answer NO in a crowd like this? I’m not that dumb.

If so, what is your favorite type of book?
Equine science. American history. Western fiction.

8.If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
Selfishly, I’d liked to have had another shot at the national finals before I busted my leg up one too many times. That’s big time, adrenalin rush rodeoing. Otherwise, guess I’d have to say I need to trust God more. A lot more.

9.Do you have a pet? If so, what is it and why that pet?
Now Rowdy I can talk about all day! He’s a Gordon setter-collie mix. Friendly fellow. Kids love him. Great company, too---good listener and doesn’t talk back. Why a DOG as a pet? Well, Beamer and Taco can’t sit on the front seat next to me in that big Ford pickup I drive. They don’t have much talent at Frisbee catching either. And a cat? No, thank you, ma’am.

10.If you could travel back in time, where would you go and why?
I know I’m probably SUPPOSED to say Bible times here. But I’m not cut out for sandals and robes. I’m a Stetson and boots kinda guy. So I’d say put me on a cattle drive in the American west. Or runnin’ a big ranch. Or even in an old John Wayne western---they filmed lot of those here in Arizona. Life was hard in those days, but in some ways more simple. Something you could get your head and heart around. I’d do that time traveling in a heartbeat---if I could talk that sweet little Miss Kara Dixon into going along with me.


Thank you Glynna for sharing Trey with us today. Glynna will give away a book to one commenter. Please leave an email address for her to contact you.

GLYNNA KAYE treasures memories of growing up in small Midwestern towns--Iowa, Missouri, Illinois--and vacations spent in another rural community with the Texan side of the family. She traces her love of storytelling to the many times a houseful of great aunts and uncles gathered with her grandma to share hours of what they called “windjammers”-–candid, heartwarming, poignant, and often humorous tales of their youth and young adulthood. Glynna now lives in Arizona, and when she isn’t writing, she’s gardening and enjoying photography and the great outdoors.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

FEATURED BOOK: SECOND CHANCE COURTSHIP BY GLYNNA KAYE

Never Trust a Cowboy
That's what Kara Dixon's mother always warned her. Back home in Canyon Springs, Arizona, to care for her ailing mom, Kara comes face-to-face with rodeo cowboy Trey Kenton. Her former flame—and one-time bad boy—is finally ready to settle down and start a family, and he's got his heart set on Kara. But she's determined to head back to her big-city life in Chicago once her mother's on the mend. Can the charming cowboy convince her to trust him and give their love a second chance?

Friday, February 18, 2011

It's Ask Elnora Friday--Lenora Worth

Darlings, I'm so excited! Today we're trying something different. My alter ego, Elnora, loves to dole out advice (whether she knows what she's talking about or not.)
So each Friday, you can ask me anything. Anything within good taste, of course.

If I don't have the answer, my LI sisters here will help us out. I love to advise on fashion, food, family and of course, fiction. I've been around the block a few times and ... this ain't my first rodeo. But enough with the cliches. Let's have some fun!

I was supposed to send our wonderful Blog Boss a picture, but alas, I have had a giant zit on my left cheek right by my lip for a week now!! Horrors. I suggest our lovely Blog Boss just puts up a picture of a kicking pairs of shoes. Red for Valentine's day!

Now there's a good subject to start our fun. As Cinderella said, "One shoe can change a girl's life." Let's discuss. And please, ask me something!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

LEIGH BALE BLOGS ABOUT WEDDING CHOCOLATE

You may recall that I’m in wedding planning mode for my daughter. Valentine’s Day provided LOTS of opportunities for me to look at various chocolate goodies I can possibly serve during the reception in June. Chocolate with butter cream fillings, topped with luscious berries, cake, petit fours, you name it and I was looking at it. (But not tasting too much as I’m on a diet so I can fit in my Mother of the Bride dress…but that’s another story.)

I came up with this confection…a chocolate shell filled with a creamy pudding and topped with raspberries, my daughter’s favorite. Her grandmother (my mom) bottles raspberry/peach jam every year and gives a case of it to my daughter for Christmas. That’s how much my daughter loves this jam. It’s one of her gifts under the tree. So I was also thinking about mini-cheesecakes topped with this jam and one fresh raspberry. Pretty and tasty.

In my new book titled The Forest Ranger’s Promise being released in May, the little girls enjoy summer ice cream cones. That was another thought I had for the reception, but I fear June 17th might be hot enough to melt the cake and all the desserts.

What do you think? Do you have a favorite decadent dessert that might work well for a summer wedding reception out in our back yard? We’re open to ideas at this point. Mmm. All this talk about chocolate is making me hungry. :) Happy Eating! Leigh Bale

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Moonstruck Chocolate-Yummmmm



Terri Reed here from wet and green Oregon. Okay so Valentine's is over, but that doesn't mean we (me) have to stop with the chocolate. I love chocolate. There I admitted it. I'm a chocoholic. I prefer dark chocolate over milk chocolate, but really, any chocolate will do. However, I do have a favorite brand--okay several favorites-- but only one is made right here in Oregon.

Moonstruck Chocolate
http://www.moonstruckchocolate.com/index.aspx

There are five Moonstruck Chocolate Cafe's around Portland Oregon. Did you catch that? Chocolate cafe. Everything made of chocolate! You know giving a gift of delicious chocolate doesn't have to be only on Valentine's Day. Every day is a day to celebrate with chocolate. Good chocolate.
My heroine in my latest release loved chocolate too!

Hmmm, author projecting onto character?








Monday, February 14, 2011

Chocolate: Too Much Can't Be Bad

Pamela Tracy here, writing about two of her favorite things: chocolate and books! Below is a picture of a chocolate book. Underneath that, is a quiz about romance books and chocolate. I hope you enjoy both!




1) Close your eyes and imagine you're in your favorite place. Where are you?

[] Comfy chair in your living room, a Love Inspired romance in one hand, a box of chocolates on the table.

[] Restaurant, alone, hot fudge sundae in front of you, a Love Inspired romance in one hand, a spoon in the other.

[] Leaning against a tree in a part, husband or favorite person's head is in your lap, a Love Inspired romance is in one hand, the other is gently wisping through your favorite person's hair, you're chewing a piece of chocolate.


2) What is your favorite thing?

[] Travel, packing both chocolate and a Love Inspired romance

[] Exercise, promising yourself a reward of chocolate and quality reading time of a Love Inspired Romance

[] Spending time with family, passing out the chocolates and reading aloud certain passages from a Love Inspired romance (okay, this one was a stretch!)

3) When do you get your strongest chocolate and reading a Love Inspired romance cravings?

[] Lunch

[] Right after dinner

[] Late evening

[] You're kidding, I have to narrow it to a time?


4) Why do you like chocolates and Love Inspired romances?

[] They energize me

[] For escape

[] They're good for you

5) How much chocolate eating and Love Inspired romance reading can you do in one day?

[] I can eat a whole box/read a whole book

[] I can eat half a box/read half a book

[] I eat and read in brief periods
6) Women eat more chocolate and read more Love Inspired romance books than men?

[] true

[] false

7) How many pounds of chocolate does the average American eat and many pounds of Love Inspired books does the average American read?

[] 8.5

[] 12

[] 18

{] 26

8. Kojac loves both chocolate and Love Inspired romances
[] true

[] false

9. During Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, one of the Oompa Loompas could be seen reading a Love Inspired romance

[] true
[] false

10. This quiz has made me both hungry and made me want to go read a Love Inspired romance

[] true

[] false


See, it's true. Too much chocolate, when combined with too much reading, can't be all bad.

I'll post the answer to number 7 later tonight. In the meantime, have fun nibbling on chocolate and getting lost in a Love Inspired romance.





Sunday, February 13, 2011

Her Valentine Family Interview


How exciting to have Jessica Bowman, the heroine from Her Valentine Family, by Renee Andrews, a February 2011 release, from Love Inspired Romance .
1. Jessica Bowman, tell me the most interesting thing about you.
The most interesting thing about me is my little boy, Nathan. He’s five years old and was truly a gift from God.
2. What do you do for fun?
I’ve recently moved back to Claremont, Alabama, the town I grew up in, and am enjoying sharing all of the activities I did growing up with my little boy. I also try my best at the “little boy” things like fishing, t-ball and all, but I know his daddy would do a much better job. And I know Chad, Nathan’s daddy, would be wonderful with Nathan…if Chad knew he had a son.
3. What do you put off doing because you dread it?
Telling Chad Martin that I’ve kept him from his son for five years.
4. What are you afraid of most in life?
That Chad will not be able to forgive me.
5. What do you want out of life?
I want a real family for me and my son.
6. What is the most important thing to you?
God is number one, and I trust in Him to provide what is best for me and for Nathan.
7. Do you read books? If so, what is your favorite type of book?
Yes! My favorite books are those about family and faith, where characters put their trust in God, and their lives are changed because of that trust and faith.
8. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
I wouldn’t base my decisions, especially important decisions, on what I think is better for those I love. I would be honest always and accept the consequences of my actions.
9. Do you have a pet? If so, what is it and why that pet?
No pets yet. Nathan and I are staying at my parents’ home until I get settled in, but as soon as we get a house of our own, Nathan wants a puppy.
10. If you could travel back in time, where would you go and why?
I would go back to the day I found out I was pregnant. Because when I went to tell Chad and learned he’d received a full scholarship out of state, I assumed that marrying me and raising our child together would hurt his future. If I could go back, I would tell him the truth instead of running away. And the reason why is…now I know I actually hurt Chad and Nathan by keeping them apart. I just pray that somehow, some way, both will forgive me.

Thank you Renee for sharing Jessica with us today.
Renee Andrews spends a lot of time in the gym. No, she isn't working out. She and her husband, a former All-American gymnast, own an all-star cheerleading gym. She is thankful the talented kids there don't have a problem when she brings her laptop and writes while they sweat. When she isn't writing, she's typically traveling with her husband, bragging about their two sons or spoiling their bulldog.
Write to her at Renee@ReneeAndrews.com or visit her Web site at http://www.reneeandrews.com/

Contest Alert: Renee’s current contest giveaway is a gorgeous painting by Gina Brown, the artist mentioned in HER VALENTINE FAMILY. Send an email to Renee with Gina Brown Art Contest in the Subject field to enter. To see Gina’s artwork, visit her site – http://www.GinaBrownArt.com

Saturday, February 12, 2011

FEATURED BOOK: HER VALENTINE FAMILY BY RENEE ANDREWS

Part-time college student and full-time single mom Jessica Bowman returns to Alabama to raise her little boy, Nathan, in the only home she's ever known. The last person she expects to see is Chad Martin, her first love. He doesn't know that Jessica's been keeping a secret from him. What he does know is that he never stopped loving her. But Jessica realizes that her silence stands in the way of their reunion. If she takes a leap of faith and reveals the truth, will she find that love and forgiveness are the sweetest Valentine gifts of all?

Friday, February 11, 2011

The Grand Finale of Valentine Vacation by Lyn Cote

Amelia gripped Colin's hand tightly. Somehow she knew that the commotion had something to do with the rings. But she didn't have the nerve to go forward. She started to turn away--when a familiar voice called out, "That's her! That's the woman who found the ring!" The voice belonged to Darrell.

The crowd parted as a tall, perfectly coifed, and stylishly dressed woman walked toward Amelia who had frozen in place.

Colin tugged Amelia along until she began walking to meet the woman. Her heart bobbed up into her throat. It couldn't be, could it?

And then she was there, standing within arm's reach of one the biggest stars in Hollywood, June Roberts.

"I'm so happy you found my engagement ring," June gushed. Camera flashes nearly blinded Amelia but the actress acted as if she didn't notice them at all, her big smile gleamed from her tanned face. "My fiance and I were walking on the beach late yesterday and I didn't notice I'd lost the engagement ring he'd just given me till later."

"She couldn't take her eyes off me," an extremely tall and handsome man said, standing at June's elbow.

"You shouldn't have gotten a ring a size too big." June chuckled in response and reached for Amelia's hand. "Thank you a thousand times."

Amelia couldn't speak. She's seen Miss Roberts in so many movies. She felt like she was in a movie.

Colin cleared his throat. "Amelia was only doing what was right. She's that kind of lady."

"She certainly is. My thanks also." The handsome man led away the actress who thanked Amelia once more. The paparazzi flocked after the "star" couple, leaving Amelia, Colin and Christy and Darrel in their wake.

"I don't know about you, but after all that star dust, I can use a tall drink of something cold," Colin said.

For some reason this tickled Amelia's funny bone and she began giggling. Shaking his head at her indulgently, he led their foursome toward the patio at the back of the hotel.

"How much do you want to bet that this was just a publicity stunt?" Darrell suggested, drawing Christy with him.

Colin laughed. "Let's not waste any more time on this."

"But what if someone dishonest had found the ring?" Christy asked, sounding uncertain. "How could they know someone would turn it in?"

"How do you know it wasn't a Cubic Zirconia?" Colin countered.

Darrell laughed. But then sobered. "We still haven't found...." He stopped and put his arm around Christy. "Sorry. I said we wouldn't let this spoil the rest of the day."

Christy blinked as if warding off tears.

Amelia so wished she could have found their ruby ring. Suddenly she felt her own engagement ring in her back pocket. Without taking time to think, she pulled it out and handed it to Darrell. "Here I won't be wearing this any more. Either use it as a replacement for the ring you lost or sell it and buy another one. Your grandmother will understand. Things get lost." She looked up at Colin who was pulling out a chair for her at a patio table.

He smiled down at her. "And somethings that have been lost are found."

And Amelia knew with her heart what Colin meant. She had lost the past and maybe found a future...on her Valentine Vacation.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Valentine Vacation, Chapter 7...Roxanne Rustand


Amelia hesitated, debating about whether or not she should walk over to Darrel and Christy's table and wish them good morning. Yesterday, Christy had been distraught over the loss of her ruby engagement ring on the beach.  Now, given the stiff set of Darrel's shoulders and the lines of tension bracketing Christy's mouth, it was clear that anger simmered between them, and they both appeared tired. Had they argued late into the night?  Had the loss of that ring destroyed their future happiness together?  If I could help them somehow I would, Lord.

A hostess appeared at Amelia's elbow and guided her to a table a few feet away from where the young couple was sitting, but they didn't look up as she passed by.  Saddened, Amelia rubbed the gleaming diamond ring she'd left on her right hand for safekeeping.  The irony of the situation made her sigh.  Christy had lost her ring, and yesterday Amelia had found a different one, so  two women were mourning the loss of a precious symbol of the love they shared with someone special.

And now Amelia's own wedding ring was in her back pocket, because she'd finally gained the courage for the symbolic step of taking it off, and she was mourning, too.  She was alone. Where was the fairness in life?  Why hadn't God intervened the night her husband died?  She'd prayed so hard at his bedside, desperately hoping that Andrew would recover. Instead, he'd suffered terribly, and then he'd died.

Wedding rings.  A small, precious stone, a bit of gold.  So  easily lost, one way or another. Yet a ring stood for so much more than mere monetary value.  Love.  Caring. Companionship. The chance to grow old with a beloved man who had held her heart gently in his hand.

"Madam?"  the hostess said.  "Would you rather have a different table?"

Jerking her thoughts back to the present, Amelia blinked.  "I'm sorry.  I just realized that I need to take care of something important, but I'll be back in a few minutes."

Amelia wound through the tables in the cafe and strode to the front desk of the hotel where several staff members were dealing with hotel guests.  She waited until the heavy set brunette, the shift manager, was free. 

"I found something on the beach last evening." Amelia held up her hand.  "I'm sure someone must be desperately looking for it."

"Wow.  That's one amazing solitaire.  Huge." The woman's brow furrowed.  "I haven't received any reports on a lost ring like this one.  A young couple is looking for their ruby ring, though."

"Maybe this one doesn't even belong to a hotel guest.  Perhaps someone was just strolling past along the beach."  Amelia studied the glittering facets.  "The police should be notified, and it would be better off locked up in the hotel safe."

The manager nodded and pulled a form from beneath the counter.  "Fill this out for me, while I call the police."

Amelia completed the form, and handed over the ring when the woman finished her phone call.  "Will you let me know if the owner turns up?" She wrote her cell phone number at the bottom of the form.  "I'd just like to know what happens."

A large, warm hand settled on her shoulder and she turned to find Colin standing behind her. "I called your room and checked the cafe, looking for you.  I thought perhaps you'd decided to back out on today's New Experience."

He was dressed in khaki shorts and a black T-shirt that emphasized his deep tan and muscular build, but it was the twinkle in his bright blue eyes that caught and held her attention.  "What is it?"

The laughlines at the corners of his eyes deepened.  "Go get your swimsuit. I promise--if you are very brave--you'll have an experience that you'll never forget."
           
The twinkle that had charmed her now had her worried.  "But--"

He held up a hand.  "I promise you'll love it, if you're willing to take chances.  If you aren't, you miss out on the best things in life.  Right?  I'll bet there are a lot of things you haven't tried."

Andrew had liked that about her, she thought stubbornly.  She'd always been solid.  Dependable.  Predictable.  He'd been exactly the same, and they'd been happy.  Hadn't they? 

A small, rebellious ember of excitement started to flicker to life, somewhere deep in her heart.

"Are you game?" Colin lifted an eyebrow.

"I...I guess I am." Amelia swallowed back her uncertainty.  "And I've already got my swimsuit on, so lead the way."

His grin widened as he took her hand and headed toward to open archway leading out of the hotel to the beach.  The warmth of his hand sent a dizzying swirl of sensations up her arm that gathered in her chest. 

Sunbathers were already stretched out on the white sugar sand, baking in the Florida sun.  Children romped with each other, building castles and waterways in the sand. People bobbed in the water, laughing.  And farther down the beach to the right she could see a handful of people surfing.

She felt the warmth drain from her face.  "Y-you aren't thinking about surfing.  I mean,  I've never...I couldn't..."

He angled a look at her and squeezed her hand.  "Not there.  Look to the left."

There were brightly colored paddle boats and canoes pulled up along the beach. They looked...safe.  She smiled.

"Nope, look farther down."

A sleek boat dipped and swayed in the surf, with some sort of metal framework on the back. Two men walked back and forth on the deck, busying themselves with rigging of some kind. Disappointment slid through her.  "Fishing?  That will be...nice."

He laughed.  "Not today.   I was just thinking that we're both on a Valentine's vacation, and we should do something so exhilarating that we'll remember it forever."

Far out in the water, she saw a speedboat flying through the waves, and a bright speck of something following it, but so high in the air that she could barely make out what it was.  She stared, as comprehension set in and her knees turned weak.  "Parasailing?  You want to go parasailing?"

He stopped at the water's edge, where the waves rhythmically washed up over their feet, then fell back.  "You can just come and stay in the boat if you like.  Or, you could go up with me--they have a two-man harness."

"I get dizzy on stepladders!"

He look down at her, his dark eyes warm and mesmerizing, and lifted her chin gently with a forefinger.  "It's not what you think.  The first time I tried, I thought it was going to be like a gut-wrenching roller coaster.  I was afraid to open my eyes initially--but when I did, then I didn't want the trip to ever end.  Trust me?"

Trust him?  She didn't really know him.  Yet...that ember of excitement in her heart burned a little brighter, urging her on.  Her children had begged her to take this trip, wanted her to start leaving her sadness behind.  It was time to make changes, and this was the perfect time.

Twenty minutes later she found herself in a web harness, far, far above the sparkling waters of the ocean with Colin next to her.  A sense of peace settled over her as they drifted through the air so smoothly that she felt as if she were floating on a cloud.  Below her, a beautiful panorama of  lush Florida landscape spread far as the eye could see.

Colin reached for her hand and brushed a kiss against it.  "What do you think?" 

She sighed with bliss. "You're right--I wish this would never end." 

Far below, the tiny speedboat turned into a long, sweeping arc that brought them along the curve of the beach.  As it gradually slowed, they began to descend.

She looked down at the hotel and the beachgoers.  "Isn't this wonderful ?  Look at all the--"  her voice caught in her throat.  She blinked, then squinted, trying to focus on a group of people gathering just outside the hotel, her pulse hammering through her wrists.  "Do you see that?  Colin--what's going on?"



Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Valentine Vacation--Chapter Six by Pamela Tracy

The sound of waves and the smell of the ocean lured Amelia from a sound sleep - the best she'd had in months. Her children had been right. She'd needed to get away. She stretched, enjoying the moment of warmth, the moment of contentment. Then, she stepped from the bed and slipped into a pair of jeans, plus a bra and T-shirt, before heading to the bathroom to brush her hair and teeth.

The back and forth action of brushing her teeth, a simple everyday activity, made her notice the wedding ring still on her finger.
And she missed him all over again.
Rinsing, she looked in the mirror and thought about something the minister had asked her just a short while after Andrew's death. "Would it have been better to have never loved? Then, to have loved and lost?" Not particularly original. That question was the theme of many a book, many a sermon. She'd not answered, back then, but she could answer today. "I loved Andrew. With all my heart. Every day was a gift."

Running the fingers of her left hand through her hair, she smiled at the reflection. Her wedding ring seemed to sparkle. Funny, yesterday it had seemed dull. She held her hand up and smiled at her reflection - taking a mental snapshot. Andrew Jr. and Laura would be proud. The smile stayed in place as she tugged off the wedding ring.

Her finger felt bare and looked decidedly different - especially with the slight pink indentation where the ring had been a symbol of commitment for more than twenty-five year.

Can I really do this?

Just in case the answer was no, Amelia slipped the ring into her back pocket. Then, slipping on her tennis shoes and wrapping herself in a warm sweater, she stepped out on the balcony.

Apparently, Colin wasn't up and about yet. His balcony was empty.

Stop being silly, she chided herself. It was just a dinner. That didn't mean breakfast, too. After a moment, she went back inside, grabbed her purse plus the book she'd been reading, and headed down to the hotel's lobby restaurant for breakfast.

He wasn't there either.

But not everyone in the restaurant was a stranger. Sitting at a table just beyond the hostess stand was the young couple from last night. What were their names? Oh, yes, Darrel and Christy. Darrel was nearly done with his breakfast. Fork in one hand, piece of paper in the other, he was busy saying something to Christy.

She wasn't listening.

And her breakfast was untouched.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Valentine Vacation-Chapter Five by Margaret Daley

"You found the ring?" Christy grinned and cupped Darrel's hand. "He just gave it to me two nights ago. We've been dating for two years."

Colin gestured for Amelia to come over to the couple's table near theirs. "I hope so. Can you describe it?" He took hold of her hand and hid the ring from the young couple's view.

"Oh, it's the most beautiful ring in the world. It's Darrel's grandmother's engagement ring. She was born in July. The birthstone for July is a ruby. The center of ring is a large ruby with diamonds around it. Is that the one you found?"

The expectant look on the young woman's face broke Amelia's heart. She wished she could say yes and give it back to her. Slipping her hand from Colin's, she showed Christy the ring they found--a large solitaire diamond. Disappointment marked both of their expressions.

"That isn't it. It's beautiful but hopefully someone will find my engagement ring." Christy's eyes misted with tears.

Amelia remembered when Andrew had given her engagement ring to her and how she had floated around for weeks. He had saved for it for months and was so proud of it. She fingered her wedding ring with the small solitaire diamond in a matching band. "I'm so sorry this one isn't yours. Keep looking. I'll pray that you find yours."

As Amelia and Colin made their way back to their table, the waiter approached, and Colin ordered two pieces of key lime pie. "They have the best pie in town here. A local specialty."

"Hmm. I've never had key lime pie. I'm game to try something new. My children insisted on me doing something new every day on this vacation."

"Maybe I can help you with that tomorrow. I have a feeling you've never done what I have in mind."

"What?"

"My lips are sealed. You'll have to wait until tomorrow morning to find out."

When he said the word, lips, Amelia's gaze riveted to his mouth--full, with a dimple to the left of it when he smiled. She blinked and pulled her attention away from him. It landed on the young couple, the man comforting the crying woman.

"Do you think we can find the real owner of this ring?" She lifted her right hand and stared at the lost engagement ring. Some woman out there was missing it tonight.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Chapter Four by Leann Harris

The open dining area on the beach came off the main restaurant from the hotel. Colin held out the chair for Amelia then took the chair beside her. The breeze smell of the ocean and softly caressed Amelia’s face.

“Look at that moon,” Colin said. “It’s almost so close you could touch it.”

Amelia felt like she was in a beautiful dream with a handsome man laughing with her. “It looks so much bigger over the water.”

“You’re a romantic,” Colin teased.

Her heart light, Amelia realized that she was enjoying herself. There was an instant of guilt, but she knew she’d loved her husband with all her heart. And now her heart and spirit were attracted to this man who knew the same kind of grief. “Andrew used to say I had a streak of romance in me a mile wide. I just haven’t seen it in a long time.” She toyed with her water glass.

Colin placed his hand over hers. He didn’t say anything, but she saw in his eyes he understood her sorrow and the new world that was unfolding. “You’ve got a great smile.”

“You don’t have a bad one yourself."

He laughed. “It’s been a while since anyone told me that.”

“Then we can start smiling together,” Amelia added.

“You’ve got yourself a deal.”

The waiter came and took their order. As Colin told her about his woodworking business, and how he’d turned his hobby into a thriving business of unique pieces of furniture for homes throughout North and South Caroline, Amelia found herself enchanted by the man. He asked about her family and she told him of her children and their adventures. He told her about his son.

As they were finishing their steaks and lobsters, a young couple walked up to the restaurant from the beach. “I so sorry, Darrel. I’ve looked in my beach tote and couldn’t find the ring. “

Darrel wrapped her in his arms. “I know, Christy. I shouldn’t have suggested you take off the engagement ring. I was afraid you might lose it in the waves.”
Christy cried harder. “It was your grandmother’s.”

Amelia looked at Colin.

He stood and walked over to the couple. “Excuse me. I couldn’t help but overhear. Could you describe the ring to me?”

“Why?” Christy asked.

“Because I think God might have sent an answer to your prayers.”

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Season of Dreams Interview


How exciting to have Eva Marsh, the heroine(please delete unused pronoun) from Jenna Mindel’s Season of Dreams a February 2011 release from Love Inspired Romance .

1. (Eva), tell me the most interesting thing about you.
I grew up on a working cherry farm in Leelanau County Michigan.

2. What do you do for fun?
I love to bake and I tend to put dried cherries in just about every recipe. I also love to drive
my ATV on two tracks and back roads. It’s plain ‘ole get dirty fun.

3. What do you put off doing because you dread it?
My finances. Seems like I’m always spending more than I bring in. But that’ll change once
I get my bed and breakfast up and running. Right now, I’m renovating my childhood
home to become a B&B.

4. What are you afraid of most in life?
Getting hurt. I experienced an abusive relationship and it really tarnished
my trust sensors. It’s not easy for me to trust men.

5. What do you want out of life?
Security. With my family spread all over, my relationship fears, and my dream of opening
a bed and breakfast, I’m hoping for stability and security. Truly, the only safe and secure
thing in life is a strong relationship with God. As long as I have that, I can face the other
stuff. Not always easy, but true.

6. What is the most important thing to you?
My relationship with God. Although I blamed Him too long for mistakes I made.
But I’m back on track and don’t ever want to give away my faith again.

7. Do you read books? If so, what is your favorite type of book?
Cookbooks, of course. Specifically pastry and breakfast recipes.

8. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
My height. I’m only 5’2 – the runt in the family. I take after my mom, who is also short.
My two older brothers got all the tall-genes in the family.

9. Do you have a pet? If so, what is it and why that pet?
No, not at this time. But I’m hoping to pick out a dog sometime in the near future.
A rescue that deserves a second chance. Since in many ways, I feel like God has given me several second chances.

10. If you could travel back in time, where would you go and why?
Hmmmmm, that’s a tough one, but I think I’m an old-fashioned kind of girl who’d do
well in the 1950’s when everything seemed safe and sweet with ice cream parlors and
drive-in burger joints.

Thank you Jenna for sharing Eva with us today.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Our Serial Will Continue on Monday! STAY TUNED. In the meantime, FEATURED BOOK: SEASONS OF DREAMS BY JENNA MINDEL


Longing for a simpler life, wealthy businessman Adam Peece buys a cherry orchard in Michigan. Problem is, he has no idea how to run it! So he asks Eva Marsh to teach him the ropes. Cherries are in Eva's blood. Her family owned the orchard for generations before selling it to Adam. But she doesn't trust people easily, especially tall, dark and handsome city slickers. However, one look into Adam's caring eyes convinces her to give the city boy a chance. Could their working relationship blossom into love before season's end?

Friday, February 4, 2011

Valentine Vacation--Chapter Three--Missy Tippens




Valentine Vacation--Chapter Three
By Missy Tippens

Amelia stood at the end of the boardwalk waiting for her “date.” Her boldness had morphed into anxiety. She’d never been so nervous in her entire life. Not even on her wedding day. Would her children be proud that she was meeting a man—a stranger—to walk on the beach? Or would they think she’d really lost it this time?

She smoothed a hand over her skirt. Tugged at her sweater. Finger combed her wind-tossed hair. Maybe she should—

“Amelia.” His voice carried on the wind, strong and sure. It helped calm her raging nerves as he approached.

“Hi, Colin.” The strength of her own voice surprised her.

He held out his hand. “Shall we?”

The gesture held promise of more than a mere invitation for a walk, and for a moment, she hesitated. Was she ready for this? “You know, I can’t help but wonder if God’s giving me an opportunity to move on with a new phase of my life.”

His blue eyes sparkled in the sun with humor…and warmth. “I think so. God definitely led me here.” His hand remained suspended, waiting for her to take it. He nodded, indicating she should grab on. But then she noticed his wedding ring. And thought of hers, still securely in place on her left ring finger.

Gnawing on the inside of her cheek, she could almost hear her children’s voices, fussing at her, nudging . So she took the leap—took his hand and let him lead her into the powdery white sand.

As they walked, they talked. About life back home, about their families. By the time they reached the pier a mile or so down the beach and turned around to head back to the hotel, she felt as if they’d been friends for ages.

When they reached the boardwalk, and neither of them seemed inclined to end the date, he said, “How about sitting for a while? Then maybe join me for dinner?”

Something flashed in the sand, drawing her attention away. “What’s that?”

He gave her a crooked smile. “You know, you can just tell me no, if you don’t care to join me.”

“I’m serious.” She stepped off the path and carefully picked her way between the sea oats. “It looks almost like a…no, it couldn’t be.”

He came up behind her and put his hands on her shoulders, stopping her. “Careful. There are also briers. Show me where it is.”

His warm hands on her shoulders, his sturdy chest behind her, and his fresh, spicy scent all drew her, making her lean into him. It had been so long since she’d craved a man’s strength like she craved his now. She couldn’t even answer him.

“Do you still see it?” His breath ticked the hair on the back of her neck.

Forcing some starch back into her spine, she leaned forward, away from him. “Right there. A ring.”

He dodged the plants and reached down to pick it up. “Well, whaday know? It is a ring.”

She gazed into his hand. “It’s a diamond solitaire. And a valuable one at that.”

“Yeah, you better appreciate it. I went to a lot of trouble to plan this surprise engagement.”

Her eyes snapped to his face. When he laughed, she let her breath out on a rush of air. “Oh, good. For a second there, I was afraid you were crazy.”

Still chuckling at her reaction, he took her right hand, placed the ring on her ring finger, for safekeeping, he said. Then he helped her out of the dunes. “Come on. Let’s have dinner together and figure out how we’re going to locate the owner of this ring.”

Her heart thrilled at the idea of dinner together. And at the fact he was honest, wanting to do the right thing. The extremely large diamond on her finger flashed in the sun, winking at her. “I can’t think of any way I’d rather spend my evening.”

Thursday, February 3, 2011

VALENTINE VACATION - Chapter Two by Lisa Mondello


Amelia could hardly hide her surprise. What was it about losing a partner that made you suddenly feel like you were the only one in the world who was alone. It was one of the reasons she hadn't wanted to come to this Florida paradise, even when her children insisted. Who wanted to be reminded that they were alone, especially at a time of year that was meant to celebrate love?

What started out as an awkward moment suddenly felt freeing and made Amelia a little bolder than she normally would be.

"You lost your wife...girlfriend?"

He nodded, a hint of sadness colored blue eyes so bright they rivaled the sun sparkling off the Gulf's waters. "Wife. It's be about 18 months now."

"Two years for me. I'm sorry for your loss."

He gave her a crooked smile. "Don't you hate the standard sympathy line? I know people mean well. But after a while it makes me feel like damaged goods."

"How so?" she asked, surprised at his response.

"Most people don't know what to say directly after they've given their condolences. The conversation gets awkward and then they head for the door. I end up eating Chinese Food alone, going to the movies alone and not getting asked out to social functions unless someone knows a "nice" girl who recently became single."

"Ah." She'd experienced that exact thing herself and had to laugh. "You're right. People mean well, but they don't understand."

"No, they don't. But you do."

His eyes were warm and invited her to open up to him. "Yes, I do."

The man reached his arm over the railing and the pot filled with bright colored flowers to decorate their balcony. "My name is Colin."

His hand was rough, as if he worked with his hands for a living, and it was much bigger than hers. As he gave it a gentle squeeze, a slight shiver ran through her. It had been a long time since she'd noticed anything about a man other than Andrew.

She pushed her hair out of her eyes with her other hand and said, "I'm Amelia. Nice to meet you."

"Likewise. Say, I've been up and down this beach all by myself and I have to say..."

"It's beautiful?" she finished when he stopped.

"Not nearly as enjoyable as it could be. In fact, it was downright depressing. How about we walk the beach and see if we can carry this conversation further than the standard line?"

Amelia had to admit that while she didn't dread walking the beach alone, the idea of it hadn't held as much appeal as sharing the experience with someone. Maybe this Valentine's vacation wouldn't be so bad after all. "I'd love to, Colin. By the way, I like Chinese food, too."

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Valentine Vacation--Chapter One--Lenora Worth

A Valentine Vacation—Chapter One—Lenora Worth


A crisp February wind blew over the ocean, sending Amelia Hart’s auburn hair flying out around her face. Amelia didn’t mind the cool wind. The ocean breeze felt good on her skin.

She was finally here, standing on a balcony in Florida, staring out at the Gulf of Mexico. Andrew had always promised her they’d take a trip to Florida and walk along the white sand together. But Andrew was gone and she was alone.

Was it a mistake to come here only two years after he’d died in a car accident? Her children had been adamant.

“Mom, you need a break,” twenty-year old Laura had told her.

“She’s right. Just accept this as our gift and go on the trip, please,” her brother Andrew, Jr. had insisted.

Had she become such a downer even her own children didn’t want her around?

“Well, no more of that,” she said into the wind, the feel of the sun on her face making her giggle. “I promised you, Andrew. I promised you I’d come here … and have a good time.”

She hoped she could live up to that promise.

“That Andrew is one lucky man.”

Startled, Amelia glanced over at the balcony next to hers and saw a dark-haired, pretty-eyed man grinning at her.

“He was a lucky man. And I was blessed to have him.”

The man leaned over the white iron railing. “But now?”

Amelia felt a sense of daring overcome her. “But now, he’s in heaven and I’m … I’m here for what my kids call a Valentine Vacation.”

The man stepped closer. “What a coincidence. I’m here for the very same thing.”

Brrrrrr!

11:40 pm:  Today is my day to post, and I'm coming in just under the wire.  What a day it has been!  I finished and sent off a book manuscript this morning, while keeping an eye on our serious weather reports.  We are in the midst of a blizzard, with winds up to 50 mph and what looks like around sixteen inches of snow so far--though lots more is coming.  My husband and I cleaned the horse barn, brought the horses in early and bedded them down--with extra blankets for the old guy is a grand old thirty-five years old.  He looks like Methuselah,  and if horses can look happy, he sure did, once he was snuggled into his jammies!  Listening to the wind howl as I type this, I know our  gravel country road will be drifted impossibly high, and we won't be going anywhere until the county plow comes through..possibly  for days.  I'm so happy that I have lots of good books to read (especially the newest Love Inspired novels!!) and a nice warm fireplace.

I hope you all are warm and cozy tonight, wherever you are.  And if you are some sunny place  instead of in this massive Midwestern blizzard,  enjoy! 

FYI- Our own Janet Tronstad & a Prize



Our own Janet Tronstad is the guest on my blog today. She's announcing a special event on eharlequin.com for February, THE LOST VALENTINE CHALLENGE. Drop by and read all about it. If you're interested in a $25 Barnes & Noble gift certificate!