Shana Galen
Shana Galen


Best Of, children, Christmas, favorite things, Shana Galen

This post appeared earlier this week on the Casablanca Authors blog.

Last week, my daughter asked me what I wanted for Christmas. She’s five and spends her 50 cents a week allowance as soon as she gets it, so she has about 8 cents to her name. I couldn’t think of a single thing to tell her.

It was so incredibly sweet of her to ask me what I wanted. I thought about telling her I just wanted to have a nice holiday with her or for everyone to stay safe and healthy, but I knew she wouldn’t accept those answers. She wants to give me something tangible. I ran through the list I’d given my family, trying to think of something she could manage. Fitbit? No. Kindle? No. New running shoes? No.

Finally Princess Galen chimed in: Mommy, I thought you might want a book to read.

Me: Yes, I love reading books, but I can’t think of any I want at the moment. (By which I meant, none she could get me)

Princess Galen: Maybe I could write a book for you.

Me: I’d love that.

PG: I could draw all the pictures too.

Me: That would be great. You’d better ask Daddy to help you.


Princess Galen at age 2. Now she’s writing books (maybe).

 I don’t know if I’ll get the book. It’s a big project for a 5-year-old who can’t read more than 25 words on her own and only knows how to spell her name. But it reminds me of what Christmas is all about–thinking of others, giving of ourselves to others, giving from the heart not the wallet.

Follow-up: I did not get a book, but I did get a song! She had her grandma write the words for her, and it was all about keeping the beat and how she loved me so much in her heart. Super sweet! Fingers crossed for a book next year!

Jesse Hayworth
Jesse Hayworth


Best Of, Jesse Hayworth

Happy holidays! This best of post appeared on my personal blog earlier this week, so it may be a repeat for some of you. But it makes me smile, and I wanted to share it with the rest of my JauntyFriends :)

Hello, ReaderFriends, and Happy Holidays to those who celebrate! 

Seeing how Arizona’s spirituality lands somewhere between Navajo and agnostic, and mine is mostly self-assembled, our celebration is a bit of a mutt. We have a ‘Winter Tree’ that I decorate myself and Arizona surprises himself each year by enjoying; we do small gift exchanges with each other and my family and go spend time with his on Christmas day; and we take some time to be together and reflect on the year past and the one ahead.

And, weather and circumstances permitting, we take the bikes somewhere fun for a ride. 

This year, the usual tradition has been complicated somewhat by my super-pregnant, ordered-off-the-mountain-bike status. So we’ve adapted–going on some fun hikes, ostensibly scouting new biking locations for next year. How is biking going to work with a new baby involved? Beats me, but I’m sure we’ll figure something out. (Crossing fingers.)

One of the coolest locations we’ve scouted is Rocky Neck, where an old WPA project building overlooks the sound on a lovely piece of state park. On the ‘bringing things full circle’ front, the first and only other time we had visited was to scout the building as a possible wedding venue. At the time, we deemed it too big (and frankly intimidating) for our small friends-family-and-barbecue plan. Now, though, Arizona declared it perfect. Because, you see, it has Good Rocks.

Here’s the two of us scouting those rocks a couple of weekends ago and modeling our furry hats. (For the record, he was wearing said hat when he first came toward me across the ferry parking lot for our initial face-to-face meeting, and my original ‘wonder if he’ll be over six feet like his profile claimed’ quickly morphed to ‘jeepers, what is he, like eight feet tall?’)


And here’s Arizona this past weekend rocking the … er … rocks.



I, of course, was firmly planted on my hiking boots, taking the pictures (in a furry hat). And before I sent him off to have his fun while I hiked down to get a good picture angle, I gave him a kiss and hesitated. There was no real point in telling him to be careful, because if you’re too careful on a downhill like this, you’ll go over the handlebars. And I didn’t want to tell him not to crash, because that’s sort of inevitable in the sport, especially when you’re scouting a new line. Break a leg? Just no. 

I went with “Have fun and try to land softly.” And he did exactly that. So that is what I wish for you, ReaderFriends, as we navigate the holiday season and look to the year ahead. Have fun, and try to land softly.

–Doc Jess

Robyn DeHart
Robyn DeHart


Best Of, Christmas

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This time of year most of us are getting ready for the holidays. We’re shopping and wrapping and baking and decorating and its easy to get lost in the bustle of the busy season. One thing I never skimp on though is decorating my tree. Not because I feel it has to be perfect, it’s actually kind of haphazard, no theme tree at my house. No, I take my take while decorating the tree because my ornaments are special to me.

While I was growing up my parents had a tradition of giving each of us kids one

ornament a year so that when we grew up and moved away we’d have an ornament collection to put on our own tree.So I have many of these though some of them haven’t survived over the years, I still enjoy looking at the ornaments and remembering when I was in Jr. High and I loved unicorns, or that odd phase I went through in high school where I had a thing for black & white cows. All of it is represented there in my ornaments and I get to walk down memory lane every Christmas.

But those aren’t the only special baubles I hang on the tree, I also have ones that I’ve bought as I’ve travelled. Whenever I go somewhere I try to get an ornament to remind me of that trip. I also ask friends who travel to bring back ornaments for me and I have them from all over the world. Emily brought me a wonderful handmade ornament from Greece and another from Denmark. Another friend brought me one from Bethlehem. My brother gave me ones from Argentina and Poland. And from my own travels I have the Bahamas, Jamaica, London, New York and Las Vegas (among other places) represented.

And then there are those ornaments that mark certain events in my life, like when I graduated from college or when I got engaged and then subsequently married and then when we built our house. It’s all there, hanging on my tree every year and I love unwrapping each one to remember where I got it.

So how about you? Do you have special ornaments on your Christmas tree? Or do you have another holiday tradition that you always take your time to relish?


**Also, I have a new book. Well, it’s not technically new, it’s the bundle of my Regency spy novellas, the Masquerading Mistresses. I hope you’ll check it out! And you know it makes an excellent gift this time of year. :-)


Recently I was writing a workshop to give at a local chapter of the Romance Writers of America. The topic was Crafting Historical Heroines (and Heroes) That Rock, and I was speaking about how to create characters that are historically accurate but who still appeal to modern readers. One thing I did in preparation was to ask my readers (via Facebook, of course!) who their favorite heroes and heroines are and why.

Here are a few of the responses.

Cora DeBeau from Tracey Devlyn’s A LADY’S REVENGE because she came out of France tortured not broken. I think this book should be given out at lady’s shelters. I understand abuse and ladies in abusive relationships should know THEY ARE NOT BROKEN only slightly dented.

Ian Mackenzie from Jennifer Ashley’s THE MADNESS OF LORD IAN MACKENZIE. He is labeled “crazy/mad” to the world because of eccentricities. What draws me to him is he doesn’t hide who or what he is. He lives his life with the stares and whispers. Every time I read this story I am amazed how far he comes from the beginning to the end. I love how complex his character is and how Ms. Ashley doesn’t fix him but makes his eccentricities part of the great man he is.

Eve Dallas from the JD Robb series because she saves herself.


JD Robb


Darius Carsington (From NOT QUITE A LADY by Loretta Chase) because he runs so very, very hard and far from his heart, then slams back to it in an instant when the woman he admires is threatened. Then he runs that much faster back to her side, intellectual sword at the ready.

Skye O’Malley (the entire series and Legacy series) by Bertrice Small. She was as intelligent as any man, went against Elizabeth Tudor and won, survived countless obstacles in the pursuit of her own happiness and empowered her children, daughter-in-laws and grandchildren to do the same!

I love all the characters from the Stephanie Lauren’s Bar Cynster series all the men are heroes to their ladies and family as well as the ton, but their women are strong and a force to be reckoned with!

Sebastian and Evie from DEVIL IN WINTER. Sebastian taking a bullet for Evie was a sign of true sacrifice.


Jamie and Claire


Jamie Fraser. There are many reasons to like Jamie (other than being a kilted, Highlander, of course!). He loves with his entire being. And he is willing to sacrifice himself for the people he loves. He sent Claire back through the stones to keep her and their unborn child safe even though it broke his heart to do so.

I wish I could have shared all the responses because I received so many fabulous ones. A lot of the characters mentioned were also my favorites and others I added to my TBR pile. As far as my workshop, One thing this “scientific” survey showed me was what all of these characters have in common.

In my opinion, the heroines are strong and resilient. They save themselves and empower other women. The heroes are at peace with themselves (at least by the end of the book). They don’t have anything to prove to society. They are willing to love with their whole beings and make ultimate sacrifices. In short, these heroes and heroines rock!

Who are some of your favorite heroes and heroines and why? WE are having some problems with an overactive spam filter. Please go ahead and comment, and if the comment doesn’t show right away, don’t worry. The JQs will be freeing comments all day.

Robyn DeHart
Robyn DeHart


Best Of, Robyn DeHart

I hate to recycle an old blog, but I’m on extreme deadline and thought this was a good topic to bring up again…

One of the things about writing that I didn’t realize when I first started was how profoundly personal it would be. Perhaps that makes me an idiot, but that aspect kind of took me by surprise. But I suspect that writers, genre fiction and romance writers, in particular, are very much in tune with their own personal issues – the things that make us tick, that big bag of crud we drag around filled with our greatest fears and insecurities. I suppose song writers probably are equally as aware, but I digress. The point of all of this is if you pay close attention you start to notice things about you – not all of them are the icky things either.

Recently I was reading a book and I had a big epiphany that doesn’t really surprise me, as I can clearly see the pattern in my reading tastes and several of the books I’ve written myself, frankly I’m surprised it took me quite so long to notice. Especially when I look back on a post I wrote here four years ago. So here it goes….when it comes to guys, those romantic hero types, I really am drawn to the pursuer. I suppose this might be why I don’t gravitate toward the more traditional alpha hero because they aren’t always pursuers.

The book I was reading recently that brought all this to my attention was Suzanne Enoch’s The Care and Taming of a Rogue. Now Suzanne is one of my very favorite authors, she’s definitely my go-to gal whenever I need a good pick-me-up because her books are just delightful and perfect in all the right ways. And I love, love, love her heroes. And her heroes are always pursuers, even if they don’t quite understand it themselves, they are completely captivated by the heroine, just can’t get enough and go after her full-throttle. Their unwavering pursuit just makes me feel all gooey on the inside. This is what romance novels are about for me.

Now there are plenty of great ways to put together a romance novel, but at their core, it’s either boy pursues girl or girl pursues boy and both work. But for me that one that makes me come back again and again is the former. It even happened in my own love story. When I met The Professor I wasn’t so sure about him. He was really smart, an intellectual and frankly I felt a smidge intimidated and wondered what we’d ever talk about. And he was so very different from any man I’d ever dated or been attracted to. But he pursued me deftly and it worked.

So how about you? What kind of hero do you gravitate to? Do you notice when you’re reading which character is the pursuer?

*this blog was originally posted in 2001

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