Shana Galen
Shana Galen

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Best Of, Shana Galen

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Most of the kids are back in school now. My daughter has been back to school for almost a month. She’s in first grade now and a pro at the whole school thing (or so she thinks). All summer long she waited anxiously to find out who her first grade teacher would be. She really wanted one particular teacher, and when I asked why, she said it was because that teacher is nice and pretty. It doesn’t take a lot to impress elementary kids.

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My daughter didn’t get that teacher, but she was happy with the one she got because her teacher has long hair. She’s also nice and pretty, but the long hair clinched it. I don’t remember ever caring about my teachers’ hair or if they were pretty or not. In 7th grade I did have a male teacher who was good looking. His name was Coach Mali, and I think his looks were more distracting than helpful.

Every kid wants a nice teacher, though. My favorite teacher was also one of the nicest. Her name was Mrs. Fannett, and she taught eleventh grade English. The class was not easy. Mrs. Fannett was not easy. We had to learn about infinitives and gerunds (something I never understood until I taught 10th grade English myself!) and read books like The Scarlet Letter and Faulkner’s The Bear. Now I love a lot of classic literature. I adore Shakespeare and Dickens, and I like Twain too. I did not, and never will, love Hawthorne and Faulkner. I respect those authors and their talent, but they’re just downers. Oh, and don’t even get me started on Hemingway.

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But somehow Mrs. Fannett made those books accessible. Somehow she got me to read them and, if not enjoy them, understand them. She pushed me to be a better writer. She pushed me to find a better word, a more descriptive phrase, a more complex sentence. Writing was always one of my best subjects. I could get an A with very little effort. Mrs. Fannett made me want the A+.

When I taught middle and high school English I tried to be a teacher like Mrs. Fannett. I don’t know if I succeeded. The most frequent comment students gave me was about how calm I was.

Hmm. Well, I guess calm is a compliment of sorts, considering some of the chaotic places I taught. I would have preferred inspiring or fascinating, but kids tell us the truth, not what we want to hear. Maybe if my hair had been longer?

Do you have a favorite teacher? Or maybe your kids had a great teacher. What made him or her so great?


Katherine Garbera
Katherine Garbera

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Best Of, book covers, Contemporary Romance, family, favorite things, Five Things

August is almost over and I for one am not ready for it. I think I may have said that about a few other months this year. 2016 is kicking my butt. I seem to running behind every month. But since it’s the end of the month its time for my Five Things.

  1. IMG_2749Sunshine.I used to take a nice sunny day for granted and if I still lived in Florida or Texas I’d be complaining about the heat and the sun, but in the UK we don’t get as many super sunny days and while August has had it’s share of overcast and rainy days we’ve had some really great sunny ones. In fact I even was able to sneak in a trip to the pub on a sunny day with my kiddos.

 

  1. Kiddos.

IMG_2763My daughter has been visiting us this summer before she goes back to Florida and starts a new job and my son has been home from university and I’ve been very aware that this might
be my last summer with both of them in the house with me where we can just enjoy being us. I’ve had books to finish and deadlines to meet but I have enjoyed the long summer days where I can take walks with the kids after I’m done with my pages—we’re all playing Pokemon Go.

 

 

 

  1. Peaches.IMG_2777It’s ridiculous how much I just love peaches. I’m not sure if we have these in the US (I’m sure we do!) but I am a huge fan of “donut” peaches. They are smaller, easier to eat and I don’t end up with a chin covered in juice when I bite into the peach.

 

 

 

  1. Friends.13769511_10154327468232999_6612280737404610144_nThis is a big one. Because everyone is on a slower schedule it’s much easier to talk with my friends. I use FaceTime pretty much to keep in touch with everyone back in the States and I have been video chatting with two of my very best friends almost every week in August. I think of these things as Artist Dates. It makes me happy to laugh, talk about writing, talking our kids and just be myself. These calls are a gift to myself and I cherish every one of them.

 

 

 

  1. Olympics.KG SwimmerI enjoyed watching the competition every day while it was one. My kiddos and I watched the Olympic recap on BBC during our lunch every day, which was great. I was a competitive swimmer from 7th grade through high school and really swimming is my favorite sport. I love watching all of the heats and then the finals. I also love that it gives me and my old swim team friends, especially my childhood bestie—Tina!—a chance to relive our ‘glory days’ when we were swimming.

 

 

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That’s it! My Five Things For August. Tell me your top five and I’ll enter you to win one of five copies of NO LIMITS. The first book in my Space Cowboys series, which will be available on September 1st.


Robyn DeHart
Robyn DeHart

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Best Of, Robyn DeHart

I’m on deadline and have my kiddos home with me all summer as I’m sure most of you can relate – it’s hectic, to say the least. Needless to say I’m recycling a previous blog, but it’s a good one. Also here’s the cover for my upcoming release (August, but up for pre-order now!)

UwtE-1600pxWhen I first started reading romance, many years ago, the majority of what was available was the traditional historical romance. What many referred to as the bodice ripper because of the sexy clinch covers. I fell in love with these books from the likes of Kathleen E. Woodiwiss, Johanna Lindsey and Catherine Coulter. And then I found Amanda Quick and her historicals were a little different. I suspect that she is probably my strongest influence, as a writer, because none of my historicals are what you’d call ballroom romps or even the lush historical dramas that Woodiwiss for known for.

With Amanda Quick, there were suspense subplots and her heroes were often scholars – something I have always been drawn to – is it any wonder that I married a college professor? ☺ Her heroines were smart too and unique. I never set out to immolate her, but when RT Bookclub compared my books to hers in a review – well, that was just about the coolest thing ever. So without further ado, I give you the 5 hallmarks of a Robyn DeHart novel…

1. A Robyn DeHart heroine is unconventional, whether she be bucking society by going to medical school to become a physician, as with Anna from The Temptations of Anna Jacobs or whether she be a blind sculptress, as with Mia from The Secrets of Mia Danvers.

2. My heroes are smart and almost always the pursuer in the relationship. Once they meet the heroine, no other woman will do. They fall hard and they’re loyal to a fault. Not to mention smoking hot! They also usually have jobs, even if they’re aristocrats, as with Drew in The Temptations of Anna Jacobs, is working undercover for Scotland Yard, or an antiquity hunter for hire as with Fielding in Seduce Me.

3. Don’t be surprised if there’s a murder at some point. Quite obviously the Dangerous Liaisons books have killings in them, even scenes in the Rippers point of view. But even in my other books, I sometimes leave a trail of bodies, not always gruesome though (for those of you who have an issue with violence). The Raven, the villain in two of my Legend Hunters books (Seduce Me and Treasure Me) is rather wicked and does away with more than one person. Even in my novella that’s currently out, a Regency spy story, No Ordinary Mistress, chapter one opens up with a murder.

4. Amidst the carnage you’ll often find humor. Some books are funnier than others, but even if you don’t laugh out loud, there are plenty of happy, smiling moments. There’s one scene in A Study in Scandal where the heroine knocks a door into the hero’s head and every time I read it, it made me chuckle. That’s saying a lot because as an author we have to read our own books a lot and by the end, they get really old. ☺

5. My books are full of snappy dialogue. Almost every review and reader email I receive comments on both my characters and the witty dialogue. It’s where the books come alive to me when I’m writing, where the characters live, in the words that they speak. Dialogue is super important to me and an integral part of all of my work.

Well, I hope this has given you a little taste of what reading a Robyn DeHart book is like. If you’ve read me before, what are your favorite parts of my books If not, what do you usually look for when picking out a new author?


Shana Galen
Shana Galen

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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.

PG: OK!

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

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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


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