Go Behind the Scenes with Illustrator Rhian Awni!

When I illustrate the cover of each book, I try to envision the scene and live in it with the characters.

My name is Rhian Awni and I am the illustrator behind the Love at the Chocolate shop and Taming of the Sheenans series. I hope this does not sound like a cliché story, but I have been drawing since I was a little kid. My mother, who loved doing fashion illustrations, encouraged me to develop my skills. She always gave me constructive feedback and taught me how to draw human figures proportionally. I owe a large part of the skills I honed in drawing as a kid to my mother. I did not study illustration in college, and actually have a Bachelor‘s Degree in computer science. Illustration was always my hobby and I developed it over the years. I went back to school to get a Masters Degree in graphic design, and I chose graphic design as I was too afraid to be a starving artist! That is what got me started in my business as a graphic designer in 2009, and later an illustrator when I started combining my illustrations with my designs based on demands from my clients. I was very self-conscious about the quality of my art, but my clients provided me with a major boost when they stated how much they liked the illustrations I created for them!

I work both with watercolors and Photoshop to create my illustrations. That way, they still have the texture of the traditional medium, yet look crisper and more refined when I digitally color over the original illustrations. I first start with a pencil sketch.

After I get my client’s approval, I redraw my illustration on watercolor paper and color it.


I then scan it and digitally modify it in Photoshop to add more colors and textures. It usually takes up to 8 hours to complete an illustration, but sometimes even longer than that! I always start my illustration projects with a bit of research and my favorite tool for that is Pinterest. I find inspiration for fashion, poses and hair styles there. Fashion is a major source of inspiration for me. But I also enjoy combining elements of classic art into my illustrations. I am influenced by Impressionism and Rococco movements in arts. What I like in these movements is the playful style of the artwork and the spontaneous nature of the subjects. I also tend to add a romantic or nostalgic touch to my illustrations.

I love warm and bright colors. Colors play a large part of my process too. After the sketch is approved by my client, I create a very quick color mockup for my own reference and I create it digitally in Photoshop. That way, I know where to put each color on the paper. I tend to limit my color schemes, and go with the subject of the book when I create the cover art. If the book story takes place in the summer, then I use bright and airy colors. If it takes place during the holidays, then warm and festive colors are used. That way, the colors make the first impact on the viewer, and then the subject comes next.

When I illustrate the cover of each book, I try to envision the scene and live in it with the characters. That way, I can bring it to life on paper! I very much enjoyed working on every book cover illustration from Tule Publishing but my absolute favorites are the following:

Connect with Rhian!


What Inspired Marin Thomas’s SWEET HOME COWBOY?

I was thrilled when author CJ Carmichael invited me to write a book for the Love at the Chocolate Shop series. This is my first Montana Born story and I can honestly tell you that it was so easy to fall in love with Marietta, Montana and all its inhabitants.

When I brainstorm new books, I focus on one single character first—I call him or her my anchor character. Once I know who the anchor character is, the other characters easily fall into place as well as the setting and the plot. In the case of Sweet Home Cowboy I already knew the setting was the charming town of Marietta, Montana, so I only needed to focus on characters and plot.

You might assume the anchor character in this story was the heroine Elena Puente, a first-grade teacher from Las Vegas, Nevada, or local Marietta cowboy Wesley Banks. Not so. This time a secondary character tugged at my heartstrings. Years ago Keith Urban came out with a song called “But for the Grace of God”. The verse below has stayed with me for years and I knew one day the right book would come along where I could tell this man’s story.

I can see that old man
He’s walking past our door
And I’ve been told that he’s rich
But he seems so poor
‘Cause no one comes to call on him
And his phone it never rings
He wanders through his empty home
Surrounded by his things

In Sweet Home Cowboy the man Keith Urban sings about is my anchor character Judge Alistair Kingsley—the estranged great-grandfather of my heroine Elena Puente and the employer of my hero, Wesley Banks. Judge Kingsley is the lynch pin that holds this story together and allowed me to explore one of my favorite themes…the meaning of home. Home is more than a place. Home is forgiveness, acceptance and unconditional love. Home is your shelter and your path forward.

I’ve always been most comfortable writing about imperfect people who struggle through life—people who accept the life they’ve been given but always strive for better. Imperfect characters, dysfunctional families and small-town settings are the heart of my stories and Marietta, Montana is the perfect backdrop for Sweet Home Cowboy—a story that reminds us of how resilient the human spirit is and that everyone deserves their very own happy ever after—even cranky old men like Judge Alistair Kingsley.

What’s your definition of Home?

I invite you to stop by my website www.marinthomas.com or sign at http://bit.ly/MarinThomasUpdates for information on my releases and current giveaways.

Marin Thomas is an award-winning author of over 35 western romances for Harlequin books and she also writes women’s fiction for Berkley. She loves small-town stories with quirky characters that revolve around the importance of family and is thrilled that her Tule debut will release in the Montana Born line and Chocolate Shop Books series.

Kelly Hunter Shares an Exclusive Deleted Scene from Casey!

Congratulations to Jenny S! You are the winner of the Tule newsletter giveaway. Please PM info@thetulegroup.com to claim your prize. 

1. Describe your hero, Casey, in three words.

Determined (stubborn), physical (sensual), protective (always).

2. What kind of research went into writing this story? What was the most interesting information that you discovered about the sport or the circuit?

In the name of research and integrity I crossed the Pacific on the back of a turtle, landed in Seattle, went to Montana, home of my hero, caught up with other authors writing for the American Extreme Bull Riders Tour, and ended up in Deadwood South Dakota when the PBR was in town.

What I learned:

  • The American Anthem is hard to sing. You start from B flat and you need a range of an octave and a half to get the F in ‘free’. Kudos to those who can. All hail Whitney and Beyonce.
  • Bull riders are young … (alt version: I might be getting old)
  • And short (alt version: I’m getting taller with age and I was tall to begin with).
  • This is a Colosseum sport. Those eight seconds are brutal.
  • Those bulls are athletes and competitors and they’re treated very well. Says the former Aussie farm girl…

3. What was the toughest scene for you to write?

Spoiler alert:

My heroine almost loses her baby early in her pregnancy and winds up in hospital. She hasn’t told anyone she’s pregnant, including the hero, but it all comes out. That moment when she realizes she wants this baby, this future, and she wants it hard. She wonders what she’s done wrong, whether it’s punishment … That was a hard scene to write.

4. Can you share a deleted scene from the book?

My motherless heroine is a stock contractor’s daughter. She’s criss-crossed America on the rodeo tour with her father since she was four-years-old. She sees her hero every second weekend—provided their schedules coincide.


As an author with togetherness in mind what do my characters do in that down time between tour dates? Go to bed for two weeks? Get put on ice? I decided my heroine might phone my hero. Here’s the result. I like it. Not sure I’ll keep it.


It was nine at night and her father was asleep and Rowan was in her room, with her dress on and her boots on and nowhere to go, a tube of mascara in her hand and one eye looked good and the other eye looked like she’d been in a fight and who was she kidding? She needed makeup lessons—the internet directions simply weren’t cutting it.

She had an ache in her heart and an ache in her loins and the temptation to do something about it was strong. She had Casey’s number, and how she’d come across that had less to do with asking and more to do with outright theft of tour information, but the phone was in her hand and she dialed the number before she could change her mind.

He answered on the third ring and she should have hung up. Instead she said hello and gave him her name and the silence after that was deafening.

She was phoning for no reason. Didn’t have a thought in her head, and who could make conversation out of that? “What are you doing?” she asked instead.

“Looking at my hands,” he answered.

“I’ve done that. Although possibly not for the same reason.”

“They’re all busted up,” he said.

“Oh. Same reason, then,” and relaxed a fraction when he chuffed a quick laugh. “I’m wearing my dress,” she said next. “And my boots. I figured you should know.”

“Where are you?”

“In my room. It’s a practice run.”

Silence again, then, “So how’s it going?”

“The mascara needs work. I haven’t tried the lipstick yet. I’m thinking red’s not my colour. Not without practice, at any rate.”

“I hope you’re not expecting my help there.”

“No, but I’d like praise for trying. Can you do that?”

“Always.” He sounded so warm and sure and she settled back against the pillows on her bed, boots and all and crossed one knee over the other the better to observe them. It wasn’t as if they were dirty. They were straight out of the box.

“Which boots?” he asked.

“The red ones. The brown ones make me taller and I love the round toe but the red ones are bold and reckless. I can be reckless.” Within the confines of her room.

“And how does the dress make you feel?”

“Lost,” she said. “I love it, don’t get me wrong, I want to wear it out. But there’s a confidence issue.”

“What if you were somewhere no one knew you? Would that make it easier?”

She thought about it. “Would I be alone?”

“Probably not for long,” he said dryly. “But for the sake of fantasy, pretend that someone you know is with you. Someone you like and feel comfortable with. A girlfriend.”

She didn’t have any of those.

“Giselle, from breakfast the other morning. Or the Australian girl who used to hang out with Troy. The ones with identities of their own, who bring something other than bull riding to the mix.”

“Okay, I’m making up an imaginary girlfriend,” she said. “She comes from Brazil, her family grows oranges and she’s a well-known portrait painter. She talks to me about artwork I’ve only seen in books but I like her anyway because she never makes me feel stupid. I wish she existed.”

“So you’re at a gallery opening of a friend of hers, in Brazil,” he said. “And you’re wearing your dress and those red boots and everyone there wants to know who you are because you’re unique and they’ve never seen the like and they’re interested. When you say you raise bucking bulls and take photos for major magazines they’re doubly interested. You could have any one of a dozen men. What do you do?”

“I look for you.” The words were on the tip of her tongue, and she let them fall.

Silence. “I’m not there,” he said at last, and it seemed as if the words were reluctantly said. “What do you do?”

“You bought the dress. Why aren’t you there?”

“I gave you the tools. You did the rest. Figured out what you wanted and how to make room for it in your life.”

She was still looking for him. “Oh,” she said. “How did you bust your hands?”

“I don’t want to talk about it,” he offered gruffly. “Nothing to be proud of, though.”

“Tell me about college,” she said next. “How was it?”

“Easy in some ways, hard in others. Growing up with five brothers, I was used to sharing space but I still didn’t fit. I was more used to doing, rather than thinking. Climbed the walls on occasion. Got into bull riding when I blew off an assignment to go to a rodeo. A guy I’d gone to school with was there. He loaned me his gear and I signed up to ride. I went back to college more relaxed than I’d ever felt, and with enough cash to see me through for a month. I wasn’t born to bull riding, I wasn’t bred to it but hell I needed it. And it wasn’t just for the money.”

“It’s the challenge,” she said. “There’s nothing like it. The focus. The danger. The adrenaline dump running through your blood.”

“How long since you last rode?” he asked, and now it was her time to be quiet.

“I—a while. I got hung up here at home a year or so back. Cracked ribs, a punctured lung, ruptured my spleen and ended up in hospital awhile. My father fired three men over it, including our foreman who’d been with us for fifteen years. I haven’t ridden since.”

The boots suddenly looked garish and she uncrossed her knees and drew her legs closer to her chest the better not to see them. Confidences like that should never be spoken, and if they were they should be glossed over as soon as possible.

“Which bull was it?”

“One of our younger ones. I thought he was going to be good, you know? Casey, he could buck, and he was one of mine, out of the bloodlines I’ve been crossing and I wanted a winner, I was hungry for it, but he never made it on tour. He was a little too interested in killing people. My father had always thought so, but I couldn’t see it. Didn’t want to see it. Turns out my father was right.”

“And you were the wreck.”

“Yeah, well. Nothing ventured.

“It turns my stomach.” She could hear it in his voice.

“Because I’m a woman?”

“Because I feel the same way every time someone goes down and doesn’t get back up. It’s not a road for the faint-hearted.”

“I know.” She’d been living this life since she was four-years-old. No choice, and if there was a choice to be had now, she couldn’t see it. She knew what he meant. “Anyway, I don’t ride any more and on the whole I don’t miss it.”

“Here’s a question. Would you let your daughters ride?”

“Yes,” she said and closed her eyes. “Sheep first, then steers. I’d start them young. Train them right. Same way I was trained.”

“I don’t know if I could let them,” he said.

“That’s the thing about children—sooner or later they’ll find a way to do what they want. Letting them has nothing to do with it.”

Silence again.

“I’m a full partner here in the business,” she said. “Half of everything is mine, and it’s a lot, and I’d appreciate if you kept that to yourself. I don’t even know why I’m telling you except that I kind of need you to know. I also need you to know that I’ll never cash out.” She couldn’t see her way clear of this life. Her family unit was too small. Unlike Casey’s family situation, there was no one else to inherit, no one to pick up the slack.

“I won’t mention it,” he said gruffly, after a long pause. “But for what it’s worth, people have already figured where you stand and what you’re worth. I know well and good that I’m never going to match you for money or possessions. Maybe you think less of me because of it.”

“I don’t. Maybe you think less of me because I don’t have much of an education.”

“Education’s about information. You probably know more about genetics, animal breeding and bull riding than I do. And photography.” She could hear the smile in his voice. “Want me to tell you what I own?”

“Yes,” she murmured, and picked up the other lipstick she’d bought last time she’d been in town. This one was a soft, beige-pink. She’d liked it on the shop and when she’d drawn a line of it on the back of her hand. Now not so much.

“I have a log cabin in the mountains that I rent out to hikers over summer and skiers during winter. It comes with not enough land to run a horse, but it’s mine free and clear, and maybe one day I’ll sell it or maybe I won’t. And while I’m motivated to make the money I need to get the education I want, I’m not motivated to make money just so I can buy stuff. I don’t want the big spread. I don’t want to be tied down. I want to see more of the world, not less.”

“Bull riding’s good for that. You could go to Australia and Brazil.” He fascinated her, this cowboy. The thirst in him for something other than what he’d been born to. “If I went out with you to dinner, where would it lead?” It was a question she’d been tossing round ever since he’d kissed her. She wasn’t a complete innocent. She knew where kisses like that were likely to lead.

“Judging from the kiss we shared it’d probably lead straight to the nearest bed.”

“And after that?” She wasn’t saying no. She hoped he realized that. “What happens at the end of the tour? Because I really don’t think you have any intention of staying on another year. Not if you get the money you need for school.”

“I ask you if you want to come with me, you say no, and we walk away with battered hearts and a pocket full of fine memories. That’s how I see this going, Rowan. No lie.”

“So why would you still want to do it?”

“Did I mention the memories?”


“And the personal growth and exploration?”

He hadn’t mentioned that. “Sounds painfully won.”

“The fun,” he said next.

“You’re not exactly one of the fun-loving cowboys on the tour,” she reminded him. By and large he kept his alcohol consumption low and he didn’t screw around. Not that she knew of, and she would know.

“I do like to keep my fun times private,” he said. “Nothing wrong with that.”

“Do you think we could keep others from finding out about any fun times we might have?” she asked, and he was silent for a long time.

“You mean your father,” he said at last.

“I mean everyone.”

Accidentally educated in the sciences, Kelly Hunter didn’t think to start writing romances until she was surrounded by the jungles of Malaysia for a year and didn’t have anything to read. Eventually she decided that writing romance suited her far better than throwing sterile screw-worm flies out of airplane windows, and changed careers. Kelly is now a USA Today bestselling author, a three-time Romance Writers of America RITA finalist and loves writing to the short contemporary romance form.

#TBT Eve Gaddy Shares an Exclusive New Scene Featuring Jack and Maya!

** GIVEAWAY CLOSED! Congratulations to Carol Luciano. Please email michellemorris@tulepublishing.com to claim your prize. **

Hi, Readers! The Tule gang suggested I write a blog post updating everyone on what Jack and Maya Gallagher from Sing Me Back Home have been up to. I started writing it and well, it was boring.:) So I wrote a little scene. Hope you enjoy it.

“Jack, what in the world are you doing?” Maya asked, walking into her husband’s home office. “What is that and what are you doing with it?” She pointed to a small dog of indeterminate parentage who sat by Jack’s feet looking up at him adoringly.

“He’s a dog. Don’t talk so loudly. I’ve almost gotten Will to sleep.”

“Will is wide awake and you know it.” Their son waved a chubby fist in the air from the comfort of his daddy’s arms. Every time she saw the baby her heart just melted. And she was struck anew by how lucky she and Jack were to have this second chance at love…and babies.

But that had nothing to do with the small critter who had now come over to her, sat and raised his paw. She could have sworn he was grinning. He was black, white and brown and she couldn’t have told what breeds went into his make-up on a bet. At least he was small. Damn it, the last thing they needed was a dog.

“Don’t think you can sucker me,” she told it. “Thank you, Jack, I know it’s a dog. Where did you get it? Did Dylan give it to you?” Her brother-in-law was notorious for rescuing strays and giving them to various friends and family. And since he lived on a ranch, strays always seemed to find him.

“No, Dylan didn’t”–

Before he could expand, Gina and Carmen came into the room, talking a mile a minute and each carrying a bowl. One with what she assumed was dog kibble in it and the other filled with water. They’d probably borrowed the kibble from the next door neighbor. The two girls were fast friends, although sometimes they bickered as if they’d been sisters forever instead of just the couple of years since Jack and Maya had married.

“Are those my new mixing bowls?” Maya asked, momentarily distracted.

“I don’t know. They’re all we could find,” her daughter, Carmen said.

Of course they were. Never mind that there were loads of plastic containers all over the kitchen. Her beautiful, brand-new bowls were clearly suitable for dogs.

“Isn’t he cute, Maya?” Gina asked. “We found him at school. Dad said we could keep him.”

“Oh, he did, did he?” Propping her hands on her hips, she glared at her husband.

“I said we’d talk about it,” Jack said hastily.

“Uh-huh. Who is going to take care of this dog? Because if you think I am, you’re crazy. I have enough on my hands with the agency and the baby. Not to mention two teenagers.”

“His name is Rambo,” Carmen said. “Please let us keep him, Mom. Gina and I will take care of him. Will likes him too.”

“Will is five months old and likes everything except peas. And why in the world is he named Rambo?”

“I got him to eat them last night,” Gina put in. “Will, I mean. Not Rambo.”

“He’s named Rambo because he’s courageous,” Jack said blandly.

I don’t know why I’m arguing when I know I’ll just wind up giving in. She knew who would take care of the dog, too. The girls were in their junior year of high school and their lives were full of sports, school events, their studies, and boys. Not in that order. Jack would try, but his medical practice took up a lot of time and his hours were erratic.

She found herself weakening. He was a cute little dog. And he needed a home, obviously. Three pairs of eyes, four if she counted Will’s, regarded her hopefully.

“All right. We can keep him.” Rambo chose that moment to pee on the potted plant by the window. Maya sighed. “He needs to go out.”

“We’ll take him,” Carmen said.

“And bring some towels when you come back.” She shook her head before turning to her husband. “You are a bad man.”

“But you love me anyway, right?”

“Yes. Madly.” She leaned down and kissed him.

Jack’s phone rang. “It’s Dylan,” he said, and answered. “Dylan, hi, what’s up?”

His expression changed to one of concern. “How bad?” He looked at Maya and shook his head. “On my way.” He got up and handed Will to Maya.

“Is Dylan all right?”

“Yes. At least, I think so. He’s at the hospital with Clay,” he said, referring to Dylan’s right-hand man who’d been with the family for years. “I don’t know what happened. When I asked how bad it was, Dylan said Clay was having emergency surgery. I’ve got to go.”

“Let me know if you need me. I’ll get the girls to stay with Will if I need to leave.”

Jack kissed her goodbye. “Let’s hope it’s not as bad as it sounds. I’ll call you when I know something.”

Eve Gaddy is the national bestselling, award winning author of more than twenty-five novels. A member of Romance Writers of America’s Honor Roll for Bestselling authors, her books have won and been nominated for awards from Romantic Times, Golden Quill, Bookseller’s Best, Holt Medallion, Daphne Du Maurier and more. She was nominated for a Romantic Times Career Achievement Award for Innovative Series romance and won the 2008 Romantic Times Career Achievement award for Series Storyteller of the year. Eve’s books have sold over a million copies worldwide and been published in many foreign countries. Eve lives in East Texas with her husband of many years.

Exclusive Barbara Dunlop Q&A About Her New Release Chase!

1.  What can we expect from your hero, Chase Garrett?

Chase is very self-reliant. He’s hard-working and extremely principled. Ever since his fiancée cheated on him with his best friend, Chase has guarded his emotions. But his principles won’t let him walk away from someone in need. You can expect Chase to step up and help, and to stick around until the job is done.

2.  Which character do you relate to the most in this story? In what ways?

I think I relate to Maddy’s determination to protect her son, and her struggle with balancing her child’s interests with finding time for herself. I relate to Chase’s goal-oriented approach to problem solving. And I relate to the teasing rivalry and love between Maddy and her siblings. I very much enjoying writing family dynamics.

3.  What kind of research went into writing this story? What was the most interesting information that you discovered about the sport or the circuit?

I may have had more fun researching this book than any other I’ve written. I went on a fabulous road trip to Deadwood, the setting of the story, with Jane Porter, Kelly Hunter and Megan Crane—girl’s road trip to the bull rides! We had an amazing time, and learned a whole lot about the bull-riding events and circuit. I was impressed by the hard work and dedication of the riders, but also of the team that surrounds them. Everyone seemed to pitch in to help everyone else.

4.  What was your greatest inspiration for this story?

I loved the bull riding setting. Cowboys make some of the best heroes. But I was particularly excited about writing with such an amazing group of creative women. We had a chance to get together in San Diego to brainstorm our ideas and storylines. It was fascinating to watch each author organically bounce ideas around and come up with things that worked for their own story but, at the same time, supported their fellow authors.

5.  Can you share a deleted scene from the book with us?

I don’t have any deleted scenes. I write from chapter one, word one chronologically to the end of the story. If something isn’t working, I’ll delete it. But I it’s a hard-delete. I don’t save it anywhere. My philosophy is words are free—I can always write more.

Barbara Dunlop is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of fifty romance novels. A three time finalist in the prestigious RITA award, she is also a two time winner of the RWA Golden Heart award. An Unlikely Match, the first book in her acclaimed Match series, was a number one bestseller on Amazon. Barbara makes her home in Yukon with her bush pilot husband and the moose and bears that wander through their yard.


RELEASE DAY POST! Ann B. Harrison Shares Her Writing Process!

Writing is such a lonely job.

That was what I was told anyway. Sure, parts of it are but since I started writing in 2010, I’ve built up a fabulous network of like-minded souls who I can call on when the need arises.

For instance: when I first started my first book, I lived out in the middle of the desert in Queensland, Australia. We were miles from anywhere – two-day drive to the nearest big town – and our tiny town had limited resources for most people, let alone writers. I took online classes but found I didn’t really learn an awful lot because they weren’t necessarily aimed at what I was writing or the style I needed to use.

Then I joined Romance Writers of Australia and Romance Writers of America. At last! People who do what I do. Who knew there were so many writers out there?

From there, things moved quite fast. I entered competitions, found great editors and got my first contract. Then I got another one and things snowballed!

But here is what I’ve learned along the way.

My writing process has changed – a lot.

Before I would happily tell you I was a pantser. That means I write by the seat of my pants. I didn’t plot anything. It wasn’t how I worked at all. But more books a year meant I had to be more organized, especially when it came to writing series.

Now when I get an idea, I let it ferment in my mind. Perhaps I’ll write myself a few pages of notes. A chapter or two at most gets done before I pull out the big guns: these are my critique girls, both of them successful writers. The same girls I meet up with for plotting days and can call upon when I have a plot knot or something doesn’t go right for me. If anybody is going to tell me my writing sucks or the plot doesn’t work, it’ll be these two. They’re also the girls who I meet for coffee for no other reason than I need a break away from the office. But rest assured, plotting always, always gets a look in whenever we meet up.

I’ve also learned to be more organized and keep notes. My office wall has plotting boards for each book which I add to when I think of something. Some stories get plotted well ahead of time, four or five books even. I need to know the character I had in book one doesn’t become someone else by book three or I don’t use him again in another series. The more books I write, the more I need to keep them in line.

With the Watson brother’s books, I plotted the first four stories simultaneously because the characters reappear in each book. The bride in book four, Her Favorite Cowboy, is the legal brain in book two, The Sheriff’s Mail-Order Bride. Heaven forbid I should get these characters mixed up.

I’m always on the look-out for a great easy to use program to keep everything sorted but so far, have found post it notes on a board seem to be the best for me.

If you have any great ideas, I’d love to hear them. You can find me at http://www.annbharrison.net

After moving to the lush green wine region of Australia’s Hunter Valley, Ann has the perfect surrounding to let her imagination to run wild. She alternates her time between writing western romances, women’s fiction romantic and playing in her garden.

RELEASE DAY POST! Lynne Marshall Shares the Inspiration Behind Her Baby, His Love!

Hello Tule Readers and Friends!

My name is Lynne Marshall, I’m new around here and so, so happy to have been invited to blog. I’ve had my eye on TULE ever since it opened. I especially like how they publish books that don’t always fit exactly into the puzzle of romance publishing. Let me explain why.

I once joked to a friend that I’d written an inspirational romance with sex. We had a good laugh over that huge newbie mistake. Many re-writes later I’d whittled the single title romance down to category length, and, depending on which draft, either totally removed the sex, or completely watered down the inspirational elements. Frustrated, I decided to tuck the book away. Yet I could never completely forget how Joe Collins, my ex-convict hero, had found a place in my heart, or that Taylor Clarke was a mixed up, partially lost character with whom I could honestly relate.

Recently during a lull between contracted books, something made me pull out the last incarnation of Her Baby, His Love, and have another look. I found myself smiling as I reread it. So I wrote another draft, one with a hint of inspiration (an inspirational hero, for sure!) and a taste of sensuality, and, on a whim, I decided to submit the newest draft to a publisher willing to take chances on different kinds of stories —TULE!

How glad I am that I did.

Another part of the draw was Tule’s love for books set in Montana. Call it serendipity. Last August my husband and I took a road trip to Montana, since we’d never been. We started in Missoula, heading to White Fish and spending two fabulous days in Glacier National Park, then crossing north through the state via the Blackfeet Reservation, and later the Fort Belknap reservation to North Dakota. Then heading back to Billings and visiting the Crow Nation Reservation, all in ten days. We thought we’d snagged a little piece of heaven when we saw McDonald and Flathead lakes, and every time we looked up at the “big sky”, or saw horses running free, and roaming bison, hundreds and hundreds of them in the National Bison Range, we were sure we’d landed in western paradise. So it was pure joy to add more elements from The Treasure State to my story, set in the fictitious town of Charity, Montana, for the Montana Born Line.

Now I bite my nails and wait for this book, written with love and hopefully a little wisdom, to be released, and I thank my lucky stars that Tule believed enough in the story to publish it. I say this at a stage in life when most people are retired, yet I’d submitted a book to a new publisher, aspiring to open a new chapter in my writing life.

When I was growing up, I often referred to myself as a late bloomer. That title is particularly true about my writing career, which I refer to as my late mid-life crisis event. I’d started and finished a twenty-five-year career as a Registered Nurse before I found myself writing my first book. After putting it off long enough, one day when the characters wouldn’t leave me alone, I gave in. Over fifteen years, and thirty-two books later, I can’t imagine how my life would have been if I hadn’t discovered who I was meant to be. Don’t get me wrong, I loved just about every single day of my adult life before, especially after becoming a mother, yet way in the back of my mind there was always this daydreamer who wouldn’t give up. Nudge, nudge, nudge. Yes, I would have survived if I’d never discovered my inner writer, but I suspect I would have been frustrated and restless, and not nearly as happy the past decade and a half. What a journey I’ve been on!

I still get a kick out of calling myself a writer. Not great. Not amazing. Simply put, good enough. A good enough writer. With more stories to tell.

What’s your inner muse telling you to do? Maybe today’s the day you’ll listen.

Lynne Marshall used to worry she had a serious problem with day dreaming, until she discovered she was supposed to write those stories. Now traditionally published for more than ten years with over twenty-five books as a category romance author, she has also gone hybrid. She is a Southern California native, has been married to a New Englander for a long time, and has two adult children of whom she is super proud. She is also an adoring grandmother of two beautiful little girls, a woman of faith, a dog lover (Milo can vouch for that), a cat admirer, a meandering walker, a curious traveler, and an optimistic participant in this wild journey called life.

Lara Van Hulzen Shares Her Brown Butter Snickerdoodle Cookies Recipe!

Credit to Ambitious Kitchen for this delicious recipe!


  • 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons cream of tartar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon of salt
  • 2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter
  • 1¼ cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon plain greek yogurt
  • For rolling mixture:
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon


  1. Whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, cream of tartar, and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon and set aside. Over medium heat, melt butter in a saucepan until foam starts forming. During this process, keep whisking the butter. When the butter starts to brown, immediately transfer to a bowl. Let the butter cool for a few minutes.
  2. Using an electric mixer to combine the butter and 1 1/4 cup dark brown sugar and 1/2 cup granulated sugar until well blended. Gradually, beat in the egg, yogurt, and vanilla.
  3. Incorporate the dry mixture gradually and beat on low until combined.
  4. Chill your dough in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours.
  5. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.
  6. Mix 1/4 cup sugar and 2 teaspoons of cinnamon into a separate bowl.
  7. Measure out 2 tablespoons of cookie dough and roll them into balls. Once finished, cover in cinnamon sugar.
  8. Drop cookie dough onto the prepared cookie sheets. Cookies should be about 2 inches apart.
  9. Bake for 8-11 minutes or until the edges are slightly toasted.
  10. Enjoy!!

Lara is a published author and public speaker with a degree in journalism.

Writing stories since she was a young girl, Lara’s dream of being a novelist became a reality with her Men of Honor Series.

An avid reader, she worked as a book reviewer for 18 years with various organizations such as Crossings Doubleday, YouthWorker Journal, and www.radiantlit.com.

Lover of movies, music, art, travel, baseball, CrossFit and her dog, Lara lives in California with her husband, teenage daughter, and teenage twin boys.

RELEASE DAY POST! Lara Van Hulzen Shares Her Inspiration for A Recipe of Romance!

When I was given the opportunity to write in the Bachelor Bake-Off Series, I jumped at the chance. The concept of writing in a series with other authors was new to me and not only did I learn a lot, I was able to work with some wonderful people while having fun creating – a great combination.

This was my first time writing in Marietta, Montana as well and I can’t think of a better setting to do so. And as much as I love cowboys, I enjoyed writing a wealthy businessman who finds love, even though he believes that’s the last thing he needs in his life. The St. Claire family have a home in Marietta, their home base being in New York. However, after the matriarch of the family passes away, Daniel St. Claire decides that his wife’s favorite place – Marietta – is exactly where he wants to be.

Not understanding why his father would want to completely change his life, Wes St. Claire comes to visit with the mindset of a quick trip to see family, then get back to work and his world in New York. However, his father and young niece sucker him into baking in the Bachelor Bake-Off. Although horrified at the idea, he caves when his niece gets her beautiful dance teacher, Noelle Olsen, to help Wes learn to bake.

I have to confess, I’m not much of a baker myself, so I had to refer to my daughter throughout the process. I can bake, it’s just not my strong suit. But it made A Recipe For Romance that much more fun to write. As Noelle helps Wes learn to bake, I got to be a part of it. I got to walk right along with them on their journey to each other, as well as new beginnings in Marietta.

My favorite thing to write is families. And I love the St. Claire’s. Their wealth and status is a part of their life, but it isn’t who they are. And having spent most of their lives in New York, Marietta changes each one of them in it’s own special way. The Bake-Off is just the beginning for them wanting to be a part of the community and make a difference for the town that meant so much to their mother.

As a huge fan of cookies, I couldn’t resist a series like this. It’s impossible to turn down romance mixed with decadent desserts – a perfect combination.

Lara is a published author and public speaker with a degree in journalism. Writing stories since she was a young girl, Lara’s dream of being a novelist became a reality with her Men of Honor Series. An avid reader, she worked as a book reviewer for 18 years with various organizations such as Crossings Doubleday, YouthWorker Journal, and www.radiantlit.com. Lover of movies, music, art, travel, baseball, CrossFit and her dog, Lara lives in California with her husband, teenage daughter, and teenage twin boys.

Bachelor Bake-Off Author Jessica Gilmore Shares Her Apple Cinnamon Cupcakes Recipe!


  • 4 large apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced. Any apple will do, a baking apple makes a moister cake, an eating one a crisper one.
  • 1 cup (225g) self raising flour – if using all purpose add the usual amounts of baking soda
  • 2 sticks (225g) softened butter
  • ½ cup golden castor sugar plus more for sprinkling
  • ½ cup soft brown sugar
  • Cinnamon
  • 4 eggs


  • Preheat oven to 180 C/350 f
  • Cream the butter and sugar until smooth
  • Beat in the eggs. Fold in the flour and cinnamon smoothly. If your batter isn’t a dropping consistency, add a tablespoon of milk until it is.
  • Line the bottom of the cupcake cases with slices of apple so the bottom is covered
  • Fill each case to about ¾ full
  • Top each cake with more slices of apple
  • Mix several tablespoons of brown or golden castor sugar with a tablespoon of cinnamon
  • Sprinkle the tops of each cake
  • Bake in the oven for approximately 18 minutes. If a skewer doesn’t come away clean bake for another three-five minutes.
  • Enjoy!

An ex au-pair, bookseller, marketing manager and seafront trader, Jessica now works for an environmental charity in York. Married with one daughter, one fluffy dog and two dog-loathing cats she spends her time avoiding housework and can usually be found with her nose in a book. Jessica writes emotional romance with a hint of humour, a splash of sunshine and a great deal of delicious food – and equally delicious heroes.