Holiday Recipe and Giveaway from Jolyse Barnett!

My Adirondack Christmas

I was born and raised in upstate New York, one of five children living with our hard-working, loving parents in a large clapboard house, painted white. Come December each year, our large yard, where we enjoyed Sunday summer picnics with our extended family, would be blanketed in snow. And there’d be a special magic in the air…

Most every house in my childhood Adirondack village decorated for the season, Christmas trees glowing bright through front windows and strands of lights outlining houses—from the farm homes on the country back roads to the houses huddled together in the center of our quaint little town.ChristmasXLightXCover

An evergreen wreath with a velvet red bow on our front door welcomed friends and family into our home. Our freshly cut tree would be draped with strings of popcorn and cranberries, mounds of silvery tinsel, and treasured ornaments unpacked from brown boxes stored in the attic.

On Christmas morning, my younger brother and I always woke first and would tiptoe downstairs to find our tree overflowing with presents. We’d read the tags and giggle with excitement whenever we found one of our names, but we dared not touch. Against Dad’s rules. We also knew the true meaning of Christmas wasn’t in the gifts inside those wrapped boxes, but all around us in the love we shared and in God’s love for us through his Son sent to save us.

So we quietly emptied our Christmas stockings—those we were allowed to open!—made by our mother. I can still remember mine, knitted in red and white with a green tree shape below my name. Onto the couch spilled oranges, apples, and hard candies. If we’d been extra good that year, a Lifesaver “book” would slide onto each of our piles of goodies as well.

Soon the clan would all gather at the kitchen table, talking and laughing about shared family memories and the anticipation of the day as we dug into our home fries and scrambled eggs and bacon. All seven of us would help clean the dishes before changing into our Sunday best and bundling up to brave the chilly northern air.

Our family’s church was filled to the rafters on Holy Days and especially so on Christmas. Contentment enveloped me as I sat snuggled between my brother and Mom in our family’s cozy pew. We’d smile and nod at aunts, uncles and cousins along with friends and neighbors we’d known our whole lives. When the service began, I’d gaze at the candlelit alter covered in festive red and purple linens and inhaling the spicy incense as I listened to the priest read familiar stories of Christ’s birth. When it came time for the Christmas carols, I’d belt them out loud and clear, my favorites Away in a Manger and Hark the Herald Angels Sing.

The rest of our Christmas Day would be a flurry of activity. We’d open presents at our house then travel to my father’s parents’ house a few minutes down the country road, eat an early ham dinner then open more presents. Our older siblings would drift upstairs to chill with the older cousins and my father would go play pinochle with his brothers and dad at the large table in the den while my mother, aunts, and grandmother chatted close by. My little brother and I would hang out with our cousins all close in age in the living room next to the Christmas tree. Oh, how fascinated I was by the bubble ornaments as a child! We’d laugh and play and sneak into the kitchen time and again for treats until well after dark.

Thinking back to all the delicious desserts spread on my grandmother’s kitchen table brings back wonderful memories of my mother. She was an incredible baker. She made fried doughnuts from scratch, all sorts of pies (my favorite was her strawberry rhubarb pie), homemade fudge, oodles of cookies, bon bons, and more. At Christmas, her peanut brittle was my favorite.

 

PeanutXBrittleXinXaXPanXSADonna’s Peanut Brittle

½ teaspoon baking soda

2 cups granulated sugar

1 Tablespoon butter

Dash of salt*

1 cup peanuts

Throw butter and sugar in a cast iron skillet and heat until it turns liquid then cook about four minutes, stirring constantly. Add peanuts to the mixture while stirring and cook a few more minutes. Add baking soda, stirring gently until the mixture is light and foamy. Remove from heat and immediately pour mixture onto a buttered cookie sheet. Spread mixture thinly and allow to cool. Break into small pieces and serve.

*dash= 1/8 teaspoon

 

ChristmasXLightXCoverAs you might imagine, Adirondack Christmas memories such as those I shared above did much to inspire my fictional town of Starling in Christmas Light. I wanted to share my take on the spirit of a small town community, the bonds of love and acceptance that allow family members to forge through their differences—wherever they might live—and the beauty of the Adirondack region. And too, that imperfect as we may be, each of us can find the perfect mate for us…if only we’re brave enough to take that leap of faith, ask forgiveness, and believe in the miracle of unconditional love.

Wishing you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

 

 

GIVEAWAY

In the spirit of the season and the celebration of reading, I’m giving away a $10 Amazon gift card to a random commenter. All you have to do is share one of your Christmas favorites, whether it be a song, a tradition, an ornament, or whatever! I look forward to reading them. oxo Jolyse

auth_JolyseBarnettJolyse Barnett may not be able to cook to save her life, but she can whip up a delicious romantic tale. She discovered the joy of playing with words at a young age, filling notebooks with poetry and stacks of pink diaries with her teenage angst and dreams. After she graduated from high school, she developed a more practical side. She earned her degree in Writing (Of course!), fell in love with her best friend (Yes!), and now lives her own happily-ever-after (Yay!). She enjoys a fulfilling day job and explores the world one vacation at a time with her two children and real-life hero. Connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

 

Christmas gift via photopin (license)



Celebrate Release Week with Madeline Ash!

Ash-Xmas-300dpiWe’re thrilled to have Madeline Ash here with us today chatting about her latest release with Holiday Books! Readers, be sure to leave a comment as Madeline and the Tule Team would love to hear from you. Take it away, Madeline!

Having not written a romance with Christmas as a key theme before, I wanted to capture every special sparkle of the festive spirit in YOU FOR CHRISTMAS. While planning, I came up with a list of things that really make the festive season stand out (for me), and to celebrate release week, I thought I’d share some snippets of those from the story!

Fairy lights (don’t be shy, the more the merrier)

He had to admit, the display impressed. A morass of fairy lights glittering golden. No music playing yet, just a gentle galaxy contained within these four walls, an indoor wonderland that would have people pointing up from the street below.

Summer sun (it’s Australia, after all)

Regan inhaled deeply, smelling home.
The festive season had never seemed right, cold and coated in snow. She’d hardly recognized it, year after year. Now, as she entered the mass of trees, the sticky clog of sunscreen on her skin and relentless heat from above felt undeniably like Christmas.

A freshly cut Christmas tree (got to love that smell)

She led the way through the bright green maze, deeming one potential tree too narrow, another too sparse, and another not nearly triangular enough. She yelped when the pine needles stabbed her bare skin, and laughed in outrage when she realized Felix had picked a small branch and had been poking her with it every time she turned her back.

Mariah Carey’s All I Want for Christmas is You (because it continues to get better with age)

Regan asked, “Do you really need this many lights?”
“Possibly more,” he said without hesitation. “I’m writing a program that’ll sync the lights with music. Press play and they’ll make patterns in time with the beat, full on sound and light show style. I haven’t decided on a song yet, but I’m thinking the cornier, the better.”
“Mariah Carey,” she said instantly.
He cringed.
“How many other Christmas carols do you know with a real beat?” she asked, stepping up onto the coffee table with her arms high so he could weave through. He eased passed, dragging awareness across her chest like a heated magnet. Pulse thudding, she distracted herself by singing the opening bars of All I Want for Christmas Is You.

A dash of madness (because let’s be honest, most people stress a little at this time of year!)

Popping the bottle top off a beer, Felix slid open the door to his third floor balcony and confronted the sun. Summer hadn’t been shy this December, spilling hot over the city like a sticky latte, making the rendered outside wall almost too warm as he leaned against it, swallowing the cold brew and gazing down at the busy city street below.
Melbourne bustled with a pre-Christmas panic that frayed tempers and loaded bags with impulse buys. Horns blasted more often than usual, tram drivers dinged wildly, surely cursing the merry sound, and mania fueled the general mood seething up from the streets.
With no family, no kids, and nowhere else to be, Felix cleanly dodged this particular seasonal torture.

And (the author in me decided) a down-trodden heart in need of Christmas peace.

Regan. His memory of her was blurred. Mixed parts carelessness, attitude, and fierce generosity. She could have been anywhere, done anything in her eight years away. He had no idea what had made her steal twenty grand and split in the first place, just as he didn’t know why she was back now.
Only one thing was certain.
She’d come home looking as broken as when she’d left.

What about you? What things do you particularly adore at Christmas, or what things – if you were without them – would stop Christmas feeling quite right?
Happy reading!
Madeline x


These are a few of Ally Blake’s Favorite Things!

AllyBlake-LoveMeTender-CinderellaProject-1800x2700-FINAL (2)One of my favourite things about being a writer is the chance to pepper my stories with personal odes.

My footy team always wins. My heroines eat my favourite food. Our family cars have each put in an appearance. And I often drop in little jokes only my mum and sister would get.

I’m like Hansel and Gretel in reverse – sprinkling before me a pathway of succulent treats that make the journey to the end of the tale just that much more fun.

Here are some of my favourite things I indulged in while writing my latest story, Love Me Tender, the first book in the brand spanking new Cinderella Project series:

  • watching muscle cars being restored on Youtube (Mustangs all the way)
  • listening to a lot of Elvis (Trouble, anyone?)
  • eating M&Ms (lots and lots and lots of M&Ms)

M&Ms and tea cup

  • drinking coffee from a pretty pink tea cup (’cause I can)
  • playing ‘spot the jacaranda tree’ with my kids (we mums need car games like we need air!)
  • Googling flamingo ornaments (a girl could lose herself on Etsy.com)flamingo
  • enjoying a little vintage Italian cinema (Bud Spencer and Terence Hill, baby)
  • naming minor characters after people I know (ie a mix of two of my best friends from primary and high school)
  • laughing myself silly as friends told me wild stories about adventures on actual building sites (Chapter 6, for anyone reading along)
  • And to think I could call it all research :).

But the greatest treat of all is the chance to send Love Me Tender out into the world. So I welcome you all to the Cinderella Project – a world of match making mayhem…old-school style (and the occasional flamingo.)

Hope you enjoy the ride!
Ally
xXx

auth_AllyBlakeAustralian writer Ally Blake is a redhead, a footy fan, a devotee of the language of Aaron Sorkin, addicted to stationary and M&M’s, weak in the face of Italians and firefighters, married to a spectacular and ever patient man, mum to three beings of pure delight, and a firm believer in love, luck and fairies. She is also a best-selling author with more than twenty-five fun, flirty romance novels under her belt.

 


Visit with Sinclair Jayne – Debut Author of “Wrecked”!

9781943963225Wrecked, my first published book, started out as a writing exercise. I have been lucky enough to work as an editor for Tule Publishing (best job ever) for over a year, and Jane Porter and the Tule team were brainstorming a So Cal surfer series, set in Tule based, San Clemente. I grew up in Laguna, a town a bit north on Pacific Coast Highway, and had pined, and sighed and admired many early morning and evening surfers in my day as a teen and college student. Growing up, one of my favorite places to write poems and short stories were the beaches of San Clemente, the bluffs of Laguna (Pearl Street and Diamond Beach) and perched safely back above the Wedge in Newport Beach. So while not an expert on surfing, but never shy with my opinion, I chimed in enthusiastically about what a Sons of San Clemente series could read like.

Jane Porter wanted a “gritty, urban feel.” A former goth music fan and embarrassingly melodramatic and gloomy in my youth, I embraced the darker possibilities in the series more keenly on an emotional level. The character of Hollis came to me while Jane and I were talking—twin brother’s death, insecurities, introversion and failures nearly fully formed. I wrote down her character arc and then tried to think of the perfect hero for her. Kadan is probably my version of the perfect man. Perfect without being perfect, and I named him after one of my favorite Christine Feehan heroes in her book Murder Game.

After I wrote the first chapter, I thought I’d stop and talk to the team to see if this thing I’d done could be useful in any way, but I was having so much fun I decided to keep going, just to see if I could still write. I hadn’t written very much over the past six to eight years, and I was surprised and pleased at how much fun it was. The story unfolded fairly easily, and my usual getting lost in the middle, didn’t happen. I think it was the combination of not thinking I was writing a book as well as the plethora of amazing, dynamic Tule author talent I have had the privilege of reading and talking story craft with over the past year and a half that inspired and helped me to craft a story that I really love. I am so totally thankful that I finished my first draft and sent it in to Tule with the simple question “So, what do you think?” before I knew Kathy Garbera, an amazing and best selling story teller author, was writing the first book in the series. I’ve been so fired up to work with Kathy. Who wouldn’t want to be a part of a series with her, but really, way more nail biting than anything else in my life, especially after I read Crushed.

I am now working on the sequel to Wrecked called Broken featuring Kadan’s friend, Lane and think another field trip to San Clemente should definitely be on my list. The town with all its Spanish style heritage and Ole Hanson architectural design is a thing of beauty. Plus I owe the Tule team a lot more salted caramel chocolate.

auth_SinclairJayneSinclair has loved reading romance novels since she discovered Barbara Cartland historical romances when she was in sixth grade. By seventh grade, she was haunting the library shelves looking to fall in love over and over again with the heroes born from the imaginations of her favorite authors. After teaching writing classes and workshops to adults and teens for many years in Seattle and Portland, she returned to her first love of reading romances and became an editor for Tule Publishing last year. Sinclair lives in Oregon’s wine country where she and her family own a small vineyard of Pinot Noir and where she dreams of being able to write at a desk like Jane Austen instead of in parking lots waiting for her kids to finish one of their 12,000 extracurricular activities.

 


Patty Blount: The Story Behind the Story of “His Touch”

pattyblount-300dpiA little over a year ago, Jeannie Moon invited Jennifer Gracen, Jolyse Barnett, and me to write a continuity series together that would eventually be called Christmas in New York. I was all for it. But there was just one problem.

I’d never written grown up romance before. My forte was in the YA space.

With Jeannie’s encouragement, I began to brainstorm ideas. At the time, my son and I were planning a trip to Manhattan’s September 11th Memorial and I became consumed with the idea of writing a story about two people whose losses that day left them each deeply scarred. Since I recently lost my mom to breast cancer, I ended up writing that loss into the story — hero and heroine both lost moms. The story, A Match Made at Christmas, was well received and nearly every reader who left a review asked for the same thing:  When will you tell Kara’s story? Kara was introduced in the Christmas book as Elena’s older sister. Abandoned by her baby’s father, Kara is nearing the end of her pregnancy and Elena returns to New York to help her sister cope, where she finds true love with the help of a little matchmaking from her mom in heaven. My sister authors wrote their Christmas stories on the same timeline so all of the friends in Kara’s and Elena’s circle found true love that holiday.

Except for Kara.

So when we decided to write a Summer in New York series, I knew immediately whose story I’d be telling.

My mom was always dumping guilt on me — “You’ll miss this when I’m gone!” she’d say. Another favorite was “Just wait until you have kids of your own; then you’ll understand.” Two years after her death, I was a mess — missing her more than ever and wishing beyond reason I could call her to ask advice about my sons.

Kara’s daughter is eighteen months old and rambunctious, making Kara doubt her abilities and second-guess her decisions. She misses the mom she lost more than ever. Since I could so thoroughly identify with those feelings, the writing came fast and easy and the story started taking shape.

Reid Bennett was harder to develop. I wanted someone who understood the kind of loss Kara was struggling to deal with but he also had to be someone who could help her handle that rambunctious toddler. I actually DID lose my toddler twice in the same day — once in a department store, and once in a park. So that ended up in the story, too. But in this case, I had Reid be the hero both times, just for the sake of being able to add that little touch of magic again….could this be Mom sending another sign from heaven?

It’s entirely up to you to believe it or not.

auth_PattyBlount

Patty Blount writes instruction guides by day and novels by night. On a dare by her oldest son, she wrote her first novel in an ice rink. Though never published, Penalty Killer was the subject of so many seventh grade book reports, the English teacher requested a copy and later returned it, covered in red ink. Patty is always looking for great story ideas. Her debut novel, Send, was conceived after her boss suggested she learn about social networks. Patty lives on Long Island with her family, a fish, and lots of books.


Let’s talk “Crushed” with USA Today Bestselling Author Katherine Garbera!

Katherine Garbera is here with us to discuss her new release, Crushed, of the brand new Sons of San Clemente series!

I love high-octane movies such as the Fast & Furious franchise and hard-edged books with strong alpha heroes like JR Wards Black Dagger Brotherhood, so when I heard Tule was doing a series called Sons of San Clemente my imagination went wild.  I had this character in my head called Con.  He’d grown up on the street and as a teenager had been taken in by a man with a strong moral code along with three other juvenile delinquents.

Con’s natural instinct is to protect whatever he considers his, and after serving three tours in Afghanistan as a SEAL, his skills have been honed.  He’s back in San Clemente working in Preach’s bar, breaking the California beach rules by bringing his rescue pug Buttercup into the surf with him and trying to mind his own business when he notices Mia Santos.

She’s just as beautiful as she’d been in high school even with that big black eye.  She shrugs it off but Con can’t help poking around and figuring out what’s going on.  Once he realizes Mia is caught up in a drug turf war, Con can’t walk away.

This book is edgy, a little violent and very sexy.  Con and Mia are both strong willed people who’ve made mistakes.  They live in a grey area between the law and lawlessness but they live by a code.  Each of them.  Mia would rather live totally in the light but every time she tries she gets drawn back into the underworld.

The book is different than my more recent titles and more like my acclaimed Savage Seven series.

Do you  have a favorite action movie franchise? Tell me about to be entered to win an e-copy of one of my back list titles of your choice.

Sons of San Clemente:

Book 1: Crushed by Katherine Garbera
Book 2: Wrecked by Sinclair Jayne – Pre-order!


Get to know the Amalfi Night Billionaires Authors!

We’re celebrating the Amalfi Night Billionaires with all five authors in the series! Keep reading to learn more about a few of your favorite writers and the latest stories from Holiday Books.

What’s your favorite place and time to write?

KatherineGarbera-Amalfi-300dpiKatherine Garbera: I love to write first thing in the morning.  When I’m in the middle of a book I usually wake up around 4 or 5, hop out of bed, go downstairs and settle into my recliner.  It’s super comfy and I write on my iPad using an app (Hanxwriter) that makes a typewriter sound.  I love it.

Nancy Robards Thompson: Any place except my office. Unfortunately — no, let me rephrase that, fortunately, that’s where I get the best writing done, but sometimes it feels like a cave. It can feel cozy or like a prison depending on the day. I’m a night owl by nature, but I’m trying to get on a regular work-days and sleep-nights schedule. I just can’t pull the all-nighters like I used to.

Kathleen O’Brien: My back porch, in the rain, late afternoon. Unfortunately, I also have to write inside, when it’s dry, morning and sometimes late into the night.  Deadlines are like that.MimiWells-Amalfi-300dpi

Eve Gaddy: My favorite time is when the words are coming. My favorite place is wherever I am when the words are coming. (Seriously, I’m so erratic I don’t have a favorite place or time!)

Tell us something personal that not many readers know about you?

KG: When I worked at Disney as  VIP tour guide I got to meet Dan Marino (my teenaged crush) and got a picture with him. :)

Mimi Wells: There’s not much people don’t know about me (I’m quite the talker), but I will say that I’m quite good at movie dialogue. And when it comes to movies like Monty Python and the Holy Grail, The Princess Bride, Raising Arizona, or Better Off Dead, you can listen with the sound off. I’ll be sure you get everything!

NancyRobardsThompson-Amalfi-300dpiNRT: When I was in college, I worked as a stand-in on the New Mickey Mouse Club television show, which filmed at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. It was such fun and I made a nice wage. Also, I met George Burns, Bob Hope, Annette Funicello and Milli Vanilli, among other celebs when I worked on the show. (KG: insert I worked on the New Mickey Mouse Club as well but our paths never crossed!)

KOB: I’ve never lived anywhere but Florida.  Tampa, Miami, Orlando.  I belong here.  I’m not a “bloom where you’re planted” kind of person.  I need to look around and see the trees I love, smell the flowers I’m used to, watch the same old birds.  Vacations, yes.  Relocate, probably not. :)

EG: I’m a sucker for happy endings.

What is your life motto?

KG: My life is full and blessed.  I love those words because they make me take stock every day in all the good things that I have in my life.

MW: Don’t panic, and always know where your towel is.

NRT: The race is long, and, in the end, it is only with yourself.

KOB: The person who enjoys the most stuff wins.  I’m not big into  pooh-poohing anything automatically.  The family I grew up in believed that, if you couldn’t find something to appreciate in a person, style or idea, you weren’t trying hard enough.KathleenOBrien-Amalfi-300dpi

EG: Enjoy your family and friends. They are your rock that will get you through the bad times and make sure you remember the good ones.

Name five items on your desk right now.

KG: 1) My Jane Austen quote mug

2) Sally Hansen Hard As Nails (writing is tough on my nails)

3) Over the Moon candle

4) Framed photo of my hubby & kids

5) Pop Vinyl figures (Wonder Woman and Luminaire) given to me by my kiddos.

MW: 1) My UCF Knights Tervis cup full of iced tea

2) A pile of CDs

3) Pictures of me and my Puffs (Katherine and Nancy)

4) Way too much paper

5) My tiara.

NRT: 1) A stuffed corgi that my daughter gave me.

2) A glass dish from Murano, Italy.

3) A small bag of lavender.

4) A tube of Burt’s Beewax Lip Balm.

5) An acrylic cell phone stand

KOB: 1) A Ferdinand the Bull figurine, to remind me to stop and smell the flowers, just quietly.

2) A wretched mound of papers waiting to be filed. I try not to see this, ever.

3) Winston Graham’s ROSS POLDARK, in paperback, rippling from a recent dousing on my porch, in the rain. :)

4) My fat, furry cat, Purrsia, who thinks she should sleep where my keyboard should go.

5) A Mary Englebreit desk calendar, torn off to today’s date.  Today’s quote is, “It’s just a bad day, not a bad life.”

EveGaddy-Amalfi-300dpiEG: 1) Several medium sized notebooks with notes

2) TV remotes

3) Cell phone

4) Charger cords

5) Nail file

6) Pens! Oops, that’s six! (KG: that’s because EG is a rebel!)

What makes your billionaire different from the others?

KG: Rocco is a man who goes through life determined to conquer all things. His fears, his competition, Steffi! But really he lives for the challenge and as he gets older he finds the challenge isn’t conquering and moving on as much as it used to be.

MW: Shel’s a bit of a tortured artist underneath all that testosterone that makes him take crazy risks and drive too fast. He made his fortune as a writer/producer and composes improvised jazz piano pieces.

NRT: Matteo De Luca is the oldest and probably the most responsible of the five De Luca brothers. He’s also stubborn, laser focused on what he wants and very passionate.

KOB: Declan Muldoon has recently discovered that much of his family’s fortune was built on corruption.  He has no interest in being a part of all that anymore. As he tries to start his own landscape design business, he’s living down-to-earth, literally and figuratively.

EG: Luke is first generation Italian American and lives in Texas. He got out of the family real estate business to become a private investigator.

Thank you for joining us, ladies! Find the Amalfi Night Billionaires series at your favorite  online retailer.

auth_KathyGarberaKatherine Garbera is the USA Today bestselling author of more than 70 books. She’s the mother of two fabulous kids who make her feel blessed every day to be their mom, the wife of one dynamic games producing husband and chief-treat-giver to one demanding miniature dachshund.  The misplaced Florida girl lives in the midlands of the UK.  Find her on the web at www.katherinegarbera.com, FB: KatherineGarberaAuthor, and on Twitter: @katheringarbera.

unnamedMimi Wells worked as a mother’s helper, an aerobics instructor, an arts magazine editor, a project typist, a grammarian, a graphic designer, a waitress, a lingerie saleswoman, and a soda jerk before finding her niche as an award-winning high school English teacher and writer of young adult and Southern women’s fiction and romance. Mimi reigns as Empress of the Barefoot Domain in sunny Central Florida with her husband, two children, and two Brittanys—all of whom are spoiled completely rotten. Visit Mimi online at http://www.mimiwells.com, like her on Facebook (Mimi Wells Author), or follow @mimi_wells on Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.

auth_NancyRobardsThompsonNational best-selling author Nancy Robards Thompson has worked as a newspaper reporter, television show stand-in, production and casting assistant for movies, and in fashion and public relations. She started writing fiction seriously in 1997. Five years and four completed manuscripts later, she won the Romance Writers of America’s Golden Heart award for unpublished writers and sold her first book the following year. Since then, Nancy has sold 30 books and found her calling doing what she loves most – writing romance and women’s fiction full-time.

auth_KathleenOBrienKathleen O’Brien is the bestselling author of more than forty-five books.  She lives just outside Orlando with her former newspaper-editor husband.  Their two terrific grown children–and their own great spouses–live nearby, which, for her, constitutes the perfect world.  She’s a five-time Rita finalist, and the winner of the Maggie, the Holt and the Colorado Romance Writers Award of Excellence.

auth_EveGaddy3Eve Gaddy is the Bestselling, Award Winning author of more than twenty-three books. She’s the mother of two great children and the grandmother of three absolutely adorable girls. She lives in East Texas with her husband of many years and her Cocker Spaniel, who her husband says is incredibly spoiled and who thinks she is the Queen of the Household.


Jennifer Gracen takes over the Tule Blog for Read A Romance Month!

Jennifer Gracen:

I love romantic love. I always have. It’s my favorite thing to read, and obviously to write. One of the biggest joys for me about romance novels is watching the main characters build and find a connection. That spark, that feeling of knowing, that “wow, you really get me!” kind of connection. Physical attraction is important of course, but truthfully, that’s the lust part. And that element only means something in romance because it compels the characters into each other’s space. But what keeps them there, or makes them keep coming back for more? Both in real life and on the page, what makes a relationship something real, something special, is that deep soulful connection that two people find as they’re falling in love. And when two people connect in such a way, it can be downright magical.

I think that true love, at its core, is finding another person that you feel that inexplicable but undeniable click with, and it’s completely mutual and reciprocated. It’s feeling truly understood and appreciated for who you are, in a way you don’t with others. And yeah, being crazy attracted to them is an amazing, heady rush all its own. But true connection is something that can’t be manufactured or wished into existence. You just FEEL it. And it’s amazing. Sheer joy.

In romance, we like to watch characters connect, on several levels—emotionally, physically, and spiritually. Isn’t that what everyone really wants, deep down? And in a romance novel, watching the story unfold and the characters make their way toward each other… the magical little moments that sparkle and heat with that budding connection… that euphoria is what makes it resonate for me when reading. It’s also one of my favorite elements of what I love about writing romance. Reading and writing about that kind of connection brings me joy. It gives us hope that that kind of joy is possible for all of us.

QUESTIONS:

  1. Tell us about a moment in your life when you experienced sheer joy. In May 2015, I was driving home along beautiful roads on the North Shore of Long Island, the lush trees as a canopy overhead and the sunlight sparkling off the Long Island Sound to my right. I’d just left a fabulous dinner with some of my closest writing friends, after a lovely afternoon spent amongst colleagues at the Long Island Romance Writers’ big annual luncheon. Between the gorgeous scenery outside, the upbeat song playing in my car, and thinking over the events of the day, I was suddenly overcome with gratitude for how special and fun the whole day had been. And it hit me: I’m a professional published author, and my writing career is starting to really happen. It was a moment of realization that all the hard work I’d been doing for years was finally starting to pay off. I was overcome by such gratitude and joy, something like soul deep euphoria, that it brought tears to my eyes. It was powerful and wonderful. Sheer joy.
  2. Tell us about a place that brings you joy, or is attached to a memory of joy. A place that brings me memories of joy is the little house in the Poconos that my uncle used to own. Throughout my childhood, until my late teens, my family would all go there together for a weekend: my mother and brother, my grandparents, my uncle, and me. It was less than three hours from Long Island to the Poconos. Nestled deep in the woods, the simple wooden house had a long backyard that went right to the edge of a lake. I loved being surrounded by all the trees, or staring out to the water beyond from the back deck. I could read or write for hours and no one would make me stop. I can even hear my grandparents laughing in the sun room if I think hard enough. We had great times there.
  3. Tell us about a sound that brings you joy (or a memory attached to sound). Of course, my children laughing would be that, but that’s an easy answer. The sound of wind rustling softly through leaves also brings me joy. To me, it’s soothing, peaceful, and life affirming, all at the same time.
  4. What recent book have you read that brought you joy? The most recent book I read that left me all warm and fuzzy inside, happy for the characters’ HEA, was The Boyfriend List by Jeannie Moon. http://jeanniemoon.com/books/list/  Nate is my new book boyfriend. I like guys that are alpha but with a sweet side, and smart, and sexy… he’s all of that and more. And I was so rooting for Jenna to get out of her own way, and she did. Loved it.
  5. For fun, the joy of choice – pick your Chris! Even though there’s a ton of them, I had a hard time picking my Chris! Came down to either Christopher Reeve (in his Superman days, that man was stunning and charming and everything) or rock singer Chris Cornell (his voice is aural sex).

RECOMMENDATIONS:

There are so many wonderfully talented authors out there, I could put together a list that would stretch on for pages. But off the top of my head:

Eloisa James  www.eloisajames.com – I love historical romance, and Eloisa’s writing just shines with wit, intelligence, and high emotion.

Jill Shalvis  www.jillshalvis.com – I know there’s no such thing as perfect, but her contemporary romances are the closest thing to it I’ve read in the genre. Her stories are packed with humor, emotion, and heeeeat.

Jane Porter  www.janeporter.com – I don’t cry often from books, but her Christmas At Copper Mountain had me bawling. Gut punches of emotion in her stories.

Rebecca J. Clark  www.rebeccajclark.com – I adore her small town romances. Her characters are so relatable, and are full of heat and the emotion.

This was so fun to do! Thank you Tule Publishing for hosting me on your blog and for asking me to be a part of this, Lorelei’s Lit Lair and Bobbi! Being a part of Read A Romance Month is an honor.

You can find Lorelei’s Lit Lair essay here.

BIO:

Jennifer Gracenauth_JenniferGracen writes contemporary romance and romantic women’s fiction. She likes to write about tangled mature relationships, with equal doses of humor, warmth, passion, and gravity. A mother of two young boys, she originally hails from Long Island, New York and lives there currently. When not spending time with her family and friends, reading, or writing, she also does freelance copy editing and proofreading, and is a professed social media addict. Her latest book, HIS LOVE, was released by Tule Publishing in July. It’s one of three novels in the Summer in New York series.

More info can be found at her website: www.jennifergracen.com


Fun Facts: The Fairy Tales of New York

All four authors of The Fairy Tales of New York series are here! Who’s ready to chat fun facts about these amazing stories?

KellyHunter-300dpiKelly Hunter

When Amy and Heidi first spoke of writing stories that riffed off fairy tales, stories set around an old Irish pub in Brooklyn, I was so on board. Add convent schools and many brothers and honestly, I didn’t know which bits to sink teeth into first. I chose the youngest brother as my hero, called him Finbar, and promptly made him a musician – a Broadway pit musician to begin with. Possibly a composer. Or maybe a session musician. It got so bad that the other authors took to checking what he was this week. And then he got ambitious. The king of instruments, the violin, for my guy? Done. Insane talent, ruthlessly harnessed? Sure. Steely determination, passion, patience and perseverance? A necessity, given the heroine I had in mind for him. In the end I made him a world-class concert violinist and got busy listening to real-world violinists play. As for that pesky problem of the baby of the family not alpha’ing up? Gone.

 

HeidiRice-300dpiHeidi Rice

In October 2013 I went on a 2-week road trip to the US with my best mate. We decided to Air BnB it, which meant staying in a garage apartment in the Louisiana bayou, a cabin in the Texas Hill Country and a housebarge in Brooklyn among other places. That housebarge stuck with me and when I decided to do a riff on Rapunzel for my story and my runaway supermodel needed to escape from her ivory tower with a hero who had a place for her to stay which would be safe from the press… Well, that housebarge, tucked away in a little marina off Knapp St, seemed perfect. Then I had to figure out why my heroine was running from the press and I remembered the day we walked to Manhattan Beach and – because it was scorching hot and the beach was beautiful and not at all what we’d expected to find in Brooklyn – we were dying to go for a dip but had no swimsuits with us. So we went swimming in our underwear! As you do. Bit mad, especially when all the local Russian Orthodox Jewish mamas started giving us funny looks… Still I’m glad to say we didn’t get picked up for disorderly conduct like Zelda, my heroine, but it was touch and go there for a while…

LucyKing-300dpiLucy King

Way way back when we were brainstorming characters I blithely announced that my heroine was going to be Argentinian, from a family of renowned vintners, and hey, wouldnʼt it be fun if one of her quirks was identifying the wines that best represented her friends? Well, yes, great fun in theory. If I actually knew anything about wine. But I donʼt – other than red, white, yum, bleugh. Luckily for Mercy, though, my husband – the proud possessor of a Diploma in Wine and Spirits – does. The beverages Mercy chooses for Faith, Dawn, Zel and Seb are therefore entirely down to him!

 

 

 

AmyAndrews-300dpiAmy Andrews

The Trouble With Brothers.

We all had a lot of fun writing these books for a lot of reasons. One of them was we had an abundance of brothers we could divvy up between our heroines. But at the end of the mad scrum for sexy Irish/American brothers we had 2 spares.

Ronan and Casey, the twins. I named Ronan after Ronan Keating and  Heidi wanted Casey for some reason I can’t even remember now. I think it might have had something to do with Casey Affleck but I digress….Back to those spare brothers of Faith.

We knew they were delightfully scruffy musicians  – how could they not be growing up in an Irish pub in Brooklyn with a passionately Irish father?? – with their own band who played cool modern stuff with an Irish feel to it – think Mumford and Sons – with a growing YouTube following and a busy gig schedule. The problem came with where did they live? Because we started with them still living at home above Sully’s with good old pop and dependable Faith but soon there were hilarious conversations on our email loop about grown men sleeping in their Spiderman PJ’s in their kiddy bunk beds and it just all felt wrong. Especially if we wanted to use them as future heroes. So we moved them out to some low rent dive they share with a few other struggling musos and they, and we, were much happier.  The problem now is of course – we have two more brothers…..Surely they need an HEA too?

Which of these stories have you read so far? Let the authors know what you thought, or if they’re still on your TBR list!