Posted in ebook reader, writing

It’s a morning in May

photo

I’ve mentioned before that I’m a cold weather fan – I love warm sweaters and fuzzy socks, soft afghans, hot tea and a roaring fire. Arkansas summers are brutal when the temperature soars over a hundred degrees, but I must admit springtime in Arkansas makes it easier for me to say goodbye to the cooler weather. Azaleas, dogwoods, wisteria and other spring blooms are out in force now, which makes leisurely country drives especially appealing. I took the photo above last week at the Little Red River in north central Arkansas on a pleasant family outing. Local farmer’s markets are open, offering the fresh fruits and veggies I love. I enjoy attending small-town festivals, and I’m looking forward to visiting Toad Suck Daze this weekend in nearby Conway (I’ll post photos next week). Summer means vacation, and this summer all three of our “kids,” our son-in-law — and our new baby grandson! — will be together with us for the first time in two years when our family gathers for a visit to New England. So maybe I don’t mind so much leaving winter behind this year, after all (it doesn’t hurt that we’re having a particularly cool spring, letting me hang on to the fuzzy socks and the afghan a bit longer than usual).

Today also marks the release date for my newest Harlequin Special Edition, THE TEXAN’S SURPRISE BABY. Click the home tab above for story details. The book is available in stores and in e-format for all e-book readers. Whatever your medium, I hope you enjoy spending time with the Walker and Bell families as much as I did!

Visit me on my Facebook page (link at right) and tell me what you’re looking forward to this summer. From this cool, cloudy spring morning in Arkansas — happy May Day, y’all!

Posted in Uncategorized, writing

The name game

I spend a considerable amount of time thinking about names, carefully choosing names for the characters in my books. Heroes and heroines, family members and friends, secondary and walk-on characters — each name has to fit the personality of the person I’ve envisioned as I write. I peruse baby name books, on-line baby name sites, watch credits after movies and TV shows for interesting names that seem to suit the people I’m creating … and sometimes the characters just tell me their names as I write. If I choose a wrong name for a hero or heroine, one that just doesn’t seem to “fit,” it becomes clear to me fairly quickly. The story just won’t move until I find a name that makes both me and my character happy.

In my March, 2013 Harlequin Special Edition, THE RIGHT TWIN, I’ll introduce a new family, the Bells (and reintroduce a couple of characters from a familiar family, the Walkers from my long-running Family Found series). The Bell family got their moniker when a name popped into my head while I was in Seattle visiting my daughter earlier this year and started outlining a new book one day while she was at work. I envisioned a quirky family matriarch named Dixie Bell, a woman who wasn’t particularly happy with that name, so insists that everyone call her by her grandmother name, “Mimi.” Then I started naming her family members — her husband, Carl Bell, Sr., sons Carl, Jr., and Bryan, granddaughters Shelby, Hannah and Maggie (all of whom you’ll be meeting in the next three books), youngest granddaughter Lori and grandson Steven. Whew. Lots of time spent at the baby name sites — a pleasant diversion as I get distracted reading name meanings, etymology, frequency of usage and any other trivia available there.

John and I spent many hours deliberating over names for our children (but then, we’ve been known to deliberate for days over names for pets). Our older daughter was named after a character in one of my favorite books as a teenager, our  second daughter’s name is an alternate spelling of her paternal great-grandmother’s name combined with a middle name taken from one of my and my husband’s favorite films, and our son is named partially after his father — the fourth “John” in five generations of his maternal grandmother’s family — and partially after The Incredible Hulk (the TV one, David rather than Bruce). His older sister chose that name because she loved watching reruns of The Incredible Hulk and loved the name David. As it happened, so did we. Even our cat Izzie is named from a family-favorite film. It has meaning to us.

I enjoyed watching our daughter and son-in-law go through the process of choosing a name for the little boy they’re expecting in December. They considered and discarded dozens, running some past their friends and family, debating others together. Choosing a child’s name seems so momentous — how will it affect his life? His relationships? His self-esteem? How will it look on kindergarten papers, diplomas, job applications? Quite daunting, actually, and a big responsibility. They considered favorite books, movies, historical figures, ethnic origins. And yet when they finally chose the name they knew was perfect for their son, it came from a restaurant menu. They’ll have a great story to tell little Ephraim someday about his name. Our son-in-law amusingly chronicled the ah-ha moment in his blog: http://1eyeatatime.blogspot.com/2012/09/a-story-about-lunch.html

Expecting our first grandchild has given my husband and me another challenge — choosing our grandparent names! Knowing how our parents became known to everyone by their grandparent names after the births of their grandchildren, we want something we don’t mind answering to often. I’ve had a name in mind for a few years (yes, I’ve planned for this event!), but John is still giving the matter careful consideration. It’s interesting to choose names for ourselves — the first time in our lives we’ve actually had that opportunity, come to think about it.

I hope you’ll enjoy meeting the members of the Bell family, beginning with THE RIGHT TWIN in March, 2013 and continuing in THE TEXAN’S SURPRISE BABY in May. In the meantime, many of my previously-published books are available in ebook format and from Harlequin.com. Click the Books tab above for details and links for Kindle and Nook readers.

Posted in Uncategorized, writing

Pieces of April

The Old Mill, North Little Rock, Arkansas (featured in the opening of the 1939 film Gone With the Wind).

April has always been one of my favorite months. With the exception of the usual spring storms, April is a beautiful time in Arkansas. The leaves are new and green, flowers are blooming, the nice temperatures invite us to play outside in “the natural state” without the stifling heat we know will arrive later in the summer. Yes, pollen covers everything in a fine yellow film, and sneezes are as common as smiles, but it really is a wonderful time of year.

My mother’s birthday was in April. She’d have marked her 80th on the 18th of this month (75 was the last she was able to celebrate with us). Her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren remembered our beloved “Nana” on her birthday this year, sending our love to her in her new home. She and my father were married on April 28, 1953 — so happy 59th anniversary to my dad, who is still with us! Easter is usually in April, and I have many happy family memories centered around that holiday — egg hunts and big meals, family portraits and frilly dresses.

John and I welcomed both of our daughters into our family in April. Courtney’s birthday is the 1st (our April Fool child) and Kerry’s is today, the 23rd. Happy birthday to both of these amazing young women who have brought us so much joy.

This year, April marked the publication of my 100th Harlequin book – HUSBAND FOR A WEEKEND – another happy celebration for me! The book is still available in stores and on-line (story details on the home page). I hope you’ll check it out, if you haven’t already. And this month I’ve also released a somewhat different-for-me paranormal story for Kindle only (and free Kindle reading app for PC and smartphones, if you don’t have a Kindle). So it has been a busy and memorable month.

Today is absolutely gorgeous here in Arkansas, a little cool but sunny and clear. While I’m working on my next book, I’ll take breaks occasionally to wander outside and admire the blooming roses and smell the honeysuckle (and maybe sneeze a few times, but I’m used to that). Whatever your weather today (even snow in some parts of the country!), I hope you find a few moments to appreciate the small pleasures.

Posted in Uncategorized, writing

Check it out!

I’ll be in Seattle with my daughter for another few days, and while summer seems to have already settled in back home in Arkansas with highs in the 80s, spring is just coming to the Pacific Northwest. The highs here have been in the 40s and 50s, still a little cool, but warming. I’ve seen a lot of rain during the past few weeks, of course, but also some absolutely beautiful blue skies above the surrounding snow-capped Cascade and Olympic mountains. The cherry trees are starting to bloom, along with daffodils, early rhododendrons, other flowers, bushes and flowering trees I don’t even know names for. And everywhere I look, towering evergreens remind me why Seattle is called the Emerald City. Just beautiful.

While I’ve been with her, my daughter has helped me update my site here a bit. I have a new front page with covers from current books, links for FAQ and a sign-up for email updates of upcoming releases, and links to all my past books that are now available for Kindle and/or Nook. Within the next few days, my first fifteen published books will be re-released as Kindle exclusives (some are already available there — links are provided on the Books page). And my paranormal suspense novel, WAKE ME, will be released very soon. HUSBAND FOR A WEEKEND, my newest Harlequin Special Edition, is available in stores and for ereaders now. It’s a very exciting time for me, and it was definitely time for an update here! Thanks, Courtney.

Join me on my Facebook page (link provided at right) for more frequent updates and conversations. I love hearing from fellow book lovers!