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Liz Flaherty is a reader favorite!

Read Nan Reinhardt's latest release

4 Star Review from a Goodreads Reader!

5 Star Review for Breakup in a Small Town

Readers Love Kristina Knight's Slippery Rock Series

Tuesday, May 26

The Meaning of Cleaning - by Janie DeVos


    

                                                      




     I keep hearing from friends that they’ve been ambitiously cleaning their homes from top to bottom since our stay-at-home order was put into place.  The biggie seems to be cleaning out one’s closet: People are purging, organizing and color coordinating everything from blouses and belts, to jackets and jeans, and ridding themselves of those countless items that we swear to ourselves we’ll get back into at some point, or that should have been tossed out along with the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack. 

Last weekend, a friend finally broke down from strictly adhering to the social distancing orders, and drove an hour and a half to pick up her sorely missed granddaughters, and then drove them back to her house for an all-girl weekend of pizza-eating, movie-watching and spring-cleaning.  I figured that she figured it was either break the shelter in place order and go get her much-needed grandchildren fix, or have madness descend upon her like a dark and lonely cloak.  She opted to keep her sanity and spent time with her beloved teens, some of which was spent organizing her closets.  She said that by the time they were done, if they’d attached price tags to each item, you’d have sworn you were walking through Macy’s, or had jumped right through the TV screen and landed on the set of QVC.  She took pictures for posterity sake. 

The other day, while my husband shampooed our carpet, I cleaned out my office desk.  Now, one would wonder how hard and time consuming the latter of those tasks could be.  Well, it took the better part of the morning, and the things that I found in and amongst all the necessary and usual office items would most certainly have been of great interest to entomologists, as well as the appraisers on the Antiques Road Show.  In the end, my freshly sharpened #2 pencils were lined up in their tray, and every stray rubber band and paperclip had found its proper home in their thoroughly cleansed plastic boxes.  As I stared into my top drawer, admiring my neat little row of scotch tape and White-Out, it suddenly occurred to me why we’re all in a cleaning frenzy.  I believe it goes well beyond the reason that we finally have the time to do it, or that we’re bored enough to do it.  I believe we’re doing it as a subconscious way of readying ourselves for a fresh new start, and one way of doing that is to become unencumbered by those things that no longer work for us. 

As we slowly begin returning to some semblance of normalcy, I think we want to get back out into the world feeling as polished and primed as possible.  It reminds me of starting a new school year when I made sure I had just the right outfits to wear and made room for them by giving away those pieces I’d outgrown.  I also tossed out old notebooks and replaced them with new ones.  Somehow, by starting out the school year that way, I felt a certain confidence that I was as prepared as possible, and that the year ahead was a clean slate that was waiting to be filled, just like the empty pages in my notebooks.  I can’t help but think that subconsciously we’re doing the same thing today as we throw out the old and make room for the new in our own little personal corners of the world.  Maybe by doing so, it makes us feel a little more in control of…well…something, and better prepared to meet head-on whatever new world awaits us out there, even if it does seem like one gigantic messy closet for awhile. 

Sunday, May 24

Two Books on Sale!

Jana Richards has Two Books on Sale!

TO HEAL A HEART releases June 15, 2020!
Book 2, Masonville Small Town series

Pre-Order Sale on Now! Get your copy for $2.99


Two souls in pain, two hearts in need of rescue.



Garrett Saunders' world changed two years ago on a road in Afghanistan. Back home, he feels like a stranger. As he struggles to find his place in the world, he meets a horse destined for the slaughterhouse and a woman bent on rescuing the strays of the world, including him.

Blair Greyson moves to Masonville to look after her ailing grandfather and give her rescue horses a home. Right away she butts heads with a surly former Marine. Despite a rocky start, they come to an agreement: Blair will board Garrett's rescue horse and he'll help with repairs around her farm.

Garrett finds purpose working with Blair—and falls in love with her. But she's hiding a secret. Can she forgive herself and accept Garrett's love, or will she let guilt and regret continue to rule her life?


Buy Links:



Child of Mine 
Book 1, Masonville Small Town series

On Sale for .99 cents until May 29, 2020!



Is Lauren’s love for Cole stronger than her fear of scandal in her hometown?

Lauren didn't intend to sleep with her brother-in-law Cole on the day of her husband's funeral. But now that she is pregnant, she's not sorry. Cole's given her a baby, a long-wished-for miracle. He's been her friend forever, though she never told him or anyone else how unhappy her marriage to his cheating brother was. And she's afraid to tell the small town that considered her husband a hero that the baby isn't his.

Cole's been in love with Lauren since he was sixteen. It kills him that everyone believes the baby is his dead brother's. All he wants is to claim the baby, and Lauren, as his own. Though she marries him, will Lauren's heart ever be his?

Lauren must tell the truth or risk losing Cole. Is her newly-discovered love for him greater than her fear of scandal in her hometown?


Friday, May 22

Happy Graduation, Kyle!


by Margie Senechal

My nephew, Kyle, is one of the 2020 high school graduates whose graduation ceremony is still in limbo because of the pandemic. Forty years ago, I also graduated under the shadow of a national story—the eruption of Mt. St. Helens. For months before and after our graduation, that mountain stole the spotlight, especially as we live in the valley of said volcano.


So, with a forty year retrospective 20-20 vision, I’m going to give Kyle advice that I wished I’d known when I was 18 and looking for independence.


Dear Kyle,


Be brave. No, I’m not going to make you board a roller coaster. But, do be brave as you face your future. Be brave enough to try out different things and follow your passions. You don’t need to decide today or tomorrow what you want to do with the rest of your life, so take your time and do a little experimenting. 

Jerry Seinfeld once said, “Do you know why adults are always asking kids what they want to be when they grow up? It’s because they’re looking for ideas.” I think that might be true.


Explore. Take classes that interest you along with whatever required ones you have to take. The most memorable class I took was an Ancient World History class. Have I ever used that information? I don’t think so. But, man did I love learning it—even if I’ve forgotten most of it by now. 


Don’t be afraid to fail. Failing and learning from our failures is what makes us better at our jobs and our crafts. I promise you won’t regret taking chances even if they backfire, but you will regret not taking some of those chances.


And finally, fight the Wilkinson complacency gene. There are many good things that come from the Wilkinsons (our sense of humor, to be sure). But, there is also the unambitious coupled with procrastination gene that hinders our choices. So fight that with the bulldozing Baker gene. 


Wait. I have another And finally


Be true to you. Trust yourself. Trust your dreams. Trust your values. Be true to you.



Love you, Kid, and happy graduation!

Tuesday, May 19

On Planning During Quarantine ~ @AuthorKristina Knight

I think I've gone on a time or three about my love for planners and notebooks. I have at least 20 empty notebooks just waiting to be used and I salivate over the planner releases every spring/summer/fall from the different planner companies. For the past four years I've used a Happy Planner, but this year I decided to go a different route and I chose the Passion Planner. So far, I'm loving it.

One thing I really like about planners is that you can create them to reflect your personality (I adore floral sticks and motivational quotes), you can add pages to them for tracking different things, and you can write down special memories or events along with mundane day-to-day lists like "clean the oven". This week my mundane lists include several loads of laundry, dusting and sanitizing the house, and cleaning the carpets. We'll see how much of that gets done.

During quarantine/COVID-19, I've used my planner very much as an attitude adjuster and anxiety reducer. Both RadioMan and I have essential jobs (though mine is really part-time because I also write), so we've been working through quarantine. But there was bebe's school-at-home to get through, a cleaning/sanitizing routine to develop...and then there were all of the 'how do we ____' during a pandemic? For the first week or so, I was feeling very anxious about the situation. I was doing things two and three times because there was so much in my head that I couldn't remember what I'd already done. It wasn't a good situation. So I started using my planner as a list-making tool: do these four things today. Do these five things tomorrow. And I'd brain-dump at the end of the day what new things I'd thought of. Getting all the stuff in my head into my planner was really theraputic; it didn't take away the anxiety about the pandemic, in general, but I didn't have all the 'did I remember to ___' stuff increasing that anxiety. Plus, it helped to show bebe how creating a schedule (while boring to an 11 year old) really does help you free up time to do fun stuff (which is important to an 11 year old) in your day.

What I loved about the Happy Planner is that it was disc-bound so I could add pages in wherever I wanted. I don't have that ability with the Passion Planner, but they do have about 20 extra pages in the back which can be used for different things. Here are a few of the pages I've created this year - several of them during this quarantine time - to keep me motivated, to lessen anxiety, and just to have fun.

The books pages - this is a two page spread that I set up to look like book shelves. I have an actual
reader journal where I write my thoughts about different books. This is just a listing of the books I've read (so far) in the year...and as you can see, it's pretty out-dated because I've read at least 15 books so far this year. Note to self: update your extra planner pages, Kristina!

My mood tracker (see the Wellness image above) - this one isn't so much a mood tracker as a 'how I'm feeling' tracker. I tend toward migraines when I don't get enough sleep but weather can also play a part. I wanted a way to track how I was feeling, so I decided to assign highlighter colors and I fill in each day according to how I'm feeling - sick, good, tired...you get the picture. And then I added in a weather tracker - again, assigning highlighter colors for cold, warm, snowy, rainy, cloudy. I've been able to see where a long string of cloudy/cold weather makes me tired (meaning I need to make an effort to get some Vitamin D in) and I've had a couple of days where the barometric pressure changed rapidly and threw me into headache/migraine mode. And with my health tracker (workouts, logging food, bedtimes, reading) I can also see how, when I missed 'bed by 10pm' several days in a row (and was therefore tired) how that affected how I was feeling. Note to self: go to bed on time, Kristina!


And then there are fun things - like my gratitude jar. This is something I started about the third week of COVID/quarantine. I wanted a place where I could write down things, people, etc. that make me happy or grateful. You'll see RadioMan and bebe right up at the time. I don't fill this in every day, but periodically, I'll go through my stickers (I love stickers!) and put a few down in my jar. I think it'll be fun to look back on the jar after I've filled it up this year.

The last page I created, and that I'll create with every planner going
forward, is my Clifton Strengths/High Five page. I took this test after reading Gretchen Rubin's Four Tendancies book in ... I think 2016? But this is the first time I've added them into my planner. It just felt like this was a good thing to add into this planner because the Passion Planner is all about goal setting/planning. This idea I borrowed from another author, Robin Covington, who had an insert printed for her planner, but since I can't add in pages to my Passion Planner, I used stickers. I like how it turned out!

This page, in particular, helps me remember, on days when I'm feeling all floopy (as Phoebe Buffay would say) what it is that I bring to the table. It's a motivational page for me, but it's also a page that makes me think about what it is that I put out in the world. It reminds me that I am a unique person with a lot of skills and strengths...and that I only need to think about how whatever goal I'm working toward fits in to those areas.

Are you a planner?        ~ Kristina

Sunday, May 17

Two Books on #Sale!

Two Books by Jana Richards on Sale!

TO HEAL A HEART releases June 15, 2020!
Book 2, Masonville Small Town series

Pre-Order Sale on Now! Get your copy for $2.99


Two souls in pain, two hearts in need of rescue.


Garrett Saunders' world changed two years ago on a road in Afghanistan. Back home, he feels like a stranger. As he struggles to find his place in the world, he meets a horse destined for the slaughterhouse and a woman bent on rescuing the strays of the world, including him.

Blair Greyson moves to Masonville to look after her ailing grandfather and give her rescue horses a home. Right away she butts heads with a surly former Marine. Despite a rocky start, they come to an agreement: Blair will board Garrett's rescue horse and he'll help with repairs around her farm.

Garrett finds purpose working with Blair—and falls in love with her. But she's hiding a secret. Can she forgive herself and accept Garrett's love, or will she let guilt and regret continue to rule her life?


Buy Links:



Child of Mine 
Book 1, Masonville Small Town series

On Sale for .99 cents until May 29, 2020!



Is Lauren’s love for Cole stronger than her fear of scandal in her hometown?

Lauren didn't intend to sleep with her brother-in-law Cole on the day of her husband's funeral. But now that she is pregnant, she's not sorry. Cole's given her a baby, a long-wished-for miracle. He's been her friend forever, though she never told him or anyone else how unhappy her marriage to his cheating brother was. And she's afraid to tell the small town that considered her husband a hero that the baby isn't his.

Cole's been in love with Lauren since he was sixteen. It kills him that everyone believes the baby is his dead brother's. All he wants is to claim the baby, and Lauren, as his own. Though she marries him, will Lauren's heart ever be his?

Lauren must tell the truth or risk losing Cole. Is her newly-discovered love for him greater than her fear of scandal in her hometown?

Friday, May 15

Unconditional love...or is it? by Liz Flaherty #WordWranglers

What do you believe unconditional love looks like? 

I had some trouble getting started today. Not that I ever have trouble talking, even when it's in blog form, but just like planning what to fix for dinner, I also have trouble figuring out what to talk about. So I go to Journal Buddies and find an idea. If this is cheating, I don't want to know, so don't tell me, okay?

So...unconditional love. At first, I thought, well, how easy is that? I love my kids and grandkids unconditionally, of course. I'm shocked when parents disown their children because of situational or lifestyle differences. I understand some of the emotions that lead them to that point--anger, disappointment, dismay, embarrassment, exhaustion, to name a few--but at the end of the parental day, the kids are still your heart. Yeah, easy. 

Then I thought about marriages, especially long ones. They're not easy. Not in the first year and not in the fiftieth. I don't believe--and I can only speak for myself--that the love you feel in early marriage is unconditional. It's intense, for sure, and exciting and, my God, so much fun, but looking back, I fell out of love with Duane pretty often. And fell back in as soon as the storms calmed. As the years went on, I stopped falling out. (Hopefully he did, too. 💓) So now, approaching that fiftieth year, I believe the love we share is unconditional.

Although I'm determined that just this one thing I'm writing not be about the
coronavirus, I must admit that it has added to the preciousness of those we love unconditionally. When I see my 10-year-old grandson again, he may very well be looking down at me--that's just how fast they grow and change.

What we write about as romance novelists, though, is also unconditional love, isn't it? Realistically, we know that not 100 percent of all the heroes and heroines in our stories would live Happily Ever After; that we don't have to honor that knowledge is a gift to readers and to ourselves.

I've never even addressed the original question up there, have I? What does unconditional love looks like? This is where I see it.
  •  Forgiveness 
  •  Volunteerism without expectation of recognition 
  •  Faith without judgment of others
  •  Kindness without cause 
  •  "Love is taking a few steps backward, maybe even more, to give way to the happiness of the person you love." - Winnie the Pooh 
  •  Forgiveness. (Yeah, I know that's twice--that's how important it is.) 
What about you? What do you think it looks like--or who?

***
If you're looking for something to read, get your copy of The Healing Summer. I think Carol's story--not just the romance, but the story of her--is an example of unconditional love, too. Let me know what you think.