Wednesday, July 3, 2024

What I'm Reading Now (and some cute puffins)

I've been reading Jenny Colgan's Little Beach Street Bakery series (I've read most of her series and loved them all--such great characters). I highly recommend them. They take place predominantly on an island, a seaside resort in Cornwall, connected to the mainland by a causeway that is only above water twice a day. Of course, there's romance and interesting neighbors, drama and--because Polly, the main character, is a baker--recipes.

There's also an adorable puffin, Neil, who plays a part. So here's a video of some other cute puffins (I recommend--as always--that you click on the full screen button).

I hope you find something you love to read as much as I enjoyed these books. Have a great day!


Saturday, June 22, 2024

Larkspur Adventures

For years I've had larkspur in my yard. I'm not sure where the flowers came from. They weren't here (at least not that I remember) when we moved in years ago, but along the way the wind or a bird must have carried some seeds our way, and there's always been a small patch with a few odd ones elsewhere here and there. 

They're supposed to be somewhat toxic to rabbits, and though we have a lot of rabbits, they never touched the larkspur, or so I thought. Then, two years ago, I saw a baby(ish) rabbit nibbling away, and he (she?) pretty much ate the entire main patch of flowers. 

I've tried growing them from seed, but without much luck even though I've chilled the seeds (they require stratification). So...I figured that was it for my larkspur summers. But then something happened. I grow (as mentioned here many times) dahlias, and I've usually just planted and staked them. My husband, however, suggested that with all the rabbits and squirrels, maybe we should enclose them (a good idea, since a squirrel lopped off the entire top of one I had in a pot). So, last year we did that. When the dahlias began to grow, I noticed that there were also a few straggling larkspur plants. 

Larkspur flowers reseed themselves, so those that were protected in the dahlia enclosure, safe from rabbit nibbling, had plenty of opportunities to spread their seeds unmolested. The result is that this year I actually had difficulty finding places to fit in the dahlias amidst the larkspur (they show their first hints of green earlier than a lot of other flowers). Now, the two types of flowers are sharing space, and it looks pretty nice. I'll have to take care not to let them take over the entire space, so I can still plant dahlias, but for this year, I'm very happy. (Oh, one more note: they've gotten very tall, much taller than they ever did in the past, so I'm wondering if the rabbits weren't munching on the tops of them all along and I just didn't see it happening). 

Now if I could just figure out what's gotten into my Cosmos patch. I'm guessing earwigs or snails, but I could be wrong. Another mystery to solve.

Have a wonderful day! 


Wednesday, June 12, 2024

What I've Been Reading Lately (Sort of)

This is really more of a post about contemporary romance, something I rarely read (I know. That sounds a bit odd since it's what I write/have written). Back when I first started publishing, I tended to stay away from reading contemporaries because I didn't want to risk accidentally (subconsciously) absorbing something from a book I'd read and then somehow incorporate it into my own work. Plus, I like historical romance a lot and that, along with some odds and ends fantasy, science fiction, literary and nonfiction tends to be what I focus on the most.

But there are some awesome new (or newer) contemporary romance writers, and their work is part of what I've been reading lately. I just finished The Love Hypothesis by Ali Hazelwood. This isn't the first book I've read by her and it won't be the last. She does a great job of world building (her books are set in the scientific community because the author works in that world) and the dialogue is sharp and snappy and funny. I highly recommend her.

Then there's Helen Hoang's The Kiss Quotient, the first in a 3-book series. The heroine of the book is on the autism spectrum, as is the author. She has said that she originally wanted to write a gender-swapped Pretty Woman, and that is a good description of where the book begins. I've read the two other books in the series and also loved both of those. 

Then there's Abby Jimenez. Her books tend to deal with serious subjects. The one I'm recommending today, Yours Truly, is actually book 2 in her Part of Your World, 3-book series. I've read all three, but for some reason, I read them out of order and this is the last one I got around to. The heroine is an ER doctor and her brother needs a kidney, badly. The hero, a new ER doctor at her hospital, suffers from severe anxiety, something which creates problems for him and doesn't always endear him to others. He's also the man who is going to get the promotion she wants, and he becomes her brother's donor (I'm not giving anything away. It's in the book description). Oh, and she's on the verge of finalizing her divorce after her husband cheated on her with her best friend. There's a lot going on here, but it all worked for me.

Lastly (for today) is Emily Henry's Funny Story. There's been a lot of buzz about her books, and two of them (I think) are being made into movies. The Goodreads description of this one is "A shimmering, joyful new novel about a pair of opposites with the wrong thing in common."
I've read most of her books (maybe all. I might have missed one), and enjoyed every one of them. The heroine initially get together in a unique and intriguing way. 

So those are the contemporary romances I've been reading lately. If you want to give them a try, there are a number of books available from each author.

Happy Reading!


Monday, June 3, 2024

Why Would An Author Retitle Books? Here's My Story

For the first twentyish years I was writing and selling books, Harlequin was the publisher of all of my books. Then I moved on and started requesting that the rights to some of my books revert to me. I re-edited them, got new covers and republished them myself, but Harlequin and I had reached an agreement wherein they still retained the manga rights of some (not all) books, while I retained the English publishing rights. That meant when readers looked for the book under the original title, all they would see was the manga cover, so it looked as if the book was just a cartoon graphic novel. To find the other version, you had to click through. So, in the cases where Harlequin was/is still publishing a book in manga form, I've changed the titles, either slightly or completely. However, in the book description, I always note what the original title was. I hope that clears up any confusion and prevents people from accidentally buying a book of mine that they already own. 

Here are the pertinent books. If you click on the cover, it will take you to the Amazon version, although (of course) they are available at other booksellers, such as Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Apple Books, Smashwords, etc., or via the library (not sure about the manga versions, but I've enabled all of my republished books to be available in libraries). 

Then there are also the books that had originally been published one at a time (not as a series), but where the books and main characters were definitely related. The Wedding Auction, Wedding Auction 2, Secrets, and Sloane's Cove Twins books all meet that criteria. In those cases, the only change to the title was that I put the series name first to show that they were linked. The remainder of the titles (after the colon) are the same as the originals, except for Secrets: The Rebel's Return, which was originally titled The Scandalous Return of Jake Walker.

Lastly, there are two books where...well, I just disliked the original title (The Daddy List and Morning Beauty, Midnight Beast) so much that I decided to change them. Here they are below with the new titles (and most recent covers) and as they were originally published. Of course, the originals are still available as used paperbacks in various places on the internet.

So, those are the many reasons for my book title changes and, hopefully, as mentioned above, a way to clear up any confusion and make sure that no one accidentally buys the same book twice.

Have a wonderful day!


Saturday, May 25, 2024

Cicada Chorus

Since I posted the other day, the cicadas have multiplied. When I go out to pick up the newspaper every morning, my clematis plants are covered in them. And apparently they really like one of the lilacs.

More than a few have ended up inside the house. I have to check my clothes when I come inside, because they 've been known to hitch rides (or even crawl under an article of clothing). Yikes!

Weirdly enough, we visited an arboretum about a half hour from our house and there were far fewer cicadas there, despite all the trees.

It's all very interesting, and I'm glad they're having their fun in the sun (and their chance to live above ground), but I won't be sad when they're back underground and I can garden without having them fly in my face (they apparently set their sits on anything that's vertical).

Have a great day!


Monday, May 20, 2024

Cicadas Everywhere

Well, it's been 17 years since the last cicada invasion, and they're back again. Actually, there are usually a few every year (maybe they've lost their way or their little cicada clocks don't work properly). The two summers before this one, there was actually a decent smattering of them, but this year is the big one. I live in the area of Brood XIX, and fortunately not in that small overlap area of my state where two broods (a 17-year and a 13-year) are emerging the same year. That would be both amazing and crazy insane, just for the noise alone.

I've been seeing their holes for weeks now. They begin digging holes early and then wait until the ground is warm enough before they emerge, but in my area, they only started showing their big red eyes during the past few days.  They're not at full strength yet, and the noise is still relatively low, but already they're making themselves known. 

With holes in my garden where I just planted dahlias:

I find them or their shells on the garden fencing, on the garage siding, on the trees, and climbing a shepherds hook.

They also seem to love clinging to and leaving their shells on the lily-of-the-valley plants along the driveway. Today I found one with those unmistakable red eyes inside one of the tomato cages.

And, of course, they're a bit noisy. In this clip, you can hear birds, but also a bit of cicada chatter. It will get noisier as more and more of them emerge.
Still, they're good food for the birds. In the past, once they really got thick, we had seagulls flying in to eat them, and I'm outside Chicago. Not exactly seagull country. 

And despite the fact that their somewhat awkward flights sometimes end up in collisions with people (my husband had one dive bomb his head and another one get down his shirt the other day), they're harmless and easy to flick away. I almost feel sorry for them. What a life, spending 17 years underground developing and then a brief (very brief) trip to the surface to (hopefully) mate. But so many of them spend all those years getting ready and then end up smashed by cars or feet or eaten by birds or animals before they even get to make it to the finish line. We end up sweeping their remains into big heaps and then they're gone again until the next time, seventeen years from now. Amazing and weird.

And noisy. Did I mention how noisy they are? I did. I'm sure I'll do it again. Because they are. Really. Noisy.

Thanks for reading. Enjoy whatever book you're into this week!



Monday, May 13, 2024

Recent Updates Regarding My Books

Just a quick heads up. Not long ago I dropped the price of my books.  So now books that were $3.99 are $2.99, those that were $4.99 are $3.99 and the $5.99 book (Angel Eyes) is $4.99.

Note: This does not apply to any of my books still being published by Harlequin Books (Harper). I have no control over the pricing of those.

I also updated the cover for Rescue My Heart. Here's the new one with the link to the page where you can find a more detailed description as well as a number of the places where it is available.

Have a great day and happy reading!


Friday, May 10, 2024

What I'm Reading Now

I'm on a bit of a T. J. Klune kick right now. His characters just draw me in. A relative gave me a copy of The House in the Cerulean Sea and when I finally got around to reading it, I just couldn't put it down. Now I'm eagerly awaiting the sequel. 

Here's the description of the book.
A magical island. A dangerous task. A burning secret.

Linus Baker leads a quiet, solitary life. At forty, he lives in a tiny house with a devious cat and his old records. As a Case Worker at the Department in Charge Of Magical Youth, he spends his days overseeing the well-being of children in government-sanctioned orphanages.

When Linus is unexpectedly summoned by Extremely Upper Management he's given a curious and highly classified assignment: travel to Marsyas Island Orphanage, where six dangerous children reside: a gnome, a sprite, a wyvern, an unidentifiable green blob, a were-Pomeranian, and the Antichrist. Linus must set aside his fears and determine whether or not they’re likely to bring about the end of days.

But the children aren’t the only secret the island keeps. Their caretaker is the charming and enigmatic Arthur Parnassus, who will do anything to keep his wards safe. As Arthur and Linus grow closer, long-held secrets are exposed, and Linus must make a choice: destroy a home or watch the world burn.

An enchanting story, masterfully told, The House in the Cerulean Sea is about the profound experience of discovering an unlikely family in an unexpected place—and realizing that family is yours.
Now, I'm on to Under the Whispering Door, and I don't want it to end.

And here's the description for this book:
Welcome to Charon's Crossing.
The tea is hot, the scones are fresh, and the dead are just passing through.

When a reaper comes to collect Wallace from his own funeral, Wallace begins to suspect he might be dead.

And when Hugo, the owner of a peculiar tea shop, promises to help him cross over, Wallace decides he’s definitely dead.

But even in death he’s not ready to abandon the life he barely lived, so when Wallace is given one week to cross over, he sets about living a lifetime in seven days.

Hilarious, haunting, and kind, Under the Whispering Door is an uplifting story about a life spent at the office and a death spent building a home.
Klune's books are really out of the ordinary, and (at least for these two), there's a heavy element of the paranormal. Also, the character development is wonderful (yes, I know, I already said that. I can't say it enough). 

Have a wonderful day reading whatever you happen to be reading. Enjoy!


Monday, May 6, 2024

Dahlias I Have Known and Loved and Tried to Keep Alive

So, a few years ago (7 years ago), back when I had a bit more space, my husband and I were walking through our local Home Depot and on an impulse bought some dahlia tubers. I knew nothing of dahlias at the time, but I planted them, and when they finally bloomed, they were very pretty.

Dahlias 2017

The next year, I planted some different ones. 
Dahlias 2018
They were nice, have to wait a long time for dahlias to bloom, and some of them barely come into flower before the weather turns cold. Also, I had no luck overwintering them. I live in zone 5B, and since dahlias are originally from Mexico, they don't care for the cold. You have to dig them up, pack them away with the right temperature and in the right medium, so that when spring comes, your tubers haven't either dried out or rotted, and you also need to make sure that they have eyes to generate new plants. I decided to take a break.

Fast forward a couple of years and I decided to get back in the game. I ordered some tubers, planted some in pots this time and had moderate success. (Still no success at overwintering, though).
Dahlias 2021

The next year I opted to skip the hardware store tubers (often they would be in groups with no way of identifying the individual plants) and ordered dahlias from two places, one a company in Oregon whose reputation preceded them, and one that was local (just trying to help a fellow Midwesterner) where the owner took a bunch of orders and money, got overwhelmed and apparently couldn't manage the influx of orders by people ready to garden (this was while Covid was still going on), and then just closed up shop and disappeared. Okay, lesson learned. I received the orders from the company in Oregon (Swann Island Dahlias) and planted my tubers. Yay! Success, more dahlias than ever (and a bit more showy), but I still didn't manage to overwinter them. Despite checking them religiously during the winter, I had a problem. My garage was unheated, so too cold, and my basement seemed to be too warm. I was storing them in individual paper bags in a box, and that didn't work well.
Dahlias 2022
Last year (2023) I had the biggest group of dahlias ever. I stuck to Swann Island Dahlias, except for one flower (Labyrinth), because by the time I decided that I wanted that one, Swann Island had sold out of them and I had to find another seller. 

Dahlias 2023

So here we are in 2024 and I'm almost ready to plant again. What have I learned? Well, it's important to stake them, because they're very tall, and the wind will break them. And stake them when you plant, because if you wait, you won't know where the tubers are underground and it would be easy to spear one of them. Because I have a squirrel and rabbit problem, I do cage most of mine, but not all. That proved to be a problem last year when a squirrel ate a potted one down to the ground. Hopefully, that won't happen again. 

Also...drumroll...last fall I did something different when I was storing the tubers for the winter. I shook the loose dirt off of the tubers I dug up, put each one in a labeled quart Ziploc bag (leaving the top open halfway or a bit more). Then I put as many of the Ziplocs as I could fit into a cardboard box that I stored off the ground beneath my laundry tubs as close to the outside (colder wall) as I could get. The ones that wouldn't fit in the box went (also in individual Ziplocs) in a bucket in an out of the way place as close as possible to an outside wall. Then I checked them every two to three weeks. And with the exception of one mother tuber that started to rot and I quickly tossed in order to save the remaining tubers, every one of the tubers made it through the winter. A few weeks ago I brought the bags upstairs and put them in a box near a window, and they're all sprouting. Hopefully, they'll all survive and thrive once they're planted. 

But...I (assuming they would die like they have every year) had already ordered a dozen tubers last fall, so now I have dahlia tubers coming out of my ears and it's going to be a tight fit (I'm giving a few of them to family). Still, I'm happy. I'm learning, and hopefully this will be a great dahlia year. 

To be continued...

Best Wishes,



Friday, May 3, 2024

Are You a Fan of Historical Mysteries?

I've always had eclectic tastes in reading material. Obviously, Romance has been my chief interest, but I've delved into a number of other genres, and I have a pretty extensive library of nonfiction books. The one area I haven't yet warmed up to is horror, and until recently I was rather lukewarm on mysteries. But for the past few years, I've really gotten into historical mysteries. There's just something fascinating and exciting about a mystery where the person trying to solve a crime doesn't have access to modern technology to aid them. So with that in mind I'll just mention a few of my favorite historical mystery series.

The Sebastian St. Cyr series by C. S. Harris. The books take place primarily in Regency England, and the main character, Sebastian St. Cyr, Viscount Devlin, begins the series (19 books so far) by being accused of a murder himself.

Ashley Gardner (who is also Jennifer Ashley) also has a Regency mystery series, the Captain Lacey series. The main character is a retired military officer who likes to see justice carried out.

The Below Stairs Kat Holloway mysteries are also by Jennifer Ashley. Kat Holloway is a young cook employed in a Victorian Mansion who, (with her friend Daniel McAdam), solves mysteries.

I love the fact that there are a number of books in each series, so that I always have a new one to look forward to.

Happy Reading!