Saturday, October 7, 2017

Why I Read Romance

My reading habits have come up a couple of times lately.  My love of reading is no secret - neither is my preference for romance.  Sometimes that feels like such a funny word to use, but the reality is, I NEED the HEA (happy every after).

My family tells me I've always been a reader, since I was small I've loved story time.  I enjoyed reading to my people as soon as I was old enough to mimic them reading to me.  My earliest book memory involves a giant orange hardback full of stories of gnomes & elves & woodland creatures.  The book liner had an inside look at one of the tree habitats - bedrooms & kitchens & living spaces, all hidden inside a giant tree.  I think I took that book everywhere!  : )  

My next solid book memory is Christopher Pike, Slumber Party.  I was in 5th grade, and we were taking a family trip to Florida.  Driving, from Iowa.  My dad, knowing I would need something to keep me occupied during the L O N G drive, brought me to Walden Books in the mall, and let me pick out some books for the trip.  I'm not sure what appealed to me - the dark blue cover, the title, the blurb on the back cover?  Whatever it was, I wanted that book!  I'm sure I picked out others as well, but that's the one that turned into a favorite, and a multiple re-read throughout the next 30 years.  It began my love for Christopher Pike books - and, in my young, 11-year-old way, taught me about love and romance in books.  

All through school, my favorite books - tho not necessarily considered "romance"- had that necessary HEA quality, or HFN (happy for now).  They ended on a positive note.  I devoured Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys, Sweet Valley High - all fairly tame and involving story lines of mystery or adventure of some sort.  I read some Stephen King (Carrie, Christine, and IT still stick with me as my favorites, along with The Eyes of the Dragon) and Dean Koontz (Lightning is a well-loved story), and then there were the V.C. Andrews books - I appreciate them for the nostalgia, and the stories DEFINITELY stuck with me, but they're not something I want to read again now.  Those books are WAY TOO SAD!  
But they did help shape me into the reader I am today.  
They taught me that my heart NEEDS that happy ending, and while I'm not a fan of a story full of angst, a little bit here & there (as long as I can feel the connection between the H/h) is a good thing.

I don't remember exactly when I made the jump to the "Harlequin" world.  Someone gave me a Harlequin romance - Just A Normal Marriage by Leigh Michaels - and it was like my eyes were opened to this whole new world of stories!  And then, one of the ladies I babysat for discovered I liked romance, and gave me my first Johanna Lindsey - and my eyes were opened to STEAMY stories.  
*fans self*
At the time, I didn't really understand the nuances of the sexy scenes, but I enjoyed the relationship & the adventures in each one!  
(Sidebar: Leigh was the first author I ever wrote to - and she wrote me back, a HAND WRITTEN LETTER!!  She was also the first author I met in person - my dad took me to see her when she was signing at a store opening.  I think that's pretty darn neat!)  

At that point - my love of the HEA was given a solid foundation!  

A few weeks ago, we had a meeting at work, and reading came up.  My co-workers were talking enthusiastically about a book they'd borrowed from the Company library.  It was some business related book, and they both loved it & recommended it to the group.  Someone looked at me & said, "You love to read - have you read this one?"  I replied, "Oh, I'm strictly romance.  I am a huge proponent of people reading what they love, what they enjoy.  I think everyone should read something - graphic novels, newspapers, blogs, magazines - as long as they're reading!  But for me, it's romance all the way."
I stand by that - if you enjoy reading business-minded books about how to climb the ladder or how to make your work-life more productive, I'm happy for you, that you're reading!  
For me, that would be torture.  That would be work - and I like to leave my work at work.  : ) 

This past week, I've been SUPER BLESSED to win several different giveaways involving signed books.  I'm excited because I love winning things, signed books, and getting happy mail.  *laugh*  In that excitement, I shared a picture w/ my mom last night, of 3 of those books.  I thought, perhaps, she would be happy for me?  Instead, she sorta just glanced at the picture & then said, "You should branch out, read something different."  I was slightly shocked (okay, more than slightly) - and unsure if she was joking.  I replied, "Why?  I read what I like.  Don't you read your books because you enjoy them?"
(She didn't used to be a big reader - reading was something I shared w/ my dad.  But in recent years, she discovered the joy of Victorian hotel mysteries, and of course I'm blanking on the series name as I write this!  But my point is that she's discovered books that she loves.  Also, it should be noted, last night may very well have been an "off" night for her - she seemed kind of cranky overall - because she has traveled with me to book signings, tho never going TO the signing w/ me, she's always been very supportive of and happy for me normally.)

I read stories with a guaranteed happy ending because sometimes life doesn't work out that way.  Not everyone meets the love of their life or gets to experience having their own alpha man.  
I don't have that in my life - I've never had that in my life.  
There were a couple times I thought I did, but they didn't work out, so obviously were not my HEA.  

I have a LOT of love in my life - family and friends who are living examples of love.
But for romance... some watch their favorite movies over & over again, and I used to do that, too, but now I'd rather read.  I read my favorites over & over again, and am always open to new authors, new favorites.  
I love not only the encompassing genre of romance, but the Indie community I've become a part of.
I love supporting my authors, bloggers, friends.
And I love the feeling I get when I'm reading romance.
I love the HEA.
So, that's why I read - and will continue to read - romance.  

: )  

Sunday, July 16, 2017

2017 Signings - Rock Island & Chicago

I have one, possibly two, more signings this year, but thought I'd get some posts out about the ones so far.  If I'm going to write, I need to WRITE!  ; ) 

March 18
Wicked In The QC
Rock Island, IL

This one was right in my back yard - didn't have to travel, AND my friend Rebecca went with me.  I got to meet a couple authors for the first time, see some friends from previous signings, and have a FABULOUS time.
Bonus - Becks liked the signing so much, she also joined me in Peoria in July!  
: ) 

Jamie Schlosser was a new author.  I fell in love w/ her debut, Trucker, and have enjoyed each story after that as well.  Her characters are fun & the stories have a lot of heart, heat, and humor - all of my favorite things!  
Her husband, Dallas, is the cover model for Trucker.  ; )  

We also met Winter Travers, who I've been reading & friends w/ on FB for a while, but hadn't met in person until this signing.  She's a HOOT!  

We hung out a bit w/ Lyssa Layne - she's awesome & her daughter is a great signing assistant!  *grin*  Lacey Black & CA Harms & several new-to-me authors.  Becks took a liking to CC (aka Cheryl) Dragon & bought quite a few books.  YAY!!!

May 13
Wild and Windy in the City
Chicago, IL 

This signing is EPIC.  This was my second year, and it felt like home.  This is held at the Westin O'Hare in Rosemont & the location & hotel itself are just beautiful.  The atmosphere is very calming, even w/ my anxiety issues & ALL THOSE PPL!  

I had some issues on the road, and almost threw in the towel.  I was having such horrible anxiety due to some other things going on... But I'm really very thankful that I went.  

Altho I prefer staying in the venue hotel, I don't always get to do so.  THIS is one of those times when I'm ever so grateful to be able to.  From the moment I walked in & ran into Rochelle Paige & Elle Christensen (aka, Fiona Davenport), to meeting fellow bloggers, models, and authors outside regularly, to riding the elevator w/ models (who sometimes get a bad reputation, but all the men & women I've met have always been super kind & friendly to me, so PTL!) - I'll say it again, it feels like home.

Friday night there were parties, a buffet, panels & karaoke.  I hopped around to various rooms, but spent the most time w/ three (now four) of my favorite ladies, one of their husbands & a very sweet model from LA who does a great job staying in character - WITH a British accent!  

Zach & Teresa <3 
 Michelle Mankin & Lisa Anthony
I have sooooo much love for these two!  

Warren & Zach
I kept calling Warren "Mr Michelle" because he's Michelle Warren's hubby.

Jonny James, Wander Aguiar, Dylan Horsch & ... idk who is on the end, sorry!  

Rochelle Paige, Elle Christensen, Lisa Suzanne, Hilary Storm, JM Witt
FAAABULOUS stories shared!  

Ryan Michelle, River Savage, MN Fogery, Wander, Sapphire Knight, Victoria Ashley, Hilary Storm
(I may have switched a tag there...but I think that's right!)

Saturday was the signing & it's HUGE.  Ppl everywhere!  The room gets warm & I get flustered a lot, but it's still amazing being w/ "my peeps."  ; )  And staying at the venue also means I can grab my pre-orders, fill my bag up & take the books to my room, able to come back & fill it up again!  And again... and again... Whoops.  LOL  It also allowed me the flexibility to chat w/ my authors & peeps here & there & leave my books to be signed as they have time when they're super busy & I have a lot of books (*cough* Rochelle & Elle *cough* *grin*)!  

 Beth & her husband are AWESOME.
Her smile is one of my favorite things to see at signings.  
: ) 

 Melissa Brown 
Unwanted Stars is one of my favorite books!

 I do not like this picture of myself, but Stacey is adorable & funny & nice & I love that I get to see her at signings & bug her on FB.  ; )  

 Tessa Teevan
She is a fellow Sherrilyn Kenyon fan & she turned me on to this really awesome library app so that I can save money on SK kindle books.  *grin*  

 Savannah Stewart 
She is so much FUN!  I never get to spend enough time w/ her at signings, but I'm always SUPER EXCITED to see her & get hugs!  

 Oh, gosh, Dylan & Hilary.  
I feel like I'm stalking them sometimes.  They are just so funny together that if I'm at a signing where they are, I HAVE to say hi.  And they're always super nice & take a picture w/ me & sometimes make goofy faces that I can treasure always.  *grin*  

River Savage - she came to us this day from AUSTRALIA and she had to have been exhausted, but she was sweet & has an amazing selfie game.  And the cutest dimples!  : )  
Also, you can't see it, but she was wearing this kickass lavender kimono that was beautiful!

Elle & Rochelle
I kinda tear up about them.  
EVERY story of theirs, individually & together as Fiona Davenport, makes me happy.
I can one-click, recommend, share, pre-order, have multiple copies of their books with confidence.
AND I just love them as ppl.  *grin*  

I got to meet a long-time reader friend, Amy, along w/ seeing friends I'd met before at signings & new ones as well!  One of my British bookie pals asked me to pick up a couple books for her from Callie Hart, who happened to have Jonny James at her table since he did a couple covers & I believe co-wrote one of the books.  Aside from just enjoying being able to do something nice for someone, I was thankful because otherwise I don't know if I would have gotten to meet them.  I was really impressed by Jonny's humility & humor on Friday's panel, and was happy to be able to share that w/ him!  
And also get a picture.  I mean, he's nice AND cute (and omh super TALL!), bonus!  : ) 

Callie was such a sweetie - I got there at like the very end of the signing time, and they'd been go go go & hadn't had much to eat, even, and were still just so absolutely gracious.
HIGHLY impressed.  

It was a long day, but so much fun!!  

And now I'm going to sign off before I talk your eyes off anymore.  LOL 

Tune in next time for recaps of Cleveland & Writers On The River in Peoria!!  

: ) 

Sunday, July 2, 2017


Hey Party Peeps!  

I hope your weekend has gone/is going well - do you get all four days off for the 4th?  

So, I'm curious about a few things, and thought I'd come to you guys for some answers.  There are no "right" or "wrong" answers here, I just want to know where readers are at on a few subjects.  : )  (And when I say no right or wrong answers, I actually mean it - unlike this quiz I took at work the other day.  It SAID that, but then - just to test it was being truthful - I picked an answer I was pretty sure they wouldn't like, and I got an "Incorrect" pop up.  If there aren't any wrong answers, none of them should be "Incorrect!"  Duh!  LOL) 

Anyway, leave an answer in the comments, or comment on the FB post & let me know what YOU think.  Your opinion counts!!  

1) Does a story have to have an HEA for you to enjoy it?
 - My answer is yes.  For me to truly enjoy a story, it needs to have an HEA or at least be going in the direction or, have the possibility of, an HEA if it's a prequel or part 1 of a continuing story.  

2) Is there a specific amount of sex that is either too much or too little?  And is it always the same amount?
- My answer is no.  For me, there are definitely stories that I feel like had TOO MUCH sex, but only because they were classified as romance rather than straight up erotica, and to me romance should focus on the story while straight up erotica is more story-light/sex-heavy.  Not sure if that's an "official" norm or if that's just my expectation!  

3) Will you still buy/read a story that intrigues you even if the title or cover skeeves you out?  I'm talking having a true reaction to the cover/title that immediately has you going "Nope!" but then someone posts a snippet & you think, "Oh, that sounds interesting/good/enjoyable," but when you click on the link it's THAT cover/title.
- My answer is usually no.  If a cover/title bothers me that much, I don't want to open my kindle & see it, so I'll usually just go through reviews to get the gist of what the story is about.  : )  

That's it!  Those are the questions burning my brain at the moment!  If I get any answers or y'all let me know you like it, I'll make it a regular thing.  I can ALWAYS come up w/ questions that are floating around in my brain!!  ;  )  

Be safe & have a GREAT weekend/week!!  

ttfn!  : ) 

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Author Spotlight - A.D. Ellis

A.D. Ellis holds a special place in my heart.  I'm not sure how I "discovered" her - probably Facebook, as that really is a most awesome place for finding new-to-you authors & not only being able to check out their books, but to connect with them as well.

She currently has a M/M series that has been VERY well received.  
(I don't read M/M, but because I know and adore her writing style & story telling, I'm more than comfortable recommending her!  If you're a M/M reader, check out book 1 in her Something About Him series, Bryan & Jase!)

She also has a couple contemporary series, and these are the ones I've read and fallen in love with.
The Torey Hope Series (book 2, Because of Beckett is FREE at the time I'm posting this) & Torey Hope: The Later Years follow a group of friends/family making their way & finding love in the midwest town of Torey Hope.  They are amazingly sweet, in-depth, heartwarming & sexy!  
Each story can be read as a stand alone (tho they're obviously all connected!) & tackles real-life situations, both individually and as couples.  I LOVE that about her stories!!! 

While I love all of them, one young man from The Later Years stole my heart & just refuses to give it back!  Knowing this, our dear A.D. had a little something extra in store for me at last year's Writers On The River signing.

That's right, a personal message from Zach!!!
When I saw this, not only did I about cry, but my heart got so warm!!

I'm totally fangirling here, and it wasn't even the first time meeting her!  : ) 

Speaking of the first time we met - THIS cemented that special place in my heart that is all hers.
It was my first big multi-author signing - I'd been to a signing w/ 10 authors the year before, and I thought THAT was big, but Rochelle highly encouraged me to come to an even bigger signing in Indiana, and A.D. was there.  And as I walked up to her table a bit nervously, she squeaked, rounded the table, and tackle hugged me!  ME!
My heart still goes all happy at that memory.  : )  
My heart still goes all happy ANY time someone knows who I am, and is happy to see ME - but she gets the honor of being the first.  

She also surprised me with this little gem in St Louis.  

Sadly, about a month after that signing, someone broke into my car & my house, stealing my purse (among other things) and this was one of the treasures I had in there (along w/ my signature book that had been w/ me to all my signings.  Anya Breton - who will also be at WOTR! - was my last signature in that book, WITH a llama stamp, darn it!).
So, altho the necklace itself is gone, I'm grateful I have this picture and will always treasure the gift.
: ) 

I can't wait to see & hug her & get more books next weekend!!  

Be sure to leave a comment & let me know what you think!
And check out this list of authors attending this year's WOTR.  If there's an author you'd like to see a Spotlight on, let me know.


(All links are for Amazon, as usual, not because I get anything from them when you click, but because I figure it's more convenient for you!)  

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Author Spotlight - Susan Stoker (and a FREE book)

I have been very blessed to meet many of my favorite authors.  It's a blessing I never could have imagined when I started reading indie romances a few years ago.  Every time I would discover a new author, it floored me when they would reply to a comment, or "like" a post on Facebook.  And even tho I've now met them in person, and known some of them for years, I STILL get a little (sometimes a lot) ferklempt by the fact that they KNOW WHO I AM.  

One such author is the amazingly talented Susan Stoker.

Nashville 2016 - our first in person meeting!

I stumbled across Protecting Fiona randomly, somehow, and even tho it's book 3 in the SEALs of Protection series, I wasn't lost.  Susan became an IMMEDIATE favorite, and I have devoured every single one of her books after it.  It took me a little while to go back & read Books 1 & 2, but they were soooo good!  : )  

(She & Beth MAY have been shocked upon recently hearing I hadn't read them yet...and challenged me to do so... *grin*)

(P.S. Book 1, Protecting Caroline, is FREE at time of posting, click that link above!)

Her stories are full of damsels in distress, adventure, interesting locales, and happily ever afters that are made even sweeter by all the rescues!  They're safe reads in that there's no cheating, none of that triangle nonsense (no offense to ppl who like triangles - just not my bag!), and you know what you're getting when you settle down to enjoy one of her stories.  They deal with REAL issues or concerns or whatever you'd like to call them.  Her heroes & heroines have challenges to face in life - and they do so brilliantly.  

As I'm writing, I'm trying to think of a "favorite" story, but I can't pick just one.  In the Seal of Protection series, Tex could be my favorite because he makes an appearance in each book before "his" story (Protecting Melody) and he's SUCH a presence throughout each series.  But then there's also Cooper (Protecting Kiera) - he is full of swoony goodness!  And his cover miiiight be one of my favorites.  ; ) 

Swaggy goodness & upcoming covers - how heroic does Wander look on the cover of Protecting Dakota?  And the artwork for Fish on Rescuing Bryn?  Thumbs way up!  

It's not all about the guys.  I mentioned "damsels in distress" earlier, but these ladies also kick some serious butt!  They might need saving, but they save their men right back - sometimes in surprising ways!  A couple characters appear as supporting cast along the way - and boy do you NOT like them.  And then... Then Susan shows her talent, and those women get a book (and a hero) of their own, and they redeem themselves from all the bad thoughts you were previously having about them!  
(No.  I'm not telling you who they are or which books they're in, because it's much more fun if you discover them naturally!  ; ) ) 

My most recent meeting with Susan, at the Cleveland Author Event, we actually got to sit down (with Beth - hiiiii Beth!!) and really TALK about books.  I got to experience how her mind works when creating these stories; it made me even more excited for what's coming down the pike w/ them!  And, in case you couldn't tell, I was already pretty excited about them.  : ) 

Cleveland, 2017

So!  If you're looking for awesome adventures, with characters who will stick with you, in a world full of connected stand alone stories - give her a shot.  Each of her books CAN be read on its own.  You don't need to start at a particular spot or with a particular series to enjoy any one of her books.  However, if you're like me, your reading experience will only be enhanced by starting from the beginning & immersing yourself in the world of SEALs, badge holders (hello, cops & firefighters, EMT's & troopers), security specialists,  Delta Force... *hearts*  

Be sure to leave a comment & let me know what you think!  
ttfn!  : ) 

(All links are for Amazon, not because I get anything from them when you click, but just because I figured it'd be more convenient for you!)  

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Back In The Saddle

Hello, my bloggy peeps!  It's been a year since I've posted something new in this forum - although I post on my Bookshelf page on Facebook regularly.  I apologize for neglecting this page!  

Recently, my dear friend, Susan Stoker - who is a fantastic author of stories I LOVE - did something AMAZING to cheer me up, because I'd been having a rough time of it.  She shared my blog page with her group on FB, encouraging them to give it a shot.  Because of her post, my "likes" more than doubled.  In less than a day!!  I'm ever so grateful for that - I love to share my love of stories & authors & the book community!  God is so good to have blessed me with these friendships and stories!  : )  

SO!  That inspired me, and I've decided that I need to get back to spotlighting my favorite authors & signings & general bookie love!  

Stay tuned for Spotlights, Reviews, and LOTS of pictures!  

Be blessed, my friends!  

ttfn!  : ) 

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Writers On The River 2016

2016 is my Year of Signings, and I am LOVING it!  

The photos above are of me w/ one of my adored author-friends, A.D. Ellis, and the book she signed for me, my favorite of hers - Zach.  I love that she added a note from Zach!!  That was SUPER unexpected and cool!!  *grin*  : )  : )  : )  

Writers on the River took place in Peoria, IL, which is only a couple hours from me, so I hopped in the car & headed off about 10:30.  Picked up breakfast & Starbucks (of course) & was on my way.  Sadly, I realized partway through my trip that I'd forgotten my autograph book, which normally goes w/ me to all my signings.  *sad*  Still, I have 3 more signings this year, so hopefully I'll catch most everyone again!  : )  

The signing was held at Par - A - Dice casino & hotel.  Very nice hotel!  I might end up going back to stay there for a weekend away.  The room set up was very nicely done, also.  Quite a good turn out, it seemed, but the room never felt overwhelming (well, other than my normal overwhelmed in a room full of ppl)!  They had a swag table set up while we waited to go in, so I picked up some pens & cards & bookmarks.  I have a couple new decorating ideas for my library... : )  

 And yes, that IS a little bottle of Smirnoff that was in my pre-order bag from C.A. Harms.
Why, thank you!  

It was a really fun time, and I enjoyed seeing some familiar faces (A.D., Michelle Lynn, Mia Kayla, LB Dunbar, A.M. Wilson) and meeting some new ones (Catherine Scott, Lisa Suzanne - she was giving away cups, so pretty!, Donya Layne, Kennedy Layne - she had the BEST set up, which her husband put together for her)!  AND!  FINALLY MEETING one of my ... I know, I know, I have lots of favorite authors, and favorite author-peeps.  So, saying she is one of my favorite authors AND favorite peeps... it fits, too.  CP Smith - I love every single one of her books, and I adore her personality.  She & A.D. were the reason I made sure to get to this signing, even tho I'd just been to Des Moines a couple weekends ago.  

Just hearts.  
: ) 

 LB Dunbar - awesome author, Chicagoan, has a FABULOUS smile, super sweet heart, and I love this picture, even tho my shirt appears to be pinching me (it wasn't) or I have an alien boob (I don't, as far as I know).  : )  
Kennedy Layne & part of her awesome display.  

Her reaction, her tight hug & bright smile & the way she introduced me to her friend who was w/ her at her table... It gave me warm fuzzies & made me feel like ... idk.  It was sweet.  And made me a little ferklempt.  And I appreciate each & every author-friend who does that, because I'm there to support THEM and meet them & encourage THEM, and when they actually know who I am & hug me tight & are happy to see ME?  Seriously, I feel blessed.  (But I was reminded by another awesome author-friend that I might need to make sure ppl know it's me a little bit more, because she didn't realize it was until I posted something later on FB... whoops!  Her comment was ALSO super sweet & I got a little ferklempt, AGAIN.  LOL)

Anyway!  It was an awesome and amazing time, I'm so blessed to get to see each of these ladies (and guys - don't want to leave out Scott from the DM signing or any other awesome guys who also write amazing books!), some multiple times.  I joke about stalking them.  *grin*  But I love being part of this community, in my own small way, and want to do what I can to promote and encourage the purveyors of these wonderful stories.  Their hearts are warm & welcoming, and I want to share the same.  : )  

And there was SWAG galore (my favorite, lip balms - CP's was BLUEBERRY!  Awesome!).  Kennedy gave me a signed coffee mug (hello, veins are filled w/ coffee, so this was perfect!) and hand sanitizer spray thingy.  Michele Shriver had hockey pucks & fudge!  All these authors go above & beyond w/ their swaggy goodness.  Keep it up!  Much appreciated!  *grin*  

 Framed is my favorite CP book, and one of my favorite covers.
She designed it herself, and it turned out AWESOME!  : ) 

The Kennedy Books up top there (next to my boy, ZACH) I won from A.D. & they are HEAVY.  LOL  I'm glad she brought them rather than shipped them.  I'm sure I wouldn't want to pay however much THAT would have costed!  

Next up is Sweet Home Chicago, in August.  That week is going to be SUPER interesting, as I'm going to Arkansas w/ Mom on Sunday, coming back Tuesday/Wednesday, picking up Leyton & heading to Chicago on Thursday & then the signing on Saturday.  Wheee!  I may be a little loopier than normal at that signing, just warning any bookie peeps who see me there now... LOL  

Happy Sunday!  I hope you're hugging your loved ones, telling them you love them at any and every opportunity, and being blessed!