Which comes first?

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Which comes first, the idea for a complete story or maybe just for the book’s title? Or maybe it’s an image or a quote that gets the words reaching and stretching for each other, bumbling and fumbling until they tumble together into paragraphs and pages.
There’s no telling what will be the prompt for a new book.

For my latest release, these two words popped up and wouldn’t leave me alone until I gave them a story to live in:
Chasing Christmas.
Okay, you two, you’re a title. Now, how about making some sense?

“Mom, remember when I was little and always asked, ‘When’s it going to be Christmas?’ and you’d say, ‘There’s no sense in chasing Christmas. It’ll get here when it’s time.’”
Okay, so now the title makes sense, but I needed more for my historical tale.

And then I saw her. Her eyes told part of the story, but I had to translate it into words, then give her hope and a destiny.
It’s not as easy as it sounds.

“I hate writing, but I love having written,” is ascribed to Dorothy Parker and many other authors. Hmm. I think at some point, all authors feel the same way. I guess the ‘love’ part overrides the ‘hate’ part because we keep on doing it.
Enjoy Chasing Christmas, part of Sweet and Sassy Christmas – A Time for Romance, available today! ELEVEN Christmas tales, some sweet, some sassy (or more) by NY Times and USA Today Bestselling and award winning authors.

Only 99 cents or free to read with your Kindle Unlimited subscription.

Dani Haviland
Dani Haviland, formerly of Connecticut, Arizona, and Alaska, recently semi-retired from selling tractor parts, tools, and roses. She moved to a more temperate climate in western Oregon to pursue her passions: writing, gardening, and photography.  View website
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The Case for Paperbacks by @AyalaRachelle

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My bookshelf

My house is literally full of books. Books I’ve collected since I was a child [I still have a ragged Barney Beagle] to books I purchased just this week. If you’re like me, your kindle is also burgeoning with books. I have over 5000 at last count.

My friends tell me to declutter and sometimes, I have rather reluctantly said goodbye to many of my books (sniff, sob, I still mourn them). After all, why hold onto the paper or hardback when I can simply download an ebook to my ereader?

The answer is simple. With 5000+ books in my kindle library, I’m constantly forgetting I have a book. How many of you have gone to a book page, hit “purchase” only to have Amazon tell you you already have the book? Thank goodness Amazon does this, but that doesn’t count the books I have on Nook and Google Play, not to mention borrowed from Scribd or Overdrive.

So the other day, I got to thinking, and maybe it’s a dangerous thing since I’m supposed to be decluttering so that when my husband retires we can move… Books that I have in paper form are like friends I see in person, my neighbors, my cousins, my relatives, and my old school friends who live within fifty miles of me. Books I have on kindle are like social media friends. And while I love my social media friends, they don’t occupy the mind space and physical space as people I get together for coffee, walks, and parties.

It’s the same with ebooks. Now, don’t kill me here. I love ebooks. I love the convenience, the ability to have thousands in my account and countless more available at any time or any place. But I don’t “bump” into them the way I do with my paperbacks. They don’t bring back memories, and I don’t pick them up and flip to a bookmark or a crease in the spine or discover a long-forgotten sticky note or bookmark, and they definitely don’t transport me back to when we first met.

Paper books, meanwhile, are like old friends. A couple weeks back, in the throes of decluttering, I kept putting a set of books into a box, then taking them back out and reshelving them, then trying to resolve to give them away. I made excuses for them. They’re yellowed and wrinkled, no one would want them, and I can’t bear to throw them in the garbage. But they’re taking up space! Logically, all these books exist as ebooks. I can simply do as Marie Kondo says: to discard them, knowing that if I ever wanted to read them again, I can buy the ebook or the audiobook.

BUT… here is the big question. Will I remember them?

This particular set of cozy mysteries was written by Carolyn Hart. While flipping through these yellowed paperbacks, I was transported back to my younger days, scouring bookstores to buy her latest Death on Demand mystery. I’ve quite forgotten Max and Annie throughout the years as my reading tastes diverged to romance and suspense thrillers. But because I could not throw away that set of books, I am now reliving the 1980’s by re-reading my Death on Demand stories. I’ve even downloaded the audiobook so I can have it read to me–the font on the old paperback being kind of small for my senior eyes. I’ve rediscovered that series and was so pleased to discover that it is STILL GOING after all these years.

It’s all because I had the paperbacks. A paperback from 30 years ago can remind you of an author you loved and lost touch with. A paperback is like a loyal friend sitting on the shelf winking at you when you walk by, and a paperback is something you can pass on to others. As an author, a paperback is a living reminder to your readers about you. Who knows? Twenty years from now, the reader you have now might rediscover you and be joyously surprised that your series is still going on. Or your paperback has been passed from friend to friend, making you new friends to the farthest corners of the earth.

Now that, is like having a friend for life!

p.s. I have the black covered collector’s hardbacks of the Agatha Christie mystery library [a subscription series] and I’m NOT parting with them. Besides, my daughter has tagged them all already. Agatha is a friend for life and beyond.

What do you think? Do you buy paperbacks of the books and authors you like? Do you keep every autographed paperback of your writer friends? [I do]. Or do you let them go to share and spread the joy?

Rachelle Ayala
Rachelle Ayala is a USA Today bestselling author of contemporary romance and romantic suspense. Her foremost goal is to take readers on a shared emotional journey with her characters as they grow and become more true to themselves. Rachelle believes in the power of love to overcome obstacles and feels that everyone should find love as often as possible, especially if it's within the pages of a book. Her book, Knowing Vera, won the 2015 Angie Ovation Award, A Father for Christmas garnered a 2015 Readers’ Favorite Gold Award, Christmas Stray received a 2016 Readers' Favorite Gold Award, and Playing for the Save got the 2017 Readers' Favorite Gold Award in Realistic Fiction. She is also a writing teacher and founder of the Romance In A Month writing community. She lives in California with her husband and has three children and two birds.
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Halloween by Mona Risk

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Did you know that one quarter of all the candy sold annually in the U.S. is purchased for Halloween?  Yes, October is the cruelest month for our molar teeth. Today, Americans spend an estimated $6 billion annually on Halloween, making it the country’s second largest commercial holiday.

 

It is hard to imagine that 100 years ago, Halloween looked quite different from the candy debauch of today.

Halloween origin: Halloween is thought to have originated with the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain, when people would light bonfires and wear costumes to ward off roaming ghosts. In the eighth century, Pope Gregory III designated November 1 as a time to honor all saints and martyrs; the holiday, All Saints’ Day, incorporated some of the traditions of Samhain. The evening before was known as All Hallows’ Eve and later Halloween.

 

History of Halloween: At the turn of the century, Halloween parties for both children and adults became the most common way to celebrate the day. Parties focused on games, foods of the season and festive costumes. Parents were encouraged by newspapers and community leaders to take anything “frightening” or “grotesque” out of Halloween celebrations. Because of these efforts, Halloween lost most of its superstitious and religious overtones by the beginning of the twentieth century.

The seemingly timeless custom of trick-or-treating is actually a quite recent American invention. The ritual of costumes, doorbell-ringing, and expectation of booty appeared for the first time in different locations throughout the country in the late 1930s and early 1940s.

It wasn’t until the late 1940s that trick-or-treating became widespread on a national scale. Trick-or-treating was a relatively inexpensive way for an entire community to share the Halloween celebration. A new American tradition was born, and it has continued to grow.

Decorating the house inside and out is part of what makes this holiday so much fun with gargoyles, demons, and zombies; or spiders and bats, or anything that can make your visitors scream.

My grandchildren are turning their beautiful front-yard into a scary graveyard with skulls, skeletons, insects and rodents that give their grandmother–poor me–the fright of my life. Of course, the louder I scream, the harder these scamps laugh. Planning and designing the Halloween costumes start at the beginning of October.

 

 

Next Friday happens to be a Friday the Thirteen. My grandchildren will wear their costumes and invite their friends for a carving and painting of pumpkins.

 

 

 

May I ask you to click on this link and follow me on BookBub?

https://www.bookbub.com/authors/mona-risk

Have a spooky and fun —>>

Mona Risk
New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author, Mona Risk, received an Outstanding Achiever Award from Affaire de Coeur Magazine. She's a two time winner of Best Contemporary Romance of the Year from Readers Favorite; a winner of Best Romance Novel of the Year from Preditors & Editors Readers Poll; and an EPIC Award finalist. Mona Risk's name has often been posted on the Amazon.com 100 Most Popular Authors in Romance list, and her books have garnered: Top Pick, Outstanding Read, Sweetheart of the Week, and Best Book of the Week from various reviewers, and received two mentions in Publisher's Weekly. Mona lives in South Florida and has traveled to more than eighty countries on business or vacation. She writes contemporary romances, medical romance, romantic suspense, and paranormal fantasy. Sprinkled with a good dose of humor, her stories are set in the fascinating places she visited or more simply at home. If you like to travel and love to read, come and enjoy her international romances. Meet the spirited heroines and special heroes who share irresistible chemistry in stories that simmer with emotion.  View website
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WHERE AND WHEN WRITERS LIKE TO WRITE

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Where Writer’s Write

So where do writer’s write? Some take their laptops to a crowded cafe, and are comfortable writing with onlookers peeping over their shoulders. Some want solitude, with everything organized around them, phone off and kids banned so there are no distractions while they pursue their story. Some have special places where they write, with their writing materials handy. So, I’m going to ask the authors who read this to put WHERE and WHEN they like to write in the comment section.

Rebecca York has a special sunroom lounge that she shares with her cats, and Jacquie Rogers has a special office that she inhabits until 4 AM, dictating her stories before pounding the keys.

Personally, my writing space depends upon the time of day, the weather, and just how I’m feeling. If I set myself a planned space and time, I don’t produce as much. When I write in the early mornings (I’m up sometimes when Jacquie’s up), which is the most often, I grab my laptop and throw a blanket over my shoulders and sit on the edge of the bed for an hour or three, until done. Then it’s time to get dressed and start the day.

If it is really sunny and nice outside, I’ll take my laptop out to a lawn swing and write there. If it is raining and stormy, the gas fireplace invites me to write next to it. I do have an office, where I make and edit videos for my Raising Giants home school program, and produce the Show & Tell Bible, but I find it hard to write my novels there.

I used to plan all my stories out, but find it is better to just write them, as I lose interest in a story if I know where it’s going. Once written, then I go back and make sure everything works. I’ve tried the dictation method like Jacquie uses, but actually speaking the words makes me lose my train of thought. I write faster and better directly on the computer.

So authors, where and when is your best writing time/space?

My latest novel is another thriller in the Brother’s of Spirit series. (First one was Height of Danger). New novel is Terminal Pursuit, not quite finished. I’m waiting for the book cover and must do a complete re-write before I put it up for pre-sale.

The Quietest Woman in the South is a post Civil War story about love, friendship, and responsibility. It has spots of humor amid the danger, and was a lot of fun to write. Evil men always have kin, and the hero and his friends have to fight the same family several times until they are free of their threat. Normally $2.99, it is on sale for $.99 this October, 2017.

Click to buy

Nancy Radke
Nancy Radke grew up on a wheat and cattle ranch in SE Washinton State. She attended a one-room country school through the eighth grade. She learned to ride bareback at age 3 (Really! It was a common practice.) and when she got off or fell off, she would pull her horse's nose to the ground, get on behind its ears, and the horse would lift its head so she could scoot down onto its back. She spent most of her childhood exploring the Blue Mountain trails that bordered the ranchlands. She and a friend once took a trail that turned out to be a two day trip. They always rode with matches and pocket knives, so made camp and returned the next day. These long rides worried her parents, but provided plenty of time to make up stories. Her first novel was set in the Blues, and is entitled APPALOOSA BLUES. TURNAGAIN LOVE was the first one published. It rated a four star review from Affaire de Coeur. Scribes World said "Turnagain Love has some fascinating twists and turns, unexpected complications, and charming scenes." It is light and humorous.  View website
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Christmas In October?? #mgtab

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Yes, for authors October is the month we aim for when releasing a Christmas book, and since I finished my latest Christmas story just today, I figured I’d include previews of my two new books, both from the bestselling, award-winning Two Hearts Wounded Warrior Romance Series.

Two Hearts’ Christmas Wish

(Two Hearts Wounded Warrior Romance Book 4)

Released on September 26.

Seventeen-year-old Jason Matthews made a wish when he’d shared a kiss with Katherine Conlin under the mistletoe at Dragonfly Pointe fourteen years ago. Now an Air Force Captain and wounded warrior, he awakens in the hospital in Germany where his dreams have been invaded by the girl from his past. Once he returns home to the states, he finds out approaching Kat might be a little more difficult than he’d thought since she’s been in a long term relationship for nearly two years. But another year later when Jason discovers she’s on her way to the Dragonfly Pointe Inn for the Christmas holidays without her boyfriend, he seizes the opportunity to become reacquainted. Kat had been expecting a proposal this Christmas, and when her boyfriend backs out yet again on the carefully laid plans she’s made for them, she realizes she probably wouldn’t have been happy with him anyway. Kat has often wondered what happened to Jason Matthews, the boy she’d made a wish with years ago, and the last thing she expects is to run into him again at the Dragonfly Pointe Inn. Will there still be that special Christmas magic between them to make those long ago wishes come true?

Amazon: http://bookShow.me/B074KC1NCJ

Nook: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/two-hearts-christmas-wish-tamara-ferguson/1127090782;jsessionid=8117450500E4CE1C8A720E0F79117B5F.prodny_store02-atgap09?ean=2940154954089

Itunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/id1282813021

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/two-hearts-christmas-wish

My latest release is

Two Hearts Find Christmas

(Two Hearts Wounded Warrior Romance Book 5)

Josh Loughlin, a blind wounded warrior, has returned to Crystal Rock where Nurse Nina Chandler helps him confront the demons from an abusive past.

But it’ll turn out to be a Christmas they’ll always remember.

An excerpt:

“No, Josh. I’d never laugh at you—only with you.” She took in a deep breath. “I’m pretty sure that I’m in love with you, you know.”

“Well, I’m not pretty sure I’m in love with you,” Josh answered.

And Nina stilled.

“I’m positive that I am,” he muttered fiercely.

Nina breathed out softly, “Oh, Josh.”

 

This story will be part of the new exclusive

Authors’ Billboard Boxset

A Christmas She’ll Remember.

It will be coming out in (you guessed it) October!!

Merry Christmas!!

Tam

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Tamara Ferguson
A member of the Romance Writers of America, Tamara Ferguson is the multi-award winning, #1 international bestselling author of the Tales of the Dragonfly Romance Suspense Series, the Kissed By Fate Series, and the Two Hearts Wounded Warrior Romance Series. Her latest wounded warrior romance novella, Two Hearts Unspoken, is included in the top-ten bestselling Holiday Anthology, Mother’s Day Magic…With Love, which was also #1 in Wounded Warrior Fiction. Since being released independently, Two Hearts Unspoken has become a #1 International Best Seller at Amazon as well as a #1 International Hot New Release, and is the 2016 SILVER MEDAL WINNER at Readers’ Favorite International Book Awards for Military Fiction. Presently, Tamara’s working on Two Hearts’ Christmas Wish, the fourth story in her multi-award winning Two Hearts Wounded Warrior series, Emergence, the third book in the multi-award winning Tales of the Dragonfly Novels, and a novella for the next installment of the bestselling Wedding Pets and Kisses anthologies, featuring stories by multi-award winning, bestselling and USA Today authors. Since she remains a full-time caregiver for an autistic son, you can usually find Tammy working at home, where she spends a lot of time not completing her numerous home improvement projects, because she's writing or helping author friends promote their books on twitter.
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Vengeance rules her life… Maggie’s Revenge by Jacquie Biggar #RomSuspense #MilitaryRomance #mgtab @jacqbiggar

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JacquieBiggar_MaggiesRevenge_800px

DEA Special Agent Maggie Holt is fierce, smart, beautiful– and in over her head.

Maggie has been working undercover 15 months when she is taken by Chinese-Mexican cartel leader, Chenglei. She tries to escape with 8 other women and is captured and brutally punished.

Adam O’Connor is angry and frustrated. It’s his fault his partner, and one-time lover, is missing and no matter how many leads he chases, they don’t bring Maggie home.

An unexpected break in the case sends Adam south to Texas. His old SEAL Team Chief, Frank Stein, offers his home and his help in the search effort.

Will these two strong men find Maggie? And will their decades old friendship be destroyed by their love for the same woman?

Read the exciting continuation of the Wounded Hearts Saga this December!

Pre-order Your Copy Today!

she scared him. Magdalena Holt had the power to rip his safe, secure world apart and Frank wasn't sure he could handle the fallout.

Excerpt

Maggie wiped the sweat dripping into her eyes and scowled at the still-too-damn-hot sun taking its sweet time to dip behind the hills. She looked at the other women hunkered under the Humvee to grab what shade they could, and sighed. They were bruised and bloody, but alive. That’s all she could ask for right now.

Well, that and a tank of gas would be nice.

And a cool shower.

A steak dinner.

Her own bed.

Maybe she was hallucinating.

She laid the rifle across her thighs and leaned against the massive tire of the truck, one of the only spots she could touch without getting burnt. Someone with a sense of humor must have a plan for her, otherwise how could she have escaped a Mexican prison after months of captivity, get shot and survive it, then outgun a truckload of banditos and still be able to sit here boiling to death?

“You should join us,” Olga called, her voice raspy. “It’s safer under here. You don’t look so good, my friend.”

Maggie tried to make her smile reassuring, though the pain in her side was getting progressively worse. She’d glanced at it a few minutes ago and been dismayed by the redness surrounding the wound. “Soon. I need to do a reconnaissance of our friends over there first. I’m just getting up the energy.”

She hated how weak and dizzy she felt. They had neither the time for her to fight through an infection—and unless one of the ladies knew some desert secret—nor antibiotics to help the healing process.

Thank goodness, the men had not been trained troops. It took only moments for the firefight to end, with no injuries to the women. Maggie hated to kill them, but there was no choice. It was them or her. The grenade blast had done a good job of creating chaos among the men. They’d jumped from the truck, fearing another blast, and then it was a simple matter to pick them off from there.

She used the butt of the rifle to climb awkwardly to her feet and trudged through the sand toward the carnage, stiffening at the sound of steps behind her. She turned and frowned. The women trailed her, Olga in the lead brandishing a piece of lead piping that had been lying on the floor of the Humvee.

“Go back,” Maggie cried. “It’s too dangerous. At least until I make sure they’re…”

Olga reached her side and clasped a hand around her waist, careful to avoid the wound. “You can barely stand,” she whispered, for Maggie’s ears alone. “Do not be so brave, you’re stupid. We need you to get out of here. I need you,” she added.

Maggie gulped tears of gratitude. They may be in the middle of a war, but she’d made a friend for life.

She nodded. “Okay, let’s do this.”

***

Chenglei poured his tea and ignored the foot soldier sweating in his doorway. The child he’d been training lay sobbing quietly on the floor at his feet. Her leg was red and angry-looking where the hot liquid had spilled. She’d been warned on the proper etiquette; he never repeated himself.

It was a sign of weakness.

And Chenglei refused to fail.

“Tell me, how is it your militia cannot manage to capture five scrawny women? This is beyond my understanding.” He glared at the soldier. “Did I not make myself clear? I want them,

dead or alive. Why could your fools not accomplish this one small matter?”

The man wiped a shaky hand over his brow, then resumed Parade Rest position. “I am sorry, señor. I lost good soldiers today. The woman, she has training. My men were not expecting a firefight. They did their best under the circumstances.”

Under the…

Chenglei sipped his tea and tried to calm his nerves. The girl’s sniveling wasn’t helping matters. He gave her a shove with his toe. “Go to your room. I do not wish to see you again this night.”

She hiccupped and lifted her head, eyes red, cheeks flushed. She would be a beauty one day; if he didn’t kill her first.

“Go,” he snarled, some of the fury churning within escaping despite his control. He took a deep breath and let it out slowly.

Once.

Twice.

There, see. The monster who beat at the doors of his mind did not rule him, he was its master. Just as he was the ruler of his fate. And one stupid American woman was not going to change that fact. He waited until the child slipped out of the room before addressing the captain.

“You are right. The woman—the one with dark hair—she is a spy.” The soldier stiffened. Chenglei hid his satisfaction. “She is here to destroy the cartel. We must do whatever is necessary to stop her. Do you understand?”

The man gave a sharp nod, the light of retribution shining out of his dark eyes. “. I will round up another team, and this time, she will not get away.”

Bueno,” Chenglei murmured. “Bring her back alive, if you can. I do not care about the rest; your men may do as they wish with them. But Señorita Holt and I have business to finish; I want her returned to me.”

The captain bowed and backed out of the room, closing the heavy brass-plated door behind him. Chenglei had a love of beauty and was careful to surround himself with only the very best of everything. The wall-hangings dated from the sixteenth century, as did the Aubusson rug he sat upon, legs crossed. The rich greens and golds pleased his eye and the silkiness of his robes gratified his skin.

Success.

He’d made something of his life; he wasn’t about to let some gringa federal agent take that away from him.

I’m so excited to share Maggie’s book with you. Her story began way back in #2 of the Wounded Hearts series, The Rebel’s Redemption (soon to be available in Audible format), and quickly became a fan favorite. It’s taken me a while to give her journey the attention it deserves. Her voice has haunted me for long enough, it’s time to tell the tale!

When writer’s say they work in solitary, that’s not strictly true. At least, it isn’t for me. My characters live in my mind. They argue, dream, demand, ask for advice, rule my heart and my pen.

While I’ve written a few standalone novels, I have to admit I favor writing in a series. I like building a world and filling it with strong, interesting people readers can connect with, have empathy for, fall in love with.

If I can do that, I’ve done my job 🙂

Jacquie Biggar
Lives in paradise along the west coast of Canada with her her husband, daughter, and grandson. Loves reading, writing, and flower gardening. Spoils her German shepherd, Annie and calico cat, Harley. And can't function without coffee. View website
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Taking A Chance by Natalie Ann #mgtab

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Taking A Chance

With risk comes great reward. We’ve all heard this before, correct? Maybe we’ve said, “That’s right, I’m going to take a risk and I’m going to win.” Then you get all excited, you dive head first into the freezing cold water, come up for air and you wait. And wait. And wait.  “Where’s my reward?” you ask yourself.

That was me twenty plus years ago. I wanted to be a writer. An author. That was my goal. That was my dream. I’d started and stopped writing too many times to count, getting frustrated and giving up.

Then four years ago I told myself, it’s now or never and I made a plan. I’m good at making plans. And lists. Lots and lots of lists. My lists have lists and I’m proud of that fact!

My plan was to write one book. Start and keep going until it was done. Just to say I could do it. The finished product didn’t have to leave my computer, no one had to see it but me, but darn it all, I was going to finish that book.

Not only did I finish that book, Road to Recovery, but I wrote Road to Redemption and Road to Reality. Three books in draft form and I had no clue what to do next. So I started to search out editors, and since I’m a firm believer in fate, I kept coming back to this one editor.  Something pulled at me and said, “Reach out and see what she says.”

That risk I talked about before… well that’s what I did. My finger hovered over the mouse after I reread my email fifty times. The last thing I wanted to do was have a typo in the introduction email!

I didn’t have a long wait. I wasn’t floating in the cold water wondering when I could get out and grab a fluffy towel.  Now I’m not going to say my reward was instantaneous, because it wasn’t. I had a lot of work ahead of me, and I got right to it. Pulled out another ream of paper and made another list of where to start and how to approach it.

Here I am—not even three years after Road to Recovery was published—my fourteenth book, Take A Chance, was released this month.

Rene Buchanan did what I did. She’d had a life she lived for twenty-nine years and when it wasn’t working out the way she always envisioned. When she knew there was more out there and she just had to find it, she dove into that ice cold water and took her chance. Luckily for her, Cole McGuire was there to hand her a nice warm towel, wrap her up tight and show her that her risk was both their reward.

You can read Take A Chance now. Available on Amazon.

Natalie Ann

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Happy Autumn by @JoanReeves #mgtab #KissThrill

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Happy Autumn! It’s the first day of Fall!

I guess it may look like autumn in many parts of the country, but not here on the Texas coast. We’re still in summer and probably will be for another month before the cool down starts. Our first blue norther will probably blow in around Thanksgiving.

Contrary to popular belief, we do have trees that change colors. This photo is one I took last year that shows the beautiful foliage in my neighborhood. Our changing leaves are most frequently seen on crape myrtles, sweet gum trees, and tallow trees. Although the photo shows only one tree, there will be a few more trees with autumn leaves scattered amidst the massive live oaks that grow here.

Fall Means Winter’s Coming

Now that Fall has, uh, fallen, cold weather will be coming. Many of you will be turning on furnaces and putting away the garden hoses much sooner than we will. Now is a good time to go through a seasonal checklist because there’s more to getting ready for winter than putting away a garden hose and turning on a furnace.

Take Care of Your Home: 9 Things to Do Now

Take care of your home so it doesn’t end up looking like the one at right!

1. Service your furnace and change the filters in the air returns. If you don’t have an annual inspection plan, now is a good time to get one with a reputable heating/cooling company. They usually do a fall and spring check and do it more thoroughly than you can. Ask your neighbors for recommendations because this really is a good thing to pay for.

2. Drain garden hoses. Coil them up, secure with extra long cable ties or twist ties, and store in the garage or a shed until the spring thaw. They will last a lot longer if you do this even in moderate climates like Texas.

3. Clean all gutters and downspouts. Even better, hire someone to do this. This is a dreaded job. Far easier to pay someone a few bucks than to tackle it yourself. In fact, pay someone to put gutter guards on them. We just had that done.

4. Winterize, clean, and store your lawn mower. Winterize usually means draining oil and gas if needed. Wash the underside and remove built up grass “scum.”

5. Check all doors and window seals for cracks in the caulking or in the frame itself. Caulk and weatherize as necessary. This costs little but can save you a lot of money in heating and cooling.

6. Visually inspect your roof. Actually, see if you can take a good set of photos so you can compare the roof aging from one year to the next. (Good reason to buy a drone, right?) If you see any suspiciously dark spots or cracked shingles, call a roofing company. Squirrels

can do a lot of damage to a roof so if you have a lot of squirrels in the area–like we do–check your roof every month.

7. Check out the way your lot drains. Has anything overgrown its spot in your landscaping and now keeps rain from draining away from your house? Rain water should always drain easily away from your house not flow back to it.

8. If you have a chimney, inspect it. Clean out the fireplace if you didn’t do it at the end of the last cold weather. If you burn a lot of “dirty” woods like pine, etc., get a chimney sweep to clean the inside of the chimney. Always check the chimney cap. (That drone would really come in handy!) We found out during Hurricane Harvey that our chimney cap was cracked. It cost us $1,200.00 to repair the cap and the interior damage from a leaking fireplace. Far cheaper and easier to handle small repairs than to let it go and end up replacing the entire roof.

9. Trim overgrown shrubbery and trees away from the roof and exterior of your home. Tree branches scraping against a roof can prematurely age the roof. Clean up all debris. Where home maintenance is concerned, procrastination is disastrous and expensive. Inspect at the beginning of fall and spring. These few things, if done now, might save you thousands of dollars.

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Joan Reeves
NY Times and USA Today bestselling author Joan Reeves makes her home in the Lone Star State with her hero, her husband. They have 4 children who think they are adults and a ghost dog, all the ingredients for a life full of love and warmed by laughter. Joan lives the philosophy that is the premise of her romance novels: "It's never too late to live happily ever after."  View website
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