Thursday, September 02, 2021

The Aspen Gold Authors have a complimentary book for you!

The Aspen Gold authors released a complimentary anthology on the 1st. The idea for this project came together pretty quickly. We all agreed to write a f r e e story, and the theme that would tie them together would be events previous to the start of the series.

We chose very different subjects, per usual, and brainstormed our stories. Some people mistakenly think writing a short story is easy because it's not long, but they're wrong. The very fact that novellas have so few pages makes the plotting and characterization more difficult than when the writer has more pages. Every word has to count.
And the icing on the cake? 13 more AG series books are 99 c this week. Say whaaaat? Yep.
Personally, I love writing this format for the challenge and maybe because of the fact that The End arrives quickly. 🙂 The character/s still needs goal/motivation/conflict. It's imperative to characterize immediately while hooking the reader within several paragraphs.
Some of our readers have been with us since Aspen Gold's launch and that very first Halloween party. Others found us a few books in. We're reaching new readers every day. We appreciate all of you equally and are super excited to offer you this gift from our hearts. Do let us know what you think of our stories, and please don't forget to leave us reviews.
Our numbers have been great.

We didn't forget those of you who only read print, and so *lizzie, our formatter, made a print version as well. Of course we can't give those away because it costs to print them, but we've priced them as low as amazon will allow.


Dancing in the Dark - Cheryl St.John
Call Me Mandy - Debra Hines
Ryder's Heart - Lizzie Starr
For Keeps - Barbara Gwen &Lizzie Starr
Second Chances - Donna Kaye
Sleepin' Alone - Bernadette Jones
Stay a Little Longer - Bernadette Jones
Speechless - Lizzie Starr
Close to the Heart - Debra Hines
Finding Hope - Donna Kaye
Fortunate Cookie - Lizzie Starr
Lonely Eyes - Bernadette Jones
Whisper My Name - Cheryl St.John
Gorgeous Scars – M.A. Jewell
Another Night Alone – Bernadette Jones
Maybe I’m the One – Cheryl St.John
Yesterday’s Promise – Aspen Gold Authors

Friday, July 23, 2021

Chocolate Rhubarb Bundt Cake


Back by popular request is the recipe for my Chocolate Rhubarb Cake

Chocolate Rhubarb Cake


 Prepare sauce ahead:
  • 6-8 cups chopped rhubarb
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
Place in heavy saucepan and bring to a boil. Turn down heat; simmer and stir while mixture bubbles about 20 minutes or until foamy. Cool, cover and refrigerate.
Preheat oven to 350. Grease and spray Bundt pan well.
  • 1 package chocolate cake mix
  • 1/4 cup light olive oil
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 cups cooked rhubarb
Combine first three ingredients; beat well until mixture is smooth.
Add 2 cups rhubarb sauce, reserving remainder for topping.
Pour into greased pan and bake about 40 minutes (depending on your pan)

Cool in pan 20 minutes, then invert onto plate to cool

Warm the remaining sauce and spoon over slices to serve
Refrigerate leftovers.

This recipe and more in Cheryl St.John's Bundt cake book, All About the Bundt


Thursday, July 01, 2021

Questionably the 60 Most Romantic Movies of All Time

I combined three lists of favorite romantic movies compiled by Town & Country, Glamour and Harper’s Bazaar magazines. I don’t know that I agree that these are the most romantic movies I’ve ever seen (I have many others I’d choose), but I do like a challenge and I'm at a loss for good television this summer (I really enjoyed Sweet Tooth on Netflix though), so adventurously I’ll be watching others' choices and checking movies off my list.

I'm already halfway through Silvie's Love and am really enjoying it. Set in 1962 Detroit, so I love the clothes and the music. I'm finding some of the situations for the time period questionable, however.

Quite a few of these movies I've seen, of course, and I own several on DVD. I'm thinking I'll drag out a DVD payer and hook it up for the summer. Haven't had one out for several years.

I’ve done the work to discover how to view each one (I did not check Hulu) if you want to copy and have a movie-thon with me.

  • When Harry Met Sally $3.99 rent
  • If Beale Street Could Talk $3.99 rent
  • West Side Story $3.99 rent
  • I Am Love $3.99 rent
  • Before Midnight $3.99
  • Our Souls at Night, netflix
  • Silvie’s Love, prime
  • Love Story, prime
  • Say Anything $3.99 rent
  • Amour $3.99 rent
  • Black Orpheus $3.99 rent (subtitled)
  • Silver Linings Playbook $3.99 rent
  • To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, netflix
  • (sequel) To All the Boys: p.s. I Still Love You, netflix
  • (sequel) To All the Boys: Always and Forever, netflix
  • Loving, netlix
  • La La Land $3.99 rent
  • Casablanca $3.99 rent
  • Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind $3.99 rent
  • Notting Hill $3.99 rent
  • The Notebook $3.99 rent
  • The Big Sick, prime
  • The Way We Were $3.99 rent
  • The Umbrellas of Cherbourg $3.99 rent
  • Titanic $3.99 rent
  • A Star is Born Cooper/Gaga $3.99 rent
  • Pretty Woman $3/99 rent
  • Roman Holiday, prime
  • 10 Things I Hate About You $3.99 rent
  • Moulin Rouge $3.99 rent
  • Dirty Dancing $3.99 rent
  • Shakespeare in Love $3.99 rent
  • Love and Basketball $3.99 rent
  • The Photograph buy $9.99 or HBO
  • Ghost $3.99 rent
  • Romeo and Juliet 1996 $3.99 rent
  • Blue Valentine $3.99 rent
  • Always Be My Maybe, netflix
  • About Time, netflix
  • The Fault in Our Stars $3.99 rent
  • Maid in Manhattan $3.99 rent
  • A Walk to Remember 2002 @3.99 rent
  • p.s. I Love You $3.99 rent
  • Coming to America 1988 $3.99 rent
  • You’ve Got Mail $3.99 rent
  • Save the Last Dance $3.99 rent
  • Love Actually, Netflix
  • Pride and Prejudice 2005, $3.99 rent
  • Sense and Sensibility 1995 $3.99 rent
  • Moonstruck $3.99 rent
  • It Happened One Night $3.99 rent
  • Moonrise Kingdom $3.99 rent
  • Princess Bride $3.99 rent
  • To Catch a Thief $3.99 rent
  • Punch Drunk Love $3.99 rent
  • Testament of Youth, prime
  • Away We Go $3.99 rent
  • The Apartment, prime
  • Sliding Doors $2.99 rent
  • Top Five $3.99 rent
Are any of these already on your favorites list?

#netflix, #movies, #romance, #romanticmovies, #primevideo, #Hulu, #watching

Tuesday, June 08, 2021

Meet Cody, the Collie in Hometown Girl: Read Excerpt #MFRWHooks

     A full-grown collie bounded toward Justin, slowed, then sat watching him. Even in the semi-dark with only the lights from inside the RV, he noted the dog’s long-tri-colored coat was clean and well-maintained. The animal was mostly a tan color, with dark ears and tail, and a fluffy white collar and chest.

“Well, you’re a handsome fella.”

The dog quirked its ears.

Justin extended a hand, palm down. “Come on over. Let’s get acquainted.”

The collie got right up and padded over to sniff the back of his hand, his jeans, his boots. Justin turned over his hand and scratched behind the animal’s ears. “There are only three or four places close by, and it looks as though you didn’t come far.”

He thought over the neighbors he remembered…and of course the Marshall place was closest. “If you belong to her, we’re both in the dog house.”

       He should probably see if he could reach a neighbor by phone and inquire about an owner. He shouldn’t let the collie leave on its own. Coyotes and wolves were often spotted in the area. He worked through the thick fur to turn the collar and find tags. “Cody. That’s you?”

The dog looked at him, tongue lolling.

“Well, Cody, what shall we do with you?”

The animal thumped its tail on the ground, and its ears pricked upward.

Headlights appeared at the end of the drive, and the twin beams turned toward the house, bouncing up and down on the rutted gravel. As the vehicle approached, he made out the familiar two-tone green ’87 Ford pickup Stevie Marshall’s grandfather had driven years ago. The paint was dulled, but the body was still in great shape, and he didn’t spot any rust. It was time for a pain pill, and his spine was screaming, but he deliberately rose from the chair and forced himself to stand straight.

Cody stood beside him, tail wagging, as the truck engine shut off and the driver door opened. She took a step down to the ground and took in the scene. Cody ran toward her, ears lowered. “You know you’re in trouble. That was bad, Cody.”

“Hey, Stevie.”


He walked toward her. “He’s yours, huh? Beautiful dog.”

“Beautiful bus.”

“Yeah.” He glanced at his sleek Mirage XL. “Spend a lot of time in ‘er.”

She pointed to her open driver door. “Cody, get in the truck.”

The dog leaped up to the seat and she closed the door with a loud metallic creak. Cody stuck his head out the open window, obviously attentive to their interaction. “Cody’s usually better behaved.”

She wore a flowery dress, denim jacket, and a pair of slip-on canvas shoes.

He straightened and held his shoulders erect. He had a cane inside, but he wouldn’t be caught dead with it. “I stopped by your market this morning. That old truck out front with flowers and bushes planted all around it—some in the bed, some inside—never seen anything like it. And the waterfall pouring from the driver’s window is pretty darned creative.”

       “That truck was in one of the barns. Got the idea for an attention-getter and hauled it out with a tractor.”

“It’s an attention-getter for sure. I’ll bet people stop to take pictures. Heck, I took a picture.”

“Why did you stop by the market?” Her surprise was evident in her voice.

“To shop. Great place you have there.”

She glanced toward the screened door of the mobile home and the light in the windows.

He poked a thumb into his rear pocket and glanced at his home on wheels. “Staying here a while.”

“For the fair?”

“No. The committee asked me to make a few appearances, but I was going to be here anyway.”

She didn’t ask for an explanation.

“Doing physical therapy,” he explained anyway.

She nodded. “An injury?”

“Yeah, I had surgery. Won’t be down long, and I’ll be back on the circuit. Maybe we can grab dinner while I’m here. Catch up.”

“Maybe.” She took a step toward her truck.

“Or I can pick up steaks for us both.”

She studied him.

Why was he trying so hard? No doubt she wondered what he hoped to gain by trying to repair their friendship.

“Why?” she asked finally.

“Because we’re friends.”

“We’re not friends, Justin.”

“Well, we could be.”

“It wouldn’t go anywhere.” She climbed into her truck and shut the door. “Cody, stay on your side.” The dog obeyed and sat on the seat, facing forward.

Justin walked right up to the driver door and placed his hands on the open window frame. His nearness obviously made her uneasy, but she looked at him. “You’re happy, aren’t you, Stevie? Doing what you want to do?”

Her expression said she hadn’t expected his question. He hadn’t planned to ask it. But something inside him wanted to know. She looked away and reached for the keys she’d left in the ignition. “Yes. I’m happy.”

He didn’t move away, so she finally looked back at him. Her dash lights were dim, but enough to highlight the curve of her cheek and the shape of her lips and chin. Seeing her made him feel things he hadn’t felt for a long time. Things he shouldn’t want to feel, but he did.

“Why did you ask?”

“I hope you are, that’s all.” He leaned away, tapped the truck door, and backed up.

She started the engine, put the truck in reverse and backed up in a circle, so she could put the transmission in drive and go forward away from the house, along the dark drive. He watched until her headlights were on the road and released a breath he hadn’t realized he was holding.

They’d both followed their ambitions. He wasn’t sorry about that. He wouldn’t have changed her for the world, and she wouldn’t have wanted him to give up his dreams. It had always been a cryin’ shame their dreams weren’t compatible. It would never have worked out for them to be together. But knowing that didn’t make seeing her now any easier. He loved her as much as he ever had.


#MFRWhooks #MFRWauthor #MFRWorg #amreadingromance


Monday, March 01, 2021

Caught in a lie... A Husband By Any Other Name

Caught in a lie….

Fourteen years ago Dan Beckett’s identical twin took off without a word to his pregnant young fiancé or their father. Having secretly loved Lorraine for years, Dan assumes his twin’s identity as the first-born son, as Lorraine’s husband and father of the baby she carried. Around the lie, he created the perfect life.

But now his greatest fear is coming true. His long-lost brother is coming home—with amnesia. Dan is about to lose his tenuous hold on this masquerade, and he must tell Lorraine the truth before Tom remembers his true identity.

Lorrie built a life with Tom Beckett, the man she loves, the father of her children—or so she believed. Her first reaction to his confession is disbelief…and then anger and hurt. Her whole married life has been a lie. But Lorrie has a secret of her own—a secret that never seemed important until now.

Will the truth unravel the love they once shared? What will become of their family, their children…their marriage when everyone learns the truth?

Thursday, February 25, 2021

The Right Way to Write the way that works for you.

Writers refer to their methods of writing as either being a pantster, meaning they write by the set of their pants with little planning--or a plotter, which means they use one or more of many methods to plot and plan the story first. There are a lot of gradients in between those two extremes.

I used to be a pantster, but have learned over the years to do more planning. I don't by any means outline chapters on note cards or anything (look at my eye twitchin'), but I write a synopsis that shows me I have the conflict and emotional depth to carry the story all the way through. My synopsis is for my own benefit, because I add dialogue and bits of things that excite me about the story so I can recapture them later on. I find I don't get bogged down in the middle if I've planned well enough in the beginning, noted plot points, etc.

For me, synopsis writing is part of my brainstorming and one of the most fun parts of writing a book. The rest is real work. I write the first couple of chapters along with the synopsis, and that's how I learn the characters and their motivation and conflict.

Monday, February 08, 2021

Back to the Joy of Writing – Cheryl St.John


I have always had a rule I teach and that we practice in my critique group: Don’t ever budge on that one element that excited you about a story in the first place. That spark that inspired you to write the story is what will carry you through the middle and to the end. Not all books are easy, even when you love your subject matter and characters, but books are double down hard to write if you lose the joy.

We do our best, but the lack of joy eventually shows in our work, our health, our personal lives. I had been under contract for over twenty-five years, writing two or three books a year, and everyone knows a career isn’t a writer’s only responsibility. Most of us have spouses, children, grandchildren and parents. Eventually I realized I needed a change.

After twenty-five years under contract, by fate or a stroke of luck or God’s timing, whichever your belief, a line closed and I didn’t have an option book. I’d been in that place before and it had felt scary. This time it felt good. Like someone had taken an 800-pound boulder off my shoulders. And in this timing of events, I also had a new grandchild due.

To my daughter’s immense relief, I told her I’d care for the baby for the first year. I had a few weeks to decompress and prepare, and then the baby came. I had forgotten how exhausting it is to take care of an infant, but it was a good exhaustion, and I enjoyed every minute of it. After the baby was a year old, my daughter had a neck surgery, and I cared for both of them at their house every day, so this hiatus stretched into about sixteen months. During that time, I eventually missed writing. I got ideas. The desire was there to tell stories, but I knew I didn’t want to go back to where I’d been before. I wanted to write, but I didn’t want to experience the pressure of deadlines.

I made a decision to only write books that I love from that moment on. And to do it in a manner at and a pace that I set for myself. Choosing to make a change was a huge step. Indie authors don’t have the distribution advantages of traditional publishers. They don’t get advances. They do all the work. But they can choose to do the writing and marketing at a pace that’s comfortable for them, and there’s a lot to be said for comfortable.

In deciding what to do next, everything fell into place. Years previously in my critique group, we had the grandiose idea of creating a continuity series. We had thrown ourselves into developing characters, fashioning families, planning family dynamics, and a setting. We had created family trees, character profiles, detailed maps, and brainstormed themes. We collected photos and researched and even started the stories. After a time, the contracted books came first; two members dropped out of the group; a couple new ones came and went. But the core group remained.

In a tragic turn of events, we lost a beloved friend and co-writer. Grief took the remaining wind from our sails. We recovered slowly, welcomed a new friend to our critique group. Then came a day when we got together and said, "We're going to get serious and do this!" Energy built, and the series took on new life. A previous co-creator joined us again. Now, here we are, many years after the initial idea, actually publishing the books and enjoying their development. Together we’ve finished thirteen stories in the Aspen Gold Series and there are more to come.

And I’ve recaptured the joy of writing!

I’m excited about our Valentine’s Day sale. Each of the Aspen Gold Series books is on sale for 99 cents this week. CLICK HERE



Whisper My Name

Sweet Romance from a USA Today Bestselling Author

 She was the girl behind the headlines.

Anyone hearing her real identity would know who she was, and she’s had enough of cameras, questions and stares. Unwanted attention comes in the worst possible form—a tough, perceptive, and all too determined lawman.

Will Laurel’s truth be his undoing…or hers?

Tuesday, November 03, 2020

Tips For Writing a Helpful Book Review

Hook the reader

Why did you pick up this book? Why do you think another reader should or shouldn’t? What was your takeaway? Explain what caught your attention.


Don’t write a synopsis of the book
Focus on elements that you feel particularly strongly about or you think that your readers will want to be aware of. If you liked a character, explain why. If you didn’t like a character, make it clear why you felt that way. Did you appreciate the author’s writing style?


Avoid spoilers
Writers take special care to reveal plot points and secrets at appropriate times in a story. Authors don’t appreciate reviews giving away the big moments, and readers don’t appreciate knowing what’s going to happen ahead of time. If you’ve done this in the past, be kind and revise.


What matters is how you felt about the characters and their story
What worked or didn’t work? Was the story satisfying? Did you appreciate character development? Did the story end the way you hoped or was the conclusion better or worse than expected?


Read reviews on other books

What sort of reviews help you select a book to buy? Do you like quotes pulled from the book? Do you like fair warning about emotional triggers? What do others say that you can appreciate about their review style?


Always proofread
Did you use correct character names? Do you have typos? Did you give away a spoiler?


You love books, so have fun
Readers read reviews to make buying choices. Everyone appreciates a well thought out commentary on a book. Be creative with your remarks and write as though you’re speaking to the next reader trying to decide what to buy. You are!

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Overview of Whisper My Name and the Aspen Gold Series

Her story is ripped from the headlines....

Read the series: Whisper My Name: Aspen Gold Series by Cheryl St John @_cherylstjohn_ @Gold_Aspen #RLFblog #sweet #ContemporaryRomance

Laurel Whitaker has spent her entire life burying her infamous past and becoming a normal person.

Joe Cavanaugh suspects she’s in trouble. His job demands honesty, and it’s his nature is to protect.

Will Laurel’s truth be her undoing…or his?

Whisper My Name in the Aspen Gold Series

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Book heat level (based on movie ratings): G

She was the girl behind the headlines

Laurel Whitaker has been her name for fifteen years. Anyone hearing her true identity would know who she was, and she’s had enough of cameras, questions and stares. Spencer, Colorado is a great place to blend in among the tourists. But unwanted attention comes in the worst possible form—a tough, perceptive, and all too determined lawman.

Sheriff Joe Cavanaugh looks out for people—his large loving family, his teenage daughter, anyone in his county who needs him. But the mistrustful young woman staying in the lake house beside his property goes out of her way to avoid his help, and that’s suspicious. Instinct tells him she’s hiding something…and attraction motivates him to uncover her secrets.


Whisper My Name is book #13 in the Aspen Gold Series.

This is my second in this multi-author series, and I have at least five more stories plotted. I’m sure many more ideas will come to me. I’m enjoying the freedom of writing what I love. There are thirteen books so far, including those of my co-authors.

My characters in the series

I’ve written the stories of two Cavanaugh brothers so far: Dusty Cavanaugh and Kendra Price, as well as Joe Cavanaugh and Laurel Whitaker. My current work in progress is about Deputy Jericho Tanner and the woman he still loves. Audrey Knox left Spencer and made it big as a pop-country singer, but she returns in hopes of giving her daughter a normal childhood.

The overall theme of the series

Spencer, Colorado is a thriving tourist town, its main draw an exclusive high-security hotel where celebrities and well-known personalities can vacation in seclusion.

Please list the series titles below, in any order you prefer.

Dancing in the Dark – Cheryl St John
Call Me Mandy – Debra Hines
Ryder’s Heart – Lizzie Starr
For Keeps – Barbara Gwen &Lizzie Starr
Second Chances – Donna Kaye
Sleepin’ Alone – Bernadette Jones
Stay a Little Longer – Bernadette Jones
Speechless – Lizzie Starr
Close to the Heart – Debra Hines
Finding Hope – Donna Kaye
Fortunate Cookie – Lizzie Starr
Lonely Eyes – Bernadette Jones
Whisper My Name – Cheryl St John

I was under contract with a major publisher for 25 years. Writing the Aspen Gold Series has given me the freedom to write the characters and storylines with complete freedom and with all the energy I have for the stories.

Other recent books not in this series

My other most recent releases are American westerns, Tanner (Bachelors and Babies series) and Joe’s Wife.

Links to find all my books

Amazon Author Page:

Where to buy Whisper My Name

Publisher Aspen Gold Books
Universal Buy Link

Cheryl St John Social Media

Cheryl is the author of more than fifty books, both historical and contemporary. Her stories have earned numerous RITA nominations, Romantic Times awards and are published in over a dozen languages. One thing all reviewers and readers agree on regarding Cheryl’s work is the degree of emotion and believability. In describing her stories of second chances and redemption, readers and reviewers use words like, “emotional punch, hometown feel, core values, believable characters and real-life situations.”

Amazon and Goodreads reviews show her popularity with readers. With a 4.9 star rating on amazon, Cheryl’s bestselling non-fiction books, Writing With Emotion, Tension & Conflict and Write Smart, Write Happy by Writers Digest Books are available in print and digital.

Amazon Author Page
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Monday, October 12, 2020

Were Your 2020 Goals a Bust? It's Never Too Late

It’s October already! It's time for apple cider and pumpkin-spice everything, to be immediately followed by Thanksgiving--and I expect there are already Christmas trees in the stores. Many of us will be glad to say adios to 2020 and move on. It's been a year we wish we could forget, but we had to live it to the best of our abilities and keep going.

I wrote and published two books this year, though I'd wanted to complete three. I'm not kicking myself however. I've given myself permission to take self-care days when I need them. 

During the year I often encourage followers to check back over their goal lists and see if they’re where they want to be. A lot of times when the excitement has drained from our writing or when we’re bored with the tedium of work and responsibilities, it’s because we’ve forgotten our dreams--or we've allowed other things to gain more importance. The distractions that monopolize our time aren't necessarily bad things; plenty of them are perfectly justified or necessary, rewarding even.

Of course there are mortgages to pay and kids to raise and groceries to buy and dinners to prepare, but tucking away our aspirations at the expense of our personal well-being isn’t healthy. Eventually we resent the things that are robbing us of personal fulfilment, instead of enjoying each facet for the richness it brings. Certainly there is joy to be found in the treasure of children in the dream of your own home and, but sometimes we pause in the midst of all that busyness to wonder, “Is this all there is?” There has to be more, and we yearn to find fulfillment within ourselves. That’s most often the time to reprioritize our busy schedules.

Often, sacrifices must be made to accomplish the things most important to us. It's up to you to identify what those sacrifices are and decide whether or not your goals are worth them.

“What is not started today is never finished tomorrow.” - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Look at the goals you set for this year. If you were in a slump, it's okay. Put it behind you. It’s not too late to get started on something new. Take time now to make a list.

Sit down and write five things that you dream of doing. Divide them into categories if you like: Family, Professional, Writing, Spiritual or Just for Me. Now select one that you will work on before the end of the year.

Make another list of the steps you will take to see that accomplishment come to pass. Now take those steps. Recapture your joy. We need to be participants in our lives, not spectators. We need to be passionate about our dreams. Sometimes simply revisiting our dreams is the kick we need to change our thinking and get us out of a rut.

Dream big and dream often.

“You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.” - C.S. Lewis

“Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration, the rest of us just get up and go to work. – Stephen King