Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Thursday, September 24, 2009

The Magnificent Seven Reissue

The Magnificent Seven
Silhouette Special Releases
Sep 2009
Miniseries: Montana Mavericks
ISBN:9780373310524 (#30)

Heather Johnson had never intended to return to Whitehorn, Montana. But restoring an inherited ranch seemed the perfect way to pass the summer with her three kids. The moment she hired carpenter Mitch Fielding, though, his motherless twin daughters in tow, those short-term plans suddenly went awry. Mitch was the first man in her life who truly seemed to notice her. And as his skillful hands restored the ranch and ignited a passion she'd never known, her fragile heart began to heal, as well. For once in Heather's life everything seemed magnificent. And that scared her. Because the future she wanted—and the past she'd run from—were forever in Whitehorn….

The Magnificent Seven

Chapter One

Mitch led his twin six-year-olds, Taylor and Ashley, through the lunch crowd at the Hip Hop Café as though he were guiding them through a minefield. Taylor narrowly missed knocking over a gray-haired gent's cane that was leaning against a table edge, and Mitch clamped his hand firmly over Ashley's mouth as soon as he noticed an overweight woman shoveling chocolate-cream pie between her lips.

He got them settled into a booth and released his breath. "There." He picked up the plastic-coated menu and scanned for something nourishing the twins would eat without pitching a fit. "They have hamburgers and chicken fingers."

"Yuck. I want a chocolate malt and a pickle," Ashley pronounced.

"I want skettios," Taylor said.

"They don't have skettios," he replied to one daughter, then turned to the other. "And you can have a chocolate malt if you eat a hamburger."

"Gross. I don't want a hamburger." She folded her arms over the front of her Teletubbie T-shirt. "I want a pickle."

"You can have a pickle with your hamburger. Taylor, they have spaghetti."

"Don't like spaghetti."

"Of course you do. It's the same stuff that comes out of the cans, only real."

"Uh-uh-uh," she said in a singsongy voice with a shake of her head. "It doesn't taste the same."

He resisted the urge to argue or bargain in public, which always made him feel as if his daughters were getting the upper hand anyway. How long could a child survive on pickles, malts and canned spaghetti? It was his job as a parent to see that they were well nourished, but how did he go about it? Some nights he dropped into bed mentally exhausted, feeling lucky to have gotten several bites of anything into them.

A waitress appeared at his elbow, and Mitch glanced up to see the slim blonde in a blue T-shirt proclaiming Breakfast Served All Day give him a curious once-over. Everyone in Whitehorn, Montana, seemed to know each other, and he obviously stuck out as a newcomer. A quick scan confirmed that a dozen eyes had zeroed in on him and his daughters.

"Afternoon," she said pleasantly. "I'm Janie Austin. Which one of Garrett Kincaid's grandsons are you?"

"Mitch Fielding," he replied self-consciously. "How did you know?"

She cast him a friendly smile. "In Whitehorn everybody knows everybody else's business. Anticipating each grandson's arrival has been the hot topic for quite a while."

He didn't know how well he liked being the subject of gossip, but this young woman seemed friendly and accepting enough. Apparently everyone already knew he was one of six illegitimate grandsons the old man had summoned to his ranch. Garrett was still searching for a seventh.

She touched his shoulder in a brief gesture of greeting that put him at ease. "Nice to meet you, Mitch."

He returned her neighborly smile. "These are my daughters, Taylor and Ashley."

"Look at that pretty blond hair. What'll you have, girls?"

He gave her their orders, amid objections from his daughters. Taylor waved her arm to get his attention and knocked the ketchup bottle into the salt and pepper shakers. Pepper spilled on the laminate tabletop, and she promptly blew it into her sister's face.

Ashley sneezed and her eyes watered. She grabbed for the rolled paper napkin that held her silverware and sent the metal utensils flying across the table and onto the floor.

Mitch picked up the utensils, handed them to the astonished waitress and admonished the girls to sit on their behinds.

By the time their food arrived, everyone in the room knew Taylor had to go to the bathroom. He took them to the women's room, standing outside until their food was cold. Finally he rapped on the door.

Thank God it was a one-seater, because he had to go in to dry their hands and pull them out. So that the next person wouldn't slip and break her neck, he mentioned to the waitress that the rest room floor was flooded.

"My spaghetti's cold," Taylor complained loudly.

"So's everything else." With a sigh, Mitch picked up his cold burger and took a bite, just as Ashley knocked over her malt.

Twenty minutes later he released their hands to get his wallet and pay the cashier. He ran back to leave a generous tip at the table for the patient waitress.

A bulletin board on the wall by the cash register caught his attention and, ignoring the yanks on his hands, he scanned the notices of cars and household items for sale. He was particularly looking for someone to watch the girls for him so he could line up a few jobs. Most of the Want Ads had been placed by junior and high school students; the twins needed someone more experienced. Much more experienced. A warden, perhaps.

One notice caught his eye. Handyman Wanted. He released a small hand to tap the card with his forefinger.

"Know anything about this one?" He directed his question to the gray-haired waitress in orthopedic shoes standing near the cash register.

"That's Pete Bolton's ranch," she replied. "His daughter was in here a couple of weeks ago, looking for someone to help her fix up the place to sell."

That sounded like just the job for him. A couple of months back he'd had to sell all of his contracts, to take care of the girls. His mother had been caring for them, but one calamity after another had pulled him from work sites, until it wasn't fair to his customers or his subcontractors for him to continue. While trying to figure out what to do, he'd decided that Garrett Kincaid's invitation was just the solution.

This had been the perfect time to do some traveling, and he'd been eager to spend more time with, and get to know, this grandfather he'd never known existed until last May.

"Do you have some paper I can write the number on?" he asked.

"Sure, sugar." She fished in her pocket, came out with her order tablet and a pen, and scribbled the phone number, tearing off the sheet and handing it to him.

The bell over the door clanged and he turned to see one of his daughters dash outside.

"Thanks." He stuffed the paper into his shirt pocket and pulled the other child out the door behind him.

Lily Mae Wheeler got up out of her permanent seat in the first booth and walked over to Charlene, her gaudy jewelry clanking at her wrists and weighing down her bony chest.

"Heard he was at Garrett's ranch," she said to let Charlene know she'd been the first to hear. "Nobody knows much about him yet, 'cept his wife died when those two were just babies. Those children are holy terrors, have you ever seen the likes?"

"Must be difficult for a young father to raise two girls alone," Janie said sympathetically, coming up beside them.

"They need a good paddling, if you ask me," Lily Mae scoffed.

"Be interesting to see what happens at the Bolton ranch this afternoon, wouldn't it?" Charlene said with a devilish smile.

The three exchanged amused glances.

Engaging her ten-year-old daughter's help, Heather Johnson tackled the stack of dishes from lunch and breakfast.

"We need a dishwasher, Mom." Jessica dried a chipped plate and stood on tiptoe to place it in the cupboard.

"I didn't think we were going to be here long enough to need one," Heather replied with a regretful sigh. She turned and glanced at her sons who sat on the worn linoleum floor with coloring books. With his tongue angled out the side of his mouth, five-year-old Patrick studiously labored to keep the purple crayon inside the lines on the page. Two-year-old Andrew spent more time chasing the crayons under the table and tasting them than he did coloring, but at least her boys were temporarily occupied.

When she'd brought her children to the ranch after her father's death, she'd planned to take a two-week vacation, go through her father's personal belongings, and sell the property. A neat-and-tidy plan, something that should have gone smoothly.

Now, two and a half weeks later, she still hadn't been able to make any progress on selling. She hadn't planned on all the repairs that the real estate lady had suggested be made to get a decent price. Heather hadn't been back to Whitehorn in years, and the property had deteriorated more than she'd imagined. Her father obviously hadn't paid any more attention to the house than he ever had to her.

She shrugged off the depressing thought and gave Jessica a smile. "Thank you, angel. You are a big help to me, you know that?"

Wiping another plate, her daughter nodded in a grown-up manner. "Can we do something fun after this, Mom?"

A little pang of regret snagged Heather. She knew it hadn't been much fun for Jess to help with the boys all morning while Heather went through boxes and trunks and years' worth of accumulated junk. "What would you like to do?"

"Catch turtles in the pond?"

Heather wrinkled her nose. "Who's going to wade out there with the net?"

"You'll help, won't you?"

Heather had to admit she'd been appreciating this much-needed time with her kids. She loved her public relations job in San Francisco, and the sense of self-worth it had always brought, but she often felt guilty about the time she missed with her children. This time with them had been enjoyable, even though it had to be spent here—the last place on earth she'd choose to vacation.

She tapped Jessica on the nose with a sudsy finger. "Okay, I'll help you catch a turtle."

Jessica grinned that knockout smile, revealing dimples that would one day drive young men crazy. Heather's heart gave a sad twinge at the thought. She wasn't too concerned about her daughter's future.

She'd tried her best to ensure Jessica wouldn't make the same mistakes Heather had made.

Patrick jumped up and ran to the screen door that overlooked the long gravel drive. "Somebody's coming! It's a way cool truck!"

Andrew got up, crunching crayons beneath his red-and-blue tennis shoes in the process, and followed his brother. "Thumbody coming!" he mimicked.

Heather dried her hands and moved to the door. She'd been expecting the man who had called earlier about interviewing for the handyman job. The blue-and-silver duel cab Silverado pickup leaving a dust trail must belong to him.

"This is the appointment I was expecting." She hung up the towel. "We'll be discussing business in the other room. I want all of you to play quietly in here until we're finished."

She waited for the children's nods of understanding, then stepped back to the door.

The driver parked in the gravel area behind the house, but instead of getting out right away he turned toward the back seat. Heather noticed a couple of heads she hadn't seen at first. He'd brought children to a job interview? One big strike against him.

She stepped out onto the back porch, the age-splintered boards creaking precariously beneath her feet.

He exited the truck at last, closing the door and glancing over his shoulder.

He was tall, she noticed right away. Maybe thirty, with sandy-brown hair and a golden tan attesting to hours working in the sun.

The jeans he wore encased long legs and slim hips. A navy-blue, button-down knit shirt, work boots, and a slim black folder with a clipboard completed the classically sexy look of a handyman. Heather could picture him with a tool belt around his hips and smiled to herself. Certainly nothing wrong with his appearance.

He neared the porch. "Mrs. Johnson?"

She composed her face and nodded.

"Mitch Fielding."

She reached to shake his hand. He had calluses on his palms. Hardworking. Steadfast. Where had that come from? It had been a long time since she'd noticed a man the way she noticed this one. Perturbed, she released his hand. "We can talk inside."

He glanced uncomfortably over his shoulder.

"Your children?" she asked.

He nodded. "They're supposed to sit there until I get back."

She wondered again why he'd brought them along. It was completely unprofessional. "Would you like to let them come in and color at the kitchen table?"

"No," he said immediately with a shake of his head. "I don't think so."

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National Punctuation Day

Celebrate National Punctuation Day
http://www.nationalpunctuationday.com/ Maybe I can make a cake that looks like an exclamation point, hmm?

Harlequin Vintage Collection: Pardon My Body

Pardon My Body
Dale Bogard
Harlequin Special Releases: Vintage Collection
Oct 2009

From the moment Dale's headlights hit the nyloned legs of lovely Julia Casson on that old Connecticut highway, trouble moved right in on him—and stayed there.

Gunmen, straight coppers and crooked coppers, luscious bedtime lovelies and the fabulous mystery of the Task Force dagger deaths…Bogard cracks his way through it all to the most breathless showdown ever.

Read an Excerpt

Order a copy from eharlequin

At the beginning of 2009, Harlequin sent each if its authors a calendar with these old covers featured every month. It's a collector's item, no doubt.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Her Colorado Man in Stores Now

Cheryl St.John
Harlequin Historical
Dec 2009
ISBN: 9780373295715(#971)

When eighteen-year-old Mariah found herself pregnant and unmarried in her small Colorado town, she disappeared. One year later, she returned with a baby—though minus the "husband" who had conveniently ventured off to Alaska's gold fields to seek his fortune….

But now, with handsome adventurer Wes Burrows turning up and claiming to be the husband she had invented, Mariah's lies become flesh and blood—and her wildest dreams a reality!


Check your local bookstore, Walmart, Kmart or order from amazon:

Monday, September 21, 2009

Harlequin's Special Vintage Releases: No Nice Girl

No Nice Girl
Perry Lindsay
Harlequin Special Releases
Oct 2009
Miniseries: Vintage Collection

For a limited time, six of Harlequin's earliest publications are back in print after 60 years! These collector's editions are beautifully packaged featuring original covers, text and red-tinted pages for that retro feel.

When a thoroughly "nice" girl is clever as well, let her less strongly armed sisters beware.

Phyllis Gordon was completely honest and very intelligent. Terry McLean was her first and only lover, and he really loved her. But Phyllis cared too much for him to marry him until she had rid herself of her unrequited passion for her millionaire employer, Kenyon Rutledge. Kenyon's fiancée, Letty Lawrence, was also well equipped with beauty and brains, and she had money besides.

Yet the arrival in town of Phyllis's little country cousin, Anice Mayhew, spelled danger for both Phyllis and Letty. For Anice was dewy-eyed, supersweet and diabolically innocent.

Read an Excerpt

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Saturday, September 19, 2009

Whitefeather's Woman by Deborah Hale

Special Release
Whitefeather's Woman
Deborah Hale
Montana Mavericks
October 2009
9780373310609 (#38)

This is a reissue, so if you missed it the first time, here's your chance to get a copy!

Jane Harris, on the run from life back East, hoped only to survive. Still, everything in this breathtaking territory was overwhelming—including John Whitefeather, a blue-eyed Cheyenne leader who'd awakened her to womanly desire.

John Whitefeather knew what it was like to be an outsider. That was why he was so drawn to Jane. But this shy violet was blossoming into a passionflower with roots deep in Montana soil, and maybe deeper still in his lonely heart….

Read an Excerpt

Order from eharlequin

Friday, September 18, 2009

Flea Market Finds


Every year I make the trek to a small town where a huge rummage sale is held at the fairgrounds. The barns are bursting with everything from dishes and knick knacks to tools and applicances. I spend most of my time (and money) in the linen barn, going through enourmous bins of napkins and tablecloths, embroidered dishtowels and crocheted potholders. All of the proceeds benefit a small nearby hospital.

Here are a few of my treasures from yesterday.

This kind of counts as photo Friday, too, doesn't it? I displayed them with a lace tablecloth and took a few shots, but then when I simply sat them aside and later the sun came through the back door to my kitchen table, this was what I got.

Photo Friday

Thursday, September 17, 2009

My New Cover!

CLICK OVER to Petticoats and Pistols and be one of the first to see the cover of my December Harlequin Historical, HER COLORADO MAN!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Time Magazine on Romance Novels

Caption is derogatory, but the article is positive and encouraging

Harlequin CEO Donna Hayes credits the recession with having lifted the company's profits. READ THE ENTIRE ARTICLE

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Morning in My Garden

Sunday at the Pumpkin Patch

Lonestar State Cheesecake

*lizzie starr made this Lonestar State Cheesecake for a birthday party last Friday. I've made a lot of cheesecakes - it happens to be a family favorite and also two of my grandkids ask for them for their birthdays every year - and this is one of the best cheesecakes I've ever eaten. It's lightweight and not overly rich, but creamy and super-delicious.

*lizzie got the recipe on the Food Network website.
Recipe adapted from Christina Common Tuchsen by Sunny Anderson, 2008

Prep Time: 20 min
Inactive Prep Time: 2 hr 0 min
Cook Time: 1 hr 30 min
Level: Easy
Serves: 8 to 10

You'll need a 9-inch springform pan

2 cups cinnamon graham cracker crumbs
6 to 8 tablespoons butter, melted
4 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
1 1/4 cups sugar, plus
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 tablespoons lemon juice
4 eggs, beaten
2 cups sour cream
1 pint blueberries
1 pint strawberries, sliced

Heat oven to 325 degrees F.
In a food processor blend crumbs and melted butter until moist, but not wet.
Press into the bottom and up the sides of the springform pan.
In a large bowl, using an electric beater, combine the cream cheese, 1 cup sugar, 1 teaspoon vanilla and the lemon juice, until light and smooth.

Slowly mix in eggs then pour into the prepared pan.
Bake 55 minutes or until the center sets.
Turn off oven and remove cake.
In a medium bowl mix together sour cream, 1/4 cup sugar and vanilla.
Spread this over the top of the cheesecake and return to the warm oven for 30 minutes.

Remove then let cool to room temperature before removing springform.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl toss together blueberries and sliced strawberries with remaining sugar.

To serve: slice cheesecake into wedges and garnish with fruit.

Read more about *lizzie starr.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Blond Brownies

Why anyone would prefer brownies with no chocolate, I have no idea :-) but this recipe came from a 1979 Woman's Day Magazine that my cousin Diana shared with me. These bars have been a big hit, and if you're not a chocolate fan, you might be in love.

3/4 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup butter or margarine
1 cup packed light-brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup chopped nuts

Mix flour, baking powder and salt; set aside.
Melt butter; remove from heat.
Stir in sugar and mis well.
Beat in egg and valilla.
Stir in flour musture, then nuts.

Spread in greased 8x8x2 inch pan.
Bake in preheated 350 degree oven 25 minutes.
Cool and cut.

Remember to visit my recipe archives and use the search feature to find yummy desserts and quick meals.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

First Day of School - Brady and Jacob

These are Edna's adorable grandkids. Thanks so much for sending photos, Edna. I just love these first day of school pics. Will have to dig out some of my kids one of these days.

Brady is in first grade and Jacob is in preschool.

The Good Wife - What will you watch this fall?

I love Julianna Margulies (nurse Carol Hathaway from ER) This show will airs on Tuesdays at 10PM/9 Central on CBS - Premieres Sept. 22

The previews showed mucho drama. Don't think it can replace Dirty Sexy Money in my heart, but I'll give it a shot. Will you watch?

When a very public sex and political corruption scandal lands her husband in jail, housewife Alicia Florrick must get past the humiliation and betrayal and assume responsibility for her family. She resumes her career as a defense attorney by taking a junior associate's post at a prestigious Chicago law firm, where an old friend from law school is now a partner. As she competes to win the only full-time associate's position, she sheds her persona as the embarrassed wife of a politician and takes charge of her own destiny.

The Monkees - what they're really singing

I stole this from Rebecca Ryan because it had me in stitches. I LOVE the Monkees, you know.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

First Day of Preschool

Couldn't resist snagging this pic. My friend, CoolestMommie's youngest is off to preschool this year. Is Rebekah adoarable or what?

If you have first day of school photos to send me, I'll post them!

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Meet PD, a lady killer for sure

PD is my friend Bernadette's latest heart throb. Is he adorable or what? He's part poodle and part shih-tzu.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Margaret Moore: Plotting The Romance: the Basics

In a romance novel, the romance, or the developing of a committed relationship, is the primary plot. In other words, it’s about the emotional journey of the characters from strangers or friends/enemies to lovers and to a committed partnership.

All other elements of the story -- suspense, mystery, opening a restaurant, for instance -- are secondary. Their primary function is to provide situations for the romance to develop. In other words, the activity of the story is the catalyst/conduit for the developing relationship.

In terms of plotting basics:

Act I:

In a romance, the “inciting incident” is not necessarily the first thing that happens. The inciting incident of a romance novel is “the meet” -- the first time the hero and heroine confront each other in your story.

Several other things should also happen in Act I:

1. Set the stage. Where and when is the story taking place?

2. Introduce the hero and heroine.

3. The meet -- how, when, and why do the hero and heroine meet? What are their first impressions of each other?

4. Introduction of the conflicts (internal and external) that are going to work against the relationship.

In the first act, the internal conflicts don’t have to be, and indeed shouldn’t be, described in great detail. They should be indicated/hinted at/implied. The details, and especially the motivations of the characters, should be revealed more in the middle, to keep it from “sagging.” Tell too much in the beginning, you’ve got nothing left for the middle.

Act II:

In a romance, this is where the relationship develops and intensifies. This is, usually, where the characters fall in love (unless you’re doing a love-at-first-sight story).

The characters learn more about each other -- what makes each other “tick,” their issues and their history. They discover the explanations for the other’s “problem” and gain sympathy, empathy and understanding. This is where trust develops.

This is also, but not always, where the relationship becomes more physically intimate -- first touch, first kiss, first time they make love. If the relationship is already physical, this is still where the emotional development of the relationship takes place.

Act III:
In a romance, the crisis that precipitates the ending of the novel should also threaten the survival of the romantic relationship between the hero and heroine. It can be physical or it can be internal (hearing something that shakes the heroine’s faith in the hero, for instance).

This is also known as “the black moment” in a romance -- when the romance seems hopelessly doomed and there can’t be a happy ending for this couple.

At the climax, both the internal and external plots -- the romance and the rest of the story -- come together. The danger is overcome and survived; the problems are solved; the necessary confessions are made; love is shown/proven/revealed.

The successful resolution of both the external and internal conflicts create the satisfying ending. However, the denouement of a romance must also tie up any loose ends (i.e. ensure that the subplots have also concluded satisfactorily), and, most importantly, must also leave the reader convinced that this couple is in a long-term, committed relationship.


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USA Today bestselling author and past president of Toronto Romance Writers, Margaret Moore has written over forty historical romance novels and novellas for Harlequin, Avon and HarperCollins Childrens Books. Her latest novel, THE VISCOUNT’S KISS Harlequin Historical, August 2009, features a naturalist who loves spiders and a woman who loathes them. Visit Margaret at www.margaretmoore.com

This article appeared in the September 2009 issue of romANTICS, the newsletter of the Toronto Romance Writers, Susan Haire, editor. It may be reused by RWA chapters with appropriate credit to the author and chapter.