Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels

To Bloom or Not to Bloom, part 2

Back in January, we had some unseasonably warm weather in my part of the world. We had a lengthy thaw, and my tulip tree decided to put out some buds. Bad choice. The poor thing was set straight a few weeks later when things turned icy.

Fast forward to May. So the rule here is to wait to plant until after Mother’s Day. But the weather turned warm again two weeks before then, so I decided to chance it. Well, just like my tulip tree, that was a bad choice. I planted some veggies in a raised bed and then heard we were going to get a deep freeze. Not just a light frost, but a frigid blast. So I scrambled and put together a row cover with PVC pipes and greenhouse plastic. The freeze came and those plants… well the tomatoes and peppers didn’t fare well at all. They were done. So were some of the flowers I’d planted in my front bed. My husband, who’s from this part of the world, didn’t say “I told you so,” to his credit. Maybe he feared for his life.

But I’ve regrouped and replanted (after Mother’s Day, this time), and Spring has finally decided that it’s okay to appear, for which I’m thankful. After thirteen years of living here, I’m still not quite used to long winters, but I have come to appreciate Spring. Especially the tulips, in several colors, which come back year after year.

How about you? Any hard and fast rules about planting in your part of the world? Have you ever blown it, like I did?

Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels

To Bloom or Not to Bloom…

January is normally the heart of winter where I live. A time when the snow falls and when temperatures dip well below freezing. When I’m have to break the ice on my horses’ water buckets. And when, despite my heavy coat and gloves, I shiver…and shiver some more. But this year is different. Sure we’ve had a few cold days, but the temperatures are much warmer than usual.

Tulip tree with its buds

So much warmer that my crocuses are peeking some greenery above the soil, and my tulip tree has buds. Not just small buds, but big ones. Buds that are normally the precursors of flowers.

I’m kind of wondering what the rest of January and February are going to bring. Will we have the normal deep freeze of winter? Or is this a sign of things to come? I’m really hoping my tulip tree decides to hold on a little longer and keeps those blooms hidden!

What about you? If you’re in the northern hemisphere, are your temperatures warmer or cooler than normal? Anyone else out there with some confused plants? And/or confused  people?

Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels, The Writing Life

Hobbies!

I am curious about what you all do for fun. You know…the times when you do something just for you. Writing used to be that for me, until my first book was published, then it became a job. Don’t get me wrong, I still love writing, but I don’t see it as a hobby anymore–as that thing I do just for the fun of it.

Most of you know that I have horses, so they are definitely one of my hobbies and those guys are members of my family. Well, I’ve also hand-quilted for many years. It’s something I don’t do as often as I used to, but I love it. It’s relaxing and something I can do while sitting in front of the television. But about six months ago, someone made me this beautiful horse-and-boots-themed quilt because…well horses! And that quilt, made by a very accomplished seamstress, was (gasp) machine quilted.quilt gift

I remember studying quilts to see how tiny and even the maker’s stitches were. I’d always been kind of a quilt snob. And yet, this machine-quilted beauty had all kinds of fun and intricate stitching. All somehow accomplished on my friend’s sewing machine. That’s when I decided I had to try my hand at that. And there were actually classes on that very thing: machine quilting. I felt like I’d been living under a rock. So I took a class and visited my friend to watch her work and to pick her brain. Then I stitched up my first machine-quilted project–on my fifteen-year-old sewing machine. A very simple table runner that I gave as a gift to someone. quilt front

Well, I’m hooked. I love the speed, and I love trying to coax my machine to give me what I want. It’s kind of like my horses–it’s a partnership that brings immense satisfaction. And now I’m envisioning a new sewing machine in my future. One that is made with quilting in mind. It’s new and exciting…and it’s just plain fun. quilt back

How about you? What do you do for fun? It can be a hobby or something else. I really do want to know!

Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels

The Mysteries of Book Covers

Shuffling through my books the other day, I marveled at the way some of the covers are so different from each other, while others carry some of the same elements. I will admit that I know next to nothing about what goes into the making of a book cover, but I definitely have my favorites.

So it made me curious. What is it about a book cover that grabs your attention? Is it a hunky hero? A hero and heroine gazing into each other’s eyes? A fun and flirty image? Or do you  prefer teacups and doilies with nary a person in sight?

Anyway, I’m going to share a couple of my favorite book covers: one of my Harlequins and one of my indie published books (with special thanks to Fiona Lowe’s uber-talented son for his help with that one).  And then I’d like your input on what draws you to a cover!

First up is a book cover from all the way back in 2013. It’s one of the older style covers, but I truly love the image on it. The hero is just how I envisioned him and the cover reflects the title, to me. book cover 1

Next is one of my indie books. On this cover, I love the way the hero appears to be whispering something in the heroine’s ear. Maybe something naughty? Maybe something nice? book cover 2
So now it’s your turn. What do you like to see on a cover? What don’t you like to see? Or do you never judge a book by its cover? 🙂

Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels, Pets, The Writing Life

Beauty and the Beast (aka Winter)

Winter has finally hit where I live. Up until now, it just teased us with periodic glimpses of chilly temperatures, but last weekend it decided to show us what it was really made of. We got snow. And there’s more snow forecasted for this weekend. And while I do normally love that fluffy white stuff, there are some less-than-pleasant things that go along with it:

  • Grocery stores that are crowded with those stocking up for what will surely be the next Snowmageddon. And yes, I was there among them, so I’m just as guilty.
  • Black ice that turns roads and sidewalks into skating rinks (usually ending with me landing on my backside).
  • Scraping the snow off my windshield and shoveling the sidewalks.
  • Cold slushy puddles that seep through your shoes and chills you to the bone.

But then there are days when I peer outside and there is this breathtaking blanket of white draped across every surface. Days when I relish making those first footprints with my dog as I head out to the barn to feed my horses. Days when the air is still and crisp and icy cold as it fills my lungs. winter 4winter 3

We recently had one such morning. The night before, we’d driven home through patches of dense freezing fog, and I remarked to my husband that I thought we might have hoarfrost the next morning. (It’s one of my favorite sights.) And sure enough, when I woke up, our trees and fences looked like someone had showered them with silvery fairy dust. I just stood there and stared for the longest time. My picture doesn’t do it justice, so you’ll just have to take my word for it.winter 1

So yes, winter definitely has its beastlier moments, but then it turns right around and redeems itself, wrapping itself in a beautiful white cloak and making everything go still. At least for a few minutes. It’s what I love most about this season.

What about you? Are you a lover of all things winter? Or are you more suited to tropical realms where frost and snow are forever banished? I’d love to hear what you like best (or least) about this very chilly time of year. Those of you in the Southern Hemisphere, enjoy your sunny days now, because winter will soon be headed your way!

Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels

Special People

Special people. We all have them in our lives. Those folks who have influenced, loved and spent hours upon hours with us. For me, those people were my grandparents. While I didn’t live with them, they took on a valuable role during a time when my life was scary and chaotic. They spirited me away for an entire summer just as I was starting high school and changed my life in ways that…well, looking back, my life could have turned out differently if I’d not had that time with them. They taught me so much about how to care for myself and what “family” truly meant.

And when I grew up, got married and had children of my own, they loved those kids just as deeply as they’d loved me.grandparents 2

There was always a box of goodies at Christmas and we spent almost every Thanksgiving and many, many Christmases at their home. And they did simple things with my kids that meant so much at the time. My grandmother and my oldest daughter made Easter hats together. grandparents 3They didn’t have a pool, so my grandfather got out a blow-up dinghy and filled it with water so they could have fun. grandparents (2)My grandmother was a fussy, meticulous housekeeper, and that, at times, annoyed me. But she was also one of the most hospital people I knew.

Only now do I appreciate the sacrifices they made for me and their other grandchildren and great grandchildren. I hope that one day I can do for my own grandchildren what they did for me.

What about you? Was there a special person in your life? I would love to hear about him, her or them!

 

Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels, The Writing Life

It’s a Jungle (of corn) Out There!

Maybe you can weigh in on a debate my son and I have been having for the last month: soybeans or corn? When we moved to the country a little over a year ago, there were soybeans planted all around our house. We could see the neighbors’ homes in the distance and watch fireflies dance across the fields in late June and July. It was beautiful. Magical. Well, I didn’t realize it then, but farmers rotate their crops in our area, planting soybeans one year and corn the next.

It’s a corn year. And those stalks enclose us, leaving only the lane that leads to our house. Who knew that corn grew that tall? Knee high by the fourth of July, goes the saying. Well by July fourth it was well past my knee and was as tall as I am!

Here is where the debate comes in. I LOVE the corn. I feel like I’m sitting in the middle of my own private oasis with not another person for miles and miles. The fireflies still dance, but they’re in our yard now, and it’s not the thousands of twinkle lights like last year. But I love it. It’s beautiful and watching the corn form those ears that have gotten fatter and fatter has been fascinating. My son disagrees. He says it feels claustrophobic (even though we’re sitting on five acres), and he doesn’t like not being able to see past it. That reminded me of when we lived in Florida. We had a visitor from another state–a state where you could see for miles and miles. She said driving on the Florida interstate really bothered her…she felt claustrophobic (like my son) and said that having the trees on either side of her was BORING.

What? Boring? I couldn’t even fathom that.

Which made me wonder if there really are two distinct preferences: being able see outside of one’s own little spot, or the cozy sense of privacy that vegetation affords. So here is my informal piece of research. Soybeans or corn? Do you like feeling hemmed in on all sides by greenery? Or do you like wide open spaces where you can see the world around you?

I really want to know. And maybe next year (soybean year), I’ll be able to see the other side’s perspective.