Monday, February 27, 2017

Seasoned Romance Giveaway


Today, I have a fun surprise to share with you.

I’ve teamed up with 30 fantastic seasoned contemporary romance authors (with books featuring characters over 40), to give away a huge collection of novels, PLUS a Kindle Fire, to one lucky winner! 

That winner will get the ebook version of my novel, SECOND CHANCES, plus ebooks from authors like Karen Booth, Maggie Wells, and Susan Haught.



Enter the giveaway before the deadline, by clicking here: bit.ly/seasoned-rom

Please note: Although my story is sweet, 
the romances in the giveaway have a varied range of heat levels. 


Good luck, and enjoy!

Magdalena

Friday, February 24, 2017

#SweetRomance #FridayReads Guest: Raine English


Preorder: FROM NOW ON by Raine English

Step into the world of the South with the Magnolias and Moonshine series. Twenty New York Times, USA Today, and Amazon bestselling authors joined together to bring you a taste of Southern charm. A new novella will be released daily beginning April 10th through April 30th. Raine’s contribution to the series is FROM NOW ON.

Who says love’s sweeter the second time around?

When Whitney Adams discovers her first love is back in Atlanta, she can’t help but wonder if they might have a second chance at love. But after she learns there’s more to his kisses than wanting to rekindle their romance, she isn’t about to let her heart rule.

Cash Galloway has never forgotten his high school sweetheart, so when he might have another chance with her, he’s elated. However, his happiness is short lived once he discovers his new dream job involves acquiring Atlanta Belles—Whitney’s popular salon and spa. Will Cash lose the perfect woman a second time, or will love prevail?

Preorder FROM NOW ON today at the following retailers for just $0.99 and have it delivered to your ereader on April 24th.


~*~


USA Today bestselling author Raine English writes sweet small-town contemporary romance, along with paranormal and romantic suspense. She’s a Daphne du Maurier Award winner and a Golden Heart finalist. To receive information on all her new releases, you can sign up for her newsletter, visit her website, like her on Facebook, and follow her on Twitter.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

6 Ways to Unplug

This is the second in a series of posts I am writing, inspired by Brian Gardner's No Sidebar post, "50 Simple Things You Need to Hear."


I've certainly found this to be true. The problem is, I keep "discovering" how important it can be, to my regular life, and to my writing life. I need to really learn this lesson, and build on getting better at it. Sheesh!

Last March I spent a week in Tucson, staying with friends. 


My plan was to get up early, watch the sunrise, write, 
and then do fun stuff with my friends the rest of the day. 

Instead, I went to bed early and slept late every single day. It was the most restful, relaxing, rejuvenating trip I've ever taken. Wifi was available, but I didn't use it much. I also didn't make any progress on the story at hand, The Ring. Evidently I was at the edge of exhaustion--and from what? I have designed a simple life. The only thing I can imagine that had me so worn out was hours of being online. 


Cell phone addiction? Got it. 
Spending too much time checking stats on Amazon? Been there. 
Sucked into the facebook, instagram, or twitter feeds? Oh yeah.


Because I'm very easily distracted--Squirrel!--I've often failed to accomplish the work I want to do, or fully enjoy the fun things that come along. So I chose Mindfulness as my word for 2017. (You can read about OneWord 365 here.)

Being mindful is a big challenge for me. My brain seems to have a constant need to think about everything at the same time. It's chaos up there. This is exhausting (especially when it happens at night) and unproductive.

Below are some things that work for me. Your mileage may vary--and if you have suggestions, please leave them in the comments.

1-Writing a first draft in longhand

I recently decided to try this, and love having my first cup of coffee along with my first 1,000 words of the day. I turn on just one small light, next to the recliner. This feels cozy and indulgent, and yet it's productive. The words are flowing very well, and even though my handwriting stinks, I'm able to decipher it.



2-Leaving the phone out of reach, and silent

Leaving my phone on the other side of the room when I'm writing, and almost always having sounds turned off except for emergency notifications, both help. But if I'm out and about, waiting somewhere for even a few seconds, my habit is to pull out the phone to check what other people are doing somewhere else, instead of noticing what's going on around me. I'm trying to make the conscious effort to leave the phone in my purse and just notice the people nearby, or the blue sky. I don't want to be so addicted to this expensive electronic tether. Still struggling.

3-Taking a long walk

Walking outside is better for mindfulness, because I don't listen to music, or an audiobook. I notice the curve of the path, watch actual squirrels, hear the children playing, and am conscious of traffic. (A good thing, because some of those drivers aren't into taking a break from their phones.) When weather doesn't allow an outdoor walk, I use my stepper, and plug into a podcast about the publishing industry, or listen to an audiobook. I walk an hour or so a day, usually six days a week.

4-Meditating

For years, I had thought about trying meditation, and with all that's happening in our world, the beginning of 2017 seemed the perfect time. I'm doing ten minutes after my walk, and ten minutes right before bed. It's not magic, but I find it helpful. I consider meditation to be an investment in my health. I use the Headspace app.

5-Limiting online time

Since I write first, have a healthy breakfast, take a long walk, meditate, and then shower, I don't even touch my laptop until much later in the day than I used to. Before, it was coffee and laptop each morning, and even if I intended to add to a story's word count, I often drifted online, checking weather, facebook, twitter, favorite blogs, etc. 


6-Not watching TV

I haven't watched TV for fifteen years. I have a couple dozen DVDs that I can watch on my "old" laptop, and I can view movies on my Kindle Fire. But most of the time, if I have a free evening at home, I'd rather read. The TV is gone now--given away, leaving space for my writing reference books. I get my news online, and intentionally limit this very strictly. 


Do you have thoughts to share on the topic of unplugging? I'd enjoy hearing them!

Magdalena

Friday, February 17, 2017

Donna Fasano and WILD HEARTS OF SUMMER

My friend Donna Fasano has a new contemporary romance novel coming out next week. I think it sounds great!


WILD HEARTS OF SUMMER, Ocean City Boardwalk Series, Book 3
Now Available for Preorder!
Cathy Whitley’s two best friends, Sara and Heather, may have found the men of their dreams… and that’s all well and good for them. But that’s not going to happen to Cathy. She allowed love to catch her off-guard once and it drained her dry, emotionally and financially. She’ll never let it happen again. Ever.

Brad Henderson has been chasing Cathy for years. He’s settled for their on-again-off-again, “friends with bennies” relationship for far longer than he expected. Attempting to swim through the rip currents surrounding her heart has left him swimming in circles.

Then Brad inherits a business worth millions from billionaire Harold Hopewell.Hopewell had traveled the world and was touched by the stories of the people he met. In death, Hopewell is giving back, leaving an unusual will filled with life-altering bequests. Brad can’t believe his stroke of luck. Now Cathy will surely see him in a new light. Right?

One way or the other, it’s time to draw a line in the sand…

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

New Release: Finding Joy by Melanie D. Snitker


Sometimes, what looks like a dead end, is really a new beginning.
A horrific accident changed everything for Parker Wilson. Unable to find solid footing in his disrupted life, he returns to his family's ranch, a place he thought he'd left behind for good. The scars on his face are a daily reminder of all he's lost, yet his mom still insists he needs to stop hiding and live his life again. The beautiful new employee she hires is the last thing he needs, despite his mom's best intentions, and he'll do whatever it takes to make the girl quit and regain the peace and quiet he prefers.

Nothing short of desperation would force Chelsea Blake to work on a local cattle ranch. But if she's going to avoid her parents' judgment when they arrive in three weeks, she must turn the temporary job into a permanent one. Between dodging mud, feeding longhorn cattle, and dealing with a handsome boss who keeps giving her the cold shoulder, staying gainfully employed is proving to be a challenge. Chelsea may not be cut out for ranch life, but her determination to succeed is stronger than Parker's efforts at forcing her to leave.

Unprepared to discover all they have in common, if they set aside their initial dislike, they just might find joy beyond measure.

Finding Joy is only $0.99
Now through February 19th


Check out the entire Love's Compass Series​ and experience the stories of faith, love, and family. 


About the Author:
Melanie D. Snitker has enjoyed writing for as long as she can remember. She started out writing episodes of cartoon shows that she wanted to see as a child and her love of writing grew from there. She and her husband live in Texas with their two children who keep their lives full of adventure, and two dogs who add a dash of mischief to the family dynamics. In her spare time, Melanie enjoys photography, reading, crochet, baking, archery, target shooting, learning about essential oils, and hanging out with family and friends.




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Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Minimalist in a Sea of More

I get occasional requests (both online and in person) from people who want to learn more about my minimalist journey, so I thought it might be fun to do a series. Today in my email inbox was the No Sidebar newsletter, with the Headline, "50 Simple Things You Need to Hear."

I really enjoyed reading the collection of 50 quotations, many of which I could relate to, and most of which were written by my favorite bloggers.

Yep, I get all fangirl about minimalists, not movie stars.

Francine Jay, Joshua Becker, Leo Babauta, Courtney Carver, Brian Gardner, and Joshua Fields Millburn are quoted in the article. I've started exploring the new-to-me names as well, including Alysa Bajenaru, whose quote is on the card below. Click the card to visit her website.

I thought perhaps this would be an interesting jumping-off point for a series. I'm sure I'll have more to say about some of the quotations than I will about others. Maybe you'll have questions or comments as we go along.

To avoid me getting confused, we'll talk about each quote in the order they are listed. So...number one:



Yes! This was me, too. I remember, probably in the mid 1980s, dragging my husband into one of those stores that sells containers. I have no doubt there are lots more stores that sell containers than existed then, and probably websites dedicated to providing the newest, coolest things to put your things into.

On the face of it, organization of possessions makes sense. But now I can see that it encouraged and enabled the storage of unneeded, and unwanted items. And I know it led to additional purchases; unnecessary expenditures of hard-earned money. When those "extras" are put into snazzy storage boxes, we might forget we already have one (or two, or three).

There's a reason the saying, Out of sight, out of mind exists. Because it's true. 

I've done it. I've even--gasp--done it after moving from a 3,000-ish square foot house into a 500-ish square foot studio apartment with a very, very pared-down collection of stuff. Minimalist Me bought a useful item without realizing that I owned something almost like it. Sigh. And of course enough time had passed that it was impossible to return the new thing for a refund.


But...back to the store full of empty boxes.

I think we eventually bought one thing. I've forgotten what it was, but I remember it looked cool and seemed just perfect for storing whatever was particularly on my mind that day. But you know what? In our 30 years of marriage, I never got a handle on organization and storage. There was simply too much to begin with, and it kept coming in. If I had purchased nifty storage containers for all of it, the cost would have been astronomical.

We had prior generations' belongings, and added our own. Maybe you already know that my husband died over a period of several years. When he had to go to an assisted living facility, because we couldn't take care of him at home, I was faced with a preview of my future as a widow.

Living alone. The day was coming. What would it look like? Staying in the big house made no sense, for a variety of reasons. So when I wasn't working full-time or visiting my husband, I began the project that had been building up for more years than I'd been alive.

Clearing out the house, for its next occupants.

I'm not sure how I managed to make what now seems like a million decisions, touching each item in that house filled with memories and memorabilia.

What will I keep? What gets donated? What do I intentionally re-home with a family member or close friend?

My son and his fiancee helped when they could, and chose things they wanted to keep. Others pitched in after the decisions were made. They cleaned items for auction, helped haul discards to the city truck parked in our backyard over a weekend so we could fill it with items for the landfill.

It was a massive undertaking, but necessary, 
if we were going to move forward after the inevitable happened.

I've been in the apartment now for nearly five years, and I won't lie to you. There are times I've wished I had kept something(s). I've wished the massive auction had brought in more money. But all in all, I think my son, daughter-in-law, and I did the right thing. I think we generally chose well.

Organizing didn't make my husband happy; he was fine with the status quo. It didn't make me happy, because the task was too big, and was impossible to finish.

When my husband was nearing death, 
there wasn't a single physical item he cared about. 
People, yes. Music, yes. 
Possessions, however, became meaningless to him. 

I think there's a lesson in that. The old saying about the winner being the person who dies with the most toys?

So. Very. Wrong.

Even if those toys are very neatly categorized and organized. 

I wrote a story in 2015 called Emily's Dreams. Only by letting go of the items that were holding her back, could Emily step into her future. 

I couldn't have written that story without living a version of it myself. And I wouldn't have written it, if I'd decided to keep the house. Do you know why? Because I would be working full-time at a job, in order to support the house. In my spare time, I would be trying to organize its contents.

I wouldn't be writing novels. I know this without a doubt, because I know my energy levels, and how exhausting the curation of belongings is. 

Minimalist living makes my writing life possible, gives me options, opens up opportunities.

If you have questions or comments about today's topic, please post them in the comments below.

Until next time,
Happy reading! --Magdalena




Friday, February 3, 2017

#SweetRomance #FridayReads Guest: Milou Koenings

My friend Milou Koenings, whom I met through Sweet Romance Reads, has a new book coming out on February 7th. I'm excited to have her here to share with you about it today!

~*~



I Love You Three, a Green Pines Romance

Genre: Sweet romance, clean and wholesome

About the book: A former Marine. A single mom. Two broken people.

Mac’s struggling to adjust to civilian life after the death in combat of his best friend. When a teaching job opens up in the small town where his friend used to work in the summers, Mac takes it as a sign and moves to Green Pines, hoping to find refuge from his demons.

For Julie, there’s no refuge from night feedings, a crazy mom, an ex-mother-in-law and an overdrawn bank account. She’s struggling to build a better life for herself and her baby and the only thing she knows is she’s not falling for any guy again.

There’s only one problem. You never know when love will knock you off your feet.

Excerpt

Julie squared her shoulders and looked both ways down the hall as she left the security of her office. It had been bad enough spending most days alone in the building, at the mercy of the unsettling fantasies about the new coach that she’d been enjoying for the past few weeks. She couldn’t seem to help it happening. Ever since the day he'd knocked her off that ladder, she’d had trouble concentrating whenever she was alone. It was really aggravating. She hadn’t behaved like this since junior high. And that had been before he moved to town.

That he was actually here, in the building, bothered her more than she wanted admit. She was grateful Mr. Kelley had given her advance warning that Mac would be coming in that morning, but she didn’t want to run into him more than she had to.

She heard the voices when she left the auditorium. Her stomach clenched as she recognized the sounds of the Gordon boys, and Cody Williams answering something in return. What now? She ventured down the hall, dreading the disaster she was going to discover. She hardly dared hope she might catch them before they'd wreaked their havoc. When she turned the corner, Julie stopped and blinked. It took her a moment to process what she was seeing. Surely she was dreaming.

The Gordons, Cody, and Jimmy Barker, too, she noticed, were wiping paint drops off the floor. The row of lockers behind them was gleaming with pristine, wet paint. Mac pointed toward the gym and send Cody back there with a bucket of rollers and brushes.

“Coach, how do I get this off? It dried already.” That was Mikey Gordon, his thin frame squatting and rubbing at the small strip of tile under a locker. Mac squatted next to him with a plastic bottle.

“Don’t breathe this in,” he warned, dabbing a bit of the spirits onto an old rag. “Here.”

Mike scrunched up his nose. “Man, that stinks.”

“Didn’t I just tell you not to breathe?” Mac grinned. Julie sniffed the cadaverous smell of wood turpentine wafting toward her and almost gagged. But she couldn’t help but smile at the way Mike scrubbed the tile, all the while glancing at Mac to make sure he was doing it right. It was sweet how the kid was already seeking his approval. Mac was good with him. Julie was impressed.

“Yeah, that’s right. You got it.” Mac closed the bottle. “I’m going to help the others clean the brushes. You finish up here and join us, okay?” Mikey nodded seriously. Mac stood up and caught Julie watching them. “Hey, look at this — didn’t these guys do a great job?” he swept his arm toward the lockers.

Julie didn’t like how all the air seemed to get squeezed out of her lungs when he looked at her. Or that agitated flutter in her stomach. She frowned, wiping her suddenly damp palms on her jeans, determined to fight the reaction. Unauthorized use of school resources, that’s what this was. School paint supplies. The principal should have signed off on this. And on his first day on the job, too. Weren’t military types supposed to be sticklers for rules and procedures? She would have pointed out all this, but then she remembered Mikey, still crouching nearby. She glanced at the kid’s hopeful face turned up to her and her frown melted away. She couldn’t remember when Mikey Gordon’s face hadn’t reflected dread at a coming punishment instead of hope. She couldn’t let her own discomfort ruin his moment. Julie smiled at the kid.

“Mikey, this is awesome. You guys did great job! The entire hallway looks so much better,” she said. Mikey’s whole demeanor lit up. He mumbled an embarrassed thank you, scooped up a drop cloth and headed into the gym to his comrades.

Julie, watching him walk away, could have sworn he looked taller than before. She glanced at Mac. Whatever he’d done, it was more than anyone else ever managed with those kids.

“That was a nice thing you did,” she said softly.

Mac raised an eyebrow and grinned. “A sentence of hard labor? Not sure they’d call it nice.”

Julie chuckled. “I’m not even going to ask what the sentence was for. I think it’s the first time I’ve ever since that bunch not being destructive.” She paused. “It isn’t really Mickey’s fault you know. He just tags along.”

“Yeah, I got that.”

Good. Maybe he was more perceptive than she might have thought. But hopefully only about kids. She didn’t need him turning that talent on her.

She turned back toward the other end of the hall. Mac stopped her.

“Was there something you wanted?” he asked.

She looked at him standing there, tattoos up his arms, paint-spattered shorts and a gray T-shirt that only highlighted how ripped he was, and forgot how to breathe. Her eyes trailed the swirl of inked words that snaked up his right bicep and slipped under the sleeve of his T-shirt. Semper Fidelis.

Always faithful? Oh, yeah, sure. Her jaw clenched. “No thanks. I just heard the kids’ voices and thought I’d better investigate.” She walked away and only let out her breath once she’d turned the corner.

Was there something she wanted? She sure wasn’t about to answer that.

Preorder:


Interview with Milou

1. Why did you write I Love You Three?
Because the characters pretty much insisted! As I was writing the first Green Pines Romance, Reclaiming Home, I found myself falling in love with Mac and Julie, a young couple who featured briefly in that story. I kept wondering how those two had met. Then I wrote another Green Pines Romance, and there they were again! So when I started hearing from readers how much they liked Julie and Mac as well, so I knew I had to write their story.

2. So this is part of a series?
It's the newest in my Green Pines Romance series, but chronologically, it happens before any of the others. If you want to read them in chronological order, it would be: I Love You Three, The Kampala Peppermint Twist, Reclaiming Home and Sweet Blizzard.

3. Was there any one person who was your inspiration for either of the main characters?
I'm not saying! What I will say is Julie's ex-mother-in-law is nothing like mine. I have an ex-mother-in-law, too, and she is still one of the most wonderful blessings in my life.

4. In this book, you deal with post-traumatic stress disorder. What made you tackle this subject?
I grew up in a war zone, falling asleep to the sound of gunfire almost every night. I survived a terrorist attack. So PTSD is something I deal with every day. And I'm surrounded by ex-military men. So to me, it's more like what took me so long to write about it?

5. When do you write? Is it easier to write in the morning or at night?  
I'm so busy with my family, I have to write any chance I get, no matter what time it is!

6. Where can we buy the book?
You can get it now on preorder at AmazoniBooks, Kobo, and Nook.




Author Bio

Milou Koenings is an award-winning USA Today bestselling author who writes romance because, like chocolate, stories with happy endings bring joy to the world and so make it a better place.

Website www.miloukoenings.com
Twitter https://twitter.com/MilouKoenings
Facebook https://www.facebook.com/MilouKoenings/
Pinterest https://www.pinterest.com/miloukoenings/ 
Goodreads https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7578772.Milou_Koenings
Amazon Author Page http://amzn.to/2jLQFgA
Newsletter http://bit.ly/2jlDIGG


I Love You Three releases on February 7, 2017