Happy Birthday Dalai Lama!

Today, the Dalai Lama celebrates his 82nd birthday. The recipient of numerous awards, among them the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989, he continues to inspire us with messages of non-violence and universal compassion.

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Here are ten of my favorite quotes from His Holiness…

Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.

Our prime purpose in this life is to help others. And if you can’t help them, at least don’t hurt them.

Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them, humanity cannot survive.

Remember that sometimes not getting what you want is a wonderful stroke of luck.

We can never obtain peace in the outer world until we make peace with ourselves.

In the practice of tolerance, one’s enemy is the best teacher.

Someone else’s action should not determine your response.

Happiness is not something ready-made. It comes from your own actions.

Anger or hatred is like a fisherman’s hook. It is very important for us to ensure that we are not caught by it.

I always say that people should not rush to change religions. There is real value in finding the spiritual resources you need in your home religion.


Celebrating 10 Canadian Inventions

On Saturday, July 1st, 2017, Canada will be 150 years old. In honour of this milestone birthday, I’ve created an infographic to celebrate the great inventions Canada has given the world.

Information Source: Guelph Mercury Tribune, June 27, 2017


On a Greek Culinary Journey

Gilda Greco, protagonist of Too Many Women in the Room, and I have a special fondness for Greek cuisine. We appreciate the simple and elegant flavors of foods and beverages that can be traced back to Ancient Greece.

Here are ten interesting milestones from Greek culinary history:

1. Feta cheese is said to be about 6,000 years old, making it one of the world’s oldest cheeses.

2. In Greece, cheesecakes were considered excellent sources of energy and served to athletes during the first Olympic Games in 776 B.C. Greek brides and grooms celebrated their nuptials with cheesecake.

Continue reading on Ryan Jo Summers’ blog.


10 Characteristics of a Scottish Romance

I’m happy to welcome Soul Mate author Madelyn Hill to the Power of 10 series. Today, Madelyn shares ten characteristics of a Scottish romance and her latest release, Highland Faith.

Here’s Madelyn!

Ahhh, Scotland! Just thinking of Scotland conjures up images of Highlanders, heather, and men in kilts. There seems to be a romanticism affiliated with Scotland that I’m sure if the people of Scotland laugh at our perception.

Here are the TOP 10 Characteristics of Scottish Romances:

1. A man in a kilt! Let’s face it, a kilt is a skirt and you have to have enough self-confidence to pull that off. A true Highlander has a certain swagger—cocksure stride when wearing a kilt. It lends to the romantic view of the story and we get a peek at those muscle-bound legs!

2. Sweeping Romance! While this rings true for other romances, the sweeping romance of a Scottish romance seems to be enhanced by setting and tragic history.

3. Setting! As I mentioned above, Scottish romances have a setting that can be a character in itself. Castles, Keeps, and the Highlands really set the scene and allow for wonderful description and adventures. The untamed landscape allows for many romantic encounters and daring rescues.

4. Romantic! A Scottish Moor or a mysterious castle can lend to the romance of the story. Add the sensual burr of a Scotsman and now we’re talking. A hero who is strong and loyal, but also has a soft heart and would do anything for those he loved.

5. Characters We Fall In Love With! I think everyone has become smitten with Sam Heughan as Jamie in Outlander. The loyalty, sensuality, and humor of his character has made their way into our hearts. Jamie is ready to protect those he loves or die trying. While the story can be intense, there are those humorous snippets or those sensual moments when he woos us out of our corsets!

6. Strong Heroines! A Scottish lass is strong, can wield a weapon, and gives the hero a run for his money. They are loyal, feisty, and ready to fight for what they believe in.

7. Politics! Scottish politics and their tragic history can be an alluring part of a story when used for motivation and conflict. A Scotsman or Scottish lass fighting against the English is a worthy hero indeed.

8. The Accent! Who doesn’t melt when they hear that Scottish burr whispering sweet nothings in your ear? There is just something so damn sexy about a Scottish accent that I wish Siri could be set on Scotsman!

9. The Highlands! I know I’ve mentioned setting a few times, but something as majestic as the Highlands should get a category of their own. Harsh, picturesque and filled with lochs, heather, Highlanders (obviously) the Highlands can be very romantic.

10. Mystery! There is much romanticism about Scotland, but how much is true? Think of Outlander and Braveheart, we have overlooked some of the veracity of these stories and embraced the romance of the characters. And with the Celtic and Druid history of the isle, there is much mystery to make romantic fodder for any novel.

Blurb

Huntress Lady Faith MacAlister seeks adventure. Her father’s dying pledge tethers her to Wild Thistle Keep, thwarting her desire to explore the world beyond the palisade. Solace is found while hunting and providing sustenance for her clan. When snatched from the safety of MacAlister lands by a rogue bent on securing a ransom, she finds the adventure of her life.

Disgraced Captain Graeme Ross travels the high seas in search of bounty to sell in order to secure lands seized by the Crown. He longs to regain his honor in his father’s eyes and continually risks his life on the high seas. Lacking enough funds, Graeme and his crew follow Lady Faith MacAlister as she hunts. Out of need and desire, he kidnaps her. The lady captivates him for the moment he laid eyes upon her. Bold and spirited, she fights him. When he negotiates a ransom, deception tears the burgeoning romance apart.

Now, Lady Faith and Captain Ross seek to settle those differences hindering their union, despite the stretch of land and sea—and angry Highlanders standing between them.

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Bio

Madelyn Hill has always loved the written word. From the time she could read and all through her school years, she’d sneak books into her textbooks during school. And she devoured books daily. At the age of 10 she proclaimed she wanted to be a writer. After being a “closet” writer for several years, she sent her manuscripts out there and is now published with Soul Mate Publishing. And she couldn’t be happier!

A resident of Western New York, she moved from one Rochester to another Rochester to be with the love of her life. They now have 3 children and keep busy cooking, watching their children’s sporting events, and of course reading!

Where to find Madelyn…

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Amazon Author Page | Pinterest


10 Interesting Historical Facts

I’m happy to welcome author Caroline Warfield. Today, Caroline shares ten interesting facts gleaned from her extensive historical research and her latest release, The Reluctant Wife.

Here’s Caroline!

Joanne, thank you for hosting me and for setting this interesting challenge. Everytime I write a book, I learn more than I bargained for. The Reluctant Wife was no exception. Here, in no particular order, are some of those things.

1. The word Khaki did not come into use until 1857, over twenty years after my story was set.

2. The East India Company instituted mail service overland through Egypt in 1835. It cut months off the previous service which involved sailing around Africa which took roughly six months. I couldn’t resist sending my characters that way: steamship to Suez, across the desert to Cairo, up river to Alexandria and steamshop to England.

3. Historically, various kingdoms in what is now India tended to be diverse. In some courts Moslem, Hindu, Protestant, and Catholic served side by side.

4. Honey was an excellent treatment for burns and other wounds.

5. By the 1830s the Company frowned on intermarraige and forms of fraternization tolerated earlier.

6. The Thugees’ favorite technique for assassination was to join a caravan and strangle victims in their sleep. They traveled in groups.

7. Richard Wellesley, 1st Marquess Wellesley, older brother to the Duke of Wellington, ordered Government House in Calcutta on a massive scale designed to reinforce a sense of British power (and not coincidentally, his own consequence).

8. William Withering published data about the use of foxglove to treat heart failure as early as 1785.

9. Adolphe Quetelet, noted that the August meteor shower emanated from the constellation Perseus in 1835. As a result we call the annual event The Perseids.

10. A duke might be the most powerful man in a shire, but the justice of the peace who had the power to turn someone over to the assizes for trial was likely someone else entirely.

Blurb

When all else fails, love succeeds…

Captain Fred Wheatly’s comfortable life on the fringes of Bengal comes crashing down around him when his mistress dies, leaving him with two children he never expected to have to raise. When he chooses justice over army regulations, he’s forced to resign his position, leaving him with no way to support his unexpected family. He’s already had enough failures in his life. The last thing he needs is an attractive, interfering woman bedeviling his steps, reminding him of his duties.

All widowed Clare Armbruster needs is her brother’s signature on a legal document to be free of her past. After a failed marriage, and still mourning the loss of a child, she’s had it up to her ears with the assumptions she doesn’t know how to take care of herself, that what she needs is a husband. She certainly doesn’t need a great lout of a captain who can’t figure out what to do with his daughters. If only the frightened little girls didn’t need her help so badly.

Clare has made mistakes in the past. Can she trust Fred now? Can she trust herself? Captain Wheatly isn’t ashamed of his aristocratic heritage, but he doesn’t need his family and they’ve certainly never needed him. But with no more military career and two half-caste daughters to support, Fred must turn once more—as a failure—to the family he let down so often in the past. Can two hearts rise above past failures to forge a future together?

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Giveaway

Thank you for joining the celebration. Tell us about your favorite story elements. Caroline will give a kindle copy of The Renegade Wife, Book 1 in the series, to one person who comments.

She is also sponsoring a grand prize in celebration of her release. Get it here

The prequel to this series, A Dangerous Nativity, is always **FREE**. You can get a copy here

Excerpt

The ballroom at Government House, Calcutta, 1835

Clare had stopped listening. A prickle of awareness drew her gaze to the entrance where another man entered. He stood well above average height, he radiated coiled strength, and her eyes found his auburn hair unerringly. Captain Wheatly had come. The rapid acceleration of her heart took her off guard. Why should I care that he’s here?

“Clare? The lieutenant asked you a question.”

Lieutenant? Clare blinked to clear her head, only to see Mrs. Davis’s icy glare turned on Captain Wheatly. “Is that your strange captain from the black neighborhood?” she demanded in a faux whisper.

The lieutenant’s avid curiosity added to Clare’s discomfort. “Is that Wheatly in a captain’s uniform? I thought they might demote him after the business with Cornell,” he volunteered.

Clare forced herself to turn to the lieutenant. “Cornell?” she asked to deflect Mrs. Davis’s questions.

“Collector at Dehrapur. Wheatly assaulted the man. Unprovoked, I heard,” the lieutenant answered.

She looked back, unable to stop herself. Merciful angels, he’s seen me. She watched the captain start toward them. At least Gleason could make introductions.

The lieutenant went on as though he had her full attention. “He was in line for promotion, the one that went to your brother instead. Philip posted over there right after it happened.”

Clare found it impossible to look away. The captain gave an ironic smile when he saw her watching. Mrs. Davis gave a sharp intake of breath when she realized Wheatly’s intent. “He’s coming here? Clare, I think I should warn you that a man who has been passed over as this one was—”

Before she could finish, Colonel Davis, who had been coming from the other direction, met the captain and greeted him with a smile. Clare couldn’t hear the words, but Captain Wheatly’s self-deprecating grin seemed to indicate at least a modicum of respect. The two men approached together.

“Captain Frederick Wheatly, may I present my wife, Mrs. Davis.” The captain bowed properly, and the colonel went on, “And our house guest, Miss Armbruster.”

This time the captain’s eyes held a distinct twinkle. “Miss Armbruster and I are acquainted. I met her when she visited her brother in Dehrapur.”

“Of course, of course! I should have remembered,” the colonel said jovially. He leaned toward Clare and winked. “He’s a catch, this one. Doesn’t like to boast of his connections, but earls and dukes lurk in his pedigree. His cousin stepped down from Under-Secretary for War and the Colonies just last year!”

Captain Wheatly looked discomfited by that revelation.

Gleason looked skeptical. “The Duke of Murnane?” he gasped.

Before anyone could answer, the small orchestra hired for the occasion began to play, and the captain cocked an eyebrow as if to ask a question.

“I think the captain wants a dance, Miss Armbruster. It’s your patriotic duty to see to the morale of the troops,” the colonel said coyly.

Captain Wheatly put out a gloved hand, and she put her equally gloved hand in his. Walking away from Gleason and the Davises, she admitted two things to herself. She was glad he came, and she planned to enjoy the dance.

Bio

Traveler, poet, librarian, technology manager—Caroline Warfield has been many things (even a nun), but above all she is a romantic. Having retired to the urban wilds of eastern Pennsylvania, she reckons she is on at least her third act, happily working in an office surrounded by windows while she lets her characters lead her to adventures in England and the far-flung corners of the British Empire. She nudges them to explore the riskiest territory of all, the human heart.

Caroline is a RONE award winner with five star reviews from Readers’ Favorite, Night Owl Reviews, and InD’Tale and an Amazon best-seller. She is also a member of the writers’ co-operative, the Bluestocking Belles. With partners she manages and regularly writes for both The Teatime Tattler and History Imagined.

Where to find Caroline..

Website | Amazon Author Page | Goodreads | Facebook | Twitter | Email


Top 10 Places to Travel

I’m happy to welcome author Vicki Batman. Today, Vicki will share her favorite cruise stops and a romantic short story from the anthology, Just You & Me.

Here’s Vicki!

I love to visit new places, especially on a cruise! No packing and repacking, someone cleans, someone cooks, someone takes you to nice places to visit.

I’d always wanted to go on a cruise and then my sister told me her hubby was taking her for a BIG birthday. I said I wished I could go. She called him up and he made the trip happen. Since, I’ve been addicted to this special way to travel.


1. Alaska – for the majesty of the mountains meeting the sea

2. Italy – duh, the food, and yes, there are great spots to see

3. Greece – sitting on a wall in Santorini on a glorious sunny day and people watching while having a gelato

4. Sardinia – swimming in the Mediterranean and good local food

5. Malta – their fireworks for our Fourth of July

6. Sicily – tomato everything

7. Gdansk – an absolutely charming Old Town and chocolate croissant

8. Stockholm – besides the ABBA Museum, Old Town and just walking around

9. Rhine River castle day – Castles here and there and everywhere. Sitting on the top deck and narration about the area while sipping a nice drink with snacks

10. Lucerne – one of the best towns ever. Surrounded by mountains, old town and shopping. Girl in a dress and heels riding a bike!

I’m fond of people watching and soaking in atmosphere. I don’t even do this enough at home!

Where do you like to travel?

I’m especially excited to share “Raving Beauty,” a romantic comedy short story from the Just You and Me boxed set:

Logline

A reluctant beauty contestant falls for the doctor treating her, only to discover the one she really loves has been right in front of her eyes the whole time.

Excerpt

“I can’t believe I let your loony brother, who’s tormented me all my life, talk me into this.” With my eye on the teenage competition, I tugged the leg opening of my swimsuit into place to better cover my hip. “Just because I did some modeling in college doesn’t make me a pageant diva. Back then, I was incredibly skinny, and clothes fit easily.”

“Daniel’s a rat. He took advantage of your third or was it your fourth margarita, Kelly?” Maggie Ackerman, my best friend and roommate, adjusted the scarlet satin sash draped across my body. Glittery stick-on letters spelled out Miss Yahoo! Ranch Steakhouse. “Hold still.”

With an old-fashioned teasing comb, she picked my brown hair into place at the crown of my head. The eerie suspicion I resembled a scary dame with Big Texas hair from the television show, Dallas, caused me to avoid looking in the mirror.

“Close your eyes.” She hit me with super freeze-it hairspray. “Now, that ain’t goin’ nowhere.”

My personal stylist needed to work on her aim, preferably with both of her eyes open. I spit-wiped the sticky spot on my right cheek. I hope nobody I know sees me like this.

“There.” The scrunch of her nose reflected how pleased she was with herself. “Feeling better?”

Like a slab of beef.

Pre-order Just You and Me

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | iBooks

Where to find Vicki…

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Author Central | Email


Top 10 “Behind-the-Scenes” Facts About Betting On Love in Vegas

I’m happy to welcome Soul Mate author Stacy Hoff. Today, Stacy shares ten behind-the-scene facts about her new release, Betting on Love in Vegas.

Here’s Stacy!

Here are my top ten “behind the scenes” facts for my latest release, BETTING ON LOVE IN VEGAS.

1. My husband and I traveled to Las Vegas twice during our marriage (in the “before kids” era). We strolled up and down the Strip in awe of the many hotels. Since we grew up in New York City, we’re used to gawking tourists. It was odd for us to have the tables turned; we were probably the biggest gawkers in Vegas.

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2. My husband and I ate at lots of hotels’ buffets. The feasts were heaven for our taste buds, but hell on our waistlines. We convinced ourselves that the weight we gained in Vegas would stay in Vegas. (Unfortunately, not the case.)

3. The Vegas Strip is an easy place to get around. There is a monorail system, plus buses and taxis. But the best way around is walking. Most of the hotels put on an elaborate street show, free to view. My favorite show was the Bellagio hotel’s “dancing” fountains. The water show was mesmerizing. I loved the fountains so much they appear multiple times in my story.

4. Of course, we wandered inside all the hotels, too. Walking through each hotel took us hours because there was so much to see. We saw everything from circuses (Circus Circus), to recreations of cities and countries (Caesar’s palace, New York New York, Paris, Monetcarlo), to pirate ships (Treasure Island). Being New Yorkers for most of our lives, New York New York hotel was our favorite.

5. BETTING ON LOVE IN VEGAS is my first go-around writing a book series from the very start. I decided on creating three stories, each being a stand-alone, yet connected by characters, industry (resort hotel construction), and soap-opera drama. The name of this new series is BUILDING LOVE.

6. The inspiration for my BUILDING LOVE series came from my childhood, watching the TV show “Dallas.” I hope people find my version of family secrets, lies, and scandals (with lots of steamy scenes) similarly addictive.

7. While the first two books of my BUILDING LOVE series are complete, book three is currently being written. It’s a fast writing pace to keep up. I don’t sleep much.

8. I chose a fun location for each of these stories. Book two (to be released October, 2017) takes place in the Caribbean. Book three takes place in Madrid, Spain. My trip to the Caribbean was about four years ago. My trip to Madrid just a few months ago.

9. I write best when I’ve actually visited the area I’m writing about. I’ve also been the to locations in my other books, such as the Everglades (DESIRE IN THE EVERGLADES, DESIRE series Book #1), Saratoga, New York (JOCKEYING FOR YOU), and Hartford, Connecticut (LAWFULLY YOURS).

10. The only place I have not personally visited is the Arctic Circle’s Gates of the Arctic National Park, in Alaska. For DESIRE IN THE ARCTIC (DESIRE series, Book #2), I binged watched Alaska realty TV shows, and visited New york City’s American Museum of Natural History to see taxidermy versions of the animals I needed for my story.

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Blurb

Catherine “Cat” Warner has problems. The profits from her inns are down. The pressure from her parents is up. Her love life is non-existent. But Cat did manage to get the attention of tough, powerful, gorgeous hotel magnate Ty Orland. Unfortunately, his interest in her is for all the wrong reasons. Instead of wanting Cat, this debonair CEO only wants her land—a parcel he desperately needs for his next big development deal. Too bad, it’s not for sale. A people pleaser by nature, Cat knows to stand strong. If she caves in to the demands of this sexy, alluring man, it will be her own neck on the line.

Ty Orland has a lot of things going for him. Success. Power. Respect. Unfortunately, he’s also got an old chip on his shoulder and a new financial nightmare. His development deal is going down in flames—and fast. His only way out is if Cat sells him her strategically located parcel. But romancing the land from her is not easy when love gets in the way. The woman is as beautiful as she is beguiling. And Ty no longer knows which prize is more valuable.

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Bio

stacey_cartoon_v2-2Stacy Hoff is a contemporary romance author, as well as an attorney. She has practiced law for over two decades, primarily handling contracts. Romance novels have always been her secret passion. She writes her romantic stories until the wee hours of the night. Stacy lives in New England with her husband and two boys.

Stacy’s full-length contemporary romance novels are: JOCKEYING FOR YOU, LAWFULLY YOURS, DESIRE IN THE EVERGLADES (DESIRE series #1), and DESIRE IN THE ARCTIC (DESIRE series #2). BETTING ON LOVE IN VEGAS (BUILDING LOVE series #1) will be released 3/22/17. Book #2 in the BUILDING LOVE series will be released October, 2017.

Where to find Stacy…

Amazon | Twitter | Author Website | Publisher Website