Monday, April 30, 2012

SPRING IN THE DESERT By Kathryne Kennedy

Although we really don’t see a change of seasons much here in the Arizona desert, we do have an abundance of wild flowers, and cacti do flower in the spring. So I’m happy to be able to share these photos I took at our Desert Botanical Gardens. I have included some cacti that are just beautiful in shape, although they aren't flowering. The tall stalk is the bloom of a century plant, which is only supposed to bloom every one hundred years, but I've seen it bloom much more often. The plants that look like rocks are actually named that, and are native to Africa but thrive here in our own desert. I hope you enjoy!

As Always,
Wishing you my Magical Best,

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Chronicles of Spring

by Cheryl Brooks

Contrary to Punxsutawney Phil's prediction, spring came early to Indiana this year. I can't complain too much because I'm ready for the snowdrops to bloom as soon as the Christmas tree comes down--and this year, that's pretty much what happened. I took this first picture toward the end of February, but these little charmers had already been in bloom for at least three weeks even then.

I posted this picture of my first daffodil on my blog on March 1st--much earlier than usual!

And then, after all that lovely warm weather, it snowed. When I let Peaches and Bugsy out that morning, they were looking around like, "What the hell happened?" and I'm sure they weren't the only ones who felt that way.

And then spring returned with temperatures that had the tulip magnolias blooming and people wearing shorts.

By mid March, the weeping cherry was in full bloom. Every year my neighbor Janet comes over to bask in the spiritual glow of this tree, which normally doesn't bloom until April. I think she was a little surprised when I called her.

More daffodils followed, and the grass got so tall while my lawnmower was in the shop, I considered cutting it for hay to feed my horses.

The Virginia bluebells bloomed next,

followed by the lilacs, which are very sensitive to frost, but burst into bloom like there was no chance that winter would return for another year.

But while I was in Chicago for the RT Booklover's Convention meeting with authors, readers, librarians, and handsome hunks, it happened. Winter hit the area with a series of frosts that severely nipped the tulip poplars, and my little magnolia which had blossomed so bravely was reduced to a mass of spotty, wilted leaves.

However, the clematis, which is growing near the foundation of the house, remained strong and was in full bloom by the time I came home.

And then a little something landed in my inbox to further brighten my spring. The cover of Wildcat, which is slated for a February 2013 release, arrived, and I fell in love with the hero of that book all over again.

I'm not sure if I'm supposed to post it yet, but I feel the need to share, particularly since the colors match my rhododendrons!

A few days ago, my husband called me on the way home from work to report an astonishingly intense rainbow. I rushed out with the camera to snap a picture, but it wasn't quite as bright from my location. However, it matched the way I've been feeling lately--like that pot of gold is out there somewhere, anxious to be discovered.

My family and I will be going to Ireland in a few weeks, which is our way of celebrating Mother's Day, my DH's birthday, and our thirty-third wedding anniversary all at once. Perhaps I'll find that pot of gold while I'm visiting the Emerald Isle, but something tells me it's waiting for me right in my own back yard.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

The Language of Flowers by Shana Galen

In the Regency period, where I set my books, flowers were more than simply pretty. Each and every flower had a meaning.

Want to express love? Try carrying carnations--red for pure love or pink meaning, I will always remember you. Or perhaps the love is new. Then you want to give lilacs, which symbolize the first emotions of love. Tulips indicate a declaration of love. Red roses, of course, are the ultimate symbols of love. Violets indicate faithful love.

From whence did this tradition originate? Turkish harems, believe it or not. In 1718, the wife of the ambassador to Constantinople decoded the messages used in the harems and introduced them to England. It wasn't until 1809 that the first book on the subject was published, and after Queen Victoria ascended to the throne, she spread the tradition around the country.

Lest you think this tradition has completely died out, consider that Kate Middleton specifically chose flowers for her wedding celebration to convey particular meanings. Her bouquet contained Lily-of-the-valley (return of happiness), Sweet William (gallantry), blue hyacinth (constancy), ivy (fidelity), and myrtle (emblem of marriage and love). Kate's sprig of myrtle started from a nosegay given to Queen Victoria by Prince Albert's grandmother.
Wonder what your favorite flower means? Here are a few of the most popular.
Red roses--love
Poppy (white)--sleep
Poppy (red)--consolation
Tulips (red)--declaration of love
Tulips (yellow)--hopeless love

After reading about the language of flowers, I wish I'd known more about it when choosing my wedding bouquet. Have you ever chosen flowers specifically for their meaning?

Friday, April 27, 2012

Gardening in Wyoming

by Joanne Kennedy

We Westerners like a challenge--but gardening in Wyoming might be too much of one for me.

It's dry here, and the growing season is short. Every year spring seems to come earlier. My bulbs come up, my daffodils bloom, and then wham! We get slammed with snow. Last year we got ten inches on May 25th.

At least I've learned not to run out and buy bedding plants at the first sign of spring. It only took me a few years of tragedy to realize that you absolutely can't plant anything until the end of May. It's really tempting to break that rule when the skies are blue, the temperature is a balmy 75, and robins are frolicking in the back yard, but I've learned to resist temptation.

You also have to resist the temptation to buy many of the plants that catch your eye at the garden center. Anything that needs moisture or humidity is out, and since the temperature can vary by forty degrees in a single day, you need fairly hardy varieties. Delicate plants don't make it either; they tend to get flattened by the wind.

And if your flowers survive the dryness, the variations in temperature, and the wind, they're liable to get shredded by hail sometime in midsummer. Almost every year, we have a major hailstorm, often with chunks of ice the size of golf balls falling from the sky. Last year, the hail totaled my car, so you can imagine what the garden looked like!

So why do I live here? Well, when it's good, it's really good. Because of the dryness, our summer heat isn't sticky or humid, and it doesn't rain much. The fluctuations in temperature mean that if we just wait out a cold spell, we'll be back to blue skies in no time. And the wind's great for cleaning out your car. Just face Nebraska, open the doors on both sides, and let the wind do the work!

Once you've lived here a while, you learn what works. I have a gorgeous patch of poppies in the back yard that seem to be able to withstand any weather. Shasta daisies do well, too, and mums.

And when we do succeed in growing something, we sure appreciate it!

What challenges do you face in your gardening efforts? Are there particular plants that work well in your area despite the difficulties?

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Discover a New Love!

by Deb Werksman
Editorial Manager,
Sourcebooks Casablanca

We've started an exciting new venture:

Discover a New Love is an online readers club, featuring DRM-free ebooks. Members join for 6 months, and every month they get a choice among 4 featured selections for download. They also get a hefty discount on any other books they want to buy from the site.

Our whole purpose is to make it easier for readers to discover authors they've never read before. We've been hearing over and over how difficult it is to know what's good with so many books out there now. How does a reader know she's going to get a book that's any good? We're taking the guesswork out, and also providing ways for reader to connect with the authors they love.

We launched about 2 weeks ago, and we've already had thousands of visitors from all over the world. 2/3 of the books are available all over the world, and we're really excited to be cultivating an international audience that we know is hungry for English language books, and romances in particular.

The amazing Barbara Vey is going to host events weekly for members (we call her our "Ambassador of Awesomeness"). If you don't already know Barbara, check out her PW blog, Beyond Her Book.

Discover a New Love is meant for the whole community, whether people join as members or not. There will be tons of blogs, cover votes, title votes, eye candy, contests, promotions, and best of all—a lot of really good romances and other fiction to choose from.

No DRM means you get to own the books—you can put them on all of your devices.

We’re talking to other publishers about participating with us, so the book selection will continue to grow and evolve.

Take a look and let us know what you think:

And of course you know I’m acquiring new titles and new authors all the time, so please send me your submissions:

I’m looking for single title romance about 90,000 words, paranormal romance, historical romance, romantic suspense, contemporary and erotic romance. Complete guidelines are on or you can always email me with your questions.

Keep in mind I’m looking for:
*a heroine the reader can relate to
*a hero she can fall in love with
*a world gets created that the reader can escape into
*a hook I can sell with in 2-3 sentences
*the author has a career arc—in other words, if readers love that first book, what will come next and next after that?

Thank you! I can’t wait to hear from you, and discover you, and for you to discover us!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Spring in the city

*I'm having trouble with blogger and can only post text here. It's a shame, because I had some beautiful pictures. I managed to post everything (including the pictures) on my own blog. I'll continue my struggle to post them here, but I'll give you the link to my personal blog in case I fail and hope this issue shakes out soon. ******************** Signs of spring bring to mind beautiful meadows with wildflowers, baby wildlife, and kids able to shed their coats and kick a ball outside again. Now that I live in NH, that's the spring I know. But back when I lived in Boston and Spring arrived, even with warmer weather the awakening seemed less evident--maybe because the city never really experienced the quiet sleep of winter. It takes until late May or June, but eventually the city blooms. The public gardens are a joy to walk again. The swan boats come out of storage. Flower boxes overflow with beautiful color. But the major change is with people. All winter, people hurried with their heads down to get where they needed to go. Spring encourages a slower step. A smile. Maybe even a nod or hello. My series for Sourcebooks is set in Boston. The upcoming spin-off series is still in Boston only a few blocks away on Beacon Hill. Today I want to share with you a walk I took last Spring. It was early June, and I can't think of a better time to visit. *

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Rain Rain Go Away...?

We here in the mid-Atlantic region were not living the traditional "April showers bring May flowers" thing. It's been kinda dry.

Well, it's no longer dry and my grass seems to have sprung up overnight (as grass and children are wont to do).

It started raining Saturday night (when Stephanie Julian and I were driving home (NY to PA) from a Book Obsessed Chicks gathering/signing) and it hasn't stopped since.

Bad stuff has been raining down, too, unfortunately, but I won't talk about that. Though some prayers for 2 of my extended family members wouldn't be remiss.

But good writing stuff has been raining down, too. I finally got the cover for my August release, Magic Gone Wild. Isn't it pretty?

This is my blurb for the book. marketing is still working on the official one:

Zane Harrison opens an old trunk in the attic of his family’s ancestral home to find Vana. The genie. A famously inept genie as it turns out—which explains so much about why his great-great-grandfather was rumored to have been crazy. 

Vana never quite finished her genie training and, sadly, more than one master has suffered because of it, including her last master (this new one's great-great-grandfather). But Vana's determined to set to rights what she'd made wrong and no one is going to stop her. 

Even her new master. 

AND... I have finally been able to show Beauty and The Best, my American Title and & Schuster First Chapters contest finagling story, the light of day.

Can she cook up a recipe for love?  

Jolie Gardener, personal chef by day, aspiring romance writer by night, likes to talk and does it a lot.  She has to because if she stops, all the pain, disillusionment, and abandonment of her AWOL mother, question-mark father, and foster-care childhood will rise up like a chocolate soufflĂ© on steroids, sweeping away the fragile infrastructure of her life. 
But she's fine. 
Really. She is. 
Or so she thinks.   

Todd Best isn't fine. He knows it. And doesn't care. After his wife died—the woman who believed in him when he was a struggling artist—he put painting aside, moved from their home, and lost himself in the minutiae of daily life. 
Alone. Private. The way he likes it. 
The last thing he needs is some chatty cook seeping into the perfectly bland canvas of his life. 
Or so he thinks. 

So when Jonathan, a guardian-angel-in-training, turns himself into a kitten to help these two lonely souls find a happily ever after together, it ought to be a piece of cake. 
Or so he thinks... 

This story has been with me for 7 years. It's undergone several incarnations and a professional editing job, and I'm so thrilled to have it "out there." So I'm liking the rain. Now, if only the bad stuff would head down the sewer...

Hows the weather in your world? Metaphorical weather or real...

Monday, April 23, 2012

Flowers and Wolves Go Together! Really! by Terry Spear

The Crepe Myrtles in full bloom in my front yard!

I couldn't resist sharing Duncan MacNeill, the new cover for A Howl for a Highlander, fierce Highland warrior who has a mission--take back the money that belongs to the clan. Only he gets a whole lot distracted by one sassy she-wolf when he arrives on the Grand Cayman Island, who's got his number. Will he be trouble? That's all she wonders, and yes, only maybe she causes more than he ever could! :) Feb 2013 Release!

Wolf smelling the wildflowers of spring.

Thistles grow wild out here, bringing a little of Scotland home.

Wolf pup in spring and lovely wildflowers framing her.

More wildflowers.

Giant sunflowers that pop up year after year with a backdrop of the cornfield that's jungle high. My dad planted the seeds years and years ago and remind me of him every year.

She's either planning to shift with the alpha male, or already turned back into her human form. Not sure. Which do you think?

I planted the daffodils, but the poodle is my mother's, which reminds me of her as kind of a memorial when the flowers surround the poodle. We raised toy, miniature, and I ended up with standards even!

More summer wildflowers growing around at the edge of the cornfield.

A wolf from his high perch, enjoying his woodland solitude.

But most of all, spring reminds me of rebirth, rejuvenation, the beginning of life all over again. Red wolf checking on her pups in a woodland setting.

You might have noticed I have as many wildflowers as I have planted flowers. I wanted to share my everblooming roses but figured the post would be way too long. So next time!

Hope you all did something special for Earth Day. I planted more jasmine which smells of...fragrant jasmine...and has purple and white flowers.

Have a super Monday!!!

"Giving new meaning to the term alpha male where fantasy IS reality!"

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Goodbye Flower Garden

by Olivia Cunning

I love flower gardening. Each winter, I long for the first spring flowers to emerge from the ground and display their brave blooms. There was a time, not so long ago, that I would spend entire weekends planting, tending, weeding, mulching and watering all my pretty little flowers. This is what my garden looked like in the spring. These are photos I took of my garden flowers around five years ago.

It was so wonderful to see such gorgeous blooms after a long, harsh winter in The Plains.

This is the same garden in the summer. Lilies thrive in this climate, much to my delight.

Obviously, I love spring flowers and lilies. Some of my lilies grew shoulder-high and they smelled heavenly.

Due to my increasingly busy life and lack of commitment to weeding and fertilizing and watering, my flower garden slowly deteriorated. Each year there were more weeds and fewer flowers. I kept telling myself that next year I'd get my weed jungle under control. That next year I'd take the time to water plants and fertilize them. Maybe I'd even stop to smell the lilies once in a while. The white ones are especially aromatic.

It never happened. Instead of things slowing down, life continues to speed up. So last autumn when I had my driveway redone, I had them dig out my entire lily garden with their Bobcat. My garden which once gave me such joy is gone. All gone. Now instead of a weed patch with a few lilies making me feel guilty, I have patchy grass with a few weeds making me feel guilty. Eventually, I'll have lush grass. If I ever take the time to water and fertilize it.

Is plant neglect a crime?

Maybe someday life will slow down and I will return to gardening, but until then I'll have to be content with neglecting my houseplants. The neighbors don't have to look at those.

Happy Spring!