Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Titles for Sweet Summer Reading


     Now that summer is in full swing, I'm kicking up my reading activity. This month I finished The Truth in Tiramisu by author Rachael Bloome and How to Walk Away by Katherine Center. They were both delightfully romantic, feel-goody books. 
     In case you're on the lookout for something new to read, here's a curated collection of 20+ romances, all priced $2.99 and under. This SWEET SUMMER DAYS book list are all clean and/or Christian titles by some of my favorite authors. Check it out when you get a chance!
     I've was just featured on author Melissa McClone's blog today for being one of the participating Authors with Heart for her mission to gift tote bags filled with books to three Seattle-area, not-for-profit facilities. I love reaching out to people with books. There's even a giveaway with this spotlight feature. Who couldn't use an Amazon or Starbucks gift card? You can check it out here.

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Sweet Romance is in the Air: New Release Alert


As I track daily counts and pour over Pinterest for inspiration, I've been busy working on Book #2 for the Blueberry Point Romance series (due out in October). Juggling writing, promoting and publishing is something I struggle with so my planner is getting a workout lately. The bombardment of news doesn't help; I've had to limit what I read and watch while making sure the information I see comes from credible news sources. Creativity in tumultuous times really takes a beating but is so necessary. To all you creative types: keep doing what you're doing as hard as it is. The world needs your art! 

In bookish news: LOVE, LIES and LAVENDER has been out since May 8th and reviewers have left some glowing reviews including this one on Amazon: 


'Hilary is a widow and Dane is a broken-hearted man, yet their easy, casual, and gradual relationship brings as much solace to the soul as a bowl of bubbling tomato soup with a hot and melty grilled cheese sandwich to dip in it. This is the type of small town, heartwarming, Hallmarky romance that speaks to the heart and makes me feel like there's not a care in the world.'

Love it!

Also, if you haven't yet immersed yourself in the Blueberry Point Romance series, why not start with the novella, LOVE, LIES and FIREFLIES? It's only $0.99 on Amazon at the moment. 

And if you're looking for a new romance series with multiple books to binge-read, check out the boxed sets in this promotion going on until June 16th. Some of them are sweet reads, including the Hearts in Hendricks series (so no blush-inducing scenes in other words). 

Happy reading!



Monday, May 11, 2020

Love, Lies and Lavender: New Sweet Romance Series Releases with Book #1


Today is the official release day for LOVE, LIES and LAVENDER, the first book my the Blueberry Point Romance series! Find your perfect reading spot, grab your go-to beverage, and settle in to read this sweet, small-town romance about second chances.

What's it about? Here's the blurb from Amazon:


Widow Hilary Larkin knows one thing: spending a week at an idyllic lakeshore inn in the Minnesota Northwoods is the last place she wants to be. But she can hardly tell her late husband's sister "no" when the woman pays for her cross-country trip to a small farms conference so Hilary can learn how to be an innkeeper, a dream she shared with Will before his accident. Now the thought of renovating the dilapidated house adjacent to Larkin Farms⏤and fulfilling her husband's wish⏤is just dragging her down. And it certainly doesn't help that her sister-in-law cancelled plans to join Hilary after a family crisis forces her to stay behind.
Along comes Dane Porter, lavender farmer and guest speaker at the conference, and talk soon turns to more than just farming. Even though he locked up his heart after his ex-wife betrayed him, he's drawn to the beautiful and complicated Hilary. But the ring on her finger sets a boundary he would never cross.
Falling head over boots for Hilary, Dane still worries putting his trust in another woman could lead to heartbreak. And Hilary has her own shadows from the past, ones her meddling sister-in-law might use to ruin Hilary's chance of finding love again.
Will two people from different worlds overcome their pain for the perfect second chance?

"This is one of those stories that has a little something for everyone, and the writing was truly phenomenal. I loved Hilary and Dane's budding romance, I loved the setting, I enjoyed the tough themes that are tackled throughout, and I can't wait for a second visit to the gorgeous Blueberry Point Inn." - review from Goodreads. 

LOVE, LIES and LAVENDER is available on Amazon and is in Kindle Unlimited. https://www.amazon.com/dp/B087MY85V9

Thursday, May 7, 2020

Sneak Peek of Love, Lies and Lavender

It's five days and counting until the official release of Love, Lies and Lavender, the first book in my new Blueberry Point Romance series. If you're familiar with the Hearts in Hendricks series, you'll recognize two characters from the first book in that series. They've bought Blueberry Point Lodge and have opened it to guests. Hilary and Dane are among the first to visit, both attendees to a small farms conference taking place at the inn.

From Amazon:

Widow Hilary Larkin must fulfill her late husband's dream of opening a bed-and-breakfast adjacent to an old orchard. The small farms conference in the Minnesota Northwoods is supposed to be the boost to make it possible. But her fear of change turns to high anxiety when her sister-in-law misses the plane for their trip together after a family crisis.
Along comes Dane Porter, lavender farmer and guest speaker at the conference, and talk soon turns to more than just farming. Even though he locked up his heart after his ex-wife betrayed him, he's drawn to the beautiful and complicated Hilary. But the ring on her finger sets a boundary he would never cross.
Falling head over boots for Hilary, Dane still worries putting his trust in another woman could lead to heartbreak. And Hilary has her own shadows from the past, ones her meddling sister-in-law might use to ruin Hilary's chance of finding love again.
Will two people from different worlds overcome their pain for the perfect second chance?




Read on for Chapter 1:


The ground seemed to sway underneath Hilary Larkin’s feet as she stepped through the gate in Duluth International Airport. She made her way to the main corridor, setting her sights on the Welcome to Minnesota! kiosk ahead. The flight had been awful. Flying was the worst on a good day. 
Tugging her suitcase beside her, Hilary took a deep breath and immediately regretted it. The smell of diesel and fried foods from Big Jim’s BBQ across the way wasn’t the best combination for her already nauseous stomach. While she tried to get her bearings, the other passengers from her flight dispersed in all directions like a disturbed anthill. 
Her phone dinged. She took it out of her pocket. The screen lit up with a message from her sister-in-law Jorie. 
Missed the flight. I’ll send an update later. Sorry.
Hilary shook her head. Running late was such a Jorie thing, but it wasn’t her fault this time. Jorie’s father—Hilary’s father-in-law—came down with pneumonia last week and was hospitalized two days ago, tossing all plans in the air. Cal Larkin’s health took precedence over some conference. Hilary would make the best of it and cross her fingers Jorie could catch another flight as soon as possible. 
She checked the overhead sign once again and headed down the long corridor. The flight had been on time despite the rough start. She had fifteen minutes to find her suitcase before the pick-up time listed on her itinerary. As she walked, her lightheadedness faded. She concentrated on the click of her boots on the tile floor and grumbled to herself about her dislike for airports. Ahead, the corridor intersected with the baggage claim area. She stopped to scan yet another overhead sign, this time noting the carousel numbers, until she found the one connected with her flight. 
She set her shoulder bag at her feet and stuck her hands in her coat pockets to wait. A few dozen people were already there.
“Are you here for the farm conference?”
She’d been so busy stewing about being here alone, especially since Jorie signed her up for this, that she didn’t sense anyone nearby.
Hilary turned. The young woman who’d sat across the aisle from her on the flight from Grand Forks stood there. Her upbeat voice and friendly face were contagious. Hilary smiled back. 
“Yes. First time in Minnesota too.” How did the woman know she was here for the conference? Then it dawned on her. Larkin Farms was embroidered across the back of her jacket. 
“Where are you from?” the woman asked.
Hilary cleared her throat. “A town not too far from Boise called Redville.” Her voice cracked. She hadn’t done much talking since boarding the flight at six that morning. 
“I grew up in the northern part of Minnesota but live in North Dakota now,” the woman said.
Hilary nodded. She wasn’t very good at the chitchat. 
They stood in silence for a few minutes, watching the cavernous mouth with the black strips of rubber part as suitcases rolled toward them on the belt. Hilary watched for the blue length of satin ribbon she’d tied to her suitcase handle.
“Here’s mine.” The woman stopped the bag on the belt before heaving it over the edge and onto the floor. “I’ll wait for you.”
Relief eased the anxious knot in her stomach. Hilary wouldn’t have to wander through this strange airport alone, looking for the contact person. 
“I’m Meg, by the way. Meg Willson.”
“Hilary Larkin. Nice to meet you.” Now that they faced one another, Hilary recognized the pin Meg wore on the lapel of her blazer right away. The white-and-gold ear of corn on a red background. The Gold Standard Seed decal. Her husband had sold their products. Hilary swallowed hard and looked away.
Meg went on. “My family raises sheep and a small herd of alpacas. My mother is a fiber artist. And Mom found out there’s a fiber artist at the conference too, so she’s over the moon about that.” Meg looked around. “She’s here somewhere. Must still be in the restroom.” She shrugged and leaned on the handle of her suitcase. “Anyway, we hosted a holiday open house in our refurbished barn. Huge turnout last November at the start of the Christmas season. So that got us thinking about expanding. You know, giving classes on spinning, weaving, hosting artist groups. Stuff like that.”
Hilary exhaled through her nose. While thankful for Meg’s company, she could do with a little less conversation. Her bag finally appeared on the belt, the blue ribbon a beacon of relief. She stepped forward to claim it, lugging its weight onto the floor. It landed with a thud.
Meg looked down at the suitcase. She giggled. “I have a tendency to overpack too. It’s a security thing. You know, bringing those familiar comforts to offset the stress of being somewhere new.”
The woman was trying to be helpful, but Hilary didn’t need the reminder that home was fifteen-hundred miles away. Her hand clutching the suitcase handle was moist. Jorie owed her big. 
Meg waved to someone across the room. “There’s my mom. You’ll have to meet her.”
Meg’s mother, Yandi, lumbered over a few seconds later, dragging a black orthopedic boot. She shook Hilary’s hand with a crushingly enthusiastic grip. The woman was taller than her already willowy daughter. Hilary flexed her hand at her side, feeling the bones settle back into their rightful places. 
“I think we need to make our way to the front entrance. We’re looking for someone with a ‘Small Farms Conference/BPL’ sign,” said Meg, looking at the paper she’d pulled from her coat pocket.
“What’s BPL?” asked Yandi.
“Blueberry Point Lodge. The place that’s hosting the conference,” Hilary offered. The only bright spot of this conference she looked forward to so far was staying in the historic lodge. The place boasted gourmet meals, premium mattresses, and a short walk off the back patio to Lake Superior. If she could pretend it was a vacation instead of work, she’d be set.
“Oh, that’s right. The insane hour I got up this morning finally caught up to me,” Yandi said, palming her forehead. She shooed them to get going. “Don’t let me hold you back. This bum foot isn’t going to slow me down too much.”
Hilary hung back while the two women talked about how clean the airport seemed and marveled at the golden croton plants in gigantic earthen pots. Hilary felt like a third wheel. The Invisible Woman. The Irritated, Invisible Woman, that was.
Stop feeling sorry for yourself. You could have turned Jorie down. It’s your own fault.
Following the signs, the three of them walked from baggage claim toward the front entrance. The wall of glass before them revealed a wide blue sky, a stark contrast to the dreary gray day Hilary left behind in Idaho. 
“Oh, I think I see our contact person,” said Yandi.
Meg waved. “Yep, that’s him.”
Hilary’s phone dinged again.
Earliest I can catch the next flight is Wednesday. Worst week already and it’s only Sunday. Ugh.
Her heart sank. That was half the conference. If she felt out of her element at signing up for a small farms conference before, this spelled doom for her morale. Her sister-in-law was Miss Owyhee County Ag Queen in high school. Born into the farm life, Jorie lived and breathed it. Hilary, on the other hand, was voted Most Likely to Live in a High Rise. This was Jorie’s thing, not hers. 
Hilary craned her neck to see over the two tall women in front of her to no avail and looked again at her phone to read the rest of Jorie’s message. But Meg stopped and her suitcase almost tripped Hilary. 
“I’m kind of dangerous with this thing. Sorry,” Meg said, swinging the suitcase to her side. She stepped aside for Hilary.
As Hilary struggled to correct the bag handle that caught on the shoulder flap of her jacket, she caught a glimpse of the man waiting for them with the BPL sign held against his chest. 
She slowed.
He looked so familiar. The mop of russet hair, tousled like he’d tumbled out of bed moments ago, threw her off. Yes, of course. The hair. Its color reminded her of Will’s, though it was a few shades lighter. She stared a little too hard for a little too long and the man did a double take, probably trying to gauge her. 
As much as she wanted to look away, she couldn’t bring herself to do it. His soulful eyes studied her and widened when she gave him a quick smile. The shadow of a not-quite beard trailed along his jaw, thicker in spots than others. Even from the distance, she noted his jeans were worn at the knees, yet his plaid shirt still held the yellow size sticker over his left pocket. She smiled again despite her sour mood. 
Another message from Jorie appeared.
Not sure it’s worth me coming if I’m missing half the conference.
Hilary sighed. What else could go wrong today? First, her no-show sister-in-law abandons her at a conference Hilary didn’t want to come to in the first place, and now Will’s doppelgänger was here to meet her in the terminal?
This was a fantastic start to her week away from home.

LOVE, LIES and LAVENDER officially releases Monday, May 11th. The first book in the Blueberry Point Romance series is the beginning of a whole new world set in Minnesota's Northwoods by sweet romance author D.E. Malone.




Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Release Day for LOVE, LIES and LAVENDER is 13 short days away, people! I can't wait to share Hilary and Dane's story with you, but for now here's the awesome cover designed by Blue Water Books. Isn't it prettyyy?

I hit another baking spurt over the weekend when buckets of rain dashed my plans to transplant my Hosta beds. It was cold and damp so what better time than to crank up the oven? Besides, I'd ordered a few things from Wayward Winds Lavender farm in Yamhill, Oregon and the Baker's Spice with lavender had been begging me to open and use some in a cookie recipe. The cookies were soft and airy, and the sweet icing counteracted the savoriness of the coriander and fennel in the spice. When I make this recipe next time, I think I'll try pure lavender. Here's the cookie recipe if you'd like to try it yourself.

LOVE, LIES and LAVENDER is available for PRE-ORDER now! Get it automatically delivered to your Kindle by May 11th.

Friday, March 27, 2020

Staying Connected During Strange Times

I never thought I'd say this but I miss the crowds.

Wal-Mart and grocery stores on weekends always get a pass from me. If I have to shop with the prospect of bumping elbows with someone, I'll gladly wait until Monday. But during these crazy days with COVID-19 taking hold in
every corner of the world, shopping in a busy supermarket isn't even an option. People are for the most part (thankfully) keeping their distance from others, holed up at home or at least standing far enough away that I've wondered if I forgot deodorant for a second or two when I've had to venture out.

But the new social distancing rules have brought forth so many unique, heartfelt ways of reaching out to others. I love seeing Little Free Libraries filled with food donations as well as books. Or the Heart Hunters group on Facebook⏤now 400k strong⏤for families as they do scavenger hunts for paper hearts in the windows of homes in their community. Restaurant owners offering free meals to people in need are stepping forward too. Amazing acts of kindness are all over the internet. It's a welcome respite from the divisive political cesspool that normally circulates through the media on an hourly basis.

Last week I asked my newsletter subscribers to let me know if they wanted a handmade card from me  as a little pick-me-up. Yes! came the hearty responses from some who wrote back. So I rounded up my watercolor paints, oil pastel crayons, scissors and scraps of foiled papers and other supplies left over from my mixed media art class last spring, and have spent my writing breaks making these cards. I probably would not have taken the time, especially in the middle of a book deadline, to make handmade cards. Instead, my calendar is clear (except for said book deadline!) so I've been busy sending these out to places like Jacksonville, Florida, Boston, and Layton, Utah.

Like I said, I miss crowds.

But even world pandemics can't keep people apart.


Sunday, January 5, 2020

New Year, New Authors to Read

I'm starting the new year in planning mode as I try a new method for tracking productivity. After taking Sarra Cannon's HeartBreathings course on planning/organizing, I'm ready to try something new. The first week didn't count. New Year's was midweek, then my family took an extended weekend trip. This coming week will be the true test. I'll let you know how it works after I have a month under my belt. 
In other book news, tomorrow is the last day to take advantage of this promotion which highlights dozens of clean romance books. Short stories, novellas, and full-length novels are available for free to new subscribers of the respective author's newsletter. It's a pretty sweet offer. I've snagged a few myself. 

What I'm reading now: Another New Year's Eve by Carrie Ann Hope
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