Southwest Florida Reading Festival

Published March 18, 2017 by francesothomas

logo-small

 

I just got home from the Southwest Florida Reading Festival, an event held each March in Fort Myers. When I attend, I always make a point to go to hear any romance writers who are featured. This year’s panel included Cassandra King, Susan Wiggs, and Lori Wilde.  I’ve read and reviewed Wiggs and Wilde, but King was new to me. After hearing her speak, I intend to remedy that situation.

The three women took turns introducing themselves and then answered questions from the audience. King and Wilde grew up on farms. Wiggs was born in upstate New York but grew up in various places in Europe. All three said they were from families where reading was important. King and Wiggs became teachers when told they needed to have something besides writing to earn a living. Wilde became a nurse, a profession she professes to dread ever having to go back to.

King has written five novels but also nonfiction. Wiggs’ first novel was published in March 1987. Wilde has written more than 80 books. Asked the typical question of where ideas come from, King related how she modified  her original premise for Moonrise after she rented a house to do research in the area in which the story is set. Alone in the rather spooky house, she began to read Du Maurier’s Rebecca, and the story developed from that. Wiggs wrote Family Tree during the last year of her father’s life, inspired by his unfailing optimism. Wilde wrote Christmas at Twilight when she was coming to grips with mental health issues within her family and overcoming her own need to fix everything.

None of the three does a complete outline before beginning to write although they all know the general story arc. Wilde said her characters used to keep her awake at night until she learned to give them boundaries. Wiggs motivates herself to write by rewarding herself with an M&M for each page. She writes in longhand first and then goes back later and types her manuscript. King stressed that writers must uphold their contracts and meet deadlines. Publishers don’t buy the excuse of artistic temperament.

None of the women have much say over the covers on their books. Wiggs just saw for the first time the cover of her next book to be released in August. King once had a different cover put on the paperback edition of her book than had been on the hardback. Wilde said covers are a crap shoot. What may appeal to the author might not be a cover that will sell the book.

Asked about agents, Wiggs said she’s had the same agent for decades. Wilde is on her third agent. King said her first agent didn’t do much for her. She advised authors to publish anything they can, anywhere they can to increase the possibility that an agent might find them.

I’m so grateful that this event is held every year. The authors’ back stories  are fascinating.

 

 

 

 

 

The Runaway Queen book review

Published March 14, 2017 by francesothomas

 

runaway

This book took me back to the days when I devoured Harlequin romances. The components are all there: brooding hero; spunky blonde who just happens to be a future queen, Greek scenery. If you are having one of those days when you wish a dark, handsome man on a horse would whisk you away from it all, this one’s for you. Short and “sweet.”

 

Romancing Dr. Love book review

Published March 7, 2017 by francesothomas

romancingdrlove

What an interesting premise this book has. Dr. Samantha Love has been subjected her whole life to the conjectures that come with being the daughter of renowned sex therapists. To prove she’s not loose, she has gone too far in the opposite direction. Her one experience at romance has solidified her disbelief in the whole concept.

Dr. Ethan Quinn has been burned before too, but he had the benefit of parents who truly loved each other. He can tell Samantha is the one for him even before he takes her compatibility blood test.

I liked the setting of a small. southern college, where everyone knows everyone’s business. It’s a perfect place for Samantha to connect with what is really important in life. She’s a believable character, but I found Ethan too good to be true.

About the book:

Dr. Samantha Love says it’s all about the chemistry. A brainy psychology professor and researcher, Sam has based her entire academic career on the theory that what we call love is simply a chemical reaction. She is currently running a study to prove that her compatibility blood test reveals perfect matches—sort of like an organ donor, but for relationships. No romance required.

Along comes sexy literature professor, Dr. Ethan Quinn, who says it’s all about the romance. He thinks the pretty psychology professor has taken love and all its mysteries and reduced it to something as romantic as a cholesterol test, and he sets out to prove her theory wrong.

When Ethan signs up for her study, Sam discovers to her horror, that according to her compatibility test, they are a perfect match. Sam faces an existential crisis over her career and her research. If she believes in her science, shouldn’t it follow that she believes Ethan is her perfect mate? And if she doesn’t believe he’s her perfect mate, doesn’t that bring into question her research? Her compatibility test? Her reputation? And her very career?

As Sam struggles with her dilemma, Ethan pursues her with all the romantic tactics in his arsenal. Will Sam’s theories succumb to his challenge? Or will Ethan lose the battle for Sam’s heart?

Buy Links:   Amazon | iTunes | Kobo

Rafflecopter Giveaway ($10.00 Amazon eGift Card)

WEBSITE | FACEBOOK | TWITTER | GOODREADS

Rebecca Heflin is an award-winning author who has dreamed of writing romantic fiction since she was fifteen and her older sister snuck a copy of Kathleen Woodiwiss’ Shanna to her and told her to read it. Rebecca writes women’s fiction and contemporary romance. When not passionately pursuing her dream, Rebecca is busy with her day-job as a practicing attorney.

Rebecca is a member of Romance Writers of America (RWA), Florida Romance Writers, RWA Contemporary Romance, and Florida Writers Association. She and her mountain-climbing husband live at sea level in sunny Florida.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Loving Vivienne book review

Published February 26, 2017 by francesothomas

loving-vivienne

 

This book is Book Six of Christina George’s Publicist Series. While she included enough explanatory material to make it viable on a stand alone basis, I was left wishing I’d read the earlier books. The plot revolved around a lot of past history and  resultant grudges, and that required a bit of reading between the lines to fill in the blanks.

Vivienne has written a hugely successful book that has just been turned into a movie (we authors should all be so lucky). On a vacation to Costa Rica, she meets Daniel, a very heroic hero indeed. He’s there helping out at a local orphanage although he is an intern back in New York City. That part struck me as far-fetched. I don’t believe interns can just pick up and fly off to Costa Rica no matter how noble their mission.

The book really demonstrates how family dynamics can get in the way of love if you let them. Don’t you let them.

Crushes

Published February 10, 2017 by francesothomas

sinatra.jpg

Back when my mother was a bobby-soxer, she swooned over Frank Sinatra. For me, a child of the sixties, it was the Beatles, George Harrison in particular. For my younger sister, it was Donny Osmond.

On this weekend before Valentine’s Day, I find myself pondering these teenage crushes. I never got any closer to George than a row on the upper level of what was then the Civic Arena in Pittsburgh. Had I ever met him, I’m certain I would have been completely paralyzed by fear.

It’s a different world than it was then. The young ladies seem so much more mature. Do they still idolize pop stars? My guess is it’s the preteen girls now, not the teens, who keep up the tradition.

What is the attraction? The dreamy eyes, the toothpaste smile, or just the safety of distance?

In the comments, tell me about your teen crush.

 

 

sinatra.jpg

Gloria’s Song book review

Published January 23, 2017 by francesothomas

 

gloria

Kathryn Albright’s Gloria’s Song was such a lovely book.  Well-heeled Gloria has a dilemma. She is expected to wed a rich man who can give her anything in the world except the thing that means the most to her, music.  As a musician myself, I could easily relate to how empty such a life without music would be for Gloria. I also could perfectly understand her powerful attraction to Colin, the hard-working young man from the wrong side of the tracks who is hired to tutor her for an audition that has the potential to make her dreams come true.

Albright humanized Gloria by showing her initial dismay when she realized that, despite her training, she had less innate musicality than did self-taught Colin. That observation is quite realistic. Some lucky souls are blessed in that way. That Gloria did not let jealousy consume her speaks to her character.

How difficult it must have been for young women in the time period in which this book is set to buck the conventions of their time. Following one’s passion’ however, is never out of date.

 

 

 

 

Lady Claire Is All That review

Published December 27, 2016 by francesothomas

LADY-CLAIRE-IS-ALL-THAT.jpg

Lady Claire Is All That  is the third book in Maya Rodale’s Keeping Up with the Cavendishes series. Both titles, while catchy, are rather modern for the time period in which they are set. Come to think of it, the heroines are also too modern for their own good, so I suppose the titles do fit.

This book belongs to eldest sister Claire who is going around the ton boring people to tears because she only wants to talk about mathematics. Lord Fox is as brawny as Claire is brainy. He’s just been jilted and enters into a bet that he can turn Claire into the belle of the season just to show he’s still got it. The more time he spends with her, of course, the more he discovers he likes her just fine as she is, equations and all.

I’m a sucker for heroines who are very smart and heroes who are smart enough to see the beauty beyond their spectacles. Rodale paints a recognizable portrait of a family too. The Cavendishes may squabble among themselves on occasion, but they always have each other’s backs.

Not deep, but lots of fun to read.