Celebrating the Joy of Romance with RARM! + Giveaway!

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First off, happy Read a Romance Month! And thank you to Lorelei’s Lit Lair for including me (read all about Lorelei and the authors she loves here)! I remember the very first romance novels I read. I was staying at my older cousin’s house on Cape Cod, and though I was an avid reader, I had never read or seen a romance novel. I was only fourteen or so, and came across this huge paper bag full of romances in her room. I swear, I read thirty books that week. I was hooked from that instant, swept up into the worlds created by authors that I grew to love.

When I decided to start writing fiction, romance was my genre of choice. Because every time I picked up a small town contemporary or a Regency historical, I was hooked and swept back up into that wonderful rollercoaster of falling in love. I wanted to create books like that, too, so I started writing romance. My journey from dreamer to published author was rocky and tough, but now I’ve got more than 50 books published in 24 countries. My latest two, a novella in ASK ME WHY with Marie AskMe_Why_re_MarieForce, Virginia Kantra and Jodi Thomas, as well as a new indie series set on fictional Fortune’s Island, AND THEN FOREVER, are both out now.

The thing that surprised me most about writing romance wasn’t how joyous the stories made me (and how each novel reinforced my belief in true love), it was the readers who wrote to me about how happy one of my books had made them. To hear that a reader found joy in my words, or read one of my romantic comedies and it helped her get through a dark time, seriously touched my heart. That brought me a whole new kind of joy, and is truly the best part of being a writer.

So tell me, what romance novels have brought you joy? Is there one you remember reading that left you feeling lighthearted and happy? Does a romance novel do the same for you as it does for me—reinforce that belief that happily ever after is possible for all of us? Thank you for being part of Read a Romance Month, and for helping to celebrate the joy of these novels with me and tons of other talented authors!

Read on for more–and a giveaway!

Questions –

1 – Tell us about a moment in your life when you experienced sheer joy.

Womens Half 2I started running three years ago and it was seriously one of the hardest things I ever did. I never thought I’d run a mile, much less a 5k or a half marathon. But two years ago, I did just that—I crossed the finish line of my first half marathon, and it was seriously one of the happiest days of my life. It was such a big achievement, such a moment of joy, partly because I knew I was the one who made it all happen, all by myself. I crossed the finish line of my first triathlon this May and felt that same joy at the end. I know not every race will feel that way, but those moments are what make all the hard training days worth it!

2 – Tell us about a place that brings you joy, or is attached to a memory of joy.

The beach is my happy place. I could spend every single minute of every single day there. I truly love watching the sunsets, listening to the surf, catching some great local music in a bar on the beach. I am truly blessed to live only a few miles from Clearwater Beach, and to be able to go there several days a week. 11705167_10153018639903364_3992503168432131248_n

3 – Tell us about a sound that brings you joy (or a memory attached to sound — music, laughter, wind chimes… ?)

My children’s laughter. No matter how old they were, every time I heard them laugh, or heard them laugh together, that makes me feel joy. I also love the sound of a clock ringing in the hour. My late mother used to have all kinds of clocks—musical ones, grandfather ones, cuckoo clocks—and when I hear a clock chime, it reminds me of her.

4 – What recent book have you read that brought you joy. (Or a book you read in your life that brought you so much joy you’ve never forgotten it.) Why?

The Princess Bride. I love that book and love that movie. I’ve read the book a few times, watched the movie countless times. It’s just a fun, wonderful book, and so very well crafted. TPB pic

5 – And for fun, the joy of choice ;o) ~

Pick your Chris! Chris Hemsworth, Chris Pine, Chris Pratt, Chris Rock, Chris Evans or Christopher Plummer (circ. 1964 aka Capt. Von Trapp?) – trying for a little diversity! ;o)

Hmmm…that’s a tough one! I do like Chris Hemsworth—he’s got those amazing abs and an accent 😉

GIVEAWAY! To celebrate Read a Romance Month, I’m giving away one Kindle or Nook copy of AND THEN FOREVER to a lucky reader, who gets to visit Fortune’s Island in the first book in this new series! shirleyjump_AND_THEN_FOREVER_ebook_final

Recommendations – Please recommend at least another couple of authors.

Virginia Kantra—I love her books and want to be her when I grow up. She’s one of the few authors who makes me totally forget the world when I read her books, and creates such believable characters, I half expect to run into them in the grocery store! Look for her Dare Island novella in ASK ME WHY—another great Kantra read!

Kristin Hannah—if I want to cry and laugh, I pick up one of Kristin’s books. They’re always so emotional and heartfelt and just awesome.

Thank you for celebrating Read a Romance Month with me! And thank you to Lorelei’s Lit Lair for recommending me for this!

Marathon supportShirley
(a pic from before one of my races)

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Shirley Jump spends her days writing romance so she can avoid the towering stack of dirty dishes, eat copious amounts of chocolate and reward herself with trips to the mall. Look for her all-new novella in the anthology ASK ME WHY (with Marie Force, Virginia Kantra and Jodi Thomas), as well as Sweet and Savory Romance series, including the USA Today bestselling book, THE BRIDE WORE CHOCOLATE, on Amazon, and her Fortune’s Island series, starting with AND THEN FOREVER. Visit her website at www.ShirleyJump.com for author news and a booklist, and follow her on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/shirleyjump.author for giveaways and deep discussions about important things like chocolate and shoes.

Tips for Putting More SPRING in Your Step

I love this guest post from Samantha Hunter! I’m a runner, not so much a walker, but I think anything that gets you out and moving around is awesome!

Put More Spring in Your Step!

unexpectedtempationBy Samantha Hunter

We walk pretty much every day, and have since we got our first dog 12 years ago. Actually we walked before that, usually about three miles a day, and having a dog to walk with us just made sense. We have winter gear, rain gear, mud gear, and whatever it takes to get out for our two-plus miles a day, but it’s so much nicer to have the walking path dry and clear and not to have to worry about being run over by snowmobiles. I love walking on new Spring days when we’re likely to see more wildlife – definitely birds, but also turtles, frogs and rabbits, all emerging from the cold months to find food.

So the nicer weather in and of itself is good for making me want to walk more and longer –especially after some winter walks felt like… well, you can imagine. Our trail is not always groomed, so we slug through as much as a foot of snow, as long as it’s manageable for the dog, or we put on trackers to walk over ice and through ruts carved into slush and then frozen – that’s probably my least favorite walk.

But Spring is the season that begs for walking after being closed up all winter. If you don’t walk regularly, this is the time to think about getting out and doing it, before the summer heat, when it’s harder (but still a lovely time to walk). If you’re like us, and you have a dog, you know dogs love their exercise, so taking your dog out is the best possible way to make sure you walk every day. (I advise, if you don’t have one, get one – the best and most affectionate exercise machine you will ever have). J

You can check out sites like this one, The Walker’s Site (http://www.thewalkingsite.com/beginner.html), that will give you good advice and programs for starting to walk regularly. You could also read up, and a book I’ve always liked is Chi Walking (http://www.amazon.com/ChiWalking-Fitness-Walking-Lifelong-Health-ebook/dp/B002XQAAW2/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1395428904&sr=1-1&keywords=chi+walking+danny+dreyer), though I have to admit, I don’t “Fitness Walk.” We walk, in the dry weather, at a pace of about 3 mph, maybe faster on some days. Now and then we mix that with a little jogging. But you have to do what’s good for you. If you try to work too hard too fast, you are likely to give up. If you want to run eventually, start by walking – and work your way up to it.

Walking is a good option if running is too strenuous or causes injury to you. Running is better for losing weight as a targeted goal, but walking at a brisk pace (this is important – working up to at least a 15 minute mile) will offer similar health benefits without the chance of injury. But the way I see it, walking has a lot more benefits than health: you can think, have a conversation, or simply enjoy and observe your surroundings. You can walk to new areas of your city or try new paths.  You can take pictures and visit with other people on the path instead of running by them. I do suggest finding a safe place to walk, somewhere where you don’t have to worry about being hit by a car or that sort of thing, so you can enjoy your walk, and to do some kind of stretching before and after, as walking can leave your muscles tight.

And Spring is the perfect time to start a walking habit that I hope would see you through the rest of the year – I know I hate to miss my daily walk, and I try never to do so. 

Do you walk daily? Is it something you’d like to start?

Now’s the time! Don’t forget, also, to enter the giveaway! Lots of great prizes below!

Samantha

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Running Tutus and Girl Power

I watched the Boston Marathon today and totally felt #BostonStrong and so very proud of the city that still feels like home to me. I rooted for Shalene Flanagan the whole way and teared up when Meb was serenaded with the Star-Spangled Banner. (First American to win since 1983! Way to go strong, Boston!)

I’ve been on this running strong thing since I’ve been injured and not running (quad strain). And in light of the Self Magazine IDIOTIC article calling a tutu-wearing runner “lame”. It outraged me and runners around the world.

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My local running clubs are having “tutu” runs to show support for the profiled (and not lame) runner, who was battling cancer, had just had chemo and was running a freaking marathon (yeah, Self really screwed up). And so non-crafty me said “let’s make them.” It was super easy! The cheapest tulle we found was at Walmart and it worked better than the shiny stuff we bought at Michael’s (which was like glorified fishing nets). All instructions are here on this blog.

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It was a fun time with friends and a great way to support a cause and look cute at the same time. We all did little pirouette pictures afterwards, because we’re cool like that ;-). And if you ask me, all runners and especially runners in tutus and those battling injuries and health woes and evil terrorists are cool like that too :-)

And here is the finished product. Aren’t we all so cute? :-)

Shirley

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