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.

BLOG HOP: Spring Slim Down Tips

I admit, I just ate a pizza. Crazy bread. Marshmallow Peeps. And a hollow chocolate bunny. I love Easter candy and treats, LOL. So when I saw Susan Meier’s blog post about Spring Slim Down, I had to read it and post it. Maybe it’ll get me motivated to get back on track again. BEFORE bathing suit season. Of course, I live in Florida, so it’s always swimsuit season, LOL.

HSwtM_500Spring Slim Down by Susan Meier

Most of my life, I’ve enjoyed the status of being at the same weight/size. Then suddenly I gained 40 pounds. Rather than slim down, I bought a bigger size bathing suit last summer. LOL! Not quite cheating but sort of.

This year, I don’t want to buy a bigger size. In fact, I’d like to fit into a few of my smaller suits. So I’ve joined the ranks of those doing the spring diet. Or maybe better said, spring slim down…because I’m not good with diets but I love exercise.images

I have every DVD known to mankind except P90X. One look at that infomercial and I knew I wouldn’t survive it. The Zumba tapes looked like so much fun on TV that I bought them immediately. Never took them out of the box. But my daughter’s friend did use them. I loved Tae Bo in the 90’s so I bought the “classic” edition, thinking I’d get the routines I’d loved. But not quite. Either that or my added years and weight made the workouts beyond my abilities.

Luckily, I hired a personal trainer last year. She also teaches a much simpler form of Zumba. More like dancing. J I also bought the Hip Hop Abs DVDS and love them.

So now I get up in the morning and do a half-hour Hip Hop Abs routine. Then I work/write until noon. Wednesdays and Fridays at noon I workout with my trainer. Tuesday night, Thursday night and Saturday morning I do Zumba with Cindy.

I may not lose a ton of weight but by vacation I hope to at least be tucked in!

How about you? Are you a Spring Slim Down person?

Blog HopChat with Susan about your Spring Slim Down Tips, and don’t forget to enter our Rafflecopter for this awesome prize! a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Blog Hop: April Showers Bring May Flowers

   unexpectedtempationToday’s guest is the awesome Samantha Hunter! Remember to enter the contest at the bottom, too!Blog Hop

April Showers Bring Spring Flowers! by Samantha Hunter

Well, it’s still spitting snow and cold here in Syracuse, but I am dreaming of my gardens,  sorting through my seeds, and reading (and re-reading) my garden magazines, thinking about this year’s vegetables and so forth. But that’s getting ahead of the game. First, there will be the Spring flowers, and the best thing about those is that they come along on their own, with little help from me.DSC00921

Tulips, Daffodils (called Jonquils in the southern US, which I didn’t know until friend Anna Adams informed me) and Hyacinths, but also Crocuses and Grape Hyacinths, and tons of ephemerals that bloom all over our yard, even in the grass, and I’m not always sure of their names. A bit later, the Irises.

ItDSC00909’s impossible for me to choose a favorite, I love them all, perhaps especially so after the long, stark stretch of white. Our White Star Magnolia will bloom, and that’s always a treat (and so fragrant!) though I’ll have to chase away the squirrels who rip the blossoms off and throw the petals like confetti. They also used to eat my tulips – I can’t tell you how many times I would go out to find all of my tulips, on the edge of bloom, completely beheaded! While I try not to use too many sprays or chemicals in the garden, I bought Deer-Off and now I enjoy my flowers every spring.

Which ones are you looking forward to the most? Do you have any pests that get after them, and how do you deal with them?

Sam

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