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 (, 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 (, 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?

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The Relationship Between Sweet Romance & Erotica

A great guest post by Barbara Wallace today on the relationship between sweet romance and erotica. She’s a fabulous writer (I TOTALLY LOVED her book, THE HEART OF A HERO) and a great person (and super smart!). Also, this is part of our spring blog hop, so be sure to enter at the end!

Recently Esquire Magazine published an essay by Stephen Marche entitled, “The Sex Scene is Dead” in which he noted that graphic movie sex had become old hat.  This got me thinking, would the same thing happen with romance novels?  Is it happening already?

When Fifty Shades of Gray first came out, the romance writing world went crazy.  Granted, erotica had been around for a while, but suddenly, there was real money to be made in pushing the envelope.  Grab your leather and whip, baby, because BDSM was where it was at.  You couldn’t log onto Facebook or Twitter without seeing at least one reference to domination.

Lately, however, I’ve suspected readers might be becoming less enthusiastic then they were two years ago.  Like with the actual Shades of Gray books, BDSM books have gotten repetitive.  I BarbCoversaw one tweet the other day chuckling over how the characters in a book were shocked by sexual activities that she considered ‘been there, done that’.  And on some message boards, a few readers have complained about BDSM and erotica creeping into their romances.  (Thus denoting an important difference between romance and erotic romance, btw.)  To me, these are subtle signs of reader fatigue.  I predict that, in another couple of years, the erotica boom will decline.  Will it disappear?  Never.  Subgenres might shrink, but they never truly dry up.  But the wagon jumpers – the writers who piled on because there was money to be made – they’ll start to depart, leaving the dedicated erotica writers – the ones who were there all along – to satisfy their readers.

So, why do I, a sweet romance writer, care about the BDSM trend?  Because, my friends, the pendulum swings both ways.  You know how, when you’ve had too much candy, you suddenly want something healthy?  Well, that’s how it works with romance novels too.  After awhile, readers want something different.  At conference this fall, a well known contemporary author commented that she saw a growing interest in sweet romances.  A new trend is coming, and for once, I might actually be ahead of the curve.  I’m looking forward to it.

What about you? Do you think the erotica craze is slowing down?  Do you even care?  Do you think readers will be looking for sweeter, gentler romance? 


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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?


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