Hahaha. It’s so not spring. Well, it’s not where I live, not by a long shot. But I’m clinging to the “March comes in like a lion and out like a lamb” thing. Here’s hoping! Luckily, if you’re stuck inside some sort of snow cave we have lots of great Blaze books to keep you happy and warm. Here’s the March line up.

March 835 SaraWe love our military men, and Sara Jane Stone has a great Uniformly Hot! story this month. SEARCH AND SEDUCE not only offers an incredibly appealing, sexy hero who is noble and loyal, it also features a wonderful heroine. Amy Benton is a widow trying to find her way after her husband’s death andis finally realizing her dream of breeding military war dogs, enlisting the help of newly returned Pararescue Jumper Mark Rhodes. He was her husband’s best friend, and while he’s always been there for Amy, lately there’s been a growing awareness between them. With a complex conflict, great emotional depth and, of course, really hot sex, this is one you won’t want to miss! Bonus that there are also adorable puppies, who are also heroes in their own right.

March 826 KiraI’m really proud of our covers, which do a great job of representing our stories. And the cover for UNDER THE SURFACE by Kira Sinclair is excellent! Do you agree? If I saw this guy coming out of the water toward me I would definitely run…straight to him! This is the first of Kira’s SEALs of Fortune miniseries, which features three hot former SEALs who have started a diving company. Jackson Duchane has spent almost a decade hunting down the wreck of the Chimera, a Civil War-era ship rumored to be filled with gold. But he didn’t bargain on the sexy distraction of Loralei Lancaster, who heads a rival diving team. And these rivals start playing dirty! Kira always writes a sizzling story and—wow—this title is her 15th Blaze. Congratulations, Kira! Look for the next book in her series, HOLDING HER BREATH, coming in July.

march 837 DebiWhat would a month at Blaze be without at least one hot cowboy? Debbi Rawlins continues her fabulous Made in Montana miniseries with ANYWHERE WITH YOU. Deputy Grace Hendrix is the local sheriff, which definitely throws off Ben Wolf, who receives a speeding ticket from Grace the minute he returns to town after fifteen years away. He’s not the angry troublemaker he used to be…but try telling that to Grace! So what do you get when you throw together a good-girl cop and a former bad boy? Trouble! Debbi fans and new readers alike with love this one.

March 838 KelliKelli Ireland is back with the third book in her Pleasure Before Business miniseries, PULLED UNDER. If you’ve been reading Kelli, you know that she writes hot! And this book is no exception. IRS investigator Harper Banks makes certain assumptions of Levi Walsh, an exotic male dancer and part owner of Beaux Hommes, a club Harper is sent to investigate. Turns out Levi isn’t just a financial whiz in his own right, he’s incredibly complex…and totally seductive. And he’s melting her rigid self-control! Kelli always puts great details into her stories…and if you’re a motorcycle buff you’re in for a treat!

I hope you enjoy all four Blazes this month. We’re really excited for our #BlazeBlitz call for submissions, which launches March 2nd and goes until March 16th. If you or someone you know thinks they could be our next Blaze Babe, check out our #BlazeBlitz submission page (https://harlequin.submittable.com/submit/39471) for details! And, as always, I’d like for three of you to receive a set of our March titles. So tell me your favorite thing about Blaze and I’ll enter you in a draw to win!

Kathleen Scheibling

Senior Editor, Harlequin Blaze

 

 

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What warms up a cold winter day better than free Blaze books! The winners of a full set of February Blazes are:

 

  • Lenore1216
  • Elaine
  • Camille

Thanks to everyone who entered the draw! Look for Kathleen’s post next week for your next chance to win!

 

I’m from Winnipeg. It’s cold in Winnipeg. Like, this cold:

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“Frosty Walk-Eileen Belinsky on Grant Ave as she goes for a 7KM walk Friday morning in Winnipeg’s bitter cold” pic.twitter.com/WQZwHnJocJ Joe Bryksa (@jbryksa)

And even I am sick of this freezing, snowy Toronto winter. So let me tell you about something hot… and steamy…and full of great flavour. No, not Blaze books (though they count, too!). Tea! You may have heard me talking about tea before. It’s one of my absolute favourite things. Pu-ehr, oolong, sencha, bancha, Darjeeling, Assam…you name it, I’ve tasted it. And earlier this month I got to experience a full day of tea glory at the Toronto Tea Festival!

This was such an incredible day. Tea merchants from all over the world were there, selling all sorts of teas, teaware, spices, honeys, scones, and did I mention tea? It took a great deal of restraint not to go home with one of these cast iron teapots (I already have one! Do I need another? Well, “need,” no. “Want,” on the other hand….)

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Cast iron teapots from Tao Tea Leaf.

Throughout the day a number of traditional tea ceremonies were performed and explained. Here are the Korean tea and Japanese ceremonies:

20150131_130815   20150131_151042

Both take great concentration and care, and most of all time. This is about each movement, each aroma, each sip. Nothing is rushed. It’s all about being in the moment.

The Festival also offered great workshops, including one on how to cook with tea. When the tea sommelier/chef mentioned infusing butter with rich, smoky lapsang souchong and then melting that over steak, the entire room groaned with pleasure. And don’t even get me started on the idea of Earl Grey-infused whipped cream for warm scones!

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A slide from Raelene Gannon’s excellent presentation on how to cook with tea. You can buy her cookbook here.

Definitely a productive day! And a warm one. Till next time, happy steeping!

tea

Mom and me enjoying afternoon tea at the Windsor Arms Hotel back in summer 2014. Remember summer? I do… barely…

 

Do you drink tea? What’s your favourite? What else are you doing to warm up this winter?

 

 

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Learning to love yourself.
Anne Hathaway was on Ellen back in November and talked about the Cyber-bullying she experienced after winning the 2013 Oscar. And I loved her message so much I just wanted to share it again here today.
Today I turn 53. And if I can’t use my birthday–and being over HALF A CENTURY old as an excuse to “lecture” –or what I prefer to think of as “sharing what I’ve learned”, than when can I, right?
Anyway, I think what Anne said on Ellen is SO important for all of us to get. Especially now when it seems like we can be so divided in this country on lots of different issues. You see it <a href=" ” target=”_blank”>HERE, but basically what she discovered was she had to learn to love herself. “If you don’t love yourself, than when somebody says horrible things to you, a part of you is always going to believe them.” But she didn’t want to believe those people, didn’t want to be dependent on what other people thought of her. So she figured out who she was and she learned to love herself. But HERE’S the best part of what she said. Once she loved herself, she said she had a “tremendous amount of love and compassion for everyone else.”
So, I guess my message to everyone is, if it seems like you’re angry at others or can’t seem to feel compassion for others, then it may be that you need to learn to love yourself. Find 3 things you like about yourself. Start small if you have to. You like the color of your eyes. Or you like that you’re good at crocheting or math. You could even–and I know this sounds crazy, but it works–stand in front of a mirror and say a daily affirmation out loud to yourself. Here’s my daily affirmation.
My happiness comes from within, and I will smile even in the face of adversity. I will laugh often. I will be successful. Solutions can be found in every problem, and I will move forward while focusing on solutions. I will wake up every day to take action toward my goal. My goal is a positive inspiration, which endures like an eternal fire. I will shower loving kindness upon everyone I meet. My family and friends love me. They support my aspirations and always look out for my best interest.
I printed this up and hung it on the wall in my office and read it each day for a while a few years ago when I felt I needed extra help to get through some tough times.
Then, once you’ve learned to truly love yourself–unconditionally–see if that love and compassion spills over onto others. I think that’s what’s missing most in our society today. Love and compassion for others. And the root cause is of course that we don’t really love ourselves. And we should. We’re pretty good people overall. So, are you ready to love yourself unconditionally? Flaws and all? What are three things that you like about yourself?

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I’m posting this blog a day late, but that’s because I wanted to give the lovely and talented Laura Barth a chance to tell you all about the #BlazeBlitz! Pretty exciting, huh? I hope some of you are thinking about submitting. As the newest of the Blaze Babes (not for long – we’ve got some great new authors joining us soon, including two of my pals, one of whom I’m actually rooming with at RWA’s national convention in NYC this summer), I thought I’d share the top five reasons why I love writing for Blaze. So here they are, in no particular order:

5. The Covers. This one needs no words. Just pictures. Here’s my newest cover, for my June release, Triple Time. Don’t you just love it? I do. I can’t stop staring at his abs.

US Cover

4. The Heroes. More pics. Here’s my inspiration for the four heroes in the Art of Seduction series: Nick (Joe Manganiello), Gabe (Eric Bana), Cade (Jessie Pavelka) and Jace (Adam Levine). What beats hanging out with these hotties all day (and all night)?

3. The heroines. Shrinking violets need not apply. These gals are smart, savvy, tough and know what they want – and how to get it. Here’s the four ladies of the Art of Seduction series: Holly (Maggie Gyllenhaal), Devin, Ivy (Christina Hendricks) and Noelle (Kate Hudson).

2. The editors. The Blaze editors are, simply put, the best. You’ll learn so much in their skilled hands. And your manuscript will shine for it!

DanaHopkins

My fab editor and fellow theater geek, Dana Hopkins

1. The Blaze Babes. They’re not just great writers, they’re great friends, and they’ll welcome you with open arms, just like they welcomed me. Tawny Weber was actually the very first person to read the first 50 pages of Triple Threat, my debut (I “won” her in Brenda Novak’s annual auction for diabetes). And she stuck with me ever since (or was stuck with me, I’m not sure which LOL), nudging me, encouraging me, cheering for me. And the rest of the gals have been equally supportive. It’s an amazing club to be in.

My Blaze spirit guide, Tawny Weber

My Blaze spirit guide, Tawny Weber

So now that you’ve heard straight from the mouth of the newest Blaze Babe how great writing for Blaze is, what are you waiting for? Go forth and write. And starting March 2, 2015, submit your first chapter and synopsis at http://Harlequin.Submittable.com and click on “#BlazeBlitz Submission Blitz.

Are you submitting? Let me know! For every comment, I’ll leave a tip for you to keep in mind when drafting that all important first chapter and synopsis.

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We love our amazing Blaze authors, and we know you do too. Now you have the opportunity to join their ranks. From March 2-16 go to http://Harlequin.Submittable.com and click on “#BlazeBlitz Submission Blitz!” to submit your first chapter and synopsis! We’re guaranteeing editorial feedback for all sexy contemporary submissions within 45 days of the blitz ending. And we’d love to make you the next Blaze Babe!

Blaze authors Karen Foley, Tawny Weber, Leslie Kelly and Janelle Dennison at the legendary Harlequin RWA party

Blaze authors Karen Foley, Tawny Weber, Leslie Kelly and Janelle Dennison at the legendary Harlequin RWA party

Everyone on the Harlequin Blaze team knows our authors are the most fun-loving, wild and hilarious group. They’re also some of the most talented writers—we have 7 NYT bestselling authors and 3 USA Today bestselling authors on the Blaze roster.

Tawny Weber and Sara Jane Stone at RWA 13

Tawny Weber and Sara Jane Stone at RWA 13

Blaze authors know how to reach that sweet spot (no pun intended) between sensuality and romance. They’re able to turn up the heat while also creating emotional depth and romantic tension in the story. And they write the hottest, most drool-worthy heroes. Men who don’t need to go to the gym to look drop-dead gorgeous in only a pair of well-worn jeans…or nothing at all! These guys hone their abs working on the ranch, fighting fires, or training for the military.Dec. 824 Kira

And the lucky heroines who win their hearts…and their bodies…are women we can respect and relate to. They’re not shrinking violet virgin nannies or fashion-obsessed debutantes. They’re strong, modern women with heart. Gals you’d want for your best friend.June 801 Debbi
Some of the things that make a great Blaze:

• A fresh, vibrant voice and a contemporary romantic storyline
• An “extraordinary ordinary” hero—Blaze heroes are strong, sexy, but attainable guys. We’re particularly interested in cowboys, military men, law enforcement officers, and firefighters
• A relatable heroine who can go toe-to-toe with the hero
• A plot driven by physical desire that leads to great emotional romance and true love
So if you’ve always wanted to try writing a Blaze story of your own, or maybe you already have one tucked away in a drawer somewhere, this is your opportunity! Be like one of our gutsy Blaze heroines and take a chance on something fantastic!
And please leave a comment and let me know if you’re planning to submit, what you love best about Blaze stories, or who your favorite Blaze authors are. I’ll do a random draw for a set of four fabulous March Blaze books.

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Before I get caught up chatting your eyes out of your head, I want to congratulate the winners of last month’s contest (selected by Random.org). I’ve emailed each winner and she should have received my request for a mailing address so I can get the book(s) in the mail this week!

Now that that’s out of the way, I have what seems like a TON of stuff to chatter about! First and foremost, 9780373798421tomorrow (2/17/15) is the day the final Pleasure Before Business book, PULLED UNDER, releases! I’m seriously stoked about sharing Levi’s story with you. Each story in this trilogy is unique in its conflicts and challenges, and if the early responses from Goodreads hold true, I think you’re going to really get into his and Harper’s story.

The heroine in this story, Harper Banks, was one of my favorite I’ve ever written. She’s this dichotomy of tough and tender, and it was difficult to manage as she fell in love. She challenged me to really get it right, and, in the end, I think she and I agreed I’d done her character justice. :)

I hope you’ll take a few minutes to check out the blurb for the book and let me know if it grabs your attention. There’e action and mystery and, above all, two soulmates who find each other and are forced to fight for the chance to love each other. I had the most fun writing their conflict, resolving their differences and bringing them together. I hope you enjoy their chemistry if you have the chance to read the book.

Up next will be my Covington brothers trilogy. The series is Wild Western Heat, and the first book is A COWBOY RETURNS. No cover to share yet, but I’m anxiously awaiting The Moment when it arrives in my inbox. I imagine there will be some squeals of delight. No one does cowboy covers as well as Harlequin! The print book releases July 22, 2015, and the digital version on August 1, 2015. There will definitely be ARC giveaways for this book, so keep checking back, probably in late May/early June. I’m going to sneak in an extra post just for the contest!

little cat gray britishFinally, I have a question. I’m curious about your feelings on reviews. A lot of authors never discuss them. I don’t know if it’s considered gauche or out of bounds or something similar, but I have to tell you–I’m just me. So this isn’t about drumming up numbers or falsifying reviews (NEVER–don’t do it). This is about me asking you for your feedback.

Reviews are incredibly important to authors, not because we want to read what readers have to say about our books (the good ones are great, the bad ones can suck the will to live out of you) but because we need those reviews to show publishers our readers are invested in our stories enough to comment. It’s a strange dynamic, but getting reviews on Goodreads and Amazon, in particular, really and truly can help authors when it comes to negotiating new contracts for proposed series and such. How do you, as readers, feel about leaving reviews? Do you review regularly or only if you love/hate a book? Personally? I love to leave good reviews and rarely, rarely leave a bad review. If nothing else, I know the effort that goes into writing a book. But if the author clearly put zero effort into it, there was no editing, etc.? Then I might say something if the story was bad. But usually? No. I don’t like to bash other authors. (Makes me feel dirty.) But I’d love to know what your practices are and why you do/don’t do what you do. Confusing, eh? LOL

Leave me a comment on why you choose to comment/not comment on books, and I’ll use Random.org to pick one winner for a $20 gift certificate to the e-book retailer of your choice. Contest runs through March 15, and I’ll announce the winner on my next regular blog post, March 16. Good luck, and thank you!

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Hey Gang, My oldest, Jeff, is getting married on Valentine’s Day to the love of his life, Crystal. They are so happy, it’s infectious. And I’m so happy for them. As you might imagine, it’s a crazy week. So I’m posting this pic of the happy couple, and I promise at least one wedding photo next month.

Do you have a great meet cute? I’d love to hear how you met your significant other. Crystal and Jeff met at a video store. My husband and I lived down the hall from each other in the same dorm, but met yelling at each other over a football game. Tell me how you met the love of your life.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Crystal and Jeff are getting married on Saturday!

Crystal and Jeff are getting married on Saturday!

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Valentine’s Day is a time for lovers. Well, of course it is—it’s so darn cold out you’re hanging on to your honey for all you’re worth. As I write this we’re in a deep freeze here in Toronto, which means it’s a perfect time of year to stay home, whether you’re clinging to your significant other or curling up under the blankets with a good book. And we have four Blazes this month that are going to keep you warm!

Feb. 831 TawnyWhat would February be without a new Uniformly Hot! title from New York Times bestselling author Tawny Weber? A SEAL’S SECRET is the book to pick up this month. We all know that Tawny writes hot, but this one is a scorcher. Despite Livi Kane’s success as a fitness star, she’s really quite shy. The one thing that brings her out of her shell is a bit of competition—and when she’s thrown into an impromptu push-up contest with a Navy SEAL she doesn’t back down! When Mitch Donovan is ordered to work with Livi on a new series of workouts based on SEAL fitness training, their relationship definitely goes beyond the professional. As for the secret…there’s a lot of them in this book. Find out why this is my Blaze pick of the season here. (Also – abs cover of the month. That’s a real guy. His name is Joe. He’s very, very fit. J)

Feb. 832 IsabelIsabel Sharpe is back with the second book in her duet, THE PERFECT INDULGENCE. If you didn’t get a chance to read SOME LIKE IT HOTTER, don’t forget to pick up that book too—to double your pleasure! These two stories are connected by twin sisters, both of whom own coffee shops on different coasts. To keep life interesting, they decided to swap businesses and residences for one month. Christine Meyer’s New York uptightness is melting in the California sunshine—good thing, because she has a lot of guys vying for her affections. Zac Arnette doesn’t mind a little competition, and he’s made it his mission to convince Chris that he’s just the guy to indulge her…in whatever fantasy her heart desires! This book is fun, sexy romp that will make you wish you could take a vacation from your life for a month.

feb. 833 samanthaOkay, maybe we have two incredible abs covers this month. Brody Palmer in Samantha Hunter’s ROCK SOLID is every bit as hunky as the guy on this cover! Brody is a racing champion forced into a fake early retirement as a publicity stunt. But just because he’s off the circuit doesn’t mean the press (and a lot of groupies) has stopped hounding him. Luckily, his friend and former flame Hannah Morgan shows up just in time to be his fake fiancée—with all of the sexy strings included! Samantha always writes a super-hot story, and this one doesn’t disappoint. I loved this book—with its erotically charged sex scenes but also really tender moments between Brody and Hannah. Also—racing scenes! Quite a page turner.

Feb. 834 SusannaWe haven’t had an Encounters book in a while, so this one is a treat! LET THEM TALK by Susanna Carr is three stories in one sizzling package. Do you belong to a book club? If not, this book will inspire you to start one! In “The Diary”, Sydney Tate’s fictional erotic diary suddenly seems very real…once she finally seduces her inspiration, hot mayor Matthew Stone. “Talk of the Town” is all about seduction—with librarian Isabel Bennett pulling out all the stops to tempt sexy businessman Sean Hawkins. Finally, Laura Dawson is desperate to get her gorgeous neighbor, Connor Adams, into her bed. With the help of an aphrodisiac cookbook, she’ll likely succeed in “Craving You.” This book is an RT Top Pick for February!

I hope you enjoy all four Blazes this month. Tell me which cover is your February favorite and I’ll enter you in a drawing to win one of three sets of our books this month. Stay warm and happy reading!

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Where did my January winners post go? Darned if I know. It was a good one, too. (Okay, it was about staying inside in your pajamas in January once the Christmas decorations have been put away.)

But you need to know who your winners are! Receiving a set of January Blazes any moment now are:

- kaelee
- Elaine
- Marcie

Look for Kathleen’s new post later today for a chance to win the sizzling February Blaze set!

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Some of you may recognize my blog title as the title of a song by Paul Simon of Simon and Garfunkel fame. For those of you who don’t, and are in fact, asking, “What is a Garfunkle?” go look it up on your I-phone and enjoy your youth.
For those who do, this is what I’d like to know; Do you still drool over guys? Even though I’m old and fat on the outside, I’m sometimes still a giggling teen on the inside who loves to ogle hot guys (we called them “Major Babes” when I was younger). Case in point: I recently watched Proof of Life again for research for my next Blaze and omg, Russell Crowe!

Russell Crowe in Proof of Life

Russell Crowe in Proof of Life

MmMm! Drool, drool. Of course Russell is the inspiration for a hero of mine. Oh and yes, I pin pictures of hunky men up on my wall in my office. Now days I have an excuse: Ahem. It’s research for my current book. Yes, it is! Research, I swear!
Okay, I admit it, I’m still Boy-crazy after all these years.
Remember the movie, AUSTRALIA? Hello! Hugh Jackman pouring water from a barrel over his half-naked torso? Oh. My. Yum!
There are a few actors that I will go see even if I don’t think I will like the movie, just cause they are in it. Shameless, I know.
Jamie Dornan as Christian Grey

Jamie Dornan as Christian Grey

Anyone else looking forward to Fifty Shades of Gray?
And speaking of guys named Jamie…
Sam Heughan as Jamie in OUTLANDER

Sam Heughan as Jamie in OUTLANDER


Also can’t wait for the movie Kingsman! Hello Colin Firth!
Colin Firth as Darcy

Colin Firth as Darcy


I”m so boy-crazy I still keep a Top Ten list of guys I think are the hottest. And update it every so often.
Here is my current list:
(in no particular order)
1. Gerard Butler
2. Russell Crow
3. Eric Bana
4. Hugh Jackman
5. Daniel Craig
6. Sam Heughan
7. Mark Walberg
8. Jamie Dornan
9. Colin Firth
10. Christian Bale

So, who’s on YOUR top ten list? Who makes you go all girly and crazy and feel like a teen again? Who makes you drool?

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Cover Art Copyright @by Harlequin Enterprises Limited. Cover art used by arrangement with Harlequin Enterprises Limited. BLAZE, HARLEQUIN and the JOEY design are trademarks of Harlequin Enterprises Limited, used with permission.
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