Debut Novel Turns Ten!

Wow! Today, my first published novel turns ten years old. Unexpected Legacy, which combines general fiction and sweet romance story lines, was published after I meandered my way through a serious learning curve. I have a degree in Journalism and spent the first 30 thirty years of my career writing newspaper and magazine articles and communications materials, so I already had the basics of writing. But stepping into the world of fiction, I had to learn a new way of writing. I had to learn about working with critique partners and beta readers. I had to establish a social media presence and learn how to format a 99,000-word book for publication. That was an exercise in frustration, to be sure! All of the elements, from coming up with a title, to polishing the book, to creating a cover, came together after what felt like months and months of struggle. I still remember the nervous excitement of pushing “publish” and opening the package that held my first author copy. The fun payoff! 🙂

As my first novel, Unexpected Legacy still holds a special place in my heart. I re-read it last week and made some tweaks. Tightened it up. Took out some unnecessary words. It’s amazing how every time I read back through one of my novels I still find things I want to change, scenes I might write differently today. That said, when I got to the last page, I found that I still liked the characters and the story. I’m still proud of the accomplishment and happy to have it out in the world.

I also went back and read through some of the reviews and was touched that the book struck a chord a few readers. Here’s one of my favorite reviews:

UL review on balloons

In celebration of the anniversary, I’ve put the digital version on sale for just 99 cents. Have an E-reader? Hope you’ll add Unexpected Legacy to your library! It’s available at all the usual online retailers in both ebook and paperback versions.

Happy new year, and happy reading!

Darlene

Unexpected Legacy:

Matt Dalton’s world is spinning off its axis. Without warning, he’s thrown into the world of parenting a teenager. Matt meets his son for the first time when the sixteen-year-old is dealing with the consequences of a tragic car accident. Not only has Brady lost his best friend, he faces disability and scars both physical and emotional.

Determined to do whatever it takes to give his son a second chance, Matt looks to his alma mater to step up and help Brady regain his athletic abilities and sense of self. But sparks fly when he meets the high school principal, the captivating Kate Austen. Kate is ready to take Brady under her wing, but to her that means helping him refocus and find a new passion – using his brains rather than his brawn. Kate fully expects the younger Dalton to come with issues and challenges . . . his father may prove to be the biggest one of all.

Though the chemistry is hard to ignore, Kate fights to keep her personal feelings and professional life separate. At the same time, Matt struggles to gain his son’s trust, and Brady must face the road to recovery and find a way to accept the changes in his life.

Unexpected Legacy is a compelling story of bravery, compromise and resilience.

https://books.apple.com/us/book/unexpected-legacy/id595649773

https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/unexpected-legacy

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/unexpected-legacy-darlene-deluca/1114072427?ean=2940044236271

Wrapping my head around a new year…already?!

Word by Word

So, 2023 is right around the corner. Some people are getting ready to party and celebrate. Some are busy setting goals and making plans for the new year. Others are still wondering what the heck happened to 2022.

I’m in that still-wondering-what-happened-to-2022 category. A sign of my age, I suppose. The years go by faster and faster. And I’m starting to feel the time crunch. So much to do!

As we get ready to open a new calendar and start a new year, many of us spend at least a few minutes taking stock of the old year—where we are, what we accomplished or didn’t. And we look ahead to where we’re going. To new possibilities. Maybe a fresh start. A new direction.

322511920_502197432009529_7962941774949909507_nI don’t typically make a New Year’s resolution or set a specific goal for the year. But I do try to assess the year, remember accomplishments, and…

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Random Travel Advice for 2023

A few tips from a travel professional! Hope your 2023 is full of fun adventures!

I Luv2cruz!

Hi there! Hope you had a lovely holiday weekend and plans for a festive New Year! One reason people book with travel agents is to get good guidance on what to do and what not to do, so here are a few pro tips for “smooth sailings” this year:

  • Be wary of cruise line upgrade offers. I saw one come through today for a client, but she already has a Grand Suite, so what would be the point of spending thousands more? Plus, she has family members with cabins next door, so any changes to her reservation would result in them being separated. Not worth it! Another client *did* upgrade his cabin recently and lost his amenities benefits! This has created a huge hassle in trying to get him reimbursed for the extra money he had to spend onboard!
  • Really watch your flights. As soon as the airlines open…

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Who’s Feeling Lucky?

Do you enjoy discovering new authors? Have you ever been hesitant to try a new author? Maybe your budget doesn’t allow you to try all the authors you’d like. Well, here’s a super opportunity for you! While this weekend might be all about shopping, here’s one thing that won’t cost a dime––enter for a chance to win eight books from a group of Kansas City authors. It’s a multi-author, multi-genre opportunity!

oban giveaway (1)

One lucky reader (U.S. only) will win all eight books. The books will be mailed in December after the close of the contest. Keep them for yourself, or give them as gifts! You can visit the Of Books and Nooks website to check out the individual authors and their work. 

While we all write individually, the group has teamed up to offer you a glimpse into the lives of writers, travel adventures, recipes, book reviews and more! Come along and follow us!

Don’t miss this opportunity.

Good luck and happy reading to all!

Darlene

Holiday Giveaway

Celebrating a Book Birthday!

Ta-dah! After months of writing and editing, numerous rough drafts and revisions, a book is born! Yesterday was the official release date for my new holiday romance Christmas at Tall Pines! Curl up with this heartwarming story for an early dose of holiday cheer!

–Melanie Beck is searching for an idyllic Christmas like the ones her small family used to have. Traveling solo and still grieving the loss of her parents, she’s counting on cozy Tall Pines Lodge tucked into the mountains of Utah to provide the elusive holiday feels with merry music, stunning decorations and traditional Christmas feast in a beautiful frosty setting.

But a blizzard turns the winter wonderland into a hazard, and a chance encounter with a now-famous high school crush has her reeling with emotions she’s never quite gotten over. SomethingGood

Tyler Shaw, a Hollywood heartthrob and silver screen star, is so over a grueling film schedule and persistent paparazzi. In disguise and using a fake name, he comes to Tall Pines to escape the spotlight and get some much-needed rest. He’s hoping the adrenaline rush of downhill skiing at the nearby slopes will give him the reboot he’s looking for.

Instead, he’s stuck at the lodge and is shocked to run into an old high school friend that he left behind more than a decade ago. He’s even more surprised to discover how much he’s missed her.

As their past and present collide, can an old flame ignite some Christmas magic?–

Christmas at Tall Pines is available in digital and paperback formats from your favorite online retailer!

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0BK1TP381/

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/1174660

https://books.apple.com/us/book/christmas-at-tall-pines/id6443949366

https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/christmas-at-tall-pines

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/christmas-at-tall-pines-darlene-deluca/1142549099?ean=2940165952432

Christmas at Tall Pines already has two 5-star reviews!

— ‘Tis the season for holiday romance and this book will tug at your heartstrings. With emotions running high, a beautiful setting, and a festive ambiance, this romance will sweep you away. –N.N. Light’s Book Heaven

— This story was a delightful read. The setting, though storming, was charming inside the lodge from the decorations to the music and holiday cheer, as well as the fireside warmth. Melanie and Tyler have great chemistry. –Still Moments Magazine

Pick up your copy today! Happy reading to all!

Darlene

A Pretty Fall After All!

A few weeks ago, I was concerned we would have a lackluster fall because it’s been so dry. Some wind took down leaves too early, but overall, it’s pretty out there!

In Kansas, we don’t have the beautiful expanses of fall color you see in places like New England. I miss the falls in the Finger Lakes region of New York why my daughter went to college. The colors are stunning.

Even so, we do have some fine specimens that include trees and shrubs around here. I have a maple in my yard, but I can’t remember the specific kind. I wish it turned a brilliant red, but, alas, it turns orange. Still a pretty sight!

I’ve been out with my camera this week, so here’s a sampling of lovely fall colors!

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Hope you are having a good autumn wherever you are!

Darlene

Want to be an early bird?!

Woo-hoo! I have a new book to share with you!

Today, my new holiday romance, Christmas at Tall Pines, is live for pre-order. You can pre-order a digital copy at all the usual retailers, and the book will download to your reading device on Nov. 1, which is the official release date. Paperback copies also will be available on Nov. 1. Just in time to get in the holiday spirit! 🙂

SomethingGoodMelanie Beck is searching for an idyllic Christmas like the ones her small family used to have. Traveling solo and still grieving the loss of her parents, she’s counting on cozy Tall Pines Lodge tucked into the mountains of Utah to provide the elusive holiday feels with merry music, stunning decorations and traditional Christmas feast in a beautiful frosty setting.

But a blizzard turns the winter wonderland into a hazard, and a chance encounter with a now-famous high school crush has her reeling with emotions she’s never quite gotten over.

Tyler Shaw, a Hollywood heartthrob and silver screen star, is so over a grueling film schedule and persistent paparazzi. In disguise and using a fake name, he comes to Tall Pines to escape the spotlight and get some much-needed rest. He’s hoping the adrenaline rush of downhill skiing at the nearby slopes will give him the reboot he’s looking for.

Instead, he’s stuck at the lodge and is shocked to run into an old high school friend that he left behind more than a decade ago. He’s even more surprised to discover how much he’s missed her.

As their past and present collide, can an old flame ignite some Christmas magic?

https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/christmas-at-tall-pines

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/1174660

https://books.apple.com/us/book/christmas-at-tall-pines/id6443949366

Click photo for Amazon link.

Happy reading to all!

Darlene

Me and my camera just for fun!

Word by Word

I like to take pictures. Sometimes to document an occasion or place, or to remind myself of the name of a wine label or restaurant I’ll never remember later. But mostly, I just enjoy capturing a good image, whether it’s people, landscapes, or a snippet of nature.

My first couple of jobs at small newspapers that couldn’t afford a staff of photographers required me to use a camera. Many times, I had to shoot the pics to go along with my stories. My boyfriend, now husband, helped me learn about lighting and backgrounds and framing a shot. And I got to be reasonably proficient. (I could load film into the camera, but never had to develop on my own.)

P1010077Fast forward several years. Every event we go to, every vacation we take, we do double on the photos! Even though he’s a professional photographer and gets amazing shots that I…

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Ahhh, summer…relax and recharge!

Word by Word

I’ve been spending a lot of time in Colorado this summer. We have a small, longtime family cabin just west of Colorado Springs. First, the hubs and I went out to get things opened up. Then both kids (one with a husband and the other with a fiancé) joined us. Then I made another trip with a friend.

It’s a great place to relax and unwind—to sip morning tea or an evening glass of wine on the porch with no mosquitoes attacking me. So many things about the place make me smile—a creekside picnic where I can hear the rushing water of a babbling brook, the bright blue sky and big, puffy white clouds, the sweet wildflowers along a hiking trail.

P1010143

On this last trip, my friend and I had the delightful surprise of meeting a mama deer and her fawn along a walking trail. I’d never been that up-close-and-personal…

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Wildflowers spread their cheer

I love flowers. I like them in my yard. I like them as gifts. I like wandering through botanic gardens and arboretums when I travel. And I like photographing them. So today, I have a photo collection of wildflowers to share.

Wildflowers make me happy. It’s so fun to stumble across them. So often I struggle to grow flowers at home. To give them the right amount of sun and water and the right soil. To keep the rabbits, squirrels, chipmunks and insects from devouring them. But these little guys, they just pop up and thrive!

These are all images of wildflowers that I spotted along the walks and trails during a recent visit to Colorado. Except the little blue one—that one I grew from a seed! I’m hoping there are a lot more the next time I visit!

Hope you’re having a fabulous summer surrounded by the things you like best!

Darlene

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