Couples that Capture your Heart

When my kids were in elementary school one of the popular Valentine party games was a matching game. Room moms cut large paper hearts, then cut them in half and wrote the names of popular “couples” on each half . . . Romeo and Juliet, Beauty and the Beast, Hans Solo and Princess Leia, etc. The idea was for the kids to find their match.

It was just a fun way to pass some time during the classroom Valentine party. But it reminds me how fictional couples capture our hearts. So much so, that some book and movie couples become legend.

c0e3b31cedf0ae427b4600e905234257One of my favorite couples goes way back to childhood reading – Loved reading about the budding romance between Laura Ingalls and Almanzo Wilder and their eventual marriage. A couple of other favorites: Elizabeth Bennett and Mr. Darcy (of course), and Matt and Meredith from Judith McNaught’s novel “Paradise.” Movies also are a source of some of the greatest romances. A few that come to mind: Rose and Jack from Titanic, Sally and Harry, When Harry Met Sally, Ian and Toulah in My Big Fat Greek Wedding.

It’s Valentine’s Day, so let’s have some fun. Everyone share your favorite couples!

Authors, take a few lines to introduce us to your “couple” characters. I’ll go first:

Darlene

From my novel “Unexpected Legacy,” fiction with romantic elements: Matt Dalton is about to meet his 16-year-old son for the first time. Kate Austen is an interim high school principal fighting to make her mark in a man’s world. Sparks fly when the two clash over the best approach to Matt’s son’s recovery given the recent tragedy in his life. Unexpected Legacy

Theresa Hupp’s latest novel, Forever Mine: Love Along the Oregon Trail, is the story of Esther and Daniel, who are emigrating with their families in a wagon train to Oregon in 1847. Esther and Daniel fall in love, but what chance does their romance have, when their fathers argue at every turn of the trail and their travels bring only danger, disease, and death? https://www.amazon.com/Forever-Mine-Along-Oregon-Chronicles-ebook/dp/B0797F39SL

In Joyce Ann Brown‘s cozy mystery series, Beth and husband Arnie don’t see eye-to-eye when it comes to Beth’s sleuthing, even when their “Psycho Cat” noses out clues. Arnie wants to stay clear of detecting. But he’s there for Beth when it counts.

When I was young I watched Roy Rogers and Dale Evans on a black and white tube TV and fell in love with the “singing cowboys/girls.” Today, as a writer of suspense and time travel, I’ve logged a number of characters. My first novel, Return of the French Blue, features Catalina Syrah and Nicholas Bonhomme. The story takes place in the California Wine Country, and the beautiful coast of southern France. Pit two strong spies against each other who desperately want to retrieve the legendary French Blue diamond—and you have the makings of a suspense-packed novel. The settings couldn’t be more beautiful, and the characters—oh my! I still see them in my dreams.  Please indulge at: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B008BDBKTS     Pamela B. Eglinski

Scroll through the comments below to discover other fave couples!

2018 – Year of Memories and Modifications

Well, I didn’t publish a book in 2018. I wrote one, but it’s pending an agent’s interest. I took a break from working on two other novels to write this post. One is a women’s fiction, and the other a contemporary romance that might be the first in a series. So my goal for 2019 is to publish at least one of them!

penned con signingIt was a busy year. I attended several author/reader events locally as well as the Romance Writers of America conference in Denver and the Penned Con book fair in St. Louis. Met up with writer friends, made new connections and had a blast meeting readers.

Plus, we had a lot of action on the home front. Both kids graduated in May – fortunately, a week apart. One with a bachelor’s degree and the other, her masters. Being my son’s final college tennis season, we traveled to a few more of his matches, which took us from Orlando to Kalamazoo and several places in between. Lots of fun times and memories made! And, I’m happy to report both are gainfully employed and pretty much self-sufficient! Woo-hoo! I’m calling that parental success! 🙂

That said, we are now truly empty nesters. And that feels weird. And it changes everything! No more winter breaks that last three to four weeks. No more “Spring Break.” Our daughter was home for Christmas, but only for a few days. We were only able to fit in a quick overnight to see my folks because both kids had to be back at work the day after Christmas. Our daughter flew back to New York on Christmas Day. This new reality is cramping my style, for sure!

But it’s like the old saying, “The only thing constant is change.” It just keeps coming!

I don’t know what 2019 will bring, but I’m hoping for new adventures, new connections and new books! Wishing you all peace, good health and happiness!

What are you looking forward to in the new year?

Darlene

Stunning colors take the edge off

I know some people love fall. It’s their favorite season. For me, it’s generally okay. Not my favorite, though, because it puts an end to summer and is the prelude to the bitter cold temps and drab landscape of winter.

This year we haven’t had a lot of nice fall weather. It’s been a little rainy and on the chilly side for me. We never got that 70-something-degree Indian summer. Instead, it seems like one day it was 89 and then all of a sudden, it was 59.

But this year, fall gave us something else. It gave us absolutely stunning colors! I honestly can’t remember a fall that’s been as pretty. I can’t remember wanting to stop the car every couple of blocks to take pictures. The colors are brilliant and bright. The reds are vibrant, the yellows glow and the oranges blaze like fire.

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It’s already almost a week into November, and the gorgeous colors are taking the edge off of this transition that I usually dread. Hooray!

This is also the first fall in a few years that we haven’t ventured to central New York to visit our daughter and enjoy the spectacular views that are the hallmark of that area this time of year. So, I appreciate getting a taste of them here at home.

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I’ve taken so many pictures it was hard to narrow them down to just a few to share. But here they are. Enjoy! Hope you’re having a colorful season, too!

Darlene

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Nature’s stress relief

Ah, the soothing sound of a babbling brook! I recently returned from a vacation trip to Colorado. It wasn’t a whirlwind, action-packed, sightseeing, tourist kind of trip. It was more of a let-it-go, kick-back, unwind and relax trip. And at the center of that kind of trip is nature — lakes and streams, shimmering aspen trees, secluded trails, a little wildlife, wildflowers and scenic vistas.

I love the sound of a rushing Colorado stream. While we were there, we dined creekside, walked along a trail that followed a gentle stream, and hung out, just listening to the sound of the water cascading over the rocks. I could sit and read or write with that sound as a backdrop for hours!

For me, the water is mesmerizing to watch, and soothing to listen to, especially if the creek is moving fast enough to drown out traffic and other noise. It’s as if nature is saying, “Ahhhh, take a break.”

Enjoy this little snippet!

 

Are there other sights and sounds of nature that give you pause and refreshment?

Darlene

It’s book-for-a-buck month!

That’s right. During the month of July, Smashwords digital book seller is having a huge sale — and lots of books are only $1. That’s a great deal! And that means you can get my contemporary romance Something Good for only a buck!

Something Good was a Rone Award second-place winner in 2015, and also won Still Moments Magazine’s award for Best Ending. It has a 4.7 average review rating on Amazon, and some great reviews!

“… an absorbing story of redemption that’s hard to put down.” – Kirkus Reviews

“With surprising plot twists and unique character conflict, Something Good more than lives up to its name!” – InD’Tale Magazine

Get Something Good for $1

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Grab your copy, and enjoy!

Darlene

You go, girls! Happy travels!

It’s almost summer, and that means travel, vacation, relaxing with friends, right? Hopefully there’s a little of that in your summer plans! I’ve heard of so many great girl trips lately, that I asked my favorite travel agent some questions about planning the best trip with friends.
Enjoy, and happy travels!
Chatting with Janet McLaren, Cruise Planners, personal travel advocate:
Thanks for inviting me to your blog! It’s always fun to talk about travel, and travel with friends is always the best!

 

IMG_3852– What are some of the most interesting or unusual girls’ trips you’ve arranged?
It seems like women either want to get away for relaxation at a resort with a good beach and spa, or they want a cultural adventure with a combination of organized events and independent exploring. I’d say for most interesting: a group of ladies who are going to Italian wine country this summer. They are sharing a villa near Florence for a week and taking day trips into the city and into surrounding towns, then spending two days in Rome.
Getaway cruises are always popular, too, because they are usually economical for everyone and don’t require as big a commitment of time. One group of ladies takes a short cruise to Mexico every January when the fares are low.

– A friend of mine recently visited Barcelona on a tour with her wine club. I’ve heard of book clubs attending author-sponsored cruises. Are these kinds of themed-trips gaining in popularity?
They are, but they are mostly arranged by private groups, not the cruise line. An exception is river cruising — several of the top lines “theme” a number of cruises each year. I’m looking at one for a group right now that is focused on beer (haha, right?), but there are wine themes, music, and Christmastime, too. Also, there are land tours that are geared for special interests. I know of literary-themed tours in England that focus on historical sites related to authors such as Jane Austin, Arthur Conan Doyle, and Charles Dickens, for a few examples. Garden tours abound, as well as castle tours (think Downton Abbey, for instance), and “quaint towns.”

            Best shopping?   Mexico — the short cruises that go there, and the resorts of Cancun and Playa del Carmen are excellent for picking up handicrafts, jewelry, and clothes. New York and London shopping trips are still popular, although you have to watch the conversion rate of the British Pound to be sure popping off to London is a value or not.

            Best for beach/relaxing?  Interestingly, I get a fair number of inquiries about Miami Beach. The old-style glam resort hotels and the nightlife are very appealing. You get a nice combination of beach time, relaxation, and some fun. Restaurants are a big thing there, too. Of course many all-inclusive Caribbean and Mexican resorts have it all in one place! That’s probably the easiest getaway of all — just go, get transported to your resort, then don’t worry about very much at all. 

            Best sightseeing/culture?  Europe is still number one — history, churches, museums, wine, music, art, ancient architecture — it’s easy to come up with a common interest that binds a group together for a shared experience.

– Any tips or special advice for women traveling together?

Yes, I find that I am often reminding people that they cannot possibly do everything in one trip! Select a theme then let me help plan a reasonable, “do-able” outline that won’t exhaust you — decide on a few important highlights. Save some down time; not every minute has to be planned out and everyone could use a little “me time” mixed in, too.

– Any places you’d advise small groups of women to avoid?

Yes, sadly not all places in the world are travel-friendly to women and male-centric societies make for too much stress and worry. For some reason Dubai holds a fascination (I suppose for the shopping), but I wouldn’t choose it for a girlfriend getaway. India, China, some places in the Mideast and Africa — not worth it. Exceptions: I think a well-coordinated safari in certain locations would make a terrific all-woman adventure, and a historical or spiritual journey in Israel and Jordon would be safe and rewarding.

 

Thanks for sharing your time and expertise, Janet! I want to do it all! Dear readers, do you have a favorite spot for trips with friends? Tips or experiences to share? We’d love to hear them!

Contact Janet for additional info and ideas. 866-592-7351 | 972-231-0066 | jmclaren@cruiseplanners.com | www.cruiseplanforyou.com