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

Fall . . . season of love or loss?

Well, it’s that time of year. So far this week, I’ve: 1. Worn socks. 2. Turned on my electric blanket. 3. Turned the heat on in my house. Sigh.

Yes, it’s pretty out. Sort of. We’re seeing yellow, orange and red in some of the trees. But it’s messy, too. The patio is littered with leaves, as is the yard. Leaves are caught in the bushes, ground cover and patio furniture. We have a lot of trees, and I can’t keep up. (Not to mention the oak mites.)

A few flowers are valiantly trying to hang in there, but you can tell the jig is up. It’s that time of year. The mornings are chilly. The days are shorter. Those pretty falling leaves are just a prelude of what’s to come.

And that’s my whole issue with fall.

For many, fall is a favorite season. You like the milder temps. You’re ready to wrap up in scarves and sweaters. For me, fall is a loss. A warning. It’s the mourning of long, warm summer days. Yep, end of October, and I’m still mourning summer. It’s my season. Flip flops! No coats, jackets, scarves, gloves and other baggage to haul around and keep track of. No warming up the car. No raking or scraping or shoveling!IMG_2451

So, facing the inevitable, I pulled a few waning plants out of sad-looking pots and put some pumpkins on the porch. Ah, pumpkins! Now there’s a bright spot in fall. I have to say, I’m happy to be done with the days of finding the perfect pumpkin patch and making costumes and trick-or-treating. But I do like the pumpkins even if they’re just bought at the neighborhood grocery store. This weekend, we’ll hollow them out and roast the seeds. And for a day or two, I’ll enjoy the fruits of fall. 🙂

What do you enjoy about fall?

A weekend of bookish fun awaits!

728x90 RNR going

OK, who’s looking for some fun? If you’re in the Dallas area, you won’t want to miss this! Bring a friend, your book club, or just yourself and join us for Readers and ’ritas Nov. 10 -13. Parties, books, authors, scavenger hunt, swag, prizes . . . and did I mention fun?!

I’m so looking forward to this event. I love visiting with readers and chatting about books. Add in food and drink, and what’s not to like, right? And for me, another exciting plus is that the weather is Dallas is currently projected to be in the low- to mid-70s for that weekend. Woo-hoo. In other words, perfect!

Click here for the full agenda and list of authors and guest speakers.

Hope to see you there!

 

Last Gasp of Summer

I know some of you are fawning over the onset of fall. You delight in cooler temperatures, sweaters and pumpkin spice. I get it. Fall is generally pretty nice. But I lament for summer. I love the warm, sunny days. I enjoy sipping iced tea by the pool or in the shade and being WARM. Yes, fall can be warmish, but it’s the prelude to cold – the calm before the storm. Ugh. Winter. I truly hate winter.

So, with that in mind, I’m enjoying the last gasp of summer! I’m trying to ignore the subtle color in my dogwood trees and focus on the final rose buds and blooms. Only a few days ago I was in Colorado and came across this gorgeous field of wild flowers. Even as a few aspen were beginning to turn yellow, these cheery flowers were standing tall, keeping up the appearance of a bright summer season. It makes me smile just to look at the photos. Hope they cheer you, too! 🙂

What season brings you the most joy?

 

Chasing the Sun

Eclipse day dawned gray and rainy. En route to our viewing destination in rural Missouri, my sister and I drove through thick, overcast skies and rain – our spirits dampening with each mile and minute that passed without a glimpse of the sun.

Over the next few hours, the rain came and went and came again. Clouds dispersed and then reformed. And we waited. We worried and we wondered. What were the odds of getting clear skies at the right moment?

P1080033Our watch party was at a vineyard that offered wine tasting and a barbecue lunch – nice ambiance and additions to the eclipse event itself. The wine and the barbecue were excellent. The view, not so much.

With less than an hour to go before totality, the clouds were thinning, but we faced a decision. Take our chances and stay or hit the road again and chase the sun? From our deck-top table, the umbrella soaked with rain, we pondered our options. In the distance we could see a spot of clear blue sky. But exactly how far was it? And would it stay clear? Would the clouds get there before we could?

We decided we couldn’t sit and wait. So we chugged the remainder of our wine, and set out to chase the sun! A good choice!! We made it to clear skies, and stopped along the road beside a corn field. Had the place all to ourselves.

It was awesome! We saw the entire movement from start to finish. Totality was very cool. It didn’t go night-time dark, but it cooled a little, and was something like dusk. To me, it actually felt like the calm before a tornado.

Didn’t get many good pictures with my basic camera, but I made sure to look at totality without the camera so that I have a good mental image of it. So glad I did this. Already looking forward to the next one! Planning to be in Dallas on April 8, 2024! 🙂

Did you get a chance to see the eclipse?