Sunday, December 28, 2008

Orchard Hill nominated for CAPA awards

Cora here, reporting from Orchard Hill. The nominees for The Romance Studio's CAPA (Cupid And Psyche Awards)were announced recently on the site's yahoo loop. I'm happy to say that a number of Kara's fellow Wild Rose Press authors were nominated for awards, including White Roses in Bloom members Cindy K. Green for "Relationship Rescue," Carol Ann Erhardt for Joshua's Hope and Cami Checketts for The Broken Path. The first two were nominated from Inspirational Romance of the Year and the last for a Psyche Award. The Psyche Award is a category for romances that did not meet the nomination criteria but that reviewers felt deserved special recognition. Friends Sarita Leone and Sandra Kay were nominated as well - Sarita Leone's Bay Leaves and Bundles for a Psyche award and Sandra Kay's Heart of Stone for Contemporary Romance.

Kara and Orchard Hill did pretty well, too. Seven of the Orchard Hill Romances were nominated for Inspirational Romance of the Year - Saving Gracie, Entertaining Angel, Considering Lily, Keeping Faith, Accepting Charity, Disrupting Harmony and Losing Patience. In addition, Kara Lynn was nominated for Favorite Author.

I talked to Kara earlier today and she was very honored to have been recognized in this way, among so many other wonderful authors. She asked that I include a huge thanks to her editor and cover artist, Nicola Martinez and added "Remember earlier this year when I complained about how much work this series was? mind."

Don't forget, a new free Orchard Hill story was recently posted on Kara's website - An Angel's Advice. Please stop by and enjoy this short holiday story.

Cora Applebaum

Monday, December 22, 2008

Merry Christmas from Orchard Hill

Well, with only a few days left to get ready for Christmas, almost everyone needs a break - but make it a short one because there's still presents to wrap and cards to mail and goodness knows what else to do.

In the midst of all that, Kara and I invite you to sit back and relax for a few minutes with a gift from Orchard Hill. The last Orchard Hill story, a free read has been posted at Kara's website. "An Angel's Advice" is the story of how Ian and Lily from "Considering Lily" finally get engaged. It involves a snowstorm, an angel, Santa Claus and a little glitter glue. I'm sure you'll love it.

And once you're finished, you'd better get going again. Those Christmas cookies won't bake themselves you know.

Wishing you peace and joy this Christmas,
Cora Applebaum

Sunday, December 14, 2008

A Year in Orchad Hill

Hello Everyone,

The tree is up, the gifts have been made and bought, there are Christmas cut-outs in my cookie jar. It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

"Finding Joy," the final installment in the Orchard Hill Romance series has been released and we are officially coming to an end of our year in Orchard Hill.

But it's not quite over yet. I know Cora has a few things she'd like to say. Plus, some might have noticed that there's something missing. I wrote "proposal" stories for Gracie and Riley, and for Angel and Jeff. Ian and Lily still need to have their story told.

My goal was to have their story finished by Thanksgiving, but that is long past and I'm still not done. Some edits for a novel that's being released next year got in the way. My new goal is to be finished by the end of this week. So watch for an announcement about Ian and Lily's story being posted on my website. Plus, there may be a few other surprises coming.

If you haven't yet read the other free Orchard Hill reads, you can find Riley and Gracie's story "A Long Silly Love Chase" on my website at "Catching the Bouquet," Jeff and Angel's story is available at The Wild Rose Press. (I've also heard that WRP has some fabulous free Christmas stories availble.)

Enjoy this blessed season,


Wednesday, December 10, 2008

I'm over at Cindy's

Hey everyone,
Come and join the Christmas Jubilee at author Cindy K. Green's blog. Every day this week she has excerpts, interviews, recipes and more from some great authors. My contributions will be up tomorrow.
See you there,

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Cindy K. Green's Christmas Celebration

December 8th to the 14th -- Come one, Come all to a special Christmas Book giveaway event. Make sure to pop in everyday for a chance to win. There will be lots going on everyday--all day long.

White Christmas Book Jubilee

14 Authors ~ 14 Holiday Book Giveaways

December 8th to December 14th

Free Books, Holiday Recipes, and Excerpts to warm you to the tips of your toes

Don’t miss the celebration!


Monday, December 8th – Rose Ross Zediker & Jan Scarbrough

Tuesday, December 9th – Pamela Thibodeaux & Linda Swift

Wednesday, December 10th – Cindy K. Green & Sarita Leone

Thursday, December 11th – Kara Lynn Russell & Anna Kathryn Lanier

Friday, December 12th – Marianne Arkins & Stacey Joy Netzel

Saturday, December 13th – Nan Jacobs & Teri Wilson

Sunday, December 14th – Stacy Dawn & Carla Rossi

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

White Rose Christmas Celebration

It's time to get out the tinsel and the mistletoe because the White Roses in Bloom are ready to celebrate Christmas! Watch for special posts all through the month on our blog in which your favorite White Rose authors share stories, tips, recipes and more to help you get ready for Christmas. You won't want to miss it. It will be much more relaxing than a trip to the mall.

Come back often this month to join in the celebration!


Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Gift Basket Winner!

Good Morning All!
Kara Lynn asked me to announce the winner of her birthday drawing. As if I don’t have enough to do on the day before Thanksgiving, but oh well. My son is home for the holiday and it’s not that I don’t appreciate the visit, but…

Here is Wisconsin Thanksgiving is secondary. The real focus of the season is deer hunting season. My son brought several of his friends with them and they’ve been out in the woods every day. They get up at five a.m., bang around my kitchen, leave me a mess and then they’re off. They come home after dark, all smelly and sweaty, and expect me to have supper ready. I’m getting too old for this. I’m well past the age when I should be packing lunches and picking up dirty socks.

Not to mention that they’ve scared my poor cat nearly half to death. As soon as those lumbering oafs burst into my home, she skedaddled to under my bed and I don’t think she’s been out since. I can’t even convince her to go out for her nightly prowl.

So tomorrow is Thanksgiving and in the middle of all this chaos I’m supposed to produce a magnificent feast for this crowd. If they think they’re going to go sit in the woods all day and then come home to find a hot meal waiting for them, they have another think coming. I’ve got enough aprons and potato peelers to go around. If they aren’t interested in helping, I’m off to the church’s Thanksgiving supper and they can be on their own.

Wait. What were we talking about? Oh yes, the winner of the gift basket. I know Kara enjoyed her party immensely, even though I don’t see any sense in going to this sort of party. I mean, there’s not even any cake! But on the other hand, no one had to bring a gift. Anyway, the winner of the gift basket is Laurel Bradley. Laurel just happens to be another Wild Rose Press author. She wrote a fantastic romance called Crème Brulee Upset. Congratulations Laurel!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Cora Applebaum

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Gift Basket Giveaway

Thank you everyone who has left me their good wishes for my birthday. You have all been entered in the drawing for my Orchard Hill gift basket. Among other things that basket contains an apple scented candle, two amigurumi apples that I crocheted myself, a Christmas doily that my grandmother crocheted, and a copy of my Christmas book Nick and Noelle.

Now, I know what you're thinking. Nick and Noelle is not an Orchard Hills story. But Cora Applebaum, a well known Orchard Hill resident has endorsed it. Actually Cora told me she may be dropping into the party later today.

In the meantime, I thought I'd give you a little taste of Nick and Noelle:

“What I want,” the pastor stated “is for you two to learn how to get along. Separately you both have much to offer the church. Together – you’re a disaster waiting to happen.”

Nick and Noelle have been in competition against each other from their Christmas day births to their present adulthood. After their rivalry causes chaos at a youth group event, Pastor Thorn assigns Nick and Noelle the task of decorating the church for Christmas. Can Nick and Noelle cooperate? Will they end up killing each other – or maybe kissing each other?

Nick straightened and turned toward Noelle. “I think we should do this.”

She considered, trying to estimate how much more damage they could do to the church if things went wrong.

“We can get along,” Nick sat up in his chair again, enthusiasm building on his face. “In fact…”

“In fact what?”

“I challenge you.”

Noelle covered her face with her hands and slumped down in her chair. A challenge. He was already making it into a competition. “Challenge me to what?”
He grinned at her, a vast improvement over the scowl he’d been wearing. “To get along with me, of course.”

“That’s ridiculous.”

“You don’t think you can do it, do you?” he teased.

She might as well be back in grade school. Noelle had to resist the urge to stick her tongue out at Nick. “I can so.”

“Prove it.”

Monday, November 24, 2008

Let The Celebration Begin!

Tomorrow is my birthday, the big 4-O and since I can't avoid it, I'm going to celebrate all I can.

My celebration plans include spending much of the day in bed watching my favorite old sit-coms on TV, letting my husband make dinner (husband + dinner = take out)and sharing the raspberry cream cheese pie that I bought from my daughter's class fundraiser in place of a cake. I'll celebrate with my family on Thanksgiving.

You may also want to stop by the White Roses in Bloom blog. I posted an entry there on why I'm not depressed over turning 40.

My celebration also includes checking my blog frequently to reply to any comments you might leave and, after tomorrow, to draw a winner for my Orchard Hill gift basket. To enter, all you need to do is to leave a comment on my blog. Please be sure to include your email address in case you win.

I can't wait to hear from you all. Let the celebration begin!


Monday, November 17, 2008

Finding Joy Releases Wednesday

Hello Everyone,
This is Cora here in Orchard Hill. Thanksgiving is coming up fast. Before the leftovers are gone we'll be swept up in Christmas preparations - sending cards, buying gifts, the annual quilter's circle Christmas Tea and so on. Before all the activity starts, it would be smart to enjoy the quiet with a good book or two.

Finding Joy, the final story in the Orchard Hill Romance series will be released from The Wild Rose Press on Wednesday. Kara sent me a blurb and excerpt to post for you -

Shy, timid Joy Harper, the organist for Orchard Hill Community Church has long been overlooked by Pastor Isaac. Then Pansy Parker announces she’s retiring and Joy is asked to fill in as secretary. With an unusually large number of weddings coming up and the Christmas holidays looming, Joy and Isaac put in a lot of hours together and he discovers a beautiful and caring woman beneath Joy’s reserved façade. Can he convince her that the only gift he wants for Christmas is her heart?

Excerpt (Isaac goes to Joy's house to ask about her filling in for Pansy)

“May I speak with Joy?”

“Certainly.” The woman led him to a room that reminded him of a Victorian parlor. “She’s filling the bird feeders, but I’ll call her in.”

The large window at one end of the room drew Isaac. It had a view of the back yard. There seemed to be plenty of bird feeders to fill. And they must need to be filled often he guessed. It was one busy bird restaurant out there. A broad lawn sloped down and away from the house. There were beds that must have flowers during summer and walks flanked by concrete planters. The lawn was also dotted with mature trees and shrubs, which no doubt, attracted the birds.

Then he saw her. Joy was standing completely still, the sunshine turning her hair to gold. A chickadee flew down to her outstretched hand and took some of the seed she offered. When the tiny ball of fluff took flight, another eagerly took his place.

Joy’s face was alight with happiness, and she looked more like an angel than ever, standing there with birds fluttering all around her. A brilliant red cardinal rested briefly on her shoulder and then flew away again. She laughed, and Isaac’s heart skipped a beat. What was he doing here?

Thanks for reading!

Monday, November 10, 2008

My Gift Basket Giveaway

I'm giving away this Orchard Hill themed gift basket. To win, just stop by my blog and wish me a happy birthday on November 24th or 25th. Make sure to leave your contact info in case you win. I'll draw a name on November 26th.

The basket contains:
A copy of Nick and Noelle (I know this isn't an Orchard Hill Romance, but Cora Applebaum, an Orchard Hill resident recommends it.)

Two Amigurmi apples, one red and one green. Amigurumi refers to the Japanese craft of creating small, cute figures. These are crocheted by me.

A red, green and white doily, made by grandmother.

A spiced apple candle in a tin.

Aspen Mulling spices for some holiday cider.

Several Orchard Hill bookmarks - so you can share with your friends

And a few other surprises. I hope I'll hear from you on the 24th or 25th.


Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Losing Patience Released Today

Losing Patience, the eighth story in my Orchard Hill Romance Series was released today from the Wild Rose Press.

Shaun Thiesen’s jealous nature and quick temper drove his wife Patience away. Since then he’s been through counseling with Pastor Isaac and gotten involved with the church. Now he’s just waiting for his second chance. When he learns Patience is visiting her parents for Thanksgiving, he thinks this may be it. In only a few precious days he has to win back his wife, and suddenly the stakes are raised when Patience tells him he’s going to be a father. Can Shaun show convince her they deserve a second chance?

Excerpt - Shaun and Patience's first meeting after their separation

He couldn’t believe how beautiful she was, with her long blonde hair hanging loose and that sweet smile lighting up her face as she walked towards him. She couldn’t be here to tell him she wanted a divorce if she smiled at him like that, could she?

Then his gaze dropped and... He tried to comprehend what he was seeing. Patience, his wife was...going to have a baby. His baby. He was going to be a father. And she hadn’t told him.

A wave of confusion, hurt, betrayal, fear broke over him. A slow burning sensation he knew well surged, pulsing in his temples—anger.

Patience stopped, and her eyes filled with tears. The look on her face made him hesitate. He’d driven her away with his ungovernable temper. If he lost it now, she’d run again. He knew he didn’t want that. But he knew he couldn’t contain his anger either. If he stayed, he would explode. So he turned around and left.

Thanks for reading!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

November News

Can you believe it's November already? This is a great time of year. I love the cool, crisp feel to the air, the spicy cranberry and pumpkin scents and flavors and the family gathering for Thanksgiving. November is also my birthday month. This year I find myself looking forward to that day with less enthusiasm than usual. Looming ahead is the dreaded Milestone Birthday. One of those that end with a (shudder) zero.

I've looked at this problem from every angle and decided there's no way I can avoid this event. So I might as well celebrate. One of the best things about birthdays is presents. Since I don't think everyone out in cyberspace is going to send me a birthday present, I've decided to give one instead.

In honor of my Orchard Hill Romance series, which will soon be drawing to a close, I created a gift basket. Stop by my blog November 24th or 25th to wish me a happy birthday, and you'll be entered in a drawing for my gift basket.

What's in the basket? Stay tuned for more information. Cora will post a picture and a description next week.


Saturday, October 25, 2008

The End is Near!

Hello All,
I hope you've been enjoying the fall colors. They are about finished here in Orchard Hill. All that's left is raking leaves.

Our official chronicler, Kara Lynn Russell tells me the final story in her series is completed. That's right, it's been written down who, for once and for all, won the matchmaker's contest. Of course I know who the winner was, but I'm not talking. You'll just have to wait and see for yourself.

Just as I'm sorry to see this year coming to an end, I'm glad I was here to enjoy it. At my age, you never know if you'll be here to see the next season.

I'm also sorry to see the end in site for the Orchard Hill series. I'll miss having all of you to visit with. You're such good listeners. But there's still plenty of story left to tell and fun to be had.

Next month, November, is Kara's birthday. I wouldn't want to say too much, but I hear it's one of those annoying birthdays that ends in '0.' I'm figuring Kara might need some cheering up, so I'm going to try to convince her to plan some festive events in November. Check back for news on the final two Orchard Hill stories, Losing Patience and Finding Joy. Plus, Kara will post the engagement story for Lily and Ian (Considering Lily) as a free read. Watch for news of "A Gift from St. Nick."

See you in November,
Cora Applebaum

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

New White Rose Portal

The Wild Rose Press has created a new portal to their site made specifically for readers looking for inspirational romance. It was suggested to the owners that some readers may find certain titles on the main site offensive so they have responded by creating this portal, which leads directly to their "White Rose" inspirational line. It also allows access to the rest of The Wild Rose Press catalog, if the viewer so desires. In addition the portal provides links to the White Rose "coming soon" page and submission guidelines.

Stop by and visit at They have up blurbs and covers from some of the newest White Rose releases. I especially love the cover for "Relationship Rescue" by Cindy K. Green. As much as I love the cover, I have to admit the story it represents is even better.

I hope you'll find your way to our new address!


Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Holidays are Coming

Fall has definitely arrived here in Wisconsin. We're trading in shorts and t-shirts for jeans and sweatshirts. But nature is putting on its usual show of brilliantly colored leaves for us.

When fall arrives, it's certain that the holiday season is right behind. Kara has assured me that the holidays will be celebrated in the final three stories in her Orchard Hill series. The recently release Disrupting Harmony covers Halloween. Will Harmony be able to tame Joseph's terrible trio with the promise of fabulous costumes for the church's harvest celebration?

Next month Losing Patience will be released. Shaun Thiesen is planning on refusing his mother's invitation to Thanksgiving dinner. He's not ready to get over the hurt she caused him. Unexpectedly, his estranged wife shows up and -surprise- he finds out he's about to become a father. Suddenly making peace with both his mother and his wife become top priority.

Finally, in December the series will come to a close with Finding Joy. December is one of the busiest months of the year for Isaac, especially this year with so many weddings coming up and so many couples to provide pre-marriage counseling for. When church secretary Pansy Parker quits to prepare for her own wedding, Isaac thinks he is doomed. Pansy convinces painfully shy but fabulously talented musician Joy Harper to fill in for her. Isaac is sure this will be a disaster. Not only is Joy lacking in both secretarial and people skills, but he's had a secret crush on her for years.

And of course, you'll finally discover who wins the matchmaker contest in Finding Joy. I know, but my lips are sealed. Anyone care to take a guess at whether the winner will be Pansy or Misty?

That's all for now.
Cora Applebaum

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Disrupting Harmony Available Soon

Harmony Solberg is happy with her quiet, orderly existence. Then Joseph Velasquez and his brood of noisy children, teenagers move next door, shattering her peace. Against her will, she’s drawn into the children’s lives. Soon she’s sewing Halloween costumes and helping out with the church’s fall harvest party. Harmony realizes that she’d rather have a loud, chaotic life with Joseph and family than go back to her lonely old life but Joseph doesn’t seem to think she’s cut out for it. Will she be able to convince him, with a few tricks and maybe a treat or two?

True Love Never Runs Smoothly

Hope was very nice about the whole thing, considering that Joseph just showed up on her doorstep with Harmony that evening. Her eyes grew big when she opened the door and saw her brother with an overnight bag in one hand. With his other hand, he was holding onto the arm of a clearly outraged Harmony.

“Can Harmony stay with you tonight?” he asked abruptly.

“Um…sure.” She took a step back and motioned them inside. “Come in. Oliver and I were just watching a movie.”

Harmony glared at Joseph. “You see, she’s busy. I’ll be fine at my house.”

“Ignore her,” Joseph ordered his sister. “She needs a place to stay for the night, and she won’t stay at my house.”

Hope’s mouth dropped open and her gaze went back and forth between them. She obviously wanted to say something but was at a loss.

Oliver stuck his head out of the living room and said, “Hi Joseph, Harmony.”

“I’m sorry to interrupt your evening, Oliver,” said Harmony, with a scorching glance at Joseph. “But I wasn’t given much choice.”

“Is…is there a problem at Harmony’s?” asked Hope, a bit timidly.

“Yes,” replied Joseph at exactly the same time that Harmony said “No.”

Hope and Oliver exchanged looks. “Which is it?” Oliver ventured.

Harmony’s eyes narrowed and she pointed at Joseph. “The only problem is that my bathroom no longer has a door.”

Joseph’s face darkened further, which Harmony thought a remarkable feat. “If you had come out when I asked you, I wouldn’t have had to take it off the hinges.”

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Back to School Time

Cora here. I've finally caught up on all my reading so I'm back to report on the happenings in Orchard Hill.

School started last week. Now every morning I see children walking by my house on their way to the bus stop on the corner. (By the way, Tommy Jenkins, I know you're the one that's been teasing the new boy. You'd better knock it off or I'll let your mother know.) These kids have a happy school to go to this year, I'm guessing, after all the romances its employees found this summer.

At the end of the last school year, our elementary school principal, Andrew Thomas finally realized he loved his secretary Faith Fielding. The whole town knew she'd been in love with him for years, but apparently this intelligent, educated man didn't know his own feelings until Faith threatened to quit. Now Faith's got a ring on her finger and a smile on her face. Andrew looks pretty happy, too. What would he have done if his daughter and Faith's son hadn't stepped in to give him a little nudge in the right direction?

Then there was an unexpected development between gym teacher Oliver Lawrence and school librarian Hope Velasquez. We were all convinced that Oliver couldn't stand Hope. Boy, were we wrong! Their courtship was a field day for the town gossips. (I don't go in for that sort of stuff myself, but I admit to taking a concerned interest in my neighbors and Faith lives across the street from me.) Although they had a rocky start, Oliver and Hope are happy together now. Their engagement announcement took everyone by surprise, especially Hope's brother Joseph. I don't think Joseph is convinced that Oliver is good enough for his sister. This situation may not be resolved yet!

And then there's speech therapist Sarah Rogers. She offered to help David Daniels with his niece Charity. The poor man's sister passed away and left him as guardian to Charity. He didn't have a clue about how to deal with children, never mind one that has a disability. Anyone could see that they made the perfect family - anyone but Sarah that is! David had quite a time convincing her that he loved her for herself and not because she was great with Charity. You should see the ring she's wearing now! That diamond is so big I'm surprised Sarah doesn't need a wheelbarrow to haul it around in. In most cases I'd say that was just plain showing off, but Sarah deserves it. She's such a sweet girl and she had such a hard start in life. David really wanted to show her how much she meant to him.

You can read the stories of all three couples in Kara Lynn Russell's stories - "Keeping Faith," "Enduring Hope," and "Accepting Charity." All are available at the Wild Rose Press.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Looking Forward in Orchard Hill

Accepting Charity is doing well - it's number one on The Wild Rose Press's inspirational bestseller list! It is number six in a nine story series. That means the final three are coming up yet. Those three revolve around events at the Orchard Hill Community Church and the three big holidays - Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Here's a little sneak peak:
#7 - Disrupting Harmony - Former television show host and expert homemaker Harmony Solberg is happy with her quiet, orderly existence. Then Joseph Velasquez and his brood of noisy children and teenagers move next door, shattering her peace. Against her will, she’s drawn into their lives. Soon she’s sewing Halloween costumes and helping out with the church’s Harvest Celebration. Harmony realizes that she’d rather have a loud, chaotic life with Joseph and family than go back to her picture-perfect, but lonely, old life. Then she receives an offer to host a new television show. Will she chose fame and fortune or home and family? You can read an excerpt from Disrupting Harmony at my website:

#8 - Losing Patience - Shaun Thiesen’s jealous nature and quick temper drove his wife Patience away. Since then he’s been through counseling with Pastor Isaac and gotten involved with the church. Now he’s just waiting for his second chance. When he learns Patience is visiting her parents for Thanksgiving, he thinks this may be it. In only a few precious days he has to win back his wife, and suddenly the stakes are raised when Patience tells him he’s going to be a father. Can Shaun show Patience they deserve a second chance? Losing Patience has a little different tone to it. It's a little more serious than the other stories but I'm really happy with how it turned out. I'll put up an excerpt on my website soon.

#9 - Finding Joy - Shy, timid Joy Harper, the organist for Orchard Hill Community Church has long been overlooked by Pastor Isaac. Then Pansy Parker announces she’s retiring and Joy is asked to fill in as secretary. With an unusually large number of weddings coming up and the Christmas holidays looming, Joy and Isaac put in a lot of hours together and he discovers a beautiful and caring woman beneath Joy’s reserved façade. Can he convince her that the only gift he wants for Christmas is her heart? I believe this will wrap up the series nicely. Look for favorite characters from all the other Orchard Hill stories to make appearances.

Extra! - I'll also be putting out another free read about Ian and Lily from Considering Lily. In spite of Lily's gun shy attitude about relationships and marriage, they may just end up saying "I Do."

What comes after? I thought I'd be happy to see the end of Orchard Hill by the time I'd written all these stories. But I'm not. The characters have all become friends. (One good thing about being a writer. You're never lonely with all these people in your head to talk to.) I may have an idea for at least one more Orchard Hill story. As the saying goes "first comes love, then comes marriage..." We all know what comes after that!


Thursday, August 21, 2008

Accepting Charity is released!

"Accepting Charity" is now available from The Wild Rose Press. The sixth story in this series is the only one that doesn't feature the heroine's name in the title. So who's Charity, you ask? She's an adorable three year old whose mother has recently passed away. Her uncle, the hero of our story, is her new guardian. Only he doesn't know a lot about children in general, and he certainly doesn't know anything about raising a child who has special needs.

Charity has verbal developmental dyspraxia, which makes speaking very difficult for her. You can find out more about developmental dyspraxia in this Wikipedia article, which has links to more scholarly sites if you are not a Wikipedia person.

The inspiration for Charity was a beautiful little girl that I had the pleasure of knowing a few years ago when I worked as an aide in an early childhood classroom. She was bright, sweet, helpful, and very loving. But it was difficult for her to get more than one or two words out at a time. Fortunately there are programs such as Birth to Three and Early Childhood that can get children like Charity help when they are very little. These special needs kids work very hard but they have the hope of a bright future ahead of them, thanks to devoted teachers and therapists.

"Accepting Charity" is dedicated to one of those teachers. She was my daughter's birth to three teacher and also became one of my best friends. She always went above and beyond the call of duty for her students and their families. So here I'm formally saying "Thank you Theresa! We love you!"


Monday, August 18, 2008

Interview with Author Sarita Leone

People have been telling me I need more variety on my blog here. What do they expect? Orchard Hill is a small town. It's not like there's that much to report. At least that I can make public on the internet, but if you ever stop by for coffee...

Anyway, to satisfy those critics, I've invited author Sarita Leone to tell us a little about herself and her work. Welcome Sarita.

Thank you so much for having me here, Cora. I'm thrilled to have this opportunity to chat with you!

Sarita, Tell us a little about yourself.

I don't know how else to say this so I'm just going to come out with it: I'm a very ordinary woman. Wonderfully blessed, incredibly happy, but really very ordinary. I've been married to the same amazing man for many years. We live in an old farmhouse in the middle of nowhere. Our days are spent puttering around the house and grounds. In my spare time I sew, work on needlecrafts, draw and read. Together my husband and I garden, hike and go rowing in the summer and in the winter we eat the fruits of our summer gardening endeavors, snowshoe and play a lot of chess. And I write every morning before the day "officially" begins. Like I said, I am pretty typical. I could be anyone, anywhere. Nothing spectacular here. Just an average woman leading a very satisfying life, and feeling very fortunate to be doing so.

I understand there's a ghost in your upcoming release Legal Tender. Can you tell us a little about her?

Granny Walker is a wise-cracking, advice-giving ghost who just won't move gracefully to the hereafter. She's passed on in an unfortunate manner, leaving a will that has so many stipulations to it she feels her granddaughter may still need her around—so she stays. Granny dispenses advice right and left about her farm and the way it should be run but mostly she comments on Lindy's love life. You see, in Granny's heart she just wants Lindy to be she tries to "nudge" her granddaughter toward finding true love and contentment.

Lindy, your heroine in Legal Tender is a city girl who's stuck in the country. What adjustments does she have to make?

Poor Lindy! She has to give up so much to fulfill the stipulations of Granny's will! She moves from the city to the farm and stays put while her sometimes boyfriend takes the dream trip to Europe they'd been planning. As if that's not enough, Lindy's got to learn the ins and outs of running a successful strawberry and apple operation. She's gone from taking the subway to driving a tractor, but she's managed to do it gracefully. Lindy's one of the strongest heroines I've written so far.

Legal Tender is a mystery. What does Lindy need to find out?

So many things, really. There's a cloud surrounding Granny's death that needs to be dispelled. Also, her cousin Jenna has an agenda for the farm which she must unravel. And maybe the most important mystery for Lindy to deal with is the one that we all deal with at one time or another...the search for self. Lindy makes some big changes, takes quite a few leaps of faith, but she's still faced with serious issues. She's got to decide who she is, where she's going, and what she wants. And she must discover the mystery of her own heart—something that isn't always easy, even when the heart in question is one's own.

Your book is also a romance. Give us the scoop on that.

One of the stipulations in Granny Walker's will is that Lindy will marry within two years. So Lindy--with an other-worldly push from her grandmother—sets about finding true love. She's got to fulfill the legal obligation but, more importantly, she must satisfy the demands of her heart. Lindy is determined to find romance and love or forfeit her inheritance. Even with three men vying for her attention Lindy takes her time deciding whether or not any of the men she's got feelings for are "Mr. Right."

When and where can I buy this book?

Legal Tender will be released from Whiskey Creek Press on September 1st.

Signed copies are available for pre-order through my blog, From the Heart. The email address for pre-orders is

September 1st! I can't wait that long. What other books do you have out?

Snowdance, my first book, is the story of a woman's life, told by the nearly 100-year-old woman herself. Elinor Montoya is one of those ladies who lives an extraordinary life—ordinarily—and tells about it, through letters and reminiscences on a snowy afternoon.

Vineyard Mambo is a cozy romantic mystery. When a body is found in the quiet little town of Milton Falls, librarian Anna Romeo decides that murder and mayhem won't do—not in her town. She sets out to discover who's killing people, setting fires and causing so much disruption that the annual Zucchini Festival may be postponed. Anna loves the festival, and her friends and neighbors, and won't rest until order is restored. This is the first Anna Romeo mystery. I have a feeling Anna and her brilliant cat, Merlot, may make more appearances on the bookshelf.

Sniffing Sand is the first in a series of romantic mysteries set on the small island of Chincoteague, Virginia. When Nina's husband leaves her alone in their new, gorgeous beach house, she has to decide how she's going to pick up the pieces of her chaotic life and move forward. She seems to be doing that—until a body turns up on the beach, practically outside her back door! With the help of a handsome police chief and her best friend since childhood, Nina learns that sometimes even the most shocking events in life can be turned into something good. It's a story of overcoming and uncovering, island-style. The second book in this series, Sandswept, releases in December.

Cora, thank you so much for having me here. I've enjoyed this visit more than I can say!

Me too, Sarita. If you're ever in Orchard Hill stop by and we'll have coffee. Then I'll give you the scoop on what I can't print on my blog!

For more information on Sarita Leone and her work visit her website - - or her wonderful blog - From the Heart

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

5 Star Review for Accepting Charity

Manic Readers gave "Accepting Charity" a 5 star review. Thank you Valerie for a great review!

Scroll down to Monday's entry for an excerpt from "Accepting Charity." This story will be released next Wednesday from The Wild Rose Press.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Accepting Charity coming Soon

It's time for the next Orchard Hill story to be released and so Kara Lynn sent me an excerpt to post. This is a really good one. That Sarah deserves a great guy like David. And little Charity deserves to have great parents like her uncle and his new wife-to-be. I've heard tell that they staged a fake engagement to fool that lady that wanted to take Charity away from David. Who knows? However it started, it sure is real now.

Sarah reached for the door handle, but before she opened it, David spoke again. “One
more thing.”


“What about physical stuff.”

“What do you mean?”

“You know, engaged people hold hands and hug and…”

“And kiss.” Sarah groaned. “How did everything get so out of control?”

David knew he was treading on dangerous ground, but he couldn’t seem to stop himself. “Maybe we should practice?”


“Yeah. I think we should try a practice kiss, so the first time we have to kiss in public, it won’t be so awkward.”

“Why would we have to kiss in public?”

“Because that’s what people who are in love do, Sarah. I’m not saying we have to put on an exhibition, but we should at least kiss each other hello and good-bye.”

Sarah looked doubtful. “I suppose.”

“So I think we should practice.”


“How about right here, right now.”

“Are you serious?”

“Totally. Trust me, this is the best thing to do. We’ll just get it over with and then the next time won’t be so awkward.”

Sarah considered. “Maybe you’re right.”

“I know I am.” He reached across the seat and took Sarah in his arms.

She giggled nervously. “This is ridiculous.”

“Usually I get to kiss a girl before she laughs at me.”

“I’m not laughing at you. Just the situation.”

“Enough talk. How about some action?” he teased.

David’s only intention had been to steal a simple kiss, but the moment his lips touched hers, he knew nothing would ever be simple between them. Instead of letting go, he pulled her even closer. She felt perfect in his arms. The world faded away, and he was aware of nothing but Sarah. He felt her heart beating against his chest, her form filling his arms, her lips moving against his. The word ‘home’ drifted
into his mind.


Maybe that's a good place to leave off. Is it just me or is it getting hot in here? Anyway, come back soon to hear about Sarita Leone's latest release Legal Tender.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Back to School Reading Tips from Hope

Hi Everyone,
Cora asked me to fill in for her today. It seems she downloaded a few too many new ebooks and doesn't have time to do the blog today. I thought this might be a great opportunity for me to talk about reading.

As a school librarian, I get questions all the time on what kids should be reading. I don't have a specific list of titles that your child should read, but I have a few ideas I'd like to express.

First of all, everyone can be a reader. If your child is not reading there's a reason. He or she is not enjoying it! No one is going to read because it is good for them. But they will read if they find it fun or interesting.

The same book doesn't fit every child, just as the same pair of shoes wouldn't fit every child. There a wide range of differences in a child's ability, attention span, and preferred learning style. Fortunately there's also a wide range of options in how we read these days. Traditional print media is very important, but if your child isn't enjoying it, you may need to let them try something else for a while. Using alternate formats doesn't stop a child from reading print books. It is more likely to encourage it than anything else. So feel free to let your children try:
1. Audio Books
2. Graphic Novels
3. Ebooks
4. Magazines
5. Print books in non-traditional format. There are many nonfiction books out now that feature great illustrations and photos and have information broken up into bite-size chunks. A hybrid of novel and comic book has appeared recently in such works as Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney.
5. DVDs - No, DVDs don't count as reading, but you could use them to springboard your child's interest in reading the book the movie was based on, or offer watching the DVD as a reward for reading the book.

My final suggestion - take your kids to the library and see all of what there is to offer. There's a type of book out there for everyone that will make reading enjoyable for them and librarians are excellent at figuring this sort of thing out. How about planning a trip with your child right now?

Hope Velasquez

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

New Release from Cindy K. Green

Hello everyone,
I know its been a while since you've heard from me. I've been visiting with my sister in Michigan. This is what I have to say about that: "There's no place like home." I love my sister, but being dragged to every blessed yard sale and flea market within a hundred mile radius of her house is not my idea of a vacation.

I did get to have a nice visit with my niece and her family. My niece said that since I was getting so handy with a computer I should try some of these ebook things. She showed me how to download books from The Wild Rose Press site where Kara Lynn Russell's Orchard Hill stories are published. Ha! Now I can download them and see if she got the facts right. I might even enter the Wild Rose Press contest to win a Sony ebook reader. I wish I'd had one of those while I waiting for my sister to finish wandering around those flea markets.

I just finished reading "A Night of NovelTea" by Cindy K. Green and it was very well done. If I were a few years younger, I would have gone chasing after that Grant fellow myself. Let's just say that when all was said and done, I bet Juliet decided that dumpster incident was worth it.

Today I see that the sequel "NovelTea Next Door" has been released. I just have to see what happens to Grant and Juliet next.

So I'm going to put up my feet (my bunions are still hurting from walking around all those yard sales!) and have a good read.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Belle's Two Cents

Hi, Belle here. Last, as usual. I hate being the youngest. Dori and Lucy never listen to me, even if I'm only a few minutes younger and not like years younger than they are.

We are on summer vacation right now and every week Aunt Hope takes us to the library. Dori complains that it's boring there and Lucy just wants to check out DVDs. They are so lame. I love going to the library. This year the summer reading theme is "Catch the Reading Bug." I don't like bugs, but I do like books. Maybe someday I'll be a librarian like Aunt Hope. Or maybe I'll write the books that are in the library.

Lucy says she wants to be a nurse when she grows up. She thinks working in a hospital would be exciting. Dori just says she wants to be rich. Talk about lame.

Still sometimes it is good to have Dori and Lucy around. I always have someone to play with, even if we have to play what Dori wants. And if someone is bothering my at school, like that bully Mindy Anderson, Dori always makes them quit. I guess it would have been scary to be all alone when Mom got sick, too.

Maybe it's not so bad being a triplet. Sometimes.


Thursday, July 10, 2008

I'm Lucy. If you read my sister Dori's post before mine, you know that we and our other sister Belle are living with my Uncle Joseph's family while my mom is away.

Don't tell Dori I said so, but I think we are really lucky. It's bad that our mom is sick and had to go away. It's good that we have Uncle Joseph and Aunt Hope to take care of us. In fact, Uncle Joseph and Aunt Hope have even had arguments over who should get to keep us.

This is really amazing because Dori, who always has to be the boss, is very good at getting us into trouble. Her ideas sound good to start with, but somehow they don't end up that way. Like the time we hid on Aunt Hope and she got scared. We made her cry, which is bad.

Aunt Hope is getting married to a man named Oliver. We weren't sure we'd like him at first because he told us a lie. But he also takes us with him and Aunt Hope for ice cream and I love ice cream, so I guess he's all right. Oliver is our gym teacher at school and we have to call him Mr. Laurence there. He'll be Uncle Oliver after he and Aunt Hope get married. Aunt Hope says we can be flower girls at her wedding.

Dori says she'll get to go down the aisle first because she's the oldest. I don't see what that's got to do with anything. Just because she was born first, it doesn't mean she can go first at everything our entire lives! I asked her if she'd ever heard of taking turns and she said that didn't count for triplets.

Oh well. At least I'll get to wear a pretty dress and carry a basket full of rose petals or something like that. Aunt Hope says we can get our hair and nails done, too. I will feel just like a princess, I think.

That's all I have to say.


Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Terrible Trio Blogging this Week

This is Dori. You may have read a little about me and my sisters in "Enduring Hope." We're triplets named Dori, Lucy and Belle. Our mom has been sick so we live with our Uncle Joseph for now. Ms. Russell asked us each to write a little bit about Orchard Hill since Ms. Applebaum is on vacation, visiting her sister in Michigan.

Ms. Russell is helping me with the spelling and stuff like that. I'm not so good at that, but we're only going into second grade this fall, so give me a break. Belle thinks she should get to write first because she is good at that stuff, but I'm the oldest so I always get to go first. I keep telling her that's the law, but she doesn't believe me.

So, what do I think of Orchard Hill? It's a dumb place to live. I hate it here and I want my mother back. But it is sort of nice at Uncle Joseph's. There's always someone around if we need them. And no one ever forgets to buy food or toilet paper or stuff like that. And we really like being with Abby. She's our older cousin. She knows all this cool stuff, like how to drive. She'll be getting her license soon. She doesn't know anything about make up though, because Uncle Joseph won't let her wear any. Sometimes Uncle Joseph is a real party pooper.

He has rules about everything. He says what time we go to bed and how much TV we can watch and how many vegetables we have to eat before we can have desert. He is a tyrant. I learned that word in school last year. It means he's really bossy and makes you do everything he wants you to. He even makes us go to church - every single Sunday.

Then there are the boys. They are Abby's brothers, Noah and Peter. Noah is old, like almost eighteen. He doesn't pay much attention to us. Sometimes Peter will play with us, but mostly he says he's too old, even though he's only fourteen. That's old, but not that old.

So that's my family, except for Aunt Hope, but Lucy wants to write about her, so I guess that's about it for me. Thanks for reading (Uncle Joseph told me I had to say that.)


Monday, June 30, 2008

Accepting Charity on sale August 20th

Kara Lynn has just given me the news that Sarah and David's story will be released from The Wild Rose Press on August 20. I know what you're thinking. If Sarah is the heroine, then who's Charity? Charity is David's niece, who he had unexpectedly become guardian of. David isn't sure if he's ready to be a parent, and Charity has a disability that adds an extra challange. She has - let me see if I can remember what Sarah told me - Developmental Verbal Dyspraxia. This condition makes it difficult for Charity to speak, although she's smart as a whip and understands everything that's going on around her.

I asked Kara Lynn what she knew about the condition. Here's her reply. "I used to work as an aide in an early childhood class. That's a special ed class for three and four year olds. There was a little girl in my class who had the same challange as Charity. She was very sweet and shy, but not being able to talk much is a real problem, even for a three year old. During the summer school session, when we did not have our regular bus drivers, they forgot to drop her off at her house, not once but THREE TIMES! How frightening for her. She was small, so they couldn't see her head above the seats, and she couldn't answer when they called out to see if she was there. Being shy, she was also afraid to draw attention to herself once they passed her house. She was not discovered until after all the other children had been dropped off and by then her mother was frantic, no doubt. But she was a delightful child and very much like Charity in the story. I'm sure she has a bright future."

That about sums it up. Come back soon, and I'm sure Kara will let me post an excerpt from "Accepting Charity."

Cora Applebaum

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Keeping Faith is on the Palm store's Bestseller List!

Well, I don't understand a lot about these newfangled palm pilots and such. To me PDA stands for Pretty Darn Aggravating. But Kara tells me this is good news. "Keeping Faith" is listed as a bestseller at the Palm bookstore. To celebrate, she's asked me to post an excerpt. So here it is -

Andrew has heard a rumor that Faith is quitting her job because she’s having trouble with a man at work and he confronts her about it.

…Andrew moved closer to Faith. His voice was low, but charged with an emotion Faith couldn’t identify. “I don’t know why you’re acting like this Faith, but I’m going to find out. I can’t stand the thought of anyone hurting you.”

She tried to back away, but he caught her hands and held her there. “You don’t know anything about it,” she repeated.

“That’s because you won’t tell me.” He pulled her even closer, and Faith’s heart started to beat faster. “You’re important to me, Faith. I need you.”

She allowed her body to lean into his, and he let go of her hands to put his arms around her. They stood like that for a moment. Faith was sure Andrew was going to kiss her. He lowered his head and said. “You’re the best secretary I’ve ever had.”

Anger flared in Faith. She shoved Andrew away from her. “Go home! Nothing happened that you can solve. It’s my problem and I’ll handle it.”

“By running away?”

“I’m not running away. I’m starting over.”

They glared at each other for a few heated moments. “Fine,” he said. “I’ll leave.” At the door, he turned and added “But I will find out, Faith. You can count on that.”

I'll have some more info on upcoming Orchard Hill stories next week.

Cora Applebaum

Saturday, June 14, 2008

And the Winner is...

Kara Lynn wanted to tell you who the winner of the drawing for the free download of "Enduring Hope" is herself. This entry is from her. I'm taking a well deserved break after a busy week here. I wonder where that cat has gotten to? I may have to go look for her. - Cora

Thank you everyone who took the time to stop by this week. I am overwhelmed by the response. So I’ve decided to give away two copies of “Enduring Hope” rather than one. I had my daughter draw the names. There is nothing like a teenager for complete indifference…I mean objectivity.

And the winners are…..Sarita Leone and Rose Ross Zediker. Congratulations! I'll be contacting you soon.

If you didn’t win, please don’t be disheartened. There are four Orchard Hill stories yet to come. I’ll leave you with a sneak peek at “Accepting Charity” OHR #6. This is the only story that doesn’t refer to the heroine in the title. Keep that in mind in case I ever decide to run an Orchard Hill trivia contest.

David Daniels has been left with custody of his three year old niece on the death of his sister. Misty Green introduces him to Sarah Rogers, a speech therapist at the Orchard Hill Elementary School. Sarah helps David understand the condition that Charity is challenged with – Verbal Developmental Dyspraxia. Her disability makes speech difficult and at times impossible.

Although he loves his niece very much, David doesn’t think he’ll make a good parent because he travels a lot for his job. But when another relative, who is definitely not a fit guardian, makes a bid to adopt Charity he will do anything to prevent it – including entering into a fake engagement with Sarah. But the more time he spends with Sarah, the more he realizes that she’s just what he and Charity both need.

And now for the excerpt:

Sarah reached for the door handle, but before she opened it, David spoke again. “One more thing.”


“What about physical stuff.”

“What do you mean?”

“You know, engaged people hold hands and hug and…”

“And kiss.” Sarah groaned. “How did everything get so out of control?”

David knew he was treading on dangerous ground, but he couldn’t seem to stop himself. “Maybe we should practice?”


“Yeah. I think we should try a practice kiss, so the first time we have to kiss in public, it won’t be so awkward.”

“Why would we have to kiss in public?”

“Because that’s what people who are in love do, Sarah. I’m not saying we have to put on an exhibition, but we should at least kiss each other hello and good-bye.”

Sarah looked doubtful. “I suppose.”

“So I think we should practice.”


“How about right here, right now.”

“Are you serious?”

“Totally. Trust me, this is the best thing to do. We’ll just get it over with and then the next time won’t be so awkward.”

Sarah considered. “Maybe you’re right.”

“I know I am.” He reached across the seat and took Sarah in his arms.

She giggled nervously. “This is ridiculous.”

“Usually I get to kiss a girl before she laughs at me.”

“I’m not laughing at you. Just the situation.”

“Enough talk. How about some action?” he teased.

David’s only intention had been to steal a simple kiss, but the moment his lips touched hers, he knew nothing would ever be simple between them. Instead of letting go, he pulled her even closer. She felt perfect in his arms.

The world faded away, and he was aware of nothing but Sarah. He felt her heart beating against his chest, her form filling his arms, her lips moving against his. The word ‘home’ drifted into his mind.

From what seemed like a long way away, there was a sharp knocking sound. Suddenly Sarah shoved him away. Confused by the abrupt shift back to reality, David blinked and the world swam back into focus. Sarah’s friend Hope was knocking at the window.
“Come on, you two,” she shouted. “You’ll have plenty of time for that later. I’m starving. Let’s go eat.”

Sarah opened the door a crack and said. “We’ll be right there.”

“No way,” Hope insisted. “If we leave, you’ll just go back to what you were doing.”

Oliver stepped in and pulled Hope away. “We’ll be inside,” he called back.

Sarah turned back to David and speared him with a sizzling glare. “Got any more bright ideas?”

You can find more information on Orchard Hill on my website -

Thanks for reading,
Kara Lynn Russell

Friday, June 13, 2008

An Interview with Cindy K. Green

Today I'm talking with Cindy K. Green, author of Meeting Mr. Right Online, recently released from By Grace Publishing.

Cindy, what else have you written?

Actually, I have a long list of titles. By the end of 2008, I’ll have ten releases to my name. With the Wild Rose Press, I’ve written a couple Inspirationals: my full-length novel, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Your Wedding; a short story, Relationship Rescue; and a short Historical novella, Dilemma of the Heart. At The Wild Rose Press, you can also find my romantic suspense NovelTea Series. Book #1 (A Night of NovelTea) is available now and Book #2 (NovelTea Next Door) releases July 30th. From By Grace Publishing, I have several sweet, Inspirational, and even sensual books available including my newest release, Meeting Mr. Right Online, a sweet chicklit novella.

Do you think there are any similarities between your writing and Ms. Russell's?

Yes, I definitely do. In fact, at one time, we both named a character Grace Ryan (which became the heroine in Kara’s Saving Gracie). I’ve been very fortunate to have met Ms. Russell both as a colleague and a friend. We share similar tastes in reading and writing and in that way are able to help and encourage each other. It’s important to have a critique partner who ‘get’s’ you and ‘get’s’ your writing. I’ve been blessed in having that in Kara Russell.

You and Kara are sometimes critique partners. Have you read any of "Enduring Hope," the next Orchard Hill story to be released? And if so, what did you think about it? I only ask because I want to make sure Ms. Russell got the details right.

I have read some of Enduring Hope and look forward to reading the completed version. Hope and Oliver are a fun pair. They seem like complete opposites, but in time you find they do have more in common than originally thought. Ms. Russell always brings something new and fun to each story. I’m always amazed at how varied she is at bringing to life a new couple for us to follow.

Do you have any favorite characters from Orchard Hill?

Gracie and Riley from the first book will always be a favorite. But I can’t wait for everyone to meet David, Sarah and Charity in Accepting Charity which comes out in August. Great story with fun twists.

What are you working on now?

I’m working on a new Inspirational called Romancing Miss Abbot. This book is a romantic comedy as well as Inspirational. Let’s just say that the hero and heroine in this story have a colliding first meeting which ends in him getting a bloody nose. I’m also polishing up a high fantasy romance called The Princess and the Outlaw. And I hope to finish my full-length historical, Redemption of the Heart which is the sequel to Dilemma of the Heart.

Who do you think will win the matchmaker's challenge, Pansy or Misty?

Oooh that's hard to say. They are both doing very well in this contest. It may end up with inconclusive results. ;) aka: a tie!

You can visit Cindy on the web at to find out more about her and her wonderful books. And watch for the short story "The Thing About Temping" to appear soon in the Free Reads section of The Wild Rose Press.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Coffee with Cora at the Grace Place

This is Cora Applebaum again. Thanks for meeting me at the Grace Place. Go ahead and get some coffee and maybe try one of those little pastries that look like cream puffs. They’re called “knee-caps” around here, you know.

OK, you’ve got your coffee now. It smells delicious. And I see you took my advice about the knee caps. Do you really think two, though? Well, it’s not my place to say.

An old woman like myself, I have a lot of time for observing people. But I just keep it all to myself, of course. I’m not one to go around telling tales, you know.

For example, my next door neighbor, Hope Velasquez, has been having an interesting summer. I’ve seen her several times with that new gym teacher Oliver Laurence. Just between the two of us, he’s not hard on the eyes. I see him out running a couple of times a week, in those little shorts he wears. It’s practically indecent, but that’s the way things are today, I guess.

Anyway, this Oliver seems to be interested in Hope, but I don’t think he knows how to show it. There’s been stories…I’ve heard those two snuck off in some corner at a party and then not long after that, he was seen dragging Hope out of the pizza parlor. I don’t know what’s going on there, but I have to tell you, there have been some mighty steamy kisses on her front porch. I only noticed because I was looking for my cat. She usually comes home about the time this happened. You know I’m not nosy or anything.

I wonder what Hope’s best friend Sarah thinks of all this? That girl could use a nice young man to pay attention to her. She’s so sweet, and I’ve heard she’s great with the kids at the elementary. Sarah works there as a speech therapist, you know. There’s just got to be someone out there for her. I was telling Misty Green that the other day and she got this strange look on her face. Now, Misty’s been known to dabble in matchmaking. I wonder if she’s planning something.

Now, there’s no doubt in my mind about how Hope’s brother Joseph feels about all these goings-on. I’ve heard he confronted Oliver about it, in the church building, no less. Joseph’s pretty protective of his little sister. I think Oliver had better watch out.

Unless Joseph gets distracted by those three nieces of his that he took in. Dori, Lucy and Belle are their names, but I hear that at the school, they’re known as the “terrible trio.” It’s a wonder Joseph can handle them all by himself, on top of his own three children. It must be three years or more since his wife passed away. Now there’s a man who could use a wife. But how many women would want to take a household like that? I asked Pansy Parker that question the other day and she said she could think of someone. I wonder who she meant.? To be honest, Pansy is a bit of a matchmaker herself.

Are you finished already? Well, I don’t want to keep you. I know how you young folks are always rushing around with things to do. Who wants to sit around with an old lady like me. I have nothing to talk about anyway.

Thanks for having coffee with me. Let’s do it again real soon.

(Kara’s note: Sarah’s story will be told in Accepting Charity and Joseph’s in Disrupting Harmony.)

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

An Interview with Nicola Martinez

Today I'm talking with Nicola Martinez, the editor for the Orchard Hill Romances and also the cover designer.

What role have you played in the Orchard Hill stories?

I just get to read and enjoy them. Kara Lynn does all the hard work. She's developed an entertaining series.

The covers for the stories are absolutely beautiful, even better than some of Angel Marcel's work. How do you do it?

You are too kind! I wanted there to be a continuity between the covers. Saving Gracie was the toughest, but after I focused on Gracie, I decided all the covers would focus on the heroine in each respective story with a little hint of what's between the pages as a backdrop for her.

I especially like the logo for the Orchard Hill stories. Where did you get the idea for it?

Thanks. I'm glad you like it so well! I knew the logo had to be an apple tree--we are in Orchard Hill, after all--and since the entire series revolves around our rival cupids, the arrow came into play.

As Ms. Russell's editor, do you have any inside information on the author? What is she like to work with? Any bad spelling? Missed deadlines? Poor grammar?

Kara Lynn is terrific to work with. She never misses a deadline, takes instruction so well, that each project comes in with less editing needed than the project before--not that she was ever "bad"--and she's a sweetheart personality. She's an editor's dream, is what she is.

Hmmm. I'm not sure I buy this. But never mind. Let's move on.

What do you like about being an editor?

There are many aspects to editing which I enjoy, but my greatest pleasure comes in being able to help an author see the fruition of his or her dream. It's a privilege to get to share in the excitement.

Who do you think will win the matchmaker's challenge, Pansy or Misty?

Ah, now you know I can't answer that. I can't play favourites. OK, maybe I'm leaning a little towards wait, Misty...See? I'm rooting for them both.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

An excerpt and a free read!

Exciting news! A free Orchard Hill story is now being offered by the Wild Rose Press as part of their new free reads program. "Catching the Bouquet" features Jeff and Angel, the couple from "Entertaining Angel." This really is a big week for Orchard Hill!

Some of you may not know this, but there's another free Orchard Hill story available on Kara Lynn's website. In "A Long Silly Love Chase" Steve decides he wants Gracie back, but Riley's not about to give her up.

Before you run off to check out those other stories, here's the promised excerpt from "Enduring Hope." You won't see this one posted anywhere else!


Enduring Hope 3
Confused by his feelings for Hope, Oliver decides to keep his distance from her for a while. But unfortunately this has left her open to his rival Jordan’s advances.

“Too bad you weren’t fast enough when Hope asked for a ride home. I’ll be taking over that duty tonight. And I plan on getting more than a good night handshake in return, if you know what I mean.”

That did it. Oliver stood up so quickly the stool he was sitting on wobbled and threatened to tip over. Pushing past Jordan, he strode to their table, grabbed Hope’s arm and hauled her out of her chair.

Shock registered on her face. “What are you doing?”

“I’m taking you home.”

“But I’m not finished…”

“Hope, we’re leaving now.” Oliver pulled her along behind him, oblivious to the questioning looks from his teammates.

As they passed Jordan, he opened his mouth as if to protest, but Oliver glared at him, and Jordan didn’t say a word.

They came out into the fading light in the parking lot. Oliver opened the passenger door of his car and handed Hope in. Then, he went around to the driver’s side and slid into his seat.

“Oliver, what…”

“Save it,” he growled and backed out of the parking space.

Hope was silent during the entire drive to his house, but he could tell she was angry. He didn’t care. He was angry, too.

When they arrived at her house, he went around to open her door again, but she’d already left the car and was halfway up the walk. He caught up with her and followed her into the house.

Two steps inside she rounded on him and shouted “Why did you do that?”

“Because Jordan started telling me his plans for your ride home, how he’d be taking the ‘scenic route’ and such. How could you accept a ride from that jerk?” Oliver yelled back.

“I didn’t want to, but no one else offered.”

“He was all over you from the minute you said ‘yes.’”

“I can handle guys like Jordan. It’s you that I don’t know what to do with.”

He’d never seen her so angry before. Her eyes were dark and stormy, her hands clenched into fists at her side, and her whole body shook with emotion. She was beautiful that way, filled with fire and passion.

She may not know what to do with him, but he knew exactly what he wanted from her. He took a step toward her, and she backed up, bumping into the wall behind her. He moved closer, until his body was pressing her against the wall. Then his mouth captured hers.


Please stop by tomorrow to read an interview with the editor and cover artist for the Orchard Hill series, Nicola Martinez. She's a wonderful lady and interviewing her was a pleasure. Remember to leave a comment, so you can be entered in the drawing. Multiple entries are fine, so leave a comment every day if you wish.

See you tomorrow!

Cora Applebaum

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Stacey Joy Netzel and Donna Marie Rogers on Small Town Romance

Cora Applebaum here. With the fifth Orchard Hill Romance due out on Wednesday of this week, I thought it was time to take a look at what makes this series so special. Please stop by every day this week for interviews, excerpts and a chance to win your own copy of "Enduring Hope." Just leave a comment on the blog this week and a way to contact you and you'll be entered in the drawing. The winner will be chosen on Friday.

Today I'm posting an interview I did recently with Wild Rose Press Romance authors Stacey Joy Netzel and Donna Marie Rogers. These talented ladies were kind enough to take time from their busy schedules and chat with me. Let me introduce them to you.

Stacey Joy Netzel fell in love with books at a young age, so for her it seemed only natural to graduate to writing them. A member of RWA and WisRWA, she credits not only her parents for encouraging her dreams of becoming a published author, but also the very talented friends she’s made in WisRWA since joining in 2004. She lives in Wisconsin with her husband and kids, a couple of horses, and three barn cats. When not writing and living life in general, she loves to read and watch movies—Happily Ever After’s a must. You can visit Stacey at:

Donna Marie Rogers lives in a renovated old schoolhouse in beautiful Northeast Wisconsin with her husband and children. She's an avid gardener and home-canner, as well as an admitted reality TV junkie. Her passion to read is only exceeded by her passion to write, so when she's not doing the wife and mother thing, you can usually find her sitting at her computer creating exciting new characters, fresh new worlds, and always happily-ever-afters. Please visit her at:

I understand you two have written a book of short stories set in a small town in Wisconsin called Welcome to Redemption. What is Redemption like and is it like Orchard Hill at all?

Stacey: In my mind, Redemption is very similar to Crivitz, the town I grew up in in Northeast Wisconsin, only ‘newer’ and a little bigger. Crivitz has population about 1000, and Redemption is somewhere between 5000-8000. It has a sense of family and the familiar, where everyone knows everyone, and that includes, sometimes unfortunately, everyone knowing everyone else’s business, too. Living between two small towns now, I think many small towns in the Midwest are basically alike, and after reading Saving Grace and Entertaining Angel, I have no problem picturing Orchard Hill in my mind. In fact, with Angel flying into the Green Bay airport, it kinda sounds like it’s not far from Redemption. LOL Maybe I’ll have Tara take Wes for a Harley ride through Orchard Hill this summer. And I bet Sugar and Cherub would get along great!

Donna: To me, Redemption is the small town I dreamt about while growing up in the south suburbs of Chicago. I used to spend weekends up in Edgerton, Wisconsin with my best friend's family, and to me, it was heaven. Now I make my home in Northeast, Wisconsin so I live in heaven...okay, most of the time anyway. LOL Orchard Hill actually sounds a lot like Redemption, with lots of small town businesses, great people, and plenty of drama.

What is it about small towns that makes them great settings for romance?

Stacey: I think a small town is a great setting for a romance because of the sense of family and of coming home. Or being home. Creating crazy, quirky secondary characters is also a definite plus.

Donna: I've always preferred small town settings, they're just easier to imagine myself living in, falling in love in, raising a family in. There's something so comforting about a close-knit community. And yes, those quirky secondary characters really come to life in a small town setting. ;-)

Are there any matchmakers in Redemption?

Stacey: Well, Tara had to battle her brother’s over-protectiveness to spend time with Wes, and Dana had to convince her cousin Allie she wasn’t simply falling into old habits when she fell for her tortured hero, Charlie, so no, not in my two stories, anyway…Oh, geez, wait—how could I forget??? Sugar. Charlie’s Great Dane (one of those quirky secondary characters I mentioned) is the entire reason that Tara and Wes were even introduced in the first place! She’s the matchmaker, definitely.

Donna: I like to think that Rosalee, Caleb's mother who passed away before the start of the book, had a little something to do with his finally coming home and ending up on Lauren's doorstep. Rosalee adored Lauren and her kids (Max & Emma), and is no doubt quite pleased with how well things turned out. And it was Caleb and Lauren who played matchmaker to Carrie the hothead and Matt the dreamiest librarian in the Midwest. LOL

Is there any chance that we'll read more about Redemption?

Stacey: Yes, there’s a definite chance you’ll read more about Redemption. I have the first story of the sequel written with Allie and Rick, and Donna’s working on her first story, too. With other projects in the works for both of us, it’ll be a little time, but we fell in love with the town as much as readers have, so we don’t plan to abandon it. At some point, we'd love to do a historical anthology of how the town was founded.

Donna: Drew and Lindy's story just has to be told. They seem like an explosive couple, and I sure hope they live up to my hype. Unfortunately, I have another project to finish before diving into the sequel. And since I'd only be repeating what Stacey said, ditto on the rest.

What else have you written, together or separately?

We started out in the same RWA chapter in 2004, WisRWA, joining within one month of each other, and shortly after became critique partners. We write so differently, and like to read different things, the idea of us writing together never crossed our minds until our dear friend Delia Deleest (It Takes Moxie, Eye Of The Beholder, both available at The Wild Rose Press.) suggested the three of us write related stories for an anthology. We decided to give it a shot, and Welcome to Redemption was born. Only Delia decided to pursue other interests, so we were 'forced' to each come up with a second story to round out the anthology. Needless to say, we thanked Delia in our dedication.

Stacey: I’ve written a Christmas novella, titled Dragonfly Dreams, which was nominated LASR Best Short Romance E-book 2007, and a paranormal miniature rose, If Tombstones Could Talk. Both are published with The Wild Rose Press. I am also awaiting edits with my most recent contract with TWRP, Chasin’ Mason, a Yellow Rosebud I hope will be released this year yet. I just got the cover...what do you think?

Donna: Golden Opportunity (a Yellow Miniature Rose which takes place in Golden, Colorado) and There's Only Been You (a Champagne Rose which takes place in Green Bay, Wisconsin) both release this year from The Wild Rose Press, with There's Only Been You available in print April 2009. Meant To Be (a Champagne Rose and second in the series to There's Only Been You), is contracted and going to edits soon. I also write erotic romance as Liza James and have several short stories published with both The Wild Rose Press and Red Rose Publishing.

Who do you think will win the matchmaker's challenge, Pansy or Misty?

Stacey: Seeing as how I’ve only read the first two stories so far (but have the others waiting in my computer because I truely enjoyed the first two) this is a tricky question. Honestly, I think Misty worked a little harder for her first match than Pansy (so does Misty) and going off that, and the epilogue at the end of Entertaining Angel, I’m gonna put my money on Misty. Any chance I can get you to whisper who wins?

Donna: Okay, to keep it interesting, I have to go with Pansy, but to be fair I haven't had a chance to read the whole Orchard Hill series yet, so I reserve the right to change my mind. ;-).

Thank you Donna and Stacey, for taking the time to answer my questions. I'd love to visit Redemption sometime. That's all for today. Check back tomorrow for an exclusive sneak preview of "Enduring Hope."

Cora Applebaum