Friday, May 27, 2016

Chicken Update, Fox Attack & Upcoming Tour

Hello, everyone! This is a quick update post because I've been swamped on the work and home front.

As you know, the third book in my 'From Kenya, with Love' series released this month (June for UK/Aus). I've also been working on a proposal for a new series for Heartwarming. But just to add a little spice to my writing schedule, my eldest...who is graduating from high school in a few weeks...broke his wrist during a track and field meet. It wasn't just any break. The whole thing involved CT scans and a visit to a hand specialist because of the nature of the break. He's in a cast and will be fine. We've also had our share of illness, out-of-town visitors, end-of-year homework projects etc...

Then this past week, as if things weren't crazy enough, we had our first fox attack. It wasn't pretty. Almost three years with backyard chickens and we never had a fox problem. I know they're around (it's a given, living in the country), but they've never bothered coming into our fenced backyard, especially since our dogs run around there and leave their scent. Well, our dogs are not out at the same time as our flock because they love chicken and not in the guardian dog way. Unfortunately, so do foxes. This gorgeous red fox attacked right in the middle of the day. From what I could see, our three roosters did nothing to stop the carnage. We lost 3 hens, plus several were injured but got away. I've been nursing the most severely injured girl in my makeshift basement chicken clinic. She was seriously cut up on her back and suffered a leg injury. I've been spoon feeding her (and watering) because of it, but she's been a trooper and, amazingly, is recovering!

I kept the flock locked in their coop for almost a week and, when I tried to let them out for a few hours, the fox came back. This time, she had her jaws around a hen's neck but I stopped her in time. For now, the flock is staying under lock.

I love all wildlife and understand that it's spring and that fox has kits to feed. I just have to build a secure pen with buried hardware cloth and only let them range under supervision in future. Unless I get a guardian dog, but I don't dare right now. The pup might learn bad habits from my two zany dogs.

On the bright side, I have a broody hen sitting on a clutch of eggs. We haven't been through this before, so I'm hoping it all works out and we have baby chicks in a few more weeks. I'll keep you all posted!

Finally, for anyone interested, I was recently interviewed at Romance Reader and the post includes a giveaway. I saw some familiar 'faces' there, so thanks for the visit and comments!

I also have an upcoming excerpt/review tour with Prism Book Tours, June 5-12...and that also includes giveaways! You check out the schedule HERE.


I hope my U.S. friends all have a wonderful Memorial Day weekend!

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Henna Head Giveaway Winner

Happy Saturday, everyone!

Many thanks to everyone who commented on my Henna pictures here, on Facebook and over at the Heartwarming Authors blog. I had so much fun with all of you! And thank you for the henna head compliments :). Everyone seemed to like it!

Everyone who posted (whether here, there or FB) was put in a random drawing and I have a winner! The big announcement is over at the Heartwarming Authors blog, but I'll mention it here too. BUT please take a minute to pop over to the Heartwarming Author blog for my Sit-Down Saturday post. It includes photos of the Hollywood stars who I'd cast as the hero, heroine and their teen nephew in Through the Storm. I also included the 1980's hit song that I think fits this story so perfectly! Any guesses? ;)

www.heartwarmingauthors.blogspot.com

And the giveaway winner is...

Tanja Dancy!

Congratulations, Tanja! Please contact me through my website with your mailing info!

Thanks again to all who entered. Have a super weekend!

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

I'M A HENNA HEAD GIVEAWAY!

(NOTE: You'll find this giveaway post on the Heartwarming Author's blog today as well. Let me know what you think of my henna head and get entered in my giveaway!)

Happy May! I’m celebrating the release of Through the Storm, the third novel in my ‘From Kenya, With Love’ series for Harlequin Heartwarming with 1) a GIVEAWAY and 2) by JUMPING HEADFIRST INTO A BOWL OF HENNA! You heard right. Henna.
Photo by Aftat Courtesy of Morguefile.com
Okay, I didn’t jump in…at least not exactly. I leave that kind of danger to the hero in my book, Serengeti bush pilot Mac Walker ;). But allow me to explain. 

Why am I now a henna head?

As many of you know, my Harlequin Heartwarming ‘From Kenya, With Love’ series is set in East Africa…specifically Kenya and its majestic Serengeti. I spent much of my childhood living in North Africa and one thing the entire region (from Africa to India and many other countries/cultures) has in common is the use of Henna, a natural plant based dye. Henna is used as a hair dye, as well as for elaborate, ‘temporary’ (they eventually fade…eventually) tattoos. Culturally, henna tattoos are used in celebrations such as weddings. The designs are endless, detailed and quite beautiful. Although I don’t specifically mention henna in my Kenya series, it’s definitely used there and henna designs are a traditional part of wedding preparations there, including with the Masai…who do appear in my books!

You can check out these links for examples of intricate henna work:

National Geographic Swahili wedding henna (you can imagine this on some of the characters in my books)


Henna can also be used for any ‘tattoo’ design. I personally love what the pregnant women in these images did to celebrate the beauty of their growing bellies!

Pregnant belly henna designs (These are gorgeous! No chance of that happening now lol, but maybe I could henna tattoo an HW and a heart on my ankle for the RWA conference ;)! Hmmmm.

Henna is great for hair and can also be used as a routine hair dye…free of harsh chemicals. The catch is pure henna is red. What shade of red depends on what color your hair was to begin with. What I love about it is that, on brown hair, it shows up predominantly as highlights that glisten in the sun.

As a pre-teen/teen, I often had henna in my hair. My mom used it to keep my hair conditioned and healthy. Plus, where we lived in Africa, henna use was super common (still is). One fun tradition was that, whenever henna was being prepared for hair (think women’s henna party), the ladies would literally get ‘we kids’ out of their hair (pun intended) by placing a dab of henna in our palm and having us curl our hand into a fist. The idea was that the tattoo shape that our scrunched fist would form would be a surprise…and if it looked like a fish we’d have good luck (or money would come our way ;). We’d run off and play, all the while keeping that fist until our moms said we could wash our hands for the big reveal.

Back then, I almost always got a fish shape, so I thought I’d try it again. Last week, I bought some henna, mixed it up and slapped it on my hair (picture many towels, plastic wrap and gloves because this stuff is like thick mud). While it sat on my head, I put a dab in the palm of my hand. The result? You tell me. Alas, it’s definitely not a fish, though money luck would have been nice lol. I’m thinking some sort of bird. A rising phoenix?

Rula's not-so-artistic henna hand
Here are my before and after hair photos. I’d love to hear what everyone thinks! And, yes, those are little elephant earrings ;).

BEFORE: (I do have some natural red highlights but more subtle. Gray hair in my part...not so subtle lol)

Before Henna
Before Henna

AFTER: (Taken in different lighting because it was hard to get the red to show up on camera...plus, it shows how it changes with light...sometimes burgundy...sometimes orangy. I'm a chameleon head! I had a pet one of those in Algeria too...and he used to sit on my head lol.)
After Henna
After Henna
After Henna
And in the name of Africa and celebrations (including my book release this month), I’m giving away a ‘From Kenya, With Love’ gift pack!


This gift pack (and, honestly, any Harlequin Heartwarming book) would make a great gift for moms, grandmothers, sisters or anyone who enjoys tender, heartfelt romance. It includes a ‘From Kenya, With Love’ set of three 15 x 15 ½ inch canvas tote bags, 3 bookmarks, a pen, Harlequin sticky note pad, a ‘Think Harlequin’ pin, a ‘sweet and heartwarming’ bracelet, a cute mama and baby elephant figurine set and signed copies of the first two books in the series, The Promise of Rain and After the Silence.

The giveaway is also posted on my blog…A Writer’s Rush…and linked to from my Facebook page. All you have to do to enter is leave a comment on this giveaway post or on the same post on the other two sites and let me know what you think about my henna head! Thumbs up or thumbs down? Or let me know if you've used henna before. The winner will be announced, along with a special behind-the-scenes post on Through the Storm, here on the Heartwarming Author blog Saturday, May 7th.

THROUGH THE STORM is NOW AVAILABLE in print online at Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Harlequin or in ebook format everywhere! It’s also available on Netgalley for reviewers. Many thanks in advance to everyone who takes the time to post a review on Amazon, Goodreads or other review site…the ultimate gift to an author!

Blurb:  


The biggest risk she'll ever take…

Tessa Henning is no damsel. But she's definitely in distress. If her husband really is involved in the ivory trade, he'll come after her when he finds out what she's uncovered. Unfortunately, the only person who can help is Mac Walker. Stubborn, fiercely independent, danger-loving bush pilot Mac Walker—with whom she shares custody of their orphaned nephew. Though Mac's no knight in shining armor, he can keep her and their nephew safe in the Serengeti while they wait out this storm. But he can't protect Tessa from the strange weather brewing inside her, stirring up feelings for Mac she wishes she could ignore.

Happy Mother’s Day and Happy Reading!

Don't forget to check back here on Saturday for the winner! I'll have contact instructions for getting the prize pack mailed :).

Rula Sinara

www.rulasinara.com
You're invited to sign up for my Newsletter!

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Celebrating Harlequin Heartwarming at Walmart with a Giveaway!

On tour with Prism Book Tours.

We're thrilled about Harlequin Heartwarming books being available in select local US Walmarts! Find out if they're at a Walmart by you here

Here's what some Harlequin Heartwarming authors had to say:

"I am so excited that Heartwarming books are now available at Walmart, so some lucky girl can go visit her aunt and possibly stumble across one of MY books and fall in love!"
— Amy Vastine

"I was thrilled to find a home in the Heartwarming line. Writing these sweet romances that emphasizes the emotional adventure of falling in love feels almost like a calling and now, that dream I thought I'd achieved has now grown. The Heartwarming line is now available in select Walmarts!"
— Anna J. Stewart

"I’m thrilled that I’ll get to add more Heartwarming books to my bookshelves now that Heartwarming paperbacks will be available at Wal-Mart. A Heartwarming story will be within reach no matter if I pick up my Kindle or a paperback… there’s nothing better than that."
— Cari Lynn Webb

"Real books printed on paper that you can hold in your hand and smell and flip through the pages."
— Carol Ross

"I believe in 'happily ever after' and through Heartwarming and Walmart, we’re able to bring more of these moving stories to the people who have been searching for something touching and magical."
— Catherine Lanigan

"It's not always easy to find a romance that's clean and wholesome with a rich, compelling plot and multi-faceted characters to root for all the way to a happy ending. . . . You can trust this brand of our books in the line each month to provide a great reading experience. Pick up a copy (or more) today. And enjoy!"
— Leigh Riker

"Buying books for my ereader may be easier than driving forty-five minutes to the nearest bookstore and having digital reads may be a handy way to travel without carrying six books with me (and hide just how big my to-be-read pile is from my husband), but it’ll never completely replace a book in my hand. And I wouldn’t have it any other way."
— Melinda Curtis

"I love, love, love finding a new book on the shelf, taking it in my hand, feeling the smooth cover and turning the book over to read the blurb. . . . Now, Harlequin Heartwarmings will be in stores as well. Wow, it feels a little bit like Christmas."
— Pamela Tracy

". . . if I have the option of spending time in a real brick-n-mortar bookstore and buying a tangible book that I can anticipate experiencing with all my senses, I go straight to print books."
— Rula Sinara

"Walmart has signed on to put one of my favorite lines, Harlequin Heartwarming, on the shelves of over 400 stores! That’s four more Harlequin books a month. Books filled with emotion and strength. Books that embody the love and hope that the people in our world so desperately seek."
— Tara Taylor Quinn

About the Authors

(Each picture linked to the author's website.)

Celebration Blitz Giveaway

$20 Walmart Gift Card
US Only
Ends April 4th

Grab Our Button!

Monday, March 28, 2016

New Book Cover & Fostering an Elephant Orphan!


Happy springtime, everyone! Look at what I got this month! I love it! I also love that it has 'USA Today Bestselling Author' on it. I still can't believe it! I may be biased, but I think the Harlequin art department did a phenomenal job with my latest cover. I was drawn into the scenery...transported right into my story...the minute I saw it. As you might have guessed, Through the Storm, the third book in my 'From Kenya, with Love' series, takes readers back to Kenya's Serengeti.

In fact, the story revisits the plight of the elephants from book 1, The Promise of Rain. Those of you who read The Promise of Rain know that the heroine, Dr. Anna Bekker, was devoted to rescuing baby elephants orphaned by poachers. Well, in Through the Storm, the heroine, Tessa Henning, who has always chosen the 'safe' route in life, finds herself in dangerous position. One where she can bring down a ruthless elephant poaching ring...if she risks everything...including her life.

Yes, there's adventure, romance and a lot of wildlife in this story! Oh, and the hero is that hot, Indiana Jones type bush pilot who helps rescue elephants in The Promise of Rain. Remember Mac? ;) And don't worry if you haven't read all the stories. They each stand alone, including the linked novella I wrote as part of a Harlequin Heartwarming Thanksgiving celebration. The Sweetheart Tree can still be read for free through April on Harlequin.com or my page on Wattpad. But if you do get the chance to read all three books in the series, I think it makes for a 'wilder' experience :). You'll even get to re-visit characters from the previous two stories, including my 'wounded' ex-Marine hero in book 2, After the Silence, and little Pippa from book 1.

Here's the blurb for Through the Storm:

The biggest risk she'll ever take…

Tessa Henning is no damsel. But she's definitely in distress. If her husband really is involved in the ivory trade, he'll come after her when he finds out what she's uncovered. Unfortunately, the only person who can help is Mac Walker. Stubborn, fiercely independent, danger-loving bush pilot Mac Walker—with whom she shares custody of their orphaned nephew. Though Mac's no knight in shining armor, he can keep her and their nephew safe in the Serengeti while they wait out this storm. But he can't protect Tessa from the strange weather brewing inside her, stirring up feelings for Mac she wishes she could ignore.

The really great news is that this time print books will be available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble online, as well as on Harlequin.com (as they were in the past)! Print copies will also be releasing early, so unless you prefer ebooks, you won't have to wait until May. Print will be available April 19th on Amazon and BN. Many thanks in advance if you pre-order! ;) You can also find in both formats at Harlequin and of course anywhere ebooks are sold. I really hope you enjoy this one as much as I did writing it.



I've always loved elephants and I've always supported different wildlife organizations. Writing this series, including all the research I did on the ongoing battle against wildlife trafficking and poaching, drove me to want to do more. Since becoming one of my characters and moving to Kenya to help rescue elephants orphaned by poachers isn't feasible right now (though it would be a dream), I adopted/fostered one. Although my characters are totally fictional and not based on any 'real life' person, there are groups who, much like my Dr. Bekker and her Busara Elephant Research and Rescue Camp, dedicate their work to saving wildlife. One such amazing group is The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, founded by Dame Daphne Sheldrick in Kenya. Their ongoing work to rescue elephants is nothing short of amazing. The videos and stories you can find on their website says it all. And one of the programs they offer involves fostering. Raising elephant orphans requires supplies...food, medical care etc... On the DSWT website, you can find a list of all of their orphans, by age, and their individual stories. I wish I could have helped them all, but when I read Quanza's story, I couldn't walk away. I fostered Quanza, which means I'm helping fund her care but I also get monthly keeper updates and photos. You can see a little photo of her in my certificate pic above and you can read about her (just look up her name) and others here.

In other news, Harlequin Heartwarming books are still in select Walmarts and we're hosting a big blitz Walmart gift card giveaway! I'll post the info here in the next few days!

Happy Spring!

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Blizzard Jonas & Chicken Pics

Blizzard Jonas has come and gone and we're still stranded at home! I'm not really complaining because we didn't lose power and I stocked up on supplies before the storm hit. Plus, food-wise, we have an unlimited supply of fresh eggs lol. Not losing power has made a huge difference, because when you're on well water and septic, power loss means water loss and no running septic.

It's hard to capture how hard it was coming down, but you can see visibility was low.
That said, our street hasn't been plowed yet. We started getting snow on Friday the 22nd. Schools were closed (and still are) and my digging began in earnest. I knew the heavy snow and blizzard were due to hit during the night and through Saturday, so I wanted to make sure the chickens had plenty of food and water (it kept freezing). Well, the snow came down so fast Friday afternoon that I by the time I dug a 2 ft wide path through 2 ft deep snow all the way to the coop which is about 60 ft away, I turned back and 4 more inches had already fallen. I made sure the flock was snug for the night (and most of the next morning). Saturday morning, it was really coming down and I didn't have the energy to dig, so I bundled up, balanced supplies (water, fresh greens, sunflower seeds, chicken feed etc...) in my arms and tried making it to the coop on foot. It wasn't easy. Talk about kick starting an exercise plan! The path I'd dug on Friday was completely filled so the snow was well over my knees. Picture all the leg lifts it took to make it to the coop and back! And these were blizzard conditions, so the wind didn't make it easy, but I'm stubborn when it comes to making sure everyone's taken care of (yes, I even filled the wild bird feeders at the creek before the storm hit).

Taken just outside the back door on Friday, when it had only been snowing a few hours. That's our grill to the left and the coop in the distance. 
For those of you who don't follow me on social media, here's a cute pic my teen son made of a few of my hens riding out the storm in a home theater. We came up with this idea after one of the Heartwarming editors joked that she hoped my flock was snug in my basement eating chips and watching movies ;). After all that digging, I kinda wish they had been!

Rula's flock entertainment
When I told my teen that the digging left every muscle in my hands and arms aching (not to mention my back and the tendinitis in my ankle) and that typing was going to hurt, he told me I should rely on my writing team and came up with this pic:

Notice the 'chicken scratch' and 'grainstorming' on their little papers lol
I must say, cabin fever entertainment for teens is not what it was when I was a kid! :)

Rula's dogs on Friday when the snow was still only a few inches deep

Rula's dog in the first path I tried digging only hours into the storm. There was a lot of snow yet to come!
Anyway, on Sunday, the sun came out and I had to re-dig all the way to the coop. I also needed to dig an area for the dogs to do their business. They had managed to do so in a small area during the storm (they were confused and reluctant), but my larger dog (think super tall poodle size in shoulder height) sank in the snow when she tried running off. I thought I was going to have to pull her out, but after some struggling, she made it back to the door safely.

Half-way to the chicken coop and looking back. 
 
Happy to stretch after being all cooped up!
Half of Rula's flock in search of grass
My reward for all that digging are the gorgeous views left by the storm.

You can see how the winds created patterned snow dunes much like those made of sand.
This pic and the next show the snow depth. Our fencing is a bit over 4 ft. Everywhere I stuck a measuring stick, I got confirmation that we got 3 ft of snow, plus deeper (4-5ft) drifts. 
We won't be opening that gate anytime soon.
Our land is set in a bit of a valley with a hill to our west side and creek to the east. This topography tends to invite strong winds to swoop down on us and any snow being blown, settles around our place.

Our creek. It's really there, running right behind the closest tree.

So glad I filled the bird feeders! This little fella was too cute.
I love seeing tracks in the snow. Plus it was so sparkly!
So after digging to the coop, I dug out an equally deep front walk (about 35ft) because our front door faces north and would take forever to melt. My husband and boys were working on our driveway, which took a couple of days (we're in the country so our driveway is just under 200 ft and the snow had drifted, making it at least 3-4 ft deep there). 

And as of this evening (it's after 5:30 pm Tuesday as I'm typing this), our street hasn't been plowed. The department of transportation did finally make it out to our neighborhood's streets today, but for some reason, they drove right past ours. We're the only street here that didn't get plowed, and yes, my neighbors and I called in to report the situation, but all they could do was to put in another 'work order' and hope to make it back by morning. Our neighbor and my husband are out there trying to clear as much as they can, but it's simply too much snow. When it's that deep, the smaller mowing tractor plow attachments and snow blowers don't work well.

In any case, school is cancelled tomorrow too and we'll see what they say about the rest of the week. I've heard that someone in our area had to be airlifted (because of unplowed roads) to a hospital due to heart problems. I saw on the news that many died after suffering heart attacks while shoveling...and many more died from accidents and hypothermia. My heart goes out to their friends and families. Although it left us with beautiful scenery, Blizzard Jonas was powerful and dangerous...and deadly. I'm not about to complain about shoveling or a plow passing us by. At least my family is safe and sound.

If you were in the path of the storm, I hope you and yours are safe and sound too!