Have you heard? Harlequin is currently accepting nominations for its 2014 More Than Words awards, given each year to three women who've made extraordinary contributions to their communities, proving that heroines exist in real life, not just on the pages of books. 

more than words logoEach winner will be awarded a $15,000 donation to a charity of her choice and will be paired up with a best-selling Harlequin author, who will write a free, downloadable ebook inspired by the winner's story.

In this guest blog post, previous More Than Words winner Mindy Atwood shares the effects of her win on her charity, Patches of Light, and the experience of working with Harlequin author Cindy Dees:  

Loneliness, despair, fear and uncertainty. These words are not typically used to describe a romance novel. However, they could describe the emotions playing through the lives of families with critically and terminally ill children. Hope, love, faith and devotion, on the other hand, are words that might apply to a romance novel; then again, they might also apply to any given moment in the life of a family dealing with a sick child.


When Harlequin Romance created their More Than Words contest—a fund that awards a $15,000 donation to women working to make a difference—they created a perfect combination of love, compassion and support. Cindy Dees, who wrote Light This Candle in honor of my charity, Patches of Light, described it so well when she said, “joining a women’s fiction publisher like Harlequin and a program like Patches of Light makes for a perfect marriage. Both are ultimately in the business of sending the message that love conquers all.”


Light this CandleWhen Cindy sent me the copy of Light This Candle, I was blown away. The emotions were real, and raw. When you are in a situation where the people you love the most are either sick or unable to be there for support, you need a patch of light to help guide you. That "patch" may be a card, a hug or a smile. It may be that someone steps forward to buy you groceries or pay your rent. It may be someone new in your life who truly wants to be there and support you during your journey. Each person is in a different place of hardship, so when someone donates to Patches of Light, we cover their specific need. Harlequin stepped forward and helped us cover a multitude of needs with their $15,000 donation. Also, as a result of the publicity from the contest, a very generous foundation donated another $15,000. They saw a need and planted a seed!


One of my favorite quotes is, “Dare to reach your hand into the darkness, to pull another hand into the light.” Harlequin, Cindy Dees and the people who support the More Than Words program have definitely reached their hand into the darkness and pulled so many hands into the light!


Thanks so much, Mindy! The Light This Candle ebook by Cindy Dees was recently released—download it here. Don't forget that nominations for this year's More Than Words contest will be accepted through August 9. Five finalists will be announced in October, after which voting will be open to the public. The three winners will be announced in December.

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