Tuesday, December 30, 2014

It's only 360 days until Christmas!!!

A week ago the house looked like this...
A mere five days later and the poor old tree looks bare with no presents under it. For a while the house looked like this when there was a hundred dollars worth of pretty paper all torn up, wadded up and tossed to one side. I wondered if it could be ironed and reused but then thought of all the hours and I'd probably scorch it anyway...it went into the big black garbage bag.

I set the scales back ten pounds but oh, no, the dang things are still weighing heavy. It has to be the toe socks. I bet they're causing all that extra weight. Red and green stripes and those fancy jeweled things on the big toes weigh at least twenty pounds, don't you think?
And poor old Santa...bless his heart is probably trying to figure out a way to write up his letter of resignation. Everything about him has been deflated from yard ornaments to his energy. Hopefully by the time Mrs. Santa has a visit with him, he will decide that he'll try it one more year but this year he and the elves are going to the local Vo-Tech and learning how to build a lighter weight game machine. The sleigh was so heavy that the reindeer had trouble keeping in the sky and Rudolph is seeing a chiropractor next week for his back trouble.
We've shopped the sales for next year. No, sir, I'm not paying full price for wrapping paper just to have it wadded up and thrown into the dumpster! And bought the last six bags of soft peppermints (they only come out at Christmas). They're hidden safely away and I'm not sharing since I was the one who had to clean up the wrapping paper mess. Next year, I can throw it away with a smile because I got it on a 90 percent off sale!
The shelves in the stores have all been cleaned off and they're restocked with...drum roll please...VALENTINE'S STUFF! I can breath easy...I think I can make the soft peppermints last until then. The shelves all look so pretty!
Candy and Roses...love them both. And who doesn't like chocolate cake all decorated up with love. Just think it's only 46 DAYS until Valentine's Day!
Oh, I nearly forgot New Years! Here's hoping that next year brings all of  you happiness, health and lots of wonderful memory making days. May you forget how much the wrapping paper cost by next Christmas and regift those socks that made you weigh ten pounds more and enjoy every holiday between now and then.

Monday, December 29, 2014

How To Be Empowered ~ by Gina Conkle

When it comes to year-end lists, I'm a happy addict. My husband jokes, "You have lists for your lists."

He's right!

I get a charge out of reading and putting into action those 10 Ways to Declutter Your House or 9 Steps to a Better Budget.

As one year comes to an end, I like taking stock and seeing what needs to be accomplished in the next one. Not all of the goals are achieved, or achieved in the timeframe I want, but life's a journey. Plans need tinkering.

This year my usual ambitious perspective veered off course. A different kind of change came.

The favorite "Holiday Adventure List" would be no more (not all my lists are task oriented...some are
loaded with fun).

Every summer, Christmas, and Spring Break for the last 14 years, our family made lists of places we wanted to explore and things we wanted to do. The ritual started when my boys were young. We made plans to visit a certain animal at the zoo or go to a bookstore. There were grand lists too, like our adventure in Scotland. Over the years, the list adapted to meet the tastes of a maturing family.

This year, my oldest son told me he's not interested. He still wants to see the occasional movie with us. And if I tell him I'm going to Barnes & Noble, I know he'll be along for the ride. Then we'll sit and talk about books awhile, but this won't be a planned event.

But, what does this have to do with being empowered?

This change made me step back and take stock in a bigger picture. We're in the middle of this decade. Where do I want to be when it ends?

So, I'm hatching my plans. Taking charge in this season of life makes me feel empowered. What do I want to accomplish in 5 years?

And, my no-more-adventure-lists son made an excel spreadsheet of colleges to investigate. "The List" is not entirely dead afterall.


What about you? Any plans or goals for the next year or the next 5 years? 

I write Viking and Georgian romance with a softly sensual side. I'd love to connect with you in any of these social media places:

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Friday, December 26, 2014

My Christmas Reminders, By Kathryne Kennedy

My gentle reminders for this Christmas (and the rest of the year):

Care for those around you. Their feelings may be as fragile as your own.
Have a laugh or two. Or three. It’s good for the soul.
Remind yourself to give hugs often and freely.
If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all. Let someone else have that negativity.
Smile at everyone you meet, even if it’s not returned. It’s your spirit that’s uplifted.
Think outside of the box, and don’t be too surprised if someone else is thinking the same thing you are.
Marvel in the beauty of individuality. In nature. In spirit. Life is a gift.
Any time is a good time to show some holiday spirit.
Share the meaning of Christmas, which is more about the gift of love, than the gift you purchased in the store.  

What does each of the letters in CHRISTMAS spell out for you? I’m hoping they bring you the best for your holiday and the new year!

Magically Yours,



Thursday, December 25, 2014

Christmas Casablanca Style!

We hope you have a happy holiday with your friends and family, and we'd like to share some of our favorite Christmas memories and traditions.

Shana Galen (The Viscount of Vice)
My favorite tradition is reading Christmas stories with my daughter. Some of our favorites are 'Twas the Night Before Christmas, The Polar Express, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Bear Stays Up, and Room for a Little One. There's nothing that says Christmas to me more than snuggling with my little one, reading and talking.

Hope your Christmas is warm and cozy too!

Mia Marlowe (A Rake by Any Other Name)
I'd like to second Shana's tradition. My girls and I have always enjoyed read-aloud time and Christmas books have been some of our favorites. We laughed together through Barbara Robinson's The Best Christmas Pageant Ever. We wept over Van Dyke's The Other Wise Man.

When you share a book with a child, you share a whole world. What's more powerful than that?
May your holiday is filled with love and light.

Theresa Romain (Secrets of a Scandalous Heiress)

I completely agree with the book traditions! My daughter is reading "chapter books" this year, so we've got some Christmas classics from the library. Everything from The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey to The Best Christmas Pageant Ever.

Another tradition in my family: making terrible ornaments. When you're a kid--which I was, once,--you have to do crafts when the rest of your class does. In third grade, I had to cross-stitch a Christmas bow onto fabric. Somehow I got glue all over mine. I'm still not sure how that happened, because usually glue is not involved in sewing at all.

My favorite ornament of all time is...well, I'll just show you.

My brother made that when he was about five or six. (He's now 28.) To the untutored eye, it looks like slapdash glitter on a Dixie cup. And it is! But it's also a "Christmas bell." It went missing for several years; then when he was in high school we rediscovered the ornament, much to our delight. It went on the tree once or twice, but now it hangs year-round from a plant hook on my parents' dining room ceiling. Why not? It's funny to look at, plus it reminds us all: parents love to see what their kids will come up with. I can hardly wait to give Little Miss R a box of crafts and let her get creative! but once she learns to sew, I'm keeping the glue away from her.

Terri L. Austin (His Every Need)

My daughter and I had a very silly tradition when she was growing up. One year as we were decorating the tree, we found this sad, hideous ornament that no one had ever seen before. I *think* it came from a box my MIL dug out of her attic, although she swears otherwise (ahem). As a joke, I started hiding it places like my daughter's lunch box or under her pillow. As the years went on, we tried to up one another. Once, my daughter dangled it off the ceiling fan. From a noose made of yarn. I still laugh at that one.

She's become a huge part of our Christmas tradition (although I can't remember how the back of her hat got scorched). Now it wouldn't seem like Christmas without her.

Merry Christmas from all of us!

Gina Conkle (The Lady Meets Her Match)

One of my favorite memories was Christmas, 2003. My husband's impulse buy in Barnes & Noble became a major turning point for me: a copy of The Complete Idiot's Guide to Getting Your Romance Published.

I still chuckle when I look at that title. I opened the present and my husband, Brian, watched me on tenterhooks. He was afraid I might be upset with the "Idiot" part of the title.

My tackle-hug assured him of my happiness.

The book was a gold mine. For much of that year, I'd been writing from 8:00 PM 'til about midnight after my boys went to bed. As the year was ending, so was that story --- a Viking romance called Norse Jewel. But what was I going to do next?

From his gift I learned about Romance Writers of America. I learned there was a local chapter in my hometown who met once a month to talk romance writing. I was thrilled!

Even better, Brian supported me 100% and that was the best gift of all.

We wish you and your family many blessings this holiday season!

Linda Broday (Texas Mail Order Bride)

My favorite Christmas memory was when I was nine years old. My daddy had gotten burned severely in an explosion at his job and was in the hospital. My mother spent every minute by his bedside. Christmas looked pretty grim. It was such a scary time. My brother who is a lot older put me and my sister to bed that Christmas Eve and we knew not expect anything come morning. Before I closed my eyes I asked God to make my daddy well. That was all I asked for, no gifts or toys. When morning came, my mom was there and she was smiling for the first time in weeks. She told us he had turned a corner and was going to live.

It was the best Christmas present I ever got. That memory stays with me. It taught me that there are things in this life that you can't put a price on.

Here's my favorite decoration. I've had this angel for twenty years.

I hope this Christmas that you find the important things and tuck them deep into your heart. Give thanks for what you have and remember those who have nothing.

Terry Spear (A Highland Wolf Christmas)

My Christmas present to me this year! Two Havanese puppies--Max, 5 mos old and Tanner, 9 weeks old. My New Year's Goal is tied up with them, too. LOL I haven't had dogs in a number of years once my kids left home and married and my mother died. So I figured it was time to have some fur babies again. I had forgotten how much work they are, but they are also a joy. :) Hope the holidays are joyous for you!

Jane Ashford

When I was young, we always went south during Christmas vacation. My father was from southern Alabama, and we visited his family for a while. Then we stayed on a (somewhat chilly) beach in the Florida panhandle. Very reasonable lodging rates at that time of year! So my Christmas memories include gathering shells on windswept shores, building extensive sand villages, and dining on a flounder caught by my Dad in the waves.
Happy holidays!

Carolyn Brown (Cowboy Boots for Christmas, Cowboy not Included)

Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday. Christmas was my sister's so her energy and happiness usually found a way to infect me and I loved it because of her. A year and a half ago while we were coming home from RWA in Atlanta, I got the news that she'd passed, instantly from a blood clot, at the age of 60. I miss her terribly but in her honor on Christmas Day, I take an hour or so and recall all the memories, all the secrets she took with her (thank goodness), and all the absolutely awesome times that we had in the 35 years we lived within two miles of each other.

Now on another note, TODAY is Shana Galen's birthday. Let's all sing to her at the top of our lungs, say about ten o'clock this morning. And I for one would like to say, THANK YOU, Shana for all you do with this site!


Wednesday, December 24, 2014

A Labor of Love

By Cheryl Brooks

Many moons ago, and by that I mean sometime between 1926 and 1935, my grandmother made a quilt for my father on the foot-treadle Singer sewing machine she bought December 12, 1923. I know the date because the actual handwritten receipt is still in one of the drawers.

My father and my grandmother are both gone now, but somewhere along the line, the sewing machine and the quilt wound up with me. I used the sewing machine quite a bit before I bought a newer, electric model when my eldest son, Mike, was about eight months old. The quilt was on Mike's bed for a long time, but because it's a twin-size and we don't have any twin beds anymore, it became my exercise mat. That's the sewing machine, which has been serving as the table for various electronic devices for some time now.

The sewing machine still works quite well, but even back when it kept my son warm at night, the quilt was showing its age. Much of the fabric had worn through to the point that the batting was beginning to escape, and the patterns were so faded you could barely see the print anymore. So square by square, I began replacing the fabric, sewing new material over the old, doing most of the work by hand.

This has been going on since Mike, who is now twenty-eight, was about five or so. During that time, I replaced all of the center sections. The outer row of squares and the corners were in decent shape, so for a long time, I was content to leave it at that. But in the past week, I noticed some frayed fabric in the outer squares.

The Christmas tree was up.

The presents were all wrapped (at least those that I intend to wrap).

And I'd finished the copy edits on Cowboy Delight, the final edits on Cowboy Heaven, and turned in the manuscript for Cowboy Bliss.

So I had the time.

I got out my electric Singer and began sewing like a madwoman. I used up most of the remnants from other projects and some thread I thought I would never use. I suffered a brief setback when I ran out of white thread for the actual quilting, but after rummaging around in my sewing box, I found an entire spool of white. Not the best quality perhaps, but I was on a mission. On Monday night at about eleven thirty, I had everything done except for a new edging. I intended to get some dark red fabric and white thread to finish it yesterday, but what with all the last-minute shopping for Christmas dinner (I'm going to make figgy pudding!) I forgot about going to the fabric store until I was on my way home and not at all inclined to turn around and head back to town.

So here it is: Still a bit frayed around the edges, but finally (almost) finished after nearly twenty years of patching.

Recovering from eyestrain (I have to do the handwork with my glasses off and the seam about three inches from my face) and carpal tunnel syndrome may take some time, but I consider my efforts to have been worthwhile. I'm guessing Grandmother would agree.
Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

All I Want for Christmas

Last week, my daughter asked me what I wanted for Christmas. She's five and spends her 50 cents a week allowance as soon as she gets it, so she has about 8 cents to her name. I couldn't think of a single thing to tell her.

It was so incredibly sweet of her to ask me what I wanted. I wanted to tell her I just wanted to have a nice holiday with her or for everyone to stay safe and healthy, but I knew she wouldn't accept those answers. She wants to give me something tangible. I ran through the list I'd given my family, trying to think of something she could manage. Fitbit? No. Kindle? No. New running shoes? No.

Finally Princess Galen chimed in: Mommy, I thought you might want a book to read.

Me: Yes, I love reading books, but I can't think of any I want at the moment. (By which I meant, none she could get me)

Princess Galen: Maybe I could write a book for you.

Me: I'd love that.

PG: I could draw all the pictures too.

Me: That would be great. You'd better ask Daddy to help you.


Princess Galen at age 2. Now she's writing books (maybe).

I don't know if I'll get the book. It's a big project for a 5-year-old who can't read more than 25 words on her own and only knows how to spell her name. But it reminds me of what Christmas is all about--thinking of others, giving of ourselves to others, giving from the heart not the wallet.

Have a wonderful Christmas with your loved ones.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Holidays...making people better, one random act of kindness at a time

Paying it forward...If you've heard the saying, you probably know what it means. If not, this is it in a nutshell: You receive a random act of kindness (especially from a stranger) and rather than paying them back, you do something nice for someone else. You pay it forward.

I was recently told about this movement that came about due to the Boston Marathon bombings. It's call Boston Strong Ducks. http://bostonstrongducks.com/

Basically, they're adorable little rubber duckies with a note around their necks, explaining that in order to counteract the few acts of pure evil in the world...like the Boston Marathon bombings, a new Boston revolution has begun. Do a random act of kindness, then hand the recipient the duckie which will explain that's what you're doing, and the duck asks that the kindness be paid forward.

So, cool! How fun and wonderful--at any time of year. In any city. But I'm a suburban Boston girl (born and raised,) so I went to the website and ordered 3 ducks. I'll put 2 in Christmas stockings, because why should I have all the fun? And they're only $5 with the proceeds going to the One Fund. (The fund helps the hundreds of people affected by loss of life, loss of limb, and/or loss of income.)

Okay...I'm prepared, but what to do? It's supposed to be random, so I waited to see when inspiration would strike.

A few days ago, I was at a large parking lot and couldn't find my car. I know. It happens, right? Well, I went up and down the same two lanes twice and a gentleman noticed me looking forlorn. He asked me to describe my car and said he'd help me look for it. My panic button didn't work, so I was sure it was stolen. A few minutes later, he found it! I was so relieved! I hugged this total stranger as if he'd just given me a new car. LOL

Well, that was a random act of kindness. Reminding me that it was my turn. I even had my duckie in my purse just waiting for the right moment.
I had to stop at the liquor store to pick up a gift, and as I was walking in I thought about the random act. I bought an extra bottle of wine and knew just who to give it to, Gail--The wonderful woman at the post office in my little town. She always has a bright smile and pleasant attitude. This time of year must try her patience, but she never loses her cool.

On my way home, I swung my car into the post office parking lot, (without so much as a card to mail.) I waited in line, then plunked down my Flirting with Fangs trilogy, the bottle of wine, and the rubber duckie, saying, "This is a random act of kindness...Ducky will explain everything." And out the door I went. I heard her exclaim in delighted surprise.

Boy that felt good!

I did another thing this season that felt especially good. I donated blood. I used to be one of the blood drive nurses, so I know how important those donations are this time of year! My pint of blood could save up to 3 lives...and it should be on shelves and ready by New Year's Eve.

So, think about the random acts of kindness you might want to do. Even though thinking about them makes them a little less random, all the kindness we can put back into the world should help make it a little bit better.

Oh, I suppose I should add a bit of promo here. One of my readers (Jennifer H.) does random acts of kindness for me all year. She takes little snippets out of my books and tweets them, along with links and hastags like @GoddessAsh's #pnr How to Date a #Dragon ow.ly/FOzKI #shifters #humor

And here comes the promo...Watch for the new spin-off series called Boston Dragons! Book 1 is titled:  I Dream of Dragons and will be released in Fall 2015. Book 2 is My Wild Irish Dragon has no release date yet. There will be a book 3, but titles haven't been discussed yet--mainly because I haven't written it yet! LOL. I'll keep you posted! Sign up for my newsletter or check my news blog. You can do both from my website:

If you love an author's books and want to do a random act of kindness, try promoting them for her!

Happy holidays to everyone, no matter what you celebrate! If you've ever been in a pay it forward situation, please share!  I'd love to hear it! 


Saturday, December 20, 2014

Christmas Already! And AGAIN?

This year we had a really different Thanksgiving as my son is Overseas for Christmas for a second year in a row, and so for Thanksgiving, the first time he's been here in years for Thanksgiving, we celebrated Christmas. So it seems strange to be having it again! Only this time with my daughter and SIL. So that meant decorating and cleaning BEFORE Thanksgiving, when we normally put up the tree the day after. It was great! I've enjoyed the decorations longer and it just is cheerful. Don't you think?

New puppies, Max, 5 months, Tanner, 9 weeks first meet at home.

Everyone had to get in on the act! The wolves, jaguars, teddy bears!

And this is the 2nd year that I've had a Christmas book out. Last year it was with the SEALs. This year, the Highlanders. And next year, the Silver Brothers. And after that with the jaguars.

This in for Jaguar Pride releasing in Feb!

From Night Owl Reviews!!! Score: 5.00 / 5 – Reviewer Top Pick

I loved Terry Spear’s Jaguar Pride. The story flowed so well and I was surprised when I finished it. I was completely absorbed and loved the characters. Any story with shifters involved is going to rock my world, but this one was just amazing. I found it interesting that the author went with poachers. Poachers are a big thing and it can get very dangerous to stop them because you are cutting into them getting big money. I truly enjoyed this book and can easily recommend it. I hope others will love it as much as I did.

In Jaguar Pride Huntley takes no prisoners and is one of a kind. He and his partner Melissa find shifter cubs, by themselves, on a mission he takes them under his wing. No one will hurt them under his watch and Melissa feels the same way.

Happy reading,
Wild Rayne

Jaguar Pride
Terry Spear

4 Stars

ISBN: 9781402293795

RT Review: The unexpected surprises included in this installment of the Heart of the Jaguar series are enough to make readers’ jaws drop. Spear’s latest is chilling and thrilling from start to finish – and fans of bad-ass cats will revel in each minute, clawing their way to the finish.

A Highland Wolf Christmas (Book 15)
(OCT 7, 2014)
Amazon | B&N | iBooks | Kobo | Book Depo | GoodReads

I think I'm ready for Christmas, except I've got to get more food. :)

What about you? Are you ready?

“Giving new meaning to the term alpha male where fantasy is reality.”
Connect with Terry Spear:
Wilde & Woolly Bears

Friday, December 19, 2014

The Peruvian Jungle Christmas Cat

by Amanda Forester

It's Christmas time and I'm innocently writing away when my cat, an extra large cat I must add, begins to bat at my hands with his large furry paw.  Miles the cat has decided I have been spending enough time at the keyboard and I must take time to pet him. Now. 

So I give his fuzzy head a scratch and attempt to return to my writing.  Again, the large, furry paw blocks my attempts and demands my attention.  I need to write, so we work out a compromise.  He will let me type, if I write him into the book.  Thus, Miles the cat makes a cameo appearance in Winter Wedding and becomes the unwanted Christmas present from our heroine, Penelope, who has rescued him from the freezing London streets, to the Dowager Duchess of Marchford.  Enjoy!

“That done be the largest cat I ever saw,” said one of the grooms, coming in from the cold.

“What are you gonna name it, miss?” asked a footman.

“Miles,” said Penelope without a second thought. “Because there are miles of cat here.”

The kitchen staff laughed and all gathered around the Christmas cat-dog. After a hearty feeding for the cat and some debate over whether Christmas syllabub or wassail punch should be served at dinner, and it being decided to prepare both, Penelope returned upstairs, a large bundle of damp cat in her arms.

Upon reaching the main floor, Penelope found a labyrinth of danger. Somewhere was the dowager, who must be avoided at all costs—a stray cat in her pristine household would be an abhorrence. And somewhere else lurked the duke. To make matters difficult, he had hung a maze of tiny bundles of mistletoe overhead. Not content with simply hanging it in doorways, he had constructed a web of string from which dangerous bundles of mistletoe hung at random intervals.

The real question was, did she want to get caught?

Well, did she? Clearly she had much too much cat in her arms for rational thought. Penelope took a breath and stole softly across the hall to the main stairs, one eye looking for the duke or dowager and the other eye nervously glancing above her. Miles, the enormous cat, chose that inopportune moment to make a rather large meow, which echoed loudly down the hall.

“What was that?” came the voice of the dowager from the sitting room.

“I shall go see,” replied the duke.

Nothing for it but to run. And run she did, except when she got to the stairs, she encountered a difficult problem with her hands full of cat, her wet slippers slick on the marble floor, and a meowing animal who did not appreciate the ride. She stepped on her skirts and went down on the stairs with a bump and a hiss.

“What the blazes…” Marchford stood above her. “Is that a dog?”

“No, actually,” said Penelope, trying to untangle her foot from the hem of her skirt. “It is a cat.”

“A what?” The dowager walked up and poked the damp creature with her cane before Penelope could pick it up again. Miles growled, looking more disreputable than ever.

Marchford glanced between the dowager and Penelope, his eyes narrowing. Penelope sighed. So much for her Christmas cat. She was certain she would be told to remove the beast, but the dowager just then noticed the web of mistletoe above her head.

“My stars and garters, what have you done?” exclaimed the dowager.

“I have mistletoed the house,” said Marchford defiantly. “I have decided that if I choose to decorate my home like a tradesman, I shall do it to distinction.”

“You have decided what?” the dowager’s voice was like ice.

“Too bad you have seen your Christmas present early,” said Marchford swiftly changing the subject.

“My present?” asked the dowager, slightly mollified, looking back at him and Penelope and the monstrosity in her arms in a distracted way.

“Yes, your present,” said Penelope. She had no idea where Marchford was going with this, but she took his lead.

“The extremely rare Peruvian jungle house cat,” said Marchford.

“The Peruvian jungle house what?” The dowager rapped her cane on the marble floor in irritation.

“The jungle house cat, from deepest Peru,” said Penelope. For all she knew it could be from Peru.

“That is a dog,” dismissed the dowager.

Miles, the Peruvian jungle house cat, meowed in complaint.

“Is that really a cat? I don’t want that thing,” exclaimed the dowager.

“I can keep it until later,” suggested Penelope.

“You can send that Peruvian beast back to—”

“Oh look, mistletoe!” declared Marchford. Penelope almost jumped into his arms, but Marchford turned and kissed his grandmother on the cheek.

Penelope took the clue, picked up her skirts and ran up the stairs. “Merry Christmas to all!” she called as she fled.

Merry Christmas from the myself and Miles the Peruvian Jungle House Cat.  May you all have a blessed holiday.

What is the most unexpected, unique, "Peruvian jungle house cat" present you have ever received?

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Something Amazing

Amazing doesn’t just mean “really good.” 

Here’s my definition of Amazing:
Amazing is surprising, delightful, new. It opens up new worlds and is a product of true creation. It’s also universal. Amazing speaks to the human spirit. 

What is your definition of Amazing, and/or: 

·         What is the most AMAZING romance novel you’ve read in the past month? 

·         What is the most amazing romance novel your best friend read in your last month? 

·         How about your mother? Your friend from work? Your Goodreads friend?

·         What is the amazing romance novel that you’ve heard about but haven’t read yet?   
·         What is the most amazing romance you’ve ever read?

·         Which of your own books is the most amazing one for you—either because of the process of writing it, or because of the way it turned out, or something else?

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Christmas Tradition by Linda Broday

Christmas has always been very special. As a child, I looked forward to the gifts. Now that I'm older, it's the time spent with family and all the laughter that fills my soul.

Since none of my family lives close, it's often months or sometimes a  year between visits, but we always manage to get together at Christmas.

My favorite ones are when it snows and the world outside looks like a beautiful wonderland that sparkles with magic.

We bake up a storm, filling every nook and cranny of the house with delicious aromas. In my family, eating is one thing we do best. Before she passed on, my mama used to spend the whole month of December making wonderful desserts and homemade soups. And of course, her fruit cake. That was a tradition for as long as I can remember. It wasn't Christmas without that. No one cooked like my mama.

On Christmas Eve we put on music and sing. It's always a running joke about who is worse at carrying a tune, but it doesn't much matter. You won't find any of us on The Voice.

Gift-opening doesn't happen until Christmas morning after church services but it's always a time of more laughter and much eating.

It's a special time for us and over far too soon.

While the characters in my upcoming book TEXAS MAIL ORDER BRIDE don't have an opportunity to celebrate the holiday, this is how they might do it.

Cooper Thorne would gripe about having to cut down a tree, but then he'd pull Delta Dandridge under a sprig of mistletoe and kiss her silly and that would lead to other things. Probably after a few hours pass, he'd trudge to the barn with a big smile on his face and get the ax.

I'm sure there'd be much more kissing as they decorate the tree. But knowing them, they'd probably leave it half done and go off to snuggle.

They are a pair. But love makes people act pretty crazy.

I'm sure their gifts would be of a personal nature and best opened in private. Yet, Delta would put a sack of lemon drops under tree since he loves them.

Texas Mail Order Bride releases on January 6 but is available for preorder.

I'd love to hear your Christmas traditions. 

Click HERE for the Amazon link.

Click HERE for Barnes and Noble.

Monday, December 15, 2014

DECK THE HALLS...By Michele Summers

Yep, it’s that time of year. You’re either in the throes of decorating or you’ve decided to bag it and uncork another bottle of wine. *hiccup* As an interior designer, the Christmas season becomes one of my busiest times of year. I’m either nagging my workrooms to get those pillows stuffed and window treatments hung or I’m trudging from house to house with ladder in tow, decorating my clients’ homes for the holidays…most especially their trees. There have been years where I’ve decorated as many as twelve different trees, ranging from 9’-14’ each with their own theme and color scheme. Not including my own trees for my kids. So, I feel pretty good about offering up some decorating tips. 

Maybe these will come in handy:

    Lights…more is more! At least 100 lights/foot. If you have an 8’ tree, you should have at the very least 8 strands of 100 lights. I usually do even more. And the best way to string them is in and out from the inside near the trunk to the edge of the branches. The deeper you place the lights, the more the tree glows and sets off your other ornaments. Another great trick, if you have the energy, is to wrap the trunk in lights which looks amazing.
   Ribbon: Should always go up after the lights. That way you can tuck it in and wrap it around without breaking your ornaments.
   Tree Topper: Place this before you start decorating; again to avoid breaking any other ornaments.

   Plain balls: Tuck inside the tree near the trunk to catch the light and to save the outer limbs for your special ornaments
   Special Ornaments: Deserve their special branch. If they’re family heirlooms or expensive Christopher Radko’s, secure them with pipe cleaner. I don’t trust flimsy ornament hooks.
  Artificial Trees: You can never have too much. They seem to absorb ornaments and the more you put on them the better they 

Hope this helped. (And yes, I'm done for this season...will be baking next) What are some of your decorating tips? Love to learn something new every year.

Merry! Merry!

Michele Summers
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