Saturday, December 12, 2015

It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like…

I celebrate Christmas but I recognize that others don’t and I’m okay with that. So I’m more than willing to wish a Happy Holidays to those who celebrate Chanukkah or Kwanzaa or some other variety, or nothing at all. To those who do celebrate it: Merry Christmas!

That’s really not relevant to anything else, but I wanted to say it.

With all of the gang gathered here last year, there was barely room
for all the stockings on the mantle.
This year Christmas is going to be different for us (my husband and I). For the last forty-some years, Christmas for our family has centered around our house, the one our children grew up in. The presents accumulated under our tree and everyone gathered here on Christmas Eve to hang stockings and then again on Christmas morning for cinnamon rolls and breakfast quiche before present-opening would begin. There’s always been lots of loud music, raucous games, laughter, and activity.

Even as our kids grew up, got married, and began their families, we always had one or more of them, with spouses and babies, here for the day. This year will be different. Our youngest daughter lives in northern Indiana and had her third child this year. It’s no longer practical for them to travel hundreds of miles each way to spend the holiday with parents.

Our only son moved to England some ten years ago, and married a lovely young Englishwoman. They have an 18-month-old daughter and a second child on the way. They actually did fly over for Christmas last year, but this year they’ll spend the holiday with her family in Kent.

Fortunately our oldest daughter lives close by, so we’ll likely go to her home Christmas morning, taking along our gifts. We’ll join her, her husband, two grown children, and her adult stepdaughter. Dinner will be at our place, since they don’t have a dining area large enough to accommodate everyone.

I’m really very glad that all of my kids have grown up to be wonderful people, and I’m thrilled they’ve all found someone to love, who loves them in return. I’m delighted to be grandmother to six lovely kids (and counting). This is what every parent wants for their children.

But it will still be an oddly quiet Christmas. On the other hand there should be more time for reading and writing.

Who knows? Maybe next year we’ll travel ourselves and celebrate Christmas on Indiana or in England.


Thursday, December 10, 2015

Six Holiday Reads

If you love holiday stores like I love holiday stories, have we got a treat for you. Five holiday books from four Classic and Cozy authors.

The Pastor's Christmas Match 

Pastor Connor Donnelly is done with romance. After proposing to his high school sweetheart, Natalie Delacroix, five years ago—and being turned down—he's putting all his time and energy into his community. He's determined to make the Christmas pageant he's directing a success. But family and friends are set on fixing up the good-looking bachelor in time for the holidays. And now that Natalie is back in Paradox Lake—and helping with the pageant—they might just succeed. Because working so closely with Natalie stirs up old feelings…and Connor starts to hope for a second chance with the one who got away.

The Donnelly Brothers:
Hometown boys make good...and find love.

Buy links (Amazon, Harlequin, B&N and iBooks):

It’s two weeks before Christmas and Meg Brandt, a department manager at Wambash’s, “the store with the answer to all your family’s needs,” has problems beyond the usual seasonal chaos. Her department is losing cash from the registers. Inventory is leaving the premises unrecorded and unpaid.

Security is focusing on her, since the losses are happening on her watch. Her efforts to track down the source of the disappearances have produced no results, and her career appears to be headed for oblivion. When the store’s new security officer starts showing unusual attention to her, Meg isn’t sure what to think. He’s attractive in any number of ways, but she can’t be sure if his interest is personal or professional.

Buy link:

Can Christmas Eve get any more fun? On her way to her family's home, Carol Prescott’s car slides into a ditch in a deserted area with no cell phone signal. The only available shelter is already occupied…by a vampire. To Michael Carpenter, Carol is the bait of a trap.

In an effort to hold onto his soul, Michael has resisted the urge to drink human blood for almost a century. Now he hovers between human and vampire. If he doesn’t drink from a human before the night ends, he’ll die. He’s desperately thirsty, but Michael has seen the soulless monsters vampires are and he prefers death. Carol is pure temptation to him, the Christmas present from hell…or is it from heaven?

Buy link:

Snow-covered mountains, a secluded cabin, and a crackling fire had been the perfect escape from the chaos of the holiday season for English professor Margaret Daniels. Little did she know when she opened the door for Paul Reynor to carry in a load of firewood, this holiday would be unlike any other. Paul’s assertive attitude and down-home charm bring a smile to her lips but add to the confusion between her heart and her mind.

As Paul and Margaret grow closer through the snow-filled days, they both fight an attraction that seems to challenge everything Margaret thought she wanted. In the end their love must bridge the cultural gap and awaken in them the possibility of a second chance.

New Year's Eve is a time for reflection and change. Jocelyn has more changes coming at her from all directions beginning on a Portland, Maine winter day than she's faced since her mother's death. None of it bodes well for the junior editor's fledgling career when her fiancĂ© abandons her. If not for three unwise princes, a Viking warrior and a sinkhole…

So starts the last day of an Old Year in Jocelyn Tavers's life. Over the next 12 months, she faces her 26th birthday, falling on Mother's Day, at the same time as she wonders what happened to a certain officious lawman and a certain deserter father remembers her birthday after only fifteen years of neglect.

An ex-boyfriend and the appearance of a complete stranger are not the only obstacles to disrupt her author's book launch, especially when that stranger is her next editing assignment.  

Buy links:
#1'Twas the Night Before New Year:
#6 (the end of the series) "Twas the Night Before Christmas Eve:
The entire series is in paperback: Nights Before: The Novel:

It's Christmas in Hawaii, but Lindsay Clark's vacation turns out to be anything but relaxing. With her uncle absent, she finds herself managing the hotel—a task at which she's normally very successful. However, Lindsay's life is turned upside down by the unfamiliar environment, Christmas festivities, and a very tempting guest—Chandler Lewis. He's the honorary Santa for the Kona Christmas parade and has a great life back home in California. Romance is the last thing on his mind. But when he meets Lindsay, he begins to wonder if life could be sweeter in Hawaii.

Buy link: 

Sunday, December 6, 2015

101 Gift Ideas for Writers and Book Lovers

by Victoria M. Johnson

Just when you thought you had everything—here is the blog post that will have you realizing that you've been missing out.  I began compiling this list a couple of years ago when my mind drew a blank every time my loved ones would ask, "What do you want for Christmas, or your birthday, or Valentine's Day."  I would take forever to come up with an answer.  Well, I'd take several days at least, and by that time they sometimes had given up and bought me a gift card.  I'm okay with a gift card but that seemed to distress them.

101 gift ideas for writers and book lovers

I never get writer's block but I suffer from gift idea block when it comes to a gift for myself.  So this compilation of awesome gift ideas is for anyone who wants to give suggestions to their loved ones, or find something unique for a writer or anyone who loves books, or to buy something special for yourself.  Are you the kind of writer who rewards herself for making a deadline, or for completing a first draft, or for kicking butt during NaNoWriMo?  If so, look to this list for that amazing reward.

I did something better than compile a list, however.  What's better than a list, you ask?  I pinned each item to one of my Pinterest boards so that you get a picture of it, a link to where I found it, and a tiny blurb about it.  But, you don't have to read anything, just browse through the photos.  Out of 101 items, I know you'll find several gift ideas.  You really will.  Here's the link:

101 gift ideas for writers and book lovers

From a banned books bracelet to a typewriter tote bag, you'll love what you see.  Tell me about your favorite items below.  I hope this post and board will make Santa's job easier this year.  Happy shopping!

Victoria M Johnson
Victoria M. Johnson knew by the time she was ten that she wanted to be a writer.  She loves telling stories and she's happiest when creating new characters and new plots.  Avalon Books and Montlake Romance published Victoria's fiction debut, The Doctor’s Dilemma.  Her other fiction books are a collection of romance short stories titled, The Substitute Bride, and a novella, Hot Hawaiian Christmas. She is also the writer and director of four short films and two micro documentaries.   Visit Victoria's website at for inspiration and tips and find her Amazon author page or connect with her on Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Good Grief! Today is What???

by Janis Susan May/Janis Patterson

This year the Christmas elves have morphed into malign gremlins, entangling me in strings of tinsel and lights and sending me crashing flat on my face. I try not to post just one essay to both my first Wednesday blogs, preferring to do two different posts on two different subjects, but this time I really have no choice. You see, I forgot. It is now almost half an hour after they should have gone up online, and I am sitting desperately writing in a dark cold office while every other creature in the house is contentedly sleeping, including The Husband.

I do have good excuses/reasons – many of them. Christmas shopping. Out of town family come to visit. Self-indulgently, parties. A couple of meetings that could not be missed. Two hard deadlines breathing fire down my neck – one to finish a book, the other to finish edits. A chronic physical health problem flaring up, as usual at the most inconvenient time. And, perhaps the most annoying of all, this is our seventh week of having no internet at home, meaning that I will be breakfasting at my favorite internet cafĂ© as soon as it opens in order to get this posted. I really don’t know whether to go ‘sigh’ or ‘grrrr.’ Or both.

As I have said before, do not marry an overly-analytical man. It does get ugly.

So now what shall I say to redeem myself? Nothing, because the forgetting of such a long-standing and treasured responsibility is unacceptable. Hand to heart, I promise to be better.

With any luck at all, all our Christmas shopping will be done this week. Except for my own present, I do all the shopping for the family, but I have been known to have to buy my own occasionally. In both The Husband’s and my families we only give token gifts as we are all blessed with what we really need, but the list is long and it is hard to find even tokens that are not outrageously expensive. As I lurch from store to store, happily shrinking list and traumatized credit card in hand, it is a painful mental gymnastic to think of something appropriate to give each individual. I predict that the gift-card people will be getting most if not all of our business this year.

So, dear reader, the hour is wee, the office is cold, and I am tired. Again, I beg your pardon for such culpable behavior, do promise to be better, and wish each and every one of you a very Merry Christmas!

(And if you see a couple of elves with sinister expressions carrying ropes of tinsel and lights, please don’t tell them that you’ve seen me!)