Beginning January 1, 2013

Stop by and let us know what you think of the new look!

Friday, December 31, 2010

Jingle Bell Blog Fest: Frances Pauli


Click here and tell us what Frances developed for a chance to win a  $50 Amazon or Barnes and Noble gift certificate.



A Holly Jolly Story

I had no intention of ever writing a holiday story. I mean, I had nothing against them. I just hadn’t really considered doing it. Somewhere along the way, I relegated them to the category labeled, “interesting but not on my agenda.” Oh, how wrong I was. 

Last year I sold my first books, and I was dead in the middle of the waiting for the next step—any next step—to happen when the holiday season hit. I watched new releases intently, scrutinizing the author’s strategy, the cover art, titles, excerpts etc in hopes of learning something I could use when my turn rolled around. Surprisingly, something about those holiday stories struck an unexpected chord. I wanted one. I developed a bad case of holiday story envy. 

Maybe the season just lends itself to romance. The chemistry is already flowing, a romantic mood is upon the entire nation—sighing, happy, glassy-eyed anticipation is in abundance, after all. At the very least, those holly-enshrouded covers looked enticing. They looked fun! I wanted to play too, and I vowed that the next season, I’d have a holiday release among the crowd. 

Well, by George, I did it. Let me tell you, it was even more fun than I suspected, and I haven’t even hit release day yet. I learned a few things along the way too. Primarily, it’s not quite so easy to feel holly jolly when you’re writing in March. Who knew? Even so, I think a holiday romance is the perfect mating of warm-fuzzy things. So I thought I’d share the reasons I believe romance and the season of cheer are a perfect match.

#1 The excitement. I mentioned this, that breathless anticipation is contagious, and a core thing in common between romance and our favorite time of year. 

#2 The clothing. Fancy dress parties--velvet, fur trim… how much more romance-y can you get?

#3 The food. Sweets for the sweet. The pervasive smell of comfort foods baking, sigh. 

#4 The weather. Cold equals bundling and, more importantly, snuggling. 

#5 The presents. What is better than a romantic gift? (Especially one handed over on bended knee)

#6 The magic. The most important element, I suspect, is that holiday magic. You know what I mean, the feeling that anything can happen. The holiday season screams miracles. It’s a time full of surprises and magic and very happy endings.

What more could we want in our romance? Well, maybe there are a few things. Still, for this author capturing the romance of the holiday on the page illustrated just how much they belonged together. I hope everyone reads a holiday romance this season, and has a fantastic celebration of their own. 

Thanks for having me.
Frances Pauli

Despite a tragic predilection to paint, Frances finally discovered her calling as a writer sometime in her mid thirties. As a lifetime reader of Science Fiction and Fantasy, the stories that clammer for her attention inevitably fall into the Speculative Fiction category.

She currently resides in Washington State with her husband, two small children, and a host of unusual and exotic pets.

Frances eats far too much chocolate, drinks far too little wine and does her best to get the stories out and on paper before they drive her completely insane.

More about her work and links to her stories can be found at: http://francespauli.com/ 


Thursday, December 30, 2010

Jingle Bell Blog Fest: Linda Swift


Click here and tell us what happened to Linda's turkey for a chance to win a  $50 Amazon or Barnes and Noble gift certificate.

                                                    
 Tis The Season

        We had just moved to Alabama a few months before Christmas. My husband returned to Kentucky to bring our daughter home from college for the holidays and he also brought my widowed mother, his mother and her husband. They were to arrive in the early afternoon so I had the morning to prepare the turkey and dressing.

        Not bothering to dress while cooking, I was wearing a faded chenille robe, floppy houseshoes, no makeup and had my hair in rollers. Things were going well as I attended other tasks while the bird basted in a plastic brown-n-serve bag. The stove timer alerted me that the bird was done and I removed the roasting pan and placed it on the stovetop. I was eager to get those succulent juices into the bowl of dressing I was mixing, so I attempted to move the pan to the counter across the room. It was heavier than I anticipated and the bird started sliding and ended up on the kitchen floor. 

        The bag burst and turkey broth spilled onto the floor and my fuzzy slippers while I stood in horrified shock. Then I went into action, grabbed a roll of paper towels and mopped up as much as I could.  I managed to get the turkey back onto the pan and hoisted it to the counter, lamenting the loss of that essential broth.

        While I mopped, I had a few choice words for Tom Turkey and the bag he browned in as I tried to figure out the best way to save the day. At least, this disaster had occurred while I was alone in the house and still had plenty of time to clean up the kitchen and myself. It was a moment before I heard the sound of a car horn in the driveway above my dark mutterings. And just then my husband stuck his head in the kitchen door and said with a wide grin, "Surprise. We got here early."

        "Go drive around the block!" I snarled, as he crossed the kitchen with open arms to greet me with a kiss. Instead he slipped on the still-slick floor and clutched at me to steady himself, bringing us both down in a tangle. And we were thrashing about like two lovers in the throes of passion when the others appeared in the doorway.

        "Don't come in," I yelled.

        "Well, did you ever?" my mother-in-law said to my mother as they stopped in the doorway in shocked disbelief.

        I finally disentangled myself and struggled up, while I tried to explain the situation. My daughter led her grandparents to the front door while my husband got a mop to clean the floor. I went to greet the family properly, then got dressed and returned to cope with the situation. I found some chicken broth in the pantry and my mother mixed the dressing while I grappled with the bird. He was nice and brown and looked rather regal when I placed him on a platter. 

        "Did you remember to take the giblet bag out of it?" My M-I-L asked as she eyed the bird with suspicion.

        "Oh, yes, I did." I would have thought she'd forgotten that incident from my early marriage by now.

        M-I-L made slaw while my daughter set the table. The men brought in the luggage and presents while we finished dinner preparations.  I reminded myself that all's well that end's well as we sat at table savoring the holiday feast. But I couldn't help but notice that my M-I-L was eating dressing without any turkey.  

Linda Swift divides her time between her native state of Kentucky and Florida. She has been writing since she was ten and is an award winning author of published poetry, articles, short stories, and a TV play. Her first two books were published by Kensington.

     Linda's holiday ebooks are THE TWELVE DAYS OF CHRISTMAS, Awe-Struck, and LET NOTHING YOU DISMAY, The Wild Rose Press. CIRCLE OF LOVE, TWRP, and HUMANLY SPEAKING (prose poems), Willow Moon Publishing, are available in ebook and print.  Her Civil War historical, two contemporary fiction and one Haiku collection will be released in 2011

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Jingle Bell Blog Fest: Paty Jager


Click here and tell us when Paty writes her holiday letter for a chance to win a  $50 Amazon or Barnes and Noble gift certificate.

Holiday Frenzy

At this time of year it seems like the days are literally shorter, not just the daylight. Candy and cookies to make, not to mention the infamous fruitcake if that’s one of your family traditions. Buying and wrapping presents, decorating… It all seems to cause more anxiety than what the holiday originated from.

I’ve found that by prioritizing what needs to get done and tackling the major things first I can find the time to relax, enjoy a good book or short story about the holidays. I also listen to upbeat Christmas music while I’m tackling the holiday tasks.

I like to make gingerbread people for all my immediate family members. Before our kids were married it included my brothers’ and my husband’s sister’s families. Now it’s my children, their spouses, and the grandkids, plus the great grandparents. This is one of the first things I tackle because I hang them on the tree. They are part of my ornaments. For the families that can’t be here, I put their cookies together for a photo and send it to them.

Baking is done in the evenings while I’m watching TV. (My kitchen opens into the living room) The holiday letter is written in November so I can get it out early. Cards to friends go out the middle of the month. (both mailed and e-cards).

Decorating happens from Thanksgiving on. I pull a box of decorations out and put them up as I feel like it. When that box is done, I pull out another one. The process of decorating is ongoing through out the month of December. After all, the only ones who see it until the actual holiday season are my husband and I.

Gifts—I pick those up starting in October and go until the first of December. I keep a list of what I’ve purchased and who gets what so I can keep an even amount among the grandchildren and make sure the adult kids are happy, too.  I could save myself time, money and effort by sending gift cards to the families in Alaska but then I couldn’t give each of them my own special love. I always try and make something for the grandkids. My mom has been gone for twenty years, but my girls still have pillows and dolls she made for them. 

Now that I have my list and know when to do what, I can sit back, listen to Christmas carols and make the bookmarks for my newest release- Bridled Hearts.

How about you-Are the holidays a time to enjoy family or a time of anxiety and frenzy?

Award winning author Paty Jager has seven books published with The Wild Rose Press. Her first contemporary western received the EPPIE award and her second has been released and is available for purchase here.  Paty not only writes the western lifestyle she lives it. She and her husband of 32 years have 160 acres they ranch when not chasing around visiting grandchildren.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Jingle Bell Blog Fest: Betty Jo Schuler

 Click here and tell us who made Betty Jo's tree skirt for a chance to win a  $50 Amazon or Barnes and Noble gift certificate.
Decorated with Love 

      Christmas Eve, late at night, my husband Paul and I pour a glass of wine, sit on the floor by our fragrant pine, the room lit only by the tree's soft lights. 

      Our Christmas tree is decked with love and memories, and on this particular night, we reminisce. There's a tiny red-and-white striped stocking, yellowed over the years, that I bought the year my first son was born.  (Paul wasn't a part of my life then; we married when my youngest son was in high school, but they are like his own and he's a beloved stepfather and step-grandfather.)  A "God's Eye" made of Popsicle sticks woven with yarn nestles in the branches, a gift made by our first grandson, his initials on the back,written in crayon. Picture-frame ornaments with photos of other grandchildren, when they were small, evoke tender memories.  A smiling ice cream cone, a gift from my daughter and her husband, marks the sale of my first published children's book, Ice Cream for Breakfast.  A china bell with shamrocks, brought from Ireland, and a gold cross from Rome, are mementos from my youngest son and his wife's travels. 

      Paul's and my trips are noted too, and there are decorations given to us by his brother and sister, and mine, and my favorite cousin.  Beaded candy canes and wreaths were made by an aunt that's deceased.  And the lights that bubble around the bottom of our Christmas tree were purchased only a few years ago, but reminders of Paul's childhood, they still intrigue little ones. The quilted tree skirt, hidden by piles of gifts before our family opening, bears a large green S on a background of red and white—a treasured gift made by our daughter-in-law.  Our middle son and his wife gave us appropriate ornaments for our interests, a golf club for my husband and a book for me.

Betty Jo Schuler and her husband moved to Florida four years ago.  They sold their house and furniture but among the things they brought along was a large red plastic box filled with their Christmas tree ornaments.  They started over with new furnishings and bought an artificial tree their first Christmas in the Sunshine State, but they missed the real pine and needed a bigger one to hold all their ornaments and memories. The author of twenty-two books, Betty Jo writes for children, teens, and adults. A former elementary teacher, she an instructor for Writers Digest University online classes. Her latest books are Mystic Mansion, How Not to Date a Hollywood Star and No Rain, No Rainbows, all middle grade YA and published by Books We Love Publishing Partners. Visit her website at http://bettyjowrites.com/ or her page at http://www.bookswelove.net/schuler.php

Monday, December 27, 2010

Jingle Bell Blog Fest: Diane Craver

Click here and tell us one book Diane remembers getting for Christmas for a chance to win a  $50 Amazon or Barnes and Noble gift certificate.
“Books for Christmas Presents”

I remember various gifts I received as a child at Christmas time. Dolls were always a favorite gift, especially the year I got a Shirley Temple doll. My older sister, Carolyn, even made clothes for it….and not just a few. She had a small, red suitcase filled with pajamas, coats, and darling dresses. She bought a pattern and sewed all of them herself. What a special gift! Although I loved receiving dolls for Christmas, I also remember all the wonderful books that made an impression on me as a child.

Lady and the Tramp, Peter Pan, Bobbsey Twins, and all kinds of wonderful thick books of fairy tales brought me early joy. A few years later, Nancy Drew books were under the tree for me, which got me started on the road to loving mysteries. I love that my chick-lit mystery, A Fiery Secret, is many times featured on the same book page with a Nancy Drew mystery.I can’t leave out the various medical romances I loved getting later. 

This Christmas I have two new releases, A Christmas Gift by Whimsical Publications and A Christmas CollectionAnthology: Sensual by Victory Tales Press. I’m going to purchase print copies of my releases to put in my adult children’s stockings. Yes, I still do stockings. We don’t have grandchildren yet so it’s hard to discontinue this tradition.

What about you? Do you give books for Christmas gifts? If so, do you buy fiction or nonfiction for your gift giving? I know my sister-in-law enjoys giving us self-help books. As much as I appreciate this, sometimes I wish she’d throw in a few romances in her selections. LOL  


Author Bio:
Diane Craver met her husband while teaching at an orphanage, and they married in 1975.  While raising their six children in southwestern Ohio, Diane started writing nonfiction. Later, she decided it would be a nice escape to write fiction.

Diane has published through a variety of houses, including Booklocker.com, Samhain, Desert Breeze, Whimsical Publications, and Victory Tales Press. She writes fun and inspiring stories filled with memorable characters. Diane gives thanks to God daily for all her wonderful blessings.

Learn more about Diane and her books at http://www.dianecraver.com.
WEBSITE LINK: http://www.whimsicalpublications.com/,  http://victorytalespress.yolasite.com/

Friday, December 24, 2010

Jingle Bell Blog Fest: Gail Pallotta


Click here and tell us when Gail's family opens presents for a chance to win a  $50 Amazon or Barnes and Noble gift certificate.

             When Is Christmas?

Some say that Christ wasn’t born on December 25th. They claim that Christians took the date from a Roman holiday honoring the sun or a sun god. The Britannica Encyclopedia says Christians took the date to rival pagan feasts taking place during the Winter Solstice, which honored a new age brought by the sun. Depending on location, the Winter Solstice occurs on or around December 25th. Even though it lasts only an instant in time, many cultures have held festivals marking it as midwinter. According to some, Christmas simply grew to be one of the most popular events.

Nonetheless, every year by the time we’ve celebrated Thanksgiving, festive decorations acknowledging the birth of Christ appear in overwhelming numbers across the American landscape. A majority of homes have wreaths on their doors, candles in their windows and lights in the yards. Jolly old Santa Claus sits in the middle of the mall to greet youngsters. Christmas carols fill the airways. And this celebration continues until after December 25th, so when is Christmas?

While many open their presents on Christmas Day we open ours on Christmas Eve after we stuff ourselves with turkey. Usually I rush to put away the dishes and clean up our great room so we can make the midnight service at church. Then, we hurry out the door into the brisk, cold night. After a short drive I see the church lit up like a beacon in the still, quiet darkness. We park and walk quickly inside to find three seats on the back pew.

I settle myself and try to hush the thoughts of shopping, baking and wrapping that linger in my head by gazing at the green wreaths, poinsettias and brilliantly lit Christmas tree.  When I turn in my hymnal to “O Come All Ye Faithful” and the choir and congregation start singing, the loud, joyous sound of the season captures my heart. After a family lights the Christ candle on the Advent wreath, which symbolizes Jesus as the light of the world, the minister reads the story of Jesus’ birth and proclaims his gospel of love. At the end of the service the ushers dim the lights and give each parishioner a candle. One by one we carefully tip our flame to the candle of the person beside us and sing “Silent Night.” The flickering lights gradually illuminate the sanctuary and the sweet melody takes me back to the first Christmas, when the angels announced Christ’s birth, the shepherds left their flocks and the wise men started their journey to the manger. After we blow out our candles the service ends with the powerful sound of the choir singing Handel’s "Messiah," and it is Christmas. Sadly, someone had to crucify Christ to atone for the sins of all of us, but triumphantly he rose to give us salvation. And he lives today. Christmas is when we open our hearts to him.

 
Love Turns the Tide is Gail’s first romance, but she’s been writing for as long as she can remember, publishing her first story in a grammar school newspaper. Much later, she worked as an editor and copywriter. Between freelance writing and feature stories she wrote at work she’s published several hundred articles. In 2004, the year her first book, Now Is the Time, came out, the American Christian Writers Association named her a regional writer of the year. When Gail isn’t writing she enjoys swimming and bargain shopping. She lives in Georgia with Rick, her husband of thirty-eight years.


Thursday, December 23, 2010

Jingle Bell Blog Fest: Sherry Gloag


Click here and tell us how long Ben and Gina have been married for a chance to win a  $50 Amazon or Barnes and Noble gift certificate.

“You shouldn’t be on that ladder!”  The sight of his heavily pregnant wife reaching up to place the fairy on top of the Christmas tree shot Ben across the room, his briefcase falling to the floor unheeded.

“What!” 

The ladder swayed, Ben grabbed it and cursed.  The fairy arced into the air and landed at the other side of the room. 

“For goodness sake, now look what you’ve done Ben.” Gina cast an exasperated glance down at the shaking man now welded to the ladder. “You startled the life out of me.”

“Not half as much as the sight of you about to lose your balance up there scared me, I can tell you!  I don’t want to spend our first Christmas as a family at the hospital A and E department.”  He lifted her to safety and lowered her gently to the floor then rested his forehead against hers.  It took several moments for his heart rate to drop back to normal. Then with one hand he caressed her swollen abdomen, then cupped her face and drew her in for a kiss.  “I know we were married last Christmas, but there’s something about being together and knowing our child is a part of it that makes this year special.”  He glanced at the decorations strewn across the floor and the lights carefully laid along the back of the settee, and let the love surround him.
For the first ten years of his life Christmas was a cold lonely room with little to eat, and for Gina the sights, sounds and stench of surrounding streets and damp cardboard boxes, were reality. He vowed then and there, with Gina snuggled up against his chest, that he’d keep her and his children safe, and wrapped in love.

“You know?” Gina pulled away and smiled up at him, “I find it hard sometimes, to believe we were lucky enough to find each other.” 

“Synchronicity.”

She shook her head; then looked back at the tree. 

“Magic!  The same magic you find in Christmas.  I don’t mean the commercialism,” she added quickly when Ben snorted.  “I’m talking about the basic message of Christmas, the continuity, the trust and belief, the love…”  She stopped, thought for a moment then continued. “The kind of love I’m talking about is boundless, has its own energy, finds its own level and destination.

“Contrary to expectations we came together and overcame the odds against us.   Christmas reminds us to celebrate each day and the newness of life.”  Gina’s hand curled over Ben’s cradling the son their doctor insisted would arrive on Christmas day.


* * * *
Sherry Gloag delights in the knowledge her debut novel, The Brat, released in October 2010 by The Wild Rose Press, is ‘out there’ in time for Christmas.  Twice in the past decade fortune tellers told her she would have a book published in 2010.  Twice she disbelieved them.  Now she blushes with remorse for her cynicism.

When she’s not writing, Sherry Gloag enjoys gardening, walking and reading. For relaxation she disappears into her workshop and involves herself in crystal craftwork.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Jingle Bell Blog Fest: Jennifer Leeland

  Click here and tell us one of the authors Jennifer enjoys for a chance to win a  $50 Amazon or Barnes and Noble gift certificate.

IT'S THE MOST WONDERFUL TIME OF THE YEAR, RIGHT?

You're busy, aren't you?

My husband (I call him "The Redneck") and I call it the downward slide into the holidays.  It starts around Halloween and careens into Thanksgiving and Christmas like a six year old tears into Christmas presents.
But there's a few moments before I drop off to sleep that I can do my absolutely favorite thing.
Read.

Whether it's the butter soft feel of a paperback novel or the smooth silky surface of my Sony Reader, I can settle in for a little escape into another world.  And around this time of year?  I need it.  For  a little while, I can experience the strong emotions of Joey W. Hill's vampires or delve into Robin Rotham's science fiction yummy goodness.  I can travel in Mima's beautiful and dangerous landscapes, shifting with her characters in their struggles. As the night wanes, I can fall in love with Fae Sutherland's heroes or follow Crystal Jordan's heroines through their harrowing trials.  Kate Pearce takes me back into historical England and Christine D'Abo sends me spinning in the stars.  A whole lifetime in an hour.

The best thing about being a writer is that I have access to so many good books, not just the ones the stores have on their shelves.  Because I started to write, I got a glimpse of Jeanne Lin's Butterfly Swords before the buzz for it began.  I, and many others on Romance Divas, instantly recognized the genius, the talent that pours from Jeanne's writing.  How cool is that?

So, this year, when you're running around trying to find the perfect gift, remember the gift of reading.  Sure, not everyone is into books, but everyone is into escaping every once and a while.  You can give them the key to the door that leads to another world.

Here's my latest offering.


Bound Among the Stars
by Jennifer Leeland and Mima
In the future, a man’s name is still the key to freedom and a beast can still be set free by love.
Some things never change. Fairy tales reach forward into the stars with this duo of heroes trapped in desperate circumstances. Incredible sex isn’t a magical answer, and there aren’t any magic wands. It’s up to a brave princess and a sweet baker to discover happy endings must be earned.
“Commanded to Mate” by Jennifer Leeland
The proud lovely colonist is bound to marry an alien beast.
Terrified Sierra Pasquel agrees to an arranged marriage to the monstrous Dormrelian ambassador. To save her family and her colony, she’ll do whatever it takes, including a four-eyed, four-armed beast of an alien.

Terek Majii is the holder of a centuries-old secret cursing his race. His people are on the edge of extinction and Sierra holds the key. As he teaches her about passion through touch, not sight, he prays he’ll be able to win her trust. Not because two colonies depend on them, but because his love for her is everything.
“Bitter Gold” by Mima
An innocent woman is bound to an alien slave.
Stillskin lives for the day he can rid himself of the slave clamp around his heart and leave this den of powerful addicts. Then his foul masters drag Liese to the enclave. The kind baker is the one spot of pleasure in his life, and he will risk much to help her.

He is the most exotic thing she’s ever seen, dark and stoic. If only there was a way she could help free him. When she is kidnapped and taken to the disgusting enclave, she believes it means her death. But Stillskin convinces her to fight back. Now two friends are trapped in a dire race for freedom.

Happy Holidays!


MY BIO

Once upon a time, there was a little girl…
I loved Harlequin romances when I was little and used to sneak them from my mother’s bookshelf. But my father influenced me with Agatha Christie, Ngiao Marsh and Arthur Conan Doyle. I always loved to write but never thought about becoming an author.
In 2003, a profound experience changed that. My mother showed me a manuscript written by my father. No one had ever seen it. No agent. No editor. No one. He died in 2002 never realizing his dream to be a published author.
I wondered if that would be my fate? Would my family come across my attempts at story telling and shake their heads in pity? I vowed that I would at least try.
It has been a fabulous journey creating new worlds and exploring new emotions. As you’ll find out, I have a special relationship with my characters, who both annoy me and inspire me.
I live with a Redneck, who loves to brainstorm with me on occasion, and my two dirt faced Okie kids in the Northern California Boonies. And I write all my love scenes with Thomas The Tank Engine in the background.

My Webpage
My MySpace Page

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Jingle Bell Blog Fest: Kemberlee Shortland

Click here and tell us what diet Mrs. Claus did not like  for a chance to win a  $50 Amazon or Barnes and Noble gift certificate.

Interview with Kris Kringle by Kemberlee Shortland

   Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to chat with us, Kris. We understand how busy you must be this time of year.

What can you tell us a bit about yourself, your family, and your job?


I was born in Patara of Lycia, now Turkey, sometime in the middle of the 3rd century . When you're my age, the exact date doesn't seem to matter. Ho, ho, ho! I was raised in a monastery in Myra when my folks passed away. When I was 30 I became the Bishop of Lycia. Of course, back then I was called Nicholas.

I'm married to Mrs. Claus. In all our years of wedded bliss, she still won't tell me what her first name is . We weren't blessed with our own children, but we have hundreds of Elvi living with us now. And well, we've kind of adopted the children of the world as our own, haven't we?

I think I've got the best job in the world. I work one twenty-four hour shift, then I'm off for the rest of the year. Ho, ho, ho! If you believe that, maybe you should get coal in your stocking this year . Seriously, being Santa Claus is no laughing matter. Certainly the 24th is the busiest night of the year for Claus and Company, but the rest of the year we put in long days and sometimes the evenings too. We now have billions of names to check, crosscheck and re-check again to be sure they're on the right list. Then there are the letters we get from those little tykes asking for special presents. We have a special department for that. Then there's production, quality control, engineering . . . we've quite a large manufacturing facility at the North Pole. Sure, I could just wiggle my nose and make presents appear, but that wouldn't be any fun now, would it?

What do you enjoy the most about being Mr. Christmas?

Ho, ho, ho! Oh . . . there's just so much I enjoy about being me. I get to meet people from all over the world. I know all the languages. Even that silly hand thing they do on the lower east side .

I love to give gifts too, but only to the good boys and girls. For the bad girls and boys I have a coal shed out back . Hey, where do you think we get the coal for the stockings?

How did you get started and interested in gift giving? When did Christmas begin?
Back in the old days, and I'm going back to the 3rd century, I used to be creative with my hands. I'd carve and shape things all year, and save them up for the big day. I had this cute little donkey, Ho, ho, ho . . . that was his name, Ho, ho, ho . . . and we'd ride out across the countryside once a year and deliver the toys to poor children. Word got around and the wealthy parents started commissioning things for their kids. Then neighboring communities found out and they wanted things for their kids and well, it just snowballed . . .pardon the pun.

It was after they made me a saint that I moved to the North Pole. I was hoping for a little peace and quiet up there. Then I met the Elvises. Nice little family with pointy ears and funny shoes. Requests for gifts kept pouring in so the Elvises helped me set up shop, and well . . . you know the rest.

Do you have any favorite toys?
I promised Mrs. Claus I wouldn't talk about those .

Moving right along . . . What has been your best memory of Christmas so far?
Ho, ho,ho! By far the feeling I get when I see the joy on the little one's faces when they receive their special Santa gifts .

Do you have a routine you follow during the year to help get in shape for the big night?

You know, I tried that low carb diet and the South Beach Diet. Poor Mrs. Claus suffered through the week I was on the cabbage soup diet. Who am I kidding? The poor Elvises threatened to quit if I didn't have more windows installed in the factory. In the end, I just stopped dieting. My good friend and mentor Father Time reminded me that I'm immortal and that a skinny Santa just wasn't right. Ho, ho, ho! I do have to pace myself though. At every stop is a plate of cookies or Christmas cake waiting with a glass of milk .

What do you find the hardest about preparing for Christmas?
You know, if I had a few more hours in the day I'd like to relax a little, maybe sit by the hot tub a little more, get one of those little Jamaican gals to come up and braid my beard .

Seriously, a few more hours in the day wouldn't go amiss, especially on the 23rd. Do you have any idea how difficult it is to pack a few billion toys onto that little sleigh?

What is your biggest pet peeve about the holidays? Is there anything that turns you off about Christmas?
Heck yeah! I think the whole thing has gotten too commercial. Back in the old days, it was about love and family and community. Today it's all about "keeping up with the Jones's." Kids want toys better than the kid next door, Mom's trying to bake herself into exhaustion, Dad's obsessive about the turkey. I tell you, Spot and Whiskers have it right. Just camp out by the fire all day with your legs in the air. Ho, ho, ho! And I can tell you, the Jones's are just a normal family!

I think we should get back to homemade gifts, things we create especially for someone, things that come from the heart, that's what Christmas is all about. Tell someone you love them. That's the best gift anyone could get.

I'm sure the readers would like to know about your reading habits. Do you have much time to read?
I love to read. It's a great way to escape for a few hours. I especially love them romance ones. Gives a man ideas! Unfortunately, the only time I get any peace is in the "necessary" so I read in there quite often.

What books are you anxious to grab when they come available?

Oh, just about anything really. I love to read. Over the centuries I've learned to read quickly so I can go through a couple books a day. I especially love exotic locations. You know, living in the snow all the time really makes me appreciate sunnier climates.

Like Jamaica?

Ho, ho, ho!

Do you have any aspirations to write a book of your own someday?
Ho, ho, ho! Maybe one day I'll write my memoir, but for now I'll just stick to Naughty or Nice lists. You know, if I was anyone else, I'd publish those Naught Lists . . . donate the proceeds to charity. Could end world poverty!

You haven't mentioned the reindeer yet. How's the gang doing?

Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner, Blitzen and Rudy are all doing well. Dash and Vixen hooked up. Dancer and Prancer are an item now too. Comet, Donner and Blitzen are sharing quarters now, but we don't talk about that. To each their own.

What about Rudolf and Cupid?

Rudy's a playboy. The girls love his red nose. He's ever the gentleman, but to Mrs. Claus's disappointment, we don't think he'll ever settle down. But you never know, do you?

Cupid …Cupid's a lover. Loves everyone, everyone loves Cupid. We're afraid that he spends too much time playing matchmaker that he'll never find his own match. The Elvises are onto something though. Can't say yet, but watch this space. Ho, ho, ho!

Tell us something we'd be shocked to discover about you. Kris?

I have an all over body tan. There's this great little nude beach in Jamaica . . .

Is there anything you'd like to add to this interview, Kris?

Ho, ho, ho! I'd like to wish all the boys and girls a Meeeerrrrrry Christmas. There's still some redemption time left before the big night. You know who you are out there . Do some good deeds between now and the 24th and that lump of coal will become a special gift in your stocking.

Thank you very much Kris for the time spent doing this interview. It's always great, getting to know our Saints better.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Kemberlee Shortland was born and raised raised in Carmel. In 1997, she couldn't pass up the opportunity to spend six months in Ireland, where she met a man who eventually became her husband. Upon permanently relocating to Ireland, Kemberlee established an Irish travel consultancy, building a reputation as one of Ireland's foremost Irish travel experts.

Kemberlee has had the opportunity to study Ireland's history and culture first hand, and has even picked up a cúpla focal . . . a few Irish words. Because of her knowledge of Ireland, she has had the privilege of working with some of the romance industry’s top authors who have set their stories in Ireland, including Deb Stover for Mulligan Stew and Mulligan Magic.

Over the years, Kemberlee’s love of Ireland has inspired a number of Irish set stories, including Moondance and The Power of Love. Her stories "Tutti-Frutti Blues" and "Dude Looks Like A Lady" are set in mid-1980s Carmel, at a time when eating ice cream on the street and wearing high heels without a permit were against the law! These stories were in an anthology about quirky laws called No Law Against Love, the stories of which are based around some of the world's craziest laws. These stories are published through Highland Press.

A Piece of My Heart is Kemberlee’s first published novel, and she invites readers to also look for the short story sequel, "Constant Craving."

Kemberlee loves hearing from her readers, so stop by her website for excerpts, reviews, awards, and order information. Don't forget to drop her an e-mail:
www.kemberlee.com

Kemberlee also publishes articles for writers on her blog, Hearticles: Articles with Heart


And if you fancy a peak into her life in Ireland, visit her blog Heart Shaped Stones

Monday, December 20, 2010

Jingle Bell Blog Fest: Danielle Thorne

 Click here and tell us what is a staple in the Islands for a chance to win a  $50 Amazon or Barnes and Noble gift certificate.

 IF SANTA WAS A PIRATE…

…I like to think he would have worn a furry red tricot, although the term "tricot" didn't come into use until long after the Golden Age. If those Caribbean swashbucklers so dear to my heart even believed in St. Nick, he would have been known as Sinter Klaas. This is my guess, as Dutch settlers brought over the legend with them to the New York area and they, too, were some of the first to explore, settle, and conquer the islands of the West Indies. What would a pirate have wished for, for Christmas? Those naughty boys made do with what they could find but clothes, coins, livestock, and plenty of rum was the order of the day as long as they had the supplies they needed to sail their ships. I can almost see the lists now….

Dear Santa,

I been a good pirate (but a bad boy). Please bring me extra yards of cordage, canvas fer me sails, a new pistol, a hogshead of rum, and oh, the Guvna's head.

Love,
Stumpy

One lingering legacy from the pirates of the Caribbean is the sweet flavor of rum used to enhance so many of our holiday dishes today. Rum Cake is still a Christmas staple in the islands, along with their beautiful renditions of popular Christmas carols. Try out this family favorite recipe from Keeley G. of Las Vegas, and celebrate like a pirate!

RUM SAUCE FOR BREAD PUDDING

2 tablespoons butter

1 tablespoon cornstarch

1/2 cup sugar

  1 cup milk

  3 tablespoons white or dark rum

Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Mix together the sugar and cornstarch, and stir into the butter. Pour in milk, and cook, stirring frequently until the mixture begins to boil. Continue cooking until thick, stirring constantly. Remove from heat, and stir in rum. Serve warm over your favorite bread pudding recipe.

Keeley also suggests trying this sauce over cheesecake. Yum!


Happy Holidays!
Danielle Thorne

Find out more about Danielle and her sea-themed romantic adventures at www.daniellethorne.jimdo.com

Friday, December 17, 2010

GUEST BLOG: CELIA COOPER

If Only…

By

Celia Cooper




If Only. It’s a phrase I know too well. It’s said you can’t change your past, and I suppose that’s the truth, but if the idea were set in concrete, many writers would be out of a job.

A lifetime of adventure has given me myriad experiences from which to pull background but sometimes a wistful sense of loss overwhelms. As the child of a military man moving was de rigueur in our lives. Every six months to a year, we would pick up our household and move across the country. Were it not for reading and free libraries, I might’ve gotten lost in the shuffle. Libraries were a beacon of solidarity and familiarity in my life. I knew when I picked up an Agatha Christie novel my brain would be tested and I’d be rewarded with a marvelous story.

The other life savior in my nomadic life was my mother’s love for musicals and happy endings. Heaven only knows how many times the two of us would sit on the couch with tissues in hand, in front of the television, watching the heroine come through adversity shining brighter than the sun and marrying the handsome millionaire. This was, of course, the 50’s and 60’s and the world was a different, happier place. The stage was set for me to write in the romance genre.

When my passion for writing became a reality, I dove head first into the romance writing pool. Where else could I indulge my desire to control the destinies of others and make sure there was a happily ever after? I wrote about what I knew—romance from the prospective of an older woman. I was surprised to find a growing market. With the boomer generation becoming the ‘over 30’s’ [note all the wrinkled noses here] they swore they wouldn’t, many readers could identify with heroines who were self-sufficient, handy with tools and capable of fixing their own cars.

With each book I wrote, the recollection of if only haunted me. Finally, I sat down and wrote the story which had been rumbling around in my brain for nearly thirty years.

What would happen if an older woman got her wish to return to the town where she fell head-over-heels in love and faced the chance of running into him again?

The story takes all the if onlys of a lifetime and puts them into the pages of a book which starts in Portland, Oregon, and transports two best friends to Tampa, Florida. Their journey begins with adversity and takes each woman through her own growth revelation. The heroine finds while some things may feel like coming home, the world has changed and moved on without her. The sun still shines brightly on Tampa Bay and the crystal clear water is still bathtub warm but friends have grown up and become parents and grandparents. Even an ominous foretelling in a New Age shop can’t prepare her for the roller coaster ride she’s about to take. Her wounded heart will be tested and healed before the adventure comes to an end.

As with all the books and movies I watched growing up, there is a happily ever after.

Celia Cooper is a gypsy who has been writing all of her life and creating novels for the last dozen years. She is currently residing in the Northwest  near children and grandchildren and continuing to pursue her passion of trying to write the best novel she can.


Old Enough to Know Better was the start of my writing life. It followed the path of a woman determined to start a new life of her own without a man. A determined younger man finds her independence to be intriguing and… sexy. He’s made up his mind to get to know this spunky lady and make her part of his life. As you would expect, sparks fly.

Sun in Sagittarius, Moon in Mazatlan is the sequel to Old Enough to Know Better following the path of the town sheriff as he tracks a fugitive from West Virginia to Mazatlan,  Mexico. Along the way he crosses paths with a Harley riding, adrenalin junkie of a newspaper reporter – all six-feet, flaming red hair of her. She is determined to get the story and the sheriff is determined to win her heart.

You can find more information about the above mentioned books at www.wingsepress.com.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

GUEST BLOG: MARY KENNEDY EASTHAM

Where is the Want?

What does your character wish for? We all have something that we think will make us whole, happy. The fun we can have as writers is to go inside our character's heads on the page and NOT give them what they want OR give it to them and make sure that once gotten, it's somehow lacking, not at all what they expected.

Backstory to me is the storyteller's gold. It is that silk lining woven into the hem of a favorite skirt, not seen, but so lush and soft against the skin. Sitting at cafes, coffee shoppes, in a comfy leather chair at Borders, I eavesdrop on people and get fabulous backstory ideas to use in my stories. People in the real world don't edit themselves when they think their conversation is private. It's kinda like that saying - character is who you are when no one is warching. I saw one woman slip a note inside a book cover, then walk away, nearly sobbing. The note said simply, 'You must do the right thing. You must marry her. I will always love you.'  I heard another woman, who looked to be in her mid-70's, say to a friend, 'He said I'd never amount to much. Can you imagine a father saying that to his daughter?'  I overheard a woman in a London pub say this to another woman: 'I've known your husband for years, but you wouldn't know that. My cat used to shit in your planter. But you wouldn't know that either.'

When I was getting my first Master's Degree in Clinical Psychology, I worked with teenagers in a 30 day lock-down facility. These kids were just weeks away from turning 18 and aging out of the Juvenile Justice System. This one boy, Kevin, who I had a soft spot for, held a knife to my throat in a kitchen stand-off late one night, pulling me into a butler's closet.

As I was waiting to be rescued by one of my colleagues, Kevin brushed my hair and sang to me, beautiful songs he had written to a mother who abandoned him when he was only two.

He remembered the sweet smell of his mother's hair. At her funeral, he asked his grandmother for scissors to cut a tuft of his drug-addicted, dead mother's hair. He carried it still, in his wallet, taped to a tattered Denny's napkin.

What would any of us be without our history? It can be our destiny or our chance at a do-over. Like all of you, I love creating my characters. Sosie Bend, my heroine in my novel Night Surfing, loves vintage world globes and wears her mother's wedding band on her right ring finger. She wonders what people keep under their pillows at night and drops pennies on the ground near elementary schools so children will find them and feel special, the way she did as a child. She loves the color blue, a blue within blue of sky meeting water on a summer's afternoon. Calling herself a Love Amnesiac after a sad break-up, Sosie starts a blog called "Love, Sosie" promising to spend the rest of her life trying to find this one thing she really wants.

In the end, when we're lucky, our characters tell us who they are and the best we can do is just stay out of their way and run with it. But on the days when they (or we!) are sluggish, not really in the mood to write (oh, yes, we ALL have those days!) ask yourself, what does my hero or heroine REALLY wish for? The answer may surprise even you!

MARY KENNEDY EASTHAM, MA, MFA is a 2010 Celebrity Achiever. Her book, The Shadow of a Dog I Can't Forget is now in its Fifth Printing. She hopes to finish her first novel Night Surfing by year's end. Her work has garnered numerous literary awards, among them the Chekhov and  Allen Ginsberg awards and the $5,000 Dorothy Sargent Rosenburg Award.

She is a Judge in San Francisco for the Soul-Making Literary Contest and was a Judge in the 2011 EPIC Ebook Competition. The great loves of her life are her four Golden Retrievers - Sabrina, JoJo, Flynn and puppy Oliver.

Monday, December 13, 2010

GUEST BLOG: MARIA ZANNINI


Ten Things You Probably Don't Know About Me


1. I love to build things even though I have no skills. I used to make miniature furniture but I had to give it up. I've sliced off more flesh carving tiny ball and claw feet than any craftsman you'll ever meet.

2. Cats make me nervous. Considering I worked for a veterinarian for so many years, it’s almost inconceivable. But cats, even my own Kitty, make me skittish. The vet I used to work for made fun of me all the time. I was never sure how many fingers I’d have left after I stuck them into the crate of an unknown kitty.

Cats know this fear and take advantage of me every time.

3. I can't swim. I can't even float without panicking.

4. At a party, I'm the one having a conversation with your dog.

5. I’ve always wanted to be an archeologist.

6. I can't sing. (It's possible several people already know that.)

7. I can't eat my favorite fruit. Mangoes are related to poison ivy and they give me a terrible reaction. My lips swell up as big as Angelina Jolie's mouth. That wouldn't be so bad, but they itch like crazy.

8. I saw my first ghost when I was three years old.

9. I started writing when I ran out of things to remodel in my then 'new' house. I haven’t stopped writing since.

10. Men either love me or they’re afraid of me. I’m okay with either one. :grin:

How about you? Do we share anything in common? Let me know in the comments!



***


Maria Zannini's latest release is a science fiction romance called TRUE BELIEVERS.

Mix one cynical immortal and one true believer and throw them into the biggest alien-hunt the world has never known. Rachel Cruz is a Nephilim masquerading as an archeologist and she's stuck with an alien who believes she can lead him to his ancestral gods.

Black Ops wants to find these gods too. They want them dead.

You can find Maria here:

Blog

Facebook

Goodreads

Twitter

Friday, December 10, 2010

GUEST BLOG: STEPHANIE BURKHART

I just want to thank everyone at Long and Short who work so hard to put together this great review site. Thanks so much for having me today.

Just a little about me: I was born and raised in New Hampshire. When I was 18, this New England Patriots fan decided to join the US Army. I spent 7 years stationed in Germany. I met a fair-haired California boy and we got married in Denmark in 1991. In 2000, I got a job working for LAPD as a 911 dispatcher. My two sons, who are 8 and 4, keep me young. Some of my previously published work include: "Shadows and Light," in the Borealis II Space Anthology with Desert Breeze Publishing, The Giving Meadow, a children's book with 4RV Publishing, and a sweet military action/adventure romance, Destination: Berlin, under my pen name, SG Cardin.

Nutmeg and cinnamon. Peppermint and warm hot chocolate. The smells of Christmas can really put a person in the holiday spirit, but when I was in Europe, there were several different traditions I grew to appreciate and love.

In 1986, I was stationed in Muenster, Germany. Downtown Muenster had a pedestrian square that hosted a Christmas Market every year. There were booths that sold handcrafts, wooden ornaments, and marzipan cookies. They also sold a warm drink called Glühwein. It was a mulled wine drink usually spiced with cinnamon sticks, vanilla, sugar, or rum. You could find everything you wanted to decorate your home and gifts for the family at the Christmas markets. (They weren't quite Target, but I loved the old world charm and ambiance.)

I drew on that old world charm and ambiance when I wrote my story, "Christmas in Bayeux," which is included in A Christmas Collection, Stimulating with Victory Tales Press. In the story, Aiden Seward travels to Bayeux, France and the World War II Beaches of Normandy to find himself. He's reunited with a young French woman, Noel Rousseau, who he knew as an exchange student years ago. Can Noel help Aiden find his Christmas spirit?

Nowadays, Christmas in California, isn't quite the same. Glühwein and marizpan cookies are tough to come by, but one Saturday during December, I set the day aside to bake homemade sugar cookies with my boys from scratch. The smiles on their faces say it all.

Does anyone want to share their Christmas traditions?

Enjoy a small excerpt from the story, "Christmas in Bayeux."

They walked a block or two and entered the downtown pedestrian area. Aiden stopped, amazed by the wooden shops lined up against each other. They sold wooden ornaments, candies, knick-knacks, wreaths, candles, anything that had to do with Christmas. There were three rows of these booths, which took up the square along with a food tent. The scent of mulled apples and sweet pastries tickled his nose.

"Noel, what is this?"

"The Christmas markets."

"Is this what you wanted to show me?"

"No." She paused. "Ah, that's right – you don't have Christmas markets in the States."

"Well, then, we're coming here tomorrow to shop for Christmas."

She smiled. "It's a date."

He found it impossible not to return her disarming grin. Was that what they were doing? Dating? She led him down the street. It was getting harder for him to hold back, but he wanted her to know that when he kissed her, when he touched her, it was because he wanted her, not because it was gratitude or some other strong emotion. Well, yes, he was grateful to her, but damn it, he wasn't about to let her walk out of his life right now. Right now? Who was he kidding? He didn't want her to walk out of his life again.

She pushed two wooden double doors open and they walked into a wide open-spaced entrance hall. "Is this a museum?"

"Oui. It houses our best known prize – the Bayeux Tapestry."



A Christmas Collection, Stimulating is available as a print and ebook.

Links:

Ebooks: http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/29148

Print: https://www.createspace.com/3494425

Amazon, Print: http://www.amazon.com/Christmas-Collection-Anthology-Stimulating/dp/1456304410/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1289273692&sr=8-1

Find me on the web at: http://sgcardin.tripod.com