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Elves vs. Grinches

There are two types of people during Christmas, excluding those who don’t celebrate Christmas. Which is totally cool, they just aren’t part of this dataset.

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  • The happy, warm-fuzzy Christmas people we’ll call Elves. Elves have their tree up before Thanksgiving, all their shopping is done, and their gifts are already wrapped with perfect, real ribbons and handmade bows.
  • The so-it-begins people we’ll call Grinches. Grinches put their tree up when (if) they think of it. They see the Christmas decor go up in the stores in September and think, “Seriously?” They practice the giving of gift cards because they can’t choose a gift.

elves-vs-grinchesI am a Grinch. I used to be an elf. I would decorate the tree (by myself, because my family likes it done but doesn’t like to do it) and look at each ornament before placing it on the tree. Every year, for 20 years, I’ve bought each of my kids an ornament a year, so that when they started out Christmas in their own homes, they’d have a box full of special ornaments. I loved wrapping presents so much my uncle would pay me to wrap his wife’s gifts. I’d have done it for free (I was a teen and needed the pocket change). I adored Christmas.

I’m not even sure what changed, or more specifically, why it changed. One year, my old artificial tree was in need of replacement. I didn’t feel like looking for the perfect tree, so I bought a four-foot collapsable circle tree. You couldn’t call it anything like a tree, except it was vaguely triangle shaped. It was made of circles of wire (covered in silver tinsel) that got bigger the lower the tree went. I bought a handful of cheap ornaments, all in teal (because teal screams Christmas, right?), and called it done. I think my parents and brother felt sad for me. And the kids. God bless the kids at Christmas.

This was when I became a Grinch, when I finally crossed over to the Dark Side. That year, Christmas was just too much. Too much work, too much effort, too much caring. I don’t remember it being a bad year–I don’t think I was depressed. I was just… done being an elf.

Now, I’m not a full-on Grinch. I like sitting in the dark with the tree lights on. I like seeing the presents, quickly covered in paper and that’s it, pile up under the tree. I love picking out those yearly ornaments. But, I hate the commercialism of Christmas.

This year, I’m making my family’s gifts. Food for my brother, a lapghan for my dad, a scarf for my mom, and cat-butt coasters for my aunt (she requested them–she’s weird). It’s my way of bringing back what Christmas is supposed to be about.

What’s your favorite part of Christmas (you elves, you) or (if you’re a Grinch, like me) your least favorite part?

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P.S. Don’t forget my novel, Infamous, is releasing in one week. Buy links and a blurb to follow:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Kobo
All Romance | BookStrand | Goodreads

Justine Montgomery, daughter of a divorced beauty queen and TV magnate, is a tabloid disaster after her infamous sex tape. She’s so desperate to help save her family’s home she turns to her deal-making dad. Can she prove to him she’s cut out for a career in television or will she lose it all?

Sawyer has his own past and a successful career is his only goal. Seeing Justine fail would mean the promotion of a lifetime, but things get complicated when he develops feelings for her. Suddenly, the lines between work, life, sex, and love are blurry.

They will have to overcome the bitterness of a rejected ex, the controlling actions of her father, and the half-truths they’re telling one another to forge a lasting partnership both on the job and off the clock.

About Lori Sizemore

Lover of nail polish, pens, her Kindle, and fresh coffee. She likes romance filled with messy, real characters and lots of snarky banter. Reading was (and still is!) her BFF; when she discovered writing she fell in love. Sassy humor for the heart, captivating contemporary romance for the soul.

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My Obsession with Hallmark Christmas Movies

Hi, all! Jennifer here.hallmark

Well, we are officially now into the “Christmas season”, which means decorating for the holidays, shopping, wrapping, making cookies, reading Christmas books, and of course (my personal favorite): watching Hallmark Christmas movies!

Yes, HALLMARK CHRISTMAS MOVIES. you might even say I’ve been a bit obsessed with them. 🙂

Why? They are the ultimate feel-good kind of comfort people like me like to wrap themselves into this time of year. It’s a time and place where love always wins, people are more important than money or things, kindness can never be overdone, and memories are to be made and cherished. A good part of that is why I read romance novels too. Because in a world where there is nastiness, sorrow, pain, and ugliness, these vehicles are the perfect escape and the perfect reminder that there is a lot of good in the world too.

My FAVS (so far) this year have been:

  1. The Mistletoe Promise (I liked it so much, I bought the book!)
  2. A December Bride (will buy this book too)
  3. Fir Crazy
  4. Snow Bride
  5. Debbie Macomber’s Trading Christmas
  6. Love Always, Santa
  7. The Christmas Ornament
  8. A Very Merry Mix-Up
  9. Best Christmas Party Ever
  10. Family For Christmas

It should also be mentioned that my husband is a huge fan of “A Grandpa for Christmas”. 🙂

I haven’t had time to watch them all, but rest assured that I have been taping them and will slowly make my way through all of them by the end of the month. (I may even have to re-watch a few of them in January!)

In the meantime, enjoy the holiday season in whatever way you like!

Do you love/watch Hallmark Christmas movies too? What is your favorite one?

 

wrrmsmallAlso, if you love Hallmark Christmas movies, don’t forget to pick up my new Christmas sweet romance  which releases tomorrow, December 5th!

WRONG BROTHER, RIGHT MATCH

Matchmaking guru Kennedy Pepperdine’s life is perfect. Perfect job. Perfect friends. Perfect boyfriend. Except…when she gets trapped in an elevator with a handsome stranger, she accidentally confesses a secret: maybe her perfect boyfriend, Justin, isn’t so perfect for her after all. But a matchmaker should be able to successfully match herself, right? Thankfully, she’ll never see the handsome stranger again. Until she heads home with Justin for the holidays and learns that the sexy stranger is none other than Justin’s older brother, Matt.

Matt Ellis is trying to be on his best behavior for his mother—it is Christmas, after all. But when he recognizes the beautiful woman from the elevator—the one he hasn’t been able to stop thinking about for months—his best behavior is being held by a thread. Matt’s always sacrificed for his family, and nothing is more important than their happiness, but the more time he spends around Kennedy, the more he wonders if her supposed “right match” might just be the wrong brother.

About Jennifer Shirk

Jennifer Shirk is a sweet romance author for Montlake and Entangled Publishing who also happens to be a mom, pharmacist, Red Sox fan, P90x grad, and overall nice person. Check out her upcoming sweet romance: WRONG BROTHER, RIGHT MATCH releasing December 5, 2016.

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Collaborating with Other Authors by Julie Jarnagin

One of my favorite parts of being an author is getting to work with other writers. One way I get to work with awesome authors is through the critique group I’m in with the ladies on this blog.

Another way is getting the opportunity to take part in anthologies. This month, I’m excited to announce a new novella, Engaged by Friday that you can get on its own or as part of a four novella anthology.

One reason I love working on projects like this is because of the creativity that comes when more than one author brainstorm together. It was so much fun to come up with the idea of four women on a high school reunion planning committee making a pact to use online dating to find reunion dates. From that idea, we all helped each other come up with our own twist on the original idea. There’s something about writing within the confines of a collection that helps me come up with fun, unique ideas.

Not to mention, that I love these authors as people. So I hope readers have as much fun reading these stories as we had creating them!

Engaged by Friday

From a USA Today bestselling author Book 4 in the Matched Online series

Can a fake engagement lead to lasting love?
After her boyfriend dumps her instead of proposing, Mary Beth wants nothing to do with her ten-year high school reunion. Especially because if she shows up without a date, she’ll lose a bet with her high school nemesis. Christian is too busy with his camping equipment startup to date—until his sister sets him up online. The chance connection could help his business—if he agrees to Mary Beth’s dramatic request that he pretend to be her fiancé. But when make-believe becomes something more, they must decide if this new love can last…

Amazon
B&N – Coming Soon
Kobo
iBooks – Coming Soon

Amazon
B&N
Kobo
iBooks

In this four-book anthology, join four friends on a journey to find the perfect guy—online.

With their ten-year high school reunion on the horizon, four girlfriends make a pact to find reunion dates through online dating. But nothing is simple when they are Matched Online…

How to Lose a Guy in 10 Dates by USA Today bestselling author Lacy Williams

Single mom Angela thought she was ready to date again, but several disastrous online matches have her reeling. And it turns out she’s more attracted to the handsome coffeeshop barista than any of her dates. Drew Scheffield is only in town for the summer, looking for a distraction from debilitating grief. But as he gets to know Angela he discovers his heart isn’t as dead as he thought. As Angela’s online dates continue to go wrong, she falls for Drew. Will Angela lose the perfect guy in 10 dates?

A Package Deal by Robin Patchen
It’s been years since her cancer treatments, and Jo is finally ready to move past her illness and try dating again. Her first online match seems perfect, except for a mysterious call that has him ending the date early. Carter should have been upfront with Jo about his five-year-old daughter. Now that he’s falling for her, he fears telling her will push her away. When they learn the truth, can Jo and Carter accept each other’s package deal?

Rival Hearts by Susan Crawford
After a senior-year humiliation, the only thing that could’ve brought Morgan home is her passion to bring a much-needed food bank to town. Somehow, she got wrangled into being on the reunion committee. And into a pact to find a reunion date online. Sparks fly when she’s paired with her high school rival—the man who ruined her life. Slater is not the same class jokester he used to be. When he sees Morgan again, he wants forgiveness—and something more. Can Morgan open her heart to the former rival who might just be her perfect match?

Engaged by Friday by USA Today bestselling author Julie Jarnagin
Can a fake engagement lead to lasting love?
After her boyfriend dumps her instead of proposing, Mary Beth wants nothing to do with her ten-year high school reunion. Especially because if she shows up without a date, she’ll lose a bet with her high school nemesis. Christian is too busy with his camping equipment startup to date—until his sister sets him up online. The chance connection could help his business—if he agrees to Mary Beth’s dramatic request that he pretend to be her fiancé. But when make-believe becomes something more, they must decide if this new love can last…

About Julie Jarnagin

Julie Jarnagin is a multi-published author of inspirational romance. She grew up in a small Oklahoma town where her family farmed and ranched. These days she lives in a not-so-big city with her amazing husband and two young sons who tolerate all her nerdy quirks. Julie earned a B.A. in Journalism / Professional Writing from the University of Oklahoma and is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers. www.JulieJarnagin.com

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Falling Down the Christmas Romance Rabbit Hole

It’s beginning to look a lot like the holidays and my favorite thing to do at Christmas, besides watch Christmas movies or bake cookies is read Christmas romances. There is nothing like a good Christmas romance anthology. Over the years I’ve read many, and each season a new one becomes available for the masses.

There’s the historicals, which are always marvelous because who doesn’t love seeing how in a time when couples had difficulty falling in love in the first place, let alone being alone together, a pair of romantically matched people find themselves declaring love for one another in less than forty thousand words.

Here’s a few of my favorites:

Christmas in the Duke’s Arms by Grace Burrowes, Carolyn Jewel, Miranda Neville, and Shana Galen ~ All the tales occur around an inn, in a small town. My favorite is a friends to lovers tale. twg-final-large

The Heart of Christmas by Mary Balogh, Nicola Cornick, and Courtney Milan ~ Delicious romance with rakes, benefactors, and unlikely heroes

All I Want for Christmas Is a Duke by Valerie Bowman, Vivienne Lorret, Tiffany Clare, and Ashlyn Macnamara ~ Dukes. Need I say more?

I’m mighty proud of the fact I’ve offered you stories by 11 different Historical romance authors, and they are all fabulous. This is just the tip of the romance iceberg because several other historical authors offer up full-length Christmas tales, including an entire series from Theresa Romain, which right now they are all together as a Holiday Pleasures Bundle in an ebook steal deal.

Then I have that ‘but wait; there’s more’ moment. Because I haven’t discussed contemporary romance. There is plenty of holiday joy to be shared around there. The ones I fell in love were the typically full length and the run the gauntlet from sweet to steamy. Regardless, they are all romances and feature Christmas in some capacity.

A few more favs:

Simply Irresistible by Jill Shalvis ~ first in the Lucky Harbor series.maybe-this-christmas

Last Chance Christmas by Hope Ramsey ~ part of the Last Chance series.

Maybe This Christmas by Sarah Morgan ~ a friends to lovers tale and part of her Snow Crystal series.

And, if you haven’t heard a fellow HSG blogger/author, Jennifer Shirk has her latest release in the Christmas contemporary romance category. Check out Wrong Brother, Right Match. A shameless plug, but I’ve already got it pre-order and on my list of holiday romances to indulge in.

Of course, as with all things, these are just a handful of Christmas romance books available. I’m leaving out Maisey Yates and her cowboys, and Jessica Lemmon with her Bad Boy for Christmas book. I could go on and on, but I do believe that will cut into my reading time.

Do you have a favorite Christmas romance book? If so, tell me, I’d love to add it to my list.

About Landra Graf

Landra Graf consumes at least one book a day and has always been a sucker for stories where true love conquers all. She believes in the power of the written word, and the joy such words can bring. In between spending time with her family and having book adventures, she writes romance with the goal of giving everyone, fictional or not, their own happily ever after.

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What I’m Grateful For ~ #LynnCrain #AmThankful #amwriting


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First, let me apologize for being really, really late. While I love holidays, sometimes they make writing impossible and hard to do. Normally I would have scheduled my post but I thought I had plenty of time…and then I wondered where the month had gone…basically I had assure myself, yes, Lynn, it really is the 25th! LOL!

Yesterday was Thanksgiving Day here in the US and most of us gather around friends and families to celebrate our thanks for the year.

But this year, like no other, has been really hard for me and I have to constantly remind myself to be thankful. After, all we did an international move, found a new home in a new state and are renovating two house. As anyone knows, those last two can certainly take one over the edge in any country.

Still, there are many, many things I’m grateful for and I’ve decided to numerate them here for all of you. So here goes…

1) I am always grateful for friends and family. They are the ones that make happy, drive me crazy and are always there when I need them.

2) I am especially grateful for the folks here at Passionate Critters. We are our own special family, bonded for our love of writing and a deep caring for each other. Never have I been in a critique group who genuinely care for each other and are constantly trying to help one another. You guys ROCK!

3) As awful as the election was here in the US, I am grateful for it. I’m sure many of you are asking why but that’s an easy answer. I was gone from this country for 4 years and 9 months. I knew that people were having a bad time here and we were too but I did not realize just how unhappy people were. I didn’t realize they were struggling quite so much and now I do. I plan to do as much as I can for everyone, even if that means bucking the system if I must. Thank you America for letting me know we need to get the ‘we’ back in we the people.

4) NaNoWriMo is always a fun thing to do but this year it’s been especially important. I wasn’t sure if I’d ever get back into my groove of writing nearly 5000 words a day. NaNo proved to me I could do anything I needed to do to put those words down on paper. I promise to have a strong finish!

5) I am thankful that I can write and publish myself and others. I just finished another anthology piece and I clicked publish on it. I am so very, very grateful that authors can now take their career in their own hands and make it work for themselves. It’s an awesome life.

Yes, there are many, many more things that I am immensely grateful for but I just wanted to give you all for my top five. What are you thankful for in your life? If you comment, you’ll be entered into my monthly drawing for a $25 gift certificate that I run on my regular blog.

Thanks for stopping by and see you all next month!

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About Lynn Crain

Award winning author Lynn Crain has done it all in her life. From nursing to geology, her life experiences have added to her detail rich stories. She loves writing full time as she weaves contemporary, fantasy, futuristic and paranormal tales, tame to erotic, for various publishers. Her home is in the desert southwest and she’s just returned from her latest adventure of living in Vienna, Austria while her husband worked his dream job.

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Life…one weird to the next!

So, as the year begins to wind down [yes, I just said that], it’s been in my face how life seems to be a long journey from one frickin’ mishap to the next. And lately, it’s a weekly occurrence. Today was my phone. Just died…not like blue-screen death, but a funny happenstance which included the words “no service” in the top left corner…when I do have service. Auto-pay every month on a darn go-phone and that doesn’t renew until December, so it’s not an issue with the service. Apple takes the phone…nothing wrong with the software…must be hardware. GREAT! For almost $300, they can fix it, but the authorized retailer suggested that might be dumb, because the iPhone SE is only $399. [insert crazy laugh]  So, it’s off to ebay I go…. to see if I can find a decent replacement for way less than either of those options.

Last week it was the laptop. More hardware. A loose wire.

And so on and so on…

….what was the point?

Oh! Right. Life. It can really kick us in the butt, right? Kids, spouses, cars, phones, homes,…always something, you know? And always when you least expect it, or least can afford it.

So, I’m sitting here, thinking about Thanksgiving and how tomorrow starts with pie making day. And I’m thankful that my phone is broken and has ‘no service’ because there isn’t a soul who doesn’t have an iphone who will be able to reach me!! I’ll open my wine early and peel apples and slice them up with my daughter who has been looking forward to this day for forever!!

And maybe…in the grander scheme of things, not having that phone working will be a blessing.

So, thanks Murphy.

With Love,

Beth

P.S. If you missed my new release this past week, make a sharp left to Amazon and get it now! <3

strikeback-200x300-1He would let her go if it would keep her safe…

Strong, self-reliant Nathan Hawkins—owner of Hawk Elite Security—can’t fathom a world in which he can’t protect the ones he loves. But the ticking time bomb of scar tissue in his head threatens to end his career and his marriage, even his life. But the scar tissue is nothing compared to the twisted enemy from Nathan’s past who returns, wanting Nathan to pay for his transgressions, pay with his wife.

As the bonds of her once rock-solid marriage disintegrate, Stacy Hawkins is ready to strangle her distant husband if that’s what it takes to break down the barriers. Then she meets a man who makes her feel special again, one who makes her long for what she’s lost with Nathan.

…she would give anything to reach him.

A vacation to their favorite spot in Belize isn’t enough to draw Hawk away from the team, especially when it seems that each mission in the past six months is rife with misfortune. And when Stacy becomes the target of a deranged killer out to punish Nathan, they must confront their own personal demons before they can triumph over the evil intent on leaving them dead.

 

About Beth Rhodes

Beth jumps into life with both feet...or head first. Impulsive and spontaneous to a T, she joined Passionate Critters and never looked back. She loves writing and reading, which made this wonderful group of woman a perfect match for her.

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  • OUR LATEST BUZZ!

    Lori Sizemore's Infamous releases on December 14. *** Julie Jarnagin's Cowgirl in the Kitchen is available now. *** Bethanne Strasser LETTERS FROM HOME from Entangled Publishing is available now! *** Nina Croft's latest books, Her Fantasy Husband, a hot contemporary romance from Entangled's Brazen line, and The Order Boxed Set, a compilation of the three full length novels, plus a new novella, exclusive to the boxed set, both released in April 2016 *** Debora Dennis's holiday novella, CUPCAKES & CUPID is available.