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 USA Today bestselling 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 latest sweet romance: CATCH HIM IF YOU CAN

Rich in History

I’m sitting here, watching a documentary on the Kennedy family–The Kennedy’s Irish Mafia. And it makes me realize just how much we have today in regards to resources. I can just sit here and watch video after video, read article after article on any subject I want. The night before this was a movie called The Monuments Men.

People are fascinating!

The scope of lives affected by one family, like the Kennedys, one name, like Hitler, is astounding.

Because I’m not a technical writer or an historian, I like to use my imagination. Hearing real stories like this always makes me think of new characters. The stories make me ask myself questions…

What would it be like to work for someone with such strong convictions and desires for power?

How would it change a person?

What would a hero do to make things right?

Is it possible to stay true to yourself during trials?

Maybe. I think we have to believe it. Because, we learn these bits of history, of life… As writers we have to ask the questions that will bring the stories to life.

They don’t have to be real. They just have to have real emotions.

 

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.

The Lure of the Mediterranean

My book, Blackmailed by the Italian Billionaire, is on sale this week at only 99 cents. Blackmailed is one of my earlier books and I wrote it as a sort of tribute to all the Mills and Boons romances I devoured as a teenager.

I’m English, and I grew up in a small town in the north of England, in an area known as the Lake District. It was a beautiful place, but the sun rarely shines and it rains there—a lot. I yearned for the sun, and when I started reading romances in my early teens, I was always drawn to the ones with hot, sultry settings and with tall, dark, handsome heroes; Greeks, Italians, Spaniard’s, all hot-blooded and spectacularly rich (owning their own island always helps). I dreamed of one day lying on a sun-kissed Mediterranean beach with a stunningly gorgeous, very-nearly-naked hero of my own. He’d be all golden skin and rippling muscles, and one look from his dark eyes would melt me into a puddle in the sand…

It never happened. I found a lovely English guy instead, but we did travel a lot when I was younger, and I spent a lot of time lying on sun-kissed beaches. And when it came to settling down, it was hardly surprising that I ended up not far from the Mediterranean. In fact, I now live on a farm in the mountains of Southern Spain, which looks down onto the Mediterranean Sea. I love the area, the people, the food, the fiestas… It’s a fabulously inspiring place and it’s not unexpected that I now find myself unable to resist the lure of writing about Mediterranean men.

Luc, the hero of Blackmailed by the Italian Billionaire, wasn’t inspired by any one man in particular, but by an amalgamation of all those Mediterranean heroes I dreamed about.

bbib-1600px-latestBlurb: Blackmailed by the Italian Billionaire

Olivia Brent is happy with her quiet and orderly life in the country, until the imminent loss of her home forces her to try and track down her estranged father. She’s immediately out of her depth and in danger from criminals she believes her father might be among. Luckily, a stunningly gorgeous and enigmatic billionaire sweeps in to rescue her.

Saving Olivia is not an altruistic act for Luc Severino. He’s been searching for her father for years and feels now he’s closer than ever to getting the revenge he desires. He’s willing to use any methods available to persuade Olivia to help him.

If blackmail doesn’t gain her total cooperation, a little seduction might. But losing his own heart could change Luc’s greatest desire forever.

How do you feel about Mediterranean heroes? Love them or hate them?

About Nina Croft

Nina Croft grew up in the north of England. After training as an accountant, she spent four years working as a volunteer in Zambia which left her with a love of the sun and a dislike of 9-5 work. She then spent a number of years mixing travel (whenever possible) with work (whenever necessary) but has now settled down to a life of writing and picking almonds on a remote farm in the mountains of southern Spain. Nina writes all types of romance often mixed with elements of the paranormal and science fiction.

Pumpkin Butterscotch Muffins

pumpkinHi, all! Jennifer in the house today.

Well, fall is officially here and with it comes all the pumpkin goodness under the rainbow. LOL

And really, what is it about pumpkin that makes everything so tasty? I’ve given up trying to figure it out. But there really is nothing pumpkin doesn’t make better. So when I saw this pumpkin muffin recipe on Facebook combined with butterscotch, I had to see if that theory held.

It totally does.

Pumpkin + butterscotch = AMAZING

So, please, make these muffins and see for yourself!

PUMPKIN BUTTERSCOTCH MUFFINS

  • 2 1/2 c flour
  • 1 tBsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 c brown sugar ( I used light)
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 3/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 3/4 c pumpkin
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 c oil (I used vegetable)
  • 2 cups butterscotch chips

Combine all dry ingredients. Add pumpkin, eggs and oil. Mix until smooth. Add chips.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 20-25 minutes or until done.

Happy fall!

Do you have any favorite pumpkin recipes to share?

Also, I have a new release coming December 5th called WRONG BROTHER, RIGHT MATCH. Sign up for my newsletter for a sneak peek, chance to win an ARC, and more! eepurl.com/Q6TH1

 

About Jennifer Shirk

Jennifer Shirk is a USA Today bestselling 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 latest sweet romance: CATCH HIM IF YOU CAN

Guest Post: Caroline — Tech Tools

Tech Tools Every Writer Should Invest In

caroline_tech-blog

Any good writer needs a little bit of help sometimes, and in today’s digital age, there are plenty of useful online tools and mobile apps that are available to help you find inspiration, stay organized and improve the quality of your writing. Here are some of our favorites.

Brainsparker
Every author knows how frustrating writer’s block can be, but there are plenty of tools that can encourage you to stop thinking and start writing. One of our favorites is Brainsparker, which provides users with thousands of potential writing prompts. It’s a great way to get your brain working, as all you have to do is shuffle the cards and pick a random prompt. You can use it to dream up topics for your next short story or simply do a quick exercise that gets you in the right frame of mind to write creatively.

Dragon
Many authors use voice dictation to help write their content. Some writers such as Jason Womack use voice dictation and recognition to write entire books while others use this technology to take down notes and inspiration quickly. Dragon is a useful voice dictation app that has great reviews, as many users note that it transcribes speech almost perfectly.

Evernote
Inspiration can strike at any time, and it is important for writers to be able to jot them down quickly and easily. Evernote is a note-taking app that allows you to do just that. It is available on various platforms, and it can be synced across several devices, so you’ll always have access to the notes you’ve made.

Grammarly
Grammarly is an online editing app that corrects spelling and grammar errors. While any good word processor has a spell-check facility, these built-in tools don’t always catch every mistake. Grammarly conducts in-depth checks to ensure your content is perfect for publication. It even offers up synonym suggestions to improve the readability of your writing.

Google Drive
It is important you back up all of your writing so you never lose any of your work if anything happens to your computer. Google Drive is one of the best online storage options, as users are provided with 15 gigabytes of free storage when they sign up for a Google account. Every document you upload is stored online, and your Google Drive can be synced across all of your devices.

To keep these online documents safe, you can use a Virtual Private Network (VPN). This adds an extra layer of protection when uploading your files online so unauthorized users cannot access your personal work. To find out which VPN best suits your needs, take a look at this VPN review from Secure Thoughts.

These tools are sure to help improve the quality of your writing as well as your overall productivity. Try them out and leave us a comment to let us know how they helped change the way you write!

*~*~*

Author Bio: Caroline is a tech blogger with a passion for creative writing. In her spare time, she enjoys writing poetry, plays and short stories. You can find her on Twitter at @CultureCovC.

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.

Inconceivable!

This morning a college friend posted on Facebook that he had never seen The Princess Bride. Inconceivable, yes? It’s the only movie I’ve ever seen in a movie theater more than once, and the second time I went by myself. So I started streaming it on Netflix as I stared at this blank blog page, trying to figure out what to write today. I got to this exchange between Vizzini and Inigo, as the Man in Black is climbing the Cliffs of Insanity:

V: “He didn’t fall? Inconceivable!”
I: “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”

You can see the whole clip here, just because it’s awesome.

Anyway, it got me thinking. As writers, words are everything to us. Large and small, we agonize over every one we write. As an author of historical fiction, I not only have to agonize over every word and what it means, I need to think about whether the word actually existed in the time period of the book.  I keep a bunch of reference books on my desk and on my Kindle which help me find just the right word, and I have the OED, available online through my public library, bookmarked.

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If there’s even the slightest question a word might not mean what I think it means, I look it up. If there’s the slightest question a word didn’t exist in the 19th century, I look it up. And if I have used ‘smile’ 100 times (yes, it’s possible), I look for other words to replace them. And my editor takes out 90% of my ‘thats.’

So, what about you? What are your go-to sources for finding just the right word? And how many times have you seen The Princess Bride? 🙂

 

About Marin McGinnis

A lawyer in real life, Marin McGinnis feeds the more creative part of her soul by writing Victorian era romance and mystery. She's spent almost half her life in a tree-lined, unabashedly liberal suburb of Cleveland, Ohio. She's been married to the same great guy for over 20 years, and has one teen-aged son. They all live together in a drafty old house with their two standard poodles, Larry and Sneaky Pete. While her very first book will languish under the bed, the next book, Stirring Up the Viscount, won two contests in 2013 and was published by The Wild Rose Press in January 2015. Her next two books, Secret Promise and Tempting Mr. Jordan, are also available from Wild Rose Press. Marin currently serves as President of the Northeast Ohio chapter of Romance Writers of America and is hard at work on the next book. You can find her here, at marinmcginnis.com, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, and Pinterest.

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