A Day Late & Several Dollars Short

Hi, all! Lori here and I apologize for not posting this yesterday. Christmas is such a whirlwind of parties, and gift-wrapping, and tree-trimming–it’s overwhelming.

I’m going to tell you my trick for handling the pressures of gift-giving this month–online. shopping.

I don’t buy anything from a brick-and-mortar shop. Maybe that makes me a terrible person (because small businesses need our money so much, especially at Christmas). Here’s the thing: I live in the middle of nowhere. There’s nothing around. Tumbleweeds blow past. The reliable, brown UPS truck pulls up to the driveway and he or she emerges with a pile of packages.

I rely on two websites (mostly, mostly) to fulfill my shopping needs. The evil Amazon and Etsy.

First of all, they both have apps. It’s seriously easy to pick out the perfect present. Second, Etsy is packed with small businesses, so I’m still giving back to those companies that need every dollar to survive. Finally, well… look. I’m a busy person. I work full-time. I try to write, to be a good friend, to take care of my family. The thing is, having my purchases delivered to me, in boxes I can then wrap and regift, is the only thing keeping me sane right now.

Unfortunately, the other side of the coin: it’s so damn easy, I may have a spending addiction. 1- Need a thing, 2- open app, 3- choose your poison, 4- buy now, 5-it arrives in two days. So, maybe there’s a downside to all of this ease. But it’s one I’ll have to learn to manage because fighting the crowds in person–not for this chick.

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. Come for the snark. Stay for the story.

Heart Songs

Like most of us, I’m part of several social media groups. One of them revolves around a cable TV show and it’s quite entertaining. Of course there’s a dashing male star, we’ll call him… Fred. Someone asked everyone to post pics of the ‘Fred’ in their life. Looking at the posts there were photos of men who were tall, short, thin, not so thin, bald, and every other male attribute you could imagine. The only thing they had in common with the male star were the women in the group. The comments made it clear that every woman who posted was very proud of her ‘Fred’.

I love my Fred, I wouldn’t trade him for anything. And I realized it’s those very qualities that ring true for us in our writing. It’s not only about love, although that’s primary for romance, it’s about those indefinable characteristics which draw us into love in the first place, and then ultimately keep us there. Intelligence, kindness, honor, integrity, gentleness, valor and other qualities that reach into our hearts and make them sing.Christmas Wishes

Even though this has been a very tough year for a lot of people, myself included, I feel so blessed. Not only to have a great man in my life, but to have the treasure of great writer and reader friends who share my love of the romance genre in all its many forms.

As writers we have great talents, and we are unique in the way that we give the gift of love through our stories. For that shining moment of HEA or HFN we help people believe in the magic that sings to their heart, and allow them to be a part of something unique and wonderful. That’s a remarkable thing. And yes, it’s a ‘thing’. It was a thing long before ‘things’ were popular.

At this time of year I’m most grateful for this writing journey and for each of you. Thank you for sharing this ride with me. During the holidays when everyone is focused on family, food, and whatever may pass for fun in your world, step into the quiet for just a moment, listen to the music of your heart, and know you are loved.

Wishing you the best of holidays! See you next year!

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.

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

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.

The Holiday Blues

I admit that December is not my favorite time of year. I do like Christmas–I enjoy giving and receiving presents, being with family, seeing the joy on my son’s face when he opens that gift he really, really wanted. But the holidays are extraordinarily stressful for me. The stress of getting the perfect (or sometimes, just any) gift, for making treats for my kid’s teachers, sending all the presents off so they get there in time, the 13 hour drive, yadda yadda yadda.

In an effort to make the season a bit more sane, a few years ago I stopped sending Christmas cards–I just couldn’t do it any more, although I am sorry not to receive cards from friends. This year we decided not to make treats for all of the teachers–sorry, guys. There’s even some doubt that we will put up the Christmas tree this weekend, although I am trying to get into the spirit. I am strangely world weary this year, and I couldn’t really tell you why. Life is good, work is busy, family is healthy, and next month, my first book will be published. Perhaps it is my innate cynicism waiting for the other shoe to drop, or perhaps I just need a little vacation.

Do you get the holiday blues? How do you get yourself out of them?

 

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.

City Girl Meets Country Christmas

Are you ready for the holidays? If you’re answer is a resounding, “Not even close!” Welcome to the club. This year I find myself well and truly behind. Let me explain. If you’re a long time reader of this blog you know we do our Christmas celebration any day but Christmas. For the sake of meshing schedules, it’s later this year than it’s ever been.

So, I’m planning no decorations, no shopping, no guests, and no big meals. Whew! We’re the only home with no outdoor lights in our neighborhood. (Yes, the Grinch is my favorite holiday character in case you were wondering.) Just a quiet holiday with my guy. And then last night…

My son calls and is bringing his girl whom we’ve never met home because he wants to be ‘home’ before Christmas. And some friends are coming in from out of town. These are two fabulous surprises, but they aren’t bad. No way. I couldn’t be happier. However, you know what I have to pull off in seven days, before they get here.

http://www.suttonfox.com

Most of the time, I love living in the country. I wouldn’t trade it. Except at times like this. To find some things I’d like to get, have, or do, requires at least a fifty mile round trip to town, so I’m making adjustments to avoid spending the time on travel. Because even after a couple years, I still have the urge to just run over to the mall (which we don’t have one of) or where ever and just pick something up.

And this morning the dog got sprayed by a skunk. Which is now hanging around our house, maybe in hopes of more entertainment from the dog? When it came toddling out of the woods at me, I confess to standing there like an idiot. It just kept coming. I’m thinking it’s going to be scared any minute. Well, no. I ran away from it, the dog ran at it, and then it was on. It’s been downhill from there.

I admit to being curious about how others handle unexpected surprises during the holidays. Stress is stress, whether it’s good or bad. Yes, I’m thrilled but I can see the exhaustion bearing down like a freight train. The only weapon I have is my sense of humor, which I use liberally this time of year.

Do you have a trick you use to reduce stress during the holidays?

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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