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

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

Marin McGinnis has been a voracious reader ever since she could make sense of words on the page, but she came fairly late to writing. She dabbled with a mystery in her 20s, but didn’t start writing in earnest until after she discovered historical romance a decade or so later. While her very first manuscript will forever languish under the bed, the next one, Stirring Up the Viscount, won two contests in 2013 and was published by The Wild Rose Press in January 2015. Her next three books, Secret Promise, Tempting Mr. Jordan, and Treasure Her Heart, were also published by The Wild Rose Press. Check out her Bookshelf for more info. Marin lives in a suburb of Cleveland, Ohio with her family. She is represented by Margaret Bail of Fuse Literary.

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.

Christmas Wish List

Julie Jarnagin – Hey guys! It’s that time of year again. Time to get ready for Christmas! I love decorating the tree, taking my boys to see the Christmas lights, the music, and all the fun that surrounds the holiday.

Unfortunately, I don’t love the shopping. I’m not the type who enjoys fighting the crowds for a good deal. That’s why I do most of my Christmas shopping online.

This year I also ordered a few gifts for myself. 🙂

I had asked my husband for a Kindle Paperwhite for Christmas. I have one of the earliest versions of the Kindle with the buttons and keyboard on the bottom (no touch screen) and a book light on the case (no back light.) It’s definitely time to upgrade. When I saw the great deals on Thanksgiving, I went ahead and did my husband’s Christmas shopping for him. He also got me a cute purple case. Thanks, honey!

Then, my mom told me she wanted to get me a new coat for Christmas. So on Monday, I found this great deal for a cute coat on Mod Cloth. (25% off and free shipping – Yay!)

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But this season isn’t all about getting. From now until Christmas, I’m donating $1 to Compassion International for every new newsletter signup. So sign up today to get the latest news about new releases and occasional freebies and to help out a great organization!

Did you find any great Black Friday or Cyber Monday deals?

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.

Traditions to Keep (& a gingerbread recipe!)

2013-12-15 18.38.05Twenty-one years ago we invited my best friend and her two little boys over to make gingerbread cookies with our 1 year old son. It’s a holiday tradition that has continued in my house every year since.

Our families grew, the cookies changed from innocent creations to being pulled apart on the trays and mutated into whatever was popular at the time and for their ages. We’ve had cookies that were anatomically correct and a few years, instead of men the cookies became guitars and swords.  And I have pictures of all seven kids growing up around my dining room table – smiling, happy and enjoying something together that they’ll remember forever.

This year, the oldest child is engaged and asked me if he could bring his fiance – because they want to continue our tradition and “it just wouldn’t be Christmas without coming and baking cookies!” Wow…I cried, and my heart swelled with pride – I’ve certainly done something right. This is certainly a tradition worth keeping and passing down.

Here is the Gingerbread recipe that was given to my by my mother-in-law twenty-one years ago and used every year since:

1 Cup margarine

1 Cup sugar

1/2 tsp salt

1 egg

1 Cup dark molasses

2 tbs vinegar

5 Cups flour

1/2 tsp baking soda

1 tsp all-spice

1 tsp ginger

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp ground cloves

Beat margarine until creamy. Beat in sugar and salt. Stir in eff, molasses and vinegar. Beat well. Sift flour, baking soda and spices together. Stir into molasses mixture. (Dough will be STIFF) Chill dough at least 3 hours. Roll dough to approx 1/8 inch thick (up to you, really) on a lightly floured board or pasty sheet. Cut shapes with cookie cutter, decorate if desired (we load them up with all kinds of candy!) Place on a greased cooked sheet one inch apart at 375 for 6 minutes – or until light brown and puffed up. Cool slightly and remove to wire rack. If you prefer, you can decorate with royal icing after they’ve cooled. This same recipe can be used in molds to make houses and trains too. Makes approx 8 dozen.

What traditions did you start years ago became permanent parts of your holiday celebrations?

And don’t forget…every comment earns a chance to win ONE of our holiday books up for grabs this month! Including mine:

MuffinsandMistletoe 200x300

 

About Debora Dennis

A believer in second chances and that time should never be an obstacle to finding love, Debora writes time travels with modern snark and spice! When she's not writing, she's spending time with her family, reading, or trying to figure out a way to get chocolate into every dish she serves.

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