me Tarzan, you Jane by Camelia Miron Skiba releases today!

Moving on doesn’t always have to mean goodbye.

Widowed makeup artist Jane Sullivan is more comfortable keeping her husband’s memory alive than dating a pool full of sharks. Ella, her 4 year-old daughter, is her whole world.
When Jane meets Lucas Oliver, famous cover model, it’s hate at first sight. His playboy persona rubs her the wrong way.
Accustomed to every woman fawning over him, Lucas is drawn to the shy, uncompromising single mom and completely melts at the sight of Ella. He is determined to convince Jane that sometimes a second chance can mend a broken heart.

 

Camelia Miron Skiba

From the Author:

I’m a dreamer
I’m a sinner
I love my books
I conjure hooks
And heroes with good looks

Romance is my guilty pleasure
Taking me to places with new decor
Come join me if you dare
I promise not to bore

If you like to read my stories
Pray my husband continues snorin’
For he’s the one who keeps me up at night
When I give my heroes wings and flight.

Purchase on Amazon in these formats: Kindle
and Paperback

 

EXCERPT ME TARZAN—YOU JANE by Camelia Miron Skiba

EXCERPT 1

There’s a discomforting long moment of silence. Lucas searches my face with visible interest, lingering on my eyes and lips. I’m tempted to lick them but there isn’t an ounce of saliva left in my mouth. Then I panic, thinking maybe there’s chocolate in the corner of my mouth from the M&Ms I crunched on minutes ago—or worse, some between my teeth.

“Does it hurt?”

I scrunch my brows. “Excuse me?”

“Your head. Does it hurt from the eye-rolling you’ve practiced all evening?”

“Excuse me?” Why can’t I say something else? I mean, I consider myself a sharp girl, able to carry on a conversation without feeling like I’ve entered London’s fog, which is exactly how Lucas makes me feel. Besides, how in the world does he know I rolled my eyes when he was busy charming an entire room full of needy women? And how does he know I rolled my eyes at him?

“I saw you.” Lucas plants both feet apart, hands on his waist. “Not once have I looked your way without seeing those pretty eyes flip-flopping to the back of your head. Is this how you get your exercise?” His kiwi green eyes roam over me, stopping a moment longer on the line between my breasts, then come back to my face, one corner of his perky mouth slightly up. “You’re in great shape, I must say. Care to share how you do it? Your exercise, I mean. Maybe I won’t have to spend so much time in the gym to build these muscles.” As to emphasize his words Lucas flexes his chest.

Let’s get one thing straight: my instinct tells me Lucas Oliver is trouble. From the moment I first heard his name until he made an appearance, he was a pretty face everyone drooled over. Seeing him among women, rubbing against them, sharing kisses as if they were the Sunday morning’s newspapers, and throwing his arms around anyone willing to share more than bodily odors confirm my first impression that the guy is nothing but a pretty face.

“You know what?” I place my left palm over my chest, “I’ve no idea what you’re talking about. In fact, I don’t even know who you are and so, if you’ll excuse me, I must go.”

Lucas’ grin widens. “You don’t know who I am or you pretend not to know?”

Purchase on Amazon in these formats: Kindle
and Paperback

 

The Temple of All Knowing by Lee Papa (Memoir Spotlight)

 

The Temple of All KnowingThe Temple of All Knowing (186 pp) is a memoir of one woman’s passage from personal and professional turmoil to spiritual awakening. A compelling straight forward and sometimes humorous account of the most personal of journeys as this 40-something woman finds herself in Sin City with promise of a new life, new husband and elderly mother living with her. She instead is uncovered as a central character in the deepest of possible challenges only to break through to discover her authentic spiritual self through a near death experience and a personal mission in Soul City – Las Vegas.

Book Excerpt:

The phone rang; it was Delphine. It was a Sunday afternoon early 2008. I took the call and moved to the denim-covered glider that was in my 3-year old son’s room to have the conversation.

My sister calling was not odd, but she opened with “Can you talk? I have an urgent message from Aunt Beatrice.”

My sister practices meditation in which she regularly communicates with Spirit beings and our dead relatives. In everyday conversation, Delphine would mention things like, “I spoke to Dad or Uncle John …” (both had passed), and relate a story or an emotional healing process she went through while receiving the communication. I thought this was amazing and believed in the possibility, when Delphine, or De for short, would discuss this other worldly messaging.

I would find myself having an internal dialogue debating if she was actually making this connection or was she delusional. When she would speak of something that she “received” from the Spirit world, and I would come to realize she could not have otherwise known, a fleeting twinge of jealousy peaked in the window of my subconscious. Could she really be speaking with Dad and Aunt Bea? And if she is, how come SHE is the one with this ability? I was not proud of it, but I was most definitely questioning the decision of the Universe to have Delphine be the messenger of heaven.

My sister was not the one of the three of us girls whom you would consider to be the “good” one or the most religious growing up, but actually to the contrary. She would have been described as the Bull in the China Shop by my mother, as the one most apt to finger point or cause trouble. Sophia, the eldest, had the first born light shining upon her by my mother and father, even though, she was what some would consider a problem child for she pushed the envelope of life in so many ways. Her antics included jumping out of the 2nd story building of our private high school to skipping class and developing the first female tackle football team in her teenage years, to much more complicated and explorative behaviors that provided my parents with reasons to call on prayer and saintly assistance.

Delphine was the quiet one as the middle child of our youth, until she found her voice later in her teens. She was often over-shadowed by the exuberance and manipulation of Sophia when she was being used as a co-conspirator for our eldest sister’s secretive escapades of the 1970s.  When I came around, my role of the “baby of the family” was not always appreciated by my older sisters, and as I matured, the less they liked this pedestal I was propped up on as “the good one.”

How is she doing it?  I thought. How is De getting these messages from Aunt Bea?

My elderly Aunt Bea had died more than 10 years earlier while in the presence of my mother, my sister, Delphine, one of my older female cousins, and me in the living room of our family home. I had lived in that house from the time I was born until I got married to my first husband, Anthony, at age 20.

Our house was a 3 bedroom, middle class row home in Baltimore City, Maryland. The 12 by 12 foot front room, where I grew up and where we watched TV programs on the console television that offered just three major stations for your viewing enjoyment. Although the room was small, when we were little and the family piled in to watch Sonny & Cher, it felt huge. As the entry room to our family home, I experienced most of my fond memories there. This is where we opened our Christmas gifts under our decorated 5-foot Frasier fir tree that stood seemingly tall, as if it could reach the stars on a wooden platform, to set the stage for this holiday focal point. In reality, the Christmas tree was no taller than the height I currently stand.

Christmas was a very special time in our Catholic family. Not overly religious, mind you, but the whole Santa Clause phenomenon was beautifully orchestrated with all the mystery and wonder that a child could hope to receive. The Christmas tree was secretly stored in the basement well of the stairs until we kids were all asleep and then my parents would work through the night to make a spectacular show of lights and hand-wrapped presents from old paper bags and twine adorned with our names scribbled on by “elves.” This was a tradition handed down from my mother’s family who grew up during the depression and fancy wrapping paper was a luxury. Christmas was magical!

After my parents would signal that Santa had indeed arrived, my sister Sophia and I would rush down the stairs to witness the light show of the tree, and we would tear through our presents leaving no time for individual gift lingering. Delphine, on the other hand, was not so quick; instead, she would slowly and methodically use her scissors to gently unwrap each gift with all the appreciation of an unwrapped Tiffany blue box that none of us had ever experienced. Later as we became adults, Delphine would prop herself preciously on the couch, and while filing her nails, would direct me to the spots on the tree that were missing lights and Christmas balls.

This is the same living room where my nature-loving father would let our hamster out of the cage while directing us three children to lie on the floor and make a circular barrier with our arms. That little chubby, furry rodent was a family pet, and we loved him. My dad loved animals, so we had a bunch of them from Dutch rabbits, to hamsters, cats, and frogs – but never a dog. My mother was afraid of dogs. The hamster outing was strategically orchestrated during the time of my mother’s weekly visit to the Farmers Market in downtown Baltimore across from the corner row house where she grew up, and where several of her sisters still lived. Mom would not have tolerated such nonsense and activity on her prized oriental rug. This was the room where my Aunt Bea allowed me to lie down on the sofa when I was a child, and she would stroke my head and rub my back until I would fall asleep. She had such a loving and confident manner. I always felt safe with her.

My mother’s side of the family was the most involved and influential in our lives, especially Aunt Bea. She was the family matriarch, our lifeline and leader.  She was loving, intelligent, strong, certainly had her opinions, some may say controlling ones, but if it weren’t for her emotional and financial support, we and her sisters’ and brother’s families would not have had as many essentials provided for and certainly not any niceties.

She was a savvy businesswoman, so deferring to her made sense. For her era, Aunt Bea was super cool and open minded, rising to heights in her profession at C&P Telephone Company when women were just starting to be acknowledged in the workforce. She was a petite woman with an incredible sense of style and pep in her step that oozed confidence and excitement for the possibilities of life. It also made it difficult to walk with her as she was down the block before you had taken your first step. Aunt Bea never married, but made her siblings’ families her own. Sometimes the involvement would have been considered today as “too much.” There is usually a price to pay when you are being rescued. But I loved her and I thought she was amazing, just as my mother did.  Aunt Bea was my mother’s best friend.

Aunt Bea believed in reincarnation before it was an accepted concept to consider openly, as this was the 1950s and 60s when my sisters and I were born. We were raised in a devout Catholic family, and such things were not dinner topics, nor was it on our radar at that time.

As easily as it was for me to pull up these cherished memories, it was the hope and promise that communication could continue from beyond death.

 

PUYB Meet the Author

Lee Papa’s start in the corporate world was in sales for the Hyatt Regency Hotel chain, which led to being head hunted by a NY based real estate developer. Lee spent the next 11 years as a key employee working in commercial real estate leasing and management in Baltimore, Maryland. Although, commercial real estate was now in her blood and she loved the art of the deal, a different road in the industry was presenting itself and that brought her to heading up the benchmarking division for a Los Angeles based real estate consulting firm. Her job had her traveling nationally and setting up programs to benchmark customer satisfaction. Understanding there was not a one shoe fits all approach to customer surveying, she embarked on her entrepreneurial journey and started with consulting to serve the customized needs of her clients.

Lee’s first book, The Temple of All Knowing, is a memoir of her several years journey prior to her near death experience, through the completion of the 6,000 square foot Ganesha Center in Las Vegas. The book details the roadmap from personal darkness through spiritual, emotional and physical transformation.

Since the completion of the manuscript the Las Vegas Sanctuary for the Spirit evolved by moving to a downtown Las Vegas location and now offers targeted classes and workshops while focusing on a Virtual Ganesha Center supporting individuals and corporations with programs and a Referral Network with expansive reach for optimal awareness.

For More Information

West by Lizzie Ford (Blog Tour, Giveaway)

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Award Winning and fan favorite author, Lizzy Ford, introduces us to a new time travel romance, with WEST , which Outlander fans are sure to love.

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If you could change history, would you? WEST is the first installment in a series of standalone novels in the History Interrupted series featuring four women sent back to different time periods to modify historical events. Fans of Diana Gabaldon‘s OUTLANDER series will cherish this new series from Bestselling Author Lizzy Ford! Look for EAST, NORTH, AND SOUTH in 2015!

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If you could change history, would you?

College graduate Josephine “Josie” Jackson answers ‘yes’ to the question on a survey while visiting an Old West tourist trap. The next morning, she wakes up in Indian Territory in the 1840s, where she’s given a mission to complete before she can return to her time: to reset history by finding and stopping the man responsible for a horrific massacre.

It seems easy enough, until she discovers that three other women have been sent back to the same time period. When Josie uncovers what happened to them, she realizes the chances of her getting out of the past alive are not good.

To survive, she’ll have to trust the very man she’s there to stop, someone who has every reason to distrust her and only one reason to help her – to prove he’s not the monster she claims he’ll become.

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LIZZY FORD PROF PICLizzy Ford is the author of over thirty books written for young adult and adult romance readers, to include the internationally bestselling “Rhyn Trilogy,” “Witchling Series” and the “War of Gods” series. Lizzy has focused on keeping her readers happy by producing brilliant, gritty romances that remind people why true love is a trial worth enduring. Lizzy’s books can be found on every major ereader library, to include: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, iBooks, Kobo, Sony and Smashwords. She lives in southern Arizona with her husband, three dogs and a cat.

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Going to the Chapel by USA Today Bestselling Author Rita Herron (Review)

goingtothechapelIf there’s a naughty list, Izzy Sassafras is on it—but she’s ready to make a new start this Christmas. Especially after leaving her lying, cheating, no-good husband and fleeing to her old hometown of Matrimony, Georgia. Izzy’s made herself a promise: no more men. All she wants to do is get her wedding business up and running—and mend fences with her estranged sisters. But Izzy knows she’s in trouble when her very first client, a smooth-talking Texan, makes her light up like a Christmas tree.

Desperate for business, private investigator Levi Fox reluctantly takes a case involving a runaway wife in a town called Matrimony. When he meets sweet, sexy Izzy, he decides she can’t possibly be as innocent as she seems. At first, posing as her client is the perfect cover; but he soon imagines himself as a groom—with Izzy as his Christmas bride! Will this case end with a trip to the chapel…or the jailhouse?

ritaUSA Today Bestselling and award-winning author Rita Herron fell in love with books at the ripe age of eight when she read her first Trixie Belden mystery. Although she wanted to be a writer then and actually scrawled her first novel at age twelve, she didn’t think real people grew up to be writers, so she became a kindergarten teacher instead. Ten years ago, she traded her classroom storytelling and puppets for a computer and now writes so she doesn’t have to get a real job.

Having sold over sixty books to date, she enjoys spinning spine-tingling romantic suspense tales filled with murder, mayhem, and spicy romance as well as sexy romantic comedies. Rita Herron currently writes romantic suspense for Harlequin Intrigue and she’s writing dark, gritty romantic suspense thrillers for Amazon Montlake.

My Thoughts:

When I was asked to review this book, it was described as “absolutely hilarious and yet heartfelt” and that description is right on target. It is a sweet and charming and absolutely funny book that all begins with a beautiful cover

The story is set in a beautiful little mountain town that needs a new beginning and the three Sassafras sisters, at least Izzy, is determine to make her aunt proud by opening up an all-inclusive bridal store. Who knew their first client was an undercover detective threatening to destroy their attempt at a new start?

Going to the Chapel will leave you laughing and full of love in your heart. Definitely a great pick for the holiday season. This book deserves all of five stars.

Purchase on Amazon here:

Kindle

My Life. One Story at a Time. is an Amazon advertising affiliate; a small fee is earned when purchases are made at Amazon through the link above. A free book may have been provided by the source in exchange for an honest review. Views expressed by authors are their own and do not necessarily reflect the views of My Life. One Story at a Time. My opinions are my own. This provided in accordance with the FTC 16 CFR, Part 55. 

Holiday Miracle in Apple Blossom, June McCrary Jacobs – Blog Tour, Review

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Holiday Miracle in Apple Blossom Cover_2x3When her student, six-year-old Mary Noel, survives a car accident over Thanksgiving break, Amber and her new friend, Paul, are determined to cheer her up during the holidays. But Mary Noel’s most painful injury is the loss of her dog. The more withdrawn Mary Noel becomes, the more Amber and Paul need a miracle—a miracle that requires the entire community’s help.

“I wanted to portray a wholesome relationship between a man and woman with similar values where their friendship and common goals were the basis for developing a love relationship,” said McCrary Jacobs. “The community of Apple Blossom pulls together to help a family in need and is very successful in their efforts.”

“A Holiday Miracle in Apple Blossom is available in bookstores and on Amazon.com, BooksAndThings.com, and BarnesAndNoble.com.

Purchase on Amazon in these formats:

Kindle
Paperback

 

junemccraryjacobs_author1[1]June McCrary Jacobs spent twenty years as a primary grade educator after graduating from California State University, Hayward, with a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration and a multiple-subject teaching credential. Along with writing fiction, June is a freelance designer of sewing, quilting and crafting projects. “A Holiday Miracle in Apple Blossom” is June’s debut novel, though not her first published work. Since 2007 June’s original sewing, quilting and stitchery projects and articles have been published in national and international magazines including Stitch, Sew News, Sewing World, Simply Handmade, Sew Hip, Sewing Savvy, Crafts ‘n Things and Create & Decorate. Two of her sewing designs for children will appear in the upcoming “101 One-Yard Little Wonders” book published by Storey Publishing. A Californian since age six, June currently resides in the San Joaquin Valley. Learn more about June’s writing endeavors and view some of her original sewing projects by visiting her website at http://www.junemccraryjacobs.com.

website http://www.junemccraryjacobs.com

Author’s Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/June-McCrary-Jacobs/153549754836128.

Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/June-McCrary-Jacobs/e/B00E7YV522

Goodreads Author Page: http://www.goodreads.com/June-McCrary-Jacobs

My Thoughts:

I always like commenting on the cover of a book because I like for the cover to introduce the book so to speak. It should set up the story. The cover of A Holiday Miracle does just that. It leads the way to a season of miracles.

The story is a sweet love story, but it encompasses more than that; it’s a town full of generous and kind-hearted people that makes it a perfect book for the upcoming holiday season.

There were times when I thought the writing was a little too perfect and there were places where the author added words where none were needed. An example would be describing the restaurant where the characters were eating. The description was ample at the beginning of the date and I felt saying, “…they left the fine restaurant…” a little odd. I am stating my thoughts and preferences on the writing. The author tended to use “bigger” words than you might ordinarily find in a book. I enjoyed those moments as I am a “big” word person. I love words and I found it interesting that an author would choose to write this way. The norm is to write on a lessor intelligent level so you fly through the book. This was enjoyable in that aspect.

I did find the story a little sugary and it had no conflict. It was almost too perfect and didn’t imitate life.

Overall, I enjoyed the book and can recommend it for those of you looking for an uplifting holiday book to read.

I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Purchase on Amazon in these formats:

Kindle
Paperback

 

My Life. One Story at a Time. is an Amazon advertising affiliate; a small fee is earned when purchases are made at Amazon through the link above. A free book may have been provided by the source in exchange for an honest review. Views expressed by authors are their own and do not necessarily reflect the views of My Life. One Story at a Time. My opinions are my own. This provided in accordance with the FTC 16 CFR, Part 55. 

The No-Stress Holiday Organizer An All-in-One Guide to Planning and Recording your holidays

About the Book:

3-month calendar for Nov – Dec – Jan filled with:

* To-do Lists
* Budget Guides
* Decoration Trackers
* Guest Lists/Contact Info
* Party Planning Breakdown
* Menu Planners
* Grocery Lists
* Cooking Schedules
* Recipes
* and MORE

Purchase on AMAZON

Book Details
Authors: Cedar Fort Staff
Release Date: August 2014
Publisher: Plain Sight
Genre: Holiday

Get organized this holiday season! Make you plans for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s as enjoyable for you as it is for your guests. From calendars and checklists to budget sheets and journal pages, this book saves you the time and money to enjoy family traditions old and new – year after year!

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“The No-Stress Holiday Organizer” blog tour schedule:

November 1: The Hungry Family at Home
November 2: Books Devoured
November 3: Practical Frugality • I Love to Read and Review Books
November 4: Literologie
November 5: Traveling Adventures of a Farm Girl
November 6: My Life One Story at a Time
November 7: Live to Read
November 8: Mel’s Shelves
November 9: Crossroad Reviews • Read For Your Future • Book Hounds
November 10: My Reading Room
November 11: Readalot • The Author’s Hideaway • Why Not? Because I Said So • LDS Women’s Book Review
November 12: My Book Addiction and More
November 13:
November 14: Blooming with Books
November 15: A Casual Reader’s Blog • The Things I Love Most • Wishful Endings

My Thoughts:

I am already an organized person, but I’m always out to learn a few more tricks. With Halloween gone and the three next big holidays of the year looming in the foreground, everyone is wondering how to get it all done and get it done efficiently. The No-Stress Holiday Organizer book will certainly help to keep even the most disorganized person on track.

Featuring a three-month at a glance planning calendar is an excellent idea. It is quite easy to overbook activities or to lose track of how many days remaining before the big event. This will help to ensure that the holidays flow without too much anxiety. Like checklist? This book will definitely have you doing the happy dance.

Broken down into holidays, it offers you a no-stress plan to keep you on track with shopping and planning and execution. As great as cell phones are these days, not everyone is using one to chart their grocery list. The No-Stress Holiday Organizer offers those individuals a list to record their items that follows the layouts of most grocery stores. This will eliminate traipsing across the store and even forgetting items.

The book also offers help with budgeting and with the holidays, who can’t use a little extra help in that department? Do you think of doing an inventory of the items that you only use at holiday time? Do you remember what was broken or needed to be replaced?

Along with a Christmas To Do list, the book offers a list of those forgotten people – the postman, etc. and offers an example of how much is appropriate to spend.

It is a great book even for the ultra-organized person like me. I have to admit I took the book on as a challenge and was pleasantly surprised to pick up a few tips along the way.

Is there someone in your life who’s a little bit on the unorganized side? Look no further for the perfect holiday gift!

Purchase on AMAZON

Holiday Planning begins with pretty planner pages!

I was feeling the holiday spirit today and thought why not decorate a few pages in my May Book and share with others. Sometimes you look at your planner pages and think, this needs a little pizzaz, a little life breathed into it. I am hoping to inspire you.

As you have seen in many posts on my blog, I use a planner. I am a person who loves to plot my days. In fact, I need the To Do lists to keep me focussed. If not, I tend to just wander around and do all sorts of other things rather than the things I really need to accomplish that particular day.

Don’t think you have to spend a lot of money in order to be organized; a simple notebook will do. I have the Day-timer and inserts – which I adore. I have an Erin Condren – which I’m not particularly fond of. The layout just doesn’t suit me. I found a way to make each of these systems work for me, which shows you how false the claim “I can’t find a system that works for me” is. I know some will disagree, but they won’t change my mind. You first have to figure out your organization style, how your mind works, and what you are capable of doing with that information. Then you choose a system that will work for you and not against you, setting you up for failure.

If all you do is take a sheet of paper and draw columns and make lists, you’ll find your day more productive. If you have kids, a job, and home life, make three columns. Write what needs to be done in the appropriate column along with a timeframe. You don’t need a fancy planner. Throw a few stickers and little washi tape on the page and now it’s pretty.

As I said, I have tried many systems and they all work but my favorite is just a little notebook. My one obsession is graph paper. It works with my personality. I know this so I use it. I also use a month at a glance calendar. I record appointments, bills, etc. on the month at a glance calendar. This is the calendar that I throw into my bag when I leave the house. I have all the important information with me so if I have to make an appointment or check and see if we have a free day to add an activity, this calendar will tell me. The To Do lists are left at home in the book.

I normally sit down either Saturday or Sunday and transfer everything for the upcoming week to my graph book. I decorate it if that’s what I have in mind to do and I write my lists for the week. Of course, as the days go by, things will be added, but I now have my week set up. I use a page for each day (this allows for my HUGE handwriting and decorating) and I divide a page in half for Saturday and Sunday. You may need an entire page for Saturday and Sunday and that’s okay, I don’t.

I make my own stickers and I love using them. They can all be found in my Etsy store (www.etsy.com/shop/SouthernCharmPlanner) or on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/groups/SouthernCharmPlannerAccessories  Also check out the planner group at http://www.facebook.com/groups/SouthernCharmPlanners We love posting pictures of our planner pages and you can always find tips on organizing and supplies. You can find stickers and washi tape at Michaels, Walmart, Hobby Lobby and any number of stores that sale craft supplies as well as on-line. Just start googling.

I am posting some pages and I’ll tell you how I achieved the look.

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This is Thanksgiving. There was no need to fill it up with loads of stickers and such (although I did put a few indians and pilgrims). The orange plaid background on both pages is scrapbooking paper. I cut it to a two-inch width and then ran it through a sticker maker (Xyron). I applied it to the page. On top of that I layered one of my To Do list from my shop. I added a few Thanksgiving stickers and I was done. I still have plenty of space to jot down notes about the day or add more to my lists.

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My Black Friday consists of decorating my house for Christmas so I’ll be filling up the empty space on Friday pretty quickly once the day gets closer.

I also decorated a couple of days in December. I couldn’t wait to use some of the Christmas stickers I made, and I love Christmas.

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I wish the pictures were a little brighter because the colors definitely are! Below is how the stickers look in the Erin Condren planner. Christmas stickers

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I achieved this look by using scrapbooking paper and cutting it to length and running it through my sticker maker. I adhered it to the page and then added a To Do list on top. I really like the layered look. It’s festive. This is a day that bills are due so i added the stickers that represent the gas bill, water, cell phone, and cable bills. I also have a meeting that afternoon and the page wouldn’t be complete without a nutcracker or two. FullSizeRender (5)

Cookie Swap will be coming up the beginning of December so I added a little sticker for baking and two To Do lists as there will be plenty to do before the party on Sunday.

I hope these pictures give you a little inspiration to break out of the humdrum and add a few stickers to your planner. It will make you smile and I guarantee you will be hooked. You’ll never look at a planner page the same.

I would love to hear if you are a planner. What system do you use and how is it working for you? Do you decorate? Do you have any questions about planning or organizing? Be sure to leave a comment.

Thanks for visiting today!

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This Spells Trouble by Olivia Hardin Media Blast

This Spells Trouble (2)It took some work, but Lynlee Lincoln has finally found balance between her life as a witch and her relationship with Beck Hale. A human boyfriend with two kids wasn’t something she ever planned, but their new arrangement lets her have her cake and eat it, too. Just when she’s getting comfortable, puzzling visions of impending danger at home begin to haunt her dreams.

And if personal issues aren’t troubling enough, Lynlee and the entire organization of Neutralizers go on alert when a phantom creature begins staging magical episodes on live television. If they can’t put a stop to the sensational events, all hell will break loose in the human world. Can Lynlee keep both her new family and the world safe without getting swallowed up in the process?

PREORDER NOW!

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And be sure you’re caught up on all the other stories before this one drops!

Trolling for Trouble- Olivia Hardin (2)FREE! Magical and undead creatures can get into plenty of sticky situations. Lynlee Lincoln loves her job as a neutralizer, but she needs a break from the supernatural chaos after an ultra-busy Halloween night. Coming home, she’s ready to collapse into her bed and forget the day… until she discovers two children scavenging through her refrigerator. One look at the pair and she feels a tug on her heartstrings, then she learns their father is the man she spent years trying to forget. When Beck pleads with her to help save his daughter, Lynlee gets thrust into a heap of trouble.

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Kobo | Smashwords

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000032_00020]Lynlee Lincoln isn’t just a witch, she’s also a Neutralizer. Her job is a juggling act to keep magical and undead clients out of trouble. But getting back together with her old flame throws one more ball into the mix and romance with a guy who has two kids can get complicated. When her old mentor asks her to investigate the goings-on of a dark witch, things turn messy. The witch is stalking supernatural creatures to collect ingredients for a potion that Lynlee can’t seem to figure out. To keep those closest to her from becoming the next victims, she may have to confront the demons within herself.

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Kobo | Smashwords

 

Trouble with Holidays (3)And get the prequel to the series in A Christmas Yet to Come Anthlogy: Falling for a human who doesn’t believe in magic was the last thing Lynlee Lincoln needed. Beck Hale was a young architect and she was a Neutralizer-in-training—they were drawn together, but worlds apart. When Beck’s apartment gets flooded, she invites him to her home for Christmas. Lynlee tries to ignore the pull of the mistletoe, but after all, ‘tis the season.

Amazon | iBooks | Barnes & Noble | Smashwords

 


olivia hardin pic b&w.jpgAbout the Author:
When Olivia Hardin started having movie-like dreams in her teens, she had no choice but to begin putting them to paper. Before long, the writing bug had bitten her, and she knew she wanted to be a published author. Several rejections plus a little bit of life later, she was temporarily “cured” of the urge to write. That is, until she met a group of talented and fabulous writers who gave her the direction and encouragement she needed to get lost in the words again.

Olivia has attended three different universities over the years and toyed with majors in Computer Technology, English, History and Geology. Then one day she heard the term “road scholar,”’ and she knew that was what she wanted to be. Now she “studies” anything and everything just for the joy of learning. She’s also an insatiable crafter who only completes about 1 out of 5 projects, a jogger who hates to run, and she’s sometimes accused of being artistic.

A native Texas girl, Olivia lives in the beautiful Lone Star state with her husband, Danny and their puppy, Bonnie.

Connect with Olivia and Get information about releases, contests, news and more here:

Website | Newsletter | Twitter | Facebook

A Home for Christmas by MK McClintock – includes 3 Historical Fiction Short Stories

 

A HOME FOR CHRISTMAS
is available for Pre-Order!

Includes three historical fiction short stories to inspire love and warm the heart this holiday season

CHRISTMAS MOUNTAIN
In search of family she barely knows and adventure she’s always wanted, Katherine Donahue is saved from freezing on a winter night in the mountains of Montana by August Hollister. Neither of them expected that what one woman had in mind was a new beginning for them both.

TETON CHRISTMAS
Heartache and a thirst for adventure lead McKensie Stewart and her sister to Wyoming after the death of their parents. With the help of a widowed aunt and a charming horse breeder, McKensie discovers that hope is a cherished promise, and there is no greater gift than love.

LILY’S CHRISTMAS WISH
Lily Malone has never had a real family or a real Christmas. This holiday season, she might get both. From an orphanage in New York City to the rugged mountains of Colorado, Lily sends out only one wish. But when the time comes, can she give it up so someone else’s wish can come true?

Settings: Montana, Wyoming, Colorado
Christmas Short Stories

 

Pre-Order A HOME FOR CHRISTMAS

 

 

Blossom Street Brides by Debbie Macomber (Review, Excerpt)

#1 New York Times bestselling author Debbie Macomber has won the hearts of millions of readers with her moving and inspiring stories. Now wedding bells are ringing in the tight-knit community that gathers around A Good Yarn, a store in a pretty Seattle neighborhood. Knitters come to the store to buy yarn and patterns but somehow they leave richer in friendship and love.

Lauren Elliott has waited years for her long-term boyfriend, Todd, to propose, yet he seems more focused on his career than their relationship. When Lauren learns that her younger sister is pregnant before she herself even has an engagement ring, she feels overjoyed yet disheartened. Knowing she can’t put her future on hold, Lauren prepares to make a bold choice—one that leads her to a man she never dreamed she’d meet.

Newly married to her second husband, Max, Bethanne Scranton is blissfully in love. But with Max’s job in California and Bethanne’s in Seattle, their long-distance marriage is becoming difficult to maintain. To complicate matters, Bethanne’s cunning ex will do anything to win her back.

Lydia Goetz, too, is wonderfully happy with her husband, Brad, though lately she worries about the future of A Good Yarn. As she considers how to bring in business, she discovers that someone has beaten her to the punch. Baskets of yarn are mysteriously popping up all over town, with instructions to knit a scarf for charity and bring it into Lydia’s store. Never before has her shop received so much attention, but who hatched this brilliant plan?

As three women’s lives intersect in unexpected ways, Lydia, Lauren, and Bethanne realize that love heals every heart, and the best surprises still lay ahead.

 

Debbie Macomber is a #1 New York Times bestselling author and one of today’s most popular writers with more than 170 million copies of her books in print worldwide. In her novels, Macomber brings to life compelling relationships that embrace family and enduring friendships, uplifting her readers with stories of connection and hope. Macomber’s novels have spent over 750 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list. Eight of these novels hitting the number one spot.

In 2014, Macomber’s all-new hardcover publications will include Blossom Street Brides (March), Love Letters: A Rose Harbor Inn Novel (August) and Mr. Miracle (October) and paperback editions of the #1 bestseller Starting Now (April) and her acclaimed Christmas novel, Starry Night (October).

In addition to fiction Macomber has also published two bestselling cookbooks; numerous inspirational and nonfiction works; and two acclaimed children’s books.

Macomber’s beloved and bestselling Cedar Cove Series became Hallmark Channel‘s first dramatic scripted television series, Debbie Macomber’s Cedar Cove, which was ranked as the top program on cable when it debuted in summer 2013. Hallmark is now filming a second season of Debbie Macomber’s Cedar Cove which will premiere this July 19. In addition, Macomber’s upcoming Christmas novel, Mr. Miracle, will be made into an original movie premiering on Hallmark Channel in fall 2014. Previously, Hallmark Channel has produced three successful Christmas movies based on Macomber’s bestselling Christmas novels, Mrs. Miracle, Call Me Mrs. Miracle and Trading Christmas.

My Review:

BLOSSOM STREET BRIDES by Debbie Macomber had a little bit of everything in it. There were mothers, daughters, grandmothers, friends, boyfriends, fiances, husbands, ex-husbands, wives – well, you get the picture. The book contains a lot of story between its covers, and after you get the characters straight and who belongs with who, the book becomes enjoyable.

At the beginning of the book, I was having a little difficulty keeping up with all the characters and the several story lines. It wasn’t necessarily a bad thing as all of the characters were entwined, but it did make putting the book down and picking it up again a little challenging at times. The story, or should I say – stories, are good. The book is simply written and an easy read. The cover of the book is beautiful, and it is not until the end of the book that the title comes into play. There was a wonderful part of the story about knitting baskets being distributed throughout the town encouraging those who found them to sit and knit for a while. I have not come across a story line with such a tender deed in it and enjoyed trying to guess who the culprits were that came up with the idea. There was a story of a young girl adopted from foster care and a grandmother she quickly formed a relationship with. Then, there is the daughter being used by her father to get back at his ex-wife and an unlikely pairing of a proper young lady and a biker.

Overall, I found the book interesting and a nice weekend read. I am giving BLOSSOM STREET BRIDES four stars. For those of you who are Debbie Macomber fans, I think you’ll enjoy this one.

 

My Life. One Story at a Time. is an Amazon advertising affiliate; a small fee is earned when purchases are made at Amazon through the link above. A free book was provided by the source in exchange for an honest review. Views expressed by authors are their own and do not necessarily reflect the views of My Life. One Story at a Time. My opinions are my own. This provided in accordance with the FTC 16 CFR, Part 55. 

Purchase Blossom Street Brides on Amazon in these formats:

Kindle, HardcoverPaperback, or Audio CD

Excerpt: 

Lauren Elliott had received the most depressing news of her life.

Her sister was pregnant.

Her younger sister.

Oh, she was happy and excited for Carol, but mingled in with the joy was an undeniable sense of envy. The fact that Carol was about to become a mother shouldn’t have come as a shock—her sister and Jason had been married for two years, after all. Lauren loved her sister, and Jason would make a wonderful father. What bothered her was the fact that at age thirty-four, Lauren was still unmarried.

Single. Oh, how she’d come to hate that word.

Walking down Blossom Street, Lauren buried her hands deep into the pockets of her fawn-colored rain jacket. Tulips and crocuses bloomed in the flowerpots that hung from the streetlights, and the scent of roses, lilacs, and camellias followed her as she walked past Susannah’s Garden, the flower shop.

Lauren kept her head down as she mulled over this latest development. This was it. The end of her rope. The line in the sand. She was finished waiting for Todd to give her an engagement ring. A year earlier she’d had the DTR—Defining the Relationship—talk with Todd and he’d assured her that marriage was definitely part of their future. Only he wasn’t in a financial position to make the leap just yet. He’d suggested they give it time, and she’d reluctantly agreed. That was twelve months ago, and frankly her patience was shot. She’d dated the popular local television newscaster for three years and it was time to own up to the truth. If Todd was sincere about wanting her for his wife, then she would have had a diamond on her ring finger long before now.

Clearly Todd enjoyed their relationship just the way it was, and in some ways so did she. Todd was fun and smart, and she liked being with him. Because of his job, Lauren frequently accompanied him to high-profile social events. As a result, she was able to mingle with some of the city’s elite, and it didn’t hurt that many of these socialites came to John Michael Jewelers, where she worked, for their jewelry needs.

Lauren passed A Good Yarn and the window display instantly caught her attention. She stopped to give it a look and shook her head. Wouldn’t you know it, the display in the yarn store’s window was a baby blanket.

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Sleigh Bells in the Snow by Sarah Morgan

USA TODAY bestselling author Sarah Morgan heats up the season with the O’Neil brothers in a brand-new holiday series!

Once upon a time, Christmas was Kayla Green’s favorite time of year. Now all the workaholic wants for Christmas is for it to be over—as fast as possible! So when duty calls her to snowy Vermont to close a deal with a new client, Kayla is grateful for an excuse to avoid the holidays for another year.

Jackson O’Neil left a thriving business behind to return home and salvage his family’s resort—it’s in his blood, and he can’t let it fail. Now that he’s got marketing whiz Kayla Green working with him to put Snow Crystal on the map, success is on the horizon. The fact they strike enough sparks off each other to power all the Christmas lights in Vermont is just an added bonus.

Kayla might be an expert at her job, but she’s out of her depth with Jackson—he makes her crave the happy-ever-after she once dreamed of, and it’s terrifying. As the snowflakes continue to swirl, will the woman who doesn’t believe in the magic of Christmas finally fall under its spell?

 

  • File Size: 548 KB
  • Print Length: 378 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0373778554
  • Publisher: Harlequin HQN (October 29, 2013)

 

The Author (from the author’s website):

USA Today bestselling author Sarah Morgan writes hot, happy contemporary romance and her trademark humour and sensuality have gained her fans across the globe. Described as ‘a magician with words’ by RT Book Reviews, she has sold over 11 million copies of her books. She has been nominated three years in succession for the prestigious RITA© Award from the Romance Writers of America and won the award twice; in 2012 for her book‘Doukakis’s Apprentice’ and 2013 for ‘A Night of No Return. She also won the RT Reviewers’ Choice Award in 2012 and has made numerous appearances in their ‘Top Pick’ slot.

As a child Sarah dreamed of being a writer and although she took a few interesting detours along the way, she is now living that dream.

Sarah lives near London with her husband and children, and when she isn’t reading or writing she loves being outdoors, preferably on vacation so she can forget the house needs tidying.

Some fun facts about the author:

  1. I knew I wanted to be a writer when I was eight years old.
  2. I love horses, mountains, movies, good food, books, music and anything that makes me laugh.
  3. I trained as a nurse and worked for a few years in the ER, but George Clooney was never on my shift so I decided to do something different.
  4. I fell in love with my husband at work because he was cool and calm in a crisis and my life is one big crisis.
  5. We have two sons, which basically means that I have three men in the house. And piles of laundry.
  6. I completed my first full manuscript when I was at home with a new baby.
  7. I write on a laptop with the internet disconnected.

A Few Questions

When did you start writing?

I scribbled stories as a child and carried on scribbling – different things, children’s books, thrillers, anything that came into my head and excited me enough to want to write it down. I trained as a nurse and it was only when I was at home with my first baby that I actually finished a book. Typing ‘the end’ on something felt like progress. I sent it to Harlequin and it was rejected, but the comments were positive so I tried again, and again. It never entered my head to give up. On the third attempt my first Medical Romance was accepted. That was an exciting day!

How do you come up with an idea for a book?

Ideas are everywhere! The skill is turning those ideas into a compelling story with strong conflict that keeps readers hooked. I read a lot. Books, newspapers and magazines; I talk to people – observe human behaviour and always I ask myself ‘what if’ – what if they’d made this decision instead of that one? Done this instead of that? It’s a fascinating exercise. We all make mistakes in life. We all face difficult decisions. I try and create that for my characters.

How do you get started on a new manuscript?

A story comes to me in different ways. Sometimes I will suddenly think of a line of dialogue, and that might be enough to tell me a great deal about a character and the way they are going to respond to situations. I might imagine a single scene and build the book from there. Once I have that first idea, I let the story flow. I play with the idea, make sure the conflict is strong, that the motivation is solid. Most of all I think about the characters – I work hard to make them real people, with flaws and qualities, doubts and fears, and most of all with a problem! If there’s no problem, there’s no story. I look for trouble.

My thoughts on the book:

I thought Sleigh Bells in the Snow was a charming Christmas love story. It is a story of a workaholic woman sent out to the picturesque town of Snow Crystal, Vermont to help a handsome man save his family’s resort. Throw in an eccentric misunderstood grandfather and a large family and chaos is bound to erupt – big time!

SLEIGH BELLS IN THE SNOW is the first book in the Snow Crystal trilogy, each starring one of the handsome O’Neil brothers. While the story was well written, it was reminiscent of a couple of other stories I’ve read. Everyone loves a Christmas love story and I am no exception. The author wove a wonderful story with snow filled days and warm, cozy fireplaces at night. There was good food and wine and plenty of fun throughout the book.

SLEIGH BELLS IN THE SNOW was well written with well developed characters. There were no grammatical errors to speak of and the book had a fairytale ending. I am going to give the book five stars. I am looking forward to the other two books in the trilogy.

Purchase Sleigh Bells in the Snow by clicking the icon below:

  

My Life. One Story at a Time. is an Amazon advertising affiliate; a small fee is earned when purchases are made at Amazon through the link above. A free book was provided by the source in exchange for an honest review. Views expressed by authors are their own and do not necessarily reflect the views of My Life. OSAAT. My opinions are my own. This provided in accordance with the FTC 16 CFR, Part 55. 

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Finding the perfect planner setup

I have posted several different inserts that I have been trying out in hopes of finding the perfect one for me. I think I have finally developed a system that will work for me. I have gathered the pages that I use most frequently and I am keeping them close at hand as you will see in the video.

Links to the products that I use:

Southern Charm Planners on FaceBook:  https://www.facebook.com/groups/LouisianaPlannerGirls/

Day-Timers: http://www.daytimer.com/daytimerstore/mwv/product/Distressed-Leather-Free-Form-1%22-Planner-Cover-Desk-Size-/45014?searchClickId=0171103771%2C716&catId=&prodId=45014

Polka Dot Posie: https://www.etsy.com/shop/PolkaDotPosiePrint

Pembroke Papers: https://www.etsy.com/shop/PembrokePapers

I Heart Organizing: http://iheartorganizing.blogspot.com/p/free-printables.html

I hope you enjoyed your visit and stop by again. As always, thanks for visiting and if you have any questions, please feel free to leave a comment.

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New Year’s Resolutions – Why the hype?

It’s that time of year again and it seems that everyone is either writing or talking about their New Year’s resolutions. It’s been a very long time since I’ve felt the need to make a resolution. Isn’t it something we do in the recesses of our mind anyway, even if we don’t proclaim it? Why do we have the need to clarify thoughts of things we hope to accomplish when two weeks into the New Year, most have been forgotten?

The New Year for me is the same as any other day of the year. January 1st simply means the close of one disappointing holiday season and another year approaching. I no longer make Christmas wishes that I know will not come true. I know this because my wish has been the same for many years, and it’s gone unfulfilled.

Each year I tell myself that maybe this will be the year my daughters will choose to be a part of my life, and each year it doesn’t happen. There is no communication, no phone calls, no returned texts, no letters, nothing. So this year I made a difficult decision, a decision to move forward. No more wishes. No more disappointment. No more expectations. I made the decision to quietly put the past to sleep, as the past cannot be rewritten. It cannot be changed, and I cannot predict the future. The present is all I have and I need to try to make the present count. For self-preservation, that means no more wishes.

It really isn’t a New Year’s resolution that I’ve made, so much as a life resolution. My only aspiration in life was to be a mother. I am grateful for the sixteen years that I had as mother to my daughters, but that life is over, taken from me in a divorce. I’ve learned that one can mourn for a lifetime for pieces of their life, but it won’t bring them back. So, for this January first, I pulled off the black veil of mourning, and made the decision to move forward. I will shake the proverbial puzzle box and dump the contents out on the table and put a different puzzle together this year; a very different one, one without wishes.

 

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A tribute to Sentry

Sentry passed away three years ago right before Christmas, after being a loyal companion for 7 years of my life. I found this story while perusing my other blog and decided to post it. There were a lot of adventures involving Sentry. I got Calypso and Ryka two months after Sentry passed and they have been a blessing,  but I sometimes wish Sentry could have known them. I miss her dearly.
How do I start except for saying my poor dog. First, she fell off of the wharf on Sunday and last night she got locked in my husband’s workshop for the night. I was teaching religion and while I was gone, it started thundering, which Sentry is deathly afraid of, so she kept following my husband, Jeffery, in and out of his workshop. Once she observes a routine, she becomes complacent so she must have stayed inside for a while and when he closed up, she got locked in. That was around 7pm last night because that’s when I drove up and I assumed she was under the house because of the rain. 

     This morning I went out to walk and I called and called and rang the bell – no Sentry. I looked under the house, in her house, in the barn – no Sentry. By this time I am getting frantic (remember, I am SO good in a crisis) and I am almost in tears telling hubby that he has to come and help me because I can’t find her. THEN, the idea came to me that she may be in the workshop (has happened before) and so I knocked on the door and she started whimpering. She doesn’t bark when I call her; which I do not understand. It would make my life so much easier. I wouldn’t have to panic quite as often. 
     
When I opened the door and out she ran, she followed my trail back and forth and round and round before she came to me. That trail was a definite indication of how frantic I was quickly becoming. She is perfectly fine now but probably won’t go in to the workshop for a while. It’s strange how every dog I’ve had has managed to get themselves locked in the barn. You would think that would be the first place I’d look!

Getting back to our Sunday event when Sentry toppled off of the wharf – what a frantic time again! My husband and I were sitting in the swing on the wharf enjoying the slight breeze and peacefulness. Sentry was lying in her usual spot – the edge of the wharf – watching the fish jump and the minos swim by. She is fascinated by them. It all happened so quickly that I’m not sure what exactly happened, but the next thing I knew is that she was in the bayou! She just seemed to roll right off of the wharf and SPLASH!

     Of course, I am sooooooo very helpful in a crisis. I did the only thing I could think of – I started screaming! Now, we all know how much that helped. My husband was sitting right next to me – I am fairly certain my screaming did nothing to alert him to what he had already ascertained – the dog was in the water. Now most people probably wouldn’t panic. They know dogs can swim but you have to remember – this is MY dog and she’s never been in anything deeper than the ten inch ditch in the back yard; and that, she just splashes in. She still had her leash on – thank goodness – so we (make that hubby, not screaming me) were able to guide her around the pilings and the crab trap and the fishing line, 20 feet down the wharf to ground. None the worse for wear, she shook a few times and went right back to her spot, you guessed it, on the edge of the wharf. 
     Fortunately, life went quickly back to normal and we went back to swinging. (Little did I know that there would soon be another crisis…….)

 

Season of Second Chances by Brighton Walsh

Full Anthology Blitz Banner

Full Anthology Book Cover

Put love on your wish list with the romance anthology “All I’m Asking For.”  Included in this holiday anthology are three romantic holiday novellas: Tinsel My Heart, Season of Second Chances and Mine Under the Mistletoe.

Tinsel My Heart by Christi Barth: This Christmas, the producer of a small town holiday spectacular is swept away by a handsome Hollywood director.

Season of Second Chances by Brighton Walsh: Being stranded in a snowstorm offers a couple a second chance at a future together.

Mine Under the Mistletoe by Kat Latham: An American in London helps a brooding Brit put the ghosts of Christmas past behind him.

Wherever you are, however you celebrate, this collection of three festive novellas will bring warmth to your holiday season.

Stories also available for purchase separately.

Book Details

Included Novellas:

  • Tinsel My Heart by Christi Barth
  • Season of Second Chances by Brighton Walsh
  • Mine Under the Mistletoe by Kat Latham

Edition: First Edition
Format: eBook
Publication Date: December, 2013
Publisher: Carina Press

Author Info – Brighton Walsh

Author Brighton Walsh

Brighton Walsh is a storyteller at heart. Whether through words or pictures, she’s been weaving tales for as long as she can remember. After decades of cultivating her writing, she finally decided to give life to the voices in her head and set forth to write her first novella. 

Love is her first love, and writing about it is a dream come true. When she’s not overwhelmed by the incessant chatter in her mind, she can generally be found with her nose buried in a steamy book or partaking in some retail therapy. The setting of her life story takes place in the Midwest, characters including her very own real life hero she found in her supportive and swoony husband, and her two energetic kids who (fortunately) know nothing about the naughty things she puts down on paper.

Twitter: @WriteAsRain_

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/brightonwalshwrites

Website: http://www.brightonwalsh.com/

Review: 

What the reader will find between the pages of a SEASON OF SECOND CHANCES is a wonderfully crafted holiday season romance that will not disappoint. It is well-written with lovable characters. The romance is sweet and intoxicating. It is the perfect book with which to sit beside the fire with a cup of hot cocoa to enjoy.

I am giving the book five stars. I love romance and this is a great one.

The Christmas Star by Ace Collins (Review)

Robert Reed gave his life for his country in the early days of World War II. His sacrifice was honored when his widow and son were presented with the Congressional Medal of Honor. Each Christmas the final decoration Madge Reed hangs on the family’s tree is that medal. Rather than being a symbol of honor for young Jimmy Reed that shining star represents loss, pain, and suffering.

Yet a letter delivered by one of Robert’s fellow soldiers and a mystery posed in that letter put a father’s sacrifice and faith into perspective and bring new meaning to not just the star hanging on the Christmas tree but the events of the very first Christmas. Then, when least expected, a Christmas miracle turns a final bit of holiday sadness into a joy that the boy has never known.

The Author:

Ace Collins is the best-selling and award-winning author of more than 60 titles, including The Stories Behind The Best-Loved Songs of Christmas, Darkness Before Dawn, and Lassie: A Dog’s Life. Ace frequently speaks across the country and on radio and has appeared on national television shows, including Good Morning America, The Today Show, CNN, Fox and Friends, Entertainment Tonight, The Early Show and more. When not writing, he works as a magazine editor and graphic designer, as well as host for a charity organization radio and television broadcast. Ace and his wife, Kathy, are based in Arkadelphia, Arkansas.

Review:

First, the cover of THE CHRISTMAS STAR caught my eye. It is a beautiful cover and accurately sets up the time period of the book as well as setting the mood.

I enjoyed the story of Jimmy and his mom and their struggles, both with grief and for Jimmy, learning to cope with the loss of his father and then making decisions between right and wrong, and finally deciding his path in life. It is an endearing story and a perfect story for this time of year.

At times, the story lagged due to the descriptive narration the author used. I tend to enjoy a book more when I can use my imagination rather than read an in dept description of an object or scene. I like when an author sets the scene and moves on with the story. A story takes on a different meaning for the individual reading the book and describing conversations in detail (tones, emotions) does not allow the reader that option.

I think it is a good book and one many will enjoy. I am giving THE CHRISTMAS STAR four stars.

Purchase on Amazon: The Christmas Star

 

One Imperfect Christmas by Myra Johnson (Review)

Graphic designer Natalie Pearce faces the most difficult Christmas of her life. For almost a year, her mother has lain in a nursing home, the victim of a massive stroke, and Natalie blames herself for not being there when it happened. Worse, she’s allowed the monstrous load of guilt to drive a wedge between her and everyone she loves—most of all her husband Daniel. Her marriage is on the verge of dissolving, her prayer life is suffering, and she’s one Christmas away from hitting rock bottom. Junior-high basketball coach Daniel Pearce is at his wit’s end. Nothing he’s done has been able to break through the wall Natalie has erected between them. And their daughter Lissa’s adolescent rebellion isn’t helping matters. As Daniel’s hope reaches its lowest ebb, he wonders if this Christmas will spell the end of his marriage and the loss of everything he holds dear.

  • File Size: 469 KB
  • Print Length: 281 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1426700709
  • Publisher: Abingdon Press (June 1, 2009)

Author: Myra Johnson launched her writing career in 1985 when she sold her first short story while taking a course through the Institute of Children’s Literature. Myra later joined the ICL staff as a magazine writing instructor, teaching hundreds of students the fundamentals of story and article structure, plotting, character development, and market analysis. She now writes full-time and is active in her church as well as local and national writers groups. Her manuscripts have placed in several contests. One Perfect Christmas won first place in the 2008 Winter Rose (Mainstream with Romantic Elements); Pearl of Great Price took third in the 2007 ACFW Genesis (Contemporary Fiction); and Autumn Rains won the 2005 RWA Golden Heart for Best Inspirational Romance Manuscript. Myra and her husband, Jack, have been married since 1972. Recent transplants from Texas to Oklahoma, they share their home with two love-hungry dogs and a snobby parakeet. The Johnsons have two daughters, both married, and five grandchildren. She currently lives in Broken Arrow, OK.

Website: http://www.myrajohnson.com; Active blogger on http://www.myra.typepad.com andhttp://www.seekerville.blogspot.com

Click to purchase on Amazon: One Imperfect Christmas

Review:

How often do we wish we’d just said yes to someone and felt guilty because we put ourselves first? How often does the person suffer a debilitating stroke that if we had been there, we think we could have prevented? Such is the guilt that Natalie suffers from when she turns down her mother’s request to help put away Christmas decorations. What happens next is how the guilt can tear a family apart, and only forgiveness of one’s self can mend the broken-ness.

Guilt can eat away at a person’s soul and Myra Johnson’s ONE IMPERFECT CHRISTMAS is an accurate depiction of real-life drama. We all play the “Monday morning Quarter-back game” and Natalie is consumed by the guilt game of would’ve, should’ve, could’ve.

This story is about a mother’s stroke and a daughter’s guilt. It really could have been any story. There are any number of scenarios that could be used with the same result. Guilt eats and destroys us and until we find forgiveness within ourselves, we run the risk of destroying those around us.

The book was very well written with a wonderful story. It was a story of Christmas forgiving and healing, and is perfect for holiday reading. I am giving the book five stars. Although some readers have indicated they thought Natalie was really selfish, I think it is an accurate depiction of human nature. Each person handles grief differently and must find their way through to the other side. ONE IMPERFECT CHRISTMAS was such an example.

I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Organizing a Gift Wrapping Station

I live in a small cottage in Southern Louisiana and some organizing problems require innovative solutions. One of these problem areas for me was a gift wrapping station (other than the dining room table.) The neighbors were selling off an old house that had a wash shed attached. Hubby came up with the fabulous idea to take it off their hands and bring it over to our piece of land. He and a friend quite literally drug it over – behind a tractor. The two of them admitted later that they had a contingency plan – one I never knew about. If it began to fall apart as they entered the highway making the corner into our yard, they were just going to scape it off to the side of the road. I, for one, was so happy that plan never came into play. However, I have to admit that my fingers and toes were crossed as they slid it down the long driveway and turned into place at just the right angle for me.

IMG_1003The old wash shed came to rest in its place next to a large and growing oak tree in our back yard. This is also the dog kennel and each of my shepherds has a matching house under the overhang to the left.

I went to work demolishing the inside to better utilize the space. Hubby built shelves along one side and came around the corner to the front and back doors. Along the opposite side, he built a long countertop with shelves underneath and a shelf along the top.

One end houses my craft supplies and the other houses my newly organized gift wrapping station. For anyone who has had to drag out the containers of gift wrap and hunt for scissors and ribbon due to lack of space to wrap gifts, knows that this is a godsend.

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Before setting up the gift wrapping station permanently, it was tucked into the corner. As time went on and I took the time to use it, I began to figure out how I needed it to work and set about accomplishing my goal.

I added a rod under one of the shelves to hold my collection of ribbon and then mounted mop racks on the wall beneath the shelf to hold my wrapping paper. I actually used two of the racks that mounted across hold mops and brooms. I installed them vertically and the polls holding my wrapping paper fit perfectly.

IMG_1017IMG_1013

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I store extra rolls of paper upright in a tall garbage bin. Some ribbon is stored in glass jars and I have since added a basket with my tape dispenser, cards, and scissors.

I will reveal the remaining side of my Garden House in another post. It is set up with areas for gardening, my cookie cutter collection, and items for entertaining.

 

Technology Thursday – A Gem called Evernote

Access anywhere.
I am going to try and do this app justice. It is by far my favorite app (other than the app I just found named “Donna” – who is almost as good as I am at organizing you) and there are  additional apps that work along with the main app so that you have no excuse not to be organized! It is perfect for the organizational challenged!
 
I think I first saw Evernote in a segment done by Carley Knobloch on Digitwirl .
She has a lot of three-minute videos on different apps that you will find very helpful in organizing and simplifying your life. 
 
I actually downloaded Evernote twice to my iPhone. I guess my head wasn’t in a place to comprehend the app or something. I think we all have those days. I then downloaded it a second time and haven’t looked back since. In fact, anyone who stands still long enough will find themselves listening to me rave about this app and they just have to download it. Ummm. Is that why people duck around corners and cross the street when they see me?
 
First of all, I love the way this app syncs across iPhones, tablets, and your computer, so all of your information is accessible at all times. You may be in the market and think, “If only I had that recipe.” Now, you can. Save it to Evernote and never be without those recipe ingredients again! And, when all your dinner guests are raving about the great meal, you can email or message the recipe straight from Evernote to them. This goes for any of the photos or information that you have stored in Evernote. Share with Hubby or share with friends and family with just a click.
 
I began with a folder called “Recipes”. It has now evolved into subcategories (sub-folders), which I love. I have sub-folders such as Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Dessert, Drinks, etc. For that reason, I suggest you think about what folders you want to set up. I have a “Decorating” folder and then sub-folders for different rooms. And, don’t despair  You can move folders around, add more, delete some, or make folders into sub-folders. 
 
 
Capture anything.You set the folders and the sub-folders to fit your lifestyle. I literally use this app for everything. It allows me to keep my medical information and the research I’ve done on my blood disorders at my fingertips. This way, I can compare the last blood work with the current at a glance. Then, I have a Travel folder with sub-folders on different places that we would like to visit. 

Do you have kiddies? Set up a category named “School” and add subfolders for each child. Keep photos of permission slips, supply lists, schedule of when lunch fees are due, etc. and have everything ready at your fingertips. 

With Christmas on the horizon – it will be here before we know it – Evernote will keep me organized! I set up the main category of Christmas and then added a sub-folder for each child and grandchild. I keep a list of their sizes along with their wish lists in their individual folders. Any item I purchase gets checked off. I can also email the list straight from Evernote to the little one’s parent along with a photo of an outfit or toy to get their opinion on. I can’t think of anything easier!
 
Are you a mail-order person like me? I have a folder which I labeled Deliveries. I do most of my shopping on-line so Evernote fits right in. Once I complete my purchase and my confirmation comes up, instead of printing, I save it to Evernote with just a click. I can quickly open up the Deliveries folder to check on what I ordered. I also set up a folder with check-boxes for each delivery. As I order, I add a check-box and the company’s name. Once it is delivered, I check it off. I also keep up with returns this way. Evernote has no idea the number of trees it has saved! Do you think that is why the icon is green? Definitely food for thought.
 
Another folder I have in Evernote is Articles to Read. I don’t know about you, but I am quite a busy bee and do not always have the time to read articles from my in-box on the spot. I quickly click over to the webpage and save the article for later reading (as in the check-out line at the market or the traffic light). 
 
Find things fast.I use Google Chrome so I have the little Evernote icon at the top which makes this process simple. I just click the icon and choose my folder and click save. Evernote will choose a file based on the content of the article you are saving and most of the time, it’s correct. Now, I can read those “must reads” any time I have a spare moment. All of the extensions can be found in the Google Chrome “store”. 
 
Another icon and feature of Evernote is a web clipper.  It is called Clearly and the icon sports a lamp. Clicking Clearly cleans up the text on the page and eliminates all the extras in the sidebars (ads). Sometimes it forgets the picture and when that happens, try clicking Evernote instead, as it will clean up the page fairly well. Too much info included, that’s okay. Just go to your note and delete the portion you don’t need. Now, you can see how Evernote will work for recipes. I don’t know about you, but I love my pictures, especially of food.

See a book you want to read? Snap a photo of the book and save it to your folder, “Books I want to read”. See anything you love? Snap a photo, take a few notes.
 
I keep track of errands and my last three Cookie Swaps. I certainly don’t want to serve the same food twice! Your imagination is the limit! And, if  the number of folders I have in Evernote is any indication, you will see my imagination runs rampant! AND, you can set reminders with alarms! How cool is that? Yep! It’s cool.
 
Evernote has endless possibilities on the web and just as many on your iPhone. If you would like to hear more about how those apps work, just leave a message and I’ll be more than happy to write about them. 
 
I love the Clipper app (surf the web on your phone and automatically save highlights and then re-order them as you see fit and save to Evernote), FastEver (allows me to jot notes to myself, hit enter, and it automatically goes to Evernote), and vJournal (I can send my journal entries and pictures straight to Evernote). There are a few more, but these are my favorites.
 
How-to-Use-Evernote-to-Organize-Your-Vacation-Plans
 
Just recently, I used it to corral all of my information about our trip to a convention. I saved my hotel reservations and the itinerary for the weekend. From the hotel confirmation, I was able to access maps to view the route we took to convention. I saved my list of items I needed to pack for the different functions. Between Trip-It and Evernote, all of my information was at the ready. 
Did I mention Evernote is free? It’s FREE!
 
I would love to hear if you use Evernote. If not, what organization apps do you use?

So, in Carley’s words:

1) Download Evernote
2) Store your info
3) Add tags or categories
4) Never forget anything again

 
View Carley’s video on Evernote here! You’ll be glad you did!

– See more at: http://mylife-in-stories.blogspot.com/2013/07/evernote-for-technology-thursdays.html#sthash.gseU4svl.dpuf

Review: The Path to Piney Meadows Gail Sattler

Will a new way of life solve problems or just create new ones?

Fed up with life in a large city, Chad Allen quits his job on Christmas Eve and drives until he’s stranded in the remote Mennonite town of Piney Meadows. He accepts a job there on a whim, but the longer he stays, the more he likes these good people and their strong faith. Most of all, he grows fond of Anna, the girl next door, and the more he gets to know her, the more he falls in love with her.

The only problem is that Anna is not happy in Piney Meadows. Even as Chad wants to settle in, Anna wants to move out. She longs to move to Minneapolis and find a new life. Reluctantly, Chad agrees to help Anna prepare for life in a large city, even as she’s helping him adjust to life in Piney Meadows.

But when a personal crisis shakes Chad to his core, he’s not sure where to turn. He’d been let down by everyone he knew, even God. Now that the situation has reared its ugly head again, can his relationship with Anna survive? Or will he have to let her go, too?

The Author:

Gail Sattler is the author of numerous novels, novellas, gift books, cookbooks and devotions. She is a longstanding member of East Ridge Community Fellowship, a Mennonite Brethren church. She lives and writes in Vancouver, B.C., Canada. For more information about Gail, check out her websites at GailSattler.com and MennoniteRomanceNovel.com.

My Review:

THE PATH TO PINEY MEADOWS was such a heart-warming book that I truly hated for it to end. The characters were so honest and true to God and their hearts. I became so absorbed in the story that I could feel my heart soften and I longed to immerse myself in the Mennonite community. It was that comforting a book.

Chad’s disillusion with the way the world has become – so fast, so uncaring, so dog-eat-dog, as the saying goes – causes him to throw the towel in and quit his job on Christmas Eve. And, as he hops in his car and begins to drive, he comes across a small town just as he runs out of gas. When you run out of gas, on a Christmas Eve, you just know that is where God has planned for you to end up.

As I opened the book to read, I was in a hurry because I needed to catch up on my reading and review this book. Once I began reading, there was no way I was going to finish it in a rush. As I turned page after page, and as I entered into the Mennonite world, I found that I no longer had the urge to fly through the book. I wanted to stay in the moment.

I absolutely loved the characters! I don’t think there was one I didn’t like. Their simpleness and easygoingness was contagious. I do want to go into a little more detail about Chad because the book also had heart-warming humor. He is presented with two baby chicks and proceeds to make them his family. They fall asleep in his lap at night and sleep in a box at the end of his bed, and even wear chicken nappies! We follow along as Chad makes a lot of discoveries about the Mennonite ways and what a different world he has stumbled upon, and eventually earns the nickname, “City Boy”.

“For the most part, a woman’s place was to be a housewife; this was a community of Mrs. Cleavers. Only Mrs. Cleaver didn’t cook like these Mennonite women. He’d never experienced such great food in his life.”

“They (chickens) started getting tired not long after supper. So on the evenings when he didn’t go out, he’d been taking them and putting a towel in his lap to keep them warm, while he curled up with a good book…He’d also noticed that since they could now hop out of their box in the kitchen, Waddles came to him whenever he sat down in the chair he used when he was reading, almost like she was expecting him to pick her up…Blinkie wasn’t so fast when he sat in his favorite chair, but when Waddles made it into his lap, Blinkie wasn’t far behind. While Waddles always waited to let Chad pick her up, Blinkie liked to jump up on his leg. “

“…I would also like to have a dog, because a dog would be good to help protect the chicken hotel (you will have to read the book to find out about that one!) Also, I do not think I would mind the chickens in their box on the floor by the bed.” He flinched at her words, and when he started to speak…”you are not fooling me. Do not think I do not know you allow your chickens to sleep in the box in your bedroom. I have seen it…I followed Blinkie to see where she was going, and she went to have a nap. I have seen you taking them into the house at night after I go to bed”…”Many people know that you have put diapers on your chickens…”

German was dispersed throughout the book, but the author incorporated the English translation very smoothly so the reader doesn’t miss a beat.

I am giving THE PATH TO PINEY MEADOWS five stars. It was a wonderful book and one I could see myself reading again. I was so taken with the descriptions of the Mennonite community that I told my husband I found the perfect place for us to move – and he agreed. In a world where people live too fast, live too selfishly, the little community would be a wonderful place to escape to.

Excerpt: Chapter 1

Chad Jones stared into the bottom of his empty mug.
Since noon, peals of drunken laughter had echoed down from the office Christmas party of the business on the floor above him.

Chad sat alone, on Christmas Eve, working. Without coffee. But he could smell the dregs from what was left in the bottom of the near-empty pot. Everyone else had gone home.

Chad glanced around his private office, not much bigger than a closet. He had barely enough square footage for his desk and chair, one filing cabinet, and one guest chair. Not that he had many guests. It was embarrassing. The building looked passable from the outside, but there was a reason the rent was cheaper than other buildings in the same area.

Gary, however, had spared no expense in renovating his own office, which was nearly the size of Chad’s living room.

Upstairs, someone turned up the volume of “Jingle Bell Rock.”

Chad gritted his teeth and tilted his head up. “I hate ‘Jingle Bell Rock’!” he called up, even though they couldn’t hear him. “Can’t you pick something else?”

With every thump of the bass, the tape dispenser on Chad’s desk vibrated.

He stared at the pile of paper Gary had plunked on his desk before he’d walked out. Gary had left early to be with his family. Chad didn’t have anywhere to go, and Gary knew it, but that wasn’t the point.

After all this time, he could finally admit that his boss had no intention of making him a partner. Everything had been a ploy to get more work out of him. The only thing that would shake greedy Gary into really making him partner was if Gary actually had to do all his own work.

Chad peeled off a sticky note and started writing.

I quit! Chad

He smiled and pressed the paper to the center of his monitor. As he pulled his hand away, the note fell.

Chad’s smile also fell.

Mr. Cheapskate couldn’t even buy decent quality sticky notes.

Chad sank his teeth into his lower lip, picked up a pushpin, poked it through the note, and aimed it at the monitor.

Testing the screen, Chad poked it with his thumb. His monitor at home was a plasma screen—hard, with a glass front—but this was an LCD and was . . . pliant.

Even though he had no intention of really doing it, he speculated what would happen if he pushed the pin into the soft surface. Would the screen go blank? Would it blow up? Would there be a spark? It gave him a small degree of satisfaction to imagine Gary’s expression when he saw a hole in his precious bargain-basement monitor.

To finish reading:

Purchase THE PATH TO PINEY MEADOWS on Amazon by clicking the book:

I was given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Happy New Year 2013! Join me for gifts galore!

It’s a blog hop with lots of stops and prizes!
Something for everyone!
I have an Amazon Gift Certificate for
for one lucky follower!
Announcing the
Happy New Year 2013
Giveaway Hop
Hosted by I Am A Reader, Not A Writer & Babs Book Bistro
January 1st – 7th 2013
A Rafflecopter Giveaway
In order to enter, you will need to click the following link and play the Rafflecopter on my other blog. Hope to see you there!

My Life. One Story at a Time.: Happy New Year 2013! Join me for gifts galore!

This giveaway has over 200 blogs participating!

“Xmas” or “Christmas”? An interesting tidbit. Did YOU know?

Christmas in the post-War United States
Christmas in the post-War United States (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Thanks to this post from Grammar Girl!

 

Many listeners have asked about the origin and appropriateness of “Xmas.”

Retailers have long been accused of secularizing Christmas by using “Xmas” in signs and advertisements; therefore, I suspect many of you will be surprised to learn that “Xmas” has a religious origin.

In Greek, the letter “chi” is written as an X, and chi is the first letter of the Greek word for “Christ.” Greeks sometimes abbreviated “Christ” as “X.” For example, they abbreviated “Christ savior” as “XP.” (“P” is the symbol for the Greek letter “rho,” which is the first letter of the word “savior” in Greek.) TheOxford English Dictionary shows the first known English use of “Xmas” in 1551.

As for appropriateness, “Xmas” may have a religious origin and fit better on signs, but many people — both those who use “Xmas” and those who complain about its use — are unaware of the religious origin. If you choose to use “Xmas,” you should know that some people will be infuriated.

 

I know that I actually found this fascinating as I was “one” of those who NEVER dared used Xmas in place of Christmas, even if I needed to shorthand something really quick. I guess that proves we shouldn’t jump to conclusions on anything.

 

Against the Odds by Kat Martin (giveaway)

 This case may prove to be too hot to handle.Odds-Cover-(300by450)

 There’s silver out there: Sabrina Eckhart is sure of it. And when she finds the hidden mine on that big piece of West Texas desert, all of her financial problems are solved. That is, if she can find it. The man with the skills she needs is private investigator Alex Justice—a former navy fighter pilot and a current pain in the neck.

 When mysterious “accidents” start to plague their search, it seems Rina’s multi-acre inheritance might be more a curse than a blessing. And yet, there’s still something sensua

l about the heat…his arrogance…her stubbornness…being thrust into each other’s arms by danger… But the vultures are circling, and if they don’t watch their backs, the relentless desert sun could be the last thing Rina and Alex ever see.

Kat Martin

Kat---Ventura-Star-(275by20

 

Currently living in Missoula, Montana, Kat Martin is the bestselling author of over fifty Historical and Contemporary Romance novels. Before she started writing in 1985, Kat was a real estate broker. During that time, she met her husband, Larry Jay Martin, also an author. Kat is a graduate of the University of California at Santa Barbara, where she majored in Anthropology and also studied History. “I love anything old,” Kat says. “I love to travel and especially like to visit the places where my books are set. My husband and I often stay in out-of-the-way inns and houses built in times past. It’s fun and it gives a wonderful sense of a by-gone era.”

To date, Kat has over twelve million copies of her books in print. She is published in twenty foreign countries, including Germany, Norway, Sweden, China, Korea, Bulgaria, Russia, England, South Africa, Italy, Spain, Argentina, Japan and Greece.

 From author about the book:

 The book was interesting to write, a different kind of story that deals with survival in the harsh, inhospitable desert, family betrayal, and long-buried secrets.  The characters had to overcome stereotypes and learn to trust and love.Alex and Rina are two of my favorite characters, so different on the surface, yet oddly suited.  Though it takes a life-and-death struggle before they begin to see the truth.

Guest Post

CHRISTMAS IN TEXAS

 Though I’ve never experienced Christmas in Texas, I imagine it’s a warm country celebration.  In AGAINST THE ODDS, set in Houston, the Christmas Season is the heroine, Sabrina Eckhart’s, favorite time of year.

 Born in the little town of Uvalde, Rina and her mom looked forward every year to the celebration–until her Uncle Walter died on his way to her house on Christmas Eve.

 It’s the inheritance Rina receives from her uncle–an abandoned silver mine in the West Texas desert–that gives her the courage to ask her long-time nemesis, Alex Justice for help.

 G.Q. handsome and obscenely rich, Alex is a private investigator and an ex-Navy pilot.  Rina met him when he was helping with security for her best friend, Sage Dumont.  Sabrina doesn’t like him, but she knows he’s good at his job and she trusts him to keep her safe.

 Alex is just the man she needs to fly her into the desert in search of her late uncle’s property.  Running out of money, she’s determined to find the mine and make it productive, even if it means putting up with the cocky jet jockey she finds annoyingly attractive.

 The book was interesting to write, a different kind of story that deals with survival in the harsh, inhospitable desert, family betrayal, and long-buried secrets.  The characters had to overcome stereotypes and learn to trust and love.

 Alex and Rina are two of my favorite characters, so different on the surface, yet oddly suited.  Though it takes a life-and-death struggle before they begin to see the truth.

I hope you’ll watch for AGAINST THE ODDS–out December 18th–and that you enjoy the book.  What Holiday Traditions do you celebrate in your family?  Merry Christmas!  Kat

Excerpt from Against the Odds 

Rina’s adrenaline was pumping.  The thrill of being so high in an open-air helicopter was a rush unlike anything she had ever felt before.  Add to that, flying with Alex Justice, watching his long-fingered hands work the controls, seeing the capable way he handled the machine, made her heart rate soar even higher.  There was something about a man taking charge, a man who was good at what he did, that turned her on.

Not that she would ever admit it.

Alex wasn’t her type and she wasn’t his and both of them knew it.  Still, she wasn’t dead and Alex was definitely eye candy and more.

She forced herself to concentrate on the search they were making.  They’d been flying for more than an hour, had located the property but not the mine itself–assuming there was one.  There’d been nothing in the will to indicate its location or anything about it.  Just the legal description of the land itself, three-thousand acres, five-square miles, of what appeared to be dirt, rocks, and cactus.

Her gaze followed the contours of the property.  Ravines scarred the landscape, and ridges of granite rose out of the sloping desert floor.  Chaparral, mesquite, and scrub brush dotted endless stretches of rocks and sand. 

“Not much out there,” Alex said above the whip, whip, whip of the rotors.

“We haven’t covered that much area yet.  Maybe we’ll find something that marks the mine.”

“If there is one,” Alex said, reminding her there might not be anything more than exactly what they were seeing–miles and miles of vast, empty desert.

The hours began to blur together.  Once they had reached the property location, Alex had begun searching in a grid pattern to cover as much of the area as possible.  The temperature was rising, the heat building inside the chopper, the afternoon slipping away.  Rina yawned and rubbed her eyes, which felt gritty from the wind and heat.

An odd noise caught her attention.  The whop, whop, whop had been so regular she’d been trying not to fall asleep.  This sound was different, a kind of grinding that had her gaze shooting to Alex, who features suddenly looked grim.

Sabrina’s heart stalled and a few seconds later, so did the engine.

“Alex, what’s happening?”

Alex heard the fear in Sabrina’s voice.  There wasn’t time to answer.  Instead, his years of training and experience kicked in and he did what he had been trained to do–slamming the collective down to neutral, taking the pitch out of the blade.  The chopper fell like a stone.

“Oh, my God!”  Sabrina’s voice rose even higher as she realized they were in trouble.

The blades were flat now, the wind whistling up between them, making them spin even faster than the engine, which had gone deadly silent. 

“Just hold on!” he shouted.  “We’ll auto-rotate down!  We’ll be fine!”  He’d done it dozens of times, knew without thinking exactly how to make it happen.  As the inertia built, he began to search the ground for a place to land, but something didn’t feel right, something was altering their approach while they were still too high to make a safe landing.

It was the blades, he realized.  Instead of moving at the speed they should have, they were sticking and slowing, jerking instead of spinning smoothly.  They were going to hit the ground hard.  Way too hard.

At the last minute, he flared the chopper, hoping to slow it as much as possible, hit a little softer, keep the helo in one piece, but the chopper was coming in too fast and the ground rushed up.

Sabrina screamed as the windshield shattered and he leaned over her, tried to cover her as much as he could with his body.  The rotor blades tore free and spun away, shattering into jagged pieces that flew like deadly knives into the desert. 

The chopper shook and continued to disintegrate.  After what seemed like minutes but was only seconds, the machine finally started to settle.  Alex popped his seatbelt and reached for Sabrina, eased her back in the seat and saw blood trickling down her forehead.  She was moaning, conscious, but barely.  From the corner of his eye, he spotted the lick of orange flames behind them, rushing up from what was left of the engine. 

The fuel tank was going to blow.  They had to get out and fast.  Reaching behind his seat, he grabbed his emergency gear bag, slung the strap over his shoulder, then reached for Sabrina, popped her belt and started to pull her out of the chopper from the pilot’s side. 

The effort had him hissing in pain, his body telling him he had injured a couple of ribs, but there wasn’t time to worry about that now.  Ignoring the sharp stab in his side, he pulled Sabrina free of the wreckage, half dragged, half carried her over to an outcropping of rock, settled her behind it. 

There was just enough time to throw himself over her, protecting her as much as he could, before the helo exploded into a ball of thick black smoke and searing flames.  The blazing inferno shot into the sky, and a barrage of shrapnel sliced through the air around them. 

Alex felt a sharp sting as a jagged piece of metal cut through his shirt and sliced into his back.  A second explosion ripped through the air, then the only sound he heard was the crackle of flames.

He took a quick look over the rock to make sure it was safe, then turned his attention to the woman on the ground.  Her face was as pale as the sand under her head, and a thin line of blood trickled from her forehead to her left temple. 

She moved her head a little and groaned.  Then her pretty blue eyes cracked open and she looked up at him.  “Alex…?”

The pain and fear in her voice made his chest clamp down.  She was lucky to be alive.  They both were.  Lucky he’d been able to make any kind of landing at all.

“It’s all right, baby, you’re safe.  I need to take a look, see where you’re injured.”

She reached a shaky hand up to her forehead.  “My head…hurts.”  She swiped at the trickle of blood.  “I think I cut myself.”

His jaw hardened.  She had hired him to protect her.  But he couldn’t protect her from this.  “Are you hurt anywhere else?”

“No, I don’t…don’t think so.”

Jerking the strap of the canvas bag off his shoulder, he set the bag aside and made a cursory check for broken bones, felt her legs and arms, which seemed to be okay.  He checked for neck or spinal injuries, didn’t find anything obvious.  There were nicks and cuts from the crash on her neck and arms, but aside from that she seemed to be okay.  Alex breathed a sigh of relief that she hadn’t been hurt a lot worse.

“I’m kind of dizzy.”

“You probably have a slight concussion.”  He held up three fingers.  “How many do you see?”

“Three.”

He checked her pupils.  They looked normal.  “You remember what happened?”

“We crashed.  I remember how scared I was, how fast the ground seemed to come up from beneath us.  Then I blacked out.”

“We hit pretty hard.”  To say the least.

“Can we…can we radio for help?”

“Chopper exploded.  No time to call it in and now the radio’s gone.”

Her eyes widened at the news.  She sat up a little too quickly and hissed in pain.

“Take it easy.”  He tried to ease her back down, but she moved his hand away and managed to prop herself against the rock to look over at the slow-burning chunk of metal, all that was left of the helo.  “What…what caused the crash?”

A muscle tightened in his jaw.  “I don’t know.  Something went wrong with the engine.  We should have been able to auto-rotate down safely, but the rotors jammed.  We’re lucky we faired as well as we did.”

Her eyes remained on the chopper, then swung to his face.  “You saved me.  You got me out of there.  I never would have made it on my own.”

He thought of how close they’d both come.  “You’d have made it if you hadn’t hit your head.  It’s no big deal.”  He could see by the set of her chin that she didn’t believe him, but she didn’t say more.

He pulled his cell phone out of a pocket in his jeans, noticed a burn hole in his pant leg, felt the sting where the hot metal had struck.  He had the same nicks and cuts she had, a few more, maybe.  His back was bleeding, but he didn’t thing the cut was that bad.  He was just grateful to be alive. 

Flipping open the phone, he saw there wasn’t any service, as he had expected.  There weren’t any cell towers this far out in the middle of nowhere.

Sabrina silently watched him.  Tentatively, she touched the growing knot on her forehead next to her hairline.  “God, Alex, what are we going to do?”


RTBook Reviews“Martin just keeps getting better and better! Her characters have more depth, and her plots are more sinister, as the Against series continues. Set in the sizzling desert of Texas and rife with mystery, intrigue and twisted family secrets, this entry is sure to earn a spot on any fan’s keeper shelf.”

My Review

           As always, Kat Martin delivers an action packed thriller romance in the form of Against the Odds. The book is full of macho muscle wielding men who stand by their women when they aren’t busy rescuing them from danger.

           The book included loads of action that captured your attention along with enough romance to keep the pages burning hot.

           Kat Martin does such an outstanding job with her descriptions that the reader is transported into Houston, Texas and the surrounding area as though they are part of the story.

           If you are currently a Kat Martin fan, you are going to love this addition to the series. If you are a first time reader, you are going to become a fan.

If you found my review helpful, please consider voting “yes” for my review on Amazon by following the link below. Thanks!!

http://www.amazon.com/review/R29NS3JDAWZKQ4/ref=cm_cr_rdp_perm?ie=UTF8&ASIN=0778314227&linkCode=&nodeID=&tag= 


GIVEAWAY!!

Kat Martin has donated an autographed copy of Against the Odds for one lucky reader to win! Wouldn’t you lovc to win it?! 
Just leave a comment with your email for a chance to win!

Against the Odds can be purchased on Amazon by clicking the icon below.

 Additional information can be found on my blog here:

 

My Crazy Life – Starting the New Year with a little from the old


January 1, 2012

          It has become a tradition in our family for Hubby, daughter Katie-Beth and husband, Jude, and son, Joshua to play music with their dad for the Christmas children’s pageant at mass on Christmas Eve. They normally provide vocals as well. This year there was a change. A local teacher gathered a few volunteers from the church community and formed a children’s choir.

          After a few practices, Hubby had them overcoming their shyness and they were singing like angels; never more so than for the actual performance on Christmas Eve. As children go, well – we all know the unpredictable will be happen, and did. The mikes were hot so the children’s voices would fill the church, along with a hiccup that came out instead of words. Sitting up close and seeing my daughter burst out laughing (never missing a keystroke on the keyboard) and then Hubby start laughing (while keeping up on guitar), then son-in-law, Jude (still keeping beat on drums), I thought that the hiccup had come from Katie-Beth. Once the song ended and everyone had dried the tears in their eyes, Katie-Beth made motions that it had been one of the children.

          There were a few other mishaps, fortunately none of them serious. Son in law Jude, being the talented musician that he is (yeah – Manhattan School of Music), relied on one drumstick and his fingertips to get him through the Christmas pageant. No one was the wiser until after mass when he made the remark – “Note to self – next year bring sticks.”

          During the meditation after communion, it has become a tradition (started by Hubby) to sing Silent Night in the different languages of our church congregation. This year Silent Night was sung in English, Pilipino, Vietnamese, French, and Spanish. It is truly amazing to sit and listen to this one song sung in so many different languages, the world becoming a smaller place for a few minutes each Christmas Eve.

          Last year I recorded it and posted it to my blog. This year, Katie-Beth wanted me to use her Flipcam and quickly explained to me how to work it. Once. Needless to say, we have no recording. I forgot how to use it and thought the battery died. I quickly grabbed my phone and finished recording the performance, but missed Katie-Beth singing in English and Hubby singing in French. I now have my own Flipcam and will definitely know how to use it next year!

          Hubby received a ukulele for Christmas and has yet to put it down. Try being woken up to Mrs. Brown you’ve got a lovely daughter and Ave Marie each morning at six o’clock. At least he is now singing the correct words! I practically injured myself getting to the computer to print out the correct lyrics. Pet peeve – singing the wrong words to a song.

          A few highlights from 2011:

–      I started writing book reviews on my blog, reviewing 32 books since April. I found Bookblogs and Blogaholics quite by accident and began a foray into the book-reviewing world and met many friends along the way.

–      I participated in blog hops.

–      My blog won six incredible awards throughout the year.

–      I did a series of 21 days of compliments to myself. I learned a great deal from that little exercise.

–      I added two new dogs to my family, 3 year old Ryka and six-week-old Calypso. I’ve watched them grow this past year as we approach their one year anniversary with us. They have given me a lot to write about with their adventures.

–      I visited New York City twice this year and added Niagara Falls and Canada the second trip and wrote stories about those adventures.

–      I attended a writer’s conference and got to meet lots of authors.

–      I held my annual Cookie Swap for friends.

          I would like to thank all of my friends and followers for a great year and for all of the comments left on my blog. I am looking forward to visiting all of you this year and hearing about what is new on your agenda.
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Even Christmas pictures can’t escape a “Lucy” moment

Katie-Beth didn't make it in time.
Try, try again and then it's good! Son #1 - Josh - is in this picture.
Where's the flash?
And then we got the giggles!
Perfection! Son #2 - Jeremy is in this picture.

Merry Christmas from The Theriot Family

Jeffery, Donna, Jude & Katie-Beth, Joshua, Jeremy

You can find our three musicians on their web pages here:

 You can find Jude on http://www.judetraxler.com/

You can find Katie-Beth at http://katietraxler.com/

You can find Joshua at http://www.abigailsghost.com/

My Crazy Life: Time for Cookie Swap!

December 7, 2011

            Things have really been in a state of chaos here lately, or so it feels. Thanksgiving night begins a week of scurrying non-stop for me as my annual cookie swap is always the first Sunday in December. The invitations were sent out a long time ago, but I still have to call for those RSVPs.

Saturday was a huge cooking day for me. It began with making the “soup of the year”. That title doesn’t mean, “Wow, it’s the best soup I’ve ever tasted!” just simply the soup I’m serving this year. I try to serve a different soup each year and sometimes I cannot come up with any ideas. Thankfully, my best friend served this soup not too long ago and since it is one I really enjoyed, I decided the honor of “soup of the year” should be bestowed upon it.

The name of the soup is Taco Soup. If you are clamoring for the recipe, it is hidden in the pictures – just add two pounds of browned ground beef and an onion.

 Taco Soup Ingredients

Brown 2 lbs. ground beef and 1 small onion

Add water and simmer

            My cookie of choice this year was Southern Living’s Pecan Pie Cookie. It looks and tastes just as the name portrays it. I think next time; I’ll just make mini pecan pies though. They would be a lot less trouble, and in my humble opinion – much more enjoyable to the palette.

Straight from the oven

Packaged to give

           The winner of the cookie contest this year was a newbie, my friend Lynette. What a great fun to receive that honor on your first venture into cookie swapping. She made the most wonderful gingerbread men. The cookie did not have that strong flavor that you find with many gingerbread cookies, and she decorated them so cute. Her one confession was that she tried out more than a few recipes with her kids as the taste testers before she found the perfect one. Kudos to the kiddies – they picked a good one!

We had chocolate fudge and cinnamon scones this year, along with pecan pie cookies, chocolate peanut butter kisses, heavenly hash candy, an oatmeal chocolate chip cookie, and the cutest little chocolate shells filled with chocolate mousse and topped with a chocolate design (I hid these from Hubby!)

Having fun!

            You are probably thinking why there is candy at a cookie swap. The answer to that is simple. I have friends who are wonderful candy makes and hate to bake. The only steadfast rule to my Cookie Swap is that it must be homemade and some effort should go into the making of the treat. Besides – you can only eat so many cookies. The other rule is HAVE FUN!

We also play games – which can get funny at times. Each year Hubby writes a story using baking ingredients (he wants to be a part of Cookie Swap and even asked to make fudge this year) but since this year I was going with a Candy Land theme, he was a little out of his league. Can you believe? He must be the only person on the planet who never played Candy Land as a child! Any hoo – Jessica stepped up to the plate and wrote the cutest story!

Did I mention that Jessica is an author? I didn’t – you say? You can find her book on my sidebar – Muddy Bayou, along with her website.

The Candy Land story is too cute not to share and I’ll give you a hint as to the number of candies in the story – 31. See if you can find them all. (You are welcome to use the story – just give credit where credit is due. Thanks.)

Christmas in Candyland

‘Tis Christmas time in Candyland

And Candy canes and gumdrops decorated the land

Sugar plums danced and sugar babies whistled

And 5th Avenue was decorated with snowcapped thistle.

Though the season was merry as merry as could be

Princess Lollipop in her strolls couldn’t help but see

That Lord Licorice snickered and grumbled about Christmas galore

He crunched down Skittle lane yelling for more

The Starbursts in windows weren’t bursting enough, he said.

The Razzles weren’t razzling, the York flowers looked dead.

The gumdrops needed more sparkle, Milky Way was too pale

Zero wasn’t merry enough for Christmas, he wailed.

Baby Ruth, Kit Kat, Mike and Ike all cringed

But Princess Lollipop approached though she risked being singed.

We’ll have a Candy Christmas worth 100 Grand, she exclaimed.

Candyland will add trim and sparkle, it won’t be the same.

“Candyland’s made of airheads; they’ll never get it right.”

“Don’t worry, Lord Licorice, I’ll give it all my might.

Christmas will be as delicious as Turkish Delight.”

He mumbled and grumbled but agreed to see for himself that night.

Princess Lollipop took on an enormous feat

And decided to delegate to the tiny tarts of the street

Dove hung the mistletoe in every doorway in sight

Rollo carried lights and the 3 Musketeers strung them up tight

They hustled and bustled and weren’t Crybabies at all

Candy land sparkled and glittered so much, Mars gave them a call.

Lord Licorice strolled the street with his Warheads at his feet

But he grinned and threw peppermints which Mary Jane thought was neat.

Since Candy Land was the theme – complete with invitations – I decorated with candy, LOTS of candy! Hubby did get to do his part by counting the gumballs. When I asked how many so I could write it down, he refused to tell me! His band was playing music and he told me to call him at 3pm so he could tell me the number! I could tell you the number, but what fun would that be? Leave your guess in a comment.

How many Gumballs?

            As you can see in the pictures, Cookie Swap was great fun. We had lots of food and many sweets to eat. Everyone left with a promise of coming back next year. What a great afternoon it was.

How about you? Do you host a Cookie Swap or attend one?

Donna

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My Crazy Life – December 3, 2011- The “perfect” Christmas tree

Brazilian-christmas-tree
Image via Wikipedia

A friend posted on her face book page today that she allowed her two sons to decorate the Christmas tree. She was taking a break and wondering if she should leave it or fix it. I posted that I would leave it. Her post brought back a wonderful memory that I had forgotten.

Every year I would decorate the “perfect” tree. This one particular year, I let my two daughters decorate the tree. My heart gave me the idea, so how could I not listen. They made a construction paper link train like the ones we made in school as children. They also put a hodgepodge of ornaments on the tree, including the ones they made throughout their school years. It was the most beautiful tree I had ever seen.

I remember getting a lot of criticism about that tree from the ex-family. Boys can be cruel at times. It also came from them never taking the time to get to know me. I had to fight very hard that year to keep charitable feelings in my heart; looking at that tree brought a lot of peace to me. I haven’t looked at a Christmas tree the same way since. I love my two daughters with all my heart and would love to have that moment that the three of us shared back again.

We all played Barbie dolls when we were young (even some of you guys.) I have a number of Hallmark Barbie doll ornaments that I just love. I would put them on the Christmas tree, which made my youngest daughter get the vapors. The moment she would come in from school, she would sneak up to the tree and move them all to the back of the tree. Her behavior never gave her away. She could be a sneaky little stinker when it came to moving those ornaments.

As soon as I noticed, I would move them back to the front and go about my business. She would walk through the den and notice the ornaments were back in the front and she would move them to the back. This would go on and on for the entire Christmas season.

I am thinking about digging them up and putting them on the tree this year – just to see if she notices. The ornaments will probably be the one thing she will want when I’m dead and gone. Maybe she’ll even hang them on the front of the tree and smile each time she passes.

I hope you’ll join me this holiday season with comments of your own. Next up – the year the girls opened every gift under the tree and kept it a secret until Christmas!

Donna

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