Wednesday, December 14, 2011

A Christmas of Our Own by M.S. Spencer

When I was ten years old my father landed a job with UNESCO, the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization, at it's headquarters in Paris. Our family of five took the Queen Mary first class across the Atlantic, but that's another story for another time. We moved into a house in a suburb of Paris called Palaiseau. The town happened to be run by Communists, who, in order to prove how wonderful their system was, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, built a beautiful stade (recreation facility) and other amenities. What they didn't deliver was enough coal to heat the houses in what turned out to be the coldest winter since 1923. We lived in an ultramodern house reminiscent of Frank Lloyd Wright's less comfortable designs. It consisted of a square concrete block on stilts with large, uninsulated windows, so the cold wind not only swept around the house and through the windows, but underneath it. After a freezing night, we'd step from bed into icy puddles on the floor. To keep warm we used layers. And layers. And layers. So many layers that one night I heard a screech from the bathroom. My mother stood there, still in her underwear, soaking wet. She figured after shedding two sweaters, four shirts and five trousers she was clear and only learned her mistake when she stepped into the shower. To make matters worse, our trunks took six months to arrive, leaving us with only a few clothes and utensils, and of course none of our Christmas decorations. Us children (6, 10 and 12) figured whining would help and made a serious attempt to keep it up well into Christmas week. When even that failed we tried moping. My mother walked in two days before Christmas to find us in full mope mode. Without a word, she laid on the table several rolls of construction paper and glue, together with sparkly sprinkles and other small ornaments. "We're going to make our own decorations," she announced cheerily. A few hours later we'd made enough ornaments to cover the tree. My father found some real candles with little hinged holders and we attached them to the tree. It was magical! Little green paper pines with red polka dots, yellow stars, sparkly with silver sprinkles, and popcorn chains covered the little tree, all of it lit by golden light. At last we began to feel the Christmas spirit and went to bed with visions of roast chicken (no turkeys in France) and pain au chocolat (no Hershey kisses) in our heads. By the morning I was so excited my stomach hurt and I had to hold a gallon jug (no hot water bottle) on my lap. Despite-or perhaps because of-the absence of our store-bougth,factory-made, cookie-cutter American trinkets, it was the best Christmas we'd ever had. If you liked this story, please leave a comment. I will be giving away a lovely Christmas ornament to the first person who joins my blog site and can name all four of my titles! Merry Christmas, M.S. Spencer My Latest Release: Take lost masterpieces, brilliant inventors, and stolen prototypes. Add Three Sisters, Indian spirits who guard the Potomac River. Stir in three sisters and their lovers. Result? Jealousy, sex, genius, larceny and love. Who will end up with whom, and will the Three Sisters take another life as the legend demands? Triptych, by M. S. Spencer Released November 9, 2011 ISBN: 978-1-61885-064-5 68,00 words, M/F, Contemporary romantic suspense, 3 flames (erotic) Blurb

Both Miranda Cabot and her sister Honor prefer their solitude to romance, Miranda having watched her husband die in flames on the Potomac River rocks called the Three Sisters. Not so the youngest, Sybil, who invites a mysterious Frenchman calling himself the Chevalier du bon Arnaque to stay with them in their mansion overlooking the Sisters.

Misgivings about the stranger’s intentions lead Miranda and Honor to ask their neighbors Dieter Heiliger and his grandson Corey to chaperone. Three beautiful, strong-willed women living in a house with three handsome, virile men results inevitably in an intricate web of jealousy, sex, and intrigue. Add in long-lost master artworks, stolen prototypes and a resident genius and you have a recipe for romance. Who will end up with whom, and will the Three Sisters take another life as the legend calls for?

Buy Links: All Romance E Books: Book Strand: Amazon:

Excerpt: "That's the car, Sybil! The plane must have arrived early. Go open the door." Miranda heard the pounding of excited feet on the stairs. She checked her hair and dress and prepared herself not merely to meet the Chevalier du Bon Arnaque, but to dislike him intensely. She called to Honor and stepped sedately down the long formal staircase to the centeral hall where Sybil was taking the coat of a very tall, black-haired gentleman. As she stood on teh last step, he turned and glanced up at her. A long pause ensued. Did my heart just stop beating? The house, the hall, Sybil, everything but the man faded into the background. She examined his face minutely, as though she had all the time in the world. ringlets of thick, glossy black hair twined over his forehead, the light catching highlights of silver at the temples and deep in his ebony eyes. Tanned skin stretched tight over his high cheekbones, reminding her of the portrait of a Highland chieftain that hung in her study. She could just make out a tiny upturn at the end of his nose that lent a fanciful air to his appearance. Perhaps not a clan chief but an elvish prince? Slowly she grew aware of Sybil's chattering. "Monsieur le Chevalier-see how well I pronounced it, monsieu? I've been practicing. I promise to be your best student ever! Oh, and this is miranda, my sister. Honor? Honor! Are you coming down?" Miranda took the last step into a new world. She faltered before this man who turned her inside out with a single look, and words failed her. As she struggled with an unaccustomed shyness he held out a friendly hand to her. She mustered up a firm shake from somewhere, noting the hard calluses that lined his palm. A work-hardened hand. Could it be he's not a leisure-loving gigolo after all? CONTACTS: Website: Facebook Author blog: Twitter: Author Pages: Amazon Author Page: All Romance E Books Author Page:

Friday, December 9, 2011

The Gift of Belief with Willa Edwards

My mother loves to tell the same Christmas story over and over. Every time she tells it, it makes me cringe. I know it’s not that bad. I was only five or six at the time, and my excitement can be understood, but still, now in my late twenties, when she tells it I want to hide under the table.

Since this is one of my mother’s favorite Christmas memories, it’s also become a long standing tradition that we hear the story at least once, and definitely several if we have guests over or attend a few Christmas parties.

So I decided today to share it with all of you. This is the way she tells it each year. I have very little recollection of the night myself.

One Christmas Eve, while in pajamas and being obstinate about going to bed (I was a night owl from conception). I was sitting on the bench we kept in the living room by the big bay window, looking out to the front lawn and the open sky above us. A red light blinked from the sky, and I became convinced I’d seen Rudolph’s red nose. A few minutes after I heard the bang of Santa’s Reindeer hooves on the roof.

As all parents do on Christmas Eve, my mother was eager to get me into bed. She played along with my fantasy. And being the oldest it wasn’t hard for me to convince my two years junior brother that he’d heard it too. We scampered to our beds, quickly got in, and tried to go to sleep; convinced if we didn’t Santa wouldn’t leave us our presents. She always says it was the cutest thing she’d ever seen.

My mother’s version of the story ends here, and since I don’t really remember it myself, I don’t know if we actually went to bed or merely lay in bed so excited for Santa we couldn’t move.

Now do you see why I cringe?

In my defense, I will say we lived by the airport. So I probably did see a red light in the sky, though it’s more likely it was the light of a commercial plane than a reindeer. And I probably did hear noises after seeing that light, though it was probably the sound of the plane overhead like I’d hear on any other day Jolly Old Saint Nick wasn’t supposed to stop by.

And even though I cringe at this memory every time my mom tells the story, I know I should be proud of it. After all it’s that over active imagination that allows me to do what I love most, write. If I didn’t have the imagination to believe a red light in the sky was a reindeer or that Santa was on his way each year, how would I have the strength to believe in true love or that love conquers all, as it does in the books that I write. It’s that writers imagination that allows us to not only dream up these stories and characters that readers can relate to, but to believe they could actually come true so much we can make hundreds or thousands of people believe with us (just like I did my little brother).

So I know this year, when my mom tells this story, I should smile with pride and say, “Yup, that’s me. Always the fantasizing writer.” But I have a feeling I’ll still be under the table, with my fingers in my ears, inwardly proud.

Here’s a quick look at my grown up Christmas fantasy, Naughty List.

*** Leave a comment with your email address and be entered in for a chance to win a copy of Naughty List***


Eric has been in love with Callie since the day they met, one month after someone else put a ring on her finger. Since her engagement ended Eric has been biding his time, waiting for her to be ready. Until he finds a naughty list of Christmas wishes hidden between her couch cushions with his name on the top.

He's willing to do anything to make Callie happy, including take on the role of dominate Santa Claus and spank her to blow-your-stockings-off orgasm. But is she ready for everything he wants? Does she want his love?

“I’ll just be a minute,” Callie replied, her hand brushing along his arm as she stepped behind him to her bedroom. “I’m going to slip into something less comfortable.”

“Take your time,” he called, holding his breath as he waited for the bedroom door to click closed.

He’d fantasized about that bedroom so many times. The dark navy comforter, the soft baby blue sheets decorated with smiling snowmen she used all winter long. He imagined them so many nights. The smell of her skin along the sheets, the feel of the fabric wrapped around him as he perched above her, soft against his back as she straddled him, keeping them warm as they drifted off to sleep, Callie tucked into his side.

The doorknob snapped shut and Eric jumped to attention. He wouldn’t have long. Callie was always quick getting ready. If he wanted a chance of finding any evidence of what Callie wanted for Christmas, he’d better move fast.

Callie and he had an ongoing bet to find the most heartfelt present for the other. The loser had to be the other’s designated driver for New Year’s Eve. And Eric had lost for the last three years.

If she hadn’t been newly engaged he probably would have lost four years ago too, but when he’d found the picture of her parents’ wedding he’d had the brilliant idea to have her friend Amy make a duplicate of her mother’s veil. Callie had cried when she opened the box and had worn the veil for the rest of the holiday party. Eric had never done anything so right as commissioning that frilly lace train.

It wasn’t that he minded losing. Callie was funny when she had too much to drink. She told racy jokes and got overly touchy, which as long as she was only touching him, was worth being sober to ring in the New Year.

But after all she’d been through this year, calling off her wedding and finding out the truth about Josh, he wanted to make all her Christmas wishes come true. Starting with the perfect present, even if he had to snoop to find out what she wanted.

Eric looked around the room, frantically searching for something she might need. He tipped his head to look into the trash, inspecting the contents for clues, hoping to find some recently broken appliance or family heirloom he could repair that Callie’s elementary gym teacher salary wouldn’t allow.

A sliver of light green between the arm and cushion of Callie’s mocha-colored couch drew his eye. The bright color protruded from rich leather, one of the few pieces of furniture in the room besides an inherited coffee table and elaborately decorated Christmas tree. Taking two steps to the couch, he gripped the spearmint object between his thumb and forefinger, pulling the folded holiday paper from the crevice. Why would Callie shove a piece of paper between the couch cushions? Why would she need to hide something in her own home?

Eric unfolded the paper, expanding the corners into a large, flat sheet. Twirling red ribbons and shiny gold ornaments decorated the page and snowflakes dotted each line. The written words stopped his breath. Callie’s tight, neat script whispered his greatest fantasy.

His throat closed, trapping the oxygen in his chest. His eyes blurred as he read the words over and over. His vision must be playing a trick on him. Callie would never be interested in this kind of sex, and she would certainly never be interested in him.

He’d been in love with Callie since the day he’d met her, which happened to be one month after Josh had slipped a three-carat diamond ring on her finger. He could still remember the bite of that hard rock into his palm as he shook her hand, thanking her for volunteering at the special needs event for thirty kids with physical handicaps, several his cases, that her fiancĂ©’s team was hosting. The small pinch reminded him their meeting was not a dream. This funny, interesting, beautiful woman was real.

He may have denied his feelings at first, but he’d long since accepted he’d never have her, and forced himself to become just her friend. In all that time he’d never imagined she could return his affection.

He wasn’t her type. Callie went for athletic pretty guys. Hell, Josh had been a professional baseball player. How was a social worker supposed to compete with a guy like that? Awkward, gawky, and broke to boot—what a catch Eric was. She deserved better.

His stare remained glued to her naughty Christmas list. His gaze drifted to the top of the page where she’d written his name. He reread each increasingly kinky line. How long had she been thinking about him like this? Since she’d broken off her engagement? Before? If he’d only known, he would have already fulfilled all these wishes and then some.

A wicked smile curled his lips. His body burned stronger than the fire in the chimney Kris Kringle would soon be coming down. His cock pressed against his jeans, hard, hot, wanting. The confinement was a sweet pain he’d become used to after years of being so close to the woman of his dreams but unable to touch her.

There was no time like the present.

“Ready to go?” Callie asked from the bedroom door. He raised his head, cramming the list under his thigh as he drank in the poinsettia red sweater hugging her curves. His mouth watered at the rose blush staining her cheeks. He’d do better than that.

Eric nodded, his tongue no longer working properly. Callie’s curls fluttered as she pulled on a white puffy jacket, making the most adorable candy cane he’d ever seen as she walked to the door. One he couldn’t wait to taste.

Eric trailed behind, stuffing the holiday page into his back pocket. Christmas suddenly looked a lot brighter.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Holiday Stories with Tawny Weber

Holiday Stories - Tonya's 15 Days of Christmas celebration I'm a big fan of this time of year. The magic of the season, the message of caring, and the comforting traditions. And, actually, of the romance as well. Which makes it extra wonderful to add a book release to the celebration of the season. The first book in my Under Cover Operatives Series, SEX, LIES AND MISTLETOE is on shelves. The blurb goes like this: He sees her when she's sleeping... Undercover DEA agent Caleb Black is home for the holidays-possibly to bust his own father. But maybe Caleb's con-man dad isn't the one running drugs through the small town of Black Oak. Maybe it's the green-eyed goddess who runs the New Age shop and has Caleb under her sultry spell. Pandora Easton saved the family store with two words: sex sells. And her delectable aphrodisiacs really works, as she's proven with notorious bad boy Caleb again and again and again. Little does she guess that, int he end, her most potent potion will be the truth... There's something extra magical holiday romances. I love the idea of a couple finding that extra thrill and joy under their Christmas tree. In addition to enjoying romantic reads, one of the things I love to do this time of year is make a big batch of cookies, pop a bowl of popcorn and curl up in front of the fireplace to enjoy a few holiday favorites. My top ten favorites are (in no particular order): 1. Rudolph the Rednosed Reindeer 2. Frosty the Snowman 3. It's a Wonderful Life 4. The Year Without a Santa Claus 5. A Christmas Carol (with Patrick Stewart) 6. The Santa Clause 7. A Christmas Story 8. Miracle on 34th Street 9. How the Grinch Stole Christmas 10. Santa Claus is Coming to Town
So how about you? Is there a movie you love to watch each year? Or a holiday book you love to read? Are you a fan of the holiday romances?
Tawny Weber has been writing sassy, sexy stories for Harlequin Blaze since her first book hit the shelves in 2007. When not obsessing over deadlines, she's shopping for cute shoes, scrapbooking or hanging out on Facebook and Twitter. Come by and visit her on the web at In December of 2011 Tawny launched her Undercover Ops series with SEX, LIES AND MISTLETOE. The second book in the series, SEX, LIES & MIDNIGHT is on shelves in January 2010, quickly followed in February by SEX, LIES & VALENTINES. Be sure to follow Tawny on her Holiday Survival Tour as she celebrates these three books with contests, giveaways and lots of fun. You can read the first chapter of SEX, LIES & MISTLETOE on her website, all you have to do is join the Reader LoveFest!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

On the 6th Day of Christmas Lisa Alexander-Griffin joins us

Enter the dark and sensual worlds of Lisa Alexander-Griffin.

Fall in love again and again…

Shattered Illusions



Pink Petal Books


After a ten year stint in prison for a crime he didn't commit, a changed Cage Sinclair returns to his hometown. Hell-bent on clearing his name, trust is nonexistent—especially with the woman who had loved and betrayed him in the same breath. The woman who now lived in his deceased father's house.

Morgan still yearns for the love of her life to return, even though her own fear helped railroad him into prison. She has kept her silence to protect her son. But now Cage is back.

Inconceivable danger lurks in the shadows, but behind closed doors embers ignite and old passions flame. Amidst betrayal, deceit and shattered illusions, will the truth tear them apart or bind them together forever?


Cage stiffened and turned to face the man who had railroaded him into prison.

The sheriff eyeballed him, a thin smile stretching his lips. He hitched his thumbs in the waistband of his pants. “I’ll be a son of a bitch. When did you get out?”

“Wednesday. Came home last night. Thought I’d drop by, let you know I’m in town.”

“Now you have. What else?” Sheriff Blakely’s dull green eyes bored into him.

“My father left me the farm. Thought I’d buy a few heads of cattle and settle. He’d like that. The homestead’s gone to ruin since I’ve been away.”

“Well, at least there’s a place to come back to.” Sheriff Blakely smirked. “Just stay out of trouble, boy. Don’t go poking into affairs that don’t concern you.”

Cage released a dry chuckle. “I haven’t been a boy since I checked in for my extended vacation at Kentucky State.” He scrutinized the office, scanned the pictures on the wall, the worn desk and chair. “Whatever happened to your brother, Tom? Is he still around? I’d really like to see him, catch up on old times.”

“You don’t want to bother old Tom. Keep your nose clean and you’ll be okay. Otherwise...” Sheriff Blakely popped his knuckles and snickered.

“Otherwise I might find myself arrested and convicted for something else I didn’t do? Is that was your implying?”

“Now, now. That’s not a nice thing to say. I’d watch myself if I were you, Sinclair. And watch that temper. No one in town’s gonna like it that you’re back. They’ll keep their daughters locked up tight and a close eye on you.

“I’m not the one to be watched, and we both know it. I plan to clear my name, and the place to start is with Tom.”

Sheriff Blakely jabbed Cage’s chest with his finger, unease surfacing on his face. “I’m warning you...”

Hands balled at his sides, Cage regarded the sheriff. “What? It’s illegal now to converse with an old friend?”

“I didn’t say that. Just don’t stir up trouble, Sinclair. Take that as a friendly warning.”

“I don’t plan to do anything but unearth the truth. If that ruffles feathers, tough. Sleep well, Sheriff.” With a curt nod, he left.

Once outside, Cage blew a frustrated breath and headed for Pleasure Ridge’s only Baptist church. He hadn’t been able to attend his father’s funeral, and he’d be damned if anyone would stop him from visiting his father’s grave. Son of a bitch, he missed that old man.

Scowling, he tramped down the sidewalk, bitterness rising in his chest like bile. His mother had taken off soon after his father’s passing and left no forwarding address. Another oddity he couldn’t fathom.

Puzzled, he scanned the buildings and each passerby’s face. Holloway’s Market, the only grocery store in town, stood stark and white in the distance. Morgan was right. Not much had changed, except for maybe a new coat of paint here and there. An electronics repair shop sat adjacent to the drugstore. Both businesses exactly where they’d been ten years ago. Across the street a neon green sign blinked Breakers. He’d go in, check out the pool hall before he went home. With any luck he’d run into Tom Blakely and have his chat.

Cage strode through Pleasure Ridge, all four blocks. His attention, trained on the massive white steeple at the edge of town, shifted to the sandstone and mortar church, its stained-glass windows gleaming in the sunlight. Grief washed over him as he pushed through the graveyard’s black wrought iron gate. Locked away in prison, he’d refused to

mourn his father’s passing and instead had focused on survival. Now, it was time to grieve.

With no idea where the grave lay, he walked through row upon row of headstones, his attention darting from one to the other, until finally finding the name Sinclair. Eyes tearing, Cage traced a finger over his father’s name. Roses of faded red silk resided in a vase in front of the stone, dull and lifeless.

Lowering to his knees, he bowed his head. “I’m finally home, Dad. Sorry I wasn’t here when you needed me.” His voice cracked. Cage clamped down on the inside of his cheek and forced an anguished moan back in his throat. He rose to his feet, staring down at the grave. “Thanks for taking on Morgan and my boy. Taking care of them when I couldn’t.” He wiped his eyes and on a quivering exhale, retraced his steps to the florist shop he’d spotted.

The old man deserved more than faded, fake flowers on his grave. Distracted, Cage sidled past shoppers on the sidewalk. He entered the shop, cool air hitting him in the face. Patricia Ann McCarley stood behind the counter. Hell! It had to be her. Green-eyed and buxom, she’d hardly changed at all.

With a nod of acknowledgment, he turned to the silk flower display. Seconds later, she stepped in close, her breast brushing against his arm.

“Need help with something?” she purred in a sexually suggestive tone.

Caught off guard, Cage stepped back, trying to ignore her blatant attempt at a come-on. He’d been out of circulation for a long time, but the look in her eyes and the tone of her voice, was clear enough.

Patricia Ann used a heavy hand with makeup. Black liner caked the edges of her eyes, reminding him of a raccoon. Her full lips shimmered, red and garish. He cringed inwardly.

“I need new flowers for my father’s grave. Something white. Maybe lilies. They were my mother’s favorite.”

After a quick scan of the premade arrangements, she frowned. “Hold on, sugar. I think I have what you need in the back.” With an exaggerated sway of her hips, she disappeared through a door and moments later returned holding a bouquet of white lilies and yellow carnations. “These are not all white, but it’s the best I can do on short notice.” She inspected him from head to foot and smiled. “Unless you’d like come back later, let me make you something special.”

Cage’s stomach rolled. “No. Those are fine. What do I owe you?”

She walked behind the counter and rang up his purchase. He passed her the required bills, and she counted his change back to him.

“Who was your father?” She crinkled her nose, leaned over the counter, and exposed her cleavage. “For some reason, you look familiar.”

“Levi Sinclair. Nice to see you. It is Patricia Ann, isn’t it? Thanks for all the help.”

Alarm erased the lust on her face. Her jaw dropped open. “When did they let you out?”

“Wednesday. You’ll be seeing me around often enough.” He smiled.

“Uh. You coming back won’t make anyone around here happy.”

“Haven’t you heard? I’m a reformed man. Nothing to fear.” Scooping up his purchase, he headed for the door.

“Does Sheriff Blakely know you’ve returned?”

Cage paused, his hand on the doorknob. Patricia Ann was a fine example of the close-minded attitudes he’d always sensed as a boy. “Yeah. Paid him a visit earlier. He’s about as happy to see me as you are. But I’ve done my time. Guess all you townsfolk will just have to grin and bear it.”

Outside, he stared toward the police station and gave a quick salute to Blakely who stood watching him.

Back at the cemetery, he knelt next to his father’s grave and gently placed the new flowers in the stationary vase at the foot of the tombstone. Satisfied he’d done all he could, he rested a hand atop the cold stone. “It won’t be easy, Pops, but I’ll make a go of the farm like I promised, clear my name, and take care of my son. Sons of bitches won’t run me out of town, and I’ll die before I go back to prison.”

Title Available at Pink Petal Books, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and All Romance ebooks

Visit Lisa at Friend on Facebook Follow on Twiter!/LisaAGriffin

Lisa would like to share one of her favorite holiday recipes, and a Christmas tradition at her house.

Merry Bells


1 box confectioner’s sugar

1 can Eagle Brand milk

½ stick butter

1 large package coconut

2 cups chopped pecans

(chopped cherries) optional


Mix well. Chill. Roll into balls and chill again for a couple hours in the frig. Insert a toothpick

into each ball for dipping. Dip in chocolate.

Chocolate Dip

1 large pack chocolate morsels.

1 block of Gulf Wax paraffin

Melt in double boiler on medium heat.


Lisa Alexander-Griffin began her career as a writer twelve years ago. Multi-published, her titles range from sweet to spicy with elements of fantasy and suspense.

A North Alabama native, Lisa lives with her husband and twelve-year-old daughter. She also has two grown children who live nearby, so she can enjoy her three beautiful grandchildren quite often. When Lisa's not writing, she can be found in her garden, tending to a vast array of vegetables, which she cans, allowing her family a taste of summer year round. Other favorite pastimes are reading, quilting, spending time with her family, and fishing on the lake.

An avid reader of romance for as long as she can remember, most days you'll find her weaving tales of heartbreak and betrayal, love lost and found, and happily ever afters.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Rose Anderson on the 5th Day of Christmas

First off, let me say thanks for having me today Tonya. :)

When thinking up something fun for this blog post, I thought everyone could use a few cool-looking homemade and inexpensive Christmas gift ideas this year. I’ve always made gifts for family and friends. Over the years some have been tasty treats, but most have been lasting. I love repurposing. I’ve made mittens from felted wool sweater sleeves, and earrings and bracelets out of old silver teaspoon handles. I’ve sewn large roomy tote bags and sofa pillows from vintage dresses with fabulous fabric. You never know where the next fun idea will come from. If you have a terrific gift idea, drop me a line, I’d love to hear about it.

I’m going to give a few of my best without pictures. Hopefully, I’ll describe the details well enough you’re able to follow along. If you’re stuck, email me and I’ll talk you through ~ roseanderson4858(at)yahoo(dot)com

The Secret Book ~ This book innocently sits on the shelf with the rest of your library, but when you turn a few pages, you’ll discover this crumby old book is actually a secret compartment. It’s a box made out of a book and the cover is the lid.

* You’ll need a thick old and boring looking book. Try a thrift store or the library a free or an inexpensive discard.

* Modpodge and applicator (foam or bristle brush)

* An Exacto knife or box cutter blade.

* A sheet of foil or waxed paper

Flip open the book and go at least ten pages in. Mark the page by tucking your sheet of foil or waxed paper inside and close the book. This is what you should see – ten loose pages and a protective sheet of foil or waxed paper. The rest of the pages will be the box. Now apply a liberal coating of Modpodge to the edge below those ten pages. Put something heavy on top, smooth any blobs with the brush or foam applicator and wait about an hour for it to dry.

The book will be stiff now except for those few loose pages at the front of the book. Determine the size of the compartment your book will have within its pages. Trace out a smaller rectangle and carefully use the Exacto blade or box cutter to cut out as many pages as you’re able to at one time. Keep on going until you almost reach the back cover. Once you have a nice deep center cut away, paint on the Modpodge to seal the raw edges just like you did to the outside. Using the scrap pages you’ve cut out, paste these over the raw edges inside with more Modpodge for a nice finished look. Leave your book open to dry. And there you go -- a very cool looking, infinitely useful, gift. :)

Repurposed Stationary Set ~ I started this project by buying a sustainably grown bamboo pen for my daughter (offebay). Then, using two sizes of opened and flattened envelopes as templates, I made crazy envelopes out of full page magazine ads and Patagonia catalog pages. I fine line of regular old Elmers glue sealed my new envelopes. I could have used a glue stick but having had glue stick projects come unglued before, I opted for the sure thing. I bought a recycled paper writing tablet and made a custom cover for it from a very nice picture I found online of the recycle symbol as the top of a stylized tree. I also found a Save a Tree/ Reuse Paper self-inking stamp. I bundled up the envelopes in two stacks and put it all into a cigar box that I covered with cancellation marks from all over the world. It was one of my more fun projects that looked like it came from one of those fancy and pricey catalogs.

Ransom Note Refrigerator Magnets ~ I cut large alphabet letters from cereal boxes, glossy sales papers and magazines, and stuck them on peel and stick magnet sheets but it’s also a great way to use up those freebie ad magnets and magnetic calendars (just carefully peel away the text or picture to get to the sticky base underneath. Tip: arrange them this way and that to save space. After a coating of matte finish Modpodge dries, cut them out. I followed the number and count of Scrabble letters and added questions marks and exclamation points for emphasis. They came out really nice and got a lot of laughs.

Snowmen vs. Santas Checker Set ~ A friend of mine drinks different types of beer and saves bottle caps of all colors and brands for me. A few years ago I thought up a twist on an old standard game – checkers. You’ll need:

* 24 bottle caps. Be sure they’re not bent.

* 1 bottle of clear Diamond Glaze (check your craft store) or two or three bottles of cheap clear nail polish

* 12 pictures of Santas and 12 pictures of Snowmen thought really it could be anything as long as there are 12 of one and 12 of the other. I cut mine from a catalog with vintage pictures but you could also check the dollar store for inexpensive holiday greeting cards. It’s possible to cut the small circles (bottle cap size) by hand by tracing a quarter. Or buy yourself a nice quarter-sized hole punch. I eventually did that. Much easier and super fast.

* Glue

Once you’ve assembled your supplies, dab a dot of glue inside the bottle cap and carefully center the picture inside. Smooth out any bubbles and lumps. Allow to dry then slowly fill the bottle cap with Diamond Glaze or nail polish. I found simple checkerboards at my local dollar store and used those to go with my games. You can easily make your own. A search online will give you the exact count of squares needed.

I hope you’ve enjoyed these fun little projects. :) Happy Holidays!

Hello, I’m Rose Anderson, the author of scorching romances Dreamscape and Hermes Online. You can find me just about anywhere these days. Here are several of my links. I’d love if you’d stop and check out my books or just say hi. :) My blog: My page at my publisher's site: Siren-Bookstrand_RoseAnderson My book trailers: MusesWritingTablet Yes I tweet, let's be friends! @roseanderson_ (notice the _ at the end) And we can be friends here too! Google+ Circles (I'm not on Facebook)

Saturday, December 3, 2011

MY Muse, Christmas Time with Judy Baker

I’m one of those ‘weird’ people that others don’t understand – yup, you’re right - I start listening to Christmas music in August. Once I started writing a Christmas themed story in December and listened to Christmas music all the way through April, when I finally wrote “The End.” I about drove my hubby crazy when I decided to write two more books (during the summer months) to complete my Santa Series: Santa’s Pretty Lady, Santa’s Secret Gift, Mainland Santa. And, yes of course, you have to have the music while writing. All my e-books are written under my alter-ego Anna Sugg. Read a blurb on my website:

A copy of Homeless Santa (now an eBook titled, Santa’s Pretty Lady) has been donated for Tonya’s Christmas Gift Basket for the lucky person that wins. Good Luck.

Excerpt from Santa’s Pretty Lady:

“Ah, gee whiz, lady,” hollered a man down the end of the counter.

LenaBelle raised her eyebrows at Santa and turned to the man who spoke.

“You gotta have dinner with Santa.”

“Yeah, you can’t turn down Santa,” joined a man from across the room.

“Yeah,” remarked another listener.

A quick glance around the tables found all eyes glued to them. LB turned back to Santa and from his expressive eyes, she could tell he was thoroughly enjoying the moment.

“Keep it up, guys,” Santa’s deep voice encouraged as he motioned with black gloved hands. “She’s weakening.”

“Hey,” echoed the man from the far end of the counter, “a lady that has Here come Santa Claus on her cell phone can’t turn down an invitation from him.”

Then to her shock, the man bellowed out “Here comes Santa Claus, here comes Santa Clause-” and everyone joined him.

Dropping her head in her hands, she couldn’t help but laugh. Finally, she threw up her hands toward the crowd and agreed. “Okay, okay, I’ll have dinner with him.” Turning to Santa, she noted a satisfied expression.

He leaned over, put an arm around her shoulder, and whispered close to her ear, “Meet me at Metish around eight. Will that give you enough time?”

“Yes, but-”

Standing, he turned to the customers and waved. “Thanks guys, it’s a date. Ho, ho, ho, and a Merry Christmas to all.”

With a twinkle in his eyes, he left her sitting there with a red face, a latte, and everyone clapping their hands.

I have so many wonderful Christmas memories that I have often started out writing a

Christmas story, until my characters head into a different direction. That’s what happened when I wrote Secret Past, A Yellow Creek Novel.

My family always went to my grandparents’ farm in Tennessee for Christmas when I was a child. To this day, the memories of so many special Christmases put a smile on my lips. They’re so dear to me since both my grandparents and parents are gone. In Secret Past, my character returns to her grandmother’s farm and while taking a journey through the past, she remembers a fun Christmas Eve spent at the farm. While there a vision of her grandmother appears…and, so, my story is off and running in a different direction. But, those Christmas feelings are still living within me to this day.

“Her feet seemed to be focus on a certain track as she gazed into the opening that once closed the large foyer off from the rest of the house. She glanced down as if to see the antique leather-bound traveling trunk her grandma used for all her good linen.

Sarah giggled, recalling the times she had sat on that old trunk while listening to the pitter-patter of rain on the tin roof. To this day, she loved the sound of a pounding rain on a tin roof.

Once again, she was a little girl, snuggled in her grandmother’s feather bed. Long ago on a special Christmas Eve, her mother had put her to bed, but Sarah had been too excited to sleep. Her eyes closed quickly though, when she heard Santa's sleigh bells. It wasn’t until years later, while a teenager that she had learned her dad had used grandpa’s cowbells.

As if in a trance, Sarah turned and floated into the living room, stopping short. A spirited, unearthly feeling washed over her. This was the room she had spent so many happy hours in with her grandparents.

While she stood in the mist of the rotten walls, a presence grew stronger. It was effortless to feel the warm glow of the woodstove and see her grandpa rocking while reading his Bible. She turned her gaze toward the kitchen door. Her eyes widened.

She chewed her bottom lip. If she didn't move or breathe…

Whether imagined, or not, the image of her tiny grandmother stood in the doorway. The same soft, gray eyes stared straight into hers, like so many years ago.

Sarah’s heart ran rapid.

The experience…so surreal, she stretched out her hand, wanting to touch her shiny white hair wound up in a figure eight, held in place with a hairpin. Her grandmother wore the familiar

long red and white apron, as if stepping from the kitchen.

Sarah was afraid to blink, much less breathe. She stood frozen in time.”

When visiting my family in Tennessee during the early 80’s, my sister, Sherry, gave me a recipe that I thought would make the best holiday cake ever. Now, twenty-five years later, I’m making the same cake for our Christmas dinner dessert. We make traditions sometimes that can last a lifetime. I would like to share my Christmas recipe with you…

Sherry’s Carrot Cake

2 cups of sugar

1 ¼ cups of vegetable oil

4 eggs

2 ½ cups cake flour

2 ¼ teaspoon baking soda

2 teaspoons cinnamon

3 cups finely shredded carrots

3 ½ cups black walnuts

Combined sugar, oil, egg (one at a time) Mix well after each egg

Stir in carrots

Add nuts

Sift together: flour, baking soda, cinnamon

Stir into mixture

Pour into 3 greased 9 inch round cake pans

Bake 30-35 minutes


Cake Icing

1 8oz package cream cheese – softened

1/4 cup butter – softened

1 lb box soft confection sugar

2 teaspoon vanilla

2 teaspoon lemon juice

Blend cream cheese and butter until smooth

Add sugar, gradually mixing

Stir in lemon and vanilla

If frosting seems too soft – refrigerate for a few minutes

I decorate our entire house for Christmas and I start at Thanksgiving. My husband drags the Christmas tree from the storage area and sets it up in the living room. We don’t decorate the tree, but always have the lights on for Thanksgiving dinner which adds to the festive atmosphere. Once Thanksgiving dinner is over, I sat back, relax, have a glass of wine, and watch the grandkids decorated the Christmas tree. My hubby likes that tradition. They always do a beautiful job, with their parent’s help of course, or else, only the bottom half of the tree would be decorated. I put up two more trees the next day and by the weekend I decorate the rest of the house, including the bathrooms. I would love to hear from you at and please visit my website:

This has been fun Tonya and I appreciate the chance to share my love for Christmas. I

wish you all a blessed Christmas season.

Friday, December 2, 2011

On the Second Day of Christmas Sarah McNeal joined us

On The Second Day Of Christmas

My true love gave to me, two turtledoves...

I never really understood what a turtledove was—a dove with a shell? One thing I do know is that doves symbolize love and peace. Nothing brings together love and peace more than the Christmas season.

Perhaps you can find that love in my Christmas story, Gifts From The Afterlife, in the 2011 Christmas Anthology from Victory Tales Press in which Lydia Sinclair comes to peace with the loss of her loved ones and makes a decision that will alter her future.

As we enter into the holiday season, I wish for everyone peace, love and joy no matter your religion or culture. We all live on a small planet with all God’s creation. May we all live in tolerance, harmony and empathy for all living things.

Gifts From The Afterlife

How dark must it get before Lydia sees the light?


Lydia Sinclair’s life has run off the rails. She has lost everyone she loves and Christmas has lost its meaning. As Christmas approaches, Lydia wants to go to sleep and never wake up again. Perhaps an angel, some ghosts and a childhood sweetheart can convince her that life is worth living again. Can Lydia let go of what once was, renew her joy in Christmas and find the promise of hope for her future?


She felt the heat surge up her neck into her face. Lydia turned away from him and headed toward her house. If she ignored him, maybe he wouldn't insist on asking her about her feelings or about that kiss, and she could escape from her vulnerability.

Just as she reached her back door, he caught up with her, grasped her arm, and turned her around to face him. His sea green eyes were flecked with heated gold as he peered at her. "Don't just walk away. Tell me what I did wrong. Was it because I kissed you?"

She wanted to say something, to tell him that the kiss meant everything to her. It wasn't the kind of kiss that led straight to the bedroom. It felt more like a prelude to something richer, deeper, longer—like an unspoken promise. She tried to form the words but they resisted expression.

He pressed his fingertips to her lips. His voice, when he spoke, rose just above a whisper. "Wait. I know what you're going to say. It's too soon. Hell, you hardly remember me." He held on to her. The wind feathered his hair and swept it over his brow. "But for me, you've been here my whole life." He fisted his free hand and tapped his chest over his heart.

Snow gathered in his hair and melted on his face. He sighed. "All I ask is that you give me a chance. I know it's been hard for you in recent years—so many losses, so much sadness, but when you're ready..." His words trailed off.


Smashwords Ebook ($3.99) Lulu Ebook ($3.99):

Other Books by Sarah McNeal:

Harmonica Joe’s Reluctant Bride (Time Travel Western 1910) Western Trail Blazers

Bitter Notes (Contemporary) Amira Press

For Love Of Banjo (Western Historical WWI) coming soon Western Trail Blazers

The Violin (Time Travel 1927) with new edits, coming soon

Where you can find me:


Moonlight Romance Authors: Sarah’s Provocative Ponderings: Twitter:!/Starcriter My Blog Spot: My website:

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Kick off of 15 Days of Christmas with Cynthia MacGregor

Please welcome my special guest author, Cynthia MacGregor. Thanks so much for being her today, Cynthia, and for kicking off my 15 Days of Christmas Event!!


by Cynthia MacGregor

How does your family celebrate holidays...and not just "The Holidays"--the major ones that stare with Thanksgiving, end with New Year's, and include Christmas and/or Chanukah and/or Kwanzaa? I'm talking about all holidays, including the patriotic ones, the minor ones, and every other "special" day on the calendar.

If you have kids at home, you are probably interested in several things in connection with the holidays:

· Making the holidays meaningful--they're more than just a day off from school.

· Making memories that your kids will treasure long after they're grown: "Oh, I remember when we were kids, on Easter Mom would always __________."

There are two primary things you can do that will make holidays-any holiday-more meaningful and help makememories your kids will treasure. Pick either one. Pick both.

One is to initiate a custom that's specific to your family and centers around that holiday, be it Christmas or Thanksgiving, Presidents' Day or Valentine's Day, or even such occasions as the night of a full moon or the first day of spring. The other is to develop a ceremony for that occasion.

I happen to have written two books that touch on those two subjects-but whether or not you buy the books, I still urge you to follow their precepts.

The traditions you establish for your family need not be anything spectacular. They can be small and always saying a prayer when you put your Christmas tree topper in place, and then observing a moment of silence, or hiding a child's birthday presents instead of giving them to him/her outright, so that she/he has the fun of searching the house, knowing the s/he is looking for five presents...but s/he has to find them before s/he can open them.

Family Traditions, Customs and Celebrations is a compilation of just such traditions that were started in real families all over and perpetuated through the years. Most are unique to just one family; none is a universal, widespread, time-honored tradition. Most of these ideas will be new to you, though you are welcome to borrow them to use in your family.

The ceremonies in Family Ceremonies for Life's Occasions celebrate not only calendar holidays such events as birthdays but also life's major and minor milestones from moving into a new house to paying off the mortgage, from celebrating the birth of a child to celebrating an engagement; and yes, there are even ceremonies for such sad occasions as the death of a pet. Even the day that a child gets his/her first driver's license can be solemnized by a ceremony...and maybe that will help the teenager remember to take driving seriously and not drive carelessly or foolishly.

Naturally, I hope you'll buy both these books, but even if you don't want to, you can still write your own ceremonies and invent your own customs and traditions. The important thing to remember is that they make your family special, draw your family closer together, and weave lasting memories that will warm your kids' hearts long after they're grown. "My family was really neat! I remember from back when Iw as very little, my folks would always ____________."

What will your kids remember? What makes your family special? What sets your family apart from others and creates special days that really are special and not just an excuse for a day off from school or a chance to get presents? Does your child get to wear a birthday crown and sit in a place of honor at dinner on his birthday? Does your child get to choose the dinner menu when he brings home a good report card? Do you create a family New Year's Eve celebration by sharing favorite memories?

What will your children remember from their growing-up years? What memories are you creating?

It's never too late to start.

* * *

If you want to order either of these two books, you'll find them at

Happy Holidays...all the holidays! From my house and my heart to yours.

Cynthia MacGregor