Happy New Year Facebook Hop Hosted by @LoveKissedBookBargains!

 

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Welcome to the Happy New Year Facebook Hop, hosted by @Love Kissed Book Bargains!

 

Featuring tons of prizes from over 150 authors and bloggers, including Amazon gift cards, it’s a great way to spend New Year’s Weekend!

At the end of the hop I’ll be giving away a $20 Starbucks gift card, in honor of the many Starbucks drinks that powered me through hours of writing. 😀

 

Please join the fun by visiting my author Facebook page and following the instructions provided. The giveaway is open from 12pm EST on 12/31 until 12pm EST on 1/2 and winners will be chosen at random.

 

In case of a broken link and to enter the Grand Prize Giveaway, visit the website for a complete list of participants:

http://lovekissedbookbargains.com/join-the-happy-new-year-hop-here/   Win a Kindle or Amazon Gift Cards!

 

Good luck and I hope everyone has a Happy New Year weekend!

 

Facebook giveaways are in NO way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook. Information collected is NOT collected by Facebook. In signing up for this promotion, participants release and indemnify Facebook from all liability.

Holiday Décor– Gingerbread Style!

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It’s holiday season and the clock is ticking closer to my favorite holiday of them all—Christmas!

When it comes to Christmas, I’m a sucker for it all—decorations, gift buying and giving, singing carols, gatherings with family and friends, and the baking. Especially the baking!

Years ago when my girls were younger I started a tradition of baking and decorating a gingerbread house together. It’s not a simple process, more like a several-day process.

It all started when I came across a how-to bake a gingerbread house from scratch VHS tape (yes, I’m dating myself here) called the Magic of Gingerbread Houses.

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From whipping up the cookie batter, to cutting out individual pieces by hand, to decorating the sides and allowing them to dry overnight, to assembling the house, and finally to decorating the roof and the surrounding yard/landscape.

It’s not a one afternoon process. But, we would start the Christmas carols playing and enjoy the family time. And once we were done, we had managed to create one of my favorite decorations in our house. A beautiful masterpiece (in our eyes anyway) that made the house smell sugary sweet!

The first few years we made one house together. Eventually my girls decided they’d like to try making their own and we created a three-house neighborhood. Soon we were moving on to a city center with a beauty salon, two-story dance studio and the mayor’s mansion. One year we made a country house with an airplane hangar and runway in its backyard.

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Another year, being the diehard Chicago Cubs fans that we are, we created Wrigley Field with mini gummi bears as Cubs fans and a signature bar with rooftop seating across the street.

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Another year we decided to try our hand at creating some of our favorite places to visit. My youngest built a large two story house in Santorini with a sandy (brown sugar) beach leading to the ocean that connected it to the Roman Coliseum and a pavilion in Guell Park in Barcelona.

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Once all my daughters left for college I figured the tradition might not last. Their time at home was now limited. Life changes happen. But that first year they were all off to school, when December rolled around my girls started sending texts asking about designs or they scoured the internet and swapped house plans with each other to see which they’d like to try.

So I bought the supplies and once they arrived home, we started the music and got to work– together. In recent years we’ve created gingerbread neighborhoods like this one.

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and this one

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And three separate houses displayed together or separated around the house.

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Last year, with my oldest home for only a short time and my middle daughter volunteering out of the country throughout the holidays, once again I was dismayed to think that we may not take the time for gingerbread houses.

Thankfully, my youngest saved the day by deciding she wanted to be adventurous and create the Eiffel Tower. She found a template on-line, then I used my stellar math skills (read that as: the most math this English major had used a looooong time) to double the measurements so I could cut out our template. It was simple, yet elegant and served as the perfect table centerpiece on our lazy-susan.

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Yes, our home is sprinkled with other decorations—both inside and out. But when it comes down to it, some of my absolute favorite decorations are the houses we’ve created together. It reminds me of the power of tradition to bond families and people. Of the time my girls and I have spent together over the years. The fun we’ve had breaking the houses on New Year’s Eve and enjoying the fruits of our labor.

But more important than those gingerbread houses are the memories we’ve made—as always, together.

 

What about you… Is there a decoration you have that for whatever reason is your favorite? I’d love to hear what it might be.

 

Also, I encourage you to hop on over to visit my Firebird sisters Jean Willett, Sharon Wray, Tamra Baumann and Kay Hudson. Like me they’re sharing about their holiday décor, too!

 

I wish you the most blessed, joyous holiday season!!!

 

 

 

Hispanic Heritage Month

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We’re in the midst of  Hispanic Heritage Month which runs from September 15th – October 15th!

I’ll be guest blogging at two sites during HHM:

1. the Contemporary Romance Writers chapter of Romance Writers of America– Wednesday, September 23rd

and

2. Limecello’s TartSweet— book review blog– Thursday, October 15th

Stay tuned for more info on my upcoming posts!

 

 

 

Ph-Ph-Phobias…

 

 

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Let me start by saying that somehow I had gotten it into my head that this month’s Writer Wednesdays blog topic was “vacation pics.”  Needless to say I was caught off guard when I recently learned that we were supposed to share a blog on phobias.

 

Vacation pictures… phobias… they’re kinda close. Not! 😀

 

So, I had to shift gears rather quickly (as in, just last night) and see what my thoughts might be on phobias—or at least the thoughts worth sharing anyway.

 

Phobia (according to the Merriam-Webster website) is an extremely strong dislike or fear of someone or something

 

Yes, there are things I dislike or fear, and there are some people I don’t necessarily care for so I avoid them—thought other than Freddie Krueger, I’m not sure I “fear” someone.

But a phobia? Hmmm, yes, I must admit I have them.

 

Two to be exact:  fear of falling and fear of tightly enclosed spaces (mostly if I’m afraid I could get stuck inside them).

 

Let’s start with my fear of falling. I don’t mean, just slipping on a banana peel falling.  But rather, falling out of or off of something and plummeting to my death (or a LOT of pain).

 

Kinda like this:         shutterstock_16785946

 

Or say a roller coaster. Hence the reason why I only ride the ones that have those shoulder bars locking me in place. That way I feel secure in my seat and can just enjoy the thrill of the twists and turns and going upside down. Confident I won’t FALL OUT.

 

Or, I once got stuck at the top of a ladder while painting our cathedral-ceiling-height walls in our foyer. I was doing well, almost done, then I made the mistake of looking down when one of my daughters called me. Whether it actually did or not, I had the sensation that the ladder pulled away from the wall, followed quickly by the vision of me teetering backwards to free fall down until I hit the tile floor with a splat!

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My panic attack was more like an insane-like giggle attack paired with a flood of tears streaming down my face, while my fingers death gripped the ladder and my entire body froze. Picture a family member having to climb up the ladder to help me slowly, step-by-step manage to climb down, my daughters looking up at me wondering what the heck was wrong with me.

 

Not one of my finer moments.

 

Now, my fear of being stuck in a small space manifested itself in the middle of an MRI a doc once ordered when I was experiencing back pain. As a mom with three young daughters all under the age of 6, I actually looked forward to the test thinking: Cool, I’ll get a 45-minute nap and get out of here feeling refreshed and energized.

 

Cue my request for classical music when the technician asked what I’d like them to play on the machine’s inner speakers. Nice calming music to put me to sleep. But with my imagination, it soon morphed into more like funeral music.

 

Five minutes into the test, I opened my eyes and was shocked at how close to my face the machine’s inner wall looked and felt. My first thought: OH MY GOSH, it’s like I’m lying in a casket.

 

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Cue my nervousness. Followed a few minutes later by the technician’s voice echoing through the machine’s speakers saying: Ma’am, are doing okay? Your heart rate has really picked up.

 

My response: Uh, could you put on a country music or Top 40 Hits station, please?

 

Flash forward a few years later and I’m chaperoning an elementary school field trip to a science museum that features underground tunnels guests can run through with exits a various places throughout the building. A little mole rat sounding, but still kinda cool, right?

 

Uh, not so much.

 

Especially when you climb down the aging cement steps with a child who’s asked you to walk  through them with her. Only, you get to the bottom and all you see are small, dark tunnels going off in various directions with no end in sight, while childish screeches of delight (or fear) bounce off the cement walls that are BOUND to close in on you at ANY MOMENT!!!

 

Cue this reaction from me:    504160924_cramped_in_a_box_answer_3_xlarge

 

This panic attack was more of a hyperventilation, a racing heart, instantly clammy palms… and a chaperone who excuses herself for a trip to the ladie’s room, promising to be waiting for the child at one of the exits.

 

So what does all this mean for me?

 

Well, it means you won’t catch me doing this

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OR THIS pne-playland-wooden-roller-coast-1024x576

 

Unless I was coerced and then that smile you see on her face would be more like ABJECT fear on mine.

 

But I’m a romance writer who likes to have happy endings. So before we go on to sharing your phobias—because I hope you will, or any tips for overcoming phobias if you have any good ones—I’ll share two positive thoughts for you.

 

  1.  Here’s the type of falling I’m all about:

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and

  1. My fellow Firebird sister has an AMAZING book out this month about a hero and heroine who can’t help but FALL IN LOVE with each other.

Check out Tamra Baumann’s It Had to Be Love available online now!! 

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Tara Carter isn’t looking for romance. She’s content seeing patients at her new practice by day, then going home and cuddling with her puppy at night. Her new life in the tiny town of Anderson Butte, Colorado—known by celebrities as the place to lie low—is the perfect respite for a woman with a whopper of a secret. There’s just one problem: the town’s sexy sheriff knows she’s hiding something.

Sheriff Ryan Anderson, weary of small-town drama, has sworn off dating locals and thinks a fresh start in a bigger city is in order. However, the more he gets to know Tara, the more his heart tells him that she could be the woman of his dreams. But he wants to get to the bottom of whatever she’s trying so hard to keep under wraps. Can he uncover her secret before it drives them apart forever?

 

 

 

And after you commented here, hop on over to the other Firebirds who are sharing their phobias this month.

Carol Post, Tamra Baumann, Wendy LaCapra, and Kay Hudson

 

Hope to see you here next month for another Writer Wednesdays group blog. We’ll be chatting about our favorite character name on October 14th!

 

PS I’ve been having a ton of spam lately so I had to switch to moderated comments only. I’ll be checking regularly so you’re post will be approved fairly quickly. My apologies for the change. :-(

Research Smorgasbord

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Today’s Writer Wednesday blog topic is a fun one—share three interesting items you found while researching on the internet recently.

 

Seeing as how I’ve been deep in revision mode lately, my Googling has been more for fun, or in the midst of a conversation with someone and we don’t know the answer to a question. So what you’ll see is that my three searches have nothing in common, and only one has to do with writing.

 

  1. My last day in New York City before heading home from the RWA National conference I was lucky enough to spend the day enjoying the city with one of my daughters. We went on a run through Central Park, enjoyed a delicious lunch at Carmine’s, enjoyed a FABULOUS Broadway show, shared a tasty dessert at Sardi’s, and then headed off to the airport/train station.

 

I tell you this to preface my guilty pleasure, motivational music Google search for YouTube videos featuring music or performances of Something Rotten—the AHHHmazing musical we had the great fortune to see.
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This musical has everything to entice everyone from the theatre lover to the theatre novice. Catchy tunes, hilarious writing, incredible performers, beautiful costumes and more!

I can’t get enough of this album!!!

 

  1. My day job is a sedentary one, so I have to make sure I get up and walk around our office building to get moving. Some days I’m better at remembering than others. Then I get home after work and jump on my lap top to work on my writing.

 

Sitting all day and a good part of the evening makes for a back that tweaks with pain and a bottom that wants to get bigger. Not a nice combination.

 

So, I started looking into a standing desk. Something that travels easily so I can bring it to my day job office, then take it home at night—at least for the weekends. This meant, Googling “travel standing desk” to see what I might find.

Voila! I came across this site with several options I’m considering:

desk-portable

desk-affordable

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  1. And finally, I didn’t find this last site because I was doing research, but more because it’s less than 5 weeks from opening day of college football, when my beloved Gators take the field. I couldn’t resist checking out the latest news on my Gator football team, anticipating tailgate season and all the fun that entails.

 

In case you’re interested too, here’s the link to Gatorzone where you’ll find the latest info about all University of Florida athletic teams.

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As you can see, my tastes and interests are varied, it really depends on my mood and what’s going on in my life at that moment. Hence, the variety of topics I’ve Googled in recent days.

 

What about you? Care to share something interesting you’ve researched lately, or came across by accident while surfing the web?

 

And don’t forget my fellow Firebird sisters who are blogging about their interesting research topics. Check out their posts and who knows, maybe you’ll discover a topic or a site you’ll want to dive into yourself.

 

 

Historical romance writers – Wendy LaCapra | Sweet and Inspirational writers – Kristen Ethridge | Novels with Romantic Elements – Jean WillettNatalie Meg Evans | Romantic Suspense – Carol Post – Sharon Wray | Paranormal writers – Kay HudsonPamela Kopfler | Contemporary romance writers – Kat CantrellPriscilla Kissinger


Finally, if you’re looking for an interesting read, check out these books by fellow Firebirds. You won’t be disappointed!

The Millner’s Secret and The Dress Thief, by Natalie Meg Evans available here and here!

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The Doctor’s Unexpected Family by Kristen Ethridge, an Inspirational Romance available here!

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We’ll see you back here next month, for another Writer Wednesdays post!

 

A Kensington Books Author & Multiple Golden Heart® Awards Finalist

Represented by Rebecca Strauss DeFiore & Company

rebecca@defliterary.com

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