Winter Blog Hop – Merry Christmas!!

Wow–this Christmas season has been a bit of a whirlwind. Over the last 24 days of the Winter Blog Hop, we’ve seen new books and Christmas traditions, cat-butt coasters and ornaments, cookies and mince pies, buxom snow-women and silver bells. It’s been a blast and I thank all of my guests and my readers for joining me.

I’ll be taking the next week or two off of blogging but will (I hope) be rested and ready to start a fabulous 2017 full of new words and new challenges.

Wishing you and yours a wonderful holiday season full of love, laughter, food, and family, and a healthy, happy New Year.

 

Winter Blog Hop, Day 24 – Danielle Haas

Can you believe the Hop is almost over? It’s Christmas Eve! My son is spending hours every day just lying under the tree, staring at his presents. Most un-teenage-like behavior.

Today’s guest is Danielle Haas, a new friend from NEORWA. On her blog she’s sharing her thoughts on Christmas, so hop on over to share your own.
Best wishes to all of you for a lovely Christmas eve.

Winter Blog Hop, Day 23 – Clair Brett on Making Me Time

Hello all! Today’s guest is historical romance author Clair Brett. Clair’s debut novel, Dealing with the Viscount, releases January 31. Congratulations, Clair!

Clair is offering a few sage words on making some time for yourself and those you love during this crazy season:

Happy Holidays to you and yours! We are right in the thick of it aren’t we? I don’t know about you, but November and December are crazy busy. It seems like there is something every weekend and many nights. Not only does my family have to juggle the normal Christmas shopping, parties, and school events, but my husband and I are part of a non-profit that plans community-wide holiday events. Then there are the basketball games, work-related parties, and church responsibilities as well.

Don’t get me wrong, I am a worker bee and am very happy to volunteer to make things happen, but somewhere between cups of egg nog and event planning I get pooped. By the time Christmas comes I am ready to have my house back and my routine. I wish it wasn’t like this, and I can remember when it wasn’t. So, what do I try to do to put some me into the schedule?

  • Set aside time for ME! I try to make sure I keep getting my daily exercise; whether it is hitting the gym in the morning, or planning a walk with my friends I try to keep that as a priority. Along with that, I am going to add eating healthy and drinking lots of water. We all know when the cookie walk takes place you won’t pass up your favorite spice cookie, but making sure you are getting enough greens and protein can help.
  • Nothing is EVER perfect! Unless you are neighbors with Martha Stewart don’t sweat it. My Hardworking Husband has a yearly battle with a woman across the river from us for Christmas lights. It is all in good fun and he hasn’t drained the power grid yet, but when it starts being more stressful than fun, stop. (I will also admit to saying the “p” word when trying to fulfill my Christmas duties, but I try to keep it out of my vocabulary.) If you tried something then consider it a success if you enjoyed yourself and it made someone else happy. That is as close to perfect as you need to get.
  • Keep at least one or two nights each week of the crazy to yourself. Decide ahead of time what you have to attend and what days are open. Then choose at the very least one night each week to not plan anything! Order pizza, make popcorn, and just BE. You will thank me.
  • Make it a point to say thank you and smile when out and about. The stores seemed filled with bah humbugs during this time of year. Some are just having one of those days, others may be missing loved ones who can’t be there, others may be frustrated because of money, or the fact that their holiday isn’t going to be “perfect”, but regardless they could all use a smile and kind word. Let that person who seems in a hurry in front of you in line, or just saying have a nice day, may make a difference.
  • Last, don’t forget why we celebrate holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas. No, I’m not going religious here, but if you do have a religion that celebrates during this time of year, keep that in your heart as I do, but if you don’t follow a religious belief, these holidays are for us to think about things outside of ourselves if just for a few moments. Our busy fast paced lives seems to hinder that a bit, but it is still there. Make a meal for a neighbor, better yet invite them to your house. Buy a gift from an angel tree, or sponsor a child. Go visit at a local senior living facility, there are a million things you can do that don’t cost anything but your time. I promise you, using some of those precious days doing for others, will pay you dividends you can’t imagine.

For more from Clair, check out her website at http://www.clairbrett.com/.

Winter Blog Hop, Day 22 – Tena Stetler

Today’s guest is fellow Wild Rose author, Tena Stetler. Welcome, Tena, and congratulations on your new release!

Happy Holidays! First of all a big thank you to Marin letting me join her Winter Blog Hop. If you’re interested in Christmas traditions and elves at the North Pole, check out my blog at www.tenastetler.com/my-blog.

For those of you who don’t know me, I am a paranormal romance and cozy mystery author with an over-active imagination.  I wrote my first vampire romance at the age of thirteen, to the chagrin of my mother and the delight of my friends. Colorado is home; shared with my husband of many moons, a brilliant Chow Chow, a spoiled parrot and a forty-year-old box turtle. We love camping, hiking, kayaking and traveling.  Any winter evening, you can find me curled up in front of a crackling fire with a good book, a mug of hot chocolate and a big bowl of popcorn.  My books tell tales of magical kick-ass women and mystical alpha males that dare to love them.

This holiday season I’m celebrating my recent paranormal romance, A Witch’s Holiday Wedding, which released December 9th, 2016. It’s a sequel to A Witch’s Journey, which released in June of 2016.

A Witch’s Journey and the sequel A Witch’s Holiday Wedding are heartwarming tales of redemption, magic, wildlife rescue, true love and paying it forward.

I love to make new friends and chat with readers and authors. To learn more, visit me!

Website: http://www.tenastetler.com (You can sign up for my quarterly newsletter.)
Blog: http://www.tenastetler.com/my-blog
Facebook Page: www.facebook.com/tenastetler.author
Twitter Page: www.twitter.com/TenaStetler
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/tenastetler

Here’s a little peek into A Witch’s Holiday Wedding.

Elemental witch Pepper McKay and former Navy SEAL Lathen Quartz have built Lobster Cove Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation Center on enchanted McKay land. During a romantic interlude on Halloween night, Pepper happily agrees to become Lathen’s wife. What better day than Winter Solstice for their wedding in a town that loves celebrations and Christmas. However, planning a wedding and operating their wildlife center takes a toll on both Pepper and Lathen.

When the couple takes a much-needed break for Thanksgiving with family in Colorado, a Maine snowstorm fills the center with injured wildlife. Lathen finds himself drawn into a covert military mission, while trying to deal with issues concerning friends and family. Pepper wants to cancel the wedding. Is she having second thoughts? Will the nosy McKay ghosts, Lathen’s werewolf pack, Pepper’s parents, and her best friend help or hinder the wedding and holiday plans?

Excerpt:

Half an hour later, Lathen turned the truck onto the gravel drive to the cabin, slowed, and stared at the dark SUV parked in front of the cabin. Slowly he guided the truck behind the vehicle, noticing that the plates were government issue. What the hell is this?

Pepper leaned forward in her seat. “What’s a government SUV doing sitting in front of our home?”

“Maybe it’s the DIFW,” Lathen said hopefully. He turned off the headlights and cut the engine. The doors opened on the SUV, and four men in suits stepped out and waited.

Oh shit, this doesn’t bode well. He recognized one of the men, Lt. Commander Raymond Sale. Lathen jumped out of the truck as Pepper opened her door. “Pepper, why don’t you go on inside, let Tonk and Ember out, but keep them close. I’ll just be a minute.”

Pepper glanced from the men and back to Lathen. She opened her mouth to protest, but he shook his head and glanced toward the cabin where he could hear Tonk and Ember barking.

Available atAmazonKoboThe Wild Rose Press,  All Romance, and Barnes & Noble

 

Winter Blog Hop, Day 21 – Barbara Bettis & Giveaway

Happy Winter Solstice! It’s the shortest day of the year here in the northern hemisphere, so fire up those candles and snuggle in with a good book.

Today’s guest is fellow Wild Rose historical author Barbara Bettis, who’s probably forgotten more about the medieval period then I will ever know.

Interested in what Christmas dinner looked like in medieval times? Hop over to her blog to find out! She’s also giving away a copy of her latest release, The Lady of the Forest, and two $5 gift cards.

Merry Christmas, Barbara!

Winter Blog Hop, Day 20 – Anna Durand

Five more days to Christmas, kids, and my vacation starts tomorrow. Not that I’m excited about that or anything…

 

Today’s guest is historical romance author Anna Durand, who will be sharing some of her favorite Christmas traditions, like this awesome Christmas village she handpainted!

 

Hop on over to her blog and share your own favorites. And for more from Anna, visit her website at http://annadurand.com/.

 

 

Winter Blog Hop, Day 17 – Judy McDonough’s Cajun Christmas and a Giveaway!

Today’s hop guest is my friend Judy McDonough, a recent transplant to northeast Ohio from Texas. So far she seems to be taking our crazy winters in stride! Judy loves to talk, but I’m always happy to hear what she has to say, and I hope you will be too. 🙂  Comment below for a chance to win an ecopy of all three of Judy’s books, and be sure to get to the end of the post, where you’ll find a fun Cajun version of “The Night Before Christmas.”

mcdonough-23Hi there! I’m Judy McDonough and I’m the author of a southern paranormal romance series called The Bayou Secrets Saga: Deadline, Lifeline, and Flatline. It is a ghost mystery with romantic elements that takes place in the Louisiana bayou with visits to New Orleans. More on that in a bit. I’ve always been fascinated with the supernatural or paranormal phenomenons, mostly ghosts, and my series stems from an actual experience I had while living in a barracks which was a renovated WW2 Navy hospital. I am a U.S. Navy veteran, and I met my husband, Mike, when I was stationed in New Orleans. He was a civilian local who showed me that there was more to his city than the tourist traps around Bourbon Street, and introduced me to the magic, history, and overall essence of New Orleans. Little did I know that it would latch on to me and eventually become a passion of mine. I’ve always loved Parisian architecture, and New Orleans is full of the ornate French influences. While living there I fell in love with the Cajun accent and culture. It’s not like anything you’ve ever experienced anywhere else. I promise you.

laura-plantation-440345_1280-1If I could move back to any place in the Big Easy I wanted and money wasn’t an issue, you would find me on the balcony of a lovely historic home in the Garden District drinking my coffee and chicory while watching the Spanish moss draping from the oak trees sway in the warm breeze. I would have citrus and magnolia trees in my yard, a pool (especially after living in the cool North for a while), a wrought iron fence surrounding my property, and majestic white columns flanking my front door. Sweet tea in the fridge, crawfish étouffée or red beans and rice (if it’s a Monday) on the stove, and soft jazz emanating through the open windows of my home. Sounds nice, doesn’t it?

I’m new to NE Ohio. Actually, I’ve never lived above the Mason-Dixon line. I’m a southern girl, so all this beautiful white snow y’all have up here is a novelty for me. I love it. My husband got a new job with a great company up here, so we packed up and left Houston, Texas in March of 2015. Much to the dismay of my new friends and neighbors, after almost two years of living up here, I still love the snow. I play in it more than my boys (ages 7, 9, and 10) do. Well, more often, but not for quite as long. They’re young so the cold doesn’t bother them as much as it does me. After about thirty minutes I’ve had my fill and rush back to the fireplace to warm my numb piggies.

img_1904-1Last year I asked them to help me build a snowman, and all three of them said no because they wanted to stay inside and play video games. So, I built my snow man all by myself, only I gave her boobs, an hourglass figure, and put a wig and one of my stretchy dresses on her. I also put a toy rifle in her twiggy arms, a cherry Twizzlers for her red lips, and a cowgirl hat on her head. My eldest was mortified because our snow girl had cleavage, so I told him he should’ve helped me build it. I did eventually add a scarf to hide the cleavage since the bus passed right in front of our house and he was still technically a new kid, but he learned his lesson. 😉

So, about my participation in Marin’s awesome Christmas blog hop. Thanks, Marin, for the opportunity, by the way. The Bayou Secrets Saga consists of three books that follow the same three characters, Caroline, Trevor, and Cade, throughout the series. I will give you the inside scoop and avoid spoilers as much as possible.

Soon after accepting a marriage proposal from Trevor Callahan, her sexy boyfriend of two years, Caroline Fontenot has recurring crazy, realistic, and sometimes frightening dreams of the same young girl searching for something while running from a dangerous man. The details of each disturbing dream stick with Caroline, and, while she doesn’t believe in ghosts, she cannot deny the creepy, unusual things happening in her life. Persuasive Trevor, eager to finally have naïve and innocent Caroline in his bed, puts a rush order on the nuptials and insists she face the one unresolved issue in her life to clear any conflicts that may rise before their wedding. He wants her to confront her father who left her and her mother when Caroline was only a toddler, forgive him and develop a relationship so there won’t be any “Daddy issues” in their marriage. Not an unreasonable request except that she hates her dad for what he did to her mom, and has no desire to meet him, much less bond with him. But she is and has always been curious about him.

The story begins in Golden Meadow, Louisiana as Caroline pulls up in her estranged father, Eddie Fontenot’s driveway during a torrential downpour like she’s never seen before, wondering what in the world she’s supposed to say, how he’ll react, how she’ll react to his reaction, whether or not she can control her temper, and all the while hating Trevor for making her do this, and cursing her raging curiosity for not letting her just blow it off and tell Trevor no ring or nuptials were worth it.

She swallows her pride, pulls up her big girl britches, and follows through with the plan only to realize the house her father lives in is the very one from her dreams. There was more to this story that she ever imagined, crazy coincidences, goosebumps, initials scratched into the window of her room, and the tale of her great, great, great grandmother, Rachel Fontenot including her mysterious death. Caroline decides to stick around to do some research at the library and town hall, but she wasn’t prepared for the library worker to be a charming, incredibly handsome Cajun stud named Cade Beauregard. pic_8258

Cade, playful and sweet, captivates her attention, renders her speechless—not an easy feat–and challenges her. And, more importantly, their unmistakable chemistry has Caroline questioning everything she ever thought she wanted. But she made a promise to Trevor, and she never makes a promise she can’t keep.

The plot thickens when Caroline meets her conniving step mother, April, and things she’d only ever heard of in the movies start making their way into her life. Stranded spirits, voodoo, mafia threats, and attempts on her family’s lives are her new normal.

Cade does his best to convince Caroline he’s better than Trevor, but the savvy Chicago architect doesn’t bend to intimidation, nor does he appreciate some meddling redneck trying to steal his woman. He fights back and things get tense.

I won’t risk spoilers by revealing any more details, but you get the idea, and the story only gets better and deeper with each book.

Thank you for joining me today! I am randomly picking commenters for two giveaway prizes related to my Bayou Secrets Saga. Up for grabs is:

judymcdonough_bayousecretssaga3dboxset_hr1) A digital copy of the boxed set of all three full-length novels.

2) A candle tin that smells like Cade. It’s an outdoorsy blend of juniper, cedar, balsam and musk. This fragrance is the essence of a sexy, outdoorsy man, and Cade’s character fits that description. He’s also mysterious and the guy who’s always there when you need him. If you love the scent of the woods and a touch of musk, you will love this candle.

For Christmas fun, I’d like to share with you the Cajun version of The Night Before Christmas by Written by: Trosclair.

Twas the night before Christmas an’ all t’ru de house,
Dey don’t a ting pass Not even a mouse.
De chirren been nezzle good snug on de flo’,
An’ Mama pass de pepper t’ru de crack on de do’. 

De Mama in de fireplace done roas’ up de ham,
Sit up de gumbo an’ make de bake yam.
Den out on de by-you dey got such a clatter,
Make soun’ like old Boudreau done fall off his ladder. 

I run like a rabbit to got to de do’,
Trip over de dorg an’ fall on de flo’.
As I look out de do’in de light o’ de moon,
I t’ink, “Mahn, you crazy or got ol’ too soon.” 

Cux dere on de by-you w’en I stretch ma’neck stiff,
Dere’s eight alligator a pullin’ de skiff.
An’ a little fat drover wit’ a long pole-ing stick,
I know r’at away got to be ole St.Nick. 

Mo’ fas’er an’ fas’er de’ gator dey came
He whistle an’ holler an’ call dem by name:
“Ha, Gaston! Ha, Tiboy! Ha, Pierre an’ Alcee’!
Gee, Ninette! Gee, Suzette! Celeste an’Renee’! 

home-1080272_1280To de top o’ de porch to de top o’ de wall,
Make crawl, alligator, an’ be sho’ you don’ fall.”
Like Tante Flo’s cat t’ru de treetop he fly,
W’en de big ole houn’ dorg come a run hisse’s by.

Like dat up de porch dem ole ‘gator clim!
Wit’ de skiff full o’ toy an’ St. Nicklus behin’.
Den on top de porch roof it soun’ like de hail,
W’en all dem big gator, done sot down dey tail.

Den down de chimney I yell wit’ a bam,
An’ St.Nicklus fall an’ sit on de yam.
“Sacre!” he axclaim, “Ma pant got a hole
I done sot ma’se’f on dem red hot coal.”

He got on his foots an’ jump like de cat
Out to de flo’ where he lan’ wit’ a SPLAT!
He was dress in musk-rat from his head to his foot,
An’ his clothes is all dirty wit’ ashes an’ soot.

A sack full o’ playt’ing he t’row on his back,
He look like a burglar an’ dass fo’ a fack.
His eyes how dey shine his dimple, how merry!
Maybe he been drink de wine from de blackberry.

His cheek was like a rose his nose a cherry,
On secon’ t’ought maybe he lap up de sherry.
Wit’ snow-white chin whisker an’ quiverin’ belly,
He shook w’en he laugh like de stromberry jelly!

But a wink in his eye an’ a shook o’ his head,
Make my confi-dence dat I don’t got to be scared.
He don’ do no talkin’ gone strit to hi work,
Put a playt’ing in sock an’ den turn wit’ a jerk.

 He put bot’ his han’ dere on top o’ his head,
Cas’ an eye on de chimney an’ den he done said:
“Wit’ all o’ dat fire an’ dem burnin’ hot flame,
Me I ain’ goin’ back by de way dat I came.”

 So he run out de do’ an, he clim’ to de roof,
He ain’ no fool, him for to make one more goof.
He jump in his skiff an’ crack his big whip,
De’ gator move down, An don’ make one slip.

 An’ I hear him shout loud as a splashin’ he go,
“Merry Christmas to all ’til I saw you some mo’!”

For more fun with Judy, check out her website (www.Judy-McDonough.com) or find her on Facebook or Twitter.

Winter Blog Hop , Day 15 – Making Mince Pies with Nina Croft

Portrait of writer Nicola Cleasby

Can you believe it’s Day 15 already? Today’s guest is my friend and critique partner, Nina Croft. Nina lives in Spain, but I think I made her a little nostalgic for England recently when I told her about my visit to her hometown in northern England. She’s sharing a post about English Christmas traditions, and a recipe for one of her favorites. Comment below on your favorite Christmas food for a chance to win a copy of Nina’s latest release, Flying Through Fire.

What’s in a Mince Pie?

I’m English, and although I tend to write aimed at the American market, my characters are usually English and my stories tend to be set in England. But the story I’m currently writing is set in Washington, D.C. and I’ve been inundating my crit partners with questions about all things American.

I’ve already had to become aware of the differences between American English and what we speak back home. It’s not just spelling, like realised and realized, but also actual words. We have lifts, Americans have elevators, we have pavements they have sidewalks. Jumpers are sweaters, cafes are diners, and boots are trunks.

And it goes deeper, to the food we eat and the way we celebrate certain festivals. So it’s no surprise to discover that there are also big differences between English and American Christmas traditions.

Which takes me to mince pies.

christmas-food-577876_1920Mince pies are a huge Christmas tradition in England. But after a bit of research I find that—it’s true—Americans do not eat mince pies at Christmas. In fact, it seems many Americans don’t even know what a mince pie is.

When I was growing up, we would always leave a mince pie and a glass of sherry out for Father Christmas on Christmas Eve (and don’t forget the carrot for the reindeer), as a thank you for delivering the presents.

Another custom is that if you eat a mince pie every day from Christmas to Twelfth Night you will have happiness for the next twelve months. The perfect excuse for indulging.

If you’d like to try and make your own mincemeat, here’s a simple recipe:
250g raisins
375g currants
100ml brandy
zest of 1 lemon, juice of ½
300g shredded suet* 
250g dark brown sugar
85g chopped mixed peel
½ small nutmeg, grated
1 large Bramley* apple, peeled and grated 

Soak the raisins and currants in the brandy and lemon juice for 1 hour, then drain and set the brandy aside. Mix all the ingredients together, then pour in the brandy when everything else is well mixed. Spoon and press into sterilised jars, to exclude any air. Cover and leave for at least a fortnight. Then make your pies!

(*An aside from Marin: just to illustrate the UK-US differences Nina mentioned, it’s hard to find food grade suet in the US–it’s not the same as the suet we use in bird feeders! Use lard, shortening, or butter if you can’t find it. I don’t think we have Bramley apples in the US–at least, I’ve never seen one. Granny Smiths would be a good substitute. And if you’re looking for a recipe for the pie pastry, try this one from the BBC.)

flyingthroughfire_v3-500

 

Leave a comment and let me know your favorite Christmas food from your part of the world and get a chance to win a free ecopy of my latest release, Flying Through Fire.   

Thanks, Nina! My mouth is watering now. 🙂 To find out more about Nina or to subscribe to her great newsletter, visit her website at www.ninacroft.com/.

Winter Blog Hop, Day 13 – Julie Jarnagin

author-photo-resized2It’s Day 13!

Today’s guest is USA Today bestselling author of sweet and inspirational romance, Julie Jarnagin. Are you looking for gift ideas for the readers in your life? Julie’s found some fun, unique items for any book lover! Hop over to her website to read all about them.

Free Kindle Cover Template. RomanceHere’s Julie’s latest release, Engaged by Friday:

Can a fake engagement lead to lasting love?

After her boyfriend dumps her instead of proposing, Mary Beth wants nothing to do with her ten-year high school reunion. Especially because if she shows up without a date, she’ll lose a bet with her high school nemesis.

Christian is too busy with his camping equipment startup to date—until his sister sets him up online. The chance connection could help his business—if he agrees to Mary Beth’s dramatic request that he pretend to be her fiancé. But when make-believe becomes something more, they must decide if this new love can last…

You can find Engaged by Friday at AmazonB&N, Kobo, and iBooks

Winter Blog Hop, Day 11 – Singing Silver Bells with Judy Ann Davis

Welcome to Day 11–only two weeks to Christmas! Today’s guest is fellow Wild Rose author Judy Ann Davis.  Did you ever wonder how the classic holiday song Silver Bells was created? Visit Judy’s blog and learn the history of this timeless carol.

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