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 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 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.)

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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 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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Winter Blog Hop, Day 9 – Jennifer Shirk and Fruitcake

meHappy 9th Day of the Winter Blog Hop, everyone! Today’s guest is my friend Jennifer Shirk.  Jennifer has a Bachelor’s degree in pharmacy-which has in NO WAY at all helped her with her writing career. But she likes to point it out, since it shows romantic-at-hearts come in all shapes, sizes, and mind-numbing educations.

She writes sweet (and sometimes even funny) romances for Avalon Books/Montlake Romance and now Entangled Publishing. Her novel Sunny Days for Sam won the 2013 Golden Quill Published Authors Contest for Best Traditional Romance and recently, her novel Wedding Date for Hire was a 2016 Golden Leaf finalist for best short contemporary romance.

Lately she’s been on a serious exercise kick. But don’t hold that against her. You can read more about her and her books, and subscribe to her newsletter on her website. Jennifer’s latest release from Entangled Publishing is Wrong Brother, Right Match, a sweet, contemporary romance.

wbrm_500Matchmaking guru Kennedy Pepperdine’s life is perfect. Perfect job. Perfect friends. Perfect boyfriend. Except…when she gets trapped in an elevator with a handsome stranger, she accidentally confesses a secret: maybe her perfect boyfriend, Justin, isn’t so perfect for her after all. But a matchmaker should be able to successfully match herself, right? Thankfully, she’ll never see the handsome stranger again. Until she heads home with Justin for the holidays and learns that the sexy stranger is none other than Justin’s older brother, Matt.

Matt Ellis is trying to be on his best behavior for his mother—it is Christmas, after all. But when he recognizes the beautiful woman from the elevator—the one he hasn’t been able to stop thinking about for months—his best behavior is being held by a thread. Matt’s always sacrificed for his family, and nothing is more important than their happiness, but the more time he spends around Kennedy, the more he wonders if her supposed “right match” might just be the wrong brother.

You can find an excerpt here, as well as buy links.  img_1763

And now, hop over to her blog where she’s discussing fruitcakes–the edible kind. (I confess to not realizing any of them were edible. 🙂 I am, it’s safe to say, not a fan of fruitcake–sorry, Jen!)

She’s also giving away this fun ornament to a random commenter, a perfect gift for your favorite book lover!

Winter Blog Hop, Day 6 – Landra Graf & a Giveaway

landraToday’s post comes to you from author Landra Graf, one of my talented critique partners at Passionate Critters.

Comment below on your favorite Christmas tradition for a chance to win a $10 Amazon gift card and an ebook from Landra!

Christmas Traditions

Christmas is one of those things as a child you grow up being taught and experiencing. Your parents influence the way you celebrate the holidays, from the decorations to the food you eat. Growing up there were many traditions I experienced, but the top three traditions all start with the letter ‘F’: Family, Food, and Football.

The first is Family. I’ve never spent a Christmas by myself (note – I hate the word never). This is a truth I’m thankful for. Having family around during the holidays, for me, is one of my favorite things. The shared memories, singing carols, watching movies, playing games, and cooking experiences are better when done with loved ones. Passing those traditions on, from the baking of the Tollhouse recipe chocolate chip cookies to watching Mickey Mouse Christmas Carol, to my children are just as fulfilling.

gingerbread-1518469_1920Then there’s the food. OMG- I can’t begin to discuss all the food. As a child, my father’s favorite thing was to make baked potato soup; not to mention the goose and the pies. Then there’d be the meat and cheese platters, the veggies and ranch dip. One endless party involving lots of dairy products. I’ve continued with some of those traditions and adding others including my antipasto/snacking Christmas Eve dinner.

Finally, Football. As the oldest of four children, my father’s firstborn, he raised me as if I was a boy. I don’t consider this a bad thing. I learned about all sports, but the one my father loved the most was football. I’m willing to watch any game. My heart is with the Nebraska Cornhuskers. When you’re born in Nebraska, it’s hard not to be a Husker fan. Pro football, I love the Kansas City Chiefs. In fact, as I type this the game is on. For me, there is nothing like watching a football game by the light of the Christmas tree.

Today I’m giving away a $10 Amazon Gift Card and one copy of a book from my backlist. All you have to do for a chance to win is tell me your favorite holiday tradition. Does it begin with an F, like mine?

About Landra:

Landra Graf consumes at least one book a day and has always been a sucker for stories where true love conquers all. She believes in the power of the written word, and the joy such words can bring. In between spending time with her family and having book adventures, she writes romance (multiple genres) with the goal of giving everyone, fictional or not, their own happily ever after.

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Her latest release, Desperately Seeking Submissive, features four stories about couples who find love and release; erotic romance with a BDSM core.

You can find Landra here: Website ~ Twitter ~ Facebook ~ Pinterest ~ Amazon ~ Goodreads ~ Silken Sheets & Seduction ~ Through Heart-Shaped Glasses

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