Wednesday, December 30, 2015

2015--Year in Review

Thank you to all my amazing readers for making 2015 another wonderful year. The year started out  with the release of Heart of the Serpent, the first of three Hades' Carnival novellas, and ended with the release of Wolf from the Past, from the Salvation Pack series. In total, I had five ebooks and five print books released in 2015.

2015 eBooks:

January 2015--Heart of the Serpent
April 2015--Flame of the Phoenix
July 2015--Lure of the Jaguar
September 2015--Rescue Me (Into the Flames Boxed Set)
October 2015--Wolf from the Past


2015 Print Books:

January 2015--Craig's Heart
April 2015--Wolf at the Door
July 2015--Wolf in her Bed
August 2015--Wolf on the Run
October 2015--Wolf from the Past



I'm looking forward to 2016. I'm calling it the Year of the Wolf. I'll have four new Salvation Pack books releasing in both ebook and print next year, starting with Wolf on the Hunt on January 12th.

2016 Releases:

January 12--Wolf on the Hunt
April 5--Wolf on a Mission
July --Wolf in his Heart
October--Wolf in her Soul

Also, look for the print release of all three Hades' Carnival novellas (Heart of the Serpent, Flame of the Phoenix and Lure of the Jaguar) in one print volume. Hades' Return will be out on February 9th!


I may have more release news early in the New Year. As always, you can like my Facebook Author Page or watch my website and blog for updates.

Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Laurie Roma's December Symposium: Somewhere Over the Rainbow

As 2015 ends, we have so much to reflect back on. There have been good times, bad times, lessons learned and new goals planned. For this month's Symposium, Laurie Roma asked her friends and fellow authors to share a little of what they have in store for 2016.

Click the link below to find out what we all had to say!




LAURIE ROMA'S DECEMBER SYMPOSIUM: SOMEWHERE OVER THE RAINBOW!

Starting in 2016, Laurie Roma will only be hosting a Symposium once or twice a year instead of each month. I know I'll miss it every month. I want to thank Laurie for asking me to be a part of this amazing event every month. I've had a blast doing it.


Friday, December 25, 2015

Thursday, December 24, 2015

"Twas the Night Before Christmas

Happy December 24th!
 
A Visit from St. Nicholas
by Clement Clarke Moore
 
'Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;
 
The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads;
And mamma in her 'kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled down for a long winter's nap,

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.
The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow
Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below,
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer,
 
With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name;
 
"Now, Dasher! Now, Dancer! Now, Prancer and Vixen!
On, Comet! On Cupid! On, Donder and Blitzen!
To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
Now dash away! dash away! dash away all!"
 
As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky,
So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,
With the sleigh full of toys, and St. Nicholas too.
 
And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
As I drew in my hand, and was turning around,
Down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound.
 
He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot;
A bundle of toys he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a peddler just opening his pack.
 
His eyes -- how they twinkled! his dimples how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow;
 
The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath;
He had a broad face and a little round belly,
That shook, when he laughed like a bowlful of jelly.
 
He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself;
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread;
 
He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And filled all the stockings; then turned with a jerk,
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose;
 
He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight,
"Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night."
 

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Happy Solstice! Blessed Yule! Welcome Winter!

Today is the Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year. From here on, the days get longer. Take some time today to stop and simply be. There is so much rushing around during the holiday season that we sometimes don't stop and breathe.




Happy Solstice! Blessed Yule! Welcome Winter!

Monday, December 21, 2015

Lunaland Books reviews Wolf on the Hunt

LUNALAND BOOKS has reviewed Wolf on the Hunt. (It's up for pre-order on Amazon and will be released on January 12th.)



"N.J. Waters writing is fantastic as usual and Wolf on the hunt is really a wonderful book that I just could not put down from beginning to end."
~Alice Laybourne, Lunaland Books


READ ENTIRE REVIEW

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Over at the Coffee Thoughts Blog

I'm over at the COFFEE THOUGHTS BLOG sharing an excerpt from Wolf from the Past, my latest release from Samhain Publishing. Be sure to stop by and check it out.



Saturday, December 19, 2015

Holiday movies and TV Shows

Throughout the entire month of December, I watch as many of my favorite and classic holiday movies as I can. The movies and TV shows I enjoy tend to be the ones that say something positive about life or humanity. At Christmas time, I just like to feel good.

Here's my Top Ten List:


10. Little Women (The Winona Ryder version.) "I'm so desolated."


9. Scrooged (Bill Murray) "It's the one night of the year when we all act a little nicer."


8. A Christmas Carol (Alistair Sim) "Humbug!"


7. How The Grinch Stole Christmas (The animated version. A mean one, but a great one.) "You can't stop Christmas from coming!"


6. A Charlie Brown Christmas (I never get tired of watching the dust rise off of Pigpen when he sings or seeing that little, scrawny tree grow into a veritable forest.) "Can somebody please tell me the true meaning of Christmas?" "Sure, Charlie Brown."


5. It's A Wonderful Life (This one makes me cry, especially at the end.) "To my big brother George, the richest man in town!"


4. A Muppet Family Christmas (Swedish Chef meets the Bird of his dreams!) "Be careful of the icy patch!"


3. A Muppet Christmas Carol (Gonzo the Great plays Mist-uh Dickens himself) "Darkness was cheap, and Scrooge liked it."


2. National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation (Not mean, just nutty.) "That tree will never go in our yard, Dad." "It's not going in our yard, Russ. It's going in our living room."


1. Scrooge (The Albert Finney version). "You wish to remain anonymous, sir?" "I wish to be left alone!"


A newer favorite is the movie Arthur Christmas. And, of course, I have to watch Frosty the Snowman. What are some of your favorite holiday television shows and movies?

Friday, December 18, 2015

Over at Redz World Reviews



I'm over at REDZ WORLD REVIEWS today talking about what I'm thankful for. Comment for a chance to win a download from my backlist.

Into the Flames only 99-cents for limited time

The INTO THE FLAMES is available again for the low price of $0.99, but it's for a limited time so buy now.

If you love romance stories about brave, heroic firefighters, you won't be able to resist this anthology with stories by Nina Pierce, Desiree Holt, Cindy Spencer Pape, Liz Crowe, Adele Downs, Sam Cheever and me, N.J. Walters.

  

 

Firefighters. The word ignites bold images of heroes in dust covered helmets and ash stained turnouts who defy the odds and press on in the presence of danger.

Men of Valor. A dedicated brotherhood of first responders whose honor, strength, and courage overcome obstacles to save lives.

Into The Flames. Seven NYT, USA Today, bestselling and award-winning authors offer romantic suspense, contemporary, historical, and paranormal tales of tough, iconic heroes who risk it all for their communities—but at the end of the day, seek the tender embrace of the women they love.
JOIN US ON THE ADVENTURE…
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Rescue Me by NYT and USA Today Bestselling Author N.J. Walters
When firefighter Frank Ellis rescues an old flame from a burning building, sparks ignite. He’ll do anything to protect her, even if it means she discovers he’s a mythical phoenix.

Flashpoint by Award-Winning Author Desiree Holt
...When everything explodes

Where There's Smoke by Award-Winning Author Cindy Spencer Pape
Firefighting in the 1920's is dangerous business, but so is falling in love.

FireBrew by Amazon Bestselling Author Liz Crowe
Fate throws them together. But the horrific memory of a fiery disaster could tear them apart. 

Hook Me Up by Bestselling and Award-Winning Author Adele Downs
Firemen don't free cats from trees anymore—until a pretty schoolteacher gets trapped on a limb with her kitten and the county's hottest firefighter comes to their rescue.

Slow Burner by USA Today Bestselling Author Sam Cheever
A love that burns slowly burns longest, creating the greatest heat.

Uncontrolled Burn: A RISEN Team Novel by USA Today Bestselling Author Nina Pierce
A woman forced to live a life she didn’t choose. A vampire bound by honor to protect humans. A deadly game of revenge that threatens both their lives …



 


About The Authors:

N.J. Walters is a New York Times and USA Today Bestselling author who’s always been a voracious reader, and now she spends her days writing novels of her own. Vampires, werewolves, dragons, time-travelers, seductive handymen, and next-door neighbors with smoldering good looks—all vie for her attention. It’s a tough life, but someone’s got to live it.

Desiree Holt is an award-winning author known the world over as The Oldest Living Erotic Romance Author. She has won an EPIC E-Book Award, the Holt Medallion and many other awards. She has been featured on CBS Sunday Morning and in The Village Voice, The Daily Beast, USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, The London Daily Mail and numerous other national and international publications.

Cindy Spencer Pape is an award-winning author of 19 novels and more than 40 shorter works. She lives in southeast Michigan. When not hard at work writing she can be found dressing up for steampunk parties and Renaissance fairs, or with her nose buried in a book.

Liz Crowe is an Amazon best-selling author of 27 books, mom of three, Realtor, beer blogger, brewery marketing expert, and sports fan. She is a Kentucky native and graduate of the University of Louisville currently living in Ann Arbor. She has decades of experience in sales and fund raising, plus an eight-year stint as a three-continent, ex-pat trailing spouse. Her early forays into the publishing world led to a groundbreaking fiction hybrid, “Unconventional Romance. Worth the Risk,” which has gained thousands of fans and followers interested less in the “HEA” and more in the “WHA” (“What Happens After?”).

Adele Downs is the best-selling, award-winning author of more than 20 romance titles, including those written under another pen name, and is a former journalist with hundreds of articles to her credit. When not writing in her home office in rural Pennsylvania, she can be found reading a book on the nearest beach or riding in her convertible.

Sam Cheever is a USA Today Bestselling author who writes romantic paranormal/fantasy and mystery/suspense, creating stories that celebrate the joy of love in all its forms. Known for writing great characters, snappy dialogue, and unique and exhilarating stories, Sam is the award-winning author of 50+ books and has been writing for over a decade under several noms de plume.

Nina Pierce is a USA Today Bestselling author who spends her days at the keyboard writing stories of fated loves and soul mates, blissfully creating chaos for her characters by throwing in a villain or two, a little murder and a whole lot of mayhem as they struggle toward their happy-ever-afters. When she’s not writing, Nina enjoys spending time with her soul mate of nearly 40 years, their three adult children, one love-sick son-in-law and two precious grandsons.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Interview at Author Classifieds

Check out my interview over at
 AUTHOR CLASSIFIEDS!

I'm talking about Rescue Me, my novella in the Into the Flames boxed set.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Samhain Publishing eBook Sale!


Samhain Publishing has their eBooks 40% off for a limited time.
 
 
A great time to buy any of my books that you're missing or have been wanting to try.
 

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Rocking Around the Anthology Tree Party--December 16th

Please join N.J. Walters, Nina Pierce, Sam Cheevers, Cindy Spencer Pape, Desiree Holt, Adele Downs and Liz Crowe at the Facebook 
ROCKING AROUND THE ANTHOLOGY TREE PARTY on DECEMBER 16TH!



We'll be talking about out books in the Into the Flames Anthology and spreading some holiday cheer.

Dec. 16th - Into the Flames Anthology

This is the schedule of when we'll be there. All times are EST.

 2 - 3pm Nina Pierce
3 - 4pm Sam Cheever
4 - 5pm Desiree Holt
5 - 6pm Cindy Spencer Pape
6 - 7pm N.J. Walters
7 - 8pm Adele Downs
8 - 9pm Liz Crowe

Friday, December 11, 2015

Weekend Book Club--Blood Kiss by J.R. Ward

I love the Black Dagger Brotherhood series by J.R. Ward. Now she's started a spinoff series--Black Dagger Legacy. It's basically the next generation. We still see the brotherhood and their mates, but the main story focuses on new recruits at the training center. I'm glad she's back with a more traditional romance in BLOOD KISS.



BLURB:


Paradise, blooded daughter of the king’s First Advisor, is ready to break free from the restrictive life of an aristocratic female. Her strategy? Join the Black Dagger Brotherhood’s training center program and learn to fight for herself, think for herself...be herself. It’s a good plan, until everything goes wrong. The schooling is unfathomably difficult, the other recruits feel more like enemies than allies, and it’s very clear that the Brother in charge, Butch O’Neal, a.k.a. the Dhestroyer, is having serious problems in his own life.

And that’s before she falls in love with a fellow classmate. Craeg, a common civilian, is nothing her father would ever want for her, but everything she could ask for in a male. As an act of violence threatens to tear apart the entire program, and the erotic pull between them grows irresistible, Paradise is tested in ways she never anticipated--and left wondering whether she’s strong enough to claim her own power...on the field, and off.

Saturday, December 05, 2015

Kate Hill--Writing Mishaps



Writing Mishaps - Those Palm to Forehead Moments
 

I love writing, but when you're working on a story, mishaps and mistakes are inevitable. From misspellings to technology issues, problems occur that can be both annoying and funny.

 
Today I want to share some of my favorite slips that I've made and scrapes I've gotten into while working on books.
 

1. Typos - The typo is probably the most common error in writing. It's safe to say everyone makes a typo once in a while. I make them A LOT. I have a typo checklist for my most common ones, just be sure a sentence like this doesn't slip through:

 
Discussing his public hair isn't appropriate in a pubic forum.

 
2. Technology - Yes, I'm old enough to say that I used to write everything longhand and then type it using a vintage typewriter (the kind that required a hammer to make the keys move). I love how the tools of the trade have advanced and make completing a story faster and easier. Still, technology isn't without its problems, in particular when human error is involved. I remember being far behind on a deadline. After working on the story for thirteen hours in one day, I accidentally hit the "no" button when it came time to save my file. I'm not much for crying, but at that moment I was close to tears. Luckily I had emailed a copy to myself earlier in the day, so I had at least some of the chapters I had written, but I still lost hours of work.


3. Obsession - When I'm working on a story, I tend to get obsessed. I think about it all the time and I feel like the characters are always with me. That should be a good thing, right? It is until you go to the day job and call your boss by the name of your latest hero.
 

When writing my recent release, Blow by Blow, I didn't have any technology issues and my obsession with the story luckily didn't cause any embarrassing situations. As usual I had my share of typos and after this particular book I became Queen of the Comma Splice. Yes, editors are guardian angels.

 
I hope you enjoy the following excerpt from Blow by Blow.

 
Thank you for having me as a guest today, NJ!

Kate



 
 
Blow by Blow

by Kate Hill

M/M Erotic Romance

Release Date: 11/24/2015

 

Blurb:  

A hunky former heavyweight champ and an ass-kicking beauty fight for their lives and their love in a futuristic world of MMA.
 

Theo "Little Raven" Fisker, is a bantamweight with attitude who plans to make a name for himself in the Radical Warrior Tournament, a prestigious mixed martial arts event. The problem is no team will sign a male fighter who walks out in silver and pink with nail polish to match, until he meets Master Jesse.

 
Impressed by Theo's talent, Jesse welcomes him onto his up and coming team. Fists and sparks fly when Theo meets gorgeous Valentin Merrickson. Theo draws Valentin out of his protective armor and sparks hope for a life the tough heavyweight never imagined possible. Their love grows, but threats from extremists and an injury that ends Valentin's career in the cage might tear them apart. 

 

Excerpt:

"I spilled an entire tray," Theo said, raising his eyes to the heavens. Waiting tables wasn't exactly the cake walk he'd expected.

 
"Nobody's perfect," Valentin said.

 
Theo turned to him, his gaze sweeping him from head to toe, and said, "I'm not so sure about that, Sunshine."
 

Valentin's expression turned stony. "Why do you keep calling me that?"

 
"Because just looking at you is enough to brighten anyone's day." The words left Theo's mouth before he could stop them. That had always been one of his biggest problems. A thought popped into his head and he had to say it. He rarely considered the consequences.
 

"Ohhh." Liz smiled and glanced at Valentin. "Now that's a line I need to remember."

 
Valentin glowered and finished his drink quickly.

 
"Should you be drinking while you're training?" Theo asked. "We have a tournament coming up at the end of the month."


"It's water with lemon in it, not that it's any of your business," Valentin said, but his faint smile belied his rude tone.
 

"Just thinking about the team," Theo said, deliberately using a flirty look. He removed his apron with the words Panoramic View embroidered across it in silver and embellished with a black skull.
 

"Nice belt." Valentin nodded toward Theo's waist. "Looks almost like a chain whip."

 
Theo glanced toward Liz, who stood at the other end of the bar. He wasn't sure how his new boss would feel if she knew the dual uses of his attire. He probably shouldn't even admit this to Valentin, but he said softly, "It is. My father was an artist--a martial artist--and he made jewelry as a hobby. He liked finding ways of making weapons fashionable." Theo gestured toward his belt.

 
"What else does he make?"

 
"He's dead," Theo said quietly. Though his father had been dead for years, thinking about his loss still hurt.

 
"I'm sorry," Valentin said. "That belt must be pretty special to you."

 
"It is." Theo sighed. "I really need to catch the bus and get to sleep."
 

"No car?"
 

"Not yet, but I'm working on it. I used a rental to drive here, but I returned it yesterday."
 

"Want a ride?"
 

"Didn't you just get here?"
 

Valentin shrugged. "I'm done with my drink and I'm in training, too. Ready to go?"
 

Narrowing his eyes, Theo considered the offer. Just sitting next to Valentin in a car, smelling his cologne, would be enough to make him horny all night. This guy would not be good for his training. Why did he have to join a team that had the most gorgeous man in the universe as its heavyweight champion?
 

"I'm ready. Just let me get my bag."
 

"Right here." Liz, who had approached, picked up his black bag from behind the counter and handed it to him.
 

Theo took it from her.
 

From the corner of his eye, he noticed a news headline on the widescreen TV above the bar.
 

"Hey, Liz," said one of the waitresses, stepping behind the bar to turn up the volume.
 

"The Spellman Hill Vigilante strikes again."
 

Theo listened to a brief report about two guys who had been knocked unconscious by a helmeted figure while attempting to mug a woman on her way home from work the previous night.
 

"Spellman Hill Vigilante?" Theo asked.
 

"Yeah. Over the past year or so a guy in a black helmet has been on the streets stopping crime in and around Spellman Hill. He seems to focus on crimes against the gay community, but not always," said the waitress. "A few of his victims claim he attacked them at random, but I'm not so sure. Cops don't like him for obvious reasons, but I feel a little safer knowing he's around."
 

"I wish the news would stop sensationalizing this guy," Liz said, shaking her head.
 

"Hey, in a way he's a hero," Valentin said.
 

Liz raised her eyes to heaven. "Just as long as he doesn't try to be a 'hero' near my club. If you ask me he's just a wacko."
 

After saying good night, Theo and Valentin walked out of the club together. Valentin was more than a head taller than Theo, so even with his high-heeled black boots Theo needed to look up to him. He kind of liked it. Hell, he loved it.
 

Outside they climbed into Valentin's sleek black sports car. It probably cost more than Theo had made fighting over the past couple of years. Still Valentin could probably afford it with little stress. He'd done well in his career and Theo had read several articles in sports magazines that mentioned Valentin's wise business investments.
 

Smiling, Theo stretched his long legs and leaned back in the leather seat. "I could get used to this."
 

"I know what you mean," Valentin said under his breath. His blue gaze lingered on Theo's legs and crotch.
 

"Are you flirting with me, Sunshine?"
 

"Why not? You've been doing it all day."
 

Purchase Link:

 

About Kate 

Always a fan of romance and the paranormal, Kate Hill started writing over twenty years ago for pleasure. Her first story, a short erotic vampire tale, was accepted for publication in 1996. Since then she has sold over one hundred short stories, novellas and novels.

When she's not working on her books, Kate enjoys reading, working out and spending time with her family and pets. Kate also writes under the pen name Saloni Quinby. She enjoys hearing from readers and she can be contacted at katehill@sprintmail.com. Visit her online at http://www.kate-hill.com.

 

Thursday, December 03, 2015

A Hot Holiday Novella

Looking for a hot holiday novella? Then be sure to check out The Gift of Shayla.




Adam Lancaster has been in love with Rob McKeith—and attracted to Rob’s wife, Shayla—for years, but he fears their friendship would be over if they knew the truth. So he’s thrilled when his secret fantasy becomes reality and the couple offers him a very special gift: a sensual Christmas Eve in their bedroom…

Tuesday, December 01, 2015

December Newsletter is Out!

The December 2015 issue of Awakening Desires—the Newsletter of Romance Author N.J. Walters—is now available. It's the final issue for 2015! Thank you all for such a wonderful year.

Be sure to check out all the latest news, contests and an excerpt from my holiday novella The Gift of Shayla.

As always, some lucky newsletter subscriber wins a prize. All you have to do to be eligible to win is go to Awakening Desires Newsletter and join. While you’re there, you can check out back issues of the newsletter.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Samhain Publishing Black Friday Sale!

Be sure to check out SAMHAIN PUBLISHING's BLACK FRIDAY SALE! Today through Monday, they have 30% off the entire store. (US-only for print books.)



It's a great time to pick up some great books and to download any you've missed.

You can pick up any books from the Salvation Pack you haven't read yet. You could also check out any series of mine you might have missed!

Be sure not to miss out on this great deal.

Laurie Roma's November Symposium: What A Wonderful World

This month Laurie Roma asked her friends and fellow authors the things they are most grateful for.

Click the link below to find out what we all had to say!




Thursday, November 26, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving Day!



Happy Thanksgiving Day to all my friends in the USA. I hope you all have a wonderful day filled with family, friends and great food. If you're travelling this holiday weekend, stay safe!


Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Salvation Pack series--new contract

Just signed a contract for what will probably be the last Salvation Pack book--Book 9 Wolf of her Own.

If you're wondering about the order for the Salvation Pack series, here it is:

Wolf at the Door
Wolf in her Bed
Wolf on the Run
Wolf from the Past
Wolf on the Hunt (January 12, 2016)
Wolf on a Mission (April 5, 2016)
Wolf in his Heart (July 2016)
Wolf in her Soul (October 2016)
Wolf of her Own (2017)





Wolf on the Hunt, due out on January 12, 2016, is up for pre-order on Amazon.

I LOVE the covers for this series.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Friday, November 20, 2015

Holiday Madness


There is change in the air.

Halloween is nothing but a distant memory and the American Thanksgiving Holiday and Christmas loom in the not-so-distant future. Decorations, candy, and tempting gift items are appearing with rapid regularity on the store shelves. In the blink of an eye, it seems we’ve hit the holiday season running.

I don’t know about you, but I already feel as though I’m behind.

But why do I feel that way? Why should I?

It’s partly a media and retail driven frenzy—buy more, spend more, how can you have your holiday without this particular bobble mode. The entire world goes crazy for about seven weeks or so every year.

In spite of it all, I absolutely love this time of year. I love everything about the holidays—the food, the music, the pretty lights, the decorations that have been in the family for years, and the time spent with family and friends.

So why is it that when the holidays arrive most of us are too tired to enjoy it?

Expectations! We all have such high expectations, encouraged by television advertising. We feel that everything has to be perfect or that the holidays are ruined.

Rubbish!

Some of the most memorable holidays I’ve had are the ones when I didn’t have that much. You remember what’s really important at a time like that. It’s your loved ones and friends, having a roof over your head and enough groceries in the cupboard. Not everyone has that.

The holidays are about the people you share it with, not the stuff. Start some new traditions this year to replace the economically challenging ones that may have outlived their usefulness. And go back to basics.

There are lots of simple and inexpensive gifts you can give--a bottle of inexpensive wine (sometimes you can get mini-bottles of wine for under $5), some homemade cookies or cake, a gift certificate for the movies or the local coffee shop. If you’re crafty, you can knit socks or scarves or even a sweater. Lots of thrift stores have bags of yarn, donated by someone who never finished their particular project. You get the idea.

I made homemade chocolates for the first time in years and will be distributing some small tins of those as presents.
 
 
 
My mom makes and gives away cakes every year. (We all tell her we don't care if we get anything else as long as we get our fruitcake. Yes, my mother makes the best fruitcake in the world.) It’s hard to go wrong with a gift of food. There is so much company coming and going over the holidays you can share the box of chocolates you might not particularly like, or offer guests a glass of wine from the bottle of red you’ll never drink.
 
Other than food, I like to give gift cards that give someone an experience—an afternoon at the movies, an evening at a coffee shop, a dinner out. Folks really appreciate gifts like that. Plus, they don’t have to find a place to store an unwanted present after the holidays are over. Face it, we’ve all gotten something we don’t like. It ends up in the back of the closet or going to the local thrift store, or worse, re-gifted to someone else who will do exactly the same thing. I shudder to think how often some presents make the rounds.

If even that is financially challenging, maybe you can give someone the gift of time.

In the crazy world we live in, I’m sure some family members or friends would appreciate that more than anything. Invite your sister, mother or girlfriend over for an afternoon of cookie baking. You’ll have fun and have a ton of baked goods to share at the end of the day. Take an afternoon and spend it with your spouse, significant other, or kids. Chose activities that don’t cost money. Go to a park. Take in a tree-lighting ceremony. Window shop  at the mall without buying anything—okay, maybe a hot chocolate at the food court, but that’s it. The idea is to spend time with that person. So turn off the computer and the cell phone and relax and enjoy.

And do something for charity. Pick up an extra can of tuna and drop it in the food bank bin at the grocery store, volunteer somewhere, drop your coffee money for a week into the Salvation Army kettle. You’ll be glad you did.

The holidays are meant to be a joyous time. Enjoy them!

Friday, November 13, 2015

Weekend Book Clue--Stars of Fortune by Nora Roberts

STARS OF FORTUNE is the first book in Nora Roberts's new Guardians Trilogy. It contains secrets, magic and much more. She brings together six people who must join forces if they hope to conquer an ancient evil. Of course, there is a love story. I always enjoy this author, especially when she steps into the realm of the paranormal.



BLURB:

Sasha Riggs is a reclusive artist, haunted by dreams and nightmares that she turns into extraordinary paintings. Her visions lead her to the Greek island of Corfu, where five others have been lured to seek the legendary fire star, part of an ancient prophecy. Sasha recognizes them, because she has drawn them: a magician, an archaeologist, a wanderer, a fighter, a loner. All on a quest. All with secrets.

Sasha is the one who holds them together—the seer. And in the magician, Bran Killian, she sees a man of immense power and compassion. As Sasha struggles with her rare ability, Bran is there to support her, challenge her, and believe in her.

When a dark threat looms, the six must use their combined powers—including trust, unity, and love—to find the fire star and keep the world on course.

Thursday, November 05, 2015

Guy Fawkes Night

Today is Guy Fawkes Night, aka bonfire night. If you're having a bonfire, please be safe. It's a strange holiday. It goes back to November 5, 1605 when Guy Fawkes, a member of the Gunpowder Plot, was arrested while placing explosives beneath the House of Lords in London. It had all kinds of political and religious implications at the time. I remember it as the night of the community bonfire when I was a kid.
 
Remember remember the fifth of November
Gunpowder, treason and plot.
I see no reason why gunpowder, treason
Should ever be forgot...