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Monday, July 25, 2011

Christmas in July Trivia Winners


Ho-ho-ho - Merry Christmas in July!

Our winners from the Trivia contest are:

Renee Bennett - Grab Bag One
A Grim Noel - Martyn Housley-Smith
Seriously Serendipity - Kelley Hunter
Until the Last Star Burns Out - Cheryl Pierson
When A Good Angel Falls - Savanna Kougar
Pretty in Pink - Sommer Marsden
Murder, Mayhem and Mistletoe - Samantha Storm

Birdsooong - Grab Bag Two
A Christmas Wedding - Celia Yeary
Deep and Crisp and Even - Peter Alan Orchard
Angel Be Good - Kathy Carmichael
Gracie's Holiday Hero - Betty Jo Schuler
Christmas With A Stranger - Candy Caine
The Case of the Missing Elf - Annie Reed

Jenn Mathis - Grab Bag Three
Flavia's Secret - Lindsay Townsend
Demon's of Chrtistmas Past -Yolanda Sfetsos
Demon's of Chrtistmas Presnt - Yolands Sfetsos
Season for Miracles - Clare Revell
Just Another Paranormal Christmas

Many thanks to all the authors who generously donated their Christmas stories.

Hope to see you all next year.

Happily Ever After Authors





Sunday, July 24, 2011

Last Day of Christmas in July Event

Welcome to the final day of our Christmas in July celebration. Thank you to everyone who participated and all who merrily joined in and got into the Christmas Spirit. 


Regardless of how or why each of us celebrates this holiday, it truly is about the Spirit of the Season -- giving of ourselves, sharing home and hearth, love and togetherness, and joy.

When we think of it, that is exactly what authors do year round. They give of themselves, of their imagination, their creativity, and their love so that others may enjoy and share in the fruit of their labors. The gifts they receive in return may seem small to the world. But authors rejoice and are inspired to continue on when their work is well received through a wonderful review, an email from a reader who loved a story, and by the followers who buy their books.    


In the Spirit of fun, I'd like to share some facts about Santa Clause.

The Origins of Santa Claus


It is commonly believed that the inspiration behind Santa Claus – at least in terms of character - was 4th century Greek Christian bishop Saint Nicholas of Myra (a province of Byzantine Anatolia, now in Turkey). Saint Nicholas was famous for his generous dowries and offerings to the poor.

In terms of Santa Claus’s flight through the sky on Christmas Eve, many have traced his image and actions to that of the pre-Christianity Germanic/Norse god Odin. The god was often recorded as an elderly man with a white beard and large hat, seen to be leading a great hunting party through the skies at the native Germanic holiday of Yule - which similarly occurred during the first day of winter, December 21st – riding an eight-legged horse named Sleipnir (similar to modern day’s Christmas reindeers).

Phonetically, the name Santa Claus was possibly derived of the Dutch “Sinterklaas” – a folkloric depiction of Saint Nicholas. Like Odin, he was also seen wearing a large beard and riding a grey horse through the skies. He is celebrated annually on Saint Nicholas’ eve (5th – 6th of December).
(Thank you to http://www.suite101.com/ for this information)

Here in the United States we know this jolly old elf as Santa Clause.  Carrying a bag filled with toys and wearing his bright red suit, he makes the rounds on Christmas Eve night so all good little boys and girls will wake up to presents and over-flowing stockings on Christmas morn.
 According to tradition in France, on Christmas Eve children leave their shoes by the fireplace filled with carrots and treats for Père Noël's donkey, Gui (French for "Mistletoe") before they go to bed. Père Noël takes the offerings and, if the child has been good, leaves presents in their place.
 When December comes, the boys and girls in Spain and Latin America write their letters to the Three Kings or to their favorite King: Melchor, Gaspar or Baltasar. The Spanish Christmas continues for a few weeks after Dec. 25th. On the Eve of Epiphany, January 5th, children place their shoes on the doorstep, and in the secret of the night, the Three Wise Men pass leaving gifts. 
Weihnachtsmann - This old gentleman, a 19th. century German equivalent of Santa Claus, traveled on foot throughout Protestant areas of Germany on Christmas Eve. For naughty boys and girls, he left switches. Gifts were left for the good children.  




In Great Britain and many English speaking countries, the gift giver is called Father Christmas. He wears a long red or green robe, and leaves presents in stockings on Christmas Eve. However, the gifts are not usually opened until the following afternoon. Father Christmas delivers them during the night before Christmas. The Children leave an empty stocking or pillowcase hanging at the end of the bed. In the morning they hope it will be full of presents. In England the day after Christmas is called Boxing Day because boys used to go round collecting money in clay boxes. When the boxes were full, they broke them open.

DRAWINGS:
We all hope you have enjoyed Christmas in July as much as we have and that you've grabbed the free stories and the free VTP recipe book. Please remember to leave a comment and your email address either here or at 
www.rebeccajvickery.blogspot.com to be entered in the drawings for various prizes. I'll announce our winners on my blog on Monday to be sure our International friends have time to enter.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

So. About Those Cannoli…




Ah, Christmas traditions. The Hunter family has a few, and most I can do without. Like the ginormous polar bear blow-ups on the lawn, or my Hubby dressing up as an elf. (Yep. He really does.) But there is one...a very special one...I couldn't do without.


Every holiday season, the week before Christmas, we pack the kids in the car and head down to Boston. We visit the Frog Pond. We walk the Common and run through the lighted walkways. We pet the police horses, do a little shopping, and of course, grab a Starbucks eggnog latte, or ten. And then we work our way over to the North End, for it's there that Mike's Pastry lives (and can I just say, their pastry is Heaven on earth. Yes. They. Are.)


So, cooler in hand, we buy our Christmas chocolate chip cannoli. Enough for me and Hubby, and one for Santa. Because Santa, he doesn't want stupid cookies. No. He wants chocolate chip cannoli (heavy on the powdered sugar) from Mike's Pastry. Trust me.


And this has been the way, and all has been well—until three years ago, when we walked into Mike's Pastry and there were only 2 chocolate chip cannoli left. Panic erupted. But what can you do? So we grabbed the last two and ran for the New Hampshire border.


That night, as we set out the milk and carrots, my youngest son looked at me, concerned.
"What are we going to do? We don't have enough cannoli for you and Dad and Santa."
I turned, pulled the box out of the fridge, and handed it to him.


"Here," I said. "Dad and I don't need them. Santa can have both."


That's when a blood-curdling shriek erupted from Hubby, and he flew into the kitchen and snatched the box out of his child’s hands.


"You can't do that!" he said. "You can’t waste our cannoli on Santa Claus like that!" He spun and thrust them back into the refrigerator. "Santa will just have to find his own cannoli. These are mine!"


Yeah.


I know.


Anyway, I recovered the cannoli from the fridge. We left it for Santa, and he was incredibly pleased with our sacrifice and generosity. And Hubby, well, I figure one of these days maybe someone, like me, should take pity on him and have "The Talk" with him. He's getting a bit old for this...


Or maybe not. Because I love that man. I do. So much. For being so wonderful and kind and believing in magic long after others have grown cynical to life. Lonnnngggg after. So I don't have the heart to explain it. And really, maybe it's better that way.


After all, it was those cannoli, and his reaction, that were the spark of inspiration for my first holiday romantic comedy, Seriously Serendipity. So I can never tell him now.


So, you tell me—what’s your best, or craziest (!) holiday tradition? Meanwhile, I wish you all a Christmas in July filled with love and hope and faith and magic and the knowledge that sometimes it's just okay to believe long after others have stopped. I wish you all lots of chocolate cannoli too. Especially me. I wish it on me. A lot.


Merry Christmas in July, everyone!


Love,
Kelley

Kelley Hunter is the author of several short stories as well as two novels, Seriously Serendipity and Tipping the Scale of Suckocity. Her writing has also placed in several Romance Writers of America chapter contests. A New England native, she’s a wife, mom, and lackey to four cats. She's also an unrepentant cheat at mini-golf and just a little too fond of chocolate chip cannoli.. All proceeds from her writing are always donated to charity. To read more about her and her writing you can visit her blog, So Seriously.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Merry Christmas in July - IT'S TRIVIA DAY!


Merry Christmas in July!
IT’S TRIVIA DAY!

Who’s all ready to answer some questions for a chance to win a grab bag of fabulous Christmas stories?

You are? All right!

Here's how to play and win:

The most important rule is you must email your answers to heaauthors@yahoo.com.

Next, read the question and click on the authors name and search their website for the answer. Most answers are one click away from the home page.

Answers need to be sent in no later than midnight Sunday, July 24.

That’s it. Simple, isn’t it?

Winners will be announced Monday, July 25.

Here we go.

1.        What is the name of Sommer Marsden’s private e-press?

2.       Cheryl Pierson is co-owner of what business?

3.       Which of Gemma Halliday’s series was a spin-off of the ‘High Heels series?

4.       What is Yolanda Sfetsos reading?

5.       Which of Kathy Carmichael’s title is award winning?

6.       What does Samantha Storm do when she’s not writing?

7.       In Lindsay Townsend’s story ‘To Touch the Knight’, where is Edith from?

        8.       Betty Jo Schuler is an online instructor for writer’s Digest University, what dos she specialize in?

         9.       Who is Savanna Kougar’s angelic forcaster?

         10.   Under Candy Caine’s less edgier author name, Candace Gold, what did she take as a dare?

         11.   Kelly Hunter donates her royalties to what organization?

          12.   In Peter Alan Orchard’s children story ‘The House on Athene Street’, what is the name of the perfume seller?

            13.   What is the name of Martyn Housley-Smith’s rabbit?

            14.   Aside from reading and writing, what other craft does Clare Revell do?

            15.   What makes Celia Yeary angry?

            16.   Where does LK Hunsaker originally hail from?

            17.   What was K A M’Lady’s first full length novel contracted?

Good luck!



A huge thank you to all the authors who donated their books for the grap bags.


Happily Ever After Authors
http://happilyeveryafterauthors2.blogspot.com

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/heaauthors2

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Christmas in July - a host of Christmas pasts

As part of Christmas In July I'm giving away a pdf of my historical romance, Flavia's Secret. This romance is set in Roman Britain, in and around Aquae Sulis (The Roman city of Bath) and has its climax during the ancient Roman 'Christmas' - the Saturnalia.

It may not have been Christmas exactly, but the ancient Roman Saturnalia (17th-23rd. December) was certainly an opportunity for feasting and gift-giving. Over the years, this time of merry-making, sacrifices and gift-giving expanded to a week and the poet Catullus - who knew a thing or two about parties - called it 'the best of days'.

In many ways this ancient festival was rather like Christmas:

Schools were on holiday.
Gambling was allowed.
Shopping at special markets was encouraged.
Holiday clothes were worn - the informal, colourful 'dining clothes' instead of the plain, bulky toga.
Presents were given - parrots, wax candles, dice, combs, perfumes, little pottery dolls.
Feasting was indulged, with Saturn himself in charge as Lord of Misrule.
People wished each other a merry Saturnalia with the evocation, 'io Saturnalia!' ('Yo Saturnalia!')

Some of my other stories also take in Christmas. Why? Because Christmas is a time for families and for romance: the romance of exchanging gifts and vows, the romance of walking together in crisp white snow, the romance of sitting together before a blazing fire.

My A Knight's Captive finishes at Christmas-time, too. With the heroine Sunniva and the hero Marc, we witness the Christmas-Day coronation of William of Normandy as King of England. Then we go with them to Sunniva's holding in the north of England, where, in a hut in the snow, she discovers the truth about her own dead mother.

In a lighter vein, to celebrate the fun side of Christmas, I've a short story coming out with Muse It Up in December about a beauty that just won't wake up, despite the kiss of the handsome prince....

Christmas is a time of contrasts: the dark outside contrasted with the bright fire inside, the feasting after the careful mid-winter saving of treats, the hope that finally the year has turned.

This is what draws me to writing about Christmas, and Christmas as it was celebrated in the past.

How about you? What do you find appealing about Christmas?

My latest book, by the way, is another medieval, To Touch the Knight, available now.

Lindsay

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Happy Christmas in July

Happy Christmas in July! And thanks to Happily Ever After for hosting this lovely event.

The Christmas season has a certain feel about it. It's a time of sharing and coming together with those who matter to you. I love that about the Christmas spirit. But I live in the Southern Hemisphere, and Christmastime happens to be in the middle of summer, so a lot of the imagery doesn't quite fit. We don't have any snow, it's not cold, and we aren't wishing for a fireplace to keep us warm.

Instead, we're wearing shorts and tees, flip-flops (which we call thongs) and are looking forward to a nice and sunny day with the family. Some even like to go to the beach. One of my favourite things about Christmas is waking up to a hot, summer day with plenty of sun. And I also love to spend it at home with my small family doing nothing.

Actually, our winter is now. So Christmas in July seems quite fitting at the moment. It's so cold outside.

I guess it's not surprise that a few years ago, around this time of the year, I wrote a Christmas novella set in Sydney, starring a lonely man and a ray of hope that enters his life. That's how Demon of Christmas Past took shape, and before I knew it, I was telling the dark--but hopeful--paranormal romance story between an imp and a human. I had so much fun writing it, that less than six months later, I decided to write the second part: Demon of Christmas Present. But this time, while I was enjoying a warm, summer Christmas season, I decided to set the story in the faraway land of the North Pole. Just to get a taste of the cold Christmas that everyone else is so familiar with. :)

So, how's Christmas where you live? Are you in the Northern or Southern Hemisphere? And which one do you think you'd enjoy best--a cold, wintry Christmas...or a hot, summer Christmas?

Thanks for reading!

Yolanda Sfetsos
http://www.yolandasfetsos.com/




THE DEMON OF CHRISTMAS DUOLOGY IS NOW AVAILABLE:







------------------------



ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Yolanda Sfetsos lives in Sydney, Australia with her husband, daughter, and cat. She loves to spend most of her days writing stories. Her muse doesn't like genre restrictions and is always happy to toe the dark edge of storytelling. When she’s not writing she spends as much time as possible with her small family. She also enjoys watching movies, TV shows, anime, going for walks, and reading.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Christmas in July: Mistletoe


A Regency Christmas story wouldn't be complete without the hero and heroine celebrating their love with a kiss under the mistletoe. Long a symbol of fertility, mistletoe, with its glossy green leaves and white berries, has become a Christmas symbol of love and marriage.

Mistletoe is an evergreen, a spot of life in the brown, dormant landscape of a northern winter. At this low point of the year, Regency people decorated their houses with mistletoe, along with other seasonal greens such as Christmas rose (Hellebore), evergreen boughs, holly, ivy, hawthorn, laurel, rosemary, and bay, as a reminder that spring would return.

In England, mistletoe, which is a parasite, grows most often on apple trees, but also on blackthorn, hawthorn, lime, poplar, rowan and willow. Although its range extends from Devon to Yorkshire, the plant grows mainly to the south and west, and is particularly abundant around London.

Some of the myths surrounding mistletoe originated with the Druids, who deemed the plant a sexual symbol--the juice from the white berries resembles semen--and, by extension, an aphrodisiac. As part of their winter solstice ceremonies, they cut mistletoe from oak trees, providing a link to the later holiday of Christmas.

The origin of kissing under the mistletoe may derive from the Norse legend of the death of the sun god, Balder, killed by a sprig of mistletoe hurled by his enemy Loki. When Balder's mother, Frigga, the goddess of love, cried over her son, her tears resurrected him. In gratitude, she kissed everyone who came under the mistletoe.

A lesser known legend declares mistletoe the plant of peace. Enemies meeting under the mistletoe had to embrace and declare a truce until the next day. This goodwill and embrace may also be the source of the kiss under the mistletoe.

Regency people used mistletoe in the form of a kissing bough--a simple arrangement of mistletoe decorated with ribbons and hung over a doorway or entrance. The gentleman would kiss his lady and then pluck a white berry and present it to her, perhaps as a symbol of the child he could give her. When all the berries were gone, that sprig of mistletoe could no longer be used to steal kisses, although many people disregarded the berries' absence.

My Regency Christmas novella, Mistletoe Everywhere, incorporates the myth of enemies. In this case, the estranged hero and heroine declare a truce under the mistletoe--mistletoe that only the hero can see. Short blurb: A man who sees mistletoe everywhere is mad--or in love. Buy link here. More info at my website, http://www.lindabanche.com

Merry Christmas in July to all.

Thank you all,
Linda
Welcome to My World of Historical Hilarity!
http://www.lindabanche.com

Monday, July 18, 2011

Decorated with Love

Christmas Eve, late at night, my husband Paul and I pour a glass of wine, sit on the floor by our fragrant pine, the room lit only by the tree's soft lights.

Our Christmas tree is decked with love and memories, and on this particular night, we reminisce. There's a tiny red-and-white striped stocking, yellowed over the years, that I bought the year my first son was born. (Paul wasn't a part of my life then; we married when my youngest son was in high school, but they are like his own and he's a beloved stepfather and step grandfather.) A "God's Eye" made of Popsicle sticks woven with yarn nestles in the branches, a gift made by our first grandson, his initials on the back, written in crayon. Picture-frame ornaments with photos of other grandchildren, when they were small, evoke tender memories. A smiling ice cream cone, a gift from my daughter and her husband, marks the sale of my first published children's book, Ice Cream for Breakfast. A china bell with shamrocks, brought from Ireland, and a gold cross from Rome, are mementos from my youngest son and his wife's travels.

Paul's and my trips are noted too, and there are decorations given to us by his brother and sister, and mine, and my favorite cousin. Beaded candy canes and wreaths were made by an aunt that's deceased. And the lights that bubble around the bottom of our Christmas tree were purchased only a few years ago, but reminders of Paul's childhood, they still intrigue little ones. The quilted tree skirt, hidden by piles of gifts before our family opening, bears a large green S on a background of red and white—a treasured gift made by our daughter-in-law. Our middle son and his wife gave us appropriate ornaments for our interests, a golf club for my husband and a book for me.

Paul and I moved to Florida five years ago. We sold our house and furniture, but among the things we brought along was a large, red plastic box filled with our Christmas tree ornaments, rich with memories.

Betty Jo writes for children, teens, and adults. A former elementary teacher, she is an online instructor for Writers Digest University classes. Her latest books are Mystic Mansion, How Not to Date a Hollywood Star, No Rain No Rainbows (all YA), and Impossible Dreams, a romantic comedy.




Just, don’t miss Gracie’s Holiday Hero, a contemporary love story with all the elements that warm your heart. A reunion romance with a rags to (almost) riches heroine from an impoverished background, a handsome disillusioned hero with a motherless daughter, Kirsten, who’s wise beyond her years, a lovable dog named Dumbbell…and a Christmas ghost named Mirabelle.





Visit Betty Jo’s website at http://bettyjowrites.com/ .

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Christmas in July - Visit Bayeux with Stephanie Burkhart


Hi all - my Christmas in July release with Victory Tales Press is "Christmas in Bayeux," an international contemporary. Aiden Seward lost his parents to a traffic accident while serving in Iraq. Now out of the Army, he visits Bayeux, France and meets with his old friend, Noel. Can Noel help heal his wounded heart?

I grew up in Manchester, NH. Manchester is the second largest French speaking city in the US and I took 3 years high school French. I love the language and in my studies, I grew to love the nation. France was the perfect setting for my story. I've been to Paris several times. I also visited Lembach, France in 1988 and that experience has been with me throughout the years. My experiences in Lembach made their way into the story.

Lembach is a small town in the Alsace-Lorraine region of France just over the German/French border. I was dispatched along with a fellow soldier, Private East to pick up a squad of soldiers in Pirmasens, Germany. East and I took a detour and ended up in Lembach.

Needless to say, we were an odd sight, walking around the town in our US Army military uniforms. The locals stared at us – hard. As we walked around the small town square an older man approached us. He spoke no English. I had my "French for Travelers" guide and my pronunciation was decent so I engaged him. He enthusiastically shook our hands. "Américains?" "Oui," I answered. He proceeded to thank East and I not only for our service, but also for the service of our grandfathers who liberated France from Germany.

It was a moving experience that humbled both of us.

It was lunchtime and East and I went to the local café for lunch. With my trusty "French for Travelers," I ordered our food – salad and sandwiches. We were quite the attraction in the café. Patrons stared at us. In fact, several of them approached us while we ate and thanked us. Before we left, the manager came to us. He told us our meal was free.

East and I wouldn't have it. We had francs for the occasion. Between the manager's English and my French, I learned the residents of the town loved Americans. In World War II, we had indeed liberated them from Germany's occupation. We were still heroes to them – 40 years later.

East and I were truly humbled by how the town embraced us. As we made our way back to our military van, we thanked God for this rare opportunity to visit France.

This experience found it's way into my story. Enjoy the excerpt:

She pushed two wooden double doors open and they walked into a wide open-spaced entrance hall. "Is this a museum?"

"Oui. It houses our best known prize – the Bayeux Tapestry."

"What is that?" His voice was laced in curiosity.

"Dix Euros," said the clerk. He was in his mid-thirties and wore a blue uniform.

Aiden put his hand over Noel's hand as she reached for her purse. "I'll get it."

"Vous êtes Américain?"
"Oui," said Aiden.

The clerk held out his hand. Aiden slowly took it, surprised by the gesture. What was he doing?

"Américains we like. World War II, yes? Merci – thank you," the clerk said in halting English.

Aiden was stunned. Noel said this occurred, but he didn't think it would happen to him.

"De Rein. Thank you, sir."

"Non, Monsieur, merci. Keep your money."

"Oh, I insist."
"Oui, thank you, merci."

Noel smiled at the clerk, thread her arm through Aiden's, and they walked into the museum. There were a few people milling about in the halls, but it wasn't as busy as he thought it would be. Maybe everyone was at the Christmas markets.

He paused before they got far. "You said—"

She gave him an easy smile. "You handled that well."

****

Vist the book teaser on You Tube and feel free to give it a "like." LINK: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-muZ0dhOvSE

BUY LINK ON AMAZON:http://www.amazon.com/Christmas-in-Bayeux-ebook/dp/B005BTLSI8/

BUY LINK ON SMASHWORDS:https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/72100

GIVEAWAY: Leave a comment about the story, the book trailer, Bayeux, or anything to do with Christmas. I'll pick a name out of hat on 19 JUL. Winner will receive a $5.00 to Amazon.



ABOUT THE AUTHOR:I was born and raised in Manchester, NH. When I was 18, this New England Patriot fan joined the US Army for a great adventure and spent 7 years overseas in Germany. I met a fair-haired California boy and we were married in Denmark in 1991. Little odd fact: I was stationed in Muenster, Germany in 1987 when Pope John Paul II visited that city.. Now, the adventure over, I work for LAPD as a 911 Operator.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Christmas Past--Dolls and Cap Guns

Vintage Bride Doll
Dolls were a big part of my Christmases. I loved my dolls, and still have a few, those that did not deteriorate and mold and finally went to Doll Heaven.
The first doll I remember was a bride doll about a foot high. I was four years old and I still have her. God bless her little hard plastic body, she's one of the few that has held up all these years. Later, I received bride and groom dolls—which I still have--and a Margaret O'Brian doll complete with a darling little dress, straw hat, and white shoes. She still wears those today. We couldn't afford the Shirley Temple Doll I wanted, so got Margaret instead.

The last doll Santa brought was a life-size boy doll. Don't laugh. I was ten and my boy doll was the size of a one-year-old child. Since I was too old for dolls at that point, my boy doll—he never had a name—sat on my bed next to my white Persian stuffed cat and my pink Teddy Bear.

But what I really wanted…and got…was a six-shooter cap gun in a holster and belt so I could strap it on around my non-existent eight-year-old waist. With it came a red bandana to tie around my neck, a plaid button shirt, and girl jeans (the kind that zipped on the side—no boy jeans for me, my mother declared.) I was in heaven with my Western get-up. You see? My love of the cowboy sprouted in my little girl heart from an early age.

Since this is Christmas in July at HEA, I'd like to give you a present—a 1500 word Free Read titled Merry Christmas, Victoria. To read this story, email me here: celiayeary@Yahoo.com and I will send the pdf of this story. You can also find this one and two more Free Reads on The Wild Rose Press website. Just click on my name for my pages of books.
~*~*~*~
A Christmas story available on Western Trail Blazers and on Amazon: Angel and the Cowboy, 99 cents in the Dime Novel section of Victory Tales Press.

http://www.amazon.com/Angel-and-the-Cowboy-ebook/dp/B0058VZTWU/ref=sr_1_11?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1309546603&sr=1-11

He needs a wife…
Because the sheriff summons him, U.S. Marshal Max Garrison rides to town. He resents learning he must supervise a young man just out of prison who will work at his ranch for a time. But when he meets the beautiful young woman who owns the teashop, he knows his trip is not wasted. Max decides she's the one for him.

She faces another lonely Christmas…
Daniella Sommers lives alone above the book and teashop her English parents left her. When U.S. Marshal Max Garrison walks in and asks for tea, she almost laughs. Soon, her merriment turns to hope. Then Daniella learns a shocking truth about herself. If she reveals her past, will Max still love her?

Christmas is near, the time for miracles and surprises. Will the message of the season bring Max and Daniella the best gift of all?

THANK YOU--
Celia Yeary-Romance...and a little bit 'o Texas
http://www.celiayeary.blogspot.com
http://www.celiayeary.com
http://sweetheartsofthewest.blogspot.com

Friday, July 15, 2011

Christmas Eve Magic


Tiny, before kindergarten age, I had no idea what Christmas was all about, only that there were yummy new things to eat and it caused lots of excitement, especially my parents who put up the real fragrant-special tree and eagerly talked about Santa Clause. My dad’s blue eyes glowed with a happiness I will always treasure and remember that night before Christmas. Well, it was just me and my younger sister then, sitting with my dad while he, dramatic as a poet actor, read Twas the night before Christmas to us.

My teensy imagination lit up like the bulbs on the tree, before lightbulbs twinkled, when you had to figure out which one had gone bad on the string and replace it before the tree would be bright with colored light again.

On, Comet! On, Cupid! on, on Donner and Blitzen! Those immortal words are what I remembered most about the poem that Christmas eve night. Santa Claus and his reindeer, the magnificent reindeer...More rapid than eagles his coursers they came...in my imagination I could see them flying through the night sky, the snowflakes whirling ‘round them. They looked magical, these elegant beasts with branch-like antlers. And I felt magical, light as air, all tingly fizzy inside.

I swear that poem danced in my head as we set out the hot chocolate and cookies for Santa. My eyes were filled with twinkling stars while my dad assured us that Santa would somehow make it down the chimney we didn’t have in our GI bill ranch house. I still remember heading off to bed bouncing on my tippy toes.

Kissed goodnight and tucked in, I imagined Santa in his miniature sleigh with his eight tiny reindeer flying toward us, much better than dreaming about sugar plums. And soon I heard them...the pawing and prancing of each little hoof...on my very own rooftop. Now Dasher! now, Dancer! now, Prancer and Vixen! Santa called to his reindeer team. I heard it plain as day.

It was so real, their hooves on my roof, I woke up to the loud jingling of sleigh bells, like the ones you hear on the horse harnesses as they pull the sleigh over the snow to grandma’s house. Springing out of bed, I ran outside to a beautiful white blanket of snow, so cold on my bare feet. Santa had landed on my roof.

He waved, stepping out of the old-fashioned handsomely-carved sleigh. Prancing spiritedly on that new fallen snow were Santa’s life-size reindeer decorated in the red leather finery of their harnesses. They were exquisite creatures, their fragile-looking legs, their thick brown coats glistening with snowflakes, the drifting flakes falling from the black heavens. Their faces were noble, their eyes large and brilliant as they looked down at me.

I remember being entranced by the regal tangle of their antlers. And I wondered what it would be like to ride on one of their backs as they soared through night. Santa shouted down to me, a jolly voice reminding me he couldn’t deliver his gifts until I was back in bed.

The next morning when I dashed outside to see my dad, who was fiddling with the outdoor lights, I was surprised to see no blanket of snow, only short brown grass. But I simply ignored that tiny detail and exuberantly told my dad I knew Santa was real because I had seen him last night.

Despite my dad’s rather puzzled expression I went on to tell him about hearing the prancing hooves on the roof, about running outside and seeing Santa and all his reindeer. I think he tried to tell me it was dream. But I was so insistent in all my glorious detail, he ended up nodding and smiling. And not spoiling anything for me. Thank you, Dad.

And no one, not any playground gossiper or any kid’s cruel attempt to spoil Christmas for me, could ever convince me Santa wasn’t real. After all, I had seen Santa and his sleigh full of toys, and his reindeer...oh, his majestic reindeer too. In fact, I may have turned a few kids back to the magic of Christmas simply because I believed. I truly believed.

Until, okay, seventh grade. Laugh if you want. That’s okay. I had a Christmas spirit then, that I still treasure to this day. It was magic. It was pure magic instilled into me for a lifetime.

That lucid dream was absolutely real to me, as real as anything I have ever experienced since. That enchanted dream still feels as if I lived it, and remains as vivid inside my mind as any memory.

I originally wrote this post, back in December 2007, as part of a Christmas eve blog for Title Magic. And, as I penned I realized like a flash, tore open the shutters and threw up the sash...that I hoped the paranormal and otheworldly romance novels I was writing would be as movie-screen vivid, as magical and magnificently real for readers, as my Santa lucid dream was for me.
~~~~~~

Have a Merry Christmas in July

Savanna,

Savanna Kougar ~ Run on the Wild Side of Romance ~
~~~

Just in time for Christmas, Christmas 2012, that is...

What happens ‘When a Good Angel Falls’ ?

Being an avid listener of Coast-to-Coast am, night talk radio, famous for its paranormal topics ~ the subject of 2012, the end of the Mayan calendar ~ is one of the hottest conversations going, and only gets hotter as we come closer and closer to what some people refer to as the endtimes.

So, what if? What will occur on that magical and mystical winter solstice date of December 21, 2012 ~ that final day of the Mayan calendar?

My novel When a Good Angel Falls, answers that question with Sedona and Volcano’s unusual love story.
~~~

Blurb:

Winter Solstice, December 21, 2012 – The end of the Mayan Calendar

What happens when a world weary, worn out incarnated angel, Sedona, who believes she is merely human has three choices after her old van breaks down? Let the Nazerazzi squad of the North American Union capture her and force her into a FEMA concentration camp? Walk out into the Arizona night desert, let the wildlife have a good meal, with the hope her death will be quick? Or does Sedona trust the mysterious stranger suddenly before her? Handsome as sin and all in black, he emerges from the darkness astride a super-speed black motorcycle.

Is he her savior from the brutal hell of end times, or is he a roving cult member of the New World Order, hunting his next blood sacrifice?

Sent from heaven to help her save humanity, Zerr Dann knows the Divine is playing its last card on Earth.
~~~~~

Thursday, July 14, 2011

A Night for Miracles by Cheryl Pierson

Christmas has always been a miraculous time for me. It still is. When I was younger, it was because of the presents, and the anticipation that came with the season. My parents were not wealthy, but we had the necessities and a few of the luxuries. My mom was a great manager. She could make the smallest thing seem of the greatest value. She could transform our house into a marvelous Christmas haven with her decorations, wonderful cooking and a few well-wrapped packages. When I became an adult, the torch was passed, but the anticipation merely shifted. The excitement I felt was not for myself, but for my children–the joy I could bring to them.


Once I had written A Night for Miracles, I began to think about my heroine, Angela Bentley, and how I might have reacted had I been in her place. I would like to think that I would have done what she did–transformed her small cabin into a memorable Christmas castle that none of the children would ever forget, simply through a good meal, a warm fire, and a gift. But it was all of these things that made Angela’s “gift” — the gift of her heart — special. She put herself out on a limb, having been emotionally wounded before.


I thought about the old legend–that Christmas Eve is a “night for miracles” to happen. Angela was not a rich person by any means, but she gave what she had, freely. She took in the stranger and the three children from the cold, gave them warm beds and fed them. But then she went even further. She gave her heart to them, although it was a huge risk. She comes through with physical gifts, but the true giving was in her spirit. And that leads to a miracle.


A Night For Miracles is one of those short stories that I didn’t want to end. I love a happy ending, and this is one of the happiest of all, for everyone in the story.



Blurb for A NIGHT FOR MIRACLES by CHERYL PIERSON



Legend says that miracles happen on Christmas Eve. Can a chance encounter between a gunfighter and a lonely widow herald a new beginning for them both? On this special night, they take a gamble that anything is possible–if they only believe! Available now with THE WILD ROSE PRESS!



EXCERPT FROM A NIGHT FOR MIRACLES:



Angela placed the whiskey-damp cloth against the jagged wound. The man flinched, but held himself hard against the pain. Finally, he opened his eyes. She looked into his sun-bronzed face, his deep blue gaze burning with a startling, compelling intensity as he watched her. He moistened his lips, reminding Angela that she should give him a drink. She laid the cloth in a bowl and turned to pour the water into the cup she’d brought.


He spoke first. “What…what’s your name?” His voice was raspy with pain, but held an underlying tone of gentleness. As if he were apologizing for putting her to this trouble, she thought. The sound of it comforted her. She didn’t know why, and she didn’t want to think about it. He’d be leaving soon.


“Angela.” She lifted his head and gently pressed the metal cup to his lips. “Angela Bentley.”


He took two deep swallows of the water. “Angel,” he said, as she drew the cup away and set it on the nightstand. “It fits.”


She looked down, unsure of the compliment and suddenly nervous. She walked to the low oak chest to retrieve the bandaging and dishpan. “And you are…”


“Nick Dalton, ma’am.” His eyes slid shut as she whirled to face him. A cynical smile touched his lips. “I see…you’ve heard of me.”


A killer. A gunfighter. A ruthless mercenary. What was he doing with these children? She’d heard of him, all right, bits and pieces, whispers at the back fence. Gossip, mainly. And the stories consisted of such variation there was no telling what was true and what wasn’t.


She’d heard. She just hadn’t expected him to be so handsome. Hadn’t expected to see kindness in his eyes. Hadn’t expected to have him show up on her doorstep carrying a piece of lead in him, and with three children in tow. She forced herself to respond through stiff lips. “Heard of you? Who hasn’t?”


He met her challenging stare. “I mean you no harm.”


She remained silent, and he closed his eyes once more. His hands rested on the edge of the sheet, and Angela noticed the traces of blood on his left thumb and index finger. He’d tried to stem the blood flow from his right side as he rode. “I’m only human, it seems, after all,” he muttered huskily. “Not a legend tonight. Just a man.”


He was too badly injured to be a threat, and somehow, looking into his face, shefound herself trusting him despite his fearsome reputation. She kept her expression blank and approached the bed with the dishpan and the bandaging tucked beneath her arm. She fought off the wave of compassion that threatened to engulf her. It was too dangerous. When she spoke, her tone was curt. “A soldier of fortune, from what I hear.”


He gave a faint smile. “Things aren’t always what they seem, Miss Bentley.”



A Night For Miracles is available at The Wild Rose Press, but today I'll a copy give away. Simply leave comment for a chance.


Until the Last Star Burns Out http://www.thewildrosepress.com/until-the-last-star-burns-out-p-1065.html

For a complete list of all Cheryl’s work, go to her Amazon author page at:
http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B002JV8GUE

To find out more about Cheryl, visit her website or her Blog.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Robert Goulet, Stolen Barbie Dresses and Tinfoil Boots

I love Christmas. Almost obsessively. At least, I have for most of my life. When I was a kid, the moment October was upon us (usually before Halloween, even) I pulled out my mother’s Robert Goulet Christmas album and started to play it. Repeatedly. Loudly. And I sang along. Honestly, my mother either drank heavily through my childhood or the woman should be sainted. I think I lean toward the latter. Anyway, to this day nothing says Christmas to me like hearing Robert Goulet’s dulcet tones belting out Ave Maria. To the point that I blogged about it once upon a time and Alison Tyler hunted down the album and had it sent to me. It was shipped in a pizza box of all things.

So, that is one thing that Christmas time means to me. Nostalgia.

Then there was the year that Santa brought me a replacement Barbie negligee (that is right it was a freaking black and yellow Barbie negligee that I had picked out at the toy store, and if we’re honest about that little bit of doll clothing, the damn thing should have come with a whip. But I digress…) because a girl who had been my friend had come to play at my house and made off with my favorite Barbie ensemble. She stole it! That cow.

I was devastated—I don’t know if it was more that my outfit was gone or that a girl I liked and wanted to be friends with had sticky fingers. Either way, in the midst of a mountain of wrapped gifts that Christmas was this present marked to me from THE COW (it actually said her name. Which I won’t say. It was Laura, okay. There. I said it.). And I thought: what? What is this??? But Santa had brought me a replacement of that slutty little—I mean slinky little Barbie nightgown on that girl’s behalf. Santa rocked (and he should also be sainted and possibly looks a bit like my mother maybe).

So, that is another thing Christmas time means to me. Righting wrongs.

And finally, there was the year I had candy cane striped footy pajamas. For some reason I was damn near obsessed with those things. I never wanted to take them off even though since they were footy pajamas it meant every time you had to go to the bathroom you had to damn hear disrobe. So I decided it would be very, very clever to dress as a tin soldier. I would wear the striped footy pajamas and cover my legs in tinfoil from knee to toe (to simulate boots) and put rosy red dots on my cheeks (courtesy of a chunky Avon blush stick). Then I marched around the house. Repeatedly. To the point where, looking back, I would have snapped and tied one of my children to a chair. But my mother never batted an eyelash. Even when I slid down the steps (not on purpose).

Seriously, it was the seventies. Maybe my mom was on drugs…

Anyway, that is another thing that Christmas time means to me. The freedom to be joyous and strange and maybe a little bit silly.

And I think I represented most of that in my little novella Pretty in Pink. I sure hope I did. I wanted it to show off all the good and crazy and odd and endearing stuff that comes with Christmas, family, friendship and love.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go find my Robert Goulet album. October will be here before I know it!

XOXO

Sommer
http://sommermarsden.blogspot.com/?zx=e7b15acd0f4418e5

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Timeless Classics - The Old and the New

I remember sitting around the living room every year as we watched Charlie Brown along with The Little Drummer Boy, Frosty the Snowman, and Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. As the years went by and I had children of my own, I was able to share the shows with them. They are a timeless piece of history that never grows old.



My all time favorite Holiday classis is It's A Wonderful Life, but I also love A Christmas Carol and the 1973 version of A Miracle on 34th Street.

Today the list of Christmas Classics has grown so much that it's difficult to get them all in. The Night They Saved Christmas, White Christmas, A Smokey Mountain Christmas, Prancer, The Santa Clause, The Grinch, Elf, and The Polar Express are some others I love to watch.

What past classic is your favorite? What new classic have your added to your list of favorites?

Bekki
http://bekkilynn.net

Monday, July 11, 2011

The Art of Decorating a Christmas Tree




During the 1800s, fruits, nuts and cookies were used to trim Christmas trees. The Germans baked gingerbread cookies in the shape of fruit, stars, angels and bells. The English created ornaments out of lace and paper. The Americans added strings of cranberries or popcorn.









It wasn’t until the late 1800s when the Germans manufactured glass ornaments for mass production. At first they were molded to look like fruits, nuts and other food items, but later hearts, stars and other shapes were created. The glass blowers of Lauscha, Germany created molds of children, saints, famous people and animals.






Dresden and Tinware Ornaments were crafted during the 1800s, too. They were made out of pressed and embossed paper, which were fish, birds and other animals. This way they could be used after Christmas and for other holidays. During the 1900s, the ornaments were made out of pressed tin. They were brightly colored lithographed surfaces. It was during this time that foil strips were used, too. They were called icicles, angel hair or tinsel.






In my story, Wanted, the town came together to decorate a Christmas tree for their holiday celebration. Though they made most of the ornaments, they also order glass ornaments from Woolsworth’s.


If you decorate a tree at Christmastime, do you prefer store bought ornaments, homemade or a little of both?



Blurb for Wanted:

Sheriff Jace Kelly’s wife died giving birth to his remarkable daughter, Emma. She inherited the families’ seer abilities, but being only six-years old, she has the tendency not to know the difference between a vision and just an ordinary dream. So Jace doesn’t put too much faith in Emma’s recent premonition: marriage for him and a new mother for her, all because she wished upon a Christmas star.

When JoBeth Riley arrives in town, Emma is convinced this is the woman she dreamed about: dark hair, green eyes and shamrocks in her pocket. Only there’s one problem, she’s the notorious outlaw, Baby Face Jo.

JoBeth’s stay in the lumber town is meant to keep Shane Maverick, the leader of the outlaw gang from finding her and breaking her out of jail before the authorities have time to devise a plan to capture him.

JoBeth finds the Kellys a strange lot. A little girl, who believes her dreams are tales of the future and the rugged sheriff whose kindness proves a distraction. She’s an outlaw for heaven’s sake, but Jace is bound and determined to steal her heart.



Author Bio:

Karen Michelle Nutt resides in California with her husband, three fascinating children, and houseful of demanding pets. Jack, her Chihuahua/Yorkshire terrier is her writing buddy and sits long hours with her at the computer.

Her Book, Lost in the Mist of Time, was nominated for New Books Review Spotlight Best Fantasy Book of the Year Award 2006. A Twist of Fate was a nominee for Best Time Travel P.E.A.R.L. Award for 2008. Creighton Manor won Honorable Mention P.E.A.R.L. Award 2009.

Her new passion is creating book covers for Western Trail Blazers and Rebecca J. Vickery Publishing. In her spare time, she reviews books for PNR-Paranormal Romance Reviews.

Whether your reading fancy is paranormal, historical or time travel, all her stories capture the rich array of emotions that accompany the most fabulous human phenomena—falling in love.



Visit the author at: http://www.kmnbooks.com/

Stop by her blog for Monday interviews, chats and contests at:

http://kmnbooks.blogspot.com/

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Joseph's 'Twas The Night Before Christmas

'TWAS THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS,
HE LIVED ALL ALONE,
IN A ONE BEDROOM HOUSE MADE OF
PLASTER AND STONE.

I HAD COME DOWN THE CHIMNEY
WITH PRESENTS TO GIVE,
AND TO SEE JUST WHO
IN THIS HOME DID LIVE.

I LOOKED ALL ABOUT,
A STRANGE SIGHT I DID SEE,
NO TINSEL, NO PRESENTS,
NOT EVEN A TREE.

NO STOCKING BY MANTLE,
JUST BOOTS FILLED WITH SAND,
ON THE WALL HUNG PICTURES
OF FAR DISTANT LANDS.

WITH MEDALS AND BADGES,
AWARDS OF ALL KINDS,
A SOBER THOUGHT
CAME THROUGH MY MIND.

FOR THIS HOUSE WAS DIFFERENT,
IT WAS DARK AND DREARY,
I FOUND THE HOME OF A SOLDIER,
ONCE I COULD SEE CLEARLY.

THE SOLDIER LAY SLEEPING,
SILENT, ALONE,
CURLED UP ON THE FLOOR
IN THIS ONE BEDROOM HOME.

THE FACE WAS SO GENTLE,
THE ROOM IN SUCH DISORDER,
NOT HOW I PICTURED
A UNITED STATES SOLDIER.

WAS THIS THE HERO
OF WHOM I'D JUST READ?
CURLED UP ON A PONCHO,
THE FLOOR FOR A BED?

I REALIZED THE FAMILIES
THAT I SAW THIS NIGHT,
OWED THEIR LIVES TO THESE SOLDIERS
WHO WERE WILLING TO FIGHT.

SOON ROUND THE WORLD,
THE CHILDREN WOULD PLAY,
AND GROWNUPS WOULD CELEBRATE
A BRIGHT CHRISTMAS DAY.

THEY ALL ENJOYED FREEDOM
EACH MONTH OF THE YEAR,
BECAUSE OF THE SOLDIERS,
LIKE THE ONE LYING HERE.

I COULDN'T HELP WONDER
HOW MANY LAY ALONE,
ON A COLD CHRISTMAS EVE
IN A LAND FAR FROM HOME.

THE VERY THOUGHT
BROUGHT A TEAR TO MY EYE,
I DROPPED TO MY KNEES
AND STARTED TO CRY.

THE SOLDIER AWAKENED
AND I HEARD A ROUGH VOICE,
"SANTA DON'T CRY,
THIS LIFE IS MY CHOICE;

I FIGHT FOR FREEDOM,
I DON'T ASK FOR MORE,
MY LIFE IS MY GOD,
MY COUNTRY, MY CORPS."

THE SOLDIER ROLLED OVER
AND DRIFTED TO SLEEP,
I COULDN'T CONTROL IT,
I CONTINUED TO WEEP.

I KEPT WATCH FOR HOURS,
SO SILENT AND STILL
AND WE BOTH SHIVERED
FROM THE COLD NIGHT'S CHILL.

I DIDN'T WANT TO LEAVE
ON THAT COLD, DARK, NIGHT,
THIS GUARDIAN OF HONOR
SO WILLING TO FIGHT.

THEN THE SOLDIER ROLLED OVER,
WITH A VOICE SOFT AND PURE,
WHISPERED, "CARRY ON SANTA,
IT'S CHRISTMAS DAY, ALL IS SECURE."

ONE LOOK AT MY WATCH,
AND I KNEW HE WAS RIGHT.
"MERRY CHRISTMAS MY FRIEND,
AND TO ALL A GOOD NIGHT."


This poem was written by a Marine stationed in Okinawa Japan. The following
is his request:

PLEASE. Would you do me the kind favor of sending this to as many people as
you can? Christmas will be coming soon and some credit is due to our U.S.
service men and women for our being able to celebrate these festivities.

Let's try in this small way to pay a tiny bit of what we owe. Make people
stop and think of our heroes, living and dead, who sacrifice themselves for
us. Please, do your small part to plant this small seed.

Joseph

Saturday, July 9, 2011

What's Christmas in July without a song?

Come on now - sing-a-along! Everyone knows this song.




Bekki sings this year round, even while she's at work.

What Christmas song sticks with you throughout the year?

Friday, July 8, 2011

Welcome to Christmas in July


Beat the heat,
Join our fun in the snow


CHRISTMAS in JULY



July 8th thru July 24th

For all of us who are kids at heart and love Christmas year round, a variety of authors and sites will be sharing holiday themed stories and titles, poetry, traditions, recipes, decorating tips, discounts, gifts, and a lot of fun. As a distraction from the heat, to win prizes, for early gift shopping, or just to be neighborly, we trust you'll drop in often and see what's happening during the next two weeks.





Please share the title of your favorite Christmas book or story, tell us your favorite thing about the holidays, share how hot it is where you are and how much you need SNOW, 
or just say Hi in the comment section. 
 On Monday, July 11th after Noon EST, two random commenters from this opening blog will win an ebook (Reader's Choice) from any Christmas holiday related story at Victory Tales Press, Western Trail Blazer, or Publishing by Rebecca J. Vickery
(If you comment as guest or anonymous please include email addy)
  For participating authors and dates here at HEA, 
please see the list in the right sidebar.
For more information drop by