I will be taking the next couple of weeks off from blogging to celebrate the holidays with my family, as I'm sure many of you will be doing. I'll start up in the new year, and look forward to hearing from readers, new and old. In the meantime, have a great holiday season!
While this is a topic that could be covered throughout the year, I’m going to tackle it for the holidays. First off, I loved my mom. As we both got older, we became friends beyond the mother/daughter relationship, all the way to her death in 2008. So, this title is not a bad statement. It’s just a surprise, especially this time of year.
Christmas when I was growing up was all about the family. Once December hit, my mom would nag my dad to put up the house lights. My sister and I would hang around him, probably hindering more than helping, waiting to see our house turn into a fairy castle. We’d watch as he tested the lights on the garage floor first, not understanding why he had to waste time doing that. Hurry up, we’d chant, though he’d explain patiently, year after year, why he checked them.
Now that my own sons are grown, I still bug my husband after Thanksgiving to put up the house lights, reminiscent of my mom. The strands are lower now, not following the roofline like when we were young and foolish enough to climb to the highest rung of the ladder, but we continue to put up house lights, just as our parents did, and my married son does the same, now that he has a house.
Besides nagging my dad, my mom had her own Christmas chores to do. For one, she decorated the inside of the house. Every year, we’d help drag in the boxes marked “Christmas Decorations” in faded black ink, and begin to unfurl the tissue paper that surrounded each of the beloved pieces we’d said good bye to the past year.
There was the wind-up angel that sat on the black-and-white TV, her wings a little curled, yet the song “Silent Night” still chimed clearly when her base was twisted as tight as it could go. And, here is the strand of plastic holly with shiny apples to hang on the wall down the hallway, and the matching candle wreath for the kitchen table.
I still have the wreath and wall hanging. They occupy the same places in my house as they did in my childhood home. The angel has long since been discarded. She no longer played her hymn, probably because I overwound her, and her wings and skirt became casualties of moths over the years.
I decorate as my mom did, hanging the red-and-white stockings, and putting treasured pieces my sons made when they were little all around the house. I’ve added to the festive arrangements, like my collection of nutcrackers on the hearth, and I can thank my mom for instilling in me the importance of transforming my home into a winter wonderland for all to enjoy.
Right around the fifteenth of the month, my parents would bundle us into the family station wagon and head to the downtown tree lot. My sister and I would run through the “forest,” while Bing Crosby’s “White Christmas” belted out from the overhead speakers hastily attached to wooden poles. We would search for the perfect tree and, when we found it, would shout for our parents to come see. Then we would jump up and down until they gave their approval, or sent us searching for another.
Once we all agreed on the tree, the lot attendants would use the twine my dad brought, and tie it to the roof of our car. The twine would go through the front windows, anchoring our treasure. Then we would drive home s-l-o-w-l-y, so afraid the tree would slide to one side or the other, and break branches. Though it often slid, no branches ever came off.
My dad would always hose off the dead needles, so we had to wait until the next evening before he brought it in. And then the decorating began, with silver garland, and strand after strand of colored, glass bulbs that could render a whole section of the tree dark if one light went out. I can still remember my mom’s strident “Roy!” when my dad hung the lights haphazardly, or got too many of the same color bulbs together. I think my sister and I might have learned some of the most common swear words during tree decorating.
Not too much has changed in my own family. I play Christmas music and make hot chocolate while we decorate our tree, which can be green or flocked, depending on my mood. My husband is more of a perfectionist than my dad, so the lights don’t elicit much argument, except when he wants to put them on the branch tips, instead of zig-zagging them throughout the tree. My younger son, the one in the Army and married, is the best tree-light installer. He does a beautiful job, and I’m jealous that his new wife gets to enjoy his endeavors now.
Lastly, the icicles. Do you put them on your trees? It’s a hot debate in our family, with me being in the minority of wanting them on the tree. My husband’s family threw them on, until the green of the tree was masked by the foil glow of clumps of icicles. My mom and sister put them on our tree, strand after strand, painstakingly applied until just the right amount was used. I do it now, usually after everyone has departed. I put on some Christmas music and gently dress the tree with icicles, my childhood memories keeping me company.
Christmas reminds us of our childhood, and we can’t help but relate to our parents when we celebrate with our own families. It’s not bad to see our parent looking back at us in the mirror. It’s the connection to our past, and the bridge to our future. Perhaps Charles Dickens was on to something when he created the ghosts of the past, present, and future.
Do you see your parents in the way you celebrate Christmas? I’d love to hear.
I love reading about couples where one is a "Geek," maybe because I was a bit of one in high school. Lauren was the perfect geek. I loved how she thought in terms of science, and cells and whatnot. I liked how, even though she was a geek, she had a sexual past. And lastly, I liked how Mike saw the non-geekiness in her. True love, ha ha!
Mike was a great hero. Sexy, smart, and flawed. His desire to keep his family together was well-written; I could feel his angst, and empathized with him. I enjoyed the differences between the brothers, similar to real-life families. I liked the way the author threw in bits of his past, so that I wasn't bombarded with an info-dump.
The mystery was good; it kept me guessing, which is always a plus. The ending played out well, though it was just a tad farfetched on that person's abilities of subterfuge. I may be splitting hairs; I read a lot of mysteries. I also found there was a lot of internal dialogue. I prefer dialogue between characters. I get bogged down in a lot of narrative, and tend to skim. Hence, the four star rating.
All in all, I enjoyed Deadly Chemistry, and will read the next one in this series. With two brothers, I can only imagine their stories will make great sequels. Hot guys, smart women? Heck, yeah! (Click on the cover image to get your Amazon copy)
Author, Teri Anne Stanley
Teri Anne Stanley has been writing since she could hold a crayon--though learning to read was a huge turning point in her growth as a writer. Teri's first stories involved her favorite Saturday morning cartoon characters, followed by her favorite teen idols. She has also authored a recipe column (The Three Ingredient Gourmet), and scientific articles (Guess which was more interesting!). Now she writes fun, sexy romance filled love, angst and nekkid parts.
Teri's career has included sex therapy for rats, making posing suits for female body builders, and helping amputee amphibians recover to their full potential. She currently supplements her writing income as a neuroscience research assistant. Along with a variety of teenagers and dogs, she and Mr. Stanley live just outside of Sugartit, which is—honest to God—between Beaverlick, and Rabbit Hash, Kentucky.
I love Christmas romances, especially novellas. They give you hope, happiness, and satisfaction, all in a short read during a busy time of year. The Christmas Angel delivers on all counts.
First of all, I loved Cade and Molly, and Susie. They were likeable characters who I grew to care about in a short space of time. Molly was a fresh heroine, a single mom in a truly believable situation. Ditto with Cade. I kept imagining Scott Eastwood, Clint Eastwood's son, as Cade, which was very agreeable. I found the tragedy in his past to be heartbreaking and realistic, as well as his reaction to it. I could empathize with him, which made the story even better for me.
Usually, it is very hard for authors to make readers buy into the imaginary world of a novella. There isn't enough time for them to build a relationship with the characters. Not so in The Christmas Angel. How Molly became a single mom was dealt with quickly, and so contemporary that I could understand how it could have happened. The same with Cade's past. I was invested in their lives by page three.
I love Ms. Gibson's writing. I always find her settings masterfully described. I have been to Napa numerous times, and feel like I'm there when I read her series. I felt the nip in the air, and could see the town clearly in my mind. Great atmosphere for a Christmas novella. I love that her characters could be friends of mine. They have a warmth that transcends the written page.
The Christmas Angel is my favorite St Helena Vineyard story of hers. Maybe it's the time of year, or maybe its the world she created, but I wanted the story to continue. I didn't have enough of Cade, Molly, and Susie.
If you're looking for a feel-good Christmas romance, you should pick up The Christmas Angel. You'll feel happy and in the Christmas spirit after reading it.
The hood of her car was up and Cade was bent over the engine. Her gaze lingered on his taut butt in his faded jeans. She looked away before he caught her checking him out.
“How’s it going? Find anything else I don’t want to know about?” She kept her tone light and friendly. No use flirting. Cade had made it plain he wasn’t interested.
“Nope. The rest looks fine.” He reached down inside the crowded engine compartment.
“Can you hand me the three-eighths socket wrench on the workbench?”
“That’s why I’m here.”
They worked side by side until the engine was thoroughly checked and a new starter was installed. Few words were exchanged while Cade focused on the job.
“Get in and let’s see if it works.”
She slid into in the driver’s seat and turned the key. The engine fired right away. Relief washed over her. She couldn’t afford a new car. One less thing to worry about now.
“How much do I owe you for the starter?”
“Take it up with Matt. It’s used, so he probably won’t charge much.”
“And I got free labor. So how about I buy you dinner over at the Napa Grand?”
Damn, why did she ask?
He looked down and scowled. “I’m not exactly dressed for the restaurant at the Napa Grand. How about a raincheck?”
She was not going to have embarrassing moment number three. “You have to eat, Cade. It’s nearly seven o’clock. Susie is at a sleepover so I don’t have to rush home.”
He sighed and ran his fingers through his light brown hair, shoving a lock off his forehead. “If you make it the Spigot, you’ve got yourself a deal.”
She didn’t realize she was holding her breath until he agreed. “Great. I’ll move the car out to the street and we’ll walk over.”
She parked the car while Cade locked the garage. The temperature had dropped after the rain and a few stars appeared overhead. They strolled down Main Street where colored lights outlined window displays and large wreaths with red bows hung from light posts. While mainly a bar, the Spigot did have a limited menu and was very casual. Waving to Frankie and Nate DeLuca seated near the dart board, they found a quiet table in a corner.
Pamela Gibson, who also writes non-fiction books as Pamela Hallan-Gibson, was raised in San Juan Capistrano, California, just a short distance from the Pacific Ocean. She was fascinated by the old Spanish Mission in the center of town and grew up wandering its ruins and dreaming up stories about the people who once lived there.
She began reading romance novels while waiting for the birth of her son, David. By the time her daughter, Shelley, came along, she was thoroughly hooked and wanted to write them. But life sometimes gets in the way and she put off her dream while working, first as a newspaper reporter, and then in public agencies. She eventually moved to the wine country where she learned to grow grapes and make wine.
Today she mostly lives on a 32-foot boat, but gets back to the Northern California wine country whenever she can. She still loves to walk on a beach barefoot, but has added warm fragrant bubble baths and well-balanced wine to her favorite things. While writing, she loves to munch on chocolate and keeps her galley well-stocked.
Whether you're an early California history buff or someone who loves a good romance, she hopes you enjoy her books. Be sure and leave a review.
Just as New Year’s makes people think of resolutions to fulfill in the coming year, Thanksgiving compels us to consider what we are thankful for this past year. I’m no different. I sit here now, thinking about my blessings, and when I count them, they are many. Here are just a few.
I’m thankful for my family. It has dwindled over the past ten years, but the roots of love are strong. My dad, at ninety-five, is still going strong. He suffered a fall a couple months ago and bruised a few ribs, but hospice has brought him back to full health. I haven’t been able to go see him while I’ve been in a wheelchair, but talking to him on the phone brings a sense of peace to me.
I’m thankful for my sons. Though they aren’t vocal in their love for me, they do things that show they love me. My married son and his wife are serving their first Thanksgiving, and my doctor doesn’t want me travelling to Monterey because of my unhealed foot. When I cried about it, my son told me there would be other Thanksgivings, and besides, they don’t know what the heck they’re doing, so it might not be the best dinner!
His comment made me laugh, which was his intent. They understand that I got my foot done now so that I could dance at their formal wedding in March. I asked for leftovers, just the same, since my older son is still driving up there to represent us. They will have a good time, and I will miss them terribly, though I know they love me. I’m sure the dinner will be a smashing success.
I’m thankful for my health, bunion surgery notwithstanding. Yes, it’s taking me longer to heal than the last time, and yes, I hate my inactivity at this wonderful time of the year, but at least I’m otherwise healthy. And, when the foot is mended, I will be able to walk better and longer than before, without pain. I’m just not very patient.
Lastly, I’m thankful for my husband. He has been my rock through all my life, but especially at this trying stage. Since my surgery, he’s made it a point to get me out in the mall, in stores, or through the neighborhood for walks, just to keep my spirits lifted. He’s cooked for me, cleaned for me, even changed my bandages. If that doesn’t spell devotion, I don’t know what does. Heck, he’s even watched Hallmark movies with me!
I have much to be thankful for this year, even if this Thanksgiving will be a quiet one for us. Everyone I hold dear is healthy and happy. I may not be able to travel to see my married son this holiday, or even go to my Dad, but I can always say the words “I love you.” Those three words cross all barriers, be they unhealed surgeries or hundreds of miles. I hope you have a blessed Thanksgiving, too.
Tell me how you’ll be spending the holiday. I’m living vicariously right now.
This weekend has been a lost one for me. My husband drove up to Monterey to help our married, Army son put in a backyard for his doggies. My other son, who still lives with us, met a girl online and went out with her and discovered she and he have lots in common. There will be more dates. But, me? I sat here in my wheelchair and twiddled my thumbs.
First off, even though I got my cast removed this past week, the surgery site hadn’t healed completely, so I couldn’t resume walking. Secondly, I finished my work in progress and submitted it to my publisher. Now I’m in the waiting game. What makes it more difficult is that I don’t know what to work on next. Do I start something new, or revise something else I wrote in earlier times? I don’t know.
It’s a bittersweet feeling when an author finishes writing a book. There’s elation to have the story completed, and there is anxiety that, once submitted, will it be accepted. And, lastly, where do I go from here?
I just spent five months of my life in the Old West, rewriting a romance I first penned in 2011, when I didn’t know a thing about writing except that I liked it. It took a lot of blood, sweat, and tears to make it into a novel worth publishing. And now it’s finished.
While I wait to see if my publisher likes it, what do I do? I don’t have any romantic plots hammering in my head, begging to be written down. I miss the western characters that have been my imaginary friends since May, and don’t have any replacements. I’m lost.
That’s not to say I don’t have irons in the fire. I have a contemporary romance coming out in April, 2018. If the western is accepted, it might also debut next year, so I have 2018 covered, as far as publishing. However, what’s next?
For the past few years, I’ve gotten up and worked on whatever was my latest romance. I enjoy that morning burst of creativity. Unfortunately, now all I do is cruise social media, going down the internet rabbit hole, wasting lots of time that could be spent on plotting my next book, or editing a previously written one. I can’t seem to make a decision.
I’ve always had trouble transitioning after finishing a novel. It’s like losing my friends when I write those two words, The End. I mope about the house, reread what I wrote, and get a lot of cleaning done that was neglected during my writing phase. But I’ve always had a story simmering in the back of my mind, waiting for me to get over my sulkiness and write it. Not this time.
Maybe it’s because of my foot surgery, and the fact I know I will be busy with physical therapy. Maybe it’s the approaching holidays, and the knowledge that those will keep me occupied. I don’t know. But I miss escaping into an imaginary world of my own creation. I miss that powerful zing that rushes through me as I put an idea onto the screen, that feeling of excitement as I see the story take shape. I miss creating.
While writing this, I continue to thrash around ideas in my head. I still haven’t come to a conclusion. Writing a short Christmas story would surely satisfy my creative need, but what happens when edits for my next book come back to me? Likewise, if they don’t come back to me until January, I’ve just wasted a lot of good writing time. Decision, decisions.
Have you ever been in this position, a creative slump? It doesn’t have to be writing. It could be drawing, or painting, or pottery, or even, cooking. How did you jump start your creativity? I’d love to know.
What a lovely romance about the father of our country! A friend of mine recommended this book, and I'm so glad she did. I love reading about Colonial times. I would dearly like to write one, but the facts are so immense I'm not sure I could do the time period justice, as Mary Higgins Clark did.
The story goes back and forth in time, from age thirteen, all the way up to when his second term in office ends. While some reviewers have complained about it, I actually liked it. I enjoyed seeing how the love he and his wife had matured over time. Besides, every chapter was short, which made reading "just one more chapter" easy to do.
I loved all the little facts that Clark included, down to the materials used in Patsy's clothes, to the furniture and draperies, even to why she was called Patsy, instead of Martha. I loved how human George was in the story. He always looks so dour in pictures.
The love story was sweet and tender. Patsy and George had no idea how much they loved each other, but the author shows us in lots of little ways. I never knew he married a widow, or that they never had any children of their own. I admire how George took Patsy's children as his own, even though there were some trying times between the couple about child-rearing.
George's own childhood, and his Puritan mother, are detailed, explaining why he is so serious, but I liked the touches of normalcy that the author added about his father, and about how George vowed not to be like his mother.
I found the fact that he imagined himself in love with his friend's wife stunning. Washington is always treated like a god in history. It was fascinating to hear his thoughts, and his human frailties, as told by the author. Very realistic.
I never knew he contracted smallpox, and that was why he has the pock-marked skin. I wonder if smallpox is why he and Patsy never conceived any children?
The romance is sweet, and completely behind doors. In fact, they only share kisses and hugs to the reader. While I usually enjoy some sexual description, this was perfect for this book. Not missed in the least.
This might have been the author's first book, and there are little mistakes, like a few pov shifts mid-scene, but I thoroughly enjoyed the book, and recommend it to Colonial fans.
You will love the way the history of that particular time is described, as well as how real George Washington becomes. You won't think of him as cold or austere any longer.
The wheelchair allows me a freedom the other two modes of transportation couldn’t. I can take care of myself without relying on my husband or son, except for going outside, where there are steps. I roll into the bathroom by myself, can make my morning tea, feed the dog, and open the house up if it’s a nice day, all without help.
Luckily, standing on one foot for any length of time is uncomfortable, so doing dishes is out. I don’t even try to do them, and certainly don’t miss that chore. I do load and empty the dishwasher, with my son putting away the high glasses. And, while my husband does the laundry, since it’s out in the garage, I fold the clothes, and put away my own. I can even make the bed on occasion. His retired life has not changed too much, and makes him happy to help me.
The one whose life changed the most, besides mine, is my dog. As soon as I came home from the surgery in my chariot, my dog ran and hid under the dining room table. He heard my voice, but all he could see was those big wheels. It took him nearly a week to get over his fear (he’s a Sheltie; fear is his middle name).
Now, he puts his front paws in my lap and lets me hug him. He runs circles around me, and I often stop quickly, so I don’t run over his little feet because he’s so close to me. I couldn’t bear it if he didn’t want to be near me, so I’m glad he’s gotten used to the chair.
Of course, I’m not saying my last eight weeks have been all roses and unicorns. It hasn’t. Going to the bathroom is like planning a covert attack. Try getting onto the toilet using only one leg, and you’ll understand. Getting into our high bed was a fall waiting to happen. My husband and son finally took the box springs out, and I can get into the bed much more easily.
Maneuvering around the house is great, since we have wood floors, but our bedroom is carpeted. Propelling myself through it is like moving through quicksand. I power down to a crawl. By nightfall, I sleep like the dead, partially because I’m so tired from hauling myself around by my arms.
Lastly, drop something small on the floor, and then try to pick it up from your wheelchair. It’s impossible! You either roll over it and crush it, or you’re out of breath by the time you retrieve it from bending over so far. I have one of those grabber-thingies, but small items slip right through its grasp.
A few weeks ago, I was with a friend, who lost her keys. She tore the place upside down, looking for them. While sitting in my chair, I noticed the keys sitting on a quilt that was flung over a pony wall. They were at my eye level, and I was able to save the day! The same goes for the kitchen table and counter. I can tell when they both need wiping; they are right at my vantage point.
I am very happy that my time in a wheelchair is coming to a close, though I am thankful for the freedom it gave me. I didn’t have to rely on people as much. I maintained some semblance of freedom throughout my recuperation.
Next up: my new mode of transportation. What do you think?
Have you had a similar experience? I’d love to hear about it!
No, I haven't found the perfect man, though I married the perfect man for me. What I'm talking about today are the traits we women think are important in a man, and if any of them show up in my latest hero, Captain Andre Dubois of The Pirate Bride's Holiday Masquerade.
You first meet him in my novel The Pirate’s Bride, when he is forced to marry Sophie Bellard, a spitfire with whom he eventually falls in love. He’s an extreme Alpha male of whom readers, and Sophie, can’t seem to get enough. Read on for a few reasons you might want him for yourself.
1. He’s sexy as hell, and the things he doesn’t know in the bedroom wouldn’t even fill a thimble. He’s willing to try anything, yet he’s patient with his much more inexperienced wife. He makes sure she’s satisfied before himself, and he doesn’t roll over and snore once he’s finished. He actually engages in pillow talk. He’s even knowledgeable in birth control, something most men didn’t even consider back then. Andre truly is a man ahead of his time.
2. Andre treats a woman equally. That isn’t to say he doesn’t go all Alpha and demand she follow some of his rules. He is a captain, after all. However, he encourages Sophie to learn to protect herself, to learn how to get more speed from her ship, and, most importantly, to face an enemy from her past. He wants her to be the best person she can be, regardless of her sex.
3. He’s faithful. Once a lady’s man, Andre only has eyes for Sophie now. He’s so in love with her he wouldn’t dream of cheating on her, and gets angry when his father baits him about it. He has no qualms saying he thinks he would die without her. While some men balk at saying those three important words, Andre tells Sophie he loves her numerous times a day.
4. He’s rich. Even though that’s not a requirement in loving a man, it’s still a good quality. An even better quality is that he’s generous. What’s his is hers. Even though he lives during a time when women were the property of men, he shares the wealth. His home, his plunder, and his money is Sophie’s for the asking. He looks at riches to be enjoyed, not hoarded away. Besides, he likes the fact that she can pillage and plunder as well as he can, which goes back to treating women equally.
5. He’s willing to do things he doesn’t like. Have you ever asked your husband to go to an opera, or a musical, and he flatly refuses? In The Pirate Bride’s Holiday Masquerade, Sophie wants to throw a Christmas masquerade ball, complete with minuets, and Andre agrees. He may not be happy about it, actually hates to dance, but he agrees to the shindig because he sees how important the party is to his wife.
Captain Andre Dubois is an unusual man. On the one hand, he’s an Alpha male who takes pride in his abilities in the bedroom, and on the open sea. Yet readers see a tender, loving side to him whenever he is with Sophie. Add the two halves of his personality together, and you can understand why it is easy for readers to fall in love with Captain Andre Dubois of The Pirate Bride’s Holiday Masquerade.
Which one of these five traits do you think is the most important in a man?
Readers love a great book for a bargain price, yet some think a cheaper price indicates the book isn't very well-written. Authors are always in a quandary about what is the right price.
My recent release, The Pirate Bride's Holiday Masquerade, is a novella, coming in at under one hundred pages. To me, it was a no-brainer. Price the book at .99. And, of course, I believe it's a quality read. However, don't take my word for it. Bloggers and reviewers are already giving it great reviews, and it hasn't been live for twenty-four hours! Take a visit to these sites and make up your own mind.
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Just starting out in this writing process. It takes over a person's life. After all, there are no set hours, no specific place to go, no definitive wardrobe. But the worlds you can visit? They make up for everything!