Monday, December 31, 2007

How to do nothing at work and still get paid

I saw this months ago and thought it was hilarious, so I found it again today, since many are working today on New Year's Eve. I know a couple of people like this, don't you?

Saturday, December 29, 2007

TiVo Alert!

When a preacher (Kevin Sorbo) defends a local town from greedy land-barons, his church is destroyed and his family is killed. Now known simply as “The Preacher,” he picks up his long-forgotten gun, leaves town, and heads out into the desert to begin a new life as a bounty hunter. Returning years later, he discovers his town has been overrun by the same scoundrels who destroyed his quiet existence. The Preacher can no longer stand by and watch as innocent people suffer the same fate as he. Justice must be served.


Friday, December 28, 2007

Rachel Ray

Rachael Ray went from scraping together the rent as a candy counter girl to a multi-millionaire with her own talk show, cooking show(s), magazine, and books that have sold more than 4 million copies. She's also spawned a lingo all her own. (EVOO for Extra Virgin Olive Oil has entered the popular vernacular). All this in a little under ten years.

Love her or hate her, Rachael Ray, she of the perky smile and Girl-next-door demeanor, gets major points for translating her love of cooking into a multi-million media empire. People can't seem to get enough of her "regular gal" persona. But her bubbly personality masks some serious business savvy.

Using her mentor Oprah Winfrey as a blueprint, Ray has expanded out of the kitchen this year into many other avenues. Her one-hour daytime talk show, The Rachel Ray Show, is patterned after the perennially popular Oprah Winfrey Show, and was the only syndicated daytime talk show launched in 2007 to be renewed. Her Food Network shows continue to be among the most popular on the channel.

She also cooked up some lucrative endorsement deals with name brands such as Dunkin Donuts and Nabisco -- now owned by Kraft Foods (NYSE: KFT). These media venues help feed her magazine (Every Day with Rachel Ray) and cookbook sales.

These are like the cherry on top of the $16 million Ray took home this year, according to Forbes magazine. By some estimates, Ray's net worth is touching $100 million, but that's hard to verify. One thing's for sure, this gal doesn't need to get out of the kitchen; she's proving that she can stand the heat.

Christmas Pic

My daughter LeighAnn sent this out in her Christmas cards. Is this a hoot or what?

Harlequin Enterprises to End NEXT and Everlasting As Stand-Alone Series

Harlequin Enterprises announced October 2nd both NEXT and Everlasting Love will "end as stand-alone series with their January 2008 publications. Everlasting will continue as a sub-brand within Superromance, and we will be looking at trade-format opportunities for Next and for specific books from the Everlasting inventory."

The Everlasting Love titles will publish as a sub-brand under Superromance beginning in early 2008, with approximately one released per month. Harlequin hopes Superromance's broader distribution and shelf presence will expose more readers to Everlasting Love. Additional distribution opportunities will be looked at, including possible publication in trade format.

Harlequin NEXT will cease publication of the mass-market series as of February 2008, although discussions are under way as to how to keep the "brand alive and growing in a distribution other than on the series racks...we are looking very closely at the opportunity to publish NEXT in the trade-size format ... We are looking forward to creating a program that will enhance the NEXT brand and further garner sales and consumer attention that NEXT needs."

Randall Toye, global editorial director, series, says, "We are firm believers in the content of both of these programs. Many wonderful storytellers came to have a relationship with Harlequin for the first time because of the editorial scope of these programs, and many seasoned romance authors were able to challenge themselves and deliver some incredible novels. We are committed to publishing vibrant and relevant fiction for the growing demographic of women over the age of 35, and feel that the stories captured in Everlasting Love and Next are an important part of that commitment."

Thursday, December 27, 2007

The Rancher's Doorstep Baby by Patricia Thayer

Cole Parrish arrived at the Bar H ranch to work. That was all. Not to settle down, and certainly not to be tempted by the stunning redhead running the ranch all by herself.

Now a little baby has arrived on the doorstep—and Rachel has gone from auntie to mother overnight. She needs all the help she can get…but Cole can't stay.

He never promised anything.

Yet Rachel's heart is stolen by the sight of the brooding rancher cradling the tiny infant, and she has to ask herself—if he's so set on leaving, why is Cole still here?

Drawing for a Free Book!

I drew a name from the faithful visitors who stopped by over the holiday week, and Robyn gets a copy of Lisa Kleypas's SUGAR DADDY.

From Booklist
Money is tight while Liberty Jones is growing up in Welcome, Texas, but somehow she and her mother Diana manage. Having good friends like Miss Marva, Lucy Reyes, and especially Hardy Cates, on whom Liberty has a crush, helps. Then tragedy strikes and Liberty must take care of her younger sister and find a way to support them. Hard work and determination get Liberty through cosmetology school, then, while working in a Houston salon, she meets wealthy older businessman Churchill Travis, who offers her a job as his personal assistant. At first Liberty is reluctant to accept, especially since Churchill's son, Gage, seems to think she's a gold digger. Then, just as Liberty is settling into her new life and her initially frosty relationship with Gage is heating up and turning romantic, Hardy Cates, her first unrequited love, reappears. New York Times best-seller and RITA Award winner Kleypas moves from historical romance into contemporary women's fiction with an emotionally compelling and superbly satisfying tale of family, friendship, hope, and love. Writing with wit, wisdom, and warmth, Kleypas has created a book to treasure.
John Charles
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Knave's Honor by Margaret Moore

This is my friend Margaret's latest release:
Lady Elizabeth d'Averette chafes at the restrictions of a noblewoman's life, and her yearning for adventure seems to be coming true when she meets the remarkably handsome Sir Oliver de Leslille. But Sir Oliver is no true knight, and the handsome Irishman has other secrets, too. Soon Lizette finds herself embroiled in a rescue, as well as the chance to stop a treasonous conspiracy and protect her own family from men out to use them for their own evil schemes.

The Irishman who comes to Lizette's aid may be more honorable than many a knight, but he's still an outlaw. When they fulfill their mission to save his brother, her family, and the kingdom, they'll have to part...or will love -- and a clever thief and determined young woman -- find a way?

"Moore's medieval starts on an exciting note and maintains that sensation over the course of the whole book. She's created a great hero and heroine who take on a vile, well-written villain, and the love scenes, even though they're mild, add a great deal to the story."
-- Romantic Times



"Margaret Moore's name is synonymous with page-turning historical romances which sweep the reader back to the Medieval age..."

Nora Roberts Interview

You are such a prolific writer. How do you keep coming up with fresh ideas? —Carole Ramsay, Morris Plains NJ
Ideas are infinite—writers are hardwired to think that way. We keep it fresh by using new people, mixing character types and putting them in a different setting. It's always the first book all over again, but one idea can be told a thousand different ways. There are 88 keys on the piano, but you can make an infinite amount of music from those keys.

Why should people read romance novels? —Mahtot Teka, Addis Ababa
They are a celebration of relations, finding love, overcoming obstacles and making commitments. I think that is something very worthy of respect. They're not just about naked pirates, although what's wrong with a naked pirate now and again?

How do you react to critics who say romance novels are trashy? —Rachel Malaguit, Manila
I think it is narrow-minded for anyone to say this entire genre is trash or fluff. In every genre you'll find trash. Not every romance [novel] published is wonderful—it would be very naive for me to say so. Some may edge over to trashy, but it really is in the eye of the individual reader.

Are you a romantic? —Laurie Crane, Baltimore
It depends on your definition.I don't think I am a traditional romantic who thinks about candlelight dinners and wonders if my husband is going to bring me flowers, though I'm delighted if he does. I'm more practical-minded. I find it incredibly romantic that my husband does the dishes.

Many of your books are set in beautiful, descriptive settings, like Ireland. Do you always visit these places before writing? —Komal Mehta, Mumbai
Sometimes. I always go in my head. With the Internet you can go anywhere and research anything. When I started writing, I had a 3- and a 6-year-old, and it was a little difficult [to say], "Sorry, kids, got to go! Here are the SpaghettiOs. [Put them] in the microwave, and you'll be fine."

Are your female heroines based on you or someone you know? —Julie Lavoie, Montreal
They're certainly not based on me—that would be boring. I'm not nearly as adventurous, brave or unselfish as any of my female leads. I don't know anyone that interesting either. My job is to make them up.

You write romantic suspense novels under the pen name J.D. Robb. Why? Do you get a secret thrill out of it? —Clint Hues, Quinton, VA
It's marketing. I write very quickly, and publishers can't publish just me—they want other authors too. So I agreed to try it if I could do something different. These books are edgier and much different from what I do under my own name, so putting it under a pseudonym helps brand it for the reader.

Children rarely read for fun. How can we encourage interest in recreational reading? —Tricia Munson, Highland Heights, OH
It's up to the parents to not only allow but encourage reading fun books. People tend to push books that are good for you, like broccoli instead of ice cream. But if you let them read Spider-Man—I sure did—they are going to move on to Ray Bradbury and Stephen King.

Why aren't there more successful male romance novelists? —J.R. Repich, Miami
They're emotion-based books, so perhaps they appeal more to women—although a lot of men will read them if they're sitting at home on the coffee table. It goes back to reading what you enjoy, and women enjoy romance as a genre more than men do.

Is it true you are a bad speller? —Andy Chu, Washington
I'm terrible! [Laughs.] I'm better than when I started, but thank God for spell-check!

Did you ever receive negative feedback from editors before your career took off? —Claudia Nelson, Hydesville, CA
I can't say negative, but I certainly had plenty of rejections. It is very rare that you sell the first book right away.

Do you ever get sick of writing and want to try something else? —Ian Kachemov, Highland, MD
I have no idea what I would do if I wasn't a writer. It is the best job in the world. I never get sick of it. I think you can get tired—I know I do—of the business around the writing, but not of the actual process of sitting down at the keyboard and working. If you don't love it, I don't know why you would do it, because it is very hard work. It is also solitary work—your butt is in the chair for many hours a day. But, for me, that is exactly what I want to be doing.

What is your best advice to people who are trying to become novelists? —Dan Munoz, St. Louis, Miss.
Do your homework. If you are lacking in any of the nuts and bolts skills, structure, punctuation or grammar—study up. Also, write what you read. You can't write well what you don't read for pleasure. If it doesn't entertain you it's not going to entertain anyone else. Join Romance Writers of America. And don't say, 'I'm going to write when I find the time'—that's the most irritating thing I ever hear. Nobody finds time, you have to make it.

TIME's interview with the author continues on

Brightening Stainless Steel Flatware

My favorite set of flatware was my grandmother's and it's stainless steel, but has dulled over the years. I just searched and found this tip from Heloise:

The old-fashioned hint is to soak the flatware in hot water mixed with a splash of ammonia (one teaspoon per gallon). Rinse with clear, hot water and dry well with a clean, soft cloth. But today specially formulated stainless steel cleaners or polishes can do the job too. To prevent your flatware from discoloring in the future, rinse the pieces immediately after use. Foods like lemon, salt, mayonnaise or mustard can cause corrosion or pitting. Your stainless steel can be put in the dishwasher (although not with sterling silver in the same compartment), but hand-washing is better for preserving the shine. Follow these hints: Don't soak for long periods; never pour detergent directly on the pieces; wash in hot water; dry immediately.

IDK, my BFF, baking soda?

Everyone knows that baking soda is aces at keeping fridges smelling fresh, but who knew just how many other things it could do around the house?

A pinch of baking soda in a gallon of freshly-brewed iced tea takes out bad-tasting tannins and prevents cloudiness.

When you're soaking dried beans or cooking cabbage, add a dash to the water to make them more digestible.

To keep tomato soup from curdling, sprinkle some soda on the boiling tomatoes and skim off the white foam before adding milk or cream.

Two tablespoons added to boiling corn and cauliflower keeps the veggies crisp.

Fido's fur a little funky? Sprinkle baking soda onto his coat and brush or comb-through for dry (and drama-free!) odor protection between baths.

Who knows where that chew toy has been? Give plastic and rubber toys a dunkin a solution of 4 tablespoons of baking soda dissolved in 1 quart warm water, and sprinkle fabric toys with baking soda, brushed off after 15 minutes. Your pet may not care that they're chemical free, but you'll feel purrfectly pleased.

Don't give oral health the brush-off. Soak retainers, mouthguards and dentures in a baking soda and warm water solution (2 tsp to a drinking glass full) and keep your choppers feeling clean.

Go for a natural glow! Make a paste of 3 parts baking soda to one part water for an effective and inexpensive skin exfoliant. Just apply it to your skin with fingertips or a washcloth in a gentle, circular motion and rinse. It also works well

Mix a little soda into your shampoo to strip out product build-up, or rub it into your conditioner for extra-healthy, non-split-prone tips.

Apply a paste of baking soda and water to take the ouch out of bug bites, bee stings, sunburns, rashes, poison ivy, or pour in bathwater for relief from the itch of chicken pox and measles.

Drink 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda in 1/2 a glass of water to relieve acid indigestion and heartburn, or use it as a mouthwash to soothe canker sore pain.

Run a baking soda and water solution through your coffee maker, followed by two fresh-water brew cycles to keep your java tasting tip-top.

Zap nasty cutting board tastes and smells but scrubbing them with a mixture of baking soda and salt. It'll cut grease, won't dry out the wood, and will also take garlic and onion smells off your skin.

Use a damp paper towel and a sprinkling of soda to remove tea and punch stains from china and plastic.

Neutralize spilled battery acid in a flash with a handful of baking soda.

Baking soda on a wet wash cloth makes an excellent bumper buffer when little scuffs appear. It also shines up bike chrome.

Use a soft brush and a baking soda and water paste to clean efficiency-killing grease and grime from your car's battery.

Baking soda's a natural fire-stopper. Keep a box close at hand when you're working with live fire of any kind. A handful can put out grease, electrical, wood, and fuel fires.

It's also great on the grate. Sprinkle it on the grill, or make a paste with water, and scrub grit off the grill without the danger of adding nasty cleaning chemicals to your food.

Ewwwww! No one likes reeking of smoke, sweat or spit-up. Rub baking soda directly on baby spit-up to nix the smell quickly. Soak sweat-drenched headbands, hats and gloves or smoky clothes in a baking soda solution before they hit the washing machine. Or, if you're pressed for time, sprinkle it on clothing for a quick odor mask, and wash when you get a chance.

Shoes can smell a bit iffy after you've been wearing them all day. Once you've kicked them off, stick a small cloth pouch of baking soda in the toe overnight to tame any icky odors.

Ew! Mildew! Keep fungus, black spot and powdery mildew off your precious plants by mixing baking soda, horticultural oil and soap and applying it to affected leaves. It's also effective on rose leaves. Just add 1 tsp of soda and a few drops of dishwashing soap to a gallon of water, and spray once a week, and after it rains.

No kidding -- baking soda's great for playtime. Mix 1 1/4 cups of water, 2 cups of baking soda and 1 cup of cornstarch for a non-toxic modeling clay. Add a dash of food coloring for extra fun.

And if your pint-sized Picassos happen to express themselves with crayon on the walls, make a thin paste of water and baking soda and apply it to an old toothbrush. The "art" should scrub right off.

Fill a clear, glass container with 3 parts water and one part vinegar. Sprinkle in one tsp of baking soda veeerrrry slowly, and wait for the bubbles to settle, after they have, add a second teaspoon. Once those have settled, add a few drops of food coloring, and watch how they move. Then, drop in small kitchen items like raisins, grains of rice, halved grapes, pieces of veggies and spaghetti to demonstrate how different kinds of matter have different levels of buoyancy. Science CAN be fun!

Monday, December 24, 2007

The Great Christmas Tree Tour 2007: Brenda

Brenda (Mickey) sent us pictures of her tree, her Mickey-shaped wreath, ornaments and her cabinet with her snowmen.

Thanks, Brenda!

Christmas Tree Tips and Decorations

This tree is decoated with teacups and silver spoons! I may have to do this one of thee years. Lovely, isn't it?

The Grat Christmas Tree Tour 2007: Kayla

Thanks, Kayla, for sharing pictures of your tree!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Winter Trees

The trees were so beautiful one morning this week, I went back home for my camera.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Everything But a Groom - Holly Jacobs

I fell in love with this cover (I already adored the author) and asked my friend Holly to talk a little about the book.

Hi, Cheryl and friends!

Okay, here’s a confession...I love writing older ladies. Truly. I spent a lot of time with my grandmother. For years we lived in the apartment above hers and she was...well, opinionated would be a polite way to describe her! Here’s the thing, there’s something so utterly refreshing in an older lady’s willingness to say what’s on her mind. They don’t mince least my grandmother didn’t. If you annoy her she said so. I aspire to be like her and the other amazing older ladies I know when I get older. Maybe that’s why I’ve included an older generation of women in so many of my books...they’re who I want to grow up to be.

My new Everything But... trilogy from Avalon Book features the family’s grandmother, Vancy Salo...Nana to her family. And Nana’s got a problem. You see, everyone in Hungary knows that words have power. And in a moment of anger, Nana accidentally cursed her own family to disastrous weddings. Lightening strikes. Sinking boats. Not one of her children manage a wedding unscathed. And now her grandchildren are starting to marry. All Nana wants to do is see the curse broken with her granddaughter and namesake, Vancy’s wedding. Unfortunately, the wedding isn’t just a’s canceled. It’s hard to have a wedding without a groom. And when the paparazzi catches wind of The Salo Family Wedding Curse, things go from bad to worse for Vancy...and poor Nana.

The wonderful thing about writing first book was knowing I’d get to spend three books with Nana, as all three of her grandchildren try to deal with her curse...and the fact she’s trying to undo it. Sometimes they can’t tell which is worse, the curse itself, or Nana’s attempts to de-curse the family.

It was fun writing about this big, loving Hungarian family. I’m not Hungarian, but my stepfather is. I remember going to a Hungarian picnic here in town. They taught us to make this sandwich that involved slab bacon cooked over an open fire, its drippings allowed to go on a huge chunk of bread, then the bacon and some sliced onion were used to make the sandwich. I didn’t think I’d like it, but it was surprisingly good. That was my one real Hungarian experience. The other recipes and the few Hungarian endearments were researched. I’m hoping I got them all right. My intent was to pay homage to this wonderful country. I especially loved the folk tale in the first book.

Everything But a Groom is officially out on Christmas Eve. The other two books, Everything But a Bride and Everything But a Wedding will be out in August and December of 2008. Speaking of Christmas, I hope you all have a wonderful one! My son came home from college, and my older daughter will get in Christmas day, so we’re going to have a will be lovely!

Cheryl, thanks, as always, for the invitation to come visit on your blog! You’re a very special lady. (And speaking of Christmas and books...I loved A Western Winter Wonderland. WWW was one of my early holiday treats to myself. Thanks for it!!)

Hope you all have a wonderful new year filled with friends, family...and lots of good books!

EVERYTHING BUT A GROOM, Avalon Books, 12/07
EVERYTHING BUT A BRIDE, Avalon Books, 8/08
SAME TIME NEXT SUMMER, Harlequin Superromance, 8/08
THE PTA MOM trilogy, Harlequin American Romance, starting 10/08

Blogging at Petticoats and Pistols Today!

Yee haw! Come over yonder to Wildflower Junction and see what all the excitement is about! I have some exciting news, and it involves hunky cowboys! You won't want to miss this.

CLICK HERE to be automatically transported.

What? You want a hint? Okay, here it is:

Darn, guess you'll just have to come look.

Monday, December 17, 2007

The Great Christmas Tree Tour 2007 - Betty Jo's Trees

Saturday was our annual ladies' tea with my church friends. I always supply teacups and saucers, scones and preserves. This year I had two helpers to bake the scones. Another person does finger sandwiches. Brewing the tea is a collaborative effort, and we have six kinds to choose from. I will post pictures of the lovely food table, but since this is supposed to be the tree tour, here are two of the hostesses three incredible trees.

This first one you see is in the family room, where tables were set. A fireplace is to the left. The tree is decorated with vintage ornaments, including many Shiny Brites.

This tree is in Betty Jo's living room. It's mostly white, glass and gold. She has decorated it with Lennox ornaments she's collected over the years, as well as White House Limited Edition ornaments that her daughter sends her each year. Both trees are stunning.

Tea Time

Here's the table set for tea.
Exquisite, isn't it?

The Great Christmas tree Tour 2007: Say What?

Can you guess what this tree is decorated with? Mountain Dew cans! That's a 2 liter on top!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Who knew?

I have to tell you something funny that happened to me today. I went into Walmart photo center to pick up some pics I ordered, and my package was flagged for copyright. The girl slid out my pics and asked, "Are these professionally taken?"

I told her I took them, and I had to sign a copyright release! LOL

So, guess what, I'm now a professional photographer!

(And by the way, don't venture into that photo center without your sack lunch and bottled water.)

Drawing Winner


The winner of an autographed copy of A Christmas Wedding Wager is Julie :-)

Congrats, Julie!

Please send your address to Michelle at and she will send you your book!

Thanks to all who blogged this week. I've had lots of good feedback about the Christmas trees, all the authors and Christmas books, and the readers loved you, Michelle!

Stayed tuned for more trees this coming week. You can still send me yours if you haven't.

A Randall Hero by Judy Christenberry

January 2008
When John Randall swerved to avoid a broken-down car on a deserted Wyoming back road, the cowboy never dreamed he'd find a beautiful woman inside. But like a knight without his steed, the rancher came to her rescue. She was, after all, alone…and about to give birth.

Lucy Horton was on the run. After an attack on her unborn child, she'd had no choice but to seek refuge in the tiny town of Rawhide. But now her baby was making an unscheduled appearance and her handsome hero wouldn't leave her side. Lucy had no choice but to accept his help, his shelter, his strong shoulder. But when John offered more than that, how could she accept, when her heart wasn't hers to give?

Meet My Friend, Cyndy

I'm blessed to have so many friends, including readers and writers. Another friend I'd like to tell you about is Cyndy.

Cynthia Rutledge wrote her first book at 14 and relegated it to the trash shortly thereafter. She started writing again in 1996 after taking a class at a local community college in "How to Write a Romance Novel."

In three-and-a-half years she'd written five books. Her fifth book, originally entitled Faith on a Harley, won the Romance Writers of America's Faith, Hope and Love chapter's Touched by Love contest, garnering it a critique by a Steeple Hill. In June 1999 Cynthia sold that book to Steeple Hill books.

Since that time she has continued to write for the Love Inspired series as well as for the Silhouette Romance series. When she writes a book for the Love Inspired series, Cynthia tries not to be constrained by "you can't" and tries to follow her own good sense. This leads to such descriptions in her Romantic Times reviews as: "non-traditional inspirational romance;" "fresh detour from the conservative inspirational romance;" "nothing typical about this wonderful story;" and "unconventional, delightfully unique."

Cynthia is a member of RWA and several chapters, including Faith, Hope and Love. She has continued to work full-time as a regional consultant for Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Nebraska, while meeting her goal of writing at least three books a year.

A lifelong Nebraska resident, Cynthia is a graduate of the University of Nebraska with bachelors degrees in sociology (wanted to be a social worker), political science (wanted to go to law school), and nursing (is an RN). As you can tell, Cynthia had a hard time deciding what she wanted to be when she grew up. If only "romance writer" had been on those early lists of career choices.…

Find out more about Cyndy on her web site,

A SEASON OF MIRACLES is Cyndy's FREE online read, and you an enjoy it now.

Friday, December 14, 2007

A Christmas Wedding Wager

A Christmas Wedding Wager is set during the Christmas season in 1846 in Newcastle Upon Tyne.

Lovely Miss Emma Harrison has long turned her back on the frivolities of the Marriage Mart and dedicated herself to helping her father. But this Christmas everything changes – the unforgettable Jack Stanton is back! No longer the charity boy determined to make good, he has become one of the richest men in England. Driven to succeed and used to getting anything he wants, Jack makes it clear that he wants Emma.

And as the Yuletide festivities throw Emma into his company, she can’t help but wonder if she made the right choice seven years ago...

Because I love Christmas, it was such fun to write a Christmas book. I wanted to make sure that readers could understand what Christmas was like in the North East of England in the 1840s. Many of the places I mention in the story -- the Assembly Rooms,the Theatre Royal and the Town Moor all still exist. It was so interesting to find out about goose feasts and how Christmas carols were sung.

I was so absolutely thrilled that they chose to use a sleigh on the front cover. There is a key scene in the book which features a sleigh. The inspiration for that scene came from a green dragon sleigh that resides in Wallington hall, a country house in Northumberland where I did some of my research. After seeing it and making sure it was from the right time period I was determined to have a sleigh feature as I love the whole idea of sleighs and ice skating at Christmas time.

I am offering a copy of A Christmas Wedding Wager to a reader of this blog. Cheryl has generously agreed to pluck one winner out of the comments section. So here is a question for you: what traditional activity do you associate with Christmas?


Christmas Wedding Bells

The Pirate's Kiss by Nicola Cornick
Famous and feared pirate Daniel de Lancey is master and commander of the Defiance. Only one woman makes him want to swap danger for desire, sea for seduction… And with one Christmas kiss, he will make Lucinda his bride!

A Smuggler's Tale by Margaret McPhee
Masquerading as a smuggler, society's handsome bad boy, Lord Jack Holberton, finds himself protecting young Miss Linden's honor, despite his reputation. But will this rake keep his twelfth-night promise and return to claim her as his own?

The Sailor's Bride by Miranda Jarrett
War-ravaged Lieutenant Lord James Richardson is about to put in to Naples after a victorious sea battle that has made him a hero but has left its mark on his soul. Young and innocent, Abigail Layton is just the woman to heal his hardened heart…

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Heart of the Family by Margaret Daley

We've looked at this book before, but now here's some inside info about the author!

Margaret Daley is an award winning, multi-published author in the romance genre. She currently writes inspirational romance and romantic suspense books for the Steeple Hill Love Inspired lines. She recently sold her fifty-sixth book. When she isn't writing, she is teaching at Jenks High School.

Women, Dr. Jacob Hartman knew, were a mystery. Take the first time he met social worker Hannah Smith at the Stone Refuge home for foster children. The woman stared him down as if he'd come at her with castor oil. Why? His past was full of heavy duty heartache, but he was positive they'd never met. And as a former foster child himself, Jacob was deeply touched by how much she cared about the kids at the home, how loving she was to everyone but him. Which was where, he figured, the mistletoe came in!

Heart of the Family received a 4 1/2 stars at Romantic Times and was a December Top Pick.



Fifty six books! Margaret, that's amazing!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

The Great Christmas Tree Tour 2007: Gail Gaymer Martin

Hi from Gail Gaymer Martin. Welcome to my home at Christmas. Though I don't have a Christmas book this year, you'll be able to purchase Steeple Hill Love Inspired, Family In His Heart, at the very end of December when the January releases reach your local stores. This is my last book set on a Michigan island---which in this case is Drummond and the Les Cheneaux Islands of Michigan's upper peninsula.

I had a great time researching this book, and even hired a fishing boat to take me around the islands so I could get a sense of the 36 islands that make up the Les Cheaneaux (French for The Channels) Islands. Captian Shutt provided me with three hours of information about the islands and their history as he showed me the area. It was a great research project. I hope you enjoy the book as much as I enjoyed writing it.

If you're a writer, please look for my book from Writers Digest, Writing the Christian Romance, to be released on December 26. It can be preordered from a link on my webstie at

Thanks for reading our Love Inspired books and many blessings to you and yours as you celebrate the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ.

A Nutcracker Story from Michelle Styles

Back in 1993, when [my son] was 3, we went to visit my mother for Christmas. This was the first time he had experienced an American Christmas and one of his big treats was being taken to see the San Francisco Ballet's production of the Nutcracker on Christmas Eve.

The Nutcracker is one of my favourite ballets and to see it performed by the SF Ballet is wonderful. A truly magical happening and on Christmas eve, they used to sing carols after the performance.

My son had not see the Nutcracker live before and was totally entranced with Clara's Nutcracker. At the interval my husband took him to look around as I was busy with our daughter who was a baby at the time. She was very good by the way and slept the entire way through the performance.

They came back to the seats and my son was very excited about the possibilities of a Nutcracker. My husband lifted an eyebrow, indicating that I should go and somehow get one, but I shook my head. It was Christmas Eve and there were loads of presents to come. To avoid a huge temper tantrum, I did concede that he could put an emergency letter up the chimney to Father Christmas but more than likely Father Christmas had left the North Pole. My son, tears filling in his eyes, agreed. The curtain went up and the second act started. Both my husband and I stayed in our seats and we did not leave the ballet with any extra packages. In fact, we purchased nothing at the ballet.

When we returned to my mother's house, my son duly put up his letter and excitedly talked about the nutcracker. My husband was quite cross with me btw and predicted a ruined Christmas. I said that my son would forget in the morning.

From this point on, no adult left the house to purchase anything. Nothing was purchased or brought into the house. Can I be clear on this point -- other than paying for parking that day, no money was spent and no presents were bought.
On Christmas morning, in front of the fireplace in pride of place stood a Nutcracker. Exactly like the one he had seen in the ballet. Father Christmas had come through. Even though, no one could have guessed that it would be the one thing my son would desire. Oh how my son's eyes shone!

I have told all my children when they can figure out how this happened, then they can tell me that Father Christmas does not exist.

The Nutcracker now slightly battered still graces our mantelpiece at Christmastime.
And even though my children are in their teens, they still have not been able to explain it. Or maybe they just like the magic.

Michelle told me:
"It is a true story and the fact that I might have wanted a nutcracker has never occurred to the children!"

Thanks for sharing, Michelle! What a wonderful Christmas memory.

Michelle is historical romance novelist who struggles to juggle her writing, family and the million other things which need to get done. Her publisher is Harlequin Mills and Boon Historicals. Her books include The Gladiator's Honour, A Noble Captive, Sold and Seduced, The Roman's Virgin Mistress, Taken by the Viking, A Christmas Wedding Wager, Viking Warrior, Unwilling Wife, and An Impulsive Debutante.

Visitors over the last couple hours

Mountain View, AR, United States
Salmon Arm, BC, Canada
Omaha, NE, United States
Brentwood, United Kingdom
La Junta, CO, United States
Rosalia, WA, United States
Tremonton, UT, United States
U S A F Academy, CO, United States
West Columbia, SC, United States
Motta Visconti, Italy
West Des Moines, IA, United States
Warren, MI, United States
Omaha, NE, United States
Santa Ana, CA, United States
Kansas City, MO, United States
Nairobi, Kenya
Dartmouth, NS, Canada
Fort Myers, FL, United States
Austin, TX, United States
Winter Springs, FL, United States
United Kingdom
Murdock, NE, United States
Melbourne, Australia

Wave if it's YOU!!

The Great Christmas Tree Tour 2007: Michelle Styles

Michelle says they put their tree in their unheated sunroom, so the needles don't drop. It's stunning, Michelle! Thanks for letting us enjoy it with you.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Human Statue of Liberty

18,000 soldiers! Amazing, isn't it? You can click to see close up, but also look while it's small to see how perfect the optical illusion is. Uniforms appear WWI, and the location is Camp Dodge, Iowa.

Most recent visitors

Just for fun, here's the list of visitors who were here in the last few hours:

Los Angeles, CA, United States
O Fallon, IL, United States
Grand Junction, CO, United States
Nashville, TN, United States
Madrid, Spain
Omaha, NE, United States
Saint Louis, MO, United States
Spokane, WA, United States
North Brunswick, NJ, United States
Chattanooga, TN, United States
Marietta, GA, United States
Dayton, OH, United States
West Hills, CA, United States
Lincoln, NE, United States
Simpsonville, SC, United States
Solymár, Hungary
North Bend, OR, United States
Haddonfield, NJ, United States
Lawn, PA, United States
Menznau, Switzerland
Snellville, GA, United States
London, ON, Canada
Rochester, NY, United States
Rockville, MD, United States
Lowell, MA, United States

If it's you, say HOWDY!

Favorite Western Romances at TGTBATU

Sorry! Brenda pointed out the link stopped working.

HERE IT IS AGAIN or cut and paste the URL above

A Holiday to Remember by Jillian Hart

To: Uncle Ben

From: Mia

Re: Thanks to you, we have a whole new family!

Moving to Chestnut Grove was the best thing to happen to Mom and me. It's so neat that a few months ago Mom didn't know she had a half brother—you! And I can tell she likes Jonah Fraser, this really cool carpenter. I always tell Mom she's got to believe in the power of prayer. But now I have my own special prayer—that mom and Jonah get together to make this the best Christmas ever!

Monday, December 10, 2007

The Great Christmas Tree Tour 2007: Charlene Sands

From my good friend Charlene in sunny Orange County, CA:

"It's FAKE and therefore perfect every year! After 28 years of a 'live' tree, now the kids are grown and can't complain (yet they still do). The fear of fire (our neighbor's house burned down a few years ago from a Christmas tree fire)and our desire to decorate early made our decision easy. We LOVE our fake perfect tree and often we buy a live wreath to get that wonderful pine scent in our home."
Charlene Sands
Coming in January - Silhouette Desire THE CORPORATE RAIDER'S REVENGE

Charlene, it's beautiful, as is your entire room! I want to come sit on your sofa and sip tea (or cider or something) with you for an afternoon.

Favorite Western Romances

Wendy, the SUPER LIBRARIAN guest blogged her list of top 12 favorite western romances on The Good, The Bad and The Unread, and guess who has a book listed, hmm?


December Release: Heart of the Family

Women, Dr. Jacob Hartman knew, were a mystery. Take the first time he met social worker Hannah Smith at the Stone Refuge home for foster children. The woman stared him down as if he'd come at her with castor oil. Why? His past was full of heavy-duty heartache, but he was positive they'd never met. And as a former foster child himself, Jacob was deeply touched by how much she cared about the kids at the home, how loving she was—to everyone but him. Which was where, he figured, the mistletoe came in!

Straight, No Chaser: *lizzie found this!

Men's Accapella

thank's *lizzie! Loved this!

Bet You Didn't Know: #1 Warehouse Club Buy

And you don't need a membership!

If prescription drug costs are breaking your bank, a trip to the warehouse club may be just what the doctor ordered. Prices there routinely beat those of mainstream pharmacies by more than 50%, says Gabriel Levitt, vice president of research for, a site that rates online pharmacies. Warehouse club deals are often even lower than Wal-Mart and Target, both of which made news this year by offering 30-day supplies of generic prescription medications for just $4.

Let's say you need to fill a prescription for 20mg of Lisinopril, a popular generic blood-pressure medication. At Costco, you'll pay $10 for 100 pills, whereas a 90-count bottle would cost you $38.90 at CVS and $12 at Wal-Mart or Target. Considering the price per pill, you'd save anywhere from 25% to 77%, by heading to the warehouse.

Better yet, federal law stipulates that you don't need a club membership to access the pharmacy counter. That includes purchases of prescription eyewear and contact lenses, where available. You will, however, need a membership to purchase over-the-counter meds.

A Bravo Christmas Reunion by Christine Rimmer

What brought him to her door…

…Marcus Reid couldn't say. But then Hayley Bravo opened her door, and he got a good look at her burgeoning stomach! She appeared to be about eight months along. So was this proof that she'd gotten over him fast…or that they were connected, now and forever? Months ago Hayley had walked out on Marcus, even though it was the hardest thing she'd ever done. Because though she knew he'd do the right thing by her, she was holding out for the real thing. Love. Baby. Marriage. And apparently, in that order…

Saturday, December 08, 2007

The Great Christmas Tree Tour 2007: BETSY

Betsy says:

"Here's a picture of my tree, just decorated today. When the kids leave home, I give them their ornaments. I'm down to just Alex's so the tree is beginning to look a bit bare. I guess I'll just have to go shopping!"

Thank you for sharing, Betsy! It's beautiful!

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Snowbound with Mr. Right by Judy Christenberry

Tempting the tycoon out of the city…just in time for Christmas! Sally Rogers's family store is the heart and soul of the small town of Bailey, and she's working all hours to keep her business afloat. So when city slicker Hunter Bedford arrives, determined to buy her out, Sally is furious. No way will she sell to a ruthless businessman like Hunter! Instead, with Christmas approaching, she'll show him the warmth and spirit of Bailey. But as the snow falls thick and fast, they are trapped together and Sally begins to wonder if she's snowbound with Mr. Right…

Christmas Tree Tips and Ideas

How much fun is this? The smaller accent trees add color and an unusual touch to this room. I don't know about you, but I don't have room to do something that takes this much space, but it's fun to admire.

have you looked lately?


Wednesday, December 05, 2007

The Great Christmas Tree Tour 2007: Robyn

These first two pictures are of one of Robyn's trees, but the angel in front is the focal point of the first picture!

Robyn's favorite color is purple. Can you guess?

Thanks, Robyn!