Tuesday, November 30, 2010

In Time for Christmas: Yuletide Cowboy

Yuletide Cowboy


After three years in Mule Hollow's women's shelter, single mother Lynn Perry is finally spending the holidays in her own house. And then the town's matchmakers send over a hunky cowboy to hang Christmas lights…Lynn hopes there's no mistletoe around. With her painful past, how can she trust another man? Especially former bull rider and current pastor Chance Turner, who isn't planning on sticking around—or ever preaching again. Unless Lynn, twin boys and the matchmakers help her yuletide cowboy see he's the answer to a family's—and a town's—Christmas prayers.


Christmas Tree in The General Crook House

This tree is in the upstairs bathroom! It was mid-morning and the window faced north, so the light was lovely. There was a cast iron tub and a toilet, of which you can see the corner at the bottom right. Also displayed in this room was the vintage wedding dress below.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Announcing the Harlequin Historical Author Advent Calendar

Announcing the Harlequin Historical Author Advent Calendar with individual giveaways each day and one grand prize winner of a Kindle 3G
 Visit a participating author each day for the daily drawing.
One December 23, one lucky winner will receive a Kindle 3-G!
For official rules, terms and conditions, click here.

List of dates and places of individual contests:

Lynna Banning December 1
Annie Burrows December 2
Charlene Sands December 3
Jeannie Lin December 4
Elizabeth Rolls December 5 
Deb Marlowe December 6
Barbara Monajem December 7
Terri Brisbin December 8
Diane Gaston December 9
Joanne Rock December 10
Emily May December 11
Blythe Gifford December 12
Cheryl St.John December 13
Carol Townend December 14
Deborah Hale December 15
Amanda McCabe December 16
Michelle Willingham December 17
Georgina Devon December 18
Julia Justiss December 19
Michelle Styles December 20
Ann Lethbridge December 21
Denise Lynn December 22

...and Jerry Mathers as...the Beaver

Wow, I had a lot of replies! And many of you knew exactly who this was.

The funniest guess was Tony Blair. lol

Now I'm placing all the correct replies into my handy dandy fishbowl and drawing out one....

The winner is Nancy O'Berry from Virginia! whoo hoo!

Nancy, please give me first and second choices on which book you'd like to receive, I can send you Western Winter Wedding Bells or a book from my back list, as long as I have a copy. just let me know by posting here or by send me an email: SaintJohn@aol.com

Thanks to ALL who entered!
I'll do another celebrity face drawing next week. This was fun.
And don't forget to send me a pic of your Christmas tree.

Enter a Drawing for a Book: Guess Who This Is

If you can guess who this is. DON'T POST IT HERE -
Send an email to me at SaintJohn@aol.com
Include your address and the name of this person.
I'll draw a winner tonight and send you one of my backlist books or the current release,
whichever you don't have.

Christmas Tree in The General Crook House

 This small tree is in general Crook's bedroom. He was an avid hunter, so the birds and pheasant feathers are an appropriate representation of the man. This room also held the stuffed birds (below) in a convex glass frame. I think they're sandpipers. I was icked out when I saw this, but Mary Connealy was oddly fascinated. Should we look for them to show up in one of her books?

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Daily Drawings and a Kindle Giveaway!

Dear Readers,
During the month of December, twenty-two Harlequin Historical Authors have teamed up to create an online Advent Calendar.  You will find the calendar on eHarlequin.com, as well as on the individual author sites.  Each day, click on the calendar to visit the host author's website, and you can win prizes such as signed books, gift certificates, and holiday goodies. 
You will be asked to complete a task, such as posting a blog comment, searching for a hidden ornament, or answering a question about an excerpt.  Please check the author's web page for your instructions and to see what the daily prize is.  You can enter once each day, at each of the twenty-two websites. 
On December 23rd, a random drawing from among all 22 authors' entries will determine the grand prize winner of a Kindle 3-G.  Please see the official eligibility rules (www.michellewillingham.com/official-rules) for this giveaway. 
Happy Holidays from me and the Harlequin Historical Authors!
More details and reminders to follow.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Christmas Tree in The General Crook House

General Crook and his wife had separate bedrooms, as was the custom with many affluent people in the day. This is the bedroom of the missus, and this tree sits at the foot of the bed on a trunk. It's decorated with White House ornaments that the curators collect and add to each year.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Annual Great Christmas Tree Tour 2010

Loved the sparkles and prisms!
This is a fireplace and mantle in the same room in which the Christmas tree I posted yesterday stands.
General Crook House.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

ANNOUNCING Cheryl St.John's Annual Great Christmas Tree Tour 2010

I'm gearing up for my annual Christmas blog event and I'm looking forward to seeing your Christmas tree! I just love seeing how others decorate and hearing about their family customs, and plenty of you enjoy it too, because it's my biggest traffic event all year.

Here's how to participate and see your Christmas tree on the web:

Take a photo of your tree as soon as it's up.
or: Take a photo of a tree you particularly enjoy, for example at a museum, a lobby or mall.
Send me the photo as an attachment.
Include anything you'd like to share: a family tradition, something about the ornaments.

If you're an author, send me a cover and a brief blurb about your current book, so readers can learn more about it and you.

I will start posting trees on December 1st.

I'll let you know which day your photo will be posted, so you can send friends and family over.
Here's my addy: Saintjohn@aol.com

And to get us started, I will be posting photographs of the beautiful trees from the General Crook House at Fort Crook in Omaha, where I recently visited with the local ACFW members. The historic home was beautifully decorated for the holidays.

This tree was in one of the main rooms in the front of the house. It's decorated with small birds and pheasant feathers. Bird feathers were a reoccurring item in the house, since General Crook was a hunter.

Here are members of the ACFW Central Group gathered for the day's outing.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Celebrity Author Cookbook

The HEART of Cooking contains over 170 recipes from over 130 of your favorite authors. For a complete author list, go to snap4kids.org.  Many of these authors are New York Times bestsellers and USA Today bestsellers. Each recipe is accompanied by a short blurb about the author.  Several of the recipes contain personal stories as to how the recipe came about.
SPECIAL NEEDS FOR KIDS assists families of children birth to 22 years, with special needs, especially the physically challenged, in helping their child reach his/her maximum potential through information, referral, education, and modest grants for medical and therapeutic equipment not covered by health insurance, or in the case of no health insurance, throughout the United States. By helping children with special needs in reaching their maximum potential, SNAP provides the greatest gift.
Purchases are tax-deductible, since Snap4Kids is a 501(c)(3) organization.

Monday, November 15, 2010


Barb sent me this photo of her nephew. It's unusual to see someone with a mustache wearing dinosaur jammies, don't you think?

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Free Shipping at eharlequin

Gobble up some great savings: shop any print books on eHarlequin.com and get FREE shipping with your exclusive Holiday Highlights coupon code HOLIDAY1110.

Add any print books to your cart. When you're ready to check out, click on View Cart at the top of any page. Enter code HOLIDAY1110 (in all caps) in the box provided and click Apply Discount. You'll see your shipping savings on the Checkout page.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010


copyright: Cheryl St.John

Passive words suck energy from your writing! Shifting from passive to active voice saves at least two words per sentence. ‘Is’ and the rest of the ‘to be’ family are passive—am, are, was, were, will be, have, has, had, been, will have been, be, suddenly, and caused. Any verbal construction employing ‘is’ or ‘was’ can weaken a sentence.
          Caused, as, and when usually indicate a motivation/reaction unit out of whack.
          The subject of the sentence MUST ACT, rather than being ACTED UPON.  The knife was thrown by John is passive. John threw the knife is active
          *She was carrying the child in her arms.
          She carried the child.

          *There was a tree growing in the atrium.
          A tree grew in the atrium.

          *She had a happy look on her face.
          She looked happy. Better yet: Sarah smiled.

          *She will be tried in court today.
          Her trial begins today

Watch for these words:

To be is always passive. (Occasionally, you will use ‘to be’ in dialogue.) “You just have to be a smart aleck, don’t you?”
          *Darla wanted to be a dancer.
          Darla never wavered from her goal. Someday she would dance on stage.

Would be: sometimes ‘would be’ is the only way to say what will happen.
          *The day would be warm and clear
          *The day promised to be warm.
          The early sun promised a warm day.

          *She started to feel sick.
          Her stomach turned.
          *Sally turned to knead the dough.
          Sally worked the dough into a soft ball.

To is appropriate when approaching the act: plowed his fingers through his hair to knead the back of his neck—lifted the cup to drink—paused to read.

          *Members of the group elected officers.
          Group members elected officers.

          *Members of the party could not be reached for comment.
          No members could be reached for comment.

There; A ‘to be’ verb usually follows ‘there’. There was, there is, there has been.

          *There is something strange here.
          Something strange lurks here.

That, made, felt (you will use an occasional felt) with, began or began to, allowed, let, found, as, when, while, then, was and were are usually passive.

                   *He began shooting his rifle.
                   He drew and fired in a single swift motion.

                   *She began brushing her hair.
                   She pulled the brush through her hair.

                   *She knelt and began trying to tug weeds.
                   She knelt and tugged at the stubborn weeds.

          If you want an incomplete action—like: she knelt and began trying to tug weeds—because the action is interrupted or meets resistance, say so! Active verb plus resistance:
                   Marjorie knelt and tugged at the stubborn weeds. A shadow fell across her hands. Turning, she recognized the man looming over her.

          Note, too, how each sentence begins differently, Instead of:
                   She knelt. Her hands began to tug the weeds. Suddenly, she sensed someone above her. She looked up.

By the way, body parts performing functions without the person are passive : Her hands began to tug the weeds.

          *A hand trailed up her arm.
          *A finger traced her lips.
          He rubbed a calloused palm the length of her arm.
          With one finger, he traced her lips.

If your character can’t see any other part of the person, or if you desire a surprise, you can get away with ‘body parts’.
A hand, warm and comforting, squeezed her shoulder.
          She turned to meet Derik’s emerald gaze.

Looked is passive besides being a weak verb.
          *The dress she was wearing looked pretty.
          She wore a pretty dress.
          Better yet. let’s assume she’s wearing the dress and not carrying it:
          Her dress was the color of a spring sky on a frosty morning.

Possession is another passive problem area.
          *The house that belongs to Jack
          Jack’s house
          *the edge of the bed
          the bed’s edge

Additional help for vivid writing:

Show not tell

          Adverbs add spice. Use sparingly. Many times adverbs are a sign of ‘lazy writing’. They tell rather than show.
          *”Get out!” Mary said, angrily.
          “Get out!” Mary grabbed the vase and hurled it at his retreating back.

          *”I don’t want you to go,” Timmy said, sadly.
          “Don’t go.” Enormous tears rolled down Timmy’s freckled cheeks.

Punch up the verbs!

          Ran quickly—raced, shot, sprinted
          Sat abruptly—plopped, fell
          Cried openly—sobbed
          Walked around carefully—skirted, hedged
          Said angrily—screamed, yelled, screeched—better yet, show it! Throw something or hit the table.
Again, show rather than tell
          *John is tall
          John ducked beneath the six-foot awning.

Jude Devereaux says, “Rather than describing my characters, I try to come up with action to show what they’re like.

Use similes and metaphors

Use specific nouns

          The rose rather than the flower. The burley lumberjack rather than a man.

Use action verbs.
          Slumped rather than sat. Bolted or crawled rather than went. Gazed, stared or shot a venomous glare, rather than looked.

Qualifiers dilute a sentence. They are: just, very, almost, even, somewhat, really, slightly, hardly, barely, nearly, quite, rather. Delete altogether or change the word qualified to a stronger or more explicit word.
          *George was slightly angry.
          George was angry (‘was’ is passive)
          Miffed, George ignored the gibe.

          *Nancy was very tired.
          Exhausted, Nancy suppressed a yawn.

Run on sentences

          Vary length and construction, and don’t try to say too much because if you do you will probably end up using some passive words to string the clauses together, and when that happens your sentence is ineffective, believe it or not, and you wouldn’t want that to happen because you end up burying the action, and that gets confusing.

It is weak and ineffective. Replace ‘it’ whenever possible. Reconstructed, your sentences will be stronger.
          *Wanda picked up the steaming kettle and carried it to the table.
          Wanda carried the steaming kettle to the table.
          *She took the tube of lipstick from her purse and applied it to her lips.
          She applied the lipstick she always carried in her purse.

A note about purple prose:

          Purple prose is flowery writing, more rhythmic, lyrical, figurative, abstract and emotion-filled. Sentence length is longer. Time seems to extend into the past of future. The prose ‘opens up’ time, transcending a particular moment.
          Effective and moving prose must be used in the right place, consciously, sparingly and well. In his section on pacing, Swain suggests longer sentences for sequels, shorter sentences for scenes and action. Save ‘purple prose’ for moments that are not only emotional, but thematically significant. A character undergoing a change, a life changes forever, end of chapter, end of section or scene (not end of book.)
          Not during a climactic scene (the house is on fire and your heroine admires the sunset). Not every time you character feels something or when two men are talking.

Monday, November 01, 2010

A Kiss is Still a Kiss...but some kisses aren't just a kiss

It’s difficult to say exactly what creates an incredible onscreen kiss, but it has to be a combination of the chemistry between the actors, the tension that has led up to this point in the story—just like in a book—and the dialogue that accompanies the event. 

Everyone has his or her favorite movie kisses. Most popular in recent polls were the waterfall scene in The Last of the Mohicans, Twilight, Romeo and Juliet, Gone With tford) in The Way We Were, that famous upside down kiss in Spiderman, and Moira Kelly and D.B. Sweeney in The Cutting Edge.he Wind, Katie and Hubbell (Barbra Streisand and Robert Red
Here are a few of mine:
notebook-3The Notebook - Ryan and Rachel in the rain
Allie: "Why didn't you write me? Why? It wasn't over for me, I waited for you for seven years. But now it's too late."
Noah: "I wrote you 365 letters. I wrote you everyday for a year."
Allie: "You wrote me?"
Noah: "Yes. It wasn't over, it still isn't over."
Allie McGraw and Ryan O’Neal in Love Story
"Look, Cavalleri, I know your game, and I'm tired of playing it. You are the supreme Radcliffe smart-a[lec]. The best. You can put down anything in pants. But verbal volleyball is not my idea of a relationship. And if that's what you think it's all about, why don't you just go back to your music, and good luck. See, I think you're scared. You put up a big glass wall to keep from getting hurt. But it also keeps you from getting touched. It's a risk, isn't it, Jenny? At least I had the guts to admit what I felt. Someday, you're gonna have to come up with the courage to admit you care."
They stop walking and Jenny says: "I care"
Angie Dickenson and John Wayne in Rio Bravo
Gorgeous young Angie says, "I'm glad we tried it a second time. It's better when two people do it"
body-heatBody Heat – Man oh man did Kathleen Turner and William Hurt ever have chemistry in this flick. Whew! He breaks the bay window with a porch chair and finds the sultry femme fatale waiting for him on the stairs. Wowzer, what a kiss.
"You're not too smart, are you? I like that in a man."
the-terminatorLinda Hamilton and Michael Biehn in The Terminator
"I came across time for you, Sarah. I love you. I've always loved you."
What could be more romantic, eh?
notting-hillWilliam and Anna (Hugh Grant and Julia Roberts) after the press conference in Notting Hill.
ditry-dancingPatrick Swayze and Jennifer Gray after dancing to I’ve Had the Time of My Life in Dirty Dancing
05_Flatbed_2 - AUGUSTPrincess Bride – Robin Wright and Carey Elwes
The narrator says to his grandson: “Since the invention of the kiss there have been five kisses that were rated the most passionate, the most pure. This one left them all behind.”
Robin Wright actually has two great movie kisses. Besides her Princess Buttercup masterpiece, she ran through the pool at the Washington Monument to kiss Tom Hanks in Forrest Gump.
jerry-mcguireTom Cruise and Renee Zellweger in Jerry McGuire
"I'm looking for my wife...If this is where it has to happen, then this is where it has to happen. I'm not letting you get rid of me. How about that?...Our company had a very good night. A very, very big night, but it wasn't complete. It wasn't nearly close to being in the same vicinity as complete, because I couldn't share it with you. I couldn't hear your voice, or laugh about it with you. I missed my wife. We live in a cynical world, a cynical world, and we work in a business of tough competitors. I love you. You complete me." (Earlier they’d seen a deaf guy sign these words to his girl in an elevator.)
Dorothy tearfully interrupts: "Aw, shut up. Just shut up. You had me at hello. You had me at hello."
To see an incredible listing of famous film kisses, you can check out this website.  http://www.filmsite.org/filmkisses1.html

I don’t even know how long this collection of film kisses is, because I couldn’t get through them all, but here’s the most extensive listing of movie kisses I’ve ever seen:

Did I mention your favorite or did you see it in the video?
Can you name five of the movies in this video montage?