Friday, November 30, 2012

Great Christmas Tree Tour: Debra Ullrick

This is my favorite Christmas decoration because it's so homey. It always reminds me of the time we set out to spend Christmas Eve with my mom. It would have been the first Christmas we would have been able to spend with her in a long, long time. At seven o'clock on Christmas Eve morning, we left Kremmling where we used to live for over 25 years, to head down the mountain.

The snowfall had started when we left, but nothing major or nothing we weren't used to seeing. Little did we know that this snowstorm would turn into a blizzard and would be much, much different from any storm we'd ever endured.

The further down the mountain we drove, the heavier the snowfall became. Warnings blasted across the radio and talked about driving north, the direction of my mother's house. They repeatedly stated even if you have a four-wheel drive do not head that way because the visibility was so poor.

Well, we had been through many a raging blizzard before, especially up on Rabbit Ears Pass. And those storms had been much worse than this one. In fact, some of those blizzards were so intense we couldn't even see the hood of our pickup or the semi-trucks coming from the opposite direction until they were right on top of us. Plus, there were no side rails to protect us from the steep drop offs. Still, by some miracle, we always made it to our destination. Oh, and those blizzards always snuck up on us. We would start out on a clear day and without notice would end up in a major blizzard. Same thing happened to us on this particular day.

Judging from years of experience, what they called a blizzard down in the flatlands was just a little bitty snowstorm to us native Colorado folk who lived on the mountains. They were no big deal at all. Until this one, anyway.

The blizzard of 1982, was the worst storm we'd ever combated and managed to survive. Motorists were stranded all along the highway, including a young man who waved us down and begged us to take his mother home because his vehicle had died and they had no heat in the car. Even though our four-speed pickup was a single cab truck and we were filled to capacity with stuff as well as my family, there was no way we were leaving those folks behind to freeze to death. We managed to squeeze together and the elderly lady came with us. We tried to get her son to come too, but he said he would be fine, and that he was more concerned about his mother. He said he would flag down a sand truck and hitch a ride from there. We hated leaving him, but he refused to come with us, and we needed to get going before the storm worsened.

The further north we went, the more horrific the visibility got, and the more frightened I became. I feared my family would be stranded on the side of the road and who knew what would become of us. My imagination had taken over by this point. Many long, grueling minutes later, we spotted a ginormous sand truck in front of us. We were able to get him to stop and told him about the woman's son. He assured us he would inform someone about him. He then had us follow his truck and he led us to the nearest ramp exit, which just happened to be the one close to where the lady lived.

When we dropped her off, she offered for us to stay with her until the storm passed, but my husband declined. I couldn't believe that he would turn down such an enticing and a most wanted invitation. I wondered what was wrong with him, because by then, I was tired, scared, and I desperately wanted my family and myself inside and somewhere safe. I wanted to get out of the grips of the raging storm, especially after seeing so many stranded motorists littering the edges of the road.

However, I really wanted to spend Christmas Eve with my mom, and truly believed we would make it. We had made it a lot further than most had so far, thanks to my husband's excellent winter driving skills. I bid the lady goodbye and thanked her for her generous offer. It was so hard to leave her house and head into the great unknown.

As we neared Commerce City, the poor visibility escalated. In fact, it became so bad, we finally realized we would not make it to my mom's place after all. I was heartbroken. Not only for myself, but I hated the idea of my mom spending Christmas Eve all alone. I wanted to cry and keep on going, hoping we would make it, but knowing better. I couldn't believe our misfortune. Here we had driven over a hundred and twenty miles and only had ten more to go. We were so close and yet so far away.

Disappointed, we made our way to the nearest motel we could find. When my husband went inside to inquire about a room, they said they had one left but the window had a gaping hole in it. He didn't care and he took it right away. As soon as he paid for the room, several people came in after us and were turned away. Once my husband settled my daughter and I into the room, he retrieved our luggage, and then headed to a store across the way to get us something to eat.

That night, my husband, my four-year-old daughter, and I spent Christmas Eve in a run-down motel with a broken window and snow blowing inside until my husband stuffed it with something to stop the chill from entering our room. We huddled together under the covers on a broken bed, watching Christmas movies, and ate Cup-O-Soups made with dirt-speckled water that came directly from the hot water tap. None of us cared. It was warm, cozy, safe, and we were together.

While our accommodations weren't very good, we were truly grateful for them. We thought about baby Jesus, lying in a manger, somewhere in a barn surrounded by smelly animals. Considering there was no room at the inn, I'm sure Mary was as grateful for that barn as we were for our grubby, orange and gold colored motel room. As we considered what kind of "housing" conditions Christ our Savior was born in, we gazed at our own.

That night we experienced the true meaning of Christmas. It's not where you are, or how much money you have or don't have, or how many presents you did or didn't get, or how much you spent on those presents that makes Christmas. It's about love, and who you're with, about the birth of our Savior Christ, and about family and being together. That's what Christmas is really all about.

Who would have ever thought spending Christmas Eve in a run-down dive that we later learned used to be an ex-hooker motel would be one of the homiest, best, and most meaningful Christmas my family and I would ever share?

Sunny Weston's parents are gone. In order to save her family's ranch and restore it to its former glory, she heads down the mountain to work on her uncle's ranch. Even though her uncle offers to lend her the money she needs to get her place working again, she refuses. 

She is out to prove to her fellow ranchers and co-workers that she is more than capable of running and operating her own spread. When her uncle's hired hands continually tease her about her small stature and doubt her abilities to handle herself working on the ranch even though she has proved herself over and over again, she sets up a riding, roping, bucking bronc, skijoring competition to prove them wrong. Her biggest competition and the only one who doesn't ridicule her is her uncle's foreman, Jedidiah Cooper. A man she could easily fall for.

Jedidiah Cooper is instantly smitten with his bosses' niece. Having been warned by her uncle that anyone trying to woo his niece would be instantly fired, Jed has to keep his emotions tightly reined in where the beautiful Sunny Weston is concerned.

Saving up to buy his own spread so that he can prove to his well-to-do father that he is just as capable as his successful brothers of making a profitable business, he can't afford to lose his job and its generous wages. But even more importantly, he doesn't want to lose the love and respect of a man who means more to him than anyone else--Sunny Weston's uncle. When his heart is irrevocably lost to Sunny, Jed has to make some extremely important decisions that might very well cause him to lose everything.

ORDER YOUR COPY FROM AMAZON                       

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Great Christmas Tree Tour: Deborah Hale

I'm delighted to be part of Cheryl's Christmas Tree Tour, which I've enjoyed as a viewer in the past! Part of me would love a theme tree, perhaps Regency or fairy tale inspired. But my family Christmas tree is a homey hodgepodge of (mostly) hand-crafted ornaments I've made over the years. These include blown eggs decorated with pictures from Christmas napkins or tissue paper, beads and glitter.
I also have a set of angel ornaments I cross-stitched and a set of crocheted snowflakes.  Those are supplemented by collector ornaments we've been given, picked up on our travels or bought to celebrate special milestones.

Every year I give each of my four children an ornament to add to their collection (most of my daughters are penguin-themed). When they have homes of their own (a day that is coming way too fast!) they will be able to take their ornaments to decorate their Christmas trees!

In The Baron's Governess Bride, Lord Steadwell's three motherless daughters were heartbroken when their last governess ran off to elope. In her dowdy cap and spectacles, Grace Ellerby seems an ideal replacement—a nurturing, intelligent woman uninterested in marriage. No wonder Rupert doesn't recognize Grace as the golden-haired vision at a masked ball, who slips away before midnight….

Frightened by the unwanted attentions of previous employers, Grace resolved to hide her beauty…and her growing feelings for Rupert. One enchanted evening changes everything. For with Grace's
three adorable charges playing fairy godmother, Rupert may discover his happy ending is closer than he thinks!

                                         ORDER A COPY FROM AMAZON

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Great Christmas Tree Tour: Lyn Cote

Lyn's beloved Christmas decoration:

If you look closely at the tree I'm standing beside in the photo,
you'll pick out 3 bubble light "candles" on my tree. 

I CANNOT celebrate Christmas without these special lights. I loved them as a
child and was thrilled in the 80's when they began manufacturing them
again. I buy several boxes every Christmas and store them IN CASE they
stop making them again. My husband grins goodnaturedly as we pack away
yet another box!

Their Frontier Family
Love Inspired Historical
November 2012
ISBN: 978-0373829392

First book in the Wilderness Brides series, set in Wisconsin, Lyn' home state. The heroine was a minor character in Lyn's Her Healing Ways, the final book in the Gabriel Sisters series.

No one is more surprised than Sunny Licht when Noah Whitmore proposes. She's a scarlet woman and an unwed mother—an outcast even in her small Quaker m community. But she can't resist Noah's offer of a fresh start in a place where her scandalous past is unknown.

In Sunny, the former Union soldier sees a woman whose loneliness matches his own . When they arrive in Wisconsin, he'll see that she and her baby daughter want for nothin g…except the love that war burned out of him. Yet Sunny makes him hope once more—for the home they're building, and the family he never hoped to find.

Since her first Love Inspired romance debuted in 1998, Lyn Cote has written over 30 books. A RITA finalist and a ACFW Carol Award winner, Lyn writes contemporary romance and historical. Her brand is "Strong Women, Brave Stories." Visit her website/blog at and find her on Facebook, GoodReads and Twitter.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Drawing Winner Announced - Colorado Courtship

What a busy day! Thanks to everyone who visited and left comments! I've put all of your names in the Santa hat and am drawing a winner now.

And the winner of a copy of Colorado Courtship is...


Congratulations, Chris,! Will shoot off an email to you right now.

Stop back tomorrow when Lyn Cote is here!

Great Christmas Tree Tour: Cheryl St.John - DRAWING


We have several artificial trees in the storage room--all shapes and sizes. There are stacks of containers filled with ornaments. I can decorate with six different themes. 

But alas, I went to Home Depot for screws and came out with a real tree. My husband looked at me as I was carrying it in from the garage like I'd lost my mind.

The rest of Saturday I let it fall out standing on the kitchen island. Sunday evening I decided to decorate it, but still I didn't go to the storage room. Instead I searched drawers and shelves in my kitchen, grabbed a ball of twine and let the needles fall where they may. I'd forgotten how prickly those needles are!
So, here is my kitchen tree, filled with vintage kitchen tools and small pitchers, cookie cutters, oil cruets, etc..

Check out the books I have coming soon:

COMING IN DECEMBER - an ebook release!

             STOWAWAY ANGEL

Charlie McGraw never should have bought the angel book for his precocious daughter. Because then Meredith wouldn't be convinced that getting a new mommy was as simple as having an "angel" sprinkle him with her "miracle dust." And she never would have believed the beautiful blond-haired woman who drove a truck called the "Silver Angel" was some treetop angel come to life.

Starla Richards was no angel. But try telling that to a five-year-old who was so starved for a mother's love that she'd stowed away on Starla's rig. Or convincing herself that miracles just didn't happen to ordinary people when Starla found herself snowbound with a handsome, caring widower and his adorable daughter….

Revised for the Heartwarming line from a previous SIM edition, Charlie's Angels

available in print or Kindle
                 COLORADO COURTSHIP

If Violet Kristofferson had known that her new employer was the town undertaker, she might never have come to Carson Springs as his cook. Yet she needs a fresh start away from scandal. And Ben Charles’s unflinching faith could be her path to something truly precious—a new family.

Leave a comment and your email address to be entered in the drawing for a copy of COLORADO COURTSHIP in either Kindle or print. Please indicate in your comment if you'd like a print edition or the Kindle version. I'll put your name in Santa's hat and draw a winner this evening.

Oh, and please SHARE this post on Facebook or Twitter while you're here. Thank you!