Carol Henry WIth Breakfast With Santa

Happy holidays to all!  Give a big welcome to Carol Henry, author of Breakfast With Santa and other romances. Have a seat and grab an insulated mug. I’ve got hot chocolate, hot cider and coffee. Choose your pot, they’re labeled. Pick your choice of a Snicker-doodle, Chocolate Chip or Peanut butter cookie from the plate. Yep, I baked them myself. Lets see what makes Carol tick and what Breakfast With Santa is all about.  Thanks for joining us!

I’ve been writing for a very long time. Writing Romance?  Didn’t get serious until I retired in December 2000. Previous to that, while working as an Administrative Assistant to a Department Chair at Cornell University, I wrote human interest features for several local papers as I was and still am involved in many community organizations, activities, and am the town historian. As historian I’ve written several history books and tons of articles for my hometown. As a national and international traveler, I also write travel features for many cruise line in-cabin books, travel magazines, and international travel newspapers.  But I also am an avid reader.  I’ve read a ton of mysteries and romance since…forever.

I’m not sure what actually drove me to think I could write a book, but I decided to take a correspondence class, and started writing a few children’s stories, gained a bit of confidence, took a few writing classes while working at Cornell. When I signed up for a summer writing course, I had to produce a ten-page paper taking a non-fiction topic and turning it into fiction. Well, after reading it to the class, everyone wanted to know when the book was coming out.  Thus, Ribbons of Steel was hatched. Granted it wasn’t until years later that I considered doing the research and turning it into a historic novel that it was published in 2015 by The Wild Rose Press. In the meantime I joined RWA, Southern Tier Authors of Romance, and a critique group. My learning curve and confidence (should I say determination) took hold. After fits and starts, submissions, rejections, re-submissions, and more determination, my first romantic suspense novel—Amazon Connection (published in 2008, by the Wild Rose Press)—saw the light of day, and my romance writing career took off.

My story ideas come from my travels, especially for what I like to refer to as my romantic suspense ‘Connection Series’—Amazon Connection, Shanghai Connection, Rio Connection.  The culture and landscape of the countries I visit play a big part in my novels. And I’ve learned from the summer class I took at Cornell, to find something that is really happening in the country I’m placing my characters in, and build a fictional situation/conflict around it. And yes, this requires a bit of research as I go along. Of course, when I travel, I take a ton of pictures, pick up literature that is current wherever possible, and make sure I get into the depths of the interior to explore and take advantage of the adventures.

And yes, to answer the question: Do You See Yourself in Your Characters?  My heroine is a bit like me. I’ve always said I’m not a brave person (of a lot of things, especially heights and creepy-crawlies), BUT, I don’t like to be left behind. And that motto has gotten me in to situations that I’ve been able to use in my novels. Like alligator hunting at midnight and getting stuck in the middle of Amazon’s back of beyond.  My Brand Promise for my Connection Series is: Carol Henry takes you to love in Exotic Places—adventures were the heroine discovers more than the ‘wild and wonderful’ world around her—she finds her inner courage and an once-in-a-lifetime love!

My contemporary novels however, show a grittier heroine who has learned to stand up for herself, and somehow, I find that most of my novels still includes a bit of a travel location that I’ve visited. For example, without my knowing it, I’ve included Hawaii in Juelle’s Legacy, a Lobster Cove Book from the Wild Rose Press, and even the sequel Breakfast with Santa, has my heroine tripping off to Norway to catch up with her fiancée.

I love holiday romances, and besides Breakfast with Santa (loosely based on an event that is held here in town, annually), my novel ‘Nothing Short of a Miracle’ was an original start at writing that I pulled out of my bottom drawer and decided it was worth another look. And it paid off.  It was snapped up, rated #1 as an Amazon Encore Exclusive, and held that title for 21 days, along with my author rank at #7. It remained on the top 100 books for even longer, and is still doing well. Wish you see my happy dance—or maybe not J

Why do I write what I write?  The old saying: “write what you know” kind of describes me.  As you can see, I tend to be an eclectic writer, although most of my novels are contemporary. And, I still have a lot of experiences, adventures, and human interest tales to fill a few more books.

What’s next?  Cairo Connection, of course. Readers have been asking for the sequel to Ribbons of Steel, and perhaps another Lobster Cove book. And my ‘Connection Series’ has been contracted and auditioned for Audible—coming soon.

Tell us a little about Breakfast With Santa:

Six years ago Katelyn experienced heaven in Mark Logan’s arms. But when Mark joined the Special Forces, he left her with shattered dreams—and, unbeknownst to him, carrying his unborn baby. Now, he’s back in Lobster Cove, and she’s engaged to another man. But with her fiancé in Norway, Katelyn volunteers to play an elf at the annual Breakfast with Santa event.

Mark Logan-aka Santa–can’t keep his eyes off Katelyn in her sexy elf outfit, which brings back feelings better left hidden. After all, he only returned to Lobster Cove to keep his two-year-old son safe from kidnappers, not to rekindle an old romance.

Katelyn, conflicted between her renewed feelings for Mark and the secret she’s kept from him, flies to Norway to reaffirm her feelings for her fiancé. But when she arrives, she discovers a startling truth. Will unearthed secrets be the key to her happiness or heartache?

A Peek Between the Pages of Breakfast With Santa:

Mark had all he could do to keep his eyes and mind on the kids all morning. Carrying on a conversation with them while watching Katelyn Sullivan out of the corner of his eyes was driving him nuts. She was more beautiful now than she had been six years ago. And hot damn, the elf outfit was just about the sexiest getup he’d seen in a long time. On her, it was like a beacon sending out come-hither signals, like the lighthouse next to her parent’s restaurant. And he had no trouble receiving those signals—loud and clear. They had drifted apart after high school when she went off to attend college and he joined the military. Was she in a relationship now? There’d been rumors, but folks in town weren’t being very forthcoming with details. Lobster Cove’s rumor mill tended to be part myth, part truth, and all wrong sometimes, if he remembered correctly. Hell, he could only imagine what they’d been spreading about him—where he had disappeared to, and why he was back with a two-year-old son in tow. Secret missions for the military left little room for confiding in family or sharing secrets with loved ones. Not sure what his parents had told anyone, but he did know they’d kept his career and his wife’s death to themselves. Of course, they didn’t know the entire story, either.

Dammit! He was tired of guarding secrets.

Katelyn herded a pair of twin boys in his direction. His heart raced as she drew near enough for him to touch her. Instead, he lifted the two four-year-olds on to his knees.

“Ho, ho, ho, Miss Elf. Who do we have here?” He looked directly into her eyes instead of the boys’, hoping she’d recognize him.

She didn’t.

“This is Ryan and Ethan Holmes, Santa. They have a list for you to take back to the North Pole.”

Mark ignored the list and continued gazing into Katelyn’s baby blues. The boys wiggled, diverting his attention back to the main reason he was there—to play Santa. He sighed as she walked away, and vowed he’d find an opportunity to talk to her before the end of the day.

Buy Links:

Amazon Author Page, The Wild Rose Press Author Page

Barnes & Noble: Carol Henry Page

More about the Author!

Carol Henry writes Destination: Romance—Exotic Romantic Suspense Adventures for The Wild Rose Press. A world traveler, Carol writes about her visits to exotic locations for major cruise lines’ deluxe in-cabin books Porthole Cruise Magazine, and takes pleasure in weaving her own adventures with her ‘characters’ and readers in her “Connection” Series—Amazon Connection, Shanghai Connection, and Rio Connection—where the heroine finds more than the ‘wild and wonderful’ world around her—she finds her inner courage, and a once-in-a-lifetime love.

Her contemporary novels include Nothing Short of a Miracle—a holiday romance picked up by Amazon Encore and became a #1 Best Seller; and Juelle’s Legacy and Breakfast With Santa—part of the Lobster Cove Series through The Wild Rose Press.

Her books have garnered awards from Preditor’s and Editors Readers Poll’s, placing 5th in Best Book/Ebook in 2015 for Breakfast with Santa; 2014 for Juelle’s Legacy, and 2013 for Nothing Short of A Miracle. All her novels continue to garner 5 STAR Reviews.

Carol has taught middle school creative writing classes, as well as adult classes on Beyond the Basics, and has been a speaker at various venues. A member of Romance Writers of America® since 1984, she is also a member and past president of RWA’s Chapter, STAR–Southern Tier Authors of Romance, since 2001; and is a member of Sisters in Crime. She is the Co-founder and Chairman of the local Write Now Writers’ Group, is a New York State Historian for her hometown, and has written several history books on the town and village, as well as her historic fiction novel: Ribbons of Steel, an 1877 historic family saga, based on the 1877 Railroad Strike.

Carol’s books are available as Ebooks and book-in-print from The Wild Rose Press and Amazon.com; ebooks are available online at all Ebook stores including Barnes & Noble. You can visit Carol’s website at http://www.carolhenry.org

Find Carol at:

Twitter: https://mobile.twitter.com/carolannhenry

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6582676.Carol_Henry

It was wonderful having you with us today.  Please feel free to stop by anytime. Please everyone enjoy Breakfast With Santa!


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Christmas Traditions Make the Holidays!

One of the fun things about Christmas is traditions. Take for instance, the Land Down Under, because, well, someday I want to visit there, just probably not at Christmas. The English and Irish predominately settled Australia so it stands to reason their traditions reflect those countries. Here’s a few of of their Christmas Traditions.
Christmas Bell FlowerAussie’s decorate their homes with ferns, palm leaves and evergreens along with Cockatoo Christmas bushblooming flowers of Christmas Bush and Christmas Bell Flower. It’s summer time in December down under, when most of the United States is looking forward to big flakes and blankets of snow for a white Christmas.
Carols by Candlelight is one of the popular events in Australia. People come together under the stars at night to light candles and sing Christmas carols. Seems to me, it’s not far from our own tradition of Christmas carolers. I just can’t imagine Christmas without snow, that’s why I live in Colorado.
christmas-dinner-1 AussieChristmas rooChristmas Day is when families and close friends gather from all over Australia for a holiday midday dinner. Some enjoy a traditional British Christmas dinner of roast turkey or ham and rich plum pudding doused in brandy and set on fire before it is brought to the table. Other families head for the backyard barbie to grill their Christmas dinner, maybe shrimp, in the sunshine or go to the beach and enjoy a picnic of cold turkey or ham and a salad. To the delight of children,  Father Christmas  in shorts may appear to greet children at the beach on Christmas! If you can’t have snow, that’s the way to celebrate Christmas.
Because I am of Swedish descent, let’s take a peek at Christmas Traditions in Sweden where in December the days are quite short, the nights long and the ground is usually snow covered. The Christmas season begins at church on the first Sunday of Advent, which is the fourth Sunday before Christmas. Children use an Advent calendar to keep track of the first day of December until Christmas, just like some of ours do. Each morning, they open a flap in the calendar’s Christmas scene to see the charming picture behind it. This year, I have a Victorian Advent calendar on my computer and enjoy a surprise behind each door daily.
Christmas princessThe festivities in Sweden really begin with St. Lucia’s Day, December 13th, a swed treecelebration of the patron saint of light. A Christmas market held in the old medieval section of Stockholm is where you can find handmade toys, ornaments, and candy. Sounds fun, doesn’t it? Some people write a special verse to accompany the gift and even seal the package with colorful sealing wax. I have enough trouble with scotch tape and wrapping paper, I can’t imagine what would happen with hot sealing wax. Not a pretty sight, I’m sure. A Christmas tree is selected by the whole family just a day or two before Christmas and decorated, while the delightful aroma of gingerbread cookies in the shape of hearts, stars, or other festive shapes waft through to house. Christmas Christmas-TableEve is when the main feast is eaten. Presents might be brought by Santa knom(Jultomten) or  by gnomes/elves  named Tomte or Nissar. Many families set out a sheaf of grain on a pole for hungry birds. My hubby and I always put out special treats for the wild birds on Christmas.

christmas treeAs for my family, we put up the tree, Christmas decorations inside and out, the weekend after Thanksgiving. Or try to. No it’s not a real tree, only because I’m allergic. <sigh> We watch Christmas movies throughout December and make candy such as Divinity, Fantasy Fudge and Beaver Dams. What are beaver damsBeaver Dams, you ask. Well, take a package of butterscotch chips, melt them in a double boiler, stir in half-package of crispy Chow Mein Noodles and one half can of cocktail peanuts. Spoon the concoction onto foil and let set. They look like beaver dams hence the name. YUMMY.

This year I’m going, to once again, try my hand at gingerbread cookies. Its become a Christmas Tradition of sorts, an make my family cringe. Why you ask?  I haven’t had a lot of luck in previous years getting a good tasting cookie. Do any of you have a favorite recipe that I could try? Feel free to leave the recipe in the comments section.

Click on cover to read more.

In my book A Witch’s Holiday Wedding, Pepper had Christmas Traditions too, came with her Irish heritage!  Magic of family & friends a Christmas tale of true love. A Sequel to A Witch’s Journey.

Next week My Favorite Things About Christmas. What Christmas Traditions do and your family observe on Christmas Eve and Day? Or during the month of December? I look forward to hearing from you.


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Reckoning by Mike Torreano

Happy holidays to all!  Give a big welcome to Mike Torreano, author of The Reckoning, an historical western set in 1868.

Have a seat and grab an insulated mug. I’ve got hot chocolate, hot cider and coffee. Choose your pot, they’re labeled over on the counter. Pick your choice of a Snicker-doodle, Chocolate Chip or Peanut butter cookie from the plate. Yep, I baked them myself. Lets see what  The Reckoning is all about.  Thanks for joining us!

Mike tell us what  inspired this particular story?

Well, Tena, since I’m a pantser, I really didn’t have much of an idea how The Reckoning would unfold. I took a well-known historical fact-Quantrill’s raid on Lawrence, Kansas in 1863-and spun a western mystery out of it, but I didn’t necessarily have that in mind when I started the story. So, when people ask me what I write, I like to say I write mysteries!
I’d always had the idea of writing a traditional western in the back of my head ever since this Ohio schoolboy discovered Zane Grey in elementary school. I fell in love with the West then, and feel so fortunate to live in Colorado now.
Writing The Reckoning was an adventure, as it usually is for pantsers. The story just unfolded as Ike traveled from Kansas to the high mountain valley of South Park to search for his parents’ killers. I also wanted my story to have strong women alongside strong men, as that’s what it took to survive in the American West in the late nineteenth century.
And yes, one of the advantages of being a pantser is that your characters sometimes do things you never expect. In more than one scene of The Reckoning, my fingers took off and I let them twist and turn the story as they found fit. Unexpected creativity is one of the advantages of being a pantser, but there are certainly drawbacks as well. Like staring at a blank page, and saying to yourself, ‘What happens now’? 🙂
I can certainly relate as I write by the seat of my pants too! LOL  I understand this odd looking contraption you’ve brought with you is a time machine and you’re going to take us back to 1868 to observe a conversation with Ike McAlister of The Reckoning.  Right?
Exactly, back to June of 1868. Okay here we go.
Everything fades in a whirl of color then suddenly stopped. 

The Cottonwood (Colorado) Courier interview with Ike McAlister of The Reckoning, June 1868

 

Courier: Thank you for taking a few minutes with me this morning. (Panting from keeping up with Ike’s long strides).

Ike: (Nods). You’re welcome, but I’m not sure why you’d want to talk with me. I’m new around here.

Courier: I’ve heard you have an interesting background. Except for the Civil War, you’ve always lived in Kansas, is that right? What brings you to Colorado?

Ike: Just felt like I wore my welcome out back there.

Courier: There’s rumors you were a vigilante in Kansas after the war.

Ike: (Stops, strikes a match and lights up). Is that what people say? That I’m a vigilante? Are they sayin’ anything about the Quantrill’s Raiders that killed my folks? And about how no one ever brought any of them to justice? Not likely anyone else is gonna track them down, either. Most men I know would do the same thing I’m doin’. (Stares down at reporter).

Courier: Are you asking me what I’d do in the same situation?

Ike: Not really.

Courier: It’s obvious I’ve touched a nerve.

Ike: Anything else?

Courier: Just a few more questions. I know your sister, Sue, recently disappeared here in Cottonwood. Do you have any clues about what happened to her?

Ike: (Takes a drag). Wish I did. Seems like she just up and vanished in thin air, but she can take care of herself. Always has.

Courier: Does that mean you’re not looking for her?

Ike: (Glares). I’m lookin’ for her. What kind of a brother would I be if I didn’t? I’ll find her.

Courier: I detect a note of anger, or is that uncertainty, in your voice?

Ike: Just stick to your questions.

Courier: What if you never…

Ike: Next question.

Courier: So I hear you’re staying at Lorraine Blanchard’s boarding house. How is that working out?

Ike: What do you mean? (Rubs his beard).

Courier: I don’t mean anything in particular, just that you’re both single and…

Ike: (Reddens). Better stop right there. (Long exhale).

Courier: All right, back to my first question. What brought you and your sister out here?

Ike: My brother, Rob, came out too. We’ve been lookin’ for a good place to make a new start. Cottonwood seems like a nice place.

Courier: The word around town is you’re looking for something all right, but it’s not just a good place to make a new start. That you’re looking for someone in particular here.

Ike: I’m lookin’ to make things right. Anything wrong with that? (Cocks his head at the reporter).

Courier: So, it’s true. You think your folks’ killers are here in Cottonwood, don’t you?

Ike: Hard to say.

Courier: Do you think your sister’s disappearance is connected to your search for them?

Ike: Might be. I’m here to find that out or die tryin’. (Walks away).

The scene fades and the whirl of color returns and stops just like before.

WHEW, what a ride. (I open one eye to make sure we are back to 2017.) Yep!

Mike, tell us a little more about The Reckoning.

Ike McAlister returns home to Kansas after the Civil War, his soul bruised and empty. Worse, his parents have been killed by Quantrills raiders who are still on the loose. No stranger to death and destruction, he vows to run the killers down. A clue leads him to the high plains of Colorado, but when his sister, Sue, disappears from there, his world quickly spins out of control. In the midst of this turmoil, a feisty landlady sparks an attraction, the only good thing in Ike’s life. Racing against time, he must make a deadly choice. If he continues to pursue the killers, Sue will likely never be found. But if he veers off to find his sister, the killers trail will go cold. Which track to follow? Will the love of family triumph in his broken heart, or will it be the passionate hate of revenge?

How about a peek between the pages of The Reckoning:

The cards were coming up aces for the scruffy cowboy across from him. The man was cheating, but Ike couldn’t see how. Ike had been losing to the surly wrangler for more than an hour and still hadn’t figured out his tricks. From what he could see, the man’s shuffle looked okay. His deal looked okay. It had to be something else. The sooner he figured it out the better. The stash of money in front of him had dwindled to next to nothing.

One of the players asked Ike where he was from. “I’m from back east a ways. Came here lookin’ for somebody.”

“Sounds like you’re looking for someone in particular. Mind my asking who?”

The man was a proper-looking sort in a black suit and bolo tie, both out of place in a rundown saloon like the Wildfire. He resembled a banker. Ike decided he might as well answer since he’d already told the sheriff why he was here. “I’m lookin’ for my sister, Sue.”

The cowboy spun a card to Ike that flew off the table. “That one got away from me.”

You can find The Reckoning at Amazon, The Wild Rose Press and other online retail outlets.

More about the author:

Mike writes historical fiction and westerns set in late 19th century America. Growing up in Ohio, he developed a love for the West during grade school when he read every Zane Gray novel he could lay his hands on. His favorite authors in this genre are Gray, Louis L’amour, and Jack London. Favorite poet associated with the North is Robert Service, several of whose poems Mike has memorized and recites.
Mike wrote a short story called The Trade, which is published in an anthology available on Amazon based on his grandfather’s time in the Yukon Gold Rush from 1898-1900. It grew from a kernel of a story his mother shared with him about a dramatic incident his grandfather experienced there.
The Reckoning is his first published novel-thank you, The Wild Rose Press! Set in Colorado during 1868, it’s a tale of murdered parents, a sister’s disappearance, the love of a feisty landlady and a son’s revenge. He’s working on the sequel now and has a trilogy in mind.
He also has a novel titled Fireflies At Dusk set during the Civil War. It is currently gathering dust on an electronic shelf and is a coming of age tale of a young man who throws off his pacifist upbringing and joins the Union Army. The war strips him of his self-respect and he must endure a gritty journey during harsh combat to reclaim it as well as his sweetheart.

You can find Mike at:

 Website miketorreano.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/miketorreano

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/mike_torreano

It was wonderful having you with us today, Mike and Ike.  Please feel free to stop by anytime. Good Luck with The Reckoning.

 


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Mystery of the Missing Christmas Lighting Display

As Christmas approaches one family tradition is to drive the neighborhoods enjoying the Christmas lighting displays everyone puts up.  The last few years there have been less and less.  I understand, as our own lighting display has been downsized.

Last year many around our area protested a utilities rate hike in November set to reap the benefits of those who put up Christmas lighting displays.  Yes, sadly we were one of those, since the year before our December utility bill had been a lot higher than in previous years.  We couldn’t afford another huge increase, and the deliberate timing of the hike was deliberately grinchy, so we put up only the minimal lighting display. It was a sad year for enjoying Christmas lights displays.

This year, the rate hike will be put off until January as in previous years, except last year. Wise decision utilities department. The lightening displays have returned, and ours included.

The real point of this post is for many years, we watched a certain home in our area add to his homemade Christmas display and looked forward to seeing what had been added each year. It was not religious in nature, but fun. There were Peanuts characters, then Tweety Bird & its companions, Little Mermaid, the Grinch, Disney Characters, Winnie the Pooh and pals, just to name a few, all homemade. Spotlights illumined the display.  Suddenly about four years ago, not only were there no new characters, but the display disappeared entirely. Each Christmas we checked, still the house was dark, no sign of the previously wonderful Christmas light and character display. Had they moved, after all this is a military town, people come and go a lot? Was there a family illness or emergency that caused the display to go missing?  While we reveled in the other fantastic lighting displays, we were saddened as we drove past the dark house checking each year.

No we never knew the people who lived in that house. But we felt a connection to them watching the display grow year after year.

Last night, December 10, 2017, we clambered into our truck, hot chocolate in hand, to go check out the neighborhood Christmas lights. With trepidation we turned the corner where the darkened house had been for several years. Lo and behold, in all its previous glory the Christmas lights and beloved characters were on the front lawn, house and roof.  We were ecstatic to see the house lit up once again, the Peanuts merry-go-round spinning slowly, all the other cartoon characters smiling broadly. No new characters, but that was alright because the decorations were back. 

We took pictures, and decided to share the beloved display with you. Funny how one thing can brighten your spirits as that house did ours last night. This year I believe we will go back to that house and knock on their door and tell them how much we have enjoyed their display throughout the years. Also how much we missed it when it was gone.  Christmas lighting is a time consuming, expensive endeavored and a labor of love. To those of you who set up Christmas displays year after year, THANK YOU!

Please share your Christmas Traditions with us in the comments.

 


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