My Favorite Things About Christmas!

With the holiday season in full swing, Thought I’d mention a few of my favorite things. I love Halloween, it’s by far my favorite holiday and decorate for the All Hallows Eve almost as much as I do for Christmas, which comes in a close second. Did I mention, I LOVE to decorate! LOL At Thanksgiving the aroma of turkey, candied sweet potatoes, stuffing and pumpkin pie made the house smell so inviting. My mouth waters just thinking about it. But Christmas…well…
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1. Decorations. First of all, we start decorating the Friday after Thanksgiving. First the outside decorations go up. Then the tree, it’s lights, especially the bubble lights they are mesmerizing to watch. Several years ago, I brought the cutest colorful lifesaver shaped garland that I wind up the stairway banister. The tiny Precious Moments nativity is one I found years ago, along with Sam’s town, the soft lights from their windows are my christmas treeparrots night light during the holidays. IMG_0768
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2. Food. Christmas is turkey, homemade cranberry sauce, rolls, candied yams and pumpkin pie swirled in whipped cream. Yummmm! The leftovers are even better. Sometimes we freeze the turkey leftovers and weeks or even a month later, yummy turkey sandwiches are wonderful.
3. Music. While we decorate the tree, we play a wide variety of Christmas Carols from the traditional to Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer. The carols are sung by rock and roll artists, county western or classical renditions. It has been a family traditional as long as I can remember. We reminisce where the beloved tree decorations passed down generation to generation originated and the funny stories each spark.
4. Movies. It’s officially the Christmas season when we watch Miracle on 31st Street and How the Grinch Stole Christmas with Jim Carey. He is such a hoot. Then its Scrooged with Bill Murray. Afterward most nights we enjoy watching the variety of Christmas movies collected. Yep, get my Christmas movie fix.
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5. Christmas Light Looking. It isn’t Christmas without getting in the SUV and driving through town admiring everyone’s decorations. Some lighting displays are synchronized with popular holiday music wafting through the crisp night air as you drive by.  It’s beautiful and we enjoy it every year with a mug of hot chocolate and Christmas cookies we pack with us for the drive.

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6. Family and Friends. The best part of the holidays is connecting with family and friends, whether it’s a long over-due phone call to catch up or a board game with friends. Years ago, I started writing a Christmas letter with our family’s actives for the year, complete with pictures. Since then it’s become a tradition. Friends and family look forward to that letter and make sure updated address are in my hands by Thanksgiving. There have been scary times, happy times, sad and in-between times, but keeping in touch seems help everyone weather the preverbal storms.  It’s been a rough year for many.

Click on the cover to read more or buy.

One last favorite thing of mine is to curl up in front of a crackling fireplace with a good book and a mug of homemade hot chocolate. Speaking of good books, have a look at my latest release, A Vampire’s Unlikely Alliance, Not what you’ve come to expect from a Vampire Tale! Exciting romantic fantasy where magic may save the day. But will it be too late?

So there you have it, a few of my favorite things. What are yours?

With that, I’ll wish you all Love and Laughter. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! Got any resolutions? Come on, you know you do. LOL What do you plan to change and what do you hope to see in 2018? I look forward to hearing from you! See you next year. I know it’s an old cliché, but couldn’t help myself!


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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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The Key To His Heart by Barbara Burke

Happy holidays to all!  Give a big welcome to Barbara Burke, author of The Key To His Heart, a Steampunk Christmas Fairy Tale, released December 1, 2017. 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. Barbara I see your brought guests.  

Yes, meet Andres Barbot and Arabella Pike

Nice to meet all of your. Thanks for joining us!

First, Barbara, tell us what inspired this particular story?

Beauty and the Beast has always been my favourite fairy tale so I felt quite cheeky having a go at rewriting it. However, I really enjoyed putting it in a new setting: a steampunk version of Newfoundland at Christmas. Now my only regret is that I didn’t make it longer.

Characters act true to themselves. Sometimes the way they do that can be surprising, but if you know them well enough you can tell if they’re acting authentically or just trying to mess with you (and some of them really enjoy messing with you).

I like to have a general idea about a story and a good grasp of the characters. Then I just let them get on with it while I try to get as much down on paper as possible.

Oh, I have to agree some of my characters love to mess with me! Now Andre, would you mind answering a few questions for me?

Not at all.

What event in your past has left the most indelible impression on you?

The airship crashed that caused my mother’s death. We struck the rocks and my body was so badly damaged no one thought I would live. My father…repaired me, is the only suitable way to phrase it. And turned me into a monster thereby.

What do you most value?

My privacy. If I’m forced to live life as a monster then let me do it outside the public eye. Having rocks thrown at you, being jeered at in the street, seeing revulsion on people’s faces. I’ve had enough. I simply want to be left alone.

What is the type of woman you want to spend the rest of your life with?

No woman would want to spend the rest of her life with me. I don’t allow myself to dream about the kind of woman I would want to be with always.

What is your biggest secret?

My biggest secret is that I don’t want to live out my life alone and I do sometimes dream of a woman who will accept me for what I am, who won’t feel repulsed by my appearance and my mechanical heart.

Thank you so much, It was wonderful learning about you.

Arabella it’s your turn on the hot seat.

Who were the biggest role models in your life?

Hmm, I didn’t really have any growing up. I’m from a small town – we call it an outport here – and most of the people around me, kids and adults, thought I was pretty strange. I was always mucking about with bits of machines or airships if I could get my hands on one. Fortunately, my father found a way to get me the education I needed to pursue that life.

What kind of man do you want to spend the rest of your life with?

One who recognizes that I’m not just messing about in my chosen career until I get married and settle down. Machines need love and attention, too, and I could no more stop tinkering than I could stop eating.

What kind of man would you never choose?

One who expects me to sit at home knitting and producing babies on an annual basis. Also, one who wasn’t inherently kind.

What is most important to you in life?

Love. It doesn’t matter what the subject is, be it another person or a sunset. Love makes the world a better place and it makes you a better person.

What is your biggest fear?

I try not to let fear take hold of me. Life is a challenge and you never know what’s ahead. Embrace life, don’t be held back by the fear of it.

Those are great words to live by.  Thank you so much for dropping by.

 

Click the cover to read more or buy.

Tell us a little about The Key To His Heart. A Steampunk Christmas Fairy Tale.

Since he was a small child Andre has been treated like a monster because of his mechanical parts – scorned and reviled by children and adults alike. He’s learned to hide himself away from people.
Arabella, an airship engineer in training, doesn’t believe he’s a monster at all. But can she convince him of that?
When she’s forced to join him on his airship, The Rose, on a flight through the winter skies it’s an opportunity to teach him that love is for everyone and humanity is more than just flesh and blood.

How about a sneak peek between the pages of The Key To His Heart.

By late afternoon they had traversed most of the island. Barbot explained that they would put down for the night so they could cross the water in the daytime.

“And of course you must sleep,” Arabella said. “You can’t keep this up all day and night as well.”

“I could if I had to, but I prefer not to. We have everything we need onboard. Do you mind putting down away from a town? It will make it easier to get off quickly in the morning.”

“You’re the boss.”

“I wish I could believe you think so, but my mind is full of doubt,” he replied, and Arabella could hear a smile in his voice. “I know a spot not half an hour’s flight from here that will do very well. We’ll dine as soon as we touch down. In the meantime if you’d like to freshen up I will meet you in the salon at -” he pulled a large timepiece out from under his cloak “- 6 o’clock.”

“Nonsense,” Arabella exclaimed. “You’ll need help getting the ship powered off and battened down for the night. I’m not swanning off like some lady of leisure to powder my nose and tighten my corset while you do all the work.”

“And yet less than one minute ago you informed me, with a completely straight face, that I was the boss.”

“But that was-“

“It was not different,” he interrupted. “I know what I’m doing. Go.”

Arabella went.

The Key To His Heart is available at most online retailers including Amazon

About the Author:

Barbara Burke’s peripatetic life means she’s lived everywhere from a suburban house in a small town to a funky apartment in a big city, and from an architecturally designed estate deep in the forest to a cedar shack on the edge of the ocean. Everywhere she’s gone she’s been accompanied by her husband, her animals and her books. For the last fifteen years she’s worked as a freelance journalist and has won several awards. She was a fan of Jane Austen long before that lady was discovered by revisionists and zombie lovers and thinks Georgette Heyer was one of the great writers of the twentieth century. She lives by the philosophy that one should never turn down the opportunity to get on a plane no matter where it’s going, but deep down inside wishes she could travel everywhere by train. Ironically she now lives on an island in the middle of the Atlantic that has no trains at all.

You can find Barbara at the links below.

barbaraburke@nl.rogers.com

https://www.facebook.com/Barbara-Burke-162847103814669/

https://barbaraburkeauthor.wordpress.com/

It was wonderful having you with us today.  Please feel free to stop by anytime. Good Luck with The Key To His Heart!


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