Tuesday, December 11, 2018

A special Christmas present—the Hallmark Channel by Jan Scarbrough #Gemsinattic


There was my husband sitting on the sofa with a tear in his eye. We were watching a Hallmark Channel Christmas movie.

“I’m a softy,” he said.

Why do we waste time during the holidays watching these movies? They are so predictable! The writer in me analyzed their pre-requisites:

  • A boy friend who’s not right for the heroine
  • A handsome hero who is totally opposite from the heroine
  • A well-meaning friend, angel, or relative who guides the heroine
  • A heroine with a busy career, or she’s seeking a career, or she’s a single mom
  • A visit to the Christmas tree lot and decorating the tree
  • A baking cookies scene
  • A belief that “it’s Christmas!” and that because it’s Christmas anything can happen

But you know the real reason we watch Hallmark Christmas movies? These movies make us feel happy. That’s why!

Janie Emaus explains why the movies make her feel happy in her Huffington Post blog 4 Reasons Hallmark Movies Saved My Holiday Spirit. Read it. She explains it very well.

I like one of her conclusions. Emaus says, “I’d like to think this can happen in real life. That we do give people a second chance.”

Second chances are important to me. I’ve had my second, or third, or fourth chance. I write about second chances. One of my favorite themes is the reunion story where hero and heroine get a second chance at love.

What about you? Do you believe in do-overs? Second chances?

My newest second chance book—Kentucky Groom

Rakuten kobo: http://bit.ly/2R93GyK

For Jay Preston, being a young computer genius working in his family’s business empire isn’t enough. The software he created may have made him a millionaire, but it hasn’t made him happy. Seeking simple honesty in his life, he takes a temporary job in a place that made him happy in his youth, grooming American Saddlebred horses near Louisville, Kentucky. Then a beautiful woman from his past walks back into his life.

Life isn’t easy for the widowed Carrie Mercer. Raising her daughter alone, she’s struggling to make ends meet while paying for her daughter’s horse. She can’t possibly be falling for the handsome new groom at her daughter’s stable. He’s too young for her, isn’t he? Although he may be a true gentleman, there’s something secretive about him.

Then tragedy strikes, endangering Carrie’s daughter. Carrie married once before for her daughter’s sake. Is she willing to risk her heart a second time when Jay offers a tantalizing proposition? Jay’s always wanted to be loved for himself, not his millions, but the shy widow and her little daughter need him. Can a marriage of convenience prove that a California millionaire can be the perfect Kentucky groom?

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Upcoming Exciting Titles from our Gems! #GemsinAttic @BonnieEdwards

Every month we'll try to post a list of upcoming releases on the last Monday of each month.

Thanksgiving got in the way this time so we're a little behind. (see my earlier post with reasons for America to join Canada for an October Thanksgiving - yes, I'm joking...sort of)

November 2018
Gerry Bartlett TEXAS LIGHTNING (Lone Star Suspense #1) Kensington Lyrical Liaison
Jo Ann Brown AN AMISH PROPOSAL (Amish Hearts #6 re-release 2-in-1 with AMISH CHRISTMAS JOY) Harlequin Love Inspired
Jo Ann Brown AMISH CHRISTMAS BLESSINGS (re-release 2-in-1 with HER AMISH CHRISTMAS SWEETHEART) Harlequin Love Inspired
Jo Ann Brown A HERO FOR CHRISTMAS (Sanctuary Bay #2 re-release in large print) Harlequin Love Inspired Historical
Maddie James (wa Sophie Jacobs) ONE MORE KISS (Harbor Falls Romance #14) Sand Dune Books Indie
Karen Kelley UNLEASH THE PASSION (Unleash #2) K and K publishing Indie
Karen Whiddon COLTON'S CHRISTMAS COP Harlequin Romantic Suspense

December 2018
Maddie James (wa Sophie Jacobs) NOT THIS CHRISTMAS (Harbor Falls Romance #15) Sand Dune Books Indie
Jan Scarbrough KENTUCKY GROOM (Bluegrass Reunion series #5) Saddle Horse Press (Indie)
Joan Reeves BRIANNA'S SEASON FOR MIRACLES (Small Town Texas #2) Proudly Indie
Joan Reeves CHRISTMAS BABY CAPER (Vernon Ladies Bridge Club #1) Proudly Indie

January 2019
Jo Ann Brown AN AMISH ARRANGEMENT (Amish Hearts #7 re-release 2-in-1 with AN AMISH NOEL) Harlequin Love Inspired
Maddie James (wa Sophie Jacobs) LOST AND FOUND Sand Dune Books Indie
Cheryl Bolen LAST DUKE STANDING (Lords of Eton, Book 3) Harper & Appleton 

March 2019
Jo Ann Brown THE AMISH BACHELOR’S BABY (Amish Spinster Club #3) Harlequin Love Inspired

April 2019
Pamela Tracy THE SOLDIER'S VALENTINE (Sarasota Falls #3) Harlequin Heartwarming
Karen Whiddon TEXAS RANCH JUSTICE Harlequin Romantic Suspense

May 2019
Joan Reeves SUMMER'S FORTUNE, Happily Indie

June 2019
Jo Ann Brown THE AMISH SUITOR (Amish Spinster Club #1 re-release 2-in-1 with HER FORGIVING AMISH HEAT) Harlequin Love Inspired

July 2019
Jo Ann Brown THE AMISH WIDOWER’S TWINS (Amish Spinster Club #4) Harlequin Love Inspired

December 2019
Jo Ann Brown TITLE TBA (Amish Helping Hands #1) Harlequin Love Inspired

To be announced:
Gerry Bartlett TEXAS TROUBLE (Lone Star Suspense #2) Kensington Lyrical Liaison
Gerry Bartlett TEXAS TOUGH (Lone Star Suspense #3) Kensington Lyrical Liaison
Jo Ann Brown TITLE TBA (Amish Helping Hands #2) Harlequin Love Inspired
Jo Ann Brown TITLE TBA (Amish Helping Hands #3) Harlequin Love Inspired
Karen Kelley WHEN ALL ELSE FAILS (The Good Girls #3) Sourcebooks Casablanca
Bonnie Edwards CRAVING JAKE (Return to Welcome Book 3) Happily Indie
Bonnie Edwards THOSE O'BANION BOYS Happily Indie

Saturday, December 8, 2018

Christmas Spirit Caught on Film

Okay, I'm just going to say it ... I am not a fan of Hallmark Christmas movies. If that means I'll get coal in my stocking, so be it. As much as a love movies about the holidays, and romantic comedies, I just can't get into an entire month of movies that are, quite truthfully, all the same! And, to make matters worse, have the same stars repeating in nearly half of them.

I prefer a movie with character. Something that is so great that it's almost impossible to carbon copy. Mix in a variety of time frames and you have me hooked and, hot chocolate in hand, glued to the television.

 
I posted this picture on Facebook the other day and was inundated with comments about how it reminded them of Miracle on 34th Street. As much as I'd like to confirm that the little girl in the picture is Natalie Wood and the Santa the wonderful Edmund Gwenn, it's not. It's ME ... taken when I was four and half with the store Santa at J.L. Hudson in Downtown Detroit!

The "real" Miracle on 34th Street also starred the beautiful Maureen O'Hara and devilishly handsome John Payne. Released in 1947, it became an instant classic. There have been remakes, but none have come close to the original. Gwenn's portrayal of the Jolly Old Elf made you believe in magic and the possibility that Santa truly was real.

My favorite quote: “I believe ... I believe. It’s silly, but I believe.” ~ Miracle on 34th Street

The post-World War II era also brought us another classic holiday movie. Released in 1946, It's a Wonderful Life brought the audience to tears with it's story of overcoming perceived failure and the resilience of the spirit. The movie starred the amazing Jimmy Stewart, Donna Reed and the less-known Henry Travers as Clarence, the angel in search of his wings.

My favorite quote:  “Every time a bell rings an angel gets his wings.” ~ It’s a Wonderful Life

As much as I enjoy both of these classics, my all-time favorite holiday movie is a far more recent one. It combines two of my favorite things ... Christmas and romance ... in perfect harmony. While You Were Sleeping, starring Sandra Bullock, Bill Pullman, and Peter Gallagher is a near-perfect story of finding love where you least expect it. The fact that the movie is set during the holiday season is just the bow on top of the present!

My favorite quote: "If you fit into my pants, I'll kill myself." ~ While you Were Sleeping

As with most romance authors, I've set a couple of books during the holiday season. My first is a sweet romance set in the 1920's.


Prohibition Era, Chicago


Caught in a raid at an illegal speakeasy, good girl Erin O'Mara loses everything: her job, her home, and her reputation. Handsome and so out of her league attorney Seth Harrison, her best friend's brother, rescues her not once, but twice. He bails her out of jail and offers her a job as nanny for his son.

Seth has no intention of falling in love after the death of his wife. But despite his better judgment, he can't help being drawn to Erin's innocence. This Christmas, letting go of the past and embracing the future may be the greatest present of all.


The second is a more modern and much spicier take on the holiday that includes a hilarious case of mistaken identity.


When a case of mistaken identity puts Cade Tucker in the wrong place at the right time, he can't believe his luck. Drawn to the beautiful Julia McCormack, he flirts his way into her bed, and they welcome the New Year together.


Though they agreed their time together was no-strings-attached sex only, Julia’s having a hard time letting go of the best sex she ever had. She dives into work at her corporate law firm, hoping to get her mind off the man who rocked her world. But then Julia finds out the senior partner has appointed a new attorney to work with her on her biggest case, and her co-counsel will be Cade Tucker. Her plans to make partner are in serious jeopardy when she and Cade disagree on the best legal strategy for their case, but what will happen when they can no longer fight their desire, and the company’s strict non-fraternization policy threatens both of their jobs?


Which holiday movie is your favorite? I'd love know. Old or new, it doesn't matter.

I'll be back for my regular monthly post on the 17th when I'll share some great holiday recipes. Until then, stay happy, stay healthy, stay well read.

Nancy

Friday, December 7, 2018

Rambling Christmas Narrative + Giveaway by @JoanReeves

Oh, my goodness. I can't believe it's my turn to blog.

I've blogged so much lately on my own blog, SlingWords, and my other group blogs that I feel kind of written out.

Of course, it may be that I'm more in the mood to decorate for Christmas than to blog.

I put the "motorized" deer in the front yard today--after scooping up about 50 pounds of acorns and leaves from the driveway, flagstone courtyard, and entry way.

I kid you not! The giant oak tree in the front yard could repopulate the Amazon rain forest if live oaks grow there. Should I tell you about my back ache? No, guess not. Hubby might see this post then he'd fuss at me.

A Deer Story

As I cleaned up the debris and put the 2 lighted reindeer in place, I couldn't help but remember my neighbor who lived across the street from me a few years ago when we lived in a golf course community.

She had 2 life-sized deer. One was a buck and the other a doe. The doe looked to be grazing on the grass, and the buck stood alertly as if looking around.

Early one Sunday morning I opened the blinds. The sun was just coming up so most of the lights of the yard decorations were still on.

My attention was caught immediately by the scene across the street. Someone--probably 1 or more teenagers in the neighborhood--had rearranged the 2 deer.

The doe was still "grazing," but the buck had been re-positioned.

Now the buck stood behind the doe, with his front legs raised up so he looked as if he was...uh...hmm...well...

Let's just say the 2 deer were posed in a compromising position.

Oh, my goodness! I laughed hysterically then I got the camera. I wasn't the only one out there taking pictures either.

We happened to have house guests, and they used the photo they took for their Christmas letter the following year.

The fun ended when NAME WITHHELD came out to see why so many people were in their front yard. I would post the picture here, but this blog has a PG rating. *LOL*

Have you seen some funny Christmas decorations--whether intentionally or accidentally funny?

Answer the question in Comments and leave your email address written out to be entered in my December Giveaway.

For details, see December Giveaway at the top of the left sidebar on my blog SlingWords.

Winner selected by Random Draw. Prizes are: print books, journals, flashlight pens, and more.

For Your Consideration

Tonight is the first of the Christmas parties we'll attend. I love parties because it's an excuse to dress up which I don't do very often. Naturally, it's supposed to rain buckets and storm late afternoon and evening.

In my latest romance, Brianna's Season for Miracles,  Brianna and Daniel, her hero, attend the biggest Christmas party in New Estacado, a small town in the Panhandle of Texas--with some unintended consequences.

Last Christmas was the last straw for Brianna Walker. She hated her life. Too much whisky, too much misery, and too much loneliness had resulted in a very public embarrassment. Vowing never to return to her hometown, she left for Vegas, a city where she could be anonymous instead of grist for her hometown’s gossip mill.

Brianna faced the fact that if she wanted her life to be different, she had to change. Instead of partying all night and sleeping all day, she ditched her so-called friends and the seductive persona she hid behind and vowed to do whatever was necessary so she could look at herself in the mirror without being disgusted. She knew that changing her actions wouldn’t do a darn thing to “fix” her, but she had to start somewhere.

When she meets Daniel Kelly, his warmth and kindness—qualities she’d never found in any of the men she’d dated—attract her. To her surprise, she finds his intelligence, courtesy, and "niceness" enormously appealing—and sexy.

Best of all, he’s a stranger in town and doesn’t know her reputation, but she’s learned it’s safer to avoid men like him for fear she might want forever out of the relationship. A man like Daniel would never want forever with her once he knew her true self, but believing that doesn’t stop her from falling for him. But wait, Daniel has a secret of his own!

Only at Amazon and only 99cents for 1 week after release on Dec. 11. Preorder now! Price rises to $2.99 after the first week. Get your copy today.

VISIT JOAN & FOLLOW HER ONLINE

Amazon Author Page * BookBub Author Page * Facebook Fan Page * Twitter * YouTube * Joan's Website.

Be the first to know about New Books and Giveaways, sign up for Joan's Mailing List.

Thursday, December 6, 2018

It’s been fifty years! by Jan Scarbrough #Gemsinattic


“1968 in the United States was marked by several major historical events. It is often considered to be one of the most turbulent years of the 20th century.”

I went back to 1968 for a writing project a few years ago. To do this, I used memory, but I also researched the year, refreshing my memory with historical facts.

In August 2017, I wrote a Gems in the Attic blog asking Are you a worrier? All my young life, I recalled hearing stories of “THE DEPRESSION,” a multi-year event that shaped my parents’ lives. My father’s family couldn’t find enough food. My grandfather lost his job. He had six children. My mom’s family had six children too. They were dirt poor, but they lived in a farm which helped. Times were tough. I ended the blog with the realization that all times are tough, because basically life is tough. “It’s about perspective, isn’t it?”

My writing project were two novellas set in 1968 and 1969. I’m reducing the price of A Groovy Christmas for the holiday season. The ebook is now 99 cents. My characters revisit the time where women “wore flowers in their hair.” It’s a “happily-ever-after” take on a period of history that many of us may still remember.


A Groovy Christmas (1968)

Like the Hatfield’s and the McCoy’s, Kathleen and Grant’s families have been feuding for decades. At Christmas Kathleen discovers that free sex is not so free, and sometimes the man of your dreams comes into your life when you least expect it.

Not Quite Christmas (1969)

Accountant Frank Smith doesn’t want to go home for Christmas, not after he was dumped by his long-time girlfriend on Christmas Day a year ago. Avoiding Legend, Tennessee, is high on his priority list until he meets his mother’s houseguest—hippie chick Emmy Johnson, a girl with a past . . . . and maybe Frank’s future.

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

NOT QUITE WHAT I INTENDED by Hannah Rowan


From time to time I’ll see something online or in a magazine that looks like a good craft project or a tasty meal. I gather up the ingredients, print out the instructions, and get to work.

A niece posted a picture of a lovely wreath on her Facebook page last year.  It was a fall wreath made with burlap ribbon and with fall flowers affixed to it.  I watched the online video and it looked oh-so-easy.  I decided it would make a fun craft project for the residents in the assisted living facility where I work.  I bought wires to bend into circles, yards and yards of burlap ribbon, and an assortment of colorful leaves, flowers, and berries. Once I arrived at work and distributed the materials to my residents I attempted to demonstrate this supposedly easy-peasy wreath-making procedure and they attempted to follow along.  All I can say is that though working on the project provided a lot of laughs, it did not produce a wreath that any sane person would care to hang on their door, and I threw the supplies away.

While following Rachael Ray’s recipe for cherry chicken, I had a bit more luck.  Even though the process ran smoothly, and I anticipated wowing my dinner guests with a new and different take on chicken, at the last minute I grabbed the red pepper flakes to sprinkle on the few dashes called for in the recipe.  But I opened the wrong side of the jar, so instead of a dash of red pepper flakes, I had about half a jar.  Need I say that no amount of scraping could eliminate the fiery substance?  Fortunately, I had made a few other entrees, so our dinner wasn’t a complete disaster.

I college I took up knitting and crocheting as a way to relax.  I still don’t quite understand where I went wrong, but the scarf I so painstakingly knit somehow turned into a blanket, and the hat I crocheted could have covered a beach ball.

So it was with some surprise that I realized the chocolate-covered Oreo cookies I made to bring to Thanksgiving dinner didn’t turn out so bad!  Well, OK, they didn’t exactly look like the picture I saw on Pinterest, but at least it was obvious that they were little smiley faces.  Even though some of the faces resembled the old, squished Mr. Bill from the early days of Saturday Night Live, at least they tasted good!

And so it is with my writing.  I may have a vision of what I want a story to say but I can never seem to get the words to come out exactly the way I imagine them.  At least they seem to come out a little closer to my warped smiley-faces than to my cherry chicken or disastrous crafts.

I’m grateful for that!

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

A Christmas Story by @BonnieEdwards - My favourite Christmas movie #GemsinAttic

A theme we're exploring on the Gems in the Attic Blog this month is our favourite Christmas movies. Mine? A Christmas Story written by Jean Shepherd, starring Peter Billingsley, Darren McGavin, and Melinda Dillon.

Brilliant! I love this movie for the sweet taste of childhood.

No other Christmas movie spoke to me the way this one did when it came out.

Aside from being a girl, I was Ralphie. I remember pleading my case for a Barbie doll with the very same fervour Ralphie used for his Red Ryder BB Gun. My mother's objection to Barbie didn't stem from the fear of injury, but rather that Barbie was a teenager and therefore too adult for me. (I lived with four teenage siblings at the time, so, what was that about? Boobs?)

I also saw kids stick their tongues on metal poles in the schoolyard. I wasn't one of them, but only because I'd already experienced my tongue sticking to Popsicles in the summertime.

We wore toques (I'm Canadian so that's what we call the stocking cap) just like the one in the movie.

As a kid, I was wedged into a snowsuit that was so thick I couldn't move.

And here's the last and most nostalgic reason. I grew up in Toronto and some of the movie was filmed there. The streetcars used in the movie were still in service. (Gone now...replaced with sleeker models) And those department store windows! Eaton's and Simpson's were the competing stores when I was a kid. We'd make a trip downtown on a streetcar to see all the window displays. They were amazing!

Santa's Village was on the top floor of Eaton's and it was a wonderland complete with a train that took children through the North Pole on the way to see the Jolly Old Elf.

This movie hit so many highlights of my childhood Christmases I couldn't help but fall in love. This love affair continues.

After writing this blog and remembering all the reasons A Christmas Story is my favourite movie of the season, I have a wish for Christmas: watching this with my grandchildren this year. Excuse me while I make a phone call...

I have a trilogy of Christmas novellas set in the harbour town where I live. If you're curious about how I write about the season (if only I could come up with something as fun as Jean Shepherd did) you can check these books out:

Not-So-Blue Christmas, Invitation to Christmas, and One Crazy Christmas. This series is an Amazon Exclusive and they've kindly given them a series page so it's one-click shopping.

For the whole trilogy...


Monday, December 3, 2018

Gingerbread Cookies by Connie Vines #gemsintheattic, #Iamthankful

I am thankful for the blessings of joy, family, and friendship this holiday season.

I thought I'd share another favorite holiday recipe from my kitchen.

As you know I love gingerbread.  My kitchen is decorated with gingerbread collectibles and I love to bake and share my recipes.

My heroines also love to cook (though, some are mores successful than others).

My dinning room table




Soft Gingerbread Cookies

INGREDIENTS:

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup dark brown sugar, packed (light brown sugar may be substituted)
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1/3 cup molasses (dark); (light or medium may be used; blackstrap will be too pungent)
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
pinch salt
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar

Cinnamon-Sugar Coating
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 to 3 teaspoons cinnamon

DIRECTIONS:
1. Cookies – To the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or large mixing bowl and electric mixer) combine the butter, sugars, egg, and beat on medium-high speed until creamed and well combined, about 4 minutes.
2. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, and add the molasses, vanilla, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, nutmeg, optional salt, and beat on medium-high speed until combined and smooth, about 1 minute.
3. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, and add the flour, cornstarch, baking soda, cream of tartar, and beat on low speed until just combined, about 45 seconds.
4. Using a medium 2-inch cook scoop form two tablespoon mounds (I made 20). Place mounds on a large plate or tray, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 3 hours. The dough isn’t suitable for baking until it’s been chilled.
5. Preheat oven to 350 F, line baking sheets parchment paper or spray with cooking spray; set aside.
6. Cinnamon-Sugar Coating – Add sugar and cinnamon to a small bowl and stir to combine.
7. Roll each mound of dough through the coating, liberally coating all sides.  (You may double dip for extra coating.)
8. Place coated mounds on baking sheets, spaced at least 2 inches apart. Bake for about 8 to 9 minutes, or until edges have set and tops are crackled; don’t over bake for soft cookies (8 to 8 1/2 minutes for soft; for crispier cookies, bake longer). Cookies firm up as they cool. Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet for about 10 minutes before serving.
9. Cookies will keep airtight at room temperature for up to 1 week or in the freezer for up to 6 months. Alternatively, unbaked cookie dough can be stored in the freezer for up to 4 months.


Wishing you a  December filled with family, friends, and wonderful stories to read,

Connie






Purchase Link:

 https://books2read.com/Brede

Trouble is something hard-edged rancher, Brede Kristensen, knows all about.  A widower with a rambunctious young daughter, a ranch to run and an ornery cook who has just runoff, Brede doesn’t need another problem.  Yet in the midst of a violent storm, he finds an injured woman.  The beautiful woman can’t recall her name or her past, but Brede vows to protect her from harm.  What he hadn’t bargained for was her laughter and gentleness finding a way into the lonely corners of his heart.
***

“Ms Vines has written a suspenseful romantic tale. Brede and Amberlynn are very strong and likeable characters.  Brede’s daughter, Gretchen, adds a lot to the story.  The ranch hands are very colorful and fun, especially Caldwell, the ornery cook.  His elopement had me laughing out loud!  This is a very entertaining story.
Rating: 4 cups for “Brede” Rodeo Romance, Book 2
Maura, CoffeeTimeRomance and Find Out About New Books


Sunday, December 2, 2018

Holiday Ornaments for Readers by @JoanReeves #GemsInAttic

Snowman Picture Ornament $7.50
I have a little shop in cyberspace called WriteWay.

My shop is geared toward readers and writers. For writers, I have promotion items and gifts for writers that they'd love to receive.

For readers, I have gifts that speak to the love of reading.

I've begun updating the items in WriteWay and am adding new designs for the holidays. I wanted to share a few with you because I think they're special.

These 3 ornaments feature quotations by Louisa May Alcott since most of us authors have a fondness for Little Women.

3 Holiday Ornaments for Readers

 Snowman Picture Ornament shown above says: "Nothing is impossible to a determined woman." That is the absolute truth. *g*

Santa & Witty Quote Picture Ornament $7.50
Each of these custom aluminum ornaments 2.375" x 3" with the image/quotation design printed on one-side in full color with a glossy no peel finish. Red ribbon included for hanging.

Each ornament is only $7.50 if you click on the link in this post. If you go to the CafePress Marketplace, they'll cost considerably more so use the links in this post and make sure the price before any tax and shipping is $7.50.

Santa & Witty Quote Picture Ornament says: "Nothing provokes speculation more than the sight of a woman enjoying herself."

Another truth, right, ladies?

The last new design is another image/quotation by Louisa May Alcott.

Quotation for Women Picture Ornament $7.50
The Emerging Woman Picture Ornament says: "The emerging woman will be: strong-minded, strong-hearted, strong-souled, strong-bodied. Strength & beauty must go together."

All of our daughters and granddaughters should be taught this!

Yes, I like to celebrate woman power and love doing it with wisdom from some of our greatest authors.

If you're a book lover, you want these. If you're an author, you'll want them too!

I'll be adding more designs this next week.

Time to start decorating, and these ornaments will brighten whatever spot you hang them in--not to mention your mood!

Do you like themed ornaments?

December Giveaway

By the way, my December Giveaway started yesterday. It's a random drawing giveaway. To be entered, leave a comment in answer to the question above along with your email address written out.

Comments with an email address on any of my blog posts here on Gems in the Attic, on my personal blog, SlingWords, or on my other group blogs: Smart Girls Read Romance and  Authors Billboard will be entered in the Random Drawing.

Feel free to visit all those blogs and leave comments with an email address on any/all of my posts.

Last month I gave away 2 writing journals as prizes. This month, the prize package will be shown on SlingWords as soon as I get some pictures taken. Drop by SlingWords after 3pm CST on Dec. 2 to see the prizes--all details of the Giveaway are there too.

VISIT JOAN & FOLLOW HER ONLINE

Amazon Author Page * BookBub Author Page * Facebook Fan Page * Twitter * YouTube * Joan's Website.

Be the first to know about New Books and Giveaways, sign up for Joan's Mailing List.

Saturday, December 1, 2018

My Favorite Christmas Movie by Cheryl Bolen


I doubt there are many of you who haven’t seen the 1954 movie White Christmas starring Bing Crosby, Rosemary Clooney (aunt of The Hunk, George), Danny Kaye and Vera-Ellen. It’s one I never tire of watching, year after year. It’s got a great cast, great Irving Berlin music, love stories, and a heartwarming plot. 

The visual imagery is stunning. Remember the sprawling, homey lodge? The beautiful countryside? Those luscious white fur-trimmed red velvet outfits?

I still tear up every time I see the scene where the retired general sees all his former soldiers who’ve packed the place to support him. It’s the emotional climax of the story. And, of course, it’s satisfying when Bing and Rosemary resolve the conflict that has separated them. We just know they’re going to be happy forever after.

As a little girl I was fortunate enough to see the movie in a Los Angeles theater shortly after its release. I still remember the awe. I wish little girls today could see it on the big screen. – Cheryl Bolen is the author of almost 40 books, including Last DukeStanding, the final Lords of Eton book, now on preorder. 


Friday, November 30, 2018

Guess What by Karen Kelley


Lots of news! The Southern series is now in Kindle Unlimited. Also, I have new, fun covers for The Nerak series and I also put them in Kindle Unlimited. I should have the new covers on my website soon, but if you want to see them you can check them out on Amazon.
 
 
The second book in my Flocked series, Flocked Up!  is now available! I hope you enjoy  my newest romantic comedy. Here's a little bit of it:
 

Chapter 1

Mia
“No. Oh hell no. This isn’t happening.” I stood at the bathroom sink and stared at the stick with the very bright plus sign glaring back at me. I closed my eyes as tightly as I could, then opened them and looked at it once more in case it might have changed in the last two seconds.
 It hadn’t.
I stared at my reflection in the bathroom mirror. I didn’t look pregnant. A little pale with a tinge of green, but that was just from shock, right?
I probably had looked at it wrong. I slowly lowered my gaze—sneaking up on it.  Nope, there it was, practically glowing. Plus, plus PLUS sign! Like neon lights on Broadway.
Wait a minute. Did a plus sign even mean it was positive? Maybe I read the directions wrong. I dug the box out of the trash. Oh Lord, please, please, please don’t let me be pregnant.
As I read the words on the box, my heart began to sink. I picked up the stick again and looked at the sign. My legs grew weak. I held on to the edge of the sink and sat on the lid of the toilet with a hard plop.
“Go away,” I told the plus sign. I began to shake it like I used to shake my magic eight ball when I was a teenager. ‘Will Johnny ask me to the dance?’ I would turn over the magic black ball and see my answer. If I asked it enough times, it would respond, ‘it is certain.’
But after shaking the hell out of the stick, it still registered a plus sign. Stupid pregnancy test.
“Hi, Mia,” Chloe, my best friend and roomie, said. “What are you doing sitting in the bathroom?”
I slowly raised my head. My bottom lip quivered.
“What’s the matter, honey?” She stepped inside the bathroom, her gaze moving to what I was holding. She stumbled to a stop. “Oh my God. Tell me that’s not a pregnancy test.” Her gaze raised to my face.
“I could tell you it’s not a pregnancy test, but I would be lying.” I sucked in a sob. “It’s positive,” I wailed. I was not going to cry. I wasn’t the type of person who fell apart.
The first tears slid down my cheeks, quickly followed by a flood. And I didn’t have an Ark. I was quickly drowning in my sorrow.
She grabbed some toilet paper and shoved it into my hand before she helped me to my feet. I put the stick on the counter before blotting my eyes and blowing my nose.
Chloe led me out of the bathroom and to the living room sofa, then she ordered me to sit. Chester immediately jumped on the sofa with me. I pulled my little ragamuffin, mix-breed dog onto my lap and hugged him close.
“You’re always preaching to me about being careful,” Chloe began. “How the hell did this happen?”
I tilted my head and looked at her.
“Not that part. I know how that happened. What I want to know is how you could have unprotected sex. Who’s the father?”
“I don’t know,” I mumbled.
“Huh?”
I cleared my throat. “I don’t exactly know,” I repeated.
“You had unprotected sex with more than one guy? Were you drunk?”
I frowned. “No I wasn’t drunk… Okay, maybe I was a little tipsy, but I wasn’t drunk, drunk. And it was only one guy. I don’t actually know him that well, except his name. It was his stupid cat’s fault.”
Chloe pinched her nose between her thumb and forefinger, closing her eyes. I had a feeling she was mentally counting to ten.
“Had you been smoking weed or something?” she finally asked.
“You know the only time I smoked weed it made me feel horrible. I haven’t done it since.”
She sat down beside me. “I think you’d better start from the beginning.”
“I don’t want to.”
She raised her eyebrows.
When Chloe raised both eyebrows, you knew you were in trouble. There would be no getting around not telling her.
I expelled a deep sigh of resignation. “Okay, I’ll tell you what happened.” I leaned back against the sofa cushions. I might as well get comfortable if I was going to have to relive that whole horrible night. “It was back in March. The night of Mr. Bridge’s birthday party.”
She nodded. “I remember. I loaned you my little black dress. It looked perfect with your black heels. Okay, go on.”
I closed my eyes and thought back to that night…
 
This book is also available in Kindle Unlimited. I love the cover (see below).
 
Okay, I'm taking off a couple of days to do a little shopping and baking before I dive into Ryder and Samantha's story in the Unleashed series.
Best,
Karen Kelley
 
www.authorkarenkelley.com



 Read for free in KU                                                                                Read for free in KU
or Purchase Now                                                                                      or Purchase Now

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

"...a sad sort of clanking..." @LizFlaherty #GemsinAttic

What fun it is seeing all the activity on this blog these days! It makes me feel happy and proud and satisfied even after 20 years or so to be part of the Precious Gems group of authors, especially the ones who stepped forward to participate in this endeavor. I have loved seeing where everyone is and what they're doing. I've loved talking about what I'm doing.

But we all reach times when we have to make choices and set priorities, so it's time for me to step away from the Attic. I didn't expect to be sad about this, but I am. I keep thinking of that song from Sound of Music, hence the title to this post. Thanks to everyone who's been so helpful and supportive, particularly Joan Reeves and Maddie James, who've done all the heavy lifting involved.

Thank you, too, to Kensington Publishing and Hilary Sares. All these years later, I still think putting an end to Precious Gems was a mistake, but I'm glad the imprint was there to give some of us--me, for instance--our first "published author" credit.

We stepped into the holiday season this week. I hope it was a great Thanksgiving and that everyone who visits the Attic enjoys the rest of the season.

I'll leave you as we often do, with a reminder of, Hey, here's my latest book. The Dark Horse is a Christmas story and one of my favorites ever.

In THE DARK HORSE, widowed Chloe Brewton has made a life for herself in Christmas Town, Maine, teaching literature and being the drama coach at the high school. Although she’d loved her husband and their life in the army, she doesn’t really want to start over with someone else, but when she meets Major Row Welcome, in Christmas Town to spend the holiday month with relatives and decide about his future, she feels stirrings of old wishes for happily-ever-after. The attraction is mutual, although the last thing Row wants is to try marriage again, plus he’s about as interested in having a family as…well, he isn’t. But then there’s Connor Michaud and his three younger siblings. Oh, no. What now in Christmas Town?


B & N: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-dark-horse-liz-flaherty/1129076892;jsessionid=1CE2CA50E0E4DCB22BB44C041510E26D.prodny_store01-atgap05?ean=2940162061731


So long, and thanks again. Happy writing.


Tuesday, November 27, 2018

I can't cut hair by Karen Kelley


     I’ve had people come up and I could tell they were nervous about meeting me. I never could understand how they could put me up on a pedestal just because I’m a writer.

     I was doing a book signing once and one girl drove quite a distance just to get an autographed book, and then she almost didn’t approach me. I kept seeing her walking around the bookstore, clutching a couple of books, and every time we made eye contact, she’d look away.

     When I noticed they were my books, I left the table and walked up to her. I smiled and asked if she would like me to autograph her books. We began to talk and I think we had a good time.

     I was raised in small towns most of my life. The kind where everyone knows you. It always shocked me to realize some people think I’m special because I can string a few words together, make a sentence, then have it published into a book.

     Well, I can’t cut hair. I think hairdressers are pretty darn special. When the kids were little and they saw me with a pair of scissors---they hid. I’ll never understand how I could start on one side of their forehead at one length, then be off by an inch on the other side. And don’t even try to straighten it up!

     I think waitresses are special. They can take an order and then remember who ordered what when they bring the food out. Then there are the trays they balance on one hand. Nope, that would never happen if I was carrying it. Someone would get food dumped in their lap.

     Accountants are special. If I tried to figure all that math, I swear my eyes would cross.

     Editors are special---lol!!! I think the ones I’ve had just shake their head when they edit my work.

     I’m just someone who sits at her laptop and writes whatever comes to mind. If you see me somewhere, wave or say hi. You’ll always get a wave and a hi right back. 
Click here to read in KU or order now.         

Bringing Joy into Your Life by Connie Vines


Let’s face it Life can be very challenging.  The Holidays are often stressful. 

California (where I live) has been beset with wildfires throughout the state this year. 

The Holidays a time to experience joy, give thanks, and look forward to a new year.  Sometimes, it isn’t easy to shove our problems aside.

Still, it is important that we bring joy into our life.

I’d like to share tips I’ve learned from life, personal observation, and from friends who help those in need.

·        Let yourself dream ~ Bringing joy into your life begins with the hope that you will feel it. Spend some time imagining what joy would feel like, how you would experience it, and how it would rock your world. Your brain looks for proof of what you tell it. Begin telling it about joy and it will begin looking for it.

·        Give yourself permission ~ It’s very easy to put off the experience of joy. Your world is busy, your mind may be cluttered; there are a ton of things to do. That’s all true. It’s also true that the longer you deny yourself joy the longer it will be before you feel it. Practice giving yourself permission to have it now.

·        Get a puppy ~ Sorry cat lovers, puppies hold the title for most joyful pet! With their infinite energy, constant exploration and playful spirit puppies can tap into that part of you that just likes to have fun, which makes them the perfect conduit to joy.

·        Do something creative ~ Expressing your vision and who you are feels good. Whether you like to write, paint, sing, crochet, cook or any other activity that conjures something out of thin air, can access a well of pleasure in who you are and make you feel incredible delight.

·        Do something you used to love as a child ~ Your core personality develops by the time you’re seven. The things that brought you delight back then can still bring you joy today. As an adult you may have lost touch with them. Think back to what used to bring you happiness at the age of five, or eight or ten.

·        Challenge yourself physically! ~ You feel pleasure keenly in your body. Moving it, caring for it, using it in strong and empowering ways forges a deep connection within your very soul. Find some physical activity that challenges you to use your full body for a sustained period of time (under doctor’s direction—no marathons for a devoted couch-potato.

·        Open yourself emotionally ~ Connecting with others can be the source of enormous pleasure. The trick is connecting with the right people, the kind who experience joy themselves.

·        Do something incredibly helpful for someone else ~ One of the most joyful actions you can take is to make someone else feel joy. Bringing pleasure to another and witnessing their joy can have a wonderful boomerang effect on you.

·        Look around your wondrous world. Notice the colors of the flowers, the sky and the trees. Listen to the sounds of traffic, crickets, and people laughing.


Where am I finding my joy this holiday season? 

Always, time with my family.  My husband, sons, grandchildren, extended family members and friends. And, as you probably guessed, my 4-legged companion 😊.






I love to bake and share my creative meals with family, friends, and co-workers.  Breakfast casseroles cooked overnight in my crock pot, cookies, gingerbread, and more!

Here’s a simple recipe that can be frozen to enjoy next month, or given as gifts.




This Snickerdoodle Bread is so delicious and easy (no yeast involved)! It's filled with cinnamon chips and topped with cinnamon and sugar!
Course Bread
Cuisine American
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Servings 4 mini loaves

INGREDIENTS
·         2 1/2 cups flour
·         2 tsp baking powder
·         1/2 tsp salt
·         2 tsp cinnamon
·         1 cup butter softened
·         2 cups sugar
·         3 eggs
·         1 tsp almond extract *
·         3/4 cup sour cream
·         1 package Hershey's Cinnamon Chips
·         3 tbsp sugar
·         3 tsp cinnamon
INSTRUCTIONS
1.     Cream butter, sugar, salt and cinnamon until fluffy. Add eggs and mix well.
2.     Add vanilla and sour cream and mix well.
3.     Mix flour and baking powder in a separate bowl. Add to wet ingredients and mix until all combined.
4.     Add cinnamon chips and stir into batter. Set aside.
5.     Spoon batter into 4 mini loaf pans until about ⅔ full.
6.     Mix 3 T. sugar and 3 t. cinnamon in a bowl and sprinkle over the batter in each loaf pan.
7.     Bake at 350 for 35-40 minutes. Let cool before removing from pan.
* I prefer almond extract instead of the traditional vanilla extract. *

If desired, create a powdered sugar glaze with almond extract and sliced almonds to finish up the top of the loaf.

Wishing you all the Joy life has in store for you and yours, 

Connie






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