Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Trish Morey: Adios 2014, Welcome 2015

When you look back on 2014, what do you see? Did you have a year to remember for all the right reasons, or would you rather just shut the door behind you and walk away, because this year was one you’d rather forget? If the former, head straight to the next blog and into 2015 with gusto. If the latter, read on, because I sympathize, and just want to say, all is not lost.

My 2013 was one tough year that dragged itself all the way from late 2012 and into January of this year and only ended with the death of my father. It wasn’t just a tough year, it was a long one. Years can be like that, though, they don’t always respect the calendar, and they can seem endless.

But believe me, things will get better. 

What’s that saying? - What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger? It’s true. My rotten 2013 saw me pull back from most of my writing commitments. I managed just one Harlequin Presents in that entire year, Tycoon’s Temptation - and if it hadn’t been a part of The Chatsfield Continuity with no options for delays or extensions, I doubt I would have achieved that. As I told my editor, I had so much angst going on in my life, I didn’t have to make it up. My editor was brilliant and gave me all the time I needed.

And then a funny thing happened while I was stepping back from all the crud that was happening in my life. In the vacuum that my (lack of) writing had left, another idea was borne, an idea for a different kind of story with different characters who could make mistakes and laugh about it, and featuring a dog called Turbo that seemed almost human at times and that liked to eat chicken and chips, and this story was important to me, because it was set in a place where my father had grown up, so it was comforting too, and close to home.

There’s a saying here that one of our Aussie banks likes to use in its TV advertising. “From little things, big things grow.”

I’d like to offer a variation on that - From shitty years, good things come.

That germ of a story became my first single title, Stone Castles, published in December this year. Somehow a mad idea I’d had while at my wit’s end touched an editor’s heart enough for them to say, I’ll buy it. A gorgeous cover later and Stone Castles, the story I dedicated to my father, is out there.

You may not be a writer. You might be an accountant like I used to be, or a teacher, or a doctor or a factory worker, but I believe that something good can come from the hardships we face. Not just because we might learn from them, but sometimes because they cause us to veer off in a different direction and take us to somewhere new and exciting where we might not otherwise have ventured. 

I hope, if you’ve had a tough 2014, your 2015 will shine in new and unexpected ways, and your days will be less about making it through to the end, but enjoying each and every new day. 

Here’s to 2015. Happy New Year.
Trish Morey

Tuesday, December 30, 2014


First, thanks, Lee, for inviting me to blog here today. It was so sweet of you to invite me! Here, at the very end of 2014, there seemed only one thing on my mind to blog about. Oh, yes. I’m going there.
New Year’s resolutions! I’ve always been fascinated by them.  And that is to say, from a distance, watching other people make them. For many, they work. They can be great motivators, I hear. You write your goals down at the beginning of the year and check them off as you accomplish them. In a way, written goals are a good reminder of your decision to accomplish something. But to me, there’s a self-implied ‘fail’ button attached to New Year’s resolutions because they’re sort of made out of a sense of desperation. End of the year, tick-tock, another year gone and all that. 

Don’t misunderstand me. There’s nothing wrong with setting goals: big goals, smaller goals and in between goals. And I do set them all the time all throughout the year. But agreeing to terms of a rigid resolution? (I will join a gym. I will lose fifteen pounds…) If I’ve learned anything about myself, it’s that I’m stubborn. Independent. I have a knee-jerk resistance to rules. Hence…writer.

Are we talking semantics here? Possibly. Sometimes, I have to fool my own thought process that way.  Yes, I’m just that weird. Perhaps this is a product of getting older and having some hindsight into my own dismal failures when it comes to keeping resolutions. So with the intention of liberating myself from all that self-flagellation when I inevitably fail, I’ve learned to put a twist on the resolution thing by writing a grateful list, instead. This list isn’t really about all the things I think I should do or should have done but didn’t. Instead, it puts into perspective for me the things that have become really important to me over the past year.

Getting more exercise is one of those things that always makes the resolution lists. But as I take my daily two mile walk with my happy little dog, Maggie—who’s always grateful for everything—I make it a point to feel grateful that I can walk this briskly and this easily and this far. Because I know not everyone can. Feeling grateful instead of pressured inspires me to expand my routines, push myself farther. (i.e., Maybe I’ll add that next hill, just to prove that it won’t kill me!)

Spending more time with family always makes my list and it’s even more important to me now that we’re scattered to the four winds. So grateful that I have time now to do it and that I can make time in my schedule for visits with the grandbabies. I GET to.

Writing more books/writing faster is always on the list for writers. Again, after just ending a full time job where I had little time to write, I am so grateful to GET to write again. I remember that whenever I get stuck or slow down. I remember my gratitude to be able to do what I do. No pressure, just relief, really.

And because of those long hours in the chair, writing, Yoga is in my future. When I was working full time, there was a yoga studio across the street from my window at work. All day, I’d watch women come and go, wishing I was one of them. Now, (grateful) I GET to go to yoga! See what I mean? The exercise thing goes hand in hand with the writing thing. But they both come out of my gratitude list.
That’s just a sampling of what will be on my list this year. What about you? Do resolutions work for you? Or do you have to get creative with your goals? I’d love to hear and I’m grateful to have the chance to wish you a very happy and healthy 2015!  

And just for fun, I’m giving away a $10 Amazon Gift Card to get the year started out right! To enter, just tell me one thing you’re grateful for! 

Barbara Ankrum is the bestselling author of thirteen books, including her latest contemporary romance, A FAIR TO REMEMBER, from Tule Publishing. Her bestselling western historical series, ‘Wild Western Hearts’ is available on all e-book platforms. She’s been twice nominated for RWA’s prestigious RITA Award. She’s the mom of two wonderful, grown children and she lives in Southern California with her sweet husband, two cats and her scruffy Toto-impersonator walking companion, Maggie.

***Barbara's winner is Carol L.!  Please email with your mailing address.***

Monday, December 29, 2014

Lilian Darcy: New Year's Indulgences

Every New Year, like many people do, I make resolutions. They’re all about working harder, eating better, getting fitter – all the hard, challenging stuff.

This year, I’ve decided to change things around a little. I’m not going to focus on my resolutions, I’m going to plan my indulgences.

1)     Spend More Time Outdoors

I’ve really been enjoying this lately, whether I’m out in the open air gardening, walking or cycling. I’d like to move more of my regular activities out of doors, when possible. I’d like to eat, read and listen to music out of doors more often in 2015. And maybe sometimes just sit.

2)     Read More

As a writer and editor, reading has been a professional requirement for a long time. Now that I’m moving into retirement, I’d like to read more for pure pleasure and let go of that critical professional perspective that can get in the way of reading enjoyment. I’d like to read more non-fiction, more classics, more books-that-I-wouldn’t-normally-pick-up.

I also want to jump into the kinds of familiar reads that I know I’ll love – books like the Bachelor Auction series from Tule Publishing that’s launching in February.

3)     Do Some Jigsaw Puzzles

I haven’t treated myself to this indulgence very often in recent years. About ten years ago, my husband gave me an enormous jigsaw puzzle,18,000 pieces in total, divided into four separate sections of roughly 4,500 pieces each. I’ve only ever done one of the sections. Last Christmas I started a second one, but packed it away before I’d put much of it together, feeling that there just wasn’t time. This year, I’m going to get it out again and complete it, and so what if it takes months? I might do a few smaller puzzles, too, for light relief.

That’s all I’ve thought of so far, but I fully intend to think of a few more indulgences and embrace them.

How about you? Don’t give me the R word, Resolutions, I want to hear about your planned Indulgences for 2015.

Hope you have a great year!

Lilian Darcy

P.S. If you’d like to indulge yourself with a free ebook, The Sweetest Thing, the second book in my Montana Riverbend series is free on all major ebook platforms.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Kate Hewitt: Christmas Blues and New Year’s Resolutions

A few days ago my family and I were all sitting round the dining room table, toasting the holiday and reveling in good cheer. Fast forward to December 27th or 28th and the scene is a little different. Everyone is over-sugared, overtired, and grumpy because Christmas is over. Toys that were exulted over on Christmas Day are now kicked into the corner, forgotten.  Children bicker over who gets to use the last AA batteries in the house, or who gets to play the Wii first, or who hit whom. The dog hasn’t been walked, the toddler is teething, and I’m already looking at the calendar, wondering how long it is until they’re all back at school.

Does this sound familiar?

If it doesn’t, then I clearly need some tips from you! The week after Christmas, in our house, has traditionally been one of the hardest weeks of the year. The expectation and enjoyment has been replaced by dissatisfaction and disappointment. It doesn’t matter what the presents are, or how much family time we have, or even what we do. Dragging all the kids out on a walk sometimes has a restorative effect… for a little while. And then it’s back to the blues.

Which leads me to my New Year’s resolutions. I’m not going to resolve (usually fruitlessly) to lose weight, exercise, eat better, or anything like that. No, my New Year’s resolution is to enjoy life more. And by that I don’t mean to pursue things only for pleasure, or live for leisure, or something along those lines. No, what I mean is I want to live in the moment more—and enjoy it, for what it is. I want to enjoy peeling carrots for dinner while my six-year-old acts out Frozen around me. I want to enjoy cuddling my only-wants-mummy toddler. I want to enjoy life as a full-time writer and mother of five children whose husband works seventy hours a week. Does that sound like a difficult task? Maybe, but I do believe attitude is important. My attitude this week hasn’t been that great. Instead of being in the moment, I’m slogging through it. And I want to change that. This is the life God has given me, and I’m very grateful for it. I’m so very thankful for healthy children and a loving spouse and a career I love, writing books that people love.

What about you? What is your New Year’s resolution? Do you have any tips for living life in the moment?

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Jeannie Moon: Traditions

I’ve always liked to bake and I tend to do it when I’m at my most stressed out.  The control I exert over flour and sugar and butter will calm me in ways nothing else can.  I don’t know what it is exactly, but there’s something very Zen about cookie dough.

My Aunt Catherine was a baker as well.  At the holidays there were dozens of treats in her house, many of them traditional Italian cookies.  Struffoli, anise drops, and pizzelle were my favorites and when I was writing my Christmas novella, This Christmas, my heroine Sabrina’s mother, Enza, also infused their home with Italian Christmas treats. 

Over the past few years, I’ve been learning the art behind some of the Italian cookies my aunt used to bake.  First, I bought a pizzelle iron.  It took quite a number of batches to get the temperature and batter consistency correct, but my daughters and I finally did it.  This year I conquered anise cookies. Next year I think the Struffoli, or honey balls, will be next.  Each time something new is brought into my baking repertoire, I not only feel wonderfully happy, but I feel like I’ve kept a piece of my heritage, which is becoming diluted as years pass, from slipping away.

It was important to me to keep these Christmas traditions alive for myself and for my family.  We have our own traditions, like Christmas Day brunch and cinnamon rolls on holiday mornings, but I’ve been feeling the need to reconnect with different parts of my heritage. 

Maybe it’s because I’m getting older. Maybe it’s because the people who introduced me to these traditions are no longer around and I want to keep them with me.  Whatever it is, Christmas has become a little warmer, and less about things, since I started introducing these treats.

I don’t fully understand it, but maybe there really is magic in cookie dough.

Jean­nie Moon has always been a roman­tic. When she’s not spin­ning tales of her own, Jean­nie works as a school librar­ian, thank­ful she has a job that allows her to immerse her­self in books and call it work. Mar­ried to her high school sweet­heart, Jean­nie has three kids, three lov­able dogs and lives in her hometown on Long Island, NY. If she’s more than ten miles away from salt water for any longer than a week, she gets twitchy.  Visit Jeannie’s web­site at

Friday, December 26, 2014

Terri Reed: Gluten-Free At Christmas

Hi, Terri Reed here hoping your Christmas was merry and joyful. Mine was filled with laughter, chaos and food. Lots of food. Most of the food was gluten-free.

Gluten sensitivity runs in my husband’s family so we have made adjustments over the years to the foods we eat.  But it was not always this way. We had never heard of gluten or celiac disease until my daughter was born in 1993. She was a healthy baby and so full of joy. However, issues soon cropped up.  The pediatrician kept prescribing antibiotics but the medicine wasn’t helping.  A friend suggested a naturopath.  We’d never heard of a naturopath but at this point we were growing desperate to help our little girl.

Through a battery of test, the naturopath found that she had sensitivity to wheat products and dairy products.  So began a journey of living wheat free and diary free. This was in 1995 and the term gluten-free wasn’t a mainstream word yet. There were few wheat free products available.  It was easier to cut out dairy.  I remember how many people thought we were weird for thinking wheat and dairy was causing our daughter harm. Over the years others in the family have been diagnosed with gluten sensitivity, but we all are aware that careful monitoring is required as there is no guarantee that gluten sensitivity won’t turn into celiac disease. Now nearly twenty years later you can go to any grocery store and find gluten-free products from major companies, small start up companies and everything in between.  

Here are a couple of interesting articles on the subject.

My daughter loves to bake and has creatively modified recipes to make them gluten-free. Here’s one of her recipes.

Peanut butter chocolate kiss cookies

You will need:

1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup creamy peanut butter
1.5 sticks of butter
1 egg
1 XO Baking Co. all natural Gluten Free all purpose gourmet flour blend
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
Additional granulated sugar
About 36 Hershey's® Kisses® Brand milk chocolates, unwrapped


Preheat oven to 375°F.

In large bowl, beat 1/2 cup granulated sugar, the brown sugar, peanut butter, butter and egg with electric mixer on medium speed, or mix with spoon, until well blended.
Stir in flour, baking soda and baking powder until dough forms. Chill for an hour.

Shape dough into 1-inch balls; roll in additional granulated sugar.
On ungreased cookie sheets, place about 2 inches apart.
Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until edges are light golden brown. Immediately press 1 milk chocolate candy in center of each cookie. Remove from cookie sheets to cooling rack.

Leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of my Love Inspired Suspense series The McClain’s, plus some swag (a pocket calendar, a caramel black sea salt chocolate bar, book marks, recipe cards)

*** Terri's winner is Leni! Please email with your mailing details!***

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Ho Ho Ho Merry Jenny Gardiner

    I’m a sucker for the Christmas season. Always have been. Don’t know if it’s the deluded optimism the holiday thrusts upon us, or just a strange affinity for otherwise maudlin songs dressed up as cheerful seasonal chestnuts. I mean, let’s be honest, at any other time of year, who would actually listen wistfully to a yawner like “The Little Drummer Boy”?
    Whatever it is, I have always ensured that my family gets into the holiday spirit, starting with finding the perfect Christmas tree.
    When I was a kid, the search for the ultimate yuletide tree took us to the nearest gas station: hardly a romantic venue from which to choose the centerpiece of our holiday decor. We’d pile into the station wagon for the three-block drive to Buck’s Esso station, spill out onto the oil-slicked parking lot, mull over three or four already-netted spruce trees, and then dad would haggle down the price. End of story.
    Ah, so I was determined to rewrite that tradition with my own family. Early in my marriage, we decided the most festive tree-acquisition could only be achieved by cutting down our own (plus you get the added benefit of the needles actually staying on the tree all month rather than littering the floor). Because we lived in citified Northern Virginia, the cachet of escaping to the “country”--i.e. the closest remaining patch of farmland untainted by greedy developers--only added to the allure.
    But one year, I found myself almost wishing for the chance to just pop down to the local gas station to buy a tree…
    That year, my husband and our three children, all under the age of four, trekked to the Clifton Christmas Tree Farm, where awaiting us were candy canes, hot chocolate, homemade wreaths and the typical abundance of forced holiday cheer that we craved.
    I had whipped my kids into a tree-chopping frenzy, and so they took their task quite seriously. For forty minutes, we foraged throughout the whopping half-acre “farm” until we found the perfect tree: seven feet of holiday splendor, as wide as it was tall, perfect to fill our cathedral-ceiling’ed living room and flood us with the Christmas spirit.
    The kids took turns on the ground with the saw while my husband supervised the chopping honors. Their excitement was palpable. We dragged the tree back to the cashier stand where the farmer’s son coiled the netting around our white pine. The kids stood by, sucking on candy canes, sipping hot cider and petting the farmer’s dog, who’d recently wandered over. I was just about to retrieve the car to load on the tree, when Fido lifted his leg.
    “No!” I shouted in what seemed like a frame-by-frame slow motion, as a steady stream was released onto our perfect tree.
    For a moment we stood stupefied, not knowing what to do. But we weren’t about to keep a tree covered in dog wee, so we grabbed the kids’ hands to head back into the wilds to hunt for a replacement one.
    Until our kids let us know in no uncertain terms, that this tree was the one, the only. They threw themselves on the ground, flailing and crying, thrashing and moaning, like something from a Greek tragedy. They wanted their special tree, and nothing else would suffice.
    Their wails did not subside until we relented, and agreed to load up the tainted tree.
    The farmer found a makeshift bucket, filled it from a nearby stream and doused the offending urine from the tree. We loaded it onto the roof of the car, and went home.
    I have admit, I sort of detached emotionally from the tree that year. Couldn’t quite get over the psychological hurdle of having a tree the dog peed on in my living room. Somehow it clashed with the whole festive notion.
    But for my kids, the tree was just about perfect, despite its incumbent flaws. And maybe that’s exactly why I like the holidays so much: because at this time of year, we’re all a little more likely to forgive the small things in order to see the bigger picture.

A few housekeeping notes to catch you up on what I've been working on...

I just got the rights back to my parrot memoir, seen way below in it's original incarnation as Winging It: A Memoir of Caring for a Vengeful Parrot Who's Determined to Kill Me.

I've always wanted to offer this as an affordable ebook, since my publisher charged a crazy amount for it the whole time they had the rights. So I changed the title to Bite Me: A Parrot, A Family and a Whole Lot of Flesh Wounds, and the cover, and it's now a reasonable $2.99, so I hope you'll check it out if you've not before. Here's the new cover:

So hopefully in the next week or so I'm also finally publishing the first in a new series, the It's Reigning Men series, with the first book, Something in the Heir --- it's a flip on the old Roman Holiday movie, which I love. Book two is Heir Today, Gone Tomorrow, and book three is Bad to the Throne. Here's a sneak preview of the covers:

 He's a prince with a problem. She's a commoner with a getaway plan…
Modern-day Prince Adrian of Monaforte has a most old-fashioned problem: his demanding mother wants him wed to her best friend’s daughter, the hard-partying Serena. When his refusal falls on deaf ears, Adrian decides it’s time for him to slip away from his gilded cage and figure out his life, all on his own. As luck would have it, event photographer Emma Davison, weary of a revolving door of lost-cause men and tired of her outsider-looking-in career, is in need of her own escape clause, just in time to help a wayward prince in need. And she soon discovers that sometimes a girl’s gotta sweep a prince off his feet.
For any girl that’s ever held out hope that some day her prince would come…or better yet, hoped that some day she’d come to him.

It’s all fun and royal games until somebody’s heart gets broken

In his line of work, royal heir Darcy Squires-Thornton has always been content playing second fiddle to close friend Prince Adrian, and happy, too, with whatever brief romantic encounters come his way. Especially one with carefree Caroline McKenzie, whose best friend is engaged to the prince. Fun-loving Caroline McKenzie's motto has always been "love the one you're with". But when the one she's no longer with is the one with whom she's fallen in love, what's a girl an ocean away to do?

Sometimes you can let your heir down a little too much…

When wild-child Prince Alexander goes on a naked bender in a Vegas swimming pool, cocktail waitress Andi McDonough decides to preserve a shot of those family jewels on her phone. But when she’s fired for capturing the royal treasures, she heads off to find herself. After backpacking the world-over on a dime and a prayer, she finds herself in Rome, where a chance encounter with the wayward prince only reinforces to her that Prince Zander is indeed bad to the throne. And more than likely to her fragile heart as well.

Lastly, I'm finally getting around to doing a newsletter! It'll be the first one in about 5 years! I'd sure love new subscribers, so if you'd like to check it out, please sign up here (and I promise I won't bug you all the time!).

Thanks and Happy Holidays everyone!

Accidentally on Purpose (written as Erin Delany)
Compromising Positions (written as Erin Delany)
find me on Facebook: fan page
find me on twitter here
find me on my website

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Terri Brisbin: I'm Late! (too!)

I just realized it's December 20th - my day to blog -- and realized I had not posted one. I usually post one about the Winter Solstice (tomorrow!) at this time of year but I didn't. I apologize! Yes, like Susan Meier said yesterday, I could blame deadlines, etc. But my delay has a specific reason -- her name is Alexis!

 My first grandbaby arrived earlier this week (2&1/2 days ago!) and I am completely captivated! And I have gotten almost nothing done this week - not Christmas preparations or writing! I know I'm not with her in person or taking care of her but I keep texting and getting new photos and call and just now visited. Other experienced grandparents tried to tell me how wonderful it would be, but I just didn't understand. Much like my son and daughter-in-law didn't understand anything we parents told them -- before she arrived! 

So, rather than ask a writing question - I thought I would ask a family one:  the big question everyone is asking me -- what are you going to be called? 

   I called mine Grandmom (only one alive while I was growing up).... My hubby's family go with Mom-mom and add a modifier like Mom-mom T or Mom-mom Jean.... I think I'm going to go with that, too. Be Mom-mom Terri....

 What do you think?  If you are a grandparent, what are you called? If you have a grandparent (LOL), what did you call yours? 

PS - if you're interested:  

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Rising Fire by Terri Brisbin

Rising Fire

by Terri Brisbin

Giveaway ends January 15, 2015.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter to win