Sunday, December 29, 2013

A Review of 2013

Last year, I wrote a blog post reviewing my 2012, so I thought I'd do the same thing this year.

If 2012 was about learning and stepping out of my comfort zone, 2013 was the same thing--only on steroids. And, it's been fantastic!

Reading
I didn't read as many books this year--according to Goodreads, I've only finished 24 instead of the 94 I read in 2012!  My TBR pile is overflowing and I have so many stories that I'm itching to dive into, but between my day job commitments and my writing commitments my reading suffered.

Blogging
I experimented with my blog in 2013.  I tried out a couple of regular blog topics--such as Alberta and What to Read Thursday--both of which I plan to resurrect in 2014. I also did some guest blogging on other blogs: Sarah Kades, Donna Cummings and Mae Clair.  And, in December, I blogged every day from December 1st to December 26th!  That was the most I've ever blogged in one month, ever.

Critique Group
Life got a little complicated in 2013 so my critique group didn't meet as regularly this year.  But, we are currently discussing plans for 2014!  I managed to finish one novel with my critique group and I'm part way
through another.

Publishing
After much soul-searching, I plunged into publishing in 2013.  It was exhilarating, frightening and hugely satisfying!  I published two novels (Devin's Second Chance and Annie's Christmas Plan) in 2013, and now I am working out my plan for 2014!

Writing
I have so many stories running around my head right now that I wish I could just lock myself in my office for the next six months and see how far I get!  Unfortunately, I don't see that happening.  So, I am going to write what I can, and jot down the ideas I can't get to right away.  I'm starting with Chloe's Matchmaking Terrier, and novel, Rita's Birthday Wish, both are new stories for my Morning Lake series. My historical paranormal romance series, contemporary paranormal romance series, and historical fairy tale novella will have to wait a little longer. Depending on how things go, I also have outlines for more novels and novellas in the Morning Lake series, too.  Alas, if only I didn't have to sleep...

I can't wait to see what 2014 brings! 

How was your 2013?

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Z is for Zzzz

Today in my A to Z trip through December, we are on Z! That's it!  The end!  To check out the earlier posts, click here!

I hope you had a great Christmas!  Now it's time for a few zzz's! 

I wanted to share one last Christmas song, because it is just so wonderful!  And the song title starts with a Z!



Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Y is for Yule Log

Today in my A to Z trip through December, we are on Y! To check out the earlier posts, click here!

Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays! 

I hope you are enjoying a wonderful holiday with your family and friends!  Are you huddled around a Yule log?  No?  Me neither.   Although we may have had the TV on that burning log station a time or two. ;)

And I hope you didn't have to contend with any Grinches this year!  :)

On that note, today I give you, You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch.



Tuesday, December 24, 2013

X is for X X X

Today in my A to Z trip through December, we are on X! To check out the earlier posts, click here!

X's are for kisses! (You thought I was going somewhere else with this, didn't you?) Everyone wants a few smooches under the mistletoe, right? 


Monday, December 23, 2013

W is for Wine

Today in my A to Z trip through December, we are on W! To check out the earlier posts, click here!


W can stand for so many joyful words!  Wishes, wonder, wow... wine! 

Poor Annie, the heroine in Annie's Christmas Plan, worries that she should stop drinking wine at Christmas after a little mishap at Thanksgiving, but I think she would have approved of mulled wine!  The house ways smells so yummy when I mull wine that I wonder why I don't do it more often! 

When we were in Scotland for Christmas a few years ago, I loved that some of the pubs had mulled wine available!  (It was an interesting evening, but that's a story for another day...)

Hmm... maybe I should make mulled wine tonight. What are you doing? 



Sunday, December 22, 2013

V is for Visitors

Today in my A to Z trip through December, we are on V! To check out the earlier posts, click here!

V is for Visitors!  I love inviting friends and family to my house before Christmas!  There is something sparkly and wonderful in the air... Magic!  And I want to share that with the people I care about! 

In Annie's Christmas Plan, Annie gets some unexpected visitors to her house during the holidays, too!

Digital Copies Available Here:
All Romance eBooks | Smashwords |Kobo
Amazon.com | Amazon.ca | Amazon.co.uk

Print Copies Available Here:
CreateSpace | Amazon.com 
Amazon.ca | Barnes & Noble

Excerpt:

The day the last present was painstakingly wrapped and placed under the tree in the living room, she wandered through the house with an empty heart—all of this effort and no one was here to enjoy it. Christmas was still days away, and a decorated house should be shared. Good friends, good food, goodwill toward men and all that.

She put on one of Bing's Christmas albums and sat back. All she needed was a nice glass of Merlot and a friend with whom to talk. No! No Merlot.

However, a friend ...

Annie set the local phonebook—it was a marvel that the town still published one—on the coffee table and flipped through the pages. Who could she invite? Since moving to Morning Lake she'd met a few people. Perhaps ...

The only person who kept coming to mind was Quinn, and he was the last person she ought to call. Sure, they'd shared an hour or two of coffee conversation and he'd helped finish a few small projects around the house over the last few months, but she couldn't help but feel he had disappeared like a dollop of whipped cream on hot chocolate after their kiss at Thanksgiving. The twinkle in his eye, which had been so prevalent in the days leading up to Thanksgiving, had vanished, and oh, how she missed it. She'd messed things up between them by kissing him.

The idea of calling him took root, and was rather insistent about not being ignored.

What would he think if she called him? She had to try.

She grabbed the phone and dialed his number before she lost her nerve. No answer. She left a message on his voicemail. Immediately after she hung up, she hated herself.

A minute later, the phone rang.

"You called?" Quinn's voice was muffled by noise in the background. Wherever he was, people were having fun.

"I was wondering if you wanted to come over for some Christmas cheer." How desperate did she sound?

After what seemed a gaping chasm of awkward anticipation, he cleared his throat. "Sure, when?"

"Whenever you like." Desperate again. Shoot.

"We're at Cathy and Chris's place, up the road from you. I don't think you've met them yet."

"No."

"Well, at Christmas we sometimes go around to a few houses and—" His voice disappeared.

"Hello?" Another voice—a woman's—came on the line.

She never should have called.

"You're Annie, right?" the woman asked, but she didn't wait for an answer. "We'll be over in a bit." Then the line went dead.

We? In a bit? Did that mean right now?

She jolted off the couch and dashed into the kitchen. People were coming. Her neighbors, her new community members …  strangers would be at her house tonight. What did she have to serve? Nuts? Cheese and crackers? Veggies and dip? Little Christmas oranges? Chocolates? Thankfully, she had already bought some groceries for Christmas.

Rushing through the kitchen from pantry to cupboard to fridge, she tossed food on plates and serving trays. Please let there be enough for a group. Of course, she had no idea how big of a group to plan for, but they would have some morsel at least.

When the first set of headlights appeared in the drive, her whirlwind ceased. She set the bowls and platters out on the table before rushing to the door to greet the first arrivals.
When Quinn strode into the light, her heart skipped. Their kiss was foremost in her mind. Behind him, others exited his truck and then more trucks and cars came into the drive. Annie couldn't believe it. Her yard was filling with a little convoy of Christmas celebrators. 

~~

Do you enjoy entertaining at this time of year?

Saturday, December 21, 2013

U is for Under the Tree

Today in my A to Z trip through December, we are on U! To check out the earlier posts, click here!



Who would you like to find under your tree? ;)




Friday, December 20, 2013

T is for Twas the Night before Christmas

Today in my A to Z trip through December, we are on T! To check out the earlier posts, click here

Before we get to T, though, I'd have news!

I'm excited to announce the winner of the
$25 Amazon Gift Card
Congratulations to Mae Clair!  Enjoy! 

I know Clement Clarke Moore originally titled this poem is "A Visit from From St. Nicholas", but we call it "Twas the Night before Christmas" and my family reads it aloud every Christmas Eve.  Unfortunately I don't have quite the range of vocal techniques that Jim Meskimen achieves in the video below... hmm, maybe we should gather around a laptop this year and watch his version! He is amazing!



~~~

Do you have a story or poem that you tell, read or recite every Christmas?

Thursday, December 19, 2013

S is for Sexy!

Today in my A to Z trip through December, we are on S! To check out the earlier posts, click here!

I can still remember the first time I heard Santa Baby. It shocked my innocent little world.  How could anyone talk to Santa that way?  LOL. My, do things change over time.  Now, I make sure to listen to it every Christmas - it is one of my favorites.

It is pretty sexy, and now I have an idea for a 2014 Christmas story.  Must go write it down...




~~~

While you are here, scroll down a little and you'll see a Rafflecopter contest! I'm giving away a $25 Amazon Gift Card - so you should enter and maybe you'll win it! :) The winner will be announced tomorrow!  Good luck!

~~~

What is your favorite non-traditional Christmas song?

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

R is for Red

Today in my A to Z trip through December, we are on R! To check out the earlier posts, click here!

R is for Red!

I've always thought there was something special about red!  It is bright, vibrant, invigorating, beautiful...

When I was growing up, fashion magazines used to always talk about the little black dress.  I don't know if they do still, but I imagine that they do because the little black dress is versatile, economical and functional. Everyone should have a little black dress.  But I always wanted a red dress, just like that Chris de Burgh song Lady in Red.

At Christmas, the color red becomes something even more special. It shows itself everywhere. Perhaps like evergreens, red is a spark of life in an otherwise drab and dreary wintery world. And, red is complementary to the color of those beautiful evergreen boughs. Everything comes to life with red.

If I was going to explore the psychology of red, I might guess that it is symbolic of the color of life, the color of blood.  But blood isn't particular pretty, so I'm not sure that is it.

Anyway, I thought I needed to dedicate today to red!

What do you think? Red dress or black dress? 

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Q is for Quinn!


Today in my A to Z trip through December, we are on Q! To check out the earlier posts, click here!

When I was brainstorming possible blog topics for Q, I got stuck.  Nothing seemed all that great: Quince? Quality? Quantity? Blah.

It actually took me an embarrassingly long time to remember I had the perfect "Q" for today: Quinn, the hero of Annie's Christmas Plan, which was just released in November.

~~~

Digital Copies Available Here:
All Romance eBooks | Smashwords | Kobo | Amazon.com | Amazon.ca | Amazon.co.uk


Print Copies Available Here: 
CreateSpace | Amazon.com | Amazon.ca | Barnes & Noble

Click here to read other excerpts.

~~~

The following excerpt shows the first time Annie meets Quinn:

When she turned off the highway onto the gravel road, the steering wheel tugged under her loose grip. She hadn't driven on these types of road much in her life, but it didn't take a genius to figure out the wheels were catching on the loose gravel at the sides of the worn grooves. She tightened her hold and watched the road ahead for the railway tracks. Houses were quaintly placed in clusters of trees across the gentle rise and fall of the golden fields. Perfect and peaceful. She rolled down the window to breathe in the goodness of the country air.

Then she saw it.

Dirt and rocks billowed behind a mechanical beast on the road ahead.

Move over already. You don't need the whole road. She directed her vehicle closer to the shoulder.

The steering wheel tugged again.

What was going on? The truck wasn't obeying. Brakes! Gah! She wasn't stopping. No, her foot was pressed on the accelerator. Shoot, she wasn't on the shoulder anymore ... The ditch was right there ... No ...

She was in the ditch.

Still clutching the steering wheel, Annie blinked. She had stopped. A filthy fog of dirt and rock floated around her—up her nose, in her eyes, down her throat. She choked and coughed, vaguely aware of the sound of the other vehicle stopping on the road above.

"Jesus Christ." The man slammed his door. "What the hell were you thinking?"

"Me?" She wiped the dust from her nose and mouth. "What were you doing?"

Crap, the door wouldn't open—it kept hitting the slope in the ditch. She was trapped in her truck at the bottom of the ditch with some lunatic who didn't drive properly. Tears rushed to flush out the grit in her eyes. Great—dust smears were probably running down her face, and he'd think she was crying. She blinked again rapidly, trying to hurry the process.

A moment later, the dust had settled and the world was quiet.

She assessed the man on the road in a quick beat—his baseball cap had probably been in service for the last fifteen years, his faded jeans fit snugly over lean hips, and the creases around his eyes suggested he'd spent his life squinting into the sun. He was one of the sexiest men she'd ever seen outside of movies.

And now he was focused on her.

When the corner of his mouth kicked up in a lopsided grin, heat rolled over her skin as if he'd caressed her. Annie swallowed and looked away, mortified by her immediate heated response to him.

Maybe she was going through an early menopause.

~~~

Not a smooth first meet, but definitely a memorable one! 

~~~

While you are here, scroll down a little and you'll see a Rafflecopter contest! I'm giving away a $25 Amazon Gift Card - so you should enter and maybe you'll win it! :) The winner will be announced on December 20th!

~~~

Have you ever gone in a ditch?

Monday, December 16, 2013

P is for Polishing Silver

Today in my A to Z trip through December, we are on P! To check out the earlier posts, click here!

P is for Polishing Silver!

Is it weird that I connect polishing silver with Christmas?

Before: Tarnished Silver
Step 1: Boil water. Place tinfoil in the bottom of a
glass bowl or pan. Sprinkle Baking Soda over the tinfoil.
Pour boiling water over the tinfoil.
Place tarnished silver into the water.
* magic (aka chemistry) happens *
Step 2: Remove silver from the boiling water
mixture, consider using tongs so you don't burn
your fingers!
Wipe away tarnish with a soft cloth. I used a
paper towel, but it would probably be better to
use a soft cotton cloth.
If some tarnish remains, repeat process. 
I love how pretty and shiny the silver becomes!

Do you have any tips or tricks to help with Christmas preparations?

Sunday, December 15, 2013

O is for Occasion

Today in my A to Z trip through December, we are on O! To check out the earlier posts, click here!

O is for Occasion!

Last night was my work's Christmas party! It was fun to see everyone out for the night... outside the office boundaries. We went to a murder mystery dinner, which was a great way to get us out of work-mode and talking about something new and different.

This is a wonderful time of year! There are always so many parties and celebrations!  I dress up with my silvery shoes and pretty jewelry... all the things I don't have the opportunity to wear daily. Oh, and I dig out my tiny beaded purse, too! It is too small to fit all the things I want to take with me to the party, but I love it just the same.

Do you have many holiday parties to attend this year? 

Saturday, December 14, 2013

N is for Nutmeg

Today in my A to Z trip through December, we are on N! To check out the earlier posts, click here!

N is for Nutmeg!

More than any other season, I associate winter with very specific flavors and foods: eggnog, shortbread,
boxes of chocolates, fruitcake...  and spices like cinnamon and nutmeg.  My favorite, hands down, is nutmeg.  It is warm and adds a tantalizing depth to what ever you add it to!

Big Rock, a local brewery, used to release a seasonal Winter Spice Ale and it also had nutmeg!  And I loved it!  Yummy!  (I haven't seen it in stores yet this year... must going looking for it!)

I add nutmeg to coffee, hot chocolate, pumpkin pies, porridge... well, you get the idea.

Do you have a favorite winter food or flavor?

Friday, December 13, 2013

M is for Mrs. Claus

Today in my A to Z trip through December, we are on M! To check out the earlier posts, click here!  M is for Mrs. Claus!


I have a terrible problem finding titles for my books.  The first title for my recent release was AKA Mrs. Claus, which is the name of the business Annie the heroine tries to start. Then the title morphed to All That Glitters, which I actually enjoyed, but it didn't really suit the Morning Lake world.  So, the book finally became Annie's Christmas Plan... and I'm happy! It suits the book perfectly.

If you are wondering about Annie's business title, throughout the novel, Annie fights against a nickname people keep giving her: Mrs. Claus.  She is obsessed with crafts and is often covered in glitter, but that's where the similarities end.  Still, it is hard for Annie to come to terms with the nickname in the beginning, particularly when her ex's admonishment that "Mrs.  Claus isn't sexy" plays over and over in her head.  Luckily for Annie, she finds a sexy neighbor who can see she is not Mrs. Claus but a vibrant, caring woman that he could fall in love with.

~~~

ANNIE'S CHRISTMAS PLAN
Genre: Contemporary Romance 
Length: 67,650 words
Series: Morning Lake (Book 2)


Digital Copies Available Here: All Romance eBooks | Smashwords | Kobo | Amazon.com | Amazon.ca | Amazon.co.uk

Print Copies Available Here:  CreateSpace | Amazon.com | Amazon.ca | Barnes & Noble

Recent divorcee and empty-nester, Annie Bingley wants her family back. Desperate to prove to her ex and her daughter that she can be more than just a craft-obsessed mom, Annie decides to start fresh, move to a small town, and emulate the lifestyle she sees splashed in crafting and home-making magazines. Living from holiday to holiday, Annie works at creating an ideal home and picture-perfect memories full of glitter and hope - and it works. Before the year is out Annie's house is filled with relatives and their pets, but it is nothing like what she'd expected.

And, she certainly hadn't anticipated her sexy new neighbor, John Quinn, changing her carefully constructed plans.



~~~

I've had a few nicknames... my dad called me Junior, my sister calls me Beanie, and there was another one, too... but I'll need to have a few drinks in me before I share that one. ;) 

Do you have a nickname? 

Thursday, December 12, 2013

L is for Local

Today in my A to Z trip through December, we are on L! To check out the earlier posts, click here!

L is for Local!  There is a great local writing community in Calgary.  I belong to the Alberta Romance Writers' Association, where I've learned so much that I didn't know I needed to learn!  And, this past summer, I participated in the When Words Collide Conference, which has Diana Gabaldon coming in 2014!

Even tonight I am doing something local: A Taste of Local Authors!  I am lucky enough to be friends with author Sarah Kades who told me about this exciting evening!

If you are in Calgary, come out to the Owl's Nest Books and Gifts!


~~~

While you are here, scroll down a little and you'll see a Rafflecopter contest! I'm giving away a $25 Amazon Gift Card - so you should enter and maybe you'll win it! :) The winner will be announced on December 20th! 

~~~

What are you doing tonight?

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

K is for Kissing...

Today in my A to Z trip through December, we are on K! To check out the earlier posts, click here!

Today's post was inspired by Mother Nature's blast of cold last week!  Alberta was apparently the coldest place in the world!  That's crazy!  Brrr...


~~~
While you are here, scroll down a little and you'll see a Rafflecopter contest! I'm giving away a $25 Amazon Gift Card - so you should enter and maybe you'll win it! :) The winner will be announced on December 20th!
~~~

I hope you are finding ways to stay warm! 


Monday, December 9, 2013

J is for Jiffy Shortbread Cookies



Blog Hop:  12 Days of Christmas

Event Date:  December 1st  - 12th 2013


If you love traditional shortbread,
you'll love these, too!

JIFFY SHORTBREAD COOKIES

 Okay, I admit it, the original name of these cookies did not include "jiffy" but I needed a "J" for today for my A to Z trip through December and these cookies are really fast to make, so voila a new cookie name is born.  ;)  

Jiffy Shortbread Cookies

These are melt-in-your-mouth, fabulously easy, jiffy-fast cookies!

What you'll need:

     1 and 3/4 cup Flour
     1/2 cup Icing Sugar
     1 cup Butter (softened)

In bowl #1, blend the flour and the icing sugar together with a fork. 

In bowl #2, cream the butter thoroughly. An electric mixer of some kind is perfect!

Then, slowly, mix the flour / sugar mix into the creamed butter.  Do this gradually.  Take your time at low speed or you'll end up with a face full of flour. 

Once the dry ingredients are just incorporated into the butter, whip it up! Go at medium speed for between 5 to 10 minutes. (The longer you whip, the fluffier the cookies will be.)

You'll drop the cookie mix by the teaspoonful on an ungreased cookie sheet.  (You'll have about 36 cookies, depending on how generous you are with your teaspoon).

You can also put little slivers of red and green maraschino cherries on the top... just because it's Christmas!

Bake at 350 degrees for 10 to 15 minutes. Watch them.  You'll want them to be golden on the bottom.

Let cool on the cookie sheet before removing.  Oh, and watch out when you take the cookies from the sheet - the really fluffy ones can be a little fragile but they melt in your mouth, so it is worth it!

I hope you and Santa enjoy these cookies! 

~~~

My contribution is an eBook
copy of Devin's Second Chance.

Every cowboy deserves a second chance at love! 

Here is a short excerpt. Devin and Claire have just returned from the rodeo and are at her apartment. (Rumor has it that Devin is as yummy as the cookies.)

Who was he kidding? He couldn’t make himself leave because of Claire. He wanted to be here with her. It was foolish, but it was the truth.


Then he dared to look at her again.


The small white table lamp cast a warm glow over the room. The whitewashed wooden walls and stark, utilitarian apartment felt cozy now, intimate. Claire’s skin, bathed in the soft light, was golden and gorgeous. She was always beautiful, but in this room, in this moment, she was something extraordinary, and he was the same worthless SOB he’d always been.


“That’s better, don’t you think?” She smiled. “But you still seem stressed.”


Devin rolled his shoulders and two of his vertebrae cracked. “I’m good.”


“I think you’d feel better if you sat on something more comfortable.” She patted the sofa beside her.


“I said I’m good.” God, if he got any closer to her, he’d probably do something stupid like try to kiss her.


Grand Prize: $150 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash
First Prize: One (1) eBook from Every Participating Author


For more Favorite Christmas Cookie Recipes & Giveaways - Hop along the 12 Days of Christmas Blog Hop!

12 Days of Christmas Blog Hop


~~~

And, I am also holding another giveaway!  Yay!  Check out the Rafflecopter entry form below!  You have the opportunity to win a $25 Amazon Gift Card!  The winner on that prize will be announced on December 20th!

~~~

Good luck with the contests!  

~~~

What is your favorite Christmas cookie?

I is for Icicles

Today in my A to Z trip through December, we are on I! To check out the earlier posts, click here!

Aren't icicles beautiful?  My sister gave me a set of old-fashioned metal icicles for my Christmas tree.  When they catch the light, they sparkle. So beautiful.

On a less Christmas-y note, I've also always thought it'd be fun to write a mystery with an icicle as the murder weapon

In nature, icicles are fascinating. I took at least a dozen photos when I found this tree coated in icicles.


Lorraine's Photo

Lorraine's Photo

~~~

What do you think is the most beautiful part of winter?

Sunday, December 8, 2013

H is for Huron Carol

Today in my A to Z trip through December, we are on H! To check out the earlier posts, click here!

This is a beautiful version of The Huron Carol sung in Wendat (Huron), French and English by Canadian Celtic singer Heather Dale.  You can find more of her music on her website along with opportunities to buy it!



~~~

While you are here, scroll down a little and you'll see a Rafflecopter contest! I'm giving away a $25 Amazon Gift Card - so you should enter and maybe you'll win it! :) The winner will be announced on December 20th!

~~~

What do you think is the most beautiful Christmas song?

Saturday, December 7, 2013

G is for 25 Gifts for Writers!

Today in my A to Z trip through December, we are on G! To check out the earlier
posts, click here!

In the past, I have asked for some wacky things on my Christmas list.  Alas, I don't usually receive things like office supplies, but I thought I'd put together a short list of some gift ideas for writers!
  1. A laptop with a common word processing program (I'm starting big!)... or maybe a tablet with a keyboard. Yeah, that could work too.
  2. Photoshop or Photoshop Elements (Okay - not all writers will want this, but it has come in very handy!)
  3. A printer that can shoot out prints quickly and use very little ink, which leads us to...
  4. Several packages of ink for the printer
  5. A box of letter sized paper (8.5 x 11)
  6. Coil notebooks. Not too big and not too small - think like Goldilocks.
  7. Pens! Colored pens! Blue pens!  More pens!
  8. Highlighters in every color
  9. Sticky notes of almost every size: big, small, square, circle, flags... Well, you get the idea.
  10. Gift certificates for a massage. We spend a lot of time slouched over a computer.
  11. Gift cards for bookstores (For research and fun!)
  12. Gift cards for coffee shops (We need our caffeine!)
  13. Chocolate (We need our rewards!)
  14. A space to write (Can you help convert a corner into a writing space?)
  15. Time to write (Maybe arrange things so the writer has uninterrupted time to write)
  16. Encouragement, Celebrations and Incentives! (I always keep a bottle of sparkling wine on hand.  I like to hear the pop when I reach a big milestone.)
  17. Writing reference books like: The Emotion Thesaurus by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi,
  18. And... Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook by Donald Maass,
  19. And... Writing a Romance Novel for Dummies by Leslie Wainger,
  20. And... Don't Sabotage Your Submission by Chris Roerden.
  21. Money toward hiring an editor (regardless of whether your writer wants to indie publish or traditionally publish, an editor is great!)
  22. Money toward a book cover if your writer wants to indie publish... SelfPubEbookCovers.com is a place to start
  23. A membership to a local writing group like Alberta Romance Writers' Association
  24. Registration to a writing conference like When Words Collide (did you know Diana Gabaldon will be there this year?)
  25. A subscription to a writing magazine like Writer's Digest
~~~

While you are here, scroll down a little and you'll see a Rafflecopter contest! I'm giving away a $25 Amazon Gift Card - so you should enter and maybe you'll win it! :) The winner will be announced on December 20th!

~~~

What did I miss?  What would you love to get for Christmas?

Friday, December 6, 2013

F is for Finger Food

Today in my A to Z trip through December, we are on F! To check out the earlier posts, click here!

Every host and hostess needs a few really easy but pretty things to serve, right? My thing is appetizers - I love making appetizers!

My friend Sharon made this recipe a few years ago - thank you, Sharon! - and I've been dying to try it ever since. I finally got the chance a few weeks ago.  (I'm not sure where she found the idea or I would try to reference it.) 

I don't know if there is a proper name for this, but it appears they may be a variation of Tipsy Tomatoes. (Truth be told, I hadn't heard of Tipsy Tomatoes before, but I've just googled it and, well, I can see my experimentation with tomatoes and alcohol has just begun!)

Tipsy Tomatoes (Gin-Style)

You'll need: 1 bottle of gin (not the cheap stuff), 1 container of fresh tomatoes (little ones, like cherry or grape), 1 sprig of rosemary (optional), a package of wooden skewers and a clear pitcher.

Pour the gin into the pitcher. Skewer a couple of tomatoes on the end of the stick. Throw them and the rosemary into the gin.  Let them sit for a few hours.  (Warning: as I mentioned in August, beware of eating too many - it may tiptoe into yukaflux territory.)

Doesn't it look nice and festive?

~~~

While you are here, scroll down a little and you'll see a Rafflecopter contest! I'm giving away a $25 Amazon Gift Card - so you should enter and maybe you'll win it! :) The winner will be announced on December 20th!

~~~

Do you have a favorite quick recipe?

Thursday, December 5, 2013

E is for Evergreens

Today in my A to Z trip through December, we are on E! To check out the earlier posts, click here!

To me, the baby trees seem so fragile in the snow.
(My picture, taken at Spray Valley Provincial Park.)

Several years ago I did a lot of research on symbolism and meaning in the landscape, and although I loved evergreen trees and shrubs before I started my study, I appreciated them even more after. Don't get me wrong, though, there is a special place in my heart for deciduous plants, too!

Coniferous trees are a symbol of enduring. When everything else in the world appears dead and all the colorful deciduous leaves have blown away long ago, the coniferous trees and shrubs are there to remind us it'll all be okay. Their sturdy boughs remain beautiful and full of life, supporting the weight of the snow, even as the daylight hours get whittled away.

It is no wonder, then, that just as night seems to devour day that we turn to nature's evergreen gifts for inspiration and hope.

O Tannenbaum!

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While you are here, scroll down a little and you'll see a Rafflecopter contest! I'm giving away a $25 Amazon Gift Card - so you should enter and maybe you'll win it! :) The winner will be announced on December 20th!

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Do you like deciduous or coniferous trees the best? Or, am I the only one to think about these things?

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

D is for Dickens... and a Donkey

Today in my A to Z trip through December, we are on D! To check out the earlier posts, click here!

One of my Christmas traditions is to read something by Charles Dickens.  I used to reread Great Expectations, but now I've transitioned to A Christmas Carol. I started with Great Expectations because I had to read it for a university assignment one year. The only time I had a sufficient number of hours in one stretch was during Christmas break, and, voila, a tradition was born. A few years ago, I attended the Theatre Calgary production of A Christmas Carol and it was fabulous. I keep meaning to go back, but time in December can be so slippery, can't it?

The same year I attended the theatre production, a friend introduced me to Dominick: The Italian Christmas Donkey, which has become a new Christmas tradition.

I hope you enjoy it! (I find it impossible to sit still while listening to it.)



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While you are here, scroll down a little and you'll see a Rafflecopter contest! I'm giving away a $25 Amazon Gift Card - so you should enter and maybe you'll win it! :) The winner will be announced on December 20th!

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Do you have a book you like to re-read during the holidays?

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

C is for "Come and I Will Sing You" by Great Big Sea

Today in my A to Z trip through December, we are on C! To check out the earlier posts, click here!

One of my favorite Canadian bands is Great Big Sea.  If you haven't heard of them, you should check them out!  They are a folk-rock band from Newfoundland.  I've seen them live several times and they always put on a great show and I can't put a number to how many times I've listened to their albums over and over and over...  The video I've posted below is of them performing Come and I Will Sing You, which is one of the songs from their The Hard and The Easy album. It reminds me, in some ways, of the Twelve Days of Christmas, and I always like listening to it at Christmas time. According to Wikipedia (the source of all internet wisdom), this song has been sung as a Christmas carol since the mid-1800's, though the lyrics noted on Wikipedia are slightly different from the Great Big Sea version.

I hope you enjoy it!




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While you are here, scroll down a little and you'll see a Rafflecopter contest! I'm giving away a $25 Amazon Gift Card - so you should enter and maybe you'll win it! :) The winner will be announced on December 20th!

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Which rock band do you think did a great Christmas recording?

Monday, December 2, 2013

B is for Blitzen

Today in my A to Z trip through December, we are on B! To check out the earlier posts, click here!

I've just discovered something and I'm going to share it with you!  Blitzen wasn't one of Santa's original reindeer and neither was Donder! 

I know.  I'm shocked, too. 

I've read Twas the Night before Christmas annually for my whole life. I probably have at least seven different illustrated copies of it.  And all this time, those two poor reindeer have been called by the wrong name!

According to Huffington post, the original version of the poem has a Blixem and a Dunder instead. To verify this (ha ha), I checked Wikipedia, where I learned Donner is derived from the Germanic word for thunder and Blitzen is from lightning. That paints a great picture... them flying through the air like thunder and lightning.

Isn't it fascinating how little things get altered over time?  One of the books I'm working on is a paranormal romance... Hmm... I wonder if I could introduce a name or a myth that is important but has been misremembered over time.


Santa's Reindeer
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While you are here, scroll down a little and you'll see a Rafflecopter contest! I'm giving away a $25 Amazon Gift Card - so you should enter and maybe you'll win it! :) The winner will be announced on December 20th!

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Can you recite all the reindeer names?  There are eight (plus one).