It’s Release Day for Luck of the Draw #Lucky13 #Romance #mgtab @jacqbiggar

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It’s Release Day!

 

I have fabulous news for you this month, starting with an exclusive excerpt of my upcoming contemporary novel, Hold ‘Em: A Gambling Hearts Romance, available exclusively in the Luck of the Draw Box Set!

This is part of a brand new set filled with books from USA Today and International Bestselling Authors and available for a LIMITED time-don’t miss out!

http://books2read.com/LuckOfTheDraw

http://a.co/h2N3DdQ

Add it to your TBR Pile: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/34609578-luck-of-the-draw

Next, I have #Giveaways! I knew you’d like that one 🙂
Also, there’s news of FIVE other box sets I’m participating in within the next two months. Yes, you read that right, FIVE!

No wonder I have bags under my eyes, lol
Anyway, there’s lots of fun and news so grab a drink, cosy back into a comfy chair and prepare for a great read.

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Exclusive Excerpt

Cassandra barely waited until they had left Matt’s family behind for the cool, terracotta comfort of the house before she turned on him.
“I am not sleeping with you,” she hissed, all but

stamping her foot. Lapis-lazuli eyes snapped like fireflies and her fists clenched at her sides like she wanted to whap him one. Was it wrong that he was turned on?

“Relax, princess.” Matt grinned. “What do you take me for? I’m not that kind of guy.”
She snorted. “You’re all that type of guy.” Her purse strap had slipped off her shoulder, her cute summer dress was rumpled, and the carefully styled hair she’d started the day with looked as though it had come through a wind storm.

He liked it. It made her seem more approachable. Until she spoke.
“What is that?” she squealed, ducking behind him and peeking around his shoulder.

Matt looked to where she was pointing and laughed outright. “That’s my dog, Chewy.” He bent in time to catch the hairless Chihuahua limp-racing across the tiles, nails click-clicking to a chorus of yapping. Consuela, dressed in a colorful swirly skirt and white peasant blouse with bangles jingling on her outstretched arm hurried around the corner. “Oh, Master Matt, I’m so sorry. He was eating one minute and then he was gone.”

Matt tried to control the excited pooch working its way up his chest, tongue hanging weirdly out the side of its mouth and little bug eyes glittering with joy. “It’s okay, Consuela, I was wondering where he was.”

“It’s good to have you back, your abuela misses you.”
Matt ran a gentle hand over his pet’s bony spine, flattening the narrow black strip of coarse fur that had a mind of its own. “And I missed all of you, but I’m home now, and…” He twisted his torso until Cass came into view, “I brought a fiancée.”

Cass gave him an ugly glare, then switched on a warm smile for the housekeeper. “This is my first trip to Texas. You have a beautiful home here, Consuela.”

She nodded and stepped forward to take Chewy from his arms. “Thank you, miss. The Shaughnessys are like family.” She patted Matt’s cheek. “This one, he is special.”
Warmth for this woman, who had helped his grandma raise a troubled boy, flooded his chest. “If I am, it’s because of you. I can’t thank you enough for taking care of all of us over the years. And now…”
“Shh, don’t talk of it, child. We don’t want to invite bad spirits.”

Matt smiled through the ache. He couldn’t count the number of times he’d been warned about the spirits. “Yes, ma’am. I’m going to show Cassandra to her room. It’s been a long day.” He hugged Consuela and whispered in her ear. “It’s good to be home.”

He stepped back and smiled into her tear-filled eyes. “None of that now. This is meant to be a celebration.”
Consuela swiped at her wet cheeks and nodded. “We will make it special. You get married here, on the ranch? Your grandmother, she’s been talking non-stop about it since you called. Wait until you see her plans. It’s been good for her. For all of us.” Matt winced. He couldn’t believe he’d gotten himself into this mess. What started out as a simple way to please his grannie before she passed on had turned into a three ring circus. He glanced at the fuming woman beside him and wondered how long it would be before she blew the lid off this charade. Time to find some privacy and remind her of her obligation.

“We’ll discuss the wedding tomorrow.” He tugged Cass under his arm. “My bride-to-be is swaying on her feet.” He got them moving, heading down the hall toward his childhood bedroom. “C’mon, honey. Let’s get you tucked in so you can get your beauty sleep.”

She poked him in the ribs and he grunted. Damn, she had bony elbows. As soon as Consuela was out of sight, Cass escaped his hold. Her heaving breasts were a distraction until he realized he was staring, and jerked his gaze to her face.
“This has gone too far,” she snapped.
Matt opened the door to his room and ushered her through, determined to keep this private. He secretly agreed with her, but they’d already entered into this bargain, he didn’t plan on letting her renege.
He closed the door and leaned back to watch Cassandra pace his boyhood room. She avoided the king-sized sleigh bed he’d exchanged for the twin he had until early teens, to check out his trophy collection from swimming and baseball. Then she moved on to the few framed pictures lining his dresser, mainly him and his friends mixed with a couple of him and Gran, out riding horses or herding cattle. She’d always taken an active role in the running of the ranch. Right up until the doctor told her she couldn’t do it anymore three months ago. Funny how life fell into two categories like

that. The before filled with days taken for granted, and then the after diagnosis where every moment becomes something to be cherished.
“Is this you?” Cassandra asked, holding up a picture of him in a black and white tux, his then girlfriend, Candy, perched on his arm in a bright yellow ball gown.

“Prom,” he answered, amazed he’d ever looked that young.
She ran a finger down the glass and his body responded as though she’d physically touched him. He cursed under his breath. The last damn thing he needed was to be attracted to a woman who detested the ground he walked on. Never mind the fact she was engaged to be married—and it wasn’t to him.

He shoved away from the wall and stalked across the spacious room to his desk where his overnight bag had been left by one of the staff. He unzipped the side compartment and pulled out the distinctive blue box.

“Put this on.” He tossed the container at her and had to admit he was impressed with her swift catch. She eyed it warily, then slowly slid the lid off to reveal the midnight blue velvet box within. “Is this what I think it is?”
There she went with that finger again, rubbing the box like it was a gene’s lamp. Matt stared. Goosebumps chased up his spine and whispered in his ear that he was in a boatload of trouble. Yeah, he had that part figured out.
“You need a ring,” he said, shifting to ease the sudden pressure behind his zipper. “Grannie will expect you to have one. You can keep it when we part ways—consider it a bonus.” God, he could be such a dick sometimes.
She sent him a glance that cut to the bone, then carefully pulled the box out of its wrappings and opened the lid as though she thought it might explode in her hand. The flash of surprise she quickly hid tugged at his heart. She liked it. “Where’s my ring?” she asked, sliding the pretty solitaire onto her finger.
He was happy to see it fit. “You mean my ring, don’t you?”
She snapped the jewelry box closed and he winced. “It’s in a safe place. You live up to your end of the bargain, princess, and I’ll live up to mine.”
Cass waved her hand in the air, and the new ring glinted under the lights. “I’m here, aren’t I? Let’s just try to get through this week without killing

each other.” She flopped onto the side of his bed and bounced a couple of times. “Where are you going to sleep?”
Matt hid a grin. If this weren’t so serious, and she wasn’t holding all the cards, he’d be hard-pressed not to like this girl.

“Well, darlin’, that’s where it gets interesting.”

 

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Mother’s Day Sale!

 

Is it too late for second chances?

Jared Martin left Tidal Falls a hotheaded youth. Eight years in the military has turned him into a cynical, disillusioned man.

Then he returns home to find out he’s a father.

When an old enemy follows and causes mayhem in the small town, can Jared overcome the odds to protect the woman he’s always loved and the child he never knew?

Or is it too late for them to have a second chance?

Don’t forget to check our home page for our fabulous May contest and some great deals on books!

See you next time,

Jacquie Biggar

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New Year Black-eyed Peas @JoanReeves #mgtab

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New Year's 2017 Graphic ImageNew Year’s Day is on the horizon. In the South, the first day of the New Year calls for Black-eyed Peas.

Some home cooks think cooking these beloved little legumes requires too much time and energy so they opt for the canned variety.

So I thought I’d share this really easy slow-cooker method. You just do a little prep work, throw them in your slow cooker or Crock Pot, and in about 6 hours you’ll have the most delicious black-eyed peas you’ve ever eaten. So if you want to serve black-eyed peas at midnight on New Year’s Eve, put them on at 6pm.

Black-eyed Peas the Slow Cook Way

1. Pour a 1-pound bag of dried black-eyed peas into a colander and wash them. Then place them in a cooking pot with 3 cups of water. Bring to a boil. Let boil for 10-15 minutes. Remove from heat and pour into the colander and rinse.

2. Place the rinsed peas in the slow cooker.

3. Add 3 cups of water to the slow cooker.

4. Add your choice of a pork meat product: 1/4 pound of bacon, fried crisp and crumbled OR 1/2 pound smoked ham, cubed OR 1 ham hock.

5. Add 2 medium-size onions, chopped

6. Add 1/2 to 1 teaspoon salt. I give this range because some bacon and ham can be very salty. So start with a little salt and add more if needed when they’re almost ready to serve.

7. Add 1/4 teaspoon coarsely-ground or cracked fresh ground black pepper.

8. Optional: 1-2 cloves of minced garlic if you like garlic. I use a little garlic because I don’t want to overwhelm the flavor of the peas.

9. Kick it up another notch with a few drops of Tabasco if you like this Creole flavoring. I always add 4-6 drops of Tabasco.

10. Final option: add a can of diced tomatoes to the mixture in the slow cooker.

Once everything is in the slow cooker, stir to mix well. Place the lid on the slow cooker and cook on high for 4 to 6 hours. The aroma as they cook is mouth-watering.

I always serve these with cornbread and rice. Like most legumes, black-eyed peas are an incomplete protein so if you want to serve them as a complete protein main dish, serve them with steamed rice.

I hope you’ll try these. They’re really delicious and so easy to make that you may find yourself making them even when it’s not New Year’s.

Of course, remember the bottle of chilled bubbly.

My New Year Wishes For You

May you and your family have good health, good relationships, vocations and avocations you love, prosperity, the ability to endure and persist when life throws curve balls your way, and peace within.

Joan Reeves writes sexy Contemporary Romance Novels–available at most ebook sellers. Check out my Amazon Author Page for a list of books.  (Audio editions available at Audible, and iTunes.) All of Joan’s books have the same underlying premise: “It’s never too late to live Happily Ever After.” Joan lives her Happily Ever After with her hero, her husband, in the Lone Star State. Readers, sign up for Joan’s Mailing List/Free NL and receive a free ebook. Connect with Joan Online: Blog * Facebook * Twitter * YouTube.

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My #free gift to you this holiday season! #mgtab

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I have recently found a new website called Instafreebie where an author can set up a book to be given to his/her readers and fans without actually having to make it free on Amazon, Kobo and the other venues.

I love this because it means that I can single out some of my friends and followers and give them a special Christmas treat with very little effort.

There’ve been many times I’ve wanted to make this type of gesture but if the book is sold everywhere, it can be a battle trying to make sure it becomes free for the days you particularly want it to be.

And I required this to happen, because I wanted to surprise you all with a gift for the season and I needed it to be available for no cost to you.

So… please take the time to download it to your eReaders, phones or tablets and enjoy the spirit of the holidays in this wonderful story.

snowpups_cvr_med

SNOW PUP

Holiday Heartwarmers Series

Book #2

In this delightful Christmas love story, Deputy Shawna Mallory finds Billy McCrae – a runaway boy sleeping in a mound of snow with an anxious puppy guarding him. He’s a sad child surviving a terrible existence until she puts a stop to it and becomes his foster parent. She’s drawn to the snarky kid and just wants his life to be happier, his and the stray mutt who won’t leave his side. Not that the boy cares about the dog… or her. Then she meets his father, the one who abandoned the boy when he was five.

John Reid McCrae wants only one thing in his life to make it worth living. Years ago he’d lost his son to a bitter wife and now his goal is to get Billy back. He’ll do whatever it takes, no matter who gets hurt. Until he meets the town’s stunning deputy. Can he put his needs ahead of her happiness?

 

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Holiday Traditional #Recipe from #USAToday Love, Christmas author @jacqbiggar @mimisgang1

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usatodaysanta-lc-tweet

Holiday Traditional Recipe and Excerpt From Silver Bells

by Jacquie Biggar

 

The Christmas season is my favorite time of year. An air of festivity takes hold as stores bring out their holiday decorations and old time favorites play on the television.

One of my favorite Christmas recipes came from my grandmother, Waldorf salad. Every year I’d look forward to seeing that fancy glass bowl filled with chopped up apples taking pride of the place on our dining room table. It was Grandma’s donation to our holiday dinner.

We’ve kept the tradition going, even though she passed away a few years ago. Now, when I look upon that simple bowl of salad every year, I feel her presence among us and smile.

picture1

WALDORF SALAD

6 Spartan or Mac Apples

3 Stalks Celery

1 cup Chopped Walnuts

1 cup Mayo, 2 tbs. sugar, 4 tbs. milk whipped together

Use lemon juice or citric acid to whiten apples.

Peel and chop apples and celery into bite-size pieces, sprinkle with lemon juice. Add walnuts. Stir in dressing and refrigerate until use. Enjoy.

Categories

Fruits, Nuts, Vegetables, Salads, Christmas, Easter, Fourth of July, Thanksgiving, No Cook, Quick

Nutrition Facts
Serving Size 100.2g
Amount Per Serving

Calories

120

Calories from Fat

45
% Daily Value*

Total Fat

5.0g
8%

Saturated Fat

0.3g
1%

Trans Fat

0.0g

Cholesterol

0mg
0%

Sodium

89mg
4%

Potassium

262mg
7%

Total Carbohydrates

19.1g
6%

Dietary Fiber

2.5g
10%

Sugars

13.2g

Protein

2.6g
Vitamin A 3% Vitamin C 13%
Calcium 2% Iron 3%

* Based on a 2000 calorie diet

Nutritional details are an estimate and should only be used as a guide for approximation.

***

In my story, Silver Bells, part of the Love, Christmas Collection on sale now at your favorite vendor, my heroine, Christy, has a young daughter recently diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes.

Their lives now revolve around carb counting, blood testing, and insulin needles. This is from the Canadian Diabetes Association:

Type 1 diabetes is a disease in which the pancreas does not produce any insulin. Insulin is a hormone that helps your body to control the level of glucose (sugar) in your blood. Without insulin, glucose builds up in your blood instead of being used for energy.

Your body produces glucose and also gets glucose from foods like bread, potatoes, rice, pasta, milk and fruit.

The cause of type 1 diabetes remains unknown. It is not caused by eating too much sugar, and is not preventable. The current thought is that type 1 diabetes occurs when the body’s immune system destroys the cells that make insulin.

While children with type 1 have to be vigilant with their care, they can still enjoy active, healthy lifestyles. We’ve come a long way in treating this life-threatening illness, and with any luck sometime in the near future, a cure will be found.

Here’s an exclusive excerpt from Silver Bells:

“Mommy, Mommy,” Jill cried, skipping into the kitchen. “Guess what? We’ve been playing I Spy. It’s so fun, and I was winning too.” She came and wrapped her arms around Christy’s waist. “I’m hungry,” she announced.

Christy bent over and kissed the top of Jill’s head, then smiled at the elderly woman entering the room. “Was she good?”

Claire Michaels, her neighbor and good friend, snorted. “Do geese lay eggs?” she asked, and grinned at Jill’s giggles. “Of course she was good. That child is never a problem. How about you? Did you enjoy your run?”

Annoyance warmed her cheeks to a rosy hue. “I did until some idiot took offence to me drawing him and stole my work.”

Claire gasped. “Phone the police. He can’t get away with that.”

Christy grimaced. “He kind of can. I should have asked his permission first. I’ve just never had an issue before.” She shrugged and let go of Jill so she could open the fridge to withdraw the soup she’d made earlier.

“Want to stay for dinner? There’s plenty.” She waved a hand back and forth over the tricky gas burner until it lit, then set the pot of hamburger soup on to heat.

“Stay, Aunty Claire. Stay,” Jill begged.

Claire laughed. “How can I say no to an invitation like that?” She sat at the oval country style kitchen table with a relieved sigh and watched Jill dance around the island in the center of the room. “She never stops. It’s hard to imagine…”

Christy’s stomach rolled. She nodded and concentrated on cutting slices of fresh baked whole wheat bread to go with the meal. Yeah, it was hard to imagine her bright, cheerful little girl had developed the dangerous disease of Type 1 Diabetes. But it was true.

The shock had taken a while to overcome. To think a simple trip to the clinic over a weak set of kidneys ended in emergency at the hospital. Then came a week spent in the children’s ward learning just how threatening her sickness could be—and that there is no cure. It was a lot to take in and deal with. It broke her heart every time she had to poke her daughter’s fingers in order to take blood glucose readings, twelve or more times a day, twenty-four-seven. And then there were the needles for insulin injections. Some days it was hard to remember a life before carb counts and two-hour checks, but the worst were the nights. The fear was always there she’d be fast asleep and Jill would go low and need immediate care, or dangerously high requiring ketone checks and lots and lots of water to flush her system.

The stress had ended her marriage. Kevin was a good man, but not up to dealing with his less than perfect—in his eyes—little girl. And that was okay, Christy didn’t have the reserves to deal with his crisis of conscience anyway.

To read more, pick up your copy of love, Christmas today!

d6739-love2bchristmas

Put a song in your heart with 20 all-new Christmas Romances from NY Times, USA Today, and national best-selling authors. Each brand-new title is inspired by a Christmas carol and will lift your spirits and bring on the holiday cheer. 

Amazon: http://bit.ly/LoveChristmasUS 

B&N: http://bit.ly/LoveChristmasBN

Kobo: https://store.kobobooks.com/en-us/ebook/love-christmas-holiday-stories-that-will-put-a-song-in-your-heart

Apple: https://itunes.apple.com/ca/book/love-christmas-holiday-stories/id1158227218?mt=11&ign-mpt=uo%3D4

Add to your TBR pile: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/32316229-love-christmas—holiday-stories-that-will-put-a-song-in-your-heart

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A Love, Christmas novella – Sleigh Ride by Katy Walters #mgtab

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5-katy-walters-sleighride

I was so excited to receive an unexpected invitation to join this famous set of authors all having the title New York Times or USA Today author or yet again best sellers.  When I wrote my first book for Kindle six years ago, I never  dreamed I would actually engage in a box collection with such prestigious authors.

After the excitement, I calmed down and my beaming smile changed to a puzzled frown, I had to write a novella  with a title  inspired by a Christmas song or carol.  Songs and carols burst through my mind.  So many, but what title and what was the story going to be? As usual, I fell into my inner conversation, ‘Come on Katy, just think – think.’  Biting my lip, I caught my breath, yes, maybe … yes.  A vision of a sleigh flew across my mind.  There is one image of  Christmas that always catches my imagination and that is Santa in his sleigh flying across the tree tops being pulled by reindeer that take him over the moon, and through the stars.  Yes , I got it …  yes …  a sleigh ride and there was even a song about it.  Yes, I felt the tug on the heart as I captured the dream.

I do believe a story has to pull on my heart for the reader to also feel those emotions, be they joy, sorrow, love; feelings which to me are the foundation of any story. Now I felt the tug – a sleigh ride.
I raced to the PC and booted it up, pulling up a bare page on the screen. Biting my lip; by the way, all my heroes or heroines bite their lip, I put my hands on the keys and wrote the title Sleigh Ride.

Six weeks later I sat back, relieved and grinning, looking at the last line of the last chapter of Sleigh Ride. I hope you will enjoy reading this story as much as I did writing it through  days and nights of dreams, ideas, inspiration, and hope.  Finally, as is my habit, at the very end; I dash off to the fridge, open it, find  a glass in the cupboard, and pour that  celebratory glass of wine.

Now for the BEST news ever!!!
The collection is published and yesterday…
… it hit the USA Today list!
How exciting is that?!!
20 wonderful novellas – all by NWT & USA Today authors
Only 99 cents!

AMAZON  KOBO  APPLE  B&N

usa-today-bestseller-01

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Last Christmas from Love, Christmas @JoanReeves #mgtab

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Cover of Last Christmas by Joan ReevesLast Christmas has always been one of my favorite holiday songs. Earlier this year, we ran a contest with Fresh Fiction and asked entrants to name their favorite holiday song–a classic carol or a popular song.

We authors had chosen a favorite song in advance. The first person to name the author’s song became the reader to which the author dedicated her novella.

My song was Last Christmas, made popular by Wham and recorded most recently by Taylor Swift. Several readers listed the song as a favorite, but Corissa Palfrey was the first to list it. So Last Christmas, my holiday romance in the Love, Christmas Collection, is dedicated to Corissa.

Why I Chose Last Christmas

I’ve always liked Last Christmas because the song is a study in contrast. The lyrics are poignant, but the rock and roll beat and tune don’t make you feel tearful and sad as so many Christmas songs do. When Last Christmas plays, you want to snap your fingers and tap your feet.

Further analysis shows that the song is actually one of optimism and personal growth. In the song, a girl gave her love unwisely to a man who didn’t value it, but she learned from the experience. That’s why this Christmas, she’s going to give her heart to someone special!

What If…

Every woman has probably had her heart broken at some time or other. The lyrics for Last Christmas fired my imagination and the story nearly told itself: a woman fell for a man and gave her heart to him. After a few days, he simply vanished!

Ever been told, “I’ll call you,” but the phone never rings–no matter how long you wait!

Sign says RetaliationWhat if the two lovers meet again?

What if he wants to rekindle the romance?

What if she wants to make him pay for breaking her heart?

Haven’t we all had similar fantasies of getting redress when wronged?

Blurb

Last Christmas Annabelle Cooper fell in love at first sight with a mysterious stranger. After a week of unforgettable passion, he walked out of her life with a promise to call her later.

ab_lc_lastchristmas_01_webA year of heartache accompanied by the dirty tricks life can serve up finds Annabelle back in her hometown, determined to forget the man who still haunts her dreams.

Who should walk into her grandmother’s Christmas party? Why the man who seduced her, lied to her, and betrayed her! He has a new name and a new identity, but his effect on Annabelle is as old as time.

Rick Lassiter thinks–hopes–he can woo Annabelle back to him–and his bed. But, he didn’t count on the passionate sweet-tempered woman he remembered as having a will as strong as his and a desire to make him pay for breaking her heart.

Rick wants redemption, but Annabelle has revenge in mind.

Special Price–Limited Time

Love, Christmas is the Collection of the YEAR, and it’s only 99Cents!!!

You’ll love this heartwarming collection of 20 all-new Christmas stories from NY Times, USA Today, and national best-selling authors. Every title in the set is from a well-known Christmas song, and we hope while reading these delightful stories, they will put a song in your heart.

love-christmas
Love, Christmas is on pre-order now! The Collection will publish on October 18. Get it now at these ebook sellers: Amazon Kindle * KoboBooks * B&N * iBooks.

Try Before You Buy

That’s right, we’ve put together a sampler, Book Bites 7, containing every first chapter of all the novellas in Love, Christmas. This Holiday Sampler is free! You’ll find it at these ebook sellers: Amazon * Kobo * B&N.

rsz_1bookbites7-1350-x-2015-resizedBut Wait, There’s More!

To celebrate the release of Love, Christmas, we are having Facebook parties with prizes, giveaways, and even a Treasure Hunt!

Love, Christmas Treasure Hunt graphicClick to join the Love, Christmas Treasure Hunt. There’s a lot of fun to be had and prizes too!

Click to enter the Rafflecopter Giveaway–there are some great prizes!

The Rafflecopter began Oct. 1 and runs through Oct. 25.

ab_lc_tour_bookpartners_fb-eventJoin the Authors of Love, Christmas on Oct. 17 and 18 for Facebook Parties thrown by Book Partners. All authors are giving away prizes. I hope to see you there!

For information about these events, check the Love, Christmas Facebook Page.

ab_lc_collage-wideBook Links Encore

Book Bites 7: Holiday Sampler. FREE! Amazon * Kobo * B&N.

Love, Christmas Romance Collection. Pre-order now and find it in your Inbox at midnight on October 18. Amazon Kindle * KoboBooks * B&N * iBooks.


Joan Reeves writes sexy Contemporary Romance Novels–available at most ebook sellers. (Audio editions available at Audible, and iTunes.) All of Joan’s books have the same underlying premise: “It’s never too late to live Happily Ever After.”

Joan lives her Happily Ever After with her hero, her husband, in the Lone Star State.

Readers, sign up for Joan’s Mailing List/Free NL . Writers, subscribe to WritingHacks, Joan’s free NL for authors. Connect Online with Joan: Blog * Facebook * Google+  * Twitter * YouTube.

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What Silver Bells means to me? Love, Christmas Collection #Traditions #HolidayRomance #mgtab @jacqbiggar

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What Silver Bells means to me?

 

 

 

I first heard Silver Bells as a young girl. My mom and dad made it a tradition to take us out looking for the perfect Christmas tree. Sometimes we’d drive for hours before Dad found just the right area to search in. He’d park on the side of the country road and tell us to get ready, then go around to the back of the truck and haul out his axe and a rope so we could drag it out of the bush. The snow would be deep and fresh, with only a few animal tracks to guide us on our journey.

If the sun was still high enough, the snow would glisten like diamonds. If it was lower, the trees would cast shadows and we would hurry to stay close to our dad. The thing I remember most is the quiet. No cars. No people chattering. Just the crunch of our boots and the wind sighing through the spruce trees.

Being a townie, as we called the kids who always lived within town limits, this was a treat for us. It reminded me of church. And maybe that’s what it was meant to be, Nature’s cathedral.

 

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When we’d finally get back home, Mom would make us hot chocolate, place Bing Crosby’s Silver Bells on our stereo record player, and Dad would bring the tree into the house and find the best spot to set it up. Most of the time, he picked a tree that was miles too big for our living room and bare on one side. He would grin at Mom’s clucks and groans and wink at us.

I think it was a game they played. 🙂

When my dad passed away, we stopped going out on our Christmas tree quest, instead we bought an artificial that went up in any corner of the room and always looked perfect.

But it didn’t have the scent of pine, or the love of a family outing to make it into something special.

When Mimi Barbour came up with the idea for a box set of holiday stories titled with Christmas songs, it was easy to decide which one I’d like to do. I was delighted when one of the winners of this spring’s Fresh Fiction contest chose my song!

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It was fate. Thank you, Deb Philippon. 🙂

 

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What about you? Do you have family traditions, young or old, that makes the holidays that bit more special?

We’d love to hear about them.

 

I hope you’ll give the Love, Christmas Collection a try. It’s filled with twenty never-before-seen novellas from bestselling authors of romance.

I think you’re going to like it!

 

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Love, Christmas Collection

Put a song in your heart with 20 all-new Christmas Romances from NY Times, USA Today, and national best-selling authors. Each brand-new title is inspired by a Christmas carol and will lift your spirits and bring on the holiday cheer. 

Amazon: http://bit.ly/LoveChristmasUS 

B&N: http://bit.ly/LoveChristmasBN

Kobo: https://store.kobobooks.com/en-us/ebook/love-christmas-holiday-stories-that-will-put-a-song-in-your-heart

Apple: https://itunes.apple.com/ca/book/love-christmas-holiday-stories/id1158227218?mt=11&ign-mpt=uo%3D4

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Germinating Seeds for Stories or…Spinach?

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This week I’m writing all about getting seeds to germinate. Plot seeds (as in a story) or veggie seeds. They really aren’t very different.

Hatching a new story requires a writer to search through their mental file cabinet of ideas. Once you decide upon the type of story you want to tell, you need to prepare the soil—so to speak. This might mean clearing your desk of distracting paperwork or craft projects. Ignore your email inbox and phone messages, until you get your day’s writing done. While plants need the proper lighting and right amount of water and fertilizer—the writer’s brain and body require a healthy diet, sufficient hydration, exercise, and a comfortable working environment. We also need to dedicate sufficient time to grow our story into something worthwhile.

In the garden world, I have the more trouble encouraging my spinach seed to sprout than any other veggie seed. All the pros tell me that it can take weeks for those little pellets to sprout. Although you might be able to hurry them along with either a good soak for 24 hours or a cold-treatment in the fridge. It seems they are so temperature sensitive that, when the soil is over 75-degrees, they’ll refuse to germinate at all. Spinach loves cool weather. And on top of that, even in the best of conditions, only about 30% are likely to ever sprout. Stubborn little babies, aren’t they?

Why bother with planting spinach at all? Maybe it’s for reasons similar to why I spend so many hours writing stories. Just as I love spinach for all of its marvelous benefits to my health, I love producing fiction because it’s healthy for my brain. Writing a novel encourages me to exercise my imagination and fully engage creatively. And I’m convinced that, like growing vegetables, we write better depending upon the seasons.

I tend to write more fluidly and with greater energy in the spring and the fall. The air feels fresher where I live in the Washington, DC area during those seasons. I seem to breathe easier, think clearer. Spinach, too, grows most happily (once you get it started, that is) in both the early spring and the late fall. In fact, some varieties will winter over so that you have lovely fresh greens without any fuss at all, as soon as the snow melts. If you forget to do a fall planting you can even sprinkle seeds over the frozen ground. As soon as it thaws in spring, I’m told, seeds will sprout for a carefree crop. It’s apparently only when you’re trying to force the little darlings to sprout in less than optimum conditions that they won’t send up shoots.CoverFinalSM-TheExtremeNovelist

That’s one thing that’s magical about writing, which we talk a lot about in the classes I teach at The Writer’s Center in Washington, DC (and in The Extreme Novelist). If we scatter story seeds then let them develop organically in our mind before starting to write…and then take the time to draft a working synopsis. If we then give these ideas the attention they need by writing daily and not letting the craziness of everyday life crowd out our writing time–that’s how we  grow as writers and begin to produce quality, publishable  fiction.

Write daily, my friends. Write with focus. Nurture yourself as a writer, just as a good gardener tends her garden. You’ll harvest an amazing crop.

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