The Beauty of … being thankful. @josieriviera, #mgtab

November is such a special time each year. The cool crisp air and shorter days bring us to a time where we can slow down. Relax a little. And be thankful for what we have.

This year of 2020 has been both a different and a difficult one. We have seen “unprecedented times,” and tragic situations, but there also have been blessings.

Here are a few:

  • We have come to realize how essential the essential workers who have continued to do their jobs during the pandemic really are. From grocery store workers to the hospital staff, and the agriculture and transportation workers who keep the country running, I am thankful.
  • For healthcare workers who have cared for patients and stood in for their patients’ families when they could not be there, I am thankful.
  • Bringing food to the elderly or singing to the lonely neighbor isolated in their homes, for those who have shown kindness, I am thankful.
  • For the animal shelters who cared for, fostered or adopted pets during this time, I am thankful.

I’m also thankful for my readers who continue to enjoy my books and support me!

Wishing you a safe and Happy Thanksgiving full of everything you are thankful for.

If you love puppies and the holidays, be sure to pick up a copy of my sweet, inspirational holiday romance, A Christmas Puppy To Cherish at the special price of only 99¢! Also available in paperback and Large Print Paperback.

 

Chicago Hope by Carmen DeSousa

I love Christmas! I love the traditions, family, gifts…the food.

But I also grew up poor and, oftentimes, wondered why other kids got presents that I didn’t. As I got older, I saw the realities of the world, and realized how lucky I was. While I didn’t get the Barbie Dreamhouse I wanted, I did have a Barbie doll, and we always had a roof over our head and food on the table.

Some children aren’t so lucky…

When our boys were young, my husband, who was a police officer at the time, worked with the local community and knew the families who had rough breaks. The police department spent months collecting food and toys, and then took them to the hard-working families who needed help on Christmas. The faces of the beautiful children…and the tears of the appreciative parents were unforgettable. Our sons learned something, too. When they saw how wide-eyed a little boy was to receive a Tonka truck, they were more appreciative Christmas morning when they got their Nintendo or Sega…or whatever was popular that year.

Someone once said that if a group of people wrote their problems on a sheet of paper and tossed them in a basket and passed that basket around and traded problems, most people would choose to keep their problems. Obviously, no one can prepare for the tragedy that happens in the blink of an eye, but is it possible that we learn to deal with what we have—or don’t have?

When a good friend suggested I write a Dear Santa story, I wanted to bring to life a story of a woman who, like me, didn’t realize how lucky she had it…and forgot about her dreams…or assumed she wasn’t powerful enough to make her dreams come true—personally and professionally.

I hope you enjoy my story of hope. Hope for a single mother…her son…and the children who live on the poor side of Chicago.

PRE-ORDER NOW

 

Book Description:

Aspiring journalist Maura Hall dreams of changing the world, but she’ll settle for Chicago.

Wanting to make a difference, Maura uprooted herself and her eight-year-old son from the Sandhills of North Carolina and planted roots in Chicago, Illinois. After three years of struggling to publish even one hope-filled article, her dreams begin to crumble and fade, much like her run-down tenement. She works a second job to make ends meet and struggles to balance parenting with work, while her journalistic responsibilities are reduced to correcting typos for her plagiarizing co-workers.

Rick Figueroa seems perfect: he’s handsome, smart, and appreciative of Maura’s vision for their media company. He’s also in a position to share her writing and ideas. Together they launch a Dear Santa project that has the potential to restore hope and Christmas cheer to thousands of children.

But things are not always as they seem… As Maura’s attraction to Rick grows, so do her questions about his identity and his intentions. Soon she is faced with a choice between love, career, and doing the right thing…all before Christmas.

DEAR SANTA PRE-ORDER

 

About Carmen: I write stories that overflow with romance, and suspense, a hint of humor sometimes and, of course, a few Kleenex moments. After all, what would a great story be without an emotional event setting the stage? All of my novels are sensual, but not erotic, gripping but not graphic, and will make you cry, laugh, love, and hope.

Visit my website to see what’s new: www.CarmenDeSousaBooks.com.

Traditions Stay Alive by Changing… A Little

Traditions are who I am; not to the exclusion of everything else, just the basic platform I catapult from for family gatherings. The friend who made spaghetti for Christmas enjoyed her holidays just as much as I did, (even though I was horrified when I found out). Traditions helped when grew up as a Coastie Brat, and later when we raised Army Brats, and even after retiring from the Military, we brought children into our home as a helping family. Familiarity was key, not only with my own children, but with all those precious children and families that came in and out of our home. Until a couple of years ago, my autumn and winter holidays included snow, cold, dark days and darker nights, ocean, and mountains surrounding my island of less than 15,000 people. Change is not to be avoided, even for a traditional holiday celebrant. Embrace whatever they are, where ever they are, for it is how you view them that makes all the difference.

My husband retired for the last time and all but our youngest is now a full fledged adult. So, we left our home of many years to our daughter and struck out on a new adventure. My parents are now aging, and we have moved closer to them. Now, it isn’t me heading up our large family in the ways of tradition but our children have each taken a part to create holidays without us. This year, we will be there for Thanksgiving. I will have been 14 months away from most of my children and grandchildren and I’m already dreaming of what we need to do to make the holiday happy and familiar.

But, now I am following the children’s lead instead of them following mine and that’s how it should be. They take the traditions from their home and incorporate the ones they loved the best into their own home, meshing them with their spouse’s or tweaking them to fit their lifestyle. I think it was a success, my traditionalist ways. Home, warmth, security, familiarity, and most importantly, LOVE.

In my book, found in the DEAR SANTA Box Set, you will find it set in Bellingham, Washington and surrounding area, near my Alaskan home, full of snow and typical winter wonderland weather for North America. The main characters are surrounded by loving family with one member who had been gone for years, returns for good. It’s all a happy ever after kind of Christmas.

Join me in Christmas Wishes and you.

Beth’s Wish: A second chance at love with Trevor

Beth’s Christmas Wish of a Second Chance at Love could happen if only she would be willing to risk her heart… again.

 

Barnes and Noble      Amazon        KOBO        iBook

 

Excerpt:

The sirens could be heard in the distance, and Beth heaved a sigh of relief. She hadn’t worked Emergency or triage in several years. She was glad old protocols came back to her quickly, her adrenaline infusing her veins, responses crisp and clear. Most of the victims were shaken up, but no obvious life-threatening injuries were self-reported or observed.

There seemed to be fear, disorientation, and blood from assorted scrapes and cuts but not from more worrisome places like the head region. Beth helped those who had bleeding wounds to put pressure on the areas affected and attended the things she could see, like preventing the teens in the second car from getting out and walking away since they appeared well. Looks were deceiving, but she knew teenagers thought themselves to be invincible. She stationed her pedestrian helper outside the teen’s vehicle to encourage their compliance.

Three car collisions were often much worse than this one, and the occupants were luckier than they knew. Nonetheless, there were still injuries, and reinforcements should be coming around the corner now. The sirens were faint but getting louder.

The older gentleman in the first car, the one who was rear-ended by the teens, seemed to be moving the slowest. “Are you still doing all right, sir?”

“Yes, I ache, but I don’t feel as though I’m injured badly.”

“Well, do you mind if I stay here with you?”

The older gentleman with the kindly face smiled. “Worried about the old man?

“No, I have the best viewpoint to see the scene from here.”

“Now Beth, don’t spin a tall tale this close to Christmas.”

Beth quickly tried to think back to how the man could have gotten her name. Was he a patient? He might have been, but she didn’t think so. She certainly hadn’t told him. At least she didn’t think so. Could he have heard the pedestrian that was walking around with her say her name? Maybe.

“Have we met before?” she asked.

“We have over the years. I’ve been visiting this area long before you or your parents were born.”

Beth could imagine that to be true. “Oh. Then I’m sorry I don’t remember who you are. Do you know you look a bit like—”

“Yes, I know. I get that all the time. People want to hire me this time of year, but I’m too busy to do it. I don’t think I’d even be good at it.”

“Oh, I think you’d be great.”

“Maybe I’ll be the Community Christmas Party Santa this year. Be my guinea pig? Let me try it out on you?”

Beth laughed. “I don’t think you need to practice.”

“Please? Just to see. It would help me keep my mind off the sore arm.”

“Oh, well. I’d be glad to help.” Anything to make him stay as comfortable as possible. She felt for his pulse and relaxed. Not worrisome.

“Right. So, Beth, what is your fondest wish for Christmas this year?”

“Oh…”

Beth’s tongue tangled, and the flippant answer she was going to give him flew from her mind.  All she could see was Trevor Darrington right after he had qualified for medical school. That last devastating Christmas when he broke up with her for her own good.

“I can’t ask you to wait for me, Beth,” said Trevor.  “It’ll be too long. It’s better if we just stay friends. I want you to date if you find someone else.”

He had choked on his own words and had looked away. If Beth had known then what she knew now, she would have known immediately it wasn’t what he wanted, but at eighteen, she hadn’t had enough life experience to help her see that.

“Do you want me to find someone else?”

“No, but it could happen. I won’t hold you back.”

But Beth couldn’t simply be friends. It wasn’t what she had wanted with Trevor, and she couldn’t disguise her love for him. She had begged and pleaded, but for once, she had not been able to sway his decision. She’d stormed off the patio and never looked back except in her dreams. She’d been a nurse for ten years now, an Advanced Nurse Practitioner the last five. Three years older than she, Trevor had been a practicing doctor at a hospital for five. Wow, it had been over a decade now since that fateful day.

The kindly older man smiled at Beth. “What is it you want more than anything this year?”

Her brain shut down, and her self-preservation filters folded. She spoke softly, almost to herself.

“Trevor Darrington. Every year, I just want him. It’s silly, really,” she smiled and shrugged, “but there it is.”

The white-bearded man nodded sagely. “The one who got away. Yes, that would definitely be a gift to cherish.”

How did he know? He didn’t, she assured herself, it was a logical guess. “Yes, well, it won’t happen, but I think you did very well. You put me at ease. That’s the trick. Oh, I see the cavalry pulling in now, so I had better greet them and tell them what we have here. Don’t get out of the car until they help you.”

“I won’t. Nice chatting with you, Beth. You never know. That present might make it this year. Don’t give up hope.”

Beth tried to laugh, but once thoughts of Trevor were resurrected, there was no turning back. Sadness descended. “I suppose, but it has been a long time.”

As she walked away, the elderly man reminded her, “Don’t forget, my dear, Christmas is all about wishes, hope, and love. Allow the unquenchable hope that created your heartfelt wish lead you to healing love.”

Beth walked off with the strangest feeling that she had just spoken to someone special. She hoped he healed quickly, but her heart’s old wound had been tugged open just a little more, and her loss poured out. Not all things healed as well as others.

Soon the emergency personnel took over from her, and she stretched. Taking a few steps backward, Beth turned to go and crashed into a wall of human flesh.

“Oh, I’m so sorry. I had no idea you were —”

His words collided with hers. “Beth? Beth Silverton? My God. It is you.”

The man sounded heart-stoppingly familiar and happy to see her. Very happy. She stared harder, and her heartbeat picked up the pace.

“Yes? Do I… Trevor? How… where…”

The jumble of emotions at seeing him left chaotic destruction in her mind. Beth closed her mouth and instinctively looked over at the first vehicle with the Santa lookalike, and for a split second wondered… but no, it was a coincidence.

“In the flesh. I can’t believe I’ve found you in the middle of this,” Trevor waved his hand over the scene before them. “We have to talk. I have been looking—” Trevor was interrupted by a shout from one of the EMTs. He glanced around watchfully. “Look, I’m attending here, so I have to go, but write your phone number on my arm. High so it doesn’t get washed off, and I’ll call you when I’m done.” Beth hesitated. “Please?”

When the rescuer shouted for Trevor again, he raised his hand in acknowledgment while giving her an entreating look. Before she took the time to think about what she was doing, she wrote on his bicep, his ridiculously hard bicep, above the elbow in case he had to scrub in for surgery. He reached over and dropped a quick peck on her cheek.

“I really have missed you.” It took all of thirty seconds, and Trevor had smiled and turned away.

 

IF YOU’D LIKE TO HAVE A LITTLE BITE, A SNACK IF YOU WILL, OF EACH STORY, ENJOY THE FIRST CHAPTERs ON US!

“FIRST CHAPTERS” from the upcoming 2020 Dear Santa: A Christmas Wish collection.

READ FREE. 

Bittersweet Beginnings 🍂🍁

Have you ever wanted something so badly that when you finally got it you didn’t know how to react? Well, it’s happening to me now. For weeks, I’ve been wondering what to write in this post, and here I am now, living my big day and not knowing what to say.

2020 is one of the most difficult and controversial years in our contemporary history—I know some of you survived much more difficult times. All of this year, I tried not to complain, not to despair, not to fear the future. I faced it with a smile on my face and forced optimism, immersing myself in work. Because, like everyone else, I had plans for 2020.

Today is the launch of my new pen name and the release of my first book in a new genre.

It’s the beginning of an era for me.

I’ve been planning this moment for a whole year. I’ve poured so much heart, sweat, tears and sleepless nights into this project, trying to perfect every single detail of my new adventure. I’ve agonized for months before I decided to start writing under a new pen name, because I wanted to keep my audiences separate and not mislead my romance fans by giving them mysteries and thrillers.

For weeks I’ve studied potential pen names before I chose Melinda Colt, a name that is actually close to my own, Melinda Coliolu. It does sound better though, and it evokes action, danger, hopefully a little sexiness—all that I try to include in my books. Plus, it’s easier to pronounce. 😊

During the past year I have worked relentlessly to write the first three novels in my new series, The Irish Garda Files. I have researched, hunted for information, knocked on doors, and even reached out to An Garda Síochána, Ireland’s police force, to assist me in my writing. With every sentence, I struggle to offer my readers the best product, the most authentic and heartfelt journey. Of all my hobbies, reading has been my favorite since I was four years old. Escaping into books and living along my favorite characters is such a fantastic experience it’s impossible to describe. I want to give that to my readers. If only one of you escapes in my stories and loves them so much you wish they never end, then my mission as a writer is complete.

I spent the past few months preparing frantically to launch Dare Game, the first book in the series. My hands still shiver with anxiety as I check my sales and reviews. What if readers won’t like it? What if people won’t buy it? What if it will get buried among the millions of books on Amazon and no one will find it?

I’ve never been this honest and open about my feelings in a public post. I’ve learned the hard way never to show vulnerability, because in this day and age a lot of people prey on it just for kicks. I know I will get some hate for this post. I know I will get some indifference. But, most of all, I hope I will get some love and understanding.

Because launching a dream of this magnitude during a frigging pandemic sucks!

I know you’re well aware of that. All over the world people lost their jobs, cancelled their weddings, went bust in their businesses, got separated from their families, lost loved ones, or lost their lives prematurely.

We’re living some crazy times. It seems that everything is trying to kill us—Covid-19, the weather, the worldwide political and financial crisis, and pretty much everything we eat, drink, or breathe. Everyone is affected by some or all of this.

To me, September 22nd 2020 was all about me and my new book—the light at the end of the tunnel. I literally survived this entire year dreaming and dreading this day. Well, today isn’t about that anymore. According to Google, on this fall equinox we’re celebrating a number of things: Falls Prevention Awareness Day, National Elephant Appreciation Day, Hobbit Day, National Ice Cream Cone Day, National Singles Day, National Temperature Control Day, National Voter Registration Day, National White Chocolate Day.

All of these things are more important than one book. Because while this book might be valuable to me, those things up there are valuable to all of us. All I can hope for is that one day, maybe decades from now, my writing will matter enough to be included in a list like that—maybe somewhere between ice cream and chocolate.

For today though, I just want to share my joy with you, and hope you won’t judge me too harshly because of my weaknesses.

And if you’re wondering what I’ve been talking about for the last ten minutes, feel free to check out the infamous—not yet famous—Dare Game. I would be honored to hear your opinions.

 

Stay healthy and safe,

Melinda