Keeping Christmas No Matter What

Reflecting over the past sixty plus years, I’ve proven that life can be falling apart but traditions will not be ignored. An example: I remember my mother being half-dead with pneumonia and insisting we take her to Walmart to buy my sister a cake and gifts for her birthday. It was not acceptable to give me the list because she had to do the shopping herself. In my story, the family insists life will go on as normal at all costs when tragedy strikes before a holiday.

Christmas in the Clouds is the movie that inspired me to write Christmas with the Clouds.

In the movie, a Native American son, Ray has just returned from college to run the ski lodge in Utah that his father once managed. A comfortable environment where employees’ children play in the lobby and the handyman hits on guests, the lodge isn’t four-star travel guide material. So when Ray learns that a representative from a famous travel guide is coming to inspect, he makes a complete overhaul of the hotel. Getting his father to stay out of the way is a minor issue, shadowed by dealing with the eccentric staff, which includes the vegetarian chef who takes pleasure in naming the animals diners are eating.

Despite Ray’s careful plans, everything goes wrong. Beautiful Tina arrives at the lodge and Ray mistakenly thinks she’s the travel writer and sets about giving her the royal treatment while the real travel writer is ignored and is subject to hilarious hotel bungling. Read the review on Rotten Tomatoes here. 

Although my story, Christmas with the Clouds is not a comedy, there are some parallels with the movie. The action takes place in Utah, but the family returns to their roots at the Indian Reservation in Lapwai, Idaho after a tragedy ruins their Christmas. What happens next is unexpected. My heroine, Tracy’s presence with the family seems to make their grief turn around. Because of Tracy’s small child, Jasmine, they decide that Christmas cannot be canceled. It becomes a healing, almost joyful time for everyone.

For the story, I drew on an experience of a year ago. Preparations for my granddaughter’s birthday loomed ahead. Ponies, a taco truck, and a lifeguard for the pool were all arranged when my son received a life threatening diagnosis the morning of the party. My desire was to get into bed and stay there for the rest of my life. My daughter-in-law said, “no way.” The show would go on.

The bouncy house and water slide were installed and inflated. Relatives from Michigan and Pennsylvania arrived from the airport; friends from all over California showed up by noon. Soon, their backyard was filled with twenty children and their parents, nannies and helpers. I was overwhelmed by the chaos. The ponies were hysterical, wearing headdresses of flowers. The taco truck was the perfect accompaniment. For a few hours, our worry and pain were alleviated by a child’s birthday party.

In Christmas with the Clouds, it takes a year for the characters to cycle through their grief. Finally, by the following Christmas, although they will never forget their loss, something wonderful ensues and they take the next step in moving on with life.

In our instance, a year later as life had returned to our new normal, my granddaughter’s next birthday approached. The celebration was just as chaotic, but without the dread. We all marveled that we’d weathered the year, and had some good news with which to rejoice.

To read an excerpt of Christmas with the Clouds please download our free Book Bites!

Love Christmas, 2 was the perfect vehicle to get me to write the story that had been simmering away for a year. The holidays provide so much for us, in spite of the busyness. The danger is allowing the gift buying and meal preparations to overshadow the fun – getting together with our friends and families, reinforcing traditions for our children to carry on, and just the break in routine. If you celebrate the holidays, what are you planning?


I especially love to hear about the traditional foods served; everything from ethnic favorites to all time American dishes like green bean casserole. Our free recipe book has new dishes to try this year.

Favorite Holiday Recipes Cookbook
Next week, our release party for Love Christmas, 2 is at Facebook on October 16th and 17th. Be sure to stop by here! We’ll have lots of giveaways and gifts to share.

One of the giveaway prizes at this event is a Love Christmas 2 book cover bracelet!

 

Suzanne Jenkins

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Start the first installment of Suzanne’s bestselling series, Pam of Babylon FREE! Download Today – The Greeks of Beaubien Street 99 Cents (Greektown Detroit Detective Stories) Also free, Atlas of Women, a compilation of the novella, Mademoiselle and four short stories, and Burn District: The Prequel.

Her anthology of romance titles with eleven other authors, A TOUCH OF PASSION, has just become the 2016 WINNER of The Romance Reviews Readers’ Choice Awards.

Suzanne writes page-turning contemporary romance, mystery, and women’s fiction with passionately gripping characters that stay with readers long after they turn the last page. The Detroit Detective Stories, beginning with The Greeks of Beaubien Street are a reflection of American fantasy with historical reality. Pam of Babylon books consistently rank in the Top 100 Best Sellers in American Drama with over 500,000 downloads.

Suzanne’s stand alone novels include Someone Like You, the Family/LGBT themed Alice’s Summertime Adventure, suspenseful The Savant of Chelsea, Slow Dancing, The Liberation of Ravenna Morton and Perfect for Him, her latest romance story. “Bring the tissues,” readers say.

Burn District, Jenkins new sci/fi series, follows an American family as they flee from political insanity to save their lives in the Arizona Desert.

Her short story, Vapor appeared in Willow Review, Spring 2013.

A retired operating room nurse, Jenkins divides her time between the west Michigan lakeshore, the Brandywine River Valley, and the mountains of Southern California, traveling across country with her husband, Jim and dog Oscar in an RV, to visit their children and grandchilden on different coasts.

Visit http://suzannejenkins.net where you may subscribe to an email list entitling you to free stories and excerpts of soon to be released and new releases.

Domestic Abuse by Donna Fasano @DonnaFaz #mgtab

When I write stories, sometimes secondary characters crop up out of the blue. This happened in my latest holiday novella, HER MR. MIRACLE. Adam, the hero of the story, is a kind, compassionate, and giving man. When a victim of domestic abuse shows up on his doorstep, he does not hesitate to offer her a safe haven. “Tracy” turned out to be an interesting secondary character in the book, and her actions during her short appearance in the story completely surprised me… even though I probably shouldn’t have been surprised. I can’t offer any more details that might spoil the story for readers. However, I did want to offer up some information I discovered during my research on domestic abuse.

Did you know there is a National Domestic Abuse Hotline? I didn’t know. I’m going to provide the information here just in case you or someone you know might ever need it:

Let’s start with the website: https://www.thehotline.org/

This website is filled with valuable information. You can find answers to questions such as: What is Abuse? Why do people abuse? Why do people stay in abusive relationships? You can also learn about healthy relationships and setting boundaries. There is also a list of resources. Someone is always available to chat online; all you need to do is click “chat now.”

If you fear your internet activity might be monitored, you can call the hotline:

1−800−799−7233

TTY: 1−800−787−3224

As I said, “Tracy” is a secondary character who showed up unannounced in my story, but she made me go out and do a little research that I wanted to pass on to you.

Look for HER MR. MIRACLE in Love, Christmas – Movies You Love (The Holiday Series, Book 2). This is a bundle of 26 all-new romances selling for just 99¢ and is now available for pre-order!

Domestic Abuse

 

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Domestic Abuse

Donna Fasano

USA TODAY BESTSELLING AUTHOR DONNA FASANO is a three-time winner of the HOLT Medallion, a CataRomance Reviewers Choice Award winner for Best Single Title, a Desert Rose Golden Quill Award finalist, a Golden Heart finalist, and a two-time winner of Best Romance of the Year given by BigAl’s Books & Pals Review Blog. Her books have sold nearly 4 million copies worldwide and have been published in two dozen languages. Her books have made the Kindle Top 100 Paid List numerous times, climbing as high as #5.

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Favorite Holiday Recipes Cookbook Free for Kindle, Nook, Kobo

Twenty-six authors from Authors’ Billboard have put together a cookbook to celebrate our new release, LOVE, CHRISTMAS – MOVIES YOU LOVE (The Holiday Series, Book 2). FAVORITE HOLIDAY RECIPES cookbook was edited by author Rebecca York and contains 26 delicious recipes. The images are just beautiful. And the best news yet? FAVORITE HOLIDAY RECIPES cookbook is FREE!

Here is just one of the recipes included in the book:

Christmas Eve Lasagna, from HER MR. MIRACLE, by Donna Fasano

Family is all important to Adam Rone—and so is tradition. That’s why the rag-tag family he’s assembled spends Christmas Eve together, laughing and making memories. Now, Veronica Clark, on the other hand, couldn’t give two hoots about tradition. In fact, she’s running from her family as hard as she can. But she’s stranded in Adam’s town, and this miraculous man intends to help her. Looks like she might just tumble nose over toes in love with HER MR. MIRACLE.

Makes 12 servings

9 lasagna noodlesFavorite Holiday Recipes Cookbook
1 lb. ground mild Italian sausage
1 lb. lean ground beef
1 medium yellow onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 28-oz can crushed tomatoes
1 15-oz can crushed tomatoes
2 6-oz cans tomato paste
1 cup chicken broth
2 Tbsps sugar
3 Tbsps plus 1/4 cup fresh parsley, minced, divided
1 Tbsp dried basil leaves
3/4 tsp fennel seed
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 15-oz container ricotta cheese
1 large egg, beaten
4 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded
3/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

  1. Cook lasagna noodles according to package directions, drain. Meanwhile, in a large pot, cook sausage, beef, and onion over medium heat for 8-10 minutes or until meat is brown, breaking meat into crumbles. Add garlic and cook 1 minute longer. Drain off fat.
  2. Stir in tomatoes, tomato paste, chicken broth, sugar, 3 tablespoons parsley, basil, fennel, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. In a bowl, mix together the ricotta cheese, egg, 1/4 cup parsley, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper. Stir until thoroughly combined.
  4. Preheat oven 350° F. Assemble lasagna: Spread 2 cups meat sauce to coat the bottom of a 13 x 9 inch baking dish. Layer with 3 noodles. Spread 1/3 of the ricotta mixture evenly over noodles. Sprinkle 1 cup mozzarella and 2 tablespoons Parmesan evenly over ricotta. Repeat layers twice more. Top with remaining sauce, mozzarella, and Parmesan. Dish will be full.
  5. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 25 minutes. Remove foil and bake an additional 25 minutes or until bubbly around the sides and golden on top. Let stand for 15 minutes before serving. Cover and leftovers and store in the refrigerator. Will keep for 5 days.

Download FAVORITE HOLIDAY RECIPES cookbook free:

Favorite Holiday Recipes Cookbook

 

 

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Donna Fasano

USA TODAY BESTSELLING AUTHOR DONNA FASANO is a three-time winner of the HOLT Medallion, a CataRomance Reviewers Choice Award winner for Best Single Title, a Desert Rose Golden Quill Award finalist, a Golden Heart finalist, and a two-time winner of Best Romance of the Year given by BigAl’s Books & Pals Review Blog. Her books have sold nearly 4 million copies worldwide and have been published in two dozen languages. Her books have made the Kindle Top 100 Paid List numerous times, climbing as high as #5.

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Where are the Moose Mugs?

Like most people, I love Christmas. I love the glittery lights, the music that touches the soul and the smiles- I love the smiles! I’m not a big fan of opening gifts, but I sure do love giving them!

I love how the holidays are filled with traditions, like in our family on Christmas Eve we have dinner with my husbands extended family. There will be fifty or more people there, all the way down to 4th cousins, for a fantastic dinner.

On Christmas Day, we open gifts in the morning with immediate family, and then the afternoon is filled with family entertaining and gifts being swapped while we pig out on finger foods.

There is one other major tradition in my house. The week before Christmas, we decorate the tree. While we are decorating, it’s a rule that my favorite Christmas movie needs to be playing. How fun it is to decorate while Chevy Chase is having a fun National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation!!! Have you seen that movie? What’s your favorite part?

I have so many that are my favorites – but one of my favorite scenes is when Clark and his cousin Eddie are talking in the living room and sipping eggnog from the moose mugs! I LOVE THOSE MUGS! So much so, that my husband bought me a set a few years ago. Now after we decorate, the hubby and I pour ourselves a cup and sit down to finish the movie in the glow of the lights.

That’s why I titled my story in the Love Christmas 2 box set, Finding Love on Christmas Vacation. It’s not like the movie at all, but they are on vacation and they do find love!

 

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Stacy Eaton is a USA Today Best Selling author and began her writing career in October of 2010. Stacy took an early retirement from law enforcement after over fifteen years of service in 2016, with her last three years in investigations and crime scene investigation to write full time.

Stacy is very involved in Domestic Violence Awareness and served on the Board of Directors for her local Domestic Violence Center for three years.