Do you believe in the magic of Christmas?

They say Christmas is the most magical time of the year, that miracles can happen on the day when we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. I don’t particularly believe in miracles, but there’s still some magic of the winter holidays left in my heart.

I loved Christmas when I was a child, even though my parents were not wealthy and we never had a pile of gifts under the tree. But we were better off than a lot of other people, and I’m grateful for that now.

As I became an adult, the practicalities and problems that come with being a grown-up took away a little of my holiday enthusiasm each year. Stretching the budget, organizing things, breaking my back in the kitchen… The real tree turned into a plastic one to avoid the hassle and the mess, buying gifts turned into a stressful process, even going shopping is less fun every year because of the growing lines and interminable city traffic.

However, this year I believe in the magic of Christmas more than I ever had. Why? Because my friends in the Authors’ Billboard practically put the most amazing present under my tree: a USA Today bestseller badge!

A little over a year ago, the seed of what seemed like a crazy dream took root in my mind: to become a USA Today bestselling author. Not only that, but I realized that if I made it, I would be the first Romanian in history to achieve this prestigious title. Since that moment, I worked relentlessly toward this goal, and I’m still amazed by how many incredible people I met on the way, people who joined me in my journey and fought hard to help me achieve my dream.

Together, we did it with the anthology Love, Christmas 2!

My story in this box set is a romantic comedy called Boyfriend Wanted for Christmas.

THE DESPERATE YET HUMOROUS QUEST OF AN AMERICAN BRIDGET JONES TO FIND A BOYFRIEND IN THE SEVEN DAYS SHE HAS LEFT UNTIL CHRISTMAS

Thirty-three-year-old librarian Andrea Sachse doesn’t have the time or skills to date. No man can ever live up to her dreamy book boyfriends, so why bother? But with her parents looking more desperate each time she shows up solo for their annual Christmas party, this year she’s determined to find herself a boyfriend by any means—fair or foul.

There are so many people I owe this accomplishment to, and who deserve a special THANK YOU:  Carmen, Mimi, my editor Sue, Jackie, all my wonderful co-authors of Love, Christmas 2 and of course, all of you, our dear readers and friends, who bought this box set.

The most meaningful THANK YOU goes to my husband, for being there for me, for believing in me, for offering moral and financial support, emergency hugs, pep talks, for playing housekeeper, tear-wiper, even chef when I was too exhausted, and never complaining when I worked twelve hours a day until 2 or 3 am, for keeping my spirits up with his endless supply of optimism, and for putting up with me – which is no easy job.

Each and every one of you who read this post, this victory is yours, as much – or even more – than it’s mine.  ♥ ♥ ♥

Now do you believe in the magic of Christmas? Here’s something that will make your holidays even more fun:  We’re looking for Santas and Reindeer! Visit our December Contest and YOU could win gift cards, paperback books, and book bundles. Click here to play! 

Wishing you the best holidays ever!

Identity Crisis #amwriting #life #mgtab

close up of hand over white background

Photo by Lum3n.com on Pexels.com

 

Lately, I’ve been questioning my ability as a writer and it’s left me feeling lost and depressed.

Do you ever doubt yourself?

I think it began with the big change in our lives this summer. As many of you know, my daughter and grandson have moved over six thousand km away so she can continue with her dream to become a marine biologist.

While I’m incredibly proud of her, it’s also left a big gap in my days. I’m used to being there for my grandson, often picking him up for lacrosse or hockey or swimming practice.

He’s a key part of our lives and we are lost without him.

I’m empty inside and find it increasingly hard to put words on the page. I hope this is a short term thing, I mean it’s not like I can’t text or FaceTime him whenever I want. But, it’s not the same, either.

I’ve been working on a holiday novella for our Love, Christmas 2 collection set around the theme of our favorite holiday movies. Mine is Mistletoe Inn, taken from the Hallmark® movie, The Mistletoe Inn.

Here’s a short preview

 

For my story I’ve adapted the inn as more of a bed and breakfast with my hero as a scarred, bitter loner that the heroine, Molly McCarty, falls in love with.

 

MistletoecoverLG

 

Molly McCarty has picked up roots and traveled across the country to run a bed and breakfast with a sweet-sounding old lady. Imagine her surprise when her partner turns out to be a surly, way-to-handsome recluse. It’s too late to back out now, she’ll have to mend his lonely heart in time for the holidays.

 

I’m enjoying this heartwarming tale, but it’s also making me realize Christmas won’t be the same this year.

What do you do to get rid of the blues?

 

Don’t forget to enter our name that title contest- ending soon!

 

ONLY $0.99 for 25 BRAND NEW Stories

Never Before Published Holiday Romances

Pre Order Your Copy Today

Amazon – Nook – Kobo

The Christmas Movie (Box Collection) Contest

  1. Twenty-five winners will have their favorite movie chosen as the title. (Slight changes due to copyrights may be made.)
  2. That particular story will be dedicated to the winner.
  3. The winners will receive a free copy of the ebook or a free copy of whichever book you choose from your author’s backlist..

 

 

DEDICATED 2 Facebook(1)

Enter Here!

Jacquie Biggar

JACQUIE BIGGAR  is a USA Today bestselling author of Romantic Suspense who loves to write about tough, alpha males and strong, contemporary women willing to show their men that true power comes from love.

Jacquie lives on Vancouver Island with her husband and loves to hear from readers all over the world!

Free reads, excerpts, author news, and contests can be found on her web site:

http://jacqbiggar.com

 

Help! Please Enter My Name That Character Contest!

So there I was, sitting in front of a blank screen, the stupid big fat clock staring at me from the wall across the room. I would have been unnerved by the ticking if the clock had a ticker, but you know everything is digital these days–never mind, I digress. There I was, with the blank screen and the clock AND the DEADLINE.

Let me digress pause here to address the non-writers in the room–and I hope there are billions many of you–to let you know that the picture of the blissful artist working away in their turret spinning fancy words into mesmerizing stories is a bad joke hoax. We working stiffs authors really work at the kitchen table, the desk, the lazyboy chair, the drivers seat of the car (although we try to stop driving first), the dentist office waiting room … You get the picture.

Why? It’s the clock. And the deadline. Even if we don’t have a publisher or editor setting our deadline, we still have a deadline. Life throws them at us in the form of mortgage bills, grocery bills and the occasional prompt from a loving impatient reader.

What does any of this have to do with a Name That Character Contest you ask? Well, I don’t technically know if you’re asking, but Myren, my chauffeur, is asking and he’s the ridiculous unofficial stand-in for an below average reader for the purposes of this stupendous informative blog. I’ll tell you.

So there I was, not sitting in my turret, staring at the blank page and STUCK. Why was I stuck you ask? (Let’s not go over again how I know you’re asking.)

I was stuck because I needed a name for the bad guy and I couldn’t think of one. He was about to lower the hatchet and I had no idea what to call him.  X. That’s what I typed. Not for the first time. I was on page 152 and I had a story filled with X after X where the character’s name ought to be.

I threw down my pen closed my lap top (although this action lacks the dramatic appeal of throwing down a pen) and decided I needed to get rid of all those Xs. But how, you ask? (You’re so full of questions!)

Now backed into a corner, chased there by dozens of Xs, there was only one thing to do. Yes. I had to hold a Name That Character Contest!

(This is a true story, I swear.)

And so now, in order to get unstuck, in order to go on and complete my current work-in-progress, Beachcomber Love, I am reaching out and asking for your help, dear readers!

Enter the Stephanie Queen Name That Character Contest Here!

(Yes, there’s a prize in it for you, but I KNOW you’re really entering it to rescue me from my sticky spot.)

Here’s some details about Beachcomber Love and the character X:

BEACHCOMBER LOVE is the next novella in the Beachcomber Investigations romantic detective series. This bad guy, X, has come to town on Martha’s Vineyard from the mainland. He’s a he, a seedy low-life who mysteriously wants to extort money from the Lucky Parrot (local dive bar frequented by ex-special ops legend Dane Blaise and his partner/lover ex-Scotland Yard detective, Shana George, the hero and heroine)–and X thinks (incorrectly) that he can get away with it. Someone must have sent X to ruin Valentine’s Day. What’s his name?

Thank you so much for saving my life entering my contest to help me name X and get unstuck!

**Beachcomber Love will be released in the set A Valentine She’ll Remember, an anthology of 8 very special valentine romances, on February 1st. Look for it on Amazon for only $.99 or read the set for free on Kindle Unlimited.

Thank you for entering the contest!

Stephanie Queen

About USA Today Bestselling Author Stephanie Queen
A romantic at heart and a writer by nature, Stephanie Queen has the enthusiastic soul of a cheerleader. So of course she loves creating stories where the good guys always win. Although she’s lost count of all the jobs she had before she settled on being a Novelist, her favorite was selling cookies as a Keebler Elf. She is a graduate of UConn (go Huskies!) and Harvard U and lives in New Hampshire with her family, her cat, Kitty, and her (real or imagined?) chauffeur, Myren.

Chapter One – 2016 Love Christmas Collection – So This is Christmas – by Denise Devine #mgtab

 

So This is Christmas_Denise Devine

Chapter 1

Monday, December 10th

Winter in Minnesota didn’t rate high on my list of seasons, but I couldn’t imagine spending Christmas anywhere else. The pristine snow, the crisp, fresh air and the rainbow-colored lights decorating snow-covered roofs reminded me of a Hallmark movie. I loved shopping at the Mall of America for gifts and watching the Holidazzle electric light parade in downtown Minneapolis, but my favorite event always happened on the second weekend in December. That’s when I met up with my best friends for three days of good wine, more food than we could ever eat and lots and lots of laughter. We’d grown up in the same northeast Minneapolis neighborhood—Ellie, Jeanette, Ginny, Sarah and me—and through the years, were inseparable until our careers took us in different directions. Now that we’d hit our mid-thirties, it had become more difficult than ever to schedule a “girls only” weekend, but we’d made it a priority.

We always spent the weekend at Ellie Stone’s family cabin in Breezy Point, Minnesota. Frankly, I didn’t know why they called it a cabin. The multi-level monstrosity had six bedrooms, four baths, a den, two kitchens and two living rooms. In the lower kitchen, the Stone family cooked all their meals. The upper kitchen, the one with the beautiful view of Gull Lake, they used to stock all their booze.

I decided to drive up to Breezy Point a few days early this year. Ellie’s family had always considered me “one of the bunch” and had no problem with my coming up ahead of time. I needed to take a break from my photography business, something I hadn’t allowed myself to do for a long time. Lately, though, I’d begun to question the price of success. I had a thriving business, but the toll it placed on my life was slowly burning me out. The thought of spending four days alone in that big house with nothing to do but sip wine in front of a crackling fire would be good for me; it would also force me to give some serious thought to the dismal state of my love life.

I arrived at the house around noon. Driving up the snow-covered alley, I pulled into the back and parked in the driveway in front of the tuck-under garage. Thankfully, someone had cleared away the snow and shoveled the sidewalks. I slid out of the car and drew in a deep breath of fresh air, taking a much-needed stretch from the two-hour drive from Minneapolis. Even though the sun shone brightly in a clear blue sky, the temperature hovered around twenty degrees. Anxious to get out of the cold, I grabbed my bag and the tote containing my four-week-old kitten and bounded up the cement stairway. The Stone family always hid a spare key under the planter next to the back door. I let myself in through the screen porch to the lower level kitchen and living room.

The tote with my sleeping kitten fit on the seat of the rocking chair. The rest of my gear landed on the sofa in front of the fireplace before I dumped my coat and made my way to the bathroom. I turned on the water in the tub and stripped down to my undergarments. A nice hot bath sounded like the perfect way to kick off my vacation.

Suddenly, a loud thumping noise echoed from inside a room across the hallway. My heart slammed into overdrive as a frightening thought raced through my head.

Is there someone else in this house?

No time to get dressed—I grabbed the fuzzy robe hanging on the back of the door and wrapped it around myself then peeked through a narrow crack in the opening. I didn’t see anyone in the living room but finding the immediate area empty didn’t bolster my courage. I needed to call 9-1-1 and my phone lay tucked in my purse across the room.

Now what do I do? No way can I lock myself in here and hope the intruder just goes away.

My brilliant, lightning fast mind said, “Get the phone. Run. Now.”

Slowly, I opened the door and crept out, hoping the rushing water from the bathtub faucet made enough noise to mask my footsteps. I scurried over to my purse and snatched the phone then made a beeline back to the bathroom. Got the door open and almost made it inside when a large hand gripped my shoulder.

“A-h-h-h-h-h!” The shrill scream shot out of me so fast I hardly knew I’d opened my mouth. My body shuddered and the phone went flying as the strong hand pivoted me, bringing me face to face with my aggressor.

My breath caught in my throat as the fear gripping me transformed into jaw-clenching anger.

Christopher Stone! You scared me half to death! What are you doing sneaking around the house?”

I hadn’t spoken to him since twelfth grade, but the gap in time did nothing to cool my foaming-at-the-mouth resentment of the kid who’d spent the entirety of his youth teasing me.

Ellie’s twin brother stood before me wearing nothing but a pair of skin-tight jeans, barely zipped with the top snap gaping open. I’d seen him wearing less at the beach, but even his favorite chino shorts had never looked this good on him. Before I knew it, my gaze quickly traveled from his slim waist to the width of his broad shoulders and smooth, muscular chest. Embarrassed by my obvious curiosity, I looked away. This body did not match the scrawny kid I used to wrangle with growing up. When did all this happen? I mean, I knew most ball players worked out to gain strength and boost their power to hit a baseball for a living. I’d watched Chris on television and on the big screen at the ballpark, but I never imagined him looking this good up close…

He didn’t seem to care about his half-naked appearance as he yawned and ran a hand through his tousled dark hair. “I wasn’t sneaking around,” he said in a smooth, deep voice. “I was sleeping. You woke me up.”

I glared at him to mask the sudden flutter in my stomach. “Are you—are you alone?”

“W-h-a-a-a…of course, I’m alone.”

I stared boldly into his deep blue eyes. “What are you doing here?”

He shrugged. “What I always do when I need to get away from the crowds—I crash. What are you doing here?”

“This weekend is our annual Christmas get-together,” I said matter-of-factly and raised one brow to let him know he’d better crash somewhere else.

He frowned. “Aren’t you a little early? It’s only Monday.”

“No, I volunteered to do the housecleaning and put up the decorations so the place would look great when the girls arrive,” I said lying through my teeth. He didn’t need to know my real plans.

“Okay, great.” He sounded amused as he leaned over and picked up my phone. “I thought for a minute there you were trying to get rid of me.”

My patience wore thin. “Look, Chris, you’re going to be in the way. Don’t you have to get back to the cities to get ready for a hot date with your girlfriend or something?” Whoever she is this week…

He didn’t rise to the bait, but I noticed a muscle twitch in his cheek, as though the whole “date” situation didn’t set well with him. It didn’t surprise me considering the high-profile women he chased—Hollywood starlets, models and pop singers—Queen Bee Central. He changed girlfriends with the same frequency most men took their shirts to the laundry. Okay, that might be an exaggeration, but just the same…

“Tell you what, I’ll stay in my room while you vacuum and do whatever it is you need to do.” His eyes flashed when I shook my head. “What’s your problem?”

“It’s not what, it’s who.” I took my phone from his hand. “I’m not in the mood to spend the next four days dodging a guy who likes to play practical jokes on me. You know, like throwing water balloons, unscrewing the top off the salt and pepper shakers, flipping my glass of soda upside down on the table, hiding a whoopee cushion under a blanket on my chair,” and his crowning achievement, “putting a live snake down my shirt?”

He burst out laughing. “Are you still mad about that? I did those things when we were kids.”

The fact that he still thought them funny still made me mad and I didn’t trust him one bit. “Yes,” I said in my snippiest voice, “and I’m soooo not in the mood for any of your antics this week.”

“I’ll be good.” He held up both hands. “I won’t cause an ounce of trouble. I promise.” His gaze suddenly dropped to the front of my body and his eyes widened. “Uh, but I can’t say the same for you.”

I looked down and found my robe gaping open, my pink with black polka dot Victoria’s Secret undies in full view. “A-h-h-h-h-h!” My scream this time had more to do with frustration than fright. I jerked my robe shut and stormed into the bathroom, determined not to give my childhood nemesis the satisfaction of seeing my face turn crimson like he had so often in the past.

His triumphant laughter propelled me all the way.

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Denise Devine

Denise Devine is a USA TODAY bestselling author who writes sweet romantic comedy and inspirational romance. She is currently writing two series, Forever Yours (Inspirational) and Counting Your Blessings (Christmas romantic comedy). You can visit her at www.deniseannettedevine.com.