Animation by Kayelle Allen at The Author's Secret

Monday, December 24, 2012

Hope You Get the Christmas You Ordered!

It looks like Christmas will be wet rather than white, cool rather than chilly, 
But that's the way the weather chose it

We hope ours will be cosy rather than crazy, cheery instead of dreary and filled with gladness rather than sadness
Because that's the way we chose it.

I hope your Christmas is tailor-made to suit all your wishes and that 2013 will answer all your hopes and dreams.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Bad British Humour? In Loving Hate by Lynette Sofras

Picture this: an attractive and rather vulnerable young woman has left her selfish husband, turned her back on her cruel and unhappy marriage and embarked on a long and solitary journey across part of Europe to return to her family home.  That's a home to which she has no idea whether or not she will be welcome, incidentally, but that's an ordeal for the future. 

Instead of hopping on a plane and getting the ordeal over with in three or four hours, Lyssa has boldly chosen to drive herself from Greece via Italy, Switzerland, France and across TheChannel into England.  The first leg of her journey entails a slow ferry crossing from Patras in Greece to Ancona in Italy.  These two day ferry crossings are only made tolerable if one travels first class and Lyssa feels she owes herself that little luxury. 

On the ferry boat she meets a good-looking stranger, an English surgeon, who is very plainly attracted to her.  He makes an easy and pleasant travelling companion - a great listener - and Lyssa finds herself pouring out her sad history to his interested ears.  When he hears she will need to find work back in London, he offers her a job as his secretary - an impulsive act of kindness but not taken very seriously by either of them.  Nevertheless, there is definite chemistry between them and David makes the inevitable move on her.  He offers her a fling, therapeutic sex if you wish, and could anyone really blame Lyssa if she accepted?  She doesn't, of course, because David is married and makes no attempt to hide that fact (when he could very easily do so).  Here's a snippet of the conversation between them the following day before they part and go their separate ways:

“Meet me in Milan,” he said suddenly.
She looked into his face quickly. “You do believe in living dangerously, don’t you?”  She remembered he would be meeting his wife in Milan.
“For lunch,” he argued.  “To discuss the job.”
“And then what?”
He gave her a mischievous grin.  “References, perhaps?”
Lyssa’s gaze wandered abstractedly around the lounge where small groups of people gathered together, anxiously checking passports and hand-luggage as the boat lumbered inexorably northward.
“How many times have you cheated on your wife?”  Try as she might, she could not expel the natural tremor from her voice.
“Thirty six,” he answered immediately, looking pained.  “Give or take a few dozen.  I can assure you I don’t make a habit of this.  I’m not exactly collecting material for a clinical trial.”

Now it was never my intention to suggest that David had seriously had thirty six affairs!  His immediate answer and pained expression should have indicated that his answer was ironic.  He's impatient at her question and is beginning to feel a sense of urgency about whether he'll see her again. The almost unreal two-day interlude on the boat has led them to forge a bond that neither of them quite understands, and which both feel a certain reluctance to end completely.  

However, several readers so far have failed to understand the joke and were shocked by David's flippant answer, not realising he had simply plucked a number from the top of his head as a sarcastic response to a silly question. The disservice to my character was my fault, not his.  I didn't intend to suggest that David was an outrageous womaniser!

Of course he shouldn't be contemplating cheating on his wife in the first place, but no man is perfect when faced with a pretty and available woman and, if the opportunity arises, what red-blooded man won't attempt to seize it?  Come to that, what red-blooded woman might not also at least consider it?

What does concern me, however, is that British humour doesn't always translate well and that my characters suffer bad press as a result.  We Brits so often base our humour on irony or sarcasm  that it's second nature to us.  It's all too easy to forget that the rest of the world may take our words literally and naturally misinterpret our intention.  

So, apologies to my readers and to any of my characters who've been affected by bad British humour that has failed to translate.  There is a helpline available at the end of this blog...oops, sorry!  Will try harder in future to tone it down or make it clearer! 

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Three Christmas Writers and an Extra Special Gift for You - Final Part

With my first Christmas party of the season in full swing, I was enjoying myself immensely getting to know my three special guests, Debra Holland, Marie Higgins and Elizabeth Ayers a little better.  Now, whilst I was having fun spending time with them, it occurred to me that they might have different ideas about the perfect party guests so I asked them, out of all their characters, who they'd most like to spend Christmas with and why. 

Elizabeth pondered for a while before answering: "Tate and Ari from A Challenge, because they are so grounded. I'm sure their house is beautifully decorated, the food will be outstanding, but most of all, I know if I were there, I'd get to see everyone from River City."  Sounds like an excellent reason to me, but then I am the world's most disorganised person!

Marie answered immediately, but then seemed as if she would change her mind: "Oh, hands down…it would have to be my characters in Charmed By Knight.  They are so cute together, and funny! And nothing ever goes the way they want it.  Then again…I really like my spunky, charming characters in Falling In Love Again, too. AUGH!  Decisions, decisions… Can’t I just spend Christmas with them all?"  I have to sympathise with her because they all sound like they know how to celebrate Christmas and they're the best sort of people to party with.

Debra had no hesitation either in her choice. "I'm going to have to say Nick and Elizabeth from Wild Montana Sky because they were my first. It's because of them that I'm a writer and my life is what it's like today. I wish I could hug them and say thank you, you're given me so much!"  Isn't that wonderful reasoning?  And, of course, if their author wants to spend time with them, surely we readers will too?

I was a bit surprised Debra hadn't chosen Marta Heisman, the little German girl from A Christmas Pageant to share her Christmas because, as she explained:  "I put both my grandmother and my mother into her character. My grandmother was sent to boarding school when she was nine and she was so lonesome and homesick., that years later she could talk of that time in her life and still convey her emotions. My mother went to first grade not knowing English because her parents only spoke German at home. That was a difficult experience for her, and she made sure it didn't happen to her younger siblings." 

Debra's grandmother was clearly a powerful influence in her life:  "My grandmother, the matriarch of the family, is the one who really solidified having special Christmas Eves. When my mom was growing up, they were poor immigrants, but my grandmother made the holiday special. She and my grandfather were very creative. She could knit and sew, and my grandfather could make furniture. So the dolls would always have new outfits, and my mother and aunt had new clothes. The clothes, even if made from feedsacks, had embroidered yokes and handmade lace. There was new doll furniture and a big doll house that always needed new decorations. And most of all, there was love. My beloved grandmother been gone ten years, but her presence is still strongly felt."  What a warm and beautiful Christmas story, Debra and it really does capture the spirit of Christmas.  As, of course, do Debra's Montana Sky Christmas stories, so let's find out a bit more about those now.

About Montana Sky Christmas

The stories in Montana Sky Christmas are about various kinds of Christmas love--the romance between a man and a woman, the devotion of a husband to his wife's memory, or the love of a child for her goose.  

Debra has very kindly released a coupon for you to claim this book FREE from Smashwords: - Use coupon code RU39G at the checkout.

Here is an excerpt from Irish Luck, from Montana Sky Christmas

            Sally O’Donnell finished off the end of the scarf, cut the yarn, and stuck her two knitting needles into the ball before setting them into an Indian basket at her feet. She gave the knitted weave an anxious glance. Is it good enough? “That’s the last one, Ma,” she said to her mother, who sat in a nearby chair, darning a stocking.
            The O’Donnell family had finished supper, and Sally and her parents had gathered in chairs around the stone fireplace. Three kerosene lamps burned in the room, giving flickering light that combined with the fire to push back the darkness. One glass lamp perched next to a pile of stockings on the little table between Sally and her mother. Her father mended a plowing harness by the light of another lantern hanging from a bracket on the wall, and the third glowed between her ten-year-old twin sisters, studying at the table. Across from them, her fourteen-year-old brother, Charlie, bent over his slate with a piece of chalk in his hand, scratching out the answers to arithmetic questions.
            Sally held up the scarf of undyed wool for her mother’s approval. “That’s number twelve.”
            Her mother reached over and fingered the weave of the scarf. “Well done, my dear.” She gave Sally an approving smile. “That will keep someone nice and warm.” She slipped the wooden darning egg out of a stocking she’d mended, and placed it on the table beside her.
            “I’ve enough of them now, Ma. Can I bring the scarves to town tomorrow?”
            Mrs. O’Donnell glanced at her husband for his opinion.
            Her father laid down the harness and gazed at Sally, concern in his eyes. The lines around his mouth deepened. “I do na like the idea of ye going into town in the winter,” he said in his Irish brogue. “It’s a two-hour ride, Sally. What if a storm blows up?”
            “I’ll take shelter in town. You know the Nortons will let me stay with them. Please, Da. There’s only three days until…” With a tilt of her head, she glanced at the younger children, not wanting to say more. But her parents were in on her secret plan to provide a special Christmas for her siblings.
            Her parents exchanged glances.
            Ma selected a new stocking, slipped the wooden egg inside, and turned it over to expose the hole in the heel. “Let the girl go, Rory.” She began to darn.
            Her father stared into the fire, mulling over the idea.
Sally was wise enough to let him be. He’d come to a conclusion, and that would be that. There’d be no hurrying him, no matter how she begged. But she studied his face to see if she could glean his thoughts.
The minutes passed. Although her mother placidly continued her handwork, she kept giving her husband quick glances. The firelight glinted off her auburn hair, and when she gave Sally a reassuring smile, she looked too young to have a grown-up daughter.
            Not for the first time, Sally wished she’d inherited her mother’s beautiful hair color. All the O’Donnell children had their Da’s dark hair and navy-blue eyes, but luckily for them, not his angled features. They each had their mother’s oval face and refined nose.
            At eighteen, Sally was old enough to recall the holidays when they lived in Virginia, and the whole family gathered at her grandparents’ home. She remembered the rambunctious games with her cousins, as well as the food, the candy, the stockings filled with nuts, rare oranges, coins, and small presents, and most of all, the decorated Christmas tree with the presents underneath.
            But since the O’Donnells had traveled to Montana to homestead their own land, life had been hard and money scarce. At the most, Christmas meant Ma baking a cake or a pie and knitting new stockings or mittens or a cap, a reading of the Biblical story about the birth of Jesus, and singing carols after dinner. A special day. One they all looked forward to. But the meager festivities didn’t match Sally’s memories.
Sally wanted her sisters and brother to have the lavish Christmases she’d experienced in Virginia, or at least as much as possible, given the family’s limited means. This year, her parents had agreed.
            Da was going to cut down a tree. Ma had saved sugar and white flour for a treat, although she wouldn’t tell Sally what she was going to make, saying that something needed to be a surprise for her. But there still wasn’t money for presents beyond the wool stockings Ma knitted after the children had gone to bed.
            So Sally had come up with a plan to take her scarves to the mercantile and trade them for candy, nuts, and three oranges. Maybe if she possessed some Irish luck, there’d be enough for some fine cotton to make handkerchiefs for her mother and father. They’d be so surprised. She could barely sit still in her seat just thinking about how wonderful Christmas would be this year.
            Finally, her father spoke up. “We’ll see the weather in the morning, mavoreen. If the sky is clear, ye can go.”
            “Oh, thank you, Da.” She clasped the scarf she was holding to her chest. “Thank you!”
            He held up an admonishing finger. “Ye just be careful.”
            “I will, Da. You know I will.”
            “That I do, daughter. Ye are a good, dependable girl. And proud I am that ye are doing this--“ he glanced at the children engrossed in their work “--when you could be using the money for yourself. I know you need a new dress.”
            “That doesn’t matter, Da. This one’s fine. It’s not as if I go anywhere, anyway.”
            Just saying the words made Sally remember her occasional restlessness, an odd longing that came sometimes despite the closeness of her family. Like usual, she dismissed the feeling.
            Da sighed. “I know. And that’s na right either. Ye are almost nineteen now. Maybe this summer we’ll try harder to get to town for church and such. See if ye find a man you fancy.”
            “I don’t need a husband, Da.” Sally looked around the room and smiled. “I have everyone I love right here.”

Famous last words, eh?  I'd take bets that the famous luck of the Irish will be doing jigs around Sally and A. N. Other this Christmas.  
Montana Sky Christmas is also available from: Amazon and Barnes and Noble

USA Today Bestselling author, Debra Holland is a three-time Romance Writers of America Golden Heart finalist and one time winner. She’s the author of The Montana Sky Series, sweet, historical Western romance, and The Gods’ Dream Trilogy, fantasy romance. Montana Sky Christmas is her latest self-published book.
Debra has written a nonfiction book, The Essential Guide to Grief and Grieving from Alpha Books (a subsidiary of Penguin). She has a free ebooklet available on her website, 58 Tips for Getting What You Want From a Difficult Conversation.

Who interests you more - your heroes or your heroines?  It depends on the book. Sometimes one or the other will catch my attention more, and their character is easier to write. Anthony "Ant" Gordon in Stormy Montana Sky was like that.
E-books or print?  I like both, although the convenience of my Kindle is great!
Dogs or cats?  Both again. I have one dog, a sheltie, and two cats.
Sunshine or snow?  Sunshine. I'm a Southern California girl, and I like the pool and the beach and working out in the park with my women's fitness bootcamp.
Christmas or Thanksgiving?  Christmas. I still love giving and receiving presents!
Favourite party drink?  I don't much like alcohol, so I usually stick to water with a lemon in it. Or I might have a glass of white wine if I'm not driving. On Christmas mornings we have mimosas. Probably one of the reasons we need naps later.

Thank you Debra!

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Three Christmas Writers and a Party Gift for You - The Party Continues

'Tis the season…♫♪ and all that.  I love Christmas, don't you?  I'm especially loving it this year because I have several parties organised and some great guests to mingle with and chat to.  Take my three lovely writers, Marie Higgins, Debra Holland and Elizabeth Ayers, for example.  They're very different people but they have one thing in common - they all have really great stories out for you to enjoy this Christmas.  Marie's story is called Dreaming of You and we're going to find out a bit more about it shortly. 

Before that, however, I have my own little Christmas gift for you - a free copy of my Christmas fairy tale, Wishful Thinking. To claim this, just go to and enter coupon code: LU54Y at the checkout.  Hurry though; it's only valid for a week.  I hope you enjoy it!

Marie Higgins
Now to my lovely writers, I was curious to know how my guest authors felt they had best encapsulated the spirit of Christmas in any one of their novels.  This was especially difficult for Marie with over twenty to choose from but she felt that Love Me Always came closest because "Christmas means having a loving heart and the kindness to give without expecting to receive.  Nicholas Fielding is my hero, and to make his dying uncle happy, he goes along with his uncle’s last wish—to marry. Unfortunately, the woman Nick’s uncle has chosen to marry is the woman Nick gave his heart to years ago. It breaks him to see his uncle planning to marry Catherine, but Nick wants to make his uncle happy and so gives up his happiness and hopes for the future."  Sounds like I'll need a full box of Kleenex to go with that one!

Dr Debra Holland
When I asked Debra, she chose A Christmas Pageant, from the Christmas book "because the whole town comes together to celebrate the holiday. I have a little German girl who is homesick and doesn't speak English, yet she sings Silent Night in German during the Christmas pageant and brings everyone to tears."  Another tear-jerker for sure!  On a more practical note though, Debra wouldn't need to play Santa to any of her heroes or heroines because each one receives a special gift that leaves them wanting nothing.  Except sidewalks, that is!  Laughing at our puzzled faces, she explained: "The town [Montana] could use sidewalks [it's 1894], and characters often complain about not having them. Maybe I'll write a story and give them sidewalks for Christmas."  Well that beats socks and scarves any day, Debra!

Elizabeth Ayers
Elizabeth chose A Snowy Christmas in Wyoming, explaining "Andy couldn't afford much, so he made his little daughter a set of blocks that he'd cut from scrap wood and sanded smooth. He gave her a little part of him, and it was filled with love."  How sweet!  She also said if she could give a special Christmas gift to one of her characters it would be an e-reader for Andy, "because of the audio capabilities. He's terribly dyslexic, and he'd be thrilled to be able to enjoy a book."  Now I would say Elizabeth has a bit of a soft spot for her hero - and who can blame her - I confess I fell a little bit in love with him myself when I read this great book.

Time to find out a bit more about Marie's lovely Christmas book, so here's an excerpt:

Katelyn Palmer never believed any harm could come from using her college crush as the hero in her first romance novel—the novel that jumpstarted her writing career. However, when Shane Hunter storms into town, demanding to meet the writer who used his identity Katelyn is confronted with more than her long, silent emotions. If Shane takes her to court for invasion of privacy, her career would be over.
Here's an Excerpt from Dreaming of You
Katelyn took a step toward a booth when a familiar face caught her attention. She took a double take at the patron sitting closest to the aisle. He had his eyes turned toward her, and she came to a stop. When recognition struck, she gasped.

What is he doing here?

Of all the days she chose not to apply make-up or style her hair, why did she have to run into Shane Hunter—the man of her dreams?

More specifically, the dreams she’d had seven years ago.

She gawked at him, knowing a dog on a hot day would probably drool less than she was, but she couldn’t bring herself to look away. Shane Hunter—in the flesh—sat in the booth with his gaze directly on her.

He hadn’t changed that much from when she knew him in college. Still gorgeous as ever, his dark brown hair was slightly longer than she remembered and waved gently against his neck. Much broader shoulders filled his blue cotton shirt perfectly, and just as before, his brown eyes made her heart flutter.

The last Katelyn had heard he was out of the state expanding his very successful lumber business. So what was he doing in this small hometown diner when his wealth could have him sitting at home eating breakfast in bed while a servant catered to his every whim?

Did he recognize her? Probably not. She hadn’t been popular on campus, except maybe in the library. Guys back then didn’t notice the girl with thick glasses and freckles, and who always wore their hair wound up in a tight bun that nearly had her eyes popping out of her head.

Moisture coated her palms, and she fisted her hands. He must think her crazy for gawking the way she did, but heaven help her, she couldn’t look away.

Seven years ago, she’d fallen hard for his knee-buckling grin and sparkling charisma. Being shy in college, there wasn’t anything she could do about her secret crush. Before graduation, he left town and within a few years had become successful.

Shane’s eyebrows lifted as his gaze slid over her gray sweats down to her worn athletic white shoes with old grass stains on the toes. When his focus met hers again, a different look accompanied his expression. Did he recognize her?

Holding her breath, she waited for him to say something. She prayed he didn’t know what she’d done. He couldn’t possibly know, could he?

Katelyn swallowed hard, wondering why he still stared at her. From the gossip circles, she’d heard he was now divorced. Her heart hammered quicker.

Finally, he gave her a friendly smile, breaking their staring competition. She wanted to sigh dreamily, but refrained. Her knees threatened to give way and let gravity bring her down.

“Hello,” he said in a deep voice.

Inwardly, she quivered. That reaction hadn’t changed since college, either. Silently, she scolded herself. Why was she acting like a love-struck teenager? Not only did he have a new life, so did she. After he’d left California to start his family, she had reached her goal of becoming a romance writer. He’d helped her whether he knew it or not.

Now there's a heroine we can empathise with in more ways than one!

More About Marie Higgins

Marie Higgins is a multi-published author of romance; from refined bad-boy heroes who makes your heart melt to the feisty heroines who somehow manage to love them regardless of their faults. Visit her website / blog to discover more about her –

Buy Links:
Print $10.79 –


Who interests you more - your heroes or your heroines? Heroes!
E-books or print? Print
Dogs or cats? Definitely dogs!
Sunshine or snow? Snow!
Christmas or Thanksgiving? Hands down – Christmas!
Favourite party drink? I don’t drink…so I’ll say Coke.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Wednesday's Writer - Jesse Kimmel-Freeman

Camera shy?  Jesse Kimmel-Freeman

I'm truly delighted to feature the fascinating Jesse Kimmel-Freeman as my Wednesday's Writer.  We're  both celebrating our first year as a published author, so naturally I'm interested in finding out more about her journey.  Oh, and I'll be on her blog tomorrow (Thursday), so I hope you'll follow me over there:  Now, enough from me - let me hand you straight over to Jesse.  Welcome, Jesse.

First, I’d like to thank Lynette for being a wonderful hostess to me. Thank you! :0) So I figured I’d talk about what a year has done for me. I just passed my one year anniversary of publishing my first book- ever, not just as an Indie author. I’m not a millionaire, yet- I don’t sell thousands of books either. But, this is all a learning experience for each of us. We discover our weaknesses and strengths as we go. I’ve learned that the best promotion you can do is a new release. Blog hops are a good way to get people to at least stop by and look at your ramblings. An important things is to never compare yourself to someone else. Everyone writes different- even in the same genre. Also you don’t want to give up.

There are times when we all feel like we should just throw in the towel- ignore that. Just keep pushing through. The path is long and hard, but you have to remember that this isn’t just for the right now. In five years, the world may be entirely different. Well, not entirely, people will always want the written word.

In this coming year, I’m going to try and work on my time management- I’ve got two little ones and time management goes crazy most days! I think this is something a lot of writers struggle with- the balance between life and work. I’m hoping to get several releases this coming year too. Plus, I launched my own small press- so far we have 3 authors and several books that should be released in the months to come! Super exciting. We’re still looking for submissions too, *hint, hint*

Again, a big thank you to Lynette for hosting me! Check out the blurb for the book that started everything, Bella Notte.

Bella Notte Blurb:

Vampires? Check. Werewolves? Check. Death prophecy to hang over your head? Double check. Seventeen year old Emma Hutchinson struggles to find her place in the world she has been born to as she tries to decide whether she should be with Michael, the boy she has been dreaming about since she was three or if she belongs with Dominic, her betrothed.

You can get it at:

More about Jesse Kimmel-Freeman:

Jesse now lives in a small town in the middle of nowhere. She moved from the chaos of Los Angeles. Yes, she misses it. It is not uncommon for her to be asked why she moved from such a busy place to the one horse town- the answer is simply to allow her kids to grow up with their grandparents.

Jesse has studied anthropology and used her “education” as an excuse to hang out with vampires- her masters' thesis was going to be modern vampire culture. They really do exist. Vampires have been her obsession since she was about five years old when she swears she was bitten by one.

She enjoys reading and writing. But most importantly being a crazy mom to her son, new daughter, and ever growing pet family. Singing silly songs at the top of her lungs and embarrassing her son is one of her favorite activities. She considers herself to be an odd duck.

Friend her on Facebook.
Like her author page on Facebook.
Follow her on Twitter.
Check out some starter chapters that she wrote for Chainbook, maybe add a new chapter to one of them.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Three Christmas Writers and a Lovely Gift for You

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas… at least, it is in my house.  To put me in the mood I've thrown the first of several parties of the season and from my mile-long list of awesome peeps, I've managed to round up three star guests and lure them to a quiet corner away from the noisy festivities for a little chat.  The cat graciously made space for us (even though two of these ladies secretly admitted to preferring dogs, which didn't impress Miss Cat too much, but never mind - a little bit of smoked salmon and she's anybody's).  Anyway, let me introduce them.  They're three top writers whose wonderful Christmas romances are warming hearts on both sides of the pond this season: Elizabeth Ayers, Marie Higgins and Debra Holland.

So, champagne glasses filled (well Elizabeth's and mine, anyway - Debra sipped her lemonade while Marie nursed a Coke); and Christmas music crooning out from the sound system, we naturally started reminiscing about childhood Christmases and early memories.  Debra made us all smile with her amusing story of Santa visiting her house when she was five.  Reluctant to let him leave, she ran outside with her cousin and younger brother to wave him off in his sleigh, "But all we saw was a car driving away.  Our parents said we hadn't been fast enough to see the sleigh."  Awww!  Or maybe Rudolph just had the night off?  Elizabeth's first Christmas memory was seeing the magic of the Christmas tree, the lights, "They were big bulbs, but they had these tin reflectors on them (which, thinking back on it, kept the needles from touching hot bulbs).  And it was covered in silvery tinsel."  It's not difficult to imagine a three year old's fascination at the sight.  Marie, on the other hand, touched our hearts with her story of how her family gave away Christmas.  Yes, you heard right!

"My aunt and her family did not have any money to buy their three boys a Christmas," Marie told us. "So my parents talked to me and my older brother and younger sister, and we decided to give our Christmas to our cousins who were much younger than we were."  Marie, the middle child of three, couldn't have been more than eight so this was a huge sacrifice for her and her siblings.  Resigned to nothing but clothes for Christmas, imagine their astonishment on Christmas morning when they found presents for all stacked under the tree.   "Apparently, one of my mother’s cousins heard what we were doing, and so she bought us our Christmas."  What a magical Christmas story.

From Christmases past to Christmas present, Debra told us how, being part-German, Christmas Eve holds particular significance for her.  Her huge extended family (on her mother's side) always gathers together then and Christmas begins in earnest. "We eat, talk, sing Christmas Carols, and open presents." And the festivities continue throughout the next day.  Sounds wonderful.  Marie listened to this looking rather wistful.  Her family has not had an easy time lately and what would make her Christmas would be a turnaround for her husband and daughters.  I hope so too, Marie.  For Elizabeth also, family is all.  Her best Christmas ever was the first she spent with her husband (more about her romantic past later!)  Elizabeth long ago realised that the perfect Christmas was more a state of mind, than about material possessions "I could squeeze out a batch of my family's traditional cookies and my husband's traditional French Canadian meat pie - well, it was Christmas and we were a family".

Over the next couple of blog posts, I'm going to reveal a bit more about each of my special guests and share excerpts from their wonderful Christmas stories.  Today I'm starting with Elizabeth, whose story, A Snowy Christmas in Wyoming, I'm currently reading and loving - and this can also be yours, because Elizabeth is offering this as a FREE Christmas download from Smashwords just for you lovely readers.  Simply visit and at the checkout use the coupon code: ZL82A and the book is yours!  It's also available from Amazon for only 99 cents).  Happy Christmas reading.

A Snowy Christmas in Wyoming

Is love preordained? An old diary from when Jessie and Clare Coleman settled on the land in the 1840's provides a history of their life. But tucked between the pages is an unrequited love between Clare Coleman and a tall Native American. Does love and land come full circle? In this season of giving, will fate reach through time to give a gift of love?

Intrigued?  Well here's an excerpt from this wonderful story:

Caroline Coleman hadn't seen the place look this good since she was a teen. The flowerbeds were mulched and tidy. There was a new coat of green paint on the shutters and front door. Garlands of fresh pine wrapped the porch rails that encircled the log house, and a pretty, matching, pine wreath hung on the front door.
She knocked once and opened the door. "Grandmamma. It's me! I'm home."
"Thank goodness, you're here," a voice from a distant room called back. "I was worried about you coming in with this snowstorm on its way."
The stress of her journey slipped from her shoulders as she breathed in the familiar scent of home. Caroline let go of her rolling suitcase and looked around. Inside, everything looked the same, even though it was decorated for the holiday. A beautiful Douglas fir tree, covered with ornaments, stood in front of the window. Its tiny lights twinkled as if they were welcoming her.
The house was neater, cleaner, except there was a basket of toys next to the sofa. But everything else was exactly the way it had been all of her life. That familiarity wrapped her in a warm blanket.
"Darling, I'm so glad you're here. You're needed. This storm is going to be bad," Barbara Coleman said.
Caroline turned to her grandmother. The woman was holding a toddler whose eyes were filled with tears.
"What are you doing? Babysitting?" She hugged her grandmother and offered to take the child, but the child clung to the older woman.
"I guess you could call it babysitting. I'm trading, and I got the best end of this bargain. This is Sarah Anne Coyote. Isn't she a cutie?" Barbara took the child to a highchair in the kitchen. "Coffee?"
"Thanks. I'll get it. How did you wind up with a child?"
"Long story. You remember Margaret Simpson?" The older woman started fixing a snack.
"Double T ranch, of course."
"Her kids are selling everything since she died. Remember when I told you I was buying some of her land?" She put a handful of baby carrots on a plate, and stuck them in the microwave.
"Yes." Caroline poured a cup of coffee, then watched her grandmother fix a cup of milk with a sipping lid, and hand it to the toddler.
The child's enormous chocolate brown eyes were still washed in unshed tears and her long eyelashes were clumped with moisture. Chubby hands grabbed at the handles on the sippy-cup and tipped the cup of milk to her mouth. She watched Caroline with a reserved curiosity.
"Are you thirsty? Did you just wake up from a nap?" Caroline asked the child.
Little Sarah pursed her lips and banged on the tray in front of her. "Milk."
"How old is she? She's adorable. She's got the prettiest eyes."
"Thirteen months. She's a little handful. She's really coming out of her shell since she's been here." Barbara put several crackers spread with cheese on the child's tray. "Eat, sweet baby. You like creamed cheese." The microwave beeped and Barbara lifted the plate of baby carrots off the unit's carousel and put them on the child's tray after checking each one. "She's such a good thing. Just never thought I'd be playing with a baby at my age."
"Why did you nuke her carrots?"
"It slightly softens them. Makes them easier to eat. She doesn't have all her teeth."
"Grandmamma, you still haven't told me how you've wound up with a child."
"Well, I'm buying the eastern portion of Margaret's land, which includes her house and barn because it backs up to mine."
"Nice house."
"Yes, it is. I'm hoping to rent it. The one barn is in perfect shape, but the other barn has some problems and that's going to take more money."
Caroline rolled her eyes. Sarah giggled.
"Anyway, when Margaret died, her foreman lost his job."
"Oh, no. Sarah is one of those Coyotes?"
The back door opened and Andy Coyote walked into the kitchen. "Miz Barbara…"
Caroline stared at Andy. He wasn't the scrawny kid she'd known most of her life, and if it hadn't been for the scar across his cheek, she wouldn't have recognized him. His shoulders were broad and he'd grown very tall. The long straight nose, strong cheekbones, and his coloring conveyed his Crow Indian heritage, except he was taller than most.
"Excuse me, I didn't know you had company." He took his jacket off and hung it on the peg by the back door.
"Company? I doubt that anyone would call me company," Caroline shot back at him. She couldn't remember the last time she'd seen him, maybe high school.
He looked at her for a brief second, then grabbed a mug, and poured a cup of coffee.
"Caroline, you remember Andy?" Barbara asked.
"How could I not remember Andy?" Memories of the young man and his family flowed through her brain like a bad news story.
Sarah squealed with delight as Andy took her in his arms. "How's my baby girl?"
The child pointed to Caroline.
"Yes, that's Caroline," Andy said with a big grin. "Have you been playing with her? I thought you just got up from your nap."
"She did just get up from her nap as Caroline came through the door. I brought her in here for her snack. She hasn't had a chance to play."
He pulled his mobile phone from his pocket and looked at it. "We're in trouble."
"What kind of trouble?" Barbara asked as she cleaned up the crumbs off the child's tray and handed the toddler the last tiny carrot. "Are you talking about the storm?"
Andy turned on the TV and watched the weather channel. "I've been watching the storm track on my phone. I'm gonna need help getting that herd down here. I can't do it alone. If I can find help, I'll leave tonight. That is if you don't mind keeping Sarah for me."
Barbara turned to her granddaughter. "Caroline'll go with you."
Andy turned around and stared hard. "You? You think you can ride herd?"
"Darn right, I can ride. Won't be the first herd I've ever brought in, but I…" She bit her tongue.
"But what?"
She forced a smile. "Let's just say I always ride with a gun, and I know how to use it."
"Good. So do I. We'll leave at six. Make sure you're saddled and ready to go."
Hot anger boiled through Caroline. "I'll be ready."
She stormed out of the kitchen, grabbed her suitcase, and headed for her room.

More about the author:
Born and raised with wealth, E. Ayers turned her back on all of it and married her prince charming a few days after her eighteenth birthday. Her family disowned her, and her friends were shocked. A firm believer in love conquering everything, she never looked back. The love she and her husband shared became the springboard for her novels.
Fascinated with the way people deal with everyday problems, E Ayers has always been an observer and a listener. A simple problem for one person is a mountain for another. She utilizes those common predicaments, which is why her books touch so many lives.
Today, she spends most of her free time writing while living in a pre-Civil War home with her two dogs and a cat. Rattling around in an old money pit gives her muse plenty of freedom. Her idea of a perfect day is to spend it at the keyboard of her computer, coffee in hand, and everything in the house actually working as it should. She's the official matchmaker for all the characters who wander through her brain, and she likes finding just the right ones to create a story.
She adores hearing from her fans and can be found on Facebook, Twitter, and at her website.

Who interests you more - your heroes or your heroines? Both
E-books or print? E-books
Dogs or cats? Dogs
Sunshine or snow? Snow!
Christmas or Thanksgiving? Christmas
Favourite party drink? Spiked Eggnog! LOL

@ayersbooks  (Twitter)

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Wednesday's Writer - Nikki Lynn Barrett

One of the things I love to do to put me in the mood for Christmas is watch those colourful, sentimental films on TV (so what if they're mainly aimed at kids - aren't we all children at Christmas?) or curl up on the sofa in front of a blazing log fire, with the Christmas tree all lit up and read a heart-warming Christmas story.  Well, today's author has offered me exactly that and it's a story with great visual appeal that plays out in your head like a film as you read.  So I want to thank Nikki Lynn Barrett for putting me in the Christmas mood a little early and hand over to her so she can tell us all about herself and her magical new story.

About Nikki Lynn Barrett 

Hi! Thank you SO much for having me here today! I appreciate it.  My name is Nikki Lynn Barrett, and I'm an author. Wow, doesn't that sound a little too much like I'm at some kind of 'aholic' meeting? Well, maybe I am.....Though really, there's nothing wrong with being a write-aholic, is there?

I hope there's no blank empty stares to that as I continue on...

 Anyhow! Back to the subject at hand...which is apparently me! I live in Arizona with my husband and son, and I hate temperatures over 80 degrees. Yeah. I know. Wrong state then. But my hubby loves it here, so I'll just write myself a cool vacation paradise.   I just published my first book, The Secret Santa Wishing Well.  I've always been a writer. I penned my first 80 page book by the 5th grade, all hand written (horribly, mind you) in one of those spiral notebooks.  That's enough about me, though, how about I introduce you to my story?

The blurb:
    The magic of Christmas has been lost to Jacob Winston. At the suggestion of his ill sister, Jacob takes a job as a Secret Santa at the mall, hoping to restore his Christmas spirit. Even that doesn't seem to work, until a special little boy ambles up to make a very special wish...

Cheyenne Jensen is struggling to raise her two kids without the help of her ex-husband who refuses to acknowledge his daughter's existence and doesn't provide for the son he does. This Christmas is shaping up to be as heartbreaking as the last until her son, Ben's kind actions lead a stranger to them.

Ah, but it's Christmas time and the magic has begun.

When Jacob and Cheyenne meet, neither can deny their immediate attraction to one another. As situations arise that require they spend more time together, their feelings grow stronger and stronger.

With Christmas fast approaching, the pair learn what matters most in life. Now, if only they could ditch the ghost of Christmases past.  

Maybe this holiday will bring some wishes come true- for everyone after all.

  And here's an excerpt from The Secret Santa Wishing Well

“I'm sorry, Mommy.  I won't run off again.  I promise.”     
The sad face had to go.  Cheyenne grabbed the front of Ben’s pajama top and pulled him so he fell on the couch beside her.  Then she pounced.  “You promise?  You promise?”  She tickled him until his blue eyes shined and he called out between the bouts of giggles. 
  “Yes!  Yes!  I promise!"
Laughing, she said, “That’s what I thought.”  Cheyenne tugged him onto her lap and squeezed.  “I love you, Benjamin William Jenson, and don’t you ever forget it.  Now, how about a small cup of hot chocolate before bed and you can tell me all about this wish, okay?”  She only hoped she’d be able to afford whatever it was he wished for.  God knew her little man deserved at least one special present this year.
Hot on her heels, Ben said, “I can’t tell.  It was Santa’s secret wishing well."
“Secret, huh?”  That wasn’t going to help her find out what Ben wanted, Cheyenne thought.  Vaguely, if she remembered right, last year the mall’s setup around Santa also included a large Christmas tree with tags on it for those families who needed help.
“Mommy, can we go back?”
She turned from the cupboard.  “Why?”
“Mister Helper, cause he isn’t the real Santa, he said it couldn’t hurt.  He said I could wish again.  He gave me a penny to throw in the water.  He said sometimes that’s all we have.”
Maybe she'd go to the mall on her next day off.  If the same man was even there.
For the next half hour, while they drank their cocoa, she tried to make sense of what Ben had said.  All he kept talking about were wishes and Santa's helper.  Cheyenne was glad for the kind man.  Grateful in fact that he’d kept her son safe.  But her bed was calling.  It had been a long day.  “All done?”
She tucked Ben under the covers and kissed his forehead.  He hugged his teddy bear and said, “So, can we go back, pretty please?"
“I don’t know, Ben.  We have so much to do tomorrow."
Before she could walk away, Ben grabbed her hand.  “Mommy, it's important.”  At the door, as she turned off the light, Cheyenne made a wish of her own.
I wish for a meaningful Christmas this year for Ben and Desiree.
One far better than she believed it would be.

Well this sounds like a lovely story, Nikki, and it's going straight onto my Kindle for my Christmas reading line-up.  I have a feeling I'll need a box of Kleenex handy!

If you want to download this story, just click on one of the following links:

(Kobo, print, and other ebook retailers coming soon)

Find out more about Nikki Lynn Barrett at the following: