Thursday, December 30, 2010

Carolyne Aarsen's - The Baby Promise

In a couple of days I have a new book coming out, The Baby Promise. This book is a story about a promise made to a dying soldier by his fellow soldier and the consequences of that action. There are secrets and lies and hidden hurts. And a Baby. And a Ranch. And a soldier who has to heal. I loved writing this story and the various aspects of it. I also loved the 'job' I gave to my heroine. It was more of a hobby than anything, but it is her way of controlling a world that, for her, has gone out of control. She makes cards. I had just discovered this hobby myself. I've made scrapbooks for many years, but had never ventured into the card-making aspect of paper craft. And when I did, a whole new world opened up to me. I love the smallness of the job. I love how it doesn't take days and days to finish a card. And I love buying the new supplies for this new hobby. So my heroine made cards as well and in the process, found her own way to heal. If you want to find out more about NIck and Beth, pick up The Baby Promise. I promise you, you'll enjoy it.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

What are they thinking?

Leann Harris here. I hope you had a wonderful Christmas. The after Christmas gift I got was going to Walmart today for groceries and looking at the books and seeing my latest, SECOND CHANCE RANCH.

I hope you will stop by my website and see what the characters in my new book are saying behind the scenes. So often, wonderful parts of the book don't end up in the final product. Or the characters might want to comment on what happened during the book or why they acted the way they did. Well, they will get their say.

So, Zach, Sophie, Ollie, Ethan, and Beth will put their 2 cents in. What they will say, I don't know. They'll probably surprise, me, too. But, I promise the horses, Prince Charming and Brownie, won't try to blog. I mean, how can you translate a whnny?

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

After Christmas Sales...After Christmas spirit by Lisa Mondello

The news is flooded with after Christmas advertisements. Big sales and big deals for people who didn't get what they wanted under the Christmas tree and for those who were waiting until the Christmas rush to be over to get a favorite toy. I'll admit, I'm looking at the big White Sale advertisements. I love new sheets and towels. But while it's exciting to get that deal, it feels a little bit like a jolt to my system. Just days ago I was celebrating the birth of Christ and now I'm getting excited about towels.

One thing I've always found sad is that once Christmas is over, the spirit of Christmas seems to fade away. We become busy with our lives and forget that Christ is the reason for the season. We forget to keep Him in our hearts. Many of the things we celebrate at Christmas, family and good will toward men, are things that are important all year long. So my After Christmas wish for all of you is to keep Jesus in your heart all year.

Many blessings, Lisa Mondello

Monday, December 27, 2010

All I Want For Christmas: Books and a Easy Bake Oven

Pamela Tracy here. Before Christmas, I was sitting with my best friend, Harlequin American author Cathy McDavid, and we were discussing what we were getting our kids for Christmas. Her kids are grown, yet one idea she had was so cool I found myself wanting to do the same. This Christmas, for her adult twins (twenty-somethings) she decided to buy them what their favorite toy had been from childhood. How cool is that! For her daughter, she went hunting a My Little Pony. She couldn't find the right one. Apparently, they still make My Little Pony, but not as many. I don't remember what she went looking for per her son, but she couldn't find it either. My son is five, so I have a while to wait before I can retro buy his favorite toy. Still, the discussion made me try to remember my favorite toy. It wasn't as easy as I thought. I tried remembering bedrooms and homes where we lived (because we moved a lot, I was always getting rid of toys). Truthfully, what I remembered and the only things I have from my childhood are books. See, when I went off to college, my dad retired from one job and became a schoolbus driver (in a lower-income district). Every month or so, he'd let me know that he'd given my rollerskates to some kid, given a poncho I no longer wore to some kid, given my radio to some kid... really, I'm glad he did. He did, however, know better than to give away my books! Probably, the toy I remember most was an easy-bake oven. I went looking, and yes, they do still make them, and either my memory is vague or they look very different. I know my books look different. Nancy Drew is up-to-date. The Ramona books are vaguely the same. I don't see Betsy, Tacy, and Tib. So, what was your favorite toy? Or, even better, what was your favorite book?

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Celebrate today!

Merry Christmas!

Special Nativity

We attended a wonderful Christmas eve service last night and during the readings, this nativity was light. Isn't it cool! Can you guess what they represent?
This morning I woke up and thanked my Lord for the best gift, that of eternal life.
We had to wake the kids up as they are older, but we had a lot of fun this morning, then headed out for some visiting.
My prayer for all of you is that you have a blessed and merry Christmas.
Barbara Phinney

Merry Christmas

I want to wish everyone a wonderful, blessed Christmas. This is such a special time of the year when we celebrate the birth of Jesus who changed the world.
Merry Christmas,

Merry Christmas from Susan Sleeman

Susan Sleeman here wishing you all a Merry Christmas. Hope all of you received the gifts you wished for.

And thank you God for the greatest gift of all, your Son.

Merry Christmas from Camy Tang

Camy here, wishing a very merry Christmas to you and yours today! I'll share my favorite photo of my dog, Snickers, where she fell asleep in front of the Christmas tree on Christmas eve, waiting for Santa. :)

Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas in Yosemite

Nature's gift for Christmas

Half Dome Yosemite - 2010

May your Christmas be a picture-perfect postcard.

Merry Christmas from Charlotte Carter

Merry Christmas from Merrillee Whren

When I was a kid, we always wished for a white Christmas. Now that I'm much older, I'm not wishing for a white Christmas; in fact, I'm really wishing for a warmer Christmas. After all, I live in Florida. It's supposed to be warm here, but so far our December has been much colder than normal. I don't like to have to cover my plants every night, and some are so big that there is no way to cover them, so they have turned brown. Hopefully, they will come back in the spring.

The above photo is a picture of the cut Christmas tree I usually put out by our screened-in pool area. When the weather is nice we can sit out there and enjoy it, but this year we've been looking at it through the window. No one wants to sit out in the cold. We have a fake tree in the living room. Here it is.

I hope you all are having a Merry Christmas whether it is white, green, cold or warm.

Which do you prefer?

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Merry Christmas

This year has been difficult for some of us. But remember the true reason we give gifts, have a holiday, and share in the love and warmth of this season.
Because God gave us a gift first. He gave himself, in human form, to die for us on a cross so that we can connect with Him for all eternity.
That is the gift this Christmas.
And to take that gift, and love others, that is our gift to the world, in honour of Jesus Christ.
My dearest wish this Christmas is for you to remember this.
Love and have life. This is why we have Christmas.
Merry Christmas
Barbara Phinney

My Top Five Highlights of 2010

Susan Sleeman here –

Yes, I know 2010 isn’t over and no I’m not a Grinch who doesn’t want to celebrate Christmas, but this season always reminds me of the wonderful gift God gave to all of us in the birth of his son, so I like to ponder the many ways I have been blessed in the past year.

Here are my top five:

1. My grandson turned two in November and he is healthy, happy and such a joy. We were able to travel to Oregon to share this special day with him. His parents are doing a wonderful job in raising him and instilling their values in his life. Thank you God for Jack and his parents.

2. My youngest daughter finished her third semester in college and she is happy and joyful about her life. Can a parent ask for anything more than the happiness of their child?

3. My husband, a church music director, has successfully hosted a wonderful music outreach to our community this month. Our church is located in a mostly Hispanic area of Orlando and he has a heart and desire to minister to this community through music. The Christmas event was truly spectacular.

4. My first two books were published this fall. High-Stakes Inheritance in the Love Inspired Suspense line came out in September and Nipped in the Bud in Barbour’s Hometown Mysteries line released in October. My husband hosted a lovely book launch party and I was able to share my joy with so many people.

5. I have contracted two additional books with Love Inspired Suspense to release in 2011. Behind the Badge will come out in June and The Christmas Witness in December. These stories are so special to me as they are about the Morgan brothers introduced in High-Stakes Inheritance.

So it’s been a truly awesome year for me. What about you? What are your top highlights from 2010?

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Twelve Days of Christmas

Terri Reed here gearing up for Christmas in just a few days. I wanted to let you all know about a fun serial story some of the Love Inspired authors are doing over at the Craftie Ladies of Romance blogspot.
Come on over and see the tender story of Joy and Daniel.
Hope you all have a very Merry and Blessed Christmas.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Christmas Stories

by Debby Giusti

Each Christmas Eve, my family gathers around the tree and manger as my husband reads the Nativity Story from Luke’s gospel. Then we process through the house, carrying the baby Jesus, and knock on our closed bedroom doors that symbolize the times we have closed our hearts to the Lord. As we process, we sing Silent Night until, at last, we end up in front of the crèche and place the tiny baby in the manger. There we join hands, offer thanks for the past year and pray for God’s blessings in the year ahead.

That tradition is part of our family story, part of who we are and how we embrace Christ’s birth each year. I know all of you have traditions that are part of your family story as well.

Just as with scripture, our own stories are important. Our successes and failures, our struggles and joys reveal God’s mercy and love. In sharing our stories we better understand how the past shapes the present and gives meaning to the future, and that understanding draws us closer together as brothers and sisters in Christ.

This year, I encourage you to pick a person, perhaps someone you’d like to know better, meet for coffee and swap stories. I’m sure you’ll be richly blessed because of your sharing.

I hope you'll also share your Christmas stories with us today.

Wishing you a very Merry Christmas and all God's blessings in the New Year,

Debby Giusti

Monday, December 20, 2010

Tis the Season

Hi all, Renee Ryan here. I just finished meeting my latest deadline. The one I foolishly set for the middle of December. It’s for my September 2011 release, COURTING THE ENEMY (another WWII in the same vein as DANGEROUS ALLIES). And now that I have your attention, can I say…PHEW???

When I go into “deadline mode” everything else in my life falls into the not-now category, especially in those final days right before the book is due. To say that I become very single-minded would be quite the understatement. Laundry piles up, pizza is ordered for lunch and dinner, eaten cold for breakfast. My house, well, let’s just be honest here. Not a pretty sight.

If anyone takes a moment to look at their calendar you’ll see that the deadline for this book hit at a bad time—the Christmas Season! As I come up for air I realize how much I haven’t done. No tree, no decorations unearthed from the garage, no presents have been purchased. That’s right. I have done absolutely nothing. But before I despair, I remember my very most favorite Aunt.

Growing up, Aunt Kay was my idol. In my eyes, she was the quintessential mom. She was a leading volunteer at her church, a member of the junior league, and president of the local garden club. That was just the start, too. Something was always cooking in her kitchen. She baked everything from scratch. She carted us kids everywhere, knew all the neighbors by name. Oh, yeah, Aunt Kay was a perfect soccer mom before kids actually played soccer in this country.

Anyway, Aunt Kay was also perpetually late everywhere she went. Christmas was no exception. She never (and I mean NEVER) organized herself prior to a few days before the main event. The menu was planned ahead of time, but the groceries weren’t purchased until the day before. Often the tree was still being decorated at the very last minute. Best of all, no presents were purchased until Christmas Eve. Okay, maybe not completely true, but mostly true. I know because I remember getting banished from the room where she was still wrapping those last-minute purchases late into the night.

And yet, Aunt Kay always pulled Christmas off with elegant style and Southern panache. Honestly, there was never a hitch in the celebrations. All the presents made it under the tree while breakfast (Eggs Benedict) and Christmas dinner were always served on time.

So, as I write this blog I remember Aunt Kay. I remember that I still have five days to get everything done. I will not stress over the fact that I have yet to scale Mt. Laundry or clean my house. I will not beat myself up if I can’t locate all the proper decorations. After all, there are countless stores just down the street. Finally, I will not worry that I haven’t grocery shopped or picked out presents for my family. All I have to do is set my watch to Aunt-Kay-time and breathe.

What about you? Anyone else on Aunt-Kay-time like me? Any stories you want to share? I’ll check in periodically today, because well…I still have plenty of time. Plenty of time.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Christmas lights

This is Merrillee wishing everyone a MERRY CHRISTMAS.
Every year at Christmas, I have a fun time decorating my house, and that includes putting up the outside lights. Net lights are a wonderful invention, and I put them on all the bushes that are along the sides and front of my house. I wrap a couple of trees with lights, string the smaller trees out front with lights and hang several lighted wreaths. I also put icicle lights around the screened porch that encloses our pool. So when I finish, I light up our little corner of the neighborhood. But it seems that a few days after I get everything done, one or more strings of lights decide to burn out. Then I have to scramble to find replacement lights or have a dark space right in the middle of the bushes or on the wrapped tree. Why is it that the middle lights are always the ones to burn out? How do people with large displays such as these keep their lights from burning out?

I enjoy putting out lights myself, and I love to drive around and look at other people's Christmas lights. Do you? Do you string lights for Christmas, and what do you do if lights burn out. Do you replace them or let them go?

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Yuletide Defender by Sandra Robbins

Hi from Sandra Robbins in Tennessee where the temperature has dipped lower than we've experienced in a long time. We even had some snow yesterday which has put me in the Christmas spirit even more.

I love this time of year, and this year I have a special reason to be excited. My Love Inspired Suspense Yuletide Defender released last week. This is my third book with Love Inspired, and I have to admit I still can hardly believe it when I see my book for sale. Saturday when I was in Walmart and spied it among the other December releases, I could only stand and stare at it and thank God for blessing me so much.

As you can probably guess from the title, Yuletide Defender has a Christmas theme. The plot involves an anonymous source who tells Rachel Long, a determined newspaper reporter, he believes a vigilante is responsible for the deaths of gang members in the city. Rachel who needs a big story to advance her career decides to find out the truth. Matt Franklin, a police detective, is worried for the feisty reporter who keeps showing up in the wrong part of town and becomes her protector. The two of them find that a threatening gang war is propelling them to a showdown—just in time for Christmas.

I had a good time writing this book because I got to incorporate the suspenseful plot with the Christmas season. Sometimes the holidays and the suspense overlapped, however, when a rogue Santa Claus brought terror into Rachel's life. But as we know, in the end right has to prevail.

I hope your Christmas is peaceful and happy, and I hope Santa leaves lots of Love Inspired books in your stocking!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Christmas Bodyguard by Margaret Daley

This is an interview of Elizabeth Walker, my heroine in my Love Inspired Suspense book for December called Christmas Bodyguard. This is the first book in Guardians, Inc. Series. The second book will be out in June called Protecting Her Own and the third one will be out in September called Hidden in the Everglades. This series is about a female bodyguard agency. I decide to write about female bodyguards because I enjoy stories with bodyguards in them, but I wanted to do something a little different. What would it be like to be a bodyguard?

1. Elizabeth, tell us a little about yourself and how you came to be in the midst of such suspense?

I work for Guardians, Inc. as a bodyguard. Slade Caulder hired me to protect his teenage daughter. I have been a bodyguard for five years, mainly protecting children and women. My petite stature sometimes fools people. I am very good at protecting my clients.

2. So, during the book you met Slade Caulder. Tell us a bit about him. What was your first impression? When did you know it was love?

Slade is a self-made millionaire who runs a worldwide corporation. He is a widower with a 16-year-old daughter. He is a take charge kind of guy who is at a loss in this present situation. He will do anything to protect this child.

Seeing his devotion and love to his family is what drew me to him. I didn't have that when I was growing up.

3. What strengths/skills do you have? What is your greatest weakness?

I have worked hard to learn to protect myself from others. I will never allow a person to abuse me again. I know how to defend myself physically, but after meeting Slade, I realize I don't know how to defend myself emotionally.

4. What scares you?

Not much scares me anymore, but I have worked very hard to overcome my fears.

5. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
I wish I had not gone from one extreme to the other--from being too dependent on others to being too independent.
6. Where are you in your faith at the start of your story?

My faith is very strong. The Lord is who gave me the strength to pull my life back together after my husband divorced me and I hit rock bottom.

7. Where are you in your faith at the end of the story?

My faith has been strengthened as I have shown Slade the power of the Lord.

8. You've got a scripture at the beginning of the story. Tell us why this scripture is significant.
Then shalt thou call, and the Lord shall answer; thou shalt cry, and He shall say: Here I am. Isaiah 58:9
The significance of this Bible verse is that the Lord is always with us, even in times of trouble.
9. If you could be a dessert what would you be and why?

Vanilla ice cream--a no nonsense dessert

Friday, December 10, 2010

How Is Heroine Mercy Gabriel Different?

Though the artist has made my heroine, Mercy Gabriel, look like an Amish woman on the cover. She's really a Quaker. I have always been intrigued by the Quakers, another Plain group of religious dissidents who came to America for religious freedom just as the Amish were. There are still Society of Friends churches, but they don't wear the distinctive clothing they did in the past and they don't have the distinctive "Thee and thy" speech, called Plain Speech.

Here's the explanation I gave my editor so they would understand Quaker Plain Speech:

Loss of the thou/thee distinction in Quaker speech.

As the singular/plural or familiar/polite distinction died out in most of English, a change within the Quaker usage began to take hold. The accusative "thee" form began to supplant the nominative "thou". This change is said to have been most complete in America.

Interestingly, the change is parallel to the development in general English usage, where the accusative "you" eventually supplanted the nominative "ye".

Change of the inflection on the verb to third singular. As it finally evolved, much Quaker plain speech began to use the third person singular verb forms with "thee". So, instead of "thou art", "thou hast", we find "thee is", "thee has" I know of no research on this phenomenon. This, too, is said to be a peculiarly American phenomenon.

Okay, I know that reads like a grammar textbook. Here's the short form: the Quakers began in the mid-1600's in England. They did not stop using "Thee" and "Thou" which are so common in the King James Bible and begin using "you." However, as you can see, American Quakers or Friends had to be different! They dropped "Thou" and used "Thee" instead.

Do you know much about what made Quakers different besides their speech? Did you ever see the classic movie, Friendly Persuasion, with Gary Cooper about a Quaker family during the Civil War?

Drop by my blog and read what I wrote on Tuesday. I'm doing something different there!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Live Nativity Pageant

Our little town does its own version of the Nativity every year the first weekend of December. This year marked the 57 year, though there were two breaks in between. Once because there was no one to run it and another because the rain was so bad, it was dangerous for the actors, the animals, and the spectators.

My kids and I love to bundle up and trek out into the desert with our lawn chairs and mugs of hot chocolate. This year was no different. It was so peaceful and quiet -or as quiet as it could be with over 300 hundred people in attendance and the live animals, but there was such a sense of calm and peace and darkness, it's as if we were transported back into time. It's as if we were there to witness His birth. And that was the best gift of all. (although the year my son played the baby Jesus ranks pretty high up there, too)

Merry Christmas everyone. May your days be peaceful and stress free.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

the days of less sunshine

Barbara Phinney here.
I've noticed the distinct lack of sun lately. I'm not talking about cloudy days here, but rather the much less daylight hours we're getting. I usually feel it this time of year, but with no one in the house this morning, I found I'd slept in way further than I had planned to.
I have a friend who has Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD, which is a prefect short form for it. I think we all have it to some degree.
But what to do about it? As a Christian busy in her own church, this time of year is hardly conducive to taking it easy. With concerts, and cantatas, and caroling and getting gift baskets to the shut ins, we're all doing something outside of the home, and I really feel like a lazy slob when I drive by those other homes that are already decked out for Christmas. Oh, to have room to put the tree away fully decorated! Then we could just whip it out!
I have presents bought, sure, but to get them wrapped. To me, that's like making a salad. All that piddly chopping, and arranging and tossing and stuff that is way slower than pouring frozen peas into a pot of boiling water.
See, the lack of sunshine is taking its toll on me.
But I have to look on the positive. I have a warm home, time to read great romances, and write. And I have to do things to combat any SAD that I may have.
What do you all do this time of year (pre Christmas) to keep from feeling blue?

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Honolulu Marathon!

Camy here, and I am writing this from Hawaii right now! I’m here to run the Honolulu Marathon on Sunday, my first marathon ever! I ran the San Jose Rock ‘n’ Roll half marathon back in October and that was fun, but this is twice as long and I hope I don’t poop out midway to the finish line.

I’ve been training for about 6 months using the Jeff Galloway Run-Walk-Run method and it’s made it so that I actually love running for the first time in my life. I did a “test” run a couple weeks ago where I took all day and ran 26 miles. OH MY GOSH my feet hurt after that but I finished all 26 miles! It also took me eight and a half hours and three potty breaks, and hopefully the marathon on Sunday will not take me so long (or as many potty breaks).

What is pathetic is that there are people who walk faster than I run.

Anyway, if you happen to think of it on Sunday, say a prayer for me!

Camy Tang writes romance with a kick of wasabi. Out now is her humorous contemporary romance novel, Single Sashimi, and her romantic suspense, Formula for Danger, released in September. In her spare time, she is a staff worker for her church youth group, and she leads one of the worship teams for Sunday service. On her blog, she ponders dogs, knitting and spinning wool, running, Asiana, and other frivolous things. Sign up for her newsletter YahooGroup for giveways!

Click here to find out how you can join my Street Team—it’s free and there’s lots of chances to win prizes!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Sugar Plums for Christmas with Janet Tronstad

December is my favorite month of the year and it's all because of Christmas. I love Christmas music, heartwarming Christmas stories, and all of the foods that go with the season, including sugar plums. Each year I like to be working on a holiday story during December (I've done many Christmas stories set in my tiny town of Dry Creek, Montana). One of my favorite stories was 'Sugar Plums for Dry Creek' and that's because it had a little girl who loved ballet and a town that made her dreams of the Nutcracker Ballet come true. There is something dreamlike about ballet and little girls. This story is coming to life again this Christmas as a Love Inspired Classic. It puts me in the spirit of the holiday just seeing it again. What are some of your favorite Christmas activities? Or foods?

Friday, December 3, 2010

Carolyne Aarsen multitasks

This is what happens when I'm trying to do too many things at once. And because baking bread is one of those - do something - wait - do something more - events, I tend to get too carried away in the 'do something more' portion of the process. I'll get the dough started and then go back to the computer and get all caught up in my writing my story forgetting that yeast will have it's way and won't wait for me.
I've always said, baking bread is not a lot of work, but you need to be present in order to do a good job of it. I love baking bread. I've done it since I was first married and my husband said, in a plaintive tone, that he hoped I would learn to bake bread like his mother did. This fit in well with my own idea of 'living off the land' so I hied myself over to my mother-in-law's to learn the magical process. She pulled out her bread tub and started. "First you need some water, sugar and yeast." Now I"m not a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants person, or writer for that matter, and I required precision. "How much of each?" I asked, pencil and paper in hand. She pursed her lips and then, "Enough water, not too much sugar and a bit of yeast." I frowned and scribbled these instructions down. Then she added the flour. "How much of that?" I asked. "A goodly amount," she replied, scooping up cups of flour with a tea cup that had lost it's handle but not it's usefulness. I realized this was not going to go well so I dutifully watched and learned, then went looking for a bread recipe with measurements and precision. However, over the following years, after baking bread week after week, (A dozen loaves at a time in my family's heyday), I've become a bit of a rebel. I measure out water, yeast, salt, eggs, oil but when it comes to the flour, I throw caution to the winds and put in "A goodly amount" until it looks like it should. Then I walk away and, sometimes, forget about it.
And then it takes over my kitchen.