Sunday, December 27, 2009
They say when you least expect it, something good will come your way. This could be news regarding a family member or loved one, a job promotion, birth of a baby or in the case of a writer, a contract or prestigious award. To writers of romance, the CAPA nominees were announced a few days before Christmas by The Romance Studio.
The Romance Studio will be giving the seventh annual Cupid And Psyche Award on Valentine’s Day, 2010. What are the CAPA’s?
The CAPA’s are awards given by The Romance Studio for excellence in romantic and erotic fiction. Categories include inspirational, contemporary, fantasy historical, mainstream, paranormal, romantic suspense, erotic contemporary, erotic fantasy, erotic historical, erotic paranormal, erotic anthology, BDSM and the Ariana Overton Award for best cover art or the ARI. Only books reviewed after November 26, 2008 and prior to November 25, 2009 with a publication date during that time will be considered for the award with the exception of the Psyche Award. The Psyche Award is the category for romances that did not meet the nomination criteria but that the reviewers feel deserve special recognition.
The final awards will be announced on February 14, 2010.
When Sharon Horton, fellow Wild Rose author and friend emailed me to inform me my book, The Claddagh Ring had been nominated for best inspirational genre for the 2010 CAPA awards, I was stunned beyond words. Never in my wildest dreams did I expect to be considered for this prestigious honor. I am still floored and beyond thrilled. What a Christmas gift, one to cherish and reflect upon during all the hard work, research and edits that go into the writing of each book. Special note of thanks to my editor for making this book shine. To Lori Graham. Thanks, Lori. Here’s hoping!
Artwork for The Claddagh Ring designed by Nicola Martinez. Thank you, Nicola!
Blurb and excerpt from The Claddagh Ring
Struggling with her faith after her mother’s death, Meghan O’Malley finds comfort in wearing her Claddagh Ring, believed to be blessed by St. Patrick. And when Meghan meets Rork, she finds love, friendship, and loyalty. But before everything comes full circle under God’s plan, Meghan must face the biggest challenge of her life.
Rork McGuire is ruggedly handsome, sings Celtic music straight from his soul, and has a dark secret. When he sees Meghan O’Malley, he falls hopelessly in love with her and wants nothing more than to give her his heart. Will the secret he harbors bring them together—or pull them apart?
Blurb for The Claddagh Ring
And as My Wild Irish Rose played, Meghan and Rork danced, their bodies gliding across the dance floor in perfect rhythm. Rork sang in her ear, the lilt in his voice sending chills through her entire body. “And my one wish has been…that some day I may win…the heart of my wild Irish Rose…”
As Rork’s arms tightened around her, the lyrics of the song seemed to crawl deeper and deeper inside her skin. Gazing into his hypnotic blue eyes, she thought perhaps St. Patrick had indeed bestowed his blessing into the Claddagh. Could Rork be her purpose? Finding love and friendship with a man who could sing like an angel?
On a romantic lilt, Rork ended the dance with a simple promenade around the floor, giving the couple the regal look of a king and queen. Staring into midnight blue eyes, Meghan’s heart danced a wild rhythm. When she finally came back down to earth, she was giddy with delight. And when they kissed, it was the kind of kiss dreams were made of. Meghan Shannon O’Malley had met her destiny.
Buy The Claddagh Ring
To read reviews for The Claddagh Ring, visit my website:
Friday, December 25, 2009
Oliver and I wish you and yours a blessed and joyous holiday season!
With today being Friday, we are usually at The Author Roast and Toast. Lyn, Mary and myself, along with Oliver, Cuddles and Junior are spending the day with family. But Lyn has posted a video guaranteed to make you smile. Please drop by and take a peek! We will be back in two weeks and hope you will join us for more fun and frolic. Our new endeavor has been a smashing success, thanks to authors and readers like you! Thank you all for your continued support!
May the luck of the Irish be with you as you travel through life. Until next time,
Love and Blessings,
A few days ago, Linda Swift shared a personal story with Delle Jacobs on her blog. I was so moved by what I read, I requested permission to post it today. Linda and Delle Jacobs have kindly granted permission. I can’t think of a more appropriate time to count our blessings than Christmas Day. And with no further ado, here’s Linda.
All of my family is musical except me. And it was after a performance of her husband's band at a casino in Tunica, that my daughter had an almost fatal accident. While standing on the sidewalk in the wee hours of morning as he loaded his equipment, she was run down by a casino employee, high on drugs, thrown onto the windshield of his car, which hit a wall and caught fire. She was helicoptered to a trauma hospital in Memphis with multiple injuries. Her dad and I arrived from Kentucky and after an all-day wait, she had hours of surgery. Our first miracle was that she lived.
We stayed in a motel for a month, taking turns with her husband, sitting at her bedside, so that she was never alone for a moment. When word spread that she was injured, fans of her band and her husband's filled her room with flowers. There were so many and the scent was so heavy that one physician who entered remarked "Why, this is like a funeral home." A very inappropriate remark in my opinion!
Still too weak to travel to her home in Nashville, she was moved after a few weeks to a rehab center nearby. And when she was finally given permission to travel, my husband and I went ahead to prepare her condo for an invalid. Both bedrooms were upstairs and not wheelchair accessible so we had to buy a bed for the living room. Her dishwasher didn't work and neither did the stove oven. Remember, she and her husband traveled with their respective bands and domestic life did not have priority. But since I was responsible for cooking nutritious meals, I needed proper equipment.
After a couple of days of frantic shopping for appliances, a bed, and groceries, then a frenzy of cleaning as we had been warned of her wounds getting infected, we fell into bed for a few hours sleep before her homecoming.
Sometime after midnight, I was awakened by a loud noise like someone hitting a wall. I tried to ignore it but it only got louder. Muttering something unprintable, I staggered to the window and looked out. And there by the front steps was a lone figure doing something with wood and a hammer. At first, I couldn't figure it out, and then it dawned on me. A man was building a ramp over the concrete steps.
Something we had not even thought of!
The night was freezing cold and the guy was bundled up in a jacket, sock cap, and gloves as he determinedly hammered away at those boards until he had the ramp finished. And as I stood there watching with tears in my eyes, I felt such gratitude for this simple gift of kindness. It was truly more beautiful than the roomful of flowers I had tended every day. And even more special because I felt it had been a financial sacrifice to buy the lumber as well as a difficult task to build it in the middle of this frigid night.
My daughter came home, and after a fourth surgery and many more weeks of intensive therapy, she was able to walk again. And the much-used ramp was finally taken down. Now only a few scars remain to remind her and us of that almost fatal night. And this is the second miracle.
The neighbor couple went back to New York City after a time because their family needed them there. And the full time career in music hasn't happened yet. But I remember them from time to time and make a wish that all their dreams may soon come true.
Thank you for sharing your beautiful story with us today, Linda. Oliver and I wish you and your family a very blessed Christmas. Keep your loved ones near and dear to your heart! Wishing all a wonderful, safe and Happy Christmas!
To learn more about Delle Jacobs, visit her blog:
Thursday, December 24, 2009
“I’m dreaming of a white Christmas
Just like the ones I used to know
Where the tree tops glisten
And children listen
To hear sleigh bells in the snow…”
And now that we are all warm and toasty and with the spirit of Christmas all around us, here’s Linda to entice us with a tasty treat for the holiday. Enjoy!
Recipe: PEOPLE CHOW
1 6 oz. package chocolate chips
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pour above mixture over:
8 cups Cheerios
Stir until evenly coated
2 or 3 cups sifted powdered sugar
Pour into large paper or plastic bag and add coated cereal. Shake gently to coat
with sugar. Spread on waxed paper and cool completely. Store in airtight container.
This recipe was given to me by a woman who became a dear friend while we both were
living in adjacent log cabins outside Oswego, NY when our husbands were start-up
engineers at a nearby power plant. I make this every holiday and it reminds me of
a cold, cold winter and a warm friendship.
Sharon and Oliver agree the treats are out of this world. As the snow deepens, they bid Linda a farewell and wish her a Merry Christmas. Oliver, always the perfect gentleman, helps her on with her coat and scarf. And not one to pass up a tradition or an opportunity, he steals yet another kiss under the mistletoe!
Another holiday book, The 12 Days of Christmas, will be released in
December and her first published historical, in 2010.
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
Hi Sharon, hello Oliver - thank you, sweetie, those fudge brownies are my favourites!
After twelve years of decorating an artificial tree, my husband and I decided, last year, to revert to the real thing, they're environmentally friendly, helping to replenish the oxygen levels and absorbing carbon dioxide, and although an artificial tree can be used for several years, the noxious chemicals produced in their production do nothing to help the fight against global warming, and they are certainly not biodegradable like a real tree.
So, off we went to
Chesham Christmas Tree Farm
At the entrance is a full size Father Christmas. A little wooden fox greeted us as we went through the gate and we passed by the little workshop where animated elves were busy making the gifts for Christmas and preparing Christmas trees. (Although one seemed to have decided it was time for a mug of tea!)
The Farm uses two Shire horses. Thomas and Ambassador, who are working forestry horses. They are owned and trained by Steven Jones, who is a highly skilled forester based in Wales. Shire horses are a breed of horse used as draft animals on English farms for centuries. They are believed to be descended from English "Great horses" which were also used to carry armored knights in medieval times. The horses leave the fields in much better condition than modern tractors. Tractors running over the ground can damage the soil structure and reduce its fertility by compacting it. Horses weigh less than tractors and their hooves spread that weight over a larger surface area. As a result, even in wet weather, the field is not damaged by the use of the horses, and the farm tracks are left un-rutted. For each tree sold, another is planted, as it absortbs carbon dioxide and 'breathes' out oygen, each tree is helping reduce our collective carbon footprint.
At the end of the rows of trees was a corral where we made friends with one of the horses, unfortunately I'm not sure which one it was, but his companion was obviously taking his turn to carry back some trees.There are trees of many different varieties and sizes to choose from.
We chose a lovely, bushy little tree and while it was beeing 'netted,, we visited the Christmas Tree Farm shop. It was like a fairy land, with loads of beautiful ornaments and decorations - and close to the counter, a full size sleigh with a moving Santa, Reindeer and little fawn.
There were also woodland animals in various places around the shop, with twitching noses and paws, looking very realistic. They also sell things like magical reindeer food and special keys that only work for Santa, for houses with no chimneys.
Before I leave, do you know the legend of the Christmas tree? This legend comes down from the early days of Christianity:
In Britain, Saint Wilfred was a monk who was helping to spread Christianity among the Druids. One day he struck down a huge Oak tree, which in the Druid religiion was an object of worship.
As the tree fell to earth, it split into four, and from its centre grew a young Fir tree, pointing it's topmost branch towards the sky. The crowd gathered around the monk gazed in amazement.
Wilfred dropped his axe and turned to the watching people.
"This little tree shall be your Holy tree tonight," he said, "It is the sign of eternal life, for its leaves remain green all year round. See how it points toward the heavens. Let this be called the tree of the Christ Child. Gather round it, not in the wilderness but in your homes, surrounded with loving gifts and gestures of kindness." And so it is to this day. You can find out more about the Christmas Tree Farm, and how to care for your real Christmas tree HERE
Please be careful with your trees and decorations and take care nothing can catch fire.
Have a wonderful and safe Christmastime and a very Happy New Year!
Lovely story, Lyn. Thank you for sharing. Oops, here comes Oliver, not about to let Lyn leave without a proper kiss! Wishing you and yours a Merry Christmas!
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
Oliver saunters out, blowing kisses to Becky as he sets the coffee and tea service on the table. Then he slices a huge piece of apple pie and grins his roguish grin.
Sharon: Becky has a very vivid Christmas memory to share with us. Becky, tell us about it.
A Blazing Christmas
One of the most vivid Christmas memories I have is the year our tree caught fire. It was Christmas morning, after all the presents had been opened. I was about four or five years old. I remember sitting in the living room by myself, playing with a new toy. All the grown ups had disappeared to the kitchen--cooking, cleaning or doing whatever it is that adults do on holidays. Something caught my eye and I glanced up to see flames from the fireplace leaping onto the pine garland across our mantle. For a moment, I just watched, fascinated, as if it wasn’t really happening. I remember the flames being really pretty and colorful. I knew I needed to call for help, but for just another moment, I watched those flames jump and dance and climb up the bricks of the fireplace. Finally, the spell broke and I called out to the grownups. They rushed out in a panic and quickly got into a line, filling pots and pans and bowls with water, then tossing it onto the fire. I remember thinking they were all acting a bit crazy. I mean, what was the big deal?
uld have been so much worse. What if the nearby tree had also caught fire? Yikes.
Now that I’m grown up, every year when we put up our tree, I remember that Christmas, and contemplate how different my life could have been. And I feel truly blessed.
Gentle warning: Please keep your live trees, garlands and wreaths away from open flames. Never leave a lit candle or fire unattended. Keep your tree watered, and take it down as soon as it becomes dry. Or better yet, buy an artificial tree. You can always spray pine-scented aerosol for that wonderful Christmas smell. Stay safe and Merry Christmas!
Oliver comes out with watering can. After unplugging the tree, he waters the tree, double checking for dry branches. Then he checks the fire in the hearth, proud he’d put the tree clear on the other side of the expansive parlor. Grinning at Becky, he steals a kiss under the mistletoe!
Wishing you and yours a very Merry Christmas!
Rebecca J. Clark
BORROWED STILETTOS--February 10, 2010, from The Wild Rose Press
"Sassy and Sexy and Steamy...Oh my!"
"Once Written, Twice Shy," a blog for writers who aren't natural extroverts
Monday, December 21, 2009
Snow piles up on the window panes outdoors, while inside, the cherry wood log crackles in the fireplace, giving the room a warm, ethereal glow. Oliver stands off to the side of the parlour, admiring the Douglas Fir he has decorated with blown glass ornaments, twinkle lights, candy canes and gingerbread boys. With a twinkle in his eye, he hangs his stocking on the mantel with care, in the hopes that St. Nicholas soon will be here. Then the doorbell rings and Oliver, donned in his Santa cap, runs off to greet Janet, belting out a verse or two of “Hurry Christmas, Hurry Fun…”
Sharon: Welcome, Janet! So glad you could pop in for a visit! Merry Christmas! How are you?
Janet: I’m great! It’s sure nice to be out of the cold, though. Especially for this Florida girl.
Sharon: Oliver, I’m sure Janet would like something hot to take the chill out. About those refreshments we talked about serving?
Oliver swaggers off, but not before pumping his biceps to Janet with a wink.
Sharon: He can’t help himself. Sigh. So are you ready for Christmas?
Janet: It’s okay. I don’t mind a good flex or two when it comes from a nice looking man. As to Christmas, I’m ready. I couldn’t decorate the tree with more than tinsel and lights this year. I have two cats that are almost a year old and one that is just over a year and they LOVE the tree, if you get what I mean. Each night I come home, the first words out of my mouth are: “And the tree is still standing!”
Sharon: Say no more. I’m no stranger to the little feline darlings and have had plenty of experience with the toppling over of the tree, broken ornaments and kitty no nos!
Oliver struts in, pushing a silver caddy decorated with sprigs of fresh holly and a blooming poinsettia. With a sweeping bow, he presents it to Janet. Then he pours coffee from the carafe into two dainty teacups. He uncovers a platter of freshly baked sugar cookies, fudge brownies and chocolate chips.
Sharon: Thank you, Oliver. Don’t they smell yummy, Janet?
Janet: Oh yes. Brownies are my favorite. Chocolate chip cookies come in a close second. And the service is really nice, too. (eyeing Oliver as his biceps flex with each movement.)
Sharon: You know, I am very nostalgic and very family oriented when it comes to holidays and traditions. And Christmas is my favorite time of the year. I have so many wonderful memories. How about you, Janet. Do you have one you hold near and dear to your heart?
Janet: The best Christmas I remember was shortly after I moved to Florida. Even though there was warm weather (my favorite) and not a drop of snow to be found, the house was filled with the joy of Christmas.
was wonderful to see the living room completely trashed and to hear the crinkling of paper when human and animal walked around the room.
Sharon: Ah, yes. Animals add so much to the spirit of Christmas. And that is such a lovely memory of your son to make you smile. And being a nurse, no doubt there have been some heart-warming acts of kindness over the Christmas season. Any you’d like to share?
Janet: I’ve experienced a lot of heart-warming experiences over the 18 years I’ve been a nurse. But the one that comes to mind over the Christmas holiday was one where an older man had to be hospitalized for chest pain. He and his son drove big rigs for a living. We got to talking and I got to know a bit about them and their lives. They, in turn, got to listen to me talk about my son and some of the things I was getting for Christmas.
The day the dad was discharged, they both had huge grins on their faces as a box was handed to me. They said it was a present for my son. It wasn’t wrapped so I saw it was a radio controlled big rig. I gave each a hug and thanked them for their kindness. When my son saw the gift, he was delighted and drove it all over the living room and the driveway. I wouldn’t let him drive it on the road because I live on a busy street.
Sharon: What a sweet memory! Now let’s talk about traditions. I adore them and consider each a gift. I collect them, one of my hobbies. Do you have a favorite tradition that has been passed down in your family from generation to generation?
Janet: Each year, especially since my son is older now, we go to the store and pick an ornament for the tree with the current year on it. Then we go over to electronics and pick out a movie we haven’t seen to bring home. Since I work every other Christmas, we either celebrate on Christmas or the day before if I have to work.
On our day, we get up and start the cooking process. It’s a lot of fun and a good way to spend time together since we are both so busy lately. When we sit down, the movie goes in and we enjoy great eats and a good show. Don’t worry, we still share with the furry family members. LOL
Sharon: Thanks for sharing such beautiful family traditions. This has indeed been a delightful visit. Thank you so very much for dropping in to chat with us today. I wish you and your son and your critters a wonderful and blessed Christmas and a Happy New Year!
Oliver escorts Janet to the door, helps her into her coat and scarf and bids her farewell, but not before stealing a kiss under the mistletoe… (Janet grins from ear to ear before grabbing Oliver and dipping him for another kiss, making the most of a wonderful Christmas moment.)
I've been told "remember us when you're famous" by several people I know, especially
after they heard I've written three books. But that is not my intentions.
My intentions is to have something out there for people to enjoy, to talk about,
to wonder where in the heck the idea for that book came from. Not for fame and fortune.
After is a creation from love, love for my son. It became something fun and exciting
when he moved away from writing to other things. Stolen is a continuation of that
fun and Vengeance will close out that trilogy. But, fear not, other books are in
outlined form for those characters. Drayco, Shyanne, and Drizzle are too near and
dear to my heart to let them end so suddenly.
Innocence Taken was a step out of the norm for me. I seldom swear, much less use
the type of language used in that book. But it too was fun to write. It was a challenge.
A challenge that forced me to step out of my comfort zone. And I feel I met that
challenge. More books with Nature and Web are planned, and who knows, they may be
just as graphic. Just make sure to keep all the lights on when you read them.
I have other ideas ready when the time arises for me to get to them. And as long
as there are people who want to read my books, I will continue to write them. Even
if people forget who I am, I will still write. For it is not my intention to be famous
and without privacy. It is my intention to fulfill a dream, which I am doing...one
book at a time.
Hugs to all my readers,
To learn more about Janet Durbin and her books, visit:
Wishing you and yours a Merry Christmas!
Sunday, December 20, 2009
City sidewalks, busy sidewalks,
Dressed in holiday style
In the air
There’s a feeling
Meeting smile after smile
And on every street corner you’ll hear
It’s Christmas time in the city
Awe struck, Oliver stares at Cate, totally unabashed, mouth agape. Hearing his command, he takes off, but not before flexing his biceps with a wicked wink.
Sharon: One of these days I’ll trade him in. LOL But not today. As you know, I love to chat about favorite Christmas memories and traditions. Do you have a favorite memory to share?
Cate: When I was little, my dad was a rural mailman. Christmas time meant tons of goodies from
the people on his route! We couldn’t wait till my dad came home each day to see what
yummies he had. Although the USPS probably frowns on it, I continue the tradition
by leaving cookies for our own mailperson each holiday season.
Being the youngest of seven kids, every meal was an occasion in our household!
Oliver swaggers out, pushing a caddy full of coffee, te, hot cocoa and oven fresh chocolate chips. Humming away to Silver Bells, pours into Santa mugs.
Sharon: Thank you, Oliver. That will be all. Cate, what lovely memories those are. Now do you have a favorite tradition, and if so, why?
Cate: Every year since my kids were little, I’d buy a new ornament for each one. Once they
start families of their own, they’ll have a good start on their own Christmas trees,
and hopefully some happy memories to share with their future kids! That, and decorating
our house to the hilt. Every nook and corner contains a decoration to make the season
special. It takes awhile to finish, but is well worth the effort!
Sharon: I agree. I love to decorate and dress up the home. What fun. Do you have a story about your child or your pet at Christmas that will always
make you smile?
Cate: My husband and I loved to take our kids to Santa events when they were little. When
my son Chris was five, he made the local newspaper during a train ride with Santa
when he gave the Jolly Old Elf a big smooch. By the time Becca, my third and youngest,
was born, breakfasts with Santa were already a tradition. All my kids share a love
of music, but at one such breakfast, three-year-old Becca cut loose dancing to Christmas
tunes. I snapped a photo, and it still makes me laugh to see her exuberant smile
while she’s dancing away all by herself.
Sharon: How funny. A star is born! Did you ever give a gift to a child that would make his or her Christmas wish
Cate: Other than trying to fulfill my three kids’ wish lists, I also tried to
instill in them a desire to help others. They always helped me pick out stuffed animals
to donate to Toys for Tots, and we’ve donated clothing and other necessities to families
in need. I wanted my kids to realize the joy of giving can be greater than getting.
Sharon: And that’s what Christmas is all about, isn’t it. Sad but true, there are a lot of children, adults and pets out there without a home or tree or anyone to care about them. Let’s all spread the cheer this season!
Oliver presents Cate with an apron as they go into the kitchen to bake. Cate has agreed to share her favorite cookie recipe with Oliver and he is overjoyed.
These little cookies are bite-sized, tasty and with their colorful sprinkles, add
a festive touch to any table. My Mom’s maiden name was Narducci, so as you might
have guessed, we grew up on Italian food. My sister Claudia makes these the best
(she was blessed with all the cooking genes in our family!).
Italian Anise Cookies a la Claudia
2 ½ cups flour
1 tblsp baking powder
¼ cup softened butter
3 tblsp. Oil
½ cup sugar
1 tsp grated lemon rind
½ tsp anise extract
Small pinch of salt
Stir together flour, baking powder and salt. In a separate bowl, beat butter and
oil. Add sugar and beat thoroughly. Beat in eggs one at a time. Add lemon rind and
anise. Add flour mixture, mixing well. Chill to handle easily.
Form into balls. Bake on ungreased cookie sheets for 12 minutes at 400 degrees. Makes
Glaze: Mix 2 tblsp. Butter with confectioner’s sugar. Add a small amount of milk
Cate Masters writes fantasy/dark fantasy, historical, contemporary and speculative
fiction, described by reviewers as “so compelling I I did not want to put it down,”
“such romantic tales that really touch your soul,” “filled with action scenes which
made it a riveting story,” and “the
author weaves a great tale with a creative way of using words that makes the story
refreshing to read.”
The proud mom of three adult children, she currently lives in central Pennsylvania
with her husband, Lily the dog, their dictator-like cat, Chairman Maiow, and dozens
of characters inhabiting her imagination.
Visit Cate online at
or follow her on Facebook or Twitter.
Thanks so much
Oliver walks Cate to the door, but not before stealing a kiss under the mistletoe!
Wishing you and yours a very Merry Christmas!
Saturday, December 19, 2009
Oh Holy Night
Eight years ago I lost my vision after a long bout with progressive blindness. Devastated and despondent, I enrolled in a 16 week rehabilitation program for mobility, personal adjustment and the use of a computer with adaptive software. Part of the reason I was reluctant to enroll in a program for the blind and visually impaired was becauseI feared these people would be ignorant and uneducated. I was an artist, a legal secretary, a professional. What could I possibly have in common with “those people?”
I was wrong. They were all ordinary people with extraordinary problems, just like me. We were all thrust into a living nightmare due to circumstances beyond our control. I met doctors, nurses, teachers and paramedics, all with some type of eye disease that had or was robbing them blind. Many had the added burden of facing marital problems because a spouse could not accept the pending blindness. Through this program, we formed an unbreakable bond. We laughed and we cried. Together, we faced an incredible journey filled with endless challenge and heart-wrenching pain. Words can never describe the feeling of being fitted for a white cane, the fear of being in the onslaught of traffic without sight, traveling the long and bitter road from denial to acceptance.
As fate would have it, I was at the program during Christmas that year. We pitched in and had a party, all of us taking part in the celebration. In a huge kitchen, we made cookies and appetizers. But through it all, there was a silent humming that echoed off the walls…depression. For the most part, this was the first Christmas we were facing without vision. Some broke down, others lost their tempers and stormed out of the room, unable to cope with the dark depression and feeling of being segregated and alienated. But then something happened. One woman stood and walked over to the pianist and began singing like an angel, “Oh Holy Night.”
The result was miraculous. Her melodic voice sliced through the depression. When the song ended, there was a moment of silence where you could truly hear a pin drop. And then the applause rose to the heavens, bringing the house down in glorious exultation. Nothing will ever compare to the sheer beauty of that moment. Every time I hear O’ Holy Night, I tear up and remember a time in my life when what didn’t kill me made me stronger.
Oh Holy Night!
Oh Holy Night!
The Stars are brightly shining
It is the night of the dear Savior’s birth!
Long lay the world and sin in error pining
Til He appeared and the soul felt its worth.
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn!
Fall on your knees
Oh hear the angel voices
Oh night divine
Oh night when Christ was born
Oh night divine
Oh night divine
Led by the light of faith serenely beaming
With glowing hearts by His cradle we stand
So led by a star so brightly gleaming
Here come the wise men from Orient land
The King of Kings lay thus in lowly manger
In all our trials born to be our friend
Truly He taught us to love one another
His law is love and His gospel is peace
Change shall He break for the slave is our brother
And in His name all oppression shall cease
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,
Let all within us praise His holy name.
And after a long and winding road, a new dream resurrected. This is a published poem in my book Echo of a Raven about my struggles with diabetic retinopathy. Painting was my life, my passion. When I could no longer see to paint, my world simply stopped revolving. But my creative muse shined through. I began taking classes in creative writing and memoir workshops and hope soared. Here are the final words in my memoir.
By Sharon Donovan
Was it only yesterday
I painted Rome 2,000 years ago?
When most of the known world was ruled by the Roman Forum
as it appeared in late antiquity.
I painted the ancient Coliseum
where cruelty was cheered by spectators
in superimposed tiers.
I painted the ruins of Villa Adriana
where mosaic marvels slumbered
until its excavation unburied a builder’s splendor
whose vision it was to incorporate the seven wonders of the world
in one site.
I painted the Valley of the Temples
where most of its grandeur lies in ruin
with the exception of mighty architecture which failed
to fall, acquiesce, or perish beneath ashen rock.
But still, it stands tall, erect, and inept in this maze of modern amenities.
Was it only yesterday
I painted Pompeii,
a once opulent resort for wealthy Romans
buried beneath ash and stone until its excavation
revealed hidden marvels
and the Roman empire was rebuilt?
Was it really only yesterday that painting was my dream
It seems like only yesterday
my life erupted like a volcano, my vision destroyed,
burying my dreams of painting
like ancient Rome,
my life was rebuilt.
From the maze of mayhem and rubble
a new dream resurrected
renewing hope and inspiration for a brighter tomorrow.
motivated by new insight,
instead of painting pictures on canvas,
I paint my pictures with words.
To see some of my paintings(that I did not destroy in the throws of depression), visit my art gallery on my website:
To read my memoir in full:
Echo of a Raven
Friday, December 18, 2009
“And here’s our show stopper,” the jewelry representative held up a sleek snake necklace with emerald green eyes. “Can’t you just see yourself at all the Christmas parties in this breathtaking piece? And it can be yours in a heartbeat. All you need do is host the next jewelry party at your house, sell enough jewelry to meet the quota—and this hostess gift is yours! Now which of you lovely ladies is gonna be the Diva Queen of all his dreams?”
I couldn’t take my eyes off it. The emerald green snake eyes had me hypnotized. Before I could stop myself, I shot my hand high in the air. Practically panting, I screamed with gusto. “Me! I’ll host the next party. That necklace is mine!”
For the next two weeks before my party, I walked around with my head in the clouds, dreaming of the gorgeous necklace I’d showcase at all the upcoming Christmas parties. I walked around with stars in my eyes. I dreamed of it and counted the days until it was mine. In between decorating the house, trimming the tree and baking cookies, I went shopping for a dress regal enough to complement my show stopper.
Humming a verse or two of All I want for Christmas, I called every friend, relative and co-worker I could think of, making certain I’d sell enough jewelry to win my hostess gift. On the morning of my party, I even went so far as to post signs on telephone poles, bribing the unsuspected with promises of cookies and hot buttered rum. Giddy with delight, I ushered the jewelry representative in on a blast of cold winter wind.
“Come on in. I have a table ready for you in the living room. Go on and set things up. I’ll just check on the refreshments.”
And before long, the house was bustling with excitement as guests chose accessories to jazz up holiday wardrobes. And by the end of the party, I far exceeded the points I needed to claim my hostess gift. The minute all points were tallied, I screamed loud enough to wake the living dead.
But two weeks later, guests began calling me, curious as to the whereabouts of their orders. Puzzled, I called the representative, who assured me the shipment was just running a little late due to the Christmas rush. But when guests began calling me and leaving irate messages on my machine, I got suspicious.
“How dare you try and pull one over on us,” a co-worker screeched. “Of all the people in the world, you’d be the last person I’d suspect of stealing money.”
Something inside me went ice cold. What was she talking about? My left eye began to twitch the way it did when I was upset. Biting my lip, I made a few phone calls, feeling the life being sucked right out of me.
And when I learned the jewelry representative had told my guests she’d delivered the shipment to me over a week ago, my heart sank. I smelled a rat. And after more phone calls to the company, I learned the jewelry order was never turned in. The trusty representative had pocketed my money and was nowhere to be found, leaving me in bad standing with my friends, relatives and co-workers.
After countless calls to the jewelry company, numerous apologies to my guests and more heartache than I’d ever known, I reached rock bottom. But when guilt finally caught up with the jewelry representative, she called with a full confession.
“I’m so sorry,” she choked out in between sobs. “I couldn’t afford to pay the rent. I had all good intentions of turning your order money in next week. Honest. I’m really sorry. I’ve never done this. Can you forgive me?”
Her sobbing disgusted me. Because of her jack-be-nimble fingers, I lost the respect of the people I cared most about. I just shook my head, unable to say the words desperately wanting to roll off my tongue. I simply slammed down the phone, feeling a whole lot older and a whole lot wiser.
And a few days before Christmas, when my jewelry order was at long last delivered, I opened it with a heavy heart. And when I unveiled my hostess gift, something I was ready to sell my soul for, an icy chill washed over me. The sleek gold snake necklace glistened on a bed of blue velvet, its emerald green eyes winking up at me like the eyes of a serpent. Closing the lid, I packed it away. I wanted no parts of it. Because of a piece of glamorous costume jewelry, I’d nearly lost sight of the true meaning of Christmas. Greed had taken hold of me, ensnaring me in its ugly web. I felt ashamed. Nothing was worth the price of that necklace.
The following day, I wrapped up the necklace and placed it under the Angel tree at my church. And the minute I did, I felt the weight of the world lift from my burdened shoulders. Humming along to the beautiful instrumental the choir was playing, the sound of flutes and harps filling me with inner peace, I left with a light heart and a valuable lesson learned. Be careful what you wish for.
Wishing you and yours a very Merry Christmas and Holiday Season!
Thursday, December 17, 2009
LET NOTHING YOU DISMAY
And before Oliver brings Linda out to the parlour where it is really beginning to look a lot like Christmas, here’s a blurb and excerpt from
Let Nothing You Dismay
Kala’s position as tour guide at a Kentucky Welcome Center isn’t enough to cope with debts left by her late husband’s illness, but she manages to make ends meet until her car quits running. To save money on repairs, she enrolls in an auto-mechanic class taught by Rex, a handsome part-time instructor whose heart needs repairing, too After recently losing his important job and family, he has sworn never to get involved with another woman.
Kala discounts her growing attraction to Rex when she learns he is years younger, until the winter storm of the century throws them together. When the Interstate closes down, Kala opens her home to a houseful of strangers.
Despite fire, flood and friction, she creates an old fashioned holiday rich in the true spirit of Christmas. In the process, Kala and Rex discover the greatest gift of love.
Excerpt Refusing the offer of a ride, Rex put on his coat, preparing for the grueling trek back to his hotel. Kala walked him to the front door and stepped out onto the dark porch, already covered in a fine layer of white from blowing snow. “Come for pancakes and sausage in the morning,” she shivered in spite of her bulky knit sweater. “About eight or anytime after.”
Without thinking, Rex opened his jacket and wrapped her up inside, folding her into his embrace. Instinctively, Kala lifted her face and his mouth covered hers. The kiss, which began as a friendly goodbye, took on momentum as he deepened it into a hungry tangling of tongues when she responded. The effect left them both breathless when they finally pulled apart. “Maybe,” Rex whispered, before he plunged into the drifts and disappeared in darkness.
Kala stood there for a moment, touching her lips with her fingertips, wanting to call after him, “Don’t go. I need you. I…I love you.” Love? Stunned by the unexpected realization, she hurried inside. She had guests to feed. She didn’t have time to worry over Rex now; her feelings would have to wait until later.
Although his feet were numb with cold, Rex plowed with dogged determination toward his apartment, wishing his mind were as frozen as his limbs. He could have stayed. So why did he invent an excuse not to? Because being with Kala, even with a houseful of people, would be too tempting. She made him lose control, forget his resolve. Like kissing her just now, the taste of her lingered on his lips. He wanted her, he admitted to himself candidly, in a way he never intended to want anyone again. And wanting her scared the hell out of him. She wasn’t the kind of woman to have a casual fling, and he wasn’t sure he was willing or capable of offering anything more. He saw the lights of the Ritz ahead and quickened his pace. He’d make a stiff drink and think about his feelings later.
Sharon: Let’s have a warm welcome for Linda Swift! Wow, talk about heating things up on a cold winter’s night! I love it. This is on my TBR wish list. Did you hear that, Oliver?
Oliver struts out, humming. His cheeks rosy from the cold, paper rustles as he unwraps his parcel, his hot off the press copy of Let Nothing You Dismay. Ignoring Sharon, he whips out his trusty pen and hands it to Linda. "I stood in line all morning for this book. Would you do me the honor of signing it, please?
Linda: I'd be delighted to sign this for you, Oliver. Here we go. She gives him a warm smile, then writes as she says aloud, To my dear friend Oliver with my best wishes for a happy holiday.
Sharon: Picks up empty bag, turns it upside down and frowns. I guess you left my copy under the tree perhaps?
Oliver swaggers off, still humming, turning to wink at Linda.
Sharon: Oliver, if you could control yourself, some hot tea and cookies might be nice. Well, anyway, Linda, you have a dedicated fan in Oliver! So tell us about Kala and Rex. What is the age difference between them?
Linda: About thirteen years, which wouldn't seem as much if she were the younger. Double standard, you know.
Sharon: What do you think of a relationship with a huge age gap, either male or female being older?
Linda: I have no problem with it, although I'm less than a year younger than my husband. I've seen some beautiful love matches with huge differences, many with older women. But it usually means one will live many lonely years without the other.
Oliver pushes the sterling silver tray out, pours steaming tea in the cups and unveils his one and only chocolate fudge pie. He slices Linda a huge piece and feeds it to her, his eyes glazing over as she licks the fork.
Linda:This is heavenly. How did you know I'm a chocoholic, Oliver?
Sharon: Oliver? About those presents you were to be wrapping?
Oliver struts off, grinning and pumping his biceps.
Sharon: I love the fact Kala, wanting to save money on auto repairs, enrolls in a class. What a novel place for your romantic hero and heroine to meet. What made you think of that? Any special behind the scenes reason?
Linda:Not really. I personally don't know how to do anything to a car except drive it. But this story is set in an actual Interstate Welcome Center in my hometown, just as I describe it. And my son-in-law is currently working on a video for this book, using real photos that I made there. We have a community and technical college nearby and my husband were taking dance classes at the college as I was writing the book so it all came together somehow. I don't question how the muse works, I just accept it.
Sharon: And then there is the winter storm of the century. National disasters have a way of pulling people together, bringing out the best in folks. And Kala is no exception. How would you describe her personality?
Linda:To answer your question, Kala is a coper. New word here? She is a strong woman, the backbone of her family, a wise and nurturing person. But she is temporarily overwhelmed by the loss of her beloved husband. And I don't know if you will remember that last winter, Paducah really did have the storm of the century. But the book came first!
Sharon: And Rex? He seems to have taken a vow to never get involved again. But when the right person comes along, all bets are off. Do you believe in fate and destiny?
Linda:Absolutely. And isn't it reassuring to think that even when we are not aware of it, a plan for our life is in effect and surely all things are working together for good?
Sharon: Absolutely. Christmas is a time for hope and a time when wishes come true. What is your special wish this Christmas?
Linda: I wish for our country and the world to be a more peaceful place. Do I get two wishes? I also wish for a more positive outlook for the homeless and jobless around us.
Sharon: Amen to that, on both counts. Raises her cup for a toast. Well, we are really getting close to the final days before Christmas. Thank you so very much for being with us today. But before you go, tell us where we can buy Let Nothing You Dismay and your other books?
Linda: Let Nothing You Dismay is available now at The Wild Rose Press. Circle of Love is also available there as an ebook and in print. The Twelve Days of Christmas is being released by Awe-Struck Publishing this month and they have just released Single Status. Here are the buy URLs for both. http://www.thewildrosepress.com/let-nothing-you-dismay-p-1080.html and
Thank you so much for having me as your guest, Sharon. It's been delightful to see you and Oliver again. And I wish each of you a wonderful holiday season.
But suddenly, the parlour rings with static from the Christmas carols softly playing in the background. Then realization dawns. It’s Oliver, sitting at the Baby Grand, singing his heart out, his eyeballs glued to Linda.
God rest ye merry gentlemen
Let nothing you dismay
Remember Christ, our Savior
Was born on Christmas Day
To save us all from Satan’s power
When we were gone astray
Oh tidings of comfort and joy
Comfort and joy,
Comfort and joyyyyyyyy!
He takes a sweeping bow, dashes to Linda with the mistletoe and holding it high above her head, steals his third kiss.
Merry Christmas to you and yours!
Linda Swift divides her time between her native state of Kentucky and Florida. She has been writing since she was ten and is an award winning author of published poetry, articles, short stories, and a TV play. Her first two books were published by Kensington. In addition to her holiday e-book, Let Nothing You Dismay, Linda also has Circle of Love available as an e-book and in print from The Wild Rose Press. Linda's Awe-Struck Publishing books include Single Status, available as an e-book and in print. Another holiday book, The 12 Days of Christmas, will be released in December and her first published historical in 2010.
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
ALL I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS:
Best Friends or True Love? Only Santa Knows.
Kathryn Graham hates Christmas. She hates the snow, the decorations, the whole nine yards. Nick Pringle on the other hand can’t get enough of the season. He may be her best friend and fellow writer at Redburn Weekly Magazine, but sometimes his exuberance gets on her very last nerve. Now they’ve been assigned to cover the orphan toy drive story. It’s just a puff piece not the serious journalism Kathryn hopes for, but maybe—as Nick says—there are no old stories just new angles.
Nick Pringle has been in love with Kathryn practically since the day they met. When he realizes that she’s lost her Christmas spirit, he figures he’s just the guy to help her find it again. He enacts a plan to send her anonymous gifts from Secret Santa, but will any of this really make a difference in her? Will she ever see him as anything more than her smart-aleck partner even after their passionate kisses? Then again maybe he’ll get what he wants for Christmas after all.
Halfway through the film, Nick’s fingers brushed over Kathryn’s wrist and a surge whipped through her like an electrical charge. His hand ended up on her knee, and he leaned over close to her ear. “You have any more of those Milkduds?”
“Huh?” Oh, candy. He just wanted more snacks. Well, of course, what other reason would he have for touching her like that?
“Here,” she whispered and held out the container to him.
His face remained close to hers, his warm hand still molded to the shape of her knee. She accidentally moved in too close and her forehead bumped his cheek. Looking up at him, Kathryn saw he wasn’t smiling. His eyes had grown serious and all thoughts of candy dissipated. His attention dropped to her mouth and suddenly Kathryn couldn’t swallow. Could he possibly be considering kissing her? Just then, he turned his attention back to the movie and lifted his hand from her knee.
An unexplainable inclination took over as Kathryn pushed his hand back to her knee. His face whipped back to her. Questions filled his features. His chest moved up and then down. He smoothed his hand over her pants from her knee to her thigh and back again. Her skin pebbled under the material at his touch. This was soon followed by heat tingling from her stomach to the tips of her toes.
She leaned in towards him and he met her halfway. And just like that their lips met. Giddiness spun through Kathryn’s head with sparks tingling her skin. The kiss was light and sweet yet searing all at once. Lucidity began to return to her the next moment. What was she doing? Oh, right, she was kissing Nick Pringle. She was kissing a co-worker. Worse yet, she was making out with her best friend. What was she thinking? She had to stop and yet it was the last thing she wanted to do.
The whole idea was ludicrous. An outrageous act and yet somehow her body’s sole response was that it wanted more. Whoa! Had it been that long since she’d had a date? Time to reign in those annoying hormones which threatened to take over her sanity.
She broke off the kiss and rested her hand against his chest. She could feel his heart speeding at the rate of a train. A train wreck is more like it. Ay-yi-yi! How was she going to get herself out of this one?
Available Now at Champagne Books
Let’s have a warm welcome for Cindy K. Green. Welcome, Cindy!
A Santa sleigh glides through cyberspace, making a smooth landing on stage. A twinkling array of lights bathe Cindy in a kaleidoscope of colors. Oliver donned in his Santa cap, rushes over to help Cindy out of the sled. The snow is really coming down and the stars glitter in the midnight blue sky. Cherry wood smoke billows from the red brick chimney of the fairy castle on the hill. Breaking into a chorus of All I Want for Christmas, Oliver escorts Cindy up the candlelit path.
The minute they enter the castle, the mingled smell of fudge brownies and the heady scent of pine fill the air. All I Want for Christmas plays on the stereo as they enter the parlor. A beautifully decorated Douglas fir stands tall and mighty, and a log crackles in the hearth.
Sharon: Welcome, Cindy! (rushes to embrace her friend) Have a seat and Oliver will bring some of his freshly baked fudge brownies and hot tea to take the chill out after your sleigh ride through cyberspace.
Open mouth and mute, Oliver stares at Cindy in awe. Coming to his senses, he treats her to a wicked wink. He smiles a beguiling smile. ‘All I want for Christmas is an autographed copy of your book…and maybe a kiss. What are my chances?’
Cindy: Your chances are looking pretty good, Ollie. You don’t care if I call you Ollie, do you?
Oliver swoons and pumps his biceps.
Sharon: clears her throat. About those refreshments, Ollie.
Grinning and blowing kisses to Cindy, Oliver rushes off to get the snacks.
Sharon: So here we are to chat about another one of your Christmas stories. And once more, it’s about friends that would like to be more. Tell me why this storyline works for you?
Cindy: I love the best friend romance. You don’t have to build up the time that the characters need to get to know one another before they realize this is love. The foundation is already there. They just need the veil removed so they can see this friend in a new light and then PRESTO it hits them like a pile of bricks. I Love Him/Her!
Sharon: Do you believe in taking chances? Testing new boundaries even if it means losing?
Cindy: I personally am not a big risk taker. I am one of those that is determined once I make up my mind though. In this book, my hero definitely has to come to grips with his heart and decide if it’s worth it to change the friendship, push the boundary and see what life could be like.
Sharon: Tell me about your main characters. What is the chemistry between them? A case of opposites attract—or something deeper?
Cindy: I suppose you could say they are opposites. What I always say to readers about these characters is to think Clark Kent and Lois Lane (from the Lois & Clark tv show). He’s the easy-going, mild-mannered type with the ability to tease should he need to. And she’s ambitious, head-strong and passionate. They just work and they always have. Within this friendship, the heroine feels an amount of safety unlike she has ever felt even as a child at home.
Sharon: Why do you suppose so many people look upon Christmas decorating and exchanging gifts as a chore while others thrive on it?
Cindy: It can become a chore and seem like we are just going through the motions and giving because it’s expected instead of giving from the bottom of our hearts. The trick is to find the joy of the season and not become bogged down but really feel that season of giving.
Sharon: So true. You know each year, we all seem to find ourselves on a quest for one of those hard to find gifts. How would you describe yourself when presented with this challenge? A die hard search the world over or ho hum…whatever I find will due?
Cindy: I love to find gifts that fit perfectly to each person. It’s such a joy to see their face when they open it and are surprised that you found this or that—or WOW, I really wanted this.
Sharon: I often reflect on my childhood when Christmas was such a magical time. At my house during the holidays, we often reminisce about the good old days. We try to recapture these feelings by passing traditions on to our children and nieces and nephews. What childhood memory holds a special place in your heart that you would like to bottle and never let go?
Cindy: I do many of the things my mother and father did with us. Certain stories and movies that we read and watch together. Christmas crafts, decorating the house, baking cookies. It’s a lot of fun and I know my boys look forward to it every year.
Sharon: What do you wish for this Christmas:
Cindy: Lots of sales! LOL! Just kidding. I’m excited to have these two titles released this year because I love a good Christmas book myself. I really just hope for a wonderful time with my family and memories for my kids to carry with them.
Sharon: Do all your books have a happily-ever-after ending? And if so, are you a firm believer in romance?
Cindy: I am a firm believer in the HEA! My sister, in fact, would have my head if I finished a story with a less than happily ever after. Romance is the best. It makes the heart happy and we need that in our lives these days, don’t we?
Just then, Oliver comes in and begins roasting chestnuts over the open fire. With a sweeping bow, he feeds one to Cindy. And when the song breaks out on the stereo, he takes her in his arms and they dance across the cherry wood floor, their feet never touching the ground.
Wishing you and yours a very Merry Christmas!!
Purchase All I Want For Christmas here: Champagne Books
Enter my December contest going on now at my blog.
Cindy K. Green is a multi-published author with degrees in History and Education. Previously a middle school English & History teacher, she now homeschools her own children and writes in several genres: Inspirational, Contemporary, Suspense, Fantasy and Historical romance. No matter what she writes, she always throws in a bit of humor and fun. Find out more about Cindy and her books at http://www.cindykgreen.com/ and http://cindykgreen.blogspot.com/. To join her newsletter email her at firstname.lastname@example.org, and she will send you out all three parts of her FREE READ serial, “Valentine’s Challenge.”