In Celebration of Furry Critters–And I Don’t Mean Hairy Football Players

It’s that time of year:  Groundhog Day!  Yay!  Did you get all your cards mailed out on time? Decorate the house and yard festively?  Plan the party of the season and invite all the A-listers?  Yeah, neither did I…  Well, I invited a few, but so far Tom Hiddleston STILL hasn’t RSVP’d.  🙁

Maybe you’re sitting around in a football jersey instead with your face painted and your coffee table covered with enough chips and dip to feed a small nation, so caught up in the Superbowl frenzy that you forgot today was a very important day for one particular rodent: Punxsutawney Phil.   He’s a cute little fella, but since I just found out that he’s predicted six more weeks of cold, dark winter, he’s in the doghouse as far as I’m concerned.  Bad rodent!

Hope you all have a nice Groundhog Day nevertheless, and if you plan on watching the Superbowl–or, like me, just the commercials–I hope you enjoy that, too.  In the meantime, here’s a clip from the movie Groundhog Day in which Bill Murray re-lives the day over and over and–at least in this part–attempts to use that to his advantage.  Enjoy!  🙂

Possibilities in 2014

The end of one year and start of another always seems to be the perfect time to reflect on things that have happened in your life, changes you want to make, and dreams you want to pursue.  It’s a good time to take stock and consider what possibilities might be out there and whether or not what’s holding you back is reality or just self-doubt.

2013 was a busy year for me in many ways, both personally and professionally.  It was the year that a long-time dream of mine finally came true:  I became an author with an honest-to-goodness publishing contract!  (Thank you, Crimson Romance!)  For years I had set writing aside in favor of more practical things and told myself that I would get back to it when I had more time, and then it sank in a few years ago that unless I made time for it, it would never happen.  It’s just too easy to let life get in the way, you know?  So I started writing again, a little here and there on weekends or during evenings after work–and sometimes it was really hard to keep at it, but I’m so glad now that I kept plugging away.  And there’s still a long road ahead of me, but at least I’m actually on it now, and that feels wonderful!

I wish that feeling for everybody out there for 2014!  If you’ve got something you’ve dreamed of doing for a long time, I hope this year is the year you’re able to take the first steps in making that dream a reality.  Even small steps add up, so why not take them?

Here’s to a wonderful New Year, and because I love all things Celtic, here’s a traditional Irish blessing:

In the New Year, may your right hand always be stretched out in friendship but never in want.

And because I also love a bit of humor…

May all your troubles last as long as your New Year’s resolutions.  ~Joey Adams

Happy New Year!  🙂

The Things You Learn When Researching For A Story…

Part of the writer’s life includes researching all kinds of things for stories, from whether or not something besides a carbon-based life form could potentially exist on other worlds to zoning ordinances in Peoria, Illinois.  (Now if only I could figure out a way to combine BOTH of those things in one story, I’d really be onto something….)

Well, for Playing Cupid–the third Heavenly Bites novella–one of my characters is a history professor with a deep love for that particular subject matter, so I did a little research to see what kind of historical figures he might find particularly interesting or inspiring.  And that’s when I stumbled onto a man named Witold Pilecki.

I had never heard of him before, and maybe you haven’t either.  If you haven’t, he is apparently the only known person to voluntarily enter Auschwitz during World War II.  He was a Polish army captain who suspected something awful was happening inside the camp–at the time people believed it was just a POW camp–and he decided to get himself arrested and thrown into the camp in order to smuggle out intelligence.  For two and a half years, that’s exactly what he did, opening the eyes of outsiders to the real horrors going on inside of Auschwitz.  He even hoped to organize a mass escape but was unable to get the support he needed, and then finally–suspecting his death was imminent–he was forced to make his escape.

I’m sure he had his flaws like the rest of us, but I was floored by his story.  And then I read further and discovered the sad reason why I, and probably many others, had never heard of him.  There are several articles about him online, and if you’d like to read a little more about him, here’s a link to an article on www.npr.org called Meet The Man Who Sneaked Into Auschwitz.

Kind of makes me wonder how many other incredible real-life stories are out there that few people–if any–know about…

Merry Christmas :)

December’s been a crazy-busy month, but I didn’t want to let it go by without wishing you and yours a very happy holiday season, so… Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!  To help get you in a celebratory mood, here are some festive holiday music samples for you, starting with a clip from the movie Love Actually–who doesn’t like a little romantic comedy mixed in with their Christmas fun?

And for those of us who are dreaming of a white Christmas but find ourselves nowhere near snow, here’s a little dose of that, too:

But if all you really want to do is curl up in front of a cozy fire, sip a little something hot, and snuggle with someone you love or at least–hopefully–like an awful lot, here’s a fire of your own that’s nicely low-maintenance:

Warmest holiday wishes!  🙂

10…9….8…You Get The Idea…

Wow, 10 more days until Christmas!  Are you ready?  It’s kind of amazing how fast it sneaks up on you, isn’t it?  I still haven’t baked any Christmas cookies. I’ve EATEN plenty, but that probably doesn’t count.  And I’m still looking forward to sipping a cup of hot cocoa beside a roaring fire while Christmas carols play.  Guess I’d better get right on it.

We did get our tree up, though.  It didn’t take long since it’s only about a foot and a half high and I basically just lift the thing out of a big plastic bag already fully decorated:

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It’s a snap to put away, too.  Now that’s my kind of tree!

What’s freaking me out a wee little bit is the fact that January 1st is only a couple of weeks away, and certain things that I told myself that I’d have done by the end of year aren’t quite there yet.  What about you?  Do you still have a few things on your 2013 to-do list, too?  Ah, well, it’s not really the holidays unless you’re hyperventilating, right?

So here’s to a busy couple of weeks–don’t forget to stop and take a breather now and then!  🙂

Brrr…

Wow, what a weekend!  Did the winter storms hit the region where you live, too?  This weekend was proof to me that Mother Nature likes to throw the occasional monkey wrench into people’s plans, you know, just to prove she can.  And yet, I’m sure we were lucky compared to many other folks…

The frozen pipes this morning weren’t much fun.  But on the plus side, the snow certainly has been pretty!

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The icy roads, though–not so much:

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Lots of slipping and sliding going on out there the past couple of days.  Hope you and yours are able to stay in where it’s safe and warm!

To quote Michael Conrad from Hill Street Blues:  “Let’s all be careful out there…”

Time To Celebrate!

Today we’re celebrating reaching 1,000 Likes on Facebook, having a fourth book just recently released, and heck–just life in general. Plus the fact that it appears I’ve successfully gotten my first Rafflecopter giveaway up and running on Facebook!

Although I may have just jinxed it by saying that… Oops.

If you’re on Facebook, hop over and check it out–there’s a $20 Amazon gift card up for grabs. Click here to see for yourself.   🙂

I also wanted to say a quick thank you to everyone who has bought one of my books, posted a review, and helped make 2013 a memorable year.

Thank you!!!

Here Come the Holidays!

At the moment it doesn’t look very Christmasy where I live because it’s grey and raining, but in spite of Mother Nature’s grumpy beginning to the week, Christmas IS coming.  Have you got a tree up yet?  Have you played your first Christmas carol of the season?  Have you gorged yourself on any holiday sweets?

I haven’t done any of that yet, but I fully intend to do so.  Especially that last one.  🙂

(I try to live my life by the motto “seize the day,” but more often than not I slide more towards “life is short; eat dessert first–literally.”  They’re not totally at odds with each other…)

It’s weird to be planning for Christmas while promoting a New Year’s book and writing a Valentine’s Day story.  Sometimes I forget what day it is in real life.  It is December, right?  I hope so, because I’m really looking forward to certain holiday traditions.  This year I plan to  see as many Christmas light displays as possible with my hubby, bake up at least one batch of gingersnaps (and since it involve sweets, it’s got an especially good chance of happening), sip cocoa in front of the fire, and sing Christmas songs even if it’s only to my dog.  She’ll love it, I’m sure.  She may even try to join in.

I hope to have some giveaways for you this month, and I can share a couple of them with you today.  First, you can enter to win an ecopy of Pastels and Jingle Bells over at Clean Romance Reviews:

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And then there’s an ecopy of the second novella, Love Lessons, up for grabs at Rookie Romance:

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So what are you looking forward to this holiday season?

Start Your Thanksgiving Off Right

Just a couple more days until Thanksgiving!  The other day I drove over to visit my parents, and I had to stop the car and wait for a flock of wild turkeys to cross the road–I’m pretty sure it was part of some massive attempt to flee the country until November is safely behind them.  I’d like to think that if nobody’s come after them yet, they’re safe for another year.

I’m not so sure how safe shoppers are, though, and I’m not even talking about Black Friday yet.  My husband came home from the grocery store yesterday, wide-eyed and astounded by how high the frozen turkeys had been stacked at the store.  Pull one down, and you’ll likely wind up getting crushed by the ones that come tumbling down after it.  And let’s face it, that’s not exactly the most dignified way to leave this world, is it?

Thanksgiving is a great time to be with loved ones and appreciate all the blessings in your life that might be easy to take for granted, but it’s true that it can be a tad stressful, too.  Especially for the cook!  (Love you, Mom…)  So just in case anybody needs something to make them smile or even giggle behind their hands, I found a few YouTube clips to share with you today…

This first one is more of a cautionary tale:

And this one is more in honor of those valiant wild turkeys I met the other day along with their turkey brethren everywhere:

And this last one is a longer clip from Everybody Loves Raymond especially intended for those who may be considering going the tofurkey route this year:

Okay, I think I’ve done my part to provide both humor and a well-rounded perspective on turkeys.  Have a very Happy Thanksgiving!  🙂

Take A Deep Breath…Maybe Two

Do you ever get the feeling that your to-do list is somehow taking on a life of its own, growing and changing whenever you turn your back on it to the point where you lie awake thinking about it at night, and you get the feeling that if one more thing is added to it you will bare your teeth and start snarling like a rabid animal that’s been cornered, and people you know will start to back away from you slowly?

(Hey, I saw that!  You’re backing away from me slowly, aren’t you?  And now you’re speeding up…)

Or maybe you’ve noticed that every muscle in your body has apparently reached a state of perpetual tension in which you’ll either benefit from some truly AMAZING isometric toning or else something will just finally go sproing and you’ll flop over like a marionette that just got its strings snipped?

If you poked me right now, I’d probably go sproing.  How about you?  I know there’s some sort of saying about how it’s the pressure on the lump of coal that turns it into a diamond, but one has to be careful about offering up adages like that to people who are really stressed out, because it’s a good way for one to find oneself gagged and duct-taped to the wall for use as a human dartboard.

I kid, I kid… Sort of…

I’m feeling the pinch of deadlines and responsibilities right now, and I’m sure I’m not the only one.  There are friends whose face I haven’t seen in a long time because I’ve been in the depths of my writer’s cave for quite a while–Hi, guys!  Miss you!  My hubby thinks my laptop is some sort of new appendage I’ve sprouted, and my dog keeps trying to bat the laptop off of my lap so she can sit there instead.

I’m trying to come up for air once in a while so my family and friends will remember what I look like.  It’s quite the juggling act, and I’ll bet you’re juggling quite a few things, too; if you’ve got any tips on how to maintain one’s sanity, I’d welcome them!  And I promise I won’t touch the duct tape.

In the meantime, I’m going to get back to work on Playing Cupid.  Fingers crossed about that isometric toning!