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!  🙂

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?

Do You Know What’s Just Around The Corner?

Christmas is coming…

I know this because the local stores have had Christmas displays up since September.  They used to wait until Halloween was over to do that, and then they started putting decorations out for both holidays simultaneously in early October, but this is the first year I’ve noticed them doing it in September.  I’m betting it won’t be too many more years until we see red-nosed reindeer next to chocolate bunnies, or even Cupids flitting above candy canes.

You know what else is coming?  Release day for my Christmas novella…

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November 1st!  That is, assuming I formatted everything correctly for KDP on Amazon and Nook Press for Barnes & Noble.  Heh heh.  Formatting…software…erk.  Is anyone else finding it hard to breathe, or is that just me?

On the plus side, I came across a kind of preliminary review of Pastels and Jingle Bells on Rookie Romance, and although the actual review hasn’t been written up yet, the blogger reviewing it (Hi, Cerian!) said it was, “…very sweet and just what I was in the mood for.”

Yay!

Now hurry up and finish putting up those Christmas decorations before Trick-or-Treaters start showing up…

Work In Progress

Crimson Romance is looking for short stories for some collections of holiday romances, and I’m tempted to throw my hat into the ring even though shorter stories aren’t my area of expertise.  Well, I’m not sure that longer stories are either, but at least I’ve published a couple of those.  🙂

So I’m working on one to submit for the Christmas collection, and it’s about a woman who encounters someone who used to pick on her in junior high and now years later doesn’t seem to recognize her.  At first she plans on chewing him out, but through a few twists and turns, she realizes he’s not at all the same person he used to be and that he also had a much sadder past than she ever knew.  She also realizes that she’s starting to really like the man he is now.

So what do you think?  Former bullies aren’t traditionally romantic heroes, but I always like a little redemption in a story, and that’s what I’m aiming for here.  Plus Christmas is a great time to celebrate forgiveness, too.

Here’s the opening scene:

It was probably inviting the worst kind of karma to be contemplating murder during the holiday season of all times, but that didn’t phase Trish Ackerly in the slightest as she stared through her bakery’s storefront window in shock.

It was him.  Ian Rafferty, bane of her junior high school existence.  She’d know that face anywhere, despite the changes in it.  Sure, he was a couple of feet taller now and certainly broader shouldered, but as he glanced away from the winter scene she had painted on the window only yesterday and at a passing car that whizzed by much too fast on the busy city street, the profile he presented to her confirmed it.  Yes, it was him.  That same nose, the odd little scar above his eye, the familiar way he quirked his lips…

Her eyes narrowed.  Ian Rafferty.  That miserable, mean-spirited little—

Then he turned his face back to the window, and Trish gasped and dropped to the floor before he could spot her staring at him.

“What on earth are you doing?” came Nadia’s voice from behind the counter.

Trish huddled behind a tall metal trash can and glanced up through her dark bangs at her startled friend and business partner only to remember belatedly that they had company in the shop, namely wizened little Mrs. Beasley, whose startled eyes blinked at her from behind enormous tortoise-shell spectacles.

Well, there was little help for it now.  “That guy,” Trish hissed, jerking one

thumb in the direction of the window.  “I know him!”

Both Nadia and Mrs. Beasley peered intently through the glass.  “Mmm,” said Nadia appreciatively a moment later.  “Lucky you, girlfriend.”

“No, not lucky me!  That guy made my life a living hell in junior high.  He’s a jerk, he’s a bully—“

“He’s coming in here, dear,” Mrs. Beasley interrupted her, with obvious interest in her voice.

With a squeak of alarm, Trish shuffled hastily behind the counter on her hands and knees and hunched into as small and inconspicuous a ball as she could.

Nadia blinked.  “Trish, are you out of your—“
“Sh!”

“Oh, you did not just shush me—“

“SHH!” Trish insisted again, knowing full well that she’d pay for it later, and then she pulled her head down into her shoulders as much as her anatomy would allow.

The bell on the door jangled cheerfully then, and a gust of cold air heralded Ian Rafferty’s arrival.

“Hi, there,” Nadia greeted him brightly, surreptitiously giving Trish’s foot a little dig with one of her own.  “Welcome to Heavenly Bites.  What can I get for you?”

“Cup of coffee would be great for starters,” came a voice that was deep but soft, and far less reptilian than Trish expected.  She cocked her head slightly to better catch his words and heard the unmistakable sound of him blowing on his hands and rubbing them together to warm them.  “Cream, no sugar.”

“Sure thing, honey.”

“Your window art,” his voice continued, and Trish straightened ever so slightly at the mention of her work.  “It’s fantastic.  Can I ask who painted it?”

“Absolutely,” Nadia returned, turning her attention to getting the coffee he requested.  “My business partner, Trish.”

“Is she around, by any chance?”

Nadia glanced down at where Trish sat scrunched up and did what Trish thought was a very poor job of suppressing a smirk.  “She’s, um, indisposed at the moment.  Why do you ask?”

“I’ve got a couple of windows that could use a little holiday cheer.  Think she might be interested in the job?”

Nadia gave Trish another brief sideways glance.

Trish shook her head frantically.

“Tell you what.  Leave me your number, and we’ll find out.”  Nadia stepped out of reach before Trish could smack her leg.

“Great, thanks.  Here’s my card.”

“I’ll see that she gets it, Mr.—“  Nadia glanced at the card.  “—Rafferty.  Here’s your coffee, and you, sir, have a very nice day.”

The bell on the door jingled again, and Trish cautiously poked her head up long enough to verify that Ian was indeed gone.  She then ignored the fascinated look Mrs. Beasley was giving her and fixed an icy stare on Nadia.  “I’m going to kill you.  How could you do that?”

Nadia tossed her dark braids over her shoulder.  “Hmph.  Shush me in my own shop…”

“I don’t want to talk to that guy!  I don’t want to have anything to do with him.”

“He seemed nice enough to me,” her friend returned, shrugging unapologetically.  “And easy on the eyes, too.”

“And single,” put in Mrs. Beasley eagerly, one wrinkled hand fluttering over her heart.  “No wedding ring.”

“Of course there’s no ring!  No woman wants to marry the devil!”  Trish sank back down onto the floor and leaned back heavily against the shelves behind her.

“He used to be the devil,” Nadia corrected her, examining the business card he had handed to her.  “Now he’s ‘Ian Rafferty, Landscape Architect’.  And he’s a paying customer, Trish.  Face it, you could use the money.”

“Forget it.  I’m not so hard up that I’d go crawling to Ian Rafferty for a job.”  Trish scowled and folded her arms across her chest.  “I have my dignity, you know.”

“Yeah?  Why don’t you get up off the floor and tell me all about your dignity.”

“Oh, shut up,” Trish muttered, getting to her feet and snatching the card from Nadia’s hand.  Wadding it up, she tossed it in the direction of the trashcan and stalked into the bakery’s kitchen.

*     *    *

So what do you think?