Friday, December 31, 2010

A Long Look Back...

I cannot believe today is the last day of 2010.  It seems like only yesterday we were all apprehensive about the coming of 2000 and how our computer hard drives were going to be obliterated.  I recall the tech staff at the university working overtime to safeguard against what a new millennium would bring.  How shocked were we when nothing happened after all the hype?

As I look back over the past 365 days, I find so many friendships for which to be thankful.  I've forged lasting relationships with people I wouldn't recognize on the street.  Those who don't understand the kinship probably think I'm a fool, but those about whom I speak know exactly what I mean.  Anita, Ro, Lea, Phyllis, Jannine, Lin, Margaret, Melinda, Tricia, Lisabet...just to name a few women who have made such an impact on my life...a positive and much-appreciated one.  To Debbie, my exercise buddy, I say thanks for being such a good friend.  I wasn't sure I would ever have one that could actually come over and spend time with me.  You're a breath of fresh air.

Despite saying I was never going to move again, the house I so loved was filled with black mold, and we were uprooted once again after one year.  I've been much happier in my little condo then I ever expected, and I truly believe we've found our niche.  We have a welcome mat, but there's a two-day limit on your stay.  *lol*

I discovered Muse It Up Publishing and not only landed six contracts, but made a whole slew of friends that became a new family circle.  I've been with several publishers over the year but truly this is the most tightly knit group I've experienced...but not so tightly knit that they don't open their arms to all newbies.  Being part of this team has been most uplifting. 

Although the dynamics of Eternal Press has changed a bit, I still maintain solid friendships with most of the authors there, and I appreciate Kim Richards for all she's done for me over the years.  The lion's share of my work is there.

I could go back through my blog and recap, but if anyone is that interested in my life, I'll let them do it.  *lol*  What's most important to me is  I enter the new year healthy, optimistic, and thankful for all the blessings I've received in 2010. I have a wonderful family, especially a grandson who is the light of my life.  The only thing I wish I could change would be that my son, Scott, lived closer.  I miss him terribly. 

Through Facebook, I've re-connected with old friends and classmates.  It's awesome to reconnect with Caryl, Margie, Judy, Shirley... and today, on the very last day of this year, I received a phone call from someone I haven't seen or talked to in years...Karen who was my closest friend and confidante for years.  What a nice way to end one year and begin another. 

To those who have helped me through the hard times, celebrated the good times, and loaned a shoulder when I needed one, I say "thank you."  May God continue to bless us all and give us the wisdom and strength to deal with the times that don't seem to be as blessed.  Having just turned sixty-five, I must say I approach the future with a little apprehension, and a big prayer that the Lord allows me to stay around a while longer and see some very important things through to the making sure Spencer grows up to be a good man...which I have no doubt he will.  I just want to be here to see it.

God planted me, and I've learned to blossom where I landed.  I may never make the NYT Best Seller list, but the friendships I've forged and the fun I've had being an author makes me one of the richest writers around.  To those who continue to follow my blog, receive it by email, and care about me and my work, what can I say?  You inspire me to bigger and better things.  Happy New Year everyone, and thank you for being part of my life.

If you think I'm not going to end this blog with some shameless promo...then you don't know me.  *lol*


Remember...almost all my work is available in Print if you prefer.  Hey...get a Kindle...they're awesome.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

January Sampler from Muse It Up

January 2011 Releases

Murder is a Family Business
Book One of The Alvarez Family Murder Mystery series
Author: Heather Haven
Genre: Mystery
ISBN: 978-0-9865875-9-7
Price: $5.95
Pages: 183

Blurb:  Just because a man cheats on his wife and makes Danny DeVito look tall, dark and handsome, is that any reason to kill him? The reluctant and quirky PI, Lee Alvarez doesn't think so. But the 34-year old ½ Latina, ½ WASP and 100% detective has her work cut out for her when the man is murdered on her watch. Of all the nerve. Set in the present, Murder is a Family Business is the first in a series of humorous mysteries revolving around Lee Alvarez, a combination of Sue Grafton’s Kinsey Millhone and Janet Evanovitch’ Stephanie Plum, and rest of the Alvarez Family, detectives all. Seemingly light and frothy on the surface, the novel nevertheless explores familial love, the good, the bad and the annoying.
Completing the family is Lee’s Never-Had-A-Bad-Hair-Day aristocratic mother, Lila; computer genius brother, Richard; beloved uncle “Tio;” and her energetic orange and white cat, Tugger. When this group is not solving murders, they run Discretionary Inquiries, a successful Silicon Valley agency that normally deals with the theft of computer software. The love, humor and camaraderie shared within this family are what set this series apart from others.

Resurrection Garden
Book One in the Decade Mystery series
Author: Frank Scully
Genre: Mystery
ISBN: 978-1-926931-04-3
Price: $5.95
Pages: 252

Jake Turner, a scarred veteran of the charge up San Juan Hill, has been a lone drifter through much of the settling of the west. Opportunity was growing out of the newly turned sod of the North Dakota prairie in 1904 when he stopped to take a part time job as a Deputy Sheriff, expecting to move on again when the dark parts of his past catch up to him.
An investigation into a murder of a man hated by everyone has threads that lead to his best friend, Isaac. Jake is ambushed and almost killed, but is nursed back to health by Isaac. While Jake follows the clues into a labyrinth of hatred, sordid crimes and missing money he becomes attached to an eight year old orphaned boy named Andy and falls in love with Isaac’s sister, Alice. After being alone for so long with no hope or care for what tomorrow might bring, Jake finds it difficult to accept these new emotional attachments.
Jake believes in Justice, but before he had only his own life on the line. When Andy is kidnapped and almost killed, Jake knows the killers will do anything to stop him. In order to protect Alice and Andy, he must break their hearts and leave them and North Dakota behind.
Jake knows he’ll be back. So do the killers. Trap and counter trap are laid. Jake knows there will be graves. He just doesn’t know who will be in them.

Kellan's Dragons
Book One in the Dragon Wars series
Author: Antonia Tiranth
ISBN: 978-0-9865875-3-5
Price: $3.50
Pages: 77

Kellan Teague, an orphan, is whisked away from the boarding school for psions by Dr. Olivia Hutchins to take part in a military organization called The Program. She awakes to find that she has been Linked, psychically bonded to a dragon named Jericho. Jericho doesn't seem very happy to be Linked and does everything he can to push Kellan away.
One of the few people to show her kindness is a guard known to her only as Drake.
Kellan soon finds out that both Jericho and Drake have secrets, secrets that hold the key to her past.

Winter's Soul
Author: Patricia Harrington
Genre: Gothic Mystery
ISBN: 978-1-926931-05-0
Price: $2.50
Pages: 31

All of her life, Elizabeth Sidham, 20, has dreamed of one day marrying into one of
Britain’s elite families. It had been Elizabeth’s mother’s wish, too, even to her dying day.
When George Arbuthnot invites Elizabeth to a dinner dance at his family’s manor house, she believes that finally, her dream might come true—for he “belongs.” He is “one of them”, a member of the British Peerage.
George courts Elizabeth, encouraged and guided by his domineering mother, Catherine Arbuthnot. She is determined that he produce an heir—albeit that he has a predilection, one such that he might never marry. But that is a subject, neither mother nor her only son talk about. At his Mother’s coaching and insistence, George woos Elizabeth and the two are married.
After their honeymoon, the couple move into Heathwood Manor, the ancestral home. George’s best friend, William, who is always in the background and often present, promises to “always be a support.” And he is, to both George and Elizabeth.
But so, too, is Catherine, who still controls George’s life. She is eager for him and his new bride, to produce an heir. And dutifully, within the year, the couple have a baby, Young Will.
The birth is difficult, and Catherine, soon takes control, insisting her young, daughter-inlaw keep to her bed. Catherine busily begins making plans for her grandson, the schools he will attend, the life he must live. It matters not what the couple want.
Catherine knows best.
George and Elizabeth feel helpless at the domineering mother and mother-in-law’s
plans. But George’s friend and secret lover, William, knows he can’t stand by and let his surrogate family suffer. He has promised himself he will be there for them.... always. And he makes plans to fulfil this promise.

A Wing and a Prayer
Author: Ginger Simpson
Genre: Romance Suspense
Pages: 19
ISBN: 978-1-926931-14-2
E-book price: $0.99

First Impressions aren’t always what they seem. Just ask Callie Corwin.
On a 747, Callie Corwin, buckles up for her first day as a flight attendant. The full jet carries two passengers who stand out from the others, but for totally different reasons.
The handsome cowboy promises to be a pleasant distraction from her performance
anxiety, but the dark-skinned gentleman a few rows back sends her up her hackles.
She’s been trained on how to recognize a terrorist, and he fits the very description. Will she see jolly old England or the bottom of the sea?

Flying Kite, Crashing Ship
Author: Krista D. Ball
Genre: Sci-fi
Pages: 24
ISBN: 978-1-926931-30-2
E-book price: $2.50

Crashing Time Ship.
The Space Commission hot on her trail.
French spies and flying kites.
For Dr. Sally Pescan, this can’t be good.

The Oak King's Daughter
Author: Emily Pikkasso
Genre: Fantasy Erotica
Price: $1.99
Pages: 19
Warning: Naughty but Nice--Erotica- contains moderate
graphic sexual content. M-F

The Oak King's Daughter is a Romance Fantasy. Dara, the Oak King's daughter, is in love with someone who her father deems unsuitable for her. Tinne, the court mage, is not worthy of his daughter in the eyes of the Oak King. Secrets swirl around the mysterious mage. Is he master of the events set in motion or merely a pawn?
Dara decides to risk everything, including her father’s wrath, to run away with her lover,they succeed and Dara surrenders herself to Tinne, only to discover that the mage is more than what he seems.

The Lighthouse
Author: Kat Holmes
Genre: Paranormal Mystery Romance Erotica
Pages: 123
ISBN: 978-1-926931-18-0
Price: $5.50

When Rachel Westmont inherits a lighthouse from an aunt she didn’t even know she
had, she’s overjoyed. The news couldn’t have come at a better time. Newly divorced from a self-serving doctor, the change of scenery is just what she needs. So she packs up and leaves California for a little island off the coast of Maine.
Rachel falls in love with both Star Island and the beautiful lighthouse and cottage she’s inherited. But, odd things begin to happen right from the first day. Cold chills permeate the cottage and books fly off the shelves. And someone seems to be playing pranks on her.
But when the ante gets upped and someone tries to kill her, Rachel must turn to hunky local sheriff Craig Lewis for protection. Now bodies are turning up, people are getting
hurt, and Rachel is starting to suspect her aunt didn’t die a natural death. Can Craig stop a killer from claiming Rachel as their next victim? A little help from a ghost may be in order.

Ghostly Passions
Author: Delilah K. Stephans
Genre: Paranormal Romance - Naughty but Nice!
Pages: 22
ISBN: 978-1-926931-25-8
E-book price: $1.99

Devlin Ruark has been trapped in the same house for 230 years. He's faced a British hangman, numerous paranormal researchers, but he doesn't know what to do with the newest researcher.
Determined to prove that ghost do exist, Druscilla Hutchinson has returned to the house where she saw her first ghost. With the Electromagnetic Particle Scanner she developed she hopes to give a ghost a more substantial form.
When the EMP Scanner produces an unusual side effect, Devlin and Druscilla have to decide whether to talk or take advantage of the situation.

Big Girls Don't Cry Wolf
Author: Kay Dee Royal
Genre: Paranormal Erotica Romance
Pages: 64
ISBN: 978-1-926931-15-9
E-book price: $3.50

After the tragic loss of her twin sister, Brea works hard to prove herself worthy of her adoptive parent’s extra attention. She focuses on the success of the rustic resort her parents deeded to her.
Priorities change when sexy twin wolves in human form walk into Brea’s life.
A dangerous rogue abducts her, but whom, if anyone comes to her rescue?


Each month MuseItUp Publishing offers a FREE sampler of our new releases. This is a condensed version.  The actual sampler contains an excerpt and information about the author.

In our BOOKSTORE you will notice on all of our upcoming books there is a NOTIFY ME on the cart icon. Click on it, add your email address, and as soon as one of your favorite author’s books is released you will receive an announcement.

Consider joining our READERS GROUP and have a chance to be one of our monthly winners of a FREE e-book. All you have to do is join our discussions, ask our authors questions, join in the fun, that’s it.

From all of us at the Muse
We’d like to wish you
May 2011 bring you health, happiness, and success!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Sunday, December 26, 2010

The Saddest Day of the me!

My favorite time of the year is between Thanksgiving and Christmas.  I have always loved decorating, and I love listening to Christmas music. My first husband used to tease me that the tree was up the moment Halloween passed.  That wasn't quite accurate, but close to true.

I suppose I always strive to make the season last as long as possible.  Of course times have changed as have some people I thought loved me but obviously didn't/don't.  I generally take down all the decorations on the 26th because the forlorn tree makes me sad. 

As dear family members have died, I've been fortunate enough to find the spirit of the season sparkling in the eyes of my grandson, Spencer.  Unlike other children who unwrap clothing and roll their eyes, my baby finds delight in every gift he opens.  Even without prompting, he'll throw his arms around my neck...and Papa's, and thank us for whatever we've given him.  We can all take a lesson from him.  It's truly not the gift but the love and thought that went into it.  I have no idea where he got such wonderful manners, but he exemplifies what I wanted to see in my children but never quite achieved.  I know for a fact he didn't learn from his parents.  *lol*

To add to my joy this year, Tennessee got the white Christmas they haven't had since least anything that stayed on the ground and made the season truly special.  The fact that I was financially able (due to Papa working his butt off) to meet Spencer's gift list, made me even happier.  I think I know how Santa Claus feels.  Yes...I still believe.  As I watched Polar Express by myself at 2:00 Christmas morning, I know I will always be able to hear the ringing of the Christmas bell.  I think Papa will hear it, too.  When I first met him, he said he detested all holidays, Christmas especially because it had become so commercialized.  I've tried to create some new memories for him to replace those he didn't have as a child, and when he told me that this was his best Christmas ever...and not for the gifts, I wiped away a few tears of joy. But, it stands to reason  from my point of view, the sun would come out on the 26th and start melting away the special snowfall.

I give thanks to the Lord for keeping me in good health and letting me stay around to make a difference in my grandson's life.  I thank him for a husband who treats Spencer as his own, and for the excitement I feel in my heart as I look forward to next December. In the meantime, Happy New Year to all.  Now comes my countdown to Christmas 2011.

Now back to my usual routine of shameless promotion of my newest releases, with another coming on January 1.  Woo Hoo.  December will be here again before I know it.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

The Reason for the Season

I can't believe today is the 23rd of December.  I still have Halloween candy left.  How can it be?  Just another example of how time slips by without warning.

My blog is going to sit empty for a few days as I have been blessed with a head cold on top of having cataract surgery in my left eye.  Putting in three different drops four times a day sucks, but I have to remind myself that having my vision improved is almost the best gift ever!  I get to repeat the process next Tuesday, but it's relatively painless for the awesome reward.  The operation takes fifteen minutes tops, and in a few weeks, I won't need glasses except for reading.  Medicine has come a long way.

The true best gift for me has been the friendships and fans I've found on the Internet.  As an author, I spend most of my time staring at this monitor, and beyond the screen, somewhere in cyberland, are wonderful people I hope one day to meet.  For your amazing kindness and caring, I wish all of you a very happy holiday and a joyous New Year.  Each of you have given me a gift that lasts far longer than ones I will unwrap.  Bless you and your families.

Years ago, I wrote a special poem for a friend.  Now I can share it with so many who mean so much to me.  Prescription?  Read and apply as needed.

Along life's way we chanced to meet when through my path you crossed.
If we hadn't met those years before, just think of all we'd lost. 

We've shared so much, you and me;
Our hopes, our dream, our fears.
We even managed to find the smiles that hid beneath the tears. 

We've grown together, that's for sure;
and even aged some too.
I guess this kind of friendship is what one would call true . 

So please remember one last thing, wherever you may be.
Nothing can change what we have shared.
We're a FRIENDSHIP, you and me!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

A Holiday Recipe from Lindsay Below

Peppermint Cookies


3/4 cup shortening (golden shortening, if you can find it)
3/4 cup lightly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated (white) sugar
1 egg
2 tbsp milk
1 tbsp vanilla
1 3/4 flour
1 tsp salt
3/4 tsp baking soda
1 cup baker’s milk chocolate, coarsely chopped into small chunks
2/3 cup crushed peppermint candy cane


Preheat oven to 375ºF.

Cream shortening and sugar. Add egg, milk, and vanilla. In a separate bowl, combine flour, salt, and baking soda. Gradually add to mixture. Stir in chocolate and peppermint.

Spoon 1-inch balls of dough onto greased cookie sheet (cooking spray works well for this).

Bake for 8-10 minutes.

Note: The candy canes can be substituted for different flavors, as can the chocolate. Feel free to experiment! Favorite flavor combinations of mine are raspberry candy cane with white chocolate chunks and caramel candy cane with dark chocolate chunks.

If you wish to add cocoa, change the sugar to 1 1/4 granulated (white) sugar and omit brown sugar. Add another tbsp milk to compensate.

Lindsay Below writes young adult fiction. Under L. K. Below, she writes romance and speculative fiction. Visit her at or on her blog at

Monday, December 20, 2010

Oh We Need a Little Christmas, Right this Very Minute...

 C'mon people, sing with me.  *lol*  Let's get the spirit going.  I can't carry a tune in a bucket but I do love to sing Christmas Carols.  Only the traditional ones though.  I hate when people try to put a soulful spin on Carols or the Star Stangled Banner. Let's leave tradition as it is.  I don't wanna hear, I'll be Home for Christmas, do wah, do wah, diddy.  *lol*

But I digress.  Today my author friend, Rebecca Ryals Russell has shown us how to transform a cabin in to Christmas magic.

"Triple R" not only decorates her home, but the beautiful cabin they own in Florida, and one that's available for renting.  Here is her beautiful Christmas Tree.  I do good to decorate one let alone two.

 Nothing like a wreath to welcome you inside.

If you'd like more information on this beautiful place to spend a vacation or just a few days to relax...I'm told it's beautiful all year round.  It even has its own website.

I'm thinking maybe I can get a discount.  *lol*  Thank you, Rebecca for sharing your Christmas decorations with us.  

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Good Tidings?

I'm going to break my own rule about posting anything related to the government and religion here. If I lose readers over this post, so be it.  It's time we all faced reality, and I'm not going to censor myself when I have dear friends  being tortured by a system they've supported with tax dollars their entire life.  I could promote a book, share a video, or a Christmas recipe, but frankly, I'm not in the mood today. I'm not asking you to share my viewpoints, rather just recognize that something stinks and it's right under our noses.

I'm finding it extremely hard to get into the Christmas spirit.  Oh, I'm excited for my grandsons (two more get added at Christmas), but saddened for those with less who search for some shred of happiness.  It's easy to say count your blessings when you have them, but when you are watching your belongings and feelings of safety slip away, how do you find the energy to count the good that remains?  I'm running out of positive things to say to my friends.

If someone told me I could make a wish on the Christmas Star this year, it would be that our dear friends and neighbors, people who have gone out of their way to help others and have been so good to us, would find jobs and gain back the self-respect and integrity they had.  I would add in a special request that my sister find an employer who accepts and realizes what a wonderful and productive worker she is, and appreciates just that. It's a shame when you have to swallow your pride, bite your tongue, and submit to the wishes of management just to keep a roof over your head.  I don't know which is worse...a crappy job that beats you into a ball of depression or no job at all which plummets you into depression's depths.

Our friends had jobs for quite a while...until the company was bought by a bigger company and the owner felt threatened by two people so close to management.  So, both were fired although they were fully qualified to continue to help the new company benefit.  Tennessee is an "at will" state, which pretty much means you can be screwed at any moment without any provocation.

  Now, the husband's unemployment has run out, and the government, who has the power to extend those benefits to keep them clinging to a thread of hope, is engaged in a pissing contest over the Democratic versus Republican viewpoint.  Isn't this just more of an indication that the two-party system continues to fail us...divide us as a nation?

In a time when so many are homeless, hopeless, and bordering on suicide to escape the stress, how can over 6000 earmarks totaling over eight billion dollars get anywhere near a bill to be passed?  When I watch my friends belongings disappear through sales or repossession, I get fighting mad.  Do we really need a Nikita Khrushchev memorial hiking trail?  Do we need money allocated to a memorial for the biggest pork-barrel spender ever--John Murtha?  I'm sorry that he passed, but he should have retired years ago like all others reaching retirement age.  Congress has become a place where elected officials stay until they gasp their last breath because God-forbid they have to live the life without their white-collar benefits.

My friend had a wonderful idea.  There is so much reality TV happening these days...shows like "Wife Swap."  How about developing a show called, "Life Swap."  An elected official has to switch places with someone suffering at the moment because of the economy.  While the "sufferer" goes to Congress and engages in useless rhetoric, the Congress person or Senator has to come live in the "sufferer's" shoes, try to eak out an existence on unemployment benefits...not counting when the benefits cease to exist.  I wonder how large the viewing audience would be for that?

So, now that I've expressed my feelings, I'm going to continue to search for a way to help my friends.  I'm not a wealthy person or I would give them the moon.  I'm a senior citizen so my time on earth is limited in years, but I fear for my children and grandson who have already been living life under the thumb of a government who cares more about who's right and who's wrong over what is human and real.

I pray that everyone reading this can find the real reason for Christmas, as I've just reminded myself.  It's only one day, set aside to be thankful for the gift given us so long along by God.  Somewhere, someone came up with the saying "God will provide," but I think we eventually have to learn to take care of ourselves just like our children do.  We can't rely on God for, strength, yes, but we have to become responsible for our actions or lack thereof.  Grow up America, and take a little off the Lord's shoulders.  If we all turn a blind eye to what is happening outside our cozy little piece of the US, then something is wrong.

  Help someone else have a Happy Holiday.  I plan to, although I'm not quite sure how at the moment.  I wish you all God's blessings...because yes, I do believe.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

It Goes On and On and On and On...

I used to consider myself successful at multi-tasking, but now I'm beginning to question my capabilities. The more I do, the more I have left to do.  How does that work? 

This morning I awoke to 300 emails, even though I'm on digest.  I skim the digests, but all I see in the subject line are: excerpt, promo, contest, new release.  OMG, it seems that everyone who was a "reader" when I first started this venture is now an author.  I spent several hours yesterday at Love Romance Cafe's big bash and anything I posted was lost in the avalanche of emails.  I pictured authors everywhere huddled at their computers, vying desperately for the attention of a "reader."  Yes, I know authors read, too.  I do, but I'm looking to tap into someone who isn't competition.  Is that selfish?  I don't think so. All who have books available are hoping to find the mother lode of readers and achieve a best-selling status.  Honestly, it's more like looking for the proverbial needle in a haystack.

When I got to my individual emails, I found the usual few word posts: Thank you, I'm sorry, I forgot, I'd like to blog, put me down, happy birthday, happy holidays, condolences, and of course, I'm blogging at ______today, please stop by.

As much as I want to support my fellow authors, if I visited every blog to which I've been invited, I would never get anything else done. So how logical am I if I expect my fellow authors to visit mine?

I've already given up Farmville on Facebook, taken a leave of absence from my critique group, gone on digest for most of my yahoo loops, and tried to find a new avenue of promotion on the Amazon Communities, only to be beaten to a pulp by some of the folks there who are very territorial.  It seems there are those who don't like authors who talk about their own work.  What's up with that?  If I don't, who will?  I still crave Farmville, but I'm staying strong.  I imagine my crops have all withered and died, and I've probably been reported for cruelty to my animals.  I'm sure my farm is generally in  bad repair, but there's no way I can have a look without wanting to fix everything.  At least I kicked the habit on my own and didn't need counseling.

Honestly, the towel is looking pretty good lately.  I've considered throwing it in a few times, or at least waving a white flag, but I'm too invested in my love of writing to quit.  I keep visiting shared links and viewing success stories written by authors who had sold hundreds if not thousands of copies on Kindle. I want to post that announcement just once.

I have several new releases in 2011, so maybe one of them will be my ticket to stardom... well at least a few sales.  :)

Monday, December 13, 2010

Christmas Memories - Roseanne Dowell

As I’ve said so often, there are so many memories from my past. Heck, when you get to be my age, there are tons of them. Besides all the ones from my childhood, there are ones from my early marriage, to ones with my children and grandchildren and now I’ll begin some with my great grandson. So which ones to write about? 

I remember growing up and my mother baking Christmas cookies beginning the day after Thanksgiving. Oh the delicious aromas coming from the kitchen. Of course we got to help. Later, she baked poppy seed and nut rolls and eventually the little bread balls we used for our traditional Christmas Eve dinner. 

On December 5th, we put our stockings out to celebrate the feast of St. Nicholas on December 6th. We’d find apples, oranges and small toys or combs and hair barrettes and maybe a harmonica or jacks.  We often put our tree up around that time also. Maybe that’s why Christmas is my favorite holiday. My parents, especially my mom made it special. It wasn’t just a day, Christmas was a season.
My older brothers and sisters were great about looking for gifts when my parents weren’t home. They often found them also. I remember one year, we had a sleeper couch with storage for blankets and pillows. Well, wouldn’t you know it, my brothers and sisters decided to open it when my parents were out for an evening. Lo and behold, they found a magnetic football game. We played for an hour or so, then my brothers packed it back in the box and put it back in the couch just the way they found it. I don’t know if my parents suspected or knew they found it.

Hubby and I got married November 24, 1962. We rented a two bedroom double and we had access to the attic. I stored some Christmas stuff up stairs, but I often used the steps for packages after I went Christmas shopping. 

Just before Christmas, hubby lost his wedding ring. We were both upset and I thought about buying him another one, but I really couldn’t afford it. He’d have to go ringless until I could replace it.
One day, I pulled my packages out to begin wrapping. Lo and behold in one of them, I found hubby’s wedding ring. I guess some kids never grow up and snoop even as adults. I almost wrapped it up for him, but I couldn’t hold a secret that long. Besides, I wanted to pick on him about snooping, so I gave it to him that night. 

I had a great time when he asked where I found it.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Gifts come in all sizes...

I was flipping through this month's issue of Reader's Digest, and there's a full page listing the worst gifts ever received.  Among them:  a toilet seat, a membership to a weight loss program, a mini-kini for a 250 pound man, the same gift that person gave to the giver the year before, a sweater someone had worn and stained, and notice of a contribution to a charity the person didn't support.

Although we are supposed to adhere to "it is best to give than to receive," I think we all pretty much feel a tad disappointed if we get nothing or open a gift that clearly indicates no thought was given to receiver. 

As an author, I'm finding some of my gifts don't come in boxes--wrapped or not.  As evidenced by the amazing list of authors who frequent my blog, I am totally blessed with good friends and good spirit.  The recent tragedy suffered by a fellow author pulled everyone even closer as offers for prayers went up all over the world.  Through the Internet, we can knock on doors and ask for help, and it seems it's always cheerfully given.  We've created a Christmas miracle with our prayers and healing vibes.  What greater gift can we give?

I don't think most people understand the love and affection shared by people who have never met one another.  I know I wouldn't have if I hadn't become an author and met and adopted all my writing sisters and brothers.  There's a connection there that no one can describe.  I thank everyone who is part of my connection.  Without you, my world would be a lonely place.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Making My List and Checkin' It Twice

Yes, my halls are as decked as they're gonna get.  I love my little tree, and I've spread out a few other festive pieces in places to show my spirit, unfortunately, I'm now contemplating dusting.  Is it worth the time it takes to move them all and put them back, or if I should just wait until after Christmas?  I can pretend it's a dusting of snow.  It's not like I have frequent guests.

My husband asked me what I want for Christmas, but I don't think he can find what I really need on a shelve or department store display.  I'm still holding out for the "lock and load" know the one with adjustable straps that stay put?  You'd think if we can put a man on the moon, this isn't too much to ask.

Oh, and I just have to share this picture with you. That's me on my first birthday.  Back then, the rolls on my thighs were cute.  How come fat is okay on babies?  Anyhow...through Facebook, my sister found a long lost cousin, and she sent me an envelope filled with old photos she had hung onto, most likely from her mother's collection. 

It was a very emotional trip down memory lane, as I looked at pictures of my Mom and Dad and my paternal grandmother who I last saw when I was thirteen and we made a trip to the east coast.  It was the last time I saw her, and my memories of her are very dim.  Grandma Alice was blind by that time.  I remember how she poured my glass of soda, using her finger to tell when the glass was full.  I wish I had known her better and asked a million questions about my Dad's side of the family.  He and his siblings are all gone now and we all have unanswered questions.

 I was working that horse, wasn't I? 

Oh yeah, I just remembered what I want for Christmas.  I want all my friends to go over to Amazon, download my First Degree Innocence for $2.99 and help my royalty donation to Autism to be more than a buck fifty.  :)

C' know you wanna read it.  Here's a teaser:

Carrie Lang’s sheltered life ends with a prison sentence for involvement in a bank robbery. Her arrest comes on the day she’s called in sick and stayed inside, so she has no explanation how an eye-witness describes her in great detail, down to the make and model of her car. A terrible mistake’s been made, and her insistence of innocence falls on deaf ears, even among her fellow inmates. A plan for retribution is brewing, and naïve Carrie finds herself smack dab in the middle of an evil scheme concocted by the prison bully.  A ten year sentence seems mild when she’s threatened with death for refusing to participate. Can Carrie find a way out of this horrible nightmare, or is she destined to spend her days locked in terror, isolation, and the cold gray interior of prison walls?

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Rebecca Ryals Russell Shares Her Holiday Spirit...

My friend and author, Rebecca Ryals Russell has so nicely shared some pictures of her holiday decorations.  I'm awed by the number she sent and I've picked only a few to share.  She also has a beautiful cabin and promises to send pictures from there when she's decorated.  I can't imagine decorating more than one house.  She has an abundance of Christmas Spirit, it's easy to see.  Enjoy...I know I did.   

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Young Adult Reads Make Great Holiday Gifts

Rumors and Whispers: Have You Heard?
By Lindsay Below

High school can be cruel. Every little detail of your lives seems to be floating around and if you’re the least bit different…well, then you’re the talk of the town!

Katie from my latest release, Head Over Hand-Bought Heels, has exactly that problem. The moment she changes her look from frumpy and bookish to semi-cool, her “friends” at school start to pick her apart. But even worse -- soon after, they move onto another target. And this girl, they tear apart because they think she might be a lesbian.

About then, Katie’s heart starts to thunder in her ears in that nervous way I’m sure you’ve all experienced at one point or another. Why? Because only days before, she went on a date with her friend Courtney. If her friends at school discover she’s a lesbian, will they exclude her, too?

Rumors, whether they’re true or false, can tear a person to the ground. They can make you feel alone and without friends.

All the same, I’m going to toss my own rumor into the hat: Head Over Hand-Bought Heels is now available in ebook! And in honor of its release, I’m hosting a contest. Want to win the book? All you have to do is comment here or at any other of my blog tour stops (the list can be found at my website at by December 17th at 11:59PM EST. I’ll be announcing the winner on my site, so be sure to check back.

And that’s one rumor, I’ll encourage you to spread! ;)

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Continuation of Impounded Love

Continuing my short story from New Love Stories Magazine from the Nov/Dec 2009 issue.

Gwen’s hands felt clammy on the steering wheel.  Traffic was light on the back country road to Dickson.  Now that everything had sunk in, she wondered how her truck ended up in such a rural community.  Her stomach clenched and rumbled.  Nerves and breakfast weren’t a good mix so she’d passed on her morning meal. 
When a city limits sign proclaimed she’d arrived in Dickson, she scanned both sides of the street, looking for the police department.  She parked in front of an old brick building that looked more like a library.  Her brief conversation with Sergeant Calhoun didn’t provide any new leads.  The pickup had been found on the side of the road with a flat tire and towed to the impound lot.  She was given directions to where the Toyota was kept and allowed to view it before paying her fines.  Pain stabbed at her disappointed heart as she drove the two blocks to an old gas station where more than a dozen vehicles were parked.  She used the code the sergeant had given her to open the lock on the gate. In the far corner, she spied her truck.  She walked to it on leaden legs.
Tears filled blurred her eyes as she opened the driver’s door and gazed inside.  The seats and floor were dirty—littered with trash and remnants of how he’d lived for the past month.  His scent lingered in the air.  The fence surrounding the impound lot gave her an eerie feeling.  She shivered and summoned memories of happier times to fill her mind.  This wasn't how things were supposed to end.  For years he’d been her caretaker when she was ill, her partner, her lover, her best friend.  Why couldn’t she save him?  Why couldn’t her love be his salvation?
Gwen reflected on all she had left of their relationship—the collection of teddy bears he’d bought her over the years: one holding a Valentine Heart, one wearing a St. Patrick’s Day vest, and the big white panda he'd brought back after he’d disappeared for three days the last time.  That one had been the harbinger of what was yet to come, with its furry paw raised in a farewell wave. But the clue went unnoticed in her joy to have Brad home.
 Shaking the negative image from her mind, she returned to picking through the rubbish on the floorboard. She fingered a tiny ring, cheap and discolored, but engraved with the letter “G”—her initial.  Her throat burned with restrained sobs as she tossed it back, wondering where it came from and why he’d had it.  She didn't need one more thing to remind her of him. What she needed was to forget.
Stoically, she forced herself to continue the inspection, hoping for, yet knowing there would be no clues to answer her many questions. She heaved a deep sigh and pulled the seat forward.  Beneath more refuse, she saw a small bear.  Its fur was dirty, its tiny face contorted from being smashed beneath weight heavier than its own.  She picked it up and cuddled it, hoping that in some way her embrace would transcend the atmosphere and let her husband know she still cared about what happened to him. A tear trickled down her cheek.
Should she throw the bear away?   What use was it?  Each time she looked at it, she would only remember no matter how close you hold someone and love them, there is always something stronger that can pull them away. This tiny stuffed creature was like Brad in many ways.  Once it was clean and bright and brought a smile to a face. But burdened by a weight heavier than it could manage, it became dirty, unrecognizable and not quite so loveable.  She could launder it, but that would only take care of the surface. She had washed his clothes and kept his home clean, yet his problems were so deeply imbedded she couldn’t fix them.
There was nothing in the truck she wanted.  Gwen put the bear back where she found it and gently closed the door. She didn’t need one more piece of memorabilia, one more link to heartache and bad memories.  Instead, she resolved to hold onto images of a healthier and happier man and know she had truly tried to make things work.
 A momentary feeling of defeat washed over her, and then a realization dawned.  She hadn’t lost. He had loved her as much as a troubled man could love, and she’d cherished him in return.  The agony was in knowing the drugs had won the battle, but strength came in realizing she won the war.  She could finally let him go, praying he found himself and happiness again…somewhere, someday.   Surely the pain would linger for a time, but a weight lifted from her burdened shoulders as she walked through the gate, leaving behind the truck and all it represented.  The City of Dickson could donate the vehicle to charity for all she cared.  She wiped away the last tear she planned to shed over Brad and, squaring her shoulders, walked back to her car.
Gwen hung the last piece of tinsel on the Christmas tree.  Although not much in the mood, she forced herself to drag out the decorations and focus on the spirit of the holiday.  In an attempt to move ahead, she’d invited co-workers and neighbors over for a party.  Maybe she couldn’t face her family with the truth, but she’d confided to a few friends that she and Brad were finished.  The reasons why weren’t important… and actually, she didn’t know herself what drove Brad to drugs.  She still struggled to close the chapter in that book.
The log in the fireplace crackled and popped as fiery fingers stretched up the chimney.  Gwen lit the pine-scented candles on the mantle to provide the smell missing from her fake tree.  She’d spent all of Saturday preparing food and getting things ready for tonight.  She stood back and surveyed the room.  The tree shone in radiant beauty and the garland around the doors and windows added the perfect festive touch. 
She glanced at her wristwatch and realized the guests would be arriving in less than an hour.  She’d already showered, so all she needed was to change clothes and fix her hair and makeup.  As she turned to go upstairs, someone knocked at the door. 
“Oh, brother.  Who could that be?”  She crossed the room and opened the door.
 Her heart seized.
“Hi, Gwen.”   Brad flashed a sheepish grin.
She stood rooted to the spot, her breath failing her.  She moved her mouth but no words materialized.
“I’m sure you weren’t expecting me.”  He stepped forward and pulled her into his arms.  “Darling, I have so much to tell you… so much to explain.  Please give me one last chance, and I promise you won’t regret it.”  His clothes were clean and he smelled of fresh laundry soap. 
Her pain from the past months bubbled to the surface and steeled her resolve.  She pushed him away.  “I’m happy to see you’re alive, but I don’t think you have anything I want to hear.”
He took hold of her hand.  “I totally understand how you feel, and I’d act the same way in your shoes.  But…”
“No buts.”  She jerked free.  “You’ve put me through hell.  All this time, I’ve had no idea if you were dead or alive.  You couldn’t bother to pick up a phone and call me? Now you have the nerve to show up on my doorstep and expect me to act like nothing ever happened?”
He lowered his head and stared at the ground.  “I couldn’t call.  At least not after I hit rock bottom and accepted help. Before that, everything is a drug-hazed blur.”
The cold air pouring through the open door sent a shiver through her.  His statement piqued her curiosity, and she couldn’t turn him away without hearing his explanation.  “Come in.  It’s freezing out there.”
She perched on the edge of her chair and gazed up at him.  “What do you mean bottomed out?”
“May I?”  He motioned to the sofa.  When she nodded, he removed his jacket, draped it over the couch back, and sat.  He took a long breath.  “Where should I start?  Let’s see….”
Gwen listened in earnest as Brad revealed the whole story.  How he’d given in to the drug high until he ran out of money, begged on street corners for a fix, and finally landed in jail.  During his incarceration, he suffered a minor stroke and found himself hospitalized.  A visiting pastor invited him to accept the Lord and an offer of help through a local drug treatment center.  Brad had agreed and spent all this time getting clean and sober.  One of the caveats of the program had been the stipulation that there would be no contact with the outside world.  He’d passed on the opportunity to phone her beforehand because he didn’t want to get her hopes up until he knew he had defeated his demons.  Here he sat, claiming he had.
“I don’t expect you to forgive me.”  He leaned forward, resting his elbows on his knees. “I’ve put you through the wringer.  It makes me feel better to know that I’ve apologized.  It’s part of my program…to make amends with those I’ve wronged.” 
Tears burned the back of Gwen’s eyes.  She’d never stopped loving him, just trusting him.  How could she get her faith back based on one story and an apology, no matter how convincing?  “Like I said, Brad, I’m relieved to see you alive and well. I cried myself to sleep too many nights wondering where you were and how you fared.  I appreciate your apology…
“I understand.  I’m not asking for another chance. I’m only requesting that you let me prove to you that I’ve changed.  Something different happened this time.  I realized how much I had to lose: my life, you…”  He paused for a moment, his gaze locking with hers. “It dawned on me that without you, life wasn’t worth living.”
Brad’s face looked drawn, and he was much thinner, but he still had that tall, dark and handsome appeal that drew Gwen to him.  
His words warmed her heart, but didn’t heal the wound.  She wanted to believe him but needed time.  She nibbled at her bottom lip and flashed back to all the broken promises, the times she forgave only to be hurt and disappointed again.
He glanced around the room.  “Everything looks so nice.”  His gaze rested on the dining room table and the festive plates, glasses and bowls of snacks.  “Are you expecting someone?”
“Yes, I’ve invited a few people over for a holiday celebration.”  Gwen wondered how she’d explain his presence, and hoped maybe she wouldn’t have to.  “Would you like to stay?”  She held her breath for his response.
“No, thank you.  I don’t believe I’m quite ready to face the world yet, but I would like to come by on Christmas Day and bring you a gift.”
A silent whoosh of air fluttered past her lips.  “That would be nice.”
Brad stood.  “Is one o’clock okay?”
As he slid his muscular arms through his jacket sleeves, Gwen recalled the times he’d held her and how wonderful it felt.  Although she wanted to fall into his embrace and forget everything that had happened, she resolved to take baby steps.  “One is fine. Would you like to have Christmas dinner with me?”
“I’d love it.  I always look forward to your honey-baked ham with mashed potatoes and gravy.” He trailed his hand down her arm and smiled.  “Goodnight, Gwen.”
He opened the door and stepped outside, but turned.  “I do love you.”
She covered her heart to quell the pounding in her chest.
 His eyes shone with unshed tears making her want to soothe him until his hurt went away.  She stepped forward yet hesitated. 
Brad’s gaze lifted to the mistletoe hanging over her head.  He leaned in and placed a gentle kiss on her lips, then stepped back, snuggled into his jacket and zipped it to his chin.  “You’ll see. I’m a changed man.  From now on, the only drug in my life is going to be the love I feel for you. If I need a fix, I’ll steal a kiss.”  He turned and walked toward the street.
Gwen closed the door and slumped against it.  She touched her fingertips to her lips and smiled.  She hadn’t asked for a gift for Christmas, but it seemed Santa had come early.  She had a party to dress for, and now, a real reason to celebrate.
 The End
Don't forget to leave a comment for the drawing.  I'll pick on lucky person to receive a 2011 pocket/purse calendar complete with it's own pen.  :)

Friday, December 3, 2010

Impounded Love by Ginger Simpson

This time last year, Impounded Love was featured in New Love Stories Magazine.  It made their November/December issue because it has sort of a Christmas theme included.

I'll be doing half of it today and the other half tomorrow, so stop by and leave a comment.  One lucky winner will receive a really nice 2011 purse/pocket calendar.  Without further gift to you.  I hope you enjoy this story I wrote for my sister.

Impounded Love by Ginger Simpson

Gwen Spencer scanned her cheery living room and sighed.  It had lost its appeal.  All the time she’d spent decorating in her favorite southwestern motif now seemed a waste.  Snuggled in her sandstone-colored easy chair, with knees bent and feet tucked beneath her, she stared at the telephone.  If wishes came true, it would ring at any second and she’d hear Brad’s voice. 
She raised her gaze and peered through the window. An overcast sky hid the sun, and gray shrouded the fall-colored trees in the front yard. A few leaves drifted to the ground, carried by a light breeze. Within weeks, the branches would be bare—as empty as her heart felt at the moment.  The visual hint of the late October chill made her shiver.  Where was Brad?  Was he warm and safe?  The fire she’d started earlier flickered bright beyond the hearth and kept the room toasty.  She hoped her husband had a coat.  Tennessee nights were cold this time of the year.
The silence overwhelmed her and, with a sigh, she stretched out her legs, stood, slipped her feet into her fuzzy slippers, and shuffled to the stereo.  She flipped through the plastic CD covers housing her music collection, the ones she and Brad had selected together.  She paused and let them fall back into a neat row.  The songs held recollections of happier times.  Today marked ten years since she and Brad had married, and she never expected to spend such a special occasion alone. Favorite tunes would only enhance her pain.  She forced a smile, remembering what someone once told her.  “If you play country music backwards, you get your dog back, your house back, your man back, your life back.”  
If only it was that simple.  Her heart clenched with fear and the momentary glee faded.  This time Brad wasn’t coming home.  He’d been gone for over a month.  The personal time she’d requested from work had almost expired, and it was time to get on with life.  Time to get back to the job that would sustain her financially.
 With a shrug, she wandered into the kitchen and opened the bottle of wine she’d purchased a few months ago for their special day.  She filled a glass and went back to her favorite spot in the living room.  She plopped down and took a long, slow draw from her goblet.  She favored a light, fruity taste over the more bitter offerings.
“Happy friggin’ anniversary,” she muttered and raised her glass into the air.  Her gaze drifted back to the phone.  Did he even know what day it was?
She decided to watch television and reached for the remote.  The TV screen flashed to life with the evening report and more bad news:  Floods, murders, rapes.  Was there no end to life’s disappointments?  Her mind wandered, and the anchor’s voice became only a murmur in the background.
Visions of her wedding flashed before her. She’d been the happiest bride in the world.  Brad stepped into her life to fill a void left by another man.  She never dreamed of finding love a second time, let alone discovering someone who treated her like a queen. Although divorced for two years between weddings, saying vows to Brad felt like the first time. 
What had gone wrong?  Somehow during the years, drugs became the other woman and held more appeal than Gwen did.  When had he started taking them?  And why didn’t she see it?  The first five years were blissful, but afterwards, telltale signs were there. She guessed she chose to ignore them.  Because he always came home, she accepted his pitiful excuses for his short disappearances.  Relieved to see him, she never doubted his sincerity. Until the truth became crystal clear when a packet of pills fell from his pants pocket on laundry day.
When questioned, Brad at first denied they were his, but then relented.  He promised he only used methamphetamines to get through a stressful time at work and swore his problem had nothing to do with her. Funny. Then why did it his drug addiction spill over and make her life miserable?   He eventually couldn’t hold a job, or didn’t want to.  His excuses always made him the victim.
Gwen lowered her head and grasped the back of her neck to ease the growing tension.  All this time and no word, when would she get a clue and move on?  His dependency had a bigger hold on him than she ever could.  If he gave a damn about her, he would have at least called before today to say he was okay.
She reached for her wine glass and took another gulp.  The smooth sweetness passed through her lips with ease, but struck a sour cord.  She clenched the slender stem and gazed into what remained of the rosy liquid.  A grimace tightened her mouth.  Was drinking pink Chablis to ease her pain that much different than Brad taking pills?  She stood, marched back into the kitchen in bare feet, and emptied the wineglass and bottle contents down the drain. Faith in God would be her strength, not alcohol or drugs.
She started upstairs for a hot shower. The phone rang.  Her heart seized, but she patted her chest and took a deep breath.  If she answered, she’d probably find it was her mom.  She called every day, but not usually this early.  Still, she knew Gwen wasn’t working right now.
“Mrs. Spencer?” The man’s voice on the other end wasn’t familiar.
“Yes.”  She held her breath.
“This is Officer Gilliam from the Dickson police department.  I believe we have a vehicle in our impound lot that is registered to you.”
Gwen exhaled.  “Is…is it a white pickup?”  The words stuck in her throat, but she pushed them out.  Brad drove the Toyota she’d purchased before they married.  She’d never bothered to re-register it in both their names.
“Yes.  A 1999 Toyota long bed.  You should make arrangements to pick it up as soon as possible as fees are assessed everyday it’s here.”
It was her truck, and fees were the least of her worries.  “Why do you have it?  Did you arrest…”   Her knees wobbled and she sank into her chair.
“I don’t know the particulars, ma’am.  I’m just the person in charge of notifying the owners.  When you come to claim it, be prepared to pay whatever fines are owed.  We don’t accept checks, but will take money orders and credit cards.”
“How could I possibly bring a money order if I don’t know the amount?”  She vented her frustration on the wrong person and immediately bit her lip.  “I’m sorry, that was rude.”
“No problem.  I should have told you each day your truck remains impounded, we charge one hundred dollars.   Since it’s taken me some time to track you down, we’ve already had your vehicle for ten days.  Are you aware you haven’t changed your address information with DMV and that your registration has expired?”
“Yes, and I’m sorry about that.  I guess it slipped my mind.” Her thoughts raced with what might have happened to Brad.
“Well, before we can release your property, you’ll have to pay the renewal and accumulated fees when you come in.”
“How do I find out what happened to the person who drove the vehicle?”   She balanced the phone on her shoulder and wrung her hands.
“You can either call back tomorrow and ask to speak with Sergeant Calhoun, or come in and see him personally.”
Gwen thanked the man and hung up. Her mind was a whirlwind of worries.  If Brad didn’t have a vehicle, how was he getting around?  Was he in jail?  The hospital?  Dead?  A cold chill peppered her with goose bumps.  Brad couldn’t be dead, but she wouldn’t know until tomorrow.
Gwen felt as though she’d barely gone to sleep when her alarm sounded.  She slapped at the button atop the clock and struggled to open her eyes.  She hadn’t mentioned anything about Brad to her mother when she called.  Everyone in the family assumed they were doing well in their new home state, and Gwen didn’t want anyone to know that her second attempt at marriage was another train wreck.  She glanced at the empty pillow next to her, wishing it was all a bad dream.
Most of her night had been spent tossing and turning, trying to find answers to all her questions.  She didn’t remember what time she’d finally fallen asleep, but recalled seeing strands of light creeping through the blinds.
She stood, stretched her hands high over her head and rocked from side to side.  Her spine crackled and released some of the pent-up stress.  A visit to the police department didn’t count high on her list of favorite things to do.  They might confirm her worst fears, and although she vowed to get on with her life, she wasn’t ready for bad news about a man she still loved.   Gwen dropped her arms to her side, and with shoulders slumped, headed for the hot shower that’d gotten lost in last night’s melee.
Afterwards, she dressed and stood in front of the mirror and pulled a hairbrush through her tangled locks.  She was barely forty and already strands of gray frosted her brown hair.  God, she didn’t want to grow old alone.  Her eyes misted with tears, and she decided to forgo makeup for sunglasses.  Her room brightened.  Evidently yesterday’s clouds had moved on… at least those in the sky.

To be continued...

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