Wednesday Writers Christmas Reads–The Texan’s Surprise Return by Jolene Navarro

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Welcome to Wednesday Writers.

Christmas is coming and there’s nothing I like better during the holiday season than a good Christmas romance (or movie). So, on Wednesdays and Thursdays I’m filling out the year with a variety of Christmas romance book posts. Today’s guest is Jolene Navarro. She’ll be sharing her book The Texan’s Surprise Return and a bit about her family’s Christmas tradition.

BTW, Jolene, you’re talking about one of my favorite foods–TAMALES!

Hola from the Texas Hill Country. I’m Jolene Navarro and I’m honored to be visiting today. As a writer I love pulling from family traditions. My stories are a celebration of family. In my current release, The Texan’s Surprise Return, not only do they eat tamales on Christmas Eve, they make dozens upon dozens on the Friday after Thanksgiving.

It’s one of my favorite scenes. The hero is trying to reconnect with his family after a near death experience that created a brain injury.

Four generations (including his triple sons) gather in the kitchen to create an assembly line as they make each tamale. This is a common holiday event in the Navarro house.

Growing up my family didn’t make our own tamales, but when we gathered for Christmas Eve the main attraction was the tamales. Growing up, I thought everyone celebrated Christmas Eve with tamales.

Since then I learned it was more of a Texas thing. But I still take our traditions and customs for granted. That was brought home recently when I created a potluck list for my writing group, I included tamales (by the dozen) to sign up to bring. They are listed as such: Tamales doz.

One of our new members asked what that meant. She is from far up the east coast. This is the answer she received from another member: “1 dozen tamales…it’s considered a holiday food around here. Forget drugs. A good tamale maker/supplier is worth their weight in gold. LOL (Although, HEB works in a pinch).”

This is true. The best tamales I’ve ever eaten were made by my husband’s family, led by his mother. She made spreading the masa onto the corn husk look easy (it’s not). They made them with a mix of beef and pork (Fresh from the ranch). They can come stuffed with chicken and bean too.

The best and the most fun way to make them is with generations working as a team and lots of laughter.

Do you have a custom or tradition that you family celebrates that the rest of the country is not aware of? Maybe you are from Texas. Do you celebrate with tamales?

 

The Texan’s Surprise Return.

by Jolene Navarro

His greatest Christmas gifts…
“Is that you? You’re…you’re alive.” An unforgettable family reunion for the holidays.

For three years, Xavier De La Rosa’s family thought he was dead. Now Xavier is back home in Texas for Christmas and finds a wife he can’t remember and adorable triplets he never knew existed. Can Xavier reclaim his memories and the love he left behind…before he returns to the job that nearly killed him?

 

 

 

You can find Jolene’s book at Amazon

 

About the Author

Jolene, a seventh-generation Texan, knows, as much as the world changes, people stay the same. Good and evil. Vow-keepers and heart breakers. Jolene married a vow-keeper who showed her that dancing in the rain never gets old.
Her life, much like her stories, is filled with faith, family, laughter, dirty dishes and all of life’s wonderful messiness. She loves spending time with her four kids, and can be found at jolenenavarrowriter.com

https://business.facebook.com/jolenenavarrowriter

https://www.instagram.com/jolenenavarro

Tasty Tuesdays–New Release: Recipes to Create Holidays Extraordinaire from Sloane Taylor

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Today On Tasty Tuesdays, I’ve got a new release from cook and author Sloane Taylor, just in time for some holiday cooking! I’ve sampled recipes from her other books. You won’t want to miss this holiday cookbook.

New from Toque & Dagger Publishing an exciting cookbook filled with recipes perfect for celebrating life. Recipes to Create Holidays Extraordinaire, Book 3 in the Meals to Make Together series, is now available in e-book and paperback.

Liven up 2020 with this new cookbook. The 113 taste tempting recipes come together to celebrate 35 traditional, and far from typical, holidays with meals perfect for two or twenty. These complete menus are guaranteed to excite your taste buds and satisfy your most discriminating diner. Start a new tradition by inviting your family into the kitchen for holiday fun.

Entertain like royalty year-round on a working woman’s budget. No exotic or expensive products to buy. These delicious recipes use ingredients already on your kitchen shelves.

Recipes to Create Holidays Extraordinaire is a fun gift for every holiday celebration, hostesses, bridal showers, or the couple who wants to enjoy quality time together.

BUY LINKS

Sloane Taylor is an Award-Winning author with a second passion in her life. She is an avid cook and posts new recipes on her blog every Wednesday. The recipes are user friendly, meaning easy.

Taylor’s cookbooks, Date Night Dinners, Romantic Meals to Dine al Fresco, and Recipes to Create Holidays Extraordinaire are released by Toque & Dagger Publishing and available at all book vendors.

Excerpts from her books and free reads can be found on her website, blog, and her Amazon Author Page. Connect with Taylor on Facebook and Twitter.

Musings From A Writer’s Brain–Vanity, Vanity, all is Vanity by Catherine Castle

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Have you ever wondered about vanity plates? You know, those license plates on the back of vehicles that say something other than a string of numbers and letters. My first introduction to vanity plates was from Hollywood on the Hart to Hart television show. The two main characters, who were rich and married, had license plates that read HART 1 and HART 2. His and hers matching, so to speak. It always gave us a clue as to who we would see getting in trouble next. Lots of telegraphing went on in the story line in those old shows.

We see a lot of vanity plates on the road as we travel. I’m always asking myself if the drivers mean to make a statement about themselves or just want to be able to remember their license numbers more easily. After all, a catchy slogan is a lot easier to remember that a bunch of numbers and letters in random order.

Recently, I’ve been jotting down some of the more interesting plates. The hubby and I often comment on the messages we see displayed. Sometimes we have to say the letters a few times to get the gist of the plate when vowels are left out. Here’s a few of the more interesting ones we’ve seen.

 

  • OTTAMWAY—(outta my way) We saw this message on the plate of a car speeding down the highway a good ten miles over the limit. He dodged between 3 lanes of traffic and blew by a cop on the side of the road. Guess you know he really meant what his plate said.
  • 1 CUP –This plate was accompanied by a pink ribbon design. I feel certain a breast cancer survivor drives this car, and she letting the world know she’s a survivor. Good for her, I say.
  • GOOSE—Do you suppose the husband’s car had a vanity plate that said GANDER? Makes sense to me.
  • DENTPRO—This one had me wondering is he a professional at fixing dents? Or maybe a pro at getting dents? Or maybe a dentist? Could work for all three scenarios.
  • NVRYELD—(never yield) And he didn’t.
  • ANEYE4ANI—(an eye for an I) Pretty sure you don’t want to make this driver mad.
  • NOKTRNL—(nocturnal) My first thought when I saw this was “Vampire.” But the driver was out in the daytime. Guess that’s why all the darkened glass was needed.
  • OUTATME—(outta time) A great plate for a time traveler, but we decided that the speed at which the driver went probably meant something else.
  • DA WITCH—She’s driving. He’s riding. ‘Nuff said.
  • 23GKIDS—In a Stop Abortion frame. We know this family’s philosophy.
  • FUEL LOL—On a Prius. I did laugh when I read this one. It would have been even funnier had it been on a Tessla.
  • DRUMSTIX—Guess we know what instrument this driver plays. Either that or he loves poultry legs.
  • MED SS—I soooo wanted to see if the driver of this car had white hair and wrinkles. But they sped off too quickly.
  • PICASSO—Probably not, but I’d bet this one is an artist.
  • EXODUS 8—I just had to pull out my phone Bible and look up Exodus chapter eight. It’s about the second plague God brought on the Egyptian Pharaoh—frogs. Make of it what you will, because I couldn’t figure out what the driver might have meant.

I’ve always thought it might be fun to get a vanity plate, but the cost has stopped me. That and I’m not sure what I’d put on my plate. Should advertise myself as awrdwnngwrter (award winning writer)? That’s probably too long for the plate. Maybe I should say GOT BOOKS, because I do have quite a few. Or how about LVS ROMNCE (loves romance)? That seems like a suitable license plate tag for a romance writer. But then again, in today’s world it might be viewed as a dangerous invite.

On second thought, I think it’s safer to stick to the plates the BMV assigns randomly. Vanity plates will make your car much more identifiable, which could be a problem if you were going to break any laws. But they are fun to watch for on the highway and ponder on what the drivers wanted to convey.

What about you? Do you have a vanity license plate? Have you seen one that has stuck in your memory? Or if you were going to get one, what would yours say?

The hero and heroine of A Groom for Mama didn’t have any vanity plates, but if I were going to give them one I think I’d say DRAMEDY, because this award-winning book is filled with humor and a touch of drama. Take a peek at the blurb and then hop over to Amazon and read a sample.

 

A Groom for Mama

By Catherine Castle

Beverly Walters is dying, and before she goes she has one wish—to find a groom for her daughter. To get the deed done, Mama enlists the dating service of Jack Somerset, Allison’s former boyfriend.

The last thing corporate-climbing Allison wants is a husband. Furious with Mama’s meddling, and a bit more interested in Jack than she wants to admit, Allison agrees to the scheme as long as Mama promises to search for a cure for her terminal illness.

A cross-country trip from Nevada to Ohio ensues, with a string of disastrous dates along the way, as the trio hunts for treatment and A Groom For Mama.

 

About the Author:

Multi-award winning author Catherine Castle loves writing. Before beginning her career as a romance writer she worked part-time as a freelance writer. She has over 600 articles and photographs to her credit, under her real name, in the Christian and secular market. She also lays claim to over 300 internet articles written on a variety of subjects and several hundred poems. In addition to writing she loves reading, traveling, singing, theatre, quilting and gardening. She’s a passionate gardener whose garden won a “Best Hillside Garden” award from the local gardening club. She writes sweet and inspirational romances. You can find her award-winning Soul Mate books The Nun and the Narc and A Groom for Mama, on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

Follow her on Twitter @AuthorCCastle, FB or her blog.

 

 

 

Thursday Christmas Reads–Christmas in Jingle Junction by Tabitha Bouldin

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Christmas is coming, and with that holiday season comes more Christmas romances. If you don’t now, I love Christmas and Christmas romances. So, to fill out the rest of the Thursdays this year, I’m hosting fellow authors and their Christmas novels. Today’s guest is Tabitha Bouldin. Tabitha will be talking about her Contemporary Christian Romance Holiday book Christmas in Jingle Junction. Welcome, Tabitha.

 

Thanks, Catherine.

Christmas has always been my favorite time of year. Not because of Santa Claus or the presents but because our family always makes such an effort to come together at Christmastime. I think that’s where I found the theme for my Second Chance Christmas collection and Wish Upon a Star, in particular.

Since I found myself creating an entire town’s worth of people, I decided to make up the town too, thus, Jingle Junction was born. This way, it could have everything I wanted and be as quirky as the stories needed.

This collection is all about coming home, even for the folks who’ve lived in Jingle Junction all their lives. While the thought of coming home usually brings a physical home to mind, there are a few characters who’ve drifted away from God and need a little reminder that He is the king of all.

Jingle Junction has the small-town charm and the stories are happily ever after, but there are always problems to overcome and characters in need of help.

I started writing Christmas in Jingle Junction after finishing a rather heavy series. I knew I wanted fun, lighthearted romance and a lot of humor. I wanted characters who could banter without becoming offended and even a few times when precocious children do what children do best. I still hear Anna’s laughter in my head when I imagine a scene that resulted in Bryce becoming an abominable glitterman. The inspiration for some of the conversations in both stories, which play up the humor, come from debates my husband and I find ourselves having, ie: favorite superheroes and whether below freezing temperatures are an acceptable time to eat ice cream.

 

Christmas in Jingle Junction

by Tabitha Bouldin

Bryce Masters had everything he needed…or so he thought. His six-year-old daughter, Anna, would disagree. They were going home, moving back to Jingle Junction where Bryce would take over the local bookstore just in time for Christmas. Losing his wife, Molly, during the birth of their daughter six years ago was tragic, but Bryce has no idea just how much it weighs on young Anna’s heart until she confesses her deepest wish. What Anna wants for Christmas is a mother, but Bryce’s heart is not ready to love again. Only God can give Bryce the desire to make Anna’s wish come true. Only He can heal the hurt and open Bryce’s heart to the power of love. But Bryce will have to be willing to listen. And when the perfect woman reveals a secret that could devastate them all, will Bryce be able to look beyond what was and accept what might be?

Excerpt:

Even knowing this was what God wanted, Bryce had been afraid. Moving was a big deal. Leaving his dependable job – with its benefits and secure income – had taken a lot of prayers and even more faith. While owning a bookstore had always been a dream of his, the reality of its insecurity burdened him. He had to shove those thoughts aside at least once a day. The Bible says to cast your cares upon the Lord, and he did. Then he snatched them back up again and worried them like a dog with a bone. No matter how many times he put them down, Bryce found himself coming back to the same problem again and again. Like now. Once again, he found himself struggling to justify dragging his daughter several states away from everything that was familiar. It might be his dream, but she was the one having everything she knew ripped from beneath her. Only the certainty that this was what God wanted gave Bryce the strength to shut off the truck engine and give Anna a nudge. “We’re here.”

Want to read more? Check out the book below.

About the Author:

 Tabitha Bouldin is a student at Southern New Hampshire University, where she will soon graduate with a Bachelor’s in Creative Writing. In 2020 she will have a story released in Chicken Soup for the Soul and is currently working on a 5-book series with Celebrate Lit Publishing.

Tabitha’s Social Media: Facebook   Blog    Twitter

 

Wednesday Writers Christmas Reads– Icicles to Moonbeams ~ Christmas Eve Blessings by Sharon K Connell

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Welcome to Wednesday Writers. Christmas is coming and there’s nothing I like better during the holiday season than a good Christmas romance (or movie). So, on Wednesdays and Thursdays I’m filling out the year with a variety of Christmas romance book posts. Today’s guest is Sharon K Connell. Sharon will be sharing about her Christian Romance Suspense Icicles to Moonbeams ~ Christmas Eve Blessings. Welcome, Sharon.

 

Thanks, Catherine.

Several people have asked me how the story Icicles to Moonbeams~Christmas Eve Blessings came to me. All I can say is, God put it in my mind. I’ve never been a grieving widow like Alanna McCarthy, but I know what it feels like to ache for true happiness after a heartbreak. I think all of us know that feeling.

Alana’s Grief

Maybe God had me write this story for a reader who has gone through, or is going through, the same experience Alanna faces. If my story helps a reader, I sincerely hope they’ll let me know.

Details for the setting of the medical office came easy in this story, as I worked in that field before I retired to write full-time. And who hasn’t dreamed of a dashing doctor like Christopher Maguire? Hmmm? He reminded me a little the Mr. Darcy played by Colin Firth in Pride and Prejudice (at least, the Mr. Darcy in the end of that movie). But then, I based a character in one of my other books on Mr. Darcy as well. You don’t think I have a crush on Colin Firth, do you? (snicker)

Adding animals to my story is something I’ve been doing for some time now, thanks to my friend and fellow-author, Jackie Zack. She suggested adding them to the first story she read of mine, because people love furbabies. I learned that to be true after I wrote them in. Why I didn’t think of it before is a mystery to me. I love them myself. In Icicles to Moonbeams, the animals play a major part. Will you fall in love with them as did my critiquers?

Susie and Marmalade wait for Alanna

The on-the-edge-of-your-seat suspense and mystery in my stories of love, fear, and the testing of faith is something I love to develop through the tale. After all, I do write Christian Romance Suspense. I try to include “Will they,” “how will they,” and “but what happened to”, among other questions. One of my critiquers got so wound up in the tension of another book of mine that she nearly flew off the chair when a phone rang beside her. I almost died laughing when she told me. I guess I’m kind of a tease in that respect. But I also like to add a twist or two, and maybe a surprise ending.

In Icicles to Moonbeams, I want the reader to wonder if the new love in Alanna’s life really is responsible for what happens, or could the obsessed former co-worker who wants Alanna all to himself be the culprit. And is the former co-worker really obsessed, or just in love. I hope my readers will have fun trying to figure it out and be satisfied at the end when they find out if they were right…or wrong.

Who will win the heart of Alanna?

 

Icicles to Moonbeams ~ Christmas Eve Blessings

by Sharon K Connell

 

Would life ever be the same for Alanna after the only man she’d ever loved died? A dog, a cat, and a handsome doctor cross her path and fill the void…at least for a while. The pets go missing, and she wonders about the doctor when he does too. But not until after he’s kissed her like no other man had ever kissed her, setting her heart on fire.

A former coworker who is determined to win her adds more stress.

Should she give up her dream of a happy life in America, leave the home her husband and she shared for ten years, and go back to Ireland?

 

Excerpt (from Chapter 1, a little from all three scenes)

 

A chill traveled through Alanna McCarthy as though icicles dripped down her spine. “How do I get over this pain?”

She pushed her bedroom window lace curtains aside and gazed out at the green and partially yellow leaves carpeting her front yard from one side to the other. Last night’s storm sure had ravaged the trees and plants. Houston trees didn’t usually lose so many leaves the first of September, not to mention several branches. But the damage matched her shattered heart. Since December twenty-second, the first day of winter last year, sharp pain like piercing icicles had replaced the warmth of Jake’s love.

The cell rang. She reached for her purse, yanked it onto the passenger seat, and fumbled for the phone. She pulled it from the purse and checked the caller ID. Steve again. Alanna shoved the cell back into the bottom of her bag and started the engine. “Why can’t that man leave me alone?” She’d told him over and over she wasn’t ready to start seeing anyone. Yet, he continued to ask. “Who on earth gave him my number?” So far, no one had owned up to it.

Prepare to ace the interview. Right! Maybe this wasn’t such a good idea. Her spirit and desire shriveled. All she could think of at the moment was making a big cup of hot chocolate, cutting a huge slice of chocolate cake, and dousing both with the entire can of whipped cream she had in the refrigerator from—when had she bought that? Probably too old.

What she needed was a pet to keep her company. People with pets always seemed happy. An animal would give her something to take care of, to talk to. She could handle that, couldn’t she?

But first, chocolate.

Want to read more? You can find Icicles to Moonbeams at Amazon

 

About the Author:

Author, Sharon K. Connell lives in Houston, Texas from where she writes Christian Romance Suspense, containing a bit of mystery and as much humor as she can get into a story.

Her education through college was received mostly in Illinois, and later she graduated from the Pensacola Bible Institute in Florida. Sharon holds a certificate in fiction writing from the International Writing Program through the University of Iowa. She is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers, Houston Writers Guild, Authors Marketing Guild, Texas Authors, and CyFair Writers.

Connect with Sharon at her Website: http://www.authorsharonkconnell.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ChristianRomanceSuspense/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/SharonKConnell

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tasty Tuesdays—Gingerbread Coffee Cake from Sharon Ledwith

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Forget the Gingerbread House this holiday season and make Sharon Ledwith’s tasty Gingerbread Coffee Cake instead. It’s a twist on what you would think of as seasonal baking, and trust me, this cake is great, whether you’re at work or at home working on your next novel or artistic endeavor. With a prep time of 15 minutes and a total time of 1 hour, 25 minutes, this cake serves about 24 of your closest colleagues.

Gingerbread Coffee Cake

3 cups (750 mL) all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
3 tbsp. (45 mL) cocoa powder, sifted
1 tbsp. (15 mL) ground ginger
2 tsp. (10 mL) ground cinnamon
2 tsp. (10 mL) baking powder
1 tsp. (5 mL) baking soda
½ tsp. (2 mL) each salt and ground nutmeg
¼ tsp. (1 mL) ground cloves
⅔ cup (150 mL) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1½ cups (375 mL) sugar
3 eggs
½ cup (125 mL) molasses
1 tsp. (5 mL) vanilla extract
2 cups (500 mL) sour cream

Preheat oven to 350 °F (180°C).

Grease 9 or 10 inch (23 or 25 cm) Bundt pan. Dust with flour.

In a bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa, ginger, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, salt, nutmeg and cloves. Set aside.

In a separate bowl, beat butter with sugar until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes, with an electric mixer on medium speed. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Beat in molasses and vanilla.

Set mixer on low speed. Alternately beat in flour mixture and sour cream, making 3 additions of flour mixture and 2 of sour cream and scraping down side of bowl as necessary.

Scrape batter into prepared pan, smoothing top.

Bake until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into center of cake, 50 minutes to 1 hour.

Let cool completely in pan on wire rack. Invert onto serving plate. Prepare sauce to drizzle over cake.

Coffee Caramel Sauce
1½ cups (375 mL) firmly packed brown sugar
¼ cup (60 mL) brewed coffee (brew stronger than package directions)
¼ cup (60 mL) 35% whipping cream, at room temperature
2 tbsp. (30 mL) unsalted butter, at room temperature
¼ tsp. (1 mL) salt

In a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine sugar and coffee. Cook over medium heat, without stirring, until sugar is fully dissolved and mixture is foamy, about 12 to 15 minutes.

Remove from heat. Stir in cream, butter and salt. Drizzle over gingerbread cake. Slice and serve.

So, now that you’ve baked to your heart’s content, it’s time for your break! Leave those dirty dishes in the sink, pour yourself a cup of your favorite hot beverage, and go curl up on the couch with one of my books. May I suggest a visit to Fairy Falls? Just remember to pack lightly.

The only witness left to testify against an unsolved crime in Fairy Falls isn’t a person…

City born and bred, Hart Stewart possesses the gift of psychometry—the psychic ability to discover facts about an event or person by touching inanimate objects associated with them. Since his mother’s death, seventeen-year-old Hart has endured homelessness, and has learned ways to keep his illiteracy under wraps. He eventually learns of a great-aunt living in Fairy Falls, and decides to leave the only life he’s ever known for an uncertain future.

Diana MacGregor lives in Fairy Falls. Her mother was a victim of a senseless murder. Only Diana’s unanswered questions and her grief keeps her going, until Hart finds her mother’s lost ring and becomes a witness to her murder.

Through Hart’s psychic power, Diana gains hope for justice. Their investigation leads them into the corrupt world threatening Fairy Falls. To secure the town’s future, Hart and Diana must join forces to uncover the shocking truth, or they risk losing the true essence of Fairy Falls forever.

 

Sharon Ledwith is the author of the middle-grade/YA time travel series, THE LAST TIMEKEEPERS, and the teen psychic mystery series, MYSTERIOUS TALES FROM FAIRY FALLS. When not writing, researching, or revising, she enjoys reading, exercising, anything arcane, and an occasional dram of scotch. Sharon lives a serene, yet busy life in a southern tourist region of Ontario, Canada, with her hubby, one spoiled yellow Labrador and a moody calico cat.

Learn more about Sharon Ledwith on her website and blog. Stay connected on Facebook and Twitter, Goodreads, and Smashwords. Look up her Amazon Author page for a list of current books. Be sure to check out THE LAST TIMEKEEPERS TIME TRAVEL SERIES Facebook page.

Musings from a Writer’s Brain–Why is Christmas Green and Red by Catherine Castle

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Well, dear readers, I’m back again.

You may have wondered where I’ve been for the past couple of months. The answer is recuperating. I fell—well, rather tripped—up an uneven step and broke my right arm. Yes, before you ask, it was my right arm, the same one on which I had shoulder replacement surgery on in February of this year. In my typical fashion, I did a big number on the break—a spiral break that required a plate in my arm from the top of the shoulder to the bottom of the upper arm. I’ve got a gnarly scar to show for it. The good news is that I didn’t mess up the prosthetic shoulder replacement. I can type rather easily on the computer keyboard now, so I decided it’s time to come back to the blog. I’ve been doing the minimum to keep up with my scheduled guests.

Christmas is coming, and I have a post I wanted to share, even though I won’t be doing my usual decorating. I’m still supposed to wear the sling when I’m up and about, and decorating an eight-foot tree with one arm isn’t easy. I’m the main Christmas decorator in my house.

I don’t know about you, but I love the familiar and colorful shades of red and green of Christmas. And I have a lot of different themed ornaments, but one of my favorites is my poinsettia Christmas tree shown below.

Recently, on an internet blog I saw a suggestion for a black Christmas tree trimmed in gold. The post called it a sleek, modern look for an adult gathering.

Really?

I get the gold part, and gold shows up a lot in my Christmas décor. After all one of the wise men brought the baby Jesus a gift of gold. Maybe if I stretch my imagination far enough I could say the black represents the sin Christ came to conquer. But, black will never be the new red and green in my house.

Have you ever wondered why the colors of Christmas are red and green? Here are a few possibilities I’ve dug up for you to ponder.

 

  • The Paradise play, a drama recounting Genesis 3 —the fall of Adam and Eve into sin and God’s promise of a Redeemer born of a woman—was performed in medieval times during advent. The Tree of Knowledge, from which Adam and Eve ate, was often depicted using a pine tree with red apples pinned on it. The decorated tree that began as a prop for the Paradise play was so popular that people began to put pine trees up in their homes during the holiday, decorating them with red apples. The idea spread and both Christmas trees and the color combination of red and green began its transformation into the official colors of Christmas
  • Red is also the color of Holly berries, which is said to represent the blood of Jesus when he died on the cross.
  • Red is also the color of Bishops robes—robes that later became associated with St. Nicholas and later became the color of Santa’s suit.
  • Dr Spike Bucklow from the University of Cambridge’s Hamilton Kerr Institute says “One can trace the roots of this colour coding (red and green) back through the centuries, to a time when the colours themselves had symbolic meaning, possibly as a way of accentuating a significant division or a boundary.” He also thinks, based on his research of the art history of medieval rood screens which date from the 14th to the 16th centuries and were used to separate the nave from the chancel of churches, the use of those red and green by the church may also been a question of pigment availability. Most of the screens he studied appeared to be painted in red and green. Over the years, modern humanity has lost the meaning of the colors, which would have been readily apparent to even the lowest of peasants.
  • Green reminded the ancients that spring would come—a reminder they needed much more than we, with our bright electrically lit homes, would need during dark, clouded winter days.
  • Green symbolizes the continuous life cycle, as does the birth of Christ who gives us hope of an eternal life.

So, you can put up a black tree, decorated in gold balls and tinsel, but for me and my house—we prefer red and green!

What about you? Do you decorate with red and green at Christmas? Or do you prefer the silver/white and blue—the colors of winter? Or something even farther out there?

When you’ve tired yourself out with the Christmas preparations, take a break with Catherine’s award winning romantic comedy with a touch of drama, A Groom for Mama, available from Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

A Groom for Mama

By Catherine Castle

 

Beverly Walters is dying, and before she goes she has one wish—to find a groom for her daughter. To get the deed done, Mama enlists the dating service of Jack Somerset, Allison’s former boyfriend.

The last thing corporate-climbing Allison wants is a husband. Furious with Mama’s meddling, and a bit more interested in Jack than she wants to admit, Allison agrees to the scheme as long as Mama promises to search for a cure for her terminal illness.

A cross-country trip from Nevada to Ohio ensues, with a string of disastrous dates along the way, as the trio hunts for treatment and A Groom For Mama.

 

 

About the Author:

Multi-award winning author Catherine Castle loves writing. Before beginning her career as a romance writer she worked part-time as a freelance writer. She has over 600 articles and photographs to her credit, under her real name, in the Christian and secular market. She also lays claim to over 300 internet articles written on a variety of subjects and several hundred poems. In addition to writing she loves reading, traveling, singing, theatre, quilting and gardening. She’s a passionate gardener whose garden won a “Best Hillside Garden” award from the local gardening club. She writes sweet and inspirational romances. You can find her award-winning Soul Mate books The Nun and the Narc and A Groom for Mama, on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

Follow her on Twitter @AuthorCCastle, FB or her blog

Thursday Christmas Reads–Kismet and Cocoa/Sweet Christmas Kisses Anthology with Dominique Eastwick

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Christmas is coming, and with that holiday season comes more Christmas romances. If you don’t now, I love Christmas and Christmas romances. So, to fill out the rest of the Thursdays this year, I’m hosting fellow authors and their Christmas novels.

Today’s guest is Dominique Eastwick who has a Christmas novella in the Sweet Christmas Kisses Anthology. Welcome, Dominique!

 

Thanks, Catherine.

Ever wonder what spurs and Idea for a book?  For me it can come from anything usually I am sitting in my car at a light but every now and then it’s a news story or some picture I see online. That was the case for Kismet and Cocoa, a short story in the Sweet Christmas Kisses anthology from Decadent.

I saw this picture and immediately I had a story forming in my brain. A war time photographer who had seen the worst of humans stops to take a photo of a piece of art in an empty field. When he returns he finds a shivering kitten in his bike helmet. What more could you want? A small town? Check! A women with a broken heart? Check! A gorgeous man with commitment issues? Check!!! And of course a kitten!!!!

Credit for picture goes to Reddit user Your Brain on Pizza

https://www.reddit.com/r/motorcycles/comments/3pkl1f/saved_a_kitten/

I didn’t read the story behind the picture until long after my own story was done. I didn’t want it to influence my story. But from this came my sweetest story to date.

You can find the story in an anthology of sweet Christmas stories.

https://books2read.com/u/49Qjv0

You can find me at

https://www.facebook.com/DominiqueEastwickAuthor

http://dominiqueeastwick.blogspot.com/

Kismet and Cocoa by Dominique Eastwick
When true love shows up on her doorstep, will Abby let him in or will she turn him away? Sometimes Kismet is all you need.

Silver Bells and Cat Tails by L.J. Garland
Tabitha isn’t crazy—even though every guy she’s dated has ended their relationship by calling her exactly that. Then a handsome man awakens on her sofa, and everything changes… Could he be the one?

Meri Chris Mess by Dara Fraser
Meredith accepted the teaching position at Oak Springs looking for a new start but when a flood destroys everything in her classroom, she fears she’ll never be able to save her fledgling music program and certainly not in time for the Christmas show. The children will be devastated. But can a handsome and understanding firefighter along with the caring townspeople turn a mess into a Merry Christmas?

The Little Match Girl and the Billionaire by Kate Richards
A fire on Christmas Eve, leaves Noelle homeless and holding a box of abandoned kittens. The handsome stranger whisking her off to a mansion on the outskirts of town may change her holiday darkness to sweet Christmas Kisses.

Check Yes or No by Anastasia Vitsky
Sharie Black couldn’t care less about the boy next door, or at least not in “that” way. That is, until a personal tragedy creates a Christmas miracle.

 

About Dominique Eastwick

Award Winning Author, Dominique Eastwick grew up a US Navy Brat, so if there was a Naval base that was probably home. She currently resides in North Carolina with her husband, two children, crazy Norwegian Elk Hound and lazy Lab.

Dominique’s love of reading started when she was told to read TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD in high school. A book that opened her eyes to the joys of reading and entering into the world of the author. To this day she ranks this book as her favorite.

Stay connected with my Newsletter 🙂

http://eepurl.com/brjq6D

Note to readers of Sweet Romance: The stories in this anthology are all sweet, but if you want to read more from these authors, be aware that they normally write steamy romance.

Wednesday Writers Christmas Reads–Jamie’s Christmas Magi by Eris Field

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Welcome to Wednesday Writers. Christmas is coming and there’s nothing I like better during the holiday season than a good Christmas romance (or movie). So, on Wednesdays and Thursdays I’m filling out the year with a variety of Christmas romance book posts. Today’s guest is Eris Field and her book Jamie’s Christmas Magi. Welcome, Eris.

 

Thanks, Catherine.

We usually think of the Magi, the three wise men from the East who brought gifts to the Christ child, as old men. In fact, they are often depicted as three aged Kings wearing crowns and carrying gifts. However, the word Magi is derived from the Old Persian language and was used to refer to a religious order of Zoroastrian priests. They were scientists and scholars, an educated segment of the Iranian people. As part of their religion, the priests studied the stars and were well known for their knowledge of astrology which was regarded as a science at that time. They evolved into a wise and knowledgeable group of scientists who were believed to be able to predict the future of humanity and the Earth. The Magi are the forefathers of the Kurdish people in the Middle East. It is the Kurds and other Iranians who are the owners of the oldest civilization in the history of humanity. They started the first monolithic religion 9000 years BC. While researching the Magi, I learned that there is a 6th century mosaic in the Basilica of Sant’ Appollinare built in 504 AD in Ravenna, Italy that depicts the Magi as handsome, elegant, long-legged, men—one young and beardless, one an older, heavier man with a beard, and an old man with white hair and beard. They all had large dark eyes and aquiline noses and were dressed in splendid Persian garments with swirling capes and soft red Phrygian caps. As soon as I saw a picture of the mosaic, I knew I had found my hero for Jamie’s Christmas Magi.

 

Jamie’s Christmas Magi

By Eris Field

 

Descendant of an ancient Kurdish tribe that included the Magi, Rauf, a handsome, Army psychiatrist with the hard body of a desert warrior, feels like a failure after years of fighting ISIS and losing his family. His current assignment: treat veterans struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder, but before he can help them, he must conquer his own demons.

Cast aside by the husband she put through medical school, vibrant redheaded nurse Jamie, her belief in love destroyed, refuses to give up the dream of having a home of her own. She’ll do whatever it takes-avoid romantic entanglements and work two jobs- to climb out of the mountain of debt her ex-husband left her.

Assigned to assist the reclusive Rauf, Jamie reluctantly agrees. Working together, they discover feelings they never knew: throbbing, hot, tantalizing feelings. Will their scars prevent them from seizing a second chance at love? Will Jamie accept the gift of love from her very own Magi?

 

Excerpt

“Do you know where Jamie is?” Rauf’s usually calm voice was sharp with anxiety. “She was at the party and then she was gone. I’ve tried her phone, and she’s not answering.” His voice dropped. “Her Jeep is gone. I have a feeling something is wrong. Please, Gemma, I must know where she is.”

“She told me she was going home.” Gemma voice was icy.

“I’ve tried to call her but she isn’t answering.” His voice was rough. “She was there. I turned away for a moment and then I couldn’t see her. I have to find her.” He stumbled over the words, “Did she say anything to you?”

“She said your cousin had come here to be married.” Gemma could barely control her outrage. “Oh yes. There was something else. The realtor called to tell her she’d sold her dream house.” Gemma tried for control and failed. “I’d say two bombs in less than five minutes were enough to make any girl run!”

“I told her my cousin was here to be married. In Tennessee. She is going to marry a distant cousin there. It’s all arranged.”

“Did you mention Tennessee to Jamie?” Gemma’s voice was dripping with disgust. “Did you think to tell her your cousin was on her way there to be married?”

“Jamie must be aware of how I feel about her.” He hesitated and then continued haltingly ““My love for her is tuqburni, a love so deep I can’t imagine life without her. How could she not know I want her?”

“Rauf, she wouldn’t know unless you told her. She was hurt terribly before. She shies away at the first hint of betrayal . . . and then to find out the house was sold. She was devastated. I saw her like this four years ago. It’s taken that long for her to function as well as she does.”

“I bought the house for her!” His anguish made Gemma soften slightly. “I couldn’t risk it being sold before I could ask her to marry me.”

“Does she know you want to marry her?” Gemma put the question more gently than she had intended.

She must know I want to marry her! She would know that when I introduced her to my mother.”

“It doesn’t work that way here.” Gemma’s voice was soft. “It’s all between a man and the woman he loves.”

He groaned. “My mother asked me something, and when I turned around, Jamie was gone.”

“She didn’t tell me that but . . .”

“What? Tell me everything. Please, Gemma.”

“She asked me for ten dollars and twenty-five cents. She didn’t say why but it seemed terribly important to her.”

“Oh, Gemma, thank you!”

“Do you know where she went?”

“She told me once that the fee for the ferry from New York to Vermont is ten dollars and twenty-five cents and it must be paid in cash.” He let out a deep sigh. “I think she is going to Vermont, to her grandfather’s cabin on the lake.”

“It will be cold in Vermont and she’ll be all alone.”

“No, she won’t be alone. I’ll find her.”

 

Want to read more? You can find Jamie’s Christmas Magi at Amazon

 

About the Author:

Eris Field was born in the Green Mountains of Vermont. As a student nurse at Albany Hospital, Eris met a Turkish surgical intern she would later marry. He told her fascinating stories about the history of Turkey, the loss of the Ottoman Empire, and forced population exchanges–tragically similar to the plight of today’s Kurdish refugees. While amassing rejection letters for the short stories she wrote, Eris earned a master’s degree in Psychiatric Nursing at the University at Buffalo where she later taught psychiatric nursing. Now, Eris writes contemporary, medical romances. Her love of Western New York, her interest in history, her experience in psychiatry, and her desire to eradicate violence against women become a part of each of her stories. While her mind plots the next novel and her heart develops the characters, her fingers knit sweaters for child refugees.

Social media links

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/eris.perese.3/allactivity

Website: eris@erisfield.com

Twitter: Eris@erisfield.com

Wednesday Writers Christmas Reads–The Love Letter Series by Suzanne G. Rogers

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Christmas is coming, and with that holiday season comes more Christmas romances. If you don’t now, I love Christmas and Christmas romances. So, to fill out the rest of the Wednesdays this year, I’m hosting fellow authors and their Christmas novels. Today you get a double treat. Suzanne G. Rogers, who is one of my favorite sweet regency authors, is talking about her Love Letter Series Christmas Romances, one of which is free! Welcome, Suzanne!

Thanks, Catherine.

In A Gift for Lara, I wanted to write a story about the true meaning of Christmas, particularly when it comes to presents. The best sort of gift sparks joy and happiness…but selecting just the right gift can be tricky. In the Victorian era, the Christmas season was far less materialistic than it is today, and the gifts exchanged were often made by hand. In A Gift for Lara, Miles decides a certain course of action will be far more significant to Lara than anything else…yet an unlikely antagonist seems determined to defeat him at every turn

A Gift for Lara became one of my most popular ebooks, but when I sat down to write the sequel, A Gift for Fiona, the challenge became how to make readers root for a character who had been the antagonist in Book One. Fiona is essentially the black sheep of the family…but can this unconventional heroine be redeemed? Of course she can, but she must fully appreciate what she has done and be willing to change from within.

Together, A Gift for Lara and A Gift for Fiona became the Love Letters Series, two stories of twin sisters whose letters go astray.

A Gift for Lara: The man to whom Lara gave her heart four years ago will visit Blythe Manor for Christmas. How can she enjoy the holidays knowing he must despise her for revealing her feelings in such an unguarded fashion?

Excerpt (A Gift for Lara):

 

“Lara likes taking care of people,” Fiona said. “She’s always doing charity work in Blythe Village, but the poor are determined to stay poor. What is your opinion, Mr. Greystoke? Do you believe ministering to the downtrodden is a worthwhile activity?”

“The human condition cannot be changed,” Miles replied.

Lara peered at him, aghast. “Should those who are more fortunate than others turn a blind eye to poverty?”

“Not at all. However, I’ve noticed some men who inherit great fortunes fritter it all away in frivolous pastimes. Conversely, others of humble birth manage to create enormous wealth for themselves. There will always be inequality and poverty, no matter what any of us do.”

“I couldn’t agree more,” Fiona said. “I believe the poor secretly despise us for our assistance. Let the church minister to the wretches and leave the rest of us alone.”

“The church can do nothing without its congregation,” Lara said. “We are the church.”

“I’m not expressing myself particularly well,” Miles said. “I simply believe that much of our efforts toward the poor are wasted.”

“Exactly!” Fiona exclaimed.

A sense of disappointment made Lara’s food taste like sawdust. Mr. Greystoke used to have a far bigger heart.

  • •••

 Gift for Fiona: Worried she’ll be on the shelf, Fiona pins her hopes on a handsome viscount. Unfortunately, his unexpected proposal to another girl hands her a stinging defeat. A new acquaintance awakens all her senses—until she realizes he’s related to the girl who stole her beau.

Excerpt (A Gift for Fiona):

She’d met many handsome and debonair gentlemen during her time in London, but she’d never seen one quite so…manly. He moved with athletic grace, his gaze scanning young women like a lion on the prowl. When his eyes found hers, the resulting shock made her jump. Her pulse began to race, and as he and Miles approached, she prayed she could speak without mangling her words. The man’s eyes rested on Lara momentarily, but returned almost immediately to Fiona. She was so flustered by his frank admiration, she barely listened to Miles’s introduction.

“Miss Lara Robinson, and Miss Fiona Robinson, I’m pleased to introduce Rory Braithwaite,” Miles said. “Rory, these are the Misses Robinson I’ve been telling you about. My brother William is married to their elder sister, Angelica.”

“It’s a pleasure to meet you, sir,” Fiona managed.

“Likewise.” His voice had a deep, purring quality that weakened her knees.

Lara gave the man a warm smile. “Are you any relation to Miss Iris Braithwaite, perchance?”

“Iris is my twin sister.”

“Another pair of twins, then,” Lara said. “We’re in good company.”

As if the man had cracked a whip next to her ear, Fiona snapped out of whatever momentary emotional stupor she’d fallen into. Indeed, she could see the family resemblance now, although the strong nose, square jaw and chiseled cheekbones found more favor on Rory’s face than his sister’s. Nevertheless, the man might as well have sprouted hair from his ears and clusters of warts from his chin for all the appeal he held for her now.

  • •••

Buy Links:

A Gift for Lara is free at your favorite bookstore: https://books2read.com/u/4NG6nJ

A Gift for Fiona is available at Amazon: https://tinyurl.com/yy4ybe9d or your favorite bookstore: https://books2read.com/u/mBPdyO

The Love Letters duology is available at your favorite bookstore: https://books2read.com/u/b5rVRw or you can purchase it in paperback format here: https://tinyurl.com/y692fd44

 

About the Author:

Bestselling author Suzanne G. Rogers is a California native, but she changed coastlines and now lives in romantic Savannah, Georgia, on an island populated by deer, exotic birds, turtles, otters, and gators. She’s owned by a Sphynx cat named Houdini. Writing blush-free, young adult fiction is her passion.

Follow Suzanne G. Rogers on Twitter: https://twitter.com/suzannegrogers • Her blog: https://suzannegrogers.com/ • Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SuzanneGRogers/