I’m over at Sandra Merville Hart’s blog today, sharing a peach pie inspired by my newest book, Bidding on the Bouquet. Come join me via Spiced Peach Pie, Anyone?
Today’s gardener writer is Ryan Jo Summers, who will be talking about Emma and George—two trees in her garden. Welcome, Ryan Jo.
I have always admired formal yards and gardens, with sweeping terraces of blooms, multiple shades of different sized flowers, and natural rock gardens. Bonus drool for water features and koi ponds. Sigh….one day….
As I write this now, a gentle rain is falling. The approaching growls of thunder chased me inside from where I was planting today’s shipment: Old-fashioned Bleeding Hearts in white and pink, another rose, and a Goji berry. I got as far as the pink bleeding heart when the approaching storm sent me inside to this instead.
Two and a half years ago I bought my very own place here in the south. It’s a half acre, home of a 1920 cottage. I love it! There were already two flower beds installed, flanking the walkway, full of oakleaf hydrangea, forsythia, and endless daylilies. Plus a few odd bits that some I’ve yet to identify and others I’ve yet to decide whether to keep them or move them out.
Two more beds had been established once upon a time, one held a rotten tree stump and some hostas and another forsythia bush while the other was depressingly empty. They held such promise! In the time I’ve lived here, I’ve added to both those gardens, slowly over each planting season, and added four more flower beds to the yard. (Five if you count the transplanted day lilies moved to flank the garage door).
Now, I adore fences and random steps, almost as much as I like water features. For me, rustic is the way. Since I pet sit/ dog walk part time, I see a good bit of landscaping and gardens. I like snapping photos of scenes of stairs and fences that inspire or delight me. They don’t necessarily have to go anywhere, or hold anything in or out. Just simply being in the right place, with the right look, creating the right impression is an art all to itself. Like spotting a random painting in a gallery, not anything specific or unique about it. It just has that right look. It just is. Such is a good garden scene.
Now, at my house are many tall, stately trees. In the courtyard in the back are two trees in particular, that have endured themselves to me in a special way. One, an oak, is right outside my kitchen window. I sense a femininity about it and call her Emma. I often ponder how old dear Emma is, for she is very tall and quite wide. Squirrels delight in racing up and down her weathered trunk.
Doubtlessly, the courtyard slate stone was installed when Emma was still younger and more slender, as her roots and widening trunk have pushed the stones up and aside over the years. Poor planning on someone’s part.
There is also a hanging hook attached to Emma’s trunk, about six feet up, for hanging pots, bird feeders, wind chimes or whatever. Unfortunately, and further proof of the lack of consideration people have shown Emma over the years, her trunk has grown over the hook, sealing it like a giant scab over a wound. I wonder how that must have hurt as her trunk grew and now the hook has become a permanent part of her trunk.
A few feet away from Emma stands George, a straight, noble-looking Pine. George is huge, both in height and circumference. He reminds me of royalty, like a king, hence his royal name. Scattered around him, at the height of roughly thirty feet or so are three of his off-spring.
English ivy grows rampant around the courtyard, and encircles George’s trunk like a green robe. Diligence on my part keeps the ivy growing around George, and not up his massive trunk. Unlike Emma, George has no blemishes or human fallacies to mar his noble stature.
Considering how long Emma and George have lived, and the house they saw built, the stories of the people who lived inside, and the relaxed under their branches, I wonder what stories these two trees could tell. As I watch my newly planted flower gardens grow, I also enjoy the richness of two special trees. Once upon a time they were but small saplings, and they have grown to leave an indelible mark in this place and on me. I hope the maple seedlings, plants, and flowers I am planting now will one day leave another mark once Emma, George, and I are gone from this life.
About the Gardener/Writer:
Ryan Jo Summers is a North Carolina author who specializes in writing romances with a twist. Love stories blended with inspirational, paranormal, suspense or time travel–or several at once. She also writes non-fiction for regional periodicals. Ryan’s dad is a songwriter and his aunt wrote poetry so she claims she came by her writing skill honestly. Apparently it’s in the genes.
Her hobbies include bird-watching, houseplants (50 ish and growing), poetry and yard work. She loves to gather with friends, hike in the forest with her dog, paint ceramics and canvas and work on wiggly word find puzzles. She lives in a 1920 cottage with a menagerie of pets. Living in the mountains, she dreams of the shore and frequently uses the water as scenes for her stories.
by Ryan Jo Summers
Avianna Goodman and Sawyer Steele had been young lovers. Now she is a caterer, building her own business. Right now she needs cash to help her family. He’s being ordered to stop his wild ways and settle down to take over the family empire. His controlling mother has picked out the perfect heiress for him. Now they need the right caterer to launch the perfect engagement celebration.
A Groom for Mama, author Catherine Castle, Book excerpt from A Groom for Mama, Catherine Castle Wednesday Writers series, clean romance, disasterous dates, ebook giveaway, romantic comedy, Sweet romance
Welcome to Wednesday Writers!
I’m departing a bit from the usual Wednesday Writers posts because today is release day for A Groom for Mama, Catherine Castle’s sweet romantic comedy with a touch of drama, from Soul Mate Publishing.
Normally, you’d see a post about some aspect of the book—but today, since this is my website and it’s such a special occasion, I’m celebrating the book’s release by offering a free eBook to the commenter who picks the correct bad date my heroine, Allison Walters, got stuck with from the list of disastrous dates below. If more than one commenter chooses the correct date, the winner will be chosen randomly from those answering correctly. I hope you’ll join in the fun and let your friends know about the giveaway as well. Please leave your email, written as janedoe(at)myserver(dot)com (to deter internet robots), and insure I can reach you if you are the winner. All readers commenting will be eligible to be in the drawing, but if your name is drawn and I cannot find your email, I will have to draw again.
Winners will be announced on Tuesday, September 12, 2017.
If you haven’t heard about the story yet, here’s a brief blurb.
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.
he 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.
And now for the date challenge. Which of the disastrous dates listed below did Allison get stuck with?
- Birdwatching for the black-throated blue warbler
- Illegal bungee jumping from a skyscraper and subsequent arrest
- Karaoke in a downtown dive bar with a date who can’t sing
- Spelunking for bats in crawl-on-your-belly shallow cave
- A wresting match with Balderdash and Balls
- A SAVE THE WHALES protest rally
- A lecture on the physics of the collapse of the WTC towers
Do you know which date is the real one for Allison? Be sure to leave your choice in a comment for a chance at the free eBook, A Groom for Mama.
And now for a peek at the book:
Excerpt from A Groom for Mama
By Catherine Castle
With a sweep of his hand, Jack spread the photos out on the table in front of Allison and Beverly. “Here’s a few I just grabbed from the database. Any of them interesting?” He studied Allison’s reaction. She didn’t bat an eyelash as she scanned the men’s pictures. Then, without warning, she scooped them up and shoved them at him.
“I told Mama I wasn’t going to do this. It’s a stupid idea.”
“I’ll admit it’s not the ‘some enchanted evening, see a stranger across the room’ romantic way to find a husband, but it’s not totally unacceptable. Several of the couples my company has brought together have married.”
“And lived happily ever after?” she retorted.
“It’s a new company, Allison. I don’t have the stats yet.” He pushed the photos across the table. “Just take a peek. What harm can it do?”
Beverly grabbed the photo of a particularly handsome man. “How about this one? His coloring complements yours. You’d have beautiful children.”
Mama!” Allison snatched the photo away. “We’re not going to discuss my possible, yet unlikely, progeny in front of Jack.”
A flash of Allison kissing this guy flew through his head. He grabbed the photo from her. “He’s not your type anyway.”
“And just how do you know?” she asked.
“I dated you, remember? You ditched me for some suave, corporate hotshot. At least it’s what you said.”
“Allison!” Beverly exclaimed. “You never told me that.”
Allison shot him a fierce scowl. “I’m not comfortable discussing my love life with you, Mama. Besides, what’s done and over with should be buried . . . in the past.” She picked up another photo. “What about him? Or him and him?” She pointed to two nerdy-looking fellows. “They seem corporate.”
Mama leaned over and checked out the pictures Allison had indicated. “Too ugly,” she said. “He’s got to be handsome. Like Jack. I want to know my grandbabies will be as beautiful as you two.”
He grinned. “Thanks for the compliment, but I know I’m not your daughter’s type.” He laid a sheet of paper on the counter. “Fill this out. Then I can get a better idea of what you want in a husband.”
“I don’t want—”
“I know,” he interjected. “But, for your mom’s sake, just pretend you do.”
For more fun posts about the book, check out the month-long A Groom for Mama blog tour Catherine will be having by going to the blog tour page on this website. Follow daily for new insights into the book and more chances to win your own eBook of A Groom for Mama.
About the Author:
Multi-award-winning author Catherine Castle has been writing all her life. 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. Besides writing, Catherine loves traveling with her husband, singing, and attending theatre. In the winter she loves to quilt and has a lot of UFOs (unfinished objects) in her sewing case. In the summer her favorite place to be is in her garden. She’s passionate about gardening and even won a “Best Hillside Garden” award from the local gardening club.
Her debut inspiration romantic suspense, The Nun and the Narc, from Soul Mate Publishing was an ACFW Genesis Finalist, a 2014 EPIC finalist, and the winner of the 2014 Beverly Hills Book Award and the 2014 RONE Award. Her most recent release, A Groom for Mama, is a sweet romantic comedy from Soul Mate Publishing. Both books are available on Amazon.
Social Media links for Catherine:
Catherine’s website: https://catherinecastle1.wordpress.com/
Catherine’s blog: https://catherinecastle1.wordpress.com/blog/
Catherine’s Amazon author page: https://www.amazon.com/author/catherinecastle
Catherine’s Goodreads page: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7085414.Catherine_Castle
Twitter: https://twitter.com/AuthorCCastle @AuthorCCastle
Stitches Thru Time: http://stitchesthrutime.bogspot.com/
SMP authors blog site: http://smpauthors.wordpress.com/
Today Wednesday Writers Welcomes Leeann Betts, author of Five and Twenty Blackbirds. Leeann has an excerpt and a chance to win a copy of Five and Twenty Blackbirds if you leave a comment on her post. Winners will be chosen on Tuesday, April 26. Leeann, tell us the story behind the story on this book.
Have you ever visited a location and thought, “This would make the perfect setting for a book”? I’m sure you have. Perhaps the ambiance of a restaurant made you think of a romantic dinner for two scene. Or a mountain trail set you back in time to when wagon trains crossed the country in search of something better.
But has that same location ever spawned two completely different book ideas?
I had just that happen to me.
About four years ago, I visited the place where my father and my stepmother, who I dearly love, were married. About an hour north of Phoenix, Arizona, Cave Creek is a quaint, if slightly old-fashioned, small town. The main street is an eclectic blend of old and new, with lots of boutiques mixed in with used book stores and a great “junk” shop where you can find all kinds of neat things. Across the street is a touristy Wild West Town that has also been turned into boutiques that sell crafts, local art, jewelry, and pottery, to name just a few.
This town sparked an idea for a story, which I’ve turned into Five and Twenty Blackbirds, the fourth in the By the Numbers series, featuring Carly Turnquist, forensic accountant. That book releases the end of this month. I changed some details, including the name of the town, its location within Arizona, and the fact that it’s home to a small university (which Cave Creek isn’t).
The second story, which will actually be written by my real-life persona, Donna Schlachter, concerns one of the buildings on the museum grounds–a tuberculosis shack. Back in the 1800’s, people with TB came to Arizona believing that the dry air would heal them of this terrible and usually terminal disease. But that’s a story for another day.
Here’s a snippet of the first scene of the book, Five and Twenty Blackbirds:
Carly studied Harrison. Although he’d aged—hadn’t they all—he’d changed only in superficial ways. A much better-dressed scarecrow than during their college days, he still watched everybody else as though he was looking for someone more interesting, or powerful, or beautiful, to be with. She sighed. At one point in the past, she’d been flattered that he’d paid even a minute’s attention to her.
Until they danced and he spent their entire three minutes eying the other women in the room.
“So, Harrison, if you’re not here for the reunion, what are you doing in Central Arizona? Not exactly Chicago, is it?”
His smile slipped a millimeter before he plastered the grin back on. “Like I said, I’m here on business. Until the end of the week.”
“What a coincidence we should be in the same place for the first time in over twenty-five years.”
“You don’t think I’m chasing you, do you?”
No, she didn’t think that. He hadn’t when she was twenty-five years younger and twenty—okay, twenty-five pounds lighter. “More likely you’re chasing something in a mini-skirt.”
His jaw dropped, his mouth creating an O. If he’d pointed his thumb at his chest and mimicked Miss Piggy’s ‘moi?’, she wouldn’t have been surprised.
While he’d majored in accounting, he’d minored in drama.
And not the university course.
He leaned in closer. “Actually, I saw you at the airport. Recognized you right away.”
He batted his eyelashes.
If he was trying to appear innocent, he failed miserably.
Carly resisted the urge to step back again. She’d spent three years in classes with Harrison Dyer at the University of Northern Indiana, trying to ignore his sexist innuendos about the other women in their classes, repeatedly turning down his pleas for help. He wasn’t going to chase her off again. “Why didn’t you say something at the airport?”
“Couldn’t catch up with you. You and—is the guy on your arm the mister in Turnquist?”
Harrison nodded, his lips pursed. “Thought so. There is something different about couples who have been intimate, don’t you think? You can tell by their body language. A familiarity, perhaps, that you don’t notice in friends. Even friends with benefits.”
A blonde glided to stand beside Harrison. She looped an arm through his, pressing against his side. Her low-cut dress revealed more skin than Carly thought proper, and her too-red lipstick appeared harsh in the dim lighting. “Are you done here, Harry? I want to go to our room and get more comfortable.” She giggled in a little-girl manner that contrasted with the sun-induced wrinkles around her eyes and mouth. She held out a hand to Carly. “Hi. I’m Misty.”
Yes, you are. Transparent and irritating. Carly returned the greeting. “Carly. Harrison—Harry and I went to college together.”
Misty’s eyes opened wide. “Wow. I’ve never met anyone who knew Harry before he came to Chicago.” Her Midwestern accent sharpened the r’s and rolled the o’s. “Maybe we can get together over coffee and Danish and you can tell me all about this bad boy.” She mock-punched Harrison’s arm. “What do you think, Harry?”
Carly gritted her teeth. While the response might be merely annoying when shot from the mouth of an angst-ridden teen, coming from a man of his age, the word grated on her sensibilities. Still, she wasn’t going to see them again, so she could be pleasant. In short spurts. “Good to see you, Harrison.”
She nodded at his companion then glanced at the woman’s ring finger.
Probably one of his friends with benefits, judging by her body language.
And based on the way she clung to him, Misty would like to make their relationship more than that.
Harrison sidled away a step, putting some distance between him and Misty.
But not him. He’s already scoping out the next one.
Harrison laid a hand on Carly’s arm.
Her bare arm.
She glanced at his hand then at him.
He snatched back his hand as though she’d threatened to bite him.
Which she might well have done if he hadn’t made the first move.
Where was her husband? “What?”
“Can we get together tomorrow? I have something I need to talk to you about.”
“Again, what? We haven’t seen each other in years. We’re not going to be friends in the future any more than we were in college. We don’t run in the same circles, Harrison. I follow the law.”
She left the accusation hanging in the air between them.
Misty huffed, her bangs lifting with the exhalation, then wheeled on her four-inch stilettos. “I’ll be inside when you’re ready to leave.”
He turned toward Carly. “And I follow the money. I have a problem that I think you can help me with. I’ll make it worth your while.”
Please leave a comment to be entered into a drawing for Five and Twenty Blackbirds. I’d love to know if you’ve had an epiphany while visiting a place.
About the Author:
Leeann Betts writes contemporary suspense, while her real-life persona, Donna Schlachter, pens historical suspense. No Accounting for Murder and There Was a Crooked Man, books 1 and 2 in her By the Numbers series, released in the fall of 2015 Book 3, Unbalanced, released in January. Book 4, Five and Twenty Blackbirds, is due in April, with more planned for later dates. Leeann and Donna have penned a book on writing, Nuggets of Writing Gold, and you can follow Leeann at www.AllBettsAreOff.wordpress.com. All books are available in digital and print, and at Smashwords.com in digital.
Today Wednesday Writers featured author is multi-award-winning author Christine Lindsay. Christine will be telling us about some ancestral history that has influenced her books. Welcome, Christine!
MY IRISH ROOTS ARE A LITERARY BLESSING
There are a lot of things my ancestors did, so that I don’t have to look far for good material for a story. One of the accomplishments I’m proud of is they actually built the RMS Titanic. Not all by themselves, I admit, but my great-great grandfather and his son (my grandfather) were both riveters in the shipyard in Belfast, N. Ireland. In fact, my paternal grandfather’s first ship when he started as a 14-year-old apprentice was that very ship that was struck by an iceberg and went down in 1912.
However . . . as a family we accept no responsibility for the sinking of that infamous ship. All sounds rather hoity-toity, but I assure you most people who hail from N. Ireland had relatives who worked in the Belfast shipyard.
I always knew that one day I would write about those riveters like my great grandfather who built those liners. Always a dangerous trade, 5 to 8 casualties a year in the shipyard was considered acceptable back at when Titanic was launched. Thank God things have changed.
But as I started to write the story, I realized I didn’t want to write another Titanic novel, so I took the research that I’d done on riveters and placed it into another historical setting completely, that of building steel bridges in the same era but over here in North America, and the dangers of that trade.
Based on my research I wrote the following piece for the historical romance Sofi’s Bridge that shows the dangerous ballet of a riveter whether it be in shipbuilding or that of bridges.
“Watching the riveter’s ballet of throwing white-hot steel always made Neil’s stomach harden to a lump.
Neil picked out his brother, Jimmy, from among the men on the bridge deck, and expelled a long sigh. Working on those meager platforms hanging over the side, one slip, one fumble from that height…and a man could die.
On the deck, Jimmy rapped his elongated tongs against the cone-shaped catcher can, waiting for the man known as the heater. The heater sent Jimmy a nod and thrust the peg of steel into the portable cast iron forge. When the peg of metal glowed to a molten white, he pitched it forward. Jimmy caught it in the catcher can and inserted the glowing rivet into a hole in the girder. With the same concentration Neil would use with a scalpel, Jimmy waited for the bucker to place his buckling tool against the head of the rivet, and for the riveter to hammer it home.”
Like most people, I’m proud of my ancestry on both my mother and my father’s side. My mother’s family military history in India inspired my multi-award-winning historical trilogy Twilight of the British Raj, but my father’s history inspired Sofi’s Bridge which will be released May 1, 2016.
Seattle Debutant Sofi Andersson will do everything in her power to protect her sister who is suffering from shock over their father’s death. Charles, the family busy-body, threatens to lock Trina in a sanatorium—a whitewashed term for an insane asylum—so Sofi will rescue her little sister, even if it means running away to the Cascade Mountains with only the new gardener Neil Macpherson to protect them. But in a cabin high in the Cascades, Sofi begins to recognize that the handsome immigrant from Ireland harbors secrets of his own. Can she trust this man whose gentle manner brings such peace to her traumatized sister and such tumult to her own emotions? And can Neil, the gardener continue to hide from Sofi that he is really Dr. Neil Galloway, a man wanted for murder by the British police? Only an act of faith and love will bridge the distance that separates lies from truth and safety.
Also coming to Barnes & Noble and Christian Books.com
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Christine Lindsay is the author of multi-award-winning Christian trilogy Twilight of the British Raj, Book 1 Shadowed in Silk, Book 2 Captured by Moonlight, and Veiled at Midnight. Christine’s Irish wit is evident in her contemporary romance Londonderry Dreaming and in her newest release Sofi’s Bridge. This fun-loving author and her husband live on the west coast of Canada. Coming August 2016 is the release of Christine’s non-fiction Finding Sarah—Finding Me: A Birthmother’s Story.
Read the first chapter of Sofi’s Bridge for free by clicking HERE
Today Wednesday Writers welcomes back the author of the Lakeside Porch romance series. Katie’s fourth book in the series, Waking up to Love is now available. She’ll be talking about the wedding that takes place in this book and how she found the setting when she traveled to England. Lucky you, Katie!
Planning a Cornish Holiday Wedding
by Katie O’Boyle
Toward the end of Waking Up To Love, the heroine explodes with frustration when she discovers the hero has, on his own initiative, planned their wedding down to the last detail. He’s even booked the hall, ordered the flowers, and given the menu to the caterers. He and she wisely lock themselves in the library to review every detail together, and make changes as needed, until the heroine feels her wishes have been accommodated. Crisis averted, but not without tears (hers) and gnashing of teeth (his).
As the author, I had a different dilemma. What did I know about a holiday wedding in the south west of England? I’d wanted all my life to travel there, and it seemed the time had come to do just that. I booked a “Photographing the South West of England” trip with a lifelong friend. In London, we joined our merry band of photographers. By the end of the trip, I had outstanding photographs of a gorgeous area of the world, new friends, wonderful memories, and a deep appreciation for those who make their livelihood in Cornwall. And some insight into a Cornish holiday wedding.
It was our group’s good fortune to spend the first few days at Dillington House, a country estate complete with sheep, ancient oaks, and gardens that took our breath away. The moment I saw its Orangerie, I knew I was seeing the model for the reception in Waking Up To Love.
As we traveled to coastal towns and villages, I saw the hard-working practicality of the Cornish people, their dependence on one another, their humor, and their hospitality. One day our Welsh driver took his mandatory break, and a Cornish driver manned the bus. My friend and I sat up front and enjoyed a lively conversation with him and our guide about holiday traditions. Menus, gift-giving practices, gatherings, family traditions, religious observances, decorating the home, seasonal flowers. I heard about dishes like “figgy pudding” and “five-bird roast,” but mostly I heard laughter as we all shared our favorite food items and traditions.
That front-of-the-bus conversation was one of the highlights of the trip for me. Taken together, the joyful spirit, delicious details, moments spent in the holiness of old stone churches, wanderings in abundant gardens, and aromas of buffets laden with succulent goodness, I had what I needed to create a once-in-a-lifetime wedding for my hero and heroine. I hope you enjoy reading about the wedding as much as I enjoyed planning it.
Thanks for that great post about the book’s wedding setting. Now Katie has a treat for us–an excerpt of her latest book in the series-
Waking Up to Love.
Kyle Pennington broke Lyssa’s heart when he let her go, rather than interfere with her budding career. An ocean away now, Lyssa has fallen under the spell of golden-tongued Rand Cunningham who’s in a hurry to marry her. But Kyle is miserable without her and is willing to risk everything to get her back. Will Lyssa wake up in time to ask who she really loves?
Lyssa fixed a mug of chamomile tea and carried it into the bedroom. Moonlight streamed through the French door. Hunkered nearby was the last packing box, the one marked ‘Miscellaneous.’
She folded back the flaps. Justin had said Kyle wanted to send some things she’d left behind at Pennington House. There, on top, were her hiking shoes, the ones she’d ruined on the cliff path when the squall interrupted her last cliff walk with him.
She lifted one shoe out of the box. Padraig had cleaned and conditioned the leather. Sweet of him. She touched it all over, loving how soft and firm the leather was. The scrapes where she’d slid down the stone steps were just faint patches. The sole had not a trace of dirt or gravel or grass or salt spray.
She inhaled the smell of leather and shoe oil. And maybe a trace of rain off the Atlantic. And the scent left by Kyle’s strong square hands as he’d nestled the shoe in the box. She hugged the boot to her chest and let a few tears fall before reaching back into the box.
Just visible under its mate was a letter.
About the Author: Born in the upstate-New York village known as the Birthplace of Women’s Rights, Katie O’Boyle loves the Finger Lakes in every season. She enjoys lunch with friends at quaint inns, and she cherishes the lakeside porch as a place for intimate sharing, laughter, and inspiration. To the outside world, she’s a tech-savvy college professor. In her soul, she’s a passionate author of warm-hearted romance.
Find Katie O’Boyle on:
Biblical holiday traditions, Catherine Castle's Home for the Holiday blog series, Christmas reenactment, Christmas scavenger hunt, Christmas treasure hunts, Home for the Holidays with Author Rachel Windham, Jesus Box Christmas tradition
I hope you’ve been enjoying the Home for the Holidays posts this week. Rachel Windham is my guest today and she will be sharing some fantastic traditions her family have that remind them of the Reason for the Season.
Hi! Welcome to Home for the Holidays with Author, Rachel Windham.
Celebrating the WHO of Christmas became an important part of our holiday traditions many years ago. It started with my mother’s sudden blindness. One minute her world was filled with light; the next was total darkness. Not only did that pitch her into an unfathomable place, it altered our family dynamics. Holiday festivities she’d once hosted were deposited into the hands of others. Christmas was my delegated holiday, and I struggled to bring a sense of normalcy to our family as we grappled with the changes cast upon us. It seemed that the closeness we had always shared was buried beneath the redefined roles we had been given.
I knew I could carry on Mama’s traditions of offering platters of treats and having wrapped gifts for everyone, so I kept those things, following her example of making everyone’s favorite dish: peanut butter balls for my brother, blueberry cheesecake for my ailing dad, no-bake oatmeal cookies for the kids… But I also felt we needed more. We needed to make memories that went beyond eating, conversation, and gift-giving.
For me, Christmas was about celebrating the One who came to earth to save us. So that first Christmas, I dressed each child in Christmas story costumes, and donning my own biblical attire, told the story as they acted it out. Each child was then given a gift, symbolizing the Savior’s gift to us. That launched the next Christmas idea, one that would accommodate the children’s increased activity levels. This time, the children were the wise men traveling from afar. They started with a simple map that led them throughout the land, otherwise known as my house. Each place they visited (the bedroom, the bathroom…) offered surprising hospitality in the form of a small trinket until they finally arrived at the tree, where the Christ child, the truest Gift, lay wrapped in swaddling clothes.
The treasure hunt varied from year to year, but always there was an adventure that gave the children interactive fun, which they talked about the remainder of the year and which allowed the true meaning of Christmas to be a part of our gathering. Once, when the kids seemed on different maturity levels, I gave them individual clues for their quest, which as usual, eventually led them to the tree, to Jesus, to the reminder of His being our forever Christmas Gift, and to their awaiting, wrapped packages. Their separate journeys symbolized how we take different paths in life that lead us to Jesus, the gift waiting for us all.
As the children grew, other elements were incorporated. They decorated a birthday cake for the Christ child and sang “Happy Birthday.” A Jesus Box was added and opened on Christmas morning. In it were gifts to God, things ranging from problems and promises to talents and toys. Christmases have come and gone, and family dynamics have fluctuated, but always there are Mama’s goodies, the making of memories, and the focus on Jesus in our celebration
About the Author:
Rachel Windham’s priorities are God and family. Her books include children’s works, juvenile fiction, a greeting card resource, and most recently, a pet lover’s devotional. This year, she hands off the Christmas baton to her daughter and niece who plan to tuck the food, scavenger hunt, and Christmas story traditions into a Dr. Suess theme. Learn more about Rachel at rachelwindham.com.
I’m over at Joanne Guidoccio’s today talking garden tips. Hop on over and join the conversation.
I’m thrilled to welcome award-winning author and award-winning gardener Catherine Castle to the Power of 10 series. Today, Catherine shares her favorite gardening tips.
I’m a gardener and a writer. In fact, I can actually claim the title of award-winning gardener, thanks to the Shaker Farms Garden Club who awarded my garden the title of 2009 Best Hillside Garden. I also have a gardening blog on my website called A Writer’s Garden—Through the Garden Gates with… where I highlight the gardens of other authors. Today, I’d like to share my favorite, and often used, garden tips. I hope you’ll find them helpful. Please join me sometime at A Writer’s Garden.
1. When a tall sprig of poison ivy springs ups in the middle of your prized plants, don’t risk catching the itchy stuff by pulling it up. Instead, insert a paper towel tube, wrapped in plastic storage…
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Please join me in welcoming fellow author Catherine Castle today. She has stopped by to share an excerpt with us from her debut novel The Nun and The Narc. Feel free to introduce yourself in the comments below and be sure to pick up your copy of The Nun and The Narc.
Where novice Sister Margaret Mary goes, trouble follows. When she barges into a drug deal the local Mexican drug lord captures her. To escape she must depend on undercover DEA agent Jed Bond. Jed’s attitude toward her is exasperating, but when she finds herself inexplicable attracted to him he becomes more dangerous than the men who have captured them, because he is making her doubt her decision to take her final vows. Escape back to the nunnery is imperative, but life at the convent, if she can still take her final vows, will never be the same.
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I hope your Thanksgiving was good, and by now you’re probably in full swing toward Christmas preparations. When you get time for a break, consider reading the second book in my 2014 Christmas Reads blog series–A Christmas to Remember by Jenny Hale. I started reading one evening and before I knew it, it was 1:35 a.m. the next day.
The hubby kept saying, “Are you coming to bed?”
“One more chapter,” I replied, and I kept reading. I think I finally crawled under the covers about 3 a.m., and I couldn’t wait to get to the book the next evening.
Jenny has created a sweet romance about a nanny who is ready to give up her job and start her own life looking for a husband and beginning a family before she gets too much older. The hook for this book says it all.
This is a beautiful story about the magic of childhood Christmas memories, the strength of family and falling in love when you least expect it.
When the main character, Carrie Blake, sees the house where she is going to be a nanny she’s certain it will be a wonderful Christmas. The house is amazing, her employer handsome, and the children are adorable. But all is not well in the Fletcher household. Adam, a workaholic father, is not connecting with his children, and Carrie makes it her mission to ensure that this father and his adorable twin son and daughter make some Christmas memories. When his family arrives for the holidays she makes it her mission to reconnect him with them, too. She expects resistance from the workaholic man. What she doesn’t expect is … well, it’s a romance. Need I say more?
I loved this book. The children were adorable, the father handsome and successful, and Carrie, with her obsession with self-help books, is a perfect imperfect heroine.
Most romances have a hero/heroine POV. I was halfway through this book before I realized I had only seen the heroine’s POV, yet I knew exactly what the hero was thinking because the author portrayed him through the eyes of the heroine so well. The secondary characters were well-rounded, too.
The only negative thing I can say is sometimes the heroine’s inner thoughts took a meandering path to get to a conclusion, causing me to reread the paragraphs to remember what the original question/subject had been.
If you haven’t discovered Jenny Hale yet, I recommend this Christmas book, A Christmas to Remember, to you. I think you’ll love it, too.