This time of year always gets to me, in a good way. It’s a whole season of excitement filled with family and friends and even strangers wishing you a wonderful life. I’m grateful for each and every one of them. Even though 2011 has been a challenging year for my family, in many ways, it has been a year of renewed strength, shared wisdom and open embraces. I will never forget this year. And now, that the time has pushed us to the end of the calendar where we say goodbye to 2011 and hello to 2012, I have the same itch coursing through my veins that I get ever year at this time. It’s time to set my New Year’s goals.

Yup, I’m a goal setter. I actually make a list (not more than ten goals). They range from personal growth, to professional objectives, to reading a classic novel I’ve never read before. I think hard about them before committing them to an index card which I insert into the sleeve of my Day-Timer and carry with me. It’s funny at the times when I thought I didn’t have another minute or energy to spare, I’d find that list and it made me realize the promise I made to myself and somehow I’d find the time to do fulfill the vow.

Looking back on my list, I’m satisfied that given the additional commitments I’ve shouldered in 2011, I did pretty darn good in meeting my goals. Could I have done better? Probably. I know at times, I’ve left life upset me to the point I didn’t feel like pushing myself, but, that is a lesson learned. So with 2012 staring me in the face and armed with new-found wisdom, I’m making my goal list for 2012 tonight. Tomorrow, I’ll kiss this year goodbye and start on a new leg of the journey called life. WINK

Sharing Christmas

Posted by Scarlet Pumpernickel | 3:32 PM | 11 comments »

MM started this so I thought I'd continue the trend. Anyone else who wants to add to this feel free! Here are my two beautiful granddaughters with my son and daughter in law.

Here are the girls sitting on Santa's lap. The little one isn't quite sure what to make of Santa.

Now, a look back at some things from the past, my daughter and I took the 12 year old to Birmingham to the Justin Bieber concert.

We enjoyed a well deserved fall break at Hilton Head. My husband, daughter and I really enjoyed our visit. In fact, we like it so much that DH and I are going back again later this month. We've reserved a condo and will take the entire family this time.

This amazing sand sculpture is in the lobby of the Marriott Resort & Spa on Hilton Head. Isn't it amazing? Made my creativity jump-start just looking at it.

What about you? What are your favorite memories?

Merry Christmas All!

Posted by Mary Marvella | 4:20 PM | | 13 comments »



One of my favorite things to do is to plan parties.  During this time of year, I host the annual "Griswald" Christmas party which is always a blast.

As I prepare for the evening, it occurs to me that perhaps I can provide some party planning ideas for those of you that are challenged in this department.

So here we go:  (Feel free to ask questions in comments)

The first thing I do is set a date.  I never ask people which date works best for them because, I'd end up trying to make accommodations everyone based on when they are available and end up never setting a date.  So pick a date that works best for you and your family.

The second item to do is to decide on a theme.  I have the same theme (Controlled Chaos) every year.  We have a dirty gift swap (steal the gift thing), lots of appetizers, wine and other beverages and a special "improv" game that I surprise guests with.

Another portion of the theme is food.  One year it was Chinese, which is easy and inexpensive, another it was BBQ, yet another European.  This year it will be appetizer-mania, so when I confirm with the guests and they ask what to bring I am prepared with an answer.  "An appetizer dish or a bottle of wine!"

The third thing to do is invite the peeps.  I start with an e-vite at then I follow up with reminders and phone calls.  Remind them to bring a fun gift for the gift exchange.

Good Pointers:

     I always have extra inexpensive gifts for the exchange so that everyone can play.

     Don't over clean your house to the point that it looks sterile, your guests will be too busy worrying about messing it up to relax and have fun.  Southern living homes can stay in the magazine!

     Someone has to be the MC, the person that announces starts of games and controls the drawing etc.  I am a control freak, so I do this at my party.

      Give your guests duties, they will love it!  I ask my guests to assist with the food.  (They will ask you. "What can I do to help." so say the following.  "If you don't mind, can you please keep an eye on the food and beverages just to make sure everything is stocked for me?"  Give that assignment to two or three and they'll be glad to have an assignment.  Others I ask to keep an eye to ensure coats and purses are stashed on my bed or another high surface so my stupid chihuahuas won't pee on them.

     Oh yeah last but not least.  Shop, wrap, straighten up, set up and finish what can be cooked ahead, Get as much done by the day before the party. On the day of the party all you do is reheat food, place plates, utensils, ice buckets, etc, NOTHING ELSE!  You do not want to be too tired to have fun.

So now go forth and do what Hildie says.  Make a list, set a schedule and have a blast!

Merry Christmas!!

Visit my blog if you get a chance, I'm going to be starting a great series' on party planning! So come over and "follow" and "Subscribe"!

Cheers my friends!

Dozens of romance authors will be blogging and you're the winners!

Every post will include a prize of print books, eBooks or GCs and more -- and every comment earns you an entry!

Visit both guest blogs every weekday starting Monday 12/19/11 - Friday 12/30/11

My post is tomorrow, December 21, on the Whipped Cream page, and I am giving away a lovely silver necklace that looks like wings!!

During the holiday season, love is in the air. But what is its true meaning? Since the beginning of time people have searched for that answer.
Great writers, such as Maya Angelou, Shakespeare, and Elizabeth Barrett Browning have written about it. Consider the words of William Blake:
Love seeketh not itself to please, nor for itself hath any care, but for another gives its ease, and builds a Heaven in Hell's despair." William Blake, English poet, (1757-1827)
In our culture we’ve created a maze of meanings for love--some good, so bad. To me, love is found in the small things that we do.
Love is more than fireworks and nights of passionate lovemaking. It often is found in the smallest acts that we perform on a daily basis. In fact, in our quests to find the real essence of love, we’ve stumbled across some amazing facts about that little four-letter word.
Love is what you feel when you look into the eyes of your child for the first time.
Love is when your heartbeat quickens every time your significant other enters a room. Even ten years into the relationships.
Love is helping your mother or grandmother open a can of green beans when her fingers are hurting from arthritis.
Love is when someone hurts you really bad and you find a way to forgive him or her.
Love is treating yourself to a day at the spa.
Love is saying no when saying yes will cause harm to someone.
Love is when you help a friend in need.
Love is when you smile and say thank you to the waiter/waitress who just messed up your order.
Love is cuddling up with your cat and dog and reading a good book on a rainy day.
Love is the foundation of everything good. It’s one of the reasons we exist. We need love like we need water. Without it we often fall into depression.
What are your thoughts on love?

This week I’ve had the joy of having two novels released, one by Class Act Books and one by The Wild Rose Press. Both are futuristic romances, teetering on the edge of science fiction, and one’s subject matter caused a bit of controversy and concern for the publisher. I had fun writing both of these stories because they offered such a disparity on the theme of romance.

Variation, my new novel from The Wild Rose Press isn’t, in spite of its subject matter, an M/M or ménage novel. Instead, it’s the story of what happens when a very strict, prudish man is forced to work closely with someone whose life is diametrically opposed to his own.


What happens when the girl of your dreams is also the man from your waking life?

Federation agent Gabriel Marsh finds himself asking just that question when he’s teamed with Aleksandr Karanov. Lexei’s pretty as a picture and deadly as a cobra; he’s also a variant, a mutant who can change sex at will, something which just may come in handy on their new assignment. Marsh, however, has some adjusting to do where his new partner’s concerned—both morally and emotionally. His association with Lexei is ambivalent at best, prejudicial at worst, and the way he’s beginning to feel about Deirdre, Lexei’s female Other Self doesn’t even bear thinking about.

Damn it, I’m falling in love with a woman who doesn’t exist!


The doors opened automatically as he approached them and he went inside. Standing in the lobby, he glanced around. It was stark and modern, done in unrelieved white and chrome, glittering and antiseptic. There was furniture in the lobby and genuine living greenery in ceramic urns making a backdrop to the set-up, but no people around. Vaguely, he was thankful for that. At least no one’s seen me going in.

From somewhere above him, he could hear music, and without knowing why, decided to follow the sound. He didn’t even check for Karanov’s name on the tenant register. Would it actually be there?

The music led him up two flights of non-escalating stairs to a door in the center of the hallway, a door which, when he tapped the inter-com pad, slowly swung open. Suspecting a trick, he stepped to one side, carefully pulled the Winchester TR-27 out of its shoulder holster and pushed the door completely open.

Cautiously, Marsh looked in. What he saw was unexpected but totally enjoyable.

A pair of softly rounded buttocks and slender white legs. A young woman, back to the door, doing some type of calisthenics. Bemidjian aerobics, if her gyrations were any indication. She appeared to be wearing nothing more than a towel and Marsh wondered how long it would be before her movements caused the tucked velourcloth rectangle to dislodge and end up on the carpet. He felt a flick of latent lust, wondering if he had enough time to wait and see. There was a headset over her ears and the way she was pausing slightly between each movement told him she was listening to a physical fitness lecture, and that, combined with the loudness of the music, was the reason she hadn’t heard his knock.

She finished the call and tossed the headset onto the counter of the little kitchenette and spun around. Damp curls bobbing, she was in the middle of a deep stretch making the breasts under the towel rise dangerously, when she saw Marsh standing there, gun in hand. Immediately, she squealed and fell against the counter. Scrambling behind it, she stood with arms crossed over her breasts, which were still pretty well covered as far as he could tell.

For just a minute, they stared at each other.

She recovered fast. Jerking the headset away from her ears, she tossed it on the counter, then touched a button on the control panel set into it. As the music died away, she said, without a quaver, “You must be Marsh, Lexei’s new partner. Come in, shut the door, and put away the hardware. We’re friendly here.”

The second novel is For the Love in Adler’s Brain, released by Class Act Books. This tale began as a short story and then grew into a novelette. It’s also about a threesome that’s also not the usual kind.

For the Love in Adler’s Brain, Blurb:

A man…a woman…her android lover…

When Rena Pearson hires Luc Kai’leel to find her boyfriend’s brain, he thinks the lady’s a little…shall we say…confused? Then he learns that Marcus Adler was an android, an EHR-1, to be exact, and the Federation’s best assassin. Adler wanted to quit killing and settle down with Rena. Instead, he’s blown to bits, and all that’s left is a tiny bit of his memory bank and that surviving chip is communicating with his mourning sweetheart.

The Federation also wants Adler’s brain, in order to access the secrets it holds. The android knew too much and they don’t dare let that information get away.

So Luc agrees to help, but only because he’s a romantic at heart. You see, he’s fallen in love with the damsel in distress. Now all he has to do is rescue Adler’s brain while he tries to convince the woman he loves that a real man is better than an artificial one.

How can you fight a rival when he exists only in a woman’s mind?


“Marcus was killed three weeks ago. Someone spot-bombed his car.” For just a moment, she looked tearful and, whether she was crazy or not, the sight momentarily tugged at his heart. “They didn't find enough to bury.”

“We can’t assume his brain went the way the rest of his body did?”

She ignored his remark. “I think the Federation was behind it.”

Oh, great! So she has a government-persecution complex on top of everything else. Silently, he wondered if this was a punishment of some kind. Out of all the investigation agencies on the planet, why did she have to choose his to bring her delusions to?

“The Federation?” he echoed, thinking just how stupid he sounded.

“There were Marshals everywhere immediately afterward. One of them found something in the wreckage. I saw him put it in a small plasticon-baggie.”The picture she was painting displayed itself luridly in his mind…twisted remains of what had been an automobile… black uniformed agent holding a soft, bloody object in his hands. “Later, when I asked him about it, he denied having found anything but I know better. It was Marcus’ brain. I know it was.” A hand brushed at her eyes.

“How can you be so sure?”

“Marcus told me!”

Uh-oh! She’s worse off than I thought. Definitely certifiable, positively winged-out. Maybe dangerous?

Slowly, Luc’s left hand inched toward the red Emergency button in the telephone console on the left side of the desk. One tap and the med-techs at the local psychiatric hospital would be alerted; they and their air-borne ambulance could be here in three minutes, armed with tranquilizer guns and restraining gear. He had a moment’s regret at what he was about to do, but the girl definitely needed help. And not from me.

“I wouldn’t do that!” She saw the movement. His hand stopped, but as he started to deny the action, she placed her own on the little purse resting in her lap. “You might not like what would happen if I give this a squeeze.”

“What’ve you got in there?” A bomb? Some type of poisonous gas in a capsule which would break when pressure was applied? He wasn’t going to do anything to find out. He placed both hands in the center of the desk, one over the other.

“That’s better.”

“Miss Powell, just tell me what’s so important about your boyfriend’s brain that someone would want to steal it?”

“It’s a positronic brain, Mr. Kai’Leel.” With her hand still on the purse, she relaxed a little, settling herself

“What’s your boyfriend’s last name?”

“Adler, after his creator.”

Turning to the desk unit, he typed in the two words. In a moment, he looked back at her. “There’s no Marcus Adler listed, deactivated or otherwise.”

“There wouldn't be.”


She gave him a quiet, triumphant stare. “Have you ever heard of Moondeath, Mr. Kai’Leel?”

Of course, he had. Everyone had heard of Moondeaththe Federation’s ultimate killer, with a perfect record, the only assassin whose identity was a well-kept secret. No one knew his human name or what he looked like, and because of that, he’d achieved near folk-legend status among the civilian population, as well as making millionaires out of several men who’d bet their every tangible bit of property on his kills.

If Marcus Adler was Moondeath, and Moondeath was now defunct... She certainly had his attention now.

“Maybe you’d better tell me everything.”

Buy Link for Variation:

Buy Link for For the Love in Adler’s Brain:

Holidays are a time for family and friends, but with all we have to do it seems there is little time left over to spend with the family and friends. Let me share my philosophy, which will help relieve the stress your feeling. Your family and friends will never know or notice what you didn’t get done. They will only see all that you did do.

So this year, I’m baking a limited amount of Christmas cookies and not the piles I normally do. There are always so many left over and I’m the one who tries to eat as many as I can before feeding the rest to the birds and deer. I don't need or have time to spend extra minutes on the treadmill.

Everyone will get one wrapped gift this year, so they get that feeling of opening a surprise package but the rest of the gifts are going into bags or are card gifts.

Christmas breakfast will be a crockpot filled with cream chipped beef which can be made the day before. Christmas dinner will not be the sit down dinner that Thanksgiving was, but trays of lasagna which I also will make the day before. I'm using throw away trays mind you. WINK And, desert will be cookies, chocolates, fruit amd maybe a pie or two.

Am I being lazy. No. My whole family isn't able to get together very often. Life is too busy for us all. I don't want to spend it in the kitchen. I'd rather enjoy them. Memories are made when you're together, not over the internet.

So do you have any time-saving hints or recipes for this holiday?

It is finally live! Check out this novella about a wealthy Atlanta, Georgia lawyer who loses a bet and learns humility when he has to go to work at the Waffle House or admit he can't fulfill a challenge.

Brock was raised wealthy and has never done menial labor. He never needed a real part time job that involved hard work. That will change while he works at the law firm with his partners by day and at the Waffle House at night.

Get it free here.

I've always wanted to drive--even ride in--an Aston Martin.  My hero in Sinners' Opera drives a Vanquish S.  Another car nut friend of mine brought one over today, and I actually got to drive Morgan's car.  I know what color the dash lights are and what the pedals feel like and how fast that sleek sportscar can leap from one gear to the other.  I was in heaven. Research, you understand, just research.  NOT!  If I had $100,000 for a 2005 Vanquish S, that handsome devil would be in the parking lot tonight.  Unfortunately, Mr. Fast and Hot will have to stay in the realms of my dreams.  Just had to share a very momentuos occasion--1 wish struck from my Bucket List.

With Christmas so close, I suspect many of us have forgotten what happened on December 7, 1941.

Yes, the United States of America was yanked into a war we thought we could avoid. Much damage was done and many people died that day and for the rest of the second war that involved countries all over the world. Today such a war would involve weapons that could destroy the world, or at least the world as we know it.

The title is Happy Friday, December 8 because we are in the midst of a season of giving and celebration. We mustn't forget history or the reason for the Christmas Season. More than 2,000 years ago a man was born to change the world for the better, to give mankind hope and teach us to love our neighbors and live in peace.

This is not intended to be a sermon, though I learned much from my Baptist preacher daddy whose story I will tell in a later blog. I can preach with the best!

Making a difference is a goal we should each embrace every day. There are so many ways to we can do this. Writers and artists aim to reach a lot of people we will never see in person. We can offer hope or just respite from difficult situations. We make folks laugh and cry and believe happiness can be theirs.

1. Smile at everyone tomorrow and the next day. Watch people return the smiles.

2. Allow yourself to do things that make you feel good. People around you will catch your good moods. I wear jewelry that makes me smile or even grin at the extravagance. I like bright, shiny things.

3. Instead of mumbling greetings we don't really mean, mean them! "How are you?" we ask, then continue to walk without waiting for a response, or we stay in the same place but tune out and miss the answer. Ask the question and listen for the answer.

4. "Have a nice day." Take the time to look a person in the eye when you say that. SMILE. Reach out with your spirit and send support to that person. (If said person is a great looking man, well.. Just kidding.)

5. Offer a compliment and watch the person you compliment smile. When someone says something nice about you, smile and accept it.

6. Be thankful you can read this message on a computer in s house with running water and indoor bathrooms and...

7 - Opinions? Thoughts? Suggestions? Everyone responding will get a free download of the Christmas book I am trying to publish in the next day or two.

Christmas's Best Bet, Humble Pie.
A self-centered, wealthy lawyer learns humility when he loses a bet and has to work at a Waffle House as for a month.

Happy Friday, December 8 and Merry Christmas if I don't see you or talk to you before December 25.

Learning to Let go

Posted by Hildie McQueen | 5:00 AM | , , | 16 comments »

Learning to let go. 

Have we all not heard the cliché phrase, “if you love something let it go, if it returns it’s yours if it doesn’t, I never was?” That my friends, is a lesson I am in the process of learning yet again. 
When you love someone, it’s natural to step in front of him or her and try to protect them from what we see as a mistake or a dangerous situation.  That is what we’re supposed to do is it not?  I’d want someone to let me know how much they love me by doing that for me. 


Maybe, it’s not truly what love is about.  Sometimes we need to love someone enough to step aside, to wait on the sideline.  Maybe we prove our love by not stopping them as they walk away, but instead to allow them the space to find the answers for themselves.
I remind myself during times like these, that everyone has a destiny, a path they must embark upon in order to learn whatever lesson God has for them.  It’s not up to me to decide which ‘mistakes’ they should avoid or what decisions they should make.
Then one day I may stand with my arms around them and either comfort them after the fall or congratulate them for their successes.  Either way, my only job is to love.
All of us go through the goodbye process sooner or later.  Whether it is a friend moving, a lover breaking our heart, a child bound for college or an older relative crossing to the other side.  Each time, pain and grief for our loss encompasses us for a time. 
Whether for a long or short time, I am convinced that to hold on to the pain and not allow ourselves to instead concentrate on the good times, the fun experiences with them or the lessons they taught us while in our life we are not being fair to them, or ourselves either.
One day I will perfect the art of letting go, the grace of moving out of the way and maintaining a positive attitude in the knowledge that God is always in control, not them and certainly not me.



Posted by Mona Risk | 7:46 AM | 11 comments »

Publishing your own book is the new trend, fashionable enough to be adopted by NY bestselling authors and finally accepted by the Romance Writers of America, RWA, who presented a survey article on the topic in the latest RWR.

To support and help each other in their promotion efforts, Indie authors have organized themselves in groups, and new multi-authors blogs recently sprouted all over the Internet.

Click on picture to visit the site
 The Book Lovers' Buffet counts over 90 Indie authors who reduced the prices of their ebooks to 99 cents for the Holiday Season. 
Click on picture to visit the 99cent EBOOKS blog
The 99cent EBOOKS blog counts about 25 authors who post excerpts of their
ebooks, one excerpt a day.

The advantage of being self-published is that you are in control of your book, its publication and promotion.

Recently I changed the book cover of RIGHT NAME, WRONG MAN and its blurb. No problem. I just uploaded the new picture and new blurb.

A romantic comedy novel set in France:

What’s a girl to do when she whispers another man’s name in her fiancé’s arms?

When forbidden dreams about the sexy French Dr. Yves Malroux assail her at every turn, Mary-Beth puts her wedding plans on hold. She signs up for a summer training program in surgery with Yves, and flies to France to confront her past and the man who broke her heart years ago.

But she never expected the French doctor--who’s also a count-- to insist on his trainees staying at his historical chateau. Sleeping under his roof, next door to his bedroom, is more temptation than Mary-Beth anticipated. Desire for Yves burns as hot as ever, especially when he focuses all his charm on Mary-Beth to convince her she needs passion in her life. While too many questions still swirled in her mind, her jealous fiancé summons her back home.

Will Mary-Beth let her heart decide who’s her right man? Will Yves break his no-strings-attached rule to offer love and commitment?

If you like to travel and love to read, come and enjoy my international romances. I will take you around the world through stories that simmer with emotion and sizzle with passion. Meet the spirited heroines and the alpha heroes who share irresistible chemistry.

Joanne Deals of the Day

Posted by Josie | 1:28 PM | 7 comments »

Hi Everyone,
My first deal is from our very own Beth Trissel from the Pink Fuzzies.
Her light paranormal romance Somewhere My Love from the Wild Rose Press, is available free today:

Thank you, Beth! You are an awesome writer!

It's that time of month for to offer 80% off their certificates. Use coupon code: GIFT

Speaking of food, Williams-Sonoma offers free cooking classes every Sunday. Call your local store for more information.

Have a great Monday, everyone!

Favorite quote: "I can't afford to save any more money."

Joanne Deals of the Day

Posted by Josie | 5:47 PM | 8 comments »

Hi Everyone,
It's Sunday, December 4th, and many of us are in Christmas shopping mode. Check out for beautiful jewelry. Use coupon code NOEL1 for $25.00 off your $50.00 purchase, plus free shipping.

We love Starbucks, so check this deal out. Buy 4 Starbucks e-gift cards using your Visa card, and get a free $5.00 card for yourself. You'll find the info at is a great way to hook up with a military family and show your support by sending them expired coupons. Check it out!

Favorite quote: "I can't afford to save any more money."

“Somehow, not only for Christmas,
But all the long year through,
The joy that you give to others,
Is the joy that comes back to you.
And the more you spend in blessing,
The poor and lonely and sad,
The more of your heart’s possessing,
Returns to you glad.”
John Greenleaf Whittier~

One of my all time favorite Christmas stories is The Other Wise Man by Henry Van Dyke.  I remember sitting in a family circle while my mom, tears in her eyes, read this timeless classic.  A soul-touching Christmas tradition.  The Other Wise Man always makes me cry every time I read it.

From Classic Reader:
“You know the story of the Three Wise Men of the East, and how they travelled from far away to offer their gifts at the manger-cradle in Bethlehem. But have you ever heard the story of the Other Wise Man, who also saw the star in its rising, and set out to follow it, yet did not arrive with his brethren in the presence of the young child Jesus? Of the great desire of this fourth pilgrim, and how it was denied, yet accomplished in the denial; of his many wanderings and the probations of his soul; of the long way of his seeking and the strange way of his finding the One whom he sought–I would tell the tale as I have heard fragments of it in the Hall of Dreams, in the palace of the Heart of Man.”

Van Dyke goes on to weave the beautiful story of Artaban, the fourth Wiseman, and how he sacrifices his every cherished gift for the Christ child in the service of mankind and, in doing so, ultimately for Christ,  The message is profound and badly needed in this world.

From Goodreads:

“1895. American clergyman, educator, and author, Van Dyke explains the origins of the story of the Fourth Wise Man as having arrived suddenly and without labor.  One night he saw him distinctly, moving through the shadows in a little circle of light.  His countenance was as clear as the memory of his father’s face. The narrative of his journeyings and trials and disappointments ran without a break. Even certain sentences came complete and unforgettable, clear-cut like a cameo. All that he had to do was to follow Artaban, step by step, as the tale went on, from the beginning to the end of his pilgrimage…”

Fascinating how this story came to him.  No wonder it rings true and makes me think maybe there really was another wise man.  The Magi have always intrigued me. I'd love to know more about them.

Night Before Doomsday is novella that was inspired by a quote from Genesis, "The sons of God saw that the daughters of men were fair; and they took wives for themselves from those who were pleasing to them."

So, I read the Book of Enoch to find out more about these angels who fell from grace for the love—or was it lust—of a woman. Below is a blurb.

Azazel was a leader of the Grigori, the angels sent to Earth to teach Mankind after the oust from Eden, how to survive in a less hospitable environment. Nine-tenths of the Grigori fell from Grace, but was it love or lust?

This novella presents the Grigori's tale in first person from Azazel's point of view--the temptations, his struggles and the final realization that Heaven doesn't speak to him anymore.

Excerpt is available.

Night Before Doomsday is on sale at Amazon for $.99—an inexpensive glance into a mystery.

My son, Simon, designed the cover!