Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Thoughts on This Year by Cherime MacFarlane


Dear Gentle Readers,
Today's post is by the talented and interesting Cherime MacFarlane, author and adventuress. This woman has done it all, and with gusto. Her joy of life and deep capacity for love shine through in all her work. And now, Cherime...

"This has been an eventful year. The highlight of the entire year was the month long vacation I took in July. I know it won't appeal to everyone, but driving 3,398 miles one way from Wasilla to Las Vegas for the writer's conference there was an amazing trip. Going home I drove west on the Yellowhead Highway in Canada to Prince Rupert and caught the Alaska Marine Highway back to Haines. From there I drove home. It was just me, my little truck, text to speech on my Kindle and hot, hot music.



I got a lot of pictures and determined that one of my favorite drives in the whole world, the Cassiar Highway from the Alcan down to the Yellowhead was still one amazing drive.

Through it all I did manage to publish several books, The Templars Treasure which finds Lori and Hamish MacGrough celebrating their 28th wedding anniversary in fine chaotic MacGrough style in the glen. The children are all grown up and giving Hamish fits. The Twisted Laird the next one dealing with the MacGroughs, tells how the clan lost the glen after Culloden. I am including a jpeg of the cover. This one is scheduled to be released near the end of the year. Maybe on my birthday, now there is a thought.






On another front, the Copper River Romance series, Deirdre of the Sorrows takes the reader into the shadow world of three children, two of which have a common father. An alcoholic, the father and stepfather, abuses the children and initiates a tragedy that changes the lives of the young adults in major ways. 


I really to wish to thank all the readers out there who have embraced these children of mine. In the years to come, I hope you continue to dip into the indie author pool for entertainment. Come on in, the water's fine."
                                  -  Cherime MacFarlane

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Favorite Holiday Cocktail Recipes

Good Morning Gentle Readers,

Today I have for you the favorite holiday cocktail recipes for your holiday parties.  These are from FREE-N-FUN Christmas, a part of the Oriental Trading Co.  This site holds a plethora of ideas on decorating, homemade gifts for crafters of all ages, and recipes. If you are not familiar with this site, you still have time to acquaint yourself.

My personal favorite cocktail is the Peach Bellini.  I first had one in Venice long ago.  I don't know how THEY made it, but I use equal parts Prosecco and peach juice.  I have used white grape juice when I couldn't find peach juice.  Frozen grapes make good ice cubes in this version.  Try one.

Have a wonderful day!
Hugs,
Carol


Link:











Monday, December 29, 2014

The Christmas Wreath by Angela Ford


The Christmas Wreath
by Angela Ford


Dear Gentle Readers,
I know there were many Christmas stories out there this year.  But this one, The Christmas Wreath, deserves a look.  Four young women get together and buy a tree farm and in the process, save the town.  Each girl has her own store and this one is Annie's.
Have a great day.  Do something for YOU today.
Hugs,
Carol


Angela Ford


    Amazon Buy Link:
    http://www.amazon.com/Christmas-Wreath-Forever-Book-ebook/dp/B00P8BNH9M/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1419827207&sr=1-1&keywords=the+christmas+wreath+by+angela+ford

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Angela Ford's Favorite Christmas Activity


My Most Memorable Christmas Activity


by Angela Ford                                                    



My most memorable Christmas activity began when my daughter turned three years old and I took her to the Nutcracker. My little ballerina wanted to see 'real ballerinas' - her exact words. I remember asking her after the show if it had been everything magical she'd expected. She said 'yes but they didn't talk'. For Christmas that year I got her a VHS of Barbie Nutcracker. She still has it fourteen years later! 



And yes, for the past fourteen years we have seen the ballet every Christmas season. A treasured tradition we continue!





My Christmas Romance this year is called The Christmas Wreath. A sweet love story enjoyable for all ages. Love may hide but it's never lost.The magic of Christmas unites two hearts together forever. 

Cover, Me & Teaser & Book Trailer attached for The Christmas Wreath :)
Also added a pic of our Christmas Cookbook put out this year :)
And The Christmas Wreath is part of the Forever Christmas series (Book 3) - added pic for you...but they are all stand alone reads. http://www.amazon.com/Forever-Christmas-Reflections-Wreath-Kisses-ebook/dp/B00PKQ4E7Y/

Here are my social media links & universal buy links...one global link takes each reader into their own Amazon country.
Romantic Escapes – Angela Ford – Website/Blog http://www.angelafordauthor.com
Amazon Universal Links for Angela Ford Books
Forbidden (Closure’s sequel) - http://getbook.at/Amazon-Forbidden
The Christmas Wreath - http://mybook.to/ChristmasWreath-AngelaFord


Saturday, December 27, 2014

My Christmas Memories by Debbie Herbert




My Christmas Memories 
by Debbie Herbert


This Christmas, my memories are mostly of my mother who passed away a few days before Thanksgiving.  Christmas was her favorite time of year and she always looked forward to pulling down the dozens of boxes of holiday decorations the day after Thanksgiving.  I mean even the bathrooms were decorated in red and gold.  And those decorations would stay in place until January 2, when she reluctantly and lovingly packed up the decorations for the following season.  I grew up listening to Andy Williams sing Christmas carols, Christmas cards arriving in the mailbox every day for weeks and the smell of baking.  We always made sugar cookies with green and red sprinkles and Mom would proclaim that it wasn't Christmas without my grandmother's homemade fruitcake.


I'll try my best to find joy and peace this season but it will be hard without Mom here to share it.  I'll seek joy in the small things and keep my family and friends close to my heart.

Wishing you all a wonderful Christmas and may all your dreams come true now and in the new year ahead!

Friday, December 26, 2014

Maria Grazia Swan's Reflections on Christmas



Reflections on Christmas
by Maria Grazia Swan


The things I miss most about Christmas past are really the things of the past.

Midnight Mass was a sure thing. No one had to get to bed early because we didn’t get gifts on Christmas Day. Our gifts, or charcoal, arrived on January 6th, day of the Epiphany.

Now it’s Christmas’ day and Christmas’ tree. Ho, Ho, Ho.


Italian Christmas songs were sung during mass.  And that was the only time of the year we enjoyed ‘Tu scendi dalle stelle.’

Now is Jingle Bells sung in Italian.



The church was freezing cold.

Now they have heat.


After mass, we gathered in big groups and went to private homes to enjoy homemade hot chocolate and store bought cookies. (seriously)

Nowadays, everyone rushes from church to their cars and hurry home to hide the gifts for the little ones.

Bah! Humbug!

Buon Natale a tutti.


Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas from Vision and Verse

Art by Parker Kaufman

We wish you a Merry Christmas.  We wish you a full and happy heart, loaded with love and peace and goodwill.  We wish you warm, wonderful, intimate time with your family members, making memories that will last for many lifetimes.  We wish you good food, good friends, good wine, and great presents.  And may you carry the wonderful spirit of Christmas in your heart every day of the year.

Hugs,
Carol and Staff 


Wednesday, December 24, 2014

J. C. McKenzie's Christmas Sinterklaas Dag


Sinterklaas Dag (Saint Nicholas Day)
by J.C. McKenzie



    My father was born in one of the oldest towns in the Netherlands and grew up skating on frozen dikes and eating salted licorice. Then Hitler’s armies marched on Europe and the world turned to chaos. Our family survived the Second World War and Nazi occupation, but after the Berlin Blockade of 1948, many, including my Opafeared communism would sweep Europe

    As the cost to rebuild far exceeded the cost of providing a cash incentive, the Dutch government paid citizens to leave the country, and Canada offered a fresh start to many Dutch families. My dad immigrated to Canada with his family when he was only ten years old. He learned English on the boat over to North America by reading comic books and once his family settled in Ontario, his dad (my Opa) switched to speaking English and insisted the family be “Canadian,” not Dutch. My Opa wanted to blend in and embrace his new country. 

    
    Although my dad complied and became very much an English speaking Canadian, one Dutch celebration remained—Sinterklaas Dag.  Saint Nicholas is what the North American Santa Claus is based on, but there are a few differences. Sinterklaas rides on a white horse instead of a sleigh pulled by twelve reindeer (thirteen if you count Rudolph); instead of elves, he as a helper named Zwarte Piet; and instead of gifts on December 25thSinterklaasdelivers chocolatekruidnootjes (small ginger cookies) and other goodies on December 5th in children’s wooden clogs (klompen) if they’ve been good. If they’ve been bad, the children get coal in their klompen, instead. If they’ve been really bad, Zwarte Piet would throw them in his sack and take them away.

    On December 5th, my sister and I would wake up, excited, and run to the kitchen, smelling of oatmeal, to find ouchocolate letters. I always thought her “H” had more chocolate than my “J” and wished I could change my name. My dad would prattle off something in Dutch with a glint in his eye. He’d pull our pigtails and tease us about having to wait until after dinner to eat our chocolate. We never did. 

    Later, I would check my usually empty mailbox in the dorms at University to find my chocolate letter. Even later, when living in New Zealand, I’d receive the chocolate letter, shipped all the way from Canada with love. Later still, back in Canada, I’d get a package with letters for me, my husband and our son. 
December 5th is the day the Dutch celebrate Sinterklaas. To me, it’s a day of love, smelling of oatmeal and chocolate, and the day I celebrate my Dutch heritage.

J.C. McKenzie 
Urban Fantasy Author 
www.jcmckenzie.ca 
@JC_McKenzie 


*Available Now* 
Shift Happens (Carus Series, Book 1), The Wild Rose Press 
The Shucker's Booktique (A Lobster Cove Book), The Wild Rose Press 

*Available Soon* 
Beast Coast (Carus Series, Book 2), The Wild Rose Press 

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

The Spirit of the Season by Iona Morrison




 The Spirit of the Season
by
Iona Morrison


 I love so many things about the Christmas season. I enjoy our traditions both old and new, the ornaments, and the decorations. I love the family gatherings with kids and grandkids. I love the laughter that trickles out around the table in conversation and games that are played late in to the night. But, more than that, there is a certain magical feeling about this time of year that goes beyond the twinkling lights, gifts, and the smiling faces of children. It seems for a brief span of time the tone and rhetoric around us changes. There is no chastising of the poor for being poor, but we find creative ways to do good for others.



 The glitter and snow falling like confetti is no match for the amazing stories of goodwill we hear of during the holidays. Like the story of a Jewish man I met, who played Santa Claus to poor children visiting them at their homes much to their delight. Bringing with him the gifts, they had asked for in their letters to Santa. In such acts of kindness, we can see if only briefly, a glimpse of our better selves. We are able to view what a wonderful place our world could be if we were kind, generous, and loving all year round. It renews our hope in being human when we see the lights of Christmas and Chanukah and we believe again that there is still some good left in the world. It is in this season more than at any other time, that we open ourselves not only to our family, but also to the human family letting the love and the joy of the season spill out into good deeds.

             I wish you the joy of your traditions, your family and friends and most of all I wish you the joy of doing good to someone who needs it.


Links:

http://www.amazon.com/The-Harvest-Club-Iona-Morrison/dp/1628305215/ref=tmm_pap_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1408931585&sr=8-4

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-harvest-club-iona-morrison/1120260630?ean=2940150339941&cm_mmc=AFFILIATES-_-Linkshare-_-Vj3kxGRfbmI-_-10:1&r=1

http://www.wildrosepublishing.com/maincatalog_v151/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=191&products_id=5827

http://ionamorrison.com/

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Harvest-Club-Iona-Morrison/dp/1628305215/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1416872625&sr=1-1&keywords=the+harvest+club

Dear Vision and Verse readers,

I will be reviewing Iona's The Harvest Club early in January.  Keep an eye out for this suspenseful surprise of a read.

Hugs,
Carol

Monday, December 22, 2014

Shirley A. McElhaney's Christmas Memories

"Hummmm...

Favorite Christmas memories - certainly a time for reflection....As a child...snow...the bubbling Christmas tree lights - I loved those. 

Smell of fresh yeast rolls and my Grandmother's Holiday custard in a crock out on the back porch sitting in snow waiting to be served in beautiful crystal glasses.
  
A new bike.


As an adult - my first married Christmas in a small apartment in Warren, Ohio - and a beautiful Christmas tree all our own.  

In 1965, I was expecting my daughter, Heather on Christmas day - she came on the 28th. 

Christmas mornings with my children when they were filled with excitement and awe.  Good smells and family and friends in.  

1968, my son had been born on Thanksgiving Day; and putting his first Christmas ornament on the tree that Christmas - a beautiful Little Drummer Boy which he and his sons put on their tree each Christmas still.  


Christmas Day, 1989 My granddaughter, Jessica was born.  And, many, many other memories. ~"

     -by Shirley A. McElhaney, noted local artist and all around sweet and wonderful person, whose artwork has been displayed all over the world.


Sunday, December 21, 2014

My Favorite Christmas Memory by Josie Cara


My favorite memory of Christmas is my Uncle Pat playing Santa every year. As we got older, we knew who Santa really was but we never said a word. We enjoyed it so much and really thought we were outsmarting him! It's a great memory.
                                                                     - Josie Cara



Amazon Buy Link for IN A HEARTBEAT by Josie Cara:
http://www.amazon.com/Heartbeat-Josie-Cara-ebook/dp/B00HCEKLII/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1415570199&sr=1-1&keywords=josie+Cara









Saturday, December 20, 2014

Grief During the Christmas Season



Dear Gentle Readers,

Well, I am finally finished shopping, wrapping, and mailing and now would like to snuggle up on the couch with my wonderful husband and enjoy the holiday season. Christmas music, tree lit, a glass or two of Sweet Baby Red. Ahh...

And yet, in the midst of all this holiday cheer, it's hard not to look back with some sadness when we think of loved ones who are no longer with us. My father was the head and the heart of our family. Memories of Dad are entwined in every single Christmas activity.  "I'll Be Home For Christmas" always brings a tear or two. As these years roll by more and more dear, sweet people are gone.  And it's only natural to remember them and think of all the good times and love we shared with them.

It's okay to visit, but don't live there! Focus on the right now. Find something to enjoy right now. Loss is part of life. Don't let it consume your holiday.  As we age it is harder and harder and takes more conscious effort not to be sad, missing those who made us feel loved, unconditionally loved.

My Christmas short story Madison's Christmas deals with grief during the Christmas holiday. It is free today for the last time this year! It can be found at http://tinyurl.com/lys6yqj and I hope you get a chance to pick it up.

I wish each and every one of you a Merry Christmas and a happy, healthy 2015. We have today only once. Make the best of it.

Hugs,
Carol


Friday, December 19, 2014

Josey's Christmas Cookie Blog Tour

JOSEY'S CHRISTMAS COOKIE BLOG TOUR

BY SHARON KLEVE




FIVE STAR REVIEW
5.0 out of 5 stars A Lovable Story!
By Debby Lee

I loved this heartwarming Christmas story.
Josey was a workaholic who spent all her spare time at the office in order to cope with the tragic loss of her parents and being jilted by her fiance. I really felt for her.
Clint was a handsome veterinarian Josey met at an animal rescue event who helped her buy a large slobbering dog named Cookie. Clint handled the animals with professionalism, sincerity, and great care.
The two Morning Dove's in the story, Harry and Beatrice, were desperate to see Josey and Clint get together in time for Christmas.
If you enjoy sweet plots, whimsical animal themes, and stories that make you go "aaawww" this one's for you.
Highly entertaining, highly recommended!




Book Description:
In the blink of an eye, Josey lost the most important people in her life, her parents.

Can a hound dog named Cookie, a pair of mourning doves, and a passionate vet bring the holiday spirit back to Josey's life in time for Christmas?



EXCERPT:
As I stared at the pathetic dog in his diaper, I realized no one wanted the dog, they were just gawking at him. The sign said his name was Cookie, part Basset Hound and part Redbone Coonhound. I didn’t know anything about either breed. I did know he was very large and he was slobbering everywhere and he should have a diaper around his neck. I turned to continue my search and a felt a tug on my pant leg. I looked down and Cookie had a hold of my jeans. When our eyes met, Cookie's eyes twinkled, just like Clint's.

A glob of drool hit the top of my shoe. He let go of my pant leg and licked the goo off my shoe. I wanted to say, "gross," but instead I said, "thank you." I was hooked. His fur was a reddish brown and soft as silk. Not caring about drool or dog hair, I sat down on the floor next to Cookie, wrapped my arms around his neck, and finally felt at peace.

Another glob of drool hit the floor next to my butt. He looked sad, like that was a deal breaker and I'd leave him behind. I looked Cookie in his sad eyes and laughed. He pulled back his goofy lips and smiled back.

That's when I heard Clint's voice, "Well Josey, it looks like you found your soul mate."

He laughed, but not at my expense.



ABOUT SHARON KLEVE:


Sharon Kleve was born and raised in Washington and currently lives on the Olympic Peninsula with her husband.
Sharon is a multi-published author of paranormal and contemporary romance. She loves romance. She loves reading romance, living romance, and especially loves writing about romance. She gets no greater feeling than watching her characters come alive in each other's arms. Most of all, she loves giving her characters the happily ever after they deserve—with a few bumps and bruises along the way.
One of her favorite things to do is picking up a new book and sinking into the story, immersing herself in the emotions between the characters. She hopes to inspire her readers the same way her favorite authors have inspired her.
When not writing, she can usually be found either curled up in her recliner with her cat and a good book, or in the kitchen baking sourdough bread or bagels.



CONTACT SHARON HERE:










Thursday, December 18, 2014

Thoughts on Christmas by D.G. Kaye

Thoughts on Christmas
by D.G. Kaye


I love Christmas. I always have since I was a small child. The fascination began with the beautiful decorations and the presentspeople received and gave. As I grew older, I began to love it for the good spirit it seemed to evoke in many people in the festive season, and a time for bonding with friends and family.
I grew up raised as a Jew. We didn’t celebrate Christmas as children, yet I wanted so badly to share in the joy. 



Because we weren’t religious or hardly practicing Jews, I decided at the age of ten to make my younger siblings believe in the magic of Christmas and Santa. I took my allowance to the variety store and bought candies for all three of them, and when Christmas Eve approached, I hung stockings for them on our fireplace and placed the candies inside. I did this for a few years, and for those few years, they really believed there was a Santa and were so excited that he visited our home.


When I moved out on my own at eighteen, my homes were never without a Christmas tree. Later, I married a Catholic man and happily, Christmas became an important part of my life.

Amazon Link to D.G. Kaye's book: