Category Archives: love

BUSY is a four letter word!

I saw a report on the news last night that stated 1 in 5 KIDS under the age of 6 are stressed out. For teens, the number is 3 in 5 and for adults, 1 in 2  are feeling so stressed it is effecting their health, their happiness, and they psychological wellness.

These numbers staggered me. If this is the normal amount of people experiencing stress on a daily level, what the heck must it be like during the holiday season? Those levels must jump to the stratosphere.

I found this definition of stress in my computer’s dictionary: a state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or very demanding circumstances.

What is so demanding that 1 child in 5 under the age of 6 has to be stressed about? Well, the answer is probably clearer than I think. Single parent households, poverty, not having enough to eat, bullying. All those things will increase a kid’s stress levels, so I get that. Teens are so hormonally off the charts anyway, that the slightest tweak in a day can set their stress skyrocketings. Adults, well we all know the stressors attached to trying to make it in the world these days. Add in the very possible threat of nuclear war or a homeland terror attack and, well…’Nuff said.

The title of this blog is another factor in the stress I feel too many people around the holidays experience: we are friggin’ BUSY. Busy trying to squeeze in a little present shopping; having to attend the annual office party; getting the traditional cookies baked and wrapped and sent via a postal service that is getting more crippled every day. Then there’s the added stress of the relatives. People you’ve managed to avoid all year are now going to be sitting across from you at grandma’s table talking about stuff you’d rather not like politics, religion, healthcare.

Simple equation: BUSY + Holidays = STRESS. So when I call BUSY a 4 letter word, you know what  I mean.

Now, the antidote for all this stress, if there is one, should be bottled and given away for free. My simple solutions have worked well for me for years. I don’t stress out about all the stuff I need to do, places I need to go, or the people I absolutely need to see around the holidays anymore. This is what I do instead.

  1. Less is more in decorating. I used to decorate the entire inside of my house for Christmas. It got so cluttered I couldn’t move around in it. So, less decorations=less time decorating= less stress. ( Yes, I still have 4 trees, but 3 of them are little!)   
  2. You don’t need to have the party of the decade every year. I used to have a HUGE holiday party and did all the food prep. Yeah. It’s a wonder I wasn’t institutionalized for exhaustion after each one. Now, I have a simple, small dinner once a season with my closest friends, that I call a Christmas Comfort food Dinner. The menu is all comfort foods – mac and cheese, fried chicken, chili, and of course desserts. I tell my guests they can come in slippers, pajama pants, sweats, if they want. This is an evening filled with fun, good friends, and no stressing about what to wear, what to bring, and how long to stay. In fact, I have to shoo my guests sometimes out the door!!
  3. Do a Secret Santa for family gifts or have a Yankee swap. Now, I love presents, especially presents for me. This concept of not getting a present for and from every family member was a hard one for me to accept. But. In the end, it works out better. Less time spent trying to find the perfect gift for everyone, less time spent shopping and fighting the hoards, less time wrapping, carting, and obsessing if they’ll like it.  
  4. Realize the people you want to see and keep in touch with are the ones you already do. AKA, no Christmas cards. I stopped sending Christmas cards years ago because 1. it took forever to do, 2. I hadn’t seen nor heard from a lot of people on the list since college. With Facebook and other social media now, you can keep in touch with the people you really want to very easily. I don’t really care that a girl I spent one semester in college with now has six kids, all are traveling abroad ( and I’ve never met them) and she needs back surgery in the new year. I haven’t seen this chick since 1980. Wouldn’t know her if she passed by me on the street.  

Now, those are only 4 things I do to make the holiday season less busy and stressful. I’m sure you’ve got some good ideas as well. Share them in the comments section if you do!

And when I’m not busy – because I’m not! – you can find me here during the workday: Tweet Me//Read Me// Visit Me//Picture Me//Pin Me//Friend Me//Google+Me// Triber// Book Me

 ANd because I’m a shameless self promoter ( AKA WRITER!) another way to destress is to sit back and enjoy a good book. I’ve got one sale right now for one more day. It’s alittle Christmas tale of love and family and food. Enjoy:

A KISS UNDER THE CHRISTMAS LIGHTS.

 

Gia San Valentino is the beloved baby in her large, loud, and loving Italian family. Family dramas, passion, and food rule the San Valentino clan, and Gia takes it all in stride, her family the touchstone of her life. But with Christmas fast approaching she longs for a life and home of her own with a husband and bambini she can love and spoil. The single scene doesn’t interest her and the men her well-meaning family introduce her to are all wise guy wanna-bes, with old world views on women – the pregnant and barefoot kind – just the type of man she’s trying to avoid.

When Gia lends a helping hand at her neighborhood parish’s Christmas Festival she meets a guy who has all her requirements for perfect-man status. Tall, sweet, good looking, and from a big Italian family of his own, it seems she might finally have found a man she can give her heart to.

Tim Santini believes he’s finally found the woman for him, but Gia will take some convincing she’s that girl. A misunderstanding has her thinking he’s something he’s not.

 

Can a kiss stolen under the Christmas lights persuade her to spend the rest of her life with him?

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#HolidayBookSale Donna Simonetta and A SWEETER SPOT

One of my favorite Wild Rose Press sistahs, Donna Simonetta, is having a book sale just in time for the holiday gift-giving season. A SWEETER SPOT is on sale right now! Below is a little preview to tempt you! And believe me…you want to be tempted. I loved this book so much that I reviewed it!

 

A SWEETER SPOT

Blurb:

Magda knows a 28-year-old shouldn’t run away from home, but Rivers Bend is the ideal escape. Helping out her best friend will get her away from her uber-wealthy, controlling grandmother and duplicitous ex. She doesn’t expect the quirky little town to feel so much like home. Add in hotter-than-the-sun Jeff and his daughter, and leaving seems as unthinkable as it is inevitable.

Raising Sam alone, Jeff knew he wanted her to grow up in his supportive hometown. The arrival of a feisty new tenant sends Jeff’s world spinning. Magda fills a void in his life that he’d like to make permanent.

Will love triumph over the most powerful woman in the country, and can they figure out how to make this happy-for-now in Rivers Bend into their happy-ever-after?

 

Excerpt: 

An errant curl had escaped her grandmother- approved French Twist, and she tucked it behind her ear. She smiled and said, “I am. I’m Magda Horvath. Bethanne and her family are the only ones who call me Maggie. That’s how I know you are who you say you are. Even without the photo I.D.” She picked up the wallet and tossed it to him. He caught it one-handed and tucked it into the rear pocket of his shorts.

“Sorry. Do you prefer being called Magda?”

She rolled her eyes. “As long as you don’t call me Elizabeth, or any of its corresponding nicknames, I don’t really care.”

“Okay,” he drew out the word. “I don’t know why I would ever call you Elizabeth, but since it means that much to you, I’ll be sure I don’t. How about I go with Maggie? You look like a Maggie to me.”

He squatted and held out his hand to the dog. “Who’s this little cutie?”

Maggie readied herself to intervene in case Petunia snapped, as she sometimes did with strange men. “Oh! Don’t do that. She doesn’t like…” She abruptly stopped talking as Petunia walked to Jeff, sniffed his hand, and wagged.

Jeff seemed to realize the wagging was an invitation to pet her, and he scratched Petunia behind her ears. The little dog wagged so hard that Maggie was afraid her back end was going to break off, and her one eye was closed in bliss. As Magda watched her dog bask in Jeff’s attention, she had no doubt he could use those big hands to bring any woman to a state of bliss.

When he smiled up at her, his eyes crinkled, and Maggie could swear her heart stopped for a moment. He wasn’t handsome in the way Pierce was—all delicate bone structure and whippet thin. Combined with his baby-fine blond hair, Pierce was almost pretty. Jeff was all man. Tall and muscular with his messy brown hair that looked in serious need of a cut. He wore a sloppy T-shirt and olive colored cargo shorts, but the baggy clothes did nothing to hide the hard body underneath. His nose was just a little too big and a tad crooked, as though it had been broken. His tan skin stretched across strong cheekbones, but it wasn’t the kind of orange tan you got in a booth. It was the tan of a man who spent a lot of time outdoors. But it was those gray eyes, with the little laugh lines around them that really drew her to him. They were full of intelligence and kindness—now that he knew she wasn’t a trespasser.

“She doesn’t like what?”

Magda shook her head in amazement, “Men. She’d been abused before I got her, and she doesn’t usually like men.”

He grinned as the dog rolled on her back to reveal her belly for rubbing. He obliged, and winked at Magda. “Maybe she’s just been around the wrong men.”

Her and me both. Magda felt her knees go weak at his playful expression. Cold fish, indeed! Watching this man pet her dog had her hot enough to melt the zipper on her skirt.

Buy Links:

Amazon // Wild Rose Press // B&N // Amazon UK // KOBO //

Bio:

Donna Simonetta writes the kind of books she loves to read––contemporary romances filled with heart, heat, and humor, like the books of her favorite romance writers, Susan Mallery and Jill Shalvis.

A Sweeter Spot is the first book in the Rivers Bend trilogy, which is set in a fictional small town, populated by quirky characters. But if you prefer a big city setting and a little fantasy mixed in with your romance, try Angels Fly. A heartwarming story, set in beautiful San Diego, about getting a second-chance with your first love, with a little help from some unlikely guardian angels.

Writing is Donna’s third career. She has worked in the business world, which she decided it wasn’t for her. So she went back to school to get her MLS degree, and worked in a school library, before deciding to pursue writing on a full-time basis. Donna lives in Maryland with her husband, who is her real-life romance hero. They enjoy traveling to visit far-flung family and friends, and spending time on the beach with an umbrella drink and a good book.

 

You can connect with Donna here:

Facebook //Twitter // Goodreads // Amazon // BookBub

 

 

 

 

 

 

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#BookSale #99cents just in time for the Holidays!!

Long before Christmas, Long & Short Reviews gave A KISS UNDER THE CHRISTMAS LIGHTS #5stars – read why! http://ow.ly/zNcQ30gYApl The book is on Sale right now for just #99cents Give yourself a little holiday gift or the gift it to the romance reader in your life & order it today! Here’s the link: http://ow.ly/15A630gYArl

Blurb:

Gia San Valentino is the beloved baby in her large, loud, and loving Italian family. Family dramas, passion, and food rule the San Valentino clan, and Gia takes it all in stride, her family the touchstone of her life. But with Christmas fast approaching she longs for a life and home of her own with a husband and bambini she can love and spoil. The single scene doesn’t interest her and the men her well-meaning family introduce her to are all wise guy wanna-bes, with old world views on women – the pregnant and barefoot kind – just the type of man she’s trying to avoid.

When Gia lends a helping hand at her neighborhood parish’s Christmas Festival she meets a guy who has all her requirements for perfect-man status. Tall, sweet, good looking, and from a big Italian family of his own, it seems she might finally have found a man she can give her heart to. When a miscommunication has her believing he’s the new parish priest, her happily-ever-after hopes evaporate because he’s the proverbial forbidden fruit.

Or is he?

Buy Links:Amazon // Wild Rose Press  // Nook ( B&N) //

Excerpt:

He came toward me and I could see every ripple of muscle, every action and reaction of his gait, every blink of his eyes, as it happened. Detailed, distinct, delicious.

The bright sun shone low due to the hour, but it haloed around his form, bathing him in light.

He looked like an angel.

A dressed-all-in-black angel, but an angel, nonetheless.

“Need some help?” he asked when he was within a foot of me.

I still hadn’t moved, my fingers cemented around the ladder rungs. I couldn’t feel them anymore. Merda, I couldn’t feel anything I was so numb from just looking at him.

But I could hear. My blood, as it river-rafted crazily through my temples; my heart drumming like a heavy metal band in my chest.

And his voice. Mio Dio, his voice.

When I was six I had a terrible chest cold. Wheezing, choking on phlegm, unable to cough anything up. The doctor told mama to keep me warm and hydrated and the cold would ride itself out in time. Nonna Constanza, ancient even when I was a kid, scoffed and prescribed her own old world remedy. She sat me in her lap, cooing to me with her singsong voice and held a tiny shot glass up to my lips coaxing, “Tu bevi, Gia bambina. Tu Bevi.”

Drink, Gia baby. Drink.

She tilted the glass back into my mouth and I did. I drank every drop.

I don’t remember much after. Daddy told me later I slipped into a mini-coma for about sixty-two hours, bombed out of my head from the anisette nonna had dosed me with.

But this is what I do remember. The amber colored liquor slipped down the inside of my mouth to the back of my throat and onward into my belly, tasting of melted marshmallows and warming each place it touched like a million little hits of heat popping everywhere inside me. When it reached my tummy it settled and dug in, filling my senses with the sweet flavor of mama’s Sunday morning caramel rolls and sugar.

That’s what his voice sounded like: warm and sweet, thick, delicious, and soothing.

My entire body relaxed when I heard it. My paralysis flew and my frozen-in-place digits melted.

He’d held my stare the entire time, never wavering, never becoming distracted by something else. He looked straight at me; just me. Like a missile dead-eye-aimed for a target.

“Here,” he said, moving in closer, so close I could make out the actual color of his eyes now. I’d thought they were dark and from far away and they were. But seeing them now, face-to-face, I spotted little flecks of yellow and slivery shards of gold mixed into the center and surrounded by a ring of deep, rich, mink.

If his voice was warm and soothing, his eyes were hot enough to singe, and mama mia, I wanted to be burned.

 

 

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Hopeful…

 

 

See this picture? What do you notice first? The keyboard? The notebook? Or is your eye drawn to that Bridal Cake Christmas ornament?
Yeah, mine too.

I found the ornament in Michael’s Craft store the other day and bought it on the spot. Why you ask? Well, I’m gonna tell you.

I think I’ve mentioned in a few previous blogs that I’m the kind of person that puts action and intention behind wishes and dreams.

I made those wooden book holders for my books because I have a dream to someday be published in hardback, not only in digital and paperback. By making those boxes and placing my paperback books inside of them, it gave the illusion of a hardbound copy. So, see? Dream…intention…action….hopefully it’ll come true.

 

 

I’m using the ornament the same way, as:

  1. a reminder
  2. a talisman
  3. visual prompt

The reminder is for me to think good and positive thoughts about the new Bridal Series I just sent to an editor ( who asked for it!)

The talisman is for the ornament to–hopefully– bring me luck with getting these books published.

The visual prompt is so I stay focused because sometimes I start to lag a little when I’m waiting for things to happen.

Cute, isn’t it?
The next time you see that ornament on any of my social media will mean I have good news to share….

 

Tweet Me//Read Me// Visit Me//Picture Me//Pin Me//Friend Me//Google+Me// Triber// Book Me

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Why I love a #holidayRomance

So. There are probably going to be hundreds of blogs written in the next month by romance writers much more talented than I am about why we all love a holiday romance.

Be it a Hallmark movie, or a new theatrical wide-release Holiday RomCom, or even the plethora of new Christmas love stories that invade our Netgalley listings and Amazon review sites every year.

 

But, just why do we love a Holiday Romance story sosososo much? Valentine’s Day is the day devoted to Cupid and love. And yes, there have been a few movies and books devoted to that amorous day.

HeeHee – shameless plus!

But by and large, a Christmas themed romance book or movie just does — overall- better than any released at Valentine time.

Why?

I’m sure there are any number of reasons, but I’ve got a few of my own that I’d like to share.

First, the holidays tend to bring out the best in most of us. Oh, I know there are crabby, grumpy Scrooges out there – some I even know personally! And I’m not negating the people who suffer from depression, which can be heightened at this time of year. But overall, we collectively are happier during the holidays. And because we’re happier I think that tends to open our hearts up to the possibility of finding love. A Happy heart is an open heart, as a famous jewelry company keeps telling us!

Second is the Christmas Wish/Gift list. Most adults don’t physically write this list down on paper like they did as children. They tend to construct and keep it in their heads. And I just bet on every single man and woman’s mental wish list is a dream to meet the person of their, well, dreams. The guy or gal who will become their life partner. Their soulmate. And books and movies postulate that wishes and dreams DO come TRUE, so….

Third, Christmas Romance stories and movies all end HAPPILY. Like any good romance writer or romantic scriptwriter will tell you, you’ve got to make your characters go through hell and high water to achieve that everlasting love. As a romance reader myself – and not just a writer – I know that the more angst, turmoil, and tragedy the characters are put through, the more I root for them to wind up together in the end. I know what the ending will wind up being when I go it. It’s the journey I’m there to watch and read. And who doesn’t love a Happily Ever After ending?? Especially during the holidays!

Lastly, I always view the holidays as a time of rebirth. Sure, it’s Jesus’ birthday, and we should celebrate it like one, but for me, spiritually, it’s a time of rebirth, reorganization, and recognizing all the gifts I have. And  those gifts – the most precious ones – are the loves of my life! So, a holiday love story – whether it’s a finding a new love , or a retelling of an everlasting love, warms our hearts and make us just feel good.

I know there are oodles more reasons why Holiday romances sell well and touch our hearts, but to me, finding love and keeping it is the best!


I encourage everyone to see a new holiday love story this year and to read a new Christmas Romance novel. And as another shameless plug, I’ll offer mine up, here:

A KISS UNDER THE CHRISTMAS LIGHTS

With Christmas just a few weeks away, Gia San Valentino, the baby in her large, loud, and loving Italian family, yearns for a life and home of her own with a husband and bambini she can love and spoil. The single scene doesn’t interest her, and the men her well-meaning family introduce her to aren’t exactly the happily-ever-after kind.

Tim Santini believes he’s finally found the woman for him, but Gia will take some convincing she’s that girl. A misunderstanding has her thinking he’s something he’s not.

Can a kiss stolen under the Christmas lights persuade her to spend the rest of her life with him?

 

Click here for a preview: A Kiss

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Happy Thanksgiving from me to you

Thanksgiving means different things to different people. To me, it means being thankful and grateful I live in a country where I can try and make someone else’s life better. I wrote about this recently on Angela Haye’s THANKFUL AUTHORS blog. Pay it forward, in life and in Gratitude.

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The work never ends…..

While in the middle of NaNoWriMo2017  I received my proofs for my upcoming April 2018 release CAN’T STAND THE HEAT, book 3 in the WIll Cook For Love Series. Thanksgiving is this week. Christmas is but a calendar-page-turning away. Busy, much?

What’s that expression? When it rains, it pours??

Yesterday I sat – literally SAT – at my desk for 11 hours. 2 Bathroom breaks and one 10  minute stop to have lunch.

Not complaining — never complaining!– about too much writing/editing work. This is what I want my life to be, what I’ve dreamed of. What I wished it could be.

So, yeah. No complaints from this chickita.

(But a little sleep wouldn’t kill me! heehee)

If you need me, I can be found here when I come up from editing and writing for air:Tweet Me//Read Me// Visit Me//Picture Me//Pin Me//Friend Me//Google+Me// Triber// Book Me

 

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Let me brag for a minute…..

I hate doing this….braggin’ on myself. I wanted to write about my daughter and her first marathon but I already did that. So, I decided to brag on the one piece of good professional news I’ve gotten lately.

I came in 3rd place in the long contemporary category in the 2017 Pages from the Heart Contest.

YAY, me!

The last 2 times I entered an unpublished piece in this contest I  finaled as well and both those books went on to be published by Kensington/Lyrical Shine: Cooking with Kandy and A Shot at love ( which was originally titled Gemma’s Greek.)

The book that came in third this year is book 1 in my new Bridal series, so if history runs true to form…….you can finish that thought because I’m afraid if I say it’s gonna get published I’ll jinx it…

Duh! I just jinxed it!

Let’s see what the other authors in this #MFRWauthor blog hop have to brag on….

 

 

 

 

 

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I get to do this and call it research! #ILoveMyLife

So yesterday I went to a bridal expo.

Hold the batphone, you say. Aren’t you married? Like, for a thousand years?

Yup, true.

Then why did you go to a bridal expo? you ask.

Research, I say. Research.

Let me ‘esplain.

For NaNoWriMo this year, I’m penning a new romance series about a family in the wedding business. To add some truthfulness into the narrative, I said to myself, “Self? Why not contact a wedding planner?” And then when I was driving to the gym the other day, I happened to hear a commercial about an upcoming bridal expo at one of my favorite places in New Hampshire, Alyson’s Orchard.

As soon as I got home I emailed the manager of Alyson’s.   I introduced myself, told her I wasn’t a bride-to-be (Not even close!) but that I wanted to do some bridal industry research for my new romance series. Luckily, she said, yes, I could come to the expo!

It was so much fun. I met some very lovely wedding planners, got some ideas about what’s involved in putting together a dream wedding nowadays – since I did get married a millennium ago, things have really changed –  and basically had a blast talking all things bridal with the vendors at the expo. One of my favorite people? Wedding officiant Jane E. Rokes. We talked for quite a while on all things officiant-related.

God, I love research!!!!

When I’m not out doing fun stuff, er I mean, gathering research, you can find me here: Tweet Me//Read Me// Visit Me//Picture Me//Pin Me//Friend Me//Google+Me// Triber// Book Me

 

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The day that changed my life

Another week, another interpretation of this blog title. Personal? Professional? Neither? Both?

Okay, throwing that virtual dart on the wall again I’m gonna go with professional.

The day I pick is the day I learned I was going to have my first romance novel published BY A REAL PUBLISHER!!!!

I was at the 2014 RWA conference in San Antonio – my very first RWA conference.

I’d already gotten the email from Rhonda Penders, publisher of The Wild Rose Press, that she wanted to see my entire manuscript after I’d come in first place in a contest she’d judged for unpublished writers. I’d sent it along about a month previously to an editor, who coincidentally, told me she would be attending the conference and thought it might be nice to put a face to my “email voice.” We decided on a date and time to meet.

At the appointed hour I made my way to the registration desk and met with the person whom I’d been corresponding for the past month. She was absolutely lovely. We discussed many things – the conference, the weather in San Antonio – but we skirted around the topic of the book she was reading for me. I thought that was a telling sign: she hated it!

Finally, I had to get to another course so I shook her hand and thanked her for being so kind and gracious in meeting me. Before she let me go she said when I got home I would be receiving an email that might make me happy. In a word, WRP had decided they wanted my book for their list. It took me a second to realize she meant they wanted to publish it. A loooooooooong-ass second. I was so silent, standing there, still holding her hand, I fear she thought I was having a stroke or some kind of medical emergency.

The moment dragged on and I swear I couldn’t form a sentence right then if I’d been jolted by lightning.

Suddenly, a group of women walked by, all laughing, and that noise jarred me out of my paralysis. I smiled – or I think I did – squeezed her hand, and thanked her. Again. Like, five times! She laughed, told me I was welcome and encouraged me to  get  along to my course.

I don’t think I did. If memory serves, I went back to my room and cried. For an hour. I cried so much I had to redo all my makeup before that evening’s event.

I honestly don’t remember much more about that day because all I did was replay what she’d said about publishing my book on a virtual and continual loop in my head.

That was 2014 and I was a naive addition to the publishing community. Three years later and I know a little more about what to expect after signing that contract.

But even today, every time an editor tells me they want my book for their list, I still feel like that naive little publishing-virgin and have my Sally Field moment.

 

It’ll be fun to see what the other writers in this blog hop have decided is their best day. Click on their links to read what they’d written for today.

 

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