Tag Archives: #amreading #amwriting

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:



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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Filed under A kiss Under the Christmas LIghts, Author, Contemporary Romance, Cooking, Family Saga, Food lover, Foodie, love, Romance, Romance Books, WIld Rose Press AUthor

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.


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:


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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Filed under A kiss Under the Christmas LIghts, Author, Characters, Contemporary Romance, Family Saga, Foodie, love, Romance, Romance Books, Strong Women, WIld Rose Press AUthor

Opinions are like a body part—you know which one!

Recently, I’ve been seeing a lot of posts on author friend websites that start like this: “Just got a 2 star rating on my latest book. The reader really hated it. I’m out on a ledge! Send help!”

Well, maybe not that dramatic, but you get my meaning. The writer is upset because someone read and didn’t like their book and told “the world” through Amazon, or Goodreads, or whatever other venue they spew on. As a writer, I know how much this hurts. I wonder, do the readers know what this does to us?

Do they realize that reviews are the equivalent of  performance job reviews for us? And that just because a book didn’t resonate with them for whatever reason, it doesn’t mean it won’t with some other ( or thousands of!!!) reader(s)?

Do readers understand that places that sell our books like Amazon and Barnes and Noble, publish any and all reviews, not just the good ones? And that marketing plans, promotional updates, even placement decisions can and are made based on those reviews.

I had a person ( I use the term loosely) give me a 1 rating on a book that had nothing but 5 stars, stating I wrote the wrong story. I should have written the story of the subplot people as my main story. I wanted to respond to her review by stating, “No, bitch. I wrote the story I wanted to. If you thought it should be written differently, then you write that story, but don’t be bad mouthing me because you didn’t agree with what I wrote. How would you feel if I went to where you work and told everyone what a lousy worker you are? ” Now, of course, I didn’t do that. But I wanted to. I really did.

The whole review and rating system is cockeyed to me anyway. Most people who review it don’t even really understand the system. Think of it like you’re back in school. An A was 90-100, B 80-90, C 70-80, d 65-70 and anything below that an F. I’ve had reviewers write they loved the book but then gave it a 3. So, you loved it but it was only worth 70 points? And what does that 70 equate to, anyway? You can’t purchase 70 % of a book. Or 70 pages. Or pay 70% of the listed price.

See? The system is screwy.

I review new books for Netgalley. If I can’t rate a book as a 4 or 5, I don’t review it. It’s not because I’m basically a nice person ( because I’m not! Not even close.) It’s more that I know there was something about the book that didn’t resonate with me as a reader, but will, I’m sure, with someone else. I don’t think it’s my job, or place, to write a scathing review ( or a nasty one, or a snarky one). My books aren’t perfect and they don’t sit well with every reader, either. I put myself in the writer’s place when I’m reviewing and I know what a bad review does to my soul. I won’t intentionally hurt anyone’s feelings that way. The flip side is I’ve simply adored many books that other people rated 1,2, or 3’s and then wrote bad reviews of.

I recently replied to an author who was lamenting the poor rating she got on a book from a reviewer and was second-guessing her own writing ability. I wrote, “Opinions are like a**Holes: everybody has one, and reviews are basically opinions.” I meant it. One bad review does not end a career. It hurts the soul, deflates the ego, and causes tears, but ultimately, it’s just another opinion.

The kicker? as writers, we need reviews for marketing, promoting, and to get the word out about our books. Even some of the biggest bestsellers in history had some horrible reviews, though. And they still sold.

So. Reviews. A necessary evil for writers. My advice for bad ones? Develop a thick skin and laugh it off, because, ultimately, you published a book and the chances the reviewer did are practically nil, so you’re already ahead of the pack!

When I’m not reading my reviews, you can find me here: Tweet Me//Read Me// Visit Me//Picture Me//Pin Me//Friend Me//Google+Me// Triber// Book Me



Filed under Author, Contemporary Romance

#Goodreads #giveaway

T’is the season. Well, the shopping season. If you want to get a quick jump start on your holiday gift getting and you feel lucky, enter my GOODREADS GIVEAWAY for my Holiday book A  KISS UNDER THE CHRISTMAS LIGHTS. From 11.1-11.10 You can enter to win one of 5 signed copies ( USA residents only because, you know…shipping!) of the printed book and I’m including some special Holiday presents along with the books. SHHHHHH! only the winners will know what those are.

Think you might want to enter for a chance? Well, here’s a little sumthin’ sumthin’ to whet your appetites:

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?


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.

Or if you don’t want to enter the giveaway but would like the book to gift to yourself, a friend, SEVERAL FRIENDS (HeeHee), here are the buy links for the places you can find the book:

Amazon // Wild Rose Press // Kobo // Nook //

And if you need to find me, I’m usually here:  Tweet Me//Read Me// Visit Me//Picture Me//Pin Me//Friend Me//Google+Me// Triber// Book Me


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Filed under A kiss Under the Christmas LIghts, Author, Contemporary Romance, Cooking, Food lover, Foodie, love, Romance, Romance Books, Strong Women, The Wild Rose Press, WIld Rose Press AUthor


MY newest Trailer for A SHOT AT LOVE, releasing into the book reading world on 10.3.17

Buy links:

Amazon // B&N // Kobo //Apple i-books // Google

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Filed under Alpha Hero, Alpha Male, Author, Contemporary Romance, Cooking, Food lover, Foodie, Kensington Publishers, love, Lyrical Author, Romance, Romance Books, Strong Women, The Laine Women